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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 9th, 2013

by newsdigest on September 10, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Muzaffarnagar riots: 4 BJP MLAs, Cong leader booked for inciting mob (Sep 9, 2013, Indian Express)

Curfew on Monday remained in force in riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar where the death toll climbed to 28 even as 200 persons were arrested and cases registered against 1000 persons, including four BJP MLAs and a former Congress MP. Under fire over the violence, the Uttar Pradesh government transferred Saharanpur DIG DD Mishra and SHO, Phugana, Omveer. Violence-hit Muzaffarnagar falls in Saharanpur range. “The death toll in the violence has reached 28 so far. SHO, Phugana, Omveer has been removed from the post as most of the violence was witnessed in the area…We are also cancelling arms licenses in Phugana, Shahpur, Dhaurakalan as they were misused during the violence”, ADG, Law and Order, Arun Kumar told reporters in Muzaffarnagar.

He said FIRs have been registered against BJP legislative party leader Hukum Singh, MLAs Suresh Rana, Bhartendu, Sangeet Som and former Congress MP Harendra Malik for violating prohibitory orders. Cases have been registered against a total of 1000 persons including some people who are yet to be identified, he said. Meanwhile, UP Governor BL Joshi has sent his report on the Muzaffarnagar violence to the Centre, official sources said in Lucknow. The report was sent yesterday. In the report, the Governor has cited the sequence of events beginning August 27, when three persons were killed in Kawal town of Muzaffarnagar over an incident of eveteasing.

Sources said the Governor has also stated other details regarding the administrative lapses as well as the situation prevailing in the town. Kumar said no violence was reported in the district after midnight last night. Secretary Home, Kamal Saxena said that 45 injured persons are undergoing treatment in various hospitals in Muzaffarnagar. He said the situation in Muzaffarnagar was under control, adequate force has been despatched and senior officers were camping there. Army had yesterday staged a flag march in the troubled district and surrounding areas. Over 200 persons have been arrested in connection with the violence, Saxena said. “As it (violence) is going on in several villages, it is taking time to defuse the situation,” Kumar said. Curfew remained in force in Civil Lines, Kotwali and Nai Mandi town areas of the district.

Officials said apart from army, 10,000 Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel, 1300 CRPF men and 1200 Rapid Action Force personnel have been deployed. The Centre has yesterday sought a report from the Uttar Pradesh government on the violence in Muzaffarnagar and directed it to take strong action to curb riots. Union Home Ministry officials are in regular touch with the Uttar Pradesh government and have assured it of all possible help to control violence in the western UP district. Officials sources said in Delhi the Centre has asked the state government to take necessary steps to ensure that communal tension does not spread to other parts of the state.

If necessary, steps like preventive arrest and house arrest of those who may create trouble to disturb peace should be taken, the sources said. Tension has been running high since three persons were killed in Kawal village on August 27 over an eveteasing incident. The violence had occurred as a meeting was being held in Naglabadhod in defiance of prohibitory orders to demand withdrawal of cases registered in connection with August 27 violence in Kawal. Hukum Singh said he had nothing to do with the violence. “I have not done it throughout my life but since the government has failed on all fronts and the district administration failed, they are searching for a scapegoat. They have easily found the scapegoat in the BJP,” he said. “I don’t indulge in all these tensions. I love all the people of my country,” he said.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1166646/

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‘Attempts to stoke communal tension around Deoband’ (Sep 9, 2013, Indian Express)

There are many theories for the genesis of violence in Muzaffarnagar, but inside Darul Uloom Deoband and smaller madrasas in its vicinity, apprehensions about a possible communal flare-up have hung heavy for some time now. For most part of the admission season, students on their way to and from their homes have been targeted inside trains in and around Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Jharauda Nada. After Darul Uloom authorities took up the matter with railway officials and the local administration, attacks abated inside trains but the scene of aggression shifted instead to the roads around Deoband, so much so that students were asked to not venture out of the campus unless absolutely necessary. With the new session set to start Monday, fingers are crossed in Darul Uloom.

“There have been attempts to stoke communal tension around Deoband over the last one or two years but over the last few months our students and those from surrounding madrasas were repeatedly attacked by unidentified people. It was obvious that there was an attempt to create communal tension because boys with skull cap and beard were targeted. We spoke to the GRP and the district administration. Things came to such a pass that we told boys who were with us to not venture out of the campus without reason. Classes will start tomorrow so there won’t be so many people coming and going,” said Darul Uloom Mohtamim Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani.

Politicians, particularly those from ruling SP and Congress, blame BJP for increasing incidents of communal tension in Uttar Pradesh. “Affecting communal polarisation was the sole purpose of making Amit Shah the pointsman for UP,” says Congress general secretary and Saharanpur strongman Rasheed Masood who crossed over from SP last year. However, Deoband insiders say the tension is a fallout of the deteriorating law and order situation that has for long been a hallmark of SP being in the saddle. Why, they ask, did the administration allow first the sporadic panchayats and then the Jat mahapanchayat to happen when the atmosphere was already vitiated and section 144 invoked. BSP, meanwhile, is sitting on the fence through the present unrest hoping that the violence will chip off some of the traditional Muslim votebank of SP.

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind president and senior teacher in Darul Uloom Maulana Arshad Madani says the ongoing violence is being projected as a Hindu-Muslim issue for political reasons. “It is just Jats versus Muslims. There are no Gujjars, Rajputs with them so how is it a matter of two religious communities? This is why I met Ajit Singh Saturday and asked him to reach out to his community. They do not seem to understand the need for immediate intervention. His son told me they would call a meeting on 12th of this month,” Madani told The Indian Express hours after he shot off a letter to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi calling for a coming together of SP and Congress in Uttar Pradesh and of Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and Ramvilas Paswan in Bihar. “Or else, Congress will be decimated,” the old Congress loyalist said in the letter.

Jayant Chaudhary, RLD chief’s son and Lok Sabha MP from Mathura, told The Indian Express, “This is rubbish. In fact, it is very dangerous to talk in these terms in these sensitive times. It is not the time of pin blames. It is a time for appealing restrain and calm.” Ajit Singh, who has considerable influence in the peasant class in the region, said, “The state government deploys 8,000 security personnel to stop the non-existent VHP yatra but failed to recognise the need to provide adequate forces to the region that has been witnessing continued tension and violence. The government failed to act against those prominent political leaders who have been instigating the people with hate speeches leading to the flare-up.”

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1166504/

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Communal tension grips Belgaum in Karnataka ahead of Ganesha festivities (Sep 8, 2013, The Hindu)

Police stepped up patrolling and rushed additional contingents to Anagol, a suburb area of Belgaum, after two groups belonging to different communities clashed leading to communal tension on Sunday morning, police said. At least six persons were injured in the clashes and stone pelting. Situation has now been described as ‘under control’.

Trouble broke out after an argument between different groups over putting up a banner near Rajahans Galli. The heated arguments between groups soon led to clashes and people supporting the different groups gathered and clashed. Senior police officers including Northern Range IG KSR Charan Reddy and district SP Dr. Chandragupta rushed to the troubled areas, which fall in Tilakwad police station limits.

Of the injured persons, four were shifted to district government hospital, while two others were taken to KLE Prabhakar Kore hospital, police said. Police took into custody some persons in connection with the clashes.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/communal-tension-grips-belgaum-in-karnataka-ahead-of-ganesha-festivities/article5107091.ece

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‘Attack on 2002 Gujarat riot protesters planned’ (Sep 6, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar appeared before the metropolitan court on Thursday. There, she recounted the entire episode of attack on her at Gandhi Ashram on April 7, 2002, in a public meeting to condemn the communal riots after the Godhra carnage in the state. Patkar has filed an application before the metropolitan court seeking further investigation into the 2002 attack on her at the Sabarmati Ashram. She has also sought SIT investigation into the incident.

Speaking in Hindi for 90 minutes, Patkar described the entire day’s event of the day – from her arrival in Ahmedabad to the attack on her – before magistrate AJ Desai. “From media reports and photographs, I recognised the people who attacked me. They were Amit Shah, councillor in AMC at the time of incident, Rohit Patel, a Congress worker, Amit Thakker, a worker in BJP’s youth wing, and DK Saxena. I have mentioned their names in the complaint I had filed. I can still recognise them,” Patkar said.

“I reached Gandhi Ashram at around noon and was talking to three media persons when a group arrived on the scene. They were shouting slogans against me and my role in Narmada dam project. I requested them to calm down and suggested discussing the issue another day as the public meeting at the ashram was about communal riots and urging people to maintain peace. However, they continued with slogans against me. Their language was abusive,” Patkar said.

“Before the first group could finish, another group arrived at the scene and started shouting similar slogans. Subsequently, a third group reached there and a tall man started beating me. He hit me on my chest and hand. Someone grabbed my hair. A few others held me tight so that I wouldn’t escape. They also repeatedly banged my head against the wall. A few other social workers, who were part of public meeting, and journalist Prakash Shah intervened and saved me. They locked me in a room where I could hear the slogans. It continued for another 45 minutes or an hour,” Patkar added.

“I could see policemen but they were doing nothing. Had Shah and others social workers not intervened, they would have killed me. I think the attack on me was planned,” she said. Further hearing of the case is scheduled to take place on October 7, where the defence will cross-examine Patkar.

http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/GUJ-AHD-attack-on-2002-gujarat-riot-protesters-planned-4367572-NOR.html

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Prosecute Narendra Modi, asks Coalition Against Genocide (Sep 8, 2013, Twocircles.net)

Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) a broad alliance dedicated to justice and accountability for the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, and for continued violations of human rights in Gujarat, today called on the Central government to initiate prosecution of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, following the written confession of disgraced Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Gujarat, DG Vanzara who has been in prison since 2007 on trial for several extra-judicial killings, including that of 19 year-old Mumbai student Ishrat Jahan in 2004. The explosive letter has shaken the nation for the gravity of the charges it contains against Mr. Narendra Modi and his Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah. Mr. Vanzara has revealed that the “fake encounters” in Gujarat, were a conscious policy adopted by the Modi administration. The fact that these killings furnished the ‘halo of a brave chief minister’ to Modi is an indication of the cold-blooded political chicanery behind the encounters.

“I categorically state that officers and men of the Crime Branch, ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad) and Border Range, during the period 2002-2007, simply acted and performed their duties in compliance with a conscious policy of this government,” wrote Mr. Vanzara, once considered a confidante of Modi and Shah, in his resignation letter. This is the first time that a police officer of Mr. Vanzara’s rank, has publicly cited Mr. Modi’s approval of the killings committed in the name of fighting terror, and his endorsement of the state police’s brutality in return for political gain. Mr. Modi’s disregard for the rule of law has been known since the carefully orchestrated Gujarat pogrom of 2002, which according to human rights organizations and revelations by senior officers such as Sanjeev Bhatt and R. B. Sreekumar, took place with Mr. Modi’s complicity.

In a separate development, an independent journalist released a video showing senior BJP leaders discussing how to shield Mr. Amit Shah, currently out on bail, from the fallout of the Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case. The video is a “smoking gun” that corroborates Mr. Vanzara’s charge that the Gujarat police’s impunity in murdering innocent people through fake encounters was backed by a conscious policy of the Gujarat government under Mr. Modi. “The Central government needs to act on Mr. Vanzara’s revelations, so that those who hold innocent human lives cheap, and are willing to expend them for political gains are held accountable under the law of the land,” stated Mr. Raja Swamy, a spokesperson for CAG. “The PIL filed in the Supreme Court, pleading for the court’s direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take Mr. Vanzara’s confession, should be speedily heard and appropriate orders passed for a CBI investigation and prosecution of Mr. Modi,” added Mr. Swamy.

Mr. Vanzara’s letter and the video from the sting operation also explain why so many senior IPS officers are currently serving time in jail for fake encounters. As Mr. Vanzara pointed out, the state government has a motive in keeping them in prison so that the probe is not transferred to the CBI from the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID). “The people of Gujarat have suffered enough. This dark night of state terror must give way to a new dawn, of respect for democracy, the rule of law and the sanctity of human life,” said Dr. Ubaid, a co-founder of CAG. “This is the time for the judiciary to demonstrate its independence and its adherence to the dictum. ‘Be you ever so high, the law is above you,’” added Dr. Ubaid. The Coalition Against Genocide is composed of a diverse group of organizations and individuals in the United States and Canada that have come together in response to the Gujarat genocide to demand accountability and justice.

http://twocircles.net/2013sep08/prosecute_narendra_modi_asks_coalition_against_genocide.html

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Prajapati encounter: Sting CD points finger at Javadekar, Jethmalani (Sep 4, 2013, Indian Express)

The sting operation – which is the basis of a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court – refers to BJP leaders Prakash Javadekar, Bhupendra Yadav, Ram Lal, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani and former additional advocate general of Madhya Pradesh Manoj Dwivedi – as allegedly conspiring to shield former state Home minister Amit Shah in the Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case. Javadekar is allegedly seen in the recording as saying that Chief Minister Narendra Modi is in the loop and the latter has appointed Shah to supervise the matter.

The freelance journalist who did the sting operation and then filed the PIL, Pushp Kumar Sharma, has provided a commentary to a series of stings that he carried out on people involved in the alleged conspiracy. According to Sharma, he had a good rapport with Narmada Prajapati, Tulsiram’s mother, as he used to meet her for writing a book on encounters. Yadav sought his help to approach Narmada so as to enable her to get compensation amount. According to Sharma, in lieu of the compensation, these politicians wanted Narmada to sign a vakalatnama of a lawyer of their choice so that they could control the case as per their wish and weaken it against Shah.

When Sharma realised that a vakalatnama had been signed by Narmada and subsequently there was no word from the politicians, he spread a rumour that she had signed a fresh vakalatnama. He alleged that the said politicians expressed their unhappiness regarding this during the sting operation. As per Sharma’s recording, the efforts to shield Shah involved Jethmalani, Yadav, Javadekar, Lal, and Dwivedi. In fact, Dwivedi was given the task of finding an on-record advocate for Narmada, so that the case against Shah could be weakened.

The one-and-a-half-hour-long CD contains a series of stings of Yadav, Javadekar and Lal, apart from those of Rubabuddin Sheikh and Azam Khan, witnesses in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. Rubabuddin is heard saying in the CD that minister Purshottam Solanki had indirectly offered Rs 35 crore to hush up the matter.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1164279/

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More victims of Asaram Bapu out there? Cops receive fresh complaints (Sep 6, 2013, Rediff)

Jodhpur Police have said they have received fresh complaints against Asaram Bapu, who is currently behind bars over charges of sexual assault of a minor. The police have dispatched teams to the Ahmedabad ashram of the self-styled godman to collect evidence in the case against him. Many victims have started coming forward with their complaints against Asaram, police said, without disclosing the nature of the complaint or the identity of the alleged victims.

They have also offered to help police in their investigation. Police have denied reports that they have in their possession CDs or video clippings given by Asaram’s aide Shiva. “We have not received any such CD or video clipping so far, showing bapu or any of his activities. We have obtained some evidence from the interrogation of Shiva and are in the process of its verification,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Ajay Pal Lamba said.

Police teams have been sent to Asaram’s ashram in Ahmedabad to collect evidence in the case. Lamba said that the case is under investigation and they are yet to interrogate Shilpi, the warden at the Chhindwara Gurukul, where the girl was a student. Shilpi allegedly sent the girl to Asaram. “She is on our radar and we will arrest her at an appropriate time,” he said, adding Asaram’s driver and cook will also be interrogated. Police will also cross-examine Shiva and Shilpi and if needed.

http://www.rediff.com/news/report/more-victims-of-asaram-bapu-out-there/20130906.htm

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‘Islamic terror’ branding by media, not polarisation, responsible for discrimination (Sep 9, 2013, New Indian Express)

Discrimination against Muslims in renting out homes is not just due to the larger communal polarisation but also triggered by the fear factor over what has come to be dubbed as “Islamic terror.” While it is only a miniscule section of the minority community that has taken to divisive activities, the wrong picture painted about Muslims by the media and security agencies has intimidated people from accepting members of the minority community as their tenants. Homeowners to whom the Express spoke to contended that such pressures to deny homes to Muslim families stems not from personal bias against the community, but from lingering social issues.

“It stems from different things. There is a perception among the public, fuelled in part by media reports that our homes could become spawning grounds for activities of subversion,” a house owner said, requesting anonymity. “Even the police victimise the Muslim community. No homeowner wants to have that looming over his head that if any untoward incident occurs, the owner of the house could be investigated by the police for the activities of the tenants,” he added. Agreeing, Jamat-e-Islami public relations secretary, Abdul Hakkim, said the blanket stereotyping of the community is the major reason why financially backward Muslims tend to cluster in specific areas in Coimbatore.

“Most Muslims tend to be small-to-medium businessmen. The number of those in government service is negligible and there tends to be a sense of mistrust of the community, resulting in various forms of social boycott, with refusing homes being just one facet,” he added. In contrast, in less opulent neighbourhoods like Podanur and Ukkadam (where Muslims are concentrated) it is relatively easier to get homes on rent. A R Basheer Ahamed, president, Coimbatore District United Jamaat, an umbrella organisation of 125 mosques, said, “It is true that discrimination exists for every minority, and the denial of homes to Muslims is camouflaged in numerous ways. Like some home owners put up boards saying that they would not entertain non-vegetarians tenants.”

According to him, the only avenue to battle persistent stereotyping and discrimination is to have constructive talks with other communities and also Hindutva outfits such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Munnani. Renowned sociologist Sudha Sitharaman, who was part of a fact finding committee deputed to Kashmir in the late nineties, pointed out that the discrimination, though localised and pronounced in certain pockets in Tamil Nadu, is part of the fallout from both national and international issues. Sudha said that Afghanistan’s opium wars, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, and the selective and false perception of history of Mughal rule in India, have had effects on how Muslims are perceived to be anti-national by society at large.

“When I was in Kashmir, the security forces did not even carry out any checks as they believed that I was a Hindu. But Kashmiris face severe repressive measures and forced checks every day. Such issues do influence how people perceive a community,” she argued. “The Sachar Committee report of 2006 shows just how deep the problem is for Muslims who want to rent homes. If things are to get better, we need to find ways of fighting this mindset that all Muslims are conservative, aggressive and anti-India,” she added.

http://newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Islamic-terror-branding-by-media-not-polarisation-responsible-for-discrimination/2013/09/09/article1775177.ece

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Vishwa Hindu Parishad disrupts Hyderabad’s Kashmir Film Festival (Sep 7, 2013, DNA India)

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) supporters disrupted the Kashmir Film Festival on Saturday on the contention that the movies to be screened at this film festival are ‘anti-Indian’. The VHP activists took strong objection to screening of the movie Kashmir in front of my eyes and resorted to violence by vandalising the property at the venue.

One of the protestors, Rahul, claimed that he had earlier alerted the police to stop the screening of the movies since these were anti-Indian, and he objected to his arrest from the spot and said that he had come to assess the scenario.

“They are arresting me though I have peacefully told them not to screen the movies here and I am insisting again that these movies are anti-Indian,” he said.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/1885867/report-vishwa-hindu-parishad-disrupts-hyderabad-s-kashmir-film-festival

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Delhi cop held for raping 40-year-old woman (Sep 4, 2013, Times of India)

A Delhi Police constable has been arrested for allegedly raping a 40-year-old woman in a hotel in Mahipalpur. The constable, identified as Anil, was posted with the Parliament House security and has been placed under suspension. A departmental enquiry has been ordered against him. The woman alleged that the cops did not take immediate action as it pertained to their department.

The victim belongs to Dehradun, Uttarakhand, and was familiar with the accused constable since many years. The woman said in her statement that she had come to Delhi to participate in a religious function at Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place on Monday. Anil called her up and allegedly asked her to come to Mahipalpur but the woman refused. He then sent someone to pick her up. Once she arrived, the accused took her to a hotel room and raped her.

The woman approached the police after which a case of rape was registered at Vasant Kunj north police station on Tuesday and the constable was taken into custody. Constable Anil was produced before the court and was remanded to police custody for questioning.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/22270906.cms

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Opinions and Editorials

Politics Behind The Muzaffarnagar Riots – By Virendra Nath Bhatt (Sep 8, 2013, Tehelka)

Communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and the subsequent intense communal polarization in the Jat belt of Uttar Pradesh is all set to give a big blow to the electoral prospects of the Ajit Singh led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) as the traditional Jat-Muslim alliance is now in tatters. Political analysts however argue, besides the RLD, the Bahujan Samaj Party also stands to lose if the communal polarization persists till the next 2014 parliamentary election. “It was a well planned riot, facilitated by the district administration and engineered with the aim of ensuring polarization among the voters on communal lines. The RLD will lose heavily in the next elections as the Jats have finally shifted to the BJP. As far as the political situation here is concerned, Ajit Singh stands politically finished in Western UP”, said Mufti Zulfikar Ali, Sahar Mufti of Muzaffarnagar. “It remains doubtful whether the Samajwadi Party will benefit of the communal divide since the grievances of the common people have always been against the government and the ruling party”, he added.

Asserting that it was a planned riot Mufti said, “I reiterate my charge that this communal riot had a clear political motive and was thrust upon the common people ofMuzaffarnagar by the district administration. If the government was sincere in its commitment to maintain communal harmony, law and order, then why were the series of Panchayats by the Jats, allowed by the administration, amidst the communally surcharged environment, and even as prohibitory orders were enforced in the district”. Mufti maintained “the process of alienation of Jats from the RLD started in May 2011, after the death of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Mahendra Singh Tikait. After his demise, his son Narendra Singh Tikait started the process of Hinduisation of the Bhartiya Kisan (BKU) Union which alienated the muslim farmers from the organization”. Adding “Ajit Singh joining the Congress led UPA was not seen as a good move by a sizeable section of the Jat community”.

Also accusing the BSP of contributing into the riots and the communal polarization Mufti Zulfiukar said, “Kadir Rana, the BSP MP, from Muzaffarnagar, delivered highly provocative speech last Friday (6 September), while addressing a meeting of muslims at a local mosque, only to mobilise more muslims votes to his fold”. He added “the district administration has also lodged a criminal case against the BSP MP under Section 153 of the IPC for spreading hatred between communities”. “I admit that this communal riot has caused a huge strain on the traditional Jat-Muslim social coalition in Western UP, which has been in existence since 1857, the first battle for independence”, said Kokab Hamid, senior RLD leader and four-time MLA from Bagpat.

Hamid charged, “This alliance has not broken. Herculean efforts have been made to demolish this alliance and drive such a deep wedge between the two communities which could never be bridged. But, we won’t let this happen. Chaudhary Ajit Singh is scheduled to meet the leaders of both the communities to douse the fire of communal hatred, and bring political conjugality”. “SP and BJP are playing a friendly match in UP by stoking the fire of communal hatred only to consolidate their respective vote banks on communal lines and win some extra seats in the forthcoming elections”, said Dr Taslim Rahmani, National Secretary of the Welfare party floated by the Jamaat-e-Islami, in 2008.

He said, “Both the parties conducted a rehearsal of dirty politics when a mountain was created out of molehill by the VHP sponsored 84 Kosi Yatra from Ayodhya, on 25 August”. He demanded “It’s high time that the Center takes serious notice of the explosive situation in UP and intervenes before the fire of hatred ignited by the Samajwadi Party and the BJP engulfs other parts of the state”. Arguing that the BSP stands to lose more than the RLD, he said “a big number of muslims in Western UP have already moved away from the RLD. They voted for the BSP in 2007, 2012 assembly polls and the 2009 parliamentary elections. The SP hopes that because it is the ruling party in UP, it can cause a dent in the muslim votes by incidents like these, which is very unfortunate”.

http://www.tehelka.com/politics-behind-the-muzzafarnagar-riots/

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Why DG Vanzara’s Letter Matters. And Why It Should Bother Narendra Modi – By Rana Ayyub (Sep 3, 2013, Tehelka)

Suspended police officer DG Vanzara has been in jail for the past six years for his role in four fake encounter cases. In a damning 10-page resignation letter to the Gujarat government, the former DIG,ATS, Gujarat Police, says a lot of things that should be a cause for worry to Chief Minister Narendra Modi. EXCERPT: “Gujarat CID/Union CBI had arrested me and my officers in different encounter cases, holding us responsible for carrying out alleged fake encounters. If that is true, then the CBI investigation officers of all the four encounter cases of Sohrabuddin (Sheikh), Tulasiram (Prajapati), Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat Jahan have to arrest the policy formulators also as we, being field officers, have simply implemented the conscious policy of this government, which was inspiring, guiding and monitoring our actions from very close quarters… I’m of the firm opinion that the place of this government, instead of being in Gandhinangar, should either be at Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai or at Sabarmati Central Prison in Ahmedabad.”

This is one of the most damaging excerpts from the letter written by Vanzara from his prison cell at the Sabarmati Central Jail to the Gujarat government earlier this week. The suspended IPS officer offered his resignation, blaming former Minister of State for Home and now the Uttar Pradesh poll in-charge of BJP, Amit Shah, for his decision. In what has come as a major embarrassment for the Modi dispensation, Vanzara, an accused in the Ishrat Jahan and three other fake encounter cases, has lashed out not just at Shah, but also indirectly at Narendra Modi, who he refers to as his god and then criticises for refusing to take action against Shah or controlling his unconstitutional activities. EXCERPT: “I have been maintaining my graceful silence only because of my highest respect for Narendra Modi, whom I used to adore like a god. I am sorry to say my god did not rise to the occasion under the evil influence of Amit Shah, who usurped his eyes and ears and has been successfully misguiding him by converting goats into dogs and dogs into goats for the last 12 years. Amit Shah introduced the dirty policy of use the officers and throw them by deliberately spreading disinformation about them.”

Damaging as it is, the letter might have many serious ramifications for Narendra Modi and the BJP, which has nominated the Gujarat CM as the poll in-charge of the 2014 General Election. Significantly, the BJP top brass is slated to meet senior RSS officials in the capital on 9 September. The agenda for the elections as well as the decision on the the formal announcement of its PM candidate is likely to be discussed. This adds a new dimension to the fake encounter cases being probed by the CBI. But the question that arises is why has Vanzara, who was among the officers closest to Modi and has been in custody since 2007, gone all out to speak and critique his own government. In 2007, Modi began his election campaign with a speech in which he praised Vanzara for being a valiant officer. Why is it that the same officer now wants to speak the truth? Vanzara’s letter comes close on the heels of statements given by his colleague in the ATS and co-accused in the Ishrat Jahan case, GL Singhal, who also provided the CBI with an audio sting scooped by TEHELKA last month.

Those close to Vanzara say that he was upset with rumours about him being circulated in the media that he had so far remained silent because of his loyalty to Modi’s government. He was appalled at the callous manner in which he and his fellow officers were being treated by the same government. EXCERPT: “I realised that this government was not only not interested in protecting us, but it also has been clandestinely making all efforts to keep me and my officers in jail so as to save its own skin from the CBI on one hand and gain political benefits on the other … The logic is very simple, ie, government and police officers, are sailing in the same boat and have to swim or sink together. No one should try to outsmart the other and try to swim at the cost of the other, neither the government nor the police officers” …

Vanzara’s statement could not have come at a worse time for Shah, who has been termed as Modi’s Achilles heel. In fact, some senior BJP members suggest that Shah was brought to Uttar Pradesh to save Modi the political embarrassment of being chief minister of a state, whose senior minister could be behind bars soon. Vanzara, whose statement might not hold evidentiary value, unless he gives a similar statement to theCBI or gives proof of the same, has perhaps already made a dent in Modi’s prime ministerial prospects. Talks of his coronation have already taken a backseat. What could be even more damaging are indications of similar statements by at least three other senior IPS officers, who are now in custody, coming out in the public domain. It was no surprise then that most of the senior BJP leaders refused to comment on the case. More than a confession, Vanzara’s letter looks more like a warning to Modi and Shah. As he remarks towards the end: “It would not be out of context to remind (Modi) that he, in the hurry of marching towards Delhi, may kindly not forget to repay the debt which he owes to jailed police officers who endowed him with the halo of Brave Chief Minister.”

http://www.tehelka.com/dg-vanzaras-resignation-letter-blaming-narendra-modi-and-amit-shah-for-encounters/#

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Fallen God – Editorial (Sep 5, 2013, The Hindu)

The 10-page resignation letter of suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer D.G. Vanzara – one among over 30 policemen currently in jail in connection with a chain of post-2002 encounter murders – is so much a case of damning with ‘high’ praise that on a first reading it could be misunderstood as a defence of Narendra Modi and his government. The letter is, indeed, worded in a manner to suggest that the chief recipient of Mr. Vanzara’s ire is Modi-confidant and BJP general secretary Amit Shah who, with his “evil influence,” usurped the Chief Minister’s “eyes and ears.” Mr. Modi himself is described by Mr. Vanzara, who was Deputy Inspector-General of Police until his 2007 arrest, as “a God” whom he adored.

The one-time celebrated top cop also fully justifies the liquidation of terror suspects as a necessary outcome of the Gujarat government’s “pro-active policy of zero tolerance for terrorism.” However, the deceptive eulogy is merely a cover for a full-blown attack on Mr. Modi, whom Mr. Vanzara accuses of “marching towards Delhi” without a thought to the jailed police officers who merely followed the Chief Minister’s orders; if anything, Mr, Modi owed a “debt” to the officers whose actions “endowed him with the halo of a brave Chief Minister among a galaxy of other CMs.”

The mocking and sarcasm do not stop here. Arguing that those at the helm of decision-making too needed to be put in jail for pursuing a “conscious” policy of “alleged fake-encounters,” Mr. Vanzara suggests that the Gujarat government shift its offices to the prisons where the arrested policemen languished. So what is the real message in the letter? To start off, it exposes the deep schism between the Modi administration and its own police force. The sense of betrayal so acutely evident in Mr. Vanzara’s long lament comes from the differential treatment given to the police officers and Mr. Shah, who is himself an accused in two cases of encounter killings. The Gujarat government secured the release on bail of Mr. Shah while the officers were left to their own devices.

More seriously for the State government, Mr. Vanzara confirms that suspected terrorists were killed under orders from the highest quarters. The accused officer, of course, puts a veneer of patriotism on the murders, insisting that but for the systematic purging of the suspects, Gujarat would have become another Kashmir. But no civilised country can permit the extra-judicial killing of its citizens, which is why Mr. Vanzara is cooling his heels in jail. The desperate police officer’s lament that he was merely following orders will not get him off the hook. But it does leave Mr. Modi and his government with much to answer for.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/fallen-god/article5093950.ece

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It’s time to face Gujarat’s past – Editorial (Sep 2, 2013, Hindustan Times)

We know that BJP president Rajnath Singh has many sterling qualities, but face reading is not one we had heard about. At a recent party meeting, Mr Singh said of the BJP’s possible prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, “Friends, I have read his facial expressions whenever I have interacted with Narendra Modi(on the riots) and he looks so sad.” As a former chief minister Singh should know that looking sad is very different from actually expressing regret for the cataclysmic events of 2002.

He is right in saying that no chief minister wants anarchy and law and order problems in his state. But since the riots did happen on Mr Modi’s watch, he cannot evade part of the responsibility for them. It is true that the Muslims of the state have moved on to the best of their ability. It is also true that they enjoy a measure of economic wellbeing. But the taint of the riots remains to this day largely because of the fact that there does not seem to have been an actual expression of remorse on the part of the Modi administration.

If, as the BJP is taking pains to convince the people, that the nation needs the contribution of the minorities and their goodwill to forge ahead, it might not be a bad idea to publicly say that the riots were a blot on democracy and that such events should never happen again. The BJP today seems to think, and perhaps rightly so, that it is in with a chance at forming the next government. In which case, its message has to be inclusive and it should not fear addressing the issue of the riots head-on.

Mr Modi is focusing on development as his main plank apart from, of course, the shortcomings of the UPA government. But Mr Singh, as the party president, ought to do more than talk of his understanding of facial expressions. There is nothing to stop him from clearly saying that the state administration was found wanting in not stopping the riots. It is not good enough to blame the Congress for what he calls ‘secularitis’ and accuse it of sowing the seeds of division.

Whether he likes it or not, the BJP is not perceived as a minority-friendly party and it is this that he must seek to correct. To this end, he should in his capacity as the party chief ask some of the party’s satellites like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal to stop harping on the building of a mandir and to stop trying to create communal disharmony. Let us hope the next time he reads Mr Modi’s face, the sadness has evaporated on account of Mr Singh having made efforts to at least get the Gujarat chief minister to express regret for what can only be described as a most unfortunate chapter in the party’s history.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1116527.aspx

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Life At An Austin Ashram, A First-Person Account – By Karen Jonson (Sep 16, 2013, Outlook)

In 1991, American writer Karen Jonson wasn’t in love and was in a dead-end job when she joined an ashram, the Jagad¬guru Kripalu Parishat (JKP) in Austin, Texas, attrac¬ted by local guru Prakashanand Sara¬swati’s talks “about god and loving god”. The JKP proclaims the divi¬nity of Kripaluji Maharaj. In the beginning, she was happy to be among a group of people who had the same feeling and purpose, picking green beans by the moonlight, cooking meals, acting in skits. After living in the ashram for 15 years, she quit in 2008, three years before Prakashanand was found guilty on 20 counts of child sex abuse. Jonson published a tell-all book, Sex, Lies and Two Hindu Gurus, which JKP followers dismiss as a ‘Christian conspiracy’. Here Jonson tells Debarshi Dasgupta how her spiritual quest went awry:

In hindsight, I always had some small doubts about both Kripalu and Prakash. But I had no proof of anything. I was also very religious and wanted to believe what they were telling us, about achieving God realisation and becoming a gopi in divine Vrindavan. All we had to do was ‘surrender’ to them, they said. So I tried really hard to do that, and whenever I stumbled, I believed it was because of my own lack of devotional qualities. So whenever I had doubts, I would push them back into the corners of my mind. But the major onset of scepticism occurred when Kripalu was arrested in Trinidad for raping a young woman in May 2007. It was while he was on a ‘world tour’ that year for a few months. He had just spent about four weeks in the JKP ashram in Austin where I had lived full-time since April 1993. His plan was to go to Trinidad, then Canada, then come back to Austin.

Some uncomfortable events took place when he was in the Austin ashram, called Barsana Dham at the time (the name was changed to Radha Madhav Dham later, after Prakashanand fled to Mexico on his own cases becoming public). For the first time ever, I was invited to Kripalu’s bedroom to perform a secret ritual they called ‘charan seva’. I had never heard of it before. But I later learned that many of the women in JKP’s ashrams participated in this ritual, which took place several times every day at specific times. During this ritual, 5-6 women are brought into the guru’s bedroom. He is lying on his back in the middle of his bed on several pillows with his arms and legs spread out. The women each climb up on his bed and kneel near one part of his body, the thigh, calf and feet. (At that time, one foot was not available for massaging due to an injury, which I later learned was tuberculosis that had gone into his bone.) We had been instructed to “press him very hard.” So we just pressed hard on whatever body part we had.

My first time was his left thigh. The room is very dark so it was hard to see what else was going on. Also, my attention was very focused on massaging him correctly, as instructed. While pressing him as hard as I could, his hand reached down to mine and tried to nudge my hand up to his groin. At the time, I naively thought he wanted me to massage him higher on his thigh, so I tried, but there was really nowhere else to go. He nudged me again. And again I went a tiny bit higher, but that was it. Then it was over and we were told to leave. “Jao!” I had four more pressing sessions. In two, nothing that I know of happened. But then I wasn’t really expecting anything. But one time, when I was on the left thigh again, I saw movement on his groin from the opposite side. While focusing on my pressing, I also kept glancing over. It looked like another woman, who I knew, was massaging his penis. I really could not believe my eyes. I kept glancing, but was in shock. But I now knew that is exactly what was happening. …

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?287715

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Forget Corruption. Brazenness Just Acquired A New High-Water Mark – By Shoma Chaudhury (Aug 31, 2013, Tehelka)

The idea of public scandal is crucial for the health of any society. For political parties, it ought to be a survival instinct. The most shocking aspect of the missing coal files, therefore, is not just that they are missing, but that the Congress government feels it can breeze through the storm of being caught out. Corruption may be a common political malaise. But brazenness just acquired a new high-water mark. These missing coal files, in fact, sum up everything that is wrong with the UPA leadership in one word: it’s missing. A year ago, TEHELKA had published acomprehensive investigation on the contours of the coal scam: how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had presided over a colossal mismanagement of one of the country’s most precious natural resources – delaying the introduction of auctions, and allowing vested interests a free hand, against his own better judgement. Perhaps the incentive was kickbacks for the party; perhaps it was to retain power at any cost; perhaps it was to keep some key businessmen and co-Parliamentarians in good humour. Certainly, the scam seemed very secular: it involved businessmen and political parties of every hue.

But since that original damning accommodativeness, the track has kept getting worse. PM Singh seems to be doing everything in his power to cover up his failures, not just ofcorruption, but misgovernance. Earlier this year, there was the scandal of former law minister Ashwini Kumar tampering with the CBI report submitted to the Supreme Court. And now there is this: 200 files missing from the coal ministry. It’s almost tempting to say, the CBI need investigate no further: The cover-up is the exposé. What’s significant though is that the cover-up does not seem to be driven only by specific cases, but an urge to hide the fact that the whole process was arbitrary and infected by cronyism. This seems to be a peculiar Manmohan Singh characteristic: the prime minister does not mind his government covering itself in muck, but he abhors looking dirty himself. And so, despite Parliament being stalled again and again – despite almost no legislation being passed over the past two years – the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy does not deign to speak to the House.

Unfortunately for the country, however, the coal scam is not an aberration. This absence of process, of cohesive vision – of sheer leadership – seems to infect every aspect of the government. Do a story on the Right to Education: it’s a mess. Do a story on water management: it’s a mess. Do a story on nuclear energy: it’s a mess. On 2G spectrum: a mess. Public access to health: a mess. Agriculture: a mess. Defence procurements: a mess. Economy: a mess. Infrastructure: a mess. Private-public partnerships: a mess. Land acquisition: a mess. Environment: a mess. Public distribution: a mess. Foreign policy: a mess. The litany could go on much longer. Even in its core DNA – its supposed allegiance to a liberal, secular politics – theCongress is suffering from a crisis. Speaking at a function recently, the PM urged the country to oppose “communal forces in elections” as also in “day-to-day life”. But his government scores a red on that as well. Communal forces – both from the Hindu Right and the Muslim Right – flourish in Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, all of which are run by Congress governments. Neither the prime minister nor his chief ministers have done anything to curb that. On the flipside, as many innocent Muslims languish in jails in Congress-ruled states as otherwise. And, there is little to distinguish their social indices in different states.

The dramatic face-off between the speeches of the incumbent prime minister and the self-appointed contender, this Independence Day, therefore, encapsulated a peculiar dilemma India is faced with today. There is very little to choose from. On the one hand, we have a prime minister who is a cipher. On the other, an aspirant who fills every television screen. He is decisive and is capable of muscular oratory. But he has absolutely no qualms about public scandal either. A thousand Muslims died on his watch, but he will not regret it; talk of corruption swirls around his state but he refuses to appoint a Lokayukta. He grants arbitrary largesse to corporate cronies and cooks up figures at will for his speeches. His officers conspire and kill. He lives by one mantra: power is his birthright and he will have it. And then, there is a third player. But he could well be a chimera. Elections are round the corner, and he is yet to condescend to even make his debut.

http://www.tehelka.com/forget-corruption-brazenness-just-acquired-a-new-high-water-mark/

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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.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/file-chargesheet-against-narendra-modi-others-in-2002-postgodhra-riots-case/418342-3-238.html

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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.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/british-sikhs-to-oppose-any-narendra-modi-visit-to-uk/articleshow/22144933.cms

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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.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pil-plea-alleges-bid-by-bjp-leaders-to-derail-prajapati-case-against-amit-shah/article5086993.ece

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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.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1116244.aspx

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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.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1162040/

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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.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1161475/

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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.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/rajasthan-bjp-lawmaker-seeks-anticipatory-bail-in-riot-case-113083001122_1.html

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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.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1162011/

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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.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/muslims-take-out-huge-rally-rooting-for-samaikyandhra/article5082295.ece

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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.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/1882477/report-delhi-woman-gang-raped-by-cops-their-friends-4-arrested

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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.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1113368.aspx

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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.” …

http://www.tehelka.com/if-my-wife-and-i-had-not-been-present-there-we-would-never-have-believed-our-own-daughter-2/?singlepage=1#

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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.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?287610

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Anatomy of Terror Trials – By Manisha Sethi (Sep 2, 2013, Twocircles.net)

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. …

http://twocircles.net/2013sep02/anatomy_terror_trials.html

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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. …

http://www.epw.in/commentary/women-safety-and-city-mumbai.html

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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.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-08-23/edit-page/41437539_1_muslims-security-forces-paramilitary-forces

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 1st, 2013

April 2, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines US lawmakers paid Rs 9 lakh each to praise Modi: report Did aggressive Hindutva agenda cost BJP dear? Police make 5 dead accused in Dhule riots Mumbai police face defamation suit for false terror circular Eight policemen convicted in Gonda fake encounter case Civil group to [...]

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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 – November 12th, 2012

November 12, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Some riots papers destroyed before time: Bhatt to Nanavati panel Narendra Modi behind Nitin Gadkari row: RSS’ MG Vaidya Post-Godhra violence: 10-year jail for 12 who attacked cops in Kodinar CBI probes Amit Shah link in Sadiq encounter Speedy trial of terror cases demanded Faizabad riots: [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 1st, 2012

October 2, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements India’s response to its Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations disappoints human rights groups – India refuses to agree to adequate steps to protect members of minority religions Communal Harmony Communal harmony delegation visiting Faizabad and Ayodhya Seminar in Chandigarh focuses on role of education in [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 18th, 2012

June 18, 2012

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

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 16th, 2012

April 16, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony Inter Faith Forum to clean places of worship News Headlines ‘Clean chit’ for Narendra Modi? Not yet SIT nails 2 cops in ’02 riots case Gujarat’s Ode massacre: 18 convicts get life imprisonment, 7 years in jail for five It was a conspiracy: Court Custody death [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 12th, 2011

December 12, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Need directions for affidavit on Modi’s role: Bhatt Investigator of Sohrabuddin, Prajapati killing cases now gets Ishrat encounter Jaipur serial blasts: 14 alleged SIMI activists acquitted Punish those who demolished Babri Masjid: Rajasthan Muslim Forum Pragya fails to appear in court yet again High Court notice [...]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 29th, 2011

August 30, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines 17 ‘scams’ that Narendra Modi doesn’t want Lok Ayukta to probe Gujarat minister murder: All accused acquitted Sohrab case: ‘Narendra Modi’s babus, cops tried to help accused minister’ Ahmedabad blasts: A horrific story about manufacturing an accused Communal violence erupts in Bahraich of UP Top cop [...]

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