IAMC Weekly News Roundup - January 23rd, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 23rd, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Assam: Hajo’s post-Babri Masjid communal harmony march enters 25th year (Jan 15, 2017, Hindustan Times)

A harmony march, started as a show of unity among different communities in Assam after the riots following the Babri Masjid demolition, and turned into an annual event, entered its 25th year on Sunday. While rest of Assam was busy celebrating the post-harvest festival of Magh Bihu, hundreds gathered at Hajo, 24km west of Guwahati, to take part in Samanway Sobha Jatra and Monikut Festival.

The procession and festival, at the small town considered Assam’s ‘oasis of communal harmony’ is symbolic of how residents of this sacred place have learnt to live in peace. Hajo is home to Hayagrib Madhab temple, a four-century-old popular Vishnu shrine. The area is also considered holy by some Buddhists who believe Buddha attained ‘Nirvana’ here.

The Powa Mecca mosque, constructed over 350 years ago, is located few kilometres away. It is believed the structure was made using soil brought from Mecca, Islam’s most sacred site. “The procession started in January 1993 to show unity among followers of different faiths in Hajo after communal riots spread across India following demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992,” Siba Prasad Sarma, ‘doloi’ (chief priest) of Hayagrib Madhab temple said.…


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BJP MLA Sangeet Som booked for showing ‘riot’ documentary ahead of UP polls (Jan 19, 2017, Times of India)

Sangeet Som, the controversial BJP MLA from Sardhana in UP, has been booked for allegedly screening footage from the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots as part of a documentary. The riots left 63 people dead and over 50,000 homeless.

“A case has been filed against Sangeet Som under Section 125 (promoting enmity between classes in connection with election) in the Representation of the People Act, 1951,” Sardhana circle officer Chandra Pal Singh said. On Tuesday, police had seized a CD allegedly containing footage of the riots from Som’s campaign vehicle at Fareedpur village in Meerut’s Sardhana constituency.

A case was also filed against the driver of the vehicle and another person for violating Section 144 of CrPc. Police sources said the CD contained footage of the clashes that took place in Muzaffarnagar’s Kawal village in 2013.…



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BJP’s Vinay Katiyar makes sexist comment about Priyanka Gandhi (Jan 25, 2017, Economic Times)

Senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar today triggered a controversy by saying they were “more beautiful women star campaigners than Priyanka Gandhi.”

Priyanka is one of the star campaigners of Congress for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and has also played an important role in forging an alliance between Congress and SP.

To a question, the BJP’s firebrand leader said, “It doesn’t matter…there are girls and women who are more beautiful than her (Priyanka) and are also star campaigners.…



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Malegaon blasts case: ex-cop Mujawar claims ATS actually killed 3 accused (Jan 18, 2017, Catch News)

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is getting deeper and deeper into trouble in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case. Former police officer Mehboob Mujawar, who was part of the probe and, in December 2016, filed an affidavit in a Solapur court claiming that the ATS had killed two accused in the case, has fired another salvo. He now claims that the number of accused shot down by the ATS was actually three.

The affidavit had come as a major blow to the theories propagated by the ATS. And given the gravity of the fresh claims, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has been probing the matter since 2013, summoned Mujawar for questioning on Tuesday.

…It is suspected that the third person claimed to have been killed in custody could be Dilip Patidar. The other two ‘killed’, as per Mujawar’s affidavit, were Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra. Officially, as per NIA and ATS records, Dange and Kalsangra are ‘absconding’, while Patidar is said to be ‘missing’. However, the three do share some things in common – all of them resided in Indore, and were arrested from there. Kalsangra had been Patidar’s tenant before being arrested by the ATS.…



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Dabholkar, Pansare murders: Bombay HC raps CBI, SIT for ‘tardy’ probe, says ‘much time, energy wasted’ (Jan 21, 2017, Indian Express)

Expressing displeasure over the “tardy” investigations by both the investigating agencies in the murder cases of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, the Bombay High Court on Friday pulled up the CBI and SIT and said considerable time and energy had been wasted by the agencies in investigating the cases.

The agencies provided the status report of investigations and materials in sealed covers to a division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Justices B P Colabawalla who perused the report and asked them to not disclose the contents of the report to anybody.…

The court expressed its surprise at the way the ballistic report analysis was being handled and how the case is not moving forward due to this and several adjournments sought from the court in the name of assistance from Scotland Yard.…



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NGOs release report on India’s human rights record (Jan 18, 2017, The Hindu)

On a day when the University of Hyderabad was wracked with protests on the first death anniversary of research scholar Rohith Vemula, a clutch of NGOs released a report highlighting India’s human rights record.

Ashalatha of Rythu Swarajya Vedika and Sajaya of Caring Citizen Collective released the report which had some startling facts like India topping world hunger list with 194.6 million undernourished; having the world’s largest number of homeless and landless persons; the world’s highest number of malnourished and hungry children; 56 percent landless rural households; 30 per cent of world’s poorest people and 10.2 million working children between 5-14 years.

The Joint Stakeholder’s Report will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council during the upcoming third Universal Periodic Review of India due to take place at Geneva in May 2017. The activists demanded a law for protection of human rights defenders.…



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Jallikattu stir bristles with anti-Modi anger (Jan 20, 2017, Asian Age)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rejection of the state’s demand for a Central ordinance on jallikattu has triggered widespread anger in Tamil Nadu. Residents geared up for massive protests on Friday, with all sections of people joining students and youth fighting to save its traditional sport and preserve Tamil culture.

Furious jallikattu protesters widened the canvass of the protests to include all issues in which the state’s rights were trampled. One of the students, Senthilnathan, who had gathered at the Marina asked, “If Narendra Modi is so concerned about respecting the Supreme Court, why had he opposed the apex court’s verdict to form the Cauvery Management Board?”.

Protesting Tamil youth vowed to return the Aadhaar cards as a sign of declaration that they are no more the citizens of India. The protesters also targeted the railways blocking the trains in several parts of the state. Traders associations announced a total shutdown on Friday and cinema theatres would remain closed to express support the agitations.…



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Modi Government Re-Allots Land Cancelled By UPA to RSS-Backed Organisations (Jan 17, 2017, The Wire)

Nearly 13 years after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had cancelled the allotment of institutional land to 29 right-leaning organisations by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in Delhi, the Narendra Modi government has restored the allotment of prime plots of land to most of them.…

The BJP government under Vajpayee had made 225 allotments.… Since of these 125 were made to government and political institutions, the subsequent Manmohan Singh government that came to power in 2004 did not question their allotment. However, it did constitute a committee under retired IAS officer Yogesh Chandra to review the others.… Of these, 22 were affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or belonged to outfits backed by it such as Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Samarth Shiksha Samiti, Sewa Bharti and Swadeshi Jagran Foundation.

In all these cases, the committee had held that the allotments were made “without due regard to the stipulated procedure.” After much deliberation between the urban development ministry and the office of the attorney general on the issue, the UPA government had finally cancelled 29 of these allotments. Thereafter, three of these institutions had returned the plots while the remaining 26 had moved the Delhi high court against the order.… With a right-wing government back in the saddle, most of these religious and socio-cultural institutions once again felt emboldened and approached the Centre for restoration of the cancelled plots. Many of them had not given up the plots and had even opened temporary offices on them.…



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Demonetisation like search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: Former RBI Governor, D Subbarao (Jan 23, 2017, Financial Express)

Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) chief, Duvvuri Subbarao discussed PM Narendra Modi-ordered demonetisation drive and expressed his discomfort with it. When asked about how will he measure the success of demonetisation, Subbarao said, “I will use two metrics to measure the success of demonetisation. The first metrics is to what extent has the stock of black money been destroyed and the second is to what extent has the further regeneration of black money been prevented.”

He further stated, in an exclusive interview with CNBC TV-18’s Lata Venkatesh, that “in the first one, the initial expectation of the government was 15-20 percent of the black money (which is about 2- 3 trillion rupees) to be destroyed which would have a deadly blow to all the people who had that money and would have been a huge win for the RBI and the government could have declared moral and material victory. But nothing of that sort has happened as 97 per cent of the money has come back and now the government is looking for the recovery of black money out of the deposits.”

In D Subbarao’s view, “If 1 percent is not added to the tax-to-GDP ratio, then demonetisation would be like the search for the weapon of mass destruction in Iraq.”…



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BJP govt targeting only Muslims in Assam, minority body seeks intervention of Supreme Court (Jan 20, 2017, Siasat)

Assam Minority Jatiya Parishad (AMJP) has sought the intervention of Chief Justice of India (CJI) in the ongoing eviction drive carried out by the BJP government in Assam alleging that it has adopted double standards in these operations.

In a petition filed in the Supreme Court, AMJP stated that random eviction has been carried out in Assam only with a view to driving out the poor Muslims from government land who took shelter on such lands due to devastating flood and erosion on the bank of river Brahmaputra.…

The people belonging to all communities have taken shelter on government lands which are not useful for any propose. However, only the Muslims are being targeted without touching the people of other communities. He said we have submitted a petition to the Chief Justice of India seeking justice.…



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BJP-RSS anti-Dalit, won’t let them succeed: AAP on Manmohan Vaidya remark (Jan 20, 2017, Indian Express)

AAP on Friday came out strongly against RSS publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya’s remark favouring a review of the reservation policy and said it won’t allow the “anti-dalit” BJP and RSS suceed in their “nefarious designs”. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was quick to latch on the controversial remark, which could potentially help the party in Punjab, a state with over 30 per cent of dalit population.

“The RSS/BJP/Akalis are anti-Dalits. We will not allow their nefarious designs to succeed,” he tweeted. “The statement by RSS functionary is shameful. This is not the first example of RSS and the BJP being anti-dalit. There is no proof required after state-sponsored murder of (Dalit scholar) Rohith Vemula (who committed suicide). We condemn this,” AAP’s national spokesperson Dilip Pandey said, adding that such remarks also came up before the Bihar polls.

RSS’s publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya on Friday kicked up a row with remarks favouring a review of the reservation policy, saying even the architect of the Constitution B R Ambedkar had not favoured its continuance in perpetuity.”…



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Opinions and Editorials

Pune Muslim youth murder: Is the Bombay HC bail to accused a licence to kill for sake of religion? – By Ajay Kumar (Jan 17, 2017, First Post)

The Bombay High Court on 12 January granted bail to three men accused of murdering a Muslim man in Hadapsar, Pune, in 2014 sighting an absence of “personal animosity” against the victim. The bail was granted even though the accused are alleged to have bludgeoned the victim to death with hockey sticks, bats and stones, for simply being a Muslim on 2 June 2014.

The prosecution’s case was that the accused had just attended a rally where a person called Dhananjay Desai of the Hindu Rashtra Sena had made an inflammatory speech where he had incited the passions of these accused. So, when the accused saw the victim, on his way to dinner on a motorcycle, wearing a pastel green shirt and was sporting a beard, they started assaulting him with hockey sticks, bats and stones.…

When we contrast the two orders we can see how India may have slightly changed from March 2015 to January 2017 where on the one hand a man making a hate speech is denied bail because he may be a danger to the public at large, on the other hand, three men who get incited by speeches and go around allegedly killing people by beating them with hockey sticks and stones may be excused of their behaviour because they did it because of “religion” and no out of personal enmity. The order of 12 January 2017 must give us all a reason to pause.



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Why Babri Masjid, Ramjanmabhumi, Yogi Adityanath And Azam Khan Stand Muted In The Battle For Uttar Pradesh – By Betwa Sharma (Jan 17, 2017, Huffington Post)

The Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls are taking place in the 25th year of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Election eve is a good time to reflect on how the event so large then, influencing so significantly the politics and elections of that time is viewed today. Communal polarization will depend largely on how the face off between the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party shapes sentiment on the politically festering remains of the 16-century mosque.

But the pitch for Hindu resurgence is on the back-burner today with hardliners gagged. Not so long ago, the Muzaffarnagar riots had spurred BJP’s sweeping performance in the region during the parliament elections. One of the accused, Sanjeev Balyan, became a minister. The Dadri lynching and the reign of the Gau Rakshaks signaled dark clouds of further polarisation.

BJP, against expectations, has not lined up Ramjanmabhumi firebrands such as Yogi Adityanath or Sangeet Som for the UP elections. Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan has also not stepped out to bat for the Muslims. There were posters after the ‘surgical strikes’ depicting Narendra Modi as Lord Ram and Nawaz Sharif as Ravana, coinciding with Dussehra. Such hyperbole has become muted.…



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Hindutva And Cultural Nationalism: The Missing Chapter In Netaji’s Life – By Saswat Panigrahi (Jan 23, 2017, Swarajyamag.com)

Indian historiographers have deliberately brushed aside a significant chapter on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Today, as the nation commemorates the 120th birth anniversary of the most admired nationalist-revolutionary, it is significant to lay bare the unread chapter on Netaji’s life.

A careful study of the life and times of Netaji clearly suggests that the great patriot championed the cause of Hindutva and cultural nationalism. As a quintessential Hindu, Subhas Chandra Bose considered Vedanta and Srimad Bhagavad Gita as his sources of inspiration in the fight against the British.

A young Subhas was moved by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings on universalism and his fresh interpretation of Indian scriptures. Similarly, the writings of Sri Aurobindo had a lasting impression on his mind. In addition, Bose drew influences from Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s teachings. All those together helped shape up his social-political activism, loaded with a nationalistic fervour and driven by a religious fascination ever since his young days.…



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Modi Cult Building Is Part Of Hindu Rashtra Building – By Shamsul Islam (Jan 22, 2017, Countercurrents)

There has been a universal belief among the modern historians and political scientists that history does not repeat ever. But recent happenings in the ‘largest’ democracy, India and the ‘greatest’ democracy, USA seem to have presented a challenge to the above dictum. It was in the mid-20th Century that world witnessed the rise of totalitarian ideologies like Nazism and Fascism in Germany and Italy.

Generally, we know how these two debased ideologies under the leadership of Hitler and Mussolini came to power leading to the World War II which caused unparalleled death, devastation and misery to the world. But another fact not much known is that both Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy came to power through prevalent constitutional system in their respective countries. They were able to use weaknesses of the constitutional systems in their countries and turned the polities into unbridled dictatorships, themselves becoming cults.

India and USA seem to have gone through the same process and towards the same end. Narendra Bhai Modi, a seasoned pracharak (whole-timer)of the RSS who was described decades back as ‘fascist-in-making’ by a renowned Indian sociologist, and criticized even by the Supreme Court of India for his handling of the Gujarat Genocide of 2002, became Prime Minister of India in 2014 with only 30% of the polled votes.… It may be a matter of immense pleasure to our PM Modi and his team that this dictum of one flag, one leader and one ideology was directly borrowed from the programmes of Nazi and Fascist parties of Europe which RSS wants to execute in India in order to get rid of minorities.… One wishes that history does not repeat in this case.



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Mass rape of Adivasi women in Bastar: Why are human rights body and women’s panel mum? – By Rajkumar Soni (Jan 17, 2017, Catch News)

The roles of Chhattisgarh Human Rights Commission and Women’s Commission in the mass rape of Adivasi women in Bastar, have been under scrutiny for a while. The pressure has been upped in the wake of the notice sent to the state government by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Social workers and human rights workers have accused the government of making political appointments to major positions in the commission. And consequently, these appointees take into consideration the convenience of the government when it comes to deciding whether to take note of an incident or just ignore it.

After the rape of 16 Adivasi women from Kunna, Guler and Bellam Landra villages of district Bijapur in Bastar by police and security forces came to light, the NHRC issued a notice to state government, holding it indirectly responsible for it. After this notice the state government is being trounced thoroughly. Generally the commission recommends action only when a victim makes a complaint with facts. The commission can also take cognition of the matter looking to the gravity of the dastardly act. But in this case of Adivasi women, neither of the two commissions took note of the rape.…



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A Clarion Call – Editorial (Jan 21, 2017, EPW)

Even a year after Rohith Vemula’s suicide in the University of Hyderabad (UoH), it is difficult to express the anguish of lost dreams and aspirations of a young person whose death was preventable. In death, Rohith has inspired young people to come out in solidarity across the country.

In their struggle for justice for Rohith, his mother Radhika Vemula, along with the students’ Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, reached out across the country to support others in the fight against caste and communal prejudice, and discrimination. The past year has shown that a politics of wider solidarities is indeed one that is possible.

…Rohith’s legacy has become a clarion call against state oppression of underprivileged castes, minorities, and for all those who have been denied dignity and rights by the Indian state.…



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