IAMC Weekly News Roundup - August 11th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 11th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Another Euro leader questions Narendra Modi’s record (Aug 6, 2014, Live Mint)

A member of the European Parliament (MEP) on Tuesday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s past record vis-a-vis minorities in India, the second European Union parliamentarian to do so in two months. … Tuesday’s question was from Romanian MEP Viorica Dancila who cited recent reports in the international media that she said “have expressed great concern over Modi’s past record and nationalist agenda”.

“Modi, a member of a Hindu nationalist (Bharatiya Janata Party) party, has been criticized for his role in the deadly Gujarat Hindu-Muslim riots of 2002, in which more than 1,000 members of the Muslim community lost their lives. Modi was chief minister of the state at the time,” she said. “India’s 1.3 billion population comprises a large number of minority groups, including Christians, Muslims and others. Is the EU monitoring the situation in India regarding minority rights and the policy that the new Indian leadership intends to pursue on this matter?”

She was referring to the sectarian riots in 2002 in which many hundreds of people – mostly Muslims-were killed in apparent retaliation after a Muslim mob torched a train compartment carrying Hindu pilgrims in Gujarat’s Godhra town. Modi was then the chief minister of Gujarat and was accused of turning a blind eye to the riots. Western countries led by the US and the UK boycotted Modi for his alleged human rights record. But earlier this year, an Indian court absolved him of blame and the BJP led by him won national elections. …

Another MEP, Spain’s Izaskun Bilbao Barandica last month noted that Modi “has a highly problematic history of racism, and has been accused of involvement in the deadly Gujarat Hindu-Muslim riots of 2002. “In an interview with The New York Times in 2002, Modi said that his only regret was that he didn’t manage the media better,” Barandica said.

“What steps will the EU take, in cooperation with the Indian government, to address the issue of inequality in India? Is this issue of social, racial and religious discrimination part of the ongoing EU-India Free TRADE Agreement negotiations? Considering the fact that national policies on minorities could potentially pose a threat to peace and security in South Asia, is the EU pursuing a collective agreement with countries in the region to address such concerns?” Barandica asked.



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As trial begins, all eyes on defence lawyer with RSS links (Aug 8, 2014, Indian Express)

As the trial in the May 18, 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case started here earlier this week, all eyes are on one of the defence lawyers, B Rajavardhan Reddy – a prominent RSS activist also associated with the group Hindu Vahini.

Reddy made news in October 2012 when he accused a research scholar from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Sharib Ali, and his friend Mohammed Ismail Khan, a law student of Osmania University, of posing a threat to his life. Sharib Ali had gone to Reddy’s house in Saidabad to interview him as part of his research on bomb blast cases in several cities, after the lawyer agreed for the interview and invited him to his house.

However, when Sharib and his friend reached there, Reddy asked for their ID proofs and alerted the police. Soon, police officials and activists from Hindu Vahini barged into the house. The duo were detained for over two hours and interrogated by Malakpet police. After police verified their identity and several people from TISS vouched for Ali’s credentials, they were let off.

The trial in the Mecca Masjid blast case, in which nine persons were killed, started Monday in the First Additional Metropolitan Sessions Special Court for National Investigation Agency cases at Nampally. Five others were killed when police opened fire on protesters immediately after the blast. …

Earlier, the NIA produced another former head constable, Abdul Baig Mirza, who was also on duty at the spot. One of the key witnesses, Mohammed Mannan, the manager of Mecca Masjid, was cross-examined on the first day. Mannan said after the blast, the prayer area was awash with blood and that blood-stained carpets had been given to the NIA as evidence. The mosque’s attendant Masood Ali Baig’s statement was also recorded. Both Mannan and Baig were cross-examined by Reddy.



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RSS ideology damaging India’s peace, says Digvijaya Singh (Aug 11, 2014, India Today)

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Monday compared the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to Taliban’s and said that the right-wing outfit was damaging the peace of the country. He also urged the government to ban books allegedly spreading communal ideology.

Speaking in Parliament during a debate on the working of the Home Ministry, Singh said, “The biggest threat the country is facing is terrorism. What breeds terrorism is communal ideology.” The RSS is the ideological mentor of the BJP government at the Centre. “In the international arena, Taliban ideology is creating problem. Sangh ideology is equally damaging peace,” Singh said.

Referring to books that were spreading communal ideology, the Congress leader said, “There are books like ‘Harvest of Hate’ and ‘Kandhamal in Crossfire’ authored by Michael Parker, and another book, ‘Orissa in Crossfire’, by Brannon Parker. These books are published by India Foundation. But there is no information about the publisher on the book or on the internet. Moreover, the foreword of these books is written by Cabinet minister Nirmala Sitaraman.

Singh demanded a ban on these books and an inquiry into the issue. The Congress leader said that if the government allows circulation of such books, it will lead to further communal violence in the country.



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AIDWA fact finding team reiterates lose ends in Meerut rape case, says case is being exploited to incite communal violence (Aug 9, 2014, Twocircles.net)

All India Democratic Womens’ Association (AIDWA) has released a fact finding report on the alleged Meerut gang rape of a madrassa teacher. While demanding speedy enquiry and justice for the girl, AIDWA has also condemned “the blatant lies and half-truths being spread by the BJP and Sangh Parivar about the case.”

An AIDWA delegation comprising of Subhashini Ali (Vice-President) Reeja Jayaprasad and Akhila Singh (CEC members) visited the young woman on August 8 and also met the family members who were with her at the hospital.

While demanding support and rehabilitation for the girl, the delegation also expressed its “solidarity with the young woman who has been victimized at various levels.” AIDWA delegation reiterated that while the word of the victim must get precedence and form the basis for the inquiry, but pointed that “there are many issues which remain unexplained.”

Demanding speedy investigations, AIDWA pointed that there is possibility that the victim is being used to incite communal tension. “Given the circumstances of the case being used for highly motivated communal propaganda, it is incumbent on the Government and the police to complete the investigations speedily so that the truth is revealed,” the fact finding report of AIDWA noted, adding, “There is every possibility that the young woman is being used as a pawn by the communal forces who are utterly insensitive and uncaring about her condition.”…



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Were communal riots in UP West orchestrated for gains in bypolls? (Aug 8, 2014, India TV)

Out of 24 riots in Uttar Pradesh since May 16, most of the communal frenzy incidents took place in the UP West region, which is home to half of the total assembly constituencies where bypolls are to be held in November, reports TOI.

Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh has seen nearly 24 riots in the past two months and the riots claimed over 8 lives, the report added. Noteworthy, more than 50 per cent of the riots were triggered over petty issues like use of loudspeakers at religious spots or fire crackers in festival related processions.

In Moradabad, more than 50 people including the DM, were injured on July 6 when BJP workers clashed with the police for trying to hold a panchayat in protest against the removal of loudspeakers by police from a temple. …

In UP, bypolls are to be held in 12 assembly constituencies and out of these 12, six have seen communal violence in the past two months. UP West includes Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Bareilly, Agra and Aligarh division.



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Madhya Pradesh Congress fears more communal tension after Mohan Bhagwat speech on Hindustan (Aug 11, 2014, Times of India)

The Madhya Pradesh Congress on Monday said it is “not surprised” with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s claim that “all those who live in Hindustan are known as Hindus.” The Congress’ leader of Opposition Satyadev Katare said that Mohan Bhagwat is not the first in the RSS to speak of a Hindu Rashtra. “This is the primary agenda of the RSS and has always been so. Who has been the RSS chief, spoke in the same lines,” Katare said. On Sunday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat while giving a speech in Cuttack said, “The entire world recognises Indians as Hindus, therefore, India is a Hindu state.”

Congress leader of Opposition Katare explained that priority issues of the RSS will be spoken about more frequently now with a BJP-led government at the Centre. “We know that the Constitution of India makes the country a secular nation where citizens following every religion will reside. But the situation now is such that the BJP has a majority on its own at the Centre. And taking that advantage, the RSS will want to implement its agenda,” Katare said.

He also asserted that when the RSS chief speaks in such terms, it could have far reaching consequences with a Prime Minister who has been part of that organisation too. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been an RSS pracharak for a considerable period of his life. With him leading the government and Mohan Bhagwat making such statements, it is but a way of the RSS to fix the agenda of the Union government. These statements are determining the governance agenda of the Narendra Modi government and in the months to come, we will perceive more radicalism but by the RSS and the BJP. Look what has happened to Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, there are communal violence incidents every second day,” Katare added.…



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RPSC chairman being targeted as he is a Muslim: Azad (Aug 6, 2014, Times of India)

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday accused the state BJP government of targeting and “scaring” the Rajasthan Public Services Commission (RPSC) chairman Habib Khan Gauran since the latter belonged to the minority community.

Azad asked why the BJP was not demanding the removal of Gauran’s counterpart in Madhya Pradesh where too instances of question-paper leaks have happened of late. He suggested that Rajasthan under BJP could be going the Gujarat and MP way in targeting the minority community.

The Rajya Sabha’s leader of opposition was in the city to participate in an annual social function organized by Congress state vice-president Rajiv Arora. Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Azad also hit out at former Congressman Natwar Singh for making the Gandhi family’s matters public through his just released autobiography. …



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India’s Christians face continued terror under BJP rule (Aug 5, 2014, Christian Today)

As feared by many religious minorities in India, intimidations and attacks from the Sangh Parivar (Hindu nationalist movement) have escalated under the Bharathiya Janatha Party’s (BJP) rule. Hindu radicals are now outright targeting Christians all across the country as a direct consequence of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) assuming power. It won’t be too long until this dangerous situation, made evident by the violent and widespread strategy of the Sangh Parivar, moves closer to the ultimate goal of the Sangh Parivar, India becoming a Hindu nation.

The right wing political party BJP, backed by the Sangh Parivar, achieved a landslide victory in India’s recent general elections that concluded two months ago. Since their rise to power, attacks on religious minorities across India has increased.

Included in this wave of religious violence, a church in Uttar Pradesh (UP) was rampaged when a mob of Hindu radicals belonging to the Bajrangdal, a Hindu nationalist group, spitefully attacked the Christians. The attack took place while the Christians were having the Bible study on July 16 at around 2:30 p.m. in Sahakarinagar village in UP. A group of 25 Hindu radicals led by Hemanth Singh stormed into the church and beat Rev. R. C. Paul and other Christians gathered for the Bible study. The radicals gave no reason for their assault on the Christians during the attack. …



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‘Permit’ move to Taslima hurts Muslims (Aug 5, 2014, The Hindu)

The Muslim community in West Bengal has come down severely on the BJP-led Centre for ‘promising’ author Taslima Nasreen to grant resident permit. Ms Nasreen had told the media that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday ‘promised’ to extend usual ‘resident permit’ to her.

Claiming that the Centre had hurt the Muslim population’s sentiments with this decision, Trinamool Congress MP Idris Ali told the media that Ms. Nasreen has gained popularity only by criticising Prophet Mohammed and writing offensive things about the Islamic religion. Granting her visa would mean encouraging divisive politics in the country, he said.

Lauding West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for respecting the Muslims’ sentiments, TMC MP Sultan Mohammed said in a statement: “Ms. Banerjee has not permitted Ms. Nasreen to enter Bengal for the past three years. Bengal is the land of Kazi Nazrul and Rabindranath Tagore, there is no place for people like Ms. Nasreen. While Ms. Banerjee upheld her Constitutional rights, Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to do so.”

Ms. Nasreen’s books have been banned in the State and her participation at the annual Kolkata Book Fair earlier this year was not allowed. Many eminent faces of the city’s Muslim community pointed fingers at the BJP and said the Centre had failed to protect the interests of the minorities.…

Allowing Ms. Nasreen to stay in the country means the BJP does not respect Muslims living in the country, said the religious head of the city’s Tipu Sultan mosque Nurul Rahman Barkati. Mirroring his thoughts, head cleric of Nakhoda mosque Moulana Muhammad Shafiq Qasemi said he would appeal to Mr. Modi to cancel her visa. With a sizeable population of Muslims in the city, who forced the exiled author to leave the State in 2007, it is expected that the Centre’s warming up to Ms. Nasreen would not go down well with them.



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Complaint against cops (Aug 4, 2014, Times of India)

Madhya Pradesh not only tops crime charts in the country, but also records maximum complaints against men in khaki – another dubious distinction after earning the rape capital tag.

The state retained the top slot for the second time in a row, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data of 2013. Only national capital Delhi, which is not a full-fledged state, is ahead of Madhya Pradesh in complaints against cops.

More shocking is the way complaints are dealt with. A complaint against a cop is usually probed by his senior who absolves errant cops in an inhouse exercise. Around 90% complaints have been termed false at the preliminary level.

As many as 9,297 complaints were filed against cops in the state in 2013, which is more than any other state. And 8,335 pleas were declared unsubstantiated and junked. In only one complaint, a judicial inquiry was initiated. In comparison, while 12,427 complaints were filed in Delhi, only 95 were termed false.

The one cause for cheer for Madhya Pradesh police is that number of complaints against them has dipped in comparison to 2012, during which 12,412 complaints were lodged. Of these, 11,078 cases were termed false. Last year too, MP led the hall of infamy.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Endangered Freedom – By Vidya Bhushan Rawat (Aug 11, 2014, Countercurrents)

The first casualty that was hardly noticed after the new government took over in Delhi was the deletion of important documents of the home ministry. It was taken rather casually and the voices who expressed their concern and anguish over it were targeted. Initially, the incident might have looked a slight mistake on part of the government as home minister informed parliament that files related to assassination of Mahatma Gandhi were actually safe with government department.

Initially many thought that this is a government friendly for the business as the people have given it mandate for ‘good governance’ but we all know such image creation as part of media which has shamelessly taken the role of a propagandist for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Media not just played a dutiful Public Relation Organization of the Sangh Parivar and left no stone unturned in discrediting the opponents particularly the ruling Congress which definitely had not done anything worth sympathetic yet in the greater interest of impartiality, media forgot its own role as a watch dog of the society.

Government began with greater symbolism like Ganga cleaning operation or Prime Minister deliberately choosing the Ganga Maha-arati to start the tenure. None ever thought that the government and the party heading it would ultimately return to their original agenda of Hindutva and polarization. The scars of Muzaffarnagar have not yet healed and we have witnessed now series of reports of communal polarization in Uttar Pradesh. A peaceful district like Saharanpur has been assaulted by the communal violence that engulfed the Qutubsher police station of the city resulting in loss of properties and human lives. …

Muslims in India are direct victims of this brahmanical assault but the real targets are the Dalits, tribal and backward communities who are asserting their rights and identities as well as seeking their participation in power structure. The corporate brahmanical elite is essentially trying to stop this march of assertion of dignity of this segments hence these various plans, games and conspiracies. It is a wake up call for all enlightened people of the country and it is only those who understand the age old conspiracies of India’s caste elite, can really defuse the brahmanical bomb which has been planted over us.



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Resist BJP’s Efforts to Disintegrate our Social Fabric – Editorial (Aug 10, 2014, Peoples Democracy)

During the course of the 2014 general elections, we had pointed out, more than once, various features of the Narendra Modi-led BJP campaign that led to the unmistakable conclusion that ‘development’ and ‘Gujarat model’ employed as election mascots were only the veil concealing the actual ground reality of the campaign that focused on the sharpening of communal polarisation. Thus, much of the BJP’s electoral gains, apart from various other factors, including a widespread disgust with the Congress-led UPA-2 rule during the last few years, has been due to such brazen ‘vote bank’ politics, i.e., the communal consolidation of the ‘Hindu vote bank’. It is, therefore, quite natural that this BJP victory, albeit with just a 31 percent share of those who voted, would lead to the aggressive pursuit of the RSS ideological project and vision of converting the secular democratic Indian Republic into their version of a rabidly intolerant fascistic ‘Hindu Rashtra’.

After all, the BJP is merely the political arm of the RSS tentacles. Even during the so-called ‘honeymoon’ period, even before the completion of the first hundred days of this government, this agenda is already unfolding rapidly. Far from the hopes of many a naïve and gullible, the people’s component of the ‘development electoral agenda’ is simply vanishing into thin air. Soon after assuming office, this government has hiked the administrative prices of petroleum products like diesel, cooking gas etc and steeply raised the railway fares. Its budget and the parliamentary legislative business priorities reflect the unabashed pursuit of neo-liberal economic reforms. Given the massive support rendered by international finance capital backed India Inc., to the Modi election campaign, it is probably only natural that such a course should appear inevitable. Facilitating greater inflow of foreign investments to permit profit maximisation at the cost of our people and country’s sovereignty and greater concessions to India Inc. have been the result.

Within a few weeks of the new government, those who were arguing during the election campaign that the BJP is downplaying its communal agenda are feeling already betrayed and, thus, silenced. Core Hindutva agenda – abrogation of Article 370, Uniform Civil Code, building of Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya – have all been articulated by cabinet ministers. A Goa minister has stated that with the BJP victory, the establishment of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ has begun! …



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Where Hindu and Muslim men unite, unfree women – By Prashant Jha (Aug 10, 2014, Hindustan Times)

It came as a surprise, not because of what was being said, but who was saying it. “It is so common. They call themselves Sonu Bhai, Pappu bhai, and they wear red hand bands to appear like Hindus. And then they trap our girls,” said a prominent journalist in west UP. He then opened two files of a Hindi newspaper of the past few months. Pages 2 and 3, dedicated to local news, were littered with stories about Muslim boys and Hindu girls getting together, or strong statements by parents opposing such unions. Don’t Hindu boys get together with Muslim girls or did the media not report it? “No, our boys are too sanskari (cultured),” he replied.

A few hours ago, the head of Bajrang Dal in west UP, Balraj Doongar, had put forward the Sangh’s favourite theory of ‘love jihad’ – of Muslim men getting Hindu women. The fact that a mainstream journalist was repeating the theory showed how this narrative was spreading.

But the other side appeared as bitter and extreme, for in Budhana, we met Haji Dilshad, a tyre shop owner, who was sitting with a group of men. When asked why women were at the centre of so many disputes, Dilshad said, “This boy and girl business has always happened. But it does not mean we can accept it. Hindus should stay with Hindus and Muslims with Muslims.”

But was it true that it was usually Muslim boys and Hindu girls and not vice versa who got together? Dilshad responded angrily, “Their women came and were lying on this very cot right after the evening namaaz sometime back. Who is trapping whom?” His son, an 18-year-old Mohammed Umeed, added, “Go to rural areas. And you will find it is the Hindu boys who take our women.”…



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Why there would be communal incidents, but no large-scale bloodshed in UP – By Prashant Jha (Aug 9, 2014, Hindustan Times)

A little over ten days ago, a man went to a clothes shop in Charthawal in Muzaffarnagar. The shop owner reportedly asked his customer to pay back his debts. They argued, mobilised people, and got into a clash. And before one knew it, the market shut down. The owner was a Hindu, the customer a Muslim, and instead of being seen as a spat over a financial transaction, it became a communal incident.

“Tensions occurred earlier too. Didn’t people fight?” asks AP Gautam, head of the Shahpur police post in the district, when asked if communal incidents had increased. “But now the role of rumours have become stronger, and there is added religiosity.”

He recounts another similar incident where a Hindu motorcyclist hit a Muslim girl; she wasn’t hurt but Muslim boys of the area beat him up. “It was a small thing, but it shows that people are always willing to confront each other. Then the media reported it and fuelled things further.” He may be partly right about the media’s often simplistic and sensationalist reportage. But few can deny that there remains a wide gulf in Hindu and Muslim narratives, especially about the administration, in much of western UP. …

As a police official in Muzaffarnagar put it, “We will continue to see tension because society is divided and parties want it. But people don’t want to live through violence and curfew and disrupt lives; parties will suffer if that happens.” And this is why, the official reasoned, there would be communal incidents, but no large-scale bloodshed. “It will not stabilise, it will not burn.”



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Major outbreak of riots in UP will mean disastrous consequences for India – By By Ajoy Bose (Aug 8, 2014, Economic Times)

Uttar Pradesh is slowly but surely moving towards an unprecedented communal conflagration. Significantly, all four major political parties in the state – the BJP, the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the Congress – are active or passive players in this unfolding tragedy.

With over 200 million people, a major outbreak of Hindu-Muslim riots in the country’s most populous state can only have disastrous consequences for India as a whole. A recent survey revealed as many as 600 communal incidents in UP since the Narendra Modi government came to power, a further aggravation of the spate of riots, including the Muzaffarnagar carnage in the two-year-long SP rule in Lucknow.

What is more dangerous is the state’s political milieu that could ignite the simmering tensions across towns and villages. It is the combined impact of the BJP’s rejuvenated Hindutva agenda to recapture the state matched by the SP’s dogged promotion of Muslim ghetto mentality, along with the helplessness of the BSP and virtual irrelevance of the Congress, that has pushed UP to the brink.

Perhaps never before has political compulsions in the state been so inimical to communal harmony. In the short term, the local unit of the BJP gains most from the rapidly deteriorating situation. Not surprisingly, party strategists are single-mindedly pursuing ways and means to polarise the Hindu vote.

Modi’s close aide and now BJP president Amit Shah had successfully used the Hindu card in small dollops during the Lok Sabha elections mixed along with the “Achchhe Din” message and caste politics. …



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Road To Ruin – By Colin Todhunter (Aug 16, 2014, Tehelka)

Planting paddy is not an unusual sight in Chhattisgarh, described as the ‘rice bowl of central India’. But the sight of youth doing the same on the busy streets of state capital Raipur surely caught the attention of locals last week.

The act was, in fact, a protest organised by Congress workers against corruption in projects undertaken by the Public Works Department (PWD), which was uncovered in a recent CAG report submitted to the state Assembly. According to the report, the Raman Singh government has suffered huge losses owing to negligence, mismanagement and corruption in the department.

Several irregularities have surfaced in the PWD, including gross negligence in road projects. It is nothing less than a tragedy for a state where big promises are made of laying a network of roads to develop areas under the so-called the red corridor and tackle the Naxal issue. In the Naxal-hit district of Kondagaon, private contractors were paid Rs 49.02 lakh in addition to the initial cost despite an outstanding payment of Rs 2.94 crore as fine levied on them for delaying construction work by six years.…



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