Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Delhi riots were pre-meditated, planned days in advance

AKB As Friday prayers passed off peacefully in the riot affected areas of North East Delhi, the official death toll rose to 42 as four more people succumbed to injuries in hospital. Delhi Police special investigation team and forensic experts went through evidences found from former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain’s building and the nearby drain from where corpses were recovered.

The manner in which stones, bricks, petrol and acid bombs were stored on the roof of Tahir Hussain’s building, along with large slingshots kept on the terrace clearly show that the riots were pre-planned days in advance. Eyewitness accounts reveal that a large number of outsiders from a neighbouring state had come to these areas to carry out arson, stoning and murders. Most of these outsiders vanished after the riots.

Reports say there were two big criminal gangs who had infiltrated North East Delhi to execute their diabolical plan. They were experts in committing crimes and had brought a large number of country made pistols from which more than 900 rounds were fired during the riots.

The criminals who had come from outside had bigger plans to carry out mayhem for a prolonged period but for the timely intervention of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval who personally went to the riot-hit areas on Tuesday night and foiled their plans. The criminals knew that they would be rounded up quickly and they simply vanished. The rioter, Shahrukh, who was seen brandishing a pistol at a Delhi police constable also went underground along with these criminals.

Most of the residents of these riot affected areas, both Hindus and Muslims, disclosed that the rioters had come from outside and they had never seen them before. They were moving around like professional criminals who knew what they wanted to do. Police is now going through all the call detail records in the areas of cellphones that had come from outside, and what messages were being circulated via social media. The investigators want to zero in on the criminals who had come to Delhi from outside.

India TV reporters found large iron slings used on rickshaws and rooftop of a public school building for carrying out arson attacks during the riots. The slings were carved out by welding large pieces of iron to give a better effect. Similarly, bottles filled with acid and petrol were found on the rooftop of Tahir Hussain, clearly indicating that the riots were pre-planned. Two big schools, DRP School and Rajdhani School, both in Shiv Vihar were completely destroyed by rioters and later they were used as launching pads for attacks.

Pakistan’s ISI had been trying to foment communal tension and strife in India with the help of its sleeper cells. Terrorist Ajmal Kasab was sent to Mumbai with a sacred thread tied to his wrist to mislead investigators that he was a Hindu. Terror attacks were carried out on temples and mosques in order to create bitterness among Hindus and Muslims, but the people of India, irrespective of religion, have already seen through the game plan of our enemies. All efforts to sow discord and communal strife have been rejected by both Hindu and Muslim communities, who have been living in peace for centuries.

It is time for all of us to ignore provocative messages and videos being circulated on WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools. The people of India must rebuff Pakistan’s plans to create misgivings and hatred among communities. Time has come to give a strong reply to those who want to defame India in the eyes of the world.

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How a local AAP leader masterminded murders and arson during Delhi riots

akb0712Life is slowly returning to normal in riot-hit areas of North East Delhi, even as Delhi Police on Thursday night filed an FIR against Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain and his associates on charges of murdering an Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma. Tahir Hussain is presently evading police, though he has given interviews to news channels claiming that he was innocent.

Ankit Sharma’s brother had alleged that a mob had dragged him along with three others to a building owned by Tahir Hussain, where he was murdered and his body was found of February 26 from a drain adjoining the building.

A video emerged on Thursday in which some people were shown throwing a body into the drain flowing near Tahir Hussain’s house. The video was shot from a nearby building. An unidentified body was recovered from the drain on Thursday. This has now become a ‘drain of horrors’ as several bodies have been recovered from here after the riots. The drain flows towards Mustafabad and Gokulpuri, places where riots had taken place on Sunday and Monday.

On Thursday, another video emerged of Molotov cocktails, stones, acid filled bottles and bricks assembled on the roof top of Tahir Hussain’s building. The video clearly shows Tahir Hussain walking on the roof with a stick in his hand and peering into nearby buildings where flaming petrol bombs were being thrown. The video also clearly shows people pelting stones and bricks from the roof top.

India TV reporters on Thursday showed how all the vehicles inside a parking lot adjacent to Tahir Hussain’s building were completely charred during the riots. A family preparing sweets for a girl’s marriage in the adjoining building suffered the most with all utensils filled with sweets meant for the wedding completely destroyed.

Delhi Police has sealed Tahir Hussain’s building and is going through all the videos to ascertain the culpability of the AAP leader and his associates. The AAP councillor claimed on Thursday that a mob of nearly 150 people forcibly entered his building and kidnapped him, but his face and body does not show a single mark of scratch or injury during the interview.

Clearly, he is lying and the sooner he is arrested by the police, the better. The law courts must complete the trial at a fast pace and the murderers, arsonists and rioters must be given exemplary punishment so that criminals must not dare repeat such atrocities in future.

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On Delhi riots, Ajit Doval’s courage and Trump

AKB1411 National Security Adviser Ajit Doval deserves praise for the manner in which he brought the spiralling communal violence in North East Delhi under control. The decision to send Doval to control riots in Delhi was taken at the highest level hours before the US President Donald Trump was scheduled to leave Delhi.

Doval spent almost the entire Tuesday night at Ground Zero, spoke to senior police officials and interacted with local community leaders in Seelampur, Jaffrabad, Maujpur and Gokulpuri, worst hit by violence, to restore peace.

He was back in the riot-hit areas on Wednesday afternoon. Doval visited the residential localities, knocked on people’s doors and assured commoners on the streets that they were now safe. “Whatever has happened, has happened, there will be peace now”, he told people whom he met on the streets.

Doval is not a politician, he is one of the seniormost bureaucrats. He could well have sat inside his air-conditioned office, prepared a strategy and could have issued orders, but he preferred to go straight to where the action was. First, he visited the violence-hit areas late in the night to assess the exact situation, toned up the police force and assured local community leaders about steps to restore peace.

The results were evident the very next day. There was no more violence despite tense calm prevailing in the localities. By visiting the riot-hit areas, Doval gave a clear message to the people that they should have nothing to worry. He met both Hindus and Muslims and heard their grievances.

Secondly, Doval’s visit gave a big boost to the sagging morale of Delhi police, which had been battling communal violence that had escalated for three days in a row. Doval gave a message to the police force that he did not believe in sitting in his office at a time when policemen were battling the goons on the streets.

One head constable lost his life, an Intelligence Bureau staffer was killed and his body was thrown into a drain, and acid bombs were hurled at policemen. Into this cauldron of violence, Doval summoned the courage to visit, without wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest. The officers of Delhi Police needed a courageous leader who could give them the right direction, and Doval showed the way.

It has now come to notice that the violence in Delhi was part of a premeditated plan to create widespread unrest during the US President’s visit. The violence was not spontaneous. Modi baiters had hoped that the international media accompanying Trump would take notice of the violence and the US President would make comments on the issue of CAA, giving a handle to India’s enemies.

Trump preferred not to speak on CAA and said that he believed in Prime Minister Modi who can take all sections of society with him. On the issue of Kashmir too, Trump spoke carefully, disappointing Pakistan and its PM Imran Khan.

Do not for a moment think that Trump took this careful approach because of the huge ovation he got in Gujarat. In fact, he discussed these issues with Modi and was fully convinced with the policy and intentions of the Indian government. Needless to say that convincing an outspoken leader like Trump was not an easy job for Modi.

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How Modi deftly scripted a grand ovation for Trump on Indian soil

AKB1010Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done the magic. He has shown the power of love of the people of India to the leader of the world’s most powerful nation.

US President Donald Trump was so much touched by the grand reception given to him at the world’s biggest cricket stadium that he publicly praised Modi several times during his speech. He also praised India’s democracy and the tremendous progress it has achieved since independence and also the success of the big schemes under Modi’s tenure.

In all, Trump hugged Modi seven times, shook hands with him nine times, named Modi at least 27 times and named India 55 times on Monday. You can call it the Modi effect, as a huge 1.25 lakh crowd chanted ‘Modi, Modi’. Not only Trump, any world leader would have been hugely impressed on watching this grand spectacle.

The level of affection was evident from the manner in which Trump was praising “my dear friend” Modi. Normally, Trump prefers self praise and is prone to making acerbic remarks at other leaders, but on Monday, it was a completely different tune. And the entire grand spectacle was telecast live on international news channels like Fox News, BBC, CNN and other networks.

Normally, whenever US presidents visited India, news about their visits used to get passing reference in international news channels, but this time, almost the entire world was watching the grand spectacle across TV news networks.

On Monday, the US President praised Modi’s work style and he attributed the tremendous progress that his government had achieved to the hard work and toil put by our PM. Trump described Modi as his “true friend”, described him as “a tough negotiator” and promised to do a “very major, among the biggest ever made” trade deals with India.

Trump also gave a clear warning to terrorists based in Pakistan. “The US and India are firmly united in our ironclad resolve to defend our citizens from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism”, Trump said. He also gave a personal touch in his fulsome praise of Modi, by recalling how he rose from a tea seller to become India’s prime minister through sheer hard work and perseverance. He also mentioned the landslide victory secured by Modi last year to say how much the Indian people loved their Prime Minister.

Those who keep a watch on Trump’s Twitter handle surely know the extent of self praise that he indulges in, but this is probably the first time when Trump openly praised Modi to the skies before the world’s eyes. There are nearly four million people of Indian origin in the US, and Trump knows that most of them are supporters of Modi. Trump values the support of these people of Indian origin in an election year.

For Narendra Modi, this is a moment of utmost satisfaction. The strong ties of friendship that he has forged with the US President are surely going to reflect in the official level talks that are going to take place on Tuesday.

For every Indian, Trump mentioning Pakistan while speaking about radical Islamic terrorism is a vindication of all the statements made by Modi over the last several years. That until and unless Pakistan gets rid of jihadis from its soil, there cannot be any lasting true friendship.

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Trump’s historic India visit will send key signals to China, Pakistan

akb In what could be a stunning projection of India-US friendship on the world stage, US President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner will be accorded a grand reception in India on their arrival in Ahmedabad on February 24.

Lakhs of people are expected to line the route that the US President will take from the airport to Motera, where the world’s largest cricket stadium has been built. More than a lakh people will pack the stadium to greet Trump, a spectacle no US President has seen yet on an overseas visit.

On Thursday, Trump spoke about the huge reception he was expecting in Gujarat. He compared the massive reception that was awaiting in India with the 60,000-seat stadium in Colorado by remarking, “It’s going to look like peanuts, from now on”.

The First Family from the US will be spending the evening at the world famous Taj Mahal in Agra. The second day of the visit will be devoted to serious talks in Delhi between Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with their ministers and officials.

I would like to view Trump’s visit as special on several counts. US presidential elections are due later this year, and after seeing the 50,000-strong NRI crowd at the Howdy Modi! rally in Houston, Texas last year, Trump has gauged the popularity of our Prime Minister among people of Indian origin in the USA. Trump has admitted on record that he is now habituated watching huge rallies. This time, Narendra Modi has invited almost 1.25 lakh people to greet Trump at the Motera stadium.

Normally, huge crowds rarely turn up in the US, but we know, in India, Modi has the magic to bring in 10 lakh people at a single rally. Naturally, Trump is very excited with the numbers. Earlier, he said, seven million people will turn up to greet him, and on Friday he hiked up the number to 10 million.

Trump may have confused millions with lakhs, but keeping that aside, one should try to understand the thinking behind his expectations and excitement. Trump values his personal rapport with Prime Minister Modi.

On Thursday, Trump claimed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg personally told him that he was No. 1 on Facebook. At an event, Trump said, “The head of Facebook Mr Zuckerberg came in three weeks ago. He said, Congratulations. I said, On what? He said , you’re Number One on Facebook. I said, that’s cool, I’m number one on Twitter too. …And I congratulated Prime Minister Modi. I said, but you know, you have 1.5 billion people, I have 350 million. You have an advantage.”

Facts however show that Modi is Number 1 on Facebook, as of now. He is followed by 44 million people, while Trump’s Facebook account is followed by 27 million people.

I remember, when Prime Minister Modi spoke to me last year during the Lok Sabha polls in India TV’s ‘Salaam India’ event, he had disclosed the personal rapport he had already established with Trump.

Modi then revealed how Trump personally took him on a tour of White House and showed him Abraham Lincoln’s Room and other relics from US history, and spoke extempore without taking help from notes.

This India visit by Trump and his family denotes the personal bonding that has taken place between the two great personalities. India is certainly going to derive advantage from this visit. One one hand, it will send clear signals to Turkey and Malaysia, the two countries that have sided with Pakistan, and on the other hand, China will get to know the extent and depth of India-US friendship.

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Owaisi and his men must understand the consequences of inciting Muslims

AKB1411All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi was caught unawares on Thursday when a female activist suddenly went up to the mike at his Bengaluru rally and chanted Pakistan Zindabad slogan. Owaisi had to intervene and hand her over to the police and the woman was sent to 14 days’ judicial custody. Owaisi had to explain at the rally and later to the media that he and his party always stood for Hindustan Zindabad and not Pakistan Zindabad,

Five days ago, in Gulbarga, Karnataka, AIMIM leader Waris Pathan, in the presence of Owaisi, in a challenging tone said that 15 crore Muslims have the ability to overpower 100 crore Hindus. The AIMIM chief was seen holding his head in his hands because he knew the consequences of this hate remark.

Owaisi is an experienced leader from Hyderabad and he should know it better what will happen if he continues to play with fire, by making speeches to incite the Muslims. Owaisi may be thinking that he can gain political advantage by inciting the Muslim community but he should understand that by spreading the poison of hate, he is lowering the level of patriotism among his supporters in the Muslim community.

I know Owaisi loves India. I have seen the video in which Owaisi strongly defended India when he was in Pakistan. Owaisi told the Pakistani TV anchor point blank that he must not utter a single word of abuse against his Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Owaisi also told the Pakistani TV anchor that his views may be different from those of Modi in India, but Modi is the Prime Minister for every Indian. Owaisi told him that no outsider has any business meddling in the domestic affairs of his country. He said, ‘I love India’, and I personally know that Owaisi is true to his conviction.

I also know that Owaisi never spoke the language that Mani Shankar Aiyar used against his own country when he was on Pakistani soil. But Owaisi should understand the effect of his provocative speeches among Muslims. He should know that he could be raising a wall between communities in his quest for expanding the supporter base of his party. Inciting a community on sensitive issues can cause big harm to the composite fabric of our nationhood.

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Why vested political interests do not want Shaheen Bagh protest to end?

akb18 On Wednesday, hours before the Supreme Court appointed interlocutors visited Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, a video surfaced from BJP IT Cell showing how human rights activist Teesta Setalvad was “tutoring” women protesters on what questions to ask the lawyers sent by the apex court.

After watching Teesta’s advice on the video, one thing is clear: that the Shaheen Bagh movement is not spontaneous as is being claimed and that there are individuals and forces working behind the protesters.

The interlocutors, Sanjay Hegde and Sadhna Ramachandran, both lawyers, who came to listen to the protesters after keeping the media out, later left and promised to come again as they have been given a Sunday deadline. There was no breakthrough after the women protesters gave an emotional account of what they had gone through during their 66-day-long sit-in.

The mediators assured the protesters that the apex court had taken note of their right to protest but there are also rights of people who have to commute on this route, shopkeepers who have to reopen their shops, doctors who have to reach the hospital and students who have to go to schools.

Clearly, the protesters sitting in Shaheen Bagh are not so ignorant as to expect the two lawyers to initiate withdrawal of Citizenship Amendment Act and promise non-implementation of National Register of Citizens. The protesters know this very well that the two interlocutors have no powers to do so and that they have been sent only to explore if the road at Shaheen Bagh could be reopened.

These protesters also know this well that the CAA has nothing to do with Indian citizens and that it is not going to affect their citizenship in any manner. The protesters also know this fairly well that the process to compile National Register of Citizens has neither been initiated nor is there any such measure in the pipeline.

The question then arises: why are these protesters sitting on dharna for more than two months now? I feel the Shaheen Bagh protest is being projected as a symbol of agitation against the Modi government. There are political forces inimical to Prime Minister Modi who will not allow this protest to end tamely. They are creating a fear psychosis in the minds of Muslims and provoking them towards confrontation.

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Anti-CAA protesters must listen to the woes of Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs

akb0612India TV on Monday night in its ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ show telecast the story of a Pakistani Hindu girl, who narrated the ordeals of Hindu community in Pakistan. The girl, a Chartered Accountancy student, was sent by her parents on pilgrimage visa along with other Hindus in the first week of February. All the Pakistani Hindus who have crossed over to India are now unwilling to return as they fear persecution on grounds of religion.

The girl narrated how Hindus are being forcibly converted to Islam in Pakistan, their daughters are abducted and forcibly married to Muslim men, and how they live as second class citizens in Pakistan. The Hindus, who have fled and are seeking asylum in India, are being taken care of by Sikh humanitarian groups and are being fed in the langars of gurudwaras.

Hindus living in Pakistan do not have the freedom to raise their voice against persecution that occurs almost on a daily basis at all levels. None of the Pakistani leaders care to listen to their woes lest they run foul of their own community. It is my fervent appeal to the government to give proper assistance and asylum to all the Hindus who have fled Pakistan because of religious persecution. They must be given Indian citizenship and must be conferred all the rights that are given to Indians.

These persecuted Hindus deserve help from India in pursuance of the solemn promise given by Mahatma Gandhi at the time of Indepence that India must give shelter to all Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities facing persecution in Pakistan.

I want to take this opportunity to tell all those who are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act to cast aside their worries for a minute, and think about the atrocities that are being faced by Hindus in Pakistan. If their demand for revoking the CAA is accepted, what will happen to these old men, women and children? Will it be humane to send them all back to Pakistan to face persecution? The Citizenship Amendment Act was brought precisely for helping these persecuted minorities who live in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, all three Islamic countries, where they practically live as second-class citizens.

It is time for those sitting on dharna at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to do a serious rethink. The government has, time and again, assured that the CAA has not been brought to deprive any bonafide Indian of his or her citizenship. Let the CAA open up the path for rendering help to the persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians who want to leave Pakistan.

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Questioning motives behind Pulwama attack amounts to insulting our martyrs

akb0610 On Friday, the nation paid homage to those 40 CRPF martyrs who laid down their lives during a terrorist suicide attack in Pulwama, Kashmir. A memorial was erected at the CRPF camp in Lethpora, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs.

The solemnity of the occasion was marred by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who tweeted: “Today as we remember our 40 CRPF martyrs, let us ask: 1. Who benefitted the most? 2. What is the outcome of the inquiry? 3. Who in the BJP govt has yet been held accountable for the security lapses that allowed the attacks?”

I am surprised at Rahul Gandhi’s remarks. February 14 was the day for remembering our fallen heroes, a day to console their families and say that the nation stands solidly behind them. At least, this was not a day for making political capital out of martyrs’ sacrifices.
I remember Rahul Gandhi had made similar snide remarks after the famous Indian Air Force air strikes on Balakot and after the ‘surgical strike’ on terrorist camps inside Pakistan. He had questioned the authenticity of the claims of the armed forces.

Rahul Gandhi may have his political rivalry with Narendra Modi, but I do not think it is right to question the valour of our armed forces.

The terror attack in Pulwama was an attack on India. We lost 40 of our brave jawans. Our air force took revenge by destroying terror camps in Balakot inside Pakistan. The whole world supported India after it bombed those hideouts. But, if Rahul Gandhi and some of our opposition leaders express doubts about the intentions of the government in the wake of Pulwama attack, it amounts to insulting our martyrs. Nobody can support this.

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Death row convicts who commit heinous crimes must not be allowed to file mercy petitions

AKB1010Today I want to share with you the grief of Asha Devi, mother of Nirbhaya, the girl who was gang raped inside a bus in Delhi more than seven years ago, brutalized and thrown out, causing nationwide outrage. I marvel at the tenacity of her mother, who made it a point to attend every court hearing for the last seven years, in the hope of finally getting justice.

The Supreme Court gave the death sentence to all the four Nirbhaya case convicts three years ago, the death warrants were signed twice by the lower courts, an executioner was also brought to Tihar jail for carrying out the death sentence, and yet the execution process seems to have got entangled in a maze of judicial procedures with the lawyers filing petitions, one after another, in different courts to stall the execution.

On Thursday, a division bench of Supreme Court had to deal with two petitions – one by the Union government seeking separate hanging of the four convicts, and the other by a convict challenging the President’s rejection of his mercy plea. The apex court reserved its verdict on the convict’s petition for Friday, when it will hear counsels on the Centre’s plea for carrying out separate hangings.

The Supreme Court has already rejected the review and curative petitions of all the four convicts, but in the meanwhile, one convict filed a plea in High Court claiming he was a juvenile at the time of offence. This, too, was rejected.

The Supreme Court is aware of the delaying tactics being employed the lawyers of the convicts, but it can do little except hear the petitions. On Thursday, a sessions court in Delhi observed that “Article 21 of the Constitution protects the life and liberty of a condemned convict till his last breath”.

Nirbhaya’s mother, with her voice breaking, told the court, “I come here every day with the hope of getting justice but I have to return disappointed.” The judge sympathized with her, but said, everyone has to function within the ambit of the law.

Just imagine the trauma the lady has to go through. First her daughter was gang raped and brutally murdered, the entire nation sympathized with her in her hour of grief, and then the long journey for seeking justice began. On every hearing date, the lady used to go to courts, waiting for justice, which is yet to come. This has been going on for more than seven years, even after the death sentence has been pronounced.

I only want to ask: what is her guilt? Is it because she wants death for all the four murderers who pounced on her inside a running bus? Is it because the sympathies of the entire nation are with her? Is she guilty because the President, the Supreme Court, and all lower courts refused to show mercy to the convicts?

The guilt lies with our judicial system. Imagine, for seven years the Nirbhaya case went through the courts, the death sentence was given by the Supreme Court nearly three years ago, their mercy petitions were rejected, and yet her mother is still getting adjournments after adjournments (‘tareekh par tareekh’ in Bollywood lingo).

Imagine the travails of a mother, when the courts give adjournments, and the lawyers for the convicts proudly claim outside the court, for her to hear, that the execution has been stayed “forever”. Nirbhaya’s mother, Asha Devi, wept again outside the courts on Thursday and left, and yet the nation watched in silence the blatant manipulation of our judicial system.

The lawyers for the convicts are so wily that they never file petitions together in order to gain time. They file petitions in different courts – Patiala district court, Delhi High Court and Supreme Court, only to gain time. And every time it is Nirbhaya’s mother who has to walk out with tears in her eyes.

The lawyers for the convicts argue in court, why is the government in a hurry to execute the convicts, when cases of so many death row convicts are pending. One of the lawyers, A. P. Singh, even went to the extent of saying “justice hurried is justice buried”. I want to tell him, there is also the saying ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.

Judiciary must not brook any more delay now. To those who demand that death row convicts must be heard till their last breath, I want to say, where was the ‘right to life’ when these criminals were snuffing out life from the body of a girl? Did she not have the right to life? Legal rights for a convict does not mean resorting to delay tactics and fooling the judicial system.

My heart is filled with anger when I see Asha Devi’s eyes brimming with tears and asking plaintively, ‘when will we finally get justice?’ The law against rape was changed after the sordid Nirbhaya incident, but now, the time has come to dispense with the provision of mercy petitions for those death row prisoners who have committed the most heinous crime on earth. So long as this is not done, our daughters will continue to suffer.

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Why BJP got an electoral drubbing from Kejriwal in Delhi

AKB2610Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal led his Aam Aadmi Party to a historic hat trick in the assembly elections, scoring a landslide win of 62 out of 70 seats, leaving the remaining eight seats to the BJP. Only last year, BJP had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi as euphoric voters after the Balakot air strike had given their unflinching support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This time, the BJP marshaled al its leaders and resources to make a comeback in Delhi politics but failed miserably. Home Minister Amit Shah put in his best efforts, sent party heavyweights like Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani, UP CM Yogi Adityanath and former MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan to nooks and corners of Delhi to canvass for votes. Nearly 200 MPs were asked to join the campaign and not a single area in Delhi was spared. And yet, the party failed to reach even double digits.

Let us try to understand the reasons behind the people’s verdict in Delhi. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had meticulously planned for the elections almost one and a half year ago. He had prepared his strategy and had finalized the names of candidates. On the other side, in the BJP camp, the local leaders were a worried and harried lot. Even 15 to 20 days before the campaign was about to begin, nobody knew who would lead the party and what would be the party’s strategy.

Everybody in Delhi knew that Kejriwal would contest the elections on issues of free power, free water, mohalla clinics, better schools, but the BJP was yet to decide whether to oppose or support freebies. There was complete confusion in the state party unit.

Kejriwal’s strategy was clear: As the leader and face of the campaign, he would seek votes on issues of free power and free water, and, to top it all, he would refrain from making the remotest criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kejriwal had made up his mind to shun negative campaigning and there was clarity about this among his party workers. He ultimately led his party to another historic win.

On the other hand, BJP made Shaheen Bagh, ‘tukde tukde gang’ and sedition as its agenda, and, as the campaign progressed, the attacks became shriller.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur gave the slogan ‘desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro saalon ko’, party MP Pravesh Verma described Kejriwal as a ‘terrorist’, but the Delhi chief minister refused to bite their baits. He was quite clear about seeking votes in the name of what his government had done in the spheres of water, electricity, transport, education and health.

BJP leaders tried their best to trap Kejriwal on the issues of Shaheen Bagh and Pakistan, but the Delhi CM appeared to be a slippery customer. When a Pakistani minister tweeted about Modi’s impending defeat in Delhi elections, Kejriwal was quick to snub him on Twitter by saying that ” Modi is my Prime Minister and he is also India’s prime minister,” and the “sponsors of worldwide terrorism should not meddle in our internal affairs”.

On being labelled a ‘terrorist’, Kejriwal replied that he was “the son of Delhi” and on a plaintive note, said, how could a “son of Delhi” become a terrorist? By then, the voters of Delhi had made up their mind to elect Kejriwal and his party.

You might be wondering why Congress came up with a pathetic performance by failing to win a single seat. Congress had indeed made up its mind to help Kejriwal win and see the BJP bite the dust. On Tuesday, a Congress leader during election debate in India TV studio remarked that his party “had sacrificed itself in order to defeat BJP in Delhi.” Even Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath knew that his party would not win a single seat in Delhi. Congress had neither projected any leader in Delhi nor did its heavyweights campaign much, leaving the field wide for a straight contest between AAP and BJP.

It is astonishing to note that Kejriwal maintained his party’s vote percentage at 54 per cent that he had secured five years ago. This was achieved despite accounting for any anti-incumbency factor. BJP leaders may feel satisfied that their party’s vote percentage has jumped from 32.2 to 38.5 per cent. But one should remember that was because Congress vote percentage plummeted from 9.7 to 4.3 per cent.

Amit Shah addressed scores of meetings, took out roadshows and spoke to booth level workers till late in the night. He meticulously micro-planned his party’s campaign, and sent several chief ministers and Union Ministers.

However, on the ground level, these chief ministers and national level leaders seemed to be completely clue less, because only a Delhiwallah would know the nuances of conversations and behaviour of voters in the bylanes of Delhi. Leaders who knew the Delhi voters, like Vijay Goel and Vijay Jolly, were absent. There was utter confusion among party workers and local leaders had simply nothing to counter Kejriwal’s claims.

BJP needs serious introspection if it wishes to script a plausible narrative for the average Delhi voter in the coming months. The party must address basic issues that affect the common Delhi voters.

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After SC observations, Shaheen Bagh protesters should call off their protest

akb0808 The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the propriety of blocking a public road in Shaheen Bagh for the last two months by anti-CAA protesters.

A division bench of the apex court observed that “there cannot be an indefinite period of protest in a common area. The protests have been on for a long time. It could be done at an area identified for protests. Can someone block the entire road for an indefinite period?”

On the death of a four-month-old infant at Shaheen Bagh, the court observed: “Did that four-month-old girl go to the protest site? Mothers should support this scrutiny.”

Despite the clear observations from the Supreme Court, the anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh are unwilling to call off their protest. They are being egged on by the likes of leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Asaduddin Owaisi. Also, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid was seen a video where a child was shouting ‘azaadi’ slogans.

I was a bit surprised over Salman Khurshid encouraging and supporting the child chanting ‘azaadi’ slogans. Khurshid is an eminent lawyer, he has been the country’s External Affairs Minister, he understands the intricacies of law. Yet, by joining a kid in chanting ‘azaadi’ slogans, Khurshid appeared to be overcome with emotion. This is not going to convey a good message to the people.

The government has already declared through a written reply in Parliament that there was no proposal of implementing National Register of Citizens (NRC) at the moment. The Prime Minister has, time and again, clarified that the Citizenship Amendment Act has nothing to do with Indian citizens. There is nothing more than this government can do. The Shaheen Bagh protesters should discard their adamant attitude and call off the protest. The sooner, the better.

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