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1

When the state takes extreme steps that make no sense, I get curious. 's hanging being scheduled for the 30th of this month, while the key accused of the blasts are still at large is one such bizarre move. So I went around hunting for information on what else was going on. Here are some of the things I found out. They raise more questions than answers.

Chhota Shakeel tried to kill Chhota Rajan in Australia

On the 2nd of July, Times of published a report that described intercepted conversations between Chhota Shakeel and a key Rajan aide, who was convinced to reveal Chhota Shakeel's whereabouts in Newcastle, Australia. Times of India claims to have a copy of the intercept. A team from middle east was allegedly immediately sent to Australia. However, Chhota Rajan had already escaped after receiving a fortuitous tip off. The article also describes the 's relentless determination to eliminate an aged Chhota Rajan who is no longer a threat to them and describes previous attacks by Dawood's men to eliminate Chhota Rajan.

Dawood was involved in Chhota Shakeel's attempt on Chhota Rajan

Another report in the Times of India, also on the 2nd July said that a voice in the background, heard during a pause in the intercepted conversation between Chhota Shakeel and Rajan's aide was that of as confirmed by layered voice analysis. What the voice said is not reported.

This report also gives us an idea of the approximate date of the attempted on Chhota Rajan when it speaks of Chhota Shakeel being on the move for a month since mid-April when he went to Newcastle for the attack on Chhota Rajan. The report presumes he dropped off the radar after the intercepted conversations or the intelligence agencies would have approached the to arrest Shakeel (but not Rajan?).

*********************

Some background: Chhota Rajan was among key men of Dawood's gang before he split from Dawood due to internal rivalry and differences that got cemented after the 1993 Mumbai blasts. After the split, he escaped to Dubai with the help of Indian intelligence agencies in return for information on Dawood Ibrahim's operations. Intelligence agencies have also allegedly helped Chhota Rajan evade attempts on his life since then. Current NSA and then ex- head, Ajit Doval had also been caught once with Chhota Rajan's hit man Vicky Malhotra. Chhota Shakeel is still Dawood's key man. Chhota Rajan and Dawood Ibrahmin have since been bitter and bloody rivals with constant attempts to eliminate each other. Among India's plans for Dawood Ibrahmin remain a possibility for Chhota Rajan taking Dawood out.

An article in the Daily Mail News from November claims NSA Ajit Doval is forming links with ISIS to encourage an ISIS - TTP collaboration to destabilize Pakistan.

Given that Indian Intelligence agencies are unlikely to leave copies of intelligence intercepts lying around in public places or something, Times of India clearly got the tip off from them about a failed operation "early in the year" - as in, the news was not fresh.

Yasin Bhatkal could get help from Damascus

On 3rd July, 2015, a report in the Times of India stated that Yasin Bhatkal had told his wife that he would get help from Damascus to escape jail. This would seem unrelated to the Yakub Memon issue, except... Yasin Bhatkal used to allegedly be financed by Muzzaffar Kola of the Dossa gang which reported to..... Dawood Ibrahim.

Last year, Yasin Bhatkal's lawyer had received threats from underworld don Ravi Pujari who is currently said to be in Australia and is close to.... Chhota Rajan. Yasin Bhatkal had hardly made any news for months before this.

Chhota Shakeel reveals that Dawood Ibrahim wanted to return to India after 1993 blasts

On 4th July 2015, Times of India published a report of a telephonic interview with Chhota Shakeel in which Shakeel alleged "When we wanted to come back after 1993, you people, your government didn't allow. Bhai had himself spoken that time to Ram Jethmalani, that too in London... baat ho gayi thi... But your ministry... that Advani played the game,". This naturally led to a flurry of accusations and denials.

Other Chhota Shakeel quotes from the article:

"When agencies can hear me plotting against him (Rajan) and know where he is, why don't they get him picked up? Has he not killed people? Is he not a criminal?"

"Every time a new government comes, they make the first statement about us. Usko leke aayenge... ghus ke laayenge... Kya halwa hai? Bakri ka bachcha samajh ke rakha hai kya? Lana hai toh usko (Rajan) lao na,"

"He ran away like a mouse," Shakeel said. He claimed that not one but three key members of Rajan's group had crossed over to his side because of their confidence that they would be taken care of. "I look after even the family of Rajan's aides who had been killed by members of D-Company," (On the attack planned on Chhota Rajan reported by Times of India on the 2nd)

"Haven't killed anyone in Mumbai in the past 5-6 years. I don't want to kill innocents. He (Rajan) brings shooters from UP and gets people killed in our name. I want to continue my business. I invest money and take it back." From another report of the same interview.

On Chhota Raja's image as a Hindu gangster "This is 's job. Take him in the army, send him on the border if he is a patriot. (Patriot hai to army me le lo na... border pe bhejo na! Mulq ke liye kaam karega. Hindu don ka concept logo ka... media ka hai. He has killed all Hindus for money,"

On whether he thinks Indian intelligence agencies are soft on Chhota Rajan "We don't care. They can support him all they want, we will find him and kill him."

* An earlier interview by Chhota Shakeel to Rediff (after their first attempt on Chhota Rajan's life in Bangkok) establishes that the D-Company sees him as a traitor who grew large with their favor and betrayed them as well as stole gold from them.

** The part about Chhota Rajan killing Hindus in India is true. Among recent high profile murders is that of Jyotirmoy Dey, an investigative journalist working for MiD DAY. He is wanted in India in many criminal cases related to extortion, , smuggling, drug trafficking and film finance.

*** Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel are no saints either.

Chhota Rajan still in Australia

On the 5th of June, Times of India published another news report citing an unnamed source in the intelligence agencies that Chhota Rajan was still in Australia and had not left Australia (as reported in previous piece). Chhota Shakeel also was apparently aware of this fact and had not called off his hit men tracking Chhota Rajan in Australia.

Yasin Bhatkal claims threat to life and demands 24/7 surveillance

On 6th July, 2015, Yasin Bhatkal pled before a special court for NIA cases for CCTVs to be installed in his and for constant surveillance not only in jail, but also when being moved to court and back for hearings. Outside the jail, he pulled a letter from his pocket and threw it at reporters standing there. In the letter, he denies telling his wife about any help from Damascus or for escaping jail and fears that he could be killed in an encounter staging his escape.

refused to entertain a plea to bring Dawood Ibrahim back

8th July, 2015. The Supreme Court dismissed a plea by a previous Madhya Pradesh to bring Dawood Ibrahim back to India and that a special investigating team headed by SC judge be set up to probe why indian authorities were unwilling in bringing tje don back to country to face trial in various cases.

Daya Nayak suspended

9th July, 2015. Daya Nayak of the 83 encounters and disproportionate wealth and dubious dealings was suspended after he refused to go to Nagpur after he was transferred, citing a threat to his life.

warrant for Yakub Memon

On 15th July, 2015, a TADA court signed a death warrant for Yakub Memon, even as his mercy petition was pending in court.

Supreme Court turns down Yakub Memon's mercy petition.

22nd July 2015 Supreme Court turns down Yakub Memon's mercy petition "paving the way for his hanging" as expressed by the media.

White House Bar was demolished

28th July 2015, The White House dance bar, run by Ganesh Kamath, understood to be affiliated with Chhota Rajan's gang and owned by Meenakshi Singh, widow of Chhota Rajan's affiliate O P Singh, was demolished.

Supreme Court turned down Yakub Memon's curative petition

29th July The Supreme court turned down Yakub Memon's curative petition. The governor turned it down as well. The President's decision is awaited, but the indications are that the MHA is recommending against it. Other eminent persons are seeking an audience for another petition.

Yakub Memon hanged

30th July 2015. Yakub Memon was hanged early in the morning, on his 53rd birthday in Nagpur jail.

Is Yakub Memon's death warrant a message?

Numerous reports indicate that after the came to power this time, the gangwar is heating up again (if at all it ever cooled). Ajit Doval has a long term mission of bringing Dawood Ibrahim down. The D-Company, on the other hand seems to have stepped up the heat on Chhota Rajan, perceiving him to be an asset of the Indian intelligence (apart from their usual issues with him).

Yakub Memon is the brother of Tiger Memon, though the only place his name appears in relation with the underworld is the case where he's now got the death sentence. Both gangsters and their gangs have extensive networks in India. For example I later discovered from a source that the illegal White House dance bar, where the journalists were attacked and Raghavendra Dube got killed is a front for Chhota Rajan's activities. The source speculated that the journalists could have been attacked for trying to extort advertising revenue (as the too had accused) from the biggies of extortion, so to say. Four aides of Chhota Rajan were arrested from Dahisar by Mumbai police for extorting 15 crores from a businessman.

Ram Jethmalani stated that opposed the move to bring Dawood Ibrahim back to India when he had offered to return, fearing that their connections with him would be exposed. Sharad Pawar claimed that he refused Dawood Ibrahim's offer to return because one of the conditions of his return was that he would not go to jail! Apparently it was one thing to break a promise to Yakub Memon, sidekick with dubious culpability in actual attacks and quite another to bring the kingpin Dawood Ibrahim to India under false pretenses and then break a promise. South Africa had provided a RAW officer intel on fake identities used by Dawood Ibrahim as early as 1994. V Balachandran shares that the Indian government took his report and sat on it to date.

The Sunday guardian reports that according to US intelligence, 26/11 would not have been possible without Dawood Ibrahim's extensive network and contacts in India. Yet not only did an investigation into the Indian angle never happen, the sole attacker captured was put to death in a clandestine manner. Various people had raised questions around this at various times, from the Mossad conspiracy angle brought up by Great Game India blog to questions around Karkare's death and random anomalies like reports of a woman accompanying an attacker or white skinned attackers. Who was being protected and why?

Chhota Rajan indeed owes his survival to Indian intelligence agencies who are rumored to even tip off his people about raids by Mumbai police and seem to be counting on him to eliminate Dawood Ibrahim, even as threats, murders and crimes by his people in India mount. India has never issued a red corner notice against him, regardless of his crimes. Maharashtra government had briefly made a noise about asking to issue a red corner notice against him in the wake of the high profile murder of Jyotirmoy Dey by his hit men, and that news appears to have sunk without a trace, since. Indian intelligence clearly knew where Chhota Rajan was, when Chhota Shakeel called the hit on him. Yet the news reports only indicate that Shakeel would be arrested with the help of Australian government if he hadn't dropped off the radar. Why was there no question of Chhota Rajan being arrested?

These are both dangerous gangs that have committed crimes in India engaged in a blood feud.

Is the Yakub Memon death warrant or Yasin Bhatkal's claim of threat to his life in a staged encounter, coming on the heels of Chhota Shakeel's attempts on Chhota Rajan a message "to whomsoever-it-may-concern" to lay off Chhota Rajan "or your people could die"? Is it a way of getting Tiger Memon to pressure his associates to back off from their chase of Chhota Rajan?

More importantly for India, is our system becoming a pawn in a gang war?

Note: I am no expert on the underworld, and this is merely a compilation from news reports in the public domain.

3

Just look around and you will realize the state of affairs in our country. All of our villages have roads and there are plenty of vehicles that run on them carrying modern fertilizers and hybrid seeds. Tractors have reached villages and farmers in remote areas are capable of modern cultivation. Watching TV, we keep abreast of whatever happens anywhere in the world. We can contact a person anywhere on the telephone through the satellite. Science has made all this possible to the villagers. However, with all these facilities made available by science, the villagers in Maharashtra, slaughter, every year, 5 to 7 lakh goats and innumerable chicken in order to fulfill their superstitious vows. Among them are a number of educated people who do not feel what they do is not in accord with their education. It is a well-known fact that to be possessed is a psychic condition, a kind of mental illness; and yet in all Navaratri festivals, on full moon and new moon days and in village fairs, women are possessed by some deity and dance vigorously, oblivious of them. People worship these noisy humming and dancing women taking them to be the deities that possess them. They gleefully exploit the products of science but refuse to adopt the scientific outlook. We use the latest computer; and perform Satyanarayan pooja to inaugurate the computer service. Using the computer and the performing pooja are mutually inconsistent. But we do not mind it because we want to use science but not adopt scientific way of thinking.

Scientific Outlook in the Past

Some people claim that this scientific outlook is not at all new to India; it has been there for ages. What existed in our country in the ancient past is, in fact, a matter for anyone to imagine the way he likes. A reference to the Pushpak Yan in the Ramayan means that we had aeroplanes and Brahmastra means the existence of atom bombs in those days. One does not need to refute these claims because it is more important to analyze why we are in such a dire state today if we had all these technologically advanced appliances in the past? Later on we can examine whether it is sheer imagination or things really existed as is claimed by some. But one thing is clear. We did not have any philosophy in the past that can be compared with what is called scientific outlook today. What we did have was rough estimates, assumptions and lengthy studies based on careful observations and genius of our people in the past. Whatever significant contribution India did make has been recognized by the world. The zero, for example, that has removed a big mathematical obstacle, is an Indian invention. It is attributed to Bhaskaracharya. Another scientist of acclaim, in those days was a chemist, Nagarjun. He invented the process of combining silver and gold with copper. Amarsinha classified the animal and plant kingdoms. Varahamiheer knew that the sun is a star and not a planet even in those days. Copernicus known for the Copernican revolution, that changed the center of the world from the earth to the sun, had said, ‘ the sun seems to be revolving round the earth, but in reality it is just the opposite of it. The sun is the center while the earth revolves round it.’ Aryabhatta initiated this concept in the 5th century, in India. We have honored him by naming our first satellite after him. (Incidentally Aryabhatta was not a Bhatt, i.e., a Brahmin but a Kshatreeya.) People ridiculed his idea. They argued, ‘If the earth revolves, as you say, how do we who, stand on it and perform all sorts of activities not fall off as the earth moves? Again how is it that the birds that leave their nests in the morning can find them on their return in the evening, when the earth has moved ahead?’ The point here is that we did have a process of critical thinking in the 5th and 6th century AD. This wisdom we had attained through observation, experience and discussion and were important and useful. However this process of acquiring knowledge cannot be called scientific outlook. In the next ten to twelve centuries the tradition of critical thinking also almost disappeared. A few good kings, eminent philosophers and littérateurs were born during this period, but no scientists. All debate centered on trivial matters such as who should and should not dine with whom; how should one wear the sacred and mundane dhoti; how many strands should there be in the sacred thread; should one eat onions and garlic during the four sacred months of the year; how drinking cow’s urine and brushing one’s face with its tail give you merit and emancipate your soul and so on. The rest of the world was following a different path. The Portuguese brought the revolutionary art of printing into Goa in 1550. It saved huge time that was required to copy manuscripts by hand. Spreading knowledge would have become very easy, but it took nearly three hundred years for this invention to reach the rest of India.

Development of Scientific Outlook

Scientific outlook was not developed in our society. Since it is essential to have such an outlook, Indira Gandhi amended the constitution. Till then only the rights of a citizen were mentioned in the constitution. With the amendment of 1976, along with the rights, a citizen’s duties were also included in the constitution. One of these duties is, ‘Every citizen should endeavor to spread scientific outlook, critical attitude and humanism in the society.’ The core content of the ‘new education policy’ of Rajiv Gandhi included ‘inculcation of scientific attitude’. Scientific attitude is an important part of our life. Is it something very serious, quite difficult to understand and meant only for a few people? No not at all. All of us use it in our normal life. ? No not at all. All of us use it in our normal life. If I want to go to Bhandara from Satara, to attend a function, I would ask a friend as to how to go about it. He tells me, there is a train from Satara that will take me to Bhandara. When I ask him, on what basis does he say so, he tells me that he remembers having seen it in his dream six months ago. Another friend told me that I would have to go to Pune and take a train from there. When I requested him to substantiate his information, he said, he had heard someone telling his friend, two months ago, at Pune railway station, that he went to Bhandara by a train. A third friend told me that I need not go to Pune since the Maharashtra express can take me directly to Bhandara. ‘How can he ascertain this information?’ I asked him. He replied that 15 days back he had been to Satara railway station where somebody was telling this to somebody else who wanted to go to Bhandara. A fourth friend told me that one has to go to Nagpur by the Maharashtra express, then go to the bus terminus and take a bus going to Bhandara that will reach me there in about two and half hours. I asked him how can I be sure of what he told me, he said he had been to Bhandara for some work by this route only a couple of days back. Now out of these four friends whom should I rely on, the most and on whom the least? The least on the one who saw something in his dream, six months back; may be, a little on the one who heard someone telling about it to another person; I can rely on the third friend a little more who heard about it at the Satara railway station fifteen days ago and the most on the fourth friend who himself had been to Bhandara, just two days ago. We rely to the extent we have reliable evidence. The same practical criterion that we all commonly use is the basis of Scientific Outlook.

We rely to the extent we have reliable evidence. The same practical criterion that we all commonly use is the basis of Scientific Outlook.

Method of Verifying the Evidence

How does one verify evidence? The process of scientific thinking is the method that is used for doing this. The factors that constitute this method are: Observation, Logic, Inference and Verification (this is of three types, viz., direct, repeated and universal), followed by experiment. What comes out of this is the scientific outlook. All the discoveries made so far are the result of some observation. We are taught in school about steam energy discovered by James Watt. The story goes thus. James Watt was engrossed in his thought. A kettle was boiling by his side. When enough steam gathered in the kettle its lid fell off. James put the lid back on the kettle. It fell off again after a little while. A few repetitions set him thinking about the reason for the lid coming off. He did not imagine a ghost in the kettle. He reasoned that since the lid comes off again and again, there must be something inside that pushes it out. This reasoning resulted in the discovery of energy contained in the steam, which led to the industrial revolution in Europe. Another example: we celebrate 28th February as National Science Day, because C.V. Raman’s discovery of ‘Raman effect’ was published in world-renowned magazine ‘Nature’. Later he won the Nobel Prize for it. How did he discover it? He was going to England in a liner. Every day he used to go to the deck and see the deep blue sky above and the deep blue sea below. He was curious to know why. Now he could have praised God for creating the beautiful blue sky above and the beautiful sea below. But, he did not do that. He started reasoning and discovered a novel scientific truth. Thus, scientific outlook starts from observing phenomena and asking oneself the question ‘why’.

Now one cannot expect to prove everything by observation. Suppose you have lost your way in a jungle in the evening. You need to reach some small settlement before night. Since you do not know where such a cluster of hutments can be found, you would not know which way to go. Then if you see some smoke going up at a dozen places by the side of a hill, you think this may be an indication of a settlement and you take the path towards it. What is the basis of your choice? You have not seen any men or a settlement or their fireplaces. But you know that wherever firewood is used for cooking, there is smoke and in the jungle, firewood is used for cooking. Evening is the time for cooking dinner and if food is being cooked in every hutment, there would be a dozen places from where the smoke can rise. So you deduce that there must be people living there and they are preparing their dinner. On the basis of this logic you proceed in that direction and your deduction turns out to be correct. Scientific outlook consists of firstly observation, secondly reasoning (or logic) where observation is not possible and thirdly inference. Let me explain the third constituent, inference. A friend of yours, who is a late riser, suggests that you accompany him for a walk at sunrise next morning. He promises to come to your house very early next day. Since you know he is incapable of doing this, would you argue with him, ‘Oh, you want to go for a walk at sunrise, but how are you sure that the Sun will rise tomorrow?’ No you won’t. But how does one know that the Sun is going to rise tomorrow? When we give appointments several days in advance, how do we know that those days are going to break on this earth? We deduce this from our knowledge that the Sun has been rising regularly in the morning for the last 460 crore years. It has not taken any leave at all. If it does that even for a day, it can cause a permanent “leave” for all the living things on earth. Since the Sun has been rising regularly so far, you infer that it will do so even tomorrow and plan to go for a walk in the morning. This is inference.

The next factor is verification. We have already seen that it consists of three parts: verification, repeated verification and universal verification. What is verification? Adi Shankaracharya had said, even if hundred wise men tell you that fire is cool, will you believe it? No, you will not. If those hundred wise men say, ‘not only do we say it, but it is also written in the book’, you would reply, ‘I do have a lot of respect for all of you but the direct evidence, my own experience, tells me that if I put my hand in fire it will burn.’ Verification by direct experience is an important part of scientific outlook. Now we will see what is repeated experience. Someone tells you that using a certain enchanted ring will secure employment for the user within one month. You ask him to give you proof. He then says that he had used it and later his neighbor had used it and both got jobs within a month. What you should argue with him, is that if the same experience is repeated a large number of times, then we should make ten thousand such rings and distribute them among ten thousand unemployed youth. If they all get jobs within a month then we can accept that this ring does have some supernatural power of securing jobs for the unemployed. We cannot draw conclusions from just one or two examples. For drawing conclusions you need a very large number of such examples. This is the crux of the scientific outlook. Again this experience or verification has to be universal. It cannot be science without being universal. If you say that only the residents of that particular city will get jobs on using the ring, it will not be acceptable as scientific truth. If the ring really is capable of getting a job for the user, any body anywhere should get a job within a month on using it. If a medicine is developed for a particular disease, it will cure any person suffering from that disease any where in the world. When the law of gravitation was proved, it could be applied anywhere in the world to verify it. Thus scientific outlook is founded on direct verification that is repeated in very large number and is universally applicable.

Experiment is the last important constituent of scientific outlook. Anybody should be able to verify scientific truths by conducting required experiments. Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade. It means that water will boil at this temperature anywhere in the world, be it Bombay, Calcutta, London or Madras. If it boils at a lower or higher temperature at any place, you have another universal law that explains why and to what extent the boiling point of water rises or drops. It is not that water will boil at 90 degree centigrade in Mumbai and save fuel because the residents of Mumbai are very religious, while the residents of Moscow being atheist water boils there at 110degrees centigrade. One can verify it by experiment. So observation, the question ‘why so’ based on the observation, then reasoning or logic where observation is not possible, followed by inference and verification and lastly experiment are the steps that build the scientific outlook. There is a lot of value content too in the scientific outlook. It tells how a human being should look at life in general. The value content dwells in the method of scientific thinking.

Independent Movement to Eradicate Superstitions

Every body feels that with the spread of science education and modernization, superstitions will automatically disappear by and by. No special efforts are needed to do that. Say, for example from a totally dark room we cannot dig out the darkness. Just light a candle and the darkness will vanish. A petromax will make it brighter, while a tube light will make it brighter still. When the day breaks out and as the sun reaches the zenith the room is flooded with light from all sides. Darkness has no room there. Superstition means the darkness of ignorance. So it goes without saying that with the light of knowledge and science the darkness of ignorance i.e., superstition will simply melt away. Had this concept materialized, we would have been the happiest people for, in that case, such a huge movement would not have been necessary at all.

Originally published by Dr. Narendra Dabholkar on antisuperstition.org. It has been republished here to propagate rationalist thinking and as a mark of solidarity with his beliefs. Do visit the site for more thought provoking rationalist commentary.

This is an old post from 2006:

speedwell cavern titan cave entrance derbyshireLONDON (AFP) - Potholers have discovered the country's deepest cave beneath a hillside in central England, using an account by an 18th-century underground explorer, which only recently resurfaced.

The spectacular hole -- named Titan by those who found it -- is some 140 metres (460 feet) deep, stretching further underground than the height of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

"It's like the inside of a cathedral -- just magnificently beautiful," said Morland Sanders, who was the first non-potholer to abseil down the shaft.

"It's an incredible place, awesome," he told The Guardian newspaper Tuesday.

Local potholer Dave Nixon found an underground entrance into the cavern, in the Peak District in Derbyshire, after discovering an account by an obscure 18th-century academic in the University of Cambridge library.

In a paper written in 1793, James Plumtree described a network of caves found after descending into a lead mine near a local fissure known for centuries as the Devil's Arsehole.

peak cavern entrance titan cave castletonBut a rockfall had apparently blocked access to the caverns, and it took potholers three years to hack their way through.

"It wasn't a matter of stumbling, it was a lot of research and a lot of hard work," Nixon told the BBC, which has made a television documentary about the discovery.

After having broken through underground it became obvious that the cavern stetched upwards to near the surface, and a man-made shaft was dug from the hillside into the gaping hole.

The new entrance from ground level can be used by abseilers to reach the bottom of the cave, saving a five-hour underground journey.

Titan is nearly 60 metres (200 feet) deeper than the previous record holder, Gaping Gyhll in the Yorkshire Dales in northern England.

24

Last Christmas morning London was surprised to see Eid trending ahead of Christmas in twitter. Later it turned to be the work of an Islamic right wing group. Right wing groups can organize and mobilize far better than others, and the misinformed tend to be militant. In India, communalism and secularism have been extremely politicized to a stage where political parties openly defend riots for electoral engineering. Online, ‘Internet Hindus’ came into being before broadband internet became common. (Still the state with highest internet penetration records only 3% penetration).

While BJP has been trying to project itself as a modern right wing party, its vote base has been what it achieved during Ayodhya movement. Being able to provide an alternative to the Congress helped BJP to grow further. Being unable to reach that separation from the right wing extremists that brought it to power the last two times has left it in a precarious position. Party with a difference became a party with differences. Since the people rejected its divisive communalism after Gujarat riots, it has been hard for BJP to establish its media presence. National media distanced from the Hindutva ideology. Attacks by police on media personnel didn't help matters.

B Raman's observations on BJP strategies to regain its media presence are fascinating. They believed media didn’t give enough space for their ideology (or wanted better coverage anyway). The rise of social media was a new beginning, and the right wing decided to focus much of its energy on consolidating control of social media. Kanchan Gupta is believed to be the ‘chef de mission’ and the one to successfully organize a network for the saffron pariwar. But beyond the agenda, it evolved to a group for pushing Narendra Modi as PM for 2014. A sudden epidemin of anonymous handles appeared in twitter; showering abuse on each and every one whomever they found contradicting their ideology. Dissent was labeled ‘Korrupt Congressi’. Supporters of the party with the majority were dubbed anti-nationals by a party that lost two consecutive elections. Logic stopped mattering. It was a war of dominance.

They created a system of social censorship in twitter using abusive trolling and twitter trend defamation, labeled according to taste. Notable and influential people got attacked. Defaming information was spread about them. Articles against their interest were countered with a series of replies or blogs. Also personal attacks were launched on those writers and those who liked their work. The same people who perfected the art of troubling with defamatory suits perfected the art of abuses to mute opinion. Many accounts were blocked by those who got trolled, only for new handles to be spawned.

They blackmailed the media to fall in with their agenda with a high decibel negative campaign with their mobilized workers. The think-tanks used the mobilized trolls as vectors of the information to spread for the crowd sourcing journalists to win mainstream media presence. Manipulating the initial reaction, deliberate misinterpretation followed by organized mud slinging and derailing debates that were disadvantageous to them were important roles played by this virtual army. This was magnified by innocent people convinced by their campaigns to create a loose knit community of extremist thought that thrives on polarization and has very low analytical skills as a group, usually fed subtle “insights” by leaders. When expressed in 140 characters the truth was missing in trends. As a strategy, this was fairly effective. They used their network to aggravate the negativity of their opposition and alleviate the impacts of its own negativity.

Psywar tactics.

Casual observation over time seemed to point to this agenda:

Media should become resistant to negatives of Modi and his positives must get more coverage in MSM

Create disillusionment and fatigue among netizens with the current political system to a stage, where Modi’s authoritarian style of leadership is accepted by the educated youth. Better still, sold as the “lesser evil” - the only thing that can fix existing problems.

Channelize outrage among people and extract maximum political mileage from it. Impressive organization fuels this with data to support only the view they wish to showcase.

Keep the ideologically opposite liberals under check and systematically silence by creating fear or nuisance to the point of dysfunction.

Another strategy to combat dissent seems to be swarming the target person and overwhelming with many token challenges. They don't stand to scrutiny, but cannot all be answered because of the sheer number – this can then be presented as “having no reply to the truth” - a kind of human DdoS.

Attack political rivals, devalue them in public opinion by making them the brunt of ridicule trends. This became easier because the congress is yet to have a social media cell, though stray people irate with the nuisance or attacks on themselves now seem to be self-organizing. So sometimes you have troll wars 😀

The network has been used for vicious misinformation campaigns that create and sustain communal polarization. Many usually neutral commentators B Raman, Vidyut, Sonali Ranade, Shivam Vij, others openly criticized abusive trolling strategies in social media. Some use wit and facts to combat and turn their methods into an expose of them. Others block or ignore. Tired with trolls, Salil Tripathy sarcastically changed his twitter bio with the labels he received from them
“CryptoMuslim gutter intellectual/Italian Mafia Sepoy/green terrorist+westernized leftist thug+braincell deficit Hindu hater”

Namitha Bhandare wrote a brilliant column on abusive trolls. It spread rapidly on Twitter with enough people frustrated with the trolls. The right wing launched an attack on her which have not stopped yet (check this google result for a snapshot view of the method and madness).

============ guest post by Aby Hydros, edited by Vidyut ==============

2

A PIL has been filed by Anand Jondhale in the Mumbai High Court about irregularities in Sailing. Some of the stories are among those I exposed here. Others are ones I had been meaning to write. This quick post just places it all out for your convenience.

The PIL names:

  1. Union of India
  2. State of Maharashtra
  3. The Secretary of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports
  4. President, The Yachting Association of India (YAI)
  5. Captain Homi Motivala
  6. Captain Arvind Raghuwanshi
  7.  Lt. Col Gautama Dutta
  8. Captain Monty Khanna
  9. Captain Rajesh Sarin
  10. The Commissioner of Customs
  11. Central Intelligence Unit
  12. The Chief Commissioner of Customs,Zone-I
  13. The Director of Income Tax (Intelligence)
  14. The Special Director,  Directorate of Enforcement
  15. The Ministry of Shipping Mercantile
  16. The Chief Surveyor and Marine Engineer
  17. The Secretary, Home Department
  18. Mr. Anil Ambani
  19. Mrs. Tina Ambani
  20. M/s. Reliance Transport & Travels Pvt. Ltd.
Quoting salient parts of the petition. You can download the original petition here: Sailgate - PIL filed in Mumbai High Court

This Petition is being moved for an exemplary action in relation to corruption by certain personnel of Armed forces in the Sports of Yachting, illegal commercial exploitation of boats/yachts for personal benefits without valid permissions and customs clearance which has resulted in huge misappropriation of taxpayers money spent by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for winning an Olympic Medal in the Sports of Yachting and the unchecked, unimpeded, unhindered, unrestricted movements of boats and yachts which has already caused a gigantic terror attack on the city of Mumbai on 26th November, 2008.

...

4.1 The Petitioner states that, the Government of India is spending crores of rupees through the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to win an Olympic medal in the sport of yachting and this is done through Yachting Association of India (YAI) which is headed by none other than the Chief of Naval Staff. The Petitioner would like to bring the following facts to the notice and request for exemplary action in relation to corruption by certain personnel of the armed forces in the sport of yachting and illegal commercial exploitation of boats for personal benefits without valid permissions and customs clearance. The Petitioner states that, in June 2005, the Honorary Secretary General of the YAI had reported cases of misappropriation of Government funds by some serving / retired armed forces personnel. A xerox copy of report of the Honorary Secretary General of the YAI dated 03/06/2005 is annexed herewith and marked as Annexure “A” to this Petition.
The Petitioner states that, It was brought to the notice of the President YAI, that a few yachtspersons who had participated in overseas events, during 2004 - 2005, had allegedly submitted false bills and supporting documents and thus claimed excess funds from the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India, through the YAI.

4.2. The Petitioner states that, accordingly, the Indian Navy conducted an enquiry to ascertain the facts and determine the total amount misappropriated, so that necessary action could be initiated to punish the guilty and the excess money claimed by submission of false bills by them could be refunded to the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India. The Petitioner further states that, It was established that some of the yacht persons had indeed falsified bills, receipts and other supporting documents and claimed excess funds. A copy of the report dated 28/11/2005 submitted by Captain Rajesh Sarin to the Honorary Secretary General is annexed herewith and marked as Annexure “B” to this Petition.
The Petitioner states that, it can be noted that while the investigation / inquiry were conducted most of those who had submitted false accounts were serving with either the Indian Navy / Indian Army and once it was established that they were guilty of misappropriation of Government funds, no action was initiated to punish the guilty and for unknown reasons token sums were recovered and deposited with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India in late 2011. A copy of the YAI letter dated 22/11/2011 is annexed herewith and marked as Annexure “C” to this Petition.

4.3. The Petitioner further states that, those found guilty of embezzlement were quietly let off and Captain Homi Motivala, Captain Arvind Raghuwanshi and Lt Col Gautama Dutta resigned from the armed forces, without any action being taken against them. The Petitioner states that, it is pertinent to mention that when the enquiry was being conducted by Captain Rajesh Sarin, the then President of the YAI and Chief of the Naval Staff had appointed Captain Monty Khanna as the Secretary General of the YAI. It was during his tenure that the necessary actions on the guilty had to be initiated, however, he manipulated the system in such a manner that all those found guilty were permitted to get away. The same officer, who is now promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, has once again been appointed as the Secretary General. This is in utter disrespect of the high standards of morality that should be exercised by the Indian Armed Forces and action needs to be forthwith taken on the guilty and the YAI Secretary.

4.4 The Petitioner further states that, some of the yachtspersons are operating bank accounts in foreign countries. It is pertinent to mention that no individual is permitted to open a bank account outside India without the approval of the Reserve Bank of India, however, despite knowing the rules no action was ever initiated against such officers by the administrators of the YAI. Several of the active defense personnel and participating in government funded sports events have been fraudulently claiming pension from the ministry of sports and youth affairs since 1998 despite being actively participating and claiming sports prize. The Petitioner states that, YAI had recommended Captain Homi Motivala for the cash award, for coaching sailors, who had won a Gold Medal at the World Championship. This bogus claim of coaching was refuted by some members of the YAI and when it was established that the claim had been irregularly made, Captain Motivala, was asked to donate Rs. 7.50 lakhs to the YAI and no further action was ever taken. In addition, Captain Motivala was recommended for award of the Dronacharya Award which was conferred by the Government of India in 2003. The Petitioner states that, it is pertinent to mention that when it was found that he was not eligible for the cash award or conferment of National honor, why no action was ever taken to revoke these awards and even today these officers get their monthly pension for cheating. A xerox copy an email dated 03/05/2004 from Commodore S. K. Mongia to Admiral Madhvendra Singh describing aforesaid illegal activities is annexed herewith and marked as Annexure “D” to this Petition.

4.5 The Petitioner states that, Property of the Indian Navy is being commercially utilized by a Private Limited Company which has been registered with the address of Indian Naval Waterman Ship Training Centre, Colaba, Mumbai. Commander R Mahesh,a serving Naval Officer, is one of the Board of Directors of this Private Limited Company. This is against all rules of the Armed Forces. How can pvt ltd company operate from defence property? A copy of the incorporation certificate and PAN CARD of the said company is annexed herewith and marked as Annexure “E” to this Petition.

The Petitioner states that, there was a time when the citizens of India, our great country used to look at the officers of the armed forces with great respect due to their dedication to this country and for their willingness to sacrifice their lives to protect the country. However the incidents highlighted above, have tarnished the image of the armed forces. The xerox copies of the news paper reports regarding the scam committed by the Respondents Nos. 5 to 7 are annexed herewith and marked Annexure “F” to this petition.

4.6. The Petitioner states that, Lt Col Gautam Dutta has been found guilty of several financial irregularities in the Army Court of Inquiry but his father Maj Gen S Dutta threatened and pressurized the enquiry officer. Lt Col Gautam Dutta quietly resigned from the Army to escape punishment and set up Marine Solutions Pvt Ltd to import luxury yachts for the rich and famous. The Petitioner states that at the behest of Respondents Nos. 18 to 19, 120 feet luxury yacht TIAN was imported by marine solutions by fraud to cheat the customs of import levies. The xerox Copy of the notice u/s. 124 of the Customs Act issued by the Commissioner of Customs (Imports) in this matter is annexed herewith and marked as Annexure “G” to this Petition.

TIAN was impounded by the Customs and it was given provisional release restricting the movement of the TIAN yacht. TIAN commander captain Homi Motivala who also resigned from the Navy because of an enquiry into financial irregularities and got Dronacharya award on bogus claims has been filing false TIAN YACHT MOVEMENT REPORTS with the Customs. TIAN is not supposed to leave Mumbai harbour without customs approval but the Goa Port Master and Harbor Master reports show that TIAN has been in Goa Panaji port regularly. Commander Homi Motivala has submitted passenger and cargo manifest of TIAN yacht with Goa Port Authority at the same time the Customs Fortnightly Movement reports shows TIAN is in Mumbai harbor. The Petitioner states that, TIAN is a Pleasure Yacht from Ferretti, Italy and cannot be used for any other purpose except for passenger transport but the Cargo manifest submitted with the Panaji Port reveals Iron Ore cargo on TIAN. After inflatable dinghy-borne terrorists laid siege to Mumbai in the country’s worst terror attack four years ago, security agencies and politicians both at the Centre and State had spoken of improving coastal security. Four years later little seems to have changed. The xerox copies of Detention Memo, Port Clearances, Vessel Profile, Provisional Release Letter are annexed herewith and marked as Annexure “H Coll.” to this Petition.

4.7 The Petitioner states that, Marine Solutions also operates an illegal party barge ISOLA at the restricted Mora coast, Uran. ISOLA was originally constructed as a dumb service pontoon meant for transportation of waste and scraps from ship to shore and was registered as DUMB SERVICE PONTOON PIT STOP at KALYAN in 2009 but has been operating as a luxury floating hotel ISOLA from 2010 onwards by Lt Col Gautam Dutta and his father Maj Gen S Dutta without permission or approvals from Mumbai Port Trust, Mercantile Marine Department of the Shipping Ministry, Coast Guard, Navy and the local authorities like the Maharashtra Maritime Board. ISOLA is frequented by top business corporates and bureaucrats with music and free flowing liquor on the high seas posing grave security threat and risk to the shipping traffic and underground power and data cables linking the commercial capital Mumbai to the financial world centers viz. Hong Kong, Singapore, London and New York. All relevant documents are annexed herewith and marked as Annexure “I” to this Petition.

....

:: SYNOPSIS ::

Year 2003:

Captain Motivala was recommended for award of the Dronacharya Award which was conferred by the Government of India.

03/05/2004:
Commodore S. K. Mongia writes to Admiral Madhvendra Singh describing the illegal activities of the Respondents Nos. 5 to 7.

June 2005:
The Honorary Secretary General of the YAI had reported cases of misappropriation of Government funds by some serving / retired armed forces personnel. It was established that some of the yacht persons had indeed falsified bills, receipts and other supporting documents and claimed excess funds.
YAI had recommended Captain Homi Motivala for the cash/Dronacharya award, for coaching sailors, who had won a Gold Medal at the World Championship.This bogus claim of coaching was refuted by some members of the YAI and when it was established that the claim had been irregularly made, Captain Motivala, was asked to donate Rs. 7.50 lakhs to the YAI.

2009-10:
Property of the Indian Navy is being commercially utilized by a Private Limited Company which has been registered by the Respondents Nos. 5 to 7 with the address of Indian Naval Waterman Ship Training Centre, Colaba, Mumbai. Commander R Mahesh,a serving Naval Officer, is one of the Board of Directors of this Private Limited Company. This is against all rules of the Armed Forces. How can pvt ltd company operate from defence property?

22/11/2011:
While the investigation / inquiry were conducted most of those who had submitted false accounts were serving with either the Indian Navy / Indian Army and once it was established that they were guilty of misappropriation of Government funds, no action was initiated to punish the guilty and for unknown reasons token sums were recovered and deposited with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Year 2011 :
Lt Col Gautam Dutta (R.No.7) quietly resigned from the Army to escape punishment and set up Marine Solutions Pvt Ltd to import luxury yachts for the rich and famous. At the behest of Respondents Nos. 18 to 19, 120 feet luxury yacht TIAN was imported by Marine solutions by fraud to cheat the customs of import levies. A notice u/s. 124 of the Customs Act was issued by the Commissioner of Customs (Imports) in this matter.

TIAN was impounded by the Customs and it was given provisional release restricting the movement of the TIAN yacht. TIAN commander captain Homi Motivala who also resigned from the Navy because of an enquiry into financial irregularities and got Dronacharya award on bogus claims has been filing false TIAN YACHT MOVEMENT REPORTS with the Customs. TIAN is not supposed to leave Mumbai harbour without customs approval but the Goa Port Master and Harbor Master reports show that TIAN has been in Goa Panaji port regularly. Commander Homi Motivala has submitted passenger and cargo manifest of TIAN yacht with Goa Port Authority at the same time the Customs Fortnightly Movement reports shows TIAN is in Mumbai harbor. The Petitioner states that, TIAN is a Pleasure Yacht from Ferretti, Italy and cannot be used for any other purpose except for passenger transport but the Cargo manifest submitted with the Panaji Port reveals Iron Ore cargo on TIAN. After inflatable dinghy-borne terrorists laid siege to Mumbai in the country’s worst terror attack four years ago, security agencies and politicians both at the Centre and State had spoken of improving coastal security. Four years later little seems to have changed.

Marine Solutions also operates an illegal party barge ISOLA at the restricted Mora coast, Uran. ISOLA was originally constructed as a dumb service pontoon meant for transportation of waste and scraps from ship to shore and was registered as DUMB SERVICE PONTOON PIT STOP at KALYAN in 2009 but has been operating as a luxury floating hotel ISOLA from 2010 onwards by Lt Col Gautam Dutta and his father Maj Gen S Dutta without permission or approvals from Mumbai Port Trust, Mercantile Marine Department of the Shipping Ministry, Coast Guard, Navy and the local authorities like the Maharashtra Maritime Board. ISOLA is frequented by top business corporate and bureaucrats with music and free flowing liquor on the high seas posing grave security threat and risk to the shipping traffic and underground power and data cables linking the commercial capital Mumbai to the financial world centers viz. Hong Kong, Singapore, London and New York.