Kasganj violence: Prime accused in murder held

The prime accused in the murder of Chandan Gupta in Kasganj was arrested today as the strife-torn western Uttar Pradesh town, which saw communal clashes last week, moved towards normalcy despite tension in some pockets, officials said.

The UP government submitted a report on the incidents in Kasganj to the Union Home ministry conveying that the police were probing the violence and whether it was pre-planned, an official said.

“Saleem, the main accused, has been nabbed,” IG, Aligarh range, Sanjeev Gupta said.

Aged below 30, Saleem, and his two brothers, Naseem and Waseem, were accused of killing 22-year-old college student Chandan Gupta, police officials said.

The killing had led to further violence last week. At least three shops, two buses and a car were torched after Gupta died of gunshot wounds. Communal clashes occurred in the town last week following stone-pelting by a mob on a motorcycle rally taken out to celebrate Republic Day.

“Saleem has admitted that he had opened fire at Chandan,” IG Sanjeev Gupta claimed.

Additional DG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said that according to the FIR and statements by some of the witnesses, Saleem was the person who opened fire from the roof or balcony of his house.

“He is one of the main accused listed in the FIR. We are interrogating him thoroughly and assessing his culpability in the entire episode,” Kumar said.

He added the police was now trying to link bullets found in the body of the killed youth with some of the weapons seized. In case there is a forensic match through a ballistic examination, things will stand clear, he said.

ADG Kumar said that in seven substantive cases registered in Kasganj, 39 arrests were made. In addition, a lot of preventive arrests have also been made, he said.

Kasganj police officials said that, overall, 150 arrests had been made in connection with the violence.

Asked about ‘Tiranga Yatras’ being taken out by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in several districts in the backdrop of the Chandan Gupta murder, Kumar said the tricolour is a national symbol and should not evoke any controversy.

“The district administrations in all might and effort will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the Tiranga Yatra, if at all permitted in the district, is conducted peacefully,” he said.

To a question on a purported video clip showing revolvers and sticks being used on Friday in Kasganj, the ADG said the police was trying to verify the footage.

Officials said that while Saleem was hiding in Kasganj, his two accused brothers were yet to be traced.

Kasganj SP Piyush Srivastava said notices pertaining to attachment of properties of the accused were pasted outside their houses.

District authorities, meanwhile, stopped a Congress delegation in Mirhachi area of Etah, close to Kasganj border.

The delegation was denied permission due to law and order issues, officials said.

District Magistrate, Kasganj, R P Singh refused permission to the Congress delegation apprehending that their visit to the troubled areas might create more problems.

Tension still prevailed in a few pockets of the town.

Police said normalcy was slowly returning and security personnel had intensified patrolling in sensitive areas.

Stray incidents of violence were reported from Kasganj yesterday but the situation was by and large peaceful today, they said.

The UP government, meanwhile, sent a report to the Union Home ministry on the violence and steps taken to control it.

The state government’s report contains details about the arrests made by the UP Police and circumstances leading to the death of Chandan Gupta, an official said in New Delhi.

The state government has conveyed that the police were investigating the case and all facts were being ascertained to know if the violence was pre-planned, he added.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said yesterday that his government was committed to providing security to each and every citizen.

“Anarchy has no place in the state,” he said promising strict action against the perpetrators of violence.

The UP government has come under fire over the clashes with even Governor Ram Naik terming the Kasganj violence a “blot” on the state. Opposition parties have also attacked the state government over the clashes.

SC drops contempt charges against Giriraj Kishore

supreme courtThe Supreme Court Wednesday dropped contempt charges against VHP leader Giriraj Kishore, who died after judgement on the issue was reserved, for allegedly making defamatory statement in 1994 on Ayodhya controversy.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha also dropped contempt proceedings against editor and reporter of a daily Khabardar India for publishing derogatory statement of the VHP leader.

Giriraj, who was brought to the court on March 26 to appear in the proceedings, died on July 13.

The court noted that the VHP leader, when he appeared before it, was not able to respond due to severe physical and mental illness. It was hearing a petition filed by senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan who had sought contempt proceedings against Giriraj.

“We appreciate the gravity of the subject matter highlighted by Rajeev Dhawan. We are also not oblivious of the fact that the Court was not satisfied prima facie with the initial response filed by Giriraj Kishore and ordered on May 06, 1994 to initiate the contempt proceedings.

“But, the fact of the matter is that despite the order passed on 06.05.1994, the notice accompanied by charges on him has not been served so far. In this view of the matter, at this distance of time, when the subject matter remained dormant for almost two decades and now the contemner is 96 years and he is not able to respond to the charges due to old age and illness, we do not think that this is a fit case where we should deal with the matter further,” the bench said.

The bench said since contempt proceedings are not being pursued further to find out criminality against the author who made the offending statements, we are of the view that contempt matter does not deserve to be pursued against owner, publisher, editor of Khabardar India and its reporter Pradeep Thakur.

(Source: PTI)

Ramdev’s five-star satyagraha engineered by VHP, RSS: Digvijay

Sharpening his attack on Baba Ramdev, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Saturday dubbed his indefinite fast as a “five-star satyagraha” sponsored by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to divert people’s attention from “Sanghi terror”.

“Now it is absolutely clear as to what are the credentials of Baba Ramdev. He is now openly supported by RSS, BJP and VHP,” Mr. Singh told reporters.He alleged that this campaign by VHP and RSS “is to undo the Constitution and Parliamentary democracy by encouraging people like Baba Ramdev to go on such fast.” 

Alleging that the campaign is “totally engineered by RSS and VHP to divert people’s attention from Sanghi terror”, Mr. Singh wondered “what kind of satyagraha is this of a Baba who travels in a jet.” 

“He has got five-star tents put up with all facilities. And he is doing ‘satyagraha’ on issues, which he doesn’t know,” Mr. Singh, who recently dubbed Baba Ramdev as being more of a businessman than a ‘sanyasi’, said.

“The whole satyagraha is not something what the satyagraha Mahatma Gandhi meant. This is five—star satyagraha for which crores of rupees have been spent in creating air conditioned pandal,” he said.

Mr. Singh also took a dig at Anna Hazare who has announced plans to join Baba Ramdev in the fast tomorrow, saying, “I leave it to (his) judgement. Anna Hazare associates himself with RSS, VHP, I don’t know.” 

The Congress leader, who has been speaking on the issue despite a virtual gag order, said that from day one everyone knows that “soldiers” of RSS, BJP and VHP are supporting Baba Ramdev.

VHP not ready to give away any part of Ayodhya land

Rejecting the Ayodhya verdict of the Allahabad High Court, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Wednesday demanded not only the disputed 90 ft x 120 ft plot where the Babri Masjid once stood, but also the over 67 acres of land nearby acquired by the central government.

‘We are not ready to part with any bit of land in or around the disputed Ayodhya land, where we wish to erect a grand temple to mark the birthplace of Lord Ram,’ VHP supremo Ashok Singhal said at a press conference here Wednesday afternoon.

He also ruled out the possibility of allowing construction of a mosque in any corner of the entire acquired land. ‘If Muslims wish to build a mosque, let them do it outside the limits of the acquired land,’ Singhal said.

He was speaking after a day-long meeting of the VHP’s central committee of seers, who debated the court verdict.

A three-judge special bench of the high court had ordered division of the disputed 90 ft x 120 ft plot of land where the Babri Masjid once stood into three equal parts – one to Ram Lalla, one to Hindu sect Nirmohi Akhara and one to the Sunni Central Waqf Board.

Claiming that 45 acres of the acquired land actually belonged to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas (trust), Singhal said: ‘I see no reason why the central government cannot make a smooth transfer of the 45 acres of acquired land back to its original owner, that was the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas.’

He said the remaining acquired land too could be formally given to the Nyas for construction of the proposed Ram temple.

Singhal proposed to lead a delegation of Hindu seers to Prime minister Manmohan Singh with a formal request in this regard.

‘I will take a delegation to the prime minister and urge him to hand over the entire 70 acres acquired by the central government way back in the 1990s (after the demolition of the mosque),’ he said.

The VHP was not a direct party to the court case, but chose to throw its weight behind the deity Ram Lalla, a party to the Ayodhya title suit, to whom the court gave one-third of the disputed land.

‘We will urge the deity of Ram (represented by a friend) to file an appeal against the high court order, that had given away one-third of the property to Muslims,’ he said.

‘There was no dispute about the fact that entire Ayodhya was owned by (mythological king) Raja Dashrath, the father of Ram, and the birthplace of Ram was a part of the raja’s palace, so there was no question of parting with any piece of land in that area,’ Singhal said.

He said there seemed no possibility of any out-of-court settlement on the issue unless Muslims completely give up their claim to any portion of the land.

When his attention was drawn to the dispute that the VHP was running even with the Nirmohi Akhara, a rival Hindu party in the case which has been entrusted with one-third of the disputed property, Singhal said: ‘Now that the high court has given the main part of the disputed land to Lord Ram’s deity, it is by implication that the entire land would belong to him.’

However, Jagadguru Madhavacharya, the head of the Udupi peeth in Karnataka, who was also accompanying Singhal, said: ‘We will try and make the Nirmohi Akhara understand that after all we were both fighting for a common cause and our ultimate goal was to see a grand Ram temple come up at the birthplace of the lord.’

Asked about the possibility of a compromise formula, Singhal said: ‘We are not against compromise, but as far as we are concerned we do not have any such formula to offer on our own.’

‘However, we are open to considering any such formula if it were to be proposed by the other party, provided it were to uphold the dignity of Lord Ram as also the sentiments of millions of Hindus,’ said the VHP chief.

Shia leaders reject VHP’s Ayodhya proposal

Prominent representatives of the Shia sect of Muslims here Wednesday rejected Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) chief Ashok Singhal’s offer to hold talks on the Ayodhya issue.

In a statement issued earlier during the day in Mumbai, Singhal had said that since the high court had dismissed the Sunni Waqf Board’s suit staking a claim to the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land in Ayodhya, the VHP would now hold talks with Shia organizations.

The VHP supremo said: ‘Mughal emperor Babar’s army commander Mir Baqi, who built the Babri Masjid was a Shia, therefore we have decided to hold talks with representatives of the community.’

Reacting sharply to Singhal’s statement, widely acclaimed Shia scholar and cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, who was also senior vice president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said: ‘We are not interested in any move initiated by Singhal, who only believed in playing the politics of hatred.’

He said: ‘It is quite apparent that after failing to forge a divide between Hindus and Muslims, the VHP was now trying to incite a confrontation between Shias and Sunnis; but we will not play into their hands.’

Expressing similar views, another well-known Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad said: ‘There was absolutely no logic in Singhal’s explanations, which were clearly aimed at bringing Shias at loggerheads with Sunnis.’

‘A mosque is a place of worship which cannot be restricted to a particular sect of Muslims,’ he said.

Maulana Mohammad Athar, who heads the All India Shia Muslim Personal Law Board, also flayed Singhal for his remarks.