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India: Citizens Petition to Election Commission regarding posters in trains plying from Gujarat

25 October 2013

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[the below petition was initiated and coordinated by Teesta Setalvad in Bombay]

October 19/21, 2013

To,
 
Shri V.S.Sampath
Chief Election Commissioner
vs.sampath at eci.gov.in
 
Shri. H.S.Brahma
Election Commissioner
hs.brahma at eci.gov.in
 
Dr. Nasim Zaidi
Election Commissioner
nasimzaidi at eci.gov.in

Reference: “Why is There a Conspiracy Against Sadhu Sants in Bharat?”

Dear Sirs,

It has been brought to our notice that hundreds, if not thousands of posters (Image Pasted below) have suddenly been observed in all trains leaving Gujarat state. The contents of these posters with the provocative heading “Why is There a Conspiracy Against Sadhu Sants in Bharat?” is a clearcut effort to communalise the atmosphere ahead of the state elections in over five states and also impact on the next year’s general elections.

In the poster, there is a photograph and comment published of a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Subramaniam Swamy. It appears to be indicative of being a well-planned ploy of one of the major parties in the election fray to violate sections 123a and 123b of the Representations of People’s Act (RPA) ahead of the elections. Worse it is a clear ploy also to divide peoples on lines of community identity and polarize an already surcharged atmosphere. We urge that the Election Commission kindly takes note of this development and initiate steps to curb this sinister design.

In the poster the words attributed to the BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy are as follows, “ ‘The case against sant Aasaram Bapu is bogus. This is the verdict of my legal advisors.’ Your mentors and gurus will be destroyed thus through false propaganda and baseless allegations. By the time you grasp this ploy it will be too late. Be warned!”

It may be recalled that on the eve of the last state elections in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP had officially circulated a CD that contained malevolent utterances against the Muslim minority community. The Election Commission had initiated prompt and immediate action in this regard. This is being pointed out to illustrate that there is an established pattern to this and this is not an isolated incident.

Yours sincerely,

Romila Thapar

Prabhat Patnaik

Teesta Setalvad

Javed Anand

Ravi Kulkarni

Kanishk Prasad

Suresh Bhosale

Sumedh Jadhav

Madhu Prasad

Rajen Prasad

Zaheer Sayeed

Amol Saghar

Shakuntala Kulkarni

Asma Khan

Seema Mustafa

Sukla Sen

Ram Puniyani

Hamza P.C

Harsh Mander

Ram Rahman

Harsh Kapoor

Vivek Sundara

Cedric Prakash

Trupti Shah

Rohit Prajapati

Suresh Bhat

Dr. Frazer Mascarenhas S.J.

Sikandar Azam

Hiren Gandhi

Dr. Saroopben Dhruv

http://epaper.dnaindia.com/story.aspx?id=34714&boxid=231347&ed_date=2013-10-18&ed_code=1310005&ed_page=2

Gujarat EDN

DNA 18 OCT 2013

Sai had produced fake papers to avoid jail: Cops

Pankaj Shukla/dna

A youth signs a banner marking his protest against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu at Gujarat University dna correspondent @dnaahmedabad

Surat: The noose around Narayan Sai is getting tighter. According to Surat police, the godman’s son had used fake documents while seeking anticipatory bail in a case of sexual assault filed against him. Following Surat police’s claims, the court postponed the hearing of Narayan Sai’s bail plea to Friday as it wanted the documents to be verified first.

“The documents were notarised by a Delhi-based advocate. We found that the notary who is said to have prepared the documents was undergoing treatment at AIIMS from October 9-15. We also found that the entire register of the notary was missing,” added Rakesh Asthaana, police commissioner of Surat. Narayan Sai had produced the papers on October 9 for seeking anticipatory bail. “In addition, Narayan Sai was not present before the notary and his signature was done by one of his sadhaks,” said Asthaana.

Police have now decided to file a plea before the court demanding non-bailable arrest warrant against Narayan Sai, his mother and sister. They have also decided to register a separate case for preparing fake documents and misguiding the court.

Cops have alerted their counterparts in Maharastra, Rajasthan, Harayana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and requested them to pass on any leads related to Narayan Sai. Meanwhile, to collect proofs against Asaram and Narayan Sai, a team of police officials from Surat visited Asaram ashram in Jaipur along with Mohit Bhojwani, a close aide of Narayan Sai. The officials also collected vital evidences from the ashram.

o o o

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/surat-sisters-brought-to-ats-office-for-cross-questioning/1184092/0

Gujarat EDN

IE 18 OCT 2013

Surat sisters brought to ATS office for cross questioning

Express News Service : Ahmedabad, Fri Oct 18 2013, 03:46 hrs

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Surat sisters’ sexual assault case brought the victims to the Anti Terrorist Squad office for cross-interrogation of spiritual leader Asaram Bapu and the victims on Thursday. Asaram has agreed to parts of the charges. He, however, has denied that "he forced himself upon the girl", as per his interrogation.

The girls were brought under police protection to the ATS office, along with the SIT members, for a day-long questioning. The girls reached the ATS office around 11.30am accompanied by police women.

Sources in the SIT said that the victims were first questioned in a closed room separately. Later, Asaram was questioned in a similar manner. After their independent questioning, Asaram and the victims were made to sit together for cross-questioning. The SIT officials said Asaram was shocked to see the victims. He initially expressed the displeasure to talk to police after seeing the girls. However, later, he agreed when he was told that his displeasure would be noted as non co-operation in the investigations.

According to sources, Asaram was asked to explain what had happened on the day of the incident with details of his meetings at his controversial farmhouse, Shanti Kutir, where he allegedly met the girls in the garb of "devotee special meetings".

He was asked to explain the reasons why one of the victims, the elder sister, was called at Shanti Kutir when she hadn’t sought an appointment. He was also asked whether the girl was forcefully brought into his room by the women at his ashram. A source in the SIT said, "Asaram has partly accepted the charges against him. He has said that the girl did come to Shanti Kutir late in the evening when he was doing "dhyaan", but claimed that he did not indulge in such acts with her. He also refused that the girl was given any drugs at the farmhouse as alleged, and threatened by his sevikas to stay mum.

The victims, however, brought documents to the SIT to support their FIRs. The sources also said that the victims had brought some corroborative evidence against Asaram that throw light on the activities inside his ashram and his ploy of bringing in young girls and sexually assaulting them. The documents are expected to contain details of the victims’ stay in the ashram and women who were aiding Asaram in these activities, an SIT source said.

The cross-questioning went on for over five hours. The sources added that both Asaram and the victims would be taken to Shanti Kutir for spot verification. Asaram was asked 80-odd questions. Sources said this cross interrogation has revealed names of 18 persons from the ashram who would also be questioned in the case.

Meanwhile, Asaram has been spending his day by reading newspapers and watching news at the ATS office. Apparently, he has been allowed to take his medicines and home food as he complained of old age and poor health. He also meditates for hours when he is not under interrogation by the SIT. He is questioned for three-to-four hours on an average daily, sources added.

Asaram had appeared for a potency test in Ahmedabad civil hospital on Wednesday. He had agreed to get the part one of the first level of the test cleared. He, however, refused to take drugs for the test. He objected to the test stating that he had recently given a test in Jodhpur, which had confirmed that he is "not impotent".

Asaram’s lawyer, B M Gupta, has alleged that his client had been harassed and tortured at Sola Civil Hospital during his medical examination that included a potency test. "He is a sant and he was made to undergo some embarrassing tests there. Initially, he refused to undergo the tests. Yet, they took samples of his blood, urine, saliva and hair. This was nothing but psychological, mental and physical torture," Gupta said. According to Gupta, Asaram informed him of all this "harassment" when he met him in custody.

"I have written a two-page note in a register of ATS (where Asaram is being kept in custody) while recording all this. And if I am permitted to meet him today and he complains of similar harassment, I am going to write to the Human Rights Commission in this regard," Gupta said.