IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 4th, 2017

by newsdigest on September 28, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Gurudwara opens doors to Muslims to offer namaz on Eid-ul-Adha (Sep 2, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Muslims and Sikhs on Saturday set an example of communal harmony in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath, 300 kilometres from here, when the local gurudwara offered Muslims space to offer Eid prayers. Muslims had gathered at a local ground in large numbers to offer prayers on the occasion of Eid-Ul-Zuha, but could not proceed due to incessant overnight rains. This is when Gurudwara Singh Sabha stepped in and welcomed them to the gurudwara.

“Be it Hindus, Sikhs or Muslims we have a strong bonding in Joshimath. The senior management from the Gurudwara sahib and the Muslim community held a short meeting on Saturday morning and made quick arrangements for the prayers,” Buta Singh, manager, Shri Hemkund Sahib gurudwara, told HT on phone. More than 500 Muslims offered Namaaz in the retiring hall of the gurdwara, he said.…

This is not the first time that Sikhs have offered space for Eid prayers. On August 20, 2012, the Muslims prayed at the same gurudwara. Joshimath is believed to be the last place in the state towards the China border where Muslims offer Namaaz. Beyond Joshimath lies Badrinath, one of four shrines of the Chardham pilgrimage of Hindus. “Though we keep hearing stories about growing hatred in the society, by Allah’s grace we never witnessed such negative things here,” said Rais Ahmad (50).…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/gurudwara-opens-doors-to-muslims-to-offer-namaz-on-eid-ul-adha/story-YOrYOevzJuhVobs2z6ptSM.html

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Probe said Purohit held ‘illegal’ meetings with radical Hindu groups (Aug 31, 2017, Indian Express)

Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the 2008 Malegaon blast case after nine years in prison, has repeatedly argued that he was the Army’s mole in radical Hindu organisations. This was also a key argument in his plea for bail. However, a 2011 inquiry report of the Directorate General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) had found his presence in several of the Hindutva group meetings to be “illegal”.

The DGMI probe, which began in October 2008, shortly after Purohit’s name cropped up in the 2008 Malegaon blast, revealed that beginning October 2007, Purohit used his “relaxed work environment” at the Army Education Corps (AEC) Training College to hold meetings and negotiations with prominent religious leaders and arms dealers. Most of these meetings – with people such as Swami Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, then RSS chief K S Sudarshan, VHP chief Praveen Togadia, Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and an arms dealer from Bangladesh with radical Hindutva links – were illegal, the probe held.

Among his various records of absence from the AEC college, the DGMI report details one on December 24, 2007, when he attended a meeting organised by Swami Aseemanand in Pune. “The meeting was attended by Vilas Pawar of Sree Ram Sena (Karnataka), Pramod Muthalik of Hindustan Rashtriya Sena, Bharat Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai of Vivekanand Kendra (Gujarat) and Dr Seetharamaiah (Andhra Pradesh). Abhinav Bharat (the radical organisation founded by Purohit) was represented by Sudhkar Chaturvedi, Ajay Rahirkar and the officer,” the report said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lt-col-prasad-shrikant-purohit-malegaon-blast-probe-said-purohit-held-illegal-meetings-with-radical-hindu-groups-4821363/

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‘Qurbani’ Of Cow, Buffalo, Camel, Ox On Eid Ul-Adha To Invite Gangsters Act (Sep 2, 2017, NDTV)

In a strict order, local authorities warned that the stringent Gangsters Act would be invoked against those who sacrifice cow, buffalo, camel, or ox as ‘Qurbani’ during Bakrid today. “All police stations under Sambhal tehsil have been alerted to invoke the Gangsters Act against anyone sacrificing cow, buffalo, camel or ox on the occasion of Bakrid,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate Sambhal Rashid Khan said.

Till last year, animal sacrifice was carried out at government slaughterhouses but their closure has created a difficult situation in Uttar Pradesh and confusion prevailed among the Muslim community on the eve of Bakrid. Besides, the movable and immovable property of those involved in such a sacrifice will be impounded, he said.…

A person booked under the provision of Gangsters Act becomes part of a gang listed in police records. It entitles the police to keep track of those booked under the Act and issue summons to them for attendance at the local police station for questioning even if no fresh case is lodged against them.…

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bakra-eid-2017-qurbani-of-cow-buffalo-camel-ox-on-eid-ul-adha-to-invite-gangsters-act-1745129

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‘Cow sheds in BJP states silent slaughterhouses’ (Aug 24, 2017, Times of India)

BSP chief Mayawati said on Wednesday that if the BJP government cared to protect cows in sheds owned by government it won’t be seen as ‘saffron appeasement’. Referring to incidents of death of cows in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Mayawati said PM Narendra Modi did not even discuss the issue with the chief ministers of the two states when he met them recently. “Governments in BJP-ruled states should stop the cow sheds from becoming silent slaughterhouses,” she said.

Mayawati said the poor condition of “gau mata” was because of corruption in BJP-ruled states. She said though BJP made cow protection a political, communal and casteist issue, it did not bother to curtail cruelty against it.

Mayawati also accused the BJP of trying to make cow protection a political issue like Ram Mandir. The former UP chief minister referred to incidents of atrocities against Dalits on the pretext of cow protection and said the BJP has infused an atmosphere of fear and apprehension amongst the lower caste community.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/60203620.cms

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‘Who is next?’: Killing of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh sparks protests (Sep 6, 2017, Washington Post)

The killing of a prominent journalist and government critic outside her home in Bangalore prompted protests in major Indian cities Wednesday and a national uproar about the shrinking space for free speech in the world’s most populous democracy.

Gauri Lankesh, 55, was shot in the head and chest Tuesday on her doorstep by motorcycle-riding gunmen. Although police have not yet identified suspects or possible motives, Lankesh’s death is widely being attributed to her work as a journalist and activist.

“They want us to be intimidated,” said Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, former editor of the academic journal Economic and Political Weekly, speaking at the Press Club here. “I hope that a thousand Gauri Lankeshes will be born and will rise among us.”…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/who-is-next-killing-of-indian-journalist-gauri-lankesh-sparks-protests/2017/09/06/e0f2e6f8-9271-11e7-8482-8dc9a7af29f9_story.html

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Past Continuous: How Communal Political Campaigning Changed Post Gujarat 2002 (Aug 29, 2017, The Wire)

Fifteen years ago, almost to the date, for the first time, India witnessed an electoral campaign in which majoritarian pride and identity were harnessed by a political party and its principal leaders brazenly. Religion or the R-factor played a role in elections from the first general polls in 1952.… But Narendra Modi’s first electoral campaign in 2002 changed all that: for the first time the leader of a party and its chief campaigner revelled in mounting a campaign inlaid with hate against Muslims.

While the foreign hand had been previously mentioned by Indira, Modi campaigned that a direct link existed between Gujarati Muslims, Pervez (Mian) Musharraf, Pakistan and terrorists. It must be recalled that the election was held not just in the backdrop of the aftermath of the Godhra riots but also in the wake of 9/11, the heinous assaults on the state assembly in Srinagar and the attack on parliament.

The 2002 Gujarat assembly election that is instrumental in the making of Modi, remains a decisive milestone in the pathway of communalising electoral campaigns in India. While earlier, leaders resorted to using symbolism – for instance visiting a temple, a mosque, a dargah or a gurudwara – all pretensions were dropped by Modi and he resorted to the use of direct language, at times derogatory.…

https://thewire.in/171971/past-continuous-modi-communal-political-campaign-gujarat- 2002/

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BJP Has Most Number Of MPs, MLAs With Cases Of Crime Against Women, Followed By Shiv Sena (Aug 31, 2017, India Times)

In the run up to the 2014 general elections on of the issues the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaigned on the most is women’s safety and increasing crimes against women under the UPA rule. But now it turns out the BJP has the most number of elected representatives with cases related to crimes against women.

According to a study by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-government organisation working for electoral reforms, as many as 51 MPs and MLAs have declared cases of crime against women, including of alleged rape and abduction. Out of 51, 48 are Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and three are Members of Parliament (MPs).

BJP has the highest number of MPs and MLAs (14), followed by the Shiv Sena (7) and the All India Trinamool Congress (6) who have declared cases related to crime against women.… Out of the analysed 1,581 (33%) MPs and MLAs with declared criminal cases, 51 have declared cases related to crimes against women, it said. Besides, 334 candidates analysed who had declared cases related to crime against women were given tickets by recognised political parties, ADR said.

http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/bjp-has-most-number-of-mps-mlas-with-cases-of- crime-against-women-followed-by-shiv-sena-328843.html

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Taj Mahal is Muslim tomb not Hindu temple, Indian court told (Aug 30, 2017, The Guardian)

A court in India has heard testimony from government archaeologists that the Taj Mahal is a Muslim mausoleum built by a Mughal emperor to honour his dead wife – delivering an official riposte to claims it is a Hindu temple.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which protects monuments of national importance, had been ordered to give its view in response to a petition filed by six lawyers stating that the Unesco world heritage site in the city of Agra had originally been a temple called Tejo Mahalaya dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva.

The petition also demanded that Hindus be allowed to worship in it. Only Muslims are permitted to offer prayers at the 17th-century monument.…

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/30/taj-mahal-muslim-tomb-not-hindu-temple- indian-court-told

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Raghuram Rajan breaks silence, says neither he nor RBI under him wanted demonetisation (Sep 4, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has revealed that he did not favour demonetisation as he felt the short term economic costs associated with such a disruptive decision would outweigh any longer term benefits from it.

Rajan makes the disclosure in his latest book – I do what I do – which is a compilation of speeches he delivered on a wide range of issues as the RBI governor. Although he maintains the book is not a tell-all, the short introductions and postscripts accompanying the pieces offer fascinating insights into his uneasy relationship and differences with the present government.

“At no point during my term was the RBI asked to make a decision on demonetisation,” Rajan has said, putting to rest speculation that preparations for scrapping high-value banknotes got underway many months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the surprise announcement on November 8.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/raghuram-rajan-breaks-silence-says-he-wasn- t-on-board-for-demonetisation/story-6rXr8VWBpFd4w37NySulEN.html

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Not One But Several US Biometric Companies Involved In Aadhaar, Govt Evasive, SC Prepares for Verdict (Aug 27, 2017, The Citizen)

…As per rulings of the court it is established that no Central or State Government can coerce citizens to access subsidies by sacrificing their private data by enrolling for UID/Aadhaar given the fact that they have a right to subsidy. No Government has the constitutional power to make right to have rights condition precedent.

After the trashing of UID/Aadhaar by Lok Sabha’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and later by Rajya Sabha, the Constitution Bench of the Court too has trashed government’s position after seeing through the coercive and unconstitutional nature of UID/Aadhaar number project by deciding the matter of right to privacy raised by Attorney General amidst hearing on some 20 cases challenging it.

Subsequent to the verdict of 9-Judge Bench, another bench will decide the constitutionality UID/Aadhaar and the passage of Aadhaar Act as Money Bill amidst gnawing national security concerns because of involvement of foreign governments and their companies which are eyeing rich assets of personal sensitive information of present and future Indians for all times to come.

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/1/11572/Not-One-But-Several-US-Biometric-Companies-Involved-In-Aadhaar-Govt-Evasive-SC-Prepares-for-Verdict

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Anti-conversion laws will not help India (Aug 15, 2017, Washington Times)

Early this month, the state government in Jharkhand, northern India, introduced a new Freedom of Religion Bill. At first glance, the name of this bill suggests an important step forward in human rights for India, but it’s actually the opposite. The bill is a cleverly disguised anti-conversion law, and it’s not the first to be introduced in the country.

Despite the fact that the Indian constitution clearly defines and protects the freedom to practice and propagate religion, radical members of both national parties – Congress and the BJP – have already managed to pass anti-conversion laws in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Arunachal Pradesh.

When the new bill passes in Jharkhand – a draft has already been approved by the Cabinet – anyone found guilty of the vague crime of converting people could be sentenced to a minimum three years in jail.…

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/15/india-anti-conversion-laws-are-outrageous/

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Opinions and Editorials

My spineless country murdered Gauri Lankesh in cold blood – By Rana Ayyub (Sep 6, 2017, Dailyo.in)

The last time I had a detailed conversation with Gauri Lankesh, we both laughed as she tried to get a grip over the pronunciation of “nincompoop”. It was the term she used to describe those who threatened her with dire consequences. Gauri was getting Gujarat Files – my book on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s roles in the 2002 Gujarat carnage – translated into Kannada, to be published by her in house Lankesh Publication.

She was the first person to reach out to me in June 2016 after I self-published the book. Gauri’s subsequent arrest in a defamation case and the routine threats she encountered from various organisations ensured that the publication got delayed.

I suggested to her that I could ask another publication take over because she was embroiled in a legal suit. But she simply laughed and said, “Darling, I am stronger than these nincompoops.” Only two days ago, I wrote an emotional Facebook post about being under constant attack from the Right, as skewed leaks by those in power targeted me during my recent trip to Canada.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/gauri-lankesh-hindutva-critic-murder-journalist-deaths-rana-ayyub-writes/story/1/19368.html

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Dera violence: How BJP funded & promoted the monster called Ram Rahim Singh – By Aditya Menon, Anurag Dey (Aug 26, 2017, Catch News)

Large scale violence broke out in parts of Haryana and Punjab soon after a CBI court in Panchkula convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape. Over 30 people had been killed in Haryana in the violence at the time of writing this story.

The BJP government in Haryana stands accused of gross administrative failure. On the eve of the verdict, it allowed lakhs of Dera supporters, or Premis as they are called, to gather at Panchkula. Dera supporters also mobilised themselves at Sirsa, the Dera’s bastion.

The administrative failure of the Manohar Lal Khattar government stems from its political compulsions. The BJP in Haryana enjoys close ties with Dera Sacha Sauda and this seems to have impaired it from cracking down on Dera goons on time. Nothing embodies this failure more than Haryana education minister Ram Bilas Sharma’s comment that the Section 144 imposed in Panchkula “did not apply to Dera supporters”.… The Modi government also used Ram Rahim to push its Swachh Bharat initiative.…

http://www.catchnews.com/politics-news/dera-violence-how-bjp-funded-promoted-the-monster-called-ram-rahim-78829.html

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Tantric Rites In The Bed – By G.C. Shekhar (Sep 11, 2017, Outlook)

Say “Sex and the Swamiji” in Tamil Nadu and the first name that pops up is that of Nithyananda. A video footage of Nithi (nickname given by the Tamil media) gallivanting on the bed with a Tamil actress continues to be one of the most watched footages on YouTube even six years after it was first aired on television.

This tall, dusky young man – originally A. Rajasekharan, from the pilgrim town of Thiruvannamalai – could spellbind audiences with his fluent oratory on Hindu spirituality. It stayed, till he got undone by a hidden video camera. That plot by two of his own disillusioned followers stripped him of his halo and exposed him as a sexual pervert.

There were others too fed up with Nithyananda’s wayward and pretentious ways. Like, a mechanical engineer who used to work in the US and surrendered at the feet of Nithyananda in search of spiritual awakening. Now 42, she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the swami. The godman brainwashed her into believing that she was only doing “guru seva” by subjecting herself to his carnal pleasures.…

https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/tantric-rites-in-the-bed/299261

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Implications for Aadhaar – By Usha Ramanathan (Sep 15, 2017, Frontline)

The nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court has propelled the privacy right to a place that is far higher than it was before this decision. In 2012, when the Justice A.P. Shah Committee (of which I was a member) was considering the contours of the right, it was a right that had been developing incrementally, case by case, and slowly acquiring an identity in fundamental rights jurisprudence.

Some even considered it a “weak” right. That is now a thing of the past. While the detailing of the right will continue to happen as situations emerge where the right is asserted, the status of the right has been definitively pronounced by the nine-judge bench. The right to privacy is now a part of the rights and freedoms that are in the “Fundamental Rights” Chapter of the Constitution. It is closely allied to dignity. It is now “an intrinsic part of the right to life and liberty”.

This happened because of the doubts that the Attorney General cast on the very existence of the right.Since 2012 and 2013, several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) Aadhaar project on a range of grounds. It was a project that had been started without a feasibility report, with no law, no clarity on what it was and how it would be used, and what it meant for citizens’ rights and for state power over people. Biometrics were untested and UIDAI documents testified to this. There were fears that the poor would get excluded from services to which they were entitled: an apprehension that has come to pass and which academics, activists and journalists have documented.…

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/implications-for-aadhaar/article9834539.ece

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Love jihad bogey: Hadiya committed no crime. Why has she been in confinement for a year now? – By Shoaib Daniyal & Sruthisagar Yamunan (Aug 31, 2017, Scroll.in)

On August 22, the Supreme Court of India struck a significant blow for women’s rights. The court scrapped the practice of instant triple talaq, which gave Muslim men arbitrary powers to end a marriage. The move bought India in line with much of the rest of the world, where most Muslim legal systems have already barred the practice.

It is therefore a curious irony that the same court had also struck a blow against women’s rights just a week before the triple talaq judgement. On August 16, the Supreme Court ordered the National Investigation Agency to inquire into the religious conversion and marriage of Hadiya, a 24-year old woman from Kerala. In this, it backed an earlier judgement of the Kerala High Court. While Hadiya has converted to Islam and then married of her own choice in 2016, both courts seemed to disregard her own thoughts on the matter, preferring instead to let her father decide for her.

Some media reports have presented this as a case of “love jihad”, the conspiracy theory that Muslim men woo Hindu women with the express purpose of pressuring them to convert them to Islam. This is a misrepresentation. Hadiya had converted to Islam long before her marriage. The main issue here is: does India believe an adult woman has a mind of her own?…

https://scroll.in/article/848958/love-jihad-bogey-hadiya-committed-no-crime-why-has-she-been-in-confinement-for-a-year-now

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Lessons From History on the Feasibility of RSS’s Politics – By Shankar Gopalakrishnan (Aug 31, 2017, The Wire)

With hate speech proliferating, people being beaten to death on the streets and the Hindu Right dominating Indian politics as never before, it is easy to believe that the ultimate goal of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other Hindutva organisations – a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ – is just around the corner. For those of us who don’t agree with them, this sounds like the start of a decades-long nightmare.

But this view is flawed, for the experiences of other countries provide strong grounds for believing that the Hindu Rashtra project is absurd, a political impossibility. The danger of Hindutva politics lies not in creating a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ but in the destruction it will wreak and the lives it will destroy during its dominance and in its aftermath. It is no less dangerous because of that, but it is dangerous in a different way than one might think.

Why is a Hindu Rashtra impossible? Believing that doesn’t require any great faith in India’s “inherent tolerance” or “strong institutions” (both of which seem to be collapsing by the day). Rather, consider that there is nothing particularly unusual, or Indian, about ‘Hindu Rashtra’ politics. The last century is littered with political movements built on hatred and majoritarianism, and Hindutva is itself rooted in early 20th century European ideas of what constitutes a “nation”. Looking at the experience of some of those movements can tell us a lot about the way Hindu Rashtra politics is likely to develop.…

https://thewire.in/172172/lessons-history-feasibility-rsss-politics/

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