IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 4th, 2013
In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary is a time to renew the struggle against hate and sectarianism say Indian Americans
- NIA gets clue on terror modus operandi used by saffron-terror suspects
- Naroda Patiya massacre case: Maya Kodnani plea to change Naroda Gam judge Jyotsana Yagnik rejected
- Muslim leaders dare Narendra Modi to contest from UP
- Custodial death case: ‘Deceased could have been injured in Dharavi lockup’
- Watch exclusive videos of policemen participating in Dhule riots
- Uttar Pradesh’s minority group protests against ‘Vishwaroopam’
- “Violence against Christians on the rise as Police look the other way”
- ‘The cops forced me to strip in front of them and tortured me’
- Student ends life for Telangana
- 68,000 cases of rape in 2009-11; only 16,000 convicted
Opinions & Editorials
- Dhule imperative – Editorial
- Defeat This Menace of Terrorism – Editorial
- Why Are The BJP’s Allies Wary Of Narendra Modi? – By Soumik Mukherjee
- Vishwaroopam: Stereotyping Muslims as terrorist in Indian cinema – By Mohammed Tanveer
- Gangraped by 16 Men. Yet No Outrage in the Hills – By Ratnadip Choudhury
- Celebrating corruption! – By Neeraj Thakur
Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary is a time to renew the struggle against hate and sectarianism say Indian Americans
January 30, 2013
Indian American Muslim Council (https://www.iamc.com) an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has paid respects to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his death anniversary today. IAMC has called on secular forces to join hands in the struggle against the same hateful and divisive forces that claimed the Mahatma’s life, and which continue to plague our national polity.
“Gandhiji was assassinated, not just by Nathuram Godse, but by a movement that continues to be characterized by its animus towards minorities and towards our cherished tradition of tolerance,” said Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “The need for our nation to come together against such hateful ideologies has never been more urgent,” added Mr. Khan.
India’s Home Minister Mr. Sushilkumar Shinde recently made a statement about the evidence of the involvement of Hindutva terror groups in several acts of terror in the country in recent years. His statement is an acknowledgement of the pattern that has been evident for some time, and confirmed by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) that gave the home ministry a list of suspects associated with Hindu supremacist groups that were behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
These organizations have long been known for championing an ideology that seeks to subvert India’s secular moorings. It is time for us as a nation to introspect on why the Mahatma’s killers have been allowed to gain such power and influence over the last 65 years.
IAMC has called on the government of India to adopt tough measures against all forms of terrorism and to outlaw movements and organizations that serve as breeding grounds for terrorists. It has also appealed to the government of India to expedite the release of hundreds of innocent Muslims who have been languishing in jails for acts of terror that are now established as having been committed by terror groups associated with the Hindutva ideology.
Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the nation.
1. Mahatma Gandhi’s 65th death anniversary: Nation remembers apostle of peace
2. Shinde’s remarks on RSS, BJP terror camps based on facts, says Khurshid
NIA gets clue on terror modus operandi used by saffron-terror suspects (Jan 31, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)
With the arrest of Dilip Jagtap from Mhowgaon, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has got a vital clue to understand the modus operandi used by saffron terror suspects in concealing and transporting weapons. The team has confiscated two high quality pistols – one from the house of terror accused Lokesh Sharma in Mhow and another from Jagtap’s residence.
“We believe that Jagtap has been concealing and transporting weapons for the terror suspects,” a senior NIA officer said. Since last three days, the NIA had been camping in Mhow with Sharma, who was sent on a NIA remand by a Bhopal court. The team is using all tricks of the trade to shovel information out of him and his associates.
Sharma, who was wanted in at least four terror attacks and murders of former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi and Congress leader Pyare Singh Ninama, was arrested by the Rajasthan ATS in May 2010. He was later handed over to NIA after it took over the probe into terror attacks. Every interaction between Sharma, his family members and associates was being recorded and corrective action thus taken.
Jagtap was one such finding during the interrogation, following which a team had raided his house in Mhowgaon and recovered the weapon. A team of NIA officials escorted Jagtap to Bhopal, where he will be produced before a special court. “We will be seeking a remand to interrogate him,” said an officer.
- NIA visits ’08 Malegaon blast links with ’06 suspect (Feb 3, 2013, Indian Express)
- NIA may probe 4 more blast cases in Maharashtra (Jan 29, 2013, Times of India)
- NIA is looking for ‘Lady Killer’, key accused in several blast cases (Jan 30, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)
- Samjhauta, Malegaon blast suspect arrested (Jan 31, 2013, Indian Express)
Naroda Patiya massacre case: Maya Kodnani plea to change Naroda Gam judge Jyotsana Yagnik rejected (Jan 30, 2013, Indian Express)
The Gujarat High Court Tuesday rejected a group of petitions by three accused in the 2002 Naroda Gam massacre case, including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, to transfer the trial of the case from the court of present trial judge, Jyotsana Yagnik. Pronouncing the order, Justice K M Thaker observed that the designated judge was appointed by Chief Justice of High Court under the directions given by the Supreme Court and there was no material to suggest that the judge (Yagnik) would not deliver judgment fairly.
Kodnani and two others, Babu Patel alias Bajrangi and Kishan Korani, had moved the petitions. All three have been convicted by Yagnik in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case and sentenced to life imprisonment. The three are facing trial in Naroda Gam massacre also. Earlier, Naroda Gam case’s trial was being conducted in the special court of sessions judge S H Vora. However, some time back, Vora was elevated as an HC judge following which Yagnik was assigned the job of conducting trial of the Naroda Gam case by Chief Justice of HC.
Eleven persons were killed in the Naroda Gam massacre and around 82 accused are undergoing trial in the case. The three accused had sought to transfer trial of Naroda Gam case from Yagnik’s court to any other court on the ground that she had already formed an opinion on certain evidence which were identical in both the Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya cases and therefore, that would prejudice their case in Naroda Gam case. The three initially sought Yagnik to recuse herself from the case. When Yagnik refused, they approached the High Court.
- Sting footage shown in court (Feb 2, 2013, Times of India)
- Probe into destruction of riot papers yet to begin (Jan 29, 2013, DNA India)
- Cop who gave Gujarat riots evidence chargesheeted (Jan 29, 2013, Times of India)
- Makers of Rajdhani Express in trouble for using ‘face of 2002 Gujarat riot’ (Feb 3, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)
Muslim leaders dare Narendra Modi to contest from UP (Feb 4, 2013, Times of India)
Muslim community leaders, including members of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, on Sunday dared the BJP to field Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi from Lucknow or Faizabad, where Ayodhya is located, for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Speaking to TOI, a large number of Muslim members of the board, as also those outside its fold, said Modi may be popular in Gujarat, but he is yet to prove his popularity in other states.
“One must not forget that it’s the people of Uttar Pradesh who’ve brought BJP where it is today, for playing with the religious sentiments of Hindus in the name of Ram temple at Ayodhya,” said Babri Masjid Action Committee convener Zafaryab Jiani, who is also a member of AIMPLB executive committee.
“I am confident that the people in our state are intelligent enough to decide what is good for the country. I won’t be surprised if Modi barely manages to secure his deposit if he contests from Lucknow or Faizabad,” Jilani added. “Muslims, at least those in UP, are neither concerned nor interested in Modi’s political future. Let him contest and the BJP will see for itself what the people in UP have in store for him,” he said.
There is no official word from the BJP on Modi’s candidature for prime ministership, but media reports have been saying he is the front-runner. Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Maheli, the Naib Imam of Eidgah Aishbagh in Lucknow and member of the AIMPLB executive committee, said a majority of the people in UP will not support Modi as PM. AIMPLB wields a certain degree of influence over Muslims votes in UP.
“I have full faith in my people. How can they vote in favor of a genocide accused for such an important post in the country,” Firangi Maheli asked. Maulana Abdul Reheem Qureshi, the assistant secretary general of AIMPLB from Hyderabad, said the issue was outside the purview of AIMPLB and it would not be proper for him to deviate from the agenda. “We will cross the bridge when we come to it,” he said.
- Narendra Modi can win hearts only after he apologises for Guj riots (Feb 4, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)
- Muslim group sure people will reject Modi for PM (Feb 4, 2013, The Hindu)
- ‘Keep Modi and politics away from Maha Kumbh’ (Feb 4, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)
- How can sadhus and Nagas decide BJP’s PM candidate, asks JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari (Feb 3, 2013, IBN)
Custodial death case: ‘Deceased could have been injured in Dharavi lockup’ (Feb 1, 2013, Times of India)
Stating that an accused, who was found dead inside the lockup at Dharavi police station in December 2012, seemed to have had sustained injuries in the custody, the Bombay high court on Thursday issued notice to the CBI. “Prima facie, there are multiple injuries on the body of the deceased which are not accidental and seem to have been sustained in custody,” said a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashok Bhangale.
The court was hearing a petition about the alleged custodial torture and death of 35-year-old Julfar alias Rafiq Shaikh on December 2, 2012, who was arrested in a counterfeit notes case. Directing the police commissioner to transfer the probe death to a senior officer, the HC has also asked that the statement of a co-accused, who was arrested with Shaikh, be recorded by a magistrate under section 144 of the CrPC.
The judges went through the documents related to the case and ordered that copies of the file be kept in a sealed envelope with the court. “This is a serious case, with allegations against police officers,” said the bench, pointing to multiple injuries mentioned in the post-mortem report. Additional public prosecutor Ajay Gadkari told the court that the medical report on the exact cause of death was still awaited.
According to the petition filed by the brother of the accused, the Dharavi police picked up Rafiq on November 28, 2012. The next day, he, along with Inamul Shaikh, was shown arrested in a fake notes case. Both the accused were produced before the magistrate on November 30 and sent to police custody.
On December 2, Rafiq died in custody. “When Rafiq was produced before the magistrate, he was fine. This shows that he sustained injuries when he was in the police lockup,” said Advocate Yug Chaudhry and Neville Deboo, counsel for the petitioner. The petition, seeking a CBI probe, claimed Inamul had said they were tortured by the police and that led to Rafiq’s death. But the Dharavi police had claimed that he had died of heart attack.
- Sadiq Jamal killing: No bail for DySP (Jan 30, 2013, Indian Express)
- Pathribal encounter: Court martial proceedings boycotted (Jan 30, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Manipur: Govt remains mute spectator to anti-AFSPA protests (Feb 4, 2013, IBN)
- Nandigram firing: 5 IPS officers told to explain their roles (Feb 2, 2013, Indian Express)
Watch exclusive videos of policemen participating in Dhule riots (Jan 30, 2013, Indian Express)
Policemen firing to control rioters in Dhule aimed above the waist in violation of rules, new video clips with The Indian Express show. Six Muslim men were killed by police bullets after a minor quarrel over the food bill at a roadside stall escalated into rioting in the north Maharashtra town on January 6. All the dead had injuries in the upper half of their bodies. The video clips (see links below) show policemen ignoring people their bullets had injured. One clip shows a constable taking a self-loading rifle from his senior officer and aiming to shoot above the waist. He went through with the shot.
Video I: Dhule unmasks rioters in uniform – Part 1
Video II: Dhule unmasks rioters in uniform – Part 2
Video III: Dhule riots: Cops on rampage
Video IV: Cop fires above waist
Witnesses alleged the shooting began without warning, and that all shots were above the waist. “A constable fired three shots, one of which hit Imran Ali below his collar bone, leading to his death,” said a person who was present at the scene. The Indian Express could not independently verify whether the bullet that killed Imran Ali was fired by the policeman in question.
The Maharashtra Police manual lays down a strict protocol for opening fire to disperse a mob. “If the police are going to have to resort to firing there has to be a clear and distinct warning that firing will be effective. Here too, the rule is to use minimal force. So firing must aim low and at the most threatening part of the crowd with a view not to cause fatalities but to disperse the crowd. As soon as the crowd show signs of breaking up, the firing must stop,” say the police’s rules on crowd dispersal.
When contacted, Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal said he had not seen these clips; however, an inquiry into the incident was ongoing. “We need to see under what circumstances and situation the police were in at the time of firing. As per rules, if the police and rioters are at the same level then one needs to fire low. But if the other side is on a higher plane, then the situation changes. However, I would not like to comment on the incident as I have not seen the video,” Dayal said.
Residents of Dhule alleged no guidelines were followed. “There was no warning before the police fired,” said a person who was in the crowd in Machhi Bazar on January 6. A clip shows policemen walking calmly past a man felled by their bullets, ignoring pleas for help from local people. As the policemen move on, more gunshots are heard.
- ‘Appalled by Dhule riots, errant cops should be punished’ (Jan 29, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Dhule victims go to SC, seek probe by SIT (Jan 29, 2013, Indian Express)
- Police draws sharp criticism, faces scrutiny over Dhule riots (Jan 29, 2013, IBN)
- SSC students among worst hit by Dhule riots (Feb 2, 2013, Times of India)
Uttar Pradesh’s minority group protests against ‘Vishwaroopam’ (Feb 1, 2013, Times of India)
Activists belonging to the All-India Sunni Board today held a protest demanding that the “objectionable” portions be removed from Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’ even as the film released in the state capital amidst tight security. The demonstration, which followed Friday prayers at the Taqwayatul Iman mosque on Nadan Mahal Road, saw protesters chanting slogans demanding that “objectionable portions be deleted” and that the trilingual film be “banned from release in Uttar Pradesh”.
Meanwhile, there was strong police deployment at theatres and malls where the film opened today although its morning screening could not go through due to a delay in the arrival of prints, sources said. But its noon show went ahead as planned and there were no untoward incidents during the protest and at the cinema halls, they said.
Senior Samajwadi Party leader Ram Asrey Kushwaha had yesterday said that Haasan’s film could be banned in Uttar Pradesh if it was found that it “hurt the sentiments” of Muslims and indulges in “character assassination”.
- Writ petition filed seeking ban on ‘Vishwaroopam’ (Jan 29, 2013, The Hindu)
- Muslims leaders write to PM demanding banning Vishwaroopam (Jan 28, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- Trouble in Mumbai: Muslim groups want Vishwaroop cut, threaten to move court (Feb 1, 2013, Indian Express)
- ‘Vishwaroopam’: Madras HC upholds ban, Kamal Haasan to move SC (Jan 30, 2013, Times of India)
“Violence against Christians on the rise as Police look the other way” (Jan 29, 2013, The Hindu)
At least 131 instances of violence against and persecution of Christians occurred across the country in 2012, according to a report released by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. It says Karnataka has the highest number of hostile cases (37). Chhattisgarh comes next, with 21 recorded instances, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 18. In almost all cases, the complicity or tacit cooperation of the local police resulted in violence or vandalism, said Indian Christian Voice president and former Maharashtra Minorities Commission member Abraham Mathai.
He said the list was not exhaustive as the cases highlighted pertained only to incidents on which an FIR was lodged. “Many incidents go unreported and hence, undocumented…but that does mean that an atrocity is not taking place,” he said, alleging that a significant number of these hostile attacks were primarily carried out by Hindu extremists in States ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Adivasi Christian Sainath Umbaraote, who hails from Tamsai village in Maharashtra’s Thane district, claimed that despite police assurances of protection, the personnel were turning a blind eye to the incidents and often did not register complaints. Incidentally, Tamsai was the scene of a communal conflagration a fortnight ago when tribals were beaten up by local extremists for daring to worship Christ.
“The atmosphere in the village continues to be tense. While community prayers have stopped, tribals who have accepted Christianity are compelled to pray surreptitiously,” said Mr. Umbaraote. Likewise, Chintaman Salve rued the climate of repression in Mokahada taluk in Thane district where, he said, even women were manhandled and their chains with the Cross were snatched when they went out to wash clothes.
- Hindu fundamentalists target minorities in Konkan (Jan 28, 2013, Deccan Herald)
- Christian body brings out ‘persecution’ report for 2012 (Jan 29, 2013, Times of India)
- ‘Koran’ released amidst protest by Bajrang Dal (Feb 2, 2013, The Hindu)
- Indian Muslims less privileged than SC, ST’s: UK scholar (Feb 4, 2013, Times of India)
‘The cops forced me to strip in front of them and tortured me’ (Feb 4, 2013, Mumbai Mirror)
A jeweller has accused Bhandup police of humiliation, torture and extortion after falsely implicating him in a theft case. In his complaint to the police commissioner and the zonal deputy commissioner of police, Hiralal Parasar, 42, has alleged that he was illegally detained by Bhandup police, who stripped and tortured him, and released him for gold as bribe.
According to the complaint, four cops had twice barged into Parasar’s shop – Mahalaxmi Jewellers – and home, and forcefully taken away 30 gm of gold. He has also accused the cops of falsely implicating him in a theft case.
“On January 15, the cops came to my house and asked me to accompany them to the police station. At the station, they asked for another 25 gm of gold in return of my release. “When I refused, I was forced to strip in front everyone and tortured. One of the officers slapped me so hard that my ear drum got damaged and now I can listen only by one ear,” the complaint stated.
While Parasar was let off after his wife brought in the gold, he was named as an absconding co-accused in a chain-snatching case aday later. Additonal CP Quaiser Khalid (east region) said, “I have called in for the CCTV footage of the jewellery shop and have called in both the parties for questioning. Investigations are on.”
- Jalgaon constable caught taking Rs65 lakh bribe (Jan 31, 2013, DNA India)
- CWG scam: Suresh Kalmadi charged with cheating, pleads not guilty (Feb 4, 2013, Indian Express)
- Tripura assembly election: 8% candidates face criminal charges, claims report (Feb 4, 2013, Times of India)
- 7 Maoists with huge cache of explosives arrested in Odisha (Feb 4, 2013, Indian Express)
Student ends life for Telangana (Jan 31, 2013, The Hindu)
An engineering student ended his life by hanging in his rented house at Pavanpuri Colony in Karmanghat of Saroornagar, the police said on Wednesday. Twenty-one-year-old Dinesh Chandra, in a note purportedly written by him, appealed to TRS supremo K. Chandrasekhar Rao spearheading the separate Telangana State agitation to achieve the goal “without calling for bandhs”.
Dinesh used to live with his sister Divya, a teacher, in a rented house. Around 11 a.m., one of their relatives called Ms. Divya and told her that Dinesh had sent him an email stating that he wanted to commit suicide. The worried woman ran to the house crying, only to find her brother hanging to a hook on the ceiling. “There was no mention of Telangana issue in the email sent by Dinesh. But he wrote about Telangana State in his note,” the Saroorangar police said.
In the note, Dinesh pointed out that what he was doing was wrong and advised others not to follow his suit. Students and staff members of the college and local Telangana activists gathered at the house in large numbers. The Telangana activists allowed the police to shift the body to the morgue only after they were given a copy of the suicide note. Dinesh’s death came as a jolt to his father who works as an accountant in the Agricultural Marketing Committee in Achampet of Mahabubnagar district.
The Telangana Joint Action Committee convener Kodandaram and Employees Association leader Vithal called on his family members at the Osmania General Hospital morgue. They felt the Centre and the Congress party were responsible for the student’s death.
- No more resignations over Telangana: Cong to AP CM (Feb 4, 2013, Rediff)
- SIO condemns detention of its pro-T activists (Jan 29, 2013, The Hindu)
- Telangana issue: Andhra CM meets Sonia Gandhi (Feb 4, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Andhra Pradesh CM in Delhi for Telangana talks (Feb 4, 2013, Deccan Herald)
68,000 cases of rape in 2009-11; only 16,000 convicted (Feb 3, 2013, The Hindu)
Nearly 68,000 rape cases were registered across the country during 2009-11 but only 16,000 rapists were sentenced to prison, presenting a dismal picture of conviction of sexual offenders. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 24,206 rape cases were registered in India in 2011 but only 5,724 people were convicted for the crime. Similarly, in 2010, 22,172 rape cases were registered while the number of convicted persons for the crime was 5,632.
A total of 21,397 rape cases were registered in 2009 but only 5,316 persons could be convicted. The highest number of rape cases – 9,539 – were registered in Madhya Pradesh during 2009-11 but only 2,986 persons were convicted. Altogether 7,010 rape cases were registered in West Bengal during 2009-11 but only 381 people could be convicted for the crime. In Uttar Pradesh, 5,364 cases of rape were registered during the three year period and 3,816 persons were convicted for the crime.
A total of 5,052 rape cases were registered in Assam during 2009-11 but only 517 persons could be convicted. “The poor rate of conviction is primarily due to prosecution’s inability to gather enough evidence against the accused following inadequate police investigation,” a Home Ministry official said. The NCRB data shows there were 1,22,292 cases of molestation during 2009-11 but only 27,408 people could be convicted for the offence. A total of 19,618 cases of molestation were registered in Madhya Pradesh during the three year period but only 6,091 persons were convicted for the crime.
Maharashtra registered 10,651 cases of molestation during 2009-11 but only 595 people could be convicted for the crime. There were 9,030 cases of molestation in Uttar Pradesh during the three year period. However, the number of convicted persons for the offence during the said period was relatively higher than other states at 7,958. Kerala registered 9,232 cases of molestation during 2009-11 but convicted only 718 people during the said period.
- 15-year-old dragged to a field in Wada, gang-raped; 4 held (Feb 1, 2013, DNA India)
- Raped and beaten, Dalit child is firm in resolve to make it big (Feb 4, 2013, The Hindu)
- Catholic forum supports Verma panel’s stand on death penalty (Feb 2, 2013, Indian Express)
- Despite protest, ordinance on sexual offences promulgated (Feb 3, 2013, The Hindu)
Opinions and Editorials
Dhule imperative – Editorial (Jan 31, 2013, Indian Express)
With fresh evidence exposing the excessive tactics adopted by the local police in an incident earlier this month in the Maharashtrian town of Dhule, the state government needs to demonstrate its capacity to come to grips with the aftermath. On January 6, there occurred a spat over the settlement of a bill at a roadside eatery, which in no time took on the dimensions of a communal clash, leaving six persons, all of them Muslim, dead in police firing. That what appeared to be a rather unremarkable argument could claim such a toll is alarming enough and draws attention to the dangers of not addressing communal faultlines of the sort that appear to have defined Dhule, especially after riots in 2008. However, the stark picture that has now emerged – through video footage accessed by this paper – indicates much more than just incompetence in dealing with an altercation. It calls into question the police’s conduct.
The footage shows police personnel going on a rampage to destroy private property and loot shops, and yet more chillingly, to defy the manual and shoot above the waist at persons in the crowd. With this sharpening picture of the police allegedly abdicating the basic rules of professional and impartial conduct, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan does not have the luxury of allowing the rhythms of routine inquiries to run their course before seizing the situation. He needs to urgently act on the emerging evidence of deliberate police aggression.
In fact, the record suggests that a fair stock-taking will, of necessity, have to be anchored from outside the town. Reportedly, a chargesheet filed in the 2008 riots by the Dhule police had claimed as an established fact that Muslims were the masterminds behind all terrorist activities across India. It would be irresponsible to cast a communal colour on the police action without a thorough scrutiny – but when the identity of those felled in police action, in the street version of events, is not seen to be entirely incidental, there lie the makings of an administrative crisis that could spiral out of control.
Dhule town is strategically located on the cusp of two national highways, and its location facilitates the hinterland’s access to wider markets. Muslims make up a quarter of the population. And in the textile industry it has historically thrived on, Dhule speaks of an older inclusiveness, having provided a base for north Indians fleeing the upheaval after the 1857 uprising. The dangers obvious in such a town being torn apart by the suspicion of police mal-intent can only be addressed by reassurance through swift government action.
- Dhule Violence: Changing Anatomy of Communal Violence – By Ram Puniyani (Jan 31, 2013, Countercurrents)
Defeat This Menace of Terrorism – Editorial (Feb 3, 2013, Peoples Democracy)
On this very day, 65 years ago, Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by a Hindu fanatic. 29 years ago, in 1984, the then incumbent prime minister, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by Khalistani extremists. 22 years ago, during the 1991 general elections, the then incumbent prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was consumed by an LTTE ‘human bomb’. In these over six decades of independence and partition, lakhs and lakhs of people, mostly innocent people, have been consumed by terrorist violence perpetrated by communalism and fundamentalism. In recent memory is the ghastly 2002 communal pogrom in Gujarat. Cross border terrorism sponsored by fundamentalist forces reached its heights in the 2008, 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. Various terror outfits operate in different parts of the country, particularly in the North East. Political violence is perpetrated by the Maoists, which the current prime minister has termed as “gravest threat to India’s internal security”. There is caste-based terrorist violence. The country rose in total outrage and indignation at the brutal gang rape and murder in Delhi reflecting the growing gender based terrorist violence. Terrorist violence and the politics of terror are, in India, as diverse as the country itself. Rather than seeking to straightjacket terror into some self-designed brackets, terror of all varieties need to be uncompromisingly fought and defeated for the sake of safeguarding and strengthening our country’s unity and integrity. …
The need is to combat terror of all varieties including ‘Hindutva terror’ not ‘Hindu terror’. Clearly, no religious community, as a whole, can be held responsible for the terrorist activities of individuals embracing that religion. Same yardstick, however, should apply to other religions as well. However, not, according to the RSS. The RSS routinely adopts resolutions seeking to, “curb Islamic terrorism with an iron hand”. This is not merely an expression of double standards. It reflects the ideological roots of converting the modern secular democratic republic of India into the RSS version of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ based on rabid religious intolerance. The home minister’s remarks on ‘saffron terror’ appear to be based on investigations following the announcement made by the then union home minister, in July 2010, to the parliament that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will probe the terrorist attacks on the Samjhauta Express and examine the entire conspiracy behind the attack, including the links of the accused in terrorist attacks at Malegaon (September 8, 2006), Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad (May 18, 2007) and at the Dargah in Ajmer (October 11, 2007). 68 people were killed when bombs exploded in two coaches of Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express around midnight of February 18, 2007. Even earlier, the attention of the central government was drawn to various reports linking some RSS affiliates with incidents of bomb blasts across the country. At a meeting of the National Integration Council on October 13, 2008, the CPI(M) submission had stated the following: “Police investigations in the past few years have noted the involvement of Bajrang Dal or other RSS organisations in various bomb blasts across the country – in 2003, in Parbani, Jalna and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra; in 2005, in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh; in 2006, in Nanded; in January 2008, at the RSS office in Tenkasi, Tirunelveli; in August 2008, in Kanpur etc etc.” Ignoring all this, the BJP has now demanded the sacking of the home minister. Its spokesman said: “If there were terrorists behind the bombings in Samjhauta, the government is free to take action against them. If some former swayamsevak of the Sangh Parivar was involved, please act against them. But you cannot tarnish the image of a nationalist organisation …”
Thus, they are once again proclaiming that such terrorist acts may be the result of actions by a few ‘deviant elements’ and insist that the organisation as a whole is not to be blamed. Such claims are nothing original. This is precisely what was said about Nathuram Godse following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Godse’s brother, however, is on record, in a media interview, to say that all brothers in the family were active members of the RSS. Independent India’s first union home minister, Sardar Patel penned a government communique dated February 4, 1948 announcing the ban on the RSS by stating “the objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself”. The history of the RSS and its methodology of functioning belies such theories of a differentiation between the ‘core’ and the ‘fringe’. The issue of imparting militant training to the Hindus and using violence as a political weapon by the RSS has a long history. It was Savarkar (who advanced the two nation theory – Islamic and Hindu – full two years before Jinnah did) who gave the slogan “Hinduise all politics and militarise Hindudom”.
Inspired by this, Dr B S Moonje, mentor of RSS founder Dr Hegdewar, travelled to Italy to meet the fascist dictator, Mussolini. The meeting took place on March 19, 1931. His personal diary notes of March 20 reveal his fascination and admiration of the manner in which Italian fascism was training its youth (read storm-troopers) militarily. Upon return to India, Dr Moonje established the Central Hindu Military Education Society at Nasik in 1935, the precursor to the Bhonsala Military School (now charged with imparting training to Hindutva terror) established in 1937. Golwalkar, in 1939, exults Hitler’s purging of the Jews under Nazi fascism and says that it is “a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by”. Subsequently, following the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the then UP chief minister, who has recently re-joined the BJP, gloated over the fact that the kar sevaks demolished in few hours what any contractor would have taken days! It is, indeed, an irony of history that on this very day, 80 years ago, in 1933, the fascist dictator Adolf Hitler, who embraced terror as State policy, was sworn-in as the chancellor of Germany. India must maintain that terrorism has no religion. It is simply anti-national and, hence, the country should display zero tolerance. Further, terrorism of all varieties only feed and strengthen each other, seeking to destroy the very unity and integrity of our country. On this day, we must redouble our resolve to defeat this menace of terro’rism in our country.
- Reopen All Investigations Into The Terror Attacks In Maharashtra And Restructure The Anti-Terror Squad – By Feroze Mithiborwala & Kishore Jagtap (Jan 30, 2013, Countercurrents)
Why Are The BJP’s Allies Wary Of Narendra Modi? – By Soumik Mukherjee (Feb 4, 2013, Tehelka)
There is widespread clamour within the BJP to name Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. It was evident in the ecstatic reception he received from jubilant party cadres on his arrival at the national capital after his recent victory in the Gujarat Assembly election. After Ram Jethmalani, the dissident voice in the BJP, even senior leader Yashwant Sinha has come out in the open to back the Gujarat strongman’s PM candidacy. The RSS too is pleased that its Hindutva poster boy is garnering all this attention and would have no qualms in backing him. The only glitch Modi faces is the staunch opposition from some NDA allies. Late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had backed Sushma Swaraj as NDA’s candidate for the post of the PM. Uddhav Thackeray, who recently took over the reins of the Shiv Sena, has continued with the policies of his father. Senior journalist Nikhil Wagle told TEHELKA, “In one of his interviews, Bal Thackeray had said he wanted Swaraj as the PM candidate. Shiv Sena is only pushing that line.”
Wagle says the Sena’s main rival is Raj Thackeray’s MNS, and since Raj has been close to Modi (he was invited to Modi’s swearing-in after the re-election), the Sena does not want Modi to be the NDA’s PM candidate. Already pushed to the corner by the MNS, which has also staked claim to the ‘Marathi manoos’ agenda, it’s a matter of political survival for the Sena. “Shiv Sena is wary of Modi because Raj is close to him. Whoever is seen as the friend of Modi will have the votes of the Gujaratis in Mumbai, who comprise almost 30 percent of the city’s voters,” says Kumar Ketkar, a senior political commentator. The Sena is also wary of Modi poaching its Hindutva vote bank in Maharashtra. Modi has been the poster boy of the Hindutva brigade ever since the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Indeed, there is no middle ground when it comes to Modi. His name evokes reactions only in black and white. Though many of Modi’s critics – be it Sanjay Joshi or Keshubhai Patel – do not match up to his persona, when the man opposing him is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, one is forced to take notice. Nitish, who many believe has changed Bihar singlehandedly in past 10 years, has been quite vocal about his opposition to Modi. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he made sure Modi did not come to Bihar for canvassing. The BJP had to agree to his demand, much to the chagrin of the party’s state unit. With another Lok Sabha poll around the corner, and a large vote bank among the minorities in Bihar, JD(U) does not want to risk its secular credentials.
Saibal Gupta of the Asian Development Research Institute, Patna, believes that Nitish knows secularism is one of the key aspects of his popularity in Bihar. “In our country, it has been proven that it’s not possible to run a smooth government in a state of acrimony, but Nitish Kumar has managed to bring social tranquility in Bihar over the last seven years. He helped rid the state of caste wars and communal strife. He fears conflicts may resurface with someone like Modi as PM.” In a state where religious minorities make up 16 percent of the population, Nitish has a valid reason to stay away from any kind of communal controversy. Moreover, Nitish does not depend on the BJP for the upper caste votes in Bihar. “It’s the other way round. The BJP managed to do well in the last Assembly election, only because of its alliance with JD(U),” adds Gupta.
- The BJP and the RSS: Family Squabbles Turn Intense – By Radhika Ramaseshan (Feb 9, 2013, Economic & Political Weekly)
- The Southern Eclipse – By Ashok Malik and Imran Khan (Jan 31, 2013, Tehelka)
- Governance at its nadir – Editorial (Feb 2, 2013, The Hindu)
Vishwaroopam: Stereotyping Muslims as terrorist in Indian cinema – By Mohammed Tanveer (Jan 28, 2013, Twocircles.net)
In the current era of 3G, the cinema occupies an underlying character which is impersonated in the daily walks of life. ‘Taare Zameen Per’ starring Darsheel Sarfary and Aamir Khan, compelled many parents to question the current educational system, Rang De Bansathi instigated a new mode of peaceful protest against the injustice and movies like Chak De India made us feel proud to be an Indian. The younger generation updates their looks by replicating the looks of the actors in movies. More over dialogues and songs of movies make deep impression as they get used in day today life. On the other side a marginalized section of our nation the Muslims are being painted black through this medium of media as terrorist or say villain which marks bad impression and raise enmity among Indians. In Indian movies Muslims are persons who have beard wearing salwar kameez some time smartly dressed as an executive usually says “Allah ki raha main kafiron ko maar ke jannat milay gi” (If you kill infedels in the way of Allah you will get paradise), say “Inshallah hum kamiyaab hon ge” when a person is assigned the duty of suicidal bombing. Even if language of movie is not Hindi the terrorist character will speak in Urdu only. And the most of the characters that portray the role of underworld mafias are shown as Muslims. And these characters definitely say “Assalamalikum” and “Masha Allah” and indulge in killing, extortion, drugs smuggling and women trafficking.
The dream project of Kamal Hassan ‘Vishwaroopam’ is the new feather in stereotyping Muslims as terrorist. The film ‘Vishwaroopam’ was recently screened to the Muslim leaders in Tamil Nadu after the film was alleged anti Muslim by the Muslim community on basis of clipping of the movie in the trailer. But this allegation become evident after the special screening as the film had portrayed Muslims and Islam in bad light. The film portrays Muslim with a beard as a terrorist waiting for an opportunity to plant a bomb. Fakrudeen (Popular Front of India -TN State Executive Council Member) who was among the leaders who viewed the screening said, “The film gives the image that Quran is the root-cause of terrorism and there are abundant scences hurting the Islamic sentiments. It shows that the Muslim character in the film carryout each and every terror activity either after reading Quran or Quran verses are being recited in the back ground at the time of terror activity done by him”. The films depicts Muslims as barbaric, more over every section of Muslim community from children to elders are shown as terrorist. Films are platform of media which entertain and educate the public regarding the current scenarios with affecting the harmony or hurting anyone’s belief. The guidelines of the Central Government’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the Censor Board of Film Certification clearly states that the visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups should not be presented in the film and the public order should not be endangered. But these guidelines are regularly ignored by the Censor Board and especially in the case of Vishwaroopam which incitements communal hatred and breach of peace as well as promoting enmity between classes. And the film gives the negative impact on the Muslims to the viewers.
Prof Jawahirrullah MLA (Manithaneya Makkal Katchi) said, “The film carries the pack of lies that Kamal Haasan shows that Taliban leader Mulla Umar was hiding in Madurai and Coimbatore, which is an absolute contrary to the truth”. Abdul Sattar (Social Democratic Party of India- TN State Secretary) who also view the movie said, “let them make movies against terrorism we have no issue with that but in stake of defeating terrorism the movie plots Muslims and their culture as demons, cruel creatures and an intolerant community. It has abundant dialogues which indirectly make fun of Islam religion. This is anti Muslim documentary filmed with latest technology at par to the international standards”. In the film Kamal Hassan plays the role of RAW agent who in disguise as a Kashmiri Militant in association with CIA defeats the terrorist around the globe especially in Afghanistan and film end will the promise of sequel of Vishwaroopam which would tackle terrorism in India. After the agitations and petitions by the confederation of Muslim organization and political parties Vishwaroopam has banned for two weeks in Tamil Nadu. Vishwaroopam was scheduled to release in Telugu on January 25 and in Hindi on February 1 in other parts of the nation also and will telecasted in television via DTH on February 2, 2013. The Madras High Court too has upheld the order and deferred the release, till it sees the film. For the record, Kamal Hassan has said, “Any neutral and patriotic Muslim will surely feel pride on seeing my film.”
This is not the first incident where Kamal Haasan has done an irresponsible act. In 1992, while Thevar Magan got into trouble for allegedly portraying the ‘Thevar’ community, a dominant caste in South Tamil Nadu, and identifying them with glorified violence, Virumaandi in 2004 was embroiled in controversy for similar reasons. The film, which was originally titled ‘Sandiyar’, drew flack and the team was forced to change it to ‘Virumaandi’. Even before its release in theatres, Hey Ram, Kamal Haasan’s ambitious venture in 2000 came under serious criticism, especially by the Congress party for reportedly hurting public sentiment and showing Mahatma Gandhi in bad light. Protests were held throughout the country, screens were burnt down or pelted with stones and even the audience was attacked in places. This was not the scenario of the Indian films in the past, when Muslims were portrayed as innocent Kashmiris, true friends, savior and trust worth. But after the fall of Communism (Russia), America need an enemy to continue its imperialism it started propagation portraying Muslims as terrorist through all means of medium. Hollywood became the favorite tool of imperial forces to demonize the Muslim community. Slowly after 90’s Indian cinema also got affect with this mindset of depicting Muslims as terrorist. There are enough guidelines for the censor board through which movies or scenes harming communal harmony and breeding hatred can be banned. It is alarming how a movie like Vishwaroopam gets cleared from the board. Thus it seems a people movement is the need of hour to teach the board to work efficiently.
- Haasan Lied. Vishwaroopam Will Not Make Indian Muslims Proud – By Feroze Mithiborwala (Jan 31, 2013, Tehelka)
- Vishwaroopam ban: Do Muslim groups have strong case? – By Mohd. Ismail Khan (Jan 28, 2013, Twocircles.net)
Gangraped by 16 Men. Yet No Outrage in the Hills – By Ratnadip Choudhury (Jan 31, 2013, Tehelka)
On the night of 13 December last year, an 18-year-old girl was gangraped by 16 boys in William Nagar, the headquarters of the East Garo Hills district in Meghalaya, 240 km from Shillong. She was returning from the winter festival in the town along with two friends when the incident happened. “While my friends managed to escape, the boys hit me with stones and I lost consciousness,” says the victim. When she came to her senses, she found that her clothes were torn and the boys were raping her. Nine of the rapists were juveniles, and one a distant relative. In the past decade, Meghalaya has seen over 800 rape cases, 500 of which are still pending trial in various courts. Contrary to the popular belief that women have greater control over their lives in matrilineal societies such as in Meghalaya, the condition of women seems to be no different here from the rest of the country. “Our matrilineal society has become mere words on a placard, while the factors contributing to crimes against women in Meghalaya remain the same as in Delhi or Assam,” says Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times.
“There is little political will to change the situation.” In fact, there was a six-fold rise in cases of rape registered annually in the state between 2001 (26 cases) and 2010 (149 cases). In a state that boasts of women’s empowerment – where women inherit property and are seen at the forefront of domestic and public life – 830 rape cases between 2002 and 2012 should have shaken the conscience of the political parties and the administration, and forced them to act. Instead, the conviction rate remains awfully low, compensation is hardly awarded and there are only three fast track courts dealing with rape cases – one each in the Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills and East Khasi Hills districts. In the Garo Hills alone, which does not have a single fast track court, 23 rape cases, including two gangrape cases, have been pending for over a decade. Though the William Nagar rape victim received a compensation of Rs 25,000 after human rights groups took up her case with the government, she asks, “What will I do with the money when I can no longer lead a normal life?” Her mother alleges that the doctors at the William Nagar Hospital refused to get her daughter admitted even though she was bleeding profusely. “Not only had the boys raped her, they had also mutilated her private parts and perhaps tried to kill her.”
The victim’s father thinks that the alarm bells are ringing for the community to wake up. “Earlier, there was no ‘culture’ of harassing women, but now the youngsters from the community – most of them school dropouts – are becoming violent and girls like my daughter become their victims.” However, local community leaders and the political parties do not seem to care. “When we organised a public meeting after the William Nagar gangrape, none of them turned up. They only talk about the insurgency,” says Jaynie N Sangma of the Peoples’ Movement for Democratic Rights. Even as Meghalaya goes to polls on 23 February, no party has raised the issue of sexual violence despite at least 13 women candidates expected to join the fray, including the lone woman in the Meghalaya Assembly, Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyndoh. Also, of the total 14.8 lakh voters, 7.49 lakh are women, clearly outnumbering the 7.32 lakh male voters.
Deborah C Marak, one of the most prominent Congress leaders in William Nagar and the working president of the party in the state, did not even visit the rape victim. She did not respond to TEHELKA’s repeated attempts to contact her. “When she was attacked by militants in November last year, we took out protest rallies. She should also show the political will to fight for women,” says a woman Congress supporter on the condition of anonymity. The MP from Tura constituency in Garo Hills, Agatha Sangma from the NCP, also never took up this issue. Jaynie has an explanation for this pervasive apathy. “Why would the politicians take up the William Nagar rape victim’s case and risk the wrath of the families of the 16 accused? In Meghalaya, each vote counts. As the community itself is least bothered about the issue, the political parties can afford not to speak out,” she says. Another factor is that women politicians have never had a strong voice in any political party in Meghalaya, as Mukhim points out.
Women are unsafe not only in the underdeveloped Garo Hills, but also in the coal-rich Jaintia Hills and the relatively more developed Khasi Hills. In 2007, a 16- year-old girl was raped by her boyfriend and her throat slashed in Nongstoin in West Khasi Hills district. Though the girl survived after a month in hospital, the police passed it off as a “family matter” and the magistrate suggested a “compromise”. “The entire system is indifferent towards rape victims. And if the accused are related to the powerful coal lobbies, there is huge pressure on the victim’s family to withdraw the case,” says Agnes Kharshiing, president of the Civil Society Women’s Organisation, which has been agitating against improper handling of rape cases. The report of a committee on crime against women formed by the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly showed gross delays in the investigation of rape cases, but there is little pressure on the candidates of the 23 February poll to raise their voice for the rape victims. As the William Nagar rape victim puts it: “Women voters in the area should collectively decide not to support any political party unless they make crime against women a poll issue, but I guess women in Meghalaya are too weak to take such a bold step.”
- Crime Against Women In India – By Ajay Kumar Ranjan (Jan 30, 2013, Countercurrents)
- Overhaul emergency response system – By Sanjay Srivastava (Feb 4, 2013, DNA India)
- Delhi Gang Rape Case: Some Uncomfortable Questions – By Anand Teltumbde (Feb 9, 2013, Economic & Political Weekly)
- ‘The Verma Panel Report Is A Blueprint For Transforming Society. It Is A Blueprint For Equality’ – Gopal Subramaniam with Revati Laul (Jan 31, 2013, Tehelka)
Celebrating corruption! – By Neeraj Thakur (Feb 4, 2013, DNA India)
Ashis Nandy is a sociologist with the heart of a psychoanalyst; and, the media is neither of the two. This is one of the many conclusions one can draw from the controversy surrounding his remarks on the corruption of the marginalised. In various media interviews since the controversy broke out, Nandy has further expanded his argument and, in turn, made it even more unpalatable for the upper caste middle class of India. He has not collected any data to prove his point, for, the point is not statistical in nature. It is psycho-social in nature. The perception of corruption among the middle class is not a statistical argument. It is a bias, a bias which reacts to the upward mobility of the lower castes and classes, just as rape is a male bias directed at the free movement of women. Till a few months ago, such a class bias was at full display when the media made a Dalit, A Raja, into the chief villain in the war against corruption. The middle class seemed to agree in glee, ignoring the fact that policy making is a collective exercise and not the domain of an individual.
In popular (read middle class) imagery, many such villains have been created in the decades following the liberalisation of the Indian economy. Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Madhu Koda are only some such public figures. This imagery brings dual benefit. On the one hand, it absolves the upper caste politician of all the loot of public resources that has happened since then and, on the other hand, it defends the idea of capitalism as something good which is made corrupt only with the intervention of ill-meaning, lower-caste upstarts. It’s not that charges of corruption have not been made against upper caste public figures. But, the public memory is much shorter in the cases of such misdeeds, thereby confirming the popular bias that the lower caste public figures, when given a chance, are ready to loot social resources. Not very long ago, a Dalit Chief Justice of India had a tough time dealing with the criticism of his colleagues and a section of the media on the sources of his income. Whenever there is a discussion on corruption in judiciary, his name crops up. However, not many people recall that another judge who traced his genealogy to different gods was ready to demolish half of Delhi at the behest of builder mafia.
In the war of perception and cultural symbolism, Indian private and public institutions are hopelessly casteist in character. No wonder then that a Dalit chief minister put her government almost at stake to build some aesthetically appealing public memorials on the outskirts of the national capital. The middle class reacted to these memorials with spontaneous disgust and immediately tied it to her supposed corruption in its discursive imagery. Nandy, unfortunately, is caught in controversy for stating this bias, giving an impression as if he endorses it. He is like Dibakar Banerjee of Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye, who made Lucky (protagonist) steal expensive clothes from a city showroom so that he could convince the bouncers of a nightclub that he could belong there. Just as the audience missed the feudal logic in the exclusivity of the nightclub, Nandy’s critics have missed grasping the feudal mindset that holds lower caste persons from claiming access to power without indulging in corrupt means.
- Varna Of Money – By Uttam Sengupta (Feb 11, 2013, Outlook)
- The ugly truth – By Kancha Ilaiah (Feb 4, 2013, Asian Age)
- The Nandy Bully – By S. Anand (Feb 11, 2013, Outlook)