Gauri wrote about Ananth Kumar, Niira Radia
Cruel hands that snatched Bengaluru’s bold and “free speech” journalist Gauri Lankesh’s life must be caught. That is the wish of every professional media person across the country. This writer had the opportunity to meet Gauri in Bengaluru over lunch twice about a decade ago. I was curious to meet her as she had earlier carried an “explosive” story in 2003 in her Kannada tabloid, Lankesh Patrike. That was Gauri’s first major brush with the BJP, which was in the process of capturing Karnataka, its first state in South India. The cover story was about an alleged “nexus” between the BJP’s rising star, Ananth Kumar—Lok Sabah member from South Bengaluru—and Niira Radia, who later shot into “fame” as a high-profile corporate lobbyist. Niira (earlier she used to write her name as Nira) had taken pains to cultivate Ananth Kumar as he was the Union Civil Aviation Minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. Niira’s dream was to start her own airline and help Airbus sell its aircraft to the then Indian Airlines and Air India. Gauri had devoted the entire colour edition of the Lankesh Patrike, priced Rs 8, to Ananth Kumar-Niira Radia connections. The paper had carried a picture of Niira standing with the then PM Atal Bihar Vajpayee and a famous head of the Karnataka “math” sitting. Like a good professional, Gauri during her meetings with this writer did not disclose her sources “I can help you get more information—yes, there is more—from my sources, but sorry they can’t meet you,” Gauri had said. The only clue that she gave was that most of her story was based on a “highly confidential” document of the Intelligence Bureau.
Her story had created a stir in the corridors of powers in New Delhi and Bengaluru. Despite this, Niira Radia’s profile had continued to rise in the elite political and corporate circles till the income tax department’s phone tapes containing her conversation with top politicians, bureaucrats and media came into the public domain.
At this juncture, Gauri telephoned this columnist a couple of times asking “to pass on” to her if something new and worthwhile came his way about Niira Radia. I distinctly remember her excited voice: “I want to stir the pot again.” I knew the “tigress” was getting ready for the “kill” once again. This time, one may suspect, her target, logically speaking, must have been within Karnataka. But she did not know that she herself was being “hunted” and was moving into their crosshair.
An interesting experiment to inject music into yoga
An interesting experiment linking yoga and stress management with music has been carried out by the 52-year-old Dr Narendra Kumar Sharma, a Class-I gazetted officer in the Ministry of Culture.
Beyond office, he is known as one of the finest exponents of yoga, meditation therapy and a theatre personality.
He has developed a 55-minute audio CD in English and Hindi and titled it “Transformation” to link it with the same name techniques that he uses to teach yoga students and others who are interested in learning about how to relax in their hectic life.
“Transformation” in yoga and meditation classes is a fusion of Indian system of meditation and the Japanese system of healing and wellness, the Reiki. The “Transformation” CD music is a fusion of Indian and western instruments.
A native of Pauri, Uttarakhand, Sharma says that, during the process of “Transformation”, when the mind is in a charging state, we travel through alpha level and acquire cosmic or the universal life force energy.
It is an art to energise mind, body and soul for a meaningful, successful and energetic life with a positive attitude. Many corporate houses have sought his advice about how “to keep their executives cool, calm and composed during testing times”.
In the CD, during the first 10-12 minutes, when the ‘Transformation’ techniques are being explained, there is soothing flute music in the background.
When the real meditation starts, there is very low volume piano music in the background that fully involves the listener and completely relaxes him physically and mentally and the mind and the body receive a floating effect.
The twin music helps one to stay with positive ideas.
It rejuvenates and recharges the body and mind.
Search on for Ram Rahim’s tailor
No one bothered for a decade after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim figured in a 2007 blasphemy case, when he had appeared in a pink attire of the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh during a religious congregation in Bhatinda on 13 May 2007. It had led to clashes between Sikhs and “Premis” (Baba’s followers) in Punjab and Haryana.
Now that he is in jail, everyone is eager to nail him in all kinds of cases, even those which more or less stayed “closed” or were lying in the cold storage. In New Delhi, a few days back, some men from Punjab (they refused to disclose their identity—they could be plainclothesmen) were sniffing among the best known tailor shops to find out the one who had specially stitched the pink robe “to make Baba look like an avatar of Guru Gobind Singh.” A new theory is that even the tailor comes under the blasphemy case. Why were the authorities sleeping to reach this conclusion for 10 years? The robe in question is gathering dust in the “malkhana” of Punjab’s Bathinda Kotwali for the past decade. It was recovered from Ram Rahim’s possession from his Sirsa headquarters in Haryana by the then Bathinda Deputy Superintendent of Police, Surinder Pal Singh, who is currently posted as an SP at Barnala. A case was registered under Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings. So much was Baba’s clout that he never appeared in the court to attend hearings.
When contacted, Singh told The Sunday Guardian that during investigations the police had come to know that a New Delhi-based tailor had designed the robe as per Ram Rahim’s specific instructions.
But the Dera chief had claimed after the controversy that the “beautiful robe” was given to him by one of his followers and that he did not know from where that person had procured or got it stitched. When contacted, Rajinder Singh Sidhu, the complainant, alleged that a “fake affidavit” was filed on his behalf with the intention of closing the case. “I am now moving the Punjab & Haryana High Court to seek the reopening of the case,” says Sidhu, who is the president of the Khalsa Diwan Gurudwara Singh Sabha, Bathinda.
Bathinda Zone Inspector General of Police M.S. Chhina, and SSP Navin Singla say that they are getting the issue examined by the district attorney. Interestingly, Ram Rahim had been absolved of the charges after the police filed a “cancellation report” in the court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge in 2014.On 24 September 2015, the then five high priests of the Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC) had “pardoned” the Baba on his written apology and spent Rs 91 lakh on advertisements in the newspapers to publicise their decision. But, following sharp criticism from the Sikh community, they reversed their decision on 16 October 2015. And, now, it has been discovered that the SGPC “never scrapped” the earlier resolution of pardoning Ram Rahim. This speaks of the tremendous clout that the Baba had within the highest Sikh body.
War memorial and museum soon
Finally, the ball has started rolling for the construction of India’s first national war memorial and national war museum. Tuesday (12 September) is the last day to receive bids from civil work contractors for the war memorial and the war museum to be built at India Gate and its vicinity. These prestigious projects are already behind schedule. They are expected to cost about Rs 500 crore.
The war memorial and the war museum will honour over 22,600 soldiers, who had laid down their lives in different wars and operations since Independence. The tentative inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being planned for 15 August 2018. The deadline for the war museum is said to be mid-2020.
India is the only nation not to have a dedicated war museum despite having a rich war history, which include foreign battles.
The Army has been maintaining about 120 regional and individual war memorials. India Gate was built by the British to honour the 84,000 Indian soldiers who were killed fighting for the Empire in the two World Wars and the Afghan campaign.
The Amar Jawan Jyoti was built under the arch of India Gate after the 1971 war to honour the 3,843 soldiers who died liberating Bangladesh.
The war memorial was first proposed by the armed forces 57 years ago but the project did not take off due to politico-bureaucratic apathy.
However, on 7 October 2015, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal for the construction of the war memorial at the “C” Hexagon of India Gate and the war museum, most probably at nearby Princess Park complex or any other suitable site in the vicinity.
Architect Yogesh Chandrahasan and his team won the first prize for the design of the war memorial. The Spa Studio View had won the first prize for the museum.
The war memorial will basically be a landscape-style monument.
The “retaining walls”—partly below ground-level to go with the aesthetic beauty of the Central Vista—will carry the names of all the martyrs inscribed on them.
The adjoining museum will showcase India’s glorious moments in the military history.
It will display the jeep mounted RCL gun that was used by Havildar Abdul Hamid to destroy three Pakistani Patton tanks in the famous battle of Asal Uttar during the 1965 war.
Abdul Hamid of 4 Grenadiers and Lt-Colonel A.B. Tarapore of 17 Horse were the only two Param Vir Chakra awardees, both posthumously, in that war.
Man Mohan can be contacted at email@example.com