IAMC Weekly News Roundup - February 1st, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 1st, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Information on Modi’s, Anandiben Patel’s educational qualifications not in “public interest”: Gujarat CM office (Feb 1, 2016, Counterview)

The Gujarat government is learnt to have turned down a right to information (RTI) plea seeking proof of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and chief minister Anandiben Patel’s educational qualifications, saying this information cannot be made available because it does not concern “public interest.” The RTI applicant, Yogesh B Dave, had reportedly made the application to the Gujarat chief minister’s office (CMO) seeking the information.

In his reply, the official responsible for replying to RTI affairs in the CMO said, “You’ve asked for the photo copies of educational qualifications of the former chief minister of Gujarat and the current CM. As per the RTI act 2005 8(1), this information is related to personal life of both the post holders.” The reply added, “This information is not related to any public interest. Therefore, this information cannot be provided without the prior permission of both.”

This is not for the first time that an RTI application was made seeking details of the educational qualifications of Modi, who has claimed he has completed his masters’ degree. In September, the Gujarat University rejected an RTI request on Modi’s Masters’ degree in just one line, without citing any reason or quoting any provision of the RTI Act for it. The one-line reply said, “Under RTI Act of 2005, this information can’t be made public.”…



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President’s rule in Arunachal: Murder of democracy, Emergency-like situation, says Oppn (Jan 26, 2016, Indian Express)

Congress, JD-U and AAP today attacked imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh as “murder” of democracy and federalism and accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of “insulting” the highest court of the country that is right now hearing the matter.…

“This is murder of democracy…The matter is sub-judice and government has acted in haste. It is a clear-cut insult to the highest court of the land. Democracy has been murdered,” Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal compared the imposition of President’s rule to an Emergency like condition. “Prez rule in Arunachal Advaniji was right in saying that there are Emergency-like conditions in the country,” he tweeted. Attacking the decision, outgoing Arunachal chief minister Nabam Tuki said they will approach the court as matter is sub-judice.…



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Centre sends back anti-terror bill to Gujarat government (Jan 29, 2016, Hindustan Times)

The Narendra Modi government has sent Gujarat’s controversial anti-terror legislation – the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill – back to the state government after President Pranab Mukherjee kept it pending for nearly four months.

The GCTOC Bill cleared last year was patterned on the anti-terror law Modi first piloted through the assembly in 2003. But the Rashtrapati Bhavan rejected the bill on two occasions, the first in 2004. As CM, Modi often called the then Congress-led central government’s refusal to clear the bill a reflection of its feeble resolve to fight terrorism.

Government sources told HT that the home ministry sent the bill to the President for his assent last year. But the Rashtrapati Bhavan is learnt to have had reservations and decided to hold back its approval, quite the same way as presidents in the past sat on home ministry recommendations to reject mercy pleas. A government official said the Centre saw the writing on the wall, withdrew the bill from the President and sent it to the Gujarat government with some queries.…



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U.P. police destroyed papers on Hashimpura massacre (Feb 2, 2016, The Hindu)

The Uttar Pradesh police destroyed documents that could have helped to prove the involvement of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel in the Hashimpura massacre of 1987, even while the trial is still pending, it has now emerged.

Last year, a Delhi court acquitted 16 PAC men, who were among the 19 charged with abducting 42 members of the minority community in May 1987 during the riots in Meerut. The victims were picked up from the Hashimpura Mohalla in a truck, and taken to a nearby canal, where they were gunned down, according to the prosecution.

The 29-year-old Hashimpura massacre case collapsed due to “insufficient evidence”. Three of the 19 PAC men died in the course of the trial. A letter written by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Meerut, a copy of which is with The Hindu, shows the documents were “weeded out” on April 1, 2006. In the letter to the Crime Branch of the State Crime Investigation Department (CID), the SSP said it was now impossible to make available documents related to the deployment of the PAC personnel on the day that the massacre was allegedly carried out. The matter was being heard in a Tis Hazari court at time the documents were destroyed.…



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“Why doesn’t anybody talk about Sangh leaders’s threats of creating private army of 15,000 Hindus” (Jan 30, 2016, Muslim Mirror)

AIP president independent MLA engineer A Rasheed has asked BJP leadership not to be under the impression that Sangh Parivaar can infiltrate into political scenario of Kashmir by hiring proxies.

While addressing party workers at Town Hall in Shopian today, he said, “There is no justification to the threats made by a senior Sangh Parivaar leader in UP few days back that Hindus of India have already lived under slavery of Muslim rulers for 1000 years and to defeat their designs and to prevent them further we are making a private army of 15000 Hindu militants.

He said nobody spoke even a word about this extreme provocation of RSS in India. Besides, RSS has been demanding introduction of Hindi instead of Persian and Arabic in Madrasas, which unfolds the threat to Muslims in coming days. The recent revelations made by President Pranab Mukherjee over Babri Masjid in his book are ample reason for any secular Hindu or a Muslim to not even think of aligning with BJP, one way or the other.…



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Imphal encounter: Cop’s murder admission; SP denies he ordered it, Centre seeks a report (Jan 28, 2016, Yahoo)

The Centre sought a report from the Manipur government on The Indian Express report Wednesday in which a Manipur Police head constable, under suspension over an alleged fake encounter in Imphal in July 2009, admitted he shot Chungkham Sanjit Meitei, a suspected member of the insurgent group People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who was “not armed” when he was killed.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said: “We have asked for a report from the state government on the matter, and appropriate action will be taken after studying the report.” The CBI declined comment. A spokesperson for the agency said: “CBI has already filed a chargesheet in the case in an Imphal court and the trial is on. The matter is sub-judice.”

Manipur policeman Thounaojam Herojit Singh, a gallantry award recipient, told The Indian Express he shot the “unarmed” 22-year-old on July 23, 2009. “Yes, I shot him. I shot Sanjit Meitei. No, he was not armed. I felt no remorse, no sympathy after I killed Sanjit. I felt nothing. It was an order and I had to simply carry it out,” he said. Herojit Singh alleged he was told by then Additional SP, Imphal West, Dr Akoijam Jhalajit Singh – he is now SP of the same district – to “finish him off”.…



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NDA govt thrusting Hindutva on country, will oppose it: Muslim body (Feb 2, 2016, Hindustan Times)

All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Maulana Sajjad Nomani on Monday accused the BJP-led NDA government of “thrusting” the “Hindutva” on citizens. “Compulsion of doing Yoga and Suryanamskar, making singing of Vande Mataram compulsory etc. are directed towards thrusting Hindu culture on the country,” Nomani told reporters at a press conference in Mumbra.

He said a two-day meet on “Save faith save Constitution” will be held in Mumbra on February 24 and 25 as a part of the AIMPLB’s nationwide mass awareness programme. Nomani also demanded that ‘namaz’ should be taught to students of schools and government employees if the BJP government is bent on making “Hindu practices” like yoga and suryanamaskar compulsory for them.

“Yoga is part of Hindu religion. We are not against doing Yogasanas (postures). But if you make school students and government employees to practice yoga, then teach them ‘namaz’ as well,” he said in response to a query. Nomani alleged that the Centre was doing everything against Constitution.…



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Modi Govt targets Muslim educational institutes in the name of national security (Feb 1, 2016, Twocircles.net)

National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language and National Security in the same sentence may appear awkward to many; but for the Union Home Ministry, NCPUL is the new archery bow to take arrows of the purported ‘war on terror’ for its desired target, the Muslim run educational institutes.

In the month of January, hundreds of NCPUL study centers, mainly madrassas and other Muslim run institutes affiliated to its different diploma programmes, across the country received a rather murky message from Union Home Ministry, disguised as NCPUL notice asking ‘to detect and counter radicalization efforts.’…

Asked if it was proper to drag in madrassas in national Security process, he replied, “We acted on the direction received from the Central Government.” He said that the NCPUL received the circular from the Central Government asking them to implement recommendations of the Task Force on national security one month back. Later an inner departmental circular was issued to all NCPUL departments to implement the same, thus the notice was issued to study centers.…



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Police brutality: Delhi cops beat up students, including girls, protesting over Rohith Vemula’s death (Feb 1, 2016, First Post)

In a shocking two-day old video released by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has now gone viral, policemen in Delhi are seen brutally beating up students, who were protesting against the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. The policemen, some of whom were in plain clothes, even assaulted some of the female protesters outside the RSS office in Jhandewalan, according to IBNLive.…

The police brutality reportedly took place after the students protesting near the RSS office began marching towards the RSS office. The police also formed a barricade outside the RSS office and soon unexpectedly began beating up the student protesters there. The protesters have said that they were protesting peacefully and did nothing which justified the lathicharge.…

“Boys were pulled by their hair. Cops in plain clothes refused to show their ID,” CNN-IBN quoted a woman protester as saying. “Few RSS workers also thrashed us along with cops,” she also said. According to NDTV, the police also attacked the media and some of the cameras belonging to mediapersons were also broken.…



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60 Dalit students from Bihar threaten suicide (Feb 1, 2016, Times of India)

Sixty Dalit students from Bihar studying at Rajdhani Engineering College (REC), Bhubaneswar, were forced to leave the college and their respective hostels on January 8 after the Bihar government allegedly failed to pay their stipend despite repeated requests by the college administration. These second-year students have threatened to commit suicide if the government failed to come to their rescue.

The 60 dalit students – 18 from East Champaran and 42 from West Champaran – secured admission in the college in 2014 under the state government’s Dalit Stipend Scheme. They alleged that the Bihar government had last paid the stipend to the college one-and-a-half-year ago.

“We have decided to commit suicide because our future is at stake due to the negligence of SC/ST welfare department of the Bihar government,” said one of the students, adding that the college principal has asked them to return only when all their dues are cleared.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Gujarat must give up terror bill – Editorial (Feb 1, 2016, The Hindu)

Gujarat should give up its persistent efforts to get the controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, 2015, approved by the President. First moved by Narendra Modi in 2003 when he was Chief Minister of the State, the Bill has been facing objections on the ground that it contains some draconian provisions. The Centre refused to clear the Bill three times when the United Progressive Alliance was in power.…

India’s repeated experiments with anti-terrorism laws have been, by and large, unsuccessful. The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985, a law considered as draconian as the Rowlatt Act of the colonial era, and its latter-day version, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2003, had been allowed to lapse after it was found that they were prone to persistent misuse.…

There is really no need for more State-level laws of such a nature. Police investigators need better resources and training to combat organised crime and terror, and not laws that abridge and modify conventional criminal procedure to the detriment of human rights.



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How Narendra Modi honed his media “management” skills during his almost 13 years of rule in Gujarat – By RK Misra (Feb 1, 2016, Counterview)

…Narendra Modi’s advent on the scene as Prime Minister has marked a surgical departure in the manner of government news coverage. In the past whenever governments changed at the Centre, including the BJP-led NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, there were at best some recalibrations: If the BJP came to power, veterans of the beat were moved to centre-stage while the specialists covering the outgoing party were shifted to the sidelines.

Modi, however, has ensured a tectonic shift. Now it is not media, which is deciding how the government is to be covered. It is Modi who has laid the ground rules as to how it (media) shall cover the government. The capital’s bloated population of know-alls who possessed the legendary reputation of worming their way into the most stubborn woodworks now find themselves reduced to peripheral players with access to news sources within the government severely restricted. The invisible line carefully etched by Prime Minister Modi is holding firm, keeping the ‘creepy crawlies’ out. Like it or not, that’s how most in the political power structure look at journalists – an avoidable nuisance.

Modi’s concentration of power in his own hands has ensured steamroller domination of governance by the Prime Minister’s Office. This has been further reinforced by the appointment of his old team of tried and tested officers from Gujarat in a variety of key positions in various ministries, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Intelligence, CBI, even SPG .By last count there are around 40 officers – serving or retired – from Gujarat doing duty at the Centre. Modi’s control thus is complete. In fact, immediately after he took over as the Prime Minister, there was a complete ban on mediapersons’ access to the PMO, leading to panic buttons being pressed in newspapers and TV channels.…



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The basics for free speech – By Suhrith Parthasarathy (Jan 30, 2016, The Hindu)

Through a most pernicious act of judicial fiat, in a judgment delivered on December 23, 2015, Justice A.B. Chaudhari, sitting on the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, issued notice to the Booker Prize-winning writer Arundhati Roy for committing what he believed constituted a clear case of criminal contempt of court. The decision was rendered on an application for bail by the Delhi University professor, G.N. Saibaba.

Not only did the court reject Dr. Saibaba’s plea, in spite of his substantial disabilities, it also hauled Ms. Roy up for writing in support of the professor, and in criticism of the Indian state, including the country’s judiciary. In initiating contempt proceedings, Justice Chaudhari’s judgment has exemplified the state of the right to free speech in India – a liberty fractured by colonial vestiges such as the law on contempt, which we have embarrassingly embraced as a supposed necessity to uphold the majesty of our courts.

The conventional defences adopted in favour of the judiciary retaining powers to punish acts of contempt invariably point to the Constitution. Article 19(1)(a) no doubt grants to the country’s citizens a right to freedom of speech and expression. But the ensuing clause, Article 19(2), limits this freedom, and accords the state the express authority to make laws that establish reasonable restrictions on speech, on various grounds, including contempt of court.…



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Mithun Stir-Fry Sizzler – By Tongam Rina (Feb 8, 2016, Outlook)

The events in remote Arunachal Pradesh are threatening to snowball into the year’s first major political confrontation. A conflict built around the classic theme of Centre-state relations, reminiscent of the ’80s-90s, also means an inevitable impact on Parliament when it reconvenes for the budget session in February-end.

A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court will decide on the role of the governor and who should be in power, but with the President already giving his assent to governor’s rule, the crisis brought into national focus an ugly power struggle—a rebellion within the Congress, fuelled by an enthusiastic BJP—in a state that normally does not hit the headlines.

While many in Arunachal will welcome some sort of an end to the political uncertainty, the touch of burlesque that accompanied it could not mask deeper, institutional questions. The events of the past few months have left people wondering at the role of the judiciary, the Union government and the central leaderships of both the BJP and the Congress.…



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“Yes I shot him dead. I shot Sanjit Meitei. He was not armed” – By Peters Chongom (Jan 30, 2016, The Sangai Express)

The fake encounter issue in Manipur is again in the news. This time, it is no more confined in the local news but published/telecast on the National media. A few days back, the leading news channel CNN-IBN aired the galling revelation of one head constable of Manipur police who revealed to the media that he was in fact the man who shot Sanjit Meitei, a suspected member of an insurgent group, dead.

What is more disturbing in his allegation is that he was instructed by the then Additional SP, Imphal West, Dr. Akoijam Jhalajit Singh to ‘finish off’ Sanjit. He further stated that even the CM and the then DGP of that time is also in the know of the incident.

He in fact clearly stated that the killing was directed by these individuals, who are in the higher-rung of the Government. The head constable also said that Jhalajit gave the assurance that he would be protected and would not come under the radar of suspicion and inspection regarding this killing.…



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Could the Dalit students’ agitation be Modi’s Mandal moment? – By Chaitanya Mallapur (Jan 28, 2016, Scroll.in)

The suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar of University of Hyderabad, has attracted national outrage and international attention. All across India, on campuses and elsewhere, Dalit students are spontaneously agitating to demand justice for Vemula, although the heart of the struggle remains a corner of the University of Hyderabad campus.

I was there at that epicentre recently, and what struck me were the similarities between what is unfolding today and the student agitation against VP Singh government’s decision to implement Mandal Commission’s recommendations in 1990.…

The Dalit students’ agitation, like the Mandal protests of 1990, threatens to divide the country’s academic campuses again on caste lines and that can seriously limit Modi’s support among the aspiring youths and students. As VP Singh was reduced to the “messiah of Mandal politics”, Modi faces the same danger of being bracketed and losing his appeal among students and youths. Modi took five days just to speak up on the issue. The time to act on it is running out fast.



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Book Review

India’s 2014 Elections: A Modi-led BJP Sweep

Author: Ed. Paul Wallace
Reviewed by: Abdul Gaffar
Available at: SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd, B 1/I-1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 044, India, 2015; pp xx+ 427, Rs 1,250.. http://www.amazon.in/
Modi Wave and Congress Debacle (Jan 30, 2016, EPW)

The book, India’s 2014 Elections: A Modi-led BJP Sweep, edited by Paul Wallace furnishes a holistic overview of the 16th Lok Sabha elections and looks into the varied factors that catapulted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into power, while also attempting to examine the reasons behind the decline of the grand old Congress Party. It emphasises the end of coalition politics, with a single party coming into power with a clear majority.…

The BJP’s landslide election victory in 2014 is a great example of how to prepare and successfully execute a marketing and branding campaign. Modi’s image and in-your-face messaging overshadowed all other rivals, even within his own party. However, the volume is hesitant to discuss Modi’s authoritarian and communal campaign. One key BJP leader, Giriraj Singh, said that the critics of Modi had a “place in Pakistan and not in India.” Another religious zealot, Pravin Togadia, who is currently the president of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, said that Muslim households should be “evicted” from Hindu areas. The “communal peace” that has supposedly prevailed in Gujarat since the 2002 pogrom has been at a tremendous cost to the minorities. The volume does not focus on the radicalisation and polarisation of society, a weapon that has been used by the BJP to win these elections.

The comprehensive volume does not dissect Modi’s vision of economic development and his promotion of crony capitalism. Many states in India have a better growth rate than Gujarat, and as economists have pointed out the state’s human development indicators are weak. Moreover, Gujarat was declared the most polluted state in 2010. The book does not discuss the amount of money that was spent on Narendra Modi’s campaign, estimated to be more than Rs 5,000 crore. Finally, it does not speak against the rising tide of intolerance whipped up by Modi’s allies – the Hindu extremist groups who have forced books to be banned, intimidated journalists and threatened people for criticising their leaders. Despite these shortcomings, the book is a good read with lots of empirical and quantitative data for scholars and policymakers.