Friday, July 22, 2011

Bengali Holocaust: "Churchill's Secret War" important book "Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the ravaging of India during World War II" by Madhusree Mukerjee (Basic Books, New York, 2010) is an account of the forgotten World War II Bengali Holocaust, the man-made, 1942-1945 Bengal Famine in which 6-7 million Indians were deliberately starved to death by the British under Churchill for strategic reasons in what was one of the greatest atrocities in human history but which has been largely whitewashed from British history.
Other books have been written about the Bengal Famine. Thus N.G. Jog's "Churchill's Blind Spot: India " (New Book Company, Bombay, 1944) in referring to this Bengali Holocaust was the first to refer to a WW2 atrocity as a "holocaust". Paul Greenough's "Prosperity and Misery in Modern Bengal: the Famine of 1943-1944" (Oxford University Press, 1982) is a detailed and definitive account of the WW2 Bengal Famine.
Brilliant Bengali film maker Satyajit Ray's film "Distant Thunder" is a profoundly moving account of part of this disaster and concludes with an estimate that 5 million Bengalis perished.
My book "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History: Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability" (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998, 2008: put the WW2 Bengali Holocaust into a wider context of British racism, imperialism, holocaust commission, holocaust denial and cultural self-deception. My thesis was that history ignored yields history repeated and that ignoring of immense man-made famine disasters in Bengal, notably the 1769-1779 Bengal Famine (10 million dead) and the 1942-1945 Bengal Famine (4 million dead in Bengal, 6-7 million Indians dead in Bengal and contiguous provinces) increases the risk of repetition and, specifically, in the 21st century from man-made global warming, sea level rise, increased tropical cyclone intensity and land inundation and salinization through consequent storm surges.
However an even deadlier threat, not just to Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh), but to all developing countries comes from post-colonial, US-led, First Word hegemony and callous disregard of the entitlement of all people on Spaceship Earth to a minimally decent life. In the first edition of my book "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History" I referred to the diaries of General Wavell and observed (p141): "On October 15 1943 in Cairo on his way out to India , Wavell inspected Indian troops and spoke to Casey about food. Casey said Australia had had a bad wheat harvest, Canada could just supply U.S. and British deficiencies and that the Argentinians had burnt their surplus of 2 million tons as fuel on the railways in the absence of coal, of which there was a world shortage." Now in 2008 Americans and Europeans are burning biofuel in their cars while 4 billion fellow human beings on Spaceship Earth are malnourished and facing starvation." At the end of 2008 oil and food prices peaked, there were food riots around the world and only the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and an attendant decline of food prices averted a Bengal-style catastrophe. However food prices have been rising again since the GFC and the threat of man-made, price-driven famine is again looming in a World in which billions of people go hungry and 1 billion are malnourished. Unaddressed man-made global warming is imposing an already worsening Climate Genocide in which 10 billion people, including over 2 billion South Asians, are predicted to die this century (see "Biofuel Genocide":
 and "Climate Genocide":

Madhusree Mukerjee's book commences with a key quotation from Churchill that addresses "from the horse's mouth" the fundamental holocaust commission, holocaust ignoring and holocaust denial behaviour of this mass murdering, racist imperialist. Thus Churchill makes no reference in the text of his 6-volume "The Second World War" (for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature) to the Bengal Famine (holocaust ignoring, holocaust denial) in which he deliberately murdered 6-7 million Indians (holocaust commission). Instead Churchill offers in his fraudulent history the following appalling holocaust lie: "No great portion of the world population was so effectively protected from the horrors and perils of the World War as were the peoples of Hindustan. They were carried through the struggle on the shoulders of our small Island" ("The Second World War", volume 4, p181, Cassell, London, 1954; "Churchill's Secret War", Prologue: our title to India, pix; "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History", Chapter 14, The Bengal Famine of 1943-1944, p133).
Madhusree Mukerjee systematically successively analyzes the background to the Bengali Holocaust in a prologue that deals with British India and the massive recurrent man-made famines, commencing with the 1769-1770 Bengal Famine in which 10 million people died due to British greed. Not quoted is Amaresh Misra's book "War of Civilizations: India AD 1857" that estimates that 10 million people died in British reprisals for the 1857 Indian rebellion. While the appalling famine history of British India is outlined the genocidal aspect is downplayed. Thus it can be estimated from British census and comparative mortality data that 1.8 billion Indians died prematurely under 2 centuries of British rule. While Mukerjee makes clear the British economic exploitation of India, she downplays the reality that endemic poverty and hunger in India made it possible for a distant island of scores of millions to rule hundreds of millions of disempowered Indian subjects with the help of well-fed sepoys and other collaborators.
A major contribution of Mukerjjee's book is the account of the beginning of the Bengal Famine in 1942 with the brutal British suppression of rebellion in West Bengal accompanied by mass killing, mass imprisonment, burning of houses and villages, seizure of food and other measures that were exacerbated in their impact by a major storm surge event. While the key years of the Bengal Famine were 1943 and 1944, surviving inhabitants of South West Bengal date the beginning of the famine to late 1942 due to British excesses. Mukerjee provides a logical account of the factors contributing to the huge increase in the price of rice (up to 6-fold) that was the real killer in the Bengal Famine e.g. cessation of rice imports from Japanese-occupied Burma; hundreds of thousands removed from areas close to Japanese-occupied Burma (instant impoverishment and demand on rice stocks); seizure of rice stocks (Rice Denial to impair Japanese invasion as well as punishment of rebellious Bengalis); local deficiencies (due to the 1942 hurricane, fungal infestation and British suppression of Bengali nationalists); the Boat Denial Policy (that ostensibly was meant to delay a Japanese invasion but which condemned millions to death through lack of fishing and food distribution); provincial autonomy of food stocks (a deadly divide and rule policy covered with a veneer of "partial democracy"); mass imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Free India supporters (thereby minimizing democratic Indian political responses to the Bengal Famine); various British encouragements of capitalist hoarding and profiteering; export of grain from India associated with hugely decreased imports of grain; British unresponsiveness in India and in London; lack of shipping in the Indian Ocean due to Churchillian fiat at Casablanca (especially in 1943); government protection of the food security of soldiers, civil servants and defence industry workers in Calcutta (a major industrial city undergoing a wartime boom and which sucked food out of a starving but rice-producing countryside); inflation (due to the British running up a huge financial debt to India during WW2 and Government rice purchases). A novel contribution is exposure of the key role in the disaster of incompetent and racist key Churchill adviser Professor Lindemann (Lord Cherwell) who consistently opposed food relief for starving India while Britain was stocking up with excess food. Physicist Mukerjee's book refers to C.P Snow's classic book "Science and Government" that excoriates physicist Lindemann for his successful promotion of bombing German cities at the expense of protecting Allied shipping, a policy that led to massive losses in the Battle of the Atlantic. This in turn led to Churchill halving shipping in the Indian Ocean in 1943. Mukerjee, while properly condemning Lindemann for his opposition to food aid for India, overlooks this key consequence of Lindemann's bombing obsession, specifically .the causal pathway of diversion of Allied bombers from ship protection to bombing German civilians - loss of Allied shipping - Mediterranean strategy-dictated halving of Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean - food price rise in the Indian Ocean region - famine in India. Indeed C.B.A.
Behrens in her book "Merchant shipping and the demands of war" (referred to by Mukerjee) does make this connection and states "the North Africa campaign doomed almost irrevocably to starvation any deficit area in India", a view with which British historian A.J.P.. Taylor concurs. *
Mukerjee makes clear that Churchill's deadly unresponsiveness to the Bengal Famine came from a passionately Anglocentric and imperialist view of the world and his entrenched racism from "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion" to his view of Bengalis that "they breed like rabbits". In interview Mukerjee incorrectly stated "He [Churchill] is often criticised for bombing German cities but has never before been held directly responsible for the deaths of so many people as in the Bengal famine" (see Ben Sheppard, "Book blames Churchill for Indian famine that killed millions", The Age, 8 September 2010:

In reality, many people have been blaming Churchill from the time of the Bengal Famine. Indian and a small body of humane European writers have been blaming Churchill from the time of the atrocity onwards. I have written and broadcast extensively over 2 decades about Churchill's responsibility for Bengal Famine this eliciting a trenchant response from the Churchill Centre to an article I wrote for MWC News entitled "Media lying over Churchill's crimes"(MWC News, 18 November, 2008:
"Polya begins by dismissing all historians who disagree with him as Anglo-American and Zionist propagandists, including official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert-who, since it's always a good idea to question the accused, we asked for comment. "Churchill was not responsible for the Bengal Famine," Sir Martin replied. "I have been searching for evidence for years: none has turned up. The 1944 Document volume of the official biography [Hillsdale College Press] will resolve this issue finally" (see the editors, Finest Hour, "Bengali Famine":
The most shattering part of the book deals with personal accounts of the victims. One cannot comprehend what the starvation to death of 4 million Bengalis or 6-7 million Indians as a whole actually means. The sexual abuse of famine victims, either by exploiters in Calcutta (some 30,000 victims) or in the British Military Labour Corps (that effected the equivalent of the large-scale Japanese comfort women abuses) are particularly horrifying. ...These parts alone of Madhusree Mukerjee's book should make it compulsory reading for all people. We are obliged to tell others about gross abuses of humanity ­ we cannot walk by on the other side.
From a dispassionate scientific perspective, rational risk management successively involves (a) getting the facts, (b) scientific analysis and © informed systemic change to minimize risk. Mukerjee's book is very important because it sets out a detailed and documented account of the Bengali Holocaust in which Churchill deliberately starved 6-7 million Indians to death over an extended period (1942-1945) despite the pleas of Bengalis, Indians and decent Britishers (notably General Wavell, Viceroy of India). Yet thousands of books about India, WW2, and British history fail to even mention the Bengali Holocaust, one of the worst atrocities in human history. We have seen above eminent pro-Zionist historian Sir Martin Gilbert's denial of Churchill's crimes. There is s no mention of the Bengali Holocaust in pro-Zionist Simon Schama's "A History of Britain" (BBC, 2002) or Michael Woods' "The Story of India" (BBC 2007), although in 2008 the BBC broadcast a program entitled "Bengal Famine" involving myself, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and other scholars as part of a series entitled "The things we forgot to remember" (see: Colin Mason in his book "A Short History of Asia. Stone Age to 2000 AD" (Macmillan, 2000) slams generations of English-speaking historians and writers for whitewashing the Bengal Famine from history, Mason arguing that the evidence suggests that it was the result of a deliberate "scorched earth policy" by Churchill in the war with Japan.
Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group". Missing from Mukerjee's book are any direct admission quotes from Churchill in which he actually mentions the Bengali Holocaust. I have found one such Churchill statement in an April 1944 letter to Roosevelt (alluded to in Mukerjee's book) in which Churchill states "I am seriously concerned about the food situation in India and its possible reactions on our joint operations. Last year we had a grievous famine in Bengal through which at least 700,000 people died... By cutting down military shipments and other means, I have been able to arrange for 350,000 tons of wheat to be shipped to India from Australia during the first nine months of 1944. This is the shortest haul. I cannot see how to do more. I have had much hesitation in asking you to add to the great assistance you are giving us with shipping but a satisfactory situation in India is of such vital importance to the success of our joint plans against the Japanese that I am impelled to ask you to consider a special allocation of ships to carry wheat from Australia without reducing the assistance you are now providing for us, who are at a positive minimum if war efficiency is to be maintained. We have the wheat in Australia but we lack the ships. I have resisted for some time the Viceroy's request that I should ask you for your help, but I believe that, with this recent misfortune with the wheat harvest and in the light of Mountbatten's representations, I am no longer justified in not asking for your help"(see "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History", Chapter 15, pp157-158).
In the interests of truth and rational risk management there should be a posthumous war crimes trial of Churchill held by the International Criminal Court or , better still (because the ICC is a notoriously a US-beholden holocaust ignoring and genocide ignoring organization), by an authoritative panel of outstanding 
jurists and scholars with impeccable scholarly and human credentials.
In the last analysis, what killed 6-7 million Indians in 1942-1945 was lying by omission and commission ­ and the same anti-science perversion is set to kill several billion more South Asians this century due to climate change inaction. The first Lord Monckton worked in British propaganda and information in WW2 and was given his peerage in 1957 in part for loyalty to mass murderer Churchill and for removing the Bengal Famine from public perception. 60 years later his non-scientist grandson the Third Lord Monckton tours the world telling gullible audiences that man-made climate change is not happening, denying the overwhelming scientific consensus to the contrary. Yet search the entire site of the Australian ABC (the Australian equivalent of the UK BBC) for "Lord Monckton" and you will get 169 results as compared to ONE (1) for "Madhusree Mukerjee", and that only being due to a comment made by me about an ABC program about Churchill: "Winston Churchill is on record as telling Leo Amery, the UK Secretary of State for India, in 1942: "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion". Churchill is responsible for the Bengali Holocaust, the man-made 1942-1945 Bengal Famine in which 6-7 million Indians were deliberately starved to death by the British for strategic reasons in Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Orissa. For the shocking details of the Bengali Holocaust and its whitewashing from British history by holocaust-ignoring and holocaust-denying media, academics, editors, journalists, teachers and politicians see Gideon Polya, "Bengali Famine", Ockham's Razor, ABC Radio National (1999); Gideon Polya, "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability" (1998, 2008); Colin Mason, "A Short History of Asia. Stone Age to 2000 AD", (2000); Dr Gideon Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen et al, "Bengal Famine", BBC (2008); Madhusree Mukerjee, "Churchill's Secret War. The British Empire and the ravaging of India during World War 11" (2010). "
In 2011 Britain is still making war on Third World Muslim countries, namely Iraq (war-related deaths 4.6 million, 1990-2011), Afghanistan (war-related deaths 5.0 million, 2001-2011) and now Libya, which is being bombed back to the Stone Age. Greed, racism and imperialism aside, a key reason for Britain's mass murder of Bengalis (substantially Muslims) in WW2 and for its continued atrocities lies in personal self-deception and propaganda-assisted public deception. Madhusree Mukerjee discovered this profound confession by mass murderer and holocaust denier Churchill: "I therefore adopted quite early in life a system of believing whatever I wanted to believe." I strongly recommend Madhusree Mukerjee's very readable and vitally important book "Churchill's Secret War". History ignored yields history repeated.

 Churchill's Secret War By Madhusree Mukarjee

People were shocked at Indian PM's unkind remarks all persons, the most distinguished and veteran politician, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had blasted a 'time-bomb' on Bangladesh and that too on the eve of his much-hyped official visit to this country. (He is coming on a two-day visit on 6 September next).

Talking to a group of Indian editors in New Delhi recently, Dr. Singh 'disclosed' unexpected allegations against Bangladesh, which holds the Indian leaders in high esteem for their valuable contribution in the creation of independent Bangladesh.
In fact, Bangladeshis were shocked at Dr. Singh's allegations that 25 per cent of Bangladeshi 'support Jamaat-i-Islami' and are 'anti-India' and they are working under the guidance of Pakistan's Intelligence Service, ISI. It is not clear how a veteran politician like him could make such ridiculous remarks about a neighbour that believes in secular democracy. It seems that he didn't look right or left before parroting such childish remarks suggested by his advisers who are desperate for making an impression. No Indian leader, not even the Hindu Nationalist Party leaders like Advani did make such outlandish remarks about Bangladesh.
Dr. Singh told the Indian editors, as reported in the Indian media, that "... with Bangladesh our relations are quiet good. But we must say that at least 25 per cent of population of Bangladesh swear by the Jamiat-ul-Islami (sic) and they are very anti-India and they are in clutches, many times, of ISI of Pakistan." Apprehending a possible political change "any time," Dr. Singh remarked: "... a political landscape in Bangladesh can change any time. We do not know what these terrorist elements are who have a hold on Jamiat-ul-Islam (sic) elements in Bangladesh can be up to." So comes the timely warning for Bangladesh from a veteran Indian well-wisher. Let the Bangladeshis gird up their loins to meet any such situation that may come "any time"!
When mouth stumbles...
However, when his advisers came to realise how damaging Singh's statement was for bilateral ties with Dhaka, on 1 July they removed (after four days beginning on 29 June) the transcripts of PM's remarks from the PM's and PIB's websites. But it was too late and the damage had been done. As they say, 'Time heals all things except a leaky tap' And a time-honoured adage tells us that 'when the mouth stumbles it is worse than the foot.'
However, the people were surprised at first not to find any reaction to Dr. Singh's remarks, either from the government or the opposition parties. They considered it as a sign of their political weakness towards neighbouring 'big brother'. But obviously it should be construed as a wrong political gesture shown by the government and the opposition towards Dr. Singh's unfriendly remarks on the eve of his forthcoming visit.
The Indian authorities, particularly those directly involved in causing the damage, realised their mistake rather late. It took them a few days to assess the damage it had caused to the existing relations between the two countries. Later, as reported in the Indian media, New Delhi "heaved a sigh of relief" at Dhaka's decision to maintain silence over Dr. Singh's faux pas. The Indians were reported to be in 'confusion' as they apprehended "strong reaction" from the government, the opposition and even thought that citizens in Dhaka might "launch street agitation." But they were 'relieved and happy' with different vibes they received from Bangladesh side. Otherwise Dr. Singh's visit might have been "postponed" if there was a "serious reaction" from Dhaka.
A safer place
At least, in conclusion, it can be safely said that Bangladesh is now a much safer place for India than even New Delhi and more than half of 28 states (provinces) where they are more worried about the increasing activities of the Maoists guerrillas (Communists) planning to remove existing governments to establish their control over the region. Besides, Delhi is also worried over the growing activities of ULFA in the Northeast Indian states to establish their independent states. Sometime back, Bangladesh was accused by India of giving shelter to the notorious ULFA leaders to carry on their mission from 'safe haven' of Bangladesh. But Bangladesh refuted the charges strongly.
It therefore, appears quite futile on Dr. Singh's part to be worried over possible political changes in Bangladesh 'anytime soon.' Instead of thinking too much about the future shape of Bangladesh, the Indian PM should try to put his own house in order, giving a decent burial to the anti-Indian militant elements who are working in Dr. Singh's backyard. Lets hope that Dr. Singh's upcoming visit to Bangladesh bring about fruitful results for both countries as well as for the region.
Let us follow the time-honoured dictum: "Good fences make good neighbours."

Delhi is ready to pay transit fees, but Dhaka wants very low fees June last year Bangladesh government issued a circular requiring the Indian cargo vassals to pay transshipment fees on containers and loose cargo at certain specific rates and then hastily withdrew it on Indian refusal to pay any such fees.

Delhi is ready to pay
Now this time India is reportedly ready to pay the transit fees but Bangladesh is not willing to claim fees at standard rates saying it must be as low as possible to entice the Indians to use our facilities to their benefits. What makes this turn around is very interesting and critics say the matter deserves to be carefully investigated.
Throughout last week Bangladeshi media was galore with breaking news on the visit of the Indian external affairs minister S M Krishna and the significant breakthrough he has made in working out various deals with the government leaders.
The pro-establishment media were also equally euphoric on the positive outcome of the crucial discussions SM Krishna had held with his Bangladesh counterpart Dipu Moni and others.
There was no sign of any dissent; everything was on excellent drive, news reports suggested. This has however the political analysts wondering how come that there isn't any area of disagreement on any of the sensitive issues despite serious discussions.
Sylhet border points
People at several border points at Sylhet are holding almost daily human chain to protect their ancestral land from being handed over to India while the government is going to sign an agreement to this effect during the forthcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Dhaka in September next.
People wonder whether the government is paying any heed to their protest or turning a deaf ear to them while moving to comply with the Indian desire to take hold of Bangladesh land dubbed as the so-called 'disputed land' along the border.
Keep people informed
It is a question as to why the government is not placing such an important issue before Parliament for vetting.
Why is the government maintaining total secrecy denying transparency in all sensitive issues?
The government should take the people across the board and keep them informed of the details of the proposed framework agreement on transfer of land.
News reports say agreements may also be signed on sharing waters of the Teesta and the Feni Rivers during the Indian Prime Minister's visit, while the people are kept unaware of any details. Will it be a repeat of the Ganges water agreement depriving Bangladesh of its legitimate share of water of the co-riparian rivers?
Transparency demanded
BNP Chairperson and leader of the opposition Begum Khaleda Zia laid stress on keeping the nation informed ensuring transparency of such agreements while talking to Indian foreign minister S M Krishna who made a courtesy call on her at her Gulshan office during his visit.
She told him that BNP is not opposed to allow India transit facilities but the important fact is that the people should be informed about what is taking place. She wondered why the ruling party is keeping the people in total darkness on the transit and such other issues.
People are not opposed to good relations with India or such other connectivity but they want to see a fair deal and total transparency.
Confidence building
But there is hardly any sign of taking the people across the board while the planned visit of the Indian Prime Minister is only drawing closer and the government is seemingly moving to sign several framework deals.
Critics say keeping the people informed about any prospective deal with India is just part of confidence building moves and in its absence things may take a critical dimension.
Likewise, the issue of buying Indian electricity remains a matter of illusion too. The sales of 250 MW power to Bangladesh may reportedly take place now in 2012 and may in fact go beyond 2013. critics question as to why Bangladesh is not making its own move to build its own power plant to remain self-reliant.
'Uncivilised' to claim fees
What appears even more surprising to observers here is way the government made a hasty retreat from claiming transit fees by rescinding a circular issued by NBR last year. It was a tariff schedule developed on reasonable rates. But India sharply reacted and the government hastily withdrew it following one of the prime minister's economic adviser's comment that it would be 'uncivilised' to claim transit fees from India.
However, now the government leaders have changed their stance and say that Bangladesh would levy some transit fees. But they are now saying that any higher rate of charge to recover the cost of the infrastructure may discourage India from using the transit routes, so it is in our interest to keep the rates low to attract India using more and more transit facilities.
Nobody now speaks that Bangladesh would fetch $2 to $3 billion annually from transit. Those initial transit advocates are now silent and are using different tone. What has caused this change in them needs to be carefully seen.
Quota free access
Indian foreign minister also remains evasive on Bangladesh's demand for duty-free and quota-free entry of 61 export items into Indian market outside the SAFTA agreement to help narrow the widening trade gap. S M Krishna said he would urge the Indian Prime Minister to do something, without giving any clear indication of the Indian mind. He however gave an impression that India may only make a small gesture on this matter.
Thus in a climate marred by lack of clarity, the Indian foreign minister ended his Dhaka visit last week asserting that transit would be used for peaceful purposes only. It will improve the lives of people, spur economic growth and development on both sides, he said. He said, it is not simply a flow of goods and services across the frontiers in the context of transit it would change the lives of the people.
S M Krishna said, India is always a peace-loving country and looks for prosperity and stability in the region. There is no way India would harm Bangladesh, he said adding that India and Bangladesh have a natural propensity to work together.
Boundary issue
Indian foreign minister hoped the unresolved land boundary issue between India and Bangladesh will be resolved in the near future and a framework agreement may be signed in this respect during Manmohan Singh's visit to find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution.
Apart from this, the signing of an interim agreement on water sharing of the common rivers the Teesta and the Feni is expected to take place during Singh's visit on September 6-7, he said. Krishna said the two countries have a very good agreement on the sharing of the Ganges waters which is being implemented sincerely by both sides. "I am optimistic that we shall reach similar conclusions on the sharing of the Teesta and the Feni waters."
Interestingly Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna emerged with identical views on resolving long outstanding issues at a joint media conference.
Dipu Moni said river waters will be shared based on equity and fairness, while the issues of demarcation of 6.5 kilometres of border, transfer of enclaves, and adversely possessed lands will be solved under "a package" in the spirit of 1974 Mujib-Indira Land Boundary Agreement.
On the issue of transit, she said they discussed various initiatives that have been taken by the two sides for passage of goods through Bangladesh to various destinations.
Protocols under larger framework
Dipu Moni said on transit, there will be several smaller protocols under a larger framework, such as the proposed protocol for the use of Mongla and Chittagong ports.
"We're trying to come out with that framework under the whole transit issue and work is going on to sign a number of protocols," the Bangladesh foreign minister said adding that the framework agreement will also encompasses Nepal and Bhutan.
However, the Indian external affairs minister said there are some nitty-gritty issues, which are currently being worked out. "Talks on transit are at the final stage and we will be able to reach an agreement soon," he added.
Growing enthusiasm
The Indian minister said he sees a growing enthusiasm for trade and economic cooperation between the two sides. He said the trade volumes between the two countries are low and laid the importance on significantly increasing the volumes of trade and investments.
Krishna asked Bangladesh to welcome a number of Indian corporate entities who are looking forward to opportunities for investments in Bangladesh for mutual benefit.
He said connectivity will create access to goods and services across frontiers. "We cannot deprive our people of this opportunity, we should see connectivity as a dynamic concept to grow market rapidly on both sides of the borders. In north-eastern India, the growth could be even more rapid than the rest of India, he said pointing to new opportunities opening in this region.

An end to an unending war in India

The funeral of 19-year-old Channu Mandavi, gunned down as an alleged Maoist on April 12, 2009 [Photo: Javed Iqbal]

On July 5, the Supreme Court of India delivered a judgment on the legality of the Salwa Judum, the armed counter-insurgency group - declaring it illegal and unconsitutional. The government had tried to portray the Salwa Judum as a peaceful Gandhian movement, even when its militants went to village after village, where they burnt, raped, looted and murdered people.

The idea of the state and the security establishment was to deliberately target the civilian population in order to sever the decades-long Naxalite Maoist insurgency from their base, also known as the "drain the pond to catch the fish" plan. This led to an escalation of violence that left more than 644 villages empty, according to government figures, and an estimated 60,000-200,000 people displaced, according to independent sources such as Human Rights Watch. In the writ petition before the Supreme Court, it was alleged that the state-backed Salwa Judum militia had committed at least 99 rapes and more than 550 murders between 2004 and 2008.

The Supreme Court, in its order banning the arming of the civilian population to combat the Maoists, stated that "this case represents a yawning gap between the promise of principled exercise of power in a constitutional democracy, and the reality of the situation in Chhattisgarh, where the Respondent, the State of Chhattisgarh, claims that it has a constitutional sanction to perpetrate, indefinitely, a regime of gross violation of human rights in a manner, and by adopting the same modes, as done by Naxalites/extremists".

The court goes on to mention: "Tax breaks for the rich, and guns for the youngsters amongst [the] poor, so that they keep fighting amongst themselves, seems to be the new mantra from the mandarins of security and high economic policy of the State. This, apparently, is to be the grand vision for the development of a nation that has constituted itself as a sovereign, secular, socialist and democratic republic."

The problem is, the Chhattisgarh government has a history of not paying any attention to the national judicial system. It has already paid no attention to the constitution, trying to justify an invisible war for a kind of industrial development whose nuclear weapons manifest themselves as perpetual poverty and chronic malnutrition. Indigenous societies and farmers across the country have rejected this kind of development.

Supreme Court orders asking the security forces to not occupy schools have not been followed. Supreme Court orders requesting the police to lodge First Information Reports regarding the killings were not followed, and a Sessions Court order for the arrest of Salwa Judum leader Soyam Mukha has repeatedly been ignored, even when he has given press conferences or led protest rallies in front of police officers.
Now, local reports claim that the police have been disarming Special Police Officers, while the government is considering a review petition appealing the Supreme Court decision. At the same time, Special Police Officers, or SPOs as they're more commonly known, are aware that some of them can't go back to their homes.

One wonders what will happen to Comrade Naveen, a Maoist area commander who allegedly raped a girl, then ran way from his village to eventually become a Special Police Officer, whom the police will now be disarming pursuant to Supreme Court orders.

The petitioners, in a press release dated July 8, stated: "We appeal to the Maoists to join all right thinking citizens in hailing this historic judgement and to desist from harming SPOs, or any other group of citizens in any way. They should be allowed to peacefully reintegrate into their villages."

Peace is doable. Will the war stop? A few weeks ago, quietly and without much ado, the army also entered the jungles of Bastar, in Narayanpur District, for what it called "training exercises". And yet there remain emphatic voices among the ruling class that the troops must be used to fight a war against the Maoists that the government and the Salwa Judum had fought with complete impunity for the past seven years.

No one knows the exact number of people killed by the Salwa Judum; the government never counted them, and the petitions were never complete. The village of Kottacheru for instance, had nine dead - but the court petitions alleged only five. The village of Badepalli was burnt down in 2006, and again in 2009 - but no one ever reported it. The violence was very real.

Brutal attacks on civilians
The fingers of 18-month-old Katam Suresh were cut off during an attack by government security forces on his village of Gompad, Chhattisgarh [Javed Iqbal]

On October 2, 2009, central government security forces attacked the village of Gompad, based on information that an armed Maoist squad was nearby. They killed nine people, including an eight-year-old girl; cut the fingers off an 18-month-old baby; brutally tortured and killed his mother; and shot dead his grandparents, leaving their bodies in a heap of corpses in a small open pathway. On the same day, another police patrol caught two young men, one from Nukaltong and the other from Velpocha, and shot them dead on their way back to the police station.

The village of Goomiyapal is a little over four kilometres from the mining town of Kirandul. The first documented attack there took place on April 12, 2009, when the Salwa Judum and the police beat a young man and his mother. Then, in December 2009, six people were shot dead in an encounter. A 15-year-old boy was shot dead on February 12, 2010. Then in May, a day before Maoists attacked a civilian bus with an improvised explosive device, killing 33, two people were killed and their houses set alight in Goomiyapal.

The villages of Tatemargu and Pallodi were turned to ashes as they were razed to the ground on November 9, 2009, by the security forces during a "combing operation". Four people from Tatemargu, two from Doghpar and another from Pallodi were picked up and executed in the jungle. The villagers only remember the police taking them away, then discovering dry pools of blood in the jungle.

As the village of Pallodi was rebuilt, nearby Tadmetla village - where 76 security personnel were ambushed and killed by Maoists in April 2010 - was burnt down on March 16, 2011, along with the villages of Timmapuram and Morpalli. Three people were killed, three people died of hunger after getting lost in the jungle, and three women were alleged to have been raped. Numerous relief teams and private citizens were stopped from helping by the Salwa Judum or Special Police Officers.

Maoists culpable, too
Maoist atrocities also go painfully forgotten: the story of one member of a Maoist cadre raped by her own comrades was written off as state propaganda, just as the gunning down of children by the police was written off as Maoist propaganda by the state. Another class of "revolutionaries" referred to the gang rape of women in Tadmetla by the security forces as "good for the revolution" because it would incite the people to "wake up".

This was told to me with disgust by the late civil servant, SR Sankaran, a man who once helped bring the government of Andhra Pradesh and the Naxalite parties together for peace talks. By 2010, he was a broken man, aware that his failure to bring peace to Andhra Pradesh indirectly led to an escalation of the conflict in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. And he knew both sides of the war, he had told me first of the Kakatiya train burning on the October 9, 1990, when the Maoists had set fire to the general class carriages, killing 47 people. Or how the police shot indigenious people protesting in Indervelli in Adilabad on April 20, 1981, killing anything between 13 (according to the government) or 60 (according to others).

When there is no end to state atrocities in the country, one would wonder, where is the revolution that the Maoists have apparently been fighting for?

In the Pamed block of Kanchal village, 14 Maoist Dalam members were poisoned one eventful morning in 2008. On the same day, two villagers disappeared with a visiting police patrol. In retaliation, the Maoists killed six villagers from Kanchal in front of their families as informants. Some 59 of 89 families in Kanchal left their homes and now live in Andhra Pradesh. So much for the revolution.

In April this year, I asked the displaced villagers of Kanchal: "If the Salwa Judum would go away, would you return to your villages in Chhattisgarh?" 
"If Naxalism would go away, would you return?"
"How would Naxalism ever go away?"

The killing of alleged informants by the Maoists has occured at regular intervals and is often unreported. As recently as July 7, Kailash and Shashi Majhi were shot dead by Maoists. Both of them were from Barigaon village in Kashipur, Orissa, a village on the forefront of the Adivasi agitation against displacement which has faced more false arrests and beatings from the police than any other village in Kashipur.

Back in Chhattisgarh, in the village of Basaguda, the Maoists killed four people. Two kilometres away in the village of Lingagiri, the CRPF and the Salwa Judum killed four people and raped two women.
It almost never ends. Story after story of Dantewada involve the killing of people by the Salwa Judum and the Maoists.

And at no point have there been any prosecutions for those who ordered the killings described above. The Supreme Court has ordered that the state must "investigate all previously inappropriately or incompletely investigated instances of alleged criminal activities of Salwa Judum, or those popularly known as Koya Commandos, filing of appropriate FIRs and diligent prosecution".

Yet the men of power continue to be in power, or are shot dead in Maoist ambushes, leading to more vitriolic politics, and further contributing to the downward spiral of violence and counter-violence. So how does disarming the foot soldiers and the cannon fodder change things? Will there really be prosecutions?

To the credit of the state of Chhattisgarh, it is sometimes honest enough not to pretend to be a democracy. From the courts to the press to the intelligence agencies, there is zero tolerance for dissent. Any talk of human rights is denounced as hogwash, and vocal people are often accused of not loving their country.

The recent arrest of whistleblowers and environmental activists Ramesh Agarwal and Harihar Patel, who exposed the environmental crimes of the Jindal Group, is just the tip of the iceberg. Chhattisgarh also holds the dubious distinction of arresting a human rights worker on Human Rights Day for the murder of a man whose life he tried to save. Kopa Kunjam has been in jail for a year and a half now, even after witnesses testified in court that he tried to save lives.

Ironically, as civil society activists celebrate the Supreme Court judgment, Kartam Joga, one of the authors of the Writ Petition that was filed in the Supreme Court, is also still in jail on trumped-up charges.

In another case involving a recent police shooting in Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court has already gone on to mention that the "state is the biggest land grabber", using a colonial era law - the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, to forcefully take farmers' lands and hand them over to private companies over a loosely defined "public purpose".

The state is also using this law in Jaitapur, Maharashtra for the Areva Nuclear power plant; in Lohandiguda, Chhattisgarh for Tata's steel plant; and in Orissa for POSCO's steel plant.  In Orissa, disenfranchised farmers have stood up, organised themselves into islands of resistance, and said "no" to the government's policy of rehabilitation and compensation. One would always hear them tell you: "We'd rather die than give up our land."

Today, children from the villages of Dhinkia and Govindpur have stopped the entry of the police and the administration into their villages, to stop land acquisition, when every government agency has conspired to cheat them of their rights.

Indian democracy falters
The administration has been pondering an armed intervention to break the barricade of young children and women. That's Indian democracy today. A hunger for resources - for land, for forests, for iron ore, for bauxite - is trampling over the rights of people.

And it's not just democracy in the government that is dying in India. Democratic thought seems to have been executed as anonymously as the 17,000 custodial deaths that have taken place in the past ten years, deaths reported by the Asian Centre For Human Rights.

Let us take, for example, the police shootings in Forbesganj, Bihar, on June 2, that left four dead, in which a policeman jumped up and down on a dying man - in front of the officer who said: "It's enough, he got his punishment." Or the shooting in Assam on June 22 that left three people dead, when they were merely asking the government to stop evicting them from their lands and to address their claims over the forest, as per the Forest Rights Act.

The Supreme Court order regarding the Salwa Judum is aware of the state of the nation, when it even goes on to mention, "… that unrest is often the only thing that actually puts pressure on the government to make things work and for the government to live up to its own promises. However, the right to protest, even peacefully, is often not recognised by the authorities, and even non-violent agitations are met with severe repression".

Eventually, the Supreme Court is a democratic fantasy of the nation. They have passed orders that the poor and the disenfranchised of this country would only dream of. And that's what they remain - dreams - as long as the political leaders and the ruling class conduct themselves in manners that are not democratic.

And if they want to change, they can start by reading the court order itself:

"The justification often advanced by advocates of the neoliberal development paradigm, as historically followed, or newly emerging in a more rapacious form in India, is that unless development occurs, via rapid and vast exploitation of natural resources, the country would not be able to either compete on the global scale, nor accumulate the wealth necessary to tackle endemic and seemingly intractable problems of poverty, illiteracy, hunger and squalor. Whether such exploitation is occurring in a manner that is sustainable, by the environment and the existing social structures, is an oft debated topic, and yet hurriedly buried. Neither the policy makers nor the elite in India who turn a blind eye to the gross and inhuman suffering of the displaced and the dispossessed provide any credible answers. Worse still, they ignore historical evidence which indicates that a development paradigm depending largely on the plunder and loot of the natural resources more often than not leads to failure of the state; and that on its way to such a fate, countless millions would have been condemned to lives of great misery and hopelessness." 

Pakistan: Upsurge in Killings in Balochistan
Stop Killing Balochistan
Pakistan's government should immediately act to end the epidemic of killings of suspected Baloch militants and opposition activists by the military, intelligence agencies, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps in the southwestern province of Balochistan, Human Rights Watch said 13/07/11. 

Across Balochistan since January 2011, at least 150 people have been abducted and killed and their bodies abandoned - acts widely referred to as "kill and dump" operations, in which Pakistani security forces engaged in counterinsurgency operations may be responsible. Assailants have also carried out targeted killings of opposition leaders and activists. Human Rights Watch has extensively documented enforced disappearances by Pakistan's security forces in Balochistan, including several cases in which those "disappeared" have been found dead. (See appendix.) 

"The surge in unlawful killings of suspected militants and opposition figures in Balochistan has taken the brutality in the province to an unprecedented level," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The government should investigate all those responsible, especially in the military and Frontier Corps, and hold them accountable." 

In the first 10 days of July, nine bullet-riddled bodies, several of them bearing marks of torture, were discovered in the province, Human Rights Watch said. On July 1, the body of Abdul Ghaffar Lango, a prominent Baloch nationalist activist, was found in an abandoned hotel in the town of Gadani, in the Lasbela district. The local police told the media that, "The body bore multiple marks of brutal torture." Lango had been abducted by men in civilian clothes in Karachi, in Sindh province, on December 11, 2009. When Lango's relatives tried to lodge a complaint about his abduction, the police refused to take it. An officer told the family that Lango had been detained because he was a BNP leader and that the "authorities" wanted to restrain him from participating in politics. 

Hanif Baloch, an activist with the Baloch Students Organisation (Azad), was abducted from the town of Hub, Lasbela district, on July 4. His body was found in Mach, Bolan district on July 6, with three bullet wounds to his upper body. On the same day in Kech district, the bodies of Azam Mehrab, a resident of Tump, and Rahim, a resident of Mand, were found dumped in Juzak, on the outskirts of the town of Turbat. Both had been shot dead under unknown circumstances. 

While Baloch nationalist leaders and activists have long been targeted by the Pakistani security forces, since the beginning of 2011, human rights activists and academics critical of the military have also been killed, Human Rights Watch said. Siddique Eido, a coordinator for the highly regarded nongovernmental organization Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), was abducted with another man by men in security forces uniforms on December 21, 2010 from the town of Pasni in Gwadar district. 

The bodies of both men, bearing marks of torture, were found in Ormara, Gwadar district, on April 28. HRCP said that "the degree of official inaction and callousness" in response to Eido's death amounted to "collusion" in his killing. Earlier, on March 1, an HRCP coordinator for the city of Khuzdar, Naeem Sabir district, was shot and killed by unknown assailants. 

On June 1, Saba Dashtiyari, a professor at the University of Balochistan and an acclaimed Baloch writer and poet, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the provincial capital, Quetta. Dashtiyari had publicly backed the cause of an independent Balochistan.
"Even the cold-blooded killing of human rights defenders and academics has not moved the Pakistani government to seriously investigate, rein in, or hold the security forces to account in Balochistan," Adams said. "The government's failure to open a credible investigation into the killing of someone as prominent as Saba Dashtiyari only adds fuel to the fire of anger and suspicion in the province." 

Armed militant groups in Balochistan are responsible for killing many civilians and destroying private property. In the past several years, they have increasingly targeted non-Baloch civilians and their businesses, police stations, and major gas installations and infrastructure. They have also attacked security forces and military bases throughout the province. Abuses by militants in Balochistan were documented by Human Rights Watch in a December 2010 report "Their Future is at Stake.

Human Rights Watch called upon the Pakistan government to take immediate measures to end killings in Balochistan. The Pakistani authorities should conduct prompt, impartial, and transparent investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and ensure that all those responsible, regardless of rank, are fully prosecuted, including as a matter of command responsibility. Victims of abuses by government security forces should be provided appropriate redress. 

"President Asif Ali Zardari should recognize that ignoring abuses in Balochistan amounts to giving a green light to the army and intelligence agencies to commit abuses elsewhere in Pakistan," Adams said. "By failing to hold the security forces accountable for abuses in Balochistan, Pakistan's government will feed into a cycle of violence that may haunt Pakistani democracy for years to come." 

Background on Balochistan and Human Rights Abuses
Balochistan has historically had a tense relationship with Pakistan's national government, in large part due to issues of provincial autonomy, control of mineral resources and exploration, and a consequent sense of deprivation. Under Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military ruler from 1999 until 2008, the situation deteriorated markedly, culminating in a crackdown on Baloch nationalists by the security agencies controlled by the Pakistani military and its lead intelligence agency in the province, Military Intelligence (MI). 

Since 2005, Pakistani and international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have recorded numerous serious human rights violations by security forces, including extrajudicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances, and forced displacement of civilians. 

Militancy in Balochistan has been fuelled by ethnic Baloch anger over the Pakistani government's moves to harness local mineral and fossil fuel resources, maintain large numbers of troops in the province, and construct the Gwadar deep-sea port at the mouth of the Persian Gulf with non-Baloch workers. The Pakistani military claims that Baloch militants receive arms and financial support from India but has provided no evidence to support the claim. 

In December 2009, Pakistan's newly elected civilian government, in an effort to bring about political reconciliation in the province, passed a package of constitutional, political, administrative, and economic reforms. Nonetheless, doubts persist within Baloch society about the Pakistan government's intentions. Divisions among Baloch nationalists have exacerbated lawlessness and violence in the province.
As the violence in Balochistan has intensified, atrocities have mounted. While the Pakistani military and Baloch militants readily exploit the misery of civilians for their own political purposes, they have failed to address these grievances or to accept responsibility for them. 

Recent Extrajudicial Killings in Balochistan
Human Rights Watch has investigated cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Balochistan. Below are recent cases of killings that indicate involvement by the Pakistani military, its intelligence agencies, or the paramilitary Frontier Corps. There has been a notable failure by the federal government in Islamabad and the Balochistan provincial government in Quetta to investigate these cases and hold perpetrators accountable.

Enforced disappearance and killing of Abdul Ghaffar Lango
On December 11, 2009, a group of unknown men abducted Abdul Ghaffar Lango, a prominent Baloch nationalist activist, outside a hospital in Karachi in Sindh province.
At 3 p.m. that day, Lango was leaving the Institute of Surgery and Medicine, a hospital in Karachi, with his wife, who had just been discharged after surgery. Lango's wife told Human Rights Watch that as the couple reached the main gate, two white Toyota Vigo pickup trucks drove up at high speed in front of them and suddenly stopped. About 10 men in civilian clothes approached the couple. One beat Lango unconscious with the butt of his rifle, and Lango fell to the ground. The men then dragged him into one of the cars and drove away. Lango's wife said there were many witnesses to the incident since it took place in a crowded area in broad daylight. 

Later that day, Lango's relatives tried to lodge a complaint about his abduction at the Garden police station in Karachi, but the police refused to accept it. A police officer at the station told the family that Lango had been detained because he was a BNP leader and authorities wanted to restrain him from participating in politics. But the police would not provide any information on his whereabouts. 

The family filed a petition with the Sindh High Court on January 12, 2010. On January 15, the court ordered the deputy attorney general and advocate general of Sindh to submit a report on Lango's whereabouts within two weeks. On March 3, Sindh Deputy Attorney General Umer Hayat Sindhu told the court on behalf of the director general of the Intelligence Bureau that Lango had not been detained or arrested by the Intelligence Bureau, which, he explained, was "only an intelligence agency that does not detain anyone for interrogation." Police representatives also told the court that Lango was not in their custody. No other security or intelligence authorities reported on Lango's whereabouts. 

On July 1, 2011, Lango's body was found in an abandoned hotel near the Lakbado area of the town of Gadani, in Lasbela district of Balochistan. The local police, represented by the station house officer of the Gadani police station, told the local media: "The body bore multiple marks of brutal torture. The cause of death was stated to be a severe wound in the head, caused by a hard rod or some other hard or sharp object." Lango appeared to have been recently killed. 

Enforced Disappearance and Killing of Siddique Eido and Yusuf Nazar
Siddique Eido, a coordinator for the highly regarded nongovernmental organization Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), and Yousaf Nazar, a tailor by profession, were abducted by men in security forces uniforms on December 21, 2010 from the town of Pasni in Gwadar district. Eido and Nazar were returning from Gwadar to their native Pasni after appearing in court in a criminal case lodged against them. Seven other co-accused and four police officers were travelling with them when their van was stopped by three unlicensed vehicles. The assailants, who were in Frontier Corps uniforms, abducted Eido and Nazar at gunpoint in the presence of the police officers. The bodies of both men were found in Ormara, Gwadar district, on April 28, 2011. Both bore marks of torture. 

In response to the killings and the authorities' failure to seriously investigate the case, HRCP said: "The uniforms of the abductors and the vehicles they had used gave credence to the belief that state agents were involved. Siddique had been abducted in the presence of several policemen, but despite such clear evidence no action was taken to publicly identify abductors or secure release." HRCP added that "the degree of official inaction and callousness" amounted to "collusion" in Eido's killing. 

Enforced Disappearance and Killing of Naseer Kamalan
Naseer Kamalan was abducted at gunpoint on November 5, 2010 from a passenger van on the Makran Coastal Highway near Pasni in Gwadar district. Kamalan's fellow passengers told Human Rights Watch that his abductors were in Frontier Corps uniforms and were driving a jeep of the type commonly used by the Frontier Corps. Kamalan's body was found on January 17, 2011, dumped on the Makran Coastal Highway.

Enforced Disappearance and Killing of Jamil Yaqub
Jamil Yaqub was abducted in the town of Turbat on August 28, 2010 by a group of men in Frontier Corps uniforms, who had arrived in a jeep with military markings and insignia. Family members described to Human Rights Watch how they hid from the Frontier Corps personnel and then watched helplessly as Yaqub was abducted during daylight hours. Yaqub's body, bearing marks of torture, was found on February 10, 2011, on the outskirts of Turbat. 

Other Killings Verified by Human Rights Watch
According to eyewitnesses, Hanif Baloch, a Baloch Students Organisation (Azad) (BSO-Azad) activist, was abducted from the town of Hub on July 4, 2011, by armed men in military uniform. His body was found on July 6, with three bullet wounds to his upper body. 

On July 6, two bodies bearing multiple bullet wounds were found dumped near Juzak on the outskirts of Turbat in Kech district. Turbat District Headquarters Hospital authorities identified them as Azam Mehrab, a resident of Tump, and Rahim, son of Muhammad Yousaf, a resident of Go Kurth area of Mand, in Panjgoor district. 

On June 18, the BSO-Azad junior joint secretary, Shafi Baloch, was abducted from the Lakhpass area of Mastung district. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Baloch was going to Mastung from Quetta in a passenger van for medical treatment when uniformed, armed men in three cars made him disembark and abducted him at gunpoint. His bullet-riddled body was found dumped near Mach, in Bolan district, 60 kilometers from Quetta. 

On June 1, Prof. Saba Dashtiyari, a professor at the University of Balochistan in Quetta and an acclaimed writer and poet, was killed after being shot repeatedly by unidentified gunmen on Sariab Road in Quetta. Dashtiyari was the author of several books on Baloch culture and language and was a scholar on Islam. In recent years, he had publicly backed the cause for an armed struggle to achieve an independent Balochistan. No one has claimed responsibility for Dashtiyari's killing.

Waiting for Kashmir's Mandela

AFTER the Nobel committee in Norway last year awarded its annual peace prize to a jailed Chinese writer and dissident, Liu Xiaobo, controversy raged for months. China’s government huffed and snarled, blocked any relatives from travelling to pick up the prize, told ambassadors of friendly countries to boycott the ceremony, then launched its own, bizarre, rival peace prize. For those who fret about China, both the authorities’ original treatment of their dissident and their reaction to the prize offered troubling evidence of growing illiberalism.

It is now about time for parliamentarians and others who nominate candidates, and for the committee that picks one, to start the process of finding a 2012 laureate. The most basic criteria are these: that some long-running and nasty conflict needs attending to; and that some worthy individual or institution deserves recognition for trying to put things right.

Having just spent some days in Kashmir, in the part of the territory run by India, I am struck that—as far as I am aware—there has never been serious consideration of dishing out a prize for anyone trying to solve the troubles there. No one should doubt that Kashmir suffers grim problems, of two broad sorts. First is the disputed status of the territory. Rival claims by India and Pakistan, ever since a confrontation in 1947, have served as one of various causes of the three full-scale wars between the neighbours. Kashmiris’ own demands for independence muddy matters further. Second, especially in the past couple of decades, is the repressive behaviour of India’s security forces in the territory they control, as they confront militants who are encouraged, armed and deployed by Pakistani backers. On top of this are civilian protesters, such as the stone-pelters of last year, who carry no guns but attack and provoke Indian police and soldiers.

The consequences of it all have been grim indeed, even weighed with the wars aside: thousands killed; more who have been disappeared, jailed or abused. Kashmiris have had many civil rights suspended. Those who dare to speak out are jailed for long periods, often without either charge or trial. Under prolonged emergency rule people are routinely put under house arrest and forbidden from speaking in public. Torture is dismally common. Over the years human-rights groups have documented cases of execution by police, rape, destruction of property and more. Although India, a democracy, in theory guarantees its citizens freedom of speech, authorities also prosecute sedition—so many Kashmiris must fear reprisals if they do speak out.

This year the situation in Kashmir appears relatively calm. But difficulties are not far off. In travels around Srinagar and into the countryside beyond, I found heavily armed police and soldiers all over the place. Still, Kashmiris—and the Indian soldiers and police trying to keep order—are delighted by the relative improvement, which seems to be the result of fatigue among the protesters and better training among the police.

Given the long-running trouble in Kashmir why has the Nobel committee paid it no serious attention? Some in China might suspect that a Western institution gives democratic India a softer ride than it does China. Or perhaps the committee is distracted by regular elections, lively newspapers and other elements of democracy, and so doubts that Kashmir’s problems are really serious.

Neither answer is satisfactory. Instead, the answer may be a lack of an appealing candidate as potential laureate. Among politicians on the subcontinent it is possible to imagine that Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, and maybe even his counterpart in Pakistan, President Asif Zardari, being recognised for trying to promote peace between their countries. On July 27th, for example, their foreign ministers will meet in Delhi. But this process has achieved little yet, and in any case the two leaders are trying hard to keep Kashmir’s status out of discussions, since it is so tricky to address.

Inside Kashmir itself there are various worthy NGOs and activists, some helped by foreign donors, who promote useful things like youth employment, education, care for the environment and the like. But these hardly add up to a big push for peace. As for the UN, it has a presence, but does almost nothing.

Nor, among local politicians and the jailed activists, is there any local Nelson Mandela: an individual who stands out for making prolonged personal sacrifices in the search for a peaceful end to conflict and for better treatment of ordinary people. Many Kashmiri politicians are seen as opportunists who at times supported either militancy or repression. The most notable, outspoken political leader today is the ageing Islamist separatist, Syed Geelani, who remains popular because he has kept his position unchanged for decades. But Mr Geelani, who wants Kashmir to be part of Pakistan, hardly seems peace-loving and is regularly blamed for encouraging bloodshed in the territory. Put another way, his consistency is also evidence of immense stubbornness, a refusal to consider any sort of compromise, reconciliation or forgiveness in the search for peace.

Perhaps likelier candidates exist among more restrained separatists. The current Mirwaiz, spiritual leader of Kashmir’s Sunni Muslims, Umar Farooq, was accused by police last year of inciting violence, though he denied it and is generally reckoned to be a moderate. That is the more remarkable since his father, the Mirwaiz before him, was assassinated probably by hardline separatists for holding his own temperate views. Similarly Sajjad Lone, whose moderate father was murdered in similar fashion, counts as a separatist who has put forward sensible ideas about sharing power in which a united Kashmir would enjoy “soft” borders with both Pakistan and India. Yasin Malik, who leads a part of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, a former commando group which renounced violence in 1994, could be another candidate. But these separatist figures have been eclipsed by prominent Mr Geelani. Among those acceptable to India is the most prominent woman politician in Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed, president of an opposition party. However it is not clear on what basis she would lay claim to a peace prize, though her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, as chief minister from 2002 to 2005 became well-liked for his efforts at reconciliation. 

The result—unless there is a strong candidate whom I have overlooked, and if so, please make a suggestion below—is that the Nobel committee will ignore Kashmir again, sparing India’s authorities the sort of blushes that China suffered last year. One day, however, India will surely be the centre of attention for the Nobel committee, which famously failed to dish out a prize to Mahatma Gandhi, perhaps its biggest oversight yet. Mother Teresa, an Albanian who became an Indian citizen, did get a Nobel peace prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work among the poor, but beyond that, this massive country seems woefully neglected.

'Imposed treaties' cannot bring peace, security lopsided treaty of Versailles that was imposed upon Germany at the conclusion of the First World War brought Hitler to power and sparked another Great War two decades later. Likewise, the 25- year treaty of friendship which Delhi foisted upon Dhaka at the conclusion of the 1971 Indo-Pak war is liable for much of the bloody turmoil that had pulverized Bangladesh in the late 1970s, and continues to do so until now.
It was only recently that Dhaka and Delhi have begun to look eye ball to eye ball. Yet, as if the lessons of history were meant to be brushed aside as nonsense, Bangladesh is once again turning into a satellite state. At least four different uneven treaties/agreements are being prepared for signing during the Indian PM Manmohan Singh's upcoming visit to Dhaka on September 6-7. Excepting the Teesta water sharing agreement, of which little in specific is known as yet, all other agreements are uneven and detrimental to regional peace and stability.
Too much, too fast
Especially the transit deal has moved too fast, despite its onerous geopolitical and economic ramifications. The persistent brinkmanship since it first demanded in 2009 a slew of concessions from Dhaka have finally compelled Bangladesh to capitulate to unreasonable and unfair Indian demands.
While moving with a break-neck speed to secure transit/corridor through Bangladesh, Delhi has also decided to flood our streets with otherwise not-export-worthy Indian vehicles and locomotives, and, to make us energy dependent by finalizing a handful of power connectivity schemes.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said on July 18 that Bangladesh and India have taken a "political decision" on transit (read corridor) for India and a number of protocols regarding the transit would be finalized before the Indian PM's scheduled visit to Bangladesh on September 6-7, which, Moni said, 'are expected to be signed.'
Power & transportation
That message received a glowing reception in Delhi. The same day, Delhi gave mandate to its state-run power producers-NTPC and its appendix the Vidyut Vypar Nigam Ltd. (NVVN) - the mandate to export 250 MW of power to Bangladesh. "We are going to export 250 MW to Bangladesh from the 15 per cent unallocated power we have, and will develop 1,320 MW at Khulna," NTPC Chairman and Managing Director, Arup Roy Choudhury, said on the sidelines of an energy seminar.
This particular move seems too hypocritical and unrealistic due to over 400 million Indian consumers still having no access to electricity; a fact that should have compelled Delhi to focus on providing electricity to its own people first before moving aggressively to set up transmission lines with Bangladesh under a dubious pact signed in July 2010 between the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd and the BPDB of Bangladesh. This power connectivity is expected to be commissioned by early 2013, at a cost of US$ 190 million (around Rs 907 crore).
Already knee-deep into our telecommunication and RMG sectors with over $2 billion stakes, the Indian dash to overtake the transportation and the power sectors is as alarming as is the transit deal.
Yet, finance minister AMA Muhith disclosed last week that his government would spend $960 million of the $1 billion loan committed by the Indian Exim Bank to procure from India 300 double-decker buses, 50 single-decker, 50 articulated, 50 flat wagons, 180 oil tankers and a host of other vehicles and locomotives, in phases.
All these procurements remind one of the sordid memories created by the Indian Maruti taxicab procurement scam of 1998-2000, all those vehicles finding their places in junkyards in less than five years time. This time, the loans must be paid irrespective of the quality of the merchandise provided by India. More loans also mean more tax burden on ordinary people.
Diplomatic shamble
That's not all. The Bangladesh ambassador in Kathmandu, Neem Chandra Bhowmik, was found by the Nepalese authorities to have indulged in a range of non-diplomatic activities, prompting the Nepalese foreign ministry to urge Dhaka for his immediate withdrawal from the Himalayan kingdom. One source said, some of the allegations against Bhowmik involved spying on behalf of India, something the Maoist-dominated Nepalese elites found utterly reprehensible, undiplomatic and damaging to their national interest. "Dhaka has launched an investigation to verify those allegations," according to the source.
A former teacher of the Dhaka University, Bhowmik has been a leading stalwart in the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Association of Bangladesh prior to his hand-picked, mysterious nomination in 2009 to serve as Bangladesh's High Commissioner in Nepal. The army-backed caretaker regime once arrested and imprisoned him for stirring trouble between soldiers and students in August 2007.
If that was not enough, another hand-picked émigré academician cum diplomat had caused further embarrassment to the government by meeting last week with the exiled Tibetan leader, Dalai Lama, in New York. Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, who too was chosen as a blue-eyed buddy of the PM to become Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the UN, did not even bother to ponder how his meeting with the Tibetan exiled leader would throw a deadly spanner on Bangladesh's long-held one-China policy.
Free transit
For too long, an agile and doggedly arrogant pro-Indian cabal has showcased the transit deal as a cash cow for Bangladesh. Now, weeks before the deal is set to be inked and wrapped, the economic gains seem negative when the cost of maintaining and securing the infrastructure is subtracted from whatever may be levied as transit royalty from the ferrying Indian vehicles. Besides, not only our limited road infrastructures will be overcrowded-and the venomous wrath of secessionist forces of Indian north east, the Chinese anger notwithstanding, will be drawn into-there is no other tangible quid pro quo laced with the deal. Compare this with how diplomacy got conducted in the past. Soon after the partition of India in 1947, Nehru wrote to Jinnah seeking transit facilities from the Chittagong port to the Indian North Eastern states. Jinnah replied, "Excellency, this request can be honoured in a mutually beneficial manner. Please allow Pakistan to ferry goods from the Karachi port to East Pakistan via India." Nehru never responded to that counter-offer.
Border dispute
That old-fashioned Indian bluff is called once again due to Delhi showing no intention of resolving the outstanding border demarcation issues with Bangladesh. The euphoria expressed on July 14 by Kamal Uddin Ahmed, a Bangladesh government official involved in the bilateral survey of population living in adverse possessions in both countries, that the so-called head count survey by 125 surveyors from both the countries would be completed in 7 days to prepare ground for the boundary dispute settlement during the Indian PM's Dhaka visit, has turned sour within days.
On July 17, survey at the Mehgalaya-Bangladesh border had to be abandoned due to what the state-controlled Press Trust of India (PTI) said "difference of opinion between the two sides regarding the location of the international border." Of course there is difference of opinion, but how long this stalemate can linger?
The decision to jointly verify the enclave population was taken last September and a Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG) was created to resolve disputes along the Dibirhaor, Sripur, Tamabil, Sonarhat, Bichnakandi, Protappur and Lalakhal in Sylhet, abutting Meghalaya. Other enclaves slated for the survey and demarcation abut the Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal, and, some are along the Kurigram, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhaat and Pachagarh districts of Bangladesh. The survey on hold, no deal on border dispute settlement is expected sooner.
Bitter past
That Delhi is reluctant to settle this combustive matter became clear from other indications. Indian officials claim the population of 111 Indian enclaves is around 100,400 while the 51 Bangladeshi enclaves inside India have 44,000 residents only. Bangladesh, on the other hand, claims it has 55 enclaves inside India and the population of those enclaves is about 150,000 to 300,000. The two nations share over 4,000 km of border, of which about 6.1 km was thought to have remained un-demarcated. Upon closer look, over 15 km of border is found un-demarcated.
Besides, according to Bangladeshi officials, 7,000 acres of Bangladeshi land is inside India and only 3,500 acres of Indian land inside Bangladesh, which India claims to be 17,000 acres. From these wide variations, one can deduce the prospect of additional danger, unless some agreements are arrived at sooner.
That notwithstanding, the tactic being applied by Delhi is reminiscent of what it did in the 1970s. Dhaka and Delhi signed a land border agreement in 1974 and Dhaka expeditiously executed, ratified and handed over the Tin Bigha corridor to India, in return for the Indian commitment to hand over Berubari to Bangladesh. But Delhi never bothered to return Berubari to Bangladesh.
Thus the border demarcation issue remained on the ice, and, for four decades, the residents of Berubari and other enclaves, who are virtually stateless refugees, crossed the international border every day for cultivation and other chores by enduring strict official formalities enforced by the Indian border security personnel.
Things turned further painful when, since 2003, India started to encircle Bangladesh by constructing barbed wire fencing at a cost of $ 3 billion, and, the killing and maiming of thousands of Bangladeshis by the BSF continued unabated. Faced with such hard facts, how Dhaka can concede to unreasonable pressures from Delhi is beyond a sane person's comprehension.

In politics, permanent interest is more important than cosmetic friendship cloaked under a deceptive blend of hoodwink, guile and blackmailing. There are proxy wars in the Indian North East and they must conclude through political means. If the US can conciliate with the Taliban, Delhi should do the same with the ULFA and the others. Only then a transit through Bangladesh will be risk free.