Slips possible between Rouhani’s election and inauguration in August


To the various puzzles America pores over has been added one more: Iran’s President elect, Hassan Rouhani. As an opening gambit, he is being described as “moderate”.

It is being speculated that he will be “moderate” on the nuclear issue even though he has deep roots in the country’s conservative establishment whose views on the issue are known and not liked.

Years ago, “moderation” in all discourse concerning West Asia had a distinct meaning. It was an adjectival expression approving of states which were willing to tow the Western line on the Israeli-Palestinian question. The antonym for moderate those days was “rejectionist”. Had Rouhani been around then, he would have been an arch “rejectionist” as he doubtless will be should Palestine ever be allowed to swim into the West Asian ken as an issue.

The obscuring of the principal issue in West Asia, namely Palestine, can, at best, be a tactic. Strategic minds like Turki al Faisal, former Saudi Ambassador to the US, have said so repeatedly. He wrote in the New York Times: Unless the US throws its weight behind “an early two-state” solution for Palestine, “Pariah states like Syria and Iran would gain”.

Turki is not alone in listing Iran in the category of “pariah”. Iranian participation on any debate on the Israel-Palestine issue will immediately invite choice invective from Jerusalem and Washington and, in discreet, deniable whispers, from Riyadh. The rhetoric will immediately be ratcheted up and all the speculation about President-elect, Rouhani’s expected “moderation” will evaporate. He will become the leader of a “pariah state”, part of the “Axis of Evil”.

Iran’s nuclear intentions are among the last of the issues that will ever be settled between the West and the Islamic Republic. And that settlement will not exhaust the formidable agenda dictated by Iran’s strategic vision: it is a major power in the Persian Gulf region. If a dictator like the Shah was accorded that status, why not the Islamic Republic? This is the way Qom thinks.

When the US needed Iranian help in the earliest stages of its occupation of Afghanistan, Washington sent Zalmay Khalilzad as its Persian speaking Ambassador to Kabul. Believe it or not, at one stage Khalilzad was among the list of prospective Presidents of the country.

For his successes in Kabul, Khalilzad was rewarded. He was promoted as ambassador to Baghdad. Since Iran had a long border with Iraq, as it did with Afghanistan, a Teheran friendly envoy was needed.

As expected, Khalilzad set up an impressive, wide ranging agenda with Iran. But, lo and behold, the Deep State in the US pulled the rug from under his feet. Who asked you to engage the Iranians across the spectrum? We want them on the mat only on the nuclear issue. So, like Humpty Dumpty, poor Khalilzad had a great fall!

During Khalilzad’s brief spell, the nuclear issue was posed to block what might well have been a promising normalization process. That is why chants of “moderate, moderate” that have greeted Rouhani in anticipation of his nuclear policy should, at best, be received with a shrug.

Iraq, Arab Spring, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain have all diverted attention from pivotal issues which, in Iranian perception is Palestine and in Western, diversionary projection, the nuclear question.

And now at this moment some of the real issues of immediate concern to both the West and Iran are Afghanistan and Syria.

In Syria, the situation on the ground has swung in favour of the regime. Planes are dropping leaflets over Alleppo, asking the internal opposition to surrender and they are complying. It is in the nature of conflicts in which various states have diverse interests, that the conflict be suitably prolonged so that no one side emerges victorious.

In the final spasms, there will be Israeli provocations in Southern Lebanon and Syrian rockets on the Golan Heights and so on. Yes, between Rouhani’s election and his inauguration in August there is chance of many a slip.

As it is, Rouhani’s election hailed by Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei on the one hand and Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami on the other, consolidates the clergy behind the new leader. There has been no comparably clean election in the Muslim world in recent history except perhaps in Turkey in 2011. Rouhani has been hailed internationally as a leader who provides a moment of hope in a beleaguered region. Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan on the other hand has spilt the goodwill he had collected.

None of these reports on Iran can be honeyed music to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. How would these two contemplate the run of good luck Iran has had this decade. The removal of Taliban from Kabul, Saddam Hussain’s departure and a Shia-led regime in Baghdad, Huthis in Yemen, Hezbullah in Lebanon, the Shia-Sunni divide in Kuwait, the overwhelming Shia majority in Bahrain, and the new turn of events in Syria are all extremely worrisome for Riyadh and Qatari.

The latter, of course, has egg all over its face because the full blown embassy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Doha must be looking very forlorn in the absence of delegations. Americans had very nearly pulled off a first in the annals of diplomatic history – umpiring a dialogue between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirate both claiming control of the same country. And Americans claiming control over both.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

BJP can either promote Modi or the NDA


When RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat arrives in the capital on Tuesday to meet L.K. Advani and other BJP leaders, the party faction floating in the clouds after Goa will come down to earth. Ofcourse, the key decision taken at the party’s conclave in Goa will remain unchanged. Narendra Modi will remain the campaign panel chief for 2014, but just as Arun Jaitley and Pramod Mahajan held that position in 2009 and 2004 respectively. In other words, Goa will not look like the beginning of a Modi coronation.

What the Bhagwat-Advani meet will bring into bold relief is also something that has been pretty clear to the panic stricken BJP leaders who trooped into the senior leader’s Prithviraj Road residence on Tuesday and established telephone lines between him and Bhagwat in Nagpur to pronounce a simple message: Advani, at 85, is far from having sung his swan song. We need him to stay in the game, seems to be the voiceless chant of leaders who, in their own deep heart’s core, were denied the limelight in Goa.

The leaders who knelt before him beating their breast – “please don’t go; please don’t go” – were not demonstrating their adoration for Advani. Rather, they saw in his eclipse a shrinking of their room for maneuver, an end to whatever dreams they may have nurtured. And there is no end to their dreams. That Advani himself had grasped this reality comes across in his letter of resignation from party forums. “Most leaders of ours are now concerned with their personal agendas.”

It is extraordinary how the electronic media for months sustained a chant in unison about a gladiatorial combat between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. Evening after evening, six faces screamed out of six windows on the TV screen their unprocessed wisdom on the Rahul-Modi contest when no such contest was on the cards.

Digvijay Singh was for Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate, thus ending the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh bipolarity at the top. In determined opposition to this line was another Congress General Secretary, Janardan Dwivedi. He thought the bipolar power structure was, for the Congress, a gift from the Gods. So, the Congress need not snicker at the unseemly factionalism in the BJP.

What no one quite expected is the scale of the eruption in Goa: a showdown between the party’s most experienced and its most popular face. In the process, skeletons in a very securely stacked cupboard of the RSS also came rattling down. The RSS supremo is having to intervene in order to restore balance in favour of Advani after his colleagues, Ram Lal and Suresh Soni had tilted the scales for Modi.

The manner in which the media has supported Modi’s current elevation, makes it amply clear that Corporate India supports the move. After all, the nose of the media ends where that of the Corporates begins. But why would Corporate India support a candidate who repels coalition partners in an age when no government can be formed in New Delhi by any party on its own in the foreseeable future?

Corporate India cannot have extended support to Modi simply because he has been extraordinarily hospitable to them in Gujarat. He must have other uses.

He is by all accounts, decisive, firm, strong willed, obstinate, but with many managerial skills too. These could be attributes of a successful manager of a party like the BJP not its Prime Ministerial candidate as some of his ardent supporters would like him to be.

A Prime Ministerial candidate in the coalition era must have one overriding attribute: suppleness and an infinite capacity to give other points of view a patient hearing. These were the qualities that moved Atal Behari Vajpayee up the ladder until he became Prime Minister.

In fact it is useful to recall that in 1999, when the NDA came to power under Vajpayee’s Prime Ministership, Advani was known as the Iron man. When Bill Clinton sent his trusted adviser Bill Richardson to evaluate the NDA leadership on the eve of the US President’s visit to New Delhi, Richardson described Advani as “the intellectual in the NDA”.

Modi may not have Advani’s “intellect” but he has some of the senior leader’s other qualities. Therefore, just as Advani made room which Vajpayee filled, so must Modi have a preferred Prime Ministerial candidate. Who, in other words, will be Modi’s Vajpayee?

A talent for coalitions being totally absent from his DNA, Modi as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate is only thinkable in the event of the party going it alone, to break out of indecisiveness of the coalition mould, to risk losing, in order to come back on another occasion, taking advantage of the credit accumulated by making a sacrifice of power now. But going alone would be in opposition to Advani’s stated line in recent months, that of NDA plus. A post Advani never resigned from is that of NDA president. NDA plus would entail the BJP toning down its saffron to cast its inclusive net wider. Who knows in the event of a fractured verdict in 2014, Advani’s may be the most acceptable image.

There is yet another possibility. If Modi repels both minorities and other coalition partners, for that reason, all the hype attending his elevation may scare voters away, from the BJP ofcourse, but also from smaller parties because vote blocs would be looking for a big party with a secure future in the Delhi Durbar. In that case the eventual beneficiary of the Modi projection may well be the UPA under Manmohan Singh for the third time. Unless, ofcourse, the Congress exceeds the figure of 206 seats it won in 2009. In that most unlikely of events, the coronation turban will be tied around Rahul Gandhi’s head.

(Saeed Naqvi is senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

The Weekend Fraud on India


Yet another scam is being perpetrated by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) during this weekend. This time the target is the youth of this country, i.e. future specialist doctors. Can the government order a conducting authority to alter the results of an examination after it has been announced? The government has exactly done that. Can candidates be given less than 48 hours between the beginning and end of the weekend for counseling? This is exactly what is happening in Delhi to obviate legal intervention.

Any academic examination or even a sporting event is conducted within the framework of rules and parameters. If these are changed after the results have been declared then extraneous considerations and corrupt practices is obvious. This is exactly what has happened with regard to the NEET-PG 2013 (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance) exam conducted by the National Board of Exams in December 2012.

In December 2012, for the first time the NEET exam was conducted on an All India basis to bring a degree of uniformity, fairness and transparency. Also a major reason for conducting this national level exam was to prevent the play of money-power in allocation of seats. No sooner the exams were conducted the private medical institutions approached the Supreme Court with the appeal that the NEET list as stipulated should not be binding on them. The results were to be declared in the end of January 2013, but were withheld on the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.  Even as the matter is sub-judice, a sting operation by a national television channel revealed that medical seats were being sold by some private institutions, typical of mafias.

Recently, Mr Prashant Bhushan also argued in the Supreme Court that the criteria of minimum 50 percent marks in the NEET entrance examination should be applied to the private institutions, as they can get away by even selling a seat to a candidate with zero percent marks. The Counsel on behalf of private medical institutions argued that the internal exam that they conduct lays a minimum stipulation of 50 percent. What is important however is the emphasis on 50 percent. The matter is sub-judice.

Interim Order

Meanwhile on 13 May 2013, the Hon’ble Supreme Court issued an interim order and allowed NEET to declare the results pending final verdict on the ongoing litigation. Accordingly the results were declared and nearly 49,000 out of 90,000 candidates were declared as qualified on the basis of ‘percentile’ (not percentage) as strictly prescribed by the NEET and approved by the government.

Conduct of Exam

The NEET exams were conducted online between 23 November and 6 December 2012 on various days referred to as ‘testing windows’, at 33 centers all over India. The rules and the framework of the exam were given in the prospectus as early as 2012 at the time of declaration of NEET exam by the Medical Council of India of 2012. This exam, i.e. the NEET PG, a single exam to determine eligibility-cum-ranking system laid the following stipulations in its prospectus with regard to the passing criteria for various categories of examinees:

  • 50% and above percentile for General category.
  • 40% and above percentile for SC/ST/OBC.
  • 45% and above percentile for PWD.

Percentage and Percentile

An explanation of the percentile system adopted by the NEET is in order. For example, the 20th percentile is the value (or score) below which 20 percent of the observations may be found. The term percentile and the related term percentile rank are often used in the reporting of scores from norm-referenced tests. For example, if a score is in the 86th percentile, it is higher than 86% of the other scores.

Why Percentile?

This is the most appropriate method suggested when exams are conducted on different set of papers with no negative marking and on different dates and at different centers.

As against the percentage system, this is based on relative value and caters to the degree of difficulty of various sets of papers in that particular year. Depending on the degree of difficulty of questions based on general performance a relative weightage is accorded to each question.

Hypothetically, it could well be the case that a topper with 99th percentile can have 100% marks in one year and in another year could well have just 50% or 60% or even 30% or below.

This system also ensures that there is not a situation where the difference between the top and the bottom is yawning, say 98% and 40%, an impossible situation for any class, any institution or any teacher.

The Scam

Intriguingly, once the NEET PG results were declared following the Hon’ble Supreme Court interim order, the government in the first week of this month ordered an amendment. It issued orders, which in effect amounted to making a departure from ‘percentile system’ to ‘percentage system’.

Consequently the number of qualified candidates suddenly swelled from approximately 49,000 to 70,000. The motivation to accommodate certain non-qualified students is evident.

In this illegal bid the MoHFW, vide its letter (F No. V11025/2/2013-MEP-1 FTS 51298, dated 31st May 2013) quoted a representation from the Schedule Caste Commission. The extract of the letter is reproduced below:

I am directed to refer to the representation of the SC/ST students received from National Commission for Scheduled Caste in which it has been stated that despite of scoring 50% marks or more in NEET-PG, 2013, they are unable to qualify the exam as their percentile is less than 40 as prescribed. This Ministry has examined the result declared by National Board of Examination (NBE) and it has been found that the students securing marks above 40% in case of SC/ST/OBC have not been reflected in the qualifying list.

As per the PG Medical Education regulations amendment dated 15/2/2012, Central Government in consultation with MCI has relaxed the qualifying percentile so that the student of SC/ST/OBC who have secured 40% or above marks, UR/PH 45% or above and UR 50% or above respectively are qualified for admission to Post Graduate courses.

It is therefore requested to declare the result accordingly. The percentile relaxed by the Central Government shall be applicable for admission of PG Courses of this academic year i.e. 2013-14 only.

The underline portion reflects the fraud perpetrated through this letter. The shift from ‘percentile’ to ‘percentage’ amounts to the very subversion of the concept of the NEET PG exam and the rules and parameters set by it. It is a total miscarriage of mathematical logic in reconciling ‘percentile’ with ‘percentage’.

Fraudulently the above letter quotes PG Medical Education regulations amendment dated 15/2/2012 as the legal bulwark for reducing qualifying percentages and making a departure from the ‘percentile system’. This amendment was introduced when the pre NEET PG exam was not even conceived and exams were conducted on a single day and importantly there were ‘negative marking’. It may be reiterated that when exams are conducted without negative marking and on multiple days the most fair and transparent method is ‘percentile system’. This letter therefore makes a mockery of both ‘percent’ and ‘percentile’ system.

Initially, the affected candidates did not pay much heed to the machinations behind the governments declaration to revise the NEET PG results.

The Weekend Fraud

The revised list was intriguingly issued by Delhi University on Friday, the 14th of June 2013 and the day of Counseling was declared as ‘Sunday’, the 16th of June 2013, leaving only Saturday for all bank and other legal documentation imperatives. Besides many students are away from Delhi. This haste appears to be the biggest part of the conspiracy.

Sources involved in the Counseling process have conveyed to this author that they have strict orders to the effect, that come what may, the process of counseling has to be begin on Sunday. Obviously the ploy is to initiate the fraud on a weekend when the courts are closed.

Is Someone Listening?

The illegal departure by the government from ‘percentile’ to ‘percentage’ system after the declaration of results gives credence to ulterior motives being attributed to government officials at the highest levels.

If these are the kind of games the government plays with the youth of this country, India is doomed.

Is someone listening? Will someone cancel the fraudulent counseling on Sunday, the 16th of June 2013.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a guest blogger for Canary Trap)

Spot fixing case: Court raps Delhi Police for ‘misusing MCOCA’


“There is no reason for believing that accused are guilty of MCOCA…..the court finds no sufficient material for nexus of accused with organized crime syndicate….Court has considered the nature of evidence….Court is satisfied that the accused will not flee….”

This is what a Delhi Court had to say as it rapped the Delhi Police for “trying to misuse MCOCA”. The court also granted bail to Rajasthan Royals’ player S Sreesanth and eighteen others, including his former teammate Ankeet Chavan.

The Delhi Police’s Special Cell during the arguments in the court on Monday also confirmed that Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan (as if nobody in India knows it) and that Underworld is actively involved in fixing in the cricket. The Special Cell cited some conversations between Dawood and Tinku Mandi, Chotu Nagpur, and Javed Chautani (is in Dubai). One of the intercepted calls from Pakistan, between Dawood and Chautani, was routed from India to Dubai. Here’s an excerpt of one of the claimed conversations:

Dawood: Salaam

Javed Chautani: Walekummn bhai

Javed Chautani: Bhai vo 7 million ka offer de raha hai

Dawood: 8 se kam nahi lena

Javed Chautani: Ok bhai

Dawood: Mere pass usne 9 bola tha, maine kaha 8 se kam nahi lunga

Javed Chautani: Main 8 bolke chod dunga

Dawood: Ok 7 lele

Dawood: Pakki baat hai 100 percent

Javed Chautani: Minister sahab se baat ki

Sow the wind in Syria, reap the whirlwind in Turkey


It was October 2011. I knew this would be my last evening with the distinguished Turkish journalist, Mehmet Birand, as we looked over the Bosphorus from my hotel in Istanbul. He had been fighting cancer bravely for quite some time but the extent to which his large frame had shrunk was a clear sign that the disease was getting the better of him.

Birand had not allowed the disease to subdue his spirits. Quite to the contrary, he had seldom been as optimistic about Turkey’s place in world affairs. His country was not yet sowing the wind in Syria.

“All these years we have been a docile ally of the West” he said. “But today we can hold our head high as an independent nation, a dissident country in the Western Alliance”.

He enjoyed using the term “dissident”, like he had been freed from the straitjacket imposed on his nation by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Pasha.

This sense of being “freed” was, in large measure, attributable to the manner in which Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, had expanded his electoral base from 36 percent in 2003, to 42 percent in 2007 and 50 percent in July 2011. Only with this kind of popular support could a government in Ankara tame the Army. This Erdogan had effectively managed.

The trick to ride the crest of popularity exceeding even Ataturk’s was to fall back on the formula of “independent action in foreign affairs”. This, in most Muslim countries, easily translates itself into anti Americanism.

When Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, sought passage for US troops into Iraq in 2003, Erdogan refused because 90 percent of the population were opposed to military action. His popularity grew in geometric progression.

With a considerable sense of theatre, he walked out on a bewildered Shimon Peres in Davos. He snapped ties with the Jewish state when a Turkish goodwill vessel carrying succor to Gaza was attacked by Israel. This was a total reversal of Turkey’s relations with Israel. Quite shrewdly, Erdogan had charted a path which went down well with the Arab street. He played this audacious hand because he knew that retribution would not be visited upon him for being a “rejectionist”. Turkey had its own protection: it was a member of NATO. Saddam Hussain and Qaddafi had been made examples of. Syria and Iran were in the line of fire. Their guilt?  Having the temerity for being independent.

That is why Turkey was an awkward “dissident” in the Western Alliance as Birand put it. Further, as part of its policy of peace with all its neighbours, Ankara had befriended Teheran to a point where the latter was willing to hand over its nuclear material to Ankara for safe keeping. All of this was deeply disturbing.

Could Erdogan be manipulated? Of course he could, if only one knew his background. Erdogan and his colleague, President Abdullah Gul, had learnt their paces in politics in the company of Necmettin Erbakan whose Islamist Refah party came to power riding a wave of resentment in Turkey against the televised brutalization of Bosnian Muslims, once subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Guardians of the secular state from the Ataturk era, the Turkish army dethroned Erbakan. But a determined Refah party reinvented itself as a toned down Conservative party without abandoning its Islamist base. Under the leadership of Erdogan and Abdullah Gul, the new Justice and Development party (AK party) strode out.

For two and a half terms Erdogan and Abdullah Gul kept up a plausible manner: they were non ideological, moderate Muslims. Yes, there was an occasional skirmish on trifles like headscarves for women but no serious threat of a Shariah flag being hoisted on a nation restored by Ataturk.

Why, then, did Erdogan manage to shuffle off the moderate image which had caused his reputation to rocket sky high?

First, the constitution does not allow a Prime Minister more than three terms. Thus, Erdogan saw the end of the road for himself in internal politics. He will probably try swapping jobs with Abdullah Gul in 2014-15. But will people let him? After all, 70 percent are opposed to conflict with Syria.

Second, the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Arab world, with a common strand, but different shades, tempted him to project himself as a true disciple of Erbakan to be able to beam his Islamic charisma regionally.

Also, he had won three successive elections improving his vote each time. This helped qualify Turkey as something of a model democracy in an Arab world where peoples’ power could well be the order in the foreseeable future. These were alluring propositions for the AKP leadership but an obvious fact was obscured from their vision: Arabs will accept “Ottomans” only upto a point.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar had joined hands and were playing for very high stakes (a) to scuttle the peoples’ movement, an essential ingredient in the Arab Spring, which brought down regimes in Tunis and Cairo. They, and the rest of the GCC, were the most vulnerable should Kingdoms and Sheikhdoms ever be threatened. (b) They sought to divert popular discontent along sectarian, Shia-Sunni lines. (c) A major focus of exactly this strategy has been a foreign induced civil war in Syria, hopefully along Sunni-Alawi lines, targeting Bashar al Assad who is being cast in the Western media as some sort of an Alawi Ogre. With Assad’s departure (went the facile theory) Syria would be removed from the Iran, Hezbulla, Hamas axis. How? What, pray, will come in Assad’s place? The 148 groups fighting the regime who can’t even form a delegation for Geneva-II? Listen to Tom Friedman screaming: send a UN force; send a UN force!

Look at the nature of the plot and the naïve simplicity of the expected outcome. Endorsed by the US and Europe, financed by Saudis and Qataris, helped by Turkey, armed by everyone, groups not dissimilar from the ones the US has been fighting in the Af-Pak region, are expected to create conditions which will cause a regime change in Damascus.

Why will this heartless, remote controlled operation bring about regime change in Damascus? After all, it took a full-fledged US occupation of Iraq, destruction of the Baath structure, wiping out the secret service, killing of Saddam Hussain and all over ten years, before the US could leave Iraq in the sort of mess that country is in today. Syrian power structure is, in some senses, a mirror image of the Iraqi regime. According to Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN representative in Syria, there are 148 groups, big and small, fighting in the country. Yes, these Islamic brigands can destroy Syria, but not change the regime which is fighting with its back to the wall and has been quite as brutal as the imported Islamists creating mayhem in the countryside.

Now that the two sides have fought each other to a standstill, comes the moment of reckoning for the regional promoters of the mayhem. This is the moment that will change the region. Witness the escalating protests in Turkey.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

US diplomatic cable commenting on Jagdish Tytler’s role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots

This US Diplomatic cable, published by Wikileaks, contains political highlights from their embassy in New Delhi for December 17-21, 2007.

The cable includes information and comment about the court order reopening the November 1984 riots case against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler.

Below is the reproduction of the part of the cable which talks about Tytler’s case.



Court Orders Reopening Riots Case Against Congress Leader

1. (U) Justice may yet be served in the case of former Congress Minister Jagdish Tytler’s orchestrating role in Delhi’s 1984 anti-Sikh riots. A Delhi court has ordered India’s Criminal Bureau of Investigations (CBI) to reopen the case against Tytler to take into account statements from a key witness. Jasbir Singh, now settled in the U.S., claimed to have overheard and seen Tytler inciting and leading murderous mobs in North Delhi during the riots. The Nanavati Commission’s original investigation into Tytler’s role during the riots found “credible evidence” that he played a role in organizing the communal attacks, but the CBI controversially recommended closure of the case in September for lack of evidence and because Jasbir Singh supposedly could not be traced. Singh filed his affidavit in 2000 but subsequently moved to the U.S. where Indian authorities insisted they had been unable to reach him until he recently resurfaced through media outlets following the closure of the case.

2. (C) Comment: Tytler’s day in court is long overdue. In the days after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, he was among the local Congress Party leaders competing with one another to see which wards would shed more Sikh blood. In exhorting his party cadres and goons to kill more Sikhs, he is reported to have told them they shamed him in the eyes of the top Congress leaders because there were fewer killings in his wards. The killing by his henchmen apparently ensured his success in establishing Congress Party bona fides and demonstrating fealty to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty because he has regularly been given the Congress Party ticket in parliamentary elections since then and has served as a federal Minister in Congress-led governments. The role of Tytler and other Congress leaders continues to be a millstone for the Congress Party and the secular credentials it professes to espouse. Many commentators view the Congress Party’s involvement in inciting and murdering innocent civilians in 1984 as far worse than the purported role of Gujarat Chief Minister Modi in condoning the 2002 Gujarat riots. While these recent court developments do not imply that we will see Tytler’s conviction — none of the mob leaders have been convicted in the 23 years since the riots — they are a step towards justice for the families victim to Tytler’s murderous actions in 1984. The court’s order shows how the CBI has become a pliant pawn of political masters but also demostrates the fierce independence of the Indian judiciary. Note: Despite his notoriety, we learned recently that Tytler has a valid B1/B2 visa. End Note.

You can also read the entire cable here: