Monday, September 30, 2013

Ex-Indian state chief minister convicted for fodder scam

Lalu Prasad outside a court in Ranchi (Pic: European Pressphoto Agency)

The case was filed against Yadav in 1996 for the alleged embezzlement of funds intended for the purchase of fodder worth 9.7 billion rupees at the time

NEW DELHI (AA) - In a significant ruling on Monday, seasoned politician and lawmaker Lalu Prasad Yadav, leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) party, a key constituent of the Congress-led ruling coalition, was convicted of misusing state funds in a case dating back to 1996, when he served as chief minister of Bihar State.
Yadav, along with 41 others, was found guilty of misusing some 370 million rupees worth of public funds.
The case was filed against Yadav in 1996 for the alleged embezzlement of funds intended for the purchase of fodder worth 9.7 billion rupees at the time (which today amounts to some 20 billion rupees or about $33 billion).
Huge amounts of government money were allegedly used to pay for cattle fodder, medicines and fictitious bills.
The ruling was delivered before a packed courtroom in the city of Ranchi with Yadav, 66, present.
The sentence will be decided by the court on Thursday.
Yadav's lawyer had unsuccessfully petitioned to transfer the presiding judge.
The RJD has accused the judge of bias against Yadav due to his association with a senior minister in the current Bihar government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Yadav had to resign in 1997 after being formally charged in the fodder scam, immediately placing his wife, Rabri Devi, to the post of chief minister.
After ruling Bihar for 15 years, Yadav's RJD lost the election to Kumar in 2005, thus bringing an end to the party's rule of the northern state.
An immediate consequence of the conviction is that Yadav, a sitting member of parliament, will have to give up his seat in the assembly, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling.
In July, the Supreme Court ruled that any member of parliament or the state legislature must vacate his/her elected office if found guilty of a criminal offence carrying a sentence of two or more years in prison.
Last week, the Congress-led coalition government passed an ordinance in an effort to overrule the verdict.
On Friday, the ordinance was bitterly criticized by Rahul Gandhi, vice-president of Congress and scion of the prominent Gandhi family.
Gandhi had termed the ordinance "complete nonsense," saying it should be "torn up and thrown away."
The government is expected to reconsider the ordinance at an October 3 Cabinet meeting.
At a Sunday party meeting, RJD Parliamentarian Prabhunath Singh said that if Yadav went to jail it would be good for the party.
"Whenever Laluji goes to jail, the party becomes stronger," Singh suggested. "After his 1977 campaign against the Emergency, he became an MP."
"He came to power for the third time in Bihar after going to jail," Singh said.
"We want him to go to jail; let him we will come back to power in Bihar," he added.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

50-hour rescue operation for Mumbai victims

Rescue operation at Mumbai's Dockyard road building collapse (Pic: Imtiyaz Shaikh)

The death toll increased to 61 on Sunday morning as eight more bodies were recovered from the debris, civic authorities said. 

MUMBAI (AA) -  In what many describe as one of the longest rescue operations in the history of India’s financial capital, rescue teams were still on Sunday trying to find survivors in a four-storey government building which collapsed Friday.

At least 2 persons were rescued alive late Saturday night.
Cranes and other heavy rescue machines worked overnight to lift and cut large concrete slabs and mangled steel.
Hundreds of relatives and curious onlookers waited impatiently as the rescue workers drilled holes to find out any sign of life.
Apart from firefighters and civic body’s Disaster Control department, teams of Mumbai National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), were brought in to aid in the rescue operation.
The building collapsed in the early hours when most of the residents were sleeping.
Around 21 families lived in the 28-room building.
The death toll increased to 61 on Sunday morning as eight more bodies were recovered from the debris, civic authorities said.
Seven bodies are yet to be identified.
The injured have been admitted to state-run J J Hospital and Nair Hospital.
"Eight injured have been brought to the hospital and their condition is serious. The injured include a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old boy," said Dr. TP Lahane, dean of the JJ hospital.
The building is owned by Mumbai civic body, known as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which has announced the compensation of Rs 200000 for families of every deceased person.
This is the second incident of building collapse in Mumbai in the last eight days.
On September 21, a five-storey private residence complex collapsed in Mumbra, a suburb on the outskirts of Mumbai, killing 3 people.
Built in 1980, the collapsed building was classified under the "C-2" category which meant it urgently needed repairs.
The building was served a notice recently for being in a dilapidated condition.
Interestingly, the BMC’s Planning and Design Department was preparing it for repairs.
An estimated Rs.1500000 was earmarked for the repair and innovation of the building, sources told Anadolu Agency.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has promised strict action against those found responsible for the collapse.
"Action will be taken against those found guilty," vowed Sunil Prabhu, Mumbai mayor.
The BMC has formed two probe committees and immediately ordered an audit of buildings in similar condition.
Police have already arrested the owner of a decoration company which had taken the ground floor of the building on lease from the BMC.
Ashok Mehta, the company's owner, and his associates have been booked under different sections of Indian Penal Code, which include culpable homicide not amounting to murder, act endangering life or personal safety of others, causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others, acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.
In his complaint to the local police station, the BMC deputy commissioner accused Mehta of carrying out faulty and unauthorized renovation at his rented office-cum-warehouse on the ground floor.
"Mehta carried out alteration and renovation works without prior permission from the civic body and this had triggered the tragic incident," he said.
Mumbai is home to hundreds of old and dilapidated buildings which are prone to collapse during and after the heavy monsoon season.

Friday, September 27, 2013

India's top-court allows negative voting

File photo of Indian Supreme Court (Pic: The Hindu)

Indian voters could now express their opinion by rejecting the contenders, it said, which would help put unscrupulous impersonators out of the polls
NEW DELHI (AA) - In a landmark ruling on Friday, India's top court gave citizens the right to cast negative votes against candidates and reject all candidates contesting the polls.
The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the election commission to provide a 'none-of-the-above' (NOTA) option at the end of the candidate list in electronic voting machines and ballot papers to express their rejection of all candidates running in any given poll.
The court said that negative voting would "foster purity" and "vibrancy of elections," as it would ensure wide participation on the part of those not satisfied with the candidates in the election ring.
Indian voters could now express their opinion by rejecting the contenders, it said, which would help put unscrupulous impersonators out of the polls.
"When a large number of voters will press [the] NOTA button, it will force political parties to choose better candidates. Negative voting would lead to systemic change in polls," the apex court declared.
Elaborating the point further, the court said the right to reject candidates in elections was part of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, which is enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
The election commission said it would implement the judgment straight away, saying it would make arrangements to separately compile the number of persons who used the NOTA option.
 Great judgment
 N. Gopalaswamy, former chief election commissioner, hailed the court ruling as "a great and welcome judgment."
"Hopefully, political parties will take notice and go for candidates with cleaner records," Gopalaswamy told reporters.
With this judgment, India becomes the world's 14th country to allow negative voting.
The bench noted that the concept of negative voting was already in place in 13 countries.
Interestingly, the SC bench, while reading the operative part of the judgment, failed to explain what would happen in the event that NOTA votes outnumbered those garnered by candidates.
Yet it said that the secrecy of negative votes must be maintained by the election commission.
The top court passed the order on public interest litigation filed by the non-governmental People's Union for Civil Liberties, which had argued that voters should be given the right to cast negative votes.
The bench passed the verdict in line with the NGO's plea, asserting that it would further empower voters in exercising their democratic rights.
The verdict comes as part of a series of judgments passed by the top court on electoral reform.
Earlier, the SC had ruled that state and federal lawmakers must be disqualified if convicted of serious crimes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

'They took him for 10 minutes. He returned home after 5 years'

Noorul Huda outside his house in Malegaon (Pic: Mubasshir Mushtaq)

MALEGAON (AA) - On a sultry evening in October 2006, plainclothes police officers knocked on the door of Noorul Huda, a stout, 23-year-old man of moderate height.
They asked him to accompany them to the local police station for "ten minutes."
But it took the young Muslim five years to return home.
Huda, along with eight others, was accused of planting bombs in the Muslim-majority textile town of Malegaon, some 300km north of Mumbai, on September 8, 2006.
At 1:45pm that day, four bombs exploded in and around India's largest Muslim cemetery during Friday prayers, killing 37 and wounding more than 300.
It was the first time in India's history that Muslims were specifically targeted on a mass scale by a bomb blast.
The state's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested nine Muslims, including Huda, in connection with the blasts.
"The investigating officers asked me why I wore a skullcap, sport a beard and pray five times a day," Huda told the Anadolu Agency.
"They asked me, 'Why can't you be like Bollywood star Salman Khan [known for his trademark t-shirt and jeans]?'" he recalled.
Huda was threatened that, if he did not cooperate in the investigation, his sisters would be "implicated" in the blasts.
He accuses police of taking him to Bangalore and "illegally" performing "narco" tests on him without judicial permission. In such tests, the subject is injected with a so-called "truth serum", a medication used to obtain information from a person who is unwilling to provide it otherwise.
Results of such tests, however, are not considered legally valid confessions.
Huda says he spent 48 days in police custody, during which he lost some 20kgs, before being transferred to Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail.
He insists that, apart from a confession he was "forced" to sign, the police had no evidence against him.
In December of that year, the ATS filed its voluminous charge-sheet with a special anti-terror court in Mumbai under controversial Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) legislation.
Under MCOCA, a suspect's confession is enough to secure a conviction.
But after massive protests by local and civil rights activists who charged that the ATS investigation was biased against Muslims, the probe was transferred to India's premier investigating agency: the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The CBI endorsed the ATS' findings.
But the case took an interesting turn in 2010, when self-styled Hindu preacher Swami Aseemanand confessed in court that the actual perpetrators of the blasts had been Hindu extremists.
The case was soon transferred to the newly-formed National Investigation Agency (NIA), which made several fresh arrests of Hindu extremists.
In November 2011, the NIA submitted its report to the special anti-terror court, stating that it had not found any evidence implicating the original nine Muslim suspects, including Huda.
The long-suffering defendants were immediately released on bail.
Years on, Huda still shivers at the memory of the "torture" he accuses the investigating agencies of subjecting him to.
"Twelve officers, one by one, used to beat me, naked, on my knees and soles [of my feet] with batons and belts before I fell unconscious," he recounted.
Huda claims he was not provided with meals with which to break his fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"They would rather bring food when I was fasting. I used to fast by drinking water for my pre-dawn meal," he said.
On the day of Eid (the Muslim festival that follows Ramadan), Huda said, senior ATS officers came to the jail in which he was being held.
"We must celebrate Eid with Noorul Huda," he quoted the top officer as telling his subordinates.
The officer distributed biscuits among them and then each one took his turn.
"They blindfolded me and kicked me in my private parts," he recalled painfully.
Although it has been two years since his release, Huda says the pain still has not left him.
"Until now, there is constant and recurring pain in my head. There are blood clots on my scalp because of the excessive torture," he lamented.
"I always keep painkillers in my pocket," he added, producing a strip of tablets.
The Anadolu Agency contacted the ATS for comment on the torture allegations.
"We don't comment on the 2006 Malegaon blasts case," an officer said by phone. "Our chief is out of the office for a meeting at the state assembly."
Prominent human rights activist Manisha Sethi was not surprised by the torture allegations.
"On the whole, in our country, torture is as endemic as impunity," she told the AA.
"While it is routinely employed by police, and largely condoned, it becomes even more acceptable when it is shown to be used in the service of national security," she added.
"Mumbai ATS in particular is known to favor torture as an investigative technique," the activist charged.
"Testimony from those who have emerged from their torture chambers show how their cruelty is not random, but thought out, calculated, clinical torture, which has resulted in the creation of torture infrastructure [consisting] of gases, oils, chairs, screwdrivers, insects and electrical gadgets inside padded cells," Sethi grimly explained.
She voiced regret that no one had yet been punished for indulging in torture, noting that India "has yet to pass an anti-torture bill."
When the Malegaon bombing took place, Shabbir Masiullah, another defendant in the case, was already in police custody in connection with Mumbai's 7/11 train blasts.
"I was portrayed as the 'mastermind' of the 2006 Malegaon blasts, although I was already in jail when the blasts happened -- as can be proved with legal documents," Masiullah told the AA.
ATS accused Masiullah, who deals in industrial batteries, of storing RDX -- an explosive material widely used in military and industrial applications -- at his warehouse.
"In the dark of night, they took me to my warehouse and mixed traces of RDX in the soil," Masiullah asserted. "The same soil sample was then sent to Bangalore for forensic examination."
He too accused ATS officers of torturing him.
"Once, some officers poured Suryaprakash oil [acidic oil] on my private parts. They injected the same [material] into my anus. It burned my skin," he alleged.
"This way, they took my confession," Masiullah said, adding that he later retracted this "confession" in the special anti-terror court.
He also says he was subjected to various tests that affected him mentally.
"For days, I was under the heavy influence of the narco tests. I once fainted in front of the judge," he said.
When Masiullah was transferred to Arthur Road Jail, he used to vomit blood due to the excessive torture.
Masiullah experienced the saddest moment of his life when his three-year-old son Maaz Arqam wanted to climb onto his lap outside the special anti-terror court, but police stopped him.
"This was the mental torture I went through," he recalled.
From prayer to jail
Mohamed Zahid, a third defendant, was portrayed as the "bomb planter" in the Malegaon blasts, although -- on that fateful day -- he was leading Friday prayers at a mosque in Phulsavangi, some 500km from Malegaon.
"Two hundred and fifteen people gave an affidavit that on the day of the blasts, I was in Phulsavangi," Zahid told the AA. "Of these 215, 75 were my Hindu brethren."
"Is there any person on this planet who can be at two places at the same time?" Zahid asked sarcastically.
The ATS made good use of two previous criminal cases against Zahid, an alleged member of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
"All of the accused are innocent, but Zahid was deliberately singled out to fulfill the legal requirement," defense lawyer Irfana Hamdani told the AA.
Under MCOCA legislation, the prosecution must prove the attacks had been "organized" -- and for that, one of the defendants had to have two previous criminal cases against him.
"I happily signed the confession statement. I did not even know what a confession meant," said Zahid, a college dropout. "I was under the impression that it would help me get bail."
The Malegaon case has completely destabilized Zahid's life.
"The bomb blasts case has uprooted my family life. The stigma of terror still haunts us," he said.
The three defendants interviewed by the AA have more in common than just the same nightmarish detention and memories of abuse.
All three of them used their time in detention for a greater good.
The stench and squalor of Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail did not deter Huda from accomplishing one of his long-term goals.
He finished his education in jail by taking a long-distance learning course.
Masiullah, for his part, mastered the art of acupressure while in jail from a South Indian physiotherapist.
"He taught me some techniques that helped me immensely to cope with my pain. I read many books on acupressure in jail," he said.
In no time, Masiullah became the prison's local "magical doctor," with fellow inmates lining up outside his cell for treatment.
Masiullah says that when the prison wardens learned of his acupressure technique, they began treating him much better.
Sensing his growing popularity, Masiullah devised a policy that the wardens happily accepted.
"I laid down a condition that for every jail official I treat, I will treat two prisoners," he said.
Zahid, meanwhile, used to pass his time teaching fellow inmates Hindi, Urdu and English.
On August 29 of this year, the NIA informed the special anti-terror court that it would not have any objection if all nine defendants in the case were discharged.
"The whole case against us was like a palace in sand," said Masiullah.  "It was bound to crumble."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Muslim-Hindu violence dominates India harmony meeting

An elderly with his grandchildren. He lost his son in Muzaffarnagar riots (Pic: The Indian Express)

Communal violence between Hindus and Muslims topped the agenda of a meeting Monday of an advisory body that seeks to promote communal harmony
NEW DELHI (AA) - Communal violence between Hindus and Muslims, including clashes two weeks ago which killed at least 50 people in India's north, topped the agenda of a meeting Monday of an advisory body that seeks to promote communal harmony in the country. 
"The Muzaffarnagar violence led to a huge loss of lives and property," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the annual meeting of the 148-member National Integration Council (NIC), which includes union ministers, opposition MPs, chief ministers, political party leaders, journalists, public figures, business personalities and women's activists.
In a spate of violence that broke out on September 7, at least 50 people were killed in Muzaffarnagar and neighboring towns and villages after a Muslim man was killed by the brother and cousin of a Hindu girl after allegedly harassing her. The two killers -- from the Hindu Jat community -- were reportedly lynched by the family of the slain Muslim and others in the locality.
Singh expressed concern over increasing incidents of communal violence, stressing that anyone found guilty of such acts would be punished.
"The government needs to take every step possible to deal with this violence," he said.
The premier said the NIC meeting was of special significance in view of the communal violence in the Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India's most populous state.
In an apparent dig at state lawmakers, the Indian premier said that social media was being used to fan communal tension, asserting that anyone involved in communal violence -- from any political party -- would be punished.
Three UP lawmakers, two of whom belong to the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have recently been arrested and accused of making "inflammatory" speeches.
One lawmaker allegedly shared a fabricated video on video sharing site YouTube that served to further stoke communal tension.

Polarized voters
The prime minister accused "anti-national" forces of using small incidents to trigger communal clashes.
He also attempted to reassure minorities and more vulnerable segments of Indian society.
"We can't let any weaker section feel that they are not part of the mainstream," he said.
UP Chief Minister Akilesh Yadav called the Muzaffarnagar clashes a deliberate attempt to polarize voters ahead of 2014 parliamentary elections.
Referring to the 1992 demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, UP, by Hindu activists, Yadav also blamed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) -- a body closely associated with the BJP -- for trying to fan sectarian tensions with a controversial religious procession that Yadav had banned.
The chief minister went on to describe social media as a key platform for spreading communally sensitive material.
Nitesh Kumar, chief minister of the neighboring Bihar State, agreed. He wondered why the number of religious processions was increasing.
"Processions are now being organized when they aren't meant to take place," he said, criticizing VHP's planned procession.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, for his part, hit out at allegations against fellow BJP politicians regarding the Muzaffarnagar riots.
"Making a scapegoat of one party or group will not solve the problem" of communalism, he insisted.
In an apparent dig at Singh's ruling Congress Party, Chouhan said: "You will get votes only on the development agenda, and not minority appeasement and vote bank politics."
Interestingly, Narendra Modi, controversial chief minister of Gujarat and the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 polls, skipped the NIC meeting.
In 2002, Gujarat witnessed one of the country's worst-ever communal riots, in which at least 2000 people were killed.
Modi has been accused of complicity in the riots by a number of human rights groups and the case against him remains in court.

- Targeted women
The daylong NIC meeting will also tackle the issue of women's safety and increasing instances of crimes against women.
"It is a shameful matter that women are not treated properly," the Indian premier told NIC delegates.
"I am hopeful this meeting will come up with good suggestions for dealing with violence against women," Singh said.
He added: "A country can only progress if women can move around freely and make independent choices."

Thursday, September 05, 2013

From slumdog to top-dog

Munawar Zama the head of an English-language training and personality development institute in India, has been helping under-priviliged Indians to get life-changing opportunities

HYDERABAD (AA) - In early 1985, a nine-year-old Muslim boy from a middle class family in Nalgonda, 100 kms from Hyderabad, sat glued to his transistor radio as Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin prepared to score his third consecutive century against a formidable English team.
English-language cricket commentary emanated from the radio for 15 minutes, followed by commentary in Hindi. Every time the commentary went into English, the boy – who couldn't understand a word of it – became restless.
He impatiently waited for the Hindi commentary to hear how his hero Azharuddin was playing.
In those brief moments of excitement and restlessness, the Anglophobic boy made a decision: he must learn English.
In a posh New Delhi hotel in the August of 2013, the boy, Munawar Zama, now the CEO of an English-language training and personality development institute, was honored with the "Indian Youth Icon Award 2013" for his contributions to changing the lives of thousands of students across the country.
He has successfully trained not only students, but even blind teachers and habitual stammerers.
"I had this stammering problem since childhood," recalls Ishwar Chand Singh, a 28-year-old MBA holder from Siwan, Bihar, who attended Zama's 40-day personality-development workshop in Delhi.
"So many companies had denied me job interviews because of my stammering," he recounts.
"I visited many doctors, but after attending [Zama's] voice and accent training, I find a great improvement in myself," an excited Singh tells Anadolu Agency.
After obtaining a degree in pharmacology, Zama was offered a government job as a pharmacist in a remote village, which he declined.
His teacher, Hammad Ahmad Alwi, who ran an institute called HOBZ, convinced the young man's family that Zama would have a bright future if he pursued a career in English.
Zama began his English teaching career at a free weekly workshop organized by Siyasat newspaper, where hundreds of students would turn up each Sunday. Every week, the number of students rose.
He was soon introduced to Sirajuddin Quraishi, president of Delhi's famous India Islamic Cultural Center (IICC). "Life completely changed after that," Zama tells AA.
In 2008, Zama launched an annual 40-day "personality development workshop" organized by the IICC.
"Since 2008, at least 5000 people have been trained in our workshop, of which at least 60 percent are now working with multinational companies," boasts Wadood Sajid, a veteran journalist and adviser to the IICC president.
Zama has also volunteered a 60-episode voice and accent training course for leading television channel Zee Salaam, for which he was awarded the Young Achievers Award in 2010.
In 2011, he bagged the Rajiv Gandhi Global Excellence Award. The following year, he was awarded the World Human Rights Protection Association Award.
- Inspirational
The life of Syed Kazim, a blind teacher from a Hyderabad slum, changed drastically after meeting Zama.
Kazim, who is a Hafiz, or memorizer of the Quran, sat on the floor of the Babul Uloom religious school as Zama taught young students the ABCs of English.
He listened attentively to every word, eventually mustering the courage to tell Zama that even he could learn English.
"The only English I knew was the alphabet," Kazim told AA. "But deep down in my heart, I always wanted to learn the language."
"Although it was for students, the training was a golden opportunity for me," says a jubilant Kazim.
Two months later, Zama accompanied Kazim to a number of schools and workshops, where teachers were spellbound listening to the blind teacher.
On one such occasion, Kazim was granted a monthly pension of 1000 rupees (roughly $15) by a charitable trust. On another occasion, an anonymous donor made him a gift of 20,000 rupees (some $300).
- Motivational
Zama recalls when one of his students, a 25-year-old woman, was told she might soon lose her vision.
"I am praying to Allah so I can read Quran... Just give me sight to recite Quran," the girl said at one of Zama's training sessions.
A couple weeks later, Zama invited Kazim, the blind teacher, to deliver a speech at a training session that the girl was attending. Listening to the blind teacher brought tears to her eyes.
"I once asked Allah for sight to recite Quran. Now I have no objection if Allah makes me blind if He wishes. I can recite Quran, I can memorize Quran," she tells AA enthusiastically.
"If a blind teacher from a slum can [learn English] within a span of two months, why can't I?" she adds.
Zama believes that this kind of positive energy that he helps instill in his students makes them believe that they can do anything – regardless of their everyday problems.
"These kinds of things motivated me; I can do wonders through personality development workshops," he tells AA proudly.
- Unique charity
Zama has also trained children at Mukam, India's largest orphanage, where orphans from across the country receive free education.
"Zama devised new means to teach and reach out to poor orphans, as none of them understood a word of English," Haji Mon, a trustee of the orphanage, tells AA. "We have seen a major improvement in the children's communication skills."
Many believe Zama is helping the poor and underprivileged in a unique way, rather than by simply giving them handouts.
"It is a unique way of doing charity," Dr. Rafique, an adviser to the Shadaan Group, which runs five medical colleges, tells AA.
"Zama has a God-given talent, which he is effectively utilizing in furthering the cause of lingual empowerment," he adds. "In fact, Zama's work is an act of economic empowerment as well."
Singh, the stammerer, is a case in point.
It was at Zama's training course in 2011 that he received a job offer from Hind Agro Industries Limited, India's largest meat processing company.
"Zama and the IICC believed in me at a time when I was being rejected by the corporate world just because of my stammering," recalls an emotional Singh.