IAMC Weekly News Roundup - June 27th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 27th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Top activists fighting 2002 Gujarat riots cases fear “extra-legal” move by Modi govt ahead of Supreme Court hearing (Jun 23, 2016, Counterview)

Top human rights activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, whose NGO Sabrang Trust’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license was cancelled on June 16, apprehend that the powerful Modi government might use “extra-legal means” to suppress their activities.

Fighting communal riots cases ever since 2002, they have said in an interview that this became clear after the Supreme Court stayed their arrest on February 12, 2015 following the Gujarat High Court refusing to grant them anticipatory bail.

In their comprehensive interview, the husband-and-wife duo say, while “investigations” in their activities “have long been concluded”, and “not much has been found”, a process was “initiated” by the Gujarat police, with the active support from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) post-March 2015, to cancel the Sabrang trust’s license.…



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Special Court questions NIA clean-chit to Sadhvi Pragya, rejects her bail application (Jun 28, 2016, Indian Express)

Coming down heavily on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for not investigating the role of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case and recording again the statements of witnesses recorded by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), a special court Tuesday observed there were reasonable grounds to believe that the charges against her were prima facie true and rejected her bail plea.

In its chargesheet, the NIA had said there was no case made out against Sadhvi Pragya. Seven people were killed in the blast at Malegaon on September 29, 2008. Sadhvi Pragya was charged in 2009 by the ATS which said it was her motorcycle that was used to plant the bomb. On Tuesday, Special Judge S D Tekale said Sadhvi Pragya “cannot avoid her connection with the motorcycle” registered in her name and used in the blast.

The NIA and the ATS both agreed that the LML Freedom motorcycle used in the blast was registered in her name.… According to the order, a witness statement shows that Sadhvi Pragya knew of Kalsangra’s role in the blast. “…applicant made inquiry with Ramji as to how there were less casualties though her vehicle was used for causing blast and then Ramji said the reason.” This, the judge said, was evidence of Thakur’s “complicity” with Kalsangra in executing the blast.…



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SP-backed team says even 160 Muslim families left Kairana (Jun 24, 2016, Indian Express)

A delegation of five sants sent to Kairana by the ruling Samajwadi Party to ascertain facts behind the BJP’s allegation of Hindu “exodus” on Thursday submitted its report to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and claimed that 160 Muslim families too had left the area over the last 10 years.…

“We were asked to look into the allegations of exodus and some of the results have been surprising. First of all, while we found that large number of people on the list actually are living there, neighbours and relatives of those migrated informed that they left for work or education…

Sources added that the report has also recommended action against Hassan, besides indicting BJP MP Hukum Singh, MLA Sangeet Singh Som, Sadhvi Prachi. It has also called for imposition of NSA against all those giving hate speeches.…



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Prof who criticised Modi, Irani jailed over Lord Rama comments (Jun 21, 2016, Hindustan Times)

A journalism professor accused of making insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union minister Smriti Irani has been jailed for insulting Lord Rama.

Professor BP Mahesh Guru, who teaches at the Mysore University, was arrested on June 17 when he appeared before a Mysore court in connection with a case registered against him for allegedly insulting the Hindu god at a conference in January 2015.

Guru’s application for bail was rejected on Monday on the ground that he was facing another case filed by the Akhila Karnataka Dr Ambedkar Prachara Samiti over his comments against Modi and Irani, the human resource development minister minister.…



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RSS, VHP killing democracy: Tripura CM (Jun 26, 2016, Times of India)

Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar on Saturday alleged that a section of over-enthusiastic nationalists has been trying to weaken the vibrant democracy as a sense of intolerance prevails in the country.

Speaking at a function at Rabindra Satabarshiki Bhawan here, he alleged that the present central government has failed to establish democracy in the country and added that RSS and VHP are ‘divisive forces’, virtually killing democracy in the name of making India a Hindu state.

Saying there has been no instance of intolerance in the Left Front-ruled state, Sarkar slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his attempt to gain membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).



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Karnataka RTI activist’s murder: NaMo Brigade founder named main accused (Jun 25, 2016, Indian Express)

The founder of NaMo Brigade, a group created to mobilise support for Narendra Modi ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, has been named prime accused in RTI activist Vinayak Baliga’s murder. Naresh Shenoy (39), who is absconding, was named accused number one in the chargesheet filed by police before the court of a Judicial Magistrate, First Class, in Mangaluru Thursday.

An employee of Shenoy, Shrikanth Moolya (40), who allegedly acted as intermediary in hiring killers and has been absconding since the murder, is among six others named.

The others are alleged contract killers Nishith Devadiga and Vinith Poojary, Shivaprasad, who was allegedly involved in hiring the killers and Shailesh and Manjunatha Shenoy, who allegedly helped the killers.



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Communal tension in Varanasi villages as youth lynched over burial dispute (Jun 22, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Communal tension prevailed in the Gaharpur and Haribhanpur villages of Varanasi district on Wednesday, after a Muslim mourner was allegedly lynched in a fallout over a burial dispute. The killing of the 22-year-old youth led to stone pelting by two groups, in which six people were injured and the windscreens of several vehicles smashed.

Trouble began after a former village head Vijay Singh and his supporters objected to a grave being dug for the burial of a woman named Nasirun. Vijay Singh claimed ownership of the graveyard land.…

Meanwhile, one Kaju (22) alias Asraf, a mourner and resident of Haribhanpur, was beaten to death on his way to the local market from the graveyard. As news of his death spread, the mourners put up a road block with two bodies, that of Kaju and Nasirun.…



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Punjab town tense after torn pages of Quran found, over 250 booked (Jun 26, 2016, Indian Express)

A Punjab Assembly legislator’s property was damaged by a mob on Saturday morning in Ludhiana’s Malerkotla after a group, which wanted to complain about someone “tearing” the pages of the Quran, was allegedly turned away from meeting her.

Tension started at 10 pm Friday when pages of the Quran were found near Jarg Chowk in Malerkotla. Around 1 am, a group of people went to meet MLA Farzana Nissara Khatoon, who stays on Ludhiana-Malerkotla road, but were allegedly turned away.

According to area DSP Randhir Singh, the MLA’s security fired in self-defence against the 300-strong crowd that had assembled at the gates. The mob then started to attack the security and police personnel. During the incident, several people managed to climb the wall of the compound and torch the security guards’ cabin. They damaged vehicles of the MLA and police and also smashed several tables and chairs. Police added that a private bus was torched by protesters.…



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BJP may rake up AMU’s minority status issue ahead of UP polls (Jun 21, 2016, Times of India)

The BJP is planning to rake up a fresh round of controversy around the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) which would bring up the minority issue again in the state, in the run up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections slated for early next year.

The party is pegging the issue to a demand for proper reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs in AMU, just as any other central university, arguing that it has not provided for a proper quota for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward castes (SCs, STs and OBCs).

With the BJP trying hard to woo dalits and backwards in the state for electoral gains, it is not out of sync for the party to be demanding the reservation to be provided for, but the fact that attacking AMU is also seen as hitting at an institution, known for its minority identity even as the government has argued that it technically wears a central university status and not a minority institution status, serves the RSS-BJP agenda of appealing to its core Hindu voters.…



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Modi adopted use and abandon policy towards Gujarat’s “lower caste” encounter cops: ‘Gujarat Files’ sting (Jun 26, 2016, Counterview)

Gujarat’s top “encounter” cops never trusted their political leadership, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his chief minister in the state, even though they had to “fall in line” of the system, and carried out the “fake encounters”, allegedly to “save the country”.

This is one of the several admissions made by one of the top “encounter” cops, who happens to be a Dalit, in the best-seller book “Gujarat Files” by journalist Rana Ayyub, launched on Sunday evening in Ahmedabad at Conflictorium, a unique museum of conflict resolution in the old city area.

Speaking in the presence of well-known human rights lawyer late Mukul Sinha’s wife Nirjhari Sinha, who launched the book, and Janvikas chairperson Gagan Sethi, the main brain behind Conflictorium, Ayyub said, she has been “approached” to file a petition in court based on the “evidence” she has gathered in the book.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Conspiracy, under the carpet – By Teesta Setalvad (Jun 27, 2016, Indian Express)

…It has never been disputed, either in the popular narrative nor in the voluminous legal proceedings over close to 15 years now, that large mobs were allowed to gather from the early hours of February 28, 2002, the day after the mass arson at Godhra in several parts of Ahmedabad, and thereafter, all over Gujarat.…

Evidence, all from the depositions and documents placed before the trial court, however, shows that a mob armed with stones, guptis (swords), even burning rags had started its antics in the Meghaninagar area where Gulberg Society lies.…There is more.… There are also the phone call records, placed before the court that have assumed the status of a “hot potato” that few want to touch or peel. They point to a wider knowledge of the massacres executed in broad daylight.…

Herein lies the real story behind the disappointing verdict. The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) assigned with both investigating and prosecuting these trials chose not to press hard enough to establish the charge of criminal conspiracy in the Gulberg trial, never mind the availability of sustainable evidence. Their eye is trained on the Zakia Jafri case — now pending arguments in the Gujarat High Court; a case that makes out arguments of a statewide criminal conspiracy behind the happenings of 2002.…



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The shadowy group accused of planning the 2008 Malegaon blasts has deep roots in the Sangh – By Dhirendra K Jha (Jun 30, 2016, Scroll.in)

Ever since the Malegaon blast of 2008, investigative agencies have been furiously working to learn more about the origin of the extremist Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat, whose members are accused of being behind this act of terror. But despite the investigations, there’s still little we know about this shadowy organisation.…

Though Pragya Singh Thakur, a leader of the RSS’ student wing, was not directly associated with the Abhinav Bharat, she is alleged to have worked in tandem with the members of this organisation to cause the Malegaon blast in 2008.…Purohit, who is most likely the main architect of Abhinav Bharat, was in constant touch with Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia before the blast.… Purohit is believed to have had great expectations from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which he considered a recruitment ground for the Abhinav Bharat.…

Clearly, the overlaps between these various Hindutva groups are striking, and are not restricted to sharing a common ideology alone. If anything, the complexities of the disjointed existence of the RSS and Abhinav Bharat confirm the hydra-like structure of Hindutva politics.



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How Modi turned the interview with Arnab Goswami to his advantage – By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay (Jun 27, 2016, Dailyo.in)

…Narendra Modi’s interview with Arnab Goswami on Times Now was not one to grill the prime minister but provide an opportunity to present his case. There were only rare supplementary queries none of which, however, were on crucial issues which needed to be probed – for instance, the action that his party was contemplating against motormouths in the run-up to the polls in Uttar Pradesh?

This was for all purposes, a Doordarshan-style interview but with better production values. And of course a top class anchor. Even sympathetic handling has to be executed with finesse to ensure it does not appear like a ham-handed DAVP PR exercise.…

Why has the PM chosen this moment for the interview though his second anniversary a month ago may have been more apt an occasion? It’s not that he didn’t have time – after all he spoke to the ‘Wall Street Journal’.…



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How RSS is making Modi’s chosen ministers play fetch – By Swati Chaturvedi (Jun 21, 2016, Dailyo.in)

Mahesh Sharma is a billionaire. He heads a chain of hospitals. While his son is studying in an Ivy League college, he wants children of India to study in a shakha. He also happens to be the minister for culture. A strange choice, if you ask me, if you consider the views he represents. He has a mindset that disgraced APJ Abdul Kalam, by adding the caveat – “despite being a Muslim” – while listing the former president’s achievements, upon being rewarded with Kalam’s bungalow by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This is the Sangh Parivar’s “ecosystem”. The mission is to stealthily or overtly take over the country’s leading institutions and autonomous bodies. For instance to have someone like Ram Bahadur Rai head the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA). Rai, who was appointed to this position by Sharma, recently offered a gem when he said, “Ambedkar had nothing to do with the Constitution.”…

The new, “Modi-fied” BJP is falling at RSS’ feet, something that the earlier BJP would not have even considered. Atal Behari Vajpayee was known to keep the RSS at more than an arm’s length and was viscerally disliked by the Sangh for it.… The RSS has always had a long-term plan. Today it is in a position to influence the highest decision-making in the country.…



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Save the country from the lies of YOGA – By Mudra Rakshasa (Jun 24, 2016, Muslim Mirror)

Yoga as an approach towards health improvement is a more than two millennium old practice in India. However historically it was never practised by the common man because the common man, one who indulged in physical labour and physical hard work was essentially the untouchable, kept deprived of all resources of the society.…

Can the Yogis of India claiming to cure cancer through yoga, tell the nation how many players and athletes through yoga have been made capable (health wise) of succeeding in Olympics like the Gold medallist athletes of economically backward Ethopia, who are not even remotely concerned with the practice of Yoga? Why couldn’t Baba Ramdev who earned Crores in the name of imparting Yoga training even for running and swimming competitions make anyone fit enough to win?…

This discussion on yoga is important here because even the big wigs of politics are unaware of the reality of this meaningless exercise meant to please the upper classes.… All of it has not been analysed from a critical point of view. At a time Brinda Karat had raised a bitter debate over the transparency of Ramdev’s business but even then she had not raised any questions on yoga. Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijay Singh has initiated a challenge to this business.…



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India Today sting on UP politicians shows how riots are bought – By Sharat Pradhan (Jun 28, 2016, Dailyo.in)

No sooner than India Today TV ran its sting operation exposing how some politicians were ready to engineer communal violence for a price, you could see spokespersons of different political parties expressing “shock”.…

Interestingly, there are many like me who were not the least shocked to find an elected MLA offering to ignite communal violence for anything above Rs 5 lakh. After all, most politicians live and die for money; ideology, passion or public good being only jargons for public consumption. Why then should anyone be shocked to witness the India Today expose?

Apparently, what must have irked the political leaders was that the cat was out of the bag. The multiple faces that many political leaders are capable of putting up stood exposed. It showed that bribery, corruption, wheeling-dealing, lobbying and nepotism were only the tip of the iceberg. What the sting had brought in the public domain was the level to which some politicians could stoop.…



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