IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 18th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

1000-year-old Lucknow Temple Hosts Iftar for 500 Muslims, Offers Namaz at ‘Aarti Sthal’ (Jun 10, 2018, News18.com)

The Mankameshwar Temple, one of the oldest temples of Lord Shiva, has set an example of unity and brotherhood by hosting iftar for as many as 500 Muslims on Sunday in Lucknow. Noted clerics from both Shia and Sunni sects attended the event at the same time.

The Mankameshwar Temple, which is situated on the banks of Gomti River near Daliganj Bridge, became the first temple ever to have hosted an iftar in Lucknow. Devotees also offered namaz at the ‘aarti sthal’. Speaking to News18, Mahant Devyagiri, the first woman chief priest of the temple said, “All religions promote love and brotherhood.… Religious heads like priests, mahants and imams should do their job and spread brotherhood and harmony. Serving people who fast from morning to evening is the noblest job to do.

“Three of our cooks along with workers of the temple started preparations for the Iftar since morning for more than 500 people who were expected to come to this first of its kind Iftar. The gathering was historic and it was a step to reinstate the city’s harmonious traditions,” added the mahant.…


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Prominent Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari killed (Jun 14, 2018, Tehelka)

Senior journalist and the editor Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead by the suspected militants outside his office. He was leaving office to attend an Iftar party when assailants, reported to be two in number, fired at his vehicle, killing his personal security officers on the spot. Critically injured Bukhari was moved to hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Shujaat was one of the long-standing and well-known journalists in Kashmir. He was earlier a correspondent for The Hindu. His death has shocked Kashmir. It is the first attack on media in years and it has been widely condemned.…

J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed shock. “Shocked & deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Shujaat Bukhari. The scourge of terror has reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid. I strongly condemn this act of mindless violence & pray for his soul to rest in peace. My deepest condolences to his family,” tweeted Mufti.…



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BJP MP to bear legal expenses of lynching accused in Jharkhand’s Godda (Jun 16, 2018, New Indian Express)

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey came out in support of four men who were accused of killing two suspected cattle-lifters in Jharkhand. The Godda MP said he would bear all expenses for fighting the legal battle for them right from lower court to the Supreme Court.

Chiragh-ud-din Ansari, 45, and Murtaza Ansari, 30, were lynched at Dhullu village in Godda early Wednesday morning after being allegedly caught with stolen cattle. According to the police, the Ansaris were among a group of five people who had stolen buffaloes. While three of them managed to escape, the Ansaris were not lucky. Four people – buffalo owner Munshi Soren, Kameshwar Soren, Kishan Rai and Bhukul Kishku – were subsequently arrested.

“Even though lynching is inhuman, four people were arrested after pressure was mounted by the Opposition leaders. The entire village was present at the spot. The four are poor with no source of income other than their cattle,” Dubey said. “If their case is not fought properly, they will remain behind the bars for their entire life and their family will starve to death.”…



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Gauri Lankesh Murder: SIT Arrests Man Who Allegedly Shot The Journalist As More Hindutva Connections Come To Light (Jun 13, 2018, Huffington Post)

The Special Investigation Team (SIT), that is investigating the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, have said that they have arrested a man from Maharashtra, who allegedly pulled the trigger at the journalist. The Indian Express reported that the Karnataka Police have arrested Parshuram Ashok Wagmare. The SIT has submitted a statement from Waghmare, who is said to have criminal records, admitting that he was part of the murder plot.…

The News Minute quoted a source from the SIT as saying, “The sketches drawn up by the SIT and also his pictures match. He was detained for two days, and after questioning him, we were sure that he was Gauri Lankesh’s shooter. We have not yet found the murder weapon but we know that one of the six people arrested has the weapon.” Waghmare was arrested from his home in Maharashtra’s Sindhagi.

The Indian Express report says that he was associated in the radical right-wing Sri Rama Sena and was arrested for hoisting a Pakistani flag in Sindhagi in 2012 to stoke communal tensions in the area. Waghmare, 26, is the sixth person arrested in the case. The other people arrested in the case are KT Naveen Kumar, Amol Kale, Manohar Edve, Sujeeth Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Degvekar. Meanwhile, the police have found links of the murder to more Hindutva groups.…



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Dr. Kafeel Khan accuses BJP MP of masterminding his brother’s attack (Jun 18, 2018, Sabrang India)

Dr. Kafeel Khan has accused Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Bansgaon, Kamlesh Paswan and his three associates for the June 10 attack on his brother Kashif Jameel where he was shot three times. He discussed more details about how he came to this conclusion at a press conference on Sunday.

Dr. Khan claimed that Paswan and his accomplices Satish Nangalia, owner of Gorakhpur’s Baldev plaza, people named Numan and Nikhat Ara had conspired together to attack Kashif. He also said that his brother has named these four people in his statement to the police on Saturday. “The family has claimed that the conspirators want to usurp its 50,000 square feet property in Rustampur, Gorakhpur and that a similar attempt was made earlier in February after which an FIR was also lodged,” reported Times Of India.

Dr. Khan said that he wants the case to be investigated by an independent agency like the CBI and headed by high court judges. “We don’t want this case to be investigated by UP police because it is complicit. The police have not yet found any motive for the attack. It was promised that the culprits will be nabbed within 48 hours. It has been a week now but no action has been taken yet, no arrests have been made yet,” he said at the press conference.…



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Sohrabuddin Shaikh ‘fake encounter’ case: DG Vanzara had told us to visit Ashish Pandya’s house, depose two witnesses (Jun 15, 2018, Indian Express)

In the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case, two witnesses told the court Thursday that they had visited the house of police sub-inspector Ashish Pandya on the instructions of then DIG, Gujarat Police, D G Vanzara on November 25, 2006.

Tulsiram Prajapati was killed in an alleged fake encounter on November 28, 2006 by a team of policemen including Pandya, the CBI claims. The CBI’s case is also that Pandya was on leave during that period but was directed to return for carrying out the encounter. While Vanzara was discharged on August 1, 2017, Pandya continues to face trial on charges including murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence.…

During their cross-examination by defence advocates, however, the two witnesses were asked whether a record of the visit was maintained. The first witness said he did not remember.… “It is true that I have not disclosed the maintenance of the weekly diary of daily work available in the office, nor was it collected and tendered,” the witness said. He denied the suggestion the details of the visit were not entered as no such visit was made. The second witness also told the court he had not made entries of the visit in any diary.…



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VHP members vandalise Taj Mahal’s west gate, say it blocks path to a 400-year-old Shiva temple (Jun 13, 2018, Indian Express)

A group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) members tried to vandalise the west gate of the Taj Mahal on Sunday alleging that the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is blocking the way to a 400-year-old Shiva temple while constructing a closed area for the Taj Mahal.

A video footage of the incident shows VHP workers with hammers and iron rods trying to vandalise the western entrance of the Taj Mahal (on Basai Ghat) even as they removed the turnstile gate installed by the ASI. The right-wing activists were also raising slogans against them. However, police said there’s an optional path to the Siddheshwar Mahadev Temple on the Basai Ghat, but the right-wing members weren’t satisfied with the explanation.

Meanwhile, after the ASI lodged a complaint, an FIR was registered on the same day against five members of the VHP and the 20-25 of their unidentified associates for rioting, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty and under the section 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act and section of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.…



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Does loving Hindus mean hating Muslims? Asks Mamata (Jun 16, 2018, Times of India)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said those who accuse her of appeasing Muslims are friends of neither the Hindus nor the Muslims.

“Some accuse me of (doing) Muslim appeasement. My question to them is whether loving Hindus means you have to hate Muslims. I respect and love all communities and religion. This country belongs to everybody,” she said.

“Those who say I appease Muslims are friends of neither the Hindus nor the Muslims,” Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, said while addressing a special prayer gathering on Red Road here to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.…



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Funds for SC/ST used to make films on Modi’s village and Sardar Patel statue (Jun 14, 2018, Sabrang India)

…Senior Congress MLAs and independent MLA Jignesh Mevani alleged that the Gujarat government made a film on PM Modi’s native place Vadnagar and Sardar Patel’s ‘Statue of Unity’ using government funds meant for the welfare of scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST.)…

In an RTI query filed by the Council for Social Justice (CSJ,) The govt’s response supports the current claims by the MLA’s. It was reported by The Statesmen in January, “An amount of 4 lakh was paid from the SC, ST Sub Plan funds for a film on Vadnagar while another Rs. 1.86 crore was spent on television advertisements about the Statue of Unity being built on an island inside the Narmada river downstream of the dam of the same name.

“These pieces of information have come out in reply to Right to Information (RTI) queries filed by the Council for Social Justice (CSJ) which sought to know how the funds allocated for SC, ST Sub Plan have been spent on the welfare of these deprived classes.”…



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Post Nirbhaya: Girls continue to be violated by sexual predators (Jun 18, 2018, Tehelka)

The recent case of a minor girl studying in class X who was kidnapped, gangraped and then poisoned by three people in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, shows the diabolic mindset of violators. The incident took place on June 5 and the girl later died during treatment. The dastardly incident came on the heels of assault on a 13-year-old minor by a group of four men near a temple in Haryana’s Yamunanagar recently.

The incident occurred when girl’s parents were away and the minor was sleeping in her house with her siblings. Four men barged into her house, kidnapped her and took the girl to an area near a temple and raped her. The men then smashed the girl’s head against the temple in a bid to kill her and destroy evidence. An FIR under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has been filed. Sadly Haryana’s track record in the treatment of its women and girls has never been perfect and the spate of recent incidents confirms this.

Has the President’s approval of the Ordinance prescribing death penalty for rapists of girls below 12 years of age proved to be a deterrent or awe-inspiring? It seems it has not been able to instill any fear because the nation is still confronted with a Kathua, Unnao or a Surat practically every day.…



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Two Dalit Boys Were Stripped And Beaten For Swimming In A Village Well In Maharashtra (Jun 15, 2018, Huffington Post)

Two boys from the Dalit community were striped and beaten for swimming in a well in Vakadi village in Jalgaon district, Maharashtra. The incident occurred on June 10, but it came to light after a video of the horrific incident surfaced and was shared widely on social media, IANS reported.

The boys, who had jumped into the well to beat the heat, were pulled out by persons belonging to the so called upper caste communities, the newswire reported. In the video clip, the two boys, who appear to be in their teens, can be seen covering themselves with leaves, even as a man hits them with a green coloured belt and then a stick. Another man can be heard laughing in the background.

Two men, Ishwar Joshi and Prahlad Lothar, have been arrested under the Prevention of Atrocities Act and also the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The New Indian Express reported that the well was located in Joshi’s farm. Joshi and his friend, Lothal, allegedly stripped the boys and thrashed them with a pipe and a stick, the newspaper reported. The two men reportedly made the video clip and shared it on the internet.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Conspiracy Mongering – Editorial (Jun 16, 2018, EPW)

After dilly-dallying for five months, on 6 June 2018 the Pune police made multiple arrests in Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi relating to the Bhima Koregaon case. The five accused—Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, and Rona Wilson, all human rights activists—were arrested for their association with the Elgar Parishad, which the police claim was responsible for inciting the violence at the bicentenary celebrations of Bhima Koregaon.

The police also went on to claim that these “urban Maoists” were allegedly part of a “plot to kill” Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The timing of the arrests, the targets, and the discursive tropes invoked in this political move suggest that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking to kill multiple birds with one stone.

It would appear that this high-voltage political drama has been timed to tide over one of the first sustained lows in the incumbent National Democratic Alliance government’s stint both in Maharashtra and at the centre.… Notwithstanding the trumped-up hysteria in mainstream media, the “plot to kill Modi” has not received the kind of sympathy the BJP had hoped for.… After all, this bogey has been raised every time Modi was in a tight spot, going back to his chief ministerial days in Gujarat.…



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Assam Lynching: Digital Bombs of Mob Violence – By Dola Mitra (Jun 25, 2018, Outlook)

…On June 8, when Nilotpal Das, a 29-year-old sound engineer, and his friend Abhijeet Nath, 30, a businessman, set out to visit a popular tourist spot in Karbi Anglong’s Dokmoka – about 180 km from state capital Guwahati – they had no idea that the area was in grip of virtually generated paranoia: messages claiming that a group of child-lifters had entered the area from Bihar had gone viral on social media and WhatsApp.

Even if they had known, would they have thought anything of it? It was just an online rumour after all. But as other examples from the last two months have shown us, hysteria has rendered the absurd as hard fact, bringing out the worst manifestation of fear – brutal violence.

The ‘child-abductor’ lynchings have come almost like a wave: a 52-year-old transgender in Hyderabad, a 26-year-old youth in Bangalore, a 55-five-year-old woman in Tiruvannamalai district in Tamil Nadu, all lynched by mobs gone paranoid over social media and WhatsApp rumours in the month of May itself. In all these places, the victim fell into an ‘outsider’ category.…



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Shujaat Bukhari’s killing shows Kashmiri journalists may not live to tell their tale – By Sushant Sareen (Jun 15, 2018, Dailyo.in)

…Tragic as Shujaat’s death is, its implications will be far-reaching. The first is, of course, that his brutal murder is a sign, if one was needed, that the situation in Kashmir is continuing to deteriorate. Any temporary truce or calm is just that. Worse is still to come.…

Shujaat’s killing is a sign that, in some ways, things are even worse than what they were in the 1990s. In all the blood that was spilled during the 1990s and early 2000s, journalists were, by and large, left unmolested. They faced enormous pressures from both terrorists and the security forces, but apart from one or two cases, the journalist community lived to tell the tale. This could be changing with Shujaat’s killing.…

The danger is even greater for journalists who go beyond the professional call of duty and dabble in peace-making by playing mediator or even messenger. In the case of Shujaat, there are some reports that he might have been targeted because he was trying to play mediator and push ahead with a nebulous peace process. If so, then his activities clearly riled some people who had no use for any peace process. Kashmir today is on the edge of the abyss, once again.…



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Gauri Lankesh, Pansare, Dabholkar, Kalburgi: Justice delayed. How long will it be denied? – By Dailybite (Jun 13, 2018, Dailyo.in)

Nine months after journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her home in Bangalore, the Special Investigation Team probing her murder has made a key arrest – it claims to have caught the man who fired at Lankesh.

Parashuram Waghmore has been arrested after the interrogation of other suspects nabbed in the case, all of whom have links to the Maharashtra-based Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an affiliate of the Santan Sanstha, which has had a role in bomb blasts in Thane in 2008 and Goa in 2009. A picture of Waghmore with Pramod Muthalik, the head of another Hindutva group, the Sri Ram Sene, has also been doing the rounds since his arrest.

While Lankesh’s murder on September 5, 2017, had led to shock and outrage across the country, it also evoked ugly glee from some quarters. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come under fire for following an abusive troll ‘celebrating’ the murder on Twitter (Modi still follows Nikhil Dadhich). Her killing has since been mired in conspiracy theories of various hues – from the involvement of Maoists to that of fringe Hindutva groups.…



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Stinging facts – By Divya Trivedi (Jun 22, 2018, Frontline)

In a sting operation conducted by the online investigative portal Cobrapost, India’s popular e-payments company Paytm suggested that it might be sharing user data with the government. While the company later denied sharing any information with third parties, the reputation of this start-up, which saw overnight success, has suffered a nosedive.

“As a Paytm user, this incident erodes my trust in its services, especially because Paytm holds sensitive financial information about its users. As a payment service provider, the most important unique selling proposition should be trust. Paytm is no longer a trusted brand,” said a user, requesting anonymity.

Ajay Shekhar Sharma, senior vice president and younger brother of Paytm owner Vijay Shekhar Sharma, was caught on camera revealing that he had received a phone call from the Prime Minister’s Office asking for user data in the aftermath of a stone pelting incident in Jammu and Kashmir. “They must have thought some of the stone pelters were Paytm users,” he told senior journalist Pushp Sharma, who was posing as “Acharya Atal”, an agent of the Sangh Parivar.…



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Is the Church trying to destabilize Modi Sarkar? – By Ram Puniyani (Jun 18, 2018, Sabrang India)

…A VHP spokesperson, Surendra Jain (June 7) stated that the Church in India is trying to destabilize Modi Sarkar. This was in the backdrop of the statements by two Archbishops, the one from Delhi and other from Goa. Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, on May 8, 2018, addressed a letter to all parish priests and religious institutions in the Archdiocese of Delhi asking them to pray for ‘our nation.’ The letter begins with the observation, “We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation.”…

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao said that human rights are under attack and the Constitution is in danger, and it’s why most people live in insecurity. Ferrao, in his annual pastoral letter, addressed to “priests, religious, lay faithful and people of goodwill,” and asked Catholics to “play an active role in the political field” and to “shun sycophantic politics.” “As the general election is fast approaching, we must strive to know our Constitution better and work harder to protect it,” and added that “democracy appears to be in peril.”

Both the letters in a way are an expression of the cry of anguish of the plight of religious minorities. The anti-minority violence has seen a quantitative and qualitative worsening during the last few years. While anti-Christian violence is not spectacular and many national commentators even question its occurrence, the fact of the matter is that low level scattered anti-Christian violence is around and most of it is not reported in the national media. Incidentally, the World Watch List 2017 ranks India at number 15, among the worst nations where Christians are persecuted. Four years ago, India ranked 31 on the list.…



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