DEAD-END AHEAD?
Dawood, ISI ~ cops’ pet theories

A TOUGH task awaits the Delhi police, some of its counterparts too, convincing the discerning public of its bona fides when invoking the rather draconian MCOCA against those arrested for IPL spot-fixing, and its assertion that the Dawood Ibrahim syndicate is at the root of the scandals. If one set of cops find it convenient to trace virtually all terrorist activity to Pakistan&’s ISI (making it appear more effective than Mossad, Stasi, Sevak etc) and its “agencies”, another use a similar ploy in accusing the former Mumbai underworld don, now operating out of Karachi/ Dubai, when unable to get enough material to nail scamsters functioning under their very noses. After all both are beyond “reach”. Also true to form is applying “special” laws against common criminals: this not only offers  much technical leeway and the provision for stiff punishment, it multiplies the apparent enormity of the crime in popular perception. The latter exercise is being furthered by a media (the electronic element in particular) gone berserk, with small-thinking, big-talking presenters pronouncing all and sundry guilty in a bid to sensationally boost viewership. There is something sinister to this new police-media nexus that ignores the basics of “balance”, privacy and fair play. Are TV crew entitled to emulate lynch-mobs? Simultaneously is it apparent that the outgoing Commissioner of the Delhi Police is manipulating a last hurrah to erode the memory of a less-than-impressive tenure. Remember, he will not be around to “answer” should the boasts not be backed up. A different dimension to “hit and run”.
None of that, however, diminishes the fact that the Delhi Police has proved the catalyst to the opening of the proverbial can of worms. Illegal betting was an open secret, suspicions of “fixing” have long been nursed. Yet even the cops would be amazed at the extent of the domino effect: the IPL/BCCI stand discredited, even the India captain has questions to answer, as do some ex-cricketers who have opted for the commentary box. Cricketers have long ceased to merit Cardus’ description of “Gods or flannelled fools”; soon “thrillers” could be based on the sleazy side of the game as manifest via the IPL. Years ago when the Delhi Police and cricket administrators “clashed” it was over the number of “passes” that were demanded for a Test match. And cops who doled them out to friends were deemed dodgy. What a long way downhill has everyone travelled thereafter.

TALK TURKEY
A movement against Islamist trends

IN 1914, the Ottoman Empire was referred to as ‘the sick man of Europe’, a sign that the once-great power was crumbling. A century later, Turkey is in crisis though its beleaguered Prime Minister refuses  to call the upsurge in Istanbul&’s Taksim Square as the beginning of a  “Turkish Spring”. In terms of numbers or even the establishment&’s crackdown, the movement doesn’t match the turnout at Cairo&’s Tahrir Square, far less the repression of Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi or Bashr al-Assad.  Nonetheless, the common strand that binds the nerve-centres of Turkish protest is the increasingly robust demand for the ouster of  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ergo, the upsurge in Istanbul and Ankara is directed against the policies of Mr Erdogan&’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, and not the establishment in the  larger context. The demand for the PM&’s ouster can be contextualised with the decidedly sympathetic response of the President, Abdullah Gul, who has acknowledged the democratic right to protest, couched with a call for an end to the violence. Is there a difference of perception at the helm? Tuesday&’s apology by the Deputy Prime Minister would suggest that his perception is also at variance with that of the PM. “The voice of the protestors, delivered with good intentions, has been heard. Democracy doesn’t only mean elections,” is the President&’s message to the people.  Contrast this with the Prime Minister&’s assertion ~ “We will stand firm. We already have a spring in Turkey, but there are those who want to turn this spring into winter.” Clearly, Mr Erdogan has struck a far harder tone and only a bizarre sense of confidence, indeed remarkable insensitivity, explains his decision  to take the flight out to Algeria and Morocco at this critical juncture. He has indeed ignored the appeals by Turkey&’s allies for restraint and the condemnation of the offensive that has been articulated by international rights groups.
On the face of it, the government&’s plan to “redevelop” Taksim Square ~ historically a venue for protest ~ has ignited the crisis. At worst, this has brought matters to a head. At another remove, the compulsions of the demonstrators are profoundly critical. The movement represents, above all, the voice against increasingly Islamist trends in a country that is closer to the West in terms of social mores than it is to the Arab world. Notably, the Prime Minister has imposed tough curbs on the consumption of alcohol coupled with a ban on public displays of affection. Turkey bears witness to a people&’s protest against a swingback, close to a century after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had transformed the country into a modern, secular nation-state. It is the way history often works.

UNQUIET BORDER
Inter-state disputes deserve attention

THE Assam-Nagaland border is restive again. On 23 May, some Naga miscreants allegedly abducted two Adivasi youths from a village in the Jorhat area for, or so they claimed, encroaching on their land. The same day the Nagaland police reportedly handed the two over to the Mariani police station. In protest against the Naga action some organisations in Assam imposed a road blockade stopping supplies to Mokokchung. During this time some Naga travellers were roughed up in Mariani and their vehicle damaged. In protest the Ao Sendem, a powerful Naga organisation, stopped all vehicles from plying  on the Amguri and Mariani roads from 28 May and is determined to hold on to it till such time the matter is solved. The simmering tensions gave way to violence on 3 June when, in an exchange of firing between Nagas and Assamese, a  villager on the Assam side was wounded and later succumbed to his injuries.
Since the creation of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, the boundary disputes have  become a problem without end. There appears to be quiet satisfaction in official circles that since the 1985 clashes between the Assam and Nagaland police, resulting in the death of 45 people, the Assam-Nagaland border has more or less been quiet. The disputant states are waiting for the report of the three-man local boundary commission appointed by the Supreme Court some five years ago. But unless the acceptance of its recommendations is made mandatory, there is little possibility of peace being maintained along the inter-state borders. Tensions may be defused with mutual understanding, but at the same time people living along the borders must realise that there is no alternative to peaceful existence.