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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 4th, 2017

by newsdigest on September 28, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Gurudwara opens doors to Muslims to offer namaz on Eid-ul-Adha (Sep 2, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Muslims and Sikhs on Saturday set an example of communal harmony in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath, 300 kilometres from here, when the local gurudwara offered Muslims space to offer Eid prayers. Muslims had gathered at a local ground in large numbers to offer prayers on the occasion of Eid-Ul-Zuha, but could not proceed due to incessant overnight rains. This is when Gurudwara Singh Sabha stepped in and welcomed them to the gurudwara.

“Be it Hindus, Sikhs or Muslims we have a strong bonding in Joshimath. The senior management from the Gurudwara sahib and the Muslim community held a short meeting on Saturday morning and made quick arrangements for the prayers,” Buta Singh, manager, Shri Hemkund Sahib gurudwara, told HT on phone. More than 500 Muslims offered Namaaz in the retiring hall of the gurdwara, he said.…

This is not the first time that Sikhs have offered space for Eid prayers. On August 20, 2012, the Muslims prayed at the same gurudwara. Joshimath is believed to be the last place in the state towards the China border where Muslims offer Namaaz. Beyond Joshimath lies Badrinath, one of four shrines of the Chardham pilgrimage of Hindus. “Though we keep hearing stories about growing hatred in the society, by Allah’s grace we never witnessed such negative things here,” said Rais Ahmad (50).…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/gurudwara-opens-doors-to-muslims-to-offer-namaz-on-eid-ul-adha/story-YOrYOevzJuhVobs2z6ptSM.html

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Probe said Purohit held ‘illegal’ meetings with radical Hindu groups (Aug 31, 2017, Indian Express)

Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the 2008 Malegaon blast case after nine years in prison, has repeatedly argued that he was the Army’s mole in radical Hindu organisations. This was also a key argument in his plea for bail. However, a 2011 inquiry report of the Directorate General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) had found his presence in several of the Hindutva group meetings to be “illegal”.

The DGMI probe, which began in October 2008, shortly after Purohit’s name cropped up in the 2008 Malegaon blast, revealed that beginning October 2007, Purohit used his “relaxed work environment” at the Army Education Corps (AEC) Training College to hold meetings and negotiations with prominent religious leaders and arms dealers. Most of these meetings – with people such as Swami Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, then RSS chief K S Sudarshan, VHP chief Praveen Togadia, Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and an arms dealer from Bangladesh with radical Hindutva links – were illegal, the probe held.

Among his various records of absence from the AEC college, the DGMI report details one on December 24, 2007, when he attended a meeting organised by Swami Aseemanand in Pune. “The meeting was attended by Vilas Pawar of Sree Ram Sena (Karnataka), Pramod Muthalik of Hindustan Rashtriya Sena, Bharat Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai of Vivekanand Kendra (Gujarat) and Dr Seetharamaiah (Andhra Pradesh). Abhinav Bharat (the radical organisation founded by Purohit) was represented by Sudhkar Chaturvedi, Ajay Rahirkar and the officer,” the report said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lt-col-prasad-shrikant-purohit-malegaon-blast-probe-said-purohit-held-illegal-meetings-with-radical-hindu-groups-4821363/

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‘Qurbani’ Of Cow, Buffalo, Camel, Ox On Eid Ul-Adha To Invite Gangsters Act (Sep 2, 2017, NDTV)

In a strict order, local authorities warned that the stringent Gangsters Act would be invoked against those who sacrifice cow, buffalo, camel, or ox as ‘Qurbani’ during Bakrid today. “All police stations under Sambhal tehsil have been alerted to invoke the Gangsters Act against anyone sacrificing cow, buffalo, camel or ox on the occasion of Bakrid,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate Sambhal Rashid Khan said.

Till last year, animal sacrifice was carried out at government slaughterhouses but their closure has created a difficult situation in Uttar Pradesh and confusion prevailed among the Muslim community on the eve of Bakrid. Besides, the movable and immovable property of those involved in such a sacrifice will be impounded, he said.…

A person booked under the provision of Gangsters Act becomes part of a gang listed in police records. It entitles the police to keep track of those booked under the Act and issue summons to them for attendance at the local police station for questioning even if no fresh case is lodged against them.…

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bakra-eid-2017-qurbani-of-cow-buffalo-camel-ox-on-eid-ul-adha-to-invite-gangsters-act-1745129

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‘Cow sheds in BJP states silent slaughterhouses’ (Aug 24, 2017, Times of India)

BSP chief Mayawati said on Wednesday that if the BJP government cared to protect cows in sheds owned by government it won’t be seen as ‘saffron appeasement’. Referring to incidents of death of cows in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Mayawati said PM Narendra Modi did not even discuss the issue with the chief ministers of the two states when he met them recently. “Governments in BJP-ruled states should stop the cow sheds from becoming silent slaughterhouses,” she said.

Mayawati said the poor condition of “gau mata” was because of corruption in BJP-ruled states. She said though BJP made cow protection a political, communal and casteist issue, it did not bother to curtail cruelty against it.

Mayawati also accused the BJP of trying to make cow protection a political issue like Ram Mandir. The former UP chief minister referred to incidents of atrocities against Dalits on the pretext of cow protection and said the BJP has infused an atmosphere of fear and apprehension amongst the lower caste community.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/60203620.cms

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‘Who is next?’: Killing of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh sparks protests (Sep 6, 2017, Washington Post)

The killing of a prominent journalist and government critic outside her home in Bangalore prompted protests in major Indian cities Wednesday and a national uproar about the shrinking space for free speech in the world’s most populous democracy.

Gauri Lankesh, 55, was shot in the head and chest Tuesday on her doorstep by motorcycle-riding gunmen. Although police have not yet identified suspects or possible motives, Lankesh’s death is widely being attributed to her work as a journalist and activist.

“They want us to be intimidated,” said Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, former editor of the academic journal Economic and Political Weekly, speaking at the Press Club here. “I hope that a thousand Gauri Lankeshes will be born and will rise among us.”…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/who-is-next-killing-of-indian-journalist-gauri-lankesh-sparks-protests/2017/09/06/e0f2e6f8-9271-11e7-8482-8dc9a7af29f9_story.html

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Past Continuous: How Communal Political Campaigning Changed Post Gujarat 2002 (Aug 29, 2017, The Wire)

Fifteen years ago, almost to the date, for the first time, India witnessed an electoral campaign in which majoritarian pride and identity were harnessed by a political party and its principal leaders brazenly. Religion or the R-factor played a role in elections from the first general polls in 1952.… But Narendra Modi’s first electoral campaign in 2002 changed all that: for the first time the leader of a party and its chief campaigner revelled in mounting a campaign inlaid with hate against Muslims.

While the foreign hand had been previously mentioned by Indira, Modi campaigned that a direct link existed between Gujarati Muslims, Pervez (Mian) Musharraf, Pakistan and terrorists. It must be recalled that the election was held not just in the backdrop of the aftermath of the Godhra riots but also in the wake of 9/11, the heinous assaults on the state assembly in Srinagar and the attack on parliament.

The 2002 Gujarat assembly election that is instrumental in the making of Modi, remains a decisive milestone in the pathway of communalising electoral campaigns in India. While earlier, leaders resorted to using symbolism – for instance visiting a temple, a mosque, a dargah or a gurudwara – all pretensions were dropped by Modi and he resorted to the use of direct language, at times derogatory.…

https://thewire.in/171971/past-continuous-modi-communal-political-campaign-gujarat- 2002/

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BJP Has Most Number Of MPs, MLAs With Cases Of Crime Against Women, Followed By Shiv Sena (Aug 31, 2017, India Times)

In the run up to the 2014 general elections on of the issues the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaigned on the most is women’s safety and increasing crimes against women under the UPA rule. But now it turns out the BJP has the most number of elected representatives with cases related to crimes against women.

According to a study by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-government organisation working for electoral reforms, as many as 51 MPs and MLAs have declared cases of crime against women, including of alleged rape and abduction. Out of 51, 48 are Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and three are Members of Parliament (MPs).

BJP has the highest number of MPs and MLAs (14), followed by the Shiv Sena (7) and the All India Trinamool Congress (6) who have declared cases related to crime against women.… Out of the analysed 1,581 (33%) MPs and MLAs with declared criminal cases, 51 have declared cases related to crimes against women, it said. Besides, 334 candidates analysed who had declared cases related to crime against women were given tickets by recognised political parties, ADR said.

http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/bjp-has-most-number-of-mps-mlas-with-cases-of- crime-against-women-followed-by-shiv-sena-328843.html

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Taj Mahal is Muslim tomb not Hindu temple, Indian court told (Aug 30, 2017, The Guardian)

A court in India has heard testimony from government archaeologists that the Taj Mahal is a Muslim mausoleum built by a Mughal emperor to honour his dead wife – delivering an official riposte to claims it is a Hindu temple.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which protects monuments of national importance, had been ordered to give its view in response to a petition filed by six lawyers stating that the Unesco world heritage site in the city of Agra had originally been a temple called Tejo Mahalaya dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva.

The petition also demanded that Hindus be allowed to worship in it. Only Muslims are permitted to offer prayers at the 17th-century monument.…

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/30/taj-mahal-muslim-tomb-not-hindu-temple- indian-court-told

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Raghuram Rajan breaks silence, says neither he nor RBI under him wanted demonetisation (Sep 4, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has revealed that he did not favour demonetisation as he felt the short term economic costs associated with such a disruptive decision would outweigh any longer term benefits from it.

Rajan makes the disclosure in his latest book – I do what I do – which is a compilation of speeches he delivered on a wide range of issues as the RBI governor. Although he maintains the book is not a tell-all, the short introductions and postscripts accompanying the pieces offer fascinating insights into his uneasy relationship and differences with the present government.

“At no point during my term was the RBI asked to make a decision on demonetisation,” Rajan has said, putting to rest speculation that preparations for scrapping high-value banknotes got underway many months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the surprise announcement on November 8.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/raghuram-rajan-breaks-silence-says-he-wasn- t-on-board-for-demonetisation/story-6rXr8VWBpFd4w37NySulEN.html

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Not One But Several US Biometric Companies Involved In Aadhaar, Govt Evasive, SC Prepares for Verdict (Aug 27, 2017, The Citizen)

…As per rulings of the court it is established that no Central or State Government can coerce citizens to access subsidies by sacrificing their private data by enrolling for UID/Aadhaar given the fact that they have a right to subsidy. No Government has the constitutional power to make right to have rights condition precedent.

After the trashing of UID/Aadhaar by Lok Sabha’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and later by Rajya Sabha, the Constitution Bench of the Court too has trashed government’s position after seeing through the coercive and unconstitutional nature of UID/Aadhaar number project by deciding the matter of right to privacy raised by Attorney General amidst hearing on some 20 cases challenging it.

Subsequent to the verdict of 9-Judge Bench, another bench will decide the constitutionality UID/Aadhaar and the passage of Aadhaar Act as Money Bill amidst gnawing national security concerns because of involvement of foreign governments and their companies which are eyeing rich assets of personal sensitive information of present and future Indians for all times to come.

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/1/11572/Not-One-But-Several-US-Biometric-Companies-Involved-In-Aadhaar-Govt-Evasive-SC-Prepares-for-Verdict

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Anti-conversion laws will not help India (Aug 15, 2017, Washington Times)

Early this month, the state government in Jharkhand, northern India, introduced a new Freedom of Religion Bill. At first glance, the name of this bill suggests an important step forward in human rights for India, but it’s actually the opposite. The bill is a cleverly disguised anti-conversion law, and it’s not the first to be introduced in the country.

Despite the fact that the Indian constitution clearly defines and protects the freedom to practice and propagate religion, radical members of both national parties – Congress and the BJP – have already managed to pass anti-conversion laws in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Arunachal Pradesh.

When the new bill passes in Jharkhand – a draft has already been approved by the Cabinet – anyone found guilty of the vague crime of converting people could be sentenced to a minimum three years in jail.…

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/15/india-anti-conversion-laws-are-outrageous/

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Opinions and Editorials

My spineless country murdered Gauri Lankesh in cold blood – By Rana Ayyub (Sep 6, 2017, Dailyo.in)

The last time I had a detailed conversation with Gauri Lankesh, we both laughed as she tried to get a grip over the pronunciation of “nincompoop”. It was the term she used to describe those who threatened her with dire consequences. Gauri was getting Gujarat Files – my book on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s roles in the 2002 Gujarat carnage – translated into Kannada, to be published by her in house Lankesh Publication.

She was the first person to reach out to me in June 2016 after I self-published the book. Gauri’s subsequent arrest in a defamation case and the routine threats she encountered from various organisations ensured that the publication got delayed.

I suggested to her that I could ask another publication take over because she was embroiled in a legal suit. But she simply laughed and said, “Darling, I am stronger than these nincompoops.” Only two days ago, I wrote an emotional Facebook post about being under constant attack from the Right, as skewed leaks by those in power targeted me during my recent trip to Canada.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/gauri-lankesh-hindutva-critic-murder-journalist-deaths-rana-ayyub-writes/story/1/19368.html

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Dera violence: How BJP funded & promoted the monster called Ram Rahim Singh – By Aditya Menon, Anurag Dey (Aug 26, 2017, Catch News)

Large scale violence broke out in parts of Haryana and Punjab soon after a CBI court in Panchkula convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape. Over 30 people had been killed in Haryana in the violence at the time of writing this story.

The BJP government in Haryana stands accused of gross administrative failure. On the eve of the verdict, it allowed lakhs of Dera supporters, or Premis as they are called, to gather at Panchkula. Dera supporters also mobilised themselves at Sirsa, the Dera’s bastion.

The administrative failure of the Manohar Lal Khattar government stems from its political compulsions. The BJP in Haryana enjoys close ties with Dera Sacha Sauda and this seems to have impaired it from cracking down on Dera goons on time. Nothing embodies this failure more than Haryana education minister Ram Bilas Sharma’s comment that the Section 144 imposed in Panchkula “did not apply to Dera supporters”.… The Modi government also used Ram Rahim to push its Swachh Bharat initiative.…

http://www.catchnews.com/politics-news/dera-violence-how-bjp-funded-promoted-the-monster-called-ram-rahim-78829.html

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Tantric Rites In The Bed – By G.C. Shekhar (Sep 11, 2017, Outlook)

Say “Sex and the Swamiji” in Tamil Nadu and the first name that pops up is that of Nithyananda. A video footage of Nithi (nickname given by the Tamil media) gallivanting on the bed with a Tamil actress continues to be one of the most watched footages on YouTube even six years after it was first aired on television.

This tall, dusky young man – originally A. Rajasekharan, from the pilgrim town of Thiruvannamalai – could spellbind audiences with his fluent oratory on Hindu spirituality. It stayed, till he got undone by a hidden video camera. That plot by two of his own disillusioned followers stripped him of his halo and exposed him as a sexual pervert.

There were others too fed up with Nithyananda’s wayward and pretentious ways. Like, a mechanical engineer who used to work in the US and surrendered at the feet of Nithyananda in search of spiritual awakening. Now 42, she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the swami. The godman brainwashed her into believing that she was only doing “guru seva” by subjecting herself to his carnal pleasures.…

https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/tantric-rites-in-the-bed/299261

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Implications for Aadhaar – By Usha Ramanathan (Sep 15, 2017, Frontline)

The nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court has propelled the privacy right to a place that is far higher than it was before this decision. In 2012, when the Justice A.P. Shah Committee (of which I was a member) was considering the contours of the right, it was a right that had been developing incrementally, case by case, and slowly acquiring an identity in fundamental rights jurisprudence.

Some even considered it a “weak” right. That is now a thing of the past. While the detailing of the right will continue to happen as situations emerge where the right is asserted, the status of the right has been definitively pronounced by the nine-judge bench. The right to privacy is now a part of the rights and freedoms that are in the “Fundamental Rights” Chapter of the Constitution. It is closely allied to dignity. It is now “an intrinsic part of the right to life and liberty”.

This happened because of the doubts that the Attorney General cast on the very existence of the right.Since 2012 and 2013, several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) Aadhaar project on a range of grounds. It was a project that had been started without a feasibility report, with no law, no clarity on what it was and how it would be used, and what it meant for citizens’ rights and for state power over people. Biometrics were untested and UIDAI documents testified to this. There were fears that the poor would get excluded from services to which they were entitled: an apprehension that has come to pass and which academics, activists and journalists have documented.…

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/implications-for-aadhaar/article9834539.ece

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Love jihad bogey: Hadiya committed no crime. Why has she been in confinement for a year now? – By Shoaib Daniyal & Sruthisagar Yamunan (Aug 31, 2017, Scroll.in)

On August 22, the Supreme Court of India struck a significant blow for women’s rights. The court scrapped the practice of instant triple talaq, which gave Muslim men arbitrary powers to end a marriage. The move bought India in line with much of the rest of the world, where most Muslim legal systems have already barred the practice.

It is therefore a curious irony that the same court had also struck a blow against women’s rights just a week before the triple talaq judgement. On August 16, the Supreme Court ordered the National Investigation Agency to inquire into the religious conversion and marriage of Hadiya, a 24-year old woman from Kerala. In this, it backed an earlier judgement of the Kerala High Court. While Hadiya has converted to Islam and then married of her own choice in 2016, both courts seemed to disregard her own thoughts on the matter, preferring instead to let her father decide for her.

Some media reports have presented this as a case of “love jihad”, the conspiracy theory that Muslim men woo Hindu women with the express purpose of pressuring them to convert them to Islam. This is a misrepresentation. Hadiya had converted to Islam long before her marriage. The main issue here is: does India believe an adult woman has a mind of her own?…

https://scroll.in/article/848958/love-jihad-bogey-hadiya-committed-no-crime-why-has-she-been-in-confinement-for-a-year-now

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Lessons From History on the Feasibility of RSS’s Politics – By Shankar Gopalakrishnan (Aug 31, 2017, The Wire)

With hate speech proliferating, people being beaten to death on the streets and the Hindu Right dominating Indian politics as never before, it is easy to believe that the ultimate goal of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other Hindutva organisations – a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ – is just around the corner. For those of us who don’t agree with them, this sounds like the start of a decades-long nightmare.

But this view is flawed, for the experiences of other countries provide strong grounds for believing that the Hindu Rashtra project is absurd, a political impossibility. The danger of Hindutva politics lies not in creating a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ but in the destruction it will wreak and the lives it will destroy during its dominance and in its aftermath. It is no less dangerous because of that, but it is dangerous in a different way than one might think.

Why is a Hindu Rashtra impossible? Believing that doesn’t require any great faith in India’s “inherent tolerance” or “strong institutions” (both of which seem to be collapsing by the day). Rather, consider that there is nothing particularly unusual, or Indian, about ‘Hindu Rashtra’ politics. The last century is littered with political movements built on hatred and majoritarianism, and Hindutva is itself rooted in early 20th century European ideas of what constitutes a “nation”. Looking at the experience of some of those movements can tell us a lot about the way Hindu Rashtra politics is likely to develop.…

https://thewire.in/172172/lessons-history-feasibility-rsss-politics/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 7th, 2017

by newsdigest on August 16, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Post Basirhat communal violence: In show of unity, Hindus, Muslims tie rakhis (Aug 8, 2017, Indian Express)

In a show of harmony, members of the Hindu and Muslim communities in Basirhat on Monday tied rakhis on each other, a month after the area was hit by communal violence. Violence had erupted between the two communities in Basirhat and Baduria areas of North-24 Parganas over a controversial Facebook post. In an effort to revive cordial ties, the Bangla Sanskriti Manch and Rights to Life Foundation jointly organised a Raksha Bandhan celebration at Basirhat Town Hall. Residents of Basirhat took part in the event, and lauded the effort to strengthen peace.

“It was totally an apolitical event here in which local people participated. Children danced on stage and tied rakhis on the wrists of people. They sang songs written by Rabindranath Tagore and Nazrul Islam on communal harmony. Later, they took out a rally in Basirhat and tied rakhis on local people,” Mizanur Rahaman, a participant in the event, told The Indian Express.

Another participant, retired banker Nirmal Ghosh, said the show of unity should be replicated in parts of the state which have witnessed communal tension in recent times. “The message was loud and clear. People are united here. Members of both communities delivered speeches on communal harmony and vowed to stand united. We all know the tension was intentionally created by some people. But people here want to rise above that, and want to continue this show of unity against all odds,” he said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/post-basirhat-communal-violence-in-show-of-unity-hindus-muslims-tie-rakhis-4786859/

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Aadhaar will be required for death certificates from October 1, plan to prevent identity fraud (Aug 4, 2017, Indian Express)

In a bid to prevent identity fraud, the Home Ministry on Friday made quoting one’s Aadhaar number necessary for the registration of death with effect from October 1. The government stated that it would be applicable for the residents of all states except Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Meghalaya, for which a date would be notified separately.

“An Applicant applying for death certificate is required to provide Aadhaar number or Enrolment ID Number (EID) of the deceased and other details as sought in the application for death certificate for the purpose of establishing the identity of the deceased,” the PIB release said.

Those not aware of the Aadhaar number or Enrolment ID Number (EID) of the deceased have to provide a certificate that the deceased person does not possess the number to the best of their knowledge. “Applicant’s Aadhaar number shall also be collected along with the Aadhaar number of the spouse or parents,” the release added.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/govt-makes-aadhaar-mandatory-for-registration-of-death-to-prevent-identity-fraud-4782225/

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Academics Denounce Attacks by RSS and Corporate Media (Aug 7, 2017, New Click)

Prominent academics have come down heavily on the barrage of attacks unleashed by the RSS and the corporate media against the State of Kerala in the recent days.

Renowned historian KN Ganesh said in a Facebook post that the coming months will witness a direct conflict between the RSS on the one hand and Democratic Kerala on the other. The reason for this is not murders or attacks on party offices.

“It was Kerala which strongly resisted the “gau raksha” propaganda of the RSS. Even the BJP leaders had to keep silent about the beef festivals organised across Kerala”, Ganesh said. “Kerala also stood up against the atrocities unleashed against Dalits and minorities by the RSS all across India.”…

http://en.southlive.in/southly/2017/08/06/would-jaitley-find-time-to-visit-victims-of-rss-terror-in-kerala

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Tolerance has to become an essential national virtue: M Hamid Ansari (Aug 6, 2017, Indian Express)

Tolerance has to become an essential national virtue to promote harmony transcending sectional diversities, Vice-President M Hamid Ansari on Sunday said. Tolerance is a pragmatic formula for the functioning of society without conflict between different religions and political ideologies, among others, he said speaking at the 25th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University here.

Yet, he said, tolerance alone is not a strong enough foundation for building an inclusive and pluralistic society and it must be coupled with “understanding and acceptance”. In this regard, he recalled Swami Vivekananda’s words, “We must, not only tolerate other religions, but positively embrace them, as truth is the basis of all religions.”

The Vice-President said the challenge today is to reiterate and rejuvenate secularism’s basic principles, including freedom of religion and tolerance. The challenge also is to emphasise that equality has to be substantive, that freedom of religion be re-infused with its collectivist dimensions, he added.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/tolerance-has-to-become-an-essential-national-virtue-m-hamid-ansari-4785100/

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Lafiqul Islam Ahmed killing: Eminent citizens write letter to Sarbananda Sonowal, urge him to help victim’s kin (Aug 6, 2017, First Post)

A group of prominent Assam citizens have written to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, urging him to help the family of slain minority leader Lafiqul Ahmed.

Signed by 44 members of the Assam’s intelligentsia, the letter praised the show of solidarity in Assam after Ahmed’s murder, and added that the incident brought together people belonging to different communities in the militancy-ravaged state.

Calling Ahmed a “progressive youth leader”, the letter acknowledged the slain leader’s contribution in raising critical issues such as child marriage, polygamy, dowry and domestic violence plaguing the Bengali Muslim community.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/lafiqul-islam-ahmed-killing-eminent-citizens-write-letter-to-sarbananda-sonowal-urge-him-to-help-victims-kin-3899809.html

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SC dismisses plea for making yoga compulsory in schools (Aug 8, 2017, The Tribune)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking framing of a national yoga policy and making the practice compulsory for students of classes 1-8 across the country.

A bench headed by Justice MB Lokur dismissed the plea and said it is for the government to take a decision on such issue. “We are nobody to say what is to be taught in schools. It is none of our business. How can we direct that,” the bench said.

The apex court said it was not possible for it to grant the relief as sought by petitioners – Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a lawyer and Delhi BJP spokesperson and JC Seth. “What is to be taught in schools is not a fundamental right,” it said.…

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/sc-dismisses-plea-for-making-yoga-compulsory-in-schools/449022.html

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Smriti Irani pulls up PTI news agency for posting ‘Modi-Nitish’ image, gets photo removed (Aug 8, 2017, First Post)

After recently getting additional charge of one of the more prestigious ministries in the Cabinet, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani is making sure that she continues to take controversial decisions. On Monday, this took the form of pulling up the news agency PTI which provides news stories and photographs on a lot of issues in India.

The important issue which caught the IB minister’s eye was a tweet PTI had put out which showed men in Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar masks celebrating Friendship Day. The link between the image and the story it accompanied was tenuous at best as it was about Nitish Kumar urging the Centre to allocate funds for the lower judiciary in Bihar.

Irani took umbrage to the photograph and shot off a tweet expressing her displeasure and questioning PTI’s “official stand”. PTI quickly reacted and deleted the tweet. They had also released the photograph separately to media outlets but later issued a ‘kill’ alert which is media jargon for withdrawing a picture. They also issued an apology and said that they had withdrawn the picture.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/smriti-irani-pulls-up-pti-news-agency-for-incorrect-portrayal-of-elected-heads-gets-photo-removed-3905531.html

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Minority Commission notice to Delhi top cop (Jul 22, 2017, Millennium Post)

Newly-appointed Delhi Minority Commission Chairman Dr Zaffarul Islam Khan on Friday issued notice to Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik over threat calls received by social activist Shabnam Hashmi. Hashmi runs the NGO ‘Pehchaan’, in addition to giving lessons to women school dropouts and teaching them sewing in Jaitpur in south east Delhi. On July 14, a person, who identified himself as a Delhi Police sub-inspector Sandeep Malik, reportedly called one of her students’ husband and asked him to come to Lajpat Nagar police station.

When Hashmi called the person to inquire the reason, he started abusing her and threatened her. The man claimed that a plan to “surround and kill” those who did not have an Aadhaar card or other identity proof had been launched. The conversation was recorded by Hashmi on her mobile phone, which she handed over to the police.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Minority Commission also expressed his anguish over the hate crime taking place in the national Capital in the name of cow vigilantism. He said that any type of hate crime is intolerable in a civilised society. Khan said that the Commission is a “quasi-judicial body”, but it can take notice about mishap occurring to any person from a minority.

http://www.millenniumpost.in/business/minority-commission-notice-to-delhi-top-cop-253795

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Bail to Haryana BJP chief’s son: Questions over police action in stalking case (Aug 7, 2017, Hindustan Times)

After Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president’s son, Vikas Barala, arrested for stalking and drink driving, was released on bail on Saturday, politicians and social media users are accusing Chandigarh Police of buckling under pressure and going soft against the accused.

Vikas, 23, a law student, and his friend Ashish Kumar, 27, were arrested from the Housing Board light point late on Friday night. The woman, a disc jockey, who was driving from Sector 9, Chandigarh, towards Panchkula at 12.35am, alleged that the two men followed her in their Tata Safari Storme. Both were drunk, she alleged, and at one point the SUV blocked her way and the person in the co-driver’s seat started walking towards her vehicle.

As the case was registered for stalking under Section 354-D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code, which is a bailable offence when a person is booked the first time, the two walked free for the time being. Congress leader and former Union minister Manish Tewari said on Sunday that the police have “completely diluted” the case under pressure.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/did-chandigarh-police-dilute-charges-against-haryana-bjp-chief-s-son/story-8bOzUt3jHmVCsyVC6wKHjL.html

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Rape charge & twin attacks shatter peace of Himachal village Khushnagri (Aug 8, 2017, Indian Express)

Khushnagri, which translates as happy place, is a picturesque village at the foot of the Himalayas in Chamba of Himachal Pradesh. Over the last two weeks, however, the village has been struck by communal tension, following allegations that a 15-year-old Muslim girl was raped by a schoolteacher.

Police claim that Tek Chand, a science teacher at the Government Model Senior Secondary School in Khushnagri, has confessed to sexually exploiting the girl for over a year. Chand was arrested on July 27 and is in judicial custody. The girl, who hails from the Muslim-dominated village and used to study at this school, is now in class XI at the Government Senior Secondary School in nearby Tissa.…

The violence in the school was followed by three days of retaliatory violence in Tissa, where a number of shops were vandalised, allegedly selectively. The Congress alleges that the attackers were RSS and VHP men, while the BJP says they were common citizens.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/rape-charge-twin-attacks-shatter-peace-of-himachal-village-khushnagri-4786903/

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BSP takes out rally condemning atrocities against Dalits, Muslims (Aug 8, 2017, The Hindu)

Condemning the increasing atrocities on Dalits and minorities across the country, the district unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) organised a divisional-level rally from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Chowk to Jagat Circle here on Monday against the inaction of the Union government.

The protesters addressing the rally stated that the Union government has failed to put an end to attacks and atrocities being unleashed across the country against Dalits and Muslims in the name of protecting the cow.

BSP district president Hanumanth Bodankar accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of maintaining silence on the Una incident in Gujarat, where a group of youths belonging to the Dalit community were beaten up by cow vigilantes alleging that they had killed a cow. The Union government had failed to take action against its Ministers for making objectionable statements against Dalits.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bsp-takes-out-rally-condemning-atrocities-on-dalits-muslims/article19447399.ece

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Opinions and Editorials

Partners in deceit – By Jagdeep S. Chhokar (Aug 8, 2017, Indian Express)

The Rajya Sabha election has once again brought to the fore what political unanimity means in India. I first encountered it in early 2001, when the Union of India filed an appeal in the Supreme Court (SC) against a decision of the Delhi High Court requiring candidates contesting elections to disclose pending criminal cases. Political unanimity was on display when several parties intervened in the case in support of the government. But the SC upheld the HC judgment.

Thereafter, 22 political parties joined hands against the SC judgment. The Representation of the People Act (RP Act) was amended unanimously in Parliament to render the SC judgment ineffective. The amendment of the Act was declared “unconstitutional” and “null and void” by the SC and finally, candidates had to submit affidavits disclosing pending criminal cases. This was in 2003.

In 2007, an application under the Right to Information Act was filed to the Income Tax department, requesting copies of Income Tax Returns (ITRs) of political parties. When the request was denied, first appeals under the RTI Act were filed. When these were rejected, a second appeal was filed before the Central Information Commission (CIC). Parties, without exception, argued that their ITRs must not be made public. The CIC, however, decided otherwise.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/partners-in-deceit-bjp-congress-nota-rajya-sabha-election-rti-4786806/

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Power games – By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Aug 18, 2017, Frontline)

Nitish Kumar’s choice of words to describe his return as Chief Minister of Bihar at two different junctures in the past 20 months is a study in contrast. In November 2015, immediately after the Mahagathbandhan… the Chief Minister sought to place the electoral triumph in a larger sociopolitical context with ideological overtones.… Approximately a year and a half later, when Nitish Kumar broke up the Mahagathbandhan and revived his erstwhile alliance with the NDA and once again took oath of office as Chief Minister, political and ideological formulations were conspicuous by their absence.…

Many smaller political groups representing a wide range of ideological shades and opinions and non-political groups have highlighted points for an opposition action plan that seeks to focus on the BJP’s own corruption and its aggressive pursuit of diversification of land use to favour BJP-friendly corporate groups, including the Adanis. However, this too has remained in the conceptual stage for a long time.

The unmistakable message of the Nitish Kumar manoeuvre and its follow-up plans is that the BJP and its top two leaders, Modi and Shah, have already started a no-holds-barred campaign for the 2019 elections. And, as in many instances in the recent past, they have taken by surprise the opposition which is floundering about for a tangible and effective counter-plan.

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/power-games/article9794994.ece

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The Indian Public: Spellbound by False Promises and Roused by Misdirected Hatred – By Sumanta Banerjee (Aug 5, 2017, EPW)

The electoral victory of the rightwing, Hindu communal-fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh (UP), and its nomination of the most violent anti-Muslim rabble-rouser, a Hindu pseudo-sadhu called Adityanath (against whom criminal cases are pending) as the chief minister of UP, will remain etched forever on the pages of modern Indian history, as a register of the aggressive march of Hindu communal fascism, supported by a substantial and vociferous section of the people, and of the shameful subordination to it by the rest.

The electoral verdict in UP is an echo of what happened in the 2014 parliamentary elections, when the chief proponent of violent Hindu communalism became the Prime Minister. Although we may say that only 30% to 40% of the electorate voted for Narendra Modi and Adityanath, let us face the facts. Quite a large number of Indians are increasingly gravitating to the politics of a concoction of Hindutva, militarist nationalism, and dreams of individual prosperity – a populist potpourri that has been successfully cooked up by Prime Minister Modi, and is being sold through both his Sangh Parivar’s organisational network and the channels of a salivating mass media.

We thus find the urban and rural youth seduced by dreams of upward mobility promised by Modi; the middle classes attracted by the Modi-manufactured concept of national pride that revives their faith in a nationalism that conflates with their traditional beliefs in Hindu rituals; and sections of Dalit and tribal youth in interior villages, educated respectively in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-run Saraswati Vidya Mandirs and Vanvasi Ashrams which have indoctrinated them into aggressive Hindu nationalism (for example, the Dang tribals were deployed by the Sangh Parivar to kill Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2017/31/commentary/indian-public.html

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It’s time to enact an anti-lynching law – By G. Sampath (Aug 4, 2017, The Hindu)

In a civilised society, even one lynching is too many. But India has seen a spate of them of late. The data website IndiaSpend has compiled instances of cow-linked violence from 2010 to 2017. It found that during this period, 28 people were killed in 63 such incidents.

An overwhelming 97% of these attacks took place after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014. About 86% of those killed were Muslims. In 21% of the cases, the police filed cases against the victims/survivors. Cow-related lynchings rose sharply in 2017, with 20 attacks in the first six months. This marks a 75% increase over 2016, which had been the worst year for mob lynchings since 2010.

The groundswell of public disgust at the lynchings crystallised under the banner of the National Campaign Against Mob Lynching (NCAML), which has initiated a campaign for a law against mob lynching. Also known as ‘Masuka’, short for Manav Suraksha Kanoon (law to protect humans), a draft of the proposed legislation is currently up on the Internet, awaiting suggestions from the public.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/its-time-to-enact-an-anti-lynching-law/article19421424.ece

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What Aadhaar? – By Shubhangi Singh (Aug 4, 2017, Tehelka)

No Indian needs an introduction to the 12-digit number that is now as vital to our lawful existence as the air we breathe. The Unique Identification Number (UID) or Aadhaar, as we know it, has quietly sneaked in upon us, taken centre stage and anchored our very existence to itself, all without us quite realizing it.

As Mukul Rohtagi, Attorney General of India has very well elucidated, “Even if you want to be forgotten, the state is not willing to forget you.” From children availing their midday meals to students taking entrance tests, from patients taking TB treatment to erstwhile employees getting pensions, from the poor availing LPG subsidy to the commoner filing taxes, everybody has been neatly netted in the ubiquitous Aadhaar fold.…

The central government is slowly but surely incorporating the Aadhaar as an undisputed footprint of our official identity by making it mandatory for vital public transactions. Though it can check misuse of public amenities and illegal transactions, is it worth the omnipresent government shadow on personal identities? It would be difficult to answer in the affirmative before India has appropriate privacy laws in place.

http://www.tehelka.com/2017/08/what-aadhaar/

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How They Make The Ledger Lie – By Ushinor Majumdar (Aug 14, 2017, Outlook)

The financially illiterate middle class may encounter chartered accountants around the dreaded season of tax returns – as the self-pitying definition goes, they are people we pay to tell us if we are broke and by how much. Auditors are higher up the angels’ hierarchy, known only to businesses.…

The higher realm of big auditing firms seemingly moves to a more refined, institutional rhythm – till things crack and the light comes in. As former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A.P. Shah recently pointed out, auditors (and often the same firms as consultants) certify documents that help bag contracts which use up subsidies, export incentives, grants, a share of government revenue and taxes and of profits in PPP projects.

The Satyam case is where the auditors, famously, made a mess (and some of the individuals paid the price too). But we saw a wilful repeat of the same series of missteps by the same auditor (and, later, another multinational auditing firm) in the Vijay Mallya/United Spirits Ltd (USL) cases. This organisation – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – also works as consultants on several projects where public money and projects are involved. Its audit firms are collectively called PW India and the consultancy arm PwC.

https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/how-they-make-the-ledger-lie/299170

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 31st, 2017

August 10, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Stories on Amit Shah’s Assets, Smriti Irani’s ‘Degree’ Vanish From TOI, DNA Madras HC order on compulsory singing of Vande Mataram sparks row PM Modi’s Silence On Cow Politics Is A Well-Planned Hindutva Strategy When the BJP national leadership claims probity, its Kerala leaders are accused of […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 17th, 2017

July 28, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Indian Americans express outrage over mob lynchings in India through protests across US News Headlines ‘Kill Them. They Are Muslims’: Family of 10 Beaten With Iron Rods Inside Train This BJP MLA is threatening to stop Haj pilgrims from UP if Ayodhya temple isn’t built 14 years in […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 8th, 2017

May 19, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony In riot affected Dhulagarh, Hindus & Muslims celebrate Tagore’s birth anniversary together News Headlines Bilkis Bano verdict is a reminder of state complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots Muslims protest against India TV for ‘fabricated’ Halala Operation Police ask man to remove communally sensitive poster UP BJP […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 24th, 2017

May 4, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Saharanpur violence over Ambedkar rally: 2 FIRs lodged against BJP MP Raghav Lakhanpal Kerala: 14 BJP-RSS men booked for attack over cow slaughter Alwar lynching: call for united fight against fascism Bajrang Dal men attack Agra police station to rescue 5, S-I injured Cop In Madhya Pradesh […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 2nd, 2012

July 2, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines ‘Modi shielding corrupt ministers’ Gulberg case: SIT submits closure report in trial court Post-Godhra, Vajpayee was not keen on Kalam’s Gujarat visit CBI says it has proof to show Tulsi case links Senior cop held in kidnap-extortion case Gopalgarh violence, firing victims losing hope for justice […]

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