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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 8th, 2017

by newsdigest on May 19, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

In riot affected Dhulagarh, Hindus & Muslims celebrate Tagore’s birth anniversary together (May 9, 2017, Twocircles.net)

On Tuesday, members from Hindu and Muslim communities of Dhulagarh, West Bengal together celebrated the birth anniversary of poet Rabindranath Tagore by tying threads of unity and harmony on each other’s wrists.

The unique birthday celebration of the Nobel Laureate, who had championed the causes of Hindu-Muslim unity, was organised under the banner of ‘Bangla Sanskriti Manch’ to celebrate the spirit of unity, fraternity and communal harmony in the state in which several civil society members from Kolkata also went to participate.

A cultural programme was also organised on the occasion in a hall in Dhulagarh around 11.00 AM, where social activists from the city as well as some villagers sent out a message of peace and harmony. They later tied Rakhi to each other. This ritual was followed on streets as well and local villagers responded spontaneously and positively.…

http://twocircles.net/2017may09/409168.html

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Bilkis Bano verdict is a reminder of state complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots (May 5, 2017, Scroll.in)

One of the many horrors that came into public view after the Gujarat riots of 2002 was the Bilkis Bano case. On March 3, 2002, 19-year-old Bano and her family had been trying to flee the riots in a truck. They were set upon by a mob of men who gangraped Bano, pregnant at the time, killed her three-year-old daughter and 14 others in her family. Fifteen years later, those responsible for the brutalities have been dealt with by the Bombay High Court, which upheld 12 life sentences in the case. “Somewhere, somehow, justice can prevail,” Bano said in a statement on Thursday, even in times “when the secular values of our country” are in peril.

Attention has been centred on the life sentences, and the fact that the court dismissed the Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea to convert three of these into death penalties. But the court also made another significant decision. It overturned the acquittals, handed down by a Mumbai sessions court, to five members of the Gujarat police. The court found them guilty of carrying out a “dishonest investigation”, of various “acts of omission and commission”, by which they tried to “screen the perpetrators of the crime” and “gagged the mouth of the prosecutrix”.…

The Bombay High Court’s verdict now is yet another reminder of chilling state complicity in the violence of 2002. Survivor accounts depict a state police that was indifferent at best or guilty of deliberate inaction, standing by and allowing the violence to take its course. The complicity carried on into the afterlife of the horrors, as evidence was destroyed or suppressed, cases were closed, voices of dissent within the force were silenced. How high up did the lines of accountability reach? Were the police were acting under political pressure? These questions have now passed into the realm of speculation. The Supreme Court’s decision to move the trials out of the state was acknowledgment that the system was tainted.…

https://scroll.in/article/836647/the-daily-fix-bilkis-bano-verdict-is-a-reminder-of-state-complicity-in-the-2002-gujarat-riots

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Muslims protest against India TV for ‘fabricated’ Halala Operation (May 6, 2017, The Indian Awaaz)

Hundreds of Muslims today staged a protest Dharana against India TV at Jantar Mantar. They were protesting against the telecast of what they called a ‘complete fabricated’ story run by the TV channel in the name of ‘Operation Halala’.

They alleged that programme showed Muslim men and women in bad light and degrading their dignity using impersonate persons. The alleged anti Muslim programme was telecast on April 15. The protesters with banners against TV channels in their hands, said the programme was nothing but a huge conspiracy to malign Islam and Muslim community of India.

The Dharna/protest was organized by Management Committee Madarsa Taleemul Quran Society Seelampur Delhi. The TV Programme was allegedly shoot near the madarsa run by this society. The society has also lodged complaint against the India TV at local court, CBI and Delhi police demanding stern action against the channel.…

http://theindianawaaz.com/muslims-protest-against-tv-for-fabricated-halala-operation/

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Police ask man to remove communally sensitive poster (May 8, 2017, Times of India)

Accusing members of a community in the neighbourhood of harassment, a resident of Kachcha Haata in Aminabad has put up a poster outside his house that reads, “Hindu pariwar palayan ko majboor”. When TOI spoke to other Hindu Families in the vicinity, however, they said they had never experienced any communal discord.

The area is mostly commercial and families of different communities have been living together from more than 80 years. Speaking to TOI, Rahul Garg, who has alleged he is being harassed by his neighbours from the minority community for the past six months, said he was being pressurised to sell his house where his family has been living for 70 years.

Officer in charge of Aminabad police station Ashwini Pandey said Garg created unnecessary sensation in the locality on Saturday evening. “Eight different families stay in the said property out of which seven want to sell it to a local builder. Garg is the only one against the deal. When the builder came to talk to him, Garg decided to put up the board. We convinced him to take it down as it was leading to nuisance and could lead to unnecessary controversy,” said Pandey.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/58570623.cms

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UP BJP MLA Radha Mohan Das Agarwal scolds IPS officer Charu Nigam to tears (May 8, 2017, IB Times)

…Gorakhpur MLA Dr Radha Mohan Das Agarwal – a UP BJP veteran – has been caught on camera scolding high-ranking IPS officer Charu Nigam till she is moved to tears. He is heard shouting repeatedly at her: “Don’t cross your limits.” What’s worse, all this happened in Gorakhpur, the home turf of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

It all started on the afternoon of Sunday, May 7, when a group of women blocked a road in Gorakhpur demanding the closure of certain liquor shops. Gorakhpur Assistant Superintendent of Police Charu Nigam – an IPS officer who has been given the moniker of “Lady Singham” for her tough-as-nails ways when it comes to matters of law and order – reached the spot and tried to forcefully evict them.

Some local reports say some of the women then attacked Nigam, while some other reports say she ordered lathi-charge on them, leading to some protesters being injured. Soon, Gorakhpur BJP MLA Dr Radha Mohan Das Agarwal reached the spot and confronted Nigam. A video of that interaction has now surfaced online, showing the BJP MLA shouting at the IPS officer in the presence of her colleagues as well as a large crowd. He is heard telling her to “keep quite,” and “don’t cross your limits.”…

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/watch-bjp-mla-radha-mohan-das-agarwal-scolds-ips-officer-charu-nigam-tears-725845

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UP Launches Exclusive Ambulance Service For Cows, As Man Carries Son’s Body On His Shoulder (May 3, 2017, Huffington Post)

On Monday, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya flagged off an exclusive ambulance service for cows, the latest among a slew of measures taken to protect the bovine species in the state. Just hours later, a video footage of a man in Etawah, in another part of UP, surfaced, which showed him carrying his 15-year-old son’s lifeless body on his shoulders for lack of an ambulance. The contrast between the two reports could not have been starker.

According to The Hindu, Gauvansh Chikitsa mobile vans were rolled out to ferry ailing or injured cows to gau shalas (cow shelters) and veterinary homes for treatment. To begin with, this service would operate in Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Mathura and Varanasi, in collaboration with the MNREGA Mazdoor Kalyan Sanghathan, an organisation that works with farmers and labourers in the informal sector.

The organisation also threatened to take stringent actions against those who abandon cows after they stop giving milk and against municipal workers, in case the animals are forced to eat plastic off the streets.…

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/05/02/up-launches-exclusive-ambulance-service-for-cows-as-man-carries_a_22064637/

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Hindu Yuva Vahini members accused of killing Muslim (May 3, 2017, The Tribune)

Police have detained four members of Hindu Yuva Vahini, founded by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, on suspicion of killing a Muslim man who had helped an interfaith couple elope, an investigating official said on Wednesday.

A 60-year-old farmer was killed on Tuesday by a mob that included members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini.… Since his appointment, units of the Hindu Yuva Vahini have ramped up their anti-Muslim rhetoric and launched a campaign against so-called “Love Jihad” – what they regard as an Islamist strategy to convert Hindu women through seduction and marriage.…

“The Muslim farmer was beaten to death in a mango orchard after he refused to share the whereabouts of the couple,” said Sharma.…

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/hindu-yuva-vahini-members-accused-of-killing-muslim/401479.html

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Women being kept with criminals in detention camps in Assam: Ajmal (May 3, 2017, India Tomorrow)

Lok Sabha MP and president of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) Maulana Badruddin Ajmal on Tuesday accused the Assam BJP government of harassing a large number of local people raising doubts over their citizenship.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Ajmal, who represents the Muslim-dominated Dhubri constituency of Assam in the Lok Sabha, alleged that government officials come to houses in plain clothes in the night without any female officer and ask women to produce Identity Card. If they fail to do so, then they drag them to vehicles and put in detention camps set up in unknown locations, said Ajmal. He also alleged that in detention camps, women are kept with men who are facing serious criminal charges.

“And no one from outside are allowed to meet these women in the detention camps,” alleged perfume baron AIUDF chief adding that “Thousands of such cases are happening in the state.” “In the current situation, it seems, a certain community speaking a particular language is being targeted,” Ajmal said.…

http://www.indiatomorrow.net/eng/women-being-kept-with-criminals-in-detention-camps-in-assam-ajmal

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‘Dalits should unite, rise against rightist forces’ (May 3, 2017, The Hindu)

The Constitution of India is in danger from rightist forces. It is everyone’s responsibility to save it [the Constitution], Prakash Ambedkar, founder of Dalit Swabhimani Sangarsh Samiti, said in Belagavi on Tuesday. He was speaking at a regional level rally of the samiti. He said that the RSS-backed BJP leaders were trying to destroy the spirit of the Constitution by amending it in such a way that are contrary to its basic principles.

The Constitution drafted by a committee headed by B.R. Ambedkar guarantees right to life and liberty to all. It strives for the equality and opposes discrimination based on caste, creed, gender, religion, region or language. But the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre is trying to divide the country on these lines.…

“It is a wake-up call. Dalits should remember such injustice during the next election and work against the rise of the rightist forces,” he said. He accused the BJP of trying to create a “counter revolution” that was opposed to the social, economic and political revolution promised by the Constitution. He said that the samiti would organise a rally in Bengaluru after Vijayadasami, where a million people would participate.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/dalits-should-unite-rise-against-rightist-forces/article18362493.ece

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Gujarat polls: Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on suspicious EVMs (May 7, 2017, Business Standard)

The Supreme Court has sought response of the Centre and the chief election commissioner on a plea filed [by] a Gujarat Patidar leader seeking the use of either ballot paper or electronic voting machines with paper trail for the upcoming Assembly election in the state.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul issued notice to the Centre, the CEC, the Gujarat government and the state election commission, and sought their response in four weeks. The apex court posted the matter for hearing to the first week of July.

Petitioner Reshma Vithabhai Patel, the convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, which was in the forefront of the Patel quota agitation, claimed that EVMs were not “fully reliable, foolproof, tamper-proof or hacker-proof”.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/gujarat-polls-supreme-court-seeks-centre-s-response-on-suspicious-evms-117050700222_1.html

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Khwaja Yunus custodial death: Policemen beat me like an animal, says eyewitness Mateen (May 3, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Fourteen years after the alleged custodial death of 2002 Ghatkopar blast accused Khwaja Yunus, the eyewitness in the case — Dr Abdul Mateen — deposed before the sessions court on Wednesday. He said the police beat him up “like an animal” in lock-up.

It has taken five years for the trial to begin after the court framed charges in 2012. Mateen, who was picked up by the crime branch with Yunus in December 2002, finally deposed on Wednesday, but the hearing was again adjourned for a month on the defence’s request. Wednesday’s hearing began with the defence raising an objection to Mateen’s deposition.

The defence lawyer said the prosecution had not submitted a case diary (maintained by the investigating officer), which they were asked to, and asked that the court not let the trial begin until it is submitted. The court, however, overruled the objection and proceeded with the trial while asking the prosecution to submit the diary.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/khwaja-yunus-custodial-death-policemen-beat-me-like-an-animal-says-eyewitness-mateen/story-WjgXpb74hIlIG5FAqsgIpI.html

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Opinions and Editorials

Modi Wants to Give Muslim Women Their Rights. So Why Did He Abandon Bilkis in Her Hour of Need? – By Siddharth Varadarajan (May 5, 2017, The Wire)

In a speech last month, Narendra Modi said he wants Muslim women to get the rights promised to them by the constitution. Bilkis Bano is a reminder that he didn’t always want that. Just when the prime minister thought the stain of 2002 was well and truly behind him, the Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of 11 persons for the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and mass murder of 14 Muslims in Limkheda and also convicted the policemen and doctors who attempted to cover up the crime – one of the most heinous to take place during the post-Godhra violence in Gujarat that year.

For the record, Bilkis’s charges were investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, not the Gujarat police, and the trial of the accused was held in Mumbai because the Supreme Court decided a fair trial was not possible in Gujarat.

So what does this have to do with Modi, the BJP is likely to ask, apart from the fact that he happened to be chief minister at the time. After all, the allegation that Modi orchestrated the anti-Muslim violence was probed by a Special Investigation Team set up by the Supreme Court but no evidence of his complicity emerged. The SIT’s controversial findings are being appealed by Zakia Jafri but as matters stand, Modi still has the “clean chit” the SIT gave him in 2013. Only the Gujarat high court, or the Supreme Court, can take that away from him.…

https://thewire.in/132084/bilkis-bano-rape-case-narendra-modi/

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Attacks on India’s minority Muslims by Hindu vigilantes mount – By Sujoy Dhar (May 5, 2017, USA Today)

One April afternoon, a group of men clad in saffron scarves barged into a house in Meerut, 40 miles northeast of here, and dragged out a young Muslim man and a Hindu woman.… Several similar attacks have occurred since March, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose an anti-Muslim firebrand, Yogi Adityanath, to be chief minister of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, the heartland of the nation’s Hindu population.…

Also in April, two dairy farmers returning from a cattle fair in a northern state were attacked by vigilantes, leaving one dead and the other seriously wounded.… India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, said Muslims feel a deep sense of dread since Modi, a fierce Hindu nationalist, took office in 2014.…

“Recent incidents are worrisome,” said Faizul Hasan, the student leader of Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. “We have written letters to the prime minister to honor his commitment to the Muslims that they would be protected and be part of India’s nation building.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/05/05/attacks-indias-minority-muslims-hindu-vigilantes-mount/100951514/

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Modernity or murder, Mr Modi? – By Tavleen Singh (May 7, 2017, Indian Express)

… It is hard to understand why a Prime Minister so passionate about making India a modern, digital, prosperous country has seemingly not noticed that hunting and killing Muslims on the pretext of cows and love jihad does not sit well with modernity. The Prime Minister talks about a ‘new India’ built with the energy of the largest population of young people on the planet. Has he noticed that hunting Muslims is serving mostly to distract these same young Indians from far more important tasks?…

It is cowardice of the worst kind for young men to gang up and kill an old man, so I tweeted against this latest lynching and was immediately subjected to an onslaught of abusive tweets.… What frightens me most is the pride Hindutva tweeters plainly take in every new lynching. They make it clear that the squads of Hindu vigilantes that roam about these days in search of Muslims to kill are in their view heroes avenging centuries of repression by Muslim rulers. Like the cowardly cow vigilantes, these tweeters remain nameless, but from their language it is obvious that many of them are linked directly to the RSS or one of its sister organisations.…

My reason for repeatedly drawing attention to Hindutva violence is because I believe it is motivated not by some twisted nationalism but by uncontainable hatred of Muslims. This hatred is what persuades young Hindus to go out in gangs and hunt for the poorest, most vulnerable Muslims to beat to death. It is true that there have been almost no communal riots in the past three years, but it is also true that there is an insidious new kind of violence that takes the form of hate crimes.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/fifth-column-modernity-or-murder-mr-modi-4644120/

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The RSS idea of India is not just being spread in colleges but among the defence forces too – By Apoorvanand (May 3, 2017, Scroll.in)

It would have been any other government function. The launch of the Vidya Veerta Abhiyan by Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar in the presence of Minister of State for Defence Subhas Bhamre would not have made news in the normal course of events.

Even the presence of Army Vice Chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand along with Rear Admiral Krishen K Pandey and Air marshal HN Bhagwat at a function to launch a programme to honour Indian soldiers would not have caused any flutter. The presence of Bharatiya Janata Party politician and former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak Tarun Vijay at the function would also have been routine.

But there was a problem. The Bharat Mata to which charan vandana – salutations at the feet – was offered by the leaders of our armed forces at this function was no ordinary Bharat Mata. For this Bharat Mata, resting on a lion and holding a saffron flag against the backdrop of a map of India, is the RSS version of Bharat Mata. The map she spreads over is also not the usual, ordinary map of India. One can sense that this is the map of Vrihhtattar Bharat, greater India which extends far beyond the internationally recognised boundaries of what is known as India.…

https://scroll.in/article/836472/the-rss-idea-of-india-is-not-just-being-spread-in-colleges-but-in-defence-forces-too

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Time for trial – By Purnima S. Tripathi (May 12, 2017, Frontline)

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” but sometimes it is better late than never, as in the case of the December 6, 1992, demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by thousands of frenzied kar sevaks gone berserk, which unleashed one of the most horrendous bouts of communal riots in the country. More shocking, perhaps, is the fact that in all these years not one individual who had been at the forefront of the Ram Mandir movement had been held guilty.

The masterminds of the entire episode had got off scot-free, seemingly cocking a snook at the rule of law. In the eyes of the people at large, it was the most despicable mockery of the rule of law because the perpetrators of the crime escaped prosecution, with their influence in the corridors of power seemingly providing them immunity. They went on to become Union Ministers, and in the case of the BJP patriarch L.K. Advani, even Deputy Prime Minister.

But even if it is 25 years late, the political life of Advani more than anybody else has come full circle with the Supreme Court ordering that he and other BJP leaders such as Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar and Uma Bharati, besides some Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Shiv Sena leaders, be tried for criminal conspiracy in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.… It was a crime that shook the very foundation of Indian jurisprudence because the BJP had given solemn affidavits in various forums affirming its commitment to protect the disputed shrine even as a shrill political movement was being woven around it.…

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/time-for-trial/article9663122.ece

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Aadhaar is an electronic leash on citizens – By Kanishk Tharoor (May 4, 2017, Hindustan Times)

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare once asked of roses. The 21st century version of this thorny question is: “What’s in an ID?” With great leaps in digital and biometric technology, the possibility that all individuals can be “known” by states and other institutions has becoming tantalisingly real. Until the coalescence of nation-states in the early 20th century, most people didn’t have ID cards of any kind. Now with over one billion people registered for Aadhaar numbers, India boasts the largest biometric database in the world.

Though wrapped in often opaque and cumbersome legalese, the debate over Aadhaar at the Supreme Court in the past week asks one of the most important questions of our time. In the age of big data, how much should the state know about individuals? It is a classic duel of two rival imperatives: The desire to expand the capacities of the State against the fear of the State developing illiberal powers over individuals.…

Without serious privacy protections, we should be wary of these efforts to make all people known and knowable. They remain ripe for abuse and error (already, lakhs of Aadhaar numbers have been accidentally leaked). Aadhaar will not only grant the State an “electronic leash” on citizens, but also allow corporations to build invasive financial profiles of people’s habits and histories. Why should we either repose faith in private sector whose ultimate interest is its own well-being, or surrender so much trust to state institutions with long traditions of incompetence?

http://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/aadhaar-is-an-electronic-leash-on-citizens/story-b9Q13XUK7aAwRfcUZFmehL.html

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Book Review

Splintered Justice: Living the Horror of Mass Communal Violence in Bhagalpur and Gujarat

Author: Warisha Farasat and Prita Jha
Reviewed by: Kalpana Sharma
Available at: Three Essays Collective, New Delhi: 2016, pp 221, ?500 (paperback). www.amazon.in/
Review:
A Book of Memory and Forgetting (Apr 29, 2017, EPW)

Does anyone even remember the communal violence that tore apart Bhagalpur in Bihar in 1989? According to official estimates, around 250 villages and 50,000 people were affected. The official death toll was estimated to be over 900 although the unofficial toll was higher. It was a familiar story because it had happened before. And since then it has happened again. And will do so in the future.…

Why is it important to record these divisions, these conflicts that recur with such worrying frequency? Would it not be better to erase these memories and look ahead? The writers of this book demonstrate convincingly why incidents of mass violence must be recorded and followed up. If they are not, then history will only remember the version of the victors while the victims will continue to remain voiceless, unheard, without justice.

In this regard, the book under review serves an important purpose. It is a record of the communal killings in Bhagalpur in 1989, and in Gujarat 2002. But instead of going over familiar ground, the authors help us understand the legacy of such mass violence. These recorded memories show us the costs of a broken criminal justice system and the price that victims of mass violence continue to pay for decades.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2017/17/book-reviews/book-memory-and-forgetting.html

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