Curious Case of Devyani Khobragade

Arrest and humiliation of diplomat from a friendly nation, diplomatic row, overzealous public prosecutor, allegation of human rights violation, evacuation from a friendly nation, conspiracy theory, these are what plot of a crime thriller is made of. Exactly that is what is being played out following arrest of an Indian diplomat in USA and events unfolding thereafter.
Indian Deputy Consul General in New York, Dr. Devyani Khobragade, was arrested while she went to drop her daughter to school. Upon arrest, Devyani was strip searched, cavity searched and put behind bars with hardened criminals. Charge against Devyani was visa fraud and exploitation of her house maid by not paying minimum wage.
The incidence has predictably created a furore in India. Political parties cutting across their divide have criticized the incidence. Government of India has demanded an apology from US government and dropping of all charges against her. External affairs minister Salman Khurshid vowed to restore dignity of Indian diplomat, else he will not come to parliament. Indian government has also initiated retaliatory measures like taking away from diplomatic privileges from many officials in American embassy, like diplomatic passes, import of alcohol without paying duty among other things. A security barrier infront of American embassy in Delhi was also removed.
On part of US, there has been incredulity at Indian reaction. Americans have indicated that Devyani had only limited diplomatic immunity. Thus, she cannot be prevented from getting arrested. American State Department has refused to take back charges against Devyani, claiming that judicial process has been initiated and cannot be reversed. It is logical to assume that State Department cannot interfere with the functioning of justice department. State Department has refused to apologise, but Secretary of State has expressed regret and suggested we move on. District Attorney’s office of lower Manhattan claimed, it is a standard practice to handcuff and body search an arrested person. So nothing unusual was done with Devyani. Rather, Devyani was extended courtesy like a cup of coffee and use of her cell phone.

District Attorney for lower Manhattan, Preet Bharara, and Indian Deputy Consul General, Devyani Khobragade
Americans were surprised that why so much outrage for Devyani while none for the housemaid – Sangeeta Richard, who also happened to be Indian citizen. According to Americans, real victim was Sangeeta who was exploited by Devyani.
As we try to look at the issue, it emerges that both side has over-reacted, both side have lied and both side have made mistakes. A few questions come to mind:
1.    Was US right in treating Devyani Khobragade the way they did?
2.    Was Indian reaction exaggerated?
3.    Was Devyani guilty of the charge of visa fraud and what was the role of Sangeeta?
I think, main Indian anger is public humiliation of her acting consul general in New York. The argument that she did not have full immunity is not cutting ice. If US was not happy with Devyani, they could have declared her persona non grata, and asked Indian government to take her back. However, US chose to arrest her, stripped her naked and searched her body cavities. Even if Devyani was not a diplomat, she was still a woman. True, it can be argued that in India women are treated much worse in their daily lives. But in a place like US, a country that is taking moral high ground on human rights, how such a thing can be allowed to happen?
Secondly, an agreement was entered between Devyani and Sangeeta. Both of them were Indian citizens. In New York, Devyani and Sangeeta were working in Indian mission, that is a sovereign Indian territory. How is happenings in Indian consulate is America’s business? Helping hand was not hired in US, she is not American citizen, she was not criminally assaulted, how her case becomes so important for American law enforcement to merit Devyani’s arrest? Do American diplomats pay American wage to their employees in India, that work in their embassy? American embassy is American soil, so American wage rule should apply there, not Indian minimum wage!
Sangeeta was not a child. She knew what she was getting into, yet she agreed to accompany Devyani to US. If Sangeeta was uncertain with her salary, why did she agree to go to US with Devyani? Why was Visa of Sangeeta Richard approved by US immigration office, knowing full well Sangeeta’s salary was more than what Devyani was going to get from Government of India? If Sangeeta had signed another agreement of Rs. 30,000 a month salary to her family in India by Khobragade family, and on top of it Sangeeta was to receive around 3 dollar per hour in US, how is exploitation? We do not know, if Sangeeta is telling the complete truth. So let us not spend tears for Sangeeta. From the looks of it, Sangeeta has come out a winner in this case at the expense of Devyani.  
It also appears that there was a method to the madness that happened. Devyani’s family was evacuated from India. This is humiliating because India is a soverign county, a friendly country to US, yet Americans are evacuating our citizens from our country! It is also important to know how did the outside world know about second contract of Devyani with her maid? Obviously someone well informed with American legal system has connected maid with a lawyer. Once the ball started rolling, family of maid was evacuated and Devyani arrested. So there is a well planned and executed method being played out. According to reports, maid wanted an ordinary passport, in place of her diplomatic passport, monetary compensation and help of embassay to get her a green card. All these were reported to State Department and police, yet nothing happened. May be Sangeeta had a plan and Americans were party to this plan! Devyani was a pawn in this game!

Tags: Devyani Khobragade, Sangeeta Richard, Deputy Consul General, Indian Consulate, New York, State Department, District Attorney, Immigration Office, Diplomat, Immunity, Arrest, Strip Search, Cavity Search

Alternate Sexuality is No Crime

Article 377 of Indian Penal Code dates back of 1861. The article deals with sexual behavior that is different from commonly accepted man woman relationship. According to this article, people belonging to Lesbian – Gay – Bisexual – Transgender (LGBT) community are liable to be prosecuted and sentenced to jail term.  In 2009, Delhi High Court bench of Justice Shah and Justice Muralidhar had decriminalized same sex consensual activity stating that the article violates article 14 of the Indian Constitution that states every citizen should have equal opportunity in life and is equal before the law. Recently, on December 2013, Justice Singhvi and Justice Mukhopadhaya of Supreme court have upheld the validity of article 377. The two judge bench have directed legislators to change the law if society thinks such an article is not acceptable.

However, a nation wide debate has started. Those oppose the supreme court judgement claim,
1. People of LGBT community may go / remain underground
2. People already declared their alternate sexual orientation may lose their job / business
3. The effort on treatment of sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS will bear a body blow
4. Members of LGBT community will most likely be harassed by corrupt police force to extort bribe. Those unwilling to pay bribe may be framed in false case
5. There is a sizable population of people belonging to LGBT community ranging from 1 – 10 million in India alone. There may be more as people are afraid to come out in the open.

Those favoring a ban on LGBT community, argue :
1. The activity practiced by this group is unnatural. Such activity goes against the law of god and law of nature.
2. Treat LGBT phenomenon as a disease and treat it.
3If we accept LGBT community to be distinct and have law favoring them, should we tomorrow have separate laws for pedophiles and necrophiles, for example? 
4. People representing this community constitute a miniscule section of Indian population.
5. In last 170 years since the inception of the law, hardly 100 – 200 people have been prosecuted under the law. Thus the fear of law being misused is ill founded.
Those arguing unnatural nature of gay sexual behavior and advocate sex is for procreation, forget that human sexuality may not be purely for procreation. Humans have option to abstain from sex. If we extend the analogy of abnormality a bit more, we may be forced to acknowledge sages, saints, and seekers who abstain from sex for spiritual quest, are abnormal. Yet, society revere them. Similarly, building a dam, treating illness, predicting natural calamity etc or for that matter any technological progress may also be considered to be anti-god and anti-nature. 
Our understanding of biological sciences has improved over last fifty years. It is generally accepted homosexual behavior is more genetic than acquired. Although it is a matter of debate and to prove a scientific hypothesis conclusively it takes experimentation using different approaches, it is emerging that neuro-biology in homosexuals may be different.
Some argue that if we agree to a set of law for homosexuals, then we may have to make similar concession for pedophiles and necrophiles also. However, we forget that key point in our discussion on article 377 is consensual sex between two adults. In case of pedophilia this concept is violated because victim is not an adult. In case of necrophilia, victim is dead. Same law cannot be extended.
Finally, I think one may have distinct sexual preference, but that uniqueness does not make anyone criminal.

Tags: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, LGBT, Supreme Court, High Court, Article 373, Indian Penal Code, Indian Constitution

Be(ard) or No(t) to Be(ard)

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This post is a part of the Protest Against Smelly Stubble Activity in association with BlogAdda.

Samar used to be a happy go lucky person. Naturally well built and athletic he was well liked by his friends. Samar participated in activities like theatre during his college days. During one such activity, Samar he had to sport a stubble to suit his part. His friends, especially female friends, liked his look and declared Samar resembled Geroge Clooney.

Sameera was also one of many admirer of Samar’s looks. With time a something deeper developed between Samar and Sameera. With deepening relationship, it became important their families also thought good about them. First shock Sameera received from her mom. Mother declared she does not trust men with stubble, because she cannot read facial expressions. How can she accept her would be son in law, if she cannot trust him. Also, a man with stubble appears lazy. If ha cannot take care of himself, how can he care about  her daughter? What will all relations think, when groom comes in social occasions unshaven?
Sameera was in dilemma. One side was her love and on the other family and society. Biting the bullet, one day Sameera tried to reason with Samar about bad points of having a stubble. She explained her mothers reservations, she also explained potential of getting infection on face and how a salt and pepper beard will look on Sameer with age. Sameer listened patiently. He loved Sameera more than his stubble and did not want to lose her. They lived happily therafter.

So all ladies reason with your man to give up their stubbles. Better sense will prevail. Men, your girl is more important than you stubble. Lose it.
This is my first post for (P.A.S.S.). I was tagged by Maniparna Sengupta Majumdar

Aam Aadmi Party : Beginning of a New Era in Indian Politics

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Swami Vivekananda said, “ Man makes money, money does not make a man”. This prophesy was put into action by Arvind Kejriwal, when he created Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and decided to contest Delhi assembly election. All experts and all opponents laughed and ridiculed the proposition. Without money and muscle power, has anyone ever won an election, critics asked. They got their answer when on 8th Dec 2013 election results were declared, AAP had decimated ruling congress party and almost became the single largest party.

Public life in India is riddled with corruption. Almost nothing can be achieved without paying bribe, be it your birth certificate or your death certificate. Our law makers who are supposed to frame laws for a corruption free India, themselves were mired in corruption. However, the proverbial s—t really hit the fan in last five years when one after another massive scams hit us. Apathy of ruling formation in dealing with the situation and their effort to shield fellow politicians, led to street protests. Formation of AAP had its beginning in this movement.

Swami Vivekananda said, give me twenty dedicated men, I shall change the face of country. Arvind Kejriwal did just that with dedicated and committed colleagues like Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, and countless others. The idea of AAP caught peoples imagination in such a way, that volunteers joined the movement pro-bono, quitting their jobs, their source of income. All for the cause of creating a corruption free India. Their only desire is to serve mother India. Only weapon of AAP is honesty and integriy, two words that are no longer for lip service and for text books only..

 Let us hope and pray, money and power does not go to their head and they remain committed to their cause. More and more of us should join and work with AAP to rid our nation of corruption.  It is our country, it is our mess, if we do not who will? God bless Arvind Kejriwal and AAP, they have started a new era in Indian politics. 

Judge Applied His Mind

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Mind is the most powerful instrument humans have. We are what we are depends on how we train our mind and what our minds tells we are. Mind aids us in setting right from wrong, yet same mind can push us into abyss. No where is this more apparent, in the behavior of parents of victim in the Aarushi Talwar – Hemraj dual murder case and the judgement that followed thereafter.
Aarushi Talwar, a fourteen year old girl, was found murdered in her bedroom. Hemraj, the family helping hand, was also found murdered and his body concealed on terrace. The apartment where Aarushi lived with her parents had three rooms. Aarushi had one room to herself. Parents of Arushi occupied the room adjacent to Arushi’s. There was a servants quarter in the apartment where Hemraj lived. 
The case was difficult because first it is believed that during initial investigation, crime scene was not secured. As a result a lot of evidence was destroyed. DIG of NOIDA police, further complicated the matter by making public pronunciation about character of Arushi and her parents. Aarushi’s  father was arrested, however, he was released. The case was handed over to CBI. First team of CBI had one line of thinking. However, they did not make much headway. The second team of CBI was constituted and they pursued a different line of investigation. Finally, CBI submitted to court that they cannot solve the case because they do not have enough evidence. CBI wanted to close the case. However, Talwar family wanted CBI to continue investigation and find the killers. Talwar’s all along believed someone from outside the house had killed Aarushi and Hemraj.  Judge also did not accept CBI’s closure report and wanted CBI to continue. So CBI filed a report where they implicated Aarushi’s parents as the potential killer. 
The verdict of the case came out in the week of 25th Nov, 2013. The CBI court pronounced Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Dr. Nupur Talwar guilty of murdering their daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj. There were a lot of criticism of the judgement. Many thought it was a travesty of justice. Higher courts, many experts proclaimed, will tear the judgement apart and acquit Talwars. Talwar family vowed to appeal to higher court. 
As I read all the stories that came out in public domain, a few questions come to my mind. 
1.If there were four people in the apartment, why only two people were killed. 
2. Dr. Talwar had claimed he had scolded on of the house helps a few days before the incident. This person may have motive to commit the crime. Even if we accept this theory, why would this person kill Aarushi and spare Dr. Talwar? His enmity was with Dr. Talwar and not his daughter!
3. Two people got brutally killed, yet two others were not only stayed unharmed but they slept blissfully! This is either plain concoction or there was no motherly instinct. Any normal person wakes up, if they subconsciously suspect someone entered their property.
4. If an outsider actually killed Aarushi and Hemraj, why would they drag Hemraj’s body to terrace? If we accept Hemraj was killed on the terrace, why would the killers care to lock the door?
5. One fully grown adult was killed, there was no noise and no one knew in a 3 bedroom apartment!
6. Dr Talwar repeatedly mentioned about a glass where there may be finger prints of killers. This glass, according to Dr. Talwar, was used by killers to drink whisky in Talwar’s dining room. Why would a killer/s first kill two people, then decide to drink in the place where they have a high possibility of getting caught? All the while the alleged killers enjoyed their drink, Talwars happily slept through! Is this possible?
7. There was no evidence of forced entry. Even it was, Talwar’s never knew as discussed above. In the morning after, when the maid came in the door outside was locked from inside. 
The above are some of the mysteries that I, a novice. could not understand. I do not think any one else other than Talwar’s could have killed the girl and servant. If they did not do it, and if point number 6 we accept, then someone known to Talwar’s had done it. That is why Talwar’s kept repeating killer was out there somewhere. Could it be then paid assassin/s? No one knows. May be Talwars have trained their mind to forget the incidence and they continue to believe that someone else other than them had killer their daughter. Judge saw through the charade, applied his mind and gave a verdict. We must respect it now.

Tags: Aarushi Talwar, Hemarj, Nupur Talwar, Rajesh Talwar, CBI, CBI court, Murder, Investigation