IAMC Weekly News Roundup - April 4th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 4th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


Indian Americans condemn Saudi award for Prime Minister Modi

Award defies logic given Mr. Modi’s record before and after taking office as Prime Minister

April 04, 2016

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has condemned the Saudi government’s decision to confer Indian Prime Minister Modi with the nation’s highest civilian award.

“It is expected that the Indian Prime Minister is accorded the respect befitting a head of state. However, conferring of the highest civilian award on Mr. Modi by those who claim to be the custodians of the two Holy Mosques is a slap in the face of survivors of the Gujarat pogroms of 2002. It is also a demonstration of indifference to the increased attacks and threats against the religious minorities and Dalits in India,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of IAMC.

Mr. Modi and the Saudi monarchy have much in common. As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi presided over one of the worst episodes of sectarian violence in independent India, when over 2,000 people were massacred by mobs instigated by the Hindu-supremacist groups. The horrific killings were accompanied by rape and pillage, resulting in the displacement of over 150,000 Muslims from their homes, many of whom are still struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives. Mr. Modi continues to have a case pending against him in the Gujarat High Court and a tainted Special Investigation Team failed to initiate prosecution of Mr. Modi. The handful of convictions in the cases related to the pogroms in Gujarat have happened as a result of tireless and courageous work by activists and whistleblowers, whom the Modi government has harassed and intimidated.

Since coming to power, the Modi administration has worked steadily to erode religious freedom and India’s long-cherished traditions of tolerance among its diverse populace. Ranging from attacks on churches and mob violence against Muslims and Dalits, to felicitating the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Modi’s administration and its supporters have relentlessly pursued a divisive agenda, that is antithetical to the country’s Constitution and its egalitarian ideals. The demonization of intellectuals, the vigilantism encouraged by the state, and the weakening of institutions are all indications of a besieged Indian democracy.

Saudi forces are conducting indiscriminate airstrikes in Yemen that are widely acknowledged to have caused huge loss of civilian lives, creating an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe. Incidentally, the monarchy had conferred the same award given to Mr. Modi, on Mr. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt.

“Coming from the Saudi monarchy, which is known for its repressive domestic policies and human rights violations, the award itself is of dubious value. It diminishes, rather than enhances the office of the Prime Minister of India,” added Mr. Malick.

Indian-American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information, please visit our website at: https://www.iamc.com

Indian American Muslim Council
Phone/Fax: 1-800-839-7270
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1.Indian government failed to address attacks on minorities: Human Rights groups

2. India Gov’t Turning a Blind Eye to Religious Attacks

3. India’s Refusal to Admit U.S. Religious Freedom Watchdog Seen As Attempt to Hide ‘Crimes’ Against Religious Minorities

4. Two Muslim Cattle Traders Hanged To Death In Jharkhand By Suspected ‘Cattle-Protection Vigilantes’

5. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting the “growing attacks” on the minority community, including the latest Latehar killings

6. The BJP has Unleashed the Bhasmasura of Aggressive Nationalism. Good Luck Controlling It

7. Modi government’s AYUSH ministry says ‘we don’t recruit Muslims’

8. Rohith Vemula’s death sparks outrage within Indian diaspora

9. Human Rights Advocates: U.S.-Backed Saudi Offensive in Yemen a “Dark Mark” on Obama’s Presidency

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Human Rights Watch asks European Union to tell Modi to “stop harassing” civil society, minorities, Dalits (Mar 30, 2016, Counterview)

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a letter to the European Union (EU), written amidst EU-India summit on March 30, has said that even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks “greater foreign investment in the private sector for initiatives such as Make in India, showcasing Indian democracy and diversity abroad, it uses laws such as the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to restrict foreign funding for civil society groups.”

Addressed to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, HRW has said, “Civil society groups face increased harassment and government critics face intimidation and lawsuits. Free speech has come under threat as the authorities target those critical of the government, including students and academics.” Modi reached Brussels for the summit on March 30 for talks.

The letter said, “Activists that question government infrastructure and development projects or seek justice for victims of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat have come under particular pressure”, adding, giving the example of how in January 2015 the government barred Priya Pillai, a Greenpeace India activist, from boarding a flight to London where she was to speak to members of the British Parliament, alleging that her testimony would have portrayed the government in a negative light.”…



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Pathankot attack ‘stage-managed’ by India, claim Pak media reports; Opposition slams Modi (Apr 5, 2016, Indian Express)

Opposition parties on Tuesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Pakistan media reports that Pathankot attack was “stage-managed” by India and that its JIT was not provided with evidence of involvement of Pak-based terrorists, drawing a sharp response from the BJP.

Attacking the prime minister, the Congress tweeted, “Did Modiji invite the Pakistani JIT so that they could insult the memory of our brave martyrs?” while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the “invitation” amounted to giving a “clean chit” to ISI for the terror attack in January.

Kejriwal also demanded that Modi tender an “apology” for the “monumental” foreign policy failure. An ISI official was part of the five-member JIT that was in India last week.…



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SIO: Cops tried to slap false charges (Mar 30, 2016, Times of India)

The Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) has alleged that the police tried to implicate the activists of the organisation who took part in a protest held in the city on Saturday under false charges.

In a press conference here on Tuesday, SIO state president Nahas Mala said that the FIR submitted by the police against activists who took out a protest march to the head post office demanding the resignation of Hyderabad Central University vice-chancellor Appa Rao had the false charge that they chanted the slogan ‘Down Down Hindustan’. He said it was later corrected as ‘Down Down Hindutva’.

“It was an attempt to falsely implicate students under the charge of raising anti-national slogans, similiar to attempts made in JNU,” he added. Nahas said that the organisation has provided the printed copy of all the slogans which were raised at the meeting to the police which clearly mentioned the slogan as ‘Down Down Hindutva’.…



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Murder case: 5 RSS workers get life imprisonment (Mar 31, 2016, The Hindu)

Five workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were sentenced to life imprisonment by an additional district court here on Wednesday for hacking to death two CPI(M) workers over political differences in 2007.

Pronouncing the verdict in a packed court hall, Judge Suresh Kumar Paul imposed a fine of Rs.2 lakh on each of the convicts. The court acquitted two RSS activists giving them the benefit of doubt. The prosecution said it would go on appeal against the decision to acquit the fourth and sixth accused.

Delivering the judgment in the politically sensitive case, the judge expressed the hope that the verdict would help end the growing trend of political murders in the State. He also hoped that political parties would settle their differences through democratic negotiations.…



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47 Indian policemen get life sentences for 1991 Sikh killings (Apr 4, 2016, Deutsche Welle)

A court in northern India has sentenced 47 policemen to life in prison over the massacre of Sikh pilgrims 25 years ago. The killings were committed during an insurgency by Sikh militants in the region.

The court in Uttar Pradesh state announced Monday it had found the policemen guilty of murder, abduction and criminal conspiracy for their role in the killings on July 12, 1991. Prosecutor Satish Jaiswal told reporters that 57 police officers had originally been charged in the case, but 10 of them had died during the trial.

According to court documents, the policemen stopped a bus of Sikh pilgrims in the Pilibhit region and ordered 10 male passengers to get off. The men were then divided into groups and taken into the jungle where they were shot and killed “in cold blood,” the charge sheet said. Police later claimed the men were armed and dangerous Sikh militants.…



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Set up people’s tribunal for terror cases of Muslim youths: Prashant Bhushan (Apr 4, 2016, Muslim Mirror)

Supreme Court senior lawyer and Convener of Swaraj Abhiyan Prashant Bhushan suggested that a people’s tribunal or commission of eminent retired judges should be constituted for reviewing the cases of Muslim youth who have been languishing in jails under terror charges.

Speaking at a conference on “Indian Muslims in Democratic India” here on Sunday, the noted lawyer and activist Bhushan said innocent Muslims were put behind bars on trumped-up terror charges by the police and their trials would stretch at least 20 years. In such a situation, he said, there is need of constituting a people’s tribunal, headed by retired judges having impeccable secular and judicial credentials, for expeditious disposal of all terror cases.

Making scathing attack on Sangh Parivar, Bhushan said since the advent of present government, the Constitution and minorities are under constant attack. During his speech, he made a host of suggestions for combating the fascist assault on the Constitution and minority communities. He also asked Muslims to shun ‘orthodoxy’ and to make demand for ‘Uniform Civil Code’ as he felt that demand from the community’s may blunt the edge of Sangh Parivar.…



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Targeted because of attire: Muslim youth who refused to say Jai Mata Ki (Mar 31, 2016, Hindustan Times)

“They clearly targeted us because of our attire,” said Mohammad Dilkash, one of the three Muslim youths allegedly beaten up by a group of men for refusing to say “Jai Mata Ki”.

Dilkash, Mohammad Ajmal and Mohammad Naeem – students from a Madrasa (Muslim religious seminary) in Outer Delhi’s Begumpur – were allegedly beaten by five youths. The attack on Saturday left Dilkash with a broken arm.…

He said they were thrashed mercilessly. They managed to run out of the park and call their teacher Mohammad Azhar. “We called up our head who then the police. Police came after sometime and took us to Sanjay Gandhi hospital,” he said. Azhar and others from the mosque alleged the police registered an FIR three days later, claiming to be “busy”. “Even now they are trying to downplay the incident by not mentioning in the FIR the part about skull caps of students trampled,” he said.…



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Hindutva Groups Fail to Push Caste Oppression Out of California Textbooks (Apr 3, 2016, Sabrang India)

Hindutva groups fail to omit caste oppression – California Education Commission denies anti-Dalit revisions in favor of academic-backed positions on history of caste-based violence

“It is important to recognize the elements of creeping Hindu fundamentalist revisionism,” said Bhajan Singh, Director of the Stockton-based Sikh Information Centre. “We’ve experienced how these beliefs inspire people to view others as untouchable, deviant, and deserving of whatever suffering assigned to their birth caste, including death.”

California Education Commission denies anti-Dalit revisions in favor of academic-backed positions on history of caste-based violence.…



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V-P Hamid Ansari calls on SC to help clarify and strengthen secularism, composite culture (Apr 3, 2016, Indian Express)

Quoting from a report calling upon the Supreme Court to reflect how to protect minorities from majoritarianism, Vice-President Hamid Ansari Saturday urged the court to clarify contours within which secularism and composite culture should operate so as to remove ambiguities.

Addressing the 16th convocation of Jammu University here, Ansari also wondered whether a more complete separation of religion and politics might not better serve Indian democracy.

He said that a few years ago, in a volume published on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Supreme Court, lawyers Rajeev Dhavan & Fali S Nariman had observed that “as we transit into the next millennium, the Supreme Court has a lot to reflect upon, and not least on how to protect the minorities and their ilk from the onslaught of majoritarianism”.…



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After forced to migrate following rape, threat to life, 23 Gujarat Dalits seek internal displacement status (Apr 5, 2016, Counterview)

Twenty three Dalits, belonging to the Rohit community, are sitting in front of the Amreli district collector’s office since early January 2016, seeking a new status for themselves: They want to be declared as forced migrants, as they faced internal displacement following the rape of an 18-year-old Dalit girl and threat from dominant castes to take back the case. The incident took place in Vadali village, situated in Rajula taluka of Amreli district of Gujarat’s Saurashtra region.

In a letter sent to the Amreli district collector, senior Gujarat Dalit rights activist Kantilal Parmar of Navsarjan Trust has complained that the approach of the government authorities, including the police, regarding the forced migration suffered by Dalits has been highly indifferent, suggesting none of those who are in power seem to appreciate the threats these Dalits face at their original place of living, in Vadali following the rape incident.

Pointing out that things have been tense for the 100-odd Dalit families living in the higher caste Darbar Rajput-dominated village ever since the murder of a Dalit youth on January 14, 2011, Parmar said, the situation turned particularly pathetic for Laljibhai Bhimabhai Babariya’s family after his daughter was kidnapped late at night on December 25, 2015 and raped.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Gujarat Riots: Closing the door on 2002 – By Aditi Raja (Apr 3, 2016, Indian Express)

…Additional Sessions Judge N T Solanki acquitted the 107 surviving accused (11 died during the course of the trial) due to “lack of evidence” as none of them or even the 35 police witnesses testified against anyone.

While the riots happened in four Nadiad areas, two predominantly Hindu and two Muslim, on February 28, 2002, a single FIR was filed with all the accused (84 Hindus, 34 Muslims), booked on charges of “assisting each other” in abetting the riots. Several shops were burnt in the violence that day while two people were killed. In their testimonies, all the accused and 35 police witnesses said they “didn’t know” the people who indulged in arson that day. The killings are being tried separately, and locals attribute the deaths to police firing.

Majid Pathan, the lawyer for the Muslim accused, says, “It was a strange case as the accused belonging to both communities were clubbed in one FIR and 35 police witnesses belonging to both communities were named as testifying against the accused.”…



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A Hinduism that is the mirror opposite of Hindutva – By Anand Patwardhan (Mar 31, 2016, Scroll.in)

In 1984 after her Sikh bodyguards assassinated Indira Gandhi, a revenge pogrom took the lives of over 3,000 Sikhs on the streets of Delhi. Many killer mobs were led by Congress Party members, but some were led by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party as well. This is a fact forgotten by history but recorded in newspaper headlines of the day. It was this massacre that set me on to the road to fight communalism with my camera. For the next decade I recorded different examples of the rise of the religious right, as seen in diverse movements from the Khalistani upsurge in Punjab to the glorification of Sati in Rajasthan and the movement to replace the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya with a temple to Lord Ram.

The material I filmed was very complex and if I had tried to encompass it all into a single film, it would have been too long and confusing. Eventually three distinct films emerged from the footage shot between 1984 and 1994, all broadly describing the rise of religious fundamentalism and the resistance offered by secular forces in the country.…

Back in 1991 our première had been held in Lucknow, capital of UP. Pujari Laldas came for the screening and asked for several cassettes of the film. When I asked about his own safety, he laughed and said he was happy that now his views would circulate more widely. As he put it, if he had been afraid, he would not have spoken out in the first place. A year later, a tiny item on the inside pages of The Times of India noted, “Controversial priest found murdered.” Pujari Laldas had been killed with a country-made revolver. The newspaper article never told us that the real “controversy” was the fact that this brave priest believed in a Hinduism that is the mirror opposite of Hindutva.



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Not chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is not disrespecting India – By Karan Thapar (Apr 3, 2016, Hindustan Times)

…The BJP’s National Executive has passed a resolution stating: “Our Constitution describes India as Bharat also; refusal to chant victory to Bharat tantamounts to disrespect to our Constitution itself.” I’m sorry, but that’s simply not true.

First, the Constitution speaks of Bharat and not Bharat mata. Second, it does not require Indian citizens to chant any slogan including BMKJ. Third and most importantly, the Supreme Court ruled in the 1986 Jehovah’s Witnesses case that refusal to sing the national anthem – provided you stand in respect – is not disrespect to the Constitution or the anthem. And Jana Gana Mana is more sacrosanct than BMKJ.

What the BJP has forgotten is that India’s Constitution not only grants each citizen freedom of speech but also the freedom to be silent. So whilst I may be happy to chant BMKJ if some Muslims don’t wish to they have the right to refuse. Pratap Bhanu Mehta says it would be “objectionable” to coerce them. More importantly, that would be disrespect to our Constitution.…



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You are anti-national, should be killed: Cop to Hyd varsity student – By Sreerag Poickadath (Apr 5, 2016, Hindustan Times)

As a son of a retired police officer, I remember the day of our arrest and police brutality as a serious human rights violation. I was one among the 25 arrested and jailed students. On that day, police were dragging and beating peacefully protesting students without any provocation. They threatened girl students with rape. I was taken to the police van when I questioned why they were dragging our professor Dr KY Ratnam.

I was made to sit in the first row of the seat and one policeman came to me slapped on my face saying “Oh , are you a Muslim?”, by seeing my beard without a moustache. I was shocked for a moment because it all happened in a minute. I did not respond to his question; he started hitting my neck and back with fists and elbow.

They started the van after 5 minutes and I was shifted to the second row of two seats. When the van reached Gobs (a shopping complex inside University of Hyderabad) the van suddenly stopped. One policeman standing near the door caught a student taking a video of the police van; he was also dragged and pushed into the police van, his phone was snatched and he was slapped mercilessly.…



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Assam a Muslim populous state with under-representation of Muslims – By Wahidul Islam (Mar 30, 2016, TwoCircles.net)

Amidst the paranoia and degrading level of politics, Muslims have always been most vulnerable and politically exploited section of the society. Assam is no difference from other parts of India which has largest proportion of Muslim population after Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadeep. However, most of the Muslims are economically and educationally lagging behind the majority with under-representation in public and private sector. Political representation of Muslims is also very negligible.

Although Muslims of Assam have thousand years of history dating back to 13th century when local tribes chieftain Ali Mes converted to Islam at the invitation of Mohammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1205. Subsequently, Mughal invasion and later British rule had brought many Muslims to Assam as labourers and traders. During the British rule, Muslims from the then East Bengal were brought to work in Assam’s tea gardens and farmland. With time most of these migrated populations assimilated with the local Assamese population and adopted indigenous cultures.

However, post independence era with large influx of Hindu minorities from then East Pakistan in 70s had resulted into Assam agitation against immigration which later turned into mostly Muslim bashing by collectively singling out the community as illegal Bangladeshis. Under the leadership of All Assam Students Union (AASU) leaders like Samujjal Bhattacharya and Sarbananda Sonowal, students’ wing then started to put all its efforts to brand every Muslim as foreigners.…



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Is Chhattisgarh A ‘Police State’ Of Democratic India? – By Pushkar Raj ( ()

A ‘police state’ is said to be one where citizens experience living, freedom of movement and expression of opinion subject to police monitoring and control. The mineral rich state of Chhattisgarh in India aptly qualifies for this notorious title as the events of the recent past demonstrate.

After its creation in 2000, Chhattisgarh enacted its own police Act in 2007 on the direction of the Supreme Court of India. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an organization advocating for police reform in the country, considered the new law worse than the previously prevailing 1861 police Act that it replaced due to the poor supervision and accountability provisions under the new law.

Justifying its character, while the police arrested 60,279 persons in 2007 (before the new police Act came into operation), it initiated police action against 7, 39,435 people in 2014 – a twelve times jump. Out of these 1, 44,017 people were served with the bail-able warrant and 81,329 were sent to jail under non-bail able warrant. 4, 88,366 people were made to come to the police station for questioning (National Crime Research Bureau Report, 2008, 2014).…



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