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Hindutva Terror

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 10th, 2014

by newsdigest on February 11, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

NRG sisters’ film records lingering trauma of 2002 (Feb 7, 2014, Times of India)

Two sisters, Sheena and Sonum Sumaria, born in London to a Gujarati-Jain family, have made a movie on the communal divide that has plagued Gujarat in the aftermath of the communal riots of 2002. The two sisters, both graduates of Cambridge University, had come to the state in 2012 on a visit to their grandfather’s place of birth in western Gujarat. But once here, they realized that they had entered a divided society polarized along communal lines over the ruling BJP and its leader.

“We were born in London to a Gujarati-Jain family. Our grandparents were born in Gujarat while our parents were born in Kenya. We come from a multi-cultural environment and are passionate about justice. As we delved into Gujarat’s recent history, we could sense the lingering effects of the 2002 riots. We knew that this state was once very inclusive. This is how our effort to make a film on Narendra Modi, Hindu nationalism and the suffering of Muslims after 2002 began,” said Sheena, a student of economics at Cambridge and of globalisation and development at University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Interestingly, the film called, ‘Even the Crows’, was crowd-funded. “Around 56 people from across the world backed our project. We collected over Rs 8 lakh for the movie’s production,” said Sonum, who studied Spanish and Russian at Cambridge University and film at Escuela de Cine y Television, Cuba.

The movie has moving accounts of the Gujarati-American, Nishrin, whose father, a former MP and prominent Muslim leader, was killed during the riots; of Nishrin’s husband, Najid Hussein; and British-Gujarati, Imran, who was the sole survivor when he and two of his uncles were attacked while on a holiday in the state. Political psychologist Ashis Nandy, danseuse and activist Mallika Sarabhai and Prasad Chako of St Xaviers have contributed to the film with their insights.

Mallika Sarabhai said that the people ruined by the 2002 violence have not received justice. “Every reminder – even if it is in the form of a film – that justice has not been done is welcome, as it gives hope that someone will take note,” she said. …


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Cops ignored Hindu terror leads, says officer who arrested Aseemanand (Feb 7, 2014, DNA India)

The Andhra Pradesh police had information about the existence of a “Hindu terror network” after the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blasts, a former CBI officer told dna in the wake of a media report claiming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was behind multiple blasts.

During four rounds of interviews to Caravan magazine, arrested accused Swami Aseemanand said that the blasts were supported and funded by the RSS’ top level, according to the magazine. The RSS, which is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideologue, questioned the veracity of Aseemanand’s statements.

A former CBI officer, who unearthed the “Hindu terror network” and arrested Aseemanand, said that although the Congress-led Andhra Pradesh government had leads on the existence of such a network after the 2007 blasts, the AP police went after 70 Muslim youth, who were arrested, tortured and implicated in the case. The officer said he was able to draw a link between the Malegaon, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts, which were all triggered by mobile phones, after 12 days of intense investigations.

“When I told my seniors, we should look at Hindu fundamentalists, they told me I am mad,” said the former CBI officer. “The AP police also had information, but they chose not to pursue the lead. With considerable evidence that my team had gathered, we got a go-ahead. When my colleague shared the information with (Anti-Terrorism Squad’s) Hemant Karkare, he immediately took the lead and arrested Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and the rest is history.” The CBI later arrested Assemanand, who is currently in Ambala jail.

Meanwhile, RSS spokesman Ram Madhav questioned the interview’s authenticity saying Aseemanand had denied giving any such interview. “This is a political conspiracy,” said Madhav. “One has to bear in mind the timing of this information so close to the election. Similar flase allegations to defame the RSS leadership were made earlier too, and have been proved to be incorrect.”


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Shinde hints at conducting probe in Samjhauta Express blast case (Feb 6, 2014, Business Standard)

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Thursday hinted at conducting a probe in the Samjhauta Express blast case after allegations surfaced about RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s alleged involvement in the attack that killed 68 people, mostly Pakistani nationals, in February 2007. The accusations were levelled after a magazine published audio tapes and transcripts of an interview with Indian monk Swami Aseemanand, in which he allegedly blames Bhagwat for playing a role in the Samjhauta Express (Attari Express) bi-weekly train attack, the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid and theAjmer Dargah blasts in 2007.

Shinde said: “Now let us see in the matter, if they have revealed it then their must be some truth.” Earlier in 2011, the National Investigative Agency had filed its charge sheet against Aseemanand and four others, but the NIA officials could not prove charges against him. Meanwhile, RSS leader M.G. Vaidya dismissed the allegations, saying there was no authenticity. … Two homemade bombs exploded aboard a train bound from India to Pakistan burning to death at least 64 passengers in 2007.

Most of the victims were Pakistanis but included some Indians. Two other unexploded homemade bombs were also found on the train and the track. The Samjhauta Express was carrying around 527 passengers. The dead included three railway policemen. Samjhauta is Hindi for understanding or agreement. The rail link was restored in 1976, but severed again after an attack on New Delhi’s parliament in late 2001. It started up again in 2004.


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Ishrat Jahan encounter case: CBI charges former IB special director, 3 serving officers (Feb 6, 2014, India Today)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday filed a supplementary chargesheet in Ishrat Jahan encounter case. The agency charged former Intelligence Bureau special director Rajinder Kumar along with three serving officers – P. Mittal, M.K. Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede – in a special court in Ahmedabad.

It, however, did not mention the then Gujarat minister of state for home and close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah. The foursome has been charged under IPC section 120B and Sections 27 and 28 of the Indian Arms Act.

Ishrat, 19, was killed along with three other suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba militants on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on 15 June, 2004 by the Gujarat Police’s crime branch in an alleged fake encounter. The state police had claimed that the operation was carried out on the information provided by the IB, which was then headed by Rajinder Kumar in the state.


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Government forced to defer Communal Violence Bill (Feb 5, 2014, The Hindu)

The UPA government faced a major embarrassment on the first day of the extended winter session of Parliament on Wednesday as a united Opposition forced the government to defer the Communal Violence Bill in the Rajya Sabha. As the Opposition parties, including the BJP, Samajwadi Party, CPI(M), AIADMK and DMK, stepped up their attack on the government, accusing it of going against the spirit of federalism and encroaching upon States’ rights, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien deferred the Prevention of Communal Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2014, in view of the “mood of the House.”

The Bill was to replace the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005, withdrawn by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. Earlier, the House had a brief debate on whether Parliament had the jurisdiction to enact such a Bill that violates the spirit of federalism. Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and Law Minister Kapil Sibal engaged in heated arguments.

Mr. Jaitley said: “The Central government has absolutely no jurisdiction in bringing such a Bill … This Bill is entirely beyond the legislative competence of Parliament. I am … convinced that objections raised by Opposition have … substance.” Mr. Sibal said the Bill would not violate the federal structure and that any action by the Union government under the Bill would be with the consent of State governments. He attacked the BJP by referring to the 2002 Gujarat riots, and said the Bill was necessary to tackle “state-sponsored communal activity… like it happened in Gujarat.”

“If it is state-sponsored communal activity, then it is not a law-and-order issue … Like what happened in Gujarat is not a law-and-order issue,” he said. Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) said the Bill could not be introduced as the legislative competence of the Centre was in question. Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien said that “the UPA has butchered the concept of federalism” and accused the government of encroaching upon the rights of States. V. Maitreyan of the AIADMK said as law and order was a state subject.


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1984: Giani Zail Singh’s daughter says PM, govt ignored his pleas for help (Feb 3, 2014, India Today)

“The year 1984 was the most painful year for my father,” says Dr Gurdeep Kaur, daughter of former president Dr Giani Zail Singh. In an interview with PTC News here yesterday, Dr Gurdeep Kaur who now lives here with her engineer husband Surinder Singh Virdi, maintained that her father was deeply hurt both by Operation Bluestar and the anti-sikh riots. The agony of Giani Ji, she says, was that despite being the supreme commander of Indian defense forces, he was neither consulted before Operation Bluestar nor could he, in spite of his best efforts, stop the riots against innocent Sikhs.

“Giani Ji was a very strong man and he could fight his own battles, but the Operation Bluestar was one that shook him and brought tears to his eyes”. Four days after Operation Bluestar, when he visited Golden Temple and Akal Takhat Sahib, he came back devastated and in deep anguish. He was shaken by the damage caused to the sanctum sanctorum, revealed Dr Gurdeep Kaur.

Dr Kaur while giving the firsthand account of events that unfolded at Rashtarpati Bhavan on the night of October 31, 1984, said that her father was deeply perturbed over breaking out of riots. He tried calling the PMO, the then Home Minister and other concerned authorities in a concerted effort to stop the atrocities being committed on innocent Sikhs. She claimed that either his calls were not returned or lines were getting disconnected for reasons unknown, thus revealing helplessness at that time of ‘the Most Powerful Man’ of independent India who also happened to be the supreme commander of Indian defense forces.

Dr Gurdeep Kaur maintained that her father was restless and had sleepless nights as riots against Sikhs continued unabated. She claimed that with no help or support coming from those who held authority, he tried to utilise his own limited resources including, sending out his bodyguards to rescue the victims. He also tried to send vehicles from Rashtarpati Bhavan for evacuating victims. She said that Giani Ji was also very upset as many of the conventions and practices were being violated with impunity. She stresses that in the first 48 to 72 hours, no one including the Prime Minister turned up at Rashtarpati Bhavan to brief the President as is the convention even now in India.

She lamented that though her father was the supreme commander of Indian defense forces, he could not pass an executive order to call even a soldier to stop the riots. Dr Kaur also made a revelation that when pressure was built on her father by various Sikh organisations to quit, he called a meeting of his advisors and family members. It was he who took the conscious decision in the larger interest of the nation in general and Sikh community in particular to stay put. “Had he as supreme commander resigned at that time, there would have been chaos and Sikhs would have suffered immensely. It was because of his decision that Sikhs could become army heads and PM now” she said.


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Accused pressuring us to withdraw cases: Muzaffarnagar riot victims (Feb 6, 2014, Times of India)

Victims and witnesses of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar have lodged a complaint alleging riot accused are pressuring them to withdraw cases and turn hostile. They have submitted audio tapes in support of their allegations and have asked police to register a case, arrest accused and take their voice samples for verification. Shahid Hasan and Shaukeen, who have filed cases as victims and witnesses of the horrific killings in Lisadh village, have lodged a complaint with the special investigation team (SIT) which is probing the riots.

They have submitted recordings of telephonic conversations with Rajendra, son of Baba Harikishan, head of Gathwala Khap panchayat. Harikishan has been accused of delivering hate speeches at a mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar on September 7, following which the riots broke out. They have submitted a copy of the complaint and audio tapes in the Supreme Court which is hearing a PIL demanding CBI probe into riots.

Asad Hayat, Muzaffarnagar-based lawyer and petitioner in the case, told TOI that Rajendra called up several victims and witnesses of the killings in Lisadh village and asked them to either withdraw the case or turn hostile. Asad claimed many accused have resorted to similar tactics. The callers, he added, also claimed that they had named several Muslims of the village in a murder case only to build pressure and are ready to withdraw cases as quid pro quo. Asad alleged 13 Muslims were killed and their houses set afire in Lisadh during riots.

The application filed before SIT also claimed that several victims have already withdrawn their complaints or turned hostile in cases reported from Lisadh, Bahawadi, Lakh, Fugana and Kutba-Kutabi villages. It also states that leaders of Ghathwala Khap panchayat recently declared they would not allow police to arrest accused in gang-rape cases. Reports of victims and witnesses withdrawing cases or turning hostile were reported earlier as well, Asad said, and added that if police failed to take action, he will seek intervention of the Supreme Court. The next hearing is on February 12.

When contacted, SIT in charge Manoj Jha confirmed receiving the complaint and said they probing the allegations. “It’s a delicate issue and we will verify recordings and match them with voice samples before proceeding further,” Jha said.


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HC asks cops to file fresh report in Arunachal student case (Feb 5, 2014, Indian Express)

Pulling up the Delhi Police for failing to submit post-mortem report in the Arunachal Pradesh student case, the Delhi High Court today said infrastructure in the city for examining scientific evidence in criminal cases is at a “primitive” stage. The court was reacting to the Delhi Police submission that it will require more time to submit the post-mortem report in the case.

“If you are unable to give post-mortem report in so many days in Delhi in a fast tracked case like this, what is the status of other cases. We must say the infrastructure (to examine evidence in criminal cases) is at a primitive stage in national capital,” a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice R S Endlaw said. The bench returned the status report filed by Delhi Police in the case and directed it to file a fresh one along with post-mortem findings by February 7.

The high court had on Monday taken suo motu cognisance of media reports about the killing of Arunachal Pradesh student, Nido Taniam, who was allegedly beaten by some shopkeepers here, and had asked the Centre and Delhi Police to file a report on the incident. The probe agency’s report was returned as Delhi Police’ counsel Dayan Krishnan said the nature of injuries and death of victim can’t be correlated till they receive post-mortem report which will take time.

He also said the toxicology and viscera of the victim has been sent to FSL, which is must faster. However, after the bench returned the report and directed to file a fresh one by Friday, Krishnan said that he will coordinate with AIIMS to ensure the process is speeded up. The bench had earlier also sought details of the steps taken for safety of people from North East staying in the capital.

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Rajeeve Mehra and advocate Sumeet Pushkarna today said the Ministry of Home Affairs will be filing a report regarding the measures taken for safety and security of people from North East who are staying in Delhi. 19-year-old Nido Tania, son of an Arunachal Pradesh MLA, was allegedly thrashed by some shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar area of south Delhi when he retaliated after they made fun of his hairstyle. He subsequently died on January 30. …


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2 cops held, 3 missing after probe finds they threw body from police jeep (Feb 5, 2014, Indian Express)

Two constables – Amarpal and Amit – were arrested and three others, including the station officer (SO) of Moradabad’s Mudhapandey police station, are absconding after a case was registered against them following investigations in which they were found to have carried a dead body in the police jeep before throwing it in Rampur.

The police is now investigating if the five were also involved in the kidnapping and murder of Satendra Rastogi, a jeweller, whose body they had dumped in patwai police station area last week. Some school boys claimed to have seen Rastogi’s body being thrown out from the jeep and noted down the vehicle’s number. The vehicle was found to be that of Mudhapandey police station.

Among the five policemen, constables Amarpal and Amit were arrested Monday. They were produced before a court Tuesday and sent to jail. The others, including SO Syed Mansoor and constables Muninder and Rahul, are absconding. Inspector General (IG), Law and Order, Amrendra Kumar Sengar said the investigations so far have found all five policemen accused of destruction of evidence. The police is probing their role in kidnapping and murder of the jeweller.

Station officer (SO) of Majhola police station in Moradabad, Rajendra Singh, who is also the investigating officer in the case, said there are three eyewitness to the incident. The policemen have been named in the case on the basis of statements of the eyewitnesses and other evidences, which include the cellphone records of the personnel.

Singh said, the accused had claimed to have gone to Surajanpur village in Rampur to trace a criminal. The general diary (GD) of the Mudhapandey police station, also mentions the time when they left for Rampur on police jeep and the time when they returned to the police station, he confirmed. …


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MPPEB scam: A day in STF custody, Sharma aide sings name of four BJP leaders (Feb 9, 2014, Times of India)

A day after his arrest, former state higher education minister Laxmikant Sharma’s aide OP Shukla allegedly named four BJP leaders, including three ministers of the ruling BJP in multi-crore Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board Scam (MPPEB) scam.

During questioning on Friday, he, however, has denied his own involvement in PMT-2012 scam for which he was arrested. But, STF officials are tight-lipped about it. Shukla, who served as Sharma’s officer on special duty (OSD) for long was on the run after his name surfaced in the MPPEB scam, had surrender at STF office in a dramatic manner on Thursday.

Shukla had surrendered to STF two days after his family was tipped off about a possible threat to his life by people who introduced themselves as agents of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). “Two IB officers met Shukla’s wife on February 1. They informed her that Shukla could be eliminated by those involved in the scam so it was better for him to surrender,” said one of his family members.

On February 3, Shukla’s wife reportedly met STF ADG Sudhir Sahi with proposal from her husband to surrender. Sahi agreed and asked her to send him to the office. She returned assuring the officer that he would surrender at STF office in a week. Later, the couple consulted a priest for an auspicious time. The astrologer suggested him to surrender by 11.15 am.

After intense interrogation of 8 hours, Shukla was arrested for his alleged role in the PMT-2012 case contrary to his fears that he would be nabbed for his role in contractual teachers recruitment scam. Shukla allegedly said Dr Pankaj Trivedi, the MPPEB exam controller had given him Rs 84 lakh. …


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Opinions and Editorials

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – By Manoj Mitta (Feb 17, 2014, Outlook)

When Narendra Modi visited the office of the SIT (Special Investigation Team) in Gandhinagar on March 27, 2010, it was exactly 11 months after the Supreme Court had directed it to “look into” a criminal complaint. Modi’s visit in response to an SIT summons was a milestone in accountability—at least in potential. It was the first time any chief minister was being questioned by an investigating agency for his alleged complicity in communal violence. The summons were on the complaint by Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who had been killed in the first of the post-Godhra massacres in 2002.

Jafri’s complaint, which had been referred to it by the Supreme Court on April 27, 2009, tested the SIT’s independence and integrity more than any of the nine cases that had been originally assigned to it a year earlier. Jafri’s complaint called upon it to probe allegations against 63 influential persons, including Modi himself. The complaint named Modi as Accused No. 1 for the alleged conspiracy behind the carnage that had taken place in 14 of Gujarat’s 25 districts.

A Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, authorised the SIT not only to “look into” Jafri’s complaint but also to “take steps as required in law”. The legal steps that needed to be taken immediately were self-evident. The SIT was required to examine whether the information contained in Jafri’s complaint amounted to, as Section 154 CrPC put it, “the commission of a cognizable offence”. If so, the SIT would be obliged, under the same provision, to register a first information report (FIR), which is a statutory prelude to an actual investigation. …


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The Unending Amnesia Over Hindutva Terror – By Subhash Gatade (Feb 6, 2014, Countercurrents)

… ‘Law is an ass’ a phrase which was used by Charles Dickens in ‘Oliver Twist’ in a completely different context today finds a deep resonance in this part of South Asia. And nothing illustrates this better than the predicament of what is popularly known as Hindutva terror.

The manner in which people who supposedly have been planners, masterminds, funders of the whole operations have been allowed to go scot free, the way in which one finds acquittal of accused case after case, the manner in which a supposedly secular government at the hustings has declined to ban proto-fascist organisations who were found to be involved in criminal terrorist operations or the apathy with which the media – which calls itself watchdog of democracy – has preferred to softpedal the threat it poses to the foundations of the Republic itself is unprecedented.

And the less said about the curious case of Lt Col Purohit, it is better. This gentleman, who was with the Military Intelligence Wing, is languishing in jail since last more than five years as an accused/key figure in many terror attacks, involving many RSS and other Hindutva activists but has yet not been suspended by his bosses and is in an uneviable situation the world has rarely witnessed where he is regularly receiving his salary with all the doles involved. (As an aside it need be mentioned here that this information was made available to the outside world by one of his co-accused himself – an ex army man Ramesh Upadhyaya – who filed RTI application to get the information.) And the Supreme Court has blocked the National Investigating Agency (NIA) from questioning him.

But the most urgent thing on the agenda is the fresh revelation that top leaders of the Hindutva brigade were not only very much in the know of this violent phase but were in fact its real patrons. …


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In Narendra Modi, big money backs the wrong man in India – By Pankaj Mishra (Feb 10, 2014, Livemint)

There is a great, virtual storm blowing through India today, and the most frantic people in the country seem to be those trimming their sails to it. I refer to the shrewdly concerted campaign to make Narendra Modi seem like India’s natural and inevitable leader – a veritable miracle worker who, emerging triumphant in elections due by May, will raise despondently low growth rates and restore the country’s pride and international reputation.

The chief minister of Gujarat is trailed by accusations of his complicity – and that of his closest aides – in the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in 2002, and barred, consequently, from travel to the US It is far from clear if Modi can jettison India’s unique model of collaborative capitalism and unleash entrepreneurial energies in the stagnant manufacturing sector, let alone push through much-needed investments in infrastructure and agriculture.

Furthermore, three months is a long time in politics. The rise of Modi seems much less inevitable after the stunning performance of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in New Delhi state elections. Even a favourable recent poll puts Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at least 80 seats short of a majority in the Indian Parliament; a BJP-led coalition may prove to be even more inefficient than the tottering regime under current Congress Party Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Nevertheless, Modi already seems to have been anointed in many moist eyes as India’s redeemer. The perception is a triumph of network power, involving chieftains of sectarian religious groups, politically ambitious columnists and corporate-owned TV anchors as well as the public-relations firm APCO. Armies of cyberthugs rampaging through Twitter and the comment sections of online articles have synergistically contributed to it as much as the man himself with his superb oratory and admirable hair transplant. …

As it turned out, what was good for General Motors was not good for America, or indeed the values of free societies everywhere. “It is easy to see,” as The Economist has written, “why firms are drawn to pragmatism.” But the purely pecuniary motive is not the same as sound political instinct. And shareholder value, even if boosted across several quarters, will not outweigh posterity’s damning judgment on all those guilty of a lethal abdication of moral responsibility.


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Riots and wrongs – Editorial (Feb 6, 2014, Indian Express)

The communal violence bill championed by the Congress-led UPA has been unanimously rejected by state governments and political parties. It has been nearly 10 years since the UPA first floated the bill, not very long after the 2002 Gujarat riots. It was meant to enforce accountability of the police and administrative machinery, and establish clear terms for relief and reparation. But that first version has undergone several revisions.

The NAC’s ill-conceived draft in 2011 tilted dangerously towards the Centre, overriding the states’ control of law and order. Many objected to the way the proposed law exerted all its pressure on civil servants, and sought to set up a special riots bureaucracy of “clear moral character”. Some parties objected to the way its defaults seemed to be set in favour of religious and linguistic minorities, pre-emptively assigning victimhood and responsibility.

Some of those clauses have now been amended – the central committee has been replaced with the NHRC, and the bill addresses all acts of group violence. But the bill’s fate in the Rajya Sabha has made it clear that no opposition party is willing to accept it. The government insists that the NHRC can only act with the state government’s permission, and that “control of law and order” could not apply in cases of state-sponsored violence, but opposition parties maintain that it is an incursion on states’ rights. It is clear that the UPA should stop wasting valuable parliamentary time on this project now.

This is not to say that communal violence does not need urgent attention. Muzaffarnagar, Gopalgarh and other troubled places have demolished complacencies about the waning of these tensions or the likelihood of them flaring into active conflict. Home ministry data shows a sharp 30 per cent rise in such incidents in the last year alone. The fact that these communal tensions can be used as political tinder, even now, shows that the state needs to devise new ways to contain them. The argument is about how best to do so. Does a longstanding social problem disappear by creating a new, specially named law?

A communal violence bill is no remedy if the political resolve is weak and the government dithers instead of taking prompt action. A new law will not solve the underlying issue – of making sure that in incidents of communal violence, FIRs and investigations are acted upon and followed through seriously.


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‘The Police Would Intimidate Photographers Taking Pictures Of The Riots’ – Ashok Vahie with G Vishnu (Feb 15, 2014, Tehelka)

During a recent TV debate on Rahul Gandhi’s statement on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots,HS Phoolka, advocate for the victims of the massacre for 30 years, kept waving pictures that showed the then president Giani Zail Singh’s damaged car. Apparently, a mob had pelted stones at Singh’s car on the afternoon he was on his way to AIIMS to check on then prime minister Indira Gandhi, who would soon breathe her last.

Then, as now, various Congress leaders have repeatedly asserted that the riots started “spontaneously” after news of Gandhi’s death broke at 5.30 pm on 31 October 1984. These photographs would, however, indicate a different narrative. Among the many who had witnessed the horrific riots in Delhi, photographer Ashok Vahie, 65, too remembers it as if it happened only yesterday. As a 35-year-old freelancer, he captured on his camera an event that would go down as one of the most shameful episodes in Indian history.

Thirty years later, in his small office in the narrow by-lanes of Bhagat Singh Market in Central Delhi, Vahie is reluctant to talk about the riots. His mind, unlike his camera, has captured those images of horror that can never be erased. On a February evening in his office, Vahie talks to G Vishnu of the pogrom he does not like talking about. …


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What the Death of Nido Taniam Tells Us About Racism in India – By Nilanjana Bhowmick (Feb 6, 2014, Time)

Nido Taniam was a young man from Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. The son of a state legislator, Taniam was like 20-year-olds anywhere, with his trendy haircut and love of music. Last Friday, he stopped at a shop in a market in Delhi to ask for directions. The shopkeeper and his friends made fun of Taniam’s hair and clothes and a brawl began. It ended with Taniam’s death.

This wasn’t a senseless fight over a haircut, however. It was Taniam’s East Asian features that marked him out for attack, and his death highlighted the racism that many from India’s beautiful but impoverished northeastern states are subjected to.

While not every incident ends in such a horrific manner, assaults on young men from the northeast are commonplace in Delhi. Alana Golmei, founding member of the Northeast Support Centre and helpline, says she gets half a dozen distress calls a week. “This was waiting to happen,” Golmei tells TIME.

It isn’t just physical differences that make people from the northeast stand out in a big city like Delhi. The fact that they hail from societies that are culturally more permissive than mainstream India highlights their otherness in the eyes of other Indians. A series of separatist insurgencies being waged by the indigenous peoples of the northeast also exacerbates tensions. Then there’s the fact that the northeast is geographically distinct from the rest of the country, connected to it by just a narrow strip of land known as the Siliguri Corridor.

“The identity of an Indian man [or woman] is culturally defined, and anyone who doesn’t fit that mold is an outsider,” says Pradip Phanjoubam, a fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. “Once you are out of the northeast, you have to renegotiate the question of being an Indian, as physically the northeast is a part of India but culturally it isn’t.” …


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Book Review

26/11 probe: Why Judiciary also Failed

Author: SM Mushrif
Reviewed by: Ram Puniyani
Available at: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, D-84 Abul Fazl Enclave – I, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi-110 025, India, 218 pp; Rs 275.
Mumbai’s Black Book (Feb 15, 2014, Tehelka)

Mumbai has been a victim of terrorist attacks a number of times, especially in the aftermath of the ghastly post-Babri demolition violence. The most horrific terrorist attack that shook Mumbai, however, was undoubtedly the terrorist siege on 26 November 2008 in which 126 people died and 327 people got injured. The attack was deadly and apart from other victims, Hindus and Muslims both, it took away the life of one particular police officer Hemant Karkare — the Maharashtra ATS chief, who was investigating the acts of terror in which the involvement of Hindutva groups was also coming to the surface steadily. The police version of the incident had lots of holes. The then minority affairs minister AR Antulay and many others started having serious doubts about the sequence of events presented by the police. Later, two more glaring things happened: the bulletproof jacket of Karkare went missing, and his postmortem report was not made public. An intense hue and cry was orchestrated to hang the lone terrorist survivor, Ajmal Kasab. He had the key to unravelling some of these vital queries and there were elements who wanted him hanged without a trial.

It is in this backdrop that SM Mushrif does a commendable job of collating all the available evidence and coming out with a revelatory book, Who Killed Karkare: The Real Face of Terrorism in India. In summary, Mushrif challenges the theory put forward by police and argues that apart from eight terrorists who landed from Pakistan, there were two more who were from the Hindutva groups, who had, in collaboration with the Intelligence Bureau (IB), taken advantage of the knowledge that Pakistani terrorists were coming to Mumbai. But instead of alerting the Navy and other authorities concerned, who could have averted the attack, the IB played a different game. Hindutva groups swung into action and planned to eliminate Karkare. When he was doing his job meticulously, the Hindutva political group Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna wrote in the editorial that they’d spit on the face of Karkare. The present prime ministerial candidate from BJP, Narendra Modi, called Karkare anti-national.

Mushrif pieces together all the evidences and demolishes the theory presented by the police, and proves that “the CST-Cama Hospital-Rangbhavan lane operation was planned, scripted, directed, choreographed and executed jointly by Brahminists involved in a nationwide terror plot, as disclosed in the Malegaon blast investigation”.

This book challenges the State version upfront. While several editions of the book came out, along with its multiple translations, the IB accused of masterminding the plot kept quiet about the whole thing. No challenging of the theory of the book, no banning of the book! The plan might have been to kill the book’s theory by ignoring it. A phobia was created not to talk about the theory put forward in the book. The IB seemed to have made this phobia percolate to the judiciary, with the result that the courts ignored many crucial arguments raised in the book. Still, though the case ended with the conviction of Ajmal Kasab, a careful scrutiny of the 1,588-page judgment revealed that many findings of the judgment vindicated Mushrif’s theory. Radhakant Yadav, a 77-year-old veteran socialist leader of Bihar and three-time member of the Bihar Assembly, picked up the threads of the arguments of Mushrif’s book and the positive findings of the judgment; and then went on to file a criminal writ petition in the Bombay High Court. Important points of the petition are reproduced verbatim in the book under review.

The intervention of the Court is a major hope in the case, but the State and the authorities concerned are not responding in an adequate manner. The Ram Pradhan Committee report, which went into the role of the police and other authorities concerned in the terror attacks, is being kept under wraps. The DVD enclosed in the book also has valuable footage drawn from TV channels and other sources. One major point shown by the footage is about how Karkare, the prime target of the ‘native conspirators’, was trapped. Surely, Mushrif’s first book and this brilliant sequel, are crying out for answers. Populist notions about terrorism have influenced our investigations too far. If truth is to be unravelled, an honest examination of the arguments of this book is highly imperative. It is a powerful indictment of the IB and the Hindutva groups, and should compel the authorities to give an honest answer.


IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 2nd, 2013

by newsdigest on December 3, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Snooping row: Web portal releases pictures of Narendra Modi with ‘Madhuri’ (Nov 29, 2013, DNA India), the investigative web portal, which had earlier charged BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and his aide Amit Shah with a government-sponsored snooping of a woman, has now published a picture of the Gujarat chief minister with the woman.

The pictures were taken during the first edition of the ‘Kutch Sharad Utsav’ in October 2005, the website claimed. In one of the pictures, Modi is engaged in animated conversation with IAS officer Pradeep Sharma and the woman with her face blurred.

In an alleged taped conversation between Amit Shah and Gujarat police officer G L Singhal aired by news portals Cobrapost and Gulail, Shah was instructing Singhal to closely monitor the movements of the woman referred to in the report as “Madhuri”, which is not her real name.

Shah, who is currently heading the BJP election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, is alleged to have misused his powers and the state police machinery for the illegal surveillance of a young woman in August 2009 at the behest of his “saheb.”


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Cobrapost stings Narendra Modi again, alleges Facebook, YouTube, Twitter ‘misuse’ (Dec 2, 2013, Financial Express)

Investigative website Cobrapost today alleged that IT companies are misusing social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to artificially boost politicians popularity and malign their rivals, with many firms claiming to be working for BJP and Narendra Modi. The sting, Operation Blue Virus, claims to have exposed about two dozen little known IT firms across the country, which in the garb of providing reputation management services on social media, also offer fake fan following and posting defamatory content using IP addresses of others by hacking into them. “An undercover operation by Cobrapost exposes how IT companies across the country are using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to help politicians artificially boost their popularity and malign their opponents,” Cobrapost Editor Aniruddha Bahal told a press conference.

The website said it has uncovered about two dozen such firms, which are running this “shady” online reputation management business offering clients fake fan-following on Facebook and Twitter and are doing negative publicity against a political leader or a party, or a corporate house, at the behest of their opposite camp, all for money. Bahal said Cobrapost Associate Editor Syed Masroor Hasan approached over two dozen IT companies asking them that his master (referred to as Netaji) wants to launch a campaign on social media before coming assembly elections and his rival’s reputation has to be destroyed with negative publicity. All the firms that Hasan visited offered to create a fan following (not necessarily genuine) on Facebook and Twitter, in lakhs to destroy the reputation of a political opponent of the politician, Hasan was supposedly representing, with negative publicity, Bahal claimed.

“Operation Blue Virus also reveals BJP is leading from the front in its social media campaign, if the claims of the companies exposed are to be believed. So is its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, with scores of companies working overtime for him,” Cobrapost said in a release. When asked about the reasons behind the name of only Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi figuring in conversations and not that of any other politician, Bahal said that his name cropped up in around 5-6 of the t total stings that were conducted. “Lots of people asked me if we are targeting certain people. We are not doing that. It is not a fishing expedition also. But, we believe that if somebody is doing it than we should come out with it. There is no guarantee that these firms are not working for any other party,” he told reporters.

The services that these companies offered Hasan include generating fake following by creating fake profiles or buying likes from the community of netizens, create a good fan following on Twitter, by buying packages of followers and deleting negative comments. They also offered negative publicity against “Netaji’s” opponent, employing methods not necessarily ethical or legal. They would post negative content online from countries like the US or Korea, to avoid detection of its source, use assembled computers for negative campaign and destroy them after the project is over and use proxy codes in a way that their locations change every hour, making detection difficult.

These firm also claimed to create fake profiles of Muslims to engage Muslims and change their views about Netaji and his party and offered to make the promotional videos go viral on YouTube, Bahal said. Many of these malpractices violate various laws, such as the Information Technology Act 2000, the Representation of the People Act 1951 and the Income Tax Act 1961, and are as such punishable under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Bahal said.


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Sardar Patel Hated Hyderabadi Culture: AG Noorani (Nov 30, 2013, New Indian Express)

Eminent lawyer and political commentator A. G. Noorani said India’s first home minister Sardar Patel was a “quintessential Hindu nationalist” who treated erstwhile Hyderabad State as a Muslim state and hated its culture. Noorani, whose book “The destruction of Hyderabad” was released here Friday, said Patel ordered ‘police action’ when the economic blockade was beginning to tell and Nizam would have agreed to accede to India due to pressure from many people. Giving a detailed account of the events that led to the ‘police action’ in 1948, he said there was a massacre of Muslims in Hyderabad. Noorani has also given in the book full text of the report of Sunderlal Committee on the massacre.

The legal expert said while Jawaharlal Nehru was a “quintessential secular Indian nationalist”, Patel was a “quintessential Hindu nationalist”. “While Nehru like Sarojini Naidu admired Hyderabadi culture, particularly Urdu language, Patel considered it alien and hated it.” Noorani claimed that Patel was very soft on C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer though he had asked for independence of Travancore and was also soft on Maharaja of Kashmir. He pointed out how he nominated K.M. Munshi, “who was a RSS mole in Congress party”, as India’s Agent General in Hyderabad. “Look at Patel. In one and same speech in January 1948 he attacked Maulana Azad’s patriotism and invited RSS and (Hindu) Mahasabha to join Congress. What treatment Nizam would have expected from him?”

Noorani said Patel by deciding policy on Hyderabad State took revenge on Nehru for deciding the Kashmir policy. “You don’t have a police action with one lieutenant general, three major generals, one armoured division and the air force. Only a dishonest man like Krishna Menon would have given such title and unfortunately it was adopted,” he said. Noorani, author of other books like “Jinnah and Tilak” and “Kashmir Dispute”, claimed after the police action, Patel uprooted bureaucracy in Hyderabad State by suddenly demoting Urdu and the bureaucrats from Madras, Mumbai and other places were brought. The legal expert also threw light on the role played by Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Hyderabad dispute. He said Nizam wrote letter to Jinnah after partition seeking his advice and “Jinnah seized on this”. “Jinnah’s advice was a piece of criminal irresponsibility. He said even if you don’t have ammunition, fight. He wanted Hyderabad to fight with India so that he get few points in India Pakistan cold war,” he said.

Noorani said when Lord Mountbatten gave written proposal for plebiscite in Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad, Jinnah insisted that Hyderabad be kept out. According to him, Jinnah had made an investment of Rs.2 lakh in Hyderabad. Noorani said the only hero in his book are people of Hyderabad who kept the composite secular culture alive with tolerant Telugu people of Andhra Pradesh. Media baron Ramoji Rao, who released the book, said at 83, Noorani remained a towering personality in India’s legal fraternity with extraordinary abilities to research and document. Describing him as one of the most objective authors and analysts of our times, Ramoji Rao said he was known for his candidness in expressing his views.


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BJP youth wing leader held for murder of ex-RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi (Dec 2, 2013, Times of India)

Months after home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde created a political furore by saying RSS and BJP were “promoting Hindu terrorism”, National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested a youth wing leader from the saffron party in connection with the murder of former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi. This is the first arrest of a BJP leader in connection with Hindutva terror cases.

Late on Saturday night, NIA arrested Jitendra Sharma, vice-president of Indore rural unit of BJP’s youth wing Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha from Mhow for facilitating Joshi’s killing. TOI had first reported on the probable arrest of Jitendra Sharma in February.

Mastermind of several blasts, including those in Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Malegaon targeting minorities, Joshi was killed by his own associates in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh in December 2007. Hindutva terror accused Lokesh Sharma and Rajendra Chaudhary, arrested by NIA in connection with Samjhauta Express and Malegaon blasts, allegedly killed Joshi due to a dispute over a liquor shop that they owned along with him and the alleged misbehavior of the RSS pracharak with Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts.

According to sources, Jitendra not only gave shelter to various Hindutva terror accused on several occasions but even arranged for the weapon used in Joshi’s murder and then hid it at the residence of one Dilip Jagtap. After his arrest, Lokesh had led NIA to Jagtap’s house from where the pistol was recovered from a pile of bricks. Jagtap, now in jail and related to a local Congress corporator, was the custodian of all arms and ammunition used by the group.

Interestingly, Jitendra is Lokesh’s cousin and has also represented him as a lawyer in court in the cases against him. “Jitendra has been the frontman for all the activities that the Hindutva group carried out. He provided logistics, shelter and then legal help to all the accused,” said an officer privy to investigation details. Though Jitendra was interrogated earlier too, he was not arrested as the agency was low on evidence. Sources said over the past few months, some of the accused have given statements against him under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (admissible as evidence) while certain others have expressed their desire to become approvers in the case.


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Sadiq Jamal encounter: CBI names 4 Mumbai cops (Nov 28, 2013, Indian Express)

A CBI report on the alleged fake encounter of 20-year-old Sadiq Jamal has named four police officers from Mumbai for their involvement in the case. The report, prepared by a CBI investigating team and sent to the agency’s head office in New Delhi on Wednesday, gives detailed information on the alleged role of the four officers – Pradeep Sawant, Pradeep Sharma, Daya Nayak and Sanjeev Gawde – in Jamal’s killing. The report will translate into a supplementary chargesheet once cleared by the agency’s senior officers, said an officer.

At present, Sawant is Deputy Commissioner of Police with Maharashtra ATS, while Nayak is a Sub-Inspector posted at police control room (West region). Gawde is Assistant Police Inspector attached with Mumbai Crime Branch, and Sharma, who was recently exonerated in the encounter case of Ram Narayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya in Mumbai, is under suspension.

According to Gujarat Police, Sadiq was shot in Naroda area of Ahmedabad on January 13, 2003, by a Crime Branch team of Ahmedabad, following intelligence inputs that he wanted to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP and VHP leaders. “In a joint operation, Jamal was picked up by the Crime Intelligence Unit of Andheri under the custody of the (then) police inspector Pradeep Sharma,” a CBI officer said.

“Our investigation shows that the (four) officers had played a role in Jamal’s detention. Evidence show they were aware of Jamal’s movement and the purpose of sending him to Gujarat,” said a CBI officer. “All the four have claimed they were acting on the orders of Intelligence Bureau,” said the officer.


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Attachment proceedings begin against 13 Muzaffarnagar accused (Dec 1, 2013, Business Standard)

The attachment proceedings have been initiated against 13 absconding accused in connection with the Lank village killings during the Muzaffarnagar riots.

Chief judicial magistrate KP Singh yesterday issued notices to the 13 accused under Section 82 of the CrPC, according to the prosecution of Special Investigation Team.

The accused, identified as Kapil, Nitu, Dushyant, Ajay, Sanjiv, Jagbir, Kuldeep, Mohit, Mahabir, Singh, Kalu, Satbir, and Debu, have been absconding since cases were registered against them. Six people were killed and their houses burnt during communal clash at Lank village in September 8.


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Police register cases against Ramdev’s Divya Yoga Trust (Nov 29, 2013, IBN)

Uttarakhand Police on Friday registered two more cases against Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s ‘Divya Yoga Mandir Trust’ for allegedly breaching norms in two land purchases in Roorkee town of Haridwar.

The Trust has been accused of violating the terms regarding the use of the land, officials said. With this, the number of cases registered against the Trust in past one week in land-related matters has gone up to 83.

Earlier, a total of 81 cases were lodged by Haridwar district administration against Ramdev for alleged gross violation of land laws and evasion of stamp duty. Recently, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had said that based on investigations, more cases could be registered against Ramdev’s Trust.


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AP bifurcation: GoM to recommend special status to both states (Dec 2, 2013, The Hindu)

As the Union government on Monday continued wide consultations on fine-tuning the contours of Telangana, a senior Union Minister said the Bill to create a new State out of Andhra Pradesh was ready and would be cleared by the Group of Ministers (GoM), which will meet on Tuesday evening. However, the Minister, who did not wish to be named, said “no comments,” when asked about the Rayala-Telangana issue. Highly placed government sources said “very wide consultations” were held to work out the finer details of how to go about the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

The Minister did not comment whether Kurnool and Anantapur, the two districts of Rayalaseema, would be added to the 10 districts that form Telangana to constitute a Rayala-Telangana State. “You will have to wait for the recommendations of the GoM, which will submit its report to the Union Cabinet,” the sources said. On the eve of the meeting, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh held marathon consultations with Secretaries who assisted the GoM. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde attended a meeting that went into the finer details. The GoM will send the final report to the Union Cabinet for consideration and approval of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill. Once it is approved, the Bill will be forwarded to President Pranab Mukherjee. He, in turn, will refer it to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. However, the Assembly’s approval is not mandatory for the Centre to introduce the Bill in Parliament.

The senior Union Minister told The Hindu that the proposal for inclusion of two districts from Rayalaseema in the proposed Telangana was not without issues. “Had the proposal been cleared by the Congress Working Committee in its July 30 resolution in favour of the creation of Telangana, we could have pushed through the idea without difficulty; bringing it up at this stage could lead to complications. We are not sure if the proposal would have the approval of the BJP, because without its support we cannot get the Constitution Amendment Bill through both Houses of Parliament.” Speaking on informal terms, a senior BJP leader indicated that any major deviation in the creation of Telangana would entail a rethink by the party. As things stand now, the BJP is committed to creation of Telangana, without Anantpur and Kurnool districts.

According to another Union Minister, sections of Seemandhra are not averse to inclusion of the two districts in the proposed State as it would automatically disqualify Kurnool as a possible capital of Seemandhra. “If the Centre decides to include two more districts of Rayalaseema in the proposed State of Telangana, the fate of the Bill is likely to be decided only in Parliament. The BJP might insist on moving a resolution, excluding the two districts, and as a bargaining point the government could accept it.”

The issue of Hyderabad remains contentious, as Seemandhra leaders are demanding protection for the lives and property of their people settled in Hyderabad after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the government has said it will try to bring the Bill in the winter session of Parliament, which will be held from December 5 to 20.


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Modi and Tejpal caught in similar predicaments (Nov 30, 2013, Hindustan Times)

In a curious quirk of fortune Narendra Modi and Tarun Tejpal, two bitter opponents, find themselves caught in similar predicaments, which are entirely of their own making. Both men have made a bad situation considerably worse by their foolish handling of it. Let’s start with Modi. His claim he provided protection to the woman in the Saheb tapes at her father’s request, which she fully endorsed, has raised issues that can only embarrass him. First, this was invasive surveillance not protection.

That’s why she was tailed on planes, eavesdropped at home and pursued in restaurants and cinema halls. The clincher is the fear she might escape. If she welcomed the ‘protection’ why would she run away? Second, can such surveillance be undertaken at the request of a father? Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act clearly says it cannot. That raises a third point: was this done legally or was it an abuse of power? Finally, an obvious conclusion is suggested: this was misuse of state money and resources.

I’m not sure if another explanation for the Saheb tapes would have worked better but this one has raised disturbing doubts about how Modi uses his power. These are not questions the BJP prime ministerial candidate wants asked of him. At the moment it’s only the media raising them. If the courts do so as well he could find himself in a very invidious position. Now turn to Tarun Tejpal. In an email sent to the victim on the November 19, he admitted to “sexual liaison … on two occasions … despite your clear reluctance that you didn’t want such attention from me”.

Four days later, on the 23rd, he told The Economic Times “it happened only once”, “lasted less than a minute” and was “consensual”. The same day he told The Indian Express the victim’s story is “a totally mendacious account of what happened” and claimed “I’m being framed”. Clearly, he’s either contradicting himself or consciously changing his stand. If the act was consensual and the victim’s account mendacious, why did Tejpal “unconditionally apologize”, “feel impelled to atone”, want to undertake “penance that lacerates me” and, finally, recuse himself from the editorship for six months? A man only does this if he’s sinned and at that terribly.

One possible explanation is a half sentence in Tejpal’s statement issued on the 22nd: “The complete truth and the need to do the honourable thing can come into conflict”. Does that suggest his apology, which is presumably the honourable thing, is in conflict with the truth and, therefore, not just unnecessary but also tantamount to a lie? That would only make things worse. Meanwhile, Tejpal’s lawyers have expressed a lack of faith in the Goa police – accusing them of “some malafide scheme” – presumably because he fears he won’t get justice in a BJP-ruled state. But Shoma Chaudhury called her questioning by the same police “a good experience” and “a positive experience”. …


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Cop sent to 14-day judicial custody for ‘kidnap, rape’ (Dec 2, 2013, Indian Express)

The police constable, arrested in connection with kidnapping and rape of a widow in Jamnagar, was sent to judicial custody for 14 days by a local court in Jamnagar late on Saturday. A month after the 40-year-old victim filed a complaint alleging abduction and rape, B division police of Jamnagar city arrested head constable Pancha Ahir (45) from his residence in that city. Police said that Ahir was posted in Dwarka police station.

The B Division police produced Ahir before a magistrate and sought his remand late on Saturday. However, the court did not grant police plea and instead sent the constable to judicial custody. “Ahir has confessed his involvement in the crime. He has said that he had an extra-marital affair with the woman and had taken her to Dwarka on the day of the crime in a car,” B Division police officers said on Sunday.

However, the widow came to know that Ahir had relations with other woman also. “The victim and Ahir had a fight on the night of the crime over that third woman. Eventually, they broke up and the woman filed a complaint of rape,” the police officers further said.

The victim, a mother of two daughters, had filed a complaint on November 11 stating she had been kidnapped at knifepoint by a woman and a man from Jamnagar city, taken to an unidentified place in Devebhoomi Dwarka district and raped on 10 September.


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Opinions and Editorials

Have no illusions about Narendra Modi’s idea of India – By Hasan Suroor (Nov 25, 2013, Hindustan Times)

With the entry of Narendra Modi in the electoral fray as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, it is becoming clearer by the day that Muslims are going to be the biggest elephant in the room in the run-up to what, many believe, might turn out to be one of the most communally polarised elections in independent India. The Muzaffarnagar riots have already set a chilling tone for where it is all going. Union minister Jairam Ramesh, squarely blaming the BJP, has described the riots as a “trailer” for “more communal tensions and flare-ups” ahead. The BJP’s Uma Bharti has also warned of “more tension” but accused the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) of provoking it. The SP, in turn, says that it is the Congress and the BJP which are trying to stir up trouble to woo Muslim voters.

So, there you are: a phoney competition among major political players to show that the ‘other’ is more communal is in full swing even before a proper campaign has begun. Modi’s entry has handed a flailing Congress the ammunition it desperately needed to turn it into a secularism-versus-communalism contest by casting itself as a champion of Muslims and the BJP as a threat. It is a territory on which the Congress feels at home despite having lost its credibility as a secular force. Besides, hobbled by a poor record of governance and lack of charismatic leadership, it has nothing else to crow about. Giving ample indication of his party’s election strategy, Ramesh said, “2014 is the first election, the Congress is fighting directly with the RSS, with Modi as its mukhauta (mask) and Modi’s mukhauta is development. It’s a double mukhauta. So this election is not the Congress versus the BJP but the Congress versus the RSS.”

The BJP, quick on the uptake, has launched an aggressive line of attack that includes demanding a closer scrutiny of the Congress’ record on treating minorities. In every television discussion, its spokespersons have taken to haranguing the party’s critics wanting to know why is it that the Congress is not subjected to the same level of scrutiny as the BJP. Why is it, they ask, that the Congress’ role in the 1984 anti-Sikh violence is ‘ignored’ while there is an ‘obsession’ with Modi’s alleged involvement in the 2002 anti- Muslim riots in Gujarat? It is an important question as to why the Congress is credited with secular image despite its poor record, and it must be answered.

For, leave alone the BJP, there are many disillusioned Congress supporters who are asking the same question and, in their anger, prepared to throw out the baby (secularism) with the bathwater (Congress). Let me make it clear that I am not a fan of the Congress. As a British citizen I have no stake in Indian elections except that I don’t wish to see the country of my birth overrun by forces whose vision of India is very different from the one on which its constitutional foundations were laid. Swapan Dasgupta, one of the few intellectually coherent BJP voices, argues that in a democracy there can be more than one idea of India…so, why must we keep harping only on the so-called Nehruvian idea of India. He is right, but therein lies the rub: which idea suits better the temper and demands of a society as complex and diverse as India?

Millions of Indian Muslims chose not to migrate to their supposed ‘homeland’ (Pakistan) in 1947 because they rejected the notion of nationhood based on religion and wished to live in a country where nationalism was not going to be measured in terms of their religious identity. The idea of India sold to them and which they happily embraced was this: their Indianness would not be questioned because they happened to be Muslims, had emotional links with their Pakistani relations, or some of them foolishly rooted for the Pakistani cricket team. They would not be called ‘Babar ki aulad'; and their places of worship would not be forcibly demolished in the name of ‘righting’ historical wrongs. …


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Patel’s communalism – a documented record – By A.G. Noorani (Dec 13, 2013, Frontline)

In November 1945 one of the top Congress leaders inaugurated on Marine Drive in Mumbai, just next to the Chowpati Beach, the Pransukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Pool. It was, and still is, exclusively for the use of Hindus. Its doors remain shut, even in 2013, for Muslims and other communities. No prizes for guessing who that top leader was. There was one and only one top Congress leader who would have done the deed, namely, Vallabhbhai Patel. For long a plaque on the frontage of the premises boldly proclaimed his achievement.

Its implications were lost on none. The astute advocate of the two-nation theory, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was quick to seize on it. In a statement issued on November 18, 1945, from New Delhi, in a rejoinder to Patel’s speech at the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) session, Jinnah said, “As to his other slogans that Hindus and Muslims are brothers and one nation, the less Sardar Patel talks about it [the] better. It does not come with any grace from his mouth, at any rate. For did not Mr Vallabhbhai Patel perform the opening ceremony of swimming bath in Bombay meant exclusively for Hindus? Has he forgotten that some young men demonstrated protesting against his participation in the opening ceremony of the swimming bath which excluded the Muslim brethren even sharing the sea-water” (The Nation’s Voice, Volume IV, Waheed Ahmad ed., 1947, 3/3). Neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) would have stooped to this. Nehru had good reason to write in his Autobiography: “Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak” (page 136).

Patel is best judged by the cabal which idolises him today. L.K. Advani: At Ayodhya on November, 19, 1990: “Henceforth, only those who fight for Hindu interests would rule India.” October 2, 1990: “Secular policy is putting unreasonable restrictions on Hindu aspirations.” To the BBC: “It would not be wrong to call the BJP a Hindu party” (Organiser, August 5, 1989; emphasis added, throughout). On October 17, 1989, The Times of India editorially censured him: “Mr Advani while holding forth on ‘Bharat Mata’, now goes so far as to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation” (for details vide the writer’s book The RSS and the BJP, LeftWord, Chapter 4, “The RSS and Gandhi”). The BJP’s affection for Gandhi is a recent and calculated development.

Narendra Modi, an erstwhile protege who ousted Advani from the pedestal, follows the line with greater gusto. “The nation and Hindus are one. Only if Hindus develop will the nation develop. Unity of Hindus will strengthen the nation,” he said in the presence of the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at a Hindu Samajotsava organised by the RSS in Mangalore. He said: “In Gujarat, an ordinary swayamsewak of the RSS [that is, Modi himself] is toiling to make Gujarat the number one State in the country,” and added that he had “spent his entire life for Hindu Samaj” (Organiser, February 11, 2007).

Recently in an interview to Reuters, after his succession was all but sealed, Modi was asked, “But do you think you did the right thing in 2002?” He replied, “Absolutely”. He was also asked, “People want to know who is the real Modi—Hindu nationalist leader or pro-business Chief Minister.” Modi amply proved the truth of Nehru’s remark quoted at the beginning of this article: “I am a nationalist. I’m patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I am a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So, I am a Hindu nationalist. So, yes, you can say I’m a Hindu nationalist because I’m a born Hindu” (Indian Express, July 13, 2013). This is the very man who aspires to be our next Prime Minister. …


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Honoring Hate: Public Felicitation of Riot Accused – By Ram Puniyani (Nov 26, 2013,

In November 19 Communal violence has tormented our country, more so from last three decades in particular. From the decade of 1980s its form has taken very menacing proportions and the country bleeds from time to time with the death of innocents, and at the same time takes place political ascendance of those behind engineering the violence. As such this violence does not begin with the weapons or the strong arms. It begins in the mind, with the idea of ‘hate’ for other community. This Hate is constructed around the falsification of history and the present, both, as per the contingency of the communal force.

Communal forces translate this Hate through local idiom, to spread the violence in particular areas. The nature of violence is not static; it keeps changing its form, from place to place and with the time. Beginning as an urban phenomenon, now it is being reached to small towns and villages. Those instigating the violence are the ones’ who benefit from it politically and electorally. The key to involve the foot soldiers into the acts of violence is to put in their minds the fright minority community. This fright of the minorities has been successfully propagated and made the part of the understanding of large sections of society. The result is that those spreading Hate also claim to be saving ‘their community’ ‘their religion’ and that’s how they emerge politically taller after the bloodshed and violence.

In a political rally which was later addressed by the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Nov 21, 2013, two BJP MLAs, who are alleged to be instrumental in spreading Hatred against minorities by giving the Hate speeches revolving around the theme of ‘the honor of our daughter-sisters is in danger’ from the religious minorities. One of them uploaded a video clip on face book, which showed the brutal killing of two youth by a Muslim looking crowd. As such the clip was from Pakistan, it was projected as being the one which happened in Muzaffarnagar. These two BJP MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, accused of inciting communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, were felicitated on Thursday (Nov 21) at the rally in Agra. As a part of clever strategy the felicitation of these ‘Hate mongers’ was done before Modi took the stge. Both these MLAs are currently out on bail. How do we understand this public celebration of the accused? On one hand their role in the violence and on the other their felicitation?

In recent times we have seen the three major carnages, Delhi anti-Sikh, Mumbai and Gujarat Anti Muslim and Kandhmal Anti-Christian. The two leaders who were behind the violence in Mumbai and Gujarat, emerged as the Hindu Hriday Samrat (emperor of Hindu hearts), after their role in the violence. The first one is late Balasaheb Thackeray. His role in the Mumbai violence was chronicled by Srikrishna Commission report. This report indicted him of leading the violence like a General. The report points out “From the conversation which could be heard [by Yuvraj Mohite, Mahanagar Reporter, at Thackray house during the riots], it is clear that Thackeray was directing Shiv Sainiks, Shakha Pramukhs and other activists of Shiv Sena to attack the Muslims, to ensure that they give tit for tat and ensure that ‘not a single landya (a derogatory word used for Muslims) would survive to give the evidence’ [vol.ii, Page 173-174] While the report aptly describes his role which deserved severe punishment, in popular psyche he was successful in projecting that it is due to him and his boys (Shiv Sainiks), that Hindus were safe. And so he started being called Hindu Hriday Samrat. The violence paid rich dividends to his party Shiv Sena, it came to power in Maharashtra Assembly along with their ally BJP, after the violence.

As per Gujarat carnage, no official report has come out yet, but the major Citizens Tribunal report, coordinated by Citizens for Justice and Peace, outlined the role of Modi led state in the violence. Similarly the international women’s tribunal summarized the situations as follows, “…the various arms of state were complicit both in the initial attacks on Muslim community as well as the later continuing violence. The state and central Government both played a major role in Gujarat violence causing sexual violence to women, destroying property and killing members of Muslim community. The acts of continuing violence and denial of all rights to Muslim community could not have happened without the complicity of the state and its institutions. The role and functioning of Gujarat Government has directly been influenced by the penetration of Sangh Parivar. This fact underlies the conduct of the state before, during and after the peak period of the pogrom.” …


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Indian Mujahidin and Hindutva Terrorists – By A. Hameed Yousuf (Nov 22, 2013,

India Mujahidin (IM), in the first sight it seems to be an organization operated by Muslims. ‘Mujahidin’ (or mujahidoon) is plural of Arabic word ‘mujahid’ meaning ‘one who exerts efforts for the sake of Allah (not necessarily fighting). However, now a days ‘mujahid’ has come to be considered synonymous to ‘fighter’. So, according to the common notion, IM should be the Indian front of those fighting for God’s rule on the earth. Is it really so? Many would say ‘Yes’. But the belief of those impartial people in know of the affairs would be ‘No’.

Anyone who fights for the sake of his/her religion seeks benefits for its adherents. Judged against this criterion IM becomes a complete failure. The word IM has inflicted much damage to Indian Muslims. As for any good to the community by this name, it is zero. Surprisingly, Muslims do not believe that there is any such outfit called Indian Mujahidin. To them, IM is just an excuse coined by the anti-national elements to harass Muslim youth. Despite repeated demands to disclose whereabouts of the so-called outfit the investigating agencies are unable to even locate its head office! What is its agenda and who are its founders, there is nothing to prove these things except imagined confessions. Isn’t it an interesting scenario? It is more true’ especially in view that hundreds of Muslim youth are arrested for their alleged links with the outfit?

Had there been anything like IM the agencies could have long ago gathered enough data to crack down on its associates and eliminate it. In near past, one Yasin Bhatkal was arrested. But his arrest too did not help in acquiring information about the organization. Bhatkal was one of the most wanted persons of IM. He is said to be among the founders of IM. People who believe in the existence of Indian Mujahidin can guess that it would be working for Muslims. But the reality is that the name IM has been inflicting much damage to Muslims. It not only defames them as a religious community but also impedes their social, educational and economic development.

The infamous Batla House encounter saw the education of two brilliant students having come to an end. Besides, it gave a terror tag to their families, their village, district and the community they belong. The two deceased students Atif and Sajid were said to be the members of Indian Mujahidin; which is yet to be proved. Besides, several youth are nabbed after each blast making the future of their families bleak. In connection with the recent serial blasts which took place shortly before Modi’s address to a rally in Patna, various Muslim youth have been arrested. They are accused of having links with Indian Mujahidin.

The organization, which some claim exists only on papers, is believed to be responsible for the blasts. The blasts allowed Modi to shoot a statement declaring him pitched against ‘terror’. Coming days after the blasts, the statement of Modi that in the coming elections the battle will be between him and CBI & IM is an attempt to show himself a victim of terror. The Patna blasts investigation is underway and the responsibility is yet to be fixed. One wonders as to how Modi knew that it were IM men who executed the blasts at his rally avenue. Did the terrorists convey such a message to him? …


  • The First Terrorist Of Independent India – By Subhash Gatade (Nov 17, 2013, Countercurrents)The First Terrorist Of Independent India – By Subhash Gatade (Nov 17, 2013, Countercurrents)

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Tarun Tejpal vs Narendra Modi – By Faraz Ahmad (Nov 25, 2013,

Its been exactly two weeks (November 7 and 8) since a brave young journalist from Tehelka magazine, based in Mumbai, allegedly faced sexual assault for two consecutive days from her proprieter Editor-in-Chief, the much celebrated journalist Tarnun Tejpal in his Think Fest in Goa. Day before yesterday (November 23) she even announced that she was being pressurized by members of Tarun’s family to withdraw the complaint. But has she made the Police complaint? The media is bombarding Tehelka managing editor Shoma Choudhary with the question why has she not filed a police complaint against her now recused boss, who will anyway pay her salary every month, never mind the recusing business. But what about the victim? She is a very brave girl. She has made bold not just to elaborately describe the sexual assault on her in great detail, leaving nothing to imagination, but has circulated the e-mail containing the description among her office colleagues, which in turn has been widely publicized and is now in public domain, which is fine, for it helps the people outside to assess the level of depravity of her assaulter. She was bold enough to immediately go and report the assault to her colleagues the very first night of the assault, though she did not take any action that night, nor did they presumably because as she wrote, first she didn’t want the Robert De Niro show spoilt, and two she was also apprehensive about her own future. Understandable!

She put up with the assault the next day again and then mentioned it to her friend and the Editor’s daughter. That’s very commendable. After which she waited for seeing off De Niro since she was the chief protocol officer, granted. Her decision to postpone any action till the legendary film hero boarded his flight back home is even more courageous, considering the ordeal she faced. But that was on November 10. What after that? Why did she not go to the Goa Police right away. Maybe she was apprehensive of the consequences. But curiously she waited for full eight days to bring her ordeal to the notice of the managing editor Shoma Chaaudhary. The whole thing blew up on November 20. Immediately we had a senior most BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley spring to action demanding police action against Tarun, reminding that the law on rape has been amended, because of which Tarun’s alleged act also amounted to rape. Since then the media has been grilling Shoma Chaudhary why she has not proceeded with the proper legal course, of reporting the matter to the Goa Police. In the meanwhile the Goa police taking suo motu notice of the alleged assault within its jurisdiction has proceeded with the necessary action. We will come to Jaitley presently.

But what about the victim? She is a perfectly educated girl, a reporter based in Mumbai, reporting similar acts as a matter of routine in her line of duty. She has a good family background with necessary understanding of crime and law. The moment some members of Tarun’s family contacted her mother ostensibly to suppress the crime, she put out one more e-mail in public domain to prevent the building up of any further pressure on her. But the moot question still remains why did she not take the proper legal course easily available to her and how long does she want to wait? In the meantime Arun Jaitley has put the Indian media on trial over this sexual assault, rightly so. Jaitley the legal eagle has pointed out that the victim’s complaint makes out a clear case of rape. Jaitley asks, “Why was the offence not allowed to be reported forthwith?” That is the point. Was someone holding back the victim or she chose not to report the matter to the police, for reasons best known to her? Just to point out to Jaitley, Shoma Choudhary told the media that it was not for her but for the victim to lodge a police complaint. Jaitley has his own political reasons to arrive at this conclusion. He has to link this to the Congress party simply because Tehelka has done exposes after exposes against Jaitley’s mentor and saviour Narendra Modi. Besides we were in the thick of Modi’s stalking affair when this development overtook the Snoopgate scandal.

After all only the other day Jaitley stoutly and shamelessly defended the indefensible act of Modi by calling the snooping, telephone tapping and stalking of a young woman by the Gujarat police under instructions of his factotum and the then MoS Home of Gujarat Amit Shah at the instance of “Saheb” Narendra Modi. Never mind the fact that some small time police officials and sundry private investigators are still being arrested for illegally passing on Jaitley’s call data record (CDRs) to private detectives, apparently investigating Jaitley’s wealth, about which even Jaitley is not certain whether this was an in house job, meaning his fellow BJP leaders prying into his private life. So if the Delhi Police constables attempt to pry into Jaitley’s privacy, they deserve to be arrested kept in incarceration for long period and tried for committing a crime. But nobody dare raise a question why and how the Gujarat Chief Minister, the Home Minister and the state’s anti terror squad were stalking and snooping upon the privacy of a young woman. That, as Jaitley would have us believe, is “Protection”, for Jaitley says Modi can commit no wrong. Hear, hear, hear! A true legal wizard spake and his word is the Oracle.

Curiously the tehelka assault took place in Goa on November 7 and 8. The Cobrapost-Gulail tapes came out on November 12 and the whole issue blew up on November 20, when it appeared that Snoopgate was becoming unmanageable. True Tarun Tejpal deserves the severest punishment for his act and the law needs to act against him, but let the victim come forward and lodge a police complaint. These days she can even send an e-mail to the Director General of Goa Police. But what about Modi? Should the law remain perpetually deferential to him and what about our leading national legal practitioner and the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha? Shouldn’t he be held accountable for his outrageous defence of Narendra Modi?


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Yes, No, Can’t Say – By Madhavi Tata (Dec 9, 2013, Outlook)

When the Congress Working Committee announced its decision to endorse the Telangana idea in July this year, the euphoria among statehood proponents was overwhelming. But four months down the line, the jubilation has been overtaken by confusion over the status of Hyderabad and whether the bill would be introduced in Parliament’s winter session. While Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and others maintain that the bill will be introduced in December, many fear the coming assembly poll results could influence the T-decision. A senior party MP told Outlook, “The bill is most likely to be introduced in a special session in January…there are several issues to be dealt with in its preparation.”

Ever since the Congress leadership announced its decision, it has had to face a raging agitation in Rayalaseema and Andhra, and a defiant CM Kiran Kumar Reddy who’s emerged as the most vocife-rous opponent of the division. Even in Telangana, the Congress cadre who were buoyant earlier now fear the delay is eroding the party’s support base. “Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K. Chandrasek-hara Rao is still viewed as the statehood deal’s biggest hero. If the Congress continues to vacillate, the people of Telangana will not forgive it,” says G. Vivek, MP, who jumped ship from Congress to the TRS. The TRS has been bargaining for a “clean Telangana”, asking for 10 districts with Hyderabad as capital. KCR has refused to merge his party with the Congress so far, saying that any dilution in size is unacceptable to his party. The Group of Ministers dealing with the modalities of carving out Telangana also appears to be stuck on Hyderabad’s status.

The Telangana lobby is vehemently against a Union Territory status to Hyderabad while the Seemandhra lot want either UT status or special concessions. Seemandhra ministers like M.M. Pallam Raju, Daggubati Purandeswari and K. Chiranjeevi want UT status for Hyderabad. T-leaders want the jurisdiction of the capital to be restricted to the revenue district of Hyderabad. Seemandhra leaders, on the other hand, want a larger common territory which would include some contiguous districts. This tangle is expected to keep the GoM busy for a longer time.

Meanwhile, strong united AP votaries like the Congress’s Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal insist that there isn’t enough time to pass the statehood bill. “Given the various stages such as the Union cabinet meet, the assembly discussion, sending the bill to the President, and then the two Houses of Parliament passing the bill, this could drag on till February. At the time, the BJP is most likely to say that elections are too close by and will prevent a ‘lame-duck government’ from passing the bill. The Telangana state will not be a reality before the 2014 elections,” he says firmly.

CM Kiran Kumar Reddy has also asserted that the division will not be a reality. “It is not about my fight alone, the Congress understands the implications for such a large state,” he told scribes. Rajagopal feels the Congress will not win either in Telangana or Seemandhra if the T-state is granted. “KCR is the ‘hero’ there, so Congress will not make any major gains. But in Seemandhra, if the UPA reverses the decision, it could still win some seats,” the MP says. Meanwhile, Shinde and Digvijay Singh have been consistently asserting that Telangana is a done deal by 2014. Union minister S. Jaipal Reddy has reportedly presented to the Centre a list of legal and constitutional provisions whereby the statehood bill can be passed smoothly in both Houses. The Telangana lobby in the meantime waits with optimism for the final package to be delivered.


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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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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 7th, 2011

November 8, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Anti-Sikh Massacres of 1984: Indian American group demands speedy justice for riot victims News Headlines Cops were punished for controlling riots : Ex-DGP 2002 Gujarat riots witness stabbed to death in Ahmedabad Probes find 3 links between Sohrab and Haren cases Call Sanjiv Bhatt for deposition, Mallika […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 26th, 2011

September 26, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines ‘Saffron terror’ role being probed CBI grills four BJP leaders Gujarat gripped by fear: Mallika Sarabhai Muslims unimpressed by Modi’s fast Activists claim police and Hindutva hand in Bharatpur riot killings Azamgarh resident missing; detained by ATS, claims Media Seven ABVP volunteers detained in Pune Bombay […]

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