Sunday, August 24, 2008

Astonishing behavior by the Bar Council of India

A few months ago, in an important case where the young man of an important and powerful family is on trial for the drunken running over of some poor people in Delhi, there was a lot of commotion. What was revealed was the notion that India's judicial system could be as corrupt as other parts of the executive, when a TV channel ran a sting program that revealed that the prosecution and defense lawyers in the case were hand-in-glove in trying to subvert the case, by offering the chief witness money to change his testimony. There was a lot of commotion and media reports at that time, and even the High Court has suo moto taken up the case. But then the reports died down, and the general impression was that this was a normal occurrence, that there would be a commotion and then things would die down.
However, that was not how this case would turn out. A few days back, the High Court passed its judgment in the case, and ruled that the 2 eminent lawyers (both of whom have been in practise for decades, and have held important positions including as a Member of Parliament) were indeed guilty, and slapped them on the wrist, not by disbarring them or hauling them for contempt of court (subverting the normal proceeding is similar to contempt of court), but by temporarily not allowing them to practise for 4 months.
And what was the response from the Bar Council, they protested against the usurping of authority by the High Court in banning them for 4 months, claiming that only the Bar Council could do so (although they have not done so):

Even though it steered clear of commenting on the merits of the case, BCI, led by its chairman Suraj Narain Prasad Sinha sought setting aside of the verdict, predicting it would set a wrong precedent vis a vis debarring of lawyers from practice. "As far as the merit of the judgement is concerned, we are not bothered... our stand is with regard to the powers encroached by the HC in directing the two senior advocates not to appear in HC and its subordinate courts for the next four months," Sinha said.
When asked what action is the regulatory body planning to take against Khan and Anand now that HC had held them guilty for "obstruction of justice", Sinha pointed out that it was state bar council, Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) which was still examining the issue. "If the disciplinary proceedings were not finally concluded within one year by the state Bar Council, the matter will be transferred to the BCI," the Chairman said. Interestingly, for all its indignation at what it sees as HC's "transgression", even the BCD has made little progress in its proceedings against the guilty duo.

Till the time that this article was written, there has been no action by the Bar Council of India against these 2 senior advocates, R K Anand and I U Khan. They don't care for the merits of the case, and don't care for what the public could think of; no wonder the public have a pretty bad opinion of advocates and lawyers.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 7:58 AM    

More cases of ragging

Ragging is a phenomenon that is not unique to India. It is present in many societies, in many forms and with different names. In India, it can sometimes take on a pleasant sense of introductions, of breaking barriers and introducing new people to life in an academic community. However, at the same time, there are many many cases where raqging takes on a more offensive nature, where the senior students consider it their birthright to make the junior suffer and subject them to humiliation and other such behavior. This has often been justified that it breaks the ice between batches, make for a better introduction to college life, and that it is 'harmless fun'. Often, when this results in serious implications for the junior students affected, the institute tries to push it under the carpet (inventing many different reasons), and so on.
For the past few years, this has assumed major proportions. In the absence of major efforts from the educational institutions (Ministry, colleges, etc), it has been left to the courts to 'legislate' in this behalf; and they have done so. The Supreme Court has passed severe restrictions against the practise of ragging, making it a criminal act and holding the educations institutions responsible for such conduct in their premises. And yet the message does not seem to have percolated through:

JAIPUR: The Kanota police have finally lodged an FIR against some senior students of Apollo College of Veterinary Medicine for alleged ragging of a junior – Prateek Bagi. The police are searching for the students who seem to have disappeared since Friday.
His hairs were allegedly cut off and he was forced to move around naked on the college campus. The seniors thrashed him many times as well. Prateek had to quit his hostel room when neither police nor the college administration paid heed to his problem. His parents had to come to Jaipur twice for their son’s rescue, but to no avail. "We had met the college administration, but received cold response. Now, we hope that the police will take an appropriate action in this regard, so that my son can study peacefully," said Parteek's father, Satish Bagi.

The college does not want to come into the limelight, not wanting to have scandal around the image of the college. However, it should be clear that senior students have no god-given right to harass junior students, and if the junior student does not want to do any of the 'activities' under ragging, he or she is well entitled to refuse.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 7:58 AM    

Parents serving drinks at their kids parties

I read this article in a newspaper, and was shocked (and shocked is a mild word for what I felt). Read a few excerpts, and then we can discuss further:

Dr Harish Shetty, however, doesn't buy the logic. "Drinking with dad is just as bad as it can sow the seeds of alcoholism in adult life.'' He feels that there are some parts of the big bad world that parents should not get inside the homes. It's not just at house parties that alcohol is 'on the house. 'A Congress MLA's son from an elite school in the western suburbs celebrated his birthday party at Taj Land's End, where booze flowed freely until the wee hours of the morning.
For several city children, "beer and breezers aren't really alcohol.''Kids have often sneaked miniature bottles of vodka into the classroom and downed liquor in the loo. Some have even been caught for it, after falling asleep at school. Students at one south Mumbai school have openly gulped down vodka in Bisleri bottles during the school socials.

This is downright scary. Alcohol is not just a party drink; when drunk in moderation and under control, it can be accepted. However, there are many dangers to alcohol drinking that most people know about (and are outlined briefly). Please add more such stuff if you know about this:

1. Alcohol can be pretty harmful to the system. Regular drinking of alcohol leads to damage of the liver, and a craving to have a regular session with the bottle. Damage to the liver (enough to cause lasting damage) increases in probability due to the intake of alcohol.

2. During the formative years, children (or young adults as they would like to be called) are susceptible to peer pressure, and may be forced to join even when they would desire not to.

3. Similarly, in today's world, even with so many other careers available, the need for a good education is a significant factor in moving ahead in life; if children start to discover alcohol and spend time in such parties during this time, there will be a percentage of children who will be actually affected by alcohol.

4. Once a parent allows children to start consuming alcohol, it is one major moral point off; it will be much more difficult for a parent to try and prevent more 'social' drinking at parties / clubs.

5. Nothing comes for free. With an increasing proportion of population becoming obese, and coming down with the 'lifestyle' illnesses, such as diabetes, increased alcohol content just ends up causing more damage to the body.

6. Consider the case where you have given you almost adult child the keys to a vehicle (bike / car). He / she ends up at a friend's party where alcohol is served (you can maybe control going to clubs or other such places (how!!)), and drives home with a fair amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. Accidents happen, and in Mumbai, you stand the chance of having to get your child out of jail (where people caught drinking and driving are sent for atleast a day's imprisonment).

You can add many more reasons, and you could argue that this is a trend that one cannot stop, and you may be right; that does not mean however that one should accept this kind of behavior as normal. Out of readers, how many have faced such a situation, and do you know of things that will help out in this regard ?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 7:57 AM    

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another case of policemen turning to be offenders

The police force in this country is a mixed set, with many good and bad. There have been dedicated officers who have brought a lot of good name to the country such as Mr. Riberio, Ms. Kiran Bedi, and many others. They are a credit to the police force, and serve as a figure of awe for many of the citizens of this country. However, it is also true that there are many members of the police force of this country who are corrupt, or a law unto themselves, and who besmirch the whole police force by their actions. It is they who make people scared of the police force, and fear an encounter with the police. Take an example of these cops who actually tried to steal money:

KOLKATA: Two policemen were among three people arrested on Sunday night for duping a Bongaon trader of Rs 6 lakh on August 11. Posing as CID officers, the policemen intercepted Mantu Saha, a trader from Bongaon, near Mohammad Ali Park and accusing of carrying fake notes, fled with the money.
Suspecting that policemen had a hand in it as the seizure list resembled those usually issued by police, police tracked down Pankaj Ghosh, a former colleague of Saha, who confessed to having masterminded the operation through GRP's Sanjib Chakraborty, an assistant sub-inspector, and Debasis Mukherjee, a constable. "The three have been remanded in police custody," said Jawed Shamim, DC (DD).

The biggest problem is that these corrupt policemen used the advantages that the police force give in terms of evoking fear among people, an unwillingness to stand upto them for fear of the consequences. As when dealing with criminals, if these cops are found to be guilty, they should be punished to the maximum extent possible under the law.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 6:38 AM    

Good intentions causing problems: Idol immersions

There are a number of areas where modern science and problems clash with traditions. In such cases, a reasonable expectation is that there is a compromise between traditions and the needs of today; in some cases, there is a need that the tradition changes. Why did I suddenly think of this topic ? Well, I came across this article that describes how idol immersion, a joyful and integral part of many religious festivals, is actually helping in killing the river systems of the country. Now, there are many reasons why our river systems are getting killed - there is too much flow of effluents (both domestic and industrial), not enough cleaning of these effluents, not enough flow of fresh water to do a cleanup of the pollutants in the river. No one doubts that in many cases, the conditions of our rivers as they move past major cities is that of a sewer, with the water having very high percentages of pollutants.
For those who have taken part in Durga Pooja celebrations or those celebrating Lord Ganesha, the immersion of idols is an important part. This is repeated across the country. But how many of you have read the news articles that describe the dead fish found floating days after a major festival, with these fish poisoned by the chemicals form the immersion ? Read this article in more detail:

Elaborately painted and decorated idols are worshipped before they are taken during mass processions to rivers, lakes and the sea, where they are immersed in accordance with Hindu faith. Environmentalists say the idols are often made from non-biodegradable materials such as plastic, cement and plaster of Paris and painted with toxic dyes.
After the statues are immersed, the toxins then contaminate food crops when villagers use the polluted water for irrigation, said Shyam Asolekar, science and engineering head at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. Statue remains from festivities last year still float in rivers and water tanks in Mumbai, where the annual "Ganesh Chaturthi" festival culminate in the immersion of some 160,000 statutes -- some up to 25 feet high -- by millions of devotees. Traditionally, idols were made from mud and clay and vegetable-based dyes were used to paint them.

This is a tricky issue. Issues related to religious festivities are treated with care, with efforts being made not to offend the religious. However, there is no getting around the facts of a matter, and this is not an issue that has sprung up suddenly. Even on TV, you do see many times news articles about the importance of making statues with eco-friendly material, but somehow these items do not sink in.
Sometimes direct action needs to be taken, as for example, when the courts ordered the installation of tall fences on the bridges of the river Yamuna in Delhi in order to prevent people from throwing in flowers or complete garlands.
Rivers are the lifeblood of this country (or any country), with dependence on water requiring that water sources be protected. People know this, but somehow the relation with water pollution does not sink in, or maybe many people do not care. How does one ensure that such a message sink in ? You cannot use force to ensure that such a change happens across the breadth and width of the country.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 4:11 AM    

Friday, August 15, 2008

Delhi's (and other cities) rain problem

Rainfall in a city has typically always been welcomed. The sheer relief from heat, of water falling from the sky always brings out a better mood in people, makes children more excited, relieves water pressure to some extent (through recharging of ground water). There have always been problems related to some water-logging, some businesses getting disturbed, and so on. However, in recent years, people in Delhi have come to dread rain falling in the city.
Given the increasing crowd in the city, and the strain on civic facilities, it is even more urgent that the civic agencies work at their utmost to handle these problems. However, the problems that cities are facing seem to be increasing every year; and these problems are not unique to one city. They happen to be problems that happen everywhere.
Let us take these problems, related to the rain and the chaos they cause. There is a reliance on the normal drains, and storm drains to handle the drainage of water; however, for that it is required that these drains be desilted before the monsoon, as well as natural water bodies that carry away excess water should not be impeded. However, in many cities, rivers running through them have been blocked or built over to such an extent that they are incapable of handling the excess water. Similarly, drains are not desilted on time (as an example, in Delhi this year, only a small percentage of drains were desilted on time). So, water-logging turns out to be a very common problem. This happens every where, and every year, the municipal bodies announce an enquiry to determine the problems.
Next, what happens pretty often is that in cases of rain, traffic signals turn off. This is a major killer, since our traffic sense is fairly low (me first is the common tendency), and signals start getting jammed. Traffic blockages tend to pile up pretty fast, and take time to dissipate. If there is a problem that power to traffic signals gets cut off because of general safety issues, then traffic signals should have an alternate source of power.
Handling such issues requires the municipal agencies to be thinking in terms of solutions, but given how these issues happen every year, it seems unlikely that things will improve anytime soon. We will have more cases of people missing flights, trains, meetings, spending 4 hours in traffic, and so on. Any suggestions ?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:10 AM    

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Groundwater harvesting in states

It is a well known (and nightmarish scenario) that the groundwater levels in cities and the rural parts of the country are declining. In rural parts of the country, the promise of free electricity, and agriculture that is not well fed by canals (along with some wrong crop planting policies in which heavy water seeking plants have been planted) has caused a tremendous decline in the water levels. In some parts of Uttar Pradesh, there were recent reports that in some parts of the state, there has been a sudden cracking of the surface land crust due to a total absence of water underneath, causing a drying up of the surface.
In cities, the groundwater is pumped out by various authorities as well as individuals; all of this is done for satiating the growing water requirements of cities. On the contra side, water levels would normally get replenished through rain water seeping in from the normal watersheds and lakes inside a city, as well as through water seeping in from river-beds (most cities have some form of river running through them). However, both of these methods are in great decline. Rivers in cities are like drains, and water bodies are in a state of decline (recent reports from Delhi point to many of these water bodies being coveted by builders, or being used as a means to dump trash).
One possible solution that is being increasingly touted for cities is the use of groundwater harvesting by buildings. The reasoning goes that if each new building is forced to do rainwater harvesting all over its compound, then the water levels of the whole city will rise. Towards this end, the Bangalore Government is trying to bring in a low to enforce water harvesting in the city:

BANGALORE: Ensure your building is equipped with rainwater harvesting technology in the next few months. If not, local authorities will install one for you and collect the expenses later.
Even though the Act is applicable to the entire state, the government is concentrating on making rainwater harvesting equipment mandatory for all new buildings — residential and commercial — in Bangalore. Aimed at replenishing groundwater, the Act, once it becomes operational, makes it mandatory for users of groundwater through well or borewell to register with the Ground Water Authority within 120 days of its establishment.

This sounds very good, but in principle. In reality, this is already law in many places (including I believe in Delhi), and it has been a spectacular failure. Why ? Because builders do not do it, and they are hardly ever caught for it. Even if at some point they are asked, they do the great India money appearance trick, and presto, no more problems. This sort of law is only good when either people genuinely believe in this sort of welfare, or when inspection procedures are strict.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 3:39 AM    

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Interesting way to have safety on roads in Tamil Nadu

Driving during the night is prone to accidents. After all, this is a time when the human body expects to get its rest (even if you sleep during the day), there is less light(in fact, a lot less); the factors that cause accidents are far more. For some time now, authorities in Tamil Nadu have been finding that the rate of accidents during the night has been increasing, and a number of factors have caused this - the most important being the sheer lack of attention of drivers caused by sleepiness. So, one way to get around this is by providing them some facilities at this time:

Bleary-eyed truck drivers on their way to Chennai wake up to piping hot coffee and crunchy biscuits these days. Worried by the high number of road accidents on the highways leading to the city, the collector of the adjoining district of Kancheepuram has initiated a welfare programme aimed at heavy vehicle drivers.
Transport officials have been instructed to serve drivers undertaking perilous night drives with biscuits and coffee, besides handing out lessons on safe driving. Truck drivers cruising down NH 4 (Bangalore-Chennai Highway) at daybreak are therefore being stopped at various points and asked to step out, stretch their legs and help themselves to refreshments. "Between 4 am and 5 am, the time when accidents usually happen, we stop the trucks and ask the drivers to wash their faces. We then give them water to drink, biscuits to munch and coffee or tea as they prefer,

This is a very welcome step, and shows a level of responsibility among the officialdom that is not seen often. One can only hope that other places adopt this method, and that it does not slow down as time passes.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:18 AM    

Supreme Court cracks the whip on police for refusing to file FIR's

Most people have their own story about their interactions with the police force, especially in their stronghold (police stations). Let me give an instance of what happened in a police station when I made the mistake of losing a draft (actually the draft did not reach the destination when it was sent via courier, but for the bank, I had lost the draft). I had the counterfoil of the draft, so approached the bank for how to reclaim my money. And this started the adventure.
Given that the draft was sent to an education institute, we did not know that the draft had not reached till it was around 3 months later, since that was the last date of the money to be received; and the institute contacted me. After some back and forth, they convinced me that they had not received the money and things would be terminated unless I sent them the money.
I contacted the bank, and guess what ? They told me a whole lot of things to do - get a notarized affidavit for having lost the draft, get a note from the institute acknowledging that the money was not received, and .... get a FIR from the police station about having lost the draft (since a draft is different from money; more importantly, RBI regulations apparently require it). So, I managed to convince the bank that the institute will not give me a letter; affidavit was made. Now for the police station. That was fun.
First, where was the draft lost ? "Well, it was sent by courier and never reached". I knew I should have made up a story about having lost it at home, or somewhere else that was definite and that did not cause any jurisdictional problems. The police station totally refused to cooperate, since they did not believe it to be their problem. Beaten, I managed to convince the bank after around an year of discussion and got my money back.
Okay, why this long story ? Well, people have faced problems in getting FIR's filed for far more serious stuff - for fraud, criminal assault, modesty / molestation / rape, etc. The weaker you are, the more difficult it is for you to get the police to file an FIR. Having more FIR's filed is liable to get you in the dock when a starred question comes up in the assembly / parliament about number of unsolved cases, so easier option is to try and reduce the number of FIR's filed. Well, the Supreme Court has jumped right in:

Commoners, often harassed by the police's refusal to register FIRs (first information reports), have turned the tables on the men in khaki, thanks to the Supreme Court. Stating that officials in India understood only the "crack of a whip", the apex court on Friday ordered that a policeman turning away a person without registering his complaint could face contempt of court charges and cool his heels in jail if he failed to justify non-registration of the FIR.
The court has provided a detailed mechanism to citizens to make the police accountable. The bench comprising Justices Agrawal and G S Singhvi said if the police refused to register an FIR, the aggrieved person could move the area chief judicial magistrate with a complaint against the concerned officer.

If you read the linked news, you would be able to figure out the mechanism as well as the reasons behind this move. In addition, most states did not even respond to the notice by the Supreme Court, making the court even angrier.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:42 AM    

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bihar orders change into Section 498(A) process

The Section 498(A) of the IPC is meant for prevention of crimes against women, something that this country has struggled with for quite some time now. If you read the actual Section, it talks about: "Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine". This was meant to ensure that a woman subjected to harassment in her matrimonial home can take legal measure to protect herself. However, as with any law that favors one side of the dispute, it is subjected to misuse (and there are numerous complaints about the law being misused - refer to this link).
The main complaints against this law (from whatever I have read so far in various articles, web sites, and email) is that:
- the law has allowed the daughter-in-law to subject the entire family of her husband to its provisions
- the police do not investigate the case, but based on the complaint, have been known to drag all the accused (including elderly people and children)
So here is an update from a directive sent out by Bihar police:

There have been talks about misuse of laws relating to crime against women for quite some time now. Bihar police’s CID also admitted this when it directed all the SPs in the state to ensure proper investigation into FIRs lodged under Section 498(A) of the IPC before going in for arrest of the accused. “Sometimes such cases are framed against in-laws or others just to harass or settle old scores. Hence, the precaution against arrests,” ADG (CID) Yashwant Malhotra told TOI recently.
In his letter to district SPs, government railway police, range DIGs and zonal ADGs/IGs, Malhotra said it has been observed that in cases relating to crime against women, particularly those registered under Section 498(A) of the IPC, all the in-laws of the alleged victim are named as accused. And they are arrested without proper investigation into the case, thus marring the interests of justice.

This is actually a mixed step (in reality). One would like to think that, as per judicial and legal standards, the practice of doing an enquiry and then only proceeding against the named people is the right step. If one considers the law to be a just tool, then this is the right step.
However, there needs to be careful attention paid to the actual implementation of the law, since now proceeding on the basis of a complaint would be subject to the individual police officer of the region, and rural and semi-urban regions are known for police officers bucking under pressure, especially when the families and people involved are known / powerful.
What do people think ? Making sure that the provision is subject checks and balances is a good thing, but do people think that this could lead to a much watered down enforcement of the provisions meant to protect women ?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 6:03 AM    

Asking for wife's share of property not dowry

In the mix of the many dowry related laws and court clarifications / edicts, add another one. This one is something that strikes to make sure that family settlements are all equitable, and also rectifying one part of the provisions of the the dowry law. The current dowry laws are harsh, and put a lot of the onus of proving innocence on the husbands in case of dowry related deaths within 7 years of marriage. As with many laws, this one is subject to misuse. If the husband is not on good terms with his in-laws, and his wife dies within 7 years of marriage (and it becomes alleged that he was demanding dowry), then the law essentially puts the onus of proving innocence on the husband. This is not a very comforting feeling, given the basic provisions of fairness which all laws must meet (and let us be clear, such laws were made harsh because of the large number of dowry related deaths and harassment cases in today's society). So this judgment of the court is a welcome clarification:

Supreme Court on Monday ruled that asking for the wife's share in ancestral property from in-laws would not come under the definition of "dowry". This judgment could become a small but significant breather for husbands, on whom the courts virtually impose the onus of coming clean on dowry death charges if their wives die an unnatural death within seven years of marriage and there had been past allegations of harassment.
"Demanding her share in the ancestral property will not amount to a dowry demand," said a bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Harjit Singh Bedi while dismissing a man’s appeal seeking acquittal in a dowry death case.

We still need to go a long way towards getting rid of the evils of dowry from today's world, but making harsh laws (that open themselves up to misuse at the hands of people out to subvert law) is not a recommended course of action. All such cases should need proper investigation, including the guidance of experts as well as NGO's.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 5:51 AM    

Monday, August 04, 2008

Issues in Jammu regarding the Amarnath land transfer move

The current turmoil in Jammu shows no sign of letting up. Part of the turmoil has been scripted, with the BJP and other parties such as the Shiv Sena also using this as an opportunity to demonstrate against both the State Government (previously headed by a Congress Chief Minister and now by the representative of the Central Congress Government), and against the Central Government. However, as of now, the agitation seems to have caught on a rage of its own, and the turmoil over there is threatening the peace in the region.
What is the background of this agitation ? Some time back, the State Governor (as head of the Amarnath Yatra Board) proposed that some land be transferred to the Yatra Board so as to facilitate the building of some pre-fabricated structures for the benefit of pilgrims. The conditions over there are not very easy, and building such facilities would make a lot of sense. However, once this decision was ratified by the State Government, the crisis started. There were agitations in Srinagar against this move, with many calling this a move to do some population shifts. Soon, the situation began to be seen as an anti-Hindu move, and Islamists started to take advantage, marking the resurgence of pro-Independence and pro-Pakistan slogans.
After this agitation threatened to shut down the Valley, the State Government shifted stands, and decided to reverse the transfer of land, portraying a Congress Government as again buckling down to pressure and taking a decision that was against the interest of Hindus. Historically, Jammu has always suffered in the state - Jammu and Kashmir has always been composed of 3 major regions, Jammu, Ladakh and the Valley. Jammu is hindu-majority, Ladakh is Buddhist, and the valley is muslim majority. In all these years, there has been a feeling that because of the need to keep the sensitivities of the only muslim majority state in the country, Jammu has always suffered second-grade treatment. It seems that the move to make this issue as a major issue in Jammu (and many other parts of India) is able to use this feeling.
What can be done now ? It's very tricky. The Government in its current state will not be able to again reverse itself and grant the land to the Amarnath Board, and it will do all it can to please with the BJP and the other parties to withdraw the agitation in Jammu.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:19 AM    

Friday, August 01, 2008

The bomb blasts and their aftermath

It was a time that India has rarely seen in the past. Except for the transistor blasts in the 80's in Delhi, and then the bomb blasts that shook Bombay in 1993, the recent 3 day carnage (2 day + potential third) shook the nation and highlighted the total ease with which terrorists can destroy normal life in a city; at the same time, this also highlighted the current inability of the police and intelligence services to penetrate these terrorist groups and cells. People are worried, given that there were bombs on 3 successive days (even though the bombs did not burst in Surat); it seems that it is so easy to place bombs inside a crowded city, without people noticing, and then blow them up to cause an incredible amount of damage.
The sheer planning of the attack was a shock. This was not 1 or 2 bombs, these were numerous bombs that were placed in different parts of the city. If it was not so serious, placing bombs on top of a tree (they found such a bomb in Surat) and in many other public places takes some amount of time and effort, and the plotters were able to do so. In addition, it would seem that they did dry runs for these attacks, and again they were not detected.
The bomb making has moved away from using the RDX used in earlier bombs; now this may seem odd given that RDX is a much better explosive, but RDX leaves forensic traces, and showcases the role of Pakistan. Using common explosive, or even chemicals found in fertilizers makes it much more difficult to determine where the explosives came from, and makes post-blast investigation more difficult.
The planning for the bombs has been much more destructive; it was seen in Iraq that bombs were placed and timed such that consequent bombs would cause more damage to the panicking crowd; in the bomb blasts now, and in Jaipur earlier, the bombs were placed such that they would cause more damage by anticipating the people movement. In Jaipur, the bombs were placed in the market such that a running mob would be attacked by another bomb; in Ahmadabad, a bomb was placed in the hospital to go off sometime after the first attacks. People behind the bombs are out for maximum human life, and not deserving of any kind of 'misguided youth or citizens' talk. They need to be hunted down with the maximum ferocity.
What is the most problematic is the issue related to an almost total failure of the intelligence network. For some decades now, almost since the time of Indira Gandhi, the Intelligence Bureau has also been serving to collect information on the opposition, away from its main mission to prevent law and order issues and break-up threats to the nation and individual states. This has reached such a level that there is no incentive for skilled people to join the intelligence network; the fight between the different intelligence networks rules out much cooperation, and the various State and Central Governments could not care less. It is only at the time of such bomb attacks that they talk about preventing such attacks, only to fail again.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 4:38 AM