Arrest of DU Associate Professor of English Hany Babu this week raises important issues. His house was raided by Pune Police in September last year, when they took away his laptop, pen drives and some books in search of evidence to link him to the Bhima Koregaon clash between Dalits and Marathas on January 1, 2018. The arrest, two and a half years after the clash and almost 10 months after the search, raises questions on the time taken to complete investigations. Normally, the prosecution is expected to submit a charge sheet within 90 days of making an arrest. But despite access to technology, greater surveillance and manpower, agencies seem to be taking several years before allowing trials to begin. Supreme Court might do well to look at this, the tendency to keep undertrials in prisons and the possibility of planting electronic or digital evidence by the agencies.
National Security Council
It was interesting to learn from your report on national security (July 26 issue) how the structure has grown since 1998. Citizens like me have little interest or access to information that there is a National Security Council, a NSA with three deputies, an elaborate secretariat to keep the country safe—in addition to the armed forces and ever growing number of intelligence agencies. I read a report in an American magazine that the US National Security Council had started studying the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak in China on the US from January itself; and that it had alerted the White House and the administration of the disaster in the offing. Our own NSC seems accountable only to the Government and there is little information on what it is up to. Perhaps it should report to Parliament.
A war veteran
BJP’s 500 offices
Days after the disastrous decision to Demonetise bulk of the currency in circulation, reports had surfaced that Bharatiya Janata Party’s state units had deposited large amounts of cash in banks just before the announcement. There were also reports of obscene amounts of cash being transported by the party in cars, at least one of which was intercepted in Meerut. There were also reports that the party with a difference, impoverished for 70 years, had purchased land in every district in India to build party offices. Within months the Government introduced the Electoral Bonds to make political donations opaque, and also allowing foreign donations.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise to learn from newspapers that BJP has already constructed 500 party offices in districts, and more are in the offing. The kind of money it has access to can be gauged by the party’s digital rallies in states like Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal, where over 70,000 LED screens were put up for people to listen to Home Minister Amit Shah.
One can only hope that BJP is as inspired by ‘cashless economy’ as PM Modi was in 2016; and is leaving a digital trail for audits and investigations in future.
Fools rush in…
A BJP MLA from Ghaziabad is reported to have said that Muslims should sacrifice their children on Bakr’id in place of goats. He is clearly ignorant of the sacrifice of goats and even buffaloes during Durga Puja in Nepal and parts of Bengal and Bihar. Goats are also ritually sacrificed in the worship of Hindu deity Kali.
But the BJP appears to have acquired a monopoly on making foolish statements. From a Union minister claiming that a particular brand of ‘Papad’ would cure COVID-19 to another MLA saying that once construction of the Ram temple begins, the pandemic would go away—the party seems to thrive on superstition, ignorance, bigotry and of course foolishness.
What was the hurry for the Government to promulgate three ordinances related to farmers? The ordinances do away with the Minimum Support Price for food grains, leaving the price to be discovered by the market. As a fallout the marketing mandis in the state built over the years might become redundant. Shouldn’t such far-reaching moves have been discussed after due consultation and debate in Parliament?