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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 26th, 2015

by newsdigest on January 27, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Hindu widow saved 10 Muslims in Bihar riots (Jan 21, 2015, Times of India)

A Hindu woman who saved lives of 10 Muslims in this village in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district during the recent clashes in which five people died is being hailed as a hero, officials said. Shail Devi, a frail widow in her early 50s, risking her own life, gave shelter to her Muslim neighbours when a mob of more than 5,000 people attacked Azizpur Bahilwara village after a 20-year-old Hindu boy’s body was found Sunday. …

“I provided shelter to my Muslim neighbours to save their lives because the mob could have killed them,” Shail said Wednesday morning. Shail, a poor woman fighting for her survival like many others in this village, told IANS that she along with her two daughters stood guard outside her house when a mob was targeting Muslims in the village. She told them that it was a house of a ‘Mallah’ (fisherman). …

Shail, widow of late Jaglal Sahni, has become a household name in the village and neighbouring villages for her rare example of communal harmony. “She has proved again that humanity is still alive, we are proud of her,” Arvind Kumar, a villager, said. …

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/45967155.cms

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Tripura CM Manik Sarkar asks people to uphold communal harmony on 66th Republic Day (Jan 26, 2015, Economic Times)

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar today appealed to people to come forward to build a prosperous state and to protect and uphold the spirit of communal harmony and secularism.

Unfurling the tricolour at the Assam Rifles ground here, he said a small section of people in the state was trying to foment communal tension between the tribals and non tribals to divide the state and this menace could be contained with the united force of all sections of the people.

“We must uphold and protect the spirit of communal harmony, peace and secularism which can build up a strong and prosperous state as well as the country,” he said.…

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/46019082.cms

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‘My sin was I could not do anything during 2002 riots’ (Jan 22, 2015, The Hindu)

“My sin was I could not do anything during the 2002 riots,” Sahitya Akademi Award winner Esther David said at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival which began here on Wednesday.

Participating in a discussion on “Seven Deadly Sins in Our Time,” Ms. David said Ahmedabad became divided between Hindus and Muslims then and it still continues to be so under the cover of Vibrant Gujarat. …

She said communal riots were not new to Gujarat. Recalling her association with Ahmedabad, Ms. David said that between 1955 and 1995, people lived together but now there are ‘identified’ areas. Esther David’s forthcoming book is A City with A Past: Ahmedabad.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/my-sin-was-i-could-not-do-anything-during-2002-riots/article6809065.ece

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IAMC writes to President Obama to bring attention to attempts of communalisation in India (Jan 24, 2015, Twocircles.net)

In the wake of the visit of the US President Barack Obama to India, the Indian American Muslim Council, the largest advocacy group of Indian American Muslims, has written a letter to him to bring to his attention attempts of vitiating the social fabric of India.

IAMC President Umar Malick expressed his happiness on the trip and hoped that the visit will bring two countries together.… He, however, reminded the President that as signatories to the UN Declaration of Human rights, both India and the US have a shared commitment to religious freedom and human rights; and noted, “It is in this context we wish to bring to your attention deeply disturbing developments in the world’s largest democracy, that are having a profoundly negative impact on millions of religious minorities in India, including Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis.”

Even before the present administration came to power, concern over the situation of minorities in India had been expressed by the US State Department as well as the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) consistently over the last several years. While the present administration under Mr. Narendra Modi was elected to office based on a stated agenda of development and good governance, events of the last six months have alarmed everyone concerned with preserving religious freedom and protecting human rights in India.…

http://twocircles.net/2015jan24/1422097344.html

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Petition filed in US court to designate ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’ as terror group (Jan 22, 2015, Indian Express)

A Sikh rights group has filed a lawsuit asking a US court in New York to designate RSS as a “foreign terrorist organisation”. The federal court in the Southern District of New York issued summons for US Secretary of State John Kerry to respond to the suit within 60 days.

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) in the declaratory lawsuit asked the court to designate Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a foreign terrorist organisation, accusing it of “believing in and practicing a fascist ideology and running a passionate, vicious and violent campaign to turn India into a ‘Hindu’ nation with a homogeneous religious and cultural identity.”

SFJ said the RSS is making headlines for its campaign “‘The Home Coming’ to forcibly convert Christians and Muslims to Hindus.” The declaratory lawsuit requests the court that “RSS along with its affiliates and subsidiaries be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organisation…and designate RSS as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity (SDGT)”.

Accusing the RSS of targeting minorities, the petition alleged RSS involvement in the “demolition of Babri Masjid”, “instigating” army operation in Golden Temple, “burning of Churches and rape of Christian nuns” in 2008 and the Gujarat riots in 2002.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/petition-filed-in-us-court-to-designate-rashtriya-swayamsevak-sangh-as-terror-group/

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Muzaffarpur riots: Samaj Bachao Aandolan alleges Bajrang Dal, BJP hand (Jan 22, 2015, Twocircles.net)

Samaaj Bachaao Aandolan, a city based social service group, has alleged direct involvement of Bajrang Dal and the BJP in the recent communal riots at Azizpur in Muzaffarpur district. “Bajrang Dal leader Ram Pravesh Sahni and BJP MLA Ashok Singh are the main players behind Muzaffarpur riots,” alleged chief convenor Md Kashif Yunus of Samaaj Bachaao Aandolan, who had led a delegation to Azizpur on Wednesday, January 21.

The Samaaj Bachaao Aandolan delegation visited Azizupur village, stayed there for the whole day and interacted with a large number of people including some eye witnesses. “What locals are revealing is shocking because the real story of the conspiracy is not coming out in the media,” Yunus said in a release here. At least six persons were dead and scores of others injured in a communal riot that broke out at Azizpur earlier this week. The incident also saw houses of scores of people from the minority community burnt down rendering them homeless in harsh winter.

“According to locals, Bajrang Dal leader and mukhiya of Chakma, who is the right hand of local BJP MLA Ashok Singh, called a meeting in his house on January 17 in which more than 100 people participated. The very next day, body of the young boy was recovered just metres away from the house of Wasi Ahmed in Azizpur village,” Yunus said, adding, “The question arises: from where did thousands of people, mostly belonging to a specific caste, gather in Azizpur within 30-40 minutes of recovery of the boy’s body? Bahilwara Roopnath, the village to which the boy belonged to, is just two kms away from the Azizpur village from where people of a specific caste came to attack the minority population of Azizpur.”…

http://twocircles.net/2015jan22/1421950061.html

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Court rejects bail plea of 12 accused in Muzaffarnagar riots (Jan 23, 2015, DNA India)

The bail plea of 12 people, accused of attacking a police rescue team during 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, was on Friday rejected by a court.

District and Sessions Judge Vijai Laxmi rejected the bunch of petitions observing that there is no case for bail in connection with attempt to murder and rioting, said Anjum Khan, District and Assistant government counsel.

Police had registered a case against 200 unidentified people and named 14 accused after the attack on a police team which had gone to rescue people stuck in Kutba village of Shahpur area of Muzaffarnagar on September 8, 2013. Eight people were killed and 20 others injured during the riots in Kutba village.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-court-rejects-bail-plea-of-12-accused-in-muzaffarnagar-riots-2055201

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Christian villagers living in fear after Hindu nationalists burn down village church (Jan 23, 2015, Christian Today)

It was just a simple structure made of bamboo and palm thatches, but it was a place of worship for the village’s population of Indian Christians. Despite action by the police and the fire department as well as members of the church, in Tadur, Telengana state, the fire destroyed everything inside the structure. These included the church’s musical instruments, carpets and prized literature.

Attacks against the Christian minority in India have escalated over the past few months as the current Indian government appears sympathetic to Hindu fundamentalism. The ICC said that attacks range from actual physical attacks against Christians, to torching properties that are owned by Indians who are known to be Christians, and to allegations of forced conversions of the local population.

“Christians here are living as second class citizens,” Telangana Christian Joint Action Committee State Chairman, Rev. Ronald John, said to ICC. Aside from the attacks, Christians in India have another reason to worry – legislation meant to encourage “reconversions” to the Hindu faith of Christian Indians.…

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/india.christian.villagers.living.in.fear.after.hindu.nationalists.burn.down.village.church/46626.htm

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NIA absolves Liaqat Shah of all terror charges (Jan 24, 2015, Times of India)

In an embarrassment to Delhi Police, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has given a clean chit to Liaquat Shah who had been arrested by it and labelled as a terrorist two years back. The NIA, instead, named absconder Sabir Khan as the main accused who had allegedly planted weapons on Shah to project him as a militant of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen.

Ironically, according to chargesheet filed by NIA in a special court, the address of Khan alias ‘Pathan’ as mentioned in a lodge in old Delhi as well as for his SIM card was “Barrack NO. 2, Special Cell Niwas, BG 21, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi”.

The NIA, while absolving Shah of terror charges, has also submitted the report to ministry for home affairs seeking permission for carrying out investigations against two Delhi Police officials for allegedly “conspiring” to target Shah.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/46002659.cms

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Sohrabuddin encounter case: Raje govt promotes accused cop as IGP (Jan 25, 2015, Indian Express)

IPS officer Dinesh M N, accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, has been promoted by the Rajasthan government to the post of Deputy Inspector General and thereafter Inspector General with effect from May 9, 2014. A notification to this effect was released on January 23.

Dinesh has served seven years in jail in connection with the case and was released on bail four days before being reinstated. Sources said due to a favourable BJP government and particularly Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, who too was named by the CBI in the chargesheet, at the helm of affairs, Dinesh’s return to the service and promotion became possible. …

Dinesh MN, a 1995-batch IPS officer, was arrested on April 24, 2007 for his alleged role in the fake encounter of Sheikh on November 26, 2005. He was suspended from the post of Udaipur SP since then till October 28, 2007. From October 29, 2007, to February 21, 2008, he was kept on awaited posting order (APO). Later, he was yet again suspended by the previous government.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/sohrabuddin-encounter-case-raje-govt-promotes-accused-cop-as-igp/

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Urdu medium schools in a fix over Saraswati puja circular (Jan 24, 2015, The Hindu)

A circular directing municipal schools to perform Saraswati puja to mark Vasant Panchami, a festival that falls on Saturday, has left Urdu medium schools here in a quandary. L.D. Desai, officer of the school board, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, issued the circular on January 19.

It states: “All municipal schools are hereby informed that the festival of ‘Mahusud Pancham’ or ‘Vasant Panchmi’ is celebrated in worship of Goddess Saraswati…. With a view to instilling the importance of learning in students, schools should perform ‘Saraswati puja’ and ‘Saraswati Vandana’ [incantation] during the prayer session. Information on how ‘Vasant Panchami’ is celebrated in different States should also be given.”

A few of the 60 Urdu medium schools in the city, catering chiefly for Muslim children, and their parents are worried that the circular is incompatible with their faith.…

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/urdu-medium-schools-in-a-fix-over-saraswati-puja-circular/article6816972.ece

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Days after he talked of a survey of Muslims in jail, Maharashtra minority panel chief is on way out (Jan 16, 2015, Indian Express)

Days after he announced plans to commission a survey to find out the number of Muslims in Maharashtra’s jails, State Minorities Commission Chairman Munaf Hakim is set to be replaced. Sources said the Chief Minister’s Office on Wednesday took the decision to appoint a new chairman.

While the government is yet to issue an official order, a formal Government Resolution on the dissolution of the current board and the appointment of a new chairman is expected on Friday.

Hakim, who was appointed by the previous Congress-NCP government in August 2012, has completed only half of his five-year term.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/days-after-he-talked-of-a-survey-of-muslims-in-jail-maharashtra-minority-panel-chief-is-on-way-out/

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Opinions and Editorials

What was Gandhi’s Evaluation of RSS? – By Ram Puniyani (Jan 21, 2015, Countercurrents)

With the new ruling dispensation, Modi Sarkar, attempts are being made to present Gandhi in a light which is favorable to the RSS combine. First, the Swachata Abhiyan (Cleanliness drive) was inaugurated on Gandhi Jayanti 2nd October, then it was claimed that RSS had nothing to do with Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse. Now; efforts are on to extract a certificate from Gandhi on the lines which should mean that Gandhi thought ‘RSS very good’. In this direction a multimedia program is being shown in ‘Dandi Kutir’ which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Mr. Modi recently, (January 2015).

In this multimedia presentation in the exhibition it is claimed that Gandhi had come to RSS camp in Wardha in 1930, along with Ghanshyamdas Birla. Gandhi was very impressed by its functioning of RSS and wanted to meet Dr. Hedgewar, the founder of RSS. As per these claims Mahatma did meet the RSS founder the next day.

Irrespective of these claims the definitive knowledge is something else. On one side what is known is that RSS was very critical of Gandhi’s politics, his broadening of the national movement to include the average people of the country in the non-cooperation movement. This movement was the major event which awakened the people of India and linked them with anti British movement. This was the major landmark in the step towards ‘India as a nation in the making’. This major phenomenon of Indian nationalism came under heavy criticism from RSS leadership. RSS founder was critical of Gandhi for his efforts in the direction of ‘Hindu Muslim unity’ and this mass movement, non-cooperation movement.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/puniyani210115.htm

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Greater Economic Burdens Instead of Ache Din – Editorial (Jan 25, 2015, Peoples Democracy)

…This invitation to President Obama by the Modi government conveys a strong signal to the world that India is cementing its position as a ‘subordinate ally’ of US imperialism. This is a significant shift that will shape the demise of India’s long held faith in pursuing an independent foreign policy.

While India has and shall continue to develop friendly relations with all countries in the world, India’s foreign policy must always be dictated by its ‘enlightened national interests’, the crux of which is the solidarity with the developing world in resisting global domination by any power. Often, in the past, India had taken courageous, morally upright positions with regard to people fighting against national oppression.

The Indian ruling classes, however, ever since they embraced neo-liberal economic reforms, argue that it is in India’s interests to be irreversibly tied to the apron strings of US imperialism. Given this, Indian policy direction is increasingly one of providing greater opportunities for international finance capital to maximise profits in India while, at the same time, permitting India Inc. (who so generously ‘donated’ towards the Modi PM campaign) to maximise profits as the junior partner of US imperialism.…

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2015/0125_pd/greater-economic-burdens-instead-ache-din

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Untold stories from Muzaffaarpur – By Dr Mohammad Sajjad (Jan 24, 2015, Twocircles.net)

Violence broke out in Azizpur-Bahilwara village near Saraiya in Muzaffarpur district in north Bihar on January 18. It killed at least five people and almost all the 56 Muslim (Pasmanda) households were looted and burnt. The immediate provocation allegedly was an inter-faith love affair: to the Hindutva zealots, was it a case of ‘Love-Jihad’ in reverse, or a case of ‘Honour Killing’?

A Hindu (by caste Mallah, fishermen) boy named Bhartendu Sahni, 20, (reportedly in love with a girl from Pasmanda Muslim community, both belonging to the same village, and both studying in the same L S College of Muzaffarpur), was missing since January 9. A report about his kidnapping was lodged against a Muslim, nicknamed Vicky Ansari, and his father Wasi Ahmad, of the same village with the Saraiya police.

The local police is alleged to have remained rather lethargic on this report of kidnapping despite the fact that this issue did carry a very high degree of communal volatility and sensitivity, given the fact that the accused of kidnapping were the Muslim girl’s brother, Vicky Ansari and the father Wasi Ahmad, and that the marriage of the two was being resisted at least by the girl’s family.…

http://twocircles.net/2015jan24/1422102950.html

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The Muslim population: No cause for paranoia about religious demography – Editorial (Jan 25, 2015, Business Standard)

Among the three countries that once constituted undivided India, Pakistan in 2001-11 had a decadal population growth rate of about 20 per cent, India’s Muslims (it has now been revealed) 24 per cent, andBangladesh slightly more than 14 per cent. If India’s Muslims had witnessed Pakistan’s population growth rate of 20 per cent, the country would have had about five-six million fewer Muslims in 2011. And if Bangladesh had experienced the same 20 per cent population growth rate, it would have had seven million more Muslims. So does the explanation for the higher growth rate in India and the lower rate in Bangladesh lie primarily in the migration of Bangladeshis to India? It might seem so, given that the growth of the Muslim population in the border districts of West Bengal and Assam has been the highest (which is not to say that illegal immigrants don’t settle in more distant parts of India, including Delhi).

Even at 20 per cent, the growth rate of the domestic Muslim population would be higher than for all non-Muslims (17 per cent). The difference though would be smaller than the census numbers have recorded, and would be explained by two factors: the lower socio-economic status of Muslims in India (the poor tend to have more children), and the greater resistance of Muslims to family planning. This latter is evidenced by the higher growth rates in the population of both Pakistan and Bangladesh in the period since Partition.

But there is no cause for the paranoia in some circles that “Hindus will be reduced to a minority” in India. More reasonable projections suggest that the Muslim population at its peak may be 18-19 per cent of the population. That would be a significant change from the 10 per cent of 1951, and it is just as well that the government has released the religion-wise census numbers (the previous government had no business hiding them, as though they contained a dirty secret). But one must understand the numbers in order to be able to deal rationally with the issues they raise.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/the-muslim-population-115012500722_1.html

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The silencing of Murugan – By V Geetha (Jan 20, 2015, Indian Express)

It has been a week now since writer Perumal Murugan chose silence and literary death. Protests continue in Tamil Nadu – some directed at local government officials and the police – for allowing organisations of the intermediate Kongu Vellala or Gounder caste to threaten and intimidate Murugan into silence. Some protests are directed at Hindu ideologues of the far right, including the local RSS functionaries who started it all.

Left groups, Dalit groups, anti-caste groups, writers, journalists, teachers and lawyers have been at the forefront of these protests. Rather late in the day, the DMK upheld Murugan’s right to speech, invoking a long history of Tamil “tolerance”, a virtue that is in short supply at the moment for a host of reasons. …

Incidentally, Murugan’s novel, Kanganam, is an apt fable of the alienated small peasant. It is about a peasant’s search for a bride he does not ever find. Increasingly disenchanted with the harsh conditions that define peasant life, Gounder women and Dalit men flee that universe. The Gounder peasant is left bereft of productive labour and conjugal certainty. …

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-silencing-of-murugan/99/

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Women’s Safety & the Sangh Parivar – By Archana Prasad (Jan 25, 2015, Peoples Democracy)

This week Kiran Bedi joined the Delhi BJP as its star campaigner, and declared in the first very statement that in Delhi “women’s safety is the main issue and not Statehood”. She said that if she wins elections than she would ensure that there was better policing including community policing in order to ensure women’s safety. Almost immediately in response to this, Sharmishtha Mukherjee, the Congress candidate from Greater Kailash, stated that the main issue for her constituency is women’s safety and she would use her MLA funds to do community policing if she won.

It is clear that the arrival of high profile campaigners in the Delhi BJP has propelled a competitive war of words in case of women’s safety. However the whole debate, as triggered off by the BJP nominee has got focused on issues of policing and law and order rather than on the larger issues that have been earlier raised by the women’s movement.

The perspective of women’s safety as a law and order problem is designed to ignore the social and political causes that aggregate violence against women. These causes are engrained in patriarchal and socially conservative attitudes that are today characteristic of the Sangh Parivar.…

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2015/0125_pd/women%E2%80%99s-safety-sangh-parivar-comment

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 19th, 2015

by newsdigest on January 20, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

“The Economist” recalls Modi role in 2002 Gujarat riots, questions his silence on RSS-backed ghar vapsi (Jan 18, 2015, Counterview.net)

In a hard-hitting commentary, the influential British weekly, “The Economist”, qualifying the whole RSS-Sangh Parivar “ghar vapsi” (home coming) “offensive” and “threatening” to Indian Muslims and Christians, and “highly contentious”, has sharply questioned Modi’s “reticence” on the issue. The top weekly believes, while some reports want one believe that Modi tried to rein in the hardliners, the fact is, he cannot hope to antagonize them. After all, it is they solidly stood with Modi when he was “shunned internationally” following the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“It was the BJP’s right wing and RSS activists that stayed with him and provided the platform for his campaign”, the weekly says, adding, “He is in their debt, and also needs them to keep getting the vote out in state and national elections.” In its commentary in the print edition dated January 17, underlines, yet “another explanation for Modi’s silence is that he agrees with them, if not with their methods. He, after all, is an RSS veteran, steeped in its teachings.”

Titled “The Hindutva rate of growth”, “The Economist” wonders what made John Kerry, US secretary of state, say, when he attended Vibrant Gujarat Investors’ Summit (January 12-13) that he “hoped the Gujarat experience could be ‘extrapolated’ to the rest of India”, going so far as to call Modi a “visionary prime minister”. In a sarcastically remarks, “It seems churlish and irrelevant to recall that a decade ago America refused Modi a visa because of his failure to prevent appalling communal violence, mostly directed at the Muslim minority, in Gujarat in 2002.”…

http://www.counterview.net/2015/01/the-economist-questions-modis-silence.html

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Three burnt to death as mob torches houses in Bihar village, CM Manjhi orders probe (Jan 19, 2015, Hindustan Times)

At least three persons were burnt to death after a mob set on fire around a dozen houses at Bahilwada Bhuwal village in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Sunday following the recovery of a youth’s body. …

Atul Prasad, a Bihar state administrator, said a minority community was blamed for the killing of the boy who was friendly with a Muslim girl from the village, 105km north of Patna. Family members of Bhartendu had lodged an FIR with Saraiya police station, alleging that the boy had been kidnapped by relatives of the girl.

As soon as the news spread, a mob gathered near Vikki’s residence and torched it along with other houses, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ranjeet Kumar Mishra said. The situation took an ugly turn when a group, angry with the news about Bhartendu’s death, attacked the house of the accused. “Following retaliation, the attackers went on the rampage and set 10 houses belonging to another group on fire. Around 15 vehicles were also gutted,” said a villager.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/3-burnt-to-death-as-mob-torches-houses-in-bihar-village/article1-1308252.aspx

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Communal clashes spark after kite fight in Bharuch; claim two lives (Jan 15, 2015, Indian Express)

Two passers-by were killed and ten seriously injured in Hansot village of Bharuch district in the aftermath of riots that broke out after a kite fight in the neighbouring Ambeta village in the same district Wednesday morning.

Sources told The Indian Express, that it all began after a Muslim boy was reportedly beaten up in Ambeta village for catching a kite. Later, a large number of locals from both communities clashed with each other armed with sharp weapons, and attacked passers-by two of whom riding motorbikes, were killed after being stabbed.

Arson, plundering and stabbing continued till late Wednesday, dampening makar sankranti festivities, as mobs set standing crops in a field belonging to a rival community, ablaze in revenge. An ambulance carrying the injured to hospital was also torched near Sahol village enroute to Ankleshwar, the nearest town. Rioters blocked all the roads leading to Ankleshwar, which forced villagers to take those injured in Hansot, to Bharuch hospital in boats, by sea. …

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/communal-clashes-spark-after-kite-fight-in-bharuch-claim-two-lives/

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West Delhi church vandalised (Jan 14, 2015, The Hindu)

A church in West Delhi’s Vikaspuri was allegedly vandalised by two men in the early hours of Wednesday. The church authorities claim that the attack was carried out to stoke communal tension. The police, however, said that the motive was being probed.

The entire incident has been captured on CCTV cameras installed in the vicinity of the church. Around 6. 30 a.m. when the priest arrived at the church, he found the glass cabinet mounted on the outside wall broken and the statue of Mother Mary lying on the ground. A call was subsequently made to the police control room. Senior police officers including the Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) reached the spot, police said.

Video footage, it is learnt, shows two men (in the age group of 40) on a motorcycle vandalising the church in two phases: first by breaking the glass cabinet and returning shortly after to push the statue causing a fall, police said.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/west-delhi-church-vandalised/article6788210.ece

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Court raps CBI for botching up Sohrabuddin probe (Jan 18, 2015, Hindustan Times)

A Mumbai special court, which gave a clean chit to BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Tulsi Prajapati killings of 2005-6, rapped the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for botching up its probe by not submitting key evidence to back up allegations on his role in the conspiracy, including the receipt of an extortion sum of Rs 70 lakh via an aide.

As per the CBI’s chargesheets, it was alleged that Shah’s “close and trusted police officer” Abhay Chudasama – accused number 15 – had allegedly threatened two Ahmedabad-based businessmen brothers Ramanbhai and Dashrathbhai Patel (both prosecution witnesses) at his behest to cough up Rs 1.5 crore to escape getting detained under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities act.

The builders had then allegedly paid Rs 70 lakh as bribe to Shah via another aide, Ajay Patel, charges that were rejected by the court in its December 2014 order, a copy of which HT accessed. At the time of the two alleged fake encounters, Shah was the minister of state for home in the then Gujarat government.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/court-raps-cbi-for-botching-up-sohrabuddin-probe/article1-1307919.aspx#

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Setback for Mumbai police as court acquits alleged SIMI member (Jan 18, 2015, Asian Age)

In another setback to the Mumbai police, the sessions court in Mumbai on Saturday acquitted Saquib Nachan, an alleged member of banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi) and four others in a 13-year-old murder case.

With this acquittal, Nachan has only one case (three blast cases clubbed into one) pending against him. He was booked for three different murders and four blast cases, but with two earlier acquittals in murder cases and discharge from a bomb blast case, he is currently facing only one blast case.

Nachan had defended himself in person and had cross-examined all the witnesses against him. He claimed before the court that there was a property dispute between the deceased Tariq Gujar and his family. He also claimed that was contesting sarpanch elections in his area so his political rivals implicated him in the false case.…

http://www.asianage.com/mumbai/setback-mumbai-police-court-acquits-alleged-simi-member-408

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Agra’s ‘ghar wapsi’ colony set to move to Muslim locality (Jan 17, 2015, Times of India)

The slum dwellers of Madhu Nagar who underwent a ” ghar wapsi” ceremony on December 8, triggering a national controversy, now say the neighbourhood has turned hostile since that ritual and they are all set to shift to a “safer, Muslim locality”.

They told TOI on Saturday that they plan to shift to a predominantly Muslim locality in Kamla Nagar, about 12 km away, as soon as the winter chill subsides. The policemen deployed in the slum after the conversion event were withdrawn a week ago.

Circle officer, Sadar, Asim Chaudhary said, “It is over a month since that incident. Although the forces earlier posted in the area have moved out, every alternate day a policeman and an official of the Local Intelligence Unit continue to visit the slum.”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/45925241.cms

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29 BJP members arrested by police for planning dacoity (Jan 19, 2015, Indian Express)

Two BJP leaders of West Midnapore district and 27 other party activists were arrested for illegally possessing arms and ammunition and planning a dacoity, police said on Monday.

BJP Nayagram West Block president Sukhendu Patra and BJP West Midnapore District Committee member Ardhendu Patra and 27 other party activists were arrested by police in the wee hours on Monday for planning a dacoity and illegally possessing arms and ammunition, they said.

The two leaders and 27 other arrested BJP activists were produced before a local court which remanded Sukhendu Patra and Ardhendu Patra to nine-days police custody while the 27 others were remanded to nine-days judicial custody.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/29-bjp-members-arrested-by-police-for-planning-dacoity/

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Badaun horror: Constable throws 17-year-old girl off the roof of building (Jan 18, 2015, First Post)

An FIR has been filed against constable Gaurav Kumar, who was accused of pushing her off the terrace, according to The Times of India. The TOI report also says that the girl was pushed off the second floor of the staff quarters in Ujhani, while other reports say the building was a police station.

The girl has sustained serious head injuries and was rushed to a private hospital in Bareilly. Her condition is still reportedly critical. According to the report, the girl was a friend of the constable but the relationship between the two had soured.

“He threw her off the roof. My daughter is fighting for her life in the hospital. Many of her bones have been fractured, I want justice,” an NDTV report quoted the girl’s mother as saying. The report also said that the incident took place on 15 January and the constable has since been arrested.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/end-badaun-horror-constable-throws-17-year-old-girl-roof-building-2052025.html

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Bihar court acquits 24 accused in 1999 Dalit massacre (Jan 13, 2015, Free Press Journal)

Citing lack of evidence, a Bihar court Tuesday acquitted 24 people of the 1999 massacre of 22 Dalits, a government lawyer said. Additional District and Sessions Judge Raghvendra Kumar Singh of Jehanabad district civil court pronounced the verdict.

Outlawed Ranvir Sena men had allegedly killed 22 Dalits Jan 25, 1999, in Shankar Bigha village in Jehanabad. The Sena was a private army of landed upper caste Bhumihars.

The victims were landless agricultural workers and were all Dalits. Police had filed an FIR against 29 accused in the case.…

http://freepressjournal.in/bihar-court-acquits-24-accused-in-1999-dalit-massacre/

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Opinions and Editorials

In the Era of the Neo-Fascist, Neo-liberal Coalition: Narendra Modi’s Intellectual Brigade – By Sumanta Banerjee (Jan 17, 2015, EPW)

Fascism needs – and seduces – both lumpens and intellectuals. While it recruits its foot soldiers from the former to suppress protest and dissent in domestic society, it allures members from the latter to sashay down the catwalk of world culture and academia to help it gain legitimacy abroad. The best model of this dual role of fascism was set by Germany, Italy and Japan (which came together as the Axis Power during the second world war). …

Shades from those dark days keep haunting the present – in India today in particular. In a peculiar re-enactment of that past, we find sections of the Indian intellectual community displaying a horrifying moral ambiguity in their slow drift into a system that typifies a dangerous and opportunist liaison between forces of unrestrained market economy (thriving under the global order of neo-liberalism) and unabated religious nationalist authoritarianism (consolidating itself under the neo-fascist canopy of the Sangh Parivar). Narendra Modi is perfecting the art of welding the two forces. …

A lot of things are indeed happening under Modi’s rule – campaigns to convert members of religious minorities to Hinduism, denunciation of inter-religious marriages as Muslim “love jihad”, plans to install Nathuram Godse’s statues in temples, brainwashing of young children into believing that Hindu gods are superior to modern scientists….

Among the other things that are happening under the Modi regime are enactment of laws in the name of development, which according to many economists and civil society activists will lead to large-scale displacement of people from their homes and occupations.…

http://www.epw.in/commentary/era-neo-fascist-neo-liberal-coalition.html

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Big Man, Little Folks – By Pavithra S. Rangan (Jan 26, 2015, Outlook)

He’s been there for as long as he can remember. He was 25 when officials first turned up to tell his grandfather that they would have to vacate the land. Now he is 79 and he still lives there and cultivates the small holding by the river Narmada. Neither the Sardar Sarovar dam, barely three kilometres away, nor Vadodara, 90 kms from the Narmada Valley, has made any difference to Ukkad Magan. No, not even the Gujarat ‘model of development’.

But now he and 500 other households in Kevadia village again face the prospect of eviction. This time to make way for PM Narendra Modi’s ambitious Rs 2,989 crore project to instal the world’s highest statue, the Statue of Unity. Villagers refused to receive the eviction notice two weeks ago when officials turned up to deliver them in person. But it’s only a matter of time before they return. The notice calls upon them to vacate the land “immediately” – no time-frame was mentioned.…

The six villages by the Narmada likely to be affected by the project’s first phase are inhabited by Tadvi tribesmen who have been here long before the Sardar Sarovar dam came up. Villagers claim that when they sought proof of acquisition from the officials, they admitted that they did not have the relevant documents to prove the land had been acquired.…

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Big-Man-Little-Folks/293123

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Ghar Wapsi: Political Agenda, Religious Garb – By Rudolf C Heredia (Jan 17, 2015, EPW)

In his Anti-Memoirs in 1968, Andre Malraux recalls asking Nehru “What is your greatest difficulty since Independence?” Nehru’s spontaneous reply was “Creating a just State by just means, I think”, and after a pause, “perhaps too, creating a secular State in a religious country”. The controversy over religious conversion epitomises how both difficulties have grown exponentially in tandem. …

Conversion is a complex and emotionally charged issue.… In today’s surcharged context of minority bashing and anti-conversion laws, of majoritarian politics and minority vote banks the issues implied get more explosive every day. Our tense and polarised situation demands an honest introspection so that the converts and would-be converts are heard, not those who act as ventriloquists on their behalf.

…These ghar wapsi enthusiasts have become mirror images of the very proselytisers they are so enraged against and denounce. It compounds an already delicate situation even further. To put a cunning spin on the term and pretend that it is not a religious change but a homecoming, is disingenuous and cannot hide the patent political agenda involved under a religious-cultural garb. …

http://www.epw.in/commentary/ghar-wapsi-political-agenda-religious-garb.html

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Model family, Maharaj style – Editorial (Jan 13, 2015, Hindustan Times)

The propensity of the BJP’s great and good to express their opinions on all sorts of subjects, including those they are not conversant with, is causing daily embarrassment to the party.… It is clear that Maharaj has not heard of the national population policy, which does not prescribe any optimum number of children a woman should produce.

In fact, the issue of how many children a woman should have is a personal matter and the State seems loath to take a position on numbers. But not so Sakshi Maharaj, who feels that Hindu women must procreate profusely in order that Hindus are not overrun by other faiths that apparently produce children in vast numbers. …

Along with many worthies harping on how advanced ancient Indians were scientifically, with little proof to substantiate their claims, the Maharajs are making a laughing stock of an India which is trying to make itself taken seriously as an investment and manufacturing destination. The BJP has been far too easy on the fringe elements who now consider themselves a law unto themselves.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1306476.aspx

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Why Rape Victims Lose – By Jonathan Derby (Dec 27, 2014, EPW)

There is a culture of delay and adjournments in trial courts in India that contradicts criminal procedural law. These inefficient and undisciplined practices slow down trials, often with adverse effects on victims. …

The Supreme Court has consistently criticised the inefficient and passive way judges administer trials. For example, in Mohan Lal vs State of Punjab (AIR 2013 SC 2408), a teenage girl was gang-raped by her teachers. It took five dates for the trial judge to record the victim’s testimony. Given the sensitivity of rape cases, the Court called the way the judge managed the trial “shocking”. …

The backlog of cases in Delhi trial courts, as in courts across India, makes following swift justice mandates almost impossible, especially the way dockets are currently managed. In child sexual abuse cases, while Delhi has POCSO courts, judges in these courts handle other criminal cases too, which creates bottlenecks to complete POCSO cases.…

http://www.epw.in/comment/why-rape-victims-lose.html

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Acquittals in Bihar Dalit massacres ‘failure of pro-poor’ governments – By Mumtaz Alam (Jan 15, 2015, India Tomorrow)

This Tuesday was another big ‘Black Day’ in the life of Etwaria Devi. The Dalit woman, now in her late 50s, lost her husband 16 years ago in one of major massacres of members of the Dalit community by Ranvir Sena, a private militia of upper caste landed gentry in Bihar. In the massacre on 25th Jan 1999, some 24 Dalits, all landless agricultural labourers, were killed in Shankar Bigha village of Arwal district. Devi had lost her husband Ganga Paswan and another relative Nanhu Paswan in the incident.

On Tuesday, all the 24 accused were acquitted by a local court in Jehanabad district. What has angered victim families and social activists working for them more is chain of acquittals in the five Dalit massacres of the 1990s in the undivided Bihar. Incidentally, both the killings and acquittals took place under such political regimes that claim to be champion of the cause of Dalits, weaker sections and minorities.

Family members of the slain Dalits are disheartened and devastated over the release of all the accused by the court for lack of evidence. The surviving family members are not only upset and sad over the verdict, they are also angry and feel there is nobody to do them justice.…

http://www.indiatomorrow.net/eng/acquittals-in-bihar-dalit-massacres-failure-of-pro-poor-governments

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Book Review

How Modi Won It: Notes from the 2014 Election

Author: Harish Khare
Reviewed by: T R Ramachandran
Available at: Publisher: Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt Ltd, 4th/5th Floors, Corporate Centre; Plot No. 94, Sector 44; Gurgaon-122003 INDIA; Pages: 242; Price: Rs 599. http://www.hachetteindia.com/
Review:
How Modi Won It: Notes from the 2014 Election (Jan 18, 2015, Free Press Journal)

Media advisor to erstwhile Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, well known journalist and columnist Harish Khare’s book – How Modi Won It: Notes from 2014 Elections – is instinctive in analysing what he “saw, felt, read and heard” from scribes as well as other individuals in public about what was going on under the grand rubric of general election. His assessment stems from an election diary that he started writing for a nearly two months from the last week of March 2014 till 17 May. He stressed the book makes no claim to being an objective account or giving a complete view of what went into the making of the 2014 vote.

It is an individualistic, partisan and necessarily subjective account written down as it was happening. It is based on knowledge available in the public domain. There is no inside information; no scoop; no breaking news. It encompasses a bit of political science, a bit of history, and chunks of old fashioned journalistic analysis. And a bit of common sense.

Be that as it may Khare has never been shy of calling a spade a spade. His piercing analysis brings to the fore that Narendra Modi started eyeing the Prime Minister’s “kursi” nearly twelve years before the 2014 Parliamentary elections for the 16th Lok Sabha. Within a few months of Modi becoming the chief minister of Gujarat, a train was set afire in Godhra leading to communal riots in Ahmedabad and other parts of state. He relentlessly pursued this goal a dozen years and reinvented himself as a polarising figure, pushing – deliberately, calculatedly and cleverly – a politics of antagonism that led to his unprecedented 2014 victory. He remained committed to the calculus of Hindu-Muslim antagonism along with nursing the ambition of occupying the most coveted seat of power on the majestic Raisina Hill in the national capital. …

http://freepressjournal.in/how-modi-won-it-notes-from-the-2014-election/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 12th, 2015

January 13, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony After communal row, Hindus, Muslims join hands, demand justice for each other News Headlines World must act against Hindu plan for India without Christians, Muslims Narendra Modi’s silence on provocative statements a strategy of polarisation, says Sonia Gandhi Abhishek Banerjee slapgate incident: Was the attacker an RSS […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 5th, 2015

January 6, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Indian court drops charges against ruling party leader of ordering extra-judicial killings Indian police do it again: Surat Rural Police dress ‘terrorists’ as Muslims Idea of a ‘homogeneous’ nation is problematic: Hamid Ansari Hindu boy with Muslim name arrested in connection with Bengaluru blast No converted Manjhi […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 29th, 2014

December 30, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Muslim scholars drop out of Oriental meet after threats from ‘Hindutva’ group Godse’s name unparliamentary: Rajya Sabha AAP alleges blatant misuse of CBI by the BJP gvt to save Amit Shah in fake encounter cases ‘IM’ mail sender Shushil Chaudhary held, no terror link Hindu groups target […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 22nd, 2014

December 23, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Guj singer Farida Mir junks VHP’s ‘ghar wapsi’ claim 2002 riots case: End trial in three months, says SC Prevent recurrence of another Gujarat or Muzaffarnagar: AMU students to Home Minister Charge sheet has proof against Amit Shah: CBI Now, Hindu Mahasabha seeks space for installing Mahatma […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 15th, 2014

December 16, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Forced conversions in Agra and call for anti-conversion bill are brazen attacks on India’s Constitution say Indian Americans Communal Harmony Workshop by minorities commission to spread communal harmony News Headlines Agra: Muslim families deny changing faith, slam Hindu groups Conversion row: RSS man booked Forced conversions and call […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 8th, 2014

December 9, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Muslim groups urge President Pranab Mukherjee to refer all Babri Masjid cases to Supreme Court TMC seeks probe into death of judge hearing Sohrabuddin case Hindutva literature widens communal chasm Sushma Swaraj’s call for making Gita ‘national scripture’ an effort to make India a Hindu nation: NDA […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 1st, 2014

December 2, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony National Communal Harmony week concludes News Headlines ‘Jafri was last seen being dragged by accused’ Ishrat Case: Vanzara Tells Court He Only Followed Orders ‘Madrasas not breeding grounds for terrorism’ Hindu Radicals Attack Indian Pentecostal Church, Eight Injured and Pastor Arrested Ramzada vs haramzada: Outrage over Union […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 24th, 2014

November 25, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony 20 years of communal harmony in a week News Headlines No riot can take place without complicity & incompetence of administration, Guj was no exception: Rajdeep Sardesai Gujarat IPS officer who took on govt over 2002 riots seeks retirement Chargesheet against Delhi constable for rioting in Muzaffarnagar […]

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