Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CPI questions India's 'silence' on UN report on SL civil war

New Delhi: In the wake of reports that a UN panel has found "credible allegations" that war crimes were committed during the conflict in Sri Lanka, the CPI Wednesday questioned India's "studied silence" on the issue accusing it of "partnering" with Colombo during the last phase of the war.

Party National Secretary D Raja said India "stands accused" in the eyes of the international community for providing "military and monetary" assistance to Sri Lanka in the war during which thousands of "innocent Tamil civilians" lost their lives.

"Why is the Government of India not commenting on the report, excerpts of which have been carried in the media? What is India's stand on the alleged war crimes committed in the war during which it supported the Sri Lankan Government?" he asked.

 The high-level panel, appointed by UN chief Ban Ki- moon last year, has concluded that there are "credible allegations" that thousands of civilians were killed and war crimes were committed in the last phase of the 30-year-old bloody civil war, media reports have said.

Raja said since Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself had admitted that war against LTTE would not have been won without the support of India, the UPA Government has an obligation to spell out its stand on the alleged war crimes.

"India never denied reports that it supported Sri Lanka in the war. It is a fact that India provided military support to the Sri Lankan Government. India was an active partner in the war against ethnic Tamils there," he said, adding that DMK, which is part of the UPA, should also respond.

Raja said questions could be raised now on India's stand towards human rights violations in the wake of the report which has blamed the Sri Lankan Government along with LTTE for civilian deaths.

He said India has to "come clear" on this as it will serve as a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council for the next two years and also it aspires to become a permanent member of the panel.

"The killing of Tamil civilians was a genocide. It drew all-round condemnation from European countries like the UK and France, the US, Canada and Australia. India never condemned the violations because it was a party to the war," he said.

Raja also alleged that India played a proactive role in "suppressing" the voice of the international community over the "war crimes" committed during the last phase of the civil war.

"This was rightly exposed in the WikiLeaks cable. India never accepted the views of the international community on the issue. India never took up the issue at global fora and at regional fora and it betrayed Sri Lankan Tamils," he said.

Raja also accused the Congress-led UPA of not making any "sincere effort" to resolve the ethnic question through political means that will guarantee the co-existence of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

India has not influenced the Sri Lankan Government to resolve the issue immediately by amending the Constitution, he said and asked New Delhi to make sure that the assistance provided by it to Colombo for rehabilitation of Tamil civilians is used in a proper manner.

No takers for Rs 49 cr 'poll money' in TN

Chennai: A staggering sum of Rs 49 crore ($11 million) seized during raids ahead of the Tamil Nadu elections still lies unclaimed. A pointer to the goings-on in the shadowy world of money and freebies peculiar to the state, say some, while others believe this is a pan-India malaise.

Huge amounts of unaccounted money were seized by a flying squad consisting of officials of the Election Commission and the income tax department prior to the April 13 Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. According to officials, a total of Rs 54 crore was seized during the raids, of which only Rs 5 crore was claimed back. There were no claimants for the remaining Rs 49 crore.

Both the ruling DMK-led front and the opposition AIADMK-led alliance had offered a series of freebies, ranging from free rice to free laptops, in the battle to lure voters. The open display of money power in the elections led to dismay across the country. However, several people, including politicians, said the cash-for-vote phenomenon was not special to Tamil Nadu.

According to former state chief electoral Officer Naresh Gupta, cash for votes is a major problem in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and in the union territory of Puducherry.

K Srinivasan, a retired banker, said it was unfair to put the blame on Tamil Nadu alone.

"How can you say Tamil Nadu shamed India? Cash-for-vote is not new to the country. We have seen MPs and MLAs being induced to vote for or against the government," Srinivasan said.

"If at all blame should be laid, then it should be on the political parties - national and regional - who played on the vulnerabilities of the poor," Srinivasan said.

  DMDK leader Panruti S Ramachandran asserted: "Bribing the voters is not new to India and Tamil Nadu. But the scale got changed during the Thirumangalam by-elections when voters got huge money."

The DMDK, led by actor-politician Vijayakant, is part of the AIADMK-led alliance.

According to a US diplomatic cable brought out by WikiLeaks and published by The Hindu newspaper, the DMK wooed the voters of Thirumangalam near Madurai with an offer of Rs 5,000 to vote for the party during the 2009 by-election. At that time, M.K. Alagiri, son of the party chief and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, had even predicted more or less accurately the margin of victory for the DMK candidate.

Old-timers recall that the founder of the DMK CN Annadurai used to extoll people not to accept even Rs 5 as an inducement.

Now, according to Election Commission officials, a majority of the cases for carrying unaccounted money lodged in the run-up to last week's elections were against DMK officials.

But the blame game continues.

DMK MP TKS Elangovan said: "It was the AIADMK under Jayalalithaa that started the money game. The party promised building of temples in villages in exchange for vote. The AIADMK bribed voters by hiding gold nose ring inside laddu and distributed to voters.

Karti Chidambaram, Congress leader and son of union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, expressed his frustration.

"At a time when people elsewhere in the world are giving up their lives to secure voting rights, the people of Tamil Nadu should ponder whether they should squander their privilege by accepting cash from candidates fighting an election," Chidambaram said.

While politicians debate the issue, Saroja, a domestic help in the city, wonders what is wrong if politicians share some of the spoils with the people.

"Be it Ram or Ravan who rules the land, our condition will not change. Neither are the politicians going to end their corruption. At least during elections they are sharing some of their spoils with the people," Saroja said.

According to former election official Gupta, the election manifesto of political parties can also be brought under the model code of conduct to stop the offers of freebies. Former chief election commissioner TN Seshan had called electoral corruption to the root of all political corruption in the country.

Subramanian Swamy to move Supreme Court if Prime Minister does not give nod for Sonia prosecution

Chennai, Apr 19: Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy today said he would move the Supreme Court if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not give sanction within three months to prosecute Congress President Sonia Gandhi under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

 Dr Swamy said he had made out a prima facie case on documentary and circumstantial evidence that Ms Gandhi abetted Italian businessman and close family friend Ottavio Quattrocchi to obtain an illegal commission in the Bofors Gun Purchase deal.

Talking to newspersons here, he said ''the law is very clear that the Prime Minister should grant permission.

''If he did not grant the sanction by July 15, my lawyer-wife would move the Supreme Court and I would pursue the case after my return from Harvard in August,'' Dr Swamy said.

Stating he had submitted a 206-page petition, seeking sanction to prosecute Ms Gandhi under Sections 11 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, he said the Prime Minister had to decide on the petition within three months.

Dr Swamy claimed he had enclosed sufficient evidence to prosecute Ms Gandhi and the Prime Minister had to decide whether he had made out a prima facie case to prosecute her.

The Prime Minister could not send his reports for any opinion or seek the assistance of his officials.

The Prime Minister's sanction was necessary as Ms Gandhi, being the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council, was a public servant. The post was equal to Cabinet rank.

Jayalalithaa urges EC to take steps to protect law and order

AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa. File photoAIADMK chief Jayalalithaa on Wednesday accused the ruling DMK of “disturbing” law and order in Tamil Nadu and appealed to the Election Commission of India to take all steps to protect it.
“Ironically, those who are supposed to guard law and order in the State are disturbing it,” she said in a statement.

Mentioning some incidents across the State, including one where a woman sub-inspector was allegedly attacked by a DMK functionary in Nagapattinam district, Ms. Jayalalithaa said, “If this is the case with a police SI, what will happen to common people?”

The Election Commission should take action to protect law and order in the State, she added.

Ms. Jayalalithaa had on Tuesday demanded that the EC take “sufficient safeguards” including deploying Central paramilitary forces during counting of votes on May 13 and record the entire process.

Videograph counting process: Jayalalithaa

AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa has urged the Election Commission to deploy paramilitary forces at all counting centres in the State and have the entire counting exercise videographed to thwart potential malpractice.
In a letter to Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar, Ms. Jayalalithaa also wanted the counting process to commence in the presence of an observer deputed by the Election Commission, and the observer's presence ensured throughout the exercise until the declaration of result by the Returning Officer.
“The Election Commission is requested to deploy paramilitary forces at all the counting centres in the State in order to ensure that law and order is maintained from the commencement of counting of votes till the declaration of election (result) is made by the Returning Officers. Paramilitary forces may be deployed to prevent any intruder without a valid identity card from entering the counting centres,” the letter said.
Ms. Jayalalithaa also wanted the entire counting process, from the removal of seal of each Electronic Voting Machine through the counting of votes in each EVM, to be videographed.
“The result of the counting of votes of each round should be displayed on the notice board in the presence of all candidates and only after the result of one round is displayed should the counting of votes of the next round commence in order to ensure that there is transparency in the counting process,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said.
She urged the Election Commission to consider her appeal on an urgent basis and issue appropriate instructions.

Engineer immolates self for Sri Lankan Tamils' cause

MDMK general secretory Vaiko enquiring about the burns suffered by Subbulakshmi, mother of an engineer who immolated himself, at Sundaresapuram. Photo: A. Shaikmohideen
A young engineer from a poor family of a sleepy hamlet in Tirunelveli district immolated himself on Monday, apparently as an expression of sympathy to Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Though 23-year-old R. Krishnamurthy, an electrical and electronics engineer from Sundaresapuram under Kuruvikulam police station limits, had not discussed anything about the Sri Lankan issue with his friends, according to his cousin Suresh, also an engineer, he was very disturbed after coming to his birthplace from Rajasthan, where he works.
Suicide note
The suicide note stated that the Tamils, who were tortured by the Sinhalese, should be compensated adequately.
“The new government in Tamil Nadu should not assume office until a separate State for Sri Lankan Tamils is ensured.”
The letter admired the “valour” of Muthukumar, who killed himself in Chennai in protest against the killing of Sri Lankan Tamils.
According to Krishnamurthy's mother R. Subbulakshmi, her son asked her to prepare tea around 5 a.m. Even as she was preparing it, Krishnamurthy poured petrol and immolated himself. She tried to save her son and suffered burns.
“Even after sustaining serious burns all over the body, my son was saying that the Tamils in Tamil Nadu should do something to save the Sri Lankan Tamils,” she said.
Arrangement for mother's treatment
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko, who met the bereaved family at Seegampatti on Tuesday morning, made immediate arrangements for taking Ms. Subbulakshmi to a Madurai-based multi-specialty hospital.

Web cameras in all counting centres

Praveen KumarFor the first time in a general election to the Assembly, a web camera would be kept on each table at every counting centre, according to Praveen Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer.

The camera will record what is shown on display panels of electronic voting machines from the beginning to the end continuously. The images captured by the camera would be stored in compact discs, which would later be kept in the safe custody of District Election Officers.

At the time of announcement of every round of counting, the details of votes polled would be shown on the screen of the laptop to be kept on the table and their summary will be displayed on notice boards of counting halls. There would be, on an average, 10 to 15 tables in every counting centre.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Election Commission acting against DMK, alleges Alagiri

Chennai, Apr 18 : Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister M. K. Alagiri on Monday alleged that the Election Commission is acting against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, with the aim of causing its defeat in the Assembly elections.

Talking to reporters at Chennai Airport, Alagiri said: "The Election Commission is trying to defeat the DMK and is working against the party.

"As I said earlier, the Election Commission had worked in such a manner to ensure that we are not back in power," he added.

He further said the DMK would definitely come to power, this time as well.

Currently, the DMK and its alliance partner Congress party are ruling the state while the main opposition is All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

The Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu concluded on Wednesday along with the Kerala and Puducherry.

Tamil Nadu registered over 70 percent of turnout in the polls.