IAMC Weekly News Roundup - January 5th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 5th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Indian court drops charges against ruling party leader of ordering extra-judicial killings (Dec 30, 2014, Star Tribune)

A special Indian court on Tuesday dropped criminal charges against Amit Shah, the president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, who was accused of ordering three extra-judicial killings by police nearly a decade ago.

The court in India’s Central Bureau of Investigation said there was little evidence to prove that Shah, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, directed police to abduct and kill a small-time criminal and his wife in Gujarat state in 2005 and a witness to their abduction. …

The Central Bureau of Investigation, the country’s top investigative agency, had accused Shah of running an extortion racket with police. It said the dead criminal was involved in the racket but had a falling out with Shah, who allegedly ordered police to kidnap him and wife in 2005. It said the two were later killed in a staged gunbattle, as was the witness to their abductions. The bureau said it had records of telephone calls between Shah and police officers involved in the shootings. The officers remain on trial. It was not immediately clear whether the bureau will appeal the court ruling.



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Indian police do it again: Surat Rural Police dress ‘terrorists’ as Muslims (Jan 1, 2015, First Post)

The Surat Rural Police have created a storm of controversy, after a simulated anti-terrorism drill saw the force getting their decoy terrorists to wear skullcaps, indicating a bias against a particular community. According to an Ibnlive report, two civilians posing as terrorists and wearing skull caps, were arrested by the police as part of the drill. …

The Congress for its part, said that the incident was another example of the BJP government attempting to create a divide among communities in the country. However, the stereotyping of terror suspects is not confined to the Surat Police, nor is it a new phenomenon. In 2008 the Delhi police had paraded terror suspects from the Batla House encounter in keffiyehs, the scarf associated with Arab men, only to face outrage from the community.

Another person, Yusuf Nalband, arrested in a terror case by the Hyderabad and Bangalore Police reportedly said that all the suspects were forced to wear prayer caps before they were taken out in public view. He was later discharged in the case. …

While the Surat Rural Police may believe the incident was merely a[n] avoidable error, it is the reinforcement of a stereotype that does little to improve policing and only feeds the discontent against the Indian state that terror groups feed on.



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Idea of a ‘homogeneous’ nation is problematic: Hamid Ansari (Dec 28, 2014, Times of India)

Amid the raging controversy over Sangh Parivar’s Hindutva agenda, Vice President Hamid Ansari on Sunday cautioned against connecting faith and history and propagating a “homogeneous” national identity when there are over 4,600 communities in the country. The Vice President said the idea of a homogeneous nation is problematic.

“Our 4,635 communities, according to the Anthropological Survey of India, is a terse reminder about the care that needs to be taken while putting together the profile of a national identity,” Ansari said while inaugurating the 75th session of Indian History Congress.

“The global scene in modern times has been replete with complexities and tensions of what has been called the national question. We live in a world of nation states but the idea of a homogeneous nation state is clearly problematic. Diversity is identifiable even in the most homogeneous of societies today,” he said.

Warning against any straight-jacket edifice for national identity “that came to grief” in other societies, Ansari said the pluralist structures in India that have stood the test for over six decades need “constant nurturing”. …



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Hindu boy with Muslim name arrested in connection with Bengaluru blast (Dec 30, 2014, Siasat)

A Hindu teen-aged boy was detained in connection with the low intensity bomb blast which struck the Silicon Valley of India on Sunday. The Bengaluru police arrested him for sending out tweets claiming responsible for the blast and also threatening more bomb blasts in Bengaluru.

The arrested boy, named Alok Kumar is a first year engineering student of a college located on outskirts of Bengaluru.

A fake account using the name Abdul Khan was created on the microblogging site and the nabbed boy claimed responsibility for Sunday’s blast in a series of tweets, police said.…



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No converted Manjhi turns up for ‘ghar wapsi’ (Dec 30, 2014, Indian Express)

The much-hyped “ghar wapsi” event organised by the VHP proved to be a damp squib as none of the 42 converted Christian Manjhi families – who were provided adequate police security – turned up at the “purification” function on Monday. Around 50 villagers, mostly OBC Yadavas who are already Hindus, attended the function that saw a havan amid chants of Vedic mantras and distribution of saffron scarfs and tulsi necklaces.

The VHP leaders, however, claimed some Christians attended the ghar wapsi event organised near Atiya village. Gaya BJP MP Hari Manjhi, who had visited the village on December 26 and was supposed to attend the function, stayed away because of “political reasons”. VHP’s prant sanrakshak Uday Kumar Verma said the outfit would set up one-teacher school or ekal vidyalaya where the village students would also be taught about Hindu values.

The Gaya district administration, which had received complaints from some Manjhi families about the VHP leaders putting pressure on them to reconvert, had deployed adequate forces at Manjhi settlements and also succeeded in forcing the saffron outfit to organise the “ghar wapsi” at some distance from their houses to avoid clashes. The 42 converted families have altogether 198 members. …



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1997 MCD election riots: Court acquits 7 persons after 17 years (Dec 29, 2014, Economic Times)

Seven persons accused of disrupting the 1997 MCD elections by tearing ballot papers and rioting at various polling booths here have been acquitted by a Delhi court after the complainant and other prosecution witnesses failed to identify them.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sheetal Chaudhary Pradhan absolved Delhi residents Asif Namberdar, Asif Chaudhary, Yusuf, Naseem, Soech Danish, Owaish Mohammad Khan and Mohamad Jahangir of the charges including rioting and unlawful assembly under the IPC and provisions of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.

“The prosecution has miserably failed to substantiate the offences alleged against the accused persons since prima facie requirement of establishing the identity of the accused persons had been completed derailed. With this judgement, the trial of 17 years has come to end and the most glaring part of it is that, the 23 prosecution witnesses have given contradictory statements. The testimonies do not inspire confidence,” the magistrate said. …



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Attack on Muslims on Sunday night was planned, says panel (Jan 6, 2015, Indian Express)

A day after the communal clashes at Parel, Byculla, Dadar and Worli, the State Minority Commission on Monday wrote to the Mumbai Police claiming that the assault on several Muslim youths at Lalbaug on Sunday night was a planned conspiracy aimed at instilling fear in the minds of members of the minority community.

“On Sunday night, those returning from a procession celebrating Prophet Mohammed’s birth anniversary were attacked. The visual evidence available shows that the incidents in Parel, Byculla, Dadar and Worli were pre-planned,” the minority panel’s chairman Munaf Hakim said in the letter. He further stated that an armed mob deliberately stopped and assaulted Muslims who were travelling in vehicles.

“The visual evidence clearly shows that a mob emerged from these localities and stopped cars and motorcycles and assaulted people,” the letter stated while demanding action against all those found to be involved in the incidents.…



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Raze ‘Islamic’ dome atop govt building: BJP (Jan 4, 2015, Times of India)

The new nagar palika office at Jhalu town of Bijnor district has a dome at the top. Now, a BJP delegation has petitioned the district magistrate, saying the dome should be dismantled as it “represents an Islamic symbol”. BJP city president Sanjay Verma said, “The dome symbolizes Islam. It relates to a particular religion. There is considerable anger about this among residents of Jhalu.”

He said the dome should be removed, or the BJP will be compelled to protest. If a situation that disrupts law and order emerges, Verma said, it will be because of the lackadaisical attitude of the administration. There are at present 12 nagar palikas and six city panchayats in Bijnor district. All 12 palikas have Muslim representatives as chairmen; of city panchayats, only one has a Hindu chairperson. The BJP thus has all the more reason to protest the shape of the Jhalu Nagar Palika office.

This controversy, however, is not without precedent. On May 29, a similar situation arose in Kiratpur, where too a dome had been erected atop the nagar palika building. BJP and other Hindu right-wing groups had staged a protest that turned violent. A report was filed in the police station against 150 unknown people for arson.…



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‘Bid to reach out to minorities only a gimmick’ (Dec 31, 2014, Indian Express)

Congress Wednesday dismissed as a “camouflage” the BJP government’s attempt to reach out to minorities, saying “gimmickry, imagery and advertisement” cannot conquer substance.

The Indian Express on Wednesday reported about MoS for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s plan to tour areas which have a high minority population and the government roping in actor Amitabh Bachchan for an ad film that stresses the need to rise above religion and caste for inclusive development.

“Amitabh Bachchan is a very respected and tall leader of Bollywood… We have nothing to say as far as he is concerned. All I can say is all the camouflage, gimmickry, imagery, self promotion and all the advertisement can never conquer substance,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.



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2 cops rape minor at police station, suspended (Jan 2, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday directed strict action against two police constables who allegedly kidnapped and raped a 14-year-old girl inside the Musajhag police station in Badaun district on December 31. IG (law and order) A Satish Ganesh said the state government had on Friday suspended the accused station house officer of Musajhag police station, Ram Lakhan Singh.

A medical examination of the girl confirmed sexual assault. Police teams are conducting raids in Badaun, Bareilly and neighbouring districts to nab the absconding constables. After the CM’s directive, additional director general of police (crime) HC Awasthi left for Badaun in the morning to coordinate with the district police in the investigation of the case and arrest of the absconding police constables.…

On January 1, the girl along with her mother went to Musajhag police station to lodge a complaint against the constables but the station in-charge refused to pay any heed. Later, she met city superintendent of police Lallan Singh and handed over her complaint. After the incident was highlighted by the media, an FIR was registered against the constables.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Closed encounters of the ominous kind – By Siddharth Varadarajan (Jan 4, 2015, Times of India)

The most astonishing aspect of the CBI court’s decision to release Amit Shah from all charges connected to the 2005-06 murders of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati is not that the judge chose to see the BJP president’s prosecution as politically motivated. Rather, it is that the Central Bureau of Investigation doesn’t seem particularly worried about the judgment’s implications for its own reputation and for the very future of the fake encounter case.

While discharging Shah from the sensational crime, the court has not only thrown out crucial evidence against the former Gujarat home minister but also undermined the foundations of the case that remains against some two dozen police officials before their trial has even begun. …

Though the CBI court’s logic runs completely counter to the Supreme Court’s arguments, the future of the case now lies with the CBI. Will it aggressively push for an appeal for which it has very strong grounds, or will the ‘caged parrot’ flap its clipped wings and say only what its political masters want it to? The future of the rule of law, and indeed of democracy in India, will turn on this question.



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Ghar Wapsi: Welcome to the Hellhole of Hinduism – By Anand Teltumbde (Jan 3, 2015, EPW)

Drunk with political power, the hydra-headed Sangh Parivar has gone berserk with spreading communal hatred against religious minorities with Goebbelseque persistence of lies and venomous intrigues. While flaunting ultra nationalistic rhetoric, it has been threatening the fragile fabric of the nation and pushing the country towards an inevitable civil war. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its political outfit, catapulted itself to power at the centre by capitalising on the resentment of people against the listless performance of the corrupt and arrogant Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance government, by dangling the carrot of development, with massive financing from corporate coffers.…

The monkey brigade of the Sangh Parivar has been let loose to advance the project of communalisation and thereby invigorate the Parivar constituency. But besides the numerous named and unnamed Sangh Parivar outfits, even persons occupying positions in the executive of the state, like Smriti Irani, the Union Human Resource Development Minister, and the Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, not to speak of some other BJP Members of Parliament (MPs), all of whom have made a mark with their irrational and absurd suggestions or moves. …

The head of the Parivar, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Sarsangchalak (supreme leader), Mohan Bhagwat, has already declared that India is “our” Hindu Rashtra and their aim is to convert all Muslims and Christians to Hinduism by 2021. He has commissioned his monkey brigade to accomplish this task, calling it ghar wapsi.…

Which castes do the converts land up in? This crucial question is conveniently sidelined. Inadvertently, Yogi Adityanath, the Hindutva face of the BJP, demystified this issue by revealing that “those being subjected to ghar vapasi will be given the Gotra and caste from which they converted”. That means, most converts to Islam and Christianity, being from the lower castes who had converted to escape the yoke of the caste bondage of Hinduism, would be reincarcerated into the hellhole of Hinduism which their forefathers strove to escape. What a prospect for the Muslims and Christians of India!



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It is ‘PK’ Protestors Who Are Mocking Hinduism – By Siddharth Varadarajan (Dec 29, 2014, NDTV)

…The Aamir Khan-starring movie has been cleared for public exhibition by the Central Board for Film Certification and has been very popular with audiences, grossing over Rs. 200 crore in its first week. But a section of the Sangh Parivar – that group of moral policemen who want to control what Indians watch, wear, sing, read, and eat, as well as whom they can love and where they can live – wants the film banned and has resorted to violence in several cities across BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Though the majority of Indians who have seen and enjoyed the film are probably Hindu and there are no reports of ordinary moviegoers saying their religion was slighted in any way, those demanding a ban insist PK mocks Hinduism.

Prominent among the protestors is the Hindu Mahasabha. This is an extremist group whose founder, V.D. Savarkar, is part of the RSS pantheon of heroes and whose most infamous member, Nathuram Godse, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.…



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Fallacies of Hindutva Historiography – By Romila Thapar (Jan 3, 2015, EPW)

…A historical consciousness existed in texts from early times in India and we need to know which are these texts and the form in which this consciousness is expressed in them. This is a different exercise from that which has become more frequent these days, and more so among non-historians, namely, to repeatedly say that we must turn to the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas in order to know our real history, and discard what western scholars, Nehruvian secularists and Marxists have reconstructed as our history; and that the above-mentioned texts contain our true history. …

Which Purana do we take as representing an authentic view of the Indian past? The structure and contents of the Vishnu Purana are quite different from the Skanda Purana written at very different periods – so which is an authentic history? Those that advocate these texts as their preferred history of India are perhaps unfamiliar with the text and its variants. By what methods do we decide on the historicity of these texts? Or are we supposed to argue that historicity like history is irrelevant? However, we can at least see how these historical texts have represented their own society and the society that preceded them, if we are to treat them as historiography. This has been done and is continuing to be done by historians of early India. But it seems that those wanting to write history from the epics and Puranas are unaware of this research and the publications that have followed. …

The social sciences began to be established in India a century ago and about half a century back history moved from being a part of Indology to interacting with the social sciences. From this point on there have been attempts to denigrate those that treat history as a social science and particularly historians working on early India. Their work, where it questions the Hindutva version of Indian history, is dismissed either as “Marxist” and therefore ideologically tainted, or as is now becoming fashionable, as imitations of western historiography. However, to write the history of India through a literal reading of the epics and the Puranas has so many inherent deficiencies that, if it is to be pursued true to the original, it will undermine historical and social science research in India.



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Love Godse, Hate Tipu Sultan: Why The ‘Tiger of Mysore’ Still Troubles The Saffrons – By Subhash Gatade (Jan 5, 2015, Countercurrents)

The saffrons have done it again. They have once again showed utter contempt towards the legacy of legendary Tipu Sultan, (20 November 1750 – 4 May 1799) one of those rare kings who was martyred on the battlefield, while fighting the Britishers at the historic battle at Srirangpatnam and whose martyrdom fighting the colonials preceded the historic revolt of the 1857 by around 50 years. Not very many people even know that he had even sacrificed his children while fighting them.

The immediate reason for stigmatisation of Tipu Sultan, by the leaders of Hindutva Brigade, concerns move by the Karnataka state government led by the Congress to celebrate Tipu Jayanti or Tipu’s birth anniversary. The Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had made this announcement releasing a book ‘Tipu Sultan: A Crusader for Change’ by historian Prof B Sheik Ali. …

An interesting episode in his eventful life throwing light on his character which the saffrons love to forget is worth emphasising. It was the year 1791 when Maratha Army raided the Sringeri Shakaracharya mutt and temple, plundered the monastery of all its valuables and even killed many. The incumbent Shankaracharya wrote to Tipu Sultan for help. He immediately ordered the Asaf of Bednur to provide help to the mutt. An exchange of around thirty letters written in Kannada is available which took place between Tipu Sultan and the Shankaracharya, which were discovered in 1916 by the Director of Archaeology in Mysore.…



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Lessons from an Assamese tragedy – By Pramit Bhattacharya (Jan 1, 2015, Livemint)

The gruesome year-end massacre of over 80 people in Assam has brought dark forebodings about what lies ahead for the state in the new year. Even by the violent standards of the state’s history, the latest killings touched a new low. Unlike the killings of 2012 in western Assam, women were not spared this time. No mercy was shown even to infants. But like the 2012 killings, thousands of people have been displaced once again, with the state government struggling to provide both security and relief to most of those affected.

There are three proximate reasons for the violence by Bodo militants: government failures to defang armed Bodo extremists, the flawed Bodo peace accord of 2003 (and its predecessor, the 1993 peace accord), and the emergence of powerful non-Bodo voices in the region Bodos claim as their homeland. …

The elusive quest for a homogeneous homeland by Bodo extremists today is not very different from the aspirations for a homogeneous Assamese identity which kindled the fires of the Assam agitation. Bodos, among others, perceived that movement to be exclusionary, and this partly fuelled their aspirations for a separate homeland. Ironically, the Bodo leadership faces the same charge of hegemony today which they had levelled against the Assamese establishment three decades ago.



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