IAMC Weekly News Roundup - June 10th, 2013 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 10th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Facing warrant, CBI inspector deposes in Naroda Gam riots case (Jun 11, 2013, Indian Express)

Days after a bailable warrant was issued against him, CBI inspector N S Raju on Monday deposed before the special trial court in Ahmedabad for the 2002 Naroda Gam massacre case. Raju had earlier failed to appear before the court following which the special court presided over by designated judge Jyotsana Yagnik had issued bailable warrant against him.

Subsequently, he tendered an apology before the court after which it ordered him to depose on Monday. Special assistant public prosecutor in the case, Gaurang Vyas, said Raju’s deposition went on throughout the day. Raju is posted with CBI’s Mumbai office as police inspector.

As part of the CBI team, Raju had probed the authenticity of a set of CDs and DVDs made by a private news channel that purportedly captured on camera some of the accused in the riots cases confessing to their role in the 2002 communal violence. CBI had conducted the probe on the orders of the National Human Rights Commission. The CDs and DVDs are part of evidence before the trial court.



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Modi is BJP’s face now, but can he wash his hands off infamous post-Godhra riots? (Jun 9, 2013, DailyBhaskar)

Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, was appointed as the chairman of BJP campaign committee for 2014 Lok Sabha polls. This astute politician known for his impeccable sense of timing, will now lead the party in 2014 elections. Modi may have got a clean chit for his alleged role in the Gujarat riots, but will the ghost of Godhra ever leave him even as he sets his eyes on a larger political role?

Party chief Rajnath Singh along with the senior BJP leaders made the announcement to the media, this afternoon in Goa. As slogans of ‘Modi for PM’ gain pitch, the one thing that continues to raise the hackles of Modi supporters is none other than the mark of Gujarat riots.

Modi moved ahead of Gujarat riots but the country continues to remember that he has never, till date, openly said that what happened in Gujarat should not have happened. Media reports claim, those who were opposed to the riots were slowly sidelined.

In its closure report submitted to the trial court, the Special Investigation Team that probed Zakia Jafri’s complaint against Narendra Modi and 58 others said there was no evidence to prove that the Chief Minister had sent the bodies of the 2002 Godhra victims to Ahmedabad with a view to parading them before the public. The buzz around Narendra Modi’s elevation as the campaign leader and LK Advani’s displeasure over the decision has been transcending.

Meanwhile, reports said that Advani offered a compromise formula, suggesting that Modi be appointed as the convener and not the chairman of the poll panel. However, BJP president Rajnath Singh is expected to declare Modi as the poll panel chief during his valedictory address to the BJP national executive in Goa. Insiders suggested that BJP president Rajnath Singh had offered Modi a compromise formula where the latter would be appointed as the convener of the campaign committee for the general elections. Modi is, however, learnt to have rejected the offer for now.



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Rift in BJP wide open, Advani quits all party posts (Jun 10, 2013, Deccan Herald)

The rift in BJP was today wide open with L K Advani quitting from all the party posts, apparently opposing the elevation of his one-time protege Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as election campaign committee chief. 85-year-old Advani, a founder member of the BJP and considered the party patriarch after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, resigned from all main fora of the party — Parliamentary Board, National Executive and Election Committee. In his resignation letter to party President Rajnath Singh, who announced the appointment of Modi as Chairman of the election campaign committee yesterday in the BJP National Executive, he rued that the BJP was no longer the “same idealistic party” created by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya, Nanaji Deshmukh and Vajpayee.

“For some time I have been finding it difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party, or the direction in which it is going,” he said. “Most leaders of ours are now concerned just with their personal agendas,” Advani said in his one-page resignation. Advani had skipped the three-day deliberations of the party in Goa over the weekend citing health reasons. This was the first time Advani had stayed away from the National Executive and the office bearers’ meeting prior to it. In the letter, Advani said, “All my life I have found working for the Jana Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party a matter of great pride and endless satisfaction for myself”.

After finding fault with the way the party was being run now, he concluded the letter saying, “I have decided, therefore, to resign from the three main fora of the party, namely, the National Executive, the Parliamentary Board and the Election Committee. This may be regarded as my resignation letter,” he said. Advani’s letter was delivered in person to Singh at 11 am. Advani and Singh had a meeting later at 12:30 pm. Sources said Rajnath Singh and Modi were to go together to Advani’s house and get his blessings. But Advani asked Singh to come alone for a meeting with him. When the two met, Advani expressed anger and resentment over Modi’s elevation.

Singh is believed to have requested Advani to withdraw his resignation but the party veteran said he was firm on his decision. Significantly, Advani continues to be Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party and Working Chairman of NDA. Party sources said that Singh has not accepted his resignation and efforts will be made to make him withdraw it. In the midst of media speculation over his absence that was ascribed to his reservations over Modi’s elevation, the Gujarat Chief Minister claimed yesterday that he had talked to Advani and got his blessings.

Party leaders, including President Rajnath Singh, had put a brave face, saying it was ill health that kept Advani away from the Goa deliberations. “Whatever has happened has happened on the basis of consensus,” Singh had said yesterday after declaring Modi as BJP’s election campaign chief. Meanwhile, BJP General Secretary Ananth Kumar, considered an Advani loyalist, rushed to Advani’s house.



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CBI snipes at Narendra Modi in Supreme Court in Ishrat fake encounter case (Jun 8, 2013, Times of India)

After questioning Intelligence Bureau(IB) officials for providing inputs to the Gujarat Police leading to alleged fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others, the CBI on Friday opposed tooth and nail a plea by an accused state intelligence officer who had received the IB input and passed it on to operation wing. The state intelligence officer, P P Pandey, had gone on leave from May 2 and did not leave information about his whereabouts. Unable to trace him for interrogation, the CBI moved the trial court and got an arrest warrant issued against him. Pandey had moved the apex court seeking quashing of the FIR against him.

Even before Pandey’s counsel could open arguments, additional solicitor general (ASG) Indira Jaising launched an intense attack on the petitioner for bypassing the Gujarat High Court, which she said was monitoring the investigations into the Ishrat fake encounter case in which top cops have been arrested. Painting the police as “cold blooded killers” who shot the girl and other occupants at point blank range, Jaising said it all happens in the state ruled by Narendra Modi where even a former home minister gets shot. The reference to Modi and the murder of Haren Pandya was not lost on the bench of Justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Madan B Lokur.

The ASG said on the basis of intelligence inputs provided by Pandey, the team led by D G Vanzara had already picked up the girl and three others a day prior to the fake encounter. They were shot point blank and then the story about encounter was fabricated. Though the bench was unanimous that Pandey had not made out a case for quashing of the FIR, it could not reach unanimity on whether to give the petitioner some time to approach the HC on this score.

While Justice Misra favoured giving up to eight weeks to Pandey to move the HC seeking stay of the arrest warrant, Justice Lokur felt that he deserved no such interim relief. Pandey’s counsel, who did not get much time to argue his case, was told to convince the court about being given few weeks to move the HC. The court posted the matter for hearing on Tuesday.



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Decorated counter-insurgency expert held for alleged involvement in terror attacks (Jun 5, 2013, The Hindu)

Sub-Inspector Shiv Krishen Sharma, one of the Jammu & Kashmir police’s highest decorated personnel and counter-insurgency experts, has been taken into custody and subjected to interrogation after he was allegedly found to have been involved in several incidents of terror, including a grenade attack on Thathri police station, in Doda district of Jammu. Superintendent of Police Doda Arif Hussain Rishi confirmed to The Hindu that SI Sharma had been taken into custody, along with his personal security officer, Head Constable Mohammad Ayub, after they emerged as suspects in a number of militancy-related incidents in the high-altitude Chenab Valley. He said that five irregular guerrillas, detained for their involvement in some disruptive and terrorist activities, had revealed the names of SI Sharma and his PSO with the disclosure that the duo had also planned and executed a grenade attack on Thathri police station on April 28.

Even as some sources claimed to have learned that the group of the seven detainees, including the two police personnel, had also planned some political killings, Mr. Rishi maintained that the police were still verifying the group’s statements and disclosures. “Whatever they divulge, everything will be subjected to verification and corroborations,” he said. “They are all under police remand and every one of them will be interrogated with the best of our professionalism. We have rounded them up on the basis of reasonably strong evidences and each other’s disclosures.”

Abdul Rashid, Akhter Hussain, Mohammad Rafi, Altaf Hussain and Mohammad Yaqub had been arrested by the police on May 22. One AK-56 rifle with three magazines and 143 rounds, one Chinese Pistol with a magazine and five rounds, two Chinese grenades and two Motorola radio sets were reportedly among the items recovered. Asked whether the five ‘irregular guerrillas’ had acquired their arms and ammunition from the detained SI or some other source, the Doda SP said: “They have said that they had obtained their weapons from the SI. But we are still verifying their disclosures.” It was being ascertained whether Sharma’s escapades were the result of his individual ambition for awards and promotions or he was linked to a militant outfit.

Authoritative sources said that SI Sharma had joined the district police in Doda as Special Police Officer over 15 years back. His impressive performance on the counter-insurgency front not only facilitated his regularisation as a constable but also won him high rewards and decorations including the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry, the Sher-e-Kashmir Police Medal for Bravery (twice), besides medals, rewards and commendations from the then Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, and the Director-General of Police. Believed to be responsible for getting about a hundred militants killed or arrested, Mr. Sharma had cultivated an exhaustive network of informants in Doda and Kishtwar districts. He had also sustained injuries and survived face-to-face encounters with the most dreaded militants in Chenab valley a number of times.



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Media, police ducking the question of Hindutva terror (Jun 10, 2013, The Hindu)

Accusing sections of the media and the police of deliberately ignoring the issue of Hindutva extremism, journalist and author Subhash Gatade said in cases such as the Malegaon blast, which was attributed to the Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat, the police never tried to get to the masterminds. Addressing a gathering of journalists and activists at the Alternative Law Forum here recently, Mr. Gatade said: “While dealing with issues of Hindutva terrorism, investigating agencies are reluctant to name organisations whose activists are found to be involved in terror acts.”

He gave the example of the Mecca Masjid blasts where Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Ramji Kalasangra, Sandeed Dange and Sunil Joshi were mentioned as accused in the CBI chargesheet. Yet, the investigating agency never named the organisation to which they were affiliated. Every time a Hindutva terror module is uncovered, there is a concerted effort by the police and the media to project the accused as “fringe” or “rogue” elements who have strayed away from the Hindutva ideology.

Drawing from his latest book, Godse’s Children – Hindutva Terror in India , Mr. Gatade alleged that Hindu extremist groups are slowly moving away from the terror of the riot to the terror of the bomb. “It costs less, the risk is also less but the impact is huge.” Speaking of Karnataka, he expressed shock at the fact that Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik continues to enjoy freedom despite openly admitting (in an interview to a news portal) that his organisation runs arms and ammunition training camps for Hindu youth.

Quoting a more recent example, he said that the police had not properly investigated the blast outside the Bharatiya Janata Party office in Malleswaram. Quoting from articles that appeared in the media, he said that the RSS leader whose SIM card was used to trigger the blast was never properly investigated by the police.

He also mentioned the 2008 Hubli blast case which the police traced to Hindutva activist Nagraj Jambhagi and said: “Of course, although the police did not divulge the political connections of the group and share the important information about its alleged Sri Ram Sena connections, anyone familiar with the Hubli-Dharwad region would have many other details about the gang of criminals, their political affiliations and their other deeds.”



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UP Cabinet accepts Nimesh panel report (Jun 5, 2013, Indian Express)

The UP Cabinet on Tuesday accepted the report on Nimesh Commission , which was constituted in 2008 to probe the arrest of alleged HuJI activists Khalid Mujahid and Tariq Qasmi from Barabanki for their alleged involvement in serial blasts at district courts of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said the report would be placed before the Vidhan Sabha along with the action-taken report, but did not specify what action would be taken. Opposition parties, however, called the Cabinet decision a mere “political gimmick” while social activists demanded quick action on the report.

Speaking to The Indian Express, retired judge R D Nimesh, who headed the one-man commission, said: “Based on the facts that came out during the probe, I had raised suspicion over the arrest of Khalid and Tariq from Barabanki on December 22, 2007. I had recommended that all those officers and employees who were involved in arresting them and worked against the law should be identified and action be taken against them.” He said that since the case is pending in a Barabanki court, he had not fixed responsibility on any individual. “It is upon the government to identify the officers and take appropriate action,” he added.

The commission was constituted on March 14, 2008 by the then Mayawati government after family members of Khalid and Tariq, along with social organisations, raised questions over the arrests and alleged that the two were kept in illegal custody. The report was finally submitted on August 31, 2012, five-and-a-half months after Akhilesh Yadav took charge as CM. Human rights organisations had been demanding that the report should be made public and action taken on its recommendations.

The UP police had shown the arrest of Khalid and Tariq from Barabanki on December 22, 2007. However, Tariq’s family had claimed that he was picked from Sarai Meer area of Azamgarh on December 12, 2007, and kept in illegal custody. Likewise, family members of Khalid had alleged that he was picked up on December 16, 2007 from Madiaon area in Jaunpur district. Sources said the commission had also recommended that in order to avoid such incidents in the future, the interrogation of accused in terror cases should be videographed, there should be special courts for their investigation, and there should be a system of compensation for the victims in such cases.

Meanwhile, state BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai called the acceptance of the report by the Cabinet a “political gimmick”. “We have a suspicion that the SP government would use the report to withdraw cases against other accused. We would oppose any such move to interfere in the work of the judiciary just for their vote bank,” said Bajpai. Congress Legislature Party leader Pradeep Mathur said it was a mere “lollipop to confuse the public”. “Acceptance of such reports has no meaning until the government takes action on them.” Advocate Mohammd Shoaib, who represented the two arrested men in courts, demanded quick action.



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Muslims protest as Huda razes Palam Vihar Eidgah (Jun 11, 2013, Hindustan Times)

Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) officials demolished the boundary wall and the Eidgah constructed on a 2.75-acre plot in Palam Vihar area of Gurgaon early on Monday morning without any prior intimation. The plot in question was acquired by Huda in 2007 and allotted to the Wakf board by the Gazette of India in 1970 before its acquisition. The land is still used for offering prayers during Eid and a boundary wall was constructed on it.

People are protesting the move. “We did not receive any notice for demolition. Huda officials came to demolish the structures around 6am on Monday. Their action has come as a jolt as we are still talking to the authorities regarding transfer of land for the Eidgah. “According to our laws, a religious structure cannot be demolished,” said Suhel Farooq Khan, head of the Chauma Masjid Intezamia Committee.

Huda officials claimed that it was an illegal construction and encroachment on Huda land, which had been earmarked for residential use and there was no need for prior intimation. “Would you inform people encroaching on your land before removing them? There was no need for a prior notice in this case as Huda has plotted the land and planned its development,” said RS Siwach, sub-divisional engineer (survey), Huda.

The Wakf board of Haryana was in talks with Huda and chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to release the Wakf land from acquisition but to no avail. “The land was acquired by Huda in 2007 without the required notice to the board according to Wakf laws. We had questioned Huda regarding the acquisition but got no response. So we approached the CM last month and were expecting a reply,” said Naseem Ahmad, administrator, Haryana Wakf board.

Union minister for minorities’ affairs K Rahman Khan has also written a letter to the CM saying, “Muslims of the area have been using the place as Eidgah for offering prayers for more than 12 years. As the land is used by thousands of Muslims for their prayers, I would request you to kindly issue suitable instructions to the Huda for release of the Eidgah land to the Haryana Wakf board.”



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Maoists using children to snatch police weapons (Jun 5, 2013, Times of India)

Maoists have come up with an ingenious ploy to snatch arms from the security forces deployed in Chhattisgarh. They are using children to get this task done. The rebels clothe their gun-snatching squads in school uniforms which makes it impossible for the security forces to fire at them as photographs of dead schoolchildren would invite national and international outrage. Speaking to TOI, Bhagwat Bhagel, a sub-inspector who was shot at and injured by the Maoists in Sukma in the May 25 attack that killed 30 people, revealed how uniformed boys, as young as 10 years old, snatched weapons from injured and dead personnel. Baghel, 35, was posted near Kistharam police chowki area, close to Andhra Pradesh border.

“We went into the forest in two groups (of about 30 each) to collect bamboos for some work and were marching as per the set protocol unaware of Maoist presence ahead,” said Baghel, who was discharged from the hospital for gunshot wounds two days ago. Constable Parshuram Makram and head constable Narayan Major were killed in the ambush. “I took shelter behind a tree after two shots. I saw four children, 9 to 10 years old, dressed in school uniforms, approaching the dead constable’s body and taking his SLR and ammunition. Then they went to Major Narayan, who was unconscious at that time, and took his AK-47 and ammunition.

“The fourth boy, also wearing a school uniform, was on a bicycle and took away the weapons while other Maoists, who had surrounded the police station, were giving them a covering fire,” said Baghel. “I could have shot them but looking at their age, I controlled myself,” he added. The firing lasted for more than two hours. “The boys in school uniform were not armed. They just came, snatched the weapons and escaped. Had our people shot at them, many would have been after our life. This is a disturbing trend that has come to fore,” said a special task force officer wishing anonymity.

These students are members of a small action team and they roam around in markets wearing blue coloured school uniforms. “Boys found wearing school uniforms at odd times are questioned and kept under surveillance. Still it’s a difficult task to arrest them,” said Sukma SP Abhishek Shandlya. Intelligence officials claim that the Maoists are recruiting more young boys for their small action team. A 17-year-old Maoist, alleged to be part of small action team from an area bordering Chhattisgarh was nabbed by a police team from Balaghat on Tuesday. Meanwhile, former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh on Tuesday visited the native place of slain Congress leader Mahendra Karma and met his family members and offered condolences. Later, talking to reporters, Singh accused the BJPgovernment for total failure in maintaining law and order despite the Centre allocating enough forces to the state.



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No action by cops on torture by caste Hindus: Dalits (Jun 11, 2013, New Indian Express)

A group of Dalits from Uthamarseeli in Srirangam taluk arrived at the Collectorate here with their ration cards and attempted to surrender it to the District Collector on Monday, contending that they were being tortured by caste Hindus in their area. They submitted a petition to the Collector condemning the inability of the police to take action against those involved in threatening their peace.

The dalits attempted to return their ration cards and electoral identity cards in protest. Their petition read that there were about 150 dalit families residing at Ambedkar street, in which around 3,000 caste Hindu families also resided. It is said that on October 2012, a group of caste Hindus pasted hand bills in the village that carried insulting words against dalits.

Soon, the dalits lodged a complaint with No 1 Tollgate police station, based on which peace talks between representatives of the two communities were held in the presence of a tahsildhar. Following the talks, the caste Hindus willingly agreed not to invite any kind of quarrel with the dalits.

However, recently the police allegedly said that they are not in a position of taking action on the caste Hindus since they had the backing of political leaders. A group of dalit leaders met the Collector, who had assured of action on their petition.



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Opinions and Editorials

Why We Protested Against Narendra Modi – By P. K. Vijayan & Karen Gabriel (Jun 9, 2013, Countercurrents)

The past few days have witnessed the grand spectacle of Narendra Modi emerging as the front-runner for the post of Prime Minister, from the Bharatiya Janata Party. Our growing sense of dismay and foreboding at this spectacle has however, led to some annoyance, the essential refrain of which is, ‘Why not Modi? Why are you so hostile to him? Look at what he’s achieved in Gujarat – maybe it’s time he was given a chance to do the same for India…’ We were immediately reminded of how we were met with the same response when Modi came to Delhi University on 6 February 2013, and we protested. At the time, he had visited Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in the University, ostensibly to deliver a lecture on ‘vikas’ (progress) and ‘development’. We, along with many others, stood outside SRCC throughout his talk, protesting peacefully but vehemently against him. The Delhi Police repeatedly lathi-charged us, used water-cannoning, and (in open collusion with ABVP activists) indulged in extremely communal and sexually violent abuse and molestation of the female protestors. Nine of the protestors (including one of us) were gratuitously charged under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, with rioting armed with deadly weapons, obstructing public servants, assaulting public servants, damaging property, etc. That matter is pending investigation with the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

Why did this happen? Because we protested against Narendra Modi. At that time too, several colleagues, students and sundry well-wishers expressed bafflement: while they were sympathetic to us for what had happened with the police, they couldn’t understand why we were protesting in the first place. After all, Modi was just coming to deliver a lecture on development, and, as they saw it, he too surely had the right to freedom of speech. What, they asked, was the harm in listening to him? The subtle, implicit accusation was, we had it coming – and on two counts: one, because we ‘hypocritically’ violated our own principles by seeking to deny Modi his freedom of speech; and two, because we protested his airing his views on ‘development’. Let’s deal with the second count first. Presumably, we would have been forgiven if we had been protesting against Modi for making say, an explicitly communal speech, or defending the carnage of 2002. Not for one moment did it cross our interlocutors’ minds that Modi speaking on ‘development’ was, in fact the implicit defence of that carnage. Here was a man projected in several quarters, not least in the business community that SRCC is so strongly connected to, as the future Prime Minister of India. This ‘lecture’ was his first major public event since this projection began: did they seriously expect that he would come to make incendiary communal speeches, just when he is being projected as Prime Ministerial material now? Obviously not!

But does that mean that the Modi of Gujarat 2002 has vanished, because he won’t talk that way – or even talk about it? Has the man responsible for the deaths of Muslims on a scale tantamount to genocide suddenly been absolved of that sin because he now speaks only of ‘vikas’? And ‘vikas’ for whom? Blatantly corrupt corporates and business houses? There are reports that the Gujarat government has lost thousands of crores of rupees in land sold to industrial houses like the Tatas, Essar and the Adani Group way below its market cost. According to the Planning Commission’s Suresh Tendulkar Committee, Gujarat has the fastest growing poverty rate in the country. There is ample evidence to show that, on major indices of human development, taken individually and together, like literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality, etc., states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have done far better than Gujarat – but there is no call to promote these states as models of development. 44.6% of children under five in Gujarat suffer from malnutrition; the maternal mortality rate stands at 172/lakh, which is extremely high; sex ratios are far below the national average; the poverty rate in tribal areas is as high as 57% – one can go on rattling off the figures, but the point is clear: ‘development’ in Gujarat is neither particularly phenomenal, nor has it touched the masses.

No, the reason why Gujarat is being promoted is because Modi has wooed and welcomed big business investment on an unprecedented scale in Gujarat. This means big funding for his party as well: the BJP will be suitably and generously rewarded by the Tatas and Ambanis who are being fawned on so assiduously by Modi. Combine this with his well-known ability to rabble rouse through war-mongering, hate-speech and general communal machismo, and you have a lethal new political soft pornography. It continuously suggests, without making any explicit connections, that Modi’s communal machismo is what is needed for genuine ‘vikas’. It weaves a general discourse of ‘development’ as rampant privatization, through which big business brings malls full of consumer goods, high-tech cities with gated colonies and huge inflows of foreign direct investments. Just as soft porn offers an endless supply of sameness disguised as variety, but incites desire for this nonetheless by perpetually presenting it as exclusive, yet tantalizingly available – so too, this model of development generates a powerful illusion of choice and promotes it as exclusive, privileged, available only through investment in the new economy. And Gujarat 2002 flickers through it as the subliminal hardcore pornography of this discourse – gutted houses, dismembered bodies, raped and murdered women, slashed wombs spilling chopped foetuses, terror-filled faces screaming for mercy. …

This is what we were protesting against. Modi on ‘development’ is not separate – and must not be separated – from Modi on Muslims/Christians/communists. Modi on ‘development’ is as dangerous and poisonous as Modi on the need for genocide. Promoting Modi in Delhi University was an audacious initiative, aimed at testing his acceptability in a space like the university that is, by definition, supposed to be a progressive, democratic, secular space. We now know better. … And if the university can be successfully sold the idea that Modi is selling ‘development’, and therefore will be allowed to address the university community, even if protest has to be openly and brutally crushed for that, then the rot has set in far more than we had gauged. … It is true that in this particular instance, Modi’s lecture on ‘development’ was unlikely to attract any of the constitutional restrictions on free speech. But, as we have already argued, the political context is vital in understanding the limitations of free speech. Which is why, in a context in which Modi is being openly promoted as the next Prime Ministerial candidate from the BJP, Modi on ‘development’ is as sinister as the openly communal Modi. ‘Development’ is the Trojan horse that Modi (and the BJP) is hiding inside, to ride to Prime-Ministership. This is what we were protesting against. And in the heart of Delhi University, we found a quick, small replay of what happened in Gujarat in 2002: the police joined hands with the supporters of Modi to wreak vengeance against the protestors. This is the sign of the India that will unfold under Modi, and this is what we were protesting against. What is at stake is the idea of India itself, and if that is an idea worth protesting about, then many more of us should be protesting against Narendra Modi.



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Manufactured consent – Editorial (Jun 10, 2013, The Hindu)

In the end, Narendra Modi’s promotion to campaign committee chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party happened not by consensus or by consultation but by diktat, with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh virtually cracking the whip on the dissenters. Yet through the three days of the BJP’s national executive meet in Goa, one man stood his ground, defying multiple attempts to coax and cajole him out of his reluctance. Indeed, veteran Lal Krishna Advani turned out to be as much in the limelight for resisting Mr. Modi’s elevation as Mr. Modi himself for getting his coveted prize. The BJP tried hard to sell the story that Mr. Advani had been kept away from Goa by his poor health, the first time he had missed an important party meet in three decades.

But the latter made sure the world knew he was hale and hearty by blogging on a film with pointed references to theMahabharata and Bhishma Pitamaha. The situation bristles with irony, starting with the fact that a man with such a presumed fan following as Mr. Modi could not find universal acceptance in his own party. And who should be the dissident-in-chief but Mr. Advani, the Gujarat Chief Minister’s former mentor who once intervened to save his job in the aftermath of the 2002 anti-Muslim violence.

Equally paradoxically, Mr. Modi finds himself pitchforked to the national stage courtesy the RSS, which self-proclaimedly abhors the personality cult so evident in the Modi phenomenon. If despite this history of antagonism, the BJP’s spiritual mentor has handed over the election management charge to Mr. Modi, it is obviously in response to the growing clamour from the BJP rank and file. But the decision also shows the absence of real democracy in a party controlled by the RSS. What next, now that Mr. Modi has won, overriding objections from senior leaders, among them Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj? That Mr. Modi will electrify his followers on Twitter is a given. And yet, it is over-the-top to equate his new, enlarged brief to a ‘coronation’ or to see him as the BJP’s prime-ministerial nominee.

Mr. Modi cannot be the BJP’s Prime Minister-in-waiting unless the party has decided to disband the National Democratic Alliance, which is surely not the case. NDA partners have chosen to treat Mr. Modi’s elevation as an internal BJP matter, clarifying that they would need to be on board for deciding who will run for Prime Minister. Pramod Mahajan and Arun Jaitley headed the BJP’s campaign committee in 2004 and 2009 respectively without the automatic assumption that either would be Prime Minister. NaMo’s frenzied fan clubs will do well to understand that their hero has some way to go before he becomes the face of 2014.



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How Varun Gandhi Silenced The System – By Rahul Kotiyal (May 25, 2013, Tehelka)

This is a story about a terrible travesty. Varun Gandhi, 33, has recently been in the news for two reasons. First, he has been exonerated of all charges in the hate speeches he allegedly made in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha election. Second, he has been made the national general secretary of the BJP, the youngest politician ever to be elevated to this post. Now, an explosive TEHELKA sting investigation shows he is not entitled to either. TEHELKA’s investigation proves that not only did Varun make the venomous speeches he is accused of, he has compounded the original wrong by brazenly subverting the entire judicial process to get his name cleared. He has also indulged in anti-party activities, deliberately making his own party candidate lose an Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh in 2012 so that aSamajwadi Party (SP) leader sympathetic to him could win and help him fix the cases against him.

The subversion of justice has been so blatant that all 88 witnesses in the cases have turned hostile. This is perhaps unprecedented in any criminal case in the world. Many of these witnesses have been caught on TEHELKA’s hidden cameras admitting they were coerced or bribed into changing their testimonies. They speak of how Pilibhit Superintendent of Police Amit Verma and other police officers threatened witnesses. In one instance, a witness claims he received a call directly from Varun’s office. The witnesses also speak of how the judicial process was turned completely on its head; how their testimonies were taken in the absence of the judge; how their statements were crafted by the lawyers and their thumb impressions or signatures taken; of how they were not cross-examined, often not even summoned to present their testimonies. Startlingly, these accounts are strongly corroborated by key BJP and SP leaders caught on TEHELKA’s cameras. (In fact, BJP leader Parmeshwari Dayal Gangwar- district vice-president of Pilibhit – gives the most devastating account of Varun’s actions.) The investigation also found that Public Prosecutor MP Verma – tasked with upholding the law of the land and bringing the guilty to justice – and the court itself were suspiciously negligent in following due process in bringing the high-profile leader to justice.

For instance, 18 witnesses were examined in a span of just two days. They all turned hostile, but neither the public prosecutor nor the court raised any flags. They failed to object even when other witnesses gave blatantly contradictory statements. Further, when Varun refused to give a voice sample – crucial evidence for the prosecution’s case – the public prosecutor agreed to it without any objection. Several important witnesses were not even produced in the court because the public prosecutor himself filed an application saying there was no need for them to do so. As an example of cynical political expediency – a willingness to bend every institution of democracy – the story could not get starker. Or darker. What also makes this story particularly significant is that it lays bare how easily systems are subverted by the powerful in this country. Before the evidence, the backdrop: Varun Gandhi’s controversial political journey began in 2009 when he decided to stand for his first Lok Sabha election from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh on a BJP ticket. As a Nehru-Gandhi scion, Varun should have been one of the natural inheritors of what is perhaps the world’s most illustrious political legacy. But his mother Maneka Gandhi’s famous spat with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had meant political anonymity for him.

In March 2009, that anonymity was rudely broken when visual footage of Varun spewing venom at Muslims in his election rallies erupted on national television. The country was astounded. Here was Jawaharlal Nehru’s great-grandson in a role absolutely antithetical to the idea of India his great grandfather had played such a pivotal role in establishing. Millions watched as these hate speeches – captured by several people on their phones and cameras – were played on loop on television channels. At the Election Commission’s insistence, two cases were filed against Varun for inciting hatred and creating communal disharmony. He was arrested on 28 March 2009 and stayed behind bars for 20 days. Another case was registered against him for the violence that took place during his surrender at the Pilibhit court. He was charged for rioting, damaging public property and attempt to murder. Yet, though thousands had heard his speeches at the rallies and millions had watched it on television, on 4 May 2013, the Sessions Court of Pilibhit acquitted him of all the charges in these three cases, on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

The illegal and immoral lengths Varun went to, to get these exonerations, have all been caught in TEHELKA’s sting investigation. But this was not Varun’s first brush with the law. He had picked the Pilibhit parliamentary seat for his first election because his mother Maneka had won several Lok Sabha elections from there. On 1 August 2008, on a tour through his constituency, Varun and his associates were headed towards Barkhera, a town 22 km from Pilibhit. On the way, Varun’s car got stalled in a pothole in a village called Jyorah Kalyanpur. While the problem was being sorted, Varun and his supporters got down and tried talking to people around. Most huts in the village were sporting flags of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (RKMS) and the Congress party. This displeased Varun and he enquired why this was the case. A local shopkeeper, Bharatveer Gangwar, replied that the flags were there because the RKMS was working for the people of the area. Phool Chand ‘Acharya Ji’, a resident of the village and an eyewitness to the incident, recounts what happened after this. “Varun got angry with Bharatveer and said whatever had been done for the village had been done by his mother Maneka. Bharatveer replied that people supported RKMS leader VM Singh because he had fought for the welfare of the local sugarcane farmers. Varun did not like this and slapped Bharatveer. Varun’s supporters also started beating him. The villagers tried to stop them but Varun’s supporters had weapons and no one had to courage to stop Varun.” …



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Terror tale from WB: 2 Muslim youths languishing in jail without chargesheet for 5 years – By Zaidul Haque (Jun 10, 2013, TwoCircles.net)

Two Muslim youths who were arrested on 29 July 2008 on charges of having links with banned Lashkar-e-Toiba and for carrying out ‘anti-national’ activities are languishing in jail for five years now although the Criminal Investigation Department of West Bengal has failed to even file charge-sheet till date. Within days of the Bangalore serial blasts on 25 July 2008, two Muslim youths Mohammad Mustaque (then 30 years old), a garment trader and Hassanuzzaman (then 21 years old) alias Hassan Master a Para-teacher from Jangipur of Murshidbad were arrested for their suspected connection with the LeT and they are since waiting for their trials behind the dark dungeon.

At around 1.30 pm on 29th July, 2008 a CID team of West Bengal reached to Raghunathganj Market in Murshidabad to nab the alleged linkman. According to then Director General of CID (Operation) Siddhinath Gupta a group of investigating officers of CID knocked at the cloth shop of Mohammad Mustaque and arrested him. The CID team then reached the Primary School at Raghunathganj area where teacher training was in progress and arrested Hassanuzzaman alias Hassan Master. The leading English Daily of West Bengal, The Telegraph had published the news on its front page on 31 July with the headline, “Lashkar camp in Bengal village.” Other English and Bengali dailies had also published the news in its front pages.

After the arrests of Mustaque and Hassanuzzaman, then DG of CID (Operation) Siddhinath Gupta had told journalists that Jammu and Kashmir police had tipped off his office about the arrested persons and that Mustaque was giving shelter to a Pakistani national Sikandar Azam in his house, a Let militant operating from Bangladesh, who was later arrested in J&K. The Lashkar had apparently paid Rs 2 lakhs to them for providing Sikandar with logistical support. CID sleuths had also alleged then that Mustaque had started an organisation called Ahle-Hadith and that they were trying to start a camp in Jangipur to motivate local youths to join the extremist organization and distributed leaflets in Urdu and English. Mustaque had allegedly met a LeT leader during a visit to Biratnagar in Nepal.

Siddhinath Gupta had also told journalists then that the police had found a laptop, pen-drive, video, Urdu leaflets, etc from Mustaque’s house at village Gopalnagar. CID had produced the duo at the Jangipur Court and Public prosecutor had told the court that laptop, objectionable pictures, fake Indian currency of 100 and 500 notes, Hindi and Urdu leaflets, booklets, pen drive, etc were confiscated. CID had filed the case against the Mustaque and Hassanuzzamn under the Indian Penal Code 489B, 489C, 120, 121, 121A and 124. Jangipur sub-judicial court had then ordered for 14 days police custody and accepted appeal of CID to take them to Kolkata for interrogation. They were in Alipore Jail for few days and later transferred to the Baharampur Jail in Murshdiabad, where they are awaiting their fate. Five years have passed since then, but the CID has not filed the charge-sheet yet in the court. And the two youths are still languishing in jails, without even a fair trial. …

Pointing to the loopholes in CID’s claims, he said that the charges against them are “unnatural.” CID had alleged that they distributed incriminating leaflets in Urdu and English in the Jangipur locality. Census data clearly shows that the literacy rate in the Murshidabad district is very low and most people speak Bengali. Why they were distributing leaflets in Urdu and English and not in Bengali, he wonders. Choton Das also said that every Muslim household has Quran and some Islamic literature and their possession does not make one anti-national. Condemning the police ‘communal bias’ he wanted to know why police has not filed the charge-sheet yet. He demanded their immediate release. State Secretary of All India Minority Youth Federation, Md Kamruzzaman too criticized the ‘anti-Muslim mindset’ of the police force and demanded their immediate release if charges have not been proved against them. State Secretary of SDPI, Taidul Islam said that SDPI leaders have met the Murshidabad district police officials several times and demanded the release of Mustaque and Hassan, but they showed no seriousness.



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Communal riot in Rajasthan – By NA Ansari (Jun 9, 2013, Milli Gazette)

A communal riot broke out in Nimaj town of Pali district of Rajasthan on 25 April when a procession on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti was taken out. As the procession passed through a Muslim locality and mosque, some anti-social elements threw stones on the procession which led to the two communities coming face to face and throwing stones at each other. The crowd set many two-wheelers, jeeps, cars and houses on fire. Many persons were also injured, though no deaths were reported.

According to D G of Jodhpur Range, DC Jain tension had been prevailing in this town for the past about one week on the question of a board placed at a Neem tree. According to one Ataur Rahman of Pali, ta’zias were assembled under this tree during Muharram and accordingly a permanent board relating to ta’zias was put up there. A few days before the riot broke out on 25 April, some Hindu organisations removed that board and put up their own board (related to Hanuman), which led to tension and a riot-like condition. Some shop keepers began to down their shutters. The administration got both boards removed. Probably irked at this, Hindu organisations decided to take out a Hanuman Jayanti procession.

According to some Muslims, Hanuman Jayanti procession was never taken out earlier at this place and it was for the first time that this procession was taken out. If this contention of Muslims is true, it is clear that this Hanuman Jayanti procession was taken out by Hindu organisations with some ulterior motive. And they succeeded in their evil design because a communal riot did break out, though on a small scale. Shortly after the riot broke out and conditions began to deteriorate, when administration and police authorities were also attacked by stone-pelters, curfew was clamped around 10.30 pm. Next day (26 April), conditions improved.

According to D.C. Jain 33 persons were arrested but according to Police Supdt of Pali, (Ms) K. B. Vandana, 36 persons were arrested and peace could be restored in the town on 27 April, after about 300 STF and Rajasthan Armed Constabulary personnel were posted at sensitive places. PS Vandana said that four cases were also registered. This riot in Nimaj is the sixth such incident in Rajasthan in April alone. Communal riots had earlier broken out in this month in Sanganer (Jaipur), Makrana (Nagaur), Sarwar (Ajmer), Udaipur and Baran.

The question being raised is the wisdom of the state or district authorities in allowing the Hanuman Jayanti procession being taken out at a time when the communal atmosphere was already charged after the removal of boards put up by Muslims and Hindus on the Neem tree. Moreover, when no Hanuman Jayanti procession was taken out on earlier occasions, as stated by Muslims, why was it allowed this year, and that too was allowed to pass through Muslim populated localities? …



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Grassroots Democracy Gasps As Guns Do The Talking – By G Vishnu (Jun 15, 2013, Tehelka)

There are no roads here. There is no pond in the village. No wells. No drinking water. What does the government want us to do?” laments Era Madkamy, 37, a small-time farmer who grows paddy, groundnuts and vegetables for a living. His wife Mamata Kobasi, 25, has recently resigned from her post as an elected village head. Kobasi is not alone. In the past two months, frustration over the State’s apathy towards the tribal dominated region has made 72 local body representatives quit their posts in a remote corner of Odisha, one of the poorest of the 28 states in India. Though the district collector refused to accept the resignations, the despair runs so deep that no one is willing to relent. Malkangiri district, 600 km to the south-west of the state capital Bhubaneswar, has always been in the news for the wrong reasons. This is one of the 60 districts in central and eastern India that the government considers to be ‘most affected’ by the Maoist insurgency.

Malkangiri hit the headlines in February 2011 when the Maoists abducted the then district collector Vineel Krishna. One of the rebels’ demands was the construction of a canal that would ensure drinking water to people across a large part of the district. Nearly two-and-a-half years following the release of Krishna – who currently works in the Union Ministry of Rural Development – there is no sign of the canal yet. While pressure from the Maoists may have left little choice for the local body representatives but to follow their diktat, many of them say they are so fed up with the State’s apathy towards the tribals that they decided to quit. The resignation of local body members at all levels – from wards (a part of a village) to blocks (a bunch of villages) – means more than just stagnancy in the local administration. It almost suggests a rejection of everything that the government has to offer.

People in every village that TEHELKA visited in the district seemed to share this sense of alienation. Among those who have resigned are the chairperson and 21 village heads of Kalimela block. In Koyimetla, one of the villages in this block, it is a hot Sunday morning and the village head Kobasi tends to her kids while her husband Madkamy has breakfast. With no irrigation facilities, it is a tough task for the household to sustain their crops. Even collecting drinking water is a big problem. This village was once connected by the main road that passes through Kalimela block. It was a pucca road once, but that is difficult to believe by the look of what remains of it. In fact,pucca roads cannot be seen in most parts of the district.

“What’s the point of being a village head when there is little you can do to improve the lot of the villagers?” asks Madkamy. Village head Kobasi and the other villagers too share the same view. But lest you thought it is a village that has been influenced by Maoists, the villagers are quick to clarify that it is not. No one claimed to support the Maoists in any way. Indeed, it is difficult to reduce the villagers’ views on the Maoists to a binary of ‘support’ and ‘opposition’. So, at the same time as they insist they have nothing to do with the Maoists, some of them say they agree with a few of the rebels’ demands.…

While calls for further militarisation of Maoist-affected regions have become louder following the shocking Naxal attack on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh on 25 May, Malkangiri is a case study in why that alone may not end the problem. Unless it comes with a simultaneous campaign to strengthen institutions of local governance, so that local body representatives feel safe and are empowered to address the grievances of villagers. Else we might end up with more Malkangiri-like situations. Already in neighbouring Koraput district, local body representatives in Narayanpatna block are readying to resign en masse to protest the arrest of over 500 innocent Adivasis.



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