IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 9th, 2018 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 9th, 2018

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 9th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Kolkata civil society rallies for communal harmony (Apr 8, 2018, The Hindu)

Thousands of people, including eminent poets and theatre persons, took part in a civil society rally in Kolkata on Sunday, against the recent communal clashes in the State over Ram Navami celebrations. The rally, which covered a distance of about 4 km, started from Esplanade in central Kolkata to Rabindra Sadan in south Kolkata, was backed by 17 Left parties, including the Left Front.

Eminent poet and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Sankha Ghosh, thespian Rudraprasad Sengupta, director Tarun Mazumdar and former Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Ganguly, along with several other civil society members, took part in the rally. “I walked in the rally despite my ill health in the interest of communal harmony, which has been recently jeopardised in the State,” said Mr. Ghosh, amidst slogans of “unite against communalism and fundamentalism” and “we want unity among religions and not division”.

Noted actor and recipient of Legion d’Honneur Soumitra Chatterjee sent a written statement in support of the rally. “Even two years back, the situation was not like this in Bengal. But now, we are witnessing such situation [clashes over Ram Navami]. It is a threat to humanity,” said Mr. Chatterjee in his statement. Referring to the recent clashes between two communities over Ram Navami celebrations Justice Ganguly said that he participated in the rally, “in the interest of peace and communal harmony and in protest against the divisive politics of certain political outfits.”…


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Dalits Being “Tortured” Post April 2 Agitation: BJP Lawmaker Udit Raj (Apr 8, 2018, NDTV)

BJP parliamentarian Udit Raj on Saturday alleged that members of his Dalit community were being “tortured” in various parts of the country in the wake of the violent protests during the ‘Bharat Bandh’ earlier this week.

“Reports are pouring in that those Dalits who participated in agitation on April 2 are being tortured and it must be stopped,” he said in a tweet on Saturday.

“Dalits are tortured at large scale after April 2 country-wide agitation. People from Barmer, Jalore, Jaipur, Gwalior, Meerut, Bulandshahr, Karoli and other parts calling that not only anti-reservationists but police also beating & slapping false cases,” he said. All these places, incidentally are parts of states ruled by the BJP.…



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Karnataka polls: Rahul Gandhi hits out at Narendra Modi over SC/ST Act, claims Arun Jaitley’s daughter is Nirav Modi’s lawyer (Apr 4, 2018, First Post)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “not uttering a word” on alleged atrocities on Dalits and tribals and “dilution” of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.…

He also attacked Modi on the CBSE question papers leak and on the “leak” of Assembly election date for Karnataka, saying Modi was silent on these issues too.… On the one side, question papers are leaked, while on the other election dates are also leaked, Rahul quipped.…

At a rally in Davangere, Rahul, while referring to the Punjab National Bank scam, asked the crowd, “Okay, do you know who is the lawyer of Nirav Modi? You do not know? Then let me tell you. (It is) Arun Jaitley ji’s daughter.” He also alleged that Narendra Modi very well knew fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who are linked with Punjab National Bank fraud case. Rahul asked Modi to check the letters written by people to his office, informing him about Nirav Modi’s ‘loot’ from the bank.…



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Unnao rape case: Kuldeep Singh Sengar, BJP MLA accused of raping 18-year-old, is a known political turncoat (Apr 11, 2018, First Post)

Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Bangarmau district in Unnao, has been caught in controversy ever since he was accused of raping an 18-year-old woman in 2017.

The four-time lawmaker and his brothers allegedly gang-raped the girl in Unnao – who attempted suicide outside Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence in Lucknow on Sunday – and are also accused in the custodial death of the victim’s father.…

However, the woman had alleged that she was raped in June 2017 by Sengar. She also accused the police in Unnao of not taking any action or registering a case on her complaint, Vijay Sen Singh, in-charge of the Gautam Palli police station, said.



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Bihar riots: fact-finding team alleges violence was staged by BJP and Bajrang Dal (Apr 10, 2018, Twocircles.net)

A fact-finding team comprising activists and journalists mainly belonging to human rights group United Against Hate (UAH)… has alleged that after speaking to people and visiting riot-affected places, it was very clear that this violence was not spontaneous but pre-planned and very carefully orchestrated by the BJP and Bajrang Dal hooligans.

“There was a similar pattern of violence that was orchestrated in every place that we visited. In many places, preempting the violence, peace meetings were held that had set terms and conditions to the rallies next day to avoid violence. Even the police gave conditional permission to all the Rama Navami rallies and set their definite routes,” claimed the fact-finding team.

“But all these conditions and routes were violated on the next day. The rallies were forcefully taken to Muslim areas, where extremely derogatory communal songs were played and communally provocative slogans were raised. This was followed by large-scale violence, where particularly mosques and Muslim properties were targeted by the mob. At many places, they even destroyed properties and shops owned by Hindu community,” said the statement.…



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Muslims attacked in Rudraprayag: Hindutva outfits are using rumours to polarise Uttarakhand (Apr 7, 2018, Catch News)

Polarisation, either on communal or caste lines, is only increasing in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The common perception is that with the BJP having failed to deliver either at the Centre or in the states where it came to power riding the ‘Modi wave’, it is now the right wing Hindutva organisations that have taken over to execute the agenda of polarisation.

The latest in the series is the targeting of the hill state of Uttarakhand with its negligible Muslim population in the hill districts. The misuse of social media continues to play a role in this menace.

The recent burning down of 15 shops owned by Muslims in Agastyamuni town of Rudraprayag district of Garhwal following rumours spread on social media, is just one among the many attempts that have taken place in the last one year and majority of them have gone unreported on the national level.…



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Is polygamy more important for you than Muslim rights in Ramjanmabhoomi case, Dhavan asks SC (Apr 6, 2018, The Hindu)

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Muslim parties in the Ramjanmabhoomi title appeals, asked the Supreme Court to clarify in open court, before the Press, whether it considered pleas to strike down polygamy more important than Muslim rights involved in the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi case.

For 45 minutes, Mr. Dhavan confronted a Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra as to why the apex court chose to refer pleas to declare polygamy unconstitutional to a Constitution Bench, while continuing to mull over whether or not to send questions raised in the Ramjanmabhoomi title appeals to a five-judge Bench, that too, despite repeated requests from the Muslim parties.

“Tell me, are the petitions to declare polygamy unconstitutional – an issue detrimental to Muslims – much more important than the questions raised in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case? If so, say that now… I am here, the Press is here… please say so,” Mr. Dhavan challenged the Bench. If polygamy petitions can be shifted to a Constitution Bench, the Ramjanmabhoomi appeals can also go, he submitted.…



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Church vandalized over Easter weekend (Apr 1, 2018, Global News)

Just hours before one of its busiest days of the year, Saint Benedict Catholic Church was vandalized with red spray paint, marking up its stained-wood front doors and covering its sign with an obscene phrase.

Members of the Clayton Park parish found the vandalism when they arrived early Sunday morning to prepare for their Easter Mass services, the first beginning at 9 a.m.…

Despite not having a great deal of time to prepare before welcoming hundreds of people, the spray paint was virtually unnoticeable to those attending the early service.…



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“Coward Modi government runs away from discussion”: SDPI dismayed over parliament proceedings (Apr 9, 2018, Twocircles.net)

The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has expressed its dismay, and disconcert over the proceedings in both houses during the budget session of parliament, which concluded on April 6, 2018. SDPI national president A. Sayeed in a statement said, “250 hours were wasted by the parliament while issues like the PNB scam and alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act couldn’t come up for discussion.”

Sayeed pointed out that according to PRS legislative research, this was the least productive budget session since the year 2000. “The upper house spent only three minutes on government bills while the same was 14 minutes in the lower house. Never has there been a ruling party in power which had been so insensitive and indifferent to the sufferings of people,” said Sayeed in the press statement.…

He charged that it is BJP’s hidden ally AIADMK, which did not allow the parliament to function while the Speaker connived to let it happen which is a disgrace. He said, “Instead of suspending AIADMK, they are trying to hide behind the house is not in order. Modi Government can escape from parliament but not from the people.”…



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Sohrabuddin case: CBI pressured me to lie in 2011, says witness (Apr 6, 2018, Indian Express)

A key witness in the alleged fake encounter of Tulsiram Prajapati, an associate of Sohrabuddin Shaikh who was killed on December 26, 2005, claimed before the special CBI court on Thursday that the CBI had pressured him to give a false statement in the case in 2011. Though the witness claimed that his statement in 2011 was taken under duress, the prosecution did not declare him hostile.

The witness, an official of the Rajasthan police, teared up several times while deposing before the court and said that in 2011, CBI officials had threatened to make him an accused in the alleged fake encounter case if he did not give a statement as per their directions to a magistrate. He claimed that despite him pleading before the officials, he was made to record his statement in Navi Mumbai on the day of his daughter’s engagement on July 4, 2011. The witness was summoned to the CBI office in Navi Mumbai on July 1, 2011.

“I was forced under fear of arrest to make a statement before a magistrate. Since it was not true, I requested them not to compel me to make such a statement, but they (CBI officials) paid no heed and forced me to make the statement,” the witness told the court.…



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Congress shares UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s browsing history, reveals his secret strategy (Apr 10, 2018, India Today)

…ever since ruling parties and Opposition parties have started indulging in trolling, it has become an entertaining place for the internet spectators. Instead of giving out memos, parties are trolling each other with memes.… This time Congress went on and shared a video mocking Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath by revealing his browser history on their official twitter handle.

By claiming that they are revealing Yogi Adityanath’s secret strategy, Congress talked about his browsing history. Some of the searches included “How to make hate speeches”, “How to bring bad governance” (citing Gorakhpur’s example), “How to ensure social disharmony” and “how to be an absentee CM”.

Quoting various video clips from news channels along with examples, the video talked about Kasganj violence, Gorakhpur deaths, and Yogi’s public speeches. The last search showed him searching “How to make Yogi PM in 2019” as well.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Why are Dalits angry at the Narendra Modi government? – By Himanshu (Apr 10, 2018, Live Mint)

The large scale protests on 2 April as part of a “Bharat bandh” call given by various Dalit organizations surprised many. The surprise was not just at the scale of the bandh which affected normal life in many parts of North India but at also the fact that the bandh was not officially sponsored by any political party.

This was unlike the farmer protests which have been organized in many states of the country, mobilized by various political outfits and farmer organizations for demands such as loan waivers and remunerative prices for agricultural produce.

The Dalit protest was not for a specific demand but to express general anger against the government. While the Supreme Court judgement on 20 March, which imposed restrictions on immediate arrest of the accused in The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, or SC/ST Act, may have acted as the trigger, it will be naïve to suggest that the protest was only about this issue. The protest was the result of accumulated anger against policies of the government and instances of discrimination which seem to have worsened under this government.…



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Dissecting Communal Riots in Bihar: Two Lakh Swords and Plenty of Hateful Songs – By Tarique Anwar (Apr 4, 2018, News Click)

Professional orchestration and meticulous planning was involved in the communal violence that took place in the nine districts of Bihar from March 25 to 28. The riots claimed one life and around 65 were injured.

Newsclick had earlier reported that swords, CDs and pen drives – containing Islamophobic songs – were distributed to be played on loud speakers during the Rama Navami processions. The lyrics of the songs were so provocative that violence was bound to happen.…

Majority of these songs have been uploaded on YouTube around a year ago and have fetched millions of views. These songs were seemingly shared via pen drives and CDs, to be circulated, apparently, with an aim to foment communal tension in the regions that have been peaceful for years.…



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Divisive agenda – By Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay (Apr 27, 2018, Frontline)

…Until last year, Ram Navami was not a major festival in West Bengal; at most, it was celebrated in pockets and almost went unnoticed. But today it has become a rallying cry for Hindutva forces and a symbol of the new political and social dynamics that has emerged in the State. Fuelled by last year’s success, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Sangh Parivar organisations held bigger rallies all over the State.…

The minor communal skirmishes during last year’s Ram Navami celebrations had already given ominous signs of more serious outbreaks to follow; yet, the State government failed to pre-empt the violence that followed the celebrations this year. In fact, there are many who feel that the Trinamool’s strategy of taking on the Hindutva agenda of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar with its own brand of “soft Hindutva” may have aggravated the situation, encouraging greater polarisation between Hindus and Muslims in the State.…

It is not just the RSS that has expanded its base in Bengal. Several organisations under its umbrella have been establishing their presence here. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) under different platforms such as the Joy Bharat Mata Seva Committee, the Durga Bahini, the Hindu Seva Dal, and the militant Bajrang Dal, has been spreading its base in different parts.…



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The Anatomy of Justice and Politics in the Muzaffarnagar Riot Cases – By Kabir Agarwal (Apr 6, 2018, The Wire)

On March 22, The Indian Express reported that the Uttar Pradesh government had initiated the process of withdrawing 131 cases – all naming Hindus as the accused and including 13 murder and 11 attempt to murder cases – relating to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. Earlier, in January, PTI reported that the UP government was ‘mulling’ the withdrawal of nine criminal cases against BJP leaders in connection with the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

While this is being seen as a serious attempt at subverting justice in the riots that resulted in the death of 64 people and left nearly a lakh homeless, it is actually just a plot detour in a longer political drama scripted with injustice as its ending.…

“In the case of the Muzaffarnagar riots, withdrawal of cases cannot be in the interest of justice because it is the job of the state to protect the right to life and property of all citizens, including Muslim victims who were targets of the communal violence,” Grover added.…



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Hindutva’s messengers – By Purnima S. Tripathi (Apr 27, 2018, Frontline)

The Indian media’s worst kept secret for the past many years, that some sections of them have been bought over, has been confirmed in a sting operation conducted by Cobrapost, the investigative website founded by Aniruddha Bahal of Tehelka fame.

The sting operation, which targeted many mainstream print and electronic media companies, including websites, mainly in northern India, has established how paid news, masquerading as news, is a reality; how media houses have become willing accomplices of right-wing propaganda for money; and how they have no problem in peddling defamatory content on the political rivals of Hindutva forces and even push stories running down the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) alliance partners in order to keep them in their place.

What is astounding is how gullible media honchos are when it comes to striking possible big deals that promise good money. Apparently, senior media house owners and executives agreed, without making any background check, to meet an undercover reporter who masqueraded as a right-wing propagandist. He posed as Acharya Atal representing an organisation called Shrimad Bhagwat Gita Prachar Samiti based in Ujjain. No questions were asked just because he talked of payments ranging from Rs.5 crore to Rs.50 crore.…



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Modi’s Minimum Raj: Jaitley Forwarded Anonymous Note to Flag Key Matter to PMO – By Swati Chaturvedi (Apr 5, 2018, The Wire)

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who often advises the prime minister on a host of issues, feels that India’s interests are not “being adequately addressed in 23 international arbitrations”, the ministries of mines and heavy industry are not doing their job and that the law officers engaged by the government “do not have the adequate stature to create an impact on these arbitrations.”

These arbitrations – including the controversial Rs 22,100 crore Vodafone case – involve revenues worth thousands of crores of rupees for the exchequer. Worse, in a letter he wrote to Modi’s principal secretary, Nripendra Misra, in May last year, Jaitley took unusual recourse to enclosing an anonymous note from someone whom he describes “as a former colleague from the legal fraternity” to drive home these points.

When Modi took office in the halcyon days of 2014 he did not tire of promising “minimum government, maximum governance”. That a powerful minister holding multiple portfolios had to take recourse to an anonymous letter to point out instances of misgovernance to the prime minister casts a shadow over Modi’s claims of running an efficient, decisive government.…



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Book Review

The Free Voice: On Democracy, Culture and the Nation

Author: Ravish Kumar
Reviewed by: Prakash K. Ray
Available at: Speaking Tiger Publishing Pvt. Ltd., 4381/4, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002 India. https://www.amazon.in/
Democracy and Debate in the Time of ‘IT Cell’ (Apr 5, 2018, The Wire)

In his recently released book, The Free Voice, journalist Ravish Kumar details the predicament of our nation. It no longer sounds cynical that we are living in a vicious atmosphere of fear, failure, and fallacy created and sustained through a humongous Right wing propaganda unleashed in every sphere of life in India today. Kumar has given this proselytism a specific noun – ‘IT Cell’.…

The Free Voice is a telling commentary on, aptly subtitled, democracy, culture and the nation. This collection is published by Speaking Tiger and translated by Chitra Padmanabhan, Anurag Basnet and Ravi Singh. The trio has done their job too well, and we must be thankful to them for the book is going to stay with us for really long. Mathili Doshi Apale’s minimalist, but impressive design, is tremendous, and the photo of an intense Ravish Kumar on the back cover by Bharat Tiwari enhances the impact of the text.

When we, the people, cross this dark chilling night of fear, lies and bullying, and touch the morning’s warmth, this book will be an honest reminder and a reportage of these times. At times, the words of Kumar may sound pessimistic or cynical or you can term them a result of frustration, but, in fact, the wholesome impact of the book is positive. It ignites the sparks of hope, solidarity, and compassion. It is a promise from one of the most important voices in India today… a promise which is a resolution too.