Spies of Punjab, ‘shown steps of gold’


CHANDER SUTA DOGRA, The HinduFor one Sarabjit Singh, whose death brought politicians to his funeral and financial assistance for his family, the Punjab countryside is dotted with scores of men knocking on the doors of courts seeking compensation for the years many of them spent in Pakistani jails, and recognition of their services as spies for India.

Neither the government nor his family has ever acknowledged that Sarabjit — who died this week after being attacked by fellow prisoners in a Lahore jail — was a spy. Indeed, in the years before the campaign for commutation of the death sentence he received in 1991 gained momentum, none of the men who now say they were spies dared to approach the courts. Most melted back into the poverty-stricken lives they left before joining the dangerous world of espionage whose golden rule — if you are caught you are on your own — was, they claim, never disclosed to them. But Sarabjit’s saga slowly emboldened many former spies in Punjab and Jammu to file petitions, none of which have been viewed positively by the courts so far.

According to Ranjan Lakhanpal, a Chandigarh-based lawyer who has singlehandedly filed some 40 petitions of former spies in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, “The maximum relief that we have managed to get so far is a vague direction to the government to look into the matter. It has never resulted in any concrete benefit for the petitioners, most of who are penniless after spending years in Pakistani prisons. Whenever their cases are taken up in the courts, the government just refuses to acknowledge them,” he says. But they keep coming to Mr. Lakhanpal, who has in recent years become a beacon of sorts for former spies. Sooner or later, they land up at his office because he takes up their cases free of charge.

Poor families, from the border belt of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepur in particular, are the recruiting grounds for intelligence agencies like the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), military intelligence (MI) and BSF Intelligence. And Dhariwal, Daduwan, Khaira Kalan and Kang, among others, can almost be called spy villages for the number of men that are recruited from here.

Some are even recruited from across the border, as the curious case of Karamat Rahi illustrates. Originally a Pakistani national, his story is illustrative of the murky work of espionage in which penury and desperation are attractive attributes in potential recruits and borders mere lines on the ground. Karamat’s father was a Mazhabi Sikh trader in Sheikhupura who converted to Christianity after Partition. After his death, Karamat came to India in 1980 on a Pakistani passport because, as he toldThe Hindu, he “like other Christians there, was being forced to convert to Islam.”

“Once in India, I was contacted by RAW and began running covert operations and helped recruit other agents for them.” His home base in Pakistan was invaluable for the agency, till he was arrested from Lahore in 1988 and sentenced to 14 years for spying. His salary at that time was Rs.1,500 a month, and he had been assisted to settle in Gurdaspur as an Indian national. “For a year after my arrest the government paid Rs. 300 a month to my family as pension, but stopped, presuming I had died when they got no other news of me.”

Karamat stayed in prison for 18 years. It was only in March 2005, when the former Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, went to Pakistan on a goodwill visit, that he, along with some other prisoners, were freed and sent home with the delegation.

Karamat moved the High Court seeking pension and a job for his son, but got a rude shock when instead of relief, the court fined him for wasting its time. He appealed to the Supreme Court, which asked him to provide proof that he was engaged in covert activities in Pakistan. “When the agencies recruit us, we are shown steps of gold. They promise us money and security for our families, all of which are forgotten when we are arrested,” he says. Karamat’s former employers offered him a small compensation amount of Rs. 2 lakhs to keep quiet, but he is bitter and refused. “I have spent the best years of my life in jail or working for this country. Now they shun me!”

There are many others. Kashmir Singh was working for MI when he was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for spying in 1976. His sentence was stayed, but he remained in jail. In 2007, Pakistan human rights activist Ansar Burney discovered him in a Lahore prison and used his good offices to secure a presidential pardon for the Indian spy. When Kashmir Singh returned home after 34 years in 2008, he had converted to Islam and called himself Mohammed Ibrahim. Though the Punjab government gave him a plot of land and some money, his deepest hurt is over the abandonment by his former employer.

The petition of Balbir Singh of Amritsar in the High Court states that he worked for RAW between 1971 and 1974 and, after serving a lengthy sentence in Pakistan, he was freed in 1986. All that he wanted was that the period spent in jail should be treated as duty and he or his son be absorbed into service. Just before he died last year, he received a reply to an RTI application that he had moved, asking the government about the service benefits due to him. He was informed that since he was employed by RAW, his application has been moved to the cabinet secretariat for necessary action. His son is following the case in the court now.

Following Sarabjit’s death, former spies from Punjab and Jammu are now joining hands to renew their struggle for recognition and dues. “It is unfortunate how the government uses poor, gullible men like us, who are made to believe that we are actually serving the nation. As you can see, it is an illusion that gets shattered as soon as we are apprehended”, says Karamat. He admits though, that this has not deterred many more from joining the ranks that he has left.

Press Release-We have to move beyond Ambedkar for realization of the Dalit emancipation


 

Press Release
(Press release in hindi and punjabi are attached)
Last day of the national level seminar on “Caste Question and Marxism
We have to move beyond Ambedkar for realization of the Dalit emancipation
Chandigarh16 March.Ambedkar waged a fierce struggle against the caste question and untouchability and created a new awakening in the dalits but he failed to put forward a all-out project for emancipation of dalits and from Ambedkar’s philosophical, political, economic and social thought, no pathway is possible to draw out for the dalit emancipation. So, for taking the struggle against caste system and untouchability to its end, we have to move beyond Ambedkar.
            While presenting his write-up on the topic “Ambedkar and Dalit Emancipation” in the Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar going on here in Bhakna Bhavan, editor of Punjabi magazine ‘Pratibadh’ Sukhwinder said that while achknowledging the historical progressive role of the Ambedkar and the social-reformist movements in their leadership, it is not possible to ignore his limitations.
            He said that today there are attempts going on to forge a compromise between Marxism and Ambedkarism but there are fundamental differences between the two ideologies. Marxism puts forward the pathway of Class struggle for ending the class divisions, exploitation of one man by other man and taking the socialism to the stage of classless society whereas Ambedkar’s politics does not move an inch beyond the policy of some reforms while remaining a part of the capitalist system. In his detailed paper Sukhwinder presented well elaborated analysis of philosophy, politics, economics and historiographic ideas of Ambedkar and said that while achknowledging the historical progressive role of the Ambedkar and the social-reformist movements in their leadership, it is not possible to ignore his limitations.
            He said that dalits have to remember the words of Shaheed Bhagat Singh that path of slow reforms will give nothing to dalits, they have to get ready for a social revolution and a political & economic revolution.
            Famous writer and professor in Jawahar Lal Nehru university, Prof. Tulsi Ram said that greatest contribution of Ambedkar lies in the fact that he attacked the divinity of caste system. Criticizing the paper presented by Sukhwinder, he said that the paper has overlooked the revolutionary role of Buddhist philosophy. Ambedkar too has to be understood while considering the historical limits in which he lived. He talked in detailed about the evils of Hindu religion and said that brahmanists destroyed the Buddhist religion because it opposed the caste system. Prof. Tulsi Ram said that the state capitalist model proposed by Ambedkar was not less progressive than the state socialist system of Russia in any respect.
            Disagreeing on many points with Prof. Tulsi Ram, editor of Ahwan magazine Abhinav said that his explanation is not in unison with the historical facts. Ambedkar said fought against the caste system but this does not prove that his project of caste emancipation was the correct path. Who has the correct understanding of the problem, only that person can propose the correct way for solving that problem. But this is the thing that is lacking in Ambedkar. He strongly criticised the idea of Prof. Tulsi Ram that social movements should be given more importance than the political movements. Social movements always remain confined to the reforms while keeping the question state-power on the fences.
            In the evening session yesterday, Prashant from BR Ambedkar college, Delhi presented his write-up on identity politics. Ninu Chapagai, Shivani, Asit Das, Shabdeesh, Tapish Mandola, Dr. Sukhdev, Kashmir Singh, Satyam were among many other participants who took part in intense discussions that continued in late evening.
            Today’s session was presided over by Prof. Tulsi Ram, poetess Katyayani and Debashish Barat from Chintan Vichar Manch, Patna.
            — Meenakshy (Managing Trustee), Anand Singh (Secretary)
Arvind Memorial Trust
For more information, please contact:
Katyayani – 09936650658, Satyam – 9910462009, Namita (Chandigarh) –  978072412

 

PRESS RELEASE- Dalit emancipation is not possible without REVOLUTION- ( English/Hindi/punjabi)


Chandigarh, 14 March. Known writer and intellectual Dr. Anand Teltumbde said here today that all experiments dalit emancipation by Dr. Ambedkar ended in a ‘grand failure’ and for elimination of caste, we have go beyond their movements.

While speaking at Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar here in Bhakna Bhavan, a national level five-day seminar on the topic of ‘Caste Question and Marxism‘, Dr. Teltumbde said that only 10% of the dalits have benefitted so far from the policy of Reservation. The reason for this is that Dr. Ambedkar did not correctly constituted the policy of reservation. He said that dalit emancipation is not possible without revolution and revolution is not possible without the widest participation of Dalits.

Dr. Teltumbde said that communists of India applied Marxism in a dogmatic way and so they neither understood the caste problem correctly nor they were able to draw a correct strategy for struggle against it. While agreeing with many points in the keynote paper presented in the seminar, he said that by rejecting Ambedkar, Phule or Periyar the social revolution can’t move ahead.

He said that Ambedkar did not make a thorough study of Marxism, but he had a deep attraction for it. We have to think to bring together Marx and Ambedkarite movements. For this it is important that Communists should stand by dalits in every instance of atrocities over dalits.

Editor of ‘Ahwan’ magazine Abhinav presented a detailed criticism of the philosophical source of Ambedkar, an American philosopher John Devy and said that he did not provide any complete way-out for the emancipation of dalits. He did not go beyond getting some concessions from state in the form of ‘Affirmative action’ and welfare steps. The same thing we find in the ideology of Ambedkar. Expressing disagreement with many points raised by Dr. Teltumbde, Abhinav said that the reasons for the failure of all experiments of Dr. Ambedkar have to looked for in his philosophical outlook. While brushing aside the theory of social revolution he continued only to experiment and even there he lacked rationality.

Abhinav said that while acknowledging the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar in bringing to forefront the dalit identity and creating consciousness among them, but along with this we have to present the criticism of political-economical-philosophical views of Dr. Ambedkar.

Mr. Lalto, professor at IIT Hyderabad and a known writer said that Marxism is not a static philosophy, but it gets enriched with many new ideas continuously. Marxists should also use other methods of epistemology and should not rely solely upon a single method. Prof. Sewa Singh said that Ambedkar’s contribution should be evaluated in the light of a correct historical perspective. Alongwith this, Ambedkar’s views about muslims should also be reviewed.

Sukhwinder, editor of Punjabi magazine ‘Pratibadh’ sharply criticized the comments of Dr. Teltumbde on the communists of India and said that communists of India did not even had the program for Indian revolution, so in such circumstances it should not be expected a correct line on caste question from them. But in every part of the country communists fought in front ranks for the rights of oppressed and exploited and gave uncountable sacrifices.

Discussion is still in progress on the two other papers presented in seminar. From ‘Sanhati’, Asit Das presented his write up on “Caste question and Marxism” and a paper by Arjun Prasad Singh from PDFI, Delhi was read out by Tapish Mandola because of his inability to attend the seminar.

Senior leader of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Ninu Chapagai, Kashmir Singh from Sirsa, Jitendra Bharti from Dehradun, Rohit Rajora & Surya Kumar Yadav from Lucknow, Dr. Amrit from Ludhiana, Rajesh Kumar from Varanasi also spoke on the keynote paper of the seminar.

The session was presided over by president of Nepal Rashtrya Dalit Mukti Morcha Tilak Parihar, convener of Gyan Prasar Smaj Master Harish and Dr. Amritpal. Stage was conducted by Satyam.

 

Press release_14.3.13 Hindi

Press release_14.3.13 Punjabi

Haryana: 14-yr-old girl shot dead in Kaithal #Vaw


A 14-year-old girl, Shikha Kaur, was killed on the spot while her 17-year-old friend Amandeep Kaur suffered injuries after an unidentified motorcycle-borne man opened fire at them in Peedal village, 25km from district headquarters Kaithal, around 8am on Wednesday. No motive could be established, as neither did the families suspect anyone nor did any eyewitness testify, said the police.

Minutes after the incident, a group of angry residents led by Shikha’s relatives placed her body on the Kaithal-Patiala road and damaged two state-run buses, though no casualty was reported. The police now blame the agitating mob for the killer’s escape as, for four hours, cops remained caught up in pacifying the protesters and could not launch an immediate manhunt.

Amandeep, a Class-12 student, was rushed to Government Rajindra Hospital in Patiala, around 40km away, with injuries to her wrist. She was scheduled to be operated upon late in the night. Shikha’s post-mortem examination, meanwhile, said she died of a gunshot near the stomach that pierced through her body.

According to what Amandeep purportedly told her father Jagdev Singh, she and Class-8 student Shikha were walking to their school — Shantiniketan Senior Secondary Public School — when a young man, who had his face covered with a piece of cloth, appeared in front of them on a bike and opened fire. Amandeep lost consciousness after that.

“We had no enmity with anyone. I don’t know why my daughter was killed,” said Shikha’s father Nanak Singh, a bus driver, who told the police that he was on duty in Cheeka town nearby when he got a call about the incident. Amandeep’s father Jagdev, a farmer, told HT from Patiala that his family, too, did not have enmity with anyone.

While superintendent of police (SP) Kuldeep Singh rued that no villager had come forward as witness, station house officer (SHO) Kashmir Singh added that their team had rushed to the murder spot immediately but had to first control the agitating family: “In the initial crucial hours, we were not allowed to take effective measures to nab the assailant, who could have dissolved into the mob and managed to slip away.”

Even as none came forward as eyewitness, some villagers told HT on the condition on anonymity that the killer had an accomplice, a man riding besides him on another bike: “One motorbike was left behind. But in the melee later, someone took it away.”