IAMC Weekly News Roundup - August 21st, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 21st, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

UK Indians March For Communal Harmony (Aug 16, 2017, Countercurrents)

In a massive show of strength hundreds of Indians living in United Kingdom gathered at Tavistock Square to express their disapproval of the politics of hatred and growing incidents of mob lynching against minorities, Dalits and other marginalised sections in India. They expressed their horror how the constitutional values of secularism, pluralism, democracy and dissent are under the assault by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and other Sangh Parivar affiliates.

There were different civil society and human rights organisations who participated in the march. They include South Asian Solidarity, Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, Caste Watch, Voice of Dalit International, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, Dalit Solidarity Network and others.

At the Tavistock square, Ms Amrit Wilson spoke of the growing threat to minorities, Dalits and others in India and why we need to disapprove the culture of mob violence. The marchers then marched silently nearly about two kilometers passing through Central London’s important streets and reached the India House, Indian High Commission. They shouted slogans at the India House against the mob lynching and Narendra Modi’s government’s absolute freedom to these goons in the name of cow protection.…


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Govt ‘protecting all RSS-connected accused’, says Cong after Purohit’s bail (Aug 21, 2017, Deccan Herald)

The Congress today accused the BJP government of “protecting” all the accused “connected to the RSS” after the Supreme Court granted bail to 2008 Malegaon serial blasts case accused Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit.

The opposition party also raised questions over National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief Sharad Kumar getting two extensions and hoped that justice would be done in the Malegaon serial blasts case “without fear or favour”.

“Col Purohit gets Bail. It was expected as the present BJP Govt is protecting all the accused connected with RSS in all Bomb Blast cases (sic),” Congress leader Digivijaya Singh wrote on Twitter.…



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‘Democracy under threat from pseudo-nationalism, right-wing fanaticism’ (Aug 19, 2017, Business Standard)

Indian democracy is under threat from “pseudo-nationalism” and “right-wing fanaticism masquerading as nationalism”, a column published in Renovacao, a Goa Church periodical, has said.c”Quo Vadis India?” by Father Savio Fernandes in the latest edition of the pastoral bulletin of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, also bemoans efforts to make India a Hindu Rashtra by 2020 and rues the “political rhetoric” which is triggering hate crimes against dalits and members of the minority community.

“Competition for political and economic power has encouraged pseudo-nationalism, which uses religion as a tool to gain acceptance,” Fernandes said in the column.… The constitution, the Catholic priest says, is under threat from “right-wing” ideology, which coincides with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ascent to power.… “With the political climate change after the year 2014, the very guiding purpose and principles spelt in the preamble of the Indian constitution – Democratic, Secular, Socialist and Republic – appear to be under the worse threat for the first time after independence.”…

“Christians and Muslims are especially targets of demonisation through false propaganda. Muslims are portrayed as terrorists and loyal to Pakistan while Christians are portrayed as being agents of Portugal and anti-nationals and seeking to convert members of other religious communities through fraud/ inducement,” a statement issued by Fernandes’ Council for Social Justice and Peace had said in July.



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US religious freedom report highlights cow protection violence in India (Aug 15, 2017, Yahoo)

The US State Department has highlighted attacks in India by cow protection groups against people accused of bovine trafficking or having beef in its annual report on religious freedom, while attempting a measure of balance by also including critical mention of practices by minority religions.

The International Religious Freedom Report for 2016 (IRFR) released on Tuesday by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: “There was an increase (during 2016) in violent incidents by cow protection groups against mostly Muslim victims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation.”…

“There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytize,” the report said. “The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reported 751 conflicts between religious communities, which resulted in 97 deaths and 2,264 injuries in 2015.”…



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A Gujarat BJP MLA Wants To Ban Muslims From Buying Houses In Predominantly Hindu Neighbourhoods (Aug 21, 2017, India Times)

Sangita Patil, a BJP MLA in Gujarat, has demanded imposition of ‘Disturbed Areas Act’ in her constituency of Limbayat to prevent Muslims from acquiring residential properties of Hindus.

Patil has sent her written request for the imposition of the Act to the district collector after Hindu residents of Limbayat area of Surat city have made several representations about the issue.

‘The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991’, known as the ‘Disturbed Areas Act’, bans sale of property by a member of one religious community to a member of another community, without the prior approval of the district collector.…



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NIA probe into Kerala ‘love jihad’ is another blow to individual autonomy (Aug 17, 2017, Hindustan Times)

India at 70 is indeed doing well in terms of everything and one takes pride in seeing her coming of age as a major global power. But if the success of a liberal democracy is assessed on the basis of individualism and rights of the individual, then it seems we are going in the opposite direction. Freedom of speech is being curtailed in the name of sedition even in violation of the Supreme Court’s order that mere words do not amount to sedition. Books are banned and films are censored because we do not trust individuals anymore. The right to privacy is being curtailed in the name of the Aadhaar card and now even freedom to marry a person of one’s choice is under threat and may be termed as terrorist activity to be probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Authoritarian governments the world over do not believe in the rights discourse. They always talk in terms of larger ‘public interest’ and their jurisprudence is generally duty-centric. Indira Gandhi thus inserted Article 51A on fundamental duties.

Strangely even the apex court does not attach much significance to individual autonomy – in overruling the progressive Naz Foundation judgment of the Delhi High Court striking down the archaic Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, in not taking up the aadhaar challenge for over two years, in the kinds of questions that came from the nine-judge privacy bench and, now, in ordering an NIA probe into the marriage of a 24-year-old BHMS graduate.…



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Kerala collector who barred Mohan Bhagwat from hoisting tricolour transferred (Aug 17, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The Palakkad collector, whose orders were defied by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat by hoisting the national flag at an aided school, was transferred, though the chief minister on Thursday maintained it was a routine exercise.

The collector’s orders were apparently based on the guidelines which, among other things, stipulates that only the school principal or elected representatives could hoist the national flag in the school. Bhagwat had, however, gone ahead with hoisting the flag at the government-aided school in Palakkad district on Independence day, triggering a controversy.…

The district collector and education additional director conducted an inquiry into the matter and submitted a report. “As per the report, Vande Mataram was recited during the Independence day function at the Karnagi Amman School, in which Bhagwat participated. The national anthem was sung later when somebody pointed it out,” he said. It was also found in the inquiry that the school principal had also hoisted the national flag after Bhagwat’s function there, he said. The flag was hoisted in two locations at the school premises, Vijayan said adding that it was done violating the government directive.…



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Principal heckled for hoisting tricolour with shoes on (Aug 17, 2017, India Today)

The Nizamabad police arrested 16 persons for allegedly obstructing the principal of a government college from hoisting the national flag on the Independence Day on August 15. They demanded that the principal remove his shoes before unfurling the tricolour.…

According to Armoor (Rural) police inspector Narashimha Swamy, the group of men allegedly gheraoed and heckled Mohammed Yaqeenuddin, the principal of the government Junior College in Ailapur village near Nizamabad, for hoisting the national flag with shoes on.…

Reacting to the incident, MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted, “Every BJP chief Minister was wearing shoes, will they protest and assault them only because the principal is a Muslim…



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Gorakhpur tragedy: Allegations against Kafeel Ahmed are false, reveal Hindutva brigade’s bigotry (Aug 16, 2017, First Post)

His name is Kafeel Ahmed Khan. So, how could he have been a hero? The sustained attack on Khan, hailed as a hero by the media for trying to save lives of children at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College, once again underlines the bigotry burning the soul of India. It tells us how the battle for imagined grievances, settling communal scores has numbed our senses. We have come to a point where, for some, the sound of applause for an Indian Muslim is so unbearable that it immediately needs to be buried under louder chants of “traitor, thief, and criminal”.

We will look at some of the baseless and fictitious charges hurled at Khan later; dissect them on the basis of evidence on record. But, first, the demands for Khan’s evisceration and public shaming need to be understood for what they are: a diseased section’s refusal – verging on hysteria – to let anything counter the propaganda that India’s religious minorities are incapable of being conscientious citizens of India (or anywhere in the world).…

It is, of course, a classic red-herring, a diversionary tactic. The Gorakhpur tragedy is a blot on India. More than 70 (and counting) infants died within a week because the Uttar Pradesh government and BRD Medical College administration allowed it to turn into a death trap by not paying in time for maintaining the supply of oxygen. In any other country with a conscience, morals and a rule of law, this would have been unequivocally called murder by dereliction of duty.… The reaction of the government has been both appalling and mind-boggling. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known for timely tweets on tragedies even in Europe, has been unusually silent.…



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2,700 booked for Vadodara clash in Gujarat (Aug 12, 2017, Indian Express)

A day after communal clash in the old city area of Vadodara, police on Friday booked 2,700 people for rioting and also planned a public rally in the presence of MoS Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja to instil “a sense of law and order” among the public. Commissioner of Police (CP) Manoj Sashidhar said the rally would be organised on Saturday ahead of the upcoming festivities in the city.

According to police inspector M D Puwar, unidentified person pelted stones from Masum Chember Lane on a Ganesh procession on Mandvi-Panigate road, which triggered the clash. Police said the dispute was over playing loudspeaker in the procession.…

Assistant Commissioner of Police V P Gamit said several vehicles were damaged, including torching of seven two-wheelers. “A shop was also torched. Police had to lob 39 tear gas cells. Nine people, including four policemen, sustained minor injuries,” said Gamit. Puwar said a probe had been initiated. “We are checking CCTV footage of the area. We are also trying to find out how the electricity supply got disconnected,” said Puwar.…



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SC forces 2 Gujarat cops in Ishrat and Sohrabuddin cases to quit (Aug 18, 2017, Times of India)

In a repeat of the process that displaced Gujarat DGP P P Pandey four months ago, the Supreme Court on Thursday forced police officers N K Amin and Tarun Barot, who like Pandey were accused in fake encounter cases, to resign from post-retirement posts.

Amin was an accused in the Sohrabuddin encounter case. Given a clean chit by the trial court last year after being accused of disposing of the body of Sohrabuddin’s wife, Kausarbi, in 2005, Amin retired as superintendent of police in August 2016 but was re-appointed SP of Mahisagar district by the Gujarat government for a period of one year.

Barot, who was an accused in the Ishrat Jahan encountercase, was re-appointed as deputy SP with Western Railways in Vadodara for a year after his retirement. Both the cases were probed as “fake encounters”. On March 29, the Gujarat HC had dismissed a PIL filed by former IPS offi cer Rahul Sharma, who had challenged the one-year service extension to Amin and Barot -specialists in encounters -after their retirement.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Three years of Modi government goes in vain – By Bharat Jhunjhunwala (Aug 19, 2017, Free Press Journal)

While assuming the command of the country as Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi had promised MPs of his party that he will return with his report card in five years, that is, before the 2019 general elections. Now, three years later, he has said from the ramparts of the Red Fort that he will double the incomes of the farmers in the next 5 years, that is, by 2022.

two statements read together indicate that Mr. Modi expected to give results in 5 years in 2014; he continues to expect to give results after the same 5 years in 2017. The time frame has shifted forward by three years in three years; or that nothing substantial has happened in the last 3 years. One reason is that the economic policies implemented by Mr. Modi are pushing Indian economy into a long-term stagnation.…

The fact that the growth rate is declining under the stewardship of Mr. Modi means that the national income is being used more for consumption and less for investment. This decline is wholly due to increased consumption by the Government because there is a shift in income from the people to the Government. The investment by private businesses is declining due to higher tax collection; and the Government is consuming more. Thus there is stagnation in growth rates.…



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India at 70: bigotry rules – By N. Jayaram (Aug 16, 2017, Sabrang India)

As India marks 70 years of independence today (August 15), two events of the past week illustrate the predicament a country that often preens itself as the world’s largest democracy finds itself in. One was a vitriolic and graceless speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a farewell ceremony for Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who was stepping down after two terms as Vice-President.

The other a prominent television anchor declaring that a panellist’s mention of the deaths of dozens of children in a hospital in Uttar Pradesh state was an attempt to divert attention from the real issue, which in her opinion was the rectitude of the state government’s order to Muslim schools to celebrate Independence Day with the recitation of a nationalist song entitled Vande Mataram (salute the motherland).…

It encapsulated in a few moments, along with Modi’s venom-filled speech, all that has gone wrong with India over the past 70 years. Instead of emerging as a vibrant, modern democracy, it is being led down an antediluvian path towards medieval bigotry.



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Patriotism does not need ‘song’ test – By SS Dhawan (Aug 18, 2017, Free Press Journal)

Patriotism is too sublime and spontaneous an emotion to inhabit the narrow confines of a song; or to be tethered to catchwords; to be held captive by a political discourse that is tribal and toxic; and to be anchored to an idiom of hate. Provoking a community – which took a conscious decision not to migrate to Pakistan at the time of partition – and subjecting it to a patriotic ‘song test’ is absurd; you are almost questioning the implicit relationship of trust that citizens have with their country.

A citizen’s patriotism is a ‘given’ in this template for which he does not have to furnish a certificate; and we are all bound not by religion or any other identity but by our allegiance to the Constitution. Muslims like to wear religion up their sleeve but that is not a good enough reason to question their patriotism. Because such chest thumping demands by jingoists – that, for instance, pit the ‘national song’ against the national anthem by suggesting that one is more patriotic than the other – is a manifestation of their own scorn for the Constitution.

So, it will be equally ludicrous of me to beseech, in a ‘patriotic moment,’ any organisation and ask it to replace their morning prayer with ‘Ae mere watan ke logon’ – my daily morning chant. Because I cannot question their lyrical idiosyncrasies, just as they cannot question mine! Nor can I make the outlandish demand: why don’t they sing the national anthem or the ‘national song’ rather than recite a prayer in an archaic language that I cannot understand?…



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Reclaiming the Freedom Fighters’ Past Won’t Take the BJP Very Far – By Manjari Katju (Aug 11, 2017, The Wire)

BJP’s 70 Saal Azadi, Yaad Karo Kurbani campaign on the 75th year of the Quit India Movement is ironic and interesting for two reasons, if not more: the historic events of the freedom struggle invoked by the BJP and the spirit of sacrifice of freedom fighters recalled by it. It is well known that the BJP does not have freedom fighters in its pantheon.

Also, the relationship of its founder president with the freedom struggle as also of some of the leaders it revers was fraught with problems, to say the least. While the BJP now is calling upon Indians to remember the freedom struggle, a look at the history of this struggle reveals that the BJP’s ideological roots were never in this soil of struggle and sacrifice.

To begin with, the leadership of the freedom struggle strove for a secular nation at independence rather than the establishment of some Hindu Raj. Even Gandhi’s spiritualised quest for Ramrajya did not signify a move towards theocracy. In fact, as the struggle for freedom intensified, the goal of secular nationalism, based on the unity of all communities, became increasingly etched on the banner of the national movement.…



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There Should Be No Place in India for Modi’s Uncivil Words Against Hamid Ansari – By Jawhar Sircar (Aug 17, 2017, The Wire)

…Mohammed Hamid Ansari is a seasoned diplomat, he also knows the value of each word. So when he decided to state in his last interview as vice president that there is a sense of insecurity among India’s Muslims with “the breakdown of the ability of the authorities” to enforce the law, he was very serious. He bemoaned the fact that traditional Indian values of tolerance are not visible today, when mobs are lynching Muslims on the beef ban issue.

Can we see what it was in these sentiments that could provoke the prime minister to get so personal and dismiss the brilliant career of one of India’s most dignified public figures as “just” a West Asia specialist? As a prime minister who decides to look into each and every senior posting much more than anyone else before him, and thereby delays these orders for months and years, he knows perfectly well that diplomats and civil servants do not decide their own postings.…

The message was an extension of the one the BJP put out before the Uttar Pradesh polls, when it did not put forth even a single Muslim candidate. This message is that ‘Muslims just do not matter and we do not care about them’. We have to see how long this ruthless, immoral electoral calculus will continue to work for them. What such repeated messages will instigate in the less patient section of the 18 crore Muslims of India is yet to be seen. While extremists on both sides may soon be ready for more violence, the great civilisation called India will not be.



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Gorakhpur is What Happens When a Communal Agenda is Passed Off as ‘Good Governance’ – By Swati Chaturvedi (Aug 17, 2017, The Wire)

…Adityanath – a five term MP from Gorakhpur, where he is still the incumbent parliamentarian – has led a shambolic government for the past four months. The still unfolding tragedy at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur, where more than 60 children suffering from encephalitis and other ailments died over the past five days, is a pointer to his disastrous governance.

The BJP went to the polls in UP with Modi’s face and did not declare a chief ministerial candidate. Party president Amit Shah also signalled the party’s indifference towards Muslims – who form 19% of the state’s population – by not giving a single ticket to a Muslim candidate. In its election campaign, the BJP blatantly sought to consolidate Hindu votes by using ‘dog whistle’ issues to polarise views against the community.…

Consider Adityanath’s track record and his four months in office, and it’s clear that we need to hold him and the BJP accountable. Dog whistles being passed off as “good governance” are a recipe for tragedy. As Arun Shourie once observed, “Modi thinks by managing headlines he’s managing events. Events have a terrible way of overtaking us”.



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