|Thursday, May 4, 2000,
AND JUSTICE SYSTEM
role in military setbacks
to Kathmandu should not be resumed
May 4, 1925
UNION Energy Minister P.R.Kumaramangalam is the most vociferous champion of reforms in the power sector. He is impatient to transform state electricity boards into world class organisations, all making handsome profit and investing the surplus in new plants and feeder lines. So he cajoles the SEBs, argues the case with them, orders them, threatens them and often offers bribes by way of promising grants to do his bidding. But his daily swings from one extreme position to another has not had the desired result for two reasons. His suggestions are a bundle of wishful thinking and the SEBs are under state government control with their own set of priorities and compulsions. First, he wanted every state to set up an electricity regulatory commission and he followed his own advice by establishing a central one. But not many states were enthusiastic, since its main task was to fix the economic cost of power and force the SEBs to bill the consumer in full. In other words, the commission was his ruse to break up the cosy relationship between the SEBs and its officials, on the one hand, and a variety of free users, on the other. Naturally again, the Ministers ploy came a cropper.
Since last year he has
developed another passion. Overnight privatisation of the
SEBs, if possible. In February last he issued a fatwa
ordaining the unbundling (the latest buzz word) of the
three wings of the boards and making them presumably
autonomous corporations as a prelude to selling off each
one to a private company. It was Mr Kumaramangalams
determined pursuit of the goal and the World Banks
bait of a big loan that pushed the UPSEB to split itself
into three, provoke the workers into a strike and force
it quietly to retrace the step. That strike brought out
the real Minister as did the earlier switching off power
supply from the NTPC plants to West Bengal and Bihar
because of nonpayment of dues. His basic approach is
logical and his unstoppable energy draws respect. He
wants to turn the boards into profit-making organisations
and that is welcome. He wants to do it through reforms at
a time when there is a backlash against reforms.
Actually, he knows that losses have nothing to do with
privatisation as the hurriedly pushed through changes in
Orissa have shown. But it is largescale theft of power
that makes the boards to be forever in the red. One
estimate is that out of the combined annual loss of all
boards of about Rs 20,000 crore, fully three-fourths are
caused by either pilferage or non-metering. This can and
should be set right within the present set-up.
Particularly so since the state governments are lukewarm
to reforms. This too he realises as he has changed the
ground rules now. A revised bill allows the boards to
retain the present structure but suggests that the
transmission function should be hived off and be made an
independent wing. This is the wing under which the
maximum loss occurs; the distribution wing can be billed
for the power it is given and told to keep the losses to
the very minimum. The new bill is a highly watered down
version and once again reflects the Ministers
ever-changing attitude to how to go about the reforms.
TOO many people with assumed
self-importance have spoken out of turn or without the
substantiation of claimed knowledge on the ammunition
depot blasts near Bharatpur. Defence Minister George
Fernandes has, therefore, done well to give a credible
account of the literally burning issue. One cannot treat
the statistical part of his statement in the Lok Sabha as
conclusive and final. The fire started on April 28 around
3.30 p.m. "outside" the depot's perimeter wall.
More than 46 degrees Centigrade of day temperature and
the south-western wind of considerable velocity sent the
leaping flames into the depot! The ammunition stored in
20 open plinths and nine sheds became a continuous
inferno. The burning down of 12,1,11 tonnes of explosive
material ranging from tank and armoured personnel
carrier fodder to artillery shells burst out. You
cannot manufacture so much combative material in less
than Rs 376 crore. And what about the destroyed
infrastructure? It can be valued at Rs 13 crore or more.
The financial assessment of the total loss will take
weeks to get computed. But is Mr Fernandes sure about the
complete safety and unaffected strength of superior
weapons, including air-defence missiles and anti-tank
guided missiles? Each stored piece or unit should be
tested by experts. It is better to learn that so much of
costly and crucial combustible material has been rendered
ineffective than to assume that the stores under or near
the plinths are safe. Demanding eventualities must get
dependable wherewithal. The Armed Forces do not fire for
effect; they fire to annihilate and, therefore, need
failsafe material. It would be proper to inspect what
remains of the depot meticulously. It holds, at any given
time, a heavy storeabout 18,000 tonnes of
permanent weaponry and 13,000 tonnes of
non-standard arms and ammunition. The
destruction is going to translate itself into a huge sum.
The replenishment will not be a short-term affair. The
capacity of the depot has unnecessarily become public.
Funds will have to be diverted from other crucial areas
to ordnance factories. The Government needs the
cooperation of the Opposition on the issue of the damage.
It is good that political persons or media-enamoured
defence analysts have not been associated
with the inquiry. The gravity of the happening reminds
one of the unlearnt lessons from Jabalpur. The military
investigators should look beyond the perimeter wall and
the withered grass. The ruling out of the sabotage theory
should be left to the hour of the aggregated facts. Why
is there so much haste for the predetermination of the
IT is possible to fool the world for sometime. But the five members of the nuclear club believe that they have a limitless right to hoodwink the less privileged signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty by renewing their unequivocal commitment to eliminate nuclear weapons. The NPT convention came into effect in 1970 under which the Big-5 out of 187 signatories were allowed to retain nuclear weapons on the assurance that they would work out a mechanism for destroying their stocks within a fixed time-frame. But not one member, even 30 years after the signing of the NPT, has taken any worthwhile measure to banish from the globe the very real danger of a nuclear holocaust. The latest statement, which has been issued on behalf of the USA, Russia, France, Britain and China, too does not provide any clue to the possibility of the nuke club evolving a fixed time-frame for eliminating weapons of mass destruction. The statement has been issued for quelling mounting criticism of the nuclear powers as the violators of the spirit of the NPT. Their promise of not targeting their nuclear weapons at any state too would appear to be hollow in the light of the angry reaction of Russia to what it calls Washingtons duplicityin the matter of sticking to the provisions of the ABM Treaty between the two major global powers. An angry Russian Foreign Minister returned to Moscow on the weekend from Washington threatening to revive the Cold War if the USA went ahead with the decision to change the original format of the ABM Treaty. Of course, Russia is too economically crippled to carry out the threat of reviving the Cold War. But it can opt out of START I and START II and take no further part in START III under which the two countries are to commit themselves to cutting the warheads from 6,000 to 3,500 by 2007.
Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov has been quoted as having said that if
Washington goes ahead with its plans to develop the
so-called national missile defence system, Moscow would
give a befitting reply in an asymmetrical
manner. His angry outburst somehow does not square up
with the Big-5s reported pledge to eliminate
nuclear arms. The American explanation that the proposed
national defence system would merely provide an
umbrella against missiles fired by
rogue states like Iran, Iraq and North Korea
is hardly reassuring. An arms control journal recently
revealed that America plans to mount 100 missiles each at
two sites for shooting down missiles from
rogue states. What strange logic has the US
Administration used to come to the conclusion that the
so-called rogues are a threat to its national
security alone and, therefore, it has the exclusive right
to build and mount missiles? When India saw a similar
threat from China, a member of the privileged club, and
Pakistan, which receives covert nuclear assistance from
China and North Korea, and conducted Pokhran II the USA
made the world interpret it is a threat to world peace!
The charge that America is a key player in distorting the
NPT agenda for reasons which are not valid is not without
substance. The Iraqi Ambassador to the UN, while
participating in the on-going NTP review conference, made
a valid point when he said that we must say to the
nuclear States that try to teach the peoples of the world
lessons in democracy and human rights, that the first
principle of democracy and human rights is the equality
of all human beings. If the Big-5 really mean
business they should announce a fixed time-frame for
destroying their nuclear arsenals. Mere promises are not
likely to help them win back the trust of the non-nuclear
AND JUSTICE SYSTEM
KEEPING in view the post-Kargil scenario, in which terrorist activity has got escalated, there is urgent need to consider an appropriate legislative response to the issue. Not many countrymen may be aware of the utter lack of the criminal justice system in terrorist-infested states. In Srinagar, judges have been compelled to pass orders releasing militants on bail, even when they were neither seized of those cases nor were the relevant papers available to them. Till we find an appropriate legislative response to support the judiciary, and provide a law that can deal with terrorists and terrorised people (which include police officials as well as members of the judiciary), the state may not be able to combat terrorism successfully.
In my view, the expression just and fair procedure for the trial of offences, which is deemed to be an inherent part of Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India, requires a procedure to be fair not only to the accused but also to the prosecution, the people, society, the victims and the witnesses whom the prosecution represents. A procedure can be said to be fair only if it is able to strike a just balance between the rights of the accused on the one hand and the rights of society on the other. In an atmosphere of terror or of extreme fear in the minds of people, they would be unwilling to assist the state in the administration of criminal justice or even to approach the police agencies regarding the commission of offences, assisting or co-operating with the investigation or deposing in open courts. Reasonableness of the procedure and the mechanism for preventing and coping with terrorist offences must, therefore, be judged keeping in view the evil that the law has to contend, the circumstances under which the evil is to be dealt with, the kind of parties before the court, and the mental condition of the witnesses. The law, therefore, has to balance the liberty of the individual with the requirements of security of the state and sovereignty and integrity of the nation.
One of the foremost requirements of the mechanism dealing with terrorist activities is that in such an arrangement the freedom of the individual or that of the accused facing trial must take a second place to the requirement of safety of the citizens, the security of the victims, the witnesses and the personnel dealing with their trial. The requirements of natural justice must adapt themselves to these harsh realities and the concept of fair trial cannot remain static or immune to the practical realities in which such trial has to be conducted.
The Indian laws which provided a mechanism for dealing with the menace of terrorism in the form of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act had been criticised for restricting the scope of natural justice and curtailing it to the extent of erecting a procedure unfair to the accused. In my opinion, Parliament had shown greater concern for the rights of the accused even in respect or trial of terrorist offences than the procedure prescribed in many Western democracies, which some of our friends went on eulogising tirelessly.
Much of the criticism was borne out of ignorance of the state of affairs of the West and the state of mind in which everything Western was regarded as superior. The reality, however, is that under the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provision) Act, 1978, the admission made by the accused has been relevant under Section 8, the onus of proof has been on the accused under Section 9, the right to interfere in the property of the accused without notice has been conferred under Section 19 and the right of bail has been curtailed in Section 2 in exactly the same words as in the Indian statute. Under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provision) Act, 1984, of the UK, the power to exclude persons from Great Britain has been exclusively given to the Secretary of State without there being any right of even confronting the witnesses, what to talk of the right to cross-examine them. The right of detention on suspicion or on the basis of intelligence reports has been upheld by the English courts. Lord Denning upheld this provision by observing in his book, Landmarks in the Law (page 229).
It (the information) could not be disclosed to the suspect, lest he or his associate use it to identify sources and destroy them. We did, however, give the individual as much information as we could so that he could dispel any suspicion that rested on him. In short, we acted as fairly as we possibly could.... Investigation statements from the police and intelligence sources about him, but he did not see these or have any opportunity of cross-examining.
At page 234, Lord Denning himself writes in the same book: It has been held, right upto the present day, that the freedom of individual must take second place to the security of the State.... Once his terrorist involvement is established and the danger the person poses to the public at large, neither the courts nor the tribunal could properly be expected to carry out an examination.
Referring to the report of Lord Garners Committee with regard to the procedure for internment in Northern Ireland, Lord Denning feels the final decision should rest with any body or tribunal, but solely with the Secretary of State.
In support of the same procedure, Lord Denning further states as follows: A number of people are alive today who otherwise would have been dead..... if it (identity) had been known to some of the people who had brought these matters to the attention of the security authorities, then there is no doubt that those people would have been murdered.
Justifying the same procedure, Lord Denning claims at page 236 in the same book with regard to the order of exclusion without a trial in the following words: It can be made on the evidence of intelligence officers of whom the suspect knows nothing and whom he has no opportunity of cross-examining. It can be made without even telling him the nature of the information. All this is contrary to the fundamental principle of natural justice. But natural justice must take second place in extreme cases to the national security.
I cannot but express my surprise and disappointment at the interpretation of Section 3 of TADA by the Supreme Court in the case of State vs Nalini (1). I am not able to reconcile myself with the view adopted by the Bench on the interpretation of Section 3 of TADA that the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, a former Prime Minister, with explosives, by way of a human bomb, was not a terrorist offence, because Para 563..... it was sheer personal animosity of Prabhakaran and other LTTE cadres, developed against Rajiv Gandhi, which resulted in his assassination. In para 555, the judgement reads, Mr Altaf Ahmed realised the difficulty he had to face to show that no offence under Section 3 and/or 4 of TADA had been committed.
I can neither understand the difficulty of the learned counsel nor the reasons for the conclusion of the Bench. Whether the objective of the conspiracy was the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi or to overawe the government, or whether it was on account of personal motive of Prabhakaran or the collective aim of the LTTE, if the killing of a former Prime Minister under these circumstances did not amount to a terrorist offence, there can perhaps be no other act which can qualify to be a terrorist act.
The judgement appears to me to be contrary to a string of authorities under the TADA Act. In the case of Girdhari Parmanand Wadhwa vs State of Maharashtra (2), Justice G.N. Ray held that the intention to strike terror in the minds of the people can be reasonably inferred from the crime itself. If the intention is to send a message to the people (even of a locality) that if their demand was not met, killing of an innocent person would be resorted to, it was held to be a terrorist act. In the case of the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, the message was clearly being sent to the whole nation.
In the case of Gursharan Singh vs State of Punjab (3), Justice M.K. Mukherjee convicted the appellant under Section 3 of TADA for demanding money under threat of life of an individual.
Justice Mohan in the case of State of West Bengal vs Mohd Khalid (4), which popularly came to be known as the Calcutta bomb blast case, held that mere storage of 26 live bombs itself is tantamount to terrorising people. The plea of the defence that the bombs had been stored to defend Muslims was held to be wholly unwarranted.
In the case of Rajbir vs State of Haryana (5), the present Chief Justice, Dr A.S. Anand, held that firing with a pistol at a former Chief Minister at a public function amounted to an offence under Section 3 of TADA.
Are we then to understand that if Rajiv Gandhi had escaped, it would have been a terrorist offence, but if he is blown to smithereens it is not. Is it not ironical that a person who fired at him at Rajghat with a country-made pistol should be convicted under TADA, even though the bullet never even came anywhere near him, but the accused who conspired and killed him in the most brutal fashion cannot be said to have committed a terrorist act.
Justice J.S. Verma, in the case of Sanjay Dutt vs State (6), sitting as part of a Constitution Bench, held that mere conscious possession of an unauthorised arm and ammunition or bomb or dynamite without any further nexus with any terrorist or disruptive activity constitutes a statutory offence under Section 5 of TADA, with strict liability and no statutory exception existing therein. Are we then to understand the state of law that while mere possession of explosives or dynamite is an offence under TADA, its use to kill a former Prime Minister is not.
Justice R. Pandhian held in the case of Mohd Yusuf vs State of Gujarat (7) that even causing the death of one person leading to a communal riot constituted an offence under Section 3 (2). Justice Jaichandra Reddy in the case of Sukhvinder Singh vs State of Punjab (8) held that the act of demanding money from witnesses and, on their refusal, firing at them amounted to an offence under Section 3 of TADA.
It is unfortunate that none of these decisions were noticed, and now we are in a situation when even the review has been dismissed. I do not know which legislation can prevent the interpretation of the kind adopted in this case unless Parliament expressly declares its intent to remove the anomaly created by the judgement.
role in military setbacks
THE occupation of Tibet by China in 1950 and the subsequent developments there were crucial for India so far as politico-military matters and trade and culture are concerned. But Nehru was convinced that his Tibet policy would be best preserved by maintaining cordial relations with China. In fact, it was considered as the best way for protecting the northern borders.
It may be interesting to know that instead of hardening its attitude towards China, the then Government of India rather supplied 10,000 maunds of rice to Tibet under China, a year after its occupation, following reports of famine there. The demand to this effect was made by China and India obliged.
However, as a sequel to the general uproar in Parliament, the Government of India constituted in February, 1951, a high-level North and North-Eastern Border Defence Committee perhaps for the first time to investigate the long-term aspects of Himalayan security.
The committee submitted its report to the Ministry of Defence in 1953. It proposed the reorganisation and expansion of Assam Rifles, The extension of the administration in NEFA, the development of the intelligence network and communication along the borders.
In 1952 another committee was set up to study the military threats to the northern borders and to assess the requirements in the event of a clash with China. But, unfortunately, these reports were shelved by the government. All that emerged was the raising of a small ITBP force to establish administration at a few selected places. Moreover, it was decided at the Cabinet level that no military preparation against China was necessary, which ultimately became the cornerstone of our national aim and policy with regard to that neighbour. It was also the guideline for the government, the civil services, the experts, the Press and the public. As such, there was a complete absence of any strategic assessment of Chinese policy towards India on the part of Nehru and his advisers.
Although this policy was largely conditioned by our defence weaknesses, instead of realising the potential threat and the consequent preparation to meet that, only ignorance and uncertainty prevailed in the minds of the Indian leaders, resulting from a blind eyeview of all hostile activities of China, culminating in the 1962 war.
Earlier, Lt-Gen Kulwant Singh, Corps Commander of the newly raised XI Corps, the only corps in the then Indian Army, had said in his report, submitted to Army headquarters, that China would wage a war on India in a period of five-seven years. His assessment was made on the basis of the actual reconnaissance of the area made by his general staff.
Meanwhile, China had built the Aksai Chin road passing through Indian territory and was carrying out other military activities along the borders about which information was passed on to the government. But every report was either dismissed or totally ignored by the Central leadership.
As late as in 1958, a contingency plan was prepared by Lt-Gen S.P.S. Throat, Eastern Army Commander, who appraised an attack from China apart from the likely areas of thrust and consequent action. It included the creation of a defence line and a provision of buffer areas with its tactical value. But indifference of the then political leadership to all such strategic appreciations thickened more with the passage of time. The government, instead of taking stock of the true situation, replaced Lt-Gen Umrao Singh, the dissident Corps Commander.
In 1960, General Thimayya was permitted to make a long desired study of the Alpine troops, He recommended to the Defence Minister the raising of mountain divisions, but the proposal was rejected on the grounds that formation of such divisions would constitute a basic shift in strategy with far-reaching repercussions on the countrys foreign policy.
On September 8, 1960, the Chinese forces crossed the McMahon Line in the Kameng frontier of NEFA. The Government of India, confirming the report officially on September 13, tried to underplay the attack by saying that the Chinese forces had appeared in the vicinity of one of the posts.
Later, just 16 days before the Chinese waged a full-scale war against India, the government set up a new corps and appointed Lt-Gen B.M. Kaul as its commander. It was more to give General Kaul the much-needed command experience to prepare him for some higher position rather make the corps battle worthy.
Thus when China attacked India the latter was taken completely by surprise due to the nature and strength of Chinese preparation for the main attack. The Indian troops resolutely met the attack and fought back despite being outnumbered and out-manoeuvred.
Immediately after the war the Government of India instructed the Army to conduct an enquiry into the reverses in NEFA. But Maj-Gen Henderson Brooks and his aide, Brig P.S. Bhagat, did not have access to the full picture and were cut off from enquiring into the actual exchanges between the civilian leadership and Army Headquarters. However, by the nature of events it described, the Henderson Brooks report could not have been anything but more damaging to the prestige of Nehru and his government and was, therefore, classified and kept as top secret.
The success of the Chinese aggression exposed the weaknesses of Indias defences in the Himalayas and compelled it to realise the urgency of strengthening its forces by revising its defence policy immediately.
Thirtyseven years have passed when the Henderson Brooks report was prepared and presented in Parliament in the form of a statement by the then Defence Minister dealing with intelligence, planning and preparation besides explaining mildly the shortcomings for the series of reverses during the China attack.
Last year in Kargil the Indian Army was once again caught in the quagmire of politics. This happened when the ruling political leadership was following a policy of appeasement in the case of Pakistan, and the military was made to occupy a back-seat.
The new governments agenda was to make its Lahore bus diplomacy a resounding success as Nehru wanted to live in the then glory of Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai.
General Henderson in his report had fixed the responsibility on the Army top brass but the blame was left tacit. However, the Subrahmaniyam Committee instituted to go into the circumstances leading to the armed intrusion by Pakistan in the Kargil sector besides pointing out 25 glaring deficiencies in the counrtys security set-up, has severely indicted one brigade commander for not taking timely action.
As per the findings of the committee, Brig Surinder Singh is the only senior Army officer who has been named in the report. Having found a scapegoat in the Brigadier and exonerating all the senior Army commanders of the area, including those in charge of intelligence, the committee has grossly acted not in a fair manner. After all, there is a chain of command which helps in keeping our borders and their security sacrosanct.
Defending 120 km of the area without any operational instructions, that too in an inhospitable terrain, was beyond the scope of a Brigadier and came in the purview of a corps-level task. At the same time, perhaps, the Go Slow Directive to the Army from the political bosses in Delhi to see that their peaceful overtures might bear political dividends from across the border could also have been the real cause of the initial failures in Kargil for which both politicians and military commanders must equally share the blame. As Prussian military thinker Clausewitz had said, the military takes its character from the polity, and the polity is the womb in which war develops.
Kathmandu should not be resumed
ACCORDING to a news report the Government of India is keen to resume Indian Airlines flights to-fro Kathmandu. Has the case of the IC 814 been solved to the satisfaction of the nation? Nepal has still not informed us as to who were the hijackers? What were their names and their nationality? How did the arms and explosives reach the hijackers? If the Nepalese government has given satisfactory answers to these questions to the government of India, then the information has not been shared by our government with the nation. Will the government of India care to answer these burning questions?
There is growing suspicion in India that a part of Nepalese establishment is keen to avoid the involvement of any foreign national in passengers and goods handling activities at Kathmandus Tribhuvan National Airport. The Indian authorities are insisting on carrying out secondary security checks. It may be pointed out that international conventions allow a carrier to conduct secondary checks by its own staff. In fact, not just EL, AL of Israel but even British Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Airlanka, Biman Bangladesh, PIA, Syrian Air etc, are allowed secondary checking of baggage and travellers by their own staff after the routine ex-ray and security checks by Indian personnel in India.
The Nepalese, stonewalled all Indian efforts to allow at least secondary checking of baggage and passengers by Indian Airlines personnels. The only concession they did make and which is so impractical that the Indian side may not follow it up at all, is a check by Indian Airlines staff before boarding, but on an elevated and enclosed platform of a ladder. The Indian delegation pointed out time and again that nearly a dozen global carriers were being allowed secondary checks on Indian soil, and that Royal Nepal Airlines too could enter into a quid pro-quo arrangement with Indian Airlines. But it has been of no avail so far.
One can understand the anxiety of the Indian Airlines for the resumption of their flights to Kathmandu. With the suspension of services Indian Airlines has suffered a loss of Rs 6 crore surplus. There were 1200 passengers (to and fro) using Indian Airlines from various parts of India every day. IAs profit between April 1999 and January of Rs 50 crore would have been earned if the flights on this sector were operational in normal times, say IA sources, adding that the daily loss is approximately Rs 26 lakhs. There were 21 weekly flights operating between India and Nepal till December 24. The Indian Airlines flights were connecting Delhi, Varanasi and Calcutta to Kathmandu. This circuit generated 25 per cent surplus revenue for Indian Airlines.
But what the Indian Airlines officials have to understand is that flights cannot be resumed till a final nod is taken from the Government and the nodal agencies concerned like Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Talking about the losses, the IC 814 hijacking must have cost the nation over 100 crore. Is the Indian Airlines going to reimburse this amount?
And what does the Bureau of Civil Aviation Securities have to say about the security set-up at Nepal Tribhuvan Airport? A report of the Bureau blames the authorities at Kathmandu Airport for not taking remedial measures after the hijacking. The report has made the alarming observation that in a virtual replay of the modus operandi adopted by IC-814s hijackers, the team noticed a passenger of Thai Airways flight TG-320 entering the departure walkway directly from the VIP lounge without undergoing any pre-embarkation security check. The report is with the Cabinet Committee of Security Affairs, which will take a final decision on the resumption.
Recording of immigration data is not being done on-line. Of two X-ray machines installed in the departure area for screening of baggage none is used. No surveillance over the passengers is kept while in the check-in area. They stop behind the check-in counters and handle their own baggage says the report. The team discovered that Hand-Held Metal Detectors (HHMD) are rarely used for screening passengers. Even after the hijack of IC-814, aircraft are not guarded and transit passengers are not subjected to pre-embarkation security checks. It points out that most of the police personnel detailed on airport security duties are not trained in aviation securities.
What was more was that the Nepal Governments High powered committee probing into security lapses that led to the hijacking of IC 814, has given Kathmandus Tribhuvan Airport staff a clean chit. This is despite the fact that the five hijackers managed to board the Delhi-bound aircraft with pistols, grenades and knives. The Committee headed by Ex-Nepal Police Chief Khim Bahadur has expressed its satisfactionwith the security at the Airport on the day of hijacking. Its report says the arms and ammunition in the possession of the hijackers was not taken on board at Kathmandu Airport and that the weapons used for the hijacking could very well have been fake ones. It has concluded that since there was no way to ascertain whether the weapons were real, security personnel at the airport are above blame.
Earlier, it was just criminal negligence on behalf of the security staff at Tribhuvan airport that was Indias complaint. Now it appears that one of the hijackers was a Nepali citizen. In a swift and silent operation, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recently booked two key conspirators in the IC-814 hijack case.
They are Abdul Latif and Yusuf Nepali. Both are in police custody now.
For more than a decade various nefarious extremist groups have targeted India through Nepal. Initially Nepal and then from J&K to North-Eastern states and even in Sri Lanka the activists of the LTTE have used Nepal for their misdeeds.
Even Babloo Srivastava and Dawood Ibrahim have often used Nepal as their base to wage aggression against our sub-continent. They and their colleagues got unrestricted support and shelter from Nepal as and when they required. Late Mirza Dilshad Beg, a minister in the Nepalese Government., was found indulging in these sorts of activities, in spite of repeated warnings the Nepalese authorities have turned a blind eye to the smuggling.
Banning of Indian
Airlines flights is a signal to Nepal to pull up its
socks. It is a signal to Nepal to stop and prevent
further anti-Indian activities from its soil. It is
not just the security lapses at Tribhuvan airport that is
at stake, India has to make Nepal realise that India
means business and that no nonsense will be
tolerated now. Only when Nepal shows its
inclination to respect Indias concerns and make the
necessary amends, should we consider resumption of
THE official Commissioner for India to an Empire Exhibition which he boycotted is scarcely the man whose view on so important a subject as the attitude of the average Englishman towards Indian is likely to have any weight with his countrymen. As a matters of fact, the view expressed by Mr Vijiaraghava Chariar, who is not to be confounded with the great Salem patriot of that name, is exactly of the kind that might have been expected from him. If India continues to exhibit the same attitude towards the British Empire as she did during the war, he said, an attitude I noticed often referred to with gratitude and pride by all Englishmen irrespective of parties, I feel confident of an assured and honourable place for her in the Councils of the Empire.
Mr Vijiaraghava Chariar must be an exceptionally fortunate man. At a time when all or most leading Indians who have recently visited England have noticed a distinct and growing change for the worse in the average Englishmans angle of vision regarding India, he has seen nothing in that country but hearts overflowing with pride and gratitude for the attitude India exhibited towards the Empire during the War.
As regards his general
proposition, all we can say is that time is long gone by
when even the simplest Indian can believe that it is
merely by an exhibition for her own friendliness towards
the British Empire that India can secure an assured and
honourable place in the Commonwealth. Political freedom
has never and nowhere in history been won on such easy
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