IAMC Weekly News Roundup - December 5th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 5th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Babri Masjid demolition: 25 years on, trial against accused pending (Dec 6, 2016, Times of India)

Trials against the accused including Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Ritambhara Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and other senior BJP and VHP leaders continue even as demolition of Babri Masjid completes 25 years on Tuesday. Trial against the Babri Masjid demolition accused is going on in two special CBI courts, in Lucknow and in Rae Bareli.

At the CBI court in Lucknow, of the 980 witnesses, only 189 have recorded their statements so far, while in Rae Bareli from among 101 witnesses, 55 have recorded their statement.

The special CBI court established on December 16, 1992 in Rae Bareli and on September 8, 1993 in Lucknow based on the two cases filed in Ram Janmabhoomi police station on December 6, 1992 by station house officer Priyank Badri Nath and sub inspector Ganga Prasad Tiwari against the accused through FIRs numbers 197/1992 and 198/1992. Investigation in the case was started by CBI on August 25, 1993, but charges against the accused were framed on August 17, 2010.



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Exposed: How spiritual leaders are laundering hawala, secretive money during demonetisation (Dec 2, 2016, India Today)

In a rare spotlight on financial malpractices in religion, an India Today probe has unearthed a sordid scandal involving hawala and secretive money transfers by several spiritual leaders and priests of popular centres of faith. As part of its series of stories exposing cash mafias in the wake of the November 8 ban on high-denomination currency, India Today’s special investigation team found several holy men and women rampantly black-marketing illicit wealth for hefty commissions.

At the Vaishno temple in Ghaziabad near Delhi, its revered head Radha Mata quickly activated hawala operators when the undercover reporters approached her for the swap of fictitious unaccounted money. Radha Mata, who draws the faithful from as far as southern India, offered exchange of the outlawed notes from banks at half their original value of Rs 2.5 crore.… Her shady network appeared to be transnational as she also suggested payments through international hawala channels.…

In the ancient temple town of Mathura, several religious officials were found to be replacing scrapped banknotes clandestinely for huge cuts. Anirudh, a priest of the Vrindavan Bihari temple, readily agreed to manipulate accounts to show black money as donation in back date. “It doesn’t matter even if you give black money to us. I’ll show it in accounts and it will be deposited,” he said.… But rates for bartering the tax loot varied from temple to temple, India Today’s investigation found.…



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Cash front finger at politicians – Dramatic claim by record declarant (Dec 4, 2016, The Telegraph)

A little-known businessman who had declared a record Rs 13,860 crore under the Centre’s income disclosure scheme surfaced in a television studio this evening and claimed he had been fronting for politicians and industrialists.

Mahesh Shah, the Ahmedabad-based businessman who had earlier been reported missing, said: “The money I declared belongs to politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen whose names I will reveal to income-tax officials.”

Mahesh, 67, said he had declared the income as his own for a commission. “I admit my mistake, which I should not have done,” he added. Minutes later, he was whisked away from the studio by tax officials and police and taken to a police station. Hours before Mahesh had surfaced, Suresh Mehta, a former Gujarat chief minister who has left the BJP, alleged the businessman was close to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.…



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27 senior bank officials suspended on charges of illegal conversion of notes (Dec 3, 2016, News Minute)

Following demonetisation, 27 senior bank officials were suspended in the country on charges of illegal conversion of currency notes, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Six more bank officers were transferred to non-sensitive posts. The finance ministry stated that some cases have come to its notice about officials involved in carrying out transactions which were irregular and in violation of RBI’s instructions. The statement further cautioned: “Illegalities will not be tolerated and appropriate action will be taken against individuals involved in irregular and unauthorised activities”.

Meanwhile, about 50 income tax officials and police personnel carried out seizures in Bengaluru, Chennai, Erode and many other locations from Thursday. The seizure of cash in new currency notes on Friday was around Rs. 5 crores, even as the Income-Tax Department said it detected unaccounted income worth Rs. 152 crores. The officials also seized notes of Rs 100, demonetised notes of Rs 500 and a few gold biscuits during the operation.…



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Eight BJP-RSS workers arrested for Kodinhi murder (Nov 27, 2016, Times of India)

Eight BJP and RSS workers have been arrested in connection with the murder of an Islam convert at Kodinhi near Tirurangadi in the district one week ago. The arrest was recorded by Tirurangadi police on Sunday.

It was on November 19, Faisal alias Anilkumar (Unni-30) son of Ananthakrishnan Nair native of Kodinhi, was found dead in a drain at Kodinhi.

Faisal who was working abroad was converted to Islam six months ago at Riyad and his family also embraced Islam recently. According to police brother-in-law of Faizal, Vinod, who is local BJP leader, is prime accused of the case and he got help from other party workers for the murder.… After the incident mother of Faizal had revealed that Faizal received death threat from his brother-in-law for embracing Islam.…



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With Asthana as Interim CBI Chief, CBI Resembles the Gujarat Bureau of Investigation (Dec 6, 2016, Sabrang India)

With the PMO (prime minister’s office) appointing Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation – violating rules and norms – that has already attracted legal action challenging the move, the Delhi-based CBI today resembles a ‘little Gujarat’ or the Gujarat Bureau of Investigation!…

The officer’s Gujarat connection was renewed in 2010 when he was inducted into the Special Investigation Team headed by former CBI director R.K. Raghavan to investigate the Gujarat riots. Giving a clean chit to the then Gujarat CM, the SIT felt there was not enough evidence to prove that Narendra Modi had either not done enough to stop the post-Godhra riots or had given oral instructions to officers to do nothing to stop the rampaging mobs. Was it a curious coincidence, the magazine had asked that YC Modi had investigated the three most important cases involving the post-Godhra violence, namely Gulberg society, Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaam.

The SIT investigation into these cases has been found to be far from professional by the Courts. Modi was also involved in the famed Zakia Jafri investigation in which, while the Raghavan-headed SIT has refused to charge sheet powerful politicians and bureaucrats but in which the amicus curaie appointed by the Supreme court, senior advocate, Raju Ramachandran had opined that there was enough evidence to prosecute the former chief minister of Gujarat.



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Bhopal encounter: Independent fact finding team raises questions over official version (Nov 30, 2016, Indian Express)

An independent fact finding team Tuesday released its report on last month’s Bhopal encounter, where eight alleged SIMI activists were killed. The report raised several questions on the official version of the events that led to the encounter, suggesting that a jailbreak was “next to impossible” at Bhopal Central Prison and, also, highlighted several “inconsistencies” in eyewitness accounts. Speaking at an event in Delhi to mark its release, Vipul Kumar of Quill Foundation, and Ansar Indori of NCHRO, who were both part of the team, touched up on the main issues raised in the report.

After being denied permission to visit the jail premises, the team got in touch with an under-trial prisoner who was out on bail, a week before the jailbreak. The team claimed that it was “impossible to escape without anyone taking notice”, based on the inputs given by the under-trial.

The team also visited the site of the encounter to inspect the markings of the dead bodies. The marking suggested that the activists were standing very close to each other and “seems inconsistent with the official version”.…



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Tunda acquitted in 1997 Panipat bus blast case (Dec 2, 2016, Times of India)

A day after he was attacked in Karnal jail, Abdul Karim Tunda on Thursday was acquitted in the Panipat bomb blast case of 1997. He will, however, stay behind bars as he is facing several other similar cases.

On Thursday, Panipat additional sessions judge V P Sirohi acquitted Tunda on the grounds of lack of evidence in the case. A 10-year-old child named Madu was killed and 20 others were injured in the bomb blast near the bus depot in a private bus going to Luhari on February 1, 1997.

Tunda, a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) terror outfit, was booked under conspiracy charges into the matter. He was produced in the court of on Thursday. The court has directed to send him in Dasna jail in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.…



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Muslim outfits slam Himanta Biswa Sarma for madrasa remark (Nov 30, 2016, Indian Express)

Various Muslim outfits and madrasa teachers’ organisations in Assam have objected to state Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s warning against madrasas remaining closed on Fridays, instead of Sunday. “If the government wants to bring a law to shift the weekly-off to Sundays, then it should be done through normal process. But an education minister saying that he had only recently discovered that madrasas remain shut on Fridays is surprising,” said Amirul Islam, general secretary, All Asam Madrasa Teachers’ Association, noting that madrasas have remained closed on Fridays since the time of British, and the state Madrasa Board has a resolution to this effect, dating back to 1934.

At a press conference on Monday, the BJP minister had threatened madrasa heads of action if they continued to observe weekly-off on Fridays,… Mokhlisur Rahman, president of the All Assam Madrasa TET-qualified Teachers’ Association, said that the rights of the minorities, including the Muslims, have been guaranteed and protected by Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution.…

Congress MLA Abdul Khalek condemned the minister’s remark, saying: “Sarma has hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims of Assam by referring to Pakistan and Bangladesh… He should find out what Murli Manohar Joshi ( HRD minister in the Vajpayee government) had done for modernisation of madrasa education in the country.”



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SC panel summons DGP over atrocities committed on Dalits (Dec 6, 2016, The Tribune)

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes today issued summons to the Director General of Police (DGP) to appear before it in its Delhi office on December 12. The commission was hearing complaints of Dalit victims of atrocities of Pabnawa village in the district.

The commission has asked the DGP to explain the role of Kaithal police officials who had allegedly booked the Dalits in a cross case. In another case, The commission directed the Patiala administration to constitute an SIT comprising the Samana SDM, DSP (Headquarters) and City Magistrate, Patiala, to trace a missing youth and submit the action taken report within a fortnight.

A Dalit youth of Sarola village in the district had disappeared about two months ago and the commission had asked the SSP of Patiala to appear before it here today. However, in his absence of the SSP, Samana DSP appeared before the commission.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Petition to settle Babri Masjid dispute includes many fake signatures, Ayodhya’s Muslims allege – By Dhirendra K Jha (Dec 6, 2016, Scroll.in)

An exercise to resolve the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi dispute through a compromise between Ayodhya’s Hindus and Muslims has run into a major controversy, with a large number of locals claiming that the consent of those belonging to the minority community is either fake or has been obtained under pressure.

Led by former judge of Allahabad High Court Pulak Basu, the Ayodhya Vivad Samjhauta Nagrik Samiti – or Ayodhya Dispute Resolution Citizen Committee – spent months collecting more than 10,000 signatures of local Hindus and Muslims, giving their approval to a compromise formula based on Allahabad High Court’s 2010 ruling in Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi case.

Justice Basu’s compromise formula (though he insists it has been evolved by locals) asked Muslims to give up their claim over two-thirds of the disputed site and to refrain from constructing any structure on the one-third part awarded to them by the court. In return, a mosque would be constructed on another part of the acquired area, away from the site on which the Babri Masjid once stood.…



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Demonetisation: Narendra Modi’s monumental political gamble – By Swapan Dasgupta (Nov 29, 2016, Free Press Journal)

Since he dropped the demonetisation bombshell on a Tuesday evening (November 8), sending India into a state of shock and awe, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again become the focus of sustained attention. As Indians, both very rich and those barely above the poverty line, have grappled with the realities of a draconian demonetisation that has put nearly 86 per cent of the cash supply of India out of circulation, there have been sharply polarised reactions to his audacity.…

The only other examples in recent times – the demonetisation of the Reichsmark in Germany after World War II and the demonetisation of the Rouble after the collapse of the Soviet Union – took place in exceptional circumstances and following huge political turbulence. Certainly, pundits I have spoken to could find no other parallel in the world, and certainly not for a vibrant economy.

The long queues outside banks, the ATMs that were emptied of cash and the spate of colourful rumours have certainly affected public perception. In the debate in the Rajya Sabha last Wednesday and Thursday, Opposition MPs competed with each other in describing the woes of the “common man.” There were speeches offering a robust defence of the cash economy and the traditional, non-banking ways of doing business. Horror stories were narrated of families despairing of how to go about a scheduled wedding.…



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Demonetisation Creates An Exodus Of Migrant Workers From Kerala – By Binu Mathew (Dec 7, 2016, Countercurrents)

Perumbavoor in Central Kerala is a mini India. Migrant workers from all over India come to this place looking for work. Workers from many states who get paid around Rs 200 for a day’s work in their home states, get around Rs 1000 as wage here.…

Narendra Modi’s late night ban of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes hit these workers like a thunder bolt. It paralysed the plywood factories around the town and many of them have closed down making its workers jobless overnight, many companies that still keep afloat are finding it hard to pay the wages and some of them are firing their workers.

I went to Perumbavoor last Sunday. Although there are workers milling around the town, compared to earlier days, it’s a dead town. Benny V Paul who runs the Assam hotel says this is exodus. The crowd who thronged his hotel for their favourite dishes is gone or is going home. Jam-packed trains are leaving from Aluva, the nearest railway station. This is an exodus of enormous proportion.…



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Supreme Court Verdict On National Anthem Mandates Hindutva Nationalism – By Jaspal Singh Sidhu (Dec 5, 2016, Countercurrents)

Usual interpretation of the Indian Apex Court verdict on ‘Jana Gana Mana’, the National Anthem on 30 November, 2016 as curbing of individual’s freedom could hardly fathom the real intention behind the judicial overreach which is meant to serve a larger purpose. The verdict is in tune with overall political-moral ethos of the time. And it lends an unambiguous support to the Hindutva brand of Nationalism whose cacophony has already spread over Indian firmament through chanting of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, ‘Bande Matram’ and ‘Gau Mata Raksha’ (protection of holy cow).

The thinking behind the order, seems to be consistent with the prevailing political scenario which makes the people believe that the ongoing majoritarian rule is not an aberration but an accepted version of the ‘modern democracy’.

The order sends a clear-cut message: Accept the supremacy of Indian nationhood and sacredness of its symbols otherwise they shall be enforced by State diktat or through legal compulsions.…



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How 2.5 years of Modi brought out resilience of Indian Muslims – By Aditya Menon (Dec 1, 2016, Catch News)

May 16, 2014, the day the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were declared, was a Friday. By noon, it was clear that Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA had won a comprehensive victory. As people began to gather for the Friday congregational prayers at the small but comfortable mosque inside the President’s Estate in Delhi’s Mother Teresa Crescent Road, there was an uneasy silence. No one openly discussed the results, before or after the prayers. While making the Du’a after the prayer, the Imam said “Ya Allah, hamaray mulk-o-millat mey aman aur bhaichara qayam farmaa” (Ya Allah, please maintain peace and brotherhood in our country).…

The unease wasn’t just because of Modi’s rise to the prime ministership or the thumping majority won by the BJP, it was also the fact that a significant chunk of Modi’s voters had supported him because a massacre of over 1000 Muslims took place under his watch and not despite it.…

Halfway through Modi’s term, Muslim anxieties have only been vindicated. Yes, there haven’t been any major riots, though several attempts have been made in that direction. But repeatedly, the BJP and its stormtroopers have been making it clear to Muslims that they don’t belong here anymore, or at least that the terms of engagement have changed.… For Muslims, the past 30 months have been a period of heart-breaking contrasts.…



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Yet Again, the Supreme Court Raps the Indian State on Witness Protection, But Is Anyone Listening – By Teesta Setalvad (Nov 28, 2016, Sabrang India)

The State needs to play a definite role in coming out with witness-protection programme, at least in sensitive cases involving those having political patronage, muscle and money power so that trial does not get “tainted and derailed”, the Supreme Court has said.

Observing that threat and intimidation were major causes for witnesses turning hostile, it said when the witnesses are not able to depose correctly before the court, it results in low conviction rate and many times even hardened criminals escape the conviction. “It shakes public confidence in the criminal justice delivery system,” a bench of justices A K Sikri and Amitava Roy said.…

Despite these consistent and repeated judicial pronouncements, there has been scant response from across the political spectrum. Indian federalism and democracy boasts of different parties with ideological variants holding political power (in states and at the centre); but the restoration of faith in the criminal justice system, is obviously a low priority for all. Regardless of where and on which side you claim to be on the ideological metre or divide.



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Book Review

1984: In Memory and Imagination

Author: Vikram Kapoor, Ed.
Reviewed by: Harnidh Kaur
Available at: ManjulPublishing House, 7/32, Ground Floor, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110 002 INDIA; sales@manjulindia.com; Pages- 248; Price- 350 . http://www.amazon.in/
Those Who Lived to Tell the Tale (Dec 3, 2016, Indian Express)

Tragedy begets art. The emotions evoked by the barbarity people are capable of have spawned the most crucial, raw, and, ultimately, important literature. Keeping that in mind, the amount of empathic work done on the 1984 Sikh massacre is woefully small. While the events themselves have been hacked into small, consumable pieces, the impact of them, both immediate and historical, has been left untouched and dammed.

The positioning of the pogrom itself, caught between two phases of unrest in north India focused around the state of Punjab, meant that anyone sympathising with the victims of the massacre was considered with suspicion. That, coupled with an entire community trying to forget its trauma meant that unlike many other instances of minority castigation, 1984 remained severely underreported and undocumented.

Keeping this in mind, 1984: In Memory and Imagination is an important work. It juxtaposes short fiction with non-fiction narrative accounts. The sparse, almost curt, and, sometimes, dispassionate recollection of the events unfolding in the non-fiction section, leaves a visceral impact. Stone Games by Rizio Yohannan Raj is a welcome perspective beyond the north Indian epicentre.…