IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 2nd, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Bajrang Dal activist held in Mumbai for threatening meat seller, trying to extort 1 lakh (Jun 25, 2018, Hindustan Times)

A Bajrang Dal activist was arrested on Saturday trying to extort ₹1 lakh from a meat shop owner in Mahim. The activist was arrested while accepting ₹10,000 from the complainant as the first instalment.

“On Saturday, a team of officers laid a trap where Sandeep Vaidya, the accused, was caught red-handed while accepting the first instalment,” said an officer from Mahim police station. According to the police, the accused, Vaidya, a Bajrang Dal activist, demanded ₹1 lakh from the complainant Sohail Qureshi, stating that he has been selling beef illegally at his shop.

Fearing for his life and his business, Qureshi approached the Mahim police and complained about Vaidya. The complainant, however, told the police that he was selling buffalo meat and sought the meat from Deonar slaughter house. “The meat I sell is permitted; nevertheless, Vaidya demanded money from me by threatening that he would inform the police,” said Qureshi.…



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Harsh Mander Resigns as Special Monitor, Cites NHRC Silence on Encounter Killings (Jun 25, 2018, The Wire)

Citing National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) “continued silence” on the issue of “encounter killings targeting minorities in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana” as well as on the report he had authored on the critical question of those declared as foreigners in Assam by the Office of the State Coordinator of National Registration (NRC), civil rights activist Harsh Mander has resigned from the post of NHRC special monitor.

In a letter to NHRC chairperson Justice (Retd.) H.L. Dattu, the former Indian Administrative Service officer who took to activism to work with the homeless, street children and survivors of mass violence and hunger, recalled how he had been invited “to act as a special monitor of the NHRC on the issues of minorities.”…

He also referred to how during his briefing about this role along with another rights activist Maja Daruwala, he was told that the NHRC would from time to time seek his services to look into matters concerning the rights of minorities and communal violence. However, Mander lamented that “ever since my appointment, the NHRC has not reached out to me even once on these issues.”…



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Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar murders: HC says probe not sincere; summons CBI, state officials (Jun 29, 2018, Indian Express)

Dissatisfied with the reports filed by the state’s Special Investigating Agency (SIT) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the murder cases of rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar, respectively, the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Joint director of CBI to be present before it on July 12.

Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013, in Pune while Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur and succumbed to his injuries on February 20. After the probe reports were submitted to the court in a sealed envelope, a division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati H Dangre said: “We are not satisfied with this report.”

Justice Dharmadhikari asked if the CBI and SIT were firm on their statement that they are coordinating with the Karnataka Police that is investigating the murder case of journalist Gauri Lankesh. The court added that the CBI and SIT were claiming that they were keeping a watch on certain ‘sansthas’, then how did the Karnataka authorities manage to make an arrest from Maharashtra? The court said: “We are surprised some of those accused of murdering the person (Lankesh) have been arrested from the state of Maharashtra.”…



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“Harassed” By Party Leader, BJP Madhya Pradesh Lawmaker Weeps In Assembly (Jun 26, 2018, NDTV)

A BJP lawmaker today broke down in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, claiming that she and her family were being harassed by a senior leader of her own party.

During the Zero Hour, Neelam Abhay Mishra stood up and said that she was being implicated in false cases by Rewa district police at the behest of a senior party leader, and sought security cover.

Ms Mishra, who represents Simaria seat in Rewa district, alleged that the superintendent of police was acting in a biased manner against her and her family at the behest of a powerful BJP leader.…



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Social media should stop playing judge, jury, executioner in row over passport officer harassing inter-faith couple (Jun 27, 2018, Dailyo.in)

For the past few days, newsrooms in India have been abuzz with the chatter of a Passport Seva Kendra officer allegedly harassing an inter-faith couple in Lucknow. Regional Passport officer Piyush Verma was accused of moral policing the woman applicant over her marital status. It was also alleged that the officer asked her husband to “convert” to Hinduism.

Once the applicant took to Twitter, that really set tongues wagging. Of course, such behaviour is not acceptable from any government official and calls for action. The outrage over the incident on social media whipped up a frenzy on TV and print news as well.…

The row took a new turn when Union minister Sushma Swaraj faced a volley of hate messages that accused the MEA of indulging in “appeasement” by acting on a complaint given by the couple. Many accused Swaraj of “punishing an honest officer” for doing his duty.… People on social media assume the role of the judge, jury and executioner at times. Although some campaigns in the past have managed to raise the right concerns, but that’s not true always.…



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In 41 trips to 52 countries in 4 years, PM Narendra Modi spent Rs 355 crore: RTI (Jun 28, 2018, New Indian Express)

In his 48 months as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi made 41 trips to over 50 countries, at a total cost of Rs 355 crore. He was abroad for a cumulative 165 days. This was revealed through replies to Right to Information (RTI) queries submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) by RTI activist Bhimappa Gadad, who shared these replies with The New Indian Express.

Of these 41 trips by PM Modi to 52 countries, the highest amount was spent on his nine-day tri-nation visit to France, Germany and Canada between April 9 and 15, 2015, which incurred expenses to the tune of Rs 31,25,78,000; and the least expensive trip was his very first one as Prime Minister, to Bhutan on June 15-16, 2014 at a cost of Rs 2,45,27,465.

Gadad, who filed the RTI petition seeking details about expenses on PM’s foreign trips,… is bitter about the PMO not providing information on domestic travels of the Prime Minister. “They have not furnished details of domestic visits and expenses for security provided during the visits. I did not ask for details of security measures. I just asked for the expenses, but they refused, saying the SPG security organisation, which takes care of PM security, is exempted from the purview of RTI,” he said.…



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After Housing Controversy, BJP Struggles with New Complaints of Corruption in West Bengal (Jun 27, 2018, The Wire)

Allegations of corruption are building up within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal, with party workers complaining of being duped by top district and state leaders who promised them distributorships of LPG (liquid petroleum gas) in exchange for bribes.

Some of the complaints are against state BJP leaders and officials who are allegedly close to oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) within the state are also believed to be involved.…

The Wire understands that over the last month, a number of BJP workers and party activists have approached West Bengal BJP president with complaints. In recent weeks, audio clippings – like the one Mondal recorded, which allegedly contain conversations between workers that have been cheated and senior BJP leaders in the state – have made their way into the public domain.…



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Plan to Install Laxman Statue Outside Lucknow’s Historic Mosque Triggers Row, Clerics Unhappy (Jun 30, 2018, News18.com)

Lucknow Nagar Nigam has decided to install a grand statue of Lord Laxman outside Teele Wali Masjid in the city, a move that may trigger another controversy in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh. The Islamic clerics believe that the statue would hinder congregational prayers outside the mosque.

The mosque was earlier in news after BJP stalwart Lal Ji Tandon’s book Ankaha Lucknow claimed that the centuries-old Teele Wali Masjid was actually ‘Laxman ka Teela’.

However, the area falls under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Lucknow Nagar Nigam would need an approval to install the statue. The municipal authorities are also facing an opposition from Muslim clerics, saying the people won’t be able to offer prayers in the vicinity of a statue.…



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ST Commission Tells Tribals to Fend for Themselves Instead of Approaching It (Jun 23, 2018, News Click)

Shrugging off of his responsibility as the chairperson of the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes, Nand Kumar Sai on June 22 said it is the responsibility of those raising the voice against the injustices meted out to tribals to make the oppressed class aware of their rights instead of approaching to the commission, which – according to him – has limited powers.

He told this to a delegation of the Delhi Solidarity Group – a forum that advocates social justice – which had gone to the commission seeking justice and independent judicial inquiry into the murder of Jharkhand-based ST community leader Suresh Oraon on June 7.

“You should approach the authorities and ministries concerned in the state as well as the Centre. It is good that people have faith in the Commission and therefore, they come to us. But you must know that we have limited powers.…



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Bihar sexual assault video: Teenage girl says she complained of rape but cops mentioned molestation in FIR (Jun 25, 2018, New Indian Express)

Yet another video clip of a teenage girl being molested by a group of men went viral in Bihar and one of the six accused was arrested, but the victim alleged on Monday that police brushed away the fact that she was raped by two of the men.

“Even though I told police officers that two of the six men seen in the video clip pulling me here and there raped me, the FIR mentioned only molestation. I want strong punishment like death sentence to those men,” said the 19-year-old victim in Bhabhua in Kaimur district.

She also said that the accused had been pressuring her family to agree to a compromise in the case and withdraw the charges. The accused, she said, are offering her family Rs 3 lakh to do so. “But I cannot do that. I want them punished,” said the girl, who is newly married and belongs to a Dalit community.…



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Opinions and Editorials

New danger of fascism in India: Public violence, often leading to lynching, is becoming random, spontaneous – By Battini Rao (Jun 27, 2018, Counterview)

The seven-day period from June 13 to June 20, 2018 saw four Muslim men lynched at Hapur (Uttar Pradesh) and at Godda and Ramgarh in Jharkhand. The last four years of BJP rule at center have seen steep rise in the numbers communally motivated lynching, with cow protection being the most common excuse. …

Since the political successes of BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is witnessing not only a degradation of institutions of democratic governance, but also degradation of public morals. The more people show acceptance of Modi-style aggressive bravado and blatant use of lies and abuse in public discourse, more they become insensitive to others; and then they also become more likely to turn into brutes at any opportunity of lynching. People of India need to be vigilant against the deadly embrace of communal fascist politics and a lynching culture.

There is a need for all Indians to stand up against any attempt at lynching and mass violence. Political parties and social organisations should make special efforts to prevent incidences of public violence. Mass campaigns, especially involving youth and students should be started against culture of violence. All ‘cow protection’ gangs involved in terrorizing and lynching citizens belonging to minority communities and Dalits should be banned. Cow protection laws which give a legal fig leaf to such gangs should be repealed all over India. Police and courts should take an unambiguous stand against lynching and perpetrators punished at the earliest.…



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Why Jaitley Needs to Study the Link Between RSS and Fascism – By Adhiraj Nayar (Jun 28, 2018, News Click)

In the second of a three-part series of his article ‘The Emergency Revisited’, Arun Jaitley has pointed out the similarities between Indira Gandhi and Adolf Hitler. Stating that the two “never abrogated the Constitution…[and] used a republican Constitution to transform democracy into dictatorship,”.… Supporting Arun Jaitley’s viewpoint, Prime Minister Narendra Modi re-tweeted him and asked people to read his blog post detailing this view.

While the BJP minister is making comparisons between Indira and Hitler, it is also necessary to shed some light on the relationship of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with Fascist Italy under the regime of Mussolini, and Nazi Germany under Hitler to find out how the Hindutva project took inspiration from them.

In 1940, MS Golwalkar said, “The RSS inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this great land.” In his article in The Indian Express, Dr. Shamsul Islam points out that the slogan of one flag, one leader and one ideology was directly borrowed from the programmes of the Nazi and Fascist parties of Europe.…



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With Eyes on 2019, BJP Is Shifting to a New and Sharper Polarisation – By Ajay Gudavarthy (Jun 25, 2018, The Wire)

As we move closer to the next general election, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be refashioning its strategy to gear up to the challenge of 2019 with a much-reduced credibility. For 2014, it employed a more Congress-style accommodative politics within the larger grid of a populist strategy, creating a narrative of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ – essentially to target the religious minorities and portray them as the outsiders.…

This was coupled with the credibility crisis facing the Congress. The party also had the advantage of Narendra Modi’s image, who at the time was seen as a decisive leader who could deliver dramatic results. Many of these advantages are now on the wane. Modi is no longer considered infallible, even if his abilities to deliver are suspect.

Congress – even if half-heartedly – is gaining momentum and finding a foothold in creating a narrative that can hold some interest. BJP realises it cannot repeat the magic figures in much of north India, and also perhaps in the west. The initial strategy was to compensate the loss with some compensation in the east, spreading to Bengal and other parts of the northeastern states. Similarly, BJP wished to spread its hold in the southern states too. Both of these strategies proved to be non-starters.…



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Human rights violations in India bring global scrutiny – By Zamir Awan (Jun 26, 2018, Asia Times)

India’s record on human rights has recently come under close scrutiny by humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On June 14, the OHCHR released its first-ever report on Kashmir, highlighting cases of extreme human-rights violations. The report was harshly criticized by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs despite substantial evidence of violence against the people of Kashmir.

India said the report was biased and disrespectful of its sovereignty. But the UN report was an unprejudiced attempt to save human lives. If the OHCHR chose to focus on specific events in Kashmir, then the more frequent ones had a higher probability of being selected. This would imply that the report is not biased but shows that violations originating from India in Kashmir have become more frequent. India’s response to the report is unacceptable when human life is at stake.…



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Judicial Report on ‘Encounter’ of SIMI Undertrials Reads Like Police Press Note – By Rakesh Dixit (Jun 26, 2018, The Wire)

The report of the judicial probe into the police encounter of eight alleged SIMI operatives may as well be read as a Madhya Pradesh police press note of the shootout that took place on October 31, 2016 on a hillock near Bhopal.

For, the one-member justice S.K. Pandey commission of inquiry has relied entirely on the controversial police version of the jailbreak-cum-encounter to conclude “the use of force resulting in the death of the escaped persons was quite inevitable and quite reasonable under the prevailing circumstances.”

Not surprisingly, the policemen involved in the encounter – leaked footage from which was strongly suggestive of an extra-judicial execution – emerge blameless.…



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India’s the Safest Country in the World for Women. (If You Live Under a Rock) – By Nehmat Kaur (Jun 29, 2018, The Wire)

When the Reuters poll declared India the most dangerous country for women, I didn’t realise that it would cause such an uproarious denial. Some people have criticised it as wrongly labelling itself a ‘survey’ saying it is, at best, a poll. Well, the headline itself says ‘poll’ not ‘survey’. Rightly, its scope is small, and the 500-odd experts don’t necessarily have to be taken at their word. ‘India is not the most dangerous’ seems to be the argument many want to make. That India is at all dangerous seems besides the point.…

For me, the Reuters headline landed with a dull thump on top of an ever-growing pile of others. Every new headline about women in India prompts my brain to throw up a newsreel of the recent ones. Right off the top of my head, here are the things that have hit our eyes and ears in recent weeks.…

It doesn’t matter if India is really the most dangerous country for women. It does matter that too many women in India live in a constant state of fear. Because our newspapers tell us exactly how bad the worst possible situation is, they also tell us exactly how often that happens to women around us. And our government’s silence tells us that we’re on our own. So when we walk home alone at night and arrive in one piece – mentally and physically – we treat it as a miracle, as the chance to live a so-far charmed life for another day. We don’t need a poll to tell us this is not normal, nor is it okay.



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Book Review

Man With the White Beard

Author: Shah Alam Khan
Reviewed by: Harbans Mukhia
Available at: LiFi Publications Pvt. Ltd., 211, 2nd Floor, Gagandeep, Rajendra Place, New Delhi – 110008. INDIA 2018. https://www.amazon.in/
The Enduring Nature of Compassion (Jun 24, 2018, The Wire)

…The major episodes in the Man With the White Beard are the massacres of the most common, helpless Sikhs in Delhi in 1984, the Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and Christians in Kandhamal in Odisha in 2007 – for being Sikh, Muslim and Christian.

The killing was also the handiwork of their fellow citizens, neighbours, friends – also common and normally helpless people galvanised by the guarantee of impunity, for they carried out commissions assigned to them by the guardians of the law at the highest levels. They were also venting out hate and violence embedded deep in them perhaps without them being aware.

But these cruelties are not just abstract violence for Khan; these are minute, devastating images where individual human beings, with names and identities, are flaunting the short-lived power of death over other human beings also with names and identities often known to them. But violence is not able to crush the softer emotions embedded in us; compassion for one.…