IAMC Weekly News Roundup - February 20th, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 20th, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Political storm erupts over Madhya Pradesh CM’s pic with ‘ISI man’ (Feb 13, 2017, Deccan Chronicle)

A picture purportedly showing one of the accused in the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-backed spy racket, busted in Madhya Pradesh on February 9, in the company of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday sparked a political storm in the state. Opposition Congress here expressed serious concern over the ISI suspect’s alleged link with several senior BJP leaders in MP including the Chief Minister.

In the picture, one of the members of the spy ring, Dhruv Saxena, was seen standing near Shivraj. It appears that the photograph was taken at a function. “Separate pictures showing Dhruv in company of the Chief Minister and also with BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargia have surfaced establishing his links to BJP. It is a matter of serious concern,” the Congress spokesman said.…

Anti-terrorist squad of MP on February nine busted the ISI-backed spy racket by arresting 11 people in four districts in the state. The racket used to facilitate their ISI handlers in Pakistan to contact officials in the Indian defence establishment through their parallel telephone exchanges by concealing their identities to extract military related information.



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Why India’s higher courts have ignored suo motu cognisance of mass crimes, including 2002 riots?: Teesta Setalvad (Feb 18, 2017, Counterview)

In her new book, “Foot Soldiers of the Constitution: A Memoir”, well-known human rights activist wonders as to why India’s High Courts and the Supreme Court, who are vested with a unique power of the suo motu jurisdiction, have failed to use it with any communal riots across the country. …

Recalling how under suo motu, the Courts have taken up matters and issues on their own, when they receive a letter of complaint and when they read a media report, Setalvad says, the power of the suo motu was used by the Supreme Court to “query the defacement of the mighty Himalayas”, yet, “When mass crimes against sections of our own population shook the core of the Indian republic, the power of suo motu has not been used.”

This is not just true of the the “2002 pogrom” in Gujarat, Setalvad says, but also “the widely-reported 1983 Nelli massacre, the extensively covered 1984 Delhi riots, the 1989 Hashimpura-Meerut killings (when the bodies of those shot dead were washed upon the shores of the Yamuna, near Delhi), and the 1992-93 Bombay riots”.… “It remains a shameful reminder of the depths to where we had fallen in 2002”, comments Setalvad…



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Narendra Modi, Amit Shah are terrorists spreading fear: Uttar Pradesh minister (Feb 20, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are terrorists who are trying to terrorise people in Uttar Pradesh, a Samajwadi Party minister has said, as campaigning in the state turned ugly halfway through the seven-phase assembly elections.

The comment by Rajendra Chowdhary came shortly after Modi accused the SP government of discrimination on the basis of religion. “They want to create an environment of fear. They are both terrorists – Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. They are creating terror in our democracy,” Chowdhary said.…

On Sunday, Modi drew a parallel between Hindu and Muslim festivals to accuse the Akhilesh Yadav administration of practising discrimination on the basis of religion. “If you create kabristaan (graveyard) in a village, then a shamshaan (cremation ground) should be created. If electricity is given uninterrupted in Ramzan, then it should be given in Diwali without a break. Bhedbhaav nahin hona chahiye (there should be no discrimination,” Modi told a rally in Fatehpur, apparently playing the Hindutva card in the politically crucial state.



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Meerut: BJP leader Kuldeep Tomar shoots his wife dead after argument (Feb 18, 2017, DNA India)

BJP leader Kuldeep Tomar has allegedly shot his wife after a heated argument. His wife, Poonam, was seriously injured and was taken to a hospital. According to News18, she died while being treated in the hospital on Friday. The leader is on the run and cops are searching for him.

The incident took place on Friday night after the couple had a fight following which Kuldeep shot Poonam with his licensed revolver at the back of her head. He tried to shoot himself too but was stopped by his nephew.

Poonam’s family is in Meerut and has lodged an FIR against Kuldeep. The police has sent the body to conduct autopsy.



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Ghaziabad fake encounter: Four UP cops convicted of murder (Feb 21, 2017, Hindustan Times)

More than 20 years after the Uttar Pradesh police claimed to have gunned down four criminals in an encounter in Bhojpur in November 1996, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ghaziabad on Monday held four cops guilty of murder, destruction of evidence and giving false evidence.

CBI’s Special Judge (anti corruption) Rajesh Chaudhary on Monday held the then station house officer Lal Singh, sub inspector Joginder Singh and two constables Surya Bhan and Subhash Chand as guilty for murder. The fifth accused Ranbir Singh died during the trial.…

Forensic investigations nailed the policemen’s lies.… All four victims killed during the alleged encounter hailed from poor families and had gone to Pilkhuwa in search of daily wage job on November 8, 1996. They were sitting at a tea stall outside the Bhojpur police station and were called by the police personnel inside the police station where they were tortured before being killed in a fake encounter at Machli Bazar area nearby.



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2005 Delhi blasts – College to jail: How cops stole 12 years of his youth (Feb 18, 2017, Times of India)

Mohammad Rafiq Shah was … picked up by officials of Delhi Police’s special cell and Special Task Force (STF) of Kashmir Police.Two days later – after allegedly subjecting him to torture and humiliation at an STF camp – they brought him to Delhi. His crime: he was alleged to have planted a bomb in a DTC bus in Govindpuri on October 29, 2005, which injured many people.

Twelve years later, when he walked free on Thursday – after additional sessions judge Reetesh Singh acquitted him of all charges – the police were facing serious questions of credibility and human rights violations. Rafiq’s claim that “he was made an accused to assuage the public perception that Delhi Police was incompetent to act against terrorism” and that “he was a vulnerable target… made a scapegoat” rang true. Police, it seems, deliberately ignored his alibi at every step to prove their case. They brushed aside his plea that it could be proved he was in his class on the day of the blast. It relied on dubious witness es who ended up contradicting themselves, exposed Rafiq to many people when he was in custody before a test identification parade (TIP) could be conducted and suppressed inconvenient facts.…

The ground had been laid in Srinagar where Rafiq -according to his reply during framing of charges on January 21, 2008 which was cited by the judge – was allegedly forced to drink urine, kept naked and sexually abused, all in order to perhaps break his spirit. He had also alleged that rats were put in his trousers and attempts made to hurt his religious sentiments.…



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Hindutva terror cases will be ‘made to collapse’ by government, says Chidambaram (Feb 18, 2017, Hindustan Times)

All terror cases involving right-wing Hindutva groups will be “made to collapse” in courts as the NDA government is using investigation agencies to advance its “political objective”, former home minister P Chidambaram has said.

His remarks came a fortnight after a Dewas court acquitted Sadhvi Pragya in Sunil Joshi murder case. Joshi was the alleged mastermind of what came to be known as “Hindu terror” that was linked to right-wing group Abhinav Bharat and some individuals associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The National Investigation Agency (NIA) dropped all charges against Pragya and 5 others in 2008 Malegaon blast case last year. Many witnesses have turned hostile in 2007 Ajmer Dargah and Samjhauta Express blasts cases.

Asked how the so-called Hindutva terror cases – transferred from states to the NIA during his tenure as union home minister – were falling apart, Chidambaram told HT: “It shows how the investigation agency is being used to advance their (the ruling party’s) political objective. How can witness after witness turn hostile? Is there not a single witness who will come and depose?”…



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US report exposes India’s mistreatment of minorities (Feb 19, 2017, Milli Gazette)

India fails to comply with international standards on freedom of religion leading to the discrimination and persecution of religious minorities, said a new report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The report, “Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India” said that, although the country’s Constitution guarantees equal rights to religious minorities, the government fails to comply with international standards.

It also enumerates India’s failure to ensure the rights of Dalit people, those from socially and economically poor castes, once considered untouchables.…



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India’s GDP projected to slow to 6.6% post-demonetisation: IMF (Feb 22, 2017, Hindustan Times)

India’s growth is projected to slow to 6.6% in 2016-17 fiscal due to the strains that have emerged in the economy as a result of “temporary disruptions” caused by demonetisation, the IMF said on Wednesday.

In its annual report, however, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said demonetisation would have only short term impact on the economy and it would bounce back to its expected growth of more than eight per cent in the next few years.

The post-November 8, 2016 cash shortages and payment disruptions caused by the currency exchange initiative have undermined consumption and business activity, posing a new challenge to sustaining the growth momentum, the IMF said in its annual country report on India.…



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‘Torture can NEVER be justified’: Amnesty International calls for Indian minister who ordered police to hang rape suspects upside down, beat them and rub chilli in their wounds to be investigated (Feb 19, 2017, First Post)

A cabinet minister who claimed to have ordered police to torture rape suspects should be investigated for human rights abuses, Amnesty International has said.

Uma Bharti, in charge of water resources, told supporters last week that she used to order rape suspects to be beaten in front of their victims and then have salt and chillies rubbed into their wounds while she was Madhya Pradesh chief minister.…

But London-based rights group Amnesty said her comments were dangerous and she should be prosecuted for violating basic human rights principles and Indian laws if she had in fact ordered such treatment. ‘Torture is always a crime, and is never justified. Politicians cannot decide that certain people do not have human rights,’ Aakar Patel, the head of Amnesty in India, said in a statement.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Modi is back to dirty trick by trying to divide Hindus and Muslims in UP – By Muqbil Ahmar (Feb 20, 2017, Dailyo.in)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a speech in Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh, on Sunday, said: “Ramzan me bijli aati hai, toh Diwali me bhi aani chahiye; bhedbhav nahi hona chahiye (when electricity is available on Ramzan, then its supply should be ensured during Diwali as well. There shouldn’t be any discrimination.” He added: “If there is a kabaristaan, there should be shamshaan too.”…

Moreover, Modi’s polarising remarks are not new. He has a history of doing that. Time and again, he and the BJP have tried to polarise important elections, particularly when the party feels it is on a sticky wicket. During the Bihar Assembly elections in 2015, Modi sought to pit the Dalits and backward classes against Bihar’s Muslims.…

The party has been notorious for such tactics… During the West Bengal Assembly elections, the BJP ran a highly virulent and divisive campaign. However, it backfired as the results showed. It was the same during the Bihar polls. This time, the BJP is playing the same card in Uttar Pradesh. Let’s see if it works in the party’s favour.



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No Prime Minister Has Stooped So Low in His Statements as Modi Has – By Om Thanvi (Feb 13, 2017, The Wire)

Outraged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘raincoat’ remark on Manmohan Singh, Congress MPs staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha last week. Their protest may have been a bit of an overreaction but the truth is that the jibe was in extremely poor taste. What Modi did, in essence, was to accuse the former prime minister – without providing any proof – of personal involvement in corruption.…

What drove Modi to make such an allegation? For one, he was desperate to strike back. In the last parliamentary session, Singh had spoken like the economist he is and delivered a rare, brief and relatively strong speech condemning demonetisation – a speech in which he used terms like “organised loot” and “plunder”. Singh’s vocabulary was not abusive or frivolous but it stung Modi – who is aspiring to be the Messiah of neo-liberal economics – where it mattered most.…

Still, the use of such low level language in parliament by a man holding the top-most position in the country indicates a deterioration not witnessed before. Never has a prime minister put on such a shocking display of language. Not even Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose rhetoric and dramatic gestures Modi and others in the BJP have strived to emulate.



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2005 Delhi blast: Shoddy probe is an insult to both victims and those acquitted – Editorial (Feb 17, 2017, Hindustan Times)

In the end, it would appear that justice has not be done to any of the people involved in the 11-year-long saga following the Delhi bomb blasts that killed 67 people. Two of the accused have been freed after spending more than a decade in jail. On the face of things, it beggars belief that the police investigative team could have got it so wrong and that too in such a high-profile case.

But a closer look at many such incidents, a similar one in Hyderabad for instance, shows that the errors in evidence gathering begin right from the start. The crime scene is almost always compromised due to the police being late to arrive or their inability to cordon it off even when they do. This is the first lapse. Very often we see that all sorts of hasty conclusions are reached and these are publicised with no thought to how this could affect a sensitive case.… The easy route is taken and people are picked up on flimsy grounds.…

To return to this case, there was, according to lawyers, evidence of wilful negligence or incompetence in arresting people with little proof. This has led not only to an erosion of faith in the criminal justice system, but also has traumatised Muslims who are most often picked up for terror crimes. In effect, these lapses lead to persons, who may well be innocent, losing several years of their lives and the victims of the outrage are left in pain and grief. Those wrongly accused can, of course, sue the State but the stigma rarely goes away. It affects their chances of education, employment, overseas travel and also reintegrating into society. It also leaves deep psychological scars from which many never recover.…



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The chessboard was ready; we were just pawns: Habeeb Hawa, acquitted from Ahmedabad blasts case – By Amit Kumar (Feb 16, 2017, Twocircles.net)

Until April 22, 2003, Habeeb Hawa’s life was no different from the thousands around him. A 29-year-old born and brought up in Ahmedabad, Hawa ran a business dealing with electrical wiring, and in his free time, he would help various social organisations. He had got married three years ago and both him and his wife were enrolled at IGNOU: Habeeb had his exams for graduation a few days later, while his wife was preparing for her M.Com final year.

And then, Hawa got a police call. His life was about to nosedive into a hell specially reserved for innocent Muslims in India: not that he knew it then. “The police called and said that I needed to file an ‘answer’ for a query they had. I was confused because I had no clue, but then I thought there is no harm in going to the police station. I had been working in the relief committee for post-Godhra riots, and I had spoken to the local police so I went again. I knew these people (the cops),” says Hawa in a conversation with Twocircles.net.

Except that when he reached the police station, he was a taken to another place which was unfamiliar. “There were about 50 Muslims detained in the place. When I spoke to the others, they too seemed clueless. One cop jokingly said, ‘The chessboard is in place, now we need to place the pawns in the right place.’ Also, every few hours one of us would be picked, beaten black and blue and he would never return,” Habeeb, now 43, says.…



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100 days of demonetisation: Bank queues, RBI flip-flops – here is how it all unfolded – By Kanishka Singh (Feb 17, 2017, Indian Express)

Hundred days have passed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government announced its demonetisation drive. The government invalidated legal tender of ₹500 and ₹1,000 and announced restrictions on ATM and bank withdrawals on November 8. Further announcements included introduction of new currency notes of ₹500 and ₹ 2,000 denomination.

Announcing the decision, PM Modi had asked for 50 days to bring the situation back to normal. At the end of 50 days on December 30, the RBI and the Centre had both come out with a combined 74 notifications, circulars, decisions and reviews or turnarounds of those decisions. By the end 100-day mark, the situation has stabilised by some measure, but the shock is still felt and will take some time to wither away.…

Many lost their lives standing in queues and farmers were forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices. Digital payment infrastructure crumbled with high demand and low preparation. Digital India was not there to support demonetisation blues. After demonetising 86 per cent of the currency on November 8, only 0.0006% was recovered as counterfeit. Although large amounts of money made its way into the banking system, citizens by and large suffered the brunt.…



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Mohan Bhagwat is confusing religion with nationality by saying all Indian Muslims are Hindus – By Bikram Vohra (Feb 9, 2017, First Post)

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has taken religion, nationality and rationale to a whole new level, and served it up as a khichdi of logic. There was absolutely no need to create even a sliver of controversy, or to confuse the country you hail from with the religion you practice. Yet, he chose to do just this.

The one nice thing he did say during his eight-day tour of Madhya Pradesh will get lost in the din over all the other statements designed to tee off anyone who is not Hindu, and also a lot who are and who would rather not spread their spiritual blanket with such abandon.

Oh yes, the good part: He called on people to rise above caste, religion and language, which in itself is worthy of applause, but if only the rest of his speech wasn’t all about Hinduism and antithetical to the first sentiment. Why, for a start, do Hindus need the Bhagwats to bat for them and turn it all into a verbal circus? There is no call for this propping up, of adding cardboard dimensions to a faith. But Bhagwat clearly believes so in some fashion, since he says all Muslims are Hindus by nationality, though it makes no sense. But the Indian majority will somehow feel joyous about it and discover great happiness from this incandescent revelation.…



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Book Review

Splintered Justice: Living the Horror of Mass Communal Violence in Bhagalpur and Gujarat

Author: Warisha Farasat and Prita Jha
Reviewed by: Mohammad Sajjad
Available at: Three Essays Collective, B-957 Palam Vihar, GURGAON (Haryana) 122 017 India. http://www.amazon.in/
‘Splintered Justice’ in the Aftermath of Communal Violence (Feb 15, 2017, The Wire)

Communal violence has been a blot on the Indian record since British rule, with inter-community rivalry extending to well before that. Post-independence, this issue has reached truly dangerous levels… Even in the studies of causation, the career-profiles and roles of the goons patronised by the politicians and officials have remained woefully under-explored. Similar omission persists about studying the communalisation of minorities.

Asghar Ali Engineer, Paul Brass, Steven Wilkinson and Ashutosh Varshney are among the best known names to have explored and published influential works on the theme. Of these scholars however, Brass has diligently argued against using the word ‘riot’ for such violence. He has argued that such violence is not spontaneous. Instead it is ‘organised’ and ‘structured’. Riots don’t ‘happen’, these are ‘produced’ by politicians in connivance with the administrative machinery – an aspect that Wilkinson has also expanded on in his Votes and Violence. Brass wrote that, “What are called Hindu-Muslim riots in India are, in fact, more like pogroms, and have …taken the form of genocidal massacres and local ethnic cleansing as well”.

What has remained less attended to is the aftermath of the violence and barbarity. What happened to the victims that survived? Enough has been said on incumbent regimes, through choice or not, failing to pre-empt and control the violence. What remains understudied is the criminal justice system after the carnage. How did the ‘secular’ regimes protect and promote the perpetrators in the long run? What happened to the security personnel who either looked away or joined in the perpetrators? How difficult and complicated did it become for the victims to claim and get compensations? How did the victims and the survivors of the deceased ones re-build their lives? These are the questions that have been probed in Warisha Farasat and Prita Jha’s Splintered Justice: Living the Horror of Mass Communal Violence in Bhagalpur and Gujarat. This melancholic story tells us how the Indian republic frequently fails to dispense justice.… It exposes the chilling fact that “the process to provide impunity to the accused begins immediately after the violence”.…



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