IAMC Weekly News Roundup - December 17th, 2018 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 17th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Narendra Modi: Is hardline Hindu politics failing India’s PM? (Dec 16, 2018, BBC)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost to the main opposition Congress party in the Hindi-speaking heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, all of which they previously governed. Local parties swept up the other two states – Telangana and Mizoram – putting the BJP in a tough place ahead of general elections next year.

It appears that after winning no less than 13 state elections since coming to power in 2014, the BJP’s seemingly invincible electoral juggernaut is losing steam. There is a great deal of introspection within and outside the party. And the main question is: has the BJP’s recent pursuit of a hardline Hindu agenda – known locally as Hindutva – backfired? Will a departure from an inclusive, development agenda to a polarising, communal one cost the BJP general election too?

These are legitimate questions because the party deployed the chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, as its star campaigner in the five states that went to polls. Mr Adityanath is widely considered a controversial figure because of his well-publicised anti-Muslim comments.… Many observers believe that the BJP’s defeats are because the party deviated from the development agenda that swept them to power in 2014. The pursuit of Hindutva has backfired, they say.…



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India voters hoof out cow minister in state elections (Dec 12, 2018, The Sun)

India’s only dedicated “cow minister” has been dumped in state elections, ending a controversial tenure that saw hundreds of the sacred animals starve to death and poisoned on his watch. Otaram Dewasi, the first head of Rajasthan’s cow ministry, was turfed out yesterday when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was thumped in the desert state and two other key regional polls. Dewasi… was defeated by 10,000 votes by an independent candidate.

Hindus consider cows sacred and the BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has campaigned for their protection at a state and national level and introduced harsh penalties for mistreating them. But the cause has spawned cow vigilantism in parts of India in recent years, with people accused of carrying beef or slaughtering the animals murdered by mobs. Rajasthan, a western state bordering Pakistan, has witnessed some of the most high-profile cow lynchings in recent times, including the brazen beating to death of a Muslim dairy farmer on a busy highway last year.

The state created India’s first ministry exclusively for cow protection in 2015 when the BJP won the state and appointed Dewasi, a policeman turned politician, to be in charge. He imposed a new 20 per cent surcharge on new property purchases – dubbed a “cow tax” – to generate cash to run the 2,300 shelters in his state for abandoned cows. He also branded roughly 85 per cent of the 650,000 cows under his care to stop them being smuggled. But his reputation was marred in 2016 when 500 cows starved to death at a state-run shelter when the facility was flooded during heavy rains.…



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’84 riots: HC blasts Delhi Police for ‘active connivance’ in carnage (Dec 17, 2018, The Tribune)

The killing of over 2,700 Sikhs in the national capital during the 1984 riots was a “carnage of unbelievable proportions” and the way the Delhi Police acted at that time established their “apathy” and “active connivance” in the brutal murders, the Delhi High Court Monday said in stringent observations.

The high court, which convicted and sentenced senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life term for “remainder of his natural life” in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, blasted the Delhi Police for its “abject failure” in probing the violence following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

It said that police had “indeed turned a blind eye and blatantly abetted the crimes committed by the rioting mob” and the probe conducted by them in these cases was a farce. A Bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel noted it was “extraordinary” that despite there being as many as 341 deaths in the Delhi Cantonment area alone over the span of four days beginning November 1, 1984, only 21 FIRs were lodged, of which only 15 pertained to deaths or murders.…



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Differences crop up between BJP, RSS over Ram temple (Dec 13, 2018, Hindustan Times)

A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost power in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, where its writ ran unchallenged for three terms, and in Rajasthan, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, its ideological mentor, is believed to have told the party that the electoral setback is a message from voters disappointed with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for not building a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

According to people aware of the developments, while the party is of the view that the Supreme Court should be allowed to take a call on the issue, the RSS wants the government to pass a law facilitating the construction of a temple, and believes voters are punishing the BJP for not doing so.

“While there is consensus on the issue of constructing a Ram Temple between the party and the Sangh, there is some disagreement on the method for doing so. There are many voices within the party who believe that the Sangh should not insist on the government presenting a bill in Parliament,” said one RSS functionary aware of the developments.…



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Hindu nationalists demand demolition of one of India’s biggest mosques during huge protest (Dec 11, 2018, The Independent)

Indians have reacted with outrage on social media after videos circulated showing Hindu nationalist protesters calling for the demolition of one of the country’s largest mosques. Thousands of demonstrators descended on Delhi on Sunday, in the latest planned protest to demand the construction of a temple to Lord Ram, one of Hinduism’s most revered figures, at the site of a ruined mosque in the northern city of Ayodhya.

It was organised by two groups closely affiliated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and saw Hindus marching into Old Delhi, a part of the city known for its historic Muslim community.

Witnesses described hearing “anti-Muslim slogans” along the route of the march, and videos posted online showed demonstrators shouting “Ek dhakka aur do, Jama Masjid tod do” – “With one more push, destroy the Jama Masjid.” Built in 1656, the Jama Masjid is one of India’s biggest and most important mosques. It was the royal place of worship for India’s ruling Muslim emperors for two centuries before the British invasion.…



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Bulandshahr SHO killing: Notices to Bajrang Dal leader, 22 others (Dec 16, 2018, Indian Express)

Almost a fortnight after a police officer and a youth were killed in mob violence in Bulandshahr, police have issued court notices to 23 accused who are on the run – including Bajrang Dal’s district convenor Yogesh Raj, a local BJP leader and a BJYM worker – declaring them proclaimed offenders and warning that their properties will be attached if they don’t surrender within a month.

While the notices were issued earlier this week, they were pasted on the doors of the accused on Friday. Posters with photographs of most of the accused, with their names and addresses, have also been pasted at public places in Bulandshahr and neighbouring districts.

Police Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, the station house officer of Siyana police station in Bulandshahr, and a local youth, Sumit Kumar, were shot dead on December 3, as a mob protested against alleged cow slaughter. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) is probing the case, and 17 people have been arrested so far.…



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Communal Question about Cow Slaughter in Exam Paper sparks outrage (Dec 11, 2018, Sabrang India)

In a shocking display of insensitivity and a complete disrespect for India’s diverse cultural fabric, law students of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University were asked an extremely communal and hate inciting question in their examination paper.

The question that appeared in the third semester LLB paper on December 7 read, “Ahmed, a Muslim, kills a cow in a market in the presence of Rohit, Tushar, Manav and Rahul, who are Hindus. Has Ahmed committed any offence?”

At a time when attacks by cow vigilantes have grown across the country and over 80 per cent of those killed in these cases have been Muslims, one wonders what purpose would such a question serve, other than to ignite the flames of anti-minority sentiment? Given how this comes just days after suspected cow vigilantes allegedly killed a police officer in Bulandshahar, the offensive and insensitive question cannot be dismissed lightly.…



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India should have been declared a Hindu nation post Independence: Meghalaya HC judge (Dec 13, 2018, New Indian Express)

In an unusual judgment, the Meghalaya High Court has urged the Prime Minister to enact laws to allow non-Muslims living in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to come to India and be given Indian citizenship.

The order, which observes that India should have long been declared a Hindu nation, also said that nobody should try to make India another Islamic country.

The 37-page order passed on Monday said, “I make it clear that nobody should try to make India another Islamic country, otherwise it will be a doomsday for India and the world.” The single bench headed by Justice S R Sen made these observations while disposing of a petition by Amon Rana, who was denied domicile certificate by the Meghalaya government. …



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Interpol’s red corner notice against Choksi in PNB fraud (Dec 14, 2018, The Tribune)

Interpol has issued a red corner notice against absconding billionaire Mehul Choksi, who is accused of cheating state-run Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore in alleged collusion with his nephew Nirav Modi, officials said on Thursday.

The international police cooperation agency issued the notice against Choksi on Wednesday on the request of the CBI, rejecting his contentions of being persecuted by Indian agencies and the case being political in nature, they said.…

Choksi, 59, managing director of Gitanjali Gems Ltd, who escaped in January this year along with his nephew Nirav, his wife Ami Modi and brother Nishal Modi, has taken Antigua citizenship. “The Interpol has issued a red corner notice against Mehul Choksi on the request of the CBI,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.…



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Muzaffarpur shelter home case: Nothing in medical report showing torture, says SC (Dec 10, 2018, The Hindu)

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed an application filed by Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse case main accused Brajesh Thakur that he had been tortured in the Patiala jail.

A Bench, led by Justice Madan B. Lokur, said his medical examination did not reveal any signs of injury substantiating his claim of torture. “There is absolutely nothing in it,” Justice Lokur orally addressed senior advocate Vikas Singh, who was representing the accused.

Thakur was shifted to the Patiala high-security jail in Punjab from Bihar’s Bhagalpur jail following the Supreme Court’s October 30 order. Over 30 girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at the Muzaffarpur shelter home. The issue was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to Bihar’s Social Welfare Department.…



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Opinions and Editorials

BJP juggernaut has a flat tyre – By Rajesh Ramachandran (Dec 13, 2018, The Tribune)

The semifinal is over and the result is plain and stark: PM Narendra Modi is no longer the Hindi Hriday Samrat. A 3-0 victory for Rahul Gandhi-led Congress has suddenly left a gaping hole in the BJP’s Hindi heartland map.

The Madhya Pradesh results have proved that the Congress with its moribund party organisation mothballed for 15 years could effectively take on the BJP governments at the Centre and the state, and also the formidable Sangh Parivar cadre on the ground. The panna-pramukhs and WhatsApp-pramukhs can only go thus far; the voter walks the last mile alone to decide who is a lesser evil.

…After the temple run in Gujarat and the photo finish at the Assembly polls, the slim 18-seat defeat in the PM’s home state in 2017 proved beyond doubt that the Congress is capable of making the BJP sweat even in its fortress. Tuesday’s poll results are only a logical extension of the Congress’ revival that began in Gujarat.…



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What Does Urjit Patel’s Resignation Mean for the Future of Modi’s RBI? – By Jamal Mecklai (Dec 11, 2018, The Wire)

It is a terrible, though unsurprising, indictment of the Narendra Modi government’s operating style that Urjit Patel resigned as governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) “with immediate effect”. Clearly, he was pushed to the wall and it is hard to see how any self-respecting person could remain in his position when there was a definitive move to emasculate the office and, indeed, the institution.

And while reasonable people may disagree on the several issues that had been raised and discussed widely, and while Patel’s shall we say not top-of-the-line communication style can to some degree be blamed for things having gone so far out of hand, the loudest and most obvious conclusion from this crisis is that the Modi government brooks no opposition. It knows best in everything and has no place for independent thought. In other words, Modi is no leader.

Of course, none of this is new, certainly over the last year or so, and is already being reflected in the state election results and market’s reaction to them. Indeed, in some ways, Patel’s resignation, coming as it did the day before the state election results were announced, was poetically timed.…



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Law on Ram temple – Editorial (Dec 11, 2018, The Tribune)

Hindutva organisations lit the fuse for a Ram temple with the Dasehra address by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. There has been no let-up since. Their pitch reached a crescendo on Sunday, days before the last Winter Session of the current Lok Sabha was to begin, with a massive rally in the national Capital.

The combined show of force by the RSS and VHP sought a law for a ‘Ram mandir’. Despite a two-decade back-story of aggression and mob violence, the leaders at the gathering surprisingly pulled no punches. The cajolery in the speeches indicates a strategy of persuasion and advice or ‘expressing sentiments’, as RSS leader Suresh Joshi put it.

The impatience to push for a law for constructing a Ram temple even while the Supreme Court is hearing the case betrays the Hindutva brigade’s lack of confidence in the BJP and PM Narendra Modi’s capability to replicate the performance of 2019 on the basis of its governance report card. The Hindutva family, as well as many in the BJP, may have been obliged to raise the pitch after the realisation that the temple card is necessary to keep the core flock interested as the government’s intentions and schemes did not pan out as anticipated on the ground.…



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Why is Supreme Court “failing” to decide on anti-Sikh genocide, Gujarat massacre? – By Mike Ghouse (Dec 14, 2018, Counterview)

Is the Indian judiciary accountable? The people of India have never questioned the authority of India’s judiciary. Indeed, they are the only branch of government, who have not been examined for their role in upholding the constitution and the rule of law. It is time one questions their lackadaisical attitude towards growing lawlessness in the nation and hold them accountable for their action.

What is holding the Supreme Court from rendering judgment, and bringing closure to the anti-Sikh genocide, Godhra burning, Gujarat massacre, Nellie massacre, uprooting of Kashmiri Pundits, Babri Masjid, and freedom of speech issues?

The silence of the state when the liberties of the citizens are trampled has gone unpunished. The Supreme Court can put an end to the catalytic nature of these unfortunate and tragic events. Many things will be straightened if justice is delivered on a timely basis. If a concerted effort is made and the momentum is built to remind the Supreme Court to take their responsibility seriously, they can put an end to the fear that has grasped the nation.…



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Bulandshahr bears the brunt of BJP’s communal politics – By Dr Ram Puniyani (Dec 14, 2018, National Herald)

The scene of violence in the name of emotive issues has been continuously throwing new patterns of instigating and orchestrating violence. In recent times we saw major violence following the demolition of Babri Mosque (1992), Godhra train burning (Gujarat carnage 2002), murder of a Swami (Kandhamal 2008), on the pretext of love Jihad (Muzaffarnagar 2013) among others.

The gross pattern seems to be to spread hatred against certain sections of society and unleash hate, which gets converted in to violence. In last couple of years, what has dominated the scene of violence has been the accusations related to slaughter of cows, which began with the horrifying murder of Mohammad Akhlaq down to the killing of Junaid. Cow and beef have been used as a ‘weapon of hate’. In this very series follows the Bulandshahr killings of two men, one of them being a Hindu police officer.

This tragedy goes on to show the underbelly of communal violence, which in its due course brought into its ambit not only the religious minorities but also people from the majority religion. As such the violence does not involve many killings of the members of the majority community, though they also suffer in small numbers. In this case, in Bulandshahr, we see the major victim is not only a Hindu but also an officer of the state police. While full details are yet to come out with SIT probing in the matter, whatever can be gleaned from the media reports is frightening enough.…



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Sycophancy and Saffronisation spreading in Indian Judiciary? – By CJP Team (Dec 14, 2018, Sabrang India)

There have been moments in the past seventy years or so, when the most authoritarian governments have drawn out the most supine responses from India’s higher judiciary. Remember Justice Bhagwati’s actions during ADM Jabalpur when he not just ratified the suspension of fundamental rights by then prime minister, Indira Gandhi (Justice HR Khanna was the sole dissenter in this affair).

The New York Times wrote at that time: “If India ever finds its way back to freedom and democracy that were proud hallmarks of its first eighteen years as an independent nation, someone will surely erect a monument to Justice H R Khanna of the Supreme Court. It was Justice Khanna who spoke out fearlessly and eloquently for freedom this week.” Justice Bhagwati who lavishly praised Indira Gandhi, on her return to power in 1980 apologised for his conduct some thirty years later; much after his active career graph had peaked.

Under the Modi regime we have seen, similar lavish and supine praise from the higher judiciary, tinged now, with the ideological hue of saffron. The most recent, and lampooned is a recent judgement of the Meghalaya high court (Justice SR Sen) where, in granting the petitioner, the right to a domicile certificate, in accordance with guidelines as laid down by the Supreme Court in Rabbe Alam vrs. State of Meghalaya & Ors reported in (2017) 1 MJ 128 para 6 and 7 went several non-judicious steps further.…



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