IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 14th, 2013
In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- US: Anti-Modi Congressional resolution now has 51 co-sponsors
- Modi’s India TV interview ‘Fixed’? Editorial Director QW Naqvi resigns in protest
- In his nomination, Narendra Modi finally admits Jashodaben is his wife
- Gujarat police has no evidence against Maulana Abdul Qavi: Paracha
- ‘Wajid victim of political plot’, dead youth’s father says
- Bail plea of Muzaffarnagar riot accused rejected
- TDP Muslim leaders, cadres quit party over BJP alliance
- Minority community names missing in electoral list in Kavalbyrasandra
- Cop arrested for raping woman in Ghaziabad
- Hindu converted to Islam doesn’t lose backward class status: Madras HC
Opinions & Editorials
- The woman calling for Narendra Modi to take responsibility for mass murder – By Dean Nelson
- Regarding fascism – By Pratap Bhanu Mehta
- Inexplicable reticence – Editorial
- The murky past of Narendra Modi’s right-hand man – By Andrew Buncombe
- The Rich And The Infamous – By Imran Khan
- India’s pro-rapist lobby – Editorial
A controversial Congressional resolution, which among other things asks the American administration to maintain its policy of not issuing visa to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, now has more than 50 co-sponsors. Rush Holt from New Jersey and Barbara Lee from California are the two lawmakers to have signed onto the resolution (H Res 417), thus taking the number of co-sponsors to 51. The bipartisan resolution was introduced by Congressmen Keith Ellison from the Democratic Party and Joe Pitts from the Republican Party last November.
Since then it has not only become an issue of contention among various Indian American groups, but also several lawmakers have questioned the intention of introducing such a resolution. Several Congressmen have withdrawn too as its co-sponsors, but with Holt and Lee this week being the latest entrants, the total number of sponsor to this controversial resolution yesterday stood at 51 from nearly 30 states, of which 26 are Republican and 25 are from the Democratic Party. The resolution also asks to include religious freedom and human rights as part of the Strategic Dialogue between the two countries. It praises India’s “rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality,” while raising concerns over the “erosion” of religious freedom.
The resolution, the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) in its summary, recognises the suffering of Indian citizens who have been victims of religious violence, and also highlights the alleged role of Modi in the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat. It declares that the House of Representatives shares the opinion of the Department of State and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom that the Gujarat government has not adequately pursued justice for the victims of religious violence in 2002 and expresses concern regarding reports about the alleged complicity of local officials.
It commends the US government for exercising its authority in 2005 under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to deny a US visa to Narendra Modi on the grounds of religious freedom violations, and encourages it to review the applications of any individuals implicated in such violations under the same standard, the CRS said. The resolution commends the role of India’s National Human Rights Commission and the Indian Supreme Court, which has led to some convictions in Gujarat riot cases and the arrest of high-level leaders in the Gujarati administration.
- Indian American coalition condemns HAF’s sophistry “explaining” Hindu nationalist violence (Apr 8, 2014, Twocircles.net)
- Suspended IAS officer alleges Narendra Modi of illicit relationship with woman architect (Apr 12, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)
- Gujarat govt acting with malice, says suspended IAS officer Sharma (Apr 14, 2014, Deccan Herald)
- Modi lowered level of political discourse: Anand Sharma (Apr 14, 2014, Times of India)
Modi’s India TV interview ‘Fixed’? Editorial Director QW Naqvi resigns in protest (Apr 14, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)
Senior journalist and editorial director at India TV, Qamar Waheed Naqvi resigned from his position, in a mark of protest, against the Modi’s interview telecasted a few days back on the channel. Going by the sources, Naqvi sent his resignation in form of email to the management on Sunday night.
Talking to Daily Bhaskar Naqvi said ” I have put in papers, rest will be disclosed later.” He resigned so as to protest against the interview that he termed as ‘fixed.’ Rajat Sharma, editor-in-chief of India TV, conducted the interview in his popular program “AAP Ki Adalat.”
Naqvi was working as a news director in the channel for a long time. Reportedly, Naqvi can’t be accessed on social networking sites as well, meaning thereby, he has deleted his accounts on the same.
- Modi ‘wave’ at India TV Studio, Editorial Director resigns in protest (Apr 14, 2014, Twocircles.net)
- Kejriwal alleges BJP threatened to muzzle media’s voice when it comes to power (Apr 14, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)
- Gujarat cops guarding Modi accused of abrasive behaviour (Apr 13, 2014, Hindustan Times)
- Article calling Modi ‘petty and vindictive’ by journalist Aakar Patel removed by news website! (Apr 14, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)
Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi in an affidavit filed before the Election Commission showed himself as a married man revealing that his wife’s name is Jashodaben. In an affidavit submitted along with his nomination papers filed on Wednesday for Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, Modi for the first time stated that he is married.
So far, Modi used to leave the column of spouse which is to be filled in an affidavit as blank. He had kept the column as blank in 2012 Assembly elections as well. However, for the 2014 Lok Sabha election affidavit, in the column where he has to declare assets in the name of his wife, Modi has written that he has no information on it.
Though he had filed the nomination papers, the Vadodara district election authority put the affidavit on the display board of the Collectorate at midnight. The affidavit has not been uploaded on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat till late in the night. Earlier, the Congress had said that Modi should come clean on his marital status while filing nomination papers for the Lok Sabha elections.
The Vadodara Lok Sabha seat which has been chosen by Modi from 26 constituencies of Gujarat is considered to be one of the safest seat. Modi is also contesting election from Varanasi where he is challenging Aam Aadmi Party candidate Arvind Kejriwal and Congress’ local MLA Ajay Rai.
- Complaint against Modi will be examined as per law: CEC (Apr 13, 2014, The Hindu)
- Narendra Modi hid marital status to climb RSS ladder: Shobha Oza (Apr 10, 2014, DNA India)
- Can Modi be disqualified for hiding marital status in earlier poll affidavits? (Apr 13, 2014, India Tomorrow)
- EC to examine complaint against Modi’s marital status (Apr 12, 2014, The Hindu)
Renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Mohammed Abdul Qavi who was arrested on 23rd March from New Delhi airport in a joint operation by Gujarat ATS and Delhi police special cell in a decade old case of conspiracy to assassinate Narendra Modi and other Sangh leaders. He was yesterday produced before POTA court in Ahmedabad after the completion of 14 days of police custody. The special POTA court remanded him to 7 days of judicial custody and ordered Crime Branch Jamalpur to lodge him in Sabarmati prison of Ahmedabad where many high profile accused persons are lodged.
During the court proceedings many Muslim leaders were present along with representing lawyers and family of Maulana Abdul Qavi. Among the lawyers prominent Supreme Court Adv. Mahmood Paracha was also present who was called in to defend Maulana Abdul Qavi by the Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra. Adv. Paracha along with Adv. Pathan argued before the court in defense of Maulana Abdul Qavi and questioned the sudden arrest of Maulana in a decade old case that too in the absence of any valid court warrant. They also questioned the basis of his arrest for the case in which almost everyone who was accused and arrested including cleric Maulana Naseeruddin has already been acquitted by the court.
The special court asked police to show 14 day police diary but they could not show it due to which the special court came down heavily on them and strictly ordered to produce the diary before 9th April morning. After the court proceedings Adv. Paracha told media that he elaborated special court how illegally he was arrested without a warrant and that on the first hearing itself the truth of the case was evident where the police did not even bring the 14 day police diary before court. He informed that his panel shall file bail application of Maulana soon and that he is very much sure to secure bail for him.
Adv. Tahur Pathan told TCN, “There are many faults in the police case and his arresting itself is illegal therefore I have strong belief that he (Maulana) will be released soon on bail”. Maulana Hafiz Nadeem Siddique, President of Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra appealed well-wishers and Jamiat members to supplicate Allah almighty for the early release of Maulana Abdul Qavi. Maulana Hakeemuddin Qazi, Secretary of Jamiat Ulema and Hafiz Khaliq representative of Jamiat Ulema Andhra Pradesh were also present in the special POTA court. They also had a talk with family of Maulana and assured them of full support from the Jamiat.
53 year old Maulana Abdul Qavi is the founder and rector of Madrasa Ashraful Uloom who have a big name in the religious circles of Hyderabad. As a renowned theologian he wrote many books on Islamic fiqh. Apart from Jamait Ulema he is also considered close to many bigwigs of Tabligee Jamat. His arrest by Gujarat ATS has shocked everyone who knew him even distantly because he is a prominent person who keeps attending gatherings throughout the country and was never absconding.
- High court acquits 6 persons accused in terror conspiracy case (Apr 9, 2014, Times of India)
- Three Muslim youth acquitted in 14 years old Lucknow case (Apr 11, 2014, Twocircles.net)
- Court order puts NIA, Delhi Police in a spot (Apr 14, 2014, The Hindu)
- Terrorism not related to religion, but politics: Ram Puniyani (Apr 9, 2014, Twocircles.net)
Despite the district administration claiming that the clashes between two communities in Nakanpur in Punahana last Thursday and the death of a 28-year-old Meo-Muslim man a day later are not related, his family members have said that their son was a victim of a political conspiracy to flare up communal tension. “We don’t blame any political party but Wajid was killed in a follow-up act of the clash on the polling day. Why would anyone kill him. He had no personal rivalry with anyone in the village or outside,” said Majid, the victim’s father, a cook at a police station here.
Mewat SP Anil Kumar Dhawan however maintained that both the incidents were not related and Wajid was a victim of some personal rivalry. When asked why few of the accused in both the incidents were same, he said, “It could be a coincidence.” Calling their son’s death an attempt to disturb the religious harmony in the area, nurtured here for generations, Majid said, “My eldest son was killed in cold blood for no fault of his. He was not even present at the polling booth where clashes between the two groups took place.”
Somebody who has been with Haryana police for close to 25 years, Majid always wanted his son to join the police force. “Now I want Wajid’s son to fulfill my wish and ensure justice to the poor,” he said. Survived by his wife and three children, Wajid had his son admitted to a nearby private school days before his death.
- 10-yr-old victim of election related violence dies (Apr 14, 2014, Indian Express)
- Curfew clamped in Punhana after youth’s death (Apr 12, 2014, Hindustan Times)
- Tense Punahana under curfew (Apr 14, 2014, Times of India)
- 11 injured in election related violence in Shamli (Apr 12, 2014, Indian Express)
A local court here has rejected the bail plea of an accused in a Muzaffaranagar riots case related to the killing of eight persons, including a woman, in Kutba village.
Additional district sessions judge Mr Jitendra Kumar yesterday rejected the bail plea of Kunwar Pal, one of the 50 accused in the Kutba village violence case.
According to the prosecution, eight persons including a woman, were killed and 20 people were injured during riots in Kutba village in the district last year. The police had registered a case against 110 rioters and arrested two persons, added sources.
- DIG orders to expedite arrest of absconding accused in riots (Apr 13, 2014, PTI)
- ‘Lets transform Muzaffarnagar into Mohabbatnagar’ (Apr 14, 2014, Times of India)
- Muzaffarnagar: custody for gangrape accused extended (Apr 8, 2014, Statesman)
- Two yrs after town’s first-ever riots, Kosi Kalan shadow hangs large over Mathura (Apr 14, 2014, Indian Express)
Trouble is brewing within the Telugu Desam as many Muslim leaders and workers resigned en masse on Tuesday protesting the party’s rekindled friendship with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Describing the alliance between the parties as “opportunistic”, the leaders, including presidents and workers of minority and Scheduled Caste cells of the party, expressed anger with the TDP leadership. They recalled that in April 2002, soon after the riots in Gujarat, Narendra Modi had come in for sharp criticism from party president N Chandrababu Naidu.
“The TDP politburo had then passed a resolution which stated that the incident could not be seen as an internal issue of the state as its impact had tarnished India’s secular image. The resolution also held that the party had put the strong condition of secularism before the NDA government which was later violated,” said Shahbaz Ahmed Khan, who resigned from the post of president of TDP’s minority cell. Stating that the TDP had betrayed the trust of Muslims and secular people, he claimed that 17 vice-presidents of various party committees, six official spokespersons, 30 organising secretaries and 32 secretaries had all resigned in protest.
“We will be meeting again tomorrow to decide our next course of action. We have not ruled out joining other political parties or using our cadre to support candidates from other parties,” Khan said. The party’s decision has also put many leaders, including party MLAs from the Old City, on the back foot with many refusing to contest a second time on the TDP ticket. Sources said that while Mohammed Muzaffar Ali Khan, who fought on a TDP ticket in 2009 from Malakpet and lost by a margin of 8.26 per cent to Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) sitting MLA Ahmed Balala, is likely to contest independently.
Charminar candidate Ali Masqati, who is rumoured to be deliberating joining other political parties, has decided against entering the fray. “I will not contest this time. I was in the TDP and I am still with the party,” Masqati said. Meanwhile, unhappy with being denied a ticket, Congress member Feroz Khan, who had contested against MIM Nampally MLA Virasat Rasool Khan on a Praja Rajyam Party ticket before its merger with Congress, has reportedly joined the TDP. An official announcement is expected shortly.
- Kerala Muslim bodies criticises BJP manifesto (Apr 9, 2014, The Hindu)
- Muslim group seeks Vishwas’s expulsion for RSS comments (Apr 9, 2014, Times of India)
- BJP fooling liberals? Waqf, Urdu promotion missing in Hindi version (Apr 10, 2014, Twocircles.net)
- Raj Thackeray incites farmers to murder (Apr 9, 2014, Times of India)
Despite registering their names for the electoral list well on time, a section of the minority community (Muslims) in Kavalbyrasandra do not have their name in the electoral list. All these came to light when many people from the Muslim community started approaching Aga Foundation, an NGO which has been working in the area for the upliftment of women and children. On a daily basis the NGO has been receiving about 5-6 people coming in with similar complaints everyday.
On Sunday when volunteers of the Foundation went to a single lane in Kavalbyrasandra area (Ward No 32), of the 23 houses they surveyed, 60 names who are in the voting age group were missing. According to the Foundation member there are over 2,000 voting age group people from Muslim community in Kavalbyrasandra. For the past one week, there were almost about six people from Kavalbyrasandra area walking to us everyday saying that their names are not there in the voting list.
Taking their names and contact numbers I went to the area BBMP Office and met the Area Regional Officer (ARO) and told him about the problem. I also asked the religious head of the mosque to announce in the mosque that if their names are not there in the electoral list they should inform the ARO in the BBMP office and get it checked said, Mufeeda Begum, President, Aga Foundation. An enthusiastic 20 year old Masoom, resident of Kavalbyrasandra had applied for the voters ID card a year ago but still she could not get hold of it and her name was also not there in the electoral list. More surprisingly, for the religious head of the mosque in the area, Ikram Ullah Haq, though his name is there in the electoral list but he is still to get his voters ID card.
He has applied about three years ago and he has been running around since then but still he has not got it. Few days ago when he went to the area BBMP office and checked for his name in the electoral list there was a tick mark against his name saying that he has collected his voters ID card but Haq has not received any voters Id card. However his signature wasn’t there. Mufeeda said: “I have spoken to the ARO, BBMP office and he said that today he will check properly for the final list of people. We will see, if nothing is being done then we will need to approach the election commissioner.”
- Congress list in Telangana: 3% Reddys got 34 tickets, 13% Muslims just 4 (Apr 9, 2014, Twocircles.net)
- Only one Muslim MP elected from Rajasthan since 1952 (Apr 14, 2014, The Hindu)
- An address that spells ‘pariah’ for minorities (Apr 10, 2014, The Telegraph)
- Karbala protesters detained (Apr 9, 2014, The Hindu)
A 53-year-old sub-inspector of Delhi Police was arrested on Saturday night for raping a woman for over four years on the pretext of implicating her in a wrong case. Based on the woman’s complaint, UP Police arrested Preetam Singh posted at Lajpat Nagar police station in Delhi.
Police said the 45-year-old woman victim alleged in her complaint that in 2008 she was an accused in a case in Sangam Vihar. “The accused cop was the investigating officer and used to threaten her to implicate her if she didn’t have a physical relationship with him. She alleged that Singh raped her for several years,” said a senior police officer.
The accused, who is married, is a resident of Chanderlok. Police said the accused used to take her to a flat in Babudham of Kavinagar area of Ghaziabad and rape her. Police said the victim has been sent for medical examination and her statement recorded. “We have lodged an FIR and further investigation is on,” the official added.
- In UP, gangrape to avenge rape (Apr 15, 2014, Asian Age)
- Bail for men accused of raping dalit woman (Apr 14, 2014, Times of India)
- 16-year-old girl gang-raped, killed in Varanasi (Apr 5, 2014, Hindustan Times)
- Alleged Dowry Harassment Pushes 2 Women to Suicide (Apr 9, 2014, Indian Express)
Hindu converted to Islam doesn’t lose backward class status: Madras HC (Apr 10, 2014, Times of India)
The Madras high court has ordered the Tamil Nadu government to instruct its officials to issue backward class (BC) community certificates to people who embrace Islam, categorically saying that a BC member would get all the benefits meant for BCs even after conversion to Islam. “I have no hesitation to come to the conclusion that a person belonging to Hindu backward class community, on conversion to Islam, would get the benefit of backward class status if the person is covered under List III of the government order no. 85,” said Justice D Hariparanthaman on Wednesday. The list contains seven sects of ‘backward class’ Muslims. They are: Ansar, Dekkani Muslims, Dudekula, Labbais (including Rawthar and Marakayar speaking Tamil or Urdu), Mapilla, Sheik and Syed, the judge pointed out.
In his 88-page order tracing the origin of caste-resistance movements by various communities and the prevalence of two-tumbler system in several parts of the state, Justice Hariparanthaman trashed two government communications sent in February 2010 and August 2012 asking collectors not to issue BC certificates to converted Muslims. Describing it as persecution of Muslim brothers and akin to ‘untouchability’ practised on dalits, the judge said, “Denial of BC community certificate to converted Muslims amounts to deprivation of fundamental rights.”
The judge was passing orders on a petition filed by M U Aariffaa, who was a Nadar (a BC community) before her conversion to Islam in 2006. Though she cleared the TNPSC examination for village administrative officer (VAO) in 2012, she was not selected as she was treated as ‘others’. Later in the same year, she was not appointed station officer in fire service department citing the same reason. On both occasions she moved the high court and obtained an order directing the respective departments to keep one post vacant.
Justice Hariparanthaman said: “Counsel for the TNPSC does not dispute the genuineness of the conversion of Aariffaa to Labbai Muslim. According to her, ‘converted’ Labbai Muslim is not on List III which covered only ‘born Labbai Muslim’. This is, in fact, doing violence to the List. The only thing that has to be seen is whether the candidate has genuinely converted to any one of the sects in List III. If it is so, there ends the matter.” While accepting amicus curiae M Ajmalkhan’s stance that there is no such a thing as ‘converted’ Muslim, Justice Hariparanthaman disagreed with his claim that unlike in the case of Christianity, a convert’s original caste status is erased on embracing Islam.
The judge also flayed the Tamil Nadu Backward Class Commission for its stand that no convert to Islam is entitled to get BC community certificate and that all such existing certificates are bogus. “The view expressed by the commission has no basis and it has to be rejected, as it would result in the denial of community certificates to all converts to Islam,” Justice Hariparanthaman said. Directing the government to appoint Aariffaa to either of the posts she had qualified immediately, the judge said she should be placed at the appropriate place in the seniority list meant for BC Muslims.
- Converted Muslims must get BC certificates: HC (Apr 10, 2014, The Hindu)
- Uttarakhand village tense after dalits refused temple entry (Apr 9, 2014, Times of India)
- 4 years on, Mirchpur village’s Dalits still scared to return (Apr 10, 2014, Indian Express)
- Dalit Youth Found Dead with Stab Injuries on Riverbed (Apr 14, 2014, New Indian Express)
Opinions and Editorials
The woman calling for Narendra Modi to take responsibility for mass murder – By Dean Nelson (Apr 13, 2014, The Telegraph)
Minutes before he was hacked to death by a Hindu mob, veteran Muslim politician Ehsan Jafri reached for his phone and dialled one last number. For the dozens of neighbours also cowering in his home, it seemed like their only chance. At the other end of line, Mr Jafri told them, was Narendra Modi, the powerful Hindu politician who is widely expected to become India’s new prime minister next month.
Back in 2002, though, he was the chief minister of Mr Jafri’s home state of Gujarat, and arguably the only man who could save them from the crowds outside. By the time Mr Jafri finished the phone conversation, however, he knew they were doomed. Far from offering help, Mr Modi had taunted him and even expressed surprise that he was still alive, Mr Jafri told those around him in his final moments. “No help will come,” Mr Jafri added.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Jafri’s wife, Zakia, watched in horror from a balcony as rioters marched her husband naked from their home and chopped off his fingers, hands, arms and head. 12 years after the riots which left more than 700 Muslims dead, Mr Modi is cruising to become the leader of the world’s largest democracy, which will declare results from its mammoth nine-phase general election on May 18. Mrs Jafri, however, wants him prosecuted for abetting mass murder, over what was one of India’s worst-ever outbreaks of communal violence.
Now 75 and crippled with diabetes, she seems a feeble opponent to Mr Modi, 63, who is already being courted by other world leaders. He might, however, be unwise to underestimate her. On Friday she won another round in her fight to reopen a judicial inquiry that exonerated him of any responsibility for the riots. Last week, she and her former neighbours held a campaign meeting in the charred ruins of their abandoned homes in the Gulbarg Housing Society in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad. It was here, on February 28, 2002, that the mob attacked, following rumours that Muslims had been responsible for the deaths of 58 Hindu pilgrims in a train fire at Godra the previous day.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mrs Jafri told how she saw the mob trying to force her husband to sing Hindu prayers. When he resisted “they beat him with swords,” she said. “They chopped his hands and arms bit by bit.” Her claim that Mr Modi should be held to account for the massacres is based on conversations with Indian police officers, who told her they had been ordered to stay at home during the rioting. Admittedly, some fellow Muslims question the point of pursuing the case now. They point out that Mr Modi had only been in his post as minister of Gujarat for a few days when the riots broke out, and had yet to master the levers of government. …
- Narendra Modi: Britain can’t simply shrug off this Hindu extremist – By Priyamvada Gopal (Apr 14, 2014, The Guardian)
- After the Law: Notes on Gujarat 2002 – By Moyukh Chatterjee (Apr 19, 2014, EPW)
- The Gujarat muddle – By Jean Drèze (Apr 11, 2014, The Hindu)
The rise of Narendra Modi has brought the “F” word into promiscuous use. The spectre of fascism is said to be haunting India. It is easy to dismiss this concern over fascism as the hyperbole of a crumbling elite that has often used moral outrage as a substitute for addressing genuine political challenges. It might be tempting to engage in an argument over the historical specificity of fascism. Can the the combination of military power, total mobilisation and eliminationism that marked fascism really be reproduced in India?
But take the core concern beneath the hyperbole seriously. The communal atmosphere in some parts of the country is fragile. Dozens of riots in UP testify to this. As Suhas Palshikar had argued, the BJP has regionally varied strategies. In UP, in particular, it involves fishing in troubled communal waters. Whatever Narendra Modi’s intentions or change of heart might be is besides the point. India still has a communal challenge and ultimately the quality of its democracy will be judged by how it deals with it. You don’t have to subscribe to analytically otiose invocations of fascism to wonder what this election means for India’s prospects as a country where no one is targeted for being who they are. All sides speak about minorities, but few speak to them.
Whatever Amit Shah’s organisational genius might be, his track record should make you nervous about the kind of intimidation he could create. If we end up voting for them, the morning after we will need to think of the kinds of structures that can mitigate the damage they might do. BJP supporters, who might bristle at being called fascist, would do well to act reassuringly on these concerns. The best way to respond to accusations of fascism is not to dismiss them. It is to make them look silly by your own exemplariness.
But those scare-mongering on fascism also need self-reflection. Many of those dropping the “F” word also betray a will to simplification that tells you more about those making the accusations than it does about politics. The Indian Left is incapable of any dialectical thinking; there is not a trace of reflection on the forces that have brought us to this pass. There should be no complacency over the communal question.
But what is it about the structures of our thinking about communalism that 60 years after Independence, we seem to be revisiting the same questions over and over again? Is there some deeper phenomenon that the BJP-Congress system seems two sides of the same coin to so many, even on this issue? The point is not about the political equivalence of two political parties. People will make up their own minds. But is there something about the way we have conceptualised the problem of majority and minority, trapped in compulsory identities, that makes communalism the inevitable result?…
- Neo-liberalism and Democracy – By Prabhat Patnaik (Apr 12, 2014, EPW)
- Demolition of pluralism – By Kuldip Nayar (Apr 11, 2014, Deccan Herald)
- Communal Polarisation Scales New Heights – Editorial (Apr 12, 2014, Mainstream)
- What lies beneath, what lies ahead – By Ananya Vajpeyi (Apr 9, 2014, The Hindu)
As a candidate in the 2002, 2007 and then the 2012 elections for the Gujarat Assembly, Narendra Modi chose not to make his marital status clear in his nomination papers. Now, having set his sights on becoming the next occupant of 7 Race Course Road, the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee has for the first time acknowledged in his election papers the existence of a wife, Jashodaben Modi, who he appears to have distanced himself from almost half a century ago to become an RSS pracharak. Jashodaben, apparently at Mr. Modi’s urging, continued with her education after they parted. She became a village schoolteacher, but the reality of the social milieu she lived in was such that she had to rely on her brothers to give her a home.
By itself, this belated revelation should have been of little consequence, especially as this had already been reported on in the press. In India, unlike in the West, details of a politician’s personal life normally have little impact on the electorate unless they have criminal implications. But what caused consternation in this case was why Mr. Modi should have suppressed for so long the fact that he was married. Further, in a country where women have a robust public presence, keeping his wife hidden away from the public eye, suggested a regressive view on Mr. Modi’s part of a woman’s place in this country.
Indeed, this delayed disclosure of the crucial personal detail dents Mr. Modi’s credibility as a prime ministerial candidate. With the socially conservative RSS driving the BJP’s campaign, there is the apprehension of a resurgence of a patriarchal mindset reflecting restrictive approaches to the issue of further empowerment of women. The Gujarat model that Mr. Modi is assiduously marketing in his bid to become Prime Minister does not inspire much confidence in his ability to promote gender equality. The 2011 census says there are 918 women for every 1,000 men in the State, below the national average of 940, indicating an unacceptable trend of male-preference, lower rates of school enrolment for girls, and higher levels of malnutrition among children than in the rest of India.
The State’s conviction rate for rape and abduction of women is also among the lowest in the country. Mr. Modi’s political opponents have naturally seized upon this disquieting impression of a regressive impulse, seeking to make political capital out of it. The onus is on him, given his prime ministerial aspirations, to be more transparent about what prompted this somewhat misogynist reticence in disclosing his marital status. This will put to rest fears that we are about to enter an era of renewed social conservatism, should Mr. Modi become Prime Minister.
- Married Bachelorhood – By B G Verghese (Apr 13, 2014, Deccan Herald)
The murky past of Narendra Modi’s right-hand man – By Andrew Buncombe (Apr 13, 2014, The Independent)
Last spring, a year ahead of the election now gripping India, Amit Shah was dispatched by Mr Modi to Uttar Pradesh with instructions to build support for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the nation’s largest and politically most-important state. He set about identifying candidates and meeting local leaders in an effort to deliver Mr Modi the “wave” he will need to become India’s next prime minister. But while Mr Shah has cemented support for Mr Modi, he has also run into problems. Over the weekend, one week into the five-week voting process to elect a new government, the Election Commission (EC) banned Mr Shah from addressing public meetings in the state, and ordered that charges be filed against him after he was accused of stoking communal tensions.
In speeches in western Uttar Pradesh, which last year saw deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims, Mr Shah told a gathering of Hindus they should vote for the BJP as a means of “revenge for the insult” inflicted last year. The EC also banned a senior figure from the local Socialist Party, Azam Khan, for making similar speeches to Muslims. “The commission has been observing with serious concern that Azam Khan and Amit Shah have been making highly inflammatory speeches,” said the EC. “These statements are promoting feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will, and creating disharmony between…religious communities.” It is not the first time Mr Shah, 50, has been under scrutiny. The man said to be a highly skilled political operative, also has a long and controversial history.
In 2010, he was charged with murder and kidnapping over the alleged extrajudicial killing of three people in Gujarat five years earlier and banned from the state while the inquiry went ahead. Out on bail for more than 18 months, he has denied the charges and claimed they were politically motivated. Mr Modi and Mr Shah first met in the 1980s when they were young members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a conservative Hindu nationalist group linked to the BJP. In the early 1990s, Mr Shah, who comes from a wealthy Gujarat family and who has a degree in biochemistry, took charge of the election campaign of a senior party leader, LK Advani.
He secured Mr Advani’s landslide victory and subsequently rose through the ranks. One crucial task he was given was to oversee the party’s representation over constituency realignment. According to Vidyutkumar Anantray Joshi, an academic who has studied the process, the move created more urban constituencies, something that helped the BJP. Mr Shah, who has been elected four times to the Gujarat provincial assembly, became a minister in Mr Modi’s state government in late 2001, shortly before the massacre of hundreds of Muslims by Hindu mobs. Mr Modi has always denied claims that he took insufficient steps to stop the killings. The murder charges against Mr Shah relate to the killing of an alleged gangster, Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife and a witness, at a time when the aide was a junior home minister.
At the time of the killings in 2005, it was claimed Mr Sheikh was a jihadi terrorist dispatched by Pakistan’s intelligence service to assassinate Mr Modi and that he had been killed in a shootout with police. But two years later, the state government’s lawyer, KTS Tulsi, stated to India’s Supreme Court that the killings took place while the three were in police custody. Mr Tulsi resigned his position after Mr Modi was perceived to have bragged about the killings during the 2007 state-election campaign. According to the Reuters news agency, the charge sheet filed by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation stated that in his position as home minister Mr Shah headed an extortion racket with Gujarat police officers and Mr Sheikh. They fell out and police snatched Mr Sheikh from a bus with his wife, then staged a gun-battle. Mr Sheikh was killed and his wife’s cremated body was found in the village of one of the policemen. A witness was killed later. …
- HIS MASTER’S VOICE – Amit Shah’s speeches in UP belie the promise of a new BJP – By Mukul Kesavan (Apr 10, 2014, The Telegraph)
- Right course – Editorial (Apr 13, 2014, Deccan Herald)
Politics and crime go hand in hand. In India, the trend is on the rise: individuals with criminal background continue to enter politics as the assets of serving politicians soar exponentially by the end of their terms. Even after the recent brouhaha over corruption and criminalisation of politics, a recent analysis of backgrounds and financial details of candidates by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), in partnership with the Karnataka Election Watch (KEW), shows as many as 55 candidates contesting in the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies of Karnataka with criminal cases lodged against them. Not surprisingly, the report says, the average asset of contesting MPs grew by 200 percent between 2009-14.
ADR’s analysis establishes that politics is a lucrative business for aspirants. Across the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka, 434 candidates are trying their luck in the General Election. According to the analysis, of the 55 candidates who have criminal records, six are from the Congress, nine from the BJP, eight from former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) and 14 are independents. Of the 55 candidates, 35 face serious criminal cases related to attempt to murder and crimes against women. Pramod Muthalik, who recently joined the BJP only to be denied the party membership the next day, and B Sriramulu, former health minister who quit the BJP to form the BSR Congress before returning to the party’s fold, top the list of candidates who have declared cases related to attempt to murder.
Topping the list is the BS Yeddyurappa of the BJP, who not only toiled and built the party for 40 years but also helped it come to power in 2008, becoming its first chief minister in south India. His term is most remembered for corruption scandals. He had to step down after being indicted in the multi-crore mining scam. According to the affidavits filed with the Election Commission, there are nine cases pending against Yeddyurappa, who is contesting from Shimoga district. Most cases against him are related to land scams that happened during his tenure as chief minister, including denotification of land in favour of his kith and kin. Subsequently, he has been charged for criminal breach of trust by a public servant (IPC Section 406), forgery for purpose of cheating (IPC Section 468) and IPC Section 420 (dishonestly inducing delivery of property). There are also eight charges related to criminal conspiracy (IPC Section 120B), six under IPC Section 471 (using forged documents) and five related to forgery under IPC Section 463. While the charges have been framed in most cases, he is yet to be convicted.
Second on the list is Muthalik, chief of the extreme right-wing outfit Sri Ram Sene. His outfit gained notoriety in 2009 when his activists in Mangalore attacked women in pubs. Muthalik, who is contesting as an independent candidate from Bangalore South against Nandan Nilekani of the Congress and Ananth Kumar of the BJP, has eight pending cases against him. He has been booked under 34 Sections of the IPC. Most cases are related to his political activism that helped him gain notoriety over the years: from causing enmity between different religious groups to moral policing to causing disturbance to communal harmony to criminal intimidation and even attempt to murder. Even though some of the cases go as far back as 2004, he hasn’t been convicted in any of them.
Former BJP minister and mining baron Sriramulu faces eight cases. Most of them are from 2008-13, when he was jailed in the Karnataka iron ore mining scandal. They include cases of rioting armed with a deadly weapon (IPC Section 148), criminal conspiracy (IPC Section 120B), criminal trespass, hurt by dangerous weapons, criminal intimidation and attempt to murder. While the BJP is clearly ahead on the list, the Congress and the JD(S) are not far behind. The tainted Congress candidates include former CM N Dharam Singh and youth leader Rizwan Arshad. Dharam Singh, who was chief minister in 2004, has one case registered against him with charges of forgery, cheating and destruction of evidence. On the other hand, Arshad, who was handpicked by Rahul Gandhi for the Bangalore Central constituency, has two cases registered against him related to criminal intimidation and rioting. …
- Our Criminal Netas – ADR (Apr 8, 2014, Outlook)
“Boys will make mistakes,” Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said of rape, on Thursday. His remarks making light of such a heinous crime illustrate just why the feminist battle in India has barely begun. Mr. Yadav believes new rape laws, introduced after the 2012 rape-and-murder of a Delhi woman, are being misused by women to punish their boyfriends. “When their friendship ends,” Mr. Yadav asserted, “the girl complains she has been raped.” Mr. Yadav’s lieutenant, Abu Asim Azmi, meanwhile invoked shari’a law to call for the death penalty – but, for the victim. “Even the woman is guilty,” he told a Mumbai newspaper. Mr. Azmi believes that if “any woman, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, she should be hanged.”
The sad truth, though, is that these kinds of attitudes aren’t exclusive to the Samajwadi Party. From the Rajasthan legislator who thinks rape happens because schoolgirls wear skirts to the Puducherry Minister who wants them covered up in overcoats; from Shiv Sena leaders who blame migrants to Delhi community leaders who scapegoat Africans; from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat who thinks “western values” provoke rape to the Haryana khap panchayat leader who says it happens because of hormonal excesses he attributed to chowmein – there is no shortage of Indians willing to blame rape on anything and everyone other than the rapist.
Mr. Yadav’s words, we can be reasonably certain, were no mistake. In the midst of a bruising election campaign, he spoke as he did because he knew there is political gain to be had from this stand. The hideous truth is that in India, as in many other countries, there is something that can only be described as a pro-rapist lobby that extends beyond political pulpits into streets and homes. The renewed feminist activism of the last year has left patriarchy scrambling for new bogeys and new ways to protect itself. Ill-informed scaremongering about the “draconian” provisions of the new amendment to sexual assault laws has been a handy tool. For India’s women, rape is part of a continuum of violence that begins in the womb.
Also, contrary to the myth that rural “Bharat” is safer than westernised India, of the 24,923 cases registered in 2012 by police, 3,035 took place in major cities. The data also tell us the typical rapist isn’t a feral juvenile, crazed by raging hormones or bad upbringing. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the perpetrator was known to the victim. Mr. Yadav’s words have rightly caused outrage. They should also lead to some hard introspection into how many of us believe an only slightly more benign version of those very words to be true.
- No more, Mulayam – Editorial (Apr 12, 2014, DNA India)
- Retribution, Deterrence and Women’s Safety – Editorial (Apr 19, 2014, EPW)
- No to Commodification of Women’s Body Parts – By Sudha Sundararaman (Apr 9, 2014, Peoples Democracy)