Why these low intensity blasts?

A low intensity blast outside Delhi High Court. Photo courtesy: The Hindu

It has often been asked as to why groups such as the Indian Mujahideen have been resorting to lower intensity blasts over the past couple of years. The group is existent, but the gusto with which they carried out attacks in the past appears to be missing.
Police officials in Bangalore and the Maharashtra ATS say that this is an intentional ploy on their part aimed at not angering the majority community in India.
One had wondered whether the Indian Mujahideen looking for resurrection was down and out. While this is largely the case there is also the issue which the IM faces and that is they do not want to be forgotten. Police officials in both the above mentioned states say that the IM operatives did realise that there was a lot of counter reacting that took place after a series of attacks carried out by them. The IM has always wanted to ensure that they act as heroes of the Muslim community. However after the first spate of blasts which claimed nearly 150 lives they witnessed that the majority community was extremely angered. Even members of their own community were up in arms against these attacks as these blasts only resulted in a back lash which made it difficult for them to live. The additional worry was also some fanatics in the majority community trying to target the minorities in retaliation to the actions of the IM.
The IM faced a problem after a spate of arrests weakened their top leadership. They were forced to go into oblivion and stay back doors for a while. the IM was desperate to make its presence felt and hence started to regroup in small numbers and plan a series of attacks. However according to police in Bangalore some of the operatives told them that it was an intentional act to keep the blasts as low intensity. The IM felt that on one hand it was necessary to remain in circulation and on the other it was also necessary to ensure that the casualties were a bare minimal. Hence it had been decided that the intention would be more to scare than to destroy.
Police officials say that it is not as though the IM lacks the expertise to make bigger bombs or procure equipment. While the fear of a backlash was one part of the reason the other was also to ensure that the heat was low and this could be achieved only through an operation on a smaller scale.

Mining- Spinning out of control

Photo courtesy: downtoearth.org.in

A report by the Human Rights Watch running into 70 pages shows that mining in India is out of Control.
The report released in Goa today titled “Out of Control: Mining, Regulatory Failure and Human Rights in India,” finds that deep-rooted shortcomings in the design and implementation of key policies have effectively left mine operators to supervise themselves. This has fueled pervasive lawlessness in India’s scandal-ridden mining industry and threatens serious harm to mining-affected communities. Human Rights Watch documented allegations that irresponsible mining operations have damaged the health, water, environment, and livelihoods of these communities.
“Mining operations often cause immense destruction when government doesn’t exercise proper oversight,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “India has laws on the books to protect mining-affected communities from harm, but their enforcement has essentially collapsed.”
India’s government has systemically failed to ensure that the country’s 2,600 authorized mining operations adhere to key human rights and environmental protections under Indian law, Human Rights Watch found. These problems are related to and have facilitated a series of high-profile corruption allegations in the mining industry that have rocked India in recent years. Illegality in the mining sector has deprived state governments of badly needed revenues, threatened the industry with costly and unpredictable shutdowns, and generated political chaos that helped bring down two state governments in 2011 and 2012.
The Human Rights Watch report is based in part on interviews with more than 80 people in Goa and Karnataka states, as well as in New Delhi, including residents in affected communities, activists, and mining company and government officials.
Farmers in Goa and Karnataka say that mining operations have destroyed or polluted vital springs and groundwater supplies. Overladen ore trucks throw off clouds of iron-rich dust as they pass through rural communities, destroying crops and potentially damaging the health of nearby families. In some cases, people who speak out about these problems have been threatened, harassed, or physically attacked, while government authorities failed to address their grievances.
These and other human rights problems in the mining industry are linked to deep-rooted government failures of oversight and regulation, Human Rights Watch said. Some key regulatory safeguards are virtually set up to fail because of poor design. But in many cases, the problem is that implementation is so shoddy that it renders relatively good laws ineffective, Human Rights Watch found.
“Mining scandals may grab headlines, but the root causes of India’s mining problems are more basic,” Ganguly said. “The government has encouraged lawlessness by failing to enforce the law or even monitor whether mine operators are complying with it.”
Indian law, like that of many other countries, situates core human rights protections somewhat awkwardly within regulatory frameworks designed primarily to mitigate the environmental impacts of mining operations. This places much of the responsibility for monitoring and enforcement with India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The government has sufficient authority to correct the serious flaws in the existing regulatory framework, Human Rights Watch said. For instance, the government relies on mining companies to commission and produce the “independent” Environmental Impact Assessments that are used to gauge a proposed mining project’s likely environmental, social, and human rights impacts. This creates an unnecessary conflict of interest that could be solved by giving regulators the central role in commissioning those studies. The assessments also tend to give short shrift to human rights issues, focusing overwhelmingly on purely environmental concerns.
Enforcement is an even bigger problem, Human Rights Watch found. Regulatory institutions are hopelessly overstretched. A few dozen central government officials are tasked with overseeing the environmental and human rights impacts of every mine in India – and many other industries as well. This makes in-field monitoring a practical impossibility, forcing the government to rely almost exclusively on information provided by mine operators themselves. Many state government oversight bodies have even less capacity to implement their challenging mandates. As a result, government regulators have no idea how many mining firms are complying with the law or how many communities have been harmed by illegal practices.
Similar problems pervade the process for approving new mining operations. Regulators often rely exclusively on the Environmental Impact Assessments commissioned by mining firms to determine whether to allow a project to go forward. Field visits are rare and projects are considered and approved at such a rapid pace that there is no time for serious scrutiny of the conclusions of the environmental impact reports.
Yet the evidence shows that those reports are often rife with incorrect or deliberately misleading information. Under this framework, approval for new mining and other industrial projects is almost never denied. Many currently operational mines may have been given approval to proceed on the basis of false information about potential harm to neighboring communities.
The central government has taken some tentative steps toward improving oversight – like requiring companies to choose from a list of accredited firms to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments. But the reforms have not gone nearly far enough. Human Rights Watch urged the government to adopt a number of pragmatic policy recommendations to narrow some of the most important regulatory gaps.
“Mining is an important part of India’s economy, but that does not mean the industry should be allowed to write its own rules,” Ganguly said. “The government can and should empower regulators to do their jobs more effectively than they can today.”

Extradition of Headley, capture of Saeed- It is a joke!

Stephen Tankel (pic credit-http://www.american.edu)

India saying that it is making efforts to extradite David Headley is nothing short of a sham. No matter what India may say about the extradition of David Headley it is a given that it is something that will not happen and that is thanks to the pre-deal that he has struck with the government in the United States of America.

Stephen Tankel author of the book, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba who is also a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and assistant professor at American University says that it is just not helpful when Indian officials keep saying that they would seek the extradition of David Headley. Tankel who is in India to study Home Grown terror says in this interview with rediff.com that the issue of extradition is nothing but a non starter.

The pet subject with the United States of America today is David Headley and Tawwahur Rana. Your thoughts on the same.

Speaking of  Tawwahur Rana, some of us who followed the trial were a bit surprised he was convicted of providing material support to LeT, but not of any involvement in the 26/11 attack. But then gathering information and presenting evidence in court sufficient to secure a conviction are two different things. In terms of Headley, my understanding is he provided a significant amount of information in return for a plea arrangement to avoid either execution or extradition. I can understand why Indians feel they got a raw deal on this, though Headley’s hardly the first person to be offered a plea deal in return for information, a lot of which has been shared with India via the National Investigating Agency.

India however does expect still that Headley is extradited.
Indian officials can continue to assert they are making efforts to extradite David Headley, and they may well be doing so. But given that he made what I understand to be a legally binding plea arrangement with the U.S. to avoid extradition it’s difficult to imagine how he could be extradited.

What about seeking the extradition of Rana?

My understanding is he is currently appealing his convictions, so that complicates the issue at present. I can’t speak to how this will play out in the future, though my sense is that arranging extradition will prove elusive for the Indian authorities.

You have been in India nearly three weeks now and studying an important subject. How has it been so far?

A lot of my discussions have revolved around foreign policy and security and I’ve found the bureaucratic and political classes to be more open about these issues than in the past. To me, this is a healthy trend.

Speaking of foreign policy what does the United States have to realise about India’s position on various issues?
I’m struck by the increasing use of the term realist to describe how Indian policymakers are engaging internationally. To me, that’s in line with how the United States views the world, but it also means that US policymakers need to understand that  means India will act in its own national interest. Overall, my sense is cooperation is good across a number of areas and could become even deeper. But that does not mean there won’t be areas where the two countries diverge, which is something policymakers in both countries and especially the US will need to accept.

You were in Pakistan and now in India. What are the great challenges between these two countries?

From a security perspective, India’s greatest challenge at present is not a conventional conflict with either Pakistan or China. Rather, internal security issues pose perhaps the greatest challenge, though of course in the case of jihadist violence there are apparent links with Pakistan. But neither the Indian Mujahideen or the Naxalites, or any other internal security challenge for that matter, poses an existential threat for Pakistan. They are all manageable, though of course India is wise not to ignore them. More broadly, these internal security challenges are in some ways symptoms of wider challenges in the areas of governance and economic security, which India continues to confront.

Having spent last summer conducting research on the jihadist threat to Pakistan, I believe the threat there is more dire. I do not believe jihadists in Pakistan can overthrow the state or that they pose an existential problem in their own right. Rather, their existance, influence and a persistent level of violence makes it all the more difficult for Pakistan to confront a host of other pressing challenges.

There is much talk about the nexus between the Dawood Ibrahim gang of D Company and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. What did you make of this while you explored this subject?
I view this as an ad hoc alliance. Criminals like Dawood Ibrahim and those who work for him are interested primarily in material gain, and they likely would sell out an LeT operative or LeT plans if arrested in India. So his network may be used for running fake currency or smuggling arms, but I would not see this as a tight alliance.

So would you say that the 26/11 attack was a self contained attack?
Everything in the open source suggests this was planned and executed by people coming from Pakistan, but that does not mean there was not some indigenous support given either knowingly or unknowingly. There’s no evidence of this, but we just don’t know. However,  I would reiterate that what we do know points to LeT planning this in Pakistan and sending Pakistani operatives to conduct surveillance and the attack.

Sajid Mir? Mystery or for real?
He is a man with transnational interests. After the attacks in 2008 I did ask around about Mir. In Pakistan he was being referred to as a maulvi connected to the Ahl-e-Hadith movement who does not like Lashkar. There is another Sajid Mir and that’s who people meant. But this was not the guy I was looking for. No one seemed to know about Sajid Mir the LeT operative at the time, at least not anyone I could find who would speak about it. I was interested in him because of his involvement in attempted attacks earlier in the decade. But until 26/11 he did a very good job staying under the radar.

What about the Majors whose name cropped up during the investigation into the 26/11 attack?
Everything in the open source suggests they were ISI,but I have no additional information about them or where they are now. I would not expect the Pakistani security establishment to hand them over and it’s unlikely we’ll learn much more about them.

Hafiz Saeed and Osama Bin Laden are big names. How would you compare the two?
Saeed remains on-side as far as the security establishment is concerned. He travels relatively freely around Pakistan and lives in a nice house. When Laden was alive he was locked up in Abotabad. This is a big difference, and it impacts how far each of the two men were willing to push the envelope in terms. I’d also suggest that Saeed still has significant influence in LeT and is viewed as necessary to keep that group intact, so the likelihood of his being handed over is pretty slim. Doing so likely would also be seen as a major betrayal by the jihadi class in Pakistan.

Do you see the Lashkar going global?
It’s already expanded, though still remains influenced primarily by regional factors.  If the Afghan front declines post-2014 and Kashmir cannot be generated then there are questions as to where the Lashkar would go. Some in Lashkar might go global. Others might favor a further expansion of the jihad against India. And still others might look to deepen their involvement in politics in Pakistan.

Shredded notes a false alarm

The mystery behind 400 sacks full of shredded currency notes, which was found at Bellary has been solved and it has been found that the same was legitimately procured from a company in Madhya Pradesh.
This company in Madhya Pradesh  had obtained it from the Indore unit of Reserve Bank of
India (RBI). The pulp obtained by processing the currency notes is used in making
plywood. Bellary police had raided the factory of Krishna Industries, belonging to one Sreenivasa, Superintendent of police Chandragupta said that the inquiry revealed that Sreenivasa had been procuring shredded notes from a company in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, since 2008. The company in Indore
receives shredded currency notes from the RBI through a tender. Soiled notes and the ones with misprint are shredded and sold through

Yeddyruappa’s bail plea rejected

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

The special CBI court has rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by former Karnataka Chief Minister of Karnataka B S Yeddyurappa. Yeddyurappa who is being probed by the CBI for his alleged role in illegal mining had sought anticipatory bail apprehending arrest.
Yeddyurappa’s legal team advanced arguments for nearly a week stating that the CBI ought not to arrest him. They submitted that he will available for questioning as and when the CBI needed him.
The CBI on the other submitted that he ought to be arrested after a mandatory round of questioning. They said that being a former CM he is a very powerful person and could well tamper with the evidence.
With this order an arrest stares at the face of Yeddyurappa. He is likely to be summoned for questioning and could be arrested based on the manner in which he faces the probe or cooperates with the investigation.

Illegal mining a criminality started under Congress

Photo courtesy: aidprojects.org

The great Isaac Newton said, “If I could look beyond it is by standing on the shoulders of the giant.” To bring down the powerful mining lobby in Karnataka which looted the state while abusing power shamelessly was no ordinary task. It was the various reports and the petitions filed before the Supreme Court of India by S R Hiremath which finally brought the ones involved in the multimillion crore mining scam to justice.

The 66 year old Hiremath, an engineering graduate who was working in the United States of America returned to India in the year 1979. He has been an activist since the past 30 years and is the founder of the  Samaja Parivarthana Samudaya (SPS) in Dharwad in 1984. It was the petitions filed by him that put former Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa in a spot of bother as a result of which the Central Bureau of Investigation started to probe his case.  The gross misuse of power in Karnataka is only second to the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, says Hiremath. Hiremath says in this interview with rediff.com that illegal mining is a criminality which was started under the Congress regime of S M Krishna thanks to his then cabinet minister, D K Shivakumar and this is a fact we plan on exposing with enough evidence in the month of August before the Supreme Court of India.

Are you satisfied with the way things have turned out. Reddy is in jail and Yeddyurappa is mired in a CBI probe for illegal mining.

I came back here from the United States many years back so that I took take up various issues and lead a responsible life. The fight has been tough the path very hard, but yes I am satisfied today although there is a lot more work remaining.

Bellary had its own constitution and has been named as the Republic of Bellary. Were you under threat when you were going about doing your work on illegal mining?

It is kind of surprising even for me that there were hardly any threats. The Reddy brothers are very rough and murderous people in some ways. It is surprising that as of today there have been no threat call made to me or any of my other friends working with me from the Reddy brothers. There are both men and women working in the field on this issue and they have not been threatened. However there was one threat call which was made to a friend of mine from the supporters of B S Yeddyurappa. I feel this may have to do with the fact that we are committed to development of the rural folk and we have conducted ourselves in a proper manner which is probably the reason why we have not been threatened.

How difficult was it to deal with this issue considering the money involved was obscene?

I would not say it was one bit easy. It required a lot of ground work. What I noticed is that after the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi where the press was muscled and people were sent to jail without a trial, Karnataka came only second to the gross misuse of power. The previous generations have given their lives for freedom and it is our duty to preserve it. What I have realized is that fear and democracy can never go hand in hand. Illegal mining commenced with D K Shivakumar under S M Krishna and then continued with Gali Janardhan Reddy under B S Yeddyurappa. This was a challenge to expose all this and it was staring into our face. This was a challenge and we decided to take it up. We may or may not reach a logical conclusion, but we will keep trying.

Has illegal mining come to a halt today?

Illegal mining as far as I know has come to a grinding halt barring some unusual circumstances. This is only thanks to the Central Empowerment Committee and the Supreme Court of India. More importantly the manner in which the orders were implemented were also commendable. Reddy’s administration was disabled and mining was stopped. It was necessary that mining was banned in Karnataka in order for the agencies to probe it properly. The CEC had in fact stated that it would not be wise to ban mining, but we insisted that it be done in order to curb further illegalities and investigate properly.

There is always this allegation that B S Yeddyurappa got caught while S M Krishna managed to get away. What are your thoughts about this?

Although Yeddyurappa and Krishna represent two different worlds there is hardly any difference in what went on during their respective regimes. It was during Krishna’s regime that the criminality of illegal mining started under D K Shivakumar. There was total misuse and abuse of power. This was continued during the B S Yeddyurappa regime.

Despite you saying this why has Krishna gotten away?

He has not. You should understand that it is important that all the evidence has to be meticulously brought in together. What has been happening against the Krishna regime is that people are merely throwing in the charges and that is good enough in a court of law. When there is no proper evidence there is no point in going before the court. I personally do not venture into something unless I have impeccable evidence. At the time we went to court there was no proper evidence against Congressman D K Shivakumar who was a big player in the Krishna government.
So, are they let off the hook or are you planning on doing something about it?

Wait until July. We have over the last seven months collected a lot of material against D K Shivakumar. There is now evidence against Shivakumar and we will go ahead and file it. You can be rest assured that we shall spare none involved in this. We did not want to go before the court, merely file charges and get the petition thrown out. Remember when one goes before the court seeking justice, the onus is on us to give evidence and that is what we are doing. We have no personal hatred against anyone, be it Yeddyurappa or Krishna. In our petitions in July we plan on combing both the Krishna and Dharam Singh regimes of the Congress. Dharam Singh did nothing but continued to support the criminal acts committed by the earlier regime of Krishna. And yes before you ask, let me also tell you that the cases of illegal mining during the regime of H D Kumaraswamy are also being taken up. We do not want to cut a sorry figure before the court when we take up these cases. We will deal with them exactly in the manner in which we dealt with the cases against Yeddyurappa and his ministers. This kind of criminality has to be dealt with a firm hand or else it will become a banana republic.

Despite all this Janardhan Reddy tried to bribe a judge in Andhra Pradesh. The illegalities may have come down, but why hasn’t the mind set changed?

That is a very good point that you raise. We have submitted many a document before the court and these do reveal the modus operandi of the illegal mining community. This poses a great threat and threatens to break down the rule of law. We have often said that the major cause for the break down is the mind set that these people have. They thought and continue to think that everything is purchasable and this will change very soon. Our future admissions before the Supreme Court would be on these aspects and we also plan on bringing in the names of 40 prominent traders and also the manner in which they misused the system. This will have to change or else you will continue to have the likes of the Lads and the Shivkumars from the Congress leading a protest against illegal mining, which according to me is the biggest joke.

The Lokayukta report on illegal mining was virtually thrown out by the High Court, while the Supreme Court whole heatedly acted on the one you submitted on the subject of illegal mining. Why is this the case?

I have always believed in Newton’s theory that if I could look beyond it is by standing on the shoulder of the giant. The more important thing is that we need to bring in justice. In the past three decades I have seen many reports. But let me tell you that the reports of Justice Santhosh Hegde in the years 2008 and 2011 have been the best. One must not forget that the meticulous job done by him and his team, the raids and also the seizure of documents helped us a great deal in the taking the matter up to the Supreme Court. While the ground work was laid by the Lokayukta, what we did further was find clinching evidence which was missing. The work done by the Lokayukta and later by us should be seen as developments in sequence which led us to this ultimately. The lack of time the events of paramount importance in which Justice Hegde’s team was criminally intimidated did not deter him and he went on with his work. In his first report he names Dharam Singh, but as far as the higher illegalities of Shivakumar under Krishna were not brought to the forefront probably for want of evidence. These aspects will be covered by us.

B Sriramulu is another major player in this scam. However he appears to be on a roll where he can come out of the BJP and trounce his former party in a by-poll. Your thoughts sir.

As far as I am concerned we are enemies of any particular party. The CBI is probing this case and I am sure they will get to him too. There is monumental evidence against him despite that with no shame he says that they had given Rs 2000 crore to BJP to fight elections in Karnataka apart from Rs 10 crore every month. Now where has this kind of money come from? There is mine known as Lakshmi mines which belong to Sriramulu and his wife. When the commercial taxes officer goes to find out why the tax had not been paid, he gets a flurry of calls from officials. In fact one of the officials even had the audacity to tell the commercial tax official that he should get out of the premises. All this indicate that he too is guilty in the scam. Law has its limitations and takes it own course and trust me the CBI is waiting to get to him.

What changes do you see in the administration in Karnataka today?

Not much really. We have knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court to seek justice and we have got it. However one cannot expect the Supreme Court to run the government of Karnataka and I am afraid that it is not functioning at the moment. The government has to run on its own. Why has a Lokayukta not been appointed as yet? That to me is criminal neglect.

Rejection for Rana- Can India make the move now?

Photo courtesy: India Today

The rejection by the Chicago court to conduct a retrial of Tawwahur Rana is a shot in the arm for the Indian agencies who have been looking to question him. The Indian external ministry team which is in the United States will be able to make a harder push for his questioning now that the court has rejected a retrial of the case against Rana.

Rana, for the National Investigating Agency is a major player in the 26/11 attack. Although the court in the US did not find enough evidence regarding his role in the 26/11 attack it found him to be guilty for the charges in the Denmark case.

Indian agencies were waiting with bated breath for the order on Rana and had a retrial been ordered then it would have been a longer wait for them to question him.

The Indian delegation which is in the US would during its talks with Hillary Clinton broach the subject of Rana. India will have to impress upon the United States regarding the urgency to interrogate Rana and also the importance of the same.

Sources in the National Investigating Agency say that although the US court has not found him to be guilty of the 26/11 attack, it would not mean that India has to close its case too against Rana. We have conducted our own investigation into the case and have found ample evidence through local sources and also the interrogation of David Headley regarding the involvement of Rana.

However the road ahead is not as easy as India may think it is. In the case of Headley it was comparatively easier since he had readily agreed to cooperate with the US agencies while seeking a plea bargain deal. The US agencies were able to convince him to be questioned by the NIA. Rana on the other hand has decided to fight out the allegations against him. He has been defiant of the charges against him and despite many attempts has refused to enter into a plea bargain like Headley. Hence there would be a great deal of legal and paper work required once India manages to convince the US about the importance of questioning him.

India however believes that if the US sanctions the questioning then the same could take place in the next couple of months. A team of the NIA which had probed Headley in the US is already on stand by and would leave for the US once they get the green signal. Indian agencies say that the questioning can take place before the sentencing and there is no bar in probing an accused who is awaiting a sentence. It was difficult in the midst of the trial and the fact that he had decided to appeal and seek a retrial only delayed the process further.

India has a lot of information to gain from Rana. The questioning of David Headley led them to get more information on Rana. Moreover the records that the NIA has with it also go on to show the role that he had played.

Also the questioning will be on the lines of the original case slapped against Rana by the US in which it was stated that he had helped the Lashkar-e-Tayiba during its 26/11 operation. Moreover the fact that he was allegedly aware of what Headley was up to and decided to conceal the same is also a making of an offence.

The NIA which has filed a chargesheet against Headley before the Delhi court finds itself stuck without a Rana version in it. The manner in which Rana allegedly helped Headley with the travel papers to India and whether there was any local help sought for the logistics and documentation is something that remains a mystery without the version of Rana.

Another angle of interest would be the exact role that Rana played in the attack. He never says that he was working for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, but says he was part of the ISI. India would like to know from him his exact role with the ISI and if they are able to ascertain this then the names of many ISI operatives ranging from Sajid Mir to Major Iqbal would come out in the open. These are names which are a mystery to the world and none have been able to say with conviction who exactly these names are. The manner in which Pakistan has concealed these names gives an indicator that they could be part of the system which means ISI operatives and this Rana would be in a better position to tell, NIA sources tell rediff.com.

Many more from Congress will come to us

Photo courtesy: http://ambatirambabu.blogspot.in/

The news from Andhra Pradesh has been about Jagan Mohan Reddy and his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Many in the state saw it as a move to scuttle the growth of Jagan Reddy of the YSR Congress party, but the opposition in Andhra Pradesh has always maintained that he cannot get away especially when there is ample proof of a financial crime against him.

His party the YSR Congress is however hopeful that this mess would clear out and Jagan would emerge victorious in the days to come. There has been a witch hunt against Jagan since day one and this is due to his popularity says Jagan Reddy’s closest aide and party spokesperson, Ambati Rambabu. We are hopeful of a good result in the by-election and expect more MLAs from both the Congress and the Telegu Desam Party to come into our fold after the elections, says Rambabu in this interview with rediff.com.

The by-elections are very important for your party. What are your chances?

The campaigning went on very well despite so many hurdles and set backs. The crowds which came in to support our leaders and our party was overwhelming and they expressed a lot of solidarity with the members of the YSR family. Going by the trends and the manner in which the people have come out to support us, I am confident that we will win all the seats in the by-election and that will be a turning point in Andhra Pradesh politics.

How big was the set back for your party after Jagan was arrested?

Without a doubt it was a major set back. However Vijayamma stepped in and took over the mantle of the party and we have managed this transition very well. The people have been very supportive of her and have expressed their solidarity. Moreover the people realise that she has lost a lot and they have supported her with all their heart.

With so many cases against Jagan it appears that he will not come out for a long time. Is the YSR Congress party planning on a permanent replacement?

As I said that Vijayamma has stepped in for her son. We had always expected a major witch hunt against Jagan. However there will be no replacement for Jagan in the party. We will all wait for him to return.

Jagan’s sister, Sharmila has been the popular face of the campaign. Is there any chance of she taking over from her mother?

Sharmila is there to support her brother and mother during the campaign. The people have respected her. But she too has made it clear that she will only help during the campaign and none shall replace her brother’s position in the party.

Does the Congress and the Telegu Desam Party continue to work together as has always been alleged by your party?

Yes of course they are working hand in hand against Jagan Mohan Reddy. They have always done that and will continue to do so as they fear the popularity of our party and our leader. I have always maintained this and would like to add that there is match fixing in Andhra Pradesh against Jagan.

There appears to have been an issue over the security of Jagan which led him to threaten that he would go on fast.

Yes that issue has been resolved. They got him before the court in an ordinary vehicle despite him being a Member of Parliament. However now the court has ordered that he be brought before the court in a bullet proof vehicle.

Are you saying that there could be a threat to his life and is there any specific information regarding that?

There is a possibility that his life may be under threat. Chances cannot be taken. We do not have any specific information regarding this, but it is always a possibility and hence his security is of utmost importance.

In case the YSR Congress emerges victorious in the by-elections then what is the next course of action?

The next course of action will be decided after the elections. The party will continue to work for the people and there will be major preparation for the assembly elections. The battle ahead is hard, but we will continue to work hard.

Has the arrest of Jagan Mohan Reddy scared away the possible detractor from both the Congress and the TDP from coming into your fold?

I would not like to comment on this. Our party’s strength and position has not changed. We do expect more MLAs from both the Congress and the TDP coming into our party. However all that will be only after the elections.

400 sacks of shredded money found at Bellary

Photo courtesy: topnews.in

The republic of Bellary as it is called has no value for money and rightly so. A year back Rs 4 crore worth of currency was found burnt in this mining district of Karnataka and today 400 gunny sacks of shredded notes has been found in a ply wood factory in Bellary.

This morning a raid was conducted at a ply wood factory at Bellary and 400 gunny sacks were seized. On opening the same, the police found that the sacks contained notes that had been shredded.

On questioning the owners at the ply wood factory, it was stated that these sacks had come down from Indore. A team has already been sent to Indore to verify the details while the Reserve Bank of India too has been intimated regarding this issue.

The police say that it does not appear as though the notes are fake. It appears to have been shredded intentionally so as to avoid a possible seizure.

Bellary ever since the breaking out of the mining scam has been in the news. The CBI is hot on the trail of the illegal mining case.
Many big fish have been arrested in the case and the motives and modus operandi have come out wide in the open. However the CBI has now been probing the money trail from Bellary which they believe has spread across the country and also internationally. Many were expecting seizures of money in large chunks and this could have been one of the reasons why the notes were shredded so as to avoid any sort of money trail, sources point out. It may have been given off to the ply wood factory which would have used it as mere paper, sources also point out.

An incident of this nature is not new to the obscenely rich miners in Bellary. In the year 2011, a similar incident had occurred when the Lokayukta was hot on the trail of the mining community.

The police at that time said that some goons from the mining community had burnt currency in the denomination of Rs 100 and Rs 500 amounting to Rs 4 crore. In another incident which occurred at around the same time, some persons had gathered money in bags and had dumped it into a canal.

For any investigation, it is important that a seizure in terms of money is made and this normally acts as a major evidence in court. Moreover the accused persons also find it hard to explain this kind of money and hence end up getting convicted. Hence it is felt that such money which is at a place where investigations are on are better destroyed so as to avoid any problems.

HC sets aside J. Shantha’s election

In a major setback to the Bellary faction of the BJP, the Karnataka High court on Monday set aside the election of J Shantha, who is the sister of Sriramulu. Justice Billappa observed that there was irregularity in the counting process and set aside the election.
The court also stated that the re counting be held in four weeks time.
Shantha was elected from the Bellary Parliamentary constituency on a BJP ticket. The election petition against her alleged malpractise in the counting process.
Shantha is the sister of Sriramulu the former BJP MLA. Sriramulu had broken away from the BJP and won as an independent candidate. He is part of the Bellary’s Reddy brother group.