Saturday, May 28, 2005

Telling Lies?

The facts:
On the 24th of May, the Times of India published an article about a clandestine meeting between CPI(M) chief Prakash Karat.
One of Nepal's top Maoist leaders, Baburam Bhattarai, is being quietly chaperoned around here by Indian intelligence agencies, which recently organised a meeting between him and CPM general secretary Prakash Karat. (...) The meeting took place in the Capital last week just when King Gyanendra of Nepal was hitting out at India for its continued indulgence of Maoists, who have been declared terrorists. Although the meeting was facilitated by intelligence agencies, Karat and Bhattarai have a common link - they share their alma mater, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Karat then denied this meeting, as the Hindu reported.

New Delhi, May 26. (PTI): CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat today described as "untrue" a media report saying that he had met Maoist leader from Nepal Babburam Bhattarai here.

The report that "I have met a Maoist leader from Nepal in a meeting arranged by the Indian security agencies is untrue," Karat said in a statement here.

"No such meeting was held," he said.

Enter Amit Varma.Using his keen mind, he realised that either the CPI(M) boss or the ToI were lying (talk about a win win situation!).
One of them is lying. And I'd love for the truth to be out, and for the liar, whoever it is, to be held accountable. I hope the matter does not fizzle out here, and that there is an aftermath.
Enter our second keen mind, Michael Higgins. In a letter to Amit Varma, he wrote:
This is the key phrase (in the Hindu article): "in a meeting arranged by the Indian security agencies". Why did he have to add this phrase? [Probably] because he did meet with the Maoist leader but the meeting was arranged by someone else, not the Indian security agencies. The ToI got that part wrong. Karat is using this mistake to, in effect, deny any meeting.

Politicians are like lawyers, they are very sly with words.
Then the Times of India wised up to the situation (or did they just read India Uncut?) and published this article on the 27th.
The hush-hush meeting was reported by TOI on Wednesday. There was no reaction that day. On Thursday, however, in a terse three-line release, Karat said, "The report in the TOI that I have met a Maoist leader from Nepal in a meeting arranged by the Indian security agencies is untrue. No such meeting was held." (...) Interestingly, it was Karat himself who had confirmed the meeting to TOI. A careful reading of his statement would also indicate that he is only denying the role of intelligence agencies in arranging the meeting, not the event itself. (...) This was exactly in line with the stand that Bhattarai took. According to agency reports from Kathmandu, the Maoist leader has denied that Indian agencies organised the meeting but didn't deny the meeting itself. While they seem to be acting in concert, sources affirmed that the agencies, indeed, brokered the meeting. (...) Their disclaimers now are easy to understand. There is an Interpol red corner notice against Bhattarai and he is expected to be arrested and turned in by Indian security agencies.
A vindicated Varma had this to say:
Now, here's what I find revealing: both Karat and Bhattarai did not deny the meeting itself; but they wanted people to believe that they did. Now, if they really didn't meet, then the ToI's riposte should lead to an umambiguous denial of the meeting from at least Karat, leaving no scope for confusion. If that is not forthcoming, then it will be safe to surmise that the meeting did take place. And it will also mean that Karat did not have the honesty and integrity to accept that he met Bhattarai, and to say, "So what? I can meet whoever I want." Courage of conviction, anyone?
Wow! A victory for blogging and a salp in the face of the commies! Good work, guys!

Read Amit's first, second and third posts on the issue. Michael Higgins' account of the incident here.


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