CBI raids premises of Adarsh accused
Searches in M'rashtra, Bihar n Summons for questioning to be issued soon Mumbai, January 30 The CBI today conducted searches in Maharashtra and Bihar at the premises of four accused in the Adarsh housing scam, including a retired Army officer, a Congress leader and a former state government official, and will soon issue notices for summoning them for questioning. The searches were conducted at the residences of the society's general secretary RC Thakur, retired Brigadier MM Wanchoo and Congress leader KL Gidwani and former Principal Secretary of the Urban Development Department, Ramanand Tiwari, in the two states. The office of the Adarsh society located in posh Colaba here was also searched. The searches were carried out a day after the CBI filed an FIR against 13 persons, including former Maharastra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and some retired senior Army officials for their alleged involvement in the scam. "Thakur, Wanchoo and Gidwani were not present at the premises when the searches were conducted. We are likely to issue notices to the trio summoning them for questioning," a senior CBI official said. While searches at Thakur's residences in Bihar, Nagpur and Thane are over, the operations at Tiwari's house in Mumbai continued till late in the evening. Wanchoo's house in Pune and Gidwani's house at Worli in central Mumbai were also searched, the official added. According to CBI sources, Thakur, Wanchoo and Gidwani were allegedly the prime movers in building the society, the sources said. Thakur was the then sub-divisional officer at the Defence Estate Office of Mumbai while Gidwani, a former Congress MLC, was the chief promoter of the society. The CBI sources said that computers, laptops and some documents were seized from the premises which would be analysed by the sleuths. The electronic items would be sent to Hyderabad and Delhi for examination of the hard disk. Tiwari, who was recently suspended by the Maharashtra Government as Information Commissioner, has been accused of misusing his official power and passing letters in favour of the society. His son Onkar Tiwari has a flat in the building. Apart from Chavan and the four accused, the FIR also names retired Lt General PK Rampal, Major Generals AR Kumar and TK Kaul, Subash Lala, the then Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and Brig RC Sharma (retd). The FIR has been filed under various sections of the IPC, including criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery and showing forged document as genuine, besides sections pertaining to the Prevention of Corruption Act. Chavan, who had to quit as the CM last year after it was found that his family members also owned flats in the society, was the Revenue <inister between 2001-2003 and had dealt with files pertaining to the ownership of the land. The FIR also named Pradeep Vyas, the then collector of Mumbai who is alleged to have cleared names of 71 persons in the society of which several were not eligible. His wife Seema Vyas is alleged to have a flat in the society. The agency had registered a preliminary inquiry into the scam in November last year. Two former Army chiefs Gen Deepak Kapoor and Gen NC Vij and ex-Navy chief Admiral Madhavendra Singh owned flats in the building. However, the former top chiefs have claimed that they have now surrendered the flats. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had on January 16 ordered demolition of the building within three months, holding it as "unauthorised" and built in violation of the spirit of coastal regulations. Late in the evening, the CBI began searches at the residence of former Deputy Secretary P V Deshmukh. Deshmukh was the Deputy Secretary in the Maharashtra Urban Development Ministry when the scam took place. He was one of the accused in the FIR registered by the CBI yesterday. — PTI
Army, Allah and America: on Pakistani pitfalls and the future of Egypt
Jan 30, 2011 16:22
countries are unique and comparing two of the world’s most populous Muslim countries, Egypt and Pakistan, is as risky as comparing Britain to France at the time of the French Revolution. But many of the challenges likely to confront Egypt as it emerges from the mass protests against the 30-year-rule of President Hosni Mubarak are similar to those Pakistan has faced in the past, and provide at least a guide on what questions need to be addressed. In Pakistan, they are often summarised as the three A’s — Army, Allah and America. Both have powerful armies which are seen as the backbone of the country; both have to work out how to accommodate political Islam with democracy, both are allies of America, yet with people who resent American power in propping up unpopular elites. As my Reuters colleague Alastair Lyon writes, Egypt’s sprawling armed forces — the world’s 10th biggest and more than 468,000-strong — have been at the heart of power since army officers staged the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy. Mubarak’s announcement that he was naming his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice-president was seen as a move towards an eventual, military-approved handover of power. And Egyptian protesters have sometimes tried to see the army as their ally — an institution that puts country first before personal gain. Yet armies, as Pakistan has discovered over its many years of on-again off-again military rule, are not designed for democracy. They are designed to be efficient, and with that comes the hierarchy and obedience to authority that would seem alien to many of those out on the streets of Cairo. In his book about the Pakistan Army, defence expert Brian Cloughley writes about how the British general, the Duke of Wellington, responded to democracy in his first cabinet meeting as prime minister: ”An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.” The story is told as part of an argument about why the Pakistan Army has never been particularly successful at running the country. “All Pakistan’s army coups have been bloodless, successful and popular – but popular only for a while,” he writes. “The trouble is that military people are usually quite good at running large organisations, even civilian ones, but generally fail to understand politics and government, and the give-and-take so necessary in that esoteric world.” It is a lesson that may yet need to be learned in Egypt. As Amil Khan wrote from Islamabad in his Twitter feed, “Love the way Pakistani twitterers puzzled by Egyptians’ trust in army. Guys, you’re kinda similar, but kinda different.” Then there is political Islam. Both Pakistan and Egypt have powerful religious parties which have their roots in Islamist movements born out of Muslim resentment against British colonial rule. In Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, founded in then British India, has, along with other religious parties played a disproportionately significant role in setting the agenda which goes well beyond their weak showing at the ballot box. It has reached the point where no government — either civilian or military — has dared challenge them on issues of faith. When Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province, was shot dead by his own security guard earlier this month over his opposition to the country’s blasphemy laws, his killer was celebrated as a hero. Few dared speak out and most of Taseer’s colleagues in the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) were quick to insist there would no changes to the laws. Many attribute the grip of religious parties on Pakistani society to the use of Islam as a means of uniting the country’s different ethnic groups, to past support by its military for mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan and then the Indians in Kashmir, and to the Islamicisation policies of General Zia-ul-Haq. But over the years every politician has made use of the religious parties to bolster their support, including PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who declared the minority Ahmadi sect as non-Muslims in 1974, and was later deposed and hanged by Zia in 1979. In particular, argues Manan Ahmed in this essay titled “Pakistan’s crisis can’t simply be explained by religion”, Pakistan politicised reverence for the Prophet Mohammed. “This emergence of the Prophet as a centralising and orienting raison d’etre for Pakistan, however, was not merely an organic outgrowth of a religiously inclined society, it was a deliberate state policy, aided by Islamist parties, to mould public faith. The blasphemy riots of the 1950s, when the Ahmadi sect was violently resisted by the Jama’at-i Islami, had taught one clear lesson to the religious right: the veneration of Muhammad was great political theatre with infinite malleability for nearly every segment of the Pakistani population.” Unlike Pakistan, Egypt has more ethnic homogeneity and, with its large Coptic population, greater religious diversity so – on paper at least – political Islam would be less obvious as a unifying force. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded like the Jamaat-e-Islami in opposition to British rule, has taken a low profile in the Egyptian protests, though as former Reuters bureau chief in Cairo Jonathan Wright argues in his blog, this may be a deliberately calibrated stance. “The Brotherhood, like Islamist groups in many Arab countries, has cold feet about governing. It does not feel it is ready. This is reflected in its official strategy of concentrating on a political reform agenda which it shares with many other groups – free and fair elections, rule of law, a new constitution with checks and balances and so on. What the Brotherhood wants most in the short term is the freedom to organize and promote its ideas in a democratic environment, regardless of who is in government. The Brotherhood believes that, given freedom and time, it can win over Egyptians to its long-term agenda.” The Pew Global Attitudes Survey released in December also suggested that Egyptians might actually be more in favour of Islam playing a role in society than Pakistanis. Ninety-five percent of Egyptians questions said it was good for Islam to play a large role in politics, compared to 88 percent of Pakistanis. “At least three-quarters of Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan say they would favor making each of the following the law in their countries: stoning people who commit adultery, whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion,” it said. Finally there is America, which has propped up military rulers in both countries and used generous quantities of American aid to buy support first against communism and then against militant Islam. In Pakistan, the United States is already struggling to foster civilian, democratic rule at a time when it is deeply distrusted. It is likely to face similar challenges in Egypt if it chooses, and manages, to go down that route. Moreover, while the United States was able to underpin the growth of stable, secular democracies in Europe following World War Two with huge amounts of trade and aid, the world nowadays is still recovering from financial crisis. And as Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper noted, the world’s Muslim populations face faster-than-average growth rates at a time of increasing global competition for resources. At least some of the unrest in the Middle East, especially in Tunisia, was fuelled by anger over rising food prices. It is not an easy time for any country to win over people looking for an end to poverty and unemployment.
The State And The Nation
Arun Jaitley, Jan 31, 2011, 12.00am IST Jammu & Kashmir is strategically located on the border of Pakistan. One-third of the state's territory is under Pakistani occupation. Kashmir is part of Pakistan's unfinished agenda since the partition of India. Pakistan, after initially snatching away a part of our territory, has consistently attempted to internationalise the issue. Its initial strategy of conventional war to occupy larger territory has failed. India's military strength was superior. For two decades Pakistan resorted to proxy war through cross-border terrorism. The world started frowning upon terror tactics. India gained strength both in intelligence and security operations to crush terror. Pakistan's strategy did not work beyond a point. Through separatists in Kashmir it is now resorting to a strategy of stone-pelting while arguing that it is a peaceful protest. Violence has always been the separatists' strategy. It invites police and security action. In clashes that follow, many innocents suffer. This results in curfews, hartals and disruption of normal life. Homes are searched and human dignity is compromised. Separatists feel, by adopting this strategy, they can create a wedge between the people and the Indian state. In a peaceful Kashmir, separatist leaders are reduced to becoming Friday speakers. In a stormy Kashmir they become mass leaders. Violence and disruption of life suits them, not the Indian state. How did we reach this stage? Three historical mistakes were committed by our government immediately after independence. Firstly, when a natural migration after the partition was taking place, the then government did not allow resettlement of any refugee in J&K. Refugees who migrated from the PoK region have not been accorded the status of state subject till today. Secondly, Nehru's insistence on ascertaining the wishes of the people - a principle not adopted anywhere else in the country - resulted in the plebiscite resolution, the UN's resolution and the internationalisation of the issue. Thirdly, grant of special status prevented J&K's economic development. It created a psychological barrier between the state and the rest of India. The state's political merger was complete with the signing of the instrument of accession. Accession to Indian law, however, was incomplete because of Article 370. The six-decade journey of separate status has not been towards fuller integration but towards separatism. Separate status created a faint hope of azadi in the minds of some. It prevented investments in the state. Even with its huge human resource potential and natural beauty, the state could never realise its economic potential. It did not gain from economic development in the last two decades. Pakistan has aided separatists and terrorists. Violence, terrorism coupled with security actions harassed the Indian state and the people of J&K. The faint hope of azadi at times culminated in a realisable reality in the minds of separatists. None amongst Kashmir's people has considered whether azadi is realistically possible. Azadi's political content and the prospect of an 'azad' state's survival have never been seriously analysed. It was an idea of protest against India. If separate status gave birth to this faint hope of azadi, mainstream parties, by advocating autonomy, pre-1953 status, self-rule and dual currency, aided and abetted this. Under our constitutional scheme, J&K enjoys more executive and legislative powers than any other state in India. The Centre's jurisdiction is confined to security, defence, currency, foreign affairs, telecommunication and the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Election Commission. None of the above-mentioned jurisdictions can ever be transferred to the state. J&K's current problems are due to the environment being created by separatists, terrorists and our western neighbour. The problems may be economic, employment-centric or those of regional imbalances. None has anything to do with inadequacy of power being vested in the state legislature or state government. The whole object of some political parties is to weaken the political and constitutional relationship between the state and the nation. Special status already started this, with a relationship of modest strength. Autonomy, self-rule and azadi are all intended to weaken this relationship even more. It is for this reason symbols of India's national identity are objected to by the votaries of separatism. There was an objection to the army's presence in the state. Army cantonments are objected to. If yatris visit the Amarnath shrine, grant of land for basic toilet or lodging amenities was objected to. If a national political party endeavours to fly the national flag at a prominent market place in the state capital, it is considered provocative. The tragedy of J&K is that the Nehruvian policy of this loose political and constitutional relationship between the state and the Centre was flawed. Votaries of this policy never accepted its disastrous consequences. They wish to further pursue it to loosen the relationship. Hence the present dichotomy. If somebody advocates segregation of the state from the Indian nation, it is free speech; if you fly the national flag, you will be arrested for breach of peace. It is time governments and policy makers realise the consequences of what they have pursued for over six decades. Unquestionably to eliminate separatism we need to have the people of J&K on our side. Our policy has to be people-friendly, but not separatist-friendly. The state needs peace, prosperity, jobs and security. It does not need moves which strengthen the separatist psyche. Regrettably, the move to consider the unfurling of the national flag by the BJP youth wing representatives in the Valley as a possible breach of peace was psychological surrender to the psyche of the separatists. The writer is a BJP MP and leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
IAF bags best marching contingent award
PTI, Jan 30, 2011, 05.44pm IST NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force has bagged the 'Best Marching Contingent' award amongst the three Services at this year's Republic Day Parade while the Indo-Tibetan Border Police has been adjudged the best amongst the paramilitary. More than 10 contingents of the three Services marched on the Rajpath and included horse-mounted columns of Army's 61 Cavalry, Punjab Regiment, Grenadiers Regiment, Rajputana Rifles Regiment, Rajput Regiment, Sikh Light Infantry Regiment, Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, 3 Gorkha Rifles and the Territorial Army along with a column each of the navy and the Air Force. The marching contingents of paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces included Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Railway Protection Force, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme. Among the 23 tableaux showcasing their respective states and ministries, the tableau from Delhi, with its theme of cultural and religious harmony in the national capital, has bagged the coveted first prize. The awards to the winning contingents would be given away by Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday. The Karnataka tableau, depicting the exotic handicraft of Bidriware from Bidar region, and Jammu & Kashmir tableau, portraying the Bhand Pather folk theatre from Kashmir Valley, has won the Second and Third Prize respectively in this category. Among the five School Children Items that took part in the Parade, the 'Bhangra' dance from Punjab, performed by children from the North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala has been adjudged the best.
Armed Forces Tribunal wants contempt powers
Ajit K Dubey New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) With the Defence Ministry refusing to reinstate a Muslim soldier acquitted of the charges of being an ISI agent, the Armed Forces Tribunal has asked the government to provide it with contempt powers to get its orders implemented. It has also allowed the counsel of the soldier to file a petition in the Supreme Court so that proper directions could be given to make the tribunal "functional and effective". The tribunal had last year quashed an Indian Army order against Naib Subedar Fayaz Khan where he was summarily court martialled from his post of religious teacher in 25 Rajput Regiment on allegations that he had links with Islamic terror groups. "This is an unfortunate matter as the order has not been complied with till this date. Notice has been issued a number of times to all authorities including the Defence Secretary but without any result. "We feel that we are handicapped because we do not have powers to issue a civil contempt to get the orders of the tribunal executed," its chairperson Justice A K Mathur said while hearing Khan''s petition. Expressing the tribunal''s "helplessness", he said, "It is sad that the power of civil contempt for getting the tribunal''s order executed has not been given in the Act. It may be an error or omission or may be deliberate. But because of not having this power we cannot issue a civil contempt to get our orders executed." Observing that lack of civil contempt power was hampering the functioning of the tribunal, Justice Mathur said, "The recommendation for necessary amendment in the Act has already been sent to the Government a long time back. "The orders are at the mercy of the authorities, if they wish they can execute and if they do not wish, they may not. This is a serious thing which has been already taken up with the government but without any result. "We feel helpless that this tribunal cannot come to the rescue of persons despite the orders passed by the tribunal. It is a very strange state of affairs and we are sorry to say that we cannot help the petitioner," he said. Dismissing Khan''s plea in absence of contempt power, Justice Mathur allowed his counsel Maj S S Pandey to file a petition before the Supreme Court. "We certify that this is the fit case to be taken to the Supreme Court so that proper directions can be given by it to make this tribunal functional and effective," he added. Under the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007, powers to prosecute a person for criminal contempt have been given under Section 19. Recommendations for necessary amendment in the Act were sent to the Centre some time back by the tribunal. PTI AJD SC