Does this man have a case?

Indo-Canadian Akhil Sachdeva, an accountant originally from Delhi, is suing the U.S. government for his shabby treatment in the aftermath of 9/11. But does he have a case?

Akhil Sachdeva

Chaining him to a bench at the FBI’s Manhattan office on Dec. 20, 2001, federal agents demanded to know his religious and political beliefs, asked whether he had taken flying lessons and sought his personal views about the suicide hijackers…

… 30 or 40 armed agents barged into the uncle’s home where he was staying and took him away. At the FBI’s offices, they shackled his legs to a steel bench and interrogated him for four to five hours, never offering him a call to his family or lawyer, he said…

Sachdeva said he was later taken to the Passaic County Jail, where he was strip-searched and put in a cell with dozens of inmates… He and the other seven plaintiffs say their biggest fear came from guards who threatened them and the police dogs that were routinely paraded. “… suddenly there are eight or 10 officers holding dogs, then they took us in small corridors and pushed us against the walls, and the dogs were two inches away,” Sachdeva said. “They started barking and it was so terrifying.”‘They… pushed us against the walls, and the dogs were two inches away’

Other inmates called them terrorists, and one punched him in the face…

“One day I have everything, the next day they destroyed my life and I was not even charged for anything… I had done no crime… how can they treat people that way?” [Link]

His ex-wife’s involvement makes me wonder whether she was using an accusation of terrorism for some score-settling at the hands of the U.S. government, like some have done in Afghanistan:

He said his ex-wife told him an FBI agent had come by with questions about a Muslim employee of the gas station… She asked him to speak to the agent, Sachdeva said, and he went to the FBI office on Dec. 9, 2001, where he was politely questioned by two agents. He said he told them he was planning to return to Canada and they told him that was fine. [Link]

I’m not a lawyer, but it doesn’t seem like Sachdev has a case on the detention alone. He had overstayed his 30-day tourist visa, which gives law enforcement wide latitude on detention. Though he wasn’t offered a lawyer, he was detained just three months after 9/11. The case seems stronger when it comes to illegal detention practices, such as being threatened by dogs. None of this means Sachdev was treated fairly, but it does mean his case might be weak.

On Dec. 27, 2001, Sachdeva received a notice to appear at an immigration court in Newark, N.J. He conceded he had overstayed his U.S. visa and the judge told him that he would be deported to Canada or India within 30 days.

But he remained jailed for 3 1/2 more months before being released on April 17, 2002. He was driven straight to an airport and, in handcuffs, put on a flight to Toronto, with no money. [Link]

Unilike Sachdeva, who is Hindu, most of the detainees in this suit were Muslim and, of course, devoid of links to terrorism. As usual, the government is denying any mistreatment.

50 thoughts on “Does this man have a case?

  1. Akhil’s case is obviously tragic. Whats even more tragic is the number of men/boys who are still languishing in cages at Gitmo with no recourse to Courts or ability to prove their innocence.

    The system which got these men detained in the first place is so flawed that the majority of the detainees have already been set free. I am not sure how you prove that you are not a terrorist from your cage in Gitmo. For the ones still in Gitmo, you have to wonder how long will they be kept there and what avenue do they have to prove their innocence.

    I know they have recently started secret Military Tribunals to deal with the Gitmo detainees but the whole process is secretive and no one knows whats happening there.

  2. Does he have a case? May be yes because we live in the times of nuisance litigation, what Mr. Sachdeva fails to point out in his story is the other side of the picture. 9/11 ruffled many feathers and there was widespread chaos. Agreed there were some alleged unwarranted incidents like this one, but I would rather be serched then dead becuase someone failed to check the backpack of a terrorist like in the London Subway.

  3. Agreed there were some alleged unwarranted incidents like this one, but I would rather be serched then dead becuase someone failed to check the backpack of a terrorist like in the London Subway.

    what probable causes would make searches permissible? how long can a government hold a person without probable cause? in respect to the above, is akhil sachdeva’s internment justifiable.

  4. The person responsible for Mr. Sachdeva situation is Osama Bin laden, just as he was responsible for the death of around 3000 people on 9/11. Civil trial rules are just not applicable to war situation, and there are many innocent casualties. It amazes me that people can be so clueless to the realities of the situations when criticizing the security forces of this country. We live in a society run by humans, and mistakes will be made by young security officers toeing th efine line between national security and personal freedoms. Given the choice, I would err on side of security.

  5. Assuming Sachdev is telling truth it is going to be difficult for him. Its unlikely the prison gaurds would leave evidence (like abu garib where they took pictures for fun). so its going to be sachdev says this and gaurds deny it. And his detention appears valid given the context in which it happened.

  6. I would rather be serched then dead becuase someone failed to check the backpack of a terrorist like in the London Subway.

    I’d rather die like a man than live like a coward.

  7. Your callousness actually surpasses your ignorance.

    It is easy to sit and cast judgement when you have no idea where I am coming from, callous is the last adjective that can describe me, you and the other propenents of civil liberties have the faintest idea what would happen if all the people who were suspects were let go because it will interfere with their civil rights. The world as we know is changed because of 9/11 and other such incidents. I am not trying to justify unlawful detention and I am not really sure how you can cast judgements based on one side of the story where this can very well be a case of someone trying to make a quick buck. Once again before you go on a rant I AM NOT SAYING THAT THE CASE IS UNFOUNDED, all I am saying is refrain from such knee jerk reactions. If not you have your right to free speech.

  8. I’d rather die like a man than live like a coward.

    It is amazing what lengths some people go to stretch an unfounded argument, if you want to argue on logic not emotions. You don’t have the faintest clue how it feels to be blown up by a suicide bomber, or worse survive that bombing and live a crippled existence there on. So before you make such bold statements stop and think.

  9. Does he have a case? May be yes because we live in the times of nuisance litigation, what Mr. Sachdeva fails to point out in his story is the other side of the picture. 9/11 ruffled many feathers and there was widespread chaos. Agreed there were some alleged unwarranted incidents like this one, but I would rather be serched then dead becuase someone failed to check the backpack of a terrorist like in the London Subway.

    Can someone else take this one? I’m tired and I don’t feel like stating the obvious… like, for example, out of the thousands of people detained and deported after 9/11 in the US, how many have actually had a charge of “terrorism” stick? Or the fact that this is yet another example of rampant racial profiling? England and the US are much more likely to be bombed by whites than they are by browns. And yet… and yet… you feel safer now that our fellow sandn*****s are being profiled and detained and deported. Brilliant!

  10. It is amazing what lengths some people go to stretch an unfounded argument, if you want to argue on logic not emotions. You don’t have the faintest clue how it feels to be blown up by a suicide bomber, or worse survive that bombing and live a crippled existence there on. So before you make such bold statements stop and think.

    Sounds like you’re the one arguing based on emotions, friend.

  11. I agree Ranjit there is no point stating the obvious, no one is happy with any kind of race being profiled, you are totally missing the point. The point I am trying to make is that we know one side of the story and not that it is OK to profile.

  12. I am not trying to justify unlawful detention and I am not really sure how you can cast judgements based on one side of the story where this can very well be a case of someone trying to make a quick buck

    We are not talking about one isolated case. Go and read the US Inspector Generals report on the systematic abuses that took place and the concerted, coordinated attempts by more than a few detention guards to intimidate and assault the detainees. Of course the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey was not as bad as the one in Brooklyn but even in the Passaic County Jail, two people were bitten by dogs.

    you and the other propenents of civil liberties have the faintest idea what would happen if all the people who were suspects were let go because it will interfere with their civil rights.

    Let me stop you before you launch into your Jack Nicholson impersonation. No one is talking about releasing the suspects. Dont create a strawman of lily-livered civil libertarians who are hell bent on putting the nation at risk, and then proceed to sit down on your bulldozer of pragmatism to destroy the civil libertarians and keep the nation safe.

    We are talking here about a pattern of systematic abuses within the prison system in NY and NJ. There is no justification for vicious beatings, assaults, racial/religious intimidation by state actors, denial of basic human rights and so on. This has nothing to do with releasing the suspects.

    If you do want to talk about the detention of the ‘suspects’, the government has an appallingly bad track record of identifying the suspects. What we do know is that in the thousands of immigrants who were detained in the US after 9-11, only ONE has been indicted for charges which has something to do with terrorism. Mind you, we are not talking about people convicted here. We are talking about people who were CHARGED. If only one person out of about 3,000-4,0000 men detained is charged with terrorism, it does lead me to question the motives and the efficacy of the government sweep.

    Hell, if I were to do a sweep of my neighborhood and arrest thousands of random men, even in my affluent area I am sure I would get more than one person who is a member of some militia wanting to blow up the Federal District Court in the downtown area.

  13. You don’t have the faintest clue how it feels to be blown up by a suicide bomber, or worse survive that bombing and live a crippled existence there on.

    Were you killed by a suicide bomber or crippled for life?

  14. like, for example, out of the thousands of people detained and deported after 9/11 in the US, how many have actually had a charge of “terrorism” stick?

    Last I checked, they were upto a grand total of ONE.

  15. It amazes me that people can be so clueless to the realities of the situations when criticizing the security forces of this country. We live in a society run by humans, and mistakes will be made by young security officers toeing th efine line between national security and personal freedoms. Given the choice, I would err on side of security.

    your country, you have the power to make it what you want. unfortunately sachdev’s case cuts a little too close to me. and i get a cold sweat what would happen if i get picked up – no one to speak up for me within shouting distance. no legal help. so unless you’re planning to send me your phone number to speak for me my dear fellow, I can not be as sanguine as you. just grit the teeth and march on through.

  16. Were you killed by a suicide bomber or crippled for life?

    God you are smart, which is evident from your comments and your affiliation with ACLU. Yes I was killed and this is my ghost responding to your asinine comments.

  17. like, for example, out of the thousands of people detained and deported after 9/11 in the US, how many have actually had a charge of “terrorism” stick?

    Last I checked, they were upto a grand total of ONE

    Considering the fact that most terrorist cannot be tried in civil courts….and trial made into a circus, I am glad its only one. How many attacks have happened since 9/11…None. Something is working.

  18. I can not be as sanguine as you. just grit the teeth and march on through.

    ever the optimist – it will be a good opportunity for some dark brooding type sepiate actor to play me when they make a desi version of “in the name of the father”. you all better start taking classes from DD to build up your legs. i want to be portrayed realistically when being dragged away naked from the cell.

  19. God you are smart, which is evident from your comments and your affiliation with ACLU.

    Intead of ruminating on my lack of smartness, why dont you educate yourself and read this scathing report by the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice.

    A Review of the Treatment of Aliens Held on Immigration Charges in Connection with the Investigation of the Septemner 11 Attacks.

    http://files.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/ins/usdojig060203rpt.pdf

  20. Considering the fact that most terrorist cannot be tried in civil courts….and trial made into a circus, I am glad its only one. How many attacks have happened since 9/11…None. Something is working.

    Only one has been charged. That means the rest of them were innocent. So the sweep of thousands of men had no bearing on the lack of terrorist attacks as all of the immigrants save one were innocent.

  21. It amazes me that people can be so clueless to the realities of the situations when criticizing the security forces of this country.

    How long have you been on SM?

    How many attacks have happened since 9/11…None. Something is working.

    I would not be surprised if at least a dozen 911 type or London subway type attacks have been foiled by this administration. I think I personally saw a couple of cases: I take the train to-from Penn Station daily. On two occassions(in 2003 and 2005), they abruptly closed the station and gave the reason as “suspected fire”. Then suddenly we would see SWAT teams (why do you need a SWAT team for a fire?) and 2-3 people whisked away. They would reopen the station an hour later. No signs of fire or smoke. The folks who worked in the newspaper/pizza stalls said that they were told to lay down on the ground and not make a sound for an hour.

    It’s a tough job – when you successfully foil a plot, you cannot announce it so to avoid panic. If you don’t foil a plot, you’re disgraced and fired.

    M. Nam

  22. Only one has been charged. That means the rest of them were innocent. So the sweep of thousands of men had no bearing on the lack of terrorist attacks as all of the immigrants save one were innocent.

    But many have been deported. If you have any idea of civil trials, it would be almost impossible to convict someone of terroris, How would you get witnesses to testify. Heck, if they had caught Atta, with papercutters before he blew himself up, it would be almost impossible to convict him of terrorism. I don’t want to play with lawyers and ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ as spies by their very nature are clandestine.

  23. Intead of ruminating on my lack of smartness, why dont you educate yourself and read this scathing report by the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice.

    I am not ruminating on your smartness or lack there of, FACT: I am from Israel and I wish there were detentions of suspects so that I didn’t lose friends and family to suicide bombings. FACT: You have no idea how it feels to look back and think what would have happened if there was a way to stop this madness. FACT: There will be cases which are not justified but if it makes millions of people safe, I would take the unjustified over death of loved ones.

    I will definitely read the report and maybe we can discuss it another time

  24. I am not ruminating on your smartness or lack there of, FACT: I am from Israel and I wish there were detentions of suspects so that I didn’t lose friends and family to suicide bombings. FACT: You have no idea how it feels to look back and think what would have happened if there was a way to stop this madness. FACT: There will be cases which are not justified but if it makes millions of people safe, I would take the unjustified over death of loved ones.

    hey man.. i sympathize with you but right now excuse me for not having broader concerns than my own ass. i’m just a selfish guy. i dont want to go to jail, and if i do i want to come out in one piece.
    This is really bringing out the teen in me – It’s all about me… See… i cant help looking like a radical dude. this past month alone I’ve been reached out to by the following

  25. fierce looking guy mullah type with brownish teeth and long bushy beard and a muslim prayer cap. as i walked away he started swearing loudly.
  26. orthodox jewish girl with scarf and long black skirt reaching below the ankles. she was actually quite cute and i wish we could tlak longer.
  27. big fat 300 pound ex-army guy at the airport who wanted to talk to me about his posting in oman or someplace and practice his arabic or something. i made scarce fast. i’d rather not look the part but i cant help but look like i’m from that! region. plus i carry a canadian passport and this is not even going over the questions asked at the border – about religion and flight schools and stuff. That could be my mug shot up there instead of sachdev.
    I dont want to change the world. i just want to go hiking and not to become collateral damage to your sense of security old chap. But I’m willing to take it for the team really… since I’m doing this for you I hope you will post bail, pay for my attorneys and compensate for my income loss if they reach out- i get paid for sales so i hope you understand what a couple of months in the slammer would do to me – plus i pay my health insurance – and i hope you will take care of the loan, credit card payments which i wont be handle from within the cell. Send me your phone number and keep your credit card handy. I’m sure you will help, no?
  28. The leap from “i’m willing to undergo some kinda profiling topossibly save some lives” to “i’m willing to undergo this for me and my friends/relatives” seems too far. Then again, maybe i think that way becuz i’ve never been directly affected…

  29. FACT: There will be cases which are not justified but if it makes millions of people safe, I would take the unjustified over death of loved ones.

    And the ironic thing is this is EXACTLY the reasoning used by the ‘terrorists’, i.e. one unjust thing in exchange for the good of all my loved ones.

    If we allow the powers that be to have concessions on justice (one of the most important aspects of a democracy) at what point do we say STOP, no more concessions? By that stage it’ll probably be too late.

    Security is very important, but we shouldn’t sell ourselves short. We should expect governments to provide security without eroding the justice system or our personal liberties. If they can’t deliver, then we can tell them to f**k off and elect someone who is capable and competent.

  30. Andhra Pradesh has tried both the soft and the hard approach to Naxalites. Neither seems to have worked. Why did neither approach work?

    On a different note, why was India’s struggle for freedom peaceful? Why didn’t we become terrorists for the British? Were the British more humane than other conquerors? Or were we more civilized than other conquered subjects?

  31. @#30,

    so was the civil rights movement in the US, or the anti-apartheid struggle (largely) in SA. i don’t think the reason is among the choices you mention, more probably, it is a more complex combination of events, culture and personalities.

  32. On a different note, why was India’s struggle for freedom peaceful? Why didn’t we become terrorists for the British? Were the British more humane than other conquerors? Or were we more civilized than other conquered subjects?

    India’s struggle for freedom wasn’t “peaceful” (i.e. “nonviolent”). Most of the mainstream, compromising “leaders” who became famous during the struggle denounced and buried some of this history, and certainly the dominating white/European narrative is at the core of that process, but there were plenty of people engaging in all kinds of armed struggle, from “terrorism” to forming diasporic revolutionary armies. The people had been fighting by any means necessary since the beginning of British occupation.

    The idea that our struggle was some kind of nonviolent one is misleading – about as misleading as saying the Black Liberation Movement achieved its means through ideological nonviolence.

    There is no nonviolent revolution. Sorry. Gandhi may have marched but there was a lot of other very violent shit happening during that time that was just as important.

  33. Please… the African National Congress was denounced as a terrorist organization, and the nonviolent part of the civil rights movement in America is often seen as a complete failure. It’s true that the South African movement became nonviolent in some ways once the state had totally cracked down, but don’t pretend that the violent end of it wasn’t a key part as well… And don’t call it a nonviolent movement if it wasn’t really.

    The only reason some marginal gains were won in America was because of the complex pressures mounting on the state, mostly violent ones. The Vietnam War was draining the country externally and the threat of constant urban rebellion – articulated more forcefully and ideologically at the advent of Black Power and the Black Liberation Movement – was very immediate. This is why the country caved at all. Please don’t buy into these silly stereotypes and myths about holding hands and chanting and “overcoming them with our capacity to love”.

  34. I am not ruminating on your smartness or lack there of, FACT: I am from Israel and I wish there were detentions of suspects so that I didn’t lose friends and family to suicide bombings. FACT: You have no idea how it feels to look back and think what would have happened if there was a way to stop this madness. FACT: There will be cases which are not justified but if it makes millions of people safe, I would take the unjustified over death of loved ones.

    Here’s a solution to suicide bombings in Israel: END THE VIOLENT, TERRORIST OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE. Cracking down on security issues will never, ever, ever solve the problem. The Israeli military and police are internationally notorious for being brutal and extremely violent. Plenty of documentation on that, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to name a couple. Tell me how well Israel’s security policy has worked in solving the problem.

    Being from Israel or having close relatives who passed in the 9/11 bombings does not absolve you of understanding political realities. Put the pain in the right place. Blame the systems that created the problem, that created the violence in the first place. “Terrorists” don’t come out of the womb with a ticking time bomb strapped to their chests. There are plenty of Israelis and European Jews who oppose what’s happening over there, and can put their own experiences into perspective. Aren’t there?

  35. @#34

    Suppose, for a moment, that Israel does let go of Palestine. Will things become peaceful automagically? After all, Andhra Pradesh has never been able to get rid of the Naxalite menace, even after trying a soft approach. It is too simple to suggest that when one side becomes gentle, the other side will automatically cease to be a terrorist.

  36. Suppose, for a moment, that Israel does let go of Palestine. Will things become peaceful automagically?

    No, of course not. You can’t erase 50+ years of intense hatred (on both sides) that easily. Anyhow, comparing the Israel and Palestine security situation with the USA is silly.

    BTW, do you have some sort of monomaniacal fixation with Naxalites?

  37. He wants to sue after 4 Years…what has he been doing for 4 YEARS? He should have sued earlier if he wanted to

  38. India’s struggle for freedom wasn’t “peaceful” (i.e. “nonviolent”).

    and

    Please… the African National Congress was denounced as a terrorist organization, and the nonviolent part of the civil rights movement in America is often seen as a complete failure. It’s true that the South African movement became nonviolent in some ways once the state had totally cracked down

    and in particular:

    Most of the mainstream, compromising “leaders” who became famous during the struggle denounced and buried some of this history

    well, i have seen people parade these opinions as if they somehow know how the hush-up happened or as if they are facts. as far as i see it, and as most mainstream opinion goes, there has been no hush-up, and all three are considered largely non-violent. you can believe what you say, but you haven’t convinced me here.

    as an aside, you are not the first one to try convince me of your ideas. i have seen products of bengal education system in particular have this opinion (i know how gandhi gets treated bengal-style, i was in it for a short period at one point). many marxists (as opposed to socialists and social democrats) have the same opinion too, since the non-violent struggle sort of negates their core principle of violent revolution to dismantle the existing structure. of course, amusingly, the rss types say the same thing abt the independence struggle as well. strange bedfellows eh?

    well, none of the 3 above have any real evidence that the above cases are examples where the reform came about largely non-violently. apart from speculation and high volume of course.

  39. and of course, the last para in #38 should read

    well, none of the 3 above have any real evidence negating the premise that the above cases are examples where the reform came about largely non-violently. apart from speculation and high volume of course.
  40. Does this man have a case?

    I believe the answer is “no” simply because in September 2001 I went through a similar experience and subsequently sought legal assistance. I believed my case was strong because I am a U.S. citizen, but also knew my position was weak because the situation occurred outside the U.S. and at the hands of U.S. authorities. I was able to identify one of my interrogators and I did have a witness to corroborate some of my story, but ultimately I was unable to prove anything other than I was indeed “questioned” in another country.

    I waited a year, in large part because I was frightened and felt like I had a bulls-eye on my head… Every time I was at the airport, I was questioned; I was twice removed from planes. I worried that I’d be picked up for purchasing Miracle Gro and extension cords at Home Depot, I spent a lot of time in cities other than where I lived just to blend in and get some work done. Ultimately, however, I waited a year because I knew nothing of my options until a friend brought me to a detainment advocacy group through which I finally received quite a bit of [excellent] legal referrals and aid; if I didn’t come in contact with the group, I may have never done anything.

    The courts have changed since 2003, but they’re not so different that I see this man achieving anything more than publicity. Unlike my situation, he has the tourist visa-overstay to contend with and that alone can sink his claim, despite that he is part of a class action suit. In addition, the one thing I found is that it’s hard to prove anything other than certain people, such as myself, fit a very broad profile that justifies the action to many and trying to argue that point away is like digging a hole with toothpicks.

    I don’t know if the guy’s part of a “nuisance suit” and I can’t really weigh in on the other discussions, but I do know there are legal types here and if you have an opinion on this, I/we’d like to hear it.

  41. I will agree with AMD*,

    Overstaying doesn’t deserve this kind of punishment. And it is a sad commentary on society when someone is incarcerated and humiliated just because of malicious rumour mongering.

    • This assumes that the incident is true, if not the man should be prosecuted for bringing up fraudulent charges

    Regards

  42. IÂ’m not a lawyer, but it doesnÂ’t seem like Sachdev has a case on the detention alone. He had overstayed his 30-day tourist visa, which gives law enforcement wide latitude on detention. Though he wasnÂ’t offered a lawyer, he was detained just three months after 9/11. The case seems stronger when it comes to illegal detention practices, such as being threatened by dogs. None of this means Sachdev was treated fairly, but it does mean his case might be weak.

    I’m not a lawyer either, but the legal aspect of this revolves around a lot of technical points that 1) most people can’t engage and 2) don’t get to the heart of the matter. In my mind, there are only two conclusions a reasonable, decent person might draw from this incident, not mutually exclusive. One is that the law was violated by the government on one or more points. The other conclusion is that the law is profoundly fucked up with regard to the regime that immigrants can be subjected to.

    Basically, the question is whether or not you believe that government should have the right to roundup noncitizens of its choosing on whatever grounds it articulates and in whatever manner it sees fit because it has determined that there’s an emergency. If this isn’t authoritarianism, it’s certainly close to it.

    Of course, I just saw V For Vendetta :)

  43. well, none of the 3 above have any real evidence negating the premise that the above cases are examples where the reform came about largely non-violently. apart from speculation and high volume of course.

    bytewords, this is ridiculous. The nationalist movement(s) in South Asia had both violent and non-violent aspects to it. For example, during the 1st Partition of Bengal (1905-1912), the Extremists were among the first to advocate for outright independence and also employed political violence. To argue that this had no role in reversing that Partition (along with other nonviolent tactics like economic boycott, etc.) or in shaping the nationalist movement (along with the Gadr Revolution, the INA, Gandhi, the All India Muslim League, and many other things) is to vastly oversimplify things. It’s akin to talking about the independence movement without talking about religion.

    I don’t generally disagree with you that violence is acceptable in exceedingly unique and hopefully rare circumstances. At the same time it’s important not to be doctrinaire about things (I’m not sure if that’s what you’re engaging in here, but it sounds like it). Consider this this Slate article on Western Sahara just as a contrasting story. Here’s an excerpt:

    “The attention we give to blood and destruction also helps keep the story off the news agenda. Since the 1991 cease-fire, the Polisario have forsworn violence as a means to further their cause. The Polisario’s leaders know that if they were to resume guerrilla action, the Moroccans would be quick to cry terrorism in order to turn their powerful allies against them. Eager for the simplicity of ‘us’ against the ‘terrorists,’ the world’s press would almost certainly play along. But the paradox of an ugly world is here very evident: Without bloodshed, no one pays any attention to the Polisario. For all the celebration of the nonviolence of Mandela or Gandhi or King, in the real world pacifism has brought the Polisario virtually nothing.”

  44. Extremists were among the first to advocate for outright independence and also employed political violence. To argue that this had no role in reversing that Partition (along with other nonviolent tactics like economic boycott, etc.) or in shaping the nationalist movement (along with the Gadr Revolution, the INA, Gandhi, the All India Muslim League, and many other things) is to vastly oversimplify things.

    Not contesting that there were no extremists. But if I were to point out the dominant force in the independence struggle, I would look at Gandhi. If you look at public opinion then, Gandhi mobilized more than any of the others. That is what I mean by “largely non-violently”. It is usually also how people actively involved in the struggle remember. The rest you quote are remembered as influences, not the dominant popular force.

    True, in the end India was partitioned (the 47 one, not the 05 one you talked about) and nothing stopped the violence then. No doubt that is a tragic failure of gigantic proportions. But what is to say that this would not have happened otherwise? I am not sure anyone saw such a disaster coming other than the ones who made it happen (on either side).

    Besides, however much we nitpick about all this, there is clearly a fundamental difference in approach between the Indian struggle for independence and Palestine’s Hamas, isn’t there?

    Re: Polisario. I must confess I don’t have a deep background (though I know a bit about this). But I do not agree that world press attention will get you much. For all that we say today, Gandhi hardly had much of world press support—most of the world looked at him then with amusement, not respect. Respect came once India became independent, not the other way.

    Also, as an aside. Just ideals won’t get you anywhere. Gandhi was undoubtedly very shrewd, and I think this is just as important if you forswear violence. I know some people see this aspect of Gandhi as negative, but from my perspective he would have got nowhere without it.

  45. Bytewords,

    Please refrain from commenting about things about which you clearly lack knowledge. If you really think the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was non-violent, all you have to do is read Mandela’s stirring letters where he laments having to depart from Gandhian thought because of the realities of the situation present in the country at the time. All you have to do is to read about or watch the proceedings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in which thousands of black and Coloured South Africans applied for amnesty for violent acts committed in the name of ideology. http://www.info.gov.za/otherdocs/2003/trc/

    That was all you had to do to educate yourself before you spewed ignorance.

  46. Besides, however much we nitpick about all this, there is clearly a fundamental difference in approach between the Indian struggle for independence and Palestine’s Hamas, isn’t there?

    There’s a difference in approach between Gandhiism (as I understand it) and Hamas, yes. I’m just saying that to put South Asian nationalist movements on a pedestal and pretend that 1857, the Extremists, the INA, and many other things didn’t happen seems overly selective and simplified to me. Likewise, to argue that Hamas has been the entirety of the Palestinian Independence movement is not fair. Most of all, a consideration of the moral worth of the tactics that particular groups or populations chose (and thereby assigning them moral worth) withouht looking at the institutional and social conditions they faced is ridiculous. In other words, sometimes people like to pretend that all resistance movements that don’t eschew violence have no moral worth when it’s a lot more complicated than that, and I hope that you would acknowledge that. Arguably, if major world powers hadn’t exhausted themselves in World War II, the end of British rule in South Asia would have been much more difficult to achieve and we might be having a very different discussion right now because.

    I’m not a huge fan of Hamas regardless, and I’m sympathetic to some–maybe a lot–of what you’re saying so you could somewhat fairly call this nitpicking, but the interpretation you’re giving feeds too easily into prevalent stereotypes about Muslims, Palestinians, independence movements, Gandhi, etc.

  47. Someone Else (#46),

    So, for you 1857 and Bhagat Singh are same as Hamas ? That’s what I could glean from your nuance.

    Regards

  48. And back on topic…I am a lawyer, the yes, he does have a case. There are various tort actions he can bring (malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, etc.) The fact that he overstayed his visa is irrelevant if thats not what they arrested him for. IE: They arrested him, and then later found out he didnt have a valid visa. If they arrested him for “acting / being a terrorist” then the evidence that he overstayed his visa will be surpressed from the evidence and will never be presented to the jury.