IAMC Weekly News Roundup - December 10th, 2012 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 10th, 2012

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


Resolution of Babri Masjid case should be a National Priority

Indian Americans demand justice, urge peace and restraint on the 20th Anniversary of Babri Masjid Demolition

Thursday December 06, 2012


The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has called the Babri Masjid case a continuing travesty of justice while urging peace and restraint on the eve of the 20th anniversary of its demolition.



The 400 year-old Babri Masjid was demolished by fanatical mobs lead by L.K. Advani, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Deputy Prime Minister of India, along with other extremists on December 6, 1992. The sectarian violence that engulfed the nation in the aftermath resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 people, injuries to thousands and loss of property among the minorities amounting to hundreds of crores of rupees.



Since then the case has dragged on for two decades, without any prosecution of Mr. Advani, Sadhvi Rithambara and 66 others who were declared culpable by the Liberhan Commission for their role in the demolition and the ensuing violence.



“The Babri Masjid case cuts at the very foundations of our secular Republic,” said Shaheen Khateeb, President of IAMC. “The scars left on our national fabric by the heinous crime committed 20 years ago, can be healed only through an objective, impartial and speedy judicial process based on facts,” added Mr. Khateeb.



IAMC is concerned about the reports of unrest in Faizabad and the apprehensions of sectarian violence in Ayodhya and surrounding areas. “The Babri Masjid issue can be resolved through prompt judicial action and not through violence and intimidation,” noted Mr. Khateeb.



IAMC has also called for a reaffirmation of the “The Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991” that prohibits the conversion of any place of worship and provides for the maintenance of its religious character as it existed on 15th August, 1947. Although this Act does not apply to the Babri Masjid, its reaffirmation is necessary to ensure that other places of worship are not engulfed in the same sectarian and divisive politics that Babri Masjid fell victim to.



IAMC has called upon people of all faiths to observe the 20th anniversary of the demolition peacefully and to use the occasion to reaffirm their commitment to the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and equality before the law.



Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the nation.



For more information please visit our new website at: https://www.iamc.com



1. Full Report of the Liberhan Commission of Inquiry

2. Indian American Muslim group expresses disappointment at the Court verdict on Babri Masjid Ayodhya issue

3. Liberhan Commission Report inquiring into the demolition of Babri Masjid

Indian American Muslim Council
Zafar Haq
phone (800) 839-7270
email: info@iamc.com

6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053
phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
email: info@iamc.com

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Communal Harmony

This school is a lesson in harmony (Dec 6, 2012, Times of India)

When Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi announced Sadbhavana Mission in 2011, Professor V K Tripathi could not avoid a wry smile sitting in his office in IIT, Delhi. After all, he has been running an organization with almost the same name for two decades before the posterboy of Hindutva embraced Muslims under the glare of TV cameras.

Sadbhav Mission was started in 1990 after Tripathi, a professor of Physics, and others were deeply moved by the Bhagalpur riots and wanted to find common ground between Hindus and Muslims. In December 2002,when Modi was still taking jibes at Muslims, the mission had organized special classes for 1,000 standard XII students of both communities just before final exams.

Cut to 2012.Some 150 dalit children of different ages from a nearby slum gather at a Ram temple in Godhra and wait for their tutor. Enters Imran Pola, a young Muslim, and starts giving lessons even as idols of Ram, Sita and Laxman watch over this harmony. This is one of two classes the mission has been holding in the ground zero of the 2002 riots for the last few years. It is one of the very few bridges over the ever-widening rift between ghettoised Hindus and Muslims here.

The classes, running since 2008,were shut for a month recently after some people started harassing the Muslim teachers, but were restarted after parents of the kids approached the Muslim teachers and promised them security.


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Temple gifts house to Muslim woman (Dec 5, 2012, Deccan Herald)

As the country prepares to mark the 20th year of the demolition of the Babari Masjid in Ayodhya, a temple in central Kerala has sent out a message of religious integration by constructing a home for a Muslim woman. The temple in the coastal village of Kandamangalam in Aalapuzha district has gifted the house to Jameela, a deaf and dumb orphan woman, whom the temple committee had adopted in 2000.

The 52-year old Jameela ekes out a living by doing odd jobs at the temple without compromising her religious believes. Jameela received the key of her house, constructed at a cost of Rs 4 lakh from the temple committee on Wednesday.

“For the house, the committee donated Rs 2 lakh and the rest was contribution by devotees and local residents of all religions – Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Response to our request to contribute to the noble cause was overwhelming and was above our expectation,” said temple committee secretary P N Dhananjayan.

In a couple of days she will move to her dream house. Now she resides in a thatched semi-permanent dwelling adjacent to the temple. Though speaking and hearing impaired and alone, she is completely under the protective wing of the temple committee.

“Since then she has been part of our temple and has been doing the works entrusted to her. We have never intervened in her religious faith or belief. We gave her the assurance from the day one that she is free to follow her religious practice and there will be no intervention from our side,” said Dhanajayan.


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25 US lawmakers urge Hillary Clinton to continue denying Narendra Modi visa (Dec 5, 2012, Indian Express)

As Narendra Modi seeks a fresh mandate in Gujarat and also eyes prime ministership, a bipartisan group of 25 US Congressmen has asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to continue denying him visa, claiming he has not adequately pursued justice for victims of the 2002 riots.

“As… justice has yet to be fully realised for the victims of the riots, we ask that you continue to deny Mr Modi a visa,” the lawmakers from the US House of Representatives said in a letter to Clinton. Dated November 29, the letter, which comes ahead of the Gujarat polls on December 13 and 17, was released to the press Monday by Republican Congressman Joe Pitts and Frank Wolf on the eve of their press conference with family members of victims of the 2002 riots.

As the Gujarat Chief Minister “continues to pursue a potential run for higher office, we believe a change in policy to his request for a visa will only embolden Modi and his government’s efforts to obstruct further investigations…to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the Congressmen said.

India is a thriving democracy, and one that is aspiring to a high standard of leadership, they said. “It is disturbing that certain parties in India are considering elevating Modi, despite his tie to these attacks. Allowing him to enter the US will only serve to abdicate his responsibility for the 2002 human rights abuses.”

Observing that the Bush Administration “rightly denied” Modi a visa, the lawmakers said as he is currently seeking support for a possible bid for prime ministership, “we expect” he may again request entry into the US.



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Muslims are the most deprived social group in Gujarat: study (Dec 8, 2012, Twocircles.net)

“Poverty amongst the urban Muslims is eight times (800%) more than high-caste Hindus, about 50% more than the Hindu-OBCs and the SCs/STs. Note that over 60% of all Gujarati Muslims live in urban areas and they are most deprived social group in Gujarat. On the other hand rural poverty amongst the Muslims is two times (200%) more than high caste Hindus,” according to a study by New Delhi-based Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy (CRDDP). The report of the study which was released recently is prepared by Dr. Abusaleh Shariff, Executive Director (Designate), US-India Policy Institute, Washington DC and President Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy (CRDDP), New Delhi and Mr. B. L. Joshi, Chief Executive Officer, CRDDP, New Delhi. …

“Educationally Muslims are the most deprived community in Gujarat. Despite 75% net enrolment, about similar levels compared with the SCs/STs and other groups; the Muslims are deprived at the level of matriculation and higher levels. A mere 26% reach matriculation. Amongst the Muslims a large dropout takes place at about 5th standard. A disturbing trend was noticed in case of education at the level of graduation. Muslims, who had about the same level of education in the past, are found to have left behind compared with even the SCs/STs who have caught up with higher education.”

“The disparity in access to higher education is increasing over time. This clearly is an evidence of discrimination in provisioning of higher education access, infrastructure and related services. To overcome the Muslim deficit in different levels of education, the central government has launched a nationwide scholarship scheme with effect from April 1, 2008. All states have responded favourably, with the only exception of Gujarat which has not implemented even the pre-matric scholarships for minorities. There are 55,000 scholarships allocated to Gujarat of which 53,000 are to be given to the deserving Muslims, but Gujarat not even cared to implement this program.”

“Gujarat has higher unemployment rates for Muslims compared to say West Bengal. Importantly, the Muslims traditionally are artisan and skilled workers, have relative advantage in handling mechanical and tool work; therefore they are employed as industrial labour in considerable proportion in manufacturing and organized industry. In most States, Muslims form a higher percentage of the workforce in manufacturing and the organised sector compared to Hindus and it is only in Gujarat, the reverse is true.” …



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191 fake encounters in last five years, NHRC tells Supreme Court (Dec 5, 2012, Times of India)

The Supreme Court, which relentlessly strove to bring to book perpetrators of the fake encounter killings of Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat, has an explosive situation on its hands as the National Human Rights Commission informed it that 191 fake encounter killings took place in the country in the last five years. Appalled by the attitude of the Manipur government in responding to over 1,500 alleged fake encounter killings in the militancy affected state in the last three decades, a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai had asked during the last hearing, “Is there a war going on within? Is this the attitude and orientation of a state to say that if they are killing my men, we will kill them?”

In response to Manipur’s alleged unaddressed extra-judicial killings, the NHRC in an affidavit said in the last five years, from 2007 to 2012, it had received 1,671 complaints/information regarding fake encounters. “The commission in the last five years has awarded monetary compensation to the tune of Rs 10.51 crore in 191 cases,” it said in an affidavit. The commission awards compensation in the range of Rs 5-10 lakh to the kin of victims if it comes to the conclusion after inquiry that it was a fake encounter.

The bench headed by Justice Alam had in the past minutely scrutinized Gujarat government’s attempts to put a veil on facts in the Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati encounter killings and had ordered CBI probe into them, resulting in filing of charge-sheet against former minister Amit Shah, in addition to former senior police officials. The NHRC mirrored the experience of the apex court in dealing with the two Gujarat fake encounters. “The only handicap is that in all the cases, respective state governments invariably take more than reasonable time to submit magisterial enquiry report, post-mortem report, inquest report and the ballistic expert report,” it said. “Due to this delay on the part of the state governments in complying with mandatory requirements, the delay occurs in all the matters, as for want of these reports even the commission cannot draw any conclusion and cannot take any view in the matter as to whether the death took place in a genuine encounter or it was a fake encounter,” the human rights body said in its affidavit.

NGOs ‘Extra-Judicial Execution Victims Families Association of Manipur’ through Neena N and ‘Human Rights Alert’ through Babloo Loitongbam had requested the court to set up a Special Investigation Team to inquire into the extra-judicial killings in the state. Another petition by Suresh Singh through advocate S Biswajeet Meitei alleged that continuance of AFSPA had led to a spurt in extra-judicial killings and sought its withdrawal from Manipur. The NHRC gave its response to the 71 cases of alleged fake encounter complaints it had dealt with relating to Manipur of which only three have been closed. In one case – killing of Thanjam Manorama Chanu on July 12, 2004 – the commission had recently recommended payment of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of the victim but the defence ministry is yet to comply with it.

Though the commission’s guidelines require states to complete mandatory inquiry reports within three months, many cases of alleged extra-judicial killings reported from Manipur have been pending with the NHRC since 2007 as the state has not provided the key investigation reports. Of the 68 pending cases, five incidents dated back to 2007, 17 to 2008 and 19 to 2009, the NHRC said. To enable it to deal with such cases expeditiously, NHRC said, “It would be appropriate if the Supreme Court directs all the states to strictly comply with the guidelines/recommendation issued by the commission without fail, both in letter and spirit.”



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CBI wants 5 mahants for Babri Masjid demolition (Dec 10, 2012, Deccan Chronicle)

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued strong directions for the speedy hearing of the Ayodhya demolition case in the special court at Rae Bareli against senior BJP leader LK Advani and 19 others against whom charges of criminal conspiracy had been dropped by the trial court.

The apex court was hearing an appeal by the CBI challenging the Allahabad HC judgment which had upheld the trial court’s order dropping the conspiracy charge. However, the task is easier said than done. Of the total 49 accused, the case is being heard against 22 in a special Lucknow court and against eight others, including Advani, at the special court in Rae Bareli. Ten of the accused and as many as 50 witnesses have died while the case continues to drag on. Interestingly, there are nine accused against whom the case is not in process in any court.

In December last year, the Allahabad HC had passed an order for day-to-day hearing in the special court at Rae Bareli. The HC order also says that the gap between the conclusion of a witness hearing and the next date for hearing of another witness should not be more than a week. However, the hearing in the Rae Bareli special court has failed to pick up, many say due to the laxity on the part of the CBI itself.

Triloki Nath Pande representing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad says, “The CBI actually has great sympathy for the accused. It will continue to contest the case till even one of them is alive. They (the CBI) don’t want any of them (accused) to be punished.” He terms the working of the CBI “bhool-bhulaiyya” (a maze).

Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for another party to the dispute, also blames the CBI for the delay, though for different reasons. “The CBI has been presenting irrelevant witnesses in the Rae Bareli court. There is already a HC order for speedy day-to-day hearing but the CBI is unable to present witnesses. This way, it will take ages for the trial to be completed,” he says.



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PM urged to resolve issue of ‘innocent’ Muslims in jail (Dec 4, 2012, Indian Express)

Led by CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan, a 15-member multi-party delegation met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday and submitted a memorandum demanding the solution to the issue of Muslims lodged in jails even after terror charges against them have not been proved. “The PM has assured that he will not only forward the memorandum to the Home Minister but also ask him to set up a mechanism by which this problem is resolved. We requested the PM that it should be time bound. He agreed with it,” Yechury said.

Besides Yechury and Paswan, three Congress MPs – Mani Shankar Aiyar, Mohammad Haroon and Hanumanta Rao – were part of the delegation. The memorandum had the support of the CPI, SP, RJD, JD(U), NC, TDP, DMK and BSP. DMK’s Kanimozhi had signed the memorandum too, but could not be present in the delegation. “The PM expressed agreement with our sentiments. He said that he will get the Home Minister to prepare a concrete mechanism to address our concerns,” Paswan said.

According to Yechury, Muslim youth, who were arrested under suspicion in cases pertaining to blasts in Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Malegaon, Ajmer and Nanded, continue to remain in jail even after investigations established that other Right wing groups were responsible for the bombings.



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UP court blasts: Panel rejects police version of youths’ arrest (Dec 4, 2012, Indian Express)

Rejecting the police theory of circumstances leading to the arrest of two youths believed to be involved in serial bomb blasts across Uttar Pradesh courts in 2007, one member of the R D Nimesh Inquiry Commission has stated that the police claim regarding the date, place and timing of arrests appears to be ‘doubtful’. The Indian Express is in possession of the 237-page report, dated August 31, in which the Commission has recommended the government to “identify and act against officials who perpetrated this unlawful activity”.

The Commission was set up in March 2008 by the Bahujan Samaj Party government to probe into the arrest of Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid for their alleged involvement in November 23, 2007 serial blasts at district courts of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad. According to reports, at least 14 persons were killed and several persons were critically injured in these blasts. On December 22, 2007, the STF, in a press conference addressed by Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Brijlal in Lucknow, had claimed that they have arrested Tariq and Khalid from Barabanki, and recovered detonators and RDX from them.

The family of the youths, however, claimed that Tariq, a practitioner of Unani Medicine, was picked up from Shankarpur check post near Sarai Meer in Azamgarh. And Khalid was reportedly picked up from Mariyahu in Jaunpur much ahead of the date mentioned by the police. Expressing its doubts regarding the police claims, the Commission recommended that guilty officials should be punished. However, the Commission failed to establish the identity of the culprits.

“In the incidents between December 12 and 22, 2007, it appears some other police force was involved, in addition to Special Task Force, but it is not clear with the available evidences as to which force, or officials were involved in picking, detaining and torturing Khalid Mujahid and Tariq Qasmi. Therefore, the responsibility can be fixed only after identifying individual officials… Since the case is being tried at Barabanki district court, at this stage responsibility cannot be fixed against any person,” the Commission said. The Commission submitted its report to the Uttar Pradesh government in September, after a delay of more than four years.



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UP saw over 100 communal clashes in 2012 (Dec 9, 2012, The Hindu)

Uttar Pradesh has earned the dubious distinction of witnessing over 100 communal clashes this year that left 34 people dead. The towns where incidents of such violence took place are Kosi Kalan in Mathura, Faizabad, Pratapgarh, Sitapur, Ghaziabad and Bareilly. More than 450 people were also injured in these clashes which took place from January till October 31, Home Ministry officials said.

There were 84 incidents of communal clashes in the state in 2011 in which 12 people lost their lives. The country witnessed 560 incidents of violence this year till October end, which claimed 89 lives, while in 2011, 580 clashes took place that left 91 people dead. Uttar Pradesh was followed by Maharashtra where 83 incidents were reported so far this year in which 13 people were killed and 88 incidents in 2011 which claimed 15 lives.

Madhya Pradesh saw 78 incidents of communal violence so far this year in which 11 people were killed and in 2011, 81 incidents of communal clashes were reported that left 15 dead. In Karnataka, there were 54 incidents of communal clashes in 2012 and 70 incidents in 2011 in which three and four people lost their lives respectively. Rajasthan had witnessed 42 incidents of communal clashes in 2011 leading to death of 16 people while this year the state has witnessed 30 incidents of such violence and six dead.

There were 47 incidents of communal clashes in Gujarat in 2011, in which three persons lost their lives, and 50 incidents so far this year in which five were killed. Andhra Pradesh saw 33 communal clashes in 2011 in which one died and so far this year, 45 clashes took place in which two were killed. There were 30 incidents of communal clashes in Kerala in 2011, in which one died, and 46 incidents in this year in which one was killed.

Bihar witnessed 26 incidents with four deaths last year and 17 incidents this year in which three persons were killed. Tamil Nadu saw 21 incidents of communal violence and two deaths in 2011 and 11 incidents with two deaths this year so far. There were 15 incidents in West Bengal in 2011 in which three persons were killed, and 22 incidents in this year, in which eight persons were killed.



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Police increases presence at Shivaji Park, Sena flexes its Thane muscle (Dec 9, 2012, Times of India)

The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the Shiv Sena and the administration appeared to be heading towards some decisive action, with both the Sena and Mumbai Police increasing their presence manifold at the park on Saturday. Following speculation that the BMC had geared up to pull down the structure where Bal Thackeray was cremated on November 18, which the Sena turned into a temporary ‘memorial’ , hundreds of Sainiks from the party’s Thane wing reached the park on Saturday. But even as three Thane MLAs, Eknath Shinde, Pratap Sarnaik and Rajan Vichare, along with the Sainiks arrived to protest any action on the temporary ‘memorial’ , Mumbai Police moved to cordon off the entire ground. Sources said police commissioner Satyapal Singh was planning to remove the structure by Sunday. Besides 3,000 policemen , personnel from the State Reserve Police Force, Rapid Action Force and riot control unit were deployed near the ground.

If a senior BMC bureaucrat is to be believed, then instructions have been given to the field staff to remove the temporary structure as early as possible . “We have given our plan to the law enforcing agencies, the moment adequate police force is deployed at Shivaji Park we will remove the temporary structure,” he said. The BMC had issued notices to mayor Sunil Prabhu and Sena MP Sanjay Raut, asking them to vacate the park immediately and remove the structure as permission to set up the stage was only given for one day. However, the Sena has been defiant and has not even replied to the notice.

A Sena leader warned the party won’t allow removal of the ‘memorial’ until the government grants an alternate site. “Once this is done we will remove it on our own. The government should not remove or it may irk Sainiks and disturb peace and harmony all over the state,” he warned. Sainiks even put up hoardings on Saturday daring the BMC to remove the structure while women Sainiks formed an innermost circle around the structure. “We will stay here and guard the site. This is where Balasaheb Thackeray’s funeral was conducted, the site is precious to us,” said Shinde.

That Sena CEO Uddhav Thackeray chose the party’s Thane unit to raise the decibel level on the memorial issue is significant. “The Sena’s Thane unit is seen as well-knit and cohesive,” a senior Sena functionary said. Matoshree has more reason to trust the Thane Sainiks’ spunk. It was the Thane wing which went on a rampage on the death of Sena leader Anand Dighe in 2001. The Thane Sainiks also built a permanent memorial to Dighe close to a playground near the Thane police commissioner’s office, all of which prompted Matoshree to assign the task of protecting the Shivaji Park structure to Eknath Shinde, a protege of Dighe.



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BJP won elections with money from naxalites: Digvijay (Dec 9, 2012, Deccan Herald)

Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh has alleged that Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh won the last two assembly elections by using money received from naxalites.

Singh told reporters here last evening that he was saying this as the BJP wins by large margins in areas where naxalites wield influence in Chhattisgarh.

He alleged that there has heavy corruption in the Bundelkhand package and also claimed that there was full interference from RSS in BJP government. He said that he will soon reveal the names of those builders from whom the BJP collects donations.



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Constable kills wife, daughter for dowry (Dec 9, 2012, Times of India)

A police constable allegedly killed his wife and daughter here over dowry demand, police said on Sunday. Constable T Venkatesh, attached to Tadwai police station under Kamareddy sub-division, hit his 28-year-old wife Vanaja and seven-year-old daughter with a blunt weapon at their house late last night causing multiple head-injuries following which both of them died on the spot.

The accused then fled from the house, police said. Venkatesh, a habitual drunkard, who was earlier suspended on three occasions on charge of quarrelling with others, got married to Vanaja in 2003 and allegedly started harassing and beating her demanding dowry for the past five years, Nizamabad Circle Inspector N Saidulu told PTI. “The two bodies were lying in a pool of blood. Venkatesh is absconding since the incident,” Saidulu said.

A case was booked under sections 302 (murder) and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of IPC and a hunt has been launched to nab the culprit, he added. A relative of the deceased alleged that Venkatesh repeatedly harassed Vanaja for more dowry despite being given Rs 2 lakh cash and a vehicle.



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Opinions and Editorials

Who are the American lawmakers saying No to Narendra Modi? – By Sandip Roy (Dec 4, 2012, First Post)

Narendra Modi might not be itching to go to Washington DC. But it’s hard not to see the letter from 25 American lawmakers urging the US Secretary of State to continue denying him an American visa as anything but a snub. Especially because it comes on the heels of the Great Western Thaw where the Brits are trying to let bygones be bygones. Modi is barred from entering the US because of a provision of the International Religious Freedom Act. George W Bush invoked it against him. And the Obama administration has not revoked it even though its Congressional Research Service has praised the “impressive development successes” under Modi. The latest letter keeps up the pressure. The lawmakers write: As there has been no further resolution to these issues and justice has yet to be fully realized for the victims of the riots, we ask that you continue to deny Mr Modi a visa. As Mr Modi continues to pursue a potential run for higher office, we believe a change in policy to his request for a visa will only embolden Modi and his government’s efforts to obstruct further investigations and the tandem prosecutions that have still to be finished to bring the perpetrators to justice. What’s noteworthy about this letter, even though there is nothing new about its content, is it does not come from just predictably bleeding heart liberals but from across the US political spectrum – from the deepest blue to the fieriest red. The signers also come from across the country geographically – from New Jersey to California, from Arizona to Michigan.

The letter was released on Capitol Hill by Congressmen Joe Pitts and Frank Wolf. Pitts who has been in the US House of Representatives since 1997 is a hardline conservative. He has received 100 percent ratings from the American Conservatives Union for his voting record. He’s a big advocate for nuclear power and pro-business. He routinely gets close to zero ratings from labour groups. Pitts came to Gujarat in 2002 and told Outlook he cannot forget the bloodstains he had seen in Ehsan Jafri’s house. Ten years later he sees no reason to change his stance on Modi. “I’m still concerned that…Modi and his cohorts have not been held to account for their actions,” he told Outlook in 2011. Frank Wolf is also Republican and a long time congressman from Virginia. He’s been a military hawk, a huge supporter of the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. But he’s also been a vocal critic of China on human rights as well as the persecution of Bahais in Iran. Now contrast these two with some of the others who have signed on to the letter as well.

Barbara Lee, Democratic congresswoman from California is about as radical a liberal as can get elected to US Congress. She remains the only member of the US Congress who voted against the authorisation of use of force after 9/11 and a hero of the anti-war movement during the Iraq war. She’s voted to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya. Mike Honda, a long time Congressman from Silicon Valley spent some of his early years in a Japanese American internment camp and that’s something that has had a profound influence on his politics. Honda attended the first Washington State Summit on US-India trade this year in Seattle which showcased the Vibrant Gujarat 2013 roadshow. The roadshow issued a press release about it. But back in 2003, he also congratulated the Indian Muslim Council-USA for hosting an interfaith convention. That convention featured Nishrin Husain, the daughter of Ehsan Jafri. Some lawmakers have signed on clearly because of long standing relations with the American Muslim community which Modi’s backers have not been able to match. Bill Pascrell, Democrat form New Jersey is closely associated with Council on American-Islamic Relations. His hometown of Paterson has a large Arab population though New Jersey has a strong Gujarati population as well.

Some have signed on to the letter because like Congressman Trent Franks, Republican from Arizona, they are members of the International Religious Freedom Caucus. Others are just well-known India-baiters. Dan Burton, conservative Republican from Indiana, is a founding member of the Pakistan Caucus and took money from Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai’s Kashmir Center and vigorously championed the Kashmiri American Council till it was revealed that it was a front for the ISI. The liberal members have opposed Modi from the human rights angle. Jim Moran is a Democrat who was arrested along with George Clooney outside the Sudanese Embassy for protesting human rights abuses by the government of Sudan. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts has been very vocal about the plight of the victims of the crisis in Sudan. Edward Markey is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus John Conyers, one of the longest serving Congressmen in Washington DC, is the last remaining member of the Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Nixon.

Back in 2005 when Modi was invited to Florida to address the Asian America Hotel Owners Association, Conyers submitted a House Resolution condemning the Modi’s role during the riots in Gujarat. Not only that, as Martha Nussbaum writes in her book The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence and India’s Future, Conyers’ resolution also gave Modi a black mark for “promoting the attitudes of racial supremacy, racial hatred, and the legacy of Nazism through his government’s support of school textbooks in which Nazism is glorified.” To many people’s surprise, including the US India Muslim Council, the Bush administration denied Modi a diplomatic visa and revoked his tourist visa. The BJP cried foul calling it an “insult to the entire nation” and Modi called it an “insult to India and the Constitution”. But the “insult” has endured. …



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Who will Gujarat’s Muslims vote for? – By Ram Puniyani (Dec 5, 2012, Tehelka)

Campaigning is on in full swing for the Gujarat assembly elections this month. Both the BJP and chief minister Narendra Modi are predicting a third term for him. Modi’s media managers are selling him as the man of ‘development in the state’, and big industrial houses are pitching for his victory. There may be some truth to the chief minister’s PR machinery, which is why big industrialists are having a great time in Gujarat. But in complete contrast to this is the condition of the common man in the state. At least if one goes by the different indices of development such as nutritional levels of women and haemoglobin levels of pregnant women etc. Still the popular perception in large sections is that Modi will romp home and thereby stake his claim to become BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

But that may need more than just corporate muscle. To that end, Modi has been trying to win over sections of Muslims to his side, business and affluent class in particular. He has even convinced a few such as London-based Gujarati businessmen Zafar Sareshwala, who had filed many human rights cases against him in the International Court of Justice. Modi’s Sadbhavna meetings – where he fasted and put up a liberal face – got him many an admirers in beards and caps. However, his lie got exposed when he refused to wear a skull cap offered by a Muslim cleric, even as he put on designer caps and pagdis (head gears) by the Hindus and Jains.

Now in an open letter, former MP Syed Shahabuddin has asked Modi to apologise for the Gujarat genocide of 2002, if he seeks Muslim votes. Shahabuddin’s letter makes it clear that failing an apology, Muslims will vote massively and unitedly for one candidate, irrespective of party or religion, who is likely to defeat the BJP in their constituency. Though tone and tenor of his letter and the letterhead has landed Shahabuddin himself in a controversy, some of the points he raises seem valid for the Muslims of Gujarat like at least 20 assembly tickets for the community, and compensation at par with the 1984 Delhi riots and rebuilding of the places of worship ravaged in the riots. The basic flaw in the letter is to presume that Modi may be amenable to these suggestions. Some may call it optimism but it is nothing short of a delusion. Human rights activist Dr JS Bandookwala had made a similar appeal to the chief minister a few years ago, without any positive outcome.

Interestingly, Shahabuddin’s suggestion is also in contrast to what noted Islamic scholar and the liberal face of Indian Muslims, Asghar Ali Engineer feels. Engineer says though the Bohra Muslims and their religious leaders have good links with Modi for business purposes, most Bohras may not vote for Modi due to the larger picture of the community in the state. Maulana Vastanvi, who had earlier said that Muslims are doing better in Gujarat, has also said that Muslims should not vote for Modi. To some extent, this brings to the fore the confusion of the Gujarat’s Muslims. Who do they vote for? Congress’ vacillations on the communal front, its opportunism and collusion with communal forces don’t make it seem any better than the BJP, if not worse. And if both the BJP and the Congress are equally selfish in their dealings, it makes no difference who is in power. It’s true that more communal riots have taken place in Congress rule, but also true is that those responsible for these riots are BJP and its affiliates. The Congress merely colluded in these incidents or looked the other way. So while the Congress seems ‘pragmatically communal’, the BJP is ‘programmatically communal’.

The BJP is part of RSS combine whose agenda is a Hindu nation, which has to be worked through the liberal space offered by the Indian democracy. It is to this end that Muslims have been effectively relegated to the status of second class citizens in Gujarat. Politically marginalised, economically pushed back and facing the stepmotherly treatment from state, it is unlikely that Muslims would even think of voting for Modi. Surely, there will be some like Sareshwala, who will ask for the votes for Modi, but barring such elements, average Muslim has only suffered in the ‘Hindu nation of Gujarat’. While celebrations are already afoot for Modi’s victory, it’s unlikely that he will have a cake walk in Gujarat this time as apart from M factor, the deprivation of Dalits, Adivasis and other poorer sections of community is too deep to be won over by the rhetoric of Vibrant Gujarat. While psephologists are burning midnight oil to ratify Modi’s victory, the real outcome of Gujarat 2012 elections may be a surprise to many who are undermining the impact of social development indices and the scars of 2002, which remain very much painful even now!



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Babri Masjid, with 20 years of hindsight – By Prabhat Patnaik (Dec 8, 2012, Indian Express)

The demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, was unquestionably the most significant blow against the secular fabric of the Indian nation. Twenty years later, it is worth asking: how do we assess that event in the context of the unfolding history of our nation? And how do we see the current conjuncture in relation to the conjuncture that produced the demolition of the mosque? The fact that the whipping up of sentiments on the issue catapulted communal-fascist forces to the centrestage of Indian politics from where they could make a bid for power, is obvious. In fact, it was the second big boost to these forces, after Emergency. It is also clear after their stint in power that while they can do much damage, they are not yet in a position to impose their agenda upon the country. Bourgeois commentators are in the habit of talking about the BJP having “mellowed” over the years; the question, however, is not one of “mellowing”. It relates to the balance of forces that does not yet allow Hindutva groups the kind of power that they need to impose their agenda. Not only was the BJP’s effort at altering the Constitution stillborn, it could not make much headway even on specific issues like building a Ram temple, or amending Article 370, during its years in office.

But while this must be a source of satisfaction for secular and democratic forces, it cannot be denied that there is a creeping fascism in the country, which is not confined only to the Hindutva groups. Whether it is Mamata Banerjee’s police taking university professors into custody for circulating a cartoon, or the PMK asking for the ostracism of Dalits, two girls in Maharashtra being arrested for Facebook comments unpalatable to the Shiv Sena, or the atmosphere of intimidation that leads to Mumbai being shut down after Bal Thackeray’s death (a man whose life was a classic example of that of a fascist); whether it is the swagger with which a Narendra Modi struts about projecting himself as the next prime minister; or the spreading “culture of cruelty” exhibited in the glee surrounding the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, or the prolonged communal carnage in Assam; the reality of fascism creeping upon the nation is undeniable.

To be sure, one is not talking of a re-enactment of 1930s Germany. Fascist tendencies must be distinguished from the formation of a fascist state. The existence or even the growth of such tendencies does not necessarily lead to the eventual denouement of a fascist state. Besides, that kind of outcome is not even conceivable in today’s world, precisely because of the change in conjuncture that has taken place. When the Seventh Congress of the Communist International had defined fascism as the “open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary and revanchist sections of finance capital”, the finance capital it had referred to was necessarily nation-based: the Nazis had called themselves “National Socialist”. Classical fascism, therefore, was located within the context of acute inter-imperialist rivalry and the fascist state came into being through the capture by the fascists of the nation-state. Today we live in a world of globalised capital as the dominant entity: it is a world of muted inter-imperialist rivalry. The idea of a nation-state being captured by fascists who combine a terrorist dictatorship on behalf of “national” finance capital with external aggression to promote its own specific imperialism, is out of sync with today’s context.

But a denouement where there is an effective strangling of democracy despite the formal existence of democratic structures, because the state acts to promote the interests of international finance capital against those of the people; where this strangling is made possible by the pervasive practice of “identity politics” that sustains fascist tendencies; and where the actions of this state, apart from the impoverishment they bring to the people and the oppression of progressive forces, also roll back the social and political gains made by hitherto excluded groups like Dalits and women, and reduce minorities to a subservient status; such a denouement would clearly be in keeping with the tenor of current globalisation. And it is not farfetched to imagine our country moving in this direction. The development of a pan-Indian national consciousness, subsuming multiple local and other identities, was a product of our anti-colonial struggle. Any backsliding in the struggle against imperialism, such as what the bourgeoisie has been imposing on the country in the era of globalisation, entails a recession in this national consciousness, and the coming to the fore of multiple other forms of identity consciousness. And the same neo-liberal regime that undermines the overarching national consciousness and encourages multiple forms of identity consciousness, also makes these identity groups relate to each other in antagonistic ways, because of the rampant unemployment and deprivation it generates. This provides fertile ground for the growth of fascist tendencies, since it now becomes easy to tell a Maharashtrian worker that he is losing his job because a person from Bihar or south India is replacing him.

This fracturing also suits the interests of globalised finance capital, since it facilitates the snuffing out of resistance by the people by dividing them; it facilitates the enfeeblement of democracy despite the retention of formal democratic structures. If the anti-colonial struggle had meant a forward march of the Indian people, what we are witnessing today is a veritable counter-revolution that is seeking to undo in crucial ways the gains of that struggle. But then the question may be asked: what does all this have to do with the demolition of the Babri Masjid? Where does that horrendous act of vandalism fit into this picture? The answer lies in the fact that that demolition was an extraordinarily significant milestone in this counter-revolution. To see that demolition as itself being caused somehow by the shift to neo-liberalism would be a simplistic argument; but the fact of that demolition which was carried out with impunity, and one of whose enthusiastic promoters, Bal Thackeray, is even being paid obeisance by the Indian state after his death, sent the signal that such acts were now permissible. It created the condition, in other words, for the proliferation of multiple fascist tendencies apart from itself. And imperialism which sniffs out faultlines within a society to further its hegemony was quick to harness the antagonisms generated by identity politics to further its agenda in a manner which we can clearly observe today. If this situation is to be transcended, if a meaning is to be restored to the inclusive concept of an Indian nation, if the fascist tendencies engulfing us have to be fought, then this fight must also encompass a fight against neo-liberalism and imperialist globalisation.



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20th anniversary of Babri mosque demolition: The damage has not been undone as yet – By Ashish Tripathi (Dec 5, 2012, Times of India)

Twenty years after demolition of Babri mosque, the Ayodhya debate is still on. The frenzy mob which razed the masjid to ground on December 6, 1992, perhaps had little or no inkling that the fanatic act would change the Indian politics for all times to come. Though the Ram Temple issue seems to have lost its electoral appeal, the damage has not been undone as yet and the efforts to polarise votes on religious lines continues, at least in UP, where eight major communal clashes have taken place after Samajwadi Party (SP) came to power in March this year and the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) is trying to cobble up the team of Hindutava hardliners who played a crucial role in the Temple movement, leading to the demolition of the masjid. The communal rift created by the 1990 Ram temple movement which resulted in demolition of the mosque saw the BJP emerging as a national force, particularly in the north and west India, thereby changing the Indian polity forever. Till then the politics mainly revolved around the Congress and anti-Congressism, but post 1992, it became ‘triangular’ with the addition of the anti-Congress-BJP Third front.

The demographic vote equations also changed with the Muslims, who also held inaction of the then Congress government headed by PV Narasimha Rao at the Centre equally responsible for the demolition of the mosque, shifting loyalty to regional parties which they felt could counter the saffron threat. It led to the rise of regional satraps like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav among others. The upheaval also pushed India into an era of instability which saw four prime ministers heading various coalition governments and two mid-term lok sabha polls between 1990-99. As no single party could win majority since then, the regional parties have been playing crucial role in formation of the governments. The coalition politics still continues but now its more mature and stable than 90s. But in UP, the instability continued from 1989 to 2007, during which period, the state saw ten governments of different permutations and combinations, three mid term assembly elections, four chief ministers, defections in parties and two stints of president rule. Interestingly, while the BJP was able to sustain in other states after Babri mosque demolition, in UP its tally declined steadily with every election.

Many political analysts believe that the ‘Mandir’ issue should be seen along with the ‘Mandal’. After revolting against Rajiv Gandhi over Bofors scam, VP Singh formed Janta Dal in 1989 by bringing all the anti-Congress forces together. In the subsequent elections, the Congress was defeated but Janta Dal could not get the majority either. Singh became prime minister with support of the Left and the BJP. On August 7, 1990, Singh implemented the Mandal commission report providing 27% reservation for other backward classes (OBCs) to mobilise backward vote bank. On September 25, BJP’s LK Advani began his rath yatra from Somnath in Gujrat demanding construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site housing Babri masjid in Ayodhya, which the saffron forces claimed was the birth place of Lord Ram.

The yatra, which was to end at Ayodhya, left behind a trail of communal clashes. On Singh’s direction, the then Bihar chief minister Lalu Yadav’s ordered police to intercept yatra at Samastipur and arrest Advani on October 23. On October 30, the then UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered firing on people, who had assembled in Ayodhya on BJP’s call, when they tried to storm into the mosque. The firing in Ayodhya and ensuing communal clashes in all over the country left over 500 dead. The immediate impact was that the mandir (communal) politics overshadowed the mandal (caste) politics. As a result, the BJP’s number in Lok Sabha rose to 120 in 1991 from 85 in 1989. The BJP also won state assembly elections in five states in 1991 – UP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh.

The communal plank polarised votes across all castes. After assuming power in UP underKalyan Singh, saffron forces gave call to start ‘symbolic’ construction of Temple on December 6, 1992, which led to demolition of the mosque. Kalyan was jailed for a day for ‘contempt of court’. He had assured the Supreme Court that the government will protect mosque but failed to discharge the constitutional duty. The turn of events led to more communal riots across the country but by razing the mosque down, the saffron brigade killed the goose that laid the golden egg. At least, it was true for UP where caste politics took over communalism after tempers cooled down following fall of the 15th century mosque, allegedly built by a Mughal ruler over ruins of a temple at Lord Ram’s birth place after destroying it.



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Persistence of a sore: Communal violence today – By Ram Puniyani (Dec 3, 2012, Twocircles.net)

The events taking place in different parts of the country in October-November 2012 have been very disturbing to say the least. It is the continuance and recurrence of communal events, communal violence in different parts of the country, in UP, Assam and Hyderabad in particular. In UP since the Akhilesh Yadav Government has come to power there has taken place a series of acts of violence in UP. Since Samajwadi Party took over the reins of the state in March 2012, in the past few months’ communal violence took place in Mathura, Pratapgarh, Bareilly, Meerut, Allahabad and Lucknow. The latest in the series has been the tragic events of Faizabad, where On 24 October 2012, when the immersion procession of Durga was going on, a girl was molested by few miscreants. Making this as a pretext few people started stone throwing in the nearby areas. A rumor was spread in Faizabad that Muslims are doing the stone throwing. The mob went on to burn nearly 25 shops of Muslim traders. They also rampaged the office of bilingual (Urdu and Hindi) paper “Aap Ki Taqat.” This paper is continuously giving the message of peace and calling for Hindu-Muslim unity. They also vandalized the mosque. According to activist Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, this was a pre-planned attack. The editor of the paper Manzar Mehdi feels, this is an attempt to silence the voice of peace. The police took long time to reach the spot and did not intervene effectively. Similarly the fire brigade also took four hours to reach, by which time the shops were totally destroyed.

In the far off Assam, the recurrence of violence resulted in the death of six people, and it seemed whether there is going to be recurrence of the tragic incidents of July 2012, when nearly four lakh, mainly Muslims, were displaced and sixty people died. Assam violence was a bit different than others as here the number of displaced were much more and it seemed that there is a plan to get the Bodo areas cleared from the presence of the Muslims. Here one also saw that in the process of rehabilitation the Government is having a lopsided approach and Muslims are not being rehabilitated as many of them do not fulfill the criterion of proper records due to various reasons. This was one case of violence where apart from police playing its role of a mere onlooker, the propaganda, based on misconceptions was made the base of violence. It has been propagated that Muslims are infiltrators, Bangldeshis and have been encroaching the lands of Bodos. Lot has been written to dispel this myth. Muslims have mainly been coming from Bengal from 18th Century due to the British policy of reducing the pressure on overpopulated Bengal and to ensure that the stretches of Assam, having low population density are populated. Since the perceptions have made a deep root in social common sense, the violence against Muslims, the citizens of Assam-India have gone on and communal forces have taken full advantage of that. The third incidence is from the Southern state of Andhra, where the historic monument of Charminar is being vandalized by putting up renovation of Bhagyalaxmi temple, which is abutting the Charminar. This violates the norms of Archaeological Survey of India. The plea of ASI that the changes in temple may damage the Minar and that this an illegal act is falling on the deaf years and government has been letting the act of desecration of Charminar going on, much to the annoyance of the people of old city of Hyderabad and historic Charminar area. There have been minor skirmishes due to which many a people have been injured and the area saw the curfew for some time.

These three incidents are very typical of as to what goes on to make a communal violence. There is preplanning in these acts, as is clear in all these cases. The pretext and rumours about violation of the modesty of women, is very much visible in the case of Faizabad. In case of Faizabad, apart from intimidating the minorities, burning their shops, the ransacking of the office of bilingual paper, Aap Ki Taqat is very symbolic. This paper is bilingual, Urdu and Hindi. Its belief is that Hindu Muslims are brothers and Hindi-Urdu are sisters. It has been talking of peace in Ayodhya and is opposed the communal politics which led to Babri demolition. In UP while the Samajwadi party (SP) is very much in the total control of situation, how come violence is taking place? SP has been always claiming to be secular and in past many a times it has come forward to protect the values of secularism. There seem to be deeper forces which are beyond the control of SP, or does SP sees a political benefit in letting violence happen remains to be seen. It is painfully obvious in case of UP, Faizabad also that police machinery is not interested in controlling the violence, even when it can. It either helps the rioters or looks the other way round when the violence is taking place. In Hyderabad one sees the use of historical places to incite the communal tension. How systematically communal forces built up the Ram Temple campaign leading to demolition of Babri Masjid is a sad reminder to what can happen in Hyderabad. In Ayodhya also Babri Masjid was a monument under control of ASI, but with political hysteria built around it, it was demolished in the broad day light with state, police very much in the know of things.

The multiple factors which lead to communal violence remain unaddressed so the recurrence of these acts of violence goes on in such a painful way. Social activists and scholars have pointed out the role of communal forces, state machinery, irrespective of who is in power; the role of rumours, the ‘social common sense’ targeted against minorities persists. It is very sure that unless the problem is dealt with in its totality the country will keep suffering the pain of this violence and minorities in particular will keep suffering. It also reminds us as to what is the state of our democracy and the need for an effective and balanced Communal Violence Bill? No democracy can be satisfactory unless the minorities are safe and secure and are having equity in economic matters. These incidents are reminders to all those having faith and longing for a peaceful, secular, democratic society that we need to work against those who operate on communal ground, we need to ensure that social misconceptions are removed and an atmosphere of amity is created and that pressures have to bring in Communal Violence prevention Bill to punish the acts of commission or omission by political authorities and the police forces.



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Minimum proof, maximum sentence – Editorial (Nov 24, 2012, The Hindu)

The cavalier approach of the police, especially in Delhi, to terror investigations has long hampered the country’s fight against terrorism. In many cases, the real culprits remain at large even as responsibility is wrongly fixed on persons who are either innocent or only peripherally connected to a particular incident. The terrible consequences of this unprofessionalism were revealed on Thursday when the Delhi High Court ordered the acquittal of two men wrongly sentenced to death in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar market blasts case. The Court was unsparing of the prosecution which, it said, had gone beyond “lapses and inefficiencies” to produce evidence whose “nature and truthfulness” were in serious doubt.

The message is inescapable: under pressure to show results, the police often fudge evidence, not bothering that this sleight of hand can rob an accused of the most precious gift ever – his life. In this case, the wrong done to Mirza Nissar Hussein and Mohammed Ali Bhatt was so enormous that when the higher court set it right, the two men found themselves dramatically transported from their condemned world of despair and death to full life and liberty.

In their judgment, Judges S. Ravindra Bhatt and G.P. Mittal made it a point to rebut the oft-used excuse in terror cases: that the nature of terrorism makes it difficult for the prosecution to meet the “impossible standards” of proof demanded by the courts: “In matters of liberty, the weakness of the state surely can’t be an excuse for lowering time-tested standards, especially in serious crimes where the accused stand to forfeit their life…” Indeed, with the court unequivocally reiterating a fundamental principle of justice-delivery, the time has truly come to reassess a state of affairs where manufactured evidence passes for investigation and acquittals are blamed on legal technicalities or on the unreliability of witnesses, more so in terror cases.

In another judgment of great import delivered in October this year, the Supreme Court overturned 11 convictions under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), rejecting the prosecution’s plea that it had committed only a technical error in overlooking a key safeguard of TADA. The court’s answer to this was that in the land of Gandhi, the means were necessarily inseparable from the ends. Rather than going after innocents and building cases on evidentiary quicksand – as it appears they have been doing in many cases – investigative agencies prosecuting terrorist crimes must learn to rely on improved technical and forensic evidence. At the end of the day, that is the only way to prevent the escape of real terrorists.



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