IAMC Weekly News Roundup - February 10th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 10th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

NRG sisters’ film records lingering trauma of 2002 (Feb 7, 2014, Times of India)

Two sisters, Sheena and Sonum Sumaria, born in London to a Gujarati-Jain family, have made a movie on the communal divide that has plagued Gujarat in the aftermath of the communal riots of 2002. The two sisters, both graduates of Cambridge University, had come to the state in 2012 on a visit to their grandfather’s place of birth in western Gujarat. But once here, they realized that they had entered a divided society polarized along communal lines over the ruling BJP and its leader.

“We were born in London to a Gujarati-Jain family. Our grandparents were born in Gujarat while our parents were born in Kenya. We come from a multi-cultural environment and are passionate about justice. As we delved into Gujarat’s recent history, we could sense the lingering effects of the 2002 riots. We knew that this state was once very inclusive. This is how our effort to make a film on Narendra Modi, Hindu nationalism and the suffering of Muslims after 2002 began,” said Sheena, a student of economics at Cambridge and of globalisation and development at University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Interestingly, the film called, ‘Even the Crows’, was crowd-funded. “Around 56 people from across the world backed our project. We collected over Rs 8 lakh for the movie’s production,” said Sonum, who studied Spanish and Russian at Cambridge University and film at Escuela de Cine y Television, Cuba.

The movie has moving accounts of the Gujarati-American, Nishrin, whose father, a former MP and prominent Muslim leader, was killed during the riots; of Nishrin’s husband, Najid Hussein; and British-Gujarati, Imran, who was the sole survivor when he and two of his uncles were attacked while on a holiday in the state. Political psychologist Ashis Nandy, danseuse and activist Mallika Sarabhai and Prasad Chako of St Xaviers have contributed to the film with their insights.

Mallika Sarabhai said that the people ruined by the 2002 violence have not received justice. “Every reminder – even if it is in the form of a film – that justice has not been done is welcome, as it gives hope that someone will take note,” she said. …



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Cops ignored Hindu terror leads, says officer who arrested Aseemanand (Feb 7, 2014, DNA India)

The Andhra Pradesh police had information about the existence of a “Hindu terror network” after the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blasts, a former CBI officer told dna in the wake of a media report claiming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was behind multiple blasts.

During four rounds of interviews to Caravan magazine, arrested accused Swami Aseemanand said that the blasts were supported and funded by the RSS’ top level, according to the magazine. The RSS, which is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideologue, questioned the veracity of Aseemanand’s statements.

A former CBI officer, who unearthed the “Hindu terror network” and arrested Aseemanand, said that although the Congress-led Andhra Pradesh government had leads on the existence of such a network after the 2007 blasts, the AP police went after 70 Muslim youth, who were arrested, tortured and implicated in the case. The officer said he was able to draw a link between the Malegaon, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts, which were all triggered by mobile phones, after 12 days of intense investigations.

“When I told my seniors, we should look at Hindu fundamentalists, they told me I am mad,” said the former CBI officer. “The AP police also had information, but they chose not to pursue the lead. With considerable evidence that my team had gathered, we got a go-ahead. When my colleague shared the information with (Anti-Terrorism Squad’s) Hemant Karkare, he immediately took the lead and arrested Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and the rest is history.” The CBI later arrested Assemanand, who is currently in Ambala jail.

Meanwhile, RSS spokesman Ram Madhav questioned the interview’s authenticity saying Aseemanand had denied giving any such interview. “This is a political conspiracy,” said Madhav. “One has to bear in mind the timing of this information so close to the election. Similar flase allegations to defame the RSS leadership were made earlier too, and have been proved to be incorrect.”



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Shinde hints at conducting probe in Samjhauta Express blast case (Feb 6, 2014, Business Standard)

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Thursday hinted at conducting a probe in the Samjhauta Express blast case after allegations surfaced about RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s alleged involvement in the attack that killed 68 people, mostly Pakistani nationals, in February 2007. The accusations were levelled after a magazine published audio tapes and transcripts of an interview with Indian monk Swami Aseemanand, in which he allegedly blames Bhagwat for playing a role in the Samjhauta Express (Attari Express) bi-weekly train attack, the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid and theAjmer Dargah blasts in 2007.

Shinde said: “Now let us see in the matter, if they have revealed it then their must be some truth.” Earlier in 2011, the National Investigative Agency had filed its charge sheet against Aseemanand and four others, but the NIA officials could not prove charges against him. Meanwhile, RSS leader M.G. Vaidya dismissed the allegations, saying there was no authenticity. … Two homemade bombs exploded aboard a train bound from India to Pakistan burning to death at least 64 passengers in 2007.

Most of the victims were Pakistanis but included some Indians. Two other unexploded homemade bombs were also found on the train and the track. The Samjhauta Express was carrying around 527 passengers. The dead included three railway policemen. Samjhauta is Hindi for understanding or agreement. The rail link was restored in 1976, but severed again after an attack on New Delhi’s parliament in late 2001. It started up again in 2004.



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Ishrat Jahan encounter case: CBI charges former IB special director, 3 serving officers (Feb 6, 2014, India Today)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday filed a supplementary chargesheet in Ishrat Jahan encounter case. The agency charged former Intelligence Bureau special director Rajinder Kumar along with three serving officers – P. Mittal, M.K. Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede – in a special court in Ahmedabad.

It, however, did not mention the then Gujarat minister of state for home and close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah. The foursome has been charged under IPC section 120B and Sections 27 and 28 of the Indian Arms Act.

Ishrat, 19, was killed along with three other suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba militants on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on 15 June, 2004 by the Gujarat Police’s crime branch in an alleged fake encounter. The state police had claimed that the operation was carried out on the information provided by the IB, which was then headed by Rajinder Kumar in the state.



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Government forced to defer Communal Violence Bill (Feb 5, 2014, The Hindu)

The UPA government faced a major embarrassment on the first day of the extended winter session of Parliament on Wednesday as a united Opposition forced the government to defer the Communal Violence Bill in the Rajya Sabha. As the Opposition parties, including the BJP, Samajwadi Party, CPI(M), AIADMK and DMK, stepped up their attack on the government, accusing it of going against the spirit of federalism and encroaching upon States’ rights, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien deferred the Prevention of Communal Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2014, in view of the “mood of the House.”

The Bill was to replace the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005, withdrawn by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. Earlier, the House had a brief debate on whether Parliament had the jurisdiction to enact such a Bill that violates the spirit of federalism. Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and Law Minister Kapil Sibal engaged in heated arguments.

Mr. Jaitley said: “The Central government has absolutely no jurisdiction in bringing such a Bill … This Bill is entirely beyond the legislative competence of Parliament. I am … convinced that objections raised by Opposition have … substance.” Mr. Sibal said the Bill would not violate the federal structure and that any action by the Union government under the Bill would be with the consent of State governments. He attacked the BJP by referring to the 2002 Gujarat riots, and said the Bill was necessary to tackle “state-sponsored communal activity… like it happened in Gujarat.”

“If it is state-sponsored communal activity, then it is not a law-and-order issue … Like what happened in Gujarat is not a law-and-order issue,” he said. Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) said the Bill could not be introduced as the legislative competence of the Centre was in question. Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien said that “the UPA has butchered the concept of federalism” and accused the government of encroaching upon the rights of States. V. Maitreyan of the AIADMK said as law and order was a state subject.



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1984: Giani Zail Singh’s daughter says PM, govt ignored his pleas for help (Feb 3, 2014, India Today)

“The year 1984 was the most painful year for my father,” says Dr Gurdeep Kaur, daughter of former president Dr Giani Zail Singh. In an interview with PTC News here yesterday, Dr Gurdeep Kaur who now lives here with her engineer husband Surinder Singh Virdi, maintained that her father was deeply hurt both by Operation Bluestar and the anti-sikh riots. The agony of Giani Ji, she says, was that despite being the supreme commander of Indian defense forces, he was neither consulted before Operation Bluestar nor could he, in spite of his best efforts, stop the riots against innocent Sikhs.

“Giani Ji was a very strong man and he could fight his own battles, but the Operation Bluestar was one that shook him and brought tears to his eyes”. Four days after Operation Bluestar, when he visited Golden Temple and Akal Takhat Sahib, he came back devastated and in deep anguish. He was shaken by the damage caused to the sanctum sanctorum, revealed Dr Gurdeep Kaur.

Dr Kaur while giving the firsthand account of events that unfolded at Rashtarpati Bhavan on the night of October 31, 1984, said that her father was deeply perturbed over breaking out of riots. He tried calling the PMO, the then Home Minister and other concerned authorities in a concerted effort to stop the atrocities being committed on innocent Sikhs. She claimed that either his calls were not returned or lines were getting disconnected for reasons unknown, thus revealing helplessness at that time of ‘the Most Powerful Man’ of independent India who also happened to be the supreme commander of Indian defense forces.

Dr Gurdeep Kaur maintained that her father was restless and had sleepless nights as riots against Sikhs continued unabated. She claimed that with no help or support coming from those who held authority, he tried to utilise his own limited resources including, sending out his bodyguards to rescue the victims. He also tried to send vehicles from Rashtarpati Bhavan for evacuating victims. She said that Giani Ji was also very upset as many of the conventions and practices were being violated with impunity. She stresses that in the first 48 to 72 hours, no one including the Prime Minister turned up at Rashtarpati Bhavan to brief the President as is the convention even now in India.

She lamented that though her father was the supreme commander of Indian defense forces, he could not pass an executive order to call even a soldier to stop the riots. Dr Kaur also made a revelation that when pressure was built on her father by various Sikh organisations to quit, he called a meeting of his advisors and family members. It was he who took the conscious decision in the larger interest of the nation in general and Sikh community in particular to stay put. “Had he as supreme commander resigned at that time, there would have been chaos and Sikhs would have suffered immensely. It was because of his decision that Sikhs could become army heads and PM now” she said.



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Accused pressuring us to withdraw cases: Muzaffarnagar riot victims (Feb 6, 2014, Times of India)

Victims and witnesses of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar have lodged a complaint alleging riot accused are pressuring them to withdraw cases and turn hostile. They have submitted audio tapes in support of their allegations and have asked police to register a case, arrest accused and take their voice samples for verification. Shahid Hasan and Shaukeen, who have filed cases as victims and witnesses of the horrific killings in Lisadh village, have lodged a complaint with the special investigation team (SIT) which is probing the riots.

They have submitted recordings of telephonic conversations with Rajendra, son of Baba Harikishan, head of Gathwala Khap panchayat. Harikishan has been accused of delivering hate speeches at a mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar on September 7, following which the riots broke out. They have submitted a copy of the complaint and audio tapes in the Supreme Court which is hearing a PIL demanding CBI probe into riots.

Asad Hayat, Muzaffarnagar-based lawyer and petitioner in the case, told TOI that Rajendra called up several victims and witnesses of the killings in Lisadh village and asked them to either withdraw the case or turn hostile. Asad claimed many accused have resorted to similar tactics. The callers, he added, also claimed that they had named several Muslims of the village in a murder case only to build pressure and are ready to withdraw cases as quid pro quo. Asad alleged 13 Muslims were killed and their houses set afire in Lisadh during riots.

The application filed before SIT also claimed that several victims have already withdrawn their complaints or turned hostile in cases reported from Lisadh, Bahawadi, Lakh, Fugana and Kutba-Kutabi villages. It also states that leaders of Ghathwala Khap panchayat recently declared they would not allow police to arrest accused in gang-rape cases. Reports of victims and witnesses withdrawing cases or turning hostile were reported earlier as well, Asad said, and added that if police failed to take action, he will seek intervention of the Supreme Court. The next hearing is on February 12.

When contacted, SIT in charge Manoj Jha confirmed receiving the complaint and said they probing the allegations. “It’s a delicate issue and we will verify recordings and match them with voice samples before proceeding further,” Jha said.



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HC asks cops to file fresh report in Arunachal student case (Feb 5, 2014, Indian Express)

Pulling up the Delhi Police for failing to submit post-mortem report in the Arunachal Pradesh student case, the Delhi High Court today said infrastructure in the city for examining scientific evidence in criminal cases is at a “primitive” stage. The court was reacting to the Delhi Police submission that it will require more time to submit the post-mortem report in the case.

“If you are unable to give post-mortem report in so many days in Delhi in a fast tracked case like this, what is the status of other cases. We must say the infrastructure (to examine evidence in criminal cases) is at a primitive stage in national capital,” a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice R S Endlaw said. The bench returned the status report filed by Delhi Police in the case and directed it to file a fresh one along with post-mortem findings by February 7.

The high court had on Monday taken suo motu cognisance of media reports about the killing of Arunachal Pradesh student, Nido Taniam, who was allegedly beaten by some shopkeepers here, and had asked the Centre and Delhi Police to file a report on the incident. The probe agency’s report was returned as Delhi Police’ counsel Dayan Krishnan said the nature of injuries and death of victim can’t be correlated till they receive post-mortem report which will take time.

He also said the toxicology and viscera of the victim has been sent to FSL, which is must faster. However, after the bench returned the report and directed to file a fresh one by Friday, Krishnan said that he will coordinate with AIIMS to ensure the process is speeded up. The bench had earlier also sought details of the steps taken for safety of people from North East staying in the capital.

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Rajeeve Mehra and advocate Sumeet Pushkarna today said the Ministry of Home Affairs will be filing a report regarding the measures taken for safety and security of people from North East who are staying in Delhi. 19-year-old Nido Tania, son of an Arunachal Pradesh MLA, was allegedly thrashed by some shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar area of south Delhi when he retaliated after they made fun of his hairstyle. He subsequently died on January 30. …



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2 cops held, 3 missing after probe finds they threw body from police jeep (Feb 5, 2014, Indian Express)

Two constables – Amarpal and Amit – were arrested and three others, including the station officer (SO) of Moradabad’s Mudhapandey police station, are absconding after a case was registered against them following investigations in which they were found to have carried a dead body in the police jeep before throwing it in Rampur.

The police is now investigating if the five were also involved in the kidnapping and murder of Satendra Rastogi, a jeweller, whose body they had dumped in patwai police station area last week. Some school boys claimed to have seen Rastogi’s body being thrown out from the jeep and noted down the vehicle’s number. The vehicle was found to be that of Mudhapandey police station.

Among the five policemen, constables Amarpal and Amit were arrested Monday. They were produced before a court Tuesday and sent to jail. The others, including SO Syed Mansoor and constables Muninder and Rahul, are absconding. Inspector General (IG), Law and Order, Amrendra Kumar Sengar said the investigations so far have found all five policemen accused of destruction of evidence. The police is probing their role in kidnapping and murder of the jeweller.

Station officer (SO) of Majhola police station in Moradabad, Rajendra Singh, who is also the investigating officer in the case, said there are three eyewitness to the incident. The policemen have been named in the case on the basis of statements of the eyewitnesses and other evidences, which include the cellphone records of the personnel.

Singh said, the accused had claimed to have gone to Surajanpur village in Rampur to trace a criminal. The general diary (GD) of the Mudhapandey police station, also mentions the time when they left for Rampur on police jeep and the time when they returned to the police station, he confirmed. …



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MPPEB scam: A day in STF custody, Sharma aide sings name of four BJP leaders (Feb 9, 2014, Times of India)

A day after his arrest, former state higher education minister Laxmikant Sharma’s aide OP Shukla allegedly named four BJP leaders, including three ministers of the ruling BJP in multi-crore Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board Scam (MPPEB) scam.

During questioning on Friday, he, however, has denied his own involvement in PMT-2012 scam for which he was arrested. But, STF officials are tight-lipped about it. Shukla, who served as Sharma’s officer on special duty (OSD) for long was on the run after his name surfaced in the MPPEB scam, had surrender at STF office in a dramatic manner on Thursday.

Shukla had surrendered to STF two days after his family was tipped off about a possible threat to his life by people who introduced themselves as agents of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). “Two IB officers met Shukla’s wife on February 1. They informed her that Shukla could be eliminated by those involved in the scam so it was better for him to surrender,” said one of his family members.

On February 3, Shukla’s wife reportedly met STF ADG Sudhir Sahi with proposal from her husband to surrender. Sahi agreed and asked her to send him to the office. She returned assuring the officer that he would surrender at STF office in a week. Later, the couple consulted a priest for an auspicious time. The astrologer suggested him to surrender by 11.15 am.

After intense interrogation of 8 hours, Shukla was arrested for his alleged role in the PMT-2012 case contrary to his fears that he would be nabbed for his role in contractual teachers recruitment scam. Shukla allegedly said Dr Pankaj Trivedi, the MPPEB exam controller had given him Rs 84 lakh. …



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Opinions and Editorials

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – By Manoj Mitta (Feb 17, 2014, Outlook)

When Narendra Modi visited the office of the SIT (Special Investigation Team) in Gandhinagar on March 27, 2010, it was exactly 11 months after the Supreme Court had directed it to “look into” a criminal complaint. Modi’s visit in response to an SIT summons was a milestone in accountability—at least in potential. It was the first time any chief minister was being questioned by an investigating agency for his alleged complicity in communal violence. The summons were on the complaint by Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who had been killed in the first of the post-Godhra massacres in 2002.

Jafri’s complaint, which had been referred to it by the Supreme Court on April 27, 2009, tested the SIT’s independence and integrity more than any of the nine cases that had been originally assigned to it a year earlier. Jafri’s complaint called upon it to probe allegations against 63 influential persons, including Modi himself. The complaint named Modi as Accused No. 1 for the alleged conspiracy behind the carnage that had taken place in 14 of Gujarat’s 25 districts.

A Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, authorised the SIT not only to “look into” Jafri’s complaint but also to “take steps as required in law”. The legal steps that needed to be taken immediately were self-evident. The SIT was required to examine whether the information contained in Jafri’s complaint amounted to, as Section 154 CrPC put it, “the commission of a cognizable offence”. If so, the SIT would be obliged, under the same provision, to register a first information report (FIR), which is a statutory prelude to an actual investigation. …



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The Unending Amnesia Over Hindutva Terror – By Subhash Gatade (Feb 6, 2014, Countercurrents)

… ‘Law is an ass’ a phrase which was used by Charles Dickens in ‘Oliver Twist’ in a completely different context today finds a deep resonance in this part of South Asia. And nothing illustrates this better than the predicament of what is popularly known as Hindutva terror.

The manner in which people who supposedly have been planners, masterminds, funders of the whole operations have been allowed to go scot free, the way in which one finds acquittal of accused case after case, the manner in which a supposedly secular government at the hustings has declined to ban proto-fascist organisations who were found to be involved in criminal terrorist operations or the apathy with which the media – which calls itself watchdog of democracy – has preferred to softpedal the threat it poses to the foundations of the Republic itself is unprecedented.

And the less said about the curious case of Lt Col Purohit, it is better. This gentleman, who was with the Military Intelligence Wing, is languishing in jail since last more than five years as an accused/key figure in many terror attacks, involving many RSS and other Hindutva activists but has yet not been suspended by his bosses and is in an uneviable situation the world has rarely witnessed where he is regularly receiving his salary with all the doles involved. (As an aside it need be mentioned here that this information was made available to the outside world by one of his co-accused himself – an ex army man Ramesh Upadhyaya – who filed RTI application to get the information.) And the Supreme Court has blocked the National Investigating Agency (NIA) from questioning him.

But the most urgent thing on the agenda is the fresh revelation that top leaders of the Hindutva brigade were not only very much in the know of this violent phase but were in fact its real patrons. …



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In Narendra Modi, big money backs the wrong man in India – By Pankaj Mishra (Feb 10, 2014, Livemint)

There is a great, virtual storm blowing through India today, and the most frantic people in the country seem to be those trimming their sails to it. I refer to the shrewdly concerted campaign to make Narendra Modi seem like India’s natural and inevitable leader – a veritable miracle worker who, emerging triumphant in elections due by May, will raise despondently low growth rates and restore the country’s pride and international reputation.

The chief minister of Gujarat is trailed by accusations of his complicity – and that of his closest aides – in the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in 2002, and barred, consequently, from travel to the US It is far from clear if Modi can jettison India’s unique model of collaborative capitalism and unleash entrepreneurial energies in the stagnant manufacturing sector, let alone push through much-needed investments in infrastructure and agriculture.

Furthermore, three months is a long time in politics. The rise of Modi seems much less inevitable after the stunning performance of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in New Delhi state elections. Even a favourable recent poll puts Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at least 80 seats short of a majority in the Indian Parliament; a BJP-led coalition may prove to be even more inefficient than the tottering regime under current Congress Party Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Nevertheless, Modi already seems to have been anointed in many moist eyes as India’s redeemer. The perception is a triumph of network power, involving chieftains of sectarian religious groups, politically ambitious columnists and corporate-owned TV anchors as well as the public-relations firm APCO. Armies of cyberthugs rampaging through Twitter and the comment sections of online articles have synergistically contributed to it as much as the man himself with his superb oratory and admirable hair transplant. …

As it turned out, what was good for General Motors was not good for America, or indeed the values of free societies everywhere. “It is easy to see,” as The Economist has written, “why firms are drawn to pragmatism.” But the purely pecuniary motive is not the same as sound political instinct. And shareholder value, even if boosted across several quarters, will not outweigh posterity’s damning judgment on all those guilty of a lethal abdication of moral responsibility.



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Riots and wrongs – Editorial (Feb 6, 2014, Indian Express)

The communal violence bill championed by the Congress-led UPA has been unanimously rejected by state governments and political parties. It has been nearly 10 years since the UPA first floated the bill, not very long after the 2002 Gujarat riots. It was meant to enforce accountability of the police and administrative machinery, and establish clear terms for relief and reparation. But that first version has undergone several revisions.

The NAC’s ill-conceived draft in 2011 tilted dangerously towards the Centre, overriding the states’ control of law and order. Many objected to the way the proposed law exerted all its pressure on civil servants, and sought to set up a special riots bureaucracy of “clear moral character”. Some parties objected to the way its defaults seemed to be set in favour of religious and linguistic minorities, pre-emptively assigning victimhood and responsibility.

Some of those clauses have now been amended – the central committee has been replaced with the NHRC, and the bill addresses all acts of group violence. But the bill’s fate in the Rajya Sabha has made it clear that no opposition party is willing to accept it. The government insists that the NHRC can only act with the state government’s permission, and that “control of law and order” could not apply in cases of state-sponsored violence, but opposition parties maintain that it is an incursion on states’ rights. It is clear that the UPA should stop wasting valuable parliamentary time on this project now.

This is not to say that communal violence does not need urgent attention. Muzaffarnagar, Gopalgarh and other troubled places have demolished complacencies about the waning of these tensions or the likelihood of them flaring into active conflict. Home ministry data shows a sharp 30 per cent rise in such incidents in the last year alone. The fact that these communal tensions can be used as political tinder, even now, shows that the state needs to devise new ways to contain them. The argument is about how best to do so. Does a longstanding social problem disappear by creating a new, specially named law?

A communal violence bill is no remedy if the political resolve is weak and the government dithers instead of taking prompt action. A new law will not solve the underlying issue – of making sure that in incidents of communal violence, FIRs and investigations are acted upon and followed through seriously.



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‘The Police Would Intimidate Photographers Taking Pictures Of The Riots’ – Ashok Vahie with G Vishnu (Feb 15, 2014, Tehelka)

During a recent TV debate on Rahul Gandhi’s statement on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots,HS Phoolka, advocate for the victims of the massacre for 30 years, kept waving pictures that showed the then president Giani Zail Singh’s damaged car. Apparently, a mob had pelted stones at Singh’s car on the afternoon he was on his way to AIIMS to check on then prime minister Indira Gandhi, who would soon breathe her last.

Then, as now, various Congress leaders have repeatedly asserted that the riots started “spontaneously” after news of Gandhi’s death broke at 5.30 pm on 31 October 1984. These photographs would, however, indicate a different narrative. Among the many who had witnessed the horrific riots in Delhi, photographer Ashok Vahie, 65, too remembers it as if it happened only yesterday. As a 35-year-old freelancer, he captured on his camera an event that would go down as one of the most shameful episodes in Indian history.

Thirty years later, in his small office in the narrow by-lanes of Bhagat Singh Market in Central Delhi, Vahie is reluctant to talk about the riots. His mind, unlike his camera, has captured those images of horror that can never be erased. On a February evening in his office, Vahie talks to G Vishnu of the pogrom he does not like talking about. …



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What the Death of Nido Taniam Tells Us About Racism in India – By Nilanjana Bhowmick (Feb 6, 2014, Time)

Nido Taniam was a young man from Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. The son of a state legislator, Taniam was like 20-year-olds anywhere, with his trendy haircut and love of music. Last Friday, he stopped at a shop in a market in Delhi to ask for directions. The shopkeeper and his friends made fun of Taniam’s hair and clothes and a brawl began. It ended with Taniam’s death.

This wasn’t a senseless fight over a haircut, however. It was Taniam’s East Asian features that marked him out for attack, and his death highlighted the racism that many from India’s beautiful but impoverished northeastern states are subjected to.

While not every incident ends in such a horrific manner, assaults on young men from the northeast are commonplace in Delhi. Alana Golmei, founding member of the Northeast Support Centre and helpline, says she gets half a dozen distress calls a week. “This was waiting to happen,” Golmei tells TIME.

It isn’t just physical differences that make people from the northeast stand out in a big city like Delhi. The fact that they hail from societies that are culturally more permissive than mainstream India highlights their otherness in the eyes of other Indians. A series of separatist insurgencies being waged by the indigenous peoples of the northeast also exacerbates tensions. Then there’s the fact that the northeast is geographically distinct from the rest of the country, connected to it by just a narrow strip of land known as the Siliguri Corridor.

“The identity of an Indian man [or woman] is culturally defined, and anyone who doesn’t fit that mold is an outsider,” says Pradip Phanjoubam, a fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. “Once you are out of the northeast, you have to renegotiate the question of being an Indian, as physically the northeast is a part of India but culturally it isn’t.” …



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Book Review

26/11 probe: Why Judiciary also Failed

Author: SM Mushrif
Reviewed by: Ram Puniyani
Available at: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, D-84 Abul Fazl Enclave – I, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi-110 025, India, 218 pp; Rs 275. http://www.pharosmedia.com/
Mumbai’s Black Book (Feb 15, 2014, Tehelka)

Mumbai has been a victim of terrorist attacks a number of times, especially in the aftermath of the ghastly post-Babri demolition violence. The most horrific terrorist attack that shook Mumbai, however, was undoubtedly the terrorist siege on 26 November 2008 in which 126 people died and 327 people got injured. The attack was deadly and apart from other victims, Hindus and Muslims both, it took away the life of one particular police officer Hemant Karkare — the Maharashtra ATS chief, who was investigating the acts of terror in which the involvement of Hindutva groups was also coming to the surface steadily. The police version of the incident had lots of holes. The then minority affairs minister AR Antulay and many others started having serious doubts about the sequence of events presented by the police. Later, two more glaring things happened: the bulletproof jacket of Karkare went missing, and his postmortem report was not made public. An intense hue and cry was orchestrated to hang the lone terrorist survivor, Ajmal Kasab. He had the key to unravelling some of these vital queries and there were elements who wanted him hanged without a trial.

It is in this backdrop that SM Mushrif does a commendable job of collating all the available evidence and coming out with a revelatory book, Who Killed Karkare: The Real Face of Terrorism in India. In summary, Mushrif challenges the theory put forward by police and argues that apart from eight terrorists who landed from Pakistan, there were two more who were from the Hindutva groups, who had, in collaboration with the Intelligence Bureau (IB), taken advantage of the knowledge that Pakistani terrorists were coming to Mumbai. But instead of alerting the Navy and other authorities concerned, who could have averted the attack, the IB played a different game. Hindutva groups swung into action and planned to eliminate Karkare. When he was doing his job meticulously, the Hindutva political group Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna wrote in the editorial that they’d spit on the face of Karkare. The present prime ministerial candidate from BJP, Narendra Modi, called Karkare anti-national.

Mushrif pieces together all the evidences and demolishes the theory presented by the police, and proves that “the CST-Cama Hospital-Rangbhavan lane operation was planned, scripted, directed, choreographed and executed jointly by Brahminists involved in a nationwide terror plot, as disclosed in the Malegaon blast investigation”.

This book challenges the State version upfront. While several editions of the book came out, along with its multiple translations, the IB accused of masterminding the plot kept quiet about the whole thing. No challenging of the theory of the book, no banning of the book! The plan might have been to kill the book’s theory by ignoring it. A phobia was created not to talk about the theory put forward in the book. The IB seemed to have made this phobia percolate to the judiciary, with the result that the courts ignored many crucial arguments raised in the book. Still, though the case ended with the conviction of Ajmal Kasab, a careful scrutiny of the 1,588-page judgment revealed that many findings of the judgment vindicated Mushrif’s theory. Radhakant Yadav, a 77-year-old veteran socialist leader of Bihar and three-time member of the Bihar Assembly, picked up the threads of the arguments of Mushrif’s book and the positive findings of the judgment; and then went on to file a criminal writ petition in the Bombay High Court. Important points of the petition are reproduced verbatim in the book under review.

The intervention of the Court is a major hope in the case, but the State and the authorities concerned are not responding in an adequate manner. The Ram Pradhan Committee report, which went into the role of the police and other authorities concerned in the terror attacks, is being kept under wraps. The DVD enclosed in the book also has valuable footage drawn from TV channels and other sources. One major point shown by the footage is about how Karkare, the prime target of the ‘native conspirators’, was trapped. Surely, Mushrif’s first book and this brilliant sequel, are crying out for answers. Populist notions about terrorism have influenced our investigations too far. If truth is to be unravelled, an honest examination of the arguments of this book is highly imperative. It is a powerful indictment of the IB and the Hindutva groups, and should compel the authorities to give an honest answer.