IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 9th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Union Minister Jayant Sinha garlands Ramgarh lynching convicts after release on bail (Jul 8, 2018, DNA India)

…Union Minister Jayant Sinha on Friday felicitated eight men convicted for killing a meat trader in Jharkhand last year. In a picture that has gone viral, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation is seen garlanding the convicts in the Ramgarh lynching case in Jharkhand at his residence on the outskirts of Hazaribagh.…

In March this year, a fast track court convicted 11 people for lynching. However, last week, Jharkhand High Court suspended the life sentence of eight persons, including a BJP functionary. After getting bail, the convicts walked out of the Jai Prakash Narain Central Jail and headed straight to Sinha’s residence.

Jharkhand’s leader of opposition Hemant Soren, tagging the minister’s alma mater, the prestigious Harvard University said, “This is truly despicable.” “@Harvard Your alumnus @jayantsinha felicitating the accused in cow related lynching death in India. Is this what @Harvard stands for?,” Soren tweeted.…



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RSS Talks About Mahatma Gandhi, But Follows Nathuram Godse: Rahul Gandhi (Jul 5, 2018, NDTV)

RSS leaders talk about Mahatma Gandhi but follow Nathuram Godse, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today told party workers here as he accused the Hindutva organisation of trying to distort history.…

The Congress chief also hit out at the “tall promises” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming the much talked about bullet train might not materialise at all.…

The Congress chief,… alleged big businessmen were benefitting because of the ruling BJP’s policies while the middle class and poorer sections were struggling.… He (Modi) snatched money from your pockets through GST and demonetisation and gave it away to Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, the Congress president said continuing his tirade. Employment generation had also been hit adversely, he added.…



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Former VC, Staunch Critic of RSS, Being Targeted for Lucknow University Violence (Jul 7, 2018, The Wire)

The Lucknow University administration and the Uttar Pradesh police have chosen to blame a 75-year-old former vice-chancellor of the varsity, Roop Rekha Verma, for the violence that occurred earlier this week. On July 4, students allegedly attacked the current vice-chancellor, S.P. Singh, amidst an ongoing protest by students who have been denied admission by the university.

Verma is known to be a staunch critic of the religious Right and Singh is known to have close ties with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The university administration has ordered a probe into the alleged role played by Verma, and after the high court took suo moto cognisance of the violence, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) told the court that Verma encouraged the agitating students to resort to violence.

Verma has denied her role in the violence, stating that she was in fact not even present when it took place. “I was many miles away. Not present at the protest site at all when the violence took place,” said Verma. She did, however, go and lend her support to the protesting students two days prior to the incident. “When I learnt that students with good academic records are being denied admission, I went and supported their protest. I sat with them at their dharna. But that was two days before the violence took place. And in no way, did I or anyone else at the protest encourage violence,” she said.…



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Madhya Pradesh govt seeks ‘correction’of NCERT chapter on BJP, Godhra riots, PM Modi (Jul 5, 2018, Hindustan Times)

The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday wrote to the union human resource development (HRD) ministry, seeking that a chapter titled ‘Politics of Independent India’ in the Class 12 political science book of NCERT be “corrected”.

Among other things, the chapter describes the BJP as a party which promotes the agenda of Hindutva. The chapter also touches on the 2002 Godhra riots, and mentions then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous “follow the Raj Dharma” advice to the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government.… The chapter mentions that violence after the Godhra train burning incident left 1,100 people dead, and Vajpayee asked the Gujarat government to follow “Raj Dharma”.…

The opposition Congress said the BJP should “accept the truth”. “BJP should accept the truth regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi as mentioned in the chapter… Vajpayee had asked then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi to follow Raj Dharma,” state Congress spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said. “The BJP may get the chapter dropped, but it cannot erase people’s perception of it being communal,” he said.



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Elder Brother Booked for Forgery, Dr Kafeel Khan’s Family Cries ‘Political Vendetta’ (Jul 3, 2018, News18.com)

Even as BRD Hospital’s Dr Kafeel Khan cries political vendetta behind attacks on his family, the suspended doctor’s elder brother was on Tuesday booked for using a fake driving license to open an account in a national bank.

A case was registered against Adeel Khan and two others on charges of forgery. He had allegedly opened a bank account in Union Bank of India in 2009 using a fake driving license.

A day earlier, Adeel had said in a statement that there was a conspiracy by the local police to frame him and his family members in false cases.…



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BJP MP uses British ‘divide and rule’ strategy, calls Christians ‘angrez’ at Muslim gathering (Jul 9, 2018, Sabrang India)

BJP MP Gopal Shetty has stirred up a huge controversy with his ignorant and malicious remarks against India’s Christians. Addressing a gathering of Muslims in the north Mumbai suburb of Malad, Shetty is reported to have claimed that Christians were “angrez” (British) and did not play a role in India’s freedom struggle. Shetty’s remarks attracted scathing criticism from not just Christian community leaders but also civil society members and other political parties.

Though Shetty dramatically offered to resign subsequently, he didn’t actually tender his resignation. In fact, he continued to insist that his remarks were taken out of context! One wonders what the context was, given how comments against Christians were made at a gathering of Muslims. Is this a ploy to pit one minority against other? Isn’t ‘divide and rule’ a British strategy, Mr. Shetty?

Meanwhile, the Aam Admi Party that has filed a complaint with the State Minorities Commission and demanded Shetty’s resignation. In a strongly worded statement AAP’s Maharashtra Unit calls out the absence of facts in Shetty’s diatribe against Christians. The statement says, “This is both factually incorrect, provocative and a deliberate attempt to breach peace and harmony in society by using divisive politics.”…



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Islam Will Collapse If Prayer In Mosque Not Recognised, Top Court Told (Jul 7, 2018, NDTV)

Islam will collapse if prayer in mosque is not recognised as an integral part of the religion, the Supreme Court, which has resumed hearing the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case, was told on Friday.

Rajiv Dhavan, who is representing one of the original litigants in this case from the Muslim side, said the top court’s 1994 verdict had completely ignored the rights of Muslims to offer prayers in the Babri Masjid in its ruling that offering prayers in a mosque wasn’t an essential and integral part of Islam.

The top court had, in 1994, recognised the right of Hindus to worship at the temple and ordered status quo on installation of Ram idol in the disputed site. Mr Dhavan said this verdict had also taken a view that mosque need not be re-built at the same place. Muslim parties are trying to persuade the bench of three judges led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to refer the land dispaute to a larger bench.…



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To Make Modi Rally Successful, Vasundhara Govt Uses Beneficiaries’ Schemes Fund (Jul 9, 2018, News Click)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Jaipur on Saturday to address a gathering of around 2.5 lakh beneficiaries of 12 welfare schemes run by the BJP government at the Centre and in the State. It’s been a huge embarrassment for the PM and his party, as most of the beneficiaries were found complaining in some cases that they did not receive any fund or received a single instalment of these schemes.

And what was seen as big turn out in the rally held in Jaipur was nothing but the State governments effort to make it look “successful”. Media reports also suggest that seven crore were spent to bring the beneficiaries to attend the Modi’s rally, were largely taken from the funds for the schemes; the question then arises how heavy expense incurred by Vasundhara Raje’s BJP government used to ferry people of public money to his rally.…

All the collectors were asked to bring an average of 9,300 people from their districts across the state. According to the media reports, these 7 million rupees were taken from the funds of these schemes. It was said by the government representatives that it was a government event but everybody knows that elections are going to be held in the state and it can be said that this is BJP’s election campaign. The question here is whether it is appropriate to use the state machinery and the public’s money in such a way as to propagate the party?…



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2012 Delhi gangrape case: SC upholds death penalty of three convicts, rejects review pleas (Jul 9, 2018, Indian Express)

The Supreme Court Monday upheld the death penalty imposed on three convicts, Mukesh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Kumar Gupta, in the 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder case. A bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan “dismissed” their review petitions, saying no ground has been made out in the petitions for reversing their conviction and sentence. The court noted that contentions in their review pleas were already gone into by the court in the past and they could not be allowed to “re-argue”.

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old paramedic student was gangraped inside a running bus in South Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She died of her injuries on December 29, 2012 at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. One of the accused, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail in March 2013 while another, a juvenile then, served time in a probation home.

Rejecting the review petition filed by Mukesh, the bench said that submissions by his counsel M L Sharma “are more or less the submissions which were advanced at the time of hearing of the appeal and this court had already considered the relevant submissions and dealt them in its judgment dated 05.05.2017. This court had cautiously gone into and revisited the entire evidences on record and after being fully satisfied had dismissed the appeal”.…



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Tension in ‘dispute-free’ Latur village: Dalits allege attack, boycott, Marathas say it’s a bid to get new homes (Jul 2, 2018, Indian Express)

Outside the Gram Panchayat office of Rudrawadi village in Maharashtra’s Latur district, four police constables are deployed round the clock and a police vehicle visits every two hours. There is visible tension between Maratha and Dalit communities of the village with a population of little more than 700.

An FIR says “suspicion of a love affair” between a Dalit boy and a Maratha girl sparked the dispute in the village, which has in the past won awards for being a Tantamukta Gaon (dispute-free village). While both communities, the Marathas and the Dalits belonging to Matang caste, agree to this, they have separate versions of what happened.

The FIR states that more than 20 people from Maratha community attacked the boy on May 9 and also assaulted those who went to rescue him. Nitin Shinde, son of village sarpanch Shalubai Shinde from the Dalit community, said, “After the attack on the boy over suspicion of a love affair, there were repeated attacks on us. We registered a police complaint but no one was arrested immediately.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Lynching And BJP: Hand In Hand – By Abdul Alim Jafri (Jul 7, 2018, News Click)

Even a casual glance at the numbers and details about lynchings in the country show the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s direct support to the murderers of Muslims ever since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.

On 8 October 2016, during the funeral of Akhlaq lynching accused Ravin Sisodia, the murderer’s body was draped in the tricolour and he was projected as a martyr by people of his native village, who were even joined by Union Minister Mahesh Sharma. If this was not a clear enough endorsement of the violence and terrorism unleashed in the name of cow under the Modi government, 15 of those accused of lynching Akhlaq in Dadri were given contractual jobs with NTPC Limited.

Most recently, Union Minister Jayant Sinha, who is the MP from Hazaribagh and the son of rebel BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, held an event at his residence where he welcomed with garlands and felicitated eight men convicted in the Alimuddin lynching case in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh after they were released on bail on 5 July.…



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For Whom The Bells Troll – By Apoorvanand (Jul 10, 2018, Indian Express)

BJP leader Ram Madhav (‘Trust your leader’, IE, July 6) asks his “social media activist” friends not to waste their time on Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj since she is one of their own. He also appeals to them not to let go the “regressive Muslim cleric”, who performed nikah between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man and “forced” the former to change her name.

It is not difficult to see that Ram Madhav’s concern is not the threat of violence; he only seems to want the target to be Muslims. He warns his co-travellers not to get distracted by a humanistic digression by Swaraj. Note that the online hate mongers are addressed as social media activists. This nationalism thrives on manufacturing antagonistic and incompatible Others, and then stoking hatred and violence against them.…

It is this hatred of the Other, stoked by the likes of Sushma Swaraj, which is now threatening to devour them. Her husband was asked to beat her up. He pleaded that since she was a faithful wife and a dutiful daughter-in-law, she should be spared this treatment. Does that imply that such violence could, however, be meted to “deviant” women?…



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The Emergency then and democracy now – By A L I Chougule (Jul 3, 2018, Free Press Journal)

…Observing June 26 as a ‘black day’, several BJP leaders targeted the Congress at events held across the country to highlight the Emergency’s excesses.… Expectedly, the Congress hit back with equally sharp criticism of the Modi government, equating Modi to Aurangzeb. It alleged that the prime minister was even crueller than the Mughal emperor as Modi has “enslaved democracy” in the country for the past 49 months with an “undeclared emergency”.…

The Emergency of 1975 and the violations of civil liberties and press freedom were all real. But its parallels can be drawn with the contemporary situation, which is marked by erosion of institutional independence and integrity, rising intolerance and increasing mob violence which stems from the ideological support of the ruling party.

The right-wing assaults on constitutional institution and individuals’ democratic rights are for real, though there is no Emergency in force in India today. While conventional opposition leaders and parties have the liberty to become more than conventional Opposition and there is also the rising wave of resistance to right-wing assaults on individual rights and institutions, it is also true that there are whiffs of Emergency sentiments in the air and the strains of the Emergency doctrine and pulsations of fear are quite obvious.…



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Disturbed Areas Act in Gujarat: A Tool to Discriminate Against Muslims – By Damayantee Dhar (Jun 26, 2018, The Wire)

Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia in a speech in 2014 at Bhavnagar, Gujarat, had suggested spitting on a Muslim man and throwing tomatoes at him. This, while attending to a complaint reportedly about a Muslim man who had bought a property in a ‘Hindu area’.

Evoking the Disturbed Area Act in his speech, Togadia had stated, “This is a long-time conspiracy that Muslims have been executing in cities and villages of India. How can we stop this? There are two ways – one, to impose Disturbed Areas Act everywhere, two – consult a lawyer, barge into a house, occupy it forcefully and hang the board of Bajrang Dal. We can handle a case later.”…

The Disturbed Areas Act was enacted in the year 1986 and replaced with a new Act in 1991. It empowers the government to declare riot-prone areas as ‘disturbed’. Property sale or transfer in areas where the Act has been imposed requires additional permission from the collector’s office affirming free consent.… However, for three decades, the implementation of the act has translated into a very different ground scenario. Evoking the Act to drive Muslims residents away from areas that have a mixed population is not uncommon in Gujarat.…



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One Year Of GST: Empowering The Centre – By Balveer Arora (Jul 2, 2018, Outlook)

The enactment of GST last year was initially touted as a success story for cooperative federalism, particularly because federalism and the rights of states were leitmotifs of PM Narendra Modi’s poll campaign. The mantle of carrying this idea forward fell on the Niti Aayog, which added competitive federalism to the matrix. It is becoming clear now that there are federal deficit in the way the GST has been conceptualised and operationalised, starting from how the GST Council has been constituted and decisions taken.

While the protracted negotiations preceding GST’s birth brought even the hesitant states on board, there remained serious reservations on its long-term impact on the autonomy of states in charting their own course of development. Repeated tinkering with rates and their multiplicity compounded the problem, making it a very unwieldy tax. States had to face the resentment of businesses, which found it difficult to comply with a complicated system heavily dependent on timely filings, had to hire experts to help them comply, and incurred higher costs.

The decision-making structure is weighted in favour of the Centre, which controls one-third of the votes. Since the Council does not take into account the different sizes and economic situations of the states, it is easy for the Centre to have its way, with a majority of smaller states under its control. The Centre, in effect, has a veto power.…



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Does BJP Rule in Madhya Pradesh Threaten the Well Being of Minors and Women? – By Shilpa Shaji (Jul 9, 2018, News Click)

As the shocking incidents of rapes against minors continue in Madhya Pradesh, the data available with The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that the recent rapes were not isolated cases in the state. During the last 15 years, the state witnessed a whopping 532 percent increase in cases of rape against children.

Among the latest incidents in the state, in Khajuraho, a 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped by three minor boys on the cusp of July 6 and 7. In yet another incident in Satna district, a four-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 23-year-old man who was known to her family members. Before that, on June 26, an eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped by two men in Mandsaur district who left her brutally injured.…

In 2003 assembly polls in the state, promising a responsive and accountable government, the then BJP regime had paved their way to form the government. Even though the “responsive” regime has been ruling the state since 2003, crimes against women have been rising since then. In 2004, as many as 15,203 cases of crimes committed against women had been registered in MP. Over a decade later, in 2016, 26,604 cases were registered to constitute 7.8 percent of the total cases across the country. The records show that the attacks against minors and women have only increased under the BJP regime since it came to power in 2003.



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Book Review

Everyday Communalism: Riots in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh

Author: Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar
Reviewed by: Shaikh Mujibur Rehman
Available at: Oxford University Press, World Trade Tower, 12th floor, C-1, Sector 16, Main DND Road, Rajnigandha Chowk, Noida – 201301 Uttar Pradesh, India. https://www.amazon.in/
Everyday Communalism: Riots in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh by Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar (Jun 29, 2018, Hindustan Times)

While communalism and the frequency of communal riots have grown, research on the subject seems to have lost its appeal. Hence, it is thrilling to see a book on the subject; particularly one that is empirically rooted and cannot be dismissed as ivory-tower scholarship. It is high time we recognize that communalism in India was not entirely a colonial gift, and that there are conscious and deliberate ways in which prejudices among Hindus and Muslims are allowed to exist and grow.

The central objective of this book is to explain why and how communalism has become widespread in Uttar Pradesh as reflected in frequent riots during the 2000s. Based on extensive field work in east and west UP, the authors explain why riots are no longer episodic, why communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims has become so elusive and the antagonism so violent, and how the social fabric and agrarian nature of the political economy have become vulnerable to the sustained assault of the Hindu Right’s long term ideological agenda that found theoretical justification during the 1930s.…

Outside the messy world of India’s electoral politics, the authors attempt to make us aware of the systematic communal campaign, the day-to-day narrative of demonization of Muslims by organizations of the Hindu Right in the creation of “institutionalized everyday communalism”. Pai and Kumar believe this is guided by the ambition to expand and consolidate the Hindu electoral base to build an enduring majoritarian regime with a scary agenda. The Hindu Right organizations, they argue, have attempted to create and sustain constant, low-key communal tension together with frequent, small, low-intensity incidents out of petty everyday issues that institutionalize communalism at the grassroots and keep the pot boiling. Put bluntly, there is an effort to make Indian society a blood thirsty one.…