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Hindutva Terrorism

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 8th, 2013

by newsdigest on April 9, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Godhra mosque opens doors to Hindus for a day (Apr 8, 2013, Times of India)

The Muslim dominated area ofPolanBazar in Godhra is considered the ground zeroof the 2002 riots. But on Sunday, a mosque here built a unique bridge across the communal divide by opening its doors to people, mostly Hindus. Hundreds of parents had escorted their children from far-off places to the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) centre at Iqbal High School in Polan Bazar not far from the Sheikh Majhawar Masjid. They had a tough time standing under the scorching sun, waiting for the exam to finish. But, help came from an unexpected quarter. Sayeed Meetha, maulvi of the mosque, welcomed them in. Not only did the parents get much-needed rest but the mosque staff also served them refreshments.

“The parents had come from far-off places to help their kids realize their dreams. I saw them looking around for water and a place to rest and decided to open the mosque for them. Humanity is the most important religion. Nothing is more sacred than helping others,” Meetha told TOI. The mosque is located on the Sheikh Majhawar graveyard, which is believed to be one of the biggest in Asia. Hundreds of parents from Surat, Valsad, Bharuch and Dahod flocked to the five exam centres in Godhra for JEE.

“Usually only men are allowed inside the mosque and that too after they wash themselves. But I approached the maulvi with request to allow women and children inside and he agreed,” said Farooq Ahmed Kesri, 50, who sponsored water and snacks. “Those waiting in heat were not Muslims, Hindus or Christians. They were all parents of aspiring engineers.” Chetna Joshi, a housewife from Lunavada, who came with her son, said, “It was a touching gesture from the mosque’s caretakers as it would have been very difficult for women and children to spend hours on the road in such heat.”

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Dipda Darwaja massacre: SIT moves HC against acquittals (Apr 5, 2013, Indian Express)

The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has moved the Gujarat High Court appealing against the acquittal of 61 persons in the 2002 Dipda Darwaja massacre case and against the murder charge being dropped against 22 persons in the case. A special trial court had, in July last year, acquitted 61 persons in the case and convicted 21 persons under attempt to murder charge and one under the charge of dereliction of duty.

Special public prosecutor in the case in the HC, Manisha Lavkumar, confirmed that the SIT has filed the appeals but that the appeals have not come up on board for hearing. According to the prosecutor, they have moved an appeal against total acquittal of 61 persons in the case. She added that the SIT has also moved appeal against the acquittal of 22 persons from the case who were otherwise convicted under attempt to murder and dereliction of duty charge.

Twenty one persons were convicted in the case under the attempt to murder charge and were condemned to life imprisonment by the special court. Total 11 persons were killed in the massacre reported from the Visnagar town of Mehsana district of north Gujarat on February 28, 2002.


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Don’t want Modi to do in India what he did in 2002: Tewari (Apr 5, 2013, Hindustan Times)

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi should not do in the “rest of India what he did in 2002”, union minister Manish Tewari said on Friday in a reference to the sectarian violence in the state. The information and broadcasting minister said he “often worries at the statement of the Gujarat chief minister” – the BJP leader had said in Gandhinagar on Thursday that he had repaid the debt of Gujarat and was now being asked by people to repay India’s debt, leaving many to speculate that he was eyeing the prime minister’s post.

“As someone who believes in the idea of India and the plurality of the Indian ethos and is committed to the founding values of the India constitution, I often worry at the statement of the state of chief minister of Gujarat and hope he does not want to do in the rest of India what he did in 2002,” Tewari said on the sidelines of an event here, referring to the 2002 Gujarat riots in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims were killed.

Modi was last week inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary board, the top decision-making body in the party, which is being largely seen as a a precursor to his being formally nominated its prime ministerial candidate. Addressing a function in Gandhinagar, Modi had said: “Log kah rahe hain Narendra Modi ne Gujarat ka karz chuka diya hai ab Hindustan ka karz chukane ko kah rahe hain (People are saying that I have repaid the debt of Gujarat and they are now asking me to repay the debt owed to India).”

Taking another swipe at the Gujarat chief minister, Tewari wondered at “the obsession of some people with US visas”. The US has said that Modi, who was denied a US visa for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was welcome to apply though there has been no change in the US administration’s stand on a visa for him.

Following the visit of a US congressional delegation to Gujarat last week, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Thursday in Washington: “With regard to Mr. Modi, our lines have not changed here. He is welcome to apply.” “All visa decisions are made on a case by case basis, and I’m not going to prejudge it here,” the spokesperson added.


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Death penalty for 3 cops, life term for 5 in Gonda fake encounter case (Apr 5, 2013, IBN)

Death sentence was awarded to three policemen and life term was doled out to five others by a special CBI court in the 31-year-old fake encounter case in Gonda district, which led to the death of 13 persons, including the Deputy Superintendent of Police. Special CBI judge Rajendra Singh awarded death sentence to the then SHO, Kaudia RB Saroj, head constable Ram Nayak and constable Ram Kara,n holding them responsible for hatching the conspiracy of murder.

Those who have been awarded life sentence include the then PAC commandant Ramakant Dixit, sub-inspectors Naseem Ahmad, Mangala Singh, Parvez Hussain and Rajendra Prasad Singh. The court had on March 29 passed the judgement convicting eight policemen and had fixed April 5 to pronounce the quantum of punishment. Deputy SP and circle officer KP Singh and 12 other people were killed in the fake encounter in Madhopur village in March, 1982.

Police initially claimed that Singh was killed by criminals, but his wife Vibha Singh suspected foul play and moved the Supreme Court, which ordered a CBI inquiry. The CBI filed chargesheet against 19 policemen of which 10 died during the trial. Later, one policeman Prem Singh was acquitted of the charges. Manoj Shukla, a victim, was quoted as saying, “My father died in that fake encounter. I am very happy with the decision.”


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Hindutva activists force authorities to stop construction of mosque in Udupi (Apr 6, 2013,

Hindutva activists stalled the construction of a mosque that had completed all legal formalities, in the village of of Gangolli in Udupi, Karnataka. Madrasa Misbah ul uloom is an Islamic seminary imparting education for the past 35 years in the village. Due to increased space requirement, the Madrasa sought to construct a mosque, for which, according to the Madrasa board, all legal formalities were complete.

Moulana Abdul Basit Nadwi, the Madrasa Secretary told reporters, that the construction was also approved by the district authorities after inspecting the proposed site. But the Gangolli Gram Panchayat, under pressure from Hindutva activists, has repeatedly tried to stop the construction, in violation of the rights granted to citizens of India, to follow any religion and to construct places of worship in country, irrespective of caste and creed. Gangolli according to many is the most communally sensitive area in Udupi, and Hidutva activists have for years tried to instigate religious hatred among communities.

On Tuesday April 2, members of Hindu Jagaran Vedike staged a massive protest in front of the office of Gangolli Gram Panchayat, against the construction of Mosque. They also threatened full scale communal violence, if authorities did not stop what they refer to as the, ‘illegal construction of Mosque’. The administration board of the Masjid has decided to go to the High court for the resolution of the issue.


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Minorities panel seek action against police over arrest of WB (Apr 5, 2013, IBN)

Maharashtra Minorities Commission today sought action against a Vasai police officer for wrongly arresting 26 persons hailing from West Bengal on the charge of being illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The arrests were made from a construction site in neighbouring Vasai last December, Commission chairman Munaf Hakim said.

Two of the arrested had told police that other 24 were Bangladeshis, but police did not check documents like identity cards and voters list, he said. Instead, police tore up the documents offered by the accused, he alleged. The court acquitted them on April 3 after they submitted relevant documents, he said.

The concerned police inspector should be suspended for dereliction of duty, he said, in a letter to Home Minister R R Patil. The Commission looked into the matter after Union Minister Tariq Anwar pointed out that those arrested were from MP Abdul Manna’s constituency in West Bengal, he said.


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Why blame Muslim community for all bomb blasts, Katju asks media (Apr 8, 2013, The Hindu))

Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju on Sunday lashed out at media for “demonising” the entire Muslim community whenever bomb blasts occurred, and declared that he would not allow it to do such “devilish” things. Whenever bomb blasts occurred, television channels start showing, within an hour, that an e-mail or SMS had come either from the Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed or the Harkat-ul-Jihad, claiming responsibility. Justice Katju was addressing a symposium on “Reporting terror: how sensitive is the media?” organised by The Hindu here.

Pointing out that an SMS or e-mail could be sent by any mischievous person, he said when TV channels showed them and the print media published it the next day, the message they were sending was that all Muslims were terrorists and that “they have nothing to do except to throw bombs.” Terming it a “totally irresponsible behaviour” which promoted communalism, he asked: “Do you have freedom to spread communalism.” He would not allow media to do “such devilish things. You will have to have responsibility in national interest.”

Freedom was not absolute and every freedom was subjected to reasonable restriction in public interest. Unfortunately, Muslims were discriminated against in various spheres, including jobs, getting bank loans and houses on rent. “You must address these problems.” Justice Katju cited poverty, injustice and discrimination as the main causes of terrorism and called for creating a just social order. There was discrimination against minorities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This would give rise to injustice and, therefore, to terrorism. Terrorism could not be eliminated until poverty and discrimination were abolished.

He said the British decided the policy of divide and rule after the 1857 Mutiny and made Hindus and Muslims fight against each other. This poison was injected year after year until it resulted in a fake partition. He described Pakistan as a “fake” country and expressed the hope that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh would be re-united in 20 years.

The event was moderated by the Editor of The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan, and Nalsar University Vice-Chancellor Faizan Mustafa, Cyberabad Police Commissioner Dwaraka Tirumala Rao and civil liberties leader G. Haragopal were the panel members. They focused on the trends in media, the electronic media in particular, on reporting terror-related incidents. The panel members called for caution and restraint while reporting such incidents, as there were concerns that over-reporting of crime was in a way serving the purpose of the perpetrators. They wanted the media to ensure that it was not used as a propaganda tool by extremists whose aim was to strike terror in the minds of people.


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Activist seeks info on terror camps, MHA provides Shinde’s clarification (Apr 5, 2013, Times of India )

In what could be described as a double whammy for the Congress, after Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde made a U-turn on his comments on Hindu terrorism, the ministry of home affairs did not provide information about terror camps being operated by theRashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party, when asked under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The ministry, instead, provided the copy of Shinde’s clarification and said the “home minister has issued a clarification on February 20, clarifying the position.”

The political furore over Shinde’s comment on BJP and RSS conducting terror camps, though died down after the minister tendered an apology, caused embarrassment to the government. In an RTI response, the ministry denied information. The questions could be irrelevant since the minister has already apologised for his comment.

Shinde had said, during Congress’ Jaipur conclave, in January, “We have got an investigation report that be it the RSS or BJP, their training camps are promoting Hindu terrorism.” He later clarified that he meant saffron and not Hindu terrorism. The comment was strong enough to leave BJP livid, which demanded that the minister either apologise or be sacked. Shinde later backpedalled and retracted his statement by issuing a clarification and also regretting his statement.

In January, activist Urvashi Sharma had sought certified copies of all records available with the government based on which the home minister had accused RSS and BJP of conducting terror training camps and promoting “Hindu terrorism”, from the PMO. The response which came more than two months after the application was made, said the government has no records available on any of the information sought.

The query had also sought certified copies of information on location within India and/or abroad of RSS and BJP terror training camps; certified copies of records available with the government on action taken against BJP and RSS to ban them for running terror training camps; certified copies of prevailing national/international rules/regulations/treaties/Government Orders as per which “terrorism” has been divided on the basis of religion/caste/creed/sect etc.; certified copies of list and all records available with the government on cases of infiltration and/or insurgency and case wise actions taken by government.


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Deepak Bhardwaj murder: Yoga guru arrested, prime accused escapes (Apr 5, 2013, Times of India)

In a late night swoop on the outskirts of Indore, a special team of Delhi Police crime branch arrested yoga guru Avinash Shastri in connection with the murder of high profile businessman-BSP leader Deepak Bhardwaj. Avinash Shastri, who is also a member of Bangarda gram panchayat, was arrested by a joint team of Delhi Police crime branch and the cops of Aerodrum police station area here late on Thursday night.

Avinash Shastri, 40, is believed to know the absconding prime accused in the case Swami Pratibhanand. During initial interrogation, the arrested yoga guru revealed that Swami Pratibhanand had stayed for two days recently at a ashram in Devdharam Tikri on the banks of Narmada river in Indore, but had left the place on Wednesday. Avinash gave shelter to the Swami at the ashram for two days, Aerodrum police station in-charge Akhilesh Divedi told TOI.

A special team of Delhi Police crime branch, through mobile phone surveillance, had recently traced Swami Pratibhanand’s location around Indore, after which it raided the Devdharam Tikri Ashram on Thursday night, but failed to find the absconding prime accused in the case, who had left the place a day ago. The crime branch team later found Avinash Shastri at his house (near the ashram) at a colony below Pitra Parwat and arrested him and left for New Delhi early on Friday.


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Controversial Bhagya Laxmi Mandir in Hyd is ‘unauthorized’ structure built after 1959: ASI (Apr 5, 2013,

The Archeological Survey of India, in a RTI reply, finally conceded that the controversial Bhagya Laxmi Mandir, adjacent to historical Charminar is a recently constructed ‘unauthorized’ structure. At the end of the last year, Bhagya Laxmi Mandir kept the whole Hyderabad on tenterhooks where due to its continuous illegal extensions, violent communal clashes broke out between Majlis-e-Itehadul Muslimeen and Sangh Parivar activists. This controversial Mandir issue polarized whole of Hyderabad, where even leaders from Congress party on the line of Sangh Parivar started blindly supporting temples illegal extension. Moreover, some politicians and right wing Hindu religious leaders even suggested that Bhagya Laxmi Mandir is older than 420 year old Charminar. The Mandir issue also affected the state politics where MIM parted way with its traditional ally Congress, terming its Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy ‘communal’ for facilitating Mandir extension in the protection of police force.

ASI also came under attack from heritage activists for taking mute spectator stand during the whole controversy, though Charminar comes directly under its supervision. Many people thought, ASI is going the Babri Masjid way on the whole issue. When The Hindu newspaper created sensation in Hyderabad and in the whole country, by publishing images of Charminar from 1940’s showing no existence of controversial temple structure, Right wing leaders termed those pictures bogus, and labeled The Hindu a Communist mouth piece. ASI, as always was mute and refrained from commenting on the authenticity of the images published in The Hindu. At the height of this controversy city based Heritage and civil rights activist Syed Qutubuddin Masood filed an application under Right to Information (RTI) with the ASI in December last year. Questioning ASI on the authenticity of the images published in the newspaper and its stand on the temple structure. When 30 days limitation period was expired and no reply was received, Masood had to file a complaint for delay, in the ending days of January. He finally received a reply from ASI, making public its official position.

ASI in its reply, a copy of which is with, to Masood on 17th January denied any delay in the reply, and attached a reply later dated 3-12-2012. In the reply ASI refused to give any authentication of images published in the newspapers, but provided its own three official photographs of Charminar in the span of 53 years from its archives. The 1959 photograph of Charminar provided by ASI clearly shows that there was no sign of any temple at south eastern minaret of Charimnar. In 1980 image, a structure of Mandir can be seen cropping up, in the 2003 image provided by ASI a complete temple with tarpaulin sheet can be viewed. This now ‘officially’ refutes the argument of Right wing Hindu groups that Bhagya Laxmi Mandir existed before Charminar. Based on the documents and evidence available with ASI, it termed the temple unauthorized structure, as according to ASI rules no fresh structure could be constructed near 100 meters of ASI protected monument. ASI in its reply to 5th question in RTI query clearly stated, “As per Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR) (1958), Rules 1959, AMASR Act, 2010 (amendment and validation) the construction of temple in the south eastern minaret of Charminar has considered by Archeological Survey of India as unauthorized structure.”

Speaking to TCN, SQ Masood said he decided to file this RTI in the backdrop of rhetoric from communal politicians and religious leaders that Bhagya Laxmi Mandir is older than Charminar when The Hindu took that bold step and published vintage images of Charminar without any bit of mandir near to the historical monument. Masood said his basic aim behind filing this RTI was to take the official stand of the ASI on the images published in The Hindu and to clarify its continuous ambiguous position on the disputed structure. Masood though got the reply from ASI making clear its position on controversial temple, but he still feels ASI tried to bury its irresponsible behavior where it ran away when historical Charminar needed it the most. In the 4th question asking whether ASI received any representations or complains on this issue, ASI according to Masood made a blatant lie and denied receiving any representation, while the fact is many heritage protection organizations and individuals gave representations to ASI pleading their immediate intervention in the issue.

Masood said that as ASI has given permission to inspect it files regarding Charminar, he will take a delegation of heritage activists to the office to scrutinize more files and documents regarding the official history of Charminar and the disputed structure of Bhagya Laxmi Mandir. Masood added, given the sensitivity of the issue, he doesn’t want to make public his RTI query, fearing another round of communal hate mongering on the controversial structure. But recently his RTI query was leaked in the media, and got wide press coverage in Hyderabad. Masood hopes his RTI query help the cause of protecting a heritage monument, rather than getting used into the hands of communal politicians. It should be mentioned here that TCN has been highlighting the whole issue since November, when the controversy began to take political colours, much before The Hindu published the picture in December, on the front page.


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Police constable arrested for raping and threatening a rape victim (Apr 8, 2013, IBN)

Once again a policeman in Uttar Pradesh has been accused of rape, dealing another massive blow to the already poor law and order in the state. A policemen Veer Singh has been arrested for allegedly raping and threatening a women in Raniganj police station on Sunday. Veer Singh allegedly assaulted the woman, who had come to file a rape complaint, after promising to help her.

The victim alleges in her complaint that she had gone to Raniganj police station to lodge a complaint against another man who had been raping her for the last three years after promising to marry her. The woman claimed that when she asked the accused to marry her, he threatened her and forced her to leave his house. When she tried to lodge a rape complaint, the accused policeman threatened and raped her instead of helping her.

She also alleged that accused Veer Singh also beat her up and forced her to flee from the police station. Next morning when some lawyers saw her outside the district court, they complaint to the senior officials. The woman also lodged a complaint against the accused policemen who has been arrested.


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Opinions and Editorials

Why memories of Gujarat 2002 stay – By Ajaz Ashraf (Apr 2, 2013, The Hindu)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh’s decision to accord a prominent role to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is presumably based on the belief that the diverse Indian electorate would forgive him for the communal mayhem of 2002, as it often has the Congress for the riots under its rule. This can be presumed from the comments Mr. Singh made at a function in Delhi in early February. In a recriminatory tone, he had then asked, “Our opposition parties allege that BJP is the party which creates enmity between Hindus and Muslims. Did riots not take place during Congress rule?” Not just the votaries and apologists of the BJP but even ideologically neutral individuals often echo the sentiments Mr. Singh expressed. From Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) in 1961 to Bharatpur (Rajasthan) in 2012, the Congress has palpably failed to control communal hotheads from running amok periodically. Yet the party hasn’t been tagged communal, and still garners a substantial chunk of the minority as well as secular votes. What explains the dichotomy in the public response to the riots under the BJP rule as compared to those under the Congress governments?

For one, the phenomenon of communal riot is an elemental aspect of the Sangh Parivar’s ideology, an extreme manifestation of its politics which is predicated on articulating and redressing the grievances of Hindus, real or imagined, the provenance of which lies either in the medieval past or in post-Independence public policies the saffron brigade perceives as unjustifiably favouring the minorities. This worldview pits the Hindus against the minorities, particularly the Muslims, until such time the inexhaustible list of grievances is addressed. The politics emanating from this worldview consequently spawns an ambience of tension among communities, reduced or heightened depending on the exigencies of circumstances but never allowed to dissipate. In other words, the inter-community tension, signifying the abnormal in politics, has no possibility of closure in the immediate future. It is designed to become our daily state of existence. The tension is stoked at pan-India, State and district levels. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement sought to meld the Hindus, with all their class, caste, linguistic and regional divides, into a monolith, through a demand asking Muslims to voluntarily relinquish their custody of the Babri Masjid. Of similar nature are the demands for relocating mosques abutting the Krishna and Shiv temples in Mathura and Varanasi. These symbols of pan-India Hindu mobilisation are augmented through the manufacturing of disputes over places of worship of local significance. Into this category fall the protracted disputes over the Bhagyalakshmi temple at the base of the Charminar in Hyderabad, the Baba Budangiri-Guru Dattatreya shrine in Karnataka, and the Bhojshala complex in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.

In addition, there are hundreds of places of worship and graveyards in mofussil towns whose ownerships are contended between Hindus and Muslims. No doubt, some of these disputes date back decades but, over the years, myriad groups comprising the Sangh Parivar have taken over the leadership of these ‘little battles of liberation’. For variety, Christian priests are attacked and churches vandalised on the charges of converting Hindus to Christianity. In this culture of inter-community tension, alternatively fanned and allowed to simmer, the riot is the logical culmination of an insidious process. It is akin to a person experiencing a nervous breakdown after suffering acute mental agony for months; it is similar to living life on the edge, uncertain though you are about the precise moment of the inevitable fall off the precipice. Indeed, communal tension in perpetuity is less traumatic only in degrees to an outbreak of a riot. The sheer salience of tension-riot in the politics of BJP is precisely why a localised inter-community conflict under its rule acquires a resonance countrywide. It is perceived as illustrative of the fate awaiting the minorities in an India in which the BJP exercises untrammeled power. The 2002 riot of Gujarat was horrifying not only because of its barbarity but also because it was viewed to have been ideologically driven and, therefore, bound to be replicated elsewhere.

By contrast, the riots under the Congress rule, even the ones its activists spearhead, are instrumental rather than ideological. Barring the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, the riots under the Congress rarely spill beyond a parliamentary constituency or two. The motive behind such mayhem is usually a local Congressman wanting to win an election from a constituency; a riot or communal tension rarely becomes a tool for political mobilisation countrywide, again, the 1984 riots being the exception. Though cynical, the breakdown in inter-community relationship is almost always followed by attempts to restore the earlier social harmony. No doubt, the Congress was justifiably implicated in the 1984 riots. It symbolically atoned for its guilt by appointing Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, and he, on August 12, 2005, apologised not only to the Sikh community in Parliament, but also to the entire nation “because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood in our Constitution”.

More significantly, the Congress is forgiven because the riots under it are often (not always, though) the handiwork of organisations owing allegiance or belonging to the Sangh Parivar. It’s a conclusion several commissions of inquiry appointed to probe riots have reached. There are just too many to be quoted. But sample what the Joseph Vithayathil Commission on the Tellicherry riots of 1971 said. It traced the origin of communal tension in the town to the RSS’s decision to establish its units there. In an incident the rioters accosted one Muhammad and offered him the following choice, “If you want to save your life you should go round the house three times repeating the words, ‘Rama, Rama’.” The commission noted, “Muhammad did that. But you cannot expect the 70 million Muslims of India to do that as a condition for maintaining communal harmony in the country”. More than 40 years after Tellicherry, tension-riot remains the Sangh Parivar’s defining strategy of achieving its ideological goal of turning India Hindu. This is why we remember the riots under the BJP and not those under the Congress, which too has been responsible for the spilling of blood and untold misery.


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Modi-fying the Lokayukta – Editorial (Apr 8, 2013, The Hindu)

Changes in law, especially those reformative in intent, are warranted from time to time. However, given the timing and context in which it has taken place, the recent enactment in Gujarat creating a Lokayukta Commission in place of a single-member body is bound to be seen as a colourable exercise of power. The decision to expand it into a multi-member body, consisting of a Lokayukta and two judicial and two administrative members, is ostensibly aimed at strengthening the mechanism to curb corruption among public functionaries. However, the thinly-hidden objective seems to be to ensure that Chief Minister Narendra Modi has his way. He was clearly unhappy with the consultation process involving the Chief Justice on who should be the next Lokayukta.

The legislation has come two months after the Supreme Court upheld the appointment of Justice R.A. Mehta for the post, rejecting the Modi government’s challenge to the legality of the Governor making the appointment based on the Chief Justice’s opinion. The new law, which does not dislodge Mr. Mehta, does away with the role of the Chief Justice and Governor in future appointments, and replaces the consultation process with a selection committee headed by the Chief Minister. This has naturally caused concern among opposition parties.

The composition of the six-member selection panel in the Lokayukta Commission Act is loaded in favour of the government. It comprises four members who could be identified with the government of the day: the Chief Minister, a minister appointed by him, the Assembly Speaker and the vigilance commissioner. The other two are the Leader of the Opposition and a judge of the High Court to be nominated by the Chief Justice in consultation with five senior judges of the High Court. Gujarat has argued that its mechanism is similar to what the Centre has proposed in its draft Lokpal Bill.

However, the Lokpal Bill talks of including an eminent jurist and a well-known public figure as government nominees. In the Gujarat model, only the opposition leader and the lone judge are independent members. Further, provisions envisaging a jail term for disclosure of identities or evidence in the media and vesting the Council of Ministers with the power to reject Lokayukta reports against ministers or exclude some categories of public functionaries from investigation are truly contentious. The inevitable conclusion is that anti-corruption legislation is still mired in expediency, and the political class is nowhere near adopting the sort of effective and credible mechanism to combat corruption that the people want.


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Six Cases Of Encounters In Manipur Not Genuine: Panel To SC – By Tehelka Bureau (Apr 4, 2013, Tehelka)

The Supreme Court-mandated commission sent to Manipur three months ago to investigate six fake encounter cases presented its report to the court on the morning of April 4. A bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai examined the committee’s report, which said none of the six cases qualify as encounters and that they are fake. None of the victims, which include a 12-year-old boy, were found to have been involved in militant activities or to have a criminal record.

The Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families’ Association (AAVFAM) and Human Rights Alert, two organisations based in Manipur, submitted the petition for the investigation in September 2012. They submitted a list of 1528 extrajudicial killings. In its investigation, the Commission was forced to “address the larger question of the role of the State Police”.

“Although the investigation is not aimed directly at AFSPA, this report has the chance of at least challenging it,” says Babloo Loitongbam, from Human Rights Alert. It is about destabilising the feeling of impunity of the armed forces. Nina, a representative from the EEVFAM was present for the cross-examinations. She says that “when the perpetrators were called for the cross-examinations, we felt satisfied that those people who thought no one could touch them had to come forward. We hope that the Supreme Court will help sort out this problem of extra-judicial killing.” Fake encounter cases are not legally protected by the AFSPA. All the more so because AFSPA only pertains to areas declared as disturbed under the Disturbed Areas Act, and many of the police officers cross-examined did not even know which areas fell under that category.

Demonstrating that it is possible to get justice through the democratic system is a much-needed step to restore faith to those who have been unjustly treated. The investigation took place within the constitutional framework, and Loitongbam says, “We are inspired by the transparent process this investigation has been, and to see State and Central governments, as well as petitioners working together. We are extremely hopeful that this report will open up a window of hope and opportunity”. The decision is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, which should pass directions on the basis of the panel’s report on 9 April.

“Till now there has been no legal action (against the Armed Forces),” says Meera Ahmad, from Jan Sangharsh Manch, who has researched fake encounter cases in Gujarat and Manipur. “In the submission by the petitioners they say that the attacks on the armed forces have substantially decreased. But armed forces killing civilians has not come down. There is a need for a very strong assessment.” Hopefully this report will not reach the same end as the Jeevan Reddy report in 2005.


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Unequal justice breeds communalism and terrorism – By Rajdeep Sardesai (Apr 5, 2013, IBN)

“Justice”, the new rallying cry on the streets and in the studios, can be awfully selective at times. The brutal gangrape of a Delhi girl in December led to an avalanche of protests and demands that the culprits be hanged immediately. On the other hand, sexual crimes against women in interior Chattisgarh attract scant attention. Afzal Guru’s hanging becomes a contentious political battle, even as faceless prisoners remain on death row for years. Now, the Supreme Court verdict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case has become more about a film star’s saga rather than about a dispassionate analysis of the judgment. The reactions to the Mumbai 93 judgment are typical of how ‘justice’ is now perceived in the public arena. Veering between a blood-thirsty desire for ‘revenge’ for the lives of those who died and the several hundred who were injured and an unbridled sympathy for those who are projected as ‘victims’ of circumstances. The fact is neither there is a need for any chest-thumping hysteria nor there is a cause for teary emotionalism.

The real crux of the 93 judgment lies in the acknowledgement that even 20 years after the first, and worst, terror attack of its kind in this country, we have not been able to prosecute the ‘masterminds’: Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and their benefactors in Pakistan. A case that was cracked within days of the blasts – the terrorists abandoned a car at Worli that was tracked down to the Memons – remains incomplete because the key players have remained out of reach of the law. What closure can there be for the victims when the system knows where Dawood lives and is aware of his movements but cannot touch him, or, as has been speculated, has made little real effort to ‘take him out’? The others, as the court says, were ‘pawns’ in a larger conspiracy. Even the exact role of Yakub Memon, the one person who has been given the death sentence, remains debatable within security agencies. What is clear is that while the chartered accountant who chose to return to India is now on death row, his brother Tiger Memon who planned the conspiracy remains a valued ‘guest’ of Pakistan’s ISI.

And yet, it is Dutt who occupies the mindspace. Poor ‘littlecc Sanju Baba (he was 34 when the terror attack took place) deserves pardon on humanitarian grounds, we are told. Pardon because he is a ‘reformed’ citizen who has spread ‘Gandhigiri’ and has already served 18 months in prison. But what then of a Zebunissa Qazi, a 70-year-old Muslim woman, who was convicted under TADA even while Dutt was held guilty under the Arms Act even though the nature of their involvement appears identical? In fact, Zebunissa had made a strong case that she was unaware of the arms consignment being kept in her house even while Dutt had confessed to taking the weapons in ‘self-defence’. Or are we to believe that an appeal for pardon for a celebrity carries weight which an ailing, anonymous woman can never match? And what of the thousands of undertrials who languish in jails without even a fair hearing simply because they don’t have self-appointed guardians of justice to take up their case?

And while we focus on the 93 blasts judgment, what of the Mumbai riots of 1992-93 that preceded the terror attack? As the Justice BN Srikrishna Commission, appointed to inquire into the Mumbai riots, made amply clear, the terror attack of March 1993 could not be seen without reference to the violence that had taken place just weeks before. The commission noted, “the blasts seem to be a reaction to ‘the totality of events’ at Ayodhya and in Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993.” The commission adds: “There is no doubt that the major role in the blasts conspiracy was played by Muslims.” On the other hand, the commission says: ” the riots were brought to fever pitch by communally inciting propaganda unleashed by Hindu communal organisations and writings in newspapers like Saamna (the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece) and Navakal. It was taken over by Shiv Sena and its leaders, who continued to whip up communal frenzy through the writings of and directives issued by Bal Thackeray.” The blasts then were, as the judge emphasised, “a Muslim conspiracy”; the riots, especially in the second phase of January 93, were spearheaded by the Shiv Sena. Officially, 257 people, mainly Hindus, died in the terror attack; 900 people, mainly Muslims, died in the rioting. True justice would mean that the blast conspirators and the riot leaders would be treated equally. And yet, the inconvenient truth is that the two instances of mass killing have been treated very differently.

Within two years of the Mumbai violence, the BJP-Shiv Sena government came to power in Maharashtra for the first time by claiming to be ‘protectors’ of the majority community. Far from being questioned for inciting rioting, Thackeray became the ‘remote control’ of the new government. The regime virtually threw the Srikrishna report into the Arabian Sea by describing it as one-sided and biased. The police officers, who were named in the riots report, were either let off and, in some instances, even promoted. The Congress-NCP government, which came to power in 1999, also chose not to act on the inquiry report. None of the riot cases were pursued with any vigour and in only five of them, there have been convictions. The only Shiv Sena leader of any significance who was convicted was its former MP, Madhukar Sarpotdar, for making inflammatory speeches. He was sentenced to one year in jail but was immediately granted bail on a surety of just Rs 15,000. Is it any wonder then that when a criminal justice system is seen to be so transparently unequal, we remain trapped in a vicious cycle of communalism and terrorism?


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Why Is Matrilineal Meghalaya Indifferent Towards Rape Victims? – By Ratnadip Choudhury (Mar 30, 2013, Tehelka)

On 13 December last year, a 18-year-old girl was gangraped by 16 boys in William Nagar, the headquarters of the East Garo Hills district in Meghalaya. After TEHELKA reported on the incident, activists allege that pressure is mounting on the victim’s family to withdraw the case. In the article (Gangraped by 16 Men. Yet No Outrage in the Hills, Issue 6, Volume 10) TEHELKA had reported that the victim’s parents were very apprehensive about her future and their apprehension came true, revealing the ugly side of the social prejudice in Meghalaya. The victim who was moved to Tura, the main town of Garo hills, only to be denied admission by school and private girls’ hostel, and back home in William Nagar people tried to photograph her every time she stepped out of her village. It’s over three months since the incident happened, and Meghalaya Commission for Women (MCW) has been handling her case in a sluggish manner. Even questions have been raised on the state government’s dealing of the case as one of the accused is a relative of Meghalaya Social Welfare minister Deborah Marak.

“In her village, the relatives and family members had been coming to their house and trying to influence them. We are told that they even took the girl’s picture. Thus the parents moved the girl to Tura where she has been denied admission. We are told that the women commission has arranged for a safe stay for her, but her parents were denied to meet her on 26 March. What we don’t understand is what is so secretive about it that even the parents are not being allowed to meet her,” says Agnes Kharshaiing of Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), a NGO based in Shillong that has been working for women’s rights in Meghalaya. “The victim’s family is very poor. They are running from pillar to post for the safety of their child as well as to get justice. We are told that she has been made to sign a paper where she agreed that she is happy in the way state women commission has handled the case and that she does not want to talk to media and even activists. We feel the family is under pressure and it is important that her statement is recorded in front of a magistrate as well,” adds Jaynie N Sangma of the Peoples’ Movement for Democratic Rights.

Meghalaya State Commission for Women (MSCW) had sprung into action only after the incident was highlighted by the media. However, MSCW chairperson Theilin Phanbuh defended the commission’s late response, saying that, “We have taken the case very seriously. We are told that a school has agreed to admit her, she is safe and her parents are meeting her. This is not for the first time such crime has happened and we have always taken up the case to the best of our ability.” Phanbuh informed that the commission will constitute a fact finding committee to look into the allegations that the victim’s family is being pressurised. The police has filed a chargesheet against the 16 accused, and the case will now be heard in a newly constituted fast track court in Tura. Meanwhile, Social Welfare Minister Deborah Marak met with state Home Minister Roshan Warjri to discuss on the developments in the case and both the ministers told the media that justice will be done to the victim.

Contrary to the popular belief that women have greater control over their lives in matrilineal societies such as in Meghalaya, the condition of women seems to be no different here from the rest of the country. In the past decade, Meghalaya has seen over 800 rape cases, 500 of which are still pending in various courts. In fact, there was a six-fold rise in cases of rape registered annually in the state between 2001 (26 cases) and 2010 (149 cases). In a state that boasts of women’s empowerment – where women inherit property and are seen at the forefront of domestic and public life – 830 rape cases between 2002 and 2012 should have shaken the conscience of the public authorities and forced them to act. Instead, the conviction rate remains awfully low and even compensation is hardly provided to the victims and their families. There are only three fast track courts dealing with rape cases – one each in the Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills and East Khasi Hills districts. In the Garo Hills alone, which does not have a fast track court, 23 rape cases, including two gangrape cases, have been pending for over a decade.

“Matriarchal society is a myth. Crimes against women in Meghalaya has been happening for a long time. Now media is proactive, so a lot of cases are being reported. But the lack of awareness about the sensitivity related to a rape case amongst common people, and even authorities, remains a great cause of concern. The society needs to take action and question the government, something that is not happening apart from activists fighting for the cause,” says Particia Mukhim, Editor of The Shillong Times.


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Disempowered Dalits – By S. Dorairaj (Apr 6, 2013, Frontline)

“My hands are tied. I have not been allowed to discharge my democratic duties. A couple of ward members belonging to the dominant caste hurled verbal abuses at me. I left the village as I faced an imminent threat to my life. I have returned [on March 19], ending my 10-day-long self-imposed exile, following assurances given by the local police and the revenue authorities. But the problem is far from over as casteists, who want to usurp my powers and pose a threat to my life, are yet to be booked. Yet, there is no question of buckling under pressure,” S. Palraj, elected president of the Nakkalamuthanpatti village panchayat in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, said. The Dalit panchayat president’s fears cannot be dismissed as unfounded as his predecessor, Jakkaiyan, was murdered on November 22, 2006, for choosing to ignore the diktats of persons belonging to the dominant caste in running the local administration, Dalit organisations point out. Palraj was allegedly threatened that he would meet the same fate if he tried to function independently.

Recalling the circumstances that forced him to leave the village, Palraj said: “I have not been allowed to occupy my seat in the panchayat office. At one stage, two upper-caste members asked me not to enter the office premises. They wanted me to collect a certain amount for my daily expenses and leave the job of running the panchayat to them. They compelled me to sign the office records maintained by them. I was verbally abused and threatened with dire consequences at a meeting on March 7 in the presence of the Block Development Officer [BDO]. Though the BDO pulled them up for unseemly behaviour, they continued with their intimidation. As things came to a head, I decided to leave the village.” Palraj has submitted petitions to the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police seeking their intervention. Fortunately, in this case, the vice-president of the panchayat, despite being a member of the dominant Naicker community, has not joined the casteists.

Collector C. Samayamoorthy told Frontline that the police were looking into the issue and that Palraj would be given protection if it was found necessary. The issue was raised by him suo motu at the routine law-and-order meeting, the Collector said, adding that it was the duty of the district administration to ensure the protection of elected representatives. The local police have registered a first information report under Sections 341, 294 (b) and 506 (ii) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 (1) (X) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Palraj is one of the 3,136 Dalit panchayat presidents elected in the local bodies elections held in the State in October 2011. Many others like him face different forms of caste-based discrimination. A sizable number of them have become victims of manipulative tactics adopted by dominant caste groups who want to retain their hold on governance at the grass-roots level. The onslaught of casteists, particularly in areas that witnessed the worst caste violence in the southern districts of the State in the mid-1990s with Dalits bearing the brunt of the attacks, has reached unbearable levels.

Organisations such as the Tamil Nadu Dalit Panchayat Presidents’ Forum and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Madurai-based Evidence have repeatedly urged the State government to take action against the ward members and clerks, mostly belonging to the upper castes, who prevent Dalit panchayat presidents from delivering their mandate. They have also called for steps to provide adequate security to those panchayat chiefs who have been targeted by casteist forces. Official sources claim that the enactment of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994, close on the heels of the enactment of the 73rd amendment to the Constitution, 1992, “added a new dimension to the existence of local self-governance” and provided scope, among other things, for the reservation of seats in local bodies for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their populations and also posts of chairpersons of panchayati raj institutions for them on a rotation basis.

However, representatives of NGOs and Dalit organisations point out the shabby treatment meted out to the elected panchayat presidents, indicating that there is a long way to go in achieving empowerment of the oppressed sections. Even at the time of enacting the State Panchayats Act, there were criticisms that the Bill was rushed through in the Assembly without detailed discussions. …


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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 28th, 2013

by newsdigest on January 29, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Indian Americans across the US commemorate India’s 64th Republic Day

Monday January 28, 2013

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC –, an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos organized celebrations across the US to mark the Republic Day of India, including special events in eight cities. Indian Americans of all faiths and ethnicities participated in the celebrations to mark the founding of the Indian Republic on January 26, 1950.

IAMC chapters in Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Minnesota, California, and Georgia had organized festivities spread across January 26 and 27 to celebrate 63 years of India’s existence as a modern, secular and democratic Republic.

“The guarantees of Justice, Liberty and Equality for all citizens, enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution collectively represent one of the greatest accomplishments in the cause of pluralism,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “These guarantees are also a reminder of the ideals we need to live up to and the promises we still need to keep,” added Mr. Khan.

Indian Americans from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Christian and various other communities attended the events. The event in New Jersey was attended by the Honorable Consul General of India Prabhu Dayal, and Mayor Frank Gambatese of the city of South Brunswick. Consul General Dayal commended IAMC for building a bridge of understanding between India and the United States. The Republic Day event in Atlanta was attended by Consul Rajinder Singh from the Atlanta Consulate General of India.

The nationwide celebrations included an online Essay Contest at which received a tremendous response. Winners of exciting prizes such as iPad Mini and Google Nexus 7 are as follows:

Essay Contest Winners

1. First Prize: Ekaete Ekwere, for the essay on “Maintain the Momentum”

2. Second Prize: Mahesh Chandramouli, for the essay on “Challenges Facing India in the 21stcentury – Personal Reflections”

Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the nation.

For more information please visit our new website at:


Indian American Muslim Council

Ishaq Syed
Phone: (800) 839-7270

6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053
phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
Forward email

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Communal Harmony

FANS selected for communal harmony award (Jan 25, 2013, Yahoo)

Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity (FANS), Delhi, has been selected for the National Communal Harmony Award for 2012, according to an official press release. FANS is a Delhi-based trust which has organised numerous seminars, workshops, symposiums, inter-religious meets and youth camps to promote social amity.

It has awarded numerous scholarships under its Amity Scholarship Scheme to promote education amongst the economically backward students.

The National Communal Harmony Awards were instituted in 1996 by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), an autonomous organisation set up by the home ministry to promotecommunal harmony and national integration. It carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs five lakh.

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RSS offices used to plan terror attacks: NIA (Jan 25, 2013, Hindustan Times)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe has thrown many alleged instances wherein the offices of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are believed to have been used by the right-wing extremists to plot terror activities. Investigators allege that in May 2006, senior RSS functionary Indresh Kumar had met right-wing terror kingpin Sunil Joshi in the Nagpur office of Sangh.

“Sunil Joshi further informed Asimanand that he along with Bharat Bhai (a witness in the Samjhauta case, who was later chargesheeted in the Ajmer Sharif case) went to Nagpur and met Indresh who gave him R50,000 to procure explosives and other material,” said the chargesheet in the Samjhauta case. Indresh is not an accused in the any of the right-wing terror cases but his role is under scanner. …

When investigators spoke to Bharat Bhai, he accepted visiting the ‘RSS Karylaya in Nagpur’ to meet Indresh along with Sunil Joshi. “Indresh gave Rs. 50,000 to Manoj (alias Sunil Joshi) and they discussed something in low voice. When I asked Manoj about the money, he told me that Indreshji had given money for some special task,” said Bharat Bhai.

There are two more instances which point to the alleged nexus. Sunil Joshi and his two associates were seen by a witness experimenting with detonators at a RSS office in Dungergaon in Madhya Pradesh in 1999. While in connection with Ajmer Sharif blasts, a lot of meetings took place in the RSS office of Mihijam in Jharkhand.

Although Sunil Joshi was murdered on December 29, 2007, by his own men at Dewas in Madhya Pradesh, a witness Sheetal Gehlot has told investigators that after Joshi’s murder two bags containing pistol, rods with electric wires around them were kept at RSS Karyalaya in Dewas. Ramji, a key accused who is on the run, picked one of the bags later while the other bag was thrown in the Narmada. …


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10 accused in blast cases have RSS links: R.K. Singh (Jan 23, 2013, The Hindu)

Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said on Tuesday that at least 10 people having close links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliated organisations were named accused in various acts of terror across India. “Yes, during investigations of Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and [Ajmer] Dargah Sharif blasts, we have found names of at least 10 persons who have been associated with the RSS at some point or the other,” he told journalists here.

His statement comes two days after Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in Jaipur that probe agencies had found the BJP and the RSS conducted training camps to spread terrorism. “We will have to think about it seriously and will have to remain alert,” he had said. His statement drew sharp reactions from the RSS and the BJP and the latter’s allies such as the Shiv Sena and the Janata Dal (United).

Did the government have any evidence of the RSS links of the persons arrested in the blast cases? “We have evidence against them… there are statements of witnesses,” the Home Secretary said. Mr. Singh said Sunil Joshi [now dead], who worked for the RSS in Dewas and Mhow from the 1990s to 2003, was involved in the Samjhauta Express and Ajmer Sharif Dargah blasts. An RSS ‘pracharak,’ Sandeep Dange, wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), was an accused in the two blasts and the one at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad.

Lokesh Sharma, Rajender alias Samunder and Kamal Chouhan, now in jail for their involvement in the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blasts, were closely linked to the RSS. While Lokesh was its ‘nagar karyavahak’ (city functionary) in Deogarh, Rajendra was ‘varg vistarak’ (an important propagandist position). Ramji Kalsangra, who is also wanted for the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blasts, was an RSS associate, Mr. Singh said.

Another Godhra-based activist of the RSS, Mukesh Vasani, was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast, while Devender Gupta, an RSS ‘pracharak’ in Mhow and Indore, was in jail in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast case. RSS activist in Shajhanpur, Chandrasekhar Leve, was arrested in the Mecca Masjid blast case, he said. Mr. Singh also referred to Swami Aseemanand, who is alleged to be the main conspirator in the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif Dargah blasts, and said he was associated with an RSS wing, Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, in Dang, Gujarat, from the 1990s to 2007.


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Probe all blasts since 1992: Asaduddin Owaisi (Jan 25, 2013, Times of India)

MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi has demanded a probe into all bomb blasts in India after the razing of the Babri Masjid in 1992. Saying he suspected the involvement of Hindutva forces, the Hyderabad MP referred to home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s statement that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and RSS were spreading terrorism in the country.

Addressing a massive rally on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi early Friday, he attacked BJP leader LK Advani for meeting PM Manmohan Singh to defend Pragya Thakur and other accused in bomb cases. Owaisi alleged that the BJP and RSS were targeting Shinde as he was a Dalit. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief said his party was ready to work for unity among Muslims and Dalits. …

Owaisi clarified that his party was not against Hindus or Hinduism but against Hindutva forces and the Sangh Parivar. He accused the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh of targeting him, his younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi and other MIM leaders due to personal vendetta. He vowed to defeat Congress in the next elections.

Owaisi accused the government of adopting double standards while dealing with the alleged provocative speeches. “You have charged Akbar Owaisi with sedition but not Swami (Kamlananda Bharati). You did not even oppose Swami’s bail. You never arrested Praveen Togadia (booked for making provocative remarks in Hyderabad),” he said. …


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High Court asks govt to show orders to destroy riots papers (Jan 25, 2013, Indian Express)

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday directed the state government to produce the executive orders through which certain intelligence documents related to 2002 riots were destroyed. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala, which passed the order, has kept the matter for further hearing on February 5. The court was hearing a petition moved by the state’s chief secretary seeking clarification on an earlier order passed by the court on the basis of a statement by the advocate general that the documents were not destroyed and would be handed over to the Nanavati-Mehta Commission. The Commission is probing into the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

The order was passed on a petition jointly moved by suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt and a voluntary organisation seeking direction to the state government to provide him the documents. The petition was moved after Bhatt was not provided with the papers to file a detailed affidavit before the Commission. Surprisingly, after disposal of the petition at HC, the state government had made a statement on affidavit before the Commission that nine of the documents sought by Bhatt had indeed been destroyed in routine course as per rules. Bhatt had taken strong objection against this and had sought an independent probe into the entire episode of destroying of the documents before the Commission. The Commission has already ordered a high-level probe by two senior officers.

Meanwhile, the state government moved a fresh petition seeking clarification on the HC order. According to the state government, the advocate general’s statement that the documents were not destroyed was based on a briefing given by a home ministry official, who made a bonafide mistake. The government claimed the documents were destroyed by the department concerned. Hearing the petition Thursday, the court ordered the state government to produce the necessary executive orders that resulted in destroying of the documents, said a lawyer associated with the petition.


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Dhule video unmasks rioters in uniform (Jan 26, 2013, Indian Express)

Police in the northern Maharashtra town of Dhule destroyed private property and looted shops earlier this month after violence broke out following a tiff over payment of a hotel bill. About a dozen video clips available with The Indian Express, each running into a few minutes, show the police breaking open a stall, pulling down a pandal meant for hawkers, smashing water drums and pounding two-wheelers parked along the street on January 6. Reached for his comment, Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal said the police had received the same video footage and had initiated action. “Police constable Sumit Namdeo Thakur and police constable Pramod Shivaji Ishi, both posted at Dhule city police station, have been placed under suspension from January 18,” he said.

One two-minute clip shows a group of policemen breaking open a small stall in the Machhi Bazaar area. Accompanied by people in civilian clothes, some policemen are seen taking out goods from the stall. A policeman also stuffs his khaki trousers with some of the looted items. The clip also shows policemen trying to pull down a pandal under which hawkers do business. They are, however, not successful in bringing it down. In another clip, policemen are seen pounding motorcycles and bicycles parked outside houses in Machhi Bazaar. They are also seen overturning and destroying water drums that residents keep, given erratic water supply in the region. “The police action was deliberate. They brazenly looted and tried to destroy shops. What is surprising is that a cameraman of a local channel was also part of the police mob which broke open the shop,” alleged a shop-owner whose shop was destroyed.

The Indian Express could not verify if the policemen were accompanied by civilians or their own men in plain clothes. Dayal said action would also be taken against those who are in charge of the police teams for failure to control the men. “In the case of the new clip (the stall being ransacked), criminal action will be applied,” he said. Ahmed Javed, additional DGP (law & order), has submitted a report to the government. The report includes the failings of the police and the remedial measures to be taken. The state has also ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

“We have requested people with any video clips of the rioting or the police action that can throw any light on the incident to come forward and share it with us,” Javed said. Violence broke out in Dhule on January 6 after a small tiff over a payment of a hotel bill. It turned into a major riot and six people, all of them Muslims, were killed when the police opened fire on the mob. The police claimed firing was necessary since their men were being selectively targeted. But some local residents claim the police targeted and assaulted Muslim youth during the riot which lasted over five hours.


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‘Bias makes Muslims shun govt hospitals’ (Jan 28, 2013, Hindustan Times)

A sense of discrimination is keeping Muslim women away from the government-run health institutions for labour and post-natal check-up. The Planning Commission has made the startling observation in its 12th Plan document, which was recently approved by the National Development Council headed by the prime minister. Births to Muslim mothers are much less likely to take place in a health facility and are least likely to be followed by a postnatal check-up, the section on socio-economic condition of the minorities says quoting from the National Family Health Survey-3. Compared to 59% Buddhist and 58% Sikh mothers, only 33% Muslim mothers give birth in a health facility.

The section goes further to say that, “This could in part reflect social and economic circumstances of Muslims, as well as their hesitation in approaching state institutions due to a real or perceived sense of discrimination.” Surprisingly, the observation is not substantiated by corroborative data in the document, which is the top government plan governing socio-economic growth of the nation for five years. Dr Syeda Hameed, member in-charge of the minorities and women issues was not available for comment.

“True, statements should be supported by related data. However, the observations made might be from the individual field studies or experiences,” Prof Abhijit Sen, another member said. But, some within the commission criticised the comments as uncalled for in the plan document, more so when lacking in evidence. “Unfortunately, the document contains several such invalid observations that put its credibility in question.”

For example, the same section on minorities observes that Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat as largely accounting for the poverty among Muslims nationwide. But it does not assert the statement with corroborative data, except according it to “the latest Planning Commission estimates.”


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Curfew in Rajasthan towns following communal clashes (Jan 26, 2013, The Hindu)

Curfew was imposed in two Rajasthan towns of Bhilwara district, about 250 km from here, after a group of activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) allegedly burnt down several shops owned by Muslims on Friday. Bhilwara Collector Onkar Singh confirmed to The Hindu that activists of the RSS and the VHP had attacked some properties owned by Muslims in Bhilwara’s Aasind and Gulabpura towns. Muslim residents of Aasind were to take out a procession on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi, being observed on Friday.

However, owing to an earlier confrontation, the RSS and VHP men had warned that they would not allow the procession to be taken out and had called for a bandh to be observed in the region. On January 13, RSS members had insisted on taking out their path sanchalan rally in Aasind from a specific route which had a mosque on it, to which Muslims objected. Following an intervention from the administration, the RSS rally was diverted to another route.

Allegedly miffed at that, the RSS-VHP activists warned they would not allow the Barawafat procession, to be taken out on Friday on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad, as the route had a temple on it. Tension had prevailed in the area and the district administration had been trying to avert any impending confrontation between the two groups.

“Several men associated with the RSS and VHP, led by Dhanraj Gurjar, had warned that they would not allow Muslims to take out the Barawafat procession. Till late Thursday night, the district administration and the police had been working to resolve the problem,” Mr. Onkar Singh told The Hindu. “However, on Friday morning, these men attacked Muslim properties in Aasind as well as Gulabpura and burnt some temporary stalls owned by Muslims,” said Mr. Singh.


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Muslim organisations demand ban on ‘Vishwaroopam’ (Jan 23, 2013, Indian Express)

Various Muslim organisations today demanded a ban on the screening of actor-producer Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’, saying “it will affect social harmony” in the state. M H Jawahirullah, MLA and President, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, said representatives of various Muslim organisations met the City Police Commissioner S George today demanding that the screening of the movie be banned.

“The screening of the movie will affect social harmony in the state. We plan to meet the Home Secretary, besides moving the Censor Board,” he said. Jawahirullah replied in the affirmative when asked if they planned to move the court if required. Muslim organisations had earlier demanded that the film be screened to them prior to its release, expressing concern over the depiction of the community in the movie.

He said Haasan had organised a special screening of the movie for them following their demand. The thespian had already courted controversy after taking a U-turn on his decision to release the movie on Direct-to-Home (DTH) platform with theatre owners red-flagging his decision. The film’s release was also subsequently postponed and is now slated for a January 25 release in 500 screens in the state.


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Fresh clashes between Telangana activists and police (Jan 28, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Pro-Telangana activists clashed with police in Hyderabad over the government’s decision to delay a judgement on Telengana. The activists intensified the protests and accused the Centre for ‘cheating the rights’ of the people of Telangana. The Centre deferred the Telangana decision once again on Sunday. The decision was taken after senior Congress leaders and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde decided to continue the consultation process before reaching a final decision on the row.

Angered by the response, Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh went overboard and accused the Centre of “betrayal” on the Telangana issue. Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MLA T Harish Rao criticised the Congress for betraying people of the region. He called the people of the region to primarily target the Congress ministers and other leaders from the region.

Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) senior leader Motkupalli Narasimhulu that Congress’ decision to further delay a decision on Telangana exposed the party’s stand on the issue. He accused the government of not wanting to grant statehood to Telangana. BJP also used the latest development to target Congress. BJP state president G Kishan Reddy called upon people to “see the end” of Congress. CPI termed the statements as “suicidal”.

The decision was not welcomed even among some members in the Congress party. Congress MP Gutta Sukhender Reddy dubbed Azad and Shinde’s statements as “meaningless” and asserted that the delay in taking a decision on the statehood issue would do no good for the party.


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Cops fined Rs 25k for refusing to file rape FIR (Jan 22, 2013, Times of India)

Pulling up Delhi Police for threatening a 13-year-old girl against lodging a rape case and forcing her to settle the matter with the accused, a trial court has directed the police to pay compensation of Rs 25,000 to the victim. Lambasting the police’s “inaction and apathy”, additional sessions judge Pawan Jain said, “In the instant case, police not only violated the legal rights of the victim and her family by showing disrespect to them, but also violated the legal and human rights of the victim by not lodging the FIR and pressurising her to settle the matter with the accused.” P 6

The court also said the Police Commissioner will have the right to recover the sum from the salary of the erring officials who failed to act on the victim’s complaint and deposit the amount with the court within six weeks. The judge also directed the city police chief to identify the erring officials. “Such victims are required to be dealt with in a cordial atmosphere but instead of helping the victim and her family, police had multiplied their trauma manifold by not lodging the FIR of the incident. Thus, to my mind, the victim deserves compensation from the police for their inaction and apathy,” it further added. The court passed the order while convicting central Delhi resident Birju alias Mathur for raping a 13-year-old girl after kidnapping her.

As per the prosecution, the victim had approached the police post of Jai Prakash Narain Hospital under Indraprastha Estate Police on December 12, 2011 along with her mother and told it that she was kidnapped by one Birju, a customer of her mother’s bidi shop, on November 27 that year and raped by him. Medical examination of the girl too confirmed rape. During trial, the amicus curiae pointed out the inordinate delay in lodging of the FIR at which the prosecution said the girl had not reported the matter to the police in time due to fear and for sake of his family’s honour.

The girl and her mother, however, told the court that they had reported the matter to the police the very next day but were made to settle the matter with the convict as they were misguided by the police that if they lodged a complaint, the girl too would be arrested and jailed for seven years. The victim told the court that it was only after her grandmother got to know about the incident that she went to the DCP’s office and subsequently, an FIR was lodged.


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Opinions and Editorials

Shinde On Hindutva Terror: Terminological Confusions – By Ram Puniyani (Jan 28, 2013, Countercurrents)

Protests are being organized and threats to stall the proceedings of next Lok Sabha session are being dished out to oppose the Home Minister Sushil Kukar Shinde’s statement about the Hindu terrorism, its links with BJP and RSS. (23 Jan 2013). There are two major components of this statement. One is the use of the prefix Hindu for terrorism, and two about RSS-BJP links with terror training camps. What Shinde called Hindu terrorism has also been called Saffron terrorism or Hindutva terrorism. This prefix is to point out to acts of terror indulged in by the likes of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Aseemanand, Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Kalsangara, Sunil Joshi and many like them who were either actively associated with the ideology of Hindutva, or even were organizationally associated with RSS. Others were at that time or previously linked with some progeny of RSS like ABVP, Bajrang Dal etc. Many of them were part of organizations like Sanatan Sanstha, Abhinav Bhararat, who again aim at the goal of Hindu Nation or are ideologically inspired by the agenda of RSS.

The home minister’s remarks are based on investigations done Anti Terror Squads of different states and by National Investigation Agency. Earlier the announcement was made by the former Union home minister P. Chidambaram, in July 2010, to Parliament that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will probe the terrorist attacks on the Samjhauta Express and examine the conspiracy behind the attack, including the links of the accused in terrorist attacks at Malegaon (September 8, 2006), Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad (May 18, 2007) and at the Ajmer dargah (October 11, 2007). He had used the word Saffron terror. Various such acts of terror in which these people have been involved have been coming to light from last ten years or so. In 2003, in Parbani, Jalna and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra; in 2005, in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh; in 2006, in Nanded; in January 2008, at the RSS office in Tenkasi, Tirunelveli; in August 2008, in Kanpur etc.

Few of the details of some of these acts are very revealing : 1. On 6th April 2006 two Bajrang Dal workers died when making the bombs. The place where they died belonged to the RSS worker and saffron flag was hoisted atop the hose. There was also a board of Bajrang Dal Nanded Branch on the wall of the house. 2. In Thane on 4th June 2008, two Hindu Jagran Samiti workers were arrested for planting the bombs in the basement of Gadkari Rangayatan, due to which 7 people got injured. The same group was involved in the blasts in Vashi, Panvel also. 3. In Goa a bomb kept in a scooter went off on the eve of Divali (17th Oct 2009) in Margao. It killed Malgonda Patil and seriously injured Yogesh Naik. Another bomb was detected in Sancoale in a truck carrying 40 youth for Narkasur competition. Both the activists belonged to Sanatan Sanstha. The second aim of this blast was to create communal tension in Margao, which has a history of communal violence. This group takes inspiration from Savarkar (Hindu Mahasabha) and Hedgewar (RSS) and indoctrinates its members into hating Christians and Muslims. 4. On 24th August 2008 two Bajrang Dal activists died in Kanpur, while making bombs. The Kanpur zone IGP S.N. Singh stated that their investigations have revealed that this group was planning massive explosions all over the state. 5. Indian Express, 23 Oct 2008 reports that those involved in the bomb blast in Malegaon and Modasa (Sept 2008) had links with Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Similarly in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu pipe bomb attack on RSS office (Jan.2008) was projected to have been done by Jehadi Muslims.

The common pattern of these acts of terror has been twofold. One, that in few of such cases the activists related to Bajrang Dal or fellow travellers were killed while making the bombs. Second these acts of terror were targeted to kill the Muslims, so these acts were organized at times when the Muslims congregations take place, at the time of namaz or festivals like Shab-e-Barat in Malegaon, or in Ajmer Sharif where they come in large numbers or Samjhauta express where the major number of travellers is Muslims. While in the initial phase police authorities working under the prejudice that ‘all terrorists are Muslims’ misdirected their probe, the probe came on the proper track after the Malegaon blasts when the motor cycle of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the former activist of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a wing of RSS, came under the scanner and her links with many of those who have been named above and are currently in jail, came to the surface. These facts came to light due to the initiative and immaculate investigation done by the then chief of Maharashtra ATS, Hemant Karkare. Karkare pursued the investigation professionally putting together the threads due to which today most of them are in jails. While pursuing these investigations Karkare came under immense pressure from the politicians belonging to BJP and its close cousin, Shiv Sena. During this time Narendra Modi said that Hemant Karkare is an anti National, (Deshdrohi) and Bal Thackeray in his Saamana wrote that’ we spit on the face of Karkare.’ Later Karkare got killed in the Mumbai terror attack of 26/11, 2006.

The people involved in some way were associated to the affiliates of RSS or RSS itself. Mr. Singh, Home secretary has given some of the names from RSS stable who have been allegedly involved in acts of terror: 1. Sunil Joshi (dead), he was an “activist of RSS” in dewas and Mhow from 1990s to 2003. 2. Sandeep Dange (absconding), He was “RSS pracharak” in Mhow, Indore, Uttarkashi and Sajhapur from 1990s to 2006. 3. Lokesh Sharma (arrested) He was RSS ‘nagar karyavahak’ in Deogarh. 4. Swami Assemanand (arrested), He was “associated with RSS wing Vanavashi Kalyan Parishad” in Dang, Gujarat in 1990s to 2007. 4. Rajender alias Samunder (arrested), He was “RSS Varg Vistarak.” 5. Mukesh Vasani (arrested), He was an “activist of RSS” in Godhra. 6. Devender Gupta (arrested), was a “RSS pracharak” in Mhow and Indore. 7. Chandrasekhar Leve (arrested), was a “RSS pracharak” in Shajhanpur in 2007. 8. Kamal Chouhan (arrested), was a “RSS activist.” 9. Ramji Kalsangra (absconding), was a “RSS associate”. This is in addition to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Retd Major Upadhyay, who have been close to them. While some beans were spilled by many of these accused the whole picture was pieced together by Swami Aseemanand, when he decided to confess in front of the magistrate. In his confession Swami gave the details of the whole set up raised under his coordination and involving many RSS workers and their associates. …


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The BJP and Nathuram Godse – By A.G. Noorani (Jan 26, 2013, Frontline)

The Bharatiya Janata Party and its ancestor, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, have always felt embarrassed and uneasy about Nathuram Godse. They very well knew that Gandhi’s assassin had strong links to their parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). As Gandhi’s Boswell, Pyarelal, records in his memoirs, “members of the RSS at some places had been instructed beforehand to tune in their radio sets on the fateful Friday for the ‘good news’, and sweets were distributed by the members at many places” (Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase; page 750). There was another reason besides. V.D. Savarkar’s acquittal notwithstanding, many were convinced that he was privy to the murder; most notably Bombay’s Home Minister Morarji Desai (vide the writer’s article “Savarkar and Gandhi’s murder”, Frontline, October 5, 2012). But Savarkar was also the BJP’s ideologue. He was the one who coined the term Hindutva and distinguished his theme of hate elaborately from the ancient and noble faith of Hinduism. L.K. Advani began his bid for the Prime Minister’s office in 1990 with the cry of Hindutva which he developed in speech after speech. Fate willed otherwise, not least because of his opportunism, tactical blunders caused by an excess of zeal and, of course, an obscene exhibition of ambition which the country does not like. Advani has fallen by the wayside. To his dismay, a protégé has emerged to lay claim to that very office and on that very plank of Hindutva—Narendra Modi.

Advani’s palpably false denials in his autobiography, My Country, My Life, reflected the embarrassment. Two, in particular, need to be nailed to the counter: One is that “the RSS had some differences with Gandhiji regarding his approach to securing India’s freedom. But these were minor, which never detracted from the high regard the Sangh had for the Mahatma.” The RSS’s bible is Bunch of Thoughts (1966), written by its longest-serving supremo, M.S. Golwalkar. He pours out his contempt for Gandhi and the Congress in shrill denunciations of both. Advani could not possibly have been unaware of the book. Here are those passages. There were, Golwalkar wrote, in the main “two types of movements against the British rule in our country”. One was the armed revolution by the revolutionaries. “The other movement led by the Congress has had more disastrous and degrading effects on the country. Most of the tragedies and evils that have overtaken our country during the last few decades and are even today corroding our national life are its direct outcome.” That was the Congress led by Gandhi. A few pages later the reference becomes more pointed even though the name is avoided for tactical reasons. The references are to Gandhi’s plank of Hindu-Muslim unity and to his advocacy of non-violence: “Those who declared ‘No Swaraj without Hindu-Muslim unity’ have perpetrated the greatest treason on our society.” So much for Advani’s claim of “the high regard the Sangh had for the Mahatma”.

The attack on Gandhi becomes stronger when Golwalkar turns to non-violence. “They have committed the most heinous sin of killing the life-spirit of a great and ancient people. To preach impotency [sic] to a society which gave rise to a Shivaji who, in the words of the great historian Jadunath Sarkar, ‘proved to the whole world that the Hindu has drunk the elixir of immortality’, and to break the self-confident and proud spirit of such a great and virile society has no parallel in the history of the world for sheer magnitude of its betrayal. …here, we had leaders who were, as if, pledged to sap all manliness from their own people. However, this is not a mere accident of history. This leadership only came as a bitter climax of the despicable tribe of so many of our ancestors who during the past twelve hundred years sold their national honour and freedom to foreigners, and joined hands with the inveterate enemies of our country and our religion in cutting the throats of their own kith and kin to gratify their personal egoism, selfishness and rivalry. No wonder nemesis overtook such a people in the form of such a self-destructive leadership.” The Sangh Parivar is haunted by imagined and ancient wrongs which it is sworn to correct by attacking Muslims and Christians. What is meant by self-destruction? Two decades after the assassination, the RSS mouthpiece (Organiser), then edited by K.R. Malkani, could remember Gandhi, on January 11, 1970, only in these terms in its editorial: “It was in support of Nehru’s pro-Pakistan stand that Gandhiji went on fast and, in the process, turned the people’s wrath on himself.” So, Nathuram Godse represented “the people” and he perpetrated the murder as an expression of “the people’s wrath”.

In 1961, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya said: “With all respect for Gandhiji, let us cease to call him ‘Father of the Nation’. If we understand the old basis of nationalism, then it will be clear that it is nothing but Hinduism.” The Times of India editorially noted on October 17, 1989: “Mr Advani, while holding forth on ‘Bharat Mata’, now goes so far as to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation.” On October 5, 1997, Organiser published an advertisement by a Delhi publisher for six “Readable Attractive New Books”, two of them by Gopal Godse: Qutub Minar is Vishnu Dhwaja and Gandhiji’s Murder and After. The third book advertised was May it Please Your Honour, the assassin’s statement in court. Another was by the judge who ordered the locks of the gate to the Babri Masjid opened on February 1, 1986, in flagrant breach of the law.Organiser is hardly likely to accept advertisements for books critical of the RSS. On Nathuram Godse, Advani asserts that Godse had “severed links with RSS in 1933… had begun to bitterly criticise the RSS”. This was flatly contradicted by none other than Godse’s brother Gopal, who was also an accused at the trial for conspiracy to murder. He published his book Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in December 1993. Speaking in New Delhi on the occasion of the release of his book, Gopal Godse revealed what many had suspected—they had both been active members of the RSS (The Statesman; December 24, 1993).

Soon thereafter, in an interview to Frontline (January 28, 1994), he provided the details and angrily scotched Advani’s attempts to disown them: “All the brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. You can say we grew up in the RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us. Nathuram had become a baudhik karyavah[intellectual worker] in the RSS. He has said in his statement that he left the RSS. He said it because Golwalkar and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.” Asked about Advani’s claim that Nathuram had nothing to do with the RSS, Gopal Godse replied: “I have countered him, saying it is cowardice to say that. You can say that RSS did not pass a resolution, saying, ‘go and assassinate Gandhi’. But you do not disown him [Nathuram]. The Hindu Mahasabha did not disown him. In 1944, Nathuram started doing Hindu Mahasabha work when he had been a baudhik karyavah in the RSS.” It was a foolish attempt by Advani to whitewash a sordid record. A similar attempt was made by Ram Jethmalani, on April 13, 1981, at Kochi. Godse and Gandhi “shared the same political philosophy [sic] of a United India” ( The Times of India; April 14, 1981). He was then vice-president of the BJP. Not surprisingly, he is now a staunch supporter of Narendra Modi’s ambition to become Prime Minister.…


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The Saffron String – By Prarthna Gahilote (Feb 4, 2013, Outlook)

Now that Rajnath Singh is set to become BJP president, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s Delhi plans may face a new obstacle. An outward show of geniality is likely, but the Rajnath-Modi relationship has a history of rancour. Rajnath, as party chief in 2006-09, had thrown Modi out of the BJP’s parliamentary board. By now the RSS ambivalence on Modi is strong-and Rajnath is a Sangh choice. So Modi may not necessarily find an eager cheerleader in him. The real inhibiting factor, of course, will be the RSS, which believes it was pushed to a corner during the party president’s election. It was forced to select by elimination. Now, RSS stalwarts are likely to vet and veto appointments to all BJP positions. “In recent times, we have taken a different approach: we don’t tell the BJP what needs to be done, we tell them what should not be done,” says a senior Sangh functionary. So even if a reluctant consensus emerges in the party about Modi as prime ministerial candidate, the Sangh could try to scuttle it. Rajnath, as party chief, will be the one talking to the allies-and can cite their opposition. A strong scenario is that Modi could be offered the ambiguous post of election committee chief, with the decision on his entering the prime ministerial race reserved till after the elections. Modi is unlikely to accept this and could stay out. Besides, Rajnath himself can be a prime ministerial candidate-as can be a few others.

There was a fair bit of drama in the way his predecessor’s re-election bid came unstuck on the home stretch. Just hours after the notification for presidential elections in the BJP, on January 22, it was learnt that the income-tax department had raided companies linked to Nitin Gadkari. Providence had smiled on lobbies opposed to him-indeed, there were sly hints of a friendly hand in government doing a good turn to someone. Anyway, what had seemed like fait accompli now had to be stalled-a second term for Gadkari was now out of the question. In Delhi, the Sangh’s pointsman in the BJP, Suresh Soni, considered close to both Arun Jaitley and Rajnath, lost no time in taking the cue. He rallied all hands on the deck. Urgent calls were made to Rajnath, who rushed back from a journey to his constituency Ghaziabad. Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar, all assembled in Jaitley’s office. In Mumbai, senior party leader L.K. Advani told RSS deputy chief Bhaiyyaji Joshi that the presidential election the next day would not be smooth, with Yashwant Sinha threatening to contest. Bhaiyyaji struck down Sinha’s name, saying he was a “rank outsider”; Rajnath’s name was proposed as the consensus replacement for Gadkari. Support for Rajnath came not just from Soni, but also senior leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar. Sources also say that Modi and Jaitley had earlier put their weight behind Naidu, known to be close to both of them.

What played out in Delhi was more the outcome of internal politics in the Sangh than infighting in the BJP. The Sangh has had its way, but some senior leaders are quite unhappy over the “manner in which Rajnath has been made president” and say it has dented the Sangh’s image. As things spiralled out of control on January 22, sources confirm that Bhaiyyaji told Gadkari to propose Rajnath’s name for presidency. Sangh sources also confirm that Soni had had his way, settling scores not just within the Sangh but also with Gadkari. For he was reportedly miffed with the Sangh for curtailing his role in coordinating between the BJP and Nagpur. Of late the Sangh had entrusted to Bhaiyyaji a lot of Soni’s work. Soni also held a grudge against Gadkari after the unceremonious removal of his aide, Prabhat Jha, as the chief of the Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP. Senior BJP leaders confirm the infighting will only worsen after Rajnath’s takeover, given the meagre support he has within his own party. Singh’s only actual support comes from Sushma Swaraj; others are known to be opposed to him. As a senior party leader put it, “The slugfest has just begun.”


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Verma Committee Report: Police Reforms Are The Key – By Prakash Singh (Jan 28, 2013, Tehelka)

The infamous gang rape incident of Delhi has had reverberations across the world. The European Parliament, in a resolution, while welcoming the measures already initiated by government, called for a more coordinated response to gender-based violence. The IMF Chief, Christine Lagard, dedicated the “moment” to Damini (the Delhi gang rape victim) during her speech at the World Economic Forum. Within the country, there is, fortunately, a healthy debate on several important issues like governance of Delhi, the adequacy of existing laws on crimes against women, the justification of use of force on peaceful crowds which have a legitimate grievance, the apathy of citizens to victims of crime, et al. The Justice Verma Committee, which was appointed to suggest suitable amendments in criminal law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment to criminals committing crimes against women, has come up with a useful report which should strengthen the criminal justice system in achieving gender justice. The root cause for the current “unsafe environment”, as pointed out by the Committee, is the “failure of good governance”.

A number of measures have already been announced to improve police response to crimes against women – more visible night patrolling, increase in the number of PCR vans, checking of private buses, more help lines, etc. These knee-jerk reactions would however not take us far. The police needs comprehensive structural reforms. This was appropriately emphasised by Justice Verma when he called for “full compliance” of the Supreme Court’s directions of 2006, and said that this was of “utmost priority to national welfare including the welfare of women and children”. The Committee urged all the states “to tackle systemic problems in policing” and deplored that the judgment had not been implemented so far. “Any political interference or extraneous influence in the performance of the statutory duty by a policeman”, the Committee said, could not be “condoned” and the accountability of the police is “only to the law and to no one else in the discharge of their duty”.

It must be understood that police reforms, which essentially mean giving functional autonomy to the police, are not for the glory of the police. They are essentially to transform the colonial police into an instrument of service to the people, to metamorphose the present ‘Rulers’ Police’ into a ‘People’s Police’ accountable to the laws of the land and committed to upholding the Constitution of the country.

A reformed and restructured police is essential not only to uphold the rule of law but also to safeguard our democratic structure and sustain the momentum of economic progress. The gradual infiltration of criminal elements into the legislatures and the parliament is the greatest threat to our democracy. Insulation of police from extraneous pressures is absolutely necessary to deal with such elements. The Committee’s suggestion to disqualify a candidate, in the event of a magistrate taking cognizance of an offence against him, would go a long way in cleaning up the polity. Besides, economic progress can take place only in an atmosphere of good law and order.

The scope of police reforms should not be considered limited to the directions given by the Supreme Court. The Justice Verma Committee has rightly placed emphasis on certain other aspects of police functioning – the filing and registration of complaints, improvement in infrastructure at the police stations, adequate forensic support down to the district level, improving police welfare, community policing, performance appraisal based not on statistical figures but on yardsticks like public satisfaction, safety and security of women and success in preventing incidents of communal violence. The police, above all, must have a “moral vision” for the performance of its statutory duties.


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To Be Or Not To Be United – By TS Sudhir (Jan 27, 2013, Tehelka)

Wonder if Sushil Kumar Shinde was punished at school for not completing his homework on time. Now in his avatar as Union Home minister, he faces a police case of cheating for not delivering on his promise of a decision on Telangana within a month. A court in Andhra Pradesh has ordered that a similar case be booked against Shinde’s predecessor, P Chidambaram, who promised statehood to the region on December 9, 2009 only to backtrack a fortnight later. The Congress party’s refusal to adhere to any deadlines on Telangana has provided that spark to this emotional struggle for a separate state. With elections just 14 months away, this has galvanised the two principal pro-Telangana parties, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into action. Both hope to ride on the crest of the Telangana wave to maximise their electoral strength in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha.

The BJP, like an efficient marketing person, has sought to make itself look more attractive by reducing the time in which it will give Telangana. Last year, Sushma Swaraj had promised that her party will make Telangana a separate state within 100 days of coming to power in Delhi. Today Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reduced that period to 24 hours. The TRS that does not quite appreciate the saffron party competing for space, has upped the ante, its tone more shrill, promising to write the political obituary of the Congress in the region. The demands have been familiar: resign from your posts and party. The only issue with it is that Andhra Pradesh has seen this charade being played out too many times, with MPs, ministers, MLAs resigning only to find the Speaker sit on it for long and subsequently rejecting them.

Seven of the twelve Congress MPs from Telangana have promised to resign on Tuesday but privately they admit to being pushed to a corner. A first-time MP told Tehelka that he still hopes that the Congress may deliver Telangana and a show of defiance may spoil his chances of getting the party ticket next year. Surprisingly, the Telangana ministers in Kiran Kumar Reddy’s cabinet have struck a defiant note, refusing to quit. Over the next few days, they will be subjected to physical attacks at their homes, like it happened on earlier occasions. The Telangana Joint Action committee is also mooting boycotting them socially in the districts though it is not clear how they will manage to implement it.

Civil society activists, including students and government employees, who thronged the protest venue at Indira Park have no choice but to go with the political forces that are marshalling the agitation, even though they are skeptical of them. They realise that the same TRS that is badmouthing the Congress today was hobnobbing with it in Delhi three months ago. TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao’s habit of abruptly switching off the agitations in the past too has created doubts in the minds of Telangana votaries about what exactly is happening behind the scenes between the party and the Congress. Politically, the procrastination is anything but good news for the Congress. It is certain to draw a blank in most districts of Telangana, both due to the T-factor and because its governance record has been very mediocre. The challenge for the party is to take a call on what is good for its political prospects as well as the state and the country. Coming clean on what it plans to do on Telangana would be better than taking refuge in redefining a week or a month, Ghulam Nabi Azad-style.

While the TRS will be the biggest gainer, it also realises that it cannot be in agitation mode for more than a year. The challenge will be to keep the gunpowder ready, to be able to reignite the movement any time it wishes to. Having won only 26 and 10 MLAs in 2004 and 2009 respectively, next year’s polls will provide it the opportunity to come of age. For the common man in the Telangana districts, and Hyderabad in particular, the days of police barricades, protests, bandhs and sloganeering are back. A matter of worry for parents and students since exam season is nearing. None of this will do any good to Brand Hyderabad.


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West Bengal: Politics of violence – By Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay (Jan 26, 2013, Frontline)

The brutal attack on Abdur Rezzak Mollah, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers, is evidence that the politics of violence in West Bengal, which has been on the ascendance since the Trinamool Congress came to power in 2011, is showing no signs of abating.

Mollah, a Minister in the previous CPI(M)-led Left Front government and a nine-time MLA, was attacked when he went to the Bhangar area in South 24 Parganas district after receiving news of a local CPI(M) office being set on fire. The attack was allegedly led by the local Trinamool heavyweight, Arabul Islam, and his followers, who were holding a public meeting in the vicinity. The assailants continued to rain blows on the septuagenarian Communist leader even after he collapsed. His car was vandalised.

The Trinamool leadership made light of the incident, with State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim claiming that Mollah had got himself admitted to a private hospital merely “to get some rest in a beautiful house”. However, according to the hospital authorities, Mollah required stitches for facial injuries and even suffered a hairline crack in the spinal region.

The attack drew sharp criticism not only from a cross section of the political parties in the State, but also from a sizable section of Trinamool’s urban support base. Just two days after the attack, the Bhangar region was again on the boil when vehicles carrying CPI(M) supporters to a protest rally in Kolkata were set ablaze allegedly by Trinamool supporters. In the clash that followed, at least five people were seriously injured. Governor M.K. Narayanan described it as “goondaism”. This led to a war of words between him and ruling party leaders.

“With the panchayat elections approaching, attacks against our supporters and workers have been increasing. The State government, instead of trying to stop them, appears to be hand-in-glove with the culprits. None of the accused has been arrested,” Leader of the Opposition and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Surya Kanta Mishra told Frontline. According to the CPI(M), 85 of its activists have been killed and 5,743 injured and hospitalised since May 2011.


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Book Review

Muslims in Indian Cities: Trajectories of Marginalisation

Author: Eds. Laurent Gayer and Chritophe Jaffrelot
Reviewed by: By Ram Puniyani
Available at: Harper Collins, Delhi 2012, Pages: 403, Price Rs 499.
Shades of Muslim marginalization (Jan 25, 2013,

The welfare of the minority communities is the barometer of the health of a democracy. Going by that dictum, this book shows the poor health of Indian democracy, as reflected by, amongst other things, the marginalization of Muslim minorities. This edited volume contains eleven essays well written essays, which deal with study of the living spaces of Muslim community. The contributors to the volume have combined the field study with analytic observations of the quality of lives of Muslim community in these cities, some from the riot prone areas and other in the cities from former Muslim states. This largest religious minority of India, Muslims; have suffered a strange situation and have been subjected to communal violence and economic discrimination; both. These twin processes has given rise to the dynamics of politics from within the section of community which gives more importance to the identity issues. The violence and discrimination are the major factors leading to their marginality. This book is a unique contribution to the study of Indian Muslims and shows the immaculate editorial imprint of Chritophe Jafflerolt, who is a major authority on the politics of Hindu Right wing along with Laurent Gayer. The editors have not only contributed to study of one of the cities of the eleven discussed in the book, but their introduction to the volume and conclusions tightly sum up the theme of the book, the marginalization of Muslims from their earlier position of centrality.

The book revolves around the ghettoes, slums and other forms of segregation, including self segregation of the community during last six decades in particular. While the intensification of this phenomenon has taken place during last three decades in particular since the rise of Hindu nationalism, in conjunction with the compliant state. This whole trajectory of the phenomenon has shaken the faith of the community in the impartiality of the state. Muslims in India still bear the stigma of being responsible for the vivisection of the country, which is nowhere near to the truth. While making observations about the socio-economic and political condition of the Muslims, the editors in particular base their analysis around the fact that Muslims in India are no uniform community. Sachar committee and Rangnath Mishra Commission have brought out the dismal condition of Muslims, their discrimination in jobs and most of the aspects of economic life, in the arena of representation in jobs and electoral politics. To blame the madrassas for the plight of Muslims is also very much off the mark as only four percent of Muslim children go to the madrassas. It is in this light the talk of reservation for the Muslim community is gathering steam. Their representation in Lok Sabha, Parliament, is constantly declining, today with 13.4 % (2001 data) of Muslims, in Lok Sabha they are just 5.5%. The caste as factor of Muslim community is very much there, but the caste factor in this community is overall eclipsed by the religious identity as a minority.

Comparatively Muslims are a more urbanized religious group, and the fact is that urban Muslims are poorer that their rural counterparts. It is in this backgrounds that the book sets out to compare the place which the Muslim community occupies in the 11 Indian cities to observe that this minority is declining, in a non linear way. To understand these case studies included in the volume, authors survey the position of Muslims amongst the local elite group. The case studies also look at the condition of Muslims localities in Indian cities for testing the Ghettoisation thesis. The volume is a unique mix of quantitative with qualitative approach, drawing from the richness of each. The case studies do show the perception of three communities that ‘we are being pushed behind’. In Mumbai the large section of Muslims are forced to live near the largest garbage dump. One of the contributors Qudsiya Contractor argues that ‘state through its violent spatial strategies and the Hindu right through its cultural populism and communal politics, have played a crucial role’ in marginalization of this minority. Editors in their study of riot prone Ahmadabad, cull out a painful observation that in areas where there are no Muslims in Ahmadabad are regarded as ‘good’ areas! This observation tells a direction in which Indian democracy is being pushed over a period of time. In Ramganj in Jaipur, Gayatri Jaisingh Rathore observes that ‘social interaction with other religious groups is limited and the problems related to hygiene, education and unemployment abound’.

The editors quote Percival Spear approvingly where he says that, being relegated to the second class citizenship; Muslims have no future for them except their eventual absorption in Hindu mass. The decline of Muslims is not uniform all over India; they have been more resilient in Hindi belt, also known as cow belt. The process of ghettotisation is also very diverse. In this bleak scenario a section of new Muslim middle class is also emerging, around areas of meat export, leather goods, and Unani medicine and also in the newer areas like agribusiness, IT, pharmaceuticals and real estate. Connection with Gulf countries has also helped them in a major way. The book gives an interesting insight into the process of cultural occultation, which presents itself as ‘de-Islamized narrative’, which may be a tactical one, a survival mechanism. At the same time there is also re-Islamisation also there. How this dynamics of cultural occultation and re-Islamisation will play itself, time alone will tell. The totality of the process can be summed up in post partition fall and identity politics, over determination by communal violence and political obliteration and third is resilient cosmopolitanism. The totality of the process gets manifested in the spatial process of mixed localities, Enclaves, slums and Ghettoes. Mixed areas are replete with nostalgia and vestiges of syncretic culture. Enclaves are due to interaction of a desire to share common space with members of same community mostly after being pushed to ‘safe’ areas after communal violence. Ghettoes are dynamic self segregation in search of security.

The book comes are a very incisive indictment of the present state of affairs of Indian state, which is heavily tilted due to the communalization. The book gives not only a powerful incisive analysis and observation of Muslim community, but also presents the sad plight through which community is passing at the moment. The frightful prospect of de-islamisation is very much in the store. While coming powerfully on these major observations, it finally dismisses the need for reversal of the phenomenon through political and social initiatives. Barring the prescription of Mohalla committees, the book is silent on the immense possibilities of need for initiatives in the field of education, need for campaigns for physical security, the dire need to job provisions and economic alleviation, the subjective intervention to bridge the divides along religious lines needed to be mentioned and elaborated in the book dealing with the issue in such a profound way. Its content is a wakeup call to reverse the ongoing negative processes and need to try to restore the processes for communal amity and social peace, a pre requisite for development of any nation and a community.

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