Tag Archives: Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla

Nitish: Prisoner of Prohibition

Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla

bihar-prohibitionBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s refusal to learn from the decision of Patna High Court striking down the notification on prohibition for being ultra vires the Constitution defies political reasoning. By replacing a law with a more draconian notification, he braved out the legal setback to show his commitment to prohibition.

Nitish is much too seasoned a politician to be unaware that there is every likelihood of the notification getting struck down. Question arises: Why did he persist with a notification that bound to be struck down by court? One of the plausible explanation for the Chief Minister veering into the theatre of absurd is his attempt to make prohibition an emotive issue so as to brand himself a champion of a cause dear to women.

Women almost single handedly voted Nitish back to power in Bihar in the last Assembly election. If women can vote for him in a state, why they cannot form a vote bank in another state? This is a flawed presumption but ambition is often blinding. Besides, Nitish has had enough of Bihar and wants to land in Delhi. Modi’s advent to powr at the Centre has shown him the path and Nitish now wants to cultivate a vote bank or a political constituency independent of caste and community across the country to fulfill his political ambition.

Unlike Yadavas, his own castemen- the Kurmis are only 4.3 % of the state population and can’t therefore dictate the state politics. On the other hand, a vote bank of Yadavas (14% of state population) and Muslims has made Lalu Yadav more powerful than a Chief Minister despite a conviction in the fodder scam case and a sullied image in the eyes of the common man. The Rashtriya Janata Dal arm-twisted Nitish Kumar into facilitating the bail of Mohd Shahabuddin, the controversial RJD leader and former MP from Siwan. Ironically, it was Nitish Kumar who had fast-tracked the cases against the Siwan MP during his previous NDA regime when conviction and consequent sentences barred Mohd Shahabuddin from contesting the polls. Aware of changed political equation in the state now, Md Shahabuddin stung Nitish Kumar calling him a leader of circumstances besides refusing to accept him as leader. Nitish Kumar squirmed and tried to get even with him in Supreme Court by challenging his bail. Although the Supreme Court has sent Shahabuddin back to jail, it made extremely caustic remarks against selective amnesia of Nitish Kumar. Patna High Court also struck down the prohibition law. Instead of tempering his approach, Nitish braved it out with a much more draconian law. He may lose the prohibition law in the court but wants to win the war of perception.

Nand Kishore Yadav of Bharatiya Janata Party leader and leader of opposition in Bihar assembly told this columnist over phone, “the prohibition is a bee in his bonnet. I told him during the debate in the state assembly that we support the cause but it is not a law and order problem that you can solve with a law. It is a social evil instead and therefore needs a sustained socio-cultural holistic approach. But that is a long shot. It is also a tough job. In a tearing hurry, Nitish wants an easy way, a short cut. But the court may strike down the law.”

When asked if Nitish is feigning ignorance of the judiciary, the BJP leader said, “he appears to believe that right to legislate is invested with the legislature alone. Once it receives the consent of the Governor, the Bill is a law.” So far so good. Right to drink is not a fundamental right, enshrined in the constitution. At the same time, punishment can’t be disproportionate to a crime committed. Whatever the merit of the case, a chief minister can’t play cat-and-mouse game with the judiciary for long and faces the risk of getting hauled up after a while for contempt of court.

The BJP leader suggested that Nitish Kumar won’t mind being pulled up for contempt of the court. “He may evoke sympathy to play a tragedy hero,” suggested Yadav. But the plot doesn’t seem to be working for Nitish. In desperation, he exaggerated the role of prohibition by giving a Chinese spin a couple of days ago, with the assertion: “prohibition can be the best tool to counter China,”.

Nitish Kumar’s reading of the social scene also is flawed. First, everyone who drinks doesn’t necessarily beat his wife. Besides, the phenomenon is confined mainly to the lower middle class, which means that Nitish Kumar’s purported base will be a limited one.

Pakistan will soon blow up into pieces says Baloch freedom fighter



25-year-old Mazdak Dilshad Baloch appears much more assured and confident than his age. Living in Canada since 2014, Mazdak and his wife arrived in India a few months ago to build public opinion in favour of freedom struggle for Balochistan. He spoke to Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla in an exclusive interview. Edited excerpts:

Are you in favour of talking to Pakistan?

No. We are opposed to talking to Pakistan as long as Balochistan is occupied by its army. Until we are an equal party, we will not talk. If the Pakistan army withdraws for a neutral force/power to monitor and oversee, we can talk to Pakistan and hold them accountable for their misdeeds.

China is investing huge in CPEC (China–Pakistan Economic Corridor). How do you look at it?

China is exploiting the resource-rich Balochistan. It is unacceptable to us. CPEC is a project that stands to connect China’s largest province Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan. It has got China’s boots on our ground. Balochistan is endowed with rich but largely unexploited reserves of copper and gold.

Pakistan has deployed 15,000 personnel, mainly serving army soldiers, to secure the corridor. China has been helping Pakistan carry genocide in Balochistan since ‘50s. In return, Pakistan awarded China with CPEC to loot the resources of Balochistan to the tune of 16 kg gold every day. It is a military corridor to give China naval base in Gwadar port. Instead of empowering us, it is killing us. Our consent is must. Our resources should be in our possession. Our land should be in our hands. Nobody should take our resources. We are under occupation of Pakistan. 150,000 people had been evicted from the route of the trade corridor by security forces to clear the way for roads and other infrastructure.

Would you call upon China to immediately shelve this project?

We have asked China to stop this. Naela Quadri Baloch has written a letter to the mothers/women in China. Mothers are all of the same kind. She reached out to the mothers in China to stop the genocide perpetuated by their government. But it has fallen on deaf ears. It serves China’s interest to kill us.

Would you call upon India to intervene and free Balochistan from Pakistan in the same way as India freed Bangladesh in 1971?

Yes, we will be happy whichever way India wishes to help us get freedom: militarily or diplomatically or otherwise. We need help at all levels. We need India’s moral and diplomatic support. We need India to internationally lobby for us at UN forums. If India directly intervenes to liberate us, we will be too happy. We will ask for it, because we are dying.

Do you support India’s surgical strike in PoK?

Yes. PoK is illegally occupied by Pakistan in much the same way as Balochistan is. Kashmir is burning because of Pakistan’s proxies and jihadis. India is much entitled to surgical strikes. We will welcome India to extend the similar surgical strikes into Balochistan and save us. More and more people are kidnapped and killed there every day. But the world remains a mute spectator.

Do you think Pakistan is a terrorist state?

Pakistan is very much a terrorist state. It is a manufacturer and exporter of terrorism. Terrorism is central to their economy policy. Pakistan is just four districts of Punjab. Sind wants independence, so does Balochistan. Islamabad westwards is dominated by the Afghans. Only Punjab and the army are left of Pakistan. It is not a country but a concentration camp to hold different nations by force and brutal butchery. Pakistan is an artificial country. Why would it have got torn in 1971 otherwise? Bangladesh bore the brunt. One lakh women got raped in Bangladesh. It is not an organically evolved nation. Pakistan was conceived in Cambridge as a proxy by the British to rule the whole subcontinent. We had been independent when Pakistan came into being. Balochistan became an independent country on August 4, 1947 and the declaration was made on August 11, 1947, days before Pakistan was created.

But we were occupied because they wanted to exploit our rich resources, water and land.

Can Pakistan hold for long?

No, it can’t. The pressure is building up and Pakistan will soon blow up into pieces. The more force is used to suppress, the louder will be the reaction. The day the world stops their financial, diplomatic support and put sanctions against Pakistan, it will disappear from the world map. Pakistan had created local al-Qaida and ISIS groups in the region, in the same way that it had once created al-Shams and al-Badr in Bangladesh.

Only 3 per cent people participated in last elections held in 2013 in Balochistan. How much support does it mean for the Baloch freedom movement? There is a government in the province after all. How much support do you enjoy among the common people?

It is not a tribal movement but a political movement led by the masses. The common man identifies himself with this movement. Three per cent participation is an axiomatic truth. People who participated in the 2013 polls had nothing to do with the freedom movement. They drew benefits from Pakistan. But 97 per cent people didn’t even cast their votes. If Pakistan had even an iota of faith in democracy, it would have granted us freedom. Democracy allows the dissenting people to choose their land. Brexit is an example. Europe is truly democratic. But we are held by force. We have been a free country, free nation for 705 years.

How can the world be sure of your claim to enjoy support of Baloch people for the freedom movement?

No international media or international inspection team is allowed by Pakistan to enter into Balochistan. That is a big handicap. People are allowed to travel only up to Karachi or Lahore. So, we have only our struggle and movement to prove the point. Three per cent people participated in the last elections held in Balochistan in 2013. It adds to the evidences. That is why Pakistan and China have joined hands in desperation to crush our movement. But they will fail and we will win. We have grown stronger without any support from anywhere of any kind.

Majdak Dilshad Baloch (R) with Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla
Majdak Dilshad Baloch (R) with Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla

Historically, whom do you blame for your slavery and dependence?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, of course. He backstabbed us in 1948 even though Balochistan had paid Jinnah as much gold as he weighed against his fees as a legal counsel for getting back the areas of Balochistan under lease with the British. When the Balochistan approached India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru for help, he refused to help. Still, Balochistan refused to join Pakistan, only to be attacked. That attack has since continued till now.

Brahamdagh Bugti, the Switzerland-based leader of the Balochistan Republican Party, another major separatist outfit, has approached India for political asylum? Should India accept to undo the mistake committed by Nehru?

The leaders are different and so are the political circumstances. Political asylum should be a matter of policy and not a favour to an individual. I request India to formulate an asylum policy for Baloch freedom fighters. It will build a formal bridge of friendship between India and Balochistan. Always a friendly country, India is known for helping the people in distress. First Baloch leader in 70 years to come to India, Naela Quadri Baloch publicly asked India for help for freedom of Balochistan.

Did she meet PM Modi or Home Minister Rajnath Singh for help?

I don’t know. But she has been meeting several political leaders in India. India and independent Balochistan are in a win-win situation. Free Balochistan will be secular, democratic, peace-loving, nuclear free, terror-free, pluralistic, and gender-balanced. India needs an independent Balochistan. An independent Balochistan will be a friend of India and will serve India’s interests. Unlike Pakistan, we want to see a strong and prosperous India. We don’t want to see Pakistan at all. PM Modi has been kind to us. He has listened to us and spoke about us from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15. Sushma Swaraj followed it up in the UN. His team is working on it. As for Bugti’s asylum plea, it is between him and India to decide.

Pakistan accuses India of funding your movement through RAW, IB. Is it true? Who funds you?

I have never heard of it. I don’t know of any such help. If we had received any kind of help from India, we would have been free long ago. We have not yet got any help from India. But our leaders have come to India for the first time, publicly asking for help. We hope India will help this time. We are asking for help openly, publicly. We are not hiding. Pakistan tries to snub our movement by putting several tags on us. But we will openly admit if India lends any help. It is our right to ask for help. Whoever supports us, we will publicly welcome.

Is there going to be a Balochistan government-in-exile? How soon will it take the shape?

A couple of days ago, Naela Qadri and Baloch leaders in Afghanistan met in Kabul over this issue. They have agreed to form a Baloch government-in-exile wherever it is possible, terming it as need of hour. Besides, they also called upon Afghanistan to join India to help Balochistan become independent. Much depends upon who supports our government-in-exile. Because support will also mean standing up to the Pakistan, the terror capital of the world. Pakistan plays on fears of the world. Bluff is central to their policy.

Modi, OROP and RSS

Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla

Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla2
Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarification on OROP appears to be goaded by RSS pressure day before yesterday. A wise step. It was clear only Modi could have overruled Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The nuances can wait but battle of perception had to be won.

Whether Satbir Singh, who has led the veteran’s strike, returns to Jantar Mantar or not, Modi has checked the losing opinion even among the veterans. Some even jumped in joy. BJP almost had lost its nationalist credentials. Modi saved the blushes just in nick of time.

But the irony, the Prime Minister needs RSS’ field report for corrective measures. Strange that the govt despite good show is being seen first as anti-farmer and now anti-soldier.

Bobbie Jamwal
Bobbie Jamwal

Updated: Sep 7, 2015 @ 07:33 ↓

Bobbie Jamwal, well known InfoTech, Infrastructure, Eco-Technologies, HealthCare and Aviation consultant from Delhi responded to this column by Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla by observing; ” Thank God better sense prevailed and the RSS had to intervene.”

The righteous Indian soldier would not have forgiven this country’s rulers for treating them like the way they did in these past 40 years and particularly in the last 80 days of ‘Dharna,’ not heard of anywhere in the world that a Veteran who served his country well had to go on a hunger strike for his dues and parity. They are honorable men and deserve a hearing with respect, observes Jamwal



“Israel doesn’t rule out attacking Nuclear Iran”

Iran nuclear programOhan Hosrandi, spokesman to Israel embassy in India, says that Israel is not so much worried about its own isolation as about threat to global peace by Iran emerging as a N power after deal with P5+1 at US’ bidding. He didn’t rule out attacking N Iran either, when asked a specific question. Europe has opened up to explore business opportunity with Iran. Even Saudis who made a common cause with Israel over N deal seem to have been persuaded by US to sing a different tune. Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla speaks to Ohan Hosrandi.

Excerpts of the exclusive interview:

Q. US Jews appear divided over support to Iran N deal. Steven M Cohen supports the deal. But American Jewish Committee director David Harriss opposes. According to a survey, 57 % of US Jews want Israel to start a negotiation with Iran. Majority supports the deal.
A. The Jews in the US are as divided over the Iran’s Nuclear deal as the Jews in other country. The Jews are also as divided as any other community in the world. The Christians or Muslims in W Asia or any other country are divided over this deal.This deal was called by many including the media and several political analysts as a dawn of new era. I can agree with their view that the deal is dawn of new era. But I don’t think that this will necessarily be anerafor good, in that sense. Israeli Government believes that this is a bad deal. Ofcourse the opinion is divided across the world. The deal only partially freezes Iran’s N plan. The deal will render Iran completely free and independent to develop N weapon after 10 years. Iran is not forced to dismantle any centrifuge developing site it might have. The deal unfortunately for the first time recognises Iran as capable of N military activities inspite of several examples in the pastabout Iran’s defiance of world community, UN. Iran has been found capable of N military capabilities at undisclosed sites, underground sites like Fordow.

Q. Like Parachin…
A. Yes, Parachin, Natanz. Iran doesn’t enjoy confidence of the world community. It will have implication not just on Iran’s N ambitions but also on regional security, its proxy wars in the region. We see Iran giving major fillip to terrorism across the world such as Assad in Syria, Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon. Just a couple of days ago, Iranian Government pledged to keep providing help to its friends in the region.

Q. Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini has also reiterated …
A. Yes, Khameini did say that. Unfortunately, Iran has done this in past too when they have sanctions forced upon them. I can’t imagine what they will do when the sanctions have been lifted and billions of dollars have found their way to their coffers. They will be free to do whatever they want to.I don’t believe the region will be peaceful.

Q. So Israel doesn’t want to make peace with Iran even if majority of US Jews want it according to a survey.
A. Our problem is with the regime in Iran and not with the people there. They have repeatedly threatened Israel. It is a regime that every a few days, every a few weeks chanted death to Israel, death to US. Just when the negotiations were in final stage, Iran supreme leader Khameini led a huge rally where the people chanted death to US, death to Israel. It is a regime that doesn’t encourage stability. It will be extremely reckless of the world community to facilitate or allow this kind of regime, not necessarily now but 10 years later, to develop N weapons.

Q. There are some voices from within Israel itself like Avigdor Liberman who criticised Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of Iran N deal. He said that Netanyahu is incapable of stopping Iran N deal and that he should be replaced. He claimed that he could make a better Prime Minister than Netanyahu as far as preventing Iran from getting a N deal or weapon is concerned. Is it a plain politics?
A. Israel is an open, free society. Every person has a right to express his opinion. Avigdor Liberman is a former foreign Minister and a part of the former Government. Now he is in the opposition. He is more than free to express his opinion. There are 8 million people and everyone in Israel is entitled to his view not only over Iran N deal but also over any other issue. As a politician he may have felt it wise to say so. There is a strong consensus in Israel over this deal. Whether it is the opposition or the previous or current government, Israel is one in believing that Iran can’t have N weapon capabilities. We understand it well that Iran will develop N weapon capabilities and graduate to N military capabilities. That is a threat not only to Israel but also to region and the whole world.

Q. So, Liberman is a cry in wilderness. Does he represent any sane voice in Israel?
A. (Smiles) I didn’t say that. He represents a lot of people. He is part of the opposition. There may be people in agreement with him. Since we are in the power with support from majority of the people in Israel, we have our own policy and view. But I am confident that Liberman supports view that Iran is a threat to Israel and Iranian regime is looking for N weapons.

Q. Now that the deal has been agreed to, European countries are making a bee line to explore a business opportunity with Iran. For example, France, Germany and Italy have all started visiting Tehran. Saudi Arabia, sworn enemy of Iran, and Israel had made a common cause against Iran N deal. Persuaded by US, even the Saudis have mellowed and sung a different tune. Do you think Israel is getting isolated over the deal?
A. It is quite true that several countries are looking to tap into the opportunities in Iran. Looking at the Middle East, I can see every country concerned over Iran’s N capabilities. Every country understands it pretty well that if Iran gets N capability, they will get N weapon later, a danger to entire region. Some countries like Israel are vocal. Some have taken a different approach. Not representing those countries, I can’t speak on their behalf. But it is quite clear that there is a strong combination of forces in the region facing a threat from Iran as anN power consequences of which will not be limited to Israel but other countries and beyond too.
European countries rushing to Tehran to explore a business opportunity is an important development. Iran is controlled by a regime that is fundamental. Iran Revolutionary Guards are a key player in the Iran government. They control financial institutions and economy in Iran. They stoke terrorism across the world, directly or indirectly. So, money flown into Iran coffers when the sanction is lifted and money made through business partnerships, collaboration with the European countries, will go to the Iran Republican Guards. Money will travel from there to the terrorist organisations or the regimes, not known for democratic or humanitarian values. It is going to have a far reaching effect.

Q. Your main concern is Iran’s behaviour with Middle East or rest of the world?
A. Iran has been able to prove for a good few years now that the regime and Iran Revolutionary Guardsare not necessarily focussed on improving the lives of Iranian people or neighbours for a prosperous and stable Middle East. Iran’s terror activities are spread its tentacles across world. Argentina, India. 3 years ago, Iranians attacked Israeli diplomat in New Delhi. Israeli embassy was similarly attacked in Georgia and Thailand.We see Iran supporting Assad in Syria, Hamas, an international terrorist organisation, Libya, Houthis in Yemen. Iran doesn’t want stability in the region. It is focussed on inciting communal, inter-faith violence in the region inorder to portray itself as an important player.

Q. Why do you think did US president Barack Obama tell celebrated columnist Thomas Friedman that he is not bothered how Iran behaves with the Middle East countries?
A. Obama is very much aware of Iran’s activities in the Middle East. The statement may have been made in the context of N deal negotiations. From Israeli’s perspective, Iran is a full package. Iran’s N deal cannot be delinked from its terrorist activities in the region. When you curtail an activity and allow to flourish another, you see Iran putting more effort and investing more resources into the terror activities into terrorism. It concerns us most.

Q. So you don’t seem to agree with Obama’s views?
A. On this specific issue, Israel Government has a view that is different from the US. But I can tell you out US president Barack Obama and US administration had a very good, open discussion during this period. We did raise our concerns. Relationship between both the countries is very close. Two close countries have sometimes disagreements. But we are very open. Obama himself said that he was very open and candid in his talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Q. A report has brought to light a side deal agreed to by Iran and IAEA. It is about Parachin and Fordow. Besides, this is not part of the document about Iran N deal which is given to US Congress for its review. Why do you think was it not given to US Congress for review?
A. I am not aware of the secret deal clinched between Iran and IAEA.

Q. US National Security Advisor Susan Rice herself has confirmed it.
A. I am not at all aware of it. You had better address it to US embassy. Still, I will like to add that despite of IAEA, Iran was able to develop sites like Parachin and Fordow and IAEA didn’t get a wind of it. We will have to be very vigilant..

Q. Not only that, the Republicans are very upset that the IAEA has almost allowed Iran to self inspect its N sites.
A. IAEA is an excellent organisation. It is doing a commendable job. It is supervising the sites across the world. But Iran was able to hide its N activities, warranting stronger mechanisms in place to ensure that Iran doesn’t develop any N capabilities.

Q. Do you expect that the US congress will shoot down the Iran N deal?
A. I don’t know what the US Congress will do. It is internal issue of US. But the voices to be raised in the US congress are very important. The US congress is able to ensure Iran doesn’t develop an N weapon.

Q. But Obama can veto the US congress, can’t he?
A. Again it is internal issue of US.

Q. Will Israel attack Iran if the deal is through?
A. For 67 years, we have been able to protect ourselves against all kinds of threats, terror attacks. We have been able to do that because we are accountable to ourselves. In this context, we are ensuring to protect ourselves and that Iran doesn’t develop any N military capability directed against Israel.

Q. India has come closer to Israel since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in India. Both the countries have historical ties, starting right from Israel’s independence. Late Narasimha Rao was the architect of the bilateral ties dropping old pretensions. Prospects between two countries are exponential. In which areas do you see more…
A. India-Israel ties are completely different subject. Till 1992, we didn’t have full diplomatic ties. It was in fact at minimal level. In every field, our ties have improved year by year. We enjoy excellent rapport with Indian Government. One of Israel’s biggest embassies is in New Delhi. Trade has boomed from 80 million $ in 1992 to 5 billion $ today. Our ties are growing by leaps and bounds in the areas of defence, agriculture, water, science and technology. Indian students enrolling themselves as students in Israel universities is very important. In last 6 months, more and more Indian companies are looking at Israel for collaboration in science and technology, cyber security. It promises a much better relationship before long. We are looking forward to Indian President’s visit to Israel. It will be a momentous visit. Never before has any Indian president visited Israel. We are also waiting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel. It will be a step stone no doubt. Israel president last visited India in 1996. So it is also long time since then.
It is also important to move away from New Delhi and enter into states like Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh where we are working in tandem with the state governments. Bilateral ties are not limited to the respective capitals but must extend to other cities and people to people contact. That is why about 40,000 Israeli tourists visit India every year. Last year the figure was 45,000.It is a significant number in view of our population of 8 million. It means that every Israeli has either visited or knows somebody, who has visited India. When you ask someone about India, he is not clueless. India is known well for its stand and culture. India is not a vague concept for an average Israeli. Students coming to Israel for academic pursuit is the most important step.

Q. Potential of tourism between India and Israel is not fully tapped. How much scope do you see for both the countries to promote tourism?
A. Sometimes lack of enough information or assistance Indians cut short the tours. This March more than 600 travel agents were roped to promote and help more Indians visit Israel. A lot is still left to do. There is only one flight between India and Israel. That too, three times a week. That is far from enough.

Q. What is in Israelis that defied all kinds of challenges and made Israel what it is today?
A. India and Israel are similar in many fundamental ways. Both Indians and Israelis are basically family oriented. They both live around their kids and parents. Secondly, they are both driven by education. They both give their kids the best education and see it as a ticket for better future. Thirdly, both are complaining society. They are both vibrant democracies. Fourthly, they have gone through similar painful political history and face similar challenges today. The only difference is the size of the territory.

Shitanshu Shekhar ShuklaShitanshu Shekhar Shukla is a senior columnist. He has worked as a journalist with several media houses since 1997 and was Editor (Edit page) with The Gulf Time (UAE) till 2014.