ISI won’t let Dawood return to India
One is quite intrigued by the recent sensational claims of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray that “sick” fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim wants to return to India and is currently negotiating a settlement with the Modi government. The boss of the D-Company—as his mafia world is known—Dawood fled from India after the 1993 Mumbai blasts that claimed 257 lives. India has accused him as the mastermind of these blasts. Thackeray has alleged that “the Modi government’s game plan is to take credit by claiming that they managed to bring Dawood back and thus win power again in 2019. But the fact is that the man himself wants to return to his homeland and there is some settlement that is happening presently,” the MNS chief said while launching his official Facebook page in Mumbai. “India’s most wanted man wants to breathe his last in his motherland,” he claimed. Dawood is among the world’s top 10 most wanted men and carries huge reward money on his head. The multi-dollar question is why Raj has made it public—if it is true. Does he not want Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get “Bhai”, as Dawood is popularly known? Or does he want to create a spoke in Dawood’s return?
In Mumbai, the police recently arrested Dawood’s brother Iqbal Kaskar in connection with an extortion case. Kaskar, who was deported from the United Arab Emirates in 2003, is said to be operating his brother’s real estate business and over several hundred crores of rupees extortion racket. Raj has not disclosed as to how he has learnt about the secret game plan. Did he speak on behalf of someone who may be afraid of “Bhai” to return? Has Raj’s claim about Dawood’s return anything to do with Kaskar’s arrest? Interestingly, in July 2015, the 94-year-old Senior Advocate and Rajya Sabha member, Ram Jethmalani, had claimed: “I spoke to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in the 1990s and he had offered to return and was ready to face the trial.” Jethmalani had claimed that Dawood told him that he was not involved in the 1993 Mumbai blasts and was willing to return to India to face trial, but feared threat to his life. Jethmalani had also claimed that he informed the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Sharad Pawar about Dawood’s willingness to return, but the government had not allowed him to return.Jethmalani’s remarks had come after Dawood’s close-aide Chhota Shakeel was quoted by a major English daily as saying that “Bhai had himself spoken that time to Ram Jethmalani, that too in London. But your ministry...that Advani played the game.”Well, there are many who don’t want Dawood to return. They include top Maharashtra politicians, serving and retired police officers, intelligence community members and, unfortunately, some members of the Fourth Estate. They have benefited from his gratitude.Even Pakistan’s ruthless spy agency—Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)—won’t allow Dawood— dead or alive—to go back to India. The Don knows a lot about his services that were utilised by the ISI and the Pakistan army. His vast knowledge about the terrain of Maharashtra and Gujarat that he had gained from his smuggling and crime networks, and also his close association with many top Indian politicians and cops and still operating underworld links, must have been used by Pakistan.Though Indian and many western intelligence agencies have claimed that Dawood lives in Karachi, and he has huge properties and business interests in Dubai and Britain, Islamabad has denied his existence in Pakistan. Simple: Because Dawood does not live by his old name; he has been provided “a new identity” that gives him Pakistan citizenship. That is why Pakistan has always maintained that “Dawood Ibrahim is not on our soil”. Some important men in New Delhi had made an attempt by sending feelers through “unofficial quarters” to Pakistan after major Uri terror attack in September 2016 that “hand over Dawood or Hafiz Saeed, co-founder of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba” outside Pakistan to work out a Kashmir solution. Of course, Islamabad denied about Dawood living in Pakistan and that there was no question of Hafiz being traded. One wonders why Dawood would at all be interested in returning to India where his crimes surely promises him a death sentence. Next Sunday: when ‘Bhai’ spoke to this writer!
Vrindavan to see 34-feet tall statue of deity
Lord Krishna’s devotees are going to witness the biggest Mahabhishek and Pran Pratishtha in the 5,000 years history of Braj from 3 to 5 October.
A 34-feet tall black granite deity of Sri Sankarshana will be installed in Braj bhoomi in Vrindavan after Dusherra on 5 October. This larger than life deity of Lord Sankarshana has invoked a spontaneous festival in the holy land that starts two days earlier. A podium has been built so that devotees can climb and perform Kailash Abhishek with milk, yoghurt and honey.
The deity’s statue was carved in Tirupati by 22 sculptors from a single 40 tonne granite block.
Lord Sankarshana, who is also known as Balarama, is considered to be “the protector of Braj Bhoomi”. The deity will be wrapped in a yellow cloth till its “Prana Pratishtha ceremony” which is eagerly awaited by the global community of Vaishnavas. A white cloth covering the deity’s eyes will be removed at the time of its installation.
“On the auspicious day of Sarad Purnima, we will perform the Prana Pratistha Mahabhishekham of Sri Sankarshana Bhagavan in the presence of many elevated saints and prominent dignitaries,” says Vineet Narain, chairman of the Braj Foundation, which is engaged for two decades in restoring the dilapidated “leela sthalis” of Radha Krishna. The foundation has restored over 60 heritage sites to their pristine glory and has won five UNESCO “Best Water NGO of India” for having restored ancient water bodies in Braj land. A Hindi journalist turned religious personality, Narain (who fashions himself as Vishnumurti Das) had shot into fame in the nineties for filing a public interest litigation in a major political funding scam, known as the Jain Hawala case.
Sankarshana Kund (pond) is among the most important heritage sites of Braj located on the Govardhana Parikrama marg. This kund is named after the elder brother of Lord Krishna, namely “Sankarshana” who is also known as Baldau (Balarama) or Dauji.
As per mythology, a deity of “Sankarshana” was found in the kund 5,000 years ago by Sri Vajranabh, the great grandson of Lord Krishna, and it was installed in Aniyor village. This deity finds mention in the ancient Vedic literatures, including Garga Samhita. It is believed that a holy dip in the kund relieves one from all the past sins occurred in the material world.
It is further claimed that 30,000 yojanas beneath the “Patal Lok” is Ananta Lok where Lord Sankarshana resides as Ananta Shesh. Lord Sankarshana is believed to have 1,000 hoods, on one of which rests the entire universe.
In the 16th century, it is said, Raja Man Singh, the army chief of Emperor Akbar had come to seek blessings of Sri Kumbhan Das in the premise of the kund. This sacred kund is mentioned in ancient scriptures, but was in a pitiable condition due to accumulated squalor and filth over a long period of time. In 2011, the Aniyor villagers of Govardhana requested the Braj Foundation to revive this sacred kund.
Rajas had opened their purses for the Raj
The princely states troops had won a huge number of awards during the First World War—689 decorations and 132 battle honours—while fighting for the British in foreign theaters. Many rulers not only took part in battles, they also helped the British fight against Germany as they felt obliged for the honours and awards that the Crown had bestowed upon them, the titles like “Sir”. One of the youngest royal family members was a 16-year-old prince from Jodhpur.
During the British Raj, there were 560 princely states. Within days of the beginning of the World War, troops from Patiala, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Bharatpur, Alwar, Faridkot, Gwalior, Kashmir, Jind and Rampur were “nominated for service”. Other states were advised to keep reserves on standby. The British encouraged rulers to raise Indian army units from within their states.
The rulers had raised about 22,000 troops for World War I, out of which 18,500 saw overseas service along with horses, camels, motor vehicles and even passenger ships. Over 27,000 non-combatants and labourers were also provided by the Rajas and Maharajas. They had also opened their treasuries and “individual purses” for the British war machinery. Interestingly, the Indian troops were paid and looked after in the field mainly by the Indian rulers—and not by the British as the general perception is.
These interesting facts about little-known role of the princely states have been revealed by a British expert on pre-independence India, A.N. McClenaghan. He is the secretary of the Indian Military Historical Society, UK. Some days ago, he was in Chandigarh on the invitation of the Centre for Indian Military History to talk about “The Maharajas’ Contribution to the First World War.” He has authored three books on Indian princely states and imperial forces.
In McClenaghan’s opinion, many rulers, part of British India, considered themselves “as fighting men and leaders of fighting men” who wished to play their part in battle and it was their perceived sense of honour and duty that inspired them to provide soldiers as well as financial and material support to the British.
After combat service in France, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala undertook inspection tours. “It was a great morale booster for Indian troops, besides representing India at the Imperial War Conference and Imperial War Cabinet in London,” points out McClenaghan.
Sir Ganga Ram of Bikaner also served in France. He succeeded in influencing British public opinion by pressing for political reforms during his meetings in 1917. The troops from Jodhpur were led by their regent, Maharaja Sir Pratap Singh and his 16-year-old son Sumer Singh.
Man Mohan can be contacted at email@example.com