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Hindutva Terror

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 25th, 2016

by newsdigest on May 11, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Announcements

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

Indian Americans express shock, disgust over horrific church attack in Chhattisgarh; demand justice for victims

Suspected Hindutva activists from Bajrang Dal doused pastor and his pregnant wife with petrol in an attempt to burn them alive

April 23, 2016

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has joined millions of Indians and people of conscience around the world, in strongly condemning the barbaric attack on a Christian pastor and his wife, in the state of Chhattisgarh in India. The incident took place last Sunday, April 17th, and reported in the media a few days thereafter.

Two attackers stormed into the church in Bastar district, set ablaze a Bible and other articles, before viciously assaulting the pastor and his pregnant wife. The couple managed to escape alive, after the men doused them in petrol in an attempt to burn them alive. News reports indicate the assailants were armed with a gun, rods and knives. Their brutal assault on Pastor Dinbandhu Sameli, his 7-month pregnant wife and daughter Roushni Vidya, represents an escalation of attacks on minorities in India since the government of Mr. Narendra Modi came to power.

Instead of filing charges of attempted murder, causing grievous injury, etc, the police havefiled lesser charges such as house trespass, dacoity, committing mischief by fire and injuring or defiling a place of worship.

Mr. Arun Pannalal, the President of Chhattisgarh’s Christian Forum stated in a quote appearing in the media, “Around 15-20 men with saffron bands on their forehead entered the church while Sunday prayer was under way at around 12 pm, and started vandalising the premises and started breaking everything,” Pannalal said and claimed that the “Bajrang Dal youth indulged in sloganeering and were raising Jai Shree Ram slogans. They started damaging chairs and fans. They did not spare women and even tore up their clothes. They also thrashed an infant,” he said.

Mr. Pannalal further referred to the perpetrators of the murderous assault as members of the Bajrang Dal, a radical Hindu supremacist organization affiliated to the RSS.The RSS is the fountainhead of Hindutva and the ideological reference point for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Mr. Narendra Modi. The increasing attacks on minorities and lower castes in recent years are consistent with the extremism and intolerance Mr. Modi and his party have espoused. Mr. Modi himself has been a lifelong worker of the RSS.

“The hate and venom spewed by the RSS and its affiliates and echoed by prominent members of Mr. Modi’s administration are directly responsible for this barbaric attack on Pastor Sameli and his family, ” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of Indian American Muslim Council. “Those who felicitate Mr. Modi during his foreign jaunts, should seriously consider the implications of what they are tacitly endorsing,” added Mr. Malick.

The attack in Chhattisgarh is part of a pattern of violence and hateful rhetoric against minorities in India. There have been scores of attacks on Christians and Muslims since India gained independence. However, the violence has gained in intensity, and the discourse become more vitriolic since the political ascendancy of the Hindu nationalist movement in the late-1980s. The situation has become even more dire with Mr. Modi’s victory in the 2014 general elections on promises of economic development that have been largely unfulfilled.

Leading global human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have expressed grave concern over the worsening situation of religious minorities in India. Prime Minister Modi’s government, “failed to address increasing attacks on free expression and against religious minorities,” Human Rights Watch stated in its recent 659-page World Report.

“We demand not only that the perpetrators be held accountable, but also those who are engaging in a cover-up of the gruesome episode, and those that are enabling the sectarian hate that leads to such crimes,” Mr. Khalid Ansari, Vice-President of IAMC.

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

CONTACT:
Indian American Muslim Council
Phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
Email: info@iamc.com
Facebook: Indian American Muslim Council
Twitter: @IAMCouncil
Address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.

REFERENCES:

1. Chhattisgarh: Church attacked in Bastar, pastor and pregnant wife barely escape
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-church-attacked-in-bastar-pastor-and-pregnant-wife-barely-escape-2203684

2. Youths vandalize Church, thrash worshippers in Chhattisgarh
http://www.news18.com/news/india/youths-vandalise-church-thrash-worshippers-in-chhattisgarh-1212813.html

3. Why it is no longer safe to be Christian in Chhattisgarh
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/indias-refusal-admit-us-religious-freedom-watchdog-seen-attempt-hide

4. Indian government failed to address attacks on minorities: Human Rights groups
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-01-27/news/70120366_1_meenakshi-ganguly-human-rights-watch-rights-groups

5. Revoke NSA charges against right-wing leader: Home Ministry reportedly issues diktat to UP govt
http://www.firstpost.com/india/mha-reportedly-asked-up-to-revoke-nsa-charges-against-right-wing-leader-accused-of-assaulting-muslim-man-2571114.html

6. Rohith Vemula’s death sparks outrage within Indian diaspora
http://twocircles.net/2016jan28/1453995780.html

7. 110 Journalists Killed In 2015, India Deadliest Asian Nation For Reporters: Study
http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/110-journalists-killed-in-2015-most-in-peaceful-countries-reporters-without-borders-1260240

CONTACT:
Indian American Muslim Council
Phone/Fax: 1-800-839-7270
Email: info@iamc.com
Facebook: Indian American Muslim Council
Twitter: @IAMCouncil
Address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.

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Hostile witnesses derailing trials in ‘saffron terror’ cases (Apr 21, 2016, Times of India)

What started with a bang as an extensive probe into alleged “Hindu terrorism” some years back is now fizzling out with crucial witnesses turning hostile. About 40 witnesses have turned hostile in the trials in the Ajmer Dargah blast of October 2007 and the Samjhauta Express blast of February 2007 alone. Many more plan to follow suit as part of a trend which began after the regime change at the Centre in 2014.…

Most of the 40 witnesses who have turned hostile in the Samjhauta and Ajmer cases have either claimed that “they were pressured to give their earlier statements” or “denied knowing the accused -Swami Aseemanand or others -whom they previously claimed to have met”. For example, Randhir Singh, now agriculture minister in Jharkhand, went back on his statement in which he had accepted being an acquaintance of Sunil Joshi, an alleged Hindutva hardliner who allegedly plotted acts of terrorism before he was killed under mysterious circumstances.

RSS worker Rohit Kumar Jha, who had “confessed” to having procured SIM cards for Sunil Joshi and another terror accused Devendra Gupta, has disowned his testimony which the NIA considered to be crucial. In 2015, Jha said in court that he could not have recorded a statement in English as he was not conversant with the language. The retractions don’t augur well for the prosecution as the material evidence in the cases against Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit and other accused was very ‘weak’, sources said.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51920735.cms

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Modi, Shah ordered staged shootout in Ishrat Jahan case: Congress (Apr 24, 2016, Business Standard)

The Congress on Sunday said the Gujarat Police killed Ishrat Jahan in a staged shootout in 2004 on the orders of the then chief minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader Amit Shah.

The opposition party also said that accusations against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the case were “preposterous and diversionary tactics”, adding that the central government was obstructing trial in the case to protect those accused in the staged gun battle.…

Senior party leaders Kapil Sibal told reporters: “The plain and simple intrigue of the central government is to ensure that the most important persons of the BJP/government are not brought to trial.”…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/modi-shah-ordered-staged-shootout-in-ishrat-jahan-case-congress-116042400606_1.html

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Curfew imposed in Jamod, Maharashtra due to communal tension (Apr 18, 2016, Twocircles.net)

Curfew is imposed at Jamod village in Buldhana district of Maharashtra after members of two communities indulged into stone pelting and nine persons were injured, two of them seriously.

The incident occurred on Saturday night when members of one community were collecting eatables from households for their distribution as prasad marking the culmination of Ram Navmi.

They were raising slogans to which members of another community who were observing funeral procession of Mukaddar Khan’s mother objected resulting into stone pelting between the groups. The incident forced police to fire shots in the air and impose curfew in some areas to bring situation under control.…

http://twocircles.net/2016apr18/1460994079.html

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Armed men attack Chhattisgarh church, set afire Bible, thrash pastor (Apr 19, 2016, Indian Express)

Two unidentified men armed with sharp-edged weapons barged into a church in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district and allegedly set ablaze a Bible and other articles besides thrashing the pastor and his pregnant wife, police said on Tuesday. The incident took place on Sunday evening at village Karanji Matagudi Para under Parpa police station limits.…

As per the complaint, two men identified themselves as belonging to some other denomination of the Christian community and expressed their desire to pray in the church. After entering inside the premises, they launched an attack on the pastor and poured inflammable liquid on the Holy Bible, furniture and other religious material kept inside and set them ablaze.…

The attackers were armed with a knife, hammer, sword and petrol. After breaking locks of church premises, they barged inside and poured petrol on the Bible, other holy books, furniture and mike set and torched them, he said. They also poured petrol on pastor Deenanath and his pregnant wife, Meena and tried to set them afire but somehow they managed to escape, Pannalal added.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/chhattisgarh-church-attack-armed-men-set-afire-bible-2760376/

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Under PM Narendra Modi, India has become ‘lab of communalism’: Kanhaiya Kumar (Apr 24, 2016, Economic Times)

Describing the RSS as force behind the Narendra Modi Government, JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar today alleged the present dispensation had converted the country into a “laboratory of communalism and anti-Dalit” policies.

“Modi is the Prime Minister and the RSS is his strength. They have converted the country into a laboratory of communalism and anti-Dalit policies. Why do you fear when we talk about our ideology seeking social equality and fight to end casteism?” he asked, addressing a packed gathering of students assembled under the banner of Progressive Students’ Association.…

The 29-year-old JNU student alleged that the nature of “Bharat Mata” was being altered. “Earlier, Bharat Mata held farm grains in one hand and tiranga on another. Now tricolour is being replaced by bhagwa (saffron). These people will change the national flag. They have nothing to do with nationalism. What they want to promote is one religion and one culture”.…

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51969336.cms

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Minorities panel’s move to curb police harassment (Apr 21, 2016, The Hindu)

The State Minorities Commission has started a drive to make policing sensitive when it comes to arrests of youth from marginalised sections, including Muslims.

As two cases of alleged police harassment had led to the deaths of two youth in Guntur and Vikarabad, and since more complaints are piling up with the Commission regarding police harassment, officials of the Commission will now engage in dialogue with Superintendents of Polices and Commissioners in districts and cities in the twin States.

In two separate incidents in Gatkesar and LB Nagar, two youth who were arrested for petty offences had earlier harmed themselves in the past one month, the Commission observed.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/minorities-commission-move-to-curb-police-harassment/article8501776.ece

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Bajrang Dal activists strip, tie with electric pole and thrash a Muslim youth in Mangalore (Apr 19, 2016, Janta ka Reporter)

In yet another incident of right-wing fanaticism and utter disregard for the rule of law, dozens of youths belonging to right-wing Hindu outfit Bajrang Dal attacked a Muslim youth in Mangalore because he was travelling with a Hindu girl. The incident happened on Monday evening when the 28 year old Shakir was driving in a car with allegedly a Hindu girl in Attavar in Mangalore.

Speaking to jantakareporter.com, the police inspector of Pandeshwar police station, Dinakara Shetty said that the police had launched an investigation and will release a statement on Tuesday afternoon. He said, “There were members of many hindu sanghatana (outfits). We are investigating the matter and will soon arrest the culprits. It’s a clear case of immoral policing.”

The armed goons stripped Shakir, tied him with an electric pole and thrashed him mercilessly. “Shakir was going by car along with a girl of another faith. Hindu activists waylaid the car at Babbugudde, pulled him out and stripped off his clothes. Later, they tied him to the electric pole and thrashed him,” local police was quoted by several Mangalore-based newswebsites.…

http://www.jantakareporter.com/india/exclusive-bajrang-dal-activists-strip-tie-with-electric-pole-and-thrash-a-muslim-youth-in-mangalore/11350

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Cow slaughter increased under BJP, says Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati (Apr 24, 2016, India Today)

The Shankaracharya of the Dwarka-Shardapeeth Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati today claimed that cow slaughter and export of beef have increased since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the Centre.

“Slaughtering of cows is on the increase since BJP came to power. The export of beef has also increased under the BJP government,” Swaroopanand said.

Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati said a total ban should be enforced on cow slaughter and a law be soon enacted in this regard. He also appealed to political parties not to politicise the Ram Mandir issue.…

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/cow-slaughter-increased-under-bjp-says-shankaracharya-swaroopanand-saraswati/1/650563.html

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Court to consider complaint against channels over doctored video (Apr 25, 2016, Business Standard)

A court here on Monday fixed May 26 for considering a complaint against three news channels which allegedly ran doctored videos of the JNU controversy. The complaint was filed by the Delhi government seeking action against Zee News, NewsX and India News for broadcasting alleged doctored videos of the February 9 incident at the JNU where “anti-India” slogans were said to have been raised.

Delhi government’s counsel N. Hariharan told the court that the accused knowingly and with malicious intent caused damage to the JNU students and the university and disrupted communal harmony and security in Delhi by transmitting a forged, fabricated, doctored and altered video. He added that the doctored video was shown as genuine.…

In the plea, the government sought action against the editors-in-chief, managing directors and directors of the news channel and two companies Zee News Media Corp Ltd and Information TV Pvt Ltd.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/court-to-consider-complaint-against-channels-over-doctored-video-116042500989_1.html

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CPDR Condemns The Sacking Of An Upright Dalit Judge By Chattisgarh Government (Apr 25, 2016, Countercurrents)

…Prabhakar Gwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate during his posting at Sukma has been dismissed by the Chattisgarh government for being a pro-poor and pro-adivasi. A young dalit 2006 batch judge, he became known for taking on corrupt officers and for being a thorn in the flesh of the government and the police. He has now been summarily terminated “in the public interest” by the Chattisgarh government on the recommendation of the High Court.…

What is Prabhakar Gwal’s crime or offence according to the High Court of the state and the government? A complaint forwarded by Sukma’s Superintendent of Police to the District Judge after getting several letters written by number of police station officers that the CJM’s method of working is to obstruct the police which was lowering the morale of the police. His dismissal is the latest in a series of attacks on journalists, lawyers, academicians by the Chattisgarh administration.…

This judge was so fearless that he would term the arrests of thousands of people being produced before him as Maoists as fake arrests; he wrote to the District Judge and even Director General of Police Kalluri that the police is implicating innocent people. He went to the extent of issuing warnings to Thanedars that he would send them to jail if they framed innocent people.… In short, the BJP-led governments both at the Centre and in Chattisgarh are preparing for an all-out war on the tribals of Bastar and upright judges like Judge Gwal do not fit in their scheme of actions.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/cpdr250416.htm

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Opinions and Editorials

The Persuasions of Intolerance – By Janaki Srinivasan (Apr 23, 2016, EPW)

…While the list of violations of freedom of expression in India over the past two decades runs long, the breakneck speed with which instances are now piling up makes it imperative to look beyond the violations and ask what is distinctive about the current debate over freedom and dissent. Why do these attacks on individuals and institutions have such popular traction as can be ascertained from the public response at offline and online forums?…

On the one hand, leading commentators as well as editorials have reiterated the classic liberal argument for tolerance, that is, no idea, however offensive, marginal or unconventional in the face of public morality and discourse ought to be restricted unless there is a clear risk of tangible harm to others in society. On the other hand, free exchange of ideas enriches public discourse, hence, protection of freedom of expression and tolerance of dissent is required of any democracy. However, this argument seems to lack persuasive appeal at the present juncture, met as it is with impatient dismissal; rather it has the paradoxical effect of both creating and widening the gap between the mainstream and the marginal.…

While there is indeed greater awareness of events taking place across the world, an individual’s sense of self and social standing is tied to the constant urge to espouse rather than form opinions and listen to others. If you are not liking, sharing, commenting constantly and not part of what just went viral; you are deemed without any identity.… Apropos Marcuse it can be argued that tolerance has lost its persuasive power as it is not able to compete with the thrill of trolling, high decibel television debates and physical violence in public life. These offer a shortcut to public engagement with the righteousness of being on the side of truth.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/17/commentary/persuasions-intolerance.html

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Modi Government is Playing a Dangerous Game by Politicising NIA – By MK Venu (Apr 25, 2016, The Wire)

Something is just not right about the way an orchestrated campaign is being run to discredit the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) painstaking effort since 2011 to unravel the role of Hindu extremists in a series of bomb blasts in Malegaon and Samjhauta Express between 2006 and 2008. Some news TV channels suddenly discovered “new evidence” last week to claim there were holes in the Hindu terror angle to these cases.…

This was bizarre because the same NIA had painstakingly collected evidence in the past to establish the role of the Hindu terror networks in these blasts, which had then resulted in the move to discharge the Muslim men accused in the case. So why is the NIA suddenly going against its own past findings? The reason is not far to seek. The NIA under the BJP-led regime seems reluctant to proceed with the cases where the role of Hindu terror networks has come to the fore.…

All these legal-definitional wrangles actually reflect a highly polarised polity in which important terror cases are being viewed through a communal prism. The government continues to claim it is not influencing these cases. But facts on the ground, such as Rohini Salian’s affidavit, tell a different story.

http://thewire.in/2016/04/25/modi-government-is-playing-a-dangerous-game-by-politicising-nia-31341/

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New Tryst with Freedom – Editorial (Apr 30, 2016, EPW)

In a deplorable, if not entirely unexpected, move the administration of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has taken strong disciplinary actions against students it had identified for alleged indiscipline and for breaking university rules.…

Despite having had the process of an enquiry before handing out these punishments it does appear that the punishments are unfair and, more importantly, driven by the saffron political waves trying to drown out the island that has been JNU. The students and teachers of JNU had raised serious questions about numerous procedural lapses in the entire process – the very constitution of the “High Level Enquiry Committee,” the random, yet deliberate, manner in which some students were targeted, the sending of “show-cause” notices, the charges of “indiscipline,” spreading “casteist” and “communal” feelings, etc.…

It is no accident that aazadi has become the rallying cry of this rebellion. The NDA government backed by the RSS have set the full force of their authority and state power, Canute like, against this rising tide.… We are confident that even if we are in a dark hour, this country will awake, surely, into a dawn of ever-widening freedom of thought and action.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/18/editorials/new-tryst-freedom.html

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Struggle for equality – By T.K. Rajalakshmi (May 13, 2016, Frontline)

The demand that women be allowed to enter and worship at religious spaces that they have been barred from signifies, to a large extent, women’s growing assertiveness in seeking equal rights in all spaces. This is viewed as an outcome of the increasing awareness and consciousness of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

Although the resolution of the demand for democratisation of all spaces will involve a protracted legal process, … what is clear is that these movements do raise certain fundamental questions of discrimination and exclusion justified under the garb of traditional religious practices connected with a narrow biological determinism of purity and pollution as far as women are concerned.…

The contradictions and the conflict between the customary and the constitutional are not new but what is settled is that in the eventuality of a conflict, it is the latter that will prevail. The limitations of democratising the religious domain, based as it is on a set of entrenched beliefs, is a challenge in itself, as the stakes involved in preserving the character of that domain are rather high.

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/struggle-for-equality/article8523453.ece

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You’re a Maoist in Bastar if you dare to oppose the State – By Parakram Rautela (Apr 7, 2016, Dailyo.in)

…The inspector general of police, the top cop in the Bastar range, had called a press conference at his residence to announce the surrender of three alleged Naxalites.… Police officers sat on chairs on a dais assembled on the lawn of the IG’s residence, the Naxals – one man and two women – stood, and local print and TV journalists sat on chairs on the lawn and listened to the IG as he listed out the reasons, he thought, there had been a sudden and massive spike in the number of Naxal surrenders since the Narendra Modi government had come to power in Delhi and he himself had shuffled into town, and how the security forces had declared an all out war on the Maoists.

After the IG had his say, the floor was opened up to questions and the local journalists dutifully lobbed a few easy questions at the cops. Nobody seemed to be very interested in talking to the alleged Naxals, or asking them why they had surrendered. I was. So, turning to the man, I introduced myself as a freelance reporter from Delhi and asked him: “Will you please tell us in your own words how long you were with the Maoist movement, what you did for them, and finally, why you left?”

Before he could answer, the IG pounced on me: “How dare you talk to him like that!” he said at the top of his voice. “You come here with your fancy education and think you can talk to a simple tribal man like that. Look at him, he’s trembling.” He then proceeded to tear into me for a good few minutes, the gist of his outburst being that people like me came from “outside” and made things difficult for people like him.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/maoism-chhattisgarh-bastar-naxalism-jaglag-narendra-modi-soni-sori-crpf/story/1/9950.html

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Ambedkar vs Dronacharya: Why Gurugram is just the RSS telling us who’s boss – By Kancha Ilaiah (Apr 20, 2016, Scroll.in)

Changing the name of Gurgaon to Gurugram is clearly a decision taken after due deliberation. It is no coincidence that its announcement was timed with the celebrations of Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary.…

the RSS roadmap is clear. Its pracharak chief ministers can be called upon to moderate and balance all the praise showered on Ambedkar in search of newer vote banks. The timing of the re-naming of Gurgaon as Gurugram tells the story more effectively than anything else as it was changed in the midst of the Ambedkar Jayanthi celebrations.

The RSS’s inner soul belongs to Dronacharya – not to Eklavya and Karna. It is delusional therefore to expect any real progress towards an egalitarian nation from a government that is controlled by them. Their idea of sab kaa saath, sab kaa Vikas has to be true to its soul – and pay obeisance to their casteist idols.

http://scroll.in/article/806918/ambedkar-vs-dronacharya-why-gurugram-is-just-the-rss-showing-whos-the-boss

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 8th, 2016

by newsdigest on February 24, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

J&K: Muslims perform last rites of 84-year-old Kashmiri Pandit in Kulgam (Feb 2, 2016, IBN)

In a heart-warming example of Kashmiriyat, Muslims of a village in Kulgam district of south Kashmir performed the last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit, who clung to his roots and refused to leave the valley when all others in his family fled under threat from terrorists. Janki Nath (84), a resident of Malvan in Kulgam, died on Saturday.

In the absence of family member or Kashmiri Pandit, the local Muslims organised the last rites of the deceased and mourned his death as one of their own. Nath, who was the only member of his community living among the 5,000 Muslims in Malvan, had decided to stay back when Kashmiri Pandits fled the valley in 1990.…

He was not keeping well for the past five years and Muslim neighbors were taking care of him. As the news of his death broke, locals were inconsolable. “We feel we have lost one of our own. He was just like my elder brother and I used to take suggestions from him before taking any step”, Gull Mohammad Alai, a local, said.… The locals said Janki Nath had no regrets about his decision to stay back in the valley.

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/india/jk-muslims-perform-last-rites-of-84-year-old-kashmiri-pandit-in-kulgam-1198259.html

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Gujarat BJP on cheap land to CM’s kin: Price fixed in 2011 after district, state penals, Modi Cabinet “cleared” it (Feb 6, 2016, Counterview)

Is BJP high command losing faith in Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel? It would seem so, if looks into how it fielded Gujarat BJP spokesperson IK Jadeja, a small fry, to “deny” a top media report, which pointed to a “scam” in which business group associated with her daughter was allocated 250 acres of prime land off Gir lions sanctuary at the rate of just Rs 15 per square metre. The denial, in a Gujarati language press note, came even as political circles in the state were abuzz with speculation as to who is behind the effort to “dislodge” Anandiben Patel.…

Congress leader Anand Sharma termed the revelations “shocking”, and they showed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, “allowed nepotism, conflict of interest and brazen plundering of public land to promote commercial and business interests of entities close to the daughter of the then Revenue Minister present chief minister Anandiben Patel.” Sharma said, “Allotment of 250 acres of government land next to the Gir lion sanctuary without any valuation or price determination for a pittance was in gross violation of all known procedures and regulations governing allocation of public land in eco sensitive zones.”

“The land was allotted to Wildwoods Resorts & Realties for setting up a resort. The promoters of this firm are close business associates of Anar Patel, the daughter of the current Gujarat CM”, he said, adding, “The estimated market price of this land was to the tune of Rs.50 lakh per acre i.e. a total of Rs 125 crore for 250 acres, but the total amount paid was just Rs 1.25 crore.” Even even AAP and Congress went public, twitterati criticized the land allocation. Arun Nambiar said, “Hema Malini and Anandiben now in massive Land Scams!”, and Vinod Mehta said, “Adani paid Re1 per Sqm for thousands of acres Land by Modi. Anandiben’s daughter paid Rs15 per metres. Some improvement!”…

http://www.counterview.net/2016/02/gujarat-bjp-on-cheap-land-to-cms-kin.html

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2008 Malegaon blasts: NIA under fire from former prosecutor as it seeks to drop MCOCA charges (Feb 4, 2016, Scroll.in)

“It is a political move,” former special counsel for National Investigation Agency, Rohini Salian said, when asked for a response to the NIA informing a special court that it intended to drop charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against the 11 accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts. The NIA requested the court on Tuesday that the framing of charges against the accused, including Lt Col Srikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, be deferred until it receives an opinion from the Attorney General whether charges under MCOCA could be dropped.

“How can they ask the Attorney General? How is he concerned with the case? The matter is sub judice (pending in court) and the case is at framing of charges. The court should decide the charges now. This is all politics. I have disassociated myself from the case now. They are cheating everyone (the society),” Salian said.

Salian, however, added that even if the stringent MCOCA charges were to be dropped, the case will not collapse and will stand on the basis of witnesses who have spoken of various conspiracy meetings. Salian had charged last year that she had been under pressure from the NIA to go “soft” in the case since “the new government came to power” in May 2014.…

http://scroll.in/article/802937/2008-malegaon-blasts-nia-under-fire-from-former-prosecutor-as-it-seeks-to-drop-mcoca-charges

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2002 riots displaced demand amenities (Feb 5, 2016, Times of India)

Fourteen years after losing their homes from the communal riots of 2002, internally displaced persons staged a demonstration on Thursday before the district collectorate, to protest the absence of even basic amenities in rehabilitation colonies. They demanded improved conditions in such camps and the inclusion of these in the state’s development policies.

Hundreds gathered under the aegis of Visthapit Ladat Samiti and demonstrated in protest at the government’s apathy towards 83 rehabilitation colonies in 12 districts. More than 3,000 families lives in these colonies. They demanded that basic amenities – water connections and sewerage lines – be provided to residents of these rehabilitation colonies.

They have also been demanding ownership of the houses they have been occupying for more than 13 years now. “These houses were constructed by NGOs, but ownership is not given to the beneficiaries. As the property is not in our names, we cannot even get credit or other benefits. We even face problems in establishing proof of residence,” said a protester, Samir Sodawala from Halol in Panchmahal.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/50861081.cms

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History textbooks being changed to convert India into a Hindu nation, alleges Pawar (Feb 5, 2016, First Post)

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday alleged that attempts were being made to convert India into a “Hindu Rashtra” distorting history in school textbooks and implored historians to come together and “pen the truth” for the sake of generation next.

“Some people are working with an intention of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra by distorting history in school textbooks. This will prove to be dangerous as this will harm the secular fabric of the country,” Pawar said while addressing a seminar at YB Chavan in Mumbai.

He said that an awareness needs to be created among the youth that some people are trying to “corrupt” their minds to spread poison in the society. “Articles need to be written, discussions should take place on this issue as it is a grave matter,” he said.…

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/history-textbooks-being-changed-to-convert-india-into-a-hindu-nation-alleges-pawar-2614460.html

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At last, justice for custodial death victim’s family (Feb 1, 2016, The Hindu)

Judge Shridhar Bhosale at the City Civil Court and Sessions Court on Saturday convicted four police constables charged with the murder of 20-year-old Aniket Khicchi, the son of vegetable vendor parents, to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 each. This is the first successful conviction in a custodial death case in Maharashtra.

On October 26, 2013, Aniket Khicchi, was out with his friends to watch a movie when the Vanrai police picked him up and charged him with robbery for allegedly stealing a laptop from Goregaon Sports Complex. A day later, Aniket died, allegedly after being assaulted by police constables. His post mortem report showed head injuries and congestion in the lungs.

The Bombay High Court had recently observed that as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Maharashtra recorded 354 custodial deaths from 1999 to 2014, the highest in the country. Of these, 106 were police custody deaths, while the rest (248) happened in judicial custody (jail). Shockingly, in 15 years, only 13 First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed. Only five policemen were charge-sheeted, and there were zero convictions.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/at-last-justice-for-custodial-death-victims-family/article8176826.ece

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Deoband bypoll: If I get elected, they will feel our terror, says BJP leader Rampal Singh (Feb 6, 2016, Indian Express)

When Muzaffarnagar faced riots in 2013, the neighbouring Deoband, another Muslim-dominated area with the seat of the seminary Dar-ul-Uloom, remained quiet. Deoband does not see communal clashes, but BJP believes that the February 13 byelection here is a fight “between Hindus and Muslims”.

The party candidate, former RSS Pracharak Rampal Singh Pundhir, asserts his agenda: restoration of Hindu pride vis-a-vis Muslims. Pundhir says that if he gets elected, “Ek bhay hoga unke andar. Hamara terror hoga unke upar, unke gundon par (Muslims will feel scared. They and their hooligans will feel our terror)”.…

“Threat to Hindus? Who said? May be due to elections, some people are spreading lies,” says Praveen Kumar of Praveen Jewellers. Curiously, an election pamphlet of Pundhir is pasted at Kumar’s shop. He’s a BJP voter, not a member though.” “I am here for 35 years. Muslims and Hindus live here in harmony,” says Rajiv Kumar of Rajiv Medical Store. The BJP doesn’t believe this.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/deoband-bypoll-if-i-get-elected-they-will-feel-our-terror-says-bjp-leader-rampal-singh/

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Muslim personal law founded on Quran, SC can’t question it: Jamiat (Feb 6, 2016, Times of India)

Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, the powerful body of Muslim clerics, has said that Muslim personal law flows from the Holy Quran and cannot be subjected to any scrutiny by the Supreme Court based on principles of the Constitution.

“Mohammedan law is founded essentially on the Holy Quran and this cannot fall within the purview of the expression ‘laws in force’ as mentioned in Article 13 of the Constitution, and hence its validity cannot be tested on a challenge based on Part-III of the Constitution (guaranteeing fundamental rights, including right to equality),” the JUH application filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool said. …

Last year, while entertaining a petition, a two-judge bench of Justices A R Dave and Adarsh Goel had directed registration of a separate PIL to consider the rights of Muslim women as there was no safeguard against arbitrary divorce (triple talaq) and second marriage by Muslim men during subsistence of their first marriage. The court had issued notice to the attorney general and National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa).

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/50873733.cms

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‘The policemen hit us with all they had’: PhD student claims Delhi Police brutally beat students and tore their clothes during Rohith Vemula protest (Feb 1, 2016, Daily Mail)

Shweta Raj, a PhD student from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), had never seen such brutality. Shweta was among the hundreds of protestors who were allegedly assaulted by Delhi Police personnel on January 30. Recalling the incident, she said: “From lathis to boots, the policemen hit us with all they had. Forget gender, they treated each one of us in the most inhuman manner.”

A video clip that went viral on Monday shows how Delhi police personnel, along with few ‘unknown’ men in plain clothes, attacked the protesters outside the RSS office in Jhandewalan. Students from various varsities across Delhi were agitating against the alleged delay in justice for Rohith Vemula, the 26-year-old Hyderabad university research scholar who committed suicide last month.

Shweta pointed out the absence of female police officers in the crackdown on protestors. “No female police officers were present there. This is not the first time that we have protested, but we have never witnessed such brutality. There is a way to deal with protestors. Policemen have become goons,” Shweta said. Shweta said the police atrocity was far worse than what was captured in the video clip.… Protesters have alleged that some RSS members first joined the protest and then attacked students along with the police. The RSS has, however, denied the allegations.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3427052/The-policemen-hit-PhD-student-claims-Delhi-Police-brutally-beat-students-tore-clothes-Rohith-Vemula-protest.html

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Caste came up in 3 suicide probes at Hyderabad University (Feb 8, 2016, Indian Express)

The University of Hyderabad had all the warning it needed before Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula committed suicide last month. Three red flags, in the form of three suicides by Dalit students within six years. And three probes that arrived at the same conclusion: this was no campus for the marginalised.

The HRD Ministry wants a judicial commission to probe the events that led to the suicide on January 17 of Vemula, who was among five Dalits suspended by the university for allegedly assaulting an ABVP leader. But the findings of the three committees that probed the three suicides on campus between 2008 and 2014 were clear: the Dalit students faced a “sense of alienation” and “institutional discrimination” owing to “caste consideration”.

One of those committees, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice K Ramaswamy, stated in its report: “Because of the insensitivity towards problems faced by the students belonging to the aforesaid social groups, frequent occurrences of suicides are taking place.”…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/caste-came-up-in-3-suicide-probes-at-hyderabad-university/

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Dalit Rights: Bureaucracy Treated me Like an Untouchable, Says Ex-IAS Officer Sivakami (Feb 4, 2016, New Indian Express)

As the suicide of Rohith Vemula puts the focus back on the contentious issue of Dalit rights, former IAS officer and author P. Sivakami says that the community is denied even the minimum human rights. The critically acclaimed author and former bureaucrat said she quit in 2008 after being treated like an untouchable.

Sivakami, who was in the Indian Administrative Service for 28 years, told IANS that her decision was fuelled by the realisation that Dalits have no place in nation-building. With more than eight books to her credit, Sivakami is among India’s most prominent Dalit writers. Her first book, “In The Grip of Change”, had created a stir as it questions patriarchy in the Dalit movement.

“Both the political class and bureaucracy work together against the Dalits. During my service, though my position was next to the minister in the state I was serving in, I had to struggle for basic rights for tribals. I was dubbed as a person who belongs to the community when I was working for their welfare. It amounted to untouchability. I realised that there was an unwritten law against people from the lower community,” said Sivakami, whose last posting was secretary of the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department in Tamil Nadu.…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/Dalit-Rights-Bureaucracy-Treated-me-Like-an-Untouchable-Says-Ex-IAS-Officer-Sivakami/2016/02/04/article3260866.ece

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Opinions and Editorials

Dear Mr Doval, we need to talk about Hindutva terror – By Ajaz Ashraf (Feb 4, 2016, Scroll.in)

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has won accolades for his patriotism manifest in the many risky missions…. His experience is precisely why we would want to know from him, or the Intelligence Bureau he once headed, whether or not the violence that mushrooming militant Hindu groups indulge in imperils the nation’s security.… It is, therefore, surprising that we haven’t had the Intelligence Bureau brief the media on the security threat posed to the nation by the saffron or Hindutva or Hindu terror, regardless of whichever term is appropriate. Its silence on Hindutva terror and vigilantism appear puzzling.…

There is no denying that Hindutva has become increasingly menacing. There hasn’t been a week in the last 18 months when a story on one or the other Hindu militant groups resorting to violence somewhere in the country has not featured in the media. Some of these groups are freshly minted. True, they don’t toss grenades or fire bullets, but they aim to terrorise people who more often than not happen to be religious minorities and marginalised groups.…

It is possible that the Intelligence Bureau perceives Hindu radicals as benign because they don’t target the state but the people. But a state found wanting in protecting its citizens ultimately undermines its own foundation. This is why Ajit Doval must provide the nation with his perspective on the security challenges that extremist Hindus pose, because, frankly speaking, a good many people believe they have had enough of them.

http://scroll.in/article/802972/dear-mr-doval-we-need-to-talk-about-hindutva-terror

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Ishrat Jahan & Ruling Class Pseudo Nationalism – By Archana Prasad (Feb 21, 2016, Peoples Democracy)

Jingo patriotism and pseudo right wing RSS nationalists have found a suitable partner in CIA double agent David Coleman Headley who has been given clemency in return for turning ‘approver’ in the 26/11 case. This cover for Headley has given him the license to make claims that are politically suitable for the ruling regime and that help it to wipe out the taint that Modi accumulated as chief minister of Gujarat.

As part of this exercise, the public prosecutor claims that Headley has given evidence to suggest that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar ‘suicide bomber’. Using this statement, the BJP has said that the Modi government stands vindicated and that it is now proved that the encounter killing Ishrat Jahan was not fake. This reliance on the so-called testimony of a double agent and a participant in planning the 26/11 attacks speaks volumes for ‘the nationalist position’ of the Hindu Right.

The fact that the Hindu Right gives more credibility to Headley and less to the CBI and a magisterial enquiry of the government shows that they have scant respect for the law. Hence it is important to remind ourselves about the nature of the case and the facts that had come out of the magisterial enquiry.…

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2016/0221_pd/ishrat-jahan-ruling-class-pseudo-nationalism

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What Is So Smart About The City You Live In? – By Deepti Sreeram (Feb 16, 2016, Tehelka)

…When urbanisation gradually spread its wings over prime cities, it came as no surprise that the cities would have an ‘old city’ as a counterpart to its relatively smarter ‘other’. In Delhi, for instance, ‘old Delhi’, formerly known as Shahjahanabad, is a relic of its illustrious past and a home to most of the city’s historical attractions. Until recently, the vocabulary to explain a city rested upon this binary of the old/new. But now, if the recent list is to be believed, at least some cities are going to be rechristened as ‘smarter’ versions come up.

Carrying a tagline of a ‘Modified Gujarat’, the picture was used as a token to represent the urban development that was underway in the state. However, within days, the photograph showing a well-lit BRTS flanked by wide lanes was found to be a picture of China’s BRTS . Yet despite such efforts at eye-washing, the writing on the wall was clear. When the results were declared, the ‘Rurban’ model of Gujarat was set to replace the UPA’s ten-year old scheme of Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA).

The seeds of the ‘smart city mission’ were thus laid once the Gujarat model of development became a rallying point for the BJP. Soon after victory, the Modi government announced the ‘100 Smart Cities Plan’ by promising to allocate a whopping 70.6 billion rupees to it.…

http://www.tehelka.com/2016/02/what-is-so-smart-about-the-city-you-live-in/

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The Scream Of Lotus Buds – By Uttam Sengupta, Ushinor Majumdar (Feb 8, 2016, Outlook)

In the last month and a half, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has been responsible, directly or indirectly, for the suicide of research scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, for the abandonment of a symposium on ‘Democracy, Media and Freedom of Exression’ in Allahabad and for the termination of services of IIT-BHU guest faculty and Magasaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey in Varanasi. The student body of the RSS-BJP has been on an overdrive since the NDA government took charge in May 2014.

It has taken on critics of the Modi government, often calling them anti-national, as, on one pretext or the other, it intervened to stop plays, films, seminars, festivals and lectures that challenged its views. Violence or threat of violence has been used with increasing frequency, but the police has generally looked the other way.…

AISA vice-president Farhan Ahmad echoes the sentiment, alleging that the ABVP is thriving on “money and muscle power”. But while the prime minister, BJP chief Amit Shah and HRD minister Smriti Irani pose for photographs with ABVP leaders and hold discussions with them, none of them has spared a word to rein it in or condemn its irresponsible behaviour, as in Allahabad.…

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/the-scream-of-lotus-buds/296540

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Rule of the lathi – Editorial (Feb 3, 2016, Indian Express)

The brutality of the police action on students who gathered outside the RSS headquarters in New Delhi to protest Rohith Vemula’s death on January 30 raises questions about the manner in which public protests are dealt with by law enforcers.

A video of the agitation – instrumental in the incident receiving widespread attention – shows lathi-wielding policemen raining blows on unarmed students. Some civilians – Delhi Police has clarified they were not policemen in plain clothes – too joined the policemen in beating up the students.…

The rule is that minimum force must be used to disperse a crowd. This calls for skillful leadership and a force trained to be discreet about the use of violence. By all accounts, that’s rarely the case in India, across states and political dispensations.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/rule-of-the-lathi/

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Rohith’s Living Legacy – Editorial (Feb 6, 2016, EPW)

Students have played a vital role in the politics of modern India, shaping its destiny at crucial moments, both during the freedom struggle as well as in the seven decades since independence. The countrywide movement which has emerged in the wake of the tragic death of Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad is perhaps one such movement which will alter the nature of India’s polity for the better.

As EPW has noted earlier (“Death by Discrimination,” 23 January 2016), Rohith’s suicide was triggered in conditions where the university, as an institution, bared itself as a political partisan punishing Dalit students by using the methods of social discrimination. There was already a student agitation in the university against this partisanship which had united all organisations other than the Hindutva fundamentalists.…

Yet what has emerged in the weeks since he took his final, mortal step has been an unprecedented blossoming of rebellion against discrimination on India’s campuses. Unheralded by any particular organisation, this movement has brought students across castes and other social and political divides together to demand an end to discrimination in institutions of higher learning.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/6/editorials/rohiths-living-legacy.html

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 29th, 2015

June 30, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Communal harmony over iftar at Delhi’s Jama Masjid News Headlines US report: Gujarat govt moved against top activist Teesta Setalvad after she sought to indict Modi in 2002 riots Since this new govt came, I have been told to go soft on accused (Hindu extremists): Special Public […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 10th, 2014

February 11, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines NRG sisters’ film records lingering trauma of 2002 Cops ignored Hindu terror leads, says officer who arrested Aseemanand Shinde hints at conducting probe in Samjhauta Express blast case Ishrat Jahan encounter case: CBI charges former IB special director, 3 serving officers Government forced to defer Communal […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 2nd, 2013

December 3, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Snooping row: Web portal releases pictures of Narendra Modi with ‘Madhuri’ Cobrapost stings Narendra Modi again, alleges Facebook, YouTube, Twitter ‘misuse’ Sardar Patel Hated Hyderabadi Culture: AG Noorani BJP youth wing leader held for murder of ex-RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi Sadiq Jamal encounter: CBI names 4 […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 10th, 2013

June 11, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Facing warrant, CBI inspector deposes in Naroda Gam riots case Modi is BJP’s face now, but can he wash his hands off infamous post-Godhra riots? Rift in BJP wide open, Advani quits all party posts CBI snipes at Narendra Modi in Supreme Court in Ishrat fake […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 4th, 2013

February 5, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary is a time to renew the struggle against hate and sectarianism say Indian Americans News Headlines NIA gets clue on terror modus operandi used by saffron-terror suspects Naroda Patiya massacre case: Maya Kodnani plea to change Naroda Gam judge Jyotsana Yagnik rejected Muslim […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 28th, 2013

January 29, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Indian Americans across the US commemorate India’s 64th Republic Day Communal Harmony FANS selected for communal harmony award News Headlines RSS offices used to plan terror attacks: NIA 10 accused in blast cases have RSS links: R.K. Singh Probe all blasts since 1992: Asaduddin Owaisi High Court […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 9th, 2012

July 10, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Holding Gujarat rioters accountable Gujarat riots: SC defers plea to stay HC order on shrines Gujarat BJP a Hindu divided family Why NIA’s Malegaon blasts probe is going nowehere Fake encounter still haunts Rajasthan BJP leader Jamaat-e-Islami Hind seek public support for Muslims booked in ‘false’ […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 6th, 2012

February 7, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Celebrations across the US by Indian Muslims to commemorate India’s 63rd Republic Day News Headlines ‘Central IB officer floated ISI conspiracy theory for Godhra’ Govt reply full of falsehood: IPS officer Rahul Sharma to CAT Narendra Modi, like Nazis, will be remembered for carnage: Cong Govt trying […]

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