IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 11th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

CBI wanted to arrest Modi, Amit Shah in Ishrat case: Vanzara’s lawyer (Jun 5, 2018, Deccan Herald)

The lawyer of D G Vanzara, former deputy inspector-general in Gujarat Police, told a special CBI court on Monday that the central investigative agency was once seeking to arrest the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.

Vanzara’s lawyer V D Gajjar, while arguing his client’s discharge plea before the court of Justice J K Pandya, said that though the CBI intended to do so, “fortunately” it did not happen.

These revelations come after Vanzara, who is currently out on bail in the case, had earlier in his submission before the same court claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was secretly interrogated by the investigating officer in the case when he was the chief minister.



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India Under Modi is a Frightening Place, Lynching the Norm: Arundhati Roy (Jun 6, 2018, Sabrang India)

Award-winning author and social commentator, Arundhati Roy appeared on BBC’s flagship show Newsnight on Monday to talk about her new book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. A small clip of her video interview, posted by BBC, has now gone truly viral. In the video, broadcast on BBC 2, Roy is seen sharply criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi conceding that, politely put, she was not a fan of him. To justify her criticism for Modi, the Booker prize winning author pointed out the complete breakdown of law and order under the current BJP-led government and taking over of India’s ‘elite institutions’ by him.

Referring to her book, the BBC’s Evan Davis asked, “You mention Modi, you’re not a fan.” Roy interrupted saying, “To put it politely.” Davis went on complete his question, “He (Modi) does not come out of the book well. Has he been as bad as you would have feared?” Roy replied, “Yes, because today you’re looking at a situation where the Muslim community has been ghettoised. You’re looking at people being lynched on the streets. You’re looking at them being pushed out of economic activity they participated in earlier, you know meat shops, leather work, handicrafts, all of this under assault.

“The violence in India is terrifying. You all must have followed the rape of the little girl in Kashmir. That happened but thousands of people marched in support of the rapists including women, in support of the alleged rapists let’s say. But the point is there was an attempt to change how that trial was going to take place. So the polarisation is so frightening.” The incident was especially shameful as the Indian tricolour was abused by offenders to justify the act.…



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How ‘Saffron Terror’ Was Coined: A Rundown of 2008 Malegaon Blasts (Jun 5, 2018, The Quint)

The 2008 Malegaon blasts ensured that “saffron terror” would be added to the Indian political lexicon. While there was quite a political furore over the naming of former ABVP and RSS functionaries in the chargesheet, it was all but ignored that a serving Army officer, namely, Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, had also been allegedly involved. Two bomb blasts took place, almost simultaneously, in Maharashtra and Gujarat, on 29 September 2008.…

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) began an investigation into the Malegaon blast, led by then ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, who was later killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike. The ATS got its first breakthrough in the case by tracing the owner of the motorcycle used in the blast. The links from the owner of the motorcycle led to the arrest of three accused on 24 October 2008. The ATS arrested Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Shiv Narayan Gopal Singh Kalsanghra, and Shyam Bhawarlal Sahu.

The investigation also found links to Hindu extremist groups like the Abhinav Bharat, Rastriya Jagran Manch, Sharda Sarvagya Peeth, and the Hindu Rashtra Sena. All of the accused arrested or named in the chargesheet belonged to either of these organisations. The ATS probe also found links to these groups with respect to the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast, the Ajmer Dargah blast, the Mecca Masjid and the Samjhauta Train blast. This led to the prosecution filing charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA), which necessitates that the court should take cognizance of two former chargesheets against one or more of the accused.…



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Key Accused in Gauri Lankesh Murder Case Alleges Involvement of Hindu Outfit Leader (Jun 11, 2018, The Wire)

The ongoing probe into the September 2017 murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has revealed yet another link to the extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS).

According to an Indian Express report, Mohan Gowda, Karnataka’s HJS spokesperson, put K.T. Naveen Kumar, the key accused in the case, in touch with the Sanatan Sanstha unit during the planning phase of the Lankesh murder.

Naveen Kumar, an activist of the Hindu Yuva Sena, was arrested in March 2018 and four of his associates taken into custody last week for the murder of Lankesh and plotting to kill Kannada writer K.S. Bhagwan.…



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‘Death threat card’ generously used by the ‘saffron party’ (Jun 11, 2018, Siasat)

…Since already known for his behind the scenes hard work Modi rose to become Gujrat’s CM in the year 2001. But within months of his election as the State’s CM, the state was caught in crisis with the Anti-Muslims riots where as many as 1000 and more Muslims were mass murdered. While the whole nation remained silent at the Muslim killings, very few dared to put forth the question of why didn’t the state’s CM take any action to stop the riots and let Muslims across the state get mass murdered.…

None of the opposition parties took a jab at Modi asking him to step down from his role, and though the state CM should have spoken on the Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, Israth Jahan encounter and not to forget the minority lynching’s in the past four year’s tenure as PM or even during his time as Gujarat’s CM, Modi has never received a single death threat.…

It was only during the times of the saffron party’s crisis did the ‘death threat card’ is used by party leaders.… To garner votes, sympathy, the saffron party has always remained to secure the top-first position following the party’s victory in elections. With the upcoming Lok Sabha elections slated for 2019, the death threat card is indeed being played again for the party’s immense success.



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Whenever PM Modi’s popularity declines, news of his assassination plot is planted: Congress (Jun 9, 2018, Indian Express)

Raising doubts over the Pune police’s findings of an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a fashion similar to Rajiv Gandhi’s killing, the Congress party on Friday said it is Modi’s old tactics to plant stories like this.

“I am not saying this is completely untrue but it has been PM Modi’s old tactic since he was chief minister. Whenever his popularity declines, news of an assassination plot is planted. So it should be probed how much truth is in it this time,” said Sanjay Nirupam.

The Pune police, which on Wednesday arrested five persons, including a Dalit rights activist, a professor and a former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow, for alleged Maoist links, have seized an email that suggests plans to assassinate Modi in “another Rajiv Gandhi type incident” by “targeting his roadshows”.…



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Maharastra Government’s Terror Trail to Protect Hindutva Terrorists (Jun 10, 2018, Mainstream)

The Pune Police at 6.00 am today, June 6, 2018, arrested Advocate Surendra Gadling, General Secretary, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers from Nagpur; Prof Shoma Sen, Head of the Department of English, Nagpur University; Sudhir Dhawale, Editor, Vidrohi, from Mumbai; Rona Wilson, Public Relations Secretary, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners; and Mahesh Raut, anti-displacement activist from Bharat Jan Andolan and former Follow at Prime Minister’s Rural Development (PMRD) for Gadchiroli District.…

These arrests are in the face of the mass demand of several political parties and human rights organisations and activists and the Prerna Abhiyan in particular to arrest the leaders of Sangh Parivar organisations, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who were responsible for the violence on January 1, 2018 at Bhima-Koregaon. The Phadnavis Government, which has been protecting these actual perpetrators of the violence, has been attempting to create a false narrative that the violence at Bhima-Koregaon was caused by the Elgar Parishad and that banned Maoist organisations are behind the Prerna Abhiyan.…

The entire operation has been stage-managed by the Maharashtra Government keeping in mind the judicial enquiry headed by Justice J.N. Patel (Retd.) in order to ensure that submissions from the victims of the Hindutva and State violence are suppressed. It has also been done to queer the pitch for the forthcoming elections in the State as well as 2019. The BJP Government is desperate to create a reign of terror in order to polarise the Dalit and bahujan votes. And also to create a terror narrative thereby protecting the real terror culprits, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who will ensure votes for the BJP.…



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Indian Hindu group accuses Catholics of plotting against government (Jun 7, 2018, Irish Times)

A right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation linked to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused the country’s Catholic Church of conspiring with the Vatican to “destabilise” his elected government.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or World Hindu Council, declared on Wednesday that in collusion with the Vatican, the Catholic Church is trying to foster an atmosphere of “distrust” against Mr Modi’s administration, in addition to “denigrating” Hindus and India as a nation.…

Mr Jain was reacting to two recent letters by Catholic bishops in New Delhiand Goa to their parish priests and their respective dioceses, warning them that India’s secular fabric guaranteed in its constitution was under threat from communal and sectarian forces.…



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What RBI’s consumer confidence survey says about 4 years of Modi govt (Jun 8, 2018, Live Mint)

The fourth anniversary of the Narendra Modi government has led to much discussion about its track record on the Indian economy. Predictably, the pros and cons have divided among ideological lines, making it difficult to have an impartial view. Thankfully, we now have the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) consumer confidence survey, which should be free of bias.

The survey is conducted in the six cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad and therefore reflects opinions among the citizens of metropolitan India.

The RBI survey says that 48% of those surveyed in May 2018 felt that the general economic situation has worsened from a year ago, while 31.9% said their economic situation had improved. That gives a net response of -16.1 percentage points (31.9 less 48). Four years earlier, in June 2014, the net response was -14.4, better than it is now. Chart 1 has the data.…



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Muslims are ‘targeted’ and ‘abused’, says Shahi Imam after BJP reaches out to him for support (Jun 9, 2018, Times of India)

Shahi Imam of Delhi Jama Masjid on Saturday conveyed his displeasure after Union minister Vijay Goel met him as part of BJP’s ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ campaign, saying that Muslims in India are “targeted and abused”.

The Union minister met Imam Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari today as part of BJP’s contact for support campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha election next year.

“They’ve come to us but Muslims are targeted and abused. There is one year left for election if they do something, it’s welcome but we have a lot of complaints,” Bukhari said.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Lies that help Modi – By Tavleen Singh (Jun 10, 2018, Indian Express)

Every time I lose hope about Narendra Modi’s ability to deliver real change, some Leftist ‘intellectual’ reminds me why the people of India (and this columnist) supported him in the first place. This week the reminder came from the foreign media’s favourite Indian writer Arundhati Roy. In an interview to the BBC she said things about India that are as false as the charge she earlier made that the Indian Army has a history of repression that is worse than that of the Pakistani army. Not even a Pakistani general would say this.

This time when asked if Modi had proved worse than she feared, she said yes for these reasons: Muslims had been ‘ghettoised’ since 2014 and their livelihoods destroyed. Violence in India was so ‘terrifying’ that ‘thousands marched in support of the rapists’ in Kathua. That Modi was worse than Donald Trump because in the United States institutions like the media and the judiciary were able to ‘manage’ him by fighting back while in India they had been taken over. Proof lay in Supreme Court judges holding a press conference to say that ‘democracy’ was in danger. And, her final charge was that school textbooks now had Hitler’s picture on the cover.…

Modi has made mistakes in the past four years. He has failed to take India in a new economic direction. He wasted time on demonetisation and wasted money on huge, useless Congress welfare schemes like MNREGA.… It is a shame that Modi did not bring ‘parivartan’ here. It is a shame he did not make BJP chief ministers improve the appalling standards of their schools and hospitals and a terrible shame that the process of making major administrative reforms has not begun to happen in a single BJP state.…



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2019 Lok Sabha Election: An Anti-Modi Puzzle – By Bhavna Vij-Aurora (Jun 18, 2018, Outlook)

It all happened over a phone call. Ahead of the bypolls to Kairana and Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh last week, the young Samajwadi Party president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav suggested a tie-up to Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary – another one from the new generation in Indian politics. Within a few hours of the conversation, one more flank had been firmed up in the emerging anti-BJP phalanx. And the fate of India’s biggest electoral state, with its 80 Lok Sabha seats, probably swung a bit more decisively with that phone call. It was perhaps like the last, small weight that tilts the scales.

The two scions – among a fresh crop of politicians who are taking crucial calls these days, along with Tejashwi Yadav – cut a simple deal. Their respective parties would contest one seat each. Both the Kairana Lok Sabha seat and the Noorpur assembly constituency were in the Jat heartland of western UP, where the RLD is a key player. Kairana was left for Charan Singh’s legatees, almost as if to clinch the deal. Noorpur was left for SP. The decision was communicated to Mayawati’s BSP, which readily agreed not to field candidates.

The duo then zeroed in on Tabassum Hasan as the best candidate to take on the BJP in Kairana, which had hit the headlines as a communal hotspot in recent years. The amicable deal the two struck was exemplified by how the candidature was sealed: Hasan was with the SP and Akhilesh “loaned” her to RLD. “It was Akhilesh who suggested that we field Hasan on an RLD ticket…. It shows the level of coordination and trust between us,” Chaudhary tells Outlook.…



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The RSS and Its ‘Liberalism’ – Editorial (Jun 9, 2018, EPW)

The invitation by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to former President Pranab Mukherjee, and the latter’s decision to accept and address the swayamsevaks has given rise to all kinds of conjectures by the media and opinion leaders.… We also need to foreground the RSS’s claim to liberalism within a broader framework of liberalism itself. This would mean taking into consideration two sets of interrelated aspects that are important to assess the RSS’s efforts to defend the invitation on liberal grounds. The first aspect of the liberal framework is following the protocols of tolerance for a dialogue, democratic procedures, and reaching a positive conclusion through such procedures. The second set relates to sustaining the symbiotic relationship between a public personality and liberal principles.

Thus, there are two issues that must be posed before the RSS. First, even if it claims to use the first aspect of the liberal framework to defend its invitation, will it also share the consensus or conclusion from such a dialogue about the common good of the people? In other words, does the RSS’s love for democratic procedure lead to a logical culmination into a consensus on normative principles such as equal moral distribution of human worth? Second, if it believes it is justified in inviting a public personality for a dialogue, will it take the initiative on its own to frame normative principles as the basis for the proposed dialogue with the ex-President? These questions have an element of scepticism that has its origin in the RSS’s rhetorical commitment to liberal procedures as well as its principles.

The RSS spokespersons seem to be using democratic procedures and protocols as common resources in order to browbeat those who are either sceptical or openly opposing such an invitation by suggesting that the ex-President should not have accepted it. The RSS may appear liberal by asking its opponents to respect democratic procedures. However, using the rhetoric of procedures is not an end in itself. Procedures become meaningful when they help the involved parties to reach commonly agreed conclusions that have a serious bearing on universal values such as an equal concern for all human beings. These values are human dignity, friendship, freedom, as well as equality and justice.… Politics in India is driven by discussion on personality and the political moves these personalities make from time to time. Is the RSS an exception to this rule? Let us wait and see.



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Hindutva’s Double Game in the Northeast – By Vivan Eyben (Jun 5, 2018, News Click)

One aspect of the Shillong flare-up that should not be overlooked is the curious role of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). The BJYM has made statements supporting the relocation of the Punjabi Lane’s residents. The lane is known to be a congested part of Shillong and is often referred to as a ‘slum’ or a ‘ghetto’. The residents were brought there during colonial rule from Punjab to clean the dry latrines.

The president of BJYM, Egenstar Kurkalang on Sunday stated that the Punjabi Lane is a commercial area in Khasi Hills and the state government should take a decision on shifting the residents to bring in peace and harmony. He also said that it is not the first time that the residents of Punjabi Lane showed their high handedness towards the tribals. This position of the BJYM is interesting on two counts, firstly that the morcha’s parent party, the BJP is an alliance partner of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Secondly, the Hindutva ideology the party espouses does not go well with either Islam or Christianity, and the bulk of the tribal population in Meghalaya is Christian. What it lays bare is the duplicity of the BJYM and perhaps its parent party too.

The entire issue began over an altercation on Thursday which – with the help of social media – snowballed into a locals-versus-outsiders ethnic riot. Various pressure groups have called for the residents to be relocated, of which the BJYM is one of the voices in the bandwagon. The CM has alleged that the rioters are paid and have been brought in from outside Shillong. On the other hand, constant talk of resettlement instead of eviction does not give one the impression that the root cause is ethnic tension. It is ironic that the youth wing of a party which talks of ‘national unity’ and ‘integrating the Northeast’ has taken such a stand.…



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Is the Karnataka police hand-in-glove with RSS & Allied Groups? – By Suresh Bhat (Jun 4, 2018, Sabrang India)

… Three police staffers recently admitted that they did nothing when Udupi resident 62-year-old Hussainabba was being allegedly lynched by Bajrang Dal activists on the suspicion of illegally transporting cattle.Other reports suggest that he died in the police car and was transported back to the scene of the incident where he was found on Wednesday.

The trend of lynching minorities on the slightest of suspicions have gained steam in the years since the last general election. Although, it is just the tip of the iceberg. The untethered attacks have been a long time coming as RSS spread its toxic tentacles deep into the law enforcement ranks in Coastal Karnataka to carry out its own vicious agenda.

A local BJP MLC had admitted in the course of Cobrapost’s ‘Operation Juliet’ in 2015 that, “We have tried to send some of our boys in the police. When I talk to students, I tell them to join the police. So when we need help, there are a lot of karyakartas from RSS. 60 per cent of the young constables are our students.”…



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Times Now and Others Like It Are Using TV Studios to Perpetuate Rape Culture – By Pratiksha Baxi (Jun 1, 2018, The Wire)

There has been widespread condemnation of Times Now’s ‘super exclusive’ screening of CCTV footage in the Tarun Tejpal case on two primetime shows anchored by managing editor Navika Kumar and editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar on May 28. The programme has since been removed from the Times Now website.

Those who had the misfortune of stumbling upon the Newshour debate anchored by Kumar reported horror when the CCTV footage, dubbed as the ‘Tejpal Tapes’, was aired. The viewer was not informed that watching the footage made her complicit in an illegality. She was not told that the Goa court had prohibited the screening of the footage. The viewer was also not informed that the law prohibits the publication of rape trial proceedings conducted in-camera. Surely this undermines the very premise of a fair trial, for both the complainant and the accused?

Viewers were not informed that in-camera proceedings were introduced to ensure that the complainant’s identity is not revealed. For not only does shame and stigma accrue to women who testify against rape or sexual harassment, the circulation of their testimonies in the media also recreates trauma, apart from putting them at risk of further sexual violence.…



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