Update: Thu May 25 12:24:27 IST 2006
My request to have the URL for this page posted to the list/website that posted links to the LB/Foss.in managers response to my open letter has been turned down. Details here.
It took the managers of BLUG/Linux-Bangalore 8 whole months to "conjure up" a reply to my open letter and they have only managed to come up with a lousy attempt at deception that even someone totally unrelated to the BLUG was able to point out inconsistencies in their explaination.
Their main strategy seems to be to question my credibility, with their claim that I was booted out because of my incompetence. And they were magnanimous in keeping it a secret. If that were even remotely true, I would have never have come out against them in the open.
From what I've gathered the "response" to my letter was drafted by Atul Chitnis, and a whole bunch of people were approached to add their names to the letter and unsurprisingly not everyone seems to have consented!
I'd like to point out that my open letter wasn't meant to be a personal attack on any individual and I never mentioned anyone by name, but their response is quite clearly a vicious attack on me/my credibility (Top-5 on google for Kingsly John) and leaves me no choice but to cite names here though I've tried to minimise it as much as possible, I'm sorry if it leaves the 8 of you feeling stupid about the kind of illogical and baseless lies that you've affixed your name to, but you should have been smart enough to read what you were affixing your name to. The online world is not very different from the offline one. Always read and understand before affixing your name to a document. I definitely held some of you in much higher regard until I saw your names at the bottom of that page.
And like my original letter, I have stuck to providing details which are readily available to the public as much as possible, and have resorted to non-verifiable information only where absolutely necessary.
In addition, Kingsly John had taken possession of all the accounts papers for the 2002 event to get them processed by his auditor. He then went out of town, and became unavailable, even though he knew that we had to file accounts on or before the 30th of September, 2003. We repeatedly asked him to return the papers, but to no avail. He eventually returned the account papers in October 2003, without any audit having been done.
There are so many things wrong with that one, that I'll begin with the most blatant lie. Which makes all the other accusations hollow.
Last date for filing of return For four categories namely: A. Companies B. All auditable cases C. Working partner of auditable firms, D. Persons covered other than one by six scheme, the last date for filing of return is 31st October 2003. For all others the last date was 31st July, 2003
So it's quite obvious the real reason for my exit from the BLUG on Oct 8th, 2003 or the request for wanting the papers returned from the CA is something else. It's definitely not that I failed to get the task completed on time.
I gave up my position as the BLUG co-ordinator in May 2003, and yet offered to get the BLUG accounts audited by the CA firm that my company had been using for 10 years instead of approaching a total stranger and expecting them to help us get away with paying as little as possible.
I'd approached the CA when I went to meet them, with regard to my own company's audit. And since the BLUG hadn't maintained a proper book of accounts, we just had a spreadsheet documenting the incomes and expenses. They arranged for someone to enter it into an acceptable format. And the BLUG was supposed to mail them a resolution appointing them as auditors, this was never done.
My trip was planned/announced well in advance and is an annual one and everyone knew I wasn't going to be back until October, And the village where my parents live had no mobile coverage back then.
I was never "repeatedly" asked to get the papers back, I got an SMS from Gopi Garge about 2 minutes after talking to him on the phone explaining the reason for the delay(the lack of the resolution appointing them as auditors) asking me to get the papers back. And I passed on the request immediately. I believe this happened a few days before I left Bangalore.
One of the first things I did when I got back to Bangalore was to contact the managers, and I was informed that the papers hadn't reached them. They'd waited for me to return instead of contacting the CA directly inspite of them having all their contact details. The papers were couriered from the CA's offices in Hyderabad on the 6th of Oct, the first working day after my return to Bangalore, and they reached Exocore's office on the 8th obviously during working hours, and I was booted out of the lists shortly before midnight.
In any case, I never had the papers with me for more than 24 hours! So their allegations that I had the papers at my house is completely baseless, especially considering the fact that none of the 8 signatories to the letter ever visited my residence during that period and more than half of them don't even know where I live!
I would request whoever maintains the BLUG.IN website to clear the offending remarks since they are totally baseless plain wrong.
We got the 2002-2003 accounts audited by Jessica Prabhakar's auditor, and published them during Linux Bangalore/2003 in the form of a booklet that was received by each of the thousands of event participants.
Of this, about Rs.15,000 will have to be paid as audit fees for three years
We chose not to reply to his "open letter" at that time as we did not want to indulge in a "he-said-we-said" battle - we really had a lot of other things on our minds.
we really had a lot of other things on our minds. -- Ah-hmm... like getting the accounts for the past two years audited ?
Every Page of those two documents ends thus.
So the self-righteous members of the BLUG Society who supposedly booted me out for not filing the returns for 2002-2003 one month ahead of schedule, have not bothered to do any audits or file IT returns since!
The audits were completed on 29.04.06, almost 8 months after my letter and on the day of the "inquisition" BLUG meet or a few days before they published their response!
Of this, about Rs.15,000 will have to be paid as audit fees for three years.
What did they wait to do 3 years of audit in one go? Some kind of bulk discount offer ?
And while they claim to have published the audited financials for 2002-2003. I have not seen them and it definitely wasn't included in the delegate kit I received.
Could anyone who might have a copy preserved please send me the same? (Surely not all "thousands" of them disappeared)
I also find it strange that under the heads of expenses, there is no mention of Taxes paid.
They had to pay legal fees because This was necessary because the BLUG society had never received tax exemption - a fact known to Biju Chacko (when he got the society registered) and his successor - Kingsly John - during his tenure as BLUG coordinator, but not revealed to the LB team until just before his departure from the team.
Tax exemption is not "received" but rather "applied for", and this was never done, and I'd informed about the managers about how it wasn't possible to get it before LB/2002 and to Atul Chitnis himself at another meeting where he was cribbing about HP having deducted TDS in one of the sponsorship cheques.
It took my CA about 5 minutes to tell me that it takes around 6-months to 1-year to get a tax-exempt status, and one needs to provide all documentation for the past years with the application. The BLUG had been dormant since it's inception and we didn't have any records to provide, not even NIL returns filed etc. I wonder how much they paid their "legal experts" for the same information.
And what exactly have they done in the 3 years since my departure about becoming tax-exempt?
I cost the BLUG nearly Rs. 150,000! These two issues placed the event in great jeopardy, and we had to seek legal opinions, else we would have faced a huge tax bill (estimated at about Rs.150,000).
Atul Chitnis' knowledge of the Indian tax system is worse than most high-school students.
They clearly show that at the beginning of the financial year 2002-2003 (when Kingsly John was still part of the LB team), the net amount available in the account was Rs.295,929.
First that should read at the end of Financial Year 2002-03, and not the beginning. And for a "profit" of Rs.3 lakhs, nobody gets taxed at 50%!
And the BLUG being a non-profit society, had certain heads of income where it could claim relief from taxes.
From what I gathered from my CA it would probably have been around Rs.20,000. In any case even with zero inputs from a CA it would have still been less than Rs.1 Lakh.
Funny that that after all these years they still can't tell how much did they actually save from the paid legal advice.
On a related note, paying taxes doesn't put anyone or anything in jeopardy.
In mid August 2001, however, it was decided that we would attempt to run the event after all. However this time, instead of banking on a huge, otherwise unmotivated group of people, we narrowed the list down to a small set of people, whose names can be seen at here. Most of the team members were also BLUG members, but the event itself was deemed as "facilitated by the BLUG", not organised by it. The event was announced to be held in December 2001, at the August BLUG meet.
We did not make it clear in August 2001, when we announced the second attempt at getting an event running (after the failure of the first attempt), that this time, it wasn't a BLUG event, but a small group of people who were actually organising the event. This ommission has continued to haunt us since then, but at the same time we had no objections at all to the BLUG getting credit and being lauded for the event.
[All emphasis above added by me.]
The reason why it wasn't made clear was because it was always a BLUG event!
Here is proof straight from the proverbial horse's mouth!
From: Atul Chitnis Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 02:50:43 +0530 (IST) 6% of BLUG list members are participating (even in a passive/lurk way) in the Linux Bangalore/2001 event, a national event organised *by* the BLUG. May I humbly suggest that if you trying to hurt the new BLUG coordinator and his team, who are working so hard to give the BLUG its own and recognised event, you are doing a damn good job of it?
Note that this was less than one month before the event!
Or take a look at the call for sponsorship in 2002 [PDF] when I was organising the event.
Every single page of that document screams out BLUG!
In fact there was no seperate managers list until Nov 15, 2001, and all discussions about the event happend on the non-tech list and were then moved to the lb-2001 list.
The BLUG was "legal fiction", and was always just a bunch of people.
It's a classic case of tunnel vision, they are so focused on those two words, that they've missed out the rest of the mail.
There is no entity called Linux-India for BLUG to be a chapter of (at least legally). Legally, BLUG is a independent entity.
or about the MoA
Nevertheless, I was very careful to see that it was a fair document should we ever actually decide to operate by it's rules.
When we started approaching the sponsors and opened a bank account in the name of the BLUG. We did just that, we started to operate by those very rules.
Kingsly John claims that he was unaware of the BLUG and the LB event being different things, and that the event was organised by the BLUG, not by a separate team of people. Here is a message, which has been taken from the LB managers private list, posted by him. Item 4 in this message proves that he knew about the fact that LB and the BLUG were not the same thing, and that he was very much in favour for a more public differentiation between the two.
Contrary to Atul's definition of private/public, all managers mails were definitely private communication.
And this mail in particular is taken completely out of context.
All I can say is what is mentioned is something completely different and it was something that was planned but never materialised, like a LOT of other things that were discussed on the managers list. It was supposed to be a preventive measure to protect LB/2003 from a hostile takeover by "outsiders" exploiting loopholes in the society's rules/MoA.
This was felt necessary because the BLUG was cash rich and lacked a strong quorum, making it an easy target for such a manoeuvre
Mr. Chitnis would *NEVER* make all the managers mails public, not because it's hard, all the has to do is change an Yahoo! Groups option. But because it'll expose a LOT of things he'd rather not be made public.
The BLUG society was never closed, and is very much alive, though we had at one point begun proceedings to shut it down. Kingsly John was well aware of every minute detail related to this, and was part of all discussions in 2003 related to this. When we began the shutdown procedure, backdated papers were needed which had to be signed by Kingsly, as he was a member of the board during 2002. He signed these papers in 2004.
The papers to close the society were never submitted, for no other reason that by then everyone was busy with LB/2004.
I was never aware of the move to shutdown the BLUG Society, until I noticed a re-organisation on the BLUGs website and changes in the WHOIS output for the domains.
The "paperwork" that I signed were dated 2002/2003 and had nothing to do with dissolving the society and duplicates of those already signed by me during my tenure but worded right. Mostly things like my resignation letter and another resolution IIRC was appointing Gopi as the president.
The papers to close the society were never submitted, for no other reason that by then everyone was busy with LB/2004.
That has to be the lamest and most illogical statement in the whole letter. This is apparently how things work in Mr. Chitnis' world...
IANAL, but I'd say in the real world that resolution dated early 2004, would be null and void. And even if it were legal, the whole act of collecting money in the name of a dissolved society would probably involve some jail time.
Incidentally, this was the only point in my open letter where I was wrong. I assumed that when a resolution was passed to shutdown the society it would have been filed with the registrar of societies.Had I know it hadn't been done. I would definitely have tried to do something about it in 2004 itself.
As we had no formal organization available, we used the dummy BLUG society for this purpose. This was known to the team of LB/2002, which can be seen here, and specifically Kingsly John, who was the BLUG coordinator at that time, and even had the account opened in an SBI branch near his office to make it easy for him to access it.
If the event was really something being organised by the bunch of us managers, all that was needed to open an account for it was a bunch of rubber stamps and letterheads.
We used the BLUG Society because it was a BLUG event!(And there is no such thing as a "dummy BLUG society")
even had the account opened in an SBI branch near his office to make it easy for him to access it.
That statement is funny on so many levels that I laughed out when I read it, I only visited the "office" he refers to collect mails which was maybe once or twice in a month. Just about everyone knows I've been working out of my apartment since early 2001 when I finally got a phoneline at home.
That branch of the SBI would be the absolute last place, I would have liked to bank at. They refused to let me open an account for lack of a PAN number when I moved to Bangalore in Feb 2000, inspite of my having someone to introduce me!
And I had to travel and extra 1-2kms everytime I had to drop by the bank.
My first choice of bank was HDFC Bank, and I'd got all the relevant information and application forms from them. But there was a delay in getting the resolution signed as no one knew how to contact the then "President" of the society
Thanks to Atul withholding certain communications from the sponsors from the LB/2 managers team it became necesary to open an account at very short notice and we couldn't wait the 2 days that most private banks took to open an account. Since we had to get the account opened on the same day.(barely 2-3 hours of notice) The SBI was the only place I knew where I could get someone to come introduce us if they so demanded. There was abolutely no other consideration.
The account itself was opened with Gopi (Vice-President of BLUG) signing on behalf of the president.
We should have opened a "conference account" instead of an account for the society to accept sponsorship for the events. None of us had any experience with this, and frankly we were badly advised, and just continued to act on that advice. Sponsors always sponsored the event, not the society, and therefore had no issues with what account they were paying the amount to, and in fact it is common practice to pay sponsorships in the name of the event, not in the name of the (perceived) organisers.
More lies, that was exactly what I proposed right at the beginning because I was involved with organising events in my college(Both for the CS Dept. and the college itself). And we always had an account specifically for the event.
That proposal was shot down, because it was felt that would add more work if the BLUG wanted to do something else/during some other time of the year.
Which is why the BLUG was able to receive/spend money on various other things. Some of the activities that were funded by the BLUG were...
None of the above expenses were in anyway related to Linux-Bangalore/200x
Similarly, the domains "linux-bangalore.org/.com/.net" have never actually belonged to the BLUG - they were all purchased by Atul Chitnis and paid for by him and other well wishers.
Mr. Chitnis was the webmaster for the BLUG's websites and obviously wrote and maintained this section of the site.
According to the minutes of the meet where the BLUG's new website/domains were announced.
* All domains have been registered in the name of the Bangalore Linux User Group, which is a registered not-for-profit society. Sponsorship for the domains will be cycled annually to prevent single-person control over them.
AFAIK any property belongs to whoever's name is on the title deeds. This was the registrant for LINUX-BANGALORE.ORG on Thu Aug 5 03:28:18 2004
Domain ID:D74585465-LROR Domain Name:LINUX-BANGALORE.ORG Created On:03-Jul-2001 05:40:37 UTC Last Updated On:29-Jun-2004 20:35:20 UTC Expiration Date:03-Jul-2005 05:40:36 UTC Registrant ID:tuzD128WIv9osXRz Registrant Name:The Coordinator Registrant Organization:Bangalore Linux Users Group Registrant Street1:#94, 3rd Cross, 8th A Main Registrant City:Bangalore Registrant State/Province:KA Registrant Postal Code:560034 Registrant Country:IN Registrant Phone:+91.803440397 Registrant FAX:+91.803341137 Registrant Email:bijuNO_SPAMchack0@yahoo.com
All 3 domains had the same "Registrant" information from the time of their registration (03-Jul-2001) till sometime in mid-2004 when the .com and .net became property of "Linux Bangalore" But the .org retained the same information until almost a year later.
The lists have never belonged to the BLUG, and have never claimed to represent the BLUG - see this message for a clear statement about this in 2001.
Sid Carter provided the following timeline which should conclusively prove that the lists do not belong to Mr. Chitnis by any stretch of imagination.
The BLUG Timeline ----------------- Feb 27, 1999 - Bangalore Linux User Group Announcement list is created. The list was named ilug-bangalore with the intention that this was one of the chapters of Linux-India. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/1 Mar 20, 1999 - First Meeting of the Bangalore Linux User Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/6 Aug 05, 1999 - The ilug-bangalore list is open for discussions. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/12 Sep 30, 1999 - Announcement of the availability of stall for Linux India, sponsored by PCQuest. First public participation of Linux India in an event. It will be a huge success. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/128 Jun 30, 2000 - "Agreed, and I disagree with a seperate site for ILUG-BLR. We are Linux India - let's be proud of that and stick to one banner." "Criticism is good. Silence is bad." http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/808 Aug 05, 2000 - A proposal to register the BLUG as a not-for-profit society is made. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/1277 Oct 19, 2000 - The Memorandum of Association is posted and the potential founder members are identified. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/1489 Jan 12, 2001 - The ilug-bangalore has three lists. ilug-bangalore list returns to announce-only status. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/2103 Jan 13, 2001 - The Bangalore LUG gets a website - http://bangalore.linux-india.org http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/2104 Mar 05, 2001 - The Talk Schedule for Bang!inux 2001 is posted. Bang!inux 2001 will be the trigger for Linux Bangalore. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/2115 Jul 28, 2001 - The list names are changed from ilug-bangalore@ to linux-bangalore@ This signals the seperation for Bangalore LUG from the Linux India Organisation. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/2156 Aug 26, 2001 - Linux Bangalore/2001 is announced on 26th August - the 10th Birthday of Linux. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/2166 Apr 28, 2005 - The name "Linux Bangalore" is being phased out. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore/message/2389
Kingsly John was personally responsible for the design and printing of these banners which showed the role of the BLUG in the event. Some of these banners can be seen here.
More lies, I had nothing to do with the stage design/decoration. I believe it was handled by a firm with extensive rapport with Atul Chitnis/Exocore.
Original summary posted on blug.in is now missing! It contained something to the effect of the printer being a friend of mine. The printer Atul refers to wasn't in charge of stage decoration/banners and only helped with the Delegate passes and Stickers. I was merely the point of contact since I was introduced to him by a regular BLUG member.
The choice of the word "facilitated" over "organised" or "BLUG presents LB/200x" was a conscious decision since we wanted speakers/delegates from all over the country to attend. And felt that not overly high-lighting the BLUG might help to that end.
The only reason they even bothered to respond to my letter is because they fscked up with managing FOSS.IN, and now expect the BLUG to bail them out of their financial crisis.
The now disappeared summary from the blug.in site, mentioned that the losses were suffered due to "sponsors" which is a ridiculous statement in itself, would really "interesting" to read how Mr. Chitnis would explain that.
"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
I would suggest that the current board of the BLUG society step down due to the slipshod manner in which they have run the society until now and make way for fresh blood to take charge of the BLUG.
Though I disagree, If people feel money will lead to politics get rid of the bank account but keep the society alive. It'll be a valuable to tool to make ourselves heard with the government/industry in the years to come. There will be issues like Software Patents and IP rights which will keep making their appearance from time to time in the coming years. And having an organisation with an illustrious history like the BLUG would definitely help in making our voices heard.
-- Kingsly John May 23rd, 2006