IAMC Weekly News Roundup - April 10th, 2017 - IAMC
no-image IAMC

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 10th, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Hindu Cow Vigilantes in Rajasthan, India, Beat Muslim to Death (Apr 5, 2017, New York Times)

A 55-year-old man transporting cattle has died after being beaten by a mob of about 200 cow protection vigilantes in northern India, the police said on Wednesday. The vigilantes, who are Hindu and consider cows sacred, surrounded six vehicles carrying cattle on a highway connecting Jaipur to New Delhi on Saturday and pulled out five men, apparently Muslims, and beat them, said Rahul Prakash, superintendent of the police in Alwar, a city about 30 miles from the site of the attack, in Behror.

One of the men, Pehlu Khan, died of his injuries on Tuesday. An official from Mr. Khan’s village said that he was transporting cows for use in a dairy. He denied they were being transferred for slaughter, which is illegal in Rajasthan, the state where the attack took place. Video of the episode, which has circulated widely, showed men in white curled up on the roadside as they were kicked and whipped with belts and metal rods. The mob was so agitated that the police had to use force to disperse it, Mr. Prakash said.…

Mohsin, the local leader in Jaisinghpur, the village in the northern state of Haryana where Mr. Khan and his relatives lived, said the family had received all the necessary permission to transport dairy cows from Jaipur to Jaisinghpur for sale. He said the vehicles would ordinarily have been stopped at a police checkpoint where the police would have checked the paperwork. Instead, “the locals stopped Pehlu Khan’s vehicles at Behror and pulled them out,” said Mohsin, who like many Indians uses only one name. “The mob beat them ruthlessly and even robbed him of all his money.”…



[Back to Top]

Supreme Court asks Centre, states why cow vigilantes shouldn’t be banned (Apr 8, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The Supreme Court asked the central government and five BJP-ruled states on Friday to say within three weeks why cow protection groups shouldn’t be banned amid growing outrage against vigilantes accused of violence and even murder.

The directive came on a petition filed by Congress leaders Tehseen and Shehzad Poonawalla, who called for cow protection groups to be declared illegal, saying there has been a spike in instances of vigilantism. The court sought responses from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Rajasthan – all BJP ruled – as well as Congress-run Karnataka, setting May 3 for the next hearing. It also asked the Centre to reply.

The move came as the opposition attacked the government in Parliament for a second straight day for not doing enough to curb a spike in cow vigilantism. In Rajya Sabha, the Congress demanded an apology from Union minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for “denying” the lynching of a Muslim man by so-called cow protectors in Rajasthan last week. In October, the court had orally asked the states and Centre to file a response to Poonawalla’s petition. However it received no response. On Friday, Poonawalla’s counsel, Sanjay Hegde, insisted on a response, citing last week’s lynching of the Muslim man to particularly push Rajasthan to reply.…



[Back to Top]

Sheopur tense after RSS shakha row, 10 Muslims held (Apr 6, 2017, Indian Express)

Sheopur town of Madhya Pradesh is simmering since Sunday evening when a group of Muslims objected to a new RSS shakha in Gandhinagar locality and allegedly beat up more than 10 activists of the outfit. Police have so far arrested 10 Muslims in connection with the incident. One minor accused has been released on bail. In all, 76 Muslims, 60 of them unidentified, have been booked in four FIRs lodged in connection with the incident.

The RSS activists alleged that the Muslims did not want the shakha near a mosque. They also accused members of the community of raising anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans and uprooting the saffron flag of RSS. The activists alleged that they were stoned when they reached the police station late on Sunday night to lodge a complaint against the accused. On Monday, members of the Hindu community submitted a memorandum to the district administration and demanded immediate arrest of those named in the FIRs.

The next day, members of the Muslim community submitted a memorandum to the authorities, alleging that the community was being targeted and accused of offences it did not commit. The memorandum alleged that a group of right-wing Hindu activists had hurled stones at the mosque before they gathered for the shakha. Members of the community also said that they lodged two FIRs about separate attacks on Muslims, but the police have not acted on them. The memorandum further said that members of Muslim community wanted to take to the streets on Wednesday, but decided against it in view of the Ram Navami procession.…



[Back to Top]

Babri demolition: CBI tells Supreme Court Advani, 12 others part of larger conspiracy (Apr 6, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Senior BJP leader LK Advani and 12 others were part of a larger conspiracy to demolish the disputed Babri Masjid, the Central Bureau of Investigation told the Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing for charges to be revived against the politicians.

India’s premier probe agency told the top court that Advani and others hadn’t faced conspiracy charges based on technical reasons. The CBI wants the trial to be held in a Lucknow court.…

Earlier this month, the SC had hinted that it might revive criminal conspiracy charges against BJP and other Hindu right-wing leaders in the demolition case that was dropped by a special trial court in Lucknow on technical grounds. Other than Advani, the accused include senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, and a number of Vishwa Hindu Parishad members.



[Back to Top]

After armed rallies on Ram Navami, Imam of Tipu Mosque asks Mamata to ‘ban RSS’ in Bengal (Apr 6, 2017, DNA India)

Never ever had the state of West Bengal seen such widespread pomp over Ram Navami. In what has been a bid to unite the Hindus of the state by Rashtriya Sayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other wings of the Sangh Parivar, about 50 processions of different sizes were organised on the occasion of Ram Navami today in Kolkata.

Activists, bike borne and on foot, brandishing swords and chanting ‘Jay Shree Ram’ were seen in all the cases with giant size pictures of Lord Ram leading all the processions. Interestingly processions were taken out even at the Muslim-majority pockets such as Kidderpore where they also shouted slogans like ‘Hindu Raj Banayenge’ (will build Hindu rule).…

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, after an administrative meeting at Bankura district lashed out at the RSS and the BJP a public meeting and said that the celebration was aimed at dividing the state on the basis of religions.… On the other hand, Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid, Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, at another press conference said that RSS should be banned in India. “RSS is a threat to India and just as the US banned Taliban, RSS should be banned in the country. I will talk to the CM and request her to ban RSS in Bengal, because it is spreading communal tension everywhere,” Barkati said on the sidelines of the press conference.



[Back to Top]

BJP’s Raja Singh booked for his threat to behead those opposing Ram temple (Apr 10, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Hyderabad Police have booked controversial Bharatiya Janata Party legislator T Raja Singh for allegedly threatening to behead those who attempt to stop the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh and also making inflammatory and humiliating comments against Muslims.

Following a complaint by Mohammad Amjadullah Khan, spokesperson of a local political outfit Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), police filed a case against the BJP MLA, who represents the Goshamahal constituency in Hyderabad, late on Sunday night. Singh was booked under Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).…

In his complaint, Khan alleged that Singh made provocative speeches during Sri Ram Shobha Yatra at Jumeraat Bazar area on April 5 targeting the Muslim community several times on the pretext of the construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. Khan alleged that Singh had openly taunted the Muslims saying, “Tum hamare pair pakadloo, kahi na kahi hum tumhare Babar ki masjid banadenge (Come and touch our feet, we shall construct Babur’s mosque at some place or the other)”. He also pointed out at another comment made by Singh in the speech that they were ready to use lathis and bullets to achieve their goal of constructing the Ram temple. “It clearly shows he is openly challenging the law,” Khan said.…



[Back to Top]

CBSE biology students asked which is better, burial or cremation? (Apr 6, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The teachers and students described the Class 12 CBSE Biology paper as tricky and moderately difficult. However one question about cremation practices in the paper led to people questioning the HRD minister.

The question under Section D was based on air pollution and asked students to justify with arguments whether one should “bury” or “burn” to control air pollution.

“How is this question relevant to Biology? Does the CBSE want to promote burial and not burning? They even asked impressionable minds to give reasons in support,” said Alok Bhatt who tagged the question paper to the HRD minister Prakash Javadekar on Twitter.…



[Back to Top]

Is the NIA Actively Working to Keep Aseemanand Out of Jail? (Apr 9, 2017, The Wire)

In what appears to be an instance of sabotage, top officials of the highest investigative body, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) allegedly scuttled plans of its Hyderabad unit to challenge the bail granted to Aseemanand, the primary accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case. He was granted bail by a Hyderabad court on March 23.… Aseemanand, who is the primary accused in a number of bomb blasts including Mecca Masjid, Ajmer, Samjhauta Express and Malegaon that occurred between 2005 and 2007, walked out of Chanchalguda jail on April 1 after the NIA chose not to challenge the trial court order of March 23.

According to an Indian Express report, senior NIA officials in New Delhi rejected a proposal made by its Hyderabad office to challenge the bail. “There were sufficient grounds to challenge the bail order of Aseemanand and the High Court was at liberty to reject the agency’s move if there were no merits in the appeal. Among investigators, the opinion to appeal was very strong,” officials in Hyderabad, who spoke on condition of anonymity, were quoted as saying. …

NIA’s dilly-dallying in matters related to Hindutva militancy and its resultant failure to build solid cases will definitely be put into question. In most cases, the top security agency in the last three years has dismissed the earlier investigations done by state-level SITs. As a result, many of the primary accused like Aseemanand and Sadhvi Pragya have been having an easy time different trial courts.



[Back to Top]

Ex-Gujarat BJP chief minister disputes “clean chit” on scams under Modi, cites BM Shah panel report as proof (Apr 6, 2017, Counterview)

Former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta has said that the Gujarat government’s assertion about “clean chit” to it by the MB Shah Commission of Inquiry into 17 corruption cases has “no basis”, as the top panel, in its report says, it would “concur” with the conclusions arrived at, among others, by Supreme Court and Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on them.

Citing three instances from the voluminous 5,500 page report, tabled in the Gujarat state assembly on March 31, Mehta, flanked by senior office bearers of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), told newspersons, “In each of them, the Shah Commission refuses to give clean chit, saying it leaves the matter to high authorities for judging them.”…

The first case cited by Mehta, who was BJP chief minister in 1995-96, is of Indigold Refinery Ltd, which he said was allocated 36.25 acres of land in Kutch district for just Rs 70 lakh, even though the state revenue department officials had ruled against it. “The chief minister’s office (CMO) and revenue minister Anandiben Patel overruled the decision and ensured allocation”, he said.…



[Back to Top]

7 Bajrang Dal activists arrested for ‘misbehaving’ with woman (Mar 27, 2017, Deccan Herald)

The Karkala police on Sunday arrested seven Bajrang Dal activists on the charge of misbehaving with a woman by barging into her house at Tellar village near Karkala.

Additional Superintendent of Police Vishnuvardhan told DH that the arrested forcefully entered into the house claiming it to be a slaughterhouse. However, local residents prevented them and called the police immediately.

Meanwhile, a woman in the house lodged a complaint alleging that the activists misbehaved with her. Karkala Rural police have registered a case.…



[Back to Top]

Opinions and Editorials

The cow as cause – Vigilantism and the BJP – By Mukul Kesavan (Apr 9, 2017, The Telegraph)

…The cow is so totemic for the BJP that the murder of human beings in this animal’s cause makes responsible leaders resort to silence, deflection, denial, defensiveness or arguments in mitigation that would shame the moral sense of a three-year old.

One BJP leader asserted that the Muslim dairy farmer killed in Rajasthan hadn’t in fact been killed by the gau rakshaks who assaulted him. In this telling, he had died of shock days afterwards, so no blame could be attached to the men who had beaten him. Rajasthan’s home minister, Gulab Chand Kataria, described the murderous assault as ‘manhandling’.

After Pehlu Khan’s killing he was prepared to argue that it was legitimate for vigilantes to stop suspicious vehicles carrying cattle, as if the cause of cow protection automatically conferred authority and legitimacy to anyone acting in its name.…



[Back to Top]

‘Not my Hinduism’ should be our slogan – By Jyoti Punwani (Apr 10, 2017, Rediff)

How do we deal with the continued lynching of Muslims by gau rakshaks? In the 17 months since Mohammed Akhlaq was beaten to death in UP on suspicion of having cooked beef, eight Muslim men have been killed, two Muslim women raped, and almost 40 persons, including two women and seven non-Muslims, assaulted by gau rakshaks.

One of the eight victims, 22-year-old Minhaj Ansari, died in police custody in Jharkhand, after his arrest over a WhatsApp message on beef. That’s a rate of over two lynchings a month.… One reality we have to face is that the State will not stop such lynchings. The silence of The Leader has once again been deafening.…

Instead, why can’t rights activists — most of them happen to be Hindu – ask that the court set up a mechanism to monitor the action taken after attacks by gau rakshaks? A list of such assaults, the inadequate response of the police, justifications of these assaults by those in power, and the effect of these assaults on the lives of the survivors can be presented to the court in support of such a demand. If there can be a National Investigation Agency to deal exclusively with terrorist acts, why can’t courts set up Special Investigative Teams to monitor gAU rakshak terror?



[Back to Top]

Is this Hindutva? – By Tavleen Singh (Apr 9, 2017, Indian Express)

It is horrible to watch a man being beaten to death. And, yet I forced myself to watch the video of Pehlu Khan’s lynching more than once. Not from cheap voyeurism but because I found it hard to understand why this was happening at all. The young men who kicked him and beat him with iron rods did not look like fanatics. They looked like modern young Indians. They wore tight jeans and fancy shirts that indicated an interest in fashion. They seemed educated and middle-class and, for me, this made their savagery more horrible. More disturbing.

They took obvious pleasure in what they were doing and made it clear that their intention was not to harm Khan and his sons but to kill them. They videotaped the lynching and posted it on social media so the Prime Minister would have seen it and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. Why did they say nothing to indicate that they were sickened by what they saw?…

The vigilantes that roam our highways are outlaws, and from official reactions to what happened in Alwar, there are signs that these lawless gangs have the patronage of powerful political leaders. Do these leaders understand that once ordinary people believe they can take the law into their hands, then the authority of the State no longer exists? As someone who believes that a Hindu renaissance is necessary and possible, it saddens me that this very grand idea has been reduced to horrible violence in the name of the cow. No renaissance can ever come from this.



[Back to Top]

Why Muslims in Gujarat are living in fear once again – By Rajeev Khanna (Apr 8, 2017, Catch News)

With Assembly polls approaching and the communal temperatures on the rise, there is a palpable fear among the Gujarat’s Muslims. The BJP and other Sangh Parivar affiliates like the Bajrang Dal and VHP have gone on overdrive to achieve their target of at least 150 of the total 182 seats in the state Assembly. Muslims are worried over the recent developments and the pattern that is emerging.

Emboldened by the landslide victory in the recent Uttar Pradesh polls, elements within the Sangh Parivar have upped the ante across Gujarat. “One is once again hearing the slogans on Ram Mandir. Overnight graffiti appeared on the walls in prominent localities asking Hindus to be wary of ‘Love Jihad’. It is all aimed at keeping the communal temperatures simmering that would help in polarisation,” said a senior mediaperson based in Ahmedabad. Such graffiti was recently seen in prominent localities of Ahmedabad.

Social activists among the Muslims point at the series of instances that have taken place in the last few days across the state. After the violence against the Muslims in Vadavali village in Patan district came the violent clash in Savarkundla town in Amreli district of Saurashtra. Sources say that while the riot was triggered by a trivial altercation between students from Hindu and Muslim communities, the one at Savarkundla started with some Hindu youths targeting a Muslim youth who was sitting with a Hindu girl.…



[Back to Top]

Tensions High in Odisha’s Bhadrak After Communal Violence – By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Apr 9, 2017, The Wire)

Several incidents of pillaging and arson allegedly committed by Hindutva groups have come to the fore in the coastal Odisha town of Bhadrak. According to reports from the region, violence escalated in the aftermath of communal tension between Hindus and Muslims triggered by a Ram Navami procession on April 5.

While there has been no direct clash between Muslims and Hindus, large-scale destruction of property over the last two days, the imposition of Section 144 (that prohibits any assembly of more than four people) has ushered in a sense of foreboding among the residents. Markets have been shut since then and offices remain closed.

According to Alok Barik, a reporter with the Odia daily Dharitri, the communal tension surfaced a day after the procession when Hindutva groups – primarily the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal – sought police action against those who had allegedly circulated blasphemous social media messages against Hindu deities Ram, Sita and Hanuman.… In all these years, no significant communal incident has been reported. However, as elections draw closer, incidents in Bhadrak can soon become a motif for religious polarisation in the state.



[Back to Top]

Intolerance Threatens India’s Universities – By Aftab Alam (Apr 10, 2017, US News)

Higher education in India is going through a critical phase.… This is particularly worrying as some of India’s leading institutions are now facing drastic cuts in employment and resources. The prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), for instance, has just announced an 83 percent cut in its research funds and a reduction in the number of students accepted for doctoral and masters degrees for the academic year 2017-2018. And on March 25, the Tata Institute for Social Science, another center of research excellence, issued termination letters to 25 members of its faculty.…

In fact, the very idea of what universities are meant to be is under severe attack in India. For the past couple of years, universities in the country have been the theater of various upheavals. In 2016, protests erupted in JNU after an event organized by students turned into a political controversy over the Kashmir conflict and led to a countrywide debate on nationalism.

In February 2017, Hyderabad University students, who had taken part in a national solidarity movement in 2016 when Rohith Vemula, a young Ph.D. candidate and a liberal student activist committed suicide over caste discrimination, were barred from taking exams. The same month, Ramjas College, which is part of Delhi University, witnessed violent protests by the nationalist student organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) against a seminar. The group is an offshoot of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its parent organization the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).… The incidents at Ramjas College and JNU are not one-off episodes. Rather, such clashes have become the new norm in Indian universities.…



[Back to Top]