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Gujarat encounters

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 30th, 2013

by newsdigest on October 2, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Post Riots, Samajwadi Party committee to strengthen communal harmony in Muzaffarnagar (Sep 29, 2013, Indian Express)

Samajwadi Party on Sunday constituted a “Sadbhavna Samiti” (harmony committee) comprising senior state ministers, in bid to strengthen communal ties after the Muzaffarnagar riots. The committee headed by Shivpal Singh Yadav was constituted by party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is keeping an eye on the developments in west Uttar Pradesh after the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, party sources said.

The committee members include – ministers Shahid Manzoor, Ramgovind Chowdhury, Ram Sakal Gurjar, Sahab Singh, Yogesh Pratap, Virendra Singh, Kamal Akhtar and Balram Yadav. The ministers have been entrusted with the task of maintaining communal harmony by talking to people and visiting their homes, sources said adding, Mulayam held a meeting with the leaders at his residence here and directed them to camp in the affected areas to generate confidence among people.

“The leaders have been asked by Mulayam to personally visit the families of victims of both sides and inform them that the government was concerned about them,” sources said. “Our party is against communalism and wants to maintain communal harmony. We will ensure that people have trust in the government by telling them it will do whatever is needed to heal their wounds,” Shahid Manzoor told reporters after coming out of the meeting.

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Criminal Charges Which Narendra Modi Faces (Sep 29, 2013, Peoples Democracy)

The Zakia Jafri criminal complaint against Narendra Modi and 59 others, supported by Citizens for Justice & Peace (CJP), Mumbai, was ordered to be investigated by the Supreme Court, first on April 27, 2009 and thereafter through subsequent orders. Zakia Jafri and the CJP have been attempting to get serious criminal charges registered and investigated since June 8, 2006. The Special Investigation team (SIT) originally asked to further investigate the major trials was assigned the task on April 27, 2009). An amicus curiae was also appointed to assist the court. The SIT, in its reports from 2010 onwards, arrived at the conclusion that while several of the allegations were found to be correct, there was not sufficient material to prosecute the accused. In stark contrast, the amicus curiae, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, looking at the same evidence collected by the SIT, came to a contrary conclusion, stating clearly that there was evidence enough to prosecute Narendra Modi.

Faced with this dilemma of two contrary assessments, the Supreme Court remanded the matter to a lower court, directing the SIT to file its final report there. The SC specifically directed that if the SIT filed a closure report, the complainants were fully within their legal rights to file a protest petition and access all investigation papers/documents. (This is a right under Indian law but was specifically outlined by the Supreme Court in its final judgement dated September 12, 2011.) Predictably, the SIT filed a closure report on February 8, 2012 and remained adamant against making investigation papers available to the complainants, in contempt o the Supreme Court order. The magistrate granted the complainant her right to the investigation papers on April 10, 2012, but it took Zakia Jafri and the CJP another year to access all the investigation reports of the SIT submitted to the Supreme Court. The SC directed this on February 7, 2013, after which the protest petition was filed on April 15, 2013. From June 24 to August 29, 2013, rigorous arguments in support of the Zakia Jafri protest petition were made before Judge Ganatra, the 11th metropolitan magistrate of Ahmedabad. The final day of arguments on behalf of the complainant took place on September 18, 2013. Detailed written submissions on legal and factual aspects were submitted to the court on that day. Now the judgement of the magistrate is awaited.

Fifteen Serious Charges Against Narendra Modi: 1) Wilfully ignoring messages from state intelligence about the violent repercussions of the RSS-VHP called ‘Mahayajna’ before the tragic Godhra incident on February 27, 2002 and deliberately not initiating precautionary measures that are imperative under standard operational procedure; messages from February 7, 2002 to February 25, 2002, including specific ones that stated that batches of 2,800 and 1,900 karsevaks had left for Faizabad-Ayodhya and had been behaving provocatively and aggressively against minorities on the way. As cabinet minister for home and chief minister, he is directly responsible. MOS home Gordhan Zadaphiya is a constant co-conspirator.

2) Deliberately concealing knowledge of the provocative, anti-Muslim sloganeering by karsevaks at the Godhra station when the Sabarmati Express reached five hours late on February 27, 2002, which information had been sent to him directly by DM/Collector Jayanti Ravi and wilfully failing to take stern action and allowing violent incidents to escalate after the train left Godhra by about 1.15 p m, especially at Vadodara station where a Muslim was attacked and killed, and at Anand where the train stopped, hereafter ensuring that the state allowed a hate-filled and threatening atmosphere against Muslims build right up to Ahmedabad where the train finally reached around 4 p m and where bloodthirsty slogans were being shouted. FIRs in 19 brutal incidents against Muslims are recorded on February 27, 2002 in Ahmedabad itself. Curfew was not imposed despite these incidents resulting in deaths breaking out.

3) Conspiring with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to plot and allow reprisal killings all over Gujarat. The first phone call that Modi makes after DM Ravi’s fax reaches him is, not to appeal for peace and calm, but phone secretary VHP, Gujarat, Dr Jaideep Patel and direct him to Godhra. The conspiracy between Modi and the VHP is hatched and unfurled to cynically ensure statewide reprisal killings. Phone call records show these phone calls between PA to Modi, A P Patel and Jaideep Patel immediately after the chief minister receives news of the Godhra tragedy. Phone call records made available by Rahul Sharma (IPS, Gujarat) also show that the powerful accused were in touch with the chief minister’s office (CMO) and the landline numbers of the chief minister. …


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Caught on tape: Praful Patel admits influencing Ishrat probe, CBI likely to grill Narendra Modi for inspiring, guiding and monitoring every police action (Sep 25, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

The role of then minister of state for home Praful Patel is under scanner for trying to influence the probe in the encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others in 2004. According to a Tehelka report, Praful Patel is heard saying (in a sting audio) that he had tried to influence a police officer investigating the encounter killing to go easy on the police officers involved in it. Patel was then a key aide to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. “I had called up (investigating police officer) Satish Verma to my house despite knowing the dangers of it,” the then Minister of State for Home Praful Patel is heard saying during the secret conversation in a closed-door meeting of confidantes on 19 November 2011. The audio conversation was secretly recorded by police officer GL Singhal who is now an accused in the case.

“I had spoken to him (Verma) for more than four hours and had told him to help these 18 persons (who were involved in the encounter),” Tehelka quotes Praful Patel as saying in the audio tapes. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has submitted these tapes to the trial court in a sealed envelope. Apart from Praful Patel and GL Singhal, the participants of the closed-door meeting included Gujarat Advocate-General Kamal Trivedi; senior IAS officer and Modi confidante GC Murmu; Singhal’s lawyer Rohit Verma; then minister of state for law Pradipsinh Jadeja, another accused police officer Tarun Barot and the then Ahmedabad Crime Branch joint commissioner AK Sharma, reports Tehelka. In the meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday questioned Praful Patel in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. The questioning, being conducted in Gandhinagar, pertains to the alleged meeting held in November 2011 to decide the strategy “to obstruct the investigation”.

On Monday, the CBI had questioned Pradeepsinh Jadeja in the case. Last week, CBI grilled Murmu, secretary to chief minister Narendra Modi, and Crime Branch Joint Commissioner A K Sharma, pertaining to the meeting held in November 2011. The agency also grilled suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara last week regarding his resignation letter in which he had hit out at Modi government for failing to protect the jailed police officers with regard to fake encounter cases. Senior BJP leader Amit Shah, a close aide of Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidateNarendra Modi, may also be questioned this week in wake of Vanzara’s claims that Gujarat government was “inspiring, guiding and monitoring” every police action from “very close quarters”.

CBI has named Singhal, Vanzara, suspended IPS officers PP Pandey and Tarun Barot, N K Amin, retired DSP J G Parmar and commando Anaju Chaudhary in the chargesheet, accusing them of murder and criminal conspiracy with regard to the encounter killing of 19-year-old Ishrat, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in June 2004. CBI’s probe in the case was still on, it had said when filing the chargesheet in July 2013.–4385097-NOR.html


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CBI grills BJP Rajya Sabha MPs Prakash Javadekar and Bhupendra Yadav over fake encounter case (Sep 27, 2013, Economic Times)

CBI on Friday questioned BJP Rajya Sabha MPs Prakash Javadekar and Bhupendra Yadav in connection with a video tape in which they were allegedly seen discussing ways to weaken case against Narendra Modi’s aide Amit Shah by influencing the mother of a victim of an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat. CBI sources said Singh was quizzed early this morning, while Javadekar arrived at 1.45 PM at the agency headquarters for questioning. “I believe in the legal processes. CBI has called me today so I have appeared here,” Javadekar told reporters.

CBI has also summoned party general secretary Ramlal who also figured in the sting operation relating to the Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounter case conducted by an independent journalist. The three leaders had refuted the charge and maintained that they are innocent. In the sting operation, the leaders are purportedly shown discussing how Prajapati’s mother Narmadabai can be convinced to change her Vakalatnama. She has filed a case alleging her son was killed in a fake encounter in which BJP general secretary Amit Shah is an accused.

However, BJP has claimed there is nothing “incriminating” against the three leaders in the sting operation. Prajapati, who was allegedly a witness to Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s murder, was killed on December 2006–a year after Sheikh was shot dead in an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat. The journalist, who conducted the sting operation, had alleged that senior BJP leaders managed to get undated blank ‘Vakalatnamas’ from Narmadabai to allegedly subvert the judicial proceedings.


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Muzaffarnagar Riot: Proof against Narendra Modi’s aide Amit Shah? (Sep 24, 2013,

Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one BSP leader have been arrested over Muzaffarnagar riot case. Uttar Pradesh Police claim that more arrests would take place in near future. Meanwhile, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav claimed that they have received ample evidence against Narendra Modi’s close aide Amit Shah who has been accused of stoking communal divide. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Akhilesh reportedly claimed that BJP leaders including Shah had ignited communal violence by addressing several sensitive issues in the state.

Shah, former Gujarat home minister, is BJP’s General Secretary in-charge in Uttar Pradesh. During the interview with the TV channel, the UP CM also raised some questions asking, “In Jhansi, there was a temple where Hindus and Muslims were living together since independence. Then why did BJP raise the issue of temple in the area?” The young UP CM also asserted, “Since I joined politics, I wear a cap. If people give me a cap, I wear it. The Samajwadi Party is working for the development of the people.”

Earlier BJP President Rajnath Singh, who recently cancelled his visit to riot-hit Muzaffarnagar and adjoining area following an appeal from the state administration, blamed Samajwadi Party for the violence in the area. Whenever the Samajwadi Party (SP) comes to power, “a series of communal riots begin in Uttar Pradesh”, said Rajnath on Saturday, Sept 21. “If we see the history of riots, then we can see that whenever the Samajwadi Party (SP) comes to power, a series of communal riots begin in Uttar Pradesh,” added Singh. More than 40 people were killed and many were injured as communal violence broke out in the sensitive region of the state. BJP leader Sangeet Som, who has been arrested, was accused of igniting violence circulating a fake controversial video.


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Riots in Muzaffarnagar institutionalized, police complicit: JNUSU Report (Sep 29, 2013,

A fact finding report by Jawaharlal University Students’ Union (JNUSU) has alleged that the riot was preplanned and institutionalized with the complicity of the police. The JNUSU fact finding team visited Muzaffarnagar and its surrounding riot affected villages on September 21 and 22 with “the objective of presenting a clear and categorical report of the riots and to consider ways in which the JNUSU and wider society can intervene in this situation.” The team comprised 10 members- JNUSU President Akbar Chaudary, Vice President Anubhuti Agnes Bara, Abdul Matin, Chetan, Shadab, Hina Goswami, Fakruzzaman, Alvi, Imtiaz.

They pointed out that the bewildered Muslims of Kawaal are unable to reconcile shrill accusations of being the beneficiaries of “appeasement” by the Samajwadi Party, with their everyday reality of living in their own villages under the protection of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC). Highlighting the sinister vitiating of atmosphere by the VHP, which tried to resurrect the old bogey of “love jihad” which it has earlier tried unsuccessfully in Kerala. “It has tried to play upon the patriarchal common sense that women, especially young girls are vulnerable, and easily beguiled by Muslim youth, who, rather conveniently, being unemployed have all the time,” the report pointed out.

Despite the hype, one police officer that the fact finding team spoke to in the thana Shahpur said that the actual number of complaints filed of sexual harassment were not in proportion with this perception of an all-out attempt to harass Jat women, it further added. While it is clear that the incident at Kawaal merely provided a pretext for political entrepreneurs from all sides to fish in troubled waters the local police is yet to conclude its investigation into the killings two weeks after they happened. What is worse the police have not even come up with its version of events based on the current stage of the investigation.

The report has also questioned the role of the political parties, including BSP, SP and BJP for “fishing in troubled water.” Given that Muslim victims have chosen other villages with a substantial Muslim population, and with prospects of returning to their villages a process of ‘forced ghettoization’ is under way, the report further observed. JNUSU has demanded that the Anti-Communal Violence Bill be tabled immediately in the Parliament and that “mixed police stations” are promoted, besides fixing clear accountability in riot cases.…


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Charges framed against Aseemanand, 6 others in Ajmer blast case (Sep 26, 2013, The Hindu)

A special court for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) cases here has framed charges against seven persons accused of carrying out a blast in the Ajmer dargah in October 2007, even as one of the accused has blamed Congress leaders for pressuring him to implicate senior RSS functionaries in the case. The court framed charges against Swami Aseemanand, a key figure in the Hindutva terror network, and his six alleged accomplices under the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Explosives Act on Tuesday. They have been charged with carrying and planting bombs and exploding them, murdering people, spreading communal hatred and hatching conspiracy.

Besides Swami Aseemanand, the accused are Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Chandrashekhar Leve, Harshad Solanki, Mukesh Vasani and Bharat Mohan Rateshwar. All of them are in judicial custody. The charges against three others – Bhavesh Patel, Ramesh and Mehul Kumar – are yet to be framed, while two are at large. The court has fixed October 3 as the next date of hearing. Two First Information Reports were initially registered in Ajmer in 2007. The investigation was transferred to the NIA in 2011. The NIA filed a charge sheet against Swami Aseemanand in July 2011, describing him as the mastermind of the blast. The explosion in the dargah of Sufi mystic Khwaja Moinddin Chishti on October 11, 2007, during Ramzan, left three persons dead and 17 injured. The dargah was packed to capacity with 5,000 devotees when the blast occurred.

Bhavesh Patel has created ripples in the political circles with his letter to the NIA court, accusing some UPA Ministers and Congress leaders of pressuring him to name RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and his close aide Indresh Kumar as being complicit in the crime. The letter, a copy of which is with The Hindu, was sent to the court through Sawai Man Singh Hospital, where Bhavesh was admitted after his health deteriorated while he was observing a hunger strike in jail. The court received the letter in a sealed cover, which was opened on Monday. Bhavesh was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday morning. After going through the contents of the letter, the court has summoned Bhavesh for a hearing on Thursday, when his statement is likely be recorded. Counsel for Bhavesh B.S. Chauhan said he was shifted from the Jaipur Central Jail to Alwar without any court order, and the NIA’s Investigating Officer had questioned him several times during his judicial custody without the court’s permission.

Bhavesh has accused Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, his deputy R.P.N. Singh, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, Investigating Officer Vishal Garg and NIA Inspector-General Sanjeev Kumar of exploiting him for implicating Mr. Bhagwat and other RSS functionaries in the case. Bhavesh alleged in the letter that Acharya Pramod Krishnan of Moradabad had arranged several meetings for him with the Congress leaders, and Mr. Shinde asked him at one of the meetings in Delhi to name the RSS leaders. “When you [Bhavesh] are brought to the court, you have to name Mohan Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar and you have to say you engineered the blast [in the dargah] as per their directions,” the letter quoted Mr. Shinde as saying.

The letter claimed that Bhavesh met Mr. Digvijay Singh, Mr. R.P.N. Singh and Mr. Jaiswal at different points of time and all of them told him that his case would be solved if he followed their instructions to frame the RSS functionaries. Bhavesh has demanded protection for him and his family because of his revelation. His letter also demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter and urgent action against the Congress politicians and NIA officers.


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Ensure no innocent Muslim is detained in terror cases: Shinde to CMs (Sep 30, 2013, IBN)

Union Home Minister Sushil Shinde has written a letter to all chief ministers on the issue of wrongful detention of Muslim youngsters in terror cases. Shinde’s letter states that a number of cases have come to light which shows members of Muslim community have been wrongly picked up by police in terror cases. Interestingly Shinde has refused to intervene in the Pune German Bakery blast case in which Himayat Baig is one of the accused even after Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal claimed Baig was not involved in the terror strike. …

Shinde’s letter says Centre has received several representations on alleged harassment of innocent Muslim youngsters by law enforcement agencies. “Some of the minority youth have started feeling that they are deliberately targeted and deprived their basis rights. The government has to ensure that no innocent person is subjected to undue harassment,” he wrote. The Home Minister emphasised that the government is committed to its core principle of combating terrorism in every form and manifestation.

Shinde asked the state governments to constitute special courts in consultation with concerned High Courts for trial of terror-related cases, appoint special public prosecutors for trial of these cases and give priority to terror cases over other pending cases. The Home Minister said law enforcement agencies should be satisfied with regard to communal and social harmony while ensuring zero tolerance for terrorism.


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Accused seeks fresh probe into 13/7 blasts (Oct 1, 2013, Indian Express)

Claiming that the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) has wrongly implicated him, an accused in the July 13, 2011 Mumbai triple blasts case has written to the President and the Prime Minister seeking a reprobe in the case. Nadeem Akhtar, then a college student, was picked up in connection with the blasts that killed 27 persons. In the letter, the 25-year-old has sought a probe by the National Investigation Agency.

Lodged at Arthur Road prison in Mumbai, Akhtar has claimed in his letter that he was initially asked to cooperate with Delhi Police Special Cell officers in finding a person named Imran. Akhtar claimed that he and his relative Naquee Ahmed, also an accused in the case, extended full cooperation to the police. However, in January 2012, the ATS arrested them, he wrote.

In the letter dispatched on September 24, Akhtar has claimed that he is ready to undergo polygraph test to prove his innocence. Quoting media reports, Akhtar claimed that the NIA should probe claims made by IM operative Yasin Bhatkal allegedly taking responsibility for the blasts. In his letter, Akhtar has also alleged that his confession was taken under duress. “In police custody, ATS officers brutally tortured me and forcefully took my signatures on blank papers,” he wrote.


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Fodder scam: Lalu Prasad Yadav, 44 others convicted; RJD chief can’t fight polls (Sep 30, 2013, Indian Express)

In a body blow to RJD before next year’s Lok Sabha polls, its President Lalu Prasad was on Monday convicted by a special CBI court here in the fodder scam corruption case that disqualifies him from Parliament and renders him ineligible for contesting elections for at least six years. Another 44 accused, including former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, six politicians and four IAS officers, were also convicted by court of Pravas Kumar Singh for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury. The court fixed October three for pronouncement of sentence against Yadav, Mishra and others. The RJD chief was taken to the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi after being convicted by the court.

The RJD chief faces immediate disqualification as Lok Sabha member under a recent Supreme Court order that an MP or MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more and under some other laws even without jail sentence. The August judgement of the Supreme Court struck down a provision in the electoral law that provided protection to sitting MPs and MLAs by allowing them to continue in their posts if they appeal against a lower court conviction and secure a stay of the order. Lalu would have got protection from disqualification if the ordinance promulgated by the Centre was cleared by President Pranab Mukherjee but he is said to have some reservations and raised questions over it.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi has compounded problems by attacking the ordinance and calling for its withdrawal, virtually sealing its fate. RJD Spokesperson Manoj Jha said they would challenge the order in a higher court after the sentence is known. Earlier, Prasad arrived at the special CBI court here before delivery of the verdict in the 17-year-old case. The court had on September 17 set today’s date to pass orders in the case. Among others, IAS officers Mahesh Prasad, Phoolchand Singh, Beck Juleus, K Arumugam, Income Tax officer A C Choudhary, former AHD officials and fodder suppliers were also among the accused.

Prasad had begun arguments on September 9 and ended it on September 17 after the Supreme Court turned down his request to change the current special court to another court after he apprehended political conspiracy. Following the Animal Husbandry scam, popularly known as the Fodder Scam, Prasad had to resign as chief minister of Bihar. After installing his wife Rabri Devi as the chief minister, Yadav had surrendered to a court in Patna on July 31, 1997. Later, he came to Ranchi following a court order that Ranchi had the jurisdiction of the case. The Mecon Guest House was converted to a camp jail in Ranchi before he was shifted to the old Birsa Munda Jail at Circular road here. After Jharkhand’s bifurcation on November 15, 2000, the litigations were brought before the Supreme Court whether the Patna High Court had the jurisdiction on the cases in this part of the undivided Bihar and trial was stayed till December 2000 to December 2001.

The SC had said in November, 2001 that trial would be conducted by special courts in Ranchi. Trial in Ranchi began in March, 2002 by seven special courts. The case was posted for defence of Prasad from May 15 and Prasad’s counsel examined 29 witnesses in his defence. But when the defence continued to skip dates, the court fixed July 15 to deliver the judgement and asked the accused to complete arguments by July 1. Subsequently, Prasad moved the Supreme Court pleading shifting of his case from the court of Pravas Kumar Singh on the ground of political conspiracy, which the apex court struck down, paving the way for the first judgement against Prasad.


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SHOCKING: ‘Brahmakumari’ raped for four years at Ishwariya Vishwavidyalaya in Patna (Sep 24, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Country’s one of the most well-known “Godly University”, which offers courses that focus on the benefits of moral and spiritual approaches to life was defamed on Monday. In a shocking incident, a 22-year-old spiritual leader Brahma kumari was allegedly raped for four years by a sewak on the pretext of marriage at the famous Brahmakumaris Ishwariya Vishwavidyalaya here. Sewak Lallan has been accused of raping the spiritual leader. The shameful incident came to light on Monday when the victim along with members of Prem Youth organisation reached Mahila Police station and reported the matter.

The victim alleged that she was not the only Brahmakumari to have faced the sexual assault, but there were also many other, who were going through the shameful act. Moreover, the brahmakumari was also threatened of dire consequences by the sewak. She informed that she had reported about the matter to Brahmakumari Anju, who heads the Fatuha located University but to no avail. Whereas, Brahmakumari rubbished the allegations on Monday. “All the allegations are false,” adding, “The 22-year old was accused of misconduct and expelled from the University sometime back.”

Notably, Brahmakumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) is a well known spiritual value based educational institution that has gained global acceptance and unique international recognition. One of the most famous faces of Brahmakumari sisters, “Brahmakumari Shivani” has given many speeches about ‘Art of Joyful Living’ at several reputed institutes including the Indian Institute of Management (IIM).


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Opinions and Editorials

When Modi deciphers Gandhi – By FPJ Bureau (Sep 27, 2013, Free Press Journal)

One of the qualities of the Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, that endears him to his loyal fan following is the panache with which he delivers the punchline in his speeches. In his quest for the prime minister’s post, he has discovered that he cannot get this coveted prize unless he finishes the Congress Party. So, he exhorts his followers to create an India that is free of it. For those who are believers in his credo, this is an endearing thought. In one of his customary oratorical flourishes, he has drawn a link between a concept enunciated by the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi at the time of Independence in 1947 to his current quest for power. Let us refresh our memory about the father of nation’s idea. He had said: “Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means provided by the Indian National Congress, the Congress, in its present shape and form, i.e., as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use. India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its seven hundred thousand villages as distinguished from its cities and towns. The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India’s progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the A. I. C .C. resolves to disband the existing Congress organization and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh under the following rules, with power to alter them as occasion may demand.”

Now we can be generous and excuse the Gujarat chief minister if he has not gone into the fine print of this statement, and has simply latched on to the idea that the Congress had outlived its use in 1947. Putting two and two together, he has cleverly envisioned that if something was not done in the wake of Independence, then in a spirit of the cliché better late then never, it would be good to achieve the ‘ Gandhian goal to finish the Congress,’ now and by that logic, help him realise his dream of becoming the prime minister. We can see that Modi has used his old trick to introduce this connection between his unabashed personal desire to be the prime minister with a 63-year-old Gandhian goal. This is a well-practised technique. Much in the same way he used to tell his Gujarat audiences in 2002 that if he won, they would celebrate, and if he lost, then Mian Musharraf would be celebrating. This clearly skips the reality. Neither was Musharraf a factor in the Gujarat elections, nor is the late Mahatma Gandhi much of a revered figure for the Sangh Parivar that they should mourn for his unfulfilled dream. After all, this was not the only dream the father of nation had, which has remained unfulfilled.

But this distortion is not the only problem when Modi deciphers Gandhi for us. All of us have lofty, impractical ideas that we keep expressing. The beauty of the Mahatma was that he was a prolific writer and most of his thoughts have survived in the collected works. He used to think aloud, and this idea that the Congress should disband itself and transform into a Lok Sevak Sangh to ensure that “the struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power ….India’s progress towards its democratic goal… must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies” makes it clear that the nature of the party’s basic commitments was not to change. But when Modi talks of a Congress free- India, he is clearly rooting for dictatorship. He is trying to sell a dream that should he emerge victorious in the 2014 elections, as his convinced supporters tell us, then there would be no opposition party. He carefully chooses his words, he is making it clear from the roooftops that he wants a Congress free-India. He is not suggesting or asking the people to merely defeat the Congress in the polls, but he is exhorting his supporters to ‘finish the Congress’. He is actually talking of the end of democracy through a ballot, and this is essential fascism.

It would be injurious to our democratic health, if we condone this excess as a mere election rhetoric. There are enough indicators in Modi’s track record to assess the ruthless manner with which he deals with his political opponents. Indeed, there is a long list of persons who have suffered thus at his hands in Gujarat. Besides, this approach is completely in sync with the political approach of the Sangh Parivar that has pushed for his propulsion to the national centrestage. It is not for nothing that the Sangh is described as fascist and fundamentalist. Interestingly, democratic elections have been held in this country for the last six decades. The Congress has been one of the major parties that has been in the fray right from the first general elections. No one, including some of its fiercest opponents like the socialists Ram Manohar Lohia and George Fernandes have ever used these expressions in their anti-Congress discourse. This is because they were all anti-Congress, but they were all committed to the values of democracy.

The delicacy of the language is the essence of democratic discourse. You have every right to be critical, but then there is no need to be inimical or venomous. The problem when Modi deciphers Gandhi is that the soul of the discourse is not in the decoding process. When Gandhi wanted the Congress to disband, he was setting a higher purpose for it, but when Modi seks the same goal, he is guided by narrow personal goals of political power. Gandhi wanted the Congress to shun power for a higher goal, but with Modi it is quite the opposite. This is something that reminds one about the devil quoting the scripture.


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“Mini Gujarat” in and around Muzaffarnagar – By Zafarul-Islam Khan (Sep 27, 2013, Milli Gazette)

Uttar Pradesh saw over 200 small and big communal riots since Samajwadi Party came to power in February last year. The UP government itself conceded on the floor of the state assembly that 27 serious riots have taken place since it came to power. The riot party is well-known. Their weapons too are well-known: lies and rumour-mongering, now made much more easy with electronic gadgets. With the huge network of its parent organisation and innumerable allied outfits, it has learnt how to win elections: create a riot, polarise voters and win elections. They have been doing this since its former supremo LK Advani discovered the Ram Mandir issue and periodically played Holi with Muslim blood, during his rath yatras, which started in September 1990, after the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992 and moved on to the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 which enjoyed his support crucial for Modi to retain his post.

The plan for UP was clear when the notorious Amit Shah, out on bail now, was shamelessly appointed as the party in-charge in India’s most populous state. It was understood that the veteran of Gujarat pogrom and fake encounters would unleash the weapons he knows best. Preparations had been afoot to foment big communal flareups in various parts of Uttar Pradesh ahead of the general elections early next year. In western UP, which has a strong Muslim presence, work was on in earnest. The area has always been an eyesore for the Hindutvadis. They had tried and failed to cleanse this area even in 1947. Posters of Modi appeared in villages, slogans of “Modi zindabad,” “Modi lao, desh bachao” were frequently raised. Meetings of BJP supporters were being held for weeks. A spark was needed for a big explosion. A collision of motocycles in Kawal village on 27 August led to a heated argument.

Later, one party came back with its supporters and killed the other motor-cyclist (who happened to be a Muslim). Now relatives and supporters of the slain youth killed two youth of the other party who happened to be Hindus (Sachin and Gaurav). It was a clear case of murder and people responsible from both sides should have been arrested and legal formalities started against them. The administration failed to take this logical and necessary step. Instead, it clamped prohibitory orders (Section 144) on the district but did nothing else. During these prohibitory orders, mammoth meetings continued including the three “mahapanchayats” of Jats whose passions were aroused by concocting a story that the Muslim youth slain was in fact teasing a “Hindu” girl who was related to the slain Hindu boys. The girl herself, who lives in a hostel in Lucknow, later denied the story and said she never knew of any such person. But the passions were aroused in the name of Jat honour and hundreds of thousands from across three districts were mobilised through the mahapanchayats while the administration sat idle.

All kinds of inflammatory speeches were delivered by BJP MLAs and leaders and latest gadgets apps were used to spread rumours. The last of the three “mahapanchayats” was held at Nagla Mandaur on 7 September. Some Jats on their way to that mammoth gathering taunted some Muslims, a clash occurred at Ganga canal and a few from both sides were killed (four Muslims and three Hindus, according to Prof Vipin Tripathy of IIT Delhi who visited the place soon after the incident). A Muslim woman was wounded and another Muslim was killed on that day by the Jats. Weapons were brought in from neighbouring areas and distributed among Jats. The violence started in earnest the same night. Muslim houses were attacked in a number of villages like Phugana, Kutba, Laakh, Lasaadh and Batawdi. Many kept the attackers at bay during the night using bricks and barricading themselves. They kept phoning the police but no one came.

Uprooted people told us that the police instead abused them on the phone and told them to defend themselves on their own as this was going to be the norm from then on. Many houses were burnt that night but some with heavy iron gates withstood the attack and people took refuge there. Attackers were both locals as well as outsiders who killed males, raped women and girls, stripped them naked and made them dance. Many girls were kidnapped and at least two dozen remain untraceable according to the refugees. The initial list of the Muslims killed was 48 which later rose to 64 but survivors in the relief camps we visited told us that over two hundred had been killed. Bodies of most of them were burnt in the fires of their own homes torched by the rioters who brought petrol and kerosene cans with them.…


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Hyderabad’s Fall And Sunderlal Report – By Syed Ali Mujtaba (Sep 29, 2013, Countercurrents)

There are so many facts that the successive Indian government has hidden from its citizens and one such is the publication of the Sunderlal report that probed the Hyderabad communal flare up, soon after the military action against India’s largest Muslim Princely state in 1948. The report that has been kept in wraps, chronicles the horrendous crime committed against humanity in the aftermath of the amalgamation of the Princely state with the Indian dominion. More than 40,000 people perished in that act of retribution and revenge. The report that was commissioned by the government of India was considered to be so sensitive and inflammable that it was kept under lock and keys and was never brought to the public domain. Now almost Sixty Five years after its submission, the report is available at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi, as part of declassified document.

The State of Hyderabad was one of 500 Princely states of India that enjoyed autonomy under the British rule. At the time independence, all of the Princely states agreed to join the Indian Union, except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir. While the story of Junagarh and Kashmir is a different narrative, Hyderabad’s Muslim ruler Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam, insisted on remaining independent. This led to an acrimonious stand-off between New Delhi and Hyderabad and the dispute was taken to the United Nations. Meanwhile, armed militia called Razakar, sprung up to protect the Hyderabad state. Some say, it had tacit support of the ruler, but apparently, it was the armed wing of a Muslim political party, that had issues with the princely rule. The members of the militia supposedly held drills in and around Hyderabad and terrorized the non Muslims population. This incensed people and New Delhi was ceased of the matter.

After a yearlong high drama and without any settlement in sight, the government in New Delhi sent its armed forces to take over Hyderabad in September 1948. One division of the Indian army and a tank brigade under Major General Choudhry marched into Hyderabad. The battle was swift, the Nizam’s troops and the Razakars were defeated within few days of army’s invasion. Since the case of Hyderabad at the United Nation, the military action was called ‘Police Action’ and was code named ‘Operation Polo.’ Surprisingly, the so called Police Action was peaceful in taking over Hyderabad and there was no significant loss of life of the civilian population in the city. The Nizam saved himself and his kith and kin, with witnesses saying that he had tacit agreement with the government India. Facts or fiction, some say, the Hyderabad ruler allowed the India army to plunder his treasury, and each solider made a killing in that loot of the treasure trove.

However, what followed the invasion of the Indian army in the ruler areas of Hyderabad was a sordid tale against humanity about which the current generation is totally unaware. The poor Muslim population was left at the mercy of the wolves and for several days’ arson, looting, rape and massacre continued with impunity in many districts. The Hindus formed special vigilante groups and singled out poor Muslims in the villages and put them to death. There was total silence in Hyderabad, when bigotry, savagery, and brutality nakedly danced at its diabolic best in its districts. Those innocent Muslims who perished in that organized crime, had nothing to do with the standoff between the ruler of Hyderabad and the Indian Union. They were left with no protection and became scapegoat to the Hindus anger against the Princely state.

Commentators have analyzed the animosity as the desire of the Hindu populace to extinguish a Muslim state at the heart of India. Some call it extraction of cancer from the predominantly Hindu country. It’s estimated that more than 40,000 people perished in that act of retribution. The tale of the atrocities of this crime were so horrifying that then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru commissioned a small team of Congress leaders to investigate the matter. The commission was led by a Congressman, Pandit Sunderlal and included Kazi Abdul Ghaffar and Moulana Abdulla Misri were its other members. The Sunderlal team made a three weeks tour of Hyderabad in Nov-Dec 1948. It visited 7 district headquarters, 21 towns and 23 important villages, and interviewed over 500 people from 109 such villages. At each place the team carefully chronicled the accounts of Muslims who had survived the appalling violence. …


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Mr Shinde, you are not the Home minister for minorities – By Akshaya Mishra (Oct 1, 2013, First Post)

Someone must remind Sushilkumar Shinde that he is the Home Minister of the country, not the minister in charge of a particular community. He needs reminding because he never fails to learn from his mistakes. His letter asking all chief ministers to ensure that no innocent Muslim youth is wrongfully detained in terror cases smacks of a political opportunism. It adds credence to the suspicion that the government is trying to communalise the social environment before the 2014 general elections by adopting a blatantly partisan approach.

There is no denying the communal malice in the treatment of terror cases by a large section of our law enforcing agencies. Arrest them, frame them, damn them and don’t worry about the courts. This has largely been the approach of the police towards the Muslims. The low conviction rate in such cases – about 10 percent – only reinforces that point. The police ‘sources’ come up with impressive, nearly believable stories about terror modules, sleeper cells, indoctrination, cross-border machinations and what not after every incident of terror in the country. Ever wondered why the stories, popular in the media, hardly stand up in courts? But communal prejudice among a section of the policemen is only part of the story. Shinde, an ex-cop himself, must be aware that the real problem is poor crime detection, stemming from the lack of basic skills. There are weaknesses in gathering and processing evidence.

Witnesses go hostile in a majority of cases and there’s clear lack of knowledge of the law among investigating officers. Good stories before the media are only a cover-up exercise designed to please the public. They provide a breather to the police, but hardly serve the cause of justice. Not long ago, the Supreme Court of India expressed exasperation at the abysmal conviction rate in rape cases. “What is wrong with the system? Why are 90 percent of rape cases ending in acquittals? a bench said. As many as 63 percent of people charged with corruption were acquitted last year and just about 28 percent of cases in the country end up in conviction. The dismal numbers mean the policing system is working to the detriment of the innocent citizens. It is creating a large number of victims and not all of them are Muslims. Was Shinde’s letter deliberate? Couldn’t he have stopped at saying, “…The government is committed to its core principle of combating terrorism in every form and manifestation… It has to ensure that no innocent person is subjected to undue harassment”?

That could have delivered the message he wanted to convey well. But he sought to bring in the minority matter. In fact, that was the point raised by BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy. “Has our Home Minister forgotten the oath that he took where he promised to protect citizens from all religions? Then why did he have to say Muslim youths?” Rudy said, adding it would have been better if Shinde had said ‘innocent Indian youths’ instead of ‘innocent Muslim youths’. He could have said things in a better way, but he represents a desperate party. The Congress is losing the plot in the run-up to the elections.

While the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has started cleverly positioning himself as a mainstream, non-partisan leader by eschewing any reference to communal issues or anything contentious in his speeches across the country, gaining popularity in the process, it serves the Congress’ purpose to pin him and his party down to a communal – read anti-Muslim – position. Controversies of this nature are par for the course in this strategy. The fact is the party does not seem to be capable of think of anything better at this point. Given the perverse nature of our politics, it does not surprise though. But Shinde must decide whether he wants to be the home minister for the minorities or the entire country. If he is serious, he should show some urgency in tackling the crippling inefficiency in the police force.


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Yes to the no-vote option – Editorial (Sep 28, 2013, The Hindu)

By ordering that voting machines in future should have an additional provision for voters to record a ‘none-of-the-above’ (NOTA) option to reject all candidates in the fray, the Supreme Court has ushered in a key electoral reform that has found favour in the past with the Election Commission of India and even the Law Commission. The idea of according to a negative vote the same sanctity and secrecy as a vote in favour of a particular candidate is indeed laudable in a parliamentary democracy.

Advocates of electoral reforms have encouraged voters to make greater use of Rule 49-O, the provision by which one can record a ‘no-vote’ option by signing a form in the presence of election officials, in the hope that a large number of such negative votes would induce political parties to field candidates known for their integrity. The verdict holds that the rule violates election law and the voters’ freedom of expression alike by denying voters who exercise that choice the required secrecy. The Court believes that the extra provision in the voting machines would promote free and fair elections, ensure greater voter participation and reduce bogus voting.

In recent times, the Supreme Court has struck down a provision to prevent immediate disqualification of convicted legislators and, more controversially, barred those in custody from contesting elections. The NOTA ruling fills a significant lacuna in electoral law, and is a welcome addition to the series of decisions it has rendered to protect the integrity of our elections. A doubt arises as to what will happen if a very large percentage of voters go in for the no-vote option. Even a meagre turnout is considered good enough to declare a valid result now, but a heavy quantum of negative votes may affect the legitimacy of the election process. Perhaps, the EC could fix a limit beyond which the percentage of NOTA votes would entail re-polling. All this raises a question: why has Parliament left electoral reforms to the courts instead of deliberating over and passing appropriate laws?

Thanks to an assertive EC, the potential for irregularities by the political class has been effectively kept under check, but this inherently adversarial relationship may have prevented the ushering in of sweeping reforms through legislation. There is no agreement on some reforms mooted by the Election Commission, such as making the framing of charges in serious criminal cases the basis for disqualification instead of conviction. Ranging from the need to check money power and paid news to the need for transparency in the funding of political parties, there are a host of issues that ought to be addressed through comprehensive legislation rather than ad hoc adjudication.


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The ghost returns – Editorial (Oct 1, 2013, The Hindu)

Sixteen years after Lalu Prasad lost his Chief Ministership to the Rs. 950 crore Bihar fodder scam, the ghost has returned to deal him a second staggering blow. Ironically, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief’s conviction, along with 44 others, in the Chaibasa treasury case, comes at a time when his political career appeared to be on the mend. The Chaibasa case, which is related to the withdrawal from the State treasury of Rs. 37 crore, is one of six fodder-related cases against Mr. Prasad and the first in which the verdict has been pronounced.

The fodder scam was of epic scale, with a plot so byzantine that it took investigators years to comprehend the full extent of the loot, how it was executed and how many people participated in it. What started as a minor case of embezzlement in the mid-1970s, grew in size over the next two decades, and finally burst into the open as a huge scandal involving ministers, bureaucrats and even sections of the Opposition. The conviction of 45 persons in just one of the cases is indicative of the size of the theft and its spread.

The tragedy is all the more for the dazzling start to Mr. Prasad’s political career and the promise his advent held to an underclass crushed by the double burden of poverty and upper caste oppression. Such was the hopelessness in which Bihar was caught that Mr. Prasad was able to make a virtue of just the fact that he had given his people swar (voice). Unfortunately for the State he ruled, that was all he did. Bihar became a basket case even as politicians and bureaucrats exploited its wealth to feather their own nests. In the event, his fall was as dramatic as his rise. By May 1997, the CBI had closed in on him, leading to his arrest and removal from office in July of the same year. What followed was the bizarre drama of Mr. Prasad installing his wife Rabri Devi as Chief Minister with her as his proxy. It was against this backdrop that Nitish Kumar finally dethroned the man whom he once mentored.

Today, Mr. Kumar himself is in trouble, having exited his successful alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. For Mr. Prasad, the break-up was just the opportunity he needed to get back into the political reckoning. He would have likely succeeded in the plan had the UPA government pushed through the ordinance aimed at preventing the disqualification of lawmakers. But the past has a way of catching up. With Rahul Gandhi’s public fulminations scuttling the proposed ordinance, Mr. Prasad has been left with no escape but to face up to the reality of the conviction and return to a life of political oblivion.


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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 23rd, 2013

by newsdigest on September 24, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

‘No anguish on Modi’s face when he talks about riots’ (Sep 23, 2013, Rediff)

Tara Gandhi-Bhattacharya, Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter, on Monday said she did not find any trace of anguish on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s face when he spoke about the 2002 post-Godhra riots in his state. Talking to reporters, she said, “I am surprised as to how Modi, being a politician, being a human being, and being from Gujarat, can speak about the riots and that phase of violence without showing any pain.”

She, however, added that she was not passing a judgment on Modi as she did not know him well. Gandhi-Bhattacharya, 78, is vice-chairman of the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti. Modi was recently named the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. “Once I watched Modi speaking in Gujarat from a distance. I can’t judge him. But when he mentions the excesses of the Gujarat riots, I do not see any anguish on his face,” she said.

Talking about the conditions at refugees’ camps in Gujarat which were set up after the riots, she said, “I was so pained (upon seeing them) that I could not sleep for the next six months.” About Modi’s infamous “puppy coming under the wheels of a car” remark, she said it was a case of use of “indecent language”. Asked whether Modi becoming the prime minister would pose a danger to the democratic values of India, Gandhi- Bhattacharya said, “I won’t name anyone, because by singling out one person, others cannot be condoned. Whoever comes to power must have compassion and courage.”


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I wouldn’t want to live in India if Modi becomes PM, author Ananthamurthy says (Sep 19, 2013, Times of India)

Jnanpith awardee and acclaimed Kannada writer Dr UR Ananthamurthy has said he will not live in a country with Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, triggering angry reactions from BJP which said he was free to leave India. As a controversy broke out over his strident anti-Modi remark, Ananthamurthy on Thursday stood his ground and said the Gujarat chief minister would create fear among people if he becomes Prime Minister. “I would not want to live in a country where Modi is the Prime Minister,” he said at an event here recently.

Against the backdrop of vitriolic attacks against him from the BJP and its sympathizers for his remarks, Ananthamurthy said, “He (Modi) will create fear and if a fearsome man is sitting there, people will just bow down to him because a bully creates cowards.” The country needs to build a citizenry who are not afraid and a governance where people do not follow a leader slavishly, he told reporters. Furious at Ananthamurthy’s remarks, BJP and supporters of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate dubbed him “parasite like” alleging he swayed according to political climate, having supported Congress and JDS in the past and “currying” favours with the government of the day.

BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde and several local party leaders said he was free to leave the country. Several writers, including Baragur Ramachandrappa and K Marulasiddappa, have come out in support of Ananthamurthy while some others such as noted scholar Dr Chidananda Murthy flayed him. Ananthamurthy – who lost the Man Booker International Prize to American writer Lydia Davis in May this year – said there was dignity attached to Prime Minister’s post when Pandit Nehru and Narasimha Rao assumed the charge, but this will wane away if Modi becomes PM. “We had people like Nehru who could write a book in jail – Discovery of India, a great book even today. Rao was a great scholar too. There was some dignity for the Prime Minister’s post, but that dignity will go (if Modi becomes PM), he said.

On BJP leaders’ attacks on him, Ananthamurthy said he had been critical of Indira Gandhi and Nehru in the past but was never abused as much as the saffron party did. “If I say something and I am abused so much by a gang of people, imagine when they are in power what will happen,” he said. Ananthamurthy said the BJP has always criticized him because he did not buy the RSS Hindu philosophy. “They are a fascist party and don’t understand Hinduism. It is a great religion,” he said. On UPA government, he said it is not anti-people but was corrupt and should be punished. “But the way out is not choosing a man like Modi,” he said.


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Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case: CBI quizzes principal secretary to Modi, top cop (Sep 22, 2013, Times of India)

The audio tapes handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation by jailed IPS officer G L Singhal in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, in which officials are allegedly heard conspiring to subvert encounter cases against them, have returned to haunt the Gujarat chief minister’s office. The CBI on Saturday questioned A K Sharma, JCP (crime branch) and G C Murmu, principal secretary to the CM, in Gandhinagar. Sharma and Murmu were questioned by SP (CBI) Sandeep Tamgadge at the Border Security Force office in the Gujarat capital.

Sharma and Murmu were asked at whose behest was the meeting held, who presided over it and what was its purpose. Earlier, the CBI had taken voice samples of the participants in the meeting and sent them to the Mumbai FSL for verification. Singhal, a key accused in the case, had given the CBI two tapes during his interrogation in February this year, which were later included in the CBI chargesheet.

The tapes are said to contain conversations among officials at a meeting held on November 19, 2011. In the tape, advocate-general Kamal Trivedi, junior ministers Praful Patel and Pradeepsinh Jadeja, Singhal, his lawyer Rohit Verma, Murmu, and jailed police officer Tarun Barot are allegedly heard discussing how to derail the probe into the case. The case was then being probed by the Special Investigation Team constituted by Gujarat HC.

During the questioning, CBI officials offered to play the tapes before Murmu and Sharma, but they said it was not necessary. Sharma reportedly told CBI he knew the tapes were true, but could identify only some voices. However, he refused to accept that the meeting was a bid to derail the probe.


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BJP MLA Suresh Rana arrested for role in Muzaffarnagar riots (Sep 20, 2013, The Hindu)

Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Thana Bhavan, Suresh Rana, became the first MLA to be arrested for his alleged role in fanning communal violence in Muzaffarnagar. A non-bailable warrant of arrest had been issued against him by a Muzaffarnagar court on Wednesday. State IG (Law and Order) R.K. Vishwakarma said the MLA was arrested on Friday from the Hazratganj area of Lucknow while he was on his way to Gomtinagar from the BJP office. Mr. Rana’s arrest came soon after the conclusion of the monsoon session of the Assembly.

Arrest warrants have also been issued against two other BJP MLAs, Sangeet Singh Som and Kunwar Bhartendu Singh. Mr. Vishwakarma told reporters that the action was taken on the basis of the wanted application given by the Muzaffarnagar police. He said Mr. Rana was booked under Sections 188, 153 (A), 353 and 435 of the IPC and Section seven of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which is non-bailable. After his arrest, Mr. Rana was first taken to the Gomtinagar police station and then brought to the State Guest House on Mirabai Marg. He was later produced before a magistrate. A total of 72 persons have been named in the FIRs lodged in connection with the Muzaffarnagar riots.

Non-bailable warrants were issued by a local court in Muzaffarnagar against 16 persons for their alleged role in the communal violence. They include the three BJP MLAs – Sangeet Singh Som, Suresh Rana and Bhartendu Singh – the Bahujan Samaj Party MP from Muzaffarnagar, Qadir Rana; BSP MLAs, Noor Saleem Rana and Jameel Ahmed; former Congress Minister, Saeeduzaman, and the Bharatiya Kisan Union chairman and spokesperson, Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait.

Before his arrest, Mr. Rana had attended the Assembly session. In his clarification on his alleged role in the riots, he claimed he was innocent. He demanded that the compact disc of the Jat mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar be examined and if found guilty, he was willing to be punished. After the House was adjourned sine die, the legislator was escorted to the BJP office by a handful of fellow MLAs.

Reacting to the MLA’s arrest, the State president of the BJP, Laxmikant Bajpai, slammed the State government for pursuing a ‘Muslim appeasement’ policy. He said none of the Muslim MLAs, or MPs against whom warrants have been issued, were arrested. Mr. Bajpai demanded the Centre’s intervention and said the State government should be dismissed.


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Over 50,000 riot victims move to relief camps (Sep 17, 2013, Times of India)

As situation in riot-torn Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in UP inched towards normal, the state government on Monday shifted focus on rehabilitation of over 50,000 people who have taken shelter in 58 government-run and private relief camps in the two districts. Senior officials said the local administration kept a close watch on the situation. The opening day of the Monsoon session of the state assembly witnessed uproarious scenes with the opposition accusing the Akhilesh Yadav government of failing to control the violence that claimed at least 48 lives. Speaker Mata Prasad later adjourned the House till September 18.

Two BJP MLAs – legislature party leader Hukum Singh and Suresh Rana – booked for making inflammatory speeches – were present in the House while the state government claimed “efforts were on” to arrest the guilty. During a visit to Muzaffarnagar on Sunday, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had promised to bring to book all those behind the communal flare-up, regardless of their clout. A senior official said the two MLAs could not be arrested because of the immunity enjoyed by them on the assembly premises. But Lakshmikant Bajpayi, state BJP president, dared the government to arrest the two MLAs who remained in the city after the day’s proceedings in the House.

Two more BJP legislators, one from the Congress and two of Bharatiya Kisan Union also remained “on the run” after being booked for making inflammatory speeches at the mahapanchayat that preceded the riots. The Congress legislators demanded Akhilesh’s resignation, holding his government responsible for the riots and for being “hand-in-glove” with the communal forces. CLP leader Pradeep Mathur said 548 days of SP rule had seen 107 instances of communal violence, an average of one riot every five days.

Officials said some stray instances of firing in the air by bike-borne miscreants were reported from some areas in Muzaffarnagar. More than 12,000 people were taken to preventive custody, they said. Rashtriya Lok Dal national general secretary Jayant Chaudhary said the CM’s visit to Muzaffaranagar on Sunday was an “exercise in futility” and accused the SP and BJP of colluding to polarize the voters in an election year. “The BJP leaders sparked off the violence and were let off by the SP government. Why were they not arrested despites FIRs having been lodged against them?” asked Chaudhary.


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They yelled ‘take away all the girls; they must know what it means to be dishonored’, recalls riots victim (Sep 18, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Around 4,000 victims of the August 27 communal riots in Muzaffarnagar have flocked in Loni in Ghaziabad, the outskirt of the national capital. Most of them are from the riot-affected rural areas of Baghpat, Shamli and Muzaffarnagar. Because of the lack of government support, they are struggling to survive in a madrassa compound in Loni. While several thousand people are living with relatives in the vicinity and the other two-and-a-half thousand are camping at Madrassa Zeenat-e-Islam.

Sitting cross legged on the floor, Haji Babu, the supervisor of the madrassa, tries to speak but cannot utter a single word. With tears in his eyes, he asks this correspondent, “Please go and meet them yourself.” Recounting tales of horror, police apathy and violence, the victims express a brazen cocktail of anger and helplessness. “The fire had already reached the lane behind our house. I had to run with my two daughters,” recounts 25-year-old Khushi (all names changed) as she breastfeeds her daughter. Her younger daughter was just two days old when she had to run away. The police tried to arrest her husband, a daily wage labourer, for “causing riots”. He was let off and joined her two days later.

Another woman in the next room, Farzana fled Dhanwasa village in Baghpat with her three-day-old daughter, sister-in-law and mother-in-law. Nine bullets were fired on her house, which was burnt along with her 10 buffaloes. The entire family of 40 members was displaced. “After my entire family fled, I went back to my house but it was set on fire. I saw a girl, whose breasts were chopped off, was lying half burnt in my house,” says Reshma, Farzana’s mother-in-law. Twenty-two-year-old Jasmeen, who has lost her parents, cries inconsolably while narrating her sufferings. “When a mob of around 40 people attacked my house, I ran to Pradhan (village head) and begged before him for help. But he refused to do so. He and his supporters kept telling me, ‘Go back to Pakistan’, says Jasmeen who was set to get married next month.

“I ran away from my house barefooted when the rioters yelled, ‘take away all the girls. They must know what it means to be dishonoured,” she recalls. Jasmeen fled her village with her three younger siblings. She had to cross a jungle to board a truck carrying 50 more people to reach Loni. Ruksana (20) from Baghpat would have got married on Tuesday. “Our house that was lit up in celebration was burning when we saw it again from a distance,” said Hajra Begum, Ruksana’s mother, while the girl herself remained quiet. Women after women repeat the same story. The women who ran away after delivering babies are now suffering from several diseases. Suman Arora, the nurse stationed in this madrassa, says, “The women who ran away after delivering babies are now suffering from elongated uterus because of stress.” “Because of lack of amenities here like drinking water, there is a risk of epidemic like typhoid. We are also ill-equipped to prevent dengue in the current situation where these refugees are living,” she says. Distributing Parle G biscuits and pouches of drinking water to the victims, Meena, a local resident, says, “These women had no clothes to wear for the first 4-5 days. They hadn’t bathed all this while. The kids who accompanied them were naked. The local residents took out a procession to collect old clothes, soap, money, food grains to help them.” Government officials, including the district magistrate, have visited the madrassa twice. However, no relief has reached so far. …


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K. Rahman Khan seeks ordinance for communal violence bill (Sep 21, 2013, The Hindu)

Union Minister for Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring in a communal violence (prevention and control) bill through the ordinance route. In a letter, he pleaded its urgent need in view of “the recent events of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and tension in adjoining areas.”

Mr. Khan wrote to the Prime Minister on September 11 – and also to United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi – stressing immediate need for a comprehensive law with provisions both for preventing and controlling communal violence and providing adequate relief to the victims of communal carnage. “I am fully aware that in such a short time enacting a law would not be possible. Therefore, I request you to consider issuing an ordinance to deal with the problem under Article 123 of the Constitution,” he wrote.

It is clear from the letter that the Minister thinks that the proposed legislation – an unfinished agenda of UPA-I – has been shelved. The original version of the bill, drafted in 2005, was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The committee submitted its report on the draft in December 2012 and “later it seems the idea of enacting the aforesaid legislation was either deferred or shelved,” he said.

The Minister finds the redrafted bill – circulated for inter-ministerial consultations by the Home Ministry after incorporating the Standing Committee’s suggestions – “weak” and a dilution of the original bill. Mr. Khan had written to the Home Minister pointing out that this bill would “really not serve the desired purpose.” For one, the word “rehabilitation” has been removed from its title.


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Sting finds ‘holes’ in ATS case against Himayat (Sep 21, 2013, Indian Express)

News website on Friday released footage of a sting operation in which five “key” prosecution witnesses in the February 2010 Pune German Bakery blast purportedly claim they gave false testimonies against Mirza Himayat Baig, who has been convicted and sentenced to death for the terror attack. Video clips released by at a press conference showed prosecution witnesses alleging they were tutored by the Maharashtra ATS to give testimonies that suited its case.

“There were three main points on which Baig was convicted: that RDX was seized from the house he had stayed in, that he was of a jehadi mindset and spoke to his friends about it, and that he was seen in Pune with Yasin Bhatkal on the day of the blasts. However, all three points are false. More seriously, five or six crucial prosecution witnesses who deposed against Baig all gave false testimonies. They were constantly tutored, trained, threatened and tortured by the ATS. One witness’s family was detained in the ATS lock-up while he was deposing in court,” Gulail editor Ashish Khetan said.

Asked for a comment, DCP Pradip Sawant of the ATS said, “Two of the witnesses named have given their statements before two different magistrates under section 164 of the CrPC. Another witness turned hostile in court, so how does the question of tutoring arise? One witness who is supposed to have been forced to give false testimony, did not even depose before a court. These allegations will not affect our case.”


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Pay Rs 4 lakh to know about waqf property: UP Sunni waqf board (Sep 21, 2013, Times of India)

If you want to use the RTI Act to know the status of waqf properties – of which there is no official data and many of which is either encroached upon or usurped – you may have to pay lakhs of rupees as fee. Disclosing this startling fact before the Supreme Court on Friday, Moradabad-based NGO, Manav Vikas Sewa Samiti, said the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central waqf Board had told the NGO that cost of information sought on management of listed waqf property was about Rs 4 lakh and would be furnished after it deposited the money.

In response to the RTI query, the Delhi waqf Board said, “No information is readily available. And the information sought by the applicant is quite voluminous and they lack wherewithal to provide the said information as compiling the list of properties, the disputes, suit numbers, courts’ names, present status would be time consuming process and would be an undue burden on our meager resources. Hence, we are unable to process the said information.” Making all waqf boards as respondents in its public interest litigation, the NGO complained that four years have passed since the Centre had framed a scheme in 2009 for preparing computerized inventory of waqf properties and get them back from encroachers, but till date the list had not reached finality.

A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Shiva Kirti Singh issued notices to all the waqf boards and sought their responses to the PIL, which has sought a direction to them to comply with the December 18, 2012 order of the ministry of minority affairs for computerization of all waqf properties. The NGO said a joint parliamentary committee report on waqf in October 2008 had recommended computerization of records of state waqf boards. On the basis of the recommendations, the Centre had launched a scheme under e-governance project of the ministry of minority affairs directing all state waqf boards to streamline the records about the waqf properties. The Centre had earmarked Rs 25 crore for this.

It said, “The waqf properties under encroachment throughout India are worth trillions of rupees. These could have been used for the welfare of widow, poor, orphans, homeless, handicapped and destitute.” “Since the survey of waqf properties have not been done in most of the states, the waqf boards lose out substantial money which could have been generated from these and utilized for the welfare of the Muslim community,” the petitioner said.

While some waqf boards refused to furnish information under RTI Act, others waqf boards, which received central grant for computerization of records about waqf properties, informed the NGO that they have not yet done the mandated work as the Centre had not fixed a timeframe for it.


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Cop arrested for raping 17-year-old girl in Jalgaon (Sep 18, 2013, DNA India)

A constable was arrested in Jalgaon on Tuesday on charges of raping a 17-year-old girl on the pretext of marrying her. Ganesh Vishram Patil, 27, allegedly raped the girl inside the police headquarters in Jalgaon on September 5. The victim reported the matter on Monday night. Police said this could be the first case in Maharashtra where a policeman has been arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Patil joined the force in 2006 and was posted at the Jalgaon police headquarters.

S Jayakumar, Jalgaon SP, said the victim, a student, used to frequent the police welfare swimming pool inside the headquarters for the past few years. “But outsiders had been stopped from using the pool for the past one year as there were no safety staff.” “Patil got to know the victim during swimming classes,” Jayakumar said. The officer said the victim and her relatives visited his office complaining about Patil.

“The victim accused Patil of raping her on September 5. Our preliminary inquiry has revealed both knew each other. Patil had promised to divorce his wife and marry the girl once she became an adult. But he had no intentions of marrying her,” Jayakumar said. Patil, booked under various sections of POCSO, was remanded in police custody till September 21. “We are collecting witness statements and the matter is being investigated by officers of the Zilla Peth police station in Jalgaon,” he said.


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Opinions and Editorials

Narendra Modi And The Reality Of Fascism That Haunts Us All – By V. Arun Kumar (Sep 18, 2013, Countercurrents)

…The rise of Narendra Modi as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha election was not something which was unexpected, but this news chilled me to the bone. I was anxious and uncomfortable for some time. Finding me little uncomfortable, my friend looking at the scrolling on the news channel asked me little sarcastically, “So”. I understood what he meant. I just replied, “The seed of fascism is sown”. Fascism!! Isn’t that too much of exaggeration? Well, not at all. Actually, this is a reality. To understand this reality one must open up the historical repository of fascism and compare it with the present Indian social and political scenario and try placing this man, Narendra Modi, at the centre of the picture. But before venturing into the underworld of fascism and what it has for India, let us first look into the villain figure, Modi.

Narendrabhai Modi, the present chief minister of Gujarat and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate, is someone who is totally unique from all other leaders India has ever seen. India’s post independence history had numerous leaders in power who had shown authoritarian and dictatorship attitudes, but never before there was a leader in power who can be termed as the flag bearer of fascism. A very good orator, crucial leader of right wing political party, member of militant right wing cultural organisation, a staunch believer and soldier of a dominant religious ideology, a person capable of polarizing the masses in the name of religion and the poster boy of Indian bourgeois class. Ah! A perfect ten to join the league of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.

The life of Modi since he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat is well known. 2002 Gujarat genocide which killed thousands of innocent people was all done under the able guidance and auspices of Modi and his fascist goons belonging to the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal. His second stint as Chief Minister saw targeted killings of people from minority Muslim community and branding them as terrorists in a process of delegitimizing the minority population and tagging them as a the ‘problem’. India, a country of 1.2 billion people, is simmering between the two antagonistic forces. One is of a semi feudal structure and other the emerging bourgeoisie class. Indian social and political scenario is as diverse and complex as its cultural scenario.

While states like Kerala has almost come out of its feudal past; many states such as that of the middle Hindi speaking belt are dominated by the feudal landlords and their decrees. The blooming bourgeois society has also created a new middle class in the urban pockets of India. This new middle class, which considers itself the flag bearer of Indian political conscience, will play a very a vital role in fanning the fascistic winds in this country, either by supporting the tide or remaining silent to the onslaught of fascistic elements. Apart from the emerging new middle class, there exist the traditional petty bourgeoisie. Petty bourgeois, unlike the new urban middle class, is more close the proletariat masses. But this closeness is not something which is perfectly bonded. The rise in the social and economical crisis and its impact on the petty bourgeois can easily shift their loyalty towards a new viable alternative. …

India is in crisis, both economic and social. This crisis is the result of the contending forces of feudalism and capitalism, wherein each want to annihilate the other. While the bourgeois society wants to annihilate the feudal remnants for its growth, on the other hand the feudal forces don’t want to lose their dominance over the means of production. In this backdrop the revolutionary forces, if not becoming a cohesive and viable option can easily pave for the emergence of fascist forces. In the process of rise of fascism, the new middle class and petty bourgeoisie will play an important role. Fascism claims answers for all the problems. And I think they have. Shocked?? Fascism is a project where the problem solving technique lies in annihilating all the factors which it thinks is leading to the ‘problem’. And if there are no ‘problem’ creating factors, then there is no problem. How was Hitler trying to solve the problem of ensuring the purity of Aryan race? Simple, exterminate all others. As it is evident from the history (Italy and Germany), fascism has always attracted societies in crisis. But why will a nation support an ideology which aims at killing people? …


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RSS wants Hindu renaissance, Modi is its mascot – By Kingshuk Nag (Sep 16, 2013, Times of India)

Who said that the next Prime Ministerial battle will be between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi? In reality it will be a war between the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Congress. To put it succinctly it will be a battle between all that the Congress supposedly stands for and all that the RSS signifies. If you want to stretch the argument it will be a battle between competing visions of what constitutes the idea of India. Have no illusion, Modi has been catapulted to be the Prime Ministerial candidate not because the BJP Parliamentary Board selected him (supposedly on the demand of the party’s cadres) but due to the diktats of the RSS.

The RSS is the fountain head of the sangh parivar and controls its various arms including the BJP and dozen others like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra (VKK) and the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The RSS’ avowed objective is to work for Hindu renaissance in India and the organization pushed Narendra Modi to the top with a purpose. The RSS’s bosses felt that Modi – in the present context – would be the right guy to fulfill the stated aspirations and goals of the organization. By doing so they pushed out their earlier mascot Lal Krishna Advani who had furthered the organization’s objectives effectively by launching the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the early 1990s. He is also the guy who galvanized the BJP after the party had been reduced to holding 2 seats in Lok Sabha in the elections held in the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. But in the end he could take the organization thus far and no more. He could not consolidate the “Hindu” vote to a size that would enable the BJP to capture India electorally.

The Ram Janmabhoomi movement came to a naught although the Babri Masjid was demolished and in the 1993 elections in UP (where Ayodhya is situated), the BJP had to cede ground to the BSP whose representative Mayawati became chief minister. The Ram temple for which the Babri Masjid was razed to ground never came although the country witnessed major communal conflicts in the aftermath of the movement. Realizing that the movement had to not help realized the RSS’s dream of putting the BJP in power, L K Advani signaled in 1995 that the moderate A B Vajpayee and not he would be the mascot of the BJP. This was a strategic move: a kind of strategic retreat by the RSS combine that allowed the BJP to come to power in 1998 and 1999 and remain in power till 2004. It was not a total RSS/ BJP government because the party came to power in association with other parties who jointly formed a National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Therefore the RSS could not push its core agenda much but was content to wait for a more opportune moment.

However in Gujarat, the RSS was able to install one of its proteges as chief minister. He was none other than Modi. The earlier chief minister Keshubhai Patel was also a RSS man but not as strident or zealous as Modi. Narendra Modi had joined the RSS full time as a seventeen year old after coming to Ahmedabad from his village in Vadnagar 100 kilometers away and serving as a tea vendor for a while. Modi was fully engaged in RSS staying at its Ahmedabad headquarters and schooled in the organization’s culture. As such Narendra Modi personified the interests of the RSS. Well known is the fact that there was an unprecedented polarization in the state after the Gujarat riots of 2002 –which took place barely a few months after Narendra Modi ascended the chief ministerial gaddi. Under unprecedented attack, Prime Minister Vajpayee (never a hardline RSS member) wanted to drop Modi. But he was prevented from doing so by Advani, the RSS’s chief representative in the BJP. So Modi continued and in the aftermath of the polarization caused by him, he romped back to power in the December 2002 elections.

After losing elections in 2004, the BJP has never come back to power in Delhi. In Gujarat however Modi continued his run and got re-elected in 2007 and 2012.But with the 2014 elections coming close, the RSS’s desire to see a BJP government in New Delhi has intensified. It sees hope in the constant bungling by the Congress led UPA government in the last few years what with massive corruption scandals whether it is related to the Commonwealth Games, Telecom licenses or allocation of coal blocks. The RSS has realized that large sections of people desire change and wants to tap into this segment who might just vote for change not waiting to figure out what is the change that they want. They also would not bother to analyze what is the change that the RSS and its political affiliate BJP stand for. …


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Communal Polarisation and the NaMo Effect – By Archana Prasad (Sep 22, 2013, Peoples Democracy)

Though Narendra Modi (NaMo) was announced as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP only last week, the impact of his national role has been felt since the beginning of this year. Majoritarian Hindu communalism has shown its blatant fascistic face by engineering a series of communal riots in the wake of this impending announcement. The obvious message is that the BJP is attempting to use such politics to create a ‘Hindu vote bank.’ Whatever its electoral consequences, this dangerous politics is a threat to the basic social fabric of the country as it destroys the mutual trust and class unity between different social groups within the working classes. In this sense, it also fundamentally harms and reduces the space for a democratic and Left challenge to the economic fascism of a neo-liberal regime. The communal riots in Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are reflective of the political polarisation that is being effected through the appointment of hard-headed communal poll managers in different states, especially Uttar Pradesh.

One of the first aspects to note about the riots in the recent times is the way in which trivial incidents have been used to polarise public opinion. In January 2013 the Dhule riots were created out of a minor incident which was ignored by the police. However, this incident was used by Hindu organisations to target the life and property of the Muslims. In Bihar too, similar minor incidents and the inaction of the police repeatedly formed the basis of the mobilisation of Hindu mobs. This underlying aggression of majoritarian communalism has been a result of the development of a Hindu ‘nationalist’ and anti-migrant consciousness through the penetration of communal organisations in local politics. In this sense the political anointment of Modi as a prime ministerial candidate is also reflective of way in which such a polarisation is being attempted.

A case in the point is communal strife in Nawada and Bettiah districts of Bihar where at least six instances of inter-community clashes were recorded after the split between the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The stage for the last month’s riots in the state was set by the entry of Narendra Modi as the chief campaigner and his address to the Bihar BJP cadre towards the end of July 2013. As always, the speech attacked the UPA government, ‘weak PM’ and the ‘Muslim appeasement politics’ of both the Congress party as well as the Janata Dal (United). It was clear that the BJP was setting up the political foundations for a justification of the violent clashes between the cadres of the two parties and building up communal tension before the riots that took place on the eve of Eid.

This was reflected in Bettiah where Hindu ‘nationalist’ organisations provoked Muslims through slogans about the ‘appeasement politics’ of the Congress. In Nawada, violent mobs raised slogans supporting Narendra Modi and targeting Muslim establishments. In the Muzaffar Nagar riots in Uttar Pradesh the khap mahapanchayat was used to fan majoritarian communal sentiments and turn the dominant Jats against the Muslims. The direct political connection was seen from the fact that four BJP MLAs were arrested for inciting riots and fanning communal tensions. The significant role of reworking the caste alliances in the creation of such riots, too, cannot be underestimated. The Sangh Parivar not only sees Modi as a mascot of Hindutva but also as an OBC leader who will expand the social basis of the BJP. Hence in Bihar the campaign projecting Narendra Modi as an OBC leader intensified just prior to the Nawada and Bettiah riots. The attempt of the BJP is to create a new alliance between the upper castes and the OBCs (other backward classes) in order to win Bihar in 2014. Communal propaganda is helping this process of social engineering.

The strains of this can be seen also in the Muzaffar Nagar riots where the main communal tension is between the Jats and the Muslims who are being targeted by violent mobs. Hence the Modi factor is not confined to a general polarisation between the Hindus and the Muslims, but aims at creating a division between the OBCs and other deprived sections. In this sense the Sangh Parivar’s strategy is essentially divisive and it not only creates communal strife but also seeks to use its hegemonic majoritarianism to create caste tensions in the society. Thus the penetration of the Sangh Parivar has to be understood in terms of its widening and transforming social basis if it is to be countered in an effective manner. …


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Politics of hate and divide: Hindutva undermines social stability required for growth – By B.G. Verghese (Sep 17, 2013, The Tribune)

The Muzaffarnagar riots are another terrible blot on India’s democracy and integrity. To kill innocent people in cold blood for some petty political gain is barbaric. The Samajwadi Party bears prime responsibility for inactivity in the face of gathering storm warnings. It took stern action to prevent the 84-kos parikrama yatra around Ayodhya, slyly suspended a young, innocent SDM for allegedly vitiating communal harmony by itself playing the communal card, and then allowed Muzaffarnagar and the adjacent countryside to burn for days.

The caste politics of the BJP and Ajit Singh’s RLD also played out in a bid to break the winning but weakening Muslim-Jat combination in western U.P in the hope of electoral gain. It allowed a Muslim panchayat and then a far more provocative mahapanchayat organised by the Bharatiya Kisan Union at which incendiary speeches were made by BJP, Congress and other party leaders. Hindus were instigated to violent retaliation for an incident that was videographed in Sialkot, Pakistan, two years ago but now morphed to transplant a scene of “Muslim terror” in Muzaffarnagar. The fake video went viral on Facebook and was reproduced in some Hindi dailies even as the State tried to block its circulation. There is dangerous mischief afoot and the origin and trajectory of the fake video need to be traced.

The VHP has a take on this too. The joint general secretary of its Meerut branch, Chandra Mohan Sharma, told The Hindu that on August 27 a Muslim boy teased a Hindu girl, triggering tension. A fake video of this “incident” was screened at the mahapanchayat at which the need for Hindus to protect their young women was stressed, fuelling passions. The VHP’s regional secretary at Meerut, Sudarshan, accused the SP government of being partial to Muslims. The U.P Bajrang Dal chief, Balraj Singh, spoke of a “wider conspiracy”. He accused the Muslims of circulating the fake August 27 video to terrorise Hindus and cause them to leave their homes “in panic and fear” like the Kashmiri Pandits. “Like in Kashmir, Muslims want to take over the State. They want to take over Hindu property and Hindu women through ‘love jehad’ …… in order to expand the Muslim population, using Hindu girls as machines”. To this bit of vicious nonsense Sudarshan added that the mahapanchayat was followed by “a Godhra” and “what happened after that was a reaction on the lines of post-Godhra in Gujarat. The Hindus did not sit back….Victory will be ours. The Sangh’s work is to unite the Hindus, to protect our temples, women, cows, Ganga, our religion”. (The Hindu, September 11, 2013, Delhi edition).

This extensive quote is the Sangh Parivar’s credo which was repeated in slightly different terms at the RSS-BJP meeting in Delhi on September 11, also attended by Praveen Togadia, the VHP chief, to discuss their “core agenda” of Hindutva. According to ManmohanVaidya of the RRS, Nitin Gadkari “spoke of the Ramjanambhoomi movement and temple construction, Article 370, cow protection, saving the Ganga and a common civil code”. Enter Narenrda Modi, crowned the BJP’s prime ministerial face on September 13, and exemplar of the Gujarat 2002 “action-reaction” theory in which the “action” is contrived – in executing which pogrom he was ably backstopped by Advani as the Union Home Minister. Advani once again expressed his protest at this premature elevation of the man before the autumn elections in four states by boycotting the BJP parliamentary board meeting. But he was ignominiously ignored, though damned with faint praise.

The BJP taunt asking the Congress to name Modi’s opponent at the 2014 hustings is a bit of tomfoolery that only a trivialising media and empty minds find crucially important. If this is the BJP’s “programme”, then heaven help it. The Congress has a PM whose parliamentary term extends to 2019 or thereabouts. There is no compulsion in the party to make a new announcement here and now. The BJP has entered a new phase with the RSS actively in command and Hindutva as its masthead. This ploy has backfired in the past as it divides the nation even though it might consolidate a section of the Hindus. Others, including many in the corporate world, realise this but believe Modi’s “development card” will triumph. Their calculus is problematic as development and investment must be postulated on long-term social stability which is what Hindutva undermines, apart from being regressive in itself. …


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Branded for life – By Vidya Subrahmaniam (Sep 22, 2013, The Hindu)

The Hyderabad police came for Mohammad Rayeesuddin on February 24, 2013 – three days after the Dilsukhnagar twin blasts shattered the city’s fragile calm, killing 17 and injuring over a hundred. The 30-year-old man returned home fatigued from daylong grilling only to be again picked up a week later and subjected to more interrogation. This time, he was with the police for over 15 hours, and his panicked family began to imagine the worst. Rayeesuddin’s mother and wife had reasons to worry. The family’s breadwinner was one among the 30-odd males picked up in August-September 2007 for suspected involvement in the Mecca Masjid and Gokul Chat Bhandar blasts. After weeklong torture in various police hideouts, Rayeesuddin was shown as formally arrested and sent to trial. On February 14, 2008, he obtained conditional bail, and on December 31, 2009, the Court of the VII Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge cleared him and the other accused of all charges.

The Hindu got in touch with Rayeesuddin in February 2011, and what emerged was the familiar and heart-breaking story of ‘once a terror suspect always a terror suspect.’ Hum utthe baitthe dar me rahte hain [I live in constant fear],” he said, talking of the constant presence in his life of the khaki uniform. The policemen turned up on expected occasions, such as the anniversaries of the Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat anti-Muslim violence and whenever a terror alert was sounded. Often they did not even need the fig leaf; they would turn up just to let him know that he will never stop being under watch. So when the inevitable happened, and the police knock came in the aftermath of the Dilsukhnagar blasts, Rayeesuddin’s family was understandably crazed with worry. Rayeesuddin himself told The Hindu: “My life is ruined.” He also had a logical question to ask: “I know what it is to go to jail and face torture. Freedom came to me after so much pain, would I forgo it all to get involved in a fresh terror attack?”

Very recently, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) declared the absconding Riyaz Bhatkal the primary suspect in the Dilsukhnagar blasts. It also produced Bhatkal’s associate Asadullah Akhtar in a local court, naming him a second key suspect. But this in itself is no guarantee that the Mecca Masjid boys will finally be free of the ‘forever surveillance’ that has been their fate since 2007. After all, they were freed of the Mecca Masjid charges because a Hindutva link had surfaced when the case was reinvestigated. If that did not stop the police visits, there is hardly any reason why the alleged Bhatkal link to the Dilsukhnagar blasts will. For those acquitted, the tragedy is compounded by the fact of their being Muslim. After much humming and hawing, the Andhra Pradesh Government ordered compensation to those released in the Mecca Masid blasts and other similar cases. The decision itself was taken under pressure from the National Commission for Minorities, which visited the victim boys, and noted the abominable condition in which they lived. Yet the compensation had not even been fully disbursed when the Andhra Pradesh High Court cancelled the award and ordered the State government to recover the sum it had already disbursed. The order, which termed the award illegal and beyond the jurisdiction of the government, was a stunning blow – both to those who had received the compensation and those waiting in eager anticipation for their turn. For the terror acquitted, the compensation was more than a means of starting a new life. It was official recognition that they had been wrongly accused.

Only a terror accused knows what it is to be officially freed of the terror tag. In a society where ordinary Muslim citizens find it difficult to get jobs and accommodation, the Muslim terror tag is equivalent of being condemned to non-existence. Of course, accusations of torture and worse have been made equally by Hindutva-linked terror accused such as Pragya Thakur and Aseemanand. However, the vast majority of those picked up are Muslims, and as an agonised activist told The Hindu: “Muslim boys get picked up in the first place because they are Muslim. They are the first suspects regardless of whether or not there is an actual Islamist connection to the terror act. And then, when they are acquitted, they cannot ask for compensation because the Constitution prohibits religion-based discrimination.” Ironic indeed! Surely it could not have been the intention of our founding fathers that the injunction against religion-based discrimination ought to be used to further discrimination. In the Mecca Masjid case, as in many others, there is clear evidence of police and administrative mala fides. This was systematic State-sponsored discrimination. If the State finally, and at its leisure, moves to compensate those it victimised by design, how can that be bad in law?

The logic is compelling, and that is perhaps why on September 19, the Andhra Pradesh High Court recalled the stay order on the compensation awarded to those acquitted in the Mecca Masjid and other cases. Not every terror accused comes even close to getting compensation. Mohammad Aamir, who spent 14 years in jail as the main accused in 20-odd low intensity bomb blasts executed between 1996 and 1997 in Delhi and neighbourhood, finally walked free in January 2011, fully acquitted in 17 cases and acquitted on appeal in one more case. The remaining two cases, in which too acquittals are eventually expected, hold only academic significance today because Aamir has already served more than the maximum prison term of 10 years for offences in these cases. Aamir emerged from jail to a hero’s welcome. The press celebrated his freedom, and he himself laboured under the illusion that there would be an official compensation for the ordeal he endured. While he was in jail, his father passed away and his mother suffered a paralytic attack. But every government official he met stood up to receive him, commiserated with his plight and made promises that were, of course, never fulfilled. …


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Asaram’s empire – By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Oct 4, 2013, Frontline)

A regular feature of the satsangs (spiritual gatherings) of the self-styled godman Asaram is atmasudhar or soul cleansing. Using a number of Hindu mythological narratives, he reaches similar conclusions every time – atmasudhar can happen only when you live a “pious life”, one that is free of sexual desires and any form of Western influence. This, coupled with a vegan diet and regular meditation, can lead to soul cleansing, he preaches. Meat-eating, according to him, is a foreign habit and is the root cause of aggravated sexual desire and aggression among people. Sexual conduct, according to him, should be governed only by the need to keep the life cycle alive. And this is weaved into the broader narrative ofdeshseva(service to the nation).

His satsangs, therefore, become a vendetta platform against all forms of Western import into India. For him, if a person indulges in soft drinks, meat or junk food, or wears costumes such as denims and T-shirts or falls in love before marriage, it prevents him fromatmasudhar. Through this discourse-a sordid mix of social conservatism, Brahminism, moral policing, all linked to the parochial idea of a nation – he not only demonises meat-eating communities (especially minorities in India) as foreigners and as people who are aggressively sexual, but also entrenches a world view that is widely practised by right-wing Hindu nationalist forces.

Not surprisingly, the popularity of Asaram grew by leaps and bounds in the late 1980s and early 1990s, exactly the period when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement became the stepping stone for Hindu nationalists in the Indian polity. This was also the period when the Hindu nationalist movement reoriented its political strategy towards a reactionary anti-Westernisation dialogue, indulging in various forms of moral policing, an aspect that Asaram’s teachings too reflect.

With India adopting the policies of liberalisation and globalisation in the early 1990s, market-driven consumerism and individualism were slowly becoming a norm. People were grappling with the changed ideas of living and Asaram tapped into this insecurity by employing atmasudhar. A natural corollary of this linkage is that Asaram continues to get political patronage from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled State governments – especially Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat-despite the many cases of murder, land-grabbing and sexual assault against him. When he was recently arrested on charges of rape, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Hindu Jagruti Manch organised violent agitations across the country. …


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Book Review

Liberalisation, Hindu Nationalism and the State: A Biography of Gujarat

Author: Nikita Sud
Reviewed by: Sanjeevini Badigar
Available at: OUP, Ground Floor, YMCA Library Building, 1, Jai Singh Road, Post Box 43, New Delhi – 110001,India, 2012; pp xvii + 249, Rs 695..
Gujarat and Its ‘Protean’ State (Sep 28, 2013, EPW)

Gujarat has been much in the news in the past decade where economic growth and communal violence have been pitted against each other as being typical or representative of the state. Nikita Sud’s brilliant book, which examines the trajectories of economic liberalisation and Hindu nationalism, seeks to challenge such notions about Gujarat, which she argues deserves “more than being boxed into single, unimaginative categories” (p 184). Presented as a “Biography of Gujarat”, the book is a rich empirical account that examines the trajectory of economic liberalisation and Hindu nationalism over time to portray a complex picture of a protean state, eluding definitive pronouncements of “possibilities in ideas, action and politics” (p 184). …

The next section examines Hindu nationalism, beginning with its emergence and its consolidation in modern-day Gujarat. To trace the path to Hindu communalism the author begins with 19th century reformist movements, revivalist movements and traces the development of groupings over time that form what is today the Sangh parivar or the “family of the Sangh”. In examining the relationship between secularism, Hindu nationalism and the state, the book examines major riots in the state in the post-Independence period. Sud argues that even though secularism is the avowed constitutional ideal, in practice in 1969 and subsequently through major instances of communal violence in the 1980s, 1990s and in 2002, state officials did not exercise their constitutional obligation neutrally – thus leading to an increasing de-secularisation in the state that reached its nadir in 2002.

The chapter however concludes that the state in Gujarat did not come across as unambiguously secular even before 2002 and that the government’s support for the cultural-nationalist agenda has been constrained by alternative norms and pressures thereafter – it cannot be said that the state in Gujarat represents the quintessential Hindu-rashtra today. The earlier chapters in the book do arrive at the conclusion that there has been a shift in political economy from an “era of land to the tiller to land for liberalisation” (p 113). However, the author somehow desists from stating the same with respect to communal violence, despite highlighting shifts in the communalisation of the state, particularly, since the 1980s that reached its lowest point in 2002. After presenting empirical evidence for the erosion of the principle of neutrality and the penetration of right-wing forces in the bureaucracy, the author’s conclusion against what she describes as generalisations and “deterministic pronouncements of paradigm shifts and political juggernauts” (p 184) comes as a surprise for a number of reasons.

The alternative norms and pressures that have served to constrain the state, which otherwise had a popular mandate, have come largely from outside the state and even outside the country. It was due to the larger political milieu in Gujarat that the government in power at the time of the 2002 violence has been re-elected emphatically and where, by the author’s own account, “vast swathes of bureaucracy, police and the public service providers in sectors such as health and education demonstrate convergence with the agenda of Hindu supremacist nation state” (p 196) and not to mention the not-so-uncommon signboards that declare places as “Hindu rashtra”, that activists and lawyers have had to use such expressions. Although their voices found little resonance in the political apparatus within Gujarat, the sustained campaign of civil-society groups and the media did, however, succeed in bringing to light human-rights violations and the threat of imminent miscarriage of justice that led to the national and international public outcry. Depositions of victims and activists before the commission appointed by the state government to inquire into the violence, the Nanavati-Shah Commission of Inquiry,1 proved ineffectual and the initiatives undertaken by the commission to investigate the actions of the state came primarily due to pressures from outside the state (Khetan 2011; Jaffrelot 2012). …


IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 22nd, 2013

July 23, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Enough evidence to put Modi on trial for 2002 riots: Zakia Don’t want Modi as my PM: Amartya Sen Blow to Modi: SC rejects review of Lokayukta’s appointment BJP, RSS behind communal tensions in Rajasthan, says Brinda Karat NCP questions BJP on Ayodhya temple donations Poison […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 8th, 2013

July 9, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Narendra Modi used officers’ mobiles during riots? ‘A narrow thinking man cannot serve India’: Maya takes a jibe at Narendra Modi Vanzara said he had Modi’s nod to kill Ishrat: Gujarat cop Kumar oversaw detention of man murdered with Ishrat In the wake of Ishrat encounter […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 1st, 2013

July 2, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Narendra Modi instigated Hindus post Godhra train burning: Zakia Jafri’s lawyer Modi, Shah knew of plot to kill Ishrat: CBI official Probe role of IB in anti-terror operations: Rihai Manch IB officials under CBI scanner over Sadiq case too Act against IPS officers who ‘framed’ Muslims […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 3rd, 2013

June 4, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Godhra riots case: Zakia Jafri takes on Narendra Modi, looks forward to justice Probe role of Modi, Shah in 2003 fake encounter case: Sadiq’s brother CBI summons IB official for ‘fake alerts’ ahead of Ishrat encounter Custodial death: Mujahid’s family turns down UP govt’s compensation Police […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 6th, 2013

May 7, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Indian Americans welcome USCIRF’s recommendation to continue the ban on Modi’s US visa News Headlines US panel seeks continued visa ban on Narendra Modi ‘Top cop Pandey, now on run, plotted Ishrat encounter with IB man’ Jailed encounter cop caught on camera ‘visiting home’ Was Kauserbi killed […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 8th, 2012

October 9, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Narendra Modi trained by RSS in ‘Nazi tradition’: Digvijaya Singh Missing Patia convict caught, jailed for 31 years Gujarat govt blocked RTI info on Narendra Modi’s own foreign jaunts Sohrabuddin encounter: Amin’s bail plea rejected 1,528 victims of fake encounters in Manipur: PIL Cops to be […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 17th, 2012

September 17, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Naroda Gam trial resumes Modi all dressed up for RSS meet, but doesn’t get invite Sadiq encounter: IB sleuths in CBI net too Ghaziabad: Cops watched when rioters rallied “Special Cell tried to arrest Kazmi’s nephew” Criminal dereliction of duty led to Assam riots: Report Shocked […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 30th, 2012

April 30, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements US’ reaffirmation of visa denial to Modi welcomed by IAMC News Headlines A dead CM’s account of his 2002 encounter with Modi, now with rights panel NO change in US stand on denial of visa to Modi Gujarat riots: Witnesses want convicts to be tried for conspiracy […]

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