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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 17, April 13, 2013

Nation Bruised even as Hopes are Rekindled


Sunday 14 April 2013, by SC

Yesterday a sessions court in Delhi set aside the order of a magisterial court in April 2010, that is, precisely three years ago, accepting the closure report of the CBI on the charges against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in an anti-Sikh riots case. Tytler, a former Union Minister, was accused of instigating a mob on November 1, 1984 that led to three persons, who had taken shelter in a gurdwara, losing their lives. The Additional Sessions Judge, who set aside the 2010 magesterial order, also reprimanded the CBI for not having recorded the statements of all available witnesses. “Non-examination of these persons by the CBI was improper,” the ASJ averred. The sessions court upheld the plea of the complainant whose husband was one of the victims. There were four eye-witnesses but their statements were disregarded by the CBI which has now been asked to record those.

After more than 28 years this new ruling by a Delhi court has rekindled hopes in the hearts of those who suffered grievous blows as a consequence of the anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

If the recent building collapse in Mumbra near Mumbai has once more exposed the unholy nexus between the builders lobby, politicians and bureaucrats in the country’s industrial capital, the serious allegations levelled by a Pune-based NGO against Maharashtra’s Deputy CM Ajit Pawar have caused no less concern. These allegations, based on solid information, point to the fact that between 2003 and 2011 Pawar, as the State’s Water Resources Minister, had chaired or participated in the deliberations of a high-powered committee that diverted about 2000 million cubic metres of water for irrigation to industries. Maharashtra is facing its worst drought in decades and this has been the result of such massive diversion of water in defiance of the Central water policy that sets irrigation as a higher priority than industries even if it is in tune with the State’s water policy giving preference to industries while apportioning water.

Meanwhile political violence persists in West Bengal. The latest bout of such violence has come in the aftermath of the CPM activists’ demonstration against the West Bengal CM and State Finance Minister before the Planning Commission in New Delhi (to protest CM Mamata Banerjee’s “insensitive” remarks after the death of a Left student activist in Kolkata in police custody) that culminated in the reprehensible manhandling of Finance Minister Amit Mitra; this even the CPM Polit-Bureau had to “condemn”. In retaliation Trinamul Congress activists went on a rampage across the State damaging and burning down CPM party offices. What is far worse, even the Presidency University’s famous Baker Laboratory (which was, ironically, vandalised by extreme Left students owing allegiance to the CPM in 1966) was ransacked and students attacked and girl students threatened with molestation and rape by outsiders carrying Trinamul flags within the campus, something unprecedented indeed. This incident led a large band of students and teachers of the University along with the alumni of the prestigious institution to come out on the streets of Kolkata in a unique silent protest march that has left a deep impress upon the psyche of the city and the State. But would that have any effect on the State Government and its head?

April 11 S.C.

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