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22

We, the undersigned, are shocked by the serial raids across the country on the homes of activists and public intellectuals who are critical of the government and the ruling party at the Centre. The arrests of prominent activists and intellectuals Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Kranthi Tekula and others, are nothing but an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalised. This is also an attempt by the BJP to invent a false enemy and engage in scaremongering in order to polarise the 2019 elections in its favour. Already, the government and the media houses close to the BJP have been trying to spin a false narrative of a Maoist conspiracy since June, 2018. Terms like “urban naxals” are invented in order to stifle any criticism of the government. We have learnt that the Delhi Police, after having arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, waited for Republic TV to arrive before taking her to the court. This simply shows that the arrests are incomplete without the accompanying sensationalist media propaganda to demonise activists, human rights defenders and intellectuals.

The so-called raids carried out on the houses of these activists are aimed at creating a spectacle, as the writings and views of these intellectuals are already publicly known and are well documented. This seems like a conspiracy to divert attention from the gravity of the Sanatan Sanstha conspiracy to carry out serial bomb attacks on Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi! The same Sanatan Sanstha was also involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, as per the ongoing investigations by Karnataka police. Today’s arrests have been carried out in order to give cover to the murderers of Gauri Lankesh. People like Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and others who have been arrested are friends of the people who have dedicated their entire lives to the betterment of the Indian public. By arresting them, the BJP is only exposing its insecurities and its intolerance to any dissent or criticism of its policies.

The arrests should be seen in continuation with the recent attacks on pro-justice voices such as Swami Agnivesh, Umar Khalid and many other student activists from Delhi to Lucknow. A BJP lawmaker from Karnataka even advocated the murder of “intellectuals.” Both the arrests and the physical attacks on justice loving people must be seen in a series of attempts to stifle dissent and deny social justice.

We demand immediate release of the arrested individuals, dropping of all false and malicious charges, as these arrests are politically motivated and unjustified.

Shehla Rashid Shora, former Vice-President, JNU Students’ Union.

Mohit Pandey, former President, JNU Students’ Union.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Author, Journalist, Publisher.

Neha Dixit, Journalist.

Jignesh Mevani, MLA Vadgam, Gujarat.

Sanam Sutirath Wazir, Human Rights Activist.

Nakul Singh Sawhney, Documentary Filmmaker.

Teesta Setalvad, Journalist and Social Activist.

Harish Iyer, Equal Rights Activist.

Swami Agnivesh, Arya Samaj, Social Activist.

Admiral L Ramdas

Lalita Ramdas

Shabnam Hashmi

Vidyut, blogger.

Ashok Bharati, Dalit Leader

Maj Priyadarshi Chowdhury, SC, ESM Activist & Coordinator Joint Agitation of Farmers, Dalits & ESMs

Shri VM Singh, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan

Kumar Prashant, Chairman, Gandhi Peace Foundation to the statement

If you agree with the above statement, please add your name in the comments and I will periodically add names to the post.

Mumbai, 25th January, 2017: Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG) was caught with its hands in the proverbial cookie jar, and that too by the Supreme Court! R-ADAG tried to twist the terms of its Power Purchase Agreement with seven states, and make a profit of well over Rs 1,000/- crore by making the states count one day as one year (31st March 2013 is the previous financial year, and 1st April 2013 is the next financial year. Get it?) And moreover, when All Indian Power Engineers' Federation (AIPEF) blew the whistle and prevented it, R-ADAG tried to sue AIPEF's office-bearers for damages of Rs 1,000 crore! Ulta chor kitwal ko dante!

The true significance of Supreme Court’s 8th December 2016 judgment on Reliance's Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) Commercial Operation Date (COD) has gone unreported. Mainstream media has avoided reporting important thing, namely:

1) By exploiting a loophole in the Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) signed with seven states of India, Reliance Power wanted to hugely overcharge them. Madhya Pradesh, where the power project is located, would have had to pay over Rs 400 crore extra to Sasan Power Ltd. based on their false claim that Unit 3 of the UMPP started commercial operations on March 31, 2013. (Counting interest costs, the impact on MP would be around Rs 450 crore.) The PPA specifies that power is to be supplied @70 paise per unit for the first two years, and hiked up to Rs 1.31 per unit from the third year. But, if Reliance Power’s claim of March 31, 2013 as the commercial operations date (COD) were to be accepted by the seven power-purchasing states, then the first year of power purchase would be only one day long, i.e. starting on 31st March, 2013 and ending on April 1, 2013. Such a stand would enable Sasan to start charging the higher power tariff of Rs 1.31 per unit from April 1, 2014, instead of April 1, 2015. This would have resulted in a wrongful gain of Rs 1050 crore to Sasan Power Ltd, coming out of the pocket of the Indian power consumer and taxpayer.

2) Moreover, were such a claim to be accepted, it would have also resulted in incalculable loss to the nation in terms of power-generation, as it would have removed all the deadlines and left Sasan Power Ltd. under no pressure to fully operationalize Unit 3 in a time-bound manner. On 31st March 2013, Unit 3 was functioning at a mere 17% of demand. The unit became fully operational and achieved the capacity to fulfill 95% demand only in August 2013. If 31st March were considered the start of the COD by waiving this condition, it is possible and even likely that the date on which 95% demand capacity was achieved would have been pushed back even further. The heart of the PPA is the condition that Unit 3 had to be functioning at over 95% of demand, for the Commercial Operation Date to commence. By seeking to subvert the heart of the contract, R-ADAG betrayed its profiteering tendencies, and its willingness to sacrifice the safety and well-being of the national grid.

3) Sasan Power would have got away with looting India, were it not for the persistent efforts of All Indian Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF), spearheaded by its chief patron Er. Padamjit Singh of Delhi and Er. Shailendra Dubey of Lucknow.  It is heartening to see the activist spirit with which this professional body defended the national interest before the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and its Appellate Tribunal, and before the higher judiciary.

4) Sasan Power Limited tried to misuse Bombay High Court as a forum to intimidate AIPEF to prevent it from pursuing the matter before appropriate forums, including higher judiciary. It malafidely tried to get an injunction from Bombay High Court in August 2016 for muzzling and stalling AIPEF, and claiming damages of Rs 1,000/- crore, although the same matter was already reaching Supreme Court in Appeal.

5) There is significance in the fact that prominent Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram, in their capacity as senior advocates, attempted to defend the indefensible. This helps to remind the public that Anil Ambani has friends on both sides of the political fence. No matter who wins elections – BJP or Congress – big money wins every time. The Congress camp may shout from rooftops that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is protecting the business interests of the “two brothers”, but one must bear in mind that Congress leaders also have their interests at heart.

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
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Posted in Public Interest by
Sulaiman Bhimani
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20

Animal Rahat is a sister concern of PETA. Dr Manilal Valliyate heads Animal Rahat and has added the following response to the ongoing discussion (article my me on Jallikattu, Response by Poorva Joshipura, CEO of PETA, my response to that article):

Hi Vidyut,

Apologies for taking this long to get back to you.

Introducing myself, I am a veterinarian who worked for nearly two decades trying to improve the welfare of animals in India, particularly working animals such as horses and cattle, is a son to a farmer and father to a 12 year old boy.

Let me share my perspective as a veterinarian and also a person having some basic understanding about large animal behaviour and welfare. Considering the broad category of animals- prey and predators- I am sure we all will agree that, bulls are prey animals. More than describing whether they are aggressive or docile, what we need to understand is when they are cornered or their movements are restricted, they have to either chose to ‘fight’ or adopt a ‘flight’ behaviour. Usually a fight scenario comes into picture, when they can’t escape from a difficult situation. Otherwise these ruminants would ideally, graze for hours or eat food, lie down and ruminate (chewing the cud- a process of digestion) unless bothered by a predator, which I think some humans are. A bull simply charging at people would be an exceptional situation. Yes, they would do it when they don’t have any other choice of responding to a stimuli of fear, pain or distress. In jallikattu, that’s exactly what people exploit. One of the globally accepted definition of animal welfare mandates, ‘freedom from’ pain, injury, disease, fear and distress so as to achieve reasonable welfare. When we know that jallikattu do not protect the bulls from any of these, there is no point in calling such events as our culture or tradition. Simply because, I don’t think we want our culture and tradition to labelled as ‘cruel’. I have been part of inspections of many jallikattu events from 2011 to 2013 and the bottom line is, one has to induce fear and pain and agitate a bull to push him out of the vadi-vasal (I call it a torture chamber) and face the tamers! Otherwise, if the people around the bull are not causing any harm, the bulls would simply eat, stand or lie down and chew the cud just as mentioned above. Probably, one can easily find such a harmless bull freely wandering in any urban area like Delhi, Lucknow or Noida, not because they chose to be in a chaos of traffic, but simply because they represent the unwanted by-product of the dairy industry abandoned on the roads.

My father was a farmer before he joined the police force in 70s. He still remember the ‘Kalapoottu’ (bull race) competition in Kerala which he had witnessed and was part of. While he used to plough his agricultural field with a pair of bulls he had and he also allowed them to be used for competition during the harvest festival. However, today I don’t think he supports such events anymore. Just because, he came to know more about the animals, the way they feel threatened and feel pain just like we all do. What I know now is he has taken a compassionate stand now based on his own learning of life and he no more support any such events that (ab)use animals.

My son, maybe because of my work and interests, has been watching the debate on jallikattu covered by the media. What I remember is, he telling me- can’t these people see that the bulls are frightened and are running for life and actually are in no mood to “play” with the people? He continues- it doesn’t make any sense at all, when people supporting jallikattu says, there is no cruelty! It’s right in front of you actually! You just need the eyes to see it. For my son, it is simple common sense. He says, people are using stupid excuses to justify their actions. What they need to think is, what if these bulls were actually their sons and daughters left to a mob to manhandle? It is surprising that, some people do claim that the bulls are like their children; but the truth is these children are often send to slaughter when they are useless, except for meat.

Though my views above are more on ethology and ethics, what I would like to emphasise is that, there is a law of the land, enacted in 1960 and under Section 3, it very clearly sates, “It shall be the duty of every person having the care or charge of any animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering.” There are Rules framed under the same PCA Act which very clearly says what is necessary suffering. But Jallikattu is not part of that exception, so is many other form of cruel animal entertainment. And most importantly why can’t we respect and implement the judgement of the topmost court of the country which ban jallikattu and similar events!  The Apex court has also stated that when culture and tradition are at variance with the law enacted by Parliament, the law takes precedence.

I can also confidentially say that, my arguments above can be scientifically demonstrated and that is what we do exactly at Animal Rahat- a sister organisation of PETA striving to improve the quality of life of working bulls in Maharashtra.

You may print this response, if you find it appropriate and helps the discussion.

Thank you.

Kind regards

Dr Manilal Valliyate

Sunil Kumar Lal, of Lucknow, who has designed the Aam Aadmi Party logo claims that he has never transferred the copyright to the party and disillusioned with the developments within the party, has resigned from his membership as well as revoked permissions for the party to use the logo in the future.

Sunil Kumar claims that he, along with other volunteers had supported the party with one ambition - to free India of corruption. He says that the dreams of volunteers are attached to the logo and he cannot bear to see it used as the backdrop of toxic politics.

Read full letter here:

AAP Resignation & Logo Revoke

It is unclear where the law stands on this and I am asking a few people for their opinion. I will update here. Regardless, this is yet another way Aam Aadmi Party volunteers are resisting a hijack of control over their party. I had mentioned earlier that even if there was a conspiracy behind AAP, it would prove difficult to implement because of volunteers.

Update: I asked Apar Gupta, a litigator with experience in areas of intellectual property and technology whether Sunil Kumar can invoke his copyright to refuse Aam Aadmi Party the use of their logo and he says "will need to be litigated. Will depend on the existence and the terms of the transfer deed."

Earlier, another AAP volunteer, Kundan Sharma, who had given the blue Wagon R that Arvind Kejriwal used to use had asked for it to be returned. Outlook reports that Kumar Vishwas had said that it could be returned to him, if he wanted it. Dissenting volunteers had on and off been demanding refunds of donations and more.

2

BJP making ad hominem accusations is hardly a new thing. Anyone who opposes BJP is subject to vile and unsubstantiated accusations. Unsubstantiated, to non-BJP people, but perhaps in the eye of BJP, they are true when they evaluate people according to what they know as "truth".

When you show someone a scalpel, a barber may recognize it as a shaving tool, a surgeon may see it as a surgery tool, a murderer may see it as a murder tool. Every scalpel is not a shaving tool, just like every computer isn't a gaming toy. We comprehend the world through the lens of what we know. It stands to reason that a party that doesn't believe in the Indian constitution understands all criticism as "anti-national" or a party that taps foreign funding imagines other entities being foreign funded and harming India on the say-so of some foreign agenda.

The nature of the unconscious mind is such that the more we deny something about ourselves to appear to be good, the more we imagine those we hate to be shamelessly doing what we deny out of shame. If coughing is a way I use to avoid answering something or a distraction from lies I tell, I imagine someone I dislike to be lying i they cough, while claiming to always be truthful myself.

Our shadow aspect manifests in our perceptions of the world. The things we deny about ourselves are those we overreact to.

Here are several things BJP criticized loudly, only to be found to be doing it later.

N D Tiwari shows the character of Congress... or not?

Rajnath singh sitting with N D Tiwari
N D Tiwari endorses Rajnath Singh as candidate for Lucknow

When the scandal with N D Tiwari's son blew up, BJP's Social Media teams were all over it with crude jokes about his character, and by extension the morality of Congress. So now Rajnath Singh is being endorsed by N D Tiwari. What does that say about his character and by extension the BJP? Does BJP really think N D Tiwari's character is bad enough that they shouldn't associate with him? Will BJP distance itself from his endorsement of Rajnath Singh as their candidate for Lucknow? Don't hold your breath.

Who got Ford Foundation funding?

BJP accuses AAP of being foreign funded - particularly from Ford Foundation, believing Ford Foundation to be a CIA front. Now here's the deal. Ford foundation provided funding to the NGO Kabir for three years from 2009-11. This lets BJP supporters claim "AAP" is supported by the Ford Foundation, when AAP was not even formed, let alone getting funding. AAP maintains that it has not received any foreign funding. Ford Foundation or otherwise. AAP does not see Ford Foundation as an extension of CIA destablizing India.

Ford Foundation maintains that it has been funding humanitarian projects in India almost since independence. The Ford Foundation website shows grants to GEER, in 2002, the chairman of which is Narendra Modi. Everyone knows that the Gujarat riots happened in 2002, under Narendra Modi's watch. Not to mention that unrest backed by the US of A usually supports right wing extremists (even at the cost of empowering Al Qaeda), but not communists. So is that what BJP is saying? That because a Modi led organization got funding to destabilize India, that means AAP must have got it for same reasons? They can chill. So far AAP hasn't shown any interest in destabilizing India.

Unless of course BJP counts as India the corporations funding their high voltage off the record bling election campaigns.

Who does Ansari support?

Mukhtar Ansari had offered support to AAP, which AAP did not accept. BJP claimed that this was proof of AAP and Kejriwal's mafia connections. Then, Mukhtar Ansari's brother Afzal Ansari praised Narendra Modi and said Muslims would be safe under BJP led by Modi. Was this proof of BJP-Modi's mafia connections? Modi or BJP have not refused or distanced from this statement to the best of my knowledge.

 Are Indian Muslims Pakistan supporters?

BJP often insinuates that this is so. From not so subtle allegations to indirectly target Muslims by speaking about "Miyan Musharraf" post Gujarat riots, to Giriraj Singh's statement that Modi critics will have to go to Pakistan when Modi comes to power. There are countless social media trolls making far more direct accusations and spreading hate. BJP disinformation propaganda routinely shows Muslim flags as Indian Muslims hoisting Pakistan's flag in India. Or they show Pakistani Muslims hoisting Pakistan flag or burning Indian flag to be Indian Muslims. It is not ignorance, as any effort to correct the disinformation is studiously ignored and the hate deliberately incited about Indian Muslims.

But is it Indian Muslims hoisting the Pakistan flag?

On 1st Januart 2012, someone hoisted a Pakistani flag in front of the Tahsildar office at Sindagi in Karnataka. There were protests in front of the Tehsildar office about this anti-national action. Yet it turned out to be Sri Ram Sene activists who were arrested. Sri Ram Sene is a pro-Hindutva organization, whose leader Pramod Muthalik (also famous for the pub attack) also got briefly inducted into the BJP a few weeks back till the embarrassed BJP had to refuse him membership from the outrage and ridicule they faced. But wait. That is not all. Shri Ram Sene seniors spoke off the record saying that those arrested were not their members, but those of the RSS, but the police were under pressure for keeping the RSS name out of the picture. In any case, it were Hindutva zealots raising Pakistani flag, not Indian Muslims.

Are AAP Maoist supporters?

BJP claims names like Prashant Bhushan, Soni Sori, Binayak Sen and Sabyasachi Panda to claim that AAP is full of Maoist supporters. Strangely, BJP seems to never be harmed by the Maoists. The Congress leadership in Chattisgarh was conveniently wiped out in time for Assembly elections, but no record of a BJP leader coming to any harm. Modi toured the same region and gave 7 speeches with massive. BJP and RSS cadre mobilized to encourage voting. No attacks in spite of BJP being the ruling party and closer to crony capitalists in the region. Twitter reports indicate that BJP campaigning in Gadchiroli went better than expected. I imagine they dislike the Maoists of Odisha and Andhra and such, but then the regular people there hardly like BJP any better.

For BJP, speaking of any wrong done against the Maoists is being a Maoist supporter. They may campaign for you, frame innocent tribals for opposing crony capitalist exploitation, brand a free legal service for framed tribals languishing in jail as "Maoist supporters", Maoist affected districts in Chattisgarh may double under their rule, leaders may hob nob with businessmen with known links to Maoists (including one being arrested while in a BJP leader's car..., but others are evil if you talk about rights of tribals opposing crony "development" framed as Maoists. Because everyone knows, the real danger in a Maoist is not illegal actions, but being seen as a human. Hain na?

Do only other parties rope in religious leaders for vote banks?

If you listen to BJP propaganda, you'd imagine the only vote bank in the country is Muslims. The majority religion is too disrupted and disinterested in survival, so BJP will make it live, whether it wants to or not. Yet the Hindutva issue has constantly been BJP's vote bank. Get people paranoid and voting for BJP to save themselves from Muslims. Ramdev was recently caught on camera speaking with BJP leader Mahant Chand Nath. BJP leader Chand Nath clearly talks about money with Ramdev in a slow pitched volume, the Yoga guru is heard carefully whispering to Nath to not talk about all this here as they were surrounded with cameras and recorders which can record their conversation. So not only does BJP leverage religious beliefs to promote themselves, they also do it with supposedly non-BJP religious leaders with money involved.

This, of course is apart from the active and criminal participation of religious leaders in the organized and criminal Babri Masjid demolition - which continues to be a BJP election issue and is included in the manifesto.

Does Congress take India's border security lightly?

Probably, but the BJP has hardly done any better. It has released terrorists in return for hijacked Indians. Same terrorists who went on to attack the Indian Embassy and murder Daniel Pearl among other attacks. They explain this as necessary to protect lives of Indians held hostage by terrorists. There is no similar explanation for the lack of retaliation after the Kaluchak Massacre (google it) in spite of needling the UPA government repeatedly over not taking an aggressive stance (read war) after 26/11.

If this were not enough, the Operation Westend saw BJP willing to endorse a non-existent product for the Indian Army to make a corrupt profit and the Kargil coffin scam saw a willingness to profit from dead soldiers too. So once more you have BJP accusing others of what they are guilty of, but defiantly claim own character to be above reproach.

Does BJP respect the Army?

A BJP troll taunting anyone bringing up issues of human rights abuses by the Indian Army is a common sight. What is less visible is their insulting view of the Army as an inherently cruel and illegal organization, where the shame of human rights abuses done by a few who are breaking protocol must be borne by all soldiers - however upright. Apparently, it is like the "religious support" - law abiding members of target group - whether religion or Army are tarred with the same brush as criminal zealots.

But is that really respect?

In Jammu, Modi ridiculed the UPA governance as "Jai jawan, mar kisan" implying that soldiers get favor that is denied to farmers - or in other words, disproportionately more. But is the Army really the recipient of more than its due? Normally, BJP would scream NO and blame UPA for ignoring the Army - unless it was a speech addressing the people of a place that has endured cabin fever from Army presence for long. Then it is very convenient to use "Jai jawan" as sarcastic criticism. One off, you'd think this was merely a misunderstanding or an evil person like me choosing the wrong interpretation. But more recently, Modi spoke with Traders, indirectly encouraging them to risk the global market saying traders are better at risk taking than the Army - a completely unrequired [second] unfavorable comparison of the Army within a month.

What about FDI in Retail?

In theory, BJP opposes FDI in retail. Yet is it about opposing RTI in Retail being chalked up as a UPA2 achievement or will they continue to oppose the FDI in retail if they come to power? There are considerable indications that this is a cash cow Modi is interested in (as long as it isn't the UPA profiting from it). It is less about the impact of FDI in retail on Indian traders and more about the rivalry with Congress in getting credit for a major source of foreign investment for India. Walmart was already in partnership with Bharti in wholesale in Gujarat when the ruckus on FDI in retail blew up. And the plans for expansion continue unabated (now for retail as well).

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

The list is endless, and will most likely keep getting updated, since I haven't even scratched the surface of BJP duplicity.

Feel free to add your favorite ones in comments, so other readers can read them. I will add as many as I can when updating this post.