IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 16th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Announcements

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

Indian Americans Express Outrage over the Horror of child rapes in Kathua and Unnao; demand speedy trial and maximum punishment for the perpetrators

Fury in diaspora over the stomach-turning details of the heinous crimes, the political motives behind them, and the patronage given to the accused April 14, 2018

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has joined millions of Indians and people of conscience across the world in expressing its outrage and disgust over the gang-rape and murder of 8-year old Asifa Bano in January, as well as the rape of the 17 year old Dalit girl in Unnao, UP. The ghastliness and brazenness of the crimes has been coupled with outrageous attempts by Hindutva goons to protect the perpetrators.

Asifa Bano, belonging to the Bakarwal community in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, was kidnapped, drugged and brutally gang raped for three days. Her strangled body that was found on January 17, 2018 bore mute testimony to the inhumanity of her tormentors.

Police reports indicate Asifa was locked inside a temple and repeatedly raped for three days and finally strangled to death. The perpetrators, including the temple custodian have been apprehended, and the police have DNA evidence linking the men to the crime. Their motive was apparently to push Asifa’s community away from the area. Furthering the violence carried out by the four men, a mob of BJP-affiliated lawyers blocked the police officers from making their way to file the police report, making bogus claims that the men would not get due process.

This was done as part of a premeditated terror tactic to drive out a Muslim nomad community to which Asifa belonged. Different arms of the local government and political groups colluded to subvert the initial investigation and are using extrajudicial means to protect the accused.

In the case the of 17-year Dalit girl from Unnao village in UP, a powerful BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sehgar raped her last year and intimidated her whole family against complaining to the police. The family had to flee for safety to Delhi but her old father persisted in lodging the complaint. As a result he was tortured and killed in cold blood while in police custody. Despite prima facie evidence, the administration of Yogi Adhityanath did not place the culprit under arrest, until after a week of sustained public outrage, and international media attention.

During a recent interview given to media the girl broke down and even fainted while narrating the horror “Jaise papa ko maara tha. Woh joota pehan leta hai. Aur jalte hue cycle ka tyre chhua chhua ke maarta hai. Paani daal daal ke maarta hai” (He would torment people the way he killed my father. He puts on his boots and uses burning bicycle tyres to torture his victims).” In an act of extreme depression the victim even tried to burn herself outside the residence of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adithyanath.

“Asifa’s and Unnao rape survivors horror stories are examples that illustrate cowardly attempts to protect the beasts who committed these heinous acts. Moreover the Hindu Ekta Manch rally in Jammu is a low point in the history of the country where obstruction of justice and rewarding rapists have become new benchmarks in service to religious fascism,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “We call upon the state and central governments to demonstrate their own humanity, by holding the perpetrators accountable to the full extent of the law,” added Mr. Khan.

This is the most ghastly tragedy in a pattern of brutalities against Muslims and Dalits under the current regime. Anti-Muslim and Dalit rhetoric has become mainstream. The political motivations behind these heinous crimes are often euphemistically expressed in prime time television by the ruling party’s spokespersons and associates.

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://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:
1. An 8-Year-Old’s Rape and Killing Fuels Religious Tensions in India
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/world/asia/india-girl-rape.html

2. Child’s rape, killing in India mire in religious politics
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/childs-rape-murder-in-india-mired-in-religious-politics/2018/04/12/30f8956a-3e1d-11e8-955b-7d2e19b79966_story.html

3. Kathua rape case: Chargesheet filed by Jammu and Kashmir Police
https://www.firstpost.com/india/kathua-rape-case-chargesheet-filed-by-jammu-and-kashmir-police-reveals-details-of-horrific-crime-4427405.html

4. Asifa, Betrayed Over And Over
https://www.ndtv.com/blog/asifa-betrayed-over-and-over-1836718

5. Unnao Rape Case: What Has Happened So Far – A Timeline
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/unnao-rape-case-what-has-happened-so-far-a-timeline-1836833

6. India ruling party lawmaker arrested on rape allegation
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/indias-nationalist-lawmaker-arrested-on-rape-allegation/2018/04/13/dd143c98-3f83-11e8-955b-7d2e19b79966_story.html

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India ruling party lawmaker arrested on rape allegation (Apr 14, 2018, Washington Post)

A lawmaker from India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party was arrested after being accused of abducting and raping a teenage girl last year, officials said.

Kuldeep Singh Sengar was arrested Friday after being questioned by authorities in Lucknow, the capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state, said Abhishek Dayal, a spokesman for India’s Central Bureau of Investigation. He denies the allegation.

The teen also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party of shielding the lawmaker and police of delaying his prosecution.…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/indias-nationalist-lawmaker-arrested-on-rape-allegation/2018/04/13/dd143c98-3f83-11e8-955b-7d2e19b79966_story.html

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Former Civil Servants Slam Modi’s ‘Belated Promises’ on Kathua, Unnao Rape Cases (Apr 16, 2018, The Wire)

Holding him responsible for the “terrifying state of affairs”, 49 retired civil servants, in an open letter, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reach out to the families of the Kathua and Unnao rape victims to “seek their forgiveness”.

“We have had enough of these belated remonstrations and promises to bring justice when the communal cauldron is forever kept boiling by forces nested within the Sangh parivar,” they added.…

Prime Minister, we write to you not just to express our collective sense of shame and not just to give voice to our anguish or lament and mourn the death of our civilisational values – but to express our rage. Rage over the agenda of division and hate your party and its innumerable, often untraceable offshoots that spring up from time to time, have insidiously introduced into the grammar of our politics, our social and cultural life and even our daily discourse. It is that which provides the social sanction and legitimacy for the incidents in Kathua and Unnao.…

https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-open-letter-kathua-unnao

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‘Rape-murder in Kathua meant to drive out Muslim tribe’ (Apr 12, 2018, Times of India)

The J&K police chargesheet in the Kathua rape and murder of a minor girl has said the mastermind instigated his juvenile nephew and six others to execute the ghastly act to drive out the nomadic Muslim community of Bakarwals from Hiranagar tehsil.

Bakarwals move through the Pir Panjal range of J&K and are mainly shepherds. The chargesheet submitted to the Kathua chief judicial magistrate on Monday said Sanji Ram, the mastermind, was “against the settlement” of Bakarwals in the tehsil.

Kathua rape-murder mastermind Sanji Ram had been “motivating” members of the Hindu community of the area to not provide Bakarwals land for grazing.…

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/63721581.cms

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Mecca Masjid blast case: Five including Aseemanand acquitted, judge who delivered verdict resigns (Apr 17, 2018, Indian Express)

Eleven years after a blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad killed eight persons and injured 58 – five others were shot dead by police during a riot that followed – an NIA court Monday acquitted five main accused, including Swami Aseemanand. Lawyers said special judge Ravinder Reddy noted that “the prosecution could not prove its case” because “no evidence was presented to prove the conspiracy”.

Hours after he delivered the verdict, judge Reddy, who was also the fourth additional metropolitan sessions judge, put in his papers. In a letter to the metropolitan sessions judge and the chief justice of the high court, Reddy said he was resigning due to personal reasons.

The NIA had accused Aseemanand and others of conspiracy to target Muslim places of worship. The chargesheet stated that between 2005 and 2007 all planned to commit the acts including the bomb blast at Mecca Masjid on May 18, 2007.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/mecca-masjid-case-special-nia-judge-who-delivered-verdict-resigns-ravindra-reddy-hyderabad-5139720/

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Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case: witness Gopinath Pillai dies in Accident; lawyer alleges he was killed (Apr 13, 2018, Mumbai Mirror)

The Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case has taken another murkier turn. Gopinath Pillai, who was one of the petitioners in the infamous 2004 encounter case, died in a car accident in Cherthala area of Kerala’s Alappuzha district.

The 78-year-old victim, who took it upon himself to seek legal recourse to prove his son Pranesh Kumar Pillai alias Javed Ghulam Sheikh’s innocence in the case. Pillai, who believed that his son was innocent, fought lengthy legal battles to bring justice to the victims of the alleged fake encounter.…

Gopinath Pillai’s advocate Shamshad Pathan, tweeted, “Gopinath Pillai was an important witness in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. He had informed the media and the CBI that his son wasn’t a terrorist, instead he worked for the intelligence department. Gopinath’s sudden death hints that it is a murder.” He also took to Facebook to insinuate that Gopinath Pillai was killed.…

https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/articleshow/63749918.cms

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Karnataka: Bajrang Dal leader held for ‘disrupting’ birthday bash (Apr 12, 2018, New Indian Express)

Puttur police on Tuesday arrested Bajrang Dal leader Sridhar Tenkila for allegedly creating a ruckus at a birthday party being celebrated by some students.

Students of different religions from Vivekananda Law College were together in a restaurant near Boluvar in Puttur having lunch. As part of the celebrations, the group cut a cake. A group of about 10 Bajrang Dal men are said to have arrived at the hotel, and taken objection to the students partying.…

“When they confronted the students, they understood it was a mixed crowd, so left. A suo motu case under Section 107 (Abetment of a thing) has been filed against Bajrang Dal district co-convener Sridhar Tenkila,” the source told The New Indian Express. According to Inspector Sharan Gowda, the others fled the scene to evade arrest. However, one Swaroop Bhat was identified as being part of the gang. “We will arrest all of them soon,” he said.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/apr/12/karnataka-bajrang-dal-leader-held-for-disrupting-birthday-bash-1800356.html

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Manipur Muslims protest against BJP-led state govt’s move to evict them from their lands (Apr 11, 2018, Twocircles.net)

The Muslims in Manipur are angry with attempts of the BJP-led state government to evict the community members from Kshetri Bengoon Mamang Ching, Mantripukhri and adjoining areas in Imphal East district which the government claims is ‘protected’ and ‘forest’ land. The government claims that it is implementing the Manipur Conservation of Paddyland & Wetland Act 2014.

The eviction row brought Muslim community and BJP at loggerheads in the state with the All Manipur Muslim Organizations’ Coordinating Committee (AMMOCC) calling for 32-hour general strike on Tuesday, April 10. The agitation was called off on Tuesday evening after a memorandum of understanding was signed between Government of Manipur and AMMOCC.

“The Chief Minister appreciated the sentiments of the affected people and appealed to call off the agitation. Thereafter, both the parties agreed to continue the talks to find an amicable solution to the concerns of AMMOCC in three weeks and in turn the AMMOCC agreed to call off the agitation with immediate effect in public interest,” reads the memorandum signed by Dr. J. Suresh Babu, Chief Secretary and the Muslim leaders.…

http://twocircles.net/2018apr11/422470.html

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Black flags, ‘Go back Modi’ chants greet PM Modi at Chennai (Apr 12, 2018, Statesman)

Black flags were waved and “Go back Modi” slogans raised as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Chennai to attend the Defence Expo 2018. Parties in Tamil Nadu, protesting over the non-formation of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) were seen waving the flags near the airport in Alandur area of Chennai.

Members of the Thamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) were detained as they tried to enter the airport and climbed on hoardings. The group’s leader Velmurugan, too, was detained. The group has been among the many who are protesting against the arrival of the Prime Minister to Chennai.

Besides the TVK, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) members waved black flags outside the airport before the arrival of the PM.… Film personalities, such as Bharathiraja, Ameer and Gowtham, joined protesters holding black flags.…

https://www.thestatesman.com/india/black-flags-go-back-modi-chants-greet-pm-modi-at-chennai-1502621006.html

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BJP income rises by 81.18%, Congress’s dips 14% (Apr 10, 2018, The Tribune)

The income of the BJP increased by 81.18 per cent to Rs 1,034.27 crore while that of the Congress decreased by 14 per cent to Rs 225.36 crore between 2015-16 and 2016-17, a report released on Tuesday said.

According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report, seven national parties – the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Trinamool Congress – have declared a total income of Rs 1,559.17 crore and expenditures of Rs 1,228.26 crore.

The report, based on the submissions made to the Election Commission, compared the total income of the BJP and Congress, their expenditure and sources of income.…

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/bjp-income-rises-by-81-18-congress-s-dips-14/571757.html

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Ahead of Gujarat Dalit atrocity cases hearing, NHRC told: State officials failed to respond to 30 “listed” complaints (Apr 14, 2018, Counterview)

In what is being considered as a clear case of failure to investigate anti-atrocity cases, a senior Dalit rights activist has revealed that, in a large number of cases, Gujarat government officials have been refusing to send replies required by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking reports on progress made in bringing culprit to books. Some of the cases are as old as 2013, while others are more recent, of 2018.

Listing 30 cases which he filed before NHRC, ranging from murder and rape to social boycott and forced migration, the activist, Kantibhai U Parmar, in a representation to NHRC chairman HL Dattu, visiting Gujarat on April 26-27 for an open hearing session, has said, the officials who failed to respond to NHRC queries should be asked to remain present at the Police Academy, Karai, off Gandhinagar, Gujarat capital, where the hearing is proposed.

Of the 30 cases listed, claims Parmar, the only issue to be taken up at the “open hearing” is regarding the complaint to the principal secretary, education, Gujarat government, which alleges that there no representative of SC/ST community in any of the committees of the Gujarat education board. In this case, NHRC has directed the senior official to remain present with reply at the open hearing at Karai along with the requisite report.…

https://www.counterview.net/2018/04/ahead-of-gujarat-dalit-atrocity-cases.html

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Opinions and Editorials

An 8-Year-Old’s Rape and Killing Fuels Religious Tensions in India – By Jeffrey Gettleman (Apr 11, 2018, New York Times)

…Hindu nationalists have turned it into a rallying cry – not calling for justice for Asifa, but rushing to the defense of the accused. All of the men arrested are Hindu, and Asifa’s nomadic people, the Bakarwals, are Muslim. Some of the police officers who investigated the case are also Muslim, and for that reason, the Hindu activists say, they cannot be trusted.

This week, a mob of Hindu lawyers physically blocked police officers from entering a courthouse to file charges against the men. The officers retreated to a judge’s house later in the evening to complete the paperwork. Protests and counterprotests are now spreading. On Wednesday, much of Kathua, a small town in northern India near where Asifa was killed, was shut down by demonstrators, including dozens of Hindu women who helped block a highway and organize a hunger strike.…

Police officials say they have physical evidence and DNA tests linking the defendants to Asifa’s death. They also say they have interviewed more than 130 witnesses, who “unequivocally corroborated the facts that emerged.” Several prominent members of India’s dominant political force, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, are pushing to have the case taken out of the hands of the state police, arguing that the Central Bureau of Investigation would be a better, more neutral agency to handle it. Many suspect this is an attempt to win leniency for the accused, noting that the bureau is an arm of the central government, which the Bharatiya Janata Party controls.…

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/world/asia/india-girl-rape.html

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Hindu ‘nationalists’ defend accused rapists and shame India – By Barkha Dutt (Apr 11, 2018, Washington Post)

…This week, two cases of rape and murder – one of a shepherd girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, the other in Unnao, in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh – have been moments of acute national shame.

They have proved how the powerful conspire to enable and protect sexual abusers. Worse, they have exposed the ugliest underbelly of India. Political and societal responses to these charges of rape have revealed entrenched misogyny, religious hatred and a shameful class bias. They have held up a mirror to the worst in us.…

In the Unnao case, one of the accused rapists is a legislator of the BJP. The victim… alleged inaction by the state administration on her complaint, which she had filed last year. Instead, her father was arrested and died in police custody. The hospital report confirmed that he suffered 18 assault injuries, and he is on tape, not long before he died, naming the man whose goons beat him up: the brother of the lawmaker accused of the rape.… These Hindu “nationalists” who spoke for accused rapists have shamed India, our constitution and, of course, Hinduism.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/04/11/hindu-nationalists-defend-accused-rapists-and-shame-india/

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‘Inside story’ of how one of the most horrific rape-murders of J&K was planned & executed – By Amrita Nayak Dutta (Apr 10, 2018, The Print)

…The rape and murder of Asifa has assumed communal overtones and fed a raging controversy in an area said to be deeply polarised. And it’s these deep fault lines that allegedly lie at the heart of this sordid saga. The child’s abduction and murder, according to police, was part of a plot to drive out members of her community from a village named Rasana.

The protagonists of this alleged plot include Sanjhi Ram, the suspected mastermind, who is a former revenue official and local strongman; his son Vishal Kumar, a college student; police officer Deepak Khajuria; Ram’s 16-year-old nephew who is the juvenile, and his friend Parvesh Kumar.

A tribal, Asifa was a member of the nomadic Bakerwal community. In his confession, Vishal is alleged to have told police that the victim’s only fault was that “she was born in a family of Bakerwals”.…

https://theprint.in/governance/inside-story-of-how-one-of-the-most-horrific-rape-murders-of-jk-was-planned-executed/48129/

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Unnao rape case: BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar’s swagger shows perils of Adityanath’s macho ‘thok denge’ statecraft – By Ajay Singh (Apr 11, 2018, First Post)

…The custodial killing of the father of a rape victim in Unnao is just the latest example of how governance gets brutalised when the state’s chief executive gives a carte blanche to the police to brand anybody a criminal and kill at will. Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a powerful Rajput legislator from the ruling BJP, ensured that the law enforcement agencies abetted the crime when his men carried out the killing of the man whose daughter had accused him, the legislator, of raping her. The police at best was a conspirator to the crime.

Monday’s incident is far beyond an ordinary crime. It is indicative of a deeply criminalised polity which has further worsened with the ascension of Yogi as chief minister. The reasons for this criminal conduct of the state is not far to seek. The Uttar Pradesh police have staged a series of dubious encounters in the past one year or so – ostensibly to eliminate criminals, thus assuming powers which are extrajudicial. And they are acting as a law unto themselves.

How else would one explain the killing of a hapless man whose family is the victim of a powerful legislator’s misdeeds? In normal circumstances, the legislator and his brother should have been arrested immediately after the woman accused them of molestation and rape. But Sengar was seen sauntering around the office of the chief minister and thumbing his nose at the rule of law by describing the rape victim and his family as “nichle istar ke log (low-level people)”. Can any other rape accused be given such a liberty in a civilised society?…

https://www.firstpost.com/india/unnao-rape-case-bjp-mla-kuldeep-sengars-swagger-highlights-perils-of-yogi-adityanaths-macho-thok-denge-statecraft-4426805.html

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Who planted the bomb? Tracing the twists in Mecca Masjid blast case probe – By Srinivasa Rao Apparasu (Apr 16, 2018, Hindustan Times)

The acquittal of five main accused in the sensational case of Mecca Masjid bomb explosion of May 18, 2017, by an NIA special court in Hyderabad on Monday has brought the case back to square one and raised the question: who planted the bomb in the mosque then?

In fact, soon after the NIA court pronounced the judgement, this question was raised on the premises of court premises itself. “If they are not guilty, who killed our brothers and sisters?” a distraught 70-year old Rahamat Ali asked waiting media persons outside the court hall. “When will the truth come out?”

A few Muslims supposedly related to the victims of the gruesome blast and the subsequent police firing gathered on the court premises, but left quietly without commenting after the judgement was announced.…

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/tracing-the-twists-and-turns-in-the-mecca-masjid-blast-case/story-11TR3k9cfhHy3LIxKG13OP.html

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Miracles in Asansol: As coal city burnt in hatred, a Muslim cleric and Hindu temple healed with love – By Harsh Mander (Apr 12, 2018, Scroll.in)

…Asansol had not witnessed communal violence for 26 years. Never in the past was Ram Navami, the spring festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ram, an occasion for mass public festivities or processions in West Bengal. This changed over the past couple of years, when the Bharatiya Janata Party, its ideological parent the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and associated organisations converted the religious event into an occasion for the display of belligerent communal militancy, with an aggressive display of weapons and incendiary anti-Muslim sloganeering.

In the days following Ram Navami on March 25 this year, processions were organised in various parts of the state, each time passing through Muslim colonies and mosques while playing loud music and shouting provocative slogans. The processions were of men with saffron bandanas, on foot or riding motorcycles and small trucks, displaying swords, and screaming feverishly – that Muslims will have to shout Jai Shri Ram or fall to the sword, and that there are only two fit destinations for a Muslim, Pakistan or a cemetery.

It was a riot waiting to happen, a classic “manufactured riot”. The processionists were itching for a fight. It was not long before some hot-headed young Muslim men rose to the bait, enraged at the taunts and provocations. Their heated arguments rapidly deteriorated into fist-fights, and before long blood began to flow as mobs of young men set fire to shops and homes. The state administration and police cannot credibly explain why they allowed armed processions with loudspeakers spouting hate to pass through Muslim residential areas. Their complicity in allowing Asansol to burn is beyond question.…

https://scroll.in/article/875325/miracles-in-asansol-as-coal-city-burnt-in-hatred-a-muslim-cleric-and-hindu-temple-healed-with-love

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