IAMC Weekly News Roundup - January 27th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 27th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

National communal harmony award for CSSS (Jan 26, 2014, The Hindu)

The Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, has been selected for the National Communal Harmony Award 2013 in the organisation category. Mohinder Singh of Delhi and N Radhakrishnan of Kerala have been selected for the award in the individual category. Established in 1996, CSSS is a Mumbai-based organisation working to promote peace, secularism and communal harmony in the country. It has also been working on human rights issues and for the cause of the marginalised and deprived sections of society.

The centre has published a number of books and literary material highlighting different facets of violence, communalism, peace, secularism and communal harmony, which have wide readership. The centre has also been regularly publishing a quarterly journal ‘Indian Journal of Secularism’, which is popular among academics and the masses.

Dr. Singh, 72, is a scholar and member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. He was a Member of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities from 2005 to 2007. In 1984, he along with other social activists, organised relief camps at Delhi and restored friendship between the Hindu and Sikh communities in the wake of the anti-Sikh riots.

Dr. Radhakrishnan, 69, is a well-known academic, Gandhian scholar and peace worker. He initiated the Shanti Sena programme at the Gandhigram University and extended the work to other parts of the country. He has been actively working to restore peace in communally tense areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Having served as Director of Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, New Delhi, for more than a decade, he was instrumental in initiating and implementing many innovative activities in educational institutions using Gandhian values and principles. His campaign ‘Himsamukth Bharat Andolan’ motivates people to become foot soldiers in campaigning for peace and sustainable development.

The National Communal Harmony Awards were instituted in 1996 by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony, an autonomous organisation under the Union Home Ministry. In addition to a citation in each category, the award carries a cash award of Rs.5 lakh for individuals and Rs.10 lakh for organisations, according to an official release here on Saturday.


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2002 Gujarat riots: Zakia Jafri to move HC against clean chit to Modi (Jan 24, 2014, Times of India)

After a magisterial court upheld the clean chit given by the Supreme Court-mandated SIT to chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and 57 others over allegations of hatching larger conspiracy in the 2002 riots, complainant Zakia Jafri has now decided to move the Gujarat high court. Advocate S M Vora, who represents former MP Ehsan Jafri’s widow in the case, said that they have decided to file an appeal against metropolitan magistrate BJ Ganatra’s December 26, 2012 order, in which Zakia’s protest petition was turned down and SIT’s clean chit to Modi and other cops, bureaucrats and politicians was upheld.

Following the rejection of her protest petition, Zakia got the option to move either a sessions court or Gujarat high court to file a revision application. While upholding SIT’s closure report on Zakia’s 2006 complaint, the court said that there was not enough material to support allegations. SIT had been maintaining that there was no prosecutable evidence against Modi. The court observed that charges were leveled in systematic manner from different angles and material was placed in support, but there is no prima facie evidence against the accused.

Agreeing with the SIT and rejecting Zakia’s arguments, the court also said that it cannot believe that the train burning incident was a pre-panned conspiracy by people in the power. The court also upheld SIT’s conclusions that Modi administration called the Army in time. The court observed that Modi had addressed both the communities on Doordarshan and appealed for peace. “This shows that police and security forces were deployed to control the law and order situation in the state … the court does not agree that Modi did not take positive steps to control riots. If required, curfew was also clamped. In such circumstances, his act cannot be interpreted as conspiracy and abetment,” the order read.

The court rejected amicus curiae’s conclusion that Modi can be prosecuted for inciting communal hatred under section 153A and 505(2) of IPC because he spoke certain words in the meeting of February 27, 2002 evening at his residence. The court said that there is no evidence to establish that he spoke those words except the testimony of IPS Sanjiv Bhatt which is not trustworthy. Besides, these words were neither published nor propagated. Moreover, the court has also exonerated Modi from the charge of dereliction of duty. Describing Modi’s efforts for peace appeal and instructions to mobilize security forces, the court said that they reflected his emotions, and these acts cannot be considered criminal by any measure.

Accepting the SIT report, it said, “The state government took enough efforts to control law and order as per the requirement of the situation. This court cannot decide on whether they were enough on basis of the moral and ethical duties of the office bearers … This court agrees with SIT that Modi took enough efforts in short time after Godhra carnage to see that law and order situation did not deteriorate further and situation remained peaceful. Amicus curiae has also supported this conclusion and mentioned about these efforts in his report.”



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CBI may soon file charges against IB officers in Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case (Jan 21, 2014, Times of India)

After much delay, the CBI is likely to file its chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case against four Intelligence Bureau officers including former special director Rajinder Kumar even though legal opinion on their prosecution sanction is pending. CBI officials said the chargesheet would be filed next week if legal opinion on whether sanction is required to prosecute IB officers is not received. CBI sources said the court would be informed that legal opinion on prosecution sanction against IB officers was pending.

CBI officials said the chargesheet was ready since December 1 last year and they had approached the law ministry for legal opinion on whether sanction was required for IB officers, who technically come under the home ministry. Sources said they had enough evidence that IB officers were part of the conspiracy. The agency has already made it clear that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s close aide Amit Shah would not be named in the chargesheet as they did not find any evidence of any political conspiracy behind the alleged fake encounter.

The agency is seeking opinion on whether sanction from home ministry is needed to prosecute Rajinder Kumar (now retired) and three other IB officers – P Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede. One view holds that since Kumar was in service at the time of the alleged crime, sanction for his prosecution was needed from home ministry which is the cadre controlling authority.

Another opinion is that since he retired from service in July last year, the agency could go ahead with its chargesheet without any need for sanction to prosecute, sources said. They said if the law ministry felt a nod from home ministry was needed before filing the supplementary chargesheet, CBI will send a request seeking sanction to prosecute the officers.



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Samjhauta blasts: Aseemanand, three others charged with sedition, murder (Jan 24, 2014, The Tribune)

A Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, Panchkula, today framed charges against self-styled godman Swami Aseemanand and three others in the Samjhauta blasts case. Besides Aseemanand, the others are: Kamal Chauhan, Lokesh Sharma and Rajender Pehelwan Chaudhary.

In the early hours of February 19, 2007, 68 persons, mostly Pakistanis, were killed in a blast aboard the Samjhauta Express. The train was going from Delhi to Attari, the last station on the Indian side. The passengers were to board the train to Lahore in Pakistan the next day. The blasts took place in two compartments at Diwana village near the industrial town of Panipat.

The case was cracked by IPS Vishal Garg, investigating officer (IO) posted with the NIA who had also solved the Ajmer blasts case (2007). Aseemanand’s interrogation revealed that he had roped in Sandeep Dange, an engineering graduate, and Ramji Kalsangra, an electrician, to build the improvised explosive devices used in the blasts. They are absconding.

One of the accused, Sunil Joshi, is now dead. On June 20, 2011, the NIA had filed a chargesheet against Swami Aseemanand and others. Aseemanand had recently applied for bail, but it was rejected. The agency had in August filed a supplementary chargesheet against RSS worker Kamal Chauhan and his associate Amit charging them with murder, conspiracy and other offences.



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ATS chief offered Rs 25 lakh to confess crime: ‘arms dealers’ (Jan 22, 2014, Indian Express)

Suspected arms dealers, Manish Nagori alias Manya (24) and Vilas Khandelwal (22) Tuesday sparked off a controversy as they told a local court that Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria offered them Rs 25 lakh for falsely confessing their involvement in the murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar. They also alleged “political pressure” on the police to solve the case. Nagori and Khandelwal were arrested by the Pune police Monday for Dabholkar’s murder and produced before the magistrate’s court Tuesday.

The duo told the court they had nothing to do with the Dabholkar murder case. “We were arrested by the Thane police in the Mumbra case around 10.15 am on August 20. And Dabholkar was murdered in Pune around 8 am on the same day. Have we taken a plane or helicopter to reach Thane? We were not in Pune when the murder took place. Our cell phone call details also show our locations. Police have arrested us under political pressure,” they said.

“We were earlier arrested by the ATS. Maria saheb offered us Rs 25 lakh to confess the crime. The police told us there was huge political pressure from R R Patil (Home Minister). We were repeatedly questioned about Dabholkar case. Our narco analysis and lie detector tests were conducted too,” they said.

The ATS said the allegations levelled by Nagori and Khandelwal were baseless and false. Joint Commissioner of Police Sanjiv Singhal said there was no political pressure on them.

The police submitted before the court that three firearms were recovered by the Mumbra police from the suspects and their three aides when they were arrested in an extortion case in Thane. A ballistic report of these firearms was received on December 7, 2013, which said the 7.65 mm pistol recovered from Khandelwal and the firearms used to kill Dabholkar was same, the police submitted.



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ABVP men disrupt seminar on Muzaffarnagar riot at DU (Jan 22, 2014, India Tomorrow)

Dozens of members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Wednesday tried to disrupt a program organized by some academicians on the issue of Muzaffarnagar riots at Delhi School of Economics. The activists also shouted at speakers and chased some Kashmiri girl students who were attending the program. “As soon as I started speaking they shouted slogans and tried to disturb the program,” Ish Mishra, professor of Political Science at Hindu College of Delhi University, told India Tomorrow. “I asked them to sit down and offered that I am ready to answer all their questions after the meeting is over but they did not agree and started shouting,” Mishra added.

ABVP is a student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the parent body of Bharatiya Janata Party. A team of independent academics and a journalist carried out an inquiry into the communal violence that shook Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh in September 2013. The team visited the affected villages in Dec and made public their report earlier this month. Today the team conducted the seminar titled ‘Emergence of Hindu Fascist and the Pogrom in Muzaffarnagar’ where they presented their findings.

Ish Mishra was one of the members of the team that conducted the inquiry. Other members were Dr. Mohan Rao, Professor, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dr. Vikas Bajpai, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU and Ms. Pragya Singh, Journalist, Outlook magazine. “Police reached the venue at the Delhi University after some time but they were not doing their job properly,” Mishra alleged.

The activists also shouted slogans at some Kashmiri girl students who were attending the program and chased them away,” he further alleged. Mishra said that people of ABVP and other ‘fascist’ organizations are frustrated. “They are ideologically bankrupt since the beginning and now they are nervous and frustrated, they don’t have any program and policy to pursue,” he said. This is not first time when such things happened. In February 2012 ABVP tried to disturb a program on screening of a movie on Kashmir at Delhi School of Economics.



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Union Cabinet okays minority status for Jains (Jan 21, 2014, Times of India)

A day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Union Cabinet on Monday approved notification of Jains as a minority community at the national level. The Jains have thus become the sixth community to be granted such status after Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. Jains are about 0.4% of India’s population and in the 2001 census, were about 42 lakh-strong.

Their population is now estimated at around 50 lakh; Mumbai accounts for the largest number of about 10% (or 4-5 lakh). Once recognized as a minority, they will get a share in Central funds earmarked for welfare schemes and government programmes as well as scholarships. They can also manage and administer their own educational institutions.

A delegation of the Jain community led by Union minister Pradeep Jain had met Rahul on Sunday to press for their long-standing demand for minority status. The community already enjoys minority status in some states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan but the Cabinet decision extends that status across the country.

On Sunday, the Congress had said in a release that Jain Samaj leaders had spoken to Rahul about their long-pending demand for minority status for the community and urged him to support their cause. “Rahul recognized the role played by the Jain community in the social, cultural and economic development of the country. He assured the delegation that he would do his utmost to ensure fair and equitable recognition and representation for the Jain community,” the release said.



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NIA identifies 2 Naxals who led Darbha attack (Jan 24, 2014, Indian Express)

Nearly eight months after the brutal attack that wiped out the top leadership of the Congress in Chhattisgarh, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is said to have made the first breakthrough and identified two CPI (Maoist) commanders who led the attack. The duo were identified as Surender, head of Darbha divisional committee, and Jailal, incharge of second regional command company of CPI (Maoist), officials said.

The attack on the Congress convoy on May 25, 2013 resulted in 27 deaths, including that of former state minister Mahender Karma and Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel. Senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla later succumbed to injuries. The NIA, while probing the killings, had recently questioned CPI (Maoist) spokesperson G V K Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi who had surrendered before the Andhra Police.

Sources said that Usendi is believed to have named Surender and Jailal who headed a team of nearly 200-250 Naxals with the aim to kill Karma. Soon after the May 25 incident, Usendi took the responsibility of the attack and investigators believe he is aware about the plot and persons involved.

Sources in the agency also said that after the verification of the claims made by Usendi, the NIA will approach the court to get a warrant for the CPI (Maoist) leaders. Surender and Jailal, both have been learnt to have been given a promotion soon after the attack, officials said. While giving the details of the attack, Usendi said that the CPI (Maoist) only wanted to kill Karma but after they cornered the convoy, the cadres became violent which resulted in death of others. As per the accounts given by the spokesperson, nearly 250 cadres were trained for three days ahead of the attack. Surender, who led the attack, divided the group into four sub-groups which also included Naxals from Orissa who were part of the jan-militia.

However, the inner cordon consisted of Naxals from Chhattisgarh. Usendi is also learnt to have given sleuths details into the functioning of the CPI (Maoist) and names of all the top leaders who call the shots. Usendi may be cited as witness in the Darbha attack case as he was the one who signed the press statement owning the killings. The NIA also examined two alleged Maoists arrested by the Orissa police last year. However, officials said the two were not aware of the details of the plot.



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Bengal gang rape: Mamata removes top cop amid outrage (Jan 23, 2014, Yahoo)

Amid widespread outrage over the brutal gang rape of a tribal woman allegedly at the behest of a kangaroo court in Birbhum district, the West Bengal government Thursday found itself cornered over its handling of the issue. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later ordered the removal of the top district police officer. Superintendent of Police C. Sudhakar was shifted out in a bid to salvage matters.

The alleged rape took place Monday night in Subalpur village in Birbhum district, 180 km from Kolkata. The 20-year-old woman was allegedly raped by more than a dozen men following orders of a kangaroo court which found her “guilty of having an affair with a man outside her community”.

While police arrested all 13 people the woman had accused in her complaint, a local court sent the accused to 14 days judicial custody after police did not seek custody nor any public prosecutor appeared. “Neither any public prosecutor appeared nor police sought custody of the accused. So the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Bolpur, Pijush Ghosh sent them to 14 days jail custody,” victim’s counsel Dilip Ghosh said.

While opposition parties launched a scathing attack on the Banerjee government over the gang rape, police’s refusal to seek custody of the accused added fuel to fire. The Congress, Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party questioned the role of police and accused the government of being hand in glove with criminals. “Only because this government has been patronising and harbouring criminals, that not a single day passes when incidents of rape and molestation do not occur,” said Left Front chairman Biman Bose. …

While the state women’s panel has taken cognizance, the National Commission for Women too will send a probe team and demand an action taken report from the chief minister. … Unfortunately, the incident is not isolated. In 2010, a 15-year-old tribal girl was forced to parade naked through villages in her district for falling in love with a boy from another community. The girl from Battala village was stripped and forced to walk naked through four villages with her pictures taken and circulated through MMS.



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Local BJP leader arrested for dowry death (Jan 22, 2014, Business Standard)

Police today arrested a local BJP leader and two members of his family on charges of torturing his daughter-in-law over dowry and allegedly committed suicide.

Rakesh Jalota, his wife Poonam Jalota and son Vivek were arrested for the death of his daughter-in-law Neha, who allegedly committed suicide over demands for dowry, Phagwara SHO, Inspector Ravinder Singh said.

Neha was found hanging at her in-laws’ house in Vishwakarma Nagar yesterday, and her father Kishan Kumar Arora ofJalandhar had lodged a complaint against the Jalotas, the inspector said. Himmant Jalota, Neha’s brother-in-law, has not yet been arrested, but has been booked, the officer said.



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Are teachers’ caste details mandatory disclosures too? (Jan 26, 2014, DNA India)

Aristotle revered teachers with his words: “Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those, the art of living well.” Alas, 65 years after being declared a Republic, teachers in India, particularly in Gujarat, do not seem to be revered for their learning, but recognised only by their pedigree. Case in sight: A few primary schools in Ahmedabad district, where caste seems to be an important part of the teachers’ identity. For, the schools here have taken to a blatant public display of the caste details of teachers employed by these schools.

Take the case of the Kumar Shaala Primary School No. 1 in Sarkhej, where the display board not only clearly mentions the names of the teachers, their designations, hometown but also whether they have been selected under the SC, ST, OBC or general category. Activists, who have worked for the rights of Dalits and Other Backward Classes (OBC), believe that while pro-active information disclosure is welcome, the blatant display of the teachers’ caste further leads to discrimination, particularly in rural societies where caste loyalties still run deep.

At Chiada village of Bavla taluka, the Adarsh Primary School, too, displays the castes of its teachers. When asked why, an official said it was mandatory to disclose information about teachers. When asked if it was also mandatory to disclose their castes, the official said: “I don’t know. We have to give out all information, and so we do it.” Another official at the Sarkhej school said the information has been there for long and no one has raised any objections. Both the officials refused to come on record about the matter, though.

Ramila Parmar of Navsarjan, who has worked with people from marginalised communities in some of these villages, said the blatant display of caste only exacerbates discrimination against teachers from lower castes. “In rural areas, caste loyalties run strong. The teachers belong to different villages and many a time, you can’t identify their castes from their names. But such display of their caste credentials puts them at a risk of discrimination,” Parmar said, adding that this was the case at many primary schools in Ahmedabad taluka. “In some, the section displaying caste was removed after we questioned them.”

Echoing Parmar’s words, a teacher at a primary school said: “I see a sea change in the attitude and behaviour of parents the moment they know that I belong to the OBC category. We, too, had such a display in our school. But it was later removed after protest,” said the teacher, who did not wish to be identified for fear of reprisal from the authorities. And, despite repeated attempts, Sangeeta Singh, principal secretary, state education department, could not be reached for her comment. A message to her asking if the primary department had issued any notification stating that teachers’ details, including caste, be put up went unanswered. Even state education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama did not respond to phone calls.



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Opinions and Editorials

Narendra Modi: Economic Vision: Where The Black Waters Part – By Prarthna Gahilote (Feb 3, 2014, outlook)

“You’ll be able to smell it,” is the constant refrain when we ask for directions to Vapi, an industrial town sitting on the southern end of the country’s Golden Corridor, a 400-km industrial belt in Gujarat. To reach this city in Valsad district, we travel on National Highway 8 which stretches from Mumbai to Surat. The highway itself is a joy to drive on, see¬ming to deliver the promise of Narendra Modi’s ‘Vibrant Gujarat’. But as Vapi app¬roaches, more than the highway signboards marking distances, it’s the afore-mentioned smell, a pungent odour, that lets us know we are nearing our destination.

The approach to the city is marked with chimneys from the 1,048 registered industrial units jutting into the skyline. The town is grey and smoky, engulfed in haze. In the distance, from the vantage point of the elevated corridor, we can spot black smoke emitting from the factories dotting the vast Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) area that half of Vapi inhabits. …

Every house in Kolak village has a ‘pollution file’, complete documentation of the long battle the villagers have waged on that front. Eighty-year-old Kantibhai Makrand, a cancer survivor, is bitter about the present and the future: “Traditionally, this is a fishing village. We had 48 boats in the village, supporting a population of 7,000 people exporting Bombay Duck, fish moss and fish fin. When the industries came, they polluted the rivers. Now the fish are all dead and the water is toxic.”

For proof, one just has to walk near the Kolak river bank bordering the village. The water is black and the stink is overpowering. The Vel khadi in Murraih village has sludge and foam floating on top and the Damanganga looks more like a drain. That’s why in 2010, tired of government apathy on the drinking water shortage in the area, Kolak’s villagers got together to collect donations for a private water filter plant. Set up at a cost of Rs 15 lakh, the plant caters to the needs of 50,000 people in the eight villages around Kolak. The heavily chlorinated water supplied by the state-run water works department is used for washing purposes only.

In Udwada, Danik Patel, once a farmer and now a construction labourer, says, “You can’t farm here anymore. Sugarcane and paddy that once grew well are all finished. Water and air pollution have ruined the soil.” Dismissing the clamour over pollution, Anil G. Patel, regional officer, GPCB, Vapi, has a ready defence: “There has been tremendous improvement in the last three years. We have pushed industries to spend Rs 300 crore on upgrading technology for treatment of waste. In the last six months alone, we have served 70 closure notices to various units for not following proper guidelines.” Quiz Patel on why the MOEF reimposed the tag of ‘critically polluted’ city on Vapi and he hints at the issue being “politically motivated”.



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The displaced of Muzaffarnagar – By Urvashi Sarkar (Jan 21, 2014, DNA India)

Don’t mention the word cancer,” cautions Liaqat Sheikh as he leads the way to a small tent in Joula camp where his wife Bina is bedridden. It is pitch dark inside. There is electricity only at night. Bina lies tucked under blankets, and struggles to sit up, her face gaunt. Though her family has kept the tent clean, the surrounding squalor and dirt of the camp defeat the purpose. “The doctors suspect cancer. This can only be confirmed after tests are done in Delhi,” says Liaqat, who belongs to Hasanpur village. Liaqat fled with his family, including six children, during the Muzaffarnagar riots of September 2013 and found refuge at a camp in Joula in Muzaffarnagar.

Bina requires proper medical care, but Liaqat is unable to proceed with treatment since he has lost his source of livelihood. The family sold their buffalo for her diagnosis which cost them Rs35,000-40,000. Doctors have asked them to shift Bina to a hospitals in Dehradun or Chandigarh, where the cost of treatment is beyond their reach. “My house was burnt down. I have incurred losses worth Rs4-5 lakh. The expenses for my wife’s treatment have so far come from my brothers, loans on interest and imdad (relief),” says Liaqat, his tone a mix of resignation and anger. Compensation is remote since the Uttar Pradesh government has not yet recognised Hasanpur village as riot-affected, though it is part of the Lisadhi gram panchayat, which was recognized as riot-hit.

Liaqat’s plight is not a stray affair. There is misery all around in the camp. According to Ghulam Mohammed Joula of the Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Manch, 90,000 to 1 lakh people were rendered without livelihoods following the riots. “They have lost their homes and jobs and are surviving on aid. People were initially engaged as labourers, drivers and carpenters, but now they have no source of income.” Poverty has induced existing illnesses to fester and encouraged fresh ones to take root.

Close to Bina’s tent, lives Afsana who suffers from tuberculosis and visits Mehrauli every fortnight to receive treatment. Neither she nor her husband have any source of income. There is also Mohammed Qasim, worried about his nine-year-old son Umar. While rolling up the boy’s sleeves, Qasim draws attention to a bone jutting out, which must be set. “His hand was plastered but it didn’t help.” Thirty five-year-old Sanjeeda, mother of four, has been suffering from a staggering range of illnesses, including tuberculosis, jaundice and typhoid. She has lost all but her voice and even then struggles to speak. Her husband earns Rs300 a day, which is spent for her treatment. …

A visit to Kandhla, Malakpur and Joula camps reveals that some relief had reached through civil society’s efforts. The victims, at least, had a single layer (though flimsy) of warm clothing. They are grateful for the clothes and food but mention the need for housing. At Malakpur camp, brick structures have emerged, though most people still continue to live in tents. One also sees goats and bullocks. This was not the case in September when, after the riots broke out, these camps witnessed poverty and starvation. Imran Mohammed of Malakpur camp has opened a small provisions store where he sells sweets. A few have started selling vegetables. At Kandhla camp, Nafedi Babu says that he has sent two sons to Haryana to work in the garments business. But men finding work are exceptions. The displaced of Muzaffarnagar are grappling with issues that determine their survival – health, livelihood and homes, even as the SP looks the other way.



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The ‘Caged Parrot’ Has Changed Its Cage – By Mukul Sinha (Jan 18, 2014, Tehelka)

On 3 July last year, when the CBI filed the first chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan case, it took the permission of the Ahmedabad (Rural) Judicial Magistrate to file a supplementary chargesheet later. Six months have passed, but the CBI is yet to file it. Instead, in the past four weeks or so, there have been several leaked stories in the major national dailies asserting that the CBI has given a clean chit to Amit Shah, who was the Gujarat MoS (Home) at the time of the killing, and BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi. The CBI has now leaked yet another story that Shah had claimed that the several calls he made in June 2004 to former IPS officer DG Vanzara, the main accused in the case, were official phone calls regarding a rath yatra. The investigation agency has apparently accepted Shah’s words as the truth.

The regularity with which stories have been leaked in the name of “highly placed sources in the CBI”, without any denial coming from the agency, makes it clear that the CBI is hand-in-glove with Modi and Shah to let them off the hook in the Ishrat case. Even before filing a supplementary chargesheet, the CBI has announced its findings in the public domain, perhaps to please the BJP and its PM candidate. The “caged parrot” seems to have changed its cage!

The evidence provided by the CBI in the first chargesheet, however, tells a different story. And the most clinching evidence is the statement under Section 161 of the CrPC by GL Singhal, a top police officer who was working under Vanzara, which pins down both the Gujarat CM and Amit Shah in no uncertain terms: “Later, on 14th afternoon at around 1500 hrs, when I was in my office at Gaikwad Haveli, I had received a call from Shri Vanzara. He had instructed me to meet him at Shahibaug office. Accordingly, I met him at Bungalow No. 15, Duffnala, Shahibaug with my Reader. He had showed me a complaint written in his own handwriting wherein some contents (names, number of rounds etc) were not written. It was pertaining to this case and the story of encounter… I had voiced my disagreement to Shri Vanzara on reading this draft complaint.

“My differences were basically on two points. One, the motive in the draft FIR mentioned a plan to kill the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi; but this was wrong. Since I had interrogated Amjadali, I knew the motive was different. Two, I had serious objections to killing the girl, Ishrat. I had said we let her go, and had promised to ensure that she would not spill the beans about this operation to anyone. Despite my strong objections, Shri Vanzara insisted on keeping the motive involving the Chief Minister and on killing the girl and branding her later as a woman terrorist. He had told me that this was already discussed with kali dadhi and safed dadhi, and that they wanted it that way… I was not convinced and felt very uneasy about it, and had left the office.” …

Shah should have checked his phone records for the next three days before making this statement. Vanzara’s call records placed in the chargesheet reveal that there was not a single call on 16, 17 and 18 June between him and Shah. If Shah was indeed speaking to Vanzara about the rath yatra, he would certainly have made several calls as the scheduled day approached. And Shah would have called the Ahmedabad police commissioner rather than an officer of the Crime Branch that was busy conducting the fake encounter, but he didn’t do that even once during this period. To believe Shah’s lie would make it seem as if he and Vanzara had completed the ‘bandobast’ of the rath yatra with the successful execution of the encounter on 15 June 2004!



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A Bloody Blow To Sikh Psyche – By Ravi Nitesh (Jan 25, 2014, Tehelka)

The stated intent of Operation Bluestar, in the early days of June 1984, was to evict the separatists holed up in the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines. It defies logic but the Indian Army, under orders of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, chose 3 June, the day marking the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the founder of the shrine, to launch the offensive. The number of pilgrims at the temple was unusually high. Facing intense resistance, the Indian Army brought armoured tanks into the sanctum sanctorum and the soldiers defiled the place by walking in with their boots on. Along with the separatists and their leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a large number of innocent pilgrims lost their lives. Simultaneously, the army unleashed its wrath on the Punjab countryside, picking up and killing innocents. All of this sounds like it was an operation conducted in haste, ill-planned and not well thought out. The operation was, in fact, an unparalleled disaster.

The Sikh community felt abused. They felt the nation had disrespected their religious freedom. Bhindranwale became a folk hero. Indira Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards assassinated her on 31 October. In the riots that followed, many thousands of Sikhswere killed, looted, maimed, raped and rendered homeless. The rage that the Sikhsfelt resulted in an escalation of violence in Punjab for another decade. The events mark the erosion of the social contract between the Sikh community and the Indian State. A consequence of this was that many Sikhs sought to escape Punjab and India to start their lives in countries they felt will be less hostile to the community. Britain became one of the biggest destinations for the Sikhs who migrated away from India.

Recent reports coming in from Britain, from declassified documents, point to disturbing facts: they show that as early as February 1984, Indira Gandhi was in talks with her counterpart Margaret Thatcher seeking help from the Special Air Service (SAS) to flush out the separatists from the Golden Temple. Labour MP Tom Watson and Lord Indarjit Singh have demanded an explanation. The British prime minister has ordered an urgent inquiry into the matter. More facts may emerge to tell us why the operation looked so ad hoc when it was being planned for months in advance. Yet, one truth is clear. In a year the Sikhs mark a century of joining in the British Army – and later helping the Allies win World Wars I and II – the fact that Britain was complicit in the destruction of the Golden Temple and the Akal Takht, the seat of justice for the community, is a bloody blow to the Sikh psyche.

This flies in the face of the questions the Sikhs who have migrated threw at the Sikhs who stayed back in India: does India treat the Sikhs better than other countries treat them? The IndianSikhs often fail to respond affirmatively because of the three decades of denial of justice to them. Now, the files reveal, that line of questioning and engaging with each other is divisive for the Sikh community. Now we know why it is wrong to believe that only one nation is hostile; nations often gang up against communities. Perhaps every Sikh child has grown up with these lines by Kabir: “Soora so pahchaniye, je lade deen ke het/Purja-purja kat mare, kabhu na chhade khet (The brave fights for the poor. Even when cut to pieces, the brave does not abandon the battlefield)”. Traditionally, Sikhs have been the soldiers of the society. Now that the declassified documents reveal the collusion of nations against them, it is time for the Sikhs to defend the community.

The British files are a reminder that there is no political succor in escaping India and looking for a safe nation elsewhere. A reminder that Sikhs must unite as a community and, instead of looking at individual governments to address our problems, we need to leave aside questions of which nation is better for us and find ways of becoming a viable and demanding constituency. The files are a prompt for the Sikhs to use their diverse strengths to come together and fight for the cause of justice.



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Negligence, lies: Mumbai cops shamed in missing techie case – By Kavitha Iyer (Jan 27, 2014, First Post)

The night after Delhi’s law minister was staging a televised midnight raid in Delhi, a family gathered in Mumbai from Machilipatnam, Vijayawada, and as far as Doha, Qatar. They first huddled together in a police station, and then in the dank mortuary of a public hospital. The tale of 23-year-old Esther Anuhya, employed with Tata Consultancy Services in Mumbai, had reached the dark turn they had been dreading for days.

Esther, who had gone missing on 5 January after alighting at the suburban Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and had just been found that evening, dead, partially burnt, her body decomposed beyond recognition, blunt injuries on her body.

But even that grief was outpaced by the outrage they felt – they had told the Mumbai Police on 6 January that they had traced her cellphone’s last signal to Bhandup, but not only had the police been unwilling and their response cold, but the body was also eventually found by despairing family members who formed search parties and combed the thicket themselves.

Over the next few days, amid the din of the vigilante ministers and the Sunanda Tharoor-Kejriwal dharna headlines, the sorry tale of the Mumbai Police’s inaction, negligence and tragedy, one that would have had urban India choking, was covered quietly, minus the de rigueur television outrage. …



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Giving Dalits their due – By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Feb 7, 2014, Frontline)

In a significant legislative move, the Union government’s Ministry of Tribal Affairs released a draft Bill for the implementation of the long-neglected Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP), a special programme mandated by the Planning Commission to benefit the Scheduled Tribes. The Bill, which was released in the end of November 2013, will complement the Bill on the Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) released in June 2013. Both Bills recommend statutory status for these programmes and are an important step forward in making them stronger. They also recommend institutionalisation of accountability mechanisms in case of non-implementation of these programmes.

The SCSP, drafted by former Indian Administrative Service officer and prominent civil rights activist P.S. Krishnan in 1978, requires the Central and State governments to allocate budget funds for Dalits in proportion to their number in the population so as to enhance the flow of development benefits to them. It would entail earmarking 16.2 per cent of the total Plan outlay in the Union Budget for the Scheduled Castes, whose population was pegged around that figure in Census 2001. Similarly, the TSP mandates governments to earmark for the Scheduled Tribes 8.2 per cent of the total Plan outlay.

The Union and State governments have shown little interest in the implementation of these programmes. However, advocacy demanding proper implementation of the two sub-plans has gathered steam in the last 15 years. Leaders of some advocacy groups allege that governments have colluded with the dominant castes to prevent the implementation of these programmes. The activists, therefore, see the Bills as a shot in the arm for their cause.

As many as 151 Dalit and Adivasi groups from 22 States gathered in New Delhi in December and during the month met all-party delegations and political leaders separately. Land rights for Dalits and Adivasis, under the SCSP and the TSP, have been the main demand of these groups. On December 10, International Human Rights Day, thousands of Dalits and Adivasis protested in New Delhi to claim land rights for poor, landless Dalit and tribal families through land distribution for housing and agriculture. Addressing the rally, many Dalit leaders demanded that the provision should be included in the SCSP and the TSP. Following this, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh assured the activists that the Bills would be presented to the Union Cabinet so that they could be introduced in Parliament in subsequent sessions.…



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Book Review

26/11 Probe – Why Judiciary Also Failed

Author: S.M. Mushrif
Reviewed by: Sumit S Paul
Available at: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, D-84 Abul Fazl Enclave-I, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi – 110 025, Delhi, India; 2014; Pages: 218/ PB ISBN: 978-81-7221-062-5; Price: Rs 275 /Euro 11. http://www.pharosmedia.com/
26/11 Probe: A Seismic Book (Jan 21, 2014, Milli Gazette)

“Truth is always unnerving. It strikes like a blitzkrieg and often catches us unawares,” wrote the great Mexican poet and Nobel laureate Octavio Paz in his poem “The ruins of Aztec”. The very first line of S M Mushrif’s explosive new book, “26/11 Probe – Why Judiciary Also Failed?” reminds one of Paz’s pithy observation because this book drags us out of our comfort zone and (false) belief that was systematically fed by Intelligence Bureau (IB), right wing groups and other security agencies of Indian government revolving around the charade that started on the fateful night of November 26, 2008 claiming many innocent lives and three (Hindu) police officers, Hemant Karkare being the chief martyr.

Before I descant upon the contents of this volatile book, I must say that this book is devoid of any communal prejudice, despite being painstakingly penned by a former top cop (S M Mushrif, ex-Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra), who happens to be a Muslim but is above religiosity. His first book “Who Killed Karkare” (2009) also engendered a raft of uncomfortable questions that rattled right wing groups and IB. The latest book further throws light on the nefarious and Hindu religio-centric designs of IB and its arbitrary interference with judiciary.

It must be mentioned categorically that one Mr Radhakant Yadav, a 77-year-old veteran socialist leader of Bihar and a three-time member of the Bihar Legislative Assembly, filed a Criminal Writ Petition in the Bombay High Court in July 2010 after reading Mr Mushrif’s first book “Who Killed Karkare”. He was thoroughly convinced by the meticulous points raised by Mushrif. In the petition, Mr Yadav pointed out the serious shortcomings in the investigation and demanded a re-investigation of the case by an independent agency. It’s obvious that Mr Yadav smelt a rat and he could discern the serious flaws and discrepancies in the investigation conducted by Intelligence Bureau, comprising right wing Hindus (Brahmins, to be more precise). … Yadav’s trenchant petition leaves IB as well as judiciary flabbergasted because it further underlines that Mushrif’s arguments in his first book are not an opium-eater’s incoherent ramblings and gibberish. The second book (26/11 Probe) further consolidates his stand that there’s a very big conspiracy that has far and wide ramifications. …

The book reveals a host of facts that were intentionally shelved by the IB. In fact, 26/11 didn’t catch IB and other investigative agencies with their pants down. IB was very much in the know of the fact that LeT sent a group of terrorists from Pakistan to create mayhem in Mumbai. It (IB) allowed the group to enter, in order to execute its own plan to eliminate Karkare taking advantage of the huge chaos. It was actually a “parallel execution” in the parlance of criminology. Karakre had become a thorn in the flesh of Hindu militant outfits because of his upright stand against the explosions actually masterminded by Hindu organizations. His elimination, therefore, became a sine qua non.

Mushrif provides a DVD to buttress his point. Truth is here for all to read and see, literally as well as metaphorically. That Mushrif’s first book was not banned is an evidence enough that its contents were too volcanic for any agency or government to suppress. And now the second book, “26/11 Probe,” explodes all myths that were woven around 26/11 by IB.