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Corrupt businessmen and Islamists try to get Modi ‘arrested’ ahead of BRICS, read how they failed

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

The BRICS summit 2018 being held in Johannesburg, South Africa is the tenth summit that is being attended by the heads of the member states five member states Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the summit after his three-nation Africa tour. Prior to this summit, there were efforts made by Islamists and a corrupt business family snubbed by Modi in 2016, to get him arrested during his trip to South Africa. An effort that failed miserably.

The South African Kashmiri Action Group and the Muslim Lawyers’ Association demanded the investigation, arrest and prosecution of Modi over his governance of Jammu and Kashmir. The motivated calls for arrest were based on the misplaced UN report on Kashmir that India had summarily and vehemently rejected. The Ministry of External Affairs had issued a statement saying “It is a selective compilation of largely unverified information. It is overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative.”

The credibility of the UN report also came into question after Canada based Pakistani Islamist Zafar Bangash, who is an Imam at York Region’s Mosque’s Islamist society claimed that he had helped the UN with the report on Kashmir. He had expressed “humility and great pride” in helping UN’s High Commissioner Al Hussein personally.

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When the application to arrest Modi was made, the legal representative of the two associations said “It is simply unthinkable that Modi could be invited to this country and enjoy immunity,” and that the NPA had jurisdiction on several grounds to prosecute Modi, which included the country’s constitution and directives on case law from the Geneva Convention and Nuremberg Trials pertaining to war crimes.

However, things turned interesting when a charge led by 4 Muslim organisations came out with a press statement trying to negate the machinations caused to the summit by the Islamists trying to disrupt the meet. The statement read, “The Muslim community of South Africa joins fellow South Africans in welcoming the arrival of the BRICS delegates to our shores and our country. We are fully committed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment initiative to build an economic powerhouse in the southern tip of Africa that will spill over into the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.” It was issued by four Muslim organisations, reportedly in a charge led by the Muslim Judicial Council. This was in direct response to Johannesburg-based Muslim Lawyers Association, and the South African Kashmiri Action Group moving a legal application to arrest Narendra Modi.

It is being reported in South African media that Thursday night last week, instead of going home, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe got on a long-distance flight to India to smoothen things over with the Indian authorities and avert the embarrassment of not having the Indian Prime Minister attend the summit. Reportedly, the Muslim group were also building cases against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping. The application to arrest Modi was summarily rejected by South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority since there was obviously no ground or evidence and heads of states have immunity.

The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are trying to rebuild the relationship between the two countries after the Congress-led government back in when they were in power had registered their protest over lack of respect shown to then PM Manmohan Singh with delays and no one-on-one meeting organised between the two heads

Interestingly, that the bid to derail the summit by legal applications of having Narendra Modi arrested have been fuelled by the controversial businessmen of the Gupta family.

South African media outlet DailyMaverick reported :

Building closer relations with India is probably somewhere on Ramaphosa’s to-do list, but at least he and Modi have in common a dislike for the Zuma-friendly Gupta family. During his 2016 state visit to South Africa, Modi snubbed a dinner at which he had heard some of the Gupta brothers would be present, and now some conspiracy theorists in the Indian High Commission in Pretoria reckon Gupta-friendly officials might be fuelling efforts to embarrass Modi, as payback.

South African investigative journalists from AmaBhugane had investigated the links between tainted Gupta brothers and the then President Jacob Zuma in a series called ‘Gupta Leaks‘. Zuma faced charges of massive corruption and impropriety and the journalists had found that the corruption was done with the help of the Gupta brothers – India born influential South Africa based businessmen with interests in computers, media, mining, and real estate.

OpIndia had also delved into the investigation of the South African journalists. In our earlier reports we had written :

Zuma’s son is reported to be a director in many companies of Gupta brothers, and thus Zuma was accused of granting undue favours to Gupta brothers as a result of which piling personal fortunes for himself and his family. For example, there was one instance where Bank of Baroda, through its South African operations, gave loan to Jacob Zuma’s fourth wife to buy a house. The loan was paid by companies owned by Gupta brothers.

Helping Zuma’s wife pay a housing loan is lesser of the charges levelled against the Gupta brothers. There have been reports that Guptas were so influential and powerful in South Africa owing to their proximity to the Zuma family, that they even used to offer posts in the central government to politicians (fixing cabinet berths a la Radia tape controversy back in India) apart from winning government contracts for themselves.

While investigating the links between Zuma and the Gupta brothers, AmaBhugane and DailyMaverick had stumbled upon his business relations with another controversial businessman called Piyoosh Goyal and in turn, Goyal’s business relations with Congress leader Kapil Sibal. However, no link has been established between Kapil Sibal and the Gupta family directly. Though, Daily Maverick amaBhungane claim that family of Kapil Sibal – the Congress leader, his wife Promila Sibal, and his son Akhil Sibal, who is also a lawyer – and families of Piyoosh Goyal and Gupta brothers took a chartered flight from Delhi to Mumbai to watch the final of the 2011 Cricket World Cup between India and Sri Lanka, a charge which was summarily denied by Kapil Sibal and his son.

Our independent investigation also showed that Kapil Sibal had acquired a defunct company from Piyoosh Goyal and an expensive piece of land for a nominal rate and the business dealings between the two were a little opaque. Following our investigation, Kapil Sibal’s refusal to answer our question and his subsequent u-turn from what he had told the South African journalists, Sibal had also threatened to sue OpIndia.

It is, therefore, intriguing that now, the South African media is strife with rumours that apart from Kashmiri separatist organisations, it was perhaps functionaries of the Gupta family who had tried their best to embarrass Modi during the BRICS summit after Modi had refused to attend a dinner attended by the Guptas in 2016.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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