IAMC Weekly News Roundup - April 3rd, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 3rd, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Hindu, Muslim couples tie knots under one roof (Apr 3, 2017, Hindustan Times)

At a time when religious differences are high on the minds, Lucknow witnessed a unique wedding ceremony that left all differences of religion and caste aside. At the community centre at Sahara States in Jankipuram, chanting of mantras for marriage and reading of nikahnama resonated simultaneously on Sunday evening. Hindu and muslim couples tied knots under the same roof during the same time and vowed for a happy life amidst grand arrangements.…

The food, gifts and all other arrangements were common for all couples. While nikahnama was read for the muslim couple, for hindu couples, vedic mantras were recited by priests. Soni, another bride said, “We all got ready together. We are only brides and grooms here – no Hindu or Muslim, no upper or lower caste.”…

While selection of brides and grooms were done by the respective families, the organising committee did an investigation to find about the finer details of the families. Their below poverty line (BPL)ration cards were checked before they were registered for the wedding.…


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BJP behind organized communal flareup in North Gujarat village: Civil society report. “Target assembly polls” (Apr 1, 2017, Counterview)

A civil society fact-finding team, which visited Vadavali village of North Gujarat where communal clashes on March 25 led to the death of one person, has claimed that it was “organized” riot with the aim of “dividing” Hindus and Muslims, blaming BJP for “strategically using violence through its various wings to create tension” with an eye on state assembly polls, due in December.…

Meanwhile, according to sabrangindia.in, a top site championing human rights issues, Muslims have started fleeing the village following allegations that the cops are targeting the minority community and reports of continued attacks on Muslims.… The incident took place immediately after a decision on sarpanch, in which for “2.5 years there would be a Patel sarpanch and for 2.5 years there would be a Muslim Sarpanch”, the report says. “Rashidaben Sultanmiyaan was elected immediately, after which the incident of violence broke out.”…

“The mob seemed to have planned the attack”, the report says, adding, “they arrived with barrels of petrol, private guns and other weapons etc.… Identifying those leading attacks included a member of Shiv Sena, a school teacher, a BJP lawyer, and two SRP jawans from the Thakore community, the report claims, it is one of the SRP jawan’s firing from a private gun which “hit Rashidaben’s husband on his thigh.”



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EVMs Poll in “Favour” of BJP in MP Bypoll, Election Officer Warns Journos Not to Report Scam (Apr 1, 2017, Sabrang India)

The Election Commission has sought a detailed report from the district poll authorities in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh on media reports that VVPAT was only dispensing slips of BJP symbol during a demonstration exercise, PTI reports.…

This Video has gone Viral and that’s not a surprise. In the post-truth era where the media is being lured away from dispassionate investigations, it is no wonder that it is on Facebook that this EVM Scam has been unearthed. And its a development that could give credence to allegations of election fraud.…

In the video (above), Singh is seen surrounded by several election officials who try to test the accuracy of the machine by pressing the number four button of a VVPAT machine. However to everyone’s utter shock, the paper receipt showed the vote had in fact gone in favour of the BJP, whose election symbol, lotus, was against the first button and not the number four button. When questioned, Singh asked the reporters not to report the incident adding that the act could land them in jail. Will there be an Investigation? Will the officer be questioned, even prosecuted? Is there Justice for All?



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‘You may as well kill us’: Human cost of India’s meat ‘ban’ (Mar 30, 2017, BBC)

The government’s crackdown on meat shops in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has left many traders and butchers without much work and money.… “I have no money since my shop shut two weeks ago. I don’t know how to feed my children and aging parents. Is it because I am a Muslim, or a meat trader?” Shakeel Ahmad, 52, asks.…

Authorities have closed many slaughterhouses since Mr Adityanath’s BJP party won the state elections earlier in the month. Small shops selling goat and chicken have also been forced to shut, despite the slaughter of these animals being legal. Most butchers are Muslims and many suspect that they are being targeted unfairly. They allege that their businesses are being shut on technicalities. One meat traders association went on strike, alleging harassment by state authorities.…

A few blocks away, I meet Mohamed Shariq who has also shut his shop. “I have the licence needed to run my shop, but I fear attacks from right-wing groups,” he says. Mr Shariq’s fear is not unfounded. Media reports suggest that several meat shops have been attacked in the state in the past two weeks.…Every house in this community has similar stories.…



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Ujjain: Former RSS functionary Chandrawat arrested for hate speech (Mar 29, 2017, Free Press Journal)

Former leader and office bearer of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), Dr Kundan Chandrawat who rattled the country with his provoking speech, was arrested on Monday and produced in court. The Madhav Nagar police station had registered an FIR under IPC Section 505 against Chandrawat after his controversial speech in which he announced an award of Rs 1 crore to the person who succeeded in beheading Kerala CM Pinnarayi Vijayan.…

He was sent on judicial remand to the Bhairavgarh Jail as per the order of CJM court on Monday. On Tuesday, another bail application was moved on behalf of Chandrawat by his lawyer Virendra Sharma, which was allowed by the Special Judge (atrocities), PK Vyas.

He was granted bail on producing a bail bond of Rs 10,000. Sharma told Free Press that no reaction in any form had come to the forefront after the so-called hate speech of Dr Chandrawat.



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Cancel Aseemanand’s bail, demands Owaisi (Apr 1, 2017, Business Standard)

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday urged the central government to take steps for cancelling the bail of Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case. A day after Aseemanand walked out of Hyderabad jail, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Member of Parliament told reporters that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was adopting double standards in dealing with terrorism.

He alleged that the government is soft towards non-Muslims facing terrorism charges but tough towards Muslims. He recalled that the BJP used to talk tough against terrorism and had even stated that it would not view the problem from a religious angle. “Why so much love for Aseemanand. Cancel his bail. You can’t take a rigid stand on one side and be soft on another side,” Owaisi said.

The MP said Aseemanand had confessed his involvement in the Ajmer blast but after he was acquitted by a court, the BJP government did not file an appeal to challenge the verdict. He remarked that ‘acchey din’ have come for Aseemanand and said ‘acchey din’ would also come now for Sadhvi Pragya and Colonel Purohit.…



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Muslim bodies in MP oppose move to teach patriotism in madarsas (Apr 2, 2017, Times of India)

A day after the Madrasa Board announced the introduction of a syllabus on patriotism, the Co-ordination Committee for Indian Muslims (CCIM) Madhya Pradesh unit on Saturday strongly opposed the move of exposing “only” madrasa students to patriotism.

Taking cognizance of the TOI report published on Saturday titled ‘Madarsas to teach patriotism’, a delegation of CCIM led by secretary Masood Ahmed Khan met the chairperson of Madhya Pradesh Madrasa Board Syed Imauddin and raised their objection against the proposal sent to the government of India for its approval.

The Muslim leaders dubbed the move as highly discriminatory and said it should never be introduced in the state. In the meeting, the CCIM members said that “the move could be seen as a discriminatory approach toward Muslims in the state.”…



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Muslim Villagers Flee Vadavali, Patan as Allegations of Targeting & Police Complicity Turn Gujarat’s Clock Back (Mar 31, 2017, Sabrang India)

Muslims have fled the Gujarat village of Vadavali in a chilling recollection of pre-2002 and 2002 bouts of targeted violence after a minor altercation between a Muslim and Hindu boy at school in Patan leads to a mob killing two and destroying dozens of homes. One more Survivor succumbed to his injuries.

Police have rounded up only Muslims, a local resident, Yusuf Parmar alleges. Parmar had contacted the DCP Amreli updating him of attempts to disturb the harmony of Savar Kundla and other villages on the night of March 25-26. Meanwhile the mass arson of homes in Vadavali sees smoke still billowing.

On the night of March 30, local reports indicate that one Muslim youth has been arrested by the police on allegedly false charges of teasing a non-Muslim girl. Three other Muslim youth have been also arrested on charges of rioting. While the police claim 14 arrests on rioting and attempt to murder, some residents also allege that a VHP leader who allegedly accompanied the Darbars during the attack on Muslim homes has not been named in the FIR.…



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US govt report criticises India over corruption, lack of transparency (Apr 3, 2017, Hindustan Times)

A US State Department report has panned the Indian government over alleged human rights violations, citing the police case against activist Teesta Setalvad and encounter killing of eight suspected SIMI activists in Madhya Pradesh.

The report on ‘Human Rights Practices in India for 2016’ also referred to restrictions on foreign funding of NGOs, including some whose views the government believed were not in the “national or public interest”, female genital mutilation and dowry-related deaths as human rights problems in the country.

It mentioned about rejection of renewal of government permission to 25 NGOs to receive foreign funds, including senior lawyer Indira Jaisingh’s ‘Lawyers Collective’ and US-based Compassion International’s two primary partners, noting that several voluntary organisations said these actions threatened their ability to continue to operate in India.…



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Modi Government Legalises Higher Levels of Political Corruption (Apr 2, 2017, Peoples Democracy)

The Modi government has indulged in the height of duplicity to hoodwink the people of this country with its loud pronouncements to cleanse corruption, particularly in the electoral process.

This is clear from the amendment slipped into the provisions of Finance Bill 2017 where the “limit of 7.5 percent of net profit of the last three financial years” and “the requirements of a company to disclose the name of the political parties to which a contribution has been made” has been deleted.

The Companies Act as amended now allows corporates to pay political parties an unlimited amount through the Election Bonds Scheme without disclosing the beneficiaries names.…



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Minor girl raped inside Jagannath temple in Puri (Apr 2, 2017, Indian Express)

A physically challenged minor girl was allegedly raped by a youth inside the premises of Lord Jagannath temple at Baripada, police said on Sunday. The incident took place when the 11-year-old girl went inside the temple for ‘Darshan’ of the Lord late on Friday night when the shrine was virtually deserted, they said.

Taking advantage of the situation, a 28-year-old youth escorted her to the bathing mandap of the Lord and raped her before fleeing.

The victim was rescued in a critical condition from the spot. Angry locals spotted the accused and thrashed him before handing him over to the police.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Modi’s Alarming Power Grab – By Mihir Sharma (Mar 29, 2017, Bloomberg Quint)

Relatively quietly, India’s government has just undertaken an unprecedented power grab – one that should worry not just citizens and taxpayers but also foreign investors. And it comes in the most unlikely of places: the annual federal budget.

The presentation of the budget is a fairly splashy event;… While the budget itself was lackluster – with a few handouts, but no real growth-promoting reform – what happened afterward has been startling. The government decided to tack on amendments that are worrying in both intention and execution. These amendments change as many as 40 other laws, and will have wide-ranging effects. They seem to suggest the worst: that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are trying to expand the powers of the Indian state in ways not seen for decades. Also, he’s getting away with it.…

The larger trend here is what should worry us. India has worked as a democracy and as a slowly liberalizing economy precisely because there are at least some checks on government power. Already, anyone doing business in India knows that half your time – perhaps more – is spent getting on the right side of the government. But the courts, the tribunals and the upper house of parliament have all acted as constraints on the executive. Modi, empowered by his huge victory in recent local elections, is trying to reduce the power of these checks.…



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Anti-Muslim Hindu priest facing charges of attempted murder now runs India’s largest state – By Zeenat Saberin (Mar 29, 2017, Vice.com)

Chants of “Modi Modi” have been replaced by “Yogi Yogi” in the largest Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Yogi Adityanath is 44, wears saffron robes, and renounced worldly pleasures at the age of 21. And now this hard-line Hindu priest is the chief minister of the state, having been hand chosen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP party and sworn in on March 19. Many view this appointment as Modi moving to consolidate Hindu support in the run up to 2019 elections, and Adityanath certainly fits the bill. He is popular, controversial and full of religious ideology, but critics warn that he also relies too heavily on divisive policies.…

In 2005, Adityanath launched a ‘purification drive’ to re-convert Christians to Hinduism, later claiming to have reconverted more than 5000 people. In 2007, he spent 11 days in jail for defying prohibitory orders imposed by the administration during a time of heightened sectarian tension.

More seriously, Adityanath’s 2014 election affidavit says he faced criminal charges including attempted murder, intimidation, promoting religious enmity, defiling a place of worship, rioting, and trespassing on burial places. Throughout his many electoral campaigns, Adityanath has repeatedly reinforced the message of “Hindu unity” against a perceived threat from Islam. In January, he voiced his support for a Trump-inspired Muslim immigration ban in India.…



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Beef and the BJP: What happens to Hindutva in the states of the North East? – By Ipsita Chakravarty (Mar 30, 2017, Scroll.in)

… The Bharatiya Janata Party won the elections that followed, and the Naga party is now an ally in the Manipur government, with legislators in the state cabinet. Beef – the eating of it, the cooking of it, the killing of cows to cook and eat it – was not a bone of contention.

And now BJP leaders from Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram have said that Uttar Pradesh-style beef politics would not come to the North East. All three Christian-majority states are bound for elections in 2018. There would be no bans on beef, slaughterhouses or cow slaughter if the BJP came to power, they assured voters. They also said that the central leadership was aware of cultural differences in the region.

In the Hindi heartland, the BJP has given free rein to the fantasies of Hindutva, with its beef banditry and its anti-Romeo squads, aimed at preserving a fetishised cultural purity. But as the saffron party advances farther East, it becomes a different beast, faced with cultural realities that are new to it.…



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In 24 Hours, a Lifetime Goes Up in Smoke for Muslim Villagers in a Corner of Gujarat – By Damayantee Dhar (Mar 30, 2017, The Wire)

Smoke still billows from Vadavali. Days after it was razed in a mob attack that left two dead, the village in Gujarat’s Patan district stands deserted. The only people in sight are the police. Charred shells of houses and vehicles, along with the smoke still billowing two days after the incident when this reporter visited, underline the violence that took place in the Chanasma tehsil village on March 26. The Muslim villagers have fled, many taking refuge in a neighbouring hospital.

The mob attack was triggered by a fight between two students – one from the Thakor (Darbar community) and the other a Muslim – on March 25. The next day, a group of people belonging to the Darbar community, mostly from the neighbouring village of Sunsar and two other villages, attacked the Muslims residents of Vadavali. About 80-100 dwellings were ransacked and burnt, food grain was set afire and three shops gutted along with 10-12 vehicles.

The dead included a 50-year-old villager, Ibrahimbhai Lalbhai Belim, and a youth who was grievously injured and later succumbed to injuries. About 25 people were injured; five of them are in a critical condition.… “The local (Chanasma police station) police did not help us much. They didn’t even pick up the injured. My father got badly injured and fell down and was left lying there for a long time. I had to run, they attacked me too,” said the son of Belim, the man who died. He himself has a fractured leg and sword injuries on his forehead and right hand and is hospitalised.…



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Shall We Stay Silent at This Most Unholy of Wars? – By Nayantara Sahgal (Mar 28, 2017, The Wire)

Men have gone to war since time began, for conquest, for plunder, for glory, for keeping muscles trim and adrenalin flowing. … Whether men have been broken on the wheel or on the rack, or burnt alive at the stake, no form of torture has succeeded in making them deny the god they worship or the way they worship. In India this belief in the sanctity of one’s own religion is integral to the fact of being Indian, in a land whose Constitution has given us the right to live, love, eat and worship as we choose. The unholy war being waged on our multi-religious civilisation needs to come to terms with this basic truth.…

True religion has given birth to great song, great poetry, and the great ideal of the brotherhood of man. There is no one today to proclaim this ideal, no Gandhi who went unarmed to the killing field of Noakhali and brought peace by his mere presence, no Nehru’s voice for peace in a savagely armed post-war world. It is for citizens to defend the heritage of equal citizenship bequeathed to us by our founding fathers and to ensure that religion remains a private affair if incidents like those cited above are not to become daily unchecked outrages.

As a practitioner of yoga for many years, I have been taught that a cardinal principle on the spiritual path is non-violence. No one who advocates violence is a yogi so permit me to refer to the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh as Shri Adityanath.… What is happening in Uttar Pradesh is taking place under his watch, a sign that Hindutva is on the warpath. Why else would the Muslims in a Bareilly village be ordered on pain of death to leave? Is it possible that the Hindu neighbours they have lived with all their lives have delivered this barbaric ultimatum? Or, as is more likely, is this another case of roving vigilante enthusiasm that consigns these defenceless Indian citizens and their families to a wilderness of fear and desperation? Shall we stay silent and watch?



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Babri Masjid: Back to Square One, Or Worse? – By Kuldip Nayar (Apr 3, 2017, The Citizen)

We are back to square one. The Supreme Court has advised the two parties, those who want the Babri Masjid to be reconstructed and those who claim that the site is that of Lord Rama’s. In its judgment, the court has advised the different parties to sit together and sort out the problems through negotiations.

One surprising part of the advice is that the Chief Justice of India is willing to mediate for an out-of-court settlement. He has said “give a bit and take a bit. Make an effort to sort it out.” He points out that these are issues of sentiments and he can even step aside and let his brother judges to decider. How can the Chief Justice or, for that matter, his brother judges mediate because their very office is supposed to be above controversies?

Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu icon, who has been elected as the leader of the Uttar Pradesh legislative party with a huge margin and installed at chief minister. Whether the credit for securing this majority in UP goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi or to the Yogi, who has the reputation of being a hardcore Hindu leader, it shows that Hindutva is sweeping the country. Obviously, the RSS is behind the move.…



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Book Review

Kandhalmal: Introspection Of Initiative for Justice 2007-2015

Author: Vrinda Gover and Saumya Uma
Reviewed by: Ram Puniyani
Available at: Media House and United Christian Forum, Delhi 2017 595.00 info.mhdelhi@gmail.com . www.amazon.in/
Kandhamal: Introspection Of Initiative For Justice (Apr 4, 2017, Countercurrents)

Violence is the bane of Indian society and a manifest agenda of communal forces, which thrive on divisive politics and polarization. This is part of their political agenda. While Hindu-Muslim violence during British period had a particular beginning and characteristics, the same violence became anti-Muslim violence after Independence.

The major brunt of communal violence has been borne by Muslim community while Sikhs also became the major victim in 1984. Christian community was not under attack till practically 1999 when Pastor Stains was burnt alive in a brutal way. Following that anti-Christian violence kept dogging the society in Gujarat (Dangs), MP (Jhabua) and many other places, the peak of this was witnessed in Kandhamal in August 2008, when on the pretext of murder of Swami Laxmananand, anti-Christian violence was unleashed.…

This book is a meticulous chronicling of the process of attempts to get justice, the hurdles and inadequate outcome of the same. The lawyer duo… have examined the role of police and its apathy in controlling the violence (What of that, violence took place in their very presence). They point out the role of state apparatus, in first letting the violence take place and then default on rehabilitation and on giving justice to victims. Both these are part of the Indian system as it is deeply justice and rehabilitation have been undermined due to the prevalent virus of communal thinking. Few and far are the officers, bureaucrats or politicians who stand up to mark come to do what is expected of them.…