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Mumbai, 28 April, 2015: Can the Police Cybercrime Cell target you for filing an online complaint on the Anti Corruption Bureau? Can Anti Curruption Bureau (ACB) pass on information about your online complaint to the Cybercrime Cell? Isn't ACB supposed to treat such complaints as confidential and investigate the subject of the complaint, rather than turning the spotlight on the complainant himself? On 14 Jan, 2015, Dr Mahesh A Deshmukh, MD, Fellow Rheumatology, based in Nanded, Maharashtra, received a call from Mr. Harshal Chavan, Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI), Office of the Superintendent of Police, asking him to come along with his wife to the SP's office the next morning, regarding a complaint of cybercrime against him. What followed was a harrowing three-week experience of repeatedly being called, "interrogated" and blackmailed for Rs 35,000 by the ASI with the connivance of a conman named Praveen Kumar Khandewal. Throughout this three-week nightmare, there was a continuous pressure on Dr Deshmukh to withdraw or water-down a complaint that he had made in August 2014 on ACB's portal. This happened with the cooperation of the designated Public Information Officer and possibly other office staff also at the SP's office. The IGP's office in Aurangabad may also have been part of this crime-ring.

The doctor was "interrogated" for an undisclosed complaint against him; he was denied a copy of the complaint against him even under Right to Information! The harassment abruptly stopped on 9 February, a couple of days after Praveen Kumar Khandewal was nabbed by police (see http://tinyurl.com/Fake-IPS-Officer-nabbed ). Mr Harshal Chavan, however, continues to be scot-free.

In a complaint letter dated 17 April, 2015 to Maharashtra Home Department and police higher-ups, Dr Mahesh Deshmukh describes the scam: http://tinyurl.com/Dr-Deshmukh-Complaint

EXCERPTS:

"Mr. Chavan asked me whether I was in Nagpur on 7 August 2014; I said yes. He asked my room number. I told him I didn’t remember. Then he told me it was room no 716 room of Radisson Blu hotel of Nagpur, and that he had each and every detail and CCTV footage of my activities during my stay at this hotel. My wife was sitting next to me, and he repeated many times that he had CCTV footage of all my activities during my stay at Radisson Blu Nagpur, implying that my activities were illegitimate. I made it clear that I was alone all the time, and I had not engaged in any activity for which I should feel ashamed or afraid.

"Mr. Chavan made an allegation that during my stay, I acted as an imposter for someone else (i.e. I pretended to be someone else) on the internet and lodged a complaint on the portal of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), and that the complaint was false, and therefore, ACB people had asked him to find out who had done it. He alleged that due to this particular complaint, there was harassment of some people and there was misuse of government machinery due to that “false complaint”. Mr. Chavan told me that he had all the digital records which proved that I used the hotel WIFI for lodging that particular complaint and he also had router details. He told me that he got all the details from Delhi. He showed me his laptop screen which had a diagram, which, according to him was digital evidence... necessary proof against me.

"He brought a small book and showed it to both of us, saying that according to law, he had to book me for cyber crime, and if I admitted guilt, then he would talk to senior officers and will see how he could help out, but he did not guarantee anything.

"Then he told me that if I gave in writing that I mistakenly complained, or inadvertently posted a draft of the complaint, then that also would be sufficient for him to help me out. During my wife’s interrogation, my wife was crying most of the time as he told us that we have committed a cybercrime by imposing someone. He also said that as that particular complaint made from the hotel room contained official secrets, I may be booked under Official Secrets Act also, and therefore my wife's job may be in jeopardy.

"At the end of this interrogation on 15 January, Mr. Harshal Chavan asked me whether we knew anyone in police department. I told him that I knew one person who said he was from the police force. Mr. Harshal Chavan asked me to call him and discuss this matter in front of him. I called my contact, Mr. Praveen Kumar Khandewal on mobile and told him what was going on. Then Mr. Harshal Chavan also talked with Mr. Praveen Kumar Khandewal on phone and told him that if we give him in writing what he asked, then there should be no problem."

SOME CRUCIAL QUESTIONS:

  • If this sort of cat-and-mouse game is played by a low-ranking ASI – just a notch above head-constable -- think about what sort of harassment must be meted out to unsuspecting citizens by cops who are placed higher up in the hierarchy! Everybody knows that the aam aadmi isn't safe... but is even an educated and influential citizen safe from blackmail by criminal-minded cops?

 

  • Anti Corrupion Bureau conducts campaigns publicly urges citizens to make complaints of corruption on its web portal and helplines. But if you and I trust ACB's campaigns and lodge a complaint, will we be treated with respect? Or will we be at the receiving end of such harassment and blackmail by cops?

For more details, mediapersons may contact Dr Mahesh Deshmukh on 07588584112 and mkahalekar@gmail.com.

For the other side of the story (assuming there is one), journalists and police higher-ups are also encouraged to call ASI Harshal Chavan 9821779921.

4

There seems to be a perception of a massive change for the better with Modi getting elected. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds, because all I am seeing is that a political puppet that got exposed and thus rendered useless got discarded for its alternative. Or perhaps more accurately, one out of two political puppets got exposed and rendered useless and got discarded, leaving the full weight of the masters behind one.

I had brought this up when the scam exposes started, triggering the UPA2 spiral into the abyss. It was the government getting exposed and rightly so, but the absence of scrutiny on the other side of who was profiting from the government corruption was a telling indicator that long back. The absence of scrutiny from the opposition was easily covered up with big dramas to media and outrages in Parliament, but rarely over anything that did not get exposed in other ways already, and almost never with legal action and accountability (they have since *acquired* Subramanian Swamy for a fig leaf on that).

It is no coincidence that media buried the paid news report either. It is a larger part of the corporate media puzzle, where the free speech of media hasn't been muzzled, but prostrated. You are not supposed to see the non-audience facing side of the set.

While there were two corporate puppets, with the traditional "rulers" leading, the stakes weren't as high. It was important that the puppet win, but it was okay if the other one got chosen as well. When that ended, the stakes grew higher in making the remaining puppet win.

The India that imagines that Gujarat is actually some kind of Shangri-la that will spread India wide is in for a rude awakening. People from Gujarat still end up in Maharashtra for work. The promises and methods of the BJP offer nothing that would give a different result from the UPA2.

All that we have got is a fresh face with its make up in tact, unlike the UPA2 with its running mascara and ugly scars showing. For a while, the facade will last, then the stories will seep through, because neither in Gujarat, nor in its manifesto is anything that will actually prevent the government from misusing its power, which is already happening in Gujarat.

All that we will have is a government better able to fool the people into trusting it, and you'd damn well expect so, given the kind of money being poured into convincing the people of the promised land!

At the end of the day, it is business as always as far as India is concerned, only with the side effect of the other risks that come with this puppet.

There is no end to dynastic politics. The Modi wave has swept UP carefully around the rulers. Both the Gandhis, supposedly much hated by BJP made it without any particular visible intent by BJP to rout them other than a token Modi rally in Amethi after Kumar Vishvas started making a visible challenge and dividing the anti-Congress vote became important. Where Aam Aadmi Party didn't have the resources to mount a big challenge, in Rae Bareily, Sonia Gandhi breezed through without any particular challenge from the BJP either. "Mullah" Mulayam Singh Yadav, much reviled by BJP, won from both seats he contested in a state where the Modi tsunami was on, Dharmendra Yadav and Dimple Yadav won too. What is stunning is the win of Akshay Yadav - entering politics for the first time, pitted against a BJP MP who was earlier in the SP and with a massive Modi wave backing him. The Modi wave did not harm him either, even as it decimated both Congress and SP otherwise.

Its job of electing the next emperor done, media is emerging from its Modi haze to now raise questions about him. Possibly because alarmed journalists too are realizing that this isn't an NDA government, or even merely a BJP government, but a BJP government without even a proper opposition. And journalists who toed working briefs now have to look at what they have wrought and are not so sure this is what they had set out to achieve.

It does not matter. If questioning couldn't stop the UPA, which at least had the sense to deny or apologize for wrongs in public, it is not going to matter at all to the BJP which has long made a virtue of public claims of innocence and victimization while deploying other tracks of communication to actually defend its actions and show them as in the interests of India. The media has been rendered mostly irrelevant in a system carefully crafted to maintain impunity for the powerful. By the time the media will be needed again, there will be a nice lull to erase memories and anyone with too many neurons will be shuttled away to where they can't be heard.

For the rest of the country, it is going to be life as usual, interspersed with some nice goodies to keep them aware of how their lives are transformed, while the very country gets eroded from under their feet in invisible ways. Do contact me if living actually becomes easier for you by next year because ab ki baar Modi.

22

Here is how I see the Lok Sabha Elections unfolding. If you want a TL;DR version, we'll be going for this circus all over again, soon. This is merely about where we are headed right now.

If you follow me on Twitter, I've said most of this there already. I was requested to write this post for some reason I can't fathom, but obliging the readers.

Indian National Congress

Not much to say here. They may get seats out of sheer inertia, but they have shown themselves incapable of thinking enough out of their patterns to expect much out of what has royally failed.

After 10 years of a notoriously private leadership, people have no idea what the country's leaders are all about. They do not want more of that, and that is the problem. Rahul Gandhi is trying valiantly to fix this, but it is too little, too late.

The musical chairs with the buck prevents it from stopping anywhere, and while the UPA2 government definitely pulled it off successfully, leaving the citizen too impotent to nail them and get answers, the voiceless people have an unerring instinct to use their voice in the one place it does damage - the polls. They do not want another round of looking foolish for being wronged, because no one has done wrong.

The final nail in the coffin will be the Frankenstein's monster they have unleashed on the country. They HAVE profited by pointing out to the Hindutva extremists and projecting themselves as the only available sane alternative for the country. The monster they were riding has now bucked them off and trampled them and is devouring them alive as they are held immobile.

Bharatiya Janata Party

Yep. The Frankenstein's Monster is growing even as it rots from within. BJP is not going to make an independent government. At best (and extremely unlikely) is an NDA government. I doubt this government will be of adequate strength to impose Modi on the country.

Chances are, Modi may never become an MP. His clinging to his Chief  Minister's chair even at this late date indicates that being Chief Minister of Gujarat and not going into the Parliament is still an option. I imagine Modi will not become an MP if he cannot be PM. He needs the power that comes with the Prime Minister's position (let's forget about Dr. Manmohan Singh for a moment) for major ass covering that is coming his way. When his cases in the Gujarat riots hit the Supreme Court, he is going to need an act (all puns intended) of God that a mere Minister cannot conjure up.

So, for Modi, this is a make or break gig, which currently looks more break than make. If Modi does win, it will be a blow to democracy, but a tribute to his advertizing skills.

The successful winning over of the corporations that formed cartels with UPA has worked well. Whether it is cheap lands, or opaque handshakes, Modi has got the top 1% of corporations in India controlling most of the power to put their eggs in the BJP basket instead of UPA. Where he once had to reach to a foreign firm to make himself look good in spite of relentless Indian media scrutiny, he can count on Indian media to cover up for him now.

That said, the psychological brute force wielded to make this possible has alienated him to many within BJP - particularly the seniors - left allies unsure of where they stand (witness allying with Shiv Sena while rejecting MNS, but getting Raj Thackeray to do a Rakhi Sawant tour of Indian media - where his party has no particular say with regard to National Elections). The sheer amount of stretching of truth that has been needed crumbles on scrutiny, and the development myth shakes at every communal message. The rest is a downhill of tu-tu-main-main, veiled communal threats and massive exhibitions of disregard for Indian constitution and laws. It doesn't help that most things they accuse others of turn out to be true about themselves.

The carpet bombing of the country is based on the new "education products" of adveritzing and management, where you believe that pushing your brand in everyone's face is what gets people to buy it. Unfortunately, for this theory, Parle G is the world's largest selling biscuit, so try guess how much it gets pushed in people's faces. The failure of education that divorces it from observable reality is ironically what will save India this election.

I disagree with Arvind Kejriwal that Modi losing Varanasi will mean that he cannot be PM. If Modi can win Ahmedabad, he will merely use spin doctors and still be PM if NDA can form the government. On the other hand, if NDA cannot form a government, or the Modi lobby cannot convince all allies to make Modi the PM, then even if Modi wins both his seats, he will abdicate both to continue as Chief Minister in Gujarat and opt for a PM whom he can dictate (Rajnath Singh seems to be promoted these days). He entered politics as CM and he will exit it rather than being a part of a team led by someone else.

Even if BJP wins, once this rush of money fades away, the party is going to splinter and bring down the government. The writing is on the wall - which is one of the reasons BJP is opting to install Modi puppets in as many seats as possible, even at the cost of dislodging senior leaders with mass bases - to survive when the fallout starts. Kirron Kher saying that Chandigarh was a seat to win for Modi isn't an accident, this is her highest attraction for the Modi lobby.

Togadia is a supporter of Modi. Ignore the spin doctors. I'll believe Togadia is not a Modi supporter the day he tells people not to vote for Modi or BJP under Modi. Don't hold your breath. Togadia is thrilled at the success of Gujarat riots under Modi and knows well that Modi is now completely dependent on the nuisance value of zealots to stay out of prison. Modi doesn't have to like Togadia to be useful. Witness his complete silence on the communal messages from his party. At best distancing himself and continuing to work to present a development smokescreen. Why in the world would Togadia have a problem with that? He's already said that Gujarat will be a completely Hindu state and Modi pretended not to hear it a week after Modi called for wooing Muslims. Modi calls Togadia's threat against minorities in majority areas as "irresponsible" - not a wrong view to have. Merely a wrong thing to say.

It is the classic good cop, bad cop routine, where both cops are herding you to the same destination. You are disgusted by Togadia? He is Modi's enemy. Voting for Modi is the best way to hit at him. You adore Togadia? Have patience. Gujarat model is growing.

This is basically the complete reinvention of India on the cards and will not happen easily. Unfortunately, with the kind of deals with the devil BJP has done to make it possible, it won't die easily either. One way or the other, India is destined to suffer from the choices already made.

The good news is that parts of the corporate consensus on Modi are hedging their bets. This indicates a possibility that they may not support him beyond the election if he fails - but work with whoever wins. The others remain devoted to Modi. This faction will leverage nuisance value against any non-Modi-led government that forms. A comprehensive defeat of BJP will end this farce. It is unlikely given the kind of money poured in and the sheer diversity of manipulations employed.

A third front

This is possibly the best thing that could happen to India in this stage. A third front with or without a decimated Congress (not with Congress as largest party). It is not looking very concrete at the moment, but given the sheer political splintering in the country, if it doesn't happen now, we might as well forget it.

Aam Aadmi Party

Aam Aadmi Party is the wildcard this elections. It has in its wake a swathe of broken stereotypes and naysayer predictions. It remains to be seen if the skepticism of a media that doesn't even have an entry in its surveys for a party with 450+ candidates joins the debris of the AAP rise.

Given the distortion of news on the Aam Aadmi Party, it is difficult to make an estimation of their impact on the ground, which is probably a good thing, since a poll showing AAP getting very few seats in Delhi (probably doctored) saw a massive wave of media negativity against it in Delhi Assembly Elections. Regardless, news about AAP could be accurate, distorted or reported by AAP themselves resulting in wild fluctuations in terms of its ability to represent what is going on. So cannot get a sense of what their prospects are.

Going by poll surveys, they get between zero to five seats. Others say double digits, which is as disparate as 19 and 99.

If we are to go by the amount of resources BJP has invested in discrediting AAP as a viable option for people (far more than that for discrediting the Congress, which is in theory the real contender and the largest party in country), one would imagine that they are serious competition for BJP - which would put it between 160 seats by my guess and 250 seats by BJP supporter claims. This, of course assumes that BJP spending on hate campaigns is determined by data from campaigning that identifies threat and not random fixation (which is also possible - BJP is not very sane these days - in which case, this source of behavioral data would be useless).

The other part of the AAP threat to BJP of course is that AAP will have ready support from several parties if it chooses to form a government, and it will be out of "cartel control" so to say, since on a National level, AAP will hardly have no alternative except the BJP mirror Congress. Entities that have traditionally allied with BJP have appreciated AAP, including Raj Thackeray and Mamata Banerjee - who had also endorsed their calls for RTI for political parties through ALL MPs from their party. They may not support AAP now, but they have made their appreciation clear in the past, and if AAP is in a position better than those holding their support strings? Who knows? Navin Patnaik, Nitish Kumar, Mayawati have been seen as vaguely hopeful, even. CPI-ML is actually endorsing Kejriwal in Varanasi to aid in defeating Modi. If AAP is in a position to form a government with support, there is going to be no dearth of support, because smaller parties, like the people of India had no real choice beyond BJP-NDA and Congress-UPA either so far. So far AAP claims to be independent, and it genuinely is, when it comes to chasing their manifesto. But this doesn't mean that it won't pull off a Delhi surprise again, particularly if it means keeping both Congress and BJP out of power.

THIS IS THE REAL THREAT OF AAP TO THE POLITICAL CARTELS.

Of course, this is dependent on how many seats AAP gets. It could indeed get five. But the risk is there, because at this stage, no one knows.

But the cartels are taking no risks. In Varanasi at least, it appears as though BJP, Congress and SP are leaving each other alone to target Kejriwal.

Regardless, AAP is unlikely to form a government with a clean majority, and anything less is going to collapse under the nuisance value of cartels who do NOT want AAP to reform their cash cows into oblivion.

AAP should also consider the possibility of supporting a third front if it forms, if it results in Congress and BJP being in opposition. This will create space for reforms that allow more action against political cartels.

It will also provide some stability aganst the combined nuisance value of the two biggest parties and their owners

This is basically stuff I've said on Twitter over time. No idea why people want me to put it all in one place. I'm neither an "expert" nor using real statistics. Merely observing nuances that indicate what may really be happening.

Might be interesting to check back in a month, though 😀