[Reader-list] Translation, Guilt, Innocence and Two Cups of Coffee
shuddha at sarai.net
Fri Aug 31 20:02:03 IST 2007
On re-reading my post just after having hit send, I realized that there
were a few irritating proofing errors that I should have dealt with. My
apologies for the same. Attribute it, if you must to the need for
caffeine and the hole in my brain where a third, maybe a fourth cup of
coffee should have done its job.
So here are the errors, at least the ones I can find, with corrections.
1. The first error is in the second paragraph. The fragment of the
sentence that reads '.. during the POTA trial court proceedings in the
'13 December Case' should read instead - during the appellate
proceedings in the High Court in the '13 December Case',
This error is repeated once later, it occurred because the speed of
typing, especially in the early ante meridiem hours, generally lags
behind the speed of thought, and something that should have been at the
end of the sentence, or is a qualifier of something else, creeps into
the beginning of the sentence. Just thought I would clarify this, lest
it lead to any lethal and unforeseen error of translation. :)
2. The second anomaly, which may or may not be an error is my usage of
the two words 'ungrammatical English'. I think I meant to write
'grammatical English', but judgement on this is reserved, because I
often find myself acting as a traitor and a double agent straddling the
line of control over the disputed territory of the split infinitive.
3. The third error is an incomplete web citation for Basharat Peer's
article on reporting from Srinagar in Sarai Reader 04: Crisis/Media -
the complete citation is -
4. The fourth error is in the sentence in section 5 - 'Was this
Necessary'. The sentence is "This is what the High Court commented found
necessary to say in paragraph 346 of its ruling while discussing whether
or not it heard the words "yeh che zaroori". The word 'commented' is
I am sure there are other errors lurking around in this forest of words,
my apologies if you stumble upon them.
I hope we can go back to the ordinary, everyday life of the list soon, a
lot of interesting postings from Sarai Independent Fellows are standing
neglected because of the tornadoes that have hit the list of late, but I
am sure we will find ways of getting back to an even keel soon. I look
forward to lots of different writing on lots of different issues from
Shuddhabrata Sengupta wrote:
> Dear All,
> It is always interesting and worthwhile to participate in a discussion
> on questions of the interpretation and translation on language, and
> about how our notions of truth are stabilized or destabilized by the
> apparatus of recording. We learn a lot, especially when the issues at
> stake are as vital and significant as innocence and guilt. This is
> especially true when at the heart of the discussion lies an alleged
> offence which has resulted in the ultimate punishment of the death
> penalty being awarded, twice, and then rescinded, on grounds of lack of
> evidence. This task requires us to look at language, law, evidence,
> theories of mind, interpretative agency, reportage and a host of other
> things. This is precisely the kind of stuff that the Reader List was set
> up to do. So thanks in advance to all those, especially Aditya Raj Kaul,
> Rashneek Kher, Kshemendra Kaul , Pawan Durani and others who have
> provoked this posting/thread.
> 1. Apologists and Apologies
> As you must have figured out by now, I am referring to the spate of
> postings that we have all recently read, that have, in one way or
> another, raised the question of Sanjay Kak's purported 'mistranslation'
> of the intercepted recording of a telephonic conversation between SAR
> Geelani and his brother Faizal immediately after 13 December 2001,
> during the POTA trial court proceedings in the '13 December Case', while
> appearing as a defence witness (Defence Witness #2, if I am not
> mistaken) for SAR Geelani.
> These postings have appeared because -
> a) having failed to garner sympathy for the position that
> 'Jashn-e-Azadi' is a film that should not be available for uninterrupted
> and undisturbed screenings, or that it should be banned, or that it
> should be prevented by the police from being seen;
> b)having witnessed the demolition on this list of the allegation that
> the purportedly Roots in Kashmir (RIK) initiated screening of 'And the
> World Remained Silent' in Kamala Nehru College was cancelled at the
> behest of those who wanted a screening of 'Jashn-e-Azadi' (following
> clarifications from Kamala Nehru College and Sanjay Mattoo, the person
> who tried to organize the screening of 'Jashn-e-Azadi' in the first
> place, as to the exact chronology of events)
> - those involved in the campaign to stop the film from being watched
> (RIK activists and their sympathizers) were left with no other
> alternative but to train their guns on the filmmaker, on the members of
> this list, and to begin making yet another series of allegations about
> the filmmakers motives and antecedents. Having failed in their
> vilification of the message, they have now turned on the messenger. They
> elected to follow rule 38, 'leave the subject altogether, and turn your
> attack on the person by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character'
> - from that wonderful list of rules of how to win an argument on the
> cheap, attributed to Scopenhauer in Faiz Ullah's post 'to win and
> argument...' made on the 20th of August on the Sarai Reader List.
> Unfortunately for them, this strategy, though momentarily disorienting,
> (because we find it difficult to imagine that people would stoop so low
> as to do such things, and when they do, find ourselves momentarily
> stunned) is bound to fail, in fact it has failed already, for reasons
> that I hope to show in some detail in this set of postings.
> This will involve some very close reading of newspaper reports, articles
> and court proceedings, and some technical details, and will be a lengthy
> post, and may be tedious for some, because, in keeping with the ethical
> standards that this list commits itself to, and that a majority of its
> readers expect, I cannot afford the luxury of making unsubstantiated or
> unsubstantiatable statements. I have to quote sources, contextualize and
> build an argument based on the actual content of publicly available
> documents as opposed to conjecture, prejudice and hearsay. I find myself
> compelled to do this not because I am personally interested in having
> those who make these allegations exposed for what they are, but because
> this list is a public record of sorts, and I do have an interest in
> ensuring that we as list members still retain the capacity to correct
> the grossest of distortions that suddenly erupt amongst us. So apologies
> in advance for the length of this posting.
> I really do apologize for the length of my recent postings but I am
> hoping that you all will understand that when dealing with a
> multi-headed hydra as I find myself having to, I too am forced to become
> a snake with a never ending tail, : ) In other words, even a single
> rejoinder has to be long and comprehensive enough to deal with the venom
> injected by (apparently) many different heads. I need to deploy some
> heavy artillery to deal with so much (badly aimed) sniper fire.
> Apologies also, for attempting to write this in coherent,
> straightforward and ungrammatical english, so that at least my mirror,
> and all those given to ordinary conversation on this list can understand
> what I am writing. Enough apologies, enough preliminaries. Lets get down
> to business.
> 2. Mistranslating a Mistrial
> As someone who happens to have followed the trial that is being referred
> to ('The Parliament Attack/13 December' Case) quite closely over the
> last five years, as regular readers on this list will no doubt recall,
> I think that I can lay a claim to more than a casual interest in the
> The A.R.K.P interpretation (thanks, Yousuf for a handy nomenklatural
> abbreviation for this 'league of extraordinary gentlemen' of Aditya,
> Rashneek, Kshemendra and Pawan, or should I say 'Amalgamated Recidivist
> Kooks & Poseurs') of a fragment of the trial proceedings, makes for
> interesting reading. But a word of caution, we would do well to dwell a
> little on the relationship between what was recorded, what was said in
> court, what was reported, and how it is now being interpreted by the
> 'forensic linguistics' division of A.R.K.P, before we jump to any
> conclusions, either about Sanjay Kak's purported dissimulation, or about
> A.R.K.P's motives in making these seemingly infinitely expanding series
> of allegations. I get a liitle concerned, perhaps even a little
> suspicious when I see allegations begetting allegations with such
> velocity aand with such with remarkable, and self-congratulatory,
> Let me first take the newspaper reports and articles that were quoted
> recently on an A.R.K.P blog post, titled 'A Lie Which Cheated the
> Courts' in a blog titled 'The Kashmir' and which Pawan Durani, and then
> Aditya Raj Kaul refer to, more than once - in their postings.
> The blog entry (and accompanying comments) basically say that - Sanjay
> Kak (and Sampath Prakash) 'mistranslated' the phrase that they render as
> 'Yeh Kya Korua' which occured in the conversation between SAR Geelani
> and his brother. The court, they say, was misled by their
> 'mistranslation' and hence, SAR Geelani was acquitted.
> Nested within this blog entry are four hyperlinks, two of which are
> relevant to the question at hand -
> 1. A report in the Hindu, Friday, May 02, 2003 ' Parliament attack case:
> HC questions prosecution version of arrests'
> 2. Basharat Peer's essay in the Guardian - 'Victims of December 13',
> July 5, 2003
> (It is in the contents of Basharat Peer's essay that the A.R.K.P theory
> of 'mistranslation' finds its ammunition. Mind you, I am saying
> contents, not argument, because Basharat's argument runs entirely
> counter to the A.R.K.P version of the question of SAR Geelani's guilt or
> innocence, but that is not immediately important. Many among you will
> remember Basharat Peer, he was a Sarai Independent Research Fellow, and
> his excellent essay on reporting from Srinagar is available on Sarai
> Reader 04: Crisis Media at )
> I will analyse each of these stories in turn, examine how they are being
> read in the blog under discussion, look at some additional material, and
> then, I will turn to the publicly available court records of the case,
> to try and see if there is any sense in what A.R.K.P are saying.
> Let's get a few facts right first. The depositions made by Sanjay Kak
> and Sampath Prakash did not get SAR Geelani his acquittal. These
> depositions were made at the appelate proceedings at the High Court, and
> the High Court confirmed the sentence of death awarded to Geelani by the
> trial court. Sanjay Kak has pointed this out himself, in his posting on
> this list - the one in which he reprimands me for spoiling the party we
> are all having in watching the A.R.K.P hydra expose itself. The High
> Court confirmed the death sentence, even though it found the
> prosecution's arguments with regard to this particular phone intercept
> severely wanting (see below), while simultaneously dismissing the value
> of Sanjay Kak and Sampath Prakash's testimonies, not on the grounds of
> inadequate or faulty translation, but on the ground that they, being
> members of the All India Defence Committee for SAR Geelani, were not
> disinterested witnesses.. SAR Geelani's acquittal at the Supreme Court
> too was not based on the testimonial contributions of Sanjay Kak or
> Sampath Prakash, but on the failure of the prosecution (including in the
> instance of the phone intercept) to show that they in fact had any
> concrete evidence against him. Perhaps A.R.K.P are unaware of the fact
> that the Indian legal system (with the aberrant exception of the now
> repealed POTA) works with the assumption that it is guilt that needs to
> be proved, not innocence.
> Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that A.R.K.P now realize their
> factual error in stating that it was Sanjay Kak's testimony that 'freed'
> Geelani, and focus next on intention rather than on consequences. Not in
> order to win or lose a legal wager, but in order to retain their
> terribly difficult and hard won position on the slippery slope of their
> self-assumed moral high ground. Then they would argue that it hardly
> matters whether or not Geelani was acquitted on the basis of these
> statements, what matters is that an attempt was made to mislead the
> court, and by extension, the people of India. This attempt (in their
> reading of reality) shows that Sanjay Kak, (and by association, those
> who stand by him) are indulging in dissimulation.
> Now this would be true if,
> a) the crux of SAR Geelani's purported guilt of innocence could
> logically be demonstrated to lie in the indisputable meaning of the
> words 'Yeh Kya Korua'.
> b)if the police/prosecution/A.R.K.P version/translation of the
> conversation were shown to be perfectly in concordance with and
> consistent with the context in which the conversation (of which,
> remember, the intercept is an imperfect recording) took place.
> Remember this, because this is going to be crucial when we look at the
> actual court record of how this was looked at in the Supreme Court,
> where the matter was finally decided on.
> But for now, let us stick first to the question of the quality of the
> telephone intercept as evidence, and secondly to the interpretations
> given to the words, 'Yeh Kya Korua'
> This is what the report on the Hindu (which is a report on the appelate
> trial proceedings in the High Court, not on the POTA Trial Court) that
> the 'Lies that Cheated the Courts' posting links to, has to say on the
> first of these two questions (the evidentiary quality of the intercept).
> This report, which A.R.K.P invoke but never detail, merits quotation at
> length, in fact, in its entirety.
> Parliament attack case: HC questions prosecution version of arrests
> The Hindu, Friday, May 02, 2003
> By Our Special Correspondent
> [ NEW DELHI MAY 1. The two-judge bench of the Delhi High court, hearing
> appeals in the Parliament attack case, today closely questioned the
> Prosecution on its version of the arrests made in the case and the
> contradictions that it throws up.
> The Special Prosecutor, Gopal Subramanium, had told the court, quoting
> Delhi police's Investigating Officer, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, that
> the telephones of S.A.R. Geelani and Afsan Guru/Navjot Sandhu, had been
> tapped on December 13. Calls recorded on December 14 â€” between Geelani
> and his brother at 12.12 p.m. and between Afsan and her husband at 8
> p.m. â€” pointed to their connection with the attack and suggested that
> Shaukat Hussain and one other person were in Srinagar.
> Geelani's house was put under surveillance on December 13 and December
> 14. He was arrested at around 10 a.m. on December 15 and Afsan Guru at
> 10.45 a.m. Information received from Afsan Guru about the registration
> number of the truck in which her husband was travelling was sent to
> Srinagar. On the basis of this, the truck was located at 8 a.m. on
> December 15 and Shaukat Hussain and Mohammed Afzal were arrested by
> 11.45 a.m.
> The Srinagar police officer, who made the arrests, stated in evidence
> that he received information about the truck's registration number at
> 5.30 a.m. on December 15.
> The defence has maintained that Geelani was arrested on December 14 at
> around 1 p.m. and Afsan between 6 and 6.30 p.m.
> Justice Usha Mehra asked Mr. Subramanium to explain the discrepancy in
> the evidence of the Delhi police (that the arrests were made after 10
> a.m. on December 15 and information sent to Srinagar) and of the
> Srinagar police (that it acted on information received at 5.30 a.m.).
> ``If you go only by the clock, then the prosecution is not telling the
> truth'', Mr Subramanium said. The question related to the credibility of
> the witnesses. ``Your Lordships would have to be assisted to see which
> witness is believable''.
> Justice Mehra suggested that ``a lesser explanation'', such as the one
> offered by the defence that Geelani and Afsan were arrested on December
> 14, better suited even the prosecutions version of the arrests. She told
> Mr. Subramanium that if the court were to believe his witness, Mohan
> Chand Sharma, it would have to disbelieve the story of the arrests in
> Justice Mehra also pointed to other gaps in the Prosecutions story.
> Why did the police, which apparently acted with speed to ascertain phone
> details, intercept calls and mount surveillance on Geelani on December
> 13, not go to the evening college where he taught, even if only to get
> his description to help in his arrest? Given that the identity cards on
> the dead militants suggested a Kashmiri connection, why had the police,
> when intercepting calls, not considered that these might be in Kashmiri
> and engage a Kashmiri interpreter? How did the investigating officer who
> did not know Kashmiri and had admitted that the translation of the call
> involving Geelani was done after it was recorded, decide that it was the
> ``relevant'' one ? ]
> Fortunately, unlike their lordships, we do not need much 'assistance' to
> see whether or not the A.R.K.P cohort, in their new found role as
> witness, prosecutor, judge and executioner combined are indeed
> 'credible'. (and I am glad that Rashneek, at least has expressed a
> reluctance to play the role of the hangman because he says that he is,
> like me, against the death penalty, I am happy that there are some
> things on which at least Rashneek and I can genuinely find agreement)
> Let us see why I think we don't need much assistance.
> 3. Figures of Speech
> The chronology spelt out by the above quoted report, which 'Lies that
> Cheated the Courts' unhesitatingly invokes, is very clear. When Geelani
> was arrested, (according to the prosecution) on the morning of December
> 15, no one in the Delhi Police, least of all Inspector Mohan Chand
> Sharma, knew what the contents of this infamous phone call was. Even
> though it is on this that the prosecution built so much of their
> argument. It had simply not yet been 'translated' for the police .In
> other words, if the meaning of 'Yeh Kya Korua' in this conversation was
> unambiguously - 'What did you all do' - and if it is true that this
> phrase referred to the attack on the Parliament - a fact on which hinged
> the suspicion that Geelani was involved in the December 13 incident,
> then, the police, while arresting him, had no clue as yet that this was
> indeed the case. They were arresting him for saying something that they
> had not yet known at that time that he had said. They had no other
> grounds for arresting him. His cell phone number was found on the phones
> recovered from the body of some dead men. That was all.
> [Aside: Consider this - it is possible that in some hours, I might be
> able to get Aditya Raj Kaul's cell phone number from somewhere, and feed
> it in the directory of my cell phone, or that in some hours, someone
> will key in Aditya's number into my cell phone. It is also possible that
> I am in fact a terrorist who is, in a few days,weeks, months, hours, who
> knows when - about to lead a suicide attack on a Cafe Coffee Day outlet
> because I really do not like the way they brew their coffee. It is
> possible, indeed more or less sure that I will die in this attempt. It
> is possible that my cell phone will then yield Aditya Raj Kaul's mobile
> number, (because I have either been dying to talk to him all along, or
> because someone has keyed in this number and put that phone on my dead
> body) and that then, Aditya Raj Kaul (who, it is true, I have been in
> regular touch with as a fellow subscriber on the Reader List, something
> my laptop will surely yield) will then be arrested and held for five
> years in solitary confinement, and be sentenced twice to death on the
> grounds that he was the terrorist mastermind of the 'All India and J&K
> Coffee Liberation Squad', of which I was a mere zombie underling, sent
> out to court death for the sake of better aroma for us all You get my
> drift: End of Aside]
> The depositions of the investigating officer in the case at the trial
> court are to the effect that there were other conversations, other
> intercepts. The depositions of the prosecution witness who translated
> the intercept, the fruit vendor Rashid Ali, and the man who actually did
> the interception both indicate that there was a great deal more that was
> said, and that again - there were other conversations. But the
> investigating officers chose to zero in on Geelani on the basis of these
> two minutes and sixteen seconds alone of a recording where the signal
> drops not once, but twice, without taking into account the intercepts of
> the other calls. But the fact remains that none of these intercepts were
> 'translated' or available in any form for the police to understand when
> the arrests were made. So how, then, did the police know which 'segment'
> of which recording of which intercept was relevant to their theory that
> Geelani was guilty, that he was in fact the mastermind?
> Secondly, the police officer concerned, was clearly not speaking the
> truth about the timing of the arrests, because if we are to believe his
> chronology of when Geelani and Afshan were arrested in Delhi, we have to
> disbelieve the actual time of arrest of Shaukat Hussain and Muhammad
> Afzal in Srinagar. If the Delhi police is truthful (Geelani suspect and
> arrest justified) then the Srinagar police is lying (thus Afzal
> innocent). Yet Afzal and Shaukat are the only key suspecst who have
> actually been found guilty. And if the Delhi police is lying (about the
> timing of Geelani and Afshan's arrest (because they get to Afshan only
> through Geelani) then the entire story falls apart. This is why, the
> phone intercept, is a basically a flawed piece of evidence. If we take
> it very seriously, then everything else falls apart in the case.
> Further, if we take the contents of the conversation to be a tacit
> admission of complicity, then something even more interesting occurs. If
> 'Yeh kya korua' can only mean 'what did you/you all do in Delhi' which
> in turn can only mean 'what did you/you all do, as in try to attack the
> Parliament in Delhi' then, the person who asks the question, that is
> Feizal, is clearly aware of what is going on. He would not be in a
> position to make a reference to an event that had just unfolded if he
> had not been aware of its imminent unfolding in advance. In other words,
> in order for Feizal to have asked a question which can only be read as a
> reference to the attack on Parliament, Feizal needs to have been in on
> the conspiracy. And yet, Feizal, who was investigated and questioned at
> length by the police has never been charged. There is no attempt to make
> a case against him. If Geelani is guilty because he 'knew', (and that
> is all we can surmise if we accept this postion, that he 'knew' because
> there is nothing else that can be said with regard to the man) then,
> according to the argument of the defeated prosecution case and the
> renascent forensic expertise of A.R.K.P, so must Feizal be guilty. Yet,
> no one has ever been able to pin anything on him. And yet the 'needle of
> suspicion' continues to quiver in the direction of SAR Geelani, at least
> in the arguments that A.R.K.P are making.
> 4. 'What Happened'
> Still, let us for form's sake, continue to try and take their position
> seriously. Let us actually go into the language of what is being said,
> and the context in which the conversation takes place.
> Basharat Peer's excellent article in the Guardian, the second and more
> apparently 'damning' revelation dredged up by the diligent A.R.K.P
> blog-soldiers actually says the following -
> "Giving evidence in court, Kak said, "The Kashmiri equivalent of 'What's
> happened?' is 'Yeh Kya Korua'. It is a generic term used for a range of
> ordinary circumstances, such as when a child spills a glass of milk or
> when there is snowfall or a marital dispute." The younger brother of the
> accused teacher had called simply to get a syllabus and a prospectus. He
> translated that portion of the call as: Receiver (accused teacher):
> "Tell me what you want?" Caller (his brother): "Syllabus and
> prospectus." (from Basharat Peer's article, cited and linked above)
> Remember, Kak does not say that 'What's happened' is a *translation* of
> 'Yeh Kya Korua'. He says it is an *equivalent*. The word equivalent
> connotes a similarity of valence or value, not an identity. Equivalent
> is not identical. Equivalent means 'something approximating to another
> thing' not 'something identical with another thing'. But Kak does not
> stop here. He locates the phrase rendered as 'Yeh Kya Korua' in the
> context of how people might talk about events, idiomatically - as 'a
> generic term used for a range of ordinary circumstances'.
> Just as in Bengali, we might say 'E ki kando' (what's been done/'Oh,
> what happenned') or 'E ki korlen' ('what did you do') to express -
> surprise, delight, pain, pleasure, irritation, wonder, astonishment and
> a whole gamut of expressions. Idiomatic language often contains
> expressions that might have a different import from their 'literal'
> meaning, and that may or may not refer to personalized interactions, but
> could even extend to general comments on nature and the cosmos, as a way
> of 'greasing' the levers of conversation. Such that a Bengali like me
> could say, very easily, to another Bengali 'e ki korlen' while looking
> up at the thundering sky, in a difficult to translate idiomatic move
> that includes in its ambit, not just the other person, but also the sky
> god Indra as well . Sampat Prakash's testimony in the trial court also
> includes several examples of the diversity of ways in which the phrase,
> "Yeh Kya Korua' might be deployed in ordinary conversation between two
> Kashmiris who were on familiar but respectful terms with one another.
> But I digress, it is not references to natural phenomena that we are
> discussing here. The question of context becomes all the more important
> if we look at the entire contents of the conversation - which is about a
> syllabus, a prospectus and a host of other humdrum matters, some of
> which are referred to not explicity, but implicitly.. Actually, it is
> interesting to read the entire conversation. And you can read it as a
> downloadable pdf, in romanized Kashmiri and English, in no place other
> than Sarai Reader 04 - Crisis Media (page 158) on the page facing the
> beginning of Nandita Haksar's article 'Tried by the Media': The SAR
> Geelani Trial.
> The pdf file is available for free download, like the entire contents of
> all Sarai Readers at
> Read it carefully, and you will see that on line 15 there is a statement
> (after static noise) by Faizal, Geelani's brother which reads, in mixed
> Kashmiri and Hindustani - "meh vonmus 'hota hai' " - which translates as
> "I said it happens (hota hai)". This is preceded by polite, near phatic
> preliminaries of a totally casual nature, and followed by an enquiry
> about a prospectus, at the end of which, Faizal asks, "Yeh kya korua".
> To which Geelani responds by asking "Kya?Dilli ha" ('What?In Delhi?) and
> Faizal asks again, "Dilli Kya Korua". it is here that the words "Kya
> Korua" are located. Indeed, they can mean 'what did you do', or 'what
> happenned' depending on how you choose to read them, because neither
> reading is incorrect or antagonistic, even if one is more exact and the
> other is idiomatically apposite. In fact, if you do read them as 'what
> did you/you all do' too, there is room for ambiguity, because the query
> could be about people in the plural, or as correctly hinted at, even in
> part by Rashneek, as a - second person singular respectful, (not plural)
> past perfect continuous question. Whichever way you choose to read it.
> it must be read in conjunction with the "hota hai" that has preceded it
> by second. And once you do that, there is no getting away from the fact
> that the query refers to a situation, a general state of being, rather
> than to a concrete event.
> Even the prosecution has never really challenged the reading of 'Kya
> Korua' as a reference broadly suggesting 'What;s happenned'. This is
> clear from another report in the Hindu. One which A.R.K.P neglect to
> invoke, but I am quite happy to pull out of my archive of news reports
> of the 13 December trial.
> Dec. 13 case: tape of phone intercept played in court
> The Hindu, Tuesday, May 06, 2003
> By Our Special Correspondent
> NEW DELHI MAY 5. The tape-recorded telephone intercept, which was the
> mainstay of the prosecution's case against S.A.R. Geelani during the
> trial of the Parliament attack case, was today played for the Delhi High
> Court bench hearing the appeals.
> The prosecution has maintained that the tape contains the question, put
> to Mr. Geelani by his brother, "what happened in Delhi'' to which he
> laughs and replies "yeh che zaroori (this was necessary)''. Having heard
> the tape, Justice Nandrajog said that he had not heard "yeh che zaroori''.
> Justice Usha Mehra asked the Special Prosecutor, Gopal Subramanium, if
> this evidence was the core of the evidence against Mr. Geelani. "I am
> not putting all my eggs in the basket of that intercepted call,'' he
> 5. 'Was This Necessary?'
> Things get a little complicated for the A.R.K.P theory here. This
> newspaper report seems to suggest that even the prosecution refers to
> the question 'Yeh Kya Korua' as 'What's happenned in Delhi'. The judge
> does not disagree. Since according to A.R.K.P, rendering 'Yeh Kya Korua'
> as anything like 'What's happenned' is a sure sign of the fact that the
> person found doing so is in cahoots with terrorists, and must be a paid
> agent of JKLF, we have to arrive at the conclusion that not only Sanjay
> Kak and Sampath Prakash, but also the Special Prosecutor Gopal
> Subramaniam who tried so hard to get Geelani to hang, as well as the
> honorable justices Nandrajog, Mehra and Dhingra, must be, according to
> this theory, in league with terrorism and the paid mercenaries of JKLF
> or some other 'tanzeem'.
> If A.R.K.P had the patience to go through the trial proceedings they
> would know that shortly after the hearing in which the whole telephone
> intercept argument is explored, the court calls upon Defence Witness #5,
> Aarifa Geelani, SAR Geelani's wife, who tells the court that the
> telephone conversation conains delicate and discreet references made
> between the brothers ('hota hai', 'yeh kya korua') to the fact that
> Geelani and his wife were at that time quarrelling about when they
> should be visiting Kashmir. That Aarifa's mother in law, Geelani's
> mother, had asked her son, Feizal, Geelani's brother, to enquire about
> why Aarifa was not coming up to Kashmir to visit them as was planned and
> to ask if everything was all right at home in Delhi, and so on.
> Of course, A.R.K.P don't do boring things like detailed reading of
> court transcripts, because they would then know that Aarifa's testimony
> passes without adverse comment in the court room. Doing that requires
> more than punching messages and scoring points on Blackberries, and then
> giving each other virtual congratulary back-slaps. it requires slow,
> patient reading. It requires hard work at the careful knitting together
> of an argument before even daring to make the hint of an accusation. But
> A.R.K.P wouldn't waste their time doing that, would they, becasue that
> would inhibit their capacity to post rapid fire slander. They would much
> rather spend their time making random links to newspaper reports and
> articles that they haven't read or digested, and then, on the basis of
> these links, scream 'murder' on our list. It is so much more exciting to
> deceive yourself and the world, acquiring in the process a momentary
> flash of internet fame, than it is to actually undertake a patient
> reading of a judicial record.
> Things actually get a lot more complicated for A.R.K.P if we realize
> that the real controversy in the testimony as it unfolds through the
> depositions of defence and prosecution witnesses is not about the
> meaning of 'Yeh Kya Korua' at all (about which there is no real debate
> in the court room) but about whether or not an expression rendered as
> "yeh che zaroori" in the police transcript of the recording is actually
> audible or not in the tape.
> The edifice of the police and the prosecution's case is actually
> entirely built on the purported presence of the words "yeh che zaroori"
> immediately following the exchange between the two brothers that are
> rendered as "yeh kya korua"..."dilli ha", ..."dilli kya korua"
> The police, in its deposition maintained that the words "yeh che
> zaroori" translated in the charge sheet as "yeh kabhi kabhi zaroori hota
> hai" or, "this becomes necessary at times"( accompanied by laughter) is
> indicative of the fact that Geelani was somehow justifying the attack on
> the parliament.
> Even if we accept, theoretically, that "Yeh kya korua" refers to a
> concrete occurence, that is the attack on the parliament, we have no way
> of knowing what Geelani thinks about that occurence unless we have in
> hand something like "yeh che zaroori". We are not, in other words in a
> position to form a reliable theory of mind vis a vis Geelani and his
> response to the attack on the parliament. We are not in a position where
> we can know anything about guilt, innocence or complicity unless we know
> what Geelani's explicitly expressed opinion on the occurence. This is
> possible only if we can pull out an expression like "yeh che zaroori"
> from our bag of tricks. The problem is, no one, till date, neither
> prosecutor, nor defence, nor judge, nor expert technical witness brought
> in by the prosecution, has ever been able to hear anything remotely like
> the words "yeh che zaroori" in the recording.
> This is what the High Court commented found necessary to say in
> paragraph 346 of its ruling while discussing whether or not it heard the
> words "yeh che zaroori".
> "During the hearing of the appeal, we had called for the tape from
> Malkhana and in the presence of the parties played the same. Indeed
> the voice was so inaudible that we could not make head or tail of the
> conversation. We tried our best to pick up the phonetical sounds where
> there was a dispute as to what words were used, but were unable to do
> so. Testimony of Prosecution Witness # 48 reveals that he could not
> analyse the talk as it was highly inaudible. Prosecution Witness # 48
> is a phonetic expert. If he could not comprehend the conversation in a
> clearly audible tone, the probability of ordinary layman picking up the
> phonetic sounds differently cannot be ruled out. The prosecution
> witness, PW #71, Rashid, who prepared a transcript of the tape is fifth
> class pass and it was not his profession to prepare transcript of
> taped conversation. The possibility of his being in error cannot be
> ruled out. Benefit of doubt must go to the defence."
> 6. Signal and Noise
> And the reason why they have not been able to hear the recording is the
> fact that the sounds that make up those words are simply not there. What
> we have instead is digital noise, a dropped signal, auditory degradation
> - something quite common in recordings of cellular phone taps, which
> always suffer in audio recording quality in comparison to the signal
> level of the actual conversation.
> We might recall at this time that throughout the POTA trial court
> proceedings, which preceded the High Court trial, the police and the
> prosecution did not find it necessary to produce the actual
> audio-recording as evidence, even though they declared from every media
> roof top, that they had conclusive evidence about Geelani's complicity
> in the contents of that very recording. They produced instead a
> transcript of a translation, done after the arrest, days after the
> recording, by a person, who happenned to be a Kashmiri fruit vendor
> whose working knowledge of Hindi or English was demonstrably not
> adequate to the task of translation.
> Geelani has insisted in every statement made by him, at every stage of
> the trial, that the words "yeh che zaroori" represented an interpolation
> in the transcript of the recording. But it took the inability of anyone
> to hear the words in the judges chamber during the trial in the high
> court for it to be admitted that the three crucial words, were in fact,
> simply not said.
> It is not surprising therefore that the public prosecutor was candid in
> saying that he 'did not want to put all his eggs in the intercept
> basket'. But clearly, the A.R.K.P division of forensic linguistics and
> spin doctoring possess a far higher level of legal acumen than the
> special prosecutor who tried so hard to get Geelani the death penalty.
> They want to put their eggs, their chicken, the vegetable matter between
> their ears and all their rhetorical heavy spices into the basket of the
> telephone intercept - a piece of evidence that everyone acknowledges as
> being degraded by confabulation. They are not content at doing just
> that, they are also able to shift the weight of evidence from a
> statement whose existence is found to be wanting to a statement whose
> interpretation actually provokes no controversy. And so, the
> translation, interpretation or rendition of 'Yeh Kya Korua' which
> establish nothing either way, become, in their eyes, (or should I say
> ears) more important than the lynchpin of the prosecution's argument.
> A.R.K.P deserve to be recognized not just as champions in wasting this
> lists time and energy in the pursuit of one red herring after another,
> but also as highly creative, wildly imaginative legal analysts. Their
> abilities in this regard surpass the best brains of the Special Cell of
> the Delhi Police, which has provided us with such a shining example of
> probity and integrity throughout the course of the 13 December trial.
> It is not Sanjay Kak who has lied and played with the trust of what
> A.R.K.P call the 'people of India', or of this list. It is A.R.K.P
> themselves who occupy that stellar role, and it is not necessary for us
> to ask whether they do so out of ignorance, stupidity, or worse, design.
> What is not disputable is that no one can do it as energetically, and
> with as much pretentious self righteous humbuggery and maudlin,
> narcissistic, self flagellatory assumption of the status of the
> perpetual victim as they can.
> They lied when they said that their screening was scheduled and then
> cancelled at Kamala Nehru College, and when that fabrication was
> exposed, they lied again, this time about something far more serious.
> Instead of attempting to engage with the task of serious criticism, as
> was demanded of them by this list, they tried to defame and insult
> someone's reputation. In doing so, they have only exposed themselves.
> This list knows now who they are and what their intentions are.
> Regular readers of the Sarai Reader List will be familiar with the
> expression "Free speech needs fearless listening." Well, they have
> spoken freely, we have listened fearlessly, and I think that many of us
> have not been intimidated by the high volume at which they have dished
> out their bile. In the end, they have suffered, because by speaking too
> loudly, too quickly, too often, they have really ruined their own
> chances of the possibility that we would give them a sympathetic hearing.
> I have no doubt that the Kashmiri Pandit people have suffered enormously
> in the last twenty years. I have absolutely no qualms in saying that
> those who visited violence upon them as well as those who manipulated
> their fears and anxieties to their own ends are all guilty of having
> done things that are terribly wrong. But the cause of justice for
> Kashmiri Pandit people, which must surely lie in a solution to the issue
> of Kashmir which is just for all people in Kashmir, is not safe in the
> hands of a group of motivated and self serving individuals who have
> absolutely no scruples in the way in which they represent that cause.
> Their actions indicate that perhaps they could be counted as amongst the
> worst enemies that the displaced Kashmiri Pandit population have, or can
> have. They may not have murdered people, but they have certainly
> attempted to assasinate time and again the possibility of a peaceful
> settlement of the Kashmir question.
> 7. Epilogue: Stray Thoughts on Audio Recording and Translation
> I spent this evening talking separately to two friends, very different
> people, before sitting through the night to write this posting. One was
> a sound recordist and engineer with a special interest in the auditory
> qualities of mobile phone devices, an inventive, cheerful and curious
> person who is passionate about the properties of of sound and the craft
> of sound recording. The second was a person who teaches a foreign
> language in Delhi university, someone whom I have known for the last six
> years, and whom I have had several regular but occasional conversations
> that I always find personally rewarding.
> I asked the first person whether a set of significant sounds, say three
> words, could be retrieved from the auditory black hole of digital noise
> in a recording of a mobile phone conversation. She said "no, a digital
> auditory black hole is a digital auditory black hole. Once a signal
> passes below the threshold of audibility and recognition due to the
> interference of noise, it cannot be retrieved by 'cleaning up' the
> recording". In other words, there are next to no chances of the recovery
> of words that might or might not have been said from under the patina of
> digital noise in a recording. Ambient noise can be cleaned, provided
> there is a sufficient sample of ambient noise available for a detailed
> acoustic analysis to be done, which in turn would help in eliminating
> the interfering frequencies, and so 'recover' the lost sound. But a
> mobile phone conversation is a digital signal, and a phone intercept of
> a mobile phone conversation is a degraded digital signal, and with a
> less than quality signal to noise ratio, in other words, more noise,
> less signal. These degradations are usually irreparable. For all
> practical purposes, we might as well assume that whatever may be
> underneath the corroded patch of signal, is non existent. The words 'yeh
> che zaroori' will never be found, even if we look for them.
> Unfortunately, words let loose in spite, or in anger, on an electronic
> list, rarely if ever go into a digital black hole. They stay orbiting
> the ether for a long time, bouncing across continents in forwards,
> replies and rejoinders. Everything A.R.K.P said on this list is going to
> stay, and it is their problem as to how they will live with the endless
> google searches that will turn up their fabrications, time and time
> again. Archived lists have cruel and unforgiving memories, I hope that
> before the next time anyone hits 'send' on a mail written in undue
> haste, they remember this simple fact.
> After I met the sound engineer friend, who is by nature shy and
> reticent, and wishes to remain nameless, I went to another
> rendezvous,this time with the language teacher. We talked of many
> things, and one of the things we talked about, was the fact that while
> the narration of an offence or a misdemeanour always translates easily
> in a courtroom, and then in society at large, as guilt, it remains very
> difficult to translate innocence. When someone does something wrong, or
> is seen as doing something wrong, you can always find words to give form
> to what they have done, or to what you think they have done. On the
> other hand, when someone has done nothing, it becomes very difficult to
> find words to give substance to this absence of an action. How can you
> sculpt a form and a shape out of the negation of a form or a shape? That
> is why innocence is difficult to translate in any language. That is why
> it is so easy for us to point fingers at others. Words of accusation
> fall off the tip of our tongues, or our fingers, like acid rain.
> We spoke in a comfortable mix of Hindustani and English, switching from
> one language to another as if they were playmates. I gave examples about
> how one might say 'E ki kando' in Bengali, he talked about the occasions
> when one might say 'Yeh ki Korua' in Kashmiri. We had several cups of
> coffee. We talked about the difficulty of translating silences in any
> language. We parted promising to lend each other books that we had
> talked about in the course of the conversation.
> This friend speaks Kashmiri at home, teaches Arabic in the university,
> and has had to think, due to a continuing set of circumstances, long and
> hard, harder than anyone I know, about truth, translation, guilt and
> innocence. His name is Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani.
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