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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 6th, 2017

by newsdigest on February 16, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

50,000 Gujarat riot victims still displaced, lack housing rights, 20% women face triple talaq: Janvikas book (Jan 28, 2017, Counterview)

A new book released on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Janvikas, one of the premier civil rights organisations of India, has estimated that around 50,000 Gujarat 2002 riot-affected Muslims should be qualified to be considered internally-displaced persons (IDPs) – a term coined by the United Nations to identify those ravaged by violent social conflicts.

Giving a graphic picture of their living conditions and empowerment, especially among women, the book, titled “Creating Spaces: Nurturing Leadership” – which focuses, among other issues, on the impact of the 2002 communal carnage on Gujarat’s IDPs – believes, many of them live in an “extremely vulnerable” condition in several of the 86-odd colonies in seven districts.

The most pressing issue of these IDPs, insists the book, is housing ownership. The religious trusts which earlier gave lands for housing, are now reluctant to give them housing rights, the book regrets, adding, what is now being assured is residential rights and not ownership rights, which has brought them much current insecurity.…

http://www.counterview.net/2017/01/50000-gujarat-riot-victims-still.html

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After 13 years in jail, SC acquits two accused (Feb 3, 2017, Times of India)

The Supreme Court on Thursday acquitted two persons and upheld conviction of two others in connection with the 2002 tiffin-bomb blast case, in which the state government had invoked the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

Habib Hawa and Hanif Pakitwala will walk out declared innocent, after spending 13 years in jail. The apex court also ended the imprisonment of two others – Anas Machiswala and Kalim Ahmed – and ordered their release by treating the 13 years they spent in jail as punishment already undergone. All four were convicted to life imprisonment by Gujarat high court, their advocate Khalid Shaikh said.

These four men were convicted in relation to five bombs planted in tiffin boxes aboard Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) buses on May 29, 2002. Three of the bombs went off, injuring 13 persons. The blasts were shown to be a reaction to the 2002 riots.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/56942779.cms

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Sadiq Jamal Encounter: CBI court reserves order on discharge plea of accused cop (Feb 5, 2017, Indian Express)

A special CBI court on Saturday reserved its verdict on the discharge application moved by retired Deputy Superintendent of Police K M Vaghela, an accused in the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter case. The court is likely to pronounce the order on February 28.

This is the first discharge application moved by an accused in this case. Vaghela has claimed that there is evidence against him in the case. He has also claimed that the CBI has not taken mandatory sanction from the state government under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for prosecuting a government servant.

Vaghela is among the eight policemen, including DySP Tarun Barot, who were chargesheeted by the CBI in December 2012. All the accused are out on bail. The second chargesheet is being awaited as the investigation is not yet over.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/sadiq-jamal-encounter-cbi-court-reserves-order-on-discharge-plea-of-accused-cop/

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Husband jailed for rioting, wife gets BJP ticket for UP election (Feb 3, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Suchi Chaudhury, the Bharatiya Janta Party’s candidate for Bijnor City, sat beside a giant stuffed teddy bear embroidered with the words “So Sweet”, and explained why she was contesting one of the tightest seats in Uttar Pradesh’s pivotal election.…

Chaudhury’s husband, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member Aishwarya “Mausam” Chaudhury, is one of 31 people currently in jail for allegedly inciting a communal riot between Jats and Muslims in the villages of Peda and Nayagaon in September 2016 in which three Muslims were shot dead and scores were injured. The violence was part of a string of similar clashes that have polarised the region’s Jats and Muslims into opposing camps.

Forty three percent of Bijnor’s population is Muslim, 20 percent is Dalit, the remaining are land-owning Jats and assorted general castes, making this seat a bellwether for the many forces that have made Uttar Pradesh’s election so hard to call.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/assembly-elections/husband-jailed-for-rioting-wife-gets-bjp-ticket-for-up-election/story-BDh1Kln3ghF0hjzLbfoZ0I.html

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BJP and RSS targeting SCAM – SCs and minorities: Sitaram Yechury (Feb 6, 2017, First Post)

Attacking the BJP-led central government, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Sunday alleged minorities and people belonging to the Scheduled Castes were being targeted by the Sangh Parivar outfits under the watch of the Narendra Modi government.

“Yesterday, the Prime Minister, speaking at a rally in Uttar Pradesh where elections are going on, said the BJP and RSS are in a big struggle against what he called the SCAM.” “…If the Prime Minister is saying that he is fighting the SCAM, the RSS and the BJP are fighting the SCAM – Scheduled Castes and Minorities – in our country,” he told a rally organised by the DYFI here as part of its national conference. Modi had on Saturday said the election in Uttar Pradesh was BJP’s fight against ‘scam’; ‘S’ for Samajwadi, ‘C’ for Cong, ‘A’ for Akhilesh, ‘M’ for Mayawati.

Referring to the incidents of attack against Dalits and minorities in the country after the Modi government assumed office, Yechury alleged that the BJP government was completely against the Dalits and minorities.…

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/bjp-and-rss-targeting-scam-scs-and-minorities-sitaram-yechury-3268252.html

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Congress seeks parliamentary probe into Ahamed’s death (Feb 6, 2017, The Hindu)

Led by their leader Rahul Gandhi, Congress MPs on Monday demanded a parliamentary probe into the death of IUML leader and Kerala MP E. Ahamed. The MPs demonstrated in the Parliament complex, accusing the Modi government of hushing up the veteran MP’s death in a hospital ahead of the annual Union Budget’s presentation on February 1.

Holding a placard that read “We are Ahamed Sahib,” Mr. Gandhi along with Congress colleagues staged the protest near the Mahatma Gandhi statue that faces Parliament. Former Union Minister and Indian Union Muslim League leader Ahamed was declared dead hours before Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the union budget in Parliament on February 1. The opposition has said that he died a day earlier, but the Modi government kept the news under wraps to ensure that the budget presentation was not disrupted.

“Ahamed was unnecessarily kept on life support when he had already expired. They wanted to hide this fact, they hushed up his death. That is why we are demanding a Parliamentary Committee to be formed to probe the matter,” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge told the media.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Congress-seeks-parliamentary-probe-into-Ahameds-death/article17201593.ece1

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Attack on top academic: Why Chhattisgarh govt isn’t acting against unruly mob, cops, ask Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy (Jan 30, 2017, Counterview)

A group of 35 well-known activists led by Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar and Magsaysay award winning right to information campaigner Aruna Roy have said that Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh’s assurance of safety following the recent attack on top academic Bela Bhatia has not followed with “any strong action”.

Singh “assurance” comes a day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s support to Bela Bhatia. Meeting her, Singh, who met her in in Jagdalpur, assured her of “all protection and the freedom to continue her work among the tribals”, adding, she could “continue to live at her present location”, and if feeling insecure, she could be “alternative accommodation in Bastar.”

Insisting that there has not been “any strong action on unruly mobs and abusive, law-breaking police officers” who were responsible for the mob attack on Bhatia’s house, situated in Parpa village near Jagdalpur in Bastar region, the statement says, failure to take firm action suggests there would be no let down in threats on activists who are fighting for tribals’ cause.…

http://www.counterview.net/2017/01/attack-on-top-academic-why-is.html

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Maharashtra Textbook Shocker: ‘Ugliness’ Leads to Dowry (Feb 2, 2017, The Wire)

The sociology textbook prescribed by the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Education for class XII students lists ‘ugliness’ as a cause of dowry.

Reflecting a deeply regressive mindset, the textbooks claims, “If a girl is ugly and handicapped, then it becomes difficult for her to get married.” Following this line of argument, the section suggests that when “such girls” have to get married, the bridegroom’s family demands more dowry, and the girl’s parents “become helpless” and pay the demanded dowry.

The book, Sociology Standard XII, authored by six people and published by the state board, discusses dowry under the chapter ‘Major Social Problems in India’, which also includes sections of gender inequality, domestic violence and farmer suicides among other things.…

https://thewire.in/105146/maharashtra-sociology-textbook-blames-ugliness-dowry/

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Has BJP’s Hindutva campaign ‘using’ Shah Rukh Khan reached health ministry? (Feb 7, 2017, Dailyo.in)

While whipping up passion on communal lines, the BJP government not just seems to be turning a blind eye to a health campaign, but also playing a sly game of dividing Bollywood. According to a report in The Indian Express, the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) is awaiting approval from the health ministry for videos it shot in December with Shah Rukh Khan to promote awareness about eye ailments – “Eye Hear You” campaign.

Union health minister JP Nadda is reportedly unhappy that he had not been consulted at an earlier stage when it could have been shot with someone else. And this someone else is none other than Hrithik Roshan.… So, is it true that the Raees versus Kaabil frenzy was not merely a box-office battle but an attempted Hindu versus Muslim hysteria by the BJP? Because that kind of explains why BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya entered the pre-release campaign (of the two movies), and tweeted: “Jo Raees desh ka nahi, wo kisi kaam ka nahi. Aur ekj Kaabil deshbhakt ka saath, toh hum sabhi ko dena hi chahiye (The rich who don’t belong to the country are of no use. The able patriot is the one we should all support)”. …

Muslim actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan have been attacked as “anti-nationalist” in the past as well because of their religion. The BJP general secretary had asked his supporters to boycott Dangal because Aamir Khan had spoken about Kiran Rao’s fears of growing religious intolerance in India.…The party surely seems to be losing its vision, forget bad and worse governance.

http://www.dailyo.in/variety/bjp-shahrukh-khan-hindu-muslim-hrithik-roshan-kailash-vijayvargiya-health-ministry-ad/story/1/15535.html

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Pune techie murder: HC asks Maha to produce all evidence against Hindu Rashtra Sena leader (Feb 2, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The Bombay high court on Wednesday asked the state to place on record the charge sheet and all adverse evidence against the main accused in the murder of Pune techie Mohsin Shaikh.

The HC is hearing a plea filed by the accused, Hindu Rashtra Sena leader Dhananjay Desai, asking for the charges of murder and attempt to murder charges against him be dropped. The case generated much furore recently, when another bench of the high court granted bail to the other men accused in the case, saying they had been “provoked in the name of religion”.

IT professional Shaikh was attacked on June 2, 2014, by a mob in Pune’s Hadapsar during violence that erupted over a social media post. Around half-an-hour before the attack, Desai was allegedly addressing a meeting that instigated the audience to violence.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/pune-techie-murder-hc-asks-maha-to-produce-all-evidence-against-hindu-rashtra-sena-leader/story-okffoarKqxcFMO0LRGq8uO.html

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Opinions and Editorials

UP Elections 2017: BJP’s Divisive Agenda – By Ram Puniyani (Feb 7, 2017, The Citizen)

The forthcoming UP Assembly Elections (2017) are regarded as very crucial for all the political parties and more so for the future of secularism and democracy in the country. BJP’s rise on the national scene began at a higher pitch with the Ram Temple agitation and the consequent rise in communal violence. Since then it has been adding more divisive issues and with greater vehemence to reap electoral benefits.

Even before the elections in UP were declared many BJP leaders had been raising issues like Ram Temple, Love Jihad and exodus of Hindus from Kairana. In Gujarat, during the Gujarat carnage used the infamous ‘action-reaction’ theory and the statement that refugee camps have become ‘child production centers’ and so should be closed down. In due course to give a neutral cover to the underlying communal agenda the government then under Chief Minister Narendra Modi did shift to the ‘development agenda’, which was more of an eye wash.

Along with the media blitz and a clever publicity the state government tried to sell his image of ‘development man’ and took the policies to woo the Corporate World. But the slip always kept showing. Even during the creation of euphoria of ‘Acche Din’ during 2014 General elections, PM Modi raised the issue of Pink revolution (relating to beef) and Bangladeshi immigrants in the context of saving Rhinos in Assam. His associates did keep talking of issues related to Hindutva agenda like Ram Temple, Triple Talaq, Article 370 at the same time. The propaganda of development and communal message carried the day for BJP during 2014 elections as it managed to get simple majority on its own in Lok Sabha. Now Election Commission has censured BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj for his remarks where he blames Muslims for the rise in population.…

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/4/9879/UP-Elections-2017-BJPs-Divisive-Agenda

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Hype without Substance – Editorial (Feb 4, 2017, EPW)

The Union Budget for 2017–18, the fourth presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of the Narendra Modi government, … has been pitched as “pro-poor,” benefiting farmers, and one that would lead to a more “progressive” tax structure and a reduction in the generation of black money. However, the chances of the budget alleviating the plight of the disadvantaged, reducing inequality, creating jobs, bringing down the bad loans advanced by public sector banks, and significantly improving the working of social welfare programmes, seem rather remote.

A close look at the budget documents reveals that none of these claims may hold good, that the budget is more hype than substance and, importantly, appears to be trying hard to assuage the hurt and pain suffered by ordinary Indians, in particular the poor, on account of the massive disruption caused to the country’s economy by demonetisation.…

There is no explicit acknowledgement in the budget that the rate of growth of the economy is decelerating and that there is a case for expansionary fiscal policy. To sum up, despite the hype and the rhetoric surrounding the allegedly “pro-poor, anti-rich” stance of the budget, it comprises a set of proposals that underwhelm and is unlikely to reduce inequalities nor make a big difference to the lives of the country’s underprivileged.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2017/5/editorials/hype-without-substance.html

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The show limps on – By Divya Trivedi (Feb 17, 2017, Frontline)

…Vibrant Gujarat, considered the biggest public relations exercise of all time, sadly, failed to live up to the hype. Local newspapers wrote about how farmers from nearby villages were brought to the event wearing suits to fill up the seats. Nobel laureates had to fend for their own seats, with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan walking out in frustration.

Reporters’ movements were controlled and they were not provided access to the events they wanted to attend. “This is Modi showing us our place in his grand scheme of things. As he and his cronies control most of our owners, he can seat or unseat us as he pleases,” said an exasperated reporter who was prevented from entering a tent serving tea while waiting for more than an hour for Modi’s arrival.

There was even an ATM inside the venue and several attendees flocked to it but got scared when it debited the money from their accounts without dispensing cash. “Waah re Modi’s digital India!” quipped a victim.…

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/the-show-limps-on/article9511607.ece

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The BJP’s Social Media Armies Seek To Divide – By Derek O’Brien (Feb 5, 2017, NDTV)

…As it happens, the only party that has consistently attacked the government on economic issues is the Trinamool Congress. We have paid for it. Central agencies have targeted Bengal and arrested our party MPs on trumped-up charges, without sufficient evidence. The social media armies of the BJP have systematically threatened religious harmony and social peace in Bengal. I stressed this in the Rajya Sabha, explaining how “Digital India” was being turned into “Divisive India”.

The examples I gave should be scary and worrying for anybody in government. Out of nothing, a Twitter trend was created by manipulating timelines and using hashtags like ‘#BengalIsBurning’. A mischief-maker uses Photoshop to concoct an incident and his cohorts ensure it goes viral. They pretend it is an organised religious attack. Actually, it is a made-up case, a hoax.

Who is behind all this? What connection do some of the Twitter handles and social media accounts associated with such campaigns have with the ruling party in Delhi? Why is Bengal being singled out? Is it because Trinamool has taken such an adamant and principled stand against the BJP regime’s whimsical and irresponsible policies?

http://www.ndtv.com/opinion/alert-digital-india-is-actually-divisive-india-1656222

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Why Bombay HC granting bail to Hindu Rashtra Sena men in Mohsin Shaikh murder case is worrisome – By Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves (Feb 3, 2017, Dailyo.in)

Proceedings in Justice Mridula Bhatkar’s courtroom at Bombay High Court are conducted briskly, even brusquely. A speedy pace of case disposal leaves scant cause for complaint due to delay. However, one of the cases disposed in January 2017 has been the subject of much comment and criticism by the legal fraternity and other sections of civil society. A group of lawyers from Pune has even petitioned the Chief Justice of the court to take suo-moto cognisance and quash the order, which they feel gives sufficient ground for doubting the court’s religious impartiality.

The court had granted bail, an act normally worth commending in a country where courts often do not implement the principle of “bail not jail” laid down 40 years ago by the Supreme Court. It was not the fact of grant of bail but the reasoning given by the court that was at issue. The accused were three persons of the Hindu Rashtra Sena, charged with the murder of a Muslim engineer, Mohsin Shaikh. It was in the nature of a hate crime, with the religion of the deceased being the only reason for his killing. However Justice Bhatkar’s reasoning was that the religious motivation for the crime was a factor in favour of the accused, which entitled them to bail.…

Rather, there is a distinct possibility of other courts selectively advancing along the jurisprudential direction indicated by Bhatkar, to provide succour to those involved in similarly inspired hate and terror attacks. The devilish consequences for our society and polity can well be imagined.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/mridula-bhatkar-judgment-hindu-rashtra-sena-mohsin-shaikh-maya-kodnani-nia-jihadis/story/1/15465.html

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The tyranny of populism – By Sashi Kumar (Feb 17, 2017, Frontline)

…Those of us nonplussed and upset by the public upsurge this Pongal season in Tamil Nadu in defiance of the May 2014 ruling by the Supreme Court, which effectively banned jallikkattu, and provided the state with a handle, which it eagerly seized, to undo the court order, can only seek solace in the hope that it is a long habit of not thinking the thing wrong that gave this cruel sport the false prestige or gravitas of tradition and fomented the widespread public resentment against its ban, and that with time its inhumane, cruel and lethal manifestation and consequences will speak to the Tamil collective conscience and change hearts.

That, though, would be an excruciatingly gradualist move towards a modern, rational and progressive social order, towards realising the scientific temper and humaneness enshrined in the Constitution. Excruciating, because many more bulls will be tortured and maimed and killed, and many more people will be injured and lose their lives before we consensually let go of this primitive practice.…

The way closure, at least for now, has been applied on the jallikkattu imbroglio may lead to different, perhaps undesirable, outcomes in similar situations where the judiciary, a section of the people and the government are involved in a three-way face-off.

http://www.frontline.in/columns/Sashi_Kumar/the-tyranny-of-populism/article9512009.ece

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Book Review

Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir

Author: Teesta Setalvad
Reviewed by: Binu Mathew
Available at: Amazon-Kindle Direct Publishing. http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Teesta Setalvad: Foot Soldier Of The Indian Constitution (Feb 7, 2017, Countercurrents)

…When Teesta Setalvad’s memoir “Foot Soldier of the Constitution” appeared I simply could not resist. Her indomitable spirit in spite all the wild allegations, smearing of reputation, false cases, public humiliation, personal attacks and trolling amazed me. I wanted to know what keeps her growing. Thankfully, this book has all the answers.

We all know Teesta Setalvad as the face of the Gujarat justice movement. In fact, she is the engine that powers this movement. Without her, could there have been fight for justice for the victims of Gujarat pogrom? Without Teesta and her team at “Citizens for justice and Peace” I sincerely doubt that there could have been so many convictions including that of a minister.

But Teesta’s work for justice and communal harmony doesn’t start in 2002. It started way back in 1984 communal violence in Bombay. She also was also at the forefront reporting and organising for peace and harmony in the post Babri-Masjid riots in Bombay during 1992-93. It was these experiences that shaped Teesta the “Foot Soldier of the Constitution”.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/02/07/teesta-setalvad-foot-soldier-of-the-constitution/

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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 8th, 2014

by newsdigest on September 9, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Home ministry maintains secrecy over shredded govt files (Sep 3, 2014, Times of India)

The Modi government’s cleanliness drive saw 11,000 home ministry files being disposed of within a month of it assuming office, but what remains shrouded in secrecy two months later is what files were destroyed and the method of destruction. The home ministry in reply to an RTI query said: “List of files which are destroyed is being compiled. This can be made available in due course on payment of requisite fee. You may write to us if so desired. (sic)”

After a row erupted over the destruction of files and allegations of the government trying to rewrite history, home minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that no file relating to Mahatma Gandhi, former president Rajendra Prasad, former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri or the last Indian viceroy Lord Mountbatten has been destroyed. “Files have been categorized as per the mandate of the manual of office procedure,” he had told the Rajya Sabha.

But the home ministry reply to the RTI query states that these files are still being compiled. Venkatesh Nayak, RTI activist and programmes coordinator with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, who filed the RTI, said it was surprising that the home ministry destroyed the files without preparing a list for review.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/41566191.cms

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Hindu hardliners unrepentant a year after India riots (Sep 5, 2014, Yahoo)

An unrepentant Jasbir Singh smirked as he contemplated the changes to his village in the year since hundreds of Muslims fled a terrifying wave of deadly communal violence in northern India. “All the filth has now gone,” Singh said at a gathering with fellow Hindu elders in the flashpoint Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh state. … But while few of the victims have been able to return home – many of them forced to eke out a living in squalid displacement camps – sympathy appears in short supply among their former neighbours. …

Last year’s violence was the deadliest in the state since the Ayodhya carnage, erupting just months before May’s general election which was won by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While new Prime Minister Narendra Modi largely avoided the topic of religion during his campaign, many Muslims remain wary of a man who was chief minister of Gujarat when Hindu mobs went on a murderous rampage in the state in 2002.

Modi is now one of Uttar Pradesh’s members of parliament, along with two BJP lawmakers arrested for their alleged role in the Muzaffarnagar violence. One of them, Sanjeev Balyan, is a junior government minister. In an Independence Day speech, Modi called for an end to communal violence, which he said was stunting growth. But on the ground in Muzaffarnagar, resentment among Hindus towards Muslims shows little sign of abating…

https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/24909476/hindu-hardliners-unrepentant-a-year-after-india-riots/

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‘Cops framing Muslims for Vadodara riots’ (Sep 3, 2014, Times of India)

Former M S University (MSU) professor and activist J S Bandukwala has alleged that the police are arresting innocent persons belonging to minority community after the recent communal riots in the city. Bandukwala and some minority community leaders met city police commissioner E Radhakrishnan on Tuesday and urged him to take action against the people who are actually involved in the riots.

“Large numbers of Muslims have been wrongly arrested in the city after the recent communal riots. While riots have been happening during Ganesh festivals for the past 40 years, this time it is being done deliberately ahead of Lok Sabha bypolls here. The BJP is trying to polarize voters to win by a good margin,” Bandukwala alleged.

He also said most of the minority community members arrested by the police are poor working class people. “Those actually involved in the rioting with the help of politicians should be arrested. I have urged the police commissioner to not arrest innocent persons,” Bandukwala added.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/41584002.cms

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Media trials: SC calls for norms on reporting, police briefing (Sep 4, 2014, Indian Express)

Convinced that victim’s rights are often trampled upon by unbridled media coverage of criminal incidents and trial court proceedings, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stepped up the legal process to frame guidelines for reporting by media and press briefing by the police.

A bench of Chief Justice R M Lodha and Justice Rohinton F Nariman asserted that the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression that the media has must be balanced with the right to life, liberty and dignity of the victims, exposed to perils after unrestrained disclosure of information.

It has sought detailed responses from the Centre, states and Union Territories within six weeks on the regulatory mechanism, either existing or proposed, so that the bench could focus clearly on the areas where guidelines were required to be framed.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/media-trials-sc-calls-for-norms-on-reporting-police-briefing/

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After Reconversion, Shivpuri Family Hints at Pressure From Hindu Groups, Foul Play by Police (Sep 6, 2014, NDTV)

The twists and turns in the Shivpuri religious conversion case continue – this time with the family in the eye of the storm coming up with a series of allegations that muddies the waters further. Within the span of one week, Maniram Jatav’s family has been arrested for converting to Islam, been released and reconverted to Hinduism. Now they claim the police had tried to twist their statement and indicate that their reconversion was a result of pressure.

“On September 2, VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) leader Ashutosh had an argument with my son about reconversion. The administration did not come to our help,” Maniram told NDTV. “After we were arrested, the police tried to manipulate my statement and establish that I converted to Islam because I was offered money.” …

Four men of the family had got arrested and seven others were detained when they tried to rectify that mistake and inform the administration. One day later, they were released. And hours after that, they underwent a shuddhikaran, or purification ceremony, at a temple in presence of Bajrang Dal and RSS members and embraced Hinduism again. …

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/after-reconversion-shivpuri-family-hints-at-pressure-from-hindu-groups-foul-play-by-police-587516

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‘Love Jihad’ and religious conversion polarise in Narendra Modi’s India (Sep 6, 2014, DNA India)

Fired up and full of vitriol, Hindu activist Rajeshwar Singh is on a mission to end centuries of religious diversity in India, one conversion at a time. His voice echoing off the walls of a Protestant church across a narrow street, Singh railed against foreign faiths at an event last week to convert a Christian family to Hinduism in the rural town of Hasayan, 140 km (87 miles) south of Delhi.

“We will cleanse our Hindu society. We will not let the conspiracy of church or mosque succeed in Bharat (India),” he said, standing in the family’s front yard by a ritual fire lit to purify the poor, lower-caste converts.

Emboldened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise to power in May, leaders of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have joined right-wing activists like Singh to openly declare India a nation of Hindus, posing a challenge to its multi-faith constitutional commitment. …

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-love-jihad-and-religious-conversion-polarise-in-narendra-modi-s-india-2016675

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Amit Shah faces flak for communal tension remark (Sep 7, 2014, Hindu Businessline)

Congress leader Manish Tewari on Sunday lashed out at BJP President Amit Shah for saying that if communal tension continues in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP will form the next government in the State. Tewari said the Election Commission should disqualify the BJP on grounds of communalising the country’s political process.

“If this is the fundamental idea of BJP in order to get electoral advantage, the Election Commission and courts must take suo moto advantage. It makes out a clear case for the disqualification of the Bharatiya Janata Party on grounds of politicisation, on grounds of communalising the political processes,” said Tewari.

India TV on Sunday issued a clarification stating that Shah had clearly told the channel that his party never tries to win elections by taking recourse to communal tensions. It quoted Shah as having said in Rajat Sharma’s Aap Ki Adalat programme that BJP garners votes on the basis of its policies and programmes. …

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/politics/amit-shah-faces-flak-for-communal-tension-remark/article6388693.ece

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Recruitment of minority in government services grew little in past 6 years (Sep 3, 2014, DNA India)

Pointing out relative deprivation of the Muslim Community for the first time in 2006, Justice Rajinder Sachar committee had stated that the Muslims constitute 14 per cent of India’s population but only one out of 25 university students is Muslim and their share in bureaucracy is just 2.5 per cent. To overcome the deficit, the state and central ministries have been advised to give special consideration in recruitment to the candidates belonging to the minority communities through the PM’s special 15-point programme. A deeper analysis into the recruitment statistics however reveals things changed little in past six years.

Share of five minority communities – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis in the recruitment of central Government services, public sector undertaking companies, banks and paramilitary between 2006-2011 forces grew from 6.93% to 10.18% but dropped to 6.24% in 2011-12, says the statistics compiled by the Amitabh Kundu committee sourcing the data from the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs. …

Though the number of candidates belonging to minority communities who bagged the job in central government and PSUs grew from 12,182 to 18,379 in past six years, their share among the total recruits remained below 7% in 2011-12 of which share of Muslims is expected to be around 4%. …

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-recruitment-of-minority-in-government-services-grew-little-in-past-6-years-2015769

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62-year-old Shiv Sena leader held for raping minor in Mumbai (Sep 5, 2014, Times of India)

A Shiv Sena deputy district president, Vasudev Nambiar (62), has been arrested for allegedly sexually exploiting a 15-year-old Mira Road girl over nine months. The girl, who was seven months pregnant, recently delivered a premature boy.

The Kashimira police said Nambiar has been sexually abusing the class IX student, who used to visit a temple run by him, since January. When she got pregnant, he threatened her. Her parents found out about the abuse only when she got pregnant.

On Thursday, the survivor filed a police complaint and Nambiar was booked under IPC section 376 (rape) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/41813017.cms

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State creating a dalit-less Chennai: Evicted residents (Sep 5, 2014, Times of India)

The atmosphere was surcharged at a review meeting held by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, with members of the community alleging that the government was on a mission to create a ‘dalit-less Chennai’ by evicting them to Okkiyam Thoraipakkam on Old Mahabalipuram Road where tenements built by the government lacked basic amenities.

The review meeting by the National Commission for SC for Chennai district had officials representing various government departments such as Chennai Corporation, Slum Clearance Board and Police. The participants were up against the eviction of hundreds of families who were hitherto living along water bodies. With in-situ housing being ruled out, it is alleged that their education and daily earning is hit.

“A majority of those living in slums are dalits, and by displacing them to far off places, the state is creating a dalit-less city,” said R Kannan of Movement of Slum Dwellers’ Right to Livelihood. “Let the government take up restoration of water courses, but it should also consider in-situ housing rather than throwing us out of the city.” …

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/41728220.cms

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Opinions and Editorials

Back to Basics – Editorial (Sep 6, 2014, EPW)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is supposed to have won the recent general elections on the basis of its campaign on “development”. Vikas is supposed to have been the strong pitch for transforming India – accomplishing in 60 months what the Congress and other governments could not do in 60 years – into a developed country that created the electoral tsunami which carried the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, the “vikas purush”, to power.

While it may well be true that some voters were swayed by this massive public relations exercise, a look at the electoral evidence also suggests that vicious communal divisions played a significant role in giving the BJP an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. The sweep in Uttar Pradesh would have been impossible without the execution of the well-planned Muzaffarnagar riots where Muslim communities in the rural areas were systematically targeted and an atmosphere of communal tension and suspicion was created in the entire state. A spillover of this was also the electoral bounty in Haryana.

The showing in Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, etc, also cannot be accounted for without the killings, general violence and displacement of Muslims, for instance, in Assam’s Bodo-dominated areas. Other states like Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, etc, also saw openly aggressive campaigns on communal issues accomplished by the BJP and other Hindutva organisations. Given the reach of the BJP’s high voltage “360 degree” media campaign, these communal pitches did not remain local but had a national effect.

Depending on the analysis, it is possible that anything from 50 to 75 of the 283 seats that the BJP won in the general elections were primarily due to the proximate reasons of communal violence between Hindus and Muslims (and also Christians). Those who have studied the popular mobilisations and political strategies of the Sangh Parivar would agree that the total number of seats won by the BJP through communal mobilisations would be much higher than the conservative psephological estimate we give here.

If communal polarisation of the electorate to build a Hindutva vote bank was a constant presence in the general election campaign, it has only seen a sharpening in the, supposedly important, “first 100 days” of the BJP-led government in office. An important way in which this has been done is the strategy of the Sangh Parivar to calibrate communal violence and hate campaigns in a way so as to keep it “under the radar”. …

http://www.epw.in/editorials/back-basics.html

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Beware, I’ll Turn Hindu – By Hasan Suroor (Sep 15, 2014, Outlook)

Dear Shri Mohan Bhagwatji, Namaskar. After carefully pondering over your call for all Indians to be regarded as Hindus, I’m delighted to inform you that I’ve decided to become a Hindu. The first ‘Hindu Muslim’ in secular India! Or should it be a ‘Muslim Hindu’, sir? Kindly guide me because these days yours is the last word. That Modi fellow you’ve installed as prime minister is more bark than bite. You’re the real deal! …

But, Bhagwatji, before you start trumpeting my decision as a “victory” for the RSS, I wish to disabuse you of any notion that I’m submitting to its diktat. Far from it. Actually, I’m trying to call its bluff. And here’s why. You know as well as I do that the RSS is running a phoney cultural war aimed at keeping the minorities, especially Muslims, in a constant state of terror. The more we squeal, protest and plead in the name of secularism and cultural diversity, the more emboldened it gets. But what if we stop squealing, protesting and pleading? And, instead, start pretending to play ball?

For decades, the issue of Muslim identity has provided a fertile ground for the RSS to bash them. But, sir, Muslims have now become smart, don’t be surprised if they call your bluff – get your lot off their back so that they can then get on with their lives? If I were in your position, heading an organisation whose ideological raison d’etre rests on provoking Muslims and then feeding on their fear and anger, I would be a worried man. Because with Muslims now inside the ‘Hindu tent’, whither project Muslim bashing? In a sense, it’s almost “mission accomplished” for the RSS. The enemy tamed and ‘Hindufied’. Time to shut shop and go home. …

What I’m trying to impress upon you is that while Muslims have become street-smarter, so to speak, and picked up new survival tricks, the RSS remains stuck in a time warp. By overplaying its majoritarian card, its bite has lost its sting. In reality, it never had more than nuisance value, but even that is seeping away, with Muslims, wiser by experience, choosing to ignore it. Crucially, Muslims have lost their old fear of the RSS as the new generation has a more realistic sense of their place in India and sees such groups as something that comes with the territory when you are in a minority. The Muslim Right, which fed the RSS, has also considerably weakened, leaving less room for it to dress up its attacks as Hindu reaction to Muslim provocations. …

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Beware-Ill-Turn-Hindu/291886

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Looking for peace in Saharanpur – By Mohammad Ali (Sep 7, 2014, The Hindu)

The BJP, Samajwadi Party and Congress are gearing up for the September 13 bypoll for the Saharanpur city Assembly constituency which fell vacant after the then BJP MLA Ragahav Lakahanpal became the MP from Saharanpur Lok Sabha segment.

The residents of the Saharanpur city which saw communal clashes in July, however, appeared more concerned about maintaining harmony in the city than the bypoll.

Now that peace is crawling its way back in Saharanpur, the civil society desperately wants the bypoll to get over, fearing that politicians’ might yet again attempt to polarise weeks ahead of the September 13 bypolls.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/looking-for-peace-in-saharanpur/article6386620.ece

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Modi-ji, There is Such a Thing as PR Overkill – By Pawan Khera (Sep 6, 2014, NDTV)

If the UPA 2 was an example of a PR disaster, NDA under Modi is proving to be a PR overkill. Not much has changed between BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Modi. He was campaigning then, he is campaigning now. The difference being that now the government ends up paying for his PR excesses. What appeared to be an effective means for him to communicate with the voters, Modi’s oratory now comes across as an end in itself. …

What happened on Teacher’s Day is unprecedented in terms of the way 1.8 million schools were mandated to organize live transmission of Prime Minister’s interaction with 14 million students. Teachers were incidental to the program, except that they had to hire equipment, rent auditoriums, tutor children and later prepare compliance reports. Some schools went a step further and decided to organize a quiz based on the Prime Minister’s speech and add marks to the finals.

All this to cater to the fundamental urge of the Prime Minister to talk. To talk, not about what problems our 5 million teachers face; not even about children but to talk about his favorite subject – himself. Students were made to ask questions tailored to ensure the Prime Minister was able to talk about Bal Narendra. And if people were expecting him to address issues of under equipped, under staffed schools and under paid teachers, they were hugely disappointed. In fact, he ended up insulting teachers by saying that people who fail at becoming doctors and engineers end up becoming teachers. …

Such is the apprehension about this regime that the CBSE’s circular asking students of class XI and XII to furnish their mobile phone numbers and email IDs is being viewed with suspicion across the country and termed as an invasion of privacy. The exercise is being seen as an attempt to create a database to be used for non-academic purposes by the state. For those who were confused whether it was children’s day or teacher’s day, the answer is it was neither. It was a day of Narendra Modi.

http://www.ndtv.com/article/opinion/modi-ji-there-is-such-a-thing-as-pr-overkill-587613

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Why Intel Agencies Are Wary Of Hiring Muslims And Sikhs – By Brijesh Singh (Sep 13, 2014, Tehelka)

…Intelligence agencies in India have long followed an unwritten ‘no entry’ policy for Muslims (though there have been a few Muslim officers in the IB), while Sikhs are banned from SPG, formed in 1984 to provide security to the prime minister, and the National Security Guard (NSG), the elite anti-terror force functioning under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. “This is not a new policy. There have been no Muslim officers in RAW since its formation in 1969,” says a former RAW officer. “It has its own reasons for following this policy.”

According to a senior IPS officer, the unwritten rule barring Muslims from sensitive wings of the intelligence agencies was extended to the Sikhs as well following the 1984 assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. “It is true that Muslims and Sikhs are not deployed for VVIP security. We have witnessed the assassination of a prime minister and a former prime minister (Rajiv Gandhi) in the past due to security lapses. The SPG forms the final security cordon, so we cannot afford to take any risks with it,” says a former police officer, who has worked with the SPG.

Not just RAW and SPG, but the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), which deals with technical surveillance, and Military Intelligence (MI) too have barred the entry of Muslims. “Nothing can be done about it now since it has become the norm and no one finds it odd,” says an MI officer. Talking to TEHELKA, former special secretary (RAW) Amar Bhushan opined that “there is a conscious effort to keep Muslims out of sensitive and strategic areas”. According to Bhushan, this reflects a bias against the community. …

Sources close to RAW reveal that there has been a debate over the agency’s recruitment policy since a long time now. But a group of officers have always been strongly averse to the idea of any change. An initiative in this regard was undertaken when PK Hormis Tharakan headed RAW (2005-07). He formed a committee to find ways to ensure that religious bias does not affect recruitment. However, the committee never submitted any report nor did the policy change.

Former IB joint director MK Dhar writes in his book Open Secrets (2005) that his anti-Muslim beliefs got strengthened while he was being trained for the IB. “I was surprised to find that the RSS and the IB shared an anti-Muslim attitude,” he writes. “During training, Muslims were projected as a threat to the system. This attitude was instilled in the officers’ minds.”…

http://www.tehelka.com/the-bias-against-minorities-in-intelligence-recruitments/

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Top Sleuth Under Scanner – By Ushinor Majumdar (Sep 13, 2014, Tehelka)

No other controversy undid the Congress- led UPA government as the 2G telecom scam. It eventually led to a huge win for Narendra Modi. It also brought into prominence a forgotten constitutional office, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, and the officer himself, Vinod Rai, who put a figure to the loss to the public exchequer. Rarely have people cheered so much for a government officer, least of all for a CAG.

Hence, the common man would think that the 2G scam probe would be a priority for the investigation agency in charge, the CBI. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also probing the money trail in the scam. However, it appears that an invisible hand seems to be guiding the investigation of this scam. Externally, lawyers and others are told that the ‘competent authority’ in the CBI is taking the calls. …

An accompanying letter spoke about a ‘competent authority’, which had approved the said draft counter-affidavit to be filed by the CBI. It is believed that it was none other than CBI director Ranjit Sinha. In April, Sinha had wanted that the replies should be sent separately for each of the petitions, while a single counter-affidavit was originally being prepared. …

Denying that it was looking into Sinha’s character, the apex court bench indicated that it will take a close look at CPIL’s submissions in regards to the CBI director. Sinha has a few months left in his term but shouldn’t the Centre look at his overall conduct and assess if he should continue for the remainder of his tenure?

http://www.tehelka.com/top-sleuth-ranjit-sinha-under-scanner/

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Book Review

The Emergence Of Regionalism In Mumbai – History of the Shiv Sena

Author: Sudha Gogate
Reviewed by: Suhas Palshikar
Available at: Popular Prakashan Pvt. Ltd., 301, Mahalaxmi Chambers, 22, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai-400026. Rs. 495.. http://www.popularprakashan.com/
Review:
Shiv Sena’s pre-history (Sep 1, 2014, The Hindu)

Politics of regionalism in India has always attracted attention for a variety of reasons. Regionalism may be seen as an unavoidable consequence of democratic contestations during the process of nation-building within a diverse society. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the factors that shape regionalism and the character of regional politics. The issues of language, material resources and identity are often intricately woven in the politics of regionalism. Shiv Sena represents one particular expression of such regional politics and therefore, has been a subject of scholarly attention right from its early days.

In the mid-seventies, a scholar of Sociology undertook her Ph.D. research on this phenomenon. The book under review is the outcome of that research. The author, Sudha Gogate, did not have the opportunity to revise her dissertation for purposes of publication since she passed away in 1987. This book therefore, is a doctoral dissertation written in 1978 and has neither the benefit of the author’s subsequent revisions nor the advantage of being brought up-to-date.

In spite of this limitation, this book has a very valuable relevance for those who want to understand Shiv Sena’s rise and also to those who want to address the complex issue of linguistic and regional identity in the context competitive politics. While existing works on Shiv Sena attempt to depict the working of the Sena, the personalities involved and the social composition of its activists in early years, etc., this work has a distinct advantage. It introduces us to the pre-history of Shiv Sena. …

http://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/shiv-senas-prehistory/article6370416.ece

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