The Khobdagade Row: Will Pragmatism or US Arrogance Decide Course of Action?

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Devyani Khobragade, India's former Deputy Consul General at New York the leaving federal court.

Devyani Khobragade, India’s former Deputy Consul General at New York the leaving federal court.

On Christmas Eve 2006, inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, Andrew Moonen, an off-duty Blackwater operative, had just left holiday party. Witnesses said that he was drunk as he walked through the “Little Venice” section of the zone, when he encountered Raheem Khalif, an Iraqi bodyguard of Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahid. “Between 10:30 and 11:30 om, the Blackwater contractor, carrying a Glock 9 mm pistol, passed through a gate near the Iraqi Prime Minister’s compound and was confronted by the Iraqi guard who was on duty,” according to a US Congressional investigation. “The Blackwater contractor fired multiple shots, three of which struck the guard, then fled the scene.”

Blackwater officials confirm that within days they whisked the contractor safely out of Iraq, which they say Washington ordered them to do. Iraqi officials labelled the killing a “murder.”

In spite of the outcry, no serious criminal investigation was launched against Moonen to prosecute him. In fact, after Blackwater had to sack him, he was back in the Middle East working on another assignment of the US Department of Defence.

At noon of 16 September, 2007, Blackwater guards escorting a US State Department convoy unleashed what has come to be known as the infamous Nissour Square Masssacre that left 17 innocents Iraqis dead and 16 critically wounded. It must be noted that Blackwater was a ‘private security contractor’ employed by the State Department to protect its personnel and assets in Iraq. Rather than immediately launching an investigation into the massacre and prosecuting the guilty, the US State Department, in collusion with Blackwater, did all it could to prevent an investigation, let alone a prosecution of the guilty. In fact, they tried to portray the incident as an attack on the convoy by Iraqi insurgents and the use of lethal force as a valid response. Eric Prince, the owner of Blackwater and a former US Special Forces Soldier claimed, “Among threats identified were men with AK 47s firing on the convoy, as well as approaching vehicles that appeared to be suicide bombers. The Blackwater personnel attempted to exit the area but one of their vehicles was disabled by enemy fire. Some of those firing on this Blackwater team appeared to be wearing Iraqi National Police uniforms, or portions of uniforms. As the withdrawal occurred, the Blackwater vehicles remained under fire from such personnel.’

Interestingly, among the first of the US forces who arrived on the scene of the Nissour Square carnage, the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillary Regiment of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division and who had immediately conducted an on-site investigation, had an entirely different opinion of the sequence of events. Lt. Col.  Mike Tarsa, who headed this force, reported that his soldiers combed the scene but found no bullets from AK 47 rifles or BKC machine guns used by Iraqi military and police that Eric Prince had alleged were fired. But they did find an abundance of evidence of ammunition from US manufactured weapons, including M4 rifle 5.56 mm brass casings, M240B machine gun 7.62 mm casings and M203 40 mm grenade-launcher casings. Lt. Col. Tarsa bluntly concluded that there was “no enemy activity involved,” determined that all of the killings were unjustified and labelled the shootings a “criminal event.”

When continued outrage compelled the US to order a FBI investigation, and even though the crime scene was compromised to enable it to collect evidence that would have been otherwise easily possible, the FBI still found 14 of the killings “unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq.”      

Did this compel the US to allow Iraq prosecute the perpetrators, or itself initiated prosecution? The answer is a big no.

As early as June 27, 2004, Paul Bremer, the chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq following the 2003 invasion, who had sweeping powers to rule by decree, had issued a decree known as the Order 17 granting sweeping immunity to private contractors working for the United States in Iraq, effectively barring the Iraqi government from prosecuting contractor crimes in Iraqi domestic courts. And even though Bremer had allegedly handed over ‘sovereignty’ to the Iraqi government much before the two crimes I have mentioned above had been committed, the US State Department claimed that their immunity was still valid and the decree was still in force.

In effect, the US State Department believes that even private contractors working for the US government on foreign soil enjoys immunity against criminal prosecution of any kind, let alone by the domestic government, even if accused of massacre of civilians, but an accredited diplomat representing a sovereign government on US soil doesn’t enjoy any kind of immunity against prosecution even if the charges may just be of paying less wage to her domestic help or declaring to the US government, falsely, that the said domestic help had been paid the minimum wage as per US law. In fact, the US State Department believed that the Indian Deputy Consul General is such a threat that she had to be taken into custody for not paying her domestic help minimum wage and that she also had to be cuffed, strip searched and have her body cavities searched.

The US State Department also believes that it is acting lawfully when it smuggles out such felons wanted for mass murder in order to prevent a host country from prosecuting them, and talks of “respect for law” in the same breath.

They may very well do so, but should we accept such hypocrisy or call their bluff?

When the Iraqi government demanded compensation for the victims of the Nissour Square Massacre, the US State Department (on behalf of Blackwater) offered between $ 10,000-12,500 each to the victim’s families (which they rightly refused to accept).

In effect, you can not only get away with mass murder if you are a private contractor working for the US State Department, but also not compensate the victims for the atrocity. You cannot, however, get away from criminal prosecution paying less wage than the US minimum wage to your domestic worker even if you are an accredited representative of a sovereign government.

Also, minimum wage for a blue collar worker in the US naturally has to be higher than value of lives of sundry Iraqis who got killed by trigger happy US private contractors. How can India’s Deputy Consul General in New York dare not to pay $ 54,000 wage to her domestic worker as per US laws? After all she isn’t a private contractor for the US State Department who has just killed a dozen Iraqis.

Of course these are questions you won’t get answers to, from the pompous Manhattan DA who would want to teach us about “respect for law.”

India’s own foreign policy establishment, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), has not exactly covered itself in glory by allowing a situation to develop which led to arrest and unacceptable humiliation of a woman diplomat. The MEA started believing in the rhetoric of India-US bilateral relation of being a ‘defining partnership’ so much that it needed the US Marshal Service to stick its fingers to one of its woman diplomats “where the sun doesn’t shine in India” to finally wake up from it. The outrage notwithstanding, the MEA is clearly at fault for neglecting serious issues of pay, entitlements, and their compliance with prevalent US laws that left Devyani Khobdagade vulnerable to US prosecution. Equally worse, it has left the Indian diplomats looking like a bunch of feudal slave owners, regardless of what the actual facts in this matter are.

But how is this likely to end?

It may be counterintuitive to say that the world’s sole superpower will back down in this confrontation, particularly if one goes by the defiant statements from the Manhattan DA’s office or the utterance of the State Department spokeswoman. No one, however, is more acutely aware of the limits of US power than the State Department and the US foreign policy establishment in this decade since 9/11. It is acutely aware that it will have to continue to operate in places far beyond the jurisdiction of the Manhattan DA in pursuit of its strategic national interests. It is also acutely aware that on many occasions its conduct in pursuit of these strategic national interests will be in violation of law. It is therefore acutely aware that diplomacy and reciprocity will continue to remain a key to negotiate this minefield. There is no reason to believe that such pragmatism, and not the Manhattan DA’s pompousness, will not finally decide the path to resolving this face-off. 

Note:

The conduct of the US State Department regarding the massacres and murders carried out by its private contractors, primarily Blackwater, is being quoted here almost literatim from Jeremy Scahill’s authoritative work “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”

How I became a “Most Wanted RAW Agent” !! – IV

Lack of roads & bridges made it a logistical nightmare to operate in the interiors of Kokrajhar & Chirang. This also necessitated keeping ready more 'back-up' vehicles in the field.

Lack of roads & bridges made it a logistical nightmare to operate in the interiors of Kokrajhar & Chirang. This also necessitated keeping ready more ‘back-up’ vehicles in the field.

In my earlier posts that I have listed below, I have already revealed about how ludicrously baseless allegations were used to have cases under cognizable, non-bailable sections of IPC registered against me to have me arrested on 2 February 2013 in Guwahati, Assam, and once I was arrested, how the same were touted as gospel by the Assam Police and a section of the media.

How I became a Most Wanted RAW Agent !!” – I

How I became a Most Wanted RAW Agent !!” – II

How I became a Most Wanted RAW Agent !!” – III

Here I shall reveal how a section of Assam Police officials sought to justify my patently illegal arrest by registering more false cases after I was arrested.

In order to do so, I reproduce below, word-for-word, the FIR which became the basis of the false allegations that I had lakhs of rupees outstanding in payments to travel agents as rental for vehicles hired.

Dispur P.S. Case No. 233/2013 u/s 420/406 of IPC registered on 03/02/2013

To

The Officer-in-Charge

Dispur Police Station

Sub: FIR

Sir,

I beg to inform you that I look after the business of the Accent Tours and Travels as an employee. On 14/07/2012 Sri Nilim Dutta, resident of Beltola Survey and his mother Mina Dutta hired a vehicle from our agency on monthly contract and travelled to various places. But they have failed to pay all the vehicle-hiring charges to us entirely. When we asked them to settle the bills, they sent us a cheque, in his father’s name, on 17/08/2012 by post to us but the cheque was for only Rs. 30,000.00 (Thirty thousand only) and the same could not be deposited at the bank as there were some anomalies. They owe our Agency Rs. 180,618.00 at present and whenever we send someone to collect the payment, he doesn’t meet us and remains untraceable. It is my humble request to register a case in this regard, making his father and mother as co-accused, and take necessary action.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

Durlove Narayan Bora

Accent Tours & Travels

Ganeshguri, Guwahati

The above FIR is dated 03/02/2012 and a case was registered on its basis the same day.

The reality, as I shall now reveal below, is markedly different.

In July 2012, when I was in Upper Assam districts of Jorhat, Golaghat and Sibsagar, one of our vehicles developed a snag and I needed an immediate replacement. That vehicle was indeed hired from one Mr. Durlove Bora of Accent Tours & Travels in Guwahati. He introduced himself to my mother as the proprietor of the said Agency when he accompanied the vehicle & the driver when it reported to my home at Guwahati (not in Beltola Survey as claimed in the FIR). I was in Upper Assam then, and since the vehicle was to reach me there, I had instructed a nominal advance to be paid to him in Guwahati and pick up some luggage as well. That is the only involvement my mother had with this whole business. Also, there was no ‘monthly contract’ under which we had hired the vehicle.

As ethnic violence broke out soon thereafter, I rushed to Kokrajhar and Chirang from Upper Assam. Mr. Bora’s vehicle which I had used in Upper Assam was duly returned to him and the payments cleared. Soon, however, I needed more vehicles in Kokrajhar & Chirang, for relief operations and to be used by my security detail as escort vehicles. It is a fact that we never imposed on the district administration for any resources other than the security detail and since vehicles couldn’t be hired in Kokrajhar or Chirang locally, all of it were hired from Guwahati and sent to me there. Mr. Durlove Narayan Bora/Accent Tours & Travels also provided us with vehicles on a few occasions to be used there.

It must be noted that Mr. Durlove Narayan Bora wasn’t the only one who had provided us vehicles in that period. Also, it must be noted that the log-sheets of the vehicles in use were duly signed daily either by me or by any of our authorized staff as per procedure. As we were responding to an emergency arising out of a huge humanitarian crisis, for operational convenience, I authorized interim payments in cash against delivery of goods or services even without proper bills being submitted to us.

And, contrary to what has been claimed in the FIR, that is how we made payments totaling to Rs. 142,500.00 in cash to Durlove Narayan Bora of Accent Tours & Travels, the details of which are provided below along with the copies of receipts obtained from him against each such payment:

On 14/07/2012 Rs.      1,500.00

On 21/07/2012 Rs.      5,000.00

On 28/07/2012 Rs.      5,000.00

On 13/08/2012 Rs.    13,000.00

On 24/08/2012 Rs.      7,000.00

On 13/09/2012 Rs.    55,000.00

On 01/10/2012 Rs.    31,000.00

On 07/10/2012 Rs.    25,000.00

Accent Tours & Travels Receipt 1

Accent Tours & Travels Receipt 2

Accent Tours & Travels Receipt 3

Accent Tours & Travels Receipt 4

Accent Tours & Travels Receipt 5

Accent Tours & Travels Receipt 6

Accent Tours & Travels Receipt 7

Accent Tours & Travels Receipt 8

These were not the only payment made to Mr. Durlove Narayan Bora, however.

When in October 2012, the violence seemed to have abated and we had things under control, an internal audit revealed that Durlove Narayan Bora/Accent Tours & Travels had been paid in access of the actual charges of hiring vehicles. Bora was summoned and this was pointed out to him. I personally asked him to complete the bills and submit them as soon as possible. He promised me to do so and said that whatever we had paid in excess, he would want to adjust it against future bills.

Meanwhile, we laid plans to expand our involvement in Kokrajhar & Chirang for the post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation. This necessitated creation of infrastructure and logistical facilities on the ground there across several locations. Among the things needed were 2 more new vehicles. It was then that Mr. Durlove Narayan Bora offered to lease out to us on a year long contract 2 such new vehicles. He requested to me, however, for some advance as he had run short of cash to have these new vehicles financed. Since a contract couldn’t be signed without the vehicles, and because he already had been paid in excess, I agreed to pay him, but not in cash.

Accordingly, a further Rs. 96,000.00 was paid out of my personal account in the Canara Bank to Durlove Narayan Bora through cheques, the details of which are given below.

On 10/10/2012 vide Cheque No. 66501, Rs.   20,000.00

On 13/10/2012 vide Cheque No. 66502, Rs.   31,000.00

On 18/10/2012 vide Cheque No. 66510, Rs.   20,000.00

On 05/11/2012 vide Cheque No. 66937, Rs.   25,000.00

Soon thereafter, violence broke out once again in Kokrajhar & Chirang. All our rehabilitation plans had to be postponed and we were once again caught up in monitoring and intervening in the situation as best as we could.

Mr. Durlove Narayan Bora never submitted any bills, nor provided us with 2 more new vehicles on lease for which he had secured an advance of Rs. 96,000.00 from me. Finally, in January 2013, on my return from Delhi, I asked him to submit his bills without failing within February 2013 and return us whatever money (in excess of a lakh) that had been paid to him in excess. He sought time till the end of March 2013 and to be allowed to refund it in installments. As is my nature, I relented.

I was naturally surprised to see him at the Dispur Police Station on the afternoon of 3 February 2013 as I was lying there injured. For a moment, I thought he had come to offer me support. My premature assumption was soon put to rest when ASI Arun Baruah and he sat down to jot down the FIR I have produced word-for-word above. When I taunted them that what will they do when I bring up the receipts for cash payments, they laughed confidently and said, “But how will you? All your files etc are lying locked up in Cottage #3. You don’t have any evidence in your hand now.”

Unfortunately for them, we have operated for more than a decade in an extremely hostile environment. And we never leave valuable documents and possessions unsecured. What they thought was lying locked in Cottage #3 (the bungalow I used as the control room in Guwahati) had actually been removed to safe custody much earlier.

In all, we had paid Durlove Narayan Bora/Accent Tours & Travels a total of Rs. 238,500.00 of which less than a lakh was actually due to him. And the Assam Police still saw it fit to register a case under cognizable, no-bailable sections of the IPC against me. To perpetuate their lies.

Mr. Durlove Narayan Bora has claimed in the FIR that whenever he had gone to ask me for payments, I had refused to meet him and had remained ‘untraceable’. I would want him to explain that if no payments were made to him at all, what was it that he had provided us the signed receipts for on numerous occasions? And, from whom did he collect the payments in lakhs if I had remained untraceable?

Will the Assam Police too care to explain?

Before I conclude, I must once again point out that:

(1) Even in this FIR, there isn’t even a sentence accusing me of claiming to be a RAW official.

(2) Even in this FIR, there isn’t even a sentence accusing me that any cheques I had issued had been dishonoured due to insufficient funds.

As to the journalists of The Times of India, First Post In or the Rediff.com (and quite a few more newspapers and television news channels) who reported these gleefully against me, rather than revealing anything about me, their malicious reports have revealed their own complete lack of ethics and professionalism.

Such is their nature of ‘truth’.

How I became a “Most Wanted RAW Agent” !! – III

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In the middle of November 2012, when I was supposed to be in hiding, as hinted darkly in the FIR, I was actually very much in the public eye. Seen here on the night of 16 November 2012 at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital paying a visit to Ikramul Haq who survived a shooting by Bodo extremists at point blak range in Kochugaon in Kokrajhar on 14 November 2012, and whose shifting to GMCH I had personally overseen.

In the middle of November 2012, when I was supposed to be in hiding, as hinted darkly in the FIR, I was actually very much in the public eye. Seen here on the night of 16 November 2012 at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) paying a visit to Ikramul Ahmed who survived a shooting by Bodo extremists at point blak range in Kochugaon in Kokrajhar on 14 November 2012, and whose shifting to GMCH I had personally overseen.

I have already revealed, in “How I became a Most Wanted RAW Agent” – I, how in the feverish imagination of a bunch of Assam Police officers and the media, I became a RAW agent with almost supernatural powers of being able to change form from my father to myself while jumping off a building.

Or, how my family and I possess such supernatural powers to be omnipresent in cities thousands of kilometers apart or be able to live in hotels without leaving a trace in the guest registers or sign a single bill during our stays in “How I became a Most Wanted RAW Agent” – II.

I shall now reveal here how FIRs can be filed and cases registered under cognizable, non-bailable sections of the IPC by the Assam Police without even a crime being committed, with patently mala fide intent, because I had to be arrested for ‘something’.

This was the case which I was arrested in, allegedly for failure to pay house rent for months, security deposit for the same and because the cheques I had issued had allegedly bounced. How much truth there is in the allegations shall be evident from the FIR itself.

In order to do so, I produce below the FIR, word-for-word, of the case for which 5 days ‘police custody’ was sought for me (which was of course rejected outright by the court), even though I was seriously wounded and should have been in hospital.

Dispur P.S. Case No. 2770/2012 u/s 420/406 of IPC registered on 27/08/2012

Most Urgent

To

The Officer-in-Charge

Dispur Police Station

Guwahati 781006

Assam

Sub: THE COTTAGE ON RENT – First Information Report (FIR) in respect of Locking the Cottage by the Tenant Mr. Nilim Dutta for last 1 ½ months, non payment of Rent from Nov. 2012 and Security Deposit of Rs. 1.25 lakhs due on 29.08.2012 i.e. the Date of Signing the Agreement.

Dear Sir,

I have the honour to draw your kind attention to the content subject and would like to submit the following for your most urgent and kind action:

(1) In response to our Advt. of the Cottage for rent released on the Assam Tribune dt. August 5th, 12th, & 19th 2012, (all Sundays) Mr. Nilim Dutta approached us for rent of the cottage and signed an Agreement for the same for 11 months w.e.f  29-08-2012, the date of signing of the Agreement. A copy of the Agreement is enclosed herewith.

(2) On the date of the Agreement dt. 29-08-2012, Mr. Dutta handed over a cheque of Rs. 1,25,000.00 drawn on HDFC Bank Ltd. Fancy Bazar towards the Security Deposit with a word to present the cheque to our HDFC Account at Khanapara Branch after one week when Mr. Dutta gets his funds transferred from New Delhi.

However the Security Deposit amount could not be encashed, as Mr. Dutta every time pleaded that his amount is yet to be transferred from his Head Office, New Delhi. As a result the cheque remained uncashed and is no longer valid today.

(3) The Cottage rent for the month of August, September and October, 2012 were paid but the rent for the month of November 2012 not yet paid, though due on 4th December 2012.

(4) Initially, Mr. Dutta, his sister along with his father and mother stayed together in the Cottage. However, intermittently his mother and father informed that they go to Jorhat, Tezpur etc and stay there, while Mr. Dutta and his sister now and often go to Bodoland as his official duty and stay there weeks together.

On occupancy of the Cottage w.e.f. 29-08-2012, Mr. Dutta and his family did not bring any furniture, fixtures including sleeping cots. They started sleeping on the floor telling us that they are gradually arranging sleeping cots, but they said they feel comfortable sleeping in the top floor. Till date, they did not brought any furnitures and beds.

(5) From October 2012 last, Mr. Dutta’s parents started staying elsewhere but occasionally came to the Cottage and stayed a few nights and then again gone.

(6) Since November 1st week, 2012, the Cottage is kept locked, all doors and windows closed. However, at dead of midnight Mr. Dutta used to enter the campus and silently unlock the main front door of the Cottage located in the entrance verandah, then opens the back door of the Cottage, then lock the front door as well as the back door, giving an impression that nobody stays in. It is very difficult for us to know when he comes and goes and what he does inside the Cottage.

Gradually, we could find that somebody was using the top floor bathroom as the drain pipe’s discharge from the top bathroom flows through the back side drain of the Cottage. This proves that somebody stays at night in the Cottage without our knowledge. This poses a great serious security threat to us and the entire campus under present day condition.

(7) After receipt of our mail  dated 17-12-2012 (copy enclosed) Mr. Dutta gave a call to us stating that he was terribly busy in New Delhi with the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the Bodoland issue followed by his mail to Mr. M.K. Sarma (my husband) dated 20-12-2012 reproduced below:

from: Nilim Dutta nilimdutta@gmail.com

to: Mrinal Kumar Sarma

date: Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM

subject: Re: The Cottage on Rent – Non payment of Security Deposit, Rent etc

Dear Mr. Sarma,

I am in receipt of your earlier mail and I asked Nirajita to leave it to me to reply to.

There is absolutely no need to worry and not only will I reply but resolve all other matters as well late tonight. Just that an exceedingly hectic schedule till this evening will keep me preoccupied here in Delhi.

Regards,

Nilim Dutta

The same day (20-12-2012), I have addressed a mail (copy enclosed) to Mr. Nilim Dutta about our great worry of the Cottage, its upkeepment and total silence on the issue of non-payment of Rent, Security Deposit and Electricity dues etc, drawing his urgent attention to the Clause 02 (XV) of the Deed of Agreement, dated 29-08-2012, as below:

I have been compelled to revoke the Clause 02 (XV) of the Deed of Agreement, dated 29-08-2012 with immediate effect i.e. by December 29th , 2012 you are to peacefully hand over the possession instantly and notify to you any consequential damages caused by you to the property  for payment etc. with information  to the Officer-in-Charge, Dispur Police Station, Guwahati 781006.

I regret to state that till date as addressing this letter to you, we have not received any word from Mr. N. Dutta.

In view of the above extreme circumstances we have been put through since 1st November 2012, I have the honour to inform you the same and sincerely request for arranging our entry into the Cottage under clause 02 (XV) of the Deed of Agreement, dated 29-08-2012 in your presence on December 29-12-2012 at your most convenient time.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

Mrs. Archana Sharma

Cottage #3, Housing Colony,

Rukmininagar, Basistha Road

Guwahati – 781006,

Assam, India

Mrinal Kumar Sarma

Ex Managing Director

North Eastern Development Finance Corportaion Ltd

Mimistry of Finance

Govt of India

Copy enclosed:

(1) Copy of Agreement, dated 29-08-2012.

(2) Copy of HDFC Bank Cheque, dated 29-09-2012

The above FIR is dated 27/12/2012 and a case was registered on its basis the same day.

The problems with the above piece of fiction are numerous. I shall point out only the ones most relevant, legally.

First, Mrs. Archana Sharma and Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma claims in para (2) of the FIR that,

On the date of the Agreement dt. 29-08-2012, Mr. Dutta handed over a cheque of Rs. 1,25,000.00 drawn on HDFC Bank Ltd. Fancy Bazar towards the Security Deposit with a word to present the cheque to our HDFC Account at Khanapara Branch after one week when Mr. Dutta gets his funds transferred from New Delhi.

That it is a lie is evident from the fact that the copy of the cheque drawn on HDFC Bank Ltd. Fancy Bazar which he has enclosed with the FIR is dated 29/09/2012. Was I supposed to pay them the Security Deposit within a week from 29/08/2012 with a cheque dated 29/09/2012? Or was there explicit understanding which was entirely different as would be revealed by e-mail records that is being produced before a competent court?

Second, Mrs. Archana Sharma and Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma further claims in para (2) of the FIR that,

However the Security Deposit amount could not be encashed, as Mr. Dutta every time pleaded that his amount is yet to be transferred from his Head Office, New Delhi. As a result the cheque remained uncashed and is no longer valid today.

Truth is, a cheque dated 29/09/2012 (which is actually the date of the Cheque issued as established by the enclosed copy) would be valid till 29/12/2012. Hence the claim that the cheque was ‘no longer valid’ on 27/12/2012 is entirely false. What prevented Mrs. Archana Sharma from depositing this valid cheque in her account of 27 December 2012 if indeed the Security Deposit was outstanding? Also, when the cheque itself was valid and the same had not even been deposited, let alone being dishonoured due to insufficient funds, what crime had been committed for a case to be registered?

Third, Mrs. Archana Sharma and Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma again claims in para (3) of the FIR that,

The Cottage rent for the month of August, September and October, 2012 were paid but the rent for the month of November 2012 not yet paid, though due on 4th December 2012.

Truth is, as per the Deed of Agreement for the Cottage signed on 29 August 2012, that the rent of Rs. 25,000 per month would be calculated from 1 September 2012, is explicitly mentioned in the Agreement, and that it would be due on the 4th of each successive month. Hence, the rent for the first month, that is September 2012, was due on 4th October 2012 and duly paid and record of payment obtained. And it continued without default even for a single month. Therefore, isn’t the rent for three months, as explicitly admitted in the FIR, actually for the months of September, October and November 2012? Isn’t it therefore a fact that on the date the FIR was filed and a case was registered with congnizable, non-bailable sections of the IPC based on it, that is on 27 December 2012, not even a month’s rent was due and rent for the month of December 2012 was due only on January 2013? Even here, not even a cause of action even for a civil suit had arisen, let alone a criminal case under cognizable, non-bailable sections of the IPC. Why was it so important that it was done in spite of absolutely no grounds for registering a case?

There are numerous other false claims as well.

In para (4) of the FIR it is claimed that my family had lived in the said bungalow from 29/08/2012.

Whereas, Dispur PS Case No. 2432/2012 u/s 420/406/511 of IPC registered on 8 November 2012, claims Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta’s family lived in Hotel Nivedan in that period till October 2012.

Again, Dispur PS Case No. 233/2013 u/s 420/406 of IPC registered on 3 February 2013, on the other hand, claims that my family and I have been residing in yet another address since July 2012.

Can all of these competing claims be true?

In para (6) of the FIR, it is claimed that,

Since November 1st week, 2012, the Cottage is kept locked, all doors and windows closed. However, at dead of midnight Mr. Dutta used to enter the campus and silently unlock the main front door of the Cottage located in the entrance verandah, then opens the back door of the Cottage, then lock the front door as well as the back door, giving an impression that nobody stays in. It is very difficult for us to know when he comes and goes and what he does inside the Cottage.

The truth, however, is that even on the evening of 8 November 2012 (the day the Dispur P.S. Case No. 2432/2012 was registered), at about 4:30 pm, when ASI Arun Baruah, along with a few armed police personnel from the Dispur PS had come to that very same bungalow, which was supposed to have been kept locked, he found it very much occupied as would a normal bungalow used as a temporary ‘control room’ with living quarters would be. ASI Arun Barua also found me in that very same bungalow, along with some staff, and we had a not very amicable interaction in its living room. I must also add that ASI Arun Baruah did not have to climb in through the window or break open the lock (which would have been illegal) to enter the house.

Raghu Rai and my mother at Cottage # 3, Rukmininagar, Guwahati (which acted as my 'control room' for our work in the violence affected districts of Kokrajhar & Chirang whenever I was in Guwahati) on the evening of 14 November 2012 before the informal dinner I hosted.

Raghu Rai and my mother at Cottage # 3, Rukmininagar, Guwahati (which acted as my ‘control room’ for our work in the violence affected districts of Kokrajhar & Chirang whenever I was in Guwahati) on the evening of 14 November 2012 before the informal dinner I hosted.

On the evening of 14 November 2012, on my return from Kokrajhar that evening, I hosted a small informal dinner in that very bungalow where Mr. Raghu Rai and his daughter, who had spent their Diwali with us among the victims of the ethnic conflict in Kokrajhar and Chirnag, too were present. I don’t remember Mr. Raghu Rai and his daughter climbing in through the window or sneaking in through the back door. Also present in that dinner were Mrs. Archana Sharma and Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma. I am rather curious whether they climbed in through the window or sneaked in through the back door. Yes, there are photographs and other evidence to prove the same.

On the evening of 16 November 2012, on the live TV debate "Proxongokrome" in DY 365 on the ethnic violence in BTC districts of Kokrajhar & Chirang. (From left) Bhupen Bora, (then Parliamentary Secretary for Home, Government of Assam), Mrinal Talukdar, Haider Hussain (Editor, Asomiya Pratidin) and I. It was on this show where it was announced that there will be a crackdown on armed elements in BTC who were responsible for the violence. Next morning, Mono Brahma, Executive Member BTC, was arrested for possession of illegal AK 56 rifles and ammunition and police security of a number of prominent BPF functionaries were withdrawn.

On the evening of 16 November 2012, on the live TV debate “Proxongokrome” in DY 365 on the ethnic violence in BTC districts of Kokrajhar & Chirang. (From left) Bhupen Bora, (then Parliamentary Secretary for Home, Government of Assam), Mrinal Talukdar, Haider Hussain (Editor, Asomiya Pratidin) and I. It was on this show where it was announced that there will be a crackdown on armed elements in BTC who were responsible for the violence. Next morning, Mono Brahma, Executive Member BTC, was arrested for possession of illegal AK 56 rifles and ammunition and police security of a number of prominent BPF functionaries were withdrawn.

Two days later, on the evening of 16 November 2012, I appeared on the live TV debate on DY365 along with Bhupen Bora, who happened to be the Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Home for Government of Assam, and who played a instrumental role in dealing firmly with the law & order situation in Kokrajhar and Chirang arising out of the ethnic violence there and Haider Hussain, then the Editor of Assam’s largest circulating Assamese daily, Asomiya Pratidin. Mrs. Archana Sharma, Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma, their daughter watched the show sitting in the living room of that very bungalow with my parents who came visiting. Since I was at the studio of the television channel, I wouldn’t be able to tell whether they all climbed in through the window or sneaked in through the back door.

Surprisingly, Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma also claimed on TV after my arrest on 2 February 2012, that the house was kept locked from first week of December 2012 which contradicts his own claim in the FIR that it was kept locked from 1 November 2012.

There is a lot more to this story than I am revealing here, and shall be dealt with in an appropriate court of law, but what must not be overlooked is that if Mrs. Archana Sharma and Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma had communicated to me on 20 December 2012 that I was to peacefully hand over the said premises on 29 December 2012, as mentioned in para (7) of the FIR, what was the ground for even approaching the police to have a case registered under cognizable, non-bailable sections of the IPC against me just two days prior to the intended handover?

Why was it at all necessary to plead to the police to arrange for an ‘entry’ into the bungalow, as prayed for in the last para of the FIR, when it was to be handed over anyway?

Was the FIR to be the ‘excuse’ for the police to enter the bungalow and take possession of what was believed to have been kept in it, like damning evidences of findings from our probe into the ethnic violence in Kokrajhar and Chirnag?

I was as yet unaware of these developments, when on the morning of 29 December 2012, I received a call from the daughter of Mrs. Archana Sharma and Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma curtly informing me that they will enter the bungalow and take possession of everything. As I was still in Delhi on that day. I immediately warned them of the consequences of such an unlawful act through an e-mail. Was this also a ruse to make me rush to Guwahati, something which I refused to fall for anyway?

In an e-mail on 4 January 2013, Mrs. Archana Sharma and Mr. Mrinal Kumar Sarma communicated to me that, “Your belongings in the property are under lock and key and to the visible eye, there has been no break-in. Let me assure you that I do not plan to do any unlawful break-in……,” contrary to what they pleaded for in the FIR just barely a week ago.

The matter was still unresolved when I returned to Guwahati from Delhi. I was still unaware of that a case under cognizable, non-bailable sections of the IPC had been registered against me on patently false allegations. When I was arrested on the night of 2 February, 2013 and produced in court on 3 February 2013, this was the only case where 5 days police custody was sought, even though I should have been in the hospital because of the serious injuries. The Investigating Officer (IO), S.I. N.K. Das, hid my medical reports and tried to pass off my injuries as having been sustained earlier. It was my sister Smita, who was produced before the judicial magistrate too, who disputed the IO’s version of events and exposed his lies. When the judicial magistrate questioned the Investigating Officer as to why was my custody at all needed, there was no explanation from him. Already finding the IO to be lying, the lady who was the judicial magistrate we were produced before, came out of her court room to speak to me in the police vehicle where I was lying and angrily rebuked the IO and not only rejected his plea for my police custody, but directed the jail authorities to have me admitted to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital immediately and then file a compliance report within 48 hours. Wasn’t my police custody sought because that was the only way they could enter the bungalow without unlawfully breaking-in or without securing a search warrant? And wasn’t that the intention because that was the only way they thought could take away the mass of collected documents and evidence? Fortunately for us, what they believed we had left lying there in the bungalow was put away in safe custody long before that.

Before I conclude, however, I must once again point out that:

(1) Even in this FIR, there isn’t even a sentence accusing me of claiming to be a RAW official.

(2) Even in this FIR, there isn’t even a sentence accusing me that any cheques I had issued had been dishonoured due to insufficient funds.

Will the media, which widely reported the above allegations, now clarify where from had they quoted these charges?

The bitter truth is, on  27 December 2012, there was no ground for even a civil suit or a complaint under the N.I. Act, let alone a criminal case under cognizable, no-bailable sections of the IPC. 

The Dangerous Logic of Discarding Credible Evidence as Bazaar Gossip: Rebutting Ashok Malik on Ishrat Jehan

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A chorus of indignant influential voices can be heard suddenly as the CBI appears to be closing in on the main culprits of the conspiracy that led to the extrajudicial killing of 19 years old Mumbra girl, Ishrat Jehan along with three others on 15 June 2004 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and in all likelihood is set to indict Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Mr. Rajendra Kumar. (The Tehelka Exposé)

The cacophony gets shriller the moment there is speculation, based on media reports, that there appears to be a possibility that the trail may lead to the doors of Mr. Narendra Modi, three-times Chief Minister of Gujarat, Hindutva strongman and poster boy of a section in the media who finds only political conspiracies in any accusations against him.

To one such eminent columnist, Mr. Ashok Malik, even any conjecture that Modi could have done wrong is “Dangerous Logic”.

Writing in The Asian Age (30 June 2013), Mr. Malik claims:

What does one make of the selective leaks and the motivated reportage in sections of the media on the Ishrat Jehan case? It is fairly clear there is a systematic and downright political attempt to implicate Narendra Modi, the Gujarat chief minister, in still further controversy, without the legal case necessarily getting anywhere.

The insinuation is clear: That the Congress led government at the Centre, through the abuse of the investigative powers of the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), is seeking to implicate Mr. Modi in the conspiracy to have Ishrat Jehan and  three others killed in cold blood in a false encounter in a bid to stop him from gunning for power at the Centre in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He, in fact, provocatively claims that the ‘legal case necessarily isn’t getting anywhere’.

Unfortunately, the facts dispute Mr. Malik’s claims substantially.

That Ishrat Jehan and three others were killed in a fake encounter isn’t the conclusion of the Congress led government at the Centre, nor even of an inquiry instituted by it. It was at first, the conclusion of the Court of the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate on 7 September 2009 (more than 5 years after the incident), based on the findings of a 247 pages Judicial Inquiry Report, ironically ordered by the Gujarat Government led by Modi.

Inevitably, the Gujarat Government challenged the findings before the Gujarat High Court, only to be faced with a deeper investigation by a Special Investigative Team (SIT) constituted by the Gujarat High Court and monitored by it. On 21 November 2011, The SIT concluded in its Final Report to the HC that Ishrat Jehan and three others were indeed killed in cold blood in a case of custodial killing made to appear as an encounter.

On 1 December, 2011, the Gujarat High Court passed orders for fresh FIRs to be filed against those found guilty by the SIT probe and handed over the probe to the CBI. In a detailed order, the Bench recorded 12 reasons for not letting any state agency of Gujarat to continue with the probe and why it was handing it over to the CBI. Since then, the Gujarat High Court routinely monitored the progress of the investigation and even pulled up the Central Agency whenever it found it’s pace slackening. As recently as 15 March 2013, the Gujarat High Court bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari monitoring the probe expressed satisfaction about the progress made by CBI in the investigation of Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. It is in fact the High Court which had ordered the CBI to file chargesheets by 4 July 2013.

Does it, therefore, appear that the legal case has not necessarily got anywhere, as Mr. Malik claims?

Also, in order for the CBI’s investigative powers to be abused by the Congress to implicate Mr. Modi, it must be acting through the bench of the Gujarat High Court that is monitoring the CBI. ‘A dangerous logic’ indeed.

I have also been left wondering by Mr. Malik as to why did CBI wait this long to fabricate evidence and plant the same in pliable media to implicate Mr. Modi when they could have done so earlier to prevent him from becoming the Chief Minister for the third time?

Mr. Malik further writes:

Yet, it is not as if those 191 cases — or 400 cases (of fake encounters), depending on which number one fancies — are the subject of public activism or that politicians and police officers from several states are being targeted. The indignation is decidedly selective and limited to one or two cases in Gujarat. Logic is being stretched to suggest the chief minister and home minister fabricated an Intelligence Bureau report, masterminded the kidnapping of four innocent citizens, got them killed and pretended it was all part of defeating an assassination plot.

Again, the insinuation is clear: That the outrage over the Ishrat Jehan fake encounter case isn’t because an innocent 19 year old girl was kidnapped, kept in illegal confinement and then murdered by those who are sworn to protect and uphold the law but because it gives the Congress a an opportunity to hurl accusations at Mr. Narendra Modi.

Leaving aside this ridiculous assumption that all who feel revolted by the idea of an innocent 19 year old girl belonging to a certain community being brutally killed to enhance someone’s political capital are enamoured by the Congress (hence opposed to Mr. Modi), can Mr. Malik explain where else did these fake encounters repeatedly involved elimination of alleged terrorists, belonging to a particular community, attempting to assassinate an all powerful Chief Minister?

Fake encounters and extrajudicial killings have become all too common in insurgency-affected Jammu & Kashmir, the North East or the Maoist affected districts of India. Can Mr. Malik explain as to which insurgency was raging in Gujarat for such repeated fake encounters to occur, not that even in the areas I mentioned it is acceptable by any standards?

I also hope Mr. Malik can explain to us as to why did LeT terrorists suddenly stopped coming after Mr. Modi altogether, once the Central Government changed hands from NDA to UPA and the stink of fake encounters started arising.

I can explain to Mr. Malik in blunt words why these particular fake encounters in Gujarat raises the heckles of many like me. It is because in no other instance, such fake encounters were cynically made an instrument to demonize a certain community and consolidate the political capital of hate which Mr. Modi has accumulated to now stake the claim to be our next Prime Minister. That may be acceptable to you Mr. Malik. It isn’t acceptable to me.

And, isn’t it the appropriate Court that will decide whether Mr. Modi or his deputy Amit Shah was party to the conspiracy? Why is the hurry to acquit them even before the Courts have had an opportunity to look at the evidence?

Mr. Malik is visibly pained that,

An input of a Lashkar-e-Tayyaba assassination squad, comprising Ishrat Jehan and her accomplices, is being sought to be rubbished as made-up. An entire mythology of how the officer in question was close to Mr Modi across several years and several postings in several locations is being planted on whichever media practitioner is willing to play unquestioning stenographer. An officer on the verge of retirement is finding his entire career and reputation tarnished and mocked, without giving him an opportunity to answer.

In his disquiet, Mr. Malik perhaps forgets that the CBI is placing the charges and the evidence before an appropriate court and not exactly summarily sentencing the senior ‘intelligence officer’. Also, isn’t Mr. Malik guilty of the playing the same unquestioning stenographer in accepting at face value the alleged ‘input of a Lashkar-e-Tayyaba assassination squad, comprising Ishrat Jehan and her accomplices’ in spite of no Courts having pronounced Ishrat to be a LeT militant?

Why is Mr. Malik mischievously silent on the fact that during the last hearing, the court refused to accept a CD and put it on record, which allegedly contained clinching evidence that the persons who were killed were terrorists, and directed them to submit it to CBI instead?

To Mr. Malik, the career and reputation of an intelligence officer accused of conspiracy of killing in cold blood an innocent young girl is somehow more important than the quest for truth and justice.

While mocking others of being ‘unquestioning stenographers’, Mr. Malik doesn’t restraint himself from distorting the truth, however. He writes:

The issue goes beyond merely a battle between the CBI and the IB or even the prospects of individual officers. The manner in which a major assassination attempt against a top political leader is sought to be mocked and dismissed — despite the LeT embracing Ishrat Jehan and her accomplices as its “martyrs” in the days following their killing — speaks of an unconscionable irresponsibility.

To Mr. Malik, somehow, the dubious claim of LeT is more reliable (a claim it later retracted) than the fact that the SIT did not find even a shred of evidence of Ishrat Jehan being involved with LeT even remotely. The NIA, similarly, is on record in its submission to the Gujarat High Court that David Hadley did not provided it with any evidence of Ishrat being a LeT terrorist.

What is also of no concern to Mr. Malik is that the disturbing consequences the perception of an innocent young Muslim girl being labeled a terrorist and then brutally murdered by the security apparatus, and then denial of justice, could have in further alienating a community and sowing seeds of seething resentment.

Mr. Malik is confident that, ‘this conflation of bazaar gossip with a rigorous legal process will continue till the 2014 elections, unless the CBI and its current leadership suddenly — and perhaps equally expediently — discover there is no case at all.

Shall we let the appropriate court separate the hard evidence from the alleged bazaar gossip and decide whether a case exists or not, Mr. Malik?

Ignoring credible evidence as bazaar gossip to suit one’s argument can be equally dangerous logic.

The Incredible Dynamics of Narendra Modi’s Airlift from Uttarkhand.

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IAF choppers and C 130J Hercules operating out of Dharasu advanced landing ground.

IAF choppers and C 130J Hercules operating out of Dharasu advanced landing ground.

Let me begin with a confession. I have, personally, done absolutely nothing for the distressed pilgrims or natives of Uttarkhand which was left devastated by nature’s fury just days ago till the moment of writing this post. That I am, at the moment, confined to a wheelchair isn’t the excuse, though. Far more professionally competent personnel, and in numbers that only the government can deploy, particularly from the army, the Indo Tibetan Border Police and the NDRF, are spread out on the ground, working day and night in the rescue & relief operation. The Indian Air Force has deployed the kind of air assets without which the rescue from remote cut-off areas wouldn’t have been possible. In short, this isn’t exactly a scenario to enact a theatre of the absurd.

The relief and rescue mission, it seems, has undergone a dramatic change in its scale and pace with the arrival of Mr. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, in Dehradun on Friday evening, 20 June 2013. I reproduce below, word-for-word excerpts of the report in The Times of India, “Narendra Modi lands in Uttarakhand, flies out with 15,000 Gujaratis,” by one Anand Soondas for TNN.

But above all, he has also managed to bring home some 15,000 stranded Gujarati pilgrims.

The Gujarat CM, who flew in on Friday evening, held a meeting till 1am with his crack rescue team of five IAS, one IPS, one IFS and two GAS (Gujarat Administrative Service) officers. Two DSPs and five police inspectors were also part of his delegation. They sat again with the nitty-gritty of evacuation in a huddle that a senior BJP leader said lasted till 1am on Sunday.

Around 80 Toyota Innovas have been requisitioned to ferry Gujaratis to safer places in Dehradun as have four Boeings. On Saturday, 25 luxury buses transported a bunch of grateful people to Delhi. The efforts are being coordinated by two of the senior-most IAS officers of Gujarat, one currently stationed in Delhi and another in Uttarakhand.

What cannot be dismissed, though, is Modi’s now trademark style of micro-management, something his supporters say is the need of the hour for India. “It’s amazing what he has done here,” said Anil Baluni, a BJP leader. “If someone doesn’t like it, what can we do?’

Modi’s men have not only para-dropped a complete medical team in Hardwar,….

So, the crux of the story is this:

First, with 80 Toyota Innovas, 25 Luxury Buses and 4 Chartered Boeing Aircarfts, Mr. Modi flew or ferried out 15,000 (Gujarati) pilgrims who were stranded in the Uttarkhand natural disaster in less than 2 days.

Second, Modi’s men had also para-dropped a complete medical team in Hardwar.

Last but not the least, Mr. Modi accomplished all that with his crack team of 5 IAS, 1 IPS, 1 IFS and 2 GAS Officers, assisted by 2 DSPs and 5 police inspectors. (I demand a Supreme Court monitored inquiry against our Central Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Anil Chait as to why did he need so many personnel on the ground when we had Mr. Modi?)

As the only airport in Uttarkhand able to land Boeings would be Jolly Grant at Dehradun, I did take a look at official figures at traffic of rescued pilgrims there. These may not be exhaustive but are still indicative:

On 18 June 2013, 208 people were airlifted by helicopters from affected areas and landed at Jolly Grant in Dehradun.

On 20 June 2013, 245 people were airlifted by helicopters from affected areas and landed at Jolly Grant in Dehradun.

On 21 June 2013, 282 people were airlifted by helicopter from affected areas and landed in Jolly Grant in Dehradun.

On 22 June 2013, 190 people were airlifted by helicopter from affected areas and landed in Jolly Grant in Dehradun.

In all, 925 people were airlifted out of affected areas and landed at Jolly Grant. That should give an indication of what can be achieved by nearly 50 helicopters flying sorties throughout the day from areas like Guptkashi, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gaurikund, Gauchar, Harshil etc

When the IAF landed its new C 130J Hercules Spec. Ops aircrafts at Dharasu advanced landing ground yesterday, the first one took off from there with 113 rescued pilgrims straight to Hindon in Delhi.

Is it even believable that Jolly Grant could handle even 5,000 persons in emergency evacuation even if 4 Boeings were available to do so, considering even the widebodied Boeing 787 Dreamliner can only accommodate a maximum of 381 passengers? (Take the flying time between Ahmedabad and Dehradun, landing and turn-around time for each sortie)

Interestingly, India TV reports that only 134 pilgrims were flown to Ahmedabad from Jolly Grant yesterday by a Boeing 737-700 belonging to Jet Airways which was chartered by the Gujarat government.  (The India TV Report)

Again, how many trips can 80 Toyota Innovas make from Dehradun to Delhi from Friday night till yesterday and how many people can this ‘Kafila’ evacuate?

Also, how many people, even if they were packed in like sardines, could 25 luxury buses evacuate from Dehradun to Delhi?

I leave it to the readers to do the math instead of solving crossword puzzles this Sunday afternoon.

I have also, hereby posted the weblink of the Uttarkhand Government on rescue and relief data:

Disaster Relief Operation 2013, Uttarkhand Government 

I have a sneaky feeling that 15,000 pilgrims from Gujarat weren’t even stranded in Uttarkhand to be rescued by Mr. Modi.

But that is not all. Mr. Modi’s men had apparently also ‘para-dropped’ an entire medical team into Haridwar. Why on earth would one do that when Haridwar was accessible by road from Jolly Grant just about 25-30 Kms away is beyond my comprehension. Or is it that Mr. Modi’s men have become qualified parachutists and have also acquired a few Lockheed Martin C 130J Hercules as they can’t depend on the IAF any longer? ( I am wondering whether the medical team that para-dropped in, did so wearing rather airy khaki shorts that came to their knees.)

Given how serious the situation in Uttarkhand is, it’s a wonder why Mr. Modi didn’t do a HALO straight on to Kedarnath himself.

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Vindicating my opinion, The Times of India today countered its own report published yesterday on Narendra Modi’s claim:

Forget Modi, even Rambo can’t save 15,000 pilgrims, experts say

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Two days after this blogpost revealed the fraudulent claims regarding Narendra Modi’s rescue and relief efforts in Uttarkhand, The Telegraph, Kolkata goes on to expose the sheer impossibility of the claims.

In the crosshairs of Rambo’s para-truths – Relief politics in the middle of tragedy 

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Abheek Barman reveals mor of Modi’s miracles in The Times of India.

Modi’s Himalayan Miracle

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Once the claim “Modi rescued 15,000 from Uttarkhand” was brutally deconstructed and the ridicule began to spread, there were attempts to disown the claim, saying Modi never made any such claims, while his PR machinery still tried to give another spin to the controversy.

One of the most ardent Modi fans in the media, Madhu Kishwar takes pains to explain in a long Economic Times article how Modi’s Disaster Management juggernaut rolled into Uttarkhand:

Narendra Modi led rescue efforts in Uttarakhand are not publicity gimmicks

Madhu Kishwar, however, is surprisingly coy on the numbers.

In conclusion, I have this two reports which will pretty much demolish all the lies being sought to be still spread around by Modi’s ardent fans on social media.

First, Anand Soondas, the TOI reporter who announced that Modi had rescued 15,000 and which BJP and Modi’s spokespersons later vehemently denied ever claiming categorically stated that the figures were given by senior BJP officials who he names:

Reporter claims Modi’s ‘15,000’ rescue figure came from BJP itself

This just reconfirms what this blogpost has been consistently saying since 23 June 2013 right after those figures were first triumphantly spread around by Modi’s supporter and then, in a 180○ turn about, vehemently denied.

The other lie that Mr. Modi’s supporters persistently continued claiming was that Mr. Modi magnanimously offered 24 helicopters for rescue to the Uttarkhand government.

Today, Hindustant Times has reported Modi’s Principal Secretary, P.K. Parmar, currently stationed in Dehradun.

Modi’s principal secy denies chopper offer was ever made

There is little left to be said on this whole sordid episode now.

The Price of being a Pakistani in India: The ISI Officer Who Never Was

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Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy at the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court at Guwahat.

Except the Investigating Officer none of the prosecution witnesses have ever stated that the accused persons are the members of any unlawful organization and they are making any conspiracy against the Government of India or they have done any act to create hatred amongst the Muslim and non-Muslim population of the state.” – Smti. C.R. Goswami, Additional Sessions Judge (FTC) No. 4, Kamrup at Guwahati on Fasihullah and his co-accused.
 
On consideration of the testimony of aforesaid 17 numbers of witnesses, as disussed above, I did not find even an iota of material under any of the charges under which the present three accused were facing trial. Witness after witness came and deposed pleading their complete ignorance about any kind of occurrence or activity of the accused. It was indeed difficult for me to comprehend as to why the aforesaid persons were cited as witnesses and through them, what the prosecution actually wanted to prove. The charges leveled against the accused are of extreme serious nature, like criminal conspiracy to wage war against the state and attempt to wage war against the state. If the investigating agency, or for that matter the prosecution, seriously believed the charges to be true, they ought to have collected at least some evidence worth the name.” – Sri M.K. Bhattacharjee, District Sessions Judge, Goalpara on Fasihullah and his co-accused.
 

It was the morning of 29 April 2013. It was my 86th day of detention at the Guwahati Central Jail and I was lying on my bed as usual in the Ward 3 of the Jail Hospital, both legs encased in a plaster cast. I was lost in thought of someone whom I wished all the happiness in life but couldn’t reach out to say so across the gulf that existed between us. It was her birthday.

I was interrupted in my thoughts by the sight of a thin and wiry bearded man with a piercing gaze who I could see through the iron-barred window that opened out to the corridor. The Ward 3 of the Jail Hospital was a large barrack-like room about 20ft wide and 40 ft long on the 1st floor, with the entrance from the corridor somewhat to the middle of the room. My bed was the first one on the left the moment anyone entered the Ward. Anyone who would come had to pass my bed. The thin bearded man wearing a green round-necked Tee and pajamas was engrossed in an animated conversation with Utpal Nath, a convict serving life imprisonment who was also the head nursing orderly who looked after running the hospital. Both of them then entered the Ward, followed by a small entourage, passed my bed, turned right, and proceeded to the extreme end of the room, still lost in conversation. I could understand from what I overheard, and from the gestures, that the man with the neatly trimmed salt-n-pepper beard was moving into the ward and occupying the last bed on the side away from the corridor. Satisfied on seeing that arrangements had already been made, he turned around and was about to leave the Ward.

Just as he reached my bed, I said to him, “Good morning,” and extended my hand. For a moment he was taken aback and stared at me intently. Then, his eyes lit up in a sign of recognition and he broke into a large grin. Grabbing my extended hand and energetically shaking it, he cried out, “How the hell have you landed up here? And what has happened to your legs?” Then he said again, “Wait, I think it is again a long story. Let me first shift in and then, we will exchange stories.” Turning to another handsome tribal gentleman who had accompanied him, he said, “I know this guy. We had met a long time ago.” He then introduced the tribal gentleman to me, who was Moirangthem Joy Singh, the Organisational Secretary of United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the oldest and perhaps the most powerful Meitei insurgent group of Manipur.

I had just met Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy again, after more than 10 years. He had forgotten my name, but he clearly remembered me. And I was as surprised to see him again as he was to see me.

The ISI Party

It was more than a decade ago when I had my first brush with the ‘state’ in a spate of malafide prosecution and spent time in detention in the Guwahati Central Jail (I have either been honourably acquitted by trial court or the cases were quashed) when it was in its earlier location at Machkhowa. I was intrigued to find a group of prisoners, a blind man with a partially disabled hand among them, who were referred to as the ‘ISI Party’ and whom most prisoners were reluctant to mingle with. The ‘ISI’ tag, in India, could ostracize people accused as such even in prisons, I soon learnt. My curiosity, however, got the better of me and I did strike up conversations with a few of them off and on in the prison yard. They were already in detention for more than 2 years at that point of time.

The blind man with a partially disabled hand, whom they called, ‘Qari Sahab’ was perhaps in his 30s then, and claimed to hail from Muzzafar Nagar in UP and lamented that he was in jail charged as a dreaded leader and chief organizer of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in India, a charge he vehemently denied while talking to me. He also claimed that his disability was a result of torture in police custody. To me it appeared rather strange that a harmless looking handicapped man could be such a dreaded terrorist but I heard from other prisoners that they were indeed caught with a huge cache of arms and RDX. I realized that they were the ones who had created a stir in the media when they were arrested along with ISI Officers by the Assam Police in Guwahati in 1999.

‘Qari Sahab’ was always assisted around by a handsome younger man they called Musaffa. He claimed to be from UP too but others in the jail said he was a Pakistani whose real name was Javed.

Another from their group was a bespectacled mousy little Kashmiri man with a beard called Akram Bhai who claimed to hail from Sopore. Akram Bhai too was allegedly a dreaded Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a charge he too vehemently denied to me.

A more jovial fellow was a stout dark bearded man in his late 20s or early 30s who they called Billal Mian. I learnt that he hailed from Bangladesh and had been made co-accused in the case even though he was arrested from his father-in-law’s house in West Bengal about a year later than Qari and his ‘ISI Party’. He was the most forthright among them and admitted to facilitating illegal border crossing between India and Bangladesh for a ‘fee’. He told me that among other cases he stood accused of facilitating border crossing of some of those who were involved in the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999. On being asked whether he really did so, he would ask as to how would he know? After all it was an illicit racket and he never asked, those whom he helped to cross what their business was, he claimed.

Then there was the bearded man in his 30s whom everyone referred to as ‘the Pakistani’. I learnt that they called him Fasihullah. He was allegedly the serving ‘major’ of the dreaded ISI, as told to me by other prisoners, who had infiltrated into Assam to carry out major acts of terrorism. Always neatly dressed in kurta and pajamas, he used to be rather aloof, although he always responded politely whenever I used to strike up a conversation with him. He also had a wry sense of humour and the only one among them who spoke English fluently. Fasihullah hailed from the city of Karachi, he claimed.

Leaving aside the media, even a statement tabled in the Assam Legislative Assembly on 6 April 2000 regarding ISI Activities in Assam portrays a frighteningly sinister picture of the ones I have just named above. Here is a link to the same:

Statement Laid on The Table of The House of Assam Legislative AssemblyUnder Item No. 12 Dated 6.4.2000 Regarding ISI Activities in Assam

The Spy Who Never Was?

Sayed Fasihullah Hussaiy was lodged in Block 3 of the Guwahati Central Jail when we inadvertently came across each other again on 29 April 2013.

As one enters the Guwahati Central Jail’s prison complex, the first building on the right is Block 1 (all blocks are double storied RCC type), a part of which houses the women’s prison and the other part the prison hospital where I was lodged in Ward 3 on the first floor. There are 10 Blocks in all in the approximately 25 acres prison, the blocks laid out almost linearly from West to East.

All prisoners who are in detention in national security, militancy or terrorism related charges are lodged in Block 3. Hence be it Fasihullah, NDFB Chairman Ranjan Daimary or the Maoist leaders and cadres, all occupied Block 3. There is, however, a group of under-trial prisoners (UTPs as they are referred to) who weren’t militants or terrorists but were contractors who had nexus with the notorious Dimasa militant group Dima Halam Daoga or DHD (Jewel Garlosa) faction and were actively involved in extortion and siphoning off of thousands of crores of government development funds in the North Cachar Hills district of Assam. Accused Nos. (12), (13), (14) in the Chargesheet of NIA Case No. RC-01/2009/NIA-DLI and Accused Nos. (2), (13), (14), (15) in the Chargesheet of NIA Case No. RC-02/2009/NIA-DLI. They are among the accused who continues to live in luxury, with other under-trial prisoners as orderlies, and every creature comfort possible to be obtained by bribing prison officials. They are the ones mockingly referred to as the ‘Hazar Kouti Gang’ (The thousand crore Gang) in obvious reference to the NC Hills Scam being worth at least Rs. 1000 crores as claimed in the media. This case of siphoning off huge government funds to fund terrorist activities was the first case that the newly formed National Investigation Agency took up in 2009. These are also the people Fasihullah shared the barrack with in Block 3. These were also the people with whom Fasihullah developed a friction with, due to their repeated attempt to buy influence throwing around money. This was one of the reasons, Fasihullah told me, why he requested the prison authorities to move him out of Block 3.

What brought matters to a head was the lethal attack on Sarabjit Singh in the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore on 26 April 2013. As Sarabjit struggled for his life, the MHA alerted all prisons across India where any Pakistani prisoner was lodged, to take precautionary measures regarding their safety from other inmates. That is why, on 29 April 2013, Fasihullah was shifted into the Ward 3 of the Guwahati Central Jail Hospital. With his arrival, the Ward became a high security barrack with restricted access. Having spent 14 years in several prisons across Assam, Fasihullah had earned the friendship and affection of many, from prison inmates to jail officials. But no risks could be taken to allow a retaliatory attack on him to precipitate, even though that appeared slim as far as Fasihullah was concerned. But when news filtered in of the attack on the Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay in the Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu, security in Ward 3, where Fasihullah and I were lodged, went up a few notch further. There was a constant stream of officials to ‘check’ on the arrangements made. With our mutual stream of visitors to our ward further trimmed down, Fasiullah and I had almost the whole day to chat, debate, exchange our stories. And over the next few weeks, I came to learn of the ISI Official who never was and how he had to fight consecutive legal battles in Indian courts to prove his innocence. Fortunately, the courts never disappointed him, refusing to be swayed by the bias and wild allegations that most of the media resorted to whenever reporting on him or his cases. I devoured Fasihullah’s case papers and copies of his judgments that he generously lent me to read. And, I struggled to understand the plight suffered by many like him, caught in the enmity of two nations conjoined at birth. I shall now recount his intriguing story, and epic enforced exile from home through the cases brought against him, chronologically, and what is on record in the judgments that have acquitted him of all charges except entering India illegally without valid documents.

Panbazar Case No. 321/99 under Sections 121/121(A)/122/153(A) of IPC, read with Section 14 of Foreigners Act 1946, read with Sections 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967.

Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy and his co-accused persons, were first arrested on 7 August 1999 in Guwahati in the Panbazar Case No. 321/99 corresponding to GR Case No. 3403/99 under Sections 121/121 (A)/122/153-A of IPC, read with Section 14 of Foreigners Act 1946, read with Sections 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967.

This is what the police said in the chargesheet, quoted here from court records.

“….on 7.8.99 the then DSP Panbazar Division Mr. D. Deka (Debendra Deka) lodged an FIR at the Panbazar PS alleging that he engaged some police personnel for conducting discreet enquiry as well as for keeping an eye on a group of four persons (whose identities have subsequently being noted below) who were seen moving around in the city in a suspicious manner during the last few days.

The names of these persons are:

  1. Md. Fasihullah Hussainy (I have corrected the spelling here) @ Hamid Mahmood @ Khalid Mahmood.
  1. Md. Javed Wakar @ Md. Musaffa @ Md. Mehraj @ Abdul Rehman Danish.
  1. Moulana Hafiz Md. Akram Mallick @ Musaffa Gyasin @ Atabulla @ Bhaijan.
  1. Qari Salim Ahmed @ Abdul Aziz @ Sadat.

They were seen making telephone calls to certain persons located in different parts of the country and abroad. Their activities were kept under watch for some time and after he was confirmed about their suspicious activities, they were arrested on 7.8.99. During their questioning, it has come to light that these persons have been deputed to Assam and other parts of India by the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for carrying out large-scale disturbances in Assam and other parts of the country.

Two persons, namely Fasihullah and Javed Wakar are Pakistani citizens and are understood to be officers of the ISI. They do not possess any passport or valid travel documents and have entered India illegally.

Moulana Hazif Md. Akram hails from Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir and is an explosive expert of the militant outfit called Harkat-ul-Mujaideen.

Qari Salim is one of the most dreaded leader of the outfit and the chief organizer of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in India.

These persons have also in illegal possession of foreign currency (USD 3892 and Bangladeshi Taka 492)

As already admitted by them, the above persons have been deputed to Assam for getting in touch with certain members of the local unit of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) for carrying out disturbances in the state. They have also stated before the police that the Chief Amir of HuM and officers of the ISI have entered into a conspiracy with the arrested accused persons for causing sabotage activities in public places and vital installations. For this purpose, a large consignment of arms, RDX and other deadly explosives have been dispatched to Assam. These four persons have also been tasked by the ISI to carry out a series of explosions on the Manali-Leh Highway in Jammu & Kashmir to cut off military supplies and thus waging war against the country.

During preliminary interrogation of the arrested persons it appears that a very dangerous scheme has been drawn up by the Pakistani ISI and the fundamentalist terrorist groups of that country, to create massive disturbances in the state, in collusion with certain militant groups of Assam. They are also understood to have hatched a conspiracy to incite communal disturbances in the state by inciting misunderstanding and hatred among the innocent and law abiding Muslim citizen of the state against the non-Muslim population.”

The case went on trial as the Sessions Case No. 248 (K)/2002 in the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge (FTC) No. 4, Kamrup, with the following charges against Fasihullah and his co-accused:

  1. USD and Bangladeshi currency were recovered from accused Fasihullah, Javed Wakar, Qari Salim and Maulana Hafiz and they possessed the same without any valid documents.
  1. The accused persons made conspiracy for causing sabotage activities in public places and vital installations and for this purpose a large consignment of arms, RDX and other deadly explosives have been dispatched to Assam and they have also been tasked by the ISI to carry out a series of explosions on the Manali-Leh Highway in Jammu & Kashmir to cut off military supplies and thus waging war against the country.
  1. The accused persons made a conspiracy to create communal disturbance between Muslims and non-Muslims of Assam.
  1. The accused persons have been deputed by the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for carrying out disturbances in Assam and other parts of the country.
  1. Accused Abdul Mukit Choudhury, Hazi Billaluddin and Bilal Miyan have common intention for commission of these above mentioned offences and accused Abdul Mukit Choudhury and hazi Billaluddin jelped accused Qari Salim to go to Bangladesh in the year 1997.
  1. Accused Billal Miyan is a Bangladeshi national and he entered India without any valid documents.
  1. Accused Fasihullah and javed Wakhar are Pakistani nationals and they entered India without valid documents.

The prosecution summoned 14 witnesses, and listed a horde of exhibits to prove their case. As the trial proceeded and these witnesses were cross-examined, however, the charges brought about by the state began to unravel. I, hereby, selectively quote what the trial court had to say about the charges from a 26 page judgment it gave on 12 June 2008, the verdict pronounced by Smti. C.R. Goswami, Additional Sessions Judge (FTC) No. 4, Kamrup, at Guwahati.

“38. Regarding allegation Nos. (1), (2), (3) and (4) that the accused persons made conspiracy for causing sabotage activities in public places and for that purpose a large consignment of arms, RDX and other deadly explosives have been dispatched to Assam and they have also been tasked by the ISI to carry out a series of explosions on the Manali-Leh Highway in Jammu & Kashmir to cut off military supplies and thus waging war against the country and made conspiracy to create communal disturbance between Muslims and non-Muslims, the I/O (Investigating Officer who happened to be DSP Debendra Deka) has stated that after interrogation of the accused persons he came to know that the accused persons were members of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen is an organization under ISI and their aim is to get freedom to Kashmir. Accused Salim is the ‘Amir’ of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and he made entry of Indians in Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and thereafter they were sent to Pakistan through the Bangladesh border and trained under ISI. Thereafter they were returned to India and engaged them in illegal activities. On 14.8.99, accused Salim admitted before him that he kept some explosive substances in the house of Abdul Jabbar of village Rajsahi of Bangladesh. As per direction of the Superintendent of Police, Salim called Abdul Zabbar in telephone from Special Branch Head Quarter. Salim asked Abdul Zabber to send those explosive substances to India. Accordingly, he directed the police in Siliguri to apprehend the person along with the explosive substances. Police of Siliguri seized the articles but failed to apprehend the accused. Then on permission of the court, he seized samples of explosive substances from Bhaktinagar PS. In his cross-examination he admitted that ‘Amir’ is an Urdu word and he did not know the actual meaning of it. He did not record the statement of accused Salim u/s 164 CrPC. Previously there was no record in their police station alleging that he carried explosive devices to India from Pakistan by the Indian making them the members of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. He admitted that he had not made any General Diary Entry (GDE) regarding taking of accused Qari Salim to Special Branch HQ. To show Abdul Zabbar of Bangladesh is the owner of telephoneNo. 0721 760562 and to show that the telephone No. 561484 is of IGP, Special Branch, he has not collected any material. He has admitted that he did not inform the Government of India or Border Security regarding entry of explosive substances to India from Bangladesh. He informed D.K. Kundu, DSP (CID) Siliguri by telephone. But regarding this telephonic message, he has not made any GDE and he has not mentioned the telephone No. in the record. He has further admitted that in Exhibit-6 it is not mentioned that the articles were seized on the basis of his information. In Exhibit-6, it is mentioned that the seized articles were unclaimed articles. He has admitted that he seized the articles from SI D.N. Barman at Bhaktinagar PS. He does not know wherefrom Bhaktinagar police seized those articles. Relating to seizure of those articles, no police station case was registered. Bhaktinagar PS GDE No. 508 was made and in that GDE these accused persons were not shown as accused. He has further admitted that the seized articles were not examined by any expert. He has also admitted that he had not obtained any permission from any court to keep the seized articles in the malkhana and those seized articles were not seen in the court.”

“39. In support of seizure of Bhaktinagar PS, prosecution has examined Prosecution Witness (PW) No. 5 Sri Sukumal Choudhury, PW 10 Sri Satish Ch. Kundu and PW 13 Sri Sadhan Kr. Bhowmik.

PW 5 has stated that on 19.2.2000 he along with DSP Panbazar Divison Sri Debendra Chandra Deka went to Bhaktinagar PS. Sri Deka seized some sample of explosive substances from ASI Sri B.N. Barman. Sri Deka also seized some certified copies of documents from Inspector Sri M.C. Gope, which is Exhibit-7.

PW 10 has stated that on 19.2.2000 he was working as SI of police at Bhaktinagar PS. On that day I/O of this case seized samples of some material from ASI Sri B.N. Barman which were kept in malkhana in connection with Bhaktinagar PS GDE No. 508 dated 15.9.99. In his cross-examination he stated that he cannot say whether those materials were RDX or not. He has no knowledge about RDX. Those materials were not sent to an expert. He could not say on what condition those were kept in the malkhana.

PW 13 has stated that on 18.2.2000 he was posted at Islampur V.V. under CID, West Bengal. On that day I/O of this case Sri. Deka seized some documents from their office. In cross-examination he has stated that the seized articles were lying at Bhaktinagar PS as unclaimed. He has no knowledge regarding those unclaimed articles.”

“40. From evidence of PW 5, PW 10, PW 13 and PW 14, it cannot be connected that the materials which were kept at Bhaktinagar PS in connection with Bhaktinagar PS GDE No. 508 are explosive substances, that those were sent by Abdul Zabber of Bangladesh as per direction of accused Qari Salim, and that the accused persons have any relation with those articles.”

“41. Regarding the other allegations such as the accused persons are members of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the accused persons sent some youths to Pakistan for training, the accused persons made conspiracy for waging war against India and to create communal disturbances between Muslims and non-Muslims of Assam, the accused persons are deputed by ISI etc, no of the prosecution witnesses have made a single whisper supporting the statement of the I/O.”

To cut a long story short, the prosecution failed to prove every single charge against the accused except illegal entry of two foreign nationals, Fasihullah and Billal Mian, into India without valid documents, that too, because both the accused accepted those charges upfront.

On 12 June 2008, almost 9 years after being arrested, Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy was convicted under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act 1946 and sentenced to undergo 5 yrs of rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 1000.00 only. On the day of the judgment, Fasihullah had long served out his sentence as it was to be set off against his detention as an under-trial under Section 428 CrPC.

He was, like the other accused in the case, acquitted from the other charges and to be set at liberty.

But this wasn’t the only case against Fasihullah where judgment was pronounced that day.

Special Operations Unit (SOU) Case No. 01/99 under Sections 120(B)/121/121 (A)/122/124/153(A)/34 of IPC

Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy was also made an accused (along with Javed Wakar, Maulana Hafiz Akram and Qari Salim) in the SOU Case No. 01/99 corresponding to GR Case No. 3719/99 under Sections 120(B)/121/121 (A)/122/124/153(A)/34 of IPC.

The case, as claimed in the chargesheet arose as a result of arrest of some accused in connection with the Dudhnoi PS case No. 67/99 and Fasihullah was shown-arrested in the case registered in the Special Operations Unit PS of the Assam Police.

The charges were almost identical to those of the Panbazar PS Case which I have extensively dwelt on above. The case went on trial as the Sessions case No. 222(K)/04 in the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge (FTC) No. 4, Kamrup and 19 prosecution witnesses were examined during the trial.

On 12 June 2008, Smti. C.R. Goswami, Additional Sessions Judge (FTC) No. 4, Kamrup pronounced her judgment along with that of the above case. I quote below the most relevant portions of the 25 page judgment.

“30. …..Except the I/O none of the prosecution witnesses have ever stated that the accused persons are the members of any unlawful organization and they are making any conspiracy against the Government of India or they have done any act to create hatred amongst the Muslim and non-Muslim population of the state.

…..Though in the FIR it is stated that the Muslim youths were sent to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh or other countries for arms and explosive training, but the prosecution has failed to adduce either the documentary evidence or any oral evidence to show that any of the accused or any other persons was sent to any other country for any training.

…..Further, in this case, accused Fasihullah, Qari Salim, Maulana Hafiz Akram and Javed Wakar were shown-arrested. But for the same offences they were already arrested in connection with the Panbazar PS Case No. 321/99 and they were tried in the said case. For the same offence a person cannot be prosecuted twice. Further, none of the seized materials of this case are produced by the prosecution before the court.”

“33. In view of the above discussion, I hold that the prosecution has failed to prove any of the allegations leveled against the accused persons beyond all reasonable doubt.”

“34. Hence, the accused persons are acquitted and set at liberty.”

Interestingly, accused Javad Wakar, who was claimed to be a Pakistani in Panbazar Case No. 321/99 was claimed to be an Indian in this one.

In Guwahati, there was another case in which Fasihullah was made an accused in and shown-arrested. This was the Paltanbazar PS Case No. 284/99 corresponding to GR Case No. 3361/99 under Sections 121(A)/123/147/148/307/353 IPC, read with Section 25(1)A/27 of the Arms Act, read with Sections 10/13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1968. This case, however, never went to trial and was inexplicably closed vide FR No. 398/2000 and the same was accepted by the Chief Jusdicial Magistrate, Kamrup.

But this wasn’t all. Fasihullah and Javed Wakar were also made co-accused and shown-arrested in the Dudhnoi PS Case No. 67/99 in the district of Goalpara Assam.

Dudhnoi PS case No 67/99 under Sections 120(B)/121/121(A)/122/153A of IPC.

Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy (along with Javed Wakar and another accused), was made co-accused and shown-arrested, in the Dudhnoi PS Case No. 67/99 corresponding to GR Case No. 503/99 under Sections 120(B)/121/121(A)/122/153(A) of IPC allegedly on the confession of an accused, one Muslim Uddin, arrested in the Dhubri PS Case No. 208/99.

The charges against them were almost identical to those in the cases registered against them in Guwahati, of waging war against India, conspiring to create communal unrest etc.

This case went on trial as the Sessions case No. 72/2006 in the Court of the Sessions Judge, Goalpara. In all, 18 prosecution witnesses were examined during the trial. Delivering a 29 page judgment on 12 August 2010, Shri M.K. Bhattacharjee, District Sessions Judge, Goalpara was scathing in his criticism of the prosecution. I reproduce below, select portions of that judgment.

“25. On consideration of the testimony of aforesaid 17 numbers of witnesses, as disussed above, I did not find even an iota of material under any of the charges under which the present three accused were facing trial. Witness after witness came and deposed pleading their complete ignorance about any kind of occurrence or activity of the accused. It was indeed difficult for me to comprehend as to why the aforesaid persons were cited as witnesses and through them, what the prosecution actually wanted to prove. The charges leveled against the accused are of extreme serious nature, like criminal conspiracy to wage war against the state and attempt to wage war against the state. If the investigating agency, or for that matter the prosecution, seriously believed the charges to be true, they ought to have collected at least some evidence worth the name.”

“31. It was clear from the testimony of the I/O that the search and seizure was made in the house of accused Muslim Ali on 25.08.99, on the basis of input received from Special Branch. The documents seized (Material Exhibit 61 & 62) admittedly contained some names, phone numbers and writings. But there was absolutely nothing on record to indicate that follow up action was taken or for that matter any investigation was done to find out the persons named in Material Exhibit 61. The seizure appeared to be made as a ritual…..”

“33…….For the sake of convenience let me reproduce the following part of the cross examination of the I/O (PW 18): I did not make any personal effort to collect the antecedents of the accused. I did not make any enquiry to find out the antecedents of accused Fasihullah. I have no explanation as to why I had not tried to find out the antecedents of accused Fasihullah. I did not know that there was a case against accused Fasihullah that there was a case against accused Fasihullah for violation of Passport Act and Rules. I did not make any effort to find out whether accused Fasihullah is a member of Harkat-ul-Ansar. I have never made any communication with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.”

“37……There appeared absolutely no evidence in this case that accused Fasihullah Hussainy was moving from one place to another with any other accused of this case, far less to speak of recovery of any arms and ammunition etc either from his custody or from the custody of any other accused. There was absolutely no proof of any overt act being committed by any of the accused who are facing trial.”

“42. In view of the above, I am constrained to hold that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any case under Sections 120(B), 121, 121(A), 122 and 153(A) of IPC against the accused facing trial, far less to speak of proving the case beyond reasonable doubt. Accordingly, accused Md. Abdul Baten Khan, Fasihullah Hussainy and Javed Wakar @ Md. Musaffa are acquitted and set at liberty. Accused in custody shall be released if not wanted in any other case.”

As there were no more cases pending against Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy, an order for his release and deportation through appropriate authority was issued along with the judgment acquitting him of all charges.

Rather than complying with the order, the Government of Assam invoked the National Security Act the same day vide Detention Order No. GC. 25/2010/2 to prevent Fasihullah from being released and deported.

Thereafter, Fasihullah was again made co-accused in two more cases, Goalpara PS Case No. 511/10 and Latasil PS Case No. 134/10, both registered on 30.07.2010 and shown-arrested in both.

The Goalpara PS case No. 511/10 was registered on the basis of a FIR dated 30.07.2010 received from Sri. Bibal Ch Das Bedi O/C E/12 CRPF Goalpara informing the SHO, Goalpara PS that 5 CRPF personnel were killed and 40 were severely injured when an IED blast badly damaged their bus (Registration No. AS 01 Y 2408) while returning from the Rangagarh Firing Range. The incident was reported to have occurred near Nirmala Hospital at Bhalukduba, Salbari at about 7:50 am.

The Latasil PS Case No. 134/10 was registered on the basis of a FIR lodged by Deputy Commandant, Border Security Force at Guwahati that hardcore NDFB cadres of the Ranjan Daimary faction had entered Guwahati with the intention of carrying out attacks in the city on the eve of Independence Day celebrations. In an operation carried out on the basis of this, the Central Publicity Secretary of the NDFB (Ranjan) was apprehended along with 2 women cadres.

Thus, if the Assam Police is to be believed, Sayeed Fasihullah Hussainy, who was in jail continuously for 11 years since 1999, had somehow not only exploded an IED killing 5 and injuring 40 CRPF personnel in Goalpara, but also had somehow planned with the NDFB to carry our strikes in Guwahati, all sitting in jail.

The intention was obvious, to prolong Fasihullah’s detention even further with ludicrous charges. He, however, moved the Honourable Gauhati High Court to have both these charges against him quashed.

Meanwhile, the Government of Assam, had appealed in the Honourable Gauhati High Court against Fasihullah’s acquittal in the Sessions Case No. 222(K)/2002 and Sessions Case No. 248(K)/2004.

It was while awaiting verdict in these from the Gauhati High Court that fate made us cross each other’s paths again.

In the 20 days Fasihullah and I spent together in the Ward 3 of the Guwahati Central Jail Hospital, we not only debated or swapped stories, but also shared every meal. The best years of his youth have been spent fighting charges that invites death sentences as punishment. The least I could do when he turned 44 on 7 May, 2013 was to have a special treat prepared for him.

I told him many times that if he had come to harm my nation, I would have had him vigorously prosecuted, but at the same time, I would have accorded him every dignity and right the Constitution and our laws ensures such an accused. At the same time, I wouldn’t abuse the laws to prosecute and harass an innocent just because he happens to be a Pakistani. And, if anyone intended harming him there in our Ward in retaliation to the attack on Sarabjit, he would find me barring the way of any such attackers in everyway I could, even having to fight physically with my shattered legs. But I wouldn’t have been the only one who would have stood up for him. Having spent 14 years in several jails in Assam, Fasihullah could now speak Assamese beautifully, with a lilting accent. And in this period, he has also earned the respect and affection of many.

On the evening of 17 May 2013, news arrived that my release orders have come. As I was about to leave, we held each other in a tight hug, and Fasihullah, in a chocked voice whispered to me, “Go in peace my friend. Go and find your tigress. I will come some day to see your house full of children. Allah aap ko salamat rakkhe.” I couldn’t speak. There was a lump in my throat that wouldn’t just go away. I left moist eyed, vowing to myself that I will do everything in my means to see that this man gets home to Karachi. After all, 14 years is a long time to be away from home, away from his loved ones.

As I reached the Jail Office to conclude the formalities for my release, being carried on a stretcher, I learnt that the Guwahati High Court had, that afternoon, quashed both the new cases against Fasihullah and rejected both the appeals against acquittal that the Government of Assam had filed, upholding the verdict of the trial court. The orders had not yet reached the jail authorities, but the news had certainly arrived. I was elated.

Today, it is one month to the day that all the cases against Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy stands disposed, pronounced not guilty of any of the charges of being an ISI Officer, a member of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a member of Harkat-ul-Ansar or of waging war against India. Yet, he is still waiting to be sent back home to Karachi.

When I bid him farewell, I came away with a vow to relentlessly fight for a world where his unborn children and mine could live in peace, without the shadow of mutual suspicion and enmity destroying their futures. This is the first step towards that effort.

Summary of cases against Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy and verdicts (pdf)

_________________________________________________

On 6 November 2013, Sayed Fasihullah Hussainy was finally repatriated to Pakistan via the Wagah border. I could locate and contact his family in Karachi thanks to the intervention of a generous friend, eminent human rights activist and former federal minister of Pakistan, Ansar Burney.

After he had reached home, Fasihullah called me to express his gratitude. He was reunited with his family even though his father is no more.

How I became a “Most Wanted RAW Agent” !! – II

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Crossing a dilapidated bridge on foot with my security detail in a severely conflict affected area in Chirang district, Western Assam.

Crossing a dilapidated bridge on foot with my security detail in a severely conflict affected area in Chirang district, Western Assam.

I have, in “How I became a Most Wanted RAW Agent” – I, already explained how in the feverish imagination of a bunch of Assam Police officers and the media, I became a RAW agent with almost supernatural powers of being able to change form from my father to myself while jumping off a building.

Here, I shall explain how my family and I possess such supernatural powers to be omnipresent in cities thousands of kilometers apart or be able to live in hotels without leaving a trace in the guest registers or sign a single bill during our stays.

In order to do so, I produce below the FIR, word-for-word, of the case for which ASI Arun Baruah, the ‘Investigating Officer’ (IO) in this case from the Dispur PS, had gone on the night of 02 February 2013 to arrest the accused Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta but happened to arrest, for some inexplicable reason, his son instead, who happens to be yours truly.

Dispur P.S. Case No: 2432/2012 u/s 420/406/511 of IPC registered on 08/11/2012

To

The Officer-in-Charge

Dispur Police Station

Dispur, Guwahati

Sir,

I beg to inform you that Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta, resident of Rajabari, PS: Lichubari, Jorhat (Phone Nos: 092070 88850 and 092070 88852), along with his family, checked into our Hotel Nivedan, situated at Dispur Super Market on 18/02/2012 into room no 211 and lived there till 16/10/2012 when they left leaving the room locked and has not returned till today. Their total bill has come up to Rs. 5,48,275/- and they have paid an amount of Rs. 1,96,000.00 till 12.10.2012. They have not given us any information till today. We have come to know from our own inquiries that they are staying in a rented house in Rukminigaon. Whenever we have gone to there to ask for payments or to have the room vacated, they have been delaying it on one pretext or the other. We believe that they are trying to cheat us out of the due payments.

Therefore it is our humble prayer to you, kind Sir, to recover from them our due payments and have the room vacated.

Yours faithfully,

Anwar Hussain

Manager

Hotel Nivedan

The above FIR is dated 8/11/2012 and a case was registered on its basis the same day.

Thus, if the Assam Police is to be believed, as per the above FIR, a family lives in a hotel for 9 months and then one fine day disappears without a trace and the hotel’s management/proprietors waits for almost a month before informing the police?

That is besides the obvious question of why on earth would my family live in a hotel for 9 months, of all places, in Guwahati? And that too in one room?

Even more surprisingly, the family doesn’t leave behind even the slightest trace of their presence in their 9 months long stay. Let me explain. To the best of my knowledge, any guest, while checking into a hotel has to offer his/her valid IDs and sign the Guest Register. Barring minors, usually all members of the family who has checked in has to provide IDs. And there will also be inevitable bills signed during the stay, apart from CC TV footage of their presence. This Guest Register, in Guwahati, is mandatorily taken to the local police station every evening, thus giving the police information of guests residing in the hotel on any given day.

That is why, the complainant, could not even name any family members of Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta in the FIR, let alone offer any evidence of their stay there.

But that may be possible for families with supernatural powers. Let me explain.

In the FIRs of two other cases registered against me in the Dispur PS, and for which I was arrested, my crimes (or that of my family) were that of actually living in two other places in almost those same months.

These competing claims are as below:

Dispur PS Case No. 2432/2012 u/s 420/406/511 of IPC registered on 8 November 2012, claims Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta’s family lived in Hotel Nivedan from February-October 2012. Assuming that he is the same Dulal Chandra Dutta as my father, and that I have been arrested by the Dispur PS for this, I too have been living here.

Dispur PS Case No. 2770/2012 u/s 406/420 of IPC registered on 27 December 2012, claims that my family and I have been residing in Cottage #3, Housing Colony, Rukmininagar, Basistha Road, Guwahati – 781006 since 29 August 2012.

Dispur PS Case No. 233/2013 u/s 420/406 of IPC registered on 3 February 2013, on the other hand, claims that my family and I have been residing in yet another address since July 2012.

Last but not the least, I have been variously accused as not paying house rents or cabs I used in Delhi since March 2012 for months, by a very charming young lady in twitter whom I happen to know well (and whom I still hold no grudges against). I would consider her accusations as the most reliable evidence of my absence in Guwahati for a certain period of months. How could I be living for that very period in a hotel in Guwahati if I had been living in Delhi with her?

This just brings to my mind this dialogue, “Don ko pakadna mushkil nahi namumkin hai,” in a slightly modified form. Here “Don ko pakadna munkin tou hua, par woh kahan rehta tha janna namunkin hai.”

My family must have put Harry Potter to shame with its supernatural abilities.

My sister Smita with Raghu Rai and Commissioner, Upper Assam Division while crossing to Majuli at the height of floods in end of June 2012. I was naturally accompanying them on the trip.

My sister Smita with Raghu Rai and Commissioner, Upper Assam Division while crossing to Majuli at the height of floods in end of June 2012. I was naturally accompanying them on the trip.

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Raghu Rai and I on the Brahmaputra on our crossing from Majuli to Nimatighat in Jorhat in July 2012.

Truth is, I flew back to Assam from Delhi in the last days of June 2012 on ‘official’ work, but not to Guwahati. (Even the boarding passes of every flight taken is anyway meticulously filed away and I can retrieve those whenever I need to, to prove a point). I was in upper Assam (Eastern Assam) for nearly a month when ethnic violence engulfed the BTAD districts of Kokrajhar and Chirang in 3rd week of July 2012 in Western Assam, making me rush to the disturbed area soon, thereafter. Over the next 4-5 months, I spent a greater part of my time in Kokrajhar, Chirang and parts of Dhurbri, only occasionally returning to Guwahati or to Delhi. Even on the few days I managed to spend in Guwahati, I rarely had time to even go home. Where I was on any given day can not only be revealed by CDR of my mobile phones, but also debit/credit card usage, record of meetings with senior government officials, official commands assigning me adequate armed police personnel for my security cover in the districts and many more indisputable evidence.

Preparing to speak to a BBC team on the ethnic violence while camping at Bongaigaon, early September 2012. The one kneeling is Udit Kulshrestha.  (@uditkulshrestha in twitter)

Preparing to speak to a BBC team on the ethnic violence while camping at Bongaigaon, early September 2012. The one kneeling is Udit Kulshrestha. (@uditkulshrestha in twitter)

Apart from the above, teams from national and international media organisations, current MPs and national leaders from several national political parties actually found me on the ground in the violence-affected districts along with several members of my family, including my father Dulal Chandra Dutta there.

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Addressing the foreign media on the ethnic violence in Assam at The Foreign Corespondents’ Club, New Delhi on 13 September, 2012. To my right is former Union Home Secretary Mr. G.K. Pillai and to left is Sanjoy Majumder of BBC who moderated the event.

And there are hundreds of hours of video footage and thousands of photographs to substantiate that.

But this is not all.

On the evening of 8 November 2012 (the day the case was registered), at about 4:30 pm, ASI Arun Baruah, along with a few armed police personnel from the Dispur PS had come to my bungalow in Guwahati, (Cottage #3, Housing Colony, Rukmininagar) that had been leased recently to set up my control room in Guwahati from which to administer and coordinate our ongoing relief operations and investigations into and documentation of the violence in Kokrajhar and Chirang. He informed me (falsely) that I had been named as an accused in the case I have mentioned here and that I will have to now go with him to the Dispur PS. When I demanded to see the FIR, he was evasive. A little more probing revealed that in fact it was my father who was actually named in the FIR. When I confronted him as to why would I need to go to the PS when I had nothing to do with the matter, he left in disappointment, but not before dropping hints that this will have consequences.

When I called up home and informed my father about the matter, he was incensed and went to the Dispur PS voluntarily a couple of hours later to find out why would he be named in a FIR. Significantly, even though he was the accused named in the FIR, that he couldn’t be detained or arrested should be indicative of the authenticity of the complaint.

Why was Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta, the named accused in the FIR not arrested? I have enough reasons to believe that it was not only because there wasn’t a shred of evidence to do so, but also because it was I who was actually sought to be implicated. And there is a lot more to this than I am revealing here. These are being placed before the appropriate court of law and it is inevitable that justice shall be done.

What must not be overlooked is that the case was registered just a day before the killings in Kokrajhar and Chirang resumed on 10 November 2012, something which I have been, on record, warning about. I had already become a disturbing presence to many who didn’t want lakhs of those dispossessed by violence to return to their homes and I have been a persistent obstacle to their designs.

I had to be somehow deterred from intervening in the unfolding events in the BTAD districts, even if it meant arresting me in a case, where I wasn’t even named as an accused and on charges of not paying the bills in a hotel I never set foot in. A couple of months after this case was registered, that is exactly what happened.

There are just four more things I would like to point out:

First, I couldn’t have been a fugitive from justice, as claimed by the police or the media if the Assam Police itself assigned me armed personnel for my security cover, and when I was in touch with the senior-most officials entrusted with the law & order situation in the state.

Second, the FIR even in this case doesn’t mention anywhere about anyone claiming to be a RAW Agent. In fact, this FIR doesn’t even name me. Why did the media play this up again and again?

Third, the FIR also doesn’t make any accusations of any bounced cheques, unlike claims made in the media.

Fourth, I would humbly request anyone who claims these allegations to be true to try and stay in a Guwahati hotel, without providing his/her valid IDs, without signing the Hotel Guest Register, without paying the hotel in advance, let alone running up a credit of several lakhs over a few months.

In the matter of accusations made by the Assam Police regarding non-payment of any bills of Hotel Nivedan, thus, I rest my case.

But there are more revelations to be made.

(To be continued)

How I became a “Most Wanted RAW Agent” !! – I

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This picture will have to suffice till I get one more convincing of being a mythical raw agent.

This picture will have to suffice till I get one more convincing of being a mythical raw agent.

If the Assam Police and a section of the media is to be believed, on 2 February 2013, the Guwahati City Police had arrested a ‘most wanted fraudster’ who had apparently, among other allegations, posed as a RAW agent, defrauded people of lakhs of rupees and was in the habit of disappearing without paying hotel bills.

Most Wanted Fraudster Arrested in Guwahati,” screamed The Times of India headline.

Top columnist, top fraud? The curious case of Nilim Dutta,” asked Firstpost.India.

Did leading media outlets like BBC, Australian TV, NDTV, Indian Express and Tehelka fall for a fraudster variously posing as political analyst and strategic expert on Assam?” asked Rediff.com

Dutta would have managed to escape had he not hurt himself in both his legs while jumping out of the first-floor balcony when the police raided the flat which he had taken on rent,” reported The Indian Express.

I have been told, that “Nilim Dutta” trended for 4 days on twitter.

But is the truth what the police or media claimed to be?

What happened on the night of 2 February 2013?

It was a little before 9 pm on a Saturday, 2nd February 2013. I was in a first floor flat in an apartment block in Six Mile in Guwahati. It was newly built and I had arrived there in the afternoon to oversee the 3 bedroom flat being comfortably furnished. In the past few months, many associates & colleagues, not based in Guwahati, had travelled in an out of the city on assignments in connection with the ethnic conflict in Kokrajhar and Chirang and it became essential to put up a ‘transit camp’ for them in the city where we could also meet and confer on the agenda at hand. The flat had just been taken a few days earlier on lease and was being readied to accommodate them whenever they were in Guwahati, which was quite frequently then.

My mother and sisters arrived there later in the evening to assist me with readying the flat, particularly in setting up the kitchen. As it appeared we shall be late getting back home, we ordered food and decided to have dinner there. Meanwhile, I had been tweeting and working in one of the bedrooms when a little before 9 pm the doorbell rang. I believe my mother opened the door.

What I heard was a loud altercation followed by a scream from my mother. Alarmed, I stepped out into the corridor leading to the hall just in time to see  a bunch of policemen rushing in and ASI Arun Baruah (who had met me once earlier) physically assaulting my mother. As she fell down on the floor from the force of the policeman’s blow, bleeding from her mouth, my sisters too rushed to her side. Naturally, I was incensed and physically tried pushing out the policemen from the flat. This led to a brief but vicious scuffle and ASI Arun Baruah and another policeman (I later found out his identity in the PS) pushed me off from the first floor landing, just outside the entrance to the flat, down on to the concrete floored basement car parking. ASI Arun Baruah shouted, “Let the ******* die. We can claim he tried to escape and killed himself in the fall.” I did hang on for a few moments, not letting go of the policemen as I had grabbed them too, but unable to get a foothold as I dangled there and and as my grip was prised away, I plummeted down, landing in the basement below bare feet and with my heels hitting the concrete first. Both my heel bones (I thought ankles when I tweeted) were instantly shattered and I perhaps passed out for a minute or so. When I regained consciousness, I found kicks and blows, including from a wooden stick, raining on me and that I couldn’t stand due to excruciating pain in my legs. I tried to protect my head by trying to ward off the blows as best as I could with my bare hands. The effort did help but left me with a fractured ring finger of my right hand. This is when my mother and sisters physically tried to prevent the policemen from assaulting me. Arun Baruah was shouting and threatening, “I will shoot you all,” to which my mother shouted back, “I dare you to.” The shouts and commotion of the continuing scuffle also brought on our neighbours to the scene. The gathered crowd was incensed seeing the policemen assaulting a badly injured man lying on the ground and three women who were trying to prevent them from doing so. There wasn’t a single policewoman who had accompanied them. As the crowd surrounded the policemen and angrily intervened, the policemen backed off momentarily and Arun Baruah frantically rang the Officer-in-Charge of Dispur Police Station to send reinforcements, including women police constables. It was only then, after about 15 minutes, that Officer-in-Charge of the Dispur PS arrived with women constables and reinforcements.

The moment the policewomen arrived, they straight away rushed to assault my mother and sisters again, while a couple of policemen tried to drag me, grabbing my hands, to one of their vehicles, cursing that I was feigning injury. As the gathered crowd of neighbours once again stepped in angrily, the police desisted from any further assault and tried to take me to the Dispur PS, this time lifting and carrying, me as they should an injured man who couldn’t walk, to one of their waiting patrol vehicles. My sisters refused to let them take me alone and voluntarily accompanied me to the Dispur PS.

As I was being driven out from the apartment block in a police “Sumo”, I took my tab from my sister, Smita, and tweeted my last tweets of 2 February 2013, making public the assault and my impending arrest.

When we reached the Dispur PS, we saw that there was already a crowd of media persons and TV crew from the local channels. This makes it evident that my arrest was a planned affair and the media blitz was a part of the design against me. While the media persons were being enthusiastically briefed on my sins and how prized a catch I was, the scene inside the PS was one of utter bedlam as I berated them and questioned their unlawful action. This resulted in further assaults on us and another scuffle inside the PS ensued, which abruptly ended with the arrival of SSP Anand Prakash Tiwari in a hideously purple shirt and chocolate brown trousers. My sister, Smita, angrily confronted him and demanded to know how could such illicit acts of brutality be unleashed? Trying to calm her down several times and failing, he escaped to the DSP’s chamber and soon made a couple of constables to carry me and sit me down on the sofa there, where another senior city police official was present with SSP Tiwari. In fact, he happened to be an old acquaintance and one who was instrumental in another spate of malafide prosecution against me a decade ago. I taunted him asking what happened to those cases and why the courts chose to either acquit me in a speedy trial or quash those. Refusing to get into an altercation with me, SSP Tiwari asked the Officier-in-Charge of Dispur PS to immediately take me to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) for treatment. That was the last I saw of him in person. Even though there were many triumphant claims that SSP Tiwari had allegedly made to the media, in the footage from Prime News I only saw him saying that were allegations but it was too early to say anything. I was a celebrity of sorts by the time I reached Guwahati Central Jail next evening.

If the trauma and rage made me oblivious to my injuries and the excruciating pain initially, by the time I reached GMCH at about midnight, my condition deteriorated and I started nauseating. I was put on an IV drip and then taken for X-Rays and CT Scans of the many injuries I had sustained from the fall and assault. Both my legs were then encased in a plaster cast to just below the knees. My sisters, who too were brought to GMCH were already taken back to the PS. At about 4 am on the morning of 3 February 2013, the police surprisingly took me back to the PS with all my medical records even though I wasn’t even in a state to sit up. There at the PS, I was laid down on a bench. My sister Smita sat down cushioning my head on her lap, while Janaki did the same for my plaster-encased legs. I fell asleep under the effect of painkillers and sedatives for about a couple of hours perhaps.

As the morning of 3 February 2013 stirred to life, the next episode of the drama began with the arrival of ASI Arun Baruah at about 9 am. He imperiously declared that there will be a ‘flood’ of cases. I was promised at least three-dozen cases and that it would be years before I will be able to get out. He also gloated that the entire ‘world’ is now condemning me, having come to know my dark deeds, which he dared to expose before the media and arrest me for. We still didn’t know exactly what we have been detained and were now going to be arrested for, although I began to have inkling about it. There was a stream of senior police officials who came to ‘take a look’ at their ‘prized catch’. A few indulged us in polite chit-chat, while a few others, whom I have personally known, were visibly embarrassed and said they found this whole thing inexplicable. They were the ones who informed us that our ‘friends’ across the country have kept the phone lines buzzing demanding to know what has happened.

Then there were clueless reporters who swallowed all the lies Arun Baruah and a few others at the PS were dishing out. None of them bothered to check the FIRs or ask the police any searching questions. The only question most of them asked me was whether I really was a RAW official and if not, why did I claim to be one. I wasn’t aware till then that none of the FIRs had even a word of such accusations against me but then this was so stupid an allegation that after a while I refused to take it with any seriousness. Replying from the bench I had been lying on, I told a young lady reporter who had asked me the same question that I was a victim of conspiracy and turf war and that this was done to malign me and prevent me from becoming the Secretary, RAW in future. She nodded solemnly with wide-eyed wonder and furiously scribbled in her note pad. Such a farce indeed was the state of things on the Sunday morning of 3 February, 2013.

At about 11 am, however, all reporters and hangers on were abruptly shooed away from the room as a dignified, neatly dressed middle-aged gentleman entered the room. He had an air of unmistakable authority and the policemen in the room scrambled to their feet, some throwing up a hurried salute. He glanced at me for a few moments, before sitting down in a chair with his back towards me and asked for the FIRs/case diaries of the cases that have been registered against me. He quickly read through a slim sheaf of papers and asked Arun Baruah, “But I was told he has claimed himself to be a RAW official? Where is that case?” Arun Baruah replied that he has heard that it is all over  the internet and that I have a website where I have even put in my designation as ‘Director of RAW’. On being asked for any printouts etc of the said website, Arun Baruah pointed to me and said that he was about to begin his interrogation to obtain all information about it. The gentleman then turned his chair towards me and asked me how I had sustained my injuries and whether I had tried to escape jumping off from a building. I replied in the negative and said it was Arun Baruah and another who pushed me off. This was met with a howl of protest and accusations from the policemen that I was lying.

The gentleman then asked me why I had claimed to be the ‘Director of RAW’. I replied firmly that I had not, and that if there was any website where this was claimed as such, it was ‘news’ to me and I certainly wasn’t aware of one. I told him that I am also a published columnist in the national print media, and a Google search would instantly reveal my real identity. How could I even claim to be the ‘Director of RAW’? I told him that I can show it to him instantly if I was handed back my ‘tab’ which Arun Baruah had taken away from my sister the previous night (we were yet to be formally arrested till then and a seizure list wasn’t yet prepared). He replied that they shall have my tab examined later but I can show him from his own smartphone and extended it to my hand. Quickly, over the next 10-15 minutes, I surfed using his phone and took him through much of the online content about my writings etc and my blog, Chanakya’s Neeti where my bio was unmistakably available to anyone who cared to check. He then asked a few questions about the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation and my work. He took my tab from Arun Baruah and quickly scrolled through my call lists to check whether what I said about people I claimed to know was substantiated. A policeman interrupted us, politely inviting the gentleman to sit in the DSP’s chamber. He brusquely dismissed the policeman saying he wanted to get everything from me straight. He then asked me a few more questions, important ones, regarding my intervention in the situation arising out of the ethnic conflict in the BTC districts of Kokrajhar and Chirang and appeared satisfied. It was he, who first informed me that all hell has broken loose outside and that media was having a field day as police, including the SSP Guwahati, has broken to the media that the they have apprehended a ‘most wanted’ criminal who has for long been posing as a senior RAW official and defrauding people. It was also the same gentleman who told me that there were actually only 2 cases against me till that moment and both looked extremely dubious. He said that his sole interest in the matter had arisen from the allegations that I had claimed to be a senior RAW or intelligence official and from my involvement in sensitive political issues. He stood up and extended his hand to me and as we shook hands, said to me, “Young man, either someone has made a big screw-up somewhere or you have screwed someone nasty rather badly to have made such enemies. I will see to it that the intelligence agencies aren’t unnecessarily dragged into this mess. Also, you have some staunch well wishers and I am sure everything will end well. Take care.” Saying that, he turned to Arun Baruah, and with barely hidden contempt, coldly told him to inform his superiors not to waste his time again with stupid matters. He then strode out of the room without looking back, leaving Arun Baruah and the rest of the policemen ashen faced and rather subdued. The gentleman did not reveal to me who he was but I could sense that the shit had unmistakably hit the fan.

I began to comprehend that all the ‘strong evidence’ that I had allegedly claimed to be a ‘senior RAW official’, and which the police triumphantly revealed to the media, was actually my biographical information on several webpages that I was the “Executive Director of the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation.” Unfortunately for them, that indeed is true, still. Unfortunately for them, the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation also doesn’t come under the Cabinet Secretariat or report to the Prime Minister. I was astounded (and still am) as to how could someone be so incredibly stupid?

Such stupidity, however, isn’t unique. Even during Binayak Sen’s trial, the prosecution, in their effort to portray the Sens as part of a sinister international terror network, produced in court an e-mail Ilina Sen had written to a Walter Fernandes of the ISI. Never mind that the said ISI happened to be the Indian Social Institute in Delhi and Walter Fernandes an eminent sociologist, scholar and activist. And that could happen to someone of even Binayak Sen’s stature. But closer home, there are many more instances when such attempts have been made by the police, as I have discovered with incontrovertible evidence, which I shall now slowly reveal over the next few weeks.

What happened to me wasn’t a humongous ‘screw-up’ but a sinister attempt to implicate me in false cases and tarnish my public image, distorting or even manufacturing facts. Am I to believe that even senior police officials were so stupid to mistake the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation for RAW? What is pathetic is that the media swallowed the lies doled out by the police hook, line and sinker, without bothering to verify what the actual allegations turned out to be as presented to the court for our remand.

With the bubble of RAW allegation self-destructing badly, the police was desperate to nail me in whatever possible way, to ensure that I remained behind bars for at least sometime, denying me the opportunity to counter the media trial being conducted against me with their not so insubstantial assistance.

So what was that I was finally arrested for?

I reproduce below, word-for-word the FIRs of the cases which I was arrested in. The terrible grammar, composition and stupid spelling errors aren’t at all mine, as they have been reproduced here unedited.

Dispur P.S. Case No. 230/2013 u/s 333/326/294/34 of IPC registered on 03/02/2013 

To

The Officer-in-Charge

Dispur Police Station

Dispur, Guwahati

Dated: 3 February 2013

Sir,

I beg to respectfully inform you that I, today on 02/02/2013, at about 8:10 pm, with regard to Dispur P.S. case No. 2432/2012 u/s 420/406 IPC went to arrest the accused Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta who had been absconding for a long period after receiving secret information that he has been hiding in the rented flat of one Mujibur Rehman, resident of Juripar, in the 3rd Block, 1st flore, Room No 108 (Pan Enclave) taking along colleague staff  HC B. Borah, HG Koikabad Ahmed, Women Cobra Party SI Junali Das, WPC Manju Kalita, WPC Biju Moni Phukan and UBC B.K. Barman. The moment we arrived at his flat, the lights of the house were switched off and even though the accused tried to escape through the back door, jumping from the 1st flore, we were able to tactfully capture him. He was injured in both his legs as a result of jumping from the flat and he is son of the accused, Nilim Dutta.

At that moment, the mother of the accused Smti. Mina Dutta, his wife Smti. Sunita Dutta, and their maid servant Smti. Janaki Bodo prevented us from carrying out our official duty and while trying to prevent us from taking the accused Shri Nilim Dutta into custody, not only seriously injured HC B. Borah, WPC Manju Kalita, UBC B.K. Barman by biting them, but also instigated the neighbours against us and verbally abused us using foul language. Even so, we managed to bring the accused to the police station. Accused Smti. Mina Dutta ran away from the crime scene and accused Nilim Dutta was sent off to the GMCH and treated.

Hence a case should be registered against the accused Nilim Dutta, Sunita Dutta, Mina Dutta and Janaki Bodo and necessary action should be taken.

Yours faithfully,

Arun Baruah

03/02/2013

Let me now point out the difficulties in this piece of fiction.

If the Assam Police is to be believed, as per the FIR, the accused Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta, who happens to be a fugitive from justice, besides being my father, jumps off from the 1st floor to escape the police and on hitting the ground and breaking his legs, magically turns into his own son, who happens to be yours truly, whom the police manages to ‘tactfully capture’.

Please note the FIR says, “The moment we arrived at his flat, the lights of the house were switched off and even though the accused tried to escape through the back door, jumping from the 1st flore, we were able to tactfully capture him. He was injured in both his legs as a result of jumping from the flat and he is son of the accused, Nilim Dutta.”

Also, what the Assam Police is still unable to explain is, if I was not even the accused in the Dispur P.S. Case No. 2432/2012 u/s 420/406 of IPC, why did they ‘capture’ me?

But these aren’t the only difficulties they can’t wish away.

With Bhupen Bora, Parliamentary Secy, Home, Government of Assam and Haider Hussain, former editor, Asomiya Pratidin on Mrinal Talukdar's prime time talkshow 'Proxongokrome' discussing sensitive matters related to the BTAD violence on 16 Nov 2013.

With Bhupen Bora, Parliamentary Secy, Home, Government of Assam and Haider Hussain, former editor, Asomiya Pratidin on Mrinal Talukdar’s prime time talkshow ‘Proxongokrome’ on DY365 discussing sensitive matters related to the BTAD violence on 16 Nov 2012.

I wasn’t a fugitive from justice. As recently as the evening of 16 November 2012, I appeared on the live TV debate on DY365 along with Bhupen Bora, who happens to be the Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Home for Government of Assam, and who played a instrumental role in dealing firmly with the law & order situation in Kokrajhar and Chirang arising out of the ethnic violence there. More importantly, I was in almost daily contact with the top echelons of government responsible for law & order situation there, through meetings in persons, telephonic conversations and, for record, through e-mails.

That being the reality, why would I even jump from the 1st floor of a building to escape the police?

And since I did not jump from the 1st floor of the building to escape the police, how were my heels shattered from a fall?

But if in case I really was the one who injured his legs from the fall after jumping off the 1st floor of the building, why was I then arrested in this case u/s 333 & 326 which applies to “voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty” and “voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means” respectively?

The FIR also names as accused my mother Smti. Mina Dutta, Smti. Janaki Bodo, and a non-existent wife, Smti. Suniti Dutta (surprisingly again, my sister Smita Dutta was arrested instead of my mythical wife Suniti Dutta) who, as claimed by the FIR, had seriously injured the policemen and policewomen by ‘biting’ them.

Thus if the Assam Police is to be believed, as per their own FIR, three unarmed women inflicted ‘grievous wounds’ on three of their able bodied personnel by non-existent ‘dangerous weapons’? Or are the teeth of my mother and sisters the ‘dangerous weapons’ with which such ‘grievous injuries’ were inflicted on the police personnel that there is no trace of even a medical record of the injuries or wounds?

If the Assam Police is to be believed, as per their own FIR, one of the accused, Smti. Mina Dutta, who happens to be my mother, after inflicting grievous wounds on the police personnel managed to escape being ‘tactfully captured’ unlike I was.  Thus, if claims of the police is to be believed, a frail, 65 year old woman suffering from congenital heart condition (ASD) and profusely bleeding from brutal police assault can inflict grievous injuries on three well built police personnel with non-existent dangerous weapons, unless those turns out to be her teeth.

The Assam Police must have been mightily scared of her as they still failed to arrest her when she went to the police station the next day, on 3 February 2013, to file FIRs against the erring police personnel (which the police, again unlawfully, refused to register) or went to meet her children in court when they were taken there to be produced before the judicial magistrate. They also, perhaps out of fear of being bitten again, failed to arrest my father, Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta too, who accompanied her, and who happened to be the accused whom the police had gone to arrest in the first place.

If this isn’t malafide prosecution what is?

But what was the Dispur P.S. case No. 2432/2012 u/s 420/406 IPC for which ASI Arun Baruah went to arrest the accused Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta who happens to be my father?

Continued in:

How I became a “Most Wanted RAW Agent” !! – II

Were Bangladeshis really responsible for the violence in the BTC districts in Assam?

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Children of impoverished Muslim families living in squalid conditions after being displaced by the recent spate of violence.

This article was first published in Eclectic Times, September 2012 issue.

The most vigorously propagated ‘reason’ for the recent spate of violence in the BTC districts, beginning with Kokrajhar, is that it has been the result of rampant illegal immigration of Bangladeshi nationals into the Bodo areas and widespread encroachment on their land. This has been the opinion articulated by many influential functionaries, from an Election Commissioner of India in an op-ed in The Indian Express to the former Home Minister of India in the floor of the Lok Sabha. But how accurate is this perception?

Let us begin by first examining the nature of demographic transformation the BTC districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri have witnessed since the Census of India 1951, and then see if the conclusions support the above perceptions.

Source: Census of India 2011, Provisional Population Totals – Assam: Paper 1 of 2011, Annexure 3, table 2, Page 34.

Table 1 represents the Percentage Decadal Variation in Population since 1951 as per successive Censuses in the BTC districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri which were formed subsequent to the Bodo Peace Accord in 2003 out of the Scheduled Tribe majority, Bodo dominated areas of the existing districts of Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup (Rural) and Darrang.

It would be immediately noticeable that between 1951 and 1991, the BTC districts had a noticeably higher decadal growth rate of population than even the presently Muslim majority districts like Dhubri and Barpeta. But it is unlikely that the higher growth rates of population were contributed either by the Muslims of immigrant origin or even illegal immigrants. It would be evident from the fact that even in 2001, the districts of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Nalbari and Darrang, out of which much of the territorial area of BTC was carved out, Muslims had constituted just 20.3, 38.5, 21.3 and 35.5 percent of the population respectively. When the BTC districts were carved out of them, it was inevitable that the percentage of Muslim population in the newly created districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri went down even further.

Table 1 further show that the decadal growth rates population in the areas out of which BTC districts were formed further declined between 1991-01 and in the last decade, during which these districts were formed into separate territorial entities, growth rate declined even further, Kokrajhar showing a noticeably low of only 5.19%.

The above empirical evidence certainly doesn’t support any claims of rampant illegal immigration of Bangladeshis into these BTC districts as neither the population growth rates have been ‘abnormally’ high nor have the percentage of Muslim population gone up in any alarming way at all.

There is, however, more empirical evidence refuting large scale encroachment of land. The districts of Kokrajhar and Chirang, where the violence have compelled above 4 lakhs to flee their homes and take shelter in relief camps, have among the lowest densities of population still in 2011, being 280 and 244 persons per square kilometre respectively, whereas neighbouring Dhubri and Bongaigaon districts have a population density of 1171 and 425 persons per square kilometres.

Immigration has been a phenomenon the Brahmaputra valley has long been witness to, and over centuries immigrants and natives have mingled and assimilated to create the composite Assamese identity. In the period since the mid 1800s, the Bengali Muslim peasants of erstwhile East Bengal became the largest group of people to have migrated into Assam. The sizeable Muslim population, but Assamese speaking now, residing in the lower Assam districts are inevitably the descendents of those immigrants. In the fractious exclusionary politics that has however taken root in Assam over the past decades, it yields political dividends to keep many of these Muslims labelled as Bangladeshis and blame them for every perceivable ill that beset us. It is time we re-examined facts to differentiate them from fiction.

The Myth of the Bangladeshi and Violence in Assam

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The recent spate of violence that began in the Kokrajhar district of Assam in the month of July 2012 and then spread to the adjoining districts of the Bodoland Territorial Council, primarily between the Bodos and the Muslim community of immigrant origin settled in these districts, has once again unleashed a vicious debate on the perils posed by alleged unrestricted illegal immigration from Bangladesh, this time even on the floor of the Lok Sabha.

The situation has been further complicated by a ‘protest’ in Mumbai against ‘violence on Muslims in Assam’ turning into a riot or by sundry attacks as ‘retaliation’ against people from North East elsewhere in India. Thanks to either shockingly uninformed or brazenly motivated opinions being aired around incessantly, much of it in the national electronic and print media, the dominant discourse that has evolved around the issue has created three distinct perceptions:

First, that illegal immigration of Bengali Muslim peasants from neighbouring Bangladesh into Assam has been continuing unabated, leading to skewed demographic profiles of Assam’s districts bordering Bangladesh and thereafter, turning several adjoining districts of Assam to Muslim majority.

Second, that these illegal Bengali Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh have rapaciously encroached upon and occupied land belonging to the native communities, thereby creating a volatile situation for potential violence and lethal clashes between illegal immigrants and natives.

Third, that the ethnic clash that began between the native Bodos (‘Hindu’ Bodos, as emphaticallypointed out by the Election Commissioner Shri H. S. Brahma who hails from the community) and illegal Muslim immigrants settled in Kokrajhar was a result of aggression and attack by the latter on the Bodos, emboldened by their growing numerical strength, or in the least, was a spontaneous reaction of Bodos to the growing aggression of the immigrants and progressive usurpation of native land and resources by them.

The above perceptions are, however, far from accurate. In order to understand why, it would be important to carefully re-examine how they have emerged, the inherent flaws in the assumptions and what the reality actually is.

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