IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 28th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Bihar: Man breaks Ramzan fast to save Hindu boy’s life (May 28, 2018, One India)

The holy month of Ramzan is a time for fasting for believers. Muslims around the world adhere strictly to the rules, which includes no food or even a drop of water from sunrise to sunset.

However, this man broke the rules – but for a noble cause! As reported by ANI, a Muslim man from Darbhanga district in Bihar, Mohammad Ashfaq, broke his roza (fast observed during Ramzan) on Monday to donate blood to a two-day-old Hindu boy of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) jawan Ramesh Kumar Singh.

The man, Mohammad Ashfaq, recently came across a Facebook post, where the infant’s family had posted a message urging users to donate blood for the child. Speaking to ANI, Mohammad Ashfaq who broke his ‘roza’ said, ‘I thought saving a life is more important, knowing that she is daughter of a security personnel motivated me more.’…


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Fearless Sikh cop saves Muslim boy from mob attack by VHP workers (May 25, Indian Express)

Over the past couple of years, multiple incidents of ‘moral policing’ have been reported across India. Whether it was the Kolkata metro episode where a couple was beaten up by elderly men for “standing close to each other” or when a woman in Assam was assaulted by a group of men when she was accompanying a male friend. Yet again, an incident has come to light where Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workers allegedly beat up two Muslim youths after they spotted them with a Hindu girl.

The incident took place in the premises of the Garjiya temple at Ramnagar town, Uttarakhand. However, matters escalated when some VHP workers shut the main gate of the temple to prevent people from entering. When they were questioned by sub-inspector Gagan Deep, they informed that the couples visiting the area were indulging in unethical behaviour and hurting religious sentiments. To prove their point, they went to the Kosi river where they spotted a Hindu girl with the two Muslim youth and started beating the boys.

However, a Sikh cop soon came to their rescue. He not only stopped the violence, but also prevented the workers from attacking the youth. A video of the incident was posted on social media and since then, it has created quite a buzz.…



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JNU Academic Council okays course on ‘Islamic Terrorism’ (May 18, 2018, New Indian Express)

The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Academic Council “passed” a proposal to set up a Centre for National Security Studies under which there would be a course on “Islamic Terrorism”, a professor who attended its meeting today said.

Many members of the Academic Council opposed the proposal to impart courses on ‘Islamic Terrorism’, arguing that it was communal in nature, Sudhir K Suthar, a special invitee to the 145th meeting of the Council, said.

“Many members opposed the topic ‘Islamic Terrorism’ so as to not club any religion with terrorism, and suggested to call the phenomenon ‘religious terrorism’,” Suthar, who is an office-bearer of the JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA), told PTI.…



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MP: Bajrang Dal Cadres Get Secret Arms Training To ‘Tackle Anti-National, Love Jihad Elements’ (May 27, 2018, Outlook)

The Bajrang Dal organised an arms training camp this month, in Bawara of Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh where its workers were secretly trained to use arms and other weapons in the name of protecting Hindus.

Apparently, the camp was organised from May 3 to May 11, where the selected members from 32 districts were given the training to use rifles, swords, and lathis to ‘tackle anti-national, love jihad elements.’

The Hindu outfit was also given special training in shooting, karate, climbing the tree with rope or towel, high jumping etc in this 24-hour camp.…



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Kairana bypoll: Yogi Adityanath raises Muzaffarnagar riots, Jinnah portrait (May 25, 2018, Indian Express)

Four days before the bypoll in Kairana Lok Sabha constituency, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday raised the issue of Muzaffarnagar riots and appealed to people not to give “anti-social” elements the opportunity to trigger riots in western Uttar Pradesh.

Thrice in his speech, Adityanath named Jat youths Sachin and Gaurav, who were allegedly lynched in Kawaal village of Muzaffarnagar in 2013 after they accused Shahnawaz Qureshi for harassing their relative and allegedly killed him. That incident had led to a mahapanchayat meet that was followed by riots between Jats and Muslims in western Uttar Pradesh.…

In an apparent reference to the controversy over a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Aligarh Muslim University, Adityanath said, “Koi keh raha ki ganna ya Jinnah. Main keh sakta hun ki ganna hamara mudda hai lekin Jinnah ki tasvir bhi nahi lagne denge hum log (some people are chanting – sugar cane or Jinnah. I can say, sugarcane is an issue for us but we will also not allow Jinnah’s portrait).”…



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ISI ‘agent’ from Uttarakhand held for spying (May 25, 2018, The Tribune)

In a joint operation, the Uttarakhand Police and Uttar Pradesh’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested a man from Pithoragarh on Wednesday for allegedly acting as an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agent and passing on sensitive information to the Pakistan spy agency.

Ramesh Singh Kanyal, who runs a PDS shop in Didihat, was produced before a magistrate in Pithoragarh and taken by the ATS on transit remand to Lucknow for questioning. Sources said Kanyal worked as a cook in the Indian High Commission in Pakistan between 2015 and 2017 and “came in contact with ISI agents” during his stay.

He returned in 2017 and settled down at Balmara village (on the Nepal border) where he opened a shop under the Public Distribution System.… Police officials claimed Kanyal was being paid in dollars by his Pakistani handlers. “He apparently got the job in the High Commission on the recommendation of his brother, who is in the Army,” said Kumar.



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Government Not Doing Enough to Protect Minorities: Archbishop of Mumbai (May 24, 2018, The Wire)

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Cardinal Oswald Gracias said on Wednesday that there is “growing anxiety” among minority communities “because the government is not acting enough” to protect them.

In an interview with the Indian Express, Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai who recently took over as the president of CBCI, also said that there have been “more attempts” to polarise society in the last four years.

Archbishop Gracias’s statements closely follow the controversial letter of Archbishop of Delhi Archdiocese, Anil Joseph Couto, in which he called upon the churches based in Delhi to start a year-long prayer campaign, ahead of the 2019 general elections.…



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Satna lynching: Police slap case on victims for allegedly killing cattle (May 23, National Herald)

In Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district, where a man beaten to death and another has been critically injured for allegedly killing cattle on Friday night, the city police registered an FIR against the deceased and the injured man under section 4/10, 8/11 of Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Cattle Prevention Act 1959 and 4/9 of Madhya Pradesh Cow Slaughter Ban Act, 2004.

The Satna police have registered two cases in connection with the incident. The first case was filed against the victims, charging them with cow slaughter. Later, a case of murder and attempt to murder was filed against the four alleged assaulters.

The case against Shiraj Khan (wrongly identified as Riyaz Khan in police records and news reports) and his friend Shakeel, 38, was registered without conducting a forensic test but upon verbal confirmation from a veterinary doctor, chief medical and health officer while the superintendent of police (Satna) Rajesh Hingankar has claimed that the case was registered after conducting proper forensic test.…



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Top Karnataka Media Group, Hindutva Advertiser Promised ‘Editorial Support’ (May 28, 2018, The Wire)

The second part of Cobrapost’s investigation, ‘Operation 136’, released on YouTube on Friday, highlights the manner in which the line between advertising, advertorials (euphemistically called ‘brand promotion’) and paid news has been blurred with the management side of many national and regional media organisations promising clients with deep pockets assurances of favourable news coverage too.

At some media houses, Cobrapost’s undercover reporter – who posed as a representative of an unnamed ‘sangathan’, or organisation, and sought to buy time and space to promote what he said was a Hindutva agenda – encountered executives who openly boasted about their political preferences, affiliations and influence.

In surreptitiously recorded video conversations with the influential Bengaluru-based news channel Suvarna and its sister publication Kannada Prabha, a senior management representative boasts of their owner, Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s affiliations to the ruling party, describing him as “a Hindutva guy”.…



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Jharkhand: mob attacks Muslims at the time of iftar; forced them to flee (May 28, 2018, Siasat)

A mob attacked Muslim houses around Iftar (breaking of fast) in the evening and assaulted several people including women in Koderma district of Jharkhand on Friday night. As a result, around 20 Muslim families were forced to flee their homes in the night.

The mob also vandalised the masjid and assaulted the Muslims who were offering Maghrib prayer there. The incident took place around 6:30 PM on Friday in the Kolgarma village under Koderma police station.

A similar incident had occurred in April last year as well. For the past couple of years, a group of local Hindus has been opposing construction of a masjid in the village. The mob reportedly had been pressurizing the Muslims to withdraw their police complaints over the previous attack. Since the Muslims lodged the complaint last year, they have been facing a boycott. They are not allowed to purchase anything from the village shops and to use even public well.…



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On Video, Dalit Man Tied Up, Flogged In Gujarat. He Died (May 21, 2018, NDTV)

A Dalit man, bound by ropes around his waist, is beaten mercilessly with rods while he cries out in pain, in a video clip allegedly from Gujarat’s Rajkot. The man died after the savage beating on the orders of an auto-parts factory owner, according to a police complaint. His wife was allegedly beaten up too.

The man, identified as Mukesh Vaniya, winces and screams as he is flogged by two men in the disturbing footage tweeted this morning by Gujarat lawmaker Jignesh Mevani.

“Mr Mukesh Vaniya belonging to a scheduled caste was miserably thrashed and murdered by factory owners in Rajkot and his wife was brutally beaten up,” he tweeted with the hashtag #GujaratIsNot Safe4Dalits. Five people, including the factory owner, have been arrested on charges of murder and under the law on atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.…



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Opinions and Editorials

4 years of Modi: Minorities have become second-class citizens – By Harsh Mander (May 26, 2018, National Herald)

India, as we know it, is fast being unmade, with hatred and bigotry becoming the new normal. Hate-mongering led powerfully and charismatically from the top – a kind of ‘command bigotry’ – creates an enabling environment for people to freely and publicly articulate their bigotry and act out their hate.

…in Narendra Modi’s India today, Muslim and Christian people are at the risk of being reduced to second class citizens. Everywhere – on the streets, in workplaces, in living rooms, in neighbourhoods, in television studios and on the internet – this permissive environment for hate speech and mob violence labels and targets not just Muslims, but also Dalits, Adivasis, Christians, women, people of colour, ethnic minorities from India’s northeast and liberals.

A fearsome climate of everyday, mostly unspoken, dread has been mounted by the reckless stoking of embers of recurrent, divisive and considered provocative hate-speech, threats, incitement and assaults. These together seek to coerce, by intimidation, a single way of living on all Indians – a homogenised faith system and set of cultural practices, with violent prohibitions on what you can eat, what you can wear, what work you can do, who you can love and what you can think.…



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What Happens When Those in Power Usurp Constitutional Values? – By Sandeep Pandey (May 21, 2018, The Wire)

The former director general of the Border Security Force and former director general of police of Uttar Pradesh and Assam, Prakash Singh, has argued in a recent Indian Express article that describing the Kathua and Unnao rape incidents as the “darkest hour” since independence – as claimed by 49 prominent retired bureaucrats, including N.C. Saxena, E.A.S. Sarma, Harsh Mander, Wajahat Habibullah and Aruna Roy in a protest letter written to the prime minister – is an overstatement.…

Though he calls Kathua and Unnao “barbaric”, his article essentially seeks to play down the two incidents. This is unfortunate because these were not simply “two incidents of rape”, as he puts it, but crimes in which the government sided with the accused.… But what is most appalling about the Kathua incident is that in a rally in support of special police officer Deepak Khajuria – one of the accused in rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomad girl – the tricolour was used by members of a right-wing Hindu group and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office bearers who participated in it. Such things have not occurred in the country before. The politics of nationalism is being used either to conduct crimes or to defend criminals. Consider the kind of incidents which have started taking place with the rise of the BJP.…

Prakash Singh should have stood up against this usurpation of our constitutional values and should have added his name to the former bureaucrats who have spoken out, rather than appearing to take the side of forces which he himself believes to be divisive.… It is because of people like him, who hold responsible positions in the government, that the incidents described above take place and the culprits are not restrained. We hope that he will review his position.



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What a governor must do – By Kapil Sibal (May 22, 2018, Indian Express)

Had the governor played by the rules, the nation would have been saved an unsavoury spectacle. There was no doubt that the post-poll Congress-JD(S) alliance had the numbers. The BJP, with only 104, could not have manufactured a majority except through dubious means. In such situations, it is important for constitutional authorities to act in accordance with their oath of office and preserve and protect the Constitution rather than act in a blatantly partisan manner.

Let us examine the fall-out of the decision of the governor transgressing constitutional norms. First, governors are consistently being seen as the long arm of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah axis, whether in Goa, Manipur or Meghalaya and earlier in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Governors are playing to the tune of the Pied Piper in New Delhi. The institution of governor has become suspect.

Second and perhaps more serious is the impact of such existential playouts on the common man. People understand the nature of electoral politics. But when they see institutions being consistently devalued, they start losing faith not only in the institutions and those who occupy them, but also in democracy. That is truly worrisome.…



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Archbishop’s Message – By Abdul Khaliq (May 26, Indian Express)

…The gentle archbishop of Delhi has recently been in the eye of a storm provoked by his letter to all parish priests in the Capital exhorting them to start a prayer campaign for the country and political leaders ahead of the 2019 elections. The prayer pleads for “all castes and creeds, all denominations and persuasions to live in harmony and peace far away from hatred and violence”. This is an unexceptionable invocation that the country would hope is answered. What has raised hackles is his allusion to “the turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation”.

KJ Alphons, the Christian minister in the Union Cabinet, raised the age-old debate about the role of religious leaders and religion in politics when he stated that “‘godmen’ should stay away from politics”. Considering that in the last two months politicians of all hues have been genuflecting before religious leaders seeking their support, the minister’s squeamishness smacks of hypocrisy. May I remind him that Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees every citizen, including “godmen”, freedom of speech and expression.… The archbishop’s appeal did not infringe any of the restrictions mentioned in Article 19.…

It is jejune to believe that religious leaders should not weigh in on political matters, especially when people have more faith in them than in politicians.… The reality is that the right-wing bully boys have created a toxic environment of fear and violence that is deeply troubling the Muslims and Christians. Rather than cavil at the impertinence of a cleric raising the concerns of minorities, we should address this grievous faultline in our society that threatens us all.



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Vigilantism is back – By T.K. Rajalakshmi (Jun 8, 2018, Frontline)

In the third week of April, in Haryana’s Gurugram district, members of right-wing groups claiming to represent the majority community, disrupted a namaz congregation in an open space, abused those offering prayers, and forced them to disperse. The State government responded to the incident by saying that the minority community should offer Friday prayers in places specifically designated by the administration.

The directive, endorsed by even the Chief Minister, did not follow any objective assessment of the situation and simply capitulated to the demands made by the right-wing groups. It did not, however, come as a surprise, given the attacks on minorities ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed power in the State. Haryana has been among the States leading in incidents of vigilantism in the name of cattle protection.…

The Chief Minister’s statements have only reinforced the biases against particular communities. By not taking a hard line against the self-appointed custodians of public order, the BJP-led government in Haryana has put in doubt its own commitment to impartial governance.



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Tuticorin massacre – Editorial (May 25, 2018, The Tribune)

The controversial Sterlite Copper at Thoothukudi or Tuticorin has a history of public protests by locals for decades. Locals fear that the gigantic four lakh metric tonne capacity smelter releases harmful pollutants that are afflicting them with breathing problems and even cancer. The smelter, owned by the Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Group, was temporarily shut down earlier in 2013 amidst similar accusations. But these were not upheld by the court.

However, Tamil Nadu CM EK Palaniswami cannot dismiss the concerns without proper examination of the issue. If he had reacted to the volatile situation earlier, lives of more than a dozen innocent citizens would not have been lost.

Available photographs show instead of taking crowd dispersal measures, the state police shot at agitators like snipers, which the people have construed as target killings. Apparently, the four activists shot at on that fateful day were leading lights of the ongoing anti-Sterlite protests. Their killings should be probed given that they were leading an agitation that had hindered the company’s plans to double its production capacity.…



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