An opposite of what a honorable soldier is expected to be

       A rogue soldier and a rogue general who cheated his way to be a president of Pakistan, ditched all his friends, lied without a sense of shame.

     He acted in a most unsoldierly manner when he plotted the Kargil Fiasco, depriving the gallant dead soldiers of Pakistan right to a decent burial as war heroes.

      He cheated the people of Pakistan, dismissed a government elected by the people of Pakistan.He cheated the government of  of India and also cheated the US administration.

     The US administration was willing to be cheated. Indian Prime Minister was willing to be cheated .  No one need weep for them.

      But the hundreds of lives lost on the Kargil, Afganistan, and Baluchistan.

      He was an avid sympathiser and supported of  terrorists. He was also the bosom pal of the CIA.

EXtracts from Indian Express of 30 April 13

 ‘Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was today sent to judicial custody for a fortnight by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.’

         ‘The court in Rawalpindi had said at the last hearing that Musharraf should be produced for today’s hearing but he was not presented before the judge for security reasons, said chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali of the Federal Investigation Agency.’

           ‘The FIA’s joint investigation team had completed its investigation against Musharraf and gathered “solid evidence” that “directly connects the accused with the commission of the offences with which he has been charged”, Ali said. “Musharraf has tried to shift liability and responsibility on others but there is solid evidence which proves he is guilty,” he said.’

        ‘Musharraf returned to Pakistan on March 24 after a nearly] four-year long self imposed exile abroad to contest the May 11 general elections. However, Pakistani authorities disqualified him from contesting the election, effectively putting an end to his ambitions for a political comeback.’




Says the grand mufti of J&K though his daughter-in-law is a scientist working in Abu Dhabi

Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN


    The original job of Jammu and Kashmir’s state-backed Mufti Azam (Grand Priest) Bashir-u-Din was to confirm moon sightings before Eid and Bakrid. That was till a couple of years ago. Now Bashir-u-Din is known more for his fatwas, the latest of which declared that the state’s first all-girl band, Pargaash, is “un-Islamic”.
The fatwa earned him admiration as well as hatred in the cyber sphere depending on which side of the debate you were on. Pargaash has called it quits and the Mufti is unrepentant and ecstatic. “I am glad the girls have abandoned the band. We cannot allow our daughters to get exploited by the Western culture,” he says on phone from his home in Soura on the outskirts of Srinagar. “There are so many other decent fields for girls to excel in. I have never met them but was shown the videos and thought this needed to be stopped.”
In his mid-70s, Bashir-u-Din says he was appointed Grand Mufti by late Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, the state’s last prime minister in 1960. A third generation mufti, neither Bashir-u-Din’s father Kawam-u-Din nor grandfather Jalal-u-Din ever issued fatwas, though they were held in reverence. But with a Masters degree in Arabic from the Aligarh Muslim University and the knowledge of Islam — which he says he received at a local madrassa in Srinagar — Bashir-u-Din has taken on the task of righting many “wrongs” in society.
Why did he oppose the all girl-rock band? “According to Islam, a woman’s preferred place is her home. She should step out or do a job only when it is essential,” he says. This theory had been stated earlier too in a fatwa issued by Darul Uloom in Deoband, an institution that many now jokingly refer to as India’s “fatwa factory”. Incidentally, the mufti’s own daughter-in-law, Dr Neelofar Ali, works as a scientist in Abu Dhabi.
Bashir-u-Din surprised many when, in 2011, he appointed himself the chief of the self-styled Supreme Court of Islamic Shariat. “No one had heard of this post in the Valley before he floated it and started using it on his letterhead,” recalls a local journalist who has been following his pronouncements over the years. The mufti stunned everyone by appointing his son Nasirul-Islam as his successor in 2000. Islam had lived for years in Abu Dhabi where he is reported to have business interests and a legal consultancy job. He was an unlikely candidate for the Grand Mufti’s job.
Though J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah criticized the mufti, critics allege that it was at his government’s behest that the mufti issued a fatwa against stone-pelting in the Valley. The separatists alleged that the mufti was doing the government’s bidding. “I am doing only Allah’s bidding. I am not on government’s pay-roll. You journalists are out to malign me,” he says and hangs up.
The Grand Mufti first made news when he issued a fatwa in 2007 against Ghulam Nabi Azad, then Jammu & Kashmir’s chief minister. When Azad had asked people to emulate Mahatma Gandhi, the mufti, through a fatwa, declared this “un-Islamic”.
He has since targeted many, including four Christian pastors allegedly involved in conversions in the Valley. The pastors denied the charge.
Last year, he asked Americans to leave the valley after an anti-Prophet video angered Muslims across the world. “I didn’t ask all Christians and Americans to leave the valley. I have enough evidence to prove that a few Christian priests are luring Muslim youth in the Valley to Christianity,” he says.

Cartoonist Jailed by Congress Govt in Maharashtra

Maharashtra Government  drags its feet over Aseem sedition charge

Sanjeev Shivadekar TNN

Mumbai: Nearly a week after its announcement to seek legal opinion on whether sedition charges should be maintained or withdrawn against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, the home department is yet to forward a formal proposal to the law department.

      According to senior Mantralaya official, the law and judiciary department till Saturday had not received any formal communication from the home department on the Trivedi row. “Our department does not give verbal opinion. We give opinion only when we receive any proposal from the government,” a senior official attached to law and judiciary department said.

      “In such a crucial matter too, the government has not moved a proposal within a week. This shows how government’s approach is in on the entire Trivedi issue,” the official added.

     Following the controversy over the cartoons drawn by Trivedi and the police slapping sedition charges against him, state home minister R R Patil on September 11 stated that his department is reviewing the case and legal opinion from the law and judiciary department is being sought.

        When asked about the law and judiciary department’s opinion on the controversy, the official said, “We have not received the file asking for legal opinion, hence it would not be appropriate to comment on the issue. If the proposal comes to the department, then one will have to see the intention of individual for his/her involvement in the “crime”.”

      He added, “In this case it seems that Aseem was expressing his anger against corruption through cartoons and had no intention to wage a war against the country. Taking all this into consideration it would not be appropriate to frame sedition charges against him.”

      Patil had ordered a probe against the official who registered FIR (sedition charges) against the cartoonist.HC slams ‘frivolous’ Aseem arrest

Rosy Sequeira TNN

Mumbai: “We live in a free society,’’ reminded the Bombay high court on Friday even as it lambasted the state for “arbitrary’’ and “frivolous” arrest of political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi for sedition under the Indian Penal Code’s Section 124A.
The court said, “Parameters need to be laid down for application of sedition, otherwise there will be serious encroachment of a person’s liberty guaranteed to him in a civil society.”
“Today you attacked a cartoonist. Tomorrow it could be a filmmaker and then a screenplay writer. We are living in a free society. Everybody has freedom of speech and expression,” said a division bench of Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud and Justice Amjad Sayed. The court was hearing a public interest litigation urging the court to declare Trivedi’s arrest as illegal and bad in law. On September 11, 2012, the high court directed the release of Trivedi on a personal bond.
When the matter came up for hearing, additional public prosecutor Jayesh Yagnik objected to the “maintainability” of the PIL. Justice Chandrachud snapped, “Don’t take such frivolous objections. First you arrested him on such frivolous grounds. Stop these things. You have arrested a cartoonist on charges of sedition and breached his liberty to freedom of speech and expression.” He further said, “We have one Aseem Trivedi who is courageous enough to stand against this action. But what about several others whose voices are shut by the police?” said Justice Chandrachud.
The judges sought to know what the state has to say. “What is the state’s stand? Does the government intend to drop the charge? Someone has to take political responsibility for this. Why didn’t the police apply its mind before charging him with sedition?” asked Justice Chandrachud. Yagnik replied that he has to take instructions and added the assistant commissioner of police investigating the case is consulting Mantralaya to ascertain the maintainability of the sedition charge.
The judges pointed out that Section 124A (sedition) is a pre-Independence provision included in the statute books. “In that era, the government wanted protection from citizens. In the constitutional era, citizens need safeguards against the government,” said Justice Chandrachud. The judges said in foreign countries, the sedition charge is applied only if someone attempts to topple the government by using undemocratic means. Trivedi’s advocate Mihir Desai said, “In fact, in USA, there is a concept called ‘fighting words’, which says that unless there is a clear and present danger of violence because of the words, a person cannot be stopped from saying those.” The judges said from the arrest of Trivedi “ìt is prima facie evident that there is arbitrariness with which the matter was handled by the police”.
The judges directed Trivedi to be made a party in the PIL. “We shall file an affidavit substantiating why sedition charges cannot be levelled in such cases,” said Desai. Directing the state to file a comprehensive affidavit explaining reasons for applying the sedition charge against Trivedi, they posted the hearing to October 12, 2012.

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was recently arrested on charge of sedition under IPC’s Section 124A


Overvaluing the symbolic

Santosh Desai

A cartoon that got its  maker locked up on charges of sedition. A crudely provocative film that has set off riots in several parts of the world; this coming on the back of a doctored video alleging atrocities in Assam that triggered another violent riot. Go back a few months and rewind to another cartoon that made a chief minister jail a professor. And another one about a revered Dalit figure, excavated after 60 years, that created a storm of protest.

      Something significant is afoot. A new touchiness seems to be visible across the world; lines are getting blurred between the symbolic and the real, the abstract intent and the concrete action. Take the instance of the anti-Islam video that has sparked such a violent reaction in parts of the Muslim world. It is an obscure, tacky production that does not carry the support of any identifiable religious or political group and its current prominence is almost entirely a product of the protests against it, a pattern that is a recurring one–— even the anti-corruption and Mamata Banerjee cartoons would have died in obscurity had it not been for the action taken against their makers. What explains this inclination to look for disrespect, and then to explode with anger upon finding it and attributing it falsely to one’s perceived enemies? Why is it that outbreaks of anger have much more to do with perceived representational infractions than substantive behaviour in the real world?
In the case of the anti-Islam video, it is difficult to understand what is the source of the outrage. Given that one of the functions of the internet is to enable lunatics to have their say in the medium and font of their choice, reacting to such a crude attempt at incitement by getting incited seems like a remarkably short-sighted reaction. Apart from the fact that it is technologically infeasible to do too much about such attempts, it is a invitation to every other fringe group to gain easy notoriety on the cheap. No religion or political formation can believe that it does not have its share of people who dislike it, and in some cases hate it with a venomous passion. The desire to eradicate the world of any sign of this hatred is a fantasy; what most groups settle for is to keep
reasonable boundaries that prevent the faithful from being involuntarily exposed to views that they would find offensive and insulting.
In an earlier world, it could be argued that the device of blasphemy and the consequences it invited had its uses. It cordoned off the touchy areas of our life by keeping adherents in check and creating well demarcated boundaries between one social group and another. Today the operating conditions have changed substantially. Due to the enormously inter-connected nature of our existence, whatever we feel about others is now easy to broadcast to everyone else at little cost, both material and otherwise. The ordered nature of social groups with a few ports of communication have dissolved in a cacophony of individual untamed voices. In such a situation, a device like blasphemy needs to be invoked with restraint, for it is in danger of expending itself otherwise.
There is another factor at work too. In an earlier world, important people and lofty ideas enjoyed a natural protection from too much intemperate criticism. One lived in a smaller, self-contained and largely homogenous world under a canopy of exaggerated respect. Truly public platforms were rare, and could in most cases be managed. For the important, the exposure to such volumes of vituperation is an unfamiliar and deeply disorienting experience. It is also why the current touchiness is shown most by groups that have enjoyed unchallenged power—the state, powerful leaders in all facets of public life and religious and quasi-religious groups. The desire seems to be to protect themselves by retreating into an enclave of guaranteed respect.
If we think about it, what Aseem Trivedi was really accused of was not sedition but blasphemy. In a lot of the cases, the reactions to criticism have followed the codes of blasphemy, rather than any other label that might have been used. In an ironical way, the role of religion is increasing in our life not only through its organized form, but also by way of treating other arenas of our life as if they were religion. When Mamata reacts to a cartoon, or a book is banned because it contains something unpalatable, it is not because these are threats to the public but because they are seen to be blasphemous in nature. The reason why cartoons feature in so many of the issues of the day is because they are by definition rooted in the notion of blasphemy—they make the lofty and sacred look ridiculous. The touchiness about things symbolic is a sign that more subjects are asking to be treated with reverence rather than real respect; the problem is not with a specific criticism but with the very idea of criticism.
Attempts to understand these reactions by invoking notions of taste and historical injustice are misguided, particularly given the new context in which we all operate. If we start legitimising extreme reactions to any and every provocation, a swift descent to medievalism seems unavoidable. On the other hand, It is also true that the easy circulation of such material, available in such volume, is not easy to adjust to. The volume and velocity of hate are going up dramatically while the capacity to handle the same has not grown significantly. The process of negotiating with the changed conditions is not going to be easy, but a retreat into the past is not an option. We will be living in a world with greater knowledge of who hates us and why, and reacting to every perceived slight with brute force will be an exercise in self-defeating futility.

Raj Thakre: Becomes a Hero :Aug 2012

Raj Thakre to the Fore


        SEA OF PROTESTORS: An MNS rally wends its way from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan on Tuesday. Police, which had granted permission only for a meeting at Azad Maidan, initiated action against the party

       Considered a purely negative force in the political arena, his astute move in the aftermath of violence 0n Aug 11 by some Muslims in Mumbai protesting the NE incidents has given him a larger than life image. That the violence was  of planned and organised is not in doubt. The manner in which the incident was dealt with by the police has its positive and negetive features. The fact that the whole affair was controlled by the police in a matter of hours without  firing and causing deaths needs to be applauded. However this was at the cost of many police men and women beaten up by the rampaging mobs. Police did not use their weapons, some were even snatched away. Buses and cars were set on fire. News channel vehicles were burnt and correspondents attacked. Police morale touched the rock bottom.

      Suddenly Mumbai felt helpless once again. The same way they felt on 26/11. Congress which is ruling Maharashtra failed to assuage the fear and despondency of Mumbaikars.

     Raj Thakre stepped in where no other party was willing to tread. He announced a massive rally on 21st Aug to protest against the violent incidents.

     Congress NCP government blustered and threatened, but could not prevent a massive turn out by MNS. The people of Mumbai felt that at last there was some one to voice their feelings. The young policeman who walked up the stage to present Raj with a flower described the mood of the avrage policeman in Mumbai.

Raj Thakre became a Hero overnight.

Raj in show of strength, warns of threat from Bangladeshis

‘Migrants Had A Big Role In Aug 11 Riot’

Ambarish Mishra TNN

        Mumbai: Waving what appeared to be a Bangladeshi passport and warning that illegal migration from the eastern neighbour would destroy Mumbai, Mahasrashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday addressed a massive pro-Hindu rally in answer to the August 11 gathering of Muslims to protest attacks in Assam.

       Slamming the violence during the Muslim rally, which like the one on Tuesday paralysed south Mumbai, he said, “There is a boundary which no one should cross. There should be no physical assaults on policemen and officials. My party will always stand by the cops whenever such cases happen,” Thackeray said.

      Thackeray said the influx illegal Bangladeshi migrants posed a threat to Mumbai. “They have safe havens in UP and Bihar. From there, the illegal migrants come to Mumbai to foment trouble,” he said and accused Bangladeshi migrants of playing a major role in the August 11 violence.

      He denied of playing the Hindu card and said his only “dharma” was the “Maharashtra dharma”. “Any person who tries to take law into his hands, beats up cops, mediapersons, molest women cops deserves the severest condemnation from me and my party,” the MNS leader said.

      Thackeray blamed the Congress-led DF government and home minister R R Patil for creating an administrative hurdle for the MNS rally. “Similar queries were not asked when Raza Academy held protest rally on August 11 at Azad Maidan. Raza Academy has a dubious track record. Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi had delivered a provocative speech in Bhiwandi at the Raza Academy rally few years ago. At the end of the rally miscreants slaughtered two cops. Why was such an organization given permission to hold a rally on August 11?”

      South Mumbai creaked under its second political rally in 10 days, which derailed traffic and disrupted the city’s first working day after an extended weekend. Over 50,000 MNS men gathered at Chowpatty and marched in a show of strength along the Marine Drive-Princess Street-Dhobitalao stretch to the rally venue at Azad Maidan.

    Police, who had granted permission only for a meeting at the Azad Maidan, initiated action against the party. Mumbai Police booked the MNS for organising the rally at Girgaum Chowpatty without permission.



Auto driver returns 1L to passenger



     New Delhi: In a rare instance of honesty, an auto driver, a south Delhi resident and a constable teamed up to return Rs 1 lakh to a passenger who had left it inside an autorickshaw.

     The passenger, Raj Kumar Bhalla, had on Tuesday boarded an auto — bearing registration no. DL-1R-F-1083 — from Pratap Nagar to Pitampura. While alighting he forget his polythene bag containing the cash. The driver reached Pitampura Metro station, where another passenger boarded the auto. The next passenger, Ashwani Kumar, who lives in South Extension, noticed the bag kept on the passenger seat.

      The two did not flinch on seeing the money and approached constable Ram Nazar, who was patrolling the area. They then went to the place where the passenger had de-boarded the auto, but could not find him. Nazar then contacted the RWA of RU Block, Pitampura; after doing several rounds of the area, they spotted the passenger. The bag was finally returned to its owner. Bhalla lives at Krishna Nagar in east Delhi

     Auto driver Raj, Ashwani and the constable will be rewarded for their act of honesty, said police.

NRI: Sharmas’ ‘Pranna’, Indian Restaurant in Manhattan takes off

Indian restaurant in NY sweetened Steve Jobs deal

Barodian Couple’s US Gourmet Icon Is A Haunt For A-Listers

Ramaninder K Bhatia | TNN 

Vadodara: When Apple CEO Steve Jobs wanted a hushhush meeting with New York Time’s top executives to convince them to get their product onto IPad, he walked them i n t o Pranna, o n e o f the biggest rest a u r a n t in Manhattan’sMadison Avenue in 2010, specializing in Southeast-Asian cuisine. Jobs ordered Mango lassi and penne pasta. Neither item was on the menu, but the restaurant’s Indian owners Rajiv and Payal Sharma did not fail the great visionary. T h e S h a r m a s q u i ck ly whipped up the dishes, so that Jobs’ meeting with the 50 top executives of NYT could go on without any gastronomical disappointment, at least.

     Despite the hustle and bustle of its three bars and lounges, the group had its meeting in one of the several special private seating areas, without inviting any unnecessary attention. “The meeting was in the cellar lounge and Payal was personally taking the order. The Apple team had booked the table well in advance, but revealed only two hours before the meeting that Steve Jobs himself who would be attending,” Rajiv smiles as he recalls the moment, relaxing in his family home in Vadodara’s Gautam Nagar.

        “They demanded complete secrecy. We met him briefly when he complimented us for the place and ordered another serving of mango lassi,” he adds.

     Here, on their annual visit to their hometown, Rajiv and his vivacious wife Payal Sharma confess that they didn’t make much of the meeting then, but after Jobs died, and when his authorized biography written by renowned biographer, Walter Issacson’s came out, the real import of that event sank in.

        “The book mentions his visit to Pranna on page 505, that’s when people started calling and visiting us to see the place where the great man once dined. We have now built a small shrine for him in the cellar lounge, and introduced the two dishes on our menu, Its our little tribute to the great man who made our place famous by his visit,” says Payal.

      An unassuming family, the Sharmas keep a low profile and quietly slips in and out of Vadodara during annual sojourns from their adopted home in Long Islands. Till the time, Rajiv is not prodded, cajoled and bullied by close friends to talk about his work, there is no inkling of the high-profile status that his “mega Asian, super sexy” restaurant has earned for itself in the heart of the New York city.
“At 22,000 sq ft, it’s the biggest restaurant, which is our dream child. We opened in the middle of recession in 2008, and the beginning was expectedly lukewarm. However, its popularity has now soared beyond all our expectations,” says the couple, reeling off names of celebrities who have dropped in for special events or its more famous Peoples’ Brunch every Saturday.

     Megan Fox, Kirsten Dunst, Tiara Banks, Olivia Wilde, Jude Law, Hillary Swank, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Jack Nicklaus, Chelsea Clinton, and Cristiano Ronaldo have all been spotted in Pranna restaurant and lounge in the past two years.

        Neither is Bollywood fraternity behind with likes of Imraan Khan, Shabana Azmi, Javed Khan, Anil Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Vivek Oberoi, Kailash Kher, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam having made due appearances.

        “It was the launch party of the annual swimwear edition of Sports Illustrated in February 2009, four months after we opened in the middle of the recession, which made a huge difference,” Rajiv reveals.
Today, the place, with its soaring roofs and expansive space built on three levels and exuding Zen-like atmosphere, is the toast of the town, which serves over 100 Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Indian dishes. “Pranna means ‘breath of life’ and we wanted our place to breathe in the busy Manhattan.”

    And, to think, that this, one-time corporate honcho did not ever want to step into the family profession. Born in Ahmedabad and brought up in Vadodara, this naturalized Gujarati — whose father was from UP and the mother a Punjabi — hails from a family which brought the Kwality restaurant chain to Gujarat.

     His father Baijnath Sharma moved to Baroda to open Volga. Rajiv studied at Rosary school and MS University.

      Big, bigger, best Weekly footfall at Pranna is close to 10,000. Every week, close to 100 cases of Johny Walker Black and Grey Goose Vodka each are consumed, besides thousands of other bottles of liquor and wines. The three bars stock beer from all over the world. At any given time, Pranna can accommodate 2,000 people with a seating capacity of 500. It has over 100 dishes for its small and large plates.


Good Samaritan Barun Biswas Murdered in W Bengal

In Tragedy, A Lesson In Kindness

Crusader Wouldn’t Have Wanted Revenge, Say Students And Colleagues

Sabarmati Roy TNN 

Kolkata: Teachers and students of Mitra Institution, the north Kolkata school where slain social activist Barun Biswas taught, want the assailants to be counseled so that the cycle of terror and violence that plagued Sutia in North 24-Parganas finally ends.

     Barun had raised his voice against the mass rapes by a gang that had terrorized Sutia
in 2001-2003. It was his campaign that forced the administration to act and four of the accused were arrested and jailed.

     Those who knew Barun believe he would have wanted the killers to be reformed.

     “Barun Biswas stood for justice and a world where people — both men and women — could live with dignity. In the crime-prone belt where he carried on his crusade, dignity of life will remain elusive till those who committed the barbaric acts realize they were wrong,” said Santanu Basu, who teaches geography at Mitra Institution. Barun taught Bengali.

      “Barun’s murder, a decade after the Sutia rapes, is proof of the lawlessness in the area. It was clearly a revenge killing. But we don’t want harsh punishment to be meted out to the killers. They must be counseled so that understand what they have done and reform their ways,” said Basu.

      He was among several teachers, former students and guardians who travelled to Barun’s home near Gobardanga on Friday to pay their condolences to the bereaved family. He is survived by an ailing father and two brothers.

      Barun did not marry, fearing it would hamper his social service. “He was a terrific human being, always optimistic and full of life. I still can’t believe he is no more. He was fearless and protested against injustice of any kind, be it trafficking or rape. He refused to get married or get into any relationship that would come in the way of serving the people. Nowadays, it is rare to come across someone as selfless as him,” Basu said.

     His students, too, feel that best respect that could be paid to Biswas was to clean up the belt without the use of force. “What is done cannot be reversed. But if he was here today, he would not have wanted the accused to be severely punished. He was always against corporal punishment and believed that explaining politely, yet firmly, worked better in ensuring that a wrong did not get repeated,” said former student Biswajit Dey.

     Other ex-students said Biswas was a great teacher, cool tempered and forever ready to offer advice. While he was against corporal punishment, he was firm and made sure mistakes were not repeated.
Very few know that Barun regularly organized blood donation camps and raised funds to distribute blankets among the needy in winter.

     Gopal Chandra Mridha, a colleague and relative of Barun, rued the lack of support from the administration. “Had the administration been proactive, Barun would not have met this fate,” he said.

      Though political leaders have jumped in to cash in on the sympathy wave, his close associates and family strongly deny he had any kind of political leaning whatsoever.

       (Clockwise fro top) Women in Sutia protest the killing of social activist Barun Biswas on Friday; former student Biswajit Dey stands in protest in front of Mitra Institution where Biswas taught; infuriated women attack a policeman after Biswas’ murder

‘Rape village’ up in arms after crusader’s killing

Cop Outpost Ransacked, Road Blocked

Sanjib Chakraborty TNN

Gaighata (North 24-Parganas): Hundreds of women, armed with brooms and bamboo sticks, attacked police, ransacked a police outpost and blocked a key road for 10 hours on Friday in Sutia, some 80km from Kolkata, to protest against the murder of a schoolteacher who had saved the area from a gang of rapists ten years ago. At least 40,000 people turned up for the funeral of ‘Mastermoshai’ Barun Biswas.
The spontaneous outburst of anger took the administration by surprise. Sutia residents are furious with police for not being able to protect Barun despite several earlier attempts on his life. The RAF was called in to lift the siege but the armourclad men did not know how to take on an army of women.

Locals believe Barun was murdered by the gangsters who were jailed or forced to go underground because of his crusade against the rapes. Their suspicion was deepened by the arrest of Bhim Biswas, a close aide of Susanta Chowdhury, one of the prime accused in the Sutia gang-rape case.

Between 2000 and 2003, Sutia was one of the worst badlands in the country. Gangrapes were a daily affair. Teenagers were raped in front of their mothers, wives in front of husbands and mothers in front of children in a horrific strategy to terrorize the population. If any woman protested, the gang would barge into the house and rape every female in the family. Women could not even step out of Sutia as the gang ran it like its personal fiefdom. Even the police didn’t dare interfere.
Then, Barun, a quiet 26-year-old schoolteacher, rose in protest and led a campaign that ended the reign of terror. Barun’s fightback is the stuff thatBollywood blockbusters are made of, but the blood, guts and bullets and bombs were all too real.

He was shot dead by three men on a bike as soon as he stepped out of Gobordanga railway station on Wednesday evening. The gang shot him in the back, as a hundred people watched in horror. Biswas turned around to face his killers and took the second bullet in the chest. If the killers had planned to silence the voice of protest, the result was just the opposite.

People streamed out of their homes at night and when daylight broke, the sleepy policemen in Sutia outpost found themselves surrounded by a huge crowd of women. The mob stormed in, drove out the cops and wrecked furniture. A police bike and a jeep were damaged. Then, the protesters moved to the streets. The blockade of Gobardanga-Berigopalpur Road started at 5am. Bombs and bullets fail to deter crusaders Apolice team from Gaighata tried to evict the women by force but was beaten back. SP Champak Bhattacharya rushed to the spot with a large police and RAF contingent but the mob refused to budge, demanding to know why 11 of the Sutia rape accused were still roaming free. It took hours of negotiation before the blockade was lifted at 3pm on the promise that the killers would be arrested.

Police records say that at least 30 women were repeatedly raped in Sutia between 2001 and 2003. The actual number could be even more. This is apart from 80 murder and robbery cases in the tiny hamlet, about 15 minutes from the Bangladesh border. With the mafia land out of police jurisdiction, the people were virtually enslaved until Barun Biswas, who lived in nearby Panchkuta village, gave them hope. He roped in locals to form the Pratibadi Manch. Hundreds flocked to him, from farmers to students and homemakers to doctors.

Eventually, news of his protest trickled out and made front-page headlines. The administration was forced to act and the kingpins of the gang — Susanta Chowdhury, Bireswar Dhali, Ramen Majumdar, Ripon Biswas, Anil Bala and Laxman Tarafdar — were arrested. In 2004, five of them were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Barun, as the prime witness in the case, was repeatedly attacked but refused to give in. Mancha president Nani Gopal Poddar, who too has escaped several attempts on his life, alleges that those absconding in the gang-rape accused and those jailed had plotted the murder. “On March 14 last year, two gunmen fired at me in Sutia Bazar. In 2003, goons hurled bombs at me. I somehow survived but was hospitalized for a long time,” said Poddar. “Barun’s murder was the handiwork of those who are operating from behind bars. Police should have been more active to arrest all the culprits,” he added.
Barun’s neighbour Arup Biswas also believes that the murder was plotted from behind bars to bring back the reign of terror in Sutia. “But the people will not bow to the criminals. The fight that Barun started, hundreds of people will continue,” he said.
Police say they are not yet sure what led to Barun’s murder. “The exact motive has not been ascertained. We are looking into all possible angles. We arrested a suspect on Thursday night and he is being interrogated. Raids are on to nab the others,” said the SP.

Food minister Jyotipriya Mullick condemned the murder and demanded a proper investigation. He said Barun was a Trinamool Congress activist.

LAWLESS ZONE: Residents of Sutia protest against the killing of Barun Biswas