Posts tagged as:

Fake Encounter

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 9th, 2014

by newsdigest on June 10, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Muslims safeguard Hindus in Hadapsar post the Pune Muslim techie murder (Jun 9, 2014, DNA India)

Muslim community in Sayyad Nagar, Hadapsar show solidarity by patrolling the area,ensuring no Hindu household is attacked by any mob. Pandit Dolare, 60,is living in one of the bylanes of Sayyad Nagar in Hadapsar with his family. The area is thickly populated with Muslim community. However,neither he nor anyone from his family feel scared surrounded by Muslim households. According to him, both the communities have been living in peace, maintaining communal harmony and having congenial relations with each other. The recent murder of a 26-year-old hardware and networking engineering Mohsin Shaikh led to riot-like situation in Hadapsar.

However, the local Muslims living in Sayyad Nagar have vouched to protect the Hindu households residing in the area.”The day tension prevailed in the area after Mohsin was beaten to the death bymembers of Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS), we as a community decided to protect some of ourneighbours who are Hindus as there was a fear that some Muslim mob from other areas could attack the Hindu families,”said Akbar Shaikh, one of the residents of Sayyad Nagar in Hadapsar.

“There is someone who wants to disturb the communal harmony between the two communities,” he added.Another resident of the same locality Altaf Shaikh said that on the particular night when there was tension in the area, some of the Hindu families were scared. However, they gave them confidence not a single Hindu family would be hurt. “The whole night, we were awake and patrolled the area. We ensured that no outsider distrubs the harmony in our locality,” said Shaikh.Shivaji Sonawane, who works at a military workshop said that for sometime, he felt that the Hindu families, who are a minority in the area, could be in danger.

“However, our Muslim brothers enthused confidence among us and told us that no one can hurt the Hindu households. They vouched to protect us,” said Sonawane.Manohar Kanthare, who is an auto-rickshaw driver and has been living in lane number 15 of Sayyad Nagar for the last 30 years, said that till this incident, he had not witnessed any untoward incident which disturbed the harmony. “However, the ill-motives of some anti-social elements cannot befulfilled as the bonding between the communities is very strong and unbreakable,” informed Kanthare.He said that here in Sayyadnagar, both the communities celebrate Diwali, Holi, Ganeshotsav, Eid with great zeal and zest. Ahmed Nadaf, who is a tailor by profession said that they have a small organisation called Ram Rahim Sanghtana, which is very much instrumental in bringing communal harmony in both the communities.

[Back to Top]

‘Hinduize politics, militarize Hindus’ is slogan of group suspected of Pune techie’s murder (Jun 5, 2014, Scroll)

“Hinduize the politics, militarize the Hindus,” declares a logo used by the Hindu Rashtra Sena, seven of whose members have been arrested for beating a Muslim information technology worker to death in Pune on Monday night. The attack on 24-year-old Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, who was returning from prayers at a local mosque, came the day after mobs damaged approximately 190 public buses after rumours that derogatory images of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray had been posted on Facebook and WhatsApp. It isn’t clear whether the Hindu Rashtra Sena members held Shaikh directly responsible for these social media posts.

This isn’t the first time that the Hindu Rashtra Sena has been involved in violence. The police said that the outfit’s leader, Dhananjay Desai, has been named in 23 cases relating to rioting, extortion and other crimes, the Indian Express has reported. Copies of his incendiary speeches are widely available on YouTube. In the video below, Desai explains his conception of Hindutva. It is, he declares, “a movement to repel the human animals who have attacked our holy land. To penetrate the evil conspiracy. It is to destroy the green hordes, to smash the Christian conversions. To destroy the caste system.”

He adds, “Hindutva is this fight, this revolution, that the pious sons of Mother India have launched – of nationalism, of the desire to preserve Indian culture, of the rise of the saffron flag. Hindutva is the name of this struggle.” The Hindu Rashtra Sena first came to public attention in 2007, when some of its members ransacked the offices of Star News in Mumbai to protest the television channel’s coverage of the elopement of a couple in Gujarat belonging to different communities. Last May, the group demonstrated outside the home of film actor Sanjay Dutt, demanding that he be hanged for his role in the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993.

On one of its two Facebook pages, the Sena declares that Muslims and Christians cannot be truly Indian because “their Holyland is not the Hindusthan but Arabsthan and Rome”. But they could become Indian if “they abandon their faith in antinational religions like Islam and Christianity and also unless they embrace again their original religion from which they were forcibly converted to their present status”. It adds, “We Hindus should militarize and industrialize ourselves. That is the only key for survival now…In army, navy and airforce, Hindus should have majority. In fact, the people with double faiths should not at all be allowed to enter Indian Military. This is the only way to keep ourselves safe.”,-militarize-Hindus%27-is-slogan-of-group-suspected-of-Pune-techie%27s-murder


[Back to Top]

First wicket has fallen, say killers of Pune Muslim youth (Jun 4, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Police are investigating the possibility of a conspiracy in the fatal attack on an IT graduate after members of the radical Hindu Rashtra Sena allegedly circulated a text message referring to fall of the “first wicket” over offensive Facebook photographs. Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, 28, was bludgeoned to death allegedly by members of the group during Monday’s violent protests against posting of morphed pictures of late Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray and Chhatrapati Shivaji on Facebook. Joint commissioner of police Sanjay Kumar said on Wednesday that immediately after the gruesome murder, an SMS was circulated, proclaiming, “Pahili wicket padli” (the first wicket has fallen). Within 24 hours of the incident, police arrested 13 persons of which seven have been charged with murder.

Shaikh, sporting grown beard and dressed in green pathani kurta, was returning home in the evening when the accused blocked his way in Hadapsar – on the outskirts of Pune – forced him off his bike and hit him on his head with hockey sticks and stones. Considering the contents of the messages exchanged by the group’s members and the weapons they were carrying, the police are now probing whether the attack was planned in advance. The killing sparked off tension in the area forcing police to clamp curfew, which lasted for 12 hours.

Shaikh’s cousin, who was accompanying him, escaped unhurt after he managed to flee from the spot while two others – Ameen Shaikh, 30, and Ijaz Yusuf Bagwan, 25 – sustained injuries. Among those arrested but not yet charged with murder include Hindu Rashtra Sena chief Dhananjay Desai. The police first recovered one of the bike used in the attack, based on which other accused were arrested. On Wednesday, a local court remanded all the accused to police custody till June 9.

While Shaikh wasn’t in anyway related to distorted pictures uploaded on social networking site, the protesters, according to police had gathered in the area following rumours that Shivaji’s statue has been desecrated and a woman of a particular community had been raped. Coming from a modest family, Desai has criminal background with cases of rioting and extortion registered against him in different police stations. The almost decade-old organisation first came into prominence when it carried out an attack on the office of a Marathi television channel in 2007, protesting the coverage of a Hindu minor girl eloping with a Muslim boy.

The images of Shivaji and Thackeray, which were taken off after the police registered complaint on Friday, had led to unrest in various parts of the state including Pune and Mumbai. Along with Hindu Rashtra Sena other outfits including Shiv Sena have been protesting demanding action against those responsible for uploading distorted images. The police have registered offence against unidentified persons for uploading the images and have arrested 130 persons in the last five days on charges of rioting and destruction of public property.


[Back to Top]

18 policemen guilty in fake encounter case (Jun 7, 2014, The Hindu))

A Special CBI court on Friday held 18 Uttarakhand Police personnel guilty for the death of 22-year-old Ranbir Singh in Dehradun in 2009 in a fake encounter. Of the 18 convicts, Special CBI Judge J.P.S. Malik acquitted Jaspal Singh Gosain of murder and kidnapping charges but held him guilty under Section 218 for framing incorrect record in connection with the fake encounter to shield the other accused. Mr. Gosain was the head operator at the city control room. He has been ordered to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and a surety of the same amount.

Those convicted for murder and criminal conspiracy are Santosh Jaiswal (Inspector), Gopal Dutt Bhatt, Rajesh Bisht (both sub-inspectors), Neeraj Kumar, Nitin Chauhan and Chandra Mohan and Ajeet Singh (constable). Others who have been convicted are, Satbir Singh, Sunil Saini, Chander Pal, Saurabh Nautiyal, Nagendra Nath, Vikas Chandra Baluni, Sanjay Rawat, Mohan Singh Rana, Inder Bhan Singh and Manoj Kumar (all constables). The court will hear arguments on quantum of sentence on Saturday.

Hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, the victim, had gone to Dehradun in search of a job with a finance company in July 2009. He was kidnapped and killed on July 3, 2009. Probe agencies said he was gunned down by Uttarakhand Police after being caught at Mohini Road where he and his friends were allegedly trying to commit some crime.


[Back to Top]

Delhi policeman found involved in Muzaffarnagar riots (Jun 7, 2014, The Hindu)

A Delhi Police constable has been allegedly found involved in a Muzaffarnagar riots case by the Special Investigation Team. The constable was found involved in an arson and loot incident at Bahawdi village under Phugana police station in the district during the 2013 communal riots, SIT sources claimed.

Seven persons have been arrested while five others including the police constable have been found involved in the incident by the SIT which is probing the riots cases, they said.

Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring districts including Shamli in western Uttar Pradesh had witnessed communal riots in September 2013 that left over 60 people dead and displaced thousands of villagers.


[Back to Top]

POTA court acquits two remaining accused in Akshardham case (Jun 6, 2014, Indian Express)

A special POTA court in Ahmedabad on Friday acquitted the remaining two accused in the Akshardham temple terror attack case, three weeks after the Supreme Court let off six accused, rejecting the prosecution’s charge of their involvement in the conspiracy. Special POTA (Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act) Court judge Geeta Gopi ordered the acquittal of Majid Patel alias Umarji and Shaukatullah Ghori holding they were not involved in the conspiracy behind the suicide attack at the temple in Gandhinagar on September 24, 2002 which had claimed more than 30 lives.

The two were charged with conspiracy by the city crime branch and had been lodged in Sabarmati jail for six years. Drawing from the Supreme Court verdict, the POTA court too did not accept the testimony of witness Ashfaq Bhavnagri. Patel, who was accused of managing funds for the attack, was held in 2008 from Bharuch district of Gujarat while co-accused Ghori was arrested from Hyderabad the same year.

Earlier, during the hearing, the prosecution referred to the Supreme Court judgement and said it had refused to rely on Bhavnagari’s statement and rejected the conspiracy charge against the accused. “The Supreme Court did not believe the contention of the state agency and declined to believe the conspiracy part,” Special Public Prosecutor H M Dhruv had told the POTA court. Dhruv said the statement of Bhavnagari, which the prosecution had relied upon to make a case against the accused, was not taken as evidence by the apex court.


[Back to Top]

Shubha Mudgal threatened in the US for anti-Modi stance (Jun 7, 2014, Times of India)

Popular singer Shubha Mudgal, who was in the US for a performance, got the shock of her life when an irate NRI verbally attacked her for her anti-Modi stance. A Mid-Day report says the singer, who is the US, was allegedly threatened by a board member of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple.

The singer was gearing up for her performance when a board member of the temple insisted to speak to her. Quoting a source, the report adds that as soon as the man met the singer, he started criticising her for her ‘anti-Modi, anti-Hindu and anti-national stand. If this was not enough, he threatened her that he would not tolerate her stance. While all this was happening, the organisers of the show stayed mum and made no move to pacify the man who was threatening the singer.

It was only when Shubha’s husband and tabla maestro Aneesh Pradhan came and other artistes protested that security was called in to ensure peace and order. The report adds that the man had lost all control. He was also protesting against her performing in the temple. It may be pointed out that Shubha, along with a host of other Bollywood stars, had signed an appeal to fellow Indians to choose secular candidates during the general elections that were held in April-May in India.


[Back to Top]

Communal clash near Gurgaon injures 15 (Jun 9, 2014, Times of India)

The death of a man in an accident triggered communal riots on Sunday in Tauru, a town just 32km from Gurgaon, leaving at least 15 people injured. In the violence that began in the morning and continued for over four hours, past noon, rioting mobs fired at each other and plundered and vandalized shops and vehicles. The violence was reined in only after the administration put the area under curfew and three companies each of the CRPF and BSF were rushed to the area. …

The area where the rioting took place comes under the Gurgaon parliamentary constituency. Local residents claimed at least three people died and several others sustained critical injuries but police insisted only the accident victim had died and the rioting did not claim any lives. Sukhbir Singh, a DSP, and several Mewat police personnel were also injured in the violence.

Eyewitnesses said a delayed reaction by the police allowed violence to flare, alleging local cops were present at the accident site when members of one community opened fire on another but they only watched, as they were helplessly outnumbered. The accident site, on Pataudi Road, is less than a kilometer from the local police station. …


[Back to Top]

Gangrape: Badaun SP suspended, 66 IAS, 42 IPS officers transferred (Jun 7, 2014, Financial Express)

Under attack over the gangrape and murder of two Dalit cousin sisters, the Akhilesh Yadav government today suspended Badaun SP, decided to take action against then District magistrate and undertook a massive rejig involving 66 IAS and 42 IPS officers. Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan, who faced a volley of questions from reporters here, said several facts have emerged in the Badaun incident and it would have been better if the administration had acted promptly.

“SP Badaun (Atul Saxena) has been suspended and decision has been taken to take action against the then district magistrate (Chandra Prakash). The new DM has taken charge only two days back,” he said. L R Kumar, SP (law and order) DGP headquarters, has been posted as new SP of Badaun district. The decision to crack the whip was taken at a meeting convened by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and attended by Principal Secretary (Home) Deepak Sighal and DGP A L Banerjee. …

The UP government had recommended a CBI inquiry into the incident. The state government carried out a major administrative reshuffle transferring 66 IAS officers, including several ditrict magistrates. Among those moved out are DMs of Agra, Bareilly, Maharajganj, Chitrakoot, Mathura, Hamirpur, Deoria, Mau, Lalitpur, Jhansi, Auraiya and Kanpur. 42 IPS officers, including IGs, DIGs and district police chiefs, were also transferred.


[Back to Top]

Two UP police constables arrested for raping minor in Sambhal (Jun 10, 2014, Deccan Herald)

Police constables Lokendra Singh and Devraj, who were accused of rape, were arrested late last night and have been suspended, Additional Superintendent of Police V K Mishra said, adding that the matter is being investigated and the girl would be recovered soon.

The two policemen have been charged with allegedly threatening and raping the girl since the past several months. The victim’s mother had complained that Devraj and Lokendra posted in Bahjoi police station area had been terrorising and raping her daughter since the past four months, ASP Mishra had said.

The mother had stated that her daughter had gone missing since Sunday, he said, adding that an FIR was lodged.


[Back to Top]

Dalit beaten till he can’t walk, no arrests made (Jun 9, 2014, Pune Mirror)

In a case of violent casteism, a 40- year-old Dalit man was brutally attacked in broad daylight on May 22, in the Yavat village on Pune- Solapur Highway, Daund taluka, around 60 km from Pune. Shockingly, though Pradip Shivram Kadam, a resident of Kadam Wasti, has lost function in both his legs in the attack and is still in hospital, Yavat police have still made no arrests in the case, over the past 17 days.

Police had earlier registered an FIR against accused Aaba Pralhad Dorge and four accomplices under Section 307 (Attempt to murder) of the IPC. According to cops, on the night of May 21, Kadam and Dorge were involved in a minor road accident on their twowheelers, which led to a heated argument. Though villagers intervened and resolved the matter, Dorge was in no mood to forget. Around 11 pm, he and his associates reached Kadam’s house and started hurling abuses.

They also threatened to torch the houses of all Dalit residents. Afraid of what would follow, residents called other community members and the threatening squad was taken away. Pradip’s cousin Ashok told Mirror, “We resolved the matter amicably and thought that was the end of it. But the next day, my brother was headed to work, and stopped at a tea stall on the way around 9.30 am. Suddenly, a group of five led by Dorge came on motorcycles and assaulted him. He ran away but they chased him and beat him with iron rods. …


[Back to Top]

Opinions and Editorials

The Ehsan Jafri Case: Modi’s Banquo Ghost – By Ravi Nair (Jun 14, 2014, EPW)

Narendra Damodardas Modi’s destination may have been very different if the Indian criminal justice system had met the standards of more robust democratic legal systems that make strict adherence to due process and timely delivery of justice an article of faith and everyday practice.

Nothing exemplifies this more than the handling of the case of the murder of Ehsan Jafri, former Member of Parliament (MP) who was hacked to death alongwith many others in the Gulberg society in the Chamanpura suburb of Ahmedabad. The case is brilliantly etched out in the report by the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School, When Justice Becomes the Victim – The Quest for Justice After the 2002 Violence in Gujarat (2014).

The report should not be read as one more on the killings in Gujarat, rather it should be read as an indictment of the Indian lower judiciary (with honourable exceptions) at the point that it comes into contact with the citizen, most often, in the lower courts. The issue of shoddy or motivated police investigations, the lack of independence or the very competency of the prosecutors in many cases, the issue of official immunity, the nefarious role of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) all come into play. The failure to prosecute IB officials, the issue of reparation, witness protection and the fate of the Communal Violence Bill, all tell their own tale.

Most media stories on the Stanford report dwell on only one of its findings related to the abysmally low conviction rate in the riot cases of Gujarat 2002 compared to the national rate of convictions in riot related cases. In the Jafri case it is not the accused that are on trial but the Indian criminal justice system. The relevant portions of the Stanford report need full reiteration. …


[Back to Top]

Irony And Steel – By Namrata Joshi (Jun 16, 2014, Outlook)

There’s a chilling scene in Canadian filmmaker Nisha Pahuja’s documentary The World Before Her. Prachi Trivedi, a brawny, bushy-browed counseller with Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), talks about being beaten with a hot iron rod by her father. There is a fiery rebellion in her eyes, yet, eerily, a gratefulness. “Knowing I’m a girl child, he let me live,” she says. “In a traditional family, people don’t let a girl child live….” Juxtaposed against her story is that of Pooja Chopra, winner of the 2009 Miss India pageant. Pooja’s mother left her father when he said he didn’t want another daughter. Pahuja’s film alternates between polar opposites: the ‘aspirational’ world of beauty pagea¬nts and that of the Durga Vahini. Two dubious means of empowering women.

The 2012 documentary, finally releasing in India this week, focuses on two young women taking part in two very different training camps—Prachi at the Durga Vahini’s camp, and Jaipur girl Ruhi Singh in a run-up to the Miss India contest. What makes the film arresting is the rare peep it offers into the Durga Vahini, established in 1991 by Sadhvi Rithambhara. It’s the first time a Durga Vahini camp has been filmed, and it took Pahuja close to two years to convince the VHP. Says Pahuja, “On the first day, someone objected, but relented with restrictions. We weren’t allowed to film certain sessions.”

This rare footage is the soul of the film. Teenaged girls being made “spi¬ritually and physically saksham (capable)” to fight threats to their culture; learning martial arts and shooting to safeguard ‘Hindu values’—while being told of the essential “weakness” of women. Some complex characters open up fascinatingly. For example, Prachi doesn’t want to marry, but her father believes she must for religious reasons. The way she argues with him shows even the most indoctrinated are capable of raising questions and thinking through issues. Prachi now lives away from her family and works in a legal firm but still believes in the Durga Vahini’s tenets. Contrasts like this make Pahuja’s film fascinating. “But it’s not contradictory for Prachi,” says Pahuja. “The dualities coexist in her. She’s comfortable with them.” …


[Back to Top]

How is the ‘Hindu perspective’ of history different from the Indian one? – By Parth MN (Jun 6, 2014, DNA India)

In 1991, the BJP, for the first time, assumed power in Uttar Pradesh after the polarising Rath Yatra and the Babri Masjid campaign. The education ministry was given to Rajnath Singh and he decided to rewrite history texts and incorporated Vedic mathematics into the syllabus. …

Now we are in 2014. 80-year-old Joshi has been sidelined. However, new HRD minister Smiri Irani, who is merely 38 years old, seems to be following in Joshi’s footsteps. As HRD minister, she has announced plans to give a “Hindu perspective” to school curriculum. It is reported she is “keen” to include “ancient Hindu texts” in the syllabus for classes 8-10. According to media reports, officials have been told to build up a syllabus which summarises the glories of Hindu “golden age”.

This merely seems like an attempt to carry forward Joshi’s unfinished business. When I was in school, eight years ago, we studied how Maratha king Shivaji took on the Mughals. However, the fundamental problem with it was that the conflict was, directly or indirectly, insinuated as one between Hindus and Muslims, not as a battle between two kingdoms. Very few knew that there were 35% Muslims in Shivaji’s army. In a fragile and influential age, these things do leave a stamp. The seeds of anti-Muslim sentiment, if not sown, were definitely nurtured amongst my classmates.

Now, with directly glorifying and highlighting Hinduism, there is a chance of concealing a few dark spots in the history of Hinduism. Presentation of partial truths and distortion of history cannot be ruled out, and thereby, we risk our students growing up like Dhananjay Desai, the chief of the Hindu Rashtra Sena.

There is no problem exposing students to world views that may widen their horizons, but presenting a counter view is equally important. However, emphasis on one particular religion is clearly a sign of a majoritarian government. In all his speeches, Narendra Modi harped upon development and inclusiveness. There were talks of Modi neglecting RSS pressure and moving away from the idea of Hindutva. But the trend suggests Nagpur might be the BJP’s 10 Janpath. This move has RSS, not Modi, written all over it. If at all there ever was a difference between the two.…


[Back to Top]

Centre must make sure Pune murderers pay the price – Editorial (Jun 5, 2014, Hindustan Times)

It could not get more frightening or uglier. A Facebook post could cost the life of an innocent person in as cosmopolitan a place as Pune. A young Muslim techie was attacked and beaten to death after someone else put up an FB post allegedly derogatory to the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and the Maratha warrior king Shivaji. Mohsin Mohammed Sadique Shaikh had nothing to do with this, yet the goons from a Hindu extremist outfit thought nothing of murdering him. Not content with this appalling violence, the alleged killers then exchanged sickening messages saying “Pahili wicket padli” (the first wicket has fallen).

This suggests that these criminals are under the impression that they are in some sort of position of power and can do pretty much what they like to the minorities. The police have arrested a number of persons in connection with the murder and seven have been charged. But the crux of the matter is that the goons, allegedly from the Hindu Rashtra Sena, acted with no fear of the law. If they had any misplaced sense of confidence that they could act like this since a Hindu nationalist party was in power at the Centre in alliance with the Shiv Sena, they must be disabused of this notion immediately.

The new government has declared that it would treat everyone equitably. This then calls for the strongest condemnation of this crime from the highest quarter. Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who made a special effort to reach out to the Muslims during the election campaign, must put pressure on the state administration to make sure that justice is done.

And most definitely, the chief of the Hindu Rashtra Sena, a man who has many criminal charges against him and who has also been arrested, must be held accountable for the excesses of his men. If the State does not step in and make it clear that it absolutely does not condone such violence in the name of misplaced sentiment, whether religious or political, other miscreants may follow suit. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray should make it clear that no one is a self-styled defender of his father’s name and roundly denounce such acts.

The new government has enough on its plate without having to deal with such acts of intolerance. Narendra Modi’s campaign has been all about development and inclusiveness. Communalism has no place in today’s India and it must be nipped in the bud when it raises its head. The certainty and severity of punishment will dampen the enthusiasm of such goons who think that they are the self-appointed custodians of social propriety.


[Back to Top]

No tolerance for hate crimes – Editorial (Jun 7, 2014, The Hindu)

Nothing puts to test the strength of India’s secular, social fabric as a hate crime does. The horrific murder of Mohsin Shaikh, an IT professional in Pune, by a group of youngsters owing allegiance to the Hindu Rashtra Sena, is a reminder of how a post-election feeling of triumphalism can feed a climate of lawlessness among the fanatic fringe elements of Hindutva groups. Shaikh gave no cause for provocation, but was targeted merely because he was a Muslim. The attack followed rumours that a Shivaji statue was stoned, and came in the context of rising communal tensions after the circulation in the social media of morphed pictures of Shivaji, and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

Clearly, the Hindutva elements were looking for a prey, and Shaikh happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hate crimes have a way of spreading and multiplying in the absence of speedy intervention by the state. The onus is therefore on those in power to act swiftly against such attacks and erase the impression that those involved in the crimes would be protected from the legal consequences of their actions. But shockingly, sections of the Bharatiya Janata Party have sought to rationalise the attack. The BJP Member of Parliament from Pune, Anil Shirole, spoke of how “some amount of repercussions” after the posts on social media was “natural”. Instead of distancing the party and the government from such attacks, Mr. Shirole seems to have done just the opposite.

The BJP as the ruling party must send out a clear message that law and order is its top priority and that it is opposed to any kind of criminal behaviour in the name of religion. Otherwise, the government it heads will have difficulty instilling confidence in the people, and religious minorities will remain insecure. Worse, it could encourage other fringe outfits operating on the lines of the Hindu Rashtra Sena to continue to target minorities as part of a larger plan of religious polarisation and Hindu consolidation. Earlier governments led by the BJP had kept the most contentious and divisive issues on the backburner as the party needed the support of allied secular parties.

The party will now have to demonstrate its ability to transform itself into a responsible party of governance, from the ranks of a belligerent opposition. There can be no room for triumphalism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first few days in government, has already shown he has the ability to rise above his own past record. If he wants to erase the shadow of the 2002 events, his government will have to be firm in its actions against hate crimes.


[Back to Top]

Rape: Crime is not afraid of punishment – Editorial (Jun 6, 2014, Asian Age)

The alarming rise in the incidence of brutal attacks on women involving rape as well as murder is causing a global outrage. The scenario is hardly complimentary to a country that boasts of an ancient civilisation with a history of a healthy respect for women and an understanding of the role of sex in relationships between the sexes. While the Army is out fighting militants who gunned down a woman in Meghalaya for resisting their attempts to assault her, a horrendous sequence of events in Uttar Pradesh over the last week has shaken the world.

The gang rape and murder of two teenage cousins who were left hanging from a tree in UP and the police investigation into the attempted rape of a woman judge in Aligarh are symptomatic of how everyday life has deteriorated in the country’s most populous state. Beyond the brutal incidents that are shaking the very foundations of civilised society is the cynical official attitude of the father and son who lead the ruling Samajwadi Party.

The veteran politician Mulayam Singh Yadav, who once nursed ambitions of becoming Prime Minister, made a way too flippant remark about “boys will be boys”, which United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon picked up to convey the organisation’s grave concerns. The men in power should know well that an atavistic, chauvinistic and feudal outlook is not going to help shape the rigorous response to the problem.

The impact on tourism is bound to be deleterious, particularly after the media has taken up the issue to be highlighted as our treatment of women challenges the most basic tenets of life and impinges on the psyche of close to half the population, which must be left worrying every day about personal safety. By pointing to how a Google search would bring up incidents like those in UP from around the country, the chief minister of the state is playing the classic ostrich in the sand. The problem is so serious that facetious deflection or dismissal serves no purpose.

The December 2012 gang rape changed India forever. The subsequent toughening of the laws to impose the death penalty for repeat offenders was meant to signal a clear intent on the part of society and official India. Capital punishment has already been pronounced in cases of gang rape in Mumbai. It might appear that the laws are still not deterrent enough, but what we would advocate is persistent application of stringent laws to bring offenders to book. There is no other way but to arm the judiciary with stringent laws and empower the police to crack down on offenders in exemplary fashion to leave a message to intending rapists.


[Back to Top]


IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 26th, 2014

by newsdigest on May 27, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


All Indians need to be vigilant in safeguarding secularism say Indian Americans

Muslim community urged to work towards development and pursuit of justice

May 26, 2014

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC –, an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has called on all Indians to be vigilant in safeguarding the secular institutions under the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) administration. It has also urged the Muslim community to utilize the democratic institutions to secure their constitutional rights and work towards strengthening the secular pillars of the nation.

BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), the primary constituent of NDA, scored a simple majority in the recently concluded elections on the plank of development and good governance. Its vote share of 31% however, is a reflection of the electorate’s continued rejection of the Hindutva ideology, which BJP has espoused throughout its history.

On the occasion of the swearing-in of the new government, Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC remarked, “We should respect the decision of the voters, but work to counter the influence of Hindutva that seeks to relegate the minorities to second class citizens. Several factors including the alliance’s promise of economic growth and development contributed to their victory. However it does not mean that the masses have abandoned the pluralist ethos.”

“Ideological swings in elections is part and parcel of a democratic system, but the struggle for justice and for upholding constitutional guarantees goes beyond the results of any one election. While sincerity towards secular principles varies between the different political parties, the need for the populace to hold every elected leader accountable for upholding equality before the law of all citizens is always present,” Shaheen Khateeb, a former President of the organization commented.

IAMC urges the community and its leadership to move beyond the election results and focus on the upliftment of the community by getting more creative and resilient in the face of the odds. “The BJP can become an inclusive people’s party if it distances itself from the fountainhead of Hindutva, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). On the other hand, they will be successful in furthering the RSS agenda only if civil society does not challenge their actions. The Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights to all citizens and the democratic institutions of the country should be utilized to ensure it remains that way. Muslims, as the largest minority in the country, ought to be leading the way in defending human rights and religious freedom for all citizens,” Ahsan Khan exhorted.

Khalid Ansari, Vice-President of the organization said, “I have a simple message for Muslims: Stay optimistic and forward looking. The solutions to the challenges facing the community can and should be addressed by using available opportunities and creating new avenues. Be vigilant and positive to prevent the youth from getting radicalized. Demand your rights and fully participate in the development of the nation as equal citizens. Be relentless in the pursuit of justice for all the aggrieved and disadvantaged sections of society. IAMC will support all initiatives of the Muslim leadership in India to develop a comprehensive roadmap for the upliftment of the community.”

Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information, please visit


Ishaq Syed
phone: 1-800-839-7270
address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.


1. Will Modi be a prime minister for all Indians?
2. VHP’s wishlist for Modi ranges from Ram Mandir to law on cow slaughter
3. Preserve the Idea of India

4. In ‘PM Modi’, Muslim clerics repose guarded faith, seek secular leader

5. What Indians expect from PM Modi

Forward email

[Back to Top]

The SC release of Akshardham suspects raises questions about PM Modi (May 21, 2014, First Post)

On 16 May as election results poured in and it was evident that BJP under its PM candidate Narendra Modi would form the next government, it was also the day when the Supreme Court acquitted all six convicts, including three condemned prisoners in 2002 Akshardham temple attack case. India’s top court also pulled up the Gujarat Police for shoddy investigation in the case in which all the accused faced prosecution under the stringent anti-terror law POTA.

The court also came down sharply on the Home Minister of Gujarat – Narendra Modi himself – and blamed him for “clear non-application of mind…in granting sanction,” since it was based neither on an informed decision nor on an independent analysis of facts….”

Now the men who were accused and picked up by the Gujarat police have come out to speak against their persecution.…


[Back to Top]

‘They asked me to choose: Godhra, Pandya or Akshardham’ (May 21, 2014, Indian Express)

Gujarat Police gave him the “choice” of being implicated in the Godhra train burning, Haren Pandya murder and Akshardham terror, one of the men acquitted by the Supreme Court in the temple attack case alleged on Tuesday. Mohammed Saleem was eventually sentenced to life under POTA for involvement in the Akshardham case. On May 16, the day Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi won his historic mandate, the Supreme Court set Saleem and five others free, pulling up the Gujarat Police for framing innocent people, and blaming the then home minister – Modi – for “non-application of mind”. Four of the six men had already spent over 10 years in jail.

“I had been working in Saudi Arabia for 13 years, when they picked me up alleging there was a problem with my passport. They beat me brutally – I still have scars on my back, and I suffered a fracture in my foot. They asked me which case I wanted to be charged under – Akshardham, Haren Pandya or Godhra. I did not know what to say,” Saleem told a press conference addressed by five of the six men in Delhi. Saleem’s daughter was born four months after his arrest. He picked her up in his arms for the first time only after his release – the child is 10 years old now.

The world of Abdul Qaiyum Muftisaab Mohammed Bhai alias Mufti Abdul Qaiyum has changed completely in the 11 years that he spent in jail. His father is dead, and his family no longer lives in their old home. His acquittal by the Supreme Court, Qaiyum said, was “mere release from prison; justice had been buried at every moment in these 11 years”.

Qaiyum said the main charge against him was that two letters recovered from the two fidayeen killed in the terror attack had been written by him. He was framed, Qaiyum alleged.…


[Back to Top]

Goa professional booked for anti-Modi post, people call it an attempt to muzzle free speech (May 25, 2014, IBN)

There have been protests outside the Goa Police headquarters after young shipping professional Devu Chodankar was booked for his Facebook post on Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi. Many even alleged that this was an attempt to muzzle free speech. A protestor said, “Prosecution has certainly not done right by curbing the expression of free speech by trying to arrest somebody.”

In a post on March 23, Chodankar had said if Modi comes to power, he would unleash a ‘holocaust’, a post that the police claimed was later deleted. He has been booked under the contentious section 66A of the IT Act along with sections of 153(A) and 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code. The FIR was registered by former chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries Atul Pai Kane.

But Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar maintained that steps were taken in accordance with law. Parrikar said, “The case has been filed according to the direction of the Supreme Court. The police is bound to file a case when it is a cognizable offence. An inquiry is being conducted. I have told the police to take action as per law.”

Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat condemned the incident. He said, “We condemn this. This is Hitler model of government. We warn that the Congress party is not going to keep quite.” Fearing an arrest, Chodankar had approached a local court but his anticipatory bail was rejected. He is now likely to approach the High Court. Meanwhile, Goa Police maintained that the comments do qualify for cognizable offence. But many still questioning the need for custodial interrogation.…


[Back to Top]

Pravin Togadia’s hate speech: Despite FIR, no action (May 21, 2014, Times of India)

A month after a first information report (FIR) was registered against Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia for an alleged hate speech, Bhavnagar police seem to be in no hurry to expedite legal proceedings in the matter.

Togadia was booked for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration and disobedience of an order duly promulgated by public servant following an order from Election Commission of India (ECI).

He had allegedly asked a group of residents to forcibly evict a Muslim individual, who had bought a house in a predominantly Hindu area of Bhavnagar. TOI was the first to report Togadia’s hate speech delivered in Bhavnagar. Sources said there has been no significant progress in the investigations in this case even after a month of the FIR being lodged.

The police are still in the process of taking statements of local residents who attended the function chaired by Togadia where he delivered his speech. When contacted deputy superintendent of police, Bhavnagar city, R I Patel said the investigation is on and the police have sent video footages of Togadia to Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) for verification.

On being asked whether the police have issued any summons to Togadia, Patel said, “The case requires ‘deep’ investigation and it will take time.” Meanwhile, VHP workers in Bhavnagar have carried out a series of protests outside the house in question purchased by the Muslim businessman. The police have enhanced security in the area to avoid any untoward incident.


[Back to Top]

Muzaffarnagar under tight security after Darul Uloom student dies of bullet injuries (May 26, 2014, Indian Express)

Security was beefed up in the communally sensitive Muzaffarnagar after a student of Darul Uloom Deoband, who was shot at by unidentified gunmen, succumbed to his injuries at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital, the police said.

Mohd Mubarik, one of the two students who were shot at by the motorbike-borne criminals near Barla village on May 23, succumbed to his injuries at Safdarjung hospital on Saturday night while another student Abu Azmi was undergoing treatment, SP crime Rakesh Kumar Jolly told reporters here.

Leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband condemned the incident and demanded immediate arrest of the accused. Meanwhile, security was tightened in the district in view of tension over the incident. Police also launched a hunt to nab the culprits.


[Back to Top]

Malegaon blasts: Maharashtra govt denied permission to prosecute policemen, CBI tells Indore court (May 23, 2014, IBN)

The CBI, which probed the mysterious disappearance of Dilip Patidar, a witness in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, on Thursday filed a report before the court in Indore, recommending closure of the case as Maharashtra authorities did not give permission to prosecute two accused officers. The 17-page report, filed before the CBI Magistrate Raghvendra Singh Chouhan, stated that Maharashtra government did not give permission to prosecute inspector Rajendra Dhule and assistant sub-inspector Ramesh More of the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).

According to CBI, Dhule and More abducted Patidar and kept him in illegal custody so that they can force him to confess to few things related to the blast in Malegaon. They prepared fake documents to shield themselves, the report adds. For the want of sanction to prosecute them from the state government, CBI could not arrest the duo.

CBI had filed a case against Dhule and More under sections 120B (conspiracy), 348 (wrongful confinement to extort confession), 365 (kidnapping), 193 (false evidence), and 218 (preparing false record) of the IPC. According to the report, Mumbai ATS took Patidar from Indore on November 10-11, 2008 for questioning, and since then he is missing. He was kept in illegal custody, without producing him before the court, even when he was ready to record his statement before the court, CBI says.

Patidar was a tenant of Ramchandra Kalsangra, an accused in Samjhauta Express blast case and other terror-related cases. ATS was hoping that it might get some clues about Kalsangra through Patidar. Patidar’s brother Ramswaroop had moved the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, demanding CBI probe. ATS had told the HC that Patidar went to Mumbai on his own to record his statement. He was asked to bring proof of his identification and he left the ATS office on November 18, 2008, never to return.


[Back to Top]

Mumbai CBI court to hear fake encounter cases involving Amit Shah (May 21, 2014, Economic Times)

Amit Shah’s phenomenal success as the architect of BJP’s sweep in Uttar Pradesh and the cementing of his image as Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi’s righthand man has put the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a tricky situation as the lead probe agency has to convince a court to frame charges against him for his alleged involvement in three staged killings.

BJP has long maintained that these cases are politically motivated. Shah is supposed to appear before a Special CBI court in Mumbai on May 23 which will decide whether to frame charges against him for his involvement in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati. Shah, in March, had filed an application in court saying he should be discharged from the case as there is no substantive evidence against him.

A top CBI official told ET on Tuesday that CBI has recently filed a reply opposing Shah’s application, which reiterated that it has enough prosecutable evidence against Shah. “We have filed a reply saying Shah’s plea for discharge should be dismissed….we have to back our chargesheet against him. The court has to now decide on whether to discharge Shah or frame murder charges against him,” the CBI official said on the condition of anonymity.

CBI officials conceded that the matter was becoming “uncomfortable” for the agency given Shah’s crucial role in the new political dispensation “CBI is set to start oral arguments in court opposing Shah’s discharge application and stressing why he has a major role in all three killings. …


[Back to Top]

ABVP members disrupt meet on DU prof arrest (May 25, 2014, Times of India)

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members on Saturday allegedly ransacked the venue of a seminar organized at A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies to discuss the arrest of a Delhi University professor for his alleged links with Maoists.

The organizers, in a press note, said, “A group of ABVP activists shouting slogans like ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ forcibly entered the seminar room and damaged property of the institute.” The seminar was organized to discuss the arrest of G N Saibaba, a professor at Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi who was arrested on May 9 by the Maharashtra police.

Patna SSP Manu Maharaaj said a case was lodged in connection with the incident with the Gandhi Maidan police station. The police would take action against those involved in the vandalism.


[Back to Top]

Inside court room, lawyers attack friend of Northeast woman who alleged molestation (May 24, 2014, Financial Express)

A group of lawyers allegedly assaulted the friend of a woman, who had filed a molestation complaint against an advocate, at the Tis Hazari court on Friday. According to police, the 38-year-old woman, who hails from Nagaland, had lodged a police complaint claiming that a lawyer had molested and slapped her outside the Vishwavidyalaya Metro station in North Delhi on Thursday night.

On Friday afternoon, when the accused lawyer, Inder Narayan, was produced before a magistrate at the Tis Hazari court, a group of lawyers allegedly assaulted the victim’s friend, who is also from the Northeast, inside the court room. Narayan has been given bail in the molestation case.

According to police, on Thursday night, the woman was returning home when Narayan allegedly passed lewd remarks. The victim told police that when she protested, Narayan slapped her. “First he passed some comments about me and when I objected, he came close and molested me. I raised the alarm. Passers-by near the Metro station station came to my help and nabbed him. He was later handed over to the local police,” the victim said.

On Friday afternoon, the woman came to the court accompanied by her lawyers and friends. One of her friends, J Mavio Woba, a student activist, was allegedly slapped by a lawyer inside the court room. Other lawyers also assaulted Mavio claiming that Narayan was being framed. The court staff immediately called the Inspector in-charge of the Tis Hazari police chowki. A police team came and led the woman and her friends out of the court. Her statement was recorded in the magistrate’s chamber.

Advocate Dmitry, counsel of the woman, said, “The lawyers were unruly and violent. They even tore the shirt of the investigating officer. Police advised us not to aggravate the situation by insisting on a complaint against them on the court premises. It was good advice as the lawyers were about 20-30 in number and were getting violent. They threw ink on the files of the investigating officer and tore his shirt. The IO was rescued by us and we left through the rear gate.” …


[Back to Top]

Cops face court’s ire for releasing dowry case accused (May 23, 2014, Hindustan Times)

The cops posted at Sarabha Nagar police station faced the ire of a local court on Friday for releasing a dowry harassment accused in a case lodged by Sonia Heera, daughter of senior Akali leader Malkit Singh Birmi. The court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Ranjeev Kumar on Friday recommended stringent action against the investigation officer sub-inspector Navdeep Singh. The court also issued non-bailable warrants against all accused named in the FIR. The court has also asked the police to depute an inspector-level officer to investigate the matter and report the developments to the court on weekly basis.

Sonia, through her counsel Harpreet Sandhu, had moved application against the police officials that set her husband Maninder Singh Heera free without producing him before a court. In the orders, the CJM said the court was not satisfied with the investigation into the case. An FIT in the said case was registered only after senior police officials had done a detailed probe and found Maninder Heera prima facie guilty. Maninder was arrested by Ludhiana police and set free without even producing him before a court.

Harpreet Sandu said that the orders also stated that the complainant was at liberty to approach to the commissioner of police, Ludhiana, for appropriate administrative action against the erring cops for not performing their duty in a satisfactory manner. The case has been adjourned to July 5.

It is pertinent to mention that in an application submitted in the court regarding non-production of the accused before the court, the complainant stated that on May 20, a police party from Sarabha Nagar police, headed by sub-inspector Navdeep Singh went to Amritsar and apprehended one of the dowry harassment accused, Maninder Singh Heera, from Heera farm house, Ajnala Road, Amritsar. The police also recovered a Chevrolet Cruze and certain dowry articles from the spot. But instead of producing the accused in the court, the investigating officer released him against any such provision under the law.


[Back to Top]

Opinions and Editorials

Modi’s Obligation to Justice – Editorial (May 20, 2014, New York Times)

With the strongest mandate of any incoming government in India in 30 years, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime minister-designate, Narendra Modi, has a historic opportunity to shape the country’s future. Many Indians, and many of India’s friends, are eager to move forward with Mr. Modi. It is time, they say, to forget his troubling past, when he was associated with deadly riots in his home state of Gujarat that killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.

Unfortunately, there are several factors that will keep that past alive and hinder the ability of the new government to deliver on its economic promises. One is Mr. Modi’s unapologetic allegiance to the Hindu political right. On the day after the election results were announced, Mr. Modi made a symbolically charged trip to Varanasi, the Hindu holy city on the banks of the Ganges. This pilgrimage – where Mr. Modi vowed to take on the “dirty work” he said was his God-given purpose in life – sent one signal to his supporters on the Hindu political right, and a very different message to Muslims.

Mr. Modi needs now to offer a powerful balancing message by acting promptly to end the neglect of nearly 4,000 Muslim families displaced by the 2002 riots and now living in 86 settlements in Gujarat. A U.S. State Department report states that 30 percent of these victims have yet to receive any aid at all. Though Mr. Modi boasts of infrastructure development in Gujarat, these camps lack drinking water, power and sanitation.

The new government should also demonstrate its commitment to a fair and effective judiciary. There are still cases related to the 2002 riots wending their way through courts. Mr. Modi must guard against even the appearance of meddling with the judiciary, including the Supreme Court. Ensuring impartial, speedy and certain justice for all of India’s citizens would do much to inspire confidence across the board in his new government, and to strengthen the democratic foundation of the country’s future.


[Back to Top]

Will Modi be a prime minister for all Indians? – By Doug Bandow (May 23, 2014, OC Register)

For years, India has disappointed expectations. Tagged as the next great power preparing to challenge China and, eventually, America, India, instead, has lagged economically, stagnated politically, and battled religiously. Now, Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has won a stunning political victory. India’s future depends on Modi’s ability to transcend his sectarian roots and govern on behalf of all Indians.

Throughout the Cold War, the Delhi government kept its people poor by mismanaging the economy. Politics was dominated by the dynastic India National Congress Party. Eventually the Congress Party began economic reforms, and the BJP broke the Congress political monopoly. Of particular concern is the government’s inability or unwillingness to combat religious violence and prosecute those responsible.

Explained the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom: “India has struggled to protect minority communities or provide justice when crimes occur due to a lack of political will, political corruption, and religious bias by government officials.” Much violence occurs between the two largest groups, Hindus and Muslims, but other religious minorities also are targeted. In 2007-08, in the state of Odisha (formerly known as Orissa), rioting Hindus murdered scores of Christians, forced thousands to flee, and destroyed many homes and churches.

Unfortunately, Modi was implicated in one of the country’s worst episodes of sectarian violence. In 2002, in the state of Gujarat, in which Modi served as chief minister, Hindu rioters killed more than 1,200 people, mostly Muslims, and forced 150,000 people from their homes. Critics charged Modi with both encouraging the violence and failing to stop it. Modi was absolved of responsibility, though prosecutors may not have looked very hard. He defends his conduct, saying he only wishes he had handled the media better.

However, Modi has ridden a sectarian tide to power. He graduated to the BJP from the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (“National Volunteer Society”), which he joined in his youth. He denounced Muslims early in his career and a number of his closest associates are pronounced Hindu nationalists. … Modi has a historic opportunity. His government will be the first in years to enjoy a solid majority in the Lok Sabha, or lower house. The people he will represent are both entrepreneurial and impatient, demanding the chance to better their lives. The Indian people need more opportunity, not more dependency. The choice soon will be up to Narendra Modi. Much around the globe depends on what he decides.


[Back to Top]

Cosmetic Journalism – By Monobina Gupta (May 31, 2014, EPW)

It was the day Arvind Kejriwal staged his stunning roadshow in Goduliya Chowk, Varanasi’s swarming nerve centre where crowds jostled shoulder-to-shoulder every evening. Prior to that spectacular event, I had spent time with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) activists campaigning in the maze of lanes and by-lanes of Onkaaleshwar. As we urged the residents to join the public rally, one of them walked up to me. “Can I ask you a question?” he asked. I smiled and nodded. “Media hamare programmes kuchch nahin dikha rahi hain. Aisa kyon hain?” (The media has not been covering all our programmes. Why is that so?) Just hours before, I had been chatting with AAP’s campaign team from Gujarat and Maharashtra. Bewildered and resentful, they too pitched the same question to me.

On the other side of the barricade, leaders of the Sangh Parivar could not compliment the media enough for its “stellar” role in the 2014 election campaign. At Ayodhya’s Karsevak Sangh, I met Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders who heaped lavish praise on the media for doing such an excellent job of projecting Modi in the high-voltage elections. Why was the media – particularly visual/electronic outlets (with print not far behind) – so one-sided in the 2014 elections? Why was the AAP campaign ignored even as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s every speech was reported ad nauseam, his visage dominating every camera frame? Full front-page advertisements heralding Modi’s imminent arrival at 7, Race Course Road ran for weeks in every important daily during the prolonged nine-phased elections.

Flush with money – sourced from industrialists and the stock market alike – parties like the BJP successfully bought up news time and space. For parties with thin pockets it was a hard political summer. Consider the visibility of regional parties like the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (United), each one a stalwart in its own right. Their campaigns received scant attention in the media. The Congress too was given short shrift from time to time. The treatment meted out in TV interviews to the two top contending faces of the elections – Rahul Gandhi and Modi – was discriminatory, if not outright biased.

The 2014 election campaign has raised disturbing questions about the direction the media is taking, about its complicity in making and unmaking leaders, and about the patterns of ownership of media organisations. Can journalists function autonomously in organisations whose major stakeholders are corporate giants or feudal families? If the primary objective of media houses is maximising profits or if the media is just one of several businesses run by industrialists who could well be simultaneously selling cement or tyres, how can journalism differentiate itself from the cosmetics or lingerie industry? Regional political parties like the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) and Trinamool Congress own media houses too, which propagate their politics and leaders. In such a situation, the very idea of objectivity in the media seems to be a myth. Perhaps we should begin by acknowledging that truism.

Contemporary media in India is awash with a culture of consumerism. In their pursuit of consumers who will devour their print and visual products, media organisations are desperate to undercut each other. It’s the job of editors and reporters to simplify and homogenise the product, to even out rough edges (read: complexities), and to make information easily “consumable”. It is thus simpler to construct myths like the “unblemished Modi development model” rather than decode it historically, economically or socially. …


[Back to Top]

Searing indictment by Supreme Court – By ET Bureau (May 22, 2014, Economic Times)

On 16 May, the Supreme Court set aside a judgment of the Gujarat High Court and its preceding POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) Special Court to acquit six people who, the Court found, had been framed by the Gujarat police’s Crime Branch for the 2002 attack on the Akshardham Temple.

It is sheer irony that it now falls to Narendra Modi, the then-Gujarat home minister who, according to the Court, sanctioned the prosecution without applying his mind, to ensure, in his capacity as the new prime minister of the land, that such miscarriage of justice is penalised and prevented. Facile prosecutions in terror cases wreck innocent lives and deracinate the constitutional promise of secularism and fairness. The judiciary and the executive must work in tandem to ensure that such miscarriage of justice never takes place again.

The Akshardham attack killed 33 people and grievously injured 86 others. While the terrorists who carried out the attack were killed by security forces, all those involved in the heinous crime needed to be brought to book. The Anti-Terrorism Squad failed to identify anyone for about 11 months, after which the case was transferred to the Crime Branch.

Instead of finding the guilty, the Crime Branch, within one day, arrested five Muslims, implicated one more and foisted cases on the six, fabricated evidence, tortured the accused and extracted confessions. The special court and the high court readily took the evidence presented before them at face value and convicted the accused, sentencing three of them to death, two to life imprisonment and one to 10 years.

Such show of investigative efficiency by the police is by no means the monopoly of Gujarat. Congress-ruled Maharashtra has several such excesses to its credit. The point is not to score political points but to put this barbaric, illegal practice of colonial vintage behind us, once and for all. If the new government at the Centre could take the lead in reforming the police and the lower judiciary, that would do more to advance the cause of secularism and justice than any amount of sloganeering.


[Back to Top]

Can NaMo Do A Harper ? Yesterday Mahel Arar, Today Akshardham Six! – By Subhash Gatade (May 27, 2014, Countercurrents)

How many people remember today Canadian-Syrian Mahel Arar, a software engineer, whose travails and tribulations at the hands of the US government’s extraordinary rendition programme had shaken many people then. Just to recapitulate he was seized by CIA operatives during a stopover at New York in 2002 and was secretly sent to Syria.Lodged in a grave like cell in Syria, Arar was repeatedly tortured to extract information which he did not know. Ultimately his tormentors released him within a span of year and half without ever being charged with a crime. As we can gather Mahel Arar became a victim of the Islamophobia manufactured by the likes of Bush-Blair in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

All those people who are familiar with the stigmatisation and terrorisation of a people and a community in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 attack can recount many such stories of miscarriage of justice, innocents being lodged in jail for years together and the tragedies which befell their families. The case of Mahel Arar was unique in many ways in the sense that because of the tremendous uproar in the Canadian society over this issue, Stephen Harper, then Prime Minister of Canada sought public apology for the ordeal which Maher went through and for the role played by Canadian officials in the whole affair. The Canadian government also gave him nine million dollars as compensation. Mr Harper said in full public view of the media, “On behalf of the government of Canada, I wish to apologize to you, Monia Mazigh (Arar’s wife) and your family for any role Canadian officials may have played in the terrible ordeal that all of you experienced in 2002 and 2003.”

Mahel’s forgotten saga recently came to my mind when one heard the ordeal through which the Akshardham Six went through for more than eleven years for no fault of theirs. Much has been written on these six innocents who were ultimately released by the intervention of the Supreme Court. All the six were arrested for their alleged support to the terrorists who died in the Akshardham terror attack. It was September 25, 2002 and the famous Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad came under attack. Two fidayeens sprayed bullets from their Ak-56 rifles and used hand grenades to kill 33 persons and injured another 86 at Akshardham Temple before being killed by NSG commandos.

A trial court had awarded death sentence to three of them, life imprisonment to two and 10-year imprisonment to remaining man. Adambhai Sulemanbhai Ajmeri, Abdul Qaiyum Muftisaab Mohmed Bhai and AChand Khan were sentenced to death in July 2006 by the special POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) court set up to try the terror case. While Mohammed Salim Shaikh was sentenced to life imprisonment (entire life), Abdulmiyan Qadri was given a 10-year term and Altaf Hussain was awarded five year imprisonment. The high court had later confirmed the sentence.

While acquitting the accused, the Apex Court pulled up the Gujarat Police for framing “innocent” people in the case and accused the then Gujarat Home Minister of “non-application of mind” in granting sanction to prosecute the six under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). As an aside it need be mentioned that Mr Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat, handled the home portfolio then. … And the whole case is just a tip of iceberg. There are thousands of cases of innocents languishing in jail for no fault of theirs, serving jail terms for crimes they never committed. A callous polity, a compromised executive and an apathetic civil society has led us to a situation where the real guilty are rarely caught. It is definitely time for a healing process to begin. It is definitely time to make amends for one’s bad judgements. It is time that PM Narendra Modi, decides to do a Harper.


[Back to Top]

Punishing Dalit Assertiveness – Editorial (May 31, 2014, EPW))

In the past couple of months, four dalits including a 17-year-old boy have been murdered in Maharashtra and a 50-year-old man set aflame because their actions displeased the dominant upper castes in their respective villages. Had these crimes not occurred either in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections or the forthcoming state assembly elections, they would have got even less attention. As for example, the social boycott that the dalits in Buldhana district’s Belad village had been facing since last year until a few weeks ago. The murder of teenager Nitin Aage on 28 April galvanised the dalit minister in the state cabinet, Nitin Raut, to tour all the “trouble spots” with the chairperson of the Maharashtra Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Commission.

The Dalit Atyachar Virodhi Kruti Samiti has claimed that Ahmednagar district alone accounts for 102 atrocities against dalits in the last five years. The minister too presented a long list of crimes against them and asked for a special cabinet meeting that resulted in the usual declarations of monetary compensation and assurance of action. Despite all this, media coverage of even the brutal murders has been poor and sporadic, and the protests by dalit and human rights’ groups muted, to put it mildly. The misery suffered by the dalit villagers, especially children, due to the boycott has also got scant coverage in the media.

Aage’s murder in Khardaa village of Ahmednagar district has all the hallmarks of a “textbook” dalit atrocity. His parents are poor wage labourers; the accused, belonging to the dominant Maratha caste, are rich and politically very well connected; the police are less than enthusiastic about giving out information and Aage was punished for committing a cardinal sin: he dared to speak to a girl of a higher caste from an influential family despite being warned not to. On 25 April, a Matang youth, Umesh Aagle, was waylaid and murdered by men of the dominant caste in Deopur, Aurangabad district, on suspicion of having a relationship with a girl from their family. These deaths simply add to a growing trend wherein dalit youth, particularly those who are educated and ignore “their place” in the social hierarchy by attempting to interact with women from the so-called higher castes, are targeted with incredible cruelty.

On 3 April, Manoj Kasab, the dalit sarpanch of Nanegaon in Jalna district, was beaten up by upper-caste men, reportedly because of work-related rivalry, and died of the wounds almost a month later. On 1 May, 22-year-old Manik Udaage was stoned to death by upper-caste men allegedly unhappy at the fact that he had set up an organisation called Samvidhan Pratishthan and had celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti in Chikhali village in Pune district. More recently, 50-year-old Sanjay Khobragade was set aflame by five persons of the dominant caste in Kawalewada village in Gondia district and is battling 90% burns as we write these lines. His assailants and Khobragade had a dispute over land for a Buddha Vihar in the village. …


[Back to Top]

Book Review

The Destruction of Hyderabad

Author: A G Noorani
Reviewed by: Sunil Purushotham
Available at: Tulika Publications, 35, A/1, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi – 110049, 2013; pp 388, Rs 825.
Destroying Hyderabad and Making the Nation (May 31, 2014, EPW)

A G Noorani’s latest effort, The Destruction of Hyderabad, reminds us of an important yet oft-neglected episode in the making of the republic. Shortly after the 3 June 1947 announcement of Partition, Mir Osman Ali Khan, the Muslim Nizam of Hyderabad, declared that he would not commit colonial India’s most populous and wealthiest princely state to either of the newly announced dominions of India or Pakistan. Almost all of the nearly 600 princely states acceded to either India or Pakistan by 15 August, but war soon broke out over Jammu and Kashmir, a legacy of the ambiguities of transforming the colonial order into a system of nation states that still plagues the subcontinent. Within the context of war and the upheavals of Partition, India and Hyderabad engaged in a series of tortuous negotiations until their ultimate collapse in June 1948.

The Nizam’s decision to appeal to the United Nations and reports of a deteriorating “law and order” crisis in Hyderabad caused by the Razakars – the paramilitary wing of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM) – precipitated an invasion of the state by the Indian military in September 1948. The Government of India, keen to assert the domestic character of the conflict, euphemistically labelled this a “Police Action”. The Nizam surrendered after five days and offered Hyderabad’s unconditional accession to the Indian union. India’s unity may have been won through non-violent struggle, but it was forged through violence.

In the charged context of the Partition, the Nizam’s reliance on the MIM’s support for his claim to independence reinforced a “communal” interpretation of the conflict. Further, it has long been alleged that the police action was marked by widespread violence against Hyderabad’s Muslims, who constituted roughly 12% of the state’s population. Remarkably, Noorani is the first scholar to make this point the basis of his argument, and the police action functions as the tragic telos of his narrative. The vast majority of the book is devoted to chronicling in great detail questions of constitutional reform and Hyderabad’s uneasy relationship with the Indian national project in the decades leading up to 1948.

Noorani’s primary argument is that the police action was at once a product of this longer history and entirely avoidable. A peaceful transition, moreover, would have better preserved Hyderabad’s “composite culture”, an inheritance that could have enriched Indian secularism. The blame for the police action, and thus the “destruction of Hyderabad”, is placed squarely on the “Hindu nationalist” Vallabhbhai Patel, who, Noorani argues, harboured an enmity for Hyderabadi culture and sought to destroy it by force.

What is missed in Noorani’s attribution of Hyderabad’s destruction to Patel’s ideological affinities – and more generally in the current debate over the “founding fathers” – is that, in 1948 there was a broad consensus across the ideological spectrum regarding the sovereignty of the nation state, and importantly, for our purposes here, state violence. B R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru were equally hostile to the Nizam’s bid for independence. While Nehru approached military intervention cautiously, he also saw in violence, and in the conflicts in Kashmir and Hyderabad in particular, the potential to unite Indians around a state that many perceived to be in an existential crisis. …


IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 24th, 2014

March 25, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Death threats to Advocate Pracha and intimidation of online media are unacceptable, say Indian Americans News Headlines Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related: Advocate Pracha Two Haryana policemen get life sentence for fake encounter ‘Reject The Closure Report Filed By SIT’ […]

Read the full article →

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 1st, 2013

April 2, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines US lawmakers paid Rs 9 lakh each to praise Modi: report Did aggressive Hindutva agenda cost BJP dear? Police make 5 dead accused in Dhule riots Mumbai police face defamation suit for false terror circular Eight policemen convicted in Gonda fake encounter case Civil group to […]

Read the full article →

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 25th, 2013

February 26, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Indian Americans outraged over bomb blasts in Dilsukhnagar area of Hyderabad News Headlines Hyderabad blasts: Interruption of Hindutva organizations CJI expresses concern over ‘media trial’ Indian-Americans condemn Hyderabad blasts No change in policy on visa to Modi: US IPS officer arrested in Ishrat fake encounter Ishrat Jahan […]

Read the full article →

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 25th, 2012

June 26, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Communal violence erupts in Pratapgarh of UP Gulberg: Court raps SIT, asks for probe report NDA’s disarray has to do with the BJP’s Hindutva parochialism ‘Tulsiram saw policemen picking Sohrabuddin, wife’ (Jun 23, 2012, Indian Express Fake Encounter by ATS, Claims Mumbai Blast Accused Police, administration […]

Read the full article →

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 5th, 2011

December 5, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Babri Masjid Demolition 19th Anniversary: Indian American Group Demands Justice Communal Harmony Literature should Promote Communal Harmony – B’lore Varsity VC News Headlines More evidence has come up to prove Advani’s role in Babari Masjid demolition Naroda Patia victims want top cops to be made accused Sohrab […]

Read the full article →

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 28th, 2011

November 28, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Quran with Bhagavad Gita in a communal harmony class News Headlines Nanavati panel reluctant to expose Modi, says Mallika Sarabhai Examine Narendra Modi’s role in fake encounter: Ishrat’s kin 21 cops involved in Ishrat encounter Jamia teachers welcome SIT report on Ishrat; demand fair probe into […]

Read the full article →

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 21st, 2011

November 21, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Measure in place to observe communal harmony week News Headlines Hindu radicals disguised as Muslims planted Malegaon bombs? Justice is yet to be fully delivered in the post-Godhra riots Gujarat riots: SIT concealing evidences to protect politicians, say victims There’s threat to life, but it’s not […]

Read the full article →

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 10th, 2011

October 10, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Cops want to destroy papers in Sanjiv Bhatt’s possession: Teesta Setalvad Bhatt’s arrest: US groups write to Prez, PM; warn to launch global campaign Narendra Modi to blame if Sanjeev Bhatt is harmed: Abhishek Manu Singhvi Gulbarg victims move court to seek direction to SIT to […]

Read the full article →