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Sanjiv Bhatt

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 30th, 2014

by newsdigest on July 1, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Bhatt accuses Nanavati panel of misleading HC (Jun 25, 2014, Indian Express)

Accusing the Nanavati-Mehta Commission, appointed by the Gujarat government, of misleading the Gujarat HC on the issue related to inspection of intelligence records pertaining to the 2002 riots, suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt wrote to the Commission Monday to take appropriate measures to clarify the “misrepresentation” before the HC.

The issue pertains to a related to Bhatt’s demand to inspect some documents. On June 16, a division bench of the HC had ordered the Commission probing the 2002 riots to let Bhatt inspect at least 38 documents since the state had stated that nine of those documents had been “destroyed” by it.

But when Bhatt went to inspect the documents at the office of the Commission in Ahmedabad, the Commission did not allow him to inspect them. Accordingly, on June 18, the Commission moved a review petition before the HC, seeking to quash the June 16 order.


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Trend of intolerance towards dissent under Modi: Amnesty calls for decriminalization of free speech (Jun 27, 2014, Counterview)

In an important submission before the Law Commission of India, the Amnesty International India has insisted on the need to undertake critical legal reforms to better defend the right to free speech. Saying that this is important against the backdrop of a “growing trend of intolerance towards dissent and criticism” in the recent weeks, elucidating the submission, Amnesty’s senior policy adviser Shailesh Rai said, “Authorities have shown a worrying eagerness to arrest and detain people for the lawful exercise of their constitutional rights to free speech, especially when it concerns the new Prime Minister.”

Giving reasons for the submission, Rai said, “In May 2014, police in Bangalore arrested a man for sending a photograph on his phone depicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a funeral pyre. The same month, police in Panaji, Goa filed a First Information Report against a man who said in an online post that if Narendra Modi came to power, it would lead to a holocaust.”

Rai added, “In both cases, police relied partly on section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which criminalises online communication that is ‘grossly offensive’, and persistent sending of information known by the sender to be false, to cause ‘annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will”.

Rai further said, “In June, police arrested students and staff at a college in Kunnamkulam, Kerala, over an article that featured the Prime Minister in a list of ‘negative faces’ in a college magazine. The next week, police in Guruvayur, Kerala arrested students and staff at a different college over a crossword puzzle that used derogatory language to refer to the Prime Minister and other political leaders.In both cases, the police said that the expressions amounted to criminal defamation, among other offences”.

“While these expressions may be offensive to some, they certainly do not merit arrests and criminal cases,” said Rai, adding, “Unfortunately, some Indian laws, including those on defamation and online speech, fall short of international standards on freedom of expression and enable the criminalizing of opinion. The government must act to urgently amend these laws.” Amnesty’s submission follows the Law Commission of India’s request for comments in May 2014 on a consultation paper on aspects of media laws. …


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Days after he pulled up Amit Shah, CBI judge shifted (Jun 26, 2014, Indian Express)

Days after special CBI judge J T Utpat pulled up BJP general secretary Amit Shah for failing to make an appearance before the court hearing the case pertaining to the alleged fake encounter of Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat in December 2006, the judge received his transfer order on Wednesday.

Sessions judge Utpat, who was transferred to Pune, has been replaced by judge B H Loya. The transfer order came on the day the special CBI court was expected to pass an order on the discharge application filed by Shah, a close aide of prime minister Narendra Modi and one of the key accused in the alleged fake encounter case.

When contacted, Utpat declined to comment. Registrar general of the Bombay High Court Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi told The Indian Express that the High Court had acceded to a request made by Utpat towards the end of May or early June.

“He had made a representation to the High Court for a transfer to Pune because of his daughter’s education. We often get such requests from judicial officers who seek transfers because of personal or family reasons,” Joshi said. She said apart from Utpat, three other judges had also been transferred.


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Gopal Subramanium opts out, attacks Narendra Modi government, cites Amit Shah case (Jun 25, 2014, Financial Express)

Eminent lawyer Gopal Subramanium today opted out of being considered for appointment as Supreme Court judge after lashing out at the Narendra Modi government accusing it of ordering CBI to “scrounge” for “dirt” against him to scuttle his elevation. Subramanium, who had assisted the Supreme Court in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in which Amit Shah, a close aide of Prime Minister Narender Modi is now an accused, said that he was being “targeted” because of his independence and integrity.

He suggested that his role as amicus curiae, a friend of the court, in the Sohrabuddin case, could have been the reason for government opposing his elevation, although he had no direct evidence. Subramanium, a former Solicitor General, sent a 9-page letter to the Chief Justice of India R M Lodhawithdrawing his consent to be appointed as a judgesaying that he did not want his elevation to be “the subject matter of any politicisation”.

His name had been recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court bench by its collegium along with three others, Chief Justices of Calcutta and Odisha High Courts Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goyal respectively and senior advocate Rohinton Nariman. Recent reports have suggested the NDA government’s reluctance to Subramanium’s appointment while it is said to have cleared the other three names. The CBI and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) are said to have given adverse reports against him.

Subramanium said that he had been informed by the Chief Justice on May 15 that he had been given a clean chit by both IB and CBI.But in the past two weeks media reports had spoken about alleged adverse reports against him by the two agencies. The events of the past few weeks “have raised serious doubts in my mind as to the ability of the executive government to appreciate and respect the independence, integrity, and the glory of the judicial institution”, he wrote to the Chief Justice, adding, “I do not expect this attitude to improve with time”.

He said that he had never met Modi except once when he was the Solicitor General and the former was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He had been greeted “with a measure of respect” by Modi who had invited him and his wife to Gujarat as his guests of honour although he had not availed of that hospitality. Subramanium said that he had never met Amit Shah and had only seen his photographs in newspapers recently. In the course of hearing on Shah’s bail application, he had said that his liberty should not be infringed and he may be allowed bail but asked to remain outside Gujarat. …


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Why a former minister is making BJP, RSS leaders uneasy (Jun 25, 2014, First Post)

Many senior BJP and RSS functionaries in the country find their heartbeats linked to the fate of former minister Laxmikant Sharma, once a key aide to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Sharma, now in the custody of the special task force (STF) for his pivotal role in the Professional Examination Board scam, is being treated with kid gloves while over 150 students and young professionals apprehended through a couple of days’ swoop were treated like hard core criminals. The detainees include many girls.

Sharma is expected to confront his former aide OP Shukla, who spilled the beans on Sharma’s omissions and commissions. Shukla’s confessions include details of how the former overlooked merit to promote acolyte Pankaj Trivedi as controller of PEB examinations. Sharma has alleged that three bureaucrats have framed him at the instance of a senior BJP leader. He has not elaborated. Bureaucrats are closely watching Sharma’s interrogation as more skeletons might tumble out.

The Jabalpur high court had warned it would hand the case to the CBI if STF continues to soft-pedal it. Chouhan is facing the heat after Sharma’s arrest spurred the proceedings. Sharma headed the higher education ministry during the vital period covering the scam. He quit the party on his arrest. The BJP accepted his resignation through a terse SMS.

Though Laxmikant Sharma was named among the core culprits over six months ago, the STF avoided arresting him. With his proximity to senior RSS and BJP members, Sharma wielded immense power. Many party bigwigs ate out of his hand. He even nurtured chief ministerial ambitions. …


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Rightwing groups call upon Hindus to prepare physically, spiritually to fight against Muslims (Jun 26, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)

In a move that can cause embarrassment to the Narendra Modi government, some rightwing organisations, as per reports, have intensified their efforts to expand their base in the country and called upon Hindus to “prepare themselves physically and spiritually to fight against Muslim terrorists”.

In a convention – All India Hindu Convention – being organised under the banner of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti at Ponda in Goa, around 125 organisations from India and abroad (as claimed by organisers) are set to give a “call for establishment of India as a Hindu nation”, an ideal “long abandoned by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)”,Business Standard reported.

“To think that the recent change of power at the centre is conducive for the establishment of the Hindu Nation is a delusion, because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the offspring of the RSS, which distances itself from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Swatantryaveer Savarkar, will never take up the mission of the Hindu nation. The struggle for the liberation of the Hindus that commenced in the year 711 is not yet over,” the report quotes Charudatta Pingale, national guide of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, as saying.

“A time has come for Hindus to restart the freedom struggle with the same old exceptional will-power and unmatched bravery to protect our self-respect and seats of pride. Mind you, the Hindu Nation is not going to be established through the ballot, it will simply be the culmination of a battle; and hence, Hindu sects and organisations have to blow the bugle for the second freedom struggle,” he added.

According to the report, Advocate Harishankar Jain, who is fighting Ayodhya’s Ram temple case in the Supreme Court, told the gathering, “This is the ideal time to make our country a Hindu nation. It is time to implement the slogan ‘Jo Hindu hit ki bat karega, vahi desh pe raj karega’ (Whoever talks about the welfare of the Hindus will rule the nation).” …


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National Commission for Minorities expresses concern over “delay” in arrest of Muzaffarnagar riots accused (Jun 28, 2014, IBN)

The National Commission for Minorities on Saturday expressed concern over the “delay” in arrest of accused in Muzaffarnagar riot cases, but said it was satisfied with the relief works in the affected areas.

Chairman of the Commission Naseem Ahmad on Saturday held a meeting here with district magistrates and district police chiefs of riot-affected districts of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Saharanpur and Baghpat to review the progress of relief and rehabilitation works.

“Even after more than nine months of the riots, all the accused have not been arrested,” Ahmad said while talking to reporters after the meeting. “Though some accused have been arrested in several cases related to the riots, the Commission is not satisfied with the delay in the arrest of all the accused,” he said.

“The Special Investigation Team (SIT) and court have initiated attachment proceedings against people who were found involved in the riot cases by the SIT, but they have not been arrested,” he added. …

He said he has directed officials to take prompt action to gain confidence of both the communities, especially the riot-affected people. Ahmad along with a member of the Commission Farda Abdulla Khan also visited Palda village in Muzaffarnagar district. …


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Inspector suspended for Titlagarh violence (Jun 30, 2014, The Hindu)

Normalcy returned to the western Odisha town of Titlagarh a day after violence erupted over death of a person allegedly due to police torture. Heavy police bandobast was made in the tiny town to ensure that locals do not take to the streets over the issue. There was no report of any untoward incident from the town on Sunday. Prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC were also lifted from many places.

Agitating locals had set Titlagarh police station on fire and attacked police personnel after Basant Pradhan, a shop keeper, died on Saturday. Locals had alleged that victim’s health condition had deteriorated after prolonged torture by police.

To bring the situation under control, the State government has ordered a crime branch probe into the death and placed inspector-in-charge of Titlagarh and Bolangir police stations under suspension.… “The situation is under control. Fourteen platoons of police have been deployed in Titlagarh,” said Sunil Joshi, Additional Superintendent of Police of Bolangir.


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CBI files FIR against entire police station for murder, sexual assault (Jun 27, 2014, Mumbai Mirror)

The Central Bureau of Investigation late on Wednesday night filed an FIR against all policemen working in the Wadala railway police station for the alleged murder of detainee Agnelo Valdaris and sexual assault of a minor, among other charges.

This is also a rare case where alleged sexual assault perpetrated by policemen on detainees has been documented in detail in a First Information Report. While naming the 10 policemen identified by the victims, the specially constituted CBI team has also charged all the other personnel attached to the station.

The premier investigation agency has booked the policemen for murder, falsifying evidence, wrongful confinement, using force to get confession, kidnapping, unnatural sex. They have also been booked under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a minor.

The CBI action follows a strongly-worded high court order in a petition filed by Agnelo’s father Leonard Valdaris and his three friends who were also allegedly tortured in custody on the night of April 15 after they were picked up on suspicion of chain snatching. …


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Balad Kalan village clash: SFS protests cops’ ‘anti-Dalit’ action (Jun 29, 2014, Hindustan Times)

The members of Students for Society (SFS) staged a protest against the alleged police action at Balad Kalan village of Sangrur district in Punjab, at the student centre in Panjab University on Saturday. The members raised slogans claiming that police action was anti-Dalit.

SFS president Arishdeep Singh said they strongly condemned the inhumane action of the police and these incidents reflected ‘bitter realities’ of the society, where the oppressed were unable to avail of even their legal and constitutional rights.

“We demand inquiry into the incident so that erring officials can be brought to trial and strict action should be taken against the erring policemen,” he said.

Nearly 23 persons, including 11 cops, received injuries in a clash between police and members of the Dalit community in Bhawanigarh in Sangrur on Friday. The Dalits had gathered in Balad Kalan village to get auction of panchayat land, reserved for Scheduled Castes, cancelled.


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Opinions and Editorials

India’s New Prime Minister: Does He Belong To The Times? – By Graham Peebles (Jun 23, 2014, Countercurrents)

The landslide election earlier this month of Narendra Modi does not bode well for the 800 million or so Indians living in destitution, or the 120 million minority Muslims in the country, or the Adivasi (indigenous) people and Dalit groups sitting on resource-rich land in Orissa, Jharkhand and elsewhere. He may well come from a humble background, but Mr. Modi’s loyalties lie firmly with the corporations of India, not the chai wallahs working the train station at Vadnagar in Gujarat State like his father once did.

And certainly not the Adivasi families being forced from their homes to make way for multi national bulldozers, or the marginalized millions on the fringes of India’s cities living in tin shacks with no sanitation or health care, where children play alongside open sewers, and women work on mountains of refuse collecting Chinese plastics for a few rupees a day.

Modi is a far right Hindu Nationalist whose election suggests India is “entering its most sinister period since independence.” [The Guardian] Hindu nationalism is an exclusive club made up of upper-caste Hindus who form the ruling elite; it is of course closed to the devout worshipers from the lower castes. The Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) openly promotes the ideal of an India run by and for Hindus. It is “quite open about its belief in the Hindu India…where everybody else lives…as second-class citizens.” Modi’s rise to electoral stardom is a “terribly sad thing and something to be ashamed of.” [ Arundhati Roy ]

His election campaign was the most expensive ever staged in India, funded as all these political games are by the men with the money. The billionaires and millionaires, the rupee resplendent corporations that own India; her sacred putrid rivers; the forests and bauxite rich mountains; the media – print, radio, Television, the schools, hospitals and water ways. Everything of value, catalogued within the business portfolios of a tiny few, whilst the majority starve, defecate in public, are violated, exploited, ignored. Nobody knows the precise cost of the new PM’s campaign: it is estimated to have exceeded Rs. 5,000 crore – that’s about $840 million. …

Massive exposure facilitated by the corporate media that avoided asking probing questions, or ” pointing to some of the clear dishonesty in the claims made about his success in Gujarat.” [The Guardian] Such are the benefits of being in bed with the corporations. Big business rightly saw in Modi someone who would deliver all the benefits they have become used to.


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Environment, Development and Corporate Hindutva – By Archana Prasad (Jun 29, 2014, Peoples Democracy)

Almost a year before it came to power at the centre, the present minister for environment, Prakash Javadekar termed environmental clearances as a new form of “license raj.” This comment was made in the context of the slowdown of the economy and he accused the ministry of environment and forests of being a “roadblock” in the path of development.

Then, following this very line of argument, the BJP manifesto promised that it would relook into the procedures for environmental clearances and reframe the environment clearance laws in a manner so that there is no confusion and there are “transparent and time bound clearances.” This has been reiterated by the new environment minister who aims to provide clearances to 200 infrastructural projects on a priority basis – literally within the first hundred days.

His counterpart in the power and coal ministry is adding to the pressure by vocally stating that one time expansion plans for existing coal mines and power projects should get “automatic clearances.” Though this thrust is not new in this drive, it has acquired a new meaning today as the Modi government has used the rhetoric of nationalism and religious symbolism to showcase its priorities in the environment and development debate. …

Rather than studying the best way of water use for local needs along the 2500 km long banks of the Ganga, the plan aims to develop a tourist hub along the bank. This is clearly inspired by Gujarat’s Sabarmati project which displaced at least 5,000 local families and became a conduit for the sale of prime real estate to corporate developers. Not surprisingly, many eminent ecologists have termed this plan as old wine in a new bottle. The newness of this plan is precisely that it is intended to be linked with Hindutva revivalism. Hence the term being used is not river development but river rejuvenation, by which they mean restoration of the spirituality of the river, along with its purity.

From the above discussion it is clear that the environmental agenda of the Modi led BJP government is meant to serve the interests of corporate Hindutva. While regulations are being eased in the name of national economic security, the genuine issue of environmental protection is being used, in fact misused, as a cover for religious mobilisation. In this situation, compliance with and strengthening of environmental regulations can serve as a good political instrument to stop the corporate penetration in conflict ridden but natural resource rich regions.


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Mohsin Sadique’s Murder And The Solapur Jigsaw – By Siddharthya Roy (Jun 25, 2014, Countercurrents)

The murder of 28 year old computer technician Mohammad Mohsin Sadique Shaikh, on Monday the 2nd of June 2014 in Pune has been called shocking by many on more accounts than one. For one the crime was a ghastly violent one. After being severely with hockey sticks and thick wooden staves, his head was smashed in with a heavy stone to finish the job.

Secondly, despite its proximity to Mumbai which has seen repeated communal violence, the biggest one being the 1992 riots which killed many hundreds and displaced over two million people; and despite being a well known hub of extreme Hindu Right wing groups, Pune has little history of communal riots. So the hate crime enacted at around 8:30 pm in the Hadapsar area of the city, wherein two dozen odd motorbike riding people bludgeon a young man to death is a troubling exception.

But what seems to have struck people most is the sudden and unfortunate tragedy that befell a random innocent citizen. As was his daily routine Mohsin came back from work, freshened up and went for the Isha Namaz and collecting his tiffin from the mess next door was headed home for dinner with his roommates when this gang of two dozen odd men belonging to a hitherto unknown group, the eponymous Hindu Rashtra Sena, came riding on eight motorbikes and even though completely unprovoked, chose a man randomly picked out from the street and bludgeoned him to death. The randomness of the killing and the question it entails “who next?”, has been hard to digest for many. …

While it may be too early to take a call on whether there will be communal for sure, the political air in Solapur is tense. With nearly 40% Muslim voters in Solapur and the state assembly elections just round the corner, the Muslims are wary that all of these stray episodes may well be adding up to a widespread communal flare up.


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Malegaon blasts case: Political patronage of ATS investigation – By A. Mirsab (Jun 27, 2014,

The 2006 Malegaon bombings were a series of bomb blasts that took place on September 8, 2006 in Malegaon, a town in the Nashik district of the Indian state of Maharashtra, located at some 290 km to the northeast of state capital Mumbai. The explosions – which resulted in at least 37 fatalities and 125 injuries – took place in a Muslim cemetery, adjacent to a mosque, at around 13:15 local time after Friday prayers. A stampede ensued after the devices exploded.

Though the site (a compound housing a mosque and Muslim cemetery), the date (Alvida Juma) and the time (during afternoon prayers on Friday) of the bomb blasts clearly indicated that Muslims were the target, but the ATS promptly blamed Muslim terrorists and arrested nine persons from the community. Even at that time, ATS investigation met with skepticism and disbelief by many NGOs, but the ATS explicitly ruled out the involvement of Hindu right-wing groups although there were leads suggesting Hindu radicals’ involvement in the case.

ATS investigation of implicating and blaming Muslims for the bomb blasts at a Muslim cemetery was strongly condemned by Muslim community and who called ATS investigation as illogical and against the victim which was carried out with predetermined and jaundiced perspective. …

The present case was investigated under R R Patil’s supervision and another controversial case of Pune Germany Bakery blast; for which Himayat Baig was convicted; was also investigated under his supervision. Investigations of both these cases by ATS have been blatantly rejected by central agency NIA and have termed ATS accused as innocent.

Even the case of 7/11 train blasts in Mumbai was also investigated by ATS in 2006 under full eyes of R R Patil which has also come to the stage of controversy after the alleged confessional statements given voluntarily by Indian Mujahideen suspects after their arrests by Crime branch in 2008.


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Stirring up a judicial storm – Editorial (Jun 27, 2014, The Hindu)

Gopal Subramanium might have sought to give a quietus to the controversy surrounding the NDA Government’s opposition to his nomination as a judge of the Supreme Court by withdrawing his consent, but the episode has raised troubling questions over the roles of the executive and the judiciary in judicial appointments, and the process of their interaction. In his statement, Mr. Subramanium has suggested that the reason for his exclusion from a list of four names recommended for appointment by the collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India was that he was considered too independent to toe the government’s line. He has also faulted the judiciary for failing to stand up for him.

It is understandable that he should feel let down after being invited by the collegium to be a judge of the Supreme Court, in a rare instance of a member of the Bar being sought to be directly elevated to the Bench of the highest court. However, his claim that the splitting of the list by sending three of the four names to the President for appointment compromised the appointment process is debatable.

Sending a recommendation back to the collegium is part of the consultative process and there is no reason why the appointment of those about whom no issues had been raised should be held up, particularly if seniority within the list would not be affected. More serious is his allegation that his independent role as amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case may have been the real reason behind the Narendra Modi government’s rejection of his candidacy.

The government’s silence has not helped its case, as the nature of its reservations about Mr. Subramanium remains unknown. Now that the matter is in the public domain, it may have to clarify whether it had communicated to the collegium why it considered him unsuitable. The collegium had the option of reiterating its recommendation, a move that will be binding on the executive, but Mr. Subramanium has chosen not to wait for its decision. By voicing his “sense of unease over the judiciary failing to assert its independence,” he is actually charging the collegium with meekly acquiescing in the rejection of its own recommendation.

It implies that even a valid recommendation could be circumvented by unverifiable intelligence reports and unproven allegations in an opaque process. It also raises the question whether the present legal position that accords primacy to the Chief Justice’s opinion has goaded the executive to find other means of having its way. The present opaque procedure needs to be replaced by an appointments process that is genuinely consultative and transparent, so that the best legal brains are attracted to the bench.


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The IB Report: A Potential Threat To The Real National Interest And Security – By Sukumaran C. V. (Jun 30, 2014, Countercurrents)

The following is the first paragraph of the notorious IB report (IR/IS No. 002): “A significant number of Indian NGOs (funded by some donors based in US, UK, Germany and Netherlands) have been noticed to be using people centric issues to create an environment which lends itself to stalling development projects. These include agitations against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, Coal Fired Power Plants (CFPPs), Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), mega industrial projects (POSCO and Vedanta), hydel projects (at Narmada Sagar; and in Arunachal Pradesh) and extractive industries (oil, limestone) in the North East. The negative impact on GDP growth is assessed to be 2-3% p. a.”

If you peruse the 20 page IB report, you will feel that even if the IB is very poor in its linguistic skills, it is very rich in its unconditional support to the corporate giants that destroy the Environment and the livelihood of the vast majority of common people of this nation and are potential threats to the national security and wellbeing, if national security means the security and wellbeing of the common people.

On the 7th page of the report, the IB says that ‘Greenpeace expanded its activities to oppose Coal Fired Power Plants (CFPP) and coal mining activity… While its efforts to raise obstacles to India’s coal-based energy plans are gathering pace, it has also started spawning mass-based movements against development projects and is assessed to be posing a potential threat to national economic security.’ …

Does the IB have the intelligence to see that the words of the INSAF will turn to be prophetic if the largest democracy’s Intelligence Bureau and Government behave as if they are the advocates of the likes of CIL, VAL, Essar and POSCO that undermine the safety and security of the people of this great nation?


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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 16th, 2014

by newsdigest on June 17, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

BARTI to take communal harmony lessons to schools, may train teachers (Jun 12, 2014, Indian Express)

After a workshop to improve communal harmony, Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute (BARTI) will send books on teachings of social reformers such as Dr B R Ambedkar and Sant Kabir to aided schools in the state, and if cooperation from education department is received, BARTI plans to train teachers to impart lessons on communal harmony to students.

The first book that will be sent to all schools will be on Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj written by Jaisingh Pawar. “The distribution of books will take place in a phased manner. We have already got one such book written about the life and teachings of Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj. We will start distributing it soon,” said D R Parihar, director general, BARTI.

BARTI plans to send other reading materials and pamphlets containing material on equality, social justice, ethics, moral values, brotherhood etc. “It is important that students develop a scientific temper and look at things in a communally sensitive way. Only then can we eradicate atrocities against SC and ST in the society,” said Parihar. “BARTI was established to propagate teachings of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. There is a need that his teachings as well as core issues of the Constitution go to masses. The best way is to inculcate fraternity, equality and social justice in students so that they grow up into responsible citizens,” said Parihar.

Parihar said BARTI will talk to the education department to see if teachers can be trained to impart teachings of great leaders, along with regular lessons. “We will talk to the education department. We are ready to train teachers if they are interested. It is the need of the hour that students learn the importance of keeping scientific temper and not have a communally coloured view. The teachers can be trained during holidays like winter or summer break. It will not be forced on anyone,” said Parihar. “We will send books to gram panchayats so that teachings of such personalities reach villagers too,” added Parihar.

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Rise of communal tensions after BJP Government formed at center (Jun 11, 2014, Times of India)

As Maharashtra gears up for its Assembly elections later this year, tensions have already started developing. Several reports of communal, religious and caste based nature have erupted in the last two weeks after a Narendra Modi led BJP Government took the center stage in New Delhi. The opposition rendered hopeless and dejected after the National Results have almost got a life line with these happenings. They are quick to blame Modi Government for this tension being created. This too is easy to assume and blame for anyone that Modi and BJP, who have always traditionally been blamed for communal politics is flaring up this tension across the country.

While the radical and right wing groups will definitely feel pumped up and elated with BJP at the power, it may not necessarily mean Modi is giving them a free hand. Modi has made his intentions clear in his Foreign Policy approach and wishes to want to stay clean of it. But those that will benefit from such communal tension will be definitely Congress and Opposition, who had used Fear of Riots as the chief strategy in Lok Sabha Poll 2014 to prevent Modi from becoming the PM. Now if they succeed – it is going to be an easier task to win people back – gradually.

While Modi is a debated name and there are equal number of people who love or hate him, blaming him for the communal tension in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh – as both stated ruled by oppositions of BJP – is somewhat not beyond doubt. It might be a lot lying beneath the blanket. But it is also known to all that all the child groups and organizations of BJP are maintained in a Hierarchy where even a town level Hindu wing worker also have direct contacts to the top leaders of RSS. The recent investigation and proceeding has proved that the Pune violence is executed by Hindu Rashtra Sena. Pune is known for the pride people take in their glory of History and Hindutva – the same people of Pune themselves are demanding to ban this group for its terrorism activity.

The Hindu Rashtra Sena chief Dhananjay Desai was arrested by the Pune crime branch on Tuesday for his involvement in a criminal conspiracy that led to the murder of 28 years old Mohsin Shaikh on June 2 in Hadapsar and events preceding the murder. The most notorious part of the Maharashtra Police administration is that – Desai is documented as officially arrested before the murder of Mohsin Shaikh. Although Section 120[B] & 302 are framed against Desai, police staged the exit path of him by documenting his official arrest date as June 2 – just few hours before Mohsin’s murder. It is known to all that this Dhananjay Desai has notorious criminal background already. As Maharashtra gets more into the election mode, the situation may get all the more worse in coming days unless proper control measures taken. Especially outsiders are feeling the heat already and this is not good news for the liberal crowd of cities like Pune or Mumbai.


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Online posts against Narendra Modi spell trouble (Jun 16, 2014, Times of India)

Social media in India has suddenly become a decidedly dangerous place for dissent or irreverence, especially if Prime Minister Narendra Modi is at the centre of your dissidence. State administrations, be it in Goa, Karnataka or Kerala, have shown great alacrity in arresting, browbeating and often simply terrorizing anyone who is even slightly critical of Modi on networking sites. On a few occasions, at the receiving end of the police’s anger — and anxiety — have been students not even out of college.

Naval engineer Devu Chodankar got into a fair bit of trouble in Panaji last month when he posted some comments on Facebook which were deemed to be anti-Modi. Though he withdrew them later, a sessions court ordered his arrest and rejected his anticipatory bail plea after inputs from the local cyber crime cell said there was a “larger game plan to promote communal and social disharmony”.

The police went on to file an FIR under Section 153(A), 295(A) of the IPC, besides Section 125 of the Representation of People Act and Section 66-A of the Information Technology Act. Justifying these sections, some of them non-bailable, police inspector Rajesh Job told the court that Chodankar’s custody was being sought as his interrogation was “essential” to find out if there was a greater conspiracy behind the posts.

Last month, Syed Waqas, an MBA student in Bangalore, was arrested for allegedly circulating offensive messages against Modi on WhatsApp. And on May 15, author Amaresh Mishra, who wrote the script for the Saif Ali Khan-starrer ‘Bullett Raja’, was arrested from his Gurgaon residence for posting messages on his Twitter account, that was later closed by the UP police. At that time, Modi had not yet taken oath as India’s Prime Minister.

“Unlike in America, where (Barack) Obama is routinely panned for some of his policies, where he is made fun of for clicking selfies during funerals or for sometimes staring at the behind of beautiful women, one has to be careful in India when it comes to our politicians,” says a professor in Sikkim University.” All parties in India are on the same page. You just can’t question their leaders.” The censure isn’t limited to social media and networking-microblogging forums. In the past four days alone, Kerala police have registered two separate cases against 18 college students and teachers for “defaming” Modi in their respective campus magazines.


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Gujarat HC directs Nanavati panel to allow Sanjiv Bhatt examine intel reports during 2002 riots (Jun 16, 2014, Indian Express)

The Gujarat High Court on Monday directed the Nanavati Commission, probing the 2002 riots, to allow suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt examine the intelligence reports generated during the 2002 Godhra riots. The bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala directed the commission to allow Bhatt to inspect the documents by Friday and has kept the matter for further hearing on June 26. NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL) is a co-petitioner in the case.

Bhatt had written several letters to the Nanavati Commission, as well as the Gujarat state government, asking for the documents pertaining to the 2002 riots. After the state government’s refusal, Bhatt and PUCL had approached the High Court through a PIL seeking 42 types of documents. The court had directed the government to release the documents.

Last year, Bhatt again filed a civil application in the court stating that nine documents were not given to him. The state had argued that these documents are classified and they can’t be shared. They also said that some other documents have gone missing. The court ruled in Bhatt’s favour and asked the sate government to let Bhatt inspect the classified documents.

Bhatt, a controversial cop who is under suspension, had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court against former Chief Minister Narendra Modi, now the Prime Minister, alleging that Modi told senior officers to “let Hindus vent out their anger” following the Godhra train burning incident that led to riots in the state.

Bhatt has also claimed that he was present in the meeting in which Modi allegedly ordered the officials to stand down. However, Bhatt’s claim has been trashed by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team probing the riots. In case of Zakia Jafri, who has alleged Modi of being involved in the conspiracy, the SIT didn’t rely on the statement of Bhatt while giving clean chit to Modi.


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IB’s NGO-scare report to Modi plagiarises from old Modi speech (Jun 13, 2014, Indian Express)

In its 21-page classified report, Impact of NGOs on Development, first reported by The Indian Express, that identifies certain foreign-funded NGOs as threat to India’s national economic security and the Gujarat model of development, the Intelligence Bureau has cut and pasted from a published speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to describe the modus operandi of certain organizations.

On September 9, 2006, then Gujarat chief minister Modi had lashed out in a speech at a “wealthy” and “influential” class of NGOs that “hire PR firms to continually build their image” with “money coming from abroad.” The occasion was the release of the first edition of NGOs, Activists & Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry edited by Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak – a collection of articles on what they called the anti-Hindu agenda and corrupt practices of certain NGOs and activists – at New Delhi.

Modi’s speech at that function was included in the second edition of the collection. The second paragraph on the fourth page (page number 417 in the book) of Modi’s article, NGOs as Non-Accountable Businesses, reads as follows: “Another conspiracy – a vicious cycle is set up. Funds are obtained from abroad; an NGO is set up; a few articles are commissioned; a PR firm is recruited and, slowly, with the help of the media, an image is created. And then awards are procured from foreign countries to enhance this image. Such a vicious cycle, a network of finance-activity-award is set up and, once they have secured an award, no one in Hindustan dares raise a finger, no matter how many the failings of the awardee.”

The second paragraph on the third page (Part A) of the IB report on NGOs reads: “A small group of activists and NGOs at times have succeeded in shaping policy debates in India. Apart from that, in some cases it is observed that in a cyclical process, an NGO is set up, funds are obtained from abroad, a few articles are commissioned, a PR firm is recruited and, slowly, with the help of the media an image is created. And then awards are procured from foreign countries to enhance the image, after which Government machinery finds it more difficult to act against the awardee.”

When asked of the IB had asked for permission to use the paragraph from the book she edited, Radha Rajan of Vigilonline said she stood vindicated. “No, the IB did not contact me. But probably they were present at the high-profile book release next to the BJP office on Delhi’s Ashoka Road in 2006,” she told The Indian Express. Contacted by The Indian Express, a senior IB official closely associated with the report declined to comment.


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Disappearance of key witness: two ex-ATS officers in the dock (Jun 12, 2014, Mumbai Mirror)

A CBI investigation has found two Mumbai police officers responsible for the mysterious disappearance of a prime witness in the 2008 Malegaon serial blasts case. Dilip Patidar, who was a tenant of Ramji Kalsangra, one of the main accused in the blasts case, was last seen by his family when he was picked up by a Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) unit from his home in Indore’s Shanti Vihar Colony in November 2008.

The investigating agency, which registered an FIR in connection with Patidar’s disappearance after it was asked by the Madhya Pradesh High Court to investigate the matter, has now charged Assistant Commissioner of Police Rajan Ghule and Police Inspector Ramesh More with abduction, criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement with the intention of extracting a confession, kidnapping and creating false evidence.

Ghule and More were attached to the ATS in 2008. Ghule is now with the Thane police and More is serving with the Navi Mumbai police. While Ghule and More’s defence was that Patidar disappeared after seeking to go home to fetch his identity papers, which were required to record his confession before a magisterial court, the CBI has rubbished their claim, saying that Patidar was never produced in any magistrate’s court.

The 2008 Malegoan serial blasts had left seven people dead and several injured. Kalsangra, believed to be one of the main conspirators behind the explosions, went underground after the blasts and has remained untraced since. Since Patidar was a tenant of Kalsangra for many years, the ATS had wanted him to become a witness.

While he was in Mumbai, Patidar, according to the CBI, called his father and one of his cousins on a few occasions. The calls were short and on each occasion Patidar informed that he was in ATS’s custody and that they wanted him to become a witness in the Malegaon blasts case. Patidar’s case is throwback to the disappearance of Khwaja Yunus, an accused in the December 2002 Ghatkopar bus blast case. Yunus, a native of Parbhani was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch just days after the blast. …


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Custodial death, sexual abuse: HC orders FIR against 9 cops (Jun 11, 2014, Asian Age)

The Bombay high court on Tuesday has ordered the Mumbai crime branch to file an FIR against nine policemen and investigate into the alleged custodial death of 24-year-old Agnelo Valdaris and sexual abuse of the three others held in a robbery case by Wadala railway police.

A division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice Pramod Dattatrya Kode observed that prima facie it was a serious crime. The Judges directed the director general of police to personally monitor the investigation of this case. The crime branch has been directed to probe the role of policemen into the death and the matter has been posted for further hearing on June 13. The court was hearing a petition filed by Leonard Xavier Valdaier, father of the deceased and three others, Sufiyan Mohammed Khan, Mohammed Irfan Hajan and Arbaz Shamim Khan, who were also arrested in this case along with Agnelo.

The petitioners demanded a probe by the CBI. However, the judges did not accept this application. The judges directed the government of Maharashtra, which is among the respondents, to hand over the post-mortem report, medical reports and copy of the hospital register to the petitioner. It is alleged that Agnelo Valdaris died in police custody on April 18, 2014.

The three other men have alleged that the police sexually abused them in custody.On the other hand, the Wadala railway police has claimed that Agnelo died after coming under a running train while trying to flee from custody. Petitioners’ advocate Yug Choudhary has denied all allegations and said they did not commit any theft, he also said that the police was responsible for Agnelo’s death.

The four boys were picked up by Wadala railway police from their residence on April 15 and April 16. They were taken to the police station where they were allegedly beaten up and questioned where they had kept a gold chain and a ring suspected to be stolen by them.The petition also sought compensation of Rs1 crore for the deceased and Rs50 lakh each for the three others who were allegedly sexually abused in custody.


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Hindu Rashtra Sena chief arrested for Mohsin’s murder (Jun 11, 2014, Times of India)

Hindu Rashtra Sena chief Dhananjay Desai was arrested by the Pune crime branch on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in a criminal conspiracy that led to the murder of 28-year-old Mohsin Shaikh on June 2 in Hadapsar and events preceding the murder. Senior police officials said interrogation of 17 suspects arrested so far for attacking Mohsin revealed that Desai had instigated them to launch a series of violent protests after objectionable posts were put up on a social media site. He will be produced before the Pune cantonment court on Wednesday afternoon.

Desai had incidentally been arrested on June 2 afternoon for distributing pamphlets with objectionable content. Mohsin was murdered later on the same day. A senior official told TOI that though Desai was not directly involved in Mohsin’s murder, he was clearly involved in the conspiracy that led to the murder. Shahaji Solunke, additional commissioner (crime), who is supervising investigations in the Mohsin murder case, said, “Investigations have revealed that Desai had conspired with other activists to commit Mohsin’s murder and other offences. We are collecting evidence to prove his complicity.”

Assistant commissioner of police, cyber crime, Gopinath Patil, told TOI that Desai was arrested under section 120 (b) – (criminal conspiracy) read with section 302 (murder). On Tuesday morning, the police secured a production warrant for Desai from the Pune cantonment court. Assistant public prosecutor B R Patil told the court that Desai’s custodial interrogation was important to ascertain his exact role in the conspiracy, which he played with the other accused and to collect evidence in the case. The court then granted the production warrant.

Officials of the Yerawada central prison, where Desai was lodged following his arrest in pamphlet distribution case, handed him over to the crime branch and Hadapsar police at 5 pm. Desai was taken to the Sassoon general hospital for a medical examination after which he was taken to the Hadapsar police station for further investigations. Elaborating on his participation in the conspiracy, senior officials said that on January 19 this year Desai had held a big rally in the city and given a provocative speech. On March 17, he distributed pamphlets bearing objectionable matter in cantonment and Loni Kalbhor areas. His workers staged a rasta roko at Warje Malwadi on June 1 – a day before Mohsin’s murder, to protest against the objectionable posts on a social media site. There were subsequent incidents of rioting and stone pelting that were reported in several parts of the city.

“Considering the sequence of events and subsequent murder of Mohsin, it is clear that Desai’s intentions were malafide, there was a conspiracy and Desai was behind it,” a senior official said. Desai was brought to state-run Sassoon General Hospital for routine medical check up. “Our doctors carried out Desai’s clinical examination and enquired about his health complaints. This was a routine heath evaluation to see whether he needs any immediate medical care,” said D G Kulkarni, medical superintendent of Sassoon Hospital. Kulkarni, however, refused to divulge further details. …


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MP recruitment scam: Ex-minister held (Jun 16, 2014, Indian Express)

Former BJP minister Laxmikant Sharma was arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) on Sunday for his role in the alleged illegal recruitment of contractual teachers in government schools. Sharma was a powerful minister and held the technical education, culture and mining portfolios between 2003 and 2013 before losing the Assembly elections in November last year. The STF had questioned him twice in the past but let him go claiming it did not have sufficient evidence. On Sunday, a team of STF officials questioned the BJP leader at his home before taking him to the STF office in the afternoon.

More than 250 persons, including officials of Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, brokers, politicians, students and parents, have been arrested by the STF so far in the examination and recruitment scam that came to light last year. The agency has already arrested Sharma’s OSD but had delayed the former minister’s arrest, an action that was slammed by the Congress.

The agency had filed two separate FIRs against Sharma for his role in recruitment of contractual teachers whose names he had recommended to MPPEB officials who manipulated OMR sheets to ensure they cleared the examination. STF (AIG) Ashish Khare said Sharma would be produced before a court on Monday. The agency is investigating irregularities in at least 10 examinations, including the pre-medical test (PMT).

The agency had seized several documents and computer hard discs that showed how names recommended by powerful persons like Sharma besides bureaucrats and those who operated syndicates, cleared the examinations conducted by MPPEB. The former minister had first surrendered in December last year claiming he was innocent and that he came to know of his involvement only through newspapers. He was questioned by the STF one more time.

The BJP leader’s arrest comes a day after the agency declared a reward of Rs 5,000 on information about mining baron Sudhir Sharma. The latter was also the minister’s OSD when he held the mining portfolio. The former minister and Sudhir Sharma had surrendered together but the agency had not arrested either of them. The mining baron was issued several notices but he did not appear before the agency announced a cash award. The Congress, however, alleged that the delayed arrest was an attempt to save the CM’s chair. Congress state chief Arun Yadav and Leader of Opposition Satyadev Katare reiterated the demand for a CBI probe into the mega scam.


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Four remanded for attack on madrassa (Jun 10, 2014, Times of India)

The court of judicial magistrate first class P D Zambre on Monday remanded four men in police custody till June 12 for allegedly ransacking a madrassa along the Handewadi bypass in Hadapsar during the protests over some objectionable posts on social networking sites on the night of May 31.

In their remand plea, filed by assistant police inspector Y A Nandre, the Hadapsar police said that the four men – Pravin Zambre (23) of Holkarwadi, Sujit Holkar (19) of Thite Aali, Haveli, Sagar Dikshit (23) and Chandrakant Rajesh Bhadle (27), both from Uruli Devachi – were arrested from Mantarwadi phata around 8.50am on Monday following a tip-off. The police seized three motorcycles used by them during the attack.

According to the remand plea, the four were part of a larger group of 10-12 youths on motorcycles who attacked and ransacked the madrassa around 11.30pm on May 31. All four men have admitted to their involvement in the attack, the plea stated.

An offence under various penal sections, including unlawful assembly, rioting and deliberate and malicious attempt to outrage religious feelings, was then registered following a complaint by Maulana Meraj Ul Islam Mumtaz Sheikh of the religious school.

Public prosecutor B R Patil pleaded for seven days’ remand in police custody for the accused on the grounds that the police have to arrest some more suspects, including the mastermind behind the attack. The police also have to find out if the four men are linked with any organization or political party, he said.


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Shame for Modi Sarkar: Rape survivor wants CBI probe, names Nihal Chand as culprit (Jun 14, 2014, Deccan Chronicle)

Breaking barriers and ending her four-year-silence, the rape survivor who named Union Minister Nihal Chand Meghwal in her rape case on Saturday demanded a CBI probe into the incident. On Friday, notices were issued to Nihal Chand Meghwal, Minister of State (MoS) in the Narendra Modi government, by a district court in Jaipur.

The victim had filed a First Information Report (FIR) in 2011, alleging sexual exploitation by her husband. She had accused him of drugging her and then letting his associates rape her. The FIR also named MOS chemicals and fertilizers Meghwal, now the only minister from Rajasthan in the Modi cabinet, as one of the people who sexually exploited her.

The police closed the case in 2012 stating that the charges by the rape survivor were false and fabricated. She appealed to a district court, following which additional district judge Prem Prakash Gupta issued notices to Meghwal and 17 others in this case asking them to respond by August 20.


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Opinions and Editorials

Kidiad Massacre In Gujarat – By Abdul Majid Zargar (Jun 11, 2014, Countercurrents)

During the Gujarat riots 2002, one has heard much about brutal massacre of Muslims at Gulberg society, Panchmahal, Naroda Patiya & Naroda Gam. What has relatively remained untold is the massacre at Kidaid on March 2nd, 2002. On this date Muslims were fleeing in two lorries from their village, Kidiad in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat. The Hindutva mobs halted them at two different spots about ten Kilometers apart and killed seventy of them with a military precision in a meticulously planned operation. Twenty one killers were identified out of which only nine could be captured(rest declared as absconders) and put on trial. In the trial court, they were represented by a battery of lawyers having affiliations to VHP & other Sangh parivar outfits.

All of them were acquitted in a hasty judgment on 11th October 2002, roughly seven months after the commission of crime. In his judgment, the judge held that Police had failed to conduct further investigations despite repeated request by victims & they had also refused to implicate the assailants actually named by witnesses. In effect, the submissions of the victims & witnesses were used against them by a highly biased Judiciary.

All these & many other details about the Gujrat pogrom 2002 are contained in an excellent, courageous & scrupulously researched book – “the Fiction of Fact Finding-Modi & Godhra” written by Manoj Mitta, a journalist & senior Editor with Times Of India. It is a multi-dimensional book which informs the reader as to how things happened, how the events were camouflaged & how the judicial apathy and pliable institutions conspired with the government machinery to successfully erase everything from the horrific event?

In chapter 5, the author deals with the examination of Narendra Modi by SIT formed by Supreme Court following Zakia Jaffri’s Complaint and points to brazen loopholes, contradictions and ambiguities in the statements made by Modi reducing it to a farce exercise and a travesty of Justice. Intriguingly, the chairman of the SIT absented himself from the critical interrogation process with questions and answers in a written format, not cross examining him on basic contradictions in his testimony. In this masterpiece of investigative journalism, the author identifies the violations of law perpetrated by the Special investigation team (SIT ); and brings to fore, the failings of the Supreme Court of India in discharging its basic Constitutional responsibilities to the people. …

Modi has since become Prime Minster of India and it remains to be seen whether the bath he took in Holy Ganges in Varanasi on the eve of parliamentary elections will cleanse him of crimes committed against Muslims in Gujarat, or will the long arm of law catch him one day to account for the sins committed by him.


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Cause vs. Catwalk – By Archana Nathan (Jun 12, 2014, The Hindu)

She refuses to be pinned down by labels and is as fearless, articulate and candid as the protagonists of her film. Filmmaker Nisha Pahuja released her film, The World Before Her, a feature length documentary, across multiplexes in the country last week.

The World Before Her gives us access to two radically opposite women: Ruhi Singh, a 19-year-old contestant of the Miss India Pageant and Prachi Trivedi, a 24-year-old staunch member of Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Navigating through the private worlds of Ruhi, Prachi and others like them, the film offers an insight into their minds, their dreams and the choices before them.

The film was released in New Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata and Mumbai this past week. Pahuja brings her film to Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad (special release) today. She talks about her film, the process of filmmaking, the documentary in India and more in this interview: …


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Murder Most Foul – Editorial (Jun 21, 2014, EPW)

The murder of a 28-year-old man in Pune by a Hindu right wing group is not just shocking but a warning of bad times ahead. Mohsin Sadiqe Sheikh, who was employed by an IT company, was on his way home on 2 June. He was surrounded by a group of men belonging to the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) and beaten to death with hockey sticks. Sheikh happened to be wearing clothes that identified his religion; his killers were on the rampage against some unknown persons who had morphed pictures of Shivaji and the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray that had appeared on Facebook. Had the police taken action earlier to stop these mobs, Sheikh would not have been killed. Instead for close to three days the police stood by while members of right-wing groups subjected Pune to mindless violence and destruction of public property.

This is not the first time that a desecration of a leader’s statue or an obviously mischievous offensive post on social media or a perceived insult to a particular personality has set off violence. Yet, there is no excuse for why the police failed to crack down on the miscreants. The HRS is not a new group. Its leader has been booked several times for inflammatory statements and other infractions of the law. The police was well aware of this. Yet, inexplicably, the group was allowed to paralyse the city and only after Sheikh’s murder did the police take some action.

Such seemingly sporadic acts of violence take place ahead of elections. Vested interests ensure that emotions are provoked, stoked and, worse, expressed in violence against the vulnerable. A similar tactic was tried in eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) in 2013 with the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar. It paid rich dividends in the Lok Sabha elections in the form of a religious consolidation of votes. …

In a situation that reeks of irony, the media reported that the Bharatiya Janata Party would target Maharashtra with its high internet penetration to replicate its successful nationwide social media campaign during the Lok Sabha elections. At the same time, the state’s deputy chief minister, giving the example of China, called for a ban of social media, although he quickly retracted the statement. Clearly, social media will play an ever greater role in politics in the years ahead. Monitoring it and dealing with offensive posts while at the same time safeguarding freedom of expression is the challenge that law-enforcement authorities face today.

Going by the record set by the Maharashtra police, it is clear that they are ill-prepared to meet this challenge. With Maharashtra’s assembly elections scheduled for later this year, it is very likely that efforts to foment communal and casteist violence will only increase and the avenue for such provocation could well be social media. Unless the police is trained to respond with greater alacrity than it did to the recent trouble in Pune, we could well see a repeat of UP in Maharashtra later this year.


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The great NGO scare – Editorial (Jun 13, 2014, Indian Express)

Less than a month after the Narendra Modi government took office, civil society organisations can be said to be feeling the heat. An Intelligence Bureau report to the prime minister’s office has warned against a range of NGOs, suggesting they pose a threat to the economy, and that they have collectively cost India 2-3 per cent of its GDP. The IB’s list includes not just international organisations like Greenpeace that have drawn attention to the environmental damage of coal-based and nuclear energy, or those with extensive foreign funding, but also many Gujarat-based NGOs that have campaigned for the victims of the 2002 riots, among other issues, including the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.

This is not the first time a government has had occasion to complain about motivated civil society organisations – the UPA often deployed the FCRA to delay or revoke licences, and former PM Manmohan Singh has complained about the “foreign hand” instigating campaigns against nuclear energy. This charge is not entirely baseless. Many NGOs do have agendas that further the interests of their funders, while others are driven by the particular causes they speak for. They are not meant to take the large view and harmonise interests. By their very nature, advocacy groups take the narrow, intense position. The logic of the voluntary sector and private capital often work in concert, and try to supplant the legitimate functions of the state. They are often irritants to the government, but they also often aid governments in informal ways, fill gaps on the ground, bring a useful view to policy and legislation. In other words, there is no single theory of civil society organisations or one ideal approach to them. NGOs cannot be red-flagged and harassed – the government’s test is in how it reacts to their interventions.

The UPA erred on the other side too, on occasion, treating NGO orthodoxy on GM crops as equivalent to the scientific consensus, for instance, or inviting civil society to take on an outsized role in drafting policy through the NAC. But the Modi government must be wary of taking a repressive attitude to NGOs, merely because they articulate alternative priorities. It will be challenged, like all governments are, and its task is to accommodate diverse perspectives where possible, to shoulder past the ones that it judges irrelevant, and know that some criticism is inevitable given the tradeoffs of any decision-making. It must realise that scapegoating NGOs is not going to strengthen the government.


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The North-eastern challenge – By Sanjoy Hazarika (Jun 9, 2014, The Hindu)

The recent attacks and killings in Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya by armed non-State groups represent a challenge and test for the Narendra Modi government and the need to understand the frustrating complexities of the North-eastern region.

Things are not being made easy after strident demands by the newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party MPs from Assam to rid the State of “Bangladeshis,” a phrase that many from the minority community say is aimed at targeting them, irrespective of nationality, and one that can swiftly turn into a security nightmare not just for governments in Delhi and Dispur, but also for ordinary people caught up in a storm. For a moment, the “Bangladeshi” issue has moved away from the headlines because of other events that have captured public attention. …

The Modi government must send a clear and unambiguous message to its members and followers that they cannot take law into their hands over the issue of “Bangladeshis.” This could spread fear, tension, mistrust and worse in Assam. Due process must be followed – otherwise there is acute danger of violence, tragedy and abuse of human rights just because of a person’s religion. Isn’t the Pune murder of the young Muslim techie by Hindu thugs a warning and wake-up call?

The media must play a sober role in this because definitions of “Bangladeshis” are often blurred and arbitrary. We need to abide by the recent judgment in the Meghalaya High Court which, while stating the obvious, defined a Bangladeshi as someone who came to India after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Many tend to look at much earlier cut off dates in their search for “illegal migrants.”

New Delhi needs to inform all State governments in the region – whichever the party – that the murder of innocents, of whichever ethnicity, religion or language group, and the abuse of rights by armed groups (or security forces) and local thugs is unacceptable. Such violations need to be met with a cabrated robust response aimed at showing results in a specific time frame.


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India must stop denying caste and gender violence – By Nilanjana S Roy (Jun 11, 2014, BBC)

When I think of Badaun, the small village in India’s Uttar Pradesh state near the spot where two young girls were raped and then hanged from a mango tree, one detail out of all of the horror is inescapable: their deaths were by no means inevitable. …

According to a Reuters report, when the girls did not come back, the father of one went to report the missing children to the police. The constable on duty slapped him and sent him away. This is the detail that cannot be forgotten. If the father had not been from a less privileged caste, if the police had searched for the girls, they might have been found before their assailants hanged them from the tree on the village common. …

One of the most horrifying aspects of the Badaun crimes is how normal they are, fitting the general pattern of caste crimes. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) records crimes against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes – the most disadvantaged groups – in a separate category. These crimes are grievously under-reported, but even so the figures for 2012 are revealing: 651 cases of murder, 3,855 cases where people were hurt, 1,576 cases of rape, 490 cases of kidnapping and abduction, and 214 cases of arson.

The need to end the collective denial is urgent if the country is to acknowledge just how widespread the epidemic of violence is, and how savage the caste and gender wars have become. Those at the receiving end of the ropes and the flames are so often the poorest, the most marginalised, the most profoundly silenced.

In Delhi last week, the families from Bhagana were briefly evicted from their place of protest. The police had been casually violent; a complaint alleges that the protesters, many of them women, were beaten and sexually assaulted by police officers. After some negotiation, they were allowed to continue with the protest.


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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 29th, 2012

October 30, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Bhatt moves HC to summon Narendra Modi before Nanavati panel ‘Modi gave Rs 5.27 cr to RSS NGO in Tamil Nadu from CM relief fund’ Income Tax department begins probing Gadkari’s companies HC asks ex-BJP minister Rathore to surrender 4 killed, 5 hurt in Akot 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 – September 24th, 2012

September 25, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Communal Harmony When young hearts beat fast for peace and communal harmony News Headlines Make Hitler your idol instead of Vivekananda: Sanjiv Bhatt to Narendra Modi Naroda Patia case: Judge raps RK Raghavan over missing convict Tulsi fake encounter case: CBI’s ex-ADG is accused No. 17 Batla House […]

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Coalition Against Genocide condemns SIT’s shoddy report on Gujarat violence

May 11, 2012

May 11, 2012 Coalition Against Genocide (CAG –, a broad coalition of over 40 organizations dedicated to the cause of justice and accountability, condemns the report filed by the Special Investigations Team (SIT) as shoddy investigation and a deliberate distortion of evidence. The Supreme Court appointed SIT’s closure report, on the complaint brought forth […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 5th, 2012

March 6, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Gujarat still starved of justice 10 years after carnage says Indian American Muslim group Indian American Group welcomes Congressional Resolution on Gujarat Violence of 2002 News Headlines U.S. House concerned at reports of Modi’s ‘complicity’ in riots Gujarat riot victims still awaiting justice: Amnesty Ten years on, […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 30th, 2012

January 31, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup Announcements Narendra Modi’s fast in Godhra an exercise in political chicanery, says Indian American group Mahatma Gandhi’s Death Anniversary should be an occasion for National Introspection says Indian American group Communal Harmony They spring a unique approach to harmony News Headlines Prosecute CM or not? SIT seeks legal […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 16th, 2012

January 16, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Gujarat CM, HM culpable in 2002 riots: Ex-DGP Amid bouts of amnesia, Zadaphia puts Modi in dock CBI grills Amit Shah for 8 hrs in Tulsi case Justice eludes victims falsely arrested in Mecca Masjid blast case Batla House encounter returns to haunt Congress Surya Namaskar […]

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 26th, 2011

December 27, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup News Headlines Modi is ‘dramatis personae’ of Gujarat ‘carnage’ 2002: Sanjiv Bhatt CBI questions Chudasama, Patel in Prajapati encounter case Father of alleged IM operative sues N Ram, Praveen Swami Sangh Parivar playing pressure tactics to freeze terror cases: PFI Pass anti-communal violence Bill: minorities Slice of OBC […]

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