January 31, 2011

life in general & financial markets: (part 1) the farce that is india's environment ministry

The Congress Party-ruled government of India is notorious for cunning, but ugly and corrupt, use of the vast power it wields as the ruling government of the country.

In appointing a reasonably honest person, Jairam Ramesh, as the environment, the Congress government was being cunning as it tended to give an illusion of seriousness with regard to shoddy implementation of environment laws of India.

But even Jairam Ramesh has not been able to hold out against the extremely powerful, but dirty, forces within the Congress Party and its allies in the ruling government.  

Today, the environment ministry has given approval to a large steel project of Korean steel company, Posco, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa. The conditions that have been applied to the project would have anyway applied to any major project. But the violations that Posco committed have attracted no hard action by the government. The only thing that Jairam Ramesh could do was put on hold the project for a few weeks. That is all.

I am confident that the Congress Party-ruled government, or any other future government of India, will pay heavily for their horrendous track record with regard to environmental and people's basic rights including that of livelihood and property.

Here is what a press release, issued today, from a Orissa-based group, comprising of people affected by the Posco steel project had to say on the matter:


Dhinkia, Nuagaon, Gadkujang; Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa

PRESS RELEASE: 31 January 2011

Scandalous Decision of Jairam Ramesh to OK POSCO project

Environment Minister disregards findings of his own Review and Statutory Clearances Committees

The decision of Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to give a comprehensive OK to the POSCO India Steel-Power Production-Captive Port project, based on some additional conditions, is nothing short of a total sell out to the politics of power and international capital. In a climate where each and every Minister of the Union Government is tumbling over with scandals, Ramesh had stood tall taking one brave legally and ethically correct decision after another. An acid test for him to continue this streak of decision making in the wider public interest, keeping in view intergenerational interests as well, was about the POSCO project. By his decision today to clear the project Ramesh has failed not only his own legacy, but has attacked the very rule of law based decision making that he has so often been harping on to be the basis of his functioning.

It is well known that the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi, a peaceful movement of affected communities, has been systematically raising the deep, inter-generational and irreversible impacts of allowing this massive project to come up in the ecologically sensitive Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa. This struggle began with the inking of a most controversial MOU between Orissa State and Korea's Pohang Steel (POSCO) in 2005, proposing to establish the largest industrial project ever conceived in human history: a 12 MTPA steel plant backed by captive power plant; a captive port (described as “small” but designed to receive the largest commercial ships ever built - of CAPESIZE variety); a large township to accommodate over 100000 people; a large captive mine in Kandadhar (600 MT for local processing and 400 MT for export over 30 years); fresh water intake from over 100 kms. away (while denying many towns and cities drinking water) and extensive road and rail infrastructure to support the project.

The 4000 acres of land chosen for the plant site comprise of pristine coastal and deltaic ecosystems, with active nesting sites for the critically endangered Olive Ridley Turtles and the Horse Shoe Crabs. Over a third of this land comprises of coastal forests. Over 22000 people will be directly displaced by the steel plant alone, a number that has been repeatedly disputed by Orissa Government based on its spurious claims. Absolutely no impact assessment of any academic rigour worth its salt or regulatory review of value considering the mega scale of this project, has at all been conducted to support the project is environmentally and socially useful. In fact, the so-called Rapid Environment Impact Assessment reports prepared by M/s Dastur for POSCO India, was only for 4 MTPA steel production and not for the entire project as is required by law. Clearly against statutory standards and norms, the project was still accorded environmental, forest and coastal regulation zone clearances in 2007. In addition, the Orissa Government engaged the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) to cook up data claiming the benefits from the project as phenomenal, which when verified even cursorily proved to be junk statistics supporting desperate political games promoting the project.

Following what is widely regarded as a politically brave but legally correct decision of Jairam Ramesh to reject on grounds of fraud the clearance accorded to the infamous Vedanta Bauxite project in Orissa during 2010, the much larger POSCO issue came into focus. After all communities affected by POSCO had been engaged for over 5 years in the most outstanding example of peaceful resistance against such unprecedented unjust development. Bending to reason, Mr. Ramesh agreed to constitute a sub-Committee under the N. C. Saxena Committee reviewing Forest Rights Act implementation, to also enquire if the POSCO project's forest clearances were compliant with the Forests Rights Act enacted only in 2006. Producing their report the Committee put beyond any reasonable doubt that the forest clearances accorded were in comprehensive violation of the Forest Rights Act. A right step taken soon after by the Minister was to stay the forest clearance accorded - a decision taken that was taken at a time when brutal dislocation of forest dwelling communities was underway by the Orissa Government.

Subsequently, Ramesh ordered an independent enquiry into all aspects of the project's clearance coordinated by Ms. Meena Gupta, former MoEF Environment Secretary, with Mr. Devendra Pandey (IFS, Retd.), former Director of Forest Survey of India, Mr. V. Suresh, Advocate and PUCL activist and Dr. Urmila Pingle, expert on tribal affairs, as members. Following three months of deliberate and extensive consultations, and also detailed investigation into all aspects of the clearances accorded, and on the basis of detailed verification of compliance review files the Committee by a majority decision (3:1) comprehensively rejected all the clearances granted to the project. Ms. Meena Gupta who stood up for the POSCO project, dubiously recommended additional conditions to adjust against serious statutory violations and fraud in the decision making process – a line of thinking that Jairam Ramesh now scandalously subscribes to.

In the subsequent review by Statutory Appraisal Committees of the MoEF, the Committees reviewing the Forest and Coastal Clearances recommended withdrawal of clearances granted. The only Committee that proposed a go-ahead was the one reviewing the environmental impacts under the EIA Notification. It was for Ramesh to now decide on the right steps to be taken to correct this gross injustice and irregularities in environmental decision making. In the face of extensive burden of proof of fraud involved in securing clearances for the POSCO project, the matter should legally have been to withdraw clearances accorded – as in the Vedanta case. This was the time to test the honesty of a man to stand up and uphold Constitutional and Ethical values, regardless of any and all forms of pressures. Jairam Ramesh has miserably failed this test.

The report presented today by Jairam Ramesh is nothing but a capitulation to corrupt forces both within India and abroad. ........... 
For the single largest project FDI investment in India at 2005 prices (Rs. 51,000 crores or USD 12 billion capital cost), analysis reveal that this investment can be recovered in less than a decade given the pittance of a royalty that POSCO will pay for iron ore extracted. (Rs. 30/tonne at the official ore valuation of Rs. 300/tonne, compared with the commercial value of Rs. 7,000/tonne). It is to make such unprecedented profits from the plunder of India's natural resources that POSCO demanded a coastal location for its super large CAPESIZE ships to be berthed to cart away our precious iron ore. What India would be left with is the toxic residue of its dirty ore processing, while the refined ore (perhaps not even the finished steel) would be exported to Korea and elsewhere to add more value to POSCO's profits. This is not merely a flight of the nation's natural wealth but also a massive planned political exercise for erosion of financial resources with questionable legal sanction.....................
Abhay Sahoo
Prashant Paikray
POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi

January 30, 2011

life in general & financial markets: criminal collusion between politicians & real estate companies

The newsreport in a weekly newsmagazine that I share below is a recent India-based example of the criminal collusion between politicians & real estate companies.

Here goes:

Forest too lands in DLF kitty
Degraded land in Gurgaon was nurtured back to health over a decade. But instead of serving as a green lung, it has been sold to a private developer, reports BRIJESH PANDEY
Green charade A forest nurtured by the state government in Gurgaon is now private property
Green charade A forest nurtured by the state government in Gurgaon is now private property
BENDING RULES to allot or sell land, that scarce resource, to favoured parties is a fine art state governments have mastered across the country. It has been done through discretionary quotas, by changing land use patterns and subverting housing society norms. In Haryana, it has been done by pretending that land regenerated by afforestation is not really forest land in the traditional sense. Thus enabling a private developer already sitting on huge land banks to grab one more.
The deal in question is 350 acres of prime land in Wazirabad village near Gurgaon, given to DLF for development of a recreation and leisure park for Rs. 1,700 crore. Environmental experts and land developers are shocked that the prime land was sold in callous disregard to environmental laws laid down by the Supreme Court regarding the Aravalli Plantation Scheme, in an attempt to restore the forests of the fragile hill range.
The scheme, aided by the European Union, successfully rehabilitated degraded community lands of 294 villages in southern Haryana. Nearly 38,000 hectares was rehabilitated through planting and natural regeneration in the Aravalli region. Satellite imagery reveals that forest cover of this region, which was around 10,000 hectares in 1990, increased to 42,000 hectares in 1997. The duration of the project was from 1990 to 1999, sufficient time to grow a forest.
The attempt to change land use and encash this green gold began in 2002-03 when a delegation led by the then Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala made several visits to foreign lands. During those visits, several presentations were made before the delegation on developing business centres, leisure parks and related infrastructure.
A number of companies approached the state government for this and a core committee was set up by the government. Panchayat land in Wazirabad adjoining the DLF Golf and Country Club was identified as the spot for setting up the recreation and leisure project. About 350 acres was earmarked for this project and in 2008, the consultant to this project pegged its value at Rs. 1,683 crore.
In 2009, an international bidding process was conducted and only one bid was received — from DLF, with suggestions to make it more financially viable. The state government agreed to the developer’s suggestions and the project parameters were re-examined and modified. The most important change made by the government was that it would obtain statutory clearances for the project land. A fresh tender was floated and this time three companies bid for it. The project went to DLF with an important change in the tender: it was now incumbent upon the state to get statutory clearances for the land.
How important this change was can be gauged from the fact that out of the allocated 350 acres, approximately half (161 acres) came under the Aravalli Plantation Scheme and the other 92 acres was protected under Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1970.
To divert forest land for non-forestry purposes, the state needed approval from the Centre under the Forest Conservation Act. Therefore, the matter was put before the Cabinet Empowered Committee on Environment (CEC), which was appointed by the Supreme Court.
IN AN apparent bid to bypass the strictures of the Supreme Court in these matters, the Haryana government instead of approaching either the Central government or the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), filed an application in the apex court itself.
The shocker was to come next. The CEC submitted its recommendations to the Supreme Court on 21 September 2010 saying, “An area of 161 acres of the project area is covered under the Aravalli Plantation Scheme. This area does not fall in the category of forest and therefore does not require approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. Since in this area plantation has have been undertaken at the cost of the state government and the state of Haryana will get a substantial amount of Rs. 1,700 crore from the project, it will be appropriate that in the lieu of use of this area, it is ensured that an area of 80.52 acres agreed to be acquired by the state of Haryana in Badkal village.”
This recommendation made by the CEC has not only put its impartiality under doubt but also revealed how environmental clearance or protection is treated with disdain in Haryana.
According to environmental lawyer Raj Panjwani, this kind of legal manipulation is not acceptable. “This is part of the Aravalli Plantation project and the Supreme Court in its 2004 judgment has declared this as forest area. We have spent substantial sums of money for the preservation and protection of Aravalli and any move to undo it is not wise. Ecology once lost can never be retrieved.”
It was the same CEC that had recommended in 2003-04 to the Supreme Court that areas where plantation had been undertaken with the assistance provided by international donor agencies should be protected, and had stressed that destruction of plantation will only result in wastage of funds, effort and cause embarrassment to the country.
It led the Supreme Court to declare in October 2004 that “in these matters, neither the state nor the lease holders can be permitted to turn around and take a stand that the area covered under the Aravalli Project are not forest”. Six years later, this is precisely what has been allowed.
And this is not the only volte face by the CEC. When the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had asked for the same 407 acres in the Badkal area for research purposes, the CEC had said, “The dense forest cover is of great ecological value and it should not be tampered with.” The same CEC has now recommended that the land in Badkal can be given to DLF for afforestation purposes.
A senior Haryana officer in the know of things said, “The whole deal runs into several thousand crores. The way clearances are being given, the fact that the company paid only Rs. 2 per square metre more than the reserve price and the Haryana government taking all the headache for clearance: can you get more lucky than this?”
Meanwhile, Opposition parties have become aware of the deal and are in no mood to let Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda off the hook. Kuldeep Singh Bishnoi, president of the Haryana Janhit Congress, has called it a major scam. “This is a Rs. 40,000 crore scam,” he says. “This is prime land and it is being sold for a song. The chief minister should be sacked.”
Despite several attempts, nobody from the Haryana government was ready to answer questions from TEHELKA. The DLF corporate communications department too did not want to offer comment or explanation on being contacted.

January 27, 2011

life in general: human rights: a facade of action

Human Rights Watch has just released a World Report (downloadable here) highlighting events in about 90 countries with every country covered in a separate chapter. Out of three thematic essays accompanying the report is one titled "A facade of action" that I found very insightful.

I want to connect what this essay says with what a three-judge bench of India's Supreme Court remarked earlier this month on 20 January. A newspaper reported, "The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday pulled up social activist Teesta Setelvad, who has been fighting for Gujarat riots victims, for approaching an international human rights body raising the issue of protection for witnesses. The court, which was seized of a law suit seeking transfer of cases from Gujarat to another state, expressed its displeasure on Setelvad’s move. “We do not appreciate that other organisations interfere in our functioning. We can take care of (them) ourselves and cannot get guided by others. It is a direct interference in our functioning. We do not appreciate it,” a bench of justices DK Jain, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam said. Setelvad-run NGO, the Centre for Justice and Peace (CJP) had sent a letter to the Geneva-based office of the high commissioner for human rights, associated with United Nations, giving details of the proceedings in the Godhra riots cases. When Harish Salve, who is assisting the court in this case, drew the judge’s attention towards Teesta’s letter, an anguished bench told her counsel Kamini Jaiswal that CJP chief seems to have “more faith in foreign organisations than this court”. “It seems that witnesses would be protected by these organisations,” the bench remarked, adding if such letters are written then the court would pass the order without hearing the contentions of the CJP”. “If you send such letters then we would hear the amicus curie and pass the order (without hearing you),” the court warned. "All the cases are being monitored by us, we do not like any correspondence of her with foreign agencies’’, the court added. We do not appreciate letters sent to a foreign country. We do not approve of such a letter. Tomorrow, you will report these (SC) proceedings to them. This letter shows that you have more trust in them.”"

I think if Indian court judges are confident that they are doing their job properly then why have any apprehensions of any international human rights body being updated with any detail of any court case in India. This betrays arrogance on the part of Indian judiciary and is very unfortunate.

I connect with what the writer of the essay "A Facade of Action" in the Human Rights Watch's World Report, which I refer to above, says, "In last year's World Report, Human Rights Watch highlighted the intensifying attacks by abusive governments on human rights defenders, organizations, and institutions. This year we address the flip side of the problem-the failure of the expected champions of human rights to respond to the problem, defend those people and organizations struggling for human rights, and stand up firmly against abusive governments.
There is often a degree of rationality in a government's decision to violate human rights. The government might fear that permitting greater freedom would encourage people to join together in voicing discontent and thus jeopardize its grip on power. Or abusive leaders might worry that devoting resources to the impoverished would compromise their ability to enrich themselves and their cronies.
International pressure can change that calculus. Whether exposing or condemning abuses, conditioning access to military aid or budgetary support on ending them, imposing targeted sanctions on individual abusers, or even calling for prosecution and punishment of those responsible, public pressure raises the cost of violating human rights. It discourages further oppression, signaling that violations cannot continue cost-free.
All governments have a duty to exert such pressure. A commitment to human rights requires not only upholding them at home but also using available and appropriate tools to convince other governments to respect them as well.
No repressive government likes facing such pressure. Today many are fighting back, hoping to dissuade others from adopting or continuing such measures. That reaction is hardly surprising. What is disappointing is the number of governments that, in the face of that reaction, are abandoning public pressure. With disturbing frequency, governments that might have been counted on to generate such pressure for human rights are accepting the rationalizations and subterfuges of repressive governments and giving up. In place of a commitment to exerting public pressure for human rights, they profess a preference for softer approaches such as private "dialogue" and "cooperation.""

January 25, 2011

life in general: say no to plastic

We are living a plastic life. From what we eat or drink to what we wear we stand engulfed in a vast ocean of plastic material. And, most of it, particularly that used in our eating and drinking habits, is use-once-and-throw. No decent bit of recycling ever happens of of the plastic and thermocol cups, glasses and plates or tin cans we use and throw as if it was our birthright to do so.

In countries such as ours quite a bit of these even get burned as trash to avoid having to transport it to a garbage dump. Anyone bothered that these release highly toxic chemicals in the air? "We are not doing the burning!" is what one might hear from offended people who clearly have lost sight of their mindless consumption habits that have caused it.

Un-burnt plastic items that do find their way to the dump are piling up and even as natural mountains are becoming small due to mining and quarrying activity we see mountains of plastic and other materials to do not decompose for hundreds years.

It is astonishing that so many well-educated consumers, having access to every kind of information on their finger tips (internet, mobile phones, books etc), fail miserably to take steps, at least a few if not all, to bring down the use of plastic in their daily lives.

To give just one example: how much really would it take for high-heeled corporate world officers and professionals to keep a non-plastic glass and a cup on their desks which they use to drink water and tea or coffee? Why do they think they do no wrong in using a new plastic glass or cup every time they want to drink water or tea?

How much difficult is it really for us to re-use plastic bags in the next round of shopping, atleast 3-4 out of every 10 times? Every effort is required today to reduce the pain we are causing our Mother Earth every day of our life.

January 21, 2011

life in financial markets: 3-year analysis of food prices in india

In order to interpret a relatively longer term trend in food prices that the Indian government uses in its Food Articles Index (a part of Wholesale Price Index) I did a story (in the newspaper I work) early this month.

Here is what I wrote:

Price volatility in some, consistent rise in others
Analysis of 55 food items reveal lesser-known ones registering the highest price increase

Onions have the potential to make government ministers cry in fear if its price keeps shooting up but it is not onion that has led the price rise in food articles over a longer time frame. The Food Articles Index (FAI), which weighs 14.34 per cent in Wholesale Price Index-All Commodities (WPI), rose by 17.39 per cent from its average of weekly prices in 2009 to that in 2010.

With respect to individual food items, out of 55 food items (cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs-meat-fish, spices and tea-coffe) that form a part of the FAI, 25 rose more than FAI and onion was not in this list, as per a FCRB analysis. Taking yearly averages, onion's price went up by only 5.25 per cent from 2009 to 2010. But from 2008 to 2009, it was the sixth highest riser at 36.36 per cent. Interestingly, in the year-on-year (YoY) period prior to that, from 2007 to 2008, onion price had fallen by 17.85 per cent.

Such volatility was the norm for many food items -- up in one year, down in next, again up in the following year, or vice versa. For instance, among the five highest gainers and decliners in the last three YoY periods, potato fell by the third-largest quantum of14.32 per cent from 2007 to 2008, shot up by the highest quantum of 70.57 per cent from 2008 to 2009, and fell by the highest quantum of 32.07 per cent from 2009 to 2010 (see table).

Who led food price flare-up?
Even as some food items fluctuate up and down from one year to next, some such as
turmeric rise sharply continuously
Risen the most Wt. in FAI* '09 to '10
Fallen the most Wt. in FAI* '09 to '10
Turmeric 0.56 125.88
Potato 1.39 -32.07
Garlic 0.42 97.86
Corriander 0.14 -29.80
Cardamom 0.14 88.32
Tea 0.77 -17.55
Guava 0.56 77.31
Masur 0.42 -6.23
Litchi 0.28 74.53
Gram 2.30 -3.01

'08 to '09

'08 to '09
Potato 1.39 70.57
Guava 0.56 -28.73
Turmeric 0.56 66.06
Corriander 0.14 -22.84
Tapioca 0.49 42.00
Lemon 0.49 -14.59
Moong 0.56 39.26
Brinjal 2.09 -9.21
Arhar 0.98 39.21
Coconut (Fresh) 1.67 -7.10

'07 to '08

'07 to '08
Corriander 0.14 68.69
Garlic 0.42 -22.73
Ginger (Fresh) 0.35 67.65
Onion 1.26 -17.85
Mango 4.53 37.34
Potato 1.39 -14.32
Tea 0.77 30.15
Urad 0.70 -10.53
Masur 0.42 25.01
Sweet Potato 0.14 -6.37
Figures in per cent

Year-on-year changes are calculated based on yearly averages of weekly prices
* Weight in Food Articles Index
Source: Capitaline Neo, FCRB

But there were a few consistent price gainers among the 55 food items in the three YoY periods. These included such as turmeric, cardamom, litchi, fish, arhar, tapioca, milk, orange, papaya, mutton and okra. The only consistent declining food item was gram that declined in the last two YoY periods and went up by a marginal 0.15 per cent from 2007 to 2008.

But the food items that impacted the FAI the most adversely were the ones that weighed the most in the index and which were shooting up consistently. For instance, the five food items that weigh the most in FAI -- milk (22.59 per cent weightage in FAI), rice (12.48 per cent), wheat (7.81 per cent), fish-marine (5.02 per cent) and mango (4.53 per cent) have all gone up in all the last three YoY periods, barring one instance of mango falling by a small quantum from 2008 to 2009. Milk, for instance, has gone by 6.01 per cent (2007 to 2008), 14.32 per cent (2008 to 2009) and 24.49 per cent (2009 to 2010). In the same three periods, fish-marine has shot up by 9.08 per cent, 8.77 per cent and 40.81 per cent and rice by 12.81 per cent, 13.68 per cent and 7.03 per cent.

January 05, 2011

life in general: gujarat bjp govt. continues to cover up 2002 genocide-like killings of muslims

The newsreport I share below brings out yet another ugly attempt by the BJP-ruled, Narendra Modi-controlled, state government of Gujarat state to use dirty and illegal means to cover up any expose of the genocide-like killings of Muslims in February and March 2002.

Here is the newsreport:

TV journalist Rahul Singh booked for covering Gujarat's mass grave digging

By TCN Special Correspondent,
Ahmedabad: In a sinister move to gag the press in Gujarat of Narendra Modi, the Panchmahals (Godhra) district police have booked TV journalist Rahul Singh as co-accused in a case pertaining to digging of the mass graves at Panderwada, near Godhra, in 2005. The police have got a court summon issued to question Rahul who was working with Sahara TV channel here then.
The police have booked five persons including Rais Khan, a former aide of noted civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad. Setalvad’s Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) have been fighting cases of Muslim victims of 2002 Gujarat riots.
A team of Gujarat police on Wednesday descended at the Bhopal residence of Rahul. A convoy of four police vehicles from Godhra surrounded Rahul's house from all sides, creating panic and terror in the locality.
Police told his family members that they wanted to take Rahul to Gujarat for questioning in the mass grave digging case which he had reported for Sahara Samay. As Rahul was not present at his house, his family members were told to accept the summons and produce Rahul to the police but his father N K Singh, resident editor of the Bhopal edition of The Hindustan Times, declined to receive the summons.
The police left Rahul's house when local and national TV journalists reached the spot and questioned them as to why they had come to Rahul's house.
Rahul had joined Times Now in Bhopal and is currently working with Headlines Today in Delhi.
Though it is not known as to what exactly the police want to extract from Rahul, but police sources say that they want to know from Rahul who had informed him about the digging of the mass grave. So, the police want him to reveal his source, which journalists all over the world hold as the most sacred and never divulge even if they have to go to prison.
As the relatives of 27 Muslims killed during riots in Panderwada were locating their bodies, they came to know that they were buried in a mass grave in the bed of Panam river, near Lunavada, in Panchmahals (Godhra) district.
On December 27, 2005, the victims began digging the river bed and found the skeletons. Some of them informed mediapersons as well as CJP as it was extending legal assistance to riot victims.
While media reported the news of Muslim riot victims buried in a mass grave and discovery of their skeletons, police lodged an FIR against CJP coordinator Rais Khan and those involved in the digging on charges of destroying evidence. Rais Khan was in 2008 expelled by Setalvad as the latter suspected him to be working in collusion with the state government.
But police could not arrest Rais Khan and others as CJP got a bail for them from the Gujarat high court. The high court also stayed further proceedings in the case.
Later on, the Supreme Court issued orders for DNA testing of the skeletons and eight of them were identified.
But after Rais Khan quit company with Setalvad, one of the accused in the case withdrew his petition from the high court. The high court on November 24, 2010, vacated the stay in the case. After this Rais Khan and three others surrendered to the Panchmahals police. During interrogation, Rais Khan is reported to have told that he had helped the riot victims at the instance of Setalvad.
Human rights activists believe that the whole exercise to know who ordered digging of the grave and who informed the media is aimed at implicating Setalvad, who has become a headache for the Modi government by extending full support to the riot victims.
Gujarat-based human rights activists have strongly condemned the police bid to question Rahul, saying it amounted to an attack on freedom of expression.
Noted human rights activist J S Bandukwala said that Rahul and other mediapersons, who reported the mass grave digging, deserved to be felicitated as they had exposed how the police buried those killed in the riots without informing their relatives and kept it a secret. He urged media not to buckle to the Gujarat police and give tough fight to uphold freedom of the press.