Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

On mob lynching issue, all political leaders should first refrain from igniting passions

akb 1On Friday last, a Muslim man Rakbar Khan was lynched by a group of self-styled cow vigilantes in a village near Alwar, Rajasthan. This incident took place even as the Centre and the Supreme Court were grappling with the issue of mob lynching in several parts of the country. Friday’s incident in Alwar resulted in the Congress and BJP leaders trading accusations through harsh tweets and statements.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted that ‘hatred has replaced humanity in his (Modi’s) brutal New India”. Union Minister Piyush Goyal hit back tweeting “You (Rahul) divide society for electoral gains and then shed crocodile tears. Enough is enough. You are a merchant of hate”. Several other senior ministers like Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad too hit back at the Congress.

Last evening, the Centre constituted a Group of Ministers to deal with rising incidents of mob lynching. It also formed a high-level committee, headed by Home Secretary which will submit its recommendations to the GoM headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The committee will study the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court last week, speak to state governments and then submit its report to the GoM.

All this will surely take time, but for the time being, one immediate step can be taken. All leaders of major political parties like the BJP and Congress, should stop issuing statements on this issue, because their remarks can ignite passions and encourage ‘mobocracy’. For example, if an MLA says that a war has been waged against cattle lifting and cow slaughter, and if another leader speaks on ‘Hindu Taliban’ , and if a third says that those advocating cow protection are ‘terrorists’, then all such remarks can give rise to undue tension, and this must be curbed at the earliest.

It has been noticed that in most of the mob lynching incidents, fake news spread through social media play a major role, and government alone cannot stop this. Local leaders will have to step in and timely prevent such mobs from going on a rampage. Social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook have taken some steps to curb the spread of fake news, but there has been no favourable impact on the ground level. It is surprising that fake news circulate fast and mobs gather to bash up the victims, but the local police intelligence units are blissfully unaware of this. The local intelligence machinery has to be on its toes to prevent such incidents from occurring.

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No-confidence motion in LS will test Opposition unity

rsOpposition parties in Lok Sabha gave notice for a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and the Speaker, on the first day of Monsoon Session of Parliament, has allowed a debate on Friday, which will be followed by voting. Former Congress President Sonia Gandhi was later asked by reporters whether she was confident of getting the required numbers to topple the government. Her reply itself was in the form of a question. She asked, who says we don’t have the numbers? Nobody knows on what basis Sonia Gandhi said this, but the numbers speak for themselves.

In a House of 543, ten seats are presently vacant, and a support of 264 MPs is required to get the motion through. The ruling BJP has 273 MPs, and its allies add up to 313. Probably, the Congress leaders assumed that many of the NDA allies, particularly Shiv Sena, were unhappy with BJP, and the main ally Telugu Desam Party has left the NDA. The Congress wanted to use this tool to embarrass the government, at least to show to the world that Prime Minister Modi does not command the majority that he used to in 2014. Probably the Congress leaders are unaware that BJP chief Amit Shah had been meeting almost all the NDA allies recently, and the ruling party is not at all worried.

There is no doubt that the no-confidence motion will fall through. On the other hand, the voting on the no-confidence motion will prove to be a test for Opposition unity, and Prime Minister Modi will get the chance to reply to all questions and criticisms that are being made against his government.

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Stringent law needed to curb lynching

aaj ki baat_frame_540 (002)The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Parliament to come up with a stringent law to curb incidents of lynching that are taking place in several parts of the country. In the last one year, 27 individuals have been lynched in nine states, with Maharashtra leading the other states of Jharkhand, Tripura, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Assam. Different political parties are in power in these states, and, therefore, a single political party or a government cannot be blamed.

The apex court clearly said, “horrendous acts of mobocracy” cannot be allowed and “extra-judicial acts, such as cow vigilantism” have to be nipped in the bud. The trend began with self-styled cow vigilantes, who were then warned of stern action publicly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but now there has been a spate of mob lynchings targeting people believed to be child snatchers, usually on the basis of fake information spread through WhatsApp messages.

The Supreme Court has recommended that Parliament should create a separate offence for such crimes and install the fear of law in the minds of offenders. The court set out elaborate guidelines for the Centre and states to follow in such cases, and also asked them curb circulation of inflammatory messages. Both the Centre and state governments should understand the spirit in which the apex court has issued these stringent guidelines. The sooner a law is enacted by Parliament, the better.

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Why Congress is on the defensive over Rahul’s ‘Muslim’ party remark

Aaj Ki Baat 16th JulyLast week while speaking to a group of Muslim scholars and intellectuals, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress is a party of Muslims. This was reported in an Urdu daily Inquilab, but was promptly denied by the party spokespersons. I have information that at that meeting, Rahul Gandhi said, the Congress fights for the Muslims, just like it fights for Sikhs, for Dalits and for farmers. He added, if anybody tells me Congress is a party of Muslims, let them say, I do not fear. Congress is a party of Muslims. The newspaper headlined this remark.

The BJP then went to analyse this on its own, and attacked Rahul Gandhi. This controversy would not have gained currency if Rahul Gandhi had come forward and given his clarification. But the problem is: Rahul cannot publicly and emphatically say that Congress is not a party of Muslims alone, nor can he say that Congress is a party of Muslims.

To put it briefly: Rahul used to take out half-phrases from Prime Minister Modi’s remarks and make it an issue in public. This time, the BJP has repaid him in his own coin, and the Congress party is scrambling for answers.


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Nawaz Sharif plays a masterstroke

Aaj-Ki-baat_frame_62779On Friday night, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were arrested the moment their plane landed at Lahore international airport from Abu Dhabi. Both of them were whisked away to Islamabad, from where Nawaz will be sent to Adiala jail near Rawalpindi, while his daughter will be lodged in a rest house converted into a sub-jail. Nawaz and Maryam have been sentenced to 10 years’ and 7 years’ imprisonment by the Accountability Court.

The arrest and detention comes at a time when Pakistan will be going to general elections 10 days from now on July 25. Nawaz Sharif, an astute politician, knows that if he and his daughter stayed away from the country after being convicted on charges of corruption, it could end his political career. The former Prime Minister played a masterstroke, which the current Pakistani establishment and army never expected. Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom is lying in a critical condition in a London hospital. Nawaz Sharif took a big political gamble, leaving his ailing wife in London, and decided to return to his country alongwith his daughter. This political gambit has raised the morale of his partymen, and his party leaders now hope to get emotional support from the electorate. There is a possibility that Nawaz’s party could score good results in the upcoming elections, and this has left the current Pakistani establishment and army flummoxed.

On Friday evening, massive arrangements were made to prevent Nawaz’s supporters from reaching the airport. Internet and mobile services were suspended, and orders were issued to state-run TV channels not to carry any news about Nawaz Sharif. Despite all this, Nawaz managed to convey his message to the Pakistani people through the social media. Politically speaking, this was a success for the former PM, and all eyes are now on the results of the forthcoming general elections.

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Shashi Tharoor raises the bogey of a ‘Hindu Pakistan’

akb (002)The voluble Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor had a jibe at BJP when he said that if the BJP retained power in next year’s general elections, it would alter the Constitution, which, in turn, would create conditions for, what he called, a ‘Hindu Pakistan’. The BJP has demanded an apology from the Congress MP saying that it was nothing but an attack on ‘Indian democracy and Hindus’.

The Congress, on its part, distanced itself from the controversy and advised its leaders on the need for ‘responsible phraseology’. Chief spokesperson of the party Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “India’s values & fundamentals are an unequivocal guarantee of our civilisational role & set us apart from the divisive idea of Pakistan. All Congress leaders must realise this historic responsibility bestowed upon us while choosing words & phraseology to reject BJP’s hatred.”

The surprising thing about Tharoor’s comment is that he quoted remarks made by Veer Savarkar and Deendayal Upadhyay on Hindu Rashtra to justify his stand.

The Congress party is often embarrassed by comments made by its own leaders like Mani Shankar Aiyar and Shashi Tharoor. In such circumstances, the party spokespersons find themselves on a sticky wicket. They have no way out but to distance the party from such individual remarks, and advise their own leaders to think before they speak.

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Parliament must pass law to ban triple talaq

akb 2 (002)The custom of ‘triple talaq’ has become the bane of Muslim women in India. The Supreme Court has already declared triple talaq as unlawful, and the Centre prepared a legislation to stop this social evil. The bill was passed in Lok Sabha, but was held up in Rajya Sabha, because the main opposition parties like the Congress opposed several of its provisions.

On the ground level, triple talaq continues unabated. The cases of divorced Muslim women like Nida, Sabina and Nisha clearly illustrate the torment Muslim women have to go through. On Tuesday in Bareilly, UP, a Muslim woman Razia died of starvation. She was given triple talaq by her husband over phone, but Razia refused to leave her home. She stayed inside her home, and her husband refused to give her food. A month later, she died of hunger.

Such incidents shock all of us when we hear such stories. We should, after all, think about the society in which we live. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government took the initiative to legislate banning of triple talaq, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board objected saying that the government should not interfere in the community’s affairs. The Board had then promised that it would eradicate such social evils on its own. The AIMPLB must now answer what happened to its promise.

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World applauds the daring rescue mission inside a flooded cave in Thailand

Aaj-Ki-baat_frame_62779 (003)Curtains were finally drawn on the 18-day-long ordeal inside a treacherous flooded cave in northern Thailand, where 12 young footballers and their coach were trapped, battling for life. The international rescue mission set an example before the world to prove how bravery and technology can combine to surmount tough obstacles.

We should all praise the coach who kept the morale of his boys high, and showed them how to stay alive in tough conditions. He shared his food with the boys ad taught them lessons in endurance. When the world came to know about this disaster, trained and experienced divers were sent to assist the Thai Navy SEAL divers.

Let us hope the children who had undergone the traumatic experience will recover soon in hospital and take up FIFA’s offer to watch the World Cup final in time.

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The sordid murder of a dreaded gangster inside a UP jail

akb_frame_40061 (002)A dreaded gangster Prem Prakash Singh aka Munna Bajrangi was shot dead inside a jail in Baghpat, UP on Monday morning, hours after he was brought from Jhansi jail for production in a court.

According to officials, Munna Bajrangi was shot by another gangster Sunil Rathi, who had allegedly procured the .30 bore pistol that was hidden inside a septic tank.

Both were gangsters and were facing charges of heinous crimes. Munna Bajrangi had more than 40 cases of murder and extortion against him. He alongwith his associates had killed a BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai in 2005. Sunil Rathi had cases of murder, extortion and robbery against him.

The moot question is: how was a prisoner killed in cold blood inside a jail? And that too, inside the high-security barracks. The pistol that was used to pump ten bullets into Munna Bajrangi’s body vanished soon, but was recovered late in the evening. It points to a well-planned conspiracy. One hopes the answers to all these questions will be revealed soon and strict action will be taken against the culprit.

Till now, criminals in UP used to seek the safety of jails in order to evade “fake” encounters with police, but this too, has now become elusive. Conditions in UP jails have become worse over the years, and steps should be taken on a war footing to bring reforms in these jails.


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What Mehbooba Mufti said in ‘Aap Ki Adalat’

aaj-kibaatFormer Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was my guest in the show Aap Ki Adalat yesterday (The show will be telecast on Saturday and Sunday). The gist of what she said during the show was that India will have to restart dialogue with Pakistan if bloodshed in the valley has to end.

In the show, Mehbooba said several times emphatically that talks were the only way out, and there was no other way. Mehbooba’s argument was that it was India which suffered heavily because of bloodshed in Kashmir, and Pakistan suffered less. So the onus on restarting dialogue falls on India more.

She agreed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to start dialogue with Pakistan, but it had no desired results. Throughout the one-hour show, Mehbooba Mufti spoke repeatedly about former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s police of “Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat”. Her logic was that only Vajpayee’s path of dialogue and conciliation would solve the Kashmir problem.

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Vijay Mallya is fighting a losing battle in UK

Aaj-ki-Baat 6th julyThe United Kingdom High Court has allowed a consortium of 13 Indian banks to permit enforcement agencies to enter the sprawling estate of fugitive economic offender Vijay Mallya and seize his possessions to recover dues.

The former liquor baron has been staying in his estate in Tewin near London after fleeing India. Mallya owes the consortium Rs 6,203 crore plus interest, which comes to a total of Rs 9,863 crore. The court order clearly says that the High Court enforcement officer or his agent can enter the properties of Mallya and after search, can take possession of goods towards recovery of debts. It has allowed the enforcement officer to use “reasonable force, if necessary”.

Mallya is also facing an extradition trial at the Westminster Magistrate’s Court, and he is due to appear on July 31. India has sought his extradition and has conveyed its request at the highest level.

It appears that Mallya is now fighting a losing battle, and he may not be able to evade the hands of law. He will have to return to India and repay his debts. Mallya had last week written a letter to the State Bank of India expressing his willingness to auction his properties to repay the debts. He has also appealed before the Karnataka High Court. It seems that Mallya and his lawyers were aware of the adverse order that was to come from the UK High Court. The fugitive economic offender will now have to face the full brunt of law, which has been made stringent after he fled India to evade repayment of bank debts.

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Nothing wrong in PM Modi playing the ‘farmers card’

aaj ki baat_frame_5048The Centre on Wednesday hiked the minimum support prices of 14 Kharif crops for the 2018-19 marketing season. This was in pursuance of BJP’s 2014 poll promise to provide farmers at least 50 per cent profit over their cost of production. Prime Minister Narendra Modi later described it as a “historic hike”. This decision will entail a burden of nearly Rs 15,000 crore on the national exchequer, but the catch lies in its implementation.

Farmers have been complaining for the last several years that government procurement centres were not buying their crops in full, and grain merchants were forcing farmers to sell at lesser prices. The Centre will have to strengthen the procurement system in sync with the state governments.

Secondly, the hike in MSPs of farm produce will surely cause inflationary pressures on the prices of foodgrains and pulses. This is bound to affect the budget of common man, particularly the lower and middle classes. The government will have to find solutions to problems relating to inflation that are bound to occur in the short term.

The Congress has alleged that the ruling party has done this in order to garner the votes of farmers. The BJP is, after all, a political party, and it has been doing politics for the sake of power. There is nothing wrong if it takes steps in order to get the votes of farming community.

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