IAMC Weekly News Roundup - June 9th, 2014 - IAMC
no-image IAMC

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 9th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Muslims safeguard Hindus in Hadapsar post the Pune Muslim techie murder (Jun 9, 2014, DNA India)

Muslim community in Sayyad Nagar, Hadapsar show solidarity by patrolling the area,ensuring no Hindu household is attacked by any mob. Pandit Dolare, 60,is living in one of the bylanes of Sayyad Nagar in Hadapsar with his family. The area is thickly populated with Muslim community. However,neither he nor anyone from his family feel scared surrounded by Muslim households. According to him, both the communities have been living in peace, maintaining communal harmony and having congenial relations with each other. The recent murder of a 26-year-old hardware and networking engineering Mohsin Shaikh led to riot-like situation in Hadapsar.

However, the local Muslims living in Sayyad Nagar have vouched to protect the Hindu households residing in the area.”The day tension prevailed in the area after Mohsin was beaten to the death bymembers of Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS), we as a community decided to protect some of ourneighbours who are Hindus as there was a fear that some Muslim mob from other areas could attack the Hindu families,”said Akbar Shaikh, one of the residents of Sayyad Nagar in Hadapsar.

“There is someone who wants to disturb the communal harmony between the two communities,” he added.Another resident of the same locality Altaf Shaikh said that on the particular night when there was tension in the area, some of the Hindu families were scared. However, they gave them confidence not a single Hindu family would be hurt. “The whole night, we were awake and patrolled the area. We ensured that no outsider distrubs the harmony in our locality,” said Shaikh.Shivaji Sonawane, who works at a military workshop said that for sometime, he felt that the Hindu families, who are a minority in the area, could be in danger.

“However, our Muslim brothers enthused confidence among us and told us that no one can hurt the Hindu households. They vouched to protect us,” said Sonawane.Manohar Kanthare, who is an auto-rickshaw driver and has been living in lane number 15 of Sayyad Nagar for the last 30 years, said that till this incident, he had not witnessed any untoward incident which disturbed the harmony. “However, the ill-motives of some anti-social elements cannot befulfilled as the bonding between the communities is very strong and unbreakable,” informed Kanthare.He said that here in Sayyadnagar, both the communities celebrate Diwali, Holi, Ganeshotsav, Eid with great zeal and zest. Ahmed Nadaf, who is a tailor by profession said that they have a small organisation called Ram Rahim Sanghtana, which is very much instrumental in bringing communal harmony in both the communities.


[Back to Top]

‘Hinduize politics, militarize Hindus’ is slogan of group suspected of Pune techie’s murder (Jun 5, 2014, Scroll)

“Hinduize the politics, militarize the Hindus,” declares a logo used by the Hindu Rashtra Sena, seven of whose members have been arrested for beating a Muslim information technology worker to death in Pune on Monday night. The attack on 24-year-old Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, who was returning from prayers at a local mosque, came the day after mobs damaged approximately 190 public buses after rumours that derogatory images of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray had been posted on Facebook and WhatsApp. It isn’t clear whether the Hindu Rashtra Sena members held Shaikh directly responsible for these social media posts.

This isn’t the first time that the Hindu Rashtra Sena has been involved in violence. The police said that the outfit’s leader, Dhananjay Desai, has been named in 23 cases relating to rioting, extortion and other crimes, the Indian Express has reported. Copies of his incendiary speeches are widely available on YouTube. In the video below, Desai explains his conception of Hindutva. It is, he declares, “a movement to repel the human animals who have attacked our holy land. To penetrate the evil conspiracy. It is to destroy the green hordes, to smash the Christian conversions. To destroy the caste system.”

He adds, “Hindutva is this fight, this revolution, that the pious sons of Mother India have launched – of nationalism, of the desire to preserve Indian culture, of the rise of the saffron flag. Hindutva is the name of this struggle.” The Hindu Rashtra Sena first came to public attention in 2007, when some of its members ransacked the offices of Star News in Mumbai to protest the television channel’s coverage of the elopement of a couple in Gujarat belonging to different communities. Last May, the group demonstrated outside the home of film actor Sanjay Dutt, demanding that he be hanged for his role in the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993.

On one of its two Facebook pages, the Sena declares that Muslims and Christians cannot be truly Indian because “their Holyland is not the Hindusthan but Arabsthan and Rome”. But they could become Indian if “they abandon their faith in antinational religions like Islam and Christianity and also unless they embrace again their original religion from which they were forcibly converted to their present status”. It adds, “We Hindus should militarize and industrialize ourselves. That is the only key for survival now…In army, navy and airforce, Hindus should have majority. In fact, the people with double faiths should not at all be allowed to enter Indian Military. This is the only way to keep ourselves safe.”



[Back to Top]

First wicket has fallen, say killers of Pune Muslim youth (Jun 4, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Police are investigating the possibility of a conspiracy in the fatal attack on an IT graduate after members of the radical Hindu Rashtra Sena allegedly circulated a text message referring to fall of the “first wicket” over offensive Facebook photographs. Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, 28, was bludgeoned to death allegedly by members of the group during Monday’s violent protests against posting of morphed pictures of late Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray and Chhatrapati Shivaji on Facebook. Joint commissioner of police Sanjay Kumar said on Wednesday that immediately after the gruesome murder, an SMS was circulated, proclaiming, “Pahili wicket padli” (the first wicket has fallen). Within 24 hours of the incident, police arrested 13 persons of which seven have been charged with murder.

Shaikh, sporting grown beard and dressed in green pathani kurta, was returning home in the evening when the accused blocked his way in Hadapsar – on the outskirts of Pune – forced him off his bike and hit him on his head with hockey sticks and stones. Considering the contents of the messages exchanged by the group’s members and the weapons they were carrying, the police are now probing whether the attack was planned in advance. The killing sparked off tension in the area forcing police to clamp curfew, which lasted for 12 hours.

Shaikh’s cousin, who was accompanying him, escaped unhurt after he managed to flee from the spot while two others – Ameen Shaikh, 30, and Ijaz Yusuf Bagwan, 25 – sustained injuries. Among those arrested but not yet charged with murder include Hindu Rashtra Sena chief Dhananjay Desai. The police first recovered one of the bike used in the attack, based on which other accused were arrested. On Wednesday, a local court remanded all the accused to police custody till June 9.

While Shaikh wasn’t in anyway related to distorted pictures uploaded on social networking site, the protesters, according to police had gathered in the area following rumours that Shivaji’s statue has been desecrated and a woman of a particular community had been raped. Coming from a modest family, Desai has criminal background with cases of rioting and extortion registered against him in different police stations. The almost decade-old organisation first came into prominence when it carried out an attack on the office of a Marathi television channel in 2007, protesting the coverage of a Hindu minor girl eloping with a Muslim boy.

The images of Shivaji and Thackeray, which were taken off after the police registered complaint on Friday, had led to unrest in various parts of the state including Pune and Mumbai. Along with Hindu Rashtra Sena other outfits including Shiv Sena have been protesting demanding action against those responsible for uploading distorted images. The police have registered offence against unidentified persons for uploading the images and have arrested 130 persons in the last five days on charges of rioting and destruction of public property.



[Back to Top]

18 policemen guilty in fake encounter case (Jun 7, 2014, The Hindu))

A Special CBI court on Friday held 18 Uttarakhand Police personnel guilty for the death of 22-year-old Ranbir Singh in Dehradun in 2009 in a fake encounter. Of the 18 convicts, Special CBI Judge J.P.S. Malik acquitted Jaspal Singh Gosain of murder and kidnapping charges but held him guilty under Section 218 for framing incorrect record in connection with the fake encounter to shield the other accused. Mr. Gosain was the head operator at the city control room. He has been ordered to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and a surety of the same amount.

Those convicted for murder and criminal conspiracy are Santosh Jaiswal (Inspector), Gopal Dutt Bhatt, Rajesh Bisht (both sub-inspectors), Neeraj Kumar, Nitin Chauhan and Chandra Mohan and Ajeet Singh (constable). Others who have been convicted are, Satbir Singh, Sunil Saini, Chander Pal, Saurabh Nautiyal, Nagendra Nath, Vikas Chandra Baluni, Sanjay Rawat, Mohan Singh Rana, Inder Bhan Singh and Manoj Kumar (all constables). The court will hear arguments on quantum of sentence on Saturday.

Hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, the victim, had gone to Dehradun in search of a job with a finance company in July 2009. He was kidnapped and killed on July 3, 2009. Probe agencies said he was gunned down by Uttarakhand Police after being caught at Mohini Road where he and his friends were allegedly trying to commit some crime.



[Back to Top]

Delhi policeman found involved in Muzaffarnagar riots (Jun 7, 2014, The Hindu)

A Delhi Police constable has been allegedly found involved in a Muzaffarnagar riots case by the Special Investigation Team. The constable was found involved in an arson and loot incident at Bahawdi village under Phugana police station in the district during the 2013 communal riots, SIT sources claimed.

Seven persons have been arrested while five others including the police constable have been found involved in the incident by the SIT which is probing the riots cases, they said.

Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring districts including Shamli in western Uttar Pradesh had witnessed communal riots in September 2013 that left over 60 people dead and displaced thousands of villagers.



[Back to Top]

POTA court acquits two remaining accused in Akshardham case (Jun 6, 2014, Indian Express)

A special POTA court in Ahmedabad on Friday acquitted the remaining two accused in the Akshardham temple terror attack case, three weeks after the Supreme Court let off six accused, rejecting the prosecution’s charge of their involvement in the conspiracy. Special POTA (Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act) Court judge Geeta Gopi ordered the acquittal of Majid Patel alias Umarji and Shaukatullah Ghori holding they were not involved in the conspiracy behind the suicide attack at the temple in Gandhinagar on September 24, 2002 which had claimed more than 30 lives.

The two were charged with conspiracy by the city crime branch and had been lodged in Sabarmati jail for six years. Drawing from the Supreme Court verdict, the POTA court too did not accept the testimony of witness Ashfaq Bhavnagri. Patel, who was accused of managing funds for the attack, was held in 2008 from Bharuch district of Gujarat while co-accused Ghori was arrested from Hyderabad the same year.

Earlier, during the hearing, the prosecution referred to the Supreme Court judgement and said it had refused to rely on Bhavnagari’s statement and rejected the conspiracy charge against the accused. “The Supreme Court did not believe the contention of the state agency and declined to believe the conspiracy part,” Special Public Prosecutor H M Dhruv had told the POTA court. Dhruv said the statement of Bhavnagari, which the prosecution had relied upon to make a case against the accused, was not taken as evidence by the apex court.



[Back to Top]

Shubha Mudgal threatened in the US for anti-Modi stance (Jun 7, 2014, Times of India)

Popular singer Shubha Mudgal, who was in the US for a performance, got the shock of her life when an irate NRI verbally attacked her for her anti-Modi stance. A Mid-Day report says the singer, who is the US, was allegedly threatened by a board member of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple.

The singer was gearing up for her performance when a board member of the temple insisted to speak to her. Quoting a source, the report adds that as soon as the man met the singer, he started criticising her for her ‘anti-Modi, anti-Hindu and anti-national stand. If this was not enough, he threatened her that he would not tolerate her stance. While all this was happening, the organisers of the show stayed mum and made no move to pacify the man who was threatening the singer.

It was only when Shubha’s husband and tabla maestro Aneesh Pradhan came and other artistes protested that security was called in to ensure peace and order. The report adds that the man had lost all control. He was also protesting against her performing in the temple. It may be pointed out that Shubha, along with a host of other Bollywood stars, had signed an appeal to fellow Indians to choose secular candidates during the general elections that were held in April-May in India.



[Back to Top]

Communal clash near Gurgaon injures 15 (Jun 9, 2014, Times of India)

The death of a man in an accident triggered communal riots on Sunday in Tauru, a town just 32km from Gurgaon, leaving at least 15 people injured. In the violence that began in the morning and continued for over four hours, past noon, rioting mobs fired at each other and plundered and vandalized shops and vehicles. The violence was reined in only after the administration put the area under curfew and three companies each of the CRPF and BSF were rushed to the area. …

The area where the rioting took place comes under the Gurgaon parliamentary constituency. Local residents claimed at least three people died and several others sustained critical injuries but police insisted only the accident victim had died and the rioting did not claim any lives. Sukhbir Singh, a DSP, and several Mewat police personnel were also injured in the violence.

Eyewitnesses said a delayed reaction by the police allowed violence to flare, alleging local cops were present at the accident site when members of one community opened fire on another but they only watched, as they were helplessly outnumbered. The accident site, on Pataudi Road, is less than a kilometer from the local police station. …



[Back to Top]

Gangrape: Badaun SP suspended, 66 IAS, 42 IPS officers transferred (Jun 7, 2014, Financial Express)

Under attack over the gangrape and murder of two Dalit cousin sisters, the Akhilesh Yadav government today suspended Badaun SP, decided to take action against then District magistrate and undertook a massive rejig involving 66 IAS and 42 IPS officers. Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan, who faced a volley of questions from reporters here, said several facts have emerged in the Badaun incident and it would have been better if the administration had acted promptly.

“SP Badaun (Atul Saxena) has been suspended and decision has been taken to take action against the then district magistrate (Chandra Prakash). The new DM has taken charge only two days back,” he said. L R Kumar, SP (law and order) DGP headquarters, has been posted as new SP of Badaun district. The decision to crack the whip was taken at a meeting convened by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and attended by Principal Secretary (Home) Deepak Sighal and DGP A L Banerjee. …

The UP government had recommended a CBI inquiry into the incident. The state government carried out a major administrative reshuffle transferring 66 IAS officers, including several ditrict magistrates. Among those moved out are DMs of Agra, Bareilly, Maharajganj, Chitrakoot, Mathura, Hamirpur, Deoria, Mau, Lalitpur, Jhansi, Auraiya and Kanpur. 42 IPS officers, including IGs, DIGs and district police chiefs, were also transferred.



[Back to Top]

Two UP police constables arrested for raping minor in Sambhal (Jun 10, 2014, Deccan Herald)

Police constables Lokendra Singh and Devraj, who were accused of rape, were arrested late last night and have been suspended, Additional Superintendent of Police V K Mishra said, adding that the matter is being investigated and the girl would be recovered soon.

The two policemen have been charged with allegedly threatening and raping the girl since the past several months. The victim’s mother had complained that Devraj and Lokendra posted in Bahjoi police station area had been terrorising and raping her daughter since the past four months, ASP Mishra had said.

The mother had stated that her daughter had gone missing since Sunday, he said, adding that an FIR was lodged.



[Back to Top]

Dalit beaten till he can’t walk, no arrests made (Jun 9, 2014, Pune Mirror)

In a case of violent casteism, a 40- year-old Dalit man was brutally attacked in broad daylight on May 22, in the Yavat village on Pune- Solapur Highway, Daund taluka, around 60 km from Pune. Shockingly, though Pradip Shivram Kadam, a resident of Kadam Wasti, has lost function in both his legs in the attack and is still in hospital, Yavat police have still made no arrests in the case, over the past 17 days.

Police had earlier registered an FIR against accused Aaba Pralhad Dorge and four accomplices under Section 307 (Attempt to murder) of the IPC. According to cops, on the night of May 21, Kadam and Dorge were involved in a minor road accident on their twowheelers, which led to a heated argument. Though villagers intervened and resolved the matter, Dorge was in no mood to forget. Around 11 pm, he and his associates reached Kadam’s house and started hurling abuses.

They also threatened to torch the houses of all Dalit residents. Afraid of what would follow, residents called other community members and the threatening squad was taken away. Pradip’s cousin Ashok told Mirror, “We resolved the matter amicably and thought that was the end of it. But the next day, my brother was headed to work, and stopped at a tea stall on the way around 9.30 am. Suddenly, a group of five led by Dorge came on motorcycles and assaulted him. He ran away but they chased him and beat him with iron rods. …



[Back to Top]

Opinions and Editorials

The Ehsan Jafri Case: Modi’s Banquo Ghost – By Ravi Nair (Jun 14, 2014, EPW)

Narendra Damodardas Modi’s destination may have been very different if the Indian criminal justice system had met the standards of more robust democratic legal systems that make strict adherence to due process and timely delivery of justice an article of faith and everyday practice.

Nothing exemplifies this more than the handling of the case of the murder of Ehsan Jafri, former Member of Parliament (MP) who was hacked to death alongwith many others in the Gulberg society in the Chamanpura suburb of Ahmedabad. The case is brilliantly etched out in the report by the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School, When Justice Becomes the Victim – The Quest for Justice After the 2002 Violence in Gujarat (2014).

The report should not be read as one more on the killings in Gujarat, rather it should be read as an indictment of the Indian lower judiciary (with honourable exceptions) at the point that it comes into contact with the citizen, most often, in the lower courts. The issue of shoddy or motivated police investigations, the lack of independence or the very competency of the prosecutors in many cases, the issue of official immunity, the nefarious role of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) all come into play. The failure to prosecute IB officials, the issue of reparation, witness protection and the fate of the Communal Violence Bill, all tell their own tale.

Most media stories on the Stanford report dwell on only one of its findings related to the abysmally low conviction rate in the riot cases of Gujarat 2002 compared to the national rate of convictions in riot related cases. In the Jafri case it is not the accused that are on trial but the Indian criminal justice system. The relevant portions of the Stanford report need full reiteration. …



[Back to Top]

Irony And Steel – By Namrata Joshi (Jun 16, 2014, Outlook)

There’s a chilling scene in Canadian filmmaker Nisha Pahuja’s documentary The World Before Her. Prachi Trivedi, a brawny, bushy-browed counseller with Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), talks about being beaten with a hot iron rod by her father. There is a fiery rebellion in her eyes, yet, eerily, a gratefulness. “Knowing I’m a girl child, he let me live,” she says. “In a traditional family, people don’t let a girl child live….” Juxtaposed against her story is that of Pooja Chopra, winner of the 2009 Miss India pageant. Pooja’s mother left her father when he said he didn’t want another daughter. Pahuja’s film alternates between polar opposites: the ‘aspirational’ world of beauty pagea¬nts and that of the Durga Vahini. Two dubious means of empowering women.

The 2012 documentary, finally releasing in India this week, focuses on two young women taking part in two very different training camps—Prachi at the Durga Vahini’s camp, and Jaipur girl Ruhi Singh in a run-up to the Miss India contest. What makes the film arresting is the rare peep it offers into the Durga Vahini, established in 1991 by Sadhvi Rithambhara. It’s the first time a Durga Vahini camp has been filmed, and it took Pahuja close to two years to convince the VHP. Says Pahuja, “On the first day, someone objected, but relented with restrictions. We weren’t allowed to film certain sessions.”

This rare footage is the soul of the film. Teenaged girls being made “spi¬ritually and physically saksham (capable)” to fight threats to their culture; learning martial arts and shooting to safeguard ‘Hindu values’—while being told of the essential “weakness” of women. Some complex characters open up fascinatingly. For example, Prachi doesn’t want to marry, but her father believes she must for religious reasons. The way she argues with him shows even the most indoctrinated are capable of raising questions and thinking through issues. Prachi now lives away from her family and works in a legal firm but still believes in the Durga Vahini’s tenets. Contrasts like this make Pahuja’s film fascinating. “But it’s not contradictory for Prachi,” says Pahuja. “The dualities coexist in her. She’s comfortable with them.” …



[Back to Top]

How is the ‘Hindu perspective’ of history different from the Indian one? – By Parth MN (Jun 6, 2014, DNA India)

In 1991, the BJP, for the first time, assumed power in Uttar Pradesh after the polarising Rath Yatra and the Babri Masjid campaign. The education ministry was given to Rajnath Singh and he decided to rewrite history texts and incorporated Vedic mathematics into the syllabus. …

Now we are in 2014. 80-year-old Joshi has been sidelined. However, new HRD minister Smiri Irani, who is merely 38 years old, seems to be following in Joshi’s footsteps. As HRD minister, she has announced plans to give a “Hindu perspective” to school curriculum. It is reported she is “keen” to include “ancient Hindu texts” in the syllabus for classes 8-10. According to media reports, officials have been told to build up a syllabus which summarises the glories of Hindu “golden age”.

This merely seems like an attempt to carry forward Joshi’s unfinished business. When I was in school, eight years ago, we studied how Maratha king Shivaji took on the Mughals. However, the fundamental problem with it was that the conflict was, directly or indirectly, insinuated as one between Hindus and Muslims, not as a battle between two kingdoms. Very few knew that there were 35% Muslims in Shivaji’s army. In a fragile and influential age, these things do leave a stamp. The seeds of anti-Muslim sentiment, if not sown, were definitely nurtured amongst my classmates.

Now, with directly glorifying and highlighting Hinduism, there is a chance of concealing a few dark spots in the history of Hinduism. Presentation of partial truths and distortion of history cannot be ruled out, and thereby, we risk our students growing up like Dhananjay Desai, the chief of the Hindu Rashtra Sena.

There is no problem exposing students to world views that may widen their horizons, but presenting a counter view is equally important. However, emphasis on one particular religion is clearly a sign of a majoritarian government. In all his speeches, Narendra Modi harped upon development and inclusiveness. There were talks of Modi neglecting RSS pressure and moving away from the idea of Hindutva. But the trend suggests Nagpur might be the BJP’s 10 Janpath. This move has RSS, not Modi, written all over it. If at all there ever was a difference between the two.…



[Back to Top]

Centre must make sure Pune murderers pay the price – Editorial (Jun 5, 2014, Hindustan Times)

It could not get more frightening or uglier. A Facebook post could cost the life of an innocent person in as cosmopolitan a place as Pune. A young Muslim techie was attacked and beaten to death after someone else put up an FB post allegedly derogatory to the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and the Maratha warrior king Shivaji. Mohsin Mohammed Sadique Shaikh had nothing to do with this, yet the goons from a Hindu extremist outfit thought nothing of murdering him. Not content with this appalling violence, the alleged killers then exchanged sickening messages saying “Pahili wicket padli” (the first wicket has fallen).

This suggests that these criminals are under the impression that they are in some sort of position of power and can do pretty much what they like to the minorities. The police have arrested a number of persons in connection with the murder and seven have been charged. But the crux of the matter is that the goons, allegedly from the Hindu Rashtra Sena, acted with no fear of the law. If they had any misplaced sense of confidence that they could act like this since a Hindu nationalist party was in power at the Centre in alliance with the Shiv Sena, they must be disabused of this notion immediately.

The new government has declared that it would treat everyone equitably. This then calls for the strongest condemnation of this crime from the highest quarter. Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who made a special effort to reach out to the Muslims during the election campaign, must put pressure on the state administration to make sure that justice is done.

And most definitely, the chief of the Hindu Rashtra Sena, a man who has many criminal charges against him and who has also been arrested, must be held accountable for the excesses of his men. If the State does not step in and make it clear that it absolutely does not condone such violence in the name of misplaced sentiment, whether religious or political, other miscreants may follow suit. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray should make it clear that no one is a self-styled defender of his father’s name and roundly denounce such acts.

The new government has enough on its plate without having to deal with such acts of intolerance. Narendra Modi’s campaign has been all about development and inclusiveness. Communalism has no place in today’s India and it must be nipped in the bud when it raises its head. The certainty and severity of punishment will dampen the enthusiasm of such goons who think that they are the self-appointed custodians of social propriety.



[Back to Top]

No tolerance for hate crimes – Editorial (Jun 7, 2014, The Hindu)

Nothing puts to test the strength of India’s secular, social fabric as a hate crime does. The horrific murder of Mohsin Shaikh, an IT professional in Pune, by a group of youngsters owing allegiance to the Hindu Rashtra Sena, is a reminder of how a post-election feeling of triumphalism can feed a climate of lawlessness among the fanatic fringe elements of Hindutva groups. Shaikh gave no cause for provocation, but was targeted merely because he was a Muslim. The attack followed rumours that a Shivaji statue was stoned, and came in the context of rising communal tensions after the circulation in the social media of morphed pictures of Shivaji, and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

Clearly, the Hindutva elements were looking for a prey, and Shaikh happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hate crimes have a way of spreading and multiplying in the absence of speedy intervention by the state. The onus is therefore on those in power to act swiftly against such attacks and erase the impression that those involved in the crimes would be protected from the legal consequences of their actions. But shockingly, sections of the Bharatiya Janata Party have sought to rationalise the attack. The BJP Member of Parliament from Pune, Anil Shirole, spoke of how “some amount of repercussions” after the posts on social media was “natural”. Instead of distancing the party and the government from such attacks, Mr. Shirole seems to have done just the opposite.

The BJP as the ruling party must send out a clear message that law and order is its top priority and that it is opposed to any kind of criminal behaviour in the name of religion. Otherwise, the government it heads will have difficulty instilling confidence in the people, and religious minorities will remain insecure. Worse, it could encourage other fringe outfits operating on the lines of the Hindu Rashtra Sena to continue to target minorities as part of a larger plan of religious polarisation and Hindu consolidation. Earlier governments led by the BJP had kept the most contentious and divisive issues on the backburner as the party needed the support of allied secular parties.

The party will now have to demonstrate its ability to transform itself into a responsible party of governance, from the ranks of a belligerent opposition. There can be no room for triumphalism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first few days in government, has already shown he has the ability to rise above his own past record. If he wants to erase the shadow of the 2002 events, his government will have to be firm in its actions against hate crimes.



[Back to Top]

Rape: Crime is not afraid of punishment – Editorial (Jun 6, 2014, Asian Age)

The alarming rise in the incidence of brutal attacks on women involving rape as well as murder is causing a global outrage. The scenario is hardly complimentary to a country that boasts of an ancient civilisation with a history of a healthy respect for women and an understanding of the role of sex in relationships between the sexes. While the Army is out fighting militants who gunned down a woman in Meghalaya for resisting their attempts to assault her, a horrendous sequence of events in Uttar Pradesh over the last week has shaken the world.

The gang rape and murder of two teenage cousins who were left hanging from a tree in UP and the police investigation into the attempted rape of a woman judge in Aligarh are symptomatic of how everyday life has deteriorated in the country’s most populous state. Beyond the brutal incidents that are shaking the very foundations of civilised society is the cynical official attitude of the father and son who lead the ruling Samajwadi Party.

The veteran politician Mulayam Singh Yadav, who once nursed ambitions of becoming Prime Minister, made a way too flippant remark about “boys will be boys”, which United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon picked up to convey the organisation’s grave concerns. The men in power should know well that an atavistic, chauvinistic and feudal outlook is not going to help shape the rigorous response to the problem.

The impact on tourism is bound to be deleterious, particularly after the media has taken up the issue to be highlighted as our treatment of women challenges the most basic tenets of life and impinges on the psyche of close to half the population, which must be left worrying every day about personal safety. By pointing to how a Google search would bring up incidents like those in UP from around the country, the chief minister of the state is playing the classic ostrich in the sand. The problem is so serious that facetious deflection or dismissal serves no purpose.

The December 2012 gang rape changed India forever. The subsequent toughening of the laws to impose the death penalty for repeat offenders was meant to signal a clear intent on the part of society and official India. Capital punishment has already been pronounced in cases of gang rape in Mumbai. It might appear that the laws are still not deterrent enough, but what we would advocate is persistent application of stringent laws to bring offenders to book. There is no other way but to arm the judiciary with stringent laws and empower the police to crack down on offenders in exemplary fashion to leave a message to intending rapists.



[Back to Top]