Month: August 2012

Azad Maidan riot

On 11/8/2012 there was a rally at Azad Maidan by Raza Academy against attacks on Muslims in Assam and Burma. A riot followed. Media persons were attacked. Policepersons were attacked. Policemen were injured. Policewomen were molested. The rioters snatched rifles from some constables. The rioters tossed one constable up and down several times. There was arson and vandalism. There was firing. There was stoane pelting on trains. BEST buses and other vehicles were damaged. Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial was vandalised. Two persons died in police firing. Questions were raised about permission for the gathering and preparedness of the police. Some praised Arup Patnaik, Commissioner of Police, for restraint. Some criticised him. Some wanted a ban on Raza Academy. Some said the religion of miscreants had to do with police being soft on them. The police would have fired on farmers and Warkaris.

On 21/8/2012 there was another rally at Azad Maidan. This was by MNS to express solidarity with the police and media. It is said there was permission for the rally but not march from Girgaum Chowpatty. MNS claimed police did not specifically deny permission for the march. Raj Thackeray demanded the resignation of R. R. Patil and Arup Patnaik. He said “They have played with the morale of the police. Our policemen kept waiting for instructions to control violence. When a DCP caught hold of a rioter, Patnaik abused him and told him to let the offender go.”

When Raj Thackeray finished his speech, Pramod Tawde, a constable, walked up to him and presented him a yellow rose. He thanked Raj Thackeray for making the police force feel there is someone who thinks about their welfare and is standing up for them. He said, “When I urged Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik to take action against those responsible for beating up constables on August 11, he laughed it off, saying I looked like Subhash Chandra Bose.”

On 22/8/2012 police registered a case against Shirish Sawant, general secretary of MNS, for the march from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan without permission. The police knew the march was to take place. They should have stopped before it began.

There were two articles on The Indian Express. First one was by Javed Anand and Teesta Setalvad on 17/8/2012. They praised Arup Patnaik for showing restraint in dealing with Muslim rioters. Second one was by Madhu Trehan on 22/8/2012. She asked: Is the law to be adjusted according the religion of the miscreant? She referred to the footage that showed Arup Patnaik shouting at DCP Ravindra Shisve who holds a goon by the collar “Who has told you to catch him?” He bellows to DCP “You take directions from the commissioner. You are not SP of Sangli. You are DCP here. You will not fall out of line or you will be suspended, stupid.”

For Arup Patnaik it was fine if a policeman entered a restaurant and slapped people or hit them with a hockey stick. He had defended Vasant Dhoble. It was not fine if a policeman caught a culprit.

For two consecutive days there were attacks on people from North-East in Poona. There was no prompt police action against attackers. Intelligence inputs or warnings about trouble that was to take place at Azad Maidan were ignored.

Julio Ribeiro appeared on CNN-IBN. He said he was proud of what Arup Patnaik had done. Sagarika Ghose did not ask him whether he was proud of attacks on policemen and molestation of policewomen. She did not ask him whether he was proud of a Commissioner threatening a DCP for doing his duty. No wonder there was police revolt when Julio Ribeiro was Commissioner and as DGP he failed to end terrorism in Punjab.

On 23/8/2012 Arup Patnaik was promoted as DG (Maharashtra State Security Corporation). One channel said he was kicked upstairs. Some channels presented it as if he had been made a fall guy or scapegoat. If any politician had shouted at a DCP and threatened him with suspension for nabbing a rioter these channels would have raised a hue and cry. Here is a case of Commissioner threatening a DCP for doing his duty and the channels have not condemned Arup Patnaik. Satyapal Singh took over as Commissioner. As per one report Arup Patnaik had fallen out with R. R. Patil and had become friendly with Prithviraj Chavan. R. R. Patil said Arup Patnaik’s promotion was under process since 6/7/2012.

Satyapal Singh put Social Service Branch of Vasant Dhoble under Crime Branch as was the case before Arup Patnaik. That will gladden many people.

The question is whether the rioters knew there will be no retaliation on spot if they attacked and injured policemen, molested policewomen and engaged in arson and vandalism. Destroying public and private property happens during riots. It is not usual for rioters to target police.

Assam continues to be tense. Nidhi Razdan did not demand that Tarun Gogoi should say sorry because the Assam riots took place under his watch.

Many sites have been blocked for hate speech and provocative content including morphed pictures. Some sites did not have anything to do with riots. Journalists like Kanchan Gupta and Shiv Aroor found their sites blocked. Times of India site was blocked. However there was no action against hate speeches at Azad Maidan on 11/8/2012. There are arguments over what constitutes free speech and hate speech.

Till the time of writing police had arrested 48 persons including one who had snatched a rifle from a constable, and at least 22 persons including two who had vandalised Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial were yet to be arrested.

It is a shame if policepersons have to be mute spectators or victims when a riot takes place. Policewomen should have caught the molesters and thrashed them. What type of policewomen are they who get molested when they are in a group and their male colleagues are around them? If policepersons cannot defend themselves how can they defend others?

Greatest Indian

CNN-IBN had conducted a poll on the Greatest Indian after Mohandas Gandhi. B. R. Ambedkar won the poll. The 28-member jury had voted Jawaharlal Nehru. The jury had a list of 100 persons. They reduced it to 50 persons. The people voted on the 50 persons the list was further reduced to 10 persons. After voting by people B. R. Ambedkar emerged the winner. The other eight finalists were Vallabhbhai Patel, J. R. D. Tata, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, Sachin Tendulkar, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Lata Mangeshkar.

History TV18 and Outlook were CNN-IBN’s partners. I do not know why there were 28 members in the jury. Perhaps it was one member for each state.

Vallabhbhai Patel was deputy prime minister, home minister, and minister of information & broadcasting. He is known for amalgamation of princely states. J. R. D. Tata was an industrialist. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is a scientist, known as missile man, and was president of India. Mother Teresa did charitable deeds for the poorest of the poor. She won Nobel Prize for Peace. Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee were prime ministers. Sachin Tendulkar is a cricketer. Lata Mangeshkar is a singer.

On 14 August 2012 CNN-IBN declared the result of its poll. On 16 August 2012 it held a discussion. The question: Was Ambedkar greater than Nehru? There was recorded interview with Shashi Tharoor. Kancha Ilaiah, Sudheendra Kulkarni, and Mridula Mukherjee took part in discussion. The answer as per votes by viewers was 59% yes, 41% no.

There was no need to mention the jury had voted Nehru as the greatest Indian. It seems Ambedkar’s victory was hard to digest for the jury and Congress members. It was even hard for Sudheendra Kulkarni who is associated with BJP. He said B. R. Ambedkar was opposed to Congress and freedom struggle. He joined viceroy’s council during Quit India movement. He was not the architect of the constitution. B. R. Ambedkar was the chairman of the drafting committee of the constitution. Nehru and Patel headed many committees of the constituent assembly.

It is not proper to put people of different fields, who lived at different times, together and ask who is the greatest of them. Acting, charitable work, industry, science, singing, sport, politics, and literature are different fields. Even in the same field there are differences. Hockey is different from cricket. A batsman is different from bowler. A spin bowler is different from a fast bowler. An off spinner is different from a leg spinner. In football, a goalkeeper is different from a forward. One is expected to stop goals; another is expected to score goals.

Some years back some people made lot of money by holding a poll on Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Voting was by SMS and each SMS cost 10 rupees. A person can vote any number of times. Many Indians voted for Taj Mahal. CNN-IBN did not go for SMS poll. Voting was by missed calls.

Next year CNN-IBN can have a poll on the Greatest Indian after Jawaharlal Nehru. B. R. Ambedkar died in 1956. Jawaharlal Nehru died in 1964.

Mamata Banerjee on corrupt judges

Mamata Banerjee’s statement that court orders can be bought has evoked various reactions, most of them against her. Her statement was taken in the context of West Bengal Human Rights Commission slapping a fine of 50,000 rupees for the arrest of a professor who had sent her cartoons through e-mail. Her critics said her statement was unacceptable and irresponsible; she was dictatorial, intolerant and does not have a sense of humour.

Mamata Banerjee did not mention WBHRC judgment. Taken in itself her statement is nothing new. The then CJI S. P. Bharucha had said 20% of the judiciary is corrupt. Nobody said his statement was unacceptable and irresponsible. A magistrate had issued four arrest warrants for 10,000 rupees each and the persons to be arrested included President Abdul Kalam and CJI Vishwanath Khare. Prashant Bhushan faces contempt of court case for stating eight of 16 former CJIs were corrupt. Soumitra Sen, a High Court judge, had faced removal by Parliament. He quit after Rajya Sabha voted to remove him. There was demand to prosecute Nirmal Yadav which was granted on the last day of her service.

No critic said Mamata Banerjee was wrong. Her critics know she spoke the truth. Contempt of court provision has been used to punish people, mainly journalists, who exposed judicial corruption. An MLA is immune from prosecution for contempt of court for whatever is said in the Legislative Assembly under Article 194 of the Constitution. Mamata Banerjee as an MLA enjoys immunity. Mamata Banerjee spoke in general terms. She did not mention anyone by name. Some dispute immunity saying the Assembly was not in session but the Article does not say the Assembly should be in session to have immunity.

Someone said there are some rotten eggs in judiciary but you should not condemn all. Even if there is one rotten egg it is one too many and rottenness spreads. Rotten eggs should be removed.

The lawyers who condemn Mamata Banerjee defend all types of criminals. They should introspect. May be they are afraid that Mamata Banerjee knows some incidents and she will go public.

Some argue a chief minister saying something against the judiciary will make people lose faith in the judiciary. Faith is lost when people do not get justice. People lose faith when cases drag on for years. People lose faith when murderers, rapists, molesters, abductors, swindlers and other criminals walk free or get bail easily or spend time in hospitals instead of jails. In Andhra Pradesh one judge faces prosecution for getting six crore rupees to give bail to Janardhana Reddy.

Mamata Banerjee being dictatorial, intolerant and not having a sense of humour is a separate issue. It does not add or subtract anything from the issue of judicial corruption.

Supreme Court judges have resisted the demand to declare their assets. They lost their case in Delhi High Court. Now the case is in Supreme Court. The judges are a party to dispute and they will decide.