Terrorism, Treason Confuse India’s Political Debate?
By Lazy Fly
“Indian opinions’ Unity in Diversity is touching new nadirs now. Deciding what acts constitute treason and terrorism is well nigh impossible,” the wife announced this morning at our domestic parliament – our home’s breakfast table handing me my first insipid, sugarless, tepid cup of tea.
Our parliament comprises 6 members – viz. the wife, son Dirk, daughter Diana, poor old me, the special invitee – the cleaning woman Gangubai and our non-human speaker – Babushka, the wise daughter of the world’s original talking dog – the eternal Bolshoi the Boxer. Like her late father, she passes remarks that are simultaneously preposterous, relevant, thought-provoking and sarcastic.
“Terrorism and treason – are reprehensible acts and everyone knows that much,” I said, taking a sip and grimaced at the total absence of taste in what seemed like distilled water.
“Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin Nalini Murugan spent roughly 11 hours outside the precincts of Vellore Central Prison a few days ago. She was attending her father’s funeral. Some fringe Tamil politicians offered last respects to the old man. The ‘paid’ last respects whipped up fissiparous thoughts aimed at dividing India on the basis of linguistic chauvinism. If Rajiv hadn’t been killed in 1991, he would have gone on to become PM again, as the Congress party formed the government then. The slaying of such a VVIP of a nation, in my opinion, constitutes treason as well. So where does the doubt arise?”
The daughter Diana asked the question as she shoved two slices of bread with lots of Amul Butter and Kisan Jam in between.
“The Supreme Court has clearly termed the 4 convicted ex-PM’s killers as terrorists. India’s President Pranab Mukherjee stamped his ‘final disapproval’ on the clamour for Rajiv killers’ release in July 2015. Nalini’s death penalty had been commuted to life sentence way back in 2000 at the recommendation of Sonia Gandhi. Usually, life convicts are released after spending 14 years in prison. Anyone can wish for freedom and that is not a crime,” the son Dirk opined, helping himself to a half-boiled egg, sunny side up.
“The Congress party’s stand in the whole thing – including the so-called assassination of Tamil Tiger Terrorist Prabhakaran is highly suspect to say the least. As per Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, a life sentence means spending the rest of one’s life-time in prison. Premature release is purely at the discretion of a state government. Concurrence of the centre will have to be obtained if the criminal has committed a grave crime of national and/or international ramifications. Tamil Nadu politics has seen more flip-flops on the Lankan Tamils’ imbroglio than the number of rubber-sandals sold in Mumbai’s little-Madras – Matunga. Nalini slammed the Congress party for its criticism of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as she granted permission for the parole on humanitarian grounds. All seven of us [sentenced for killing Rajiv Gandhi] are innocent. We didn’t commit any crime. Everybody knows that. Just because they call as convicts we don’t become convicts, Nalini said. Nalini is a card carrying member-moll of the terrorist organisation Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE] which clearly has links with Pakistan’s ISI. The attempts by TN regime to release the killers were stymied by the Supreme Court. If allowing Nalini to reignite the debate on Indian television channels worse, politicians paying homage to her dead ex-cop father Shankara Narayanan is the worst political Punch & Judy Show,” Babushka pointed out and began noisily slurping from her bowl of milk.
“You are neither a political commentator nor a constitutional expert, but a female dog blessed with the speech-faculty. Moreover, there is no law against politicians meeting paroled prisoners,” I said in total pique and washed part of my pride with what was supposed to be tea.
Babushka barked derisively.
“That is a stupid technicality vomited by jobless seedy lawyers seeking publicity. LTTE was or is the only militant group to assassinate two leaders in south Asia – our former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993. It is currently proscribed as a terrorist organisation by 32 countries, including United States, European Union and India. Sure, the group has support amongst some Tamils in Tamil Nadu, because of the common language denominator. Politicians in India meant to uphold the rule of law in Bharat cannot gallivant with proven, convicted criminals. Doing so is a shameful crime,” Babushka observed and continued her noisy licks from the bowl.
“There is no law in any part of the world that prevents politicians from meeting traitors. One Mumtaz Qadri assassinated Salman Tasser – a Pakistani politician on January 6 2011. Pakistan’s Supreme Court summarily dismissed his appeal against execution. But, politicians there continue to meet him in prison. Sure, Pakistan has different sets of laws applicable to different persons. The latest list of Specially Designated Nationals [SDNs] as per laws of the United States of America includes Dawood Ibrahim, Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed with bounties on their head.  They are roaming around freely in Karachi, Lahore and Muzaffarbad. Tasser once was an agent of the Inter-Services Intelligence and is believed to have introduced Sonia Gandhi to Rajiv in Cambridge. Let us also remember that Salman Tasser was the lover of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and they even have a son Aatish – who frequently travels to India and has written a book on Indo-Pak relations from a personal angle,” Diana, the daughter observed and poured a pint of black coffee into her tankard.
“Tavleen is a respected journalist in India. How can anyone know whether her affair wasn’t part of a spy operation – like the fiction novel Eye of the Needle penned by the famous Welsh author Ken Follett? Making baseless allegations is wrong,” I argued. I eyed the tea cup and decided to leave it alone.
“Four days after the slaying of Osama bin Laden, Aatish Tasser called Pakistan’s army a rogue that runs a shattered state. The same Tasser explained why his biological father Salman hated India in The Wall Street Journal. One of its famous sentences: In the absence of a true national identity, Pakistan defined itself by its opposition to India. As for the US role in Pakistan, there are very many unanswered questions. Osama Bin Laden was declared assassinated on May 1 2011 by President Obama. US journalist Mark Memmot reported that Laden had been laid low weeks before. Talking of Pakistan, terrorism and its Indian connection, I recall Maharashtra’s former Home Minister RR Patil and current BJP Minister Eknath Khadse – then Leader of Opposition – jointly visited Pakistani marauder-invader Ajmal Kasab in Arthur Road prison and asked him whether he was getting food to his liking. There are enough startling suggestions in the internet suggesting an unholy connection that Sonia has with Pakistan’s ISI and Russia’s KGB. The lines separating terrorists, their political backers in India and their motives are very, very blurred,” Babushka commented and began licking the last drops of milk in her bowl.
“Like the so-called experts featured on television debates, you are obfuscating. The question is not about the legal side as to who is a terrorist, traitor and who is not. That has been settled long ago. The question is political in nature. In so far as there is no law against a politician meeting a convicted criminal, no political party can be stopped from meeting the devil himself if it fetches votes. That, sadly, my little female dog, is legal,” I remarked.
Babushka barked sarcastically.
“I am not human and have no interest in you humans’ silly politics. I am only raising a logical issue. The motley politicians’ group that met Nalini comprised Thol Thirumavalavan – leader of Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi [Free Dalit Panthers’ Party], Seeman – Naam Tamizhar Katchi [Us-Tamils Party] and legislator-leader of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi [Human-friendly Peoples’ Party] MH Jawahirullah met Nalini under the guise of paying respects to thead old man who had no relevance in Tamil Nadu politics. The three different outfits are moving heaven and earth to increase their vote-share in order to bargain with one of four currently visible political fronts in Tamil Nadu – whose ensuing polls have trotted out a confusing picture.  The drowning dumbos tried to cluch this political straw. A crime is a crime – whichever label you attach to it. I will slightly corrupt the lines written by William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet – Act II, Scene II:
What are treason and terrorism?
Nor foot Nor arm
Nor any other part
Belonging to a man
Or be some other named creature
What is in a name?
That which we call terrorism or treason
By any other name
Would sound as
I am not only a talking female dog, but a well read one,” Babushka said.
“Egad! Now we have a female dog bitching about treason and terrorism quoting The Bard! You cannot corrupt the words of Shakespeare to further your silly views on terrorism, because – it was non-existent in his time,” I said in disgust.
At that point our charwoman Gangubai joined into the debate.
“For the ordinary Mumbaikar, these issues are of little value. For me, local news like that good boy Sanjay Dutt getting released from prison bringing home Rs. 440 after 42 months’ hard-labour in Yerawada Prison is more important than all this hifalutin stuff,” she said and began removing the plates and cups.
“Sanjay was sent to prison for getting a gun from someone involved in the 1993 serial bomb-blasts that shook Mumbai. The accused in that case – are suspected to be part of 26/11 as well. But they are roaming free in Mumbai – brazenly usurping property belonging to Mumbai’s Port Trust at the alleged behest of Dawood Ibrahim. Sanjay is man enough to be contrite since imprisonment. Are other so called pillars of this society – on whom I should be doing what dogs usually do to lamp posts – saying something as basic as that? Worse, the Mumbai Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation are in possession of evidence of serious wrongdoing that includes the sinking of naval submarine Sindhurakshak to Dawood Ibrahim in turn linked to the criminals haughtily strutting the streets of in the financial capital of India like some horrible Lord Hottentot! Watching Munna Bhai MBBS and its sequel of a film-star’s essay of a do-gooder rowdy is one thing, but, feeling the pinch of the law is another,” Babushka guffawed.
“You are no authority on the nuts and bolts of prison life or the day to day rough and tumble of film stars’ private or public lives. Some colleague came up with a photograph of Sanjay’s late father, the gentlemanly Sunil Dutt with Dawood Ibrahim the other day. That is the dirty side of politics,” I said in a dry, wry tone.
“The problem with you journalists is that you try to cross oranges with apples and say you are creating vegetable marrows. We were discussing what happened in Tamil Nadu and a terrorist traitor called Nalini,” the wife complained.
Surprisingly, Babushka came to my rescue.
“Let us look at the facts. India’s ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated during the 1991 parliamentary elections in Sriperumbudur – some 40 km off Chennai, Tamil Nadu state capital and India’s 4th largest metropolis. The murder triggered a sympathy vote that catapulted the Congress to power.  Its biggest beneficiaries were Sonia Gandhi – leader of the Congress and J Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK. The duo were alliance partners. Sonia began ruling India by proxy from then on till 1998, said Sharad Pawar, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party. Pawar began his outfit to keep Sonia out of power, but was part of her coalition government at the centre and in Maharashtra during UPA I and UPA II between 2004 and 2014! Sonia’s disliked flunkey Sitaram Kesri pulled down the regime of HD Deve Gowda in 1997 – apparently – over a raid conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation against the then Congress President’s physician. Senior journalist Inder Malhotra is of the opinion that Gowda regime’s fall was masterminded by Sonia herself. She propped up another Congress yes-man – Inder Kumar Gujral briefly – only to pull him down after a few months.  The ‘villain’ party of that moment – the DMK – became an ally of the BJP in 1999, but the same party joined the Sonia-led Congress-group in 2004 – to become part of UPA-I and UPA II editions. During the 2009 elections, cadres of a Tamil outfit whose name translates as the Free Panthers’ Party [VCK] beat up Congress workers in the latter party’s state headquarters in Chennai. Its leader Thirumavalavan claims to be the reincarnation of LTTE boss Prabhakaran – and the Lankan had admitted to his masterminding the Rajiv murder. Yet, the Congress helped Thirumavalavan win from TN’s Chidambaram reserve parliamentary constituency in 2009. I challenge you to dispute these facts,” Babushka averred.
“This is like one of those slanging matches between the Congress, BJP and some of the Tamil parties on a daily basis during Arnab Goswami’s shout-hour. However, he makes more sense than you do. He is probably more popular now than Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself because the bespectacled journalist bluntly reads the riot act to every politician, policeman and bureaucrat! You aren’t in his league and yet go on and on – citing facts – which you claim are indisputable,” I spat the words – but my voice was rather defensive.
“You are making as much sense as Rahul Gandhi does. The loud silence of his mother Sonia and sister Priyanka rankle right thinking people of India. The yet-to-be-disclosed reason for the latter lass’s day-long Vellore prison visit to meet with her father’s assassin Nalini in March 2008 makes lesser sense, but, none seems to be bothered. You humans are allowing your lives to metaphorically go to dogs because of your devil may care attitude. As a real dog, at least I have the option of going to other dogs to discuss issues dogging the animal world. Any day, that is a better option than this morning debates that seem to get us nowhere,” Babushka said and walked out of the house, with slow, deliberate steps. Her gait mocked at the lack of comprehension of us humans.
Excerpts from the SDN list concerning Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar [Source: US Federal List]:
EBRAHIM, Dawood (a.k.a. ANIS, Ibrahim Shaikh Mohd; a.k.a. AZIZ, Abdul Hamid Abdul; a.k.a. DILIP, Aziz; a.k.a. HASAN, Shaikh Daud; a.k.a. HASSAN, Dawood; a.k.a. IBRAHIM, Anis; a.k.a. IBRAHIM, Dawood; a.k.a. IBRAHIM, Dawood Sheik; a.k.a. KASKAR, Dawood Ibrahim; a.k.a. REHMAN, Shaikh Ismail Abdul; a.k.a. SABRI, Dawood; a.k.a. SAHEB, Amir; a.k.a. SETH, Iqbal), 617 CP Berar Society, Block 7-8, Karachi, Pakistan; House No. 37, Street 30, Phase V, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, Pakistan; White House, Al-Wassal Road, Jumeira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 33-36, Pakmodiya Street, Haji Musafirkhana, Dongri, Bombay, India; House No. 10, Hill Top Arcade, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, Pakistan; Moin Palace, 2nd Floor, Opp. Abdullah Shah Gazi Dargah, Clifton, Karachi, Pakistan; DOB 26 Dec 1955; alt. DOB 31 Dec 1955; POB Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, India; nationality India; citizen India; alt. citizen Pakistan; alt. citizen United Arab Emirates; Passport M-110522 (India) issued 13 Nov 1978; alt. Passport R- 841697 (India) issued 26 Nov 1981; alt. Passport A-333602 (India) issued 04 Jun 1985; alt. Passport A-501801 (India) issued 26 Jul 1985; alt. Passport P-537849 (India) issued 30 Jul 1979; alt. Passport K-560098 (India) issued 30 Jul 1975; alt. Passport V-57865 (India) issued 03 Oct 1983; alt. Passport G-866537 (Pakistan) issued 12 Aug 1991; alt. Passport G- 869537 (Pakistan); alt. Passport F-823692 (Yemen) issued 02 Sep 1989; alt. Passport A-717288 (United Arab Emirates) issued 18 Aug 1985 (individual) [SDNTK] [SDGT].
HAFIZ, Said Khan (a.k.a. AHMAD, Sayed; a.k.a. KHAN, Hafez Sayed; a.k.a. KHAN, Hafiz Saeed; a.k.a. KHAN, Hafiz Sa’id; a.k.a. KHAN, Hafiz Said; a.k.a. KHAN, Hafiz Said Muhammad; a.k.a. KHAN, Shaykh Hafidh Sa’id; a.k.a. KHAN, Wali Hafiz Sayid; a.k.a. SAEED, Hafiz; a.k.a. SA’ID, Hafiz); DOB 01 Jan 1976 to 31 Dec 1978; alt. DOB 01 Jan 1977 to 31 Dec 1979; POB Mamondzowi Village, Orakzai Agency, Pakistan; nationality Pakistan (individual) [SDGT].
AZHAR, Masud (a.k.a. ALVI, Mohammad Masood Azhar; a.k.a. ESAH, Wali Adam; a.k.a. ISAH, Wali Adam), 1260/108, Block N0.6-B, Kausar Colony, Model Town-B, Bahawalpur, Punjab Province, Pakistan; Lahore City, Lahore District, Punjab Province, Pakistan; DOB 10 Jul 1968; alt. DOB 10 Jun 1968; POB Bahawalpur, Punjab Province, Pakistan; nationality Pakistan; citizen Pakistan; Maulana (individual) [SDGT].
The AIADMK has a vote-share of roughly 32% and it remains virtually untouched. CM Jayalalithaa is willing to fling bones the way of those who opt to fall at her feet. If left with no alliance, the BJP leadership in the state would opt for this easy way out – outdoing what washed-up actor-politician Vijaykant did in 2011 – by contesting as an ally of the AIADMK and choosing to be leader of opposition. Being the ruling party at the centre and having allotted the Deputy Speaker’s post to the AIADMK nominee in the Lok Sabha, the BJP wouldn’t have too many qualms of joining the Amma bandwagon. Any and all of the flotsam and jetsam parties could be part of this group to get an odd constituency or two.
The DMK-Congress-led alliance – under ideal conditions could garner 26% of the popular vote – but that is highly unlikely. The DMK is a divided house – with party patriarch Karunanidhi’s elder rowdy son Alagiri is locked in a bitter power struggle with the DMK-heir apparent – Stalin. The Congress has more factions within than its numerical cadre strength.
Vijaykant wants to be projected and accepted as the next CM. It is generally believed that he has some 11% vote-share – making his outfit – the 3rd largest party in TN. Political parties are being bluntly told that they have a choice of accepting him as the CM or suffer the possibility of seeing Jaya as CM again.
The left parties – marooned in their rock-hard place amidst a choppy sea – seeing sinister swimming fins all round is trying to cobble up a fourth front that could play the same game as Vijaykant – and after the polls – take their chances of talking turkey with Amma – the likely winner.
In the last two weeks of campaigning, the Congress (I) had lost ground to the BJP and National Front. If all the constituencies had voted on May 20, the India today-MARG exit-cum-opinion poll showed that the Congress (I) would have succeeded in securing only 190 seats.
The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21 1991 resulted in a distinct swing in favour of the Congress (I).
Another significant fact is that the swing to the Congress (I) was twice as high in the rural areas than in the urban areas. Also, the Muslim community seemed to have been the most affected by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, showing a swing of more than 18 per cent to the Congress (I) in Phase 2 of the polling.
Gujral’s government was pulled down over the leaking of Jain Commission Report that exposed the conspiracy behind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Among those to be blamed was the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. The Congress demanded the ouster of DMK’s nominee Murasoli Maran from the Union Cabinet. Excerpts from Maran’s speech during the ensuing parliamentary debate: We are part of the United Front. We will stand and fall together. No one is going to ditch their colleagues for a few loaves of power. We have no reason to quit at all. All this is disinformation.
On November 28 1997, the Congress withdrew support to Gujral’s government.