IAMC Weekly News Roundup - December 18th, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 18th, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Essay competition for students on communal harmony takes a back seat (Dec 13, 2017, Hindustan Times)

As the debate on nationalism and patriotism continues to dominate public discourse, an initiative by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to promote communal harmony and national integration appears to have taken a back seat.

In 1998, the Vajpayee government had introduced a scheme under which essay competitions on themes of secularism, communal harmony, and national integration were to be organised every year in educational institutions across the country.

After a panel of judges selects the best three essays in their schools or colleges/universities, the internal security division of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) releases funds to be distributed among students for their prize-winning essays. However, 2017 became the third year in a row when the Centre did not release any funds due to “poor response” from states.…


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BJP Wins Gujarat With Smallest Margin In 22 Years (Dec 18, 2017, India Spend)

For the sixth time in a row, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won the Gujarat state assembly elections by a margin of 22 seats, down from 54 seats or a 59% drop from five years ago. The BJP won 99 of 182 seats–the least it has since it first came to power in 1995 with 121 seats, showed an IndiaSpend analysis of election data of the last 22 years.

Though the Congress is now in the opposition for another term, the party has made significant gains, garnering 77 seats–the most it has in 22 years since it won 45 seats in 1995, an analysis of election data showed.

On December 15, 2017, BJP party president Amit Shah had predicted that BJP would win 150 seats by 11 am on the day of the results. At 5.22 pm today, the BJP had won 84 seats with leads to win 15 more, election data showed. Since the BJP first came to power in Gujarat in 1995, state elections have mainly been a two-party battle that it fights with the Congress. The former has consistently won a majority of the seats and bagged most of the vote share.…



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Hindu man raised £3,500 after video of him ‘murdering a Muslim man’ went viral (Dec 14, 2017, The Telegraph)

Police in India’s western Rajasthan state have frozen the bank account of a Hindu zealot who received public donations of around £3,500 days after he is alleged to have brutally murdered a Muslim labourer, burnt his body and circulated videos of the incident on social media.

Police officials said Shambhulal Regar, a resident of Rajasamand, 208 miles southeast of the state capital Jaipur, had received this money from some 516 ‘sympathisers’ in an account being operated by his wife Sita Regar.

Two local businessmen were arrested on Wednesday for running the WhatsApp campaign seeking to raise money for Mr Regar, who was arrested on 6 December, accused of viciously killing migrant labourer Mohammad Afrazul.…



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Rajasthan HC sets guidelines to check ‘forced conversion of religion’ (Dec 16, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The Rajasthan high court on Friday ruled that anyone wanting to change their religion would have their name put up on a government notice board for a week and people would be allowed to file objections before permission was granted. The court did not specify who was eligible to object.

The decision was part of a set of guidelines issued by the court to check what it called the “forcible conversion of religion”. The court also said that any conversion or inter-faith marriage that did not adhere to the directives could be struck down if challenged.

The guidelines came in the wake of a Rajasthan government plea to clarify the legal status of religious conversions and inter-faith marriages.…



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Muzaffarnagar riots: Non-bailable warrants against ex-Union Minister, BJP MP and MLA (Dec 17, 2017, DNA India)

A former Union minister, BJP MP and MLA are among 15 accused who have been issued non-bailable warrants (NBWs) by a Court in connection with 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in which about 62 people, including 42 Muslims were killed.

The BJP MP Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, who was former Union Minister for State for Agriculture and Food Processing and later moved to MoS for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is among the accused who have been issued NBWs by a Muzffarnagar Court.

Prominent among others included BJP MP from Bijnore Kunwar Bhartendu Singh, BJP MLA from Budhana Umesh Malik, Sadhvi Prachi etc. Taking a serious view of their non-appearance in person, the Court has issued NBWs against them. The court has fixed January 19 as the next date for hearing the case.…



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Film ‘inspired’ by Muzaffarnagar riots: Govt against screening in five districts, says producer (Dec 1, 2017, Indian Express)

The movie Muzaffarnagar – The Burning Love is not being screened in the five western UP districts of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Bijnor, Saharanpur and Baghpat. Except Bijnor, all these districts were affected by the 2013 riots, to which the film reportedly refers.

While film producer Manoj Kumar Mandi accused the district administrations of ordering theatre owners not to screen the movie, officials denied the same. However, a single-screen theatre owner in Muzaffarnagar claimed they have received an oral directive from the district administrations not to run the film until urban local body polls, beginning November 22, are concluded.

“It is a commercial film inspired by the 2013 riots. Officials in the Muzaffarnagar administration had seen the film and found nothing objectionable,” said Mandi. “An unwritten directive has been sent to cinema hall owners from the administrations of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Bijnor, Saharanpur and Baghpat districts not to run the film,” he alleged.…



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BSP Corporator Booked After Taking Oath in Urdu, But No Action Against BJP Leaders Who Allegedly Beat Him (Dec 15, 2017, The Wire)

The lone Bahujan Samaj Party corporator in the Aligarh Municipal Corporation, Musharraf Hussain, has been booked for trying to ‘hurt religious sentiments’ after he decided to take his oath of office in Urdu.

The case was registered under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the Bannadevi police station last night, based on a complaint filed by BJP corporator Pushpendra Singh, police station in-charge Jitendra Dikshit said. IPC Section 295A pertains to deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

However, police are yet to register a case based on a complaint filed by Hussain, who alleged that he was beaten up on the day of the oath-taking ceremony. Dikshit said they were looking into Hussain’s complaint.…



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Malegaon blasts: Bombay HC rejects Purohit’s challenge to prosecution under UAPA (Dec 19, 2017, One India)

The Bombay High Court has rejected petitions filed by Lt Col Purohit and Sameer Kulkarni challenging the sanction for prosecution granted under the UAPA in the Malegaon blasts case of 2008.

The duo challenged the sanction for prosecution granted by the Maharashtra government under the UAPA. They contended that the sanction for prosecution was given without the appointment of an appropriate authority.

The sanction was given by the state law and judiciary department in the case without having received a report from the appropriate authority, they argued.… The National Investigation Agency, however, objected to the petition and said that the same is not maintainable. The agency said that the same contention was raised in the trial court…. The court accepted the contention of the NIA and rejected the petitions.



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Why is a new law needed for triple talaq, asks WCD Ministry (Dec 17, 2017, Indian Express)

The Ministry of Women and Child Development is learnt to have expressed certain reservations about the triple talaq Bill before the union cabinet approved it on Friday.

The proposed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill criminalises talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq) and proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife in this way. A copy of the draft Bill was circulated among the concerned ministries. While most ministries concurred, the WCD Ministry dissented on some issues.

The WCD Ministry questioned the need for separate legislation, arguing that divorce by triple talaq amounted to cruelty and hence, fell within the purview of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.… The WCD Ministry also flagged the issues of payment of maintenance, and the custody of children. The proposed Bill provides for maintenance to be paid to the wife through a magistrate, and for her to get custody of the couple’s child. Both of these provisions would legitimise the talaq, the WCD Ministry argued.



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Police detain carol-singing group in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna (Dec 15, 2017, The Hindu)

The Satna Police late on Thursday evening detained a group of priests and seminarians conducting “routine” carol singing during the Christmas season, alleging a conversion bid.

According to the police, they detained some people on the basis of a complaint lodged by 21-year-old Dharmedra Dohar, resident of village Bhumkahar. In his complaint, Mr. Dohar alleged that some people were appealing to him to convert to Christianity.

A statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) expressed concern over the incident, adding that vehicles of priests were also torched by “goons”.



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Dowry Death Social Crime, Can’t Convict Husband Without Proof: Court (Dec 4, 2017, News18.com)

It is a heinous crime to hang one’s wife to death but a husband cannot be convicted without any reliable evidence, a Delhi court has said while acquitting a man and his family members in a murder and dowry death case.

The court freed the man, his father and two sisters, all residents of east Delhi, saying there was no cogent evidence that the woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment for demand of dowry.…

The court absolved the four accused of the charges under sections 304B (dowry death), 498A (subjecting woman to harassment by husband and in-laws), 302 (murder) and 34(common intention) of the IPC. The court said prosecution has failed to prove its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt, benefit of which must go in favour of the accused.…



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Opinions and Editorials

A Dangerous Turn – Editorial (Dec 16, 2017, EPW)

Politicians are not expected to tell the truth during elections. In fact, bombast, hyperbole and plain old lies have become the sum and substance of electioneering. But when a politician is also the Prime Minister, you could not be faulted for expecting something a little better. For Indians, that expectation was shattered last week with the utterances of Narendra Modi on 10 December at Banaskantha in Gujarat.

Even going by the standards of theatrics and exaggerated rhetoric that Modi has established as his inimitable style, his speech on that day surpassed all limits of decorum expected of an elected head of state. In plain words, Modi accused a former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, a former Vice President, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, and a former Army Chief, Deepak Kapoor, of treason. In what would appear a flight of fancy, but in fact is a calculated move to communalise the last phase of campaigning in the closely fought Gujarat election, Modi accused them of secretly plotting with the “enemy,” namely Pakistan, to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat and install a Muslim, Ahmed Patel of the Congress, as the chief minister.…

Even if no one believes what Modi said, it is the random association of Pakistan, Congress and Muslim that is at the heart of this preposterous lie. And that is where the danger lies.…There is more to worry in the way the Gujarat election campaign was conducted. With every succeeding state election, what is also evident is the manner in which the personality cult around Modi is being built.… What has also become evident by the depths to which Modi’s election rhetoric has sunk in this Gujarat campaign, is that vikas was and will remain a front to sell Hindutva. All the talk about development for all has finally boiled down to grand and dramatic gestures.…



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Win without the shine: on BJP’s win in Gujarat and Himachal – Editorial (Dec 19, 2017, The Hindu)

If winning were the only thing, then the BJP has plenty to cheer about in Gujarat, where it recorded a sixth straight victory in what was practically a straight fight with its principal rival, the Congress. Together, with a comfortable win in Himachal Pradesh, this may, on the face of it, seem like another step towards its stated goal of a “Congress-mukth Bharat”.

But, no. Whatever the BJP leaders may say, the victory – by an extremely slim majority and well short of the 150-plus seats it aimed to win – is a setback. After all, Narendra Modi’s home State was the centrepiece of the BJP’s campaign in the last Lok Sabha election, where it was sold to the rest of India as the model for development. If Gujarat was the launch pad for the BJP’s national-level ambitions, it now seems to have held out a ray of hope for a Congress desperately looking to revive its political fortunes.

Not having won in the State since 1985, the Congress put up its best showing in 32 years. Admittedly, the BJP was ahead by almost eight percentage points, but at the end of the day – thanks largely to the swing towards the Congress in the Saurashtra region – only about 20 seats separated the two parties.…



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Citizen Shambhulal Is the New Face of Hindutva – By Shiv Visvanathan (Dec 13, 2017, The Wire)



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What Communalism in Gujarat Looks Like – By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Dec 12, 2017, The Wire)

As Manik Bhai, a travel agent and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, came out of the party’s booth-level meeting in Ahmedabad’s Ellis Bridge area on November 21, he had a clear plan. “Logon ko batana hai ki har Muslim is taak mein baitha hai ki Congress ki sarkaar aaye aur woh dangon ka badla le sake (We have to tell people that Muslims are waiting for a Congress government in the state to get their revenge for the 2002 riots),” he said with palpable assurance.

Is this true? Why would Muslims unnecessarily disrupt peace? “The party has information and we go by it. We know Muslims harbour an inherent dislike for the Hindus,” he said. The conversation was a trigger for Manik Bhai to continue talking – and gradually but excitedly he revealed his sentiments.…

While the BJP has tried to cement prejudices against Muslims, the Congress has been trying to puncture the narrative, although only indirectly. “Why is Gujarat ranked third in women trafficking, fifth in acid attacks and tenth in the rape of minor girls… Why are the two most important cities, Ahmedabad and Surat, ranked among the top ten in crime against women in India?” Congress president Rahul Gandhi claimed in a tweet.…



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Divorce as crime: on instant triple talaq – Editorial (Dec 18, 2017, The Hindu)

The Centre’s proposal to make instant triple talaq an offence punishable with three-year imprisonment and a fine is an unnecessary attempt to convert a civil wrong into a criminal act.…

Instant triple talaq is viewed as sinful and improper by a large section of the community itself. Therefore, there can be no dispute about the need to protect Muslim women against the practice. But it is also well established that criminalising something does not have any deterrent effect on its practice.…

Regardless of whether instant talaq would fall under any of these forms of cruelty or domestic violence, criminalising it risks defeating the objective of preserving the husband’s legal obligations, and the payment of maintenance. The Centre would do well to reconsider its draft and limit its scope to providing relief to women, instead of creating a new offence out of a civil matter.



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Aadhaar and Food Security in Jharkhand – Pain without Gain? – By Jean Dreze & Others (Dec 16, 2017, EPW)

The public distribution system (PDS) plays an important role in the lives of poor people in Jharkhand. They tend to keep their ration cards safely, go to the ration shop every month without fail, and get angry when the local PDS dealer cheats them. The reason is not difficult to understand: in their fragile and uncertain lives, the PDS provides a modicum of food and economic security.

This is a relatively new development. As recently as 10 years ago, the bulk of PDS foodgrain in Jharkhand was siphoned off by corrupt dealers and sold in the open market. Further, the issue price was not much below the market price, so that, PDS rations had little value even for those who could buy them. It took a series of PDS reforms, recently intensified with the roll-out of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013, to address this situation and put the system on a better footing.

The latest move, however, carries some dangers. We are referring to the imposition of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA) on the PDS. This new system was first introduced in Ormanjhi block of Ranchi district a few years ago, and then extended to other parts of Ranchi district, where it is mandatory since August 2016: no authentication, no food. From then on, ABBA was gradually extended to other districts of Jharkhand.…



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