My name is Shahina and I am not a terrorist

“It is important to speak for those who live on the margins…I have always tried to give visibility to those who are invisible,” says Shahina K K whose anticipatory bail plea is being heard on March 16 by the Karnataka high court. Shahina received the Chameli Devi Award for an outstanding woman journalist by the Media Foundation on March 15. She got the award for her works while she was with Tehelka. At present she is the Thiruvananthapuram correspondent of Open magazine.

Excerpts of her acceptance speech

I am using this opportunity to explain who I am.

See, I happen to be a Muslim, but I am not a terrorist.

Unfortunately, anybody carrying a Muslim name, no matter whether he or she is a believer, agnostic or atheist has to keep this as an opening line on every occasion of a dialogue in public. I have hardly practiced any religion right from my adolescence yet I have to make this kind of a statement.

You may have an idea about what I am going to talk about. In fact this award gives me a great opportunity today to talk about the crime I have committed. I interviewed two of the prosecution witnesses in the infamous Bangalore blast case in which Kerala PDP leader Abdul Nasar Madani is an accused. Madani had spent 10 years in prison as an under-trail in the Coimbatore blast case of 1997 and later was exonerated in 2007. The firebrand orator, who once triggered some kind of belligerence among the post-Babri Masjid Kerala Muslim youth, in his second coming had made a public alliance with the left parties in the last Lok Sabha polls. A man who was speaking the language of democracy, a politician who was using the tools of parliamentary politics had been again taken by the police, this time from Karnataka, for his alleged involvement in the Bangalore blast case. He was arrested immediately after the Lok Sabha polls.

Two of the six prosecution witnesses in the case, Jose Thomas and Mohammed Jamal who is the younger brother of Madani, had approached the court alleging that their testimonies had been fabricated. The third witness was on death bed in a hospital in Ernakulam on the day the police recorded his testimony. He died four days later. Police records say that the testimony was recorded in Kannur, around 500 kms away from Ernakulam where he was admitted. The hospital records prove that on that day he was not in Kannur, but was very much in the hospital in Ernakulam.

With this background, I started my investigation into the police conspiracy theory. Obviously as a journalist, I suspected the police story. My assumption was not wrong. I decided to meet the other prosecution witnesses from Kodagu, Karnataka who had testified that they had seen Madani in the ginger estate in Lakkeri in Kodagu. Two of them told me that they had seen Madani only on television. One among them, K.K Yogananda, an RSS activist, was not even aware that he had been listed by the police as a witness.

The other person is Rafeeq, whose story is very typical of what happens to hundreds of Muslim youngsters who are arrested and tortured by the police with absolutely no evidence. He was forced to give testimony against Madani.

I went there on 16th November last year. On the way to Rafeeq’s place after meeting Yogananda, I was talking to local people over there. The police came and started questioning me. Initially it was in an intimidating tone. They did not allow me to stay back and continue my work hence I left and we set off to meet Rafeeq.

I completed my job late in the evening and started my journey back to Kerala. On the way back, I received a call from the Circle Inspector who asked me if I was a terrorist. I did not have any answer. But the reports of the visit of a ’dubious’ woman in the garb of Tehelka journalist along with some strangers were doing the rounds in the local news papers. It is obvious that all those stories must have been planted by the police.

Meanwhile, Tehelka published the story titled, ‘Why this man is still in Prison’? Madani may or may not be innocent. My story was not at all on the merit of the Bangalore blast case but on the fabrication of a conspiracy theory by the Police.

After a few days, I came to know from news paper reports that a case had been registered against me for intimidating witnesses in the Bangalore blast case. The rest, you may know. Initially, they charged me under sections 506 and 149 of IPC, for intimidating witnesses. They had also managed to get complaints from the witnesses I interviewed. I sought anticipatory bail in the district court of Madikeri. During the course of the hearing of my bail plea, the police sought permission of the court to add section 22 of unlawful activities prevention act, which was allowed by the sessions court and my anticipatory bail plea was rejected.

Now the bail plea is in the High Court of Karnataka. Tomorrow, the case will be heard. I don’t know what is going to happen – whether I will get bail or jail.

The case against me is nothing but a warning to the entire media, not to attempt to challenge the state. If you dare to do it, they will use draconian laws against you. If you belong to the minority community, they will also profile you. It is very difficult to prove that you are not a terrorist. It is equally difficult to prove that you are not a Maoist in our life and times.

In this era of paid news, I believe, it is important to speak for those who live on the margins, who are not able to pay. I have always tried to give visibility to those who are invisible. This award espouses my efforts and gives me support and assurance in my way ahead.

[Courtesy: The Hoot, Photo courtesy: Media Mind]


Dowry charge against hubby’s biz partner

Here is a unique dowry harassment case. The complainant woman has spared her in-laws and accused someone who is not family of harassing her.

Kavitha Chengappa has alleged that Divya N, business partner of her husband, K Chengappa, used to come (with her husband) to their house in Mysore and threaten her with dire consequences.
Why me?
An outraged Divya told Bangalore Mirror, “Is being Chengappa’s business partner a crime? Why should I be dragged into the husband-wife fight when I am in no way related to the family?”

Divya, a 39-year-old woman entrepreneur from Coorg, has moved the High Court of Karnataka to get her name removed from the complaint. “As an entrepreneur, I have seen many highs and lows in life,” she said. “But nothing compares to the nightmare I have been going through ever since Kavitha filed the complaint about two months ago.”

Chengappa, a native of Coorg, is a successful businessman. He first met Kavitha, 32, at his shop in Mysore in 2007. As she too hailed from Coorg, they became friends. At that time, Chengappa was separated from his first wife, Jyothi.

Chengappa told Mirror, “We had a registry marriage in Mysore in September 2008. But after the marriage, every day, we had quarrels. She never made me happy.

“This January, Kavitha left for her parental home, and on Jan 20, she registered a dowry harassment case against me under Section 498 A. Most surprisingly, she made my business partner, Divya, a co-accused. It was shocking as Kavitha and Divya have never met.”

Divya said, “Kavitha came to know that I had helped Chengappa get close to his son from previous marriage. She called me and threatened me to keep out of all this. She was perhaps afraid that Chengappa would give away all his property and money to his son. It is out of spite that she has named me a co-accused in the dowry harassment case.

“I would also like to ask the police how they took down such a complaint despite knowing the law. It’s been almost two months since Kavitha filed the complaint, but the cops still haven’t called me for interrogation.”

Divya added, “I work with women organisations and fight against the harassment women face. But I myself have been attacked by another woman.”

Criminal lawyer Shankarappa, who is handling Divya’s case, said, “By no means is my client to be blamed for anything. The case will come up for hearing in the high court soon. I am confident that Divya would come clean.”

(All names, except for the lawyer’s, have been changed to protect identities)


FMC College will get Rs 70 lakh aid: M’lore VC

The Mangalore University Syndicate has agreed to provide financial assistance of Rs 70 lakh to develop Field Marshal K M Cariappa College building, hostel and other development works, said Mangalore University Vice-Chancellor Prof T C Shivashankaramurthy. 

 Speaking at the 62nd annual day celebrations of FMC College here on Monday, he said Rs 25 lakh has been given to purchase computers in the college.

The state government has earmarked Rs 5 crore for the PG centre at Chikkaluvara near Kushalnagar. Few Post Graduation courses will be started in the coming academic year, he added.

Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah said “students have a greater responsibility in today’s world. The students should make use of the available facilities.”
He called upon the students not to waste time and give emphasis to studies.

“Getting degree is not enough. The students should go for higher studies for a brighter future,” he added. Stating that the government has been giving emphasis to primary and higher education, Bopaiah said students should discontinue from their studies. The government is giving free education for girl children till she completes degree.

Mangalore University Registrar Dr K Chinnappa Gowda said “annual day is not for just celebration. It is also a day for introspection on whether we have discharged our duties efficiently.

Kodava Sahithya Academy handed over a cheque of Rs 5 lakh towards Kodava Cultural Study Centre of Mangalore University to the Vice-Chancellor.
Alia Firdosh who had secured 11th rank in BBM examination was felicitated on the occasion.

‘Kodagu pranthyadalli kandu baruva jathigalu haagu budakattu janangagala vrithantha samhithe’ brought out by the Kodava Cultural Study Centre was released on the occasion.

FMC College Principal Dr Pushpa Kuttanna welcomed the gathering.

Another island to be developed adjacent to Cauvery Nisargadama

The district in charge minister Vijayashankar has said that an island adjacent to Cauvery Nisargadama would be developed through tourism department and the extension of Nisargadama would be enlarged.

Talking to scribes here, Vijayashankar said that rupees four crore would be allotted to Cauvery nisargadama within a fortnight to develop it further.

The minister said that a high level meeting would be held at Bangalore next week to discuss various projects to kodagu. Rupees five crore drinking project to kodagu will also be tabled in the meeting and implemented to end drinking water problem, he said. Zilla Panchayath president ravi Kushalappa, who was present with the minister said that the proposal is ready to be tabled.

The minister said that the government has given green signal to capture two rogue elephants in the district. But, they have entered nagarahole national Park, he informed. A proposal of rupees 140 crores to solve elephant menace in the district is before the government, he said.