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Ishrat Jahan

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 14th, 2016

by newsdigest on March 20, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Teen Muslim girl gets bravery award for saving Hindu classmate from kidnappers (Mar 8, 2016, Times of India)

Amidst the communally surcharged atmosphere in Agra following, the killing of VHP leader Arun Mahor, this is a story that both communities need to take lessons from and then celebrate it. 15-year-old Nazia was on Tuesday awarded the Rani Laxmibai bravery award by chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, for saving a 6-year-old Hindu girl from kidnappers in August last.

It was the afternoon on August 7, when Nazia, a student of Saghir Fatima Mohammadia Girls Inter College, was returning home when she heard cries for help from a young girl, who was being forcibly pulled on a motorcycle by two youths. Unmindful of her own safety, Nazia rushed to the girl’s help and held her hand and managed to pull her away from the kidnappers, who then fled the spot.

It was only after she had rescued the girl, Dimpy, Nazia learnt that she was her junior from school. Today, when tension prevails between the two communities, Dimpy’s parents treat Nazia as their own daughter and are indebted to her for saving their child from the clutches of the kidnappers.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51314889.cms

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RTI Response By Ayush Ministry Says It Is Against Government Policy To Hire Muslims: Report (Mar 11, 2016, Huffington Post)

In a startling response to a Right to Information query, the AYUSH Ministry has said that it did not hire Muslims for short-term positions as trainers for World Yoga Day as it was against government policy. AYUSH stands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, and is the Ministry that promotes these branches of traditional medicine. The AYUSH Ministry, under Sripad Naik, organized the first World Yoga Day on October 15, last year.

The RTI query filed by journalist Pushp Sharma sought to know how many Muslim candidates had applied and had been hired for short-term assignments during World Yoga Day. In its response, the Ministry said that none of the 3,841 Muslim candidates, who had applied for the position of Yoga trainer or teacher till October 2015, were hired by the AYUSH Ministry, Milli Gazette reported.

It also revealed that none of the 711 Muslim yoga trainers, who had applied for the foreign assignment during the World Yoga Day, were hired. While no Muslims were even called for an interview, the Ministry selected 26 Hindu trainers. “As per government policy – No Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad,” the RTI response said.…

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/03/11/ayush-ministry_n_9440142.html

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5 crore becomes 5 per cent the day after Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says he won’t pay NGT fine (Mar 12, 2016, Indian Express)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) paved the way for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) to go ahead with its World Culture Festival, barely hours before the three-day event was to start Friday, by allowing the organisers to deposit – for now – just five per cent of the penalty it had imposed on them.

With Sri Sri saying that he would go to jail but “not pay the fine” of Rs 5 crore as AOL had done nothing wrong, the tribunal clarified that the amount was to be considered as “environmental compensation” and not as a “penalty on non-compliance”.

On Wednesday, the NGT had said that the organisers would be levied an interim penalty of Rs 5 crore as compensation for environmental damage the event may cause to the venue on the Yamuna floodplains. On Friday, the tribunal ruled that AOL needed to deposit only Rs 25 lakh now, while granting it three weeks to pay the entire amount. It had earlier said that if the full amount was not paid prior to the event, “law would take its course”.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/world-culture-festival-art-of-living-ngt-gives-more-time-to-aol-to-pay-rs-5-cr-raps-sri-sri/

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Poet branded ‘anti-national’ by Zee News contemplates legal action against the channel (Mar 12, 2016, Scroll.in)

Even after intense criticism for airing doctored videos relating to the controversy at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Zee News hasn’t let up. Earlier this week, it zeroed in on its latest “anti-national”, Guahar Raza a scientist at the government-funded Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Raza, who is also poet and filmmaker, narrated an Urdu poem about intolerance and hate at a poetry symposium in Delhi last weekend. The event was attended by lyricist Javed Akhtar, among others. The context of the poem was the freedom of speech and sedition cases against some students at JNU. Ironically, the poem even called out the hysteria of branding people anti-national. But on Thursday, a Zee News show hosted by Sudhir Chaudhary described Raza as a member of “Afzal-lover gang”, a reference to Afzal Guru, the convict hanged for his role in the 2001 Parliament attacks.…

Raza said that he is contemplating legal action against Zee News. As a response to this show, nearly 250 academics, journalists, film-makers, theatre artistes and activists have jointly issued a statement calling for action against Zee News for its hysterical portrayal of both JNU professor Nivedita Menon and now Gauhar Raza.… Signed by Naseeruddin Shah, Sharmila Tagore and Shubha Mudgal amongst others, the petition calls upon the Press Council of India and the Broadcast Association “to take note of this criminality and initiate necessary action against the channel”.

http://scroll.in/article/804993/poet-branded-anti-national-by-zee-news-contemplates-legal-action-against-the-channel

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Khalid Azmi, brother of slain advocate Shahid Azmi, threatened of being killed (Mar 9, 2016, Indian Express)

Khalid Azmi, the brother of slain advocate Shahid Azmi, was threatened of being killed like his brother late on Tuesday night just outside the Kurla police station. Shahid, known for defending those accused in terror cases, was shot dead outside his office in Kurla in February 2010.

According to Khalid, he was called to the Kurla police station on Tuesday night by an acquaintance to the Azmis to opine regarding charges being framed against the acquaintance in a road accident case that took place earlier on Tuesday night.

“Before entering the police station at 10.45 pm, there was no one waiting outside the police premises. However, when I walked out with my junior, Mohammed Ahmed, three middle aged men approached me and threatened to kill like how my brother was killed and they ran away towards the station,” Khalid said. “Jiss tarah tere bhai ko mara tha aur woh kuch nahi kar saka ussi tarah tere ko bhi marenge,” Khalid claims the men said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/khalid-azmi-brother-of-slain-advocate-shahid-azmi-threatened-of-being-killed/

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Agra hate speech: Non-bailable warrants against VHP, BJP leaders (Mar 13, 2016, Indian Express)

The Agra police have obtained non-bailable warrants (NBWs) against VHP leader Ashok Lavaniya, BJP leader Kundanika Sharma and ABVP activist Shashank Chaudhary who were booked on charges of giving objectionable and provocative speeches during condolence meeting of VHP district vice-president Arun Mahaur, who was murdered on February 25.

In the meeting held on February 28, Lavaniya, who is the VHP’s Agra district general secretary, and Sharma, the local BJP corporator and party’s Braj region vice-president, among others, had allegedly equated Muslims to “demons” and “descendants of Ravana”, and warned the community of a “final battle”.…

The SHO added that they have video footage of the speeches as an evidence against the accused. When contacted, Sharma said, “Police never visited my residence ever since the FIR has been lodged. I had even sent SMSes to the district magistrate and the SSP to tell me the place where I could come and surrender myself. But, none replied.” When asked, the SHO did not comment on Kundanika’s claim.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/hate-speech-non-bailable-warrants-against-vhp-bjp-leaders/

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‘Old Taliban video uploaded by Som fanned UP violence’ (Mar 8, 2016, Times of India)

Justice Vishnu Sahai commission report on 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots says the mischievous circulation on social media of an old video clip of a Taliban controlled area in Pakistan – which falsely claimed that the two youths killed in the video were Hindus – was ‘one of the potent reasons’ for the violence.

Based on submissions by police officials, Justice Sahai holds BJP MLA Sangeet Som and 229 others responsible for uploading and sharing this video. But he recommends no action as an FIR had already been lodged against them. Besides, it also says that until the case is disposed, the ‘averment’ in the FIR will ‘only remain an allegation’.

The video showed two youths being hacked in an area controlled by the Taliban in Pakistan. But those circulating it claimed it was shot in Kawal in the last week of August 2013, when two Hindu boys, Sachin and Gaurav, were being killed.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51299791.cms

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Ishrat Jahan case: SC dismisses plea for quashing criminal case against policemen for ‘fake encounter’ (Mar 11, 2016, IB Times)

The Supreme Court dismissed Friday a plea that sought to squash a criminal case against policemen involved in the Ishrat Jahan “fake” encounter case, based on the statement of David Headley, a Pakistani-American involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. He had deposed before a Mumbai court saying Jahan was a suicide bomber working for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.…

According to the Hindu, the petition by Sharma also asked the Supreme Court to start “suo motu perjury/contempt of court proceeding against the then (Union) home minister and CBI director for concealing facts before the Supreme Court and Gujarat High Court for filing a false affidavit on the facts about Ishrat Jahan.” It also said Article 21 of the Constitution does not extend to “terrorists”.

The 2004 encounter made headlines recently and the chapter was reopened as political parties debated the legitimacy of the encounter based on Jahan’s status as a civilian or terrorist. Former home secretary GK Pillai said an affidavit submitted in the Gujarat High Court in 2009 about the four killed was altered, to which then home minister P Chidambaram said it was corrected.

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/ishrat-jahan-case-sc-dismisses-plea-squashing-criminal-case-against-policemen-fake-encounter-670273

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Let’s get a few things straight about the Vijay Mallya saga (Mar 13, 2016, Scroll.in)

…The popular narrative is that he milked the banks for Rs 9,000 crore to support his hedonistic lifestyle in India and abroad, and took off when the debt burden became excessive or no more money was forthcoming to evergreen his dues. But we seem to forget that he enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle and had much money to spread around even before Kingfisher Airlines.

Much before his airline came into being, he reportedly lavished money on the Janata Dals of Ramakrishna Hegde and HD Deve Gowda, the Bharatiya Janata Party of Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani. The allegations of large amounts of money being paid to the legislators of the BJP and the Deve Gowda rump of the Janata Dal have long done the rounds for his two Rajya Sabha terms. The Congress may not have allotted him votes, surplus or otherwise, but it does not mean that the Congress and other parties did not benefit from Mallya. The Rs 9,000 crore Mallya is now found owing to the public sector banks and others is the money he lost on Kingfisher Airlines.

I understand the loan money is around Rs 4,000 crore and the rest is interest and the interest on interest. The banks just kept lending him money to evergreen its loans. This was not possible without political and bureaucratic support. Even if one little joint secretary or one little Member of Parliament or one little bank manager red-flagged the growing stain of red on Kingfisher Airlines’ debts, the bleeding would have been stopped.…

http://scroll.in/article/805019/lets-get-a-few-things-straight-about-the-vijay-mallya-saga

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Christians Worshipping in India Attacked, Beaten and Stripped by Hindu Radicals (Mar 10, 2016, Gospel Herald)

About 60 Christians praying and worshipping at a Pentecostal church in India’s Chhattisgarh state were violently attacked by Hindu radicals on Sunday. According to reports, aside from destroying properties of the church, the female members of the congregation were also stripped naked.

The International Christian Concern first learned about the incident. According to the organization, the attack was carried out by around 25 individuals. They arrived on motorcycles and began beating the Christians as soon as they entered the church. The mob also destroyed the church’s chairs, instruments and Bibles. Many of the members of the church were beaten while the women were stripped.

According to Arun Pannalal, the head of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, the attackers justified their actions by blaming the church for carrying out forced conversions on Hindus. “They began alleging that people were being converted,” Pannalal told the press according to CBN. “They fled before police could reach the spot. This is the sixth attack on churchgoers in Chhattisgarah in the past six weeks.”…

http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/62807/20160310/christians-worshipping-in-india-attacked-beaten-and-stripped-by-hindu-radicals.htm

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Witnesses killings carried out on ‘behalf of Asaram’, reveals shooter (Mar 16, 2016, Indian Express)

The alleged shooter, who is accused of killing three witnesses and attempting to kill four others in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, has reportedly told the Ahmedabad Police that the killings were carried out “on behalf of Asaram”.

Karthik Haldar, who was picked up from Chhattisgarh, has allegedly named Asaram in his statement before the police, suggesting he was a conspirator in all the murders. On Tuesday, Haldar was produced before a metropolitan court that sent him in police custody for four days.

A police officer, who interrogated him, said, “A few months back Karthik and others (suspects who are yet to be arrested) had gone to meet Asaram in Jodhpur jail. This is on record since they met him by registering names with their identity cards. Therefore, we can’t rule out the possibility that Asaram knew about the killings.”…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/arrested-shooter-has-named-asaram-bapu-case-police/

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Opinions and Editorials

Rohith Vemula’s Nationalism Vs Arun Jaitley’s Nationalism – By Kancha Ilaiah (Mar 11, 2016, The Citizen)

Ever since Rohith Vemula was driven to death in the Hyderabad Central University and Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested under the colonial Act of Sedition, in Jawaharlal Nehru University an intense debate on nationalism has started.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who studied in a Christian college – St.Stephen’s, characterized Rohith as extremist and anti-national. He also said that his Government won a victory by sending Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the students union of the Jawaharlal Nehru university, to jail.

Earlier minister Bandaru Dattatreya described the HCU as a den of extremists, and anti-nationals. Smriti Irani, the HRD minister, gave several statements characterizing Rohith and Kanhaiya as anti-nationals, as part of the controversial discourse on nationalism.…

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/OldNewsPage/?Id=7107&Rohith%20Vemula

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Yoga as a Prelude to Politicisation of the Military – By Ali Ahmed (Mar 12, 2016, EPW)

In January 2016, 250 army men of the Western Command attended the Yoga Teacher’s Training Course organised by Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar. They are the first lot of 1,000 yoga trainers who are then to return to barracks and conduct yoga for troops (Times of India 2016). That the media finds this association between the army and Ramdev’s outfit newsworthy suggests the link needs further query.…

The problem is not so much yoga as much as the army’s institutional association with Ramdev’s organisation. Ramdev is controversial, with his business deals having come in for investigative scrutiny. The premises in Haridwar where the army men spent a couple of weeks had hosted a convention for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 2014 (Trivedi 2014). Ramdev is a known cheerleader for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.…

A right-wing associated organisation is not about to pass up an opportunity for influencing the army with its world view. Even if tacit, the exposure of 1,000 troops this training year, and perhaps more to follow in subsequent years, will enable the opening of a window for the penetration of the right-wing perspective into the army.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/11/commentary/yoga-prelude-politicisation-military.html

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Against all norms – By Purnima S. Tripathi (Apr 1, 2016, Frontline)

Making a mockery of environmental concerns and brazenly flouting rules and regulations, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “spiritual guru” and founder of The Art of Living (AOL) Foundation, patronised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his senior Cabinet colleagues, flagged off a three-day mega cultural fiesta, the World Culture Festival, on the floodplains of the Yamuna in Delhi on March 11.

Thumbing his nose at environmental activists who pleaded with him to change the venue in view of the damage the mega show would inflict on the already gasping river, the high-profile Sri Sri Ravi Shankar seeks to earn an entry into the Guinness World Records for conducting a cultural programme of this dimension on a single stage.…

But what baffles one is that for a private programme, the government not only went out of its way to facilitate it but also ignored concerns voiced by a huge section of environmental activists and the media. In an unprecedented move, the government even directed the Army to put in place two pontoon bridges to facilitate movement of those attending the event. Even the mandatory fire and security clearances were obtained only hours before the programme started.…

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/against-all-norms/article8356717.ece

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Evasive politics on Muzaffarnagar – Editorial (Mar 10, 2016, The Hindu)

Those who don’t learn from history may be fated to repeat it, but what about those who don’t get their history down in the first place? India’s record in officially taking stock of communal riots has been especially poor in recent decades, and the report of the Justice Vishnu Sahai commission inquiring into the2013 Muzaffarnagar violence plays to form.

The report, tabled in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly this month, zeroes in on the “negligence” of the local administration, the “failure” of the intelligence agencies and exaggeration on social and print media for the violence that coursed through many districts of U.P., leaving more than 60 dead and 60,000 homeless, an overwhelming number of them Muslims.…

The Narendra Modi government made a statement about where it stands by making one of the accused, Sanjeev Balyan, a Union Minister. That the Samajwadi Party government and the Opposition parties refuse to engagingly contest the anodyne conclusions of the Sahai report is a depressing indication that, for now, the political healing touch needed to rectify the wrongs of 2013 is absent.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/evasive-politics-on-muzaffarnagar/article8332201.ece

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Tribulations Of The Undertrials – By Archana Mishra (Mar 13, 2016, Tehelka)

Mohammed Aamir Khan is still in agony. He could not make it for his father’s burial as he was denied parole. Today when he is out of prison after battling 19 cases framed against him, Khan is at a loss of words to explain the traumatic 14 years he spent as an undertrial to prove his innocence. With a broken heart he states the reality: “The opposite of rich, strong and powerful is poor, weak and helpless – and these are the undertrials”.

He has a reason to say so. After being arrested in the 1997 twin bomb blast case (Karol Bagh, Delhi), Khan was tortured to give false statements and sign blank papers. The tormentors threatened to pluck his nails out if he dared to resist. Similar to Khan, there are many undertrials who had to go through the worst of brutalities. In case of acquittal there is no compensation for the suffering they have endured all these years.…

A bench headed by then chief justice RM Lodha said, “The judicial officers (Magistrate/ Sessions Judge/ Chief Judicial Magistrate) shall identity prisoners who have completed half of the maximum period of imprisonment provided for the offences they are charged with. After complying the procedure under Section 436A of the Criminal Procedure Code, they shall pass appropriate order in jail itself for the release of such prisoners.”…

http://www.tehelka.com/2016/03/tribulations-of-the-undertrials/

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In Modi’s home state, Dalits remain untouchable even in death – By Sanjay Pandey (Mar 9, 2016, First Post)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’ mantra has often been termed a ‘jumla’ (rhetoric) by the Opposition. But when a BJP government funds separate crematoriums for Dalits, it appears a deliberate attempt to prove opponents right by institutionalising caste discrimination in his home state.

An RTI query by divyabhaskar.com has revealed that the Anandiben Patel government is funding separate cremation grounds for the SC/STs in several villages, a fact corroborated by a survey conducted by Navsarjan, an NGO that works in 11 districts of the state.

According to the survey, 10 villages have separate crematoriums for Dalits while the state government has allocated funds for 40 more in other villages. Manjula Pradeep of Navsarjan Trust, a Dalit rights organisation, said: “the equality that we fight for, the dignity that we seek in our lives should not be denied to us in death. If the government builds separate cremation areas for Dalits, it is aiding caste-based discrimination. “Dalits are forced to cremate their dead in open places because in some villages they are not allowed to do so in a general crematoriums,” she alleged.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/in-modis-home-state-dalits-remain-untouchable-even-in-death-2664920.html

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Book Review

Framed As a Terrorist: My 14-Year Struggle to Prove My Innocence

Author: Mohammad Aamir Khan
Reviewed by: Muzamil Jaleel
Available at: Speaking Tiger Publishing Pvt. Ltd., 4381/4, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002, India, 248 pages, INR 200 . http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Framed As A Terrorist book review: My Name is Khan And I’m Not a Terrorist (Mar 12, 2016, Indian Express)

When Mufti Abdul Qaiyum, “the dangerous mastermind of the Akshardham attack” was declared innocent and set free, he stepped into a world that he no longer recognized.… Not only Qaiyum, but five other Muslim men who were acquitted in the Akshardham attack case, also talked about their lost years. The Gujarat police, Mohammad Saleem recalled, gave him the “choice” of being implicated in the Godhra train burning, Haren Pandya’s murder or the Akshardham terror attack.…

The stories of these three men are not part of Mohammad Aamir Khan’s autobiographical sketch about his 13 years and 10 months in prison. But his book, Framed as a Terrorist, is the story of hundreds of Muslim men framed as terrorists and left to rot behind iron bars across India.

All these stories are, in essence, a single story. The names of the characters vary, the religion usually remains the same. The locations change, but mostly they come from the same social strata. This grand story is scripted by the police, and the agencies across India figuring in lead roles are always the media, the labyrinths of the judiciary and young Muslim men who get lost in them. Aamir’s book is a Muslim man’s memoir of his lost youth in this grand farcical theatre of terror investigations in India.… Aamir’s book is important because it exposes the unwritten code for terror investigations that has silently replaced the one existing in statute books.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/framed-as-a-terrorist-book-review-my-name-is-khan-and-im-not-a-terrorist/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 7th, 2016

by newsdigest on March 10, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Sikh villagers build mosque for lone Muslim family (Mar 1, 2016, Times of India)

A small village in Jagraon has set an example of communal harmony, a Sikh majority village, with a lone Muslim family, has helped renovate an over century old mosque. The mosque in Malla village of Jagraon, around 45kms from the city, was inaugurated on Monday by the Shahi Imaam, Punjab, as villagers organised a special lunch.

Naib Shahi Imaam, Punjab, Muhammad UsmaanLudhianvi said, “The Malla village mosque was closed in 1947 after it’s run-down building collapsed. About six months ago, we approached the villagers, seeking their help to renovate it. Even as the village has just one Muslim family, the response had been overwhelming.”

Like the day when the renovation work had started, the Sikh villagers, on Monday, too organised langar(community kitchen). “Besides the fund contribution, the villagers actively participated in the construction work too. Such examples of communal harmony are not uncommon in Punjab,” Naib Shahi Imaam added as he inaugurated the mosque by offering prayers.”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51208840.cms

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After Katheria, Another BJP MP Spews ‘Anti-Muslim’ Venom (Mar 2, 2016, New Indian Express)

In further embarrassment for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party MP from Karnataka has associated Islam with terrorism just days after the hate speech against the Muslim community by Minister of State for Human Resource and Development (HRD) Ram Shankar Katheria at a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) event in Agra.

“Till the time Islam exists in the world, no one can stop terrorism. If we want to keep a place like Bhatkal peaceful, then we should throw Islam away from this world and we should shut Islam,” BJP MP Ananth Kumar Hegde told a press conference.…

Meanwhile, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, commenting on the issue accused the BJP and RSS of harbouring plans to divide the country. While Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav demanded that Katheria be sacked, Congress leader Anand Sharma moved an adjournment notice in the Rajya Sabha on the matter.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/After-Katheria-Another-BJP-MP-Spews-Anti-Muslim- Venom/2016/03/02/article3306527.ece

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Former Judges, Jurists urge Supreme Court to Act Against Hate Speech (Mar 5, 2016, The Wire)

A group of former judges, IPS officers and jurists on Friday made a passionate plea to the Chief Justice of India and all the other judges of the Supreme Court of India, urging them to take suo motu constitutional action on the alarming and threatening statements being made by persons currently in powerful positions within the Union government.

In the letter, the signatories explain that the “distressing and hate-filled” sentiments that have been expressed appear to be part of a pattern.

After listing a number of incidents, the letter emphasises that because “it is the ruling party at the Centre and its representatives” that are stoking these dangerous sentiments, the Supreme Court must act urgently.…

http://thewire.in/2016/03/05/former-judges-jurists-urge-supreme-court-to-act-against- hate-speech-23827/

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India Denies Visa Request From Religious Freedom Monitoring Group (Mar 4, 2016, New York Times)

India has denied visas to a team from the United States government responsible for monitoring religious freedom, the group said in a statement this week. The organization, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, had planned a trip to India, scheduled to begin this week, to assess religious liberty in the country. But India has not issued visas to members of the commission, it said on Thursday.

Robert P. George, the group’s chairman, said that the team was “deeply disappointed” by the Indian government’s action.… India has had a checkered history with religious violence, and the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014 raised concerns about the potential for increased religious tensions.…

In a report published last year, the commission said that religiously motivated violent episodes reportedly increased for three consecutive years in India, and that the struggle to provide justice to victims “perpetuates a climate of impunity.”…

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/world/asia/india-religious-freedom-uscirf-visa- denied.html

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Mob vandalises Church in Chhattisgarh (Mar 6, 2016, Indian Express)

A group of more than 15 men allegedly vandalised a prayer hall that served as a church and manhandled the congregants inside at Kachna village on the outskirts of Raipur Sunday. The incident happened at the time a prayer meeting was in progress. Locals, who did not want to be identified, said the men came on motorcycles and shouted slogans like “Jai Shri Ram”, while alleging religious conversions.…

A case against unknown persons under sections 147 (rioting), 452 (house trespass after preparation for hurt), 295(defiling a place of worship) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) was registered. When The Indian Express visited the spot Sunday afternoon, the prayer hall was found locked. Locals refused to speak on record out of fear of implicating themselves. A resident of a village on the outskirts, however, said “many people came on bikes and shouted slogans” and “there was pandemonium until the police arrived”. Residents said every Sunday, Christians, “many from outside”, came to pray at the hall.…

But Arjun Pannalal of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum said police were trying to downplay the case. “When the group arrived on bikes, they were shouting slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and against conversion. They attacked people, including women, and broke fans, chairs and musical equipment. They fled when the police came. Yet, there was one praiseworthy thing about the police. When the DSP came, he asked everyone to continue their prayer first, saying that was most important,” he said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/bajrang-dal-men-allegedly-vandalised-church-in-chhattisgarh-five-injured/

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President snubs HRD ministry on AMU executive council picks (Mar 5, 2016, Hindustan Times)

President Pranab Mukherjee’s office has returned an HRD ministry file recommending candidates to fill a vacant seat on Aligarh Muslim University’s executive council and asked it to send more names, it is learnt.

The ministry recommended the names of India TV editor-in-chief Rajat Sharma and Vijay P Bhatkar, architect of India’s first supercomputer and president of Vijnana Bharati, an RSS-affiliated organisation involved with the Swadeshi Science movement, sources said.

In January, the President ignored the minister’s recommendation while appointing M Jagadesh Kumar as VC of Jawaharlal Nehru University, sources said.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/president-snubs-government-on-amu-exexutive-council-picks/story-a7yEpoOmAeMuMNMTUj5PxM.html

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Ishrat Jehan: ‘Brilliant Op’ But ‘Fake Encounter,’ Says Investigator Satish Verma (Mar 3, 2016, NDTV)

As controversy rages over the Ishrat Jehan case, a member of the CBI team that probed the encounter has finally broken his silence on the matter. Satish Verma, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, told NDTV that Ishrat, a 19-year-old college student, and the three men shot by Gujarat Police in Ahmedabad in June 2004 were killed in “cold blood”.…

The first affidavit says that Ishrat was a member of the LeT, based, amongst others, on newspaper reports which referred to her martyrdom being celebrated in the terror group’s official mouthpiece. Last month, terrorist David Coleman Headley, in his testimony to a Mumbai court, said that she was an LeT operative.

But Satish Verma said both sources were unreliable. “After very laborious investigations on the subject (by the CBI), there is no material to indicate that Ishrat could have been an LeT operative, much less a suicide bomber or a fidayeen.”

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/no-proof-ishrat-jehan-was-lashkar-operative-says-investigator-satish-verma-1283463

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Delhi court discharges alleged LeT operative Abdul Karim Tunda, three others (Mar 5, 2016, Indian Express)

Suspected LeT bomb expert Abdul Karim Tunda and three others, who were accused of helping Pakistani and Bangladeshi terrorists sneak into India in 1997 to carry out terror strikes, were today discharged in the case by a Delhi court which cited lack of evidence.…

It was the fourth and final case filed against him by Delhi Police in which Tunda has been discharged. Earlier, an Interpol Red Corner notice was issued against him in 1996.

Besides Tunda, who is currently in judicial custody in connection with terror-related cases, the court also discharged his father-in-law Mohd Zakaria and their two alleged close aides Allauddin and Bashiruddin in the case.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/delhi-court-discharges-alleged-let-operative-abdul-karim-tunda/

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Muzaffarnagar riots panel gives clean chit to Sangeet Som, silent on Akhilesh (Mar 6, 2016, Indian Express)

The one-man commission of Justice (retd) Vishnu Sahai that probed the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots has said intelligence failure and laxity on the part of two senior police officials led to the violence that left 62 people dead.

The 700-page report tabled in the state Assembly on Sunday said the riots, following the murder of two persons by a youth from a minority community in Kawal town on August 27, 2013, took place as the then inspector of intelligence unit Prabal Pratap Singh failed to give an exact number of people going to attend a mahapanchayat at Mandaur.

The proceedings of the mahapanchayat were not recorded and there was laxity on the part of the then SSP Subhash Chandra Dubey due to which violence spread to Saharanpur, Shamli, Baghpat and Meerut, it said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/intelligence-failure-led-to-2013-muzaffarnagar-riots-judicial-panel-report/

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Rs 11 lakh for Kanhaiya Kumar’s head, 5 for his tongue. Tolerant India? (Mar 5, 2016, Dailyo.in)

India cannot get enough of Kanhaiya Kumar, it seems. After the arrest, release and the fiery speech after return to JNU campus, there’s already a bounty on the student leader’s life… and… errr…his tongue.

A leader of BJP’s youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), Kuldip Varshney announced Rs 5 lakh prize money for cutting off Kanhaiya’s tongue. He was quickly expelled from the party for six years after the announcement.…

Shortly after the bounty on his tongue, posters appeared in Delhi offering a reward of Rs 11 lakh to anybody who shoots dead Kumar. The posters bearing the name of Purvanchal Sena and its president Adarsh Sharma were seen at bus stops and Metro stations in New Delhi. The Facebook page of this so-called “Sena” reads as Purvanchal Sena, ABVP.

http://www.dailyo.in/variety/kanhaiya-kumar-11-lakh-for-head-purvanchal-sena-bjym-kuldeep-varshney-narendra-modi-bjp-jnu/story/1/9387.html

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Country’s present atmosphere is worse than Emergency: SC lawyer (Mar 6, 2016, Times of India)

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Saturday said the atmosphere prevailing in the country was worse than the Emergency, with fascist forces like RSS, VHP, Hindu Rashtra Sena and Ram Sena operating with support from the Central government.

“Incidents like junior HRD minister Ram Shankar Katheria urging Hindu community to stand up for a final war with the Muslims in Agra, the entire government battling against JNU and Rohith Vemula through fabricated videos, making false statements in the parliament and the BJP youth wing leader announcing cash reward for cutting Kanhaiya Kumar’s tongue are indicative of how the Modi regime is promoting fascism,” Bhushan said at press conference here on Saturday.

Bhushan added, “The BJP governments were using an army of goons and goondas that uses brute force to crush those safeguarding the constitution, expressing dissent, asking questions and not subscribing to their ideology.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51274162.cms

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Opinions and Editorials

Hate Speech of Minister – Editorial (Mar 6, 2016, Peoples Democracy)

The spectacle of a minister in the Modi government making a speech of communal incitement and violating his or her oath of office has become a regular feature. Even so, the latest instance of Ram Shankar Katheria, the minister of state in the human resource development ministry making a hate speech against Muslims in Agra has to be taken with the utmost seriousness.…

From the union cabinet itself, there are attempts to undermine the constitution and rework the definition of the law. So incitement to violence against minorities becomes “nationalism” and fealty to Bharat Mata, while defence of secularism and freedom of speech becomes “anti-national” and seditious. In Narendra Modi’s dispensation, we are seeing how ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani brand dalit and Left student activists as “anti-national” while shielding the elements who resort to goondaism and violence against those who express dissent and stand against the Hindutva forces.

The Uttar Pradesh state government has the bounden duty to book Katheria and all others who incited communal violence in Agra. They should learn from the lapses of the administration in the build up to the Muzaffarnagar violence. As for the central government, the demand raised in parliament that the minister should be removed, has to be complied with, if the minimum obligation towards the constitution and the rule of law is to be observed.

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2016/0306_pd/hate-speech-minister

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No Spirituality Here: Farmers Strong-Armed by Delhi Police, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Group – By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar (Mar 1, 2016, The Wire)

The controversial three-day ‘World Culture Festival’ being organised by the Art of Living Foundation of godman Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the banks of the Yamuna from March 11 is aimed at “Making Life a Celebration”, but for many farmers who own or till land at the site, the event has made their life a misery.

A number of them have been displaced from their land, their standing crops have been bulldozed and three of them have been arrested and sent to jail on “trumped up charges” – the farmers say – for resisting forcible eviction from their properties.

All of this has happened in the past week on the stretch of land abutting the Noida road in East Delhi and extending from opposite Mayur Vihar Phase 1 Extension metro station to the Mayur Vihar metro station where the proposed parking for the event is coming up. One of the affected farmers, Mohammad Ibram, narrated how the event has caused immense hardship to his family.…

http://thewire.in/2016/03/01/no-spirituality-here-farmers-strong-armed-by-delhi-police-sri-sri-ravi-shankar-group-23301/

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The Blood Won’t Wash – By Rana Ayyub (Mar 14, 2016, Outlook)

In the last few days the ghost of 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan has come back to the rescue of the Narendra Modi government at a time when the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) crisis and a lacklustre budget could have well tilted the argument in favour of the Opposition. Such tactics are common in politics and have been used time and again by both the Congress and the BJP.

The reason why I write this today is because, at the core of the Ishrat Jahan debate, lies an attempt to use nationalism to cover up the crimes of senior Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials and police officers. The crime being brazen extra-judicial killings, not just that of Ishrat Jahan but also in the past of Sameer Khan Pathan, Sadiq Jamal, Sohrabuddin, Kauserbi. All the said encounters have been pronounced as fake by the highest courts in the country.…

Defenders of the then Modi government often argue that encounters – even fake encounters – are not exclusive to Gujarat and that the numbers are much higher in other states. This is probably true. However, what makes the Gujarat fake encounters particularly disturbing is the cynical and false propaganda that was mounted around them.…

http://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/the-blood-wont-wash/296790

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‘BJP Ministers Encouraged Protesters In Haryana’ – Raj Kumar Saini – By Amit Bhardwaj (Mar 13, 2016, Tehelka)

A particular community has 50 percent representation in Haryana Police. Many officers from the community under question themselves got police stationsransacked, handed over weapons to protestors and allowed violence in the state to continue. The police force encouraged these protestors instead of stopping them.…

The state machinery was hijacked by our own ministers from that particular community. The cm was advised to remain silent otherwise a civil war like situation could have unfolded. These ministers hijacked the state machinery and stopped it from taking any action.…

Bhoopinder Singh Hooda added fuel to fire so that the party gets defamed and no other Jat leader becomes strong. His role was to set the state on fire. And yes,BJP ministers from one particular community encouraged the protestors. They forgot that the BJP is in power, both at the state and the Centre.…

http://www.tehelka.com/2016/03/bjp-ministers-encouraged-protesters-in-haryana-raj-kumar-saini/

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Targeting Institutions of Higher Education – By Romila Thapar (Mar 5, 2016, EPW)

Recent events at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) raise many questions pertinent to us as citizens of India. The questions have become imperative because it is apparent that many who govern us have little sensitivity to understanding the fundamental issues crucial to governance.… To see the BJP–RSS government trying to annul what we have achieved in the JNU and reduce the university to a pedestrian teaching shop is like having to see the work on one’s lifetime being systematically destroyed.…

As an academic who has lived a substantial part of my life working in the JNU, and contributing to this vision, the hostility of the current government to the JNU leaves me with a sense of despair and sadness, not just for JNU but for the future of universities in India. However, I must add that experiencing the protest of the JNU community over the last few weeks, against the attack that has been mounted on the university, does make me feel that perhaps the values that we had tried to inculcate in its early years have taken root.

When JNU recovers from the trauma of this attack it is likely to be even more committed to the values for which it was created – excellence not only in intellectual enterprise but also in endorsing a humane and open society, upholding the rights of every Indian citizen.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/10/commentary/targeting-institutions-higher-education.html

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The End of Impunity: Gujarat 2002 – By Teesta Setalvad (Feb 28, 2016, Sabrang India)

It was not simply the number of lives lost, though the number perhaps 2500 is not insignificant. It was the cold-blooded manner in which they were taken. It was not simply that 19 of Gujarat’s 25 districts burned while Neros watched, fiddled and smirked but the sinister similarity in the way they were set alight. Militias were armed with deadly training, weapons, technology and equipment; with a lethal brew of deadly intent, inspired by constructed tales of hate, using the February 28, 2002 edition of a leading Gujarati daily that urged revenge; all combined with a deadly white chemical powder that seared to burn and destroy already killed bodies. And, of course, truckloads of gas cylinders, in short supply for cooking, were used instead to blast mosques and homes. Mobile phones and motorcycles made communications easy and movement swift.…

The hasty granting of bail to those involved in the post-Godhra carnage remains a scandal. While over seven dozen of those accused of the Godhra train arson have been in jail, without bail for eight years – and today face trial within the precincts of the Sabarmati jail – powerful men, patronised by the state’s political hierarchy who are accused of multiple rapes and murders roam free in “vibrant Gujarat” even as the trials have resumed.…

A vast majority have lived in freedom even after committing unspeakable crimes. All this and more is being investigated under the orders of our apex court on a petition filed by Zakia Ahsan Jafri and the Citizens for Justice and Peace. For the first time in our history criminal conspiracy and mass murder are the charges,the chief minister and 61 others the accused. Will the wealth of evidence be matched by the rigour of investigation? Will the will to prosecute surmount political considerations? Will the Indian system throw a spotlight on what surely must be its darkest hour?…

https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/end-impunity-gujarat-2002

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 15th, 2016

February 26, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Bishop House in Kerala opens doors for Muslims to perform prayers Hindus take care of a mosque in UP’s communal cauldron News Headlines Sedition case against JNUSU president: Lawyers, BJP MLA take law in their fists ABVP members raised anti-India slogans: AAP submits video clip proof to […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 14th, 2015

December 21, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Tarigami Addresses Rally in Vijayawada On Protection of Communal Harmony News Headlines Had Islam been a religion of terrorism, Hindus would not have been existed in India today, says Shankaracharya Protests by Muslim groups continue in U.P. Paragraphs “planted” in NIA report to prove Ishrat Jahaan was […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 16th, 2015

March 17, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Puttur: CM inaugurates Mini Vidhana Soudha, stresses on communal harmony News Headlines Gulberg society massacre: In final arguments, SIT seeks conviction of all 61 accused ‘Ishrat’s family living in fear’ Bombs hurled at Tamil TV channel Puthiya Thalaimurai’s office by bike-borne assailants ‘Love jihad’ gets a Bengal […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 23rd, 2013

December 24, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines 1984 riots not comparable with post-Godhra violence: Amartya Sen Gujarat files delay condonation plea in Naroda Patiya case No evidence that Ishrat Jahan a LeT operative, CBI tells PMO NIA fails in arresting Hindus among its Most Wanted List Forced to sign blank papers, suspected terrorist […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 12th, 2013

August 13, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony When Muslims escorted a Hindu baraat News Headlines Lokayukta on Modi govt: Can’t work with ‘my way or highway’ mindset Human Rights activist Shabnam Hashmi slams Narendra Modi’s ‘Gujarat model’ as myth Discrimination in Narendra Modi’s Ahmedabad CBI seeks MHA nod to arrest ex-IB boss AAP […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 8th, 2013

July 9, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Narendra Modi used officers’ mobiles during riots? ‘A narrow thinking man cannot serve India’: Maya takes a jibe at Narendra Modi Vanzara said he had Modi’s nod to kill Ishrat: Gujarat cop Kumar oversaw detention of man murdered with Ishrat In the wake of Ishrat encounter […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 18th, 2012

June 18, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines India protest over ‘unfair targeting of Muslims’ Qateel Siddiqui murder: Yerawada jail visitor records searched Gulberg riot: Court ticks off SIT, asks for probe papers State wants Centre to ban right-wing Hindu outfits Ishrat case: CBI to quiz Intelligence Bureau officials on terror alert Police station […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 2nd, 2012

April 2, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Indian American Group strongly condemns Bihar government’s stand on Forbesganj firing, reiterates demand for justice for victims Communal Harmony Punjab Intellectuals Call For Communal Harmony News Headlines US City Council passes resolution condemning 2002 Gujarat riots Both Nanavati sons are govt lawyers! Now Modi govt gets it […]

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