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4

Nadia Shaikh (name changed) was 14 years old, and she went missing from near her home on the 14th of May 2011. She had been taking a walk in a garden around 7:30pm when a man of around 23 to 25 years of age approached her and struck a conversation. Before she realized it, she was in an unfamiliar area, and the man gave her something to eat, which she ate and fell unconscious.

When she regained consciousness, she was in an unfamiliar shanty. This is now known as a shanty near Lotus lake in the Malwani area itself. Her kidnappers raped her for three days initially and then visited her every four or five days when he brought her food and also raped her. Once he forgot her for a week. She was starving, defecating in that room itself and her health deteriorated.

According to her parents there were five men involved in kidnapping and raping her and after the first few days they started fighting over who would bear the expense of feeding her. As a result, she got a vada paav every four to five days. Desperate for food, she ate the vada paav, the paper it was packed in, mud, pieces of her dress...

In the meanwhile, her parents had filed a complaint, but got no progress. They claim the police didn't make enough efforts to find her and instead accused them of not taking enough care of her. Right. Blame the victim.

Nadia's health deteriorated till she was unable to speak or move. The kidnapper decided at this point to abandon her - probably realized that she may die.

Local witnesses speak of a rickshaw slowing near the garden where she was kidnapped from, and throwing her out.

But remember the murders of Keenan and Reuben? Of course, no one got involved. The abused, raped, starving, ill teenage girl lay on the street like a pile of abandoned rubbish all night, till two local women on a morning walk discovered her. They splashed water on her face and got information about her uncle's home nearby and took her there.

And let us not pretend any park in Mumbai is so isolated that no one noticed her.

She was admitted at Bhagwati Hospital where the doctors said they were treating her for various malnutrition related disorders.

In the meanwhile, the parents say that the cops questioned a few people, but didn't do any serious investigating. The five men who kidnapped her are absconding, and the police are playing down the case.

Senior Police Inspector Abdul Rauf Shaikh from the Malwani police station offered a canned statement, "My officers have investigated the leads and recorded the statements of the suspected kidnappers mentioned by the girl's parents. If the girl's family feels that my officers did not conduct adequate investigation, I will look into the matter. Once she
recovers from the trauma, we will record her statement and carry out fresh investigations to nab the culprit."

She died.

Police now say they did all they could have. The accused says she accompanied him willingly. The accused is a minor and has been sent to the Dongri Children's Home.

The father says that she was sexually assaulted. Police say that the girl did not mention it to them. Sources from the forensic medicine department of Nair Hospital say that it is difficult to say if the sex was consensual or forced. Never mind something as silly as the country's laws that say that a person below 16 can't legally give consent for sex. So it is never consensual and hence rape! Also never mind that the girl's condition was not exactly prime.

Medical records say that she had mud and paper in her stomach as well as multiple perforations in her stomach, small and large intestine which her father says is because of it. Police say that she had absominal tuberculosis and lesions were because of that. I didn't know abdominal tuberculosis creates mud and paper in the stomach!

The doctors at Nair hospital said that the perforations could have been because of tuberculosis. In other words, a girl was being treated for a month at Bhagwati Hospital and died of tuberculosis without being treated for it? Sue the hospital too!

Police said that the boy who was seventeen and his sister had even taken her to a hospital. But apparently not bothered to inform her family! Nor taken her properly home at the end of five months.

The police insist she did not die of starvation, but abdominal tuberculosis. Unfortunately for them, here is a quote by a doctor given to MiDDAY:

"Medical investigations are in progress. She is stable, but is severely malnourished, and has lost significant muscle mass, as a result of extreme starvation. We are treating her for a number of starvation-related disorders," said Medical Superintendent C S Gawade from Bhagwati hospital.

No mention of tuberculosis. Surprise!

The police say Umesh Kuria will be charged with kidnapping because she was a minor. How typical of rapes - the man is innocent! This beyond pathetic of the cops. What is the use of eve teasing squads if they cannot recognize rape when they see it?

The other thing is that the boy who is 17 is underage. So he won't get severe consequences. What about his family? Are they not criminals to allow this to happen? And if they didn't know, and he did this whole thing totally without them knowing, then is he really a child?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"It's just another love story and not some crime saga," said Mahesh Patil, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 11).

I suggest that his suspension be just another prevention of justice story and not something to be avoided.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It is difficult to understand truth from lies here, but a few facts are as indisputable as the fact that she died.

  • The accused is the person she was with for five months, and whether she went there willingly or not, she was subjected to rape, imprisonment and starvation. If her consent were valid, it still was domestic abuse that led to death.
  • The police did not find the girl till she was dumped. The attempts they claim are unclear.
  • There is still no mention of the police finding out what the locals around the shanty know.
  • She was dumped on the street in a condition that eventually killed her.
  • She lay on the street without assistance all night.
  • Cops are playing down the crime by mis-stating facts, repeatedly referring to the criminal's status as juvenile while making no efforts to arrest his guardians either who allowed this to happen.
  • Media is not asking anything that makes the cops uncomfortable.

The worst thing probably is that there is no one asking tough questions from the cops, while frustrated friends and family resort to rioting. Media is reporting what the cops say. Holes in the story, discrepancies and downright misinformation by the cops large enough to drive a truck through is not being questioned by the ones to question it.

Sources:

Raped and starved, missing girl returns five months later

Malwani girl’s death: Medical report awaited

Riot in Malwani following funeral of 14-yr-old girl

Police trying to dilute case, say kin of dead Malwani girl

6

I have written the initial story of the Amboli attack which led to the murder of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes. Since then, more details and descriptions from various accounts have given a clearer picture.

The two videos from which a lot of information has been collected are at the bottom of the post.

Noting here the events as I understood they happened.

  • On the 20th October 2011, 7 friends went to Amboli Kitchen and Bar for dinner and to watch cricket match on big screen. Keenan Santos, Reuben Fernandes, Avinash Bali, Benjamin Fernandes, Priyanka Fernandes, Shobhita and one more girl were present in the group.
  • On exiting the restaurant, they encountered a group of drunk men standing outside who started making comments about the girls in the group. [Avinash, in video] These men were later identified as Jitendar Rana, Sunil Both, Satish Durgaj and Deepak Piswal.  These are called thugs in the rest of the article for ease.
  • The boys in the group confronted the drunks and slapped them and sent them away. [Avinash, in video]
  • The area was “bustling with life”. Restaurant busy, cafe nearby open, people on the street. Doors to a political party’s office on their right were wide open. [Priyanka, in video, article]
  • As they left, Avinash Solanki heard one of them mutter to Reuben that he would kill him “maar dunga tum logon ko”. He did not think much of it at the time. [Avinash, in video]
  • The thugs returned with more people who were armed with sickles, knives, bamboos, stumps [Priyanka, in video, article] and other weapons and suddenly attacked the group from behind.  [Avinash, in video]
  • Keenan pushed his girlfriend Priyanka toward the restaurant and was almost immediately attacked by the thugs. He fought hard inspite of stab wounds. Perhaps he didn’t realize that he had been stabbed immediately.[Priyanka, in video, article]
  • The girls started screaming for help. There was a crowd of bystanders gathered, but no one came to help. [Priyanka and Avinash in video, Priyanka in article]
  • Avinash saw a glass near by and hit Rana with it, and it cut his forehead, which helped identify him later. [Avinash, in video]
  • Reuben was attacked by several other thugs, and they wrestled Keenan to the ground and kneeled on him to hold him down and stabbed him while he was held immobile and defenseless. [Benji , in video2]
  • Avinash saw a ladder lying near by and picked it and flung it at the four and knocked them off balance and dragged Keenan and Reuben inside the restaurant. [Avinash, in video, also Benji in video2]
  •  According to statements made by Both, Durgas and Piswal, the three, who work as sweepers in Lokhandwala, were attending a party in their locality, when a flustered Rana came running towards them. He told them that he had been beaten up by four men. Not waiting to hear the rest of the story, they rushed to the spot with him. When Durgas got off the rickshaw, he saw a coconut vendor who was wrapping up for the day. “Durgas picked up two knives from the vendor, and handed one to Rana. Both and Piswal were carrying stumps and hockey sticks. Durgas and Rana approached Reuben and Keenan and stabbed them,” said a police inspector at DN Nagar police station. “The other two friends, Avinash Solanki and Benjamin Fernandez were saved, as they were beaten up with hockey sticks and stumps,” added the officer. [Mid DAY]
  • In their statements, the accused have given a chilling account of the manner in which they murdered the youths, the police claimed.According to the accused, who are sweepers at Lokhandwala, there was a birthday party in their locality when Rana came up to them and said he had been beaten up by a group. Rana and three others rushed to the spot, where the two victims were present with their friends.When Durgaj got off the rickshaw, he saw a coconut vendor nearby and picked up two knives and handed one to Rana. “Sunil and Deepak were carrying stumps and a hockey stick. Satish and Rana, without saying a word, approached Ruben and Santos and stabbed them in the stomach,” said V Bhoite, senior inspector from the DN Nagar police station. [Indian Express]
  • Rana, who is the prime accused in the case, allegedly explained to his friends how to “kill with a chopper” as they were leaving the spot, said a source privy to the investigation. [DNA Article]
  • The accused, identified as Satish Durgaj, was allegedly the one who picked up two knives from a vendor and stabbed Santos, the police said. Police officers investigating the case said Durgaj had been arrested by the Amboli police earlier this year in an attempt to murder case. [Indian Express]
  • One waiter from the restaurant helped, all others stayed back, avoided. Rickshaws and taxis didn’t stop. Avinash said on Times Now that the hotel had a staff of about 20-25 people. Perhaps, if they had helped immediately, perhaps they could have saved Keenan and Reuben. Priyanka describes this restaurant as one they went to often and they were known by the staff. The girls were begging for help. [Avinash, in video]
  • He [GM of Amboli Kitchen & Bar] also claimed that his waiters and staff members were unaware that a heinous crime was being committed outside the premises, and helped as soon as they got wind of it … About the allegation leveled by the friends of the deceased that none of the staff members came forward to help them during the violent attack, Bhaiji explained, “Ours is an enclosed restaurant. By the time we realised what was happening, the damage had been done. Everything happened so quickly. As soon as we got wind that one of the boys had been badly injured, one of our waiters pulled him inside the restaurant. He was rushed to the hospital immediately. We have been deeply disturbed by what happened, and have tried to do whatever we can to salvage the situation.  We want to support the cause in whichever manner we can,” he added.[NDTV Article]
  • The girls called 100 for the police. The call was “waiting” It would be another 20 minutes before it got answered. [This has been brought up as a serious security concern several times by different people and it continues to remain a concern] [Priyanka, Avinash, Keenan's father in video, several other sources also DNA Article]
  • Police deny any delay of response and claim that they reached the scene and the hospital immediately after getting the call.
  • Failing to call the police, Priyanka called up Keenan’s father who arrived shortly after Reuben was taken to the hospital and followed there a short time before Keenan died 20 minutes after being admitted. [Keenan's father in video]
  • The police said the murders were so gruesome that Reuben’s friends had to clip his stomach to keep his intestine from falling out and there was a grievous injury near his heart. [DNA Article]
  • The police investigators who went to Valmiki Nagar to arrest the suspects were attacked and beaten back by the friends and relatives of the perpetrators. [Verified, lost link. will update]
  • The police recovered the first knife the same day. [TOI Article]
  • To track down the accused, who were all residents of Valmiki Nagar in Amboli, the DN Nagar police launched a search operation in the locality. They nabbed Rana the same night after seeing injury marks on his face. “We detained 25-30 men from the locality. Rana confessed to the crime and led us to Dulgaj, Both and Deepak,” Vijay Kumar Bhoite, the senior police inspector with DN Nagar police, said. [Mumbai Mirror]
  • Eyewitnesses had said that a dozen men had attacked Keenan and his friends. However, the police, after verifying the facts, have concluded that only the arrested four were involved in the brawl. [TOI article]
  • A day later, Deepak Pisawl was arrested based on location provided by Rana [Indian Express]
  • Reuben was in ICCU since the attack. He underwent three surgeries to repair damage and minimize internal bleeding. However, he finally died on the 31st of October 2011
  • Two nights before he died, some policemen sneaked their way into the ICCU at 1:30am where Reuben was admitted and attempted to interrogate him. Benji only saw them when they were coming out through the ICCU [via DM on Twitter]. They woke Reuben up and he was agitated for the rest of the night and anxious about Keenan (whose death he hadn’t been informed about). [Update and documentby his brother Benjamin on the group page and some Private Messages I can't disclose and now in DNA Article] His health took a turn for the worse and he had to undergo another emergency surgery when the bleeding started again. He died a day later.
  • The hospital has been accused of negligence by family and friends for allowing policemen to enter an ICCU and harass a patient without any authorization. Also, for not having facilities available on the next day because it was a Sunday even though a patient was in a critical condition. The hospital disputes this [DNA Article] However, at least the public updates from the blood donation requests from that time, clearly speak of practical problems created by policy even for critical patients and the day after the police harassment when Reuben had to have emergency surgery the blood bank was closed.
  • The funeral of Reuben Fernandes took place on the 1st November 2011
  • Statements of nine prime witnesses, including the friends of Santos and Reuben who had accompanied them, the coconut water vendor, paan shop owner, and the waiters of the Amboli Bar and Kitchen recorded by the cops. [Mid DAY]
  • Satish Durgas, has been booked under charges of attempted murder.  [Mid DAY]
  •  The other 17 accused, who had added muscle to Rana’s side, have been arrested for rioting. They will also be presented before the court today.[Mid DAY]
  • With the 14-day mandatory period of police custody over, they are scheduled to be produced before court today. Cops, however, will request the permission to keep them in their custody for another 14 days, so they can develop strong cases against them. [Mid DAY]
  • The four men, who allegedly killed two Amboli residents when they objected the eve-teasing of their female friends, have admitted to the crime but showed no remorse when they were brought to court on Thursday. [DNA Article]
  • In other news, two strange articles misstating facts and fabricating information appeared in the Afternoon Dispatch & Courier yesterday. The main focus seemed to be to create confusion over proceedings and the role played by the MLA. The family has called their quotes in it a flat out lie. I have written a rebuttal (it is more like debunking, actually). Jaymin Panchal also challenged the facts stated in the Afternoon D&C article on his blog, based on the coverage seen on Times Now [above].
  • Still, copies of the newspaper were distributed by supporters of the MLA among mourners outside the church on the day *after* the funeral. Obviously an attempt to change public opinion by the MLA. This has been misreported in the DNA as during the funeral – the articles cover the funeral, couldn’t have possibly distributed them before writing.
  • The family has rejected categorically the claims in the Afternoon Dispatch and Courier by the MLA that he had single handedly supported the victims families or had paid hospitable bills.
  • In still other news, Afternoon D&C threatened @Jemin_p over his article.
  • Today, the custody of the perpetrators ended, and the police presented them before a magistrate. They intended to establish the seriousness of the crime and ask for an additional 14 days of custody to make a “watertight case”. However, only one additional day of custody was allowed. This provides less time to the cops to make a foolproof case. [Times Now Video] I think this may not be such a bad thing in a country where cops routinely lose momentum on things, but that is my opinion. That the crime was done is fairly evident. And the cops have later stated that they have a waterproof case.
  • “We want the case to be watertight. We have recovered the weapons. However, we want further custody because we have to record the statements of three more witnesses. There are nine witnesses in the case, including the injured friends, the three girls who were with them, the coconut vendor, a paan shop owner and the waiters of the restaurant where the attack took place,” said an officer from DN Nagar police station. “We also have to get the details of the previous case against Dugraj,” the officer added. [Indian Express]
  • The police claimed to have recovered the second knife used in the crime and that the four accused had confessed. [TOI Article]
  • Jitendra Rana, Sunil Bodh, Satish Dulhaj and Dipak Tival, arrested under IPC sections 302 (murder), 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons) and 434 (mischief), were produced at the court around 3.30 pm. [TOI Article]
  •  Nearly 50 of their friends and f amily m e m b e r s had arrived at the court in the morning to witness the proceedings. From the deceased’s side, a neighbour of Fernandez , incidentally an advocate, was present … Fernandez’s neighbour Harish Shetty told TOI: “The police should file a chargesheet in the case within 90 days.” [TOI Article]
  • The court also sent 17 people, who had a scuffle with the police when they went to arrest the accused and so were charged with rioting, to judicial custody till November 17. Their bail will be heard on November 9. [TOI Article]
  • The Times Now video shows the faces of the accused  [Times Now Video] Many supporters were asking for this, and are glad that this happened. Others are concerned that showing the faces may become a factor in identifying the thugs. As in, the defense arguing that the faces were known more from news coverage than from being there.
  • Speaking with Mid Day, its general manager Naveed Bhaiji shared his commiserations for the family, and confirmed that no CCTV footage of the horrifying incident had been recorded, owing to software problems. [NDTV Article]
  • The Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate’s court today extended the remand of four persons arrested for the murder of two youths, Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez, to judicial custody till November 18. [NetIndian]
  • Top cop Nagre Patil says that Ujjwal Nikam may be Special Public Prosecutor
Info on the accused from TOI Article

Jitendra Rana (25)

Lives in Anand Nagar, Jogeshewari (West), along with his parents and uncle’s family. Is a barber at a salon in Lokhandwala. An aunt lives in Valmiki Nagar, Andheri (West), who he visited often. Became friends with the three other murder accused in the locality

Satish Dulhaj (35)

Lives in Valmiki Nagar, Andheri (West), along with his wife, three children, mother and a brother. Is a sweeper in a housing society in Andheri (West). Led the group that attacked Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez. Last year, the police had booked him in an attempt-to-murder case

Sunil Bodh (20)

Lives in Valmiki Nagar, Andheri (West), along with his wife, parents, two bothers and a sister. Works as a sweeper at Kenwood Building, Lokhandwala Complex

Deepak Tival (18)

Lives in Valmiki Nagar, Andheri (West), along with his parents, two sisters and a younger brother. Assists his parents in their work as sweepers in housing societies in Andheri (West)

Some other discrepancies remain. For example, the differing accounts of the incident by the four accused and the victims – were the original people with Rana different from these or are they deliberately telling a different story?

With the faces of the suspects being shown on national Television, What impact will it have on the case in terms of the credibility of the identification parade?

What about the cops who may have put Reuben’s life in danger and contributed to his death?

The information about the MLA sponsoring a lawyer for the murderer is unconfirmed. The Afternoon spent an entire essay over his innocence and has quoted him saying that it was a conspiracy against him *sigh* what was the need at all? Howevever, this info makes it very important to verify independently

Another thought that comes to mind is that even if the other three accomplices of Rana claim that they did not stop to find full facts before backing him up, stabbing someone doesn’t become excusable.

A new post has been created with Developments in the Keenan and Reuben case

I have been following the recent Malad murders, been wanting to write, but there are things wrong on so many levels, I was wondering where and what to write. So I touch the main thing I see, which everyone else seems to be fine with (as usual).

What really runs repeatedly through my mind is that Sachin, the only one of the victims to escape reached the spot to see his friends tied up, and when the goons tried to capture him, he escaped and ran, straight to the police station. This is pretty much the most a regular citizen can do in such a situation.

What I found horrifying was that the cops did not believe him!!! Really? They get so many people complaining about assaults and abductions when there is no problem? Even if there were, even if making false complaints to cops were an Olympic sport, checking up was their job.

The storyline goes that Pathak arrived at the police station while his goons got the victims out of the Jeep and walking to the spot of their torture. Sachin, the victim who escaped saw them in the jeep. If the police were attentive, they could have saved four lives. The youths had been tortured for hours before being killed. In my eyes, they are party to the deaths, as much as a person driving carelessly is responsible for the death of the person he hits. The intent may not be to kill, but there was criminal negligence.

And there are many such cases, where police inaction, complacency or sheer laziness have compounded matters. Be it botched investigations and contaminated evidence, or mishandling of prevention. In each case, make no mistake, it is the policeman making it possible for a criminal to escape or to conduct his crime. I think it is a direct abuse of citizen's trust for such people to be tasked with their safety. Another article questions why the victims complained in an MNS office first and not cops. If you read this, and many other tales of the police response to crime, and the MNS response, misguided as it may be, with your life in danger, where would you go?

The reason I bring this up is because this is decreasing trust in the police. It is no use to blame victims for not approaching cops first. The real question is for the cops. "Why did the victims not approach you first?" and worse, "What did you do after they approached?"

As this incident plays havoc with my sleeping thoughts, and news continues to trickle with details, some of the most offensive words on this subject have come from ACP Maruti Rathod, Malad (East) "I am investigating the allegations. If I find that the officers are guilty of negligence, then action will definitely be taken. We have transferred the Senior Police Inspector Mohan Sankhe, as many complaints had been lodged against him in the past as well,"

That is half the story, Mr. Rathod, what is that guy going to be up to in his new place of work? And more importantly, how many cops I may need to count on for life and death have been similarly recycled into disservice in my area?

In my eyes, that cop, and indeed all cops who heard the complaint and ignored it should be arrested for their role in the killings and breach of faith with the civil society. Whether they get convicted or not, they most definitely should no longer be on the police force.

How else do you expect the efficiency of the police force to go up if life threatening mistakes earn no more than a transfer? The police themselves harass anyone questioning faults in the system. I forget the name - the journalist from Midday who got into trouble for his sting in the bad storage of the new post 26/11 gear. The next time we have a 26/11 we will be in the same place again 🙁 Again we will be whining about inadequate equipment, unprepared responses.

Police deal with life and death routinely. Surely it is important to weed out those proven incompetent?

I suggest that the first VIP in the hierarchy approving the transfer order instead of arresting and prosecuting, use the bad cop for their security detail and leave the good ones free for the public.

This isn't something that needs to be explained or given second chances about. Even if the murders had not happened at that point, abduction and assault are serious enough things that the policemen should have immediately jumped to attention. Leaves me thinking of the numerous stories of kidnapped or missing people. How can we be sure the cops did anything at all to help find them?

Criminals exist everywhere. For me the real horror of the story is that the security I imagined existed is a lie. If something happened to me, I can't count on help arriving on time.

Is anyone who matters reading this at all? What will it take to ensure that criminally corrupt policemen are not recycled into blank slate fresh starts in new places?

4

Its 2am and a massive disaster in progress at Ramlila ground. 6 DCPs moved into the area. The latest govt brainwave was apparently to move in the middle of the night and evict Ramdev from Delhi.

Ramdev was sleeping. He has jumped onto stage, crowd furious. People surrounding him, not visible at all. Crowd is picking up bricks and stuff. MASSIVE contingent of police there to evict him forcibly.

Ramdev Baba requesting for peace. Fat chance. Cops in full intent.

I had been tweeting all day about how this is going to get much, much worse before it gets better. Looks like its started.

It is going to be impossible for police to reach him. The crowd is incensed. No shit, Sherlock, you want to arrest a religious leader in front of thousands and thousands who WORSHIP him? Good move. Then they will say Baba Ramdev incited violence?

Police are making attempts to get at him through supporters. It takes no astrologer to predict that this place is going up in flames if he is arrested or evicted. Not that the cops are going to be able to get anywhere near him without extreme force.

Scenes of chaos. Baba calling for calm. Followers pelting stones at police. Police using tear gas shells on the supporters. Over 500 police there, attempting to break through the hundreds of supporters surrounding Baba Ramdev protectively.

Official reason is that the permissions for Baba Ramdev to use that ground was for a Yog Shibir (camp)

This takes our government to a whole new low. Sibal had met him in the evening during the evening and there was a press conference where an agreement to claim the illegal funds abroad as national assets was announced. So let me get this right. Sibal was there to learn yoga?

What bull shit?

This is going to be trouble countrywide by morning. The cops had come there to sneak up and arrest Ramdev while he was sleeping. Within minutes a ground full of sleeping people has turned into this scene straight out of disaster. Thank you Soniaji, we will put it on your termination letter.

Get this right. What is happening here is someone working overtime on a Saturday evening to cancel permissions for a gathering Sibal himself had visited. And, in the middle of the night, a veritable army of cops lands up there to pick up an anti-corruption leader from the middle of the followers. What in the world makes them think that the crowd with the power to bring them to their knees in the day will be happy about being disturbed in the night?

Apparently cops didn't want media to continue filming. Not news.

2:30 Flames on stage, tear gas firing in the middle of a crowd of thousands. I hope there isn't a stampede. Shit. Shit. Crowd dispersing, cops pulling down stage. Ramdev missing in the chaos. Apparently he's been taken away or something.

Interviews with followers. Ramdev Baba called for peace all through and apparently when the tear gassing and action got too intense, quietly went with the cops. Followers really really angry. Hurt women, old people. Damaged media equipment from the Astha channel. One follower uses the interview opportunity to tell the nation "bahiyo kurbani dene ka time aa gaya hai".

No one knows exactly where he has been taken, apparently he has been taken alone. The original intent seems to be to move quietly in the night and take him out of the city, which obviously is seeming like a massive betrayal right now.

Also the move to use tear gas in such a crowd, fire breaking out, the utter ruthlessness to beat people unnecessarily - women and old people beat as ruthlessly as men - apparently vicious attacks with lathis on people who were not attacking. They had been sleeping a short while before. Some reports of inappropriate touching of women by the cops. Unconscious people being carried off stage.

And so on and on and on.....

No one knows where Baba Ramdev is. Where he has been taken. However, endless interviews make one narrative clear:

  • People were sleeping
  • Surprise attack by cops
  • Baba Ramdev calling out for calm all through
  • Cops used disproportionate force. tear gas, lathi charge in the middle of a crowd with kids and old people. Many people sleeping.
  • It is definitely police who took him away.

Supporters shocked, betrayed, angry, in pain, etc, etc. This is a totally uncalled for attack.

The police commissioner says Baba Ramdev is not detained or arrested, but he is in a safe place, reason for attack was security concern at Ramdev ground.

Home Secretary says Baba Ramdev was given an externment order, and he voluntarily left with police. Latest news is that he is on his way out from Delhi. Possibly to Haridwar(?). If he returns, he will again be taken away.

Note: This is now revised to "been taken into police custody"

Reason for externment order apparently is because of the yoga shibir thing.

Police Commissioner said was a security concern. True. He had it all planned out on a sleeping crowd.

For the record, I had expected this. This is going to get much worse before it gets better.

I think our government is sick. This is right now a gangwar between government and people.

12

I have been thinking about this for a long time, and I have been wondering what would the right thing be. On one hand, we have an attack on the Parliament. On another, we have lack of conclusive evidence. It is crucial that the culprit must be punished. It is equally crucial that we don't harm the country worse than the Parliament attack, which is how I have started seeing the calls for Afzal Guru's hanging.

We have a constitution. We have a legal process. In the Parliament attack, we presented a case with the evidence we had. It was not conclusive. More important than individual emotions over the matter is the law of the country. I am not saying Afzal Guru is innocent. I honestly don't know. What I am saying is that the way the evidence stands, it is not proven conclusively through legal process. There is a reason the legal process exists, and it is greater than any individual or group in the country. It is greater than you, me Afzal Guru, Kashmir, BJP, whoever. It is India.

And the people of India have forced the courts to sanction mob justice:

The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, has shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender. ~ Supreme Court Judge

The "mercy petition" which actually is a constitutional power to the president to commute sentences where s/he believes justice is not done could save more than Afzal Guru, it is saving our collective conscience from having a human sacrifice for our bloodlust.

When it comes to the life of a person, and where the fairness of the trial has been challenged by people around the world, I think rather than being senselessly combative, it is important to take a pause and see the merit in their words. If the validity of a process is being challenged, and there is no answer to the questions raised, what does it mean when we use the threatening potential of a mob to create chaos to overrule the objections? Is this how we can hope for better justice to prevail in our country?

I think, if we hang Afzal Guru, we will have made an attack on the fabric of India that is far worse than any terrorist attack, because we the citizens of the country will have made a blatant demonstration that we don't trust our Constitution to deliver justice. One Afzal Guru living or dying isn't as important as the fact that the law of the land is respected by everyone, not overruled by public opinion when we want someone to hang for a serious crime.

Today, we see in Pakistan Quadri being showered with petals after he has committed the murder of the governor in broad daylight. We see mobs preventing justice to many innocents, because the 'public' believes they are criminals. Yet, as we stand outside the country, it is so easy for us to see that it is the masses rising in revolt that blackmails the country into doing what they wish. Let us remember that this has nothing to do with the law and everything to do with who can hold the country hostage.

I don't see how someone wanting to see Afzal Guru dead can condemn the showers of rose petals on Taseer's butcher Qadri without a dazzling display of double standards. The mob there believes a criminal a hero. The mob here believes a criminal sentenced to death on insufficient evidence the villain. Neither is about fair trial.

What we are doing with Afzal Guru is no less than that. It *seems* to be far more innocent, but make no mistake, at the essence of it, it is the same. We are engaging in mob justice to destroy the constitution. Arundhati Roy puts it well (I just love her quotes - they hit the nail on the head), even while I find her shrill and self-defeating:

To invoke the 'collective conscience of society' to validate ritual murder, which is what the death penalty is, skates precariously close to making lynch law valorous”. She further adds: "It's chilling to think that this has been laid upon us not by predatory politicians or sensation-seeking journalists (though they too have done that) but as an edict from the highest court in the land.

It is painful to believe someone is a killer and watch him walk free. Yet, it is also necessary to accept that it isn't always about what we want. There is a man's life on the line here, and the investigations haven't brought up enough evidence to implicate him. Do we realize that in our arrogance, we are essentially saying that legal methods of proscecution are not important and that we want a man killed? Who are we killing? Afzal Guru, or our very own motherland? One terrorist is not the end of the world. But setting precedents of mob justice will destroy our country. We already saw it with the Babari Masjid case. Now we see here. There are many instances.

Sure, we have a right to justice too. We can bring in more proof. Get him convicted fair and square. Or this one person we believe is a terrorist may have got off scot free through investigative incompetence or sheer luck. But our investigation methods are improving as a result. We are able to get more and more people convicted on the basis of evidence. If this case takes us back to the dark ages of law, all it will take to misue law is to announce the criminals to mobs and watch them get convicted.

Not just that. Do you know what a powerful weapon we give Pakistan's Kashmir cause by doing this? I'm not speaking of protests and attacks. That we don't have conclusive evidence is a fact. All it will take is for one terror organization to announce his innocence and the identity of real culprits (safely out of reach in pakistan or something) to ignite the entire country and bring us right back to the communal riots of an era gone. That is precisely why the law usually wants to be really really certain before giving someone the death penalty. Kill one innocent person through mob justice, and every oppressed person will rise in another mob to vent their frustrated revenge and grief.

Do we need that? Does India need that? Does Kashmir need that? Is it possible for us to follow our own legal system and at the same time unarguably show Kashmir that we have changed from persecuting them to supporting justice for all of India - them, us and all.

I don't give a damn whether Afzal Guru lives or dies. I am not even a bleeding heart about death penalty. My problem is with the choice of my country to sentence someone based on mob will, and then block clemency through mob will. To illustrate with Prakash Javadekar's words "Those who are supporting Afzal by demanding that he should not be hanged are not only acting against public sentiment in the country but are giving a fillip to terrorist morale,". But justice shouldn't be hostage to public sentiment is my point. Any person in the country should have a right to justice even if they stand alone. Offending public sentiment shouldn't be such an obstacle in asking for justice.

The demand is not for his freedom, but fair trial. What is the worst that could happen? He doesn't get killed? Why is it more important than being constitutional to  see someone killed? Who is Afzal Guru, and why is my country's legal system being eroded because of him? Why is the legal system considered so incompetent that mobs must decide?

When the mob has such power over the judiciary, my idea of democracy is under attack. THAT is my problem.

Think carefully. We are an intelligent country. Is killing one man more important than justice? We are lucky we have the capability to look at new perspectives and reevaluate how we think. I invite you to think very seriously about this.