IAMC Weekly News Roundup - April 21st, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 21st, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Narendra Modi should own up responsibility for 2002 riots: CPI (Apr 16, 2014, Financial Express)

CPI today accused BJP leader Narendra Modi and his government in Gujarat of connivance in the 2002 “genocide” and demanded he own up moral responsibility for the riots. “What had happened in 2002 in Gujarat was a genocide, a massacre. It could never have happened without the connivance of the state authorities and Modi,” party National Secretary D Raja said here.

He said even the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, “had to speak up about ‘raj dharma’ because someone had violated it. Who was it? It was none other than Narendra Modi.” Maintaining that history will “always question the role of Modi and his government” on the 2002 riots, Raja said the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate had “never apologised” for the happenings.

“He should own up moral responsibility for what had happened then under his rule.” The CPI leader said Modi’s talk about democracy “does not mean anything because no one can accept his definition of democracy. We are a secular democracy after all.”



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Gujarat police register FIR against Pravin Togadia for his ‘remarks on Muslims’, EC seeks report (Apr 21, 2014, Times of India)

Congress and several other parties on Monday came down heavily on Pravin Togadia for “spreading venom” through his reported remarks that Muslims should be stopped from buying property in Hindu areas and said that the VHP leader should be “hospitalised” for treatment. Meanwhile, the Gujarat police on Monday registered an FIR against Pravin Togadia for his ‘hate speech’, NDTV reported. The Election Commission has sought the recording of the speech made by Togadia. “They (EC officials) are in the process of acquiring the recording of the statement made by Togadia and after listening to it they will decide the future course of action,” Bhavnagar district collector and returning officer P K Solanki said in Rajkot today.

While NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal said the Indian society has no place for such people, RSS dismissed the report, saying that “no swayamsevak thinks on such divisive lines.” “He always spreads venom, you know that. And he belongs to that category of people in this country who do not believe in the unity and the integrity of India. What can you say about people like this?,” Congress leader and Union minister Kapil Sibal said. “It (statement) spreads venom and it is for the authorities to decide,” he said. Togadia had reportedly joined a group of VHP and Bajrang Dal members in a street protest in Rajkot on Saturday outside a house purchased by a Muslim businessman. Togadia reportedly told the gathering to take forcible possession of the house.

Condemning the statement, Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, “I think Togadia should be given treatment. He should be hospitalised. “In this country, if Hindus stay in a Hindu area and Muslims in a Muslim area, and they are not allowed to buy property in each other’s areas, it will be against the Constitution,” Alvi said. Naresh Gujaral of Shiromani Akali Dal said while he is not aware of what Togadia has exactly said, India has survived because of its democracy. “Democracy can survive only if there is accommodation and acceptance for each other….We can’t be rigid about these things and anybody who speaks this kind of language has no place in our society,” he said.

Denying the reports that Togadia has made such a statement, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said, “I have spoken to Praveen Togadia. He completely denies making such comments. It is fabricated. “No Swayamsevak thinks on such divisive lines. They think of all people as one. One people, one nation,” he said. Slamming the statement, JD(U) leader K C Tyagi said, “Togadia seems to be influenced by Taliban mentality….No action has been taken against him due to a weak government”. Fatehpuri mosque’s Mufti Mukkaram said the VHP leader should be arrested immediately.

The “government should take action against him. The Election Commission should also take action against him. This is conspiracy to spread riots. He should be booked for spreading communal tension,” he said. CPM lashed out at the VHP leader for his “hate speech” and sought his immediate arrest, saying that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who also holds the Home portfolio, should take this action. “As the home minister of Gujarat, Modi should himself act (against Togadia) for his hate speech. If he doesn’t, then it is clear that Togadia said all this with his blessings,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said. …



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FIR against Giriraj for Modi-Pak remark, BJP pulls him up (Apr 21, 2014, Hindustan Times)

An FIR was filed against Bihar BJP leader Giriraj Singh by Jharkand police on Sunday over his inflammatory remark that those opposing Narendra Modi should go to Pakistan for which he was also pulled up by the party leadership. Giriraj, who is a Lok Sabha candidate from Nawada, however, remained unfazed and stood by his controversial comment that has been condemned by rival parties as violation of Model Code of Conduct.

Deoghar SDM Jay Jyoti Samanta, who is also the deputy Returning Officer, said an FIR has been registered against Giriraj under several IPC sections and the Representation of People’s Act, 1951. Deoghar Superintendent of Police Rakesh Bansal said the FIR was filed at the Mohanpur police station on the directions of Samanta. Former BJP President Nitin Gadkari and its Godda Lok Sabha candidate Nishikant Dubey were also present on the stage during the poll rally at Mohanpur yesterday when Giriraj made the controversial comments.

Quoting the CD of Giriraj’s speech, Samanta mentioned that he had said that those who oppose the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate have a place in Pakistan and not in India, which promotes enmity. The Bihar Preservation And Improvement of Animals Act was also invoked in the FIR for Giriraj’s remark that the Centre gave subsidy to those who exported beef and taxed those who reared cows. Congress and JD(U) also complained to Election Commission and demanded criminal action against him.

Distancing itself from Singh’s remark, BJP sought to undo the damage with president Rajnath Singh saying the party believes in the politics of “justice and humanity” and taking everybody along. Party sources said Giriraj has been conveyed the party’s displeasure over his statement and asked to refrain from stoking any further row. The comment had left BJP red-faced besides inviting sharp criticism from rival parties who said his comments were directed at Muslims.

In an apparent disapproval of the former Bihar minister’s comments, Rajnath said, “BJP believes in the politics of justice and humanity and taking everybody along”. Senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi termed the statement “irresponsible” and said the party does not approve of it. “BJP doesn’t approve of irresponsible statement given by Giriraj Singh,” he tweeted. “I stand by my statement that those trying their best to stop Modi from coming to power have no place in India and should go to Pakistan whose interests these Modi-baiters have sought to espouse by opposing him in the polls,” Giriraj told PTI in Patna.



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Baba Ramdev caught on camera discussing money with BJP candidate (Apr 18, 2014, Indian Express)

In what comes as an embarrassment for the BJP and Narendra Modi, yoga guru Baba Ramdev has been caught on camera purportedly discussing some money transaction with the party’s Alwar candidate Mahent Chandnath.

The video was recorded reportedly just before a press conference started. In the video, the BJP candidate is heard telling the yoga guru about trouble that’s faced while bringing money from somewhere. Responding immediately to the statement of the BJP leader, Ramdev stops him from speaking further and goes on to call him a fool.

Ramdev has already declared his stand to support Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and has announced that he would campaign for the BJP’s PM candidate in Vadodara. The Congress party has filed a complaint in this regard with the Election Commission.



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NIA to court: Delhi Police frustrating probe in terror cases (Apr 16, 2014, Indian Express)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Tuesday argued in a court here that the Delhi Police was trying to “frustrate” their ongoing probe against alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives by seeking further custody of Tehseen Akhtar and Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas.

The tug of war between the two probe agencies was seen in the court after the Special Cell of the Delhi Police sought 25 days police custody of Tehseen and Waqas in connection with a case regarding the conspiracy of IM and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to carry out terror strikes in the national capital.

The NIA told the court that the Special Cell was again seeking remand of these two accused to “frustrate the investigation so far done by the NIA with respect to accused in different FIRs”. The NIA also said their probe into these cases were “held up” due to want of interrogation of these accused.

The Special Cell, however, countered the NIA’s submissions saying their probe into the case regarding the conspiracy of IM and LeT to carry out terror strikes in Delhi was going on. It also argued the interrogation of these two accused was necessary to “verify the nexus between LeT and IM”.

The court, after hearing the arguments, remanded both the accused to custody of the Special Cell for 20 days while brushing aside the contentions of the NIA seeking its permission to formally arrest and interrogate these two accused.



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UP Police arrest 13 for Muzaffarnagar riots (Apr 17, 2014, Hindustan Times)

At least 13 people were arrested for their role in the Muzaffarnagar riots, after the Supreme Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to expedite the process of bringing the accused to justice, police said on Thursday. Two murder accused, four accused of stoning, and seven others were arrested on Wednesday from Bahawdi, Basikala, Shahpur and Kotwali areas of the district, a police official said.

A drive has been launched to arrest the riot accused after the direction of the apex court to expedite the process. According to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which is probing the riot cases, nearly 800 people were found to be involved in rioting, gang rape, and murder, and many of them are still absconding.

Of the 50 accused in Kutba killing case, only three have been arrested, police said, adding, eight persons including a woman were killed and several others injured by rioters in the village. The communal clashes that took place in Muzaffarnagar in September last year left 62 people dead and more than 40,000 homeless.



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Don’t rely purely on police report to assess riot damages: HC (Apr 17, 2014, Business Standard)

The Maharashtra government expressed its willingness before the Bombay High Court today, to withdraw a collector’s order asking Raza Academy, which had organised a 2012 rally at Azad Maidan, to pay Rs 2.74 crore for damages caused to public property due to riots. The government said it would ask the Mumbai Collector to withdraw his April 16, 2014 order, asking rally organisers to pay damages and instead issue a fresh order after a probe.

A statement to this effect was made by government pleader Aruna Kamat-Pai after a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil observed that the collector’s order issued on April 16 was not proper and was bad in law. The matter has been adjourned to April 30 so as to enable the Mumbai Collector to pass a fresh order. The Court said that the order seemed to have been passed in a “haste” yesterday (April 16) because the hearing in this case was slated for today.

The judges said that the Collector had relied purely upon a police report while assessing damages caused to property. They opined that no effort was made to assess the damages from independent sources like insurance companies. The court suggested that the state could find out from insurance companies about how many claims they had received and how much these companies had paid out as damages to their policy claimants. On this basis, damages or losses caused to property could be assessed, judges said.

The court also said that in order to assess damages, the version of purely the accused should not be relied upon. In such cases, the version of the victims should also be taken into account, judges said. These are suggestions made by the court while hearing a PIL filed by Sanket Satope, who sought a direction to the Maharashtra government to recover damages to public properties from organisers of the rally at Azad Maidan, where the riots took place in 2012.



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Controversy dogs Sambhal’s Babri mosque (Apr 17, 2014, DNA India)

The Sambhal mosque, built by a Mughal general, Mir Hindu Beg, in 1528, is the only surviving Mughal building constructed during the time of Babar. Even as Uttar Pradesh (UP) grapples with communal polarisation of votes, which experts say is unprecedented since the Ram mandir movement that culminated in the demolition of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, miscreants are busy raking up a controversy related to another Babri masjid that stands tall in the heart of Sambhal city, some 200km southeast of Delhi. Residents believe the mythological Sambhal tehsil is the place where, in Kalyug, Lord Vishnu will be reincarnated in the avataar of Kalki. Several organisations have been working behind the scene to encourage a section of kanwariyas (devotees of Lord Shiva) to perform jalabhishek (a ritual water offering) at the Jama Masjid of Sambhal, also known as the Babri masjid.

The Sambhal mosque, built by a Mughal general, Mir Hindu Beg, in 1528, is the only surviving Mughal building constructed during the time of Babbar; two other structures from the Babbar era, one in Panipat that was built in 1526 is in ruins while the mosque at Ayodhya, built in 1528, remains demolished. Muslims make up about 40-55 per cent of the electorate in Sambhal and its neighbouring towns, Moradabad, Amroha and Rampur. The underlying communal tension has now come full circle after the Samajwadi Party (SP) changed its candidate mid-way to field former BSP member Shafiq-u-Rahman Barq. Barq represented the seat in the 15th Lok Sabha but is now contesting on a SP ticket, who had earlier fielded Javed Ali Khan. Annoyed at being denied a ticket, Khan is playing a spoiler, even though Mulayam Singh Yadav managed to get both of them to shake hands on stage.

Barq says fanatic forces have exploited the issue of the mosque in the past, but had been lying dormant and it is possible for them to use such tactics again for political gain. “It’s not religion that they are aiming for. If some Hindus are trying to build an environment to turn the mosque into a temple, it’s an outright political move,” he said, reminding that a Parliamentary Act mandates a status quo on all religious structures from before 15 August 1947. “And this mosque is also under protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).” He also says that Hindus lost a claim case over the site in 1877.

Congress candidate Acharya Pramod Krishnam says that while Sambhal is the only town in the world where mythological conditions necessary for the birth of the Kalki avataar hold true, he disputes that the Lord will reincarnate near the mosque. Some distance away from the mosque stands the Raniwala Mandir devoted to Sri Kalki Vishnu; it was constructed by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar. The temple’s caretaker, Mahendra Sharma, refuses to have any conversation, fearing he will get into trouble, but he does say that local Muslims saved the temple from being torched during the bloody riots of 1976.

Krishnam organises a Kalki mela in a small village, Gram Aachora Kambhu, near Sambhal every year. The place has attained the status of a pilgrimage site in the last three years, and has been visited by union ministers Dr Farooq Abdullah, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Salman Khurshid, Subodh Kant Sahay, Sachin Pilot, and actresses Hema Malini and Monica Bedi.



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UP: Woman ‘gangraped’ by husband, brother-in-law, cops (Apr 18, 2014, Indian Express)

A married woman forced to return to her mother four months ago by her in-laws for not meeting dowry demands, was gangraped in Jitauli village under Kankarkheda police station, allegedly by her estranged husband, brother-in-law and four sleuths of the Crime Branch on Tuesday night. The woman said she was dumped near Jitauli Railway crossing early on Wednesday. Two days after a complaint was lodged by the woman, Kankarkheda police failed to make any arrest though she had named the four sleuths for sexually assaulting her.

Alka Singh, in-charge of the police station, told The Indian Express, “The SSP asked me to investigate the complaint of the woman but later directed me to concentrate on incidents of eve-teasing in the town and this was why I lost track of the case. The FIR in this connection has been lodged with Kankarkheda Police station.” “Investigation is under way and we will take action only after confirming if the woman was actually raped or the charges were aimed at settling scores with her husband,” said Mahaveer, SHO of the police station.

The woman stated in her complaint that she filed a case against her husband and in-laws four months ago for mental and physical torture. “On Tuesday, two sleuths of the Crime Branch, Nawab and Veerpal, directed me to accompany them to the station to settle the issue with my husband to which I refused. They came again in the evening and this time I saw my husband accompanying them. I decided to go with them on seeing my husband,” the complaint said. “I was taken to a house in Jitauli village where six persons including my husband, brother-in-law and four sleuths of Crime Branch raped me… I was thrown out of a moving car like a plastic bag at Jitauli railway crossing,” she told the SSP. SSP Onkar Singh said, “I have formed a joint team of Kankarkheda police and sleuths of the woman police station to ensure the guilty are nabbed soon.” The woman has been getting threats on her mobile phone to withdraw the case.



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BJP leader booked for allegedly molesting, beating dalit voter (Apr 17, 2014, Times of India)

A 45-year-old dalit woman was molested at her residence allegedly by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) city president and four other unidentified men when she refused to take money from them for voting for the party, the city police said here on Thursday. According to a complaint filed by the Dalit woman Savita Maroti Ballal, a case has been registered against BJP city president Jugal Kishore Lohiya and four other unidentified men under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Parli city police said.

The incident occurred at Gautam Nagar in Parli city on Wednesday and an FIR was filed on the same day, the police said. According to a police report, BJP city president Jugal Kishore Lohiya and other four unidentified men went to the Dalit woman’s house on Wednesday. As per the FIR, at night at around 10.30 pm they went to the Dalit woman’s residence and allegedly asked her about how many voters were there in her family, after which they allegedly “offered” her Rs 5000.

However, when she refused to accept their money, Lohiya allegedly told her that they had distributed money to lower caste people, after which he allegedly abused her caste, molested her as well as threatened her. Her son was also beaten up and threatened after he tried to resist them, the FIR said. After the news of the incident spread, local organisations called for a Parli bandh tomorrow, sources told.



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Opinions and Editorials

Being Muslim Under Narendra Modi – By Basharat Peer (Apr 18, 2014, New York Times)

…It was on his watch as chief minister that more than 1,000 people, many of them Muslims, were killed throughout Gujarat in 2002, when rioting erupted after some 60 Hindus died in a burning train in Godhra. A Human Rights Watch report that year asserted that the state government and local police officials were complicit in the carnage.

Mr. Modi has not visited the camps of the Muslims displaced by the violence or apologized for his government’s failure to protect a minority. Instead, he has described the reprisal killings of Muslims that year as a simple “reaction” to an “action,” namely the deaths of the Hindu train passengers — and has said he felt as sad about them as would a passenger in a car that accidentally ran over a puppy. His only regret, he once told a reporter for this paper, was failing to manage the media fallout.

Even as candidate for prime minister, Mr. Modi has not given up his sectarian ways. Nor has his party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Of the 449 B.J.P. candidates now running for seats in the lower house of Parliament, all but eight are Hindu. The party’s latest election manifesto reintroduces a proposal to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of a medieval mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya, even though the destruction of that mosque by Hindu extremists and B.J.P. supporters in 1992 devolved into violence that killed several thousand people.

Amit Shah, a former Gujarat minister and Mr. Modi’s closest aide, is awaiting trial for the murder of three people the police suspect of plotting to assassinate Mr. Modi. (Mr. Shah calls the charges a political conspiracy.) He has made speeches inciting anti-Muslim sentiment among Hindu voters, including in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, despite an outbreak of sectarian violence there last September.

The problem isn’t just about rhetoric. Judging by the evidence in Gujarat, where Mr. Modi has been chief minister since 2001, a B.J.P. victory in the general election would increase marginalization and vulnerability among India’s 165 million Muslims. …



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Jobless Growth In Gujarat: Some Statistics – By Sanjeev Kumar (Apr 21, 2014, Countercurrents)

One can imagine the concern of a State for providing employment for her citizen, has there not been a single Public Service Commission exam held in last 10 years. NSSO’s data shows that the growth rate of employment in Gujarat during 1993-94 to 2004-05 was 2.43% which reduced to near zero per cent during 2005 to 2010. The stagnant employment growth in the last five years in Gujarat is better than negative employment growth rate at the national level but lags far behind other equally well off states such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Unemployment rate in Gujarat in 2009-10 was 9.9% while the national figure was 9.3% and 5.8% for Tamil Nadu, 5.9 for Maharashtra and 8.6 for Haryana. It rose to 10% in 2011-12 for Gujarat.

The increase in number of factory during 2000-01 to 2009-10 was 10.54% while in employment it was only 54% while increase in net value added was 434.10%. Gujarat account, 14% of India’s manufacturing gross value added, 18.6% of fixed capital, 10% of total number of factories but only 9% of employment generated in India. Gujarat’s contribution to India’s total employment generation is 10.14% but her contribution to value of output is 17.22% while only 12.55% in net value added. This means Gujarat gives priority to increase in production over increase in net value added while priority to employment generation has been least. Question could also be asked, if Gujarat’s output is 17.22% but she adds only 12.55% value to India’s wealth, where does other 4.7% (17.22 – 12.55 %) go? Of course, it goes to capitalist in form of subsidies. However, it was not always the case. In 2002-04 the value of output was 16.07% while the Net Value Added was 19.77% of the Indian total. This change in priority cannot be considered as the good indication for an welfare economy.

The CAG’s report on “Performance Audit of MGNREGA” indicates poor performance of Gujarat. In terms of its benefits to the female worker Gujarat’s performance is 50% lesser then national average. In terms of awareness among the worker about the number of days they worked or entitlement they have, the performance of Gujarat is worst then even Odisha and Bihar. Gujarat ranks first in terms of issuing direct industrial license but ranks seventh in employment generation; Tamil Nadu ranks seventh in investment in IEMs (Industrial Entrepreneur Memorandum) but ranks first in its share of creating employment from this investment. During 2006-10, Gujarat signed MoU worth Rs 5.35 lakh crore with potential of 6.47 lakh jobs. But Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with Rs 4.20 lakh crore and Rs 1.63 lakh crore worth MoUs, expected to create about 8.63 lakh and 13.09 lakh jobs.

The above figures make it clear that Gujarat is producing employment lesser then her real potential. It has been so despite the fact that she has more attraction for the investors. The explanation for this unnatural relation between investments without employment can be found in Gujarat Government policy of encouragement to capital intensive sector of economy and capital intensive production system. Nearly 50% of net employment generated in Gujarat in the last two decades has come from service sector and followed by 30% from agriculture but Government is ignoring these sectors continuously. During 1993-94 to 2009-10, the employment in agriculture increased by 76% in rural Gujarat while in case of Manufacturing it was reduced by 17% in rural and increased by 28% in urban Gujarat. The highest growth rate of employment at national level has been seen in construction sector but in case of Gujarat it is agriculture. In 2004-04, 49.9% of employment was in primary sector which increased to 54.4% in 2008-09. This means dependence of people of Gujarat on agriculture and its allied sector has been increasing while the contribution of secondary and tertiary sector is decreasing.

The contribution of Gujarat’s manufacturing sector in generating employment remained stagnant while share of Gujarat’s manufacturing sector in India’s total manufacturing increased rapidly. On the other hand, Tamil Nadu did well in this aspect with a balanced growth of both employment and production. In second half of 2000s employment generation in manufacturing sector of Gujarat became negative with -2.6%. In addition to poor gains in employment, the manufacturing sector in the State is also characterised by slow growth in wages (1.5 per cent in the decade of 2000 when the all-India wages grew by 3.7 per cent), increasing use of contract workers (from 19 to 34 per cent between 2001 and 2008), and overall reduced position of workers (with the lowest share of wages in Gross Value added in the decade of 2000s in comparison to Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu).…



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Hatemongers speaking on behalf of BJP are undermining its image – Editorial (Apr 21, 2014, Hindustan Times)

This is an albatross round the BJP’s neck that it needs to jettison double quick. We mean the motley crew of self-styled Hindutva proponents who have done nothing by embarrass the party with extreme and unacceptable pronouncements. The BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi have rightly understood that the Indian voter will, by and large, cast his or her lot in with a moderate and secular political party. This is what the BJP has been trying to project itself as, putting behind some unfortunate episodes in its past.

But the latest salvo allegedly from Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia has once again put the onus on the BJP to disassociate itself from his remarks. In a bid to make himself relevant, Mr Togadia has reportedly asked his followers to drive out a Muslim businessman who has purchased a house in Rajkot by confronting him with stones, tyres and tomatoes. Mr Togadia apparently assured his supporters that “there is nothing wrong in it. Killers of Rajiv Gandhi have not been hanged…there is nothing to fear.” Mr Togadia has subsequently denied having said all this.

Then we have Bihar BJP leader Giriraj Singh saying that those who do not vote for Mr Modi should go to Pakistan and that they would be considered traitors. There have been calls to expel him, but he should have been shown the door the minute he made these remarks. The RSS, which is in the vanguard of the BJP’s efforts to gain power, has urged the majority community to vote in strength, hinting that to do otherwise would amount to encouraging minority appeasement.

While it is true that none of these have the sanction of the BJP, all these organisations are part of the right wing Hindutva lobby. The BJP should have made it clear at the very outset that no one, but its authorised spokespersons, can speak on its behalf or with the misplaced notion that such remarks will help it. If, however, the likes of these hatemongers cannot be contained, then the BJP leadership at the highest level should roundly and publicly condemn these divisive tactics. Mr Modi and the top BJP leaders have scrupulously avoided raising religion as this is an issue which is misused to stoke sectarian passions.

The BJP president, Rajnath Singh, has time and again sought the help of the Muslims in these elections with assurances that they will not be targeted in any manner. The same goes for other minorities. Yet, the BJP is being tarred with the same brush as the VHP and other fringe organisations that claim to speak for all Hindus. Now is the time for the BJP as the party which was once the ruling party, and which aspires to be that again, to firmly distance itself from these elements and take action against those in its ranks who are giving it a bad name.



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Bombers For A Cause? – By Subhash Gatade (Apr 10, 2014, Countercurrents)

Bombs always make news – even when they do not explode. Terrorists of various stripes as well as criminals know it very well. And they time their actions accordingly. Bombs – even if they do not explode – or even when they cause symbolic damage have an added traction for the politicos of the right. They pay rich dividends. It is one of the easiest thing to stigmatise, terrorise a community, a people. In an ambience where all such anti-human acts are projected as handiwork of the ‘other’ it takes very less time to polarise the ‘us’. It is common knowledge that the vitiation of atmosphere is so immediate and complete that all talk of harmony and composite heritage can just evaporate in a fraction of a second and the saner elements within can suddenly find themselves on the margins.

Kagal, a town in Kolhapur district, was witness to such an incident, where the police discovered a bomb making factory in the Lakshmi Hill near MIDC area. The culprits involved in this action could be nabbed before they could ‘operationalise their bomb’. The gravity of the situation could be understood by the fact that police could bust this criminal module on the eve of Narendra Modi’s proposed rally in that area. It has arrested four youths who were involved in the operation. While Ajinkya Manohar Bhopade(22) and Aniket Bhivaji Mali(22) belong to Chokak village in Hatkananagale, Nilesh Babanrao Patil (20) is from Male Mudshingi, in Hatkanangale and Anil Popat Kharase (26) hail from Kabnur-Ichalkaranji in Hatkanangale. Patil and Kharase supplied material for bomb making and Bhopade – who has a diploma in electronics and Mali – who works as wireman have been arrested for making bombs.

Apart from diagram notes police have confiscated material including gelatin sticks, remotely handled switches, remote control devices, five screw drivers, steel clips, wire-cutters, hacksaws, scissors, hammers, buzzers, door bells, six battery cells, power control equipment, energy circuit wiring, switch cord and paper pieces with diagram notes, among others. It has also confiscated four live bombs and equipment worth Rs 25,69,575. The bombs confiscated were ones that could be detonated with a remote control. According to newspaper reports the police has ‘refuted ‘[a]ny political or extremist hand behind the bombs the four made.Kolhapur district superintendent of police Manojkumar Sharma said that the youths were “trying to make easy money”. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolhapur/Four-arrested-in-Kagal-for-making-bombs/articleshow/33350186.cms). The FIR registered by the police states that “[i]t had received a tip-off that some persons were going to bring bombs in the MIDC area. Acting on the tip-off, a trap was laid on the Kagal town and the four accused persons were nabbed on the Saturday night. The arrested were carrying the four bombs and other explosive materials on two bikes.”

It is possible that the police – with good intentions – is in a hurry to individualise the incident and localise the act and does not want to aggravate further tension in an already surcharged atmosphere. But it’s claim that no political or extremist hand was visible behind these bombers and they were ‘trying to make easy money’ sounds unconvincing. One can look at the enormous amount of money involved – the equipment cost itself was more than Rs. 25 lakhs – and it is difficult to comprehend how a group of these four people, one a wireman, one a diploma holder and other two doing similar odd jobs could raise so much mony on their own to ‘start this business’.

Police’s claim that all the four had no previous background of ‘criminal activities’ is an added reason to think that they were not acting on their own but were merely cogs in some wider conspiracy. It is important to find out the real masterminds, the real planners, financers behind their act. And there have been many such incidents where activists associated with rightwing fanatic groups – most of them without any previous criminal record – have been found to be involved in making bombs, storing explosives and chalking out plans to put it at crowded places to cause maximum damage to the ‘other’. …



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Whither Community Profiling – By Subhash Gatade (Apr 21, 2014, Countercurrents)

Adam Goldman, a journalist who with the help of his colleague Matt Apuzzo first broke the story about New York Police Department’s Muslim Spy Programme in a series of articles he wrote for Associated Press must be a happy man these days. News has come in that NYPD (New York Police Department) has finally decided to disband its DemographicUnit which was engaged in spying on Muslim neighborhoods, infiltrating groups and eavesdropping on conversations across the northeastern United States, In the years following the Sept. 11 attacks. It has finally admitted that its secret Demographics Unit failed to yield a single terrorism investigation or even a single lead. Senior police officers of the department confirmed that the police gathered information on people even when there was no evidence of wrongdoing, simply because of their ethnicity and native language.

It was quite a coincidence that when the world at large was discussing how NYPD tried to stigmatise a community and terrorise a people, reports about the ‘informer-cop nexus behind Islamic Fundamentalism in Tamil Nadu’. (http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Informer-Cop-Nexus-Behind-TN-Islamic-Fundamentalism/2014/04/11/article216) were already making rounds. What is important to note here is that a (retd) senior police officer’s confidential correspondence with higher officials formed a key evidence in this unfolding drama. Not very many people would remember today that during Lal Krishna Advani’s tour of Tamil Nadu in the year 2011 police had discovered a plot to cause mayhem supposedly by Islamic militants. It was told that pipe bombs were discovered on the route which Advani’s cavalcade was to follow. Police had even arrested two ‘terrorists’ Syed Wahab and Ismath and presented them before the media.

A petition before the Madras Highcourt which has sought a CBI probe into the various bomb planting cases in Madurai alleging that the real accused were not arrested is revisiting this particular high profile case as well. Madras Highcourt ( Madurai bench) is expected to give its opinion on the 21 st April.The said letters written by former Madurai SP V Balakrishnan to the DGP and Additional DGP in March and August 2013 and were presented before the court in the second week of April. According to Balakrishnan police informers belonging to the Muslim community were themselves indulging in subversive activities by abusing the faith the police had placed on them and also due to their alleged nexus with some corrupt intelligence sleuths. …

Definitely this could not be said to be the first investigation of its kind where the role of the police and investigating agencies has come under a scanner. There are a number of cases where law and order people have badly fumbled and have received enough opprobrium from the judiciary. Not some time ago ‘ Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association’ had brought out a report ‘Framed, Damned and Acquitted’ which looks at the operations of the Special Cell of the Delhi police, the stereotypical manner in which they conducted investigations in cases arresting Muslims for being part of terrorist outfits and how in most of these cases the accused were acquitted by the courts.

The developments in the Malegaon bomb blast case 2006 where a terror module of RSS workers was finally chargesheeted, was also a pointer to the prejudices entertained by the police and the role of informers in helping people nab innocents. One still remembers the bomb explosions in Malegaon on the day of Shab-e-Barat (Sep 2006) and the manner in which nine Muslim youth were apprehended and had to spend more than five years behind jail because of biased investigation. Here also role of one Abrar Ahmad had proved crucial – who worked for the police – who had provided ‘evidence’ against these nine youth. Later he had submitted an affidavit before the court recounting the false evidence. We have a number of such examples where the actual perpetrators were never caught and innocents were apprehended, tortured badly and asked to ‘confess’ a crime which they had not committed. …



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A modern-day enlightenment – By Ananya Vajpeyi (Apr 17, 2014, The Hindu)

In recent months there has been a vociferous demand from some sections of Dalit intellectual and Ambedkarite opinion that the ideas of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi not be compared, contrasted, or put into any kind of conversation with one another. In this view, to mention Gandhi in the same breath as Ambedkar is to take attention and importance away from Ambedkar, and to blunt the radical edge of Ambedkar’s contribution, to make him part of the same national mainstream of modern political thought in which Gandhi, Nehru, Tagore and many others belong. In other words, there is a type of exceptionalism that attaches itself to Ambedkar. Proponents of this exceptionalism bristle at any attempt to discuss Ambedkar together with his peers and contemporaries, starting with Gandhi and including all kinds of thinkers and leaders, especially those who happened to be caste Hindus.

There is no doubt that Ambedkar was indeed exceptional in many respects – as an intellectual, a politician and a human being. He fought unimaginable odds to become one of the greatest men of the historical era in which he lived. But this does not mean that he existed, thought or worked in isolation, apart from a climate of ideas, cut off from a rich inter-subjective context of teachers, mentors, benefactors, patrons, friends, comrades, followers, critics, adversaries, supporters, interlocutors, commentators and interpreters. Like any historically significant individual in the thick of public life, with a long and complex career in law, politics, scholarship and religion, Ambedkar too was surrounded by other people, some of whom helped him while others hindered him. Moreover, even today, long after his death, many different groups continue to vie for his legacy. Dalits and Neo-Buddhists are of course at the forefront of staking a claim to this inheritance, and so they should be, but they are not alone. Anyone who wants to understand the political foundations of India’s modernity has to engage seriously with Ambedkar and all that he stood for.

To think of Gandhi and Ambedkar as paired figures is not a new discursive move. By the early 1990s, the late D.R. Nagaraj had developed a nuanced understanding of their tortured dialogue, reluctant complementarity and intimate enmity. In his classic essay, “Self-Purification v/s Self-Respect: On the Roots of the Dalit Movement” (1993), Professor Nagaraj made several important points: first, that it was Gandhi who initially grasped untouchability as a political problem (albeit his own concerns were spiritual and not material); second, that Gandhi and Ambedkar debated their divergent approaches to the problem of untouchability in a vigorous manner both before and after the Poona Pact of 1932; and third, that by the end of their long encounter with one another, Gandhi and Ambedkar had internalised one another’s ideas. Thus, Gandhi could recognise the village, which he had romanticised as a kind of indigenous utopia, to be a socio-economic space of exploitation and oppression. Ambedkar meanwhile could acknowledge that the yearning for equality and recognition is not answered by a struggle for political rights and social justice alone, but ultimately must assume the dimensions of a deeper quest for transcendent religious truth.

Ambedkar exposed the swamp of caste prejudice that lay beneath the veneer of Gandhi’s instinctive traditionalism. Gandhi alerted Ambedkar to the dangers of fundamentalist modernism: violence against the self, estrangement from an organic community, loss of cultural memory, the return of repressed pasts in frightening, haunting forms, and the erosion of all bulwarks against the onslaught of capitalism. The arch-critic of modernity, Gandhi, and the arch-critic of tradition, Ambedkar, both transformed one another’s views. The truth is that if caste is dehumanising, technology too, can be anti-human. If rural life is steeped in darkness, urban life too, can be hellish. (“Peepli Live” (2010), Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui’s brilliant film about farmer suicides and migrant labour, was a wryly ironic comment on this bitter reality.) India today, as we know it, bears out the truth of both Gandhi and Ambedkar’s views. On the one hand, electoral democracy has reinvented caste as an empowering vector of collective identity, and on the other hand, environmentally-aware social movements have shown up aggressive technological advancement and neo-liberal globalisation as impediments to human flourishing and political emancipation.

But Professor Nagaraj’s abiding insight was to explain how the difference between “Harijan” and “Dalit” is the difference between the caste Hindu’s struggle for self-purification and the outcaste’s struggle for self-respect. The “self” in the two situations is not the same. Ambedkarites today are right to point out that because Gandhi’s Harijan is a completely discredited and defunct category, which no longer has nor has had, in fact, for decades, any moral traction or political appeal, it is not necessary to invoke Gandhi together with Ambedkar in our ongoing discussions about caste. The caste system in Gandhi’s polemics – a web of social relations typical of India, with an attendant set of basically benign religious beliefs and effective economic practices, minus any built-in or inevitable ideology of inequality – is non-existent as an empirically verifiable reality. No one experiences caste in this way; especially not those at the receiving end of its structural violence. Ambedkar raised this objection early on: today, nobody disputes that he was right.…



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