2002 Gujarat riots: Bias and passivity of police led to uncontrolled violence, says retired Lt. General (Part II) | WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs 2002 Gujarat riots: Bias and passivity of police led to uncontrolled violence, says retired Lt. General (Part II) – WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs
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2002 Gujarat riots: Bias and passivity of police led to uncontrolled violence, says retired Lt. General (Part II)



CM Modi Lt Zamee Shah

The Army put an end to the mayhem during the 2002 Gujarat riots within 48 hours (March 4) by “resolute, firm and fair action”, says retired Lt. General Zameer Uddin Shah in his upcoming memoir, but holds the “bias” and “politicisation” of the police responsible for the uncontrolled violence.

“The partisan attitude of police lay exposed when I observed that when minority-populated localities were surrounded by mobs, the police did not fire at the rioters laying siege, but into windows of surrounded homes of minorities, instead ostensibly to ‘keep the two rioting communities apart’, as sheepishly explained to me,” Shah says adding that the police, initially armed with ‘lathis’, were passive bystanders since orders for issue of rifles had not been given.

Shah, who led the army in quelling the riots, even challenges the “official figures of deaths and damage” and maintains in the memoir “The Sarkari Mussalman”, a copy of which is with IANS, that they “do not reflect a true picture of the actual extent of the carnage”.

The book is being published by Konark Publishers, and will be launched on October 13 at the India International Centre here by former Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Mentioning that he expressed his disapproval at the “contemptible and partisan attitude” of the police, Shah states that they stood as passive bystanders while the “mob was setting fire on streets and houses”. There was tardy reaction of the civil administration, according to him and selective imposition of curfews, which indicated partiality and politicisation.

Read More : 2002 Gujarat riots: Despite request to CM Modi, Army lost a crucial day waiting for vehicles, says retired Lt. General (Part I)

He notes that at one stage, he “seriously considered recommending imposition of Martial Law”, but was discouraged as it could be “construed as overstepping” his “mandate”.

Recalling his visit to Godhra along with then Defence Minister George Fernandes, he writes that he advised the Railways to remove immediately the burnt coaches of the Sabarmati Express that had triggered the riots. “But the coaches remained in situ for many months — grim reminders and symbols of human hatred — triggering revulsion and heightening passions among those who saw them,” he recalls.

On being asked in confidence by Fernandes about what steps needed to be taken immediately, he recommended “an immediate overhaul of the police hierarchy and a police Director General (DG) from outside the Gujarat cadre”, he writes. “He (Fernandes) agreed with me, saying ‘You have taken the words out of my mouth.’ We waited but there was no change,” writes Shah, who retired as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff in 2008.

In describing the scene when the Army moved into cities and towns, he says that the situation was highly tense and communally charged. “Armed mobs were roaming unrestrained, committing arson and murder. In the urban areas, a curfew had been ordered, but not enforced. When the Army columns reached the towns, unruly mobs were freely burning and rioting. At a number of locations people were trapped in buildings and places of worship and were being attacked by mobs,” he writes.

In revealing the tardy reaction, he writes that “no civil officials could be contacted on the night of 28 February-1 March 2002”. He maintains that the civil administration “appeared to lack resolve to stem the violence”, adding that they were reluctant to enforce curfew as it was politically unpopular.

He further states that the higher police hierarchy was totally politicised and virtually divided along political lines. “There had been an erosion of authority of senior officers with undue importance being given to Station House Officers (Junior Commissioned Officer equivalent). These junior police officers had become a law unto themselves taking directions from ‘up’ instead of their chain of command,” he adds.

He does not explain in his book what “up” meant, nor was he willing to elaborate on this in his interview to IANS saying only that he did not want to “reopen old wounds”.

Shah reveals in the book that police stations were manned by IG-level officers and young army majors and captains were in a quandary dealing with them. “The worst blot on the police was targeting minority members of the (police) force itself,” he adds.

He notes that what 110 companies of the Para Military Forces and police could not do, was done in 48 hours by six Army battalions (24 companies), contending that he is “convinced” that the police forces had become “progressively communalised and un-representational”.

“In case they had more members of the minority community it would shame them into taking a more fair and unbiased posture,” he argues, before mentioning that minority representation is “even lower” in the Army but there has never been a case of bias and the Army columns have always instilled confidence in all communities.

In a “Herculean airlift effort”, the Indian Air Force — flying 60-odd flights of IL-76s and AN-32s — had ensured the timely arrival of 3,000 army troops in Ahmedabad on March 1, 2002 but they were stranded at the airbase without transport for a day as the state government was still “making the necessary arrangements” despite being promised earlier and a request being made directly to the then chief minister Narendra Modi in the presence of defence minister Fernandes.

Shah maintains, as reported by IANS on Friday, that February 28 and March 1, 2002 were the “crucial hours” when “most damage” was done. The “road columns” reached the Army on March 2 and by “resolute, firm and fair action”, the Army put an end to the mayhem within 48 hours, he says.

Shah is a decorated Army veteran and has been conferred the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal and Sena Medal for his distinguished services to the armed forces. His book has been endorsed by at least two former chiefs of army staff, including General S. Padmanabhan, who was the army chief in 2002.

(Saket Suman can be contacted at [email protected])


The US presidential elections and future of India-US relations




Donald Trump Joe Biden

As the coronavirus pandemic dominates global news in the United States, progress toward the next presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3 moves slowly forward. President Donald Trump had no real opposition in the Republican party and is running for re-election. And it has now become apparent that former Vice President Joe Biden will be his opponent as the Democratic candidate for president.

What would a Trump victory bode for the future of US-India relations? What would a Biden victory bode? Let me answer each of those questions in turn.

Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. This would be an incorrect assumption.

Both of these events were more symbolic than substantive. Trump’s participation in them undoubtedly helped to persuade some — perhaps many — Indian American Modi supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to cast their ballots for Trump in 2020. Trump’s campaign team took steps to ensure this by holding an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in which a group of prominent Indian Americans announced their plans to work for his re-election and to mobilize Indian Americans on his behalf.

To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style.

In a word, the best way to characterize the current relations between the US and India is “functional”. The relationship was relatively good for the first two years of Trump’s presidency. In fact, near the end of 2018, Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was quoted in the media s saying: “This has been a landmark year for US-India ties as we build out stronger relationships across the board.”

Then, in 2019, the relations went off the track in the first half of the year after the US and India got into a tit-for-tat tariff war after the US terminated India’s Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free. There have been continuing efforts to structure a “modest” trade deal since then. It was thought there might be some type of deal done in September of 2019 while Modi was in the US by year’s end, and then during Trump’s India visit. But, as of today, there is still no deal.

This inability to get any meaningful trade agreement in place speaks volumes about India’s potential future relations with India with Trump as president. So, too does Trump’s style.

Trump’s campaign slogans this time around are “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Trump is not a policy wonk and most of his effort will go toward “America First”. This involves making the US more isolated by withdrawing from international agreements, restructuring trade agreements, emphasizing building walls to stop immigrants at the border, using tariffs to block trade with countries who are taking away American jobs, and confronting businesses who are allegedlly stealing American trade secrets.

This perspective suggests what India can expect for its relations with the US if it has to deal with Trump for a second term as president. The relations will stay functional at best. As I have said before, that’s because the words partnership, cooperation and collaboration are not in Trump’s vocabulary. Nationalism, isolationism and protectionism are.

Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to President Trump both professionally and personally. Biden is a strategic thinker and doer with a solid eight-year track record of leadership experience as Vice-President in forging alliances that have made a difference around the world and he has also been a long-standing friend of India.

He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the Congressional passage of the Indo-US civic nuclear deal in 2005. At a dinner convened 10 years later in 2015 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vice President Biden discussed the tremendous joint progress that had been made by the two countries in the past and declared “We are on the cusp of a sea change decade.”

Early in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in July of 2019, in laying out his foreign policy vision, Biden stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them. The items on Biden’s foreign policy agenda for strengthening which are of importance for India include climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyberwarfare.

During his vice presidency, Biden worked side by side with President Barack Obama to do things that would contribute to achieving Obama’s vision stated in 2010 of India and America being “indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time.” In 2020, those challenges are even greater than they were a decade ago.

That is why it is so essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. That can happen if Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, 2021. It cannot happen if Donald Trump remains as president for a second term.

The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well. Time and the American electorate will tell what that future will be.

(Frank F. Islam is an entrepreneur, civic and thought leader based in Washington DC. The views expressed here are personal)

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Covid-19 toll across world crosses 35,000

The COVID-19 is affecting 132 countries and territories around the world.



Patients infected with the novel coronavirus

New Delhi, March 30 : The death toll around the world due to coronavirus crossed 35,000 on Monday evening, with Italy heading the list of 35,097 deaths with 10,779, while the number of cumulative cases rose to 737,929, with US leading with 143,055 of them, as per data from the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Spain was second with 7,340 deaths, followed by China with 3,308 (3,186 of them in Hubei where the outbreak was first recorded), Iran with 2,757 deaths, France with 2,606 deaths, the US with 2,513 (776 of them in New York) and the UK with1,228 deaths.

In number of cases, Italy was second with 97,689, followed by Spain with 85,195, China with 82,198, Germany with 62,435, Iran with 41,495 and France with 40,747.

Meanwhile, 156,652 people around the world had recovered, with nearly half of them (75,923) in China, followed by 16,780 in Spain, 13,911 in Iran and 13,030 in Italy.

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45% of Indians do not back up their data, files: Survey

The survey was conducted among 728 Avast and AVG users between February 20-March 25.




Data Privacy

New Delhi, March 30 : Nearly half of Indians do not back up because they think their data or files are not important enough and most of those who back up their data, do it once a month, a survey said on Monday.

Other reasons cited by the respondents for not backing up their data included not knowing how to do it, not having time and forgetting about it, according to the survey by cybersecurity company Avast.

“It could be that many aren’t aware they are backing up, as it could be happening automatically, in the background, however, others really might not be backing up at all, thinking it is not worth it,” Luis Corrons, Security Evangelist at Avast, said in a statement.

“Losing personal documents, photos and videos can be a painful experience and it’s not until this happens that they realize how valuable it actually is,” Corrons added.

Of those who do back up their data, nearly 42 per cent Indians back up to a cloud storage, 36 42 per cent back up their data to an external hard drive, 23 42 per cent back up to a USB or flash disk, 18 42 per cent back up their phone to their PC, and 10 42 per cent back up to a network storage drive, the results showed.

Corrons recommended to back up data to two different locations, like the cloud, and a physical storage, like an external hard drive.

When it comes to iPhone and Android phone owners, the percentage that backs up is nearly the same, 69 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.

The percentage of smartphone owners that don’t know how to back up their data does not vary much between iPhone and Android owners, with 13 per cent and 17 per cent claiming not knowing how to, respectively, the study revealed.

Data loss can be caused by users accidentally deleting their data themselves, hardware damage and failure, as well as malware, causing valuable data such as photos, videos, documents, and messages to be lost forever.

Ransomware and other malware, such as wipers, can either encrypt or completely destroy files, and there is no guarantee that files can be decrypted if a ransom is paid.

The survey was conducted among 728 Avast and AVG users between February 20-March 25.

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COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.