Naroda Patiya case: Modi government does a U-turn on Kodnani, Bajrangi #deathpenalty


CNN-IBN | Updated May 14, 2013

Ahmedabad: In a U-turn of sorts, the Gujarat state legal department has written to the chief prosecutor in the Naroda Patiya massacre case, seeking approval for enhancement of punishment for BJP leader Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal’s Babu Bajrangi to be put on hold. The legal department wants the punishment to be put on hold until further instructions.

Earlier the department had given a sanction to the Special Investigation Team to file an application in the High Court seeking death sentence for Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and nine others. 97 persons were killed in Naroda Patiya during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

In 2012, a special court had sentenced Maya Kodnani to 28 years in jail for the massacre in Naroda Patiya. Kodnani is the sitting MLA from Naroda Patiya.

 

Kodnani, a three-time MLA from Naroda area, who was considered to be close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is the first woman and first MLA to be convicted and sentenced in a post-Godhra riots case.

Kodnani was the minister of women and child development in the Narendra Modi government but was forced to resign after a case was lodged against her in the Naroda Patiya massacre of 2002.

The trial court had convicted 32 people and acquitted 29 others in the Naroda Patiya massacre case which took place during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The Naroda Patiya massacre is the largest single case of mass murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots that broke out following the Sabarmati Express train carnage near Godhra station. The case has been probed by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT).

As many as 327 witnesses, comprising eye witnesses, victims, doctors, police personnel, government officials, forensic experts and journalists including Ashish Khetan, who conducted a TV sting operation on the accused, were examined by the court.

 

Press Release- Understanding Communal Mobilisation –Lessons from the Zakia Jafri Protest Petition


Press Release

May 7, 2013

The filing of the Zakia Jafri Protest Petition before the Magistrate on 15 April 2013 is a significant landmark in the sustained battle for the Rule of Law, Constitutional Governance and against communal forces and their vicious mobilisation within organs of the state and through unholy alliances with non-state actors. The petition, filed after a sustained battle to get a fair and transparent investigation against a chief minister, cabinet colleagues, senior administrators, policemen and front men and women of the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal will now make a strong case for charge sheeting of 59 accused.

Apart from the individual accused involved in this case, against whom a strong case for criminal culpability and administrative connivance and failure has been made out, the wider issues raised are critical to understand. Communal mobilisation precedes violence. It’s transformation into brute attacks against targeted sections of the population remain fundamental threats to the lasting security of all Indians, communal harmony and the secularisation of the Indian polity.

We believe therefore the wider issues raised through the Zakia Jafri Protest Petition are debated widely to ensure a greater understanding of such mobilisation and to build a resistance to the same in future. Only then can we collectively demand a transparent and accountable system of governance from our representatives and the parties that they represent. The entire text of the Protest Petition can be accessed at

http://www.cjponline.org/zakia/protpetition/Protest%20Petition%20PART%20I.pdf

http://www.cjponline.org/zakia/protpetition/Protest%20Petition%20PART%20II.pdf

Important Issues Raised in the Petition

  • Aggressive Mobilisation of Communal Forces and Response of State Agencies & Government Monitoring and Check on Hate Speech, Hate Writing, Pamphleteering
  • State and Government Response to a Tragedy like Godhra on 27 February 2002
  • Contemporaneous Records that Reveal Government Callousness or Indifference
  • Transparency in Summoning assistance from the Military /Paramilitary forces
  • Comparative Analysis of Districts & Commission records worst affected (15) and those that held their own (SPs/DMs refused to bow down to political masters)
  • Role of Whistleblowers in Pinning down Accountability
  • Role of Survivors/Activists/ Legal and Civil Rights Groups
  • Role of the Political Class
  • Role of Media

Build Up of Violence prior to 27.2.2002

The state intelligence records available to the state government and administration reveal that there was a systematic build up of aggressive communal mobilisation, hate speech etc even prior to February 27, 2003.These details are available in textual and tabular form in the Protest Petition. These provide significant pointers to the workings and operations of the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) that is sending out warnings and the police administration, home ministry (headed by the chief minister) that is systematically ignoring them. This aspect needs to be understood by us to ensure that such warnings are heeded in future. Reference: Pages 193-202 of the Protest Petition & Paras 457 – 469 at Pages 204-209 of the Protest Petition.

Monitoring & Check on Hate Speech, Hate Writing and Pamphleteering

Responsible sections of the Gujarat administration, senior IPS officers who were on the field manning districts and controlling attempts to provoke violence there as also senior police officer like then ADGP (Intelligence) RB Sreekumar had strongly recommended action under Sections 153 a, 153 b of the PC against certain newspapers and publications that had consciously published provocative and incendiary material not based on facts. Action against pamphlets circulated by the VHP was also advised. However the government and its home department has, to date not taken any action that was recommended.

In fact the Amicus Curiae in the case Advocate Raju Ramachandran has himself recommended prosecution against the chief minister for violation of the law on hate speech. The Protest Petition deals at length on the deleterious impact of hate speech and hate writing and the inaction of the state government. The chief minister had in fact sent congratulatory letters to those Gujarati newspapers that had indulged in such incendiary writing and excluded from praise at least three publications (Prabhat and Gujarat Today) that had been responsible in reportage (Editor’s Guild Report).. Reference at Paras 126-153at Pages 72-85 of the Protest Petition & Para 234 at Page 116 of the Protest Petition

No Appeal for Calm, No Visit to Relief Camps, Discriminatory Behaviour

Quite apart from the infamous meeting on the night of February 27, 2002 about which facts have to be tested – through examination and cross-examination of witnesses during trial — the administration’s lackluster response to protection of lives and maintenance of peace following the Godhra tragedy is itself a testimony to a conspiracy in evidence.  There were no appeals for Restraint, Peace and Calm; No Preventive Arrests were made on February 27, 2002 despite the fact that violence had already broken out and the SIB was warning of widespread communal mobilisation; no issuing of Prohibitory Orders and declaration of Curfew except in Godhra town; worst, the government support to the bandh proved to be a cynical mechanism by which the streets were allowed to be taken over by rabid bands of the RSS-VHP and Bajrang Dal. The SIT has not thoroughly probed the deployment of army and paramilitary and not even examined independent witnesses like the Major in charge of Army Operations and KPS Gill sent in by the Centre.

Indicting Documentary Evidence Ignored

Evidence from Police Control Room (PCR) records submitted by then Commissioner of Police (2002), PC Pande to the SIT after 15.3.2011 reveal cynical and cold-blooded mobilization of RSS workers and VHP men at the Sola Civil hospital from 4 a.m. onwards on 28.2.2002 in aggressive anticipation for the arrival of the dead bodies. Repeated PCR messages, that the home department under Narendra Modi (A-1, who held the home portfolio) and PC Pande (A-21) were trying to conceal, show that both in Ahmedabad and in several locations all over Gujarat crowds were mobilized to aggressively parade bodies with bloodthirsty sloganeering, inciting mobs to attack innocent Muslims. The then joint police commissioner, Ahmedabad, Shivanand Jha, also an accused in the complaint (A-38), was jurisdictionally in charge of Sola Civil Hospital in Zone 1. As the messages extracted in the Protest Petition atPara 559 at Pages 244-247 of the Protest Petition show, repeated PCR messages desperately ask for bandobast; they speak of the staff and doctors of the hospital being under threat; of a 5,000-6,000 strong mob accompanying the bodies and finally one message also says that “riots have broken out.”

Yet the entire Home department under the chief minister and senior bureaucrats and policemen who had been neutralised including Chakravarti (A-25) and PC Pande (A-29) in collaboration with the SIT have strived hard to conceal this evidence. While such aggressive funeral processions were allowed in Ahmedabad, an equally explosive situation prevailed simultaneously in Khedbrahma, Vadodara, Modasa, Dahod, Anand etc. The PCR records, also reveal that while the Ahmedabad police under PC Pande and the home department under Modi and then MOS, home Gordhan Zadaphiya (A-5) had enough forces to escort a VHP leader known for his inciteful slogans, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, from the airport to the Sola Civil hospital to accompany the processionists, shouting filthy hate speeches and murderous slogans. But they did not have enough forces to send to Naroda Patiya where 96 persons were massacred in broad daylight, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. over several hours (according to the charge-sheet though actual figures may be higher). Similarly the daylight massacre of 69 persons at Gulberg society the same day was permitted by a callous administration (PC Pande did not step out of his office barely 1-2 kms away from Naroda and Gulberg; besides he was in close touch with the chief minister’s office (CMO) between 12 noon and 3.40 p.m. that coincided with the height of the violence. Modi allowing and openly supporting the bandh and neutralising his administration, decided to give the RSS, VHP, BD mobs a free run of the Gujarat streets to massacre innocents.

Warnings Ignored (from SIB and PCR messages)

From as early as 12:30 pm on the 27th February: An SIB officer through fax no 525 communicated to the headquarters that there were reports that some dead bodies would be brought to Kalupur Hospital station in Ahmedabad city. “So communal violence will occur in the city of Ahmedabad; so take preventive action.” Another SIB message numbered as Out/184/02 again warned about communal incidents if bodies were brought to Ahmedabad. “Communal violence will occur in the city. So take preventive action.”  The same message said that karsevaks had given explosive interviews to a TV station at Godhra and had threatened to unleash violence against the Muslims.

At 1:51 hours and again at 1:59 hours (early morning ) on the February 28, 2002, there were panic messages by wireless police vans positioned at Sola Hospital demanding immediate protection from Special Reserve Police platoons and the presence of DCP Zone 1.Message at 2:44 hours on 28.2.2002: the motor cavalcade has reached Sola Civil Hospital. Page No. 5790 of Annexure IV, File XIV reveals that at 04:00 am a mob comprising of 3,000 swayamsevaks, that is the members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had already gathered at the Civil Sola Hospital. At 7.14 a.m. the PCR van again informs the Police Control Room that a large mob had assembled at the hospital. (Page 5796 of Annexure IV, File XIV of the documents). Again, another message three minutes later at 7:17 a.m. (Page 5797 of Annexure IV, File XIV of the documents) says that a mob of 500 people was holding up the traffic. Ten bodies were taken to Ramol, an area near Naroda and a massive funeral rally of over 5,000-6,000 mourners took the bodies to Hatkeshwar crematorium in the afternoon. At 11:55 am a PCR message is sent out saying that the Hindu mob had become violent and had set a vehicle on fire and was indulging in arson on the highway. Message at 11.55 a.m. on 28.2.2002 (Page No. 6162 Annexure IV File XV) saying that “Sayyed Saheb, the Protocol Officer had informed Sola-1 that riots have started at Sola civil hospital at the High Court where the dead bodies were brought.”Again, there is another message with no indication of time (Page No..6172 of 28.2.2002) that states that the officers and employees of the hospital had been surrounded by a 500 strong mob and they could not come out”. The message also made a demand for more security for the civil hospital at Sola. Annexure IV File XIV- Message No. 5907 and 5925 at 11:58 a.m. on 28.2.2002 shows that when 10 dead bodies were taken from Ramol Jantanagar to the Hatkeshwar cremation ground, a crowd of 5,000-6,000 persons accompanied this procession. On the morning of 28.2.2002, a SIB message (on page 258 of Annexure III File XIX, message No. Com/538/28/2/02) says that a funeral procession was allowed to take place at Khedbrahma, a town in Sabarkantha district. The message adds that soon after the funeral procession 2 Muslims on their way to Khedbrahma were stabbed and the situation had become very tense.

Firebrigade Neutralised

Throughout February 28, 2002 while fires were set all over Ahmedabad city, PCR records show that repeated calls from different areas to the Fire Brigade drew went answered. PCR records show that repeated distress calls to the Fire Brigade from different parts of Ahmedabad went unanswered. Reference – Para 827 at Pages 369-372 of the Protest Petition. This is further evidence of the deliberate neutralisation of the administration.

Comparative Violence

The Protest Petition also makes a systematic study of those districts where violence did not break out largely because of the men and women at the helm who refused to abet the wider conspiracy. For an effective understanding of whether the widespread and brutal and systemic violence in 14 of Gujarat’s 29 districts and commissionerates was on account of a pre-planned and systematic neutralistion of the preventive and protective Constitutional mechanisms, the SIT ought to have undertaken just such an exercise. Instead it willfully concealed from the Supreme Court of India the wealth of documentary evidence collected through the SIB (January 2010) and the PCR records of Ahmedabad city (post March 15 2011). Similar PCR data of other parts of Gujarat was deliberately not collected by the SIT.

The role of whistleblower policemen and administrators through the investigations and the past eleven and a half years has been significant. The affidavits and phone call CDs submitted by then SP Bhavnagar and DCP Crime Rahul Sharma have been critical. Today he is being consistently targeted with one chrage sheet and six notices being served on him. Former DGP RB Sreekumar who’s first four affidavits before the Nanavati- Shah Commission provided a thorough documentation of the functionings of the government at the time was also similarly victimised. Lastly Sanjiv Bhatt has also been targeted. Interestingly the evidence of all three whistleblowers has been given little credence by the SIT except when they in small measure support one or the other of SIT’s claims.

The Citizens for Justice and Peace has assisted complainant Zakia Ahsan Jafri in this legal battle. Both Mrs Jafri and her family and the CJP, especially its secretary and band of lawyers continue to carry on this legal battle at great personal risk. On May 1, 2013 the Magistrate that had heard the SIT arguments for six days since April 24, 2013, was transferred. By May 15, 2013, when the next Magistrate takes over, the day to day hearings in this matter are likely to resume.

We hope that this case that has a great significance for the control and containment of state sponsored communal violence is allowed to continue without interruption and delay.

Ram Rahman                                                   Teesta Setalvad

 

Wireless messages dent SIT claim on Narendra Modi


New Delhi, April 18, 2013

Vidya Subrahmaniam, The Hindu

 Extracts show violence before and during funeral processions of kar sevaks

In its closure report submitted to the trial court, the Special Investigation Team that probed Zakia Jafri’s complaint against Narendra Modi and 58 others said there was no evidence to prove that the Chief Minister had sent the bodies of the 2002 Godhra victims to Ahmedabad with a view to parading them before the public.

The SIT quoted Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pande to back its claim that there was no parading of the bodies.

Not just this. Anyone reading the report would conclude that peace had prevailed through the time the bodies were transported from Godhra to the Sola Civil Hospital on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, and later too, when the bodies were handed over to the next of kin. There is no mention in the closure report of the charged atmosphere in the hospital prior to the arrival of the bodies in the early hours of February 28, 2002. Nor does the report indicate anywhere that huge, violent crowds accompanied the funeral processions of the victims; indeed that the processions became the trigger for the anti-Muslim violence that rocked the city and State in the Godhra aftermath.

The real story emerges in a series of desperate wireless messages sent out by police and intelligence field staff positioned at the Sola Civil Hospital and other locations on February 27 and 28, 2002. The wireless extracts, annexed to a protest petition filed against the SIT’s closure report by Ms. Jafri in a local court, show the following. One, there was a lot of anxiety over the Modi administration’s decision to send the bodies to Ahmedabad. Two, there were repeated pleas for bandobast at the hospital where crowds had gathered in anticipation of the arrival of the bodies. Three, there were attacks on Muslims by crowds accompanying the funeral processions which set the stage for the large-scale violence that followed.

At 12.30 p.m. on February 27, that is just hours after the Godhra train carnage, a State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) officer sent a fax communication to his headquarters saying there were reports that bodies of the kar sevaks were going to be sent to Ahmedabad. He alerted: “So communal violence will occur in the city of Ahmedabad; so take preventive action.”

The warning was repeated in another message which added that kar sevaks were threatening retaliatory violence in explosive interviews given to a TV station in Godhra. In the early hours of February 28, there were two messages (1.51 a.m. and 1.59 a.m.) from a police van stationed at the Sola Civil Hospital, urging “immediate protection from Special Reserve Police platoons and the presence of DCP Zone 1.”

At 2.44 a.m., a message said the motorcade carrying the bodies had reached the hospital. Another message at 4 a.m. said a mob comprising 3,000 swayamsevaks (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh volunteers) had gathered at the hospital. At 7.14 a.m., the police van again relayed the message that a large mob had assembled at the hospital. Three minutes later, a message said a mob of 500 was holding up the traffic.

At 11.55 a.m., there was a message saying “the hindu mob” had become violent and had set a vehicle on fire and was “indulging in arson on the highway.” Another message at the same time said, “Sayyed Saheb, the Protocol Officer” had informed that riots had started in the hospital. A further message said mobs had surrounded the hospital staff.

There were specific messages from the field about crowds of 5,000-6,000 taking the bodies out in funeral processions. A message at 11. 58 a.m. said: “Amrajwadi-1 informed that 10 dead bodies have been taken for cremation ceremony from Ramol Janatanagar to Hatkeshwar Cremation Centre with crowd of 5 to 6 thousand.” Another message said: “Funeral procession allowed at Khedbrahma town in Sabarkantha district. Situation tense, 2 Muslims stabbed at Khedbrahma.”

There was also a message about 150 Bajrang Dal members from Ayodhya reaching Khedbrahma.

The SIT’s closure report acknowledged that the bodies of kar sevaks had been handed over to the VHP’s Jaydeep Patel but it placed the blame for the decision on M.L. Nalvaya, the local executive magistrate, and said he had issued a letter to Mr. Patel where he mentioned that 54 bodies were being sent with him on five trucks.

The SIT said the five trucks carrying the bodies reached the Sola Civil Hospital between 3.30 a.m. and 4 a.m. on February 28, and that Mr. Patel handed over the letter from the executive magistrate to the Deputy Collector who was waiting at the hospital with the Collector and other officials.

The SIT blandly recorded that “the relatives of the persons who had died at the Godhra carnage were also present in the hospital. Accordingly, 35 persons were identified and their bodies handed over to their relatives …”

The SIT denied that there had been any parading of bodies, and quoted Mr. Pande to back its claim: “Shri P.C. Pande, the then CP, Ahmedabad city has stated that there had been no parading of dead bodies inasmuch as the trucks carrying the dead bodies under police escort reached Ahmedabad city between 0330 hrs to 0400 hrs on 28.02.2002 which means they had started from Godhra at least three hrs earlier and as such there was no one to see them on the highway at dead of night. Shri Pande has also stated that in Ahmedabad city, the dead bodies were kept in Sola Civil Hospital situated on the outskirts of the city and that most of the dead bodies were handed over to their relations after proper documentation by 28.02.2008 morning.”

As for the funeral processions, the SIT said: “… the dead bodies were moved in vehicles and not by foot as the same would have escalated the tension … R.J. Savani (Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone V) succeeded in persuading the relatives and well-wishers of the deceased to take each body in a vehicle and the funeral procession was guarded by the police up to Hatkeshwar cremation ground … The funeral was over by 1400hrs and the crowd which had gathered on the highway dispersed thereafter.”

No mention of the unrest in the hospital. No mention of arson by protestors. And no mention of the huge crowds that accompanied the funeral processions.

 

#India – Crossing the Lakshman rekha- moral policing #Vaw


 

 

VIKHAR AHMED SAYEED – Recently in Mangalore, Outlook

 

 

The attack on a homestay in Mangalore clearly shows that Hindutva ideologues define the moral and cultural boundaries in coastal Karnataka.

 

 

 

BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT 

Naveen Soorinje, the journalist who was arrested in connection with the attack on a homestay, being taken to a court in Mangalore in November 2012. 

The visiting hours at the Mangalore Sub-Jail are between 11-30 a.m, and 1 p.m. Visitors of undertrials gather around the imposing jail gate ahead of time as a guard usually checks the contents of their stainless steel lunch boxes before they are allowed inside. Soon, the motley group of relatives, friends and the odd journalist is led to either of the two wards where undertrials are lodged. A double-grilled window separates the visitor from the undertrial. Within minutes of reaching the enclosure, there is a cacophony of voices as the visitors jostle to find a convenient spot.

As this reporter heads for the window, a dishevelled Naveen Soorinje saunters in on the other side of it. The 28-year-old journalist has lost some weight since his arrest but he is upbeat. As is evident from his name, Soorinje is not a Muslim, but is lodged in the Muslim ward. “If I were in the Hindu ward, I would have been killed. There are many people there whom I’ve exposed through my work,” he says with a smile.

Soorinje, a journalist with Kasturi News, a 24-hour Kannada news channel, was arrested on November 7, 2012 when he was named in a charge sheet filed by the Mangalore police following the incidents that took place at Morning Mist Homestay. On July 28, 2012, a mob of 25 to 30 activists of the Hindu Jagran Vedike (HJV) led by 34-year-old Subhash Padil barged into the homestay and beat up a group of young men and women gathered there for a birthday party.

Videos of the attack, which are available online, show that the girls are manhandled, their dresses are ripped and they are slapped hard by HJV activists. A young man is stripped of his shirt and dragged by his hair across the room and pounded by a group of attackers.

The videos, which were played on loop on local and national news channels for a couple of days, drew nationwide condemnation. The ugly scene the Hindu right-wing elements created was recorded by some local journalists.

There were two other journalists at the venue apart from Soorinje, Rajesh Srinivas of TV 9, a well-known Kannada news channel, and Sharan Raj of Sahaya TV, a local news channel reportedly close to the Hindu right-wing. According to Soorinje’s testimony, he received a tip-off about the raid and tried to contact the police as soon as he realised that an attack was under way. However, his presence had irked the police who, Soorinje said, wanted to teach him a lesson.

Subsequently, charges were filed against the attackers as well as Soorinje and Sharan Raj (it remains a mystery why charges were not filed against Srinivas). Raj is in the Hindu ward of the jail. Strangely, the attackers and the journalists were charged under the same sections of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) pertaining to rioting, criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly and outraging the modesty of a woman.

Subhash Padil is known to play the moral vigilante of the Hindutva forces in Mangalore city. He was one of the members of the group that attacked women in Amnesia Pub on January 24, 2009. He has had stints in the Bajrang Dal and the Sri Rama Sene.

“I have no remorse for what I did. Yes, I led the group that attacked the girls at the homestay but do you know what they were up to? They were drinking beer and you know what that leads to…,” Padil shouted from across the grilled window of the jail. He added: “How does a girl celebrate a birthday party? Do you go to a remote location with boys and drink beer? We don’t have any problem if you sit with your family and have a quiet dinner but going to parties and drinking and smoking…. Is that any way to celebrate a birthday? It is because of our actions that the girls at the homestay were saved from getting dishonoured. We have ensured that such immoral activities have come down in Mangalore.”

The attacks on Amnesia Pub and the home stay are just two of the many incidents that have taken place in the coastal Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka in the past few years.

It is clear from the fiery rhetoric of people like Padil that the moral and cultural boundaries in the area are defined by Hindutva ideologues and anyone who breaches that boundary is a target of their foot soldiers. Women especially should be very careful about stepping out of the confines of the cultural Hindu rashtra, and if a woman is “spoilt”, then the family is dishonoured. Getting “corrupted” by “modernity” and by befriending Muslim men (love jehad) is the easiest way in which Hindu women in Dakshina Kannada can overstep the Lakshman rekha drawn by the Sangh Parivar.


The police escort youth who were attacked by pro-Hindutva activists at a party at Padil on the outskirts of Mangalore in July 2012. 

Sample some of the incidents that have occurred in the recent past as reported in the local media:

On January 30, a fracas broke out between a mixed-sex group of young people who were smoking at Rock Cafe in Mangalore and members of the Bajrang Dal and the Durga Vahini. The police, who arrived with the Hindutva brigade, took the youngsters to the police station and summoned their parents. On December 19, 2012, a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl were assaulted by activists at the Shibaroor temple festival near Mangalore. On December 15, a four-member gang assaulted a Muslim boy who was speaking to a Hindu girl in Bajpe in Mangalore. On November 7, a couple of youngsters in Kundapur in Udupi district was targeted. It later turned out that they were siblings. On November 2, activists of a Hindutva group brought a young woman to the Puttur police station alleging that she was engaged in immoral activities with a boy from a different community.

In a report brought out by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Karnataka (PUCL-K) and the Forum Against Atrocities on Women, Mangalore (FAAWM) after the homestay attack, 300 major and minor moral policing events between 1998 and July 2012 in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts have been recorded.

Suresh Bhat Bakrabail of the Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum, who has catalogued every reported event of moral policing, said: “The situation for young people in Mangalore is extremely scary as the youth are not able to mix freely.”

Postgraduate students at the Mass Communication and Media Studies Centre of St. Aloysius College expressed their views in a discussion with this journalist. “We are careful not to go out of the campus with friends of the opposite sex. We usually meet in groups and ensure that we do not stay out late,” said a first-year male student who did not want to be named. A girl student added: “We are apprehensive and make sure that we do not attract attention when we go out.” All the students had minor incidents to report about how people they knew were warned about public behaviour by self-appointed moral guardians.

Distinct Culture

Separated from the hinterland by the Western Ghats, the coastal belt of Karnataka has developed its own distinct culture. Dakshina Kannada district was part of the Madras Presidency during the colonial years.

The two dominant castes of Karnataka, the Lingayats and the Vokkaligas, have a minuscule presence in the region. The Muslims living in the coastal district, known as Bearys, are distinct from their counterparts elsewhere in the State. There is a historic Catholic Christian presence along the coast. The numerically strong Hindu castes of the region include the Billavas, the Moggaveeras and the Bunts, while Brahmins also have a significant presence.

The dominant languages of the region are Tulu and Konkani although Kannada is spoken and understood widely. Interestingly, Dakshina Kannada has the highest literacy rate in Karnataka, marginally ahead of Bangalore.

 

When migration to countries around the Persian Gulf began in the late 1960s, the Bearys took advantage of the economic opportunities that unfolded, and the funds they repatriated caused a fundamental change in the caste-based economy of the region. Non-Muslim migrants to other parts of India also caused the coastal belt to be flush with funds. Mangalore’s communal polarisation started with the riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Recognising the presence of important religious institutions and the changes in the economy, the Sangh Parivar constituents began to systematically work in the region from the 1980s, making it a Hindutva laboratory. Their efforts paid off when coastal Karnataka emerged as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral bastion in the 1990s.

Muslims, who constitute 22 per cent of the population in Dakshina Kannada, have also been influenced by the identity politics of Muslim groups from northern Kerala in the past decade, and there are reported incidents of Muslims doing counter moral policing. The area has emerged as a communal tinderbox with slow self-segregation among the communities as well. Distinct Hindu, Muslim and Christian residential areas are emerging.

The district was once known as the most progressive part of Karnataka, but Hindutva forces have overrun it now. Jagadish Shenava, an advocate and the district working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), articulates this aggression when he says: “We are very strong here and the situation has gone beyond normal. No Muslim boys and Hindu girls in the area can meet without causing a communal riot. Our next target is Manipal as it is the hub of illegal activities like pubbing.”

It is in this background that the role of the media needs to be examined. There are only a handful of Kannada newspapers such as Karavali Ale (Coastal Wave) and Vaartha Bharathi that are waging a relentless battle against the excesses of the Sangh Parivar. Employees of Karavali Ale were targeted recently after the newspaper published an article that linked a senior leader of the HJV with drug supply in the region.

The journalist community in the region, for the most part, has either been silent on or collaborated with the gradual communalisation of the region. Soorinje’s work has had an impact in the media. About his reportage of the homestay incident, he says: “The July 28 incident in Mangalore is not a stray incident. Such events occur here every week. If I had not shot the visuals, the police would not have accepted the fact that the assault had happened. This has been the case in many such incidents in the past.”

The journalist community in Bangalore rallied around Soorinje. Some journalists even went on a three-day hunger strike in January demanding his release. This forced the State Cabinet to withdraw all charges against Soorinje on January 31 but he continues to remain in jail. On February 6, a public interest petition was filed against the withdrawal of the cases against Soorinje, prolonging his incarceration.

#Mumbai-Senior journalist and witness in #Gujarat riots related case threatened


 

By Newzfirst Correspondent2/8/13

 

Mumbai – A senior journalist and a witness in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat massacre Friday accused an editor of a prominent daily of starting a “vicious vilification campaign” against him by publishing concocted news relating to the case and threatening him with more dire consequences.

Ashish Khetan – a witness in the Naroda Gaam case – sent a mail to RK Raghavan, head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 Gujarat carnage, accusing Avinash Jain – the resident editor of Dainik Bhaskar newspaper – of carrying out a “vicious vilification campaign” by publishing factually incorrect articles and also threatening him with more dire consequences.

Khetan said, “The Ahmedabad edition of Dainik Bhaskar newspaper dated February 5 published a factually incorrect and depraved account of my ongoing deposition in the Naroda Gram massacre case. On the same day the Delhi edition of the same group published a story claiming that I have retracted my testimony.”

These two articles triggered a vicious vilification campaign against my evidence on social media. Clearly it’s an attempt to not only demoralize me but also vitiate the public opinion against the credibility of my ongoing evidence, he further said.

On sending a mail to Ahmedabad edition’s resident editor demanding an apology and clarification instead of correcting the mistake, the editor  Avinash  Jain called me from his cell phone and threatened that more editions of Dainik Bhaskar Group could also now start reporting that I’d retracted my statement, Khetan alleged.

In the letter, Khetan also accused defense lawyers particularly Chetan Shah of being abusive and insulting while cross-examining him.

“Through out my deposition he kept taunting and humiliating me. Also many of his questions were aimed at insulting and annoying me. But this was not all. On more than one occasion he also tried to intimidate and threaten the presiding judge. He on multiple occasions screamed at her at the top of his voice and humiliated her in front of the packed court room.” he said.

Khetan is examined in connection with the sting operation he had conducted in 2007 while working with Tehelka magazine, wherein  Babu Bajrang, a leader of Bajarang Dal and a couple of other accused persons made extra-judicial confessions.

Eleven persons were killed in the Naroda Gam massacre on 28 February 2002. 84 accused are undergoing trial in the case.

 

Why the Govt’s Ordinance is an Eyewash and a Mockery of the Justice Verma Recommendations


Bekhauf Azaadi Campaign

The UPA Govt, in a Cabinet meeting held on 1 February, has introduced an ordinance that it claims will address the most urgent concerns on sexual violence. In fact, the Government has been completely reluctant to acknowledge and implement the Justice Verma Committee recommendations: the PM refused to accept it from Justuce Verma, the Ministry of Home Affairs removed it from their website, the Govt never adopted any transparent process of discussion to decide the way forward on implementing the recommendations, rather they said Justice Verma ‘exceeded his brief’. Now, they claim that their ordinance has ‘implemented’ the Justice Verma recommendations. Is this true?

The fact is that the Government’s ordinance is a mockery of the letter and spirit of the Justice Verma recommendations.

Why? Let us take a closer look.

The Justice Verma report radically redefined the way in which sexual violence is understood, because it firmly called for safeguarding women’s autonomy – including her sexual autonomy. This means that sexual violence should be understood as any sexual contact that is forced on a woman unless she has explicitly said or indicated ‘Yes’ to it. It is irrelevant whether she is married or not, or whether the perpetrator is a policeman, judge, magistrate, public servant, politician, or army officer: the accused/perpetrator cannot enjoy impunity in any case! The ordinance completely mocks this basic principle.

 

The ordinance is nothing but the Govt’s old discredited Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012 with some extra window dressing. What’s WRONG with this ordinance?

 

  • Rejecting Justice Verma’s recommendations to ensure gender-specificity (male) of the perpetrator of rape and gender-neutrality for victims, the ordinance makes rape a ‘gender-neutral’ crime. This means that a man can accuse a woman of rape!!
  • The ordinance criminalises consensual sexual activity between 16-18 years; such sexual activity, even by consent, will automatically be seen as rape. This will give a handle to the moral-policing brigades and communities who harass inter-caste and inter-religious friendships and relationships, by branding young boys as ‘rapists.’ See what is happening in Mangalore now: Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini brigades have been entering ice-cream parlours, rounding up teenage couples and handing them over to the police; the Chhattisgarh police in Bhilai is doing the same. Such forces will get a handle to use the rape law against boyfriends.
  • The ordinance refuses to include marital rape in the rape law – and it continues to give a lesser punishment for rape of a separated wife by a husband. The Govt’s press release about the ordinance shamelessly says that “Verma criminalises marital non-consensual sexual intercourse” but the Govt will not do so! So, according to the Govt, not every ‘non-consensual’ sexual act is rape; a husband is allowed to force sex on his wife! Even if the wife is separated from her husband, the law will be ‘understanding’ and ‘lenient’ towards him if he rapes her, since she was ‘once his wife’! This means that the ordinance continues to see the wife as the husband’s sexual property, rather than as a person is her own right, with the same right to say YES and NO to sex as any unmarried woman! We know domestic violence is common in marriage: can’t the husband who batters his wife, also rape his wife?! Our govt is saying he will have the right to rape his wife!
  • The ordinance rejects Justice Verma’s recommendation of the principle of ‘command responsibility’ in case of custodial rape by police or army: i.e the principle that a superior officer will be held responsible if a junior officer commits rape or sexual assault. This principle is crucial if one considers the manifold cases of custodial rape like that of Soni Sori – where a senior officer Ankit Garg ordered his juniors to sexually torture her; or a case like Kunan Poshpora, where an entire village of women in Kashmir was gang-raped by the Army – something that could not have taken place without the awareness and blessings, even orders, of higher officers!
  • The ordinance fails to include sexual violence in the context of caste/communal massacres in the category of ‘aggravated sexual assault’ – as recommended by Justice Verma report (p 220).
  •  The ordinance rejects the Justice Verma’s recommendation that no sanction be required to prosecute judges/magistrates/public servants who are accused of sexual violence; and similarly that the AFSPA be amended to do away with the requirement for sanction to prosecute an army officer accused of sexual violence. Justice Verma’s argument was clear: no army officer nor any judge or public servant can claim to have raped in the course of his duty! The ordinance, by rejecting Justice Verma’s recommendations, ensures impunity for powerful rapists.Similarly the ordinance makes no move to implement the electoral reforms called for by Justice Verma, specifically against candidates and elected representatives accused of serious sexual offences.
  • The ordinance introduces death penalty in the rarest of the rare cases of rape. This is a deliberate red herring. For one thing, death sentence is already a possibility in cases where rape is compounded with murder. By introducing it in the rape law, even Congress leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, speaking on NDTV, expressed the ‘personal opinion’ that this would further lower the conviction rate because it would deter the court from sentencing! Currently, let us remember that the Courts are reluctant even to give the minimum 7 year sentence for rape, and keep finding excuses to reduce it to as low as 3! Will the same Courts not become even more reluctant to convict, if conviction will mean death? 
  • The Justice Verma report recommended imprisonment for 5 years for a policeman who failed to follow the law (i.e registering FIRs or proper investigation); the ordinance admits for a jail term of just one year for this offence.
  • The ordinance completely ignores the recommendations of changes in medico-legal protocol, including prohibition of the two-finger test and ensuring rape crisis centres and proper medical care and examination of rape survivors; as well as police reform, public transport and other measures. 

 

The ordnance makes of mockery of all those recommendations of the Justice Verma committee that actually reflected the idea of protecting women’s autonomy: be it a 16-year old girl who has sexual contact with her boyfriend to a married woman who says no to her husband, the ordnance just fails to accept a woman’s own autonomy and consent as crucial to deciding if rape occurred or not! The ordnance continues to make excuses for certain powerful perpetrators of rape: it continues to ensure that certain institutions of power (marriage/police/army/judges/magistrates/public servants/politicians) remain protected from prosecution for rape.

We refuse to accept this eyewash! We demand full implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Report!

We can defeat the Govt’s ploy to dilute and subvert the JVC recommendations only by being on the streets and continuing to fight! 

Bekhauf Azaadi has called for a protest against the ordinance and demanding implementation of JVC on 4 Feb at 2 pm at Jantar Mantar. Please do join. There will be several other protest and campaign actions in the days to come, please do join each of them, and make sure the Govt does not get away with betraying our movement and the JVC Report.

 

Press Release-Footsteps of Fascism: Hindutva Goons attack Dalit College Teacher in Dhule


Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association

 

 

Following swiftly on the heels of communal violence in Dhule in which six members of the minority community were killed, comes the news of physical assault on Prof. Pramod Bhumbe, a Dalit teacher at the BR Ambedkar Samaj Karya Mahavidyalay. Friends in Dhule and Jalgaon inform us that Prof. Bhumbe while teaching his students about Indian social reforms movement, discussed certain episodes from the Hindu epic Ramayana. This was videographed by a student on his cell phone and the video clip later circulated and handed over to VHP and Bajrang Dal goons.  The clip was quickly construed as proof of Prof. Bhumbe’s insult to Hinduism.

 

Teaching social reform movements without reference to the stinging critique of caste oppression and its implication in religious sanction is difficult anywhere. In Maharashtra, however, it is impossible. The legacy of Jyotiba and Savitri Phule, and Ambedkar is a living, thriving one. It survives in the fiery songs of Sambhaji Bhagat; in the hundreds of book festivals and cultural groups that can be found in the smallest towns and hamlets of the state. It is this culture of resistance, which often takes the form of sarcasm, and even ridicule of the superstitions of caste religion and its assorted institutions that Hindutva resents so much.

 

While Muslims are always cast as the other, radical Dalit critique cannot be domesticated and absorbed into the Hindutva identity.  The two incidents—of communal violence and the attack on Prof. Bhumbe – are not unrelated. They reflect the growing confidence of the Hindutva forces and the state support they enjoy, even under the rule of their political opponents. Neither the SP not the DM of Dhule have been suspended by the state government despite the clear indictment of the administration in the January anti-minority violence by civil society investigations. Can an administration, which was hand in glove with the storm troopers of VHP and Bajrang Dal in January, be expected to seriously pursue the case against Prof. Bhumbe’s attackers?  We appeal to all progressive and democratic groups in Maharashtra to ensure the security and safety of Prof Bhumbe, as the police which led the mobs against a vulnerable minority can hardly be entrusted to do so.

 

Moreover, as fellow teachers, we expect the classroom to be a space of developing and nurturing social critique—precisely what Prof. Bhumbe was doing. We stand in solidarity with him and condemn the right wing vigilantism.

 

Sd/-

Manisha Sethi, Adil Mehdi, Ahmed Sohaib, Tanweer Fazal, Arshad Alam, Farah Farooqi, Azra Razack, Anwar Alam, Ghazi Shahnawaz, Ambarien al Qadar, Adnan Farooqi, Sucharita Sengupta, Manoj Jena, MS Bhatt and Nabanipa Bhattacharya.

 

 

 

Mangalore vigilantes at it again, #Bajrang Dal #durga vahini #moralpolicing


Mangalore Bureau, The Hindu

ONE MORE INCIDENT: The open terrace at Roxx from where the seven-member group was bundled off to the police station. Photo: R.Eswarraj
ONE MORE INCIDENT: The open terrace at Roxx from where the seven-member group was bundled off to the police station. Photo: R.Eswarraj

Students at lounge harassed by Bajrang Dal activists

Vigilantism raised its ugly head again in Mangalore when members of the Bajrang Dal and its women’s wing, Durga Vahini — accompanied by the police — traumatised a group of seven young people meeting at an ice-cream lounge here Wednesday evening.

The group, all undergraduate students, were hauled off to the Pandeshwar police station after the vigilantes accused them of ‘immoral’ activities. At the station, they were made to wait for 45 minutes before being sent away without being charged.

Open terrace

According to the manager of Roxx, on Attavar Main Road, some 10 Bajrang Dal activists, with two policemen in tow, marched up to the smoking area on the open terrace leading from second floor where the four girls and three boys were, around 5.30 p.m., and asked them to come to the police station for their “immoral” and “uncultured” behaviour. When the young group protested, one of the intruders used foul language against a girl, the manager said, adding that the group were regulars there.

At the police station, the vigilantes, who said they were from the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini, told reporters there were complaints from neighbours that young people smoked cannabis at the lounge.

No case booked

Commissioner of Police Manish Karbikar said the police went to the spot to defuse the situation. “As smoking on the terrace was not an offence, the police have not booked any case,” he said

To this, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Ivan D’Souza, who visited the police station, countered: “If no case was booked, why bring the students to the police station?”

A constable who accompanied the vigilantes said a Bajrang Dal activist had called the police station about “immoral activities on the terrace”. He said that of the seven young people, three were found smoking while the rest were having soft drinks.

‘A family joint’

B.M. Ashraf, managing director of Roxx, who spoke to the The Hindu on the phone from New Delhi, described the lounge as “an ice-cream parlour, a family joint, a clean place… there is no liquor, nothing of that sort.” He said he was surprised and saddened by the incident. “We don’t know why they had to do that.”

He said he would not take any action or follow up with the police and he didn’t “want to make it an issue”.

 

Mangalore: Bajrang Dal raids ice cream parlour, hands over youngsters to police #WTFnews #moralploicing #Vaw


Jan 30, 67 pm
Mangalore: Bajrang Dal raids ice cream parlour, hands over youngsters to police

Pics: Brijesh Garodi
Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore (BG)

Mangalore, Jan 30: Activists of Bajrang Dal on Wednesday January 30 barged into an ice cream parlour at Attavar here, and handed over three boys and four girls to the police.

The activists alleged that ‘immoral activities’ had been going on at the parlour, and claimed that they had acted on a ‘public complaint’ in this regard.

It is said that the youngsters were in the music lounge on the top floor of the parlour. Some people noticed them from the outside and complained to Bajrang Dal.

The Bajrang Dal activists called Pandeshwar police who arrived at the spot. The boys and girls were taken to Pandeshwar police station for questioning.

More details awaited.

 

FAQs-Who needs moral policing, how much and why? #mustread #Vaw #1billionrising #Valentinesday


, by Anjali MonteiroK P Jayasankar

Love in the time of moral policing

The moral police are everywhere. Crawling out of the woodwork into our public spaces. In our legislative assemblies, in our board rooms, in court rooms, on the streets, in colleges, in cinemas and cyber cafes, gardens and pubs, even in police stations. Alas, and perhaps in our heads too. The rabid Sri Ram Sena or the Shiv Sena or the Bajrang Dal foot soldiers who demonstrate their love for ‘Indian culture’ by molesting girls wearing jeans and vandalising Valentine’s Day celebrations are unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg. They are supported openly and tacitly, by many ‘honourable’ others, ranging from chief ministers and health ministers to members of the National Commission for Women.

So many people in our country are in a state of moral panic over ‘western’ culture, pub culture, cyber culture and the many other ‘degenerate’ cultures that are polluting the sacred body of our Mother India and her pristine, fragile ‘Indian culture’, all of which call for more and more policing. Here are some Frequently Unasked Questions (FUQs, no pun intended) about moral policing in India.

Question 1: Who needs policing?

The list is long, maybe endless. At the top are impressionable young women and girls, who need to be protected from the corrupting effects of the afore-mentioned ‘evil’ cultures. Women are progenitors and homemakers — their sexuality needs to be strictly monitored, controlled and harnessed. If they have lost moral values, how can they become part of the eugenic project for a healthy and a morally sound generation next? What would happen to the sacred institution of the family if women got out of hand? Remember the Shiv Sena violence against a film like Deepa Mehta’s Fire? Love between two women leaves out the boys as arbitrators of women’s sexuality. Boys after all will be boys, they will settle down after marriage; but girls must be neither seen nor heard. Their ability to withstand the effects of ‘debauchery’ is far inferior to the male of the species. They cannot even handle cigarettes and alcohol. In other words, the moral police have to zealously shield all ‘less powerful others’ who are morally weak and can easily be perversely affected by stimuli of every kind: films, websites, beer, jeans, western music, birds and bees, in fact the list of provocative objects is infinite and ever growing.

This invention of a less powerful other is rampant and not confined just to the moral police, but informs the way in which ‘media impact’ is commonly framed. Our chattering classes are constantly exercised about the impact of the media on children, women, illiterates, poor people, villagers, slum dwellers — all subsumed under the category of the gullible and easily swayed ‘masses’ who have to be protected. This calls for a morally superior, intellectually more discerning ‘filter’ (in other words, people like ‘us’) who will decide what is fit for their impressionable eyes and ears. The censorship of the state is regarded as essential to uphold moral and aesthetic standards which popular cinema and television are prone to constantly violate.

This censorious mentality is widespread in our society and is perhaps uncomfortably close to the fine art of street censorship practiced by the Thackerays and Muthaliks.

Question 2: What needs policing?

Everything, but particularly all sites and signs of ‘modern’ ‘western’ culture, from greeting cards to cell phones, from pubs to cyber cafes: moral panic always hovers over frontier technologies. Our parents thought that films, or even radio, corrupted us. We worry about our children on the Internet; television has already become passé.

When printing was invented, our forefathers would have worried about its corrupting effects on young impressionable minds. In fact, in the medieval scriptoriums in European monasteries, access to certain texts was denied to younger writers. Today, sadly, no one grieves over the corrupting influence of books.

We forget that each generation has its own relationship with the cultural products of its own times. Personally, we have always thought of television as a ‘movie in a box’. When we took our daughter to her first movie, she asked us incredulously, when the first image appeared — “Is that a huge TV on the wall?” As someone who was born into a TV era, the relationship she has with the medium is qualitatively different from ours. Our collective inability to understand new technologies and our suspicion of what young people might be up to behind our backs makes us struggle to assert control — an essentially futile endeavour. Moral panic breeds behind the doors of the unknown.

Question 3: Why do we need policing?

The answer is simple: because ‘Indian Culture’ is fragile, because many Indians have delicate sentiments that are very easily hurt. And when these sentiments are hurt, maybe a few hundred people get massacred or raped, or maybe a shrine is pulled down or several thousand bar girls lose their jobs.

The state is assiduous in protecting the hurt sentiments of these sentinels of virtue. It usually turns a blind eye and sometimes even defends these actions — after all, how long can one hold back hurt sentiments? Our moral police know that they can strike with impunity; the chances are that the victims will get blamed for ‘provoking’ them.

Question 4: What is ‘Indian culture’?

The moral police are blissfully unaware of the contested nature of both the terms. Many years ago, a second generation ‘Indian’ child in London hesitantly admitted to us that she did not speak any ‘Indian’. Indian culture is as elusive as Indian food. In fact, one strong marker of it is the chilly. How many among the moral police, who lament about the fragility of ‘Indian culture’ know that the chilly first came to India with the Portuguese from South America not so long ago?

There are grids of exclusion at work, relations of power that begin to define the boundaries of Indian culture. A painting by Hussain done in the 1960s is suddenly a threat to our pristine traditions. Many of our 330 million Hindu Gods have spent the prime of their lives unclothed; the time has come to design moral robes for them. Khajuraho and Konarak now badly need saffron fashion designers.

Question 5: Why do the moral police indulge in policing?

Unfortunate tautology. How else would they grab the eyeballs of the nation? With very little work and no long-term investments, they can become famous overnight and reap rich political dividends. There are few risks involved, given the state’s sensitivity to their hurt sentiments.

Valentine’s Day provides rich opportunities. Dubbed as a threat to Indian culture, it throws up immense possibilities for great photo ops. The media has coined an endearing acronym to discuss certain goings on between young adults — PDA, roughly translated, it reads public display of affection. These acts are firmly handled by the moral police, who reiterate their faith in our great traditions by molesting the women publicly in front of television crews, who promptly arrive at the scene of the spectacle, forewarned and forearmed.

Question 6: Who gives the moral police the right to police?

Too many of us, through our sins of omission and commission. When the captains of industry cosy up to a champion of ethnic cleansing, when a leading television news channel gives an award to a staunch defender of the politics of hate, one begins to understand how deep and pervasive the rot is.

The normalisation of hate politics, the selective amnesia of the middle class — all these add up to strengthening the power of the moral police.

Question 7: What of love in the time of moral policing?

The moral police hate love and love hate. While the militant ones are easy to spot, the ‘soft’ ones are insidious.

They begin to define the realm of the ‘normal’. They censor our films, define dress codes, and make laws to control the Internet, all in the name of decency and order, of protecting the vulnerable and preventing social chaos.

While we must protest, firmly and loudly, against gross violations like Mangalore and Meerut, can we begin to speak fearlessly against the little everyday violations, the covert ways in which our spaces for love and freedom are encroached upon? And above all, we must never forget: Ayodhya and Mangalore are both manifestations of the same politics of hate and intolerance that we must resist till our last Valentine’s Day.

(The authors are professors at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)

 

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