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Gujarat riots

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 27th, 2014

by newsdigest on January 28, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

National communal harmony award for CSSS (Jan 26, 2014, The Hindu)

The Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, has been selected for the National Communal Harmony Award 2013 in the organisation category. Mohinder Singh of Delhi and N Radhakrishnan of Kerala have been selected for the award in the individual category. Established in 1996, CSSS is a Mumbai-based organisation working to promote peace, secularism and communal harmony in the country. It has also been working on human rights issues and for the cause of the marginalised and deprived sections of society.

The centre has published a number of books and literary material highlighting different facets of violence, communalism, peace, secularism and communal harmony, which have wide readership. The centre has also been regularly publishing a quarterly journal ‘Indian Journal of Secularism’, which is popular among academics and the masses.

Dr. Singh, 72, is a scholar and member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. He was a Member of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities from 2005 to 2007. In 1984, he along with other social activists, organised relief camps at Delhi and restored friendship between the Hindu and Sikh communities in the wake of the anti-Sikh riots.

Dr. Radhakrishnan, 69, is a well-known academic, Gandhian scholar and peace worker. He initiated the Shanti Sena programme at the Gandhigram University and extended the work to other parts of the country. He has been actively working to restore peace in communally tense areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Having served as Director of Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, New Delhi, for more than a decade, he was instrumental in initiating and implementing many innovative activities in educational institutions using Gandhian values and principles. His campaign ‘Himsamukth Bharat Andolan’ motivates people to become foot soldiers in campaigning for peace and sustainable development.

The National Communal Harmony Awards were instituted in 1996 by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony, an autonomous organisation under the Union Home Ministry. In addition to a citation in each category, the award carries a cash award of Rs.5 lakh for individuals and Rs.10 lakh for organisations, according to an official release here on Saturday.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/national-communal-harmony-award-for-csss/article5618201.ece

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2002 Gujarat riots: Zakia Jafri to move HC against clean chit to Modi (Jan 24, 2014, Times of India)

After a magisterial court upheld the clean chit given by the Supreme Court-mandated SIT to chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and 57 others over allegations of hatching larger conspiracy in the 2002 riots, complainant Zakia Jafri has now decided to move the Gujarat high court. Advocate S M Vora, who represents former MP Ehsan Jafri’s widow in the case, said that they have decided to file an appeal against metropolitan magistrate BJ Ganatra’s December 26, 2012 order, in which Zakia’s protest petition was turned down and SIT’s clean chit to Modi and other cops, bureaucrats and politicians was upheld.

Following the rejection of her protest petition, Zakia got the option to move either a sessions court or Gujarat high court to file a revision application. While upholding SIT’s closure report on Zakia’s 2006 complaint, the court said that there was not enough material to support allegations. SIT had been maintaining that there was no prosecutable evidence against Modi. The court observed that charges were leveled in systematic manner from different angles and material was placed in support, but there is no prima facie evidence against the accused.

Agreeing with the SIT and rejecting Zakia’s arguments, the court also said that it cannot believe that the train burning incident was a pre-panned conspiracy by people in the power. The court also upheld SIT’s conclusions that Modi administration called the Army in time. The court observed that Modi had addressed both the communities on Doordarshan and appealed for peace. “This shows that police and security forces were deployed to control the law and order situation in the state … the court does not agree that Modi did not take positive steps to control riots. If required, curfew was also clamped. In such circumstances, his act cannot be interpreted as conspiracy and abetment,” the order read.

The court rejected amicus curiae’s conclusion that Modi can be prosecuted for inciting communal hatred under section 153A and 505(2) of IPC because he spoke certain words in the meeting of February 27, 2002 evening at his residence. The court said that there is no evidence to establish that he spoke those words except the testimony of IPS Sanjiv Bhatt which is not trustworthy. Besides, these words were neither published nor propagated. Moreover, the court has also exonerated Modi from the charge of dereliction of duty. Describing Modi’s efforts for peace appeal and instructions to mobilize security forces, the court said that they reflected his emotions, and these acts cannot be considered criminal by any measure.

Accepting the SIT report, it said, “The state government took enough efforts to control law and order as per the requirement of the situation. This court cannot decide on whether they were enough on basis of the moral and ethical duties of the office bearers … This court agrees with SIT that Modi took enough efforts in short time after Godhra carnage to see that law and order situation did not deteriorate further and situation remained peaceful. Amicus curiae has also supported this conclusion and mentioned about these efforts in his report.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/29317487.cms

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CBI may soon file charges against IB officers in Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case (Jan 21, 2014, Times of India)

After much delay, the CBI is likely to file its chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case against four Intelligence Bureau officers including former special director Rajinder Kumar even though legal opinion on their prosecution sanction is pending. CBI officials said the chargesheet would be filed next week if legal opinion on whether sanction is required to prosecute IB officers is not received. CBI sources said the court would be informed that legal opinion on prosecution sanction against IB officers was pending.

CBI officials said the chargesheet was ready since December 1 last year and they had approached the law ministry for legal opinion on whether sanction was required for IB officers, who technically come under the home ministry. Sources said they had enough evidence that IB officers were part of the conspiracy. The agency has already made it clear that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s close aide Amit Shah would not be named in the chargesheet as they did not find any evidence of any political conspiracy behind the alleged fake encounter.

The agency is seeking opinion on whether sanction from home ministry is needed to prosecute Rajinder Kumar (now retired) and three other IB officers – P Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede. One view holds that since Kumar was in service at the time of the alleged crime, sanction for his prosecution was needed from home ministry which is the cadre controlling authority.

Another opinion is that since he retired from service in July last year, the agency could go ahead with its chargesheet without any need for sanction to prosecute, sources said. They said if the law ministry felt a nod from home ministry was needed before filing the supplementary chargesheet, CBI will send a request seeking sanction to prosecute the officers.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2014-01-21/india/46410214_1_ib-officers-rajiv-wankhede-four-intelligence-bureau-officers

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Samjhauta blasts: Aseemanand, three others charged with sedition, murder (Jan 24, 2014, The Tribune)

A Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, Panchkula, today framed charges against self-styled godman Swami Aseemanand and three others in the Samjhauta blasts case. Besides Aseemanand, the others are: Kamal Chauhan, Lokesh Sharma and Rajender Pehelwan Chaudhary.

In the early hours of February 19, 2007, 68 persons, mostly Pakistanis, were killed in a blast aboard the Samjhauta Express. The train was going from Delhi to Attari, the last station on the Indian side. The passengers were to board the train to Lahore in Pakistan the next day. The blasts took place in two compartments at Diwana village near the industrial town of Panipat.

The case was cracked by IPS Vishal Garg, investigating officer (IO) posted with the NIA who had also solved the Ajmer blasts case (2007). Aseemanand’s interrogation revealed that he had roped in Sandeep Dange, an engineering graduate, and Ramji Kalsangra, an electrician, to build the improvised explosive devices used in the blasts. They are absconding.

One of the accused, Sunil Joshi, is now dead. On June 20, 2011, the NIA had filed a chargesheet against Swami Aseemanand and others. Aseemanand had recently applied for bail, but it was rejected. The agency had in August filed a supplementary chargesheet against RSS worker Kamal Chauhan and his associate Amit charging them with murder, conspiracy and other offences.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140125/main3.htm

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ATS chief offered Rs 25 lakh to confess crime: ‘arms dealers’ (Jan 22, 2014, Indian Express)

Suspected arms dealers, Manish Nagori alias Manya (24) and Vilas Khandelwal (22) Tuesday sparked off a controversy as they told a local court that Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria offered them Rs 25 lakh for falsely confessing their involvement in the murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar. They also alleged “political pressure” on the police to solve the case. Nagori and Khandelwal were arrested by the Pune police Monday for Dabholkar’s murder and produced before the magistrate’s court Tuesday.

The duo told the court they had nothing to do with the Dabholkar murder case. “We were arrested by the Thane police in the Mumbra case around 10.15 am on August 20. And Dabholkar was murdered in Pune around 8 am on the same day. Have we taken a plane or helicopter to reach Thane? We were not in Pune when the murder took place. Our cell phone call details also show our locations. Police have arrested us under political pressure,” they said.

“We were earlier arrested by the ATS. Maria saheb offered us Rs 25 lakh to confess the crime. The police told us there was huge political pressure from R R Patil (Home Minister). We were repeatedly questioned about Dabholkar case. Our narco analysis and lie detector tests were conducted too,” they said.

The ATS said the allegations levelled by Nagori and Khandelwal were baseless and false. Joint Commissioner of Police Sanjiv Singhal said there was no political pressure on them.

The police submitted before the court that three firearms were recovered by the Mumbra police from the suspects and their three aides when they were arrested in an extortion case in Thane. A ballistic report of these firearms was received on December 7, 2013, which said the 7.65 mm pistol recovered from Khandelwal and the firearms used to kill Dabholkar was same, the police submitted.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/ats-chief-offered-rs-25-lakh-to-confess-crime-arms-dealers/

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ABVP men disrupt seminar on Muzaffarnagar riot at DU (Jan 22, 2014, India Tomorrow)

Dozens of members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Wednesday tried to disrupt a program organized by some academicians on the issue of Muzaffarnagar riots at Delhi School of Economics. The activists also shouted at speakers and chased some Kashmiri girl students who were attending the program. “As soon as I started speaking they shouted slogans and tried to disturb the program,” Ish Mishra, professor of Political Science at Hindu College of Delhi University, told India Tomorrow. “I asked them to sit down and offered that I am ready to answer all their questions after the meeting is over but they did not agree and started shouting,” Mishra added.

ABVP is a student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the parent body of Bharatiya Janata Party. A team of independent academics and a journalist carried out an inquiry into the communal violence that shook Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh in September 2013. The team visited the affected villages in Dec and made public their report earlier this month. Today the team conducted the seminar titled ‘Emergence of Hindu Fascist and the Pogrom in Muzaffarnagar’ where they presented their findings.

Ish Mishra was one of the members of the team that conducted the inquiry. Other members were Dr. Mohan Rao, Professor, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dr. Vikas Bajpai, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU and Ms. Pragya Singh, Journalist, Outlook magazine. “Police reached the venue at the Delhi University after some time but they were not doing their job properly,” Mishra alleged.

The activists also shouted slogans at some Kashmiri girl students who were attending the program and chased them away,” he further alleged. Mishra said that people of ABVP and other ‘fascist’ organizations are frustrated. “They are ideologically bankrupt since the beginning and now they are nervous and frustrated, they don’t have any program and policy to pursue,” he said. This is not first time when such things happened. In February 2012 ABVP tried to disturb a program on screening of a movie on Kashmir at Delhi School of Economics.

http://www.indiatomorrow.net/eng/abvp-members-disrupt-seminar-on-muzaffarnagar-riot-at-du

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Union Cabinet okays minority status for Jains (Jan 21, 2014, Times of India)

A day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Union Cabinet on Monday approved notification of Jains as a minority community at the national level. The Jains have thus become the sixth community to be granted such status after Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. Jains are about 0.4% of India’s population and in the 2001 census, were about 42 lakh-strong.

Their population is now estimated at around 50 lakh; Mumbai accounts for the largest number of about 10% (or 4-5 lakh). Once recognized as a minority, they will get a share in Central funds earmarked for welfare schemes and government programmes as well as scholarships. They can also manage and administer their own educational institutions.

A delegation of the Jain community led by Union minister Pradeep Jain had met Rahul on Sunday to press for their long-standing demand for minority status. The community already enjoys minority status in some states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan but the Cabinet decision extends that status across the country.

On Sunday, the Congress had said in a release that Jain Samaj leaders had spoken to Rahul about their long-pending demand for minority status for the community and urged him to support their cause. “Rahul recognized the role played by the Jain community in the social, cultural and economic development of the country. He assured the delegation that he would do his utmost to ensure fair and equitable recognition and representation for the Jain community,” the release said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/29127070.cms

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NIA identifies 2 Naxals who led Darbha attack (Jan 24, 2014, Indian Express)

Nearly eight months after the brutal attack that wiped out the top leadership of the Congress in Chhattisgarh, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is said to have made the first breakthrough and identified two CPI (Maoist) commanders who led the attack. The duo were identified as Surender, head of Darbha divisional committee, and Jailal, incharge of second regional command company of CPI (Maoist), officials said.

The attack on the Congress convoy on May 25, 2013 resulted in 27 deaths, including that of former state minister Mahender Karma and Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel. Senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla later succumbed to injuries. The NIA, while probing the killings, had recently questioned CPI (Maoist) spokesperson G V K Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi who had surrendered before the Andhra Police.

Sources said that Usendi is believed to have named Surender and Jailal who headed a team of nearly 200-250 Naxals with the aim to kill Karma. Soon after the May 25 incident, Usendi took the responsibility of the attack and investigators believe he is aware about the plot and persons involved.

Sources in the agency also said that after the verification of the claims made by Usendi, the NIA will approach the court to get a warrant for the CPI (Maoist) leaders. Surender and Jailal, both have been learnt to have been given a promotion soon after the attack, officials said. While giving the details of the attack, Usendi said that the CPI (Maoist) only wanted to kill Karma but after they cornered the convoy, the cadres became violent which resulted in death of others. As per the accounts given by the spokesperson, nearly 250 cadres were trained for three days ahead of the attack. Surender, who led the attack, divided the group into four sub-groups which also included Naxals from Orissa who were part of the jan-militia.

However, the inner cordon consisted of Naxals from Chhattisgarh. Usendi is also learnt to have given sleuths details into the functioning of the CPI (Maoist) and names of all the top leaders who call the shots. Usendi may be cited as witness in the Darbha attack case as he was the one who signed the press statement owning the killings. The NIA also examined two alleged Maoists arrested by the Orissa police last year. However, officials said the two were not aware of the details of the plot.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/nia-identifies-2-naxals-who-led-darbha-attack/

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Bengal gang rape: Mamata removes top cop amid outrage (Jan 23, 2014, Yahoo)

Amid widespread outrage over the brutal gang rape of a tribal woman allegedly at the behest of a kangaroo court in Birbhum district, the West Bengal government Thursday found itself cornered over its handling of the issue. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later ordered the removal of the top district police officer. Superintendent of Police C. Sudhakar was shifted out in a bid to salvage matters.

The alleged rape took place Monday night in Subalpur village in Birbhum district, 180 km from Kolkata. The 20-year-old woman was allegedly raped by more than a dozen men following orders of a kangaroo court which found her “guilty of having an affair with a man outside her community”.

While police arrested all 13 people the woman had accused in her complaint, a local court sent the accused to 14 days judicial custody after police did not seek custody nor any public prosecutor appeared. “Neither any public prosecutor appeared nor police sought custody of the accused. So the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Bolpur, Pijush Ghosh sent them to 14 days jail custody,” victim’s counsel Dilip Ghosh said.

While opposition parties launched a scathing attack on the Banerjee government over the gang rape, police’s refusal to seek custody of the accused added fuel to fire. The Congress, Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party questioned the role of police and accused the government of being hand in glove with criminals. “Only because this government has been patronising and harbouring criminals, that not a single day passes when incidents of rape and molestation do not occur,” said Left Front chairman Biman Bose. …

While the state women’s panel has taken cognizance, the National Commission for Women too will send a probe team and demand an action taken report from the chief minister. … Unfortunately, the incident is not isolated. In 2010, a 15-year-old tribal girl was forced to parade naked through villages in her district for falling in love with a boy from another community. The girl from Battala village was stripped and forced to walk naked through four villages with her pictures taken and circulated through MMS.

http://in.news.yahoo.com/bengal-gang-rape-mamata-removes-top-cop-amid-162804954.html

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Local BJP leader arrested for dowry death (Jan 22, 2014, Business Standard)

Police today arrested a local BJP leader and two members of his family on charges of torturing his daughter-in-law over dowry and allegedly committed suicide.

Rakesh Jalota, his wife Poonam Jalota and son Vivek were arrested for the death of his daughter-in-law Neha, who allegedly committed suicide over demands for dowry, Phagwara SHO, Inspector Ravinder Singh said.

Neha was found hanging at her in-laws’ house in Vishwakarma Nagar yesterday, and her father Kishan Kumar Arora ofJalandhar had lodged a complaint against the Jalotas, the inspector said. Himmant Jalota, Neha’s brother-in-law, has not yet been arrested, but has been booked, the officer said.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/local-bjp-leader-arrested-for-dowry-death-114012201133_1.html

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Are teachers’ caste details mandatory disclosures too? (Jan 26, 2014, DNA India)

Aristotle revered teachers with his words: “Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those, the art of living well.” Alas, 65 years after being declared a Republic, teachers in India, particularly in Gujarat, do not seem to be revered for their learning, but recognised only by their pedigree. Case in sight: A few primary schools in Ahmedabad district, where caste seems to be an important part of the teachers’ identity. For, the schools here have taken to a blatant public display of the caste details of teachers employed by these schools.

Take the case of the Kumar Shaala Primary School No. 1 in Sarkhej, where the display board not only clearly mentions the names of the teachers, their designations, hometown but also whether they have been selected under the SC, ST, OBC or general category. Activists, who have worked for the rights of Dalits and Other Backward Classes (OBC), believe that while pro-active information disclosure is welcome, the blatant display of the teachers’ caste further leads to discrimination, particularly in rural societies where caste loyalties still run deep.

At Chiada village of Bavla taluka, the Adarsh Primary School, too, displays the castes of its teachers. When asked why, an official said it was mandatory to disclose information about teachers. When asked if it was also mandatory to disclose their castes, the official said: “I don’t know. We have to give out all information, and so we do it.” Another official at the Sarkhej school said the information has been there for long and no one has raised any objections. Both the officials refused to come on record about the matter, though.

Ramila Parmar of Navsarjan, who has worked with people from marginalised communities in some of these villages, said the blatant display of caste only exacerbates discrimination against teachers from lower castes. “In rural areas, caste loyalties run strong. The teachers belong to different villages and many a time, you can’t identify their castes from their names. But such display of their caste credentials puts them at a risk of discrimination,” Parmar said, adding that this was the case at many primary schools in Ahmedabad taluka. “In some, the section displaying caste was removed after we questioned them.”

Echoing Parmar’s words, a teacher at a primary school said: “I see a sea change in the attitude and behaviour of parents the moment they know that I belong to the OBC category. We, too, had such a display in our school. But it was later removed after protest,” said the teacher, who did not wish to be identified for fear of reprisal from the authorities. And, despite repeated attempts, Sangeeta Singh, principal secretary, state education department, could not be reached for her comment. A message to her asking if the primary department had issued any notification stating that teachers’ details, including caste, be put up went unanswered. Even state education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama did not respond to phone calls.

http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-dna-special-are-teachers-caste-details-mandatory-disclosures-too-1957313

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Opinions and Editorials

Narendra Modi: Economic Vision: Where The Black Waters Part – By Prarthna Gahilote (Feb 3, 2014, outlook)

“You’ll be able to smell it,” is the constant refrain when we ask for directions to Vapi, an industrial town sitting on the southern end of the country’s Golden Corridor, a 400-km industrial belt in Gujarat. To reach this city in Valsad district, we travel on National Highway 8 which stretches from Mumbai to Surat. The highway itself is a joy to drive on, see¬ming to deliver the promise of Narendra Modi’s ‘Vibrant Gujarat’. But as Vapi app¬roaches, more than the highway signboards marking distances, it’s the afore-mentioned smell, a pungent odour, that lets us know we are nearing our destination.

The approach to the city is marked with chimneys from the 1,048 registered industrial units jutting into the skyline. The town is grey and smoky, engulfed in haze. In the distance, from the vantage point of the elevated corridor, we can spot black smoke emitting from the factories dotting the vast Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) area that half of Vapi inhabits. …

Every house in Kolak village has a ‘pollution file’, complete documentation of the long battle the villagers have waged on that front. Eighty-year-old Kantibhai Makrand, a cancer survivor, is bitter about the present and the future: “Traditionally, this is a fishing village. We had 48 boats in the village, supporting a population of 7,000 people exporting Bombay Duck, fish moss and fish fin. When the industries came, they polluted the rivers. Now the fish are all dead and the water is toxic.”

For proof, one just has to walk near the Kolak river bank bordering the village. The water is black and the stink is overpowering. The Vel khadi in Murraih village has sludge and foam floating on top and the Damanganga looks more like a drain. That’s why in 2010, tired of government apathy on the drinking water shortage in the area, Kolak’s villagers got together to collect donations for a private water filter plant. Set up at a cost of Rs 15 lakh, the plant caters to the needs of 50,000 people in the eight villages around Kolak. The heavily chlorinated water supplied by the state-run water works department is used for washing purposes only.

In Udwada, Danik Patel, once a farmer and now a construction labourer, says, “You can’t farm here anymore. Sugarcane and paddy that once grew well are all finished. Water and air pollution have ruined the soil.” Dismissing the clamour over pollution, Anil G. Patel, regional officer, GPCB, Vapi, has a ready defence: “There has been tremendous improvement in the last three years. We have pushed industries to spend Rs 300 crore on upgrading technology for treatment of waste. In the last six months alone, we have served 70 closure notices to various units for not following proper guidelines.” Quiz Patel on why the MOEF reimposed the tag of ‘critically polluted’ city on Vapi and he hints at the issue being “politically motivated”.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?289276

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The displaced of Muzaffarnagar – By Urvashi Sarkar (Jan 21, 2014, DNA India)

Don’t mention the word cancer,” cautions Liaqat Sheikh as he leads the way to a small tent in Joula camp where his wife Bina is bedridden. It is pitch dark inside. There is electricity only at night. Bina lies tucked under blankets, and struggles to sit up, her face gaunt. Though her family has kept the tent clean, the surrounding squalor and dirt of the camp defeat the purpose. “The doctors suspect cancer. This can only be confirmed after tests are done in Delhi,” says Liaqat, who belongs to Hasanpur village. Liaqat fled with his family, including six children, during the Muzaffarnagar riots of September 2013 and found refuge at a camp in Joula in Muzaffarnagar.

Bina requires proper medical care, but Liaqat is unable to proceed with treatment since he has lost his source of livelihood. The family sold their buffalo for her diagnosis which cost them Rs35,000-40,000. Doctors have asked them to shift Bina to a hospitals in Dehradun or Chandigarh, where the cost of treatment is beyond their reach. “My house was burnt down. I have incurred losses worth Rs4-5 lakh. The expenses for my wife’s treatment have so far come from my brothers, loans on interest and imdad (relief),” says Liaqat, his tone a mix of resignation and anger. Compensation is remote since the Uttar Pradesh government has not yet recognised Hasanpur village as riot-affected, though it is part of the Lisadhi gram panchayat, which was recognized as riot-hit.

Liaqat’s plight is not a stray affair. There is misery all around in the camp. According to Ghulam Mohammed Joula of the Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Manch, 90,000 to 1 lakh people were rendered without livelihoods following the riots. “They have lost their homes and jobs and are surviving on aid. People were initially engaged as labourers, drivers and carpenters, but now they have no source of income.” Poverty has induced existing illnesses to fester and encouraged fresh ones to take root.

Close to Bina’s tent, lives Afsana who suffers from tuberculosis and visits Mehrauli every fortnight to receive treatment. Neither she nor her husband have any source of income. There is also Mohammed Qasim, worried about his nine-year-old son Umar. While rolling up the boy’s sleeves, Qasim draws attention to a bone jutting out, which must be set. “His hand was plastered but it didn’t help.” Thirty five-year-old Sanjeeda, mother of four, has been suffering from a staggering range of illnesses, including tuberculosis, jaundice and typhoid. She has lost all but her voice and even then struggles to speak. Her husband earns Rs300 a day, which is spent for her treatment. …

A visit to Kandhla, Malakpur and Joula camps reveals that some relief had reached through civil society’s efforts. The victims, at least, had a single layer (though flimsy) of warm clothing. They are grateful for the clothes and food but mention the need for housing. At Malakpur camp, brick structures have emerged, though most people still continue to live in tents. One also sees goats and bullocks. This was not the case in September when, after the riots broke out, these camps witnessed poverty and starvation. Imran Mohammed of Malakpur camp has opened a small provisions store where he sells sweets. A few have started selling vegetables. At Kandhla camp, Nafedi Babu says that he has sent two sons to Haryana to work in the garments business. But men finding work are exceptions. The displaced of Muzaffarnagar are grappling with issues that determine their survival – health, livelihood and homes, even as the SP looks the other way.

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-the-displaced-of-muzaffarnagar-1954459

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The ‘Caged Parrot’ Has Changed Its Cage – By Mukul Sinha (Jan 18, 2014, Tehelka)

On 3 July last year, when the CBI filed the first chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan case, it took the permission of the Ahmedabad (Rural) Judicial Magistrate to file a supplementary chargesheet later. Six months have passed, but the CBI is yet to file it. Instead, in the past four weeks or so, there have been several leaked stories in the major national dailies asserting that the CBI has given a clean chit to Amit Shah, who was the Gujarat MoS (Home) at the time of the killing, and BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi. The CBI has now leaked yet another story that Shah had claimed that the several calls he made in June 2004 to former IPS officer DG Vanzara, the main accused in the case, were official phone calls regarding a rath yatra. The investigation agency has apparently accepted Shah’s words as the truth.

The regularity with which stories have been leaked in the name of “highly placed sources in the CBI”, without any denial coming from the agency, makes it clear that the CBI is hand-in-glove with Modi and Shah to let them off the hook in the Ishrat case. Even before filing a supplementary chargesheet, the CBI has announced its findings in the public domain, perhaps to please the BJP and its PM candidate. The “caged parrot” seems to have changed its cage!

The evidence provided by the CBI in the first chargesheet, however, tells a different story. And the most clinching evidence is the statement under Section 161 of the CrPC by GL Singhal, a top police officer who was working under Vanzara, which pins down both the Gujarat CM and Amit Shah in no uncertain terms: “Later, on 14th afternoon at around 1500 hrs, when I was in my office at Gaikwad Haveli, I had received a call from Shri Vanzara. He had instructed me to meet him at Shahibaug office. Accordingly, I met him at Bungalow No. 15, Duffnala, Shahibaug with my Reader. He had showed me a complaint written in his own handwriting wherein some contents (names, number of rounds etc) were not written. It was pertaining to this case and the story of encounter… I had voiced my disagreement to Shri Vanzara on reading this draft complaint.

“My differences were basically on two points. One, the motive in the draft FIR mentioned a plan to kill the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi; but this was wrong. Since I had interrogated Amjadali, I knew the motive was different. Two, I had serious objections to killing the girl, Ishrat. I had said we let her go, and had promised to ensure that she would not spill the beans about this operation to anyone. Despite my strong objections, Shri Vanzara insisted on keeping the motive involving the Chief Minister and on killing the girl and branding her later as a woman terrorist. He had told me that this was already discussed with kali dadhi and safed dadhi, and that they wanted it that way… I was not convinced and felt very uneasy about it, and had left the office.” …

Shah should have checked his phone records for the next three days before making this statement. Vanzara’s call records placed in the chargesheet reveal that there was not a single call on 16, 17 and 18 June between him and Shah. If Shah was indeed speaking to Vanzara about the rath yatra, he would certainly have made several calls as the scheduled day approached. And Shah would have called the Ahmedabad police commissioner rather than an officer of the Crime Branch that was busy conducting the fake encounter, but he didn’t do that even once during this period. To believe Shah’s lie would make it seem as if he and Vanzara had completed the ‘bandobast’ of the rath yatra with the successful execution of the encounter on 15 June 2004!

http://www.tehelka.com/the-caged-parrot-has-changed-its-cage/

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A Bloody Blow To Sikh Psyche – By Ravi Nitesh (Jan 25, 2014, Tehelka)

The stated intent of Operation Bluestar, in the early days of June 1984, was to evict the separatists holed up in the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines. It defies logic but the Indian Army, under orders of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, chose 3 June, the day marking the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the founder of the shrine, to launch the offensive. The number of pilgrims at the temple was unusually high. Facing intense resistance, the Indian Army brought armoured tanks into the sanctum sanctorum and the soldiers defiled the place by walking in with their boots on. Along with the separatists and their leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a large number of innocent pilgrims lost their lives. Simultaneously, the army unleashed its wrath on the Punjab countryside, picking up and killing innocents. All of this sounds like it was an operation conducted in haste, ill-planned and not well thought out. The operation was, in fact, an unparalleled disaster.

The Sikh community felt abused. They felt the nation had disrespected their religious freedom. Bhindranwale became a folk hero. Indira Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards assassinated her on 31 October. In the riots that followed, many thousands of Sikhswere killed, looted, maimed, raped and rendered homeless. The rage that the Sikhsfelt resulted in an escalation of violence in Punjab for another decade. The events mark the erosion of the social contract between the Sikh community and the Indian State. A consequence of this was that many Sikhs sought to escape Punjab and India to start their lives in countries they felt will be less hostile to the community. Britain became one of the biggest destinations for the Sikhs who migrated away from India.

Recent reports coming in from Britain, from declassified documents, point to disturbing facts: they show that as early as February 1984, Indira Gandhi was in talks with her counterpart Margaret Thatcher seeking help from the Special Air Service (SAS) to flush out the separatists from the Golden Temple. Labour MP Tom Watson and Lord Indarjit Singh have demanded an explanation. The British prime minister has ordered an urgent inquiry into the matter. More facts may emerge to tell us why the operation looked so ad hoc when it was being planned for months in advance. Yet, one truth is clear. In a year the Sikhs mark a century of joining in the British Army – and later helping the Allies win World Wars I and II – the fact that Britain was complicit in the destruction of the Golden Temple and the Akal Takht, the seat of justice for the community, is a bloody blow to the Sikh psyche.

This flies in the face of the questions the Sikhs who have migrated threw at the Sikhs who stayed back in India: does India treat the Sikhs better than other countries treat them? The IndianSikhs often fail to respond affirmatively because of the three decades of denial of justice to them. Now, the files reveal, that line of questioning and engaging with each other is divisive for the Sikh community. Now we know why it is wrong to believe that only one nation is hostile; nations often gang up against communities. Perhaps every Sikh child has grown up with these lines by Kabir: “Soora so pahchaniye, je lade deen ke het/Purja-purja kat mare, kabhu na chhade khet (The brave fights for the poor. Even when cut to pieces, the brave does not abandon the battlefield)”. Traditionally, Sikhs have been the soldiers of the society. Now that the declassified documents reveal the collusion of nations against them, it is time for the Sikhs to defend the community.

The British files are a reminder that there is no political succor in escaping India and looking for a safe nation elsewhere. A reminder that Sikhs must unite as a community and, instead of looking at individual governments to address our problems, we need to leave aside questions of which nation is better for us and find ways of becoming a viable and demanding constituency. The files are a prompt for the Sikhs to use their diverse strengths to come together and fight for the cause of justice.

http://www.tehelka.com/a-bloody-blow-to-sikh-psyche/

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Negligence, lies: Mumbai cops shamed in missing techie case – By Kavitha Iyer (Jan 27, 2014, First Post)

The night after Delhi’s law minister was staging a televised midnight raid in Delhi, a family gathered in Mumbai from Machilipatnam, Vijayawada, and as far as Doha, Qatar. They first huddled together in a police station, and then in the dank mortuary of a public hospital. The tale of 23-year-old Esther Anuhya, employed with Tata Consultancy Services in Mumbai, had reached the dark turn they had been dreading for days.

Esther, who had gone missing on 5 January after alighting at the suburban Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and had just been found that evening, dead, partially burnt, her body decomposed beyond recognition, blunt injuries on her body.

But even that grief was outpaced by the outrage they felt – they had told the Mumbai Police on 6 January that they had traced her cellphone’s last signal to Bhandup, but not only had the police been unwilling and their response cold, but the body was also eventually found by despairing family members who formed search parties and combed the thicket themselves.

Over the next few days, amid the din of the vigilante ministers and the Sunanda Tharoor-Kejriwal dharna headlines, the sorry tale of the Mumbai Police’s inaction, negligence and tragedy, one that would have had urban India choking, was covered quietly, minus the de rigueur television outrage. …

http://www.firstpost.com/india/negligence-lies-mumbai-cops-shamed-in-missing-techie-case-1361221.html

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Giving Dalits their due – By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Feb 7, 2014, Frontline)

In a significant legislative move, the Union government’s Ministry of Tribal Affairs released a draft Bill for the implementation of the long-neglected Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP), a special programme mandated by the Planning Commission to benefit the Scheduled Tribes. The Bill, which was released in the end of November 2013, will complement the Bill on the Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) released in June 2013. Both Bills recommend statutory status for these programmes and are an important step forward in making them stronger. They also recommend institutionalisation of accountability mechanisms in case of non-implementation of these programmes.

The SCSP, drafted by former Indian Administrative Service officer and prominent civil rights activist P.S. Krishnan in 1978, requires the Central and State governments to allocate budget funds for Dalits in proportion to their number in the population so as to enhance the flow of development benefits to them. It would entail earmarking 16.2 per cent of the total Plan outlay in the Union Budget for the Scheduled Castes, whose population was pegged around that figure in Census 2001. Similarly, the TSP mandates governments to earmark for the Scheduled Tribes 8.2 per cent of the total Plan outlay.

The Union and State governments have shown little interest in the implementation of these programmes. However, advocacy demanding proper implementation of the two sub-plans has gathered steam in the last 15 years. Leaders of some advocacy groups allege that governments have colluded with the dominant castes to prevent the implementation of these programmes. The activists, therefore, see the Bills as a shot in the arm for their cause.

As many as 151 Dalit and Adivasi groups from 22 States gathered in New Delhi in December and during the month met all-party delegations and political leaders separately. Land rights for Dalits and Adivasis, under the SCSP and the TSP, have been the main demand of these groups. On December 10, International Human Rights Day, thousands of Dalits and Adivasis protested in New Delhi to claim land rights for poor, landless Dalit and tribal families through land distribution for housing and agriculture. Addressing the rally, many Dalit leaders demanded that the provision should be included in the SCSP and the TSP. Following this, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh assured the activists that the Bills would be presented to the Union Cabinet so that they could be introduced in Parliament in subsequent sessions.…

http://www.frontline.in/social-issues/giving-dalits-their-due/article5596960.ece

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Book Review

26/11 Probe – Why Judiciary Also Failed

Author: S.M. Mushrif
Reviewed by: Sumit S Paul
Available at: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, D-84 Abul Fazl Enclave-I, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi – 110 025, Delhi, India; 2014; Pages: 218/ PB ISBN: 978-81-7221-062-5; Price: Rs 275 /Euro 11. http://www.pharosmedia.com/
Review:
26/11 Probe: A Seismic Book (Jan 21, 2014, Milli Gazette)

“Truth is always unnerving. It strikes like a blitzkrieg and often catches us unawares,” wrote the great Mexican poet and Nobel laureate Octavio Paz in his poem “The ruins of Aztec”. The very first line of S M Mushrif’s explosive new book, “26/11 Probe – Why Judiciary Also Failed?” reminds one of Paz’s pithy observation because this book drags us out of our comfort zone and (false) belief that was systematically fed by Intelligence Bureau (IB), right wing groups and other security agencies of Indian government revolving around the charade that started on the fateful night of November 26, 2008 claiming many innocent lives and three (Hindu) police officers, Hemant Karkare being the chief martyr.

Before I descant upon the contents of this volatile book, I must say that this book is devoid of any communal prejudice, despite being painstakingly penned by a former top cop (S M Mushrif, ex-Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra), who happens to be a Muslim but is above religiosity. His first book “Who Killed Karkare” (2009) also engendered a raft of uncomfortable questions that rattled right wing groups and IB. The latest book further throws light on the nefarious and Hindu religio-centric designs of IB and its arbitrary interference with judiciary.

It must be mentioned categorically that one Mr Radhakant Yadav, a 77-year-old veteran socialist leader of Bihar and a three-time member of the Bihar Legislative Assembly, filed a Criminal Writ Petition in the Bombay High Court in July 2010 after reading Mr Mushrif’s first book “Who Killed Karkare”. He was thoroughly convinced by the meticulous points raised by Mushrif. In the petition, Mr Yadav pointed out the serious shortcomings in the investigation and demanded a re-investigation of the case by an independent agency. It’s obvious that Mr Yadav smelt a rat and he could discern the serious flaws and discrepancies in the investigation conducted by Intelligence Bureau, comprising right wing Hindus (Brahmins, to be more precise). … Yadav’s trenchant petition leaves IB as well as judiciary flabbergasted because it further underlines that Mushrif’s arguments in his first book are not an opium-eater’s incoherent ramblings and gibberish. The second book (26/11 Probe) further consolidates his stand that there’s a very big conspiracy that has far and wide ramifications. …

The book reveals a host of facts that were intentionally shelved by the IB. In fact, 26/11 didn’t catch IB and other investigative agencies with their pants down. IB was very much in the know of the fact that LeT sent a group of terrorists from Pakistan to create mayhem in Mumbai. It (IB) allowed the group to enter, in order to execute its own plan to eliminate Karkare taking advantage of the huge chaos. It was actually a “parallel execution” in the parlance of criminology. Karakre had become a thorn in the flesh of Hindu militant outfits because of his upright stand against the explosions actually masterminded by Hindu organizations. His elimination, therefore, became a sine qua non.

Mushrif provides a DVD to buttress his point. Truth is here for all to read and see, literally as well as metaphorically. That Mushrif’s first book was not banned is an evidence enough that its contents were too volcanic for any agency or government to suppress. And now the second book, “26/11 Probe,” explodes all myths that were woven around 26/11 by IB.

http://www.milligazette.com/news/9754-26-11-probe-mushrif-a-seismic-book-review-mumbai-terror-attack

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 30th, 2013

by newsdigest on December 31, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Announcements

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

Lower court goes along with dirty SIT’s clean chit to Modi

Indian Americans renew commitment to secure justice for victims of Gujarat pogroms

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC - www.iamc.com), an advocacy organization dedicated to preserving India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has called into question a dubious verdict of the lower court in the Narendra Modi Gujarat pogroms case. A Magistrate’s court in Gujarat handed down the verdict in the case filed by Mrs. Zakia Jafri and Citizens for Justice and Peace earlier today. The court dismissed as inadequate the evidence available to charge-sheet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on various criminal charges.

In a media advisory sent earlier this week, IAMC highlighted the chronology of how the Special Investigation Team was named by the then Amicus Curiae Harish Salve to comprise of officers with a record of conducting questionable investigations that were favorable to the Modi administration. Many of these officers belonged to the Gujarat cadre and as such reported to the Modi administration as subordinates.

Harish Salve was involved in brokering a multi-billion rupee deal with the Modi administration while he was naming the SIT members, an investigation later found out. Salve was subsequently replaced but the investigation was already compromised.

“The judgement by the lower court is not surprising given the fact that getting justice from any court in Gujarat is difficult under an administration that is itself the prime accused,” said Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “Zakia Jafri’s resolve to take the case to a higher court must be applauded. Declarations of Modi being exonerated are a deliberate attempt to mislead the public about the case’s status,” added Mr. Khan.

Multiple SIT officers were either accused in the 2002 violence or were indicted in other criminal cases for compromising the investigations:

  1. Geeta Johri – A Gujarat cadre officer in the SIT, has been accused by the Supreme Court of India of sabotaging the investigation of the ‘fake encounter’ killing of Sohrabuddin. She destroyed key evidence that would have led to the conviction of Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah’s conviction.
  2. Ashish Bhatia – A Gujarat cadre officer who has been accused of inducting officers into SIT who were involved in the extra-judicial ‘fake encounter’ killing of Ishrat Jahan, an innocent teenage girl shot in cold blood by Gujarat police and later declared to be a dreaded terrorist out to kill Modi. He is alsoaccused of filing incomplete charge-sheets in the 2002 violence cases and pressuring the special public prosecutor in the Gulbarg case of tilt the prosecution against the eye-witnesses.
  3. YC Modi – member of SIT that led the controversial investigation in the murder of Minister Haren Pandya under the Modi administration. The family of Haren Pandya has disowned the investigation. The investigation has been criticized by Pandya’s family for scapegoating Muslim youth while ignoring the role of Chief Minister Modi in Pandya’s murder. Pandya had testified at the concerned citizen’s tribunal accusing CM Narendra Modi of urging his administration to “allow Hindus to vent their anger”.

“Given the corrupt pro-Modi team comprising the SIT, the lower court verdict vindicates the initial claim of the Petitioner Zakia Jafri that free and fair trial is not possible in the State of Gujarat” said Ahsan Khan. “The Supreme Court must take cognizance of this fact and move this case outside of the state of Gujarat” he added. Given the compromised nature of administration and judiciary, the Supreme Court has already moved several cases related to the 2002 Gujarat pogroms outside the state of Gujarat.

The petitioner has the option to appeal the judgment in a higher court in Gujarat or petition the Supreme Court to move the case outside of Gujarat.

Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with several chapters across the nation.

REFERENCES:

Whose Amicus is Harish Salve?
http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main49.asp?filename=Ne120311WhoseAmicus.asp
Who is Geeta Johri?
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/who-is-geeta-johri-41009

Sitting on the truth: The several failures of the Special Investigation Team appointed to reinvestigate nine major cases of violence that occurred in Gujarat 2002
http://www.sabrang.com/cc/archive/2010/mar10/cover1.html

CONTACT:
Indian American Muslim Council
phone/fax: (800) 839-7270
email: info@iamc.com
address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053

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Criminal Charges against Modi and 59 others (Dec 26, 2013, Twocircles.net)

…The Petitioner had originally appealed to the Supreme Court to move the case out of the state of Gujarat, given the control over the judicial process the accused Modi administration has in the state. Contrary to some prior judgments, the Supreme Court declined this request and in its stead constituted a Special Investigation Team to assist the court with the investigation. It should be noted that Special Investigation Teams are routinely constituted by the Supreme Court to assist lower courts in their investigations.

Unfortunately, the SIT members in the Zakia Jafri case were jointly named to the Supreme Court by the then Amicus Curie Harish Salve and the Gujarat Counsel while Salve was brokering a large business deal with the Modi Administration. The SIT as recommended by Salve itself comprised of several Gujarat cadre officers, who were subordinate to the accused Chief Minister Modi and his administration. Salve was subsequently replaced.

Several of the SIT officers were either accused in the 2002 violence or were indicted in other criminal cases for compromising the investigations: 1. Geeta Johri – A Gujarat cadre officer in the SIT, has been accused by the Supreme Court of India of sabotaging the investigation of the ‘fake encounter’ killing of Sohrabuddin. 2. Ashish Bhatia – A Gujarat cadre officer who has been accused of inducting officers into SIT who were involved in the extra-judicial ‘fake encounter’ killing of Ishrat Jahan, an innocent teenage girl shot in cold blood by Gujarat police and later declared to be a dreaded terrorist out to kill Modi. He is also accused of filing incomplete chargesheets in the 2002 violence cases and pressuring the special public prosecutor in the Gulberg case of tilt the prosecution against the eye-witnesses. 3. YC Modi – member of SIT that led the controversial investigation in the murder of Minister Haren Pandya under the Modi administration. The investigation was criticized for scapegoating Muslim youth while the family of Haren Pandya continue to accuses CM Narendra Modi of being the person who ordered the murder of Pandya. Pandya’s family maintains that he was killed because he testified at the concerned citizen’s tribunal accusing CM Narendra Modi of urging his administration to “Allow Hindus to vent their anger”.…

Narendra Modi faces Fifteen Serious Charges of: 1. Willfully Ignoring Messages from State Intelligence about the Violent Repercussions of the RSS-VHP called ‘Mahayajna’ before the tragic Godhra incident on 27.2.2002 and deliberately not initiating precautionary measures that are imperative under Standard Operational Procedure; messages from 7.2.2002 to 25.2.2002, including specific ones that stated that batches of 2,800 and 1,900 kar sevaks 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. Co-accused, ACS Home Ashok Narayan has admitted these messages were received by the GOG Home department.

Evidence: Official Documents Including over one dozen messages of the State Intelligence Bureau to the political head of the home department, Narendra Modi, other senior bureaucrats named as co-conspirators in the Zakia Jafri Complaint including accused former Director General of Police, K Chakravarthi; Tehelka’s Operation Kalank that was authenticated by the CBI following an Order of the NHRC dated 5.3.2008 also contained direct evidence of collection of arms, ammunition including dynamite by several VHP and RSS men before 27.2.2002. All these messages are part of the SIT Investigation Papers at Annexure III, File XXXIV D-176. …

http://twocircles.net/2013dec26/criminal_charges_against_modi_and_59_others.html

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‘Shaken to the core’ but Modi does not offer apology (Dec 27, 2013, Times of India)

Narendra Modi on Friday spoke of “pain” and “anguish” over the 2002 Gujarat riots, but did not proffer any apology over the killings. In a 1000-word blog containing his most detailed comments on the riots, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate said that he felt “absolute emptiness” on witnessing such “inhumanity”. A day after a magistrate’s court upheld a clean chit given to him by a Supreme Court-appointed probe panel in the massacre of 68 people in Gulberg Housing Society here during the riots, Modi said he did not see the judgement as a personal victory or defeat. He began by stating that with the judiciary having spoken, “I felt it important to share my inner thoughts and feelings with the nation at large.”

Modi then referred to the devastating Gujarat earthquake of 2001 causing widespread loss of life and property before he moved on to the riots the following year. He stated wrongly that the riots had happened “within a mere five months” of the earthquake. The earthquake happened on January 26, 2001 and the riots took place in March 2002. After referring to the two tragic events, Modi said, “I was shaken to the core. ‘Grief, ‘sadness, ‘misery’, ‘pain’ ‘anguish’, ‘agony’— mere words could not capture the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity.”

Modi said on the one side was the pain of the victims of the earthquake and on the other the pain of the victims of the riots. “In decisively confronting this great turmoil, I had to single-mindedly focus all the strength given to me by the almighty on the task of peace, justice and rehabilitation; burying the pain and agony I was personally wracked with,” he said in an apparent effort to reach out to the Muslims ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. “This is the first time I am sharing the harrowing ordeal I had gone through in those words at a personal level,” he said in the blog. …

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-12-27/india/45625312_1_gulberg-housing-society-2002-gujarat-riots-narendra-modi

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Gujarat riots: Nanavati Commission gets 21 extension till June 30 to submit report (Dec 31, 2013, Indian Express)

Gujarat government on Tuesday, granted extension till June 30, 2014 to Nanavati-Mehta Commission extension to complete its report and submit report on Godhra riots. Constituted on March 6, 2002 to probe into the Godhra Train Carnage incident reported on February 27, 2002 and the subsequent communal riots in Gujarat, the Commission had sought ‘some more time’ to submit its report. This is the 21st extension the Commission has got from the state government to complete the probe and submit its report.

Secretary of the Commission, C G Patel said, “Today, we have received a communication through fax from the State Government whereby the Commission has been granted extension till June 30, 2014.” The Commission has already given its first report pertaining to the incident of burning the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express in which 59 Kar Sevaks were charred to death near Godhra Railway Station on February 27, 2002. The Commission had called the incident as a pre-planned conspiracy involving “some individuals”.

In its first report, the Commission also made it clear that “there was absolutely no evidence to show that either the Chief Minister and/or any other minister(s) in his Council of Ministers or Police Officers had played any role in the Godhra incident…” However, it also went on to give clean chit to the state government on what followed.

The Commission was appointed by the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government shortly after the riots in 2002. Initially, the Commission was consisting of Justices (Retired) G T Nanavati and K G Shah. However, following the death of Shah in March 2008, Justice (Retired) Akshay Mehta was appointed as the second member of the Commission.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1213785/

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Snoopgate went on even outside Gujarat: Website (Dec 25, 2013, Times of India)

In another twist to the raging controversy over Narendra Modi government’s illicit surveillance on a young woman, investigative website Gulail has claimed that it has a set of 39 new secret tapes which show that the pervasive snooping on the architect extended outside Gujarat. The new tapes also establish beyond doubt that the surveillance, which involved massive use of state machinery, was mounted not to protect Madhuri (not her real name) but to stalk her and pry into her private life. Just like in the first batch of tapes, here too, all the persons involved in this illegal operation – from G L Singhal to A K Sharma to Amit Shah — were passing on the information gathered to a superior authority who is repeatedly referred to as ‘saheb’, claimed Gulail, which also released the first set of tapes of purported conversations between Modi’s aide and former Gujarat home minister Shah and suspended police officer Singhal.

The tapes of the purported conversations between Shah and Singhal suggest that the former had used Gujarat police to tail the woman at the instance of ‘saheb’. Based on the tapes in its possession, Gulail claimed that the focus of the illegal snooping was to know about the woman’s love life. “The police secretly observed Madhuri’s meetings with a man she was about to marry, eavesdropped on her private conversations and then relayed the information back to saheb,” the website claimed. The website also contended that the fresh tapes refuted BJP’s claim that the surveillance was mounted by Modi at the behest of the woman’s father.

The timing of the release of the fresh set of tapes is significant. They have become public at a time when BJP has questioned Centre’s reported move to set up a judicial panel to probe the illegal snooping by saying that it would be an encroachment on the turf of the Gujarat government, all the more so because it has already set up a commission to look into the matter. The claim that the surveillance extended beyond Gujarat can give the locus Congress regime at the Centre may be looking for to order a judicial inquiry into the matter.

The purported tapes show that not just Madhuri, but her would-be husband, her friends, brother and parents were all kept under close watch through physical and telephonic surveillance, which went on for at least two months, if not more, the website said. It claimed that phones within and outside Guajrat were illegally intercepted. “There was correspondence between Modi’s government and B S Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka government over Madhuri’s cell numbers. Her Bangalore cell phones were also intercepted,” the site claimed.

The website claimed that the tapping of her phones were not done following due process. “On one occasion, the Karnataka government turned down the request citing non-compliance of the requirement of the Indian Telegraph Act,” it said. According to Gulail, the new set of tapes are conversations between Singhal, an IPS officer and one of the prime accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter who has been on bail because the CBI, inexplicably, failed to file a charge-sheet against him in time, and A K Sharma, then IG of the state intelligence bureau. These tapes are besides the 267 secret recordings of Singhal that are with the CBI.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Snoopgate-went-on-even-outside-Gujarat-Website/movie-review/27869350.cms

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Law will take its own course in Ishrat Jahan encounter case: Rashid Alvi (Dec 24, 2013, Business Standard)

Congress leader Rashid Alvi on Tuesday said the law will take its own course in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, and described the CBI as an independent agency which carries out its responsibilities with honesty. “The CBI is an independent agency and knows its work. It will definitely file chargesheet against the culprit but we should also wait for the court’s verdict. The law will take its own course,” said Alvi. When asked whether the rising popularity of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is having an impact on the CBI, Alvi said: “The political wind keeps on changing its course. They can be slow or sometimes be very swift. But it does not have an impact on the investigative agencies. They carry out their duties with integrity.”

“Well I would not say surprised because there have many instances where people, whom we don’t think can commit a crime, actually indulges in one. But I am sure the truth will come out in front of the people,” he added. Alvi was reacting to media reports of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reportedly firming up its decision not to charge former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah in connection with the Ishrat Jahan ‘fake’ encounter case. According to television channels, the CBI does have not sufficient proof to indict Shah, a key aide of Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Shah is currently the BJP’s general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh. The CBI had earlier filed a chargesheet on July 3 terming the encounter fake and saying it was a joint operation between Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau (IB).

In August, 2013, Gujarat Additional Director General of Police P P Pandey was arrested by the CBI in the case. Prior to that IPS officer GL Singhal and five other policemen were arrested. Singhal and others managed to get bail after the CBI failed to file a chargesheet in stipulated 90 days. The chargesheet filed by CBI in the Ishrat case mentioned that Singhal had submitted pen drives of recorded conversations with then minister of state for home Amit Shah and one about a meeting held in the office of state attorney general in which some ministers were present to allegedly derail encounter investigations. CBI had later questioned Shah, another former minister Praful Patel, present minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja and advocate general Kamal Trivedi regarding the recorded conversations submitted by Singhal, before they are to file second charge sheets in the case.

The Congress, however, said that there is a larger conspiracy involved in the encounter case, and insisted that this must be probed. Ishrat, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter allegedly with Gujarat Police on the city outskirts on June 15, 2004. Police had then claimed the four were terrorists on a mission to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. However, according to the CBI’s charge sheet filed in July, the encounter, a joint operation by Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau, was stage-managed. Seven Gujarat policemen, including Pandey, have been named as accused and charged with murder and criminal conspiracy, among others.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/law-will-take-its-own-course-in-ishrat-jahan-encounter-case-rashid-alvi-113122400986_1.html

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Communal tension in Chikmagalur (Dec 28, 2013, Deccan Herald)

Scores of people and security personnel were injured when the police resorted to caning to defuse a communal flare-up in the town on Saturday. Tempers ran high after members of a community found the carcass of an animal at the entrance of their place of worship in the morning. Soon, they gathered in large numbers and staged a protest. Some of them set tyres on fire on M G Road and called for a shutdown, saying their religious sentiments had been hurt.

A mob went around forcing the closure of shops on M G Road and I G Road. Enraged, another group of people launched a protest on the other end of M G Road. The situation turned tense and the district administration enforced prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, asking the protesters to disperse. However, the appeal went unheeded and the two groups came to blows.

The police resorted to caning to disperse the protesters on M G Road. Several citizens and policemen were injured in the melee. The town witnessed an undeclared bandh with schools and colleges, commercial establishments and cinemas pulling down their shutters. Additional police forces and platoons of the Rapid Action Force have been deployed on the main streets of the town. Security at places of worship has also been beefed up.

Prathap Reddy, Inspector General of Police (Western Range), Hassan Superintendent of Police Ravi Channannanavar and other senior police officers are camping at Chikmagalur. More police forces have been summoned from the neighbouring districts to maintain law and order. Deputy Commissioner B S Shekharappa said prohibitory orders would be in force till Sunday midnight.

Home Minister K J George said Section 144 had to be imposed. However, the situation is well under control, he added. The SPs of Hassan and Udupi were also rushed to Chikmagalur town to help the local police to monitor the situation, he added.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/377336/communal-tension-chikmagalur.html

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Is Mulayam Singh trying to play Hindutva card before 2014? (Dec 26, 2013, Times of India)

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s accusation that people staying in relief camps in Muzaffarnagar were not victims but enemy conspirators strikes at the heart of his minority politics but it is also in keeping with the comments he has been making lately that suggest his eagerness to tap into the Hindutva sentiment in a polarized atmosphere. The startling remark about riot-hit Muslims appears a brazen bid to appear on the Hindu side of the religious polarization triggered by the Muzaffarnagar conflagration. Given the anger among Muslims over SP-ruled Uttar Pradesh government’s failure to check riots that rendered 50,000 Muslims homeless, the SP seems reconciled to losses in the elections.

Calling the affected Muslims political pawns is part of a recent pattern with ‘Maulana Mulayam’ seeing positives among the “communalists”. Only months back, he surprised party workers by praising former saffron poster boy L K Advani as truthful and honest. He also told an SP rally last month that the Centre was planning to trap Narendra Modi, a comment seen as sympathizing with the “communalist” Gujarat leader. The Yadav chieftain has also urged partymen to learn from BJP about staying disciplined and away from goondaism.

That SP would pander to Hindus on communal grounds seems far-fetched since Muslims form the core of its vote base but it may be a desperate strategy since it is anyways under the threat of losing Muslims. But the comment about Muzaffarnagar could be a way of softening the anger of Hindus against SP’s “minority appeasement”. The larger idea would be to check the intrusion of Modi-led BJP into its rural OBC base that BJP is hoping to win over with the face of the Gujarat strongman, a politics that traces back to the times of Kalyan Singh who, being a backward, made a serious dent into the SP vote base.

If it is difficult for SP to make the ideological crossover overnight but the party may feel under pressure to try out new strategies, caught as it is between the anger of both Hindus and Muslims over riots. The situation in western UP has blown up on SP. Mulayam is seen to be a willing partner in letting the situation drift because religious polarization traditionally consolidates Muslims behind the muscular minority politics of SP. The failure of the administrative machinery to nip the visible problem in the bud is seen as part of that strategy.

Unfortunately for SP, the situation spiralled out of control and ended up making the minorities angry, with rivals BSP and Congress hoping to win them over while BJP looks to tap sections of Hindus. The pictures of Muzaffarnagar relief camps of shivering homeless and dying infants is carrying the message to other parts of the state, threatening Mulayam even further.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/27932255.cms

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Still probing case against Pragya: NIA (Dec 28, 2013, Asian Age)

Reports appearing in a section of the media claiming that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is likely to drop charges of murder against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who is an accused in the RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi murder case, has been questioned by NIA insiders, who on Friday described the latest projection only as a “figment of imagination”.

According to NIA sources, investigations are still being conducted into the Sunil Joshi murder case. When contacted a state police spokesperson also feigned ignorance about any move by NIA to drop charges against Pragya Thakur. Pragya Thakur, who is also an accused in the Malegaon (2006), Samjhauta and Ajmer blasts (2007), was among five arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police in Mumbai in February 2011 and chargesheeted for her alleged role as the “main conspirator” involved in the murder of the RSS pracharak. Joshi was an accused in the Ajmer blast case and was gunned down at Dewas in December 2007.

Pragya’s alleged role in the Sunil Joshi murder case was exposed with the arrest of Ramchandra Khati, a BJP corporator representing ward 44 of Dewas. Her arrest came after a niece of Sunil Joshi had made the disclosure that Pragya had visited Joshi’s house and taken away a briefcase after the murder. Besides Pragya, Harshad Solanki and two of his accomplices Anand Raj Katariya of Indore and Vasudev Parmar, a resident of Dewas, were also arrested in this case.

http://www.asianage.com/india/still-probing-case-against-pragya-nia-231

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Is Ram Mandir agenda not a violation of model code, petitioner asks ECI (Dec 26, 2013, Twocircles.net)

A complaint has been filed with Chief Election Commissioner of Election Commission of India to unregister and ban Bharatiya Janta Party for violation of election model code of conduct from past three consecutive national elections. Advocate Ghulam Rabbani in his complaint submitted to ECI through A.P Chief Electoral Officer stated that as per Section 1 Clause (1) & (3) of the Model Code Of Conduct “No party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic and there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election propaganda.”

He submitted that Bharatyia Janata Party has been repeatedly violating the above mention section of the Model Code of Conduct from past 15 years. In the year 1998 the BJP in its Election Manifesto has mentioned in Chapter-2: “The BJP is convinced that Hindutva has immense potentiality to re-energize this nation and strengthen and discipline it to undertake the arduous task of nation-building. This can and does trigger a higher level of patriotism that can transform the country to greater levels of efficiency and performance. It is with such integrative ideas in mind; the BJP joined the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. This greatest mass movement in post-Independence history reoriented the disoriented polity in India and strengthened the foundation of cultural nationalism.

The BJP is committed to facilitate the construction of a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir at Ram Janmasthan in Ayodhya where a makeshift temple already exists. Shri Ram lies at the core of Indian consciousness. The BJP will explore all consensual, legal and constitutional means to facilitate the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.” And in the year 2004 the Bharatiya Janata Party in its Election Manifesto has mentioned VISION DOCUMENT – 2004, 14 point in highlights that “Commitment to construction of a magnificent Ram Mandir at Ayodhya; Amicable resolution of the issue through dialogue for starting a new chapter in Hindu-Muslim relations.”

And in the section “Our Basic Mission and Commitments” mentions: “Ram Mandir in Ayodhya: The BJP reaffirms its commitment to the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. As Maryada Purushottam, Ram is an inspiring cultural symbol of India. His birthplace in Ayodhya is also associated with the religious sentiments of crores of Hindus. The BJP remains committed to its stand that the judiciary’s verdict in this matter should be accepted by all. However, we believe that dialogue, and a negotiated settlement in an atmosphere of mutual trust and goodwill, are the best way of achieving this goal. The BJP appeals to the religious and social leaders of the Hindu and Muslim communities to speed up the process of dialogue and bring it to an amicable and early fruition. We hope that these efforts will succeed in heralding a new chapter of amity in Hindu-Muslim relations and fortify national integration.”

And in the year 2009 the Bharatiya Janata Party in its Election Manifesto has mentioned in section DEFENDING THE CIVILISATION point 1, “The BJP remains committed to the construction of a grand Ram Mandir at Ayodhya”. Adv. Rabbani claims that above mentioned item’s from BJP’s manifesto establishes that Party has been contesting last three elections by including the construction of grand Ram Mandir at Ayodhya as their main agenda which is clearly against the rules prescribed by ECI and violation of Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of Political Parties and candidates. Ram Mandir and Babari Masjid issue in the past has sparked several communal riots among communities. Petitioner expressed his surprise that this communal conflict propagation as an election agenda has not been noticed by the ECI.

http://twocircles.net/2013dec26/ram_mandir_agenda_not_violation_model_code_petitioner_asks_eci.html

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Asaram’s wife, daughter admit to supplying girls (Dec 22, 2013, Deccan Herald)

The Surat Police on Sunday arrested self-styled godman Asaram Bapu’s wife Lakshmi and daughter Bharti who have reportedly conceded that they supplied girls to Asaram. However, the duo were released on bail. They admitted during interrogation the girls were sent to Asaram on the pretext of “Gurudiksha”. Police sources claimed that Asaram used to exploit girls sexually during the ritual and used to keep them in his ashram. It is also alleged that the girls were brutally beaten.

The sisters, who complained against Asaram and his son were also meted out with the same fate and threatened with dire consequences if they revealed the reality. “That’s the major reason both the sisters’ maintained silence for a period of ten years,” said a senior cop. Meanwhile, Asaram’s son Narain Sai and six others were granted remand by a Surat court up to December 27 for trying to bribe officials investigating sexual assault case against Sai and his father.

On December 19, Sai was remanded to judicial custody by the court for 14 days. But the police demanded remand to investigate into bribery bid of Rs 13 crore, which was foiled by the Surat cops. Sai, who was declared an absconder after the complaint by the two sisters, was nabbed on December 4 from Delhi-Haryana border and brought to Surat on a transfer warrant.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/376227/asarams-wife-daughter-admit-supplying.html

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Opinions and Editorials

Painful Path to Justice: Travails of Zakia Jafri – By Ram Puniyani (Dec 30, 2013, Twocircles.net)

The metropolitan court on 26th December 2013 exonerated Narendra Modi and 59 others for their complicity in the Gujarat carnage. Fully accepting the report of SIT (Special Investigation Team) the court endorsed the view of Modi and Government about their role in the carnage. The Court rejected a petition seeking the prosecution of Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 communal riots case. There were varied reactions to this. Mrs Jafri broke down but vowed to continue her legal battle. She has alleged that Mr. Modi colluded with senior ministers, bureaucrats and the police to facilitate the communal violence that tore through the state. Narendra Modi stated that he felt relief for facing the trial by fire and also wrote a blog saying that he was shaken to the core by the violence, he felt ‘Grief’, ‘Sadness’, ‘Misery’, ‘Pain’, ‘Anguish’, ‘Agony’. Responding to the poor state of the justice delivery system in Gujarat social activist Mallika Sarabhai said today that it was “silly to have expected anything else but a clean chit” for Mr. Modi from a Gujarat court.” As per her everyone in Gujarat was “terrified of Modi’s vengeance”.

Just to recapitulate, the massive Gujarat violence which took the communal violence to harrowing depths, the open collusion of state and the perpetrators of violence stood nakedly for all to see. This was also the violence where the social activists took up the case of justice in a determined way leading to shifting of crucial cases outside of Gujarat as in the atmosphere of intimidation prevailing in Gujarat; the process of deliverance of justice is difficult. The SIT (Special Investigation Team) was formed under the Supervision of the Supreme Court, but those in the SIT could not rise up to the task of the objectivity in the process of interpretation of investigation. Interestingly as SIT gave ‘clean chit’ to Modi, the Amicus Curiae Raju Ramcnadran appointed by Supreme Court stated that there is enough evidence in the report to prosecute Modi under different clauses. Immediately after the judgment was out the BJP activists celebrated by bursting crackers and Modi tweeted, ‘Satyamev Jayate’, (Truth wins). Interestingly there seem to be different truths depending on which side of the divide you are. While ‘Modi’s truth’ seems to have won for the time being the truth of Zakia Jafri and thousands of victims of Gujarat is struggling to get justice.

The same events are seen in different light for different people. In the aftermath of the verdict the BJP spokesmen have been aggressively defending the verdict. The press release by Teesta Setalvad (Citizens for Justice and Peace), which is helping Zaki Jafri, gave a detailed account of the petition. This petition shows that the team of lawyers has done their job well. The petition points out the that state had deliberately ignored the signal which indicated the build up towards disaster. They produced concrete evidence, fax messages, telephone call records amongst others to show that state administration was in the know of the aggressive behavior of the returning Kar Sevaks who were giving provocative slogans. The rowdy nature of the Kar Sevaks was documented. The words and deeds of the Chief Minister, who now seems to be projecting as if it was a period of pain, is contrary to his actions during that time. That time he openly alleged the role of International terrorism, Pakistan’s ISI and local Muslims in the burning of the train. He created a provocative atmosphere by involving the VHP in the episode. …

Sting operations have also shown the role of communal forces and collusion of state machinery. Dr. Maya Kodnani, Modi’s cabinet colleague and Babu Bajrangi of VHP are currently serving life term for their crime. During the process of relief also, the state shirked from its responsibility by saying that the refugee camps are ‘children manufacturing centers’. The Godhra train burning was called an act of terrorism and the carnage was treated as mere violence. The violence victims are now living in abysmal conditions in the ghettoes like Juhapura. With the help of propaganda all these ‘truths’ of Gujarat are being pushed under the carpet. Any criticism of the state leadership and policy is being projected as the insult of the people of Gujarat. The majority community has been made to feel insecure through the propaganda unleashed by the communal forces.

Many other culprits got clean chit at lower courts but law did catch up with them in due course as in the case of Maya Kodnani. Same state saw the spate of fake encounters, the ones like that of Ishrat Jahan. Many top police officers of the state are behind the bars for their collusion with the divisive agenda, Vanjara and company. Sarabhai correctly depicts the picture of the justice in Gujarat. So it is a battle between two sets of truths, the truth of Modi on one side and that of Zakia Jafri on the other. Modi benefitted from the whole tragedy as at first, the tottering BJP hold became stronger in Gujarat. Then through a carefully orchestrated propaganda of development he came to position himself as the prime ministerial candidate of BJP. Zakia Jafri and the score of victims who lost their near and dear one’s, lost their home and hearth and have to live in the dark tunnels of the haunting memories of what happened to them during the violence. Yes truth of the one’s wronged; the one who are victims should prevail. This is the beginning of the battle for justice and the resolve of Mrs Jafri and the social activists supporting her is not just for her personal grief but also for the cause of justice all over the state. Surely one hopes ‘their’ truth will prevail in due course.

http://twocircles.net/2013dec30/painful_path_justice_travails_zakia_jafri.html

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Snooping in Modi land – By A.G. Noorani (Jan 10, 2014, Frontline)

The two-member Commission of Inquiry on the snooping scandal, which Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appointed on November 26, is a fraud as well as a ruse. It is a fraud for two reasons. First, it studiously omits from its remit precisely the issues that have caused widespread concern and, next, because the very composition of the Commission betrays evil intent. Not least because one of the two members is a retired bureaucrat with an uninspiring past.

It is a ruse because its clear object is to prevent the Centre from appointing a Commission of Inquiry. The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, empowers both the Central and State governments to set up commissions of inquiry on any of the matters within their respective legislative competence. However, a proviso to Section 3(1)(b) of the Act says, “Provided that where any such commission has been appointed to inquire into any matter by a State government, the Central government shall not appoint another commission to inquire into the same matter for so long as the commission appointed by the State government is functioning, unless the Central government is of opinion that the scope of inquiry should be extended to two or more States.”

For reasons more than one, the ruse will fail. The proviso itself explicitly empowers the Central government to supersede the State commission by one of its own if “the Central government is of opinion that the scope of the inquiry should be extended to two or more States”. In plain words, if the Government of India feels that the probe should be extended beyond Gujarat. On the facts, such an “opinion” would not only be reasonable but that course would be imperative in the interests of justice and to fulfil the object of setting up a commission of inquiry. There is another reason, besides. Modi’s commission has a remit so narrowly restricted as to invite disdain and, thus, permits the Centre to fill the gaping void by providing the desired remit, which, accordingly, would not be inquiring “into the same matter” – the one Modi ordained. And the snooping covered more States than one.

There is a precedent for it which received the endorsement of the Supreme Court. After the Emergency, the wily Devraj Urs hastily set up a commission of inquiry to pre-empt any move by the Janata Party government to bring him to book before a Central body. The Centre adopted an equally clever course and foiled Devraj Urs’ move. The Supreme Court upheld the appointment of the Centre’s commission of inquiry. More on this, later.

If a proper commission of inquiry is called for in this case, it is because in November the nation was rocked by disclosures of snooping by the Gujarat government and, worse, it was disgusted by the lies retailed in its defence by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) leaders in New Delhi. This is just one of the many skeletons that have tumbled out of the Modi cabinet. …

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/snooping-in-modi-land/article5492507.ece

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Wave that was not – By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Jan 10, 2014, Frontline)

Despite the fact that voters’ considerations are different in Assembly and parliamentary elections, the recent elections to the Assemblies in five States were seen as a crucial test for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and his appeal among the electorate. The BJP and its growing social media campaign have projected Modi as the most important force that will determine voting preferences in the 2014 parliamentary election. The campaign has not only helped Modi and his rhetoric of development to gain great influence among the neo-middle class that has benefited from the opening up of private sector services in the past decade but has also pushed him to the centre of political debates before next year’s elections. As the BJP is attributing thumping victories in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and its comfortable win in Chhattisgarh to Modi’s appeal, the result in Delhi, which threw a hung Assembly, points to ambiguous trends. While it is clear that the Congress received a drubbing from the people of Delhi, the result shows that the BJP, too, is not comfortably placed in terms of it being seen as an alternative to the Congress.

The spectacular showing of the one-year-old Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi emphasises that neither Modi nor his aggressive campaign helped the BJP significantly. Political observers say that the mandate in Delhi is, undoubtedly, a referendum against the top-heavy, communal, and autocratic brand of politics that Modi professes and practises. This can be understood from the fact that even an unprecedentedly high resentment against the ruling Congress was not enough for the strong cadre-driven BJP, the main opposition party for 15 years in Delhi, to muster a simple majority in the 70-member Assembly. The Congress’ three consecutive terms in Delhi and a wave of disenchantment against the Union government had given the BJP ideal political ground to emerge victorious. However, the result shows that the people of Delhi are willing to vote for a third party and have lost considerable faith in both the Congress and the BJP.

The State BJP fought the elections by projecting Modi as its biggest leader. None of the other big leaders of the BJP, including L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, figured prominently in its campaign. This it did by resorting to a three-pronged strategy. First, despite the fact that its State unit president Vijay Goel projected himself as would-be Chief Minister two months before the elections, the BJP chose Modi’s nominee Harsh Vardhan as its chief ministerial candidate. Instead of projecting Vardhan’s leadership capabilities, he was shown as Modi’s protégé who would adopt Modi’s style of governance in Delhi. The party clearly sacrificed Vardhan in the race to push Modi to the front.

Secondly, in an attempt to diffuse the feuds within the State unit, Modi’s image and personality cult loomed large in all the party’s talk and hoardings. On December 4, the day of election, newspapers carried a front page advertisement of the BJP featuring Modi prominently, with Vardhan pushed into a small corner of the page. Thirdly, party activists specifically invoked Modi’s name in all the constituencies of Delhi. From upper-class constituencies in south Delhi to the ones in rural and outer Delhi, party activists projected him as the symbol of change. It was clear that the BJP relied on the Modi cult in the campaign, in the belief that Modi has the biggest traction among urban voters. That is why Modi started his nationwide electoral campaign from the prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce of Delhi University. Delhi became the BJP’s testing ground and it put high energy into the electoral battle in the national capital.

The BJP’s miscalculation became clear when the AAP cut not just into the traditional votes of the Congress but also a major chunk of the BJP’s votes. … The crucial factor that points to Modi’s failure in winning over the masses in Delhi is that the BJP lost most of the constituencies where Modi himself had campaigned. He led massive rallies in six constituencies, of which it won only two. In Ambedkar Nagar, Ballimaran, Sultanpur Majra and Rohini, the BJP candidates lost, whereas in Vishwasnagar and Matiala, where the party’s candidates were stronger than those of other parties, the party won the election. This, despite the fact that five of these rallies were held in the last four days of the campaign. … Clearly, the people of Delhi lack complete trust in Modi, and the hung Assembly in Delhi demonstrates it. The “Modi effect”, after all, may not prove to be the Indravajra (weapon of the god Indra) that the BJP relies on now.

http://www.frontline.in/politics/wave-that-was-not/article5486392.ece

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Transformational politics – Editorial (Dec 24, 2013, The Hindu)

The Aam Aadmi Party’s journey from mass movement to political office in just one year is without a parallel in Indian electoral history, reflecting as it does a popular yearning for change from the models of governance on offer today. A disenchanted electorate is clearly behind the resounding mandate to the Arvind Kejriwal-led party which made an ambitious leap from the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare. Yet, history has been made and the AAP is now poised to form a government in Delhi with Mr. Kejriwal as Chief Minister. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which was ahead of the AAP by three seats, wisely decided not to form a government through horse-trading and the Congress did not have the numbers.

Given the high moral ground on which the AAP had placed the game of government formation, the BJP could not afford to be seen as any less righteous than the AAP. Yet, the AAP itself was caught in a quandary having declared in the electoral run-up that it would not seek or offer support to the Congress and the BJP. But going back to the voters for a fresh mandate was not an option because that would have been a betrayal of the faith the voters had reposed in the AAP – a first-time party that had come within a whisker of power because of the hope it offered for political renewal and transformation.

The situation actually offered Mr. Kejriwal the opportunity to put in practice a major manifesto promise: to get the people’s feedback on issues of importance. With the message from the Jan Sabhas a resounding ‘yes’ for government formation, the next step was for Mr. Kejriwal to offer to form a government with outside support from the Congress. The idea of a referendum itself was refreshing as a method of seeking the people’s endorsement of the way forward in this complex situation. It is also a vital instrument of verifying public opinion that is missing from today’s democratic political practice in India. Mainstream parties seem to be increasingly out of sync with the dramatic changes on the ground that indicates the soaring aspirations of new social groups. The AAP has correctly gauged the potential and power of this transformative energy and indeed, sees itself as giving political expression to it.

Mr. Kejriwal is admittedly hamstrung by having to take support from the Congress, which the AAP had denounced as irredeemably corrupt. However, even with this constraint, he can bring about substantive changes in governance, starting with putting an end to the much-detested VIP culture. While the first breakthrough is definitely the passing of the Lokpal law, there are still several promises that the AAP must keep. The real test of the AAP’s commitment to clean politics and transparent governance begins now.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/transformational-politics/article5494313.ece

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A cruel abdication – Editorial (Dec 26, 2013, Indian Express)

After failing to keep the peace, the Samajwadi Party now denies Muzaffarnagar victims’ plight. There are no riot victims in Muzaffarnagar’s camps”, said Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Four months after the communal violence that devastated families in Muzaffarnagar, the state government has decided that enough is enough – not by helping the victims repair their lives, but by wishing them away.

After failing to avert or control the conflict, the state failed again, and again, to reassure fearful riot victims, who are still huddled in relief camps or with relatives and friends, unwilling to return home. It has been tardy and inefficient in providing compensation, medical facilities, sanitation or even warm clothing and blankets to those in the camps, and the victims have been left to the charity of religious organisations. Young children, including newborn babies, have died because of exposure to the cold, there have been reports of sexual violence.

The situation in these camps has been observed and recorded by the media, and by fact-finding teams, which clearly counter the administration’s justifications. But the SP government, instead of listening to, and attempting to address, the plight of the camps, first said that these stories were trumped up or exaggerated, and then, incredibly, suggested that the riot victims were part of a Congress-BJP conspiracy designed to show up the government. Now it has chosen to disband the camps and stop official assistance, to make the problem go away.

Yadav’s statement was prompted by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the districts, which he called “secular tourism”. But it is the SP’s instrumental invocation of minority welfare that stands exposed by the squalor and misery in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. For a man whose prime ministerial ambitions are transparent, Yadav and his party have been disastrous even at political messaging.

Their concern for Muslims was writ large in their manifesto, but their actions have stayed at the level of meaningless gesture. Just like it made a sloppy case for dropping terror cases against Muslims “in the interest of communal harmony”, without putting in the work to counter flaws in the investigation or even submitting affidavits to the courts, it has addressed the post-riot situation with striking insincerity. By denying the pain of thousands of riot-affected citizens, Yadav has only undermined his own claim of leadership.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1211790/

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Remove AFSPA to end fake encounters – Editorial (Dec 27, 2013, Economic Times)

News that the Indian army has ordered court martial proceedings against six soldiers, including a colonel and a major, in the Machhil (in Kupwara district of J&K) fake encounter case, 2010, could ordinarily be seen as a firm step against human rights abuses by men in uniform. Taking such action, particularly in areas like J&K and the northeast, can send a message to the people that such violations will not go unpunished.

But, unfortunately, the record of the armed forces on this count is abysmal. Often, allegations of abuses have been brushed off, or internal investigations, if ordered, have exonerated personnel of any wrongdoing. Now, it is imperative that there be some degree of transparency in the proceedings to enable that message of intolerance for such abuses to reach the people of the state. But it should be clear that laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), along with the massive militarisation in J&K, make such incidents possible.

When blanket impunity is granted to armed forces, along with incentives to kill militants, the inducement to kill innocents and pass them off as militants, as happened in this case, is present. It should be clear that all talk of normalcy and democracy will sound hollow as long as AFSPA exists. The call to repeal this black law has come from many quarters. It should go.

AFSPA also allows the armed forces immunity from normal judicial processes, and, instead, in a rare case such as this, use its own mechanisms. This does not help in the larger task in a state like J&K. Here, establishing the primacy of the political, judicial, democratic process – not of the military apparatus – is the key task. And, for any government, finding the political will to counter the army’s reluctance to repeal AFSPA would be a key step in that task.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/27993311.cms

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 18th, 2013

November 19, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony The unsung heroes of Muzaffarnagar – an untold story News Headlines Gujarat riots return to haunt Modi as US writers brand him ‘the poster child of India’s failure to punish the violent’ US Republicans deny they invited Modi to address party Congressional leaders Snooping charges leveled [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 7th, 2013

October 8, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Youth in UP bridging harmony News Headlines Modi vs CBI: Is the saffron fold jittery about law catching up their own ‘the one’ leader? Mystery of Modi’s silence: Some of his key associates may get disqualified People who razed Babri mosque talking about toilets: Azam Khan [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 30th, 2013

October 2, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Post Riots, Samajwadi Party committee to strengthen communal harmony in Muzaffarnagar News Headlines Criminal Charges Which Narendra Modi Faces Caught on tape: Praful Patel admits influencing Ishrat probe, CBI likely to grill Narendra Modi for inspiring, guiding and monitoring every police action CBI grills BJP Rajya [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 23rd, 2013

September 24, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines ‘No anguish on Modi’s face when he talks about riots’ I wouldn’t want to live in India if Modi becomes PM, author Ananthamurthy says Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case: CBI quizzes principal secretary to Modi, top cop BJP MLA Suresh Rana arrested for role in Muzaffarnagar [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 16th, 2013

September 17, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Rounup Announcements Muzaffarnagar carnage a planned tactic of communal politics Communal Harmony Hindus, Muslims in 2 villages show UP how to live and let live News Headlines SP, BJP flared up communal tension: Ajit Singh Muzaffarnagar riots: ‘I saw my wife and child killed’, tearful villager tells PM Nearly [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 2nd, 2013

September 3, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines ‘File chargesheet against Narendra Modi, others in 2002 post-Godhra riots case’ British Sikhs to oppose any Narendra Modi visit to UK PIL plea alleges bid by BJP leaders to derail Prajapati case against Amit Shah Asaram gets 14-day taste of jail, Jodhpur Police say case against [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 26th, 2013

August 27, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Function on communal harmony News Headlines 02 riots: Let court, not SIT, decide Gujarat government role Narendra Modi following Hitler’s tactics to grab power: Digvijaya Singh CBI to confront IB ex-officer in Ishrat case again Yatra ban: We won’t let UP become Gujarat, says SP Shiv [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 5th, 2013

August 6, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony UGC Academic Staff College gets special grant to promote communal harmony News Headlines Conclusions of SIT extremely perverse meant to facilitate state gov case: Zakia Jafri’s counsel Coalition Against Genocide representative meets Kerry, urges to continue the visa ban on Modi Gujarat cop’s balancing act: A [...]

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