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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 27, 2013 AT 19:29 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 27, 2013 19:29 IST

Churumuri writes:

Deccan Herald journalist Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui has walked out of the central jail in Bangalore a free man, six months after being named by the city’s police in an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba plot to target two Kannada journalists and the publisher of the newspaper they were earlier employed in.

Siddiqui had been accused of being the “mastermind” of a gang of 15 in August last year to kill editor Vishweshwar Bhat, columnist Pratap Simha and publisher Vijay Sankeshwar, allegedly for their “right-wing leanings“. The journalists were with Vijaya Karnataka of The Times of India group, before they joined Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s Kannada Prabha.

The national investigation agency (NIA), which investigated the case, didn’t name Siddiqui in its chargesheet on February 20 following which a special court trying the case ordered his release on February 23.

On Monday night, Siddiqui walked out of jail and on Tuesday, he addressed a press conference.

Reporting for the Indian Express, Johnson T.A. writes:

About six months ago, when he appeared in court for the first time after being named by the Bangalore Police, Siddiqui, 26, still had the glint of youthful exuberance in his eyes.

But now, the first thing that comes to mind on seeing Siddiqui after his release from prison on Monday, is the disappearance of that enthusiasm from his face. Gone is the glint in his eyes, and in its place is a serious, sad man.

Even so, Siddiqui, whose thesis suggestion for his PG diploma in mass communication—’Media coverage of terrorism suspects’—was struck down by his supervisor pulled no punches in describing his own ordeal before his colleagues, compatriots and competitors.

  1. “The media has forgotten the ‘A’ in the ABC of Journalism [Accuracy-Brevity-Clarity].”
  2. “I always thought the police, media and society at large do not treat terror suspects fairly. That thinking has been reinforced by my experience.”
  3. “Security agencies are not sensitive towards the poor and weaker sections of society. If you look at the way the entire operation was carried out by the police and reported by the media, this insensitivity is clear.”
  4. According to the [Bangalore] police and the media, I am the mastermind. If I am the mastermind, why are the others still in jail? I hope they too will get justice.”
  5. “The media and the police need to be more sensitive toward the downtrodden, Dalits and Muslims. The way the media and the police behaved raises basic questions about their attitude toward Muslims.
  6.   “Muslims are often cast by the media and police in stereotypes. There is an institutional bias which manifests in such cases. This is not just about me; it is about hundreds like me who are in jails [across the country] on terror charges. Muslims are not terrorists.”
  7. “If I was not a Muslim the police wouldn’t have picked me…. They first arrest people, then find evidence against them. What happened on August 29, 2012 was no arrest but downright kidnapping. A bunch of strong men barged into our house and forcefully took us away in their vehicles. This even as we were pleading and asking why we were being taken out.”
  8. “They kept interrogating me as if I was the mastermind and kept saying that I’d be in for seven years for sure. Everyone knows that jail is no fun place. For the first 30 days we were cramped in a small room. The confinement itself was torture.  They did not inform our families. They did not tell us what we were being arrested for. They made us sign 30-40 blank sheets of paper. One of these papers was used to create fake, back-dated arrest intimation.”
  9. “Some fair play is still possible in the system. Though justice was delayed, it wasn’t denied in my case.”

Siddiqui, who is still on Deccan Herald‘s roster, says he wants to go back to journalism, for that is his passion, but wants to spend time with his family first.

Two other journalists—Jigna Vora of The Asian Age and S.M.A. Kazmi—have been arrested in recent times on terror charges. They are both out on bail.

Also See: 

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 27, 2013 AT 19:29 IST, Edited At: Feb 27, 2013 19:29 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Aug 31, 2012 AT 20:53 IST ,  Edited At: Aug 31, 2012 20:53 IST


Muthiurrahman Siddiqui, courtesy: Facebook

Yesterday, Bangalore police arrested 11 persons, including a DRDO scientist and a journalist, with alleged links to Lashkar-e-Taiba and HUJI. and claimed to have foiled their plot to target MPs, MLAs and media persons in Karnataka.

Among the 11, the most shocking inclusion was a Bangalore-based journalist who has since been named by the police as the “mastermind” of the alleged plot:

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Aug 31, 2012 AT 20:53 IST, Edited At: Aug 31, 2012 20:53 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jul 29, 2011 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Jul 29, 2011 23:40 IST

Now that the redoubtable Mr Digvijaya Singh has jumped into the fray ("It's a very bad article and it is seditious also") after the Harvard students who wanted that the university "end its association with religious extremist Subramanian Swamy"  for his distasteful  op-ed of July 16 in the DNA, it is perhaps time to compile our old short-takes and also revisit Salil Tripathi's article in the Mint on July 20:

If the secular, liberal, and leftist Indians want views like Swamy’s to be restricted, then the right-wing nationalists will want views like Arundhati Roy’s to be restricted. This is not to suggest that Roy and Swamy are in any way comparable, except to suggest that both arouse visceral responses of similar intensity among different types of Indians, and India is a better society if it aggressively protects free speech. Disagree with them by all means; challenge them, debate them. Don’t stop them from speaking. Otherwise, as the late Behram Contractor, who wrote as Busybee, astutely observed about the emergency, the only safe topics left to discuss will be cricket and mangoes.

As Sandip Roy points out in the Firstpost, more than anything else, hounding Mr Swamy out of Harvard would only make him a "freespeech martyr".

The Harvard petitioners had better be careful that they don’t make Swamy a political martyr in their zeal to kick him off campus without real debate. That would allow him the perfect excuse to retreat to the safety of yet more newspaper op-eds, where he can sit on a pedestal and lob incendiary monologues.

Let Subramanian Swamy defend his ideas instead, and the whiplash-inducing twists and turns in his ideology, in an open forum...

Swamy clearly does not believe in a pluralistic “open” society. But that is no reason for the rest of us to cede those values in the name of opposing him. To repeat what he once said about Saudi Arabia: “We are not going to imitate them. Our society is different.”

Harvard students should hoist Swamy on his own words. Instead of sending him into exile, they should remind of this inconvenient truth: There is no democracy without debate.

Meanwhile, Mr Swamy seems to be revelling in all the attention that he has never perhaps got before in his life, not even for all his 2G activism, or so it would seem at least going by his tweets of the past few days, where he can of course choose to be selective in what he responds to:

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jul 29, 2011 AT 23:40 IST, Edited At: Jul 29, 2011 23:40 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Jun 08, 2011 AT 06:19 IST ,  Edited At: Jun 08, 2011 06:19 IST

Sagarika Ghose in the Hindustan Times:

The UPA has dispatched Ramdev to his ashram. The police action at the Ramlila Maidan was insupportable and the BJP has now gained a cause celebre. The RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have fully supported Ramdev from the start. On Twitter, anyone critical of Ramdev is being dubbed a ‘Congress
agent’ by Sangh parivar activists.

The Ramdev phenomenon and, to some extent, the Anna Hazare campaign are part of India’s right-wing nationalist revolution. It is right-wing because it is based on national pride and individual entitlement. It is a movement of the middle and lower middle class buoyed up by 9% growth that now seeks a responsive, overtly honest government and a hard State.

This revolution is closely linked to a Hindu consolidation spreading through society. Perhaps as a backlash to globalisation, urban religiosity and Bharatiya sanskriti have become fashionable; faith in gurus is growing and it cuts across classes. Ramdev jumps from colas to homosexuality to black money in his choice of enemies, yet his devotees’ faith remains constant.

Notwithstanding the BJP’s crushing electoral defeats, the Hindu nationalist consolidation is gathering tremendous cultural momentum, much of which feeds into the anti-corruption campaigns. The Ram janmabhoomi movement is back, in a new sophisticated avatar.

Read on at the Hindustan Times

Incidentally, journalists known to be close to the BJP are far more circumspect about the impact of Ramdev.

Swapan Dasgupta in the Times of India puts his finger on what should certainly be worrying the BJP:

The BJP believes it too will be the principal gainer from the Congress's inability to respond to the 2009 mandate. That may be. Yet, it should reflect over why civil society movements are acquiring momentum in precisely those regions where BJP is the natural alternative to the Congress. Even if the Facebook crowd is aesthetically inclined towards the 'non-party' activism of the NGOs and the likes of Anna Hazare, why is the non-cosmopolitan middle class acquiescing to the opposition mantle being passed on to a baba rather than to a political party espousing the same values?

For India's politicians, the need to subsume banality and dubious history in reflection was never more pressing. The Ramdev crisis has burnt the Congress but it has also singed the opposition.

And Ashok Malik argues that Ramdev is too independent and autonomous to be satisfied being a prop for the Sangh Parivar – as the RSS network is called – or indeed any party:

Till a week ago he seemed happy to do a deal with the Congress on his terms. Today, he is happy to enter into a mutually-beneficial and expedient relationship with non-Congress parties, the BJP the biggest among them....

Ramdev is a Yadav from Haryana, an OBC. He can attribute his fame not to some ancient monastery but to television. He is one of a generation of astonishingly successful televangelists.

These televangelists don’t restrict themselves to caste or sectional mobilisation; they don’t carve out geographical territories. Instead, they seek to construct pan-Indian constituencies, particularly among television-watching audiences in urban India, largely in small towns but in big cities as well.

Today, a Ramdev has greater name, brand and face recall than the RSS, the VHP and almost all of the worthies who signed up for the dharma sansad 20-25 years ago. Unlike them, he is not going to be reined in by group discipline. That’s what makes him – and others like him – so fascinating and so unpredictable.

The question is: can they influence voting decisions as well?

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Jun 08, 2011 AT 06:19 IST, Edited At: Jun 08, 2011 06:19 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 14, 2011 AT 01:38 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 14, 2011 01:38 IST

Javed Anand in the Indian Express:

A few weeks ago, I received a call from Mayank Gandhi, Mumbai coordinator of ‘India Against Corruption’, invting me to be part of a panel in Mumbai to address a press conference on the then upcoming fast by Anna Hazare. “Your name has been suggested to me by Swami Agnivesh. We want Muslims like you, not fanatical Muslims. So please join us and suggest other Muslim names”, I was told.

Great, I thought: Which Indian is not sick of corruption? Here was a budding movement, clearly focused on a single issue but not blind to related concerns. The Mumbai coordinator of the campaign was very clear that they were only interested in “good Muslims” like me and did not wish to get mixed up with the fundamentalist lot. So I thanked him for the invitation and promised to get back in a day or two.

Read on at the Indian Express

Harsh Mandar in the Hindustan Times:

And yet why could I not actively join the demonstration at Jantar Mantar? First, the symbols and allies that the campaign chose disturbed me: the stage was decorated with a picture of Bharat Mata, almost identical to that propagated by the right-wing RSS. Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the two 'god-men' who dominated the campaign and whose followers contributed the largest numbers at the protest, endorse many Hindutva causes including the construction of a Ram Temple. RSS leaders like Ram Madhav were welcomed on to the stage. My fears were further confirmed when Anna Hazare declared that Narendra Modi was a 'model' chief minister. It's difficult to comprehend how a campaign that claims to be Gandhian can extol a government responsible for the slaughter of its religious minorities. Is the condoning of violent retribution against communities, the complicity in slaughter of the official machinery, the systematic subversion of the criminal justice system to protect those guilty of the massacre, or extra-judicial killings not signs of corruption?

Read the full piece at the Hindustan Times

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 14, 2011 AT 01:38 IST, Edited At: Apr 14, 2011 01:38 IST
     
 
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