Bring Narendra Modi to justice, urges meeting hosted by UK parliamentarians (Feb 27, 2014, Ekklesia.co.uk)
A packed meeting hosted by John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington and supported by Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, took place at Westminster yesterday (26 February), focusing on the role of Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat during the communal violence of 2002. … Messages of support were received from many individuals and organisations, including Sir Anish Kapoor, CBE, who is one of the world’s most eminent artists and Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC, a distinguished British barrister and human rights campaigner and Mike Wood, MP for Balley. Anish Kapoor wrote, “I am deeply grateful that you are doing this. We are in a moment of great danger and your call to our sense of justice is much needed”. Suresh Grover of The Monitoring Group outlined key events during the ‘orgy of violence’ in 2002 and Narendra Modi exposed: challenging the myths surrounding the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, an extensively researched report, was launched.
Professor Chetan Bhatt, Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics, spoke of Modi’s links with the ‘Hindutva’ movement, which uses the guise of religion for its extremist brand of politics, and of its “deliberate attempt to suppress freedom of speech” in this country. Virendra Sharma MP (Ealing Southall) had originally agreed to host the meeting but withdrew after coming under pressure from supporters of Modi, who had attempted to have the event cancelled. Pragna Patel, of Southall Black Sisters, spoke on the movement’s disturbing attitude to, and treatment of, women, including sexual violence “unprecedented in nature”. Gautam Appa, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, exposed the inaccuracy of claims often made by BJP supporters that the Supreme Court has cleared Modi of responsibility and that Gujarat is a model of good governance and prosperity.
“There is international consensus that Narendra Modi was responsible for the 2002 genocidal attacks in Gujarat” wrote Anish Kapoor. “India’ s long history of cultural and ethnic tolerance is gravely in peril with the rise of this politician whose association with the fascist right cannot any longer be hidden. It is deplorable therefore that Britain continues to dialogue with this man and that British parliamentarians and businessmen shamelessly extend a hand of friendship to him and his political associates.” Helena Kennedy warned that “Sectarianism is a scourge in our modern world and any politician or political party inciting, encouraging or creating a supportive landscape for such hostilities should be roundly condemned. Modi is a serious danger to peace in India and beyond. I strongly support the campaign to expose the threat he and his supporters present.”
A parliamentary Early Day Motion was announced, and a delegation of MPs to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office asked that there should be no engagement with Modi until he has been held legally accountable for his role in the violence. The meeting also heard that action is underway for an international tribunal on genocide in Gujarat. Imran Dawood, who was with his uncles when they were killed during the horrific communal violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 was also present at the meeting. Over 1,500 people died (including three British nationals), hundreds of women were raped and 200,000 people driven from their homes.
Mr Dawood survived despite his own injuries and his family are pursuing a civil case against Modi. “We have no hatred in our hearts of anybody. We are Gujaratis and love Gujarat and its culture”, he said. However, he pointed out that “you can’t just brush things under the carpet if you’re going to progress.” Mike Wood, MP for Batley where the Dawoods lived, sent a message of support: “I extend my whole-hearted support for prosecuting Mr Modi, not least for the communal violence in the state of Gujarat in 2002 which claimed so many innocent lives including that of my constituents and their driver. He should remain banned from this country irrespective of the results of the upcoming Indian elections until he has been brought to account for his actions in fermenting racial and religious violence and bigotry.”
- Row in British parliament complex over Narendra Modi’s past (Feb 28, 2014, Indian Express)
- 12 years of Gujarat genocide – justice still eludes, Modi must be punished for “Crimes against Humanity” (Feb 28, 2014, Muslim Mirror)
- On 12th anniversary of Guj riot, CLMC demand prosecution of Modi (Feb 28, 2014, Twocircles.net)
- 12 years on, victim awaits compensation (Feb 28, 2014, DNA India)
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No change in US stand on the communal violence in Gujarat, Jen Psaki says (Feb 28, 2014, Times of India)
The United States continues to express concern about communal violence in India, the Obama administration has said, strongly refuting reports that it has gone soft on the Gujarat communal riots in 2002 and the alleged role of its chief minister Narendra Modi. “I wouldn’t characterize our assessment that way. I think you’ll find if you review the text that we’re very clear about our concerns about several episodes of communal violence across India,” US state department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday.
Psaki was responding to a question on the latest annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by secretary of state John Kerry. “If Modi was mentioned in previous human rights reports for India by name, then (why) he is not mentioned in this one,” she was asked. Paski said that there is no change in the US policy on the communal riots that took place in Gujarat about a decade ago. Both the annual reports of the 2011 and 2012 mentions Modi in its report but it in no way refers to his role in the communal riots.
The latest report said that, “Civil society activists continued to express concern about the Gujarat government’s failure to protect the population or arrest many of those responsible for communal violence in 2002 that resulted in the killings of more than 1,200 persons, the majority of whom were Muslim, although there was progress in several court cases,” the report said. “The Gujarat government appointed the Nanavati-Mehta Commission to investigate the 2002 violence. In December the Gujarat government granted an extension for the 21st time, extending the commission to June 30, 2014,” it said.
The state department said the Gujarat government withdrew its consent to seek death penalty for former minister Maya Kodnani and others convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patiya violence that killed 97 Muslims. The investigating agency questioned the Gujarat government’s move in a petition in the Supreme Court in June. Kodnani, the first senior politician to be convicted for 2002 violence, was sentenced to a 28-year jail term for her involvement in the post-Godhra riots case.
The report also talked about last year’s communal violence in the Muzaffarnagar area of Uttar Pradesh that led to 65 reported deaths, and left 42,000 people displaced, and led to hundreds of injuries during the months of August and September. “The violence started with a sexual harassment incident between a Muslim man and a Hindu Jat woman and escalated following a political meeting of officials and others from more than 300 local villages during the weekend of September 7-8,” it said.
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Gulbarg society riot victims move court, want speedy trial (Mar 3, 2014, Economic Times)
The victims and witnesses in the Gulbarg society riot case approached the special court here today seeking a speedy trial, and accused the Supreme Court appointed special investigation team of delaying the proceedings. Saira Sandhi, Salim Sandhi, Rupa Mody and Firoz Gulzar Pathan filed the application before the special SIT court, alleging that SIT officials were intentionally delaying the probe, and consequently the trial.
“SIT officials did not cooperate with special prosecutor R K Shah, who used to work sincerely to get justice for victims. The harassment on the part of the officials made him quit the case,” the application said. “SIT has opposed the pleas filed by us to arraign policemen P C Pande, M K Tandon, P B Gondia and first investigator S S Chudasama as accused in this case.
“On May 23, 2012 it moved the Gujarat High Court against the special court’s order asking SIT to place entire report, prepared on Zakia Jafri’s allegations against (Narendra) Modi and others in connection with the 2002 riots,” it said. “But without any reason, SIT withdrew its petition on February 19. This has delayed the proceedings by 19 months,” the application said.
The special judge K K Bhatt directed the SIT to reply next week. On February 28, 2002, a mob attacked Gulburg Society here, killing 69 people including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, as the post-Godhra violence engulfed the state.
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Gujarat’s UGLY secret EXPOSED: People paying Rs 12 lakh as BRIBE for a job with monthly salary of just R 5300! (Feb 28, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)
Contrary to Narendra Modi’s claims of development and high employment in the state, the Gujarat police on Thursday busted a job racket in which a BJP leader was reportedly taking bribes of Rs. 10 lakh for each job. More than 12 lakh youths had applied for 1500 jobs with a month salary of just Rs.5,300. The police has arrested BJP leader Kalyansinh Champawat on charges of luring youths by promising them a job of ‘talati’ in exchange for Rs. 10 lakhs. He was caught with lakhs of rupees and currency counting machine.
He was engaged as “trainer” for the local leaders of BJP and RSS. The unusually high number of applicants for a few vacancies exposes the Modi government’s ‘tall’ claims of high employment in the state.
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Rajnath tries to bury ghosts of 2002, Congress says Modi must apologise (Feb 26, 2014, IBN)
In a bid to boost its electoral fortunes, the Bharatiya Janata Party has reached out to the Muslims as party President Rajnath Singh said he was ready to apologise for any past mistakes, a reference to the 2002 Gujarat riots. Rajnath has even asked the minority community to give the party a chance. The Congress and the BSP were not impressed by it and said that BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi should rather apologise to the Muslims.
Modi may be high on opinion polls, but he has always been perceived to be low on secularist principles. With elections just a few weeks away, Rajnath has chosen to deal with the party’s perception of being anti-minority. Rajnath said, “If we have made a mistake in the past, I apologise for it. In future if we make a mistake, I will bow my head before you.” In the run up to Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Rajnath had addressed a similar convention in Jaipur but he did not express apology for any past action.
Rajnath’s remarks have, however, raised many questions. The remarks are being seen either as an attempt made to bury the ghosts of 2002 riots or to project himself as an inclusive leader of BJP. It is also being seen as a clever brand positioning in the event of Modi not being acceptable to possible future allies. Meanwhile, the Congress said Modi should apologise. Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, “Why is Rajnath Singh apologising? It is Modi who should apologise. It is not Rajnath’s fault.”
Ironically in 2004, post the election debacle, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself had described the Godhra riots as one of the key reasons for the BJP’s defeat. Now a decade later while Modi continues to use the clean chit given to him by the courts a means to shy away from the word ‘sorry’, Rajnath was trying to correct an impression which many believe has haunted the BJP.
- Uttar Pradesh Muslims reject Rajnath’s apology offer (Feb 27, 2014, Deccan Chronicle)
- BJP Chief’s apology remark political gimmick: WPI (Feb 27, 2014, Twocircles.net)
- BJP should apologise to whole country, not only Muslims: Salman Khurshid on Godhra riots (Feb 26, 2014, DNA India)
- Did BJP apologise for Babri Masjid or 2002 Gujarat riots, asks Muslim cleric (Feb 26, 2014, IBN)
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Riot accused BJP MLA Rajkumar Thukral’s bail plea rejected (Feb 28, 2014, IBN)
A court here on Friday rejected the bail plea of BJP MLA Rajkumar Thukral, who had surrendered recently in connection with a case of rioting, after being on the run for four months. District and Sessions Judge of Udhamsingh Nagar R C Kukreti refused to grant him bail on account of the gravity of the charges against him, Tukral’s counsel Diwakar Pandey said.
CJM Ashutosh Mishra’s court has already rejected Thukral’s bail application on February 26, the day he surrendered in his court. Thukral was absconding since issuance of an non-bailable warrant by a court against him on October 16 in connection with Rudrapur riots of 2011, which left four dead and 60 injured. The riots had erupted after torn pages of a holy book were found outside a place of worship in the town.
His failure to appear in court despite repeated notices led to attachment of his property on December 28. He was declared an absconder after that and a reward of Rs 2,500 was announced for anyone giving information on his whereabouts.
The case had been handed over to the CB-CID last year which had filed FIRs against Thukral and others charging them with inciting violence during Rudrapur riots. Opposition BJP has been alleging that the MLA is innocent and being framed as part of a conspiracy to end his political career.
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Clash between two communities leaves 1 dead, 18 injured in UP (Feb 25, 2014, Times of India)
One person was killed and 18 others injured when two communities clashed over construction of a platform of a religious place in Mohammadpur Bazar area in Azamgarh and went on a rampage, ransacking shops and setting vehicles on fire.
The husband of the village head of Rasoolpur village was constructing the platform of a religious place when the members of the other community objected to it and beat him up yesterday following which both sides clashed and indulged in heavy brickbatting, police said on Tuesday.
A mob then ransacked the market area, damaging three dozen shops and setting two motorcycles on fire, police said, adding traffic on the Azamgarh-Varanasi and Allahabad state highway remained disrupted for about four hours because of the incident.
There are also reports of firing in the market, police said, adding the situation was brought under control when police and PAC were rushed from the headquarters late in the night. The deceased has been identified as Vijay Prasad Yadav (32), police said, adding a seriously injured youth, Azhar (20) has been referred to Varanasi hospital. Some other seriously injured persons were undergoing treatment in local hospitals.
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Post Muzaffarnagar, has Mulayam become ‘Modi’ to UP’s Muslims? (Feb 26, 2014, First Post)
Despite pounding the BJP incessantly for sparking riots in Muzaffarnagar, come elections, Muslim votes might just swing away from Mualayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. A report on The Times of India states that Muslims in Uttar Pradesh seem to be fast losing faith in the SP government.
TOI reports: “They appear determined to shift their allegiance from the ruling Samajwadi Party even as they don’t seem sure of just which party to back to stop the Narendra Modi juggernaut running through the region. This could well prove beneficial to Modi, whose prime ministerial bid hinges on his Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance in the state and especially this region.”
While BJP MLAs had been apprehended following the riots and some proof regarding their involvement furnished, Muslim votes for SP are seemingly on a wane as the voters seem to be preferring BSP and even newbie Aam Aadmi Party in the state to the incumbent SP government. …
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No flats for Muslims, says Bandra to saviour of Indians stuck in Kuwait (Feb 28, 2014, Times of India)
In September 1990, Captain Zainul Abidin Juvale, master of a cargo vessel called MV Safeer, became master of the fate of 722 Indians who sailed out with him from Kuwait to Dubai. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s troops had invaded Kuwait and the Indians there were stranded for over a month. Tanweer Khalfay, one of the passengers on Juvale’s vessel, had told TOI (September 12, 1990): “The BBC team that covered our arrival in Dubai called him [Juvale] a hero, but we don’t need foreigners to tell us that.”
For over a month now, Juvale has been house-hunting in Bandra (W), but he is unable to buy a flat when he likes one. The brokers have frankly told him that the societies where he has shown interest have an unwritten rule: not to rent or sell flats to Muslims. “Nobody asked me my religion when I risked my life to rescue fellow Indians who faced starvation and death in Kuwait,” says Juvale. “Now I am being made aware of my Muslim identity.”
Juvale, whose family originally comes from the Konkan, proudly says that he is a Maharashtrian. His grandfather, Fakir Mohamed Juvale, was the first Indian captain in the merchant navy and was instrumental in opening the first nautical school in the country in 1923. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1981. “My grandfather’s autobiography was first published in Marathi,” says Juvale. “I never thought that my own city, Mumbai, and especially Bandra, which I call the most cosmopolitan area in the city, would shut its doors on me.”
For a Muslim, finding a home outside a Muslim ghetto is a real problem in the city. Seven years ago, Zafar Sareshwala, a businessman from Ahmedabad who had settled in England after the 2002 riots, moved to the city and underwent a similar experience. “I must have seen more than a dozen flats and everywhere I was told that they were not for Muslims,” says he. A veteran broker who took TOI reporters around a 2-BHK sea-facing flat in Pali Naka, Bandra, says he no longer takes prospective buyers to societies which might discriminate against Muslims.
He says he now takes clients only to buildings with “cosmopolitan mindsets”. Amir Rizvi, who started a ‘Flats Without Brokers’ page on Facebook in 2007 says there is segregation in the city, which is further perpetuated by real estate brokers. “They take potential clients to areas that have been unofficially earmarked for Muslims,” says Rizvi. “Millat Nagar near Lokhandwala, pockets in Bandra (west), Jogeshwari, [and outside the city] Mira Road, Kalyan, Mumbra and Bhiwandi have come up as Muslim areas.” …
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No action yet against cop guilty of shielding rape accused (Mar 4, 2014, The Hindu)
Even six months after a Public Grievances Cell inquiry concluded that a lady Inspector at a district Crime Against Women Cell colluded with three rape and molestation accused, the Delhi Police are yet to take legal or disciplinary action against her. In August last year, the PG inquiry concluded that Inspector Shashi’s inquiry report helped the accused in getting bail. She had prepared the status report on the inquiry into the allegations as per their dictation. The police officer, Shashi, just signed it before submitting it to the Court.
The victim claimed that unaware of the fact that CAWs do not probe rape cases and heeding to the advice of an acquaintance, who referred Shashi’s name, she approached her in December 2012 to seek action against Rajiv Chauhan, Akash Nangia and Samir Dhingra. In her complaint to the PG cell, the victim claimed that Shashi assured her that she would help her. She also alleged that back then, Shashi told her to sign the complaint mentioning Dilshad Garden, an area falling under the North-East District, as her address. This despite being told by the victim that she lived in South-East Delhi.
After this Shashi called the accused to get their versions and interacted with them regularly. Thereafter Shashi began ignoring and avoiding the victim before finally conveying to her that the matter did not fall under her jurisdiction. The victim then got a case registered in the Hazrat Nizamuddin police station in January 2013 on the directions of the Delhi High Court. While hearing the bail applications of the accused in that case, counsels of the accused told the court that the victim had made the allegations to extort money. The court concerned directed the Investigation Officer to verify the facts who took Inspector Shashi’s status report on file. A part of the status report also pointed towards a character assassination bid on the victim.
The status report concluded that it was unsafe to rely on a “bald complaint” and that the conduct of the complainant was not trustworthy. Shashi had also recommended a closure of the inquiry against the accused citing that the victim was filled with ulterior motives to extort money. It is alleged that this helped the accused in securing bail. Against the status report, the victim approached the Public Grievance Cell of the North-East District which submitted its report last August concluding that the allegations made by the victim against the Inspector were substantiated.
It also concluded that the father of accused Akash Nangia was in touch with the Inspector and 643 calls were made between them in a span of four months. It went on to add that it showed that Shashi’s statement of communicating and contacting him just for the purpose of inquiry was not true. The victim also alleged that she was framed in a false cheating case in Chandigarh which was registered on the complaint of the accused in the rape case only to pressurise her to get her complaint quashed.
- Manipur woman molested, Delhi cops face anger (Mar 2, 2014, Hindustan Times)
- Cop held for molesting woman in volvo bus (Feb 25, 2014, Mumbai Mirror)
- Senior IAS officer BB Mohanty accused of raping civil services aspirant,Court issues non-bailable warrant (Feb 28, 2014, Indian Express)
- Retired judge demands review of anti-rape law (Feb 25, 2014, Times of India)
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Opinions and Editorials
A Terror-tainted Prime Minister? – By Mustafa Khan (Feb 22, 2014, Mainstream)
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad gave a call for a strike in Gujarat on February 28, 2002. It was the chief of the VHP in Ahmedabad, Jaideep Patel, to whom Chief Minister Narendra Modi handed over the 58 bodies of burnt passengers of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra. Again, the VHP was at the Goa conclave of the BJP to force the Prime Minister of India, A.B. Vajpayee, to abandon his determination to change the head of government in Gandhinagar a few months after the pogrom. Given this clout of the Hindu supremacist outfit, can a future Prime Minister so close to Hindutva even dream of following his executive discretion in strategic national interests, overriding religious affiliation and considerations?
When the official newsletter of the VHP headlined, “What Gujarat does, India will have to do tomorrow”, it was not a mere blueprint of town planning. It said clearly that Hindutva alone mattered in the State and would matter in India if Modi came to power. Even Arun Shourie held out the threat that if Muslims persisted in demanding the implementation of the Sachar Commission recommendations, no one could stop Modi from marching to Delhi. The very day after the then PM, V.P. Singh, accepted the Mandal Commission report and agreed to implement it, L.K. Advani declared his rath yatra for building a temple for Ram at the disputed place in Ayodhya. After 1992 and 2002 is there a bigger bloodshed in the making?
It is not the VHP or the RSS which will bring matters to a head. It was Modi who decided to call the fire accident a terrorist attack to initiate the pogrom. The decision came from him. The “heart of darkness” is within him. He has decided to exterminate the “brutes”, much in the way that the former PM of Israel, Golda Meir, decided to exterminate the “rodents”, the Palestinians. The “brutes” were breeding fast and multiplying, as Modi never tires of repeating. … The road from Dangs goes straight to Malegaon. Sunil Joshi and Pragya Singh and their associates took it. Joshi reportedly rode Pragya Singh’s motor bike, with her riding pillion. Narendra Modi maintains that road.
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Apologies and vote banks – Editorial (Mar 1, 2014, The Hindu)
The chase for vote banks is the surest sign that an election is in the offing. So with the general election less than two months away, it is no surprise that political parties are offering protection, prosperity and more to Muslims. Nonetheless, it does seem odd when the Bharatiya Janata Party woos the community with the same passion as those among its rivals whom it has always accused of practising vote bank politics. In the event, BJP chief Rajnath Singh went beyond customary entreaties to offer a general apology to Muslims for whatever hurt the party may have caused them in the past.
This is the farthest the BJP has gone vis-a-vis Muslims, with whom it has so far shared an uneasy equation – as much on account of the party’s belief in majoritarian Hindutva as because of its calculation that it stands to gain electorally from religious polarisation. Against this backdrop, Mr. Singh’s overture raises some questions: What explains the attempted inclusion? And secondly, is this enough to bring around a community that has felt deeply alienated by the BJP’s exclusivist philosophy? After all, the BJP’s opposition to Muslim welfare schemes, which it characterises as “appeasement”, is a matter of record.
That the BJP does not need the Muslim vote is an open secret. But it is an equally well-established fact of history that no party or alliance can rule this country without showing at least a semblance of accommodation towards the community. The ‘sectarian’ image of the BJP was balanced by the many ‘secular’ constituents in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance. The same constituents deserted the alliance, unfailingly citing the 2002 anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat. With the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, as its prime ministerial nominee, the BJP’s task becomes that much more difficult, and hence Mr. Rajnath Singh’s offer to apologise. But critically, the offer has not come from Mr. Modi himself.
Asked if he regretted the 2002 violence, Mr. Modi, in a 2013 interview to Reuters, generalised about pain and hurt, using the metaphor of a puppy coming under a car. Not just this, arguing before the Supreme Court recently, the Gujarat Government disputed the very constitution of the Rajinder Sachar Committee on the ground that it was only for Muslims. Set up in 2006, the Sachar Committee was a landmark effort at evaluation of Muslim deprivation; it concluded that on some indices, Muslims were worse off than Dalits. Not surprisingly, Sachar is today an article of faith with the community. Muslims will regard the BJP’s apology offer as a gimmick – unless it is accompanied by verifiable action on the ground.
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Modi Shows his Hindutva Color – By Dr. Habib Siddiqui (Feb 25, 2014, Asian Tribune)
Well, when a bird flies like a duck, swims like a duck and sounds like a duck it is no brainer that it is a duck. Narendra Modi, the BJP leader, has for some time tried to sell his ‘development’ image that he is pro-business, hiding his true Hindutvadi self until, of course, very recently.
In his recent visit to India’s north-east corner, Assam, a state bordering Bangladesh, which always had a sizable number of Bengalis – Hindus and Muslims – for hundreds of years since before the British colonization and has been the scene of multiple pogroms against Bengali Muslims at the hands of murderous Assamese racists and bigots since the early 1980s, Modi sounded like a fanatic Hindu leader stoking fear amongst the state’s Muslim population.
The state has a history of denying citizenship rights to anyone who is Bengali speaking as if it belongs to its Assamese people only. As such, even the Hindus who had lived there for decades, or migrated to the region after the Partition of India in 1947, are viewed as outsiders. They continue to be denied citizenship rights, and can’t vote. Modi wants to give that right to Hindu inhabitants of Assam but not Muslims in spite of the fact that historically many parts of Assam had sizable number of Muslims. …
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When the good is not good enough – By Faizan Mustafa (Feb 28, 2014, The Hindu)
The protection of minorities is the hallmark of a civilisation. The debate on the status of minorities should ideally be lifted from the outdated communalism versus secularism, and the nationalism versus sectarianism debates, and placed in the context of the philosophy of democracy, goals of equality and rights jurisprudence. The case for minority rights in general and Muslims in particular should derive from and be legitimised by our understanding of democracy.
Though Muslims are in the majority only in Lakshadweep and Jammu and Kashmir, there are six States where the Muslim population is above the national average. There are 110 so-called minority-concentrated districts — areas where Muslims account for at least 20 per cent of the total population. No party can afford to ignore the community’s problems as the voting pattern of Muslims influences the outcome of an election; yet, no party has done much to uplift and integrate the community into the mainstream.
The Finance Minister did try to reach out to the minorities in the recent vote-on-account by increasing the allocation to the Minority Affairs Ministry by 12 per cent or Rs. 3,511 crore. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has also moved the Supreme Court on 4.5 per cent reservation for minorities in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota. This reservation was provided just before the 2011 Uttar Pradesh elections. It is a different story that the Congress failed to win over Muslims with quota politics. The secular Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Trinamool Congress, the Janata Dal (United) and the communist parties also assert that the UPA has done nothing for the Muslims in the last one decade, while the UPA’s Minority Affairs Minister claims that this decade has been the community’s golden period. Therefore, the UPA’s Muslim empowerment deserves critical evaluation.
There is truth in the fact that these 10 years have been quite productive for the Muslims. UPA-I’s de-saffaronisation was a great achievement and no future secular government will have the luxury of having as strong and determined a Human Resources Development Minister as Arjun Singh. Text books were changed under the National Democratic Alliance rule, but the National Council of Educational Research and Training’s present curriculum is a tribute to Mr. Singh’s strong secular approach.
Muslims, in their criticism of the UPA government, must understand that the responsibility lies with the States; the Central government cannot be blamed for all problems. Central allocations remain unspent in many States. Moreover, at the ground level, minorities have to overcome bureaucratic prejudices and at times even communalism. …
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Hindu fundamentalists vs. Hinduism – By Stephen Prothero (Feb 23, 2014, USA Today)
After the egging, the pulping. In London in 2003, a protester threw an egg at University of Chicago Sanskrit scholar Wendy Doniger, who was lecturing on the popular Hindu epic the Ramayana. The egg missed its mark, but during the Q&A other protesters continued the assault, insisting that non-Hindus like Doniger had no right to tell them what Hinduism is all about.
This month, Penguin Books India agreed to withdraw Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History from Indian bookstores and pulp any remaining copies. The settlement came in response to a complaint filed by Dinanath Batra, head of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, a Hindu fundamentalist group that opposes sex education in Indian schools and textbooks that deviate from its Hinduvta(“Hinduness”) interpretation of Indian history.
If you see a culture war here, you are not far wrong. Like the American culture wars, this contest features a “moral majority” that claims to speak for all true believers, even as it laments its victimhood at the hands of a secular state.…
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Dalits, death and the fight for dignity – By Yogesh Pawar (Feb 16, 2014, DNA India)
The caste conflict continues to play out in villages across Maharashtra with Dalits not only being denied access to common burial and cremation grounds but also being prevented from using land specifically demarcated for them. As angry voices rise in rebellion against injustices that pull an advancing India back to regressive times, there are some victories too. Yogesh Pawar reports on the caste crisis that refuses to let go – even in death.
The funeral procession returned, triumphant and tearful. The group of Dalits in Maharashtra’s Thole village had cremated one of their own but the sorrow came tinged with the unmistakable victory of standing firm against powerful upper caste forces that had been denying them access to land to bury and cremate their dead. It was November 26, 2013, and the Parbhani collectorate was readying to observe the 63rd anniversary of the adoption of the constitution, drafted ironically by Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar. But the protest by Dalit activists was threatening to spoil the show.
Alerted to the nearly 500 Dalits from the Matang community marching towards the collectorate from Thole 25 km away, police were out in full force. The group was angry, and determined that 70-year-old Girijaji Ganpati Uphade, who had died the day before, be given his due respect. “I don’t know how I got the idea,” says Ganpati Bhise, who had mobilised the Dalits against “an upper caste injustice that denies Dalitsdignity even in death”.
Perhaps it came from struggling for over two decades through his organisation, Samajik Nyay Andolan (SNA), for the restoration of cremation tracts to Dalits who, as part of the continuing caste system, have traditionally had separate land to dispose their dead. Parbhani collector Sachindra Pratap, who had first mocked protestors, realised that the mood was quickly turning ugly when protestors refused all offers of talks, said villagers.
“Bhise told them if you don’t solve this problem for good, we’ll bury the body on the collectorate premises,” Vishwanath Gavare, who was part of the protest, remembers. “Within an hour, the local tehsildar was summoned and land records were traced. A document certifying the land was a cremation tract for Dalits was drawn and given to us.” … Clearly, the more things change in an India on the rise, the more they remain the same – at least for some sections of the people. High time then, for the caste cauldron to be taken off the fire. And the Thole story is replicated.
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