[Assam] Sentinel Editorial

Chan Mahanta cmahanta at charter.net
Tue May 8 08:19:00 PDT 2007


Saw this in the Sentinel website this morning.

I was wondering if this writer is yet another anti-Indian dead-set on 
besmirching India's good name, making it look bad to the world, or 
some one seeking western elites' approval or yet another clueless 
Indian who knows what is going on around  but  have no idea how to 
help turn things around.

Perhaps some of or friends here in assamnet would try to help 
Kaushish  with some ideas about her concluding plea: More voices must 
be raised against criminalisation of politics and ways found to 
reverse this growing malaise.

Will that work, I mean raising more voices? Has it been working so 
far? If not, WHO will find the ways?

cm






EDITORIAL

Winning is the name of the game
- Poonam I Kaushish
Forget the human trafficking case and the can of worms of our 
illustrious MPs. Merrily dismissed by the Government as "the House 
(Parliament) can't be blamed for a few black sheep." But you ain't 
seen nothing yet. If you subscribe to the view that "UP is India," 
then here is a shocker. Forget caste and creed, criminalisation is 
the flavour in the on-going State Assembly elections. Election 
Commission or no Election Commission. Making one wonder whether this 
is the harbinger of a new don. Is this the curtain raiser of India's 
future?

There were over 582 candidates facing criminal charges in the poll 
fray in the first five rounds of polling in the State. Of which the 
ruling Samajwadi Party tops the list with 35 per cent candidates who 
have criminal cases pending against them. In the fifth phase alone, 
there were as many as 115 candidates, 44 per cent of whom belonged to 
the BSP. The highest 'crime chart buster' is an RLD candidate with 59 
cases, followed by an Apna Dal nominee with 45 cases and a BSP 
criminal with 28 cases.

These figures have been collated by the "UP election Watch" Forum, 
headed by a retired Director General of Police who avers that 
anything and everything possible in Uttar Pradesh. Criminals, fudged 
electoral rolls et al. Recalling his own experience during the 2002 
Assembly polls, he found three additional names added to the voters 
list against his address. When the Election Commission issued a 
revised list following his complaint, to his horror he found that 
instead of deleting the three names another four had been added.

Worse, the revised list showed 128 "voters" living in the 
two-tenement house across his own. Not only that. These people 
enjoyed the maximum security (Z level only given under exceptional 
circumstances)-all at Government expense. Further, many candidates 
who had declared huge assets did not even have permanent account 
numbers (PAN).

Tragically, in such a political environment where criminal-politicos 
call the shots, they establish contacts with their counterparts in 
neighbouring States and an action-reaction modality ensues. Take 
Bihar. The situation there is no better. According to the Election 
Commission the two States, account for at least 40 MPs and 700 MLAs 
who faced criminal charges that included murder, dacoity, rape, theft 
and extortion.

More. The India chapter of Social Watch, comprising sitting and 
former MPs Nilotpal Basu, Madhusudan Mistry, Pyari Mohan Mahapatra 
and Sandeep Dixit has confirmed that a quarter of the MPs-125 out of 
538 in the current 14th Lok Sabha have a criminal background. While 
62 have been named in minor cases, mostly of a political nature, the 
rest have been booked for serious crimes that could lead to a jail 
term of five years and above. Among them, half of those with serious 
criminal cases against them are from UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and MP.

The Congress has the highest tally of 11 MPs who have charged of 
committing major offences and 16 with minor ones, followed by the BJP 
with 15 MPs indicted for major crimes and 13 minor ones, next comes 
the BSP with 5 MPs hauled up for major offences and two for minor 
ones. Never mind that recently a Parliamentary committee had rejected 
the Election Commission's proposal to ban persons accused of serious 
criminal offences and where the court is prima facie convinced about 
their involvement in the crime from contesting elections till they 
are cleared of such charges.

True, criminalisation of politics and politicisation of crime have 
become so synonymous in India that it does not even create a ripple, 
let alone set the Ganges on fire. Correct, that it is one of the main 
reasons for the deteriorating law and order situation. It is also a 
given that the inability of the State to arrest and prosecute 
politicos with criminal antecedents is primarily because the State is 
part of the problem and not the solution. Notwithstanding various 
court judgments trying to cry a halt to this blatant and brazen show 
of muscle power.

Look what happened to the Vohra Committee Report of 1995 which said 
it all. But today the Power Daddies of Crime, Muscle, Money and Mafia 
dismiss it as kid stuff. Running a paralled government with the 
established linkages with bureaucrats, Government functionaries at 
the local levels, politicians, media persons and strategically 
located individuals while pushing the state apparatus into 
irrelevance is old hat. Today transnational crime is the order of the 
day. Naxalites, Maoist, ULFA, Bodo militants ISI are the new 
warlords. Arguably, when the institutions of governance have been 
infiltrated, what's the way to stem this rot?

Don't look to the Courts. They have gone hoarse trying to stop this, 
but to no avail. Inform voters about the criminal record of 
candidates. Where should one start, nearly all are tarred with the 
same brush. Candidate's competence, capacity and suitability for 
acting as parliamentarian or legislator. In a milieu of jo jeeta woh 
sikander what competence are we talking about? Educational 
qualifications? Politics is all about learning the ABC of power. Not 
applying for a peon's job or a government job where bio-data are 
mandatory.

On the flip side, it is difficult to believe that the common man is 
ignorant about his candidate's criminal antecedents, lack of 
qualifications and character. Clearly, in an environment wherein 
caste, creed and class become the dominant factor in selection, 
criminal tendencies become increasingly irrelevant. Besides, one 
cannot ignore the harsh reality that in a democracy the people get 
the government they want and elect. So if the common man finds a 
criminal to be affable who responds to his distress call and elects 
him his leader who are we to crib?

There is no gainsaying that the growing Indian middle class is not 
averse to electing criminals if they can become their patrons and 
'deliver the goods'? As a former Chief Minister argued when quizzed 
about having 22 Ministers in his Cabinet with criminal antecedents, 
"I don't bother about the Ministers' past. After joining the 
Government, they are not indulging in crimes and are ready to help 
suppress criminal activities. Ask the people why they have elected 
them." How do you rebut this logic?

Ironically, the slow withering away of the national political parties 
at the grassroots level and the simultaneous mushrooming rise of the 
regional parties with their Made in India leaders have led to the 
politics of manipulation replacing the politics of mass appeal. The 
limited purpose of these new leaders is to derive legitimacy through 
the ballot box; once elected, their exercise of power is designed to 
seek personal and group advantage by conbering the resources of the 
State. A classic example of you-scratch-my-back-and-I-yours. Our 
leaders need their criminal muscle and in return promise immunity 
from the legal processes and their 'rightful' share of the State's 
resources from their clients in the political, bureaucratic and 
police administration.

Significantly, when a criminal becomes a law maker, the first thing 
he does is to cover-up his own crimes and that of his cronies. Then 
he allows babus to indulge in criminal deeds for a cut in the deal. 
Next formulates laws which are favourable to his rich cronies. Based 
on our inherently flawed criminal laws which work on the premise that 
a politician is innocent until proved guilty. Against this backdrop, 
whom should the common man turn to for justice?

In the ultimate, the nexus between the corrupt leaders and their 
party bosses underscores the crisis of governance and underlines the 
resulting enfeeblement of state security. The conspiracy of silence 
by the people has further accentuated the political and 
administrative downslide into mayhem. A stop can only be put once our 
policy picks up courage to end this trend. More voices must be raised 
against criminalisation of politics and ways found to reverse this 
growing malaise. -INFA





























At 8:50 AM -0600 5/8/07, Ram Sarangapani wrote:
>C'da,
>
>Just realized just after I sent the mail. Sorry about that.
>
>Your post on the subject, of course, as usual raises valid points.
>
>"It might be a matter interested to you to know that our widely 
>circulated and Assam media reported Press Release to help the 
>victims (within our limits) of the Dhemaji Explosion did not produce 
>any results" - Assam Watch
>
>
>That is very interesting and I wonder why.
>
>Just wondering if any Assamese families were ever affected because 
>the ulfa allegedly killed their husbands, children etc. But that 
>couldn't be true, nobody really has any good proof that it was the 
>ulfa who could have done such things. A good guess would be those 
>people killed themselves for some unknown reason.
>
>Hence, in such a situation, it is impossible for any "rights group" 
>or for that matter, futile, for anybody, with any ounce of 
>righteousness to stand up for them.
>
>  >the propensity of some of our peers whose piety and righteous 
>outrages are >usually set aside ONLY for those with whom they have 
>empathy for, be it >for social, be it for political, be it for 
>linguistic, be it for religious or be it even >for moral grounds.
>
>This, of course, does NOT hold true of the supporters and advocates of ulfa.
>
>--Ram
>
>
>
>
>
>On 5/8/07, Chan Mahanta 
><<mailto:cmahanta at charter.net>cmahanta at charter.net> wrote:
>
>Ram,
>
>
>I am fine with assamnet which goes thru 
><http://assam.org/>assam.org. I am not allowed to post in ASOM 
>however, even though I get to see 'asom' list posts, time to time. 
>For some reason they come to my mailbox, even though I never 
>subscribed to it.
>
>
>c-da
>
>
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>At 8:18 AM -0600 5/8/07, Ram Sarangapani wrote:
>
>>  >I do not have privileges to post in the ASOM list, even though, 
>>by some quirk >of the internet's  reach, I do get to see its posts, 
>>sometimes. So I request >Wahid Kokaideu to forward  this response, 
>>if he would, to that list as well.
>>
>
>
>This post seems to come thru fine, C'da. I even checked 
><http://assam.org/>assam.org - seems fine.
>
>Of course. it could be that you are high up in the Ozarks, and 
>nothing can reach you :):)
>
>
>
>--Ram
>
>
>On 5/8/07, Chan Mahanta 
><<mailto:cmahanta at charter.net>cmahanta at charter.net> wrote:
>
>Wahid Kokaideu raises a valid question, as do the others of the ASOM 
>list.  It demonstrates the generosity and registers the fair-minded 
>outlooks of all those who look out for the welfare of ALL, 
>regardless of the labels or the stigmata SOME might be associated 
>with, whether they are self acquired or assigned by others or gained 
>from accidents of history.
>
>
>
>
>Or so it might seem.
>
>
>
>
>Why I add the above qualifier is for a very simple reason: Over the 
>decades I have witnessed, just like all others too who  are either 
>willing or able, the propensity of some of our peers whose piety and 
>righteous outrages are usually set aside ONLY for those with whom 
>they have empathy for, be it for social, be it for political, be it 
>for linguistic, be it for religious or be it even for moral grounds.
>
>
>
>
>But we also know it is not unique to our peers. It happens to be an 
>universal response.
>
>
>
>
>So why do I even bother to raise the issue? What makes it special?
>
>
>
>
>For two reasons.
>
>
>
>
>         A: The mantle of superior morality worn by our learned peers 
>who are outraged by
>
>         the despicable human-rights organizations who take up causes 
>ONLY of people with the
>
>         stigma I described above and not ALL, regardless of their 
>sins, real or perceived, as they
>
>         - the fair minded citizenry - would  undoubtedly do.
>
>
>
>
>         B:  The intellectual acumen of the outraged who speculated 
>in the ASOM mailing list as
>
>         to WHY these fasting wives had to go marry them ULFA cadres 
>about whose fate the
>
>         Indian government remains  silent, in spite of ONE its own 
>High Court's orders to reveal
>
>         it to these wives.
>
>
>
>
>If we take a moment to take a deeper look at the above two points it 
>will be eminently clear that:
>
>
>
>
>In A above, the mantle of superior morality derived from an 
>universal goodwill for the welfare of ALL is, at best, a mythical 
>one. It is a conveniently donned cloak. For they WERE / ARE NOWHERE 
>to be found
>
>when THOSE WHOSE acts of commission and omission gave rise to the 
>insurgency in Assam and ULFA amongst one of the sub-continent's most 
>docile and passive ethnic community, the Oxomiyas.
>
>
>
>
>In B above we see an abject  ignorance of one of civilized 
>societies' most fundamental tenets: They do not hold the spouses or 
>the children of individuals charged or adjudged  guilty of a crime 
>similarly guilty, just like they do not hold an entire race or 
>religion or country guilty of the transgressions  or crimes of a 
>few; like they do for example in India. Remember the Sikh pogrom 
>after Indira Gandhi's killing? Remember the  Godhra aftermath?
>
>
>
>
>Finally, those  whose outrages are NOT convenient or politically 
>expedient , ought to ask FIRST:  Why do HR activists needed at all? 
>Is it NOT because of a FAILURE of those who are entrusted with 
>protecting the rights of the ALL of the citizenry and for upholding 
>the rule of law to begin with? If the
>
>'legitimate' govts. did their job, WOULD these despicable, BIASED 
>and SELF-SERVING HUMAN RIGHTS  organization be even needed?
>
>
>
>
>I do not have privileges to post in the ASOM list, even though, by 
>some quirk of the internet's  reach, I do get to see its posts, 
>sometimes. So I request Wahid Kokaideu to forward  this response, if 
>he would, to that list as well.
>
>
>
>
>cm
>
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>
>At 3:16 AM -0400 5/8/07, <mailto:assamwatch at aol.com>assamwatch at aol.com wrote:
>
>>
>>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: <mailto:assamwatch at aol.com>assamwatch at aol.com
>To: <mailto:assamonline at yahoogroups.com> assamonline at yahoogroups.com
>Sent: Fri, 4 May 2007 6.21PM
>Subject: Re: [asom] Re: Press Release on 'Fast unto Death'
>
>Dear Mr Wahid Saleh,
>
>
>
>We are very grateful to receive a copy of your posting in response 
>to our Press Release AW/001/2007 Dated 29.04.2007.
>
>
>
>AssamWatch(UK) would encourage you to submit us cases of Human 
>Rights violations in the internationally recognised format occurring 
>in Assam with  permission to AssamWatch(UK) from the victim/victims 
>to enable us to work on those cases.
>
>
>
>It might be a matter interested to you to know that our widely 
>circulated and Assam media reported Press Release to help the 
>victims (within our limits) of the Dhemaji Explosion did not produce 
>any results.
>
>
>
>Regards.
>
>
>
>Press section.
>
>
>
>AssamWatch(UK)
>
>
>
>4 May 2007
>
>
>
>AssamWatch is a voluntary non-profit making Human Rights 
>organisation based in the United kingdom.
>
>
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: <mailto:wahid.saleh at gmail.com>wahid.saleh at gmail.com
>To: <mailto:assamonline at yahoogroups.com> assamonline at yahoogroups.com
>Sent: Thu, 3 May 2007 10.30AM
>Subject: [asom] Re: Press Release on 'Fast unto Death'
>
>I understand that AssamWatch (UK) is a Human rights organization.
>>From the press release by Dr Hazarika, as he mentioned about the six
>wives of the ULFA cadres, it seems he is only concerned about the
>wellbeing of ULFA and ULFA relatives.
>
>My question to Dr Hazarika:
>
>What about the families that had to part with their near
>and dear ones due to the ULFA's brutality?
>
>Many of those kidnapped by the ULFA remain traceless, (for
>your information Dr Hazarika please see the post:
><http://groups.yahoo.com/group/assamonline/message/3100>http://groups.yahoo.com/group/assamonline/message/3100 
>)
>
>Are these families not 'human' enough so that their 'rights' could
>be taken up by Human rights organization like AssamWatch (UK)?
>
>Regards,
>Wahid Saleh
>
>--- assamwatch at ... wrote:
>
>PRESS RELESE
>
>AW/001/2007
>
>Dated 29 April 2007
>
>AssamWatch(UK) has noted with some relief that upon receiving firm
>written commitment from the Chief Minister of Assam, the six wives of
>the missing cadres of the United Liberation Front of Asom in Bhutan in
>December 2003 has ended their 'FAST UNTO DEATH' action on 26 April
>2007. Assam Watch(UK) would like to thank the Government of Assam for
>intervening in time to save the lives of these determined ladies who
>has followed the footsteps of Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi who went on
>repeated 'Fasting Protests' during the Indian independence struggle.
>
>We are very hopeful that the Assam Government will honour the
>written reassurances and commitments given to the ladies on doing the
>needful in tracing the where about of the missing persons pursuing all
>avenues and return them to their families as soon as possible.
>
>The ladies fasting from. 21 March 2007 have put their health in
>extreme jeopardy. Appropriate care need to be provided for overall
>well being of these ladies who have put their bodies through extreme
>starvation on a background of a anxiety over their beloved ones for
>over the last Two and a Half year and it is expected that the
>appropriate authorities have already taken this into consideration and
>continue the care needed for them without any prejudice.
>
>Dr. M. Hazarika
>Co-ordinator
>AssamWatch(UK)
>
>__._,_.___
>
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