IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 21st, 2014
In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- SC acquits all 11 convicted for 1993 Surat bomb blasts
- Delhi Police planted chip in my body, terror accused says
- Muslims think we are communal, corrupt: Police
- HC Adjourns Hearing on Zakia’s Plea on Clean Chit to Modi in 2002 Riots
- Church vandalised in UP, Bajrang Dal activists arrested
- Custodial death: Two cops at Kodungaiyur police station suspended
- SIT Seeks Arrest Warrant Against Delhi Cop in UP Riots Case
- Lucknow Imam upbraids Togadia for attempting to disturb communal harmony
- PIL filed against Vaidik over his meeting with Hafiz Saeed
- Navi Mumbai cop held for abduction and extortion, suspended
Opinions & Editorials
- Police, minorities and perception management – By Smita Nair
- India’s Shift to the Right – By Nishad Patnaik
- Are Hindutva hawks flying again? – By Amulya Ganguli
- Between history and mythology – By Harbans Mukhia
- He Who Couldn’t Keep Quiet – By Pranay Sharma
- Streak Of Violence – By Yashwant Dhote
Case is indicative of corruption in lower courts, logjam in judiciary
July 20, 2014
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has lauded the landmark Supreme Court judgment acquitting the 11 innocent people accused of having carried out the bomb blasts in Surat (Gujarat) in 1993, while decrying the miscarriage of justice that led to their convictions by the lower courts in Gujarat.
The 11 people, including former Congress minister Mohammed Surti had been convicted in Gujarat under the draconian Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act, and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 10 to 20 years. The real masterminds behind the two Surat blasts, that led to the death of a school girl and injury of several others, continue to remain at large.
The unravelling of the Surat case comes on the heels of the judgement in the Akshardham case, in which the Supreme Court acquitted all six accused, including three that had been sentenced to death by the Gujarat High Court. In the case of the Akshardham accused, justice was served after they had spent 10 years of their lives in prison, for a crime they had not committed.
“The Surat and the Akshardham acquittals are indicative of the misery that befalls Muslims that fall prey to a repressive law enforcement and corrupt state courts. Often they have to spend 10 to 20 years in prison, while the case winds its way through the maze of the Indian judiciary, before having their innocence finally upheld by the apex court,” said Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “In the case of Khalid Mujahid and Mohammed Qateel, even the Supreme Court was unable to save them. Their lives were cruelly snuffed out, while in police custody or serving time in prison,” added Mr. Khan.
At the recent Congressional hearing on “The Plight of Religious Minorities in India,” held on April 4th 2014, organizations with international credibility, such as Human Rights Watch, The Advocates for Human Rights and the USCIRF testified to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on the worsening situation of minorities in regards to human rights and religious freedom.
A major reason why perpetrators of violence against religious minorities enjoy impunity from prosecution is due to the logjam in the Indian judicial system. According to the statement made by Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Indian Parliament, India has the largest backlog of cases in the world. There are 30 million cases pending in Indian courts, 4 million of which are pending in high courts and 65,000 in the Federal Supreme Court itself. It takes an average of 10 years to adjudicate a case in a court. Once a verdict is given in the lower court, the appeal process to the Supreme Court can take several decades. This makes any remedies to human rights violations such as judicial redress impractical. After 30 years, cases against perpetrators of the 1984 mass killings are still getting adjudicated. With some exceptions, most cases stemming from the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat have met the same fate. In both cases, the masterminds of the pogroms continue to roam free.
IAMC has called on the civil society institutions to join hands and struggle for reform in both the police and judiciary, in order to uphold Constitutional guarantees of human rights and justice for all, regardless of caste, creed, gender, or ethnic origin.
Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at: https://www.iamc.com
address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.
1. Supreme Court Rescues Innocents Jailed For 1993 Surat Blasts Case, Acquits All 11
2. Setback for Gujarat govt, SC acquits all accused in 1993 Surat blast cases
3. India has world’s largest backlog of court cases: PM
4. INDIA: Remedies to human rights violations a mirage, Asia Human Rights Commission, Feb 27, 2014
5. The Plight of Religious Minorities in India, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing, FRIDAY, APRIL 04, 2014, 10:30 AM
6. ANHAD Report – What It Means to be a Muslim in India Today
7. Khalid Muhahid – From Abduction to Custodial Killing
8. Framed, Damned, Acquitted – Dossiers of a Very Special Cell
The Supreme Court Friday acquitted all the 11 people convicted for January and April 1993 bomb blasts in Gujarat’s Surat in which an eight-year-old child was killed and several people were injured. A bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice C. Nagappan said: “The requirement of a mandatory statutory provision having been violated, the trial and conviction of the petitioners for offences under the (now repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) TADA must be held to have been vitiated on that account.”
The investigating agency did not take the prior permission of the district police chief before recording information for offences under TADA which was mandatory and could not be waived, the court said in its judgment. “A careful reading of the above leaves no manner of doubt that the provision starts with a non-obstante clause and is couched in negative phraseology. It forbids recording of information about the commission of offences under TADA by police without the prior approval of the district superintendent of police,” the court said.
“The question is whether the power of approval vested in the district superintendent of police could be exercised by either the government or the additional police commissioner, Surat in the instant case. Our answer to that question is in the negative,” said Justice Thakur speaking for the bench. …
- Five acquitted TADA convicts return home (Jul 22, 2014, Indian Express)
- Court acquits four accused in Mecca Masjid blast case (Jul 18, 2014, Times of India)
- Probe sought into 26/11 call log ‘discrepancies’ (Jul 17, 2014, The Hindu)
- 26/11: Info panel tears into Maria: Is he trying to hide something? (Jul 16, 2014, Indian Express)
A local court on Wednesday ordered medical checkup of a terror suspect after he accused the Delhi police of having inserted chips in his body. The Delhi police had arrested Abdur Rehman in May 2008 and later transferred him to Lucknow in connection with a separate case after he was acquitted of planning to trigger serial blasts.
Additional sessions judge BL Kesarwani ordered jail authorities to ensure Rehman’s medical check by a surgeon and radiologist. He directed the jail superintendent and senior superintendent of police, Lucknow, to provide adequate safety and security at the time of the checkup. …
Early this year, Rehman moved the local court alleging the Delhi police had implanted magnetic chips in his head, intestine and appendix. “It appears somebody was controlling me. I cannot sleep properly and even hear sounds of abuses,” he told the court. He informed the court he had asked jail authorities in Delhi to remove these chips before he was shifted to Lucknow. …
- After questionable investigation, ATS stokes another controversy (Jul 17, 2014, DNA India)
- Search for Sanatan Sanstha member from Pune, wanted in Goa blast of 2009, continues (Jul 17, 2014, Indian Express)
- Pune blast: focus on stolen bike cases (Jul 15, 2014, The Hindu)
- 15 depose in 10 days at bomb blast trial (Jul 21, 2014, Asian Age)
In what is perhaps the first admission of its kind, the police have concluded that there is a trust deficit among Muslims, who see them as “communal, biased and insensitive…. ill-informed, corrupt and lacking professionalism”.
A report, “Strategy for making police forces more sensitive towards minority sections”, prepared by three DGPs – Sanjeev Dayal of Maharashtra, Deoraj Nagar of Uttar Pradesh and K Ramanujam of Tamil Nadu – along with an Intelligence Bureau representative, says that the distrust comes from poor representation of minorities in the forces and the conduct of some policemen during riots.
“Poor representation of the minorities in the police forces has contributed to this distrust and suspicion. It has to be admitted that the conduct of some members of the police forces in various states during communal riots had only served to strengthen and heighten these suspicions and distrust in the minority communities,” it says.
Saying that Muslims form the largest minority, constituting “a vocal and large section of the population” in most states, the report calls for urgent correction of the perception in the community about the police as it “impinges on the communal situation of the country and thus its internal security”.
Presented at the 2013 DGs’ conference in New Delhi, the report is currently with the Central government, awaiting action. It is primarily aimed at providing the framework for a Standard Operating Procedure to prevent communal riots. It also wants a Community Policing Plan by all states, which should be internalised and become a SOP. …
- First-ever DGP report talks of ‘trust deficit’ with Muslims: But does it matter? (Jul 17, 2014, First Post)
- Post-Sachar evaluation panel gets more time to prepare “in-depth” report about condition of Muslims (Jul 17, 2014, DNA India)
- Number of complaint received by NCM has increased in 2013: Govt (Jul 15, 2014, Business Standard)
- Minority schemes list no beneficiary in many states (Jul 20, 2014, Indian Express)
HC Adjourns Hearing on Zakia’s Plea on Clean Chit to Modi in 2002 Riots (Jul 15, 2014, New Indian Express)
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday adjourned hearing on a petition of Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain ex-Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging a local court order upholding a clean chit given by SIT to the then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in a 2002 riots case.
Justice S G Shah has posted the hearing for October 15 after Zakia sought time to verify the translation of the voluminous documents in the case. Zakia’s petition seeks “to make Modi and 59 others accused on charges of criminal conspiracy to commit a mass murder, arson… And also tampering with evidence and destroying records of the Gujarat Home Department”.
The petition alleges that the magistrate accepted SIT’s closure report with a “non-application of mind”. It also alleges that destruction of key records was carried out to ensure injustice to the victims, in which the Chief Minister’s office and the state home department were allegedly involved.
- 2002 riots: HC judge recuses from hearing Kodnani’s bail plea (Jul 15, 2014, Indian Express)
- 2002 riots: Gujarat HC adjourns hearing on Maya Kodnani’s bail plea (Jul 21, 2014, Times of India)
- Sohrabuddin brother to HC: Bring back transferred judge (Jul 18, 2014, Asian Age)
- 614 Gujarat farmers committed suicide in 10 yrs, alleges Cong (Jul 18, 2014, Business Standard)
A church was vandalised allegedly by Bajrang Dal activists at village Sehkari Nagar here, police said. Two persons including Hemant Singh, area co-ordinator of Bajrang Dal, have been arrested following a complaint by the church priest R C Paul about the incident which occurred on Monday afternoon, according to Senior Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Kumar.
Scores of Bajrang Dal activists staged a protest outside the residence of the SSP here late last night demanding release of those arrested in the case. Kumar said an FIR was lodged on the complaint of the priest of the church. “Hemant Singh and one other person were arrested. Eight unknown persons too have been named in the FIR,” he said.
The church at Sehkari Nagar village has been in existence since 1991. Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh is about 90 km from Delhi. Meanwhile, Hemant Singh alleged that that church was luring poor Hindus to convert to Christianity.
- Police complaint against Subramanian Swamy for anti-Church comments (Jul 18, 2014, Times of India)
- Senior VHP leader booked for remarks against Mahatma Gandhi (Jul 15, 2014, DNA India)
- ‘Compensate girls held for Facebook post in 4 weeks’ (Jul 16, 2014, Indian Express)
- Hate speech against minority community: case registered against HMK chief (Jul 16, 2014, The Hindu)
A day after gangster D Gopal died in the custody of the Kodungaiyur police, two cops were placed under suspension on Thursday. Chennai city police commissioner S George suspended inspector Baskar and sub-inspector Pandiaraj of the Kodungaiyur police station based on a report filed by a senior police official.
Soon after the death of Gopal on Wednesday, the commissioner ordered a departmental inquiry. Joint commissioner K Shanmugavel conducted the inquiry and submitted a report, following which the suspension orders were issued.
Meanwhile, Egmore fifth metropolitan magistrate Uma Maheshwari conducted an inquiry. She visited Stanley Medical College and Hospital where the body was kept for a postmortem. She conducted inquiries with the personnel at the Kodungaiyur police station and also with the family members of the deceased.
- Gangster dies in police custody (Jul 17, 2014, The Hindu)
- Probe indicts 6 Mumbai cops for custody death cover-up (Jul 17, 2014, Times of India)
- Custodial death, CBI submits hard disk containing CCTV footage of two stations (Jul 16, 2014, DNA India)
- Alleged custodial death an example of misuse of power, opine retired cops (Jul 17, 2014, Times of India)
The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the Muzaffarnagar riots, has moved a local court seeking issuance of an arrest warrant against a Delhi Police constable, accused in an arson and loot case here. During investigation, Delhi Police constable Anuj Kumar was allegedly found involved in the riots case at Bahawdi village under Phugana police station in the district, SIT officials said.
SIT inspector Ramraten Singh moved an application before Chief Judicial Magistrate Narender Kumar on Tuesday, seeking issuance of an arrest warrant against the absconding accused. The SIT has asked the local police to arrest the accused constable, who was allegedly found involved in an arson and loot incident here during communal riots in September last.
The communal violence, which had broken out in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining towns, had claimed over 40 lives and rendered above 50,000 people homeless.
- Religious spot stoned, communal tension in Bareilly village (Jul 21, 2014, Times of India)
- Communal clashes break out in several parts of Vadodara (Jul 19, 2014, Indian Express)
- Four injured in communal clash in Vadodara (Jul 19, 2014, The Hindu)
- Combing operation continues, two held for clash in Vadodara (Jul 20, 2014, Indian Express)
Lucknow Eidgah Imam Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali today condemned Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia for his controversial statement on Muslims forgetting 2002 Gujarat riots. Mahali accused Togadia of disturbing communal harmony during the month of Ramzaan.
“The recent statement of Praveen Togadia is highly condemnable, and we condemn it in the strongest possible words. And, we think that it is a conspiracy to disturb law and order, especially in this holy month of Ramzaan. So, the Government of India must take strong action against such elements,” said Mahali.
He added that by recalling the Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar riots, Togadia has tried to rake up the old wounds of the victims. He also said that it is the duty of every government to meet the interests of the Muslims on a priority basis.
Recently, another VHP leader, Ashok Singhal, had controversially said that the recent general elections have shown that polls can be won without Muslim support, and that now, Muslims should learn to respect Hindus.
- After Singhal, Togadia reminds Muslims of Muzaffarnagar riots (Jul 19, 2014, Hindustan Times)
- Communal divide in west UP threatens to put peace at risk (Jul 21, 2014, Times of India)
- Togadia rakes up temple, says it’s on VHP agenda (Jul 22, 2014, Hindustan Times)
- Probe into Kandhamal riots nowhere near completion (Jul 22, 2014, The Hindu)
A PIL has been filed in the Delhi High Court against journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik over his meeting with Jamat ud Dawah chief and 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Lahore.
The PIL seeks a detailed investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and wants Vaidik’s passport seized and sedition charges slapped on him. The petition says the meeting could not have been possible without collusion of ISI. The matter will come up for hearing on Wednesday.
On Thursday, a complaint was filed in a local court against Vaidik accusing him of sedition over his meeting with Saeed and his controversial remarks on Jammu and Kashmir. A lawyer Santosh Pathak moved the application against Vaidik in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, which fixed July 22 as the date of hearing.
- The Vaidik-Saeed meet: Three questions the Modi govt needs to answer (Jul 15, 2014, First Post)
- Vaidik ‘mediated’ between Mulayam, Advani during Babri movement: Beni (Jul 16, 2014, Indian Express)
- Ved Pratap Vaidik RSS volunteer beyond any doubt: Congress (Jul 16, 2014, Economic Times)
- 10 things Vaidik said about his meeting with Hafiz Saeed (Jul 15, 2014, Times of India)
The Navi Mumbai police have suspended the constable who allegedly kidnapped an architect and extorted Rs 10,000 from her. On Thursday, the Belapur judicial magistrate court remanded constable Santosh Narawade (28) of the Taloja police station to police custody for two days. “We have information that his background is not good. We’ll confirm if he was involved in any previous extortion cases and then take legal action against him,” said Suresh Mengade, DCP (zone 1).
The complainant refused to speak to the media on Thursday. “She is satisfied that the police arrested Narawade within 24 hours,” said a police officer. On Tuesday, Narawade, who was in uniform, stopped the architect (29) who was in an auto near Seawoods station and told her get on his bike to go to the police station for an inquiry. But he took her to an ATM, forced her to withdraw Rs 10,000 from her account and dropped her in Kharghar.
He was arrested on Wednesday. “We have suspended the rogue cop,” said K L Prasad, Navi Mumbai police commissioner. Activist Nitin Kandhari told TOI: “I suggest all police stations be linked through a CCTV network. This will deter cops from doing anything illegal.”
- MPPEB scam: Naming of RSS leaders exposes unease in Sangh Parivar (Jul 14, 2014, Indian Express)
- 5 cops suspended in extortion case (Jul 10, 2014, Times of India)
- Want BEd degree? Pay Rs 40K and sit home (Jul 7, 2014, Ahmedabad Mirror)
- Bribe-greedy cop asks man to resume crime (Jul 12, 2014, Times of India)
Opinions and Editorials
A survey done in a southern state, key inputs from three states with sizeable Muslim populations, and intelligence from state police chiefs – all put together by three officers of the rank of director general of police (DGP) – in 2013, speak of a situation wherein the entrenched perception of a police bias against the minority community could, if not corrected immediately, affect the country’s internal security.
The report, prepared by the DGPs of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and a senior IB official, is now with the central government, awaiting action. The report is a summary and compilation of police and intelligence inputs received from states across India, along with the content of interactions with the community, public utterances by community leaders, and articles published by them.
To bridge the “police-community” gap, the report recommends implementation of a comprehensive “community policing plan”, improving “interface levels” between the Muslim community and police, improving and encouraging “participative policing”, and developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent communal riots.
The report begins with an analysis of the wounds of Partition which, it says, “poisoned the relations between the two communities, leaving both suspicious of each other”. The scars were deepest in northern India, and the Ram Shilanyas Yatras and Ramjanmabhoomi agitation also “communalised otherwise peaceful parts of South and East India”, thus polarising the entire country, it says.
“The razing of the Ram Janam Bhoomi/Babri Mosque disputed structure saw communal riots erupting in most of the country. The use of terror as a retribution for the demolition and communal riots that followed the demolition further sharpened the conflict. Communal riots after Godhara were a watershed event.” …
- Discrimination main reason behind high number of Muslims in prisons – By A. Mirsab (Jul 15, 2014, TwoCircles.net)
- Narratives of Police Illegality – By Anand Teltumbde (Jul 12, 2014, EPW)
The 2014 general elections seem to mark a watershed moment in the history of post-Independence electoral politics in India. As many commentators have observed, not since 1984 has any single party been voted into power on the basis of a simple majority, and a substantial one at that. Whereas the mandate in 1984 was expected, and was the result of exceptional circumstances, the overwhelming nature of the present mandate has taken many, including even those in the winning Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), by surprise.
In the aftermath of this result, many have pointed out, quite rightly, that the number of seats the BJP has won does not reflect the actual percentage vote share of the BJP vis-à-vis other parties, given the “first past the post” design of our electoral system. However, notwithstanding these figures, it is clear that the absolute number of BJP votes has risen across the country, even in areas where they have traditionally not had a major presence. We may therefore ask: is the country witnessing a shift to the right, and if so, what is the nature and extent of this shift? The response to the first question, confined to the present juncture, might quite plausibly be affirmative; but the response to the second, since it invokes the horizon of the future, is necessarily problematic, and calls for greater analysis.
Another way of putting the matter is to ask whether the electoral result indicates merely an event or, in addition, an advent? An “event” in the political (and more generally, in the socio-economic) sphere is a more or less contingent occurrence – its consequences do not leave any lasting impact, and in the domain of ideology and policy, are subject to possible reversal in the near future. For, a political “event” stems from a certain perception of the present that becomes dominant, shaped, no doubt, by immediate factors such as resentment against the long reign of the party hitherto in power – in this instance, the Congress – along with its perceived misrule, corrupt character, general ineffectiveness, and the lack of credible alternatives. A political (and socio-economic) “advent”, by contrast, signifies the onset of something new or different, that subverts the vector of the past, altering the very terrain of discourse and the possibilities of action. …
- Pearls of Wisdom of A RSS Leader, ‘Elections equivalent to Independence Struggle’ – By Subhash Gatade (Jul 12, 2014, Countercurrents)
- Nagpur Bosses Tighten The Screws – By Pradyot Lal (Jul 26, 2014, Tehelka)
- A Look at the Economics behind BJP’s Victory – By Aranyak Saikia (Jul 19, 2014, EPW)
- How Much Can We Forgo To India Inc? – By P. Sainath (Jul 28, 2014, Outlook)
The latest reported observations of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) supremo, Ashok Singhal, echo what the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue, M.S. Golwalkar, said in his 1939 publication, “We, or Our Nationhood Defined”. In it, the Hindutva icon had given an outline of what the minorities can expect in India.
“The foreign races in Hindusthan,” the RSS guru had written, “must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture … or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights.”
Seventy-five years later, Singhal’s statement shows that little has changed so far as the saffron worldview is concerned. In an interview to the Hindustan Times, he has said that the “Muslims will be treated as common citizens – nothing more, nothing less. And they must learn to respect Hindu sentiments. If they keep opposing Hindus, how long can they survive?”
Unlike Golwalkar, the VHP leader is willing to concede citizen’s rights to Muslims, but the precondition of respecting Hindu sentiments remains. He has also issued an unambiguous threat by linking the “survival” of the Muslims to the need to defer to the Hindus.
Singhal has imposed a caveat as well. It is that the Muslims must forsake their claims on the Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura mosques and accept a uniform civil code. By reviving the demand for the Varanasi and Mathura shrines along with that of Ayodhya, Singhal has recalled the slogan which was raised by the saffron cadres after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya: “Yeh to pehli jhanki hai, Kashi, Mathura baki hai.” (This is only the first instalment; Kashi and Mathura will be next).…
- Minor players are major irritants – Editorial (Jul 17, 2014, Hindustan Times)
The recent observations of the new Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) Chairman, Professor Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are not works of mythology but of historical veracity brings back to the fore the old debate about the nature of history and mythology. The fundamental assumption here is that the two stand in a dichotomous relationship with no common space between them. This dichotomy also places them in a hierarchy, with history being equated with truth and mythology with falsehood.
The dichotomy was created by Positivism, which has unquestioned European provenance. Positivism had, during the eighteenth century and down to much of the twentieth century, sought to recreate the exactitude of the natural sciences in forms of societal knowledge, the social sciences. Auguste Comte, the founder of Sociology, placed this new discipline at the highest level of precision and Mathematics at the lowest, because Mathematics had no objective basis except for a commonly accepted set of values.
For Leopold von Ranke, “History tells us as it really happened.” It reveals to us the objective truth, with no ambiguity. The veracity of history is proven by the evidence of facts gathered from archives, epigraphs, archaeology, coins, monuments etc., all being objective realities rather than imaginary creations. Certain norms of spatial and temporal location of events form its core.
On the other hand, mythology stood at the other end of objectivity: all of it was the product of imagination, much like fiction, with no objective evidence open to rational, scientific scrutiny, but dependent instead on one’s beliefs and faith.
It is in this backdrop that the struggle to place mythological creations on a par with history or objective truth, is best understood, for any concession to the imaginary nature of mythology relegates it to an inferior status. Or so it is assumed.…
- The saffronite hand again? – Editorial (Jul 20, 2014, Statesman)
- Idiocy As Scholarship – By Subhash Gatade (Jul 20, 2014, Countercurrents)
- Indian Council of Hindutva Research – Editorial (Jul 20, 2014, Deccan Chronicle)
Backchannel negotiations and Track-II diplomacy are par for the diplomatic course when leaders of countries want to achieve breakthroughs in bilateral relations. Editors and senior journalists are often part of this process, as informal couriers of messages respective governments might want to convey. It’s no different in the fraught India-Pakistan relationship, and there have been plenty of occasions when media personalities have voluntarily carried important messages across the border. Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Lahore peace bus initiative and the tapes played before Nawaz Sharif to show the complicity of the Pakistani army during the 1999 Kargil misadventure are two such prominent instances.
One isn’t quite sure, though, what bracket the recent meeting between old-time Hindi journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik and alleged 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed fell in. On his part, Vaidik claims he met Saeed in Lahore only out of pure journalistic impulse: the desire to interview a man who tops the list of the ‘most wanted’ terrorists in India. But with over a fortnight having elapsed and there being no sign of any interview, there is enough speculation-among opposition parties and in diplomatic circles-whether it will ever be transcribed and if the purpose of the visit wasn’t something else entirely.…
Vaidik, who was in Pakistan as part of an informal Indo-Pak dialogue organised by a Pakistani think-tank last month, stayed back over a fortnight for his various meetings. But as any veteran of India-Pakistan affairs knows, it is extremely difficult to meet Saeed, who’s very well-guarded. Unless, of course, the Pakistani security establishment – particularly the ISI – facilitates such a meeting. The question then is a concomitant one: why should the Pakistani establishment go out of its way to arrange a meeting with Saeed? …
- Sedition Law Is Anachronistic – By Pradyot Lal (Jul 26, 2014, Tehelka)
Chhattisgarh doesn’t have religious minorities to speak of – they are a mere two per cent of its population. That should make it an oasis of communal harmony. Right? Well, not quite, as several admittedly small but significant incidents this year expose how fragile the social fabric really is in parts of the state, notably in Bastar and Surguja.
If it was a church that was destroyed this March by people, allegedly with the help of the police, the next month it was a funeral service that was attacked and the grave filled up. In June, Christians at Sirisguda were refused rations from the pds outlets after they refused to give donations for a Hindu temple. This month, when a food inspector arrived to register complaints, the complainants were attacked and beaten up. Nine of them had to be hospitalised.
Things are no better in the adjacent areas of Madhya Pradesh, where according to Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), mobs searched the belongings of passengers and those found in possession of the Bible were beaten up.
There’s more. As many as 50 village councils in Bastar are said to have adopted resolutions banning the entry of “non-Hindu missionaries”. Bastar district magistrate Ankit Anand admits to only three villages adopting such resolutions, which he says are unconstitutional and illegal. But that is of small consolation to church leaders, who complain of increasing instances of persecution by the majority community. “Unless legal and deterrent action is taken against the mischief-makers, there is no guarantee that such incidents will not recur,” says a parish priest at Raipur.
The sporadic violence has surprised observers, who say that the state has long been a bastion of the VHP-RSS, and with 98 per cent of the population being Hindu, there really is no reason for the majority community to feel threatened. Not even in Bastar, where Christians constitute barely 0.7 per cent of the population, and the tribal population remains a robust 30.63 per cent.…
- Stirring the volatile Sikh religious pot – By Chander Suta Dogra (Jul 15, 2014, The Hindu)
- The scales are so tilted – By Harsh Mander (Jul 20, 2014, Hindustan Times)