शुक्रवार, 27 फ़रवरी 2009

Bihar Election Commission Vs RTI petitioner

Getting information under the Right To Information Act can get really tricky at times. Especially, when Government officials are so reluctant to work in a transparent and accountable manner.
Afroz Alam Sahil, an RTI petitioner based in Delhi had requested the Chief Electoral Officer of Bihar to provide him the details of the funding of some leading political parties under the Right To Information Act. He had asked for the details of Form 24 (A) of Congress, BJP, RJD, JDU and LJP submitted to the State Election Commission in the last three years.
The Election Commission of India lays down that political parties shall in each financial year, prepare a report in respect of the contribution in excess of twenty thousand rupees received by such political party from any person or companies in that financial year shall be submitted in Form 24 (A) to the Election Commission.
The petition was ignored by the Chief Electoral Officer of Bihar. The petitioner who is also an RTI activist filed a first appeal with the department. After waiting for another month for a reply from the office, he filed a second appeal with the State Information Commission (SIC).
The SIC of Bihar directed the Election Division of the State to provide the petitioner the requisite information by 20th January. The SIC also directed the concerned Public Information Officer to provide an explanation to why he would not be fined Rs. 37,000 (Rs 250 per day from 18.07.08 to 16.12.08) under Section 20 (1) of the Right To Information Act, 2005 for not providing the requested information.
This time it became obligatory for the Chief Electoral Officer of the state to provide information as well as the explanation for the delay.
The deputy Chief Electoral Officer of Bihar who also holds the PIO office made what can be termed the most fascinating reply.

Let’s look at the explanation first.
Their office had informed the RTI petitioner to submit a fee of Rs. 2 which the petitioner did not submit, (therefore they had not replied). “In spite of this, on the direction of the State Information Commission we are (now) providing you the requested information,” said the PIO in his reply.
The petitioner claims that he did not receive any such letter from the PIO. Even if the PIO had sent any such letter, it is amusing to note that the Electoral Office of the State sent a one page registered letter to demand money for his reply (consisting of half a page). Sending the letter itself must have cost the office appx. Rs 25.

The information is even more interesting
The deputy Chief Election Officer of Bihar, Sohan Kumar Thakur said in his reply that the petitioner could not be provided the requested information because no political parties by the names Congress, BJP, RJD, JDU and LJP were registered with the Election Commission of India.
However, if the petitioner has implied Indian National Congress, Bhartiya Janta Party, Rashtiya Janta Dal and Lok Janshakti Party, then the information can be sought from the Election Commission of India.
Quite ironically, the Electoral Officer of Bihar took six months for this piece of information and claims to have demanded a fee of Rs 2 through a registered letter.
It has been more than three years since the much-touted Right To Information Act was introduced in India. It raised hopes that the people will finally have access to the workings of the state. However, some babus are still unwilling to work in an environment of transparency.

[The hearing of this case (No.-12974/08-09 14427) is on 23.03.09 in the SIC building, Patna, capital of Bihar]

Dipu Shaw

सोमवार, 23 फ़रवरी 2009

'Encounter' at Batla House: Unanswered Questions

'Encounter' at Batla House: Unanswered Questions

A Report by Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Group (JTSG)

Contributory Price: 35/- rupees.

For Copies: +91-9811625577

Reviewed by MAHTAB ALAM

The 'encounter' took place at Batla House locality of Jamia Nagar of South Delhi has been under question marks from the day first i.e., 19th September 08. Numbers of Civil, Human and Democratic Rights activist/ group, journalist, teachers and students visited the place and came up with their preliminary reports, raising some basic but important questions, which is yet to be answered. Here is a detailed report prepared by JTSG, an independent group of teachers of Jamia Millia Islamia committed for struggle for justice, on the same explaining the rationale, why thousands of people are not ready to buy and should not buy the police theories.

'Encounter' Batla House

On 19th September 2008, in an armed operation conducted by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, a fourth floor flat in the building L-18 in Batla House area of Jamia Nagar was raided. In the ensuing operation, two alleged 'terrorists', Atif Amin and Sajid, were shot dead by the police. Mohan Chand Sharma, an inspector of the Delhi Police's Special Cell, was injured and later succumbed to his injuries in the Holy Family hospital. A third flat mate, Md. Saif, was arrested from the site. The Delhi Police claimed that two alleged terrorists had escaped during the operation.

The Delhi Police claimed that the occupants of L-18, Batla House, all students of various universities and institutes in Delhi, and all hailing from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh were part of 'Indian Mujahedeen'—supposedly an Islamic terrorist group. Further, the Delhi Police alleged that the deceased and arrested youth were the main conspirators and executors of the Delhi bomb blasts earlier that month (13th September).

This report is based on police statements, press reports, testimonies of families and friends of the accused and other documentary evidence. It highlights the numerous contradictions in the police version(s) about the 'encounter' and the accusations.

Unanswered Questions

1) Did the police have prior information about the presence of dreaded 'terrorists' in L-18 when they raided the flat? So far, conflicting versions have been provided by the police. In one version, they claim ignorance of such confirmed information, pleading that they went in only for a routine recee and were ambushed (then how did the Police Commissioner within hours declare Atif and Sajid to be the mastermind behind all blasts since 2005, when Sajid would have been 14-years-old); and in another, they claim to have put Atif under surveillance since 26th July 2008 (so how did these boys manage to plant bombs all over the city right under the Delhi Police's nose?)

2) Were the Police men wearing Bullet proof vests (BPV) or not? In some statements, the Delhi Police said that they avoided wearing the BPVs in order not to alert the 'terrorists'; in yet other statement they claim that their officer escaped all injury while firing upon an armed Sajid because he was wearing a BPV.

3) What explains the injury marks on the bodies of the deceased boys? Atif's back was sloughed off and Sajid had bullet wounds on his head as though bullets had been pumped into his head while he was made to kneel—all of which raises doubts about the genuineness of the 'shootout'.

4) The Police claim that Sajid was an expert bomb maker who used quartz clocks, detonators, ammonium nitrate, yet none of the 'recoveries' which even the police have purportedly made, comprise any of the above material that could be used for making Sajid's 'signature' bombs. So what made Dadwal and his force conclude that Sajid was the one behind the blasts in Delhi and elsewhere?

5) Why is there such rigid resistance to any independent probe on the part of the government and the Delhi Police? So much so that the Lieutenant Governor has even rejected a magisterial enquiry, which is mandatory as per NHRC guidelines on encounter killings.

6) Why are post-mortem reports of all the three killed not being made public? Is there something to hide?

The report also carries brief profiles of the accused in the case, including the two students killed. The fact that most of them were students enrolled in educational institutions, whether Jamia or elsewhere, or working gives the impression that they were regular young men in search of better opportunities in life. None of their actions puts them under suspicion: they enrolled as students, bought sim cards in their name, signed a rent lease deed, duly verified by the police (copy in report), provided genuine address details etc. Moreover, the day after the blasts in Delhi, there were several arrests and detentions in the Jamia Nagar area, which was common knowledge. It is highly unlikely that actual terrorists would make no attempt to move away from a neighbourhood which was obviously under the police scanner to a safer hideout.

Testimonies of eyewitnesses at the Jan Sunwai (12 Oct 2008, Batla House) have also been included in the report. Neighbours testified that they found nothing strange or suspicious about the boys and resented the fact that no senior local resident was taken into confidence or to crosscheck any information about suspected terrorists. The manner in which the police operated raised suspicions about their real motives. Further, they also said that while the operation was on, the policemen could be seen throwing pots etc on to the 4th floor flat of L-18, and that they heard gun shots of only one kind. This naturally raises the misgiving that the police was trying to create an impression of cross fire and struggle, where none existed.

'Encounter' at Batla House also highlights the contradictions in the 'mastermind' theories developed by various state police departments. In addition, it carries profiles of all those illegally detained by the Delhi Police Special Cell in connection with the Delhi blasts; a section on virtual terror that anti-terror or special cells of the police departments unleash in the name of fighting terror: illegal detentions, false recoveries, forging evidence etc. Special reference is made to the case of Irshad Ali and Md. Qamar, who were implicated in a false terror case by a team of the Delhi Police Special Cell. Incidentally, many members of this team were part of the Batla House 'encounter' too.

Charter of Demands:

1) A Judicial Probe headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.

2) The Investigations must be transferred from the Delhi Police to the CBI.

3) Exemplary punishment should be meted to police officers guilty of implicating innocent Muslim youth in false cases of terrorism.

4) Adequate Compensation and Jobs should be provided to those acquitted in terror-related cases.

The report is marked by simplicity and lucidity of language in spite of its complex nature. One can find documentary evidences almost for each and every crucial argument. However, few names have been dropped due to some legal reasons. Nevertheless, this is a work of reference must for libraries, journalists, academicians, sociologist and researchers as well students of human rights and law. Civil and Human activists can hardly afford to miss it, especially those fighting for the marginalised communities.

[The reviewer is a Delhi based civil rights activist and associated with Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR). He can be reached at mdmahtabalam@gmail.com]

मंगलवार, 3 फ़रवरी 2009


विगत दशक में भारत ने नेपाल को दिये 7 अरब अनुदानः

क्या यह वास्तविक लाभार्थियों तक पहुंचा भी?
भारत नेपाल को अपना निकटतम पड़ोसी ही नहीं, बल्कि सहोदर भाई मानता है। परिणामस्वरुप भारत की हमेशा पहल रही है कि नेपाल के आर्थिक विकास में ज्यादा से ज्यादा सहायता दी जाय। 1950 की भारत-नेपाल संधि के समय से ही भारत नेपाल की प्रगति के लिए आकाश पाताल एक करता रहा है। अरबों रुपयें अनुदान में दिये हैं। फिर भी नेपाल के प्रबुद्ध नागरिक तथा भारत-नेपाल की आर्थिक सहयोग प्रक्रिया को नजदीक से देखने और जानने वालों का दावा है कि भारत सरकार का नेपाल को मदद देने की पवित्र मंशा के बावजूद नेपाल को दिये गये अकूत धन का कुछ खास लोगों द्वारा बंदर बाॅंट कर लिया जाता रहा है तथा विकास की कागजी खानापूर्ति की जाती रही है। यानि भारतीय दूतावास के निचले स्तर से लेकर शीर्ष पर बैठे पदाधिकारी नेपाली सरकारी एवं गैर सरकारी दलालों से सांठ गाठ कर भारत द्वारा प्रदत राशि को ड़कारते रहे हैं।

भारतीय राजनयिकों के बारे में काठमांडू स्थित एक भारतीय पत्रकार कहते हैं कि इनको अपने तीन साल के कार्यकाल में तीन स्तरों से गुजरना पड़ता हैं: पहला वर्ष लर्न यानि सीखना, दूसरा वर्ष अर्न यानि कमाना तथा तीसरा वर्ष रिटर्न यानि देश वापस हो जाना। इसके अतिरिक्त इन राजनयिकों का कोई कार्य न भारत हित में, न नेपाल की गरीब जनता के हित में होता है। आश्चर्य तो इस बात की है कि भारत द्वारा दी गयी विशाल सहायता राशि का उपयोग विरले ही नेपाल के तराई यानि मधेश क्षेत्र में विकास कार्य सम्पन्न कराने में होता हो।

जानकारों के अनुसार पूरी राशि का करीब 90 प्रतिशत पहाड़ी इलाकों में खर्च करने की दावा की जाती रही है, जबकि भारतीय मूल के नेपाली मधेशियों के लिए बहुत ही कम खर्च किये गये है। इसका कारण कदापि यह नहीं रहा है कि भारतीय राजनयिक पहाड़ी मूल के लोगों की गरीबी से ज्यादा द्रवित होते रहे हैं,बल्कि यह कि पहाड़ों में किये गये कागजी कार्यों का सत्यापन असंभंव रहा है, खासकर विगत दश वर्षों में जब वहाॅं माओवादियों का गुरिल्ला साम्राज्य कायम रहा। परन्तु नेपाल की तराई में किया गया कोई भी कागजी विकास कार्य का आसानी से भंड़ाफोड़ होने का खतरा बना रह सकता है। अतः भारतीय दूतावास में स्थित नेपाल के उद्धारकत्र्ता पहाड़ों के प्रति असीम कृपा प्रदर्शन करते रहे हैं तथा बड़े ही आराम से विकास राशि को बिना ढ़कारे ही ड़कारते रहे हैं।

दिल्ली स्थित तराई तरंग के सम्पादकीय सलाहकार अफरोज आलम ‘साहिल‘ द्वारा सूचना अधिकार अधिनियम के तहत प्राप्त आंकड़ों के अनुसार वर्ष 1998 से 2008 के बीच भारत ने नेपाल को करीब 700 करोड़ यानि 07 अरब रुपये विकास सहायता राशि मद में दिया है। परन्तु स्मरण रहे कि इस अकूत राशि का विकास कार्यों में खर्च नेपाल सरकार के लोगों द्वारा नहीं किया जाता, वरन भारतीय दूतावास के राजनयिकों के इशारे पर होता है। अतः इन भारतीय विभूतियों को मलाई चाभने का काफी अवसर मिल जाता है। वैसे भी यह राशि अगर नेपाल सरकार के पदाधिकारियों के हाथों में भी जाती तो इसका परिणाम दूसरा कुछ नहीं होता। अतः भारतीय दूतावास के लोग अच्छा ही करते हैं कि भारत का धन किसी तरह से पुनः भारत वापस ले आते हैं।

सोमवार, 2 फ़रवरी 2009

भारत के खिलाफ आग उगल रहे माओवादी

अनिर्बन राय / समनवय डेस्क
काठमांडू, २ फरवरी

माओवादियों को नेपाल की सत्ता पर काबिज हुए छह माह हो चुके हैं, लेकिन उन्होंने भारत के खिलाफ अपना ‘जिहाद’ छोड़ा नहीं है। इसकी एक नजीर तब देखने को मिली जब वरिष्ठ माओवादी नेता मोहन वैद्य ने आरोप लगाया कि भारत नेपाल को तोड़ने की साजिश रच रहा है। उन्होंने कहा कि भारत के इस नापाक इरादे को नेपाल बिल्कुल भी सफल नहीं होने देगा।

वैद्य ने कहा कि भोजपुरी और मैथिली बोलने वाले मधेशियों को हथियार बनाकर नेपाल को विखंडित करने की कोशिशें हो रही हैं। इसके लिए देश की दक्षिणी सीमा के तराई क्षेत्र में राष्ट्रविरोधी तत्वों को हवा दी जा रही है। उन्होंने कहा कि यूपी और बिहार से लगे सीमावर्ती जिलों में दो साल से भारी अशांति छाई हुई है और मैथिल व भोजपुरिया लोग अपने लिए आत्मनिर्णय की मांग कर रहे हैं। यही नहीं, मधेशियों का एक हथियारबंद गुट तो अलग राज्य की मांग को लेकर भूमिगत संघर्ष छेड़े हुए है। माओवादी नेता ने कहा कि हम नेपाल को विछिन्न करने के भारत के इस नापाक इरादे को ध्वस्त करने में जीजान लगा देंगे।

गौरतलब है कि मोहन वैद्य को वर्ष 2003 में भारत में गिरफ्तार कर तीन साल के लिए पश्चिम बंगाल के जलपाइगुड़ी जेल में रखा गया था। उनका भारत विरोधी रवैया जग जाहिर है। वह पिछले कुछ माह के दौरान तब भी भारत के खिलाफ आग उगलते देखे गए जब खुद उनकी माओवादी सरकार भारत के साथ रिश्तों को सहज करने की कोशिश करती दिखाई दी। माओवादियों ने यहां तक कहा कि उसे भारत-नेपाल मैत्रि संधि-1950 को समाप्त करने की कोई जल्दी नहीं है।

दूसरी ओर भारत सरकार नेपाल के विकास और नेपाली जनता की जरूरतों के अनुरूप वहां की सरकार को अपनी मदद जारी रखे हुए है। सरकार का कहना है कि पड़ोसी मुल्क को सहायता मुहैया कराने के पीछे मकसद यही है कि उसके सामाजिक-आर्थिक विकास में हाथ बंटाया जा सके।

यह जानकारी नई दिल्ली के अफरोज आलम ‘साहिल’ को सूचनाधिकार कानून के तहत विदेश मंत्रालय ने भेजी है। इसमें कहा गया है कि भारत सरकार की ओर से दी जाने वाली सहायता राशि का कोई भी हिस्सा नेपाल के किसी गैर-सरकारी संगठन अथवा व्यक्ति विशेष को नहीं दिया जा रहा है।

विदेश मंत्रालय द्वारा दी गई सूचना के मुताबिक, वर्ष 1998-99 में नेपाल को जहां 64.37 करोड़ की सहायता राशि मुहैया कराई गई, वहीं वर्ष 2007-08 में यह 100.46 करोड़ पहुंच गई है। बीच के वर्षों में इस मद में उतार-चढ़ाव का क्रम जारी रहा।

मसलन, वर्ष 1999-2000 में यह 42.39 करोड़ थी जबकि वर्ष 2001-2002 में घटकर 39.53 करोड़ रह गई। वर्ष 2002-03 से पुनः इसे बढ़ाते हुए 45.93 करोड़ कर दिया गया। तब से इसमें निरंतर इजाफा हुआ है। वर्ष 2006-07 में यह सर्वाधिक यानी 186.40 करोड़ थी।