Rajat Sharma

India’s Holi diplomacy

AKB30 On Wednesday, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo grooved to the tune of ‘Aaj Biraj Me Holi Re Rasiya’ song at a get-together at Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s residence, as External Affairs Minister S. Jayashankar and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal clapped. The Holi reception was attended by ministers from most of the G-20 countries. Rajnath Singh described Gina Raimondo as “a stalwart politician from US. She wanted to enjoy Holi celebrations, so I invited her here”. This was India’s Holi diplomacy at its best. Raimondo is on a four-day visit and she will take part in India-US Commercial Dialogue and CEO Forum. The US Commerce Department said, her visit “aims to unlock new trade and investment opportunities” between both countries. India and the US are part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Piyush Goyal said, India and the US “are natural allies. The agenda is full of possibilities and we are working together for a safe, secure Indo-Pacific.” Rajnath Singh, normally a reserved person, shook his legs for a few seconds, when requested by Gina Raimondo to groove with her.


Even as the entire nation was celebrating Holi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal skipped Holi and sat on a seven-hour-long meditation “to pray for the country”. Other Aam Aadmi Party leaders also sat on meditation to protest the imprisonment of Manish Sisodia in the Delhi liquor excise scam. AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj alleged that Sisodia has been kept in Tihar jail with hardened criminals, and there was threat to his life, but the jail administration promptly refuted the charge. It issued a statement saying “Sisodia has been assigned to a segregated ward keeping his security in mind. The ward has minimum number of inmates who are not gangsters and are maintaining good conduct inside the jail.” It is true, Manish Sisodia is not a professional criminal, and he should be provided a safe and secure atmosphere inside the jail. Attention must also be paid to his health, but Kejriwal’s associates must decide what they think about jail facilities. In November last year, when videos surfaced about AAP minister Satyendar Jain getting massage from a rape accused and having a sumptuous lunch inside his cell, AAP leaders were justifying the massage. Saurabh Bhardwaj had then said that Jain should get all facilities inside jail. The same leaders are now expressing fear about Sisodia’s life. Delhi’s jail administration comes under the purview of Arvind Kejriwal’s government. The question is: to whom are they addressing their complaint?


Gangsters in most of the jails of Uttar Pradesh spent a tense Holi on Wednesday as authorities beefed up their watch over the secret nexus between the gangsters and some corrupt jail officials. Gangster Atiq Ahmed’s brother Ashraf is lodged in Bareilly jail. It was he who briefed his brother-in-law Saddam how to carry out the murder of Umesh Pal in Prayagraj. It was Saddam who arranged a meeting between Ashraf and the shooters in jail. Police have arrested a constable Shiv Hari Awasthi and a vegetable supplier Dayaram alias Nanhe. Nanhe used to sneak inside the jail, cell phones, food and other articles meant for Ashraf, hidden in vegetable loaded vehicles. The constable Awasthi used to secretly arrange visits of five or six persons inside the jail. They used a godown for their secret rendezvous with Ashraf, who used to threaten witnesses on phone from jail. Ashraf, whose real name is Khalid Azeem, has dozens of cases like murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, land grab and extortion against him. He is the main accused in Raju Pal murder case and he used to run the gang in the absence of Atiq Ahmed. During the last six years, mafia gangsters used to rule inside the jails of UP, despite strictness on part of chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s government. Gangsters like Ashraf used to control the entire system sitting inside jails. In Chitrakoot jail of UP, Abbas Ansari, MLA and son of gangster Mukhtar Ansari used to meet his wife inside a jail room without any hindrance. He used WhatsApp to contact outsiders. The jail superintendent, jailor, deputy jailor and warden had to be arrested after a sudden raid was conducted. This shows that police personnel posted in jails, criminals and suppliers were in cahoots to bypass the system. There is urgent need to carry out strict audit of all jails in UP and break the gangster-jail officials nexus. Strong action must be taken against the offenders.

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