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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 27th, 2015

by newsdigest on July 28, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Irony of ironies: Judge afraid for her life after convicting Modi’s minister in Gujarat riots! (Jul 23, 2015, Daily Bhaskar)

Former judge Jyotsna Yagnik has accused the Gujarat government of turning a deaf ear to her requests to enhance her security. She has reportedly been receiving threats in the form of calls and letters. In August 2012, Yagnik, who was the judge of special trial court, had convicted 31 accused persons including BJP leader and former minister Mayaben Kodnani and a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Babu Bajrangi under the charges of criminal conspiracy for killing 97 people at Naroda Patiya area here.

“They (state government) have turned a deaf ear to my request. As it is said in court – status quo, so there is status quo,” Yagnik, who recently received threat calls and letters, said when queried on whether government has taken any action on her demand. Yagnik said she has been receiving threat calls and letters for a long time and repeatedly requested the state government to upgrade her security to “Z” level from the present “Y” level.

Yagnik also commented on the issue of some convicts approaching High Court judges when their appeals were pending. “When they (convicts of Naroda Patiya riot case) can approach the High Court judges, you people may imagine under what pressure, a trial court judge would have delivered the judgment,” she said.…

http://daily.bhaskar.com/news/NAT-TOP-riots-case-judge-in-gujarat-fears-for-her-security-5061514-NOR.html

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Teesta Setalvad accuses Modi govt of ‘vendetta’ to silence her (Jul 24, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Activist Teesta Setalvad, a long-time critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Gujarat riots 13 years ago, says an investigation into allegations she received illegal funding is a “vendetta” designed to silence her.

Setalvad told AFP she was being targeted by the government because of her fierce criticism of Modi following deadly violence in Gujarat in 2002 when he was the chief minister.

“It’s nothing short of a vendetta because even if it were to be seen as an offence, it’s an economic offence if at all, and it should be examined by the courts,” she said.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/teesta-setalvad-accuses-modi-govt-of-vendetta-to-silence-her/article1-1372637.aspx

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1500 ‘encounter’ deaths under glare (Jul 14, 2015, The Telegraph)

The Supreme Court today said it might order the CBI to probe as many as 1,500 extra-judicial killings carried out under a controversial law that gives security personnel sweeping powers, or refer them to trial courts under whose jurisdiction the alleged fake encounters took place.

All the alleged encounters took place in insurgency-affected Manipur, one of the states where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in force.

A three-member panel the top court had appointed had earlier submitted a preliminary report that said at least six of the cases it had taken up as a sample survey clearly indicated they were all staged.…

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150714/jsp/nation/story_31454.jsp

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Will perpetrators of Babri masjid demolition be hanged too, asks Owaisi (Jul 24, 2015, The Hindu)

Triggering controversy over capital punishment to Yakub Memon in Mumbai blasts case, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Friday sought to know whether the perpetrators of demolition of disputed structure in Ayodhya, communal riots of Mumbai and Gujarat and other such sensational cases would get a similar punishment.

“Why have not perpetrators of demolition of Babri Masjid been convicted and will they also be given capital punishment as that is the original sin?” the Hyderabad MP said while addressing a gathering here. Alleging that the recommendations of Sri Krishna Commission have been put in cold storage both by the BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP governments in Maharashtra, he wondered how many have been convicted in the Mumbai riots of December, 1992 and January, 1993. …

He claimed that the Narendra Modi government did not allow SIT investigating the case of Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi, convicted for life in a Gujarat riots case, to appeal and enhance it to death sentence. “Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi convicted to life for killing 97 Muslims were given conviction for life and Narender Modi’s government did not allow SIT investigating the case to appeal and enhance it to death. SIT dropped its plans for both Kodnani and Bajrangi,” he alleged.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/will-perpetrators-of-babri-masjid-demolition-be-hanged-too-asks-owaisi/article7460484.ece

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India Sees a Sharp Rise in Communal Violence in the First Five Months of 2015 (Jul 21, 2015, Time)

Incidents of communal violence in India rose by nearly a quarter in the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2014, the Economic Times reports. The newspaper, citing data from India’s Home Ministry, also reported a rise in deaths from communal violence, which rose from 26 between January and May 2014 to 43 over the same period this year.

Outbreaks of communal violence, meanwhile, rose from 232 during the first five months of 2014, when a Congress Party-led coalition government was in power in New Delhi, to 287 over the same period this year. The Congress Party–led administration was displaced in last year’s national elections in May by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party led by the country’s current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Overall, 2014 saw a decline in communal violence, with the number of incidents dropping to 644 from 823 the previous year. The number of related deaths also fell, declining to 95 in 2014 from 133 in 2013.…

http://time.com/3965515/india-communal-violence-rise/

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Video shows Rajasthan BJP MLA Shimla Bawri saying she gave money to journalists (Jul 22, 2015, Indian Express)

A BJP MLA from Rajasthan has reportedly claimed that she sent ‘envelopes’ containing cash to all journalists in her constituency before the 2013 Assembly polls. Anupgarh MLA Shimla Bawri reportedly made the revelation at a recent event organised by local journalists to honour her for facilitating allotment of plots of land for journalists in the district.

The video of her speech, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, shows the MLA saying she had sent “envelopes” containing cash to all journalists in the constituency. Three of the journalists returned the envelopes saying they would take the money from her after she won, she added.

The MLA went on to lament the “fall” in standards of journalism. When contacted, Bawri rubbished the allegations and said the video had been “edited” and doctored. She said she would raise the issue in the Assembly.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/video-shows-rajasthan-bjp-mla-saying-she-gave-money-to-journalists/

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SC upholds ban on hijab and long sleeves in pre-medical test (Jul 25, 2015, Times of India)

The Supreme Court on Friday firmly declined to entertain the trend of flaunting religious beliefs to seek immunity from dress code, asking three Muslim girls and little-known Students Islamic Organization of India to follow the code prescribed by CBSE for the All India Pre-Medical Test.

Buoyed by the Kerala high court’s recent order allowing two Muslim girls to wear head scarf during examination, SIOI and the students requested the SC to grant similar relaxation to all Muslim girls during AIPMT by permitting them to wear full-sleeved dress with head scarf.

Appearing for them, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde said, “It is a matter of religious belief. Muslim women and girls are required by religion to be attired in full-sleeve clothing and scarf whenever they appear in public. If the relaxation in dress code is not granted, these Muslim girls may have to drop out of the examination.”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48209334.cms

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UP beautification plan near Babri site irks Muslims (Jul 25, 2015, Times of India)

The Akhilesh government has chalked out an elaborate plan to improve amenities and beautify the areas around the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. However, even before the government can implement its plan, Muslims, particularly the litigants in the title suit, have opposed the proposal saying any maintenance activity at and around the disputed site would violate Supreme Court’s order for maintaining status quo and also hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.…

Opposing the proposal, Khaliq Ahmad Khan, nominee of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, one of the main litigants from the Muslim side in the Supreme Court, told TOI: “It is not a picnic spot. It is a disputed land and the title suit is sub-judice before the Supreme Court. There was a mosque before December 6,1992, which was pulled down unlawfully by a gathering of communal mob, so beautifying it will hurt the sentiments of Muslims worldwide. The government should only ensure the security of the site and not try to turn it into a tourist attraction.”

Senior lawyer and vice chairman of Babri Masjid Action Committee, Mushtaq Ahmad Siddiqi, said, “The Supreme Court in its order of March 30, 2003, has made it very clear that status quo would be maintained both on the disputed site and acquired land. So, why is the government so keen on beautifying such a disputed place?”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48209355.cms

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Asaram rape case: UP recommends CBI probe into witness murder (Jul 25, 2015, Indian Express)

Uttar Pradesh government on Friday recommended a CBI probe into the murder of Akhil Kumar Gupta, a key witness in a rape case against self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu. Gupta (38), who worked as a cook and personal aide of Asaram, was shot dead in Muzaffarnagar on January 11. “A CBI probe has been recommended to facilitate investigation into the murder of witness Akhil Gupta,” said Debashis Panda, principal secretary (Home) in Lucknow.

Muzaffarnagar resident Gupta was questioned by Gujarat Police in 2013 in connection with the alleged rape of two sisters in Surat, and had given a statement against Asaram. Both Asaram and his son have been booked in the case.

Gupta was the second witness to be killed after Amrut Prajapati who was shot dead in June 2014. Another witness Kripal Singh was killed earlier this month. Gupta’s wife Varsha, also a witness in the case, had written to the state government requesting for CBI probe.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/asaram-witness-murder-case-up-govt-recommends-cbi-probe-in-akhil-guptas-death/

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Dalit-upper caste brawl in Gujarat town off Ahmedabad: Police refuse protection to victims, says letter to CM (Jul 22, 2015, Counterview)

In a gruesome incident in a town situated situated just about 60 kilometres from one of India’s topmost business hubs, Ahmedabad, Dalits were badly beaten up, with authorities remaining “indifferent”. In a letter to Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, one of the members of the family which claimed to have become “victim” of the brawl caused by objections to occupying a public space for private function has complained that, despite strong plea, the Dalits were “refused” police protection.…

“The way to our house was totally blocked. There was no space for us to go out”, Chauhan said, adding, “When our family members requested them to remove the vehicles, first the upper castemen started abusing us, and when we objected to using such language, they badly beat three our family members, including my mother, Champaben.”

Suggesting that those who beat them up had strong political connections, as one of them was a local councillor of Viramgam municipality, Chauhan said, “They were around 200 to 250 persons, while we just just a handful. We phoned up the police from the spot, when they were beating us up, but nobody came to our rescue.”…

http://www.counterview.net/2015/07/dalit-upper-caste-brawl-in-gujarat-town.html

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Opinions and Editorials

Hindutva In Hurry – By Shamsul Islam (Jul 25, 2015, Countercurrents)

Political arm of the RSS, BJP could secure only 31% of the total votes polled in the 2014 parliamentary elections (if this percentage is analyzed in context of the total voters in the country this percentage would further drop down to less than 17 percent). This clearly showed that 69% of the Indians; 80% of whom were Hindus did not vote for BJP. However, overlooking this reality the masters of BJP; the RSS top brass boasted that BJP’s victory put “an end to 800 years of slavery” and by 2020 “entire country will be Hindu”. The VHP patron Ashok Singhal went to the extent of declaring that by “2030 the entire world will be Hindu”.

With this frame of mind RSS is getting more myopic and accelerated its game of turning a democratic-secular India into a Hindu theocratic polity. In fact, such over-bearing attitude may be the outcome of feeling of insecurity of the Hindutva leadership which knows that the Hindus of this country do not subscribe to their kind of theocratic politics and in the next elections they may be shown the door by the India electorate. After getting political power they seem to be in hurry and resorting to all kinds of tricks to capture national institutions specially belonging to the realms of art, culture and academia. This clique knows that time is running out fast and they need to bulldoze.

After appointing a twelfth class pass as HRD minister, the eminent national institutions have been brought under the clutches of RSS cadres. The Indian Council of Historical Research witnessed the appointment of Y Sudershan Rao, an old RSS cadre, a votary of ‘sanatan’ Hindu religion, as its chairperson. The National Book Trustwas given under the charge of Baldev Sharma, former editor of RSS Hindi mouthpiece Panchajanya. Lokesh Chandra was crowned as head of The Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Chandra while talking of Narendra Modi says: “Woh bhagwan ke avatar hain (He is reincarnation of God)”. He goes to the extent of claiming that Modi “from a practical point of view supersedes the Mahatma”. The list is endless but all have not succumbed to the Hindutva juggernaut.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/islam250715.htm

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Modi, Terrorism and Indian Muslims – By Irfan Engineer (Jul 21, 2015, Muslim Mirror)

In an interview to CNN’s Freed Zakaria ahead of his US visit, Prime Minister Modi said that Indian Muslims would live and die for India and would not want to do anything bad for India. (Express News Service, 2014).…

However, in the year 2001, Narendrea Modi had claimed, “All Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” (Varadarajan, 2002). Later the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi used this statement extensively in his subsequent election campaigns. Following the 2002 massacre of Muslims and sexual assaults on Muslim women in many districts of Gujarat, there was anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic frenzy being whipped up by Gujarati Media. Modi did nothing to assuage this frenzy.…

The massacre of Muslims in Gujarat was followed a gaurav yatra undertaken by Modi invoking “Gujarati pride”, which he claimed was hurt by the secularists who stigmatized all Gujaratis for the 2002 carnage. He would typically ask the people he was addressing – “Are you all murderers?” The next State Assembly elections after the riots were fought against not the opposition Congress Party, but “the Mian Musharraf” mentality of Muslims.… While Modi was the Chief Minister of the state, Gujarat Police gunned down several Muslims alleging them to be terrorists belonging to outfits across the border.… Prime Minister Modi is not offering any explanation as to which of his numerous assessments of Indian Muslims really represents his honest opinion? Or have his opinions changed? What new information he received which led to the change?…

http://muslimmirror.com/eng/modi-terrorism-and-indian-muslims/

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The missing conservative intellectuals – By G. Sampath (Jul 25, 2015, The Hindu)

The appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan – described by some sections of the media as a “C-lister” – to the chairmanship of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has once again raised questions about the scarcity of credible, right-wing intellectuals.

It is no secret that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has been struggling to find intellectuals to head various academic and cultural institutions. According to media reports, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had even set up an informal committee to come up with saffron-friendly candidates for some 680 positions. But it could come up with only 160 names. Even these 160 people, one presumes, included the likes of Mr. Chauhan…

None of these names has inspired much confidence in the constituencies these bodies serve. Many have charged the NDA with not just saffronising but also degrading the country’s premier institutions by appointing underqualified candidates to the post.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-missing-conservative-intellectuals/article7461274.ece

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Justice or vengeance? – By Lubhyathi Rangarajan (Jul 24, 2015, The Hindu)

There is a worrying certainty around the hanging of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, convicted for planning and executing the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. The Maharashtra government seems determined to execute him on July 30 despite several omissions on its part and constitutional options still remaining open for Memon. These concerns have gone unaddressed, given the obsession with both the manner in which Memon is likely to be executed and his demeanour on hearing his fate.…

In Memon’s case, the death warrant that was issued on April 30, 2015 scheduling his execution for July 30, 2015 was unnecessary and invalid in law. The Maharashtra government should have known that Memon still had the option of filing a curative petition. Before proceeding to execute an individual, it is the government’s obligation to ensure that all legal options have been explored. Moving for an execution in a clandestine manner, hoping that the prisoner would not exercise his constitutional options, reeks of vengeance. The fact that the Maharashtra government thought it fit not to give notice of the death warrant proceedings to Memon or his lawyers casts a serious shadow over the manner in which the government sought to proceed on the matter.…

Constitutional safeguards allow prisoners on death row, regardless of the offence they may have committed, to exhaust all legal remedies and to be spared hurried, arbitrary and secret executions. Yakub Memon cannot be denied the opportunity to exercise his legal options, and it would be a dangerous precedent to preclude him from doing so. The taking of life by the state must be subject to the highest levels of constitutional scrutiny. To deny someone fundamental rights on the basis of public demands for revenge would cast serious questions over our claim of being a modern constitutional democracy.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/yakub-memons-death-warrant-suffers-from-serious-constitutional-flaws/article7457166.ece

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Silencing Teesta Setalvad – By Julio Ribeiro (Jul 24, 2015, Indian Express)

The “caged parrot” that sings to its master’s tune is at it again. Twelve “parrots” searched Teesta Setalvad’s home and office in Mumbai for proof that she had used foreign donations to her NGO for private purposes. I would think that the CBI has weightier matters to deal with but Setalvad has offended those in power with her single-minded devotion to the cause of justice for Gujarat’s Muslims. If not for this intrepid woman, the injustices of Delhi 1984 would have been repeated in Gujarat.

Setalvad has fought the case almost single-handedly. I, for one, would not have had the patience and perseverance to fight for so many years through the maze of our judicial system. She kept vigil over grovelling police investigators, partisan prosecutors and timid adjudicators to finally force the system to convict a few of the murderers, including a minister in the state’s cabinet and a notorious thug of the extreme right. This required guts and determination that only she could muster.

The allegation that Setalvad has diverted funds supplied by the Ford Foundation for personal use has been summarily discarded by all who know her and her husband, Javed Anand. Both live simply and frugally, have no social life outside their one overarching interest of “communal harmony”, and have no taste at all for the good life. Setalvad hails from an old, respected Gujarati family settled in Mumbai for more than a century. Her family has a long tradition in the legal profession. Teesta was born with the proverbial silver spoon and could have lived a life of leisure, but instead chose to stand up and fight for causes. It is inconceivable that she could have misused any money she had sourced from foreign donors to sustain the work of her NGO. If the government wants to ferret out acts of non-compliance with the laws of the land it will be able to silence any citizen.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/silencing-teestathe-courts-must-step-in-when-governments-persecute-individuals-like-setalvad/

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Rot Runs Deeper In MP – By Ankush Vats (Aug 1, 2015, Tehelka)

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team is in Bhopal to probe the Vyapam scam, following the Supreme Court directive. The central investigative agency will look into the alleged rigging in Pre-Medical Test (pmt) and corrupt practices involved in offering government jobs across Madhya Pradesh. However, the improprieties are not limited to Vyapam examinations alone. Some of the accused involved in the Vyapam scam have also had a role to play in corruption at various levels in other government institutes as well.

It seems that an unholy nexus reigns supreme in the state that looks after all the recruitments and postings in colleges, bypassing all the eligibility norms. Sources tell Tehelka that the education mafia includes state government officials, local goons and governor’s office staff.

Few professors working with reputed engineering colleges tell Tehelka that most of the recruitments in government colleges at Madhya Pradesh (both central as well as state government) have been challenged in various courts. They (education mafia) recruit their own people, in return for a hefty sum (bribe). This is the case with most of the government colleges in the state.…

http://www.tehelka.com/2015/07/rot-runs-deeper-in-mp/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 20th, 2015

by newsdigest on July 21, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Announcements

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

Continued vendetta against Teesta Setalvad condemned by Indian Americans

CBI raids on Teesta’s home and offices are payback for years of fearless advocacy for victims of Gujarat 2002 pogroms

July 15, 2015

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has condemned the latest episode in the BJP government’s continued vendetta against renowned human rights activist Teesta Setalvad. The government has unleashed a CBI probe against Ms. Setalvad, her associates as well as the organization she has spearheaded in her struggle for justice for the victims of Gujarat pogroms of 2002. The raids on Ms. Setalvad’s home and offices come in the wake of the Supreme Court approving her anticipatory bail in a different case being pursued against her by the Gujarat government.

The CBI probe was initiated on the orders of the Home Ministry, that is alleging irregularities in some foreign contributions received by Sabrang Communications, headed by Teesta. Raids were carried out despite Ms. Setalvad’s assurances to the CBI that she and her organization would cooperate fully with the investigation. In the case against her filed by the Gujarat government, Ms. Setalvad’s organization Sabrang Trust had provided detailed responses to all the questions raised by the BJP-led government. As in previous attempts at harassing and intimidating Ms. Setalvad, the intent is clearly to browbeat her into submission and hamper the crucial work she and her organization are engaged in, in the cause of justice and accountability.

“The fact that the BJP governments, both at the state and central level have resorted to using the state security apparatus to intimidate a tireless worker for justice represents an affront to the constitutional guarantees of equality before the law for all citizens,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of IAMC. “It is ironical that the BJP had alleged that the CBI was a ‘politcal tool’ in the hands of the ruling party, when the BJP itself was in the opposition,” added Mr. Malick.

In stark contrast to the repressive measures against Ms. Setalvad and other human rights activists and whistleblowers, is the reprieve given to several accused in the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, at the behest of the BJP government. In February this year, 70 accused were acquitted by a local court in north Gujarat, while the Gujarat High Court granted bail to convicted mass murderer Ms. Maya Kodnani on the pretext that her appeal was pending. The dismal conviction rate in cases connected to the Gujarat pogroms, shows the government’s complete lack of interest in pursuing those that killed and raped with impunity.

“The government’s gunning for Teesta Setalvad does not diminish the gravity of the crimes committed by the perpetrators of the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, and the culpability of those in the administration that were complicit in the mass violence,” said Mr. Khalid Ansari, Vice President of IAMC. “Despite attempts by these culprits to subvert the justice system, the long arm of the law will surely catch up with them,” added Mr. Ansari.

Indian-American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our website at: http://www.iamc.com

CONTACT:
Indian American Muslim Council

Phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
Email:info@iamc.com

Facebook: Indian American Muslim Council

Twitter: @IAMCouncil

Address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.

REFERENCES:
CBI Raids Activist Teesta Setalvad’s Residence, Office in Mumbai
http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/cbi-raids-activist-teesta-setalvads-residence-office-in-mumbai-781228

Modi government’s hounding of Teesta Setalvad is a message to all dissidents
http://scroll.in/article/740762/modi-governments-hounding-of-teesta-setalvad-is-a-message-to-all-dissidents

After Teesta, Gujarat government guns for Ford Foundation, seeks probe
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/46926517.cms

Bombay HC grants interim bail to Teesta Setalvad, husband
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bombay-hc-grants-interim-bail-to-teesta-setalvad-husband/article5562176.ece

Teesta Setalvad disappointed with court decision on Gujarat riots, will appeal
http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2013/12/26/255-Teesta-Setalvad-disappointed-with-court-decision-on-Gujarat-riots-will-appeal.html

Teesta Setalvad: Wheels within wheels
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/article/20140111/ARTICLE/301119914/1099

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CBI raid at Teesta’s house ‘vindictive’, say Opposition MPs (Jul 16, 2015, Economic Times)

Expressing their solidarity with activist Teesta Setalvad, several opposition MPs including Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress and Sharad Yadav of JD(U) today accused the Centre of “subjecting her to the worst kind of harassment” to silence voices of dissent. In a joint statement, the opposition leaders said the recent CBI recent raid at her residence was a “blatant misuse” of the central agency for “vindictive reasons”.…

Setalvad has been severely critical of the BJP government in Gujarat over the 2002 riots and her NGO has been pursuing criminal cases against the accused. The state government has accused her of working at the behest of its political opponents and charged her with misappropriating money. Anand is also an activist and her husband.

The leaders hailed Setalvad, saying she had been working courageously to expose the criminal involvement of BJP leaders in the Gujarat riots, in which mostly Muslims were killed, and asserted that they were determined to support her.…

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48097536.cms

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Naroda Patiya Riots Case: HC bench recuses itself, says accused tried to approach them (Jul 16, 2015, Indian Express)

A division bench of Gujarat High Court on Wednesday recused itself from hearing appeals in 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case, with the judges saying that “an accused tried to approach a colleague”. The petitions were moved by former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, former VHP leader Babu Bajrangi, among others sentenced to life imprisonment challenging their conviction by a trial court in the case.

The division bench of justices M R Shah and K S Jhaveri ordered to place the matter where “either of us is not a member”. Justice Shah told the lawyers representing the convicts and the prosecution, “We have some reservations on conducting the case…an accused tried to approach a colleague.”

Earlier on Monday, Justice G B Shah, a member of the division bench led by Justice Jhaveri, had recused himself from hearing the case. On that day, the matter had been scheduled for fixing a date from when hearing on daily basis would begin.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/naroda-patiya-riots-case-hc-bench-recuses-itself-says-accused-tried-to-approach-them/

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Communal tension forces Maharashtra town to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr under curfew (Jul 19, 2015, Twocircles.net)

The continued communal tension at Karanja town in Washim district of Maharashtra that had ignited under the pretext of ‘Love Jihad’ forced Muslims to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr at home as the curfew orders in the area continued for 6 straight days.

Karanja came under communal tension on July 13 following the marriage of a youth from minority community with a girl from another community that resulted into death of a youth belonging to minority community, injuries to many others and damages to public property.

Police had imposed curfew orders in the town on July 14 due to escalated tension as the injured youth had succumbed to death. Ever since then curfew orders continues in the town and the usually daily lives of people has been badly affected.…

http://twocircles.net/2015jul19/1437311951.html

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Jamnagar custodial death case: HC rejects plea moved by accused, slaps Rs 25,000 fine for ‘misleading court’ (Jul 16, 2015, Indian Express)

The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday rejected a petition filed by a retired police officer, an accused in Jamnagar custodial death case, and slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on him for “abusing the law and misleading the court” while not disclosing the true facts of the case in the petition. Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt is also one of the seven accused involved in the case.

The single-bench of Justice Abhilasha Kumari dictated the order in an open court lambasting the petitioner Shailesh Pandya for hiding certain facts of the case. The case concerns the death of one Prabhudas Vaishani who was allegedly killed in police custody in 1990.

Pandya had moved a petition challenging a sessions court’s order in Jamnagar which rejected three applications moved by four co-accused who had sought documents and statements recorded by B B Desai Commission which probed the case. The sessions court had rejected their applications.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/jamnagar-custodial-death-case-hc-rejects-plea-moved-by-accused-slaps-rs-25000-fine-for-misleading-court/

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Malegaon, Samjautha blasts: A standstill as NIA yet to set up special court (Jul 20, 2015, One India)

The Malegaon and Samjhautha blast cases have come to a virtual standstill in the absence of a special court being set up by the National Investigating Agency. We have no idea when the special court will be set up and unless the same is done, the matter will not progress, the counsel for several accused persons say.

All the persons accused in these cases will have to wait until the special court has been set up. The case has already dragged on since October 10 2010.

The cases in question are being handled by the National Investigating Agency. It is for the NIA director to set up the special court so that the matter can move forward. Counsel for Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the case tells OneIndia that the case has dragged on for too long now.…

http://www.oneindia.com/india/malegaon-samjautha-blasts-a-standstill-as-nia-yet-to-set-up-special-court-1811653.html

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25 per cent Muslim inmates have no lawyers (Jul 11, 2015, Asian Age)

It has emerged that more than 25 per cent of Muslim prisoners in Maharashtra do not have a lawyer to represent their cases. This was revealed in a report published in 2011 by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

Four years on, the government has taken cognizance of the report and promised to work on it. (The study was focussed on the inmates from the Muslim community and so the comparative data is not available.) The study says the education level among them was also low with 26.8 per cent being illiterate and 48 per cent not having any employable skills.

The low education background may have forced them to become low earners as 42.7 per cent of them earn between 2,000 to 5,000 only per month, the study noted. A number of prisoners have reportedly pointed out that the police were prejudiced against them, which made them vulnerable to the corrupt system.…

http://www.asianage.com/mumbai/25-cent-muslim-inmates-have-no-lawyers-159

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Ram Temple in Ayodhya: Hindu Mahasabha claims VHP ‘pocketed’ Rs 1,400 cr; Singhal rubbishes charge (Jul 16, 2015, Indian Express)

Hindu organisation Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) has accused Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its associate units of pocketing more than Rs 1,400 crore in cash and “quintals of gold bricks”, which were collected from across the world as donations for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. The charge has been vehemently denied by the VHP.

“According to the design that Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and VHP leaders have prepared, the temple can be built by using only Rs 4 crore. There is anomaly in the use of donations that was collected for the temple’s construction. More than Rs 1,400 crore, apart from quintals of gold bricks, was collected as donation but VHP is claiming that the fund has been utilised in mere carving of stones,” said ABHM national spokesperson Devendra Pandey.

On behalf of ABHM, Pandey had written separate letters to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, VHP patron Ashok Singhal, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the VHP of misappropriation of funds.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/ram-temple-in-ayodhyahindu-mahasabha-claims-vhp-pocketed-rs-1400-cr-singhal-rubbishes-charge/

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Billionaire at Heart of Vyapam Scam Funded BJP, RSS Leaders: Tax Report (Jul 15, 2015, NDTV)

A mining baron arrested on charges of being a prime player in the Vyapam or jobs scandal in Madhya Pradesh paid for the air tickets and other undefined expenses of top leaders of the BJP and its ideological parent, the RSS, according to an income tax report from 2013. That report was not pursued by state police investigators who were handling the Vyapam inquiry till this week, when the CBI took over.

“We are not shielding anyone. But let’s not go by one odd report… let’s wait for the CBI investigation,” said the BJP’s Shaina NC to NDTV. The document from 2013 said Sudhir Sharma, whose vast business empire includes mines and colleges, had made “huge payments in cash for air tickets, travel bills, etc” for a group of politicians including Suresh Soni of the RSS and Prabhat Jha, then state president of the BJP.

The report was based on diaries recovered in raids on Sudhir Sharma and said the billionaire made “payments for travel arrangements of important political personalities” like Laxmikant Sharma, former Mining and Education Minister in Madhya Pradesh and Dharmendra Pradhan, now a union minister; Congress state legislator Veer Singh Bhuria, the report said, received “regular payments” from Sudhir Sharma. “All those who are guilty should be punished,” said Tom Vaddakan of his party.…

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/top-political-leaders-facilitated-vyapam-scam-whistleblowers-tell-supreme-court-781672

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Asaram Bapu rape case – In godman they fear (Jul 19, 2015, Indian Express)

…Two years ago, his daughter, then 16, was the first to file a rape charge against ‘godman’ Asaram Basu. On July 10, a second witness in the cases against Asaram was shot, just 7 km from their home. The alleged rape victim hardly lifts her head as she talks, seated in a corner of a sofa, staring at her fingernails. “After he (Asaram) was arrested, I thought we would be safe. I even started going for computer coaching classes. But then the threats started and I was asked to study at home,” she says. She had lodged the complaint on August 20, 2013, in Delhi, accusing Asaram of raping her at his ashram in Jodhpur. A month later, Asaram was arrested.…

Asked about August 15, 2013, the day of the alleged incident, she takes a long pause. Her eyes now fixed on the floor, she recalls, “My parents and I were offered some milk. They were then asked to go away, while I was taken to Asaram’s hut. He asked me about my studies, and then told me to go check on my parents. I came back and told him they were resting. I went to use the washroom, and when I returned, he was standing there without clothes. I got scared. That scene just does not leave my mind.”

She said she shouted, but the hut was secluded. “He told me he was god, I should offer myself to him and started touching me. I was told my parents and I would not live if I made a scene. He said I was on the path to success and would be made a sevika.”…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/sunday-story-asaram-bapu-rape-case-in-godman-they-fear/

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Dalit Youth Tortured in Custody Dies (Jul 19, 2015, Peoples Democracy)

A young Dalit youth who was subjected to a severe third degree torture in lockup by the Kerala police and as a result had underwent an eleven day long painful treatment, has passed away on July 11. P V Sibi (39), a head load worker from Marangattupilly village of Kottayam district was the new victim of custodial torture. Sibi was taken into custody for an alleged reason of drinking alcohol in public place. Sibi is survived by wife Priya and three children.

The brutality of the police force of Kerala under home minister Ramesh Chennithala, is alarming. This incident follows the series of police atrocities on the students who protested against the delay in the distribution of textbooks for the schools. This new incident occurred on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the proclamation of political emergency in Kerala.

Sibi, son of Vishwambharan and Leela was admitted to Medical College Hospital in an unconscious condition. He was put on a life support system. Doctors found cerebral bleeding due to brutal custodial torture. He succumbed to injuries on July 11.…

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2015/0719_pd/dalit-youth-tortured-custody-dies

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Opinions and Editorials

Open Intimidation – Editorial (Jul 18, 2015, EPW)

The Modi government’s relentless harassment and intimidation of human rights activists Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand is symptomatic of a larger strategy to suppress all dissent and dissenters in the country. There can be no justification for the manner in which the government has gone after this couple for what it claims are violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). If they are one amongst around 9,000 non-governmental organisations receiving foreign funds that are believed not to have adhered to the law, why is it that only this couple is being persecuted?

The reasons are apparent. Setalvad and Anand, and the three organisations they represent – Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Sabrang Communications and Sabrang Trust – have been in the forefront of the fight against communal forces. CJP’s assistance to survivors of the communal carnage in Gujarat in 2002 has been principally responsible for the conviction of around 120 persons who participated in the violent attacks on Muslims. The Bilkees Lateef case, the Best Bakery case and the notorious Naroda Patiya case stand out as instances of the effectiveness of civil society intervention.…

The harassment of Greenpeace and Setalvad are part of the larger picture that is emerging. Increasingly, the space for dissent, so essential in any democracy, is being squeezed out. It is being done through open intimidation, as seen in the CBI raid on Setalvad, or through harassment over funding, or by physical intimidation of activists, often of people who do not belong to large organisations. This incremental but diabolic and organised suppression of dissent and dissenters has to be exposed and opposed. If not, then the remaining spaces for questioning the acts of the powerful in this country will disappear altogether.

http://www.epw.in/editorials/open-intimidation.html

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There’s a chilling similarity – By Teesta Setalvad (Jul 18, 2015, Indian Express)

The formal declaration of the Emergency was preceded by a period when the government, bit by bit, in a sinister manner, eroded the independence of the judiciary. The separation of powers, on which the basic structure of the Constitution rests, is firm in the fundamental formation of both judicial autonomy and independence. It is this judicial integrity, autonomy and independence that are under assault and severe threat today.…

That our higher judiciary is facing a serious issue of credibility – a result of both perception and reality – makes this face-off even more sinister. The regime is riding high on this perception, never mind the fact that it represents a worldview that has shown, through past and present conduct, scant respect for fundamental rights or the Constitution. Given this complex scenario, it becomes necessary to look closely at the present attempt (even more crass than in the 1970s) of the executive to browbeat our judiciary.…

In those dark days, the silver lining was the audible protest from the Bar. Today, when we await a verdict on which the future of India could hinge, a studied silence, by and large, prevails. Faced with a regime defined by its credo of vendetta-driven governance, the India that was built on the wisdom of men and women who had, through sweat, principles and toil, fought against a colonial oppressor, needs to give voice to a spirited resistance that reaffirms its fundamentals.

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/theres-a-chilling-similarity/

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RSS & Politics: Marriage Of Convenience – By Shamsul Islam (Jul 20, 2015, Countercurrents)

According to the press reports RSS leadership is annoyed with its senior functionary, Indresh Kumar who defended Sushma Swaraj, external affairs minister in the NDA government at the Centre currently involved in the Lalitgate. The Times of India (June 22, 2015) report quoting the RSS sources said, “the leadership’s annoyance with Indresh was not over the content of what he said, but the fact that he chose to dwell on the matter at all. The remark ran contrary to RSS’s insistence on being an apolitical organization…” The report described it the “hands off” attitude towards BJP.

The claim of the RSS that it is apolitical and BJP is an independent political party is not substantiated if we look at the concerned documents available in the RSS archives. The most prominent ideologue of the RSS, MS Golwalkar, openly declared that it had political ambitions and wanted to control politics directly. It was in total violation of the pledge to the Government of India that RSS would not indulge in political activities.…

The RSS keeps on dissociating from its off-shoots as per its convenience. For instance it used Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) for attacking Christians in late 1990s and when public opinion, media, judiciary and Parliament seemed to turn against it, RSS denied any relation with HJM. Moreover, when nefarious designs of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Dharam Sansad were exposed before the nation, RSS announced that these were independent organizations. It is a marriage of convenience between RSS and politics.

http://www.countercurrents.org/islam200715.htm

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Another Vyapam In The Making? – By Ankush Vats (Jul 25, 2015, Tehelka)

…Ansh’s father Kripal Singh was recently shot dead by two unidentified bike-borne assailants in broad daylight, few kilometers away from his house. Kripal was a witness in the molestation case against the self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu. He had given his statement in court around a year ago against Asaram and was supposed to appear for another hearing in a few days.

The assailants are still at large but the family has alleged that the he was killed by the goons of Asaram. Two key witnesses associated with the case had already been killed. Even three days after the incident, the police have been unable to identify the accused.…

Kripal was a witness in the molestation case against Asaram which was filed by the victim’s father, Karamveer Singh, a transporter in Shahjahanpur. Rubbishing the media reports that Kripal was his employee, he says “He was an lic agent and used to come here almost every day for selling policies to my employees. Even on the tragic day, he had come in the morning. We had become good friends and would go to Asaram’s satsang together.”…

http://www.tehelka.com/another-vyapam-in-the-making/

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Growing resistance – By T. K. Rajalakshmi (Jul 24, 2015, Frontline)

On May 30, in the course of an interview to a national daily, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a curious statement. He said that the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Bill was not a matter of life and death for him and that he was ready to accept suggestions. In a striking coincidence, on the same day the Union Cabinet decided to re-promulgate for a third time the LARR Ordinance, 2015, which was due to lapse on June 4.

The official reason given was that it was done to maintain continuity and to ensure that farmers did not suffer. On June 23, in the course of a trip to the United States, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaking at Stanford, California, on India’s economic future said that the 2013 land law had hindered the development of rural India. His government had the numbers to have the Bill approved and could call a joint session of Parliament if it was stalled. Hopeful of the passage of what he called a “landmark reform”, he did not give a timeline for the joint session but said that the Bill’s passage was crucial for the next phase of economic reforms. All this was said when a Parliament-appointed Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was hearing depositions on the contentious ordinance amending the original Act.

The Bill replacing the ordinance was passed in the Lok Sabha on March 10 with 10 amendments, but the government resorted to the ordinance route following sustained opposition in the Rajya Sabha. In order to ensure that the ordinance did not lapse because of the impasse, the Rajya Sabha was prorogued. Subsequently, the President gave his assent for the re-promulgation of the ordinance for a third time.…

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/growing-resistance/article7391905.ece

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The Politics Of Welfare – By Alam Srinivas (Jul 25, 2015, Tehelka)

It is a fight that has raged on for a decade. It is a battle to ensure that poor children and deprived pregnant and lactating women get a nutritious diet. It is a war to rightfully implement the grandiose central scheme, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). It is a cause, in which the civil society and Supreme Court (SC) had to intervene regularly to prevent the central and state regimes from side-stepping, bypassing and over-ruling the rules that were set by the apex court.

Although the original intentions of the policy makers were honest – they wanted poor children and mothers to eat well – ICDS was derailed because of obvious reasons like corruption, inefficiency and non-governance. In most states, it became a case of policy- and implementation-capture; powerful interest groups appropriated the scheme, and took it away from the locals. Politicians, bureaucrats and private contractors shared the central booty amongst themselves.…

Clearly, the well-intentioned and much-needed icds finds itself in a political whirlpool. Despite public utterances to involve local communities, the policy drafters have either deliberately or otherwise introduced clauses that may achieve the opposite objective. Modi has to tackle these crucial issues before he can convince the citizens that he offers good and transparent governance.

http://www.tehelka.com/the-politics-of-welfare/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 13th, 2015

July 15, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Digest Communal Harmony Jamaat to establish local chapters of Sadbhavna Manch to strengthen communal harmony in country News Headlines 2002 riots: Gujarat HC to hear Zakia Jafri’s plea on July 27 Indian police raid home of leading rights activist and Modi critic NIA closes Modasa blast case in which […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 6th, 2015

July 7, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines SC stay over, HC to hear Naroda Patia appeals UN report “regrets” extra-judicial killings in Gujarat, objects to reinstatement of responsible cops in higher positions Suspected Terrorist Shot At, Turns Out To Be A Delhi Cop Hindu terror probe: NIA yet to lay hands on masterminds Communal […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 29th, 2015

June 30, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Communal harmony over iftar at Delhi’s Jama Masjid News Headlines US report: Gujarat govt moved against top activist Teesta Setalvad after she sought to indict Modi in 2002 riots Since this new govt came, I have been told to go soft on accused (Hindu extremists): Special Public […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 22nd, 2015

June 24, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony A run for amity in Muzaffarnagar Religious harmony: Hindus in UP to observe Ramadan fast with Muslim neighbours News Headlines Modi’s 365 day rule characterized by 1,618 cases of serious human rights violations: Civil society report FIR against Hindu Mahasabha leader Sadhvi Deva Thakur for remarks on […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 15th, 2015

June 16, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines International Yoga Day: It’s RSS, Centre’s way to propel Hindutva agenda Tripura suspends three cops for custody death UP journalist killing: Five policemen suspended Advocate Pracha threatened by Rajasthan ATS officer for defending terror accused RSS Activists Attack Christian Religious Gatherings In Kerala CCTV footage shows Ramdev’s […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 8th, 2015

June 9, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Naroda Gam post-Godhra riots case: Court seeks SIT officer’s reply on missing CD Ishrat Jahan Fake Encounter: Centre Denies Permission To Prosecute IB Officials Muslim leaders oppose Yoga, say Suryanamaskar against the basic teaching of Islam Aam Aadmi Party report blames ML Khattar’s rally for Ballabhgarh riot […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 1st, 2015

June 2, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Hindu-Muslim bonhomie in Bihar town News Headlines Ballabhgarh riot victims blame local SHO, says NCM report Communal tension in Lucknow following clashes Fifty Gujarat NGOs “join hands” with Congress, AAP, Swaraj Samvad, decide to start “mega agitation” against Modi ‘Ghar Wapsi’ victims, Sikh rights group file lawsuit […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 25th, 2015

May 25, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Diamond exporter charged for denying Muslim a job 2002 riots call records: SIT court summons officer Himanshu Shukla to explain misplaced CDs Teesta Setalvad: Modi’s Silence on Attacks on Minorities Shows Tacit Consent Saffron trade union snubs RSS, to join protest against govt PMO Not Disclosing Foreign […]

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