By- Sukla Sen
In order to make sense of the issue on the table, let us first try to arrange the events in (rough) chronological order
- Here’s a news report carried by the ToI, June 6 web edition, which informs:
<<Human rights activist Rona Jacob Wilson was arrested from South Delhi early on Wednesday [i.e. June 6 2018] in connection with the Koregaon violence in Maharashtra.>>
It further informs:
Pune police had located Wilson to a flat in Munirka area of south Delhi and sought Delhi Police’s assistance in nabbing him.
A raid was conducted in the early hours of Wednesday and the suspect was taken into custody.
Earlier, the police had conducted a search at Wilson’s house and seized documents and his laptop.
So, one, it was the Pune police which actually carried out the arrest (with the assistance of the Delhi police?).
Two, a raid had been carried earlier (when?) and also that morning.
In the earlier search, “documents and his laptop” were seized.
There’s no report of any seizure during the search on June 6, in the early hours.
In fact, some “documents and his laptop” had already been seized.
Now, let’s refer to a report carried by the Indian Express web edition dtd. June 7 (before the break of the dawn).
<<Earlier, the Pune city police had on April 17 conducted searches at the residence of Dhawale, Wilson, Gadling, Elgaar Parishad organizer Harshali Potdar, and also Pune-based Sagar Gorkhe, Deepak Dhengle, Ramesh Gaichor and his wife Jyoti Jagtap, all artists of “cultural group” Kabir Kala Manch (KKM).>>
It also informs:
<<Police sources said that following the forensic analysis of electronic and other evidence obtained during the search operations, four teams of Pune city police were dispatched to Mumbai, Delhi and Nagpur on Tuesday.>>
So, it was on April 17 that the laptop had been seized.
(There’s no report that any second/third laptop was seized from Rona Wilson’s place subsequently.)
The police, obviously, needs some time to examine the laptop, go through its contents and make sense of what have been found.
Bhima Koregaon violence had, let’s recall, sparked off on January 1 last and further spread statewide on the next day: <<Violent protests erupted in Mumbai, Pune, and other cities across Maharashtra on Tuesday (January 2), with protesters damaging buses, blocking roads and railway lines and forcing shops to shut, a day after unrest in Pune district during celebrations (on Jan. 1) to mark the bicentenary of a British-Peshwa war.>>
So, the first raid and seizure itself was carried out at the lapse of about three and a half months.
And, Rona Wilson would be arrested on June 6, about a month and twenty days after the (first) search and seizure.
- The India Today, on its website, on June 8 (early evening?), had reported:
<<India Today has accessed a letter describing a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a “Rajiv Gandhi type” incident, which a leading daily said was “gathered from material seized” from five people arrested for alleged Maoist links.>>
It does not, repeat not, talk of any police complaint.
The India Today website has since updated/amended the report.
It, no longer, talks of the India Today accessing the letter (on its own?).
The original version is, however, still available here: <https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/newsindia/plan-to-assassinate-narendra-modi-in-rajiv-gandhi-type-incident-intercepted/ar-AAynvcy>.
(May also ref.: <https://www.ucnews.in/news/Plan-to-assassinate-Narendra-Modi-in-Rajiv-Gandhi-type-incident-intercepted/797028166218754.html> and <https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1796151710462876&id=273506732727389>.)
Later, the same evening, the ToI website informed:
<<The Pune Police have intercepted an internal communication of the Maoists, which talks about the ultras planning to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the manner of a ‘Rajiv Gandhi-type incident’.
The letter was allegedly found in the house of one of the five persons arrested for “links” with the banned CPI (Maoist), the Pune Police told the court on Thursday (i.e. June 7) [emphasis added]. [That implies the letter was produced before the court on June 7 itself.]
The letter found in Rona Wilson’s house in Delhi [emphasis added] refers to the requirement of Rs 8 crore to procure M-4 rifle and four lakh rounds, and also mentions “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”.>>
The HT webiste, on the same day, presents an even clearer picture:
<<Pune police have allegedly recovered a letter mentioning a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi from a person arrested in connection with Maoist activities recently.
The document, a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times, was submitted in court by the Pune police on Thursday. …
Pune joint commissioner of police Ravindra Kadam said several virtual and physical documents were recovered during anti-Maoist raids conducted on April 17. A scanned copy of this particular letter was allegedly found on the laptop of Rona Wilson Jacob [emphasis added], one of the five people arrested on Wednesday in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence. The others taken into custody along with him were identified as Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut.
Addressing the court on Thursday, public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar said it was evident from the letter that the Maoists were planning to kill “someone” on the lines of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. “The sender of the letter mentions that the plot sounds suicidal, but the party must still deliberate on the proposal,” she added.>>
So, as per the official version, the letter was found in Rona Wilson’s laptop seized from his Delhi residence on April 17.
It’s a scanned copy (not a mail in the mailbox).
The said HT report further informs:
<<Home minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that the government is serious about the security of the Prime Minister. “We are always serious about the prime minister’s security. The Maoists are fighting a losing battle. [Emphasis added.] They are now active only in 10 districts in the country,” Singh told a press conference in Jammu after a two-day tour of Jammu and Kashmir.>>
That was, on June 8 – one day after producing the letter, in the court, which had been seized around seven weeks back. No talk of any enhanced security for the Prime Minister in view of “discovery” of the threat letter. On the contrary it was asserted that the government was always serious, implying that no additional seriousness/measure was called for. Not only that, the “Maoists are fighting a losing battle.” So, no need to worry.
(A facsimile of the “letter” is available in both the HT and ToI reports cited above. Also at <https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1004982450563440640/photo/1>. An even better copy, including the bottom edge, at <https://thewire.in/politics/modi-assassination-plot-letter-danger-democracy>.)
III. On June 10th, Sharad Pawar, the NCP supremo, while addressing a rally, in Pune, trashed the “letter” alleging “that the threat letter was being used to win people’s sympathy.”
The media picked it up.
The NDTV report further added:
<<Speaking at the NCP function in Pune, Mr Pawar raised doubts on the veracity of the threat letter. “I have spoken to a senior retired police officer who told me that when such letters come they do not go to the media but to security agencies which make sure that adequate security measures are taken [emphasis added],” he said.>>
- While the Union Home Minister had implicitly denied the need for any enhanced security for the Prime Minister in the wake of the alleged unearthing of the threat “letter”, only two days before on June 8, as referred to above (under point no. II), the very next day of Pawar making the point as regards the expected response from the government to a genuine “threat letter”, on June 11th Singh held a well publicised “review meeting”, as if to grapple with Pawar’s argument.
The ToI reported:
<<Union home minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the PM’s security on Monday in the backdrop of a communication between individuals linked to Maoist outfits revealing a plot to assassinate him. Sources told TOI the threat was being taken “very seriously” and the deliberations at the meeting focused on further strengthening the PM’s security apparatus to effectively neutralise all possible threats [emphasis added].>>
It further added:
“While the PM’s security is of the highest level, today’s meeting discussed if the standard operating procedures can be further tightened. An overview will be taken by the expert committee in this regard,” an MHA official said.
The meeting on Monday was attended by national security adviser Ajit Doval, home secretary Rajiv Gauba and Intelligence Bureau director Rajiv Jain. “The home minister directed that all necessary measures be taken in consultation with other agencies to suitably strengthen the PM’s security arrangements,” said an MHA release.
Just three days before, the Home Minister had virtually pooh-poohed any need for any enhanced security.
- The HT report cited above further informs:
<<In another development, sources in the state home department on Friday said Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis received two threat letters allegedly from Maoist groups over the last ten days.
The letters, which reached the chief minister’s office a week ago, have been handed over to the police. “They came after the recent anti-Naxal operations in Gadchiroli, in which 39 Maoists were killed. The letters have been handed over to the police for further investigation,” an official said, adding that both the documents mentioned the Gadchiroli encounters.>>
The comment on the claim by the BJP’s most major alliance partner in the state is quite interesting:
<<The Shiv Sena on Monday called the assassination plot against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis “a thrilling horror story” and said such threats have the tendency to surface ahead of elections.>>
- What is of real salience here is the fact that an alleged threat to the life of the Prime Minister of India is, even after public disclosure of the threat (contrary to usual practice?), is still being handled by the Pune police.
It remains to be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which was brought into being, in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008, specifically “to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states” (ref.: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Investigation_Agency>).
There’s, as yet, not even any suggestion to that effect.
Coming on top of the flip-flop of the Union Home Minister on the need for enhanced security for the Prime Minister in the wake Sharad Pawar’s well-publicised comment, cited above, it raises serious doubts as regards the genuineness of the “letter”.
It raises the very relevant question whether the “letter” is just a dirty trick, only a “plant”, by the concerned police department, aiming at too many birds with a single stone.
Of relevance in this context:
<<“All this stirs up suspicions about the authenticity of the letter. According to me, the letter is nothing but a publicity stunt by the Police Department,” he (Prakash Ambedkar) said [on June 13?].
He said a threat letter to a prime minister has never been publicised this way in independent India. “If there is a threat to PM, then increase his security from seven to 14 layers,” he said.>>
- It is in this context, it’s necessary to take a careful look into the alleged “letter”.
- The “letter” is addressed to one “Comrade Prakash”.
One doesn’t know who this “Comrade Prakash” is.
But that’s quite unexceptional.
One, not too many leaders/activists of the CPI (Maoist), being a banned and underground organisation, are in public gaze.
Two, more importantly, even a lay person would assume that such letters, communicating a high conspiracy, would refer to only code names, and not the real ones.
That must be the very basic ground rule.
Even then, Prakash Ambedkar was obliged to deny, in response to a specific query, that he’s not the “Prakash” mentioned therein (ref.: the Hindu report, op. cit.).
No, Prakash Karat is not known to have issued any such denial, as yet!
- Surprise of surprise!
The very opening sentence mentions two names: “Arun, Vernon”.
Incidentally, Arun Fereira and Vernon Gonsalves, both from Mumbai, had been arrested, roughly around the same time (may ref. a comment jointly penned by them at <https://www.dailyo.in/politics/bhima-koregaon-probe-death-threats-to-pm-fake-political-narrative-sinister-plots-by-maoists/story/1/24769.html>), and jailed in the past, being kept in the Nagpur jail, for being activists of the CPI (Maoist).
The former was, eventually acquitted.
The latter served jail term and got released thereafter.
Both are known and exposed, must be under the police scanner.
Arun is, of course, a common name.
But, Vernon is, definitely, not.
And, when these two names are put together, it becomes highly improbable that “Arun” stands for “Arun Sanyal”, or whatever, and “Vernon” for “Vernon D’Mello”.
So, the use of real names, that too of two already exposed and pretty well known to the police, and public, is definitely a strong clue (as regards the genuineness of the “letter).
Then, the letter talks of one “Bijoy Da”.
Apparently, it’s a code name.
In fact, it is.
But, the code is very well broken. And, it’s pretty much in the public domain.
It refers to one Narayan Sanyal, an ideologue and top rung leader, belonging to the first generation, who had been arrested back in 2005 and would be later released in 2014, because of failing health (ref.: <https://www.hindustantimes.com/kolkata/top-maoist-ideologue-narayan-sanyal-passes-away-in-kolkata/story-WDxSG8Ed3hgC6JQl0iUdwJ.html>). “(P)assed away in a south Kolkata hospital on April 17, 2017. He was in his early 80s and was suffering from cancer.” (Ref.: <http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/maoist/data_sheets/Central_level_leaders_CPI-Maoist.htm>.)
There’s a litany of praise about the leader who had deceased just the previous day (as per the day of writing that the “letter” indicated at the bottom: <https://thewire.in/politics/modi-assassination-plot-letter-danger-democracy>).
Then it refers to “Com. Saibaba”.
Again, a very well-known name. In jail. Suffering from severe health problems and 90% disabilites.
Then it refers to one “Prashant”. It tells us that the “Gadchirili court” has helped contain his rebellion against Saibaba. That raises the possibility that this “Prashant” is one Prashant Rahi. (Ref.: <<A district court in Gadchiroli Tuesday sentenced wheelchair-bound Delhi University professor G N Saibaba and four others to life imprisonment … The others who were handed life terms are Hem Mishra, Prashant Rahi, Mahesh Tirki and Pandu Narote.>> at <https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gadchiroli-court-says-du-professor-g-saibaba-guilty-of-having-links-with-maoists-4558336/>.) But there’s also another Prashant (Bose), again a real name, who’s, reportedly, the no. 2 in the organisation. (Ref.: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prashant_Bose>.)
Now, a code name is used: “HB”.
It is laid out therein that this “HB” is entrusted with the responsibility to mobilise public opinion and take other necessary measures to facilitate release of the CPI (Maoist) prisoners, including Saibaba.
So, it could very well be just an additional attempt to tarnish those speaking in defence of the due legal rights of these prisoners, labelled as Maoists, rightly or wrongly.
No point, at this time, trying to hazard a guess who this “HB” is.
Maybe it’s just to make the point that the “letter” has (also) used code names, as it is very much expected to.
The letter goes on to cite more names – Com. Ashok B, Amit B, Seema and Sudhir, who were obviously at large, at its real or pretended time of writing. And, then, Com. Siraj, Vishnu and Com. Basanta, Com. Kisan.
Then the letter, at the fag end of this same first paragraph brings up, rather abruptly, a very crucial issue: “[our] requirement of [Rs.?] 8Cr for annual supply of M4’s [rifles?] with 400000 rounds [of ammunitions?]”.
Com. Prakash is asked, at the very end of the same para: “Please convey your decision.”
So, Com. Prakash is, apparently, to take a decision on providing Rs. 8 crore and act accordingly.
Quite a big guy!
The next para would hint that he’s a member of the Politburo (PB).
Then follows the next, and last, para.
The crux is: “(A few senior) comrades [one named as Com. Kisan] have proposed concrete steps to end Modi-raj. We are thinking along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi type incident [emphasis added]. … Targeting his road-shows could be an effective strategy.”
(Incidentally, “Kisan” is one of the aliases used by Prashanta Bose, as per the wiki site cited above, who’s alleged to be following an egoistic agenda and have had revolted against Saibaba.)
The letter ends with the writer signing off as: “R”.
And, the date indicated as: “18/04/17”.
(Ref.: The Wire comment by Prem Shankar Jha, op. cit.)
That’s the “letter” what had been tweeted by the ANI, on the intervening night between June 7 and 8 – 12:04 AM, 8 Jun 2018.
This would be picked up by the MSM outlets later in the late evening.
VII. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
What the MSM print outlets dared not to do was picked up by a news portal, known for disseminating fake news on behalf and at the behest of the Sangh Brigade.
It presents, on June 7 2018 itself, an entirely different 2-page letter, addressed to “Dear Comrade Rona”, no mistake.
It names names, and lots of them. (And also provides some phone numbers.)
No abbreviations or the likes, except for the one signing the letter, Com. M, on Jan. 2 2018.
Way more direct, explosive and incriminating.
What this “letter” lays out is rather succinctly summarised by the news portal as under:
<<Excerpt 1: Whatever legal and financial aide (sic) that is required for the violence, the Congress is ready to provide through Jignesh Mevani.
Excerpt 2: Dalit sentiments are against Brahmin centred agenda of BJP/RSS, This should be converted into large scale mobilization and CHAOS.
Excerpt 3: Comrade Jignesh and Comrade Umar are young fighters of our revolution and with strong support from Comrade Prakash Ambedkar, we can foresee the outcome of their efforts in consolidating Dalit agitation across India in few years.
Excerpt 4: Last year in July August, higher committee provide two rounds of funds to Comrade Sudhir to consolidate Dalit struggle and agitation. Comrade Shoma and Surendra have authority to provide more funds for future programs.
Excerpt 5: The Bhima Koregaon violence has been very effective. The death of the youth must be exploited to prepare future agitation and propaganda material
Excerpt 6: We must keep up the pressure through simultaneous protest programs across many states, it will undoubtedly help take down Modi government in 2019>>
So, the focus here, to a very large extent, shifts to the main opposition party, the Congress.
(The interpretations/comments, that immediately follow, bring that out with knife-edge sharpness.
The very opening sentence posits: <<This shocking evidence shows how Congress used Dalits for their dirty anti National game to divide India and incite violence every where (sic).>>
It alleges: <<Terrorists/Maoists hold guns and kill people, where as (sic) Congress is sponsoring and helping the same people buy guns.>>
It claims: <<Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi … are obligated to come and answer the people of the country as to what was their connection with Maoist and terrorists in Bhima Koregaon violence.>>
And, the rant goes on and on.)
Two, the Congress, no individual is named – it’s the organisation as a whole, Jignesh Mevani, Umar Khalid, Prakash Ambedkar, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and many more are all named as actors in the nefarious conspiracy.
As it appears, this is the “letter” which had been used, earlier that day, by the Times Now TV channel, reportedly, the most popular of its kind.
And, with the very same thrust.
Just one stone, in this case the purported “letter”, is aimed at killing, or at least seriously maiming, too many birds.
That’s truly remarkable.
VIII. As usual, the media trial is conducted, based on selective “leaks” while the accused are, reportedly, denied access to the documents based on which the complaints have been filed.
<<These so-called letters, which have been refused to the defence lawyers of those arrested, are being freely “leaked” and being read out on live television. The sole purpose seems to be to whip up a false narrative, favourable to the current regime. Sidetracking the demands of the Dalit movements to punish the Hindutva leaders and the organisations responsible for the attacks of January 1, 2018 on the congregation at Bhima Koregaon can be another probable purpose.>>
(Ref.: The ‘daily O’ comment, op. cit.)
By the time the court trial is over and the court delivers its verdict, it’d be politically rendered rather pointless, because of the raucous media trials already carried out.
- In this context, one has also to keep in mind the established track record of the current regime.
Two instances are very instructive.
- On Dec. 10 2017, at the very closing phase of the last Gujarat assembly poll campaign, in a public rally, the Indian Prime Minister himself made the sensational charge of a Pak conspiracy to install Ahmed Patel, a Congress leader from South Gujarat, as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in collaboration with his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, the previous Vice President of the country, Hamid Ansari and a few others. (Ref.: <https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/why-does-pakistan-army-ex-dg-want-ahmed-patel-as-gujarat-cm-narendra-modi/articleshow/62008106.cms>.)
Just two days back, the media had gone agog with a report that a mystery poster “has emerged in Surat just couple of days before the first phase of Gujarat elections in support of Congress. It urges Muslims to unite and give vote to the Congress party, so that senior leader Ahmed Patel can become the ‘Wazir-e-Alam’ of Gujarat. So essentially, the poster claims that Ahmed Patel can be the Chief Minister of the state.” (Ref., e.g.: <http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-poster-in-surat-claims-ahmed-patel-to-be-made-wazir-e-alam-of-gujarat-cong-leader-calls-it-fake-2565762>.)
The report further added:
<<As soon as the news broke, Ahmed Patel issued a clarification on Twitter. He said that it’s a fake poster and he doesn’t have any aspiration of becoming the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He also blamed BJP for trying to mislead people. He tweeted, “Putting up fake posters and orchestrating a rumour campaign shows the utter desperation of the BJP. Fearing defeat, do they have to rely on such dirty tricks? I have never ever been a candidate for CM and will never, ever be.”>>
This, evidently, lent a ring of credibility to the charge that would be hurled by the Prime Minister, whose credibility level is otherwise not too high, two days thereafter.
The charge would be strongly refuted by those adversely affected.
The government could come up with no proof to substantiate the charge.
Faced with the determined Congress opposition, the Finance Minister and the leader of the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, on behalf of the government, retracted the charge on the floor of the parliament: <<“PM in his speeches didn’t question, nor meant to question the commitment to this nation of either former PM Manmohan Singh or Former VP Hamid Ansari, any such perception is erroneous, we hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India,” said senior BJP leader and Union minister Arun Jaitley today in the Rajya Sabha.>> (Ref.: <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-didnt-mean-to-question-manmohan-singhs-commitment-to-india-says-njps-arun-jaitley-in-rs/articleshow/62266068.cms>. Also, for two juxtaposed short video clips of the PM’s speech and the FM’s retraction: <https://twitter.com/officeofrg/status/946038581306441728?lang=en>)
But that’d come only on December 27.
By that time the Gujarat poll had already been well over, voters voting with the conspiracy charge on their mind, results declared.
So, the purpose very well served.
- The other (older) incident relates to India’s claim of “surgical strikes” inside Pakistan held territory across the LoC.
On Sept 29 2016, Lt. General Ranbir Singh, Director General Military Operations (DGMO), Indian Army, made an announcement on behalf of the Indian Army (and the Union Government) claiming “surgical strikes” across the LoC, hitting the “launchpads” of the “terrorists”. (Ref.: <https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-carried-out-surgical-strike-across-loc-inflicted-damage-on-terrorists-army/story-s0mbwkNxTGpfowxMK9lxLI.html> and <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/world/asia/kashmir-india-pakistan.html>.)
This claim of “surgical strikes” came following a devastating attack by “fidayeen militants” from across the border on an Indian Army base in Uri on the previous Septmber 18, killing 18 Army jawans (ref.: <http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/18-jawans-killed-in-pre-dawn-strike-at-Uri/article14988716.ece>). “It is the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades.” (Ref.: <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-37399969>.)
So, the preceding Uri suicide attack, which seriously threatened to make a very big dent in the carefully constructed 56″ image of Modi, the Prime Minister, was the driver for the claimed “surgical strikes”.
Quite surprisingly, Pakistan instead of responding in a belligerent manner, as it routinely does in case of alleged ceasefire violations by India, causing grievous harm to lives and properties on this side of the LoC, just dismissed the claim offhand, albeit with a stern warning, from an anonymous “senior Pakistani security official”, “that Pakistan could use tactical nuclear weapons in self-defense if India initiates a war” and a “surgical strike” would be considered just that. (Ref.: The NYT report, op. cit.)
An official spokesperson from Pakistan claimed:
<<“There had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is [an] existential phenomenon,” said an Inter-Services Public Relations statement released shortly after the Indian director-general of military operations held a press conference making claims about surgical strikes.
“The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists’ bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by India to create false effects,” the Pakistani military said in a statement.
“This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is fabrication of truth.”>>
Soon thereafter, “Pakistani military took local and foreign journalists on a rare visit to forward locations along the Line of Control to debunk the myth of Indian surgical strikes.” (Ref: <https://tribune.com.pk/story/1192133/surgical-strikes-journalists-flown-loc-debunk-indian-myth/>.)
The report, dtd. October 2, further claimed:
<<While India is reluctant to share details or evidence of its trumpeted strikes, Pakistan Army took the journalists to some of the sectors where the Indian military claimed special forces had decimated perceived ‘launch pads of terrorists’. “No such incident took place nor will we allow any such incident to happen in future,” Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), told the visiting journalists. “If the adversary attempted so, it will be responded with an ever stronger force,” he added.
The journalists were taken to mainly two spots of Boxor Formation and Hotspring Formation out of the 190-kilometre stretch of the LoC, where India claimed it[s] forces had carried out the so-called surgical strikes. At both locations, which are about 50 kilometres apart, no signs of destruction or casualties were found except the two soldiers, who had been killed – one each at the two formations – due to unprovoked firing by Indian forces. Besides, nine soldiers who have since recovered from injuries and returned to their respective duties.
… The journalists represented international media outlets, including CNN, BBC, VOA, Reuters, AP, AFP, News Week and BBC Urdu Service [emphasis added].>>
The NYT, apparently, in the immediate wake of this above-referred conducted trip, reported:
<<Schools have remained open. Grocery stores were serving customers, and buses moved slowly on patchy, winding roads along the hilly terrain. As the afternoon sun sank behind the hills, several women could be seen working in the fields, cutting grass and herding cattle.>>
And, that was not the only snag.
During the question-answer session at the end of the ‘Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General’, on Sept. 30 2016, the Spokesman, in response to questions as regards the veracity of the Indian claim of “surgical strikes”, informed:
<<What I’m saying is that UNMOGIP [United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan] has not directly observed any of the… any firing. They’re obviously aware of the reports of these presumed violations, and they’re talking to the relevant… to the concerned authorities.>>
India, of course, would duly respond in a belligerent manner:
<<(India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed ) Akbaruddin said the “facts on the ground do not change whether somebody acknowledges or not. Facts are facts, we presented the facts and that’s where we stand.”>>
But, that doesn’t change the UN Spokesperson’s testimony either.
Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, during the same time, at a press meet on October 2 (2016):
<<Responding to a query [obviously arising out of emphatic Pakistani denial and other contrary testimonies] on whether India would release the video of army’s operation as Pakistan has questioned the Indian claims, Rajnath Singh told reporters to ‘just wait and watch’.>>
It’s noteworthy that till today any such video footage remains to be released despite the Home Minister’s enigmatic response.
The release of such footages, by both the sides, is though nothing too uncommon.
Ref.: <https://indianexpress.com/article/india/strong-retaliation-to-ceasefire-violations-bsf-destroys-pakistan-firing-positions-fuel-dump-5034966/>, <https://scroll.in/latest/839632/pakistan-army-releases-video-claiming-destruction-of-indian-posts-along-loc>.
As the armed forces, in India, as also elsewhere, are considered a holy cow, never mind numerous scandals doing rounds – extending all the way from the ones relating to mega defence deals involving top rung officers to sundry corruption cases, e.g. related to army canteens, and periodic stories of “moral turpitude”, the claim, not too compelling on the face of it, having been lodged via an Army spokesman could easily evade tough questioning from within the country.
Even a hint resembling that was promptly labelled as antinational:
<<(Question:) Do you think by questioning the Indian Army, these politicians are taking an anti-national stance?
(Answer by a former Army Chief, Shankar Roy Chowdhury:) Of course. I am also saying it is treachery.>>
That’s quite instructive on how even a fake story can be (or at least attempted to be) placed beyond the pale of any rational, and democratic, scrutiny by putting to use specific organ(s) of the state.
- Now, coming back to the original issue, the charge of a conspiracy to assassinate an incumbent Prime Minister of the country is a too serious one.
The basis of the charge is a “seized letter” from the laptop of one of the apprehended, allegedly connected with an entirely different sort of crime – Bhima-Koregaon violence.
And, then, there are two entirely different letters.
One really doesn’t know for certain, as yet, which one is the “official” one.
Both, incidentally, appear to be too good, from the point of view of the incumbent regime, to be true.
The second one, even more so.
And, most interestingly, such a serious charge is being, till now, handled by the local police – Pune police, in the instant case, and not the NIA, the specialised agency brought into being specifically for handling such cases.
Lastly, the track record of this regime.
Particularly the, already admitted, fake charge of treason hurled by the incumbent Prime Minister against his predecessor and the previous Vice President of the country just to garner some extra votes in a mid-sized state poll.
That should offer us a fair idea of what this regime is capable of doing when faced with the prospect of a tough general election.
So, it’s time to sit up.
Otherwise, it’d be too late.
17 06 201