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Sunday, 19 February 2017
About the Author:
Friday, 17 February 2017
Day before an article by Shiv Kunal Verma on the situation in Kashmir went viral on social media. Writing in the context of the latest incident in the Valley in which Major Dahiya and 5 soldiers lost their lives, the author has done some plain speaking. By holding up a mirror which has no partisan political leanings, Kunal has stated in no uncertain terms what today is the general feeling among the young officers and men. Frankly, sometimes it takes a lot of courage to stand up and tell the truth. And if you are willing to stick your neck out, you will get trolled which is fair enough, and most readers are astute enough to know which comments are motivated and which are genuine.
But when the writer gets abused by a former Colonel in the Army for purely personal reasons, then that's crossing the Rubicorn. Ajai Shukla on twitter promptly went on line and referred to Kunal as 'VK Singh's barking dog'! Even some of those who follow Shukla's writings commented on the ridiculous nature of the remark. However, since the good Colonel has once again exposed his maniacal bias towards both Gen VK Singh and Kunal, I think it is time to retell a story wherein lies the genesis of this grudge.
Gentlemen, cast your minds back to October 2012, the sixth round of Trac II deliberations between two teams of officers had got over. The Indian side was represented by twelve former Service officers under the able leadership of Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) SP Tyagi, almost all the others in the team were retired senior officers (mostly Lt Generals and secretaries) who had never served in Siachen. Tagged at the bottom of the list was Shuklaji (presumably because he too had a Service background and was then a regular on NDTV). The Pakistani side was similarly headed by a former Army Chief, General Beg.
It is now no secret that in 2005, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh had been asked by the US (desperate then to give sops to Pakistani generals so as to have their support in Afghanistan) to vacate Siachen as the Pakistani Army was deeply disturbed by loss of men to frequent avalanches in the region. Working on the assumption that the gates to India have always been opened from within, the yanks, according to MD Nalapat, also threw in the offer of a Nobel Peace Prize to MMS. The good Prime Minister in turn asked the good JJ Singh if it was 'do able' and that worthy said he would ensure the Army did not object, though publically he would have to keep a different posture (refer Sanjay Baru's book... The Accidental Prime Minister).
With JJ in the bag, MMS now asked Brig Gunmeet Kanwal to prepare a paper justifying the troop withdrawl from Siachen. A Canadian-based think tank, Atlantic Council (a well known CIA/CFR front) was selected, and along with a Pakistani brigadier, a joint paper was prepared. However, with JJ Singh having by then retired, the PMO ran into Deepak Kapoor and then Gen VK, who unlike JJ were not likely to turn turtle and sell out the Army and the Country.
Shortly after Bikram Singh took over the reins of the Army, the PMO made its pitch. The committee under Bundles Tyagi had little or no idea whatsoever about Siachen, and it was left to Shuklaji to deliver the goods. Brought into the group by MMS's press advisor, Pachauri, Shuklaji was promised chairmanship of Prasar Bharti apart from all the other goodies he would get for pulling off this feat. During the course of these predetermined deliberations, the Trac II teams went globe trotting to hold these so called deliberations at various locations each time, and received expensive gifts amounting crores, all paid up by Atlantic Council. Its anybody's guess as to who funds such overtures of the Council, its one and the same be it CIA, CFR or ISI for that matter.
In October 2012, Trac II was to become Trac I and the place where 'not even a blade of grass grows' was to see an Indian pull out.
At this stage, certain members of the Trac II team themselves alerted Lt General Prakash Katoch, who himself had commanded the Siachen Brigade, as to what was happening. However, the mandarins in the PMO who were monitoring the situation, also got to know that Katoch and a few others over whom they had 'no control' were now aware of the Siachen sell out. A virtual media black out on the subject was put into place, as a result of which not one media house would agree to look at the story.
A group of ex Service officers and other concerned officers were by now desperately trying to highlight the issue, but no one was listening. Finally, it was Anil Tyagi, the gutsy editor of G-Files, who carried a report written by Kunal Verma and MG Devasahayam on the subject in his November 2012 issue. The story, which was accompanied by a map, apart from highlighting the behind the scenes machinations, simply asked the all important question- if India was to withdraw from its positions on the Saltoro, what would the next line of defence be?
The G-Files article set the cat amidst the pigeons as the ex-Servicemen community pointed out on social media just how detrimental to India's interests the move would be. They pointed out that a) Pakistan was not on Siachen but was to the west of the Saltoro ridge which was now the defacto line of control; b) It was not so much Pakistan but China who could occupy the glacier since the Shaksgam Valley was under their control and c) the new line of defence would then have to run along the Ladakh range on the southern side of the Shyok River, a situation that would require a massive deployment of additional troops.
The Outlook magazine's Hindi edition then quickly published a translated version of the G-Files article. The English edition was to follow up with a cover story that was being worked on by their own correspondents, but on the eve of going to press, a few calls from the PMO saw it being put on hold. However, by then, the cat was out of the bag and all talk of a withdrawal was now under the scanner. Then Chief Minister Modi made a statement saying there was no question of a compromise on either Sir Creek or Siachen, the Army Chief also said it was not advisable and per force, the now hot potato, was dropped by MMS.
This is when things got interesting, no one was looking at Shuklaji, the focus being on Air Chief Marshal Tyagi and some other big names in the Trac II team. His own carefully laid plans evaporating under his nose, he fired off three abusive e-mails as he grew unsettled. The first went to Katoch, wherein in a tacit admission, Shuklaji accused the Special Forces general of being upset only because 'he hadn't received the goodies' which the members of the Trac II team got, a short while later a second e-mail to Devasahayam and a third to Verma followed, in which he ranted and raved and made all sorts of wild accusations and made himself a laughing stock.
This is the man, Gentlemen, who since then has time and again launched abusive attacks on not just these three people, but also General VK Singh who also came out very strongly against the Siachen withdrawal plan of the UPA government. Shuklaji has shamelessly used the Business Standard platform to hurl abuse, be it on policy issues or even the book review of VK's book which was co-authored by Verma. He has now done it again, and here is the reason why.
In a country where our laws are so lax that a Jai Chand like Shuklaji can get away with treason should hardly come as a surprise. This man, who unfortunately has a rank attached to his name, and has propelled homself socially owing to his political connections (mainly through strategic marriages) needs to be exposed. If anyone has any doubts, just search on google and you'll have the entire timeline of the Siachen drama at your fingertips.
Then you be the judge.
Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Monday, 13 February 2017
Newspaper employees' unions protest against HT sackings!
--Undeclared Emergency in Media: Fight begins!
FEBRUARY 13, 2016
More than 150 journalists and non-journalist employees of several newspapers and a news agency today held an hour-long spirited demonstration before the Hindustan Times (HT) office in the country's commercial capital Mumbai raising slogans against the mass termination of media employees.
Apart from raising slogans, Media employees also waved placards that said 'Journalists-Media Workers unity Zindabad', 'Media barons: Honour SC order and Implement Majithia wage board' and 'Dont shoot the Messenger, Don't sack the Messenger'.
Today's demonstration in front of HT office in India Bulls Towers, Senapati Bapat Marg, in Central Mumbai was part of a campaign to 'Fight undeclared Emergency in the Media', and oppose sacking of media employees, organised by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) to fight for the Implementation of the Majithia Wage Board for newspaper and news agency employees.
The sacking of over 1000 media employees by Hindustan Times and Anand Bazaar Patrika (ABP) group of Publications in the last few weeks has already shocked and angered media workers all over the country. More so, in the backdrop of the failure of media managements to implement the wage award, the sackings have been totally illegal as well as in breach of the Supreme Court's order on the implementation of the wage board award.
So much so, scores of newspaper employees have been pushed into an abyss of unemployment and poverty overnight that has unleashed a terrifying environment of fear in the media industry. The current situation is unprecedented in the history of independent India, with newspaper managements determined to brazenly trample laws enacted for the newspaper industry and Supreme Court Orders pertaining to implementation of the Majithia Wage Board Award. Simply put, the newspaper managements, under the banner of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), have declared war on their employees: this is an undeclared emergency in the media.
The sudden closures and terminations, without any warning or provocation, have already resulted in the tragic and untimely death of Arvind Sharma, a senior staffer of Hindustan Times -- soon after his illegal termination by the company.
Later, a memorandum was submitted to the Hindustan Times Ms Chairperson Shobana Bhartia condemning the harassment and coercive action taking against employees after the closure of six editions of the newspaper. The following is an extract from the memorandum submitted to Ms Bhartia:
1. Your act has violated numerous provisions of the law, including Sec 16A of the Working Journalists Act. You are well aware that a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam had on Feb 7, 2014 (ABP Pvt Ltd and Onr vs Union of India and Othrs), upheld the Constitutional validity of the Working Journalists Act, 1955, and the amendment Act, 1974, and rejected the contention of improper constitution of the Wage Boards, irregularity in the procedure adopted by the Majithia Wage Board and that Majithia Wage Boards had overlooked the relevant aspects and considered extraneous factors while drafting the recommendations.
2. Your establishment has collected, under Sec 20J, undertakings from your employees, both journalist and non-journalist newspaper employees, on a mass scale, that they do not want the Wage Board. In the Supreme Court, a contempt petition is pending against your establishment to determine whether these are obtained by force or really voluntary? Which sensible journalist will voluntarily accept a lower wage?
3. It is clear that you have decided to close down these editions in other to avoid the implementation of the Supreme Court order and the Majithia Wage Board award.
4. Your action led to untold misery and disrupted the lives of scores of employees, besides leading to the tragic and untimely death of a senior staffer of Hindustan Times -- soon after his illegal termination by the company. Your callousness and cynical apathy only shows how much you are only concerned with the maximisation of profits.
5. We do not accept your excuse that demonetisation has forced you to take this step because, although it is only a three month old process, you have evaded the process of implementation for more than three years.
The JAC demanded the restoration of editions with reinstatement of all employees and implement the Majithia Wage Board Award in toto, thereby maintaining the spirit and letter of the Supreme Court verdict in this regard.
The JAC also maintains that this 'current situation of undeclared emergency' in the media is a cause of concern for the public at large. How can newspaper employees who are routinely terrorized by their employers and denied basic rights be expected to fight for the larger rights of society? How can the watch-dogs of society function when they are 'defanged' by their employers, the so-called guardians of freedom of speech and expression?
This owner-created climate of fear in the media has also led to the unchecked proliferation of paid news as well as fake news. And this is a cause of concern for all citizens.
All those who care for the flowering of democratic freedoms in the country should come together to ensure that the law of the land should be strictly implemented first in the Fourth Estate itself !
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