IAMC Weekly News Roundup - June 12th, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 12th, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Holy month of Ramzan makes the Hindu-Muslim bond stronger in Old Delhi (Jun 10, 2017, Hindustan Times)

For members of the Muslim community, the holy month of Ramzan involves fasting, devotion and charity. In Old Delhi, the month holds significance for its Hindu brethren, too. In a show of solidarity, many are choosing to not eat anything for the whole day.

Mohd. Shaan, owner of Kallan Sweet Shop in Old Delhi, tells us, “Kaushal Singh, who has been working with us for the last sixteen years, doesn’t eat anything for the whole day. Like him, we have several Hindu workers who stand in front of the ‘bhatti’ all through the day but to support us, they also skip their meals and water. And, if they want to have food or drink water, they go in the backyard.” For Kaushal, it’s not about religion, but humanity. “How can I eat or drink anything when a colleague abstains from it. I’m not a sadist. I respect all religions and value them,” he says proudly.

The story is the same for many employees at the several shops in the area, with a majority of Hindu staff showing concern for the Muslims. Mohd. Arshad, who runs a dry-fruit shop, shares, “Meva Ram, who works for me, doesn’t even talk about food in front of me. He also skips his lunch every day to eat iftari (the meal that breaks the day-long fast) with my family. Aisa bhaichara kaha dekhne ko milega?”…


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Jharkhand: Muslim man attacked by irate mob for taking ‘beef’ to Iftar party (Jun 7, 2017, Hindustan Times)

A Muslim man was assaulted by an angry mob for allegedly trying to take beef to an Iftar party at Barbadda village in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district on Tuesday morning. The victim – identified as 35-year-old Ainul Ansari – has been admitted to the Patliputra Medical College Hospital, where he is recovering.

Police said Ansari, a resident of Murahdih, was headed to Barbadda village on a scooter when 20 people waylaid him at Loharbarba. Even as they were assaulting him, somebody informed the police. A team led by Barbadda police station officer-in-charge Dinesh Kumar reached the scene soon afterwards, and rescued Ansari. “The irate mob insisted that we search the victim’s scooter. We did so, and recovered meat – probably beef – from its storage compartment,” said Kumar.

Ansari’s wife, Sahida Begum, denied the allegation. “We planned to hold an Iftar party at our house on Tuesday evening. Ansari was bringing mutton for the event, but the villagers mistook it for beef,” she said.…



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Meghalaya Assembly demands withdrawal of cattle slaughter rules (Jun 12, 2017, India Today)

The Meghalaya Assembly today passed a resolution opposing the Centre’s controversial notification regulating the sale of cattle for slaughter and has asked for its withdrawal. At a special day-long session of the Assembly, the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government moved a resolution against the Central government’s new rules on cattle trade for slaughter that infringes on the states’ rights.

Even the opposition parties in Meghalaya – United Democratic Party, Hill State People’s Democratic Party and even the National People’s Party, which is an ally of the BJP – had opposed the new rules and demanded their withdrawal. Three senior Meghalaya BJP leaders – Bernard Marak, Bachu Marak and Wilver Graham Danggo – resigned after senior party leaders opposed their plans to organise a “bitchi-beef party” …

Last week, the former BJP leaders organised a “bitchi-beef” fest to protest against the Central government’s new rules that aims to prevent sale of cattle for slaughter.… Over 5,000 BJP workers from Garo Hills region, which has 24 seats of Meghalaya Assembly’s 60, had resigned from the party over the issue. Many more leaders have threatened to do if the rules are not rolled-back. The BJP’s state chief Shibun Lyngdoh said: “The issue of cow slaughter is a state subject. The matter has been clarified by our leaders. There is nothing more to say.”



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Two ‘Sangh Supporters’ Held for Disrupting Sitaram Yechury’s Press Conference (Jun 7, 2017, The Wire)

Two persons claiming to be affiliated with the RSS on Wednesday disrupted a press conference being addressed by CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury. According to a statement released by the Left party, the press conference was being held at the end of a two-day polit bureau meeting.

The two men allegedly entered masquerading as journalists before they went on to disrupt the event. According to reports, the men shouted slogans including “CPI(M) murdabad” and “Hindu Sena zindabad”.

“They also tried to manhandle comrade Yechury, but we came in their way and the comrade was safe,” a party worker present at the spot said. “This is typical of the RSS methodology of seeking to browbeat and intimidate the opposition. Such tactics will not be allowed to succeed,” the CPI(M) statement said. Yechury also tweeted his indignation, adding that he and his party “will not be cowed down”.…



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Amit Shah on Mahatma Gandhi: ‘Bahut chatur baniya tha, he could presage Congress’ bleak future’ (Jun 10, 2017, Indian Express)

BJP president Amit Shah claimed here on Friday that the Congress was never a party based on principles, it was merely a “special purpose vehicle” to secure freedom. And Mahatma Gandhi, a “bahut chatur baniya,” could presage the bleak future of the party.

In contrast, because the BJP was a party which was clear in its approach, Shah said, it had no hesitation in saying “jo deshdrohi naare lagayega, woh deshdrohi kahlaya jayega.” Shah was speaking to a collection of “eminent persons” of Chhattisgarh, on the second day of his three-day trip to the state, with a view to strengthening the party before elections in late 2018.

Saying that the Congress was an instrument to get independence, and that people from all ideologies, left and right, socialist and Communist, were part of its pre-independence movement…



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Police crackdown begins in violence-hit epicentre of MP farmers’ protest (Jun 12, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Fear stalks the narrow cemented roads of Bahi Parsavnath and Balaguda, the two Patidar-dominated Madhya Pradesh villages on the Mhow-Neemuch highway, where a police crackdown is on.

The two villages, which are 15km away from Mandsaur, were the epicentre of farmers’ protest where police firing on June 6 left five people dead after which angry farmers set fire to scores of trucks along the highway. The toll rose to six after an injured farmer died on Friday.…

“More than 50 men in blue uniform in four vehicles came to the village with two policemen from the local police station and started beating people mercilessly,” says a villager. Police picked up three men, Kamlesh Patidar, the son of the local patel, Shivlal Patidar and Narendra Sharma on June 8, he says, refusing to be identified. “I fear police will target me if you write my name.”…



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Saharanpur violence accused Chandrashekhar arrested (Jun 8, 2017, Times of India)

The main accused in the Saharanpur violence and Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar was arrested from Himachal Pradesh on Thursday. The 30-year-old activist was nabbed from Dalhousie area of Himachal Pradesh, Additional DG (Meerut Zone) Anand Kumar told PTI over phone.…

Earlier, two members of the Bhim Army were arrested in Saharanpur for their alleged involvement in the Ramnagar caste violence on May 9 after one person was killed and several others were injured in a clash between Dalits and Thakurs at Shabbirpur village in the district on May 5.…

Chandrasekhar, who had since been evading arrest, was carrying a reward of Rs 12,000 on his head. The Uttar Pradesh police had recently constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising 10 inspectors to probe 40 cases, registered between May 5 to May 23, in Saharanpur district which has seen bouts of inter-caste clashes last month.…



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Video confession reveals that PFI worker was killed by the RSS in Kannur (Jun 10, 2017, Twocircles.net)

Putting its leadership in trouble, an RSS worker has confessed that he killed Fazal, a member of the Popular Front of India (PFI). A video with the confession of RSS worker Subeesh was submitted to the CBI court in Kochi on Friday. The video was submitted by CPIM leader and accused in Fazal murder case Karayi Rajan.

The video shows Subeesh revealing that Fazal was killed by four RSS activists including him on October 22, 2006 at Thalassery in Kannur district. In the video, he names the other three as Prateesh, Pramesh, and Shinoy. According to the video, the four RSS workers went to local leader Thilakan’s residence. After hearing of the attack on Fazal, Thilakan slapped Subeesh and asked the gang to keep weapons which had Fazal’s blood at his house. He further ordered not to tell anyone about the murder.

The video shows Subeesh saying two of the gang hacked Fazal with swords while he fell down from the bicycle, which he used to distribute newspapers. Subeesh had made the confession in November, 2016, when he was arrested for murdering CPIM worker Paduvilayi Mohanan in Kannur in October 2016.…



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India: school book describes Jesus as a demon; Christians demand removal (Jun 9, 2017, Catholicculture)

Christians in India’s Gujarat state are asking officials to remove a book that is currently in use in public schools, in which Jesus is described as a demon.

The book is “simply unacceptable and should be removed immediately,” said a spokesman for the Christian protesters, noting the law that bans deliberate offenses against religious faith.

Gujarat’s education minister said that reference was a typographical error, and “the mistake will soon be resolved.”



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Gujarat High Court concludes hearing on Zakia Jafri’s plea against Narendra Modi, others (Jun 10, 2017, Indian Express)

The Gujarat High Court has concluded hearing a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain former MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging a clean chit to Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister, and others in 2002 riots cases. Justice Sonia Gokani on Saturday concluded the hearing while allowing filing of a written submission by Jafri’s lawyer Mihir Desai on June 19 and a reply by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team on July 3, before pronouncing the judgement.

Zakia had moved the HC against a closure report filed by SIT on the issue of larger criminal conspiracy involving Modi and others behind 2002 riots cases. Her husband Ehsan Jafri was one of the victims of the riots as a mob had set their house in city’s Gulberg Society on fire.…

The criminal review petition by Zakia and NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, run by activist Teesta Setalvad, has demanded making Modi and 59 others as accused on charges of criminal conspiracy behind the riots. Zakia also’ closure report of the Supreme Court appointed SIT giving clean chit to Modi and others.…



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UP BJP MLA attacks police over law & order, Dalit ‘atrocities’ (Jun 12, 2017, DNA India)

Already facing Opposition’s flak over law and order situation in the state, the BJP government came under attack from one of its own MLAs who accused the Gonda Police of corruption, shielding criminals and “not acting” in cases of alleged atrocities on the Dalits.

Paltu Ram, BJP MLA from Balrampur Sadar Seat, said no one listens to the Dalits when they visit police stations with their grievances. He directly attacked Gonda Superintendent of Police.

“Law and order of the Gonda district has collapsed under the present Superintendent of Police. Instead of taking action against criminal elements, police are taking bribe and shielding them,” he said in a letter, which he released to the media here.…



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Opinions and Editorials

India’s Battered Free Press – Editorial (Jun 7, 2017, New York Times)

Press freedom in India suffered a fresh blow on Monday when the country’s main investigative agency raided homes and offices connected to the founders of NDTV, India’s oldest television news station. The raids mark an alarming new level of intimidation of India’s news media under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.…

Since Mr. Modi took office in 2014, journalists have faced increasing pressures. They risk their careers – or lives – to report news that is critical of the government or delves into matters that powerful politicians and business interests do not want exposed. News outlets that run afoul of the government can lose access to officials. The temptation to self-censor has grown, and news reports are increasingly marked by a shrill nationalism that toes the government line.…

Praveen Swami, a reporter for The Indian Express newspaper, warned on Twitter that Monday’s raids were “a defining moment,” adding: “The last time this sort of thing happened was during the Emergency,” a reference to the strict censorship of 1975-77 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency and ruled as an autocrat. Sadly, Mr. Swami’s warning is warranted. The Central Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday that it “fully respects the freedom of press.” Even if that’s true, the question still outstanding is whether Mr. Modi does.



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Bajrang Dal training camps in Hanumangarh: A journey into the Hindutva heartland – By Asad Ashraf (Jun 13, 2017, First Post)

Barely 400 kilometres from Delhi, the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Hindutva groups have been conducting training camps that put schoolchildren through the paces of using firearms and swords.… We left for Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh – one of the many places running such camps in the name of instilling patriotism into young hearts and minds.…

They confessed on the camera that they ran this camp in which they taught school children the art of handling sophisticated weapons. All this was devised to counter the threat of the Islamic State in India and the internal enemies within the country. They also confessed their role in attacks on people in the name of protecting cows and dealing with ‘love-jihadis’, clearly indicating that these men had taken the law in their own hands and were not letting the police do its duty and fulfil its responsibilities.…

When interrogated about the training camp, he firmly said, “There is nothing new about the camps as we teach people the art of self-defence; we can see terror activities are gaining ground and it is important to keep ourselves prepared for that challenges. The organisation is also running a training camp in Pali – on the border with Pakistan – right now for young girls, in which they are trained in the art of self-defence.”…



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Killing The Kisan – Editorial (Jun 8, 2017, DNA India)

The protests in Mandsaur, which saw the lives of six farmers being snuffed out, have now assumed proportions of a full-blown crisis. Latest reports indicate that the protests have spread to six districts, while the violence surrounding the farmers’ demand continues unabated. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has jumped into damage control mode by declaring a price stabilisation fund of Rs 1,000 crore.

Apart from this, he has also announced compensation of Rs 1 crore to the kin of the dead and Rs 5 lakh to those injured. This hasn’t proved to be much of a salve in Mandsaur where over a dozen vehicles were set on fire, while the area Collector and Superintendent of Police faced public ire for their delay in coming to grips with the situation. Meanwhile, the state continues to be on a boil.

Apart from Mandsaur, Neemuch, Ratlam, and Indore districts have reported cases of vehicles being torched and police officers being manhandled. State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh has ordered a judicial probe, but the actual chain of events that led to police shooting still remains unclear.…



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Modi’s Push for a Hindu Revival Imperils India’s Meat Industry – By Suhasini Raj and Ellen Barry (Jun 5, 2017, New York Times)

When Uttar Pradesh’s state government began a crackdown on unlicensed slaughterhouses in March, Sanjay Chaturvedi, a local veterinary inspector, celebrated. For years, Mr. Chaturvedi said, the government had protected the lucrative, predominantly Muslim-owned buffalo meat business, making it difficult for him to enforce environmental codes.

But Mr. Chaturvedi has spent the past two months watching the local economy collapse. And now he is beginning to worry. Of the 10 slaughterhouses and meat-processing factories operating in March on the stretch of road he patrols in Meerut, seven have shut down, putting much of the local population – 10,000 people, by his estimate – out of work. Migrant workers have packed up. Factory owners are defaulting on bank loans.

What alarms him most, he said, is the government’s recent announcement of stringent new regulations effectively banning the sale of cattle – a category that includes buffaloes as well as cows – for slaughter. The rules threaten to all but cut off the supply of animal products for the lucrative leather and buffalo meat industries, which together account for about $10 billion in annual exports.…



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Forget Modi’s Gandhi love. Shah’s ‘chatur baniya’ comment exposes RSS’s real view – By Charu Kartikeya (Jun 10, 2017, Catch News)

…While Gandhi might be popularly remembered as the Father of the Nation, Shah feels that the only man whose portrait permanently graces every government office as the guide of the morality of the Indian State was in fact a mere ‘baniya’ (a casteist reference to the trading class). A clever one, to be precise. The BJP chief’s unprecedented reference to Gandhi came at a public event in Chhattisgarh on 9 June.

Shah was essentially holding forth on why the Congress was not a party, and only an SPV or a “special purpose vehicle” for obtaining independence from British rule. Gandhi knew this, Shah said, which is why he called for disbanding the Congress after Independence. This made him a “bahut chatur baniya”, according to Shah.

The stable that Shah comes from has long carried particularly vicious hatred for Gandhi. Even though no recognised RSS leader was ever convicted for conspiring to kill the Mahatma, Nathuram Godse’s link with the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha is undeniable. There is direct evidence of even MS Golwalkar, the RSS’s second chief, threatening to kill Gandhi in 1947.…



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Saharanpur violence result of RSS cultivating weaker castes among Dalits, OBCs, weakening solidarity – By Battini Rao (Jun 12, 2017, Counterview)

Fifty five Dalit houses were burnt down during the afternoon of May 5 in Shabbirpur village of Saharanpur in northern UP. Attackers belonged to the dominant Rajput community of the area. They were armed with swords, spears, and lathis, and numbered about three thousand. Several other houses were looted, and fifteen motorcycles were burnt. Twelve Dalits received serious injuries.…

The politics in UP is passing through a critical phase, in which the BJP has successfully shaken earlier political alignments. This situation requires utmost political wisdom by all progressive, secular, and anti-BJP forces. The RSS has cultivated economically and socially weaker castes among Dalits for many decades by organising religious functions for their specific caste deities, and popularising their separate caste histories. This has weakened solidarity among dalit castes. The same strategy has been successfully applied among OBCs too. The corruption, opportunism and misdemeanours of Dalit and OBC politicians have further helped the BJP.

All this has opened the way for the reassertion of the hegemony of the so called upper castes under Hindutva ideology. The RSS and BJP have manged to get a degree of consent for their virulent programmes from wide sections of the Hindu caste society. This is leading UP towards authoritarian use of state power, a permanent state of anti-minority violence and open attacks on citizenship rights. The BJP government in UP is also trying to browbeat administration to toe its line. The official residence of the then SSP in Saharanpur was attacked by BJP MP and his followers in April, after he had stopped their procession in a Muslim locality.…



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Book Review

Tilting the Balance of Power: Adjudicating the RTI Act

Author: Research, Assessment and Analysis Group
Reviewed by: Alok Prasanna Kumar
Available at: Satark Nagrik Sangathan, B-76 (Garage), S.F.S. Flats, Sheikh Sarai-1, New Delhi-110017 and Rajpal and Sons, New Delhi, 2017; pp xvii + 291, ?400.. www.amazon.in/
One Decade of the RTI Act (Jun 3, 2017, EPW)

The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 (hereafter, “the act”) is an excellent example of a grass-roots movement culminating in the promulgation of groundbreaking laws and policies to achieve its ends. … A decade after the law was enacted and the relevant institutions set up, it is now the right time to look back and take stock. Tilting the Balance of Power: Adjudicating the RTI Act has therefore come out at just the right time. Attempting a full-scale study of the act, it examines the way the provisions of the law have been applied by the information officers of the central and state governments. The book also analyses how the law has been interpreted by the judiciary, and addresses the working of the institutions set up under the act.

This book is a valuable resource for anyone who wishes to use the act or study its working in the first few years. Its six parts run the gamut from judicial interpretation of the law by the Supreme Court and the high courts, to the functioning of the information commissions, and the level of compliance with the law by various government departments among other things. This is not just a work of reference; it is also one of careful analysis and critique, accompanied by action points to improve the laws and institutions. In that sense, it is the first of its kind – a book that incorporates rigorous research about the state of the right to information law and the concerned institutions in India with commentary about case-law to outline an agenda for change.

The empirical study of the information commissions presented in this book provides some sobering insights into the way in which the act has been implemented. It is somewhat ironic, but also emblematic of some of the act’s failings, that information about the information commissions themselves is not always easily accessible. Although there is an obligation to publish annual reports, there is no consistency in the way these reports are maintained. This makes the researchers’ task much harder, but working with what is available, the authors of Tilting the Balance of Power have unearthed much that needs to be engaged with and discussed by civil society and policymakers.…