IAMC Weekly News Roundup - January 19th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 19th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

“The Economist” recalls Modi role in 2002 Gujarat riots, questions his silence on RSS-backed ghar vapsi (Jan 18, 2015, Counterview.net)

In a hard-hitting commentary, the influential British weekly, “The Economist”, qualifying the whole RSS-Sangh Parivar “ghar vapsi” (home coming) “offensive” and “threatening” to Indian Muslims and Christians, and “highly contentious”, has sharply questioned Modi’s “reticence” on the issue. The top weekly believes, while some reports want one believe that Modi tried to rein in the hardliners, the fact is, he cannot hope to antagonize them. After all, it is they solidly stood with Modi when he was “shunned internationally” following the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“It was the BJP’s right wing and RSS activists that stayed with him and provided the platform for his campaign”, the weekly says, adding, “He is in their debt, and also needs them to keep getting the vote out in state and national elections.” In its commentary in the print edition dated January 17, underlines, yet “another explanation for Modi’s silence is that he agrees with them, if not with their methods. He, after all, is an RSS veteran, steeped in its teachings.”

Titled “The Hindutva rate of growth”, “The Economist” wonders what made John Kerry, US secretary of state, say, when he attended Vibrant Gujarat Investors’ Summit (January 12-13) that he “hoped the Gujarat experience could be ‘extrapolated’ to the rest of India”, going so far as to call Modi a “visionary prime minister”. In a sarcastically remarks, “It seems churlish and irrelevant to recall that a decade ago America refused Modi a visa because of his failure to prevent appalling communal violence, mostly directed at the Muslim minority, in Gujarat in 2002.”…



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Three burnt to death as mob torches houses in Bihar village, CM Manjhi orders probe (Jan 19, 2015, Hindustan Times)

At least three persons were burnt to death after a mob set on fire around a dozen houses at Bahilwada Bhuwal village in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Sunday following the recovery of a youth’s body. …

Atul Prasad, a Bihar state administrator, said a minority community was blamed for the killing of the boy who was friendly with a Muslim girl from the village, 105km north of Patna. Family members of Bhartendu had lodged an FIR with Saraiya police station, alleging that the boy had been kidnapped by relatives of the girl.

As soon as the news spread, a mob gathered near Vikki’s residence and torched it along with other houses, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ranjeet Kumar Mishra said. The situation took an ugly turn when a group, angry with the news about Bhartendu’s death, attacked the house of the accused. “Following retaliation, the attackers went on the rampage and set 10 houses belonging to another group on fire. Around 15 vehicles were also gutted,” said a villager.…



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Communal clashes spark after kite fight in Bharuch; claim two lives (Jan 15, 2015, Indian Express)

Two passers-by were killed and ten seriously injured in Hansot village of Bharuch district in the aftermath of riots that broke out after a kite fight in the neighbouring Ambeta village in the same district Wednesday morning.

Sources told The Indian Express, that it all began after a Muslim boy was reportedly beaten up in Ambeta village for catching a kite. Later, a large number of locals from both communities clashed with each other armed with sharp weapons, and attacked passers-by two of whom riding motorbikes, were killed after being stabbed.

Arson, plundering and stabbing continued till late Wednesday, dampening makar sankranti festivities, as mobs set standing crops in a field belonging to a rival community, ablaze in revenge. An ambulance carrying the injured to hospital was also torched near Sahol village enroute to Ankleshwar, the nearest town. Rioters blocked all the roads leading to Ankleshwar, which forced villagers to take those injured in Hansot, to Bharuch hospital in boats, by sea. …



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West Delhi church vandalised (Jan 14, 2015, The Hindu)

A church in West Delhi’s Vikaspuri was allegedly vandalised by two men in the early hours of Wednesday. The church authorities claim that the attack was carried out to stoke communal tension. The police, however, said that the motive was being probed.

The entire incident has been captured on CCTV cameras installed in the vicinity of the church. Around 6. 30 a.m. when the priest arrived at the church, he found the glass cabinet mounted on the outside wall broken and the statue of Mother Mary lying on the ground. A call was subsequently made to the police control room. Senior police officers including the Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) reached the spot, police said.

Video footage, it is learnt, shows two men (in the age group of 40) on a motorcycle vandalising the church in two phases: first by breaking the glass cabinet and returning shortly after to push the statue causing a fall, police said.



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Court raps CBI for botching up Sohrabuddin probe (Jan 18, 2015, Hindustan Times)

A Mumbai special court, which gave a clean chit to BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Tulsi Prajapati killings of 2005-6, rapped the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for botching up its probe by not submitting key evidence to back up allegations on his role in the conspiracy, including the receipt of an extortion sum of Rs 70 lakh via an aide.

As per the CBI’s chargesheets, it was alleged that Shah’s “close and trusted police officer” Abhay Chudasama – accused number 15 – had allegedly threatened two Ahmedabad-based businessmen brothers Ramanbhai and Dashrathbhai Patel (both prosecution witnesses) at his behest to cough up Rs 1.5 crore to escape getting detained under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities act.

The builders had then allegedly paid Rs 70 lakh as bribe to Shah via another aide, Ajay Patel, charges that were rejected by the court in its December 2014 order, a copy of which HT accessed. At the time of the two alleged fake encounters, Shah was the minister of state for home in the then Gujarat government.…



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Setback for Mumbai police as court acquits alleged SIMI member (Jan 18, 2015, Asian Age)

In another setback to the Mumbai police, the sessions court in Mumbai on Saturday acquitted Saquib Nachan, an alleged member of banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi) and four others in a 13-year-old murder case.

With this acquittal, Nachan has only one case (three blast cases clubbed into one) pending against him. He was booked for three different murders and four blast cases, but with two earlier acquittals in murder cases and discharge from a bomb blast case, he is currently facing only one blast case.

Nachan had defended himself in person and had cross-examined all the witnesses against him. He claimed before the court that there was a property dispute between the deceased Tariq Gujar and his family. He also claimed that was contesting sarpanch elections in his area so his political rivals implicated him in the false case.…



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Agra’s ‘ghar wapsi’ colony set to move to Muslim locality (Jan 17, 2015, Times of India)

The slum dwellers of Madhu Nagar who underwent a ” ghar wapsi” ceremony on December 8, triggering a national controversy, now say the neighbourhood has turned hostile since that ritual and they are all set to shift to a “safer, Muslim locality”.

They told TOI on Saturday that they plan to shift to a predominantly Muslim locality in Kamla Nagar, about 12 km away, as soon as the winter chill subsides. The policemen deployed in the slum after the conversion event were withdrawn a week ago.

Circle officer, Sadar, Asim Chaudhary said, “It is over a month since that incident. Although the forces earlier posted in the area have moved out, every alternate day a policeman and an official of the Local Intelligence Unit continue to visit the slum.”…



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29 BJP members arrested by police for planning dacoity (Jan 19, 2015, Indian Express)

Two BJP leaders of West Midnapore district and 27 other party activists were arrested for illegally possessing arms and ammunition and planning a dacoity, police said on Monday.

BJP Nayagram West Block president Sukhendu Patra and BJP West Midnapore District Committee member Ardhendu Patra and 27 other party activists were arrested by police in the wee hours on Monday for planning a dacoity and illegally possessing arms and ammunition, they said.

The two leaders and 27 other arrested BJP activists were produced before a local court which remanded Sukhendu Patra and Ardhendu Patra to nine-days police custody while the 27 others were remanded to nine-days judicial custody.…



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Badaun horror: Constable throws 17-year-old girl off the roof of building (Jan 18, 2015, First Post)

An FIR has been filed against constable Gaurav Kumar, who was accused of pushing her off the terrace, according to The Times of India. The TOI report also says that the girl was pushed off the second floor of the staff quarters in Ujhani, while other reports say the building was a police station.

The girl has sustained serious head injuries and was rushed to a private hospital in Bareilly. Her condition is still reportedly critical. According to the report, the girl was a friend of the constable but the relationship between the two had soured.

“He threw her off the roof. My daughter is fighting for her life in the hospital. Many of her bones have been fractured, I want justice,” an NDTV report quoted the girl’s mother as saying. The report also said that the incident took place on 15 January and the constable has since been arrested.…



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Bihar court acquits 24 accused in 1999 Dalit massacre (Jan 13, 2015, Free Press Journal)

Citing lack of evidence, a Bihar court Tuesday acquitted 24 people of the 1999 massacre of 22 Dalits, a government lawyer said. Additional District and Sessions Judge Raghvendra Kumar Singh of Jehanabad district civil court pronounced the verdict.

Outlawed Ranvir Sena men had allegedly killed 22 Dalits Jan 25, 1999, in Shankar Bigha village in Jehanabad. The Sena was a private army of landed upper caste Bhumihars.

The victims were landless agricultural workers and were all Dalits. Police had filed an FIR against 29 accused in the case.…



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Opinions and Editorials

In the Era of the Neo-Fascist, Neo-liberal Coalition: Narendra Modi’s Intellectual Brigade – By Sumanta Banerjee (Jan 17, 2015, EPW)

Fascism needs – and seduces – both lumpens and intellectuals. While it recruits its foot soldiers from the former to suppress protest and dissent in domestic society, it allures members from the latter to sashay down the catwalk of world culture and academia to help it gain legitimacy abroad. The best model of this dual role of fascism was set by Germany, Italy and Japan (which came together as the Axis Power during the second world war). …

Shades from those dark days keep haunting the present – in India today in particular. In a peculiar re-enactment of that past, we find sections of the Indian intellectual community displaying a horrifying moral ambiguity in their slow drift into a system that typifies a dangerous and opportunist liaison between forces of unrestrained market economy (thriving under the global order of neo-liberalism) and unabated religious nationalist authoritarianism (consolidating itself under the neo-fascist canopy of the Sangh Parivar). Narendra Modi is perfecting the art of welding the two forces. …

A lot of things are indeed happening under Modi’s rule – campaigns to convert members of religious minorities to Hinduism, denunciation of inter-religious marriages as Muslim “love jihad”, plans to install Nathuram Godse’s statues in temples, brainwashing of young children into believing that Hindu gods are superior to modern scientists….

Among the other things that are happening under the Modi regime are enactment of laws in the name of development, which according to many economists and civil society activists will lead to large-scale displacement of people from their homes and occupations.…



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Big Man, Little Folks – By Pavithra S. Rangan (Jan 26, 2015, Outlook)

He’s been there for as long as he can remember. He was 25 when officials first turned up to tell his grandfather that they would have to vacate the land. Now he is 79 and he still lives there and cultivates the small holding by the river Narmada. Neither the Sardar Sarovar dam, barely three kilometres away, nor Vadodara, 90 kms from the Narmada Valley, has made any difference to Ukkad Magan. No, not even the Gujarat ‘model of development’.

But now he and 500 other households in Kevadia village again face the prospect of eviction. This time to make way for PM Narendra Modi’s ambitious Rs 2,989 crore project to instal the world’s highest statue, the Statue of Unity. Villagers refused to receive the eviction notice two weeks ago when officials turned up to deliver them in person. But it’s only a matter of time before they return. The notice calls upon them to vacate the land “immediately” – no time-frame was mentioned.…

The six villages by the Narmada likely to be affected by the project’s first phase are inhabited by Tadvi tribesmen who have been here long before the Sardar Sarovar dam came up. Villagers claim that when they sought proof of acquisition from the officials, they admitted that they did not have the relevant documents to prove the land had been acquired.…



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Ghar Wapsi: Political Agenda, Religious Garb – By Rudolf C Heredia (Jan 17, 2015, EPW)

In his Anti-Memoirs in 1968, Andre Malraux recalls asking Nehru “What is your greatest difficulty since Independence?” Nehru’s spontaneous reply was “Creating a just State by just means, I think”, and after a pause, “perhaps too, creating a secular State in a religious country”. The controversy over religious conversion epitomises how both difficulties have grown exponentially in tandem. …

Conversion is a complex and emotionally charged issue.… In today’s surcharged context of minority bashing and anti-conversion laws, of majoritarian politics and minority vote banks the issues implied get more explosive every day. Our tense and polarised situation demands an honest introspection so that the converts and would-be converts are heard, not those who act as ventriloquists on their behalf.

…These ghar wapsi enthusiasts have become mirror images of the very proselytisers they are so enraged against and denounce. It compounds an already delicate situation even further. To put a cunning spin on the term and pretend that it is not a religious change but a homecoming, is disingenuous and cannot hide the patent political agenda involved under a religious-cultural garb. …



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Model family, Maharaj style – Editorial (Jan 13, 2015, Hindustan Times)

The propensity of the BJP’s great and good to express their opinions on all sorts of subjects, including those they are not conversant with, is causing daily embarrassment to the party.… It is clear that Maharaj has not heard of the national population policy, which does not prescribe any optimum number of children a woman should produce.

In fact, the issue of how many children a woman should have is a personal matter and the State seems loath to take a position on numbers. But not so Sakshi Maharaj, who feels that Hindu women must procreate profusely in order that Hindus are not overrun by other faiths that apparently produce children in vast numbers. …

Along with many worthies harping on how advanced ancient Indians were scientifically, with little proof to substantiate their claims, the Maharajs are making a laughing stock of an India which is trying to make itself taken seriously as an investment and manufacturing destination. The BJP has been far too easy on the fringe elements who now consider themselves a law unto themselves.…



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Why Rape Victims Lose – By Jonathan Derby (Dec 27, 2014, EPW)

There is a culture of delay and adjournments in trial courts in India that contradicts criminal procedural law. These inefficient and undisciplined practices slow down trials, often with adverse effects on victims. …

The Supreme Court has consistently criticised the inefficient and passive way judges administer trials. For example, in Mohan Lal vs State of Punjab (AIR 2013 SC 2408), a teenage girl was gang-raped by her teachers. It took five dates for the trial judge to record the victim’s testimony. Given the sensitivity of rape cases, the Court called the way the judge managed the trial “shocking”. …

The backlog of cases in Delhi trial courts, as in courts across India, makes following swift justice mandates almost impossible, especially the way dockets are currently managed. In child sexual abuse cases, while Delhi has POCSO courts, judges in these courts handle other criminal cases too, which creates bottlenecks to complete POCSO cases.…



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Acquittals in Bihar Dalit massacres ‘failure of pro-poor’ governments – By Mumtaz Alam (Jan 15, 2015, India Tomorrow)

This Tuesday was another big ‘Black Day’ in the life of Etwaria Devi. The Dalit woman, now in her late 50s, lost her husband 16 years ago in one of major massacres of members of the Dalit community by Ranvir Sena, a private militia of upper caste landed gentry in Bihar. In the massacre on 25th Jan 1999, some 24 Dalits, all landless agricultural labourers, were killed in Shankar Bigha village of Arwal district. Devi had lost her husband Ganga Paswan and another relative Nanhu Paswan in the incident.

On Tuesday, all the 24 accused were acquitted by a local court in Jehanabad district. What has angered victim families and social activists working for them more is chain of acquittals in the five Dalit massacres of the 1990s in the undivided Bihar. Incidentally, both the killings and acquittals took place under such political regimes that claim to be champion of the cause of Dalits, weaker sections and minorities.

Family members of the slain Dalits are disheartened and devastated over the release of all the accused by the court for lack of evidence. The surviving family members are not only upset and sad over the verdict, they are also angry and feel there is nobody to do them justice.…



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Book Review

How Modi Won It: Notes from the 2014 Election

Author: Harish Khare
Reviewed by: T R Ramachandran
Available at: Publisher: Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt Ltd, 4th/5th Floors, Corporate Centre; Plot No. 94, Sector 44; Gurgaon-122003 INDIA; Pages: 242; Price: Rs 599. http://www.hachetteindia.com/
How Modi Won It: Notes from the 2014 Election (Jan 18, 2015, Free Press Journal)

Media advisor to erstwhile Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, well known journalist and columnist Harish Khare’s book – How Modi Won It: Notes from 2014 Elections – is instinctive in analysing what he “saw, felt, read and heard” from scribes as well as other individuals in public about what was going on under the grand rubric of general election. His assessment stems from an election diary that he started writing for a nearly two months from the last week of March 2014 till 17 May. He stressed the book makes no claim to being an objective account or giving a complete view of what went into the making of the 2014 vote.

It is an individualistic, partisan and necessarily subjective account written down as it was happening. It is based on knowledge available in the public domain. There is no inside information; no scoop; no breaking news. It encompasses a bit of political science, a bit of history, and chunks of old fashioned journalistic analysis. And a bit of common sense.

Be that as it may Khare has never been shy of calling a spade a spade. His piercing analysis brings to the fore that Narendra Modi started eyeing the Prime Minister’s “kursi” nearly twelve years before the 2014 Parliamentary elections for the 16th Lok Sabha. Within a few months of Modi becoming the chief minister of Gujarat, a train was set afire in Godhra leading to communal riots in Ahmedabad and other parts of state. He relentlessly pursued this goal a dozen years and reinvented himself as a polarising figure, pushing – deliberately, calculatedly and cleverly – a politics of antagonism that led to his unprecedented 2014 victory. He remained committed to the calculus of Hindu-Muslim antagonism along with nursing the ambition of occupying the most coveted seat of power on the majestic Raisina Hill in the national capital. …