Solving a Problem of State Tyranny: Open Letter to Forest Service Officer Agni Mitra (who seems to have filled himself with hatred towards me for no good reason)

Shri Agni Mitra, Indian Forest Service

cc: 

Smt Natarajan

Dr Harsh Vardhan

Shri Ritesh Singh

Smt Anuradha Singh

Shri Manmohan Singh Negi

Hello Mr Mitra,

Would you like to come for a cup of tea and an informal chat this Rabindra Jayanti, bringing any questions and also your colleague Forest Ranger MK Deb?  The invitation is my first response to your summons to attend an interrogation by you on 24 May at Nizam Palace.

My letter is public because the issues are important, and because this is the Internet age and everyone can and should see what transpires.  Hence the current Minister, a previous Minister, and current senior Forest officials are also tagged by email, and the whole document is public for the world to see, at Twitter too.

IMG-20190501-WA0003

Regarding our family’s 5 items of old African ivory held since the late 1970s that you forcibly seized from my home on 2 May 2019, you have been threatening me with arrest and jail for weeks now, you called me on the phone a “confessed criminal” and declared how the “law will take its course” etc.

The fact actually is I am completely innocent!

You are apparently a stellar young officer who went to Narendrapur and Presidency, both of which I’ve visited, and indeed whose eminent alumni include Bibek Debroy, Mr Modi’s adviser, who started with me at Cambridge in 1976 under the same Professor Hahn, and who visited our then home in Behala about 1979/80 for luncheon once just about when these ivory items had come to us.  Your colleague Forest Ranger Deb spoke highly of you and did not like me disparaging you while the forcible search and seizure was taking place at my home. Hence my invitation to tea and a chat today.

For myself, my experience has been that you have been acting tyrannically and unconstitutionally, misunderstanding and misusing the law you keep quoting against me.  Definitely you have apparently 0 law degree, not even an LLB, but you and others in your position in the Forest Service have been given vast prosecutorial powers, and command of large Central Armed Police forces.

Abuse of power and breach of Constitutional rights of individual citizens is inevitable.

When a stellar Forest Officer misuses the law tyrannically against Subroto Roy, Economist, who had Narendra Modi in his Deendayal Upadhyay audience in Washington in October 1984, and who six years later sparked with Rajiv Gandhi the 1991 reform, I dread to think what India’s villagers and forest dwellers may have been facing in similar situations.

So we are in a War or Peace situation.  Finding a modus vivendi by diplomacy is always better than bruising each other fighting.  Hence my invitation to tea to you and Ranger Deb along with any questions both of you may have informally.

From my side, if you accept my invitation I will show you my specific legal case against you!

Namely, the warrantless search & seizure that you love so much to quote requires in its preface

**reasonable grounds for believing that any person has committed an offence against this Act**.

Now who are such offenders against this Act?  Your own “Wildlife Crime Control Bureau” document of 2013 itself states

“wildlife offenders can be divided into

(a) poachers or hunters who kill or capture wild animals or collect wild plants

(b) persons buying hunted/captured animals or collected plants for own consumption or trade”

I myself had declared my mother’s ivory to you! Neither of us ever a “poacher/hunter/buyer”!

You had no “reasonable grounds” for ordering your forcible warrantless search and seizure at our home.  

Neither my late mother nor I qualify as prima facie “wildlife offenders” by your own Government definition!

Since you have behaved lacking such “reasonable grounds” for warrantless search and seizure from our home, may I not pray to a Court that this is a case of wrongful seizure under Article 53?

“53. Punishment for wrongful seizure. – If any person, exercising powers under this Act, vexatiously and unnecessarily seizes the property of any other person on the pretence of seizing it for the reasons mentioned in sec. 50, he shall, on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.”

The date of my email 13 March 2019 was the first date I came to know, from a newspaper report, of existence of a Government entity named “Wildlife Crime Control Bureau”.  My email fully declared our African ivory as a gift from decades past, admitted our failure to register these for ignorance or legal obscurity over the years, sought information how to proceed towards this now.

I said:

“Respected Sir,

This will inform you our family has possessed legal African ivory for forty years given to us by a family member, Ambassador Henri Lobert of the Belgian diplomatic service about 1978 or 1979.  Amb Lobert was the husband of my late sister Sucheta who died in 1990 at age 42 from breast cancer. The couple had no children.  The last known address of Amb Lobert was 33 Avenue Livingstone, Brussells.  He will be retired now at age 75+.  A photo of him, second from right in the front row, from about 1978/79 with President Kaunda of Zambia (third from right front row) is enclosed.  The ivory was gifted at that time by Amb Lobert to his mother in law, my late mother Smt Purnima Roy (1925:2016), wife of my late father Ambassador MK Roy Indian Foreign Service  (1915:2012) and is now owned by me as a gift from my mother before her passing two years ago.  The main item is a large tusk, a photo of which is enclosed.  It is an ornamental piece for hanging on a wall.  In addition there are three small ivory sculptures also from Africa in a glass cupboard, also from Amb Lobert in the late 1970s.   

My late parents did not know anything about the need for registration of legal ivory items, and were not in any position to follow up.  I will be grateful to you if you or your staff could kindly inform me how this may be done by myself.  Thanking you”

This is the first information you ever received about our five items of old African ivory (four are mentioned because one had been forgotten inside a glass cupboard) that we have lawfully had in our home for forty years, which you wrongfully seized by brute force on 2 May 2019.

To be a criminal one has to have done something illegal and with criminal intent.  Neither my late mother nor I after her death did anything criminal with the African ivory she had been gifted by her Belgian diplomat son-in-law Henri Lobert some 40 years ago.

At some point or perhaps points in time, maybe 30 years ago — the Government of India does not know itself and is certainly unable to tell anyone now — people in India holding “animal products” were required to get Government certifications.

But the certification procedure was then, and remains today, totally obscure even to the Government, to lawyers, to law enforcement authorities, to everyone, except perhaps chosen “Dealers”, who knows?

Into that breach of Government-created obscurity stepped the natural abuse of power… So a class of normal law abiding citizens became criminals for holding “animal products” without due certification, except very few ordinary people knew what that due certification was or how it was to be gotten.

By the Government’s arbitrary law making — reversing the burden of proof so the holder of eg ivory has to prove he/she was not holding it criminally — people started to live in fear of blackmail or sudden “search and seizure” by officials…

I had not returned permanently to India, and advised my elderly parents to get our African ivory certified but they remained clueless how to do so and I was unable to find out as well.

It was only during the 2 May 2019 home invasion by the Government officials sent by you that I found out vaguely what the procedure might have been!

Besides my sister died of breast cancer in 1990 age 42 and my parents were in shock ever since and perhaps unwilling to think about the ivory she and her husband had brought them as gifts years earlier.

My mother died in 2016 the lawful owner of African ivory she had received as a gift in the late 1970s which she had admittedly failed to get certified by the Government of India when the Government had demanded it, because she and my father had remained clueless what was required of them — and the Government to this day cannot say what that was and when! 

The African ivory items came to my possession. On 13.3.2019 I chanced upon a news report which mentioned your “Wildlife Crime Control Bureau”, and felt that seemed the place to start, and I declared our ivory to you requesting information how to proceed further for certification…

Instead your Stasi-like tyranny took over at once!  And I have coined the hashtag  #IndiasStasi at Twitter!  You denounced me as a “criminal who had confessed”, advised I get a lawyer, and promised sudden warrantless search of my home!

That sudden warrantless search happened on 2 May 2019, with you sending some 8 or 10 people to my home including three Central Armed Police out of uniform…

My local police station had been informed by me but did not respond… My lawyers advised I be passive which I agreed was wise…

It was during the 3 or 4 hour home invasion by these officials that I asked them what the certification process was, and finally found that out for the first time in thirty years!

You confiscated our African ivory of forty years because we obviously did not have the papers we had not known over thirty years how to get!

I was made to sign a form (the “Seizure List”) under duress in my own home.

I agreed I would sign if I was allowed to write my comment “illegal seizure’”, and state “Wrongful, Vexatious, Unnecessary Seizure of Property violating Article 53 Wildlife Protection Act 1972”.

No, your officials said, there is no room for any comment on the form, only your signature. I refused.  You threatened “If you don’t sign the form, we will take ‘punitive action’… ie arrest and jail me immediately was the implication, and I was urged to sign especially by the “Central Armed Police” officials out of uniform. Classic Stasi techniques in my own home, thought I… !

Now after the sudden home invasion on 2 May 2019, I was warned by legal friends to expect to be arrested & jailed… Your letter summoning me to interrogation on 24 May at least indicates there is no sudden arbitrary arrest being threatened until then.

But someone tell me kindly at what point did my mother become a criminal for holding her ivory without new papers the Government demanded (no one knows when or how) and then myself? Arresting and jailing me for trying to declare gifted and inherited African ivory from the late 1970s at the first opportunity we knew how to?  Did my 13.3.2019 email make me a criminal confessing a crime, as you  #IndiasStasi have claimed? Of course not. Was my mother a criminal at the time she died or any time earlier for not getting her African ivory certified in some obscure way at some uncertain time or times in years past stated by the Government somewhere, when the Government today is completely unable to specify what or when the procedure was?  Hardly.

The Government’s law mentions “Dealers” and does not even seem to mention ordinary citizens owning “animal products” as my mother had done!

“Kindly keep our family property unlawfully seized by you yesterday safe and secure. Kindly be good enough to send me by email or courier a digital copy of the complete videograph records taken by two Central Armed Police personnel in your team yesterday during my home invasion.”

Oh yes two of your Central Armed Police officers breached my Fundamental Right to Privacy for about the whole time they were here by videographing inside my home for two or three hours.

Please come to tea.  I also do not know what the “Compounding” clauses of payment of a fine or penalty refer to, and you can clarify that.  I do not dispute that we have been (slightly) negligent in failing to get our lawful African ivory registered over the decades. More specifically perhaps, our family’s responsibility is 4%,  the Government of India’s responsibility is 96%!

The Wildlife law is bad in its tyrannical implementation by Forest Officers against innocent masses of India, it is prima facie ultra vires of the Constitution and Criminal Procedure.  It is up to you yourselves in the Government to correct it at once.

And yes, please return our old African ivory at once, and offer due compensation for the harassment caused.

Or if you prefer not to accept my invitation to tea, please recuse yourself from this investigation on grounds of your proven bias against me, and I will be happy to cooperate with your colleagues to establish there has been 0 “Wildlife Crime’ or any other crime by us.

Thank you.

Subroto Roy 9 May 2019

 

3 May 2019

How to get harassed and even arrested & jailed by India’s Stasi “Forest Officials” without being criminal: Subroto Roy vs Union of India, Harsha Vardhan, Agni Mitra et al (DRAFT)

Subroto Roy, 3 May 2019

To be a criminal you have to have done something illegal and with criminal intent…
The Government of India cannot possibly prove even a prima facie case that either my late mother or I after her death did anything criminal with the African ivory she had been gifted by her Belgian diplomat son-in-law some 40 years ago.
At some point or perhaps points in time, maybe 30 years ago — the Government of India does not know itself and is certainly unable to tell anyone now — people in India holding “animal products” were required to get Government certifications.
But the certification procedure was then, and remains today, totally obscure even to the Government, to lawyers, to law enforcement authorities, to everyone, except perhaps chosen “Dealers”, who knows?
Into that breach of Government-created obscurity stepped the natural abuse of power…
So a class of normal law abiding citizens became criminals for holding “animal products” without due certification, except very few ordinary people knew what that due certification was or how it was to be gotten.
By the Government’s arbitrary law making — reversing the burden of proof so the holder of eg ivory had to prove he/she was not holding it criminally — people started to live in fear of blackmail or sudden “search and seizure” by officials…
I had not returned permanently to India, and advised my elderly parents to get our African ivory certified but they remained clueless how to do so and I was unable to find out as well. (Finally yesterday 2 May 2019 during the home invasion by Government officials I found out from the invading officials!).
Besides, my sister who had been a Belgian diplomat died of breast cancer in 1990 age 42 and my parents were in shock ever since and perhaps unwilling to think about the ivory she and her husband had brought them as gifts years earlier.
My mother died in 2016 the lawful owner of African ivory she had received as a gift in the late 1970s which she had admittedly failed to get certified by the Government of India when the Government had demanded it, because she and my father had remained clueless what was required of them — and the Government to this day cannot say what that was and when!
The African ivory items came to my possession…
On 13.3.2019 I chanced upon a Government of India email id and said Hey that seems the place to start, and I declared our ivory to them requesting information how to proceed further for certification…
Instead a Stasi-like tyranny took over at once!
The addressee of my email, a bright clearly ambitious Forest officer apparently bereft of knowledge of Constitutional law, denounced me as a “criminal who had confessed”, advised I get a lawyer, and promised sudden warrantless search of my home!
That sudden warrantless search happened yesterday 2 May 2019, with this Forest official sending some 8 or 10 people to my home including three Central Armed Police out of uniform…

My local police station had been informed by me but did not respond…

My lawyers advised I be passive which I agreed was wise…

It was during the 3 or 4 hour home invasion by these officials that I asked them what the certification process was, and finally found that out for the first time in thirty years!

They confiscated our African ivory of forty years because we obviously did not have the papers we had not known over thirty years how to get!

I was made to sign a form (the “Seizure List”) under duress in my own home.

I agreed I would sign if I was allowed to write my comment “illegal seizure’”, and state “Wrongful, Vexatious, Unnecessary Seizure of Property violating Article 53 Wildlife Protection Act 1972”.

No, they said, there is no room for any comment on the form, only your signature.

I refused.  Then they threatened “If you don’t sign the form, we will take ‘punitive action’ and the man in charge indicated he would call “his boss” the Forest Officer who had started this tyranny in response to my 13.3.2019 email.  They would arrest and jail me immediately was the implication, and I was urged to sign especially by the “Central Armed Police” officials out of uniform.

Classic Stasi techniques in my own home, thought I… !

Now after the sudden home invasion by these Stasi-like people on 2 May 2019, I have been warned by legal friends to expect to be arrested & jailed…

But someone tell me kindly at what point did my mother become a criminal for holding her ivory without new papers the Government demanded (no one knows when or how) and then myself?

Arresting and jailing me for trying to declare gifted and inherited African ivory from the late 1970s at the first opportunity we knew how to?

Did my 13.3.2019 email make me a criminal confessing a crime, as the Stasi have claimed? Of course not.

Was my mother a criminal at the time she died or any time earlier for not getting her African ivory certified in some obscure way at some uncertain time or times in years past stated by the Government somewhere, when the Government today is completely unable to specify what or when the procedure was?

Hardly.

The Government’s law mentions “Dealers” and does not even seem to mention ordinary citizens owning “animal products” as my mother had done!

“Kindly keep our family property unlawfully seized by you yesterday safe and secure. Kindly be good enough to send me by email or courier a digital copy of the complete videograph records taken by two Central Armed Police personnel in your team yesterday during my home invasion.”

Oh yes the Stasi videographed using two of the Central Armed Police officers for about the whole time they were there. I have asked them for what they filmed and look forward to receiving them unedited.  Will I get it?  I doubt they will have the courage to send me what they filmed.

Finally I teased them a bit:

“Have you left any secret remote control wifi camera behind in my home? The Stasi techniques you employed would have done that after all. Do let me know by email if you have. Thanks.”

The idea occurred to me that given my passivity during the home invasion as advised by my lawyers, I could not possibly tell if they had planted a camera or a microphone somewhere without my knowledge. We have looked for it, so far, fortunately without success.

Now over to the Hon’ble Courts…!

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The 5-Minute Negative Feedback Loop 2011 Model of Kashmir’s Problemss

See also My Seventy-One Articles, Notes Etc on Kashmir, Pakistan, & of course, India (plus my undelivered Lahore lectures)

On the zenith and nadir of US-India relations

From Facebook:

Subroto Roy thinks the zenith of US-India relations (besides FDR pressing Churchill on Indian independence) was the landing of US military transports in Ladakh during the Communist Chinese aggression of 1962 thanks to JK Galbraith & JFK.  (The nadir was the Nixon-Kissinger support for Pakistani tyranny against Bangladesh in 1971.)


And then there was Alexander Dubček in the Prague Spring of 1968

From Facebook:

Subroto Roy recalls that long before Gorbachev and Walesa, there was in the Prague Spring a man named Dubček…. this is a photograph published in his “Hope Dies Last”
ManandtankWenceslas

Why has America’s “torture debate” yet to mention the obvious? Viz., sadism and racism.

“Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”
— from “Burnt Norton” by TS Eliot

Indeed humankind cannot bear very much reality! Why else, I wonder, has the “torture” debate not yet mentioned the obvious: sadism and racism? Did the perpetrators of torture experience delight or remorse or both from their activities? Delight during, remorse afterwards? Would they have experienced less delight and more remorse if the victims had not also elicited a race-feeling, a race-consciousness?  The victims after all were all “the other”, not one’s own.

One needs to be candid and not pussy-foot around if one wants to comprehend reality.

SR

On the general theory of expertise in democracy: reflections on what emerges from the American “torture memos” today

Twenty years ago, I wrote in Philosophy of Economics (Routledge, London & New York, 1989) quoting from Solzhenitsyn’s experience:

“….the received theory of economic policy… must be silent about the appropriate role of the expert not only under conditions of tyranny (Solzhenitsyn: “The prison doctor was the interrogator’s and executioner’s right-hand man. The beaten prisoner would come to on the floor only to hear the doctor’s voice: ‘You can continue, the pulse is normal’” ); but also where the duly elected government of an open and democratic society proceeded to do things patently wrong or tyrannical (the imprisonment of the Japanese Americans). Hence Popper’s “paradox of democracy” and “tyranny of the majority”..… A theory of economic policy which both assumes a free and open society and bases itself upon a moral scepticism cannot have anything to say ultimately about the objective reasons why a free and open society may be preferred to an unfree or closed society, or about the good or bad outcomes that may be produced by the working of democratic processes…”

Today’s Washington Post reports:

“When the CIA began what it called an “increased pressure phase” with captured terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida in the summer of 2002, its first step was to limit the detainee’s human contact to just two people. One was the CIA interrogator, the other a psychologist. During the extraordinary weeks that followed, it was the psychologist who apparently played the more critical role. According to newly released Justice Department documents, the psychologist provided ideas, practical advice and even legal justification for interrogation methods that would break Abu Zubaida, physically and mentally. Extreme sleep deprivation, waterboarding, the use of insects to provoke fear — all were deemed acceptable, in part because the psychologist said so. “No severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted,” a Justice Department lawyer said in a 2002 memo explaining why waterboarding, or simulated drowning, should not be considered torture. The role of health professionals as described in the documents has prompted a renewed outcry from ethicists who say the conduct of psychologists and supervising physicians violated basic standards of their professions. Their names are among the few details censored in the long-concealed Bush administration memos released Thursday, but the documents show a steady stream of psychologists, physicians and other health officials who both kept detainees alive and actively participated in designing the interrogation program and monitoring its implementation. Their presence also enabled the government to argue that the interrogations did not include torture. Most of the psychologists were contract employees of the CIA, according to intelligence officials familiar with the program. “The health professionals involved in the CIA program broke the law and shame the bedrock ethical traditions of medicine and psychology,” said Frank Donaghue, chief executive of Physicians for Human Rights, an international advocacy group made up of physicians opposed to torture. “All psychologists and physicians found to be involved in the torture of detainees must lose their license and never be allowed to practice again.” The CIA declined to comment yesterday on the role played by health professionals in the agency’s self-described “enhanced interrogation program,” which operated from 2002 to 2006 in various secret prisons overseas. “The fact remains that CIA’s detention and interrogation effort was authorized and approved by our government,” CIA Director Leon Panetta said Thursday in a statement to employees. The Obama administration and its top intelligence leaders have banned harsh interrogations while also strongly opposing investigations or penalties for employees who were following their government’s orders. The CIA dispatched personnel from its office of medical services to each secret prison and evaluated medical professionals involved in interrogations “to make sure they could stand up, psychologically handle it,” according to a former CIA official. The alleged actions of medical professionals in the secret prisons are viewed as particularly troubling by an array of groups, including the American Medical Association and the International Committee of the Red Cross. AMA policies state that physicians “must not be present when torture is used or threatened.” The guidelines allow doctors to treat detainees only “if doing so is in their [detainees’] best interest” and not merely to monitor their health “so that torture can begin or continue.” The American Psychological Association has condemned any participation by its members in interrogations involving torture, but critics of the organization faulted it for failing to censure members involved in harsh interrogations. The ICRC, which conducted the first independent interviews of CIA detainees in 2006, said the prisoners were told they would not be killed during interrogations, though one was warned that he would be brought to “the verge of death and back again,” according to a confidential ICRC report leaked to the New York Review of Books last month. “The interrogation process is contrary to international law and the participation of health personnel in such a process is contrary to international standards of medical ethics,” the ICRC report concluded….” (emphasis added)

Twenty-five years ago, the draft-manuscript that became the book Philosophy of Economics got me into much trouble in American academia. As I have said elsewhere, a gang of “inert game theorists”, similar to many (often unemployable ex-mathematicians) who had come to and still dominate what passes for academic economics in many American and European universities, did not like at all what I was saying. A handful of eminent senior economists – Frank Hahn, T W Schultz, Milton Friedman, James M Buchanan, Sidney Alexander – defended my work and but for their support over the decade 1979-1989, my book would not have seen light of day.  Eventually, I have had to battle over years in the US federal courts over it – only to find myself having to battle bribery of court officers and the suborning of perjury by government legal officers  too! (And speaking of government-paid psychologists, I was even required at one point by my corrupt opponent to undergo tests for having had the temerity of being in court at all! Fortunately for me that particular psychologist declined to participate in the nefariousness of his employer!).

I find all this poignant today as Philosophy of Economics may have, among other things, described the general theoretical problem that has been brought to light today.  I was delighted to hear from a friend in 1993 that my book had been prescribed for a course at Yale Law School and was strewn all over an alley in the bookshop.

Separately, I am also delighted to find that a person pioneering the current work is a daughter of our present PM. I have been sharply critical of Dr Singh’s economics and politics, but I have also said I have had high personal regard for him ever since 1973 when he, as a friend of my father’s, visited our then-home in Paris to advise me before I embarked on my study of economics. My salute to the ACLU’s work in this – may it be an example in defeating cases of State-tyranny in India too.

Subroto Roy,

Letter to Wei Jingsheng

Mr Wei Jingsheng,  Citizen of  China

Dear Sir,

I am delighted to know from news reports today that you are well and active.

This short note is merely to tell you that some 28 years ago, your name entered my doctoral thesis  submitted to the Cambridge University Faculty of Economics & Politics,  titled “On liberty & economic growth: preface to a philosophy for India”.

On page 23, the thesis said:

“We know such conversations should not be forcibly silenced, which is why it is wrong that Dr Sakharov is banished, or that Mr Wei Jingsheng is gaoled for a decade, or that Dr Tomin is brutally assaulted and not allowed to lecture on Aristotle.”

And again on page 104:

“A disciplined and united oligarchy can with careful planning maintain its rule indefinitely over an amorphous and anonymous citizenry.  The only thorns in its side will be men like Sakharov and Wei Jingsheng and Tomin whose courage is somehow signalled to the outside world and who thus become recognisable names.  But even these men can be exiled or gaoled or thrashed into silence, so extinguishing the small chance left of the the truth being told and the Leadership’s claim to unique wisdom being exposed for the sheer humbug it is.”

With my continuing admiration, I remain

Yours truly

Subroto Roy

Kolkata, India