IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 24th, 2014
In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- Modi failed to announce relief for Gujarat Sikhs: Partap Singh Bajwa
- Naroda Patiya massacre case: SC dismisses Maya Kodnani’s bail application
- NHRC seeks report on man’s custodial death in Odisha
- 26/11 call record issue may suffer under Maria: Martyr’s wife
- ‘Baig clean chit puts question mark on ATS’
- Demand for repeal of UAPA gains momentum
- Cops again fail to arrest Muzaffarnagar riot-accused
- All India Sikh Conference seeks action against police officers posted in Delhi during anti Sikh riots
- Madurai police in trouble for defying high court order in dowry case
- Police delay action against stalker, minor dalit girl commits suicide
Opinions & Editorials
- RSS faces a different Modi wave – By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay
- Here’s how you could stop the next communal riots – By Harsh Mander
- Law for bad behaviour – By Martha C. Nussbaum
- Misconceptions about Hyderabad state and Nizam – By Kaneez Fathima
- Democracy in peril – Editorial
- Justice For Kiran – By Nupur Sonar
- India: Social Development Report 2012: Minorities at the Margins – By Mushirul Hasan and Zoya Hasan, Eds.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa president on Sunday ridiculed the speech made by Narendra Modi at Jagraon rally, stating that Modi failed to address the problem of Sikh farmers of Gujarat who were facing displacement from their land.
Bajwa said that Sikh farmers living in Gujarat and people of Punjab had high hopes that Modi during his Punjab visit would make some announcement to withdraw Special Leave Petition (SLP) which the Modi government had filed in the Supreme Court against stay granted by Gujarat high court to Sikh farmers. He said that Modi made a political statement that every Gujarati and every Indian has the same right over Gujarat. He said that though he had made a reference to protect the interest of Sikh farmers, he had not made any commitment to withdraw the SLP.
Bajwa said that it was shameful that chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was not able to convince Modi to withdraw SLP from the Supreme Court. He said that Gujarat government had ordered Sikh farmers to ‘get out’ of Gujarat and their land holdings were frozen. The Gujarat high court had given relief to farmers and stayed the orders of Kutch district magistrate. He said that Modi government had challenged the high court decision in the apex court. He said that unless the SLP was withdrawn, all talk on protecting Sikh farmers was meaningless.
- Narendra Modi brushes off massacre stain to target election as Indian PM (Feb 23, 2014, The Telegraph)
- Disappointing that Modi has not apologised for riots: FM (Feb 18, 2014, Indian Express)
- Sharad Pawar slams Modi for Gujarat riots (Feb 22, 2014, IBN)
- AAP questions Modi over Pandya killing (Feb 20, 2014, Times of India)
Naroda Patiya massacre case: SC dismisses Maya Kodnani’s bail application (Feb 24, 2014, Indian Express)
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition by former Gujarat minister and a convict in 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case Maya Kodnani for extension of interim bail on medical grounds and asked her to approach the High Court. Kodnani had filed the petition challenging the February 8 order of the Gujarat High Court declining to extend her three-month temporary bail granted on medical grounds in November last. She had sought extension of bail by 180 days.
The trial court had in August 2012 awarded life imprisonment to Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 others for Naroda Patiya incident. Last week the apex court had extended by one more week the interim bail of Kodnani and directed her to place a medical report on her burn injuries. A Bench led by Justice H L Dattu had granted Kodnani the final opportunity to adduce a certificate by a recognised medical practitioner, specifying the kind of injuries she suffered.
Displeased with Kodnani’s failure to produce the certificate despite adjourning the case twice earlier, the Bench had said that the photographs of her injuries failed to satisfy the court over the nature of injuries and she would hence have to file a proper medical report.
- SC Not Satisfied With Kodnani’s Medical Report (Feb 17, 2014, New Indian Express)
- 2002 Gulbarg Society riot case: special prosecutor quits (Feb 20, 2014, Business Standard)
- Never got secular parties’ support in anti-Modi fight: Ex-DGP (Feb 24, 2014, Deccan Herald)
- Guj HC adjourns hearing on legality of ‘snooping’ commission (Feb 21, 2014, Business Standard)
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a report from the Odisha government on the death of a man allegedly in police custody, a petitioner said Tuesday.
Acting on a complaint lodged by human rights activist Akhand, the commission directed the secretary of the state home department to submit within four weeks the report of the district magistrate who also investigated the matter.
According to Akhand, the 30-year-old Hemant Nayak, a resident of Bhuinpur village in Khordha district, was picked up by police along with three others May 3, 2013, in connection with the case of a girl’s harassment.
But Nayak’s mutilated body was found hanging from a banyan tree in Badaberana, a nearby village, two days later, while the other three returned home. Nayak’s family and the villagers alleged that he was tortured and killed in police custody.
“I had sought an independent inquiry into the matter and registration of complaint against the local police. Besides, I had sought a compensation of Rs.10 lakh to the family of the deceased as he was the only earning member in the family,” said Akhand.
- 4 policemen suspended for custodial death (Feb 18, 2014, The Hindu)
- Magistrate begins probe in custodial death of thief (Feb 19, 2014, Times of India)
- Custodial death: family came to know through media reports (Feb 19, 2014, The Hindu)
- Custody Victim Faced 11 Cases, Detained under Goondas Act (Feb 18, 2014, New Indian Express)
The widow of IPS officer Ashok Kamte, killed in 26/11 terror attack, today apprehended the matter surrounding the “discrepancies” in crucial call records of the 59-hours siege in 2008 provided to her would be put on the backburner under the watch of new Mumbai police chief. Rakesh Maria, who as Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) led the probe into the terror strike, took over as Police Commissioner yesterday.
The call logs were of wireless conversations between the Mumbai Police control room and Kamte’s van on the day of his death. Under the RTI, Vinita Kamte had sought information on the call records of the police control room on November 26, 2008 attacks. However, she had claimed to have found “serious discrepancies” in the information given to her in November 2009 and February 2010.
“I wrote to Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad, appealing to him to order a probe into the issue of providing false information to me by the Government,” Vinita told PTI. Gaikwad then dashed off a letter to Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Amitabh Rajan asking him why a probe should not be ordered to find out how and why serious discrepancies crept in the information provided to Vinita.
“Rajan is yet to respond to Gaikwad’s letter. I suspect Maria might intervene into the matter as he himself was in the control room during the terror attack,” she said. Vinita has accused Maria of not telling her who sent her husband towards Cama Hospital where he was killed by terrorists even though Maria was in charge of the main Police Control Room during the first few hours of 26/11. The comments are contained in ‘To The Last Bullet’, a book co-authored by Vinita that released in 2009.
In the book, she has blamed Maria for not sending reinforcements when asked for, appearing to give wrong information about the shootout involving three officers, including Kamte and Lashkar-e-Toiba attackers, and also not helping them get medical assistance after they had been shot. Following the allegations, Maria had reportedly threatened to resign.
- Muslim group demands dismissal of Rakesh Maria (Feb 21, 2014, Muslim Mirror)
- Tamil Nadu cop who spilled the beans on IPL probe faces arrest (Feb 15, 2014, Times of India)
- Row over Mumbai’s new police commissioner heats up: Two senior cops go on protest leave (Feb 17, 2014, NDTV)
- Man kills self as police don’t file ‘assault’ FIR against cops (Feb 19, 2014, Times of India)
Supreme Court (SC) lawyer Mehmood Pracha, who is the counsel for German Bakery blast accused Mirza Himayat Baig, on Sunday raised major questions over the integrity and work ethics of the State Anti Terrorism Squad’s (ATS) and its former chief and current Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria and claimed his client was ‘framed.’
Baig has been given a clean chit by the Delhi Special Cell, the Central Crime Branch in Bangalore, and most recently (on February 20), the National Investigative Agency (NIA). Pracha, who held a press conference in the city on Sunday, informed that next week, he will be filing a petition against Maria at the NIA court in Delhi, for creating false evidence, destruction of evidence and abetting terror by arresting people not proven guilty, and the murder of another blast accused Qateel Siddique. An application has also been filed in the Bombay High Court for Baig’s discharge.
Pracha said, “Baig has been given a clean chit from three investigative agencies, but the Maharashtra ATS framed him in 2010, which puts a huge question mark over the ATS.” Elaborating on ATS’ modus operandi under Maria’s leadership, Pracha said, “Whenever terror attacks take place, they create their own story and make arbitrary arrests. Then they lure the arrested into becoming approvers. Even the defence council is there in name only – they work against their clients and an in-camera trials are held where the press is not allowed.”
Pracha added, “The Delhi Special Cell and Maharashtra ATS are forever in a race to arrest terror accused, because of which they end up arresting innocent people. When the Special Cell declared that Yasin Bhatkal and Siddique had roles in the GB blast, the ATS promptly filed an FIR against Siddique for planning a blast at the Dagdusheth Halwai temple and got him transferred from Tihar Jail to Yerwada Central Prison where he was murdered.”
“Siddique’s murder was planned because he could have made more revelations to prove Baig’s innocence, but his death temporarily closed the chapter. Now, Bhatkal’s confession that Baig was not involved in the blast has brought ATS under the scanner again,” Pracha said. …
- NIA clean chit to Pune blasts convict (Feb 21, 2014, Times of India)
- Maria, state govt framed Baig in Pune bakery blast case: Lawyer (Feb 24, 2014, Mid Day)
- GB blast convict Baig is innocent, says former CIC (Feb 23, 2014, Times of India)
- NIA clean-chit to Himayat Baig: Jamiat hopeful of his release (Feb 24, 2014, Twocircles.net)
Stating that the amended version of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has become a tool to falsely implicate innocent persons, community leaders, activists and lawyers on Friday decided to launch a nationwide campaign for its repeal. They also decided to organize a public gathering -“People’s Conference against UAPA” will be held for the same in New Delhi on March 5.
To coordinate and monitor the activities, a joint platform -‘People’s Movement against UAPA’ was also announced. Moulana Muhammad Wali Rahmani will be the chairman of the core committee while Kamal Faruqui and Muhammad Shafi will be the convener and joint convener, respectively.
About 50 activists and leaders took part in the discussion. They said after the POTA and TADA were revoked, the amended version of UAPA became a new tool to falsely implicate innocents. The convener Kamal Faruqui said people were being victimised by the misuse of UAPA across the country. …
- Activists protest ‘draconian’ UAPA (Feb 22, 2014, Pune Mirror)
- Massive rally in Manipur to demand removal of AFSPA (Feb 20, 2014, The Hindu)
- Samjhauta blasts: 7 yrs after, 19 dead bodies still unidentified (Feb 17, 2014, Times of India)
- Civil Society groups build platform to fight against ‘fascist forces’ (Feb 22, 2014, Twocircles.net)
Hundreds of women, carrying batons and sticks, foiled a police bid to arrest gang rape accused at Fugana village in the riot-torn Muzaffarnagar district and the cops had to return empty handed. Security personnel from several police stations led by senior officials raided Fugana village on Thursday to arrest a gang-rape accused, who had been absconding.
The village had experienced large scale communal violence in September last year. The news of the police raid spread like wild fire and within moments, hundreds of baton-wielding women surrounded the cops from all sides. The villagers warned the police of serious consequences if they tried to arrest the accused. Finding themselves outnumbered, the cops left the village without arresting the accused.
Similar fate awaited the cops when they went to the Lank village also. The villagers confronted the police there too and forced it to beat a hasty retreat. The police also failed to arrest any accused person from the nearby Mohammedpur Raisingh village owing to stiff resistance by the locals, the reports said. The powerful khap panchayats have warned the UP government against what they alleged “indiscriminate” arrests of a section of the community by the cops in connection with the last year’s communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and have demanded a CBI investigation into the same.
Members of several khaps held a mahapanchayat (meeting) in the district on Thursday to discuss their strategy to protest the alleged ‘indiscriminate’ arrests of jat youths on charges of inciting violence and involvement in the riots. The khap leaders made it clear that they would not allow arrest of any youth of the community ‘come what may’ and would oppose their ‘persecution’ in a ‘peaceful manner’.
“Cases have been registered against 7,000 people in different police stations in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in connection with the riots… while a large number of cases are against unidentified people, as many as 4,000 people had been named in the cases,” they alleged. A few days back, the villagers had fought with the cops, when they tried to arrest a youth in connection with a case of arson, which injured many.…
- Muzaffarnagar riots: 84 police teams to nab 244 absconding riots accused (Feb 23, 2014, Indian Express)
- Over 12,000 riot victims yet to return to their villages (Feb 17, 2014, Times of India)
- Muzaffarnagar riots: FIR filed after gangrape victim approaches government (Feb 20, 2014, IBN)
- RTI queries on Muzaffarnagar riots draw a blank (Feb 24, 2014, Times of India)
All India Sikh Conference seeks action against police officers posted in Delhi during anti Sikh riots (Feb 20, 2014, Times of India)
All India Sikh Conference (AISC) held a demonstration against November 1984 anti Sikh riots outside police headquarters in Delhi on Thursday demanding to take stern action against those police officers who didn’t perform their duties during the 1984 anti Sikh riots and instead illegally disposed of thousand of bodies of Sikhs in an inhumane way. AISC burnt effigies of former chief justice of India, Ranganath Mishra and former police commissioner of Delhi Subhas Tandon.
AISC president GS Babbar told TOI on Thursday that they had earlier released a list of police personals of all ranks posted in different police stations of Delhi during November 1984 anti Sikh riots . The AISC has also blamed those officials for their inaction and have demanded their arrest and investigation into their role. AISC president informed that they had also submitted a memorandum to Delhi police commissioner BS Bassi stating that “It was the legal obligation of the Delhi Police to take these dead bodies in their custody, and they did fulfill it.
However, Delhi Police ‘neither’ lodged an FIR, ‘nor’ did they make a note of it in their diary, did photograph the dead bodies, conducted a post-mortem on the dead bodies, wrote the post-mortem report, issued appeal for witnesses to the killings, informed the kin of victims through a pubic notice, handed over the dead bodies to an heir. Taking a dig at the Centeral government, Babbar said that the Central government had allegedly conspired against the Sikh in a planned manner and told the Sikh people again and again that investigating committees were doing their job well and they would definitely get justice.
“This job of investigating committees lasted for 26 years and total 18 investigating committees were set up one by one in this long period. Unfortunately, it proved to be mere deception, a criminal conspiracy” he said. The AISC has urged Bassi to take immediate legal action against all the then senior officers – ACP, DCP, Joint Commissioner and Commissioner of Police including the SHOs and other officers posted in all police stations of Delhi.
“Besides, we have also demanded that on the basis of the given facts, let a strict action be taken against the topmost police officers and political leaders who made the police force do this heinous crime” said Babbar.
- Jagdish Tytler told to appear before court in anti-Sikh riots case (Feb 19, 2014, DNA India)
- Anti-Sikh riot victims protest land grab (Feb 24, 2014, Times of India)
- Sikh group opposes motion seeking dismissal of 1984 riots suit (Feb 18, 2014, Business Standard)
- US Sikh group challenges Congress party plea (Feb 18, 2014, Times of India)
City police authorities, including two personnel from an all-women police station (AWPS), have been asked to appear before the Madurai bench of the Madurai high court for defying a court order in a dowry case. Apart from city police commissioner Sanjay Mathur, police inspector Hema Mala and sub-inspector Geetha Ramani of the AWPS have to explain why they wilfully disobeyed an HC order and illegally arrested a 30-year-old software engineer, S Arjun, working in the US when he returned to the country.
Arjun’s wife C Shailaja had lodged a dowry complaint against him and his parents before the AWPS, Madurai. To avoid arrest Arjun had filed a petition at the bench seeking anticipatory bail. The court granted him interim bail on September 12, 2013 and directed him to appear before the judicial magistrate court (JMC), Madurai, within 15 days. He again moved a plea at the bench seeking extension of time required to appear before the court as he was working abroad. On February 7, the HC, which granted this plea too, gave him two weeks time to appear before the JMC.
However, on February 9, Bangalore airport authorities arrested Arjun on the basis of a look-out notice issued by police and handed him over to the AWPS. Though, he informed the police here about the latest court order, inspector Hema and SI Geetha produced Arjun at the mahila court. He was released on bail after Arjun’s counsel told the judge about the HC order.
The HC directive of Thursday comes on a notice filed by Arjun stating that the police arrested him after wilfully neglecting the court order. He also apprised the HC bench that the personnel of AWPS did not submit his original passport at the JMC. In his petition, he termed the police action as contempt of court and hence called for punishing the personnel involved. Following it, the judge ordered to issue statutory notice to the city police commissioner and concerned inspector and sub-inspector and adjourned the case by two weeks. Counsel Babu Rajendran represented Arjun during the hearing on Thursday.
- Andhra Pradesh tops list of dowry cases in 2012 (Feb 21, 2014, Hindustan Times)
- IAS aspirant demands arrest of Tamil Nadu cop for demanding dowry (Feb 20, 2014, Times of India)
- Two held for dowry harassment in Tirupur (Feb 22, 2014, The Hindu)
- Girl walks out of marriage against dowry; gets groom, kin nabbed (Feb 21, 2014, Times of India)
Police delay action against stalker, minor dalit girl commits suicide (Feb 25, 2014, Times of India)
Upset over police inaction into her complaint of being stalked by an upper caste man, a minor dalit girl committed suicide at her house in Sisar village of Meham sub-division in Rohtak on Sunday night. The victim, a student of class X, was alone at home when she consumed poison. The girl’s family members rushed her to PGIMS, Rohtak, where she was declared dead.
The accused, identified as Naresh, has been arrested after a case was registered against him at Meham police station. Naresh, who lived near the victim’s house, has been charged under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of IPC and various sections of Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act.
Police acted against Naresh only after the victim’s family refused to accept her body and added suicide abetment charge only after they refused to cremate her body, lying at PGIMS morgue after autopsy. Rohtak range inspector general (IG) of police, A K Rao, said district superintendent of police (SP) Rajesh Duggal was probing the allegations of inaction levelled against two policemen – Mahavir and Dharampal Singh.
The victim belonged to a poor family and was a student of a government senior secondary school. She was allegedly stalked by Naresh, who belonged to an influential family of the village, in September 2013. Her family members said they had initially taken up the case of her harassment with the village sarpanch and approached the police much later. They had even raised the matter with the state women’s commission, after they failed to get justice even after meeting the Rohtak SP at his office.
“The youth, instead, started stalking her more frequently and she finally took the extreme step of taking her own life. She didn’t want to see her mother and brother suffer because of her,” said Ram Parkash, a close relative of the victim.
- UP principal beaten, locked up in room for hiring Dalit cook (Feb 20, 2014, India Today)
- Dalit groom beaten for riding buggy (Feb 24, 2014, Times of India)
- Dalit groom forced off his palanquin (Feb 24, 2014, Deccan Herald)
- Dalit woman alleges social boycott in Bajpe village (Feb 23, 2014, Times of India)
Opinions and Editorials
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is among various organisations whose futures will be decided in the looming parliamentary elections despite it never contesting elections. In October this year, the RSS will enter the ninetieth year of its existence and this watershed year in its existence comes when the RSS has to take vital decisions regarding reorienting strategy to retain influence in Indian politics. …
Currently, the most intriguing relationship within the fraternity involves Modi and the RSS top brass. This association is completely based on mutual dependence. Despite differences with Modi’s style of working and his disdain for hierarchy within the RSS, its leaders made temporary peace because he provides the best opportunity for the RSS’ political agenda to stage a comeback.
For his part, Modi continues working within the mainframe of the RSS fraternity because he requires the RSS cadre, since the parallel set-up he developed has the capacity to only manage a campaign. The foot soldiers are missing and that is why he accepts the RSS, though its leaders at times breathe down his neck overpoweringly.
The RSS finally gave the go-ahead to the BJP in the summer of last year to anoint Modi as chief of campaign committee and later as official prime ministerial candidate. But the decision was carefully considered and the announcement made only after the assessment that Modi not only had a huge support within the organisation, but his winnability was also the highest among all rivals within the party. …
The basic crisis for the RSS stems from its inability to update ideology with changing times and evolve organisationally. It is no coincidence that when it battles political marginalisation, it is faced with allegations of promoting the euphemistic Hindu terror. Like in the Gandhi assassination case, the RSS repeatedly failed to control fringe elements. This gives rise to accusations that the leadership has always been in the know – be it the 1948 assassination, the demolition of the Babri Masjid or the Samjhauta Express blasts. …
- Devil is in the Detail – By G Mamatha (Feb 16, 2014, Peoples Democracy)
- Conspiracy of silence after Aseemanand’s damning disclosure – By Shemin Joy (Feb 18, 2014, Deccan Herald)
- Sudden generosity – By Lyla Bavadam (Feb 21, 2014, Frontline)
When working-class Muslim men and women in many parts of India recount to me their family histories, its markers always are successive riots – in which neighbours turn killers, loved ones are murdered, girls and women savaged, and homes built over lifetimes looted and burned down. They live life between these storms: interludes of suffering, healing, struggle and rebuilding. But these are also periods of waiting, of helplessly preparing oneself for the inevitable next riot. They never speak of what will happen if another riot rages. Instead it is always of what devastation will occur when the next riot will scorch their lives. Their certainty that riots will continue, almost in the natural order of their world, just as do floods, tempests and earthquakes, breaks my heart.
Sometimes laws if crafted with courage, wisdom and compassion carry the potential to change the destinies of a people. One such law – if we get it right – is the communal violence law, which could contribute to ending these periodic cycles of brutal mass violence that target people only because of their religious faith. It is therefore extremely tragic that the ruling government introduced its revised draft of the Bill with such unconscionably clumsy lack of preparation and conviction; and that the entire political opposition from the Left to the BJP joined hands to prevent even its introduction in the Rajya Sabha, without debating its provisions. Unless corrected, this will remain a shameful and painful betrayal of India’s vulnerable people and its secular foundations by the entire political class.
There can indeed be legitimate debates about specific provisions of this complex and sensitive legislation, but not about its objectives of preventing communal violence and ensuring reparation and justice to survivors. The first draft Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2005, but was rejected by most segments of secular public opinion. An entirely new draft was written in the National Advisory Council, with which I too was closely associated. This draft was also attacked in some quarters, especially for restricting its protections to minorities, and its alleged encroachments on the federal framework.
For a statute of such seminal significance, the Union government took far too long in amending the draft in ways that responded to these criticisms. It would have done well to initiate a public debate and invite leaders across political lines to assist in the amendments. But still the latest draft addresses most of the criticisms made by both Opposition parties and segments of secular opinion. The provisions of the new draft apply equally to all persons, majority and minority, and it takes great care not to violate the jurisdictions of state governments.
However, the government did not even share in advance this draft with various political parties before it raised it in the Rajya Sabha. Neither Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde nor law minister Kapil Sibal explained how the draft incorporates the concerns, suggestions and sensitivities of various political parties. The government’s resultant failure to even introduce the revised Bill seemed like a deliberate and cynical self-goal. It appears that the ruling government tried clumsily to earn the gratitude of minorities for trying to introduce the statute, but not the opprobrium of majoritarian public opinion by actually steering it through in Parliament. …
- A Bill on hold – By T.K. Rajalakshmi & V. Venkatesan (Mar 7, 2014, Frontline)
- The Lost Children – By Javed Sultan (Mar 1, 2014, Tehelka)
- Remembering the Nellie Massacre of 18 February 1983 – By Nilim Dutta (Feb 18, 2014, Twocircles.net)
- Worst anti-Christian pogrom of the 21st Century – By Joseph DeCaro (Feb 14, 2014, Worthynews.com)
These are grim times for scholars who study India. For years, in both India and the US, the RSS and its allies have bullied and attacked scholars of ancient history and religion who do not portray the past and the gods according to their narrow orthodoxy. What is different now is that the politics of fear is in the ascendant. People previously committed to open scholarship and public debate are running for the hills. And now, with the withdrawal and pulping of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History, the bullies have scored a major victory. Penguin, after fighting the legal case against Doniger for four years, suddenly folded, saying that it would be difficult to continue defending Doniger without “deliberately placing themselves outside the law” – the law in question being Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which forbids “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class of citizens”.
Penguin’s claim is ridiculous. The lawsuit is extremely weak. It is poorly written and argued, contains absurd errors (even the purported quotes from the book are inaccurate), and its attempt to satisfy the law’s demand for malicious intent is childish – accusing Doniger, a secular Jew, of “Christian missionary zeal” and suggesting that her historically accurate references to sexual elements in the tradition were motivated by her being “a woman hungry of sex”. Ironically, the parts of the book that, according to the lawsuit, show Hinduism in a bad light are simply parts that are true and there: the Hindu tradition is replete with non-judgemental allusions to a variety of sexual desires and activities, including those of the gods, whether the new Hindu fundamentalists like this or not. So how could anyone be convicted of defaming a religion simply because she points to texts that some people would rather forget? As Doniger said recently in The New York Times, the shoe is on the other foot: it is they who say parts of their own religion are bad, whereas she admires Hinduism’s treatment of sexuality as natural and beautiful.
Indeed, even a cursory study of Doniger’s career would reveal a passionate love of Hinduism, combined with scholarship of the highest order. Doniger, a woman of boundless energy, humour and joie de vivre, can be found teaching approximately double the required load, so eager is she to make sure that the major texts are taught in their original languages. She describes her career as motivated by a dissatisfaction with the narrowness and rigour of other religions, and a fascination with Hinduism’s more variegated and tolerant portrayal of human beings and the conflicts they face – “the difficulty of being good”, as Gurcharan Das put it in his book of that name, written after spending two years at the University of Chicago studying Sanskrit with Doniger.
The case, then, was eminently winnable, and Penguin’s attempt to hide behind the law is a transparent excuse for cowardly capitulation. The real story is told in Penguin’s statement that they “have a moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment where we can”. Fear of violence has won; the conglomerate caves before a vague (or perhaps not-so-vague) threat. Such things have, deplorably, happened before. This time, however, there is the prospect (on which the lawsuit’s primary plaintiff, Dina Nath Batra, waxes ecstatic in an interview to The New York Times) that the RSS will soon have the power to suppress all the books it doesn’t like.
What, then, of law? Is Section 295A utterly irrelevant to the current dire situation of free speech and scholarship in India? Certainly, law does not explain Penguin’s failure to fight a winnable case. But law, I would argue, is not nothing either: it does collaborate with the political situation, opening a door through which bullies may walk with their heads held high. Group defamation is a trendy topic in the law. Particularly in Europe, where incivility to minorities is distressingly common and well-meaning people want to protect their dignity, it has become fashionable to defend such laws or urge their adoption where (as in the US) they are not yet present. A particularly influential argument for group defamation laws was recently made by the eminent British legal scholar Jeremy Waldron, in The Harm in Hate Speech. Waldron’s concerns are admirable: equal respect and full inclusion. How, he asks, can Muslim immigrants ever feel themselves fully equal citizens when a sign can be put up on a New Jersey street saying, “Muslims and 9/11! Don’t serve them, don’t speak to them and don’t let them in.” (The example is apparently fictional.) Waldron argues that the usual ways of dealing with such insults (non-discrimination laws, social norms) are insufficient: the law must intervene, ensuring that minorities have confidence that their dignity will not be assailed by public utterances.…
- Wendy Doniger’s book is a tribute to Hinduism’s complexity, not an insult – By Vijay Prashad (Feb 12, 2014, The Guardian)
- Muzzling Speech in India – Editorial (Feb 20, 2014, New York Times)
- The regressive state – By Ritu Menon (Feb 20, 2014, Indian Express)
- A legal flaw – By V. Venkatesan (Mar 7, 2014, Frontline)
When the Telangana state bill for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh came in the Assembly for discussion Andhra MLAs and the chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy did not allow the house to have discussion on the bifurcation bill. In the House, there were remarks on the Nizam of Hyderabad, his rule and about his development to the state by TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu, P. Keshav, Narender and Legislative Affairs Minister, Shailajanath.
Mr. Babu claimed that he has developed Hyderabad which Nizam was unable to do in 400 years. Shailajanath, Legislative Affairs Minister gave a strong statement that, ‘anybody who takes the name of the Nizam, would not be tolerated’. On this MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi questioned as to how the Nizam is responsible for the bifurcation of the state. And he said that those who are questioning and blaming Nizam do not have enough courage to name the people responsible for the bifurcation of the state.
As the debate continued in the AP Assembly, a public meeting was held on 3 February 2014 at the Press Club Basheerbagh, on the topic “Misconceptions on Hyderabad State and Nizam,” to bring out the facts of the Nizam rule and his development of Hyderabad. The public meeting was presided by Mohd. Abdul Rahim Qureshi, while Dr. K. Srinivas, Editor of Andhra Jyothy was the Chief Guest. Other speakers included Mr. T. Vivek, Prof. Bhangya Bhukya, Dr. K.Chiranjeevi, Captain L. Pandu Ranga Reddy, Mr. Nanak Singh Nashtar, Mr. Lateef Mohd. Khan, Dr. Mateen Quadri, Mr. K. Ramdas and Mr. M.A. Moid.
The meeting started with the introduction to the title “Misconceptions on Hyderabad State and Nizam”. Mr. Moid said that those who wrote about the history of Telangana or erstwhile Hyderabad state were either not sympathetic, or were ignorant, or else to please someone wrote distorted history. He said that the biased writing did affect last two generations, but the new found intellectual activism are bringing new insights and re-writing history of Hyderabad both in English and Telugu.
Speaking on the history of Hyderabad, Mr. T. Vivek from Telangana History Society said that have lost our history and culture after the formation of Andhra Pradesh, we have to recollect our place in society and to rediscover, history should form the basis. After 1948, some kind of alienation is there among Muslims especially in the Southern Hyderabad. Two imagined communities have been created, one which is stuck in the past time and another which is modern, educated and cultured, he said adding that some movies like Gullu Dada etc. have created negative image of Hyderabad and those who have done this have been misdirected. …
- A State Sprouts From Anarchy – By G Vishnu (Mar 1, 2014, Tehelka)
- How MPs hit the very bottom of the barrel during Telangana debate – Editorial (Feb 21, 2014, Hindustan Times)
- Colour Of Elation – By Madhavi Tata (Mar 3, 2014, Outlook)
- The New Telangana State: A Perspective for Inclusive and Sustainable Development – By C H Hanumantha Rao (Mar 1, 2014, EPW)
Indian democracy has over time shown a resilience that has been marvelled at the world over. Yet, 67 years after its birth, the world’s largest democracy is faced with a crisis of faith too scarily large to be ignored. As the 15th Lok Sabha comes to an ignominious end, it is no longer possible to put off the question: are we a democracy only in name? Without a proactive course correction, India’s robust record in conducting elections could end up being just that – a ritualistic, five-yearly obeisance to democracy that hides the appalling state of the country’s institutions, in particular Parliament which today resembles a wrestling arena.
In truth, the comparison would insult the sport of wrestling, which is governed by well laid-out rules and regulations. By contrast, parliamentary misbehaviour would seem to have no boundaries, with new lows marked in every session, and progressively higher levels of tolerance required of presiding officers, who have had to throw up their hands in the face of aggression by those they have been mandated to monitor.
Even by this abysmal standard, few could have bargained for what happened in the concluding session of the 15th Lok Sabha. An irate MP from Seemandhra used pepper spray, causing immense distress to fellow- parliamentarians. A dark chapter was added to this saga when the Lok Sabha passed The Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Bill amidst a TV blackout. There cannot be a worse commentary on the state of democracy than the blackout of the proceedings of the lower House of Parliament where the collective will of the people is deemed to reside. It would seem only natural then that the 15th Lok Sabha should have recorded the worst performance in more than 50 years; productivity, which was 107 per cent in the third Lok Sabha, scaled a peak of 120 per cent in the seventh, only to crash to 61 per cent in the 15th; the outgoing Lok Sabha passed 177 of the 326 Bills scheduled for passage.
Tragically, Indian parliamentarians are second to none in legislative acumen and debating skills – as was witnessed during the debates on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, as well as on the occasions when the Opposition skewered the executive on its interminable scams. The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party also set aside their differences to help pass the Bills on the Lokpal and the Telangana state. This shows that with some will, Parliament can yet be salvaged. The time has come for presiding officers to redeem the pledge they have repeatedly made at countless conferences, to “evolve and observe” a “code of conduct” for legislators and create strong disincentives against disruption. The start for this has necessarily to be the realisation that India’s future is imperilled if its Parliament is imperilled.
- Politics of Brinkmanship – Editorial (Mar 1, 2014, EPW)
- Behave, please: how lawless MPs, MLAs hurt democracy – By Sanjoy Narayan (Feb 23, 2014, Hindustan Times)
As Kiran Negi’s parents emerged out of the courtroom in New Delhi on 20 February, more than 300 women cheered for them. An endless battle seemed to be have been won. The women, mostly neighbours of the Negis, have been attending every court proceeding for the past two years, ever since Kiran’s body was found in Haryana on 13 February 2012.
Kiran’s mother, Ganeshi Devi, fainted in the courtroom, as the three accused were handed down death sentences. Kiran’s teary-eyed father, Kunwar Singh Negi, emerged from the court and said, “Today, my daughter’s soul will rest in peace. Our faith in the judiciary has been restored, but I know this is not the end of the battle for us.”
A year before the Nirbhaya gangrape in New Delhi captured India’s imagination, raising the cry for women’s safety in our cities, Kiran was abducted, raped and brutalised in the Capital, before being left to die bleeding in a mustard field in Haryana. Her brutal rape and murder did not attract newspaper headlines or television airtime. In fact, she was a mere statistic until TEHELKA reported her story (Before Nirbhaya, it was Kiran Negi. But the media ignored her) on 8 February 2014.
For the past two years, Kunwar and his wife have fought a seemingly endless and tiring battle. Rape laws were still lax when their daughter was killed. The case was transferred thrice to different courts, before it finally reached the fast-track court. Her father ran from pillar to post, consumed by paperwork and tracking his daughter’s case. He waited outside courtrooms as the case progressed. “I did not have the heart to enter the courtroom,” he says. …
The Negis have fought valiantly for the past two years and want the world to know about their daughter and what happened to her. Kunwar Singh has tried to give voice to his dead daughter by writing a biographical account of her life in the form of a letter. It starts with Kiran’s dreams and aspirations, before moving on to describe the gruesome details of the incident that put an end to her life, and goes on to demand death penalty for the accused. While the accused are expected to appeal in a higher court next month, the Negis know that the fight is far from over. Yet, they are willing to fight for justice till the end.
- A Primer On The New Rape Law – By Pragya Singh (Mar 3, 2014, Outlook)
- Rape as retribution – By Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay (Feb 21, 2014, Frontline)
- Define, Refine, Redefine – By Anuradha Raman (Mar 3, 2014, Outlook)
- Violence Against Women and Gang Rape: India’s Continuing Shame – By Luigi Spinola and Preethi Nallu (Feb 14, 2014, News Week)
Author: Mushirul Hasan and Zoya Hasan, Eds.
Reviewed by: Vibhuti Patel
Available at: Council for Social Development 53, KK Birla Marg, Lodhi Gardens, Lodi Estate, New Delhi, 110003, 2013; pp xx + 298, Rs 795. http://www.amazon.in/
Inscribed In Cold-Hearted Ink (Feb 24, 2014, Outlook)
The volume under review is the product of a large number of area and sectoral studies on the socio-economic conditions of socially excluded sections. These include the poor among the scheduled castes (SCs), the scheduled tribes (STs), the denotified tribes (DNTs), the disabled, women and religious minorities.… The editors of the report, Zoya Hasan and Mushirul Hasan, clarify the concept of “social development” originally proposed by Durgabai Deshmukh, a founder of the Council for Social Development and who played a pivotal role in the debates in the Constituent Assembly of India. They point out the failure of the State to provide people with the basic minimum needed for survival and a dignified life due to its withdrawal from the infrastructure, social and agricultural sectors of the economy. They also highlight identity-based exclusion which targets the Muslim community the most. The Human Development Report, 2011 shows that Muslims account for 33% of the total below poverty line population. …
Part II of this volume is dedicated to the most neglected strata of India, namely minorities, who are confronted with social, political, economic and educational exclusion due to inbuilt biases in the social structure. The major exclusion of Muslims from planning and implementation in day-to-day governance structures and mechanisms allow the diversion of funds earmarked for them. The weak socio-economic and educational profile of Muslims has demanded greater attention from policymakers and politicians after the Sachar Committee’s report was released in 2006 by the Government of India. Abusaleh Shariff, Khursheed Anwar Siddiqui, Amit Sharma and Prabir Kumar Ghosh examine the factors responsible for the wage and non-wage incomes of different socio-religious groups.
Tanweer Fazal and Rajeev Kumar’s article “Muslims in India – A Study of Socio-economic and Educational Levels in Four Focus States” reveals the low retention and high dropout rates in education among Muslims in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Assam and Kerala. Mohammad Sanjeer Alam explains the modalities of exclusion of Muslims from formal education due to unequal distribution of opportunities and absence of affirmative action in the field of education by the state and non-state actors.
“Madarsas and Educational Conditions of Muslims” by Arshad Alam profiles the historical genesis of madrasas and their changing role in post-Independence India and the state policies on madrasas in UP, Bihar and West Bengal. The author calls for modernisation of the madrasas in order to equip Muslim children to meet the challenges of modern times.
Prashant Trivedi’s “Rural Power Structure, State Initiatives and the Muslims-Divergent Experiences in Four States” brings out the intersectionality of class and sociocultural variables in the nature of landownership, occupational pattern, health-related issues, availability of housing and electricity and drinking water among Muslims in UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. “Assessing UPA Government’s Response to Muslim Deprivation” by Zoya Hasan and Mushirul Hasan conducts a social audit of the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme that focuses on education-related schemes, the multi-sectoral development programme for basic amenities, enterprise development, health delivery system, etc. They find inadequate funds for economic services, social services and welfare services for minorities and exclusion of Muslims from existing government programmes. The authors emphasise mainstreaming Muslims in all the decision-making bodies like ministries, departments and implementation agencies. …