The Batla House encounter, a controversial story with dire situations, is an elongated case that finally got closure. However, with the turn of events, it seems like the matter might finally close. Recent updates state that Ariz Khan, an involved person in the issue, is convicted for the murder of the Delhi Police officer, Mohan Chand Sharma leading the Delhi Police Anti-terrorism squad at the time.
What Was The Batla House Encounter?
The Batla House encounter followed the series of five bomb blasts that exploded in Connaught Place, Greater Kailash and Karol Bagh, killing 30 people and injuring over 90 people on 13th September 2008. After the first blast, the media received an IM email, claiming their involvement in the same. It stated that these outbursts were revenge for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
Six days later, on 17th September 2008, the Batla House takes place. It revolves around the Delhi Police Anti-terrorism squad led by Mohan Chand Sharma, raiding L-18 Batla House in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, Okhla area of the national capital, a probable Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist hideout. The alleged terrorists involved were: Ariz Khan alias Junaid, Atif Amin, Mohammed Sajid, Mohammed Saif and Shahzad Ahmed.
By the end of the 20-minute gunfight engagement, Mohan Chand Sharma, along with two alleged terrorists held killed, two officers ended up injured, and three other terrorists had escaped. Atif Amin and Mohammed Sajid were killed, Saif was arrested while Shahzad Ahmad and Ariz Khan escaped. The encounter, however, seemed too unbelievable and, conspiracy theories declared it a staged plan. It raised questions for the public: Why was the team lead, Mohan Chand Sharma, devoid of a bulletproof vest? In the presence of so many police officers, how was the leading inspector shot? How did three terrorists escape? With an increase in unanswered inquiries, the civilians started believing in the rumours and, it looked as if the Delhi Police had something to hide.
Controversies And Politics
A conspiracy asserted that Delhi Police wrote this story for some inspectors to win and achieve medals for promoting themselves. The two escaped terrorists indicated their involvement with the police on the agenda. Tracing back to the time, one also realises that the incident took place two months before the 26/11 attacks. In a public interview, extremist and legal advisor Prashant Bhushan brought up issues about the episode. He investigated if the police realised that the occupants of Batla House were subsidiary with the IM. On the off chance that they were, Bhushan said the police not wearing impenetrable coats was unfathomable. On the off chance that they were not, it had neither rhyme nor reason that a couple of hours after the experience, the police professed to have secured the brains of the sequential impacts. The same police force supported a series of terror movements in Northern India, scaring the whole country.
Many even thought that it was the Hindu-Muslim card played, and since there was no evidence of the accused being terrorists, the Jamia Milia University students held protests.
Rumours also discoursed an association of the government on this. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee also doubted the authenticity of the Delhi Police. She demanded a probe to lower the morale of the Anti-terrorism squad. Salman Khurshid said that Sonia Gandhi had tears in her eyes when she heard that the killing of two terrorists took place.
However, the same government, the highest gallantry award of Ashoka Chakra, was granted Mohan Chand Sharma posthumously. The public accused the government of wrongly giving the Ashoka Chakra Award to Mohan Chand Sharma, who they thought did not perish in the line of duty.
Sequence Of Events
Long after the encounter, Shahzad was arrested from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh in January 2010. A year later, on 15th February 2011, the Court frames charges against Shahzad of murder, attempt to murder conspiracy and various other sections under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In a charge sheet released on 11th February 2011, the Delhi police pronounced that the encounter was part of a probe into the serial blasts at Karol Bagh, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash and India Gate to avoid obstacles of conspiracies in trials. On 25th July 2013, Court holds Shahzad guilty for the murder of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and the assault of other police officers on the team. A life imprisonment sentence is granted to Shahzad for his offence five days later.
Current Ariz Khan’s Probation
After the Batla House encounter, Ariz Khan escaped to Nepal and took up an eatery in Nepal along with teaching. A stubborn IM, Riyaz Bhatkal, talked him into rejoining by connecting with Indian Mujahideen in Saudi Arabia. In 2018, to relaunch Indian Mujahideen, he came to India via Nepal and got arrested at the Banbasa border between India and Nepal. The police developed an insight into this through Abdul Sohan a month earlier, who revealed Khan and his plan to the police. After knowing his whereabouts, the police arrested him.
The trials went on for some time. Now, Ariz Khan, a B.Tech student from STA Engineering College in Azamgarh, is convicted by the Delhi trial court under the accusation of killing Mohan Chand Sharma. Mohan Chand receiving the award calumny finally settles. Khan is declared as the mastermind of the 2008 serial blasts across Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, in which 165 people lost their lives with 500 injured.
Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad now calls Mamata Banerjee and her measure of doubting the Delhi Police a pure deviation and deliberate attempt to favour votes. He says, “Mamata Banerjee in 2013 raised suspicion over Delhi Police and called the incident at Batla House to be a ‘fake encounter’. She had even demanded a judicial probe into the matter while she had claimed in 2018 that she will quit politics if the case and the findings are true.”
He also holds charges against Sonia Gandhi and Salman, saying, “There was conscious, deliberate and consistent attempt to cast serious doubt over the authenticity of Batla House incident designed to weaken the morale of Delhi Police and give clear support to terrorist and their design for pure vote bank politics.”.
Further quoting him, “You might have listened to Salman Khurshid say that Sonia Gandhi had tears in her eyes when she got to know that two terrorists have been killed.”. Prasad seeks an apology from Mamata Banerjee, Sonia Gandhi and Salman Khurshid for the same.
The Court Verdict
While calling it the “rarest of rare” cases during their judgement, Ariz Khan is awarded the death penalty for the murder of inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, offences and crimes involved in engaging with the terrorist party. A penalty of ₹11 lakh gets imposed on Ariz, and ₹10 lakh is to be deposited right to Mohan Chand Sharma’s family. The judge said that “I feel the fine of Rs 10 lakh is insufficient. Hence, I am referring the matter to Delhi Legal Services Authority for the award of additional compensation.”.
All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021
On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.
Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)
With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.
Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.
The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.
लोकसभा में आज, राष्ट्रीय खाद्य प्रौद्योगिकी, उद्यमिता और प्रबंध संस्थान विधेयक, 2021 (निफ्टेम विधेयक, 2021) को पारित किया गया।
इस विधेयक के पारित होने पर इससे जुड़े हर व्यक्ति को बधाई देता हूँ और साथ ही खाद्य प्रसंस्करण से जुड़े छात्रों को भी बधाई देता हूँ। @MOFPI_GOI
— Pashupati Kumar Paras (@PashupatiParas) July 26, 2021
Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained
Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.
The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.
Pegasus Spyware and India
According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.
This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.
Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.
According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.
The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’
This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.
Pegasus Spyware and World.
In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.
At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden. After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.
If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.
Modi Cabinet 2.0: Young and Dynamic Leadership or Otherwise
On the 7th of July, the union government announced the biggest cabinet expansion in the 7 years of NDA rule. The recent expansion increased the size of the Council of Ministers from 53 to 77. About 43 new ministers were sworn in, 15 of which were Cabinet Ministers and 28 Ministers of State (MoS). This is the first cabinet overhaul in the second term of NDA governance.
Experts however claim that the new cabinet expansion is a pre-emptive measure to balance electoral formulae in different states ahead of the 2022 State Assembly elections. It is also conjectured that the reshuffle comes as rectification of prolonged criticism about BJP’s governance in the past 2 years, including the Healthcare management during the Pandemic.
The Performance Paradox
This recent cabinet expansion is a report card of the BJP government’s performance in the last 2 years. Major ministerial changes, such as the resignation and replacement of Dr. Harshvardhan as the Health Minister indicate a confession of their mismanagement of the pandemic.
He has been replaced by Mansukh Mandaviya, a 2 time Rajya Sabha MP who has also been awarded by the UN for initiatives in Women’s healthcare in the past. His appointment as the Health Minister is one of hope for BJP, to change and streamline (a.) the COVID-19 Pandemic response and (b.) BJP’s image in the name of healthcare management.
On the contrary, Anurag Thakur’s promotion from MoS Finance to a Cabinet Minister defies all logical explanations for awarding performance. Not only has India’s economic condition worsened under his management, his controversial statements like “Desh ke Gadaaro ko…” do not present a strong case for him. His appointment is a political investment by BJP in Himachal Pradesh’s state elections next year which happens to be Thakur’s home state.
Similarly, Sitharaman’s finance ministry has remained untouched, after historical mismanagement of our Finance capabilities. All of this reflects a selective approach adopted by BJP, which is one of political hesitation and hyperopic ignorance.
BJP’s Political Calculator
Apart from the ‘punishment’ narrative, the new cabinet expansion has also given an insight into BJP’s political planning. This expansion has incorporated key leaders from several states that go to elections next year. Moreover, it has also been carefully planned to cover the losses BJP has incurred in the past two years.
As a reward for dismantling the elected Madhya Pradesh government and tipping scales in BJP’s favor, Jyotiraditya Scindia was appointed as the Cabinet Minister for Civil Aviation (a post held by his father as well in ’91) almost after 3 years.
On the contrary, Pashupati Kumar Paras got an early reward for breaking down Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) representation in Lok Sabha. He was appointed as the Union Minister for Food Processing, after the attempted coup on Chirag Paswan’s leadership.
Sarbananda Sonowal, who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sharma as the Chief Minister of Assam after the fresh elections, was also awarded a berth in the Cabinet. It is conjectured that this development was in talks ever since Himanta Biswa Sharma was chosen as the CM.
As the Uttar Pradesh elections near, BJP also made sure to improve representation from the state. Major appointments such as Niranjan Jyoti (MoS Food Processing), Anupriya Patel (Mos Commerce and Industry), and Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma (MoS MSME) were made majorly because of their heavy support base in UP.
Following the same lead, Ajay Bhatt from Uttarakhand was appointed as MoS Defence and Tourism. As seen earlier, BJP has made major organizational changes in Uttarakhand which goes to elections next year.
In the mirage of calculated placements and image reconstruction, BJP has hit a few rights with this organizational change. The new cabinet includes a maximum number of women to have ever served in a Union Cabinet, a first in a nation with largely patriarchal tendencies.
The cabinet has also tried to focus on bringing people with commendable background experience and education on board. Ashwini Vaishnav, former IAS and an alumnus of Wharton School have been given major ministries such as Railways, Communications, and IT. Similarly, Anupriya Patel who has been given the Commerce and Industry as an MoS has also served as an educator at Amity University.
Moreover, the diffused reliance on regional strength has become the overarching theme in this cabinet reshuffle. Even though the ruling party intends to balance the voter dynamics, this regional unity has become something to watch out for.
Yet, the big story remains the ouster of major politicians who have served loyally and faithfully to this government. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Jaavedkar, and Dr. Harshvardhan are major losers in this dynamic reshuffle. While the current government has tried to modernize the leaders of this nation, it has set a new precedent that loyalty is not the most critical virtue anymore; Election Commission’s schedule is.
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