IAMC Weekly News Roundup - August 22nd, 2016 - IAMC
no-image IAMC

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 22nd, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


Indian Americans demand withdrawal of sedition case against Amnesty International India

Malicious case is intended to suppress dissent and create fear among NGOs and activists

August 21, 2016

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy organization dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has condemned the filing of a case of sedition against Amnesty International India over claims that slogans favoring Kashmiri independence were raised at an event organized by the reputed human rights organization in Bengaluru last Monday.

“The fact that the Bengaluru Police has registered the case at the behest of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is indicative of the political and ideological motivations behind it,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of IAMC. “Clearly, the aim is to silence views and opinions contrary to the shrill nationalist construct of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS),” added Mr. Malick.

IAMC has expressed solidarity with Amnesty and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the case. Not only does the police action violate India’s constitutional promise of free speech, it is significant to note that Amnesty’s event had been called to discuss the issue of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, a topic by no means anti-national or seditious. The violation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir over several decades, both by State and non-State actors, is a matter of fact and has been acknowledged even by the Indian judiciary, from time to time. The international community too has been unsparing in its criticism of such violations.

It may be recalled that last March the ABVP had leveled a similar allegation of “azadi” slogans being raised at a public event in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University that had led to the arrests of JNU students, including its current students’ union president. That illiberal, anti-democratic campaign by the ABVP too was widely condemned and eventually exposed as nothing more than a brute attempt by show of strength to forestall any discussion of the state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir.

The police action against Amnesty is completely characteristic of the regressive attitude of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government which has, since taking power in May 2014, carried out a witch-hunt and vendetta against hundreds of national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Many of these have long worked in India across various social sectors, especially in human rights and civil liberties.

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://iamc.com


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

Amnesty International India Denies Sedition Allegations

Space for Civil Society and dissent is shrinking; Amnesty International India Executive Director

Amnesty shuts office on police advice

[Back to Top]

Communal Harmony

Sadbhavana Yatra for peace and social harmony (Aug 22, 2016, The Hindu)

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, as part of its nation-wide campaign for peace and social harmony, launched ‘Sadbhavana Yatra’ here on Sunday. The JIH State president, Hameed Mohammed Khan, flagged off the yatra.

Talking to media persons earlier, he said at this moment, the nation needs peace, tranquillity and social harmony as certain incidents that occurred recently posed a threat to the very existence of its unity and integrity. Animosity rooted in religion which is on the rise would likely lead to group clashes, he said.

The yatra was launched all over the country to promote religious harmony, brotherhood and social and national integrity. Members from all religions, peoples’ organisations and intellectuals would be roped in for the yatra, he added.…



[Back to Top]

Govt is weakening democratic foundations by targeting human rights groups (Aug 23, 2016, DNA India)

Acting on complaints filed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the Bengalaru police on August 15, 2016, filed a case of sedition against Amnesty International India. The charge may be laughable but the message is clear. The student wing of the BJP is certain that whenever it hollers sedition, the police will take accusations with utmost seriousness.

It appears that any vigilante group that vociferously and violently objects to civil society activism is assured that its complaints, howsoever unwarranted they may be, will command instant action by agents of the State. More significantly the group will not be penalised even if it has transgressed the rule of law, and the fundamental right to association and freedom of expression.

But the transgression of these two rights by the State or by vigilantes seriously compromises democracy. There is much more to democracy than elections that bring a party and its ideological cohorts to power. Universal adult franchise validates the belief that ordinary people possess the political competence to vote governments in and out of power.…



[Back to Top]

Kerala: BJP worker dies as bomb made by him explodes (Aug 21, 2016, First Post)

A 27 year-old BJP worker died when a country bomb which he was allegedly making exploded at his residence in Koothuparambu on Sunday, police said.

Deekshit was seriously injured in the blast and died while being rushed to a hospital, they said.

The roof of the house where he was “making” the bomb was destroyed in the blast, they further said.



[Back to Top]

CBI to probe murder of couple who questioned son’s ‘fake encounter’ (Aug 15, 2016, Indian Express))

The Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) has initiated an investigation into the murders of an elderly couple who had been relentlessly pursuing the case of their son’s death in an alleged fake encounter in 2007.

In April last year, Brajendra Gupta (70) and his wife Shanno Devi (66) were found dead in their home in Badaun district. Their decomposed bodies bore injury marks inflicted by a sharp weapon in several areas including their throats.

Since the Badaun police failed to make any headway, the state government wrote to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs recommending a CBI investigation. “CBI has taken up the case on the recommendation of the Uttar Pradesh government. An FIR has been lodged and we will soon leave for Badaun to visit the site of the incident,” said an officer.…



[Back to Top]

Police reforms must to battle communal mindset: Ex-top cop (Aug 16, 2016, Business Standard))

India needs to carry out police reforms at the earliest to rid young recruits of the poison of communalism when they sign up, a retired senior police officer has said. Security forces should also be made accountable if and when communal riots erupt, retired Director General Of Police Vibhuti Narain Rai said.…

“I don’t think today’s intolerance level is even a fraction of what we saw in the 1980s when communal passions were soaring high,” Rai told IANS. He said the kind of communal divide one saw in the 1980s cannot be created now, “however hard the Hindutva forces may try”.

One reason for this is the pro-active media, “especially the electronic and social media… You cannot perpetrate such a brutality these days and get away with it,” Rai said, referring to the Hashimpura massacre, which was the first case in Indiaof mass custodial killings. “A large section of Hindus are fed up with communal politics. They voted Narendra Modi for development, not for communal reasons,” Rai said.



[Back to Top]

Two Hindu Munnani activists arrested for ransacking mosque (Aug 17, 2016, Times of India)

Police arrested a Hindu Munnani cadre and his friend on Monday on charges of attacking an imam of a mosque and ransacking it after an unidentified person hurled a bottle at speakers at a public meeting of Hindu Munnani on Sunday night. The arrested people were identified as C Balanand, 23, a Hindu Munnani cadre from Periyar Nagar and his friend D Poornakumar, 36 from the same locality. Police launched a hunt for other people involved in the violence.

Police booked them under Sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 294 B (obscene acts and songs), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian penal code and produced them before a local court that remanded them in judicial custody.

Meanwhile Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) condemned the attack on imam and mosque and sought stringent action against the assaulters at the earliest.…



[Back to Top]

Introducing Surya Namaskar in BMC schools BJP’s Hindutva agenda: Samajwadi Party (Aug 19, 2016, India Today)

Samajwadi Party has termed BJP’s move to introduce Surya Namaskar in BMC school as a Hindutva agenda.…

This move of BJP has been opposed by Samajwadi Party at BMC. The party feels that the move is BJP’s agenda to spread Hindutva through Surya Namaskar. Moreover, if the practice of Surya Namaskar gets compulsory in BMC schools then Samajwadi Party demands Salam Alaikum or Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim, a note used by Muslims before beginning anything should be made mandatory as well.

“It’s their clear cut agenda to spread Hindutva through Surya Namaskar. There is physical training period in schools where we can introduce physical training course,” said party corporator Rais Shaikh.…



[Back to Top]

Modi a mediocre leader, efficient in riots, economic adviser Subramanian had told US: BJP hardliner Swamy (Aug 21, 2016, Counterview)

Close on the heels of the appointment of Urjit Patel, formerly with International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Reliance Industries Ltd, as the new Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor, hardline BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy has stepped up his attack on Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser (CEA) of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

Swamy, who controversially criticized outgoing RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s alleged allegiance to the US being a green card holder, tweeted on Sunday that Subramanian called Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a mediocre leader, efficient in riots” and “asked the US to grill India in World Trade Organization for drub companies market access.”

Ending with the exclamation mark “tolerance!”, Swamy’s tweet is followed by his supporters wondering as to why was Subramanian appointed CEA when he had “appealed to the US to initiate disputes against India before the WTO”. Another tweeted, “It’s okay if he berated an individual not if he acted against Indian interests.” A third one called Subramanian a “US infiltrator”.…



[Back to Top]

‘Cow politics is main Sangh agenda in Hindutva lab’ (Aug 19, 2016, Times of India)

Though cattle vigilantism has been a pet topic for the Sangh Parivar since the 1960s and stray attacks have taken place in the coastal region, things took a serious turn in 2005 when a 60-year-old cattle trader and his son were dragged into an open ground by a 50-member right-wing group, disrobed and assaulted in front of over 500 onlookers.…

“Cow vigilantism has been the main agenda of the Sangh Parivar, which had considered Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts as a ‘Hindutva laboratory’,” said Suresh Bhat Bakrabail, a member of the Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum who has been actively chronicling communal incidents reported in the region. He says there have been at least seven cattle vigilantism-related deaths in the region since 2005, which have claimed the lives of two Hindus.…

In fact, right-wing groups operating in the coastal region had been keeping the issues of cow vigilantism, moral policing and hate speeches alive to up their dominance. “However, the situation appears to be going out of control in recent times with many youngsters joining gau-raksha teams with a view to make quick money through extortion. Observing the movement of cattle transport trucks and intercepting them has become an organized business for these groups,” a senior police officer who served in Dakshina Kannada district said.…



[Back to Top]

‘Cow Holy, Dalit Unholy?’: Ambedkar group raises slogan during protest rallies in USA (Aug 18, 2016, Twocircles.net)

Giving a global voice to the ongoing protests against the caste atrocities committed in India against Dalits, the Ambedkar Association of North America (AANA) took out protest marches demonstrating support for #ChaloUna Freedom march at many places in USA.

A mile-long protest rally was held on Saturday by Michigan Chapter of AANA from Hart Plaza to Detroit riverfront passing through Marriott Hotel, GM Plaza. Parallel protest marches were organized on Saturday and Friday in Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Fransisco, DC and Dallas.

The rally in Detroit was strategically organized here so as to draw maximum attention of Americans and Canadians, on the brutal and barbaric atrocities on Dalits in India and in solidarity with #ChaloUna Freedom march. The route of the rally is a major attraction area where American Canadians gathers for hart Plaza summer festivals and concerts.…



[Back to Top]

‘Khaki terror’ forces Dalits to flee homes in UP village (Aug 22, 2016, Times of India)

Every night since Independence Day, Dalit men in Saharanpur’s Usand village have been making their way to the nearby forest to spend the night while the women watch out for police jeeps. At least three Dalits have died in the village over the last week, allegedly in police excesses. While the police deny that any brutality took place, villagers here tell horror stories of how policemen and PAC personnel rained down on them with lathis and riot-gear.

Tensions began on August 15 after a man from another caste told a Dalit to “deposit” his daughter as “collateral” for a debt he owed. When the two communities came face to face, the police was called. According to the police, there was a riot-like situation in the village which needed to be contained “by use of mild force”, but local residents allege police action was unprovoked and only targeted Dalits.

“They came down on us heavily as if we were animals. We were beaten so badly and there isn’t a single Dalit house in the village which the police did not ransack. At least a hundred police and PAC personnel went on a rampage. The irony is that this took place on Independence Day. Sarita Devi, Rakesh Kumar and Chaman Singh were beaten so badly that night that they died. They were all Dalits. Such is the atmosphere of fear that we have started sleeping in the forest while the women watch out for police. Even the sound of an ambulance siren in the distance is enough to send our children scurrying for cover,” said Ravi Kumar, a Dalit resident of Usand.…



[Back to Top]

Opinions and Editorials

How ABVP used sedition to silence Amnesty India – By Rajeev Dhavan (Aug 22, 2016, Dailyo.in)

…The FIR against Amnesty India was filed by BJP youth group Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Amnesty India had published a publicly available report in July 2015 called “Denied”: Failures in accountability for human rights by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. It was earmarked for discussion in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi in August 2016.…

The FIR was clearly politically motivated as it was filed by the ABVP, a student organisation affiliated to the RSS. They were gunning for Amnesty and led a 700-person protest outside Raj Bhawan. ABVP’s national general secretary Vinay Bidre was emphatic: “We want Amnesty International banned”. It was a set-up by the ABVP since they were waiting outside the meeting hall asking for the arrest of those who raised azaadi slogans. Amnesty refuted the charges in a point-by-point rebuttal…

The present safeguards against planted sedition cases are too weak to prevent cognisance by courts without sanction. This is no good. The state must review such proceedings, taking direct responsibility for such cases which are a threat to free speech and democracy. The Sangh Parivar is using these provisions for defamatory harassment.…



[Back to Top]

If Ramya can be charged with sedition why not PM and others? – By Ashok Kumar Upadhyay (Aug 23, 2016, Dailyo.in)

Actor-turned-politician Ramya, whose real name is Divya Spandana, recently visited Pakistan to attend the SAARC summit for young parliamentarians. After her visit she expressed her views on the overall experience, saying the people of Pakistan were very welcoming and once they knew she was from India, they went out of their way to make her stay comfortable. Refuting defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s statement that “going to Pakistan is like going to hell” she said, “Pakistan is not hell. People there are just like us. They treated us very well”.…

The moot question is – can calling “Pakistan is not hell” be termed seditious? And if her utterances warrant sedition charges, what about other Indian leaders who visited Pakistan or praised it? Shouldn’t similar charges been made against all of them? …

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only went to Pakistan but spent over an hour at his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif’s ancestral home near Lahore.… If Ramya’s visit and statement warrant sedition charges, then why not Narendra Modi’s visit and tweets? Like Ramya, he too went there and praised his host. Similarly, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh, too, went there. Should they also face criminal cases? In 2005, LK Advani went to Pakistan and said, “there is a little bit of India in every Pakistani and a little bit of Pakistan in every Indian.” If Ramya’s statement is sedition, then Advani’s words were blasphemous. But no one was booked, then why target Ramya?…



[Back to Top]

RSS wants Hindus to stay worried about Muslim population – By Sahil Joshi (Aug 23, 2016, Dailyo.in)

It wasn’t surprising when Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, asked a gathering of young “Hindu” couples in Agra “which law stops you from producing more children”? The RSS’s age old propaganda has been to promote Hindu Rashtra and many of the outfit’s ideologues believe that birth control is not practised by the Muslims and fear the community will outnumber the Hindu population.…

So now RSS wants law to control population, which raises the question that do they really believe the theory being spread by some of their own, that the Muslim population will outnumber Hindus? What RSS is not saying is that they have been popularising this theory for long to spread fear among Hindus, despite the fact that the Muslim population in the country is 14.2 per cent – way behind the Hindu population.…

But what RSS doesn’t present is that the rate of growth among Muslims declined 0.4 percentage point between 1991 and 2001, over that between 1981 and 1991. The rate of growth among Hindus declined 0.3 percentage point over this period. In fact, numbers also show the growth rate among Muslims never rose except in the 1981-91 period. It remained constant during 1971-1981.…



[Back to Top]

In which Modi must we trust? – By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay (Aug 24, 2016, Dailyo.in)

When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, we knew he was at times the Vikas Purush though he became the iconic leader that he is because of the persona of Hindu Hriday Samrat. The Janus-faced leader that he always was, like most Sangh Parivar leaders, Modi has in the past 27 months added several variants of the two faces.

In Gujarat, while chanting the development mantra, Modi did not have to be apologetic about the advocacy of hardline Hindutva. But as PM, the office imposes limitations and makes it necessary to adhere to certain norms. There is a different audience that Modi has to address outside India or when hosting global leaders and he has to be a complete contrast to the despot the world imagined him to be before 2014.…

When Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched, after stupefying silence lasting weeks, he said he was sad. Period. He wasn’t even angry! Recently, he did not condemn the actions of gau rakshaks, saying there were some groups giving a bad name to a noble act.…



[Back to Top]

Gau Raksha Vs Bull Run: Modi has attacked cow vigilantes but can he dismount the Hindutva tiger? – By Sagarika Ghose (Aug 17, 2016, Times of India)

“If you want to attack, attack me and not Dalits. If you want to shoot, shoot me and not Dalits,” raged PM Narendra Modi at self- proclaimed cow vigilantes. Masterful performance or a reflection of serious concern? Modi’s is the dilemma of the clever politician increasingly held hostage by ideological foot soldiers of his own brotherhood. In every ideology, the pragmatic politician who hopes to win votes faces attack from ideologues who care only for ideological purity.…

The PM has fought a similar battle in the past as CM of Gujarat. And won. During the riots of Gujarat 2002, VHP leader Pravin Togadia was a putative Hindu hriday samrat, goading his supporters to avenge the Godhra train burning. Modi remained strategically silent in the build-up to the 2002 Gujarat elections, virtually allowing a free run to VHP cadres.

But once he had cemented his position as CM, he struck back at Togadia and VHP. In fact, his move to demolish unauthorised street temples led VHP chief Ashok Singhal to describe him as a “modern day Mahmud of Ghazni” even as Togadia was pushed into political irrelevance. But having used the wider Hindutva parivar in his 2014 general election victory, can Modi dismount the Hindutva tiger and do in Delhi what he once did in Gandhinagar?…



[Back to Top]

Sharmila’s Message – Editorial (Aug 13, 2016, EPW)

In India, we do not want our mahatmas and goddesses to be human. They have to be superhuman so that we can worship them from a distance. For 16 years, Irom Chanu Sharmila was elevated to that status by her supporters in Manipur who, like her, were opposed to the imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in their state and the impunity it granted the security forces. On 9 August, Sharmila tasted honey and broke her protest fast, thereby reminding her supporters that she is not a goddess but a human being.

By doing so, she also raised relevant questions about the efficacy of protests like hers and by choosing the political route, she asserted the right to rethink and change strategies to achieve the larger end. These are logical conclusions that an individual, who has put her body through 16 years of virtual torture with force-feeding and isolation, an annual ritual of release and rearrest, could arrive at if this personal suffering was not making any difference.

That Sharmila did not come at such a conclusion earlier is indicative of the enormous pressure on her to continue. Going public with her decision was perhaps the only way she could break out from another kind of prison, apart from the actual one, in which she found herself incarcerated.…



[Back to Top]