IAMC Weekly News Roundup - February 23rd, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 23rd, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

UK probes RSS-inspired charity for anti-Muslim comments (Feb 20, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Britain’s regulator of charity organisations has launched a statutory inquiry after an undercover investigation showed a teacher at a camp for children organised by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) making strong remarks against Christians and Muslims.

Ideologically inspired by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), HSS has been operating in Britain since 1966 as a charity organisation. Its structure, principles and activities are similar to those of the RSS. Its president is Dhiraj D Shah.

The investigation, telecast on ITV on Wednesday night, showed the teacher speaking at a ‘leadership camp’ in Herefordshire. Responding to questions, the teacher makes controversial remarks against Christians and Muslims. …



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Comment on religious tolerance by Indian leader sparks national debate (Feb 18, 2015, Washington Post)

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage this week at an event honoring Indian Catholic saints, he raised an issue that many – including some in the Obama administration – had long hoped he would take up: religious freedom. …

The reaction was widespread and impassioned in a country that has had its share of religion-fueled tensions: a history of bloodshed between the majority Hindus and the large Muslim minority and claims of persecution from smaller groups, including Christians.

Religious leaders of different faiths heralded Modi for his words. Better late than never, opposition leaders said of his remarks. But some in his own party – built on the foundation of Hindu nationalism – accused him of pandering to the secular crowd, tweeting their disapproval with the hashtag #secularmodi.…



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Stop Harassment of Activists: Police Target Group Seeking Justice for 2002 Gujarat Riots (Feb 21, 2015, Human Rights Watch)

Indian authorities should end politically motivated intimidation and harassment of human rights activists who have been pursuing justice for victims of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat state. While all nongovernmental organizations should fully adhere to financial regulations, police in Gujarat state appear to be acting to undermine the human rights work of the activists Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand. Setalvad is well known for her work in supporting the riot victims and for seeking criminal charges against scores of officials including Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged involvement in the riots as the state’s chief minister in 2002. …

Gujarat state officials have stalled efforts to investigate and prosecute riot cases, harassed and intimidated activists and lawyers involved, and in some instances obstructed justice, Human Rights Watch said. Following appeals by activists and victims’ families, the Supreme Court ordered re-investigations, oversaw independent inquiries in some cases, or shifted trials out of Gujarat to ensure that they would be fair. Thus far, over a 120 people have been convicted for their role in the riots, including a member of the Gujarat state cabinet.

In 2012 a Supreme Court-ordered investigation decided that there was not enough evidence to prove Modi’s direct complicity. However, an amicus curiae – friend of the court – appointed by the court to monitor the process concluded instead that Modi’s role should be investigated further on several counts. Referring to a key witness whose testimony was dismissed by the investigation team, the amicus curiae noted that “the stage for believing or disbelieving a witness arises after trial i.e. once the entire evidence is placed before the court for its consideration.”…



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Pansare’s death a reflection of divisive communal forces, say Left parties (Feb 22, 2015, First Post)

Seething over the murderous attack on veteran CPI leader Govind Pansare, Left parties on Saturday said that the incident was a reflection of the growing intolerance of divisive communal forces to freedom of expression and called for such “inhuman and anti-democratic moves” to be defeated.

Strongly condemning the attack on the prominent anti-toll tax protester, who succumbed to his injuries in Mumbai on Friday night, six Left parties also charged that the Maharashtra government’s failure to arrest the culprits reflected “utter inaction”.

“The lethal attack on Comrades Govind Pansare and Uma Pansare reflects the growing intolerance of the divisive communal forces against freedom of expression.”…



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Himayat Baig was attacked in prison, says father (Feb 23, 2015, Times of India)

Mirza Inayat Baig, the father of German Bakery blast convict Mirza Himayat Baig, on Sunday submitted an application with the Yerawada police station, alleging that his son was assaulted by some inmates inside the Yerawada prison on February 19.…

Mirza Baig demanded medical assistance for his “injured” son and a “detailed inquiry” into the incident. Himayat Baig made the allegation in a letter written to city-based activist Anjum Inamdar. Based on these allegations, his father, Inayat Baig, filed the complaint with the Yerawada police.

The Yerawada jail authorities, however, denied the charge that such an incident happened inside the jail. “Himayat Baig has been lodged in the high security ‘Anda cell’ of the prison. He was not assaulted in the prison,” said Yogesh Desai, superintendent of the Yerawada central prison.…



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Muslim group demands SIT probe into 1992 Ayodhya riots after Babri demolition (Feb 18, 2015, First Post)

A Muslim group has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the 1992 Ayodhya riots post Babri mosque demolition. The demand has come after Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government announced an additional compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The group asked the state government to institute an SIT probe claiming that riot, which took place after demolition of Babri mosque on 6 December and continued till 7 December in which over two dozen people were killed allegedly by activists of Vihswa Hindu Parishad, was “never investigated, no arrests were made and no charge sheet was filed.”

“We are not demanding any compensation for the victims of Ayodhya massacre. We are demanding state government to set up an SIT to probe the massacre which was never investigated, no arrests were made, no warrants issued against anyone, and police never filed charge sheet against anyone,” senior Jamiat Ulama Hind leader, Captain Afzaal Ahmad Khan told PTI. “We are demanding justice, so the world would know who killed innocent people in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, in which the police had submitted final report within a month of the riots,” Khan said.…



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Government urged to allow Muslim organisations to run college in Mumbai (Feb 16, 2015, IBN)

Agitated over media reports that the Maharashtra government plans to set up a National Law University in the 65-acre campus of Ismail Yusuf College in suburban Jogeshwari, several NGOs demanded in Mumbai on Monday that the college be handed over to Muslim educational organisations.

The administration of the college should be handed over to Muslim organisations, former MLA and ex-MHADA Chairman Yusuf Abrahani who also happens to be a founder of Social Education and Welfare Association (SEVA) said at a press conference in Mumbai.

He said that the sprawling land of the Ismail Yusuf College, which is now being run by the government, was donated by a Muslim philanthropist Sir Mohammed Yusuf Ismail way back in 1930 for education of Muslim youth.…



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Ishrat Jahan case: CBI needs to answer why it has made such a hash of this sensitive case (Feb 20, 2015, Economic Times)

Gujarat cadre IPS officer NK Amin seems to be the odd man out. Among the Gujarat police officers accused of fake encounters in the state in 2004 and 2005, he is the only one still behind bars. Those senior to him in rank, DG Vanzara, PP Pandey and Abhay Chudasama, and all his juniors are now out on bail.

Behind the change of fortunes for the policemen who have been bailed out is the apparent mishandling of the highly sensitive Ishrat Jahan encounter case by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Sample this: CBI named 20 Gujarat police officials in its first information report (FIR) in the case. Ultimately, it charged only seven of them. As many as 10 others became CBI witnesses – and five of them even deposed before a magistrate against their seven charged counterparts.

What is more perplexing is that the CBI charge sheet says 14 of the 20 policemen named in the FIR were actually present at the “fake encounter spot”, indicating they were part of the commission of the offence. …



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Oil ministry leaks: Police say national security taken for a ride (Feb 21, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Documents recovered from the five corporate executives arrested for their alleged roles in the petroleum ministry leaks case are related to “national security aspect”, and charges under the Official Secrets Act 1923 might also be invoked in the matter, the Delhi Police said before a court in New Delhi on Saturday.

Prosecution under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) will be more stringent than it would have been under the penal code sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) that were invoked initially.

The crime branch of Delhi Police produced the five accused before a magistrate and was given three days to interrogate them. “National interest was taken for a ride in the case. Documents related to national security have also been recovered. This may attract charges under the official secrets act,” the police told the court while seeking five days for custodial interrogation.…



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Krishnagiri Rape: Brinda Karat Writes to TN DGP, Seeks Action against SP (Feb 22, 2015, Peoples Democracy)

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat has written to Tamil Nadu DGP Ashok Kumar, expressing her outrage over the role of police in trying to cover up the gang rape of a hearing and speech impaired girl in Krishnagiri district.

In her letter on February 14, Karat wrote, “I had met you (the DGP) on January 30 in connection with the gang rape of a 16-year-old hearing and speech impaired girl of Krishnagiri district. I am writing to you about the same case with a sense of outrage and deep concern because the Krishnagiri police continue to sabotage the processes of justice… In my many years of experience of dealing with police culpability in cases of cover up in sexual assault cases, this example is the most shocking, more so since it involves a disabled girl.” .…

“When I had met you on January 30 about the police role in the case, along with a delegation of the Tamil Nadu Association of the Differently Abled and the AIDWA, you had assured us that you would personally look into the matter and see that justice is done. Regretfully lack of action against the police officials involved has emboldened them… It is the SP of the district who must be held responsible and accountable,” she said.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Modi, Ever the RSS Pracharak – By Mani Shankar Aiyar (Feb 23, 2015, NDTV)

…After eight months of maun vrata over issues of religious tension, Narendra Modi has now disclosed that his “government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith” and “will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly”.

Excellent – except that this is what he should have said – and done – at the Shah Alam refugee camp in Ahmedabad in 2002 when an anti-Muslim pogrom was taking place under his watch. There was neither a word of sympathy then, nor any action to establish that his Government was with the victims, not the perpetrators.

Indeed, it was not until he was compelled to accompany Prime Minister Vajpayee to the Shah Alam camp a full month later that he even made his first visit to the camp. And when, finally, a word of sympathy came from him a decade or so later, it was to compare the murdered, injured and looted Muslims to a puppy dog accidently coming under the wheels of a car.…



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Will the real Modi stand up? – LK Sharma (Feb 20, 2015, Opendemocracy.net)

As a side-effect of democracy, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is plunged in introspection and perhaps thinking of course correction. He has been forced to do this in less than a year of assuming power because of his party’s crushing defeat in Delhi’s provincial elections. … The Delhi debacle has left Modi wondering what the voters had voted him in for. His secular devotees are asking him to be the Modi that they voted in. They want him to damn the extremist fringe in his extended political family that incites religious hatred. …

Some dynamic leaders in a democracy have transformed their respective parties by convincing the members that they alone can deliver electoral victories. … Tony Blair sailed through this exercise, leaving the hardcore traditional party loyalists fuming by the wayside. Modi has much less leverage than Blair in playing with the core beliefs of his party. Blair’s own ideological conversion gave him the strength to lead his Labour Party in a different direction. Modi has shown no such flexibility or change of heart, despite his being a pragmatist.

Moreover, a self-declared Hindu nationalist party is rooted in religious sensitivities, not in western ideologies that can be dumped at will. Street battles against “the other” or against an insult to a religion tend to be more violent than protests against nuclear arms or the WTO. A Hindu nationalist party cannot be transformed into an umbrella organisation with a mere slogan of “development for all”. It becomes more difficult if the leader lacks credibility among the minorities.…



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In Challenging Modi, Indian Activists Risk a Legal Backlash – By Manu Joseph (Feb 18, 2015, New York Times)

…On Tuesday, Mr. Modi gave a speech condemning religious violence of any kind. Yet many Indian activists and others see the prime minister, whose political origins are in nationalist Hindu organizations, as the archvillain in the 2002 rioting that claimed hundreds of lives, mostly Muslim, in the state of Gujarat, where Mr. Modi was the chief minister. In the years since, as Mr. Modi’s popularity has soared, two activists, Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand, have been dogged in their efforts to bring him to trial, particularly in one case.

During the 2002 riots, scores of Muslims in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, took refuge in the home of Ehsan Jafri, a former member of Parliament. As Hindu mobs surrounded his house, Mr. Jafri called several powerful politicians for help. Some people claim that he called Mr. Modi, too, which would have been a natural thing for a senior politician to do under the circumstances, but there is no evidence to support this. In any case, no substantial help arrived, and more than 60 people were slaughtered, including Mr. Jafri, who was hacked to pieces and burned. Mr Modi, who was within a few miles of Mr. Jafri’s house that day, said he did not learn of the incident until many hours later.

For years, Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Anand have been using the resolve of Mr. Jafri’s widow to pursue charges against Mr. Modi. They accuse him of facilitating violence against Muslims, a grave accusation that Indian courts have dismissed as unsupported by evidence. Now it is not Mr. Modi but the activists themselves who face the possibility of prison. They could be arrested as soon as this week on charges of misappropriating money donated to help survivors of the Gujarat riots.…



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Religious intolerance and NDA policies – By Tariq Hasan (Feb 19, 2015, Twocircles.net)

…The act of removal of words ‘Secular’ and ‘Socialist’ from the Preamble to the country’s Constitution – in an advertisement – from an influential section of the BJP-led NDA is also a pointer to the prevailing state of affairs. …

Despite words of caution from well-meaning sections of the Indian society, the present NDA government seems to have also embarked on a hazardous path to tinker with the country’s national education policy. The ongoing attempts for meddling on the sensitive issue of historiography of the country are far too serious an issue to be ignored by the academia. …

Thus underprivileged sections of society, including minorities, are getting more apprehensive regarding their future in a polarised India. And we all know that the BJP won the 2014 election promising inclusive development. Shall we assume that it was just a pretext to grab power?



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Inside Story Of Modi’s Suit Sale – By R.K. Misra (Feb 24, 2015, Outlook)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pacesetter pinstripe suit may have fetched palpitation-inducing Rs 4.31crore – and it might help cleanse the sinfully polluted River Ganges, as is projected. But, those who watched the exercise undertaken to the drumbeats and cymbal sounds over three days in Surat – the commercial capital of Gujarat – know for sure it was a fixed match. …

The coming events were being talked about in media persons’ ‘whatsApp’ groups in Gujarat much in advance. That a Rs 5-crore target had been fixed in deference to instructions ‘from above’ was known. Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar carried a pictorial report by its Surat correspondent showing undated but signed cheques with amounts filled in, collected in advance by district administration officials. …

The correctives have become necessary after the Delhi debacle. This one is seen by some as an attempt at neutralizing the overly corporate-friendly image the Modi government has vis-a-vis the Ambanis, the Adanis and the like. The two action-packed events had media riveted, taking the spotlight away from other, pressing issues.



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The Rot in Maharashtra: Attack on Comrade Govind Pansare – By Maya Pandit (Feb 14, 2015, EPW)

Comrade Govind Pansare, along with his wife Uma Pansare, was shot at close range at 9.30 in the morning on 16 February 2015, in front of his house when he was returning from his morning walk. A bullet went through the soft tissues of his neck, another through his armpit, past the lungs and a third injured his knee. His wife also sustained severe injuries in her skull. …

Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in a similar way in Pune in the early hours of morning, while he was going for his morning walk. The police have had no clue of the murder so far, leave alone nabbing the culprits. The state of utter lawlessness and anarchy that prevails in Maharashtra has come to the fore once again.

The attack shows that violence against secular and democratic people who fight for justice of workers, minorities, women and other marginalised groups have risen under the present dispensation. It appears that the conscience keepers of the public are being silenced so that a reign of terror can be unleashed to drown their voices once for all and crush any challenge to the authoritarian regimes.…



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