IAMC Weekly News Digest – June 25th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Muslims rebuild Hindus’ gutted houses in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district on Eid (Jun 18, 2018, New Indian Express)

In an instance of Hindu-Muslim camaraderie, over 3,000 Muslims gathering at Shamsherganj Idgah in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district for Eid prayers donated Rs 49,000 to rebuild the houses of six Hindu families that were gutted in an accidental fire before Eid.

The gesture was prompted after the local Idgah committee secretary Lutfal Haque urged the Muslims to donate money during the Eid prayers on Saturday. Soon, namaazis donated whatever money they had with them and Rs 49,000 was collected, sources revealed.

Some 26 people of the six families became homeless and presently staying in tents at a child welfare centre after a fire was started at the residence of Phulkumari Bhaskar on Thursday from burning firewood and soon spread to the other houses of the Hindu neighbourhood.…



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‘BJP goons killed Qasim, dragged him like a dead animal’ (Jun 22, 2018, Business Standard)

Cattle trader Qasim, who was lynched in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur earlier this week, was “brutally killed by BJP goons as he belonged to the Muslim community” and dragged like dead animal in presence of police, his younger brother said on Friday.

“My brother screamed in pain for water, but the mob refused him saying he is a Muslim and butcher. He was dragged like a dead animal in front of police,” Mohammed Nadeem said at a press conference here.

Qasim was allegedly beaten to death and farmer Mohammed Samiyuddin was critically injured by a mob over alleged rumours of cow slaughter at Bajhera Khurd village in Hapur.…



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Hapur lynching: Photo shows cops guarding mob dragging body of lynched man (Jun 22, 2018, Times of India)

In a major scandal for police, a photo showing cops standing guard around a mob dragging the body of a Hapur lynching victim, Qasim, has gone viral on social media, evoking sharp reactions from people. Another person, Samaydeen, was severely injured by the mob.

The lynching on June 18 has shot into media limelight, drawing severe criticism from all corners. The photograph going viral on internet adds to the grotesque details of the incident which have sent shock waves through the region.

Three cops including inspector Ashwini Kahri can be seen standing guard around the mob which is trying to drag an unconscious Qasim, who later died. Police, though apologetic about the insensitivity shown to the victim, tried to justify the act claiming that they were rushing Qasim to the police van when the picture was taken.…



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Mahe murder: one more RSS worker nabbed (Jun 17, 2018, The Hindu)

A key accused in the murder of Communist Party of India (Marxist) worker and former councillor in Mahe municipality Kannipoyil Babu was nabbed by the Puducherry police on Saturday.

A.M. Saneesh, 30, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker from Chembra in Mahe, was taken into , by the Puducherry police of Mahe from Piravom in Ernakulam district where he had been in hiding since the murder of Babu, near Palloor, on May 7. The police said he was being questioned. His arrest would be recorded by Saturday night.

Earlier, the police had arrested seven RSS workers involved in the murder. According to the police, four more accused are still at large. Babu had been hacked to death late on May 7.



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2 MP districts on edge after communal clash (Jun 18, 2018, The Tribune)

Two districts in Madhya Pradesh, Damoh and Shajapur, have been rocked by communal violence in the past 48 hours, with prohibitory orders in force.

While in Shajapur trouble began over a procession to mark Maharana Pratap’s jayanti, in Damoh’s Footera village, a phone talk reportedly between a boy and a girl of different faiths triggered a clash. Enraged over the phone talk, people of a particular faith entered the house of the youth and took to vandalism. In retaliation, a group of youths vandalised some houses and public property.…

Eyewitnesses said the trouble began when “Shourya Yatra”, to mark the Rajput warrior-king’s birth anniversary, reached an area where Eid was being celebrated in an open space near a temple. The police requested those heading the procession to put off the blaring music, but they refused to budge. Some people began to throw stones and the situation went out of control. Nine persons were injured and more than 12 vehicles damaged.…



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Official who signed Ishrat case affidavits gets threats (Jun 22, 2018, Times of India)

Former home ministry officer R V S Mani, who had signed the two affidavits filed by the Centre in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case and recently authored a book on ‘Hindu terror’, claimed he was threatened for his views while taking his evening walk in Dwarka in south west Delhi on Wednesday.

Mani said he was threatened by car-borne men as he walked by the Modern Convent School. “A SUV vehicle bearing HR no last digits 6029 stopped. The driver asked for directions to Gurgaon. In the midst of my response, another person who was hiding or lying in the rear passenger seat, sat up and tersely told me, “Hinduwon ka bada leader ban raha hai, kaat ke rakh doonga,” he stated in a Facebook post. The vehicle then sped away.

Mani’s lawyer said an email complaint had been filed with the Delhi police commissioner and joint commissioner, with a copy to the Union home secretary. While Mani said he did not know the identity or affiliation of the man who threatened him, he did link it to “disclosures” made by him in his book ‘Hindu Terror’. He also pointed to instances of “Congress-affiliated” persons taking digs at him during debates.…



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Passport Officer Shames A Hindu-Muslim Couple, Rejects Application, And Tells Husband To Convert To Hinduism (Jun 20, 2018, Huffington Post)

A passport officer in Lucknow allegedly rejected the application of an interfaith couple, and asked the husband, Mohammad Anas Siddiqui, to convert to Hinduism.

In a series of tweets directed at External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Tanvi Seth, a Hindu, who married Siddiqui in 2007, described how she and her husband were allegedly shamed by a passport officer named Vikas Mishra.

Referring to the passport officer, she wrote, “He spoke to me very rudely and was loud enough for others to hear while discussing my case. I have never felt so harassed ever before….He dint just put my passport on hold he even put my husband’s passport on hold.”…



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11 Banks accepted crores after Note-Ban, all linked to BJP: Congress (Jun 23, 2018, Sabrang India)

A staggering Rs 3,118 crores mysteriously found their way to these banks according to a document released in a press conference today. An RTI reply had last week sensationally revealed that a cooperative bank in Gujarat with BJP President Amit Shah as a director, had collected the highest volume of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were abruptly demonetised on 8 November, 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Even today, according to the website of the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank (ADCB), Shah continues to remain its director raising serious conflict of interest given his proximity to the finance ministry as the president of the ruling party.… ADCB’s total deposits on March 31, 2017, were Rs 5,050 crore and its net profit for 2016-17 was Rs 14.31 crore. Congress President Rahul Gandhi too tweeted using a catchy hashtag #ShahZyadaKhaGaya…

Another branch with a BJP minister as its chairman received the deposit of Rs 693.19 crore in the same period. The Rajkot District Cooperative Bank has Jayeshbhai Vitthalbhai Radadiya, a cabinet minister in Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s government, has its chairman.…



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Draw line or face Rising Kashmir editor’s fate: BJP MLA to journalists (Jun 23, 2018, Business Standard)

Former minister and senior BJP leader Lal Singh has warned Kashmiri journalists to draw a line between reporting facts and supporting terrorists or face the fate of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari, who was shot dead by militants.

Singh’s statement drew condemnation from the Kashmir Editors Guild and the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference. The party said this was a brazen attempt to muzzle the media in Kashmir and that his “open threat” merited “immediate cognizance” by the state police.…

Condemning the former minister’s remarks, a spokesman of the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) said in a statement, Singh, who was earlier being termed as a serious sufferer of foot-in-mouth disease, has moved way ahead and issued a direct threat to the media in Kashmir. “Singh’s statement indicates that he holds some information about Bukhari’s murder and must be investigated. KEG reserves the right to lodge a police case against the lawmaker who, earlier as well, named a number of reporters for his fall from grace in wake of the Kathua probe, now in a trial stage,” the guild said.…



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Forensic Test Reveals Why Kathua Gang Rape Victim Couldn’t Even Cry (Jun 25, 2018, Outlook)

Overdose of sedatives, forcibly administered to an eight-year-old rape victim during her captivity in Kathua in January this year, could have pushed her into coma before she was killed, forensic medical experts have said.

The crime branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, probing the gang rape-and-murder case, sent a sample of her viscera to a forensic laboratory earlier this month to examine the effect of “mannar” candies (believed to be local cannabis) and Epitril 0.5 mg tablets, administered to the girl by her captors.

According to the medical opinion received recently by the crime branch, the doctors said the tablet given to the eight-year-old girl could have pushed her into a state of shock or coma (loss of consciousness). The crime branch had asked the medical experts to comment upon the plausible effect of the medicine on an eight-year-old girl with an empty stomach.…



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Minor Dalit boy assaulted by Rajput men for wearing ethnic ‘mojdi’ shoes in Gujarat (Jun 15, 2018, New Indian Express)

A 13-year-old Dalit boy was allegedly beaten up by four Rajput men for wearing a “mojdi”, a type of ethnic leather shoes, police said today. The incident, which came to light after a video of it went viral on social media, occurred yesterday in Bahucharaji town of Gujarat’s Mehsana district.

Based on the minor’s complaint today, an FIR was registered against the four men, said Bahucharaji police Sub Inspector R R Solanki. “It is alleged that these four Rajput youth, including one Bharatsinh Darbar, thrashed the victim for wearing a mojdi. We have booked them on charges of kidnapping, assault as well as under relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” Solanki informed.

In his complaint, the minor boy, a resident of Vitthalapur village of Ahmedabad district, stated that the incident happened in Bahucharaji town yesterday. “When I was sitting near the bus stop, a group of youths came to me and asked me my caste. When I said that I am a Dalit, they asked me why I was wearing mojdi despite being a Dalit. When I tried to save myself by claiming that I am a Rajput, they forcibly took me to a place and thrashed me,” his complaint stated.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Hapur Lynchings: Narratives of Victims’ Families Suggest Pre-Planning – By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Jun 22, 2018, The Wire)

Three days after the 45-year-old cattle trader, Qasim, was lynched to death and the 65-year-old farmer Samiuddin was brutally beaten by a mob in Hapur, Uttar Pradesh, the members of their families narrated the sequence of the events that led to the mob attack, strengthening the widespread perception that the violence may have been pre-planned. Their versions also indicated that the Hapur police may have deliberately misled the family members to sign on the FIR that claimed the attack on Qasim and Samiuddin was a case of road rage.…

In the last week, four such communal lynching incidents – three in Jharkhand and one in Hapur – have rocked the country. While some panelists believed that such incidents are being planned to polarise the country on religious lines ahead of 2019 polls, almost all said that these will have much longer-term impact on Indian society.

“There will be anarchy in society as violence against minorities is getting normalised, attaining legitimacy slowly. This happens when the government forgets its rajadharama, practice divisive and partisan politics, and work towards strengthening politics of hatred. This will kill us all.”



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There is method in the madness – By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Jul 6, 2018, Frontline)

Thirty-five-year-old Sudheesh Minni lives in the rather obscure village of Ayikkara near Koothuparamba town in Kannur district of Kerala… there is a sense of horrific deja vu that Sudheesh experiences when he comes across news of Ramzan prayers held in open spaces in Gurugram and Faridabad being disrupted by Hindutva outfits guided and inspired by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)-led Sangh Parivar.

…As an active pracharak of the RSS until about four years ago, he has a more involved and intricate understanding of the diverse mechanisms that go into the assaults of varied Hindutva outfits on minority communities and the mounting sense of fear and insecurity they are building up among them. Sudheesh’s perception is that these rampant attacks have intensified across different parts of the country, especially north India, in the past six months as part of an unequivocal aggravation of the Hindutva game plan. “What India is witnessing at the moment is an intensified advancement of a systematic programme to subjugate and marginalise the Muslim and Christian communities,” he said. …

According to Sudheesh, this goes on day after day, meeting after meeting, ceremony after ceremony, and at the end of it one starts seeing every individual in minority communities as someone who is to be repressed under Hindutva hegemony. “If they do not fall in line, the RSS drill drives it home to the pracharak that the minority individual or group has to be eradicated mercilessly. The Sangh Parivar builds up in its cadre nothing short of an urge to carry out ethnic cleansing. What I have observed is that normally this brainwashed mindset never leaves the so-called ‘Senani’ whatever exposure to the outside world he gets,” Sudheesh said.…



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End of Pretence in Kashmir – Editorial (Jun 23, 2018, EPW)

Recent days have seen the burial of two fictions about Kashmir fostered with varying degrees of ardour. A ceasefire built on a foundation of mutual suspicion was revoked and a political alliance of polar opposites dissolved.

But, beyond the make-believe, there was little even remotely fictional about the brutal assassination of Shujaat Bukhari, a prominent journalist and public figure of Kashmir, just as the Ramadan month ended. Nor was there the slightest doubt about the factual foundations of the first-ever report on human rights in Kashmir by a United Nations body, although the Indian government has kept up a brazen pretence otherwise.…

Within the current global environment of aggressive majoritarianism, India’s insouciance in swatting away a seriously critical report on human rights in Kashmir by the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, passed without serious consequence. This marks a dangerous new low in accountability by state authorities. For the people of Kashmir, the potential hazards are incalculable.



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Modi, Shah in search of friends offer olive branch to allies – By Charanjit Ahuja (Jun 18, 2018, Tehelka)

…Call it Karnataka effect or recent reversals in bye-polls, Modi and Shah are busy these days mending fences with allies and party veterans. Apparently, the BJP never felt the need to visit these senior leaders in view of saffron triumph in state after state. However, coming together of opposition parties leading to BJP reversal in bye-polls has made the party think that Modi magic alone may not be enough to regenerate the 2014 euphoria in 2019.

A recent editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, insisting that the Sena would fight the coming elections alone indicated that all was not well with the alliance partners. Uddhav Thackeray must be under pressure to signal that he is as powerful as his father Bal Thackeray. It was in such a scenario that Shah, an astute politician that he is, called on Shiv Sena Chief, Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai, followed by a visit to Shiromani Akali Dal Patron, Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal in Chandigarh.…

PM Modi too is on a reconciliation mission and party veteran and former Deputy PM LK Advani and other estranged party elders are being approached. The antipathy to the Congress, raising up of corruption issues that unconditionally brought allies to the NDA fold in 2014, may not work in 2019. The Congress’ readiness to take a backseat in Karnataka and the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh forging an alliance have brought pressure on the BJP to be accommodating to its allies.…



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Lay Of The Lost – By Sandeep Sahu (Jun 25, 2018, Outlook)

A lost key has much of Odisha up in arms. There has been no let-up in demonstrations, protests and collective breast-beating since the media broke the news that the key to the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar, the storehouse of the incredible wealth of the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri, had been lost.

Curiously, the temple administration knew about the missing key in early April when preparations were being made to enter the Ratna Bhandar to assess the safety of the structure as per the orders of the Orissa High Court, but no FIR was filed nor an administrative inquiry ordered. All that was done was to try preventing the news from making it to the media. Only when it became public knowledge in the beginning of June that the government ordered a judicial inquiry by a retired high court judge – perhaps the first time a Commission of Inquiry was set up to probe a lost key in this country.

The government’s less-than-transparent move has predictably raised suspicions in the minds of crores of Jagannath devotees that some of the immense stock of gold and diamond ornaments in the Ratna Bhandar may have been pilfered. In fact, there has been no stock-taking of the wealth inside since an inventory was made way back in 1978 even though the Shree Jagannath Temple Act, 1960, under which the state government took over the management of the temple, stipulates that the Ratna Bhandar must be opened every six months and a fresh inventory made every three years when a new temple management committee takes charge.…



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Carnival of Atrocities – Editorial (Jun 23, 2018, EPW)

On 10 June, a video of two teenage Dalit boys being beaten and paraded naked in a village in Maharashtra’s politically high-profile Jalgaon district went viral on social media. The boys were humiliated and assaulted just because they were found swimming in a well owned by a person belonging to one of the denotified tribes in Maharashtra.

This incident, except for the social background of the perpetrators of the crime, is similar to the flogging of Dalit men by upper-caste youth in Una, Gujarat in 2016. In both cases, the Dalit corporeal body was made the object of a humiliating spectacle by filming the assault and then uploading it on social media, thereby reiterating that the perpetrators were unafraid of the legal consequences of their barbaric acts.…

The lack of social vigilance on the one hand, and the social terror of the upper castes on the other, appear to have forced the parents to accept the public thrashing of these two boys as just an act of violence and not a caste atrocity. The silent hostility that exists in this particular village, and perhaps in several villages elsewhere, makes it increasingly difficult for Dalits to exercise their constitutional rights that offer protection against the lawlessness of caste.…



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Book Review

Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir

Author: Teesta Setalvad
Reviewed by: Nandini Sundar
Available at: LeftWord Books, 2254/2A, Shadi Khampur, New Ranjit Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi 110008; 2017; pp 226, Rs 280. https://www.amazon.in
A Defending General (Jun 16, 2018, EPW)

What does the Constitution really mean? Who interprets it? Who implements it? This book by one of India’s most courageous citizens offers us some insight into these questions. It also explains why someone like Teesta Setalvad who has been not just a foot soldier but also a general defending the Constitution, is enemy No 1 for a regime bent on destroying it.

Why do people believe so deeply in the Constitution, and the promise of fraternity and equality that it embodies? For Setalvad, some of this belief in the Constitution came from her own lineage of legal luminaries; and her account of her growing-up years is interesting.

But Setalvad also recognises that she is not alone – that this belief is shared by many others, including the survivors of the ghastly communal violence she describes – the victims of the Gulberg housing society in Ahmedabad and the Naroda Patiya massacre. That they have not taken to retaliatory violence and instead pursued their cases through the courts is a testimony to this unshakeable belief.…