IAMC Weekly News Roundup - August 17th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 17th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


Indian Americans celebrate India Independence Day, call for unified action to secure life, liberty and justice for all

IAMC calls the defense of secularism in India a struggle to save the soul of the nation

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has joined millions of people of Indian origin, living in India and across the world, in celebrating the nation’s 69th Independence Day. IAMC today participated in the India Day celebrations in Michigan, organized by a large group of community organizations to mark the joyous occasion. The event was attended by over 25,000 people from the Indian American community, with Padma Shri award winner Milkha Singh as the chief guest.

It is noteworthy that India’s freedom struggle was a truly nationalistic effort, undertaken by people of all faiths, including countless Muslims. Among the thousands who laid down their lives for India’s freedom were hundreds of Muslim scholars and individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy the fruits of liberty.

While celebrating India’s freedom from colonial rule, the stark reality is that its continued existence as a pluralist, secular society is threatened by the destructive fervor of a divisive ideology that mirrors fascism in its brutality and jaundiced worldview. Focusing our attention and resources to meeting this challenge is the need of the hour, for all Indians who care about the nation’s future. It is therefore important to mark Independence Day not only as a celebration of India’s freedom and democracy, but also as a means of overtly expressing solidarity and unity against fascist forces that threaten these ideals.

The long list of gravely disturbing events in the recent past includes physical violence, arson, desecration of churches and attempts to forcibly “reconvert” thousands of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism, all documented in the recent 2015 Annual Report of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom.

There is a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation of human rights activists and whistleblowers as well as a crackdown on renowned international organizations such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International and the Ford Foundation when they have taken positions that are critical of the government. These have grave implications for freedom of dissent and the future of civil society institutions in India.

Outrageously misogynistic remarks such as calling rape “sometime right, sometimes wrong,” have come from politicians in positions of power within the ruling party, while inflammatory calls for the disenfranchisement of Muslims and calls for the forced sterilization of Muslims and Christians from prominent individuals within the Hindutva movement have not been censured by the administration.

While the country may have unshackled itself from the yoke of colonial rule in 1947, a genuine and lasting freedom will come when the state truly considers all citizens as equal before the law, and when the government considers safeguarding the constitution as its primary obligation; more important than any ideological loyalties.

“As we celebrate Independence Day, true patriotism requires that we acknowledge the profound challenges in front of us and marshal all resources to address them,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC). “Rapid erosion of religious freedom and civil liberties, at the behest of the government itself, requires the citizenry to step up to the challenge of saving the nation and its institutions from bigotry,” added Mr. Malick.

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

Indian American Muslim Council
Phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
Facebook: Indian American Muslim Council
Twitter: @IAMCouncil
Address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.

India League of America – Michigan: India Day Celebrations

USCIRF Report 2015: Chapter on India

Modi government’s hounding of Teesta Setalvad is a message to all dissidents

U.S. Ambassador Criticizes India’s Crackdown on Charities and Activist Groups

Indian Political Party Advocates the Denial of Voting Rights for Muslims

Hindu Mahasabha leader calls for forcible sterilization of Christians and Muslims

‘Reconversion’ of Religious Minorities Roils India’s Politics

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Gujarat riots: SIT opposes Zakia Jafri’s demand for further probe (Aug 13, 2015, Indian Express)

The special investigation team (SIT) on Thursday opposed in the Gujarat High Court the demand by Zakia Jafri for further investigation against the agency’s closure report on her complaint regarding the 2002 post-Godhra riots. Jafri’s husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed in the riots. She has alleged a wider conspiracy, involving the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others, behind the riots.

The Supreme Court-appointed SIT, in its report on her complaint before the magistrate, however gave a clean chit to all of them. The Supreme Court, at all stages, was satisfied with the investigation of SIT, said senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, SIT lawyer, arguing before Justice Sonia Gokani on Thursday.

The magistrate who upheld SIT’s closure report could not have ordered further probe (as demanded by Jafri) because it would have been contrary to the Supreme Court’s order, he said. “Had the magistrate directed further investigation, not only he would be sitting on the Supreme Court judgement, but it would be contrary to the Supreme Court judgement.…



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BJP workers held for ‘posing’ as census officials in Muslim areas (Aug 13, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Five BJP women’s wing activists were arrested by the police in a Muslim dominated area of Bengaluru on Wednesday evening after locals accused them of trying to steal their voter ID cards. While the women told the police that they were campaigning for the civic polls scheduled for August 22, residents of Siddapura (ward number 144) lodged an FIR saying the women were trying to con them into parting with their voting cards.

“Five women came into my house around 5pm and told me they were from the census department. They asked me to show them my voting card. When I showed them the card, they said it was no longer valid and tried to take it away,” Shamsunissa (62) told HT. There was some tension in the area after hundreds surrounded the women workers, but police escorted them to the safety of a jeep.

Shamsunissa said that just when she was questioning the women, dozens of men from her locality barged into the house shouting “chor-chor” (thief). “The men asked the women for their ID cards and there was confusion. After a few minutes, the women started crying and confessed that they were BJP workers,” she said.…



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One killed while making bombs at BJP leader house in West Bengal (Aug 17, 2015, Twocircles.net)

One man killed and another was seriously injured as a result of a heavy explosion at an apartment owned by a BJP leader in the Dumdum airport area of Kolkata on the Independence Day. Police have arrested the apartment owner Manik Das Baidya along with his two sons. Baidya has twice contested the municipal election on BJP ticket.

The intensity of the blast collapsed the wall and damaged parts of a room. The explosion took place not far from the Kolkata Airport, from where Hajj tour of West Bengal pilgrims started on August 16th. Before the Independence day Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee had said state intelligence agency has indicated that some groups are trying to disturb the peaceful situation in the state.

Surprisingly no leading media highlighted this explosion in West Bengal, Even National Investigating Agency (NIA) has not responded about this blast. Beside this blast, on Friday Kolkata police recovered 22 bag raw materials of explosives from a Godown at Barabazar area including 500 kg Sulphur, 600 kg Ammonium Nitrate etc., according to a CID officer of Kolkata Police.…



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Complaint filed against Tehelka magazine after its cover story referred to Bal Thackeray as terrorist (Aug 16, 2015, IBN)

A complaint has been filed against Tehelka magazine in Mumbai after a recent cover story referred featured former Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray as terrorist.

The cover story also featured underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon and Khalistani terror leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The magazine referred to all four as terrorists.

The complaint was filed by a member of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Bala Nandgaonkar said, “Tehelka magazine should be banned immediately. The editor Mathew Samuel should be arrested immediately. He has tried to create rift between two cultures.” Lawyer Rajendra Shirodkar said, “The police should file a case against Tehelka- the editor should be arrested under non-bailable offences.”



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Supreme Court comes down on Manipur govt; calls encounter killings ‘fake’ (Aug 10, 2015, DNA India)

The Supreme Court on Monday said the fact that compensation has been paid to the next of kin of victims of security forces’ encounter killings in Manipur “amply indicate” that such encounters were fake. It asked Manipur government to apprise the court of the steps taken after compensations were paid to kith and kin of deceased persons. “If you think it was a valid encounter, then why are you paying compensation? Have you challenged any of the orders?” the social justice bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and UU Lalit said.

The bench said that the fact that the compensation has been paid to the next relatives of the deceased “amply indicate” that encounters were fake and the question would be “were they valid”.

It gave the instance 2001 Parliament attack case and said “no court awarded compensation to the relatives of the accused (terrorists).” However, senior advocate V Giri, appearing for the state government, said that the payment of compensation on the directions of the court is not an admission of an alleged offence.…



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AIMPLB calls conclave to push its fight against ‘Vedic culture, Brahmin dharma’ (Aug 13, 2015, Indian Express)

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has given a clarion call to the minority organisations, institutions and the Imams of mosques to fight against central government’s “sinister design” of imposing the “Vedic culture and Brahmin dharma”. The AIMPLB will push forward the agenda during its first conclave of clerics, Imams, qazis and heads of minority schools and colleges on August 17 in Bhopal.

The conclave is being held to implement the resolution the AIMPLB’s working committee had passed in June targetting the central government for propagating yoga, surya namaskar and vande matram in educational institutes. The resolution had termed these as “part of Brahmin dharma and against the ideology of Muslims”.

“There is a serious threat to our religion. There is a sinister design to impose ‘Brahmin dharma’ through yoga, surya namaskar and Vedic culture. They all are against Islamic beliefs. We need to awaken our community for launching a protest on a large scale,” Maulana Wali Rehmani, working general secretary of AIMPLB told The Indian Express.…



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Muslim group plans to study ‘saffronisation’ of education (Aug 17, 2015, Indian Express)

A city-based minority organisation, Ahmedabad Muslim Graduate Association, on Sunday said it would form a committee to assess “saffronisation” of education in Gujarat and submit its report to the state government.

“We would definitely raise the issue of increasing instances of saffronisation of the education system, recently seen in a more overt manner,” said Habib Shaikh, secretary of the association. The group also held a meeting at Danilimda here Sunday morning to discuss education and the social issues facing the minority population. It was attended by representatives from various districts.

Speaking against making yoga compulsory in schools, Shaikh said, “The decision should be left to students whether they want to practice it (yoga) or not.” President of the association Badruddin Shaikh, also leader of the Opposition in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, announced the group would be “equally active” in all other districts to provide a platform to the minority community to raise local issues with the administration.…



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After 3 Years of Protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, Police Action on These Villagers Came at Midnight (Aug 10, 2015, NDTV)

Late on Sunday night, several families from Haryana’s Hisar, protesting at Jantar Mantar in the centre of Delhi for nearly three years, were allegedly driven out by the police who used batons. Volunteers of former Aam Aadmi Party leader Yogendra Yadav’s “Swaraj Abhiyaan” party, who were passing by, allegedly tried to step in and were also beaten.

The families had been protesting since 2012 against alleged atrocities by upper caste Jats in their village. They allege that only when they announced that they were converted to Islam, did the authorities react. Protesters and witnesses say at around midnight on Sunday, Delhi policemen tried to remove them by hitting them with canes.

“15-20 policemen attacked us at night, some were in civilian uniform. They hit me so hard my face is still numb. Police asked us to leave the protest site saying we have no permission. But we have nowhere to go… we have been evicted from our own village,” said Jagdish, who says he has converted.…



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Another self-appointed godman arrrested over charges of sexual assault in Delhi (Aug 12, 2015, IBN)

Another case of self appointed godman has come to light in Delhi. The police has arrested the godman on charges of sexual assault. As per Police sources, a women suffering from medical ailment met the accused who then offered to help heal her. She was then sexually assaulted after which the accused fled from the spot. The incident happened seven months ago. The police could only grab the accused after his mobile was put on surveillance.

Recently self-appointed godmans such Asaram, Nithyananda, Nirmal Baba and Radhe Maa have been facing controversy over various issues. Radhe Maa has been accused of instigating family of seven to commit suicide in Gujarat and also of domestic violence and torture on one of her disciples. Asaram is in jail since August 2013, for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor girl. He was arrested after the 16-year-old girl lodged a police complaint in August 20,2014 alleging that the self-styled godman sexually assaulted her at his ashram in Jodhpur.

Cases have been filed against Nirmal baba in Bihar where a local court issued a non-bailable warrant in connection with a cheating and forgery case. Swami Nithyananda too has been arrested on the charges of sexually exploiting a Tamil film actress after CD featuring them was leaked to the media.



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Repeal Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, govt urged (Aug 11, 2015, Ummid.com)

Sporting black badges on their shoulders and holding black flags in their hands, over 200 Christians and Muslims on Monday protested outisde the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi demanding equal rights for Dalit converts. The day, observed as ‘Black Day’ both by Christians and Muslims, coincides with August 10, 1950 when India’s first president Rajendra Prasad signed the 1950 presidential decree denying special rights to non-Hindus.

The parliament amended the order in 1956 to include Sikhs and in 1990 to extend the benefits to Buddhists. Christians and Muslims have been excluded under the pretext that their religions do not recognize the caste system. The Indian constitution guarantees a reservation of government jobs and places in educational institutions for dalits and other underprivileged classes.

However, Christian and Muslim dalits are denied these benefits on the ground that their religions do not recognize the caste system. “There is no untouchability in any religion but it exists in the soil of India. Indian Christians live in a society where people are discriminated against on this basis,” John Dayal, a member of the National Integration Council, is quoted by ucanews.com.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Are Hindu nationalists a danger to other Indians? – By Divya Arya (Aug 12, 2015, BBC)

A little more than a year since Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP swept to power in India, there are fears that religiously motivated violence may be on the rise. Some say the BJP has bred a culture of intolerance towards minorities that has left even Hindus nervous of speaking out.

Just before Christmas the church of St Sebastian in Delhi was gutted by fire – one of five churches in the capital to have been attacked in the past year. The pastor of St Sebastian’s, Father Anthony Francis, didn’t believe the police theory that the fire was caused by a short circuit so started gathering evidence himself.…

India’s much larger Muslim minority has also been under pressure. In the months leading up to last year’s election, violence flared between Muslims and Hindus in the town of Muzaffarnagar, 100km (62 miles) north of Delhi, leaving more than 60 people dead. While no riots on that scale have occurred since, smaller incidents are common.…



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Why PM Modi failed to impress in his second I-Day speech – By Prashant Jha (Aug 15, 2015, Hindustan Times)

For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, replicating the performance of his first Independence Day address would have been a difficult task. His speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort last year was masterful.… The context, however, had changed by the time he arrived at Red Fort this year.

There is no national crisis, but the enthusiasm has partly faded. A narrative has built up about how the Prime Minister is losing the plot; it is business as usual; and India is again unable to tackle the core governance challenges it confronts.

Traces of disillusionment have set in among key constituencies which supported Modi during the polls –army veterans angry about one rank one pension (OROP); young people who cannot yet see the jobs they had been promised; corporate India which is not satisfied at the rate of reforms; farmers who have seen a tough year.…



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Modasa – It is Just a Beginning: How Hindutva Supremacists are Rushing to Give Themselves Clean Chit in Terror-Related Cases – By Subhash Gatade (Aug 15, 2015, Mainstream)

Are investigations into the Hindutva terror-related cases changing course? A series of apparently unconnected developments definitely strengthen that belief. Close on the heels of renowned public prosecutor Rohini Salian’s revelation that she is being pressurised to go slow on the Malegaon bomb blast case (2008), the news of a number of witnesses turning hostile in the Ajmer bomb blast case (2007) and the sudden decision of the NIA to shift the Sunil Joshi murder case back to MP, has come the news that the NIA has finally decided to close the Modasa bomb blast case citing ‘insufficient evidence’.

As is being rightly said, it is the first concrete indication that with the assumption of power by the BJP, a shift in emphasis is visible in the investigations into the Hindutvaterror-related cases. Perhaps an indication of the changed times is the statement by a senior Minister that there is ‘nothing like Hindu terror in the country’ despite being aware of the fact that the NIA, the premier investigating agency formed after the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai to focus on terror-related cases, is handling at least sixteen high-profile cases supposedly involving Hindutva terrorists and many of their top bosses are still under the scanner.

The bomb blast at Modasa, a part of Sabarkantha district then and recently made into a separate district, which witnessed one death and injuries to many, is one of the least explored bomb blasts in the country. The following write-up tries to dissect the blast, discusses the prevalent ambience then when bombs were discovered at different places without anyone claiming responsibility for those, the interim findings of the NIA when it took over the particular case during the UPA-II regime and the announcement by the then Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, that the Central probe agency has achieved a “breakthrough” in the 2008 Modasa (Gujarat) blast case.…



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Why Indian Muslims can no longer be ignored – By Shehzad Poonawalla (Aug 12, 2015, Daily O)

It would perhaps be a revelation for many that the Indian Muslim voter carries influence in over 200 Lok Sabha seats across India where he or she constitutes a minimum of 11 per cent of the popular vote. Yet the share of the Indian Muslim in the political space of India, nationally and regionally, has been negligible so far and continues to decline steadily, leading to a serious question mark on the inclusive nature of our polity and the myopic nature of political strategies, prevalent in all “secular” parties, when it comes to Muslims.

In the current Lok Sabha for instance, Muslim representation went down to a historic low of 22 seats. Muslims constitute 14.2 per cent as per the 2011 Census so proportionally speaking they should have had 77 seats in the 16th Lok Sabha. Thus, the under-representation rate stands at a whopping 71.42 per cent for Indian Muslims.

Since independence, the highest number of Muslim MPs ever sent to Parliament was 49 in 1980 and even back then Muslims were under-represented. This has been a phenomenon Indian Muslims are contending with since the first General Election in 1952. Although the BJP did coin a phrase of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” in the run-up to the 2014 elections, acknowledging the importance of appealing to the minority vote, by making a perceptional shift in its brand of politics, it did not take the extra step of providing due representation to Muslims.…



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Goa’s Watergate Scandal – By Pushpa Iyengar (Aug 17, 2015, Outlook)

Sun, sand and corruption! That seems to be Goa’s new mantra as another major scandal hits the state. It is Goa’s own Watergate, and it has hogged headlines for nearly a month now, offering another example of how politicians here have shamed the people with their brazen acts. This one could be a game changer.…

The latest scandal involved an American company called Louis Berger International. It was part of a consortium for a project initiated by the state government to expand, rehabilitate and build water and sewerage facilities. The New Jersey-based construction company had admitted to paying $ 976,000 in 2010 (then about Rs 45 crore) in bribes for the JICA (Japanese International Corporation Agency) project. …

But the BJP is Mickky’s supporter only because of his political clout in south Goa, being a rival of Churchill. Mickky ducked the law for almost two months after his conviction was upheld earlier this year. No one believes he could have managed that unless the police was put on a tight leash by their masters. In fact, rumours did the rounds that he was hiding from police at Parrikar’s bungalow in Delhi!



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Radhe Maa: Why is India’s ‘godwoman’ in the news? – By Geeta Pandey (Aug 14, 2015, BBC)

According to her followers, Radhe Maa – or mother Radhe – is a reincarnation of the fiery Hindu goddess Durga, has supernatural powers and can perform miracles. Reports say her religious congregations draw thousands. The attractive 50-year-old is known to dance with her devotees and allows them to lift and carry her. She blesses them by letting them kiss her hand – the more privileged among them can even plant a peck on her cheek.…

“Around the age of 23, she decided that she was no longer a householder and dedicated herself completely to God”, it adds. A few years later, she moved to Mumbai, and today has travelled a long way from her humble beginnings. Today, through her trust, she runs two ashrams (communes) where her gatherings are attended by several hundred people at a time. Apart from all her red and gold finery, she also owns several luxury cars.

But in the last few days, her charmed life has begun to unravel and she is increasingly being painted as another charlatan defrauding the gullible by pretending to have direct access to gods and goddesses. Last week, the organisers of the one of India’s biggest Hindu festivals, the Kumbh Mela, barred her from attending the congregation until she was cleared of all charges in a dowry harassment case. The charges against her have been levelled by a 32-year-old woman who lodged a police complaint in Mumbai alleging that her husband’s family had harassed her and demanded more dowry from her on Radhe Maa’s instigation.…



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