Godhra Carnage Cases
VERDICTS, MIXED BAG
New Delhi, April 14 : Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is a very relieved man today. Thanks to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) absolving him and 61 other accused in the 2002 Gulberg society bloodbath due to lack of evidence which resulted in the death of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and many others. Recall, the SIT was set up following a complaint filed against Modi by Jafri’s widow charging the State police of bias while investigating the post Godhra riots in 2006. But this is only the first hurdle the Chief Minister has crossed. The Ahmedabad metropolitan court now has to decide whether to accept the report and close the case or take cognizance of the Apex Court’s amicus curie’s findings which recommended grounds for Modi’s prosecution. Either way, India’s first Chief Minister who made it to the Time magazine cover evokes mixed feelings: Feted by many and a man who not a few love to hate!
On the other hand, in the Ode massacre case, 10 years of a long wait and pain finally bore fruit when a special court in Anand district convicted 23 and acquitted another 23 for setting a house on fire in which 23 Muslims, mainly women and children, were burnt to death. Notwithstanding, the hits and misses, one judge transferred after hearing the lawsuit for a year, a special prosecutor quitting mid-way, leaving it to a new sessions judge to carry the case to its logical conclusion.. Significantly, both the verdicts will be used by arch rivals Congress and BJP to their advantage in the State Assembly elections just months away. While the Ode judgment has given the Congress a perfect handle to beat Modi with, the Gulberg verdict is a boon for him. Indeed, justice may be delayed but not denied!
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Muslims Fight For UP Crown
Communal tu-tu-mein-mein has acquired an altogether new dimension in UP. Following a no-holds-barred face-off between Samajwadi’s Muslim face Urban Development Minister Azam Khan and Delhi’s Jama Masjid Imam Syed Bukhari to wrest the who-cares-more-for-Muslims and the leadership crown within the Party hierarchy. Bukhari, who had asked Muslims to vote for the Samajwadi has now accused the Party of giving the community an unfair deal. To show his angst, he rejected seven Legislative Council candidates including his son-in-law. Accusing Bukhari of sour grapes, Azam Khan lashed out that ‘power broker’ was lusting for a Rajya Sabha seat for his brother and Cabinet berth for son-in-law. A livid Imam retaliated, Khan does not enjoy any support among the Muslims. Hit back Khan, “Bukhari would know his popularity if he contests the upcoming Moradabad mayor elections, I will leave politics forever if he saves his deposit.” Inadvertently, this battle royale has resulted in Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s first major political crisis.
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Stormy Petrel To ‘Begum’ Mamata
From UPA’s stormy petrel to ‘Begum’ Mamata, W Bengal’s Chief Minister has donned a new mantle. With an eye on next May’s panchayat polls, she is showering more sops to Muslim including new loan schemes and stipends to 75,000 students, creating an employment bank, promising official stamp on 10,000 madrasas, monthly honorarium and housing subsidy for Imams and a 73 per cent increased allocation to the minorities department for Muslim upliftment this year. Pertinently, one of the main reasons for Mamta’s victory was that the 26 per cent minority votes shifted allegiance from the Left to her. Clearly, the polls would be Trinamool’s first trial of strength after it took office last year.
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Odisha Hostage Crisis Continues
Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik Government continues to be caught between a rock and a hard place notwithstanding the release of the Italian tourist. At one end, the nerve-racking confrontation with one Naxalite outfit to free BJD MLA persists, at the other the State’s Police Association has threatened to boycott duty in Maoist-infested areas if the Government releases five more hardcore Maoists after agreeing to 23 others in exchange for the MLA. Indeed, this would not only affect the morale but also send a bad signal to over 100 families who have lost their dear ones. Thus, to prevent any rebellion, the State Administration has sought police’s and legal opinions. As there is no end in sight, fingers are crossed over the fate of the legislator.
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Bihar Governor-CM Tiff
The rift between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Governor Devanand Konwar is now in the open. The bone of contention: “Poor status of higher education.” While the Chief Minister wants to usher educational reforms, the Governor reads it as curbing his powers. Things have come to an unseemly pass wherein Konwar accused his Government of stifling autonomy of higher education by not granting funds to universities and Nitish retaliated by denouncing the Governor of using the media to score petty points. Recall, the Chief Minister and Governor have not been on the same page for over a year due to the method of appointing Vice Chancellors and university teachers. Also Nitish’s proposal to set up a University Service Commission to appoint Vice Chancellors is viewed by Raj Bhawan as another attempt to curtail the Governor’s powers. Indeed the mistrust is so deep that five Bills are pending with the Governor. It remains to be seen who will educate whom!
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Himachal For Special Package
Himachal Pradesh is the latest in the line-up of States seeking a special Rs. 2,000 crore package from the Centre for the State to meet committed liabilities. Accusing New Delhi of bias, Chief Minister Dhumal questioned why Himachal with its hilly terrain and difficult topography had been granted just 50 per cent hike in allocation of funds by the Finance Commission whereas some UPA ruled States got 150 per cent increase. Adding to its woes, the Special Industrial Package was curtailed from 10 to 7 years unlike Congress-ruled Sikkim and Congress-NC’s J&K which retained there share. Resulting in many hydro-power projects being stuck as the Centre had not accorded various clearances within the time frame. Will the Centre heed?—INFA
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