IAMC Weekly News Roundup - February 8th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 8th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

J&K: Muslims perform last rites of 84-year-old Kashmiri Pandit in Kulgam (Feb 2, 2016, IBN)

In a heart-warming example of Kashmiriyat, Muslims of a village in Kulgam district of south Kashmir performed the last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit, who clung to his roots and refused to leave the valley when all others in his family fled under threat from terrorists. Janki Nath (84), a resident of Malvan in Kulgam, died on Saturday.

In the absence of family member or Kashmiri Pandit, the local Muslims organised the last rites of the deceased and mourned his death as one of their own. Nath, who was the only member of his community living among the 5,000 Muslims in Malvan, had decided to stay back when Kashmiri Pandits fled the valley in 1990.…

He was not keeping well for the past five years and Muslim neighbors were taking care of him. As the news of his death broke, locals were inconsolable. “We feel we have lost one of our own. He was just like my elder brother and I used to take suggestions from him before taking any step”, Gull Mohammad Alai, a local, said.… The locals said Janki Nath had no regrets about his decision to stay back in the valley.


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Gujarat BJP on cheap land to CM’s kin: Price fixed in 2011 after district, state penals, Modi Cabinet “cleared” it (Feb 6, 2016, Counterview)

Is BJP high command losing faith in Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel? It would seem so, if looks into how it fielded Gujarat BJP spokesperson IK Jadeja, a small fry, to “deny” a top media report, which pointed to a “scam” in which business group associated with her daughter was allocated 250 acres of prime land off Gir lions sanctuary at the rate of just Rs 15 per square metre. The denial, in a Gujarati language press note, came even as political circles in the state were abuzz with speculation as to who is behind the effort to “dislodge” Anandiben Patel.…

Congress leader Anand Sharma termed the revelations “shocking”, and they showed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, “allowed nepotism, conflict of interest and brazen plundering of public land to promote commercial and business interests of entities close to the daughter of the then Revenue Minister present chief minister Anandiben Patel.” Sharma said, “Allotment of 250 acres of government land next to the Gir lion sanctuary without any valuation or price determination for a pittance was in gross violation of all known procedures and regulations governing allocation of public land in eco sensitive zones.”

“The land was allotted to Wildwoods Resorts & Realties for setting up a resort. The promoters of this firm are close business associates of Anar Patel, the daughter of the current Gujarat CM”, he said, adding, “The estimated market price of this land was to the tune of Rs.50 lakh per acre i.e. a total of Rs 125 crore for 250 acres, but the total amount paid was just Rs 1.25 crore.” Even even AAP and Congress went public, twitterati criticized the land allocation. Arun Nambiar said, “Hema Malini and Anandiben now in massive Land Scams!”, and Vinod Mehta said, “Adani paid Re1 per Sqm for thousands of acres Land by Modi. Anandiben’s daughter paid Rs15 per metres. Some improvement!”…



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2008 Malegaon blasts: NIA under fire from former prosecutor as it seeks to drop MCOCA charges (Feb 4, 2016, Scroll.in)

“It is a political move,” former special counsel for National Investigation Agency, Rohini Salian said, when asked for a response to the NIA informing a special court that it intended to drop charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against the 11 accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts. The NIA requested the court on Tuesday that the framing of charges against the accused, including Lt Col Srikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, be deferred until it receives an opinion from the Attorney General whether charges under MCOCA could be dropped.

“How can they ask the Attorney General? How is he concerned with the case? The matter is sub judice (pending in court) and the case is at framing of charges. The court should decide the charges now. This is all politics. I have disassociated myself from the case now. They are cheating everyone (the society),” Salian said.

Salian, however, added that even if the stringent MCOCA charges were to be dropped, the case will not collapse and will stand on the basis of witnesses who have spoken of various conspiracy meetings. Salian had charged last year that she had been under pressure from the NIA to go “soft” in the case since “the new government came to power” in May 2014.…



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2002 riots displaced demand amenities (Feb 5, 2016, Times of India)

Fourteen years after losing their homes from the communal riots of 2002, internally displaced persons staged a demonstration on Thursday before the district collectorate, to protest the absence of even basic amenities in rehabilitation colonies. They demanded improved conditions in such camps and the inclusion of these in the state’s development policies.

Hundreds gathered under the aegis of Visthapit Ladat Samiti and demonstrated in protest at the government’s apathy towards 83 rehabilitation colonies in 12 districts. More than 3,000 families lives in these colonies. They demanded that basic amenities – water connections and sewerage lines – be provided to residents of these rehabilitation colonies.

They have also been demanding ownership of the houses they have been occupying for more than 13 years now. “These houses were constructed by NGOs, but ownership is not given to the beneficiaries. As the property is not in our names, we cannot even get credit or other benefits. We even face problems in establishing proof of residence,” said a protester, Samir Sodawala from Halol in Panchmahal.



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History textbooks being changed to convert India into a Hindu nation, alleges Pawar (Feb 5, 2016, First Post)

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday alleged that attempts were being made to convert India into a “Hindu Rashtra” distorting history in school textbooks and implored historians to come together and “pen the truth” for the sake of generation next.

“Some people are working with an intention of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra by distorting history in school textbooks. This will prove to be dangerous as this will harm the secular fabric of the country,” Pawar said while addressing a seminar at YB Chavan in Mumbai.

He said that an awareness needs to be created among the youth that some people are trying to “corrupt” their minds to spread poison in the society. “Articles need to be written, discussions should take place on this issue as it is a grave matter,” he said.…



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At last, justice for custodial death victim’s family (Feb 1, 2016, The Hindu)

Judge Shridhar Bhosale at the City Civil Court and Sessions Court on Saturday convicted four police constables charged with the murder of 20-year-old Aniket Khicchi, the son of vegetable vendor parents, to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 each. This is the first successful conviction in a custodial death case in Maharashtra.

On October 26, 2013, Aniket Khicchi, was out with his friends to watch a movie when the Vanrai police picked him up and charged him with robbery for allegedly stealing a laptop from Goregaon Sports Complex. A day later, Aniket died, allegedly after being assaulted by police constables. His post mortem report showed head injuries and congestion in the lungs.

The Bombay High Court had recently observed that as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Maharashtra recorded 354 custodial deaths from 1999 to 2014, the highest in the country. Of these, 106 were police custody deaths, while the rest (248) happened in judicial custody (jail). Shockingly, in 15 years, only 13 First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed. Only five policemen were charge-sheeted, and there were zero convictions.…



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Deoband bypoll: If I get elected, they will feel our terror, says BJP leader Rampal Singh (Feb 6, 2016, Indian Express)

When Muzaffarnagar faced riots in 2013, the neighbouring Deoband, another Muslim-dominated area with the seat of the seminary Dar-ul-Uloom, remained quiet. Deoband does not see communal clashes, but BJP believes that the February 13 byelection here is a fight “between Hindus and Muslims”.

The party candidate, former RSS Pracharak Rampal Singh Pundhir, asserts his agenda: restoration of Hindu pride vis-a-vis Muslims. Pundhir says that if he gets elected, “Ek bhay hoga unke andar. Hamara terror hoga unke upar, unke gundon par (Muslims will feel scared. They and their hooligans will feel our terror)”.…

“Threat to Hindus? Who said? May be due to elections, some people are spreading lies,” says Praveen Kumar of Praveen Jewellers. Curiously, an election pamphlet of Pundhir is pasted at Kumar’s shop. He’s a BJP voter, not a member though.” “I am here for 35 years. Muslims and Hindus live here in harmony,” says Rajiv Kumar of Rajiv Medical Store. The BJP doesn’t believe this.…



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Muslim personal law founded on Quran, SC can’t question it: Jamiat (Feb 6, 2016, Times of India)

Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, the powerful body of Muslim clerics, has said that Muslim personal law flows from the Holy Quran and cannot be subjected to any scrutiny by the Supreme Court based on principles of the Constitution.

“Mohammedan law is founded essentially on the Holy Quran and this cannot fall within the purview of the expression ‘laws in force’ as mentioned in Article 13 of the Constitution, and hence its validity cannot be tested on a challenge based on Part-III of the Constitution (guaranteeing fundamental rights, including right to equality),” the JUH application filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool said. …

Last year, while entertaining a petition, a two-judge bench of Justices A R Dave and Adarsh Goel had directed registration of a separate PIL to consider the rights of Muslim women as there was no safeguard against arbitrary divorce (triple talaq) and second marriage by Muslim men during subsistence of their first marriage. The court had issued notice to the attorney general and National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa).



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‘The policemen hit us with all they had’: PhD student claims Delhi Police brutally beat students and tore their clothes during Rohith Vemula protest (Feb 1, 2016, Daily Mail)

Shweta Raj, a PhD student from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), had never seen such brutality. Shweta was among the hundreds of protestors who were allegedly assaulted by Delhi Police personnel on January 30. Recalling the incident, she said: “From lathis to boots, the policemen hit us with all they had. Forget gender, they treated each one of us in the most inhuman manner.”

A video clip that went viral on Monday shows how Delhi police personnel, along with few ‘unknown’ men in plain clothes, attacked the protesters outside the RSS office in Jhandewalan. Students from various varsities across Delhi were agitating against the alleged delay in justice for Rohith Vemula, the 26-year-old Hyderabad university research scholar who committed suicide last month.

Shweta pointed out the absence of female police officers in the crackdown on protestors. “No female police officers were present there. This is not the first time that we have protested, but we have never witnessed such brutality. There is a way to deal with protestors. Policemen have become goons,” Shweta said. Shweta said the police atrocity was far worse than what was captured in the video clip.… Protesters have alleged that some RSS members first joined the protest and then attacked students along with the police. The RSS has, however, denied the allegations.



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Caste came up in 3 suicide probes at Hyderabad University (Feb 8, 2016, Indian Express)

The University of Hyderabad had all the warning it needed before Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula committed suicide last month. Three red flags, in the form of three suicides by Dalit students within six years. And three probes that arrived at the same conclusion: this was no campus for the marginalised.

The HRD Ministry wants a judicial commission to probe the events that led to the suicide on January 17 of Vemula, who was among five Dalits suspended by the university for allegedly assaulting an ABVP leader. But the findings of the three committees that probed the three suicides on campus between 2008 and 2014 were clear: the Dalit students faced a “sense of alienation” and “institutional discrimination” owing to “caste consideration”.

One of those committees, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice K Ramaswamy, stated in its report: “Because of the insensitivity towards problems faced by the students belonging to the aforesaid social groups, frequent occurrences of suicides are taking place.”…



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Dalit Rights: Bureaucracy Treated me Like an Untouchable, Says Ex-IAS Officer Sivakami (Feb 4, 2016, New Indian Express)

As the suicide of Rohith Vemula puts the focus back on the contentious issue of Dalit rights, former IAS officer and author P. Sivakami says that the community is denied even the minimum human rights. The critically acclaimed author and former bureaucrat said she quit in 2008 after being treated like an untouchable.

Sivakami, who was in the Indian Administrative Service for 28 years, told IANS that her decision was fuelled by the realisation that Dalits have no place in nation-building. With more than eight books to her credit, Sivakami is among India’s most prominent Dalit writers. Her first book, “In The Grip of Change”, had created a stir as it questions patriarchy in the Dalit movement.

“Both the political class and bureaucracy work together against the Dalits. During my service, though my position was next to the minister in the state I was serving in, I had to struggle for basic rights for tribals. I was dubbed as a person who belongs to the community when I was working for their welfare. It amounted to untouchability. I realised that there was an unwritten law against people from the lower community,” said Sivakami, whose last posting was secretary of the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department in Tamil Nadu.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Dear Mr Doval, we need to talk about Hindutva terror – By Ajaz Ashraf (Feb 4, 2016, Scroll.in)

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has won accolades for his patriotism manifest in the many risky missions…. His experience is precisely why we would want to know from him, or the Intelligence Bureau he once headed, whether or not the violence that mushrooming militant Hindu groups indulge in imperils the nation’s security.… It is, therefore, surprising that we haven’t had the Intelligence Bureau brief the media on the security threat posed to the nation by the saffron or Hindutva or Hindu terror, regardless of whichever term is appropriate. Its silence on Hindutva terror and vigilantism appear puzzling.…

There is no denying that Hindutva has become increasingly menacing. There hasn’t been a week in the last 18 months when a story on one or the other Hindu militant groups resorting to violence somewhere in the country has not featured in the media. Some of these groups are freshly minted. True, they don’t toss grenades or fire bullets, but they aim to terrorise people who more often than not happen to be religious minorities and marginalised groups.…

It is possible that the Intelligence Bureau perceives Hindu radicals as benign because they don’t target the state but the people. But a state found wanting in protecting its citizens ultimately undermines its own foundation. This is why Ajit Doval must provide the nation with his perspective on the security challenges that extremist Hindus pose, because, frankly speaking, a good many people believe they have had enough of them.



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Ishrat Jahan & Ruling Class Pseudo Nationalism – By Archana Prasad (Feb 21, 2016, Peoples Democracy)

Jingo patriotism and pseudo right wing RSS nationalists have found a suitable partner in CIA double agent David Coleman Headley who has been given clemency in return for turning ‘approver’ in the 26/11 case. This cover for Headley has given him the license to make claims that are politically suitable for the ruling regime and that help it to wipe out the taint that Modi accumulated as chief minister of Gujarat.

As part of this exercise, the public prosecutor claims that Headley has given evidence to suggest that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar ‘suicide bomber’. Using this statement, the BJP has said that the Modi government stands vindicated and that it is now proved that the encounter killing Ishrat Jahan was not fake. This reliance on the so-called testimony of a double agent and a participant in planning the 26/11 attacks speaks volumes for ‘the nationalist position’ of the Hindu Right.

The fact that the Hindu Right gives more credibility to Headley and less to the CBI and a magisterial enquiry of the government shows that they have scant respect for the law. Hence it is important to remind ourselves about the nature of the case and the facts that had come out of the magisterial enquiry.…



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What Is So Smart About The City You Live In? – By Deepti Sreeram (Feb 16, 2016, Tehelka)

…When urbanisation gradually spread its wings over prime cities, it came as no surprise that the cities would have an ‘old city’ as a counterpart to its relatively smarter ‘other’. In Delhi, for instance, ‘old Delhi’, formerly known as Shahjahanabad, is a relic of its illustrious past and a home to most of the city’s historical attractions. Until recently, the vocabulary to explain a city rested upon this binary of the old/new. But now, if the recent list is to be believed, at least some cities are going to be rechristened as ‘smarter’ versions come up.

Carrying a tagline of a ‘Modified Gujarat’, the picture was used as a token to represent the urban development that was underway in the state. However, within days, the photograph showing a well-lit BRTS flanked by wide lanes was found to be a picture of China’s BRTS . Yet despite such efforts at eye-washing, the writing on the wall was clear. When the results were declared, the ‘Rurban’ model of Gujarat was set to replace the UPA’s ten-year old scheme of Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA).

The seeds of the ‘smart city mission’ were thus laid once the Gujarat model of development became a rallying point for the BJP. Soon after victory, the Modi government announced the ‘100 Smart Cities Plan’ by promising to allocate a whopping 70.6 billion rupees to it.…



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The Scream Of Lotus Buds – By Uttam Sengupta, Ushinor Majumdar (Feb 8, 2016, Outlook)

In the last month and a half, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has been responsible, directly or indirectly, for the suicide of research scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, for the abandonment of a symposium on ‘Democracy, Media and Freedom of Exression’ in Allahabad and for the termination of services of IIT-BHU guest faculty and Magasaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey in Varanasi. The student body of the RSS-BJP has been on an overdrive since the NDA government took charge in May 2014.

It has taken on critics of the Modi government, often calling them anti-national, as, on one pretext or the other, it intervened to stop plays, films, seminars, festivals and lectures that challenged its views. Violence or threat of violence has been used with increasing frequency, but the police has generally looked the other way.…

AISA vice-president Farhan Ahmad echoes the sentiment, alleging that the ABVP is thriving on “money and muscle power”. But while the prime minister, BJP chief Amit Shah and HRD minister Smriti Irani pose for photographs with ABVP leaders and hold discussions with them, none of them has spared a word to rein it in or condemn its irresponsible behaviour, as in Allahabad.…



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Rule of the lathi – Editorial (Feb 3, 2016, Indian Express)

The brutality of the police action on students who gathered outside the RSS headquarters in New Delhi to protest Rohith Vemula’s death on January 30 raises questions about the manner in which public protests are dealt with by law enforcers.

A video of the agitation – instrumental in the incident receiving widespread attention – shows lathi-wielding policemen raining blows on unarmed students. Some civilians – Delhi Police has clarified they were not policemen in plain clothes – too joined the policemen in beating up the students.…

The rule is that minimum force must be used to disperse a crowd. This calls for skillful leadership and a force trained to be discreet about the use of violence. By all accounts, that’s rarely the case in India, across states and political dispensations.…



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Rohith’s Living Legacy – Editorial (Feb 6, 2016, EPW)

Students have played a vital role in the politics of modern India, shaping its destiny at crucial moments, both during the freedom struggle as well as in the seven decades since independence. The countrywide movement which has emerged in the wake of the tragic death of Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad is perhaps one such movement which will alter the nature of India’s polity for the better.

As EPW has noted earlier (“Death by Discrimination,” 23 January 2016), Rohith’s suicide was triggered in conditions where the university, as an institution, bared itself as a political partisan punishing Dalit students by using the methods of social discrimination. There was already a student agitation in the university against this partisanship which had united all organisations other than the Hindutva fundamentalists.…

Yet what has emerged in the weeks since he took his final, mortal step has been an unprecedented blossoming of rebellion against discrimination on India’s campuses. Unheralded by any particular organisation, this movement has brought students across castes and other social and political divides together to demand an end to discrimination in institutions of higher learning.…



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