Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Anna stir: IITians meet Advani

Advani meets the IIT students who were protesting outside his house in New Delhi and assures them of his party's support for a strong Lokpal.

IITians meet Advani, seek BJP's support for Anna's Jan Lokpal

Alumni, faculty and students of IIT express support for Anna Hazare in New Delhi
A group of students from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi held a protest march outside the residence of senior BJP leader L.K. Advani seeking party's support for Anna Hazare's Jan Lokpal Bill.

Marching with placards, the students demanded that Hazare's Jan Lokpal Bill be made into a law.

Advani met the students and assured them of his party's support for a strong Lokpal.

"There is no criminal law which exempts any one. even the Prevention of Corruption Act does not exempt the prime minister. On the Lokpal, we are of the view that the prime minister should be under the purview of the Lokpal," Advani told the students.

The IITians' protests come a day after BJP top brass met Team Anna over the party's misgivings about certain provisions of the Jan Lokpal. The BJP on Thursday said that it was ready to support the Jan Lokpal Bill to the extent it does not dilute Parliament and the Constitution.

IITians plan march to Rahul home, cops nip it in the bud

News item in The Times of India dated 28.08.2011 reporting the police unlawful detention of IITians protesting in favor of a strong anti-graft law, the movement was led by Mr. Somnath Bharti (Advocate, Supreme Court and Partner, Bharti & Associates) capacitated as Secretary, IIT Delhi Alumni Association.

Raj Shekhar, TNN Aug 28, 2011, 02.41am IST

NEW DELHI: Anna's war against corruption formally reached the gates of IIT-Delhi on Saturday. A 1,000-strong crowd comprising present and former students of the institute gathered at the main gate in the evening, carrying the tricolour and shouting slogans. Their plan was to march towards Lutyens' Delhi and protest outside the residence of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi at 12, Tughlaq Road; but cops did not allow them to even begin the march. Dejected, the protesters tried to force their way out, after which many of them were detained. Even though students alleged that about 60 of them were picked up, cops said only 28 were detained and released later.Somnath Bharti, a past pupil and the coordinator of the protest, was the first to be detained. "We were roughed up and cops did not explain why we could not protest peacefully. They just told us that they had orders from their superiors. I want to know why they stopped us," said Bharti.The IITians tried their best to dodge the police by trying to sneak out in smaller groups and board the Metro to reach their destination. But the police soon got wind of the scheme and foiled their bid. Akshay, a 4 th-year student, said the police action was "unfair". "When everybody else is being allowed to protest, the administration is targeting us and stopping us from expressing ourselves," he said.Cops, on the other hand, claimed they had no prior information about the protest, nor did the students ever seek any permission to do so. "They were asked to take permission, specifying the area of protest; but a section of them refused to do so, which is why they had to be detained," said a senior officer.Elsewhere, a plan to protest outside the Congress office at 24, Akbar Road, was nipped in the bud when cops dispersed about 100 protesters, who had gathered there in the afternoon.Earlier in the day, DMRC, following a Delhi Police directive, shut down Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat Udyog Bhavan stations around 3pm. These were re-opened for public at 7pm. Earlier, four metro stations, namely Udyog Bhawan, Race Course, Jor Bagh on Gurgaon Line and Khan Market on Badarpur corridor, were closed as a precautionary measure following flash protests near residences of the leading political leaders.

38 IITians detained for protesting

News item in Indian Express reporting the police unlawful detention of IITians protesting in favor of a strong anti-graft law, the movement was led by Mr. Somnath Bharti (Advocate, Supreme Court and Partner, Bharti & Associates) capacitated as Secretary, IIT Delhi Alumni Association.
Naveed Iqbal Posted online: Sun Aug 28 2011, 03:48 hrs
New Delhi : Thirty-eight students of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) were detained for holding protests in support of Anna Hazare on Saturday.
More than 500 students and alumni of IIT-D shouting “Desh ka yuwa yahan hai, Rahul Gandhi kahan hai?” gathered at campus gate at 4 pm to march towards Rahul Gandhi’s house on Tughlaq Road.
Even though police detained some students, citing law and order problems, protests continued till late evening. The protesters were not allowed to proceed out of the campus.
Security, meanwhile, was increased at Tughlaq Road. The three Metro stations in the vicinity of Tughlaq Road — Patel Chowk, Udyog Bhawan and Central Secretariat — were also closed for three hours.
“We had permission from Rahul Gandhi’s office to meet him, even then some students were detained,” said a student of IIT who was among the protesters.
Secretary of IIT-D Alumni Association, Somnath Bharti, alleged that the detained students were manhandled by the police and forced into police vans.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Anna Hazare's message to the Nation for 15th and 16th August

Dear Fellow Countrymen,

Though in my view Anna Hazare's approach is not a long term solution and apparently antithesis to the constitutional framework the founders gave to our nation India and even Anna or Arvind Kejriwal would not be very happy to resort to this mode of protest or bringing reforms but the way corruption and corrupt are getting stronger and stronger day by day and their shamelessness has crossed all the thresholds of morality, I am all for the Anna Hazare's movement.
Anna Hazare has given the following message to the citizens of this country to wake them up from deep slumber they have been to maneuvered to be pushed into all these years.

Anna Hazare's message to the Nation for 15th and 16th August

My Dear Fellow Indians, A decisive battle against corruption has begun. We are not against any political party. We want systemic reforms. We want a corruption-free India. After all, what are the people asking for – a strong anti-corruption law which provides for honest and time-bound investigations and trials that result in jail for the guilty, confiscation of embezzled money and their dismissal from service? Are we asking too much? For two months, we were talking to the government. Government seems unwilling to take even small steps against corruption. Government appears insincere. We have met all prominent political leaders. We have tried everything. What do we do now? When I announced my indefinite fast from 16th August, the government threatened that they would crush us the way they crushed Baba Ramdev's peaceful agitation. Friends, this is a historic opportunity. We can't afford to lose it. We are determined to fight to the end. If they arrest us, we will peacefully offer ourselves. If they use batons and bullets, we will happily lay down our lives but will not leave the place. We will not retaliate. It will be a completely non-violent movement. “If you fast on 16th August, you will be crushed” – this is what they are saying. “We will impose section 144 on Jantar Mantar” – this is what they are thinking. But I say that if every citizen in this country takes off from his work from 16th August, comes on the streets in front of his house, at the crossing, with a tricolor in his hands shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and raising slogans against corruption, they will fall short of batons and bullets. The government may arrest one Anna Hazare but how will they arrest 120 crore Anna Hazares? They may impose section 144 at one Jantar Mantar but will they impose section 144 on the whole country? And let me tell you – the police and army is with us. At traffic signals, policemen stop us, express their support and wish us well; at Raj Ghat, the policemen donated generously for the movement! So, will you take off from your work from 16 August? Will you descend on the streets with me? This year, the country will wait for 16th rather than 15th August. In solidarity, thanks Anna Hazare (Please make copies of this pamphlet and distribute it in large nos.) “WHY GOVERNMENT'S LOKPAL IS DANGEROUS???” Government's Lokpal is targeted against those who raise their voice against corruption rather than to punish the corrupt! The government's Lokpal bill covers only about 0.5% of public servants, yet it brings under its ambit virtually every citizen's group and organization, registered or unregistered, meant to serve the social sector. This raises a pertinent question -- whom is the Lokpal really targeted at? There are more than 1.25 crore central and state government employees. Out of this merely 65,000 Group A Central Government employees would be covered in the government bill leaving out all the lower officers and staff. This effectively means that there is no remedy against corruption that a common person faces daily in police, roads, industry, licensing, transport, roadways, municipality, rations, health services, education, pension, provident funds, Panchayat, forest department, irrigation department, etc. On the other hand, Lokpal would have jurisdiction over ALL NGOs, trusts, societies like Resident Welfare Associations(RWAs), big or small, whether registered or unregistered, whether they receive government funding or not, up to the village level! For instance, consider a group of citizens that unearths corruption of the Sarpanch and Block Development officer (BDO) in a village. The government's Lokpal can't take any action against the Sarpanch or BDO but it CAN lock up the group of HONEST active CITIZENS. Each and every association, like Resident Welfare Associations, Market Associations, even your neighborhood committees that organize festivals like Durga Puja, Ramlila, etc. would be under the purview of Lokpal. While there is no disagreement that the rot of corruption is also afflicting many societies, associations and NGOs, there already exists a plethora of laws like the Trust Act, Societies Act, FCRA, etc. to monitor them. Lokpal was originally intended for checking corruption in public servants. Regardless, if it is being extended to all associations of civil society, then why shouldn't it also cover all companies, businesses, political parties, and media houses? Government's Lokpal Provides Greater Protection to Corrupt! Provisions in the government's Lokpal Bill heavily favour corrupt public servants. Under this bill, a public servant accused of corruption is allowed to turn around and file a lawsuit against the complainant accusing him of filing a frivolous complaint. The government will provide a free advocate to the accused to help prove the citizen was wrong, while the citizen has to fend for himself. If the complaint proves to be frivolous, the minimum sentence FOR THE CITIZEN is TWO YEARS. But if the corruption charges are proved, the minimum sentence for the public servant is just SIX MONTHS! Will then any citizen dare raise a voice against corruption?

With warm wishes
Somnath Bharti