IAMC Weekly News Roundup - August 10th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 10th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Special judge, hearing Gulberg massacre case, visits society (Aug 10, 2015, Indian Express)

Special judge PB Desai who is hearing the Gulberg massacre case, visited Monday afternoon the society where 69 people were killed in the post Godhra riots on February 28, 2002, closely examining every nook and corner especially of Bungalow number-19, home to Congress’s ex-MP Ahsan Jafri, who was among those killed that day.…

Ahmedabad Municipal corporation authorities cleaned up and sprayed the premises with bleaching powder ahead of the judge’s visit. Amidst heavy police presence and surrounded by lawyers from the prosecution, victims and defence, special judge Desai spent nearly 45 minutes. He went to the house of Jafri and inspected all the sites mentioned in the court records – the entrance, first floor and its terrace.…

The media was barred by the court to enter the society during the judge’s visit. The lawyers accompanying him said that he inquired about the details of the incident and the events described in the case records.… The next hearing is due next week.



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Congress Government, Cops Indicted for Month-Long Bhagalpur Riots (Aug 7, 2015, NDTV)

More than 1,000 people were killed in communal riots in Bhagalpur nearly 25 years ago because “those who had the power to act, abandoned the quest”. That’s the searing indictment of policemen and the Congress government that was led by Satyendra Narayan Sinha by a retired judge who investigated the riots that scorched Bihar in 1989.

The 1000-page report with the findings of retired judge NN Singh was presented to Bihar lawmakers in the state legislature today. It says – highlighting that many cases linked to the riots have still not concluded – “wounds have not been healed, and adequate and sufficient rehabilitation had not been provided to the sufferers.”…

An initial report on the riots was presented by three judges in 1995 and indicted policemen and the state administration. Before he was elected Chief Minister in 2005, Nitish Kumar pledged that he would order a new inquiry into the Bhagalpur riots, and reopen several cases to identify and punish the guilty.



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JNU students snub ABVP, screen riot film (Aug 6, 2015, Times of India)

Jawaharlal Nehru University students don’t let a thing like the administration’s refusal to get in the way of a film screening. Despite a gag order, members of Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) arranged for the screening of the documentary film Muzaffarnagar Abhi Baki Hai by putting together their own resources. The screening had been scheduled for 11pm at the Godavari hostel dhaba. But the film ended well after 2am on Wednesday.

“We brought our own speakers, our own lights and laptop,” said DSF’s V Lenin Kumar. Instead of a screen, they used a white bed sheet borrowed from a hostel. In a statement issued later, the students’ organization said, “The screening was organized to protest against ABVP’s (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) disruption of the screening organized in Kirori Mal College (KMC). The successful screening is a fitting rebuff to the communal…ABVP, who had been campaigning against the screening here as well.”

The administration wasn’t having it, as vice-chancellor S K Sopory told TOI, “no permission had been taken from anybody” and, apparently, the posters announcing the screening did not have the names of any JNU students on them. Although Kumar conceded they hadn’t filled any form, he argued this wasn’t the first activity to have been organized without permission at the Godavari dhaba.…



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‘Can Order Encounter,’ BJP Lawmaker Tells Journalist (Aug 7, 2015, NDTV)

A BJP lawmaker in Madhya Pradesh has boasted publicly that he can order an “encounter”, while hitting out at a journalist who confronted him with tough questions. Velsingh Bhuria was attending a farmers’ event in a village on Tuesday when he made the remarks. He was apparently offended when bombarded with questions from a crowd, including a journalist. He was asked whether he knew anyone in the local administration.

Mr Bhuria snapped: “You are talking about my clout? I have the powers to order an encounter. If people disturb the peace and create problems, then I can do that. Talk to me with respect. I am your legislator. You are the media. If you want to write about it, do so by all means. I don’t care.”…

His hubris faded as the comment generated controversy.… Mr Bhuria, 35, is a first time legislator and represents the Sardarpur constituency. The Congress on Thursday went to the police with a mobile clip of the lawmaker’s comment and demanded his arrest. The police have reportedly said they will look into it.…



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After 8 years in prison, three ‘HuJI operatives’ acquitted (Aug 7, 2015, Indian Express)

Citing “lack of evidence”, a Lucknow court on Thursday acquitted three alleged HuJI operatives, who were arrested in 2007 on charges of waging war against the country and under the Explosives Act. State government counsel Mithilesh Kumar Singh said Special Judge Syed Aftab Husain Rizvi acquitted the three – Yakoob, Jalaluddin and Naushad (lodged in Lucknow District Jail since their arrest) – for want of evidence after examining eight witnesses from the prosecution side and four from defence. While Yakoob and Naushad belong to Bijnor district, Jalaluddin hails from West Bengal’s South-24 Parganas district.

Defence lawyer A M Faridi said all four defence witnesses have stated that Yakoob was caught by the Special Task Force (STF) from Nagina bus stand in Bijnor on June 9, 2007. The STF, however, claimed to have arrested Yakoob from Lucknow’s Charbagh area on June 21. Since Yakoob has no other case pending against him, he would be released from jail, Faridi added. Naushad and Jalaluddin, on the other hand, would remain in jail as they have two cases and a single case, respectively, still pending against them, said advocate Mohammad Shoaib who represents both the accused.

In 2013, the state government had moved an application to withdraw the case against Yakoob but it could not be entertained as the high court stayed the move while hearing a PIL. According to the prosecution, the STF had arrested Yakoob alias Shakir alias Lambu (36) carrying explosives from Charbagh on June 21, 2007. The police had then declared him a Pakistan-trained HuJI operative who used to supply RDX across the country and had also claimed that he was planning to carry out subversive activities in the state capital. The police had claimed to have recovered 4 kg RDX, timer, battery and detonator from his possession. Two separate cases were registered at the Hussainganj police station in this regard.



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Narendra Modi government flags off cultural mapping to identify, record details of artistes across India (Aug 6, 2015, Economic Times)

Demographic and income-mapping exercises are not unusual with governments. But this one is a first. The BJP-led government has flagged off what it calls ‘cultural mapping’ of the country under which it plans to identify and record the details of artistes and artisans across India to capture what people involved in the exercise say is the “soul of the country” in one unified database.

And capturing this “soul” will be job of two organisations, both affiliated to the BJP’s ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – Vidya Bharati and Sanskar Bharati. The two are the Sangh’s education and culture arms.

While officials at the culture ministry that is undertaking the mammoth project declined to comment, representatives of the two RSS affiliate organisations confirmed that they had begun the survey last month and were working with the government on it.…



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BJP Men, Cops Booked for Helping Smugglers, Arms Dealers (Aug 7, 2015, New Indian Express)

The Punjab Police have booked five persons, including former chiefs of Ferozepur BJP and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and two police officers, on charges of corruption and for trying to help drug smugglers and arms dealers.

Sources said a case has been registered on August 5 under Sections 420 (Cheating) and Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, on former Ferozepur district BJP president Jugraj Singh Katora and former Ferozepur BJYM head Jimmy Sandhu, who also performed the duty of PA of Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma. They were reported to be in touch with an agent, who was trying to get some accused out of police custody.

The others booked in the case are deputy superintendent of police Balwinder Singh Sekhon, Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakha and Gurcharan Singh. Sources said a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and for possessing fake currency was registered at Ferozepur Sadar Police Station against Amritpal Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Jagdip Kaur, wife of Amritpal Singh, and Jasvir Singh on June 20. Amritpal and his father Jasvir were arrested, but used their political and money power to wriggle out of custody. Sandhu, Sekhon and Lakhwinder benefited from this deal.…



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Muslim child punished for refusing to sing Sanskrit ‘shlokas’ in Bengaluru (Aug 5, 2015, DNA India)

A 15-year-old Muslim boy’s case has stirred the hornet’s nest after he was punished for not singing a few Sanskrit shlokas by his principal. According to a report in Hindustan Times, the incident took place in south Bengaluru school.

When the principal of the school noticed that the boy and some of his other Muslim friends weren’t singing the shlokas the principal asked the group to come up on stage and sing it. The boy is quoted saying: “I was humiliated in front of 1,200 students and my constitutional right was violated. She made us go on stage and forced us to sing the prayer in front of everybody. She scolded me in front of everyone on the mike when I mispronounced a few Sanskrit words.”

The boy’s mother, along with activists of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights, approached the principal and tried to file a complaint. However, the principal acted like she did not understand what the fuss was about and kept saying that the prayer was important to instil values and discipline in students. The principal even suggested that the boy was turning into a fundamentalist Muslim since he was from Bhatkal (a Muslim-dominated area in Karnataka). Following the furore, the boy has been allowed to sit in class during the assembly but he’s still not happy with the development.…



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NCC order bars Muslim students from sporting beard (Aug 8, 2015, The Hindu)

The right of Muslim NCC cadets to sport a beard has assumed centre stage yet again, with the A.P. State Minorities Commission issuing notices to the Director-General of NCC seeking explanation on a circular issued two years ago which had forbidden cadets other than Sikhs from growing beard.

The notices were issued in relation to two separate cases filed before the Commission, one by the father of a student from Anwar-ul-Uloom College, who was reportedly turned away by the NCC here for sporting beard, and the other by an NGO, Help Hyderabad.

As per the parent’s complaint, the student who went to the NCC camp organised in June this year was asked by the commander to go back and come clean-shaven. When questioned, he reportedly cited the circular by the DG’s office issued on June 6, 2013. The circular, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, asked the Sikh cadets with long beard to have the beard properly tied and not opened, while summoning all other boy cadets to be clean shaven.…



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Gujarat cops unearth Asaram Bapu and Narayan Sai’s shady business nexus (Aug 9, 2015, India Today)

A murky money-lending nexus, shady land deals and clandestine conspiracies to buy police officers. Transactions in a range of financial instruments worth hundreds of crores. Investments in little-known American companies. Suspect foreign currency transactions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Allegations of rape and witness intimidation, it seems, are not the only crimes self-styled holy man Asaram Bapu and his son Narayan Sai are in the dock for.

As Asaram and Sai cool their heels in Jodhpur and Surat jails, and a trial court is set to begin hearing the rape case against Asaram, the Gujarat Police allege they have unearthed a string of highly lucrative illicit business ventures, all piggybacking on the unquestioning faith of millions. And the details – contained in reams of documents police say they seized from an ashram aide’s apartment – read like the laundry list of a small-town businessman who has come into enormous wealth:…

On paper, the total comes to a mindboggling Rs 4,500 crore. But investigators say the worth of Asaram’s shady empire will cross the Rs 10,000-crore mark if the land and real estate are valued at market rates instead of the old circle rates used by the police to value them. Sai’s counsel, however, rubbishes the allegations. “Narayan Sai and the others have been falsely implicated in the case,” Kalpesh Desai, the defence counsel in the bribery case, said, referring to the financial wrongdoing alleged by the police following seizure of what they call “highly incriminating documents”.…



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Opinions and Editorials

11 reasons why the ghost of Ehsan Jafri still haunts Modi – By Suhas Munshi (Aug 8, 2015, Catch News)

The Gujarat High Court began hearing a petition against the ‘clean chit’ given to Narendra Modi and several others by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT on 4 August. This is the last criminal case related to the 2002 carnage in which the then-Chief Minister of Gujarat and the present Prime Minister of the country has been made an accused.

The hearing is a result of a ‘criminal revision application’ filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri, who was murdered by a Hindu mob during the riots. Jafri is being given legal aid by activist Teesta Setalvad and her organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP).

The court’s decision to hear the plea made by Zakia Jafri, against all odds, gives the prosecution an opportunity to press for a fresh inquiry and prosecute Modi and 58 others in connection with the spate of communal violence. The case may cause huge embarrassment to Modi, senior bureaucrats and BJP functionaries if the High Court considers the evidence submitted by Jafri credible enough to begin a trial. However if the court rejects Jafri’s plea, Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and others may at last be able to put the ghosts of the 2002 violence behind them forever, at least till the petitioners appeal against the rejection in the Supreme Court.…



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Has Narendra Modi lost the plot? – By Soutik Biswas (Aug 5, 2015, BBC)

This week, his BJP government backed down on its controversial land acquisition bill, which would have made it easier for land to be used for industry and infrastructure projects. It has, more or less, returned to the old law approved by the former Congress party government which actually made it tougher for industry to acquire land from farmers.

This is a big blow to Mr Modi’s land plans and is seen by many as the beginning of the end of reform. In fact, the prime minister has shown little appetite for reform so far: last year his government rolled back a suburban train fare hike after protests from commuters, a move that a once-sympathetic columnist now says was an act of “spineless populism”.…

In a piece full of foreboding, analyst Mihir Sharma accused the prime minister of misusing state machinery to hound critics and target NGOs, adding that Mr Modi was “intelligently putting into place the structures that will change the nature of India’s liberal democracy forever”. Clearly, Mr Modi’s honeymoon has ended earlier than expected.



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The Gloves are Off! – By NK Bhoopesh (Aug 15, 2015, Tehelka)

The Congress-led UPA apparently put the war on terror at great risk. At least that is what the regime that replaced it at the Centre seems to think. “In this House in 2013, the then home minister had coined the new terminology ‘Hindu terrorism’ in order to change the direction of probe. It weakened our fight. As a consequence, (Lashkar founder) Hafiz Saeed of Pakistan had congratulated the then home minister. Our government will never allow such a shameful situation again,” Home MinisterRajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha on 31 July after reading a written statement on the 27 terror attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab.

Clearly, the BJP-led Centre has upped the ante on the war on terror and considers keeping the terrorist activities of groups inspired by Hindutva outside the purview of India’s counter-terror policy and operations. …

The Modi regime has made it clear that it wants counter-terror operations to focus exclusively on Islamic terror and, perhaps, the Maoist insurgency. On the ground, this would effectively mean that much on the lines of the impunity allegedly given to perpetrators of massacres carried out in the name of the dominant religion, extremists involved in bomb blasts and other acts of terror, too, can get away with their crimes. Ironically, the bjp government is only reinforcing the biases of the law enforcement and counter-terror apparatus while arguing all along that “terror has no religion!”



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Yakub case reminds us the home truths about justice – By Rajdeep Sardesai (Aug 7, 2015, Hindustan Times)

“The Mumbai blasts seem to be a reaction to the ‘totality of events’ in Ayodhya and Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993.” Justice BN Srikrishna report. Justice Srikrishna is spot on: If there were no riots in Mumbai in 1992-1993, there would have been no serial blasts. Like if there was no Godhra train burning there would have been no 2002 Gujarat riots, or if Indira Gandhi was not assassinated, there would have been no anti-Sikh pogrom in 1984.

Or we could argue that if the Babri masjid was not demolished, the post-Babri riots would not have occurred; if Indira Gandhi hadn’t ordered the army to storm the Golden Temple, Sikh militancy would have been contained; if the VHP hadn’t undertaken a Kar-Seva in Ayodhya, no train would have been targeted.

Searching for the ‘root causes’ of any act of violence is fraught with danger. Just how far back will action-reaction theories take us, and do they eventually lead to rationalising violence? And yet, it is impossible, as Justice Srikrishna points out, to separate the Mumbai blasts from the riots that preceded them. Which is why the narrative over 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon’s execution cannot but reflect on the riots as well.…



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Shielding Wrongdoing – Editorial (Aug 9, 2015, Peoples Democracy)

The monsoon session of parliament has been stalled ever since it began on July 21. The main reason for this is the Modi government’s obduracy in refusing to even recognise that there are serious charges against a union minister and against the two chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. After refusing to respond to the opposition demand that action be taken in these three cases, throughout the prime minister has remained silent. He refuses to take a stand and his ministers have been trying to hurl counter-charges against Congress chief ministers.…

Narendra Modi and the BJP should realise that the issues raised with regard to Lalitgate and Vyapam are not going to go away anytime soon. The government will be compelled to move for the extradition of Lalit Modi to India to stand trial despite the best efforts of Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raja to render succour to him. A special court has issued a non-bailable warrant against Lalit Modi in a money-laundering case. Can the Modi government be blind to the spreading stain of Vyapam which has now acquired the dubious status of a killer scam?

If parliament cannot make those who hold public office accountable, then who can? Prime Minister Modi is damaging his credibility and political authority by appearing to shield wrongdoing.



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From Asaram to Radhe Maa: Five reasons why godmen thrive – By KumKum Dasgupta (Aug 10, 2015, Hindustan Times)

You can call them godmen, self-styled gurus or new-age babas but a majority of them are nothing but scheming fraudsters. In the last few years, several of them – Asaram Babu, Nirmal Baba, Rampal, Ram Rahim Singh – have faced serious charges ranging from sexual exploitation of women to financial fraud. Two more names were added to the ignominious gallery in the past week: Sarathi Baba and Radhe Maa.

On August 4, a news channel in Odisha aired a report that alleged Sarathi Baba went to Hyderabad by air with a young woman in the first week of July and spent time in a five-star hotel there. The channel beamed images of the 48-year-old baba in the hotel clad in jeans, T-shirt and sunglasses. Like his illustrious counterparts, Sarathi Baba, who is based in Kendrapara in Odisha, too has built an empire.

The same week, godwoman Radhe Maa was seen clad in a red miniskirt with a cap and high-knee boots, a la Madonna, in photos posted on social media. This was after she was accused by a woman in Mumbai of inciting her husband and his parents to demand dowry from her. If you ask me, there is nothing wrong for the gurus to dress the way they like but their secretive ways only shows their duplicity. Obviously, these un-sadhu ways did not go down well with their followers, who want their “spiritual” leaders to maintain a certain “standard” that matches the wares they promise to deliver.…



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