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MPs unite to defeat Bill to amend Section 377

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Criticising the attitude of MPs, a Bangalore-based NGO Sangama, working for the sexual and gender minorities, said that no responsible Parliament should ignore the harassment and persecution of sexual minorities on account of outdated and archaic Section 377.

While the Juvenile Justice Bill continues to languish in Rajya Sabha over a year now, Lok Sabha on Friday shot down an effort by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor to legalise gay sex through a private member’s Bill at the introduction stage itself. The MPs prevented any discussion aimed at dropping Section 377 from the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860 that criminalises homosexuality. The ruling BJP members pressed for division to flung out the Bill and scored victory as its introduction was disallowed by a majority of 71 as against 24 voting for it. Tharoor tweeted: “Surprising to see such intolerance.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising the attitude of MPs, a Bangalore-based NGO Sangama, working for the sexual and gender minorities, said that no responsible Parliament should ignore the harassment and persecution of sexual minorities on account of outdated and archaic Section 377.Shashi Tharoor also said he was only fulfilling the Supreme Court’s wish in a ruling in December 2013, leaving it up to Parliament to remove the obnoxious Section from the statute. In a Twitter post, the former Union minister said: “Intro of Pvt. Member’s Bill 2 decriminalize consensual sex btwn consenting adults defeated in LS 71-24. Surprising to see such intolerance.” He said: “Notice of intent to oppose introduction of Bill came so late, there was no time 2 rally support.”In yet another tweet, he said: “We weren’t at passage. It was just “leave to introduce the bill” that was rejected by the intolerant. They couldn’t even debate!” He is, however, not dejected by defeat of his attempt as he tweeted further: “Will try again in future. We shall overcome!” Tharoor, however, found no resistance to two other private member’s Bills he introduced on Friday, one to amend the IPC to substitute a new section for Section 124A on sedition and another Asylum to protect refugees and asylum seekers and to determine their cases. In a landmark judgment in 2009, the Delhi High Court had stuck down Section 377 of the IPC as “unconstitutional” and decriminalised consensual sex among adult homosexual men. The Supreme Court, however, overturned the verdict on 12.12.2013 to re-legalise Section 377 while putting the ball in the government’s court, arguing that it was free to annul the law through legislation.Section 377 deals with “unnatural offences” and says “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.Rajesh Umadevi, director of Sangama said the retention of Section 377 was aimed at to harass and persecute sexual minorities, including transgender and various identities. “The insidious danger of Section 377 lies in the fact that it permeates different social settings including the medical establishment, family and the state. It also expressed the deep societal repugnance towards sexual minorities and provided the flag leaf of legitimacy for the harassment of sexual minorities,” he said.

Was approached by Left and BJP, says Tharoor as he reveals why he joined Congress

The two-time Thiruvananthapuram MP was responding to questions after delivering a keynote address on the topic ‘India in today’s networked world’ at the Indian Institute of Management-Bengaluru’s first global alumni conclave and leadership summit ‘IIMBUE’

Asserting that he is in the “right party”, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Saturday said he had chosen Congress from among the major political outfits, including the BJP and the Left, which had approached him to join them after he left services at the United Nations.”… it gets asked often and almost no day goes by on social media without somebody asking that question. Let me tell you when I decided to leave the UN, in fact shortly after I stepped back from the race for the secretary general, it is true that every major political formation in this country approached me,” Tharoor said in response to a question if he was the “right man in the wrong party”. “I was approached by a BJP former minister in the Vajpayee government who came to see me at my office in New York. I was approached by some one from the Left in Trivandrum (Thiruvanathapuram), and I was approached by my own party, what became my own party,” claimed Tharoor, who had joined the Congress in 2009.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The two-time Thiruvananthapuram MP was responding to questions after delivering a keynote address on the topic ‘India in today’s networked world’ at the Indian Institute of Management-Bengaluru’s first global alumni conclave and leadership summit ‘IIMBUE’ here. Pointing out that he has attacked all parties equally as a writer, Tharoor said he had been a fierce critic of the Emergency, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Babri Masjid demolition and the rise of Hindutva politics.Speaking further if he was in the “wrong party,” Tharoor said the Congress of 2009 and 2014 was certainly not the Congress of 1977 which “I could not have voted for”. He added that “parties evolve; they do come up with new personas and new vision. There are good people in the party; there is talent pool in the Congress party.” Listing out the reasons for choosing Congress, he said there were three broad tendencies in the country, especially from the point of view of potential Kerala politics.”One is a group of people who speak in terms of ‘India shining’ without really asking who India is shining for. The second are the group of people who say they are for the poor, but consistently oppose every progressive reform or policies that can increase the prosperity of the country and stop poor from being poor because that will not suit their political interest,” he said. “In the middle was a party that had given us the Liberalisation of 1991, taken economic reforms forward also the spirit of social justice… .” he added.

Kerala civic body elections: this time, it does feel different with BJP in the box with Cong & LDF

Local body elections in Kerala are due on 2 November, and as I write this, campaigning is in full swing. Even though we have had a damp month or two – normally, after Onam, there is bright sunshine, but this year September and October have been rainy – there is a lot of energy on the streets. Every corner, it seems, hosts a small election meeting when I drive home after work, and you have loud, earnest-looking men (and a few women) proclaiming loudly that their party is the one you must vote for.

Kerala is obviously highly politicised and highly polarised. In years past, it has generally alternated between the Congress and the Marxists in the Assembly elections (which are due shortly), and it votes contrary to national trends. But the next Assembly election might be a watershed, and the local body elections will give the best predictions — this is truly a semi-final, and therefore observers are keenly watching what happens.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. PTICongress leader Shashi Tharoor. PTI

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. PTI

Shashi Tharoor, MP, who has been busy campaigning for Congress candidates in Thiruvananthapuram and vicinity, feels his party is going to win in a landslide. He thinks that the BJP will be a damp squib.

Of course, Tharoor is a good observer of the political scene and has his ear to the ground. He may well be right. But the key is in his observation about the BJP. For, after having been an also-ran, and never having won a single seat in the Kerala Assembly ever, the BJP is now on the verge of becoming a force to reckon with in Kerala. They cannot be written off any more.

When the dust settles, it may remain a duopoly between the Congress’ UDF and the Marxists’ LDF, and these two parties may well remain the ones in power. But the fact is that the BJP is making both of them rethink the electoral calculus. And the BJP may or may not be satisfied with being the swing bloc that decides which of these two alliances forms the next government. They may ask for their pound of flesh.

Despite much talk about the political maturity of the Kerala voter, my sense is that the place remains mired in considerations of religion and jati. It is quite possibly the most communal part of the country, but people are clever enough to hide it in conversations, especially with observers. Covert communalism, on the other hand, is widespread.

It is a peculiar setup, where, according to the 2011 Census, 54 percent are Hindus, 27 percent Muslims, and 18 percent Christians, although the reality is that a lot of the Hindus are Communists, and there is over-counting of Hindus due to large-scale conversions, so the actual Hindu vote is lower. Among the Hindus, there are several groups: Ezhava (OBC) 20 percent, Nair (FC) 13 percent, Pulaya (SC) 2 percent, and so forth.

Almost all these groups tend to vote in blocs. Thus the Congress has traditional voters concentrated among Christians and Nairs; the Muslim League, Muslims; and the Marxist vote has been dominated by Ezhavas. This pattern has been stable for a long time and may account for the razor-thin margins by which candidates win.

There are also regional imbalances. Northern Kerala (Malabar) is dominated by Muslims; Central Kerala by Christians, and Southern Kerala by Hindus in terms of numbers and influence.

This stable equilibrium has been disrupted by two things this year: a Hindu consolidation contemporaneous with the arrival of Narendra Modi on the national stage and the estrangement of the Ezhavas from the Marxists.

There has traditionally been bad blood between the numerically dominant Hindu groups, the Ezhavas and the Nairs – and they generally have not voted for or with each other. The result has been that a consolidated Hindu vote never emerged, whereas there are dependable Christian and Muslim votebanks.

This year, two things happened: the BJP’s Kerala cadres are working towards a united Hindu vote. In fact, most of their collateral seemed to have a triumvirate of 19th century leaders, thus symbolising a pan-Hindu movement. From the Ezhavas, Sree Narayana Guru; from the Nairs, Chattampi Swamikal, and from the Pulayas, Ayyankali. It is widely believed that such a positioning will bear fruit for the BJP.

The Ezhava organisation, Sree Narayana Darma Paripalana Yogam, has been in the forefront of this consolidation, with its leader Vellappally Natesan hobnobbing with the BJP. This will hurt the Marxists and there is a non-trivial possibility they will be routed.

The Nair Service Society demurs, and prefers the Congress, but it appears individual Nairs are being attracted to the BJP, thus hurting the Congress.

The Pulaya Mahasabha has also been openly supportive of the BJP, reasoning perhaps that as an OBC, Modi is more sympathetic to their needs.

Thus the situation is fluid. Tharoor may be right: the Congress, with its trusty Christian votebank, may not be affected very much. But they will face anti-incumbency, especially because of big scams. Just today as I write this, a Vigilance Court startled them by declaring their sitting Finance Minister would be investigated in a large and contentious alcohol-related scam. (This is important, because Keralites are the biggest consumers of alcohol on a per capita basis, alas.)

The Marxists are also vulnerable. That is partly because of pure demographics and partly because of their own missteps. Marxists hurt Ezhava sentiments by taking them for granted, and also through insensitivity. They created, in a parade, a tableau of Sree Narayana Guru being lassoed and then crucified by upper caste Hindus. The idea was that OBCs were being oppressed by upper jatis, but it came across as arrogant and sacrilegious. Besides, a series of bloody murders of RSS activists by Marxists (and vice versa) has tarnished their image.

The BJP has a problem with name recognition: few of its top echelons are household names, but the general trend supports them. The award-return circus and Kerala House beef circus may help or hinder the BJP, it is hard to tell. Encouragingly for them, the most recent by-election, in Aruvikkara showed them gaining a number of new voters.

Thus, the overall situation in Kerala remains murky, but chances are that the Congress and the Marxists will lose some of their support, the Muslim League will retain its, and the BJP will gain.

dna Must Read: From non-bailable warrant against Somnath Bharti to latest on Bihar polls

1) Big boost for India as UN adopts document for Security Council reformsThe UN General Assembly on Monday adopted a negotiating text by consensus for the long- pending Security Council reforms, setting the stage for talks on the issue at its 70th session beginning on Monday, boosting India’s bid for a permanent seat in the revamped world body. Read More<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Massive gap between PM Modi’s rhetoric & reality, says Shashi TharoorCongress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said that there is a “massive gap” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘impressive speeches’ and the reality, as he might have given “excellent” ideas but could not provide “adequate” attention to them. Read More3) 7/11 Mumbai train blasts: Prime accused had landed in police net in 2004, says ATSFaisal Shaikh, prime accused in the July 11, 2006, Mumbai serial train blasts, had come under the radar of security agencies in 2004. Though security agencies had questioned him, they had no inkling that this was a terrorist who had undergone training at many Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) camps in Pakistan in 2002 and would eventually plan the train blasts. Read More4) Non-bailable warrant against Somnath Bharti, Delhi police to arrest him within 24 hoursIn a fresh setback to the Aam Aadmi Party, a trial court on Monday issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against its legislator and former law minister, Somnath Bharti, who faces a case of attempt to murder and domestic violence. The case was filed by his wife Lipika Mitra.​ Read More5) Bihar Polls: Discontent in LJP over ‘raw’ deal in seat sharingNotwithstanding claims of an amicable seat sharing arrangement having been reached among NDA partners for Bihar assembly polls, discontent seems to be brewing in Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP over allotment of 40 seats to it. LJP sources said there was a feeling in the party that Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and RLSP of Union minister Upendra Kushwaha got a “better deal” given their political clout in the state. Read More

Massive gap between PM Modi’s rhetoric & reality, says Shashi Tharoor

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said that there is a “massive gap” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘impressive speeches’ and the reality, as he might have given “excellent” ideas but could not provide “adequate” attention to them.

Shashi Tharoor

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said that there is a “massive gap” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘impressive speeches’ and the reality, as he might have given “excellent” ideas but could not provide “adequate” attention to them.”There is a massive gap between Modi’s rhetoric and reality. There is no point in having a doctor who gives an excellent diagnosis but cannot write a prescription or give adequate medication to cure it,” Tharoor said at a programme in Jaipur on Monday. Targeting Pakistan, he said that problem lies within the neighbouring country and its solution can only come if civilian power increases and military power decreases.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In India, state has an army, but in Pakistan, the army has a state. In India, one joins the army to defend the country, but one joins the army in Pakistan to run the country. “Army there (in Pakistan) runs the country. Everything is controlled by the military. As a result, the Pakistani military has the largest share of budgets,” the former minister said.”There is no army in the world that has a larger share of its own country’s money,” he said. Tharoor urged that trade and travel channels between the two counties should be generously opened.

Gentlemen, beware the femme fatale: The lesson India is learning from the Indrani Mukerjea case

Oh, India has found its ‘Gone Girl’. Apparently Indrani Mukerjea, who now stands accused of murdering her own daughter, is our desi Amy Dunne. Thanks to wall-to-wall newspaper spreads, hashtags and ominous background scores accompanying her story on news television, you’ll have no problem imagining Indrani stumbling out of a car, dripping blood, her dress crumpled and soiled but Vogue-worthy nevertheless.  For example, if you have read this Times of India article – the same one which calls her ‘Gone Girl’ – the picture in your head will be quite defined. It quotes Indrani’s acquaintance describing her as a woman with ‘diabolical eyes’. To make sure that the readers have no doubt about her Satanical qualities, the same article turns her husband Peter Mukerjea into a foil, a man with an “innocent demeanor”.

This story has stopped being about the murder of Sheena Bora long back. It is now about Indrani Mukerjea – attractive, expensively-dressed, sipping cocktails in exotic locations in most photos accessed by the media. Perhaps a murderer. Were you also thinking gold-digger, social climber, Machiavellian? Bingo.

In a Business Standard column imaginatively titled ‘Of ruthless social climbers and Indrani Mukerjea’, Shyamal Majumdar attempts to demystify people ‘who don’t mind leaving more than claw marks on people around them in their march to the top’. He begins by stating that Indrani, named Pori by her parents, had no wealth, or lineage to ever make it to the ‘upper crust’ which in his mind can only be accessed with what we call ‘old money’. He then tells us what helped Indrani gatecrash the sanctum sanctorum of this ‘swish set’ was ‘naked ambition’.

Indrani Mukerjea. Image courtesy: FacebookIndrani Mukerjea. Image courtesy: Facebook

Indrani Mukerjea. Image courtesy: Facebook

In short, beware the ambitious woman. Majumdar has strong advice for the whisky-sipping top executive who might fall headlong into her deadly cleavage. Men, after all, have no capacity for restraint.

“Next time you are in one of those countless cocktail parties, look out for those who come in designer labels from head to toe and start scanning the room for bigger fish even while chatting with you. They will do anything to make sure you know the cool, exclusive, elitist things they are doing,” he warns.

While Majumdar has been straightforward in his warning, most other newspapers have taken the roundabout way to help you feast on the ‘sordid’ past of Indrani Mukerjea and warn you against the deadly attraction of the femme fatale. Almost everyone has carried a ‘family tree’, with three arrows emanating from Indrani’s face and leading to the names and thumbnails of three men.

They in turn, lead to the children they have.

The point of the infographic is very simple – to elicit a ‘OMG, how many men has she had’ gasp. In India, a woman who admittedly has been in relationships with more than one man in her life, has always been subject of much shock, awe and suspicion. In the Indrani Mukherjea case, her love life, her multiple husbands, her Page 3 status are all becoming arrows pointing to the crime she stands accused of.

In India, the femme fatale is supposed to revile, as much she is supposed to fascinate. We raise our eyebrows at the men on her arm and wonder about her antecedents. Remember the time news broke that Shashi Tharoor was set to marry Sunanda Pushkar?

After the country was done asking, “Sunanda, who?”, there were elaborate reports on her earlier marriages. Sunanda was married twice before she married Tharoor. A recurrent theme on almost every report on Sunanda was her previous husbands, especially her first husband who had allegedly committed suicide.

The Indian Express‘ profile of Sunanda Tharoor reads uncannily like the ‘profiles’ of Indrani Mukerjea, tracing her life as Pori Bora in Guwahati.

The city that judges you by the size of your house as well as the size of your diamond never quite noticed her. But now,the most fashionable boutiques want her as a client She had the socialite uniform: blonde streaks,manicured nails and diamonds that glittered in the sun. Yet Dubai’’s high society is only now discovering Sunanda Pushkar,” goes the 2010 article on Sunanda Pushkar.

Pushkar might have had her blonde streaks but what we want to know are whether her roots are showing. The rest of the article has quotes from gossip columnists and socialites, who take turns to establish that Sunanda Pushkar was as nobody that a nobody can get before she got engaged to Tharoor. And they all wonder how did she land Tharoor.

Interestingly, Tharoor too was married twice before he married Sunanda. There was not much snooping about his former wives or the conditions under which those relationships ended. In a country filled with stories of businessmen making it from rags to riches and male politicians who rose to great heights from ordinary backgrounds, that narrative is all about the drive of alpha achievers – successful, charismatic, intelligent. Women, who have negotiated power relations successfully to climb to the top have to have something ‘diabolical’ about them, or “Machiavellian”, who hypnotized powerful men by batting their false eyelashes.

So a Smriti Irani will always have keep defending her position as the HRD minister unlike many of her male colleagues, equally unqualified on paper for their ministries. While Lalit Modi’s murky deals were, and rightly so, never traced back to his gender, a great part of the interest in Niira Radia stemmed from the shock at the idea of a woman playing broker between powerful men, and a hot woman at that. In fact, Vinod Mehta, in an article on Niira Radia, started with a quote from Freud on women.

“Freud impatiently asked, what do women want? And was unable to provide an answer. I often wonder what Niira Radia wanted. I speak of her in the past tense although that may be premature…”

The article quickly goes on to the men who wanted to woo Radia. “She lived in a luxurious farmhouse in Delhi. She had men of a certain age queuing up to woo her. (Niira’s mean-spirited critics accuse her of being our very own Mata Hari.) She bought her wardrobe from Italy. She began with almost nothing and in a few years became rich and famous and awesomely well-connected.

Now read that last sentence again: ‘She began with almost nothing…’. The entire paragraph was building up for the innate shock value of that last sentence – the woman who now buys clothes from Italy, actually began with nothing. That sentence could fit right into an article on Sunanda Pushkar, or Indrani Mukerjea.

In Indrani’s story, a recurring note has been how Indrani headed a sinking media venture INX. “Her soaring popularity, however, didn’t help her channels’ fortunes. Despite high profile launches and exciting media campaigns, her network couldn’t make a dent in the hugely competitive broadcast market,” an article in The Indian Express states. Later in the article, while it is stated that the Mukerjeas were accused of bungling INX’s finances, the rest of the article seems to place the venture’s failure on Indrani’s shoulders. The fact that Peter Mukerjea, himself a mega-successful TV business personality in the past, failed at it too and might have been equally culpable in squandering the money is almost never mentioned. That’s perhaps because it doesn’t fall into the scheme of the story, titled, ‘From Pori Bora to Mrs Indrani Mukerjea: The rise of the femme fatale’.  In that story Peter is just a puppet, dumbly following Indrani’s siren call.

Indrani Mukerjea might have murdered Sheena Bora or she might not have. But what is on trial here is not just her but women like her – too ambitious to be of any good. Indrani Mukerjea is being tried in the media not just for her alleged crime but for her lifestyle.

Delhi HC pulls up Sudhir Gupta for ‘delaying tactics’ on AIIMS plea

During the brief hearing, Gupta who had earlier alleged discrimination after he claimed to have refused to act unprofessionally in the Sunanda Pushkar autopsy matter, said the way his replacement was being sought by All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) was not justified.
File Photo
ANI
The Delhi High Court on Monday pulled up AIIMS forensic department head Sudhir Kumar Gupta for not serving the copy of his reply to the institute and other parties, observing that he was trying to “delay” the proceedings on a plea seeking his replacement.”Counsel for petitioner (AIIMS) says that he has not received the copy of reply which has been filed by the respondent (Gupta). It has been found that copy of reply was posted at the address of AIIMS, which appears to be a delaying tactics on the part of respondent,” a bench of Justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During the brief hearing, Gupta who had earlier alleged discrimination after he claimed to have refused to act unprofessionally in the Sunanda Pushkar autopsy matter, said the way his replacement was being sought by All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) was not justified.”Earlier, the convention adopted by the institute in replacing the head of a department was that either the incumbent was unavailable or he or she resigns from the post, only in those cases a new person was appointed,” Gupta’s counsel Senior Advocate Amarendra Sharan said. To this, the bench observed, “you can’t continue to be a head of department forever.” The counsel then alleged that Dr D N Bhardwaj, whose appointment as the new head of the Forensic Medicine and Toxicology Department is being sought by AIIMS, is not a competent person to hold the post.”He (Bhardwaj) has Parkinson’s disease and he is the person who has left a bullet during an autopsy of victim in a Ponty Chadha case,” Sharan alleged, adding that Bhardwaj does not deserve to be the head of a department.To this, the bench said “may be he has Parkinson’s disease of a very initial stage. This can’t be a ground for not allowing a person to be a head of department.” The bench then posted the matter for September 3. On July 1, the court had sought Gupta’s response on a plea by AIIMS seeking its permission to appoint Bhardwaj as the new head of its forensic department.The application was moved by AIIMS against the backdrop of the court’s March 25 direction asking the institute to take its permission before replacing Gupta. The court order had come on Gupta’s plea challenging a March 4 decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) rejecting his charge that one Dr O P Murty was promoted after purging his seniority, with the purpose of obtaining a “tailor-made report” in the sensational murder case of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor.Gupta had also alleged that AIIMS had illegally purged his seniority with “malafide intention” to punish him for refusing to act unprofessionally in the autopsy matter. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had also filed an application seeking court’s permission to be heard in the matter. Swamy informed the court that even though the issue related to service matter, the alleged controversy was of public interest and so he wanted to address the court on it.The BJP leader said that Gupta’s decision not to give favourable report in the Pushkar case was correct. In its application, AIIMS had said that Bhardwaj was senior to Gupta by four years and the latter had not challenged the former’s seniority either before CAT or in the high court.Absolving former union minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor of the charge of any wrong-doing, CAT had said “the email sent by Shashi Tharoor, the then Union Minister, to Dr Rajiv Bhasin, on January 26, 2014, and the notice dated June 2, 2014 issued by Dr Adarsh Kumar, Member Secretary, Medical Board, AIIMS, do not reveal anything to show that any pressure was put on the applicant to submit a tailor-made autopsy report in Sunanda Pushkar’s case.” In his complaint before the tribunal, Gupta had alleged he was asked to prepare tailor-made autopsy report giving clean chit, irrespective of his professional conclusions, after conducting autopsy on Pushkar’s body.The government had denied the allegations before CAT on August 27 last year, stating that the matter regarding Murty’s promotion was referred to the Department of Personnel and Training and he was promoted only after its clarification.

After Shashi Tharoor and Digvijaya Singh, BJP’s Varun Gandhi opposes death penalty

Yakub Memon’s hanging on July 30th has sparked a debate about the death sentence and this time the one who stands against the capital punishment is Varun Gandhi, BJP MP from Sultanpur.

File Photo: Varun Gandhi

Recently, MP and the BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha was criticised by Arun Jaitely for his signature on the mercy plea filed by Yakub Memon. Writing for Outlook, Varun has written an opinion peace titled ‘The Noose Casts A Shameful Shadow’ where he advocates the abolishment of capital punishment.In his article, he cites several historical references such as Babylon civilisation, Jesus Christ and the Crusades and the British rule, and calls the death sentence not just brutal but ‘anachronistic’. Despite the presence of investigation agencies and a proper legal proceeding, Varun Gandhi doesn’t believe that judgements can be accurate. He mentions a study by Columbia University of 5,760 cases (between 1973-­1995) that reveals an error rate of 70 per cent in capital punishment verdicts. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Varun goes on to say that 75 per cent of the convicts on death row belong to socially and economically-marginalised classes; 94 per cent of death row convicts are Dalits or from the minorities. “The poor consistently get the short end of the legal stick. The death penalty is a consequence of poor legal representation and institutional bias”, he writes.A couple of days ago, Shashi Tharoor of the Congress Party had posted a series of tweets that debated against the capital punishment. In his article Varun seems to carry the same pitch, “A death penalty at the end of a long and tedious process is no deterrent.”He believes that long prison terms (with no parole till a minimum stretch is served) can deter crime better and quicker trials can add to effectiveness. In his article he presented facts and figures from across the world, and quoted Buddhism philosophy, Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria and George Bernard Shaw among many to make a point that the capital punishment is not much of justice than retribution.Varun Gandhi’s article appeals to the government to abolish capital punishment and look for better alternatives. Varun concludes by writing, “India, as one of the 58-odd countries where death penalty is retained, needs to recognise the changing global scenario. The death penalty is not just a remedy available at the disposal of the law, but a human rights issue, beyond the pale of law. For the largest democracy, the death penalty is an anomaly. It needs correction. Many that live do deserve death. And some that die deserve life. One must not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”A little over 22 years after 12 coordinated blasts rocked Mumbai, killing 257 people and injuring over 700, the lone convict on death row in the case – Yakub Memon, was on Thursday executed about two hours after his lawyer’s last-gasp plea to get the death warrant. The plea was signed by many veteran lawyers, politicians and other known personalities.A day earler, Senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and Digvijaya Singh had sparked controversy by their remarks against capital punishment. In a series of tweets Tharoor had said that he was saddenned by the hanging of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub. He said, “The state-sponsored killing diminishes us all by reducing us to murderers too.” Tharoor also added, “There is no evidence that death penalty serves as a deterrent: to the contrary in fact. All it does is exact retribution: unworthy of a government.”Whereas, Digvijaya Singh sparked controversy tweeting, “exemplary urgency and commitment has been shown by govt and judiciary in punishing an accused of terror. I hope similar commitment of govt and judiciary would be shown in all cases of terror irrespective of their caste, creed and religion.”

Shashi Tharoor saddened by Yakub’s hanging, says execution has never prevented terror attack

Taking it to micro blogging site, Tharoor said, “Saddened by news that our government has hanged a human being.”

Senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is saddened by the hanging of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Abdul Razak Memon said that the state-sponsored killing diminishes us all by reducing us to murderers too.Taking it to microblogging site Twitter, Tharoor said, “Saddened by news that our government has hanged a human being.”A little over 22 years after 12 coordinated blasts rocked Mumbai, killing 257 people and injuring over 700, the lone convict on death row in the case -Yakub Memon, was executed about two hours after his lawyers last-gasp plea to get the death warrant stayed was dismissed by the Supreme Court in an unprecedented hearing that began in the wee hours and ended at dawn.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tharoor further added, “There is no evidence that death penalty serves as a deterrent: to the contrary in fact. All it does is exact retribution: unworthy of a government.”However, stating that we must fight against terrorism w/all the means at our command, Tharoor also sahid, “Cold-blooded execution has never prevented a terror attack anywhere.”Tharoor also added that he is not commenting on the merits of a specific case and that’s for the Supreme Court to decide. “Problem is death penalty in principle & practice,” he said.Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja, reiterating his party’s opposition to capital punishment, said India should say no to the death penalty.In this regard I am moving a private member resolution in the Rajya Sabha, its listed for 31st July. Till the Government and Parliament decide upon death penalty statute, India should have a moratorium of death sentences, he added.Defending Yakub Memon’s execution, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that Supreme Court’s ruling is a slap on the face of those who were trying to protect a terrorist.

Full transcript: Shashi Tharoor on politics, Macaulayputras and the Sunanda investigation

Away from the media scrum that often follows him, Congress leader, author and Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor opened up on many issues — personal and professional and musical — at the Firstpost Salon on 13 July in Mumbai.

Following is the transcript of his conversation with Firstpost senior editor Sandip Roy:

Sandip Roy: Thank you everybody for coming and thank you Shashi for coming and Saloning with us.

Shashi Tharoor: Good to be here. Good to see you all.

Sandip Roy: I want to start on a slightly personal note. I know that you recently lost your grandmother, who was close to a 100…

Shashi Tharoor: 98.

Sandip Roy: 98… And … not many of us have the privilege, in a way, of knowing our grandmothers, for having them with us for so long in our lives. She lived in your ancestral home in the Western Ghat. Touch a little bit on how important was she in your life and how important is that house to you.

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Shashi Tharoor and Firstpost Senior Editor Sandip Roy.

Shashi Tharoor: Yeah, the house represents a kind of a principal connection in some ways to one’s own lineage. I was born in London and when my parents moved back to India the first house that I was brought to was this one which was about a couple of hundred years old. No one knows exactly how old it is, but it is about a couple of hundred years old. It is in the middle of the Western Ghats, in the district of Palghat, the rice bowl of Kerala. When I first started going there as a child – because my parents were a part of this typical Diaspora- my father worked in Bombay, then Calcutta and then Delhi. And every year, the kids will be taken back to their “ancestral home”. And what was striking about this place was that it was so different from urban India, because it was this big old sprawling house in the middle of the rice fields. And literally, when I first started going there, there was no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no indoor bathrooms. Basically, we would brush our teeth and spit into the paddy fields. It was quite extraordinary as an alternate experience.

Sandip Roy: Was it fun or a punishment?

Shashi Tharoor: I think initially, we all felt it as more of a punishment. I remember saying to my father with the precociously unpleasant wit that comes to the young, that going south is strictly for the birds. But, the fact is that, after a while, it actually began to grow on one. The intangible things, the easy sort of comradeship with the relatives growing up in the house; And because my mother was the eldest child a lot of my uncles and aunts were more like brothers and sisters to me. In fact, I actually have an uncle who is younger than me, because he was born when my grandmother was forty and I had already been born 11 months earlier. The remarkable thing about my grandmother’s longevity is that we have a photograph of five generations of women from the family that is she, my mother, my sister, my niece and her baby… all in one photograph, which means the world to us. She and I had even joked mildly about the prospects of celebrating her 100th and my 60th together, because, she would have turned 100 in the November of next year. And I will hit the dreaded shashtiyaathpurti in the March of next year, but it was not to be. She represented lot of things. She represented leadership of the family. My grandfather passed away in 1967. So, she suddenly, went from being the mild, not so terribly talkative wife to being the matriarch, who had to raise the entire brood, run this house. And, she grew very impressively into the task. She was the glue that kept us all together. We would all gather from far flung corners, not just India, but from all over the globe.

Sandip Roy: What did she have to say about you joining politics?

Shashi Tharoor: I have to admit that, for most of the families, who don’t come from a political background, the instinctive reaction is one of disapproval. Why on earth would you go into this? What was the point in you studying so hard and getting good marks, if you had to end up in politics? That is for the people who don’t study and don’t get good marks. That’s the usual attitude, I am afraid. My mother and my grandmother never took well to my suddenly being a politician.

Sandip Roy: Your father worked for The Statesman newspaper. Was politics at all a part of your daily life in anyway? How did you encounter it?

Shashi Tharoor: No, it was something that we talked about but, very much with the detachment that intellectuals tend to have. In other words, I read newspapers; I talked elsewhere about it, including in this book, about, how, in the morning, my dad would sit down with me and read all the newspapers available in the city we were in, which was Calcutta in my high school years. And then in the evening he would bring home the newspapers from the rest of the country. I actually read and wrote a lot for Indian newspapers and Indian news. In that sense, intellectually politics was one of my major interests. But, I have to admit that actually…

Sandip Roy: Getting your hands dirty…

Shashi Tharoor: … Putting one’s feet into it never struck me as something that I was ever likely to do, largely because the political world seems so foreign to the world that we occupy the middle class professionals.

Sandip Roy: What I wanted to talk about, was growing up in a socialist India, how were your beliefs and assumptions? If you think about somebody of your background, your class, growing up now, what would be the most radical points of difference?

Shashi Tharoor: People growing up today are much more attuned to that India, the India that has come into being since 1991 and liberalisation, because what we have seen with post-liberalisation India is that, profit for example is no longer a dirty word, as it was when I was growing up. The idea that people can actually value entrepreneurship is now very much accepted, whereas when I was advocating it in my college days, I was literally alone. There wasn’t a constituency in those consensually socialist days for ideas like that. In that sense, the backgrounds were very different and people would take much more for granted that capitalism and private enterprise are desirable things rather than these bogeymen, these villains, which goes back to the whole East India experience. The British East India Company came into trade and stayed on to rule so, instinctively the suspicion was that you have a hidden agenda behind the business of commerce.

Sandip Roy: When you talked about your college days, when you were in St Stephens, you were a supporter of Swatantra Party and Swapan Dasgupta was a Trotskyite .

Shashi Tharoor: So, was Chandan Mitra actually. But, Chandan was a little more pragmatic and ended up being my campaign manager when I ran for the president. Swapan was on the other side but in any case, Swapan’s and Chandan’s journey to the right was one of the more interesting and amusing stuff for those of us in college.

Sandip Roy: What about you then? Will you still feel at home if the Swatantra Party existed?

Shashi Tharoor: I would very much feel at home with the liberalism of the Swatantra Party. But, what’s interesting is that the Congress party has moved a long way in that direction. First of all, the Swatantra Party disappeared while I was in college. It merged in 1974 with Charan Singh’s Bharatiya Kranti Dal to become the BLD. Much to my horror. I remember taking Piloo Mody to task from the audience when he came to speak at St Stephens College. But, the fact is that it did disappear. It wasn’t that it was anymore an option. But, with liberalisation, the Congress party adopted many of its core tenets. It was always socially a liberal party. It also became economically more of a liberal party. It is a big tent party. You have people who are self proclaimed Marxists like my good friend Mani Shankar Aiyar and others who proudly say that they are Marxist. But, we also have people who would be in economic terms seen as right wingers in the same party. And ultimately, the main difference, and I suppose the main difference for me too from those days, is that the Congress party has become more of a social democratic institution. That is it is in favour of re-enterprise of growth, of liberal economics, but it wants the revenues that emerge from the growth to be distributed to those who have none. And to my mind, that is entirely a reasonable proposition because what they are saying is that we have to acknowledge that in a country like ours today that there are enormous numbers of people living below the poverty line; they don’t have a social safety net and frankly, the magic of the market cannot appeal to those who cannot afford to enter the market place. Therefore you need to be able to have the capacity to use the revenues and recruit a government, from the prosperity that comes through economic growth, in order to help the people who have nothing. And to my mind that’s what the Congress party stands for and I was very comfortable going into it today.

Sandip Roy: Well, you said in this book that you consider yourself as an old fashioned liberal, which puts you in a minority. When you say that you are comfortable going into it, was the party comfortable with your old fashioned liberal views coming into it?

Shashi Tharoor: I think that the answer would depend on who you ask, precisely with a party as diverse as the Congress is, you are bound to find some people with differing views and certainly those who are on the Left of the spectrum do not find my views congenial or even acceptable. Many others are quite happy to see what I stand for being within the party. The truth is that India’s ideological polarizations are actually quite peculiar. We go round, all of you in the media, calling the BJP a right wing party but in what meaningful sense are it a right wing party, it is culturally a right wing party but, it is a nativist party in its economics. Until Mr. Modi came along, it was Left in conventional terms, to even the Congress party. They are much more protectionist in the sense that the Swadeshi Jagran Manch talk against foreign direct investment. They are against foreign investment of any sort. They are also against many aspects of foreign trade. They came up with a slogan ‘We want silicon chips, but not potato chips’ which is not a choice that the West was essentially offering them. This is the kind of economics that the core of the BJP movement stands for. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch is much more authentic to it than Mr. Modi saying that the government has no business to be in business. This was very much a party whose idea of capitalism began and ended with the middle men, small traders of the mandis were the core of the BJP. And that, was one of the reasons why, for example, a kind of foreign direct investment in retail attracted such hostility in the BJP because, it would give better prices to the farmer, lower costs for the consumers and eliminate the middlemen. But, the middle men are where they draw their support from. This is not Right wing economics by any stretch of imagination. The Right wing and the Left wings are the terms that mean very little for our political discourse.

Sandip Roy: We are going to talk a bit more about the current economics, but, I want to go back in time again with your years in St Stephens. One of the things that we have learnt from an impeccable source is that when you were around that time, you were pretty good at pretending to be cricket commentators while shaving.

Shashi Tharoor: I was a cricket nut from a very young age. Yes, one of the things that I would do is… the radio was all that we had in those days; we had no television in my childhood. So radio commentary was the thing that I would do…

Sandip Roy: We also learnt, I don’t know how many of you know the song Lilly the pink had a particular connection with you, your family and car rides…

Shashi Tharoor: This guy has been infiltrating my family; my sisters are the only conceivable source. I have two sisters and he knows the one in California. ‘Lily The Pink’ was song by the group named The Scaffold, which is not known for anything else than ‘Lily the Pink’. But, with a limited vocal range, it was a song which I could sing. I sang it quite boisterously throughout my early teens. It came out in 69, so, I was 13 when it came out. And I think that I kept it going through high school.

Sandip Roy: Can we have a stanza of Lily The Pink

Shashi Tharoor: Sure, I will give you two, in fact.

Brother Tony was notably bony
He would never eat his meals
Then they gave him medicinal compound
Now they move him round on wheels.
Jonny Hammer, had a terrible st st st st stammer
He could hardly s s say a word
And then they gave him medicinal compound
Now’s he’s seen, but never heard.
We’ll drink a drink a drink
To lily the pink the pink the pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented, medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Sandip Roy: Have you ever tempted to Indianize the song for the political situations?

Shashi Tharoor: No, this was… I wouldn’t dare to.

Sandip Roy: But, in those days, when you joined St Stephens, in one of your essays about St Stephens, you said that it marked you for the rest of your life. In what way did it mark you, in both good and bad way?

Shashi Tharoor: St Stephens was very much an elite institution in the best sense of the word. It was very difficult to get into. They took the best students, not in terms of marks and cut offs, as it happens today but they took people of talents and abilities from various fields. Some of the better known, more illustrious names, people who have got third division in high school, but were outstanding debaters or actors or musicians and creative people. The college could see that qualities and would take them in. We really had an extremely impressive talent all around us. Second, it was an amazingly pan national college, people from every part of the country could be found there. It gave you a sense of Indian nationhood in the microcosm of the extremely well qualified. Then, you had tremendous amount of creative freedom. There were all these college union societies made up of students with a faculty advisor, who was by and large stayed away from being too directive. In that sense, you learn responsibility, you exercise creativity and you came up with your own things. I founded the Quiz club, which is still in its existence forty one years later. I revived the ‘Wodehouse’ society.

Sandip Roy: What did the ‘Wodehouse’ society do?

Shashi Tharoor: Sadly, it has gone extinct, thanks to the co-education. I am sorry to say to the ladies here. But, what it was a society that was dedicated to the great master of the English. It was dedicated to good humour in college. We ran mimicry competitions, extempore speeches, which were judged for its humour more than anything else. We ran a practical joke week, with the sanction of the college authorities, which was usually quite an extraordinary event every year. We also published a magazine which is much funnier than the official campus rep.

Sandip Roy: What kind of practical joke would a college sanction…. it sounds deadly. A college would never dream of doing something like that.

Shashi Tharoor: It did. I can’t sit down and remember all the practical jokes so many years ago. Some of them were very funny. I remember when I was a victim of, when I was the president of the union; a student came to me after dark, rather late in the residence with somebody extremely tattered up in a skirt. He said that, “Look, I am sorry. I got this whore into college and the gates are shut. I can’t get her out. You have got to help me out or else I will be expelled. There I was the president of the college and it’s not my job to escort… at the same time, one learns early that every vote counts, you don’t want to expel somebody, who has voted for you. Don’t want to see him being expelled. I got into all sorts of tangles in trying to actually spirit this offender out through the closed gates. Until, of course, it turned out to be some poor fresher in drag. I was a victim of this particular joke and I can’t remember whether that joke won the competition that year or not. But, there were others which were perhaps as funny as it sounds in retrospect.

Sandip Roy: If you look at your Wikipedia and all the other people who went to St Stephens with you at the same time, you mentioned some of them Swapan Dasgupta, Chandan Mitra and many others who went at that time. It sounds like a wonderful glorious golden time, the chosen class it feels like. But, is that some of the things that have come into attack right now where people say that ‘These are the people. This is the elitist India’. People who will shout at each other in a television studio, you and Swapan Dasgupta for example, but are chummy then will stick up to each other when they go off camera and they will do favours for each other. This is the worst of the elitist India.

Shashi Tharoor: I am afraid that is not always true of all the pairings you can come up with. But having said that, there has been a lot of mutual respect and regard which was fashioned by that sheer experience and in some ways, I wish that our country were run more that way. I think, for example, the way in which for today, there’s so much of bitterness and hostility between the principal opposition party and the ruling party is not good for getting things done in our country and in the democracy. So, I would rather argue rivalry with each other and then got on to strike an acceptable compromise in the interest of the nation. And frankly, if that’s the worst if you can accuse Stephanians’ of, then, I don’t think it’s such a bad sin.

Sandip Roy: Why do you think that thing felt so out of favour to the point of being looked at as a Oxonian old boys club who talk with an Oxonian accent and make the deals behind the doors and we need to get away from that. And if you are my political opponent, then you must not even drink tea with that person.

Shashi Tharoor: You know, that wasn’t the case. It certainly has become the case. I have given up trying to invite BJP people, ministers from the present government over to my house for a meal, because they no longer show up or they accept and then don’t come. It’s one of these things where there seems to be a systematic attempt to avoid the social interactions with the enemy. But, in the old days, we weren’t the enemy. We were the adversary, the rival, alternative, but not the enemy. And, that I think is the way democracy ought to be faced. You don’t have to agree with somebody’s views. You let the public decide which views should prevail and once they prevailed, you work with the outcome of the electoral process. We are not doing that enough, things are very nasty… even before I came back to the Indian politics, UPA 1, was deeply disrupted by the BJP of several times in the house. The no-confidence vote over an Indo-US nuclear deal, they had begun negotiating. And, then, at the end of the UPA 2, it was very clear that five sessions of Parliament were pretty much wrecked by the BJP’s behaviour. The result is that now, the golden rule of Indian politics has become ‘do unto them, what they did unto you’. Congress is also behaving in the same way because we are so bearing the scars when we would try to get things done in the national interest.

Sandip Roy: So do you consider as a Macaulayputra?

Shashi Tharoor: I was asked once by Sagarika Ghose, who had asked to me to make a speech on the relevance of Macaulayputras. It was never recorded. So, I no longer recall what I said. Macaulay’s idea of creating this class of people who are as he put it, brown in colour or Indian in colour but English in taste and morals and opinions and intellect, that was very much a colonial enterprise intended to create a class of interpreters between the British and those they govern. That was the whole logic. And the fact that, it is a project one can object to intellectually and for historic reasons. It does not mean that in the process, some good wasn’t done. After all, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote The Discovery of India in English and the kind of pan-national vision that an English education has been able to ensure very, many people is nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, some would argue that it is less authentic than a sense of Indianness gleamed in a purely Indian language environment, but, it seems to me that the punning, collegians who speaks in English is as much a part of the Indian reality as the Hindi-speaking peasant in the Gangetic plain. In my view, there is no particular argument, other than numbers to make one more authentic than the other. We are all the part of the Indian reality.

Sandip Roy: Is it not true that the punning Oxonian accented Stephanian can be accused of looking down at the one who couldn’t do it?

Shashi Tharoor: Not the St. Stephens I knew. In fact, one of my classmates Harsh Mandar, who is very active on the social service league. I was an ordinary member he was a very, very active member. He went on to tremendous work for the poor, with the marginalised, with the discriminated, and the oppressed. And, he is, in no means, alone. Banker Roy, is another such Stephanian. Well, there is a strong sense of identification with the people who are not, shall we say, likely to be encountered in a Stephanian classroom, but, who ultimately make up the larger portion of the Indian reality and we are certainly not indifferent to them. As I said, the elitism of St Stephen’s was the elitism of merit. It was not snobbery. I don’t ever remember anybody at St Stephen’s having conversations about expensive watches or fancy clothes or foreign holidays. They were the conversations of ideas, of intellect, of creative energies being unleashed and indeed as I said that people like Harsh, of the social service commitment. It was not at all the kind of sneering snobbishness that people wrongly confound with elitism.

Sandip Roy: You give a very spirited defence about what a Macaulayputra could be. Which I guess, are you saying you are one? Do you admit to it? You accept this?

Shashi Tharoor: The term is obviously meant to be a disparaging one so, I certainly have no desire to lay claim to it. So, if I am asked to account for my place in India as somebody who is more comfortable in English than in any other language, which is a principal sin of which the Macaulayputras are accused, I have to plead guilty. I make speeches in Malayalam, couldn’t get elected in Kerala without that. I can converse in Hindi and I manage smatterings of Bengali and Tamil, but the fact is that English is very much my first language. If that makes me a Macaulayputra, linguistically fine, but, don’t assume that along with that comes a series of attitudes that are also ascribed to the Macaulayputras as I don’t really believe that’s fair. There are many with an English language education that have whole range of diverse views and awareness of the Indian experience, in ways I think, are denied to somebody who has never known anything except the Hindi speaking existence of small town UP. They are in some way cut off from the experience of say my grandmother had in Kerala.

Sandip Roy: People have talked a lot about the arrival of Narendra Modi, the age of Macaulayputra is over, the age of Lutyens elite is over. Do you culturally feel a difference in Delhi right now?

Shashi Tharoor: It’s too early to tell. First of all it has only been a year now. Secondly, the principal cultural difference I have seen is that the interaction and socialising after hours across the political divide is much less. Otherwise, Delhi pretty much chugged on as always. I don’t see an enormous amount of difference. There does seem have been some sort of instruction going out to the ruling party’s grandees that they should not be attending parties or hobnobbing with the others. That may be one sort of a cultural difference that has occurred. Certainly, one sees and hears much more of Hindi being used, thanks to Mr. Modi’s own inclination. That doesn’t mean that the English has disappeared from the intellectual conversations from the drawing rooms of Delhi. I don’t know how much can one speak about some sort of cultural sea change.

Sandip Roy: Let’s talk about when you go abroad; you were young and you go abroad, your college life and the Indian community at that time. Now, we live in an age where, on one hand, we have the ‘Modison’ Square Garden extravaganza, and on the other hand, you have the ‘Bobby Jindal’s so white’ hash tag going viral everywhere. What was it like for you when you went?

Shashi Tharoor: There were certainly fewer Indians around. I went to Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, which was near Boston and there was only one Indian restaurant in the whole of north eastern of New England. It was called the Indian restaurant. My American roommate and I would go there once a month as that’s all we could afford, to have an Indian meal. Phone calls were $12 a minute; I remember it wasn’t as you were calling home every minute to speak to Mom and Dad. You were cut off. You are making your own life, your own way. There were Indian associations, very occasional movie screenings, often far away in some suburb, I remember Sholay coming and it was a good one hour to get to the place where it was being screened, where there were a little more of Indians. I don’t think that at that point, one would have been able to project the kind of America today, where Indians are so influential even getting the American politicians elected. The Indian caucus is the largest caucus in any of the US congress. There is remarkable transformation. A show like ‘ER’ comes on the air, and the critics are saying, “How can it be a good show, because who so ever has heard of an American Emergency Room without an Indian doctor!” And then, they had to quickly write a part for an Indian doctor. Parminder Nagra, then came in. And then ER became the kind of success it went into became. That was not the America that I went to in 1975.

Sandip Roy: We have a question from Twitter, my apologies for not able to find out the name of the person who sent us this question. It’s basically asking do you think that the long distance nationalism of the Indians abroad is actually a dangerous thing.

Shashi Tharoor: It could a dangerous thing or it could be a positive thing. Many of us go abroad for the first time, voluntarily or involuntarily find themselves becoming the ambassadors of the country where we have come from, particularly when we see the foreigners who are ill-informed about our country or who have little knowledge about our country. We have an instinctive desire to defend it. The normal human nature equally applies to an American going abroad and French people going abroad. We Indians are no different. To that degree we become prouder of India we left because we are somewhere else and called to account for it as a part of accounting for ourselves. I have also witnessed a sort of expatriate extremism where you find some of the Diaspora go abroad and start supporting and sometimes financially supporting some of the most famous extreme causes in the country that they had left behind. I am trying to analyse this with pop psychology that they go abroad, they don’t fully fit in, they look in the mirror and they realise that they are not like the other people who are settled. And rather like the faithless lover, who blames the woman he has spurned for having left her, the expatriate’ extremists blame the country for obliging him to leave. And therefore he decides to support or finance extreme ideas as to how to change that country for the better. That can range from the support for the Khalistani terrorism in California, or the support for the Irish Republican army in New York or the Sri Lankan Tamils who financed the LTTE from Diasporas from America, Canada and everywhere else. All of that is, explained by these phenomena, but in a slightly milder way, it also explains the extraordinary support for the hate movement and the Hindutva movement and so on, amongst Americans who are living far away from what they see as a point of Indian civilization. It’s the same people who are surrounded by white non-Hindus and engaging with them and living amidst them, send money back in dollars to promote intolerance back in India, which is a very strange and unhealthy phenomenon.

Sandip Roy: Do you see the phenomenon as growing?

Shashi Tharoor: I don’t know. First of all, I no longer live abroad and I don’t see it around me. People like me started writing about it; I started writing about it in the 90s. As numbers grew, those who were against this kind of intolerance also grew and their voices began to be heard as well, by and large, because those people who preach divisiveness, religious chauvinism are themselves out of touch and out of sync with the kind of prevalent culture liberalist pluralist culture prevailing in the country they are living in. But no they are attempting to mask a little more their overt intolerant agenda.

Sandip Roy: Speaking about intolerance, referring to Chetan Bhagat, what he had written about it recently about the pop psychology analysis of the trolls. Do you believe that there is a difference between Right wing troll and a Left wing troll in terms of quantity and quality?

Shashi Tharoor: I was looking for Jaggi (R Jagannathan, Editor-in-chief, Firstpost), because he just began this evening by talking about trolls from both the sides. I am not aware about any Congress trolls. We just don’t have them. We are civilised, moderate, reasonable party.

Sandip Roy: That is incompetent not to have your own army of trolls!.

Shashi Tharoor: The point is that there are of course people who express their views in extreme language; using the distance that the internet gives you sometimes the anonymity that internet gives you. The anonymity of the internet and more importantly the distance; which actually permits people to speak and write in terms that they know that they wouldn’t get away with in a normal conversation. I remember once being in a social occasion where a couple of young men came up to me and chatted with me in the most respectful manner, called me Sir and all that. And when they gave me their names, I realised that one of them had just abused me one day before on Twitter.

Sandip Roy: Did you call him on it?

Shashi Tharoor: No, I said. Why bother. He was trying to be nice. It’s better to take people on their face value. The irony about all of this is that you never know how much of this is posturing. Of course, you don’t like reading it. I congratulate Twitter for having invented the mute button. You can now just silence these characters by having them not inflict their vileness upon you. The numbers, there is no comparison. As I said that I don’t really agree with the Right and the Left here, the organised preparation of the pro-BJP and pro-Hindutva elements vastly outstrips anything remotely comparable from the other side of the spectrum, in terms of the quantity and also the vileness, sustained nastiness of personal attacks. And I think it partly because they all felt at one point that they weren’t getting a fair enough shake in the mainstream media. So, they would take over the social media, they came to this conclusion much earlier than anybody else had and they moved into this way and occupied the commanding heights. For they are in large numbers and very well organised and in some of the abuses that I get, for example, it’s very clear and instruction had gone out, because around 30-40 people will be abusing me in the same identical manner and sometimes with the same identical words, but always the same angle of attack. And you know that this is a sustained campaign and there is nothing that you can do much about it.

Sandip Roy: Before you joined the UN, you had thought that after you finished your PhD, you will come back to be a journalist, as you were thinking. So, do you ever wonder about the road not taken that you could have been in… Arbnab Goswami’s chair!

Shashi Tharoor: Oh My God! Perish the thought. I haven’t allowed myself to think of what might have been. I think it’s slightly a self-indulgent thing to do. But, first of all, when I left India, I have to admit that my ambition up to college had been the Foreign Service. I was just very good at taking exams, came first and I thought that would ace those exams too and get in. Then, the Emergency came along. There was the profound disillusioning period. I just did not want to take the exams anymore. So, I never took the Foreign Service’s exams. So, that eliminated the most obvious profession for the people of my kind and background. And then, I was left with the choice between essentially academics or journalism, the other two things that interested me, until the UN came along. And, once I got into the UN, I thought that I will do it for a year or two or three no more for some, put some hard currency in the banks in India, that was very sought after those days and come back and in any case, I was more inclined to write than to teach. So, probably, it would have been journalism. Of course, there was no serious television journalism during those days; it would have been the print media. Looking back, I am not sure if I have any enormous regrets. I have led a very, very richly rewarding, not from the financial sense, but the intellectual satisfactions thereof. Life at the United Nations and on the international stage…

Sandip Roy: When you were joining the UN, you were told don’t bother about applying, there are too many Indians.

Shashi Tharoor: Yes, that’s right. When I first tried to apply to the UN, I was told that there are too many Indians over represented. Then what happened was that I was able to go out and join the UN organisation that didn’t have too national quarters. It was the UN High Commissioner for the refugees. After 11 years, I moved into the regular UN, that was at the end of the Cold War and when peace keeping was beginning to expand and I grew with it.

Sandip Roy: Tell us a little bit about you going to Singapore, the boat people crisis. What kind of impact that it leave on you?

Shashi Tharoor: Huge! First of all, I was alarmingly young for my responsibility. So, I had to conceal my age. It was an amazing time of personal growth. We had these Vietnamese fleeing their country in boats, and then being rescued on the high seas by the merchant vessels, which inevitably would come to Singapore to offload the people. The Singaporeans were resistant to offloading refuges until it was known what it would become of them. So, the job involved unusual combination of things, negotiating with the Singapore government, negotiating with the embassies of various countries for resettlement, working with shipping companies, many of them were flying flags wherein you couldn’t expect to resettle the refugees, including in a few cases Indian and Bangladeshi and ships; and at the same time running a refugee camp because unlike the other South East Asian countries, Singapore did not want it to be their responsibility. They wanted the UN to do it. So, I learnt a lot of things, including finding creative solutions to bureaucratic dilemmas all the time. At some point, I should write about all of this, but, I haven’t. But, there were these amazing experiences. But the most amazing experience was to be able to put your head to the pillow at night knowing the things that you have done during the day have made a difference to many human being’s lives, human beings who you would meet at the refugee camp. So many stories I can tell. We had a few dramatic ones as well as a few tragic ones including that of cannibalism, which had to be investigated. One story that I recall is that of a young family that had left Vietnam in a tiny boat with a cannibalised engine. The engine however conked out, and they started drifting at the China Sea. They were living on rain water and hope and because the baby and infant would not survive on the rain water, the parents’ cut their thumbs and children were seen sucking on parents’ thumbs for survival as the blood had nutrients; and later after they were rescued I saw the same family, all healthy and well-dressed ready to embark a new life in the US. I have seen an enormous amount of human satisfaction; there are people who are grown up, Canadian, or French or Australian, because of my skill of persuading the ambassadors, immigrating officers or visiting ministers, to make exceptions to their policies to bend the rules, under which these people were taken. It was an extraordinary life.

Sandip Roy: Even as you talk about the satisfaction of being able to put your head to your pillow at night, knowing that you made a difference in people’s life you were also the face of the UN at that time, when the Srebrenica massacre was going on. That must have been hard to face the media day after day…

Shashi Tharoor: That was in the peace keeping incarnation. I have just been at a seminar in Hague at the Institute of Global Justice with the number of those who had dealt with the Yugoslavian crises. I was handling the Yugoslavia headquarters, the people who faced the horrors directly were the ones who were in the fields, which I still haven’t done. Those with us for the political responsibility from the very beginning argued to the Security Council that peace keeping is inappropriate to a situation where there was no peace to keep. It wasn’t devised to be sent in during an ongoing war. The rules and principles of peace keeping worked effectively, won the Nobel Prize in situations where the parties had agreed to a peace and our job was to maintain it and ensure that it didn’t break down. But, you can’t go into a shooting war where people are actually using the peace keeping force to manoeuvre their own military interest behind them. We said this repeatedly in black and white of the public record but in any case, it was painful. First of all, such kind of a major international event and you never acting in any autonomy, like a huge pressure, the weight of the government’s pressure playing upon you, certainly by then the media had become the significant player in the international affairs. We were the good UN officials waiting for the reports from the fields before conveying them into appropriate form, the ambassadors were like ‘we just have seen this in CNN, why haven’t you reported to us’? And there was an entire transformation of the world happening at that time when all this was happening. And yes, you had the peacekeeping blue helmets, attempting to conduct themselves according to the rules and the principles of peacekeeping when clearly what was needed was to take sides, which was not what peacekeeping was all about. It was simply the wrong solution applied to a major problem.

Sandip Roy: You have worked with the UN, now you are working with India and its bureaucracy. They are regarded as the well-funded, and pampered…

Shashi Tharoor: I must say that bureaucracies have something more in common. But, India is more process oriented than process driven. UN is much less hierarchical. I have never been able to cure an Indian bureaucrat’s habit of calling me Sir, whereas in the UN, as a 22-year-old UN staff, I was encouraged by my senior UN staffs to use their first name. To begin with, the place is more informal, it was easier to cut corners and take decisions and get things done. But, obviously there were certain challenges like there was a lot of diversity of nationality, languages, cultures, work ethics, procedures which sometimes in areas like peace keeping were irrelevant because everyone who came there were all action oriented but in other parts in the UN could have been a less happy. In India of course we have a national bureaucracy, but we are really very much rule bound. All this notions of file bound interminable process would be to get tasks done. I would argue that we are less efficient than we should be; given the importance of the tasks here we face in the country.

Sandip Roy: I hear two different stories from reading papers. One is that now in the Modi-era, is that of an empowered bureaucrats. The minister is bypassed, the bureaucrat is empowered. Then we also read a story in The Times of India recently where the bureaucrats are flying back to their states in a reverse migration that hasn’t been seen before. You have a lot of bureaucrat friends. What’s the kind of gossip that you have been hearing?

Shashi Tharoor: The gossip I’m hearing is that empowerment is a myth. Mr. Modi started calling and meeting the secretaries directly and that is what he does even it today. The whole thing has mainly resulted in secretaries not going to play golf; and they make sure that they are known to be in office till 8 or 9’o clock. That’s the major impact. But what they say is that everything that they do ends up in the PMO. They are waiting for the overburdened PM to tell them what they want to do. It’s a much less effective bureaucracy in the present government than it was in the bad old days of the UPA.

Sandip Roy: We have couple of questions from people through twitter. Jaishree Vijayan asks ‘Do you think that you lost your freedom of expression when you became a politician’?

Shashi Tharoor: To some degree yes. When you become an elected politician, you represent the interest of your voters and that of your party, because you are a member of a political organisation. Sometimes your party takes a stand that you may personally disagree with, but you are not at liberty to express your disagreement. I remember when we had this outrage in Parliament with the so called cartoon controversy, of the 1950’s cartoon of Shankar, of Nehru ji flogging a tortoise with Dr. Ambedkar sitting on it. Honestly, I thought that our party’s position was completely absurd and immature that the cartoon was clearly not meant to be denigrating Ambedkar at all. It was a political commentary of the progress of some issues Dr. Ambedkar was in charge of. And what is more, is that Shankar, the person who had drawn the cartoon was a favorite of the Nehru’s who went onto win the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. For us to suddenly make him into this Dalit-hating person was absurd. Given the fact that my party was unanimous in the passion of its views of the subject, I preferred to keep silent rather than to express my views at that time. This is an example of my freedom of expression not being the same.

Sandip Roy: What is the most appropriate definition of economy class in India now? Would you venture?

Shashi Tharoor: I will refrain from any further contributions to the lexicon. I must say that I have travelled Indian economy class are much more spacious and roomy than the equivalent in America.

Sandip Roy: Do you think that the media is responsible for a certain dumbing down.

Shashi Tharoor: We have a media culture now in which breaking news is all about getting TRPs. There are a large number of economically unviable channels competing for the same number of eyeballs. And the only way that they can do it is by over sensationalising. The media that I have seen has certainly not lived up to the ideals that I thought they should have. My father worked for a media organisation, on the managerial side, not on the journalistic side. We grew up believing in the freedom of the press and the importance of the media and I’m sorry to say but the print media is selling news the same way. It is a sad thing what has happened to the media now.

Sandip Roy: With that media culture, after your wife died and the whole controversy erupted, do you feel in all these high profile cases, because there is so much of a media trials that happens at the same time, whether it is this case or the Aarushi case; that in the end this phrase ‘having your day in court’ means nothing in India …

Shashi Tharoor: The horrifying thing about this is that some deeply obnoxious anchors have taken upon themselves as not just to be witness, which is the job of the press, but, witness, prosecutor, judge jury and executioner all into one. The result is that even if the police conclude their work, and come up with the truth, and that is now established in the court of law, there will still be a lingering whiff of suspicion having been created by the lies that has been residually spread in a quest for TRPs. It’s really sad that our media class has become like this. I have actually had many moments about I ought to take some legal action. My lawyers advised me that I cannot do so until the investigation is over. I went through an earlier bout of being falsely maligned in the press during the so called IPL controversy. I chose at that point not to take legal action feeling that this was a free press played its role in a political democracy. Subsequently, when other kinds of maligning occurred, I felt, that at this point one should take action. You will, spend an enormous amount of money and emotional energy and the case won’t be heard for many years. Is it worth it? Now, if the media organisations are going to get away with the expectations that most of the victims won’t be able to take effective action against them then, they will continue to be irresponsible and convict innocent people, ruin lives and break heads and break reputations. I think that at some point, some of us will have to stand up and confront. The Press Council, the Editor’s Guild, all have been very, very weak in confronting all of this, maybe, one will have to look at the legal institutions to see what we can do. This is not just irresponsible; this is dangerous for the society.

Sandip Roy: How did you decide that you won’t go into radio silence like other politicians do when they are surrounded with controversy? You would continue with your professional life, your professional engagement at the risk of appearing to some as brazen?

Shashi Tharoor: That was a risk that I had to take. Initially, in fact I did go into radio silence. Certainly, losing my wife was enough to ensure that. I went off Twitter or any public appearances for almost six weeks, of which in the three weeks, I had physically lost my voice. It was a psychological situation, but I literally couldn’t have been heard anyway. After that, when I finally re-emerged, first of all, I knew that I had done nothing wrong. And there was no reason to be cowed by false accusations into silence. Second, I had an obligation to those who had voted for me to serve their interest and I couldn’t do that in silence. And third, a few months down the road, I had an election to fight. Either I would run away, which some would see as an admission of guilt or I would face the electorate and ask them to judge me for the person that they knew me to be. And I chose consciously the latter course. And in the end, yes, certainly a lot of damage was done. Rival political parties sent squads into the homes of voters to say how you can vote for this man, he murdered his wife. Enough people disbelieved it and I still managed to win the elections.

Sandip Roy: I don’t know about the people in the audience, but, I was surprised you won in an election where many Congress heavyweights were routed and you had the double whammy of having this cloud following you. Were you surprised?

Shashi Tharoor: I wasn’t surprised as I had worked very hard for that. One good thing that came out from my resignation from the External Affairs Ministry was that suddenly I had time for the constituency, that in that job, I didn’t have. I really devoted myself and I got a lot of things done which hadn’t been done by any of my far more illustrious predecessors. This included a national highway bypass project that was stuck for 40 years! The stones had been laid and nothing had been done. I got the whole of the bureaucracy moving and here in Delhi and funding done. That bypass became a reality. Trains for the constituency, a lot of lives were changed for the better that I was able to ensure were done. The voters fortunately remembered that and voted for that and not for other things.

Sandip Roy: That was the election that you won. As somebody, like you said, were very good at taking exams, when you decided to step back to from the elections to the UN Secretary General, withdraw from it, did that sting?

Shashi Tharoor: It was hard. I was just 22 years when I had joined the UN. I really had spent my entire life there. I had an unusually interesting career and I had worked in all the key fields of the UN. Humanitarian works, refugee work, peace keeping, political, been in the Security Councils, worked in the Secretary General’s office, run my own department and all of this stuff. In many ways, I had felt uniquely prepared for that position. But, you know of course I had enough sense to realise that the secretarial elections is not about the best resume, but, it is ultimately a political decision made by handful of member states in the Security Council and you have to accept that those are the basis on which the decision will be made. So, when it happened, I certainly accepted that was the outcome, but it certainly meant a huge change in my life, in my plans, because if I had not contested I had a decade to go at the United Nations. As a career person, I could have continued. And I would have had to reinvent my life at that point. Equally, as I look back, I had a very short campaign of three and a half months, nominated by the government of India in June, which was a bit later than what was ideal for the contest. And many ways, I would look back at the three and a half months and say ‘Should I would have done it?’ But, my answer was a yes. It was worth doing, it was worth trying to do. Then I took refuge in the lesson of The Gita that you really have to do something without the expectation of a reward or without focusing on the outcome. And the outcome turned out to be two votes short: one of which was a permanent member and that was enough to knock me out of the fray, but the effort was worth making. Of course, there was a consolation that out of the seven candidates, who included a deputy PM, clutch of foreign ministers, a sitting president of a country and a prince, I still managed to come second beating a lot of them.

Sandip Roy: Since we talked about the flawed legal system, when the photographs were flashed out in the media and such terrible things in the course of the investigations, how much faith you have in the system to vindicate you?

Shashi Tharoor: One has to believe in the system. It’s the system that we have got. I very much have co-operated throughout with the investigations, whatever their requests, they have raided my home and taken away my phone. I have co-operated with all of this. I have even done something which I never thought that I would ever do… giving them access to all my emails, which they have dutifully copied onto a hard drive. I believe that in a fair minded probe, that there’s absolutely no way in which I can be found wanting in terms of co-operation. The police themselves had said so. The supposition that a crime has occurred rest entirely on the word of an extremely suspect individual, a doctor facing charges of plagiarism and incompetence. It is something that the police have to investigate, whether there was a crime at all. That’s what they are investigating. This gentleman has alleged that there was poisoning… without any visual evidence and no chemical evidence of poisoning. There will be an entire process. I am sure that at the end of it all, reasonable conclusion will be found and whatever that conclusion is, I will then have to draw my own stand on whether this has been a fair process in the end or not. But, I start off with the premise that the people will be fair. In matters of life and death, these are not issues where biases or political agendas or other issues should come in and determine the conclusion. I am certainly hoping and believing in the fairness of the integrity of the system.

Touched by PM Modi’s ‘graciousness’, says Shashi Tharoor on his praise

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday said he was “touched” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “graciousness” in praising him for his Oxford Debate speech.

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Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday said he was “touched” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “graciousness” in praising him for his Oxford Debate speech.”I am very touched by his graciousness and his generosity of praise. He is a very fine orator to say these words for me. “I think we need to have the ability to respect people across party lines. We have different political values and affiliations but we can respect each other,” Tharoor said.Tharoor, however, later said he hoped that no one should read anything else into Modi’s praise beyond the prime minister’s act of showing graciousness.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He, however, reiterated his party’s demand for resignations of Union minister Sushma Swaraj and two BJP chief ministers– Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chauhan.Tharoor had on Thursday said that politicians can respect each other across party lines but that does not mean they have to abandon values of their parties.Modi had showered praise on Tharoor, the only Congress MP present at a function organised by the Lok Sabha Speaker for MPs, while talking about the need for free airing of views on national issues irrespective of the party affiliations.”Oxford debate has a huge significance. It is good that Shashi ji was there…. What he spoke there reflected the sentiments of the citizens of India,” Modi had said while inaugurating a workshop on the Speaker’s Research Initiative (SRI) to train MPs on various subjects of global importance.Tharoor also termed as “hasty” the Ufa joint statement of India and Pakistan after talks between Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, saying there was not much homework done by the government.”There was not much homework done in Ufa (Russia) and the immediate incidents just after 48 hours of the joint statement suggested that it was a hasty decision,” he said while speaking at a panel discussion on the book ‘Indian Foreign Policy’ by Sumit Ganguly.

Shashi Tharoor is a hero: Here’s what this says about manic-depressive India

The near-unanimous applause received by Shashi Tharoor for his Oxford speech on whether Britain owed reparations to India for its colonial era depredations tells us more about ourselves than the Congress MP’s oratorical or debating skills.

The man who has repeatedly been sent to the doghouse by his own party for speaking his mind, and, more recently, by a segment of the media that has decided he had something to do with his wife Sunanda’s death, found himself declared a hero by former critics, with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi complimenting him for it.

Image courtesy: PTIImage courtesy: PTI

Image courtesy: PTI

The deficit in the area of applause came from his party leadership, which has so far said nothing on it. Most probably the top leadership does not want heroes outside the family. On the contrary, Sonia Gandhi is alleged to have “scolded” Tharoor for obliquely criticizing his party’s disruptions in parliament – something he denied on TV yesterday (23 July) – just when he was becoming the toast of the town.

While we can leave aside the Gandhi family’s churlishness in failing to compliment one of its own MPs, what needs analysis is why India found Tharoor to be a hero on the basis of one speech when it was willing to believe the worst about him a few days earlier.

My own pop psychology analysis leads me to conclude the following: Indians are desperately seeking heroes we can all admire. Fractious as we are among ourselves on anything and everything, we tend to be manic-depressive when seeking or debunking heroes. Our champ-to-chump cycles of public approval and disapproval are extremely volatile. MS Dhoni can overnight turn from Captain Cool to Captain Fool who can do nothing right, and Tharoor can become instant hero after being consigned to media pariah status for a while. There is never a reversal to the mean in our case: between hero and zero there are no grey zones of balanced assessment; Narendra Modi can be a development messiah one day, or a fascist Hitler the next.

Not only that, we tend to read the same act differently when it involves two different people. If Shashi Tharoor’s speech had been made by, say, Mohan Bhagwat of the RSS, it would probably be seen as boorish behaviour on the soil of his gracious British hosts or the worst type of jingoism.

The sheer variability of our assessments of people and situations indicates deep insecurities and anxieties in us. These insecurities are manifested in how we seek to designate people as heroes, and what we seek in leaders.

Even though Indians have learnt to live more comfortably with diversity and difference than the west, we have still not been able to find commonality in who we find heroic and who we don’t. Hence the need to find heroes in cricket and sport and in speeches against British colonialism. Our Indianness is stronger when we can define a common enemy rather than in any positive purpose. We can’t find common ground on even a Nehru or a Gandhi. The Tharoor speech carried the day with all of us because everyone could agree on Britain as the villain of the piece. He would have been criticized by the Right or the Left if he had chosen to speak on one of our national personalities – whether Nehru or Patel or Netaji or Savarkar. Our internal diversity and mistrust prevents us from agreeing on common heroes. Today the only consensus we have is on Ambedkar, and even this is more because many people don’t want to be politically incorrect about a Dalit icon

Apart from a desperate search for common heroes whom we debunk equally callously when our mood shifts, Indians are schizophrenic on the need for strong leaders. We crave strong leaders who project power because we know otherwise there will be no order in politics (or in any sphere of public life). At the same time, we dislike the stifling nature of the personality cult that afflicts all political parties. Today there is almost no political party that does not accept one-party-one-leader as the norm. Out of the two exceptions, BJP and the Communists, the BJP under Modi has headed in this direction with astonishing political results, and the one party still to embrace this cult (CPM) is heading for the political wilderness.

More than being true democrats, what emerges is this reality: our extreme diversity makes democracy a necessity. What we truly desire in not debate or discussion, but the veto over other people’s preferences. Our insecurities and lack of self-esteem inclines us to accept benign autocracy over collective leadership and democratic debate; and we still put more faith in individuals and caste groups than in institutions and the rule of law. The argumentative india is less about argumentation and debate and more about finding a reason to oppose those we don’t like – as our politicians demonstrate every day.

Tharoor brought us together for reasons that may not last. We are yet to leave our insecurities and low self-esteem behind. This is why we are inclined to see insults when none may be intended; this is why we mobilise around convicted criminals rather than accept the neutrality of law. We have a long way to go in cultivating a true democratic spirit where the law and institutions are above everything else.

Everyone hates the British: How Shashi Tharoor’s suave Oxford speech united a polarised India

The British Empire can do something even Narendra Modi cannot.

It can unite the country.

The Prime Minister did namaste to his predecessor Manmohan Singh and shook hands with others in the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha as he tried to turn on the charm offensive. But it did not really work to mute the chorus demanding resignations.

Meanwhile Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s video of a speech at an Oxford Union Society debate arguing that Britain owes reparations has gone viral, embraced on all sides of the political spectrum, earning Tharoor a nod from Modi-ji himself. (Though his party chief Sonia Gandhi is apparently miffed with him for not approving of the Congress’ gung-ho obstruction strategy in parliament.)

Shashi Tharoor during the Oxford Union speech.Shashi Tharoor during the Oxford Union speech.

Shashi Tharoor during the Oxford Union speech.

It proves one thing. Everybody loves to hate the British empire. Nearly seven decades after Independence age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite utility.

Tharoor is at his Oxonian best in the speech marshaling facts and figures with bon mots like the seasoned debater that he is, rebutting his opponents with witty repartee and brandishing statistics like weapons to give that perfectly-honed cutting edge to his arguments.

The British had the gall to call (Robert Clive) Clive of India as if he belonged to the country when in fact much of the country belonged to him. India’s share of the world economy by the time the British arrived on its shores was 23 percent. By the time the British left it was down to below 4 percent. The Industrial Revolution in Britain was premised on deindustrialising India.

We literally paid for our own oppression.

It’s a bit rich to oppress, torture, maim, enslave people for 200 years and then celebrate the fact that they are democratic at the end of it.

The arguments are not new. Without taking away at all from Tharoor’s unquestioned panache in a debating forum, what’s most fascinating about it all, is the fervour with which the speech has been embraced on all sides. Tharoor is not truth-telling to a stunned House of Lords in London or speaking at the UN on some resolution about reparations. He is doing what a good debater is supposed to do whether it’s at the Oxford Union or the Calcutta Club – scoring points. And he does it very well since his side won the debate.

Tharoor has given many other speeches laced with wit and erudition. Those have not gone quite viral in the same way. In fact, what has tended to go viral are the witticisms that have landed him in hot water. He made his cattle class quip in 2009 and even to this day it’s still misunderstood by people who think he was snootily calling them livestock. But this speech, which did not really make waves when the Oxford Union debate actually happened, has struck a national chord once it went online.

Even in 2015 we are still not quite past the Raj hangover. We remain the step-children of the Raj. And while nothing can excuse colonialism or whitewash its sins, the Raj is a handy whipping boy for all sides.

For the Congress and its supporters, the British Raj was always the textbook villain. Their great heroes were the ones that snatched Independence from the grasp of the British Empire. And even more convenient, dwelling on the depredations of the Big Bad Burrasahib allows the Congress to wring its hands and shrug away its own failings after 1947. As an editorial in the Times of India points out “From a contemporary standpoint, it’s disappointing that almost seven decades of independence have made little difference to India’s economic size in relation to the world. And for much of this period Tharoor’s party, Congress, was in power.” The Congress’ standard excuse for the infamous Hindu rate of growth was colonial trauma. Two centuries of colonial ravages could not be undone in two decades or six.

For the Hindu nationalist side, Tharoor’s speech resonates differently. They daydream about the India that could have been. The one that would have already been a superpower had foreign invaders not looted the country and caged the golden bird. In that narrative the foreign invader is not just Robert Clive and his merry men but Babur and his descendants. The period of colonial rule they talk about is much longer than the two hundred years Tharoor is talking about. But the arc of the argument is one that reverberates with them. A glorious India that had 23 percent of the world’s economy, an India which understood plastic surgery and genetics and television and airplanes long before the rest of the world got on board, an India that was poised on the threshold of greatness. The arrival of Narendra Modi, for them, has been a moment about reclaiming control of that narrative. Make in India is part of a dream of that renaissance because India’s rich civilisation had been left out of the other Renaissance – the one with a capital R. When Kalidasa was writing exquisite poems Europe was busy with Visigoths ransacking the flailing Roman Empire and not paying attention.

The wonder of this speech is not the person making it. This is not about the reinvention of Shashi Tharoor as the man being lionised by the same media that was hounding him even a month ago. The man making the speech is the Shashi Tharoor we have always known – suave, articulate and a consummate debater. The wonder is really the speech that has found its sweet spot in the middle of India’s fevered polarised politics without really intending to do so. It was meant for the audience at the Oxford Union but now it’s turned out to have what politicians dream of — something for everyone .

While the reparations he argues for are for the sins from centuries past, there is a bit that might have far more contemporary relevance for our politics today. At the end of the speech making a passionate case for even symbolic reparations Tharoor says “The abilty to acknowledge a wrong that has been done, to simply say sorry will go a far far longer way than some percentage of GDP.”

Now if only some of the politicians furiously butting heads in parliament and dredging up each other’s scams to shame each other would pay attention to that bit, we could all get moving with the nation’s business.

In case you missed it, watch the video here:

Why Shashi Tharoor’s a hero and what it says about manic-depressive India

The near-unanimous applause received by Shashi Tharoor for his Oxford speech on whether Britain owed reparations to India for its colonial era depredations tells us more about ourselves than the Congress MP’s oratorical or debating skills.

The man who has repeatedly been sent to the doghouse by his own party for speaking his mind, and, more recently, by a segment of the media that has decided he had something to do with his wife Sunanda’s death, found himself declared a hero by former critics, with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi complimenting him for it.

Image courtesy: PTIImage courtesy: PTI

Image courtesy: PTI

The deficit in the area of applause came from his party leadership, which has so far said nothing on it. Most probably the top leadership does not want heroes outside the family. On the contrary, Sonia Gandhi is alleged to have “scolded” Tharoor for obliquely criticizing his party’s disruptions in parliament – something he denied on TV yesterday (23 July) – just when he was becoming the toast of the town.

While we can leave aside the Gandhi family’s churlishness in failing to compliment one of its own MPs, what needs analysis is why India found Tharoor to be a hero on the basis of one speech when it was willing to believe the worst about him a few days earlier.

My own pop psychology analysis leads me to conclude the following: Indians are desperately seeking heroes we can all admire. Fractious as we are among ourselves on anything and everything, we tend to be manic-depressive when seeking or debunking heroes. Our champ-to-chump cycles of public approval and disapproval are extremely volatile. MS Dhoni can overnight turn from Captain Cool to Captain Fool who can do nothing right, and Tharoor can become instant hero after being consigned to media pariah status for a while. There is never a reversal to the mean in our case: between hero and zero there are no grey zones of balanced assessment; Narendra Modi can be a development messiah one day, or a fascist Hitler the next.

Not only that, we tend to read the same act differently when it involves two different people. If Shashi Tharoor’s speech had been made by, say, Mohan Bhagwat of the RSS, it would probably be seen as boorish behaviour on the soil of his gracious British hosts or the worst type of jingoism.

The sheer variability of our assessments of people and situations indicates deep insecurities and anxieties in us. These insecurities are manifested in how we seek to designate people as heroes, and what we seek in leaders.

Even though Indians have learnt to live more comfortably with diversity and difference than the west, we have still not been able to find commonality in who we find heroic and who we don’t. Hence the need to find heroes in cricket and sport and in speeches against British colonialism. Our Indianness is stronger when we can define a common enemy rather than in any positive purpose. We can’t find common ground on even a Nehru or a Gandhi. The Tharoor speech carried the day with all of us because everyone could agree on Britain as the villain of the piece. He would have been criticized by the Right or the Left if he had chosen to speak on one of our national personalities – whether Nehru or Patel or Netaji or Savarkar. Our internal diversity and mistrust prevents us from agreeing on common heroes. Today the only consensus we have is on Ambedkar, and even this is more because many people don’t want to be politically incorrect about a Dalit icon

Apart from a desperate search for common heroes whom we debunk equally callously when our mood shifts, Indians are schizophrenic on the need for strong leaders. We crave strong leaders who project power because we know otherwise there will be no order in politics (or in any sphere of public life). At the same time, we dislike the stifling nature of the personality cult that afflicts all political parties. Today there is almost no political party that does not accept one-party-one-leader as the norm. Out of the two exceptions, BJP and the Communists, the BJP under Modi has headed in this direction with astonishing political results, and the one party still to embrace this cult (CPM) is heading for the political wilderness.

More than being true democrats, what emerges is this reality: our extreme diversity makes democracy a necessity. What we truly desire in not debate or discussion, but the veto over other people’s preferences. Our insecurities and lack of self-esteem inclines us to accept benign autocracy over collective leadership and democratic debate; and we still put more faith in individuals and caste groups than in institutions and the rule of law. The argumentative india is less about argumentation and debate and more about finding a reason to oppose those we don’t like – as our politicians demonstrate every day.

Tharoor brought us together for reasons that may not last. We are yet to leave our insecurities and low self-esteem behind. This is why we are inclined to see insults when none may be intended; this is why we mobilise around convicted criminals rather than accept the neutrality of law. We have a long way to go in cultivating a true democratic spirit where the law and institutions are above everything else.

After PM Modi’s praise, Shashi Tharoor says Congress demands on resignations remain

Tharoor’s party colleague Sachin Pilot said it was very kind of Modi to praise Tharoor but there is no let up in the demand for resignations of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh–Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chauhan for alleged irregularities.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Apparently in a spot of bother over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effusive praise of his speech at Oxford University, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thursday night sought to downplay it and said his party’s demands on the resignation of BJP ministers remain.Tharoor’s party colleague Sachin Pilot said it was very kind of Modi to praise Tharoor but there is no let up in the demand for resignations of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh–Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chauhan for alleged irregularities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tharoor later said he hoped that no one should read anything else into Modi’s praise beyond the prime minister’s act of showing graciousness. Tharoor said politicians can respect each other across party lines but that does not mean they have to abandon values of their parties.Modi showered praise on Tharoor, the only Congress MP present at a function organised by the Lok Sabha Speaker for MPs, while talking about the need for free airing of views on national issues irrespective of the party affiliations.”Oxford debate has a huge significance. It is good that Shashi ji was there…. What he spoke there reflected the sentiments of the citizens of India,” he said while inaugurating a workshop on the Speaker’s Research Initiative (SRI) to train MPs on various subjects of global importance.

Congress divided on stalling House, Shashi Tharoor raises red-flag

Tharoor is believed to have told in the meeting that since the party strength is so less in the Lok Sabha that it cannot corner the government to force removal of Sushma Swaraj as foreign minister, there was no logic to paralyse the House.

An informal closed door meeting of Congress party’s Lok Sabha MPs took a stormy turn when former union minister Shashi Tharoor suggested that party should allow Parliament to transact business and not force adjournments through disruptions. Source who attended the meeting said as soon as Tharoor completed his submission, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was presiding the meeting asked other party MPs present to give their views.”Almost everybody criticised Tharoor for his stand,” said an insider.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tharoor is believed to have told in the meeting that since the party strength is so less in the Lok Sabha that it cannot corner the government to force removal of Sushma Swaraj as foreign minister, there was no logic to paralyse the House. He is understood to have favoured other means to expose the government on the issue. Nobody supported Tharoor on the issue. Some party MPs even pointed out he (Tharoor) has been ‘soft’ on Modi government.Tharoor, however, could not be reached on telephone. Sonia is said to have calmed the nerves of MPs, saying she was also not in favour of stalling Parliament completely, but it is the question of accountability that cannot be overlooked any longer.Earlier, she spelled out the party’s strategy not to allow Parliament to function until it succeeds in forcing “accountability” on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against all tainted ministers and BJP chief ministers and institute probe against their misdeeds.She also decided to continuously rake up the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues not only in Parliament on daily basis but also outside Parliament. She and Rahul Gandhi will sit on a ‘silent protest’ in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Parliament House on Wednesday to pressurise the Modi government to act against Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Sunanda Pushkar death probe: Six, including Tharoor’s driver, undergo polygraph test

New Delhi: Six persons including three “prime witnesses” in the Sunanda Pushkar death case were put through lie detector test, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi said today amid indication that a number of other witnesses may be asked to undergo the examination.

File photo of Sunanda Pushkar. PTIFile photo of Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

File photo of Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

“Our investigation is continuing and whatever is required to be done will be done. So far we have carried out polygraph tests on six persons. If there is any requirement we will conduct further tests,” Bassi said.

Last month, Delhi Police had approached a city court for permission to carry out polygraph test on Narain Singh, who is domestic help of Sunanda’s husband and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, driver Bajrangi and family friend Sanjay Dewan.

The court had later allowed the investigators to conduct the polygraph test on the three suspects with their consent.

Three others — S K Sharma, Vikas Ahlawat and Sunil Takru, had also undergone the polygraph test.

Asked whether investigators were planning to subject Tharoor to polygraph test, Bassi said he would not like to “speculate”.

“I would not like to speculate but as and when anything of this sort is required we will let you know. But unnecessary speculation is not advisable,” he told reporters.

Tharoor has been questioned thrice in this case. Sunanda was found dead in the hotel suite on January 17 last year, a day after she was involved in a spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor.

Investigators said they are trying hard to make breakthrough in the high-profile case and are waiting a report from Federal Bureau of Investigation to know about the kind of poison found in Sunanda’s body.

Her viscera samples were sent to the FBI lab in Washington in February after an AIIMS panel concluded that the poison cannot be detected in Indian labs.

Bassi said the report of the polygraph test on the witnesses is awaited.

Police had accused Singh, Bajrangi and Dewan of concealing “material facts” like a power cut in room no. 345 at Leela Hotel on January 17, 2014 around 7 PM where Pushkar was found dead around 8 PM.

In January, police had claimed that Sunanda (51) was poisoned, and registered a murder case against unknown persons.

PTI

Sunanda Pushkar case: Six undergoes polygraph case

Last month, Delhi Police had approached a city court for permission to carry out polygraph test on Narain Singh, who is domestic help of Sunanda’s husband and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, driver Bajrangi and family friend Sanjay Dewan.

Six persons including three “prime witnesses” in the Sunanda Pushkar death case were put through lie detector test, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi said amid indication that a number of other witnesses may be asked to undergo the examination.”Our investigation is continuing and whatever is required to be done will be done. So far we have carried out polygraph tests on six persons. If there is any requirement we will conduct further tests,” Bassi said. Last month, Delhi Police had approached a city court for permission to carry out polygraph test on Narain Singh, who is domestic help of Sunanda’s husband and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, driver Bajrangi and family friend Sanjay Dewan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court had later allowed the investigators to conduct the polygraph test on the three suspects with their consent. Three others — S K Sharma, Vikas Ahlawat and Sunil Takru, had also undergone the polygraph test.Asked whether investigators were planning to subject Tharoor to polygraph test, Bassi said he would not like to “speculate”.”I would not like to speculate but as and when anything of this sort is required we will let you know. But unnecessary speculation is not advisable,” he told reporters. Tharoor has been questioned thrice in this case. Sunanda was found dead in the hotel suite on January 17 last year, a day after she was involved in a spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor.Investigators said they are trying hard to make breakthrough in the high-profile case and are waiting a report from Federal Bureau of Investigation to know about the kind of poison found in Sunanda’s body. Her viscera samples were sent to the FBI lab in Washington in February after an AIIMS panel concluded that the poison cannot be detected in Indian labs.Bassi said the report of the polygraph test on the witnesses is awaited. Police had accused Singh, Bajrangi and Dewan of concealing “material facts” like a power cut in room no. 345 at Leela Hotel on January 17, 2014 around 7 PM where Pushkar was found dead around 8 PM. In January, police had claimed that Sunanda (51) was poisoned, and registered a murder case against unknown persons.

Sunanda Pushkar death case: Delhi Police to receive FBI’s viscera report within a month

New Delhi: Delhi Police are expecting to get former union minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar’s viscera report from US-based Federal Bureau of Investigation in the next 15 to 30 days, which is likely to throw light on the kind of poison that caused her death as concluded by AIIMS panel of doctors.

Police Commissioner BS Bassi said the polygraph test on three key witnesses in the case will be conducted in the next seven to ten days.

Sunanda Pushkar in a file photo. PTISunanda Pushkar in a file photo. PTI

Sunanda Pushkar in a file photo. PTI

The investigators hoped both the viscera report and polygraph test will give a direction to the probe into the high-profile case.

Sunanda’s viscera samples were sent to the FBI lab in Washington in February to determine the type of poison that is suspected to have caused her death. An AIIMS medical board had identified poisoning as the reason behind her death but did not mention the type of the poison.

They had listed some kind of poisons most of which were radioactive isotopes that cannot be detected by labs in India.

Highly-placed sources said that the final viscera report is expected in the next 15 to 30 days.

Bassi rubbished media reports that the viscera report has been received.

“Certain media reports that we have received Sunanda’s viscera sample from FBI are baseless. FBI is aware of our need. There is a laid down procedure and guidelines which are followed in such cases before which the findings cannot be reached upon. We are still waiting for the report,” he told reporters.

Asked when the police would conduct the polygraph test on three witnesses, Bassi said that they have asked experts to give them a date and they hope to get it done in a week or ten days.

When questioned whether police will move court for polygraph test on other witnesses including Shashi Tharoor, Bassi said that he would not like to “speculate” on the issue. Tharoor has been questioned thrice in this case so far.

Sunanda was found dead in a five-star hotel suite here on January 17 last year, a day after she was involved in a spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor.

Three suspects in Sunanda Pushkar murder case, two of them employed by Tharoor and the third, a friend, will undergo lie detector test after a Delhi court had on May 20 allowed investigators to conduct it following their consent.

Police have accused the three of concealing “material facts” like a power cut in room no. 345 at Leela Hotel on January 17, 2014 around 7 PM where Sunanda was found dead around 8 PM.

PTI

Delhi police claim 3 witnesses lied in Sunanda Pushkar’s case, demand polygraph test

In a fresh twist in the Sunanda Pushkar death probe, the Delhi police has told the court that it would like to conduct a lie-detection test on three witnesses.

Alleging that the witnesses were lying and concealing valuable information about the case, the Delhi police Special Investigation Team moved an application in a Delhi court on Thursday demanding polygraph test on the witnesses, a report in The Times of India said.

Domestic help Narain Singh, a friend of Shashi Tharoor, Sanjay Dewan, and the driver Bajrangi have been accused of lying in their statements to the police.

The police has said that the three were close to both Tharoor and Pushkar and were present in Hotel Leela Palace just before Sunanda’s death. All three have been questioned multiple times times in the past by the Delhi Police.

Sunanda Pushkar. APSunanda Pushkar. AP

Sunanda Pushkar. AP

Listing the several times that the suspects tried to mislead the police, the SIT has said their earlier submissions have not been entirely true. Responding to the plea, the court has summoned all three witnesses on 20 May.

52-year-old Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in her suite at a five star hotel in south Delhi on the night of 17 January last year.

Tharoor had earlier submitted to the SIT data from computers — which included emails and other information in digital form — pertaining to the communication he had had with various individuals and authorities before and after the mysterious death of Pushkar.

With agency inputs

Lok Sabha passes amendments to Juvenile Justice act, to face Rajya Sabha test

The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2014 which will allow children in the 16-18 age group to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes. The bill will now be debated in Rajya Sabha, where the government despite lacking a majority in that House, will be hoping it is passed.

The amendments were prepared in the backdrop of public outcry over the Delhi gangrape case of 2012 in which a juvenile accused received a lighter punishment because of his age.

On Wednesday, several members in Lok Sabha opposed the controversial amendment that provides for treating juveniles between the age of 16 – 18 years on par with adults for crimes such as rape.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Rehabilitation and not retribution should be the policy, said many members, while expressing their concern over the amendments to the bill.

The House agreed to pass the bill after a clause that any 16-18 year old, who commits a less serious offence, may be tried as an adult only if he is apprehended after the age of 21 years, was deleted.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had said in case a heinous crime has been committed by a person in the age group of 16-18 years it would be examined by a Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult’.

The trial of the juvenile, whether as an adult or child, would depend upon the opinion of the board which would comprise psychologists and social experts, she said.

The henious crimes, she said, would include those offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which attract jail term of over seven years.

The bill, she further said, proposed to modify the norms of adoption to ensure that uncared children find a suitable home as early as possible. As per the proposal, NRIs wanting to adopt a child will be treated at par with resident Indians.

Although the lawmakers did not have problems with the provisions relating to adoption, they were divided over the issue of trying children between 16-18 years of age involved in heinous crimes as adults. Among those who supported the bill in Parliament were Prahlad Patel (BJP) and Tathagata Satpathy (BJD) who argued that punishment should be linked to the gravity of crime not the age.

Opposing the Bill, Shashi Tharoor (Congress) said it was violative of the UN conventions of children and against the Constitution.

The justice system should focus on “rehabilitation and not retribution”, he said, adding it would be “emotionally, ethically and morally” wrong to punish a child, who does not have access to basic facilities, like an adult.

There is no scientific system of determining the age of a children and in certain cases it is done by looking at the child, he said, and quipped “General (VK) Singh knows it.”

Singh, who is Minister of State for External Affairs, was involved in a prolonged legal battle over the issue of his age when he was the Army Chief four years back.

Speaking on the issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said as an individual he feels that if a person is capable of committing a heinous crime of rape then the punishment will have to be in accordance to the crime.

Vinod Kumar (TRS) opposed the trial of juvenile between 16 to 18 years of age as adults, saying they need education and moral classes as most of them committing crimes come from economically backward families.

Quoting data, he said crime committed by juvenile as a percentage of total crime is just 1.2 percent.

“In present circumstances educating them and giving them moral classes will help control such crimes. But if he is tried like adults in the age of 16-18 years, it would have bad impact on their psychology,” Kumar said.

Badaruddoza Khan (CPIM) said the lowering of age of trial of juvenile for heinious crimes is not in accordance with the international laws.

“The amendment with regard to lowering of age is short-sighted, unjust and against public interest,” Khan said.

He had suggested that the provisions of the Bill be such that the juvenile be allowed to consult with psychologists to prevent them from repeating the mistake.

P Srinivasa Reddy (YSRCP) said putting the 16-18 years olds in jail along with adults would make them hardend criminals.

Supporting the Bill for the changes it brought about in adoption laws, Supriya Sule (NCP) cautioned the government against drafting the amendments out of emotion.

“The law comes in the backdrop of the gangrape. For one Nirbhaya rape, you cannot make a law out of emotion… You need to look into your international commitments as well,” she said.

Sule said she stands in dilemma whether to support the Bill or not and demanded to know from the Minister what is the roadmap of the NDA government with regard to juvenile age.

“We need to look into the psychology aspect. Every child, although he makes a mistake, deserves a second chance,” she said.

Dharamvir Gandhi (AAP) said that lowering the age to 16 years for trial of juvenile would be injustice to the child as a child of that age is unable to comprehend a situation.

“The age should not be brought down. It will be gross injustice to the child and will be violation of international laws,” he said.

With PTI inputs

Juvenile Justice Act: In Lok Sabha, Shashi Tharoor says amended bill will embarrass govt

The central government on Wednesday moved the Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha which, if passed, will allow children in the 16-18 age group to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes.

The amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014 has been moved keeping in mind the increasing number of serious offences being committed by teenagers in the 16-18 years’ age group, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said while moving the bill.

Participating in the debate after the bill was introduced, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said: “A majority of children in conflict with law come from illiterate and poor families. These are the ones you are trying to punish instead of giving them education.”

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. AFPCongress MP Shashi Tharoor. AFP

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. AFP

He claimed that the entire concept of prevention of presumption of innocence has been done away by with.

The Congress MP who is a former diplomat and UN under secretary, addressing the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, said the amended Act will not only cause embarrassment to the government but it will also violate “United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 or the Beijing Rules which require a child or a young person accused of an offence to be treated differently from an adult.”

The proposed legislation, which would replace the existing Juvenile Justice Act 2000, clearly defines and classifies offences as petty, serious and heinous, and defines differentiated processes for each category.

The amendment bill further reinforces these principles through introduction of a new provision that disallows the protection from disqualification in cases where a juvenile is tried and convicted under the adult system.

The ministry of women and child development had introduced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014 in the Lok Sabha in August 2014.

The bill had been referred to the standing committee which had recommended keeping the juvenile age at 18 years.

Tharoor further added that the Bill violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 and Article 15(3) of the Constitution, and said that of the 472 million children of the country, only 1.2% have committed crimes. And that, of these, only 2.17% had committed murder and 3.5% had committed rape. “How can we pass a law that will jeopardise the other 99.98% children in this country because the government wishes to over-react to these handful of cases,” he was quoted as saying by DNA.

Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said police who are going to investigate should have women. “We should also have child psychiatrists in the juvenile justice boards.”

Biju Janata Dal’s Tathagat Satpathy said care and protection should be of prime importance and not retribution which one should look at.

“What is it that is causing the child to adopt a path of criminality, we should explore that,” he said adding that implementation of the law has been the biggest problem.

“Not a single child who is innocent should be punishment because of the ambiguity in our laws,” Satpathy said. “District boards should have the freedom to judge each and every case on individual merit.”

Moves to amend the juvenile justice act had begun immediately after the December 16, 2012, gang rape of a young girl in a moving bus in Delhi in which one of the culprits was a juvenile.

With agency inputs

Sunanda Pushkar case: HC asks AIIMS not to replace forensic head without its nod

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has come to the rescue of the head of AIIMS forensic department, Sudhir Kumar Gupta, who had alleged discrimination for refusing to act unprofessionally in the Sunanda Pushkar autopsy matter, asking the Institute not to replace him without its permission.

“Without expressing any opinion on the contentions raised by the petitioner (Gupta), we direct the respondent No.1/AIIMS to take leave of this court in the event of any contemplation at their end to replace the petitioner from the post of HoD,” a bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and IS Mehta said.

Representative image. AFPRepresentative image. AFP

Representative image. AFP

The bench also issued notices to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) seeking their reply on Gupta’s plea.

Gupta, Head of the Forensic Medicine and Toxicology Department, had challenged a March 4 decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) rejecting his charge that one Dr O P Murty was promoted after purging his seniority, with the purpose of obtaining a tailor-made report in the sensational murder case of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor.

He also alleged that AIIMS had illegally purged his seniority with “malafide intention” to punish him for refusing to act unprofessionally in the autopsy matter.

Senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, appearing for Gupta, had submitted that the doctor was appointed HoD in 2013 after taking into consideration his seniority as Professor (Forensic Medicine and Toxicology).

He said there was “serious apprehension” that in light of the CAT decision which was now under challenge, AIIMS may decide to replace him by appointing Murty or anyone else.

The court, which restrained AIIMS from removing Gupta without its prior leave, asked the counsels of both parties to file the synopsis of written submissions along with the supporting judgments before the next date of hearing.

Absolving former Union minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor of the charge of wrong-doing, CAT had said, “the email sent by Shashi Tharoor, the then Union Minister, to Dr Rajiv Bhasin, on January 26, 2014, and the notice dated June 2, 2014 issued by Dr Adarsh Kumar, Member Secretary, Medical Board, AIIMS do not reveal anything to show that any pressure was put on the applicant to submit a tailor-made autopsy report in Sunanda Pushkar’s case.”

Seeking quashing of CAT’s verdict and AIIMS decision to promote Murty, Gupta’s counsels Sharan and Somesh Jha, said the decision was likely to “severely affect the seniority and career progression of the petitioner and his functioning as Head of Department.”

The CAT had held that the decision having already been taken by the Governing Body on January 16, 2012 and April 14, 2012 to promote Murty to the “grade of Professor w.e.f. July 1, 2009, it cannot be said that the postmortem/autopsy of the dead body of late Sunanda Pushkar, who died on January 17, 2014, has any nexus with the process of consideration of Murty’s case for promotion…

“Therefore, the malice attributed by Gupta to the then President and Director of AIIMS is baseless,” the tribunal had said.

In his complaint before the tribunal, Gupta had claimed that he was asked to prepare tailor-made autopsy report giving clean chit, irrespective of his professional conclusions, after conducting autopsy of late Sunanda Pushkar.

The government had denied the allegations on August 27 before CAT stating that the matter regarding Murty’s promotion was referred to the Department of Personnel and Training and he was promoted only after its clarification.

The action of AIIMS and the Ministry of retrospectively promoting Murty to “supersede Gupta is illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional,” Sharan said in court.

His counsel also alleged that Murty had “started creating difficulty in the routine functioning of Gupta as HoD, claiming seniority illegally conferred upon him.”

He contended that the CAT findings were “illegal and contrary to the law and facts and circumstances of the present case”.

PTI

Sunanda Pushkar murder case: Delhi Police may question Mehr Tarar

New Delhi: The Delhi Police Special Investigation Team that is investigating the Sunanda Pushkar death case on Thursday said it may question Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over whom she supposedly fought with her husband Shashi Tharoor before her death last year.

File photo of Sunanda Pushkar. PTIFile photo of Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

File photo of Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said Tarar may be questioned, if required, as she may throw light in the case.

“If required, we will speak to her as she is a relevant person who can throw light in the case. Our efforts will be to talk to her,” Bassi said when asked whether the SIT probing the case will examine her.

Sources in the police said that a formal request may be sent to her through “official channels” to join the investigations.

Tarar had two months back said that she was ready to answer any question on the issue.

“If they want to ask me anything… If they want to ask me any question whatsoever that they think… I can answer,” 46-year-old Tarar had said a day after Delhi Police had registered a murder case into Sunanda’s death.

52-year-old Sunanda was found dead in her suite at a five star hotel in South Delhi on the night of 17 January last year, a day after she was involved in a spat with Tarar on Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor.

Tharoor was questioned by the investigators last month.

Bassi said investigators have also asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US to complete examination of Sunanda’s viscera as soon as possible.

A senior police official had gone to the US to give the sample of Sunanda’s viscera to the FBI.

The investigators want to confirm the kind of poison which was found in Sunanda’s body by a panel of doctors of AIIMS. The AIIMS report could not find out the kind of poison in her body.

“We had told them (FBI) to do it as early as possible. They follow certain procedures and processes. So it may take some time,” Bassi said.

He said, if required, Tharoor will “definitely” be called for questioning again.

He said the certain gadgets obtained by the investigators are also being examined.

PTI

Head of forensic dept didn’t face any pressure in Sunanda Pushkar case: AIIMS

New Delhi: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Wednesday rejected allegations levelled by its Head of Department of Forensic Medicine Sudhir Gupta that he was pressurised to manipulate the post mortem report of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of then Union Minister Shashi Tharoor.

Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

“The AIIMS administration categorically denies any such allegation that there was any attempt to pressurise Sudhir Gupta to change the post-mortem report,” it said.

When asked if Gupta faced pressure from outside, as he has hinted in an affidavit, AIIMS spokesperson Amit Gupta told reporters the administration was not aware of it but if there was any pressure from outside then he will have to bring evidence on it.

“We have no evidence that he was under pressure from outside and how he reacted to that,” the spokesperson and Media and Protocol Department Head Neerja Bhatla said.

The premier health institute did not rule out disciplinary action against Gupta, saying “if AIIMS feels or if we get any directive then action will be taken as per rules”.

Gupta has filed an affidavit before Central Administrative Tribunal against the move to promote a faculty member which, he alleged, was started under the then UPA government so that he could be removed as the head of the department as he did not change the post mortem report.

Sunanda (52) was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of 17 January, a day after her twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor.

Gupta refused to comment on his reported allegation, saying he has already stated the facts before the “competent” authorities.

“I don’t want to comment on this issue. It is a legal matter, a serious issue, I cannot share with the media. I am a government servant. Whatever I wanted to say, I have said at a competent place,” he said.

Gupta, who was heading the panel that conducted Sunanda’s postmortem, has reportedly alleged he was pressurised to show that her death was natural which he resisted.

The autopsy report had mentioned more than a dozen injury marks on Sunanda’s both hands and an abrasion on her cheek which suggests a “use of blunt force”, besides a “deep teeth bite” on the edge of her left palm. Viscera samples were preserved after the autopsy at AIIMS and were sent to CFSL for further tests.

The CFSL report hinted at drug poisoning but its findings were not conclusive enough to file an FIR in the case, according to police.

PTI

Sunanda Pushkar murder case: Media is spreading lies about me, says Shashi Tharoor

Thiruvanathapuram: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Monday vent his anger at the media, alleging that “concocted” stories and “lies” about him were being put out in connection with the investigation into his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s mysterious death.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. AFPCongress MP Shashi Tharoor. AFP

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. AFP

“Revolted by the lies in the media about me, esp on Kerala channels. Stories are concocted; attributed to police sources without any basis,” the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram said in a series of tweets.

There were reports that the New Delhi police had warned Tharoor for not giving appropriate answers to the several questions asked by the special investigation team.

“If there is such an issue, they would have informed me first rather than going to media. All such reports are totally baseless as I am fully cooperating with the investigation,” Tharoor had said earlier insisting that he was fully cooperating in the probe.

Tharoor had reportedly reached Thiruvananthapuram on Friday for a five-day programme in his home constituency after taking special permission from the SIT for travelling outside New Delhi.

The police had informed that he should not go outside Delhi without permission.

PTI

Sunanda Pushkar murder: Tharoor appears before SIT for third time in two days

New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday appeared for the third time in two days before the Special Investigation Team(SIT) that is probing his wife Sunanda’s mysterious death.

Tharoor visited Sarojini Nagar Police Station informing the SIT that he was leaving for Thiruvananthapuram later in the day.

Shashi Tharoor. AFPShashi Tharoor. AFP

Shashi Tharoor. AFP

Police sources said that the SIT has asked Tharoor to keep them informed about his movements and contact details so that the team can get in touch with him whenever they need him during investigation. However, police has not put any restrictions on his movement as of now.

The former Union Minister reached the police station around 1 pm and spent about half-an-hour. Although he was not formally questioned during the visit, but police did ask him some supplementary questions regards what he had told them yesterday during two rounds of questioning that lasted nearly seven hours.

Meanwhile, sources also said that a team from the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police is in Mumbai to look into the business model of defunct IPL Kochi franchise and see whether there was anything fishy in its financial transactions. The team is also likely to meet BCCI officials in this regard.

Yesterday’s questioning of Tharoor was mainly focused on the IPL controversy which had broken out in early 2010 when he was minister of state for external affairs.

There were allegations that he had “misused” his office to ensure that Rs 70 crore, which was equivalent to 19 percent equity in IPL Kochi franchise Rendezvous Sports, was paid to Sunanda, a charge denied by him.

Tharoor was yesterday quizzed for nearly seven hours, spread over two rounds including for two hours late in the night during which he faced tough questions mainly on IPL controversy.

The questioning of Tharoor by a five-member SIT team took place at the Anti Auto Theft Squad (AATS) office in Vasant Vihar in South Delhi.

Delhi Police had earlier examined the former Union minister on 19 January.

Another round of questioning of Tharoor may take place over the weekend, police sources said yesterday.

Tharoor’s interrogation came on a day when Sunanda’s viscera sample was sent to a FBI laboratory in the US for further probe.

Tharoor’s domestic help Bajrangi and Narayan Singh, his common friend Sanjay Dewan, his PS Praveen Kumar and Rajat Mohan (cardiologist of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital) were questioned along with him earlier in the day. Besides, they were also separately quizzed.

Sunanda was found dead in her suite at a five star hotel in south Delhi on the night of 17 January, 2014, a day after she was involved in a spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on microblogging website Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor.

Police had last month filed a murder case and formed an SIT to probe the case. Police sources also said that Tharoor submitted some computer data — which included emails and other information in digital form — pertaining to the communication he had with various individuals and authorities before and after Sunanda’s death.

Asked about the matter, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi, said, “Tharoor was called today and we took some information and data. We will now analyse the data and see… We gathered detailed information from him yesterday, now his statement will be analysed.”

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters at Thiruvananthapuram airport this evening, Tharoor refused to divulge details of his questioning while maintaining that he was “available” for the police whenever they wanted to speak to him.

“I am not getting into any details of anything which is between me and the police. When the investigation is on, it’s my duty to cooperate with the investigation, nothing else. As far as I am concerned, every Indian citizen has the duty to cooperate with the authorities as they do their duty. That’s what I am doing,” he said.

“Beyond that, it is not appropriate for me to answer questions on any details. I have not done so in Delhi and am not going to do so in Thiruvananthapuram. I am here as your MP for the next few days,” he added.

Asked when he would be questioned again, he said, “Whenever they (police) want to speak to me, I am available.”

PTI

Sunanda Pushkar death case: Son Shiv Menon fails to turn up for questioning

The Special Investigation Team of the Delhi Police probing the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar has, over the last month, questioned those known to be close to her. Pushkar’s husband Shashi Tharoor, her friends Nalini Singh and Amar Singh have turned up for questioning but her son Shiv Pushkar Menon, who was to be questioned on Monday, failed to turn up.

As this report in Hindustan Times states, “Menon, who was served a notice by the SIT about four days ago, did not show up on Monday morning, despite confirming his availability for questioning.”

Sunanda Pushkar in a file photo. PTI

Menon, who is Pushkar’s son from her previous marriage lives abroad and was called for questioning on 29 January.

Even as the police remained mum on why he had not arrived in Delhi, The Hindustan Times reports that “Menon was asked to reach the Anti Auto Theft Squad (where the SIT has set-up office) by 10 am. But he did not turn up and the SIT members waited for him till late in the night.”

The officials were supposed to question Menon on whether he was told anything by Pushkar before her death.

A team of Delhi Police probing the murder has already questioned at least 15 people in connection with the case.

Former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh was questioned on 29 January.

Singh had told the media that Pushkar was depressed over the IPL fiasco which led to the removal of the Kerala franchise in which she had considerable sweat equity. He added that she had broken down and wanted to reveal information about the IPL controversy to him. But it has not been established that the IPL controversy had anything to do with her death.

Pushkar was found dead in a luxury Delhi hotel room on 17 January, 2014. A murder case was registered by police against unknown people on 1 January this year.

With IANS inputs

Shashi Tharoor clarifies stand on Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Congress leader and former union minister, Shashi Tharoor, in his new book points out how implementation of some of the plans announced by the Prime Minister could be Modi government’s Achilles’ heel. Insisting he was quoted out of context from his session with Mihir Sharma at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, he quoted from ‘India Shastra’, his latest collection of essays. “There is a paradox at the heart of Mr Modi’s ascent to the Prime Ministership. His speeches and rhetoric appear to recognize and harness a vital shift in our national politics from a politics of identity to a politics of performance. Yet he has ridden to power at the helm of a party, the BJP, which is ill-suited to the challenge of delinking India’s polity from the incendiary issue of religious identity that it had built its base on,” he quoted from his essay and added, “I don’t know why I have been quoted only as saying that Modi’s speeches are a shift in politics; from the politics of identity to politics of performance, by a section of the media.”

Congress leader and former union minister, Shashi Tharoor, in his new book points out how implementation of some of the plans announced by the Prime Minister could be Modi government’s Achilles’ heel. Insisting he was quoted out of context from his session with Mihir Sharma at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, he quoted from ‘India Shastra’, his latest collection of essays. “There is a paradox at the heart of Mr Modi’s ascent to the Prime Ministership. His speeches and rhetoric appear to recognize and harness a vital shift in our national politics from a politics of identity to a politics of performance. Yet he has ridden to power at the helm of a party, the BJP, which is ill-suited to the challenge of delinking India’s polity from the incendiary issue of religious identity that it had built its base on,” he quoted from his essay and added, “I don’t know why I have been quoted only as saying that Modi’s speeches are a shift in politics; from the politics of identity to politics of performance, by a section of the media.”

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BJPPrime MinisterNarendra ModiShashi TharoorZee JLF 2015

Zee JLF: Shashi Tharoor praises Narendra Modi, Congress in a tizzy

Shashi Tharoor who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, proved his penchant for controversy by doffing his hat at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shifting politics of this country from identity to performance, at a packed-to-the-gills session – India Shastra – at the Diggi Palace Front Lawns of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.

Shashi Tharoor who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, proved his penchant for controversy by doffing his hat at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shifting politics of this country from identity to performance, at a packed-to-the-gills session – India Shastra – at the Diggi Palace Front Lawns of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.Only early last week Congress had pulled Tharoor up for remarks at the Kolkata literary festival for “praising the PM”. Yet today he began his talk with, “Modi is a shift in politics; from the politics of identity to politics of performance.” Tharoor was reading from his new collection of essays, before which he made the point which could further upset his party, the Congress.Though he later tried to temper his compliment with some criticism, his earlier words seemed to have made a mark by then. Congress supporters in the assembly of 2,500-plus people were miffed with Tharoor. Later, though Tharoor observed that while PM Modi’s appeal is his focus on development and governance, “he’s giving a free rein to retrograde elements (who are) rewriting text books, praising ancient science over modern science”, it cut little ice with the Congress sympathisers present in the audience.“Unko soch samajh kar bolna chahiye (He should have thought of it before speaking),” said Narayan Thakur, a Congress worker who was seen immediately making calls to his party bosses to inform them of the development. While admitting he will raise the issue with the national leadership, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot didn’t seem too keen on muddying waters. “Tharoor is not from Rajasthan. So any formal comment on this should come from the national spokesperson of the party. I will only speak about what is happening in the state,” he said.Such was the outrage over Tharoor’s statement that much of what his fellow panelist Mihir Sharma or the moderator Amita Tripathi said paled out in comparison.It may be recalled that on October 14 last year, Congress had removed Tharoor from the post of national spokesperson, after the Kerala unit (led by KPCC vice-president M M Hassan) of the Congress took strong objection to what they called his “continuous and undue effusive praise” of Modi. They had demanded the high command act against him, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who Tharoor was otherwise seen as close to, referred the matter to the central disciplinary panel of A K Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Motilal Vora, which recommended that he be stripped of his post.The former union minister who had been questioned by Delhi police on Monday over his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s death has been magnet for media which swirled around him even on Thursday night when he was at the Zee Jaipur Litfest dinner.

Sunanda Pushkar case: Tharoor turned emotional at times during four hour long grilling

Shashi Tharoor was intensely questioned tonight for about four hours by a special team of Delhi Police on the circumstances leading to the mysterious death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar a year back and her spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over her links with the Congress MP.Tharoor’s questioning, which started around 8 PM ended around midnight. He left in his vehicle without responding to questions from waiting media. Police too refused to divulge any details of what transpired during the questioning. Police sources said that this was the first round of questioning and Tharoor may be called again. However, sources said that the former Union minister was asked about the 15 injuries on her body, especially injury number ten which was an injection mark as the medical report has indicated that the poison which caused her death could have either been taken orally or injected.He was also asked about the reason of the tiff the couple had on the flight from Thiruvananthapuram to Delhi on January 15 following which she left him at the airport and checked in at Leela Hotel. Tharoor was asked whether Sunanda was suffering from any disease and the kind of medication she was taking. He was quizzed about the empty Alprax tablets which were found in the hotel room and who used to consume it as the viscera tests were found negative for it. He was queried whether she was suffering from Lupus (a kind of skin disorder) as was speculated.A visibly glum Tharoor faced searching questions nearly three weeks after a case of murder was registered on the basis of a medical report that concluded that she died of poisoning. This is for the first time Tharoor has been questioned on death of 52-year-old Sunanda by the police. He was earlier examined by the SDM who was carrying out an inquest proceeding in the case. She was found dead at a luxury hotel on January 17 last year.A five-member Special Investigation team comprises DCP(South) Prem Nath, Additional DCP PS Kushwah besides three officers.Tharoor, donning a blue shirt and a black jacket, reached the office of Anti Auto Theft Squad (AATS) in South Delhi’s Vasant Vihar area. Tharoor was issued a notice by SIT to join the investigation. The Congress MP had a meeting with his lawyers at his residence in Lodhi Estate before proceeding to SIT’s temporary office which has been heavily barricaded to keep a waiting media at bay. The sources said that Tharoor got emotional at times as he faced a volley of questions from the SIT.The former Union minister was also quizzed about another woman who his domestic help Narayan named in frequent tiffs between the couple. Tharoor was asked about the last time he saw Sunanda alive and the happenings on the night of January 17 when he first found her dead at the hotel suite. Among the questions he faced was at what time he left the AICC venue for the hotel and what did he do when there was no response to his calls to Sunanda during the day.He was also asked when was the time fissures started to appear between him and Sunanda and what were the reasons for it. He was asked about his visit to Dubai and his alleged meeting with Mehr Tarar there.He was asked whether he had had any scuffle with Sunanda on the intervening night of January 16 and 17 which had led to the injury marks on her body and the broken glass pieces in the room.Police wanted him to list out the people who had met them at the hotel and why they had called doctors to the hotel room instead of rushing her to a nearby hospital when they had found that “something has happened to her”.Sources said that police will tally his version today with what he gave to the SDM last year to see whether there are any discrepancies. Sunanda was found dead in her suite at Leela Palace hotel on January 17 last year, a day after she was involved in a spat with Mehr Tarar on micro-blogging website twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor. Some of those questioned in the case so far include Tharoor’s domestic help Narayan Singh, family friend Sanjay Dewan, the hotel doctor who pronounced her dead and hotel staff including its manager. Sources said that police will also question in a day or two a woman journalist with whom Sunanda had spoken before her death and Tharoor’s PS Abhinav Kumar who had informed the then SHO of Sarojini Nagar police station about the death.

Sunanda case: Will not question Shashi Tharoor for now, says Police

Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor
File Photo

Delhi Police today said it is not going to question Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for now in connection with the mysterious death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar as it would first want to examine all other people related to the case and look into available evidence. Investigators also said that they have not come across any IPL cricket league angle in the case so far in the wake of some media reports suggesting this link. “We have not called Tharoor for questioning as we do not need him at this moment. We would like to question all the other people in this connection including his aides, the hotel’s staff among others. All the available evidences will also be gathered and it would be only after that we may question him,” said a senior police official. Sunanda was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of January 17 last, a day after her Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor. Initially, the Special Investigative Team formed in the case wanted to question Tharoor straight away and a notice asking him to join the probe was also prepared but it was not dispatched at the last moment as the police top brass decided to question everybody else before examining him.”This approach will help us pose those questions to him which would arise during questioning of all these people related with the case,” the official said, adding that no IPL angle has come up in the case so far as speculated in the media. Tharoor, meanwhile, said he did not have anything more to add to what he had stated in public about the case at Guruvayur, a day after he expressed concern over the way the police was probing Sunanda’s death.
“It is pointless for you to waste your time on other matters. I said very clearly what I said in Guruvayur yesterday. I have nothing more to add and you are not going to get me to add anything more,” Tharoor told reporters in Kochi. Tharoor had said he will extend full cooperation in a “fair” investigation and demanded a professional police probe without any political pressure or consideration and pre-determined outcome.Delhi Police had on Tuesday registered a murder case in connection with Sunanda’s death under section 302 of IPC on the basis of an AIIMS medical report that concluded that her death was unnatural and due to poisoning. The SIT had on Thursday interrogated Tharoor’s domestic help Narayan Singh on specific details such as people who met her during the 48 hours prior to her death and the 15 injury marks on her body including the injection mark. It had also visited the Leela Palace hotel yesterday and spent around two hours during which investigators questioned the hotel staff and also checked the hotel room once again. The staff was specifically asked whether anyone had seen or recovered any syringe or an injection vial from the room. The SIT has also formed a list of at least 12 people including, Abhinav Kumar, who was PS to Tharoor. It will also question Bajrangi, Tharoor’s driver and a female journalist with whom Sunanda apparently spoke to before her death and all those who came in contact with her 48 hours before her death. Another man Sanjay Dewan, the couple’s family friend who is believed to be at the hotel suite on that night when Sunanda was found dead will also be examined. Also Read: ‘I have nothing more to say’: Shashi Tharoor

I have nothing more to say, says Shashi Tharoor on Sunanda death case

Shashi Tharoor during his press address on Friday
Agencies
Picture Source: Twitter
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor on Saturday avoided commenting on the death case of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, saying all questions related to the incident must be asked from the police. “It is pointless for you to waste your time on other matters. I said very clearly in Guruvayoor on Friday. I have nothing more to add and you are not going to get me add anything more. Please ask the police any questions you want to ask,” Tharoor said. “And, if you all believe you know the murderer, please go and convey the details to the police. I have nothing more to say. Please ask the police,” he added. Tharoor had earlier on Friday said he hopes the Delhi Police can speedily solve the death case of his wife, adding that he will not compromise police proceedings by engaging in public debates. Tharoor also called for the police investigation to be fair and without any political considerations. “I think it is very important that a matter like this which is the object of so much public attention and so much public controversy, for most part misinformation, distortion and even outright lies, be done professionally without any political pressure or consideration,” he said. Stating that he did not expect his wife’s demise to be a result of murder, Tharoor said that he has pledged his support to the Delhi Police to solve the mystery. Sunanda, who married Tharoor in 2010, had checked into The Leela Hotel in Chanakyapuri a day before her death on January 17, 2014. Tharoor’s aides said the couple had checked into the luxury hotel because of renovation work at his Delhi bungalow. The Delhi Police on Tuesday stated that a case under IPC Section 302 has been registered with regard to her death, adding that medical reports have indicated that her demise was due to poisoning. Prior to her death, Sunanda was embroiled in a spat with Pakistan-based journalist, Mehr Tarar, whom she accused of stalking her husband. Also Read: Shashi Tharoor knows who killed his wife, alleges Subramanian Swamy

Sunanda Pushkar case: No political pressure should influence probe, says Shashi Tharoor

Days after Delhi police said that Sunanda Pushkar was murdered and registered a FIR in the matter, her husband MP Shashi Tharoor has finally broken his silence.In a press conference addressed from Thrissur, former Union Minister Tharoor said that he is completely taken aback after Delhi police came to the aforesaid conclusion. He accused the media of sensationalism and said that some people are trying to ascribe motive to his silence. Tharoor however said that he doesn’t wish to engage in public debate regarding details of the case. Justifying his silence so far, Tharoor said that he didn’t want to undermine or compromise the ongoing investigation. He said that he has written a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner and has highlighted several issues in it. It may be recalled that Tharoor had written a letter in November last year to the Delhi Police Commissioner accusing that police is trying to frame him and his staff in the case. Expressing concerns in similar line Tharoor said that he is concerned about the way probe has been done so far. Congress MP said that there shouldn’t be any political pressure and no pre determined outcome should be fixed. MP said that he and his staff are willing to completely cooperate with the police probe. He said that media should show some human decency while reporting in this matter. Shortly after the short press conference, Shashi Tharoor tweeted..

Sunanda Pushkar case: Police was informed about Sunil even earlier, says Subramanian Swamy

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Friday said the police was informed even earlier that a person named Sunil had come to see Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Congress leader and former union minister Shashi Tharoor, before her death.”As far as Sunil’s character is concerned, who had come to see her just a little before Sunanda Pushkar’s death and was seen by her loyal servant, Mr. Narain, this is the matter that the police had been told about earlier by the domestic helper,” Swamy said.”The police did nothing because till the Congress Party was in power, they wanted to hush up this case. I think the police seriously began taking this matter after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took my letter, telling him that I will be compelled to go on a PIL,” Swamy said.”He also said that at that time he was very much seized of the question whether a SIT should be appointed and was waiting for a police report,” he added.Swamy further said it’s only then the police began to compile a report. “And I think, they must have done some investigation. The hotel now claims that they have given all the close circuit records to the police. So, I am sure that the person will be identified by the police. And now, they are the best persons who can make it public who this Sunil is,” he added.Tharoor is presently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Perumbayil Mana Ayurvedic resort near Guruvayur in Kerala’s Thrissur district.Managing Director of Perumbayil Mana Ayurvedic resort, Sanjiv Karpur, said that Tharoor would be discharged this afternoon.He also said Tharoor has agreed to meet the media before he leaves.”He will meet the media friends because as I was talking to him about the media people waiting here for last three days. He said definitely, on his way, definitely he will interact with you, and then, he will check out around 5 O’clock. That is what the last information,” said Karpur.Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi had earlier on Wednesday said that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed to carry forward the probe in the case.Bassi also said that the police is as of now is proceeding according to the action plan, and added that every aspect is being examined carefully.Sunanda, who married Tharoor in 2010, had checked into The Leela Hotel in Chanakyapuri a day before her death on January 17, 2014.Tharoor’s aides said the couple had checked into the luxury hotel because of renovation work at his Delhi bungalow.Prior to her death, Sunanda was embroiled in a spat with Pakistan-based journalist, Mehr Tarar, whom she accused of stalking her husband.

Zee Media Exclusive: Details of FIR filed by Delhi Police in Sunanda Pushkar case

Zee media has accessed the FIR filed in the Sunanda Pushkar case. Delhi Police has filed the case of murder under section 302 of the IPC but no one has been named in the FIR. The FIR touches on various points. It mentions that autopsy report indicated Sunanda Pushkar was poisoned. She had marks in her body caused due to scuffle except one which was an injection mark and another, a teeth bite. The autopsy report said circumstantial evidence suggested of alprazolam poisoning. After reports from CFSL, the Autopsy Board opined “the cause of death in the case is poisoning”. The poisoning was through oral route, though injectable route was not ruled out by the police. Below is the full text of the FIRTo The Duty Officer P.S Sarojini Nagar On 17.01.14 at about 09.00 pm a telephonic call was received by Insp Atul Sood, the then SHO/ Sarojini Nagar from Sh Abhinav kumar PS to Dr Sashi Tharoor, the then Minister of State of HRD, Govt. of India that Smt. Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor w/o Sh. Shashi Tharoor r/o. 97, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi has done something in Room No. 345, Hotel Leela Palace, New Delhi. On this information, Insp Atul Sood along with staff went to the spot where Smt. Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, wife of Sh. Shashi Tharoor, was found dead inside the bedroom of suite No. 345, at Hotel Leela Palace. Preliminary enquiries on the spot revealed that the deceased had checked in to this Hotel on 15.01.2014 at 1748 hours. Accordingly, DD No.33A at 9.30 PM was lodged in the Police Station Sarojini Nagar in this regard. Smt. Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor had married Sh. Shashi Tharoor on 22 August 2010. Since the deceased had died within seven years of her marriage, Sh. Alok Sharma, SDM Vasant Vihar, was informed who inspected the place of occurrence and conducted Inquest Proceedings u/s. 176 Cr.P.C. SDM/Vasant Vihar examined the witnesses and the relatives of deceased and recorded their statements. Director CFSL, Lodhi Road New Delhi, along with team also visited the scene of crime.The scene of crime was videographed/ photographed by the Crime Team/South District as well as CFSL Team. The exhibits were lifted by the CFSL Team from the spot. The scene of occurrence was preserved. The Post Mortem of the deceased was conducted at AIIMS, New Delhi on 18.01.2014 vide P.M. No. 77/14 by an Autopsy Board of three Forensic Doctors at AIIMS. The Autopsy Board opined The cause of death to the best of my knowledge and belief in this case is poisoning. The circumstantial evidences are suggestive of alprazolam poisoning. All the injuries mentioned are caused by blunt force, simple in nature, non- contributing to death and are produced in scuffle, except injury number 10 which is an injection mark. Injury number 12 is a teeth bite mark. The injuries number 1 to 15 is of various duration ranging from 12 hours to 4 days.” The Autopsy Report was handed over to SDM/ Vasant Vihar on 20.01.2014.SDM/ Vasant Vihar sent his inquest proceedings report to SHO/Sarojini Nagar with thearks ” In view of the examination of Postmortem report where the cause of death is poisoning, you are directed to further investigate the matter thoroughly and take action as per law. You are further directed to request the Director CFSL for early report of Viscera examination.” As per the directions of SDM/Vasant Vihar. The Viscera, clothes and medicines found on the spot were sent to CFSL, Lodhi Road, New Delhi on 20.01.2014 for examination. The Viscera analysis report was received from CFSL, New Delhi on 10.3.14 and the same was sent to autopsy board, AIIMS on 29.03.14. After the perusal of CFSL report, the Autopsy Board, AIIMS vide letter dt 04.04.14 sought some more information viz. Quantitative estimation of various chemicals/compounds in different viscera and exhibits; presence/absence of saliva in various swabs taken from hands and epithelial cells from nails and any other circumstantial evidence, statement, photos taken at scene of crime so as to give holistic and comprehensive opinion in the case. In compliance of the directions the exhibits/swabs were sent to CFSL, Lodhi Road, New Delhi on 07.04.14 to verify the presence/absence of Saliva and foreign material/epithelial cells and other exhibits were sent to FSL, Rohini on 17.04.14 for quantitative analysis of chemicals. The report from CFSL, Lodhi Road was received on 1.5.2014. As per the report the presence of Saliva and foreign material was not detected. The report from FSL, Rohini was also obtained on 25.8.14 regarding quantitative analysis of chemicals. Both these reports were sent to Autopsy Board, AIIMS on 28.8.14. The Autopsy Board gave subsequent medical opinion dated 27.9.14. In subsequent opinion report dt 27.09.14, the Autopsy Board opined “the cause of death in the case is poisoning”. Viscera are positive for ethyl alcohol, caffeine, acetaminophen and cotinine. Medical board reserved the comment on specific poison/chemical since there is a lot of limitation on viscera report. The Autopsy Board further required that a few of other medico legal points needs to be addressed by IO since the circumstantial information are essential for medical opinion. In response to the information sought by the Board, photographs of the scene of crime, statements of witnesses and relatives, e mails etc. were provided to the Autopsy Board on 01.10.14 with a request that the Board members may visit the scene of crime to collect any object/ material from the scene of occurrence which may be of any importance for medical examination and conclusive opinion in the post mortem report, as the scene of occurrence was still preserved. The Autopsy Board members along with CFSL expert team visited the scene of occurrence on 5.11.2014 and lifted exhibits from there. Seized exhibits were sent to CFSL, Lodhi Road for chemical examination. The report in this regard was received on 24.12.14 and the same was sent to Autopsy Board along with other relevant treatment papers related to the deceased on the same day. Latest report from Autopsy board in this matter has been received on 29.12.14, in which autopsy board has opined that all above medical documents given by I.O and detailed PM report including HPE conclude that the deceased Sunanda Pushkar was neither ill nor any disease prior to her death. She was a normal healthy individual. In view of the above analysis the death due to Natural Cause is ruled out in this case. The cause of death in this case is poisoning. The poisoning is through oral route, however injectable route too also can’t be ruled out.The autopsy board, AIIMS has now in its latest report vide no Cl.FM No 18/2014 dated 29.12.14 has concluded that it is not a natural death and the poisoning is through oral route, however injectable route too also can’t be ruled out. In view of this latest report a case u/s 302 IPC is made out. Therefore a case u/s 302 IPC be registered and the investigation be handed over to the undersigned. Copy of FIR be sent to ilaqa Magistrate and senior officers through spl messenger. Date and time of occurrence — 17.01.14 at about 09.00 pm Place of occurrence—Room No 345, Hotel Leela Palace, New Delhi Date and time of sending tehrir ——-01.01.15 at 11.05 am (V.K.P.S.Yadav) P.S Sarojini Nagar 01.01.15 कार्यवाही पुलिस अज थाना तहरीर की मौसूलगी पर मुकदमा हजा बजुर्म U/S 302 IPC कम्पयूटर द्वारा दर्ज रजिस्टर कराकर FIR Computerized Copy व असल तहरीर हवाले SHO साहब की गई व FIR की copy बजरिये Spl Messenger HC Rajesh No.830/SD सेमोटरसाईकिल द्वारा MM साहब केआवास, Jt CP/SER व DCP/South साहब के Residence पर भिजवाई गई । दीगर नकुलात बजरियेडाक अफसरान बाला की खिदमत में अरसाल होगे। ASI/ DO

Congress seeks to dismiss demands for action against Shashi Tharoor in Sunanda Pushkar case

Congress on Wednesday sought to dismiss demands for action against party MP Shashi Tharoor in the wake of Delhi Police registering a murder case into the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.”It is a legal process. There should be a sense of balance and restraint. Sensationalising it should be avoided. Every citizen of India has full right to be presumed innocent (till declared otherwise),” party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.He said certain questions could also be raised over the delay in filing the FIR under section 302 (punishment for murder) of the IPC. No one has been named as an accused in the FIR. The Congress spokesman was asked several questions on the issue including whether the party was contemplating any action against Tharoor, a former Union Minister and a Lok Sabha member from Kerala.Singhvi, who is also a senior advocate, expressed surprise over reports that BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had seen the confidential reports concerning the death of Sunanda. He said that even Sunanda’s family has not been shown the reports so far.Meanwhile, another party spokesman Anand Sharma said, “We have seen the (news) reports and it’s for the agencies to look into the matter. We should not be speculative or be presumptive. The issue has to be investigated. The Police Commissioner has said they will investigate the matter. There is no final determination.””What happened was sad and we have a rule of law and I am sure it will be upheld,” Sharma added. In yet another twist in his wife’s death case, Tharoor has accused Delhi Police of “assaulting” and “intimidating” his domestic help into “confessing” that they both killed her as police said it believes prima facie it is a case of murder.

Sunanda Pushkar case: Police trying to frame me, says Shashi Tharoor

A day after Delhi police decided to file FIR in suspicious death of Sunanda Pushkar, a letter written by Shashi Tharoor to Police Chief BS Bassi has now come into public domain. The letter, written in November 2014, accuses Delhi Police of trying to put pressure on Shashi Tharoor’s staff to frame him for murder charges in Sunanda Pushkar’s death. Tharoor wrote in his letter, they should stop harassing his staffs. He accused that his close aid Narayan was physically assaulted by the police. Tharoor accused in the letter that police is trying to force Narayan to confess that he and the Congress MP murdered Sunanda Pushkar. Delhi Police chief BS Bassi on Wednesday said they have formed an SIT to probe the Sunanda Pushkar case. “In order to do a proper investigation in this case, we have made a special team. This special investigation team will be closely monitored by Additional DCP (South). One inspector and a SHO of Sarojini Nagar are also a part of this SIT. All these people will collectively take forward the investigation,” said Bassi.“I assure that I will share with you all the necessary information required. There is no need to worry about that. The moment any relevant thing will come before us, you will be informed about that,” he added.Bassi also said that the police is as of now is proceeding according to the action plan, and added that every aspect is being examined carefully.“As far as questioning is concerned, whatever is necessary will be been done. The reports we earlier received from the medical board was an interim report. After that some clarifications were demanded and were given accordingly,” he said.“Later, on the basis of the opinion by the doctors, warranted investigation was done. Now, after filing the case, all the necessary investigation will be done. The evidence that we have to collect and the talk that needs to done will be completed according to the investigation plan we have made,” he added.Bassi further assured the media that all necessary information would be shared in a timely manner.On Tuesday, Delhi Police had registered a murder case on the basis of a medical report that concluded her death was unnatural and due to poisoning but nobody has been named as a suspect as yet.Delhi Police Chief does not rule out questioning her husband, now a Congress MP and a former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, saying “whatever necessary will be done.”Nearly a year after 51-year-old Sunanda was found dead in a luxury hotel here on January 17, Delhi Police filed the case of murder under section 302 of the IPC but no one has been named in the FIR.The medical board of AIIMS submitted a fresh report to the police on December 29 and stated that it was the injection, suspected of polonium, that may have led to Sunanda’s death. The report clearly stated it was an unnatural death.In its report AIIMS medical board had said, “The cause of death in this case is poisoning. Viscera are positive for ethyl alcohol, caffeine, acetaminophen and cotinine.” From the medical document made available to them the panel has also concluded that Sunanda did not have cardiac problem. She was not suffering from any diseases like hypertension, diabetes or tuberculosis.The panel has concluded that Sunanda was neither ill nor had any disease prior to her death. She was a normal healthy individual.The medical board had examined all the injuries on her body out of which ‘injury number 10’ has been termed as a mark caused by the needle of a syringe.The team has also dismissed the theory that Sunanda died of an overdose of Alprazolam as the viscera report is negative for the presence of the substance.Sunanda was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of January 17, a day after her Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor.The probe into the case was handed over to the Crime Branch on January 23. However, the case was transferred back to the South District police two days later on January 25.With Agency inputs

Delhi Police forms SIT to probe Sunanda Pushkar’s death, does not rule out questioning Shashi Tharoor

A day after sensational twist to the death of Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar, Delhi Police chief BS Bassi on Wednesday said they have formed an SIT to probe the Sunanda Pushkar case.“In order to do a proper investigation in this case, we have made a special team. This special investigation team will be closely monitored by Additional DCP (South). One inspector and a SHO of Sarojini Nagar are also a part of this SIT. All these people will collectively take forward the investigation,” said Bassi.“I assure that I will share with you all the necessary information required. There is no need to worry about that. The moment any relevant thing will come before us, you will be informed about that,” he added.Bassi also said that the police is as of now is proceeding according to the action plan, and added that every aspect is being examined carefully.“As far as questioning is concerned, whatever is necessary will be been done. The reports we earlier received from the medical board was an interim report. After that some clarifications were demanded and were given accordingly,” he said.“Later, on the basis of the opinion by the doctors, warranted investigation was done. Now, after filing the case, all the necessary investigation will be done. The evidence that we have to collect and the talk that needs to done will be completed according to the investigation plan we have made,” he added.Bassi further assured the media that all necessary information would be shared in a timely manner.On Tuesday, Delhi Police had registered a murder case on the basis of a medical report that concluded her death was unnatural and due to poisoning but nobody has been named as a suspect as yet.Delhi Police Chief does not rule out questioning her husband, now a Congress MP and a former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, saying “whatever necessary will be done.”Nearly a year after 51-year-old Sunanda was found dead in a luxury hotel here on January 17, Delhi Police filed the case of murder under section 302 of the IPC but no one has been named in the FIR.The medical board of AIIMS submitted a fresh report to the police on December 29 and stated that it was the injection, suspected of polonium, that may have led to Sunanda’s death. The report clearly stated it was an unnatural death.In its report AIIMS medical board had said, “The cause of death in this case is poisoning. Viscera are positive for ethyl alcohol, caffeine, acetaminophen and cotinine.” From the medical document made available to them the panel has also concluded that Sunanda did not have cardiac problem. She was not suffering from any diseases like hypertension, diabetes or tuberculosis.The panel has concluded that Sunanda was neither ill nor had any disease prior to her death. She was a normal healthy individual.The medical board had examined all the injuries on her body out of which ‘injury number 10’ has been termed as a mark caused by the needle of a syringe.The team has also dismissed the theory that Sunanda died of an overdose of Alprazolam as the viscera report is negative for the presence of the substance.Sunanda was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of January 17, a day after her Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor.The probe into the case was handed over to the Crime Branch on January 23. However, the case was transferred back to the South District police two days later on January 25.

Family, friends seek justice for Sunanda Pushkar

Family and friends of Sunanda Pushkar are in a shock after forensic reports confirmed that she was poisoned to death last year in a Delhi hotel.Clamour for justice is growing by the minute with family and friends joining the chorus in Jammu and Kashmir.“I have been saying from the beginning that it is a murder. I have been proved right today. We want justice. All those people behind this crime should be punished,” Ashok Kumar, a cousin of Sunanda, who lives in Jammu, told dna.Hailing from Bomai village of apple rich town of Sopore, Sunanda’s family migrated to Jammu after the onset of militancy leaving behind all the land, orchards and a grand house. Her father Pushkar Nath Dass retired as lieutenant colonel from the army and one of her brothers is currently serving the army.Dass clan was known for their riches, benevolence and generosity in Bomai which housed around 100 Pandit families before migration. Such was their influence that their moholla was named ‘Dass Pora’ in the apple bowl of north Kashmir. Before marrying Shashi Tharoor, Sunanda had married twice. Her first marriage to Sanjay Raina of Srinagar ended in a divorce. Later she married a Kerala businessman, Sujeet Menon, who died in an accident in Delhi. She has a son from her second marriage.“Whoever has done it should be punished severely. This is connected with politics. And the cause of death should be analysed and probed deeply,” Dr Khema Koul, a childhood friend of Sunanda, told dna.Dr Koul lives in the neighbouring Seer Jagir village of Sopore where Sunanda used to frequently visit her aunt. “We used to meet often. I want that the justice should be done and all those involved should be punished,” she said.

How AIIMS report on Sunanda Pushkar affects Shashi Tharoor

As the Delhi police registered a case of murder in Sunanda Pushkar’s death, her husband Shashi Tharoor, a former union minister and Congress MP, may be asked to join investigations soon.The Delhi police, which almost took a year before registering the case on Monday claimed that the latest medical report from AIIMS states that it was an ‘unnatural death due to poisoning.’ Until now, the police were focusing on the suicide theory in the wake of the couple’s strained relationship.Delhi police commissioner B S Bassi told reporters that, “the latest medical report from AIIMS states that it was not a natural death. She died due to poisoning. Whether the poison was given orally or injected into her body is being investigated.” The police received the AIIMS report on December 29 and would send her viscera abroad for further examination.The report once again brings to focus ‘injury number 10 — an unexplained injection mark’ found on the right wrist of Sunanda. dna was the first to report about the mysterious injury in February last year.Normally, in the case of unnatural death within seven years of marriage, the husband is arrested on dowry demand ground. “However, dowry case can’t be invoked in the case of Tharoor as no one has filed such a complaint. So, he cannot be arrested on this ground as of now,” senior Supreme Court lawyer Kamini Jaiswal told dna.However, family members of Pushkar in Jammu reiterated the allegation that Tharoor could be involved in the murder. “We already knew it wasn’t a natural death. We have been asking for a CBI probe. It was all planned. Why would Tharoor go for a meeting when she wasn’t feeling well? Even cameras weren’t working in such a big hotel,” Ashok Kumar, maternal cousin of Pushkar, told dna over phone from Jammu.He further stated he was amazed “why Pushkar’s immediate brother Rajesh was not raising the issue?”The needle of suspicion, thus, continues to hang on Tharoor’s head, as alleged by senior BJP leader Subramanyam Swami, who, from the day of the incident, has been saying that it’s a murder case.”It was not even an ordinary murder. She was capable of hurting reputations of persons at very higher places. She could have exposed the whole illegal mess in IPL,” Swami had said. While the police are yet to detail the kind of poisoning, many believe that ‘air embolism could have resulted in her death.’ In this process, an air bubble may have been injected into her vein, which could prove fatal if ‘more than 100 ml of air is injected into the venous system at rates greater than 100 ml/s.’Sunanda, 52, was found dead in her room at a five-star hotel in south Delhi on January 17, 2014. Tharoor was then minister of state for human resource development in UPA-II government. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi named Tharoor as one of the ambassadors of ‘Clean India Campaign.’Meanwhile, Tharoor, in a statement, said that he was stunned to find out that his wife was poisoned and a case of murder was registered.”Needless to say, I am anxious to see that this case is investigated thoroughly and assure the police my full cooperation. Although we never thought of any foul play in the death of my wife, we all want a comprehensive investigation and unvarnished truth should come out,” he said.He added that he and all members of Pushkar’s family wanted access to all the information on the basis of which the Delhi police had concluded that she was poisoned to death.”We have not been provided copies of the post-mortem report and other reports of the inquiry like the CFSL report till date. We repeat our request for a copy of these reports to be provided to us immediately,” said Tharoor.Earlier in October, the Delhi police had stated that the forensic report from AIIMS claiming that Pushkar died of poisoning was ‘not conclusive’ and investigations would continue.The first autopsy report, submitted to the sub-divisional magistrate in January had stated that Pushkar had died of ‘drug overdose.’ The report also said that a mild, foul-smelling gas emanated from her body during dissection. Sunanda’s body had 15 injuries, caused in 12 hours before her death. Injury number 12 was caused by a teeth bite.Dr Sudhir Kumar Gupta, who was the head of the forensic team that conducted the post-mortem, had also alleged that he was under pressure to show that Pushkar’s death was “natural.” The allegation was denied by AIIMS. At that time, Gupta was the head of AIIMS forensic department. He was removed from the post later.

Sunanda Pushkar case: Viscera samples to be sent to US or Britain

Delhi Police, which has registered a case of murder in the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar, will send her viscera samples to a laboratory either in Britain or the US to identify the poison including whether it could be radioactive isotopes that cannot be detected in Indian labs.Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi on Tuesday said that the final medical report from AIIMS has revealed that Sunanda, wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, died of poisoning but it was not clear whether it was injected or administered orally. The report also did not mention the kind or nature of the poison while mentioning a list of possible chemicals which could not be detected in Indian labs. Police has registered a case of murder against unknown persons in the case.Sources said Polonium 210, a radioactive isotope is suspected to be the poison that may have caused her death. “The viscera samples may now be sent to an FBI lab in the US or lab in UK,” said a senior police official. Earlier medical reports had mentioned 12 injury marks on Sunanda’s body including an injection mark on her hand and a teeth bite. Doctors from the medical board had visited the crime spot (suite of the five-star hotel) in the first week of November along with police officials where they examined the room and lifted samples.After analysing it, they have submitted the third and final report in the case on December 29. “The medical board had maintained that the death was unnatural and due to poisoning. However, it has clearly listed a number of poisons, most of which are radioactive chemicals which cannot be detected during forensic tests in Indian labs including thallium, polonium 210, nerium oleander, snake venom, photolabile poisons and heroin,” the sources said.A Special Team which has been formed to probe the case will investigate the case from scratch. The team is likely to question Tharoor, his relatives and personal staff along with the employees of the five-star hotel where she was found dead on January 17 last year, the sources said. It will also examine the hotel doctor who declared Sunanda dead and go through CCTV footage of the hotel. The forensic report of Sunanda’s mobile phones and laptop which were sent for tests will also be evaluated.The AIIMS medical board had, in its second report submitted to police on September 30 last year had also confirmed poisoning as the reason for her death but did not mention the type of poison. The 12-page “Subsequent Medical Board Opinion” said her brain, kidney, lungs and liver were functioning normally and that her death was caused by poisoning. The viscera report of CFSL in March last year had hinted at drug poisoning but police considered it as inconclusive. Police then asked AIIMS to re-examine the report and give its findings.Sunanda was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of January 17, a day after her Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor. The probe into the case was handed over to the Crime Branch on January 23. However, the case was transferred back to the South District police two days later on January 25. In its report AIIMS medical board had said, “The cause of death in this case is poisoning. Viscera are positive for ethyl alcohol, caffeine, acetaminophen and cotinine.” From the medical document made available to them the panel has also concluded that Sunanda did not have cardiac problem. She was not suffering from any diseases like hypertension, diabetes or tuberculosis.The panel has concluded that Sunanda was neither ill nor had any disease prior to her death. She was a normal healthy individual. The medical board had examined all the injuries on her body out of which ‘injury number 10’ has been termed as a mark caused by the needle of a syringe. The team has also dismissed the theory that Sunanda died of an overdose of Alprazolam as the viscera report is negative for the presence of the substance.”None of the treatment documents of Sunanda Pushkar has mentioned prescription of Tablet Alprax which was found at the scene of death. Two used Alprax strips of capacity 15 tablets each were recovered from the spot. However viscera report is negative for presence of Alprazolam,” the report said. The panel also suggested that police investigate a few things.”There were medicines recovered from scene of incident – hotel room – in which the deceased was found dead. Who prescribed these drugs, from where these drugs were procured and for whom these drugs were prescribed? “Exhibit number 2, having one wet purple colour top of make ‘Relax, rest Sleep’ having very faint off- white stains at six places and one wet purple colour printed lower of make “M & S”, is positive for acetaminophen, caffeine, lidocaine and Methylparaben – it is a circumstantial evidence and requires further investigation,” the report said.

Delhi Police registers Sunanda Pushkar’s death as murder, does not rule out questioning Shashi Tharoor

File photo

In a sensational twist to the death of Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar, Delhi Police today registered a murder case on the basis of a medical report that concluded her death was unnatural and due to poisoning but nobody has been named as a suspect as yet.Disclosing this, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi did not rule out questioning Tharoor, now a Congress MP and a former Union Minister.It was not clear whether she had consumed the poison on her own or it was administered forcefully or by injection, he said.”Stunned” by the Delhi Police action, Tharoor, who had married Sunanda in 2010, sought full details from the investigators on the basis of which the police action came.”I am stunned to hear that the Delhi Police have filed a case of murder against unknown persons in the demise of my late wife Sunanda. Needless to say I am anxious to see this case is investigated thoroughly and continue to assure the police of my full co-operation,” Tharoor said in a statement.While Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said registration of a case one year after the death raises question marks and suspicions. “It is a legal process. Every case need not be sensationalised,” he said.BJP spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao said the registration of a murder case has ended the confusion and hoped that the investigation will be concluded soon and the guilty prosecuted.Nearly a year after 51-year-old Sunanda was found dead in a luxury hotel here on January 17, Delhi Police filed the case of murder under section 302 of the IPC but no one has been named in the FIR. “Nobody has been named in the case,” Bassi told reporters in reply to questions.Sunanda’s death had created a sensation as it came hot on the heels of a bitter spat between the couple on Twitter over his alleged affair with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. “On 29th December, the medical board of AIIMS has given us a report. The main thing they have informed us is that the death is unnatural and not natural. Secondly, it is due to poison that could have been taken orally or injected and they have told us other things as well,” Bassi said.He said since tests to find out the quantum and nature of the poison cannot take place in India, the police have decided to send samples abroad for examination. “So it was necessary that a case be registered. We have registered a case and we will investigate,” he said in reply to questions. Asked whether Tharoor would be questioned in the light of the latest development, Bassi said, “Now as we have registered a case of murder, all those people who were connected with the case will be examined.””All the witnesses in this case were examined by the SDM, as he conducted inquest proceedings. So, all relevant witnesses were examined by him, we had also examined them under Section 174 of the Cr.PC.”Now as we have registered a case of murder, all those people connected with the case will be examined,” he said. Bassi said the AIIMS report has not specified the nature of the poison and how it was administered into her body. The substance is still not clear but the death is due to poisoning, he said.Asked why a case was being registered one year after the incident, he said the medical report which the police got initially was “interim”.The doctors needed certain information which was gathered and given to them, he said, noting after that they demanded some more information. “Now they (doctors) have given us some conclusions on the basis of available information. So on the basis of that report it was necessary to file a case and proceed further in the probe,” Bassi said.The report has not given definitive conclusion about how poison was present in the body but it has suggested more possibility of injection having been administered, he said.

Sunanda Pushkar death case: Congress questions delay, calls for fair probe

Congress leader Rashid Alvi on Tuesday questioned the delay in registering the Sunanda Pushkar death case and said that the police should investigate the matter honestly “I always say that law will take its own course, but why is the case being registered after a year? I think that the investigation should be done honestly. It is the responsibility of the police to complete the investigation,” said Alvi.”It is very surprising that after a year the police have registered this case under Section 302. There are so many questions that are arising. Why have they come to this conclusion now? This is the reason people are doubtful about their investigation,” he added. Earlier in the day, the Delhi Police had stated that a case has been registered with regard to the death of Sunanda Pushkar, adding that medical reports have indicated that her demise was due to poisoning. “The medical board gave us its report which stated that the death was unnatural and was due to poisoning. The report also speculated that the poison could have been administered orally or it could also have been injected,” Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi told the media. “Unfortunately, the quantification of poisons cannot be done in India, so we will be sending the samples abroad. In order to do so, we had to register a case; thus we have done the needful. We have registered an FIR under IPC Section 302,” he added. However, Bassi denied allegations of deliberate delays in the case, despite the FIR being registered almost a year after Pushkar’s death. “This case was looked into by the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and then the doctor had given a report which was interim in nature. Then certain information was sought by the doctor, that information was given to the medical board. The medical board examined that information and thereafter they sought some further clarifications,” he said. “Information was gathered and information was submitted. Now, a final report has been given which says that the death was not natural, death was due to poisoning,” he added. Pushkar, who married Tharoor in 2010, had checked into The Leela Hotel in Chanakyapuri a day before her death on January 17, 2014. Tharoor’s aides said the couple had checked into the luxury hotel because of renovation work at his Delhi bungalow. Prior to her death, Sunanda was embroiled in a spat with Pakistan-based journalist, Mehr Tarar, whom she accused of stalking her husband Shashi Tharoor.

Delhi police says Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar was murdered

Delhi police on Tuesday said that Sunanda Pushkar, wife of former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, who was found dead in a South Delhi hotel on January 17, 2014, was in fact murdered.Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said, “Delhi police have registered an FIR under section 302 in the Sunanda Pushkar murder case. The medical report says she was poisoned. We do not know yet whether it was oral or injected, the matter is being investigated.”He further added, “The medical boards report says that her death was unnatural and was due to poisoning. An FIR has been registered, whatever is required will be done,” Bassi said.A team of AIIMS doctors had submitted a fresh report to police on the mysterious death of Sunanda, maintaining that she died of poisoning.Delhi Police on November 18 had dubbed speculations about any foreign angle in the mysterious death of Sunanda as a “work of fiction” .Also Read: What is the exact allegation against Shashi Tharoor in the Sunanda Pushkar death case?Sunanda was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of January 17, a day after her Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor. The probe into the case was handed over to the Crime Branch on January 23. However, the case was transferred back to the South District police two days later on January 25. Delhi Police had recently begun the investigation once again from scratch and several people, including the staff of the five-star hotel, where Sunanda was found dead, and the personal staff of Tharoor, who was then a Union Minister, have been quizzed in recent days.Also Read: What is the Sunanda Pushkar controversy?The three mobile phones and a laptop of Sunanda have already been sent for forensic investigations to check whether anything was deleted from the gadgets post her death. Recently, police had also re-examined suite number 345 of Leela Palace Hotel where Pushkar was found dead.