Voices Monday, April 14, 2014 - 05:30
Late afternoon on Friday, April 18, 2014, a piece of information was circulated in New Delhi stating that Ranjit Sinha, Director, Central Bureau of Investigation had met the Indian envoy to Italy, Basant Kumar Gupta. The meeting, sources told the media, was arranged on the sidelines of a conference organized by the London Metropolitan Police on human trafficking. Sources told journalists the meeting took stock of the state of play of the Agustawestland case in Italian courts. The two men reportedly discussed India's judicial request the Letter Rogatory (LR) in Italy and Sinha discussed ways and means to fast-track the agency's probe into the deal. We found acronyms, religious projects and a call by India's 'caged-parrot' as Singh famously called himself recently – to set up a Global March of Religious Priests against Human Trafficking. We also found out that the CBI had proposed itself as a nodal agency to channelize funds to NGOs in India. We are left wondering what bishops and cardinals know about helicopters. The News Minute has been following this story closely. We were keen to find out of Sinha had been to Milan where Guido Haschke, one of the middlemen in the 560 million Euro VVIP helicopter deal, was seeking to turn approver (plea bargaining). That deal with the Italian prosecution was to be approved by a Judge in the Tribunal of Burso Arsizio, a village in northern Italy near Milan on April 11, 2014. If that happened, it would be the first sentencing in the chopper scam where 50 million Euros have been paid as bribes. The CBI was not available to comment Unable to get any answers for the plea-bargaining deal, we conducted our own investigation and this is what we found. The conference on human trafficking was organized not by the London Police but by the Vatican. Titled “Church and Law Enforcement in Partnership, the conference held on 9-10 April 2014, had four aims: Prevention, Pastoral Care, Reintegration and Developing an International Network of Bishop’ Conferences and Law Enforcement agencies. TNM also found out that preparation for this meeting was underway or several weeks. On March 11, 2014, the head of London's Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was confirmed as participating in the meeting which was chaired by Cardinal Vincent Nichols. Conference: Combating Human Trafficking, Director of India's Central Bureau of Investigation on the need to protect vulnerable communities. During his speech, India's top sleuth said many NGO on the ground were not connected and starved of funds that needed to be better channelized. "The CBI can be a nodal agency with the help of known experts in India and this agency can be the facilitating body for channelization of funds, if required." How can the CBI channelise funds? Did Ranjit Sinha get any clearance before saying this? Ranjit Sinha also spoke about the need to protect vulnerable communities. Sinha held forth on the distinction between human trafficking and illegal immigration stating that both have certain common currents. "Whereas in trafficking the person does not give informed consent, in illegal migration, the person’s consent is distinct. However and illegal migrant can be eventually trafficked," he said pointing to examples from Kerala. "The recent series of cases of trafficking from Kerala by the CBI is a clear example of human trafficking taking place in façade of illegal migration," Singh said. According to him a lakh and ten thousand children are reported to be missing out of which 40,000 remain untraced. Sinha said an important initiative in preventing trafficking in the source area and in containing demand is involvement of religious priests. An Inter Religion Priest Forum (IRPF) was set up in several States in India like Bihar, Jharkhand. "These forums had religion priests from different communities and religions in India IRPF has made tremendous impact in preventing and combating human trafficking," said Sinha adding that this good practice could be replicated elsewhere in the world. Given the international nature of the problem, Sinha said IRPF and AHTU could be institutionalized more robustly. "Congregation of religious priests from different communities and religions can be organized across the globe. It could generate a Global March of Religious Priests against Human Trafficking." Pope Francis addressed the 20-odd participants. "Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity,"he said. The conference- second of its kind- is the brainchild of the Bishop- Conference of England and Wales in collaboration with the UK Police Force and was hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Nigerian Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, the Archbishop of Abuja has been battling human trafficking for decades together with missionaries, religious and lay activists whom he called 'foot soldiers' in service of the Gospel. India's top sleuth is free to attend any meetings around the world. Why did the caged-parrot tell India he went to a meeting on human trafficking organized by the London Metropolitan Police and the Agustawestland LR discussion was business as usual during such a crucial week in the prosecution's diary? What else is India's top sleuth hiding?
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