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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 13th, 2016

by newsdigest on June 23, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Human rights, religious freedom deteriorating in India: Human Rights Watch (Jun 9, 2016, Indian Express)

Observing that the two years of Modi government have resulted in deterioration in human rights and religious freedom in India, rights activists have called for making the issue as part of the US’ regular dialogue with India.

“Progress on human rights in India will continue to falter unless the Modi administration takes better steps to ensure justice and accountability for all citizens, protect vulnerable communities, and protect the free exchange of ideas and dissent,” said John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch.

Lack of effective implementation of laws and policies remain a persistent challenge, Sifton said, during a hearing on “Challenges & Opportunities: The Advancement of Human Rights in India” organised by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Tuesday. Government officials are not held accountable and impunity persists for police and other security personnel who are shielded by laws from being prosecuted for serious human rights abuses, he claimed.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/human-rights-freedom-of-religion-deteriorating-in-india-2843106/

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All eyes on Sanatan Sanstha after ENT specialist’s arrest (Jun 12, 2016, Times of India)

The arrest of Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, an ENT specialist, by CBI on Friday in the murder of rationalist and anti-superstition campaigner Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, has thrown the spotlight once again on Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu right-wing organization headquartered in Ramnathi, Ponda in Goa, about 30km from Panaji.

Tawade joined the sanstha at Kolhapur, Maharashtra and visited Sanstha headquarters in Goa only before 2004, a member of the sanstha claimed adding, he did not visit later.

The sanstha has enjoyed political patronage and support in Goa. Responding to demands for a ban on the organisation in September 2015, Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar had ruled out banning the organisation. Also, wives of two ministers in the coalition BJP government in the state – PWD minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar and craftsmen training minister Pandurang (Deepak) Dhavalikar, both of the Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) are sadhaks of the sanstha, and are said to be actively supporting its activities.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52708332.cms

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Head of Samjhauta Express blasts probe says the Centre is ‘erasing evidence’ in a bid to clear prime suspect Purohit (Jun 7, 2016, Daily Mail)

Vikas Narain Rai, head of the SIT that probed the Samjhauta Express blasts, has accused the government of trying to give Colonel Purohit and the other accused in the case a clean chit.…

The former SIT chief claimed that a concerted attempt was being made to give the accused a clean chit by destroying evidence, cooking up alibis and coercing witnesses.

“Evidence is being erased, witnesses are being forced to turn hostile, documents are being fabricated to help people due to their Right wing linkages,” Rai alleged.…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/article-3630225/Head-Samjhauta-Express-blasts-probe-says-Centre-erasing-evidence-bid-clear-prime-suspect-Purohit.html

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Kairana exodus: BJP list of ‘Hindus’ forced out includes those who died, migrated for better job (Jun 16, 2016, Indian Express)

A list of 346 ‘Hindus’ that BJP MP Hukum Singh claimed had left Kairana in western UP over “threats and extortion by criminal elements belonging to a particular community (read Muslims)” has quite a few discrepancies, an investigation by The Indian Express has found.

While it does have names of some who have left alleging harassment by “gangs”, the list includes names of people who have died, of those who left Kairana more than 10 years ago and still others who say that they migrated for a better school for their children or a better job.

The Indian Express tracked down 22 people who figure in Singh’s list and found five had died, four had moved out of Kairana looking for better opportunities, 10 left more than 10 years ago, three had moved fearing “local criminals”.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/kairana-mass-exodus-shamli-hindu-exodus-akhilesh-yadav-up-elections-bjp-hukum-singh-2851411/

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FIR against Sadhvi Prachi ‘for inciting communal passions’ (Jun 14, 2016, DNA India)

An FIR has been registered against controversial VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi for inciting communal passions, police said on Tuesday.

The FIR was registered against Prachi based on a complaint lodged by Sandeep Kumar of Bahujan Mukti Morcha who alleged that her statement in which she had pitched for a “Muslim free country” in Uttrakhand recently, hurt communal feelings, they said.…

Known for courting controversies, the Sadhvi had claimed the mission of a Congress-free country has already been “accomplished” and it is now time to make India free of Muslims.…

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-fir-against-sadhvi-prachi-for-inciting-communal-passions-2223754

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Right-wing arms training aims at Ram Temple in Ayodhya (Jun 7, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Volunteers of right-wing Hindu groups are getting arms training primarily to prevent and counter terrorist attacks, but the exercise has an additional motive. This is apparently preparation for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya in election-bound Uttar Pradesh.

The Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its women’s wing, Durga Vahini, are conducting self-defence training camps in which members brandish lathis, swords and firearms as part of the routine.

The participants at the camps on the outskirts of Bhopal have been told to be “ready for any situation” that might impede the construction of the temple in Ayodhya.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/bhopal/mp-right-wing-arms-training-aims-at-ram-temple-in-ayodhya/story-nSKaNb9dzRNtVx0cqHMbNL.html

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SC refuses urgent hearing on plea for restrain on statements by AIMPLB (Jun 7, 2016, Indian Express)

Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to give an urgent hearing to a plea seeking direction to restrain the All India Muslim Personal Law Board from giving alleged “misleading messages” to the public till the hearing of a plea on Muslim women’s rights on issues concerning marriage and divorce.

A vacation bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy while declining to give an urgent hearing asked petitioner advocate Farha Faiz, who is also party to the suo motu petition being heard by the apex court, to first respond to the writ petition and then mention the fresh plea for hearing.

Faiz said that direction should be passed to restrain media trial, which is being done on the contentious issue of Muslim women’s rights and members of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) from issuing misleading statements. “How can we stop media trial? Is their any mechanism in any part of the world to stop media trial,” the bench observed.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/all-india-muslim-personal-law-board-triple-talaq-media-trial-urgent-hearing-plea-2839875/

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Lack of documents forcing Muzaffarnagar riot victims to migrate as manual labourers (Jun 9, 2016, Times of India)

Displaced from their homes after the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013, over a thousand men who had first settled in neighbouring Shamli district have slowly migrated to other states such as Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan for employment. Some have even gone as far as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Afkar India Foundation, an organisation working for the rehabilitation of riot victims, said that most displaced families lost all their documents after the riots, which made them ineligible for government schemes. As a result, they have had to migrate to other states and work as labourers.

“After the riots, over 50,000 people were displaced. Around 6,000 families were uprooted from their homes and were forced to shift base. Of these, close to 2,800 families came and settled in the neighbouring Shamli district. Some of these families were from Shamli district itself. It’s been almost three years since the riots and most of these families don’t even have ration cards yet. Many don’t even have water or power connections. They live in deplorable conditions and they resort to manual labour to make ends meet,” said Akram Akhtar, project manager at Afkar India Foundation, an NGO that works for the rehabilitation of riot victims.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52676830.cms

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Sohrabuddin case returns to haunt Amit Shah (Jun 11, 2016, Mid Day)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah is again being linked with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, from which he was discharged in December 2014. A writ petition was filed in the Bombay High Court yesterday claiming that Shah influenced court proceedings to get a clean chit in the case.

The petitioner, Rajesh Kamble, owner of Yash Foundation, in his petition, also claimed that Shah threatened Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin to withdraw the appeal he had filed in HC against Shah’s discharge by a lower court in November 2015. Kamble’s petition will come for hearing next week.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had named Shah as the prime accused in their chargesheet in 2012 in the fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi. CBI had alleged that Shah, the then Gujarat home minister, had hired Sheikh to extort money for him and after they had a fallout, he got him killed in November 2005 and made it look like an encounter.…

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/sohrabuddin-case-returns-to-haunt-amit-shah/17324193

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Protect us from cow vigilante groups, trade hit: Punjab soap industry to police (Jun 12, 2016, Indian Express)

Soap factory owners have requested the Punjab Police to save them from the “ire of cow vigilante groups” who, they claim, are hampering their business in the name of cow protection.

The Indian Express had earlier reported that a number of tankers were impounded by the state police following complaints that they were carrying buffalo tallow mixed with cow tallow. The complaints were filed by cow vigilante groups like Gau Raksha Dal (GRD).

On June 6, representatives from soap units had met with Punjab DGP Suresh Arora and demanded that the police stopped harassing them.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/protect-us-from-cow-vigilante-groups-trade-hit-punjab-soap-industry-to-police/

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Opinions and Editorials

Finding judicial closure in Gulbarg – Editorial (Jun 3, 2016, The Hindu)

…After the SIT gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi and repudiated allegations by Ehsan Jafri’s widow that, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he had instructed the police to let the mob run riot, the Gulbarg Society case became a rallying point for those pleading that the Modi administration be implicated in the riots. The SIT included a police inspector and a BJP councillor in the charge sheet, but both are among the 36 now acquitted.

The prosecution was unable to prove any conspiracy behind the communal violence with the court finding insufficient evidence of pre-planning, never easy to establish in a case such as this. The collapse of the conspiracy angle does not imply an acceptance of the narrative that the Gujarat riots were an angry, reflexive response to the Godhra train carnage. The lines between spontaneity and subtle orchestration are hard to delineate.

Likewise, there is a difficulty in assessing the varying degree of moral culpability between commission and wilful omission. It would be well to remember this as the Gujarat riot cases reach their judicial closure.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/finding-judicial-closure-in-gulbarg/article8682578.ece

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The ghost of Malegaon – By Harsh Mander (Jun 9, 2016, Indian Express)

…I spoke to Noor-ul-Huda, a power-loom worker who was the first to be arrested. He said these 10 years had destroyed his health, his dignity, his reputation, and his family. “Who can return these years to me?”… The initial breakthrough was achieved by tracing the owner of the motorcycle to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a former ABVP activist. Even more sensational was the alleged role of a serving Army officer Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay in the conspiracy. Others indicted were sadhus and mahants, as well as persons associated with the Sangh affiliates like the Bajrang Dal, belonging to a shadowy organisation Abhinav Bharat, named after the terror-based formation established by V. D. Savarkar in 1904.

These arrests and investigations further uncovered the role of the Abhinav Bharat and other Hindutva organisations in several other terror attacks, including the Malegaon blasts of 2006 and 2008, the explosions in the Samjhauta Express, the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Bajrang Dal activists were found manufacturing bombs in makeshift factories in Nanded, Kanpur, Bhopal and Goa.

What lay exposed was a deeply worrying communal mindset in India’s police and security establishment. Clear leads pointing to Hindutva terror groups were ignored; instead, trans-border Islamist groups were blamed, and Indian Muslim men arrested under terror laws, tortured and forced to sign “confessions”.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/malegaon-blast-case-mumbai-hemnat-karkare-islamist-terror-hindutva-terror-2841902/

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The BJP’s Defensiveness on ‘Kairana Exodus’ Exposes its Hindutva Agenda – By Sharat Pradhan (Jun 15, 2016, The Wire)

When its veteran leader and member of parliament Hukum Singh spoke about an ‘exodus’ of Hindus from Kairana, his pocket of western Uttar Pradesh, it was evident that the Bharatiya Janata Party was up to its old games. The suspicion that his words were yet another attempt to arouse Hindu passions turned out to be true.… The problem was clearly criminal in nature, and demonstrative of what happens in large parts of the state, which is known to some as the “wild west”. …

The BJP’s urge to engage in the politics of polarisation must be understood in the context of the Muzaffarnagar riots, which worked to its benefit in 2014. Over the past two years, while the party has been in power in the Centre, the flame of polarisation has been kept burning through issues like ‘love jihad’, ‘ghar wapsi’ and ‘beef politics’, which were played up repeatedly in Dadri.

With the realisation that Ayodhya had outlived its vote potential, these ideas brewed in the saffron ranks. That the BJP has repeatedly taken these issues to the extreme reflects its failure to move beyond Hindutva – which Shah perhaps considers indispensable to the party’s poll agenda, even as Modi discreetly shuns it. The double-speak apparently aims to appeal to the multitudes who believe in Modi’s aspirational politics, while also keeping the party’s traditional vote bank in good humour.

http://thewire.in/2016/06/15/hukum-singhs-defensiveness-on-the-kairana-exodus-exposes-the-bjps-hindutva-agenda-42897/

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The ban on cow slaughter – By A.G. Noorani (Jun 24, 2016, Frontline)

The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, received the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee on March 4, 2015. For 20 years, none of his predecessors in office thought it fit to accord the assent.…

If the history of the Constituent Assembly’s adoption of the pertinent provisions of the Constitution on the subject is recalled, it will be seen that a monumental fraud has been perpetrated on the clear intent of the framers of the Constitution by the champions of a ban on cow slaughter.…

Article 48 was conceived in deceit and executed through fraud. Bhargava’s two assurances – “without using any sort of coercion” and he did not want that “non-Hindus should complain that they have been forced to accept a certain thing against their will” – were flouted by the man himself in his pleas to the Supreme Court. And as for the record of the Supreme Court of India on cow slaughter bans, the less said the better.

http://www.frontline.in/social-issues/the-ban-on-cow-slaughter/article8700526.ece

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RSS is not just antithetical to Muslims, but to a democratic-secular India as well – By Shamsul Islam (Jun 10, 2016, Indian Express)

JS Bandukwala, a renowned academician, thinker and fighter for communal harmony in India has rightly expressed his anguish on the deteriorating relationship between RSS and Indian Muslims which must be a cause of serious concern for all those who wish a happy and prosperous India (‘I forgive, I hope’, IE May 27, 2016).

This aspect becomes enormously critical in a situation where RSS cadres are ruling India. I am afraid his take that RSS has problems with Muslims or vice versa is over-simplification of a far more serious issue. The future of Muslims or common Indians, 80.5% of whom are Hindus, depends on the survival of democratic-secular polity. It is more a critical issue for 135 million….

A country where 5-6% population controls 65% of the national wealth, an egalitarian constitution only can provide hope to the poor whether Muslims or Hindus. Unfortunately, RSS is committed ideologically to undo it.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/blogs/rss-is-not-just-antithetical-to-muslims-but-to-a-democratic-secular-india-as-well-2845298/

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Two years and waiting – By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Jun 24, 2016, Frontline)

…Sangh Parivar activists admit that central to the political dip and the consequent sense of incertitude about its prospects is the gap between the promises and performance of the Modi government. It is 80 per cent rhetoric and 20 per cent implementation, they say. An analysis by independent experts and members of the Frontline team of different sectors of the economy and governance in the past two years underscores this perception.…

Panwar’s observation has many takers across the political spectrum, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and S.P. leader Akhilesh Yadav. “Modi and the BJP use glitzy propaganda laden with empty rhetoric to cover up governance failures and parallelly unleash communal aggression and intolerance to polarise people.…

These are indeed brave and confident words, and political observers like Panwar say that this could well be the reality. However, they wonder what price the people will have to pay before they deliver a lasting rebuttal to the authoritarian and fascist tendencies of the current regime.

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/two-years-and-waiting/article8700511.ece

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Book Review

Communal Violence, Forced Migration and the State: Gujarat since 2002

Author: Sanjeevini Badigar Lokhande
Reviewed by: Rudolf C Heredia
Available at: Cambridge University Press India Private Limited, 4843/24, 2nd Floor, Ansari Road Daryaganj, New Delhi – 110002, 2015; pp xii + 215, price not indicated. http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Rehabilitating Riot Victims (Jun 11, 2016, EPW)

…Gujarat has a history of such communal riots, chauvinistically used to consolidate vote banks. The post-Godhra violence in 2002 escalated out of control into a planned state-sponsored pogrom. This book examines the social, cultural and economic costs of the forced migration, and the disrupting displacement in its aftermath, which turns rights-bearing citizens into homeless refugees.

The author begins by setting the context of the study with a description of “Demography and Population Movements in Gujarat” (p 21). The state’s development model has for decades accentuated relative inequalities. Continuing communal conflicts have segregated communities, ghettoised Muslims in cities like Ahmedabad. Once it was in power, the Bharatiya Janata Party took advantage of this to make the state a laboratory for its Hindu nationalist agenda.…

This study is a competent description and an incisive analysis of the aftermath of the pogrom of 2002 in the state. It implies sharp questions to the parties and politicians responsible. Is this the “good governance” so repeatedly proclaimed by them? Acche din aane wale hain! (Good times are here!) Can we expect more of the same now that the same people are in power at the centre? Will the Gujarat model be re-enacted on a national level and bring bure din (hard times) on a national scale, especially for the minorities and the marginalised? Will Gandhi’s “least and last Indian” find respect and security there? The Bihar elections of October–November 2015 has given a decisive answer to this kind of saffron neo-liberalism. Its people have spoken, they must now be heard by all concerned about a collective future as a decent and fair society, and not as aggressive and partisan.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/24/book-reviews/rehabilitating-riot-victims.html

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 29th, 2016

by newsdigest on March 6, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

AUDIO: Muslims warned of ‘final battle’ at Sangh Parivar meeting, MoS Katheria says ‘we’ve to show our strength’ (Mar 1, 2016, Indian Express)

Muslims were equated to “demons” and “descendants of Ravana”, and warned of a “final battle”, as the Sangh Parivar Sunday held a condolence meeting here for VHP worker Arun Mahaur, who was killed last week allegedly by some Muslim youths. Among those present on the dais were Union Minister of State, HRD, and BJP Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria as well as the BJP’s Fatehpur Sikri MP Babu Lal, apart from other party local leaders, who joined in the threats to Muslims.

Speaker after speaker urged Hindus to “corner Muslims and destroy the demons (rakshas)”, while declaring that “all preparations” had been made to effect “badla (revenge)” before the 13th-day death rituals for Mahaur. “Human skulls would be offered to his martyrdom,” VHP district secretary Ashok Lavania, who has been jailed earlier for assaults on Muslims, said.

Talking about the coming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, local BJP MLA Jagan Prasad Garg told the crowd, “You will have to fire bullets, you will have to take up rifles, you will have to wield knives. Elections are approaching in 2017, begin showing your strength from now onwards.” The 5,000-odd crowd chanted slogans such as “Jis Hindu ka khoon na khaule, khoon nahin wo pani hai (the Hindu who doesn’t get angry isn’t Hindu enough)”. VHP general secretary Surendra Jain and Bajrang Dal leaders were also present at the meeting, that was held under heavy security.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/muslims-warned-of-final-battle-at-sangh-meet-mos-katheria-says-weve-to-show-our-strength/

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34 US lawmakers express concerns over violence against minorities, write to Modi (Feb 28, 2016, Hindustan Times)

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 34 US lawmakers have expressed “grave concerns” over “increasing intolerance and violence” against members of minority communities in India.

“Our strong support of this partnership (India-US partnership) encourages us to relay our grave concerns about the increasing intolerance and violence members of India’s religious minority communities experience,” said the lawmakers in a letter sent Friday.

“We urge your government to take immediate steps to ensure that the fundamental rights of religious minorities are protected and that the perpetrators of violence are held to account.” The letter released by The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan caucus of the House of Representatives, was signed by eight senators and 26 members of the House, from both parties.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/us-lawmakers-concerned-over-violence-against-minorities-write-to-modi/story-jH77rPa8sEv566H2wh0ZFK.html

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GK Pillai claims intel mole lured Ishrat group to Gujarat, UPA faces heat (Feb 27, 2016, Indian Express)

Former Union Home Secretary G K Pillai’s admission that the June 2004 killing of Ishrat Jahan and three other alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in Gujarat, under the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was the result of an intelligence entrapment operation could lead to the questioning of key figures in the UPA’s security establishment, an authoritative intelligence source familiar with the case has told The Indian Express.

“If Pillai is correct in saying that the alleged terrorists were lured to India by the Intelligence Bureau,” the official said, “then it stands to reason that those involved in this operation would have more than passing knowledge of the circumstances of their death.”

Then Intelligence Bureau chief K P Singh and former Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu, then joint director in charge of counter-terrorism operations, both had a direct role in the operation, the source said. Former West Bengal governor M K Narayanan, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s advisor on internal security, was also briefed on the course of the operation.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/intelligence-mole-lured-ishrat-jahan-group-to-gujarat-former-union-home-secretary-g-k-pillai/

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‘Were Your Men Sleeping?’ Cops Asked To Explain JNU Hearing Violence (Feb 28, 2016, NDTV)

Confronted by a team of lawyers sent by the Supreme Court, policemen failed to explain the violence that erupted for the second time at Delhi’s Patiala House Courts last week, when arrested JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar was assaulted while being produced for his hearing.

In a video filmed by Haren Rawal, one of the lawyers sent to the court last Wednesday for a ground assessment, Kanhaiya Kumar stated that he was brutally assaulted. “I was punched, kicked, thrown to the ground,” he said. The man who attacked him was then allowed to walk away by policemen in the court, the 28-year-old student and a professor from JNU said, which drew furious reactions from the group of six senior lawyers.

“How do you allow the attack to take place in court premises? Your men are posted everywhere? So what were they doing? Sleeping?” – the video shows a policeman being asked in front of the panel that included senior advocates Rajeev Dhawan, Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave and Haren Rawal. “How can he (the attacker) go away from the court premises? Do your men have instructions not to intervene?” – bombarded by these questions, the policemen appeared to squirm and mumble.…

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/were-your-men-sleeping-cops-asked-to-explain-jnu-court-violence-1281867

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Lucknow University professor shares piece on Umar Khalid, ABVP burns effigy, blocks classes (Feb 25, 2016, Indian Express)

Students affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) disrupted classes at the Lucknow University (LU) on Wednesday to protest against a professor who shared an article, “Umar Khalid, my son”, that appeared in The Indian Express on February 23, on his Facebook page.

The article was written by columnist and Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand. Snapshots of Professor Rajesh Misra’s Facebook page, on which he had shared the article, were circulated on campus through social media.

The students protested outside the Sociology Department, where Misra teaches, burnt his effigy, and demanded action against him. The ABVP student leaders also submitted a memorandum to Vice-Chancellor S B Nimse.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/jnu-agitation-lucknow-university-professor-shares-piece-on-umar-khalid-abvp-burns-effigy-blocks-class/

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JNU Row: Smriti’s Durga Puja Reference Causes Uproar in Parliament (Feb 25, 2016, New Indian Express)

For the second straight day, HRD Minister Smriti Irani today made a strong defence of the government’s actions with regard to JNU issue and suicide of Dalit student in Hyderabad University in the face of intense attack by the opposition which alleged that attempts were being made to suppress dissent.…

Her reply to a short duration discussion, however, was cut short as the House was abruptly adjourned after uproar over her certain comments which she made while alleging that some elements in JNU had published derogatory pamphlets about Goddess Durga.

As she narrated the descriptive details of the pamphlets, Anand Sharma of Congress took objection, saying it could set a precedent and in future somebody else could repeat it with regard to Gods of other religions.…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/JNU-Row-Smritis-Durga-Puja-Reference-Causes-Uproar-in-Parliament/2016/02/25/article3296776.ece

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Threats for foreign academics supporting JNU protests (Feb 28, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Foreign academics supporting the JNU students’ protest received threatening letters and emails. Rohan D’ Souza, a professor at the graduate school of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, said, “Many of my colleagues abroad who have signed statements in support of JNU have received generic letters threatening them.”

One letter written from Toronto was titled ‘Direct response to your stupidity in signing that solidarity statement with Kanhaiya Kumar’.

“I am writing you directly to highlight your stupidity and naivete in signing that solidarity statement with the JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and others charged with sedition earlier this month,” it said. The letter even dubs the academics as forces “breaking India”.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/threats-for-foreign-academics-supporting-jnu-protests/story-Awyx7cNeTmuEeeexMv1pkJ.html

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SIT officer breaks silence: Ishrat killing was premeditated murder (Mar 3, 2016, Indian Express)

Breaking his silence on the Ishrat Jahan case, Satish Verma, the IPS officer who assisted the CBI probe into the alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004, on Wednesday said her killing was a “premeditated murder”.

“Our investigation has found that Ishrat along with three others had been picked by IB (Intelligence Bureau) days before the encounter. In fact, there was no intelligence input with the IB that a woman would be accompanying the alleged terrorists. There was no input on Ishrat. These people were kept in illegal custody and then shot dead,” Verma told The Indian Express.…

Mumbra girl Ishrat was killed along with three men on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. It was alleged that they were members of a Lashkar-e-Toiba group. Last week, former Home Secretary G K Pillai told Times Now that the alleged Lashkar group was lured by the IB to Gujarat in 2004.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/ishrat-jahan-killing-was-premeditated-murder-sit-officer/

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‘Cops told us to be quiet for sake of honour’: Survivors of Murthal describe their gangrape ordeal (Feb 29, 2016, First Post)

Amid continuous police denial, two victims came forward and described the ordeal they suffered on the Murthal highway on the evening of 22 February when Jat protesters – who were agitating to press the government to accept their demand for reservation in government jobs – allegedly assaulted them sexually along with several others. They also disclosed the conspiracy of silence hatched by the cops, who allegedly discouraged them from reporting the matter ‘for the sake of their honour’.

Keeping in view the safety and privacy of the victims (as per their request), their locations have been withheld. “Along with my husband, I was on way back to home from Delhi when our bus was stopped by the rioters a kilometre away from Sukhdev Dhaba (a famous eatery). My husband and I, along with several others were dragged out and taken to a lonely roadside field, where I was gangraped till the time I lost consciousness. The other women in the bus met the same fate. …,” the 27-year-old victim told Firstpost.

Asked why she did not file an FIR, she said the priority for her and her husband was to save themselves first and leave the place. “Even worse, we were advised by the officials there not to report the matter for the sake of honour, because what has happened could not be undone,” she added.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/cops-told-us-to-be-quiet-for-sake-of-honour-survivors-of-murthal-describe-their-gangrape-ordeal-2647758.html

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Rohith’s mother has a request for Smriti Irani: Stop spreading lies (Feb 27, 2016, Indian Express)

Mother of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit student who committed suicide at Hyderabad University last month, has accused Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani of spreading “blatant lies” in Parliament about the events surrounding her son’s death.

Addressing a press conference along with Rohith’s brother Raja and friend Dontha Prashant, Radhika responded to several observations that Irani had made and urged her to “end her spree of misrepresenting facts”.…

On Friday, Radhika said the BJP would be “decimated to the ground” if Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not intervene and take action against Irani and her Cabinet colleague Bandaru Dattatreya, who had written multiple letters to her seeking action against Rohith, alleging anti-national activities.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/smriti-irani-resorted-to-blatant-lies-in-parliament-rohith-vemulas-mother/

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Opinions and Editorials

A Danger to Democracy – By Rajinder Sachar (Feb 24, 2016, The Citizen)

There is a figurative way of attributing intense stupidity to an individual or a political party in the idiom, ‘He is own worst enemy’. This occurred to me by the idiotic way BJP Central Government has handled the recent student protest at JNU.…

Since then, it is quite clear that this incident at JNU is being exploited by the BJPs dirty tricks campaign cell to malign the opponents of BJP and cause permanent danger to the internationally respected University. The latest rowdyism and violence by B.J.P. affiliated lawyers in even threatening Lady Journalists and even beating Students and in not allowing the court proceedings at Patiala House is shameful .

To add further shame, Seniors Advocates sent by Supreme Court are abused and not allowed to carry out its mandate. Hard to believe this conduct of juniors lawyers could have been done excepting at the mandate of BJP high ups to defile our judicial system. Would Government consider such acts as treason and take action (not according to my view of law) but on same view taken by the government in J.N.U. case.…

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/1/6954/A-DANGER-TO-DEMOCRACY

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My father was in RSS, why I dread men in khakhi knickers – By N Jayaram (Feb 25, 2016, Dailyo.in)

After watching the last of the films I had chosen to during the recently-ended Bangalore International Film Festival, I was walking back home and on a large playground southeast of the mall where the week-long event was held, I felt what struck me as something akin to dread and even terror.

An RSS man, khaki knicker-clad, was standing and addressing a group of about 35 to 40 young boys, including some who seemed to be five- or six-year-olds seated on the bare ground. As I walked by, on the road, some distance above the playground, I could make out some faint sounds of chants or prayers.

Why do I say “dread” and “terror”? The thought that lingered in me was this: apart from prayers and stuff, what sort of Hindutva poison – and how venomous – was he funnelling into those young kids? As a late riser and not given to morning walks, I am spared the sight of RSS “shakhas”. And so this was a relatively unusual spectacle for me even though I am aware that tens of thousands, if not more, of such “shakhas” plague many parts of India.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/rss-hindutva-sangh-parivar-fascism-jnu-nationalism-patriotism-mahatma-gandhi/story/1/9226.html

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Smriti Irani humiliates AMU’s VC, adamant to close down all Aligarh Muslim University Centres – By Zafarul-Islam Khan (Feb 29, 2016, Milli Gazette)

With a delegation of Kerala ministers and MPs, Kerala Chief Minister Mr. Oommen Chandy met HRD Minister Smriti Irani in her office in Delhi on 8 January seeking her support for the AMU Centre in Malappuram which is not progressing as planned. According to a reliable source, she told them bluntly, “This centre and other AMU centres were established without any legal sanction, hence they all will be closed down.”

She added, “How you start a centre like this?…What authority the VC has to take such an action. We are not going to give money.” She went on to say, “There was no need for the AMU centres. I am going to close them down. We will not give any grant for this purpose.” The Kerala CM told her, we have allocated 345 acres of precious land in Perinthalmanna taluk of Malappuram for this purpose on the understanding that a full-fledged AMU centre will function there. “Take it back!” the HRD minister thundered.

While this unpleasant discussion was on between the HRD Minister and Kerala CM-led delegation, the AMU Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen (retd) Zameeruddin Shah entered the room. Irani asked him bluntly: “Why have you come?” He politely replied, “Ma’am, I have come at the invitation of the Kerala Chief Minister.” She shot back in anger: “Who pays your salary? Kerala CM or the HRD Ministry? Go back and sit in your room!” The humiliated VC made a hasty retreat while a stunned CM and his delegation looked on in utter disbelief.…

http://www.milligazette.com/news/13827-smriti-irani-humiliates-amu-s-vc-adamant-to-close-down-all-aligarh-muslim-university-centres

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Asatyameva Jayate: Long Live Joseph Goebbels – By Anand Teltumbde (Mar 2, 2016, Countercurrents)

…Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly twitted ‘Satyameva Jayate’ on the stunning performance of his poster girl, Smriti Irani, the union Human Resources Development Minister, in the Lok Sabha defending herself and his government in the matters of attack on Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) in Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and radical students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students Union.…

What Irani did was no better than one of her television performances as a Hindu bahu. It was more of a drama than confronting the serious issues she herself created. It characteristically reflected insensitivity of the regime to the tragedy it unleashed on people and disdain to India’s democratic institutions including the Parliament itself. Most importantly, all that she said was either irrelevant or pure lies.… In the wake of forthcoming elections in five states, viz., Assam, Kerala, Puduchery, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which are likely in April-May, and in the UP and Punjab early next year, the BJP wants to intensify its pet stratagem of polarizing people on communal lines.

The strategy is to use Goebbles’ methods more intensely and deploy storm troopers to execute it. Satyamev Jayate etc. are part of this Goebblesque theorem; the Hindutva camp never cared for what truth is. As its history shows, this strategy alone has worked for it.… With BJP’s non-performance, the situation has come full circle to normalcy, warranting the use of weapons in its arsenal. The year ahead is going to see some calamitous spells of this strategy in terms of communal conflagrations, the scientists of Gujarat Laboratories being at the helm!

http://www.countercurrents.org/teltumbde020316.htm

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Haryana Jat Stir for Jobs Cuts Into Propaganda of ‘Nationalism’ – Editorial (Feb 23, 2016, The Citizen)

The Jat stir that has paralysed Haryana is perhaps one of the most important developments in recent months. The violence is of course, one aspect of the stir but the reasons that provoked the largely young people of the state to come out in protest – the Jats when they protest are traditionally violent – and challenge the Army at a time when the BJP/RSS was seeking to push economic disaffection under the carpet with ‘nationalist’ slogans centred around JNU of course, sends out a significant and important message.

The demand for reservation is basically a demand for jobs and education. A statement from disaffected groups, be it the Jats in Haryana, the Patels in Gujarat or the Kapus in Andhra Pradesh, that they want reservation as that is the only way they can get education and employment. It is a clear sign of an economy breaking down, of growing frustration and lawlessness amongst unemployed youth that is watching the world pass them by, with the violence intended to make the government that has fallen silent after a hectic Lok Sabha campaign promising the moon, hear and respond.

The Haryana Jats took to the streets just as the national versus anti-national polarisation by the right wing was at its peak. And the stakeholders, including the media, were high on the belief that finally the slogan was working to split society with the choice defined by the limited intellect, being made inevitable. This strong campaign should have had an impact on Haryana where the Jats have been often veered to the right in their responses to issues as the state runs into Delhi, with Gurgaon being common to both in the National Capital Region. Instead, the Jats disregarded the campaign and made it clear through the stir that is still on, that for them employment was the real concern. And this is the voice that can be expected to rise from all quarters as the economy slows down, and the government’s energy moves into battling students instead of addressing the real issues concerning their future.…

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/1/6951/Haryana-Jat-Stir-for-Jobs-Cuts-Into-Propaganda-of-Nationalism

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Orwellian Nightmare – Editorial (Feb 27, 2016, EPW)

George Orwell fictionalised the “surveillance state” in 1984; Edward Snowden convincingly proved it to be a reality in the United States (US) in 2013. With the Narendra Modi government’s plan to set up a National Media Analytics Centre (NMAC), India seems well on the way to following the lead given by the US.

According to newspaper reports, the National Security Council Secretariat proposes setting up the NMAC to monitor and analyse blogs, web portals of television channels and newspapers, as well as social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In some ways this is a duplication of the New Media Wing, set up under the previous government in 2013, which sends daily reports to the government on what is appearing in social media on government policies.

Where the NMAC will go farther, and deeper, is that it will not just monitor social media but will actively counter “negative” news about the government. To do this, it has on hand special software developed to track “negative,” “neutral” and “positive” posts on social media. All ministries have already been instructed to set up quick response teams to defend themselves against so-called “negative” news. The software will also help track the individual blogger or person posting on social media sites, the number of times this person has posted negative or positive material, his/her website preferences and whether any of these websites are those that seek to foment trouble or radicalise the viewer. The feedback from such monitoring would be passed on to security agencies.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/9/editorials/orwellian-nightmare.html

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Book Review

Offend, Shock, or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution

Author: Gautam Bhatia
Reviewed by: K. Venkataramanan
Available at: Oxford University Press Distribution Services, North Kettering Business Park, Hipwell Road, Kettering, Northants, NN14 1UA. http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
How free can free speech be? (Feb 28, 2016, The Hindu)

A decade ago, Tamil Nadu was as agog about a looming threat to freedom of speech and a pervasive atmosphere of intolerance as the entire country is at the moment. Assorted groups of Tamil nationalists, protectors and preservers of Tamil culture were policing the opinions of public figures, especially from the film industry. Open threats, street demonstrations and waving of footwear and broomsticks indicated that supposedly offended Tamil society was out to protect its culture from prurient attacks.…

Gautam Bhatia would classify such curbs as instances of ‘legal paternalism’ or ‘legal moralism’. For, according to this author of a lucid and detailed examination of the law of free speech in India (Offend, Shock, or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution, Oxford University Press, Rs.750), Indian free speech jurisprudence has two broad approaches – ‘moral-paternalistic’, a view that sees people as inherently corruptible and prone to violence and who cannot be trusted with too much freedom, and ‘liberal-autonomous’, an approach that sees people as individuals capable of making decisions on their own lives and one that allows only limited restrictions on what they can speak, see or hear.

Does not our Constitution guarantee all of us freedom of speech and expression? If both freedom and its curtailment are in an everlasting delicate balance, what exactly is our free speech philosophy? If freedom is related to politics and democracy, does it come under political philosophy? Or is it moral philosophy concerning the individual and the human self? “We need a theory, or theories of free speech,” says Bhatia. The theoretical framework for his analysis of the evolution of free speech jurisprudence covers a vast expanse. Free speech is a means to the truth; a pursuit of individual self-fulfilment and an important means by which democratic self-governance is made possible, he argues.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/how-free-can-free-speech-be/article8289947.ece

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 15th, 2016

February 26, 2016

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

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 25th, 2014

August 26, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines RSS is threat to the nation, says MPCC Activists demand FIR against Bhagwat over Hindu comment PUCL seeks probe into inflammatory Rajasthan police intelligence note 567 FIRs, countless promises later, riot victims still wait for justice Quarrel between children sparks communal clashes in Hapur Woman killed in […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 10th, 2013

March 11, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines I hope for justice: daughter of Ehsan Jafri, 2002 riot victim A Warning For Siddharth Varadarajan Himachal BJP MP booked, caught taking cash on camera NHRC ‘indicts’ home ministry, cops for Delhi encounter NHRC issues notices to MHA, Delhi Police on wrongful confinement of youth in […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 24th, 2014

February 25, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Modi failed to announce relief for Gujarat Sikhs: Partap Singh Bajwa Naroda Patiya massacre case: SC dismisses Maya Kodnani’s bail application NHRC seeks report on man’s custodial death in Odisha 26/11 call record issue may suffer under Maria: Martyr’s wife ‘Baig clean chit puts question mark […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 3rd, 2014

February 4, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Not possible to forget Modi’s role in 2002 riots: Congress Sohrabuddin Case: SC Notice to Amit Shah and Other Accused Saffron terror attacks: Swami Aseemanand implicates RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat Andhra Christian leaders demand govt. to ban Hindu Vahini 1984 riots: Court queries police on destruction […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 18th, 2013

November 19, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony The unsung heroes of Muzaffarnagar – an untold story News Headlines Gujarat riots return to haunt Modi as US writers brand him ‘the poster child of India’s failure to punish the violent’ US Republicans deny they invited Modi to address party Congressional leaders Snooping charges leveled […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 11th, 2013

November 12, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Godhra is a stain on Narendra Modi, Vajpayee’s niece says Patel would not have recognized Modi as ideological heir: Rajmohan Gandhi CBI to spread net, may trouble Narendra Modi 3 RSS men held for CPM worker’s murder Several Hindu youths arrested for Patna serial bomb blasts […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 19th, 2013

August 20, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines HC confirms conviction of 9 for post-Godhra riots Hindu supremacist Narendra Modi should not be invited to the Commons Narendra Modi’s attack on PM on I-day leaves some BJP leaders squirming CBI finds common link in Haren Pandya murder, Ishrat encounter Karat sees BJP, RSS role […]

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