Friday, August 30, 2013

Justice Denied:Ishrat Jahan

This post was originally written by me for a group blog I co-own named The Jalebi Chronicles.Check it out, it has some really good stuff.



Ishrat Jahan. The name is a common one in the media these days. Everyone is aware of the Ishrat Jahan encounter but not many truly know what it is about, except for the little knowledge gleaned from what the misogyny infested media reports.. For those who are unacquainted with the case, here are the facts of the story.

Ishrat Jahan was a 19 year old student from Mumbai who died on 15th June, 2004 along with three other men, namely Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh,) Amjad Ali Rana and and Zeeshan Johar. The four of them were supposedly killed on an empty road stretch between Ahemdabad and Gandhinagar. The Gujarat police claimed that the foursome were terrorists belonging to LeT i.e. Lashkar-e-Taiba and were plotting to assassinate Narendra Modi due to his apathy towards Muslims and supposed involvement in the Godhra riots of 2002. They claim to have acted on intelligence tips from the Maharashtra police and more importantly, the Intelligence Bureau. However, many dispute the claim arguing that the encounter was staged in cold blood to propagate Modi’s communal propaganda. These claims have been strengthened by strong evidence backed by incriminating reports filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) instituted by the Gujarat High Court and the investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Here are the undisputed facts. Jehan worked as Pranesh Pillai’s secretary. Pillai on the other hand, had been previously booked for four assault cases and charged with involvement in a fake currency racket. He had converted to Islam in the ‘90s and allegedly, two passports were recovered along with his body; one for each alias. It is interesting to note that neither of these two had any traceable links to the LeT. The other two, Amjad Rana and Zeeshan Johar have been conspicuously ignored by the media. . These two had clear links with the LeT and worked for them as terrorists. The only dispute in regards to them was their nationality. Their bodies were not claimed by anyone.

The names/groups in the below table mentioned in Column A believe the encounter was fake, while those in Column B lists the groups who believe the encounter to be real.


COLUMN A
COLUMN B
Indian National Congress(INC)
Bhartiya Janta Party(BJP)
Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI)
Intelligence Bureau(IB)
Gujarat High Court’s SIT constituted in 2011
Headlines Today
National Investigation Agency(NIA)
Hindustan Times
Tehelka, PUCL
Zee group
It never ceases to amaze us how politicians can turn even the most brutal of incidents into brownie points for their political vendettas. In put it simply, if this encounter is proven to be fabricated Narendra Modi will be viewed as a communal leader and shall allow the Congress to play the secular card against him. If Modi survives this, it shall simply add to the defence he puts up whenever he the buck is passed to him for the Godhra incident and its related mishaps. Both ways, the investigation reports will spell a massive victory for one or either sides and the fight has resulted in two things; a stalemate and the vilifying an innocent girl who is unable to defend herself because she is, and pardon me for using the phrase, ‘conveniently’ dead.

Ishrat Jahan has been called everything, from a terrorist to a promiscuous female (by BJP’s Meenaxi Lekhi because she was travelling with three men and, in her eyes, that is enough to doubt her character. One cannot help but wonder what her views are about her daughter going on school trips to Lonavala with 125 other students.)However, she has been denied the most vital of all human rights; the right to life. The police had no right to snatch away her life regardless of her being a terror operative or not. Posthumous justice is one thing, but the very fact that it is posthumous is disheartening and very disturbing.Being an 18 year old college student myself, I am, scared. As a plain and ordinary citizen, what is the guarantee that you, me or anyone else shall not be the next Ishrat?

Moving on to the extent of political involvement, my disgust rises. It is simply impossible to trust either of the parties involved because the holy troika of corruption, power and politics has changed the entire game. Since the CBI is in the Congress’ pocket, their stance is anti-Modi while the BJP is supposedly deriving support from the highly secretive IB. The media groups’ ownership defines the stance they take, and the view they present depends on whether the slander they spread shall benefit their corporate overlords or not. In the middle of this however, the common man loses out on the truth. All one can say is that Ishrat might have merely been ‘collateral damage’ as two out of the four killed were terrorists. Ishrat just happened to be at the wrong place, in the wrong time with the wrong people. Of course that does not give anyone the right to brand the innocent girl a terrorist and it certainly does not justify her death. In fact, this assumption may be a far departure from the truth, but with a heavy heart, I suspect that with the web of orchestrated facts, hidden agendas and misogyny infested opinions, justice shall lie buried and the truth shall never be exposed.

DISCLAIMER: The views presented in this article represent the views of the writer alone and not the others in general.
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bye Bye Bombay

This is not an ode to the city I love, neither is this a farewell letter. Before you read further, let me tell you, I’m now into my last week in Mumbai. Well, at least for the next 5 years, I’ll be living in Delhi to study law. I don't know why I am writing this. Hell I don't know what this is. Take it as my rambling if thy shalt will.

It's a funny feeling. Moving. The verb, the word but mostly the feeling. It’s not just that you'll be leaving behind a life that you've carefully built. But you'll be leaving it behind for something new, something unfamiliar.18 years of my life, my friends, my love, my city, and my way of living, everything, gone. It's a huge thing because of many reasons. In life, we never realise it, but it is always what that is around us builds us. Bombay, the city I was born in, the city I lived my childhood in, the city I hit teenage in, the city in which I turned 18,the city that was always my solace, the city that taught me life, the city that punished me, the city that nurtured me. Bombay was always there for me. I’ll specially miss sitting by Marine Drive or Worli Seaface,enjoying my timeout from life, staring blankly at the sea. If you haven't already done that, do it. Just for a few minutes. Stare into the vastness and the far far away expanse. Think of nothing. Just stare. I proudly say that the city always was my first love. Today, with just a few days left before my flight to Delhi, I have no words to say to it. There is so much to do, so much to say, yet no time. I feel like I'm being torn away from it, piece by piece. A few days ago, I saw this picture which put my turbulence in words.

Mumbai is a city. Bombay is an emotion.


It is true folks. I’m leaving Mumbai but the Bombay shall always be in me, and right now, it is bubbling up via this post, and I am unabashed when I say I don’t want to bottle it up.

People always yearn for security. That’s the entire point of our life. To lead a secure life. For a just emancipated adult, my parents were my umbrella, my armour and my everything. I remember those tiny fleeting moments when they were there for me. Trust me; they are the ones you remember and not the major ones. In Delhi, I'll be alone. Yes, we live in the 21st century, so we have phones, SMSes, BBM, Whatsapp, e-mails, letters, Skype and all those other mediums which reduce the distance between people. But the problem is that they can never remove the distance, only reduce it. However close I may feel, the brutal cold truth would be that I am thousands of kilometres away in Delhi while they'll be in Mumbai, and not with me physically. That’s just something I'll have to deal with, accept and move on.

Friends. Dost. The word rings like a hollow bell. They complete you. Always do. Suddenly, they won't be a phone call away. I won't be running into them at Kandivali station. No sir .I admit I have never been the friend I could have been, but they have and that makes all the difference in the world. Honestly I'm scared. What happens from here? Where does life take us? We still stay the same way? Things change? Ugh, this is mind numbing. It has always been this way; we have always been a call away. Not anymore. I won't be able to give them a call and pop over to their place. They won't be able to give me a call and meet me at the McDonald's near Andheri and Kandivali stations(which they know are my second favourite place in the world to meet, after the stations themselves). We might drift apart, partly because of me, partly because of them. I'll make new friends and they'll make new ones as well. But all I hope for is a status quo. No change. Stability is nice

I don't think I'll ever be able to sum up all the emotions I'm feeling in one post and relax, I don't intend to write a second post on this. All I wanted to do was put my emotions and rather on a broader outlook, almost every Mumbaikar who is leaving Bombay 's feelings into a post, because I understand how hard it is to articulate them.

The heart is a fickle thing and it hates change. But at the end of the day, the clock ticks on, the date changes, the world sleeps and awakes anew, and so shall I, with a hope, and only that hope to lead me on.
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