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Gujarat riots

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 14th, 2014

by newsdigest on July 15, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

UK fights for Britons killed in Gujarat riots (Jul 12, 2014, Times of India)

Britain has asked India to speed up action against the killers of three Britons murdered during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat. Foreign secretary William Hague made the request while raising British concerns about the delay in justice for the three during his recently-concluded India visit.

“The Foreign Secretary raised this case during his call on Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, the appropriate person to raise consular issues with,” said a foreign office spokesperson. “The foreign secretary raised our concern about the delays in taking forward these cases and undertook to follow up with more detail in writing. Mrs Swaraj took note of our concerns.”

British brothers Saeed and Shakil Dawood were killed along with their friend, Mohammed Aswat. They were among over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed in the riots. The three men of Gujarati origin were visiting the state as tourists when they were killed. The remains of the three are yet to be returned even after 12 years. Six men were initially charged with the murders. But they were released on bail and a number of key witnesses turned hostile.…

The mob circled the jeep and asked the occupants their religious identity. “The tourists answered they were British citizens and were Muslims. The hired driver was then dragged out of the jeep and attacked with sticks and killed on the spot,” the statement said. “His body was then thrown back into the vehicle and set alight. In the meantime, the British tourists were chased to a nearby farm. Mohammed Aswat and Imran were stabbed and left to dead. Imran miraculously survived and he recalls Saeed and Shakil pleading with the mob to spare all their lives.”

The family said it has endured this terrible tragedy and their grief is compounded by the lack of serious Indian police investigation. “The family has had to visit the crime scene themselves, find vital clues and collate forensic evidence including the charred remains of bodies,” the statement said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/38229620.cms

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Cop accused by CBI of firing at Ishrat is back at work (Jul 12, 2014, Indian Express)

Weeks after Gujarat reinstated IPS officer G L Singhal, one of the key accused in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case, another accused policeman is back at work. The suspension of constable Anaju Chaudhary, accused by the CBI of firing 10 rounds from a sten gun at Ishrat and three others, was revoked on July 2 by the state government. He has been posted to the State Reserve Police (SRP) camp in Godhra.

Chaudhary is the third accused to be reinstated. Inspector Bharat A Patel, who was arrested but never chargesheeted, was the first to return to work. He is currently posted at Prantij police station in Sabarkantha district. On May 27, the government revoked the suspension of Singhal. The order reinstating him as commandant of the SRP in Gandhinagar was with retrospective effect from May 16.

Nineteen-year-old Mumbai girl Ishrat, her friend Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed by Gujarat police officers near Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The officers claimed they were gunned down in an encounter, that they were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives on a mission to kill the then chief minister Narendra Modi. But the CBI said their investigation found nothing to suggest that the four had come to assassinate Modi. Two earlier probes – by a magistrate and a special investigation team constituted on the orders of the Gujarat High Court – had declared the encounter as fake.

The magistrate had said the officers killed the four to get promotions and laurels.In February this year, the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet in the case – the two chargesheets have been filed against 11 accused. On May 7, the agency gave a clean chit to Gujarat’s former home minister Amit Shah, citing insufficient evidence.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat/cop-accused-by-cbi-of-firing-at-ishrat-is-back-at-work/

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Why give a top post to murder accused: Congress (Jul 10, 2014, Times of India)

Congress slammed BJP over appointment of Amit Shah as party chief, asking whether the saffron party had “limited talent” that forced it to go in for an accused in a murder charge for the top post. “The nation is obviously mystified as to how no other better talent is available in BJP except a murder accused on bail and formally externed for two years from one part of India,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.

The party termed the appointment as unprecedented, saying Shah is an accused in a murder charge, and is on bail. Describing Shah’s appointment as BJP chief as a “sad day for democracy”, AAP said BJP had lowered the minimum moral qualification for the post.

“By appointing Mr Shah as its chief, the BJP has lowered the minimum moral qualification required for leaders to head major political parties in the country. It is difficult to recall any other example in which a leader who faced serious criminal charges including murder, extortion and kidnapping was anointed as chief of a national political party,” a statement by the party said.

AAP said Shah is currently out on bail and is facing serious charges of having masterminded the alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausarbi and an eyewitness in the case Tulsiram Prajapati.

“In his first major speech in Parliament as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi had stressed on deciding cases of MPs facing criminal charges within a year to free this important institution of democracy from criminals. Now, by appointing an individual who is facing trial in cases of murder, conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, destruction of evidence and wrongful confinement as party president – are Mr Modi and BJP indicating that office-bearers of political parties enjoy immunity from criminalization of politics,” AAP said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/38097893.cms

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Home Ministry has destroyed over 1.5 lakh files: CPM (Jul 9, 2014, IBN)

Citing media reports, a CPI-M member on Wednesday claimed in Rajya Sabha that the Home Ministry had destroyed over 1.5 lakh crucial files on the instruction of the Prime Minister, triggering uproar and adjournment of the House. Raising the matter during the Zero Hour, P Rajeeve said that the destroyed files included some historical documents relating to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and the Cabinet discussions held immediately thereafter.

He alleged that instructions to destroy the files were given by the Prime Minister immediately after taking oath, even as the claims were dismissed by the government. “I would like to know why this decision was taken in a hurry,” Rajeeve said, with several members from the opposition benches associating themselves with his concern.

“You cannot scrap history by destroying secret files,” Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad dismissed the charges, saying, “I deny it emphatically that the Prime Minister had given such instructions.” Alleging that such an attempt was intended at destroying records about the alleged involvement of some Hindu elements in Gandhi’s assassination, Rajeeve demanded a reply from the Prime Minister. He was supported by Congress and TMC members.

While the Chair ruled that the matter should be put to rest after the minister’s statement, the members refused to relent and demanded a reply from the Prime Minister. Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) demanded that action should be taken against the editors of newspapers who have carried the report if the allegations are proved wrong. Amid uproar, the Chair adjourned the House for an hour till 2 PM.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/home-ministry-has-destroyed-over-15-lakh-files-cpm/484814-37-64.html

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Babri demolition case: Non-bailable warrants against 2 BJP MPs (Jul 14, 2014, Times of India)

A CBI special court on Monday issued non-bailable warrants against six accused in the Babri demolition case. These people had been skipping court hearing since long.

The accused include two BJP MPs, Sakshi Maharaj from Unnao and Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh from Kaiserganj, besides Amarnath Goyal, Jai Bahadur Goyal, Ramchandra Khatri and Pawan Pandey.

Pawan Pandey was earlier in Shiv Sena but contested recent the Lok Sabha election on BSP ticket against BJP’s Varun Gandhi from Sultanpur.

The case of demolition is under trial against 22 accused including two BJP MPs in Lucknow. Another case, against 13 other accused, is underway in Rae Bareli special court.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/38373028.cms

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DSP investigating Muzaffarnagar riot cases alleges Baliyan of intervention that led to his suspension (Jul 10, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Suspended Deputy Superintendent of Police and Circle officer of Budhana Circle in Muzaffarnagar district, Shailendra Lal has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court urging direction against the impugned suspension order and to direct the state government to provide adequate security and protection to him.

DySP of Budhana in Muzaffarnagar, Shailendra Lal, and circle officer of Chandpur in Bijnore, Nirmal Kumar Bisht, were suspended with on June 10, for ‘dereliction of duty’ and laxity and lack of foresight in dealing with cases of crime against women in their respective districts on the orders of Home Secretary Vishal Chauhan.

The suspended Cop has directly accused the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Sanjeev Baliyan and Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Baliyan for “direct intervention and threat.” He alleges that he has been suspended due to intervention of Baliyan, and hence he feels a “sense threat to life and liberty at large.”

Baliyan is an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot case for attending the Mahapanchayat and giving instigating speeches.

http://twocircles.net/2014jul10/dsp_investigating_muzaffarnagar_riot_cases_alleges_intervention_baliyan_his_suspension

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Assam Villagers Protest the Murders of Muslim Lemon Traders (Jul 14, 2014, Wall Street Journal)

Tension mounted in India’s northeastern state of Assam as hundreds of villagers took to the streets to protest the killings of four Muslim traders whose bodies were found over the weekend, state police officials said. On Sunday, police officials fired rubber bullets and used batons to break up protestors who violated a curfew and beat up a police officer in Assam’s Baksa district, Vinod Seshan, a district magistrate in Baksa, told The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

As the army and paramilitary forces stepped up patrols in the area, the protesters retreated to their homes, officials said. “The situation is under control. A curfew is in place in some areas to ensure nothing untoward happens,” Mr. Seshan said. The army also has been “put on high alert,” he said.

The four Muslim men, identified as lemon traders, went missing Friday from a village in Baksa district where they had traveled to sell their goods, said Lajja Ram Bishnoi, a police official in Assam. The body of one man was found on the bank of the Beki river, while the three others were spotted in paddy fields, he said.

All the bodies had severe head injuries, Mr. Bishnoi said. He said no arrests have been made because it’s “not yet clear” who might have been responsible. “We have launched a massive investigation to find out the motive behind the killing and those involved in the crime,” Mr. Bishnoi said.

State police said they suspect that a faction of a separatist group, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, may have been responsible for Friday’s kidnappings. The Bodoland organization, which seeks an independent homeland for the Bodo, an ethnic group, denied responsibility.…

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/07/14/assam-villagers-protest-the-murders-of-muslim-lemon-traders/

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Congress alleges Vaidik-Saeed meeting at govt’s behest (Jul 15, 2014, Times of India)

The Congress on Monday alleged the involvement of Prime Minister’s Office in the meeting of journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik with 26/11 attack mastermind and JuD Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan, asking the BJP government to “come clean” on the issue. Rejecting the government’s contention that it had nothing to do with the meeting, the opposition party said Vaidik was “very close to the Sangh Parivar” and was associated with saffron think tank Vivekanand International Foundation.…

“This is a very serious matter relating to national security. The PMO is directly involved in it,” said Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed. The Congress leader said Vaidik belonged to the same organisation (Vivekananda International Foundation) whose three members – Nripendra Misra, PK Mishra and Ajit Doval – are Principal Secretary to PM, Additional Principal Secretary in PMO and as National Security Advisor (NSA).

“Now the fourth person, Vaidik, who also worked in the Foundation, Vaidik, has met the most wanted terrorist in India, who is an accused in Mumbai terror strikes. A serious question arises. Did he go to meet Hafiz Saeed at the instruction of the Prime Minister?” Ahmed said.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/38399857.cms

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Minorities Commission report on Kishanbagh communal violence agitates human rights group (Jul 14, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Report of Andhra Pradesh State Minorities Commission on Kishanbagh communal violence has not gone down well with Human rights groups who felt recommendation of the commission is “like a report of a subordinate officer submitting to its higher officials.”

Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC) wrote a letter to its chairman Abid Rasool Khan describing Commission report as “A complete bureaucratic report lacking on Human rights concept.”

Minorities Commission chairman Mr. Abid Rasool Khan on 8th July submitted the report to Governor E.S.L. Narsimham and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on May 14th communal violence between Sikhs and Muslims in Kishanbagh where three Muslims were killed in para military firing.

Although the report has not yet been made public, according to media reports, Minorities Commission in its report recommended establishing of new police station in the communally sensitive area of Arsh Mahal as a preventive measure hinting at a possible resurrection of similar violence.…

http://twocircles.net/2014jul14/minorities_commission_report_kishanbagh_communal_violence_agitates_human_rights_group.html

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Saki Naka cops under police probe (Jul 14, 2014, Times of India)

A departmental inquiry has begun into the conduct of Saki Naka police personnel following a TOI report. A victim of sexual harassment claimed that she was being tormented by the police after she lodged an FIR. A fresh statement of the 32-year-old woman has been recorded by an assistant commissioner of police. At least four cops from the Saki Naka police station have been questioned. The state commission for women is monitoring the developments.

The woman lodged the FIR at the police station on June 19 against a former classmate, Pravin Shetty, after he sent her 21 pornographic pictures on a cellphone app. He was arrested, but got bail in three days. A constable visited the woman’s residence in her absence, and spoke ill of her to her family.

She was also summoned to the police station at odd hours. Once she was told to “forget about her cellphone”, which had been taken for examination. Also, an unidentified man began to stalk her. “After the departmental enquiry began, the stalking has stopped. But if it resumes, I might ask for police protection,” the woman told TOI.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/38385985.cms

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Opinions and Editorials

Attempt to rewrite India’s history is dangerous – By Sitaram Yechury (Jul 14, 2014, Hindustan Times)

This column is being filed soon after a debate in the Rajya Sabha where a suo moto statement was made by the Union home minister, concerning the destruction of historical files. Based on media reports, the issue was first raised on July 9 and on that occasion, the Union law minister, on behalf of the government, had said the following on record: “This whole allegation against the honourable prime minister is completely wrong; I deny it completely and emphatically. That is all the position of the government”.

Subsequently, the Union home minister made a statement which inter alia said: “In accordance with the instructions mentioned above (from the prime minister), the files lying in the different sections of the ministry of home affairs were reviewed and a total of 11,100 files were destroyed during the period 05.06,2014 to 08.07.2014.” This apparent contradiction is tantamount to misleading Parliament and would, surely, merit the consideration of a privilege motion.

Now, consider the facts: On June 23, the PTI filed a report informing that, “On the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union home ministry is on a cleanliness drive and, in less than a month, has destroyed nearly 1.5 lakh files …”. It further noted, “While going through the steel almirahs of North Block, officials also found some interesting files which gave an insight into some historic moments”. Among many interesting such moments was, “Another file (which had) details about the Cabinet meeting that was called before the death of Mahatma Gandhi was announced, an official said”.…

It is necessary to recollect that, on the basis of the decisions taken at that very Cabinet meeting whose records, we are now informed, have been destroyed, Vallabhbhai Patel, then home and deputy prime minister, banned the RSS following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. A government communique dated February 4, 1948, drafted by Patel, announcing the ban on the RSS says, “The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself”. It is, indeed, an irony that the Union finance minister in his budget speech has allocated a sum of ’200 crore for the construction of a statue of this very same Sardar Patel.

It is this historical record of the RSS and its today’s political arm, the BJP, which is sought to be destroyed by the Modi government. This is part of the overall project of rewriting Indian history in order to negate its rich diversity of intermingling of various cultures, traditions and experiences that have defined the lands of India as the churning crucible of human civilisational advance. It is part of the overall objective to straightjacket Indian history into a monolithic record of the glorification of the ‘Hindu nation’ and ‘Hindus’ alone. Such an effort will necessarily have as its immediate corollary the danger of changing our entire education system and syllabi to dovetail the advancement of the RSS project. One among its many diabolical bugles, thus, has been sounded. It is time to defend our great country and further enrich the ‘idea of India’.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1240334.aspx

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A new low in Indian politics (and journalism) – By Rana Ayyub (Jul 11, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Late last week, a special CBI court adjourned the bail application of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati fake encounter cases, accepting his excuse that he was engaged in political work in New Delhi. Shah, 49, the first serving Home minister of a state to have gone behind bars in a criminal case of murder and conspiracy had a legitimate reason to skip court hearings. He was presiding and taking part in day-long meetings in Delhi with senior RSS leaders and BJP functionaries who were all set to seal his fate as the next BJP President.

There is a significant back story to his exemption which did find its way as a small snippet in the media but needs to be brought to light as Shah, the man who waved the magic wand for BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s confidante and the number two in the government now takes over the reins of the party. Amit Shah had twice in the past sought exemption from personal appearance citing political work, but the then CBI judge JT Utpat had found his excuse inadequate for the court to grant him relief.…

As a journalist covering Gujarat extensively since 2005, as someone who exposed Shah’s role in the fake encounters in the state and who can claim to have knowledge of his political trajectory, I would not mince my words in suggesting that by appointing Amit Shah as the president of the party, the BJP has hugely disrespected the law of the land and signalled an all time low for the criminal justice system of India. For the cases against Shah are for crimes so gruesome that the cloak of political astuteness will be too short to cover it.…

http://twocircles.net/2014jul11/new_low_politics_and_journalism.html

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Debating Secularism In A Communalized Society – By Ram Puniyani (Jul 9, 2014, countercurrents)

In the aftermath of the recent elections Congress, Communist parties, Samajvadi and Lalu’s RJD, which can be called secular in some sense; bit the dust. In the review of defeat the major opposition party Congress, which has been in power for maximum number of years, one major opinion from its top leader A.K. Antony came forth to say that the secularism practiced by Congress was seen more as an appeasement of minorities (read Muslims) and so the large sections turned against it emasculating it to a mere 19% votes with 44 seats in Lok Sabha. In a free for all; different opinions on secularism, and failure of Congress are coming forth.

BJP with glee and confident assertion came to claim that it has the correct opinion of secularism, “We (BJP) have always said secularism should mean justice for all, appeasement of none, discrimination against none” Ironically this assertion, which negates the very concept of a democratic and secular society, has come to be perceived by many as ‘the secularism’. Many a commentators opined that Modi could demonstrate the hypocrisy of secularism and went on to take the cake of power. Sometimes victory can be taken as the proof of correctness!

In Indian scenario, secularism has been a much debated word, more so after Independence. At the time of Independence critics went on to say that state is not curbing religious practices in official places and called it an erosion of secularism. What we see today in most public places, the pantheon of Hindu deities adorning the Government offices and vehicles, and is passé’ was criticized by many earlier. Hindu practices like Bhumi Pujan (worshipping land) before construction of Government buildings became part of ‘normal practice’.

Sarswati Puja, Surya Namaskar in some Government outfits by now is becoming a matter of routine. When Nehru was asked by Andre Malraux about such religious practices going around, Nehru did confess that we have a secular constitution but the society is in the grip of religiosity. Today a Prime Minister-elect performing a Ganga Aarti is part of the official menu and the tables are turned on those who question such practice of secularism by state and party. …

Congress has not kept up the ideological commitment to secular values. Its workers hardly think differently on the issues related to communal propaganda. Many of its leaders come from communal stock, for many others standing upright for secular values is not important at all. There is a serious need for introspection, not only for Congress but for all those wanting to uphold the values emerging from our National movement for freedom.

http://www.countercurrents.org/puniyani090714.htm

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Indian Intelligence Agencies Helping NSA to Spy on its own Citizens – By Prabir Purkayastha (Jul 13, 2014, Peoples Democracy)

The Indian media has missed the major implications of the latest Snowden disclosures. It is not simply that India is one of the countries, or that the BJP is one of the political organisations under NSA surveillance. The real question is how is the NSA carrying out this surveillance? The answer to that lies in another piece of the puzzle that is now public – India is one the 33 countries that have “3rd party” agreement that allows NSA access its telecom and internet network subject to this intelligence being shared. In other words, India is providing NSA access, while NSA decides what it will share with Indian government – or deem what is fit to be viewed by Indians. If we recall, India’s former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon had complained earlier that the issue is not that the NSA is spying on Indians, but that they are not sharing their data. This appears to be our only complaint!

Recently, the Washington Post published a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Order dated July 16, 2010 listing all the countries including India and the six political organisations, (one of which was the BJP) that could be put under NSA surveillance. As India is one of the countries that have signed the third party agreement with the US, this enables the NSA to directly access the Indian telecommunications and Internet network. No wonder, all the officials and ministers of the UPA government downplayed the NSA surveillance on Indians. We were fully a party to our being spied upon! …

Contrast this with India. We hear a few protests, some noise is made and then, very quickly, it is business as usual. This is what the Congress-led UPA did and this is what the BJP-led current dispensation also seems to be doing. Will the Indian parliament start an enquiry on the NSA spying in the same way as the German parliament is doing? Will the government take steps against Verizon, AT&T and Vodafone, identified by the home ministry as partners in NSA-GCHQ (the UK equivalent of the NSA) spying? Will it cancel the third party agreement that Indian agencies have with the NSA? Without any such measures, the Indian citizens are not only being spied upon by the US and UK agencies, to add insult to injury, with the help of the Indian intelligence agencies.

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2014/0713_pd/indian-intelligence-agencies-helping-nsa-spy-its-own-citizens

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Scuttling Inconvenient Judicial Appointments – By Prashant Bhushan (Jul 12, 2014, EPW)

Every trick in the trade will be used to manage the judiciary. That is the signal that one gets from the manner in which Gopal Subramanium’s appointment was scuttled by the Narendra Modi government. Consider the facts: four names including those of Gopal Subramanium (along with another former solicitor general, Rohinton Nariman, and two high court chief justices, Adarsh Goel and Arun Mishra) had been unanimously recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court in early May by the five-member collegium headed by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha.

Subramanium had been a solicitor general in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government who had resigned because of his differences with the government in the handling of the 2G case. Subramanium had represented many important institutions in the country, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in many cases and had acquitted himself with great distinction. He had also been appointed as amicus curiae by the Court in many cases in which he had invested considerable amounts of time with great dedication. One of such cases was the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case,1 which also came to involve the fake encounters of his wife Kauser Bi, as well as Tulsiram Prajapati, the unfortunate witness to these encounters who was done away with.

The CBI charged Modi’s right-hand man, Amit Shah, along with a number of Gujarat police officers for that encounter. Shah stayed in jail for several months in that case. When the Supreme Court eventually granted him bail, Subramanium persuaded the Court to order that he would not be allowed to be in Gujarat. It was Subramanium’s role in this case which must have made him persona non grata with Modi and his men. …

There is little doubt that the National Democratic Alliance government will try to revive the idea or make a similar proposal soon. It is as unlikely to cede the power of judicial appointments to the judiciary alone and is not likely to support a full-time independent body for such appointments. Till that happens, however, the BJP is likely to continue using the technique of just sitting on inconvenient recommendations sent by the collegium while using its dirty tricks department and hatchet agencies like the IB to defame the nominee and force him to withdraw. There is also little doubt that the BJP, like the Congress, also wants a “committed” judiciary.

http://www.epw.in/commentary/scuttling-inconvenient-judicial-appointments.html

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Fighting Sexual Violence In A Country Whose Police Doesn’t Respond To Distress Calls – By Samar (Jun 27, 2014, Countercurrents)

The calls were not getting answered, not a single one of them. The friend was recounting the tale of a female friend held hostage by some people in her own house with horror. I was calling the Senior Superintendent of Police and other officers, district administration, the local police station. Every passing minute was sending shivers down my spine, he continued.

Worst was the response of the police station where full rings went with nobody answering them. What for these police stations are if they cannot respond to such emergencies? The story, in short, was eerily similar to countless other stories of bodies of women being turned into the site of ‘honour’ and battles for the same. …

They had also confiscated her phones for stopping her from seeking any help. She was asked to tell where the couple was and threatened with rape and getting paraded naked if she did not. She, in fact, did not know. Yet, she asked for her phone on the excuse that a friend might know the couple’s location and she will ask her. That is how the friend I was talking to came to know about the incident. She, in turn, tried to contact every possible person who could help starting with the local police.

As I said before, the police did not answer the calls even once leaving her flummoxed. Then she started contacting her friends in media and women’s movement who could, finally, reach the police and make them act. The hostage situation was broken next morning after hours long ordeal for the woman. Thankfully, she was rescued before getting violated despite being kept in illegal confinement. That too, it broke because the woman was well connected and her friend could reach people in positions of helping. What would happen to an ordinary woman with no such contacts is anybody’s guess. …

Introducing newer, harsher laws is not going to curb sexual violence in India. Only thing that can is radical restructuring of the criminal justice system by making it responsive and responsible. Having dedicated teams to respond to emergencies might be a beginning but until and unless impartial investigations ending in speedy convictions become the norm, nothing will change on the ground. Till then, we can make do police stations which do not respond to distress calls.

http://www.countercurrents.org/samar270614.htm

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 19th, 2014

by newsdigest on May 20, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Announcements

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

Mukul Sinha’s demise a loss for justice and accountability say Indian Americans

Renowned activist will always be remembered for his tireless struggle to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Gujarat pogroms and fake encounter killings.

May 14, 2014

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC - www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has expressed grief and a profound sense of loss over the passing away of renowned human rights activist and lawyer, Dr. Mukul Sinha. Dr. Sinha breathed his last in Ahmedabad on May 12.

Dr. Sinha, a physicist turned lawyer-activist, and a graduate from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, was a founding member of the Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM). JSM is a civil rights body that has several successful public interest litigations to its credit, and which continues to fight for justice for the victims of the 2002 pogroms in Gujarat.

Dr. Sinha unearthed crucial facts about the Godhra carnage and post-Godhra violence in the course of his cross examinations of witnesses. His research strengthened the case against people like Maya Kodnani, former VHP leader Jaideep Patel and was crucial to their convictions. He was also in the forefront of the fight to bring to justice the perpetrators of fake encounters, including the killing of Ishrat Jahan.

“We express our deepest condolences to Dr. Sinha’s family, and to all those who were touched by Dr. Sinha’s life and work, ” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “The loss to human rights activism in India and to the cause of justice and accountability, is immeasurable,” added Mr. Khan.

Despite battling with lung cancer for more than a year, Dr. Sinha continued his tireless efforts to expose the high and mighty who held human lives cheap, and expended them freely in their quest for power. His online portal http://www.truthofgujarat.com/ is an authoritative source on the Gujarat pogroms as well as on the reality of the much-hyped Gujarat development model.

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

 

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REFERENCES:
Noted human rights activist Mukul Sinha dies
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/noted-activist-and-lawyer-mukul-sinha-dies-522862

Gujarat fake encounters are similar: Mukul Sinha
http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/gujarat-fake-encounters-are-similar-mukul-sinha/article1-1088835.aspx

Mukul Sinha’s open letter to Arun Jaitley on fake encounter cases
http://www.tehelka.com/mukul-sinha-counters-arun-jaitley-on-fake-encounter-cases/

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Supreme Court pulls up Gujarat police, orders release of Akshardham convicts (May 17, 2014, Indian Express)

Pulling up Gujarat police for framing “innocent” people in the 2002 Akshardham temple attack case, the Supreme Court Friday ordered that all the six convicted by lower courts be freed, and blamed the Gujarat Home Minister for “non-application of the mind.”

A bench of Justices A K Patnaik and V Gopala Gowda blamed the home minister for “clear non-application of mind… in granting sanction,” since it was based neither on an informed decision nor on an independent analysis of facts… The court said the sanction was hence “void” and not a legal and valid sanction under POTA. Gujarat CM Narendra Modi held the portfolio in November 2003 when sanction to prosecute them under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was granted.

The six had been convicted in the criminal conspiracy to plot the terror strike at Akshardham to avenge the post-Godhra communal riots. Two terrorists who sprayed bullets from AK-56 rifles killing and injuring devotees were killed by commandos on September 25, 2002. After perusing evidence and lower court judgements, the SC bench noted “the story of prosecution crumbles at every juncture”.

The court said, “The confessional statements cannot be relied upon and the case of the prosecution fails. Accordingly, we hold there is no independent evidence on record to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in the face of retractions and grave allegations of torture and violation of human rights the accused have made against police,” it said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/sc-pulls-up-gujarat-police-orders-release-of-akshardham-convicts/

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‘Modi’s remarks fuelled violence in Assam’ (May 15, 2014, Indian Express)

A fact finding committee of the Centre for Policy Analysis, which visited Assam in the aftermath of the May 1 violence that left 45 people dead, has concluded that inflammatory speeches by BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi was one of the factors that contributed to the killings. Modi, in his speech at Dhemaji in Assam, had said there is a conspiracy to kill rhinos to make space for Bangladeshi settlers.

“The local climate of hatred and a long history of impunity – this was the same village where 50 people were killed in 1994 – was aggravated by the heat of the elections with national leaders stoking the pyres of hatred. Modi’s statement on rhinos being killed to make room for Bangladeshis was one such comment,” said social activist and former IAS officer Harsh Mander, who was a part of the team that went to Narayanguri village in Baksa district. The report also calls for fair share for the non-Bodo population in the political arrangements to put an end to the circle of violence.

“There is a lot of discrimination. In the Bodo Territorial Council, Bodos, who make up 27 per cent of the population, occupy 70 per cent seats,” said journalist Seema Mustafa. Terming it simplistic to blame violence on administrative failure alone, the committee held that the immediate cause appears to have been the elections, linked to the fielding of non-Bodo candidates. “Anger was further fuelled by former minister Parmila Rani Brahma who declared openly that the Muslims had not voted for her,” said the report.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/modis-remarks-fuelled-violence-in-assam/

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Bail plea of three riot accused rejected (May 14, 2014, Business Standard)

A court here has rejected the bail plea of three persons accused in a riot case in Sikarda village of the district.

District Judge Vijay Luxmi rejected the plea of Mohit, Sachin and Nitu yesterday, saying there is no case for bail.

The three are accused of murdering a youth and injuring several others during riots in the district in September last.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/bail-plea-of-three-riot-accused-rejected-114051400505_1.html

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MBT demands registration of murder cases against police for firing on unarmed protesters (May 14, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Majlis Bachao Tahreek President Dr. Khayam Khan has strongly condemned the communal violence and death of three innocent Muslims in police firing in Mohammedabad near Kishan Bagh area in Rajendar Nagar police limits. In a press statement MBT described the violence as a result of a larger conspiracy to target the Muslims living in Kishan Bagh area. He demanded a high-level probe through a sitting Judge of the High Court into all the aspect of violence.

Dr. Khan blamed the police inaction for the violent incidents. He claimed that police did not reach the spot on time while allowing the miscreants to attack the lives and properties of Muslims living in that area. He alleged for over an hour, the officials of Hyderabad and Cyberabad police fought over jurisdiction with none of them accepting the responsibility to stop the violence. Immediately after their arrival at the spot, the police, including the Para-military forces, resorted to open firing killing three innocent Muslims on the spot and injuring seriously several others.

Dr Khayam Khan demanded information regarding who ordered the police firing and whether the central paramilitary forces had acted on the advice of the local police or obtained the order for firing from a magistrate. He stated, “The police did not use lathicharge, teargas or rubber bullets to disperse the mobs. Instead, they went on “shoot to kill” mode and open fired on the innocent people.” He also alleged that the injured were not immediately shifted to the hospital and when they were shifted, they were not immediately provided the required medical care in Osmania General Hospital.

MBT President demanded the registration of murder cases against all the police officials involved in the firing on Muslim protestors in Kishan Bagh area. He also demanded that commissioners of both Hyderabad and Cyberabad Commissionerates should be suspended immediately on moral grounds. Venting their anger against current de facto authority of the state, Governor ESL Narasimhan, MBT said, “Governor who spends lot of time in visiting temples, should have visited the spot or the hospitals to meet the victims, immediately after knowing about the deaths of Muslims and destruction of Properties of Muslims.”

Mr Khayam Khan demanded Rs 25 lakhs and Govt Job as Ex-Gratia for the families of those killed in the police firing. Further, he said that the government should provide free Medical treatment to all those injured in police firing and stabbing. MBT Spokesperson Majeed Ullah Khan @ Farhat Khan also demanded a probe into the incident of burning of flag which incited the violence in Kishan Bagh. He said a similar incident occurred 10 Years back which had triggered violence. In view of its past, why no CC TV cameras were installed on the location, he questioned. Mr. Majeed Khan said that some miscreants might have burnt the flag to use it as a reason to target the Muslims community residing in that area. Mr. Khan also feared that communal violence just two days before the announcement of results could be the result of a larger conspiracy and therefore it should be probed through a sitting judge of the High Court.

http://twocircles.net/2014may14/mbt_demands_registration_murder_cases_against_police_firing_unarmed_protesters.html

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Nirupam says BJP tampered with EVMs, to file PIL (May 18, 2014, Indian Express)

Sitting Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam Saturday accused the BJP of tampering the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and said he would soon file a public interest litigation (PIL) on the matter.

Nirupam, who had contested from Mumbai-North Lok Sabha constituency, lost with a big margin of 4,46,582 votes to BJP candidate and two-time MLA Gopal Chinayya Shetty. At a press meet at his residence, Nirupam alleged that the EVMs used were faulty and said the “figures just do not match” as they are lower than what he had expected.

“Congress candidates have been defeated in Gujarat, Maharshtra and Uttar Pradesh with massive leads, which is not possible. The contract of the EVM had been given to a multi-national company based in Gujarat. This in itself is suspicious,” Nirupam alleged. “I am filing a PIL in court on this matter. All senior leaders of Congress and other parties should also file PILs in their respective courts, ” he said, adding that the “machines were set in such a way that only a few hundred votes were counted properly”.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/nirupam-says-bjp-tampered-with-evms-to-file-pil/

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Three policemen summoned for keeping people in illegal custody (May 14, 2014, IBN)

A local court has issued notices against former SP, former additional SP and present SHO of Shamli district after taking cognisance of a complaint accusing them of keeping some people in illegal custody during an agitation in 2013. Chief Judicial Magistrate Narender Kumar issued notices against then SP Abdul Hamid, then Additional SP Atul Saxena and SHO RN Yadav and directed them to appear before court on July 4 in connection with a complaint of torturing few agitators.

According to prosecution, a journalist Pushpender Bhardwaj had filed a complaint alleging that police had beaten up the agitators who were demanding arrest of the accused in a gangrape case in Shamli. The complainant has alleged that police had lathicharged the protesters and taken them in illegal custody on June 17, 2013, on direction of these police officers.

Five BJP leaders, including legislature party leader Hukum Singh, were also arrested then as police tried to check the unruly mob staging a protest demanding arrest of gang rape accused.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/court-summons-three-policemen-accused-of-keeping-people-in-illegal-custody-during-muzaffarnagar-riots/471765-3-242.html

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Modi, Advani Among 10 Gujarat MPs Facing Criminal Cases (May 19, 2014, New Indian Express)

Narendra Modi and veteran BJP leader L K Advani are among the ten MPs elected from Gujarat, who are facing criminal charges. Out of the 66 candidates from Gujarat, who faced criminal charges ranging from poll code violation to attempt to murder, ten won the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls from the state. An FIR had been lodged against Narendra Modi on April 30 in Ahmedabad for violation of the Model Code of Conduct after he displayed a lotus, BJP’s poll symbol, before TV cameras and addressed a press conference on the premises of the school where he cast his vote. Later, at a rally in Tirupati, Modi had said that it was the first FIR of his life and he would never forget the day. Modi won the Vadodara seat by a margin of over 5.70 lakh votes.

Former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, who won the Gandhinagar seat defeating Kiritbhai Patel of Congress, is an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case of 1992. Some other candidates who won the elections include C R Patil from Navsari, Vitthal Radadiya from Porbandar and Devji Fatepura from Surendranagar constituency. One of the richest BJP candidates from the state, C R Patil, who won Navsari Lok Sabha seat, is facing cases pertaining to financial irregularities. Three cases are pending against him before the state recovery tribunal and one is pending before the Surat judicial magistrate court. Patil defeated Congress’ Maqsood Mirza by a margin of more than 5.58 lakh votes.

Vitthal Radadiya, who switched over to BJP in 2012, is facing the maximum number of criminal cases. The ten case include rioting, criminal assault, damage to public property, criminal intimidation and death threats. Radadiya defeated NCP candidate and deceased “Godmother” Santokben Jadeja’s son Kandhal, who is also facing severe criminal charges. BJP candidate from Surendranagar Lok Sabha seat Devji Fatehpura, who has defeated Soma Patel of Congress by a margin of 2.02 lakh votes, is facing charges for allegedly causing voluntarily causing hurt and intentionally insulting to provoke breach of peace.

Other victorious candidates who are facing criminal charges include Rajesh Chudasama from Junagadh, Prabhatsinh Chauhan from Panchamhal, Naran Kachhadiya from Amreli, Prabhu Vasava from Bardoli and Dilip Patel from Anand. Chudasama, who defeated Punja Vansh of Congress from Junagadh, is facing three cases of criminal assaults. Naran Kachhadiya, who won Amreli Lok Sabha seat, has been named in cases of attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and also under the Prevention of Atrocities Act for using derogatory remarks indicating the caste.

Prabhu Vasava, who had recently switched over to BJP from Congress, has also been booked under the sections of Prevention of Atrocities Act and was also allegedly involved in two cases of assault. Vasava contested from Bardoli Lok Sabha seat and defeated Congress candidate and former union minister Tushar Chaudhary. Prabhatsinh Chauhan, who won from Panchamahal, was booked in the cases of criminal conspiracy and was allegedly involved in the criminal breach of trust. Chauhan defeated Ramsinh Parmar of Congress by a margin of 1.70 lakh votes. Dilip Patel, who defeated former union minister Bharat Solanki, is facing four criminal cases under criminal breach of trust.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/elections/news/Modi-Advani-Among-10-Gujarat-MPs-Facing-Criminal-Cases/2014/05/19/article2233566.ece

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Was ‘supari’ gang on its way to eliminate Akbar Owaisi? (May 19, 2014, Times of India)

Have police stumbled upon a plot to eliminate a high-profile legislator in the city? A team from Hyderabad has rushed to Bangalore to question members of a Karnataka-based dacoit gang who were nabbed by the Hindupur police, reportedly on a mission to execute a ‘supari’ killing in the city.

On a tip-off from the Hindupur police, their Karnataka counterparts on Sunday nabbed three notorious dacoits Vasu, Manjunath and Govind from their hideout in Hindupur based on information given by another gang member, K Girish alias Giri from Tumkur in Karnataka.

Talking to TOI on phone, Penukonda deputy superintendent of police (DSP) N Subba Rao said the dacoit gang, headed by Girish, was wanted in over 80 cases in Karnataka. “The gang members had taken shelter in Hindupur after committing a series of offences in Karnataka.

Information about the gang came to light when Girish, who was in an inebriated condition, met with a road accident after his Honda Activa crashed into a road-divider in Hindupur while he was heading towards Karnataka.”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/35324113.cms

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RAW officer sentenced to ten years imprisonment in dowry death case (May 14, 2014, IBN)

A RAW officer was on Wednesday sentenced to ten years rigorous imprisonment by a court in Bihar’s Patna district which found him guilty of burning to death his wife for dowry in 2008. Additional District and Sessions Judge-XI Anil Kumar Singh passed the order sentencing the officer, Manish Kumar Singh, to ten years RI and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000.

Singh, posted as RAW Deputy Field Officer at Danapur, had married in Kanpur on December 13, 2002. His wife Shibu Singh was burnt to death at their house in Maurya Vihar locality near BMP 16 camp office under Phulwarisharif police station on August 21, 2008. The victim’s mother Kiran Rathore had lodged an FIR against her son in-law and five other family members accusing them of murdering her daughter for dowry.

The names of the five other accused were not in the charge sheet as their role in the murder case could not be proved by the investigators, according to the prosecution. The complainant, a native of Kidwai Nagar locality in Kanpur, had alleged that her daughter was killed by her husband and in-laws after she failed to meet their demand for Rs ten lakh in cash.

Rathore said that she had been told by her daughter two days before the incident that the money should be provided within a couple of days or she would be tortured. Her son-in-law also allegedly told her that her daughter would be harmed if she failed to meet his demand.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/raw-officer-sentenced-to-ten-years-rigorous-imprisonment-in-dowry-death-case/471772-3-232.html

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Cops Accused of Assaulting Dalit in Hazat, Locals Seek CB Probe (May 15, 2014, New Indian Express)

Tension ran high in Raghunathpur area here on Wednesday after a Dalit woman accused the police of assaulting her husband inside Ragunathpur police station hazat. The irate locals including human rights activists and leaders of different Dalit associations demanded a Crime Branch probe into the matter. Sources said the families of Sukant Das and Sudam Bhoi clashed on Monday over the repair of a thatched house. Both Sukant and Sudam lodged two separate complaints with Raghunathpur police. After registration of cases, police detained the duo and kept them in the hazat of the police station on Monday night.

However, locals found a severely injured Sukant lying unconscious at an isolated place in nearby Gopalpur on Tuesday morning. On being informed, Sukant’s family members rushed to the spot and took him to Raghunathpur hospital. Sukant was shifted to district headquarters hospital and later to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack after his condition worsened.

It is alleged that Sukant was beaten up inside the police hazat and later dumped at an isolated place by the cops. Sukant’s wife Malati alleged that her husband was assaulted by the IIC of Raghunathpur police station and constables at 1 am on Monday. “The police then took severely injured Sukant in their van and threw him at Gopalpur,” she said.

Some local villagers witnessed police dumping him at Gopalpur during the wee hours, she claimed. Superintendent of Police Satyabrat Bhoi and other officials rushed to the hospital to inquire about the condition of Sukant. SP Bhoi said a sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) has been directed to investigate into the matter.

Refuting the allegation, SDPO Manoj Kumar Mahant said Sukant was attacked by Sudam inside the police hazat. Police have no role in the assault on Sukant. Another case has been registered against Sudam in this regard and he has been forwarded to court, the SDPO added. Human rights activists and advocate Susant Kanungo and Dalit community leader Debendra Mallick condemned the police brutality and said the case should be handed over to the Crime Branch for a free and fair probe.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/Cops-Accused-of-Assaulting-Dalit-in-Hazat-Locals-Seek-CB-Probe/2014/05/15/article2225943.ece

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Opinions and Editorials

Gujarat Riots: Will Modi follow Manmohan? – By By Mumtaz Alam, Abu Zafar (May 20, 2014, India Tomorrow)

The 82-year-old finance executive had little to do with politics when he became prime minister of the country, had no role – direct or indirect – with the 1984 anti-Sikh riot and none of the victims, human rights organizations or political opposition had remotely blamed him for the gruesome killing of around 3000 Sikhs in the wake of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Yet, when Dr. Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister of the country he thought it necessary to offer a sincere apology for the pogrom. Will 63-year-old RSS pracharak-turned politician Narendra Modi follow him for the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riot?

Compared to Manmohan, Modi was not just ruling Gujarat when over 2000 innocent Muslims were killed in one of the bloodies anti-Muslim riots of Independent India, he has in fact been accused for first facilitating the riot, turning Nelson’s eye when Gujarat was burning and then protecting the culprits when they were brought to book. Since the riot 12 years ago, many people have been asking him to apologise for the killings even though many many others said apology is not enough – first culprits however tall they should be punished, and victims should be given full justice. But Modi has always refused sometimes directly and sometimes diplomatically to offer any apology.

His so-far attitude may have been because he did not want to antagonise saffron constituency in Gujarat – which helped him win three assembly polls in a row – and also because he was eying Prime Minister’s post. Now that the Lok Sabha elections 2014 are over and Narendra Modi is set to become Prime Minister of the country in a week thanks to the impressive landslide victory of his BJP, the question of apology has once again come up. However, neither community leaders nor social activists are hopeful that Modi will show any such statesmanship. …

http://www.indiatomorrow.net/eng/gujarat-riots-will-modi-follow-manmohan

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How Secure Are India’s Elections? – By Cleo Paskal (May 14, 2014, Huffington Post)

…The problems with EVM security have been widely known since the large-scale irregularities in Florida during the 2000 elections. Many countries have moved to get rid of them. In 2006 Dutch TV aired adocumentary showing how easy it was to hack the EVMs that were about to be used in their general election. The machines were subsequently withdrawn and the Netherlands went back to paper ballots. Germany has declared EVMs unconstitutional. And, after spending close to $75 million on its EVMs, Ireland found them to be so insecure they literally scrapped them.

In 2009, Steve Stigall, a CIA cybersecurity expert, told the U.S. Election Assistance Commission there were concerns over electronic vote-rigging in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine. According to the McClatchy report on his testimony: [Stigall] said that elections also could be manipulated when votes were cast, when ballots were moved or transmitted to central collection points, when official results were tabulated and when the totals were posted on the Internet.

Concerns about the Indian EVMs were raised during the 2009 election in part as a result of an astounding discovery on the Elections Commission of India (ECI) website. Dr. Anupam Saraph, at the time Chief Information Officer for the city of Pune, and Prof. M D Nalapat, Vice-Chair of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, discovered files on the ECI website that seemed to show election results days before votes were actually cast and counted.

India’s 2009 elections were held in 5 phases, running from April 16 to May 13. Counting was not supposed to begin until all the phases were complete. Before the voting started, Saraph and Nalapat decided to track the elections and create a wiki for constituencies and candidates, with data sourced from Excel files on the ECI website. The ECI spreadsheets contained what you would expect: candidate’s name, gender, address, party, etc. But, starting May 6, the spreadsheet changed and something unexpected was added.

From May 6 onwards, the candidate’s name was ‘coded’, based on their position on the EVM, and the number of ‘votes polled’ were added, even though voting had yet to take place in many constituencies and, even where voting had taken place, votes were yet to be counted. Even more confounding, the ‘votes polled’ numbers were adjusted in subsequent spreadsheets before the results were announced. …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cleo-paskal/how-secure-are-indias-ele_b_5317788.html

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Narendra Modi and the new face of India – By Pankaj Mishra (May 16, 2014, The Guardian)

… Modi is a lifelong member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a paramilitary Hindu nationalist organisation inspired by the fascist movements of Europe, whose founder’s belief that Nazi Germany had manifested “race pride at its highest” by purging the Jews is by no means unexceptional among the votaries of Hindutva, or “Hinduness”. In 1948, a former member of the RSS murdered Gandhi for being too soft on Muslims. The outfit, traditionally dominated by upper-caste Hindus, has led many vicious assaults on minorities. A notorious executioner of dozens of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 crowed that he had slashed open with his sword the womb of a heavily pregnant woman and extracted her foetus. Modi himself described the relief camps housing tens of thousands of displaced Muslims as “child-breeding centres”.

Such rhetoric has helped Modi sweep one election after another in Gujarat. A senior American diplomat described him, in cables disclosed by WikiLeaks, as an “insular, distrustful person” who “reigns by fear and intimidation”; his neo-Hindu devotees on Facebook and Twitter continue to render the air mephitic with hate and malice, populating the paranoid world of both have-nots and haves with fresh enemies – “terrorists”, “jihadis”, “Pakistani agents”, “pseudo-secularists”, “sickulars”, “socialists” and “commies”. Modi’s own electoral strategy as prime ministerial candidate, however, has been more polished, despite his appeals, both dog-whistled and overt, to Hindu solidarity against menacing aliens and outsiders, such as the Italian-born leader of the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, Bangladeshi “infiltrators” and those who eat the holy cow.

Modi exhorts his largely young supporters – more than two-thirds of India’s population is under the age of 35 – to join a revolution that will destroy the corrupt old political order and uproot its moral and ideological foundations while buttressing the essential framework, the market economy, of a glorious New India. In an apparently ungovernable country, where many revere the author of Mein Kampf for his tremendous will to power and organisation, he has shrewdly deployed the idioms of management, national security and civilisational glory. …

His ostensibly gratuitous assault on Muslims – already India’s most depressed and demoralised minority – was another example of what the social anthropologist Arjun Appadurai calls “a vast worldwide Malthusian correction, which works through the idioms of minoritisation and ethnicisation but is functionally geared to preparing the world for the winners of globalisation, minus the inconvenient noise of its losers”. Certainly, the new horizons of desire and fear opened up by global capitalism do not favour democracy or human rights. Other strongmen who supervised the bloody purges of economically enervated and unproductive people were also ruthless majoritarians, consecrated by big election victories. The crony-capitalist regimes of Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand and Vladimir Putin in Russia were inaugurated by ferocious offensives against ethnic minorities. The electorally bountiful pogrom in Gujarat in 2002, too, now seems an early initiation ritual for Modi’s India.

The difficulty of assessing his personal culpability in the killings and rapes of 2002 is the same difficulty that Musil identifies with Moosbrugger in his novel: how to measure the crimes, however immense, of individuals against a universal breakdown of values and the normalisation of violence and injustice. “If mankind could dream collectively,” Musil writes, “it would dream Moosbrugger.” There is little cause yet for such despair in India, where the aggrieved fantasy of authoritarianism will have to reckon with the gathering energies below; the great potential of the country’s underprivileged and voiceless peoples still lies untapped. But for now some Indians have dreamed collectively, and they have dreamed a man accused of mass murder. …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/16/what-next-india-pankaj-mishra

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A different kind of a victory – in Gujarat – By Ujjwala Nayudu (May 18, 2014, Indian Express)

Shahwan remembers the day nearly 11 years ago that the Gujarat Police came to arrest his father Adam Sulaiman Mansuri alias Adam Ajmeri. He especially remembers how his mother pleaded with them, telling them her husband was an innocent mechanic and not a terrorist involved in the attack on the Akshardham temple of a year ago. Shahwan remembers the visits to jail on Eid, and that every time, his father broke down, saying he had nothing to give him for the festival.

On a day that little else registered in the Narendra Modi wave sweeping the country, came the news that the Ajmeris had been waiting for. Pulling up the Gujarat Police for framing “innocent” people in the Akshardham case, the Supreme Court ordered that all the six convicted by the lower court, including Adam, be freed. It also accused the then Gujarat home minister of “non-application of mind”. Modi had held the portfolio in November 2003 when sanction to prosecute the six under POTA was granted. Two of the accused have already finished their terms.

In September 2002, two armed attackers had entered the Akshardham temple complex in Gandhinagar, and killed 30 people and injured more than 80. Both the attackers had been killed. Adam and four others were arrested from Shahpur and Dariapur areas of Ahmedabad in August 2003, and the sixth accused from Uttar Pradesh days later. Sentenced to death, Adam is currently lodged in Sabarmati Central Jail. News of Adam’s acquittal sent a cheer through his Shahpur mohalla. His emotional wife Naseem Bano, 40, said she had struggled to raise Shahwan and elder brother Almas (20) on the money she made from embroidery work and stitching of burqas.

“My own family, brothers cut all ties saying my husband was a terrorist. Those in the neighbourhood supported us as they knew the real Adam – a poor mechanic who worked with his father to make ends meet.” Adam’s family kept Naseem out even when his mother died six months ago. Recently the brothers opened a small handkerchief shop at home. Shahwan, who is waiting for his Class X board results, hopes to study further. “My father always told my elder brother to take care of Ammi. My brother dropped out to work but it is my father’s wish that I study,” he says. Dressed in a new pair of jeans and shirt bought for a family wedding, the 16-year-old adds, “Now that Abba is coming back, family members will realise that he was framed.” …

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/a-different-kind-of-a-victory-in-gujarat/99/

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‘Should minorities be deprived of quality education?’ – By Parmod Kumar (May 12, 2014, Business Standard)

A Supreme Court judgment holding that the RTE Act guaranteeing free education to children from socially and economically-backward sections is not applicable to minority-run institutions is not finding many takers in the legal fraternity who feel it is flawed and would deprive hundreds of thousands of children from vulnerable sections of quality education.

Though a few swear to the minorities the right to administer their institutions without any interference by the state as the law stands today, others feel that no exceptions could be made for implementing rights-based laws like the right to free education. Another view is that the state should not interfere with education at all.

The judgment by a five-judge constitution bench has come in for critical appraisal on the grounds that the rights conferred on minorities under the Constitution’s article 30 (1) to establish and administer their institutions could not be taken recourse to restrict the application of the progressive law that confers the right to education on all children.

Besides this, some legal experts feel that an 11-judge-bench verdict in the 2002 T.M.A. Pai Foundation case needs to be revisited as it was coming in the way of children being admitted to these schools and that article 30(1) could not be read in absolute terms, when even fundamental rights are subject to reasonable restrictions.

In this case, the apex court granted absolute immunity to private, unaided educational institutions, including those of minorities, in admissions, leaving them to decide the manner in which students should be taken in and barred any interference by the state. Legal experts, however, said that the rights that minorities get under article 30(1) could not be elevated above the fundamental rights, noting there are regions in West Bengal and other eastern and northeastern states where bulk of the schools are run by the minorities.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/should-minorities-be-deprived-of-quality-education-114051200379_1.html

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Where everyone is a minority – By Sanjoy Hazarika (May 7, 2014, The Hindu)

The grim and bloody incidents in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), that narrow wedge of land in western Assam where everyone is a minority – or rather a non- majority since their numbers don’t have it – have been aggravated by the verbal violence of our politicians, the blame game and the total incapacity of the State government to deal with existing conditions.

For the second time in less than two years, thousands of Muslims and smaller numbers of Bodos are fleeing their homes, frightened by their complete vulnerability to gun-wielding terrorists, the nightmare of seeing loved ones, ranging from infants to elders, butchered in front of them and, perhaps worse still, the fearful knowledge that the government can’t protect them.

Today, the capacity of the Congress-led government in Assam to ensure the protection of minorities is being gravely questioned. For in every major communal clash or bout of violence in the Bodo areas – 1993, 2008, 2012 and now – a Congress Party government has ruled Dispur.

The State government’s seeming failure may be a tipping point for the last round of the Lok Sabha election elsewhere in the country. Ironically, the greatest violence in the country during an otherwise seemingly flawless massive election exercise has been, ironically, in the home area of one of the country’s Election Commissioners, H.S. Brahma, who is incidentally a Bodo.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/where-everyone-is-a-minority/article5983030.ece

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