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Malegaon Blast

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 2nd, 2013

by newsdigest on September 3, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

‘File chargesheet against Narendra Modi, others in 2002 post-Godhra riots case’ (Aug 30, 2013, IBN)

The lawyer of late Congress MP Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia on Thursday told a magistrate’s court in Ahmedabad that it should reject the closure report of Special Investigation Team which gives a clean chit to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 post-Godhra riots case. Zakia Jafri, whose husband was killed during the riots, has opposed the Supreme Court-appointed SIT’s report and sought filing of chargesheet against Narendra Modi and others for their alleged complicity in the riots conspiracy.

“Relying on the detailed notes on legal and factual aspects…we strongly urge the court to allow our prayers to reject the final report and to file chargesheet against the accused,” said advocate Sanjay Parikh. In his concluding argument before the Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra, Parikh also urged the court to refer to the material submitted, which, he said, “prima facie establishes the commission of crime of conspiracy and abetment besides other independent offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)”.

“At this stage, the court has to make a prima facie assessment to find out whether offence was committed by the accused in order to take cognisance and issue process. For this exercise, this court is neither bound by the label given to the report on investigation or the conclusions drawn by the SIT…A reasonable suspicion is enough to register a crime, not actual proof of its commission which has to be established during the trial,” Parikh said. Further hearing has been fixed on September 2 when the court has allowed the SIT lawyer to submit his reply to Jafri’s contentions.


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British Sikhs to oppose any Narendra Modi visit to UK (Aug 29, 2013, Economic Times)

British Sikhs have expressed opposition to any proposed visit by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to the UK. The Sikh Federation (UK) has joined Muslim groups like theCouncil of Indian Muslims UK (CIM-UK) in their boycott following an invitation for Modi to visit Britain by some Indian groups of the country’s two main political parties earlier this month.

“We welcome the fact that the UK government has not invited Modi, but oppose the tiny minority of pro-Indian Labour and Conservative MPs led by Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP from Brent North, and Sailesh Vara, the Conservative MP from North West Cambridgeshire, who have recently sent Modi invitations and want him to address UK MPs,” said Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation (UK).

The federation, a non-governmental organisation registered as a political party in the UK, claims that Modi has shown “animosity and hatred” towards minorities in India, including Sikhs, Christians and Muslims. “Sikhs in the UK will lobby UK MPs who return to Parliament in early September and the UK government to oppose Modi’s visit, not only because of his involvement in the violence in Gujarat in 2002 but because of his recent discrimination of Sikh farmers in Kutch district by trying to have them evicted,” Singh said. “It demonstrates his policy to make Gujarat, and eventually India, a Hindu state with no place for minorities,” he added.

The move comes after CIM-UK in an open letter addressed to the UK government ministers and political party leaders expressed “utter disgust” over an invitation for the chairman of the BJP’s national election committee. The UK government, like the US, had distanced itself from Modi in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots until late last year when the British high commissioner to India, James Bevan, made diplomatic overtures towards the Gujarat chief minister.


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PIL plea alleges bid by BJP leaders to derail Prajapati case against Amit Shah (Sep 3, 2013, The Hindu)

Through a sting operation, independent journalist Pushp Sharma on Monday claimed to have exposed an alleged conspiracy by some BJP leaders to subvert the course of justice in the case against the former Gujarat Home Minister, Amit Shah, in the case of killing of Tulsiram Prajapati in 2006. The journalist alleged that the BJP leaders, including MPs Prakash Javadekar and Bhupendra Yadav, had conspired to get blank vakalatnamas executed by Tulsiram’s mother Narmadabai to plant their own lawyer on her behalf and weaken the case against Mr. Shah. Tulsiram was a witness in the alleged custodial killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in November 2005.

Mr. Sharma has moved a public interest litigation petition in the Supreme Court through his advocate Kamini Jaiswal, seeking a CBI inquiry and action against the accused for obstruction of justice, and protection for himself and Narmadabai. The sting operation supposedly revealed that multiple vakalatnamas were obtained from Narmadabai through the journalist. “I know Mr. Javadekar for the past six years. In January 2012, he asked me to arrange a meeting of some lawyers with Narmadabai to facilitate payment of compensation to her by the Gujarat government. Since it was a noble cause, I volunteered. In June last year, at the official residence of Mr. Javadekar, I was told that I had to get vakalatnamas executed by Narmadabai for processing the compensation,” Mr. Sharma said at a press conference.

Suspecting that something was amiss, Mr. Sharma then decided to secretly record the developments. “I was introduced to an Indore-based lawyer who sent a subordinate along with me to Narmadabai’s residence in Ujjain. He got her thumb imprints on multiple blank vakalatnamas,” he alleged. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said: “It is evident from the transcripts that those who were in the legal defence team of Amit Shah desperately wanted the multiple blank vakalatnamas. Prima facie, it appears to be an attempt to derail investigations and the trial. They had also obtained vakalatnamas for the High Court and the Supreme Court and could have used them at any stage in various ways to weaken the case.”

Mr. Bhushan said that although CBI counsel would pursue the case, if the BJP came to power at the Centre, the agency would be under its control. “The only person to oppose any dilution in the prosecution’s case would be the complainant. But then, they could have got their own lawyer appointed on her behalf using these vakalatnamas.” Refuting the allegations, Mr. Javadekar said: “I have learnt that they have gone to court. If the court takes cognisance, we will reply.” Claiming that there was nothing incriminating against him in the recorded conversations, Mr. Yadav said: “I am told that he [Mr. Sharma] was earlier arrested by the Delhi Police in an extortion case.”

In the petition, Mr. Sharma submitted that he had previously carried out a “Rent a Riot” sting operation exposing how riots could be engineered for a price, which won him an award from the International Press Institute, Vienna. He also exposed the shoddy probe by the Uttarakhand Police into the disappearance of Swami Shankar Dev, the guru of Baba Ramdev. This led to a CBI probe. He alleged that he was implicated in false cases, including the one registered by the Delhi Police after his sting operation against the force at the Najafgarh station. That case is pending trial for the past four years.


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Asaram gets 14-day taste of jail, Jodhpur Police say case against him ‘very strong’ (Sep 2, 2013, Hindustan Times)

Self-styled godman Asaram will spend the next 14 days in Jodhpur central jail, after a sessions court on Monday remanded him in 14-day judicial custody on charges of sexually assaulting a minor girl at his Jodhpur ashram on August 15. District and session judge MK Vyas also turned down Asaram’s lawyer’s plea that the godman be sent to hospital as he was not feeling well, said state’s counsel and additional advocate general Anand Purohit.

Purohit said the prosecution told the court that Asaram will be provided health facilities if the need arises. Asaram’s lawyer, meanwhile, moved a bail application and the hearing on his plea is expected on Tuesday. Jodhpur deputy commissioner of police Ajay Lamba said the police did not seek an extension of police remand as the investigation had been completed. “Our case is very strong and we have vital evidences against the accused. We are moving in the right direction. We will file chargesheet in the case soon,” he added.

Asaram remained calm during the hearing and told the court that he was unwell. Though disappointment was writ large on his face as he came out of the courtroom after the ruling, he asked his supporters to be patient and keep on meditating. He was taken to Jodhpur central jail, where he would be kept in a barrack number 1. The 74-year-old Asaram was on Sunday remanded to police custody for a day after being grilled by Jodhpur Police for about four hours.

Earlier, asked about reports that Asaram was suffering from a neurological disorder, the DCP said, “It has been proved to be a lie. His son can say what he wants to say. We can’t comment on any body’s statement”. “A team of doctors said he is perfectly OK. He is mentally and physically fit,” Lamba said, adding he will be soon produced before court to seek more time for investigation. The DCP, however, refused to reveal the results of the potency test. “The accused is also taking food whenever served,” the DCP said. Asaram had on Sunday cleared a potency test conducted on him at the SN Medical college in Jodhpur.He was also taken to his Manai Ashram, about 30 kms from Jodhpur, where the girl was allegedly sexually assaulted.

Police had conducted a physical verification and tried to create the scene of crime. Asaram has denied sexual assault charges lodged against him by the schoolgirl. His arrest followed an FIR filed by the girl alleging she was sexually assaulted by Asaram at his ashram in this Rajasthan city. Meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Ashok Singhal told a news channel that sending Asaram to jail was an “insult to Hinduism”. But a spokesman of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) said he didn’t see a conspiracy in Asaram’s arrest and the truth will come out once the law takes its own course.


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For Malegaon, NIA moves to discharge 9 Muslims (Aug 30, 2013, Indian Express)

In a relief to the nine Muslims earlier arrested in the Malegaon 2006 serial blasts case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told a Mumbai court Thursday that it has found “no evidence” to link them to the attack. “The evidence collected by NIA in further investigation is not in consonance with the evidence collected earlier by the ATS and CBI. No evidence was found in support of the conclusion drawn in final report filed by ATS and supplementary final report submitted by CBI recommending prosecution of nine accused,” the NIA said in its first official statement. The ATS had earlier filed a chargesheet against 14 men with alleged SIMI links. Of these, nine were arrested immediately after the blasts, and released on bail in November 2011.

The NIA’s statement was filed in response to the discharge applications filed by eight of the nine men. Special MCOCA judge Yatin D Shinde will decide on the applications on September 7. In its seven-page reply, the NIA pointed out contradictions in the ATS and CBI claims, listing reasons for not finding “evidence” in their claims. For instance, it said, the ATS chargesheet said soil samples recovered from the godown of one of the accused, Shabbir Masiullah alias Batterywala, showed RDX traces. But when the NIA examined two “star witnesses”, both Malegaon residents, on whose statements the case was built, they reportedly denied that they had gone to the godown or testified to any recovery from the spot.

The case, originally handled by the Maharashtra ATS and later handed over to the CBI, was transferred to the NIA following a confession made by Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts case. Aseemanand confessed before a magistrate that the Malegaon blasts were executed by a Hindu group. Though the NIA chargesheet did not name Aseemanand as an accused, sources said a supplementary chargesheet will soon be filed naming the other accused.

Besides Masiullah, the others who were arrested in the case are Noorul Huda Samsudoha, Raees Ahmed Rajjab Ali Mansuri, Salman Farsi Abdul Latif Aimi, Farogh Iqbal Ahmed Magdumi, Shalik Mohammad ali Alam Amanat Ali Shaikh, Aasif Khan Bashir Khan, Mohmed Zahid Abdul Majid Ansari and Abrar Ahmed Gulam Ahmed.


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Mumbai serial blasts convict Manoj Kumar held in Kerala (Aug 29, 2013, Indian Express)

Absconding Mumbai serial blasts convict Manoj Kumar Bhanwaralal Gupta alias Munna was arrested from his wife’s house in Kannur district, Kerala, on Wednesday. A special TADA court had issued an arrest warrant against Gupta in April after the Supreme Court upheld his life sentence. Gupta has been absconding since. On receiving information linking Gupta to Kerala, the CBI alerted the Kannur police, who kept tabs on his house in Athazhakkunu, Thiruvananthapuram.

Gupta has, however, been hiding in UP and other states since April. He had gone to Kannur to meet his family once, but managed to elude the CBI. He was spotted on Tuesday night and taken into custody immediately. The Kannur police said he will be handed over to the CBI. The police said Gupta had married a woman from Kerala in 2007. “After he was released from prison, Gupta stayed at various mosques. During one of these stays, an Imam from Kerala, in a mosque near Mumbai, arranged his marriage with a woman from Kerala,” they said.

The CBI had found that Gupta, the 24th accused in the case, was a close associate of Tiger Memon, who was responsible for the Mumbai blasts. The Supreme Court held that Gupta had a key role in the conspiracy behind the blasts. The TADA court had previously acquitted Gupta of conspiracy charges in 1996.


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Rajasthan BJP lawmaker seeks anticipatory bail in riot case (Aug 30, 2013, Business Standard)

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator in Rajasthan moved a courthere Friday seeking anticipatory bail in the case of the 2011 communal violence in Bharatpur district that left 10 people dead, said a lawyer. Anita Singh, legislator from Nagar constituency in Bharatpur, was among the 43 people recently booked by the the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on various charges in connection with the violence in Gopalgarh area of the district between Gujjar and Meo communities.

The clash occurred Sep 14, 2011 over a piece of land, with one group claiming that it was for a burial centre and the other that it was for a pond. 40 people were also injured in the clash. Anita Singh’s lawyer A.K. Jain said that the legislator has been booked for obstructing government servants in carrying out their duty among some other charges. The lawyer said that the anticipatory bail application was filed in the district judge’s court Friday.

“The application will come up for hearing on Monday,” Jain said. “We had sought anticipatory bail after CBI filed an application in the special court for CBI cases in Jaipur seeking arrest warrant against 43 people including Anita Singh, Congress legislator from Kaman constituency Zahida Khan and several other local BJP leaders,” said Jain.


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BSF officer, cop posed as IM men to extort: Police (Aug 30, 2013, Indian Express)

A Delhi Police constable, a retired Border Security Force (BSF) officer and a serving BSF officer were arrested on charges of attempting to extort Rs 30 lakh from a Noida-based doctor. The three allegedly pretended to be members of terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) to extort from the doctor, who is from Kashmir. Police said the accused have been identified as Pavan Kumar (45), a retired BSF officer who had previously served in Delhi and Kashmir, Paramjeet Bhati (30), a BSF officer, Vikas Choudhury (28), a Delhi Police constable posted in Police Lines.

On August 16, Dr Vinay Bhatt received a letter from “IM members”, demanding Rs 30 lakh, police said. Bhatt told police that he received many extortion calls from different numbers till August 31. Police put Bhatt’s phone on surveillance and arrested the accused. “On August 28, we arrested the three.

Pavan Kumar was the mastermind. He visited the doctor for treatment a few months ago and was impressed by the amount of money the doctor earned,” a senior police officer said. Police said the accused used a software called ‘Crazy Call’, which helped scramble phone calls made to Dr Bhatt. “Paramjeet made the threatening calls,” the officer said.


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Muslims take out huge rally rooting for Samaikyandhra (Sep 1, 2013, The Hindu ()

Thousands of Muslims participated in a Samaikyandhra rally held in the city on Saturday, which was one of the biggest shows of strength by people demanding that the State be kept unified. Muslims from various parts of the city and suburbs reached the Gandhi statue opposite GVMC office in the morning to participate in the rally organised by the Visakha Muslim Joint Action Committee and marched to old Head Post Office junction via Dabagardens, Jagadamba junction and Kotha road.

All through the route they raised slogans in support of Samaikyandhra. The large number of people, with many wearing white skull caps, attracted people. At Jagadamba junction, a mass namaaz was organised and prayers were made for Samaikyandhra. Moulana Abdul Rehaman led the prayers. At the public meeting, speakers demanded that the Central Government keep the State united as it was the wish of the people. Chairman of the JAC I.H. Farooqui said the huge response from Muslims displayed their strong wish and this should taken note of by the leaders in Delhi.

He pointed out that large areas of Wakf lands in Visakhapatnam district were sold and spent on the Haj House and other projects in Hyderabad. Hence the Haj House belongs to all Muslims. Also, Muslims of other parts would not accept the argument of the people of Telangana that Hyderabad belonged to them alone.

Convenor of JAC S.K.ALI said that the division of the State would lead to many problems for Muslims. President of All Mosques Federation F.R Khan discussed Muslim reservation, Wakf Board funds and the future of minority students.


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Delhi woman gang-raped by cops, their friends; 4 arrested (Aug 31, 2013, DNA India)

A Delhi-based woman was allegedly gang-raped and her male friend assaulted by two police constables and their three friends here on the outskirts of the national capital. Four of the accused, including the two PAC constables, have been arrested for the incident that took place yesterday, and the PAC jeep used by them has also been seized, SP (City) Yogesh Singh said, adding that a hunt is on to nab the fifth accused.

The 25-year-old was with her property dealer friend in the B-Block of Sector-105 area last night when the five men came in the jeep, assaulted him and raped the woman, Singh said. They also took away her mobile phone and ATM card, which they used to buy fuel for their jeep, he said. The woman, a resident of Old Shahadara in Delhi, said in her complaint that she had come to meet her friend.

“The woman said that between 7 and 8 pm, five men, including the two PAC constables entered their room, overpowered her friend and then raped her,” a police officer said. “On getting information about the rape, police swung into action and arrested four of the accused. Two of them were identified as PAC head constable Banshi Ram Sharma and constable Subhash. Other two accused were Arun Kumar and Bunty, their friends. One Jeetu is absconding,” the SP (City) said.

PAC 49 battalion circle officer’s jeep, which was used by the accused, has been seized, he said. A case under sections 376 (rape), 392 (robbery), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 334 (voluntarily causing hurt on provocation) has been registered at Noida’s Sector 39 police station, and further investigations are on in the case, police said.


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Opinions and Editorials

Little resonance for Hindutva – Editorial (Aug 26, 2013, Hindustan Times)

Over the last few days, the yesteryear poster boys of Hindutva, Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia, realised not only their fading appeal but also the increasing irrelevance of a confrontational topic that they dust off occasionally – the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. The people of Uttar Pradesh cold shouldered the renewed efforts to bring the temple back to the forefront of the national agenda – which, is now preoccupied with a flailing economy. The absence of any significant mass support for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) yatra around Ayodhya is reassuring. It shows that the people have evolved from the days of the early 1990s when communal confrontations shook the very foundations of India. The younger generation, which is demanding better governance from our politicians, is not easily swayed by cynical politics. But this reading of the situation must not make us complacent.

The VHP’s plans for Ayodhya, far from being an act of piety, are clearly designed for political ends. The BJP, an associate of the Sangh parivar along with the VHP, may still be tempted to fall back on some identity politics as the 2014 election nears. A huge increase in its UP tally is essential for the BJP to stay in the reckoning to form a government at the Centre. If the political climate in the country polarises into a binary situation, based on the single question of whether you are for Narendra Modi or against him, the possibility of religious mobilisation becomes more possible. While we cannot fault the administrative measures taken by the Samajwadi Party-led government in UP to avoid a showdown, the diatribe that is sought to be built by its leaders is a worrisome sign. The high decibel cacophony involving the BJP and the SP leaders in the state evokes the dark memories of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when both parties sought to gain from religious polarisation.

The last decade has been relatively calm in UP in terms of the communal situation, but the last 18 months have been troublesome. Ever since the current government led by Akhilesh Yadav took office, there have been nearly 150 communal clashes in the state. At least a dozen of them have been serious. An ongoing cow protection movement in the state has been a major source of friction in the state. Altogether, the situation in UP has never been worse in the last decade. So while we certainly have reasons to be proud that divisive politics is not easy to sell to India’s younger generation, we must constantly be aware of the tenuous nature of our social harmony. While the state must take strong administrative measures to ensure that hate is not propagated, the responsibility is more on our political parties to desist from disharmonious mobilisation, howsoever tempting that may be. Given the grave challenges that India faces to bring back the economy on track, we can ill-afford such social tensions now.


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‘If My Wife And I Had Not Been Present There, We Would Never Have Believed Our Own Daughter’ – By Priyanka Dubey (Sep 2, 2013, Tehelka)

…In the past ten days, they have undergone a lot of mental agony. On the night of 15 August, their daughter was allegedly raped by their godman in Jodhpur. After filing a complaint in Delhi on 20 August and getting a medical checkup of Roshni done, they went to Jodhpur for a judicial enquiry after which they returned to Shahjahanpur. According to a neighbour, Kishan Agarwal, some reporters from the electronic media asked him inappropriate questions. Without his permission, a microphone was clipped on his collar and before he could realise what was happening, he was on television. “As it is, the family had not recovered from the shock,” claims Kishan, “and then this incident happened. It distressed him so much that he refuses to meet the media. But after receiving a written request from TEHELKA, he agreed to meet our correspondent.

The family stays on the first floor of the house in the backyard of the compound. As we enter the drawing room, we see Dharam Singh, a 50-year-old man, dressed in a soiled kurta-pyjama. He is crying as he talks to someone on the phone. In a heavy voice, he pleads on the phone, “No… no matter what happens now, I will not take back the case. Our condition is very bad. My wife and daughter both are very ill. If he is not sent to jail and roams around free, he will keep threatening us. We are under a lot of pressure. The police have not even arrested him yet. After what he did to our daughter, how can I take my complaint back?” Meanwhile, his relatives tell us that he has been receiving phone calls not only from acquaintances and ‘well-wishers’, but also from ministers and intermediaries. They added that officials from the ashram tried to threaten the family using their younger son. His son studied at the Chhindwara Gurukul run by the Asaram Trust, where his daughter used to study too. The ashram authorities refused to allow him to leave. After a prolonged struggle, he got a ‘Transfer Certificate’ from the ashram on 26 August and was handed over to them.

The assault has not only scarred the family physically and emotionally, but has also left their religious belief shaken. Here’s an account in his own words. On how he came to know of Asaram Bapu: ‘In the beginning we didn’t have anything. Then I started a small transport business. It grew steadily. About 10 years ago, I came to know of Asaram. There is something about him that wins the hearts of the people, mesmerises them. We fell for his charm and my family and I became his devotees. We were among the earliest devotees from Shahjahanpur. We made him popular here. We had such deep faith in him that we even constructed an ashram for him on 7 acres of land in Tilhad district some 8 or 10 kilometers from here. We handed the land over to his son Sai Narayan. Selflessly, I spent lakhs on this man. And today he is trying to lure us with money. He says, “Take money and forget about the case.” The way he has bought everyone, he wants to buy me too.

On what happened to his daughter: ‘She had been studying in Asaram’s Chhindwara Gurukul for the past five years. My younger son also studied there. There was never any issue. Everything being said about Roshni’s health is false. She has always been perfectly healthy. But for no reason, they started her treatment. My daughter told me that she didn’t have any problem, but suddenly the Gurukul sevikas told her that she was under the influence of spirits. They told me that she would have to perform a puja for one whole night. They took her away and at night, four or five of them sat around her in a hall. They made her recite the mahamrityunjay mantra. She told me later how she had got a headache after that. The next day we received a call from the Ashram informing us that our daughter was unwell. The sevikas told us that only Asaram Bapu could heal her. We were told to meet Asaram on 15 August in his Jodhpur ashram. My wife and I reached Chhindwara and took our daughter along with us to Jodhpur.’

‘We were told to go there at night on 15 August. Behind the Manai Ashram of Jodhpur there are some cottages. Asaram had called us there. When we reached there, he told us to meditate by looking into his eyes. We were overjoyed that someone people crave to meet is asking us to look into his eyes. But now I know that it was just a plot to hypnotize us. He asked us to leave our daughter as he was going perform some incantations on her to cure her. We told him it was late and we had no place to go. Moreover, we did not want to leave our daughter alone. So he told us we could rest in the hut next door, while he attended to our daughter. We worshipped him like God and trusted him so we went to the other cottage leaving our daughter with him. Even then we were reciting his bhajans. When Roshni returned after about one-and-a-half hour later, she was crying. When I asked what had happened, she asked to leave immediately. I got suspicious. When we reached home, I told my wife to ask her what happened there. After much insistence, she told her that when we had left, Asaram took her to another room from a door at the back. There, Asaram told her that he would heal her and that she was going to become a great orator. Then he asked her to remove her clothes and raped her. He threatened her that if she told anybody about it, her family would face the consequences. Had Roshni told me there, I would have picked a stone and hit Asaram with it. There wasn’t even much security there. He destroyed the life and honour of our daughter. We will never forgive him.” …


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Bit Players’ Scripts – By Prarthna Gahilote (Sep 9, 2013, Outlook)

A lot of hope was rekindled in the BJP two months back when it decided to muzzle all dissidence and present a united face for electioneering. The monsoon session infused fresh energy: BJP parliamentarians found enough ammunition to attack the government on issues of corruption, the worsening state of the economy and matters of national security. With the Lok Sabha polls barely nine months away, the downslide of the UPA (despite the little boost provided by the passage of the Food Security Bill) must become the BJP’s surest bet to turn up trumps. But there may still be a long distance for the party to travel between building itself as the only alternative, cobbling up the required numbers and managing both the strident voices keen to project the BJP as a one-man—that is, Modi—show and the vocal doubters. While some senior leaders in the BJP are wont to periodically voice doubts, more or less subtly, over projecting one leader as the prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 polls, the worry over the issue has spilled over even to the RSS headquarters. The Sangh is likely to discuss the matter threadbare in Delhi next week, when it congregates in the capital for a high-level meeting.

Sources confirm that senior leaders at the Sangh headquarters in Nagpur have been deep in discussion about Modi’s conduct and the current tone and tenor of the cadre support for him. Nearly two months after Modi was declared the chief of the campaign committee, Sangh leaders are debating if the Modimania that seemed to have enthused and fired both the BJP and the RSS cadre in June is just as crackling now. The RSS senses a dent in the surface. A senior pracharak voices the doubt: “What was the need for Modiji to do a US presidential campaign-style retort to the prime minister’s speech? If (Sitaram) Kesriji was called a man in a hurry, will this not make Modiji look like a man in a hurry? The sense of disappointment is not just limited to us but can be seen in the cadre as well. Modiji’s two recent speeches, first in Hyderabad and then in Bhuj, haven’t gone down well.” Many in the BJP also agree with this view, calling Modi’s efforts an “unnecessary petty exercise.” Modi’s August 15 speech not just found a veiled criticism from party veteran L.K. Advani but even alliance partner Shiv Sena. …

This quietly critical assessment of Modi in action from within the BJP and the NDA is the reason the shrill clamour on the ‘Modi for PM’ front from Bihar two weeks back gave party president Rajnath Singh a real scare. Faithfuls from the state, convinced that it was time to play the Modi card fully, adopted a resolution at the Bodh Gaya state executive meeting that Modi be declared the prime ministerial candidate. It was led by Sushil Modi, former deputy chief minister, and came like a bolt from the blue. For the Delhi leadership, the Bihar unit’s demand was not just ill-timed but could cause trouble. Explains a highly placed source, “The central leadership had no idea this was being planned. We were shocked. Rajnathji was under tremendous pressure to immediately quell all speculation.” So, Sushil Modi received a sharp reprimand from Rajnath who reiterated that the “decision rests with the parliamentary board.” …

The party’s hopes hinge on ‘harvest states’ like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, representing about a 100 seats. The electoral arithmetic in the states is not a dead cert, though. In many ways, the BJP’s performance in the assembly polls will be seen as reflecting on Modi as the man anointed to lead the party in the general elections. For Modi, therefore, there is much at stake here. With three of the four major assembly (Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) polls looking dicey for the BJP, lack of allies at the national level and the absence of an absolute electoral calculus may finally prevent Modi from conjuring the magic that he has so far promised. ‘Should Modi fail to deliver’ is the thought that’s lending strength to the perpetual intrigue and individual aspirations of Modi’s erstwhile rivals in Delhi. Among those who stand prominent as possible challengers are party chief Rajnath Singh, L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. For now, aligned with Modi, Rajnath not only nurses a quiet prime ministerial ambition but has also positioned himself as one of the three leaders in the party (Jaitley and Modi being the other two) who should remain relevant in party affairs in the months to come.

Set against this scenario, the BJP seems caught between a rock and a hard place. There are some in the BJP who argue that Modi’s ambition for 2014 actually stems from the realisation that this would be his last chance to push himself centrestage. A senior leader says, “Modi knows that the numbers will fall short. The effort therefore is not so much to grab 7 Race Course but to strengthen his own position, capture the party in Delhi and then purge it.” If that be true, the future will be shaky for a party heavily dependent on cult creation.


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Anatomy of Terror Trials – By Manisha Sethi (Sep 2, 2013,

This case is fairly representative of the manner in which UAPA cases are framed and prosecuted. Elusiveness of charges is matched only by infirmity of evidences. Media trials, which link the accused to acts of terror they are not even formally charged with, are conducted; and bail applications rejected repeatedly. The prosecution hopes till the last moment that no one will miss the required sanction. Only, not all are as lucky as these men from Kota. An Ujjain court ruled that lack of credible independent witnesses would not come in the way of its war against terror because. The desire to uphold national security can sometimes outweigh the commitment to rule of law and justice.

Some would argue that framing of innocents in false charges is a result of the law’s gross misuse by police. That law, any law, by itself is simply an instrument that is abused by biased, ignorant, ill intentioned policemen—implying that there are possible good uses to which UAPA could be employed. But look a little more closely: at the heart of UAPA are the twin arteries of membership (of unlawful organizations) and conspiracy (of furthering the activities of the unlawful organization). Both, membership to an organization that no longer exists legally, and nebulous charges of conspiracy are notoriously difficult to pin down. Any surprise then that Khandwa police in its most high profile operation yet ‘seized’ membership forms of SIMI – duly filled in by the accused – conveniently lying around their homes? That seized literature constitutes the bulk of evidence of conspiracy? The courts found Maoist literature apparently seized from Seema Azad and Vishwavijay sufficient basis to hand out life sentences to the couple. Binayak Sen’s conviction by the Chhattisgarh sessions court also hinged on the recovery of magazines and pamphlets from his house, all of which were freely available.

Each amendment has brought into the ambit of ‘unlawful’ an ever-growing circle of acts and actors, strengthening the subjective basis of its application, virtually creating a suspicion state. Opposing POTA introduced by the NDA government, S. Jaipal Reddy had laid out four grounds of objection to the legislation: “First, it is destructive of the basic democratic liberties; second, it has been demonstrated empirically in our own country that this a remedy worse than the malady; third, it has been prompted, by malignant political motives; and fourth, it jettisons the basic established principles of criminal jurisprudence without a necessary protective shield.” However, the Parliament attack weathered away the resistance to this draconian law – and almost as a replay, the Mumbai attack in November 2008 drummed up support for a tough law against terror in the form of amended UAPA.

Short of admitting confession as evidence – much to the chagrin of Advani – the new, improved UAPA 2008 looked remarkably similar to TADA (which incidentally P. Chiadambaram had inaugurated in 1987 as Minister of State for Home). It extended the period of remand to 180 days while rendering the bail provisions extremely stringent. Appealing to his colleagues to pass the amended bill without insisting on a referral to the Standing Committee, PC assured them that Parliament could “revisit the Bills and make the improvements in course of time”. Indeed, he promised, “If any improvements have to be done, we can always come back and look at the Bill when we meet again in February.” The Parliament has only returned to the law to add more muscle to it.

Having already included terror funding and holding of terror camps as offences in UAPA 2008 (and voila you will suddenly find these charges surfacing in the FIRs—but again with the sketchiest possible details), the Parliament in its last session explicitly incorporated economic offences under the definition of terrorist acts. Amendment of section 15 now declares the production, distribution of “high quality counterfeit currency” as a terrorist offence, and not simply a financial one that was up till now dealt with under sections 489B, 489C, 489D of the IPC. Punjab Police’s partiality towards TADA’s powerful provisions, or Maharashtra police’s quick recourse to MCOCA over ordinary criminal law, has been too well documented to not know that police favour draconian laws when they are available. …


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Women, Safety, and the City of Mumbai – By Sameera Khan (Sep 7, 2013, EPW)

Why Mumbai?” Eight years ago, while researching women’s presence in the public space in Mumbai, my colleagues and I “Were often asked with much bewilderment, “But why are you studying Bombay/Mumbai?” For Mumbai has always been recognised as that affable Indian city where women seem to have it all. Certainly when compared to other Indian metros, women in Mumbai are privileged in their access to public space. In most areas of the city, a woman hailing a cab alone at 10 pm, for example, is fairly acceptable. A woman out on a work assignment in central Mumbai would undoubtedly be considered secure. But regrettably in more recent years, this taken-for-granted safety of women in public has taken a beating. Few now care to ask us, “Why Mumbai?”

The recent gang rape of a young photojournalist (while her male colleague was assaulted and tied up) out for a work assignment on the evening of 22 August 2013 in the abandoned Shakti Mills compound in Mahalaxmi, an area in the centre of the city, has got everyone suitably outraged, but it is unquestionably not the first violent assault of its kind. From 853 recorded incidents of crime against women in 2001 to 1,781 such cases in 2012, Mumbai’s contribution to crimes against women, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, now stands a little over 5% of the national total. When compared to Delhi (City), its favourite jousting partner, which now accounts for over 13% of total crimes against women, Mumbai may seem relatively safer. But the country’s commercial capital has recorded 649 rapes (registered under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code – IPC) and 1,652 cases of molestation (registered under Section 354 of the IPC) in the last three years. Mumbai runs neck-to-neck with Delhi in molestation cases (or assaults on women with the intent to “outrage her modesty”, as the law puts it) with a 13% rise in their number in 2012.

In the last year, crimes against women have piled up fast. On 18 August, a 24-year-old American woman had her face, neck, and arms slashed with a blade on a local train; in late July a nurse was molested in a local train; and in May a masked man flung acid on a woman who was starting a new job in the city. In November 2012, a Spanish woman was raped in her apartment by a robber; the same month another woman had some chemical flung on her face by a former boyfriend; and in August 2012 a lawyer was murdered by the security guard of her building. The list of rapes, molestations, and acid attacks goes on and on. These are public incidents (private or domestic violence, according to the NCRB, is higher) that have been recorded by the police. The bulk of assaults remain unregistered. As investigations into the Shakti Mills gang-rape case now show, the same five men possibly raped at least four women rag-pickers weeks before they assaulted the journalist. It is no surprise that those women did not report the rapes – in the work they do they are usually harassed by the authorities, and to trust law enforcers to protect them must have seemed rather hopeless.

Besides the horrific fact that this probably emboldened these men to continue raping other women, the wider concern is whether we (I mean the city, police, and the media) would have been similarly enraged and out on the streets if the rape victims had been poor women. Recall that a similar sort of outrage was expressed when a middle-class college girl was raped by a policeman on Marine Drive in April 2005, but that it was missing when a teenage rag-picker was raped, also by a policeman, near the airport only six months later. It does seem that crimes against the bodies of middle-class women, especially those committed by lower-class men, receive more attention and rouse our anger than crimes against others. The questions less asked when we straighten up with pride about Mumbai and its relative friendliness to women is, “What made Mumbai safe?” and its converse, “What has changed that it no longer feels so comfortable?” …

Working women have been a part of Mumbai’s fabric for so long that it is hard to remember a time when the ladies compartments on local trains was not filled to overflowing or when many women had to battle to get into so many all-male bastions of work. This includes the media, which with the gang rape of one of its own fraternity, has been stunned into realising that it probably needs to agitate more strongly for a safer city for all. Finally, there are other changes that have also had implications for women’s safety. The insane real estate market keeps the wealthy in “the city” and throws out others to less-developed suburbs and satellite areas, and the worn-out infrastructure and an aged transportation network get less attention than they deserve. 4 Negotiating cities undoubtedly involves an element of risk. But that risk should not be forced on citizens because the city did not put infrastructure and systems in place to help them. This includes round-the-clock transportation all days of the week, public toilets that are open at all times, optimal street lighting, and policemen on duty whose jobs are not to send home a woman at 10 pm so that she may be “safer” (she may not be), but to ensure that she can stay out because they will make sure the street is safe.5 Curbing the everyday harassment women suffer on the street has to be a priority. …


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Employing Muslims in security forces is beneficial in more ways than one – Editorial (Aug 23, 2013, Times of India)

Several government reports and independent studies have indicated that historically Muslims, who constitute about 14% of the population, have been significantly under-represented across ministries and departments, especially in India’s security agencies and paramilitary forces. This could be due to a complex of factors, ranging from discrimination against Muslims to insufficient propensity within the community to come forward and capitalise on the opportunities offered by a modern economy. It’s heartening, therefore, that the share of Muslims in government jobs shot up from 6.93% in 2006-07 to over 10% in 2010-11, according to the latest NSSO data.

This could be a sign of increasing aspiration among India’s Muslims, but credit should also go to a central directive to states to take targeted steps to recruit from the minority pool. This rise from the bottom of the pile is undoubtedly a sign of greater inclusiveness and minority trust and confidence in institutions. Last year’s appointment of Syed Ibrahim as Intelligence Bureaudirector showed that minorities are making slow but steady progress even though economic growth has declined of late because of drifting governance.

While NSSO data indicate that the access of Muslims to more public sector jobs has increased, greater efforts still need to be made to recruit them in central paramilitary and police forces where they have been historically discriminated against. By adopting a general process — rather than a parti-cularistic, quota-system approach — of recruitment, sufficient minority presence in national security organisations will ensure more efficient investigation and fair treatment of riots cases, besides paving the way for effective intelligence gathering in the fight against terrorism. Above all, an equitable distribution of Muslims in the police forces will help accomplish the aims of community policing and within-organisation sensitisation.


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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 24th, 2013

by newsdigest on June 25, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Godhra Muslim trust to help poor Hindu widows (Jun 23, 2013, Indian Express)

In an effort to propagate the virtues of communal harmony among the people belonging to different communities, an Islamic charitable trust has organised a programme in Godhra Sunday wherein Hindu widows from weaker sections of the society will be offered monthly grocery kits to support their family.

The Hamdard Charitable Trust, which had so far been giving groceries to Muslim widows since 2010, has decided to extend the facility to Hindu widows in order to propagate communal harmony, trustees said. The facility will be launched at an event organised Sunday.

“We have identified over 50 such widows. Even Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Godhra has given us a list of 20 such widows who could avail our assistance,” Ishak Kharadi, a member of the trust said.

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Modi’s rally strong message against minorities: Bajwa (Jun 24, 2013, Indian Express)

Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa on Sunday accused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of fanning communal hatred and working against the interest of minority communities. Reacting to Modi’s rally at Madhopur, Bajwa said holding the rally on border of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir was deliberate and a strong message against the minority communities. “Both the states have minority populations and the rally venue was aimed at communal polarisation. Punjab had already faced a long spell of communal disturbance and J&K is still facing communal strife. Modi proved he is the fountainhead of communal hatred and has no agenda for development of the nation. He is desperate to become the prime minister at the cost of unity and integrity of country,” he said in a statement.

Slamming the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, Bajwa said both SAD and BJP are two sides of same coin. “They have a common agenda to grab power by hook or crook. The interests of Sikhs and other minority communities are not safe in the hands of this alliance, which is an opportunist arrangement,” said Bajwa. He added: “Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who addressed the BJP rally, should get Modi’s magic wand of development and try it in Punjab where SAD-BJP alliance had pushed the state from first to 12th rank on economic indicators. The NDA had lost its relevance after most of its partners have left the alliance. SAD and Shiv Sena are the only two parties supporting BJP and all three are based on communal agenda.”

Questioning the sanctity of the SAD-BJP alliance, Bajwa said SAD was opposed to the construction of peace memorial for the 25,000 innocents killed during terrorism days in Punjab while the BJP has failed to take a decisive stand on the issue. He also accused Modi of shedding “crocodile tears” for victims of Uttarakhand flash floods.


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CBI looking into allegations of Modi hand in 2003 encounter (Jun 21, 2013, Times of India)

The CBI has for the first time submitted before a court that it is investigating “relevant points” of the allegations about the role allegedly played by chief minister Narendra Modi, former minister Amit Shah and top IB police officer Rajinder Kumar in the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar fake encounter case. Sadiq was killed near Galaxy cinema in Naroda in January 2003. After the encounter, the city crime branch had dubbed him a terrorist out on a mission to kill Modi and other saffron leaders to avenge the 2002 Gujarat riots.

On Thursday the probe agency also submitted before a special CBI court that it was looking into the conduct of officers of the subsidiary Intelligence Bureau in Mumbai and those who had projected the Bhavnagar youth as a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative. The CBI said it was probing further into the conduct of Mumbai-based journalist Ketan Tirodkar and ‘encounter specialist’ police officer Daya Nayak. The agency made these submissions in response to the special court’s notice over the demand for further investigation made by Shabbir, Sadiq’s brother.

Shabbir had claimed the CBI had gone silent after chargesheeting eight policemen last December, though the probe report showed the murder was part of a larger conspiracy and various agencies were involved in it. Shabbir’s application said the roles of top police officers such as D G Vanzara and P P Pande had not been investigated yet. He had demanded a probe into “the role played by then home minister and the chief minister in the entire conspiracy and (directions to) the CBI to file a supplementary chargesheet and take such further necessary actions required under the law.” Special CBI judge V K Vyas posted the case for further hearing on July 3. Justice M R Shah of the Gujarat high court had handed over the investigation of the case to the CBI in 2011.


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IB officer had hand in Ishrat killing: CBI (Jun 23, 2013, Hindustan Times)

The CBI investigation team has concluded that Intelligence Bureau (IB) special director Rajinder Kumar had ‘actively connived’ with the Gujarat police team that killed alleged Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) suicide bomber Ishrat Jahan and her three associates in a fake encounter on June 15, 2004 in Ahmedabad. Sources say since the investigation team’s conclusion is based on statements of lower level Gujarat police personnel involved in the encounter and the investigators so far have not found any material corroborative evidence, the agency is likely to seek legal advice before a charge sheet is filed.

“At the moment, the charge sheet is being finalised and it will be sent for legal vetting,” said a CBI official who did not wish to be named. The Gujarat High Court has given the agency time till July 4 to file a charge sheet in the case. “Contrary to some of the earlier media reports, GL Singhal, the Gujarat cadre IPS officer and an accused in the case, has not given a statement before magistrate under section 164 of the criminal procedure code,” said the official. The agency has recorded at least 10 statements before magistrates, mostly from witnesses.

Meanwhile, IB officials are keeping their fingers crossed on the issue of filing any possible charge sheet against Kumar. Kumar has been interrogated twice by the agency. At the time of his second round of questioning, he demanded removal of Gujarat cadre IPS official Satish Verma from the investigation team alleging that Verma was targeting him as they didn’t go along well at the time of his posting in Ahmedabad. After Kumar raised the issue, Verma didn’t sit in the second round of questioning on June 18.

Verma, who was assisting the CBI in the investigation of the case as he was part of the successive special investigation teams of police officials formed by the high court, will also part ways with the CBI on June 23. “Once Kumar had raised objections, for the sake of fairness, it was better to remove Verma, although, his disassociation with the investigation team came at a late juncture,” said an IB official, who did not wish to be identified.


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Malegaon blasts: RSS pracharak used code names during training (Jun 23, 2013, Times of India)

Rajendra Chaudhary, a bomb planter in the 2006 Malegaon serial blasts, said that all the youths who attended a terror training camp in Madhya Pradesh in January 2006 were given code names by mastermind Sunil Joshi to hide their identities.

In its chargesheet, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) stated that the terror training camp was organized by RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi (murdered in 2007). “Joshi gave me a new name as Samundar. Another participant Kamal Chaowhan was given the coded name of Vijay, Lokesh Sharma was called Ajay, and Joshi himself was called Manoj. This was to hide our identity,” Chaudhary said in his statement. He, along with three others, is behind the bars for their involvement in the 2006 Malegaon blasts.

“We would discuss the atrocities on Hindus by Pakistani Muslims and planned to target Muslims’ places of worship, their institutes, religious processions etc. We took pledge to take revenge,” Chaudhary added. Dhan Singh – another arrested accused – said that they were shown a movie, Black Friday, based on 1993 Mumbai riots and blasts, as part of indoctrination process. “I used to attend my village’s RSS shakha since 2002 where I came in touch with Sunil Joshi. Our only motto was revenge and attack on Muslims,” Singh said.

Singh said that in 2008, on the instructions of wanted accused Ramchandra Kalsangara, he along with one Dinesh had taken a motorcycle to Sendhwa in MP. NIA suspects that the same bike was used in planting bombs in Malegaon in 2008. Their associate, Lokesh Sharma, has also been arrested for the 2008 Malegaon blast. Singh, Chaudhary and two other accused said that they continued their terror-related activities even after the 2006 Malegaon bombings, according to the chargesheet.

“Amit Hakla and our group shifted to Manvata Nagar in Indore in September 2007. Our activities like preparing bomb and chalking out plans to attack Muslims continued till October 2008,” Singh told NIA. A witness told NIA that Sunil Joshi wanted to kill Justice U C Banerjee, chairman of Godhra Commission. Joshi, along with the witness, had even conducted reconnaissance of Banerjee’s house and adjoining areas in Kolkata on October 15, 2005. “After the recce, I learnt that Joshi wanted to kill Banerjee and I got separated from him,” the witness said.


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PIL seeks action against ATS, IPS officers for ‘framing’ 9 muslim youths (Jun 24, 2013, Indian Express)

A Kandivali-based businessman has filed a criminal PIL in Bombay High Court seeking action against senior IPS officers including former Maharashtra ATS chief K P Raguvanshi for the alleged false implication of nine Muslim men in the Malegaon blast case of 2006, after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed its chargesheet in May naming four accused from Indore as perpetrators.

Sayyad Ameen Mustafa (30), in his PIL has stated that the ATS which had arrested the nine Muslim men following four explosions in Malegaon on September 8, 2006, had, until December 2010, opposed the grant of bail or discharge to the nine and violated their fundamental rights. In November, 2011, however, a special MCOCA court released them on bail. In the PIL filed through lawyer Ejaz Naqvi, Mustafa has asked the court to go through the chargesheets filed by the ATS in 2006, by the CBI in 2011 and the latest by the NIA.

The PIL says NIA chargesheet names four Hindu men from Indore as being those responsible for the blasts. Mustafa has stated that Lt Col Prasad Purohit, arrested in the Malegaon bomb blasts of 2008, has admitted his role in the conspiracy behind the 2006 blasts.

The PIL urged the court to order a departmental inquiry against 16 police officers – officers attached to the ATS in 2006 including Raghuvanshi, Subodh Jaiswal, Jagjeet Singh, Kisan Shengal, Naval Bajaj, S D Baviskar, retired DGP P S Pasricha, Malegaon SP Rajvardhan, SP (Thane Rural) Archana Tyagi, DCPs Amitabh Gupta, Dhananjay Kamlakar and Niket Kaushik and Deputy SP CBI Raman Tyagi. Mustafa demanded that the officers be asked to raise funds to compensate the nine accused. He asked that the accused be granted emotional support and their rehabilitation be ensured.


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Custodial death: SC dismisses West Bengal govt’s plea against CBI probe (Jun 24, 2013, Times of India)

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Mamata Banerjee government’s plea challenging a Calcutta high court order for a CBI probe into the alleged custodial death of aTrinamool Congress worker in Dhaniakhali police station area in Hooghly district of West Bengal. “We are not inclined to entertain it,” a bench of justices AK Patnaik and Ranjan Gogoi said on the West Bengal government’s petition.

The high court had on May 13 ordered a CBI probe in the case and had directed the CID, which was investigating the case, to hand over all papers and documents with regard to the case to the central agency. Nasiruddin, a Trinamool Congress worker, was allegedly picked up by officers of Dhaniakhali police station on January 18 from near his house in connection with a case regarding registration papers of his newly-bought small transport vehicle.

A friend of Nasiruddin was allegedly called to the police station in the late hours of January 18 and was asked to take him to hospital claiming that he was not well. On being taken to a government hospital, the doctors declared Nasiruddin brought dead. The state government had handed over the investigation into Nasiruddin’s death to CID following a furore over the death.

A PIL was then filed by an advocate praying for a CBI investigation claiming that a fair and impartial investigation was not possible by any state agency as the allegation was against the state police. The high court, upon hearing the submissions of the petitioner and the state, had criticised the pace and manner of the investigation.


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Uttarakhand Tragedy: Babas or ‘Religious men’ held with Rs 1 cr in stolen money (Jun 24, 2013, Indian Express)

Rescuers working to evacuate stranded pilgrims claim to have recovered over Rs 1 crore over the past two days from the last few batches to be airlifted, money that had apparently been looted from this devastated town. The stolen jewellery and money, some of it in muddied and wet bundles of cash, amounts to Rs 1.25 crore and will be dispatched soon to the district magistrate by the NDRF and ITBP.

Officials said many of those trying to make away with the loot were religious men or “babas”, and were only caught because of some alert troopers. Given the offerings made at temples in the holy town, cash to the tune of crores changes hands on a regular basis. The single bank that serviced the town has been washed away, as is the case with the cash registers and strong boxes in most shops and establishments. While the presence of personnel at the main temple has kept it relatively safer, donation boxes and treasure chests at other temples have been forced open.

“What got us suspicious was that some babas lined up for evacuation had with them stacks of fresh, unused notes. A quick search revealed that the notes were all numbered and probably belonged to a bank,” a rescue personnel said. “One of the babas had Rs 62,000 in cash hidden in a dholak (drum). Another had a packet of prasad that revealed Rs 10,000 in sequenced notes. One had sewn Rs 1.2 lakh into his clothes,” another rescuer said. People are let off if the money appears to be their own – Being of different denominations, and appearing well used.

A veteran official almost broke down while talking about one religious man who had an unusually large number of rings and bangles on his hands. A search revealed more such ornaments on his person. “He confessed that he had robbed pilgrims, even cutting off the fingers of a few.”


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Gadchiroli killings: Cops nab ‘Naxal’ but fail to explain motive (Jun 21, 2013, Indian Express)

The Gadchiroli police on Thursday announced the arrest of an alleged Naxal, Shivaji, and claimed that he was involved in the Naxal operation that led to the killing of Lloyd Steel vice-president (mining) Jaspal Singh Dhillion, Hemlata Minerals owner Mallikarjun Reddy and policeman Raju Sadmek in Gadchiroli. But the police failed to explain why the Naxals killed them.

Apparently the police had picked up “a suspiciously loitering” Shivaji five days ago from close to the spot where the killing took place in Lendar village. They announced the arrest on Thursday after the Naxals sent out a messenger to some journalists in Etapalli town to inform them about Shivaji’s detention and the likelihood of him being eliminated in a false encounter.

After the whole story of Shivaji’s detention became public, the police released a vague press note late on Thursday night which said he was arrested “in connection with a crime in Etapalli”. The Naxalites had reportedly told the journalists that Shivaji belonged to Rengawahi Burgi in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh.

However, DIG (Gadchiroli range) Ravindra Kadam said the police detained him to first get the entire story from him. “He doesn’t know anything about what transpired between Naxals leaders Aitu and Narmada and the three victims since Shivaji was on a recce outside. He told us that the three had come to meet the Naxals to request them to allow iron ore mining project. The Naxals were opposed to it,” Kadam said. On why the Naxals had to kill the three persons, Kadam said, “We can’t say anything about it at this moment. We are investigating.”


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For madrasa students, road to DU rife with roadblocks (Jun 24, 2013, Indian Express)

Since the time 19-year-old Syed Rahman was in school, he wanted to be a doctor. Hailing from Bhagalpur district in Bihar, Rahman received his education at a madrasa in Azamgarh. Only recently did he discover that getting an MBBS degree was no easy task. “I wanted to study medicine, but when I started looking at colleges I realised that I was not eligible, since I had not studied science in Class XII,” Rahman said. Rahman is among the numerous madrasa students who come to Delhi University every year to get admission in one of the undergraduate courses. And most of them end up compromising on their choice of subject since they do not meet the minimum eligibility criteria prescribed by the university.

“By the time my results were out, admissions in DU were almost over. I managed to get a seat in Urdu (H) at Satyawati College. Otherwise, I would have had to defer my studies by a year,” Rahman said. Last year, DU had directed its colleges to admit students from madrasas after the institutions were recognised by state boards. The recognition came with a rider – students in madrasas would have to be taught all the necessary subjects in which they wanted a graduate degree.

“The university directive was based on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee and universities had received a circular from the MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) on this. While the recommendations have been implemented, the problem faced by these students have not been solved,” principal of Zakir Husain College Aslam Parvaiz said. “Moreover, most madrasas do not have teachers or lab facilities to teach science subjects,” he said.

Talking about the problems faced by madrasas students, Parvaiz said, “Many students from madrasas contact the college for admissions. Unfortunately, they either do not have the required marks or have not studied the subjects.” Admission problems faced by madrasa students is not limited to medical sciences. According to Hamid Raza, a DU aspirant and also a madrasa student, subjects like economics and commerce are also out of reach for them.

“We study a range of subjects such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Unani medicine, history – tarik-i-Hind (history of India) and tarik-i-Islam (history of Islam). We know how to read the stars and predict the weather. But, we are not taught sciences the way other Boards teach. Getting admission in DU for commerce is not possible,” Raza said.


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Hate speech: Court directs MNS chief Raj Thackeray to appear before it (Jun 24, 2013, IBN)

A Delhi court has asked Maharahstra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray to appear before it on July 26 in connection with a complaint about his alleged hate speeches against Bihar natives, rejecting his plea for exemption from personal appearance. The court rejected Thackeray’s plea for exemption on the ground cited by him that since he has been given Y-category security, he is unable to appear before it.

“This is no ground for exemption. The person has already been provided security and thus he is supposed to appear before the court. Otherwise also, a bailable warrant has been issued against him on January 3, 2009. Exemption plea is dismissed,” Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Devendra Kumar Sharma said.

He also directed MNS spokesperson Shirish Parkar, who has also been named as an accused in the complaint, to appear before it. The court passed the order on a complaint filed by advocate Premchandra Jaiswal, who is a member of Bihar State Bar Council, Patna, against the MNS chief’s alleged hate speeches against natives of Bihar and “demeaning” their religious festival of Chhath and also his party workers criminally initmidating them.

The complaint case was initially filed before a court in Patna in 2008 and summoning orders and non-bailable warrants were also issued against the accused persons. The case was transferred to Delhi in 2010 by the Supreme Court along with similar other complaints filed against Thackeray for allegedly making hate speeches on the plea of MNS chief.

The ACMM had earlier issued notices to both the accused for June 22 but they sought exemption from personal appearance. While allowing Parkar’s plea for exemption on medical grounds, the court rejected Thackeray’s plea for exemption on the ground mentioned by him that he is unable to attend the court as he has been provided Y-category security.


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Opinions and Editorials

The Humble Manoeuvre: Will BJP unite behind a modified Modi? – By Prarthna Gahilote (Jul 1, 2013, Outlook)

‘Being disrespectful’ was a serious charge. So Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi addressed it by paying respects. Not to one, but to all three of the oldest leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He called on the trinity of Murli Manohar Joshi, Lal Krishna Advani and Atal Behari Vajpayee, in ascending order, who blessed the rising son from the west. Just two days earlier, on June 17, Modi’s bete noire in the National Democratic Alliance had declared the alliance broken. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar echoed the Congress line of “disrespecting its elders”, and had cited it as one of the reasons for the divorce, considered a sin in the Hindu undivided family. So even as Modi, on June 19, was busy brokering peace with the old guard in the national capital, violent clashes between the workers of the BJP and JD(U) in Bihar sealed the bitter and acrimonious end of their 17-year-old alliance.

Modi in monsoon-deluged Delhi was willing to “take everyone along in decision-making”. Striking a conciliatory note, he was reminding leaders that the Congress had to be taken on “together” in 2014. Sources in both the Advani and Joshi camp confirmed that the “meetings had been on a positive note”, the brinkmanship had been buried and brotherhood was being evoked. Modi in Delhi clearly wanted to be seen as moderate and accommodating, far removed from the image of a power-hungry satrap. If the message is the medium of politics, Modi packaged and delivered it effectively with his tactful gesture. A surer signal was sent on the back of floating rumours of his visit to Ayodhya on June 25 and then the delayed denial by his office. Modi modified had arrived. Bihar, however, is too far from Delhi. Modi’s bait of equality and solidarity within the party remained unbitten in Patna. Nitish emerged victorious in the Bihar assembly with 126 of the 243 votes in the no-trust motion against his government. “Wave, what wave?” he thundered. “There is no wave for any particular leader in India,” he said, decimating in one stroke both the BJP claim over Modi or any incipient Congress talk over Rahul Gandhi. The BJP may have staged a walkout from the vote, but Nitish and his government are staying.

If you expected any word from NaMo on any of this, there wasn’t even a tweet. Not as he won over the BJP old guard, not when Bihar was lost. As second- and third-rung leaders bared their lungs calling Nitish names, Modi held his silence. The ‘Hindu rashtra’ is yet to hear Modi’s views on the first casualty of the act of his elevation as chief of the campaign committee. The petty job of circulating Nitish’s video praising Modi a decade back in 2003 was left to the BJP’s media cell. A week is a long time in politics, and considering the JD(U) took exactly that much time in breaking ties with the BJP after Modi’s elevation in Goa, worthies found some ammunition in a 10-year-old video to humiliate Nitish and ease the depression. Not one to cow down before a challenge, Modi perhaps is choosing his time. He has kept his silence for the moment, insiders confirm, “to strike when it will hurt the most”. Perhaps he is taking a change-of-season break to erupt from Uttar Pradesh, hoping the anti-Modi feeling ebbs by then. On the agenda of the newly elected campaign committee chief, therefore, are 75 rallies across poll-bound states in the next three months. The first of these will kick off on June 23 in Pathankot but former Modi aide and loyalist and now national general secretary Amit Shah has bagged a rally in Lucknow in the yet-to-be-finalised itinerary. It is in this state that the BJP is hoping for its biggest strike, polarising the political landscape. If UP, with its decisive upper-caste votes cast in BJP’s favour, the calculation is that a Modi wave could well graduate from being a hypothesis to a reality.

Many in the party, though, see things a shade lighter. “It is an uphill task,” says a senior party leader. “I’m ready to believe the Modi wave theory, but where are the seats adding up from?” Nitish was right of course when he said, “It needs 272 seats to become the prime minister. In this era of coalitions, there is no point living in illusion. Even when we were in the NDA, there was no hope of getting 200 seats. Now we’re not there.” BJP leaders in Delhi seem to agree with him. Behind closed doors, furious calculations are being worked out. While Rajasthan may hold some hope, where the BJP under Vasundhararaje is sure of bettering its tally of five out of 25 Lok Sabha seats, Delhi, with seven seats dominated by the Congress, does little to help. In Andhra Pradesh, there is still a cloud over Chandrababu Naidu’s readiness to abandon the state’s 18 per cent Muslim and 12 per cent Christian population. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee shows no sign of risking her 28-30 per cent Muslim vote for an alliance that may not be able to cobble up 200. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, every bit a regional leader assured of his own clout, sources confirm, is “not ready to allow Modi into MP”. Those close to the chief minister confess, “The MP CM fears Modi damaging his prospects in order to remain the tallest regional leader himself.” Neighbouring Chhattisgarh has had a tilt of the apple cart. Raman Singh, a hugely popular leader himself, is up against the aggregate anti-incumbency vote for his MLAs. Making his position even more precarious is the sympathy post the decimation of the state Congress leadership in the May 25 Maoist attack. With Himachal and Karnataka lost, Punjab under the Akalis remains the only state to tag behind the saffron party. As a senior BJP leader sums up, “Forget the allies. The immediate concern is to get our own party enough seats in 2014.”

Meanwhile, Mohan Bhagwat, leader of the now-out-of-the-closet overriding authority in the saffron parivar, camped in Delhi for two days, was holding meetings with BJP leaders like Venkaiah Naidu, former party president Nitin Gadkari and BJP’s eldest dissident L.K. Advani. In an hour-long meeting held in rrs headquarters at Keshav Kunj in Delhi, Bhagwat, sources confirm, spoke to Advani in detail about the “inner functioning of the BJP”. Sources also say the two leaders stayed away from discus-sing RSS functionary Suresh Soni’s ouster and Modi’s elevation. Instead, a detailed discussion was held on “the strategy for the party in 2014 and the upcoming state elections”. “Bhagwatji and Advaniji,” a senior RSS leader confirmed toOutlook, “also spoke at length about the need to coordinate and bring together nationalistic forces in the country and what the BJP’s role should be given the current circumstances in the nation.” In a deviation from norm, the Sangh was quick to issue a press release regarding the Bhagwat-Advani meet, calling it a “detailed and candid interaction”. It was also said that “Bhagwatji suggested that such useful exchange of views should continue in the future as well”. While parivar harmony seems to be all the flavour, post its split with the JD(U), the saffron family is still doing some serious math to conjure up its Hindu rashtra.


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Ishrat Encounter: Can’t get away with murder – By Manoj Joshi (Jun 18, 2013, The Hindu)

The Ishrat Jahan encounter case is like the proverbial can of worms whose contents have already spilled out. Not only has it shone the spotlight on the ruthless and, possibly, illegal manner in which the police and intelligence agencies fight terrorism, it has also exposed the Narendra Modi government’s poor record of managing the Gujarat police. And now, it has created schisms within the State police force, and between the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). At the outset, some plain facts: first, fake “encounter killings” – the term used for extrajudicial execution of criminals and alleged terrorists by the police – are not unique to Gujarat. Hundreds of them take place across the country and the policemen involved are often feted as “encounter specialists” whereas, in fact, what they specialise in is the cold-blooded and completely illegal executions of unarmed persons. Second, there is no exemption for anyone in India’s security set-up to carry out extra-judicial executions. In other words, there is no Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which indemnifies the State police, politicians or Central intelligence officials from killing alleged terrorists without judicial due process.

Writing on his website earlier this month, the BJP leader, Arun Jaitley, reiterated the Gujarat police account that the Ishrat group was out to assassinate Mr. Modi and, based on information provided by the IB, it was intercepted and its four members killed in the encounter; after backing the State police version, the Union government changed tack and was now trying to use the case to attack the BJP. A few “disgruntled police officials” formed the core of the CBI’s case and an effort was being made to target BJP ministers like Amit Shah and Gulab Chand Kataria of Rajasthan with the eventual aim of hitting at Mr. Modi. Now, the Union government had taken it a step further by undermining the IB in its pernicious campaign to harm Mr. Modi and the BJP. Mr. Jaitley, also the former Union Law Minister during National Democratic Alliance rule, has not said much about the other extra-judicial killings in Gujarat. A Supreme Court mandated Special Task Force headed by a retired Justice H.S. Bedi is investigating 16 encounters that took place between 2003-2006 in Gujarat. In most of the encounters, those killed were alleged to be targeting Mr. Modi and other top BJP ministers in the State. This was the accusation against Sameer Khan Pathan, Sadiq Jamal, Mahendra Jadav, Ganesh Khunte, Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Tulsi Prajapati, Ishrat Jahan, Javed Sheikh (aka Pranesh Pillai), Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana. It is another story that most were petty criminals and there is no real evidence that they were out to kill Mr. Modi.

As for Ishrat and her companions, there is considerable mystery about their antecedents and how they came together. As Mr. Jaitley points out, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) journal, Ghazwa Times, acknowledged her as a cadre, and later withdrew its claim. News leaks claim that the LeT operative, David Coleman Headley (Daood Gilani), had told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that Ishrat had been recruited by the LeT and that this fact had been communicated to the Indian intelligence, or the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). But there is no reference to Ishrat in the NIA’s report of Headley which was made available to the media and which did have some references to other LeT plots that Headley was aware of. There is something to the issue though since G.K. Pillai, the Union Home Secretary in 2009, acknowledged an affidavit of his ministry to the Gujarat High Court that said there was intelligence information that Ishrat and her companions were terror suspects. More recently, in 2011, Mr. Pillai had reiterated that he stood by the IB tip that linked Ishrat Jahan to an LeT module. But whether or not Ishrat and her group were terrorists is not the issue. What the Gujarat police officials are being charged with is extra-judicial killing. There are no exemptions in the law for carrying out fake encounters even if the targets are terrorists. The IB is not exempt from the operation of the law of the land either. Mr. Jaitley, of all people, should know that only the judiciary has the right to order an execution, and, after due process.

The ugly truth is that the Gujarat government cynically used the instrument of extra-judicial executions to burnish their own anti-Muslim credentials. In the process, their police officials and, possibly, their ministers, have broken the law. The behaviour of Gujarat police officers such as D.G. Vanzara among others was perhaps most brazen because of the protection they felt that they had from the then Home minister Amit Shah, and, possibly, Mr. Modi. Murder is a very grave charge, and it is far more serious when those accused of it are officials or ministers of the government sworn to uphold the law of the land. Whether or not the police officials who have given the CBI evidence of the wrongdoings of the Gujarat police officers are disgruntled doesn’t really matter. What matters is the truth, and the legal consequences thereafter. Then there is the issue of the IB. Whether or not Rajendra Kumar, the IB Joint Director in Gujarat, crossed a legal threshold can only be determined through further investigation, and may eventually have to be dealt with by the courts. But there has been something deeply disturbing about the manner in which India’s internal intelligence agency has worked on some terrorism cases in the past. There are several incidents – the Ansal Plaza “encounter” of 2002, or the 2006 attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters, to name just two – which appear to have been staged for domestic political effect, rather than any other purpose. Incidentally, one of the incidents was during the rule of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the other, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

There are no independent means of verifying whether the IB stays within the red lines of the law when it gathers intelligence information or processes and forwards it to State police forces because there is no oversight mechanism to ensure that. Alone among the democracies, India keeps its intelligence agencies away from parliamentary oversight and, indeed, there is little or no internal oversight either. Likewise, short of recourse to the courts, there are no means available to the citizen to take up the issue of police excesses. The result is the persistence of a culture of impunity among the police and intelligence authorities. Hopefully, on the issue of the Gujarat extra-judicial killings, the courts will weigh the evidence that the SIT and CBI have gathered. Those accused will have the opportunity to respond, and the courts will weigh the evidence and pronounce their verdict. But given the gravity of the charges, there must be some greater takeaway for our security set-up. First, there is the need for a mechanism to ensure that charges of police excesses are quickly investigated and dealt with. Second, terrorism or no terrorism, the intelligence agencies of the country need to function within the law, and this is not something that can be done on the basis of self-certification, but a fact established through an independent, internal inspectorate, as well as a larger parliamentary oversight system.


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In defense of Indians wrongly accused of terrorism – By Waleed Hussain (Jun 16, 2013, Mid-Day)

Sometimes, empathy, even justice, comes from unexpected quarters. Nestled in the narrow lanes of Imamwada is the operating office of the Jamiat e Ulema Maharashtra, which certainly qualifies as one such place of respite for the wrongly-accused Muslim youth in the country. The 500 sq ft office can easily be mistaken for a religious school. But appearances can be deceptive. Amid the many mounds of petitions and chargesheets is the Jamiat’s legal cell that is currently defending more than 200 accused in over 33 terror trials across the country. Jamiat e Ulema Maharashtra is an organisation that commenced to offer legal aid to Muslim youth whom the organisation believes to be innocent yet wrongly framed by the police in 2007. The General Secretary of the Jamiat e Ulema Maharashtra’s legal cell, Gulzar Azmi, tells us that their organisation does not defend criminals. Despite the gravity of the charges levied against the accused whom the Jamiat defends in the court of law, Azmi clarifies that these are innocent Muslims who have been framed by the police.

The police, he says, often picks up Muslim youth and books them under draconian laws such as TADA, POTA, MCOCA and UAPA. Thanks to these very laws, the police manages to keep the youth in custody for long durations without any material evidence. Azmi adds they are often tortured, coerced and made to confess crimes they did not commit. The 80-year-old tells us that there is a process to selecting such trials. “Our legal team checks the facts of the case before accepting the brief. Only when we are satisfied that the accused is innocent do we offer to provide legal aid,” says Azmi. “The law of the land says that each accused person is considered innocent until proven guilty, but in the case of Muslims they are considered guilty until proven innocent,” Azmi adds. Azmi’s colleague, Advocate Shahid Nadeem Ansari has also been associated with the Jamiat e Ulema Maharashtra for the last four years and regularly attends the trials in MCOCA courts since 2012. “Legal aid is the right of every accused, and it is also in the fairness of justice. Every person, no matter what crime he/she is accused of, has the right to be defended in a court of law. The Jamiat offers legal aid only to those accused who are innocent and not criminals,” says Ansari.

“The police investigates the case and makes arrests. However, it is the court that decides whether or not the accused is guilty of the crime based on the evidence that is produced. As per the law, an accused deserves a fair trial and the legal cell of the Jamiat assists in that process,” adds Ansari. Advocate Ansar Tamboli, who has been working with the Jamiat since the last two years, says that the law of the land is very clear about legal aid. “If an accused cannot afford to hire an advocate to defend himself, the court offers the person with legal aid and a lawyer is appointed to represent the accused during the trial. So what is wrong if the Jamiat is offering legal aid to the accused,” asks Tamboli. “The legal panel of the Jamiat cross checks the facts of the matter before accepting the case and appointing a lawyer for the accused. We have appointed lawyers for 20 accused in the Aurangabad Arms haul case but we refused to defend Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, as we were not satisfied with his background,” he adds.

Azmi is vocal about the injustice meted out to Muslim youth in recent times. He discusses the 2006 Malegaon blasts, to begin with. “The blasts that killed several innocent Muslims in Malegaon in 2006 were investigated by the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS). Nine Muslims were arrested and charged for having committed the heinous crime. We defended these youth in the Sessions court and appealed to the higher court for a reinvestigation of the case. The case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) but it did not offer any new inputs. Finally, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigated the case and arrested right-wing radicals for having planted the bombs and spreading terror in Malegaon. The nine men arrested by the ATS are innocent and have been framed.” Another case in point, believes Azmi, is the Mumbai serial train blasts case. The ATS arrested and charged 13 accused for the crime. However, during the course of the trial, the Crime Branch arrested a member of the Indian Mujahideen who confessed to having conducted bomb blasts across the country since 2005. The accused also confessed to having executed the Mumbai train blasts. “How is it that two different sets of people are staking claim to the same terror blasts? This means only one thing that the investigating authorities have not discharged their duty properly,” says Azmi.

The president of the Jamiat e Ulema-Hind, Maulana Arshad Madni met the Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav seeking the release of several youth languishing in jail for years without trial. The UP government decided to withdraw the cases, however the Allahabad High Court has raised objections to the move. Advocate Nithya Ramakrishnan will represent the Jamiat in the High Court when the matter comes on board. “Take the recent case of the Muslim youth arrested from parts of Bangalore, Hubli and Hyderabad last year. The Bangalore police claimed that these youngsters were planning a terror attack. However, when the case was transferred to the NIA, the boys were let off as there was no material evidence against them. One of the arrested youth was a journalist, while another was a scientist. Their careers have been destroyed.” When the youth were arrested, the Jamiat sent a fact-finding team to Bangalore. The team discovered that no lawyer was willing to come forward and defend these accused. The legal fraternity had already brandished them as terrorists and refused to defend them in a court of law. However, the Jamiat did not give up hope, and a team of lawyers agreed to defend the accused. Months later the NIA discharged the youth for lack of evidence. …


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Bludgeoned By Water – By Anubha Bhonsle (Jul 1, 2013, Outlook)

It’s 5 a.m. The Jolly Grant airport looks like a missing persons bureau. From the early hours, when security personnel were changing duty rounds, young and old men have been arriving at the airport. In their hands, they hold pictures. Some are carrying passport-size photographs of loved ones missing in the floods. Others are holding up group photos of relatives or friends on vacation. Many of those stranded in the hills are pilgrim groups from across the country, groups of 20, 30, and in some cases even up to 70 people—family members, friends, people from a neighbourhood, who had got together to make the char dham yatra or pilgrimage to the four holy spots, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Many of the pilgrims are elderly. This is not an Uttarakhand tragedy; it is a nationwide tragedy. For there are pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, everywhere.

A young man has come with his uncle from Akola in Maharashtra. His father and mother had saved up for the char dham yatra. They were barely metres away from Kedarnath when tragedy struck. Gangadhar Pandey, who managed to survive with his entire family, spoke of cars being washed away in a gush of water. He has been lucky. Some folks have heard by SMS from their relatives stranded in the hill towns and pilgrim centres. Those at home are relieved that they will be back soon.

Not many people want to talk about the dead, about what happens to the dead bodies, of how to account for people whose bodies have been washed away. The official toll, at the time of going to print, stood in the low hundreds, but is likely to touch many hundreds, and some are talking in terms of thousands. Rescue is focused on evacuation and quick transport of those requiring medical help to hospitals. Many survivors have painful memories, of horrors unimaginable at pilgrimage sites. Survivors say the Kedarnath temple has suffered heavy damage, and its gateway is full of debris. They speak of houses and hotels in the vicinity submerged by slush and mudslides.

Since lots of roads have been washed away, rescue workers are trying to create temporary roads, bridges, and even small pathways to bring stranded people down. A hundred army jawans and officers have slithered down to Gaurikund with basic needs, food, medicines etc. They will spend the next few days with those stranded there, keeping their morale up. The return home hasn’t been immediate for many. But those who managed to get a sortie back to towns like Dehradun consider it a miracle that they have survived. Full recovery is going to be a long haul. The char dham yatra is likely to remain suspended for a year. Even evacuation is likely to take a few more days. But evacuation of those in need of medical care will be completed immediately.

It’s a herculean task for the armed forces. Their choppers have flown sorties every minute of good weather; on the ground, personnel have worked round the clock, reaching cut-off areas, clearing slush. Air Commodore Issar, who is in charge at Jolly Grant airport, says his choppers have done 50-60 sorties on good days, shuttling about five persons each time. For the Hindu faithful, the char dham yatra has regained its true sense of awe. Ditto for the Sikh pilgrims to Hemkund Sahib. But it will also mean a return to faith with even greater strength, for having faced nature’s fury at its worst and survived miraculously.


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State-Sanctioned Violation – By Suhas Chakma (Jun 1, 2013, Tehelka)

Four undertrials die in police custody every day in India – a disturbing number for one of the oldest judicial systems in the world. Between 2001 and 2010 the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) registered 14,231 custodial deaths. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, as custodial torture not leading to death seldom makes news. Nonetheless, once the police dismiss the death as a suicide, result of sudden medical complication or self-inflicted injuries, justice eludes the deceased’s relatives as the entire system works to shield the torturers. India’s law enforcement agencies have perfected the use of torture to extract confessions. By legislating laws like the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act that made confessions made to police officers admissible as evidence, India has gone a step further in providing State sanction to make torture an integral part of its judicial process.

India has no explanation for rampant use of torture by investigating agencies and for the absence of an anti-torture law. After being censured by the UN Human Rights Commission in May 2008 for human rights violations – including torture and enforced disappearances – India promised to enact a law against torture and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). The government subsequently drafted the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2008. Though the Lok Sabha passed the Bill without any debate, it had to be referred to a Parliamentary Select Committee following objections in the Rajya Sabha. The committee submitted a revised version of the Bill in December 2010 but this Bill has effectively been shelved. India had nothing to report when it appeared for the UN scrutiny again in May 2012.

Even the Supreme Court, despite making the right noises, has failed to stamp out torture. Although it issued a set of guidelines in 1996 for the police to follow in all cases of arrest or detention as a measure to prevent custodial violence, these guidelines have had no deterrent effect on investigating agencies. But the SC has so far, however, shied away from ruling that torture does not form part of official duty, thereby insulating investigating personnel from legal scrutiny. Under existing laws, law enforcement personnel cannot be prosecuted without prior sanction from the government. In fact, contradictory judgments by the SC on the requirement of prior sanction for prosecuting erring officials have also not helped the fight against torture. The NHRC too has equally failed in controlling custodial deaths, not to mention torture. It rarely recommends prosecution of the guilty and limits its recommendations to compensating the victim. In the past 20 years, the NHRC has not intervened in a single torture case being tried in the courts. Although, since 1993, it has made it mandatory to submit video records of the post-mortem examination in case of a custodial death, to date it has not established a medical advisory board to examine these videos!

Internationally, India’s track record remains extremely poor. Of the 193 member states of the UN, 153 nations have ratified the UNCAT. India remains among the handful of countries that haven’t. In June 2011, the Danish High Court rejected the extradition of Kim Davy, the prime accused in the 1995 Purulia arms drop case – in which a large consignment of arms and ammunition were dropped from an aircraft in Purulia district of West Bengal – on the ground that he would risk “torture or other inhuman treatment” as India has not ratified the UNCAT. The two countries are yet to find a way to resolve Davy’s extradition.

India has so far maintained its silence both on tabling the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010, as drafted by the Parliamentary Select Committee and the ratification of the UNCAT. But silence is not an option for India before the courts in Europe. A number of extradition requests by India relating to terror suspects are currently pending before courts in UK and possibility of torture in Indian prisons figures as the key issue against extradition. It is difficult to see how extradition can be allowed when India’s own NHRC registers four deaths in custody every day, and the government by its omission permits the use of torture for administering justice.


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Dubious distinction – By Purnima S. Tripathi (Jun 14, 2013, Frontline)

The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women in its report titled “Victims of sexual abuse and trafficking and their rehabilitation”, submitted on May 8, has said that if the Central government does not take immediate steps the number of victims of sexual abuse will increase at a rate that is higher than the rate of population growth in the country by the end of 2013. The 30-member committee, headed by Congress MP, Rajkumari Ratna Singh, noted that incidents of crime against women reported in the country had increased consistently from 2007 to 2011: 1,85,312 cases in 2007, 1,95,856 cases in 2008, 2,03,804 cases in 2009, 2,13,585 cases in 2010 and 2,28,650 cases in 2011.

The report stated that despite such a spurt in crimes against women – rape, molestation, dowry death, sexual harassment, mental and physical torture, kidnapping and trafficking – the Centre did not appear to have a concrete plan to persuade States to prevent such crimes, its excuse being that police and public order are State subjects. The committee suggested that the Centre set up a coordination committee/monitoring mechanism where crime prevention techniques and other related aspects could be discussed regularly with State governments. On the basis of these discussions, proactive measures such as providing financial assistance for modernisation of police forces for weapons, communication equipment, training and so on can be initiated within a time frame in States where improvements are significant, and remedial measures can be taken in States that are slow in improving.

Data from 53 mega cities – with a population of 10 lakh or more – show a total of 33,789 cases of crimes against women were reported from these cities in 2011 against 24,335 in 2010. Delhi, with 13.3 per cent of all such cases, topped the list followed by Bangalore, Hyderabad and Vijayawada. Delhi accounted for 17.6 per cent of rape cases, 31.8 per cent of kidnappings, 14 per cent of dowry deaths, and 10.1 per cent of molestation cases. These megacities, the committee noted, had been transformed into safe havens for criminals. The committee also observed that data collection by the National Crime Records Bureau appeared to be faulty as its figures did not tally with those presented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It also lamented, among other things, the small number of forensic science laboratories in the country and the lack of enough fast-track courts to decide such cases expeditiously.


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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 17th, 2013

June 18, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Hindu tenant gets separate water line News Headlines Pandya widow ‘closer to truth’ NDA splits as JD-U leaves, BJP hits back at Nitish ‘Mahalkar part of Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts’ Ishrat Jahan case: CBI says it has evidence against IB officer Ex-DGP KR Kaushik now […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 31st, 2012

January 1, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines RSS member in NIA net for 2006 Malegaon blast Two ‘saffron terror’ hideouts identified in Indore; NIA in action Communal elements in the IB, Home Ministry and Police should be purged: Mushawarat One-third of Gujarat MLAs face criminal cases, including rape Ishrat encounter: HC pulls up […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 3rd, 2012

December 3, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Naroda Patia: SIT clean chit for cops Justice sought for innocents jailed in terror cases “Honest citizens punished, powerful traitors applauded as patriots” SC seeks CBI’s response to missing Malegaon blast case suspect Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioters, embolden them Prajapati […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 15th, 2012

October 16, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines ‘Gujarat 2002 an assault on secularism, democracy and republicanism’ Activists read ‘between the lines’, say UK pushing Modi for justice Add legal grounds to plea, HC tells Malegaon blast accused Cops mum on Dayanand Patil; hasn’t returned home, say kin Stop witch-hunt of educated Muslim youths: […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 8th, 2012

October 9, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Narendra Modi trained by RSS in ‘Nazi tradition': Digvijaya Singh Missing Patia convict caught, jailed for 31 years Gujarat govt blocked RTI info on Narendra Modi’s own foreign jaunts Sohrabuddin encounter: Amin’s bail plea rejected 1,528 victims of fake encounters in Manipur: PIL Cops to be […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 30th, 2012

July 30, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Sectarian violence in Uttar Pradesh and Assam should be dealt with through stern action says Indian American Muslim Council Communal Harmony Humanity overrides differences as Bodos, Muslims help each other News Headlines ‘Planned ethnic cleansing of Muslims’ going on in Assam: Mumbai Muslim leaders Road becomes a […]

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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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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 21st, 2011

November 21, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Measure in place to observe communal harmony week News Headlines Hindu radicals disguised as Muslims planted Malegaon bombs? Justice is yet to be fully delivered in the post-Godhra riots Gujarat riots: SIT concealing evidences to protect politicians, say victims There’s threat to life, but it’s not […]

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