It wouldn't be the first time news stories reporting unfavorably on BJP President Amit Shah vanished from news websites without explanation. At other times, news organizations have been under tremendous pressure to redact stories, transfer editors and otherwise silence inconvenient news from reaching the masses. Here are some notable stories that vanished from several sites without any official redaction or explanation offered:
Rana Ayyub, author of Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up who has done extensive reporting related with the Gujarat riots and Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case faced threats of rape and murder to the point that UN human rights experts called on the Indian government to protect her.
Please free to suggest stories this list misses in the comments.
MUMBAI: A district cooperative bank, which has Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah as a director, netted the highest deposits among such banks of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were abruptly demonetised on November 8, 2016, according to RTI replies received by a Mumbai activist.
The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank (ADCB) secured deposits of Rs 745.59 crore of the spiked notes -- in just five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the demonetisation announcement. All the district cooperative banks were banned from accepting deposits of the banned currency notes from the public after November 14, 2016, -- five days after demonetisation -- on fears that black money would be laundered through this route.
According to the bank's website, Shah continues to be a director with the bank and has been in that position for several years. He was also the bank's chairman in 2000. ADCB's total deposits on March 31, 2017, were Rs 5,050 crore and its net profit for 2016-17 was Rs 14.31 crore.
Right behind ADCB, is the Rajkot District Cooperative Bank, whose chairman Jayeshbhai Vitthalbhai Radadiya is a cabinet minister in Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's government. It got deposits of old currencies worth Rs 693.19 crore.
Interestingly, Rajkot is the hub of Gujarat BJP politics -- Prime Minister Modi was first elected from there as a legislator in 2001.
Incidentally, the figures of Ahmedabad-Rajkot DCCBs are much higher than the apex Gujarat State Cooperative Bank Ltd, which got deposits of a mere Rs 1.11 crore.
"The amount of deposits made in the State Cooperative Banks (SCBs) and District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) -- revealed under RTI for first time since demonetisation -- are astounding," Manoranjan S. Roy, the RTI activist who made the effort to get the information, told IANS.
The RTI information was given by the Chief General Manager and Appellate Authority, S. Saravanavel, of the National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD).
It has also come to light, through the RTI queries, that only seven public sector banks (PSBs), 32 SCBs, 370 DCCBs, and a little over three-dozen post offices across India collected Rs 7.91 lakh crore -- more than half (52 per cent) of the total amount of old currencies of Rs 15.28 lakh crore deposited with the RBI.
The break-up of Rs 7.91 lakh crore mentioned in the RTI replies shows that the value of spiked notes deposited with the RBI by the seven PSBs was Rs 7.57 lakh crore, the 32 SCBs gave in Rs 6,407 crore and the 370 DCCBs brought in Rs 22,271 crore. Old notes deposited by 39 post offices were worth Rs 4,408 crore.
Information from all the SCBs and DCCBs across India were received through the replies. The seven PSBs account for around 29,000 branches -- out of the over 92,500 branches of the 21 PSBs in India -- according to data published by the RBI. The 14 other PSBs declined to gave information on one ground or the other. There are around 155,000 post offices in the country.
Fifteen months after demonetisation, the government had announced that Rs 15.28 Lakh crore -- or 99 per cent of the cancelled notes worth Rs 15.44 lakh crore -- were returned to the RBI treasury.
Roy said it was a serious matter if only a few banks and their branches and a handful post offices, apart from SCBs and DCCBs, accounted for over half the old currency notes.
"At this rate, serious questions arise about the actual collection of spiked notes through the remaining 14 mega-PSBs, besides rural-urban banks, private banks (like ICICI, HDFC and others), local cooperatives, Jankalyan Banks and credit cooperatives and other entities with banking licenses, the figures of which are not made available under RTI," he said.
The SCBs were allowed to exchange or take deposits of banned notes till December 30, 2016 -- for a little over seven weeks, in contrast to district cooperative banks which were allowed only five days of transactions.
The prime minister during his demonetisation speech had said that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes could be deposited in bank or post office accounts from November 10 till close of banking hours on December 30, 2016, without any limit. "Thus you will have 50 days to deposit your notes and there is no need for panic," he had said.
After an uproar, mostly from BJP allies, the government also opened a small window in mid-2017, during the presidential elections, allowing the 32 SCBs and 370 DCCBs -- largely owned, managed or controlled by politicians of various parties -- to deposit their stocks of the spiked notes with the RBI. The move was strongly criticised by the Congress and other major Opposition parties.
Among the SCBs, the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank topped the list of depositors with Rs 1,128 crore from 55 branches and the smallest share of Rs 5.94 crore came from just five branches of Jharkhand State Cooperative Bank, according to the replies.
Surprisingly, the Andaman & Nicobar State Cooperative Bank's share (from 29 branches) was Rs 85.76 crore.
While Maharashtra has a population of 12 crore, Jharkhand's population is 3.6 crore. Andaman & Nicobar Islands have less than four lakh residents.
The poorest of all the cooperative banks in the country is Banki Central Cooperative Bank Ltd in Odisha, which admitted to receiving zero deposits of the spiked currency.
Of the total 21 PSBs, State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank of India, Dena Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab & Sindh Bank, Vijaya Bank, Andhra Bank, Syndicate Bank, UCO Bank, United Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce, and IDBI Bank (14 banks) -- with over 63,500 branches amongst them -- did not give any information on deposits.
A historic event has taken place in the Supreme Court of India. There will be no independent probe into Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya’s death. This is one of the first judgments to come at a time when the Indian Judiciary stands embattled in a manner not seen since Independence. Those quick to point out the Emergency, may do well to reflect, that while Emergency kept our democracy locked and at bay to pander to an autocratic leader, now and here, as we live and speak, work or laze, fight or make love, a dark cloud looms by which democracy and the rule of law are being artfully and systematically subverted. In hindsight, Emergency appears as a blip and our judiciary came out the stronger of it. It rose to the occasion and reclaimed its independence as well as integrity.
This spirit, which the Indian Judiciary showed at what was then the nadir of the Indian democratic experiment in the mid-seventies, is almost dead. This period is historic, not least for the other significant judgments that are being awaited, or for the unprecedented press meeting called by the Supreme Court’s senior-most judges, but for the very foundations that made our country possible in the first place. We are being uprooted like an old banyan tree might be, but we are by and large comatose, and don’t even feel the tremors. Such is the adversity of our collective situation.
Judge Loya died in 2014 but for some time he stood resurrected. Caravan’s reporter Niranjan Takle is an ordinary person, much like you and me, but what he did was extraordinary. For a moment it seemed that God spoke through him, that God could well be a regular reporter, who must resurrect the dead, especially when it seemed that they had not been properly buried.
Amongst its several rebuttals to the petitioners’ arguments, the bench constituted by the Chief Justice of India to decide the matter, is very keen on reprimanding the petitioners for their lack of bonafides and contempt of court. The bench then negates the evidence relied on by the petitioners. But this was not a criminal trial. The writ petitions only sought an independent probe into a critical case that was in fact mocking the very institution of our judiciary.
Judge Loya was a CBI judge entrusted with overseeing the Soharabbudin Sheikh fake encounter case in which the BJP President Amit Shah was an accused. Any reasonable person going by the murky and sordid history of the case, and what followed thereafter, and as it stands to tragically unfold even now, would assume that there is a rat, and it is stinking as hell. Post the furor over the Caravan article the Supreme Court should have in fact taken suo motu cognisance of the case.
One of the time honoured maxims of the law is that justice should not only be done, but must be seen to be done.
The Supreme Court’s rebuttals have already been politically hijacked and can be dissected as well as Mr. Jaitley has sought to do, but it would be more of Machiavellian legalese. Given the divisive and political overtones the case has assumed, with help in no little measure from social media, the polarisation is complete and evident, just as it is for anything now these days. More than polarisation there is fear. Read FEAR.
None of Judge Loya’s family came ahead when they should have, even if it were to simply negate Caravan’s report in open court. The bench too declined to call the family or the judges who said they were with Judge Loya at the time of his death. These being just a couple of inexplicable positions taken by the bench. There was more than enough prima facie material, which the petitioners had brought on record in support of their plea. To reiterate - an independent inquiry is all that they sought. Nobody was going to be hanged for that. One does not need to be a legal scholar or a hotshot lawyer to understand this, or for that matter, the absolute retreat and silence of Judge Loya’s family in the days when the petitions and interventions were being heard.
The bench has also upbraided the petitioners for undermining the judiciary by casting aspersions on those in the bench and on the other judges whose names came up as part of the hearing. Yet the petitions well within the domain of public knowledge fundamentally argued that if the plea for an independent probe is not granted, it would result in an erosion of faith in the judiciary and within it as well, and does not bode well for the lower judiciary.
The tables stand turned and how. The irony is incredible.
In another situation this might seem like a neat sleight of hand, altogether familiar when it comes to political expediency, but now it is simply scary. The Bar and Bench stand divided like never before and the line of division is glaring and aching. Certainly the atmosphere in the Supreme Court has turned noxious. All along, in spite of all the pressures, our judiciary has always shown that it will be the ultimate leveller and a custodian of our rights and dignity. That modicum of faith is fast disappearing.
Judge Loya, who might have been afforded the chance to speak to us through his grave, has been silenced yet again. The questions however will not cease. I often look at his file photos in the news and I always think of him first as a judge and later in any of his filial capacities. Was it not enough that he had sworn to serve the judiciary and through the institution, us, the people of India? His life was exemplary in that regard, and his conduct impeccable, especially when he was assigned to adjudicate the notorious Sohrabbudin case. Do we understand that in failing an upright judge, we have also failed the very institution that is key to our democracy and our constitutional values? It is perhaps the latter that bothers me more and I have a feeling that Judge Loya would have concurred.
There are hundreds of Judge Loyas in our country who have taken the fall in the line of duty when they became a nuisance to the ruling establishment of their time. Judge Loya is certainly not an exception, but his case is. Our judiciary, and we the people of India, were offered a rare opportunity to redeem ourselves had an independent probe been permitted.
We have let that moment pass to our peril.
We stand witness to a new phase of history that has been surely and steadily taking its course, not dissimilar to other previous twisted regimes in the world. In this withering landscape we are adrift and pensive, and for now, our heads must hang in shame.
This story about disproportionate growth of assets of Gujarat leaders appeared in the Times of India and affiliated publications and was withdrawn without explanation. It compares declared assets and liabilities from affidavits filed in 2012 and 2017 as well as income and the numbers don't add up. The story clearly implies a suspicious growth in assets of both BJP and Congress politicians (2 BJP, 1 Congress, 1 Congress recently turned BJP) - Balwant Singh Rajput, Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Ahmed Patel.
In the meanwhile, this story vanished from DNA.
The following story vanished from Outlook Hindi
आंकड़ों के मुताबिक गुजरात से राज्यसभा चुनाव लड़ने वाले लगभग सभी प्रमुख उम्मीदवारों की संपत्ति में काफी बढ़ोत्तरी हुई है। भाजपा के राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष अमित शाह की संपत्ति में भी खासा इजाफा हुआ है। जहां 2012 में उनकी चल संपत्ति 1.90 करोड़ रुपए की थी जो अब यह बढ़कर 19 करोड़ हो गई है। अपने शपथ-पत्र में शाह ने अपनी संपत्ति का विवरण दिया है। इस विवरण के अनुसार उन्हें 10.38 करोड़ रुपए की चल संपत्ति पैतिृक तौर पर भी मिली है। आंकड़ो के मुताबिक पिछले 5 साल में शाह और उनकी पत्नी की चल और अचल संपत्ति में कुल 300 फीसदी का इजाफा हुआ है। 2012 में उनकी कुल संपत्ति 8.54 करोड़ रुपए थी, वह बढ़कर 2017 में 34.31 करोड़ रुपए हो गई है।
प्रमुख उम्मीदवार भी हुए मालामाल
#मालामाल सांसद उम्मीदवारों की फेहरिस्त में केंद्रीय मंत्री स्मृति इरानी का भी नाम अहम है। इरानी और उनके पति जुबिन इरानी की संपत्ति में भी 80 फीसदी की बढ़ोतरी हुई है। इरानी दंपती की 2014 में 4.91 करोड़ रुपए अचल संपत्ति बढ़कर अब 8.88 करोड़ रुपए हो गई है। बता दैं कि केंद्रीय मंत्री के पति की संपत्ति में तो वृद्धि हुई है, लेकिन खुद उनकी निजी संपत्ति में कोई इजाफा नहीं हुआ है।
#मान जा रहा है कि कांग्रेस छोड़कर भाजपा प्रवेश किए बलवंत सिंह राजपूत यदि राज्यसभा पहुंचते हैं तो वह गुजरात के सबसे धनवान राज्यसभा सदस्यों की सूची में शुमार होंगे। राजपूत के पास चल और अचल संपत्ति मिलाकर 2012 में 263 करोड़ रुपए की संपत्ति थी, जो 2017 में 316 करोड़ रुपए तक पहुंच गई।
#कांग्रेस के कद्दावर नेता अहमद पटेल की संपत्ति में भी काफी बढ़ोत्तरी हुई है। हलफनामे के मुताबिक 2011 से 2017 तक में उनकी संपत्ति में 123 प्रतिशतकी बढ़ोतरी हुई है। गुजरात से राज्यसभा सदस्य पटेल की सालाना आय 15,10,147 रुपए है। वहीं उनकी पत्नी की वार्षिक आमदनी भी 20,15,900 रुपए है।
In many ways, Narendra Modi’s celebration of three years in power represents what the man and his government stands for.
He inaugurated the Dhola-Sadiya bridge in Assam, which is immediately spun as a great achievement of his, with hints laid out in good measure, that it also means some sort of a challenge to China on our north-eastern borders. As he did at the inauguration of the Chenani – Nashri tunnel, this provided Modi with an opportunity to stride around alone purposefully on the bridge, looking down at the river below, beckoning people from afar, etc, while cameras clicked away. This bridge was someone else’s vision. You know what Modi’s vision is? To spin colourful expansions of the two letters – N and E – New Energy, New Economy, New Engine, New Empowerment, etc. The man can ramble, I will give him that.
Meanwhile, the full-page newspaper advertisements that greeted the nation today curiously do not have even a single woman, in spite of the Ujjwala Yojana (of providing new LPG connections to households) being one of this government’s most far-reaching achievements. Neither did it have a message dedicated to the poor who stood by Modi even after he had sucked out cash from their pockets. The messaging from the government was only about an astonishingly narcissistically named MODI Fest, where we are supposed to believe that MODI just stands for Making of Developed India.
Part of this MODI Fest seems to have taken place at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, where Modi’s monthly monologues were released as a book. I am willing to bet that soon, the book will pop up at a classroom near you as compulsory reading. Amidst all this, BJP President Amit Shah stepped in and explained to a befuddled nation that it was impossible to provide jobs for all, and hence, the government was creating self-employment opportunities – thus proving that even the ‘jobs promise’ was chunaavi jumla. Finally, as is its wont, the government ended the day with a bit of gauseva by declaring a ban on sale of cattle for slaughter.
These events marked three years of Narendra Modi’s prime ministership. At the end of three years, Demonetisation stands out as the symbol of the both the deceit and incompetence that this government represents – that it will inflict havoc on its own people in the pursuit of electoral advantage, and that schemes are spun from harebrained ideas that have no scientific basis. Propaganda trumps all, as concerns of minorities, and political, media and civil society opponents are brushed aside and labelled anti-national.
Meanwhile, the rest of it – lynchings, harassment of critics, crony capitalism, listing fake achievements, dodgy national statistics, using the military for propaganda – continues unabated, and should come as no surprise to supporters and critics alike. These three years have shown us yet again that our institutions are perhaps not capable of withstanding a determined attack by a populist demagogue. These institutions work reasonably effectively when there is a weak government, by propping up the basic structures and ensuring a level of service delivery. But faced with a Modi, our institutions are suddenly found helpless – the press is not free or frank, the Parliament does not function as it should, the investigative agencies are completely state-controlled, the judiciary is soft, the bureaucracy is terrified, the central bank has lost its autonomy, and so on…
Given the corroding institutional safeguards, a thoroughly propagandist government, and an incoherent and weakened opposition, it is hard to imagine that any #AccheDin are round the corner for India. Dark days ahead.