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Pluralism

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 24th, 2017

by newsdigest on August 4, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Soul of India resides in pluralism, need to eschew violence: President (Jul 24, 2017, The Tribune)

Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday that soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance and the country must free its public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. In his farewell address broadcast to the nation, he said creation of an inclusive society has to an article of faith. He called for resurrecting the power of non-violence.…

He said multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. “We derive our strength from tolerance. It has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries. There are divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue, we may agree or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Otherwise, a fundamental character of our thought process will wither away,” he said.…

“At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure the participation of all sections of the people, especially the marginalised and the dispossessed in the democratic process. “Power of non-violence has to be resurrected to build a compassionate and caring society,” he said. Mukherjee said Mahatma Gandhi saw India as an inclusive nation where every section lived in equality and moved forward unitedly in ever-widening thought and action.…

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/soul-of-india-resides-in-pluralism-need-to-eschew-violence-president/441483.html

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Chhattisgarh minister’s wife buys state forest land to build a resort, his dept says we can do nothing (Jul 25, 2017, Indian Express)

Raising questions of propriety and conflict of interest, Sarita Agrawal, wife of Chhattisgarh Minister and BJP leader Brijmohan Agrawal, acquired 4.12 hectares of forest land which was owned by the government and is now, along with her son, building a resort on it.

The purchase, in September 2009, was red-flagged by several officials of the Raman Singh government, as recently as June 30 this year, but her husband’s Ministry put down in writing that “it’s not possible to take any action in the matter,” an investigation by The Indian Express has revealed.…

The resort, called Shyam Vatika, is being developed near Sirpur in the Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh…. Not just the wife, his son, too, is involved with the project. Two companies, Aditya Srijan Private Limited and Purbasa Vanijya Private Limited, have acquired land for the same project. Registrar of Companies records show that the former company has both Sarita Agrawal and her son Abhishek Agrawal as directors while Purbasa Vanijya has Abhishek Agrawal as one of its directors.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/chhattisgarh-ministers-wife-buys-state-forest-land-to-build-a-resort-his-dept-says-we-can-do-nothing-4765761/

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‘Modi’s election, like Trump’s, has unleashed violence against minorities’ (Jul 22, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Drawing parallels between US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Martin Luther King III, the son of American civil rights movement icon Martin Luther King Jr, said here on Friday that both have limited regard for the poor and for law and order.

King III, a human rights advocate and community activist was speaking at the inauguration of the three-day conference “Quest for equity – Reclaiming social justice, revisiting Ambedkar”, in which around 300 scholars, activists and policymakers will discuss the ideas of Dr BR Ambedkar.

“Like Donald Trump’s campaign, the election of Narendra Modi has unleashed a ferocious animosity against minorities,” King said drawing unflattering parallel between the two leaders. The government has consistently denied that there is any intolerance in the country. “We must find a way to bring together the best minds in the world to find solutions,” he stressed.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/modi-s-election-like-trump-s-has-unleashed-violence-against-minorities/story-fyq4HW0RCSJpLPoqnP4sIK.html

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Lynch mobs seem to know nothing will happen to them, they’re implicitly meeting approval from higher-ups: UCLA scholar (Jul 18, 2017, Indian Express)

…These lynchings are a form of communal violence that is different from what we have seen before. Firstly, they are apparently decentralised. Earlier, organised acts of mass violence were repetitive in character and there was a pattern, e.g. processions were attacked or the violence was timed with public festivals.…

But what we are seeing now is not at a single place, there are fewer numbers attacked and it is decentralised, done by little groups all over the place. These groups are either being told, or imagine that they have been told to act in this way. Further, after the event, no one in authority is clearly telling them the contrary. There is also an aspirational quality to the violence. It is low-level… if journalists don’t choose to report it, it may not even register if one isn’t vigilant.

But the curious thing is that the perpetrators want it to be known. After all, some of the people doing this are even videotaping it. They make sure the information is circulating, intended as a warning, as a signal and controlling device for the social behaviour expected of minorities. It is a form of violence which can pop up here one day and there on another. It is never mass killings, but based on the existence of grassroots kind of organisations which believe in doing this, and also to an extent on copycat behaviour. So even if it is decentralised, there is a larger context.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lynch-mobs-seem-to-know-nothing-will-happen-to-them-sanjay-subrahmanyamucla-scholar-4755228/

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Adani Group ‘SLAPP’ Pushes EPW Editor Out of His Job (Jul 18, 2017, The Wire)

Economic & Political Weekly (EPW) editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta became the first top-level editorial casualty of corporate India’s increasing tendency to file multi-crore defamation cases as a means of countering critical reporting, resigning after the directors of the trust which runs the storied journal ordered him to take down an article on the Adani group.

Last month, Adani Power Ltd. sent a letter via its lawyers to EPW, the article’s four authors (which included Thakurta) and Sameeksha Trust, which owns and runs the journal. The lawyer’s letter demanded that immediate steps be taken to “remove/delete and unconditionally retract” an article ‘Modi Government’s Rs 500-Crore Bonanza to the Adani Group'(June 24, 2017) that they said was defamatory and harmful to the reputation of their client. The letter also objected to the publication of an earlier article,’Did the Adani Group Evade Rs 1,000 Crore in Taxes?’ (January 14, 2017), but did not specifically ask for it to be removed.

The letter said that unless this was done, “our clients shall be constrained to take such action as they may be advised”. On Tuesday, the Sameeksha Trust board, which met in Delhi, ordered the editorial department to take the article down (alongside which Thakurta had also posted a copy of the Adani letter and a legal response by EPW). Thakurta resigned soon after the meeting.…

https://thewire.in/159090/adani-group-slapps-epw-editor-job/

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Maharashtra Collector Confirms EVM Malfunctioning In RTI Reply, Votes Went To Lotus Symbol (Jul 22, 2017, Outlook)

Contrary to the claim by the Election Commission of India (ECI), an RTI response from Maharashtra’s Buldhana district collectorate has confirmed malfunctioning of electronic voting machine (EVM), reported IANS.

According to the report, Buldhana collectorate’s election department has replied to an RTI query confirming that votes of an independent candidate had gone to BJP’s lotus symbol.

The “EVM fraud” happened during February 16 elections to Buldhana Zilla Parishad from Lonar, at a polling station in Sultanpur village of the district, said RTI activist Anil Galgali.…

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/maharashtra-collector-confirms-evm-tampering-in-rti-reply-votes-went-to-lotus-sy/299695

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SC questions reappointment of Gujarat cops involved in ‘fake encounters’ (Jul 21, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The reappointment by the Gujarat government of two cops, allegedly involved in fake encounter cases, has come under the Supreme Court scanner.

A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar on Friday issued notice to the state on a petition filed by retired IPS officer, Rahul Sharma, who claimed the appointments are in violation of the law laid down by the apex court in the police reforms case. Sharma’s plea was not entertained by Gujarat high court following which he moved the SC.

The two cops are NK Amin and Tarun Barot. Amin was accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case but was discharged. He is yet to get a clean chit for allegedly killing Ishrat Jehan in a staged encounter.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sc-questions-reappointment-of-gujarat-cops-involved-in-fake-encounters/story-QjdMRjQg8x6YE6eFLdWagM.html

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Modi’s false promises on crop MSP exposed, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh makes a u-turn in Lok Sabha (Jul 21, 2017, Twocircles.net)

On Wednesday, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh again misled the country by making a completely false statement by claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had never promised to offer a minimum support price to farmers but had instead promised to give a profit of 50% to farmers on the production cost.

All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has said that not only is this a completely false statement, but the agricultural minister also did not clarify how the farmers can gain a profit of 50% without having an MSP in place.

Defying Singh’s claim, social activist and founder of Swaraj Abhiyan Yogendra Yadav tweeted a video dated April 4, 2014. The video clearly shows that Modi had promised to fix the crops’ MSP at above 50% of the production cost.…

http://twocircles.net/2017jul21/413381.html

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Modi government policies are burning Kashmir: Congress VP Rahul Gandhi (Jul 22, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi reiterated his charge on Friday that the Modi government’s policies are “burning” Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that no third party intervention was required to resolve India’s internal matters.

“India is Kashmir and Kashmir is India,” Gandhi told reporters in the Parliament House Complex. “It is being said there should be discussion on Kashmir with China and Pakistan, but this is our internal matter… our internal business and no one should interfere in it,” he said.…

“I have been saying this for a long time that Modi’s and the NDA’s policies are burning Jammu and Kashmir,” the Congress vice president said.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/modi-government-policies-are-burning-kashmir-congress-vp-rahul-gandhi/story-sJk78n4Pfo2pcvhpUUJLVO.html

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Ambedkar meet: Resolution adopted against ‘regressive forces’ (Jul 24, 2017, Indian Express)

Regressive political and social forces which are in positions of power are undermining the foundations of Indian society and pose “a grave threat to the idea of India espoused by the freedom movement and spelt out in the Constitution”, said a resolution called the Bengaluru Declaration that was passed at the end of a three-day international conference on Dr B R Ambedkar.

Regressive forces with state power “are systematically dismantling the institutions that are the foundations of our society, by undermining India’s holistic welfare and affirmative action architecture and by destroying the pluralistic fabric of our nation”, read the declaration, put together by academics and participants at the conference organised by the Congress government in Karnataka. The conference ended on Sunday.

While assiduously avoiding direct references to BJP, RSS, PM Narendra Modi or recent incidents of violence over food habits, the Bengaluru Declaration has called for all governments in the country to uphold constitutional values and the rule of law. “The State must be unequivocal in its protection of fundamental rights and constitutional values. Irrespective of religious identities or institutional affiliations, the State needs to strictly reassert political and legal accountability for any violence. This is the only way to prevent lynchings and uphold the rule of law,” it said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/resolution-adopted-against-regressive-forces-4764029/

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Opinions and Editorials

India’s Turn Toward Intolerance – Editorial (Jul 17, 2017, New York Times)

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Since Mr. Modi took office, there has been an alarming rise in mob attacks against people accused of eating beef or abusing cows, an animal held sacred to Hindus. Most of those killed have been Muslims. Mr. Modi spoke out against the killings only last month, not long after his government banned the sale of cows for slaughter, a move suspended by India’s Supreme Court. The ban, enforcing cultural stigma, would have fallen hardest on Muslims and low-caste Hindus traditionally engaged in the meat and leather industry.…

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/opinion/indias-turn-toward-intolerance.html

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Muslims Still Consigned to Gujarat’s Slums 15 Years After 2002 Riots – By Rina Chandran (Jul 25, 2017, The Wire)

Shahjahan Bano was a young boy in February 2002, selling vegetables with his mother in a market in Ahmedabad in the western Indian state of Gujarat, when some of the worst communal riots in the country’s history broke out.

For days mobs rampaged the city, burning houses, looting shops, raping women and killing men, women and children. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the violence. Bano and his mother, who hid in the market the first night, were taken to a relief camp the next day where other Muslims huddled, awaiting news of their families and homes.…

“As a result, Muslims are confined to the filthiest corners, with no hope of upliftment. Development and progress are for everyone else in the state, but not for Muslims,” he said. The division is so marked that Juhapura, a teeming township in Ahmedabad of about 400,000 people, many who moved there after the 2002 riots, is referred to by local Hindus as “Little Pakistan”. Conditions there and in other Muslim settlements in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, are similar: residents lack proper roads, streetlights, adequate drinking water, sewage pipes, and access to public clinics and schools.…

https://thewire.in/161532/muslims-gujarat-riots/

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Why Dina Nath Batra wants Tagore, Urdu, Mughals removed from school books – By Shougat Dasgupta (Jul 24, 2017, Dailyo.in)

Ideological warriors like Dina Nath Batra should have no part to play, no influence to wield in the writing of Indian textbooks or on the content of the national syllabus. As a reporter, I met Batra in 2014 when Penguin India, to general bemusement, agreed to pulp extant copies of scholar Wendy Doniger’s award-winning book The Hindus: An Alternative History.

I went to the school he ran in southwest Delhi and he proved, for the record, to be a genial companion. He is a man of considerable experience and achievement. But he is, without question, a crank.

Our discussion, apart from Batra’s digressions into the existence of nudist colonies in Calfornia, mostly centred around the lack of cultural education imparted to Indian schoolchildren. But no one who is thinking critically would accept Batra’s version of Indian culture and history. His myriad objections to passages in books amount to one overall objective – a desire to eliminate complexity.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/dina-nath-batra-tagore-urdu-remove-school-textbooks-rss/story/1/18562.html

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Ram Nath Kovind’s election was fixed. It brings no honour to India – By Rajeev Dhavan (Jul 23, 2017, Dailyo.in)

No one can seriously claim that India has had a proper presidential election. Ram Nath Kovind’s election was fixed. That brings no honour to a nation that claims to be a democratic republic.

The election was a non-starter because the votes were pre-determined. If Meira Kumar provided a temporal moment which could provide the possibilities of a contested match, it was dashed into the ground by majority politics.…

As things stand, the president has interesting powers. The Constitution gives him the right to access all government information (Article 78), to remand matters (Article 78 (3) and 74 (1)) for reconsideration, especially after post-Emergency changes to the Constitution. He can block President’s Rule and ordinances. He has a role in the appointment of governors. He is not a mere symbol but can be the powerful conscience keeper for the nation. This is why his post is important and should go beyond appointing stooges bereft of dignity.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/ram-nath-kovind-president-presidential-elections-2017-modi-amit-shah/story/1/18536.html

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Trump and Modi’s silence on hate crimes provides shelter for criminals – By Rachana Kamtekar (Jul 17, 2017, TRT World)

…In May the Modi government proposed a nation-wide ban on cow slaughter in deference to extremist Hindu “cow protectors”, despite the fact that Muslims and Christians, and quite a few Hindus and Sikhs besides, might choose to eat beef. Since then India has seen seven lynchings of Muslims on the pretext of beef eating or cow slaughter. One of the bloodiest was the June 22 lynching of fifteen year-old Junaid Khan and his teenage friends as they were heading home on a suburban train from some Delhi Eid shopping.

“Beef-eater!”, “Anti-national!”, “Mullah!”, the twenty-odd assailants taunted the boys as they began slapping them around before stabbing them repeatedly and throwing Junaid onto the platform where he bled to death. India has seen a dozen lynchings of Muslims since the BJP came to power in 2014. Yet the BJP-led government has been silent about them. The Trump regime has also been reticent about condemning the rising tide of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US (260 since 2015).…

In India, criminalising what Muslims might ordinarily eat – and what they must, for fear of their lives, give up or at least deny eating – doesn’t just license criminals to attack Muslims.…

http://www.trtworld.com/opinion/trump-and-modis-silence-on-hate-crimes-provides-shelter-for-criminals-402668

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Cow Is Mother As Long As It Gives Milk – Editorial (Jul 19, 2017, Nav Hind Times)

…Most lynchings have taken place in the BJP-rules states. There has been a spurt in the number of cases of attacks by the pseudo cow vigilantes over the last two years and scores of cases have been reported in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.

The states did not take the Prime Minister’s first warning seriously. Let us hope that they would act strongly and arrest and prosecute the offenders as well as take steps to prevent lynching of people in the name of cow protection. The Prime Minister’s advice to the states to open dossiers to see how many of the self-proclaimed vigilantes were criminals should be followed.

BJP President Amit Shah recently alleged that there were more lynchings during the UPA regime. It cannot be anybody’s case that violence was not taking place during the Congress-led regime. Lynchings by mobs of criminals are quite a gory, but common phenomenon in India. There have been lynchings of eve teasers and boys in love with a girl whose family did not like him to see her. However, the difference between those lynchings and the lynchings taking place in the BJP-ruled states is that it is being done in the name of Hindu religion.…

http://www.navhindtimes.in/cow-is-mother-as-long-as-it-gives-milk/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 11th, 2016

by newsdigest on April 19, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Court takes cognisance of complaint against PM for ‘insulting’ Tricolour (Apr 7, 2016, Hindustan Times)

A Delhi court on Wednesday took cognisance of a complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly “insulting” the national flag last year on the international yoga day and during his visit to the United States.…

The complainant Ashish Sharma, who has sought direction to the police to file an FIR against Modi, has claimed that he had committed an offence under the provisions of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 and has also violated the Flag Code of India.

He claimed that Modi had insulted the national flag not once but several times. He alleged that the PM had “disrespected” national flag by using it as a handkerchief at an event at the India Gate on the international yoga day.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/court-takes-cognisance-of-complaint-against-pm-for-insulting-tricolour/story-yCPBUO4t0ZF7Ep9FaurSPL.html

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Violence in Bhind after custodial death, 3 cops suspended (Apr 10, 2016, Times of India)

Police had to fire in the air and burst tear gas shells on Sunday morning to disperse a violent mob protesting after death of a youth in police custody at Umri police station of Bhind on late Saturday night.

Three cops including the SHO of the police station, Rambabu Yadav, have been suspended. Sunil Yadav, 20, allegedly committed suicide in the police station. His father Avilav Yadav said that his son was arrested after allegations of theft. He was beaten by the police inside thana and he died on Saturday.

After the postmortem, family of the deceased placed the body near thana and demanded registration of cases of murder against the cops. They started pelting stones on the police when the police dispersed the mob by firing in the air.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51764860.cms

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Malegaon blast witnesses’ confessional statements go ‘missing’ (Apr 8, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Confessional statements of some witnesses in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case are reported to be “missing” from the special MCOCA court in Mumbai, prompting the authorities to mount a search for those.

The issue came to light earlier this week when staff of the special court approached former special public prosecutor (SPP) Rohini Salian to inquire about whether she had with her some of the confessional statements of witnesses. “I was surprised when such a query was made to me. The court staff asked whether I had confessional statements of six or seven crucial witnesses recorded before a magistrate. I conveyed that all documents had been handed over to the new SPP Avinash Rasal in presence of NIA officers and, in any case, the originals were in the court records only,” Salian said.

The witnesses whose statements have gone missing include those of a close aide of Ramji Kalsangra who had “confessed” before a magistrate about the criminal conspiracy hatched to plant explosives in Malegaon. Two low-intensity explosions in Malegaon on September 29, 2008, had left seven people dead. The Maharashtra police’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), which investigated the case before it was handed over to CBI and later to NIA in 2011, arrested several, including self-styled Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Srikant Purohit.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/malegaon-blast-witnesses-confessional-statements-go-missing/story-u7eqhqetw81lDfjmBdDWRI.html

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Seminar disrupted over calls to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (Apr 9, 2016, Indian Express)

A seminar at Deshbandhu College on ‘Ambedkar on Caste and Social Justice’ was disrupted Friday when Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members insisted the organisers chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ if they wanted the event to go on.

The students, all part of the Deshbandhu Discussion Forum, said they usually organise discussions once a fortnight and invite speakers from different universities to speak. “This was the fifth discussion in the series. But even before the discussion began, ABVP members including Rajat Chaudhary started tearing pamphlets and posters of the seminar, and hurled abuses at the organisers. They told the organisers, say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai ‘or we will not let the event continue,” said Chirayu Goyal, one of the organisers.

Ananya Pandey, another organiser of the event, said, “One student even said Bharat Mata Ki Jai, but then questioned who they were to dictate anything. They sat throughout the lecture sessions and called all of us ‘atankwadis’ and ‘deshdrohis.'”…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/seminar-disrupted-over-calls-to-chant-bharat-mata-ki-jai/

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Latehar hangings: Chilling confessions of gau rakshaks (Apr 4, 2016, Catch News)

It has been 17 days since cattle trader Majloom Ansari and a 12-year-old school boy Imtiyaz Khan were killed and hanged at the Jhabar village in Jharkhand’s Latehar district. The local police were prompt in taking action and arrested 5 persons within 24 hours of the murders. Three other accused surrendered later.…

Locals say that one of the accused, Arun Sau, is associated with the Bajrang Dal.… All five accused who were arrested by the police have confessed to their crime. Their confessions also indicate that Arun Sau, the alleged Bajrang Dal activist, was the mastermind behind the murders. Two of the accused recollect that it was Arun who strangled Majloom and 12-year-old Imtiyaz with a rope and killed them.

Establishing the cow-protection links to the murders, one of the accused – by Mithilesh Sau alias Bunty – states that whatever he did was because of the responsibility given to him by the Gau Raksha Samiti. This makes the motive behind the murders evidently clear.

http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/exclusive-latehar-confessions-gau-rakshaks-give-chilling-details-of-18-march-hangings-1459794465.html

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Rajasthan sends police to get details on madrasas, DGP says ‘routine’ (Apr 11, 2016, Indian Express)

Against the backdrop of a demand for probe into “suspicious activities” of madrasas in the state, raised in the Assembly recently by BJP MLA Gyandev Ahuja, Rajasthan government has sought information on madrasas on 14 points, including “ideology”, “visits by Tablighi Jamaat”, and “activities”.

A letter from SPs to respective SHOs seeks information on “what is the ideology of madrasa (whether Shia/Sunni/Deobandi/Barelvi etc)”, “whether Tablighi Jamaat visits madrasa or not”, “activities”, as well as details of owner of the madrasa and the number of students, among others. DGP Manoj Bhatt told The Indian Express, “It is a routine exercise and such information is regularly collected by intelligence.”…

A madrasa teacher confirmed that police officials had arrived at the madrasa where he teaches two days ago and sought detailed information on the owner, the number of students, ideology,etc. Said Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s state president Khursheed Husain, “This move will only create suspicion and hatred towards madrasas, which is in no way in favour of the nation.”…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/rajasthan-sends-police-to-get-details-on-madrasas-dgp-says-routine/

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Muslims’ share in enrolment dips at secondary level (Apr 11, 2016, Times of India)

…In total enrolment, SC students accounted for 16.6 per cent at primary level and 17.1 per cent at upper primary level, STs for 12.7 and 11 per cent, BCs for 46.7 percent and 48.1per cent and Muslim students for total enrolment of 14.4 percent at primary level and 12.4 per cent at upper primary level.

Similarly, DISE data shows that there were 13,183 secondary schools with total enrolment of 17.02 lakh and 69,000 teachers in 2014-15. In total enrolment, SC students accounted or 17.52 per cent at secondary level and 18.54 percent at higher secondary level, STs proportion was 9.68 per cent and 10.27 per cent, BCs share was 50.14 percent and 47.11 percent and Muslim students’ proportion worked out to 10.8 per cent at secondary level and 6.76 per cent at higher secondary level.

DISE data thus indicates that the proportion of SC, ST and BC students at primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary levels is almost approximate to their proportion to total population. But in the case of Muslims, their proportion in enrolment goes down from one level to another, that is, from 14.4 per cent at primary level to 12.4 percent at upper primary level, and further to 10.8 per cent at secondary level and 6.76 per cent at higher secondary level.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51771732.cms

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Pluralism and tolerance hallmark of Indian civilisation: President Pranab Mukherjee (Apr 10, 2016, Indian Express)

President Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday that “pluralism and tolerance” are the “hallmark of our civilisation”, and India’s diversity is a “fact” which cannot be turned into “fiction” because of the “whims and caprices of few individuals”. He also warned that communal harmony, at times, will be put to test by “vested interests”, and Indians must “remain alert to communal tension rearing its ugly head anywhere”.…

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “Religion is a force for unity; we cannot make it a cause of conflict”. “At times, communal harmony will be put to test by vested interests. We must, therefore, remain alert to communal tension rearing its ugly head anywhere. Rule of Law must form the sole basis for dealing with any challenging situation. It is our democratic underpinning that must prevail at all times,” he said.

Emphasising that democracy is “not all about numbers but also calls for consensus building”, Mukherjee said a phenomenon seen in recent times is the way the common man is engaged with affairs of the nation. “While we must wield no space to anarchy, efficient democratic machinery must have the means and wherewithal to absorb public opinion for formulation of sound policies,” he said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/president-pranab-mukherjee-pluralism-tolerance-indian-civilisation-manmohan-singh/

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Another ex-CBI official arrested in RTI activist murder (Apr 11, 2016, First Post)

The questioning of a former Pune police officer B R Andhalkar has given CBI “vital clues” about conspiracy relating to the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty six years ago, resulting in the arrest of another former Crime branch official Namdev Sukhdev Kauthale.

Kauthale, then Assistant Police Inspector with Crime Branch, was arrested late last night by CBI, agency sources said. It is suspected both ex-crime branch officers knew the conspiracy and had actively taken part in attempts to shield the main accused, they said.

“It was alleged that then API was involved in the initial investigation of the case. He had allegedly conspired with the perpetrators of crime and in furtherance of that he created false evidence and fake eye-witnesses implicating five other accused persons to shield the real conspirators and killers,” CBI Spokesperson said here.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/another-ex-cbi-official-arrested-in-rti-activist-murder-2723490.html

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Now, Hindu leader Swaroopanand says rapes will rise if women go into Shani temple (Apr 11, 2016, Times of India)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51779045.cms

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Opinions and Editorials

Wolves of the Virtual World – Editorial (Apr 9, 2016, EPW)

This week a journalist with the private news channel, CNN-IBN, landed into trouble after posting what was clearly a morphed image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Maheish Girri saw the image, which showed the Prime Minister touching the feet of the Saudi king, as an attempt to denigrate the country and very soon an online mob was baying for the blood of the journalist concerned. The argument that photoshopped image was in circulation several months before this incident and was used by the journalist for satire – however poor – was lost on the online militia. He has since taken off the image from his Facebook page and apologised. Chances are that he will face punitive action.

Online vigilantism such as this calls for a re-examination of the so-called democratic potential of the internet – the social media in particular. In recent times as traditional democratic lifelines have fallen prey to authoritarianism, the internet has emerged as a wellspring of hope. Just as it galvanised young people during the Arab Spring four years ago, social media, it is argued, will help movements of democracy in India and help feminists, Ambedkarites, the traditional leftists, environmentalists, students, teachers find collaborative spaces. There is indeed much about the social media that has inspired such optimism.…

Hatred between communities and social groups have lives far beyond election results and immediate political matters. That is why we must be worried. The manner in which the authoritarianism of the BJP-led government on Raisina Hill is working in tandem with the wolves on the web, the damage to India’s demo-cracy and pluralism may be long term and, in some ways, irreversible.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/15/editorials/wolves-virtual-world.html

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Nationalism vs Hindutva – By A.G. Noorani (Apr 29, 2016, Frontline)

…BJP is an admittedly “Hindu party”; rejects “secular policies”; and has as its main objective the establishment of a Hindu Raj so that “Hindu interests” would prevail (“rule India”). This, of course, is not Indian nationalism but Hindu nationalism, which the BJP calls Hindutva or “cultural nationalism”.

All this rests on a basis that is obvious though unstated by the BJP. But its ideologue V.D. Savarkar spelt it out boldly. It is that Hindus constitute a separate “nation”. Hindutva is another name for the two-nation theory – a “Hindu nation”, as distinct from other Indians, over whom it rules to promote “Hindu interests”. Savarkar was also the author of both Hindutva and the two-nation theory.

This is the very basis that underlies Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s insidious ventures. A secular Constitution is being silently chipped away by executive acts to establish a Hindu Raj. The shell will remain. The kernel will be gone. Its architect, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, would have fought against it. So must we all – Indians who reject the two-nation theory and value our secular credo.…

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/nationalism-vs-hindutva/article8466061.ece

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Is the National Investigation Agency Sabotaging the Malegaon Blast Case? – By Sarim Naved (Apr 11, 2016, The Wire)

The prosecution of the accused in the Malegaon blasts case of 2008 seems to raise one question after the other about the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The premier investigation agency, set up to probe a select category of cases, is supposed to have the time and manpower to ensure quick investigation and prosecution. In the Malegaon case, it has neither carried out a quick investigation nor has it proceeded with the prosecution.

The news of some witness statements, recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) going missing from the court record, has raised further concerns about the prosecutorial intent of the NIA. Former Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian had previously claimed the NIA was seeking to favour the accused, who are members of a fringe right-wing organisation called ‘Abhinav Bharat’.… The statements that have gone missing will make it much easier to influence witnesses.… The disappearance of these documents also have to be seen with reference to the NIA’s changed stance regarding the application of MCOCA in this trial.…

The Central Bureau of Investigation has let off BJP President Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin case, not having challenged his discharge in that case before the high court. The Ishrat Jahan case has been put in cold storage with no movement regarding it. Witnesses are turning hostile in the Ajmer Dargah blast case and the Malegaon 2008 blasts prosecution is being systematically weakened. The common thread amongst all these cases is that the accused are persons who are perceived to be close to the ruling dispensation. Of course, the RSS and the BJP have publicly disowned the accused in the Ajmer and Malegaon blast cases. But the public condemnation would be much more believable if the country’s premier investigative agencies are not seen betraying their own investigations and their own findings.

http://thewire.in/2016/04/11/why-is-the-national-investigation-agency-dragging-its-feet-on-the-malegaon-blast-case-28746/

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AMU’s Minority Character, the Judiciary and the Executive – By Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood (Apr 10, 2016, Milli Gazette)

The citizens of India would be grateful to the Hon’ble Supreme Court for very kindly taking note of the contents of this article vis-a-vis the ongoing matter regarding the minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University. The nation and the world are quite aware from duly recorded history that in 1875 Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had established the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh. It was originally affiliated with Calcutta University and in 1885 its affiliation was shifted to the Allahabad University.…

The citizens also urge the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development to rise to the occasion and accept the above constitutional scheme as well as the fact that the MAO College was established by Muslims of India and that through the Act of 1920 the Parliament only procedurally upgraded the College to a University and these facts were duly clarified through the 1981 amendment. The central government would do well not to withdraw its appeal before the Supreme Court.

The citizens of India earnestly urge the nation to see reason and not to challenge the sentiments of millions of Indian Muslims and their sympathizers. Let us not test the nerve of the nation, let us not push any section of the population to the wall and let us remain confined within the sacred constitutional precincts.

http://www.milligazette.com/news/14078-amu-s-minority-character-the-judiciary-and-the-executive

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War on Bastar – By Divya Trivedi & Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Apr 29, 2016, Frontline)

The massive state-sponsored repression in Chhattisgarh, especially the Bastar region, over the past few months under the informally named “Mission 2016” campaign marks new history on two important counts. First, the manoeuvres employed by the government in general and the security agencies in particular in the name of protecting the national interest and tackling Maoist Left Wing Extremism (LWE) have acquired unprecedented dimensions in terms of vicious and brutal interference in the everyday lives of common people.…

in political and ideological terms, Mission 2016 signifies yet another calibrated nuance in the Hindutva project of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)-led Sangh Parivar to capture and perpetuate power. The self-professed “Hindutva laboratories” of the Sangh Parivar have taken different political and ideological shapes and hues in the exercises relating to power politics and statecraft.

While the tactic was all-out aggression against Muslims in Gujarat, which manifested itself in the form of the bestial genocide of the minority community in 2002, in Odisha it took the form of rampant attacks against Christians. After 2010, the main product of the “laboratory” was neoliberal Hindutva, which combined Hindutva communalism with a corporate-driven development agenda.…

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/war-on-bastar/article8465544.ece

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Panama Papers: Modi Regime’s Toothless Action – Editorial (Apr 10, 2016, Peoples Democracy)

The Panama papers have given a glimpse of the extensive network of shell companies and secret entities in tax havens around the globe which service the needs of the wealthy and powerful of the world. The Indian Express has published details of Indians who have utilised the services of a law firm, Mossack Fonseca, headquartered in Panama for acquiring shell companies off the shelf. These shell companies are registered in various tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands.…

If the Modi government is serious about cracking down on black money, tax evasion and money laundering, then it should impose a blanket prohibition on Indians acquiring shell companies and operating secret accounts in tax havens. This is apart from confiscating the illegal money and assets of those in the Panama list. But the BJP government will not dare to do so as the whole system of international finance capital is intertwined with the elaborate structure of tax havens and shell companies. After all, it was the earlier NDA government which opened up the Mauritius route for financial investments from abroad which has become a big source for money laundering and round tripping.

The action proposed to be taken on the Panama papers further confirm that the Modi government will only scratch the surface and is unwilling to touch the structure of tax havens, money laundering and the generation of black money.

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2016/0410_pd/panama-papers-modi-regime%E2%80%99s-toothless-action

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Book Review

Violent Conjunctures In Democratic India

Author: Amrita Basu
Reviewed by: Suraj Kumar Thube
Available at: Cambridge University Press, 32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473, USA, ISBN – 978-1-316-60391-8, Price – 550 rupees, Pages – 334.http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Violent Conjunctures In Democratic India (Apr 7, 2016, Countercurrents)

Hindu nationalism has been a pervasive phenomenon in India, especially since the ‘second democratic upsurge in 1990.’ Academicians over the years have focussed broadly on the multiple contours of this form of militant nationalism and how it shapes Indian politics in general. These studies have more or less highlighted the role of political parties in fomenting violence along with the active connivance of the State.… The primary focus is on the Bhartiya Janta Party and its constantly changing relationship with cultural organisations of the Hindu right. Terming the BJP as a ‘movement-party’, the author draws our attention to the multiple fault lines when it comes to the working mechanism of the party at the ground level.…

In the concluding pages, the author manages to give a synoptic overview of how primordial identities is not a sufficient reason to explain the violent activities perpetrated by the Hindu right. The constantly shifting and evolving relationships of the parties and social movements are crucial to understand where and why violence occurs along with other reasons of globalization and state intervention that need to be factored in. At the same time, a few questions beg answers. How globalization in itself is shaping India to become more Hindu? Does Hindutva inherently proves to be electorally unpopular in some states or is it the primacy of the party power in that state that makes the final decision? How do normal, ordinary people exactly react to the constantly changing fault lines within these violent conjunctures?…

At the same time, it is an insightful study that brings forward the unexpected variations seen between various states ruled by the same party. To emulate one political setup in some other state becomes virtually impossible as there is a calculated hierarchy of ideological and institutional issues wherein one takes precedence over others depending on sundry factors. As the author rightly points out, there is a need for recognising violence in democracies by retheorizing our understanding of political institutions, organisations and movements.

http://www.countercurrents.org/thube070416.htm

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Indian Americans celebrate Independence Day

August 15, 2011

Monday August 15, 2011 The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – http://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, congratulates the nation on its 65th Independence Day. IAMC recalls the momentous day of August 15, 1947, when India awakened to a new dawn of freedom from over 200 years of colonial […]

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Divisive track – Editorial (Jul 20, 2011, Times of India)

July 25, 2011

Last heard, India had a secular constitution that protected freedom of expression. That slipped the notice of Vishwanath Hegde Kageri, Karnataka’s school education minister, when he declared that those opposed to the teaching of the Gita in schools should quit India. Whether Kageri or the state BJP likes it or not, there is a constitutional […]

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IMC-USA campaign to mark Victory for Pluralism, Press Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

March 22, 2005

March 23, 2005

The Indian Muslim Council-USA, an advocacy group working towards protecting and promoting minority rights in India and a founding member of the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), has announced it will hold a Press Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on Saturday 26th March at 11:00 AM.

Narendra Modi the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat was barred from entering USA by the State Department under the International Religious Freedom Act citing severe violations of religious freedom by Modi. During the 2002 pogroms in Gujarat presided over by Modi more than 2000 Muslims were killed and thousands were made homeless. Three years after the violence, no one has been brought to justice.

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Indian Muslim Councl-USA Participates in Pluralism Rally

March 20, 2005

Demands Supporters of Modi to stop fueling Anti-American Hatred

New York, NY; March 21st, 2005: Braving snow and rain, over 300 activists and representatives of 50 organizations held a press conference and rally outside Madison Square Gardens, New York to endorse the US State Department’s revocation of Narendra Modi’s Visa and condemn his anti-American incitements. Having been barred from entering the United States, Modi was expected to deliver a speech from Gujarat via a satellite link to his supporters at the Madison Square Gardens.

The rally and press conference were extensively covered by Indian and American media.

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Dr. Mallika Sarabhai Speaks at Stanford University about Communal Harmony and the Situation in Gujarat

October 9, 2004

Stanford, CA, October 10, 2004

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Indian Muslim Council-USA endorses ‘Promise of India’ campaign for Communal Harmony in India.

October 3, 2003

Oct 4th, 2003. Milpitas, CA. Indian Muslim Council-USA, a Washington based advocacy group working toward safeguarding Indian society’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, announces its endorsement and support for the ‘Promise of India’ campaign.

‘Promise of India’ is a global campaign for communal harmony in India, launched on October 4, 2003 to coincide with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, at India Community Center (ICC), Milpitas, CA by a coalition of Indian-American non-profit organizations serving the Indian community.

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