IAMC Weekly News Roundup - March 14th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 14th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Teen Muslim girl gets bravery award for saving Hindu classmate from kidnappers (Mar 8, 2016, Times of India)

Amidst the communally surcharged atmosphere in Agra following, the killing of VHP leader Arun Mahor, this is a story that both communities need to take lessons from and then celebrate it. 15-year-old Nazia was on Tuesday awarded the Rani Laxmibai bravery award by chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, for saving a 6-year-old Hindu girl from kidnappers in August last.

It was the afternoon on August 7, when Nazia, a student of Saghir Fatima Mohammadia Girls Inter College, was returning home when she heard cries for help from a young girl, who was being forcibly pulled on a motorcycle by two youths. Unmindful of her own safety, Nazia rushed to the girl’s help and held her hand and managed to pull her away from the kidnappers, who then fled the spot.

It was only after she had rescued the girl, Dimpy, Nazia learnt that she was her junior from school. Today, when tension prevails between the two communities, Dimpy’s parents treat Nazia as their own daughter and are indebted to her for saving their child from the clutches of the kidnappers.…


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RTI Response By Ayush Ministry Says It Is Against Government Policy To Hire Muslims: Report (Mar 11, 2016, Huffington Post)

In a startling response to a Right to Information query, the AYUSH Ministry has said that it did not hire Muslims for short-term positions as trainers for World Yoga Day as it was against government policy. AYUSH stands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, and is the Ministry that promotes these branches of traditional medicine. The AYUSH Ministry, under Sripad Naik, organized the first World Yoga Day on October 15, last year.

The RTI query filed by journalist Pushp Sharma sought to know how many Muslim candidates had applied and had been hired for short-term assignments during World Yoga Day. In its response, the Ministry said that none of the 3,841 Muslim candidates, who had applied for the position of Yoga trainer or teacher till October 2015, were hired by the AYUSH Ministry, Milli Gazette reported.

It also revealed that none of the 711 Muslim yoga trainers, who had applied for the foreign assignment during the World Yoga Day, were hired. While no Muslims were even called for an interview, the Ministry selected 26 Hindu trainers. “As per government policy – No Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad,” the RTI response said.…



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5 crore becomes 5 per cent the day after Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says he won’t pay NGT fine (Mar 12, 2016, Indian Express)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) paved the way for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) to go ahead with its World Culture Festival, barely hours before the three-day event was to start Friday, by allowing the organisers to deposit – for now – just five per cent of the penalty it had imposed on them.

With Sri Sri saying that he would go to jail but “not pay the fine” of Rs 5 crore as AOL had done nothing wrong, the tribunal clarified that the amount was to be considered as “environmental compensation” and not as a “penalty on non-compliance”.

On Wednesday, the NGT had said that the organisers would be levied an interim penalty of Rs 5 crore as compensation for environmental damage the event may cause to the venue on the Yamuna floodplains. On Friday, the tribunal ruled that AOL needed to deposit only Rs 25 lakh now, while granting it three weeks to pay the entire amount. It had earlier said that if the full amount was not paid prior to the event, “law would take its course”.…



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Poet branded ‘anti-national’ by Zee News contemplates legal action against the channel (Mar 12, 2016, Scroll.in)

Even after intense criticism for airing doctored videos relating to the controversy at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Zee News hasn’t let up. Earlier this week, it zeroed in on its latest “anti-national”, Guahar Raza a scientist at the government-funded Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Raza, who is also poet and filmmaker, narrated an Urdu poem about intolerance and hate at a poetry symposium in Delhi last weekend. The event was attended by lyricist Javed Akhtar, among others. The context of the poem was the freedom of speech and sedition cases against some students at JNU. Ironically, the poem even called out the hysteria of branding people anti-national. But on Thursday, a Zee News show hosted by Sudhir Chaudhary described Raza as a member of “Afzal-lover gang”, a reference to Afzal Guru, the convict hanged for his role in the 2001 Parliament attacks.…

Raza said that he is contemplating legal action against Zee News. As a response to this show, nearly 250 academics, journalists, film-makers, theatre artistes and activists have jointly issued a statement calling for action against Zee News for its hysterical portrayal of both JNU professor Nivedita Menon and now Gauhar Raza.… Signed by Naseeruddin Shah, Sharmila Tagore and Shubha Mudgal amongst others, the petition calls upon the Press Council of India and the Broadcast Association “to take note of this criminality and initiate necessary action against the channel”.



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Khalid Azmi, brother of slain advocate Shahid Azmi, threatened of being killed (Mar 9, 2016, Indian Express)

Khalid Azmi, the brother of slain advocate Shahid Azmi, was threatened of being killed like his brother late on Tuesday night just outside the Kurla police station. Shahid, known for defending those accused in terror cases, was shot dead outside his office in Kurla in February 2010.

According to Khalid, he was called to the Kurla police station on Tuesday night by an acquaintance to the Azmis to opine regarding charges being framed against the acquaintance in a road accident case that took place earlier on Tuesday night.

“Before entering the police station at 10.45 pm, there was no one waiting outside the police premises. However, when I walked out with my junior, Mohammed Ahmed, three middle aged men approached me and threatened to kill like how my brother was killed and they ran away towards the station,” Khalid said. “Jiss tarah tere bhai ko mara tha aur woh kuch nahi kar saka ussi tarah tere ko bhi marenge,” Khalid claims the men said.…



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Agra hate speech: Non-bailable warrants against VHP, BJP leaders (Mar 13, 2016, Indian Express)

The Agra police have obtained non-bailable warrants (NBWs) against VHP leader Ashok Lavaniya, BJP leader Kundanika Sharma and ABVP activist Shashank Chaudhary who were booked on charges of giving objectionable and provocative speeches during condolence meeting of VHP district vice-president Arun Mahaur, who was murdered on February 25.

In the meeting held on February 28, Lavaniya, who is the VHP’s Agra district general secretary, and Sharma, the local BJP corporator and party’s Braj region vice-president, among others, had allegedly equated Muslims to “demons” and “descendants of Ravana”, and warned the community of a “final battle”.…

The SHO added that they have video footage of the speeches as an evidence against the accused. When contacted, Sharma said, “Police never visited my residence ever since the FIR has been lodged. I had even sent SMSes to the district magistrate and the SSP to tell me the place where I could come and surrender myself. But, none replied.” When asked, the SHO did not comment on Kundanika’s claim.…



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‘Old Taliban video uploaded by Som fanned UP violence’ (Mar 8, 2016, Times of India)

Justice Vishnu Sahai commission report on 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots says the mischievous circulation on social media of an old video clip of a Taliban controlled area in Pakistan – which falsely claimed that the two youths killed in the video were Hindus – was ‘one of the potent reasons’ for the violence.

Based on submissions by police officials, Justice Sahai holds BJP MLA Sangeet Som and 229 others responsible for uploading and sharing this video. But he recommends no action as an FIR had already been lodged against them. Besides, it also says that until the case is disposed, the ‘averment’ in the FIR will ‘only remain an allegation’.

The video showed two youths being hacked in an area controlled by the Taliban in Pakistan. But those circulating it claimed it was shot in Kawal in the last week of August 2013, when two Hindu boys, Sachin and Gaurav, were being killed.…



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Ishrat Jahan case: SC dismisses plea for quashing criminal case against policemen for ‘fake encounter’ (Mar 11, 2016, IB Times)

The Supreme Court dismissed Friday a plea that sought to squash a criminal case against policemen involved in the Ishrat Jahan “fake” encounter case, based on the statement of David Headley, a Pakistani-American involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. He had deposed before a Mumbai court saying Jahan was a suicide bomber working for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.…

According to the Hindu, the petition by Sharma also asked the Supreme Court to start “suo motu perjury/contempt of court proceeding against the then (Union) home minister and CBI director for concealing facts before the Supreme Court and Gujarat High Court for filing a false affidavit on the facts about Ishrat Jahan.” It also said Article 21 of the Constitution does not extend to “terrorists”.

The 2004 encounter made headlines recently and the chapter was reopened as political parties debated the legitimacy of the encounter based on Jahan’s status as a civilian or terrorist. Former home secretary GK Pillai said an affidavit submitted in the Gujarat High Court in 2009 about the four killed was altered, to which then home minister P Chidambaram said it was corrected.



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Let’s get a few things straight about the Vijay Mallya saga (Mar 13, 2016, Scroll.in)

…The popular narrative is that he milked the banks for Rs 9,000 crore to support his hedonistic lifestyle in India and abroad, and took off when the debt burden became excessive or no more money was forthcoming to evergreen his dues. But we seem to forget that he enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle and had much money to spread around even before Kingfisher Airlines.

Much before his airline came into being, he reportedly lavished money on the Janata Dals of Ramakrishna Hegde and HD Deve Gowda, the Bharatiya Janata Party of Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani. The allegations of large amounts of money being paid to the legislators of the BJP and the Deve Gowda rump of the Janata Dal have long done the rounds for his two Rajya Sabha terms. The Congress may not have allotted him votes, surplus or otherwise, but it does not mean that the Congress and other parties did not benefit from Mallya. The Rs 9,000 crore Mallya is now found owing to the public sector banks and others is the money he lost on Kingfisher Airlines.

I understand the loan money is around Rs 4,000 crore and the rest is interest and the interest on interest. The banks just kept lending him money to evergreen its loans. This was not possible without political and bureaucratic support. Even if one little joint secretary or one little Member of Parliament or one little bank manager red-flagged the growing stain of red on Kingfisher Airlines’ debts, the bleeding would have been stopped.…



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Christians Worshipping in India Attacked, Beaten and Stripped by Hindu Radicals (Mar 10, 2016, Gospel Herald)

About 60 Christians praying and worshipping at a Pentecostal church in India’s Chhattisgarh state were violently attacked by Hindu radicals on Sunday. According to reports, aside from destroying properties of the church, the female members of the congregation were also stripped naked.

The International Christian Concern first learned about the incident. According to the organization, the attack was carried out by around 25 individuals. They arrived on motorcycles and began beating the Christians as soon as they entered the church. The mob also destroyed the church’s chairs, instruments and Bibles. Many of the members of the church were beaten while the women were stripped.

According to Arun Pannalal, the head of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, the attackers justified their actions by blaming the church for carrying out forced conversions on Hindus. “They began alleging that people were being converted,” Pannalal told the press according to CBN. “They fled before police could reach the spot. This is the sixth attack on churchgoers in Chhattisgarah in the past six weeks.”…



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Witnesses killings carried out on ‘behalf of Asaram’, reveals shooter (Mar 16, 2016, Indian Express)

The alleged shooter, who is accused of killing three witnesses and attempting to kill four others in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, has reportedly told the Ahmedabad Police that the killings were carried out “on behalf of Asaram”.

Karthik Haldar, who was picked up from Chhattisgarh, has allegedly named Asaram in his statement before the police, suggesting he was a conspirator in all the murders. On Tuesday, Haldar was produced before a metropolitan court that sent him in police custody for four days.

A police officer, who interrogated him, said, “A few months back Karthik and others (suspects who are yet to be arrested) had gone to meet Asaram in Jodhpur jail. This is on record since they met him by registering names with their identity cards. Therefore, we can’t rule out the possibility that Asaram knew about the killings.”…



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Opinions and Editorials

Rohith Vemula’s Nationalism Vs Arun Jaitley’s Nationalism – By Kancha Ilaiah (Mar 11, 2016, The Citizen)

Ever since Rohith Vemula was driven to death in the Hyderabad Central University and Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested under the colonial Act of Sedition, in Jawaharlal Nehru University an intense debate on nationalism has started.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who studied in a Christian college – St.Stephen’s, characterized Rohith as extremist and anti-national. He also said that his Government won a victory by sending Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the students union of the Jawaharlal Nehru university, to jail.

Earlier minister Bandaru Dattatreya described the HCU as a den of extremists, and anti-nationals. Smriti Irani, the HRD minister, gave several statements characterizing Rohith and Kanhaiya as anti-nationals, as part of the controversial discourse on nationalism.…



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Yoga as a Prelude to Politicisation of the Military – By Ali Ahmed (Mar 12, 2016, EPW)

In January 2016, 250 army men of the Western Command attended the Yoga Teacher’s Training Course organised by Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar. They are the first lot of 1,000 yoga trainers who are then to return to barracks and conduct yoga for troops (Times of India 2016). That the media finds this association between the army and Ramdev’s outfit newsworthy suggests the link needs further query.…

The problem is not so much yoga as much as the army’s institutional association with Ramdev’s organisation. Ramdev is controversial, with his business deals having come in for investigative scrutiny. The premises in Haridwar where the army men spent a couple of weeks had hosted a convention for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 2014 (Trivedi 2014). Ramdev is a known cheerleader for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.…

A right-wing associated organisation is not about to pass up an opportunity for influencing the army with its world view. Even if tacit, the exposure of 1,000 troops this training year, and perhaps more to follow in subsequent years, will enable the opening of a window for the penetration of the right-wing perspective into the army.…



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Against all norms – By Purnima S. Tripathi (Apr 1, 2016, Frontline)

Making a mockery of environmental concerns and brazenly flouting rules and regulations, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “spiritual guru” and founder of The Art of Living (AOL) Foundation, patronised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his senior Cabinet colleagues, flagged off a three-day mega cultural fiesta, the World Culture Festival, on the floodplains of the Yamuna in Delhi on March 11.

Thumbing his nose at environmental activists who pleaded with him to change the venue in view of the damage the mega show would inflict on the already gasping river, the high-profile Sri Sri Ravi Shankar seeks to earn an entry into the Guinness World Records for conducting a cultural programme of this dimension on a single stage.…

But what baffles one is that for a private programme, the government not only went out of its way to facilitate it but also ignored concerns voiced by a huge section of environmental activists and the media. In an unprecedented move, the government even directed the Army to put in place two pontoon bridges to facilitate movement of those attending the event. Even the mandatory fire and security clearances were obtained only hours before the programme started.…



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Evasive politics on Muzaffarnagar – Editorial (Mar 10, 2016, The Hindu)

Those who don’t learn from history may be fated to repeat it, but what about those who don’t get their history down in the first place? India’s record in officially taking stock of communal riots has been especially poor in recent decades, and the report of the Justice Vishnu Sahai commission inquiring into the2013 Muzaffarnagar violence plays to form.

The report, tabled in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly this month, zeroes in on the “negligence” of the local administration, the “failure” of the intelligence agencies and exaggeration on social and print media for the violence that coursed through many districts of U.P., leaving more than 60 dead and 60,000 homeless, an overwhelming number of them Muslims.…

The Narendra Modi government made a statement about where it stands by making one of the accused, Sanjeev Balyan, a Union Minister. That the Samajwadi Party government and the Opposition parties refuse to engagingly contest the anodyne conclusions of the Sahai report is a depressing indication that, for now, the political healing touch needed to rectify the wrongs of 2013 is absent.



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Tribulations Of The Undertrials – By Archana Mishra (Mar 13, 2016, Tehelka)

Mohammed Aamir Khan is still in agony. He could not make it for his father’s burial as he was denied parole. Today when he is out of prison after battling 19 cases framed against him, Khan is at a loss of words to explain the traumatic 14 years he spent as an undertrial to prove his innocence. With a broken heart he states the reality: “The opposite of rich, strong and powerful is poor, weak and helpless – and these are the undertrials”.

He has a reason to say so. After being arrested in the 1997 twin bomb blast case (Karol Bagh, Delhi), Khan was tortured to give false statements and sign blank papers. The tormentors threatened to pluck his nails out if he dared to resist. Similar to Khan, there are many undertrials who had to go through the worst of brutalities. In case of acquittal there is no compensation for the suffering they have endured all these years.…

A bench headed by then chief justice RM Lodha said, “The judicial officers (Magistrate/ Sessions Judge/ Chief Judicial Magistrate) shall identity prisoners who have completed half of the maximum period of imprisonment provided for the offences they are charged with. After complying the procedure under Section 436A of the Criminal Procedure Code, they shall pass appropriate order in jail itself for the release of such prisoners.”…



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In Modi’s home state, Dalits remain untouchable even in death – By Sanjay Pandey (Mar 9, 2016, First Post)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’ mantra has often been termed a ‘jumla’ (rhetoric) by the Opposition. But when a BJP government funds separate crematoriums for Dalits, it appears a deliberate attempt to prove opponents right by institutionalising caste discrimination in his home state.

An RTI query by divyabhaskar.com has revealed that the Anandiben Patel government is funding separate cremation grounds for the SC/STs in several villages, a fact corroborated by a survey conducted by Navsarjan, an NGO that works in 11 districts of the state.

According to the survey, 10 villages have separate crematoriums for Dalits while the state government has allocated funds for 40 more in other villages. Manjula Pradeep of Navsarjan Trust, a Dalit rights organisation, said: “the equality that we fight for, the dignity that we seek in our lives should not be denied to us in death. If the government builds separate cremation areas for Dalits, it is aiding caste-based discrimination. “Dalits are forced to cremate their dead in open places because in some villages they are not allowed to do so in a general crematoriums,” she alleged.…



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Book Review

Framed As a Terrorist: My 14-Year Struggle to Prove My Innocence

Author: Mohammad Aamir Khan
Reviewed by: Muzamil Jaleel
Available at: Speaking Tiger Publishing Pvt. Ltd., 4381/4, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002, India, 248 pages, INR 200 . http://www.amazon.in/
Framed As A Terrorist book review: My Name is Khan And I’m Not a Terrorist (Mar 12, 2016, Indian Express)

When Mufti Abdul Qaiyum, “the dangerous mastermind of the Akshardham attack” was declared innocent and set free, he stepped into a world that he no longer recognized.… Not only Qaiyum, but five other Muslim men who were acquitted in the Akshardham attack case, also talked about their lost years. The Gujarat police, Mohammad Saleem recalled, gave him the “choice” of being implicated in the Godhra train burning, Haren Pandya’s murder or the Akshardham terror attack.…

The stories of these three men are not part of Mohammad Aamir Khan’s autobiographical sketch about his 13 years and 10 months in prison. But his book, Framed as a Terrorist, is the story of hundreds of Muslim men framed as terrorists and left to rot behind iron bars across India.

All these stories are, in essence, a single story. The names of the characters vary, the religion usually remains the same. The locations change, but mostly they come from the same social strata. This grand story is scripted by the police, and the agencies across India figuring in lead roles are always the media, the labyrinths of the judiciary and young Muslim men who get lost in them. Aamir’s book is a Muslim man’s memoir of his lost youth in this grand farcical theatre of terror investigations in India.… Aamir’s book is important because it exposes the unwritten code for terror investigations that has silently replaced the one existing in statute books.…