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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentines day ~ SC verdict on wealth case - Lahore blasts - Ghadar mutiny !!

Elsewhere it was Valentines day – in some places it was not to be ! Lahore  is the capital city of the Pakistani province of Punjab.   It was here that  martyr Bhagat Singh  was executed on March 23, 1931 (at the Lahore Central Jail) along with Rajguru and Sukhdev.  There are some news circulating in social media linking wrongly this incident to 14th of Feb.

Back home, the party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) (lit. All India Anna Dravidian Progress Federation)  founded by M. G. Ramachandran  on 17 October 1972 is in turmoil.   Its supremo Ms J Jayalalithaa, then CM, passed away in Dec 2016 – and today the Court verdict has banished it further.   It was a case filed way back in 1996 by Dr Subramanian Swamy, then Janata Party chief,  alleging amassed properties worth Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to  known sources of income.  Today on 14th Feb 2017, Supreme Court convicted  Sasikala and her two relatives, VN Sudhakaran and Elavarasi by restoring the trial court verdict in toto directing them to serve the remaining jail term.  Punishment  in this case has come after 21 years of delays and let-offs. Even the SC verdict announced today  was pending for almost 8 months.  Yet, those who have been convicted have been allowed the luxury of freedom,  because of the enormous power she wields on the AIAMDK in spite of being an extra-constitutional authority.

In Cricket,  India have named an unchanged 16-man squad for the first two Tests of the upcoming series against Australia, starting February 23 in Pune. There was no press conference or an explanation in the BCCI press release, but it can be assumed that batsman Rohit Sharma, fast bowler Mohammed Shami and legspinner Amit Mishra had not recovered from their injuries.

Moving back to Lahore, a powerful bomb blast on Monday ripped through a protest in the Pakistani city of Lahore, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens, according to officials.  The explosion went off in Lahore's busy Mall Road during a rally attended by hundreds of pharmacists protesting against changes to a drug sale law outside the provincial assembly building.  Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban-linked armed group, claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded at least 83 people, including media personnel covering the protest. A spokesman for the group warned in a statement that the blast was "just the start". Witnesses told Al Jazeera that the blast occurred near the Punjab assembly building when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle rammed into a police vehicle.  At least five police officers were killed in the attack, according to Mushtaq Sukhera, inspector general of police in Punjab province.

The bomb blast in Lahore has, according to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) chairman Najam Sethi, made it very difficult for foreign players to feature in the final of the second season which, until the bombing, was set to be played at Gaddafi Stadium on March 5. Speaking on his political talk show on Geo TV Sethi also said the question now of where the final should be played, was one that fans would have to decide.  Ever since the PSL announced that the final will be played in Lahore, the question of whether - and which - foreign players might attend has loomed. Sethi briefed foreign players about the security situation in Lahore last week ahead of the start of the league in Dubai. He said on the show that though the players had a number of questions and didn't commit, "they were mentally preparing to play in Lahore". By February 24th or 25th, if the players had not decided or were not ready to travel, the league was going to hold another draft to see which foreign players from any of other franchises were willing to travel to Lahore play for the finalists.

Lahore has historic background – the  Lahore Conspiracy Case trial, also known as the First Lahore Conspiracy Case, were the trials held in Lahore (then part of the undivided Punjab of British India) in the aftermath of the failed Ghadar conspiracy in 1915.  Rash Behari Bose was one of the key organizers.  The trial was held by a Special tribunal constituted under the Defence of India Act 1915. Out of a total of 291 convicted conspirators, 42 were executed, 114 got life sentences and 93 got varying terms of imprisonment. 42 defendants in the trial were acquitted. The uncovering of the conspiracy also saw the initiation of the Hindu German Conspiracy trial in the United States. The Ghadar Mutiny (Ghadar Conspiracy), was a plan to initiate a pan-Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army in February 1915 to end the British Raj in India. The plot originated at the onset of the First World War, between the Ghadar Party in the United States, the Berlin Committee in Germany, the Indian revolutionary underground in British India and the German Foreign Office through the consulate in San Francisco.  Intelligence about the threat of the mutiny led to a number of important war-time measures introduced in India, including the passages of Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914, the Foreigners act 1914, and the Defence of India Act 1915. The conspiracy was followed by the First Lahore Conspiracy Trial and Benares Conspiracy Trial which saw death sentences awarded to a number of Indian revolutionaries, and exile to a number of others. After the end of the war, fear of a second Ghadarite uprising led to the recommendations of the Rowlatt Acts and thence the Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre.

The Lahore Conspiracy Case (King Emperor v/s Anand Kishore and others) started on 26th April 1915, listing eighty-two individuals as criminated, including Rash Behari Bose (one of the seventeen absconders), and continued up to 13th September 1915. The principal charge against them was that they waged war against the king and wanted to overthrow the British government in India for the achievement of which they resorted to the enticement of Indian soldiers, collection of arms and ammunition, obtaining money by robbing government treasuries, committing murder of police officials and civilians, wrecking of railway trains and bridges, production of inflammatory literature and its circulation to spread rebellion.  The court was held in the Central Jail Lahore and the proceedings were held in camera.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th Feb 2017.

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