IAMC Weekly News Roundup - June 13th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 13th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Human rights, religious freedom deteriorating in India: Human Rights Watch (Jun 9, 2016, Indian Express)

Observing that the two years of Modi government have resulted in deterioration in human rights and religious freedom in India, rights activists have called for making the issue as part of the US’ regular dialogue with India.

“Progress on human rights in India will continue to falter unless the Modi administration takes better steps to ensure justice and accountability for all citizens, protect vulnerable communities, and protect the free exchange of ideas and dissent,” said John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch.

Lack of effective implementation of laws and policies remain a persistent challenge, Sifton said, during a hearing on “Challenges & Opportunities: The Advancement of Human Rights in India” organised by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Tuesday. Government officials are not held accountable and impunity persists for police and other security personnel who are shielded by laws from being prosecuted for serious human rights abuses, he claimed.…



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All eyes on Sanatan Sanstha after ENT specialist’s arrest (Jun 12, 2016, Times of India)

The arrest of Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, an ENT specialist, by CBI on Friday in the murder of rationalist and anti-superstition campaigner Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, has thrown the spotlight once again on Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu right-wing organization headquartered in Ramnathi, Ponda in Goa, about 30km from Panaji.

Tawade joined the sanstha at Kolhapur, Maharashtra and visited Sanstha headquarters in Goa only before 2004, a member of the sanstha claimed adding, he did not visit later.

The sanstha has enjoyed political patronage and support in Goa. Responding to demands for a ban on the organisation in September 2015, Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar had ruled out banning the organisation. Also, wives of two ministers in the coalition BJP government in the state – PWD minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar and craftsmen training minister Pandurang (Deepak) Dhavalikar, both of the Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) are sadhaks of the sanstha, and are said to be actively supporting its activities.…



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Head of Samjhauta Express blasts probe says the Centre is ‘erasing evidence’ in a bid to clear prime suspect Purohit (Jun 7, 2016, Daily Mail)

Vikas Narain Rai, head of the SIT that probed the Samjhauta Express blasts, has accused the government of trying to give Colonel Purohit and the other accused in the case a clean chit.…

The former SIT chief claimed that a concerted attempt was being made to give the accused a clean chit by destroying evidence, cooking up alibis and coercing witnesses.

“Evidence is being erased, witnesses are being forced to turn hostile, documents are being fabricated to help people due to their Right wing linkages,” Rai alleged.…



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Kairana exodus: BJP list of ‘Hindus’ forced out includes those who died, migrated for better job (Jun 16, 2016, Indian Express)

A list of 346 ‘Hindus’ that BJP MP Hukum Singh claimed had left Kairana in western UP over “threats and extortion by criminal elements belonging to a particular community (read Muslims)” has quite a few discrepancies, an investigation by The Indian Express has found.

While it does have names of some who have left alleging harassment by “gangs”, the list includes names of people who have died, of those who left Kairana more than 10 years ago and still others who say that they migrated for a better school for their children or a better job.

The Indian Express tracked down 22 people who figure in Singh’s list and found five had died, four had moved out of Kairana looking for better opportunities, 10 left more than 10 years ago, three had moved fearing “local criminals”.…



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FIR against Sadhvi Prachi ‘for inciting communal passions’ (Jun 14, 2016, DNA India)

An FIR has been registered against controversial VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi for inciting communal passions, police said on Tuesday.

The FIR was registered against Prachi based on a complaint lodged by Sandeep Kumar of Bahujan Mukti Morcha who alleged that her statement in which she had pitched for a “Muslim free country” in Uttrakhand recently, hurt communal feelings, they said.…

Known for courting controversies, the Sadhvi had claimed the mission of a Congress-free country has already been “accomplished” and it is now time to make India free of Muslims.…



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Right-wing arms training aims at Ram Temple in Ayodhya (Jun 7, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Volunteers of right-wing Hindu groups are getting arms training primarily to prevent and counter terrorist attacks, but the exercise has an additional motive. This is apparently preparation for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya in election-bound Uttar Pradesh.

The Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its women’s wing, Durga Vahini, are conducting self-defence training camps in which members brandish lathis, swords and firearms as part of the routine.

The participants at the camps on the outskirts of Bhopal have been told to be “ready for any situation” that might impede the construction of the temple in Ayodhya.…



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SC refuses urgent hearing on plea for restrain on statements by AIMPLB (Jun 7, 2016, Indian Express)

Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to give an urgent hearing to a plea seeking direction to restrain the All India Muslim Personal Law Board from giving alleged “misleading messages” to the public till the hearing of a plea on Muslim women’s rights on issues concerning marriage and divorce.

A vacation bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy while declining to give an urgent hearing asked petitioner advocate Farha Faiz, who is also party to the suo motu petition being heard by the apex court, to first respond to the writ petition and then mention the fresh plea for hearing.

Faiz said that direction should be passed to restrain media trial, which is being done on the contentious issue of Muslim women’s rights and members of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) from issuing misleading statements. “How can we stop media trial? Is their any mechanism in any part of the world to stop media trial,” the bench observed.…



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Lack of documents forcing Muzaffarnagar riot victims to migrate as manual labourers (Jun 9, 2016, Times of India)

Displaced from their homes after the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013, over a thousand men who had first settled in neighbouring Shamli district have slowly migrated to other states such as Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan for employment. Some have even gone as far as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Afkar India Foundation, an organisation working for the rehabilitation of riot victims, said that most displaced families lost all their documents after the riots, which made them ineligible for government schemes. As a result, they have had to migrate to other states and work as labourers.

“After the riots, over 50,000 people were displaced. Around 6,000 families were uprooted from their homes and were forced to shift base. Of these, close to 2,800 families came and settled in the neighbouring Shamli district. Some of these families were from Shamli district itself. It’s been almost three years since the riots and most of these families don’t even have ration cards yet. Many don’t even have water or power connections. They live in deplorable conditions and they resort to manual labour to make ends meet,” said Akram Akhtar, project manager at Afkar India Foundation, an NGO that works for the rehabilitation of riot victims.…



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Sohrabuddin case returns to haunt Amit Shah (Jun 11, 2016, Mid Day)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah is again being linked with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, from which he was discharged in December 2014. A writ petition was filed in the Bombay High Court yesterday claiming that Shah influenced court proceedings to get a clean chit in the case.

The petitioner, Rajesh Kamble, owner of Yash Foundation, in his petition, also claimed that Shah threatened Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin to withdraw the appeal he had filed in HC against Shah’s discharge by a lower court in November 2015. Kamble’s petition will come for hearing next week.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had named Shah as the prime accused in their chargesheet in 2012 in the fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi. CBI had alleged that Shah, the then Gujarat home minister, had hired Sheikh to extort money for him and after they had a fallout, he got him killed in November 2005 and made it look like an encounter.…



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Protect us from cow vigilante groups, trade hit: Punjab soap industry to police (Jun 12, 2016, Indian Express)

Soap factory owners have requested the Punjab Police to save them from the “ire of cow vigilante groups” who, they claim, are hampering their business in the name of cow protection.

The Indian Express had earlier reported that a number of tankers were impounded by the state police following complaints that they were carrying buffalo tallow mixed with cow tallow. The complaints were filed by cow vigilante groups like Gau Raksha Dal (GRD).

On June 6, representatives from soap units had met with Punjab DGP Suresh Arora and demanded that the police stopped harassing them.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Finding judicial closure in Gulbarg – Editorial (Jun 3, 2016, The Hindu)

…After the SIT gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi and repudiated allegations by Ehsan Jafri’s widow that, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he had instructed the police to let the mob run riot, the Gulbarg Society case became a rallying point for those pleading that the Modi administration be implicated in the riots. The SIT included a police inspector and a BJP councillor in the charge sheet, but both are among the 36 now acquitted.

The prosecution was unable to prove any conspiracy behind the communal violence with the court finding insufficient evidence of pre-planning, never easy to establish in a case such as this. The collapse of the conspiracy angle does not imply an acceptance of the narrative that the Gujarat riots were an angry, reflexive response to the Godhra train carnage. The lines between spontaneity and subtle orchestration are hard to delineate.

Likewise, there is a difficulty in assessing the varying degree of moral culpability between commission and wilful omission. It would be well to remember this as the Gujarat riot cases reach their judicial closure.



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The ghost of Malegaon – By Harsh Mander (Jun 9, 2016, Indian Express)

…I spoke to Noor-ul-Huda, a power-loom worker who was the first to be arrested. He said these 10 years had destroyed his health, his dignity, his reputation, and his family. “Who can return these years to me?”… The initial breakthrough was achieved by tracing the owner of the motorcycle to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a former ABVP activist. Even more sensational was the alleged role of a serving Army officer Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay in the conspiracy. Others indicted were sadhus and mahants, as well as persons associated with the Sangh affiliates like the Bajrang Dal, belonging to a shadowy organisation Abhinav Bharat, named after the terror-based formation established by V. D. Savarkar in 1904.

These arrests and investigations further uncovered the role of the Abhinav Bharat and other Hindutva organisations in several other terror attacks, including the Malegaon blasts of 2006 and 2008, the explosions in the Samjhauta Express, the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Bajrang Dal activists were found manufacturing bombs in makeshift factories in Nanded, Kanpur, Bhopal and Goa.

What lay exposed was a deeply worrying communal mindset in India’s police and security establishment. Clear leads pointing to Hindutva terror groups were ignored; instead, trans-border Islamist groups were blamed, and Indian Muslim men arrested under terror laws, tortured and forced to sign “confessions”.…



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The BJP’s Defensiveness on ‘Kairana Exodus’ Exposes its Hindutva Agenda – By Sharat Pradhan (Jun 15, 2016, The Wire)

When its veteran leader and member of parliament Hukum Singh spoke about an ‘exodus’ of Hindus from Kairana, his pocket of western Uttar Pradesh, it was evident that the Bharatiya Janata Party was up to its old games. The suspicion that his words were yet another attempt to arouse Hindu passions turned out to be true.… The problem was clearly criminal in nature, and demonstrative of what happens in large parts of the state, which is known to some as the “wild west”. …

The BJP’s urge to engage in the politics of polarisation must be understood in the context of the Muzaffarnagar riots, which worked to its benefit in 2014. Over the past two years, while the party has been in power in the Centre, the flame of polarisation has been kept burning through issues like ‘love jihad’, ‘ghar wapsi’ and ‘beef politics’, which were played up repeatedly in Dadri.

With the realisation that Ayodhya had outlived its vote potential, these ideas brewed in the saffron ranks. That the BJP has repeatedly taken these issues to the extreme reflects its failure to move beyond Hindutva – which Shah perhaps considers indispensable to the party’s poll agenda, even as Modi discreetly shuns it. The double-speak apparently aims to appeal to the multitudes who believe in Modi’s aspirational politics, while also keeping the party’s traditional vote bank in good humour.



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The ban on cow slaughter – By A.G. Noorani (Jun 24, 2016, Frontline)

The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, received the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee on March 4, 2015. For 20 years, none of his predecessors in office thought it fit to accord the assent.…

If the history of the Constituent Assembly’s adoption of the pertinent provisions of the Constitution on the subject is recalled, it will be seen that a monumental fraud has been perpetrated on the clear intent of the framers of the Constitution by the champions of a ban on cow slaughter.…

Article 48 was conceived in deceit and executed through fraud. Bhargava’s two assurances – “without using any sort of coercion” and he did not want that “non-Hindus should complain that they have been forced to accept a certain thing against their will” – were flouted by the man himself in his pleas to the Supreme Court. And as for the record of the Supreme Court of India on cow slaughter bans, the less said the better.



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RSS is not just antithetical to Muslims, but to a democratic-secular India as well – By Shamsul Islam (Jun 10, 2016, Indian Express)

JS Bandukwala, a renowned academician, thinker and fighter for communal harmony in India has rightly expressed his anguish on the deteriorating relationship between RSS and Indian Muslims which must be a cause of serious concern for all those who wish a happy and prosperous India (‘I forgive, I hope’, IE May 27, 2016).

This aspect becomes enormously critical in a situation where RSS cadres are ruling India. I am afraid his take that RSS has problems with Muslims or vice versa is over-simplification of a far more serious issue. The future of Muslims or common Indians, 80.5% of whom are Hindus, depends on the survival of democratic-secular polity. It is more a critical issue for 135 million….

A country where 5-6% population controls 65% of the national wealth, an egalitarian constitution only can provide hope to the poor whether Muslims or Hindus. Unfortunately, RSS is committed ideologically to undo it.…



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Two years and waiting – By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Jun 24, 2016, Frontline)

…Sangh Parivar activists admit that central to the political dip and the consequent sense of incertitude about its prospects is the gap between the promises and performance of the Modi government. It is 80 per cent rhetoric and 20 per cent implementation, they say. An analysis by independent experts and members of the Frontline team of different sectors of the economy and governance in the past two years underscores this perception.…

Panwar’s observation has many takers across the political spectrum, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and S.P. leader Akhilesh Yadav. “Modi and the BJP use glitzy propaganda laden with empty rhetoric to cover up governance failures and parallelly unleash communal aggression and intolerance to polarise people.…

These are indeed brave and confident words, and political observers like Panwar say that this could well be the reality. However, they wonder what price the people will have to pay before they deliver a lasting rebuttal to the authoritarian and fascist tendencies of the current regime.



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Book Review

Communal Violence, Forced Migration and the State: Gujarat since 2002

Author: Sanjeevini Badigar Lokhande
Reviewed by: Rudolf C Heredia
Available at: Cambridge University Press India Private Limited, 4843/24, 2nd Floor, Ansari Road Daryaganj, New Delhi – 110002, 2015; pp xii + 215, price not indicated. http://www.amazon.in/
Rehabilitating Riot Victims (Jun 11, 2016, EPW)

…Gujarat has a history of such communal riots, chauvinistically used to consolidate vote banks. The post-Godhra violence in 2002 escalated out of control into a planned state-sponsored pogrom. This book examines the social, cultural and economic costs of the forced migration, and the disrupting displacement in its aftermath, which turns rights-bearing citizens into homeless refugees.

The author begins by setting the context of the study with a description of “Demography and Population Movements in Gujarat” (p 21). The state’s development model has for decades accentuated relative inequalities. Continuing communal conflicts have segregated communities, ghettoised Muslims in cities like Ahmedabad. Once it was in power, the Bharatiya Janata Party took advantage of this to make the state a laboratory for its Hindu nationalist agenda.…

This study is a competent description and an incisive analysis of the aftermath of the pogrom of 2002 in the state. It implies sharp questions to the parties and politicians responsible. Is this the “good governance” so repeatedly proclaimed by them? Acche din aane wale hain! (Good times are here!) Can we expect more of the same now that the same people are in power at the centre? Will the Gujarat model be re-enacted on a national level and bring bure din (hard times) on a national scale, especially for the minorities and the marginalised? Will Gandhi’s “least and last Indian” find respect and security there? The Bihar elections of October–November 2015 has given a decisive answer to this kind of saffron neo-liberalism. Its people have spoken, they must now be heard by all concerned about a collective future as a decent and fair society, and not as aggressive and partisan.…