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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 8th, 2017

by newsdigest on May 19, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

In riot affected Dhulagarh, Hindus & Muslims celebrate Tagore’s birth anniversary together (May 9, 2017, Twocircles.net)

On Tuesday, members from Hindu and Muslim communities of Dhulagarh, West Bengal together celebrated the birth anniversary of poet Rabindranath Tagore by tying threads of unity and harmony on each other’s wrists.

The unique birthday celebration of the Nobel Laureate, who had championed the causes of Hindu-Muslim unity, was organised under the banner of ‘Bangla Sanskriti Manch’ to celebrate the spirit of unity, fraternity and communal harmony in the state in which several civil society members from Kolkata also went to participate.

A cultural programme was also organised on the occasion in a hall in Dhulagarh around 11.00 AM, where social activists from the city as well as some villagers sent out a message of peace and harmony. They later tied Rakhi to each other. This ritual was followed on streets as well and local villagers responded spontaneously and positively.…

http://twocircles.net/2017may09/409168.html

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Bilkis Bano verdict is a reminder of state complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots (May 5, 2017, Scroll.in)

One of the many horrors that came into public view after the Gujarat riots of 2002 was the Bilkis Bano case. On March 3, 2002, 19-year-old Bano and her family had been trying to flee the riots in a truck. They were set upon by a mob of men who gangraped Bano, pregnant at the time, killed her three-year-old daughter and 14 others in her family. Fifteen years later, those responsible for the brutalities have been dealt with by the Bombay High Court, which upheld 12 life sentences in the case. “Somewhere, somehow, justice can prevail,” Bano said in a statement on Thursday, even in times “when the secular values of our country” are in peril.

Attention has been centred on the life sentences, and the fact that the court dismissed the Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea to convert three of these into death penalties. But the court also made another significant decision. It overturned the acquittals, handed down by a Mumbai sessions court, to five members of the Gujarat police. The court found them guilty of carrying out a “dishonest investigation”, of various “acts of omission and commission”, by which they tried to “screen the perpetrators of the crime” and “gagged the mouth of the prosecutrix”.…

The Bombay High Court’s verdict now is yet another reminder of chilling state complicity in the violence of 2002. Survivor accounts depict a state police that was indifferent at best or guilty of deliberate inaction, standing by and allowing the violence to take its course. The complicity carried on into the afterlife of the horrors, as evidence was destroyed or suppressed, cases were closed, voices of dissent within the force were silenced. How high up did the lines of accountability reach? Were the police were acting under political pressure? These questions have now passed into the realm of speculation. The Supreme Court’s decision to move the trials out of the state was acknowledgment that the system was tainted.…

https://scroll.in/article/836647/the-daily-fix-bilkis-bano-verdict-is-a-reminder-of-state-complicity-in-the-2002-gujarat-riots

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Muslims protest against India TV for ‘fabricated’ Halala Operation (May 6, 2017, The Indian Awaaz)

Hundreds of Muslims today staged a protest Dharana against India TV at Jantar Mantar. They were protesting against the telecast of what they called a ‘complete fabricated’ story run by the TV channel in the name of ‘Operation Halala’.

They alleged that programme showed Muslim men and women in bad light and degrading their dignity using impersonate persons. The alleged anti Muslim programme was telecast on April 15. The protesters with banners against TV channels in their hands, said the programme was nothing but a huge conspiracy to malign Islam and Muslim community of India.

The Dharna/protest was organized by Management Committee Madarsa Taleemul Quran Society Seelampur Delhi. The TV Programme was allegedly shoot near the madarsa run by this society. The society has also lodged complaint against the India TV at local court, CBI and Delhi police demanding stern action against the channel.…

http://theindianawaaz.com/muslims-protest-against-tv-for-fabricated-halala-operation/

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Police ask man to remove communally sensitive poster (May 8, 2017, Times of India)

Accusing members of a community in the neighbourhood of harassment, a resident of Kachcha Haata in Aminabad has put up a poster outside his house that reads, “Hindu pariwar palayan ko majboor”. When TOI spoke to other Hindu Families in the vicinity, however, they said they had never experienced any communal discord.

The area is mostly commercial and families of different communities have been living together from more than 80 years. Speaking to TOI, Rahul Garg, who has alleged he is being harassed by his neighbours from the minority community for the past six months, said he was being pressurised to sell his house where his family has been living for 70 years.

Officer in charge of Aminabad police station Ashwini Pandey said Garg created unnecessary sensation in the locality on Saturday evening. “Eight different families stay in the said property out of which seven want to sell it to a local builder. Garg is the only one against the deal. When the builder came to talk to him, Garg decided to put up the board. We convinced him to take it down as it was leading to nuisance and could lead to unnecessary controversy,” said Pandey.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/58570623.cms

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UP BJP MLA Radha Mohan Das Agarwal scolds IPS officer Charu Nigam to tears (May 8, 2017, IB Times)

…Gorakhpur MLA Dr Radha Mohan Das Agarwal – a UP BJP veteran – has been caught on camera scolding high-ranking IPS officer Charu Nigam till she is moved to tears. He is heard shouting repeatedly at her: “Don’t cross your limits.” What’s worse, all this happened in Gorakhpur, the home turf of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

It all started on the afternoon of Sunday, May 7, when a group of women blocked a road in Gorakhpur demanding the closure of certain liquor shops. Gorakhpur Assistant Superintendent of Police Charu Nigam – an IPS officer who has been given the moniker of “Lady Singham” for her tough-as-nails ways when it comes to matters of law and order – reached the spot and tried to forcefully evict them.

Some local reports say some of the women then attacked Nigam, while some other reports say she ordered lathi-charge on them, leading to some protesters being injured. Soon, Gorakhpur BJP MLA Dr Radha Mohan Das Agarwal reached the spot and confronted Nigam. A video of that interaction has now surfaced online, showing the BJP MLA shouting at the IPS officer in the presence of her colleagues as well as a large crowd. He is heard telling her to “keep quite,” and “don’t cross your limits.”…

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/watch-bjp-mla-radha-mohan-das-agarwal-scolds-ips-officer-charu-nigam-tears-725845

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UP Launches Exclusive Ambulance Service For Cows, As Man Carries Son’s Body On His Shoulder (May 3, 2017, Huffington Post)

On Monday, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya flagged off an exclusive ambulance service for cows, the latest among a slew of measures taken to protect the bovine species in the state. Just hours later, a video footage of a man in Etawah, in another part of UP, surfaced, which showed him carrying his 15-year-old son’s lifeless body on his shoulders for lack of an ambulance. The contrast between the two reports could not have been starker.

According to The Hindu, Gauvansh Chikitsa mobile vans were rolled out to ferry ailing or injured cows to gau shalas (cow shelters) and veterinary homes for treatment. To begin with, this service would operate in Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Mathura and Varanasi, in collaboration with the MNREGA Mazdoor Kalyan Sanghathan, an organisation that works with farmers and labourers in the informal sector.

The organisation also threatened to take stringent actions against those who abandon cows after they stop giving milk and against municipal workers, in case the animals are forced to eat plastic off the streets.…

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/05/02/up-launches-exclusive-ambulance-service-for-cows-as-man-carries_a_22064637/

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Hindu Yuva Vahini members accused of killing Muslim (May 3, 2017, The Tribune)

Police have detained four members of Hindu Yuva Vahini, founded by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, on suspicion of killing a Muslim man who had helped an interfaith couple elope, an investigating official said on Wednesday.

A 60-year-old farmer was killed on Tuesday by a mob that included members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini.… Since his appointment, units of the Hindu Yuva Vahini have ramped up their anti-Muslim rhetoric and launched a campaign against so-called “Love Jihad” – what they regard as an Islamist strategy to convert Hindu women through seduction and marriage.…

“The Muslim farmer was beaten to death in a mango orchard after he refused to share the whereabouts of the couple,” said Sharma.…

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/hindu-yuva-vahini-members-accused-of-killing-muslim/401479.html

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Women being kept with criminals in detention camps in Assam: Ajmal (May 3, 2017, India Tomorrow)

Lok Sabha MP and president of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) Maulana Badruddin Ajmal on Tuesday accused the Assam BJP government of harassing a large number of local people raising doubts over their citizenship.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Ajmal, who represents the Muslim-dominated Dhubri constituency of Assam in the Lok Sabha, alleged that government officials come to houses in plain clothes in the night without any female officer and ask women to produce Identity Card. If they fail to do so, then they drag them to vehicles and put in detention camps set up in unknown locations, said Ajmal. He also alleged that in detention camps, women are kept with men who are facing serious criminal charges.

“And no one from outside are allowed to meet these women in the detention camps,” alleged perfume baron AIUDF chief adding that “Thousands of such cases are happening in the state.” “In the current situation, it seems, a certain community speaking a particular language is being targeted,” Ajmal said.…

http://www.indiatomorrow.net/eng/women-being-kept-with-criminals-in-detention-camps-in-assam-ajmal

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‘Dalits should unite, rise against rightist forces’ (May 3, 2017, The Hindu)

The Constitution of India is in danger from rightist forces. It is everyone’s responsibility to save it [the Constitution], Prakash Ambedkar, founder of Dalit Swabhimani Sangarsh Samiti, said in Belagavi on Tuesday. He was speaking at a regional level rally of the samiti. He said that the RSS-backed BJP leaders were trying to destroy the spirit of the Constitution by amending it in such a way that are contrary to its basic principles.

The Constitution drafted by a committee headed by B.R. Ambedkar guarantees right to life and liberty to all. It strives for the equality and opposes discrimination based on caste, creed, gender, religion, region or language. But the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre is trying to divide the country on these lines.…

“It is a wake-up call. Dalits should remember such injustice during the next election and work against the rise of the rightist forces,” he said. He accused the BJP of trying to create a “counter revolution” that was opposed to the social, economic and political revolution promised by the Constitution. He said that the samiti would organise a rally in Bengaluru after Vijayadasami, where a million people would participate.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/dalits-should-unite-rise-against-rightist-forces/article18362493.ece

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Gujarat polls: Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on suspicious EVMs (May 7, 2017, Business Standard)

The Supreme Court has sought response of the Centre and the chief election commissioner on a plea filed [by] a Gujarat Patidar leader seeking the use of either ballot paper or electronic voting machines with paper trail for the upcoming Assembly election in the state.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul issued notice to the Centre, the CEC, the Gujarat government and the state election commission, and sought their response in four weeks. The apex court posted the matter for hearing to the first week of July.

Petitioner Reshma Vithabhai Patel, the convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, which was in the forefront of the Patel quota agitation, claimed that EVMs were not “fully reliable, foolproof, tamper-proof or hacker-proof”.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/gujarat-polls-supreme-court-seeks-centre-s-response-on-suspicious-evms-117050700222_1.html

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Khwaja Yunus custodial death: Policemen beat me like an animal, says eyewitness Mateen (May 3, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Fourteen years after the alleged custodial death of 2002 Ghatkopar blast accused Khwaja Yunus, the eyewitness in the case — Dr Abdul Mateen — deposed before the sessions court on Wednesday. He said the police beat him up “like an animal” in lock-up.

It has taken five years for the trial to begin after the court framed charges in 2012. Mateen, who was picked up by the crime branch with Yunus in December 2002, finally deposed on Wednesday, but the hearing was again adjourned for a month on the defence’s request. Wednesday’s hearing began with the defence raising an objection to Mateen’s deposition.

The defence lawyer said the prosecution had not submitted a case diary (maintained by the investigating officer), which they were asked to, and asked that the court not let the trial begin until it is submitted. The court, however, overruled the objection and proceeded with the trial while asking the prosecution to submit the diary.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/khwaja-yunus-custodial-death-policemen-beat-me-like-an-animal-says-eyewitness-mateen/story-WjgXpb74hIlIG5FAqsgIpI.html

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Opinions and Editorials

Modi Wants to Give Muslim Women Their Rights. So Why Did He Abandon Bilkis in Her Hour of Need? – By Siddharth Varadarajan (May 5, 2017, The Wire)

In a speech last month, Narendra Modi said he wants Muslim women to get the rights promised to them by the constitution. Bilkis Bano is a reminder that he didn’t always want that. Just when the prime minister thought the stain of 2002 was well and truly behind him, the Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of 11 persons for the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and mass murder of 14 Muslims in Limkheda and also convicted the policemen and doctors who attempted to cover up the crime – one of the most heinous to take place during the post-Godhra violence in Gujarat that year.

For the record, Bilkis’s charges were investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, not the Gujarat police, and the trial of the accused was held in Mumbai because the Supreme Court decided a fair trial was not possible in Gujarat.

So what does this have to do with Modi, the BJP is likely to ask, apart from the fact that he happened to be chief minister at the time. After all, the allegation that Modi orchestrated the anti-Muslim violence was probed by a Special Investigation Team set up by the Supreme Court but no evidence of his complicity emerged. The SIT’s controversial findings are being appealed by Zakia Jafri but as matters stand, Modi still has the “clean chit” the SIT gave him in 2013. Only the Gujarat high court, or the Supreme Court, can take that away from him.…

https://thewire.in/132084/bilkis-bano-rape-case-narendra-modi/

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Attacks on India’s minority Muslims by Hindu vigilantes mount – By Sujoy Dhar (May 5, 2017, USA Today)

One April afternoon, a group of men clad in saffron scarves barged into a house in Meerut, 40 miles northeast of here, and dragged out a young Muslim man and a Hindu woman.… Several similar attacks have occurred since March, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose an anti-Muslim firebrand, Yogi Adityanath, to be chief minister of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, the heartland of the nation’s Hindu population.…

Also in April, two dairy farmers returning from a cattle fair in a northern state were attacked by vigilantes, leaving one dead and the other seriously wounded.… India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, said Muslims feel a deep sense of dread since Modi, a fierce Hindu nationalist, took office in 2014.…

“Recent incidents are worrisome,” said Faizul Hasan, the student leader of Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. “We have written letters to the prime minister to honor his commitment to the Muslims that they would be protected and be part of India’s nation building.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/05/05/attacks-indias-minority-muslims-hindu-vigilantes-mount/100951514/

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Modernity or murder, Mr Modi? – By Tavleen Singh (May 7, 2017, Indian Express)

… It is hard to understand why a Prime Minister so passionate about making India a modern, digital, prosperous country has seemingly not noticed that hunting and killing Muslims on the pretext of cows and love jihad does not sit well with modernity. The Prime Minister talks about a ‘new India’ built with the energy of the largest population of young people on the planet. Has he noticed that hunting Muslims is serving mostly to distract these same young Indians from far more important tasks?…

It is cowardice of the worst kind for young men to gang up and kill an old man, so I tweeted against this latest lynching and was immediately subjected to an onslaught of abusive tweets.… What frightens me most is the pride Hindutva tweeters plainly take in every new lynching. They make it clear that the squads of Hindu vigilantes that roam about these days in search of Muslims to kill are in their view heroes avenging centuries of repression by Muslim rulers. Like the cowardly cow vigilantes, these tweeters remain nameless, but from their language it is obvious that many of them are linked directly to the RSS or one of its sister organisations.…

My reason for repeatedly drawing attention to Hindutva violence is because I believe it is motivated not by some twisted nationalism but by uncontainable hatred of Muslims. This hatred is what persuades young Hindus to go out in gangs and hunt for the poorest, most vulnerable Muslims to beat to death. It is true that there have been almost no communal riots in the past three years, but it is also true that there is an insidious new kind of violence that takes the form of hate crimes.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/fifth-column-modernity-or-murder-mr-modi-4644120/

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The RSS idea of India is not just being spread in colleges but among the defence forces too – By Apoorvanand (May 3, 2017, Scroll.in)

It would have been any other government function. The launch of the Vidya Veerta Abhiyan by Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar in the presence of Minister of State for Defence Subhas Bhamre would not have made news in the normal course of events.

Even the presence of Army Vice Chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand along with Rear Admiral Krishen K Pandey and Air marshal HN Bhagwat at a function to launch a programme to honour Indian soldiers would not have caused any flutter. The presence of Bharatiya Janata Party politician and former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak Tarun Vijay at the function would also have been routine.

But there was a problem. The Bharat Mata to which charan vandana – salutations at the feet – was offered by the leaders of our armed forces at this function was no ordinary Bharat Mata. For this Bharat Mata, resting on a lion and holding a saffron flag against the backdrop of a map of India, is the RSS version of Bharat Mata. The map she spreads over is also not the usual, ordinary map of India. One can sense that this is the map of Vrihhtattar Bharat, greater India which extends far beyond the internationally recognised boundaries of what is known as India.…

https://scroll.in/article/836472/the-rss-idea-of-india-is-not-just-being-spread-in-colleges-but-in-defence-forces-too

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Time for trial – By Purnima S. Tripathi (May 12, 2017, Frontline)

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” but sometimes it is better late than never, as in the case of the December 6, 1992, demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by thousands of frenzied kar sevaks gone berserk, which unleashed one of the most horrendous bouts of communal riots in the country. More shocking, perhaps, is the fact that in all these years not one individual who had been at the forefront of the Ram Mandir movement had been held guilty.

The masterminds of the entire episode had got off scot-free, seemingly cocking a snook at the rule of law. In the eyes of the people at large, it was the most despicable mockery of the rule of law because the perpetrators of the crime escaped prosecution, with their influence in the corridors of power seemingly providing them immunity. They went on to become Union Ministers, and in the case of the BJP patriarch L.K. Advani, even Deputy Prime Minister.

But even if it is 25 years late, the political life of Advani more than anybody else has come full circle with the Supreme Court ordering that he and other BJP leaders such as Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar and Uma Bharati, besides some Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Shiv Sena leaders, be tried for criminal conspiracy in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.… It was a crime that shook the very foundation of Indian jurisprudence because the BJP had given solemn affidavits in various forums affirming its commitment to protect the disputed shrine even as a shrill political movement was being woven around it.…

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/time-for-trial/article9663122.ece

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Aadhaar is an electronic leash on citizens – By Kanishk Tharoor (May 4, 2017, Hindustan Times)

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare once asked of roses. The 21st century version of this thorny question is: “What’s in an ID?” With great leaps in digital and biometric technology, the possibility that all individuals can be “known” by states and other institutions has becoming tantalisingly real. Until the coalescence of nation-states in the early 20th century, most people didn’t have ID cards of any kind. Now with over one billion people registered for Aadhaar numbers, India boasts the largest biometric database in the world.

Though wrapped in often opaque and cumbersome legalese, the debate over Aadhaar at the Supreme Court in the past week asks one of the most important questions of our time. In the age of big data, how much should the state know about individuals? It is a classic duel of two rival imperatives: The desire to expand the capacities of the State against the fear of the State developing illiberal powers over individuals.…

Without serious privacy protections, we should be wary of these efforts to make all people known and knowable. They remain ripe for abuse and error (already, lakhs of Aadhaar numbers have been accidentally leaked). Aadhaar will not only grant the State an “electronic leash” on citizens, but also allow corporations to build invasive financial profiles of people’s habits and histories. Why should we either repose faith in private sector whose ultimate interest is its own well-being, or surrender so much trust to state institutions with long traditions of incompetence?

http://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/aadhaar-is-an-electronic-leash-on-citizens/story-b9Q13XUK7aAwRfcUZFmehL.html

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Book Review

Splintered Justice: Living the Horror of Mass Communal Violence in Bhagalpur and Gujarat

Author: Warisha Farasat and Prita Jha
Reviewed by: Kalpana Sharma
Available at: Three Essays Collective, New Delhi: 2016, pp 221, ?500 (paperback). www.amazon.in/
Review:
A Book of Memory and Forgetting (Apr 29, 2017, EPW)

Does anyone even remember the communal violence that tore apart Bhagalpur in Bihar in 1989? According to official estimates, around 250 villages and 50,000 people were affected. The official death toll was estimated to be over 900 although the unofficial toll was higher. It was a familiar story because it had happened before. And since then it has happened again. And will do so in the future.…

Why is it important to record these divisions, these conflicts that recur with such worrying frequency? Would it not be better to erase these memories and look ahead? The writers of this book demonstrate convincingly why incidents of mass violence must be recorded and followed up. If they are not, then history will only remember the version of the victors while the victims will continue to remain voiceless, unheard, without justice.

In this regard, the book under review serves an important purpose. It is a record of the communal killings in Bhagalpur in 1989, and in Gujarat 2002. But instead of going over familiar ground, the authors help us understand the legacy of such mass violence. These recorded memories show us the costs of a broken criminal justice system and the price that victims of mass violence continue to pay for decades.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2017/17/book-reviews/book-memory-and-forgetting.html

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 24th, 2016

by newsdigest on November 3, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Hindu-Muslim meet shows humanity is above all (Oct 17, 2016, Times of India)

Humanity is above all. That is what members of Hanuman Mandir Trust and Jamat-e-Islami Hind demonstrated at a gathering held on Mankapur temple premises on Sunday. The gathering was a clear show of harmony the two communities enjoy here.

Sitting under the shade of a peepal tree on a sunny morning, members of these two organizations set an example for others to emulate and called to forego misunderstanding and ensure communal harmony.

Ayub Khan, a professor of English at Women’s College said, “While I was passing through this temple, I took a leap of faith and entered the premises to share my idea on peace. The trust officials welcomed the idea and readily agreed to join us in our endeavour to promote peace between the two communities.”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/54886549.cms

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Delhi’s own festival that promotes communal harmony (Oct 19, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Delhi’s oldest secular festival, Phool Waloon Ki Sair, has managed to survive the test of time. The festival which was initiated by the Mughals in 19th century, has come a long way. It came to a halt though when the country was under the British rule. It was revived by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961.

This annual week-long celebration in the Capital organised by Anjuman Sair-E-Gul Faroshan, brings together communities to promote communal harmony. “What happens over the border can’t stop us from holding this festival,” says Usha Kumar, general secretary, Anjuman Sair-E-Gul Faroshan. She adds that the younger generation is oblivious to this more than a century-old tradition. But she adds, “The response has been increasing every year.”

Since its inception, the festival has been known for promoting peace and oneness among Hindus and Muslims. “Keeping the grudges aside, people from both the communities will visit the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaaki near Qutub Minar on October 20 to offer floral chadar and panka. The next day, they will head to the Yogmaya Temple in Mehrauli to offer a floral chatra and panka (fan),”…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/delhi-s-own-festival-that-promotes-communal-harmony/story-8SggWs1eSW8c5m5rWeLvOJ.html

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Godhra riots: Gujarat High Court upholds life term of 17, acquits 14 convicted in Sardarpura case (Oct 21, 2016, Scroll.in)

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday upheld the life imprisonment terms of 17 people and acquitted 14 more convicted for the 2002 Sardarpura riots case where 33 Muslims were killed, PTI reported. A division bench of the court comprising Justices Harsha Devani and Biren Vaishnav also dismissed the appeal of the Special Investigation Team and the Gujarat government against the acquittal of 31 other people by the trial court in the case.

The bench acquitted the 14 convicted in the case on the grounds of lack of evidence and contradictions in witness accounts. It cited the “two-witness test” prescribed by the Supreme Court as the basis for its acquittal. The test calls for having at least two witnesses testifying against an accused in a riots to allow the court to convict that person. The bench also upheld the trial court’s rejection of the argument that the attack was the result of a planned conspiracy after the Sabarmati Express train burning incident at Godhra on February 27, 2002.

While 11 of the 14 were given the “benefit of doubt”, three people were given a clean chit, according to The Indian Express. SIT lawyer KB Anandjiwala said the body would take a call on challenging the high court’s decision after it received a copy of the order. Meanwhile, the lawyer for the victims said that there was a possibility of them filing an appeal. “We believe there are several legal points which can be challenged,” said Yusuf Sheikh.…

http://scroll.in/latest/819590/godhra-riots-gujarat-high-court-upholds-life-term-of-17-acquits-14-convicted-in-sardarpura-case

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Jharkhand policeman charged for custodial death following youth’s post-mortem report (Oct 22, 2016, IB Times)

A murder case has been filed against a Jharkhand Police sub-inspector after the post-mortem report of a 22-year-old man said that he allegedly died due to custodial torture.

Minhaj Ansari had injury marks on his body when he was admitted to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi on October 6. The post-mortem report says that he died due to “haemorrhage and shock” and that the injuries were caused with a “hard and blunt substance.”

On the basis of the report, Jamtara Deputy Commissioner of Police Ramesh Kumar Dubey said that a murder case has been filed against the sub-inspector posted with Narayanpur police station.… The sub-inspector was suspended after Minhaj’s death.

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/jharkhand-cop-charged-custodial-death-over-youths-post-mortem-report-700773

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Malegaon blast: High court asks NIA to file additional affidavit against Lt Col Purohit’s bail plea (Oct 20, 2016, Hindustan Times)

The Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file an additional affidavit countering the bail plea filed by 2008 Malegaon blast accused Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit.

A bench of justice Naresh Patil and justice PD Naik have tagged Purohit’s plea with the one filed by his co-accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur seeking similar relief.

In July, the bench had dismissed Purohit’s appeal and asked him to file a fresh bail plea before the special NIA court in light of the supplementary charge sheet filed by NIA in June, which dropped the stringent MCOCA charge against all accused in the case.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/malegaon-blast-high-court-asks-nia-to-file-additional-affidavit-against-lt-col-purohit-s-bail-plea/story-ltaztu9qIpkr3IwvKOinOM.html

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MP cops accuse government of shielding unruly RSS members (Oct 20, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Millions across India may be cheering the onset of the festive season but there is gloom in the police barracks in Madhya Pradesh. Dejected cops say the morale of the force is low as the government has sided with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and punished police officers who take any action against the Hindu group members.

An example of this alleged favouritism played out around two weeks ago, when a senior RSS leader Suresh Yadav accused the police of thrashing him in custody. A medical report ruled out life-threatening injuries but the state government charged 10 policemen with attempt-to-murder, triggering widespread anger among the forces.

The case has now turned into a full-blown political war following the transfer of two senior officers for “wrongly handling the case”. The Congress says the BJP administration is acting on behalf of its ideological parent, the RSS, and demoralising the police – a charge many in the force agree with.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/bhopal/mp-cops-accuse-government-of-shielding-unruly-rss-members/story-lh85U5nCNq4hrUJYHFKlqI.html

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Hindu Mahasabha member, Swami Om facing charges under Arms Act, TADA? (Oct 23, 2016, Financial Express)

It has only been a week since Bigg Boss season 10 aired on TV and Swami Om, Hindu Mahasabha contestant supported by BJP is already making headlines. Swamiji’s behaviour on the show is reflecting a character which all the other contestants are finding difficult to deal with.…

According to a report, Swami is facing charges under the Arms Act, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities in addition to non-bailable warrants in a theft case filed by his own brother, Pramod Jha who has a bicycle shop. Swami had been accused of stealing 11 bicycles, expensive spare parts and important documents. The reports also say that his sister has also filed a case against him in Delhi’s Lodhi Colony.

It seems that Swami already has a long list of accusations against him, why then is he creating more trouble in the house, stealing perfumes and asserting misogyny?…

http://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/showbiz/bigg-boss-10-hindu-mahasabha-member-swami-om-facing-charges-under-arms-act-tada-bjp/427396/

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Ban use of ‘Hindutva’ in polls: Teesta (Oct 21, 2016, Times of India)

Social activist Teesta Setalvad has moved the Supreme Court to intervene in the ongoing debate over nexus between candidates and religious leaders and sought a ban on the use of “Hindutva” interchangeably with Hinduism in elections.

Setalvad along with retired professor and theatre activist Shamsul Islam and journalist Dilip C Mandal moved a joint intervention application before a 7-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur requesting reconsideration of a December 1995 SC judgement that had ruled that ‘Hindutva’ was a way of life and could not be equated with any religion.

The current petition would affect BJP directly as the party has held up the SC ruling in support of its claim that it is not seeking votes on religious lines and is rather advocating a cultural identity and nationalism.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/54968047.cms

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Polygamy more common among Hindus than Muslims: S Jaipal Reddy (Oct 20, 2016, Siasat)

Strongly opposing the Uniform Civil Code, Senior Congress leader and ex-Union Minister Mr. S Jaipal Reddy claimed that practice of polygamy is more common in Hindu religion than among Muslims. He added that Hindu women face more oppression than Muslim women.

Addressing a public meeting following presentation of Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award ex-MP said BJP is endangering peace of the country for its political gains. It is attempting to create distance between Hindus and Muslims thus damaging secular structure of the country. Mr. Reddy asserted that Congress party strongly condemns this.

He said constitution of India guarantees freedom of religion and every citizen has right to follow his own religion and propagate it. But BJP having Hindutva agenda is harassing and worrying Muslims to appease maturity community. He said Congress party is totally with Muslims on this issue and will remain same in the future. Mr. Jaipal Reddy advised BJP to first focus on oppressions on women of Hindu religion and seriously ponder over the injustices meted out to them.…

http://www.siasat.com/news/polygamy-common-among-hindus-muslims-s-jaipal-reddy-1045714/

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Adivasis knock on SC door over civil code (Oct 21, 2016, Deccan Herald)

A group representing interests of tribals has approached the Supreme Court, contending that any direction to impose Uniform Civil Code would affect their distinct customs, culture, heritage and religious practices, including their right to practice polygamy and polyandry.

The Rashtriya Adivasi Ekta Parishad said the adivasis (tribals), numbered about 11 crore in the country, had their own personal laws and do not come in the category of Hindus as they worshipped nature instead of idols and performed burial of the dead.

The marriage ceremony of the tribals was also different from the Hindus, it submitted. The application by the group, which claims to be working for the upliftment of scheduled tribes for 25 years, has added a new dimension to the controversy relating to a suo motu petition “Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality” being considered by the Supreme Court where the issue of declaration of uniform civil code has arisen.…

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/576933/adivasis-knock-sc-door-over.html

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JNU student claims that attempts were made to kill the missing student Najeeb Ahmed (Oct 22, 2016, Indian Express)

Attempts were made to kill JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, who has been missing from campus since a week, a fellow student who was present when he had a brawl with few ABVP supporters, has claimed. A student of School of Biotechnology, Najeeb Ahmed, went missing on last Saturday following a brawl on the campus allegedly with members of ABVP, the night before. An FIR for kidnapping and wrongfully confining a person was lodged at Vasant Kunj North police station after the police received a complaint from the student’s guardians.

“I heard some noises from the first floor. When I rushed down I saw Najeeb was bleeding from the mouth and nose. We called the warden and took Najeeb to help him wash himself in the bathroom.

“But few students came and thrashed Najeeb inside the bathroom. They were shouting that he should not be spared,” said Shahid Raza Khan, an M Phil student at JNU’s School of International Studies (SIS).…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/jnu-student-claims-that-attempts-were-made-to-kill-the-missing-student-najeeb-ahmed-3097273/

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Modi govt “increasing interfering” in freedom of association, expression, assembly: Global civil society alliance (Oct 24, 2016, Counterview)

Civicus Monitor, a global civil society alliance based in Johannesburg, South Africa, in its first-ever online tracking of 104 countries, has noted that the “civic space” in India is being “increasingly constrained because of government interference with the freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly.”

Placing India under the “obstructed” category in the company of 21 other countries, including Armenia, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Moldova, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, and Ukrain, Civicus regrets, “India’s many civil society organizations have until recently enjoyed an enabling operating environment.”

“Local and foreign civil society organizations describe an uneasy atmosphere under the current government of Narendra Modi”, it says, adding, “This has been caused by the government’s targeting of CSOs, including Greenpeace India, as well as statements leaked to the media indicating that civil society is receiving large sums of money to pursue foreign agendas in India.”…

http://www.counterview.net/2016/10/modi-govt-increasing-interfering-in.html

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Opinions and Editorials

4 cases Modi govt must look at before talking about Muslim women & triple talaq – By Aditya Menon (Oct 27, 2016, Catchnews.com)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke out on the triple talaaq issue on Monday, indicating his intention to push through a Uniform Civil Code in India. Addressing a rally in Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh, PM Modi said: said, “if someone says talaaq thrice on phone, the lives of Muslim daughters can be destroyed”.

First things first, triple talaaq is a regressive practice. It demeans women, belittles the institution of marriage and by most accounts, it isn’t even based on the Quran. Here, PM Modi is clearly trying to use the triple talaaq issue to push for a Uniform Civil Code, an issue that has time and again been used to create a communal polarisation.

But if indeed he has developed a sudden concern for Muslim women, perhaps he or his government should speak to some of these women. And we haven’t even begun talking about Ishrat Jahan.…

http://www.catchnews.com/politics-news/4-cases-modi-must-look-at-before-talking-about-muslim-women-triple-talaaq-1477321410.html

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Triple talaq debate: Why does the BJP raise the need for modernity only when referring to Muslims? – By Ajaz Ashraf (Oct 20, 2016, Scroll.in)

Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s article, A practice against modernity, published in The Indian Express on Tuesday begins thus: “‘The times they are a-changin’,’ sang Bob Dylan many years ago.” Its readers would have felt reassured because one would think that anyone listening to, and citing, Dylan would bring a touch of the avant-garde to his writing. But that hope is dashed in the next sentence itself as Naidu echoes what every other Bharatiya Janata Party leader has been articulating with tremendous zeal ever since the Supreme Court decided to determine the Constitutional validity of triple talaq.

Let us face it, Naidu wishes to debate the issue of triple talaq because it suits the BJP. He and other BJP leaders know that attempts to reform Muslim Personal Law will provoke the Muslim Personal Law Board to join the slanging match in television studios. Soon, you will see them organise street protests.

The BJP will argue that since Hindu law has been altered, Muslim law should be too and that secularism demands it. BJP leaders will clamour, as Naidu has, that Muslim women must experience the balmy breeze of changing times. The furious debate will turn triple talaq into an electoral issue before Uttar Pradesh goes to the Assembly poll early next year, thereby creating the political ambience for Hindu and Muslim consolidation.… Naidu’s modernity is politically expedient. It is a stick to goad Muslims in order to build a Hindu vote bank.

http://scroll.in/article/819451/naidu-uses-modernity-for-political-expediency-in-the-same-way-akbar-used-conservatism-30-years-ago

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How politics is diluting the case of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed – By Shalini Lobo (Oct 22, 2016, Dailyo.in)

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the national capital has once again turned into a battleground. Outrage against anti-national sentiments and sexual assault charges has been national headlines, and now the case of a missing student has stirred this hot cauldron.

The mysterious disappearance of 27-year-old Najeeb Ahmed, an MSc student, has led to massive outrage at the varsity. “Justice for Najeeb” is what students address it as, but over all the commotion the cause is lost. The matter has taken a political and communal turn and leaders and political factions are working hard to expand their votebanks.

Left-ruled student groups allege that the scuffle that took place between Najeeb and ABVP members was a planned one. Najeeb was in the hostel for 20 days, the ABVP group assaulted him and there was also a case of mob-lynching.… And most importantly, the blame-game should stop. Votebanks should be the last priority now. Students should be united on the issue, not bully each other.… But once again, I must stress that losing and winning is restricted to elections.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/najeeb-ahmed-jnu-abvp-media-bjp-umar-khalid-left-jnusu/story/1/13563.html

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RSS and its affiliates should not influence the education policy – Editorial (Oct 21, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Getting the education system to conform to its ideology has been a goal of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for much of its existence. So it comes as no surprise that with the ministry of human resource development all set to formulate the new education policy, the RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas is trying to influence its content. It wants the medium of instruction from elementary to higher levels in schools to be in the mother tongue and not English, in fact it says English should not be mandatory at any level.

All research work, according to it, should be linked to national requirements and those which are not should not get UGC scholarships. And of course, there is the usual demand that references that insult Indian culture, traditions, sects, thoughts, eminent persons and offer wrong explanations should be removed from textbooks. The ministry should firmly resist this.…

The education policy must be aimed at getting children the best education that can enable them to compete in a globalising world. Our netas certainly understand the benefits of English, their children study in English medium schools and invariably attend college abroad. The education policy is too important for it to be tinkered with by those with little knowledge of the subject. The RSS should leave well alone.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/rss-and-its-affiliates-should-not-influence-the-education-policy/story-2HAq0P5wCAy5ukftHwnTZJ.html

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For Better or For Worse, the BJP Is Turning to Hindutva (Again) – By Sharat Pradhan (Oct 20, 2016, The Wire)

… it is not a sheer coincidence that Hindutva finds resonance, particularly at poll time. Now that elections are round the corner in Uttar Pradesh, the saffron brigade is finding ways and means to bring it back to the fore in some form or the other.

It was, therefore, no surprise to now find references by different Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to the much-debated Ram temple in Ayodhya. The reason is not too tough to see. Having tried and tested various other ways to whip up Hindutva passions, BJP rabble-rousers have reverted to what they think may be their trump card – the Ayodhya temple.

Why they continue to see it as a trump card is not entirely clear. Anyone who has been following the temple movement would easily understand how the issue lost its vote-catching potential a long while ago.…

http://thewire.in/74617/bjp-modi-hindutva-up/

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As the State Continues to Fail Dalits in Gujarat, Another Life is Lost – By Damayantee Dhar (Oct 20, 2016, The Wire)

Sandha, a village in the Mangrol taluka of Gujarat’s Junagadh district, is home to about 35 Dalit families. For generations, the only way they have earned two square meals a day has been by working as labourers on the land of ‘upper caste’ landlords. The Dalits have no say in their wages. Usually, the landlord who owns the most land decides how much the labourers will be paid in a given year. This been the system in Sandha for years now.

Since October 13, a group of Dalits had been camping in front of the collector’s office as a mark of protest against the government, demanding that they be given the farm land that they say was allotted to them years ago. When no official from the office of the Junagadh collector came to meet them, three of the protestors attempted suicide by consuming pesticide on October 17.

While one of them, 50-year-old Prabhatbhai Munjabhai Parmar, passed away at the Rajkot civil hospital around midnight, the other two, 25-year-old Jignesh Rathod and 33-year-old Chandu Parmar, have recovered and were discharged from the hospital on October 19. According to the protestors, nobody from the government or district administration has met the family of the deceased yet.…

http://thewire.in/74529/gujarat-dalits-suicide-protest-land/

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Book Review

Modi and His Challenges

Author: Rajiv Kumar
Reviewed by: Arvind Krishnaswamy
Available at: Bloomsbury India, Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt. Ltd., DDA Complex, LSC, Building No. 4, Second Floor, Pocket C-6&7, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi 110070, India; Email: marketing-in@bloomsbury.com. http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Modi: From Gujarat to Delhi (Oct 22, 2016, EPW)

Rajiv Kumar, a senior fellow of the Centre for Policy Research and a noted economist has embarked on the difficult task of evaluating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s challenges, midway through his term.… Kumar then takes on the 2002 Gujarat riots and absolves Modi of being anti-Muslim by presenting a eight-point list that mentions the dropping of Gordhan Zadafia, the home minister during the 2002 riots for incompetence, the sidelining of Praveen Togadia, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and the convictions of Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi.

This ignores the fact that all this happened only after civil society activists took the matter to the Supreme Court and some cases were transferred outside Gujarat, thereby casting aspersions on Gujarat’s ability to be judicious and neutral. A special investigative team had to be formed by the Supreme Court to help bring cases to court.…

The subsequent analysis also does not explain why after 12 years under Modi, Gujarat’s human development indices are below that of a state like Tamil Nadu which has experienced multiple changes in government accompanied by allegations of wide-ranging corruption.… In summary, this book is neither here nor there. It is neither a deeply-researched piece on the economic performance of Modi in Gujarat and Delhi, nor it is a deeply-perceptive psychological piece on what drives and influences Modi.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/43/book-reviews/modi-gujarat-delhi.html

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 17th, 2016

October 27, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Communal harmony lessons in J’khand textbooks to foster love, combat hatred News Headlines Modi “advised” ex-DGP to go soft on Sangh Parivar, said 2002 Gujarat violence was “natural, uncontrollable” Bahraich: 2 cops suspended, 34 arrested for clashes during Durga Puja Real threats to India are communal and […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 10th, 2016

October 20, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Communal Harmony Awakening Camp Watch how Kashmiri youth rescued an army jawan trapped inside a mangled vehicle News Headlines Delhi: Heavy police deployment in Trilokpuri as communal tensions rises after stone pelting Dadri accused’s body draped in tricolour sends out aggressive message to Muslims 2 hurt as […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 5th, 2016

September 18, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Spreading the message of peace and harmony is a national responsibility: Peace conference This 18-year-old Hindu girl teaching Quran to Muslim kids is a messenger of communal harmony Eight Muslim youths perform final rites of Hindu neighbour News Headlines Intervention in Muslim Personal Law not tolerated – […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 29th, 2016

September 8, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Minority outfit’s call for communal harmony Kandhamal Day Observed For Peace, Justice And Communal Harmony News Headlines Hardik accuses Modi of using Patidars for ‘orchestrating’ 2002 riots Amnesty International row: Govt ‘paranoid’ for pressing sedition charge, says Karnataka HC HC directs Maharashta to trace 1996 custodial death […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 21st, 2016

March 25, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Human chain to create sense of unity among citizens News Headlines Jharkhand: Two cattle traders hanged from tree, gau raksha activist among 5 held BJP leader offers Rs 1 crore to anyone who brings him ‘traitor’ Owaisi’s tongue Reference to circumcision in terror notice sparks ‘profiling’ charge […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 8th, 2016

February 24, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony J&K: Muslims perform last rites of 84-year-old Kashmiri Pandit in Kulgam News Headlines Gujarat BJP on cheap land to CM’s kin: Price fixed in 2011 after district, state penals, Modi Cabinet “cleared” it 2008 Malegaon blasts: NIA under fire from former prosecutor as it seeks to drop […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 13th, 2015

July 15, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Digest Communal Harmony Jamaat to establish local chapters of Sadbhavna Manch to strengthen communal harmony in country News Headlines 2002 riots: Gujarat HC to hear Zakia Jafri’s plea on July 27 Indian police raid home of leading rights activist and Modi critic NIA closes Modasa blast case in which […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 10th, 2014

November 11, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Inside an Indian camp for radical Hindu women Varanasi Muslims don’t feel they are part of Modi plan Trilokpuri riots: Police were violent with Muslim women Property attachment proceedings against 12 more accused If riot relief story not true, why no denial: EC to govt Custodial death: […]

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