How Varun Gandhi silenced the system

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This is a story about a terrible travesty. Varun Gandhi, 33, has recently been in the news for two reasons. First, he has been exonerated of all charges in the hate speeches he allegedly made in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha election. Second, he has been made the national general secretary of the BJP, the youngest politician ever to be elevated to this post.

Now, an explosive TEHELKA sting investigation shows he is not entitled to either. TEHELKA’s investigation proves that not only did Varun make the venomous speeches he is accused of, he has compounded the original wrong by brazenly subverting the entire judicial process to get his name cleared. He has also indulged in anti-party activities, deliberately making his own party candidate lose an Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh in 2012 so that a Samajwadi Party (SP) leader sympathetic to him could win and help him fix the cases against him.

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Sting Video
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[mediablender id=”134996″ name=”Witness no. 18 in Barkhera: Mohammad Raza” type=”lightbox” data=”sidebar” navigation=”none” title=”false” description=”false” att_titles=”false” att_descriptions=”false” att_comments=”false” columns=”6″ thumb_width=”185″ thumb_height=”185″ spacing=”10″] [mediablender id=”134901″ name=”Witness no. 2 in Mohalla Dalchand: Pratap” type=”lightbox” data=”sidebar” navigation=”none” title=”false” description=”false” att_titles=”false” att_descriptions=”false” att_comments=”false” columns=”6″ thumb_width=”185″ thumb_height=”185″ spacing=”10″] [mediablender id=”135069″ name=”Witness No. 5 in Mohalla Dalchand: Nafees” type=”lightbox” data=”sidebar” navigation=”none” title=”false” description=”false” att_titles=”false” att_descriptions=”false” att_comments=”false” columns=”6″ thumb_width=”185″ thumb_height=”185″ spacing=”10″]
[mediablender id=”135077″ name=”Witness no. 30 in both Mohalla Dalchand and Barkhera – Shariq Parvez” type=”lightbox” data=”sidebar” navigation=”none” title=”false” description=”false” att_titles=”false” att_descriptions=”false” att_comments=”false” columns=”6″ thumb_width=”185″ thumb_height=”185″ spacing=”10″] [mediablender id=”134965″ name=”Witness No. 4 in Mohalla Dalchand: Riyasat” type=”lightbox” data=”sidebar” navigation=”none” title=”false” description=”false” att_titles=”false” att_descriptions=”false” att_comments=”false” columns=”6″ thumb_width=”185″ thumb_height=”185″ spacing=”10″]
Sting Audio
Rizwan Malik: Varun Gandhi’s media in-charge in Pilibhit Satpal Gangwar: BJP candidate from Pilibhit in the 2012 UP Assembly elections Vijay Pal: Prime witness in Varun Gandhi hate speech case



Case Timeline
6 March, 2009:  Speech given by Varun Gandhi in Deshnagar, Pilibhit.
7 March, 2009: Speech given in Dalchand.
8 March, 2009: Speech given in Barkheda, this is the speech that was broadcasted on television.
17 March, 2009: 1st First Information Report (FIR) filed against Varun Gandhi in Bankhera Police Station, Uttar Pradesh.
18 March, 2009: 2nd FIR filed in Kotwali, Pilibhit regarding mohalla Dal Chand, Uttar Pradesh.
25th March,  2009: Allahabad High Court dismisses Varun Gandhi’s petition to annul cases.
28th March , 2009: Varun Gandhi arrested. Crowd organised to protest against the Court decision. 3rd FIR filed against him for vandalism. Spends 20 days in jail.
16 April , 2009: The Deshnagar audio clip sent to Election Commision along with 4 affidavits.
27 February, 2013: Acquitted in first hate speech case
5th March, 2013: Acquitted in the second hate speech case.
3rd May, 2013:  Acquitted in vandalism cases.
14 May,  2013:  UP Government declares that it will challenge the acquittal.
Reactions

Kapil Sibal | Congress

“This is a very serious matter. Its a subversion of the judicial process. Those culpable should be brought to book. This is a pattern we see that by intimidating witnesses by police, individuals benefit. I am afraid this may be happening at other levels also. This shows a nexus between political class and the state machinery.”

Shakeel Ahmed | Congress

“It is the duty of the UP government to investigate these allegations. After which they should put it before the honourable court so that the truth comes out.”

D Raja | CPM

“The BJP’s true colours have been exposed with Tehelka’s story. Even in the case of Modi, despite being involved in heinous crimes against humanity, he has been elevated to a high post and BJP’s tp brass wants him elevated to the the top post. The BJP is a party that barely cares about stigma. No amount of public shaming seems to bother the BJP. Aggressive politics has become the hallmark of the BJP and the Varun Gandhi episode has further reiterated this kind of politics. The bigger question that arises out of Tehelka’s story is one of witness protection. It is shameful how there is little protection for witnesses in this country and in many high profile cases, vulnerable witnesses turn hostile fearing for their lives. After this expose, there needs to be a wiser political campaign against the BJP’s ways. Someone also needs to take it up legally.”

Shanawaz Hussain | BJP

“The BJP believes in the court and the process of law. We have not seen the report and once we see it, we will respond more fully at 3pm at our party office. In the meanwhile, the initial reaction is that we believe in the court which has acquitted Varun Gandhi.”

K Rehman Khan | Minority Affairs Minister

“This shows the double standards of the BJP. When their leaders are caught, they influence witnesses. On the other hand they blame the Congress for interference.
A retrial should be ordered and an enquiry should be conducted into the entire episode. Collusion of state government officials and the police machinery should also be probed.”

Anurag Thakur | BJP

“I have no idea if the witnesses turned hostile, but all I can say at this moment is that the best answer to Tehelka’s expose can be given by the UP government. Varun is a dear friend and colleague and we welcomed the decision of the court which exonerated him in the first place. All I can say right now is that no one in this country is above the law of the land. It is the responsibility of the local government to protect witnesses. I cannot comment on this particular expose by Tehelka. But I believe that witness protection is an issue that needs to be debated at the highest level.”

Kamini Jaiswal | Lawyer

“The subversion of justice by the rich and powerful is unfortunate, but this is nothing new and it happens all the time. The entire system is designed for the rich and powerful. Death sentences and convictions are handed out only to the poor, the rich subvert the system.They manage to delay the issue and ensure nothing happens until it is too late and nothing happens in their life time.

 

Some time cases are filed against politicians, but usually when they are in the opposition, when they come to power, they manage to have the case removed.

 

In such cases the investigation is key, but that is where they botch it up and then nothing can be done. It is done on purpose to protect certain people.”

Prashant Bhushan | Lawyer

“This has always been case, but when things like this happen, witnesses turning hostile on such a mass scale, the court should investigate it. “

Raju Ramachandran | Lawyer

“This is not a case of politicians excreting pressure on the judiciary, but a case of subverting the judicial process by ensuring that the witnesses turn hostile.This phenomenon of witnesses turning hostile is very unfortunate, but it is also a regular feature of criminal trials. It is not only politicians, but the rich and power who do this.

 

The prosecution has to prove the case and for that they need witnesses. When the witnesses turn hostile, the judiciary is left helpless. Such a situation can only be avoided if we have a witness protection program as an integral part of our system.”

Ambika Chaudhary | Samajwadi Party

“It is indeed very unfortunate that the officers who had filed the complaint against BJP MP Varun Gandhi, for the hate speech in Pilibhit during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections turned hostile in the court and feigned ignorance about the incident. They should have stuck to their original stand taken while filing the complaint. However nothing is lost and the UP government is determined to take the matter to the logical judicial conclusion and challenge the order of the chief judicial magistrate of Pilibhit in the higher court.

 

The acquittal of Varun Gandhi in the hate speech case will have no bearing on the secular credential of the Samajwadi party. The state of UP is well within the legal time frame to file the appeal in the higher court. The appeal is not time barred and can be filed till 25 May. Moreover, it’s not the common practice for the state to file an appeal, yet the UP government has decided to challenge the acquittal of Varun Gandhi.”

Ram Asrey Kushwaha | Samajwadi Party

“Varun Gandhi should be brought to justice for the crime he committed against the people and society by his hate speech for creating communal divide. UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, has already directed the Law Department to challenge the order of the Pilibhit court, which acquitted Varun from charges of hate speech. It will be highly erroneous to infer from the delay in filing the appeal against the acquittal order that the SP government is soft on Varun Gandhi. UP is a very big state with 75 districts and there are thousands of cases in each district court including the cases where the political persons are party. As and when the court decision on important matters is brought to the notice of the state government, appropriate action is taken.”

Lakshmi Kant Bajpai | BJP

“It is a ridiculous charge that the ruling Samajwadi Party government in UP offered tacit help to Varun Gandhi, resulting in his acquittal by a local court in Pilibhit district. Varun Gandhi has acquired an image of an aggressive spokesman of Hindutuva. So why would the Samajwadi Party commit hara-kiri and spoil its support base among the minorities by helping the young BJP leader.

 

The case against Varun Gandhi was lodged during the Bahujan Samaj Party regime of Mayawati at the height of the 2009 Lok Sabha election for the obvious political gain of garnering Muslim votes. The BSP government knew that the CD was fake and doctored so the BSP government till it was in office in UP (March 15, 2012) did not pursue the matter in the court.

 

A case under Section 153 of the IPC was registered in March 2009 against Varun Gandhi in Pilibhit for the alleged speech. A CD of the hate speech was also prepared which was sent to the forensic lab at Chandigarh and Hyderabad. The forensic lab report said two things– the voice in the CD did not match the voice of Varun Gandhi and that the CD was tampered and found edited 46 times. That is why the public prosecutor did not present the CD in the court as evidence. The counsel of Varun Gandhi in the local court of Pilibhit prayed for the hearing in the case on daily basis while the government’s counsel sought adjournment for six months. Varun Gandhi appeared in the court for 22 times.

 

The government counsel did not present the CD in the court and the government officials turned hostile only to save their skin and prevent an embarrassment for the state government, as there was no case against Varun Gandhi. Moreover as alleged in 2009, the meeting where Varun Gandhi delivered the alleged hate speech was organised without the prior permission of the district returning officer. Then why was a case for the violation of the model code of conduct during the election not lodged against Varun Gandhi, by the district authoritie?”

Swami Prasad Maurya | BSP

“The acquittal of Varun Gandhi by a court in Pilibhit has confirmed that the Samajwadi Party and the BJP are hand in glove for obvious political reasons. Both want to achieve their political ends by pursuing a communal agenda in politics. The officers including the then district magistrate, additional district magistrate and police official did not turn hostile on their own. They had directions from the very top and the officers acted accordingly.

 

If the court had acquitted Varun Gandhi of the charges of hate speech, then the Samajwadi Party led UP government should have appealed against the court order. But the UP government was forced to act only after the media exposed the connivance of both the SP and the BJP.

 

Varun Gandhi had delivered the hate speech in Pilibhit during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the whole nation had seen that on television. The then UP Chief Minister Mayawati, had taken prompt action against Varun Gandhi, to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn when the process of election was on. Whatever UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav may claim now, the people of the state particularly the minorities know that his decision for appeal against the order of the Pilibhit court is an afterthought and has raised serious question in the minds of the people over the secular credentials of the ruling Samajwadi Party in UP.”

HN Dikshit | BJP

“The acquittal and conviction are the discretion of the court. The judge decides as per the material available on record. It’s an established practice in law that the judge will not use even the personal knowledge and information while deciding on the case before him and would strictly go by the material on record and evidence presented before him. The same thing has happened in the case of Varun Gandhi. Will it be fair to assume that all those who are convicted by the court are due to the proactive role of the government and those acquitted are due to the inaction of the government? The government has nothing to do with the decision of the court. The case against Varun Gandhi was lodged in 2009 on the orders from the very top in the government and the officers who were on the forefront in preparing the case against the BJP leader were not eyewitness to the incident of the hate speech, so they turned hostile in court.”

Ram Achal Rajbhar | Bahujan Samaj Party

“I am not surprised by the acquittal of Varun Gandhi by the Pilibhit court. It was not possible without the tacit support from the Samajwadi Party government. Why has the wisdom of challenging the order of the Pilibhit court dawned on the SP government so late? They thought of it only after the nexus of the ruling Samajwadi Party with the BJP was exposed by the media. Only recently Mulayam Singh Yadav praised LK Advani and had described him as a great leader, who never tells lies. SP government helped in the acquittal of Varun Gandhi, only to strengthen the BJP, so that they could garner the votes of the minority community in the 2014 parliament elections.”

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