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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 13th, 2017

by newsdigest on February 23, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

ISI agents arrested in Madhya Pradesh linked to BJP (Feb 10, 2017, India Today)

The arrest of 11 alleged ISI operatives by the Madhya Pradesh Anti Terrorist Squad on Thursday has come to bite the ruling BJP after allegations surfaced that one of the arrested operatives was a relative of a sitting BJP corporator.

The Congress has now alleged that Dhruv Saxena – another arrested operative – was the district coordinator of the party’s IT cell in Madhya Pradesh. Saxena was also seen attending an event that was addressed by state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Pictures of Saxena attending the event in saffron robes have gone viral on social media.

Congress on Friday held a protest where demonstrators burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and raised anti-ISI slogans. “They talk about character and culture but now ISI agents have been arrested from across the state and they are BJP leaders. They have connections with top BJP leader,” PC Sharma of the Bhopal district Congress said.…

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/isi-agents-arrested-in-madhya-pradesh-linked-to-bjp-party-leaders-privately-express-anguish-over-possible-infiltration/1/880043.html

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How a Murder Victim’s Family Prevented Communal Clashes in Poll-bound Bijnor (Feb 13, 2017, News18.com)

…Police was deployed in Peda and Nayagaon villages and communal tensions were high. Leading the protests were local BJP leaders, who demanded the arrest of all the accused.… On Saturday afternoon, while 15 districts in western UP were heading to polls, BJP workers blocked one of the main crossings in the city for five hours and demanded “Justice for Vishal”. Traders, too, downed their shutters in protest. That is when Vishal’s family realized the situation could get out of control.

“Some people who were protesting were asking us to bring Vishal’s body on to the main crossing so that we could all protest together. When I went out, I noticed that the crowd was getting aggressive. In fact, a couple of people in the crowd were even drunk and started shouting expletives at the other community. We realized that the situation could soon get out of control. We decided to just go back home instead of joining the protest. If we had gone there with Vishal’s body, passions would have erupted and there would be riots in Bijnor. I am glad that better sense prevailed over our family. We don’t want any more bloodshed,” Rajiv Singh says.

…Two days after the clashes broke out, police investigations revealed that Aishwarya Chuadhary, the district president of the RSS-affiliated Adhivakta Sangh, had been accused of leading the violence. Statements of the accused, police had said, named both Chaudhary and his gunner. According to reports, the violence had died down after an initial flare up but Aishwarya Chaudhary had instigated the mob to return and fire upon members of the other community. Cops also recovered evidence, including pictures of Chaudhary at the scene. Interestingly, Chaudhary’s wife Shuchi Chaudhary is the BJP candidate for the Bijnor assembly constituency.…

http://www.news18.com/news/india/how-the-victims-family-prevented-clashes-in-poll-bound-bijnor-1348391.html

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Sunil Joshi murder case: Prosecution questions Sadhvi Pragya Singh’s acquittal, says ‘no ground for appeal’ (Feb 9, 2017, Financial Express)

Soon after the acquittal of Sadhvi Pragya Singh in the Sunil Joshi murder case, the prosecution has written to the Madhya Pradesh government that ‘there is no ground for appeal’.… Sadhvi along with seven other accused were acquitted by the First Additional Sessions Judge, Dewas, earlier this month.… Joshi’s sister-in-law Shailaja questioned Sadhvi’s acquittal a day after the verdict came out. She also indicated that the family was indifferent to the verdict or to an appeal.

As per records, the probe into the murder of Joshi was linked with a larger plot of terror by alleged Hindu extremists and the case took several twists and turns which prompted the judge to remark, “The analysis of entire evidence reveals that either out of prejudice or some unknown reasons the agencies did not seriously investigate the case and collected weak and mutually contradictory evidence that is not enough to prove the charges. The contrary nature of evidence has cast a serious doubt over the prosecution story.”

The judge had also highlighted certain glaring contradictions. Even after 2 years of Joshi’s murder, the MP police was not able to file a closure report. In 2010, ATS in Rajasthan (under the Congress regime) made the first arrest in the case, that of Harshad Solanki. The arrest was made in connection with the Ajmer blast and was later brought to Dewas on transit demand. As per Dewas police Solanki was also accused in Gujarat’s Best Bakery case, who shot Joshi. According to the chargesheet filed by the police in the Dewas court in February 2011, Sadhvi was a conspirator and both Solanki and Ramesh on whose two-wheeler he was riding pillion at the time of murder had confessed to the crime.…

http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/sunil-joshi-murder-case-prosecution-questions-sadhvi-pragya-singhs-acquittal-says-no-ground-for-appeal/544302/

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Trump told: US-based Hindutva groups funding hatred against India’s Christians, Muslims under FCRA cover (Feb 11, 2017, Counterview)

US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has asked newly-appointed President Donald Trump to put “religious freedom and human rights at the heart of all trade, aid, and diplomatic interactions with India” and urge the Government of India “to push Indian states that have adopted anti-conversion laws to repeal or amend them to conform to international norms.”

An independent, bipartisan US federal government commission, in its latest recommendations, which have also been sent to the US Secretary of State, and the Congress, USCIRF, referring to the clampdown on NGOs under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976, has sought their intervention to “urge the Indian government to immediately lift its sanctions against NGOs working for the welfare of the minorities in India.”

In an unusually sharp critique of the BJP-led NDA government, the USCIRF wants the US administration to identify and act against “Hindutva groups that raise funds from US citizens and support hate campaigns in India”, adding, “Such groups should be banned from operating in the US if they are found to spread hatred against religious minorities in India.” Referring to the March 2016 amendment to the FCRA, introduced “to legalize funding by foreign entities to political parties”, the USCIRF states, “The amendment enables foreign Hindu organizations to send money to India-based radical Hindu organizations”.…

http://www.counterview.net/2017/02/trump-told-us-based-hindutva-groups.html

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Religious minorities, Dalits face discrimination in India, says US body (Feb 9, 2017, Business Standard)

The religious minority communities and Dalits face discrimination and persecution in India where hate crimes, social boycotts and forced conversion have escalated dramatically since 2014, an independent bipartisan American body has claimed, asking the US to put human rights at the heart of trade and diplomatic interactions with India.

“Under Congress Party and BJP-led governments, religious minority communities and Dalits, both have faced discrimination and persecution due to a combination of overly broad or ill-defined laws, an inefficient criminal justice system, and a lack of jurisprudential consistency,” said a report released by US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that monitors violation of religious freedom abroad.

“In particular, since 2014, hate crimes, social boycotts, assaults, and forced conversion have escalated dramatically,” says the report ‘Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India’ which has been authored by Iqtidat Karamat Cheema, who is director for Institute for Leadership and Community Development, in Birmingham, England.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/religious-minorities-dalits-face-discrimination-in-india-says-us-body-117020900336_1.html

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Mathura BJP candidate booked for hate and communal speech (Feb 6, 2017, Times of India)

Mathura police has registered a case of communal and hate speech against BJP Yuva wing state general secretary and party’s candidate from Maat constituency of Mathura, Kunwar Singh Nishad.

Confirming the move, ADM, Ravindra Kumar, said cases have been registered against two people, including the BJP candidate, for using indecent words and communal and hate language during public meeting at Ashok Kumar Mishra Girls Degree College on Sunday.

According to police while addressing the meeting Nishad dubbed himself to be a true follower of “bharat mata” (mother India) and said he would not tolerate any “khilwad” with her.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/56997279.cms

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35% of Muzaffarnagar riot victims not registered with EC as voters: Survey (Feb 9, 2017, Times of India)

At least 35% of people who were displaced after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots are not registered as “voters” with the Election Commission, finds a survey conducted by NGO Afkar India Foundation. With elections in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli just a couple of days away (February 11), a complaint in this regard has been filed with the EC.

While the study was conducted after the local administration concluded its voter ID drive, the survey findings suggest that there are colonies in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli where nearly 40% people don’t have a voter ID. For instance, in Shamli’s Alflan colony, out of 900 residents eligible to cast their ballot, only 11 have voter ID cards. The survey reveals that 19,000 “voters” were displaced after the 2013 riots and 6,650 of them don’t have voter IDs.…

Akram Akhtar, who runs Afkar India Foundation and is the co-author of “Living Apart: Communal Violence and Forces Displacement”, a field report which was brought to fore by social activists in September last year, said, “I have filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India and the State Election Commission and hope that action is taken. Voting is the right of all Indians and keeping riot victims aloof is not a good sign.”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/57046456.cms

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Year after sedition row, JNU rejects ABVP request for lecture (Feb 8, 2017, DNA India)

The JNU administration has turned down a request by ABVP for a “nationalism lecture” tomorrow fearing it may lead to tension on campus on the first anniversary of the sedition row.

After a year of controversies following the arrest of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar for sedition on JNU campus, the varsity administration is treading cautiously to maintain “peace and harmony” on “crucial” days.

The event against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru last year triggered a nationalism debate across the country hogging all the “negative” limelight for JNU, which has led the administration to turn down ABVP’s request for a “nationalism lecture” tomorrow fearing it may disrupt peace on campus.…

http://www.dnaindia.com/academy/report-year-after-sedition-row-jnu-rejects-abvp-request-for-lecture-2316499

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Delhi High Court seeks polygraph tests to trace missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed (Feb 11, 2017, New Indian Express)

The Delhi High Court on Friday said that it had asked the city police to explore methods like lie-detector tests for those who are connected with the disappearance of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Najeeb Ahmed, as all other leads have failed to yield any result so far.

Najeeb, 27, has been missing since October 15 last year, following an altercation with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) students at his hostel the night before. Later, Najeeb’s mother Fatima Nafees had moved a habeas corpus plea in the court seeking help to trace her son.…

“The student had gone missing in October (2016), it is February now. Nearly four months have gone by and none of the leads is going anywhere. We asked for polygraph tests as the other leads have not yielded any results,” said a Bench comprising Justices G S Sistani and Vinod Goel.…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2017/feb/11/delhi-high-court-seeks-polygraph-tests-to-trace-missing-jnu-student-najeeb-ahmed-1569329.html

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RSS leader arrested for murder of convert (Feb 9, 2017, Indian Express)

An RSS leader has been arrested in Kerala’s Malappuram district in connection with the murder of an upper-caste Hindu man months after he converted to Islam. Madathil Narayanan, 47, is an RSS pracharak and saha karyavahak of the organisation in Tirur taluk. Earlier, 14 other workers of BJP or RSS have been arrested in connection with the murder of P Faizal, a native of Tirur.

Police have identified Narayanan as the key conspirator in the murder of Faizal, who was hacked to death on November 19, a day before he was to return to Gulf where he was employed. Faizal, an upper caste Hindu Nair, had converted to Islam a few months before he was murdered.

Police said Narayanan was also an accused in the murder of a priest Ayyappan after he converted to Islam in 1998. A trial court had acquitted Narayanan and five others, but the high court sentenced them to life imprisonment. But on July 20 last year, the Supreme Court acquitted all the accused. Narayanan allegedly plotted Faizal’s murder four months after the apex court order set him free.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/rss-leader-arrested-for-murder-of-convert-p-faizal/

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Opinions and Editorials

ISI spies and sex rackets: BJP’s MP unit has become a haven for criminals – By Rahul Noronha (Feb 15, 2017, Dailyo.in)

In a major embarrassment to the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh, two persons arrested by the police’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) during an investigation into a spy ring turned out to have strong links with the party. The party that is known to wear its nationalism on its sleeve initially responded by not reacting to the arrests and then moved on to give clarifications on how those arrested had peripheral roles before finally acknowledging the action and congratulating the ATS for its work.

If this were not enough, two BJP office bearers were also nabbed by the police in separate cases of running sex rackets. The ongoing crackdown against illegal mining in the state also had some relatives of BJP leaders in the net. The penetration of the party by criminal elements should be a cause for concern to the party. In November 2016, Satvinder and Dadu were arrested in Jammu for supplying classified information to their handlers across the border. The MP ATS had been alerted after a state link was found in it. After mounting surveillance on the suspects, ATS arrested 11 people from Gwalior, Bhopal, Satna and Jabalpur.…

Close on the heels of the spy ring, the Bhopal police cracked a sex racket in which another BJP leader was found involved. The Shivpuri police arrested Rajji Randhawa, a local BJP leader on charges of pushing a girl in Indore in the flesh trade.… The embarrassment was evident when BJP state president Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan told state delegates that he was reprimanded by BJP president Amit Shah for the involvement of criminals in the party. Whether that happened or not, one doesn’t know but it is up to the party leadership to weed out criminal elements. It, however, seems improbable in the MP BJP unit as of now given the welcoming-with-open-arms policy which the party seems to be following in the state.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/bjp-isi-agant-dhruv-saxena-pakistan/story/1/15670.html

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Who Paid for the Pro-BJP Exit Poll that Dainik Jagran Published? – By Siddharth Varadarajan (Feb 15, 2017, The Wire)

Many sins were committed when the owners of Dainik Jagran decided to run an exit poll on their website on February 12, 2017 claiming the BJP had a massive lead over its rivals in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

The publication and dissemination of the poll in the middle of a multi-phase set of elections was a violation of explicit guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India… since we know the poll was a form of paid news, the individual or party that has paid the bill needs to disclose the amount and method of payment as part of their formal returns to the Election Commission.…

how did Dainik Jagran end up crediting ‘Resource Development International’ with the poll? This is a question the police and the EC need to ask the owner of the newspaper. Curiously, there is another organisation with the same initials, RDI – short for ‘Research and Development Initiative’ – that not only has a history of conducting election surveys but has links to the Bharatiya Janata Party as well.…

https://thewire.in/109087/who-paid-for-the-pro-bjp-exit-poll-that-dainik-jagran-published/

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Rewriting history to suit Hindutva: The Vasundhara Raje govt is insulting the legacy of Maharana Pratap – By Sandipan Sharma (Feb 11, 2017, First Post)

…A few years ago, for instance, the department of public relations of the Rajasthan state government came up with a unique explanation for Raje’s election as chief minister. In a “fan-ticle” published in its official publication, the department said Raje’s ancestor Jayappa Scindia, a ruler of Gwalior, was killed in a battle in Rajasthan’s Nagaur in 1759. The magazine claimed his dying words were that his soul will get mukti (salvation) only when a Scindia becomes Rajasthan’s ruler. Thus the ascension of Maharani Vasundhara Raje Scindia to the democratic throne, even though it took a good three centuries.

If history can be rewritten for the benefit of the winners of electoral battles, imagine how followers of the royalty would be itching to control the narrative around some of their legendary warriors and kings, especially the big three – Prithviraj Chouhan of Ajmer, and Rana Sanga and Maharana Pratap of Mewar.

The Rajasthan government’s latest attempt to rewrite history is to announce Maharana Pratap as the winner of the Battle of Haldighati fought in 1576. The post-truth was proposed by a BJP legislator from Jaipur and readily forwarded by the vice-chancellor of the University of Rajasthan for appropriate action. While the verdict on the new winner of the battle is awaited, some Rajput leaders and legislators have joined the chorus for rewriting history and declaring Rana Pratap as the winner.…

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/bjps-vasundhara-raje-govt-distorts-fact-around-maharana-pratap-to-suit-hindutva-politics-3277604.html

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Rijiju’s Hindu conversion tweet is a mischievous attempt to twist facts – By Aasheesh Sharma (Feb 14, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju has invited the wrath of Opposition parties with his remark about the depleting Hindu population. In a tweet on Monday, Rijiju said: “Hindu population is reducing in India because Hindus never convert people. Minorities in India are flourishing unlike some countries around (sic).”

Rijiju is not the first member of the saffron brigade in the country to whip up passions by raising the spectre of majority Hindus being outnumbered by the minorities owing to conversion or much higher rates of population growth.…

Not just is Rijiju’s tweet the latest in the litany of alarmist statements saffron organisations such as the Vishva Hindu Parishad want to propagate, it couldn’t have been further from reality, if Census data and projections are anything to go by. According to the 2011 Census, in absolute numbers, the population of Hindus stood at 966 million, rising from 828 million in 2001. In comparison, the absolute population of Muslims in the 2011 Census was 138 million.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/rijiju-s-hindu-conversion-tweet-is-a-mischievous-attempt-to-twist-facts/story-IoS3SK0BVDDqKwP5DuoQHL.html

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I lost 13 years, my wife and my mother because of false terror charges: Hanif Pakitwala – By Amit Kumar (Feb 12, 2017, Twocircles.net)

…Hanif was one of the two people absolved of all charges last week by the Supreme Court in relation to the May 2002 Ahmedabad tiffin bomb blast case. For the past 13 years, Hanif had been labeled a terrorist; he had never been to the police station in his life until the fateful night of April 28, 2003.… To his horror, he found that he along with 21 others had been accused of bomb blasts in the city when he was presented in the court on May 1, 2003.

“Since then, I have been wondering. Why me?” Hanif says. To make matters worse for Hanif, he along with others were implicated under the now defunct law POTA, which denied bail. But, Hanif says, he knew that since he was innocent, there was nothing that could go wrong. At least that is what he thought.…

Over the next week, as his release papers were getting ready, Hanif could barely sleep. Finally, on Wednesday when he was released, he stepped out and hugged his family in the open air for the first time. “We cried…we cried a lot. I cried thinking of my departed mother, wife, who were waiting for this day.…

http://twocircles.net/2017feb12/404601.html

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In Its Third Month, India’s Cash Shortage Begins to Bite – By Geeta Anand and Hari Kumar (Jan 24, 2017, New York Times)

First, Yashpal Singh Rathore’s marriage was delayed by his future in-laws, who, like most Indians, ran short of cash after Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned the country’s largest currency notes in November. Then the 29-year-old lost his job when the ensuing cash crunch hit demand for motorcycles and scooters sold by the company where he worked, Hero MotoCorp Ltd. After that, the prospective in-laws refused to let the wedding go forward until he found another job. “So I lost my job and I lost my marriage,” he said in an interview at a protest, where he shouted slogans with more than 100 red-flag-waving workers let go by Hero.

Mr. Rathore is one among a large number of Indians – the precise number is not known – who have lost their jobs since Nov. 8, when Mr. Modi abruptly banned 86 percent of the country’s currency in a bid to eliminate “black money,” currency on which taxes had not been paid. For the sake of secrecy, the government largely avoided printing replacement notes in advance. So there has been an acute and protracted shortage of cash as the government struggles to catch up. That, in turn, has proved economically damaging.

Exactly how harmful remains hard to determine, but the available data is not reassuring. Demand for vegetables is declining because people don’t have the money to pay for them, for example, and some service industries are reporting steep job losses. The International Monetary Fund this month cut its projected growth rate for India by one percentage point for the current fiscal year, to 6.6 percent. While the full impact is still difficult to discern, there is little doubt who is suffering the most. “This has actually hurt the poor enormously,” said Nasser Munjee, chairman of DCB Bank and a company director at HDFC and Tata Motors.…

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/24/world/asia/in-its-third-month-indias-cash-shortage-begins-to-bite.html

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 6th, 2017

by newsdigest on February 16, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

50,000 Gujarat riot victims still displaced, lack housing rights, 20% women face triple talaq: Janvikas book (Jan 28, 2017, Counterview)

A new book released on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Janvikas, one of the premier civil rights organisations of India, has estimated that around 50,000 Gujarat 2002 riot-affected Muslims should be qualified to be considered internally-displaced persons (IDPs) – a term coined by the United Nations to identify those ravaged by violent social conflicts.

Giving a graphic picture of their living conditions and empowerment, especially among women, the book, titled “Creating Spaces: Nurturing Leadership” – which focuses, among other issues, on the impact of the 2002 communal carnage on Gujarat’s IDPs – believes, many of them live in an “extremely vulnerable” condition in several of the 86-odd colonies in seven districts.

The most pressing issue of these IDPs, insists the book, is housing ownership. The religious trusts which earlier gave lands for housing, are now reluctant to give them housing rights, the book regrets, adding, what is now being assured is residential rights and not ownership rights, which has brought them much current insecurity.…

http://www.counterview.net/2017/01/50000-gujarat-riot-victims-still.html

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After 13 years in jail, SC acquits two accused (Feb 3, 2017, Times of India)

The Supreme Court on Thursday acquitted two persons and upheld conviction of two others in connection with the 2002 tiffin-bomb blast case, in which the state government had invoked the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

Habib Hawa and Hanif Pakitwala will walk out declared innocent, after spending 13 years in jail. The apex court also ended the imprisonment of two others – Anas Machiswala and Kalim Ahmed – and ordered their release by treating the 13 years they spent in jail as punishment already undergone. All four were convicted to life imprisonment by Gujarat high court, their advocate Khalid Shaikh said.

These four men were convicted in relation to five bombs planted in tiffin boxes aboard Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) buses on May 29, 2002. Three of the bombs went off, injuring 13 persons. The blasts were shown to be a reaction to the 2002 riots.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/56942779.cms

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Sadiq Jamal Encounter: CBI court reserves order on discharge plea of accused cop (Feb 5, 2017, Indian Express)

A special CBI court on Saturday reserved its verdict on the discharge application moved by retired Deputy Superintendent of Police K M Vaghela, an accused in the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter case. The court is likely to pronounce the order on February 28.

This is the first discharge application moved by an accused in this case. Vaghela has claimed that there is evidence against him in the case. He has also claimed that the CBI has not taken mandatory sanction from the state government under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for prosecuting a government servant.

Vaghela is among the eight policemen, including DySP Tarun Barot, who were chargesheeted by the CBI in December 2012. All the accused are out on bail. The second chargesheet is being awaited as the investigation is not yet over.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/sadiq-jamal-encounter-cbi-court-reserves-order-on-discharge-plea-of-accused-cop/

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Husband jailed for rioting, wife gets BJP ticket for UP election (Feb 3, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Suchi Chaudhury, the Bharatiya Janta Party’s candidate for Bijnor City, sat beside a giant stuffed teddy bear embroidered with the words “So Sweet”, and explained why she was contesting one of the tightest seats in Uttar Pradesh’s pivotal election.…

Chaudhury’s husband, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member Aishwarya “Mausam” Chaudhury, is one of 31 people currently in jail for allegedly inciting a communal riot between Jats and Muslims in the villages of Peda and Nayagaon in September 2016 in which three Muslims were shot dead and scores were injured. The violence was part of a string of similar clashes that have polarised the region’s Jats and Muslims into opposing camps.

Forty three percent of Bijnor’s population is Muslim, 20 percent is Dalit, the remaining are land-owning Jats and assorted general castes, making this seat a bellwether for the many forces that have made Uttar Pradesh’s election so hard to call.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/assembly-elections/husband-jailed-for-rioting-wife-gets-bjp-ticket-for-up-election/story-BDh1Kln3ghF0hjzLbfoZ0I.html

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BJP and RSS targeting SCAM – SCs and minorities: Sitaram Yechury (Feb 6, 2017, First Post)

Attacking the BJP-led central government, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Sunday alleged minorities and people belonging to the Scheduled Castes were being targeted by the Sangh Parivar outfits under the watch of the Narendra Modi government.

“Yesterday, the Prime Minister, speaking at a rally in Uttar Pradesh where elections are going on, said the BJP and RSS are in a big struggle against what he called the SCAM.” “…If the Prime Minister is saying that he is fighting the SCAM, the RSS and the BJP are fighting the SCAM – Scheduled Castes and Minorities – in our country,” he told a rally organised by the DYFI here as part of its national conference. Modi had on Saturday said the election in Uttar Pradesh was BJP’s fight against ‘scam’; ‘S’ for Samajwadi, ‘C’ for Cong, ‘A’ for Akhilesh, ‘M’ for Mayawati.

Referring to the incidents of attack against Dalits and minorities in the country after the Modi government assumed office, Yechury alleged that the BJP government was completely against the Dalits and minorities.…

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/bjp-and-rss-targeting-scam-scs-and-minorities-sitaram-yechury-3268252.html

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Congress seeks parliamentary probe into Ahamed’s death (Feb 6, 2017, The Hindu)

Led by their leader Rahul Gandhi, Congress MPs on Monday demanded a parliamentary probe into the death of IUML leader and Kerala MP E. Ahamed. The MPs demonstrated in the Parliament complex, accusing the Modi government of hushing up the veteran MP’s death in a hospital ahead of the annual Union Budget’s presentation on February 1.

Holding a placard that read “We are Ahamed Sahib,” Mr. Gandhi along with Congress colleagues staged the protest near the Mahatma Gandhi statue that faces Parliament. Former Union Minister and Indian Union Muslim League leader Ahamed was declared dead hours before Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the union budget in Parliament on February 1. The opposition has said that he died a day earlier, but the Modi government kept the news under wraps to ensure that the budget presentation was not disrupted.

“Ahamed was unnecessarily kept on life support when he had already expired. They wanted to hide this fact, they hushed up his death. That is why we are demanding a Parliamentary Committee to be formed to probe the matter,” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge told the media.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Congress-seeks-parliamentary-probe-into-Ahameds-death/article17201593.ece1

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Attack on top academic: Why Chhattisgarh govt isn’t acting against unruly mob, cops, ask Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy (Jan 30, 2017, Counterview)

A group of 35 well-known activists led by Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar and Magsaysay award winning right to information campaigner Aruna Roy have said that Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh’s assurance of safety following the recent attack on top academic Bela Bhatia has not followed with “any strong action”.

Singh “assurance” comes a day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s support to Bela Bhatia. Meeting her, Singh, who met her in in Jagdalpur, assured her of “all protection and the freedom to continue her work among the tribals”, adding, she could “continue to live at her present location”, and if feeling insecure, she could be “alternative accommodation in Bastar.”

Insisting that there has not been “any strong action on unruly mobs and abusive, law-breaking police officers” who were responsible for the mob attack on Bhatia’s house, situated in Parpa village near Jagdalpur in Bastar region, the statement says, failure to take firm action suggests there would be no let down in threats on activists who are fighting for tribals’ cause.…

http://www.counterview.net/2017/01/attack-on-top-academic-why-is.html

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Maharashtra Textbook Shocker: ‘Ugliness’ Leads to Dowry (Feb 2, 2017, The Wire)

The sociology textbook prescribed by the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Education for class XII students lists ‘ugliness’ as a cause of dowry.

Reflecting a deeply regressive mindset, the textbooks claims, “If a girl is ugly and handicapped, then it becomes difficult for her to get married.” Following this line of argument, the section suggests that when “such girls” have to get married, the bridegroom’s family demands more dowry, and the girl’s parents “become helpless” and pay the demanded dowry.

The book, Sociology Standard XII, authored by six people and published by the state board, discusses dowry under the chapter ‘Major Social Problems in India’, which also includes sections of gender inequality, domestic violence and farmer suicides among other things.…

https://thewire.in/105146/maharashtra-sociology-textbook-blames-ugliness-dowry/

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Has BJP’s Hindutva campaign ‘using’ Shah Rukh Khan reached health ministry? (Feb 7, 2017, Dailyo.in)

While whipping up passion on communal lines, the BJP government not just seems to be turning a blind eye to a health campaign, but also playing a sly game of dividing Bollywood. According to a report in The Indian Express, the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) is awaiting approval from the health ministry for videos it shot in December with Shah Rukh Khan to promote awareness about eye ailments – “Eye Hear You” campaign.

Union health minister JP Nadda is reportedly unhappy that he had not been consulted at an earlier stage when it could have been shot with someone else. And this someone else is none other than Hrithik Roshan.… So, is it true that the Raees versus Kaabil frenzy was not merely a box-office battle but an attempted Hindu versus Muslim hysteria by the BJP? Because that kind of explains why BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya entered the pre-release campaign (of the two movies), and tweeted: “Jo Raees desh ka nahi, wo kisi kaam ka nahi. Aur ekj Kaabil deshbhakt ka saath, toh hum sabhi ko dena hi chahiye (The rich who don’t belong to the country are of no use. The able patriot is the one we should all support)”. …

Muslim actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan have been attacked as “anti-nationalist” in the past as well because of their religion. The BJP general secretary had asked his supporters to boycott Dangal because Aamir Khan had spoken about Kiran Rao’s fears of growing religious intolerance in India.…The party surely seems to be losing its vision, forget bad and worse governance.

http://www.dailyo.in/variety/bjp-shahrukh-khan-hindu-muslim-hrithik-roshan-kailash-vijayvargiya-health-ministry-ad/story/1/15535.html

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Pune techie murder: HC asks Maha to produce all evidence against Hindu Rashtra Sena leader (Feb 2, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The Bombay high court on Wednesday asked the state to place on record the charge sheet and all adverse evidence against the main accused in the murder of Pune techie Mohsin Shaikh.

The HC is hearing a plea filed by the accused, Hindu Rashtra Sena leader Dhananjay Desai, asking for the charges of murder and attempt to murder charges against him be dropped. The case generated much furore recently, when another bench of the high court granted bail to the other men accused in the case, saying they had been “provoked in the name of religion”.

IT professional Shaikh was attacked on June 2, 2014, by a mob in Pune’s Hadapsar during violence that erupted over a social media post. Around half-an-hour before the attack, Desai was allegedly addressing a meeting that instigated the audience to violence.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/pune-techie-murder-hc-asks-maha-to-produce-all-evidence-against-hindu-rashtra-sena-leader/story-okffoarKqxcFMO0LRGq8uO.html

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Opinions and Editorials

UP Elections 2017: BJP’s Divisive Agenda – By Ram Puniyani (Feb 7, 2017, The Citizen)

The forthcoming UP Assembly Elections (2017) are regarded as very crucial for all the political parties and more so for the future of secularism and democracy in the country. BJP’s rise on the national scene began at a higher pitch with the Ram Temple agitation and the consequent rise in communal violence. Since then it has been adding more divisive issues and with greater vehemence to reap electoral benefits.

Even before the elections in UP were declared many BJP leaders had been raising issues like Ram Temple, Love Jihad and exodus of Hindus from Kairana. In Gujarat, during the Gujarat carnage used the infamous ‘action-reaction’ theory and the statement that refugee camps have become ‘child production centers’ and so should be closed down. In due course to give a neutral cover to the underlying communal agenda the government then under Chief Minister Narendra Modi did shift to the ‘development agenda’, which was more of an eye wash.

Along with the media blitz and a clever publicity the state government tried to sell his image of ‘development man’ and took the policies to woo the Corporate World. But the slip always kept showing. Even during the creation of euphoria of ‘Acche Din’ during 2014 General elections, PM Modi raised the issue of Pink revolution (relating to beef) and Bangladeshi immigrants in the context of saving Rhinos in Assam. His associates did keep talking of issues related to Hindutva agenda like Ram Temple, Triple Talaq, Article 370 at the same time. The propaganda of development and communal message carried the day for BJP during 2014 elections as it managed to get simple majority on its own in Lok Sabha. Now Election Commission has censured BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj for his remarks where he blames Muslims for the rise in population.…

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/4/9879/UP-Elections-2017-BJPs-Divisive-Agenda

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Hype without Substance – Editorial (Feb 4, 2017, EPW)

The Union Budget for 2017–18, the fourth presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of the Narendra Modi government, … has been pitched as “pro-poor,” benefiting farmers, and one that would lead to a more “progressive” tax structure and a reduction in the generation of black money. However, the chances of the budget alleviating the plight of the disadvantaged, reducing inequality, creating jobs, bringing down the bad loans advanced by public sector banks, and significantly improving the working of social welfare programmes, seem rather remote.

A close look at the budget documents reveals that none of these claims may hold good, that the budget is more hype than substance and, importantly, appears to be trying hard to assuage the hurt and pain suffered by ordinary Indians, in particular the poor, on account of the massive disruption caused to the country’s economy by demonetisation.…

There is no explicit acknowledgement in the budget that the rate of growth of the economy is decelerating and that there is a case for expansionary fiscal policy. To sum up, despite the hype and the rhetoric surrounding the allegedly “pro-poor, anti-rich” stance of the budget, it comprises a set of proposals that underwhelm and is unlikely to reduce inequalities nor make a big difference to the lives of the country’s underprivileged.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2017/5/editorials/hype-without-substance.html

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The show limps on – By Divya Trivedi (Feb 17, 2017, Frontline)

…Vibrant Gujarat, considered the biggest public relations exercise of all time, sadly, failed to live up to the hype. Local newspapers wrote about how farmers from nearby villages were brought to the event wearing suits to fill up the seats. Nobel laureates had to fend for their own seats, with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan walking out in frustration.

Reporters’ movements were controlled and they were not provided access to the events they wanted to attend. “This is Modi showing us our place in his grand scheme of things. As he and his cronies control most of our owners, he can seat or unseat us as he pleases,” said an exasperated reporter who was prevented from entering a tent serving tea while waiting for more than an hour for Modi’s arrival.

There was even an ATM inside the venue and several attendees flocked to it but got scared when it debited the money from their accounts without dispensing cash. “Waah re Modi’s digital India!” quipped a victim.…

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/the-show-limps-on/article9511607.ece

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The BJP’s Social Media Armies Seek To Divide – By Derek O’Brien (Feb 5, 2017, NDTV)

…As it happens, the only party that has consistently attacked the government on economic issues is the Trinamool Congress. We have paid for it. Central agencies have targeted Bengal and arrested our party MPs on trumped-up charges, without sufficient evidence. The social media armies of the BJP have systematically threatened religious harmony and social peace in Bengal. I stressed this in the Rajya Sabha, explaining how “Digital India” was being turned into “Divisive India”.

The examples I gave should be scary and worrying for anybody in government. Out of nothing, a Twitter trend was created by manipulating timelines and using hashtags like ‘#BengalIsBurning’. A mischief-maker uses Photoshop to concoct an incident and his cohorts ensure it goes viral. They pretend it is an organised religious attack. Actually, it is a made-up case, a hoax.

Who is behind all this? What connection do some of the Twitter handles and social media accounts associated with such campaigns have with the ruling party in Delhi? Why is Bengal being singled out? Is it because Trinamool has taken such an adamant and principled stand against the BJP regime’s whimsical and irresponsible policies?

http://www.ndtv.com/opinion/alert-digital-india-is-actually-divisive-india-1656222

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Why Bombay HC granting bail to Hindu Rashtra Sena men in Mohsin Shaikh murder case is worrisome – By Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves (Feb 3, 2017, Dailyo.in)

Proceedings in Justice Mridula Bhatkar’s courtroom at Bombay High Court are conducted briskly, even brusquely. A speedy pace of case disposal leaves scant cause for complaint due to delay. However, one of the cases disposed in January 2017 has been the subject of much comment and criticism by the legal fraternity and other sections of civil society. A group of lawyers from Pune has even petitioned the Chief Justice of the court to take suo-moto cognisance and quash the order, which they feel gives sufficient ground for doubting the court’s religious impartiality.

The court had granted bail, an act normally worth commending in a country where courts often do not implement the principle of “bail not jail” laid down 40 years ago by the Supreme Court. It was not the fact of grant of bail but the reasoning given by the court that was at issue. The accused were three persons of the Hindu Rashtra Sena, charged with the murder of a Muslim engineer, Mohsin Shaikh. It was in the nature of a hate crime, with the religion of the deceased being the only reason for his killing. However Justice Bhatkar’s reasoning was that the religious motivation for the crime was a factor in favour of the accused, which entitled them to bail.…

Rather, there is a distinct possibility of other courts selectively advancing along the jurisprudential direction indicated by Bhatkar, to provide succour to those involved in similarly inspired hate and terror attacks. The devilish consequences for our society and polity can well be imagined.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/mridula-bhatkar-judgment-hindu-rashtra-sena-mohsin-shaikh-maya-kodnani-nia-jihadis/story/1/15465.html

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The tyranny of populism – By Sashi Kumar (Feb 17, 2017, Frontline)

…Those of us nonplussed and upset by the public upsurge this Pongal season in Tamil Nadu in defiance of the May 2014 ruling by the Supreme Court, which effectively banned jallikkattu, and provided the state with a handle, which it eagerly seized, to undo the court order, can only seek solace in the hope that it is a long habit of not thinking the thing wrong that gave this cruel sport the false prestige or gravitas of tradition and fomented the widespread public resentment against its ban, and that with time its inhumane, cruel and lethal manifestation and consequences will speak to the Tamil collective conscience and change hearts.

That, though, would be an excruciatingly gradualist move towards a modern, rational and progressive social order, towards realising the scientific temper and humaneness enshrined in the Constitution. Excruciating, because many more bulls will be tortured and maimed and killed, and many more people will be injured and lose their lives before we consensually let go of this primitive practice.…

The way closure, at least for now, has been applied on the jallikkattu imbroglio may lead to different, perhaps undesirable, outcomes in similar situations where the judiciary, a section of the people and the government are involved in a three-way face-off.

http://www.frontline.in/columns/Sashi_Kumar/the-tyranny-of-populism/article9512009.ece

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Book Review

Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir

Author: Teesta Setalvad
Reviewed by: Binu Mathew
Available at: Amazon-Kindle Direct Publishing. http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Teesta Setalvad: Foot Soldier Of The Indian Constitution (Feb 7, 2017, Countercurrents)

…When Teesta Setalvad’s memoir “Foot Soldier of the Constitution” appeared I simply could not resist. Her indomitable spirit in spite all the wild allegations, smearing of reputation, false cases, public humiliation, personal attacks and trolling amazed me. I wanted to know what keeps her growing. Thankfully, this book has all the answers.

We all know Teesta Setalvad as the face of the Gujarat justice movement. In fact, she is the engine that powers this movement. Without her, could there have been fight for justice for the victims of Gujarat pogrom? Without Teesta and her team at “Citizens for justice and Peace” I sincerely doubt that there could have been so many convictions including that of a minister.

But Teesta’s work for justice and communal harmony doesn’t start in 2002. It started way back in 1984 communal violence in Bombay. She also was also at the forefront reporting and organising for peace and harmony in the post Babri-Masjid riots in Bombay during 1992-93. It was these experiences that shaped Teesta the “Foot Soldier of the Constitution”.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/02/07/teesta-setalvad-foot-soldier-of-the-constitution/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 30th, 2017

February 9, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines UP election: Politics over Muzaffarnagar riot victims leaves Kairana polarised UP Polls: Shocking admission! Independent candidate admits entering politics only for money BJP MLA, five others booked for extortion in Mira Road The Indian Church remembers the missionary Graham Staines, burned alive by Hindu radicals Missing JNU […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 23rd, 2017

February 2, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Assam: Hajo’s post-Babri Masjid communal harmony march enters 25th year News Headlines BJP MLA Sangeet Som booked for showing ‘riot’ documentary ahead of UP polls BJP’s Vinay Katiyar makes sexist comment about Priyanka Gandhi Malegaon blasts case: ex-cop Mujawar claims ATS actually killed 3 accused Dabholkar, Pansare […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 16th, 2016

January 27, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines How AB Vajpayee was foiled in his bid to have Narendra Modi removed as Gujarat chief minister Months Before Sahara Was Granted Immunity, Tax Panel Member Was Abruptly Transferred Bombay High Court cites Muslim man’s religion as provocation, subsequent murder RBI note exposes govt. bluff on note […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 9th, 2017

January 20, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Muslims offer fruit juice to Hindu devotees during festival News Headlines ‘Modi has to go’: Post-2002 Gujarat riots, Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted then CM to step down Demonetisation: 35 per cent job losses, 50 per cent revenue dip, says study by largest organisation of manufacturers Watch: BJP […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 2nd, 2017

January 16, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Religious harmony: Muslims give land for Hindu fair in Kota town News Headlines RBI’s refusal to reveal info on demonetisation is ‘blatant subversion of the law’ Three CPM activists hacked allegedly by RSS workers in Kerala Supreme Court verdict on misuse of religion jolts poll-bound Punjab Chhattisgarh […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 26th, 2016

January 7, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Another mosque returned to Muslims in Punjab News Headlines Demonetisation: “What India has done is commit a massive theft of people’s property – a shocking move for a democratically elected government”, says Steve Forbes MP: Ailing old man forced by bank to be personally present for money […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 19th, 2016

December 28, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines I-T department raids BJP leader Sushil Vaswani for allegedly laundering huge sums of black money NIA court verdict awarding death sentence to five Muslim youth is a travesty of justice: CLMC ‘Hundreds die’ in India police custody, says rights group report Communal clash in MP town: Police […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 12th, 2016

December 22, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Maratha Seva Sangh organises communal harmony rally as part of Eid ul Milad celebrations News Headlines Bengal BJP man held with Rs 10 lakh in new notes Bhaiya reference to minister Kiren Rijiju: ‘Bhaiya ka help chahiye toh humko boliye Sir’ UP polls: BJP, RSS want to […]

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