IAMC Weekly News Roundup - January 1st, 2018 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 1st, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Heinous killing of cleric and desecration of Andhra Pradesh mosque trigger outrage, revulsion among Indian Americans

December 31 2017

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos today condemned yet another barbaric killing of a Muslim, in the heinous murder of Mohammed Farooq, a cleric at Noorani Mosque in Talacheru village in Rajahmundry district of Andhra Pradesh. According to media sources, Mohammed Farooq was bludgeoned to death and was found lying in a pool of blood inside the mosque. In addition, the mosque was desecrated by the attackers who left behind a trail of destruction including burnt pages of the Holy Quran, cigarette butts and signs of urination on the mosque floor.

The year 2017 recorded the highest death toll (11 deaths) and the most number of incidents of hate violence (37 incidents) related to cows and religion since 2010, according to an IndiaSpend database that records cow-related hate crime.

“This murder of an innocent cleric and the desecration of the mosque represents a worsening of the human rights situation of Dalits and minorities in India. We call upon the Andhra Pradesh administration not only to take every step to apprehend the killers of Mohammed Farooq, but also to check the hateful rhetoric and bigotry that enables such senseless and brutal violence” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, the National President of IAMC. “This hate crime is an aberration in an otherwise peaceful Rajahmundry district which has a history of peaceful coexistence amongst people from all religious communities.

India has been gripped by an alarming rise in hate crimes and attacks on its religious minorities ever since the Narendra Modi administration came to power in May 2014. This year alone, there have been 28 recorded incidents of Hindutva vigilante led lynching and mob attacks on Muslims, Christians and Dalits. However, the continued failure of the law enforcement to prevent these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice has emboldened the individuals and organizations behind such hate crimes. Earlier this month, Mohammed Afrazul, a migrant worker was hacked to death in Rajasthan by a self-styled Hindutva vigilante who recorded the killing on video and proclaimed that he committed the murder to stop Muslims from love-jihad – a fake claim made by Hindutva supremacist groups that Muslims are running some kind of campaign men to convert Hindu women to Islam through false expressions of love.

Commenting on this issue, Ms. Seema Salim, National Vice President of IAMC, expressed grave concern at the rising tide of hate crimes across India. “Andhra Pradesh has traditionally been marked eaceful coexistence amongst communities of all religious backgrounds even as many of the BJP ruled states have been gripped by rising tide of Islamophobia and hate crimes against religious minorities. We call upon the Andhra Pradesh state administration for an impartial and expeditious investigation into this hate crime in Rajahmundry while ensuring that this incident is not used to spread hate and discord in the community”, Ms. Salim added.

Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information, please visit our website at: https://iamc.com/

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Muslim man found brutally murdered inside Masjid in Andhra

AP: Muazzin assassinated in attack on masjid, Quran desecrated

Cleric in Andhra Pradesh’s Rajahmundry found dead, protests erupt

A Year of Hate Crimes in India

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This brother was CM Gujarat when Muslim women were raped, burnt alive (Dec 29, 2017, Ummid.com)

On Thursday, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and the party’s National Spokesperson, who is also a Supreme Court lawyer, made a surprising revelation in the Parliament. While participating in the debate in the Lok Sabha on Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill – popularly known as the Triple Talaq bill, she called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “brother” of Muslim women and assured them that they should not worry about or fear anyone as long as they have a “brother” like him.

Meenakshi Lekhi’s latest revelation was surprising because the world has not forgotten yet that Prime Minister Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat when a number of Muslim women were raped, burnt alive and their womb torn apart in broad daylight as the state burnt for weeks right under his nose.

Meenakshi Lekhi calls him “brother” of Muslim women. But, “this brother” did nothing to stop the ruthless massacre and bloody carnage of the innocents. He was constitutionally liable for what was going on in the state, and this is why then Prime Minister Vajpayee reminded him of “Raj Dharam”. Yet, he did nothing, and worst, he asked the police department “to let Hindus vent their anger against the Muslims”, according to the affidavit filed by Senior Gujarat police officer Sanjeev Bhatt in the Supreme Court of India. Is this the definition of a brother in your dictionary, Meenakshi ji?…



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Muezzin found dead in mosque, Andhra govt orders probe (Jan 1, 2018, Indian Express)

The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered a probe into the alleged murder of a 61-year-old muezzin inside a mosque in Lalcheruvu area of Rajahmundry on Friday night. The mosque was also allegedly desecrated and religious books burnt with attackers leaving behind beedis on the spot.

Mohammed Farooq, who was found dead on Saturday morning in the mosque by people who had come there to pray, had arrived in Rajahmundry about five months ago and was working as a muezzin, police said.…

Muslim organisations held a protest on Sunday and accused communal forces of polarisation and trying to disturb peace in the area.…



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Jamia students say asked to leave NCC camp over sporting beard (Dec 26, 2017, Hindustan Times)

A group of students from Jamia Millia Islamia, who were attending a National Cadet Corps (NCC) camp in Rohini, have alleged they were asked to leave the camp on the fifth day over sporting beards. A group of 35-40 students from Jamia were taking part in a 10-day NCC camp that started on December 19 at Rohini. Students alleged that on Saturday 10 of them were asked to either leave the camp or shave their beard.…

Students claimed they had been attending the camps with beard and it has never been a problem before. “I have been with NCC for three years now and I am a junior under officer (JUO). Ten of us who had a beard were asked to shave it or leave the camp. We refused to leave without a movement order but weren’t issued one so we stayed outside the gate of the camp on Saturday night,” Dilshad Ahmad, one of the 10 students.

Ahmad said that on Sunday, one of the students accepted a letter issued by the NCC that he was leaving on account of discipline and NCC rules. “Only one student accepted the letter as a proof but nine others have not accepted the letter,” he said.…



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Protests in Ajmer After Hindutva Group Targets Dargah, Renowned Symbol of Syncretic Faith (Dec 26, 2017, The Wire)

Hate speech has become quite routine for ‘fringe’ groups in Rajasthan. In the latest incident of hate speech, Shiv Sena Hindustan, a religious-turned-political outfit active in the state, targeted the famous Ajmer shrine and Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti with derogatory remarks, leading to tension in the city. The khadims (custodians) of Dargah Ajmer Sharif filed a complaint against the organisation on December 22 and demanded an immediate ban on the group.

The trigger was Shiv Sena Hindustan general secretary Lakhan Singh’s appeal to volunteers to initiate a campaign seeking Hindu support for demolishing the centuries-old shrine, claiming that a Hindu temple used to exist at the site of the dargah.…

The Khuddam-e-Khwaja community and Chishty Foundation of Ajmer Dargah organised a protest march on December 22; the Gaddi Nashin of Ajmer Sharif Dargah and chairman of the Chishty Foundation Syed Salman Chishty said that hundreds of khadims took to the streets and protested peacefully. Shiv Sena Hindustan was in the headlines recently when its members staged a violent protest near the Udaipur court premises in support of Shambhulal Regar, accused of Afrazul’s murder.…



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Distortion of history a terror of different nature: Historian (Jan 1, 2018, Hindustan Times)

Attempt made to “fabricate and distort history” is a terror of a different nature, general president of Indian History Congress KM Shrimali said, expressing concern over the shrinking space for reason and debate in the country.

The sole agenda behind the RSS-BJP trying to rewrite history is to create a Hindu nation, where minorities are treated as second-class citizens, he said.…

The RSS and the BJP are determined to divide the nation on religious grounds, Shrimali said, adding that history is a discipline of reason and cannot be written with fabricated truths, imagination or myth-making. Reason and debate have become the biggest casualties in the Sangh Parivar’s interpretation of history, the former professor rued.…



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New Book Reignites Questions Over Alleged Cover-Up of Kandhamal Killings (Dec 29, 2017, The Wire)

A group of politicians and rights activists on Friday criticised the manner in which the murder of Swami Laxmanananda in 2008 was investigated and how innocent people were allegedly tried and convicted for the crime without proper evidence.

The speakers – who demanded a probe into the “real conspiracy” behind Laxmanananda’s killing – were attending the release of a revised edition of journalist Anto Akkara’s book Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda. The book examines the killing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader in Odisha’s Kandhamal and the consequent widespread violence against members of the Christian community in the district.

In the latest edition, Akkara has looked at how following the 81-year-old swami’s death, nearly 100 Christians were killed and 300 churches and 6,000 houses plundered in a spate of violence that rendered nearly 56,000 homeless.…



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Satavahana university students forced to vacate hostels after ABVP and Dalit unions clash (Dec 27, 2017, New Indian Express)

A day after student unions clashed at Satavahana university, police intensified security on the campus and the university authorities forced the students to vacate the hostels. While outsiders were denied entry inside the university, the employees were allowed access only after showing their identity cards.

The university registrar M Komal Reddy said that a decision on re-opening of the college and hostel will be taken after conducting a review meeting on Wednesday. He said that they have announced indefinite holidays in view of the clash between the students and also ongoing electric works in the university.

The police urged the university authorities to regularly monitor the activities of the student unions and take disciplinary action against those indulging in anti-social activities. Meanwhile, Civil Liberties Committee joint secretary Madana Kumar Swamy along with university students said that setting Manusmriti has been a regular practice by Dalit students since 2003.…



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Right-wing opposes battle of Koregaon celebrations (Dec 27, 2017, Asian Age)

A few thousand followers of 20 social organisations across Maharashtra will gather at Shaniwar Wada, Pune, on January 31, 2018, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of defeat of the Peshwa’s army by the then British Indian Army’s Mahar regiment in the battle of Bhima Koregaon.

However right-wing organisations have opposed the celebration saying it will create differences among various castes. Meanwhile, historians claim that the Peshwa’s army won the battle.

The Sambhaji Brigade, Kabir Kala Manch, Muslim Mulnivasi Sangh and Rashtra Seva Dal are among the 20 state organisations that have started the march to celebrate completion of 200 years of the Bhima Koregaon battle. According to them, the Mahar regiment, with the help of Muslims, historians and other bahujan castes, won this battle against the Peshwa, who was an oppressor of lower castes.…



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2008 Malegaon blast case: Court not exonerating Pragya Thakur is vindication of our probe, says ATS (Dec 28, 2017, Indian Express)

Even as the special NIA court dropped the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against the accused in the Malegaon 2008 bomb blast case, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officers, who were part of the investigation before the case was handed over to the NIA, told The Indian Express that Wednesday’s decision is a vindication of their probe.

“The fact that the court did not exonerate Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur despite the NIA giving her a clean chit is a validation of our probe. We are completely sure that Sadhvi Thakur was a mastermind and the court also saw merit in our case and will try her under certain sections of UAPA relating to terror,” said an officer who was part of the investigating team.

Stating that the investigation of the 2008 Malegaon blast was filled with “lacunae”, the NIA in May 2016, filed a chargesheet against ten accused while stating there is no case made out against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five others.…



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Akali leader at sit-in, but cops fail to nab him (Jan 1, 2018, The Tribune)

Though the SAD-BJP alliance was thrown out of power in the state nine months ago, Akali leaders still seem to be wielding clout in the Malwa region. This is evident from the fact that Bathinda police failed to produce Youth Akali Dal leader Balkar Singh Brar in a local court on December 22 in connection with the suicide case of his nephew’s wife and her two kids, though he was spotted in a SAD dharna against thermal plant closure here on December 25.

Balkar along with his nephew Gurlal Singh Brar was among the seven family members booked following the alleged suicide by Gurlal’s wife Amanpreet Kaur (32) along with her two daughters Guneet Kaur (4) and Mehreen Kaur (1) on November 14, 2014. Their bodies were found in the waterworks tank in Goniana.

The accused were booked under Section 304-B of the IPC for “forcing the woman to commit suicide along with her minor daughters”. Nehiawala SHO Angrej Singh said they had conducted raids to arrest Balkar, but could not find him. Additional Sessions Judge KS Bajwa had directed the police to arrest and produce Balkar in his court on December 22.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Legal excess – By Faizan Mustafa (Dec 29, 2017, Indian Express)

Every punishment which does not arise from absolute necessity, says Montesquieu, is tyrannical. In fact, criminal law should be used only as a “last resort” (ultima ratio) and only for the “most reprehensible wrongs”. Excessive use of criminal law for purposes it is ill-suited to tackle is the harsh reality of modern state. …

No figures are available about India, but every year we are enacting new criminal statutes both at the Centre as well as in the states. The triple divorce bill is yet another instance of overcriminalisation. Even the Supreme Court had noted that incidence of triple divorce is insignificant. Just like 2G scam, the media has played it out of proportion. The real problem of Muslim women is education and employment.…

Unfortunately, “crimes” originate in the government policy and, therefore, criminal law reflects the idea of “power” rather than “justice”. The state may decide to criminalise and decriminalise almost anything, even influenced by the electoral needs of the party in government.… The Narendra Modi government is doing a huge disservice to Muslim women as no husband on return from jail is likely to retain the wife on whose complaint he has gone to prison. The bill will lead to more divorces. The remedy to tackle triple divorce is thus worse than the disease.…



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2017, a year of hate crimes in India: Number of violent incidents related to cows, religion is rising – By Alison Saldanha (Dec 28, 2017, First Post)

The year 2017 recorded the highest death toll (11 deaths) and the most number of incidents of hate violence (37 incidents) related to cows and religion since 2010, according to an IndiaSpend database that records cow-related hate crime.…

“These are just the tip of the iceberg, what we have encountered on the ground are a much larger number of cases – many reported in the local papers – many not reported at all. But no doubt there has been an extraordinary rise in the number hate crimes across the country in recent years,” author and human rights organiser Harsh Mander told IndiaSpend in a live interview on 13 December, 2017.…

“There seems to be a kind of permissive environment for people to engage in hate speech and to act out on hate,” Mander said. “This plays out in terms of lynching, individual hate attacks, attacks on places of worship – especially Christian places of worship on priests and nuns – and attacks on dalits (which has been going on for much longer). Particularly, against Muslims, we see a marked rise in the number of attacks and their viciousness.”…



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Acts of intolerance – By T.K. Rajalakshmi (Jan 5, 2018, Frontline)

“Mewat mein jo musalmaanon ke saath ho raha hai, woh Hindustan mein kisi ke saath nahi ho raha” (whatever is happening to Muslims in Mewat region is not happening to anyone in the entire country), said Sarjit Khan, a Meo Muslim at Pahari, a tehsil headquarters in Bharatpur district in Rajasthan. A lone cloth placard emblazoned with the words “Justice for Umar” hangs on a tent pole, seven kilometres from Ghatmika village in Pahari tehsil. The tent was erected for a public meeting organised to condole the death of the cattle trader Umar Khan, one of the latest victims of cow vigilantism in the region.…

Pehlu Khan, Junaid Khan and now Umar Khan, the three cattle traders who were murdered in 2017, were all Meo Muslims from the region, which includes the Nuh (previously Mewat) district of Haryana, Alwar and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan and some parts of western Uttar Pradesh. Since the region is home to Meo Muslims, it has come under the close surveillance of cow vigilantes.

Ghatmika has been labelled as a village of cow smugglers and at least 200 people have been charged with cow smuggling. But not a single case has ended in conviction. Amra Ram, a four-time Member of the Legislative Assembly from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and former president of the All India Kisan Sabha, said the government suspended three officials when a foreign tourist was killed by a bull. In the case of Umar’s death, the police were keen to dismiss it as a result of gang war. Some police posts in Alwar have been designated cow vigilante or gau rakshak posts.…



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The other, the enemy – By Abdul Khaliq (Dec 27, 2017, Indian Express)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his victory speech justifiably pronounced that voters in the Gujarat election emphatically rejected the poison of caste. But he studiously skirted mention of the cancer of communal identity politics and religiosity that was masterfully deployed by the BJP and clumsily imitated by the Congress.

While the BJP dragged the Muslim community into the electoral arc lights with loaded references to Aurangzeb and “Miyan” Ahmed Patel as a Pakistan-inspired Congress CM candidate, the Congress flaunted its “Hinduness” even as it concealed its dubious concern for Muslims. According to the reigning electoral arithmetic, to woo the Muslim is to court disaster. The Muslim is more alone than ever before.

The killing of Afrazul for being Muslim and the celebratory messages, donations and marches in support of the killer that followed are testament to a social consciousness that perceives the Muslim as the enemy, not just the “other”.… A yogi who publicly announced that he will not stop till he turns India into a Hindu rashtra is now the UP chief minister. In his watch, state and religion have congealed into one. He sees no contradiction in using state funds for a Lord Ram statue or sanctioning a Rs one lakh subsidy for every pilgrim on the Kailash Mansarovar yatra even while opposing the Haj subsidy.… Although not officially proclaimed, the Hindu rashtra is already upon us. And to hell with the minorities.



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Malegaon blasts: Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s case highlights need to purge terror investigations of political, religious undertones – By Ajay Kumar (Dec 28, 2017, First Post)

Despite the NIA giving a “clean chit” to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, the investigative agency was left red-faced on Thursday as the trial court determined that she and six others accused in the 2008 Malegaon Blasts case will stand trial for stringent terror charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 (UAPA).

While the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) were dropped, the court said that there was sufficient basis to proceed against Thakur for offences under Sections 15, read with 16 and 18 of the UAPA. Section 15 is the offence of terrorism and Section 16 spells out the punishment. In this case, the punishment could be a death sentence.

The politically-sensitive case has been complex from the start as it cast a spotlight on the uncomfortable subject of “saffron terror”. The very phrase evokes a harsh response from certain sections of the community, who remain in denial about its existence. However, despite the National Investigation Agency (NIA) itself saying that Thakur couldn’t have been connected with the case–and that this was not a saffron terror plot–the court determined that there were grounds to proceed against Thakur and the others.…



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Lessons from the 2G verdict: It punctures the main plank of the election campaign Modi ran on in 2014 – By Abhishek Manu Singhvi (Dec 27, 2017, Economic Times)

The 2G verdict by the special CBI court, as it stands today, punctures the main plank of Modi’s election campaign on the back of which BJP stormed into power in 2014. Its ravings and rantings about ‘astronomical corruption’ during the tenure of UPA government, repeated ad nauseam, has collapsed like a house of cards.

The heart of Modi’s anti-corruption edifice has crumbled. If political opponents have treated the initiation of 2G criminal proceedings as a badge of dishonour for years, they have to be ready to treat it as a badge of honour when the initiation fails.

The 1,552 page judgment provided closure to an over six-year long trial which extended beyond the courtroom, into vociferous TV studios turned kangaroo courts, followed by eye-popping headlines in national media. Large sections of the media, barely concealing their stand as a partisan participant, egged on by an irresponsible opposition and a sundry group of opportunistic activists, converted the propaganda into such a powerful mind machine that the public started to associate the Congress party with everything that seemingly went wrong in the country.…



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Book Review

Communalism and Sexual Violence: Ahmedabad since 1969

Author: Megha Kumar
Reviewed by: Svati P Shah
Available at: Tulika Publishers, 24/1 Ganapathy Colony Third Street, Teynampet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu, India; 2017; pp xi + 255, Rs 775; Phone: (+91 44) 24331639 / 24331117 / 24331118 tulikabooks@vsnl.com. https://www.amazon.in/
Gujarat Riots and the Role of Sexual Violence (Dec 30, 2017, EPW)

Megha Kumar’s Communalism and Sexual Violence: Ahmedabad since 1969 examines sexual violence through three riots in Gujarat: 1969, 1985 and 2002, when more than 2,000 Muslims were killed, more than 1,00,000 displaced, and wherein the documented and anecdotal instances of sexual violence were widespread, horrific, and overwhelming. Kumar’s book is remarkable, not only because of the attacks from the Hindu right that she and the book have weathered, but also because of what it sets out to do, and what it succeeds in doing.

The bulk of the book’s pages are devoted to detailing the violence in each of these three riots, tracing it back systematically through the questions of caste, the economy, and electoral power, while always asking how widespread sexual violence was in each case, why it did or did not occur, and to what degree. In placing these events systematically alongside one another, and in specifically using sexual violence as the frame that renders the logic of considering these riots in relation to each other, the book also enables us to ask questions that we would not be able to ask otherwise.…

Communalism and Sexual Violence is focused on the 2002 Gujarat riots, and the role that sexual violence played in the execution and aftermath. Kumar chooses to focus on 2002; an instance of a smaller riot in 1985, in which sexual violence apparently did not play a part; and 1969, where it did, though it was not as widespread as in 2002. She takes Ahmedabad as the epicentre of these riots, mainly because, as the political capital of the state, Ahmedabad can be seen as both an electoral bellwether for the rest of Gujarat, and the place where riots sometimes begin, especially when electoral gains and losses are somehow part of the equation.…