November 21, 2017

India: Padmavati Row - BJP's Objection Over Distorting History Is The Double Standard Of 2017 Betwa Sharma

Huffington Post India

Padmavati Row: BJP's Objection Over Distorting History Is The Double Standard Of 2017

The gold standard of double standards.

20/11/2017 12:43 PM IST | Updated 20/11/2017 3:19 PM IST
Deepika Padukone/Twitter
In 2017, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) went from distorting history, as it has done many times in the past, to fabricating history in order to advance its divisive ideology of Hindu nationalism.
Ignoring the pleas and protests against manufacturing history, the BJP government in Rajasthan changed fact to fiction in the Social Science textbook for Class 10, this year. The revised textbook says that Akbar lost the Battle of Haldighati to Maharana Pratap, even though historians have established that it was the Mughal emperor who defeated the Rajput king in 1576.
With the BJP shamelessly turning history on its head, its objections about historical inaccuracies in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's movie Padmavati reek of a level of hypocrisy that truly insults a person's intelligence. The ruling party has presented itself as the poster child of double standards, out to promote its Hindutva agenda at the cost of everything else.


The BJP's opposition to the movie about the Rajput queen, which started out with a few lawmakers writing letters, has amplified in the run up to the Gujarat state election. The Hindu nationalist party now appears to be on the same page as the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, the fringe group that has been leading a violent agitation against the multi-crore movie.
Detractors, including royal families from Rajasthan and Rajput women, are angry that the 13-14th century queen's character is seen dancing in the film. They also believe that Bhansali's film has a romantic dream sequence between the Rajput queen and the Muslim sultan Alauddin Khilji.
Even though Bhansali has said that there is no romantic dream sequence in the film, Karni Sena leaders have threatened to behead Bhansali and maim the movie's lead actor Deepika Padukone by chopping off her nose.
BJP leaders have compared distorting history to "treason."
In a letter to the Home Minister Rajnath Singh, a BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, Arjun Gupta, wrote, "He (Bhansali) needs to be severely punished by being tried for treason for his attempt to distort history," he said. In a letter to Bhansali, Haryana minister Vipul Goel wrote, "Nobody is allowed to distort history and wrongly present facts."

Gold standard of double standards

Now, let's look at the BJP's treatment of history and facts.
In just the past year, BJP governments in at least two states have distorted history in school textbooks read by millions of students, with more states likely to follow.
The Rajasthan government, for instance, has not only flipped the outcome of the Haldighati battle, it has also portrayed VD Savarkar as a champion of the independence movement, sidelining Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. In reality, Savarkar had a limited role in the freedom struggle and he ended up begging the British to release him from prison.
It is tragic and true that classrooms have always been a battlefield for political parties to promote their ideologies, whether the Congress, the BJP or the Left. Textbooks in Gujarat, a BJP bastion for two decades, have been riddled with falsehoods for a long time. In the recent past, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews were presented as "foreigners" and Hitler, who murdered millions of Jews, was described as someone who lent "dignity and prestige to the German government."
Over the past three years, however, BJP's presence at the Centre and in an unprecedented number of states has bolstered the party's plan to roll back what Hindu nationalists believe to be the domination of the Left and the "secular" thinkers in academics. They have openly declared their plan to "saffronise" history across the country.
On the one hand, BJP is protesting over a rumored dream sequence involving a Rajput queen, who may or may not have even existed. On the other hand, the BJP is not just manufacturing history, but also erasing the history that challenges its linear narrative of the barbaric Muslim invaders who persecuted Hindus and destroyed their temples.
The Maharashtra government, for instance, has removed from the history of the Mughal emperors and the Delhi Sultanate from the Class 8 textbook, with no mention of the monuments they built.
Students in Maharashtra will no longer learn about Muslims rulers like Razia Sultana, the first woman to rule Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, who circulated coins of copper and brass as token currency, and Sher Shah Suri, who introduced the first "Rupia" and made the highway that would eventually become the Grand Trunk Road.
The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is also planning to write out Mughal emperors from state textbooks. In September, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said the state's syllabus would reflect that "Mughal rulers were not our ancestors but looters."

'Don't tell me that words don't matter'

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama explained why things like "words", "ideals and inspirations" and "hope" mattered in politics. "Don't tell me words don't matter. 'I have a dream' — just words? 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal' — just words? 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself' — just words? Just speeches?" he said
The importance of "words" is seemingly lost on Indian politicians. The BJP leaders don't even need a multi-crore film to distort history. They do it routinely in remarks and statements made to the press and at public functions, without any compunction or accountability.
Unlike Bhansali, who has no choice but to respond to the agitation against his film, politicians are seemingly answerable to no one, neither the state nor the public, let alone fringe groups like the Shri Rajput Karni Sena.
There is nothing stopping Vinay Katiyar, a BJP lawmaker in the Rajya Sabha, from claiming that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan destroyed a Shiva temple to build the Taj Mahal, and calling for the world famous monument to be renamed "Tejo Mahal. The BJP leader continued to fib even after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had debunked the temple theory in a court of law.
Before Katiyar, BJP lawmaker from UP, Sangeet Som, said that the Taj Mahal was made by a man who imprisoned his own father. On the contrary, Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife, was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb.
BJP leaders have not only misrepresented the country's political, religious and cultural history, they have distorted scientific history.
In 2015, for instance, Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan said that Algebra and the Pythagoras Theorem originated in India. "Ancient Indian scientists have graciously allowed scientists from other countries to take credit for their findings," he said. While the origins of Algebra are traced back to the Islamic world, the Pythagoras Theorem is named after the Greek mathematician Pythagoras.
Earlier this year, the junior education minister of India, Satya Pal Singh, said that an Indian scholar Shivkar Bapuji Talpade invented the airplane, not the Wright Brothers in 1903. "This person invented the plane eight years before the Wright brothers," he said.
Hindu nationalists have always portrayed ancient India, before the coming of Christianity and Islam, as the golden age of prosperity and learning. They routinely claim that breakthroughs made in modern medicine, science and technology in the last 100 years were known to people living in ancient India.
In 2014, Narendra Modi became the first prime minister to publicly back the Vedic age theory of the Hindu right.
While speaking at a function in Mumbai, Modi said that ancient Indians knew about genetic science and plastic surgery, citing examples of the warrior Karna from the epic Mahabharata and Ganesha, the Hindu god who has the head of an elephant.
"We worship Ganeshji, there must have been a plastic surgeon in that era who put an elephant's head on a human body, plastic surgery must have started then," he said.
Modi has spoken of Ganesha's head and other imagined achievements of ancient India when he was chief minister of Gujarat. In fact, in the run up to the general election in 2014, Modi habitually distorted history, claiming that Biharis defeated Alexander the Great and that Takshashila was in Bihar (it is in Pakistan).
Last week, Yogi Adityanath said, "Distorting history is no lesser crime than sedition."
Is the UP chief minister accusing his colleagues and his boss of sedition?

India: BJP’s Bihar chief says 'Fingers, hands raised against PM Modi will be broken, chopped off' | Indian Express

BJP’s Bihar chief: Fingers, hands raised against PM Modi will be broken, chopped off

Ujiyarpur Nityanand Rai added that his was an off-the-cuff statement and was not meant for individuals or Opposition parties.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Updated: November 21, 2017


India: Rajasthan which is taking giant strides backward - Editorial, Indian Express

The Indian Express

Infinite regression

History is irrelevant to Padmavati, a fictional feature about an ahistorical figure. But that is an irrelevant fact in Raje’s Rajasthan which is taking giant strides backward when it comes to matters involving freedom of expression.

By: Editorials | Published:November 20, 2017 12:16 am
The wares offered by the Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair in Jaipur would be merely disheartening, for its organisers have a right to express their beliefs, no matter how regressive.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has written to Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani to demand “necessary changes” in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavati. And to lecture the Central Board of Film Certification about the need to canvass the opinions of “famous historians” and the overlords of hurt sentiments, “members of the aggrieved community”. History is irrelevant to Padmavati, a fictional feature about a historical figure. But that is an irrelevant fact in Raje’s Rajasthan which is taking giant strides backward when it comes to matters involving freedom of expression.
A ruling party committed to a growth agenda usually promotes trade fairs to attract investment. But the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan is, instead, promoting a Hindu fair where visitors can get a crash course on alleged Christian conspiracies and “love jihad”, a communally-charged campaign of innuendo and hate, sign up for a crusade to elevate the Indian cow to the status of the “national mother” while denouncing its Jersey cousin as a source of disease and decadence, or join caste organisations.
The wares offered by the Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair in Jaipur would be merely disheartening, for its organisers have a right to express their beliefs, no matter how regressive. But they take on a darker hue when students of schools in the state capital are press-ganged into attending, and exposed to fundamentalist propaganda by governmental fiat. For long, Raje was regarded as a modern face of the BJP, a prominent regional leader in a party which appeared to have left behind archaic battles over perceived historical wrongs and earned a sweeping national mandate by committing itself to the future, a chief minister of an important state in an India defined by growth and opportunity.
But under her stewardship, regressive politics has become commonplace in Rajasthan. Cultural events in the state routinely face threats of violence from groups with over-delicate sentiments. Schools have become a special focus, and textbooks are being rewritten to allow Maharana Pratap to win the battle of Haldighati. An education ministry journal for schoolteachers recently prescribed sweeping floors, grinding corn and filling pitchers as exercises appropriate for women. While her government repeatedly shows its commitment to reversing progress, Raje maintains a stoic silence. She spoke out last week, but only to advocate the censoring of Padmavati.
Assessments by credit ratings agencies are not the only indices by which the fitness of nations and leaders is gauged. The social and political interventions of government are also evaluated, for no state or country can grow in the shadow of fragile sentiments and fear of violence. Pandering to the sentiments of the mob may be politically expedient, but it diminishes the image of the state and its leadership. And in the future, there will be other mobs, with other hurts. Once the door to appeasement is opened, it cannot be closed.

November 20, 2017

India: Row over the film Padmavati - A tweet by Ramachandra Guha

Tipu Sultan: Diverse Narratives | Ram Puniyani

From couple of years around 10th November, BJP has been undertaking the smearing campaign against Tipu Sultan. Incidentally from last 3 years Government of Karnataka has been celebrating the anniversary of Tipu. As such he is the only King, who laid down his life while fighting against the British. This year around as November 10 approached, Mr. Anantkumar, the Union Minister and a major BJP leader from Karnataka, turned down the invitation of Karnataka Government to be part of the Tipu anniversary celebration. His argument was that Tipu was a mass murderer, wretched fanatic and rapist. At places there were protests organized by BJP.

Certain sections of the society also consider him a tyrant who engaged in forced conversions. He is also accused of promoting Persian at the cost of Kannada. It is also alleged that his letters to his Generals, claimed to be in British possession now, show that he believed that kafirs should be decimated. There is no dearth of such periodic controversies being raked up around his name. What is being propagated on the basis of some flimsy sources is that he destroyed hundreds of temples and killed thousands of Brahmins!

Incidentally just a month ago, Ramnath Kovind, the President of India, who has a RSS background, was on a different trip. He praised Tipu by saying that “Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare.” Many BJP spokespersons, uncomfortable with this statement, undermined the President by saying that false inputs were provided to Rashtrapati Bhavan by Karnataka Government.

As such there are diverse attitude towards Tipu from within RSS-BJP stable itself. In 2010, B.S. Yeddyyurappa, the BJP leader adorned Tipu’s headgear and held a mock sword, on the eve of elections. In 1970s RSS had published a book praising Tipu, calling him patriotic, this book was part of Bharat Bharati series.

On the other side noted Kannada playwright Girish Karnad is all praise for Tipu to the extent that he supported the demand to name Bangaluru airport in his name. Karnad has also been stating that had Tipu been Hindu, he would have been accorded the same status in Karnataka, which Shivaji has in Maharashtra.

One recalls that Tipu has been made popular through the 60 episode serial based on Bhagwan Gidwani’s script, the ‘Sword of Tipu Sultan’, which also focuses on the fight of Tipu against East India Company. Tipu had corresponded with the Marathas and Nizam of Hyderabad to dissociate themselves from the British forces, the intrusion of which he saw particularly harmful for this region. This policy of his led to various battles against British. It was in the fourth Anglo Mysore war of 1799 battle that he lost his life. He has been immortalized in the popular memory of Karnataka people through folk songs. This is very much akin to iconization of Shivaji in popular memory in Maharashtra.

Why did Tipu use Persian as the Court language? It is important to recognize that Persian was the court language in the sub-continent at that time. Even Shivaji of Maharashtra was using Persian in his correspondence and had had Maulana Hyder Ali as his Chief Secretary, for doing this. Tipu was not a religious fanatic as he is being projected by them today. Tipu’s policies were not driven by religion. In fact, in his letter to Shankaracharya of Kamkoti Peetham, he refers to the Acharya as Jagatguru (World Teacher). He also donated rich offerings to his shrine.

When the Maratha army of Patwardhan plundered the Sringeri monastery, Tipu Sultan respectfully restored the monastery to its glory. During his reign, ten-day Dushehara celebrations were an integral part of the social life of Mysore. Sarfaraz Shaikh in his book ‘Sultan-E-Khudad’ has reproduced the ‘Manifesto of Tipu Sultan’. In it, he declares that he would not discriminate on religious grounds and would protect his empire until his last breath.

There is a charge that he persecuted certain communities. It is true. The reason for this persecution was purely political not religious. About these persecutions historian Kate Brittlebank comments, “This was not a religious policy but one of chastisement”. The communities targeted by him were seen as disloyal to the state. The communities he targeted did not just belong to Hindu stream he also acted against some Muslim communities like the Mahdavis. The reason was that these communities were in support of British and were employed as horsemen in the East India Company’s armies. Another historian Susan Bayly says that his attacking Hindus and Christians outside his state is to be seen on political grounds as he at the same time had developed close relations with these communities within Mysore.

As such the alleged letters in possession of British, where he is supposed to have talked of killing Kafirs and converting them, needs to be seen rationally, their genuineness apart. We have to see the person in his totality. When he has Purnaiyya, a Hindu Brahmin, as his Chief Advisor, when he is all respectful to Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamkotipeetham, it is unlikely that he could have been on a murderous spree of Hindus. British have been harsh against Tipu on purpose as he was the one to oppose the advance of British in India and wrote to Marathas and Nizam that we should settle things among ourselves and keep British out. Due to this he was singled out by British; who vehemently demonized their opponents. There is a need to have a balanced picture of this warrior king, who took on the might of British and could foresee that British are a different power, different cup of tea; so to say, to be shunned at all the cost. In that sense he is the pioneer in Anti British resistance on this soil.

The vacillations of communalists, from praising him to presenting him as an evil character are motivated attempts to uphold their communal ideology, nothing else!

India: Directive by the Rajasthan Minister for Primary & Secondary Education to send Government and private school students to attend a 5 day ‘Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair’ in Jaipur

Rajasthan government sends school students to Jaipur fair, with lessons on ‘love jihad’

Jaipur’s Additional District Education Officer Deepak Shukla confirmed that government and private schools in Jaipur have been asked to “help” organisers of the fair by getting students to attend it, and said it was upon the directions of Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vasudev Devnani.

Written by Mohammad Hamza Khan | Jaipur | Updated: November 19


Disturbing story on the mysterious death of the judge who was presiding over Sohrabuddin trial | The Caravan

The Caravan

A Family Breaks Its Silence: Shocking Details Emerge in Death of Judge Presiding Over Sohrabuddin Trial
By Niranjan Takle | 20 November 2017

On 1 December 2014, Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the judge presiding over the Sohrabuddin trial in the CBI special court in Mumbai, died in Nagpur.

On the morning of 1 December 2014, the family of 48-year-old Justice Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the judge presiding over the Central Bureau of Investigation special court in Mumbai, was informed that he had died in Nagpur, where he had travelled for a colleague’s daughter’s wedding. Loya had been hearing one of the most high-profile cases in the country, involving the allegedly staged encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in 2005. The prime accused in the case was Amit Shah—Gujarat’s minister of state for home at the time of Sohrabuddin’s killing, and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national president at the time of Loya’s death. The media reported that the judge had died of a heart attack.

Loya’s family did not speak to the media after his death. But in November 2016, Loya’s niece, Nupur Balaprasad Biyani, approached me while I was visiting Pune to say she had concerns about the circumstances surrounding her uncle’s death. Following this, over several meetings between November 2016 and November 2017, I spoke to her mother, Anuradha Biyani, who is Loya’s sister and a medical doctor in government service; another of Loya’s sisters, Sarita Mandhane; and Loya’s father, Harkishan. I also tracked down and spoke to government servants in Nagpur who witnessed the procedures followed with regard to the judge’s body after his death, including the post-mortem.

From these accounts, deeply disturbing questions emerged about Loya’s death: questions about inconsistencies in the reported account of the death; about the procedures followed after his death; and about the condition of the judge’s body when it was handed over to the family. Though the family asked for an inquiry commission to probe Loya’s death, none was ever set up.


At 11 pm on 30 November 2014, from Nagpur, Loya phoned his wife, Sharmila, using his mobile phone. Over around 40 minutes, he described to her his busy schedule through the day. Loya was in Nagpur to attend the wedding of the daughter of a fellow judge, Sapna Joshi. Initially he had not intended to go, but two of his fellow judges had insisted that he accompany them. Loya told his wife that he had attended the wedding, and later attended a reception. He also enquired about his son, Anuj. He said that he was staying at Ravi Bhavan, a government guest house for VIPs in Nagpur’s Civil Lines locality, along with the judges he had accompanied to Nagpur.

It was the last call that Loya is known to have made, and the last conversation that he is known to have had. His family received the news of his death early the next morning.

“His wife in Mumbai, myself in Latur city and my daughters in Dhule, Jalgaon and Aurangabad received calls,” early on the morning of 1 December 2014, Harkishan Loya, the judge’s father, told me when we first met, in November 2016, in his native village of Gategaon, near Latur city. They were informed “that Brij passed away in the night, that his post-mortem was over and his body had been sent to our ancestral home in Gategaon, in Latur district,” he added. “I felt like an earthquake had shattered my life.”

The family was told that Loya had died of a cardiac arrest. “We were told that he had chest pain, and so was taken to Dande Hospital, a private hospital in Nagpur, by auto rickshaw, where some medication was provided,” Harkishan said. Biyani, Loya’s sister, described Dande Hospital as “an obscure place,” and said that she “later learnt that the ECG”—the electrocardiography unit at the facility—“was not working.” Later, Harkishan said, Loya “was shifted to Meditrina hospital”—another private hospital in the city—“where he was declared dead on arrival.”

The Sohrabuddin case was the only one that Loya was hearing at the time of his death, and was one of the most carefully watched cases then underway in the country. In 2012, the Supreme Court had ordered that the trial in the case be shifted from Gujarat to Maharashtra, stating that it was “convinced that in order to preserve the integrity of the trial it is necessary to shift it outside the State.” The Supreme Court had also ordered that the trial be heard by the same judge from start to finish. But, in violation of this order, JT Utpat, the judge who first heard the trial, was transferred from the CBI special court in mid 2014, and replaced by Loya.

On 6 June 2014, Utpat had reprimanded Amit Shah for seeking exemption from appearing in court. After Shah failed to appear on the next date, 20 June, Utpat fixed a hearing for 26 June. The judge was transferred on 25 June. On 31 October 2014, Loya, who had allowed Shah the exemption, asked why Shah had failed to appear in court despite being in Mumbai on that date. He set the next date of hearing for 15 December.

Loya’s death on 1 December was reported only in a few routine news articles the next day, and did not attract significant media attention. The Indian Express, while reporting that Loya had “died of a heart attack” noted, “Sources close to him said that Loya had sound medical history.” The media attention picked up briefly on 3 December, when MPs of the Trinamool Congress staged a protest outside the parliament, where the winter session was under way, to demand an inquiry into Loya’s death. The next day, Sohrabuddin’s brother, Rubabuddin, wrote a letter to the CBI, expressing his shock at Loya’s death.

Nothing came of the MPs’ protests, or Rubabuddin’s letter. No follow-up stories appeared on the circumstances surrounding Loya’s death.

Over numerous conversations with Loya’s family members, I pieced together a chilling description of what Loya went through while presiding over the Sohrabuddin trial, and of what happened following his death. Biyani also gave me copies of a diary she said she maintains regularly, which included entries from the days preceding and following her brother’s death. In these, she noted many aspects of the incident that disturbed her. I also reached out to Loya’s wife and son, but they declined to speak, saying that they feared for their lives.

Biyani, who is based in Dhule, told me that she received a call on the morning of 1 December 2014 from someone identifying himself as a judge named Barde, who told her to travel to Gategaon, some 30 kilometres from Latur, where Loya’s body was sent. The same caller also informed Biyani and other members of the family that a post-mortem had been conducted on the body, and that the cause of death was a heart attack.

Loya’s father normally resides in Gategaon, but was in Latur at the time, at the house of one of his daughters. He, too, received a phone call, telling him his son’s body would be moved to Gategaon. “Ishwar Baheti, an RSS worker, had informed father that he would arrange for the body to reach Gategaon,” Biyani told me. “Nobody knows why, how and when he came to know about the death of Brij Loya.”

Sarita Mandhane, another of Loya’s sisters, who runs a tuition centre in Aurangabad and was visiting Latur at the time, told me that she received a call from Barde at around 5 am, informing her that Loya had died. “He said that Brij has passed away in Nagpur and asked us to rush to Nagpur,” she said. She set out to pick up her nephew from a hospital in Latur where he had earlier been admitted, but “just as we were leaving the hospital, this person, Ishwar Baheti, came there. I still don’t know how he came to know that we were at Sarda Hospital.” According to Mandhane, Baheti said that he had been talking through the night with people in Nagpur, and insisted that there was no point in going to Nagpur since the body was being sent to Gategaon from there in an ambulance. “He took us to his house, saying that he will coordinate everything,” she said. (Questions that I sent to Baheti were still unanswered at the time this story was published.)

It was night by the time Biyani reached Gategaon—the other sisters were already at the ancestral home by then. The body was delivered at around 11.30 pm, after Biyani’s arrival, according to an entry in her diary. To the family’s shock, none of Loya’s colleagues had accompanied his body on the journey from Nagpur. The only person accompanying the body was the ambulance driver. “It was shocking,” Biyani said. “The two judges who had insisted that he travel to Nagpur for the marriage had not accompanied him. Mr Barde, who informed the family of his death and his post-mortem, had not accompanied him. This question haunts me: why was his body not accompanied by anyone?” One of her diary entries reads, “He was a CBI court judge, he was supposed to have security and he deserved to be properly accompanied.”

Loya’s wife, Sharmila, and his daughter and son, Apurva and Anuj, travelled to Gategaon from Mumbai, accompanied by a few judges. One of them “was constantly telling Anuj and the others not to speak to anybody,” Biyani told me. “Anuj was of course sad and scared, but he maintained his poise and kept supporting his mother.”

Biyani recounted that when she saw the body, she felt that something was amiss. “There were bloodstains on the neck at the back of the shirt,” she told me. She added that his “spectacles were below the neck.” Mandhane told me that Loya’s spectacles were “stuck under his body.”

A diary entry by Biyani from the time reads, “There was blood on his collar. His belt was twisted in the opposite direction, and the pant clip is broken. Even my uncle feels that this is suspicious.” Harkishan told me, “There were bloodstains on the clothes.” Mandhane said that she, too, saw “blood on the neck.” She said that “there was blood and an injury on his head … on the back side,” and that “his shirt had blood spots.” Harkishan said, “His shirt had blood on it from his left shoulder to his waist.”

But in the post-mortem report, issued by the Government Medical College Hospital in Nagpur, under a category described as “Condition of the clothes—whether wet with water, stained with blood or soiled with vomit or foecal matter,” a handwritten entry reads, simply, “Dry.”

Biyani found the state of the body suspicious because, as a doctor, “I know that blood does not come out during PM”—post-mortem—“since the heart and lungs don’t function.” She said that she demanded a second post-mortem, but that Loya’s gathered friends and colleagues “discouraged us, telling us not to complicate the issue more.”

The family was tense and scared, but was forced to carry out Loya’s funeral, Harkishan said.

Legal experts suggest that if Loya’s death was deemed suspicious—the fact that a post-mortem was ordered suggests that it was—a panchnama should have been prepared, and a medico-legal case should have been filed. “As per legal procedure, the police department is expected to collect and seal all the personal belongings of the deceased, list them all in a panchnama and hand them over to the family as they are,” Asim Sarode, a senior Pune-based lawyer, told me. Biyani said the family was not given any copy of a panchnama.

Loya’s mobile phone was returned to the family, but, Biyani said, it was returned by Baheti, and not by the police. “We got his mobile on the third or fourth day,” she said. “I had asked for it immediately. It had information about his calls and all that happened. We would have known about it if we got it. And the SMSes. Just one or two days before this news, a message had come which said, ‘Sir, stay safe from these people.’ That SMS was on the phone. Everything was deleted from it.”

Biyani had numerous questions about the events of the night of Loya’s death and the following morning. Among them was that of how and why Loya had been taken to hospital in an auto rickshaw, when the auto stand nearest to Ravi Bhavan is around two kilometres away from it. “There is no auto rickshaw stand near Ravi Bhavan, and people do not get auto rickshaws near Ravi Bhavan even during the day,” Biyani said. “How did the men accompanying him manage to get an auto rickshaw at midnight?”

Other questions, too, remain unanswered. Why was the family not informed when Loya was taken to hospital? Why were they not informed as soon as he died? Why were they not asked for approval of a post-mortem, or informed that one was to be performed, before the procedure was carried out? Who recommended the post-mortem, and why? What was suspicious about Loya’s death to cause a post-mortem to be recommended? What medication was administered to him at Dande Hospital? Was there not a single vehicle in Ravi Bhavan—which regularly hosts VIPs, including ministers, IAS and IPS officers and judges—available to ferry Loya to hospital? The winter session of the Maharashtra state assembly was to begin in Nagpur on 7 December, and hundreds of officials usually arrive in the city well in advance of assembly sessions for the preparations. Who were the other VIPs staying in Ravi Bhavan on 30 November and 1 December? “These all are very valid questions,” Sarode, the lawyer, said. “Why was the report of the medication administered at Dande hospital not given to the family? Will the answers to these questions create problems for someone?”

Questions such as these “still keep bothering the family, friends and relatives,” Biyani said.

It added to their confusion that the judges who had insisted that Loya travel to Nagpur did not visit the family for “one or one and a half months” after his death, she said. It was only then that the family heard their account of Loya’s last hours. According to Biyani, the two men told the family that Loya experienced chest pain at around 12.30 am, that they then took him to Dande Hospital in an auto rickshaw, and that there, “he climbed the stairs himself and some medication was administered. He was taken to Meditrina hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.”

Even after this, many questions were left unanswered. “We did try to get the details of the treatment administered in Dande Hospital, but the doctors and the staff there simply refused to divulge any details,” Biyani said.

I accessed the report of Loya’s post-mortem, conducted at the Government Medical College Hospital in Nagpur. The document raises several questions of its own.

Every page of the post-mortem report is signed by the senior police inspector of Sadar police station, Nagpur, and by someone who signed with the phrase “maiyatacha chulatbhau”—or the paternal cousin brother of the deceased. This latter person is supposed to have received the body after the post-mortem examination. “I do not have any brother or paternal cousin brother in Nagpur,” Loya’s father said. “Who signed on the report is another unanswered question.”

Further, the report states that the corpse was sent from Meditrina Hospital to the Government Medical College Hospital by the Sitabardi police station, Nagpur, and that it was brought in by a police constable named Pankaj, of Sitabardi police station, whose badge number is 6238. It notes that the body was brought in at 10.50 am on 1 December 2014, that the post-mortem began at 10.55 am, and that it was over at 11.55 am.

The report also noted that, as per the police, Loya “died on 1/12/14 at 0615 hours” after experiencing “chest pains at 0400 am.” It stated, “He was brought to Dande hospital first and then shifted to Meditrina hospital where he was declared to be in dead condition.”

The time of death cited in the report—6.15 am—appears incongruous, since, according to Loya’s family members, they began receiving calls about his death from 5 am onwards. Further, during my investigation, two sources in Nagpur’s Government Medical College and Sitabardi police station told me they had been informed of Loya’s death by midnight, and had personally seen the dead body during the night. They also said that the post-mortem was done shortly after midnight. Apart from the calls that the family received, the sources’ accounts also raise serious questions about the post-mortem report’s claim that the time of death was 6.15 am.

The source at the medical college, who was privy to the post-mortem examination, also told me that he knew that there had been instructions from superiors to “cut up the body as if the PM was done and stitch it up.”

The report mentions “coronary artery insufficiency” as the probable cause of death. According to the renowned Mumbai-based cardiologist Hasmukh Ravat, “Usually old age, family history, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes are the causes for such coronary artery insufficiency.” Biyani pointed out that none of these were applicable to her brother. “Brij was 48,” she said. “Our parents are 85 and 80 years old, and are healthy with no cardiac history. He was always a teetotaller, played table tennis for two hours a day for years, had no diabetes or blood pressure.”

Biyani told me that she found the official medical explanation for her brother’s death hard to believe. “I am a doctor myself, and Brij used to consult me even for minor complaints such as acidity or cough,” she said. “He had no cardiac history and no one from our family has it.”

Niranjan Takle is an electronics engineer by training and a journalist by choice. He has worked for CNN-IBN and The Week, among other organisations.