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archive: Burden of proof

Burden of proof

Varsha Bhosle
Rediff on Net
August 16, 1999


    Title: Burden of proof 
    Author: Varsha Bhosle 
    Publication: Rediff on Net
    Date: August 16, 1999 
    
    June 13, 1997: "...on June 6, you couldn't have missed the day's top story on Major
    Avatar Singh being arrested for his involvement in the murder of J&K human rights
    activist Jalil Andrabi... If Andrabi's was a custodial death, we can guess what
    happened. But what I'd like to know is, what had provoked the army to pull the lawyer
    in for questioning? No newspaper has bothered to investigate. We're told that the
    court had declared the officer a 'proclaimed offender,' and that Amnesty
    International has demanded an inquiry into the alleged murder. I say 'alleged'
    because nobody has yet proved to me that it wasn't an execution."  
    
    November 5, 1998: "I thought of Major Avatar Singh who was arrested for his
    involvement in the custodial death of J&K human rights activist Jalil Andrabi: While
    indicting him, no one asked why Andrabi had been jailed in the first place." 
    
    Yeah, that's me. Major Avatar Singh has always been there at the back of my mind,
    gnawing away. Sure, I did ask around. But my sources were mine -- ergo, without
    credibility... 
    
    And here's why I say *all* censorship must be smashed: If the ban on the website of
    The Dawn had been prolonged, I'd have missed this item of July 17 (and since it's
    from Pakistan, the great and the good can't denounce it). Just one sentence buried
    deep in a long and scathing indictment of India by the NY-based Human Rights Watch:
    "Major Avtar Singh of the 35th Rashtriya Rifles should be apprehended immediately and
    prosecuted for the March 1996 murder of human rights lawyer and *JKLF member* Jalil
    Andrabi." 
    
    Finally, for me, the case is closed. No Indian newspaper has ever hinted at Andrabi's
    JKLF connection. I'm certain that reporters know it, but it's a sin to point fingers
    at: a) a dead person, b) from a minority community, c) whose case has been espoused
    by an influential international org. I have no such qualms: Andrabi's was an
    execution of a Islamic separatist in a terrorism-torn state. Not a murder. Rest in
    Hell, scumbag. 
    
    Sure I was needled by being called a "remix artist" -- but actually, that's precisely
    what pulls me to this job. There's a feeling of unholy glee after one just sits in an
    armchair, puts two and two together, comes up with eight, and then discovers that
    it's the correct answer for that particular equation, after all... Trampling around
    in the mud can't beat cerebral leaps. 
    
    Take the case of the Jamait-Ulema-e-Hind's support to Sonia Gandhi, reported by The
    Pioneer of July 31: "The national executive of the Jamait, by a resolution, extended
    full support to the Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections... The resolution of
    the democratic convention of the Jamait emphasised that the Congress alone could
    check the advancement of the BJP and its allies..." Fine. Normal, expected
    development. 
    
    But what brought this about was that the Shroud had addressed a minorities'
    convention, promising that the Congress was committed to implementing the 15-point
    programme for minorities, which provides for "enhanced representation in the police
    and other government security agencies." Sonia was responding to the action plan for
    Muslims -- submitted to her by Jamait-ulema-e-Hind leader Maulana Asad Madani. 
    
    When I saw that "government security agencies" figured in the Maulana's demands, my
    heart sank. Something fishy... 
    
    Now here's a bit from The Hindustan Times of August 13: "Goalpara district
    vice-president of the Jamait-Ulema-e-Hind, Maulana Mohammed Muslim Ali alias
    Muslimuddin has been arrested. He is also the chief organiser of the Harkat-ul
    Mujahideen in Assam. Police said he admitted to being the agent for sending Muslim
    youths to Pakistan to undergo arms training. He had visited Pakistan on five
    occasions. The police recovered five passports from his possession soon after he was
    picked up from Goa."
    
    Do tell me: What will be the condition of India if people from such an organisation
    "enhance" our security forces...? 
    
    And before you scream, "But one Muslimuddin isn't the Jamait!", I ask you: Is Dara
    Singh the same as Atal Bihari Vajpayee? Is Dara Singh the same as Yashwant Sinha? If
    the Hindutva ideology is at fault -- and therefore all Hindutvawadis are responsible
    for Graham Staines' murder -- why isn't the Jamait a terrorist organisation bent on
    destroying India, in collaboration with Pakistan...? If Hindutva is to blame for
    Dara, why isn't Islam untouchable now? 
    
    Why does the burden of proof always rest on Hindus? Again: What makes the findings of
    the Srikrishna Commission fair and impeccable, and those of the Wadhwa Commission
    questionable and "controversial"? 
    
    Never mind. They have no answers. All they do is repeat the same allegations over and
    over again -- till the asses among Hindus begin to believe them to be true. And
    there's a way it's done -- subtly: "The group, named 'Majlis,' is said to be a
    reincarnation of the Islamic Sewak Sangh, which was banned by the Government of India
    following the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992... Former ISS chief
    Abdul Nassar Madani had given shape to the new outfit before his arrest in connection
    with the Coimbatore blasts." (Rediff, August 14) 
    
    That's a neat one. The questions that proud and belligerent Hindus (the rest can pick
    up their whips for self-flagellation) must instantly ask are: Was the Islamic Sewak
    Sangh in existence before the demolition of the Babri or not? Has the correspondent
    told us Madani's history? What was he doing before he formed the ISS? Or will the
    correspondent have us believe that a nice-nice social worker suddenly turned hostile
    on December 7, 1992, and formed an org which was banned thereafter? Which, of course,
    leads to the premise that Islamic terrorism came into existence only because Hindus
    levelled the derelict structure... 
    
    Now here's an item from The Deccan Herald of April 3, 1998: "The plot to trigger the
    serial bomb blasts in Coimbatore was hatched in Kerala and the main purpose behind it
    was to assassinate BJP president LK Advani, according to the police who interrogated
    People's Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasser Madhani... Madhani, who founded the
    Islamic Sevak Sangh, a rebel outfit, lost one of his legs 10 years ago in a car bomb
    blast allegedly masterminded by the RSS. The PDP came into existence after the
    proscription of the ISS five years ago." 
    
    Madhani, or Madani, lost a leg in 1988, allegedly targeted by ever-ready Culprit No.
    1, the RSS. If true, why would the RSS target him? Ergo, he must have been an Islamic
    activist -- four years before the Babri was flattened. The ISS, apparently, was
    banned in 1993. So he formed the PDP. And then he formed the Majlis. But what was he
    doing circa 1988 BD (ie, Before Demolition)? Or will I have to scour all the
    newspapers of Pakistan to get to the root of this case, too? 
    
    But wait a minute. Here's another report from The Deccan Herald, of April 4, 1998:
    "Madhani's role in the riots that took place in south Kerala on April 1, 1992, has
    been established. His involvement in the Poothura riots, a small fishing hamlet in
    Thiruvananthapuram, during AK Antony's rule was mentioned in the Aravindaksha Menon
    Commission report." Riots. April 1992. Eight months BD. (Perhaps now the others would
    drop their whips?) 
    
    This, my friends, is called collating information. The pieces of the jigsaw are
    always there somewhere -- in the Press or on the Net or in the rumour mills. Truth
    finds its way out, sometimes inadvertently. But someone has to put it all together to
    make sense. And here I take my characteristic detour: Kargil happened because, I
    repeat, there's no such thing as Indian Intelligence... 
    
    In his book, Defending India, Mr Jaswant Singh writes, "The main problem is a lack of
    an appropriate organisation for acquiring, analysing, and disseminating Intelligence
    of value. A lack of perspective, also attention at the political level, is in turn
    mainly responsible for this unsatisfactory state of affairs... [RAW and IB] have
    generally failed to give timely warning of impending national crisis. There is no
    independent and effective agency to coordinate them." 
    
    I agree totally, despite Atalji's stating that there was "no Intelligence failure." I
    think these agencies can and did acquire the bits and pieces -- some are floating
    around in the Press, too. But analysing each piece and putting them all together and
    then drawing conclusions is a different ballgame. 
    
    Suppose if the agencies are filled with bright Nehruvian secularists, the sort who
    strayed in from the IAS (which I think is the case) -- we're done for. That's where
    perspective comes in: Whom would they consider an "enemy"...? Nationalism is
    antithetical to them, and they are steeped in the Russian model of bureaucracy. The
    maverick mind cannot exist there -- and our "Intelligence" agencies are nothing but
    bureaucratic. It's only non-conformist reasoning that can leap and bound. 
    
    V K Sood writes, "What the IB did, or did not do, is legendary. India did not know
    that China had encroached upon Aksai Chin area until 1959. The humiliating defeat in
    the 1962 war was because the IB failed to assess China's intentions, military
    capabilities and consequences of India's 'forward policy.' In the 1965 war, India was
    surprised by Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar. The launch of Operation Grand Slam on
    September 1, 1965, by Pakistan was another shock which was compounded by the sudden
    disclosure of an additional armoured division with Pakistan." 
    
    Well, how can the IB have viewed these countries suspiciously? China is bhai-bhai.
    And so's any Islamic country! Add to that list the Bombay bomb blasts, the Delhi
    explosions, the Purulia arms drop, the Coimbatore serial blasts, the insurgency in
    Kashmir, and all that is exploding all over India. In truth, the ISI seems to have
    taken control. 
    
    True, I don't know the scale at which Intelligence agencies really operate. However,
    one gets a glimpse into the shadowy world of international espionage after living and
    re-living with John Le Carre's people. Probably the most important requirement is for
    Intelligence cadre and agencies to work *with* each other. Can Indians -- especially
    Hindus -- do that? Ha. I know how much more I could have grasped if I had helpful
    eyes and ears around. But our national tendency is to score points off each other
    while scoring brownie points from our masters... Why would agents be any different? 
    
    But even more significantly, do governing gonzos at all understand the need for
    having an unbroken stream of information gathering and assimilating? Would a
    politician who planned to open up the borders of India to Pakistan -- when the ISI's
    export of terrorism was very much in force -- think of allocating funds towards the
    satellites required for electronic surveillance of the borders? If the babus have
    been controlling -- and always rejecting -- the arms requisitions of the Indian Army,
    what heed would they pay to the needs of RAW and IB? Especially when the perspective
    of their masters wasn't ever in tune with the actualities of Indian defence? 
    
    Ach, it's no use. Until the mood of the people doesn't change; until they don't
    recognise Pakistan for what it is -- a country whose raison d'etre is to splinter
    India; until they don't realise the reality of khilafat; until they aren't ready to
    ruthlessly punish separatism and manipulative politics -- NO amount of Intelligence
    can solve India's security problems. 
    
    PK Surendran wrote in ToI, April 8, 1998: "It is increasingly becoming evident that
    extremists in Kerala grew on political patronage, for which, both the Congress and
    CPI-M are equally responsible... prior to the 1996 elections, the Congress-led front
    government withdrew 325 cases of violence registered in various parts of the state."
    I rest my case.
    



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