IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 4th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Ayodhya priests hold iftar for communal amity (Jun 5, 2018, New Indian Express)

In a surprising move, Hindu priests organised a ‘Roza Iftar’ party at the 500-year-old Saryu Kunj temple adjacent to the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya which witnessed participation by a large number of Muslims from the twin towns of Ayodhya-Faizabad on Monday.

The Ayodhya priests projected the iftar as an effort towards spreading the message of peace and harmony between the two communities with no political involvement. “Ours is an apolitical event and the intention is to send out a message of peace to the world out there,” said Mahant Jugal Kishore Sharan Shastry, the chief priest of the Saryu Kunj temple.…

While Mahant Raghusharan Das called it an effort to bridge the gap between the two communities, the members of Muslim community heaped praise on their Hindu brethren claiming that despite being a minority in the temple town they never felt threatened even in the worst of time. “Of course not because of any political party but the understanding between the two communities on the ground in Ayodhya,” said a Muslim man who had come from Faizabad.…



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In 27 By-Elections Across 15 States Since 2014, Story of BJP Decline Writ Large (Jun 1, 2018, The Wire)

As if Thursday’s results to the four parliamentary and 11 state assembly constituencies across the country was not bad enough news for the BJP, party managers need to consider another alarming statistic from all the Lok Sabha by-elections held since the time Narendra Modi swept to power: the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies have not managed to add a single new seat to the impressive tally of 336 they recorded in May 2014. The BJP alone won 282. Today, it is down to 271 elected MPs – 273 if we include the two nominated ones – while the NDA is at 327.

By contrast, the opposition – still lacking the coherence to be considered united – has not only held onto every single seat for which a by-election has been held but has even managed to win nine seats – eight from the BJP and one from an ally of the saffron party.…

There are other markers of Modi and the BJP’s declining hold over the national electorate, such as the percentage of votes the party has polled in state after state following 2014, as well as its victory margin for those seats it has held on to in the Lok Sabha.…



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Row over Pranab attending RSS event, former Congress minister asks him to reconsider (May 29, 2018, Times of India)

Former President Pranab Mukherjee accepting an invite from the RSS to be the chief guest at a function at the Sangh headquarters on June 7 snowballed into a row with a former Union minister urging him to reconsider his decision in the interest of secularism.

While the Congress refrained from making a comment on the issue, a party leader asked if the RSS accepted what the former President said as a minister and Congress leader about the Sangh being the “worst” outfit which was “communal”, “anti-national” and “unpatriotic”.…

Former Union minister CK Jaffer Shareif, in a letter to Mukherjee, expressed surprise over the move and said he like other secular people was “stunned” to hear about his attending the RSS function.…



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Muzaffarnagar riots case: Non-bailable warrants against Balyan, Sadhvi Prachi (Jun 4, 2018, Indian Express)

A Muzaffarnagar court has issued non-bailable warrants against former Union minister Sanjeev Balyan, VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi, BJP MLA Umesh Malik and two others for not appearing in the court in connection with a case related to the 2013 riots.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Ankur Sharma issued the non-bailable warrants and asked the accused to be present in court on June 22. Bijnor MP Bhartendu Singh, Uttar Pradesh Minister Suresh Rana, and MLA Sangeet Som, were also accused in the case. They too had not appeared in the court yesterday. But the court had allowed their application seeking exemption from personal appearance in hearings, the prosecution said.

According to the prosecution, the accused are facing charges of violating prohibitory orders, deterring public servants from discharging their duties and wrongful restraint. The accused had allegedly participated in a “mahapanchayat” and incited violence through their speeches in the last week of August 2013.…



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Gauri Lankesh murder case: Cops close in, four held in plot to kill writer (May 30, 2018, Indian Express)

A Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka police has inched closer to cracking the September 5, 2017 murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh outside her home in West Bengaluru following the arrest of four persons linked to radical right wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha for a January 2018 plot to kill writer K S Bhagwan in Mysuru.

The four persons linked to the Sanatan Sanstha, and its sister concern the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, arrested last week by the SIT are also linked to K T Naveen Kumar, 37, an activist of the Hindu Yuva Sena, who attended several meetings of the HJS and Sanatan Sanstha in 2017, and was arrested in March 2018 in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

The four arrested are: Amol Kale alias Bhaisab, 39, an activist of the HJS from Maharashtra; Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep, 39, a Sanatan Sanstha activist and resident of Goa; Manohar Edave, 28, a resident of Vijayapura in Karnataka; and Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, 37, a HJS and Sanatan Sanstha activist from Mangalore alleged to have been guiding operations in Karnataka to plan the murder of Bhagwan.…



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Udupi: Hussainabba death – Probe reveals cops hand-in-glove with Bajrang Dal, tried to cover up (Jun 3, 2018, Daijiworld.com)

In a major development in the case related to the mysterious death of cattle trader Hussainabba, superintendent of police (SP) Laxman Nimbargi in a press note to the media revealed that the Hiriadka police were hand-in-glove with the VHP and Bajrang Dal activists and had deliberately tried to cover up the case.

Hussainabba (61) along with others was transporting cattle, allegedly illegally in the wee hours of May 30, when Bajrang Dal activists waylaid his vehicle at Perdoor. While the others managed to escape, Hussainabba was found dead later. It was not known how Hussainabba met his death – while his family alleged that Bajrang Dal activists had beaten him to death, the police had claimed that he died of heart attack. The locals had alleged police role in the case.

Police investigation into the matter has revealed that the main accused Suri alias Surya, the local VHP leader along with other Bajrang Dal activists brutally assaulted Hussainabba. As he was aged, Hussainabba was unable to run away from them. His family in their complaint had alleged that Hiriadka police inspector was present when the murder took place.…



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Haryana: Muslims offering Namaz thrashed at Karnal mosque (Jun 1, 2018, Free Press Journal)

A group of man allegedly thrashed some people, who were offering Namaz at a mosque in Haryana’s Karnal on Thursday night. The victims alleged that a group of 20-25 people walked in, vandalized the mosque, broke speakers and thrashed those offering Namaz.

Muhammad Imran, one of the victims, told ANI, “We were offering Namaz like all other days, and suddenly a group of 20-25 people walked in and attacked us. We were threatened. Those people told us that if we offer Namaz again, we will be killed.”

Another victim said, “We had done nothing other than offering our daily Namaz, but we were attacked and our mosque was vandalized, we demand justice.” Meanwhile, Kunjpura Station House Officer Rajkumar Ranga said that an investigation has been launched into the incident.…



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90% VHP, Bajrang Dal members resign in Assam; to campaign against Modi in 2019 (Jun 1, 2018, Guwahatiplus.com)

Around 90% of the trained Bajrang Dal cadres and active Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) members have resigned in Guwahati and Assam. They have decided to campaign against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019.

Former Bajrang Dal Zila Sangjujak, Deepjyoti Sharma, talking to G Plus said, “Out of 820 Bajrang Dal cadres, 816 have resigned in Guwahati.” He himself had resigned recently after a crucial meeting was held in the Sukreswar Temple on 24th May last, where most of the Bajrang Dal cadres and some VHP members were present. According to Sharma, out of 14,000 Bajrang Dal cadres across Assam, 13,900 have resigned.

Talking about VHP members, 380 members out of 400 active members in Guwahati have resigned, Sharma added. Top state VHP leaders including VHP state advisor Dr. TK Sharma, have resigned from the organisation. From the Bajrang Dal state executive team, 10 out of 11 members have resigned on 24th May officially. The fissure in the organisation occurred after VHP strongman, Pravin Togadia, quit the organisation a month ago.



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US state department report says India does not prosecute violence by vigilantes (May 29, 2018, Hindustan Times)

The US state department said in an annual religious freedom report released on Tuesday that authorities in India “often did not prosecute violence by vigilantes against persons, mostly Muslims”, trading in or consuming beef.

“Members of civil society and religious minorities stated that under the current government, religious minority communities felt increasingly vulnerable due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against non-Hindu individuals and their places of worship,” the annual report on the state of religious freedom around the world said.…

On India, the report, based largely on published news accounts and commentary, said: “There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytise. “There were several violent incidents by so-called ‘cow protection’ groups against mostly Muslim victims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation. Authorities often failed to prosecute those committing the attacks.”



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PNB fraud: Nirav Modi papers gutted in fire at Income Tax office (Jun 3, 2018, The Tribune)

Files on absconding jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi apart from several others wanted for economic offences have been destroyed in a major fire at the premises of the Income Tax department on Friday, according to sources here.…

Sources in the Income Tax department said files pertaining to Modi and Choksi, as well as some documents relating to the Essar group, were also on the premises. They are all undergoing investigation for fraud or facing bankruptcy proceedings.… RTI activist Anil Galgali, who has obtained a number of documents under the sunshine law, told reporters that the fire may have been deliberately caused by vested interests.…

Both Modi and Choksi are key suspects in a massive Rs 13,000 crore loan fraud involving several banks, including, most importantly, India’s second largest public sector bank, the Punjab National Bank. The fraud – which made headlines for days when the bank made a filing to the country’s market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, admitting there was an ongoing investigation into the loan fraud – is the largest the country has ever seen. Both Modi and Choksi are currently on the run.



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Hindutva Engineered and Inspired Atrocities on Dalits Condemned (Jun 1, 2018, Sabrang India)

…Needelss to say, the systematic attacks on radical Dalits, and running down of legal provisions have emboldened the criminal lumpen base of Hindutva in cow vigilante groups, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Yuva vahini to attack ordinary Dalits. This is also contributing to creating an environment in which middle class professionals from ‘upper’ caste Hindus feel no hesitation in circulating manifestly anti-Dalit propaganda on social media.

BJP governments in Center and states also seem to be systematically conniving to dilute existing provisions of affirmative action and legal protection to Dalits. Officials of the Modi government acted most dubiously in the case that led to dilution of provisions of prevention of atrocities act. Additional Solicitor General is on court records to have said this act is being misused. Modi govt did not file a review petition immediately. Governments of Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan showed unseemly haste in implementing the court order, depriving Dalits of essential legal protection.

Another area in which BJP government is eager to dilute legal provisions for the benefit of Dalits is in appointments to universities. UGC has passed orders that the basis of reservation roster will be departments rather than university. Following this the advertisement for 52 faculty posts at Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in MP had only one reserved post. Government of India needs to urgently bring in an ordinance to overrule Supreme Court decision in this regard. But Modi administration is sitting pretty.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Modi has established himself as Hindutva’s militant voice. There’s no need for reiteration – By Kumar Ketkar (May 30, 2018, The Print)

Narendra Modi is by far the cleverest campaigner and arguably the most cunning narcissist. This assessment of the man is not necessarily based on bias, but minute and elaborate observation of his style and substance.

He has avoided talking of Hindutva in Baghpat and in some other rallies. But that does not mean, in the least, that he has risen above the narrow ideology of Hindu fundamentalism. The strident Hindutva, vicious and violent, was the core of his speeches in 2002 and 2007 Gujarat election campaigns, and he brought it upfront even in last year’s Gujarat election rallies.…

Once having established himself as the militant voice of Hindutva and Hindustan, from 2002 onwards, it is not necessary to reveal his fundamentalist identity each time. To appease the right wing, neo-liberal economist lobby, he can talk of reforms, development, progress, and so on. But his eloquent silence when mayhem and murder was taking place in the name of beef, cow slaughter, ‘love-jihad’ and such other issues underlines his essential ideological character.…



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Was making Adityanath UP chief minister PM Modi’s biggest political mistake? – By Kubool Ahmad (Jun 4, 2018, Dailyo.in)

The BJP has tasted defeat in Uttar Pradesh, again. The party’s loss in the Kairana Parliamentary and Noorpur Assembly by-elections comes barely months after the drubbing in the Gorakhpur and Phoolpur Vidhan Sabha by-polls. While the string of defeats raises questions on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it squarely puts in the dock UP’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath.…

The BJP’s sweep of the 2017 elections was made possible to a large degree thanks to OBC and Dalit votes. However, Adityanath has failed in maintaining the very caste coalition that propelled him to power. The OBC and Dalit communities were not given adequate representation in the government. Moreover, members of Yogi’s own caste, the Thakurs, were involved in violent clashes with Dalits in Saharanpur. Yogi has also been accused of favouring the Thakurs, over which his own ministers have questioned him.…

PM Modi himself is an MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi. The locals, thus, had naturally hoped that his constituency would see achche din soon, on the lines of the famed Gujarat model of progress. The PM too had announced that he would turn UP into a “growth engine” before 2019. However, it has been more than a year since the BJP came to power in the state, and there is not much to show on the “progress” front. … Can we say the Adityanath “masterstroke” has in fact proven to be a lost gamble?



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4 years of Modi: Ostracisation of Muslims a hallmark of ‘new India’ – By Zoya Hasan (May 27, 2018, National Herald)

One essential test of a true democracy is whether it protects the rights of minorities, especially when in tension with the political majority or government. Most modern democracies contain significant minority groups whose language, religion, or ethnicity differs from those of the majority. The issue is whether it is possible to accommodate these forms of diversity without weakening the bonds of common citizenship and democracy.

The Indian experience shows two tendencies. The first, which lasted seven decades, is that diversity and democracy can complement rather than contradict and weaken democracy. The second tendency, more prevalent after the rise of the right-wing forces is one which seeks to draw attention to diversity only to contain or repress it. The 2014 election marks the mainstreaming of this approach, based on the Sangh Parivar’s principal belief that India is a Hindu nation which will allow others to flourish only if they recognise the fundamentally Hindu nature of India’s culture and assimilate to that.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Sangh Parivar have been engaged in a concerted campaign against all religious minorities, particularly Muslims. In fact, the Modi government has been quite busy with Muslim issues even as their estrangement has grown. It is hardly a coincidence that the issues most debated today relate to beef, love-jihad, ghar wapsi, Ayodhya, the role of Mughals in history, all of which serve only one purpose – to send a message to the Muslim minority that this is a New India, in which they have a different status than before.…



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Illiberal India; Gauri Lankesh and the Age of Unreason – By Chidanand Rajghatta (Jun 1, 2018, Hindustan Times)

Based on his ‘social activity’ and profile, police surmised that Kumar, also called ‘Hotte Manja’, … had close links to rightwing outfits, including an organisation called Hindu Yuva Sena. They did not want him to vanish into the vast expanse of Bharatavarsha as had happened with men such as Rudra Patil, Sarang Akolkar, Praveen Limkar and Vinay Pawar, all suspects in the Pansare and Dabholkar murders.…

…The SIT wanted to crack the bigger plot: forensics in the case was increasingly pointing to the same weapon having been used in the Gauri-Kalburgi shooting, and the same vintage of weapon, possibly even the same weapon, in the Pansare-Dabholkar murders. This went beyond Kumar; in fact, he may have been just the facilitator who carried out the recce and ferried the killer to Gauri’s home, the police said, not the one who pulled the trigger.…

That the finger of suspicion pointed to Sanatan Sanstha was hardly surprising. Four Sanstha activists – with Interpol red-corner notices against their names for their alleged involvement in a bomb blast in Madgaon, Goa in 2009 – were already on the lam at the time the serial assassinations of the rationalist-leftists began. One of them was Praveen Limkar. Under questioning, Naveen Kumar aka Hotte Manja named Limkar as the man he liaised with, leading the SIT to name him as the second accused in Gauri’s murder.…



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When Pranab Mukherjee sought probe into links between RSS and terrorists – By Kumar Shakti Shekhar (May 29, 2018, India Today)

Former president Pranab Mukherjee had moved a political resolution as a senior Congress leader on December 19, 2010. It was the second day of the Congress’ 83rd plenary at Burari, on the outskirts of the national capital. The political resolution moved by Mukherjee, the then Union finance minister, asked the Congress-led UPA government at the centre to investigate links between terrorists and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its sister organisations.

Mukherjee’s political resolution made the fervent appeal in view of some terror incidents such as the 2006 Malegaon and 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts which allegedly were linked to persons associated with the RSS. The resolution, which was passed asked the UPA government to “investigate links between terrorists and the RSS and its sister organisations that have been uncovered in some recent cases”.

“The role of religious fundamentalist organisations in challenging the security of the nation can no longer be ignored,” it added. This is in contrast to Mukherjee accepting the invite from the RSS to be the chief guest at a function on June 7 to be held at their headquarters in Nagpur.…



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School textbooks are being changed secretly: Is there a ‘saffron’ design in it? – By Apoorvanand (Jun 3, 2018, National Herald)

School textbooks are undergoing changes surreptitiously. Nobody would have had an inkling if Ritika Chopra of Indian Express had not taken the trouble of painstakingly comparing the new textbooks with the ones published earlier.…

Public memory being proverbially short, few will recall the recent controversy in Rajasthan where a ‘handbook’ or a guide to follow a textbook prescribed by the Rajasthan School Board for English medium schools described Bal Gangadhar Tilak as the ‘father of Indian terrorism’. The shoddily produced book by an Agra-based publisher had taken liberal help from Wikipedia and followed it up with a clumsy attempt to modify certain words. In the process, ‘father of Indian unrest’ turned into ‘father of Indian terrorism’.…

The official explanation being given is that the changes are being made following comments and suggestions the textbooks elicited. The question is whose suggestions? from which quarters did the comments emanate? Who suggested that Gujarat’s anti-Muslim riot in 2002 be described just as violent rioting? Is there a design in describing the Narmada Bachao Andolan or agitation against the Tehri Dam as just an environmental protest?…



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