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What is the NIA doing with Yasin Bhatkal?

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Z News has a terse report:

A Delhi court on Tuesday extended the National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal by four days.

Meanwhile, Asadullah Akhtar, one of the aides of the terror operative Bhatkal who was arrested along with the former a few days ago, was also granted to NIA transit remand to NIA for taking him to Hyderabad for Dilsukhnagar terror attack probe.

Clearly, NIA wants more out of Yasin Malik (aka Bhatkal). So it is a good time to look back at what it has been doing for the last couple of weeks.

On September 16 he was in Goa, reported NDTV:

Separate teams of National Investigation Agency (NIA) visited Goa yesterday along with Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal to probe his links in the state, police sources said.

The teams, which were in the state for a day, took Bhatkal to places like Anjuna beach, Mapusa, Panaji and Vasco, which he had reportedly visited in the past ten years.

“The NIA teams were here but did not share their intelligence inputs with the state police,” Goa police Deputy Inspector General OP Mishra said last night.

However, sources in the police department said the NIA teams were trying to ascertain whether Bhatkal had been recruiting gullible youths from Goa into his terror network.

On September 14, the Hindu reported:

In a highly covert operation, a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), on Saturday, brought Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal to Bihar’s Darbhanga district where he stayed and reportedly cultivated a local module.

The team led by the agency’s Deputy Inspector General and Superintendent of Police Vikas Vaibhav, in charge of the Bodh Gaya blast case, took Yasin to the place he had visited and stayed in, back in 2008, the police said.

“He [Yasin] was taken to the Jamalchak village. Basically they just wanted to verify his statement and the location where he said he was staying at. As per my information the NIA took him to just one place,” a police official told The Hindu.

On the same day, his arrested associate was taken to Hyderabad, according to DNA:

Terror suspect and Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal’s aide Asadullah Akhtar was on Saturday brought to Hyderabad by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on transit warrant for a probe into the February 21 bomb blasts in Hyderabad.

NIA officials took Akhtar alias Haddi to a few places at Bhadaurpura, where he along with some others allegedly resided and made the bombs, sources said.

IE seems to have talked to various sources in the NIA to put together a picture of a secretive organization:

Encryption of messages whether on e-mail or chats, dead dropping of e-mails and use of GPRS phones are among the methods being employed by Yasin and company to prevent detection by security agencies.

“Every small message among them is encrypted. The use of regular phones is almost non-existent. They use only GPRS phones. They are a small group but very tech savvy. State police forces are two decades behind in technology usage to track such covert operations,” security sources said.

Investigators are said to be in the process of deciphering some 30,000 encrypted messages between the arrested IM operatives and their associates.

Officials said that during his interrogation, Yasin has been saying that the IM is no longer linked to the LeT but is trying to report to al-Qaeda, but this may not be true. While Yasin has been talking, he is believed to be concealing key information.

With so much of the investigation in the public domain, the news about some associates of Bhatkal being alerted no longer comes as a surprise. Here is what ET had to say:

A senior government official, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to ET that the Intelligence Bureau wanted to keep Bhatkal’s arrest a secret for the first 24 hours and pointed out that even Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was not aware of the development till the news broke on television channels around 9:45 am on August 29. He was only later briefed by Home Secretary Anil Goswami and Intelligence Bureau chief Asif Ibrahim about the same.

However, the information of the arrest was leaked to the media and that golden opportunity was lost,” the government official said.

Investigators lost the chance to nab Indian Mujahedeen’s two main bombers Waqas and Tehseen Akhtar, thanks to an untimely leak of information of Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest on August 29 morning. TV news reports alerted the duo to escape from a hideout in Mangalore immediately.

Do ministers have to watch the news to find what the police is up to?


Petrol prices and the threat of US sanctions

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The threat of US sanctions if dependence on Iranian oil is not reduced hangs over India. In the age of oil price inelasticity, this is a clear inflationary problem. This article from IE can be read as an indication that a significant part of the solution could be political:

With the Goa government proposing a reduction in petrol prices by Rs 11, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla today said the other states especially the BJP ruled ones should emulate the step to ease the burden on the common man.

“As far as petrol and diesel are concerned, states get more tax than the Centre from petroleum products. They impose more tax and get more. If states abolish taxes, then it will ease the burden on the common man,” he said.

Talking to reporters outside Parliament, he said long before Goa took the step, the Vilas Rao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra and the Andhra Pradesh government had initiated such a move.

“Central government had already reduced the custom duty…the share of the state govt is far bigger as far as money generated from petroleum products is concerned. State government should think over this (emulating Goa),” he said.

Shukla said the state government gets about 1.6 lakh crore as tax from petroleum products.

The Manohar Parrikar government had yesterday announced that only 0.1 percent value added tax (VAT) component would be levied by the state government during the presentation of the Budget.

Of course, party politics will never be separated from long term policy.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

March 28, 2012 at 3:35 am

State election results 2012

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Across states there was a vote against inflation and local issues.

Uttar Pradesh

DNA reports:

The Star News-AC Neilson exit poll said SP [Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party] would get 183 seats, followed by BSP [Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party] with 83 seats, BJP 71 and Congress at fourth with 51 seats. Headlines Today polls showed SP getting between 195 and 210 seats followed by BSP with 88-98 seats, BJP with 50-56 seats and Cong-RLD combine with 38-42.

Similarly, India TV-C-Voter exit poll showed SP winning 137-145 seats followed by BSP with 122-130 seats, and News24 and Today’s Chanakya poll claiming SP would win 185 seats.

Another poll by CNN-IBN-The Week-CSDS had even gone over board by projecting SP bagging 232 to 250 seats in the 403-member Assembly.

However, results show that SP won over 220 seats and BSP around 80.

The CNN-IBN-The Week-CSDS poll predicted a +9% swing for the SP, -6% for the BSP, -3% for the BJP and -1% for the Congress+RLD. No margins of error were reported. A swing is the vote share in this election over that in the 2007 election. Z News reports that the actual swing for SP was +6%, most of it coming from a -4% for the BSP. There was a -2% swing for the BJP with the Congress picking up +2% and other parties together giving another -2% swing. It could be that the BJP and Congress are stuck with an older model for the electorate, whereas the BJP and BSP have created a new and larger electoral pool for themselves.


IBN Live reports:

Despite attaining absolute majority in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal and its ally BJP lost its vote share in comparison to Congress which failed to leave up to its expectations in the poll results of the 117 member Assembly.

The father-son duo of Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal succeeded in convincing the Punjab electorate to give 56 seats to the SAD, but they failed to raise the party’s vote share as compared to its tally in 2007 polls.

While the SAD’s vote share in this elections declined to 34.75 per cent as compared to 37.09 per cent in 2007, its ally BJP’s vote share also came down to 7.13 per cent this time as against 8.28 per cent in the previous hustings.

Left parties CPI and CPM, however, seems to be disappearing from the political scene as the vote share of both the parties fell drastically this time as compared to 2007 polls.

While CPI fell from 3.31 per cent to 0.82 per cent, the CPM dropped from 2.25 per cent in 2007 to 0.16 per cent in 2012 polls. The vote percentage of CPI and CPM fell by 2.49 per cent and 2.09 per cent, respectively.

In the present House, the number of Independents came down from six to three but their vote share of 417 Independents in fray this time increased by 0.06 per cent from 6.82 in 2007 to 6.76 per cent this year.

Z News reported a downswing for both major parties: -1% for the Congress and -3% for the incumbent SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal). The swing votes went to smaller parties.


ET reported on the see-saw battle in Uttarakhand:

Congress tonight appeared on course to form government in Uttarakhand after it took a wafer-thin one seat advantage over ruling BJP in a cliff-hanger of a contest in state assembly polls.

Out of all the 70 results, Congress won 32 seats–four short of majority in the 70-member House–and ruling BJP followed closely with 31 seats.

Congress sources said the party would seek the support from three successful independent candidates as well as UKD, which won one seat, for government-making.

BSP won three seats and could also hold the to government formation in the state.

As Congress emerged as the single largest party, a delegation of the party called on Governor Margaret Alva late this evening and staked claim to form new government.

The reason for the close race is in vote swings. Z News reported that there were massive swings for the two major parties: +3% for the Congress and a stupendous +9% for the BJP.


The Hindu reported on Goa:

Cashing-in on the anti-incumbency factor in a big way, the Bharatiya Janata Party-Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party combine on Tuesday rode to power in Goa, ousting the Congress and securing a majority in a House of 40 members, nearly half of whom will be new faces.

While the BJP won in 21 constituencies, seven more than last time, the MGP raised its tally from two in the last polls to three seats in the March 3 Assembly election results for which were declared on Tuesday.

The Congress, which had 16 seats last time, was reduced to nine seats with many of its stalwarts, including several Ministers and Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Subhas Shirodkar, biting the dust. Its ally the Nationalist Congress Party, which had three seats last time, was wiped out.

So pronounced was the wind of change, that 19 new faces were elected this time.

Goa is the BJP’s new heartland. Z News reports an astounding +8% swing for the BJP and +1% for the left at the expense of -2% for the Congress and another -7% for other parties.


In spite of the huge voter turn out, Manipur was the dark horse, reports IE:

It was an unexpected victory for the Congress in the 10th assembly election in Manipur. Till last night, Congress insiders had speculated that they would bag 25-27 seats. But today’s result in the state has defied even the most optimistic Congressman’s expectations. With no less than a landslide victory with a two third majority and 42 out of 60 assembly constituencies under its belt, the Congress is all set to begin its third term as the ruling party in Manipur.

And the Congress was fighting against major odds in these elections. Ahead of the elections came a dictat by seven underground groups operating in the valley areas which had banned the Congress party from the elections.

The main change in Manipur according to Z News is that the politics of this eastern state is coming closer to the national average, with a swing of +8% for the Congress and +6% for the BJP at the expense of -7% for the MPP and another -7% for the others.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

March 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm

India is becoming urban

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The Census of India 2011 has published data on urbanization. Much hinges on the definition of what is a city. TOI carries the definition of what the census calls an urban area:

The 2011 Census directorate classifies an area as urban if it fulfills one of two conditions. Any area that comes under a corporation, municipality or town panchayat is automatically classified as urban.

“We also have ‘census towns’ that are considered urban. These are places that have a population of 5,000 and above, have a density of 400 persons per sq km and 75% of the male population employed in non-agricultural occupations,” said S Gopalakrishnan, director of census operations in Tamil Nadu.

“Many areas earlier classified as rural have got better facilities and have been merged with a municipality or corporation,” said Dr N Audinarayana , professor and head, population studies department, Bharathiar University, citing the examples of Chennai and Coimbatore.

“In many districts, people have taken up a non-agricultural occupation even if they have only studied up to class eight. So the area is classified as urban even though it is surrounded by fields,” he said.

Here are some salient figures:

  • 31.2% of the Indian population is urbanized, ie, 68.8% of the population is rural. Punjab, Mizoram, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu all have more than 35% of the population living in towns. Bihar, Orissa and Assam have at least 90% of the population in villages. Maharashtra has the largest urban population: 26.77 million.
  • Urban areas have grown at the decadal rate of 31.9%, and the rural population by only 12.2%. This, in spite of the fact that the birth rate in rural areas is larger: 14.11% of the rural population is younger than 7 years, but only 10.93% of the urban population is so young. Does this imply large adult migrations out of villages, or a genuine fall in fecundity in urban areas?
  • The rural sex ratio is 947 females per 1000 males. The urban sex ratio is 926 females per 1000 males. In the age group below 7 years the sex ratio is worse: 919 for rural areas and only 902 for urban!

Killing them softly

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On Jan 16 2011 TOI reported from Goa:

A citizen Jowett D’Souza has written a letter to the Agasaim police station asking them to register a case of custodial death in the case of Cipriano Fernandes. He has also asked them to book the Panaji police inspector and two other police personnel in the case. The First Information Report has not yet been registered by the Agasaim police as the case is with the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM).

There was a follow up report in TOI the next day:

NGO Utt Goenkara and family of the alleged custodial death victim, Cipriano Fernandes, met the chairman of the state police complaints authority (SPCA) on Monday morning demanding that the police personnel involved in the ‘torture’ of the 38-year-old victim be suspended till the inquiry is complete.

Other than the demand for suspension of the police personnel involved in the case, the memorandum submitted by Cipriano’s cousin, Cosme Fernandes, to the SPCA chairman E Silva also puts on record the family’s version of the chronology of events from the day of the victim’s arrest on January 7 till his death two days later.

Cosme has said in his representation that Cipriano was not taken for a medical check up after his arrest under Section 151 of Cr PC as required by the law and has alleged that third degree method was used on Cipriano while in police custody. “Cipriano was badly beaten up in the private car hired by the police when he was picked up from Porvorim on January 7 and he was physically assaulted in police custody as well using third degree methods on the night of his arrest. We will not take Cipriano’s body into possession till justice is done and a fair inquiry is complete,” Cosme said.

Cosme told Silva that Cipriano never suffered from convulsions as claimed by the police on the day of his arrest. The relative has said that the convulsions were caused due to ‘police torture’. Utt Goenkara members too demanded a thorough inquiry into the case by the SPCA. The NGO has said that Cipriano was admitted to the Goa Medical College in a state of unconsciousness by the police on January 9, which was two days after his arrest.

There was yet another report in TOI on the same day saying that a request for a second autopsy was turned down on purely technical grounds:

The sub-divisional magistrate, Sabaji Shetye, has turned down a request made by alleged custodial death victim Cipriano Fernandes’ family for a second postmortem, stating that it is not necessary.

The 38-year-old victim’s cousin, Cosme Fernandes, speaking to TOI said that they have demanded a second postmortem to rule out any attempts to hush the case. “We want a second opinion to be sure that the postmortem has recorded all the necessary facts.” Advocate Jatin Naik of NGO Utt Goenkara, added, “If there is a second autopsy, by comparing the two reports investigators will be able to tell if the results are accurate or there are discrepancies, which will establish any attempt to hush the case.”

SDM Shetye, who has been overseeing the inquiry in the case, told TOI on Monday that he does not feel the need for a second autopsy. “They have only made an oral request.”

In what might seem to be the final report from TOI on this matter, we find a bland politicially correct statement from the Chief Minister of Goa even as the whitewash is completed:

Stating that under no circumstances the police can beat up anybody, even in custody, chief minister Digambar Kamat said that action would be taken in such cases.

To a query on the Cipriano Fernandes case, the chief minister said that the sub-divisional magistrate is inquiring into the matter and that Dy SP Bousseut D’Silva will also complete his preliminary report within the next two days.

Meanwhile, the histopathology examination test reports of Cipriano Fernandes have revealed that he was suffering from infection as well as heart ailment.

Sources said that several inflammatory cells were noticed in the various organs of Fernandes on which a three-member team of doctors from Goa Medical College and Hospital’s pathology department conducted the histopathological examination, which suggests that the person did not die due to trauma. “About 75% of his left coronary arteries were blocked and he was suffering from severe infection when he died,” the histopathology report reveals.

However, the Goa Herald begs to differ:

Even as Head of Pathology Department at the Goa Medical College (GMC) Hospital Dr R G Wiseman Pinto says that the histopathology report prepared by a GMC panel has concluded that the internal organs of Cipriano Fernandes showed disease pathology and not trauma, it cannot be conclusive evidence to claim that Cipriano died of natural causes.

It is important to determine what precipitated Cipriano’s death within such short span of time, said a forensic expert attached to a Government hospital, pointing out that the histopathology report alone cannot alone be the deciding factor of death.

Dr Pinto, who headed the panel that prepared the histopathology report, told Herald today that there was presence of disease in different organs such as the kidney, left coronary artery, heart, lung and brain of the deceased, and that the histopathological examination had revealed that he died a “natural death”.

But the forensic expert, who spoke to Herald on condition of anonymity, said that even if it is true that Cipriano’s organs showed presence of pathological disease, it is important to find what precipitated that process while he was in police custody.

An extent of injury or gravity of head injuries suffered by the deceased (the autopsy report apparently says that two head injuries were found) would prove crucial in deciding the exact cause of death, regardless of existing disease conditions, the forensic expert pointed out.

Jan 31, 2011

Goa Herald reports:

Head of Forensic Department of Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) Dr Silvano Sapeco on Monday deposed before the State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) in the custodial death of Cipriano Fernandes.

The doctor has confirmed that Cipriano suffered two fatal head injuries.

“Injuries 6 (middle portion of the head) and 7 (left portion) were individually and collectively fatal in the ordinary course of nature. That is, impact by a blunt object had caused external and internal damage…” Dr Sapeco said in his statement to SPCA Chairman Justice Eurico Santana da Silva.

Sapeco and a team of forensic doctors had conducted post-mortem on Cipriano’s body. The head injuries, he said, were within 0 to 36 hours prior to Cipriano’s death at GMCH.

“…The impact of the blunt and elongated object over the head had caused external injuries 6 and 7, which in turn caused internal damage to the brain in the manner of oedema (swelling) and venous (congestion) of the brain,” he added.

Emeralds for emperors

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Telegraph (London) reviews the book The Colour of Paradise by Kris Lane. Interesting details:

Where had those emeralds come from? The Mughals and Persian Shahs had a three-fold classification: the very best were said to be from Egypt, the next category came from ‘old mines’ in Asia and the lowest quality came from ‘new mines’ in the Americas. But this was a fiction. Just 10 years ago, a team of mineralogists analysed the oxygen isotopes in a number of famous Mughal emeralds, and found that almost all of them were from the Americas. To be more precise, they were from the highlands of Colombia; this analysis was in fact able to identify the specific outcrops from which they had been extracted.

The speed with which these jewels had passed along oceanic trade routes and percolated into India and Persia is remarkable. Admittedly, some emeralds had been filtering back into Europe since the 1530s, when conquistadors plundered them from the treasuries of the Amerindian rulers they conquered. More emerged once these rapacious Spaniards understood that in some of these societies, jewels were buried with the dead: graves were opened and skeletons tossed aside in the search for booty.

The wreck of a treasure galleon from Colombia, which sank off Florida in 1622, has yielded 6,000 emeralds; the surviving copy of the ship’s manifest does not mention them at all.

What held this trade together was a network of families, most of them Portuguese ‘New Christians’ (converted Jews), who had buyers in Colombia and the Caribbean, financiers and gem-cutters in Lisbon, and jewel-sellers in Goa. Some of Lane’s most fascinating pages tell the stories of their lives, with details culled from the Inquisition archives. The Inquisitors suspected, correctly, that many of them had not abandoned Judaism at all; by the mid-17th century it had expelled most of them from Colombia’s main trading centre, with predictable economic effects. Many moved to English or Dutch territory, and the jewel business of the English East India Company would soon be flourishing in the hands of traders with names such as Moses Henriques and Abraham da Fonseca.

Global trade is not a monopoly of the last 50 years.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

April 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Paradise lost

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BBC reports:

Police in the Indian city of Mumbai have arrested a second man over an alleged sexual assault on a Russian girl aged nine holidaying in Goa.

The detainee, who was named as Aman Bharadwaj, was due to be brought back to the resort region on Saturday, police told Indian and Russian media.

A man named as Anil Raghuvanshi was earlier arrested in Goa.

The girl’s mother said she had been distracted by one man while the other attacked her daughter in Arambol.

India’s PTI news agency said the two men arrested had been working together as assistant machine operators in Goa.

Other alleged attacks on Russian tourists in Goa, one of India’s most popular tourist destinations, have been reported in Russia in recent years.

The police must be breathing easy that it wasn’t a politically connected person this time around; they can try to diffuse Russia’s annoyance by solving this case quickly.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

January 30, 2010 at 10:55 am

Posted in crime, India

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