“There was no chance that he would be present in Adilabad district for a meeting in the first place since there is no Naxal activity in the area any more,” says his brother Dr Anil Kumar, a practising gastroenterologist in Hyderabad. “He was obviously convinced by the central government that he was safe and then trapped and killed,” alleges older brother Colonel Ratna Kumar. Dr Anil asserts that a top leader of Azad’s cadre would not be left alone to face bullets from police personnel. “He would have been surrounded by a minimum of 40-50 squad members.” The doctor also goes on to wonder: “If he was on a hillock as the police claim, then random firing from the AK-47 which he was allegedly carrying would have killed several policemen. How come not a single cop was even injured? The police don’t even know how to concoct a story.”
Azad’s younger brother Ramana describes the sheer rage he felt on seeing Azad’s body at the mortuary. The entry and exit wounds of the single bullet in Azad’s body are a sure pointer to a close-range firing, say the brothers. “I am a doctor and I can tell you that there’s no way that firing taking place from down a hill can go down a person’s chest and exit from behind the ribcage in that manner,” says Dr Anil.
The anguish in Azad’s family is evident when they question “upstart TV anchors” for calling him a “Maoist terrorist”. “All the police personnel in the state put together would not equal 1/10th of the brains my brother had,” says older brother Col Ratna.
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh government continues its hazy stance on the Azad encounter. It has transferred out sub-inspector Mansoor Ahmed, who was attached to the Wankedi police station, Adilabad, when the encounter took place. The FIR filed says he was not present at the spot. “I was woken up at 6 am on July 2 by calls from journalists and visited the spot along with them,” says Mansoor. “I just filed the paperwork and was not present during the encounter.”
Circle Inspector Raghunandan Rao, who was also part of the FIR recording process, denies identifying Azad’s body. Home minister P. Sabitha Indra Reddy refused to comment on whether an inquiry would be initiated into the encounter. “I have to study the issue and cannot give out a statement before doing so,” she told Outlook.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
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