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Gujarat riots

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 1st, 2014

by newsdigest on September 2, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Gujarat model of harmony: Water thicker than blood (Aug 23, 2014, Bangalore Mirror)

The water in the cistern at Futi Masjid in Dariapur has not tasted sweeter in over 500 years of its existence. Had it not been for AMC’s decision to cut off water supply to Central and North Zones for two days – due to ongoing work to merge water supply lines in the area – such exemplary display of communal harmony may not have been witnessed by the city on Friday.

At one end of the cistern, Muslim men performed the vazu (washing hands and feet before offering the namaz), and at the other, Hindu women queued up to fill buckets, visibly overwhelmed by the largeheartedness of people they had never known before.

The 14th century masjid is surrounded by Hindu localities namely Lodhwad, Rupapara, Ambedkar vaas, Vankar vaas and Mena vaas. Not a single Muslim family lives in these localities. The Muslims who visit the masjid to offer namaz come from Naginapole, Limbdi, Dabhgarwad, Mastan mohalla and other places.

Since the Hindu residents learnt about AMC’s decision to cut water supply only on Friday morning through the newspapers, they could not stock up on water the previous day. The masjid trustees, who realised how difficult it would be for the residents to go without water for two days, offered to provide them water from the masjid’s vazukhana between 2 and 5 pm. They also put up a board outside the masjid in the morning, announcing the same.

This came as a huge respite to the Hindus in the area who were worried how they would go about with their daily chores without water. Carrying buckets in hand, the sari-clad women entered the masjid’s compound for the first time with prayers of gratitude on their lips. By the time the namaz began at 5.30 pm, more than 2,000 women had carried home several thousand gallons of water in their buckets. …

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/articleshow/40811766.cms

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Concerned over delay in Gujarat riots cases: SC (Aug 27, 2014, Indian Express)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern over prolonged incarceration of accused in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases without being held guilty due to delay in decisions.

A Bench led by Justice H L Dattu said the court had been receiving letters from some of them, questioning how long they were supposed to languish behind the bars though they had not been convicted.

“They say they have been languishing for over 10 years now. They cannot even come out on bail as the High Court says we cannot do anything. We want to be able to tell them that you remain inside or that you can come out. Trials have to be completed,” observed the bench.

The bench was taking stock of the status of the trials of nine riot cases that were investigated by the Special Investigation Team. While judgments have been delivered in six of them, the trials still await the final word. In one such pending case that relates to the killing of three British nationals in post-Godhra riots, the Bench directed the trial court to conclude trials and deliver verdict within three months.

In Gulberg Society case where former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 killed, the Bench noted that a stay was operating against pronouncement of judgment by the apex court. It asked SIT and amicus curiae Harish Salve to move an application so that the stay order could be modified. It would take up the matter next on September 16 for passing necessary orders.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/concerned-over-delay-in-gujarat-riots-cases-sc/

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‘Reinstatement of Cops accused of fake encounters is clear indication that administration is helping them’ (Aug 31, 2014, Twocircles.net)

“On availing the bail, the respective applicants shall not directly or indirectly make an inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him to disclose such facts to the Court or to any other authority”, said Bombay High Court while granting bail to IPS officer Abhay Chudasama and two others in the 2005 fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin. The order was pronounced on 28th April 2014 by Bombay High Court Justice A R Joshi.

Such caution by the high court in Chudasama’s case was not exception but the usual practice of court of law forewarning accused granted bail by the court with the intention that although court is releasing accused from prison but allegations against him still hold till judged ultimately by the trial court. Because of this after releasing on bail he must remain away from everything which comes under the domain of evidence against him so that ‘his personal liberty’ granted by court should not influence or tamper any material evidence of the case nor even because of his simple physical presence. …

While G L Singhal has been reinstated to the position of Group Commandant in the State Reserve Police (SRP) on 28th May 2014, Abhay Chudasma has been made the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Vigilance Squad in the DGP’s office, Gandhinagar with the notification issued on the night of 14th Aug 2014. This means that Chudasama will have special powers with his posting to conduct raids anywhere in Gujarat state to curb crimes.

Both these officers were earlier suspended by Gujarat government following their arrests but their reinstatement soon after the grant of bail raises a few unanswered questions for the Anandi Ben led BJP government in Gujarat.

The foremost and utmost important question having legal implications is that reinstating such tainted officers, who have not yet been cleared from criminal charges, to an elite post in the state police force offering wide range of powers of summoning any person in the state or sanctioning prosecution against any accused person in the state can certainly influence the witnesses – many of whom are their subordinate police personnel. Who will assure that the witnesses against them in their own criminal cases will not be influenced or that prosecution evidences against them will not be hampered in any way due to their reinstatement? …

http://twocircles.net/2014aug31/1409463006.html

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Caught on camera: BJP MP asks supporters to ‘convert 100 Muslim girls for 1 Hindu girl’ (Aug 27, 2014, Deccan Chronicle)

BJP MP Yogi Adityanath triggered a massive row after an undated video surfaced, in which he is caught on

camera

asking his supporters to marry girls of another community to set the records straight. In the video, Yogi Adityanath is seen addressing his supporters and saying, “We have decided that if they convert one Hindu girl, we will convert 100 Muslim girls.”

However, on Wednesday he said that his remark on ‘love jihad’ is not authentic and blamed the media for showing unauthentic news. This is not the first time when Yogi Adityanath has stirred controversy.

Earlier, while addressing the Parliament on the issue of Communal Violence Bill, he accused the opposition Congress of working at the behest of Pakistan. Adityanath is currently facing charges of inciting communal tension in Gorakhpur in 2007.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/140827/nation-current-affairs/article/caught-camera-bjp-mp-asks-supporters-%E2%80%98convert-100-muslim-girls

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22 absconding Muzaffarnagar riots accused: Cops announce cash reward (Aug 26, 2014, Times of India)

Police have announced a cash REWARD of Rs 2,500 for providing information about 22 accused absconding in connection with six gang-rape cases in Phugana and Lank villages of the district during riots last year. “A reward of Rs 2,500 would be given to those providing information about any of the 22 gang rape accused who have been absconding since the incident,” SSP HN Singh said.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the riots had identified 25 accused in six gang-rape cases during the riots last year. Six women had complained that they were gang-raped during riots and their houses were burnt.

According to SIT inspector, Mala Yadav, “Only three accused identified as Vedpal, Rockey and Maheshvir have been arrested and remaining 22 accused are absconding.” Court had also initiated attachment proceedings against the absconding accused. …

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/40902085.cms

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India trapped in communal cauldron; Uttar Pradesh atop five worst-hit states (Aug 27, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Repeated communal flare-ups have put the heat on the Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre, but data available with Parliament show such incidents are not new. UP leads the table of five worst-hit states between 2009 and 2013. In these five years, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat have witnessed 2,389 cases of communal flare-ups. …

Data show UP averaged 12 communal incidents per month on an average during this period. Official statistics from answers to questions raised in Parliament also show that in this five-year period, as many as 39 communal incidents occurred on an average in these five states each month, killing 9 people and injuring 114.

Communal unrest in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, came under the spotlight amid talk of polarisation of voters. Incidents of communal violence have been reported after the NDA government came to power, but numbers do not back the perception that they have risen sharply.

Statistics available for May and June, the first half of Modi’s rule, show 113 incidents of communal violence took place across the country, claiming 15 lives. On extrapolation this comes to 678 incidents in a year, which is below the annual average of 706 cases for the years 2009-2013.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1257124.aspx

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Riot-accused BJP MLA gets ‘Z’ security, opposition slams govt (Aug 27, 2014, Times of India)

BJP MLA Sangeet Som, accused of instigating last year’s Muzaffarnagar riots in UP, has been accorded ‘Z’ category security, just a notch lower than the highest protection extended to a threatened VIP. It was approved by the home ministry after intelligence inputs warned of a threat to his life from alleged extremist elements.

Som, who represents the Sardhana assembly seat in western UP, is likely to be protected by CRPF commandos. “We have received a letter from the Centre regarding upgrade of Som’s security (from Y category) to Z category,” UP’s IG (Law and Order) Amrendra Singh Sengar was quoted by PTI as saying. The letter has been forwarded to the agency concerned, he said.

The move to grant ‘Z’ security cover to the riot-accused legislator was slammed by opposition parties, including the Congress, SP and JD(U), which called it “a joke on the victims of Muzaffarnagar riots”. But the BJP defended the government’s decision as based on “independent assessment” of the threat perception by the intelligence agencies. …

However, the Congress minced no words in criticizing the move. “It’s a weird thing. It’s a strange government. Those who are victims of riots are running from pillar to post and those who are riot-accused are getting Z category security … nothing can be a bigger irony, a bigger joke with those whose houses were burnt and those who suffered huge losses,” remarked Congress leader Manish Tewari.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/40947489.cms

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Cong, SP slam Adityanath for blaming Muslims for riots (Aug 31, 2014, Hindustan Times)

BJP leader Yogi Adityanath on Sunday came under attack from the Congress and other Opposition parties for his controversial remarks on Muslims. “He always makes statements which can lead to disputes. It is very unfortunate to talk such things about a particular community,” Congress leader Rashid Alvi said a day after the firebrand BJP leader said riots happen in Uttar Pradesh where Muslims are more than 20% in numbers.

CPI leader D Raja termed as “absurd” the Gorakhpur MP’s remarks. “It also shows a rabid communal interpretation of the situation that since Muslims are some 20% or more, that causes communal strife.” he said. …

The BJP MP has already been under attack in recent days after two CDs surfaced in which he is shown making inflammatory speeches against minorities.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1258470.aspx

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Meerut Commissioner’s report too indicts BJP MP (Aug 27, 2014, The Hindu)

The Meerut Commissioner in his report on last month’s riots in Saharanpur has reportedly blamed the local MP Raghav Lakhanpal for fanning tension besides indicting district authorities for failing to assess the situation and control the rioting mob.

Notably, the report of Meerut Commissioner Bhupendra Singh is almost identical to the “findings” of a committee set up by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and headed by senior Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav. It had also blamed the local MP and BJP workers for their negative role in the riots that left three dead and hundreds of shops gutted.

The Commissioner’s report states that despite requests from local officials, Mr. Lakhanpal and some other BJP leaders failed to cooperate with them and moved around in the city in their vehicles, thus fanning tension. Senior State government officials confirmed that the Commissioner’s report has been submitted to the government, but refused to share the details.

Armed with the two reports, the government was now planning to take action against those named in the report, government sources said. However, due to by-elections, the government might postpone taking penal action, they added.…

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/meerut-commissioners-report-too-indicts-bjp-mp/article6354788.ece

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Media trial: SC expresses concern, may frame norms (Aug 30, 2014, Indian Express)

Concerned over trial by media, which is often supplied with crucial facts on evidence by investigating agencies and prosecuting officers, the Supreme Court Thursday set about to consider framing guidelines for media over covering criminal cases and briefing by investigating agencies.

A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha described the issue as “very serious” and said the court would consider some guidelines to be put in place for balancing the rights and interests of all the stakeholders.

The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman, noted that the apex court needed to delve into the issue in the wake of growing instances of trials by media and public condemnation of accused on the basis of information provided by police and prosecutors although the trial remains to conclude. …

The bench is also set to examine the guidelines to ensure investigation into cases of fake encounters, as placed on record by PUCL, NHRC and the Bombay High Court.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/media-trial-sc-expresses-concern-may-frame-norms/

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Delhi: Priest held for rape on Janmashtami (Aug 30, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Two minor girls, aged seven and eight, were raped in a south Delhi temple by a 70-year-old priest on Janmashtami day, at a time when celebrations were on in full swing. Baba Vishvabandhu, who is also accused of molesting the girls for over a week, was arrested that very day (August 18) after the girls’ parents lodged a complaint at Mehrauli police station.

The incident, which took place in a village near Mehrauli, came to light after the eight-year-old girl complained to her mother of pain in her lower abdomen and difficulty passing urine before finally breaking down in tears and revealing the truth. The mother went to the house of her daughter’s friend, where she too narrated the same story.

The girls told their parents the priest would molest them and put his fingers in their private parts every time they went to the temple to play or to eat ‘prasad’ over the past week. He would threaten them and also offer money and food to buy their silence.

Family members and villagers surrounded the temple, dragged out the priest – a well-known figure in the area – and beat him up before going to the police. The children were taken to AIIMs where a medical test confirmed rape.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1258046.aspx

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Opinions and Editorials

A Latter-day Fascism? – By Radhika Desai (Aug 30, 2014, EPW)

History never repeats itself exactly. So, though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – a creation of India’s own fascist movement, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – won a majority in the 2014 elections, though its leader is more an RSS product than any other leader hitherto, and though he was backed by the capitalist class with a unity and enthusiasm unprecedented in history, it would be inaccurate to say that a fascist government has taken office in New Delhi. It is not that 2010s India is not 1930s Germany or 1920s Italy, nor that concepts can be stretched to meaninglessness. We just do not know as yet.

If, as Nicos Poulantzas pointed out, a fascist state is, like a Bonapartist one or a military dictatorship, an exceptional form of capitalist state, what distinguishes it from the other two is that it is able to supplement state power with its own autonomous political force – such as the fascist or Nazi movements or the RSS – in the service of bourgeois interests. Whether the Modi government crosses the bounds of constitutionality or the norms of bourgeois rule – which in India, with its everyday police brutality, judicial malfeasance and executive and legislative corruption, are admittedly rather wide in any case – to become an exceptional state, and whether it supplants or supplements state force with Sangh parivar goons, and does so in ways that assert their autonomy from its capitalist backers remains to be seen.

Events may (is one being too hopeful?) unfold in ways that sidestep these possibilities. That the new government contains these possibilities is not in doubt. Its character and path to power evince similarities to fascism strong enough that it would be a dereliction of intellectual duty not to consider them in trying to determine what it means and portends.

Not only is the BJP part of the cadre-based Hindu-supremacist Sangh parivar which also has a mass base; cults of personality and “decisionism” surround Modi. RSS cadres have campaigned for Modi on a scale and with zeal they never showed any other BJP leader.4 Moreover, as Ian Kershaw reminds us, a fascist movement or party “can gain power only if the traditional elites prove incapable of controlling the mechanisms of rule, and if they are ultimately prepared to help engineer a fascist takeover and collaborate in fascist rule”.…

http://www.epw.in/system/files/pdf/2014_49/35/A_Latterday_Fascism.pdf

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Arrest And Prosecute Yogi Adityanath – By N.D.Pancholi (Aug 31, 2014, Countercurrents)

Citizens For Democracy strongly condemns the communal sensitive remarks made by Yogi Adityanath in a programme ‘Aap ki Adalat’ on ‘India TV’ on Saturday the 30th August, 2014. In that programme which is reported in various newspapers, he has publicly blamed the Muslim community for being responsible for instigating the riots. He has publicly declared that where there are more than 35 percent Muslims, there is no place for non-Muslims. He has publicly justified his provocative speeches in the past in which he said that if ‘a Hindu is killed, 10 Muslims will be killed in retaliation’.

He has publicly said that if he has a ‘mala’ (rosary) in one hand, he also carries a ‘bhala’ (javelin) in the other and that as a ‘Sanyasi’ he has no qualm in punishing the evil elements. He has publically charged that ‘love jihad’ is a part of the strategy to turn India into a Muslim country. He has publically said, casting aspersions on the loyalty and integrity of the Muslim community as well as giving a veiled threat to it, “if you want to live here, you will have to respect Indian culture and traditions. You cannot have your body here but mind in Pakistan.”

All the aforesaid statements made by Yogi Adityanath are criminal offences amounting to generate hatred and enmity against the Muslim community. He is straight away liable to be prosecuted under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code which provides punishment of imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or with fine or with both to anyone who by words, either spoken or written promotes or attempts to promote , on grounds of religion, race or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or caste or communities, and who commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different communities and which disturbs and is likely to disturb the public tranquility. …

It is obvious that Yogi Adityanath is trying to polarize communities for electoral gains in view of the forthcoming elections in UP to serve narrow political interest for his party that is BJP. Citizens For democracy hopes that Shri Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister, will rise above the narrow sectarian political interests, and will prove true to the oath he has taken to uphold the values and principles of the Indian Constitution; and therefore appeals to him to take immediate action against Yogi Adityanath by arresting and prosecuting him as per law in the interest of maintenance of peace and communal harmony in the country.

http://www.countercurrents.org/pancholi310814.htm

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Ruined by riots, Muzaffarnagar holds warning to India – Editorial (Aug 28, 2014, Hindustan Times)

If anyone wants to document the slow death of a bustling town thanks to sectarian politics, she should pay a visit to Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. The once industrial capital of western UP, located only 128 kilometres from Delhi, is today a pale shadow of itself following the 2013 August-September communal strife in the area. The social fabric of the town is in tatters with Hindus and Muslims marking out their own territories, areas that are no-go zones for the ‘other’ community.

Business is down with out-of-town Muslim labourers refusing to come back to the riot-hit town, women are afraid to go out and school/college-going girls have to be chaperoned every time they go out of their homes. There are also reports that Muslims are selling their property under duress and fleeing to safer areas and there are still thousands of riot victims who are yet to be compensated. The atmosphere is tense and stifling and any spark, however small, is enough to set off another inferno. …

There are several reasons for such unending rounds of conflagrations but if one has to single out the main ones, it would be the weak State response to the riots and to those who have been affected by it and lack of closure of pending cases, which is being perceived, correctly so, as a denial of justice. In other words, in one year’s time, nothing has changed, only the wounds have been allowed to fester. This uneasiness and fear can spread to other parts of the country as well, leading to riots. To say that UP — and possibly India — is on its way to becoming a communal tinderbox would not be wide of the mark.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1257627.aspx

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Offensive oxymoron – Editorial (Aug 27, 2014, DNA India)

Love jihad. That particularly offensive oxymoron that seeks to put a communal stamp on not just Hindu girl-Muslim boy relationships but also individual acts of crime is the ominous buzzword of these polarised times. Not merely an ugly combination of words but a calibrated move to further deepen rifts that has been given a fillip by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders fanning the flames of distrust in volatile Uttar Pradesh.

The term, coined by Hindu groups for what they allege are cases of Muslim boys trapping Hindu girls and forcing them to convert, entered India’s communal lexicon several years ago. But it is back — and with more aggression than before, sending ripples of unrest across the state and beyond. …

Can any society be divided such, excluding women of all communities except for one? As more than one concerned citizen has pointed out, treating incidents of individual crimes as crimes of a community will have disastrous consequences. Criminals belong to every community. The trauma of rape cannot be divided along lines of religion.

Truisms all. Obvious societal facts that need not be stated. But we have to. Because this talk comes not just from a radical fringe but from members of the country’s ruling party, including someone like Bajpayi who represents the party in India’s largest state. The onus is on the government to ensure that responsible behaviour not hate campaigns are the hallmark of its rule.

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/editorial-dnaedit-offensive-oxymoron-2013893

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Hindi, Hindu whatever: Please give us a respite from this frivolous debate – By Akshaya Mishra (Aug 31, 2014, First Post)

‘Hindi’, ‘Hindu’, ‘Indu’ whatever – does this country need a debate like this in the first place? What’s wrong with ‘India’ or the good old ‘Bharat’? If at all we are so desperate to calling ourselves something different, why not make it, say, ‘Abracadabra’. Admitted, it’s a bit odd, but trust our intellectuals to come up with creative prose, circuitous logic and malicious reading of history to justify such a name. They never give up, even if they appear a tad foolish. Who knows after repeated mention in unending media debates we may even begin liking the name.

Come on guys, let’s grow up. We certainly have better things to do than work ourselves up over a name. That we allow such a debate to be foisted upon us shows us in poor light. We live in dumbed down times alright but do we need to get sucked into every dumb discussion that happens around us? Our complex past throws up enough confusing information to trigger a thousand arguments, conflicts and ideological skirmishes. There will be groups ready to make capital – political or otherwise – of every note of dissonance in the narrative of our history. It does not make sense for us to dignify each conflict by a reaction. They keep laying traps for us and we never fail to walk into those. Can we say ‘stop this nonsense’? …

Bringing the word ‘Hindu’ to the name of India serves the ideological concept of continuity of the Hindu civilization across centuries. This is something close to the revisionist vision of the right wing groups. It is possible their next move would be to blank out the 65-odd years after Independence, calling it an aberration in the continuity theme. If right wing historians have their way they might call this period the Dark Age, the only bright spot being the six-year rule of the NDA government. Maybe we are stretching the point too far here, but the point is the majoritarian agenda often works out in this fashion. And the traits are visible already after the BJP-RSS victory in the general elections. If anybody has cared to notice, over the last three months the activities of the Hindutva groups have been attracting more attention than those of the government in power. This is just the beginning.

Coming back to the original point, the name of the country is not an unsettled existential question for the country. In any case, changing it amounts to nothing more than ideological point-scoring. The 21st century India should be discussing issues more serious and contemporary in nature. Narendra Modi came to power promising fresh thinking and new ideas for the future. He should not allow the frivolous agenda of others to cloud his vision. While he is at it the countrymen can manage without being called Hindus. Abracadabra would be as fine with them.

http://www.firstpost.com/india/hindi-hindu-whatever-please-give-us-a-respite-from-this-frivolous-debate-1689561.html

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The experiment succeeds – Editorial (Aug 26, 2014, The Hindu)

The latest round of by-elections to Assembly seats will be remembered for the success of a political experiment in Bihar involving the coming together of three parties against the Bharatiya Janata Party. The results significantly moderate the idea that the BJP is at an electorally invulnerable point in its history. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (United) and the Congress have together won six of the 10 seats that saw by-polls. The BJP with its allies had swept Bihar in the recent Lok Sabha election, bagging 31 of the 40 seats. It is not in itself a surprise that parties gain from tactical tie-ups that give them the arithmetical heft that their individual stature may not fetch.

However, the three parties seemed to have done some strategic thinking in bringing together their combined vote base drawn from among Yadavs, other backward classes, Dalits and Muslims and successfully presented a ‘grand secular alliance’. It has given room for these parties to claim it as a victory over ‘divisive forces’. The takeaway from the combine’s performance is that doubts whether it would work on the ground have been dispelled. These doubts arose because of the long history of political rivalry between JD(U) leader and former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad.

The BJP’s State leadership has accepted responsibility for winning only four seats, lest it be seen as a reflection on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s performance at the Centre. At the same time, it cannot be denied that the BJP had beaten alliance arithmetic in the four seats it has won. The results indicate how the battle lines will be drawn when Assembly elections are held in Bihar in 2015. …

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-the-experiment-succeeds/article6350847.ece

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Book Review

Taking Sides: Reservation Quotas and Minority Rights in India

Author: Rudolph C Heredia
Reviewed by: Ram Puniyani
Available at: Penguin Books India, 7th Floor, Infinity Tower – C, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon 122002, Haryana, 2012; pp 383, Rs 499. http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Affirmative Action, Reservation or Appeasement (Aug 30, 2014, EPW)

The political scenario in India is heavily dominated by quota and reservation politics. The implementation of the Mandal Commission report by V P Singh in 1990 totally changed the political scenario and continues to affect it. Reservation for women in panchayats sailed through but reservation in Parliament is mired in innumerable problems. Based on the findings of the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission there have been demands for reservation for Muslim minorities in some states, but the proposal has met with such hostile opposition that it is practically impossible that such a step can be contemplated for implementation. Besides, with the change of regime in May 2014 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government coming to power at the centre, such issues will be relegated to the past. It is against this background that this path breaking book written with deep insights into the Indian social reality and the unevenness in all sections of society needs to be given serious consideration and debated in different social and academic forums.

Rudolf Heredia, whose previous intervention, Changing Gods engaged with the issue of conversions which have been the bone of contention and the axis around which the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) constructed its politics for decades was again deeply rooted in Indian reality. It demonstrated the genesis of the issue and the need to understand “why conversion” rather than raising temperatures on this phenomenon. In Taking Sides Heredia takes pains to go into the lack of proper process of secularisation-democratisation which led to the present morass where multiple sectors of society suffer from the disadvantages due to their caste, religion or gender. His premise is very humane, for him the central concern is justice, “A ‘just society’ involves our understanding of justice as much as it does our understanding of society” (p x). Justice must be done and seen to be done and not just debated. There is a need for practical action beyond the debating rooms. This again requires the consent of the governed for different actions leading towards justice in society. The limits of our actions in this direction are guided by consensus and legitimacy and how far they can be stretched. This book sets out to explore those outside limits of action.

The author points out that the notion of justice which revolves around a majoritarian understanding articulated in the public sphere and the society is unjust. This is what leads the author to the central concern of his contribution, “an inclusively just society”. That is, the striving towards equality and freedom of the individual: groups are the foundations and the justice mechanism has to be structurally incorporated into the system. He points out that despite more than six decades of independence we continue to be ambiguous about the socially excluded and our vulnerable minorities continue to exist in deprivation. The author makes a crucial point that these structural inequalities show us the unfinished business of our freedom struggle and so the effort of the magnitude of the “second freedom struggle” is needed to overcome these inequalities. …

The book engages with the diverse dimension of the issues involved and the need to overcome them through affirmative action, reservation or positive discrimination. Its strength lies in its treatment of a comprehensive relationship between different inequalities and exclusions. It is a valuable intervention in the ongoing debate of reservations for religious minorities, disadvantaged castes and women.

http://www.epw.in/book-reviews/affirmative-action-reservation-or-appeasement.html

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 28th, 2014

by newsdigest on July 30, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Hadapsar sees Hindu-Muslim unity (Jul 21, 2014, DNA India)

In the backdrop of the recent communal clashes in Hadapsar, the Hindus and Muslims in a major interfaith initiative have come up with the idea of protecting each other’s places of worship. The Hindus of the area have taken the responsibility to protect the Muslim mosques and shrines while the Muslims have taken the responsibility of protecting the temples.

To overcome the issue, the police along with the local residences and community had together formed a peace committee which later was bifurcated into “Almagira Masjid defence committee” and Ram-Hanuman Temple Defence committee ” with the sole objective to spread the message of peace and harmony. Now, both the communities have taken the onus of protecting each other’s places of worship and vowed to protect them till the last breath of their lives.

Real estate Amit Dhabhade (31), a resident of Handewadi said, “It’s a good initiative and I do not understand why there is always a discrimination between two communities and why religious places are targeted. God is one and his place of residence is a temple, mosque, church or any other religious place. On Fridays, we along with police patrol around the mosques in the area and also keep a vigil on the anti-social elements, traffic jams and honking,” he said adding that it was his duty to protect Muslim mosques with he being a true Hindu.

Ejaz Pathan (30), a resident of Sayeed Nagar and a businessman said that the misunderstanding has been caused due to vested interests. “As muslims it is our farz to protect our Hindu neighbours and protect their temples in Muslim dominated areas. We have taken an oath to protect the life and property of our Hindu brothers and ensure that divisive forces are booted out of the society,” he said.

A month of chaos and misunderstanding between the two communities had let to panic atmosphere in Hadapsar after defamatory SMSes related to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray were circulated on social networking sites and social messengers. …

http://www.dnaindia.com/pune/report-hadapsar-sees-hindu-muslim-unity-2004040

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United Nations body recalls Gujarat riots, insists on enacting “dropped” communal violence bill (Jul 22, 2014, Counterview.net)

At a time when the Narendra Modi government is all set to consider dropping it, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has asked the Government of India (GoI) to “promptly enact the draft Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill” as an important step to prevent violence against women. It notes “continued marginalization and poverty of women and girls survivors of the Gujarat riots living in the relief colonies and their precarious living conditions with limited access to education, health care, employment and security.”

This law is also needed, CEDAW indicates, because there has been a “significant number of displaced women and girl, particularly in the North-Eastern region”, resulting from “sporadic communal violence”. In this context, it expressed deep concern about “the reported high level of violence against women in conflict-affected regions” in Kashmir, the North East, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Pointing towards state complicity in all this, SEDAW wants the Government f India (GoI) to “amend and/or repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act”.

This, CEDAW suggests, is necessary to end “sexual violence against women perpetrated by members of the armed forces or uniformed personnel”, who, it insists, should be “brought under the purview of ordinary criminal law.” Asking GoI to “remove the requirement for government permission to prosecute members of the armed forces or uniformed personnel accused of crimes of violence against women”, CEDAW says, the Protection of Human Rights Act be also changed by conferring powers to the National Human Rights Commission to investigate cases against armed forces personnel.…

http://www.counterview.net/2014/07/united-nations-body-recalls-gujarat.html

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Sena MP ‘force-feeds’ fasting Muslim staffer at Maharashtra Sadan (Jul 23, 2014, Rediff)

A shocking incident of misuse of power has come to light in national capital New Delhi where 11 Shiv Sena Members of Parliament are reported to have forced a Muslim worker to break his Ramzan fast and eat a chapati, at the Maharashtra Sadan. The MPs were apparently dissatisfied by the fact that they had not been served Maharashtrian food.

An Indian Express report identified the 11 Shiv Sena MPs as Sanjay Raut (Rajya Sabha), Anandrao Adsul (Amravati), Rajan Vichare (Thane), Arvind Sawant (Mumbai-South), Hemant Godse (Nashik), Krupal Tumane (Ramtek), Ravindra Gaikwad (Osmanabad), Vinayak Raut (Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg), Shivaji Adhalrao Patil (Shirur), Rahul Shewale (Mumbai-South Central) and Shrikant Shinde (Kalyan).

Soon after the incident, Shankar Malhotra, deputy general manager of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism, which handles subsidiary catering for Maharashtra Sadan, shot off a letter to Maharashtra resident commissioner Bipin Mallick.

In the letter, Malhotra wrote, “All the guests along with media reporters and staffs of Maharashtra Sadan got into kitchen where I was getting the orders prepared. They caught me and put the chapati into my mouth. I was wearing a formal uniform set as prescribed by IRCTC and everybody in the panel also knew my name as ‘Arshad’ as I was wearing the name tag. Even then they inserted chapati in my mouth which caused my fast to break on the eve of Ramzan. I was hurt with the thing they have done as religious sentiments are concerned.”

http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-sena-11-mp-force-feed-fasting-muslim-staffer-maharashtra-sadan/20140723.htm

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Sangh sets up panel to push ‘saffronisation’ of education (Jul 27, 2014, Business Standard)

Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, an organisation affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has set up Bharatiya Shiksha Niti Aayog (Indian Education Policy Commission), the first commission of its kind in the non-governmental sector, to study “the present education system and suggest corrective steps to make it Bharat-centric”. Likely to be headed by Dinanath Batra – who shot to fame when he pulped American scholar Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism – this body is being seen as RSS’ effort to mount pressure on the Narendra Modi-led government to implement the Sangh agenda of “saffronisation” of education and to prevent the latter from diverting from its core ideals.

Though the commission was formed a few months ahead of the swearing-in of the Modi government on May 26 – Sangh mouthpiece Organiser informs the ‘bhoomi pujan’ of the office was done in Delhi on April 13 – RSS gave its go-ahead for the panel at a recent Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal meeting in Madhya Pradesh.

According to Sangh insiders, education is a key area in the RSS’ scheme of things and could emerge as a point of conflict in future with the government. Given Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani’s lack of understanding of the Sangh Parivar’s functioning, RSS is adopting a wait-and-watch policy. Irani, meanwhile, has managed to establish a good rapport with some senior RSS leaders, but a section of the organisation still has reservations about her credentials to occupy the important HRD portfolio.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/sangh-sets-up-panel-to-push-saffronisation-of-education-114072601164_1.html

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Rape the activist: RSS man posts on facebook (Jul 29, 2014, Deccan Chronicle)

Several police complaints were lodged against V.R. Bhat, a prominent member of the right wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on Monday for posting a derogatory remark against a woman activist on Facebook. The post by Mr Bhat read that the activists like her should be raped by rapists. Such activists should be held by their hair and sexually assaulted to correct their approach towards Hinduism.

It was his apparent reply to Ms Prabha N. Belamangala’s post that a great deal of contributions are made by the lower strata of people towards development of a nation, but the upper strata of certain religious sects take the credit. Ms Belamangala (43) is a social activist and state secretary of Janavignana Samiti, an NGO. After Mr Bhat’s incendiary post, she lodged a complaint with the Chandra Layout police under whose jurisdiction she resides.

Mr Bhat’s post created has a furore on the social media network, and other activists lodged complaints against Mr Bhat at different police stations in different parts of the state. In Nelamangala, the state president of Karnataka Dalita Sangatanegala Okkutta, B.R. Bhaskhar Prasad, filed a police complaint against Mr Bhat. He has suggested that Mr Bhat should be booked under Goonda Act. “We will not stop with this, there are two more police complaints that will be lodged on Tuesday from Mandya and H assan,” Mr Bhaskhar Prasad told Deccan Chronicle.

Immediately after the complaints were registered, Mr Bhat deleted the post. But the complainants had taken the screen shots of his message and decided to pursue the case legally. Mr Bhat also called the activists and apologised to them. Mr Bhat is also a columnist for vernacular newspapers, and has been slapped with Section 66A of the IT Act.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/140729/nation-crime/article/rape-activist-rss-man-facebook

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UP: 3 dead, several injured in Saharanpur clashes; shoot-at-sight orders against rioters (Jul 26, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Communal violence left Uttar Pradesh bloodied again with three killed and several injured in a clash between Sikhs and Muslims in Saharanpur on Saturday. Curfew was clamped and shoot-at-sight orders given against rioters. The two groups fought pitched battles and burnt several vehicles, as home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav who assured him that the situation would be contained soon.

The communities, who clashed over construction on a disputed plot, fought with firearms, swords and stones and torched shops and vehicles. One of the deceased, Sanjeev Kochar, died of bullet injuries. The second victim was identified only as Arif while there was no confirmation of the third’s identity. A constable and a home guard sustained serious injuries as the police stepped in to control the rampage. They are both in critical condition.

The situation continued to be tense till late Saturday, as heavy security was deployed by the state government, officials said. Over a dozen policemen were also injured in the violence. Curfew continues in a few areas under six police stations. Police have arrested over a dozen people for inciting violence over a land dispute and sources in the home department said the tense situation was now under control.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1244777.aspx

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Breach of pact sparked Moradabad riots (Jul 28, 2014, The Hindu)

Tension in Nayagaon Akbarpur village in Kanth town of Moradabad, which sparked communal tension in the area erupted as an agreement reached between the Muslims and Dalits earlier this month was breached.

Just a day before the controversial July 4 “Mahapanchayat”, called by the BJP in protest against the removal of the loudspeaker, at the temple in Nayagaon Akbarpur village, all stake holders, including Moradabad MP Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar Singh, Sambhal MP Satyapal Saini and local BJP leaders, had a meeting with Kanth MLA Anisurrahman at his residence. All the leaders and other participants in the meeting reached an agreement according to which the loudspeaker was to be put up on the Shiva temple after Eid, August 3.

However, the agreement was allegedly breached the very next day by BJP supporters and the Moradabad MP, who started protesting on the issue on July 4. The most important condition of the agreement was that after the meeting, the “Mahapanchayat” will not be organised, a condition to which all the BJP leaders present in the meeting had agreed. However, later the BJP supporters allegedly rejected the agreement.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/breach-of-pact-sparked-moradabad-riots/article6255558.ece

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Justice remains elusive dream for the victims of 2012 BTAD violence even after two years (Jul 21, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Two years is a pretty long period for anything to change. But for a section of ill-fated people in Assam, it’s all the same as their pain continues to haunt them, in fact, in a more painful way. The bloody violence which broke out in Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) on July 20 in 2012 witnessed around 100 deaths and several lakhs were displaced but the victims did not get the justice.

Ainuddin Sheikh is still inconsolable when somebody reminds him of that fateful day. The day when he lost his father Bashir Sheikh exactly two years ago in Assam’s troubled torn BTAD. “Sometimes I do not feel like living anymore. Time and again we are facing atrocities and there is no justice. There is no value of live for the people like us. I got Rs 50 thousand as compensation but my father is gone forever without his fault. We can only get peace if the culprits are punished,” said a dejected Ainuddin of Heikipara of Kokrajhar district.

The incident was criticized from different parts of the globe. The state government was slammed for its failure to control law and order situation but it remained all the same. The culprits are roaming free whereas the victims are still living shedding tears in the memory of their dear ones.…

http://twocircles.net/2014jul21/justice_remains_elusive_dream_victims_2012_btad_violence_even_after_two_years.html

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Skewed representation of Muslims in police behind trust deficit: Islam (Jul 22, 2014, Indian Express)

For a state that has nearly 30 per cent minority population, West Bengal does not have enough representation of Muslims in the police forces leading to a trust deficit between the community and the administration, a retired IPS officer has said.

Nazrul Islam, a former IPS officer of West Bengal cadre, said he shares the same perception that a report by three DGPs – Sanjeev Dayal of Maharashtra, Deoraj Nagar of Uttar Pradesh and K Ramanujam of Tamil Nadu – has thrown.

“At present, Bengal has 30 per cent minority population, which is pretty high in terms of the all India scenario and in terms of other states. However, we do not see any reflection of this population ratio in the police force of the state. Starting from the rank of constables to the IPS cadre, there are handful of people in the force who belong to the Muslim community,” Islam who retired as an ADG said.

Islam, quoting some in-depth studies over crime patterns, and analysed that “around 45 per cent criminals who are lodged in jails in Bengal are Muslims”. “In Murshidabad, Muslim population is 63.7 per cent. But, crime records bureau states that 90 per cent of the criminals lodged in Murshidabad jail are Muslims. This is a big divide,” he said.

The retired IPS said that there is a “common perception (in the police force)” that a “Muslim courier of Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) from a small village is essentially a member of a terrorist organization”. “This outlook of the police force needs to be changed. At times, uneducated and poor Muslims are targeted by crime syndicates,” he said, adding Bengal has never had a Muslim home minister.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/skewed-representation-of-muslims-in-police-behind-trust-deficit-islam/99/

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Naxals blow up rail tracks, Rajdhani pilot engine derails (Jul 24, 2014, Indian Express)

Maoists blasted a portion of a railway track between Ismailpur and Rafiganj section in Bihar, leading to the derailment of a pilot engine running ahead of the Bhubaneshwar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express. No casualty was reported in the blast that took place late on Tuesday night, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Magadh range, P K Shrivastava told PTI.

In Patna, Chief Public Relations Officer, East Central Railway, Arvind Kumar Rajak said the advance pilot engine running ahead of Bhubaneshwar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express jumped off the track due to the incident. Nearly one dozen mail and Express trains including three Rajdhani Express trains have been stranded at various places between Gaya and Mughalsarai due to the incident, Rajak said.

The blast was trigerred during a one-day bandh call called by the Maoists against police firing in Aurangabad and Rohtas districts. The CPRO said that nearly three metre of the track has been damaged in the blast. Electric wire overhead has also been damaged, he said.

The DIG said that the blast appears to be a powerful one creating a four-feet deep crater. Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Bhubaneshwar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Sealdah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Jodhpur-Howrah Express and Doon Express were among the major trains stranded at various places.

The blast took place at Lahat village under Rafiganj police station of Aurangabad district at around 11:30 PM last night. Gaya Additional Superintendent of Police Ashok Kumar Singh, who rushed to the spot after the incident, said the explosion took place during the one-day bandh call given by the Naxals against police firing in Aurangabad and Rohtas districts recently.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/maoists-explode-rail-track-pilot-engine-of-rajdhani-derails/

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Mumbai model accuses senior cop of rape (Jul 25, 2014, Times of India)

A police first information report has been filed against a senior IPS officer in the city for repeated rape by a man in uniform, molestation and stalking under the new tougher anti-rape laws after a complaint by a small-time model. If convicted, he could face life imprisonment.

The complaint against DIG Sunil Paraskar, 57, was made to city police commissioner Rakesh Maria, who handed it to the women’s cell of the crime branch, which registered the FIR in secrecy at Malwani police station, under whose jurisdiction the crime allegedly took place. The model has accused the officer of coercing her into a physical relationship during investigation into a case and raping her on several occasions in a hotel in Madh between December 2013 and January 2014.

Paraskar, a 1987 batch officer who is to retire in two years, is now posted as deputy inspector general at the Protection of Civil Rights Unit in the state police HQ in Colaba. At the time of the case, he was additional commissioner of police (north) after being inducted into the IPS cadre in 2010. “Irrespective of the officer’s seniority, we will go with the merits of the case,” Maria told TOI. Despite repeated attempts, Paraskar could not be reached for his comments. …

Besides stalking and outraging modesty, Paraskar has been charged under section 376 (2) (c) of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. It says if a police officer commits rape, it will be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for not less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which will mean imprisonment for the remainder of the person’s natural life.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/38982559.cms

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Opinions and Editorials

Creed of violence – Editorial (Jul 24, 2014, DNA India)

Any defence of, or silence on, the actions of Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare who force-fed a catering manager, a Muslim undertaking the Ramzan fast, despite the latter’s protestations, and of the ten other Shiv Sena MPs who allegedly vandalised the New Maharashtra Sadan in protest against not being served Maharashtrian food is untenable. Arshad Zubair, in his complaint to his employer, IRCTC, has categorically stated that the MPs knew his religious persuasion and would have seen the nameplate on his shirt. Leaked video footage of the attack also shows the young man pleading with Vichare to desist from stuffing the food into his mouth.

The government’s silence for hours after reports surfaced of this unacceptable act of MPs, who owe it their allegiance, is unfortunate. Even political compulsions offer no justification for such reluctance to condemn this ghastly act. But none of this should deter Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan from adopting a tough line and safeguard Parliament’s prestige. Their suspension from Parliament is the sine qua non before any credible inquiry can be undertaken by a parliamentary panel or the police.

Instead of an outright apology, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray appears to be defending his MPs by saying there was no intention to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. Vichare’s actions, seen in the context of the Shiv Sena cadre’s long history of lumpen behaviour, would hardly surprise anyone. By not offering an unconditional, unqualified apology, the Sena has yet again betrayed its inability to function as a responsible party.

For a party, aiming to return to power in Maharashtra after 15 years in the wilderness, the MPs actions might resonate with its militant core but could scare away ordinary law-abiding citizens. The Shiv Sena would do well to realise that the accumulated anti-incumbency against the three-term Congress-NCP government, rather than popular affinity towards its twin-espousal of Maharashtrian sub-nationalism and Hindutva, is facilitating its comeback. …

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has issued diktats on the code of conduct to be followed by his MPs but has maintained a studied silence on several troubling developments in the past two months having socio-political implications. His proactive stance on economic policy issues is welcome; but by not lending the stature of his office to comment on the burning social issues of the day, the signal it sends out is a State that cannot be bothered by the fates of those vulnerable and in need of its support. Fifteen of the 18 Shiv Sena MPs in the Lok Sabha have criminal cases against their names and eight of them are accused of serious offences. Without political parties taking a stand against criminalisation, Parliament and India will continue to be shamed by such incidents.

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/editorial-dnaedit-creed-of-violence-2004754

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Hindutva politics in Moradabad: Here’s how a local dispute turned communal – By Ajaz Ashraf (Jul 29, 2014, First Post)

West Uttar Pradesh is fast emerging as the new laboratory of Hindutva politics, where are being tested techniques of electoral mobilisation for their relative efficacy. These techniques entail undermining the traditional mechanism for resolving disputes, imparting national undertones to a contentious local issue, and harnessing religious identity to challenge numerical domination and paper over caste/class contradictions.

These overlapping themes underlie the decision to abort the agreement that the Muslims and Dalits of Nayagaon Akbarpur village of Kanth town, Moradabad, had hammered through negotiations. Communal tension had been sparked off in Nayagaon Akbarpur, which gradually spread to Kanth town and beyond, over whether or not the Dalits could use the loudspeaker installed at the Shiv temple in the village.

The Muslims argued the temple did not have the tradition of using the loudspeaker other than during the Mahashivratri festival. They claim this tradition was flouted when the Dalits installed a loudspeaker at the Shiv temple on 16 June to felicitate Kunwar Servesh Kumar, who had won on the BJP ticket from Moradabad.

However, the loudspeaker wasn’t removed at the end of felicitation ceremony. On 25 June, a meeting was convened at the Kanth town residence of MN Jabar Singh, a Jatav leader who had twice served as pradhan of Rustampur-Sherpur village. Both Singh and local police authorities tried to persuade the Dalits of Nayagaon Akbarpur village to voluntarily take down the loudspeaker, promising they would have it installed at a later date. …

In other words, Kanth has provided the BJP an opportunity to magnify a local dispute to craft a narrative of the monolith Hindu community arrayed against the unreasonable Muslim community. Truly, in India, the apparent is rarely ever the complete story.

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/hindutva-politics-in-moradabad-heres-how-a-local-dispute-turned-communal-1638497.html

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The Brains Behind Modi Sarkar – By Brijesh Singh (Aug 2, 2014, Tehelka)

What do Ajit Doval, Nripendra Misra and PK Misra have in common? Of course, they are top bureaucrats whom Narendra Modi handpicked to run his team. There is another common factor. They all hail from New Delhi-based think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF). Former IB director Ajit Doval was steering the ship at VIF as founder-director before he was appointed as Modi’s National Security Adviser. He was advising Modi even before the government was formed. In fact, it was Doval who came up with the idea of inviting South Asian leaders to Modi’s oath-taking ceremony.…

Rumour has it that the plan to corner the Congress was allegedly drafted by VIF at the behest of the BJP and the RSS. On one hand, Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev were raking up the corruption issue and protesting against the government. On the other hand, the BJP was adding fuel to fire. This is why senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh kept referring to the anti-corruption movement as an RSS conspiracy. But as the movement reached its peak and the UPA government came up with absurd steps to tackle the situation, nobody paid him any heed.

The VIF’s alleged links with the RSS has come in handy for Modi’s critics. Sangh leaders regularly visit the VIF, while RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and BJP leader LK Advani actively engage with it. Recently, Bhagwat was at the VIF to release former diplomat OP Gupta’s book Defining Hindutva. Since the VIF emerged out of the Vivekananda Kendra, critics believe it would be a mistake to consider the VIF separate from the RSS.

“VIF is an RSS project,” says a critic. “The first thing you notice when you enter the building is a photograph of Eknath Ranade. VIF is filled with right-wing officials. As they were marginalised intellectually, they created their own think-tank. It is a desperate attempt to get acknowledged in the intellectual world. If it is not so, then why does the RSS chief keep visiting the VIF?” …

As VIF basks in the newfound limelight, foreign dignitaries are making a beeline to the think-tank. … As more and more VIF members join the Narendra Modi sarkar, it is a no-brainer that the think-tank will play a key role in formulating the country’s foreign, economic and security policies.

http://www.tehelka.com/vivekananda-international-foundation-the-brains-behind-modi-sarkar/

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Gadkari Bugging Scandal: Is “Saheb” Listening? – By Shehzad Poonawalla (Jul 29, 2014, Countercurrents)

There is certainly more than what meets the eye in the “bugging controversy” that has hit the Narendra Modi government recently. Broken first on Newsx and its sister publication The Sunday Guardian (co-incidentally a paper launched by BJP leader and former veteran journalist MJ Akbar where he continues to be involved) news reports claimed that senior minister Nitin Gadkari’s official residence in Delhi at 13 Teen Murti Lane was planted with high-powered listening devices, obviously in an attempt to eve’s drop on conversations that the heavyweight minister was having. While details remain sketchy, it has further emerged that a total of six devices were recovered, including one from the minister’s bedroom, in the de-bugging exercise that was done sometime ago.

While the Bharatiya Janta Party and the government remains tight-lipped on the issue, Nitin Gadkari’s denial of the reports being ‘highly speculative’ was hardly convincing leave alone categorical. The fact that the de-bugging exercise was reportedly carried out by a private firm and not the national intelligence agencies itself is quite a revealing statement on its own! Surely, the competence of agencies like the Intelligence Bureau in carrying out de-bugging exercises and their locus standi in ensuring that ministers of the central government aren’t subjected to such scandals that potentially compromise national security and national interest, cannot be understated!

Now informed, educated analysis seems to indicate that the devices used were of a foreign origin. Whether this element of ‘foreign intervention’ was restricted to providing technology and expertise or whether it was a full-fledged spying operation, sponsored by a foreign government to achieve their own objectives, remains to be answered. Just recently, disclosures by Edward Snowden revealed that the USA’s National Security Agency (NSA) had BJP on its spy-radar!…

Indeed, it is necessary that the Modi led government come clean on this entire issue. At the very least this could well be an assault on the sovereignty of India which a party that claims to have such high ‘nationalistic’ zeal can ill afford to be silent on. On the other hand, this could well be India’s ‘Watergate Scandal’ with a slight twist – where a Nixon equivalent, who is the executive head of what is India’s variant of the Republican party- the BJP was perhaps using illegal means to stifle political competition in his own ranks, in an attempt to vest absolute control in himself.

Not to imply, even for a moment that leaders of the opposition should take his benefaction for granted for too long! Only an independent enquiry, one that BJP seems to be avoiding like the plague at the moment, can reveal the timing, the antagonists and their motives behind , what is potentially, India’s biggest spy scandal! Till then, all we can hope for, is that ‘Saheb’ isn’t listening!

http://www.countercurrents.org/poonawalla290714.htm

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Ignorance, hypocrisy or biasness on Fatwas and ‘Shariat Court’? – By M Reyaz (Jul 8, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Figure this out, in a long pending petition, since 2005, the petitioner Vishwa Lochan Madan pleads in the Apex Court that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is striving to establish a ‘parallel judicial system in India,’ that makes it extremely difficult for Muslim women to get justice, he claims that Camps are being organised to train Qazis and Naib Qazis to administer justice according to Shariat; Dar-ul-Qazas, spread all over the country are functioning as parallel judicial system aimed to administer justice to Muslims in accordance with Shariat; and sought declaration that the Dar-ul-Qazas (Muslim Courts) and Shariat Court in India are “absolutely illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional”; and further that pronouncing fatwas has no place in Indian Constitution and hence, these should be banned and effective steps should be taken to disband these Dar-ul-Qazas and to direct the Muslim bodies to restrain from meddling in personal issues of individuals.

The two judge bench of Chandramauli Kr. Prasad and Pinaki Chandra Ghose ‘dispose off’ the petition “without any order,” and even noted, “The grievance of the petitioner that Dar-ul-Qazas and Nizam-e-Qaza are running a parallel judicial system is misconceived.” …

Increasingly it has been felt that they need training not only in Islamic jurisprudence, but also about modern day life, culture, society, politics etc, besides of course refresher course on handling of media. The countrywide establishment of Dar-ul-Qazas and training Qazis and Naib Qazis are thus a step in right direction, although as TCN had reported earlier , much needs to be done.

What is the need of the hour is much needed debate on codification of Muslim personal laws, the reference point for which should be progressive laws in other Muslim countries, and not some conservative and regressive system of governance. The codification of Muslim personal laws should not only take on board all the stake holders, but see to it that the concerns of women are particularly taken care of through constant consultations. It should also be mindful of secular traditions of the Indian Constitution.

In most Muslim countries and in erstwhile era of Muslim rule in India, the office of Qazis ‘Darul Qaza’ is institutionalized. It should be seen that fatwas are issued only by designated bodies and others should be discouraged to express their opinions publicly, or it should be well publicized that their opinions hold no value. As there are different schools and sects, a proper mechanism should be put in place by brining consensus.

http://twocircles.net/2014jul08/ignorance_hypocrisy_or_biasness_fatwas_and_%E2%80%98shariat_court%E2%80%99.html

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Shadow Lines – By Neha Dixit (Jul 25, 2014, Outlook)

“Why were we raped if a boy eve-teased a girl? Did the whole nation go about raping the women of the community of Nirbhaya’s rapists to avenge what was done to her?” She is someone I’ll call S, not because she does not want the world to know her name, but because her identity has to be protected, for the consequences it might possibly have. S is one of the ‘Muzaffarnagar rape victims’, of the seven whose ordeal is the collective shame and guilt of our entire country.

Around the end of August 2013, word was that a Muslim boy in Kawal village had eve-teased a Jat girl, though the incident remains uncorroborated till date. Her brother and cousin, in an attempt to safeguard their sister’s ‘honour’, apparently killed him and were in turn allegedly lynched by an irate Muslim mob on the spot.

The men of both communities swore revenge. A congregation of Muslims did so after Friday prayers in Muzaffar¬nagar town; thousands of Hindu farmers gathered in Nanglamandor village some 15 to 20 km away on September 7, 2013, to ensure the avowed objective of ‘beti bachao, bahu banao (save your daughters, make theirs (Muslims’) your daughters-in-law’. Several khap panchayats in the vicinity issued this call, with help from local BJP leaders, including MLA Suresh Rana, the recen¬tly-elected Hukum Singh, besides Sangeet Som and Sadhvi Prachi. The panchayat also declared a war against ‘love jehad’, perceived by the Hindu right-wing as an organised attempt by Muslims to “make Hindu girls fall in love with Muslim boys and marry them”. …

What is refusing to be stifled, however, is the voice of courage these seven women have displayed, whose bitterness, rage and agony are tempered by the stronger determination to bring the perpetrators to book, and move on. Read these voices also as a challenge to the selective outrage of a nation that bleeds for a while when one Nirbhaya is raped but chooses not to say a word when countless other Nirbhayas are subjected to such ignominy in their daily lives.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Shadow-Lines/291494

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