The Indian Express – 30 years on, man held for crimes in 1984 anti-Sikh riots

Alok Singh

New Delhi-India, 1 December 2017. After 30 years of being on the run, Om Prakash (64), was arrested by Delhi Police from his village in Bihar on Wednesday. Prakash is a proclaimed offender in case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which erupted soon after the assassination of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

On November 2, 1984, when he was 33 years old, he had allegedly barged into a liquor store in the city’s Gole Market and committed vandalism, arson and theft.

“According to the FIR, registered in 1984, he was accompanied by 12 more persons, who were subsequently arrested one after the other by the then police team from Mandir Marg police station,” said a police officer.

A case under IPC sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 457 (lurking house-trespass or house-breaking by night in order to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 380 (theft in dwelling house) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) had been registered at Mandir Marg police station.

Police said a team from Mandir Marg police station, led by SI Jai Singh, ASI Inder Singh and head constable Vipul, tracked him down to his village in Chhapra in Bihar Wednesday.

Sources said in the 30 years, he kept changing his locations. He got married and has three children. Police said both his sons work in multinational companies.

Police said after the incident in 1984, all accused, including him, were arrested, but they got bail. Later, a chargesheet was filed and it went to court for trial.

“Prakash and his associates, Babu Singh and Raghunand, attended the initial hearings. But later, they jumped parole and fled Delhi. On March 28, 1987, a city court had declared them proclaimed offenders,” said the police source, adding that efforts are on to nab the other two.

30 years on, man held for crimes in 1984 anti-Sikh riots


The Indian Express – Afghan envoy visits ancestor’s grave in Sirhind: We feel at home, with a king of Afghanistan buried here

He found the tomb in a miserable state, with its walls scribbled-over and the floor covered with bird droppings

Adil Akhzer

Sirhind-Panjab-India, 24 November 2017. On a three-day tour in Punjab to “revitalise old relationship” with Afghanistan, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, was pained to see the shabby and dilapidated condition of his ancestor’s grave at Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

Shaida concluded his three-day tour of holding discussions with the government of Punjab and various business communities of the state on Thursday.

It was for the first time that he visited the grave of his ancestor, Zaman Shah Durrani, a former king of Afghanistan, now buried at a Dargah at Sirhind. He found the tomb in a miserable state, with its walls scribbled-over and the floor covered with bird droppings.

“I am really saddened to see the condition of the tomb, of very beloved king of Afghanistan (Zaman Shah),” Abdali told The Indian Express after offering prayers at an adjacent grave of a Sufi saint.

He said he was “overwhelmed” by the visit, and that he would make efforts to improve the tomb’s state. “This tomb belongs to Afghanistan… I am going to think about how to rebuild the tomb and will discuss with the relevant institutions or the authorities for that.”

Zaman, who died in Punjab in the eighteenth century, had taken asylum in the country. Abdali said India felt like a second home to Afghans. “My family is rooted to this place…We feel at home with even a king of Afghanistan being buried in Sirhind,” he said.

About wanting better relations with Punjab, he said: “Punjab and Afghanistan had old relationships in all respects. From trade to culture to all kinds of relationship including the Sirhind one…”

Soon, Abdali said, an MoU will be signed between Afghanistan and Punjab. “We are starting with the air trade corridor… an MOU is being signed for that. Amritsar is being connected to Afghanistan for business and travel,” he said.

The Indian Express – BJP leader Shiv Kumar, security guard shot dead in Greater Noida

According to TV reports, Shiv Kumar was in his car when the bikers reportedly drove up and fired shots at him

New Delhi, 16 November 2017. BJP leader Shiv Kumar and his security guard were shot dead by bike borne assailants in Greater Noida’s Bisrakh on Thursday.

Shiv Kumar was in his a white Fortuner car near Tigri village when the bikers fired shots at him. Kumar’s car lost balance and hit a girl near a divider. The girl was admitted to a hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

According to the police, the incident took place around 4 pm. “The BJP leader, Shiv Kumar, was in the car along with his driver and another person. Sharma and his driver Balli suffered multiple gun shot injuries and succumbed to them.

The third car passenger Rayees Pal has been admitted to GTB Hospital in Delhi with severe injuries. They had left from a school which is run by Kumar’s family,” said Prabhat Dixit, PRO, Gautam Buddha Nagar Police.

While the two bodies have been sent for postmortem examination, the medical report is still awaited. “Investigations are underway to ascertain the identity of the assailants. The only surviving victim, Rayees Pal, is not in a condition to talk,” Dixit further said.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Suniti Singh said initial investigation showed the motive behind the murder appeared to be personal. “But we can say more only after the investigation is completed. We are conducting raids to nab the criminals,” Singh said.

BJP leader Shiv Kumar, security guard shot dead in Greater Noida

The Indian Express – Amid clamour to save Delhi, many cities with worse air quality are forgotten

Analysis of the Central Pollution Control Board’s AQI bulletin archives has revealed that the air quality has clearly deteriorated across the northern-Gangetic plain.

Sowmiya Ashok

New Delhi-India, 10 November 2017. Worse than even Delhi, which recorded an air quality index of 448, the city of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, recorded an AQI of 500, the highest the scale can measure, this past Tuesday. The city’s air went from ‘very poor’ on Monday to ‘severe’ on Tuesday and remained severe for the next two days.

Though cities such as Moradabad and Howrah, which recorded an AQI of 451 on Tuesday, have had consistently worsening air this week, the Centre’s focus has entirely been on mitigating the poor air quality situation in Delhi-NCR alone.

Interestingly, both these cities have one monitoring station each while the Delhi-NCR region has 48 monitoring stations.

Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said there was no need to panic over the poor air quality in Delhi and he hoped the situation would return to normal in the “next few days.” He also said that the Centre was monitoring the situation and is considering a slew of steps to curb air pollution.

“We have asked the Delhi government to sprinkle water on roads or use mechanised ways for dust removal from roads,” he said. The MoEF also announced a seven-member committee, headed by the environment secretary, to look at short-term and long-term measures to improve the capital’s air.

Analysis of the Central Pollution Control Board’s AQI bulletin archives has revealed that the air quality has clearly deteriorated across the northern-Gangetic plain. Specifically, in places such as Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur and Muzzafarpur.

The extent of the smog and air pollution has also been captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite on November 7 which shows a “natural-colour image of haze and fog” blanketing the region. Further, the same sensor also shows an “aerosol optical depth” revealing “red-brown colours” that indicate skies thick with aerosol pollution.

A look at the air quality index for the period November 6 to November 9 shows that Ghaziabad and Noida showed elevated levels of air pollution on Monday, higher than Delhi which recorded an AQI of 354.

Over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, air quality was consistently poor in NCR areas such as Bhiwadi (ranged from 439 to 468), Faridabad (ranged from 409 to 482), Ghaziabad (ranged from 475 to 499), Noida (ranged from 407 to 469) and Gurgaon which touched 494 on Thursday.

Away from the NCR, Lucknow recorded an AQI of 430 on Wednesday and 468 on Thursday. Moradabad recorded an AQI of 500 on Tuesday, 439 on Wednesday and 414 on Thursday. Agra recorded an AQI of 449 on Thursday and Muzzafarpur recorded 454 on the AQI.

Amid clamour to save Delhi, many cities with worse air quality are forgotten

The Indian Express – Rohingya Muslims crisis: ‘Guru ka langar’ begins at Bangladesh-Myanmar border, target 35,000 meals per day

On the first day of the langar, Sikh volunteers served cooked rice and vegetables

Divya Goyal

Ludhiana, 14 September 2017. Three days after Sikh volunteers from Khalsa Aid (India) arrived at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to begin relief work for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, they finally got the go ahead from the Bangladesh government to start ‘Guru ka langar’ (community kitchen preparing and serving fresh hot meals) on Thursday.

The Khalsa Aid team, which is camping in the border town of Teknaf, told The Indian Express that the Bangladesh government finally gave all the clearances and permissions required to serve meals to the refugees. The team was initially distributing packed food items and water to the refugees.

On Thursday, the langar sewa began at a spot on Shahpuri Island where the refugees from Myanmar are landing after traveling for days in rickety boats.

Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone, Amarpreet Singh, managing director, India for Khalsa Aid, said, “We cooked and served the first langar meals here today. We had purchased raw materials like rice, vegetables and big utensils on Wednesday after getting required permissions from the government of Bangladesh.

The initial target is at least 35,000 meals per day. However seeing the increasing number of refugees here, we know it won’t be enough to feed all but we had to start somewhere.”

Seeing the ‘miserable state’ of the refugees, especially children who haven’t eaten for days, it was difficult for the team to decide from where langar should start, he added.

“We feared that there might be a stampede seeing food being served here. There are at least 3 lakh refugees here already. But a beginning had to be made though we cannot feed everyone here in a single day. People are in dire need of food here. Children are roaming and begging on roads for food. The condition continues to be miserable,” he said.

On the first day of the langar, Sikh volunteers served cooked rice and vegetables.

However, starting the community kitchen and making all preparations in the border town of Bangladesh, which continues to be flooded with Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, wasn’t easy as the team initially faced some hiccups.

“We went to local markets to purchase utensils and raw materials. But some shopkeepers inflated the rates and quoted double prices seeing that we are outsiders.

However many locals also helped us in making arrangements. We managed somehow. Attitude of the locals towards Rohingyas is varying at individual level. Some are really compassionate and trying to help them. They are even coming from far off areas to help them but then some are not. They are seeing them as burden on their country,” said Singh.

Before serving the meals, an ardaas (a prayer) was performed.

On Monday, The Indian Express first reported that a team of Sikh volunteers from India reached the Bangladesh-Myanmar border town Teknaf to start relief operations and provide food to the Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing Myanmar.

The team told The Indian Express that the “condition at the border was miserable to say the least” and that their first priority would be to “provide food” to as many persons as possible.

Meanwhile, the Khalsa Aid volunteers back home are organizing fundraisers for the langar sewa at Bangladesh border. Gursahib Singh, a volunteer in Ludhiana said, “The langar there can continue only if we have requisite funds.

We request people to donate for the sake of humanity. Please forget about religion barriers and think about the children who are sleeping with empty stomachs. They are also humans.”

Rohingya Muslims crisis: ‘Guru ka langar’ begins at Bangladesh-Myanmar border, target 35,000 meals per day

The Indian Express – Gurez Valley: Dard tribe’s last sanctuary and their fight for survival

The onslaught of modernisation and the partition has squeezed the Dard tribe to the remote Gurez valley, where they are struggling to save their Shina language and culture

Muzamil Jaleel

Srinagar-Jammu & Kashmir-India, 19 October 2017. Herodotus mentioned about them. Ancient Greek and Roman writers recorded their chronicles when they were at the zenith of their power and influence that extended from northern Afghanistan to central Tibet.

Dard Shin or Dard tribe once had their homeland spread across the valleys, tucked inside the great Himalayas at the edge of north Kashmir from Chitral and Yasin, across the Indus regions of Gilgit, Chilas and Bunji to Gurez valley.
Studying Kalhana’s Rajtarangni (river of kings), Kashmir’s 12th century chronicle, British historian Sir Aurel Stein remarked that the seat of Dards has not changed since the time of Herodotus.

The onslaught of modernization and finally the partition that sliced the Dard Shin homeland by a hostile Line of Control between India and Pakistan, this tribe squeezed to the remote and hidden Gurez valley in north Kashmir struggling to save their vanishing Shina language, their culture, traditions and a distinct identity.

Perhaps it is this physical isolation that also protected and preserved the environmental and cultural treasures of Gurez Valley that once stood on the Silk route connecting Kashmir to Kashgar (now Xingjian province of China). Today the last remnants of this unique ethnic group, the 25,000 Dard Shin people, is waging its final battle of survival.

Their small sanctuary in the hidden valley of Gurez is at the verge of being submerged by the dam of a hydro-power project and the entire tribe permanently uprooted from their ancient homeland.

In the new season of bonhomie, India and Pakistan are fast ironing out their differences on larger political dispute over Kashmir. The 330 MW Kishenganga hydro-electric power project is a little irritant that is being sorted out through a dialogue between technical experts of the two countries.

Ironically, the India-Pakistan dispute on this power project is water and thus the debate is limited to the contours of the Indus Water Treaty, a water sharing agreement between the neighbours signed in 1960. There is hardly any mention of the rights of these tribals, whose lives are at the alter of this developmental project.

There is no disagreement over the destruction of the captivating Gurez valley, which is also home to endangered snow leopard, hangul deer, barking deer, musk deer, black bear, markhor, ibex and marmot besides several exotic species of flowers and plants.

There is no debate over the vast archealogical treasure hidden in this valley that will be permanently inundated by the water of the dam.

The recent archealogical surveys in the neighbouring valleys of Gurez, across the LoC, have “uncovered hundreds of inscriptions in Kharoshthi, Brahmi, Hebrew, and Tibetan that provide insights into the origins of the Kashmiri people and the early history of Buddhism”. The last Council of Buddhism is believed to have been held in Kanzalwan in Gurez.

Then the ruins of ancient Sharda University too are buried in Gurez. Sir Walter Lawrence, the British Settlement Commissioner of Kashmir, who visited Gurez in 1894, called this valley “the most beautiful of Kashmir’s Margs, those beautiful stretches of turf which, ringed round with great forests, lie at an elevation of from 7,000 to 9,000 feet above the sea’’.

In his famous book, “Valley of Kashmir’’, Lawrence writes that “Gurez is a lovely valley of substantial length lying at an elevation of about 8,000 ft. above sea. The Kishenganga river flows through it, and on either side tower mountain scraps of indescribable grandeur. Perhaps one of the most beautiful scenes in the whole of Kashmir is the grove of huge poplars through which the traveler enters the Gurez valley’’.

And more than a century later, the awe-striking scenic beauty of Gurez, its forests and wildlife are literally unchanged. My first contact with Gurez valley and the Dard shin people came through the distinctive woolen skull caps which they wore while roaming the market in Bandipore, my home town. Gurez valley’s only physical link with the rest of the world is a 35 mile treacherous hilly road that connects it to Bandipore.

This road remains closed for almost six months every year, hidden under mounds of snow. So whenever the winter snow would melt, hordes of Dards would cross the Kanzalwan pass to arrive in Bandipore for shopping and other businesses.

They would wait till the road was opened for traffic. Those days only the One-Ton trucks would ply on the Gurez road and Bandipore had a few of them. A few drivers, considered brave on wheels, from Wudar neighbourhood had bought a bunch of discarded army trucks, painted them and decorated them like brides. They would ferry passengers and goods.

Then there were dozens of tales of adventure when villagers would track the mountains to carry salt slabs for their animals, which would go for grazing in the meadows across Kanzalwan every summer. There were no hotels, no guest houses thus the visitors from Gurez would be guests in villages across Bandipore. The Dards would come to our village as well and I still remember a few Shina words that I had picked up during our conversations.

Although it is years since that contact has broken, I still recall “Kacha bill (what is the time)’’. And now our future generation will only find about the Dards, their home in the lap of breathtaking Gurez valley and Shina only in the pages of history books.

While there is no support to stop the project from anybody, the only silver lining in this tragic story, however, is the resolve of the Dard Shin tribals and their leadership to resist the mass destruction of their only homeland. “The work on this project will start only on our dead bodies.

The government cannot decide the fate of our people without consulting us. Nobody has even talked to me about it,” Nazir Gurezi, who represents the Dard Shin constituency of Gurez in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative assembly, told me. “It is not just to build a power project. It is an issue of life and death for our entire tribe and our ancestral homeland.

This project will submerge our homes, dislocate us and will come as a death blow to our unique culture, our vanishing Shina language, our heritage.” Gurezi said that the entire tribe is united.

But he acknowledges that once India and Pakistan resolve their dispute over the water of Kishanganga, there hardly anything that can prevent the construction of the hydro-power project and the subsequent destruction of their lives and homeland. “We are a miniscule population. We will fight but I know it is a very difficult struggle,’’ he said.

The 330 MW Kishanganga hydro-electric power project, scheduled to be built in Gurez Valley, involves damming of Kishanganga or Neelam river and the proposed 103 metre reservoir will submerge most of the Gurez valley along with its 25 villages, six summer high altitude habitats for shepherds and eight camping sites.

The water of Kishanganga river will then be diverted through a 27 kilometre tunnel dug through the mountains to Bandipore where it will join the Wular lake and then Jehlum river. Kishanganga river currently meets Jehlum river at Muzaffarabad. The J&K government had earlier commissioned the project to a Swedish consortium SCANSKA but in 2000 it was handed over to National Hydo-electric Power Corporation (NHPC).

As per the plan, the J&K government is to acquire 7,703 Kanals of cultivated land, 7,869 Kanals of non-cultivated land and more than 400 Kanals of forest area. Five years ago, the Sub-divisional magistrate, Sopore, had even issued land acquisition notices to seven villages Badwan, Fakirpora, Wampora, Khandiyal, Mastan Khopri, Markote and Dawar.

In fact, the first phase of the would submerge the homes of around 10,000 tribals while the entire 25,000 Dard Shin tribe will lose its homeland till the completion of the project. The government remains very clear about its resolve to build the power project. Their approach is extremely simplistic.

They say that the Dard Shin tribe has to make a compromise and dislocate because the power project will bring prosperity. “They (Dards) have to be dislocated. It is essential. We will adjust them somewhere else,” then J&K Power minister Mohammad Sharief Niaz said in very clear terms.

When asked about the consequences of the project on this unique tribe, the environmental and other concerns, Niaz said that “if we (government) think in these terms, then we will have to shut down all our projects”. The project will bring prosperity is also highly disputed.

According to the agreement between the J&K government and the NHPC, that will construct the power project, the State will get only 12 per cent free electricity while the rest will be sold by the Corporation. The project might quench the thirst for electricity in New Delhi or Srinagar but the Dards have hardly anything to gain.

Though there is no doubt that their loss cannot be compensated by any material gains, the J&K government doesn’t shy from making tall claims. The government says that they have incorporated an “attractive relief and rehabilitation package’’ for the tribe in the project thus there should be no problems.

“There is no question of displacement of the tribe without a proper alternative for their rehabilitation,” Basharat Ahmad Dhar, J&K Commissioner Secretary, Power department said. “The Government will look for an alternate site, where a new colony with all the facilities like roads, hospitals, schools will be set up for them. Besides they will get a dislocation allowance and other benefits.”

The Dard shin tribals, however, say that they don’t agree that the government’s rehabilitation package will save them. “They (the government) didn’t even talk to us. I am an elected representative of the people of Gurez and I have no idea what is happening,’’ Nazir Gurezi told me.

“We are very clear. We will move the Supreme Court. We will come out on the roads to protest against our mass destruction’’. The subtle realization that they are going to lose their homeland and thus the unique identity, intrinsically tied to Gurez, has terrified the Dards. “Gurez valley is the last sanctuary not only for our people but our language as well.

Our tribe will die as soon as we are dislocated and permanently scattered across Kashmir,’’ Abdul Rasheed Mapnoo, a Dard who works in a government department told me categorically. “Gurez valley is the most beautiful part of Kashmir. It’s not just a home to our people but to hundreds of distinct plants, wildlife,’’ he said.

“The environment of Gurez, its forest and its water was protected because it is a hidden valley. We had hoped that the government will try to build it as a tourist resort but they are planning its total destruction’’. Mapnoo’s anger and frustration perhaps encompasses the helplessness of this small tribe.

“I am planning to go as soon as the road is reopened in June and take lots of pictures. I am sure once we are thrown out there will be no Dards left. We need to keep some memories for posterity,” he said.

Gurez Valley: Dard tribe’s last sanctuary and their fight for survival

The Indian Express – Its worker murdered, RSS urges Akal Takht to clear air on 2004 decree

Speaking to The Indian Express, Avtar Singh Shastri, Mahasachiv, Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, asked the Akal Takht to “end the misconception” on the 2004 directive to remove the hatred created by it.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 18 October 2017. Although the police have not named any suspects in Tuesday’s killing of a prominent RSS worker in Ludhiana, a top functionary of the RSS Sikh wing, Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, has said “misconceptions” about the RSS decision to observe the 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh combined with a “no-longer valid” 2004 directive against RSS by Akal Takht could be behind the killing.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Avtar Singh Shastri, Mahasachiv, Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, asked the Akal Takht to “end the misconception” on the 2004 directive to remove the hatred created by it.

“We have approached the Akal Takht many a time to end the misconception around the 2004 directive,” he said. On July 13, 2004, the Akal Takht issued a directive warning Sikhs about the activities of RSS and Rashtraia Sikh Sangat, which were both proactively involved in organising functions to mark the 400th anniversary of the first installation of the Guru Granth Sahib.

The Akal Takht asked Sikhs not to cooperate with the RSS in any function relating to the anniversary. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh told The Indian Express that the directive issued against RSS in 2004 remained valid.
However, asked if this could be the motive for the murder, the Jathedar said, “I do not know about murder and the question is not relevant.” Ravinder Gosain was shot dead outside his home Tuesday morning soon after he returned from the morning shakha.

The RSS is scheduled to hold a function to commemorate the 10th Sikh guru on October 25 in Delhi’s Talkatora stadium. Invitations have gone out to the jathedars of each of the five Takhts.

The head of the SGPC has also been invited. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is likely to attend this function. Avtar Singh, national general secretary of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, said the 2004 directive was “always misread” and that there was “always opportunity to end the unwanted hatred”.

“I am afraid that the hatred created against RSS with the misuse of directive against us could pollute mind of anyone and such hatred could be a reason behind murder of Gosain that we witnessed on Tuesday. So, there is need to clear the air on this,” he said, adding that he and his organisation had great respect for Akal Takht.

Giani Gurbachan Singh said he was still asking Sikhs to remain cautious of RSS. “There are some people who may be Sikh in appearance because they have grown long beard and wear turbans. But just growing your hair doesn’t make one Sikh until one follows teachings of Guru. Sikhs should be aware of such misguiding propaganda,” he said.

“There are people who always keep doing mischievous things to hurt the spirit of Sikhism. Be it RSS or Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, they are bound to hurt Sikhism.

So Sikhs should remain aware about such activities,” he said. “It is true that RSS approached Akal Takht twice to dissolve that directive. In response, Akal Takht had asked some questions from the RSS, which were never answered. I will never go on any invite by RSS and no Sikh should go,” the Jathedar said.

Its worker murdered, RSS urges Akal Takht to clear air on 2004 decree

The Indian Express – Alimuddin Ansari lynching case: Kin dies, witness unable to depose

Alimuddin was killed by a mob in Ramgarh on June 29 on the suspicion that he was carrying beef. More than a dozen people, including eight from the Bajrang Dal and local BJP unit, were arrested.

Ranchi, 13 October 2017. The wife of a witness in the Alimuddin Ansari lynching case died in an accident in Town police station area of Ramgarh district on Thursday. Alimuddin’s son also sustained minor injuries.

Alimuddin was killed by a mob in Ramgarh on June 29 on the suspicion that he was carrying beef. More than a dozen people, including eight from the Bajrang Dal and local BJP unit, were arrested.

Alimuddin’s brother Jalil Ansari, a witness in the murder case, had come to depose before the court on Thursday. He had forgotten his identity proof, so he asked his wife Julekha, aged around 50, and Alimuddin’s son Shahzad Ansari (22) to go home and get it. The accident occurred while they were on their way.

The police said that an unidentified bike hit the victim’s bike.

Alimuddin’s wife Mariam Khatoon claimed the accident could have been the handiwork of the “opposite side”. Jalil could not depose, she said.

Alimuddin Ansari lynching case: Kin dies, witness unable to depose

The Indian Express – Five linked to Sanatan Sanstha are key suspects in Gauri Lankesh’s murder

Johnson T A

Bengaluru, 6 October 2017. Five persons linked to the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha organisation, including four with Interpol red-corner notices against their names for their alleged involvement in a bomb blast in Madgaon in Goa in 2009, have emerged as key suspects in the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5.

The five missing persons are: Praveen Limkar, 34, from Kolhapur; Jayaprakash alias Anna, 45, from Mangalore; Sarang Akolkar, 38, from Pune; Rudra Patil, 37, from Sangli and Vinay Pawar, 32, from Satara.

They are among the key suspects being investigated by a Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka police as part of its probe into the murder of Lankesh.

The names of Rudra Patil, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar had earlier emerged in the CBI investigation into the 20 August 2013 murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, at Kolhapur in Maharashtra; in the Maharashtra SIT’s probe into the February 16, 2015 shooting of leftist thinker and rationalist Govind Pansare, 81 in Pune; and in the probe into the August 30, 2015 murder of Kannada scholar and researcher M M Kalburgi, 77, in Dharwad, Karnataka.

Hundreds from Lankesh’s home state march in capital for slain journalist

Limkar, Anna, Akolkar and Patil are also suspected to have played a major role in the October 19, 2009 bomb blast in Madgaon where two Sanatan Sanstha men were killed while transporting an IED that was to be planted at a Diwali program in Madgaon.

The National Investigation Agency has listed these four men linked to the Sanstha among its most wanted suspects and a red-corner notice has been issued against their names by the Interpol.

Sources familiar with the investigation into the four murders of rationalists and activists said that the cracking of the Gauri Lankesh murder case hinges on the ability of the Karnataka SIT to track down the five missing Sanstha men.

An advocate of the Sanatan Sanstha Sanjay Punalekar, at a recent press conference, claimed that some of its members may be absconding from the law because they were afraid of being wrongly accused in cases.

As first reported by The Indian Express, a forensic analysis of four empty cartridges and the four bullets fired to kill Lankesh had concluded that markings on the bullets and cartridges bear a close resemblance to those found on bullets and cartridges fired to kill Kalburgi.

This confirmed preliminary findings suggesting that Lankesh and scholar Kalburgi were probably shot with the same 7.65-mm pistol. The ballistic finding suggests that one common group is behind the two killings, say sources.

Findings from a comparison of the ballistic evidence from the Lankesh and Kalburgi cases adds to existing forensic evidence from the shooting of Pansare where the same 7.65-mm countrymade gun used in the Kalburgi murder was found to have been used.

Govind Pansare and his wife Uma Pansare were shot with five bullets from two 7.65-mm country made guns. A comparison of the ballistic evidence found in the Pansare case with that of evidence in the shooting of Dabholkar revealed that a second gun used to shoot the Pansares was the one that was used to kill Dabholkar.

Sources in the Karnataka SIT probing the Lankesh case said “good progress” has been achieved in the probe.

Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy also said this week that the SIT has conclusive evidence regarding the alleged perpetrators of Lankesh’s murder.

Five linked to Sanatan Sanstha are key suspects in Gauri Lankesh’s murder

The Indian Express – Pehlu Khan lynching case: All held in the case are out on bail

Pehlu Khan and four others were attacked by cow vigilantes in Alwar’s Behror on April 1, the mob accused them to be cattle smugglers, beat them up. Pehlu died two days later.

Hamza Khan

Jaipur, 29 September 2017. The Rajasthan High Court has granted bail to the last two persons held in the Pehlu Khan lynching case.

Earlier, three people were granted bail by the high court and two by a juvenile court. Two other accused are untraceable.

Bail was granted to Dayanand, 47, and Yogesh Kumar, 30, on September 18 “on the ground that their case was similar to others who were granted bail before them. It was no different. The high court accepted our plea and granted them bail,” said Harendra Singh, the advocate for the accused.

Pehlu and four others, among them his two sons, were returning from a cattle fair on Jaipur’s outskirts on April 1 and were headed to their homes in Haryana when they were attacked by cow vigilantes in Alwar’s Behror.

The mob, accusing them to be cattle smugglers, beat them up. Pehlu died two days later.

The first among the accused to be granted bail was Ravindra, on July 12, followed by Kaluram on August 9 and Vipin on August 31.

Arguing for Ravindra, former Bar Council of India Chairman Biri Singh Sinsinwar had said the petitioner wasn’t named in the FIR and he was seen at Jagwas crossing in a similar incident involving cow vigilantes an hour before Pehlu was lynched at Shaheed Ramkumar crossing, 1 km from Jagwas crossing.

Moreover, no incriminating recovery was made from Ravindra, his counsel said. Ravindra’s bail set the stage for the bail of Kaluram.

While senior advocate V R Bajwa, along with Amir Aziz and the public prosecutor had argued against Ravindra’s bail plea, Kaluram’s plea was opposed by Aziz and the public prosecutor.

Curiously, when it came to Vipin’s bail plea, no private lawyer could be roped in by Pehlu’s family. “When Vipin’s hearing was listed, I informed them (Pehlu family) about the case but they could not take it up through a lawyer”, Aziz said. “This made the bail process easier for petitioners”.

In the court, the petitioners argued that Vipin’s case was similar to Ravindra and Kaluram’s and he was given bail, but Aziz said the counsel for petitioner misled the court.

“Even if we assume that Ravindra and Kaluram were not on the spot, how can Vipin’s case be similar to them when a stick allegedly used in the assault was found with him,” Aziz said.

According to the chargesheet filed by Behror SHO Ramesh Sinsinwar, the police found a wooden stick in Vipin’s home that was hidden below a bed.

“The entire investigation has been botched by the police. Those who were named in the FIR were given a clean chit while those arrested are now being let out on bail as they are not named in the FIR,” Aziz said.

Pehlu Khan lynching case: All held in the case are out on bail