What the Refugee crisis tells us about Europe


The manner in which most countries of the Global North have responded to thousands of Muslim refugees fleeing conflict hot-spots in the Middle East raises deep questions about their liberal and democratic credentials. Much of Europe but also Australia and North America’s response to the refugee crisis is discriminatory and borders on unstated racism. It is a response that exposes their inability to be comfortable with idea of a multi-racial, multi-religious democracy.

Since the end of World War II, these countries owned the human rights narrative as a proprietary feudal asset. They lectured the Global South on human rights. They used it as a tool of their foreign and economic policy. They spoke passionately about the universalisation of human rights. But in 2015, as refugees from West Asia stream into Europe, all these fine princples have been cast aside.

The Western media has conveniently supported the narrative of their governments by calling the refugee crisis “a migrant crisis” – terminology that, as Al Jazeera rightly noted, “dehumanises and distances” the plight of people fleeing from violence. But why is the debate over words so desperately important? Because European countries want to escape all accountability under international law.

A refugee is a person who is outside the country of his nationality and cannot return to it for ‘fear of persecution’ on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. This ‘fear’ must be ‘well-founded’ for the grant of refugee status by international organisations like the UN. If the “fear of persecution” is unfounded then a person who is seeking refugee status can be deported.

There is a civil war raging in large tracts of Syria, Iraq and Libya. So under the UN definition, all people ‘fleeing’ conflict hot-spots in West Asia and North Africa are doing so ‘owing to well-founded fear of persecution’ and thus should be given refugee status. Especially since Western countries cannot escape responsibility for engineering these bloody civil wars through their regime change geo-politics.

Refugees have rights

Stunned by the scale of the refugee influx and shocked by the prospect of granting refugee status to tens of thousands of West Asian Muslims, European countries – most of whom are narrowly focused on ensuring social cohesion – would rather call this a “migrant crisis” and stick to their Fortress Europe immigration policies. Europe wants to keep Muslim refugees out. They have done this simply by throwing their moral compass away.

Most European countries are signatories to the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention and are legally bound to uphold the principle of ‘non-refoulement’– which forbids the rendering of a true victim of persecution to his or her persecutor. European countries are ethically and legally bound to “not return” these fleeing people to a situation where their life is at risk.

Instead of embracing this principle, the consensus in the corridors of powers in Europe has been to put the fleeing Muslim refugees at risk by closing their borders. Article 33 of the UN Refugee Convention, 1951, enjoins states not to “expel or return (refouler) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his (or her) life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Many Europeans leaders, despite the sensitivity some of them have demonstrated towards the plight of the refugees, have decided to stand the application of this international law principle on its head.

The current refugee situation is now also a global crisis of responsibility and the UN system and all leaders of the world need to come together to ensure that those fleeing war and repression are treated in a safe, orderly and dignified way. As Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden – the largest per capita receiver of asylum seekers in Europe – told the General Assembly’s 70th session, “We should dramatically increase the number of resettlement places, expand legal avenues for migration, and base all our efforts on the principle of non-refoulement and the right to seek asylum. And it is extremely urgent that all countries of the European Union treat the people seeking refuge in the Union in a spirit of humanity, solidarity and shared responsibility.”

However, other EU states have either refused to take part in allocation schemes, or, like Hungary and Bulgaria, have put up fences around their borders to keep refugees out. Tens of thousands of persons have entered Hungary in recent months, mostly en route to Germany and other northern European countries, but Hungarian law makes it illegal for civilians in Hungary to help them get there, prohibits offering free rides to people who’ve entered the country illegally and without a visa and even grants Hungarian police and military extraordinary powers to search private homes if they suspect someone of harbouring illegal migrants.

European policy in disarray

Clearly, European governments are seeking to deflect from what is their collective responsibility – and failure. The Common European Asylum System (CEAS), which was created in the 1990s, was not equipped to handle such large numbers. The 1997 Dublin Regulation – which compels asylum seekers to ask for protection in the first EU country they enter – has resulted in countries like Greece and Italy playing host to thousands of refugees as they happen to be the easiest and closest to reach by sea. Besides, it disregards the fact that many countries of first asylum may lack the political will and institutional capacity to provide asylum seekers what they deserve. The EU urgently needs to create a new paradigm for division of responsibilities as the quota system is failing. Hungary has announced it could join Slovakia in mounting a legal challenge to the EU’s flawed refugee quota system, which was approved despite opposition from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Meanwhile Croatia has banned Serbian citizens and cars from entering the country after Serbia banned Croatian cargo traffic in a growing dispute over migrants. Europe desperately needs a comprehensive refugee policy which incorporates the dimension of cooperation beyond national borders.

What the mirror is reflecting today is the utter failure of political leadership and collective political imagination in the face of nativist anxieties over possible demographic and cultural change. Germany was the only country that showed some signs of moral leadership by agreeing to suspend application of the Dublin Regulation for arriving Syrian refugees but that too was short-lived. It is the only country which has opened its doors and borders to all those searching for refuge and a safe haven and is now expecting to take in about 800,000 asylum seekers by the end of this year – more refugees than the 626,000 the entire European Union took in last year. Ordinary Germans in cities like Munich donated so much that the police had to ask them to stop because they were overwhelmed with the sheer volume of aid items.

But Europe’s status quo remains unfriendly to refugees. The problem today has assumed unmanageable proportions because Europe is struggling to bridge the huge gap between political realism and the need for a policy response embedded in empathy. While the EU made a collective resettlement commitment for 20,000 refugees, this adds up to only 10 per cent of the total Syrian refugee population, as the latter, according to UNHCR statistics, may be as large as 400,000.

The sheer inadequacy of the international legal framework on refugees is accompanied by the timidity of agencies like the UNHCR, which quietly noted that it “continues to be greatly concerned by forcible returns or barriers placed by some countries preventing the entry of asylum-seekers and refugees” but is unwilling or unable to say or do more. The entire world is witness to the European unwillingness to implement Article 33 of the Refugee Convention. This failure is magnified when seen in the context of another fact – poorer countries in Asia and Africa carry the bulk of the world’s refugee burden.

The recent EU emergency summit only succeeded in throwing money at aid agencies and transit hosting countries and will perhaps help in stepping up the identification and finger-printing of refugees in Italy and Greece by November. Where the EU has failed is in agreeing on ways of offering asylum seekers legal protection, in being unable to create more legal pathways for refugees to reach safety in Europe. In his statement, UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon also appealed to the EU to acknowledge the rights of refugees and migrants and to provide them with protection, calling on European leaders to do more to ensure a dignified and humane reception and claim processing of the thousands of men, women and children seeking protection in Europe. He also recalled that refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants have inalienable rights that must be respected, including the right to claim asylum, and that states must abide by their international obligations, especially the principle of non-refoulement.

Need for new standards

India, despite being a non-signatory to the Refugee Convention, has traditionally been a generous host country to refugees spilling onto its territories across its international borders. India has historically maintained an open door policy for refugees and even granted long term visas and work permits to them. In the absence of national asylum legislation, the UNHCR conducts registration and refugee status determination (RSD), and facilitates the resettlement of vulnerable groups. But India’s refugee policy has been ad hoc and politically expedient. While third generation Tibetans living on Indian soil even have voting rights today, many Sri Lankan refugees languish in prison-like conditions in camps. Refugee groups like Rohingya Muslims have a hard time finding homes and jobs on Indian soil and with the recent securitisation angle, tend to be looked at through the lens of suspicion. Nonetheless people from mostly all neighbouring countries – Hindus from Pakistan, Afghanis, Bhutanese, Nepalese, Bangladeshis, Burmese Rohingyas and Sri Lankan Tamils – have sought and received de facto sanctuary on Indian soil for years now.

Therefore, on behalf of the developing world, India must call the West’s bluff on human rights. When countries of the Global North countries talk down to the Global South on human rights, they do so by bringing the moral weight of their open societies, democratic values, legal systems and processes to bear. India, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria and others must shatter the Global North’s proclivity to use or mis-use international law as a shield to promote their national interests. In return for decades of lecturing on human rights, Global South leaders must effectively use the European violation of international law on refugees to question the Global North’s commitment to international law when it directly conflicts with their national interest.

If there was ever a moment when the entire architecture of modern international law has been so summarily put to disuse, then this is it. Now is the time for developing countries to take the lead in co-creating new approaches in international law, upholding existing guidelines for refugees while pushing for even more humane standards.

(Priyanca Mathur Velath is an alumnus of the Refugee Studies Programme at the University of Oxford and currently teaches Political Science at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore & Shashikumar Velath is a journalist and currently a Leadership Group Member in Ashoka – Innovators for the Public)

(Note: The article was first published on The Wire on October 27, 2015. It is reproduced here with the permission of the authors)

The secret US prisons you’ve never heard of before

Investigative journalist Will Potter is the only reporter who has been inside a Communications Management Unit, or CMU, within a US prison. These units were opened secretly, and radically alter how prisoners are treated — even preventing them from hugging their children. Potter, a TED Fellow, shows us who is imprisoned here, and how the government is trying to keep them hidden. “The message was clear,” he says. “Don’t talk about this place.” (Reproduced from TED Talks)

Click here for more about Will Potter and his work on CMU

BJP govt in Maharashtra should act against Sanatan Sanstha

If the Maharashtra government were to resuscitate its Anti-Terrorism Squad’s (ATS) 1020-page chargesheet filed 7 years ago against six members of two Hindu extremist organisations, the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), for setting off bomb blasts in Thane, Vashi and Panvel, a stunning narrative of what fringe, violent extremist Hindu outfits were planning to unleash would have been crystal clear. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, cannot turn their attention away from this hard reality just as the Congress-led UPA government did during its tenure. The Sanatan Sanstha has influenced the thinking of all extremist Hindu fringe organizations; from Bajrang Dal to Shiv Sena to Sri Ram Sene. Its narrow, communal, dogmatic, non-inclusive and violent extremist interpretation of Hinduism is bound to politically impact the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) adversely. The BJP must firmly position itself on the side of a plural, multi-cultural India and should even promote a “free” debate on the nature of communalism in India.

The fact is that India and its citizens have lived through horrible communal tragedies when BJP did not have any presence in India’s political landscape — the terrible riots in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the 1984 massacre of Sikhs. The BJP transformed the hidden communalism embedded in Congress politics into a hardline Hindutva virulent strain. However, with the political ascent of the BJP over the last two decades it is important for the ruling party to nullify the unintended consequences of its successful mobilization of its largely Hindu electorate, namely making extremist, fringe leaders like the 60-year-old man Dr Jayant Balaji Athavale, irrelevant by ensuring that the law enforcement agencies are allowed to do their job to book these promoters of hate and violence.

BJP should not rely on the counter-argument of questioning the obvious instances of the Congress and other political parties’ expedient use of communal politics. For instance, the silence of Congress and Left parties in Kerala when Muslim extremists of the Popular Front of India chopped the hand of a Christian professor for his alleged defamation of the Prophet. Instead, the BJP can demonstrate its intent to preserve and protect the liberal, progressive, democratic basis of the Indian Constitution by stamping out communalism from its pantheon of supporters. This will win BJP more support and create the space for focusing the country’s attention on its development agenda.

Hindus don’t need self-proclaimed defenders of Hindu faith like the Sanatan Sanstha, which promote extremism and violence in the name of Hindu religion. All the documents revealed in this Canary Trap investigation have been written by Athavale and the theme is most of these books is defence of Hinduism, which is portrayed as being under threat from so-called evil doers, Christians, Muslims and secular Hindus. The text on ‘Spiritual Practice of Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers’ or Kshatradharma Sadhna contains the core beliefs of Sanathan Sanstha. In a rabid and 44 volume series titled ‘Science of Spirituality’ Athavale says defending the faith against anti-Hindu forces, the evil doers, “is the highest form of spiritual practice”

SS Literature on the Importance of Waging War

Social Upliftment 2 National Security & Rekindling Righteous

Social upligtment National security

It is surprising that Athavale has escaped the long arms of the law even when he produced an array of crazy violent rantings through his books with proclamations such as “We will wage a war for Righteousness” — (Source: ‘Science of Spirituality: Vol 1E, Spiritual Practice of Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers, Page 64). In fact, Athavale made a “timetable of spiritual practice for a successful Dharmayudh or religious war” to establish what the followers of Sanathan Sanstha believes will be a “Divine Kingdom”. Athavale is no different from the violent men in Pakistan leading Jehadi terror organizations targetting India. This is Athavale’s time-table for waging war against “evil-doers” (rationalists, Muslims, Christians and Hindus who don’t follow their dictates):

  • 1997-1999: Impressing the minds of people that destroying evil doers is part of spiritual practice
  • 2000-2006: Actually performing the act of destroying evil doers
  • 2007-2022: Learning how to run Divine Kingdom, which is a Kingdom of Absolute Truth
  • 2023-2025: Commencement of the Divine Kingdom

(Source: ‘Science of Spirituality: Vol 1E, Spiritual Practice of Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers, Page 64)

Text from Kshatradharma Sadhana

Social Upliftment 3 National Security & Rekindling Righteous

Social Upliftment 4 National Security & Rekindling Righteous

Meanwhile, at the Panvel centre of Sanatan Sanstha, the “believers” pray as they walk in circles around the vehicle of Athalave’s spiritual guru, Bhaktaraj Maharaj, to receive what they believe to be “spiritual vibrations”. One wonders whether these are the same people who read and believe in Sanathan Sanstha’s hate literature. The organization’s newspaper, Sanatan Prabhat, printed by a trust associated to the Sanstha publishes articles and cartoons derogating other religions. Christian priests are depicted with horns, indicating that they are devils. Communal riots were sparked off in many parts of Maharashtra in November 2005 when Sanatan Prabhat published a derogatory article on the Prophet. Sanathan Sanstha is a fringe extremist organisation, but its rabble rousing activities polarizing communities seems to be getting backhanded support from other Hindu fringe organizations. Groups like the Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, and MNS in Maharashtra have not hesitated to share the same platform with Sanathan Sanstha. There are photographic evidence of even some RSS leaders sharing the same platform with Sanatan Sanstha.

Therefore, it is critically important for the BJP and the RSS to distance itself from fringe, violent, extremist groups such as the Sanatan Sanstha. Otherwise, BJP will slide into pockets of influence in some states and will lose its pan-India appeal as a party with a difference focused on development and deepening a meaningful democracy for India’s citizens. If BJP is perceived to be supporting the philosophy of Sanatan Sanstha, then voters are bound to ask at some point in time how the fringe violent ideology of Sanatan Sanstha is different from the jehahi terrorists whom they claim to be opposing.

Canary Trap Editorial: A big window of opportunity has opened up for the BJP-led NDA government to take legal action against all forms of religious extremism because religious fundamentalism has no place in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, progressive and liberal society. Congress, Left parties and caste-based parties have pandered to religious extremism for vote-bank politics. The BJP, with its decisive positioning as the confident voice of the majority Hindu community in India, must purposefully and meaningfully cleanse its stable by allowing law enforcement agencies to take action against extremist fringe elements within its fold. This will provide it the credibility and legitimacy to effectively deal with other forms of religious extremism in India and promote communal amity.

Recommended Reading:

Part 1: Sanatan Sanstha financially supports families of Thane blast accused

Part 2: Massive evidence collected by law enforcement agencies on Sanatan Sanstha

Part 3: Sanatan Sanstha wants to wage a war within India to eliminate “evil-doers”

Beef ban and food sensibilities of Indians


What happened recently at Dadri has been an endemic feature in India. The very fact that they recur is a lamentable reflection on our nation-building process. It was essentially a law and order problem arising out of communal passions. These passions had made the divorce of Pakistan from India, a great human tragedy. The villainous themes that are whipped to arouse these passions are invariably — ‘Hindu boy–Muslim girl’ or ‘Muslim boy–Hindu girl’, religious processions, food preferences i.e. beef or pork etc.

Such law and order situations arising out of communal passions have to be dealt at both social and ‘security response’ levels. It is also a sad commentary on our prevailing federal culture that while States tend to exaggerate achievements in ‘development’, they are unabashed about violence or riots and never accept responsibility, even though ‘law and order’ is a State subject. This is despite the fact that over the years all state governments irrespective of their political hues, micromanage the police apparatus directly at the SHO level. The police hierarchy, more or less, has been compromised. The consequence of this de-professionalization of law and order apparatus is that policing has been reduced to VIP protection.

The response of the police at Dadri was sluggish, which smacked of deliberate procrastination. It is doubtful whether Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) exists to deal with such communal violence in areas that are mapped as ‘communally sensitive’.

The responsibility for bringing about a change in the communal discourse lies with politicians and the civil society. The politicians are deft at gathering crowds but they have no courage in preventing them from turning into mob. It requires great deal of character and force of personality to prevail on a mob. The political class in the Dadri incident did not rise to the occasion.

The most villainous part was but played by some publicity seeker, self-promoted celebrities and subverted intellectuals. A retired judge, a so-called writer and a journalist chose the occasion to vitiate the communal environment by insisting that they were ‘beef eaters’. Whether eating beef is a personal choice or not, the trajectory of personal and moral lives of these so-called celebrities and intellectuals is unworthy to follow.

Another so-called intellectual, Mr DN Jha, a former professor of Delhi University wrote in Indian Express, dated October 7, 2015:

“The ritual killings of cattle was de rigueur among the Vedic people, who routinely sacrificed cattle and ate their flesh. The Rigveda frequently refers to the cooking of the flesh of animals, including that of the ox, as an offering to the gods, especially Indira. In most Vedic yajnas, cattle were killed and their flesh eaten.”

Mr Jha therefore also tried to contribute to the ‘beef discourse’ to the communal violence in Dadri. The pattern is very clear. One cannot, but doubt that there were some unseen forces orchestrating the entire incident. It may be mentioned that illegal beef trade from India is critical to the food security of many countries. As is the wont, Mr Jha does not quote any references from the Indian sacred texts to buttress his argument. This tactic has been quite common with the so-called experts on history, who peddle being historians.

Mr Arun Shourie, in his book ‘Eminent Historians’ says about the beef controversy:

“By late June-early July 1998 the controversy which has begun by the ‘rational’ versus ‘national’ fabrication planted by these eminent historians, had reached quite a pitch. Newspaper after newspaper had taken up the matter… Manoj Raghuvanshi, who runs the popular programme Aap ki Adalat, Aap Ka Faisla, on Zee TV invited one of the eminences (referring to so-called historians) KM Shrimali, and me to discuss the matter… Beef was eaten in ancient India, said Shrimali, and these people suppress this fact. I have never understood this charge.

Assume that beef was eaten 5,000 years ago, why should anyone want to suppress the fact? And how would the fact that beef was eaten then dilute the fact that today the Hindus hold the cow in reverence? Several tribes the world over were cannibals. Today they are not. Does that mean that their desisting from eating each other is less of a fact? …

….in the passages asking Muslims to sacrifice animals to His glory, Allah in the Quran does not say they should sacrifice cows; that the most feverish efforts of the ulema in India to find some hadis in which the Prophet may have ordered Muslims to sacrifice cows have failed to yield anything; that, therefore, there is not the slightest difficulty in construing the beliefs of the two communities harmoniously…

And what is the evidence (about Hindus eating beef) for that, asked Raghuvanshi. In which Veda, in which text, which verse in which text? asked Raghuvanshi. I have not brought the books with me, said Shrimali, but the evidence is all over. But name one text, name one verse, Raghuvanshi persisted.

Shrimali could not or did not name a single text, to say nothing of any verse or passage from it.

Someone from the audience interjected. Here are the four Vedas, he said, handing over the books, read us a single passage from any of them which supports what you are saying. Raghuvanshi took the books from the person and took them over to Shrimali. Shrimali refused to look at them. Indeed, he recoiled.

Raghuvanshi then went to his table and began reading out passage after passage from the Vedas in which there were strongest possible commands to ‘NOT’ eat beef.

At my request he asked Shrimali to read the verses himself.

Shrimali refused to do that. Instead, he became more aggressive. So what if I cannot recall a text or recite a verse?, he said. But you are an expert on Ancient India, Raghnuvanshi said.”

Notwithstanding the religious sentiments, the milk yielding and agriculturally productive animals have always been valued and therefore respected. It is in this spirit that the West Bengal Animal Slaughter Central Act 1950 was passed. It purports to “control the slaughter of certain animals with the view to increase the supply of milk and to avoid wastage of animal power necessary for improvement of agriculture. The schedule to the Act covers bullocks, cows, calves (male and female), buffalos…” During the hearing of this Act, the Supreme Court said: “Mughal emperor Babur said the wisdom of prohibiting slaughter of cows by way of religious sacrifice and directed his son Humayun to follow this. Similarly Akbar, Jahangir and Ahmed Shah, it is said prohibited cows slaughter”.

These so-called intellectuals and activists, I am sure, would be loving towards their pets and environment at least for fashion sake. As per Prince Charles of UK, a keen student of environment, “for every pound of beef produced in the industrial system, it takes 2000 gallons of water. That is a lot of water and there is plenty of evidence that the earth cannot keep up with the demand”. It may be mentioned that the ‘water footprint’ per pound of some other food products are: pork – 576 gallons, chicken – 486 gallons, soybean – 286 gallons, wheat – 138 gallons and corn – 108 gallons.

Mahatma Gandhi’s strong commitment towards banning ‘cow slaughter’ found expression in the Constitution. Under Article 48, Part-IV of the Directive Principles of State Policy, states: “The State shall take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.” In 1982, Indira Gandhi wrote to Chief Ministers of 14 states, asking them to ban cow slaughter in ‘letter and spirit’.

The cow, historically, has remained one of the kernels of Indian nationhood. It therefore, has religious and emotional overtones, which if not handled with sensitivity leads to law and order problems, or communal riots.

The greatest impact of the ‘cow discourse’ is on the security apparatus, which includes the armed forces. The final provocation for the 1857 War of Independence was the sense of loss of religion because the cartridges supplied by the British, were allegedly greased with cow fat. The Muslims too revolted because they believed that the cartridges contained pig fat as well.

In most regiments of the Indian Army, the religious sanctity of food is a very important issue. There are many battalions who do not consume meat during certain periods and some particular day of the week. Officers are enjoined to abide by the sentiments and preferences of the troops.

It needs to be mentioned that the beef eating in India was actually introduced to satisfy the culinary needs of the British troops of East India Company. Initially no Indian, whether Hindu or Muslim, was willing to slaughter cows. They found it abominable. The British with all their tact and financial inducement prepared some butchers to do the job and located slaughter houses within the cantonments for their security. Nevertheless, the so-called celebrities and intellectuals must realize that the borrowed English language in which they trivialize majority Indian food sensibilities was given far more deference by the British. Edmund Candler in his book, ‘The Sepoy’ writes:

“I know a Rajput class regiment in which it took ten years to introduce the messing system. Company cooking pots were accepted at first, but with no economy of space or time; for the vessels were handed round and each man used them to cook his own food in turn… The Brahmans are even more fastidious. I remember watching a class regiment at their meal in the Essin position; their habit of segregation had spread them over a wide area. Each man had ruled out his own pitch, and a Turk would have taken the battalion for a brigade.”

During the World War II, a Signal Company comprising Jats refused to have their meal because a British Officer had merely touched it.

Eating food for troops of the Indian Army is not only a biological necessity but it is tempered with religious imperatives as well. The same is the case with the police force in most of the states.

The despicable commentators should therefore desist from making provocative statements, even if it be in English, as, apart from others, it has the potential to make the security apparatus partisan.

(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 with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

Sanatan Sanstha wants to wage a war within India to eliminate “evil-doers”

Canary Trap’s revelations in Part 1 and Part 2 of the expose on Sanatan Sanstha put out in public domain for the first time the organization’s violent, terrorist ideology masked and wrapped in an abstract and obscure interpretation of Hinduism. These revelations are all part of the evidence collected against Sanatan Sanstha during investigations carried out by state law enforcement agencies in Maharashtra and Goa as well central intelligence agencies over last 7 years. However, as mentioned earlier neither the Congress-led UPA government, nor the BJP-led NDA government have demonstrated their political willingness to uphold India’s Constitution.

In Part 3 of the continuing Canary Trap revelations on Sanatan Sanstha, evidence of this extremist Hindu terror organization’s belief in “waging war on evil-doers” is being put out in the public domain. It must be noted that Sanatan Sanstha has the same “Jehadi mindset” as that of the Islamic terror groups and is a mirror image of the very same groups it is claiming to be fighting against. This is amply proven and self-evident through its documents, all of which are in the custody of Indian law enforcement agencies.

Violence Towards Evildoers in Non-Violence

Waging war or ‘kshatradharma’ is a central ideological premise of Sanathan Sanstha. This is how one text describes ‘kshatradharma’ – “The spiritual practice of protecting seekers and destroying evil doers is beneficial for this part of the Kaliyug” By conveniently creating a facade of spiritual mumbo-jumbo around terror tactics, Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale – head of Sanatan Sanstha has created a dangerous, intolerant and violent Hindu cult based on a dubious interpretation of highly revered Hindu scriptures to push through a belief in large parts of rural and semi-urban Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa that Hindu terrorism is the only way to counter Islamic terrorism.

Booklet on Kshradharma

Cover of Kshatradharma Sadhna

Kshatradharma and Rajdharma book cover

According to former members of Sanatan Sanstha, one of its first training camps was allegedly held at Damise village, close to the Sanstha’s headquarters in Ponda, in Goa. Camps were then set up at Satara, Karad and Raigad in Maharashtra. The Sanstha has persuaded ex-armymen to train their cadres, and each camp allegedly gives commando training to 200 Sadhaks. But the Sanstha calls it a part of its spiritual program. This extremist organization’s publications encourage the cult’s members to identify those who work against ‘dharm’, make lists of such people, and then ‘eliminate’ them.

Kshatramdharma Sadhana-the book on waging war

Killing Muslims in the Social Upliftment book

Evil politicians deserve punishment

The organization clearly says in its publication that “violence towards evil-doers is non-violence.” According to this extremist organization any Hindu rationalist or Hindus who don’t follow its strictures, Muslims and Christians are evil-doers and that they pose a “danger to India”. How could the Government of India, since the UPA rule and now under NDA dispensation allow an organization such as the Sanatan Sanstha to openly flout the Indian Constitution and continue to flourish even as it publicly takes a position in its publications that “evil politicians must be punished” through violence?

Danger posed by Muslims and Christians

Canary Trap Editorial: A big window of opportunity has opened up for the BJP-led NDA government to take legal action against all forms of religious extremism because religious fundamentalism has no place in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, progressive and liberal society. Congress, Left parties and caste-based parties have pandered to religious extremism for vote-bank politics. The BJP, with its decisive positioning as the confident voice of the majority Hindu community in India, must purposefully and meaningfully cleanse its stable by allowing law enforcement agencies to take action against extremist fringe elements within its fold. This will provide it the credibility and legitimacy to effectively deal with other forms of religious extremism in India and promote communal amity.

Recommended Reading:

Part 1: Sanatan Sanstha financially supports families of Thane blast accused

Part 2: Massive evidence collected by law enforcement agencies on Sanatan Sanstha

Part 4: BJP govt in Maharashtra should act against Sanatan Sanstha

Letter to Public Interest Directors of National Stock Exchange

To consider if it is in Public Interest for the National Stock Exchange (NSE) to be non-transparent, promote corruption by colluding with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in insider trading/price manipulation and then go Public to List their Shares.

Arun Kumar Agrawal

Mr. S. B. Mathur (Chairman NSE)
Mr. Y. H. Malegam
Dr. KRS Murthy
Dr. S. Sadagopan
Justice B.N. Srikrishna


I. Investigation of Frauds on NSE by CBI/Police

II. Making public the trading details of Price Manipulation and Insider trading in Reliance Petroleum Limited (RPL) and trading details on the High Frequency Trading platform during the period OPG Securities had manipulated the trading platform in alleged collusion with NSE (refer complaint published in Moneylife).

III. Force NSE to submit to RTI Act and prevent the officials from evading the legal system after the 5-member Central Information Commission (CIC) and Hon’ble High Court Ruled against it.

IV. Cost of 50 Lacs to be Paid by Employees involved in filing of Defamation suit

V. Rationalisation of remuneration of Rs 1- 4 crore per annum

VI. NSE going Public with IPO not in Public Interest

VII. Prevention of Other Undesirable Trading: Object of SCR Act


1. This letter is addressed to the Public Interest Directors on the BOARD of NSE, who by being in a majority are presumed to be in control of the Board of NSE. They are requested to ensure that NSE functions in a corruption free and transparent manner.

2. Two instances of large scale corruption and subsequent cover up have considerably eroded the credibility of the National Stock Exchange among the investors, be it Indian or foreign. The first involved the price manipulation and insider trading by RIL in 2007 in which investors lost thousands of crores. The second was the gaming of the trading platform of the High Frequency Traders (HF Traders), exposed by an article and complaint published in Moneylife, which led to the NSE filing Rs 100 crore defamation suit against Moneylife.

3. It is in this context that this letter is addressed to the Public Interest Directors (PID) (downgraded to Independent Directors by NSE: refer Annexure from website of NSE) and the Chairman of National Stock Exchange requesting them to take stern and appropriate steps to ensure that NSE functions in a corruption free and transparent manner. The NSE, unlike other institution, has a Board in which the PID are in majority, who are capable men with no personal interest (even the sitting fee of Rs 20000 does not compensate for their time) and therefore can ensure that public interest is protected and there is no cover up of corruption. The management of the NSE should not be allowed to use the PID as a shield for its anti-public interest agenda.

4. It is further requested of the PID to ensure that NSE submits itself to the RTI Act not only because it is an antidote to corruption but because it is legally the right thing to do. The remuneration of senior officials/Whole Time Directors should be linked to their performance and they should be made to pay the cost of Rs 50 lacs ordered by the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay from the crores of annual remuneration they earn.

5. Those involved in corruption, cheating of the investors and cover up should be reported to the anti-corruption Branch of Police/CBI for investigation and prosecution. Finally, the PID are requested to decide whether it is in public interest that the NSE should go public through an IPO inspite of the contrary recommendation of the Bimal Jalan Committee report and experience with MCX.

Transparency the only option to answer allegation of corruption:

6. Hon’ble Justice G S Patel while imposing a cost of Rs 50 lacs on NSE stated the following in his judgment:

26. Today, all our institutions face the crisis of dwindling public confidence. Neither the NSE nor the judiciary are exceptions to this. It presents a very real dilemma, for the existence of our institutions is posited on that very public confidence and faith and its continuance. The challenge is, I think, in finding legitimate methods of restoring that public trust, that balance. Hence the cries for transparency and accountability everywhere; and I see no reason why the NSE should be any exception to this. (Emphasis mine)

7. Instead of heading the advice of transparency of Hon’ble Justice Patel, NSE has gone in appeal against his orders. Officials of NSE would do well to recognise the fact that court decisions are no substitute for transparency in matters relating to corruption. Persons with competency to write software of algo-trading are highly intelligent persons (probably even more intelligent than those at the helm at NSE) and at times are rank holding IIT graduates.

The anonymous complaint of the HF Trader, accusing the NSE of gaming the trading platform is very specific, with the names of the brokers, the time period and the modus operandi of rigging by the NSE. A mere reading of the complaint has a ring of genuineness to it.

8. The only way to answer those allegation was to make all the trading details of the period along with the trading record of the broker OPG Securities public. These trading records will establish as to whether OPG Securities, the brokering firm that cornered most of the deals and made profits than it did earlier or later to the period of the complaint. Incidentally, OPG securities has a track record and was also found by SEBI to be involved in Fraudulent and Unfair Trading under the PFUTP Regulations.

9. The pathetic defence by the NSE in the financial papers post the judgment of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court can neither fool the discerning public, nor the HF Traders who, as stated above, are far more intelligent than the NSE officials who have offered the lame explanation. Instead of looking at the trading record or referring the matter to the cyber wing of the CBI/Police or subjecting the data to a cyber-lab, officials of NSE have been filing defamation suits of Rs 100 crores to intimidate the media and lecture on of the infallibility of their system. It may be pointed out that systems are as infallible as the humans who operate them! Even the Libor rates were doctored and more recently Volkswagen gamed the emission software.

10. The case of Rs 513 crore insider trading by RIL and price manipulation: The second case relates to the Rs. 513 crore insider trading done by 13 front companies on behalf of RIL in November 2007 in the F&O section of the market. The shares involved was that of RPL, which was a subsidiary company of RIL, in which it held 75% of the shares. The brokers close to RIL indulged in price manipulation from September 2007 to November 2007 during which the price of the shares RPL doubled. The price manipulation was done so that RIL could realise twice the value when it sold 20.5 crore shares of RPL held by it in the cash section. The sale value of 20.5 crore shares of RPL was around Rs 4000 crores which would have been Rs 2000 crores had the price not been manipulated by the brokers. While RIL realised an additional Rs 2000 crores on account of sale of 4 crore shares, the brokers made upwards of Rs 1000 crores on account price manipulation on high trading volumes in the F&O section. RIL made an additional Rs 513 crores through insider trading by 13 front companies. This Rs 513 crores was credited by the 13 front companies to the balance sheet of RIL! There could not be a more blatant form of insider trading.

11. It is my allegation that the officers of the NSE were complicit with the brokers in allowing the price manipulation and the subsequent cover for the following reasons:

  • With expensive computers and software, this type of blatant manipulation and insider trading could not but be shown up and flagged by the computer unless the computers too were rigged by the officials of the NSE on the behest of interest parties.
  • The matter was never reported to SEBI by NSE officials.
  • The scandal was brought in the public domain four months later by a prominent Member of Parliament Shri Amar Singh on 17/4/08 through a Parliamentary question.
  • Shri Amar Singh not only accurately named 10 of the 12 front companies involved but also the amount involved in the insider trading months before the investigations were ordered by SEBI. The article was published by Business Standard.
  • Shri Amar Singh had attributed the knowledge of the insider trading and the companies involved in it, to information received from his sources in the Stock Exchange.
  • When Investigations were finally ordered by SEBI a year later in November 2008, on the persistence of Shri Amar Singh, it was found that allegations of the companies and the amount involved were true! Amar Singh had named 10 companies and Rs 402 crores as the profit while the finding of SEBI on investigation was Rs 513 companies involving 12 companies. Names of 10 companies was common.
  • The price manipulation by the brokers for the period in September to November 2007 was never investigated by NSE. It was not even investigated after the Parliamentary question and the letter of Amar Singh to SEBI published in the newspaper. The inaction on part of NSE can only lead to only one conclusion: that of collusion in enriching RIL and the brokers who benefitted by the price manipulation.
  • If Amar Singh had the information from the NSE ‘sources’ and NSE officials were blissfully unaware of it then the matter needs to be investigated by the CBI. In this connection my complaint to the CBI is pending and can be forwarded if thought to be necessary.
  • The undersigned has fought five cases with SEBI/RIL in various High Courts so far over issues of transparency. It is my experience that almost every authority is helpless against RIL. In another issue unrelated issue concerning RIL on preferential allotment of shares at a throwaway price, the same has been pending with SEBI/ government for over fifteen years even after obtaining legal opinion from one of most respected judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Rs 5 lacs as price for transparency for exposing corruption

12. There is a tendency at every level to run down the character of ‘activists’ who expose corruption in high places. Choice words like stoolpigeon are used which cannot be sustained on facts! The complainant, therefore, volunteers to deposit Rs 5 lacs in advance for making the entire detailed trading information broker/party wise of the two cases available to him/public. The relevant period in case of RIL is the trading in cash and forward section for RPL shares from August – December 2007. The amount can be forfeited if he is not able to show that there was manipulation. This information for which Rs 5 lac is being offered should have been made available for Rs 10 under RTI Act.

13. The legal fees paid to senior Counsels to prevent NSE from coming under the RTI too should also be disclosed.

14. The undersigned is enclosing a cheque for the amount favouring the Chairman of NSE requesting him to accept his unilateral offer. The account will have a balance for the amount for the next 30 days.

15. The undersigned hopes that if the efforts of the complainant results in disgorgement of profits (by SEBI) made by the brokers and RIL then 50% of the amount should be used to compensate the investors who were cheated by the fraud committed on them. The entire amount should not be appropriated by SEBI/NSE/government or to the so called investor protection fund which is used by the Authorities in an arbitrary manner. The NSE is using the Investor Protection Fund to collaborate with a TV channel to entice investors to invest in shares! This is condemnable as there are large number of investors who have burnt their fingers by investing in shares and vowed never to return on account of various scams that have taken place.

16. It is indeed a tragedy that the authorities, after putting every possible hurdle against financial ‘activists’ to uncover their scam, ultimately benefit from the efforts of the activist in case they happen to succeed!

Senior officials game the legal system to escape accountability under RTI Act

17. The information for which the complainant is willing to pay should have been made available to him under RTI for Rs 10 but for the anti-public interest elements in the NSE who first went in appeal against the order of a five-member CIC Bench (dated 7/6/2007) which in a 25-page reasoned order held that NSE was covered under 2(h) of the RTI Act. The Hon’ble Court held that this was irrespective of whether the majority shares were held or controlled by government owned institution. Subsequently NSE went in appeal against the order of the Delhi High Court (WP 4748/07 decided on 15/4/10) which upheld the order of the CIC. Is it surprising that after obtaining an interim order of stay of the order of the single Hon’ble judge who had confirmed the 5-member Bench order of the CIC, the matter has not been decided for the past five years?

18. If the senior officials can use the legal system to escape accountability from the rigours of RTI Act for 8 years, then so can the junior employees game the system to pass on benefits of thousands of crores to corporates like RIL in the most blatant instance of insider trading. Whether they actually did so will be known if the detailed trading data (broker wise) in RPL shares from August – December 2007 is made public. Is it a coincidence that the insider trading, price manipulation took place in the period when NSE was insulating itself from providing information under RTI Act?

19. It needs to be mentioned that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held Stock Exchanges to be a State for the purpose of the writ jurisdiction of Courts and even SEBI argued at the CIC that NSE was a public authority and hence covered by the RTI.

Direct NSE to submit itself to the RTI Act

20. As one of the PID is an eminent jurist and a former Justice of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, his valuable opinion on whether NSE comes within the purview of the RTI may be sought, or alternatively it may be independently decided by the PID that NSE should submit itself to the provisions of the RTI and the seven year old appeal pending before the Delhi high Court be withdrawn. Is it surprising that NSE is not interested in pursuing the appeal after having obtained a stay in a case which it cannot win? Should it not be alleged that this is being done so that corruption in NSE goes undetected? Does this non-transparent corruption linked agenda of the NSE is in public interest and have the approval of the PID of the NSE? Even the Bombay High Court advised the NSE to be transparent because it is in public interest to dispel allegation of corruption. However, the officials of the NSE are using public funds by going in appeal against the order of the single judge of Bombay High Court in order to prevent investigation into the allegation of corruption against the exchange.

21. The very fact that the majority of the Directors – to whom the letter is addressed- are PID is sufficient for NSE to be covered under section 2 (h) of the RTI Act.

22. People of our generation (I am a senior citizen), including the senior authorities of the NSE have to recognise the merit and the intelligence of the younger generation, and earn their respect by setting an example of good public behaviour. This can only be done by a commitment to transparency and fair-play and not being clever and using the institutional money power for personal ends of not being transparent and accountable.

23. The NSE officials forget that it is the experience of the people of the Country that there is corruption in every institution where there is scope making illegal money. There is no other institution where larger sums of illegal money can be made as easily and without detection as the stock exchange. How can it be corruption free?

24. In fact the Hon’ble Judge, in the order quoted above, even included the Judiciary while stating that institutions face crisis of dwindling public confidence. One wonders as to whether those at the helm of affairs of NSE are so disconnected with reality that they think that illegal money cannot be made in collusion with the employees of the Stock exchange! Fall in Public Institution share-holding in NSE is no reason to failure of accountability

25. SEBI, NSE and the government regrettably have had a hand in preventing the public sector financial institution holding in NSE from falling below 51%. Shares have been transferred at high valuation to entities with conflict of interest, by taking advantage of the Bimal Jalan Committee report. This has been done in order to free NSE from government audit, from being accountable under the RTI Act, and to pay the senior officials crores of undeserved (compared to other similarly qualified persons in government owned financial institution) salary. The incidents of the post privatisation of the NSE shows that it has also resulted in high level corruption (refer the two incidents above), lack of accountability, non-transparency and disproportionate high salaries.

Other instances of failure to prevent undesirable trading

26. The NSE officials have failed the investors as an institution which has been granted recognition under the Securities Contract Regulation Act whose object it is to “Prevent Undesirable Trading in Securities by Regulating the Business Therein…” Undesirable trading, through price manipulation and insider trading is as old as the Stock Market. It was thought that with the advent of a broker free government owned stock exchange with professional management, the same would stop. Regrettably it did not. In the last 15 years of the existence of the NSE, there is not been a single instance in which profits from price manipulation and insider trading has been disgorged, to compensate the investors. Anecdotal evidence of share prices rising and falling prior to the declaration of favourable/unfavourable developments is commonplace.

The role of price manipulation in generation of black money also figures prominently in the SIT report on black money. Synchronised trading at artificial prices to launder black-money is stamped with the authenticity of a contract. Switching of trades in another person’s name to launder black money is another form of undesirable trading taking place. Trading based on leakage of price sensitive information (margin, circuit % and spot, promotion and demotion of shares from F&O and change in composition of shares in the Index etc.) before the information becomes public, also takes place. The pump (the price) and then dump the shares on the unsuspecting investors is another common abuse of the trading on the Stock Exchange. Cartels of brokers operating in shares of select companies with low floating stock is yet another instance of undesirable trading.

27. It appears that just as the stock exchanges of the past were said to exist for the benefit of the brokers, NSE now exist for the benefit of its employees and its shareholders. The lofty ideals of Dr R H Patil, the founder of the Exchange (who never earned the salaries of crores that the present incumbents are earning) have been given a go by.

Rs 50 lac cost to be paid by NSE employees

28. NSE filed a hundred crore defamation suit in order to cover up the alleged corruption within the organisation. The Hon’ble judge saw through the game and correctly subjected the exchange to a cost of Rs. 50 lakhs. The advice regarding functioning in a transparent manner has not been complied with. Such is the arrogance of these crorepati officials, that instead of being transparent, it has been decided to appeal against the order at the expense of the coffers of the exchange. NSE cannot behave in a manner in which other corporates behave when involved in scam.

29. As the NSE has not been transparent in its functioning, it will be only in order that the concerned employees who decided to file a defamation suit in order to cover up for the alleged corruption should be made to pay the Rs. 50 lakh cost imposed by the court.

Refer the matter for CBI investigation

30. If the trading data of the period along with the trading data of OPG Securities is not made public, then the matter be referred to the CBI for investigation and let the employees of NSE get a clean chit from the CBI.

31. The undersigned has independently verified the complaint from a knowledgeable person who has confirmed that OPG Securities during the relevant period was one step ahead of the rest of the algo-traders! Whether it was on account of his professional competency or because of his having gamed the system in collusion with the employees of the NSE needs to be investigated. As these were done on an electronic platform, there is an electronic trail which can reveal as to whether the system was gamed at the NSE level. If the matter is beyond the competency of the state investigators then private cyber labs with requisite competency can be engaged.

32. Further, if it is a problem for the NSE that the complaint published in Moneylife was from an anonymous source, then my name can be appended at the bottom of the complaint and the matter be investigated. As stated above I am depositing Rs. 5 lakhs for the information in the two cases.

33. Regarding the other issue of corruption relating to price manipulation of RPL shares by the brokers of RIL, I have already lodged a complaint with the CBI and will be taking up the matter at the next appropriate forum.

Public listing of NSE shares

34. NSE, according to newspaper reports, wants to go public and have their shares listed on their own exchange. This is against the recommendation of the Bimal Jalan Committee Report. Though this part of the report was not accepted, those responsible for not accepting the report and differing with the sagacity of the ex-RBI Governor did so to benefit MCX and will be ruing their decision. MCX took advantage of SEBI overriding the recommendation and had their shares listed on the stock market. An impartial investigation will show that the decision of overruling the Jalan Committee on listing of Stock Exchange was done to benefit MCX. Driven by the greed for profit and higher valuation resulted in a fraud of over Rs. 5600 crores which the investors will never be able to recover. It may be mentioned that the shares of MCX were placed with government-owned public financial institutions at a price of over Rs. 1000 per share having a par value of Rs. 10 at the time when the shares were not even listed!

35. No doubt the employees of NSE (barring key employees who are not eligible) too want ESOPs worth hundreds of crores and be freed from control post listing. The employees know that the value of the ESOP will increase if they are higher profits. All types of instruments will be allowed to trade on the exchange and there will be higher volumes in the speculative section in order to generate more profits. These are bound to put the financial system in jeopardy and create financial instability in the future. The country cannot afford to have the shares of NSE listed in order to appease the greed of the employees and the shareholders.

36. The public service that is carried out by a government owned National stock exchange is far too important for the economy of the country then the petty profits that the individual players are out to make by having the shares of the exchange listed on the exchange. It is forgotten that India is a land of stock market scams.

37. Due lobbying from interested quarters, SEBI accepted that part of the Bimal Jalan report that stated that the maximum ownership should be limited to 5% of shares but the stocks should not be listed. The first part was accepted by SEBI but not the second part. This was done to enable MCX to list. This has been used by the existing shareholders of NSE to divest to private players (and not to govt FI) at huge premium. Some of them are in conflict of interest situation and are now out to book their profits on the privately placed shares.

38. Any investor with some experience of IPO will tell you that the best results are produced before the company goes public. Is it then surprising, or just a familiar coincidence, that the profits of the NSE have doubled in the first half of this year when compared to last year? Higher profits will lead to higher EPS and higher valuation at the time of proposed disinvestment of shares by the shareholders! And also for the ESOPs allotted before the IPO. There is nothing National left of the NSE anymore and one seriously wonders if the NSE will be allowed to use the word National anymore!

39. Representation in this regard is being made to the government to utilise its investment in the tobacco company ITC for the purpose of buying the shares of NSE so that it remains a national asset, nationally owned in national interest. NSE is a vital institution in the economy of the country. It has to be seen as an unbiased organisation preventing undesirable trades on the stock market and existing for the benefit of the investors and not for the employees and the shareholders. The Public Interest Directors are requested to make their recommendation regarding the privatisation of the NSE in light of the recent incidents of blatant frauds and non-transparent functioning of the exchange.

Public Interest Directors requested to use their power of majority for public good and not to allow their good name to misused

40. The views of Public Interest Directors are sought on the sanitised agenda that is put before them at the Board meeting by the full-time Directors of the NSE. Fraud committed by the employees cannot and will never be an agenda item as the NSE officials believe that they are beyond corruption.

41. As it is the NSE officials have downgraded the Public Interest Directors as Independent Director as is obvious from this heading from the NSE website:

Annexure A-2
Criteria /Norms under SEBI Regulations applicable to Public Interest Directors (who are essentially Independent Directors)

After downgrading the PID to Independent Directors, without realising that PID are appointed by SEBI under SEBI regulation (SECC Regulation), the Authorities take them granted without correctly advising them on the allegations of corruption and the lack of transparency.

42. Under the SECC Regulations the appointment of all Directors are to be approved by the SEBI and the PID are to be in a majority. In other words it is the PID, appointed with the approval of SEBI, who are supposed to be in in control of the Board. One wonders as to how can NSE not submit to RTI and not function in a transparent manner, more so when allegation of corruption are leveled?

43. The Code of Conduct for Public Interest Directors under SEBI Regulations states: Public interest directors shall meet separately, at least once in six months to exchange views on critical issues.

The issues of corruption in the two matters brought to the specific notice of the Public Interest Directors, transparency, loss of confidence of investors in NSE, corruption, NSE going public are certainly matters of public interest which in the opinion of the undersigned important enough to merit a separate meeting of the PID. Restoring the credibility of the NSE is far more important than the questionable reputation of the individuals at the helm of affairs who file defamation suits and fail to report RIL insider trading and refuse to be transparent.

Yours sincerely

(i) PID Downgrade d
(ii) Cheque for 5 lacs

(Arum Kumar Agrawal)

(Arun Agrawal is the author of the book Reliance: The Real Natwar. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)