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Ishrat Jahan encounter

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 10th, 2014

by newsdigest on February 11, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/29966168.cms

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-cops-ignored-hindu-terror-leads-says-officer-who-arrested-aseemanand-1959897

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

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

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

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

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/shinde-hints-at-conducting-probe-in-samjhauta-express-blast-case-114020601050_1.html

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

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

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

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

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/ishrat-jahan-encounter-case-amit-shah-not-named-in-cbi-chargesheet/1/342078.html

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/opposition-scuttles-communal-violence-bill-rs/article5656766.ece

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/giani-zail-singh-daughter-says-pm-govt-ignored-his-pleas-for-help/1/341471.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/29920722.cms

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/hc-asks-cops-to-file-fresh-report-in-arunachal-student-case/

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/2-cops-held-3-missing-after-probe-finds-they-threw-body-from-police-jeep/

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2014-02-09/bhopal/47168138_1_dr-jagdish-sagar-pmt-scam-dr-pankaj-trivedi

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Opinions and Editorials

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

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

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

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

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?289455

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.countercurrents.org/gatade060214.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/Ft667DfOmDQKRGbHQZWu6M/In-Narendra-Modi-big-money-backs-the-wrong-man-in-India.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/riots-and-wrongs/

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

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

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

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

http://www.tehelka.com/the-police-would-intimidate-photographers-taking-pictures-of-the-riots/

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://world.time.com/2014/02/06/nido-taniam-india-racism/

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Book Review

26/11 probe: Why Judiciary also Failed

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.tehelka.com/Mumbais-Black-Book/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 25th, 2013

by newsdigest on November 26, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Vice president calls for communal harmony (Nov 25, 2013, Business Standard)

Vice President Hamid Ansari Monday called for maintaining communal harmony and national integration in the country. A delegation of National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH) met Ansari here as part of the communal harmony campaign and fund raising week.

The group comprised NFCH secretary Ashok Sajjanhar and five children – two each from Assam and Jammu & Kashmir, and one from Maharashtra. “The vice president interacted with the delegation and called for maintaining communal harmony and national integration in the country,” said an official statement.

The campaign is observed every year from Nov 19-25 to raise funds for rehabilitation of child victims of communal, caste, ethnic violence and promotion of national integration.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/vice-president-calls-for-communal-harmony-113112500572_1.html

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Sex CD forced Modi govt to tail woman, SC told (Nov 24, 2013, Times of India)

Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma on Saturday put Narendra Modi right at the centre of the raging controversy over Gujarat government’s purported illegal surveillance on a woman by telling the Supreme Court that the young architect was subjected to hostile and intense scrutiny because the Gujarat CM was enamoured by her. In his petition to the SC seeking a CBI probe into the alleged violation of the woman’s right to privacy and the Indian Telegraph Act by Modi and his political aide Amit Shah, Sharma has alleged that he was suspended and framed in half a dozen cases between 2010 and 2012 because of Modi’s suspicion that he knew about the contents of a Video Compact Disc (VCD) allegedly showing the woman in a compromising position. This is the first time BJP’s PM candidate has been directly accused of complicity in the “snoopgate”. The original charge was directed at Shah, with two investigating websites alleging that Modi’s confidant illegally directed police in 2009 to keep tabs on the woman because of the wishes of “saheb”.

He has dismissed as an afterthought the Gujarat government’s claim that the woman’s father had approached the Modi government to ensure her safety by keeping an eye on her, and said that the tapes of Shah’s purported conversation with police officer G L Singhal make it clear that she was victim of a hostile and intrusive scrutiny in violation of her right to privacy as well as the Indian Telegraph Act. Claiming that he had introduced the architect from Bangalore, originally hailing from Bhuj in Gujarat, to Modi in 2004 when she was 27 years old. “The applicant (Sharma) verily believes that Modi and the said female architect remained in touch with each other for next several years. There was also wide spread rumours regarding the Video Compact Disc (VCD) featuring the said female architect and a man in compromising position,” his application filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes stated.

“Sharma has no concern with this VCD, But, he believes that Modi harboured a totally misconceived apprehension that Sharma is the recipient of the information regarding this VDC, the contents of which if disclosed in public would be detrimental to the carefully constructed and publicized image of Modi and consequently damage his electoral prospects,” the suspended bureaucrat said. “It is for this reason that a number of false and frivolous cases against the applicant herein were registerd with a view to implicate him and ‘punish him’,” he said. Filing and bringing on the record of the Supreme Court transcripts of the entire footage telecast by websites ‘Cobrapost’ and ‘Gulail’, Sharma said the conversations between Shah, then minister of state for home in Gujarat, and G L Singhal, then SP in Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in Ahmedabad, was during the period August-September 2009 when Singhal was reporting to Shah.

“The transcripts of the taped conversations reveal that the said lady architect and the applicant (Sharma) were placed under an all-pervasive and intrusive surveillance at the behest of a person referred to as ‘Saheb” by Amit Shah,” he said. He alleged that the taped conversations revealed “severe and material violations” of the Indian telegraph Act, 1885, and an absolute disregard to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in its December 18, 1996 judgment in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties case. Terming the explanation that the ‘snooping’ on the woman was being done at her father’s behest as an ‘after thought”, Sharma said, “this explanation seems absolutely incredulous and unworthy of any belief in the light of the contents of conversations between Shah and Singhal, which reveal that the surveillance was extremely intrusive and hostile and not as innocuous and benign as sought to be made”.

The purported ‘no objection’ from the woman’s father did not absolve Modi, Shah and others of brazenly violating the law and the guidelines laid down by the apex court, he said and pleaded that the truth would be buried if the Gujarat Police investigated into the matter. “It is important to note that the state intelligence bureau, the crime branch of Ahmedabad city police and the ATS were all involved in this illegal telephone interceptions and surveillance without having any role to play in the investigations relating to the case in hand,” Sharma said.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-11-24/india/44411866_1_amit-shah-narendra-modi-sharma

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US lawmakers move anti-Modi resolution (Nov 20, 2013, Hindustan Times)

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers on Monday introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives demanding that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi should continue to be denied a visa. And to keep up the pressure on the issue, the resolution demands that the US must include religious freedom and human rights in its on-going strategic dialogue with India.

Introduced by Keith Ellison, a Democrat, and Joe Pitts, a Republican, the resolution found 13 co-sponsors – eight Democrats and five Republicans, making it a bipartisan effort. “The victims of events like the riots in Gujarat demand justice,” said Pitts. “This resolution’s strong bipartisan support shows that the rights of religious minorities in India are a priority for the US Congress,” said Ellison.

The resolution was moved on the eve of Republican party’s first ever outreach to the Indian American community on Capitol Hill, offering up party leaders for on-site schmoozing. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a co-host of the outreach, is among the leading backers of Modi, having visited him in Gujarat earlier in the year with two other Republican lawmakers.

They had assured Modi they would do everything possible to get him a visa to visit the US. On their return, they raised the issue at several platforms including congressional hearings. The Ellison-Pitt resolution intends to prevent that. “A large number of these lawmakers have been concerned by efforts under way to get Modi a visa,” said Shaik Ubaid, a leading member of the anti-Modi Campaign Against Genocide.

The chief minister was denied an official visa in 2005 because of the 2002 Gujarat riots, and a tourist/business he already held was cancelled at the same time. The state department has maintained that Modi is free to apply, but there hasn’t been any change in US position. Lawmakers want that to continue, according to the proposed resolution.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1153371.aspx

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Trouble for Modi? Damning details of Ishrat killing given to SC (Nov 25, 2013, First Post)

The Gujarat snooping row is still to die down, but another set of explosive statements could soon besiege Narendra Modi, it seems. This time, it is IPS officer GL Singhal’s statements to the CBI in connection with the Ishrat Jahan encounter killing, now part of suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma’s affidavit to the Supreme Court on the snooping scandal. Three sets of statements given by Singhal to the CBI earlier this year, allegedly containing “damning details” of the encounter according to a report in The Economic Times are part of Sharma’s latest affidavit. According to the report, Singhal has told the CBI he was coerced into participating in activities that obstructed the process of law. The report also said that Singhal had told CBI he had “serious objections” to killing Ishrat.

The statement to the CBI says: “I had said, we let her go, and had promised to ensure that she would not spill the beans about this operation to anyone… Despite my strong objections, Vanzara insisted on keeping the motive involving the CM and on killing the girl and branding her later as a woman terrorist…” His own interrogation of one of the men had indicated that Modi was not the target, the report says. Vanzara, also now in jail and facing trial, reportedly told him the matter had been checked with “kaali daadhi and safed daadhi”, allegedly codenames for Amit Shah and Narendra Modi respectively.

Singhal gave the statements to the CBI in April this year. His teenage son had committed suicide last year, following which, Singhal had said, he wanted to speak the truth for “inner comfort”. Expectedly, the BJP has charged the Congress with piggy-backing on “disgruntled” officers to fire a fresh barrage of allegations against their prime ministerial candidate. In a post on Facebook, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the Congress is actually running scared of the Modi wave and is engineering scandals to discredit the BJP’s campaign for the 2014 polls.

“They are back to their old game of detecting a disgruntled police officer or a civil servant and getting him to make absurd charges. This didn’t work when Sanjeev Bhatt did it. It won’t work with Congress party’s newly discovered suspended civil servant doing it,” Jaitley wrote. The latest allegations against Modi, perhaps the strongest until now, surfaced on 15 November when investigative websites Gulail and Cobrapost aired stories saying the Gujarat government and Minister of State for Home Amit Shah had in 2009 ordered illegal use of surveillance teams and technology to keep a watch on a woman in Ahmedabad, allegedly at the behest of an unnamed ‘Saheb’. Shah is a close associate of Narendra Modi, currently handling charge of Uttar Pradesh in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections next year.

The Cobrapost expose relied basically on taped conversations purportedly between jailed IPS officer Singhal who was being investigated for the Ishrat Jahan trial and Shah. The portals claimed that Modi had met the woman who was the subject of the snooping in 2009. Meanwhile, a report in The Hindu quoted Ishrat’s sister Musarrat as saying during a conference of the All India Democratic Women’s Association in Bodhgaya, Bihar, that the “blot of terrorism” that Ishrat was carrying has been removed after the SBI investigation into the case. “The day is not far when even the conspirators will be punished. We are fighting on because we do not want another Ishrat,” Musarrat reportedly said.

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/trouble-for-modi-damning-details-of-ishrat-killing-given-to-sc-1248027.html

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Karnataka panel orders damages to 3 held in Bangalore blast case (Nov 23, 2013, Times of India)

The Karnataka State Human Rights Commission has ordered the Karnataka government to immediately pay compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to three people from Tamil Nadu detained in connection with the Bangalore BJP office blast case. The commission took suo motu note of their plight and registered a case against the Bangalore police. The police had failed to link the three — Peer Mohideen, 39; Saddam Hussein, 24; and Mohammed Hanif, 30 — to the low-intensity blast near the BJP office at Malleswaram on April 17, 2013, and did not name them in the chargesheet filed in the case recently.

SHRC member Chandrasekhar G Hungund told TOI the commission took note of the fact that the police were unable to produce any evidence despite keeping them in custody for months. “It is really unfortunate that these men were kept in custody for so long. So, the commission ordered a compensation to be paid to them immediately,” Hungund said. The order for compensation was issued on November 5.

The three spent more than six months in prison, besides 30 days in police custody. Mohideen was released from a prison in Bangalore on October 28 while the other two are still languishing in Salem prison as formalities are yet to be completed in cases filed against them by the Tamil Nadu police.

“The investigators could not provide any evidence to substantiate the involvement of the three men when they submitted the chargesheet on October 19,” counsel for the petitioners S Balan told TOI over phone from Bangalore. Mohideen was listed as the prime accused (A1) while Saddam was named accused number 4 and Hanif accused number 17, but the chargesheet did not include their names as police did not have any evidence against them, he said.

The Karnataka police along with their counterparts in Tamil Nadu had initially built a case against 20 people, all of them hailing from Tamil Nadu, in connection with the blast. However, the final chargesheet submitted before the first chief metropolitan judicial magistrate court on October 19 mentioned only 14 accused.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/26231250.cms

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Ahead of Agra rally, UP BJP cell felicitates riot-accused MLAs (Nov 20, 2013, Indian Express)

The Human Rights cell of UP BJP Tuesday felicitated its MLAs Sangeet Singh Som, Suresh Rana, Kunwar Bhartendra Singh Som and 34 other party workers who were arrested in connection with Muzaffarnagar riots. The MLAs and workers were also given “appreciation letters”, to recognise their “struggle against the state government during the riots and the sacrifice they made and got arrested for the cause of safety of mata, bahen and betian (mother, sister and daughter) as well as Indian culture”. The function was held in Muzaffarnagar.

Party leader in UP Legislative Assembly Hukum Singh, who himself was named in a case for delivering provocative speech, was the chief guest. National convener of BJP’s Human Rights Cell Sudhir Agarwal was also present in the event. The felicitation comes two days before Narendra Modi’s Agra rally where the party state unit is to honour Som and Rana.

BJP’s Muzaffarnagar city president Mohan Tayal said, “All those felicitated were arrested in connection with Muzaffarnagar riots. While most of them are out on bail, we felicitated family members of few others who are still lodged in jail. All of them are BJP workers.” Talking to The Indian Express, Hukum Singh said, “The objective of the event was to mobilise the workers before the Lok Sabha elections. Those who were detained for at least two-hours were also felicitated today.”

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1197038/

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Muzaffarnagar riots: New chargesheet filed against BJP MLA Suresh Rana (Nov 21, 2013, IBN)

A fresh chargesheet has been filed against controversial BJP legislator Suresh Rana and three other party activists for rioting during a protest against a gangrape in Shamli in June. The chargesheet was filed in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Kailash Kumar on Wednesday against Rana, MLA from Thana Bhawan constituency of Shamli district, and party activists Ghanshyam and Radhey Shyam for damaging shops and vehicles during the protest on 16 June.

On 16 June, a 21-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped and gangraped, following which hundreds of people including Rana staged a protest and damaged shops and vehicles, demanding the arrest of the accused. During the protest, 12 persons were injured.

After the violence, police booked Rana and another BJP MLA Hukum Singh along with 250 activists under Section 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 392 (punishment for robbery), 436 (Mischief by fire or any explosive substance) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and Public Property Damage Act.

Police have yet not filed a case against Hukum Singh as investigation is on. Rana, who is now on bail, was arrested in Lucknow on 20 September for allegedly fanning communal riots in Muzaffarnagar by making provocative speeches. He was released on bail by a local court on 14 November.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/muzaffarnagar-riots-new-chargesheet-filed-against-bjp-mla-suresh-rana/435395-3-242.html

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Uttarakhand slaps 81 cases on Ramdev, his trust (Nov 20, 2013, Hindustan Times)

The Uttarakhand government on Wednesday slapped 81 cases on yoga guru Ramdev and Patanjali Yogpeeth, the trust run by him. Of the 81 cases, 29 are related to illegal possession of land while 52 are regarding evasion of tax and revenue. Chief minister Vijay Bahuguna said the administration was also probing the role of government officials, who had helped Ramdev and his trust.

“Officials found guilty will not be spared,” the CM said, while sharing the findings of a 10-day probe conducted by the Haridwar district magistrate. Bahuguna said Ramdev’s trust had illegal possession of 7.766 acres of land at two villages in Haridwar. The probe found that Ramdev’s trust had purchased 387 acres of land for building a university, but only 20 acres was used for the purpose.

“As per rules, one has to show use of the purchased land,” Bahuguna said. “Another 84.86 acres of land was purchased in the name of a food park, but no permission was taken.” The government has decided to take legal action against the trust and Ramdev as per the Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act.

The probe also says Ramdev’s trust evaded tax up to Rs. 10 crore. When contacted by Hindustan Times, Ramdev’s spokesperson SK Tejariwala said he would comment only after looking into the details of the cases.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1153635.aspx

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Waqf council seeks action against Ahmedabad Municipal Corp. for demolition notice on mosque (Nov 24, 2013, Times of India)

A member of the Central Waqf Council has sought action against the officials for pasting demolition notice on Baba Lu-Lui’s mosque on the Sabarmati riverbank.

Iqbal Shaikh has dashed off a letter to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation Ltd (SRFDCL) and condemned the gesture of issuance of demolition notice to the 550-year-old structure for clearing 74-metre land for the proposed road widening activity.

Shaikh has also sought action from the Gujarat Waqf Board and all other competent authorities against the officers, who were responsible for issuing the notice in violation of the Ancient Monuments and Archaelogical Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act.

Following the TOI’s report, a team of AMC officials visited the place on Friday and removed the notice. Meanwhile, the ASI got into action and warned the civic body to stay away from the mosque complex.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/26280561.cms

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Aarushi-Hemraj murder case: Dentist couple Nupur, Rajesh Talwar held guilty (Nov 25, 2013, Indian Express)

Dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were held guilty Monday of murdering their daughter Aarushi Talwar and their domestic help Hemraj, a double murder which horrified the country when it was committed five-and-a-half years back and had foxed investigators. Additional sessions judge Shyam Lal held the couple guilty under the charges of murder with common intent and destruction of evidence with common intent. Rajesh was also found guilty under section 203 for misleading the police by filing a fake FIR.

In his judgement, judge Shyam Lal said the couple had flouted the “ferocious penal code of the land” and had breached the commandment “thou shall not kill” and the injunction of the Holy Quran, “take not life which God has made sacred.” The court also directed that the arguments on the quantum of punishment will start at 2 pm Tuesday. Sources said the sentence is also likely to be announced Tuesday itself. The judgment was pronounced in-camera and lawyers said that as the judge read out the verdict, Nupur broke down and was consoled by family members.

“It is understandable that they were very aggrieved. Nupur Talwar broke down into tears and was comforted by her parents. After some documents were signed, they were escorted into a police vehicle and sent to Dasna jail,” said Satyaketu Singh, one of defence lawyers who was present inside. After the announcement, with journalists not allowed inside the CBI court compound due to security reasons, the couple released a statement which read: “We are deeply disappointed, hurt and anguished for being convicted for a crime that we have not committed. We refuse to feel defeated and will continue to fight for justice.”

Vandana Talwar, the sister-in-law of Rajesh, said those in the family were “working class people with nowhere to turn to.” “Everybody, the Noida police, the CBI and now the courts turned against us right from the start. Nobody listened to us. We were pitched against an organisation that believes in fabrication and falsities. There is such extreme prejudice from all quarters, that minds are made up. The facts and the evidence are being pointed at someone else, and this is being called a typographical error by the CBI. Unfortunately, the truth is being submerged under lies,” she said.

Vandana was referring to a CDFD report which initially found evidence of Hemraj’s blood on a pillow and pillow cover in the possession of Krishna – an ex-employee and previously an accused in the case. This, however, was later deemed a typographical error, after a clarification was sought by the CBI.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1199280/

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Ambala Dalit’s ‘custodial’ death: stricter sections in FIR against cops says NCSC (Nov 19, 2013, Hindustan Times)

The National Commission for Schedule Castes (NCSC) has told the Haryana police to add strict sections in the FIR against the police personnel allegedly responsible for the custodial death of a Dalit youth in Ambala and also get the probe shifted outside Ambala. The case pertains to an alleged custodial death of 23-year-old Ram Kumar whose hand-cuffed body was recovered from railway tracks in Ambala on October 15.

The NCSC had on October 28 taken a suo motu notice of the incident and summoned the Haryana chief secretary and the director general of police (DGP) to its camp court here and asked the state government to give a compensation of `20 lakh and a government job to a family member of the deceased and submit its action taken report (ATR) within 15 days.

However, even as the Haryana Police submitted an interim report, the NCSC detected that the FIR lodged against the police personnel was without appropriate sections. The NCSC has also thus asked the DGP to get the matter investigated outside Ambala as the complainant alleged that he was being pressurised by the police to change his statement.

“Section 4 of the SC/ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989, has not been included in the FIR, which is a must in this case and ensures a harsher punishment up to life imprisonment to government officials found guilty of negligence while dealing with persons belonging to SC/ST,” NCSC director Raj Kumar told HT. He said a notice to the Haryana DGP had been sent to add Section 4, besides a few other sections of the SC/ST Act and the IPC, in the FIR.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1153220.aspx

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Opinions and Editorials

Is this Modi’s Watergate? – By Brinda Karat (Nov 22, 2013, Times of India)

The release of taped conversations between then home minister of Gujarat Amit Shah and superintendent of the Gujarat anti-terrorist squad (ATS), GL Singhal, relating to surveillance of phone calls and movements of a young woman during August and September 2009, raise serious questions about the state of civil liberties and the model of governance in Gujarat. BJP’s explanations lack credibility. It is not disputed that there was surveillance, nor is it disputed that the ‘sahib’ referred to in the tape is the chief minister. In most such cases, the players identified usually deny such conversations ever took place, or else claim that the tapes have been doctored. That hasn’t happened in this case.

The Gujarat government itself has made available to the press a statement made by the father of the woman concerned. He has said that it was on his request to the chief minister, ‘an old family friend, a father to his daughter’, that the surveillance was mounted since he was concerned about the security of his daughter. Subsequently, in a letter to the National and the State Commissions of Women, he has claimed that his daughter was also aware of the surveillance. One of the lessons taught to us in moral science classes in school was that an initial lie will lead to enmeshing oneself in a web of lies. This is what is happening in the present case. The tapes which are available on the website of the organisation which first broke the story show clearly that the young woman had no idea that she was being snooped on.

Here is a small sample: A man identified as being Amit Shah by those who released the tapes and not so far denied by him, says, “She is travelling Indigo from Bangalore to Ahmedabad… the people with placard ask him in advance the hotel’s name…In case she escapes we can keep a vigil at the hotel.” Subsequent conversations identify the hotel and details of her movements. Does this sound like surveillance of a person who has asked to be watched? The tapes are full of such sickening examples.

The high stakes involved, which need no spelling out, have now led to a situation where, to cover up an operation ethically repugnant and in violation of the law, powerful men claim the license to force a young woman to become their “protector” to defend them against their deeds which had made her their target, invaded her privacy and reported every move she made. In such a situation it is difficult to imagine any woman seemingly betrayed by her own family, pressured by them, to speak a language different from what they would like her to speak.

BJP claims that this is a private matter. It would indeed be a private matter if it was just a question of the playing out of consensual relationships, whatever their nature and regardless of who is involved. But this is not a private matter precisely because the most sensitive wing of government, the anti-terrorist squad under the Gujarat government, was involved in the snooping.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/26164649.cms

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Divisive agenda – By Sushanta Talukdar (Nov 29, 2013, Frontline)

The issue of “illegal Bangladeshi migrants”, which has dominated politics in Assam for more than three decades, is poised to take centre stage once again in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Political parties in the State are already polarised on the issue. The State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that the issue will top the party’s poll agenda. It has alleged that the ruling Congress and the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the main opposition party (18 legislators) in the 126-member Assembly, were moving close to each other for an electoral understanding with the objective of “protecting the interests of illegal immigrants”. The Congress and the AIUDF, on the other hand, have accused the BJP of “communalising” the issue.

A political consensus has existed in the State – that the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951, by taking the 1971 electoral roll as the basis is the only solution to the vexed foreigners’ issue. The NRC thus updated would protect genuine citizens from harassment in the name of detection and expulsion of foreigners. The Assam Accord signed by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) with the Centre and the Assam government in 1985 to bring to an end the anti-foreigners’ agitation launched by the student body in 1979 stipulates that all illegal migrants post-March 25, 1971, be detected, their names be deleted from the voters’ list, and they be expelled from India.

Political observers say that despite this consensus, both the BJP and the AIUDF have been raking up the issue of illegal immigrants with an eye on the elections. The BJP, they say, has been playing on the fear of caste-Hindu Assamese people and various ethnic communities of being reduced to a minority by the migration of people from across the border. The AIUDF, meanwhile, has been demanding a new NRC, saying that the updated 1951 NRC might not protect minorities from being harassed in the name of detection and expulsion of foreigners. Significantly, the persistent stand of the BJP has been that Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants from Bangladesh should be pushed back to the neighbouring country, whereas Hindu Bangladeshi migrants should be treated as refugees and given shelter in India.

The Muslim population in Assam consists of indigenous Assamese-speaking Muslims whose forefathers came as Mughal warriors and settled in different parts of the State; indigenous Bengali-speaking Muslims from East Bengal who settled in Assam during pre-Partition days; Bengali-speaking Muslims who migrated from erstwhile East Pakistan in different streams; and Bengali-speaking illegal immigrants who crossed the porous India-Bangladesh border after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. However, though the Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants speak Bengali at home and among themselves, they, barring in some pockets, have got themselves recorded in successive decadal censuses as Assamese speakers and study in Assamese-medium schools and colleges.

The BJP and the rest of the Sangh Parivar, however, tactfully refrain from giving such details of the history of Muslim migration and settlement in Assam in public discourses on the theme of illegal immigrants. Because of this, at least a section of the people in the State have the wrong idea that all Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants who settled on char lands (sand isles in the course of the river Brahmaputra) and encroached upon the land of indigenous people. …

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/divisive-agenda/article5338443.ece

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The unassailable case against Mr. Tejpal – Editorial (Nov 25, 2013, The Hindu)

The case against accused Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal, is straightforward and stark: alleged sexual assault and rape – grave cognisable offences punishable under Sections 354A, 354B, 376, and 376(2) of the Indian Penal Code – in addition to the non-cognisable offences specified by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The details of what allegedly happened inside a lift of the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa on November 7, 2013, the opening night of Tehelka’s Think festival, are chilling in the revulsion they produce. The victim – a young woman journalist employed by Tehelka, who was allegedly lured into, and imprisoned within, the lift, which was then manipulated by the alleged assailant to make it “stay in circuit” – showed both courage and professional precision in setting out the details in her letter of complaint to her Managing Editor and “mentor,” Shoma Chaudhury. She also had the presence of mind immediately to seek solace and solidarity from three of her journalistic colleagues and to unburden herself of what happened. “Confused, hurt and really, really scared” and not wanting to lose her job, she reported for her assigned work the next day and, incredibly, that evening, after the sessions were over, Mr. Tejpal is alleged to have attempted to reprise the sexual harassment and assault after forcing her into the lift. All this plus the harassing and aggravating texts and the emailed “apologies,” one private, the other public, that the alleged assailant and rapist sent her seem to make the criminal case against Mr. Tejpal unassailable.

The Goa Police have gone about their duty under the law of the land with professional dispatch and thoroughness. This must have been made easier by the fact that the duty, what precisely they are bound to do in respect of laying a First Information Report (FIR) “upon receiving any information relating to commission of a cognisable offence”, has been clarified in a recent judgment by a five-member bench of the Supreme Court of India. On the other side, the Tehelka editorial management has behaved disgracefully, with a mixture of obfuscation, denial, evidence-suppression, and cover-up. In an email dated November 20 to her subordinate editorial colleagues, many of whom by then were evidently well-informed on what had actually happened, Ms. Chaudhury characterised the alleged sexual assault and rape as “an untoward incident”; she went on to say that Mr. Tejpal, “though he…[had] extended an unconditional apology to the colleague involved,” would be “recusing himself as the editor of Tehelka for the next six months”.

The Editor-in-Chief attempted to lighten the situation for himself by admitting to “a bad lapse in judgment, an appalling misreading of the situation,” for which he awarded himself the penalty of “atonement…the penance that lacerates me,” recusance from the editorship of Tehelka and from the office for six months. The latest instance of an appalling misreading of the situation and worse is for a member of Mr. Tejpal’s immediate family to barge into the house of the victim’s mother and put emotional pressure on her, harass her with a demand for sensitive information and also for some kind of internal settlement so as to escape from the clutches of the law. The victim herself has stepped forward to protest, in an email sent to this newspaper and to some other media organisations, against this flagrant attempt to harass and intimidate her and her family. This also amounts to tampering with evidence, a serious offence. The law must and will take its course but meanwhile there are practical issues to be attended to in the wider media world. The most vital among them is the protection of the identity of the young woman journalist, the victim of alleged sexual assault and rape. Her letter of complaint and other sensitive communications have been leaked from within Tehelka and are in the public realm, and we must assume that all this has been done for a very good reason, to defeat the obfuscation and the cover-up. The expressions of solidarity with the victim, from across the board, following the leak are heartening. But on the other hand, all the relevant players – the mainstream media, the bloggers, and the social media folk – need to exercise greater restraint and care than they have shown so far to protect the victim’s identity, as the law requires them to do.

Then there is the fate of Tehelka as a multi-media organisation, a spirited and irreverent venture with an investigative and muckraking focus. It may be in a process of unravelling, considering the exodus of talented journalists that has been reported in the social media. Fresh, and surely some investigative, attention will be paid to the ownership of the venture, its political connections, and so forth. Legal troubles aside, it will need a particularly thick hide for the Tehelka management to allow Ms. Chaudhury to continue in her job. But fairness demands that there should be no open season on the news organisation itself. All that we know suggests that many of the victim’s colleagues, young, middle-ranking, and senior journalists, have stood by her, and in doing so, have helped to set public conscience and the law in motion. They have acted as good professionals, journalists with integrity – and more important in this case, as good citizens. Contrary to what some shrill voices in the social media insinuate, this is decidedly a case of the news media not resorting to ‘double standards’.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/the-unassailable-case-against-mr-tejpal/article5386949.ece

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An opportunity to free CBI – Editorial (Nov 12, 2013, The Hindu)

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court described the Central Bureau of Investigation as a ‘caged parrot’. Far from setting it free, the Gauhati High Court sought to exterminate it. The court’s judgment holding that the CBI is not a legally constituted police force has been stayed by the Supreme Court for now. The absence of a clear legal link between the establishment of the CBI and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the law under which the agency has been functioning for half a century, is indeed an irresistible point of law that was bound to be raised by someone some day.

However, the moot question is whether the High Court ought to have taken such a hyper-technical view and struck down the Union Home Ministry Resolution of April 1, 1963, by which the agency was formed. While there could be some merit in the contention that the CBI’s legal basis was somewhat unclear, the High Court could have highlighted any legal infirmity it found and sought the government’s views on how it could be cured – instead of invalidating the CBI’s very existence. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether to accept the CBI’s legality as a fact established by five decades of existence and functioning with judicial recognition, and how any infirmity, if that exists, is curable.

The Special Police Establishment (SPE), formed in 1941 under the War Department to curb corruption, got statutory status under the Delhi SPE Act, 1946. Its work was transferred to the CBI as soon as it was formed in 1963 by a Resolution. The High Court has now said it was a mere executive instruction with no sanction from the Cabinet or assent from the President. It has been generally assumed that the CBI is synonymous with the SPE, and the High Courts and the Supreme Court have passed orders from time to time transferring to it sensitive investigations from out of the hands of State police departments. The constitutional basis for the CBI’s formation is traceable to Entry 8 in the Union List, ‘Central Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence’, but the High Court did not find it good enough.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised to do everything necessary to establish the agency’s legality and protect its past and future work. It may be an opportune moment to provide a firmer statutory framework for the CBI, one that grants it the functional autonomy that the Supreme Court mandated in the Vineet Narain case in 1997. The Lokpal Bill, stalled due to political bickering despite being passed in the Lok Sabha, also provides for measures to insulate graft investigation from interference and envisages an independent role for the CBI under the Lokpal’s supervision. Strengthening this bill and ensuring its early adoption would be the right course.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/an-opportunity-to-free-cbi/article5339885.ece

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The Case (That Wasn’t) Against Lalu Yadav – By Ajit Sahi (Nov 16, 2013, Tehelka)

If only politicians had the patience for details. There has been much hand-wringing among them since the Supreme Court ruled in July that an MP or an MLA/MLC would be unseated immediately upon conviction in a criminal case. Infamous attempts have been made by the men in white to write a new law and even bring an ordinance to restore status quo ante that allowed an elected representative to continue in office until an appeal against his conviction was disposed off.

The parliamentarians can, however, spare themselves the embarrassment of such clumsy acts if only they take the pains to read a 30 September ruling by a trial judge in faraway Jharkhand, who has found former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadavguilty of patronising an intricate scheme of corruption that ran unchecked for years. As television news flashed those findings without bothering to dive into the 568-page judgment, millions of citizens wearied from decades of corruption felt vindicated by Lalu’s comeuppance.

Lalu’s conviction in one of the 54 cases of the ‘fodder scam’, the popular name given to widespread embezzlement of government funds in the early-to-mid-1990s in the purchase of medicines and fodder for the livestock of the poor, is no small irony for him. His rule of Bihar for 15 years is remembered less for the immense and irreversible empowerment his socialist politics brought to the backward castes and more for the utter lawlessness and crime it spawned, allowed and even patronised. That assessment only grew starker in comparison with the reign of his arch-rival, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has ruled the state since 2005 and is credited with having vastly improved the state’s law and order.

Be that as it may, the imperatives of justice are clear beyond doubt, as the ‘Blackstone Ratio’, quoted above, enumerates. It is not this correspondent’s claim that Lalu bears no culpability in the massive fodder scam, for that can be revealed only by a thorough investigation of thousands of documents and the questioning of hundreds, which India’s premier sleuthing agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), failed to carry out.

But the devil in the details of the judgment is revealed by its in-depth reading as well as of courtroom testimonies, cross-examinations of prosecution and defence witnesses, and, not the least, the documents brought to the court. It leads to but one inference, that the case against Lalu is untenable. In times to come, this ruling would certainly bolster the politicians who make their case against unseating legislators immediately upon conviction in a criminal case by pointing at the record of trial courts in delivering justice. …

http://www.tehelka.com/the-case-that-wasnt-against-lalu-yadav/

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Rationales for separation – Editorial (Nov 20, 2013, The Hindu)

Telangana is almost a fait accompli now, but both pro-Telangana activists and anti-bifurcation protesters know there is still a lot to fight for: the status of Hyderabad, the demarcation of boundaries, the sharing of water resources, and the reallocation of government personnel. With the Group of Ministers looking into issues relating to the bifurcation completing its consultations on Monday, the focus is now on the details of the bifurcation, and not the creation of Telangana itself. The violent agitations leading to and following the Cabinet approval for Telangana were in part engendered by the indecisiveness of the government at the Centre, and the absence of any structured dialogue among the various stakeholders on the bifurcation. The Centre heard views from all sides, but could not force anyone to consider compromises or scale down from maximalist positions.

The discussions so far have been random exercises held in the hope that a consensus would magically emerge. But now that these efforts have predictably failed, they are shown up as justification for a hurried, unilateral approach by the Centre. No resolution on the Telangana issue was introduced in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. While this is not mandated by the Constitution, the bypassing of the Assembly is certainly a departure from the precedents in the bifurcation of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh in 2000. Of course, in these instances the creation of the new States – Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh – were not as contentious as the carving out of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh is. Telangana remains an instance of how not to go about creating new States.

Almost inevitably, the Cabinet approval for Telangana has revived demands for new states in eastern India, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Clearly, the Telangana tangle has reinforced the need for setting up another States Reorganisation Commission to examine various demands for new states and lay down broad principles and guidelines in deciding new boundaries. At present, many of the demands are based on loose, largely imagined, identities.

The struggle for Telangana was based on its political past, and not linguistic or ethnic identity. Without some rational, practical basis for the creation of new states, statehood demands would be conceded as the Centre seems politically expedient. Governance issues and administrative convenience should also be among the decisive factors in the creation of new states. Otherwise, statehood demands would be sustained by narrow, sectarian agendas that ignore the larger interests of the community. The end result of such demands can only be internal displacement of people.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/rationales-for-separation/article5368611.ece

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 30th, 2013

October 2, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Post Riots, Samajwadi Party committee to strengthen communal harmony in Muzaffarnagar News Headlines Criminal Charges Which Narendra Modi Faces Caught on tape: Praful Patel admits influencing Ishrat probe, CBI likely to grill Narendra Modi for inspiring, guiding and monitoring every police action CBI grills BJP Rajya [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 23rd, 2013

September 24, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines ‘No anguish on Modi’s face when he talks about riots’ I wouldn’t want to live in India if Modi becomes PM, author Ananthamurthy says Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case: CBI quizzes principal secretary to Modi, top cop BJP MLA Suresh Rana arrested for role in Muzaffarnagar [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 9th, 2013

September 10, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Muzaffarnagar riots: 4 BJP MLAs, Cong leader booked for inciting mob ‘Attempts to stoke communal tension around Deoband’ Communal tension grips Belgaum in Karnataka ahead of Ganesha festivities ‘Attack on 2002 Gujarat riot protesters planned’ Prosecute Narendra Modi, asks Coalition Against Genocide Prajapati encounter: Sting CD [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 26th, 2013

August 27, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Function on communal harmony News Headlines 02 riots: Let court, not SIT, decide Gujarat government role Narendra Modi following Hitler’s tactics to grab power: Digvijaya Singh CBI to confront IB ex-officer in Ishrat case again Yatra ban: We won’t let UP become Gujarat, says SP Shiv [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 19th, 2013

August 20, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines HC confirms conviction of 9 for post-Godhra riots Hindu supremacist Narendra Modi should not be invited to the Commons Narendra Modi’s attack on PM on I-day leaves some BJP leaders squirming CBI finds common link in Haren Pandya murder, Ishrat encounter Karat sees BJP, RSS role [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 29th, 2013

July 30, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines It’s State-sponsored conspiracy from day-1 but SIT ignored it, says Zakia 65 MPs write to Obama against a visa for Modi Modi’s Hindutva a double-edged sword, analysts warn Facebook page of ‘BJP Gujarat’ takes nasty, ‘bikini-clad’ dig at Amartya Sen RSS, IB are ‘biggest terror’ outfits: [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 22nd, 2013

July 23, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Enough evidence to put Modi on trial for 2002 riots: Zakia Don’t want Modi as my PM: Amartya Sen Blow to Modi: SC rejects review of Lokayukta’s appointment BJP, RSS behind communal tensions in Rajasthan, says Brinda Karat NCP questions BJP on Ayodhya temple donations Poison [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 15th, 2013

July 16, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Hindu inmates fasting with Muslims News Headlines ‘Decisive’ words: Kutte ka bachcha – Modi’s analogy splits open riot wounds Complaint filed against Modi for riots remark Modi draws blood, triggers fresh war of words Ishrat encounter had Modi’s nod, two Gujarat cops told CBI IB killed [...]

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