Sai trust- will AP Govt take over now?

High level discussions are on in the Andhra Pradesh government with regard to the take over the Shri Sathya Sai Central Trust. Ever since the death of Sathya Sai Baba, the trust has been mired in one controversy after another.
Sources in the AP government said that they would wait a while before coming to a final conclusion on this matter. However as of now the discussions that are taking place do suggest that they would like the affairs in Puttaparthi to be on the lines of the Tirupathi temple. Currently at Puttaparthi there are only trustees selected by Baba who run the affairs. This means that the trustees have absolute control over the Rs 40000 crore empire left behind by Sathya Sai Baba.

Government sources further added that if at all this new model is acceptable to then the trust would have members of the government as well. There would be around 11 members in the new trust which would also include members of the Andhra Pradesh government. However some of the existing trustees would continue to be members, government sources also added.

Currently the government does not have any control over the trust. Not once has it even sought details about the trust in the past. However now with several issues dogging the trust the government has decided to act. While one option would be to take over the trust the other option is have control over it indirectly. Currently the trust enjoys an exemption which means that it has independent control over all the affairs. This means that the government has no control over the trust. Now the government is contemplating withdrawing that exemption. It would have to bring into play Section 154 of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997, which enables it to supervise the trust.

A final decision would however be taken in another 20 days since the trust has been served with a notice seeking details of all financial transactions made in the past 5 years. This would help the government ascertain whether there have been financial irregularities. Moreover there is a lot of pressure from the devotees and residents of Puttaparthi for the government to take over the trust. We don’t trust the trust is what one gets to hear in this temple town.

This matter is being presided by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Kiran Kumar Reddy. He has in his team senior cabinet colleagues, the Chief Secretary, members of the Endowment department and also officials of the state intelligence bureau.

Ponna Lakshmaiah the minister for Endowments in Andhra Pradesh says that once they get the report from the trust they would decide further on the matter. There have been some allegations and we find the need to look into it, he also said.

The government has however started taking this matter seriously. It transferred a deputy superintendent of police by the name Narasimhalu as it suspected that he was hand in glove with the trustees in siphoning off money. In addition to this the government has also roped in the income tax department to look into the financial affairs of the trust and would await that report. Further there is also an investigation on in which some trustees have been accused of moving Rs 35.5 lakh in cash from the Yajur Mandir. The trust has however denied this stating that this money belonged to the devotees.

Ratnakar, a trustee who is also Baba’s nephew however says that everything in the trust is clean and they had nothing to do with the money. They will provide all the details which will give the real picture, he also added.

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The Sai trust probe

The questioning of the members of the Shri Sathya Sai Central Trust is underway at Puttaparthi. The questioning is with relation to the missing Rs 35.5 lakh cash which was seized while being transported out of Puttaparthi a week back.
While the police have completed the questioning of Ratnakar who is also the nephew of Sathya Sai Baba, the interrogation of Srinivasan is underway.
Ratnakar during his questioning made it clear that the money never belonged to the Shri Sathya Sai Central Trust. He also told the police that the money was collected by the devotees and they were handing it over to a builder who was constructing the Samadhi for Baba at the Sai Kulwant Hall. Further he also substantiated his claims by stating that an application had already been filed before the Hindupur court by the devotees claiming the money that was seized by the police.
Srinivasan had more to answer since as per the claim of his driver Shekhar he was advised to transport the money on the advise of Srinivasan. Shekhar after his arrest had told the police that he was asked to take the car to the Yajur Mandir and park the car with the boot open. Later a bag full of cash was loaded into the car and then handed over to another man from Bangalore.
The Deputy Superintendent of Police, K Krishna confirmed that the money was being taken out of Puttaparthi, but did not specify whether it was from the Yajur Mandir. The Yajur Mandir which was the residence of Baba was opened a month after his death and the trustees found Rs 11.5 crore in cash and also gold and silver articles. These were later handed over to the bank in the presence of bank officials and Income Tax department officials.

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Is reading the Quran a SIMI activity?

The police say that the activities of the Students Islamic Movement of India has started and this is a worrying sign.The SIMI on the other says if reading the Quran or performing Namaz is considered to be activity, then there is very little to say since every Muslim as long as he is alive will continue to do this (perform Namaz and read the Quran).
Even as the legal battle to lift the ban on SIMI continues to be fought in the Supreme Court of India, the Madhya Pradesh police made a crucial arrest at the Kochi airport a couple of days. The man arrested was
Sainudeen Sainulabudeen, former president of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.The police claimed that he was being picked up in connection with a case at Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. His questioning will be crucial for the investigating agencies since they will not only look into the existing case on hand, but will also try and find out about the future plans of the SIMI which was banned over a decade back.
However security agencies are reading more into this case and say that the fact that he was arrested in a land which is the strong hold of SIMI is an interesting development. While this is the claim by the security agencies, Dr Shahid Badr Falahi the president of the SIMI at the time of the ban says that this is nothing but a build up for February 2012 when the ban on SIMI has to be re-imposed.
Although several persons in the SIMI state that all this is stage managed to build a case to re-impose the ban, the police say that there are many radicals within the outfit who feel that they should revamp and carry out strikes.
The activities of some of these cadres is still very much on and the point of revamp will be Kerala since they do enjoy a lot of moral support over there. They have deliberately moved out of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh their strong holds since the heat is too high over there. Kerala was a better option for them since there is not only political support for them, but many parts of this state especially, Malapuram, Nadapuram in Kannur and
the Vizhinjam and Poovar areas in Tiruvananthapuram are communally sensitive.
Over the past couple of months Intelligence Bureau inputs suggest that some cadres of the SIMI are becoming aggressive. They have been in touch with several elements sponsored by the ISI in a bid to revamp. The ISI has been missing a dedicated Indian wing to carry out terror strikes on Indian soil. They did manage to rope in some cadres of the SIMI for this purpose and did manage a lot of success at first. However following the ban, a lot of the cadres went underground and several others arrested. This led to the formation of the Indian Mujahideen which did show all of us its capabilities when it carried out a series of attacks across the country. The IB says that the re-vamp of either the SIMI or the IM will be under an entirely new name and this is largely done to confuse investigators.
However Dr Falahi considers all this as nonsense. We were expecting an arrest to take place and our doubts have been clarified. This is a trend that we have been witnessing since the past 5 years. The arrest of Sainudeen Sainulabudeen is nothing but an exercise to build up a case for the ban again next year. The police have decided that any member of the SIMI is nothing but an anti social. What activity are they talking about? If we read the Quran or perform Namaz, does that amount to acticvity? I sit down and speak with my friends and crack a couple of jokes and that becomes Jihadi activity? A Muslim is bound to perform Namaz or read the Quran. How does that become activity in police language? As long as Muslims are alive they will surely do these two things (read the Quran and perform Namaz).
The government will do everything it can to ensure that the ban continues. In any part of India if something wrong is done by a Muslim then they say he is a SIMI member.
Yes about this Safdar Nagori version to the SIMI is something that has been spoken about. I do feel that this is a creation of our security agencies. When I was the President and the day the ban was imposed, I was addressing a huge gathering. That is when the police came to arrest me and did so at the end of it. Nagori too was present at that meeting, but he escaped arrest. Since then he is considered to be a fugitive.
The hope for all us is very distant. The BJP banned us and this so called Secular Congress continued to act on the lie of the BJP. The ban keeps getting re-imposed and we continue to be banned despite we winning the case once before the Commission. Now we are back in the Supreme Court and the case is on. Well if at all we win, I do not know what the fate of SIMI would be.

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Yeddi prays, HDK swears, devotees rant

A political drama in Dharmasthala in Karnataka and the end result for chaos for the real devotees. The battle between Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa and former Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa was taken to Dharmasthala today where both had something to do.

Yeddyurappa was the first to reach Dharmasthala and he performed a prayer which lasted 15 minutes. This led to chaos since at this time none of the devotees were allowed into the temple and had to wait outside for the prayer to complete. The CM and his MLAs were greeted with protests by devotees who accused him of keeping them away from the darshan of their Lord Manjunatha. However the CM did not say anything before leaving the shrine.

Just when the devotees who have come from far and wide thought that they would get their darshan, it was the turn of H D Kumaraswamy to make his vows before the Lord. Kumaraswamy had said that Yeddyurappa had tried to buy peace with him in a bid to avoid getting exposed on corruption charges. Yeddyurappa had immediately retorted stating that there was no truth in it and challenged to promise the same at Dharasthala. Kumaraswamy while accepting the challenge threw back the same to the CM. The CM who accepted the challenge however decided against it at the last moment after being advised by the party’s high command not to mix God and Politics.

Kumaraswamy’s vows at Dharmasthala was a short affair today. On coming out he told reporters that he had sworn before the Lord that whatever he had said was true. He also said that he will take the battle to the streets and will embark on a state wide campaign to expose Yeddyurappa. I will not rest until he is ousted, he also warned.

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Elections-2011-Spendthrifts and misers

The manner in which the MLAs have spent during the recent assembly elections is something that needs to be looked into. Take for instance Tamil Nadu where the figures just do not match up.

The cash seized by ECI’s expenditure observers reached record levels in the last elections, with more than Rs 60 crores seized just from Tamil Nadu. However the analysis show that 76 MLAs declared that they did not spend any money on public meetings, processions etc. This despite each party and candidate claiming huge crowds in their rallies during elections.In Assam 126 MLAs together claim to have spent Rs 9.01 Lakhs, Kerala – Rs 9.39 Lakhs (139 MLAs), West Bengal – Rs 7.06 Lakhs (217 MLAs) and Tamil Nadu – Rs 7.12 Lakhs (234 MLAs), Puducherry – Rs 3.12 Lakhs (39 MLAs).This means that MLAs are claiming that the money spent by them in the recent elections on an average was way below the expense limit. It is 56% for Assam, 50% for Kerala, 39% for Puducherry, 44% for West Bengal and only 45% for Tamil Nadu.

In just one raid, Rs 5.11 crore were seized from a private bus in Tiruchirappalli. In another raid in Madurai, Rs 3.5 Crores were seized, however the highest expenses reported by any MLAs is mere Rs 15.99 lakhs. The top three declarations across the 5 assemblies are from Abu Taher Bepari of INC from Golakganj, Assam(Rs 15.99 lakhs), Smiti Monika Bora of INC from Gohpur, Assam (Rs 15.91 lakhs) and K.T. Pachaimal of AIADMK from Kanniyakumari, TN(Rs 15.73 lakhs).

The lowest expenses declared are by A Soundararajan of CPI(M) from Perambur, TN (Rs 75.6 thousand) followed by Namita Saha of AITC from Magrahat Purba, WB(1.14 Lakhs) and Kashinath Mishra of AITC from Bankura, WB(Rs 1.35 Lakhs). This is in spite of reports of large number of reports of distrubtion of freebies from across the states.

While there was huge discussion on paid news, most MLAs (376 of them) have declared that they did not spend ANY money on campaign through electronic/print media.

183 MLAs declared that they have not spent any money on campaign workers.

While most vehicles were found to be rented during elections and candidates travel in large cavalcades, 8 MLAs have declared that they did not spend any money on vehicles.

10 MLAs have declared that they did not spend any money on any type of campaign materials. 

The election expenses of all MLAs for the recent 5 assembly elections have now been analysed by the Association for Democratic Reforms in association with the National Election Watch. The candidates were to declare all of them within 30 days of election(by 13 June). It took ECI another week to put the scanned copies of them on the web (Jun 20).

There are still 2 days for people to critically analyse these expenses and challenge election of a MLA on under-reporting/hiding expenses.

Although the money power was blatantly at display during the recent elections, the new MLAs to these assemblies (TN, WB, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry) have shown the average amount of total money spent in their election to be only between Rs 3.12 lakhs and Rs 9.39 lakhs (39% and 59% of the limit) in their declarations to the Election Commission of India. Top three spenders from each state: Assam:Abu Tehar Bepari of the Congress spent Rs 15.99 lakh Monika Bora, Congress- Rs 15. 91 lakh Dr Nazrul Islam, Congress- Rs 15. 12 lakh

Kerala:

Basheer, Muslim League- Rs 15.24 lakh

Kunjalikutty, Muslim League-Rs 13.99 lakh

B Sathyan, CPI(M)- Rs 13. 80 lakh

West Bengal:

Smita Bakshi, All India Trinamool Congress- Rs 15.66 lakh

Hamidul Rehman, Independent- Rs 15.21 lakh

Amal Acharjee, AITC- Rs 14.16 lakh

Tamil Nadu:

Pachaimal, AIADMK- Rs 15.73 lakh

Dr Krishnasamy, Puthiya Thamilagam- Rs 15.35 lakhAnita Radhakrishnan, DMK- Rs 15. 04 lakh

Puducherry:

 E Valsaraj, Congress, Rs 5.30 lakhG Nehru, All India N R Congress- Rs 5.12 lakh M Chandrakasu, All India N R Congress- Rs 4.49 lakh

The lowest:

A Soundarajan of CPI(M) from Perambur Constituency in Tamil Nadu- Rs 75000

Namita Saha of the AITC, from the Magrahat Purba constituency in West Bengal- Rs 1.14 lakh

Kashinath Mishra of the AITC from the Bankura constituency in West Bengal- Rs 1.34 lakh

The zero spenders:

Bhupen Ray (AGP- Assam), P R N  Thirumurugan (Congress, Puducherry), A R Ranganathan (AIADMK-Tamil Nadu) and 73 others have declared that they have not spent a single penny  for public meetings, processions etc. There are 376 MLAs from all five states who have stated that they have not spent anything on campaign through electronic/print media. 183 MLAs have stated that they have borne zero expenditure on campaign Workers during the elections. Eight MLAs have declared that they have not spent any money on the use of vehicles during campaigns while 10 have stated that they have not used any money for campaign material.

Who spent what these elections?

While we saw blatant use of money power during the recent elections for five assemblies, the newly elected MLAs have claimed in their expense statements submitted to the Election Commission that they spent money well below the prescribed limit. Many have claimed that they spent no money on organizing public meetings, or on engaging vehicles or on advertisements during elections. Now here is the analysis of election expenses submitted by the new MLAs for 3 assemblies that went to polls recently – Assam, West Bengal and Kerala. The report was prepared by the Assocation for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch.

In all the states the average election expenditure for all MLAs is between 7 to 9 lakhs though the expense limit is up to 16 lakhs MLAs in Assam and 3 MLAs from West Bengal have declared that they have not spent any amount on Public meetings, processions etc.163 MLAs from West Bengal, 95 MLAs from Assam and 54 MLAs from Kerala have declared that they have not spent any amount on Campaigning through Electronic/Print media.

53 MLAs from West Bengal, 34 MLAs from Assam and 39 MLAs from Kerala have not spent any amount on Campaign workers; MLAs from West Bengal have declared that they have not spent any amount on use of vehicles.

3 MLAs from West Bengal and 2 MLAs from Assam have declared that they have not spent any amount on campaign materials like banners and posters or on erections of gates, arches etc.

West Bengal:

Based on the election expense declarations of 217 newly elected MLAs of West Bengal to the ECI, the average amount of money spent by them in the elections is only about 7 lacs which is about 44% of the expense limit (16 lacs).

The average election expense declared by MLAs party-wise for INC’s 33 candidates was Rs 10,35,887 (10 Lacs+), for AITC’s 129 candidates was Rs 7,06,881 (7 Lacs+) and for CPI(M)’s 32 candidates was Rs 4,47,923 (4 Lacs+). 1 Independent candidate’s declared election expense was 15,21,610 (15 Lacs+).

Only 6 MLAs have declared that they have spent more than 80% of the amount (i.e. over 13 lacs).

A total of 147 MLAs have declared election expenses less than Rs 8 Lacs (that is less than 50% of Expense Limit set by ECI).

The maximum expense of 15,65,034 (15 Lacs+), has been declared by Smita Bakshi of All India Trinamool Congress from Jorasanko constituency, followed by Hamidul Rahman, an Independent from Chopra constituency (expense of around 15 lacs) and Amal Achargee of All India Trinamool Congress from Itahar constituency (expense of around 14 lacs).

The minimum expense of 1,14,489 (1 Lac+) has been declared by Namita Saha of All India Trinamool Congress from Magrahat Purba constituency. She is followed by Kashinath Mishra of All India Trinamool Congress from Bankura constituency with election expense of around 1.3 lacs and Bulu Chik Baraik of Mal constituency with election expense around 1.4 lacs.

Expense on Public Meetings and Processions: Out of all the 217 MLAs analyzed, 3 declared that they did not spend any amount on public meetings, processions etc. as per their election expenses.

Expense on Campaigning through electronic/print media: 163 MLAs have declared that they did not spend any amount on campaigning through electronic/print media. 26 MLAs have spent less than 10 thousand on the same.

Expense on Campaign Workers: 53 MLAs have declared that they did not spend any amount on Campaign workers. 26 MLAs have spent less than 10 thousand on the same.

Expense on Vehicles Used: 3 MLAs have declared that they did not spend any amount on vehicles used during campaign.

Expense on Campaign Materials and Erection of gates, arches etc.: A total of 3 MLAs have declared that they did not spend any amount on erections of gates, arches, cutouts, banners and Campaign materials, like handbills, posters, video, audio cassettes, loudspeakers.

Kerala:

The average election expense declared by MLAs party wise is Rs 10,54,247 (10 Lacs+) for Muslim League’s 19 MLAs, for INC’s 38 MLAs it was Rs 10,04,103 (10 Lacs+), for CPI(M)’s 45 MLAs it was Rs 8,12,140 (8 Lacs+), and for CPI’s 13 MLAs it was Rs 8,91,560 (8 Lacs+)

Only 4 MLAs have declared that they have spent more than 80% of the amount (i.e. over 13 lakhs).

A total of 39 MLAs have declared election expenses less than Rs 8 Lacs (that is less than 50% of Expense Limit set by ECI).

The maximum expense of 15,24,665 (15 Lacs+), has been declared by Basheer of Muslim League from Eranad constituency, followed by Kunhalikutty of the Muslim League from Vengara constituency (expense of about 14 lakhs) and Adv. B. Sathyan of CPI(M) from Attingal constituency (expense of about 13 lakhs).

The minimum expense of 2,49,667 (2 Lacs+) has been declared by K. Kunhiraman of CPI(M) from Udma constituency. He is followed by Jayalakshmi of INC from Mananthavady with election expenses of about 4 lakhs and K.K. Jayachandran of CPI(M) from Udumbanchola with expenses of 4.5 lakhs.

Expense on Public Meetings and Processions: 8 MLAs have declared that they have spent less than 10 thousand rupees on public meetings, processions etc. in the last elections.

Expense on Campaigning through electronic/print media: 54 MLAs have declared that they have not spent any amount on campaigning through electronic/print media. 19 MLAs have spent less than 10 thousand on the same.

Expense on Campaign Workers: 39 MLAs have declared that they have not spent any amount on Campaign workers. 13 MLAs have spent less than 10 thousand on the same.

Assam:
The average election expense party wise (for MLAs) show that the average spending for INC’s 78 MLAs was Rs 10,12,448 (10 Lacs+), for BPF’s 12 MLAs was Rs 8,26,773 (8 Lacs+), for AGP’s 10 MLAs was Rs 7,45,609 (7 Lacs+) and for AIUDF’s 18 MLAs was Rs 6,36,252 (6 Lacs+).

Only 7 MLAs have declared that they have spent more than 14 lakhs as their election expense. A total of 46 MLAs have declared election expenses of less than Rs 8 Lacs (that is less than 50% of Expense Limit set by ECI).

The maximum expense of 15,99,057 (15.99Lacs+), has been declared by Abu Taher Bepari of INC from Golakganj constituency, followed by Smti Monika Bora of the INC from Gohpur constituency (expense of about 15.91 lakhs) and Dr. Nazrul Islam of INC from Laharighat constituency (expense of 15.12 lakhs).

The minimum expense of 1,73,628 (1 Lacs+) has been declared by Abul Kalam Azad of AIUDF from Bhabanipur constituency. He is followed by Moinuddin Ahmed of AIUDF from Jaleswar with election expenses of about 2.12 lakhs and Rakheswar Brahma of BPF from Mazbat with expenses of 2.84 lakhs.

Expense on Public Meetings and Processions: Out of all the 126 MLAs analyzed, 9 declared that they have not spent any amount on public meetings, processions etc. as per their election expenses. 3 MLAs have spent less than 10 thousand on the same.

Expense on Campaigning through electronic/print media: 95 MLAs have declared that they have not spent any amount on campaigning through electronic/print media. 7 MLAs have spent less than 10 thousand on the same.

Expense on Campaign Workers: 34 MLAs have declared that they have not spent any amount on Campaign workers. 4 MLAs have spent less than 10 thousand on the same.

Expense on Vehicles Used: 19 MLAs have declared that they have used less than a lakh on vehicle use 11. Expense on Campaign Materials and Erection of gates, arches, banners etc.: A total of 2 MLAs have declared that they have not spent any amount on erections of gates, arches, cutouts, banners and Campaign materials.

CMF award for SSRS

Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar became the first Indian to receive the Crans Montana Forum Award. This award has also been won by persons like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israel President Shimon Peres, former leader of Palestine Liberation Organisation Yasser Arafat, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev.
On conferring the award to Ravishankar, Jean Paul Carteron, founder of the Crans Montana Forum said, “In you, the East is not only leading the world in spirit, but in action as well. You have broadened the vision of those who are more fortunate and have shared with the less fortunate. If your teachings were followed by politicians, the world would be a different place.”

On receiving this award, Sri Ravishankar said he would share it with all those millions who are silently working to make the world a better place.

Devotees want trustees out

Taking matters to the streets, several devotees of Sathya Sai Baba held protests in Puttaparthi over the alleged mis use of funds by the members of the Shri Sathya Sai Central Trust.
The protest took place in the backdrop of police cases being filed after Rs 35.5 lakh in cash was being transported illegally out of the Yajur Mandi, Baba’s residence.
The devotees who took to the streets said that they have no faith in the trust any longer. An inquiry needs to be conducted into the functioning of the trust. Moreover the money which has come as donations from across the world should be put to right use and not misappropriated.
There have been several contreverisies surrounding Puttaparthi ever since Baba passed away. The police have also decided to interrogate two members of the trust in connection with the case pertaining to the missing cash of Rs 35.5 lakh.

Samjautha & ors-NIA has much to do and undo

Samjautha Express- pic, dailybhaskar
There was one thing common where the Samjautha Express, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts are concerned. All these three cases today as per the investigations are inter-linked and it is only a matter of time before the National Investigating Agency closes these cases.
The NIA has a dual job in all these cases now. Apart from having a lot to do they also have a lot to undo in all these cases. When one takes into account all these cases, at least 110 members from the Muslim community were arrested after being blamed for these attacks. While many of the accused in the Mecca Masjid blasts were let off by the court after investigations took a different turn, the same exercise will have to be conducted in the other cases as well.

Slow on Ajmer and Hyderabad:
The NIA will however be bundled with problems before all these cases come to a close. They have managed to file the chargesheet in the Samjautha case and sources say that this was done first only because of the international ramifications it has. Moreover it was also a means of putting pressure on Pakistan to act in the 26/11 case.
Activists from Hyderabad and Ajmer however say that they wished the same speed was applied in these two cases as well. Lateef Mohammad Khan from Hyderabad says that the situation is the same in Ajmer and Hyderabad and there are a lot of people awaiting justice. Only once the NIA files its chargesheet in both these cases will the innocent youth be able to rest in peace. These activists say that the accused persons in all these cases are more or less the same. However they are hoping that the probe would pick up since at the moment it appears as though these two cases have come to a stand still.

Arif Qasmani:
While this is one part of the case the other question that is being asked by several persons is the UN report relating to the Samjautha case. The UN report dated 2009 still shows Arif Qasmani, a close Dawood Aide as the key plotters of the Samjautha express blasts. Qasmani a resident of Karachi who today facilitates the movement of Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan is shown as one of the main accused in this case. It is said that he had raised funds through Dawood to fund this attack.
The Samjautha chargesheet however does make any mention of this which would mean that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba angle is not being looked into. So far as the UN report goes that would be changed once the trial is complete and the information sent across. However what investigators say is that Qasmani continues to be a major threat to India and what they have been able to ascertain is that he was the major player in the 2006 train blasts.

The Confession:
While the NIA was never easy thanks to the multiple angles in all these case, the job was made slightly easier with the confession of Swami Aseemanand. However today he has decided to withdraw the confession stating that it was done under duress. The NIA however points out that confessions are never the sole aspect of a chargesheet. The leads are picked up from the confession and independent investigations are conducted based on those leads. The withdrawal of the confession would not have any impact on the case. The links and the roles of these persons have been ascertained and now the battle is before the court. His confession also covered both the. Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts and this withdrawal will not have any impact on any of these cases, investigators also pointed out.

Indresh Kumar: This was one of the names that did the rounds all through the past few months. However Kumar has not been shown as an accused in the Samjautha chargesheet. No doubt that the NIA dug very deep into this particular angle of this case, but the fact was that the material which was found on him was not convincing enough to name him as an accused in the case. The investigators however point out that this is no indication that a clean chit has been given. It is just that more evidence needs to be brought forward in order to even name him in the case.
Moreover the case relating to Kumar is not a simple one. Considering the position that he holds any wrong move could have horrible political ramifications and hence the NIA would want to tread carefully on this aspect.
Indresh Kumar was once questioned by the CBI and is likely to be questioned by the NIA too. They would also be exploring the alleged rivalry between Colonel Purohith and Indresh Kumar in order to get further leads on this angle to the case.

The absconders:
While it is believed that the Ajmer, Samjautha and Mecca Masjid blasts were carried out by one module while the Malegaon blasts were staged by another, investigators would continue to see if the two are linked. Sunil Joshi, Ramji Kalsanghra and Sandeep Dange are the common persons in all these attacks. Swami Aseemanand too had spoken about Kalsanghra and Dange stating that they had bombed Malegaon.
While investigators feel that the big fish have been netted in all these cases, there are many aspects that remain incomplete thanks to the fact that two very crucial operatives are still missing. Dange and Kalsanghra are very crucial not only to the case but also to the busting of these modules. Take all the blasts mentioned above. These two were part of each and every meeting. They have taken part in meetings convened by Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Sunil Joshi and also Aseemanand. Moreover these were not ordinary foot soldiers and had ample information on the functioning of the entire module. The duo were extremely close to Sunil Joshi (now dead) who is considered to be the big boss of all these operations. In fact it was Joshi who wanted the Samjautha express blasts to be carried out as he wanted to eliminate the Pakistanis on the train. Not only will the duo provide information on all the operations and the manner in which the modules have been functioning, but they will also be able to help investigators find more clues on the Joshi murder, which again is suspected to be an insider job.

Lokpal- The command for the govt was from just one place

Photo courtesy: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/
The Lokpal Bill will be a damp squib and that is a known fact. The government however thinks that this the best that could have come out but the members of the drafting panel feel that the people of India have been given a raw deal.

There were many things that went through during the various meetings the two sides had and surprisingly enough, Justice Santhosh Hegde, the Lokayukta of Karnataka who was one of the members of the panel says, “ I have no doubt, but the government’s draft of the bill was ready well in advance, infact before the deliberations began. In this interview with rediff.com, Justice Hegde also goes on to say that there was never a difference of opinion within his panel and also adds the government too was always united since they always got their directions from one command.

Sir, what exactly went wrong? There was a lot of promise that we would have a good Lokpal bill.

Today when I look back, I feel that the government never wanted this bill to be what it should be. The initial few meetings started off on a cordial note and we all thought that they were serious about implementing a strong and good bill. However now what I realise is that they always had a pre-conceived notion about what the Bill was going to be and also how they wanted it to be.

There was a difference of opinion in the government panel and also yours. The media is abuzz with this talk. Is this true?

Difference of opinion in the government? That sounds like a joke. They were always together on this and were very prepared at all times. I would have to say that our panel had an open mind. There were differences when we used to meet before the actual meeting. Now that is democratic in nature. Give me one instance when any of our panel members have come out and spoke out against each other. Never have we ever done that which only shows that we were united.

Take us through the meetings.

We went into all these meetings with an open mind. All of us were very optimistic about this as we all wanted a good bill. Considering that this was a meeting, we did think that we could also put forth our views and also argue if we thought that something was wrong. Everything was cordial at first and as the meetings progressed they began to talk tough. This came as quite a surprise because the same people from being polite went on to talk very hard with us.

All of you are very experienced people. How did you let the government bully you?

Look, as I said they were polite at first. They spoke about procedure also. Yes in the meetings when we wanted to discuss the contentious issues, we were given an impression that it would be done during the later meetings. However only after a couple of meetings did we realise that there was no way in which we could argue with them because they never had an open mind. It was at this point of time that we realised that they were never interested in a Lok Pal bill.

The government always gave the people the impression that the two committees were in agreement.

Yes that is correct. They did come out and say that 50 per cent of the issues were agreed upon. That is correct. But these are issues that hardly matter and what you would see in the final bill too. There are other contentious issues which all of you know about which needed to find a mention in the final bill. This is where the disagreement began.

You said earlier they had a pre-conceived notion. What do you mean by that?

The government said that 50 per cent of the issues were agreed upon. The balance was the important aspect to the bill which they just refused to discuss. You may not believe it, but we are now convinced that the draft of the bill was ready well before the meetings started. We realised this when the draft was given to us. Some issues that were never discussed in the meetings were part of that draft. Now this raises a suspicion. How can issues that are never discussed form part of the draft. Don’t you think when there is a discussion between two parties both parties have the right to know what has to be included and what does not? We had suggested that the Prime Minister, the leader of opposition, two Supreme Court judges and the CAG be part of the selection committee for the Lokpal. At that point of time they said that we must include the chairpersons of both Houses as members of the selection committee. We accepted it. However in the draft we got to see that they had introduced only politicians and bureaucrats into this panel apart from two other judges. Now this was not something that was discussed. How did this find a mention in the draft?

Other the issue of the Prime Minister what was the biggest difference between the government and you?

There is this provision which states that an accused be given an opportunity before a chargesheet is filed. Now that defies criminal jurisprudence in totality. If when the charges are being framed an accused has the right to approach the court and seek quashing of the charges against him. Why should an investigating officer give that right to the accused?

Are you sure that your team stood united at all times?

Yes I can vouch for that. There was never any issues between us. Yes in our meetings there were differences. But that is normal. When we went before the government’s panel we had just one view. In the private meetings we have had our differences but that is democratic Difference of opinion is only if u come out publicly and speak about it.

There is talk that you had a problem with Anna Hazare.

This government can go to any extent to create things. Yes I had written an letter to Anna Hazare. All I said was instead of sitting on a hunger strike, it would be better if you went to different parts of the country. Why make the people come to the place where you are fasting, instead you go to the people I had written to him. Now would you call this a difference of opinion or a problem? This is just a suggestion and the two of us have no problems.

Was the government united?

They can never have a difference of opinion because their command comes from one place. They can never go against their command and hence everything is pretty much decided well in advance.

When do you plan to give us recordings of the meetings?

I have asked for it. Those tapes have to come out in order to expose the government. We have asked for it and the finance minister has said that he will decide on it. We are on the job.