Saturday, January 12, 2013

Siachen: Track II Unexplained

(Courtesy - Indian Defence Review


A recent article in a prominent Indian daily last week talked of non-state actors who bring nations closer and the Ottawa Dialogue; the now well known issue of ‘Demilitarization of Siachen’. This has been promptly put on a blog by participants of Track II saying “Track II Explained”. But this can hardly be end of the story. There is plenty that is ‘unexplained’ about this particular Track II.
There is no doubt that Track II processes have their relevance and they do have government level interaction, briefings and debriefings.
Much has happened since the India-Pakistan Track II agreed to a proposal to ‘Demilitarize Siachen’ in September 2012 and the press release by the Atlantic Council of Ottawa hit the web on 02 October 2012. Acquiescence by the Indian members of the Track II to withdraw from Siachen was naturally met with amazement and shock in India. Prior to this agreement of the Track II at Lahore in September last, articles and TV discussions came up portraying that Siachen was strategically irrelevant. The government chose to remain tight lipped and continues with that stance albeit in the aftermath of furore post the Atlantic Council of Ottawa press release, a panel consisting of two members of the Track II Team under a former Ambassador and Secretary MEA (who had nothing to do with the Track II Team but is known to be close to the political hierarchy) made efforts to justify withdrawal from Siachen at India International Centre but were shocked at the unanimous opposition from the audience including from a former Army Chief and journalists. Why this former Ambassador and Secretary MEA tried to justify the proposed withdrawal from Siachen and on whose instructions remains a mystery. 

There is no doubt that Track II processes have their relevance and they do have government level interaction, briefings and debriefings. To this end, they do provide significant inputs that facilitate the Track I dialogue while not being binding on the latter. This is an accepted norm. Track II dialogues can also be at multiple levels, even simultaneously. However, this particular Track II agreement raises several questions that require clarifications and transparency. 

Interaction with the participants reveals that none of them is aware as to how they were selected, who sponsored them and who the Indian coordinator was. The Co-Chair described the status of the Track II Team as a “Private Body”, later changed to “Group of Private Individuals” over whom he had no control. Significantly, Indian members of the Track II Team comprised eight former Indian Military officers out of the total eleven members. While the meetings were held over a period of months, one member stated in an article that for once the bureaucrat members were in the backseat and the former military members in the forefront. Surprisingly, not one of the former eight military officers had served in Siachen and the team made no effort to visit the area under discussion despite months of parleys. This raises a question mark on the motive of the Indian coordinator who gave these names to Atlantic Council of Ottawa. Was it by design? 
Surprisingly, not one of the former eight military officers had served in Siachen and the team made no effort to visit the area under discussion despite months of parleys. 

The Indian Co-Chair of the Track II Team maintains that the MEA briefing made no mention of Siachen and no questions were asked by any members with regard to Siachen. The logic being given is that the Track II Team took upon themselves to work out “HOW” Siachen can be demilitarized without going into “WHY” and “WHEN”, which is laughable. Forget net assessment, every young military officers know how a military appreciation is done, what its nuances are and what factors need to be considered to arrive at the logical course of action. 

The logic, therefore, can hardly be bought; a body of “Private Individuals” working out without any higher direction whatsoever ‘HOW” Siachen should be demilitarized. Who was the driving force in this body of private individuals on which the Co-Chair admits he had no control and what was the motivation?  What are the participants hiding? Why has the Indian Co-Chair clammed up and refusing to take any questions? Additionally, if only “HOW” was being looked at then vital issues like Pakistan sponsored terrorism and the China factor were obviously not discussed or discussed in most perfunctory manner. 

The press release by Atlantic Council of Ottawa is totally silent on China. Terrorism is supposedly discussed but was it discussed in relation to Demilitarization of Siachen – that this will facilitate Pakistan launch Kashmir Valley like proxy war in Ladakh with dire consequences to our national security? It is not without reason that Musharraf had declared “There will be many more Kargils”. 

The vehemence with which the participants were articulating that Siachen has no worthwhile strategic significance has blown off with the wind especially after the anger faced during the hurriedly organized panel discussion at the India International Centre in early October 2012. Participants now admit individually that Siachen (read Saltoro Ridge) indeed has great strategic significance, admitting this even in interactions with military wings of political parties post the public furore. What then was the motivation for our Track II Team to ignore the strategic significance of the Saltoro Ridge particularly with China sitting in our territory in Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin and Pakistani and US media indicating Pakistan is leasing out Gilgit-Baltistan region to China for 50 years, plus the fact that withdrawal from Saltoro would open the floodgates of infiltration into Ladakh by Pakistan’s state sponsored non-state actors. 
Why was the Track II Team ignoring the reality of the strategic significance of Siachen? Why was the advice of every former Army Chief and the present one that India should not withdraw from Siachen ignored? 

A former military officer cum journalist participant even as late as 12 April 2012 was passionately vindicating India’s right to hold on to Siachen on national TV; that India should never withdraw from Siachen because of its strategic significance. What happened in just five months to make him do a 180 degrees turn. Why was the Track II Team ignoring the reality of the strategic significance of Siachen? Why was the advice of every former Army Chief and the present one that India should not withdraw from Siachen ignored? What was the role of the Indian coordinator and his mentors in making the Track II Team adopt such stance? What are the participants hiding? 

Musharraf admits in his autobiography that India pre-empted the occupation of Saltoro Ridge by Pakistan – Pakistan’s planned move was obviously for strategic reasons and not to establish a winter retreat. The fact that Pakistan launched the Kargil intrusions to cut off and grab Siachen has been pooh-poohed by many in India. Now Lieutenant General, Shahid Aziz, former Corps Commander of Lahore recently wrote about Kargil in his blog saying, “The whole truth about Kargil is yet to be known….. It was a total disaster….. We didn’t pre-empt anything; nothing was on the cards. I was then heading the Analysis Wing of Inter Services Intelligence ……Our clearly expressed intent was to cut the supply line to Siachen and force the Indians to pull out…… There were no mujahideen, only taped wireless messages, which fooled no one. Our soldiers ……… the boys were comforted by their commander’s assessment that no serious response would come…. Cut off and forsaken, our posts started collapsing one after the other, though the General (Musharraf) publicly denied it.” 

Here, the fact that the Track II agreement is only a proposal and not binding on Track I is not the issue. That Pakistan considers its high powered Track II Team as good as Track I is also not the issue. The issue is that for eternity, Pakistan will quote this military heavy Indian Track II having agreed to withdraw from Siachen. More significantly, this can also be exploited by the politician-bureaucrat mafia within India that is working at cross purposes to India’s national interests. Why are we calling slimy Musharraf time and again for leadership summits when he is a fugitive in his own country and has been stabbing us repeatedly? Why are the anti-India Hurriyat members given access to the Pakistani Embassy including every time some Pakistani official comes to Delhi? Why is the this bunch given visas to go and meet the mullah-terrorist Hafiz Saeed when India has been exhorting Pakistan to indict him as the mastermind of  26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008? Why is the IB funding the Hurriyat, with what purpose and why without reference to the Army?
It may be recalled that the FBI caught on to Ghulam Mohammed Fai only in 2011 after he had already pumped in some $350 millions funded by the ISI into US over several years for moulding perceptions in Pakistan’s favour with regard to Kashmir.
Why is the Centre mute to anti-India activities in states, one example being total inaction on non-bailable warrants issued against Akbaruddin Owaisi way back in 2009? Why has the government been fooling the public since 2010 saying the Maoist insurgency will be over in two-three years? Coming back to Siachen, why such a decision was taken by the Indian members of the Track II Team and with what motivation remains a question mark. 

As per the Atlantic Council of press note, militaries of both India and Pakistan held several rounds to boost confidence building measures, these meetings having been held in Dubai (20-21 November 2011), Bangkok (23-25 February 2012) and Lahore (23-25 September 2012) and that additionally, working group meetings took place in Chiang Mai (21 April 2012) and Palo Alto (30-31 July 2012). These were followed by the meeting in question in Lahore on 23-25 September 2012. Given the five star culture of such meetings, the expenditure involved would have been enormous. Were the decisions of the participants influenced advertently or inadvertently? 

It may be recalled that the FBI caught on to Ghulam Mohammed Fai only in 2011 after he had already pumped in some $350 millions funded by the ISI into US over several years for moulding perceptions in Pakistan’s favour with regard to Kashmir. Obviously, ISI would have transferred such funds through several fronts and not directly. In the instant case of the Track II, an agreement to withdraw from Siachen without any governmental direction to the effect (as maintained by participants) and in direct contrast to military advice not to demilitarize raises serious questions. Silence and lack of transparency only reinforce apprehensions. 

What exactly has Pakistan done to deserve this largesse – killing and threatening Panchayat members in J&K, failing to punish perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, continuing its proxy war to destabilize India, arming Indian Maoists through the LeT, blatantly denying ISI and LeT links despite solid evidence given by David Headley in 2011, what? Hopefully, the recent barbarianism by Pakistan at least should open the eyes of the blind men. Yet, participants of the Track II have been harping that Demilitarization from Siachen is “doable”. Well, so are whole of Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh and much more – all doable if one is prepared to pack up one’s bags, move back and vacate our own territory. 
Silence and lack of transparency only reinforce apprehensions.

Coming back to the Track II, a much wider debate on the above issue is definitely warranted. To this end, the United Services Institution of India offered its premises to the sponsors of the Track II for holding a discussion on the issue along with the Track II Team, giving them opportunity to also interact with a wide cross section of scholars, diplomats, military personnel etc. However, this has been declined by the sponsors saying “the process is well established and it would be disruptive to change it now”. Strangely, all meeting of this Track II have been held abroad including at Lahore in Pakistan. Was this by design to not let the Indian public get the whiff of what was cooking? 

The Indian public deserves answers including whether we have moles in the establishment working for foreign intelligence agencies, which is not new. An open public debate including with the sponsors and the Indian members of the Track II Team is certainly warranted, not on a pliable TV channel but at an autonomous Think Tank like the United Services Institution of India. While the sponsors may shy off the suggestion, what about a wider debate within the county minus the sponsors? Will the government at least speak up now with Pakistan having bared her fangs?

Prakash Katoch is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Of Ostriches and Kangaroos


Prakash Katoch.

World over the ostrich are famous for burying their head in sand during crisis but the reigning mafia ostriches in India have refined their tactics over the years. Instead of burying their heads in sand, they screech arrogance in the most despciable manner possible, in an effort to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. The mere fact that they are mafia, makes them cling together in gay abandon; seeking strength from togetherness. Why should the Kangaroo Club of the politician-bureaucrat-police mafia that has been raping the country through mis-governance for so many years now bother about honour and rape of women? After all no women or relative of Kangaroo Club has been touched. So,what is the public complaining about, whom do you accuse, whom do you plea to and what action can you expect?

Take the recent horrific rape in India’s capital and the equally horrific revelations now made by the brave companion of the ‘braveheart’ victim girl. The nation by and large bows its head in shame but certainly not the reigning mafia. Look at the police filing a case against the media channel and alleging the brave boy who too was battered into unconsciousness is lying. There is absolutely no reason for the brave boy to lie especially knowing that exposing the police would invite their ire. Police is arrogant to the extent possible in suggesting that the boy’s statement to the TV channel was under duress – can there be anything more absurd? The fact is that our Kangaroo Police is so very secure in the politician-bureaucrat-police nexus that they are confident they can screech defiance and get away. At best, if the public-media nuisance persists, there may be a few transfers, with opportunity to latch onto another module of politician-bureaucrat-police nexus at place of new posting. That is why Delhi Police is so very cool about the entire episode.

Fancy the following in India that claims to be a regional power and wants to be a global power:

·       The braveheart is raped horrifically in a bus with unauthorized tinted windows bus without license, her friend battered unconscious and then they are dumped on the roadside almost nude in freezing cold.

·       The accused try to run over the two by the same bus but the barely conscious boy manages to pull the girl to safety.

·       Some 15-20 vehicles go by but no one stops despite cries of help by the victims.

·       As stated by the boy, police PCR vans argue over jurisdiction for half an hour rather than all PCR vans rushing to the spot.

·       Eventually, the police arrive but do not want to ‘soil’ their hands in lifting the battered girl. Hence, the boy is made to lift the girl into the PCR van.

·       The victims are taken to Safdarjung Hospital, which by no means is the closest hospital and Delhi Police now says this was because it is the ‘best specialty hospital’.

·       At the hospital, the boy eventually has to plead for some clothes to cover the girl and him.  

·       After initial treatment, the police take the boy to the police station, where he is kept for no less than four days for mere recording of statement.

·       Two days after the public uproar refuses to abate, the Home Minister Shinde (of ‘Shri’ Hafeez fame) decides to brief Sonia Gandhi.

·       Delhi Police baton charges and fires water cannons on perfectly peaceful agitators on the fourth day of protests while the Home Secretary blatantly denies these acts of the police.

·       Delhi High Court lambasts Delhi Police while the Home Secretary and MoS Home laud them for having apprehended the accused.

·       Delhi Police tries to impose their own statement when the Lady SDM goes to record the statement of the ‘braveheart’. She is even intimidated when she refuses and tells the police to leave the room. Delhi Police then blatantly denies exerting any pressure. Why should a SDM tell lies when she lives in the same city with the same police?

·       Shiela Dikshit, Delhi Chief Minister washes off her hands saying Delhi Police is not under her. She is mum on the traffic mafia in her State, over which she presides and courtesy which this bus without license was plying for the last two years.

·       Police Constable Tomar dies of a heart attack as seen in photos shot by journalists and statement of eyewitnesses who actually tried to revive the constable.

·       Police claims the protestors had turned violent. Pictures show, somebody’s private car being attacked and overturned amidst protestors. Why would protestors damage a car of their own and not attack a vehicle of the police? Obvious handiwork of mafia goondas infiltrated for the purpose.

·       Police alleges constable Tomar was killed by protesters and arrest eight youth of IAC, latter saying they were not even present there.

·       Post Mortem report of constable Tomar is obtained from a hospital different from where he was taken from Rajpath. The report shows fracture of ribs that any doctor would tell you is common when administered CPR.  

·       Sonia and Rahul Gandhi reportedly meet some protestors close to their residence.

·       It takes full seven days for Manmohan Singh to emerge and make his robotic statement on the episode.

·       Section 144 is imposed and some 10 metro stations are closed indefinitely reminiscent of the British Raj – hierarchal fear being the requirement to show normalcy during impending visit of Putin.

·       The rape victim is shifted from Safdarjung Hospital (the ‘best specialty hospital’ as described by Delhi Police) and flown to Singapore putting her life at stake in the five hour long air in her extremely critical condition, only hoping the protests would abate.

·       When news of the demise of the ‘braveheart’ is broken, flying back of her mortal remains is delayed on pretext that this is only possible when the Singapore hospital gives the post mortem report, as if Singapore is like India where the timing of issue of such reports is dependent on political directions.

·       Shiela Dixit’s residence and residences of other politicians are made impenetrable with company after company of police. No less than 28 companies of police are deployed to protect the ruling class – all this while the body of the braveheart is still in Singapore.

·       The President finally stirs to make a statement while his son (the little politician ostrich) cavorting in Kolkata prepares his derogatory speech on ‘dented and painted women’ and later fluff his feathers on national TV.

·       The body is brought to India in wee hours of the morning and cremated at Dwarka reportedly at 7.30 in the morning shrouded in dense fog and without electricity with such dense security that would shame British security while  hanging Bhagat Singh.

·       With the distinction of having achieved the landmark of 873 percent increase in rape cases since 1971 (mind you these are only figures of reported cases – actual may well be double), the hierarchy appoints the Justice Verma Committee to work out safety of women with a 30 day mandate, as if the eminent jurist require that much time to state the obvious. The message was very clear – give 30 days because the protestors can hardly continue long in this chilling cold. If the weather improves, don’t be surprised if the Justice Verma Committee is given arbitrary extension.

There are TV debates galore with politicians vying to show the other political party in bad light. The Ostriches show their arrogance and disdain. A specialist of this category who went hibernating when his driver exposed a sex tape featuring him keeps looking at his watch with bored expression and occasional show of arrogance. Delhi Police spokespersons take the aggressive path. A former intelligence head says in India intelligence agencies operate separate from political interference – joke of 21st Century. A former police officer argues Ashok Chakra cannot be given to braveheart – don’t mind the police action seen live on TV during the Parliament Attack and the fact that the STF during the 26/11 Mumbai Terrorist Attack were slaughtered like chicken without firing a single shot. Incidentally, how can you expect them to fire a shot when the STF is not even tasked for counter terrorism? Did you know that their task is only investigations?

While many Khap Panchayat’s have publicly ruled rape as punishment, no Chief Minister, Member Parliament or Member Legislative assembly from the same State dare oppose the diktat. It is a known fact that plenty MPs and MLAs in India have rape cases pending against them. A Kangaroo Club chosen former blue eyed President (herself a woman) commuted the death penalty of no less than six persons accused of rape and murder, her sheepish excuse being that this was on recommendation of the Home Ministry.  How could she take a decision otherwise when the Kangaroos had promised her the same life style especially with the same security post retirement? Many politicians across party lines have been making utterances about women being equally blamable for rape, should not cross the Lakshman Rekha and the like. Do you smell the Taliban? Nah – may be only partially would be the right answer. Talk to young Afghans in Afghanistan; they are highly critical of the Taliban rule and their medieval ways but unequivocally appreciative that the Taliban ensured instant justice. There is little hope of that in India with rape cases pending for years and rape accused repeating rape and / or murder while on bail. Even in the instant case, media reports that the so called juvenile accused (who was the most vicious) will be out on bail and if convicted, will only be sent to a juvenile reform facility. The irony in India is that a three year old girl can be raped but if the accused is a so called ‘minor’ (below 18 years in case of India), he only goes to a juvenile reform facility. But then, why bother on minor issues, when there has been ‘only’ 34 percent rise in rape (reported cases) by juveniles in 2011 over 2010. This is ‘minor’ rise and care can be taken to keep these figures low. All you have to do is to tell the Kangaroo Police not register cases, which they are already doing albeit inefficiently. They must do more to keep the mango people under their thumb and ensure the will of the banana republic.

Newspaper headlines today (6th January) talk of the Supreme Court commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment of a 23 year old accused who killed a 65 year old woman stabbing her 21 times and then raped her pregnant daughter, later stabbing her also 19 times. The reason of commutation, as reported, is that the accused was drunk and was not in his senses. Bravo Indian Law and the sense of justice. After all, this was not a case of “rarest of rare” where death sentence should be awarded. How can you possibly uphold death sentence when the stubborn daughter-in-law did not even die after being raped and stabbed 19 times? Does the Kangaroo Club have data of how many rapes and murders have taken place without being under influence of liquor? If liquor can get you commutation from hanging, are drugs not even better? After all, if the World Drug Report reports 3.2 metric tons of drugs smuggled from Pakistan into India in a single year (2009), can it be without blessings of our Kangaroo Club? When media wondered how the trawler ferrying terrorists had come all the way from Karachi during 26/11, MJ Akbar reported there was no cause for any surprises. As per him such trawlers were daily occurrences ferrying drugs with the politician-police nexus.     

Recommend you read the book “Top Secret – India’s Intelligence Unveiled” by former Joint Director IB MK Dhar. He writes about a police constable in Delhi whom he wanted to be part of an enquiry he was heading. The constable pleaded he should be left out, his plea being he had paid Rupees five lakhs (in those years) to join Delhi Police and he needed to be left free to recover that and much more. So, how do you expect the political-bureaucrat masters to reprimand the Delhi Police? As Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi wrote in Daily Post on 5th January, “Unfortunately, the police have given their professional abilities a go-by in favour of making money, kowtowing to the politicians and bureaucrats, and harassing the common people. While the police hierarchy must accept the blame, the political leadership and their bureaucratic advisors are equally responsible for this state of affairs, because all three entities are directly responsible for governance and interacting with the public.”

So if the braveheart’s wish was that the accused should be burnt to death, where do we go from here? A reversible chemical castration is hardly the solution. It is for the public and the media to maintain the pressure. The Ostriches and Kangaroos can be expected to take an eternity to implement whatever recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. But, much before this horrific incident, the Maoists had said they are going to infiltrate security of politicians in State Capitals and the Capital itself. Then there is also the possibility of early institution of appropriate laws in case the mother, sister, wife, relative of a security guard of a Minister gets raped and he ends up raping, castrating, roping the Minister himself. Meanwhile, the Kangaroo Club continues cavorting in gay abandon. Britain may have allowed gay bishops but if security guards are to be believed India may be witness to the first gay Prime Ministerial candidate in the next general election.   

The Nation is surely appalled with this horrific episode and the string of rapes post the ‘braveheart’ episode but has it affected the Ostriches and Kangaroos. Does not appear to be the case for the time being amidst whispers in intelligence circles some incidents (both acid attacks and rapes) are being orchestrated where political alignments don’t match.


The author is a veteran Special Forces Lieutenant General of Indian Army.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New India Rising Scene

Invasive Crime, Evasive Justice

Karan Kharb

India is not the largest democracy just for its size; it also has world’s most voluminous constitution – 448 articles. And the most amended too; over 100 amendments in 62 years. As against this, the US constitution is the world’s shortest with seven articles. The effectiveness of this constitution may be judged from the fact that ever since its adoption in 1787, the US constitution has only 27 amendments inserted in a span of 225 years. Constitution in a democracy is its supreme law from which flow all other laws and systems. Questions, however, arise as to why are people losing confidence in governance? Why is crime racing up uncontrolled? Why are the delinquent officials promoted? Why have we failed to establish a true ‘Rule of Law’? Something is seriously amiss.

               The current public ire against the unabated spurt in heinous crimes like rape in cities and elsewhere has intensified the popular demand for harsher and faster punishment to the criminals.  Belatedly giving in to the unrelenting public pressure, the government is understood to be readying itself to promulgate an ordinance modifying Secs 375, 376 of IPC and other relevant statutes relating to offences against women. The process of setting up fast track courts is already underway. One of the most respected former Chief Justices of India, Justice JS Verma is heading a Commission to advise the government on making laws more effective. Apprehensions, nevertheless, are that all this exercise will again prove to be infructuous unless the implementing hardware – the civil administration – is also overhauled and fine-tuned to match the software of upgraded statutes now being demanded and proposed.

               No doubt, there are flaws in the existing law relating to rape and other offences against women.  But what is worse is that even the available law is not implemented fairly and speedily working in the true spirit of ‘Rule of Law’. There is an extraneous influence affecting its course at every step. Our police stations have acquired an image that serves more to scare people rather than attract and welcome them. Callous attitude of SHOs and SIs at thanas is marked by indifference and apathy towards the complainant.  The first hurdle that a victim faces is lodging FIR which itself is a herculean task not all can accomplish. Armed with the primary responsibility of protecting people, the Patiala police recently drove a rape victim to commit suicide while the rapists roamed free unharmed. Suspensions and transfers, which are routine administrative actions and in no way punitive measures, have been so traded by the authorities to mislead the people by making it appear as if the delinquent officials have been dealt with severely enough. Once the tempers cool down, the same officials are back in their job without anything adverse in their record to mar their career growth. The same smart policy is replicated throughout the civil administration and political level. There is enough in the existing rules and law to prevent and punish such delinquency. What is missing the will to enforce law.  

Here are just a few from innumerable examples of how self-serving officers and politicians progress their careers despite – or because of – their utter disregard to accountability. They have nurtured and strengthened their nexus and perfected a functioning regime to protect and manoeuvre their careers and interests. The process is a smooth sequential succession of administrative actions – not punishment: ‘suspension’ – transfer – reinstatement – promotion – reward and rehabilitation!  This is how it is practised:-
  • An IAS officer who should have gone to jail long ago in his service, PJ Thomas continued to climb all the way to be Secretary to the Government of India and finally perched at the apex as India’s CVC.  In his affidavit filed in the Supreme Court he stated that all the top bureaucrats shortlisted for the post of CVC were equally or more seriously involved in similar misdemeanours and therefore he was a man of  ‘impeccable integrity’!.
  • Voted among UP’s most corrupt IAS officers by their colleagues, Neera Yadav and Akhand Pratap Singh attained the highest post of Chief Secretary regardless of their much maligned antecedents until the Supreme Court intervened forcing them to be removed.  Both were later convicted – but not before they had reached the top.
  • The present Commissioner of Police, Delhi, Neeraj Kumar carries a heavy baggage of criminal and corrupt antecedents that not only rendered him unfit to hold his present post but also render him liable to be dismissed from service and perhaps serve a jail sentence too. Delhi High Court had ordered FIR to be registered and progressed against him in 2006. 
  • Wasn’t Shashi Tharoor removed only to be reinstated?
  • Earlier, Vilas Rao Deshmukh was sacked as CM Maharashtra but given a berth in the Central Cabinet. Was he sacked or rewarded – people wonder to this day!
  • There is another class like Kalmadi, Raja, Kanimozhi and their accomplices in bureaucracy who have spent some time in jail already. Their ‘reinstatement – promotion – reward’ will take a little longer. Law will coyly chase them before giving it up bad joke as is happening in the cases relating to Lalu Prasad Yadav, Jai Lalitha, Maya, and Mulayam etc.

The trail is endless because, as Abhishek Manu Singhvi would perhaps endorse, the test of your efficiency hinges on how skilfully you can circumvent rules, thwart court rulings, mock ethics, ridicule morals – and still flaunt your die-hard espousal of these very principles in public!

Enough law already exists to prevent and punish these misdemeanours. There are many in the bureaucracy and politicians who are fit cases to be tried for a variety of offences including felonious crimes if only Rule of Law had its way.  Therefore, adding another pile of stricter laws might come handy to calm down the irate people for a moment but cannot improve things until the principle of accountability for performance – omission and commission – is ruthlessly enforced in the civil administration including politicians and police.

Is the Government really serious in fast tracking delivery of justice? People’s faith in the government and the existing polity has been eroded by sequential betrayals which are fresh in the public memory. Whereas bills granting a three-fold raise in salaries of MPs are passed unanimously without much debate within two days, India’s most wanted bill – the Lokpal bill – has waited for over 42 and it still lingers. The Parliament passed a unanimous resolution endorsing Anna Hazare’s demands, the Prime Minister gave written acceptance assuring expeditious passage of an effective Lokpal Bill. It has betrayed those assurances trashing popular aspirations.

At the implementation stage there are instances aplenty to show how crime is being officially aided. Just prior to demitting her high Office of President of India, Mrs Pratibha Patil granted clemency to the five convicts who had committed rapes of minors, brutally killed and mutilated their victims' bodies.  At least in one case the rapist wiped out the entire family of his victim including a child.  Terrorists like Afzal Guru, killers of Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh are on virtual clemency despite rejection of their appeals for reviews by the apex court of the country.

There is a lobby gaining resonance in political circles to project and honour these convicts as heroes. Contrast this with the rising number of suicides and heightening resentment in the Armed Forces against the raw deal meted out to them by the sixth Pay Commission. What could be more shocking that the government has steadfastly sought to deny them their basic dues despite unequivocal directions of the Supreme Court on a number of cases concerning their status, dues and entitlements?  Prior to the last general elections, almost all political parties endorsed their demand for ‘one rank one pension’ (OROP). Parliamentary Committees have strongly recommended grant of OROP all through since 1998. There has been no visible opposition to this demand. Yet, the Armed Forces and the retired soldiers have all along faced betrayals of hollow assurances. The Government has cheated public and weakened the state organs by persistently failing to fulfil its declared objectives despite masses and the judiciary goading it.  

There are over 160 MPs facing trials in various courts. They all invoke their privileged status to enjoy precedence over others in every aspect.  Why are their cases not tried by fast track courts? Obviously, fast tracking is risky for most of them. Their interests lie in prolonging the trials to harass out the witnesses and to engineer a favourable verdict or, if acquittal does not seem feasible, to let the case linger to infinity.

Why the whole talk of ‘fast track’ courts appears insincere is also reinforced by the state of judiciary in the country today. The National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms formed last year has initiated some steps in the right direction but vital measures like the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill is still awaiting attention of Rajya Sabha. Gram Nyayalayas Act 2008 was passed to establish Gram Nyayalayas in all villages to deliver justice at people’s doorsteps. After a lapse of more than four years, it is still to take off. Last year the Government had informed the Parliament that as many as 3.2 crore cases were pending in the high courts. The Supreme Court itself had 56,383 cases pending before it. Thanks to a special drive undertaken last year the pendency was reduced by six lakh cases and 3.16 lakh under trials were released.  Even so, the shortage of judges all over has been mounting.  Last year when the Union Law Minister was briefing the Parliament, there were 262 vacant positions in the high courts and Supreme Court, today the deficiency of judges has risen to 300 while Government wants people to believe it is doing its utmost to fast track justice delivery.

Sadly, it is rampant corruption that sustains and propels this systemic decay and total loss of accountability. A corrupt judge cannot give meritorious judgment just as a corrupt minister or a corrupt bureaucrat cannot impose accountability on his subordinates. Governance has thus become inverted to serve only its inner circle keeping the public out. The disconnect between the government and the people and the widening gulf between them is showing through public outrage every now and then.  A new India is rising free from known political influences and vote bank politics. New generation India is calling – change or perish! Is the politician listening?  


The author is an Army Veteran and social activist. He can be contacted at (Mob: 9818047092)