Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Raj Thackeray causes the Shiv Sena to split
Not in the way that you would think, where people would leave the Shiv Sena of Bal and Uddhav Thackeray and join Raj's Nav Nirman Movement, but another byproduct of the lack of protest by the Shiv Sena against the anti-North Indian movement of Raj. In fact, Uddhav almost seemed to be trying to coopt the movement, with statements that, while not explicitly threatening North Indians, saying the message with less violence. However, the talk of jobs for native Marathis first and the lack of any denunciation of Raj's message sent a signal to the North Indians - the Shiv Sena essentially will not hesitate to adopt Raj's message if it seems to be generating popular acclaim.
From time to time, you would get a reminder that the Shiv Sena existed outside Maharashtra, particularly when there would be a demonstration by the Delhi branch against some statement by other parties, or when a Valentine's day celebration needed to be broken up violently. But now it seems that the leaders of these North Indian branches are finding the environment a bit hard to handle.
The Shiv Sena on Wednesday split, with the outfit's North Indian leaders resigning en-masse protesting its "outrageous conduct" towards non-Marathis in Maharashtra and announcing they would form a separate party.
"Shiv Sena is no different from Khalistan and Jammu and Kashmir militant groups which are trying to create a rift between people along regional lines. The main aim of these forces is to split our country," Shiv Sena's North India chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Seems like finally the Shiv Sena had to make a compromise. It's base is in Maharashtra, and it cannot allow an expelled member like Raj try and take away its thunder, and if that means that its North Indian faction splits, so be it. However, it seems like the Shiv Sena is headed towards overall failure - it was the more extremist among the political parties, but now Raj is threatening to take that position. The NCP of Sharad Pawar has bona fide Marathi leaders and has a centrist position that attracts voters, leaving the Shiv Sena with a diminishing base.
The other party that is badly hit of course is the Congress since they tried to play upto Raj to diminish the Shiv Sena, but the lack of action against Raj by the Congress leadership will cause a backlash against the Congress. Mere words will not be enough.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Taslima Nasreen castigates Indian Govt while leaving
In a stinging criticism of the Indian Government, the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen has left the country, and accused them of being hand-in-glove with the Muslim fundamentalists who have harassed her. In a talk with reporters on her way out of India, she bemoaned the fact that the Indian Government did not support her, harassed her and kept her under surveillance:
"If I disclose my destination my security will be compromised. My face has now become recognisable and I could be target of religious fundamentalist", Taslima said, adding that she will not hesitate to discuss what she said the traumatic experience she allegedly went through during various international seminars lined up in Europe in the next few months.
"I was put under tremendous stress but I could not speak out as I was under their (government) surveillance and could be harassed by them," she said in a choked voice.
"The government is no better than religious fundamentalists," she said.
Of course, we all know that the Indian Government was also under a lot of stress since her presence in the country was very uncomfortable for it. The Government could not have kicked her out because of the adverse publicity, but at the same time, could not allow her free reign because of the feared reaction from the Muslim community. So the Government essentially buckled down and made her a prisoner, unable to move out and kept in a Government security house.
Nobody comes out of this with any praise. The Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh did not prosecute the politicians who led an attack against her, the central Government even refused to giver here the barest of support, instead warning her that she should behave or else ... The Left Government refused to provide her security, instead kicking her out of Calcutta. Everybody has got a bad name out of this, and India is seeming like a country where you cannot speak freely without offending people, and where the Government will not protect you for political reasons. Shame on Manmohan Singh.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The strange going ons in the Goa murder case
Suddenly, there are a number of questions about the conduct of the mother in the case of the British teenager Scarlett Keeling in Goa, a horrible case where the daughter was murdered on a beach in Goa. There is some backlash emerging against the mother in terms of questioning as to why the girl was left alone, that the girl was doing drugs, that she should have been in school, etc. These are all valid questions, and are relevant to a case where child services would investigate as to whether the children are being brought up in a home where they are getting the proper care, education, etc.
However, the worrying facts of this case is the conduct of the local Goa police.
After Scarlett was found dead on the Anjuna beach, her family had contended that she was raped and murdered. Initially reluctant to treat it as a murder case, Goa Police carried out a detailed probe after a second autopsy was conducted by a team of doctors here following a demand by the girl's mother Fiona MacKeown. "We are happy that police have conducted investigations properly but we want that police's act of misguiding Fiona Mackowen (Scarlett's mother) should also be probed," Vikram Varma, lawyer for Scarlett's family, said.
He said the arrests have been made in the right direction. "But the key for the entire incident is the nexus between criminals, police and politicians which should be unearthed," he said. The family members feel that police have done half their job.
"Scarlett's death investigation was just a part of the entire case. The other half is police complicity in trying to hide the crime. The entire episode of abetment of crime by the police needs to be investigated," he said.
And what the Goa police did was very shocking. One is pretty sure that they had realized that the investigation would reveal the rape and murder of a young tourist girl, and to avoid bad publicity (or to just keep the police case count down and avoid investigating a murder case), the police dismissed the case as that of a drowning. It took the effort of the girl's mother to get pressure to bear on the police and get them to do a second autopsy and investigation which ultimately revealed the truth about the atrocities done on the young girl.
It is not easy to accept such action by the police. In society, the police have been given unprecedented powers of crime prevention and investigation, but those are coupled with a responsibility that the police do its best (and not run for the easy way like it happened in this case). This case needs to be properly investigated and guilty policemen punished. Just imagine what would be the case of the murder investigation of a poor man; this case was after all the mother of a foreign tourist in Goa who could bring an immediate media attention to the case and force action.