Skip to content

1

As I write this post, Indian Digital rights activists are watching in horror as "ethical hacker" Ankit Fadia has been declared the brand ambassador of Digital India. As Twitter goes nuts trying to show how big a "blunder" this is, perhaps it is time to realize that it is not a blunder. It is a deliberate stupidification of India with deliberate installations of mirrors of Modi's will rather than independent intellectuals.

Deliberate incompetence is the hallmark of appointments by Modi sarkar and they happen too often to be considered mistakes. From Smriti Irani, who faked her own education credentials handling National Education to Ankit Fadia, a self proclaimed ethical hacker no professional respects is only the tip of the iceberg that had started showing up right from Modi's election campaign.

Kirron Kher, contesting from Chandigarh in the Lok Sabha Elections had candidly admitted in an interview to the Indian Express, "I am not a politician. I do not see myself as politician. I see myself as somebody who is working for my city and fought (elections) to get one more seat to (Narendra) Modi ji. That is how see myself. I did not ask for the ticket. It was given to me and now I am here." Contesting against a 4 time MP Pawan Bansal of the Congress and Gul Panag of the Aam Aadmi Party, the candidature of Kirron Kher had been met with black flags by BJP workers themselves in Chandigarh. She won.

From Modi's holograms being projected nationwide to sidelining of senior leaders, Modi is clearly a man not interested in the contributions of others, even as he accepts their necessity. The Supreme Court rapped the Women and Child Ministry for the delay in filling vacancies in the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, but the reason turned out to be the PMO not clearing their appointments.

But if we see the appointments being made, there is little reason for cheer. Amartya Sen resigned in protest citing unprecedented interference in academics from the government. I do not see him as a leftist, but I am aware the supporters of the present government do. Yet we now have students of the FTII protesting as well. Surely the case cannot be that Modi lacks supporters among excellent actors that he settled for Gajendra Chauhan to avoid dealing with a "secular" (as his current whine in foreign countries goes)?

In a scathing piece on the rise of "anti-intellectualism" under the present government, Rishi Majumder identifies the common thread behind persistent absurd appointments as "The lack of a strong, distinct, individual vision for what they want to achieve with their charges." even as they are good managers. I see it as the appointees being conduits for a vision dictated from sources out of public scrutiny. Mirrors, mirrors everywhere, readily reflecting someone's will.

But there is more. It is a deliberate flaunting of unchecked stupidification in an obscene carnage of an intellectual India. The word "intellectual" itself has been turned into a slur by the supporters of this regime. The message is clear. "We do not want your fancy theories. We want the freedom to define scholarship however we wish." The trend is far reaching and flaunted at the most trivial of opportunities. Of all the journalists in the world, Modi chose Fareed Zakaria to give his first interview. Till then, Farid Zakaria's biggest attention puller was when his articles got pulled down for plagiarism.

Smriti Irani got rewarded for her loyalty and robust defense of Modi.  Fine. But it is not just that. What she was entrusted with was something she had been discredited for. It is not about less qualified politicians. Faking qualifications on an election affidavit is an act that declares that her qualifications felt inadequate to her own eyes. She could have been rewarded in many other ways, but she now she handles the nation's education. Something she has been established as inadequate about.

It is not merely loyalty. Modi's supporters include several senior journalists as well, but would someone like say, Kanchan Gupta accept being told what he could ask and what he couldn't? In addition to showing critics that they cannot stop him, no matter what he does, Modi's choices of people are also a statement of what behavior among supporters will get rewarded. Modi does not want independent thinking even among his supporters. Kanchan Gupta and Subramanian Swamy - two of the most independent thinking right wing thinkers are conspicuously free of responsibility, even as jokes circulate about Advani in the margadarshak mandal. The three countries Ajit Doval (who had been caught with Chota Rajan'sgangster) took an interest in, bombed in terms of foreign policy. As we speak, freaking "Hindu" Nepal has people outraging against India. It does not seem to matter to anyone. Baba Ramdev is selling churans to cure dengue and collaborating with the Defense Research and Development Organization - toward what purpose is anyone's guess.

Modi himself seems to take absurd speech to greater heights when he talks of Ganesha's head being an evidence of plastic surgery being practiced in ancient India. Not even transplants, mind you. Plastic surgery. While speaking of a super elite hospital helping improve healthcare for the masses in India, like the 32-rupees people would be lining up to pay over a thousand rupees to even be seen as an outpatient in this miracle hospital. Let there be no doubt that not even an effort to sound rational was made.

At a time when Modi has the biggest organized support among all public figures on the internet, at a time when he launches an average of two websites a month, at a time when a large part of his election victory was due to towering ethical and unethical efforts online, it is absurd to imagine that he does not have anyone to be a better brand ambassador for Digital India than Ankit Fadia - who is not respected by anyone other than abject ignorant newbies to coding. As far as appointing for incompetence goes, Ankit Fadia would rank as his second most spectacular appointment (the first being Smriti Irani, of course), because for anyone who has even passable knowledge of the subjects Ankit Fadia writes about, his name has become synonymous with plagiarism. A superstar script kiddie with dubious claims to fame. But he has the one thing Rishi Majumder had identified as a prerequisite. There is no evidence of Ankit Fadia even wanting to learn as long as he can sell his books and meaningless certificates.

Modi sarkar does not care that it reflects idolizing of incompetence on issues crucial to the nation. It does not need to care about public opinion for another 3.5 years. In a world where policies useful to cronies must be pushed unhindered, intelligent people slow things down with their questions. Even when they support. Unthinking and efficient people doing as told is what makes selling the country out from under people's feet possible. Meticulously following the government's stand, and unperturbed, supporting the government's opposite stand as well, when criticism forces a U-Turn.

 

The message to supporters is even clearer than it is to critics. I want your support, not your brain. If you want your reward, this is your key.

 

A year and a half after the brutal murder of Narendra Dabholkar on 20th August 2013, another Communist leader and Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti activist Govind Pansare and his wife Uma been shot in a similar manner in Kolhapur today.

[tweetthis twitter_handles="@Vidyut, @_AamJanata"]Attacks on progressive thinkers are on the rise and this is not acceptable[/tweetthis]

Govind Pansare faced considerable anger from Hindutva extremist groups as the main organizer of the talk "Who killed Karkare?" based on the book by former Inspector General of Police, Shamshuddin Mushrif and was an active leader of the Communist Party of India from Kolhapur.

Who killed Karkare?
Who killed Karkare?

Govind Pansare is said to be gravely injured on his neck. He is admitted in Kolhapur's Austere Adhaar Hospital with severe blood loss and is being operated upon. Close aide Nivas Salokhe has told Indian Express reporter that he is undergoing surgery. His wife Uma is said to be stable.

News still coming in. Post will be updated.

[tweetthis]Remembering the initial news of the attack on Govind Pansare. He died of injuries.[/tweetthis]

Anti-superstition activists are increasingly under attack from right wing extremists in Maharashtra.

Protesters in Pune after attack on Govind Pansare

Protests in Pune after attack on Govind Pansare
Protests in Pune after attack on Govind Pansare. Photo: Sameer Khan

Much of the news compiled here, unless otherwise mentioned, is from @AlkaDhupkar on Twitter.

The Indian Express, in collaboration with Le Monde and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has published a list of a hundred account names (yes, the Ambanis are there) leaked from HSBC bank in Switzerland that have Indian addresses.

Rigid laws protect Swiss banks and the HSBC bought out an existing bank in 1999. In 2007, its IT expert, Hervé Falciani, hacked 30,000 accounts and escaped to France with the data. The data was reconstructed and distributed confidentially around the world by the French Tax Authorities. Read more about this background of misconduct in The Guardian.

Here is the first ten names out of a hundred:

1. UTTAMCHANDANI GOPALDAS WADHUMAL/family $54,573,535

2. MEHTA RIHAN HARSHAD/ family $53,631,788

3. THARANI MAHESH THIKAMDAS $40,615,288

4. GUPTA SHRAVAN $32,398,796

5. KOTHARI BHADRASHYAM HARSHAD/ family $31,555,874

6. SHAUNAK JITENDRA PARIKH/family $30,137,608

7. TANDON SANDEEP $26,838,488

8. AMBANI MUKESH DHIRUBHAI $26,654,991

9. AMBANI ANIL $26,654,991

10. KRISHNA BHAGWAN RAMCHAND $23,853,117

Indian Express recommends related post: HSBC sheltered murky cash linked to dictators, arms dealers

Additionally, I'd like to remind of Cobrapost's expose Operation Red Spider showing HSBC and Standard Chartered banks among banks offering money laundering services.

Even by the plummeting standards set in the last few months, the decision of the special CBI court in discharging Amit Shah, (accused no. 16 in the second chargesheet; accused no. 1 in the third chargesheet) in the Sohrabuddin encounter case, seems outrageous.

The Special CBI court without waiting for even the trial to commence, without weighing the evidence at length, seems to have suddenly concurred with the defence and the ruling party’s view that Amit Shah was caught in a political trap. Why this impatience with the process of the trial? And Shah is no ordinary accused, or accessory with a side role: he is accused of being the “king pin” or the mastermind of the triple murder.

“The entire record considered in totality”, says the court does not indicate to Shah’s role, and hence discharged him. However, what is the entire record? Even a simple, cursory looks suggest that in fact it is not hearsay but solid evidence of call details records, witness statements recorded under 161 and 164 CrPC, as well evidence of systematic and direct interference by Shah in the state CID probe into the encounter.

If the call details records were totally insignificant and proved nothing, why was there such a concerted effort to suppress all such information that pointed to Shah’s role?

The state CID investigations, which first led to the arrests of the senior police offcers, had taken on record phone call details between Shah and accused police officers. However, once the Supreme Court directed the transfer of investigation to the CBI, the CID failed to hand over the CD containing these phone conversations. A total of 331 conversations had been deleted from the record.

(“Another top cop under scanner for ‘erasing’ Amit Shah reference in CD” by Neeraj Chauhan andUjjwala Nayudu, Indian Express, 27 July 2010.

Link here: http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/another-top-cop-under-scanner-for--erasing--amit-shah-reference-in-cd/652299)

Shah attempted to sabotage CID enquiry

IGP Gita Johri, who was made in charge of the state CID investigation, recorded in Part B of her first report, how Shah attempted to sabotage the enquiry.  She has recorded that though she and the Investigating Officer Solanki did not face any “hurdle” initially, “However, as soon as the statements of witnesses pertaining to confinement of Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi in the Farm House of Shri Girish Patel at Ahmedabad came to be recorded, it came to the knowledge of Shri Vanzara and Shri Rajkumar Pandian [two of the accused officers]. It is further learnt that these officers brought the above facts to the notice of Respondent No. 2, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of State for Home, Government of Gujarat.”

It further states that Shah “brought to bear pressure” on the enquiry process, resulting in the enquiry papers being taken away from her “under the guise of scrutiny”. He “directed Shri G.C. Raigar, Additional Director General of Police, CID (Crime & Railways) to provide him with the list of witnesses, both police and private, who are yet to be contacted by CID (Crime) for recording their statement in the said enquiry. Such direction of Minister of State for Home goes beyond the scope of his office, was patently illegal and apparently designed to provide the same list to accused police officers ... so as to enable them to take measures in their defence.”

(See “Geetha Johri report speaks of ‘collusion of State government’”, By Neena Vyas, 5 May 2007,The Hindu. Link here: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/article1838149.ece)

Creative Reading by the CBI Court:

The CBI court did not entertain a note written by Gita Johri, in which the sentence “systematic efforts on the part of the state government” was struck out. The CBI’s case had been that this sentence had been omitted under Shah’s political pressure, whereas the court interpreted it to mean that Johri was not happy with the investigation done by the investigating officer. This is a flight of fancy, if there can be one.   In fact, it is a matter of record that Johri’s initial investigation, before she was removed, proved to be path breaking. However, when she was reinstated, she took a complete U-turn. So chaffed was the apex court with her that he chastised her, while praising the investigation of the IO Solanki. The Supreme Court observed the following:

“69. We have observed that from the record, it was found that Mr VL Solanki, an investigating officer, was proceeding in the right direction, but Ms Johri had not been carrying out the investigation in the right manner, in view of our discussions made here in above. It appears that Ms Johri had not made any reference to the second report of Solanki, and that though his first report was attached with one of her reports, the same was not forwarded to this Court.

  1. In the present circumstances and in view of the involvement of the police officials the State in this crime, we cannot shut our eyes and direct the State police authorities to continue with the investigation and the charge-sheet and for a proper and fair investigation, we also feel that CBI should be requested to take up the investigation and submit a report in this Court within six months from the date of handing over a copy of this judgment and the records relating to this crime to them.”

(Rubabuddin Sheikh v State of Gujarat reported in (2010) 2 SCC 200, p. 217.)

The Special CBI Court cannot act as though none of this happened. The “entire record” in fact points to Shah’s involvement. The conspiracy is that of three cold-blooded murders. By terming Shah’s implication in the triple murder fake encounter case as a political conspiracy carried out by CBI under directions from a rival political party, the special CBI court has cast aspersions on the Supreme Court which was monitoring the investigations closely at all stages.

Disregarding the statements of key witnesses:

The special CBI court also disregarded the statements of key witnesses: namely, the Patel brothers, Dashrath and Raman, proprietors of the successful Popular builders. Their statements to the CBI details how money was extorted from them and how they were being forced by Vanzara and cohorts to give a statement against Sohrabuddin. The statement describes a meeting as well telephonic conversation with Shah. This has been recorded under 164 CrPC, and yet this is not deemed evidence but hearsay?

One can only say that the pusillanimity of the CBI in first, not contesting Shah’s application of exemption from appearing before the court in encounter cases, then not challenging the bail to senior police officer N.K. Amin in the Supreme Court, then responding to Shah’s voluminous discharge application and marathon three day arguments with a perfunctory 15-20 minutes argument by a junior lawyer, had already made matters clear. The die had been cast on 16th May itself, when Amit Shah delivered the rich harvest of seats for the BJP.

But what it has exposed is the rot in our institutions: the u-turn of the CBI, the reinstatement of the accused cops on duty, some of them, such as Abhay Chudasma, being given coveted posting in the Vigilance squad. Worst of all, what it has shown is the abdication of even a modicum of judicial independence.

Released by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (31st December 2014)

Gujarat Police gave him the “choice” of being implicated in the Godhra train burning, Haren Pandya murder and Akshardham terror, one of the men acquitted by the Supreme Court in the temple attack case alleged on Tuesday.

Mohammed Saleem was eventually sentenced to life under POTA for involvement in the Akshardham case.
On May 16, the day Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi won his historic mandate, the Supreme Court set Saleem and five others free, pulling up the Gujarat Police for framing innocent people, and blaming the then home minister — Modi — for “non-application of mind”. Four of the six men had already spent over 10 years in jail.

“I had been working in Saudi Arabia for 13 years, when they picked me up alleging there was a problem with my passport. They beat me brutally — I still have scars on my back, and I suffered a fracture in my foot. They asked me which case I wanted to be charged under — Akshardham, Haren Pandya or Godhra. I did not know what to say,” Saleem told a press conference addressed by five of the six men in Delhi.
Saleem’s daughter was born four months after his arrest. He picked her up in his arms for the first time only after his release — the child is 10 years old now.

The world of Abdul Qaiyum Muftisaab Mohammed Bhai alias Mufti Abdul Qaiyum has changed completely in the 11 years that he spent in jail. His father is dead, and his family no longer lives in their old home. His acquittal by the Supreme Court, Qaiyum said, was “mere release from prison; justice had been buried at every moment in these 11 years”.

Qaiyum said the main charge against him was that two letters recovered from the two fidayeen killed in the terror attack had been written by him. He was framed, Qaiyum alleged.

“For three days and nights, they made me copy a letter that they had given me. They (the police) would bring an expert each day to check whether I had copied it well. They would ask me to copy the turns and twists of the Urdu letters so that they looked exactly the same as in the letter. I was very afraid, and did what they told me to do,” he said. “Then they claimed in court that I had written the letters.”
Qaiyum said that in jail, he met the police officers who had framed him, and asked them why they had done so. “I met G L Singhal. Though they (police officers) were kept separately, we sometimes bumped into each other. I told him (Singhal): ‘Please tell me why did you do this to me.’ His young son had committed suicide, and that had made him feel what grief was. He had no answer.”

Arshad Madani, president of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind which organised the press conference, said, “I am willing to talk things over with anybody to ensure such things do not happen, but I feahim (Singhal): ‘Please tell me why did you do this to me.’ His young son had committed suicide, and that had made him feel what grief was. He had no answer.”

Arshad Madani, president of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind which organised the press conference, said, “I am willing to talk things over with anybody to ensure such things do not happen, but I fear that there is a real chance that this will actually happen more often.”

He said the Jamiat would approach the Supreme Court to seek punishment for the officers who had framed the men. “Supreme Court and judiciary is our last hope. The government and the media have been biased, and an atmosphere has been created in which every Muslim is seen as a terrorist,” Madani said.r that there is a real chance that this will actually happen more often.”

He said the Jamiat would approach the Supreme Court to seek punishment for the officers who had framed the men. “Supreme Court and judiciary is our last hope. The government and the media have been biased, and an atmosphere has been created in which every Muslim is seen as a terrorist,” Madani said.

This article originally appears in the Indian Express. Reproducing it here because I don't trust our government enough that articles like this may not go missing in the future.