IAMC Weekly News Roundup - December 16th, 2013 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 16th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


International Human Rights Day a time for renewed resolve to uplift humanity say Indian Americans

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – https://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has called on people of all faiths to come together on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, to renew their commitment to the UN Declaration of Human Rights [1] and to work towards a world where our common humanity is the basis for mutual coexistence and co-operation.

Coming few days after the demise of legendary anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and the 21st anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjidin India, it would be most apt to remember Mandela’s words:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

As Indian Americans, the International Human Rights Day is also an occasion for profound introspection on some of the articles of the UN Declaration which are also enshrined in the Constitution of India. Article 3 of the Declaration upholds the right of every human being to life, liberty and security of person. The same rights are echoed in the preamble to the Constitution of India, which seeks to secure for all citizens, justice, liberty and equality. Article 21 of India’s Constitution declares that no deprivation of life and liberty is permitted except according to procedures established by law.

Unfortunately, increasing sectarian violence in India, marked by targeted killings of religious minorities and disadvantaged groups and accompanied by brutal forms of sexual violence against women are a stark reminder that the struggle to secure the life and liberty for all of India’s citizens is as relevant and urgent as ever. The horrific violence in Muzaffarnagar earlier this year, that led to the killing of over 60 people and the mass displacement of over 50,000 from their homes and ancestral lands shows that the horrors of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, can and will be repeated, unless we struggle against the hate ideologies that engender such violence. On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, IAMC has released a video titled ” Muzaffarnagar Bleeds: A Reenactment of Gujarat Riots of 2002, [2]” that exposes how the mass violence in Muzaffarnagar was engineered, and the human suffering it has wrought. The victims of Muzaffarnagar continue to suffer, due to the political chicanery and the apathy of those in positions of power. The International Human Rights Day is also a time to commemorate the struggle of the Dalit community and other disadvantaged groups in India, that have endured discrimination and bias for centuries.

“In this backdrop, the virulent opposition to House Resolution H.Res. 417 is a demonstration of the powerful forces arrayed against a change in the status quo, ” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “The resolution praises India’s ‘rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality,’ while raising concerns over the erosion of religious freedom. It is inspiring to see that the mere introduction of a resolution seeking to safeguard human rights and religious freedom has raised the hackles of those who wish to impose their narrow, sectarian vision over India,” added Mr. Khan [3] [4].

Terror attacks, such as the ones in Malegaon (2006 and 2008) and on Samjhauta Express (2007) and random bomb blasts continue to claim the lives of innocent people while also resulting in continued suffering for countless families whose loved ones are detained on flimsy grounds. Article 9 of the UN Declaration pronounces that none shall be “subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile,” a right that continues to be violated in India through the illegal detention of youth from the minorities [5], often on trumped-up charges of terror. The abduction and custodial death of Khalid Mujahid exemplifies the suffering of hundreds of such youth [6] [7].

Over six decades after India gained Independence, millions continue to struggle for the right guaranteed by Article 26 of the UN Declaration which says: “Everyone has the right to education,” and “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality…” and shall ” promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups.” In this context the manipulation of text books to indoctrinate young minds with an inaccurate and distorted version of India’s history is deeply alarming [8] [9].

IAMC has called on all those struggling to uphold human rights and justice for all, regardless of caste, creed, gender, or ethnic origin, to join hands in the struggle to save the soul of India, and to renew their commitment to uphold secularism in our society.

Indian American Muslim Council 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 www.iamc.com


Indian American Muslim Council
Ishaq Syed
Phone: (800) 839-7270
Email: info@iamc.com

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


Text of the UN Declaration of Human Rights

Muzaffarnagar Bleeds: A Reenactment of Gujarat Riots of 2002

Text of the House Resolution H.Res 417

Hindu American Foundation reveals its supremacist ideology through smear campaign

ANHAD Report – What It Means to be a Muslim in India Today

Khalid Muhahid – From Abduction to Custodial Killing

Framed, Damned, Acquitted – Dossiers of a Very Special Cell

In the Name of History – Examples from Hindutva inspired school textbooks in India

Hindutva, California Textbooks and a Smear Campaign

Muslims masquerade as Hindus for India job

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Evangelicals, Indian expats behind US visa ban on Modi (Dec 11, 2013, Deccan Herald)

In March 2005, the United States denied a visa to Gujarat’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, now the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in next year’s Indian elections. The visa was denied because of Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 riots in Gujarat that left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Muslims. But it came about from a highly unusual coalition made up of Indian-born activists, evangelical Christians, Jewish leaders and Republican members of Congress concerned about religious freedom around the globe. I had a front-row seat to these events as they unfolded. I worked in Washington. DC, from 2003 to 2011, mostly at Amnesty International and in the United States Congress, and I was a part of the campaign to deny Modi a visa. In 1996, Nina Shea, the director of the Centre for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, organised a summit sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group that represents 42,000 Evangelical Churches. At the conclusion of the event, the delegates pledged their collective efforts to “take appropriate action to combat the intolerable religious persecution now victimising fellow believers and those of other faiths.” … In the fall of 2002, an Indian-born, Washington-based evangelical Christian named John Prabhudoss led a delegation to riot-affected Ahmedabad that included two Republican congressmen, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Wolf. Another person on the trip was Raju Rajagopal, an Indian-born retired health professional based in Berkeley, Calif. “It was unimaginable what we saw in Gujarat,” Rajagopal said. “People in Gujarat told us that Indian Americans were sending loads of money to groups like the RSS and the VHP” that, he argued, had a role in fuelling the violence, Rajagopal said. In early 2005, Prabhudoss learned that the Asian American Hotel Owners Association was sponsoring a conference in south Florida in late March 2005 and had invited then-Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, the TV talk show host Chris Matthews and Modi. The association was created in 1989 as a trade group for hotel owners in the United States, and today there are 10,000 members representing 22,000 hotels. The group’s chairman, Nash Patel, said at the time that 98 per cent of the group’s members had roots in Gujarat. Soon after Modi’s United States visit was announced, 41 South Asian groups across the country came together to form the Coalition Against Genocide. On Feb. 24, 2005, a letter organised by the group was signed by over 100 professors and sent to the hotel association, asking them to rescind Modi’s invitation. Another pressure group flooded Matthews with letters.

On March 16, 2005, House Resolution 160 was introduced in Congress, condemning Modi “for his actions to incite religious persecution.” On March 18, the State Department denied Modi a visa. Three days later, the United States ambassador to India, David C Mulford, said, “This decision applies to Narendra Modi only. It is based on the fact that, as head of the state government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time.” Modi called the visa denial in 2005 “an attack on Indian sovereignty” and raised the question, “Will India also consider what America has done in Iraq when it processes visa applications of Americans coming to India?” Despite the success in denying Modi a United States visa, disillusionment quickly set in for Rajagopal, the retired California businessman who accompanied Prabhudoss to Gujarat in 2002. “The frustrating thing was that the visa denial was probably the only thing really dealt a blow to Modi,” he said. “I just wish it had been brought about by a large, secular coalition. I am not so sure that is true. The thing that made a difference was the right-wing evangelical support.” Prabhudoss acknowledged that evangelical support played a big part but said that Modi was denied a visa for other reasons as well. “Back then, we were working without any opposition. It was incredible, really,” Prabhudoss said. “The Modi supporters were there, but they sat that one out. And back then, the Indian lobby was not powerful like they are today. You could speak against Modi and there were no political consequences. Today, it is a completely different story.”

Joseph Grieboski, the founder of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy in Virginia, who also was deeply involved in trying to block Modi’s visit, said that the mood has shifted now. “When the US denied Modi a visa in 2005, it was like the U.S. denying a visa to the governor of Iowa — no offense to Gujarat,” he said. “The US did not see it as a big deal. And back then, it seemed clear to everyone in this town that Modi was involved in the riots. Now the picture is fuzzier, and many are intrigued by Modi.” While Republicans led the opposition to Modi’s visa in 2005, there are now Republicans among Modi’s strongest supporters. When the Tea Party candidate Joe Walsh campaigned in Illinois for Congress, he promised he would push the United States to grant Modi a visa. (He lost to his Democratic challenger, Tammy Duckworth.) In March, three Republicans members of Congress visited Modi in Gujarat, including Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state. The trip for Ms McMorris Rodgers and her husband cost $15,000 and was paid for by the co-founder of the National Indian American Public Policy Institute, Shalli Kumar, a supporter of Modi based in Chicago. But the opposition to Modi continues to be led by Republicans as well, in particular by Pitts and Wolf. In November, Pitts introduced House Resolution 417, which urges the United States government to continue to deny Modi a visa. Notably, the resolution has 28 co-sponsors, the majority of them Democrats.



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AAP may take on Modi on his home turf, contest all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat (Dec 14, 2013, Times of India)

Buoyed by its performance in Delhi assembly polls, Aam Admi Party (AAP) is planning to contest all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat and take on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on his home turf. The two-day meeting of AAP’s executive committee, which started here on Saturday, is deliberating on planning and execution of the party’s campaigning in the state for the 2014 elections, AAP’s Gujarat convener Sukhdev Patel told PTI. “We would like to contest on all the 26 seats and the deliberations are going on in the meeting about it,” he said replying to a query.

After the good show in Delhi, AAP had hinted that they might field one of their young leader Kumar Vishwas from Amethi against Rahul Gandhi and now the party is planning to take on Narendra Modi, who might fight his first Lok Sabha elections. When asked whether the party would fight against Modi, Patel said, “Yes, this is an important state as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate comes from Gujarat. We have to take him (Modi) on here, as AAP has to fight all the Lok Sabha seats of the country when people are distressed with the present democratic system.” However, the state BJP has said that AAP does not present any competition to the party in Gujarat.

“Any political party is welcome to fight elections as they have right to fight. But in Gujarat, it is BJP all the way and there is Congress in some pockets. The system here is by-partisan and it will remain so. Many other political parties like BSP, LJP, NCP also contest elections from here,” BJP spokesperson Harsad Patel said. AAP, formed out of movement for Jan Lokpal Bill agitation, stunned BJP and Congress when it won 28 seats in the Delhi assembly elections in its debut.



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New snoopgate audio tapes emerge, show girl’s family also tailed (Dec 14, 2013, Hindustan Times)

New audio tapes have emerged that may call into question the Gujarat government’s explanation for the surveillance of a young woman and a senior IAS officer ordered by Narendra Modi’s junior home minister Amit Shah in 2009. The tapes, released by lawyer Mukul Sinha, appear to show that Shah ordered IPS officer GL Singhal to keep the woman’s family under surveillance during visits they exchanged with IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, and even when the family was on a leisure trip to Bor Lake, on the outskirts of Bhavnagar, without her. The recordings also suggest that the Gujarat police tracked her location in Bangalore.

The state government has maintained that the surveillance was ordered following a personal request from the woman’s father who was concerned about the risk posed to her by Sharma. According to Sinha, the picture now emerging contradicts this claim. “The recorded conversation of 18th August, 2009 and 21, 22 and 23rd August, 2009, totally demolishes the story of BJP that Modi had provided the police coverage to Madhuri (name changed) to “protect” her from the harassment by Pradeep Sharma,” Sinha said on his website, truthofgujarat.com, where the audio recordings and transcripts were released. HT couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the tapes.

Sharma is embroiled in a legal battle with the Gujarat government over corruption-related charges. He claims the charges were trumped up. Asked about the new tapes, Gujarat government spokesperson and finance minister Nitin Patel told HT, “He was not aware so can’t comment on the matter.” In one of the new tapes, Shah is purportedly heard directing Singhal to make “arrangements” and “increase the number of persons” on surveillance duty during a visit by the young woman’s family to Sharma’s residence in Bhavnagar. Sharma was municipal commissioner at the time.

The recorded conversations show that on 18th August, 2009, Pradeep Sharma met Madhuri’s ailing mother in Ahmedabad. He went to her house in his official car and spent fifteen minutes with her. On 22nd August, Madhuri’s father, his wife, their two sons, son’s wife and a baby left for Bhavnagar in two cars. They reached Bhavnagar in the evening and went straight to Sharma’s official residence and stayed with him till late evening. Thereafter the family went to the Circuit House where they stayed for the night. They started for Ahmedabad the next morning.

In another conversation that day, Singhal is heard informing Shah about the woman’s location in Banglore, saying “that lady has reached there and her location is coming as North Bangalore Sir at quarter to eight now”. The following day, Singhal updates Shah on the details of a family visit to “an old palace of a king near Bor lake” and their return journey, including stopping for petrol and their likely route. “In doing this meticulous job of tracking Pradeep Sharma and the… (woman’s family), Amit Shah has in fact established the close relation between Pradeep Sharma and the… family destroying the BJP’s allegation that (the woman) was facing any threat from Pradeep Sharma,” wrote Sinha on his website.



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Ishrat case: witnesses get cold feet over Modi (Dec 14, 2013, Hindustan Times)

It was a different kind of Narendra Modi effect that put brakes on CBI’s probe into the Ishrat Jahan case. Sources told HT that once Narendra Modi was declared as the prime ministerial candidate by the BJP in September, few witnesses, who the CBI hoped might have shed light on conspiracy and conspirators behind Ishrat’s killing, started developing cold feet and declined to help the agency further.

“The CBI managed to get cooperation from some of the key witnesses early this year onwards which helped it to file the first charge sheet in the case against seven policemen by July. The agency then started focusing on the conspiracy part of the case but by September as Modi became the PM candidate, witnesses started hesitating in coughing up further information,” said a source who had been briefed about the probe details.

In its first charge sheet, the CBI stated that Ishrat and her employer Javed Shiekh alias Pranesh Pillai were killed along with two others – Jishan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana – in a fake encounter in Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The CBI also said the local police fabricated a claim that Johar and Rana came to Gujarat to kill Modi and other Hindu leaders.

Due to non-cooperation of witnesses, the CBI could not get clinching evidence in the case against Modi’s key aide and former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah, who it suspected may have played a part in the conspiracy. In the absence of prosecutable evidence, the CBI may exclude Shah’s name from the supplementary charge sheet that is about to be filed in the next few weeks. At the moment, CBI director Ranjit Sinha is vetting the probe team’s report in the case and is expected to take a call soon.



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Unlawful Activities Prevention Act a Threat to Democracy: JTSA (Dec 15, 2013, New Indian Express)

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is being misused to frame Muslim youths and is a threat to democracy, according to Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association president Manisha Sethi. In the city on Saturday to talk about the alleged misuse of the draconian law, Sethi elicited alleged cases of fabrication of evidence that took place in Madhya Pradesh, from 2001 till now, in which Muslim youths have been framed and convicted by the police. “Over 80 cases have been registered under this Act since 2001 from the time the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was banned.

All these cases were based on bizarre charges based on SIMI literature that was produced before the ban was imposed,” she pointed out. She said that in several cases in Madhya Pradesh, evidences like an issue of the Tehreek-e-Millat magazine with the handwritten name of a girl was used as evidence in multiple, unrelated cases and that it was a case of judicial abdication. “It is a common feeling that the judiciary functions within the rules of law. But magistrates do not so much as look up at suspects before signing extensions for police remand,” she said.

Sethi also condemned the torture inflicted upon suspects to obtain confessions and get narco analysis tests on them by investigating bodies. “The machinery and security agencies are all complicit in manufacturing terrorists and convicts,” she said. Shantanu Chakraborty of the Alternative Law Forum said that several cases are fabricated in Karnataka against religions, sexual minorities. Mentioning the example of the recent Malleswaram bomb blast case and the terror plot to assassinate journalists and politicians, he said that there were several inconsistencies and fabrications in the investigations and that the Act gave a free hand to security agencies to erode the rights of Muslim youths.



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Muzaffarnagar riots: Court rejects bail pleas of two (Dec 17, 2013, IBN)

A local court rejected the bail plea of two men accused of being involved in the murder of four persons during riots in Lank village in Muzaffarnagar.

Bail pleas of Rupender and Mahak Singh were rejected on Monday by the district sessions court judge Rama Jain, who said that there was no case of bail. According to the prosecution, Meherdin, Rahis, Tahir and Wahid were killed in the riots on September 8, 2013. Wahid was burnt alive, they said.

The police had registered two cases in connection with Meherdin’s killing while one case for the murder of Rahisa Tahir and Wahid. More than 60 persons were killed and over 40,000 displaced in communal violence that had broken out in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in September this year.



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Cabinet clears Communal Violence Prevention Bill, makes it community neutral (Dec 16, 2013, Hindustan Times)

After much delay, the controversial communal violence prevention bill was on Monday cleared by the Union cabinet after removal of certain provisions, reducing the role of the legislation in the handling of riots and making it neutral between communities. The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2013, which is facing stiff opposition from BJP and some other parties, is likely to be introduced in Parliament on Tuesday.

Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the bill was approved by the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the government “will try to table the bill in Parliament tomorrow”. The bill, in its initial avatar, had mentioned that the culpability for the riots would be on the majority community. However, after much hue and cry by BJP and some other parties, this provision was amended and has now been made neutral between all groups or communities.

The powers of intervention of the Centre in the event of riots have also been diluted in the revised bill as a result of which the Union government will not have any perceived overriding powers anywhere. The fresh draft says: “If the state government is of the opinion that assistance of the Central government is required for controlling the communal violence, it may seek the assistance of the Central government to deploy armed forces of the Union for such purposes…”

Earlier, the Centre was given unilateral powers to send central paramilitary forces during the outbreak of communal violence without consulting the state government. The amendments were carried out in the wake of criticism by BJP besides West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. In the wake of apprehensions over the proposed law, government sources had claimed earlier that the bill is not hitting the federal structure of the country and Central government’s role will largely be of coordination and will act only when the state government seeks help.

The BJP has maintained it will oppose the legislation when it comes up for discussion in Parliament on the ground that it would be a “threat to India’s communal harmony”. Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh some days back, saying “the communal violence bill is ill-conceived, poorly drafted and a recipe for disaster”. He had added that “the timing to bring the bill is suspicious owing to political considerations and vote bank politics, rather than genuine concerns”. Responding to this, Shinde had said, “We will bring the communal violence bill this session, Modi can keep doing his work”.



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Anna-Kejrwal spat on Lokpal out in the open (Dec 15, 2013, Rediff)

Rubbishing Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal’s contention that the Lokpal bill under consideration in Parliament was weak, activist Anna Hazare has said that “if anyone feels there are shortcomings in the bill after it is passed, they should fast for it.” “I have read the provisions of the bill properly. If you (Kejriwal) think the bill has any shortcomings, fast for it,” Hazare, whose fast for passage of Jan Lokpal Bill entered sixth day on Sunday, said while talking to reporters at Ralegan Siddhi.

The anti-graft crusader said several of his expectations from the legislation have been met and he expressed satisfaction over the bill which has been presented in the Rajya Sabha. “Three issues for which we had campaigned in the past, including Citizen’s Charter, are also being addressed,” he said. Asked about the differences between him and Kejriwal, Hazare said, “I don’t wish to comment…Why should we quarrel?”

“The government’s control over CBI has been removed in this bill. I saw 13 such points and told the government that I welcome this,” Hazare said. “That is why I thought that the bill is beneficial to the people and country,” he added.



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Narayan Sai’s aides detained for bribing cops; Rs 5 crore seized (Dec 13, 2013, Times of India)

A sub-inspector and five aides of self-styled godman Asaram’s son Narayan Sai were detained on Friday for allegedly attempting to bribe the cops and other officials in a bid to weaken the sexual assault case against him and Rs 5 crore seized from their possesion. Police said the Rs 5 crore seized from Sai’s aides was allegedly meant to be given as bribe to cops, doctors and judicial officials.

“PSI CK Kumbhani, posted at detection of crime branch (DCB), Surat, was detained along with five other Narayan Sai aides who tried to bribe the police to weaken Sai’s sexual assault case,” deputy commissioner of police (Crime) Shobha Bhutada said. “Cash worth Rs 1 crore was seized from Sai’s associate Uday Sanghani and Rs 4 crore was recovered from Ketan Patel, a real estate developer based here,” the police said, adding that all the six have been taken into custody.

PSI Kumbhani was also detained for demanding money, promising that he would distribute it to police officers, doctors and judicial officials in order to weaken the rape case, the police said. Narayan Sai, 40, is in judicial remand in connection with a rape case against him. Sai was brought to the city on December 4 after he was arrested by the Delhi Police from the Delhi-Haryana border, along with his two aides after a car chase. Two sisters had lodged complaints against Narayan Sai and his father Asaram of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges.



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Rape cases up 125% in Delhi since December 16 incident (Dec 15, 2013, Hindustan Times)

In the year since a brutal gang rape took the life of a young woman and made the entire country stand up and say enough is enough, there has been a 125% jump in the number of rape cases in Delhi. Molestation cases are up a massive 417%. That may not necessarily be a bad thing. It’s because more and more cases are being reported and registered, the police say. A tough new law now holds the cops directly accountable, with refusal to lodge a case inviting a two-year jail sentence.

But how long can the police sustain this, that’s the big question. The force deals with very real constraints – a severe manpower crunch that has seen one cop handling as many as 18-20 cases at a time, and a lack of forensic testing facilities that is crucial for evidence collection and analysis. These constraints impact the quality of investigation. “An internal examination showed that only 60% of such complaints could withstand judicial scrutiny,” an officer admitted.

Till November this year, the Delhi Police registered 1,493 cases of rape against 661 in the corresponding period last year, 3,237 cases of molestation against 625 in the same period, 852 cases of harassment against 165. “Safety of women is our top priority and all necessary measures to ensure it are being taken,” said commissioner BS Bassi.

Every complaint is converted into a first information report, each of which is then taken up for scrutiny on a regular basis for the filing of a charge sheet. “All cases of sexual assault are monitored on a monthly basis,” said Deepak Mishra, special commissioner of police (law and order). “Our endeavour is to file charge sheets in every single case within a month of its being reported.” But with just one forensic facility currently at their disposal, supplementary charge sheets are the best the police can do in most cases, they say. The 80,000-strong city force already has a backlog of 10,000 cases with new ones coming in at an alarming rate.

Lawyers, however, feel differently. “The police are duty-bound to register cases as and when received and the total number of complaints does not matter under the criminal procedure code. A closure report can be filed if investigation proves a false complaint. However, there’s enough manpower in the form of personnel serving in district lines who can be utilised for patrolling, if not investigation,” said high court advocate Vikas Garg.



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Opinions and Editorials

Balancing act: Why RSS is firmly backing Narendra Modi – By Nistula Hebbar (Dec 13, 2013, Economic Times)

Victory, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) now knows, can make it easier to live with a compromise. In the fraught filial relationship between the Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi’s appointment as the Prime Ministerial candidate this September reflected not just a process of dialogue and compromise between the RSS and Modi, but also the Sangh’s capitulation in endorsing a leader with a personality cult.

But the results of the 2013 Assembly polls have just proved the RSS right. In September this year, the RSS and its affiliate organisations, including top leaders of the BJP, met for a two-day confabulation in Delhi, after which Gujarat chief minister Modi was declared the BJP’s PM candidate. But behind the scenes, the RSS threw its full weight into persuading naysayers in the BJP itself. It also faced up to bitter truths about its own future which seemed inextricably tied with BJP’s electoral success. But just how did all this come about and what does it mean for the 2014 elections?

RSS and Modi – even though he was a product of the Sangh – haven’t shared the best of equations in the past. Modi, during his past two tenures in Gujarat successfully sidelined Sangh influence in the state, a former stronghold, and made sure that only his writ ran there. This created simmering tensions between him and the Sangh, some of which VHP leader Praveen Togadia has vented publicly. Sangh insiders say that the decision to back Modi was arrived at after a long period of soul searching and some pretty risky moves on the Parivar chess boards. Ultimately, Modi’s popularity and the Sangh’s own feedback from its pranth pracharak swung it.v”There was an attempt to show that the 2002 riots was a reflection of RSS and its ideology. Supporters of the RSS and pracharaks who resisted this kind of propaganda polarised the cadre behind Narendra Modi,” says Rakesh Sinha, author of a well-regarded biography of RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. “The cadre felt Modi was suffering the brunt of the witch-hunt.”

Sources within the Sangh say Modi’s popularity and his image as the man who can lead BJP to power makes the strain in the equations between him and the RSS a lesser consideration. “For many years, BJP has been in the opposition. It’s been buffeted by ideological confusion as in the case of LK Advani’s Jinnah remarks and the infighting of a post Atal-Advani world. The 2009 elections were a washout and the party looked like it had nothing to offer,” said a senior RSS office bearer. In fact, some top Sangh office bearers had started advancing the view that the time had come for redrawing the political arm of the RSS, just as it had been done after the failed Janata experiment of 1977-79. Joint general secretary of the RSS, Dattatreya Hosabele had reportedly said this at a closed-door Sangh meeting in Karnataka in 2010.

This excerpt from a column, penned by Karnataka pranth pracharak Mukund, in a local daily duly sums it up well: “Once, a Swayamsevak asked Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, who entered a political party as a Sangh Swayamsevak and seeded a new ideology and culture there: “There is a saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.



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Article 370 and BJP – By Firoz Khan (Dec 13, 2013, TwoCircles.net)

Chief Minister of Gujarat and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing a rally recently in Jammu demanded that there should be a discussion on Article 370 that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Naturally this sparked a protest form many other parties. On one side is the BJP and on the other are all other secular parties. J&K is ruled by the National Conference and Omar Abdullah is the chief minister. Omar and his party are in favour of article 370 and therefore he is the first to raise the objection to the demand of Modi and BJP. Omar blamed Modi for spreading lies and misguiding the nation. He threw a challenge to Modi or any of his representatives to discuss Article 370. Till now the BJP as a party hasn’t accepted this challenge. But the president of J&K wing of the BJP Jugal Kishore Sharma has asked Omar to fix date and time to discuss the matter.

It is not clear whether Omar and Jugal will really discuss the matter or it is simply challenging each other to keep the heat on. This matter must be discussed but not in public forum. The right place is the parliament. BJP and other political parties, from time to time, raise the issue of reconsidering the validity and usefulness of Article 370 of Indian constitution. But none seems to be serious about the issue. BJP raises the matter particularly at the time of elections. Once, elections are over no one from that party say anything till next elections. This shows the hollowness of its intention.

Article 370 of Indian constitution grants special status to J&K. According to this Article Indian laws and constitution can’t be implemented in that state. As for J&K the Indian government can take decisions related to foreign affairs matters, telecommunications, defence and finance. Excepting these four matters J&K is authorised to take decisions in all other matters. Under the Article 370 J&K has been authorised to have its own constitution and laws governing citizenship. Under this Article J&K has been granted an autonomous status. In India Parliament being the supreme can only enact new laws or amend the existing laws. These laws have to be implemented throughout India but not in J&K. Interesting thing is that any new law or amendment passed by Indian parliament has to be ratified by J&K legislature. If they are not ratified by the state legislature these can’t be implemented in J&K. It means the J&K legislature is above the Indian parliament.

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)was originally founded as Jana Sangh by Pandit Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and he was the first president of the newly formed party. Mukherjee was a cabinet minister in the cabinet of Jawahar Lal Nehru. Nehru signed an agreement in 1950 with the first prime minister of Pakistan Liyaqat Ali khan and Mukherjee resigned in protest. His opposition to Article 370 was well known. He believed that by enacting Article 370 the Indian government of the time surrendered to Shaikh Abdulla, grandfather of present day chief minister Omar Abdulla. He considered Article 370 a tool to create the third country out of old undivided India. At that time the chief minister of J&K was called the prime minister! From time to time Article 370 was amended and made softer. But still it grants J&K such special status that the impression it carries is J&K is not one of the Indian states but a separate country.

The Indian constitution has granted some basic rights to its citizens. The people of J&K are free to live and own property anywhere in India but no Indian can buy any land or property in J&K. Modi said that women in J&K have not been granted same rights granted to men. There are discriminatory laws. If any man from J&K marries any woman from any part of India that woman after marriage is considered J&K citizen but if a J&K woman marries any person outside of J&K she loses her right of citizenship. These are only a few example that show how Article 370 doesn’t allow Indian laws to be implemented in J&K. The main thing is that India spends money to manage the administration of J&K. Any development taking place in J&K is because of taxes paid by Indian tax payers. Providing security is the responsibility of Indian military. India is responsible to provide all facilities but have no right over J&K. …



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Winter in exile – By Harsh Mander (Dec 14, 2013, The Hindu)

As the winter cold descends this year on Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in Western U.P., some 20,000 people will camp in makeshift unofficial camps amidst squalor and official neglect, or survive in small rented tenements or with relatives – exiles from the villages of their birth. Three months after one of the grimmest communal outbreaks in more than a decade, the dominant mood among the survivors is still of fear and despair, amid a persisting climate of orchestrated hatred. A hate campaign – falsely claiming that Muslim boys were enticing Jat Hindu girls in a “love jihad” – led to violent murderous attacks in September on Muslim settlements mainly of poor agricultural workers in the two districts. Some 50,000 people fled in fear, and took refuge in Muslim majority villages mostly in the grounds of madrassas and mosques; belatedly, the State commenced food supplies to these camps. A week later, I joined a fact-finding committee to enquire into the condition of the survivors. Almost the same team – Seema Mustafa, Sukumar Muralidharan, Kamal and Anuradha Chenoy, and Rammohan – decided to revisit the area nearly three months after the mass violence to evaluate the aftermath of the carnage.

We now found that all relief camps had been officially terminated, even though several displaced persons were still unwilling to return home because they continued to feel unsafe. Whereas displaced persons in camps should be officially assisted and supported to return to their original homes, to force them to do so by premature closure of camps can result only in thousands being left without even the meagre food and health support which the government had extended in the camps. Rural riots are very different from urban ones, because people usually know their attackers intimately, unlike the relative anonymity of cities. The sense of betrayal and loss, and the associated anger, pain and bitterness therefore generally runs much deeper in rural riots. As one survivor who continues to live in a makeshift unofficial camp remarked to us, “When faith is broken, it is very hard for it to be rebuilt.”

The sense of fear and alienation of the survivors is enhanced by distressing reports of organised social and economic boycott of Muslims after the mass violence. Many men testify that if they go back to their villages, they are told they should shave their beards off if they wished to live in their village. People also report similar hate exchanges in buses and public spaces. Three young men were killed when they went to work in their fields. Sporadic incidents of sexual assault are also reported. Survivors recount intimidation and boycott in employment as farm labour, or economic activities like pheris¸ or selling cloth and other goods from house to house. The confidence of survivors to return to homes is further shaken because of the very low number of arrests. For around 540 FIRs registered in connection with the violence, involving more than 6,000 accused persons, as few as 208 arrests have been made so far. Even the Sadhvi who instigated violence with her hate speeches in the September 7 mahapanchayat was arrested only on the day of our visit, on December 2. This reflects regrettably low political and administrative will to ensure legal action against those who indulged in mass hate violence in September 2013.

One reason given for low number of arrests is that large numbers of women block the entrance to the village whenever police vehicles drive there for arrests, or that tractors are parked to thwart police passage. Survivors on the other hand believe that police themselves informally tip off the villagers before arriving to make arrests, otherwise how would so many assemble at short notice to blockade village roads? This allegation is difficult to independently verify, but no self-respecting police administration can accept this kind of public blockade to persist when it comes in the way of fulfilling their official duties. The SSP of Muzaffarnagar also said that it was necessary to verify independently if the complaints were authentic and plausible or malicious and false, before undertaking the arrests. It is as though the police have shifted the burden to prove the crime to the shoulders of the battered and displaced survivors. It has been our experience of many riots that it is unusual for survivors as a rule to lodge false and malicious complaints after communal carnages, therefore it is unreasonable for police to presume that many complaints may have been filed to settle personal enmity.

There are also distressing signs of judicial bias, because most arrested persons have been granted bail almost the next day or soon after their arrests. This ignores the gravity of hate crimes, and the susceptibility of the survivors to intimidation because of their vulnerable situation after mass targeted violence has spurred large-scale fear, destruction of livelihoods and habitats and migration. It appears that these refugees from hate have little to look forward to, except a long and lonely winter of continued exile.



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UP, AAP And Away – By Virendra Nath Bhatt (Dec 21, 2013, Tehelka)

The stunning debut by the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi Assembly election seems to have created a roadblock in the hitherto unchecked march of the Narendra Modi juggernaut to Delhi. What is most galling for the BJP is that Arvind Kejriwal’s party has emerged as its alternative rather than that of the Congress, which has been decimated in four state Assembly elections. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP can draw consolation from the fact that AAP is yet to strike roots in the state and is still in the process of setting up its organisational structure.

The AAP’s emergence has also stunned caste-based political parties in the state, represented by the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Opposition Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), who together occupy nearly two-thirds of the political space in Uttar Pradesh. In the past two decades, both have flourished on the strength of their caste-based, fossilised vote banks. Political observers believe that the agenda of clean and accountable politics pursued by AAP will prove to be a big headache for both the SP and the BSP, which are more of a family enterprise filled to the brim with tainted leaders with criminal backgrounds.

The Congress and the BJP maintain that the 2014 General Election will be fought over national issues. But, political observers feel that it would be naïve on the part of parties to underestimate AAP’s real impact, which goes much beyond its immediate performance in Delhi. “Until 8 December, the day of counting of votes in Delhi, both the BJP and theCongress believed that, for the common man, they were the most viable alternatives to each other, both in Delhi and nationally,” says CPI leader Ashok Mishra. “But that is no longer the case. The success of AAP has proved, in the true sense of the word, that a third option is possible even if it does not always win. In many states, including Uttar Pradesh, there are numerous small political parties fighting for the cause of common people. Now, they can join hands with AAP and make life difficult for both the national parties.

“All the political parties in Uttar Pradesh will now have to factor in the emergence of AAP in their respective strategy for the 2014 General Election,” adds Mishra. A senior Congress leader echoes his views, saying Delhi is not just any other state. “The citizens of Delhi are drawn from all over north India, particularly Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and their electoral preference and behaviour is bound to make an impact in their home states,” he says on condition of anonymity. “In their post-poll analysis, psephologists and political pundits will have to find out as to how people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar voted in the Delhi election.”

So far, AAP leaders have not announced any master plan for contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. However, in Uttar Pradesh, the brand-new party is likely to contest the Parliament seats in the National Capital Region (NCR). “We are still preoccupied with Delhi,” says Paloni, an AAP leader in New Delhi. “The party is yet to consider the 2014 polls, but it’s certain that we will contest all the seats in the NCR and other parts of the country.” The NCR in Uttar Pradesh also includes Noida and Ghaziabad, which is represented byBJP president Rajnath Singh, a native of Chanduli district near Varanasi in eastern Uttar Pradesh. According to BJP sources, Rajnath Singh, who had earlier dropped the idea of changing his constituency after Modi’s candidature for the prime minister’s post was announced in September, is again exploring a safe constituency in Uttar Pradesh. …



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A law on test – By Kirti Singh (Dec 27, 2013, Frontline)

The rape, sexual assault and harassment case against Tarun Tejpal highlights several important legal and other issues. It underscores the vulnerability of women, even highly educated and middle class, in their workplaces. It draws attention to the multiple concerns that women have before they even make the initial complaint. The victim/complainant in the Tejpal case is reported to have said that she was confused, hurt and scared, and did not want to lose her job. She, therefore, continued to discharge her official responsibilities and behave “normally” in public. This is why she did not immediately report the matter. However, the defence is using this “delay” to show that no “assault” had taken place.

It is well known that apart from losing their jobs, most women who make complaints of sexual harassment are accused of filing a false complaint or of acquiescing in the act. In rape cases, one of the standard defences inevitably is that the victim consented to the sexual act. Thus, though, at first Tejpal is said to have admitted that he attempted a “sexual liaison” with the victim despite her “clear reluctance that [she] did not want such attention from [him]”, he later claimed that “it was a fleeting, totally consensual encounter”. The initial admission and subsequent retraction was also noted in the trial court order rejecting anticipatory bail in Goa. Also, most women, naturally, do not want to face the trauma and agony of going through this process of blame and counter-blame, which takes a long time to come to a conclusion given the law’s inevitable delays.

As has been said elsewhere, this case is also, in many ways, a test case for the new rape and sexual assault laws that were fast-forwarded after the Nirbhaya case. There are two important changes in the substantive rape law which squarely apply to the Tejpal case. One is the enlarged definition of rape in Section 375 which not only is, as hitherto defined, penile-vaginal penetration, but includes also forced oral sex (Section 375(d)), and insertion “to any extent” of “any object or a part of the body… into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman”. Therefore, Tejpal’s action amounts to rape under the new law.…



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Murder and mystery – By T.S. Subramanian (Dec 27, 2013, Frontline)

S. Anandha Sharma, now 28 years old, remembers clearly what happened nine years ago on that fateful day. He was doing his postgraduation in Sanskrit at Presidency College, Chennai. He rang up his father, A. Sankararaman, in the morning and told him that he would not be coming home to Kancheepuram, about 85 km from Chennai, to celebrate Krishna Jayanthi. Sankararaman insisted that his son come home and spend time with the family. Anandha Sharma stood his ground and said, “No.” But the father firmly told his son, “You are coming home,” and hung up. That evening, Anandha Sharma received a phone call from his uncle, who said, “Your father is not well. Come home immediately.” But Anandha Sharma’s sister, Mythreyi, took the phone from her uncle and told her brother, “Somebody has hacked our father.”

On that day, September 3, 2004, Sankararaman, manager of Sri Varadarajaswamy temple in Kancheepuram, was hacked to death in his office on the temple premises by a group of persons. On November 11, 2004, Deepavali day, Jayendra Saraswathi, the high-profile pontiff of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, was arrested by the Tamil Nadu Police late in the night from the guest house of a textile mill in Mahabubnagar, Andhra Pradesh (“Behind the arrest”, Frontline, December 3, 2004). The police said Sankararaman had become a thorn in the flesh of the Sankaracharya: he wrote letters to the mutt head in his own name and under a pseudonym complaining about financial irregularities in the mutt, deploring the way the pontiff had been handling the mutt’s affairs, and scuttling his trip to China by filing a case in the Madras High Court.

The arrest caused a nationwide sensation. The police named Jayendra Saraswathi and the junior pontiff, Vijayendra Saraswathi, as accused number one, or A-1, and A-2 respectively in the Sankararaman murder case. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) was in power in the State then and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister.…



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