IAMC Weekly News Roundup - April 7th, 2014 - IAMC
no-image IAMC

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 7th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Police discover bomb making factory in Kolhapur, four Hindutva terrorists held (Apr 8, 2014, Coastal Digest)

Kolhapur police in Maharashtra have discovered a bomb making factory in the Lakshmi Hill near the MIDC area of the Kagal town. Kolhapur police also arrested four suspected Hindutva terrorists, who are in their 20s. They have been identified as Ajinkya Manohar Bhopade(22) and Aniket Bhivaji Mali(22) from Chokak village in Hatkananagale, Nilesh Babanrao Patil (20) from Male Mudshingi, in Hatkanangale and Anil Popat Kharase (26) from Kabnur-Ichalkaranji in Hatkanangale. All four were remanded to police custody till April 14 by a Kagal court on Sunday evening.

Refuting any 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”. The police confiscated four live bombs and equipment worth Rs 25,69,575. The bombs confiscated were ones that could be detonated with a remote control, Sharma said. The police are also investigating whether the bomb-making attempt had any connections with BJP candidate Narendra Modi’s proposed rally in Sangli on April 9. “On primary investigation, nothing suspicious has been found about the youths and their connections. The police got the tip of about the bomb-making some days back. Undercover policemen made an offer of Rs 8 lakh to the bomb-makers, who agreed to sell the bombs,” Sharma said.

A police team led by inspector Chandrakant Shinde of Kagal police station was first tipped off with information on the quartet making bombs and trying to sell them. Local informants told the police that two youths were keen to sell an explosive and that they had already bought material required for making a bomb. “After confirming the tip, we decided to lay a trap for the gang. The bomb makers were called for a meeting on the Kolhapur-Banglore national highway-4, just outside Kagal town. We detained all four involved and confiscated material,” Shinde said.

The confiscated material include 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. The police did not reveal who sourced the gelatin sticks and from where. The bombs were diffused at an open space in Shahunagar area of Kagal tehsil.

“Patil and Kharase have been arrested for supplying material for bomb-making, while Bhopade and Mali have been arrested for making the bombs. Bhopade has a diploma in electronics; Mali works as a wireman. Their idea was to make bombs using their knowhow and parts available at any hardware shop. They actually made sophisticated devices, using the machinery of the electronic locking system of a luxury car for detonation,” Sharma said. “I have personally informed the Intelligence Bureau and Anti-Terrorism Squad about the development, bomb making style and use of gelatin sticks. The police have also arrested those who sold the sticks to these boys. Gelatin sticks are widely used in Kolhapur district for digging wells and in the mining sector. But these cannot be sold loosely,” Sharma said.



[Back to Top]

HC denies bail to Sadhvi Pragya in Malegaon blast case (Apr 4, 2014, The Hindu)

The Bombay High Court on Friday rejected the bail plea of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, one of the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. While passing the order, the division bench of Justice PV Hardas and AS Gadkari said: “We are of the considered opinion that a strong prima facie case exists against the accused on the basis of the material available on record and is sufficient to deny the bail.” Sadhvi Pragya Thakur had appealed in the High Court against an order passed by the MCOCA court in 2012 denying her bail. The bail was sought on several grounds including failing health and the need for medical assistance. The court observed that she was getting medical treatment from government hospitals.

“Taking into consideration, the material available on record, it cannot be said that the appellant is not guilty of the offence for which she is charged. The material clearly indicates that the appellant is a conspirator and had actively helped the co-accused by providing a motorcycle for explosion of a bomb at Malegaon,” Justice P V Hardas said. “We are of the considered opinion that a strong prima facie case against the appellant exists, on the basis of material available on record and the same is sufficient to deny bail to her,” the bench said.

The judges said they did not find the impugned order passed by the Special MCOCA Court judge on September 25, 2012, to suffer from any legal infirmity. Senior Counsel U A Lalit argued that the appellant suffers from serious ailments and produced before the court a medical report dated February 4, 2014, issued by the Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Bhopal. National Investigating Agency Counsel Rohini Salian submitted that government hospitals were well equipped to provide all sorts of medical help to the appellant and that even at this juncture, the Sadhvi is being provided with the best medical facilities available in government hospitals.

“Therefore we see no reason to accede to the request of the learned senior counsel, that on the ground of ill health or for want of medical treatment, the appellant needs to be released on bail,” the judges said. “In our opinion, the appellant’s role in the crime is of a serious nature and the punishment as contemplated under Section 3(1)(i) of the MCOCA is of death or life imprisonment. Therefore the contention of her counsel that she has already undergone a substantive part of the sentence is not correct”, the bench said.

The Sadhvi is accused of hatching the conspiracy with others, which led to the September 29, 2008, blast at Malegaon in Nashik district in which six people died, after which she was arrested on October 23, 2008. The 38-year-old Sadhvi has been charged with various provisions under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the MCOCA. At present, she is lodged in a Bhopal jail. The prosecution has alleged that she is one of the principal conspirators who had taken an active part in the bomb blast by providing her motorcycle to the other accused, to plant explosives. …



[Back to Top]

Babri demolition planned; Advani, P V Narasimha Rao knew of plot: Cobrapost sting (Apr 4, 2014, Times of India)

An elaborate sting operation, conducted on 23 key people of the Ram Janambhoomi movement, claims that the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, was elaborately planned by the various wings of the Sangh parivar and executed with precision by trained volunteers. It wasn’t, as it is claimed, a case of mob frenzy going out of control, leading to the fall of the disputed 16th century structure.

The investigation, carried out by Cobrapost, claims that by piecing together the versions given by the top Ram Janambhhomi players, among them Sakshi Maharaj, Acharya Dharmendra, Uma Bharti, Mahant Vedanti and Vinay Katiyar, it is apparent that top BJP leaders like L K Advani and the then UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, as well the former Congress PM, P V Narasimha Rao, were aware of the planned demolition of Babri Masjid. TOI has no independent confirmation of these claims, or whether the purported confessions are accurate or not.

Posing as a would-be-author researching his book on the Ayodhya movement, Cobrapost associate editor K Ashish travelled to Ayodhya, Faizabad, Tanda, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Mathura, Moradabad in UP, Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Gwalior interviewing 23 of those who participated in the operation. He clandestinely recorded conversations with them. If what they claim is true, the Ram Janambhoomi leaders and activists toiled secretly for months on a plan codenamed ‘Operation Janmabhoomi’ and executed it with military precision. Volunteers were trained, logistics painstakingly put in place and the assault on the disputed shrine launched using large surging crowds with volunteers skilled in demolishing structures embedded in it.

Not only do those interviewed spell out details of the planning, they also allegedly reveal how enthusiastic young participants were deliberately used as cannon fodder by provoking a police firing on kar sevaks in 1990 because of the belief of some leaders that the movement would not gather steam unless ‘some Hindus die’. Many of those interviewed by the make-believe author are accused in CBI cases pertaining to the demolition. Yet, they seemed to have no qualms in “confessing” (or boasting) about their role in the episode that left a deep communal schism in India.

Some of those interviewed were, B L Sharma Prem, Dharmendra Singh Gurjar, Jai Bhagwan Goel, Pawan Pandey, Santosh Dubey, Ramji Gupta, Ramesh Pratap Singh, Sadhavi Ritambhara, Kalyan Singh, Prakash Sharma, Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Mahant Avaidyanath, Moreshwar Save, Lallu Singh, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and Swami Nritya Gopal Das. Their versions make it appear that the plot to demolish the mosque was hatched amid utmost secrecy. Those recruited for training weren’t told their mission till a month ahead of Babri’s fall. At Sarkhej, Gujarat, Bajrang Dal conducted a month-long training in June 1992 for 38 of its cadre from different regions. The trainers were retired high-ranking military officers, while Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Acharya Dharmendra, Praveen Togadia, Jaibhan Paweya and Ashok Singhal held indoctrination sessions.…



[Back to Top]

An EVM that ‘votes’ only for BJP stuns poll staff in Assam (Apr 3, 2014, Times of India)

An electronic voting machine raised many eyebrows across the state during a mandatory mock poll in Jorhat on Tuesday. Every time a button was pressed, the vote went in favour of BJP. The Jorhat parliamentary constituency returning officer and deputy commissioner Vishal Vasant Solanki told TOI that all EVMs in his custody are being put through a second level of test by engineers of the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), one of the two companies from Hyderabad, which manufactures EVMs.

This Jorhat Lok Sabha seat has Congress stalwart and former Union minister Bijoy Krishna Handique locking horns with BJP youth and tea tribal leader Kamakhya Tasa. This will be Handique’s record seventh successive attempt for the Lok Sabha election. Jorhat goes to the polls on April 7. State chief electoral officer Vijyandra on Wednesday said, “An EVM in Jorhat was found malfunctioning yesterday. It is a defective machine and it was noticed when EVMs were readied in front of representatives of all political parties. We will not send the faulty unit to any polling station.”

An EVM consists of two units, a control unit and a balloting unit. Both unites are connected with cable. The balloting unit is a small box-like device, on top of which each candidate and his or her election symbol appears. The voter selects his candidate by pressing the blue button. The returning officer said, “These EVMs were here for long. Usually, EVMs are kept in the custody of the deputy commissioner and during elections they are taken to strong rooms.”

Congress lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of India on Wednesday and demanded thorough inspection of all EVMs in just not Jorhat, but the entire state. Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Ranjan Bora, who lodged the complaint with EC, said, “The mock poll was done at random and the EVM for Teok assembly constituency took everyone by surprise. When the hand symbol button was pressed for Congress, the vote was found to be recorded in favour of BJP.”

He said the incident has fuelled suspicion in their minds that EVMs may have been tampered with to favour a particular political party. Interestingly, after Congress got an overwhelming mandate in the 2011 assembly polls, Asom Gana Parishad had lodged a complaint against Congress accusing it of tinkering with EVMs. The Congress leadership had rejected this charge and pointed out that EVM results could not be manipulated. “EVM tampering could be possible in the Jorhat case,” a senior Congress leader said.



[Back to Top]

2 FIRs against Shah for ‘revenge’ speech, Modi close aide booked in Bijnore, Muzaffarnagar districts (Apr 6, 2014, The Tribune)

Narendra Modi’s close aide Amit Shah is in trouble for his “revenge” speech with two FIRs being lodged against him today and the outburst coming under the scrutiny of the Election Commission. The BJP has condemned the filing of FIRs in Bijnore and Muzaffarnagar districts, saying these were “not bonafide” and that it was a “calculated design” to communalise and polarise the election scenario in Uttar Pradesh. “A case has been lodged under various sections of the IPC and the RPA by the District Magistrate regarding some objectionable part in Shah’s speech,” said Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha in Lucknow.

Shah was booked under Section 153 of the IPC (inciting people) and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act (promoting enmity between different classes), he said. The second FIR was lodged against Shah at Shamli in Muzaffarnagar district for the same offence. He had been booked under Section 125 of the RPA, District Magistrate NP Singh said.

The case was registered at the Adarsh Mandi police station after officials went through the video of his speech made at Shamli. After the examination of the video, Shah’s statement was found to be objectionable and in violation of the model code of conduct, Singh said. The FIRs followed a complaint by the Congress yesterday accusing the BJP’s UP in charge of “creating animosity between communities”.

The poll authorities in UP sent the CD of the remarks made by Shah in Muzaffarnagar, which witnessed communal violence last year, along with the report of District Election Officer to the Election Commission in Lucknow. Sources said the Chief Electoral Officer of UP took cognisance of the Shah’s statement yesterday and sought the CD along with a detailed report from the district authorities.

Shah is not a candidate for the Lok Sabha elections. They said the statement had been sent to the Election Commission in Delhi. The EC was likely to take a call at its meeting tomorrow.



[Back to Top]

Delhi University official tarred over Modi remark (Apr 8, 2014, Times of India)

A group of students led by DUSU’s joint secretary, Raju Rawat, smeared black shoe polish and also allegedly attacked the South Campus director, Umesh Rai, on North Campus on Monday afternoon. While DU administration said the attack was planned, the Delhi University Students’ Union executive said the incident took place after Rai “insulted” BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.

According to Rawat, students went to meet Rai to discuss some issues but he refused to see them. “We went to meet the director at the department of zoology on Monday. When we asked him about rolling back the four-year undergraduate programme, he refused and said it was impossible as the programme is already underway,” Rawat said.

When Rawat told Rai that the Modi government would come to power in a few months and definitely take a stand on FYUP, Rawat allegedly retorted, ” abb kya ek chai bechne wala DU ka syllabus banayega” (will a tea seller now prepare DU’s syllabus?). Rawat said students became agitated after hearing this remark and smeared shoe police on Rai’s face. The incident comes just four days after BJP said it would scrap FYUP if it comes to power.

After repeated attempts to contact Rai, his phone was answered by Delhi University registrar Alka Sharma. When asked about the incident, Sharma said, “Seven or eight people entered the premises with a a common intention. This is not the first time he (Rai) has been attacked. The incident has been repeated as police failed to invoke the right law”. On being asked whether Rai made the remark against the Gujarat chief minister, she added, “What role does Modi have to play in the incident? Why is Raju Rawat absconding? Let him surrender”.

Rawat has denied assaulting the South Campus director and said he only smeared shoe polish on him. There was increased police presence in the area following the incident and Delhi Police officials said an FIR has been registered against Raju Rawat under sections of obstructing a public servant from discharging his duties. “We have registered an FIR and are probing the incident,” said Sindhu Pillai, DCP (north).



[Back to Top]

The Economist criticises Modi, says he’s a man who thrives on division (Apr 4, 2014, IBN)

There is strong criticism coming in for Bharatiya Janata Party Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. English weekly The Economist has refused to back Modi for the PM’s post and called him a man associated with ‘sectarian hatred’.The weekly has accused Modi of giving anti-Muslim speeches early in his career and called him a man who has thrived on division. The paper also hit out at Modi for not apologising for the 2002 riots.

The article has even questioned the clean chit given to Modi by the Supreme Court saying that the reason as to why the inquiries were inconclusive was because a lot of the evidence was lost or willfully destroyed. The article did praise Modi’s economic track record in Gujarat and made a favourable comparison when it comes to corruption in the Congress coalition.

The article has been equally scathing about Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said that while it does not find the prospect of a government led by Congress under Rahul an inspiring one, it still recommends it as the less disturbing option.



[Back to Top]

Cong moves EC accusing Modi of provoking communal sentiments (Apr 4, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Accusing Narendra Modi of provoking communal sentiments by referring to Lord Krishna and cows during a rally in Bihar, Congress on Friday complained to the Election Commission, saying he had violated the Model Code of Conduct and an FIR be registered against him.

“The cow is sacred and pious animal and has a special place in Hindu mythology. The statement made by Modi referring to cow, Lord Krishna, the grant of subsidy and slaughter houses and the tone and tenor of his public address is clearly with a purpose to arouse communal feeling for seeking votes.

“The objective is to provoke religious sentiment of the people for election purposes, during operation of the model code, which is also likely to aggravate the existing differences between two communities,” Congress legal department secretary KC Mittal said in his complaint to the Commission. He said Modi had made these remarks in an election rally on April 2 in Nawada in Bihar.

In the complaint, the Congress leader said the statement made during operation of the model code is “not only, objectionable and deplorable but also prohibited by the Model Code of Conduct. A bare perusal of the video will speak volumes for itself.

“It is, therefore, requested that immediate action may be taken against Modi, chief minister, Gujarat and BJP for violating Model Code of Conduct,” the complaint said, adding registration of an FIR and derecognition of BJP be ordered.



[Back to Top]

US Congressional hearing highlights plight of minorities in India (Apr 7, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), a broad alliance dedicated to justice and accountability for the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, today welcomed the congressional hearing on the subject of minorities and religious freedom in India. The hearing was organized by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on April 4, 2014. The congressional panel was presided by Rep. Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, an ardent champion of human rights and religious freedom. Rep. Keith Ellison – co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Rep. Trent Franks – co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Congressional Caucus, were also part of the panel for the hearing. The commission sought to examine the implications of the politicization of religious identities and increase in violence against religious minorities in India in the context of US-India relationship.

Several witnesses were invited to appear and present their observations and information on the subject matter. Among those that testified include Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett – Vice Chair of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Dr. John Dayal – Secretary General of the All-India Christian Council and a prominent member of India’s National Integration Council, Robin Phillips – Executive Director with The Advocates for Human Rights and John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch. Alex Koshy, a spokesperson for the coalition, welcomed the hearing and its potential for positive impact in the lives of religious minorities in India. “In light of H. Res. 417, the request to incorporate human rights into the strategic dialogue framework provides a way to address the increasing difficulties bilaterally,” he said. “Often, issues of religious freedom are given a short shrift in the bilateral talks or eliminated altogether. Including it will allow for healthy dialogue instead of criticisms on the issue.”, he added.

In a written deposition, Dr. Dayal highlighted the plight of religious minorities, especially Christians and Muslims, due to the growing intolerance and polarization, repeated instances of mass violence and impunity for the perpetrators, a sluggish and compromised judiciary, and enactment of draconian laws whose implementation is repressive towards religious minorities. In his oral testimony, Dr. Dayal observed that multiple states have enacted laws that curtail religious freedom, while the votaries of the supremacist Hindutva ideology have openly called for the enactment of a national law with similar scope. He urged the United States and the international community to play a role in safeguarding India’s pluralism, and called on the US government to incorporate human rights and religious freedom in the US-India Strategic Dialogue framework.

Robin Phillips’s written submission brought out the entire gamut of issues faced by religious minorities, including the impunity and even support enjoyed by those accused of fomenting violence and enmity. She cited the analysis of Pew Research Center in which India was among the worst performers in terms of government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion. Her testimony also underscored the apathy, indifference and lack of will of the local governments and judiciary in providing timely relief and remedy to the victims. John Sifton cited instances underscoring the ineffective remedial conditions for victims of communal riots and targeted attacks.

Dr. Shaik Ubaid, one of the co-founders of the coalition remarked, “Despite being a functioning democracy since its independence more than 60 years ago, Indian law enforcement and judiciary are lacking in both the will and capacity to tackle the menace of human rights violations by Hindutva organizations. We thank Congressmen Pitts, Ellison, Wolf, Franks and McGovern for spearheading this hearing and highlighting the increasing number of problems faced by religious minorities in India in their free exercise of constitutional rights.” He also criticised Hindu American Foundation (HAF) saying, “They pretend to be an interfaith and human rights organization but came out opposing the hearing on religious freedom and justifying anti-conversion laws. Such duplicity is the hallmark of the Hindutva ideology.” …



[Back to Top]

Mangalore: Congress woman councillor alleges molestation by Hindutva group (Apr 3, 2014, IBN)

A Congress councillor in Mangalore has alleged that she was molested by a group of men from the right-wing group Hindu Jagarana Vedike while she was campaigning for her party on Sunday. The councillor claims that the incident happened while she was holding a door-to-door campaign in Kodigere area.

According to her, she was stopped by a group of men in a car who abused her verbally. The councillor alleged that the men part of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, warned her to stop campaigning. She also alleged that she was later surrounded by the men and a 17-year-old boy assaulted her in full public view.

The leaders of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike have, however, denied the charges calling the allegations baseless. They said members of their organisation were not involved in the incident but it was the local residents who questioned the councillor. The right- wing group has called it an election propoganda. Mangalore police said a case has been registered in this matter. …



[Back to Top]

Opinions and Editorials

Operation Janmabhoomi: An Investigation into the Conspiracy behind the Demolition of the Babri Masjid – Cobrapost Expose (Apr 4, 2014, Cobrapost)

In a long undercover investigation, Cobrapost has unearthed the conspiracy behind the fall of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, exposing the actors who pulled the strings from behind the scene, weaving about a complex cobweb of intrigue and deceit that even the CBI could not unravel after years of investigation. Working at different levels, these actors kept the whole plan a highly guarded secret with its details never coming out. The plan was given a codename, ‘Operation Janmabhoomi’, which Cobrapost found apt to use for its undercover operation, as well, and was executed with precision of a military operation, from conducting training to putting all logistics in place and finally launching the assault, using multitudes of crowds as cover.

Posing as an author-to-be researching for his book on the Ayodhya movement, Cobrapost Associate Editor K. Ashish interviewed 23 of these actors, namely, B.L. Sharma Prem, Dharmendra Singh Gurjar, Jai Bhagwan Goyal, Pawan Pandey, Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya, Santosh Dubey, Swami Sachidanand Sakshi Maharaj, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Ramji Gupta, Ramesh Pratap Singh, Sadhavi Ritambhara, Sadhavi Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Kalyan Singh, Prakash Sharma, Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Mahant Avaidyanath, Acharya Dharmendra, Moreshwar Save, Lallu Singh, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and Swami Nritya Gopal Das. Of these, while the Liberhan Commission has indicted 15, the CBI has named 19 accused in its chargesheet, strangely enough leaving out B. L. Sharma, Mahant Avaidyanath, Nritya Gopal Das and Ram Vilas Vedanti. In all, 40 are facing trial in a CBI court, of which 32 have been made accused in FIR No. 92/197 as executors, while the remaining eight have been made accused in FIR No. 92/198 as conspirators.

The investigation took Associate Editor Ashish to Ayodhya, Faizabad, Tanda, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Mathura and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh; Jaipur in Rajasthan, Aurangabad and Mumbai in Maharashtra and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. Role of the Bajrang Dal: As the Cobrapost investigation reveals, the conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid was hatched at the top level and those who were recruited for training did not know it till the countdown for mosque’s fall began a month before in November. In June 1992, Bajrang Dal, for instance, conducted a month-long military style training for 38 of its cadre chosen from various regions in Sarkhej, Gujarat. The training was given by retired high-ranking military officers. Ideological teachings were imparted to the cadres by the likes of Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Acharya Dharmendra, Dr. Praveen Togadia, Jaibhan Pawaiya and Ashok Singhal.

The drills conducted at the Neela Teela in Ayodhya by Bajrang Dal cadres took the training they had received in Gujarat a step further. But how and when such skills – like climbing taller structures with the help of grappling hooks and ropes – would be put to use was not revealed till the day when the top VHP office bearers asked them to form Laxman Sena with the specific purpose of dismantling the disputed structure in a top secret meeting that was held in the basement of Ram Katha Manch. According to Ramesh Pratap Singh: “Uss baithak mein hum paanch jo humari prashikshit logon mein se paanch the paanch ke baad chatha Ramji Gupta aur Durg Singh Chauhan. Humare adhikari ne humse milne ke baad unka samark wahi unka adesh tha baithak lenge Durg Singh Chauhan aur karravai jo bhi aapko karna ho aap kya karoge rachna kya karoge theek hai wo parde se huth gaye (There were five persons from among those who had received training in this meeting. The sixth person was Ramji Gupta and then there was Durg Singh Chauhan. After meeting with us this office bearer told us Durg Singh Chauhan would be our contact point and he would coordinate all the meetings. Decide whatever you want, how you will form it. After that this office bearer disappeared from the scene).” This VHP office bearer was none other than Champat Rai Bansal.

Bajrang Dal’s War Cry ‘Jai Sheshavatar’: Apart from Ramesh Pratap Singh, this secret meeting was attended by Dharmendra Singh Gurjar from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, Hariya Lal Parikh from Rajasthan, Arun Khanna from Punjab, K. Nagarajan from Tamil Nadu and Arun Kumar Tiger from Jharkhand. Ramji Gupta was put in charge of this band of 1,200 RSS workers secreted from various regions. Gupta supplied them with all the logistics such as chisels, heavy-duty hammers, pickaxes, spades, grappling hooks and sturdy ropes in good numbers. The army was divided into smaller groups of 10 each with a leader and each group had its job cut out. All these groups had the instructions to merge with the crowds when they would surge toward the Babri Masjid for karseva and finish the tasks assigned to them. They would not listen to any leader, however senior and respected he might be, till the task was accomplished. ‘Jai Sheshavatar’ was the signal for the groups to begin work on their brief, which according to Ramji Gupta, had to be raised thrice. …



[Back to Top]

A silent coup against Indian constitution – By By Vidya Bhushan Rawat (Apr 7, 2014, Countercurrents)

India is passing through one of the most crucial phases of its political life. As the exercise of the ‘democracy’ begins the future of the country would also be locked and will be opened on May 16th only. It is important to understand the dangers of what has happened so far. The results will be out in a month but it is for the first time in our history that ‘someone’ has already ‘declared’ himself as the prime minister of the country. Things are not simple. Today, the ‘man’ is already declared as the ‘most powerful’ person of the country and every other questioning him has been made as person against ‘development’ and pseudo secular.

It is not easy for a person who is main accused for instigating violence against Muslims in Gujarat and kept conspicuously silent when people were crying for help such as fellow politician Ehsaan Jafari who was burnt to death by the barbaric anarchists mob which was allowed to do things at their whims by the state administration and who was admonished by his own prime minister, to be ‘anointed’ as a ‘national icon’. Witness the systematic campaign, rumors, fudging of data and then controlling the entire communication through a fictitious army of ‘devotees’ on social media and enforce ‘curfew’ in the news rooms which is worse than what Doordarshan and Aakashwani did in 1975. Today the role being played by embedded media is perhaps much disturbing and scornful to opponents and dissenting view point. If one has to see the replica of dirty tricks that Sanjay Gandhi played during emergency, these elections and the campaign management by the likes of Amit Shah are the best example.

We know media is Modified and at the moment not ready to listen to anything which can suggest that India had lot of achievements during the past 60 years. It seems that India got freedom by the freedom fighters owning their allegiance to Hindutva and after that everything that the Gandhi family did was simply to destroy India. In critiquing Sonia, Rahul and Indira, they have also made mockery of Nehru without any respect to either history or his contribution which political opponents are supposed to do even if they disagree. That started last year on October 31st in Ahemdabad when chief minister of state make political speech to denigrate the first prime minister of India just to score a political point about Sardar Patel. …

When India was moving ahead and polity was becoming more decentralized, the threat has emerged in the form of a ‘cult’ revolving around a person. The important part of parliamentary system is that it provides opportunity to all and that is why people like Mayawati, Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Phoolan Devi and many others could make it to Parliament and became leaders of their state. If we are unable to preserve our democratic system, these thugs will only force us leaders from the above to lead the nation. It is that danger lurking over our head which we have to demolish in these elections. It is time we ask for a change in our political system and make it more proportionate to provide opportunity and space to all the marginalized sections of society. Our political system also needs changes and that too effectively such as Germany did in the aftermath of Hitler who also came through ‘popular mandate’. When the system convert to proportionate arrangements there is little chance of a fascist takeover of the state.

We hope that the people of India will not allow the constitution to be defeated in these elections. Hope they will not allow those who do not even repent for the scores of deaths because of their farcical movements for a temple and yet want to build a Ram Temple with ‘unanimity’ and constitutional mean. Time has come to call a rebuff to such forces who wish to legitimize the demolition of Babari Mosque? Strange but true that such forces are still operating and dreaming to be our leader is shocking beyond word. They will continue to use those symbolism that hurt and humiliate Muslims like calling for unanimity in building up a Ram Temple, Uniform Civil Code, abrogation of article 370, ‘cow protection’ and many such things. Let us hope people will realize how important these elections are to save our democracy and its secular socialist constitution.



[Back to Top]

I can’t suppress a shiver at the thought of Narendra Modi taking office – By Peter Popham (Apr 4, 2014, The Independent)

The world’s biggest democratic exercise gets under way on Monday. If the pundits are right, Narendra Modi, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will win the Indian general election by a country mile. For the outside world, including both the European Union and the US, Modi is the man who has turbocharged the economy of Gujarat, the state he has ruled for 12 years, and who promises to do the same for the flagging Indian economy as a whole. He has also said he will act against corruption.

But nobody who, like me, was in Modi’s state 12 years ago and witnessed the carnage that took the lives of hundreds of Muslims in bloody, brutal and tightly organised pogroms can suppress a shiver of horror at the thought that this man may now be about to join the world’s top table. Those scenes were reminiscent of the tit-for-tat massacres of Hindus and Muslims during Partition, and the mass killings of Sikhs in Delhi following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. That this should happen in 2002 in a relatively prosperous and educated part of the country was profoundly shocking. No one ever succeeded in proving that Modi had ordered or encouraged the massacres. But many reporters noted the failure of police to protect Muslim communities against the mobs (pictured above).

These killings were as disturbing as Germany’s Kristallnacht, and for the same reason. Hostility to Muslims is in the bloodstream of the Sangh Parivar, the family of Hindu nationalist organisations to which Modi and the BJP belong. Inspired by European fascism and Nazism, the movement’s founding ideologist, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, prescribed radically different treatment for Hindus – children of the subcontinent’s aboriginal religion, according to the theory – and those who subscribed to other religions.…

But on the most toxic question for a Hindu nationalist, the treatment of minorities under BJP rule, Modi has kept silent. He has never issued an apology for the massacre that took place in Gujarat on his watch, nor risen to journalists’ demands to go into detail about what happened. Instead he sticks to those grievances guaranteed to excite Indians of all ethnicities and religions and social classes: the faltering the economy, corruption the need to act tough with China and Pakistan. His calling card is his reputation for firm economic management in Gujarat – despite the persistence there of a large underclass. Whatever happened in the shadows he leaves well alone.

Modi’s success in escaping from his past reminds me of the similar achievement of Italy’s former deputy prime minister, Gianfranco Fini. The leader of the Movimento Sociale Italiano, the direct heir of Mussolini’s fascists, and in his youth quite as committed a political extremist as Modi, he spent his first decade as a sort of parliamentary leper: no mainstream politicians would have anything to do with him. But then he gave his party a neutral new name, the National Alliance, condemned anti-Semitism, visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and in 1994 entered Silvio Berlusconi’s first coalition government. A few years later his stock had improved so dramatically that this ‘post-fascist’ was regarded as a pillar of respectability compared with his boss. …



[Back to Top]

Face of the Danger – Editorial (Apr 5, 2014, Mainstream)

More than a month ago it was written in these columns in the March 1, 2014 issue of this journal on the occasion of the twelfth anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. For all secular democrats… the main objective of the coming elections should be to resist Modi from leading the BJP to victory at the hustings because that would herald the end of the idea of India—a pluralist, multi-religious, multi-ethnic country that can never become a Hindu-Pakistan. But the major pillars of secularism among the present-day public figures are least interested in forging a common front to block NaMo’s advance. The situation in that respect has definitely worsened as we approach April 7, the date on which the poll process for constituting the 16th Lok Sabha is to be officially set in motion.

The poll scene presents a fierce struggle on the part of the Narendra Modi-led BJP, plush with corporate money power and fully backed by the corporate-driven media, to wrest powr from the Congress-led UPA. There is no gainsaying that in large parts of metropolitan India, and north of the Vindhyas in particular, the middle classes have been swayed by Modi’s mesmerising rhetoric though analysts have almost uniformly admitted that the rhetoric was seldom matched by substance. There is also no gainsaying that a massive anti-incumbency wave is sweeping the country and Modi is trying to capitalise on it to the best of his ability. Needless to underline, the anti-incumbency wave has been generated by the grave economic crisis that has hit the average Indian family with considerable force and the series of mega-scale scams which have tarnished the ruling UPA’s image beyond repair.

Yet for all his exhortations, jibes at opponents, protestations and promises to the electorate, Modi and his colleagues do not possess any magic wand to either overcome the economic crisis or gift the nation a corruption-free polity. And they will follow the same neo-liberal path of development which has brought the UPA Government to such a pass; the six years of NDA rule (1998-2004) bear testimony to this fact. What, then, is Modi harping on in his election campaign as he criss-crosses the country in a bid to secure the popular mandate to rule for the next five years? Using bluff and bluster he carefully conceals the Sangh Parivar’s divisiveHindutva agenda (witnessed both in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition at Ayodhya and the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat) to project the much-advertised Gujarat model of development.

Effectively exposing the hollowness of Modi’s claims on this score, leading US philosopher and academic Martha Nussbaum explains in an interview to The Time of India: …Modi’s citing the development success of Gujarat—and I’d question that right away. By human development indicators, Gujarat is not a success. It has growth but it also has tremendous inequality, deficient education and marginalisation of the poor. No doubt the Congress has been taken unawares by the ferocity of Modi’s attack. PM Manmohan Singh’s mouni-baba approach has added to the ruling dispensation’s woes. Rahul Gandhi has lately been engaged in spirited counter-attacks. But perhaps he launched the counter-offensive rather late in the day. …

The benefactors of the UPA among the corporates (who are also beneficiaries from the powers that be) too are working overtime to ensure their own crucial selfish interests at the cost of those of the people at large. But when the country is facing a situation akin to what happened in Germany in the 1930s one does not have the luxury of engaging in arm-chair disco-urse apportioning blame for the present state of affairs. All-in unity to resist the impending majoritarian-cum-authoritarian bid to seize power in India does not brook the sligbtest delay. To remain blind to this reality is to sign the death-warrant of secular democracy, and hence the idea of India, in the days ahead. Are the holier-than-thou secular democrats listening? If not, they should better be prepared for the unity of the graveyard that will inevitably follow such a majoritarian fascist takeover. For at stake are both secularism and democracy.



[Back to Top]

We need to talk about this Manifesto – By N. Ram (Apr 7, 2014, The Hindu)

No official statement has come from the Bharatiya Janata Party to explain its strange decision to release, in the face of the Election Commission of India’s displeasure, its Manifesto on April 7, 2014 — the first of the nine ‘Poll Days’ constituting the 16th general election. Election manifestoes are no big deal. That’s the message seemingly conveyed by the party that, according to most opinion polls, will form the next coalition government in New Delhi, assuming of course that it can solve its ‘last mile’ problem by finding enough allies to connect to the magic number of 272 Lok Sabha seats.

The big deal is the ‘Vikas Purush’ avatar of a former outlier, Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whose campaign machine has done everything in its power to obfuscate or draw attention away from the past, 2002 and all that. Who needs a Manifesto when there is MODIMANTRA, which actually heads the list of ‘Core Issues’ at the BJP’s official website, www.bjp.org? Who needs a Manifesto when there is the ‘Gujarat Model’ of governance, development, and social engineering that the rest of India needs to aspire to? (This message seems to fly notwithstanding the availability of a growing literature that reveals that when you look at various development and social indicators, Gujarat is no model State.)

What is clear by now is that the message is quite different from the reality: the BJP’s failure to unveil its Manifesto weeks after most other parties, national and regional, have come out with their mostly elaborate exercises is no small deal. So what’s the real reason for this negation of the very idea of an election Manifesto, which is meant to appeal to the heart and mind of voters?

Fortunately, pro-BJP voices in the news media are more forthcoming than the party’s present high command. One of them, R. Jagannathan, editor-in-chief of Network 18 group publications, tackles the question in a provocative opinion piece titled “Modi is the manifesto: Why BJP doesn’t need a hefty document.” At the end of the article, Mr. Jagannathan comes to the real point: “Manifestoes can be constricting”; they can act as “a tripwire for a party that hopes to win and form a government.”

In other words, an election Manifesto, if taken too seriously, can spell trouble for the future, especially when the party seems close enough to taking power. The less it reveals about – the more it camouflages – the ideology and character of the party, its real programme, policy agenda, and intentions, its stand on sensitive and highly divisive issues, the better. In the case of the BJP today, what evidently needs to be underplayed, if not kept out of public view, is the Sangh Parivar’s well-known repertoire of core issues: the concept of Hindutva; the project of building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya (on the grave of the Babri Masjid); the abrogation of Article 370, which confers a special constitutional status on Jammu & Kashmir; coming up with a Uniform Civil Code; banning religious conversions, cow slaughter, and so forth. …



[Back to Top]

Narendra Modi as prime minister would roll back women’s rights in India – By Amrit Wilson (Apr 4, 2014, The Guardian)

India’s general election begins next week, and Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the rightwing Bharatiya Janata party, is said to have a good chance of winning. If this happens, Modi’s political party and other member organisations of the Sangh Parivar family of Hindu right organisations, will consolidate their powerful grip on India’s institutions. Gender violence and women’s rights continue to be highlighted in India by the massive anti-rape movement which arose in the wake of the horrific gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi in December 2012. How will this movement and its key demand of “freedom without fear” for women be affected if Modi becomes prime minister?

The Sangh Parivar approach to women’s rights and gender violence is clearly illustrated by women’s status in Gujarat, the state where Modi has been chief minister for 13 years and which he projects as a model of development. According to 2011 census figures, Gujarat has 918 women for every 1,000 men, below the national average of 940, hinting at a high level of female infanticide. School enrolment of girls is lower and malnutrition among children higher than nationwide. As for violence against women, the state conviction rate for rape and abduction of women are among the lowest in India.

However, it is the fascistic violence of the Sangh Parivar that, more than anything, indelibly marks women’s lives in Gujarat. During the 2002 pogrom against Muslims, women and children were specifically targeted. Countless women and girls were raped; nearly 2,000 men, women and children were massacred, and 200,000 displaced. The attacks, as the British high commissioner noted in a leaked report, were “planned, possibly months in advance … with the support of the state government … reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible while the chief minister [Modi] remains in power”.

Nishrin Jafri Hussein, whose father, the former MP Ahsan Jafri, was brutally murdered in the violence in 2002, described her visit to the villages around Gujarat’s capital, Ahmedabad, three months after the violence took place. People took her, she said, to the “narrow lanes, small houses, places where the TV and NGOs were not allowed” and she met the survivors, women and young girls. “They had been raped, tortured, their parents killed, their children killed before their eyes. … It was the same lane after lane, house after house.” Nishrin’s mother Zakia Jafri has filed a petition against Modi accusing him of complicity in the attacks. Modi denies his involvement and has been cleared in several legal inquiries.

Since 2002 the Hindu right’s gangs have repeated this brutal violence: first, in the eastern state of Orissa in 2007 against the Christian minority, whose families – like those in Gujarat – are yet to be rehabilitated; and last year in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, against Muslims in the run-up to Modi’s election campaign. In village after village in Muzaffarnagar, women tell of incidents of rape and torture strikingly similar to those in Gujarat in 2002. Whether in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh or elsewhere in India, the violence has not been spontaneous. Sangh Parivar politicians have instigated, organised and justified it, creating tropes of Muslim men as rapists and abductors of Hindu women, and urging Hindu men to regain their masculinity by raping Muslim women. …



[Back to Top]