Shadows of Ghazwa Times, LeT, JuD, Abdullah Muntazir In IJ-Case.

Yesterday we saw how Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) affidavit submitted in Gujarat High Court (GHC) on 6th August 2009 had at Para 8 on Page 6 shamelessly cited Times of India (TOI), The Hindu (TH), and Indian Express (IE) “news stories”, which had in turn “talked” of a statement Lashkar  E Taiba (LeT) supposedly made in Ghazwa Times of Lahore claiming that Ishrat Jahan was its operative. Today, I again perused that affidavit closely, and found that at Para 13 on Pages 10/11, R V S Mani on behalf of MHA had averred, “13. It is further stated and submitted that, on May 2, 2007 Jama’t-ud-Da’wah another mouth-piece of Lashkar-e-Taiba) published a news item “an apology to Ishrat Jahan’s family”, just a few days before Gopinatha Pillai filed his petition on the same matter before Hon’ble Supreme Court On May 18, 2007. Claiming that the news item Gazhwa describing Ishrat as female martyr of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Several Indian newspapers including, above-mentioned news items are enclosed as Annexure IIIA & III-B”. Why should MHA affidavit talk of a news item, which absolves Ishrat Jahan from LeT association”? The reason is quite plain. Gopinath Pillai, father of Pranesh Kumar Pillai alias Jeved Shaikh, had submitted a petition in Supreme Court (SC), which referred to this “LeT apology”.
There is more to it though if one compares the language of Para 13 to that of Para 8, which had begun, “8. it is humbly submitted that several Indian newspapers such as, the Times of India, The Hindu, The Indian Express published news item on July 15, 2004 that Lahore based Ghazwa Times, mouthpiece of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let-) had said…”. Doesn’t it stare us in the face if one compares the portions from both highlighted in red? Para 13 directly refers to the apology published by Jama’t-Ud-Da’wah (JuD); whereas Para 8 speaks only of news item in Indian papers that reported what came in Ghazwa times. The difference in language is stark. JuD would have published its “apology” in its publicity organ, Ghazwa Times, including its “claims” if any. While in defence of the “claim of Ishrat Jahan being a LeT-Operative” the indirect “evidence” of the story in Indian newspapers is given, the “apology” is directly cited with reference to Ghazwa Times. The reason is threefold: (1) MHA with its mighty State resources and sources failed to get a copy of Ghazwa time dated 14th July 2004 in which the LeT claim of Ishrat Jahan was its operative was published. (I am in good company for my failure), (2) By showing the LeT “apology” in Ghazwa Times dated 2ndMay 2007  by which LeT “admitted” that indeed it had said earlier what it said about its link to Ishrat Jahan, and (3) It attempts to discredit LeT “apology” by claiming it is motivated and tactical to discredit India’s intelligence and security agencies as it came after GHC and SC got involved due to the petitions of the families of Ishrat Jahan and Parnesh Kumar Pillai alias Javed Shaikh. However, whatever the truth of the matter, the newspaper stories are inadmissible as evidence in Indian courts. The “reported statements” of two lawyers, who represent petitioners, are of interest in this context: “Citing Jamat-ud-Dawa’s website, the lawyer Mukul Sinha told newspersons that the organization had already refuted the news published on the website of Lahore-based weekly ‘Ghazwa Times’, that Ishrat was a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative. To this, Shamima’s counsel Vrinda Grover said that they do not require any certificate or declaration on a website by an organization, to prove Ishrat Jahan’s innocence”. I subscribe to the reported stand of Vrinda Grover.
If whatever LeT claims and publishes in its publicity organ Ghazwa Times is to be believed and trusted as blogosphere and social media in India does, then why single out and exclude its apology? Incidentally, it was not an “apology” per se for mentioning that Ishrat Jahan was its operative; but for publishing what appeared in Indian newspapers “without attributing the source”. At least that was the explanation put out by Abdullah Muntazir, a LeT spokesperson. “…this apology by its spokesperson Abdulla Muntazir on the internet edition of the paper saying he was on leave when this admission was published and called it a “journalistic mistake by my staff”… Muntazir claims the Ghazwa monitoring cell extracted news about Ishrat Jahan from Indian newspapers at the time of the encounter, and published them. “Herein lies the blunder. The source of this news item was not mentioned along with the news.””. This could be an attempt at subterfuge, but could well also be an honest admission. Yes, even terrorists could and would make “honest” mistakes like others. In the world of journalism this happens all the time, just like recently contributing editor at Indian Express and senior journalist, Seema Chisti, “mistakenly” stated that Mani’s allegations against what Satish Verma told him were put in his affidavit before GHC. This was so though the two events, “allegations” and “affidavit”, happened nearly four (4) years apart.
I was still not ready to give up my chase of Abdullah Muntazir, Ghazwa Times, and their LeT and JuD connection. I stumbled across a website of “Pakistan Media Watch” (PMW), which through its sober and careful analysis invites trust. PMW has wealth of information on JuD that clearly shows the utter divergence between latter’s pious asseverations –we are an internationally renowned charity- and its violent terrorist activities.  “‘Jud’ was created by Hafiz Saeed and Zafar Iqbal in 1985 to preach their version of Wahabi Islam. Presently, the organization’s stated objective is to destroy India, Israel and the United States for they are the enemies of Islam… The clip that Hamid Mir played shows Qari Sheikh Yaqoob speaking from the Difa-e-Pakistan Council stage. Yaqoob is leader of Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, a spinoff group of Jamaat-ud-Dawa that called for the death of Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer”. Then I came across this website of “Bihar Urdu Youth Forum” (BUYH), which appears to be run from the Indian state of Bihar, and had this odd page on Abdullah Muntazir, where the only legit link seems to be “Urdu”.
Muntazir’s biography on the site says, “Abdullah Muntazir is an expert on Islamic militancybased in Islamabad,Pakistan. In 1997 he started his journalistic career as a special correspondent for Daily Ausaf an Islamabad-based Urdu newspaper publishedin Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He also worked for Daily Asas  as a correspondent from Muzaffarabad for a short period of time.
He is founder editor of Weekly Gazwah an Urdu newspaper once run by the Islamic charity and proselytization/preaching organization  This newspaper was banned in December 2008 when the Government of Pakistan outlawed Jamat-ud-Dawah, complying with the United Nations Security Council’s Taliban and Al Qaeda Sanction Committee’s decision to proscribe the charity. The charity has challenged the Security Council ban, claiming that the allegations are baseless, and has filed an appeal for delisting.
Muntazir had also served as Jamat-ud-Dawah’s spokesman for international media, from 2005 to January 2009.
He has continued to work with independent media. He worked as in-charge discussion forum Daily Khabrain Lahore (2003), and was a sub-editor for Daily Pakistan Lahore (2002) and Daily Khabrain Lahore (2003). In the past ten years, he contributed many articles on national, international, social and religious issues for different Urdu and English newspapers”. I have highlighted the offending or significant portions of his “biography”. Muntazir’s association with JuD and by implication LeT may not by itself make him a terrorist, but definitely marks him as terrorist sympathizer, who espouses terrorist causes. That BUYH should have called Pakitstan Occupied Kashmir (POK), Azad Kashmir is a worrying sign. Had it been really concerned about rights of Kashmiri Muslims, then it would have identified POK by that name, and may have called Indian Kashmir as India Occupied Kashmir (IOK). But by calling POK, Azad Kashmir, it has shown its leanings are towards violent and fanatical Jihadis, who operate from Pakistani soil, and have little concern for the good of Kashmiri Muslims.
Muntazir’s political vision stems from his Wahabi Islam, which seeks to unite all Muslims politically, though he doesn’t say so explicitly in his article, Fall of Dhaka – An Indian Confession, in The Tribune on 4th May 2007, “It was that common ideological bond that was the single most important factor which had bound East and West Pakistan as a single entity otherwise Bangladesh would never have been a part of Pakistan. If all the various ethnic peoples with all their different languages and traditions are beads of a common string, which is Pakistan, it is because of that same common ideological factor that keeps them bonded together,… Pakistan was founded on the basis of La’ila’ha’il’lal’lah (There is no deity except Allah), and the strength of our defense is directly linked to the strength of our commitment to this common declaration of faith”. His journalism is loyal to the real power centre in Pakistan, “Pakistan, nowadays, is going through its worst phase of internal unrest, chaos, sectarianism, as well as, language, tribal, and land ownership based feuds. There is active turmoil in two of the four provinces. Our own forces are in a state of war within Pakistan’s borders. Political opportunists, who thrive during internal strife, have begun criticizing the country’s armed forces openly, and even the freedom of the press and media is being exploited to malign them. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that the current propaganda campaign is quite similar to the one used by India to incite Bengalis against the Pakistani Army back in 1971. How can a country’s defense be strong if there is a state of mutual distrust between a country’s armed forces and its populace?” He carries the same bigoted of view of his religion, Islam, when he spouts this historical nonsense, “Hindus should not forget that during the past one thousand years, they have been able to rule India for only the last sixty years; as apart from the hundred and fifty odd years of British rule, it was Muslims who have always ruled India. In fact, it was Muslims who had unified India into one large state, and it was Muslims who divided it in 1947”. He has able allies in India in Akbaruddin Owaisi and Praveen Togadia, who too spout identical nonsense. Those who wish for a curative antidote for such poisonous venom and twisted history should listen to another Pakistani and a journalist, Hassan Nisar, here. All in all, JuD, LeT, or Muntazir’s “clarifications” or “certifications, or “claims” are not to be trusted; and Indian courts would certainly show “their statements” the proper place they deserve.
I wish to share a small “victory”. Though the Ja’mat Ud Da’wa website fails to open, I found on Twitter its “official handle”. May be someone could authenticate it, though it looks the real thing.
On some latest tweets, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Amir of JuD, ironically expresses his sadness and offers condolences to the families of the victims of terrorist violence at Parachinar. But make no mistakes, this terrorist violence has chosen Pakistani soil, and not Indian. The shoe obviously pinches hard when feet belong to us.
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