IAMC Weekly News Roundup - January 12th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 12th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

After communal row, Hindus, Muslims join hands, demand justice for each other (Jan 6, 2015, Times of India)

From the communal cauldron of UP, here’s a heartwarming story of Hindu-Muslim amity. Nai ki Mandi was the site of violence during the Barawafat procession on Sunday, to mark the birthday of Prophet Mohammad. On Tuesday, however, Hindus and Muslims rallied together in the area. While Muslim shopkeepers urged police to release the two Hindus arrested on Sunday, Hindus gathered at the spot to demand proper security for Muslim shopkeepers. This show of solidarity even moved the cops who decided to release the arrested shopkeepers late in the evening.

Tension had prevailed in the area on Sunday when a scuffle broke out between two groups after a dangling electricity wire allegedly touched a vehicle in the Barawafat procession. While one group alleged that the wire was deliberately kept loose with the intention of interrupting the procession, the other group claimed that it was because of the procession that electricity wires in the city got disturbed. The situation worsened when a few miscreants started pelting stones. Police had to intervene and FIRs were duly lodged against almost 500 persons for rioting and breach of peace.

However, on Tuesday, the area presented a picture of communal amity that would have moved even a die-hard skeptic. Over 300 people, both Hindus and Muslims, joined hands to demand justice for each other. Muslim shopkeepers met senior police officials and requested them to release the two Hindu businessmen, Haresh Singh, a cable TV operator and PD Gupta, a jeweler, claiming they were innocent. “Those who started the violence were outsiders. They took their procession inside our market and created a ruckus. As far as we are concerned, police have arrested our innocent brothers and we will not rest till we get them released,” said Shabbir Quadri, president of the Nai ki Mandi market association. …


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World must act against Hindu plan for India without Christians, Muslims (Jan 4, 2015, UCAN India)

On December 18, India’s National Minorities Day, Rajeshwar Singh, the head of the Dharm Jagran Manch [Faith awakening forum] declared on national television news channels that his organization had set a 2021 deadline to cleanse India of “alien Islam and Christianity”.

Another group said Christians would not be allowed in Himalayan regions that are sacred to Hindus. The hate speeches went viral on social media, and then in major newspapers across the country. The Indian government has not indicated whether Singh is being prosecuted under India’s strict laws against religious discord.

So far the laws have been largely used to target Christian pastors, and in recent months, Muslim youths venting their anger against the government on Facebook. Meanwhile, members of the Council of Ministers and spokesmen for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which controls many Indian state governments, have been vocal in support of the Sangh Parivar.…



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Narendra Modi’s silence on provocative statements a strategy of polarisation, says Sonia Gandhi (Jan 13, 2015, Indian Express)

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and charged that the NDA government has “dictatorial” tendencies even as her party’s leaders met here to draw up a strategy for painting the ruling alliance as being “anti farmer”.

In her opening remarks at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s apex decision-making body, Sonia accused the prime minister of “ignoring provocative statements and speeches” by members of his Cabinet as well as BJP leaders and alleged that it was a continuation of the “strategy of polarisation” adopted during Lok Sabha polls.

With the party facing a depleting support base ever since its debacle in the general elections last year, Sonia asked senior leaders to “propose ways and means to reach out to the masses” at the meeting which was held to deliberate on plans for holding nationwide agitations against the land ordinance and other farmer issues.…



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Abhishek Banerjee slapgate incident: Was the attacker an RSS sympathiser? (Jan 5, 2015, DNA India)

A day after Debasish Acharya slapped Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee, the Bengal police have claimed he is an ‘RSS supporter’. However, doubts can be raised over police’s claims of Acharya’s links with the RSS.

Till a day ago, Acharya was being identified as a Trinamool Congress supporter and speculations were rife that he was a supporter of Trinamool leader Suvendu Adhikari, the party MP from Midnapore’s Tamluk. However, Adhikari had dismissed all such allegations.

According to sleuths, Acharya had attended an ABVP (youth wing of BJP) meeting on January 2 and spent a substantial amount of time at Baba Ramdev’s ashram in Haridwar. Acharya had even put up at a rented house in Contai, whose landlord is an RSS sympathiser.…



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Muslim body wants CCB, NIA to come clean on raids (Jan 12, 2015, Deccan Herald)

Majlis-e-Islah wa Tanzeem, a social organisation run by Bhatkal Muslims, has demanded that the CCB and the NIA which had arrested a few terror suspects from Bhatkal and had seized explosives four days ago, should come clean on a few issues.

It has sought to know why local leaders were not taken into confidence if the raid party knew that explosives were stored in a house in the town. Why were neighbours and the local media not informed during the raids, the Tanzeem wants to know.

It has sought to know what did the bag taken inside the house, with the help of the local police, contain.What was the need for the raid party to remain inside the small house for seven to eight hours by closing the door? the Tanzeem says. It now plans to submit memoranda to the chief minister.



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BJP fomenting communal hatred in India, allege Left leaders (Jan 10, 2015, Free Press Journal)

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar today critiqued the BJP rule and said that the party is “fomenting” communal hatred in the country. Bhartiya Janta Party is the biggest money laundering group of the country. BJP and RSS are two sides of the same coin. Both the parties have one point programme of fomenting communal hatred and thus gain power, he said at a three-day conference of CPI(M) here.

The four-time Chief Minister also condemned the party over the reconversion issue. The ‘Ghar Vaapsi’ programme of converting Muslims and others to Hinduism being executed by RSS could only be possible with blessings of BJP-led central government, Sarkar said.

Addressing the gathering of senior communist leaders, Prakash Karat claimed that a check on activities of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other Hindu fascist powers was necessary to keep the country united. Subhaisini Ali, CPI(M)’s central committee member stated that her party condemns inviting US President Barack Obama on the Republic Day and will stage a country wide protest against the visit.



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Muzaffarnagar riots: Eight accused arrested in Kutba killings (Jan 7, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Eight more persons have been arrested in connection with communal killings at Kutba village during Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, police said on Wednesday. The accused identified as Devender, Amit, Pappu, Vinod, Shalu, Manoj, Gullu and Narender, who were absconding since the riots, were arrested and produced in the court here on Tuesday, they said.

The court has sent them to 14-day judicial custody, police said adding that the court had initiated attachment proceedings against these accused in connection with the case. On December 15 last year, four persons were arrested while six more were arrested on December 13 in connection with this case.

According to the prosecution, eight people including a woman were killed and 20 were injured during riots at Kutba village under Shahpur police station in the district on September 8, 2013. Several houses were also gutted during the incident. … The communal clashes which took place in the district on September 2013, had claimed more than 60 lives and rendered thousands of people homeless.



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Ghar Wapsi: Owaisi locks horns with Hindu outfits, says there’s no forced conversion in Islam (Jan 5, 2015, Indian Express)

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has stirred a controversy with remarks that every child is born a Muslim as he locked horns with right-wing Hindu outfits over their ‘ghar wapsi’ programme. “Every child is born a Muslim. His parents and society convert him to other religions,” Owaisi said, apparently in a tit-for-tat to hardline Hindu organisations which have been claiming that ancestors of all Indians were Hindus.

“Islam is the real home of all religions. There is no forced conversion in Islam. It is you who need to come home, but we can’t give you money for that,” the Hyderabad MP said on Saturday night on the eve of Eid Milad Un-Nabi, the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammed. Video footages were carried by TV news channels on Monday. …

As his comments triggered a row, Owaisi said it is a part of his “belief system” that Islam is the real home of all religions. “It was a public speech. It was a celebration of Prophet Mohammad. I said these things in a 90-minute speech. It is our belief system. “In a democracy, I have the permission to put forth my views. You are free to disagree. I am not pushing it down somebody’s throat,” he said.



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Muslim group opens helpline to tackle Surya Namaskar ‘diktat’ (Jan 6, 2015, Hindustan Times)

The government’s recent directive of getting students in educational institutions to perform Surya Namaskar on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on January 12 has met with strong objection from a section of the Muslim community. The Muslim group has also introduced a helpline where students who are compelled to perform the Surya Namaskar can get in touch with legal experts.

“We received a lot of complaints last year where Muslim students were compelled to perform Surya Namaskar much against the High Court decision,” said Masood Khan, coordinator of the MP chapter of Coordination Committee for Indian Muslim (CCIM).

Khan said Bhopal had a large population of Muslims and several schools in Old City area comprised of more than 90% Muslim students. Reports from last year stated that students from these schools were compelled to perform Surya Namaskar, in violation of the High Court order.…



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67-year-old ‘godman’ molests 17-year-old girl in Mumbai’s suburb, held (Jan 6, 2015, Times of India)

A 67-year-old self-proclaimed godman was arrested by the Charkop police on Monday after a teenager complained that he had been sexually harassing her. Police officials said the accused, Anil Bharate, is well educated and has penned a couple of books. He has a large number of followers. Investigations are on to ascertain if any other girls had been harassed in a similar manner.

The victim is 17 and is a college-goer. Her 48-year-old aunt, a former banker and Bharate’s neighbour, was influenced by the latter’s discourses. She convinced the victim’s parents to send her to serve Bharate and become his follower. She added that Bharate would pay for the girl’s higher education. Accordingly, the girl’s parents got her admission into a prominent college at Virar. Bharate owned a 2-BHK flat at Virar where he asked the girl to live with him.

“The girl was living in Bharate’s house for a year. But for the past two months, he had begun harassing her. He would insist that she share the same bed as him and would touch her inappropriately. She eventually fled from the flat and went to her uncle’s place. After she broke down and narrated the goings-on to her uncle, he brought her to the Charkop police station, in whose jurisdiction she lived, on Sunday,” said an official. A case was registered against Barate under sections 354 and 509 of IPC for molestation, besides provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The girl was sent for a medical examination. …



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Dalit couple hacked to death as police fail to carry out court orders (Jan 6, 2015, Deccan Chronicle)

A young Dalit couple from Punjab were stabbed to death by the girl’s relatives despite the police being ordered to protect them. Sandeep Rani (24) and his wife Khushboo (22) had known that their lives were at risk after getting married without permission, so they asked police for protection, which they were denied. Rani’s family then went to the Punjab and Haryana High Court where a judge ordered the police to provide the couple with security.

Rani married Khushboo against her parent’s wishes. The Punjab and Haryana High Court later granted an order giving them police protection. Three months later, when they returned to their village, they were attacked by five men. The 24-year- old’s father, Parkash, too was stabbed when he tried to protect his son. His wife claimed Khushboo’s father was among the killers.

Rani’s mother, Udham Kaur, said when the couple then went back to the police to seek protection they ‘refused’ to honour the court order. After returning to their village in Hoshiarpur district the couple continued to receive death threats, so they went to stay with friends. When the couple briefly returned to their home in Mugowal village near Chandigarh, the couple were attacked and killed by five masked men carrying swords and knives.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Soldiers of the Swastika – By A. G. Noorani (Jan 23, 2015, Frontline)

As one stalwart after another of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) raises the decibel level in his screams for the various planks of the Hindutva campaign, overpaid, undereducated TV anchors, besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fawning fans in the print media, the corporate world and elsewhere, shuffle in their seats in deep embarrassment and cry in unison: “Modiji must distance himself from all this. It will harm his ‘development programme’.” … They forget that Modi spent all his life in the service of the RSS as a pracharak, an active promoter. He is himself one of the lot and thinks and speaks no differently from them. He cannot bridle the hard core, Modi himself is the hard core. …

Whether the willing dupes accept this or not, everyone who cares for India’s democracy ought to sit up and take notice of the trends of which these developments are but a part-the pulverisation of the Cabinet system, the gag on Ministers, the remoteness of the supreme leader, and attacks on the independence of the civil service. The BJP itself is a creature of a fascist body, the RSS. Meanwhile, in the last decade or so, the RSS has riveted its control over the BJP. The working of the Constitution will be distorted if the ruling party is a front of a fascist body.

That the RSS was a fascist body was known to all. Donald Eugene Smith recalled in his definitive work India as a Secular State that “Nehru once remarked that Hindu communalism was the Indian version of fascism, and, in the case of the RSS, it is not difficult to perceive certain similarities. The leader principle, the stress on militarism, the doctrine of racial-cultural superiority, ultra-nationalism infused with religious idealism, the use of symbols of past greatness, the emphasis on national solidarity, the exclusion of religious or ethnic minorities from the nation-concept-all of these features of the RSS are highly reminiscent of fascist movements in Europe. …

A nation’s ethos is reflected in the historical narrative it adopts and in the men it lauds as its heroes. Modi has chosen two men of the Sangh Parivar for the award of Bharat Ratna. Why not Gopal Krishna Gokhale, pray? Or Dadabhai Naoroji? In this pattern fall the praise of Gita alone, the conversions, the abuse, the violence and the orchestrated praise for Godse. More sinister still is the erosion of the divide between the party and the state and the reduction of Cabinet Ministers and civil servants to mere factotums. The form of the administration is being changed. But it is the Constitution that is under attack.



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What’s The Plan? – By Lola Nayar (Jan 19, 2015, Outlook)

As promised in his Independence Day speech last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the nation a new year gift: a spanking new think-tank to replace the Planning Commission (PlanCom). But strangely, the sense of unshackling that the archiving of a 65-year-old institution should bring is completely missing. There are too many questions, doubts and queries about the new entity, the National Institution for Trasforming India or the NITI Aayog. Even economist Bibek Debroy-one of the three experts chosen to steer the new-fangled think-tank-had some pertinent questions about it, right on the morning of his appointment. He declined to suggest possible answers to his posers, but had tweeted that while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, he had been “thinking of seven answers”.

Perhaps that was prudent. T.C.A. Srinivas Raghavan, an economist-columnist, had earlier tweeted to Debroy that he was “looking forward to your duels with your boss”-that would be right-leaning economist Arvind Pana¬gariya, who, with his guru, economist Jagdish Bhagwati, had famously written to The Economist magazine a year ago that the 2002 post-Godhra pogroms against Muslims in Gujarat were “communal riots”, in which a quarter of the people killed were Hindus.

Debroy is not alone in his pursuit of answers; political economists and civil society activists are equally uneasy about how the NITI Aayog might pan out. “We still don’t know what authority it holds,” says N.C. Saxena, former PlanCom secretary. “If it’s the same as the former PlanCom, this amounts to a mere name change.” He fears that if the NITI Aayog is not vested with constitutional authority-as seems to be the case so far-the think-tank will deteriorate and eventually become a parking lot for retired bureaucrats and defeated politicians. …



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Meenakshipuram, 33 years on: Muslims happy, Hindus not – By A Ganesh Nadar (Jan 12, 2015, Rediff)

In 1981, Meenakshipuram, a small village near Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, leapt into the national limelight when half the Dalits there converted from Hinduism to Islam.

Now 33 years later, those who converted to Islam say they are happy, but don’t want anyone to know and those who remained Hindus say they are not and want everyone to know.

In Meenakshipuram you will find neighbours, belonging to different religions, but from the same family.…



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The Protest Against PK Movie Is Also Terrorism – By Aakshi Magazine (Jan 2, 2015, Tehelka)

“Kaheen yeh PK Parvez Khan ya Pasha Kamal toh nahi?” This is what Saurabh Shukla’s god man Tapasvi says in Rajkumar Hirani’s latest film PK, accusing the man who dared question him of being motivated by his religion. The sinister tone and implication of the sentence is easily recognizable and hits home. In the days prior to its release, the filmmakers had guarded the theme closely, perhaps anticipating the kind of reaction the film is now getting. So when people entered the cinema hall last Friday, expecting another “feel good” film as someone called PK on Facebook, the film they saw must have surprised them a bit.

This was not “feel good” at all, this was threatening to question what seemed to be becoming a dominant discourse of the times we live in. After all in the last few months, the issues that have made news have been love jihad, religious conversions and good governance day. A week after its release, real life follows reel. The reel character Tapasvi’s sentiment is now being exactly repeated by real life VHP and Bajrang Dal members on television, on the internet and on the streets. They attack Aamir Khan, the actor. He should not have dared question Hinduism, he should have instead mocked the religion he belonged to himself, they say.

Logic is not part of this argument. Aamir Khan is neither the director nor the writer, and not even the producer or dialogue writer of the film. The film itself is not questioning any one religion, but rituals and the manipulation of religion by godmen. At the same time, in its subtle way, what it does argue against is a version of Hinduism which is majoritarian and exclusive, violent and intolerant. In the scene where Tapasvi attacks PK, Hirani actually anticipated the criticism his choice of lead actor could generate. In a way it makes the film’s argument stronger. …

But there is something else that PK can make us think about. And this is the way we have vastly different standards of looking at Hindu fundamentalism and Muslim fundamentalism. What is unique about PK is that it looks within and talks about the fundamentalism of the majority, a fundamentalism which we are taught to see as less dangerous than Muslim fundamentalism. In the film, the trishul marks on Boman Irani’s TV editor’s body are terrorizing him enough for him to give up the idea of doing any news story that questions religion. That is a bold statement to make. This too is terror with a force of its own, dangerous because it has legitimacy now, being backed by the state. As the protests against PK seem to be taking to the streets calling for a boycott and ban, it is high time all of us realized this.



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Agenda of RSS in Indian Science Congress – By Dinesh Abrol (Jan 11, 2015, Peoples Democracy)

For the first time in the Indian Science Congress in its 102 years history, the organisers held a symposium on “Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit”. Seven papers presented over the five-hour session were invited by the Department of Sanskrit, Mumbai University, and Kavi Kulaguru Kalidas University, and reviewed by the Mumbai University’s Department of Sanskrit. Evidence of ancient aviation in the Rigveda was claimed in a paper co-authored by Captain Anand Bodas, retired head of a pilot training centre, and Ameya Jadhav, a teacher. The paper talked about the existence of interplanetary aircraft in India around 9000 years ago. It had references to “cosmic connection” and a phenomenon explained in terms of “fusion of science and spirituality due to inter-penetration law”. Proof for the claim for the author was some Sanskrit text called Vymanika Shastra written 7000 years ago. There were also other outlandish claims made at the Symposium like the existence of a cow carrying a bacteria in its body which enables it to turn whatever it consumes into pure 24 carat gold, helmet on Mars from Mahabharata days, autopsies were being conducted in ancient days by leaving the dead bodies to float in water for three days and Pythagoras’ Theorem invented in India, not Greece. …

An online petition launched by Dr Ramprasad Gandhiraman, a scientist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ames Research Centre and the Universities Space Research Association in California, signed already by over 1175 professionals, suggests quite correctly that providing a scientific platform in a prestigious scientific conference for a pseudo-scientific talk is appalling. It questions the integrity of scientific process. This petition also notes that this talk is not an isolated incident to shrug off. It also refers to how a Google search with keywords “Indian prime minister plastic surgery”, “Indian home minister Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle”, “Indian health minister sex education ban”, “Gujarat school books science myths” etc., will give plenty of alarming developments happening over six months.

The petition pleads that “We as scientific community should be seriously concerned about the infiltration of pseudoscience in science curricula with backing of influential political parties. The accelerated pace with which it is being promoted will seriously undermine nation’s science and it will have a disastrous effect on the future generation scientists. Giving a scientific platform for a pseudo-science talk is worse than a systematic attack that has been carried out by politically powerful pseudo-science propagandists in the recent past. Scientific temper and the accompanying curiosity to understand the universe has always existed throughout human history. Today, we live in an era which has seen amazing technological advancement. And we are able to understand our universe in a way that is far superior than our ancestors did at any point of time in history. Pseudo-science does a great disservice to science and it is the responsibility of scientists to stand up and defend the science.” The petition closes with the plea, “If we scientists remain passive, we are betraying not only the science but also our children”.



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Man In The Shadow – By Saba Naqvi (Jan 19, 2015, Outlook)

The mirror has cracked from side to side for Shashi Tharoor, that suave writer, diplomat, politician known for flicking back his hair and talking in a polished accent. He has walked, talked and tweeted his way out of many scandals and even a few scams in the past. But the strange case of the death of his third wife Sunanda Pushkar exactly a year ago seems set to stalk him. The dead do tell some tales, it seems. Now the police is acting on an autopsy report that suggests possible traces of a lethal poison called Polonium-210 in her body.

After a great deal of confusion, we now know a year after the death that it’s not sparkling cyanide or a fit of rage that killed her but perhaps a poison we’ve heard of only in high-profile international murders. The case has certainly moved into the zone of mysteries that otherwise inhabit the world of fiction. It is Agatha Christieland out there in the case that swirls around Tharoor: beautiful women, dead beautiful woman, body in a lush hotel, a famous husband (him), suggestions of scandal and personal indiscretions, untraceable poison. …

That’s how the couple lived for the four highly publicised years of their marriage: beautifully turned out, from cocktail party to book launch, tweeting away nuggets of a life they tried to variously project as glamorous, meaningful, beautiful, happening and surrounded by the halo of true love. Indeed, Shashi would in his book dedication describe Sunanda as the greatest love of his life. The Sunanda-Shashi story truly is a fit case for the use of cliches – life would be stranger than fiction, cocktail season would turn into a morbid cocktail and what have you. Given the kind of hysterics that preceded Sunanda’s death in a seven-star hotel, one can indeed say that it was a long hangover, the crash after the party has pooped, a mercurial change that happens when people seek great highs after which they hit the lows.



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