The real reason for Maoist presence is the indefensible antipathy of the government to follow the policy of development with justice to the tribals, which alone will make Maoist influence wither away
The recent murderous attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh resulting in death of 28 persons, including key state Congress leaders, their security officers and ordinary villages of area, has to be treated as a diabolical act by the self-styled leaders of the “revolutionary movement”, CPI (Maoist), who delude themselves that they are struggling for bringing about a revolution of workers and peasants.
One of the seriously injured persons, senior Congress leader VC Shukla, died on Wednesday, 12 June 2013. In fact, I would describe the activities of these ‘revolutionaries’ a massive mad act which has damaged greatly the cause of tribals. It is also most foul as Maoists have tried to stop political activity they do not agree with through violent means. Their politics is as evil as those they claim to be fighting against and should be rejected outright by all those who stand for democratic norms in political struggles for peace with justice.
If people expected that the two major political parties will, realising the urgency of the situation, forget their petty public posturing, they were mistaken. While Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and chief minister Raman issued a statement that they are going to work together, state Congress leaders have announced that they are boycotting the all-party meeting called by the Chhattisgarh chief minister. Even within Congress high-ups there is now a sharp division —while one central minister, who used to take a somewhat humanitarian approach to the Maoist problem, now calls them ‘terrorists’, a Central tribal minister has rightly warned against this approach and reproached the state government for having encouraged Salwa Judum’s sinful strategy, and which was also so commented adversely by the Supreme Court.
Even the normally conservative Planning Commission has suddenly thought fit to suggest universal coverage and to do away with the BPL test in 22 most backward of 82 IAP districts. Did we need these murders to face the reality of the total deprivation of the tribals and their desperation, which provides easy catch to Naxalite groups?
Naxalite leaders have made no secret of their aim. They feel (though in my opinion they are disastrously mistaken) that by spreading terror and trying to keep some areas outside the civil authority, they would one day be able to launch a fierce onslaught to capture political power in Delhi even if they are said to have a strong presence in 185 districts out of the total 607 districts. This is because the Indian state, however weak, will never be so weak as to allow itself to be taken over by such rump groups, even if it is able to equip itself with some arms—the fire power of a modern state is too overwhelmingly superior to Maoist groups. The real reason for Maoist presence is the indefensible antipathy of the government to follow the policy of development with justice to the tribals, which alone will make Maoist influence wither away.
But that requires taking on the corporate sector which is ravishingly exploiting the mineral wealth and denying to the tribals even their modest share. Why does the government not accept the suggestion of human right organizations, including the PUCL, to hold public discussions on this vital matter in the presence of tribal leaders, among others? Is the reason the presence of many mine owners belonging to the ruling party at the Centre? This charge finds support from the continued detention of Soni Suri, a social worker among tribals, on a fake charge of being a conduit for passing money to Maoists on behalf of a mining company given to her by the company’s contractor—inexplicably he has been denied bail, but the contractor or the owner has not been arrested. One is pained to see this strange nexus between the ruling party and the corporate sector.
Of course, I accept that the Maoist act of brutality and terrorism can never be justified, even if they be in response to equally heinous and brutal acts unleashed by the security forces, as we are seeing presently in Chhattisgarh. This situation no doubt poses a knotty question and the Supreme Court has answered thus:
“Indeed, we recognise that the state faces many serious problems on account of Maoist/Naxalite violence. Notwithstanding the fact that there may be social and economic circumstances, and certain policies followed by the state itself, leading to the emergence of extremist violence, we cannot condone it. The state necessarily has the obligation, moral and constitutional, to combat such extremism and provide security to the people of the country.
“However the primordial problem lies deep within the socio-economic policies pursued by the state in a society that was already endemically and horrifically suffering from gross inequalities. Our Constitution provides the guidelines within which the state is to act, both to assert such authority to transgress those guidelines is to act unlawfully, to imperil the moral and legal authority of the state and the Constitution.”
It is, however, very important that the revolting nature of extremist acts cannot serve as a basis or pretext for the governments to disregard their national and international obligations, the caution highlighted by the International Council of Jurists in its Berlin Declaration on 28 August 2004, namely that “both contemporary human rights and humanitarian law allow states a reasonably wide margin of flexibility to combat terrorism without contravening human rights and humanitarian legal obligations.
A warning has been given in a report titled “Development Challenges in Extremist Affected Areas” by an expert group constituted by the Planning Commission of India in the following manner: “In the case of tribes in particular it has ended up in destroying their social organization, cultural identity, and resource base... which cumulatively makes them increasingly vulnerable to exploitation.”
And yet, all that the government does is not to face the causes of the rage and despair that nurture such movements. Instead, it considers the matter as a menace, a law and order problem that is to be rooted out with the use of force. This cycle of mindless violence and counter-violence may continue unless the state honestly acts in the interest of the poor and the tribals, and does not connive with corporate mine owners in their exploitive acts.
(The writer is a former chief justice of the Delhi High Court.)
Often women are portrayed as victims, while men are seen as abusers. The arrest of Suraj Pancholi in the Jiah Khan Suicide case is not an example of the perils of lovesick women, but more evidence of an irresponsible police force says Save Indian Family Foundation, a non-profit NGO fighting for men’s rights, gender equality and family harmony
Suraj Pancholi, son of Bollywood actor Aditya Pancholi, was arrested and sent to jail for abetting the suicide of actress Jiah Khan. The actress attempted suicide eight months ago and nothing was done to ensure that she does not repeat it. Is suicide a solution to break-ups or separation? It is absurd to assume that all human relations will remain everlasting in this age of modernity. Women are portrayed as victims, while men are seen as abusers. Pancholi’s arrest is not an example of the perils of lovesick women, but more evidence of an irresponsible police force, says Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), a non-profit NGO fighting for men’s rights, gender equality and family harmony.
According to a release from SIFF, Suraj Pancholi is not alone. Thousands of men across India have faced threats of suicide from their wives from time to time, if they do not meet her unreasonable demands. These men are scared. These abusive wives refuse to come to a counsellor or a psychiatrist. These men cannot run away from home or file for divorce, fearing that this may prompt her to commit suicide. They suffer mental and physical abuse from possessive, controlling and suspicious wives. In fact, the society laughs at them as “harassed husbands” rather than helping the man and making arrangements for counselling of such women. This phenomenon is now getting extended to relationships before marriage, as well. Being obsessively possessive and controlling is not a sign of love.
“India is sitting on a ticking time bomb as the society refuses to recognize the issue of threats of suicide inside marriages or in relationships. Society just behaves as if such incidents are rare or wishes that this problem will go away on its own. Then, it recommends revenge on the man if the woman commits suicide. Home ministry data says, 24% of all suicides in India are due to family reasons and 3.4% due to failed love affairs,” SIFF said.
This abetment to suicide law is very selectively applied by the police. When a husband commits suicide blaming torture by wife and in-laws, the police refuse to arrest the woman and her parents. However, if a wife commits suicide, the husband and in-laws go to prison for six months to two years and are presumed guilty until proven innocent. Is the life of a man cheap? Males are the disposable gender.
According to the NGO, Suraj Pancholi and many men are victimized as the hatred against men is fuelled by mass hysteria after incidents of rape. SIFF demands an end to large scale gender hate, stereotyping and the attitude to judge men harshly. If hate cannot solve communal or religious problems, then why it is assumed that blaming men and spreading hate against men will solve crimes against women?
Threat of suicide by man is actually defined as domestic violence under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), which is applicable to both marriages and live-in relationships. A woman can get a restraining order from a court against her husband and boyfriend if they threaten suicide. However, society and the women’s organizations force the government to refuse to protect men from such forms of domestic violence. If they had, then Suraj Pancholi would have got a restraining order and would have legally forced Jiah Khan to get psychiatric help.
Many actors like Shah Rukh Khan to Amitabh Bacchan have publicly proclaimed, “I am ashamed of being a man”. Shaming all men for the crimes of a few is nothing but anti-male hate or misandry. If misogyny is not healthy for the society, then how can misandry create a better society? We hope, Bollywood actors realize that in this grave hour, SIFF said.
Officials say National Security Agency intercepts stopped David Coleman Headley's planned attack in Denmark, but sources say a tip from the British led to his capture after the US failed for years to connect multiple reports of terror tie
June 12: This story has been updated with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander's Senate testimony on surveillance.
Defending a vast program to sweep up phone and Internet data under antiterror laws, senior U.S. officials in recent days have cited the case of David Coleman Headley, a key plotter in the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said a data collection program by the National Security Agency helped stop an attack on a Danish newspaper for which Headley did surveillance. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Senate intelligence chairwoman, also called Headley's capture a success.
But a closer examination of the case, drawn from extensive reporting by ProPublica, shows that the government surveillance only caught up with Headley after the U.S. had been tipped by British intelligence. And even that victory came after seven years in which U.S. intelligence failed to stop Headley as he roamed the globe on missions for Islamic terror networks and Pakistan's spy agency.
Supporters of the sweeping U.S. surveillance effort say it's needed to build a haystack of information in which to find a needle that will stop a terrorist. In Headley's case, however, it appears the U.S. was handed the needle first — and then deployed surveillance that led to the arrest and prosecution of Headley and other plotters.
As ProPublica has previously documented, Headley's case shows an alarming litany of breakdowns in the U.S. counterterror system that allowed him to play a central role in the massacre of 166 people in Mumbai, among them six Americans.
A mysterious Pakistani-American businessman and ex-drug informant, Headley avoided arrest despite a half dozen warnings to federal agents about extremist activities from his family and associates in different locales. If those leads from human sources had been investigated more aggressively, authorities could have prevented the Mumbai attacks with little need for high-tech resources, critics say.
"The failure here is the failure to connect systems," said a U.S. law enforcement official who worked on the case but is not cleared to discuss it publicly. "Everybody had information in their silos, and they didn't share across the silos. Headley in my mind is not a successful interdiction of a terrorist. It's not a great example of how the system should work."
Officials from Clapper's office reiterated this week that he was referring to the prevention of Headley's follow-up role in a Mumbai-style attack against Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper, a prime target because it published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims found offensive. To that extent, Clapper's comment shed a bit of new light on this aspect of a labyrinthine case.
Separately today, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander told a Senate committee that surveillance conducted by his agency helped disrupt "dozens" of attacks aimed at the U.S. and elsewhere. According to The Washington Post, Alexander cited the Headley case and promised to make more information public about the success of the NSA's phone surveillance program, which captures "metadata" such as number, time and location of but not the content of calls.
In January, a federal judge in Chicago imposed a 35-year prison sentence on Headley, 51, for his role in Mumbai and the foiled newspaper plot. He got a reduced sentence because he testified at the federal trial in Chicago of his accomplice, Tahawurr Rana, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Headley confessed to doing undercover surveillance in Mumbai for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group and Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). U.S. officials also charged a major in the ISI with serving as Headley's handler before the attack in November 2008. Pakistan denies involvement.
In early 2009, according to trial testimony, Lashkar and the ISI sent Headley on a surveillance mission to Denmark. After he returned to Pakistan, his Lashkar and ISI handlers backed off. But Headley continued the plot with support from al-Qaida, whose leaders wanted a team of gunmen to attack the newspaper offices in Copenhagen, take hostages and throw their severed heads out of the windows.
Headley returned to Europe from Chicago for a second reconnaissance mission that July. The official version has been that he was detected at this point — but not by U.S. agencies.
Instead, U.S. and European counterterror officials have told ProPublica in interviews that British intelligence learned of Headley's contact with al-Qaida operatives near Manchester, England, who were already under surveillance. Headley planned to meet with the extremists in hopes they would supply money, arms and personnel for the Denmark attack.
"Headley was an unknown until not long before his arrest," a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told ProPublica in 2010. "He came to light because of the British. They knew him only as 'David the American.' [The British] MI5 [security service] detected that he was in contact with a group in the U.K. that they were watching ... David had made direct contact with two of the main targets of the U.K. investigation."
On July 23, 2009, the FBI asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection analysts in Washington, D.C., for assistance identifying a suspect who would travel shortly from Chicago via Frankfurt to Manchester, according to U.S. officials interviewed in 2011. The tip described a suspected American associate of Lashkar or al-Qaida with only his first name, flight itinerary and the airline, officials said. The customs analysts identified Headley through their databases containing records of his previous travel and interviews by U.S. border inspectors.
Headley went on to Sweden and Denmark. Alerted by U.S. agencies, Danish intelligence officers followed him as he scouted targets in Copenhagen and tried to find sources for guns, according to court records and interviews with counterterror officials. In the United States, court-approved FBI surveillance continued after his return in August and until his arrest that October, according to counterterror officials and court records.
Officials in Clapper's office declined to comment on accounts of the British tip. But they said that information lawfully gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was integral to disrupting the attempted attacks on the Danish newspaper. This does not rule out other sources of information at other points in the investigation, the officials said.
Separately, the U.S. law enforcement official familiar with the case also said this week that a British communications intercept first detected Headley. Because the NSA works closely with its British counterparts, at that point U.S. intelligence agencies likely became involved in reviewing communications records to identify Headley and begin tracking his movements and associates, the official said.
"It was a communications intercept involving a bad guy in England," the law enforcement official said. "It was the Brits who passed us the info. Without knowing all the gritty technical details, [Clapper's depiction] definitely fits with my understanding."
The 30,000-page case file in Chicago remains wrapped in secrecy. Prosecutors have not said how investigators first detected Headley. Once he was under investigation by the Chicago field office of the FBI, agents intercepted his calls and emails and retrieved NSA intercepts of previous communications to build the case, according to court documents and ProPublica interviews. During questioning after his arrest, FBI agents confronted him with information from NSA intercepts as well as foreign intelligence agencies, the senior counterterror official said.
"What it may have allowed them to do is to go back and find emails and calls and map his movements," said Charles Swift, a lawyer for Rana, the Chicago accomplice.
Headley began cooperating after his arrest, turning over his computer and giving the FBI access to his email accounts. Swift said he is not aware of anything in the case to suggest that the disputed NSA programs identified Headley, though he acknowledged that defense lawyers were not shown the government application for a warrant to monitor Headley under FISA.
Swift called the case a dramatic example of the limits of the U.S. counterterror system because both high-tech and human resources failed to prevent the Mumbai attacks.
"You have to know what you are looking for and what you are looking at," Swift said. "Headley's the classic example. They missed Mumbai completely."
The Headley case is also problematic because of his murky past.
The convicted drug smuggler radicalized and joined Lashkar in Pakistan in the late 1990s while spying on Pakistani heroin traffickers as a paid informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration. His associates first warned federal agencies about his Islamic extremism days after the Sept. 11 attacks. Investigators questioned him in front of his DEA handlers in New York, and he was cleared.
U.S. prosecutors then made the unusual decision to end Headley's probation for a drug conviction three years early. He then hurried to Pakistan and began training in Lashkar terror camps. Although the DEA insists he was deactivated in early 2002, some U.S., European and Indian officials suspect that he remained an informant in some capacity and that the DEA or another agency sent him to Pakistan to spy on terrorists. Those officials believe his status as an operative or former informant may have deflected subsequent FBI inquiries.
The FBI received new tips in 2002 and in 2005 when Headley's wife in New York had him arrested for domestic violence and told counterterror investigators about his radicalism and training in Pakistan. Inquiries were conducted, but he was not interviewed or placed on a watch list, officials have said.
Headley was recruited in 2006 by ISI officers, who with Lashkar oversaw his missions, according to Headley's trial testimony and other court records.
In late 2007 and early 2008, another wife told U.S. embassy officials in Islamabad that Headley was a terrorist and a spy, describing his frequent trips to Mumbai and his stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. In fact, Headley was conducting meticulous surveillance on the Taj and other targets for an impending attack by a seaborne squad of gunmen.
Once again, U.S. agencies say they did not question or monitor him because the information from the wife was not specific enough.
Senior Indian officials believe the U.S. government did not need high-tech resources to spot Headley. They have alleged publicly that he was a U.S. double agent all along. U.S. officials strenuously deny that. They say Headley simply slipped through the cracks of a system in which overwhelmed agencies struggle to track threats and to communicate internally and with each other.
The final tip to authorities about Headley came from a family friend days after the Mumbai attacks. This time, FBI agents in Philadelphia questioned a cousin of Headley’s. The cousin lied, saying Headley was in Pakistan when he was actually at home in Chicago, according to trial testimony and court documents. The cousin alerted Headley about the FBI inquiry, but Headley went to Denmark as planned.
U.S. agencies did not find Headley or warn foreign counterparts about him in the first half of 2009 while he conducted surveillance in Denmark and India and met and communicated with ISI officers and known Lashkar and al-Qaida leaders.