IAMC Weekly News Roundup - March 16th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 16th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Puttur: CM inaugurates Mini Vidhana Soudha, stresses on communal harmony (Mar 15, 2015, Daijiworld)

Chief minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday March 14 inaugurated the newly-constructed Mini Vidhana Soudha in Puttur and Morarji Desai Model Residential School for SC/STs at Balnad. He also laid the foundation stone for an additional building for inspection bungalow.

Later, addressing a programme at Kille ground, Siddaramaiah said, “Dakshina Kannada district is home for educated, cultured and intellectual people. Do not give scope for communal unrest among you. If anybody starts such unrest, everybody should raise their voices against it.

“There should be communal harmony in society and people of all religions should co-exist as children of one god. The government does not tolerate anybody who disrupts harmony and sparks unrest. Such anti-social elements will be dealt with strictly. The police department has been asked to take strict action against those who take law into their hands in the name of moral policing,” he said. …


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Gulberg society massacre: In final arguments, SIT seeks conviction of all 61 accused (Mar 11, 2015, Indian Express)

The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team while seeking conviction of all the 61 accused, concluded its final arguments in 2002 Gulberg Society massacre case. Sixty-nine persons, including former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, whose widow Zakia has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others for the riots, were killed by a mob on February 28 in the aftermath of Sabarmati Express train burning incident in Godhra.

With this the court is now likely to hear a petition by the riot survivors and victims who have sought arraignment of four police officers in this case before hearing the argument of defence lawyers. The officers include former Gujarat DGP PC Pande, then commissioner of police, Ahmedabad, PB Gondia, then Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone-IV, S S Chudasama, then A CP (Detection of Crime Branch) and former Joint Commissioner of Police M K Tandon (retired). The petitioners have accused these police officers of dereliction of duty. The SIT in its report has given clean chit to these officers citing lack of evidence.

On the other hand, concluding the arguments the SIT lawyer RC Kodekar told the court that a day after train burning incident, a mob of around 20,000 to 22,000 had gathered at the Gulberg Society, a posh Muslim locality in Meghaninagar, and gutted the society in a killing spree in which 69 people died.…



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‘Ishrat’s family living in fear’ (Mar 15, 2015, Deccan Herald)

The family of Ishrat Jahan is carefully avoiding the media in the wake of accused like former encounter specialist D G Vanzara and P P Pandey getting bail in the case of reported fake encounter of the 19-year-old Mumbra girl in 2004. But Jitendra Awhad, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA, who had been championing the cause of the family, says the legal battle would continue.

Ishrat was a resident of Mumbra suburbs in Thane district and studied in a college in Mumbai. Ishrat’s mother, Shamima Kauser, could not be reached despite repeated attempts. However, one of the aides of the family, Rauf Lala, said the family does not want to say anything. “It is wait and watch for them. They have not reacted to the recent developments. Their advocate too has advised them not to speak on the developments of the courts,” Lala said, adding that “at this stage”, they would not want to speak anything.

Ishrat, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter by the Gujarat Police on the outskirts of the city on June 15, 2004. According to the CBI, it was a fake encounter while the Gujarat Police claimed they were part of Lashkar-e-Taiba involved in a plot to assassinate Narendra Modi, who was Gujarat Chief Minister then. Having lost her father Shamim two years before her own death, Ishrat gave tuition and did embroidery work to support her family. Since her killing, the family has been constantly under the hawk-eyed vigil of intelligence sleuths.…



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Bombs hurled at Tamil TV channel Puthiya Thalaimurai’s office by bike-borne assailants (Mar 12, 2015, Financial Express)

Unidentified persons today hurled crude bombs at the office of a popular Tamil TV channel Puthiya Thalaimurai here, police said. No one was injured in the attack. The incident happened in the early hours today when four motorcycle-borne youths hurled two crude bombs packed in tiffin boxes, police said.

No one has been detained in this connection and police were examining various clues. Journalists in the Puthiya Thalaimurai channel said nobody was injured in the incident and that no major damage to property was reported. They said the incident had been caught on CCTV camera.

The incident comes close on the heels of the channel removing a controversial show about ‘Thaali’ (Mangalsutra) on Sunday when a fringe outfit, Hindu Munnani, opposed it and staged a protest during which some equipment was damaged and a video journalist allegedly attacked.



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‘Love jihad’ gets a Bengal reply: Bahu lao, Beti bachao, ‘purify’ Muslim brides (Mar 13, 2015, Indian Express)

The din over the ‘ghar wapsi’ reconversion campaign in the north and west may have dropped many decibels after Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined “the undeniable right” of an individual’s choice of religion. But in the east, the RSS and its affiliates are experimenting with another conversion programme – where, instead of hounding a Hindu-Muslim couple, they are actively facilitating their union. The only condition: the bride, in this case, is a Muslim who becomes a Hindu after a “suddhikaran” (purification) programme.

In West Bengal, especially in districts where the BJP has made significant electoral gains – at the expense of a crumbling Left and Congress – the Hindutva brotherhood, from Vishwa Hindu Parishad to Hindu Samhati, Hindu Jagran Manch to Bharat Sevashram Sangha, have stepped up a campaign they call “Bahu lao, Beti bachao” (bring a daughter-in-law, save a daughter), saying this is their answer to “love jihad.” In sharp contrast to their hounding of Hindu woman-Muslim man couples, these groups actively “shelter, arrange” the marriage of Hindu man-Muslim woman couples.

Over two months, The Indian Express travelled through South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Howrah and Birbhum – the rise of the BJP in these areas has coincided with the spread of this campaign – and met several couples who openly credit the Hindu groups for their marriage. VHP leader Badal Das, who is in charge of his organisation’s role in the campaign, estimates that at least 500 Muslim and Christian women have “become Hindus through marriage” in the last one year. All women have adopted Hindu names and their families have been “advised” to join the BJP for their “own safety”.…



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Lawyer killed, another injured in court premises in Allahabad (Mar 11, 2015, Times of India)

A police sub-inspector allegedly shot dead a lawyer and injured another inside the district court campus in Allahabad on Wednesday. Hundreds of angry lawyers later engaged in pitched battles with the police in and around the court premises. A constable received a bullet injury and about a dozen vehicles were damaged in the violence.

Sub-inspector Shailendra Singh, in-charge of Naribari police outpost, had gone to the district court in connection with a case. Witnesses said he had a heated argument with a group of lawyers near the stairs of the court building. When the lawyers allegedly threatened to thrash him, the sub-inspector took out his service weapon and opened fire.

“Nabi Ahmad (30) succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital,” a policeman said. The other lawyer, who also sustained bullet injuries, was admitted to hospital. His condition was said to be stable.…



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Why is a retired, Christian tough cop feeling threatened in India today? (Mar 16, 2015, Washington Post)

Why is a retired and much-decorated Christian police officer who valiantly fought terrorist groups in the 1980s feeling threatened in India today?

In a column in the Indian Express newspaper on Monday, police officer Julio Ribeiro said recent attacks on Christian institutions in India make him feel as if he is on the “hit list” of conservative Hindu groups.

“Today, in my 86th year, I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country,” Ribeiro wrote. “I am not an Indian anymore, at least in the eyes of the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra,” or the Hindu nation.…



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71-year-old nun gang-raped in West Bengal, minister blames ghar wapsi (Mar 15, 2015, Times of India)

Bringing more shame for Bengal, a 71-year-old nun of a convent school was gang-raped in Ranaghat town, some 80km from Kolkata, early on Saturday. She was injured so badly that she had to undergo a surgery.

Police blamed a gang of robbers and ruled out any motive behind the rape, which triggered protests and angry reactions from Christian leaders in the state that worships Mother Teresa as a saint. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee condemned it and ordered a CID probe and her minister Firhad Hakim called it an “attack on humanity”.

“I am shocked. Such an attack on an elderly sister is a rare incident, first time in Bengal and possibly the first time in India. It is deeply distressing,” said archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D’Souza, who rushed to Ranaghat and visited the school.” The chief minister was genuinely concerned. She promised speedy action and assured security.”…



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Maharashtra beef ban flouts right to life: PIL (Mar 11, 2015, Times of India)

The ban on beef infringes on a citizen’s fundamental rights, says a PIL filed on Tuesday in the Bombay high court, asserting that the right to eat the meat of one’s choice is integral to it.

In his public interest litigation, activist Ketan Tirodkar called the recent changes in the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, which provides for punishment for possessing or selling beef, “atrocious”. Consumption and sale of beef should not be criminalized. “Right to eat should not be affected,” he added.

President Pranab Mukherjee last month gave his assent to the amendments in the Act. The slaughter of cows was already banned in the state; now bulls and bullocks have been added to the list. Anyone selling beef or found in possession of it can be jailed for up to five years and fined Rs 10,000.…



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Justice Markandey Katju’s latest claim: Mahatma Gandhi was a British agent (Mar 10, 2015, Indian Express)

He had first made national headlines when he famously remarked that 90% Indians are idiots. He followed that up with his ‘gay marriages are unnatural’ remark and then his wish to see Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif as the next president of India. Justice Markandey Katju, known for his contentious take on issues, however has always anticipated uproar and public acrimony over his comments.

But his latest comments might generate a little too much heat as he has now claimed in a personal blog post that Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, was a British agent.

“I submit that Gandhi was objectively a British agent who did great harm to India,” Justice Katju, former chairman of Press Council of India, writes after admitting that he is likely to be ‘vilified and denounced by many’ after the post.…



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Dimapur jail lynching incident helped two Nagaland’s NSCN-IM militants escape (Mar 14, 2015, IBN)

A week after Dimapur lynching incident, a detailed report submitted by the Senior Superintendent of the Dimapur Jail reveals a different story. Under the grab of ‘mob justice’ on March 5, two dreaded militants of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) were also freed from the Dimapur jail.

According to the report, the jail’s first boundary was broken by a group of Naga women protestors. The report further claims that the police commander told the constables to lower their guns when the protesters tore open the first fencing.

The jail chief’s report also records that the request for additional forces was sent at 11:30 AM but the forces took four hours and reached the jail at 4:30 PM. It took the lynching mob about five hours to find the alleged rapist who was later killed.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Rewriting the nation state – By Suchitra Vijayan (Mar 17, 2015, The Hindu)

Days after Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Sakshi Maharaj called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, a “patriot,” the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, an ideological affiliate of the Sangh Parivar petitioned the government to provide space for installing busts of Godse at public places across India.…

The raising of Godse’s statue is not an isolated act by fringe elements.… To retell the story of the Mahatma’s murderer, as a patriot, goes to the heart of politics seeking to manipulate, manufacture and mobilise public support to consolidate the power of the majority.…

Violence manufactured through riots, destruction of religious sites such as churches, organising religious conversion camps, beef bans, rewriting textbooks, censoring works of history, literature and fiction that challenge the ‘Hindu’ version of history, appropriating political icons, and raising monuments are all carefully enacted acts of mobilisation aimed at constructing the Hindu nation.…



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Rising, decreasing, no rising: Curious case of communal incidents – By Nivedita Bhardwaj (Mar 14, 2015, TwoCircles.net)

In the run up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat chief minister, had written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December 2013 opposing the now withdrawn Communal Violence Bill. Among other issues, Modi – who was by then already declared as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 polls – had raised objections to the lack of clarity on definition of ‘communal violence’ and also for ‘hostile environment’. …

But of course, opposing the wordings of the proposed bill and working on the ground to change the situation are two different things. Circa 2015, when Modi is firmly in saddle as the Prime Minister, things do not seem to have changed much.…

The increasing incidents of hate speech by leaders of the Hindutva organisations, the rising number of small-yet-effective-to-scare communal incidents with no casualties and last but never the least, the ill-famous ghar vapsi programmes across the country are some of the incidents which, if no case is registered, will not be counted as ‘communal incidence’ in government records. Even when all such incidents are happening, the government is claiming that the number of incidents have come down.…



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Creeping danger of intolerance – Editorial (Mar 13, 2015, The Hindu)

First it was the writers, now it is the turn of television channels to be assaulted in Tamil Nadu. Freedom of speech and expression has seldom been under so much threat. The bomb attack on the office of Tamil TV channel Puthiya Thalaimurai in the early hours of Thursday takes the growing intolerance in our society to new heights.

The channel showed trailers last week of a programme it intended to telecast on the relevance of the thali or mangalsutra in contemporary India. It began to receive threatening calls, with callers turning abusive when women answered the phone. The channel decided to call off the show. Even after this, parties such as the Hindu Makkal Katchi and the Hindu Munnani held protests outside its office. A cameraperson recording the protest was assaulted. The State BJP too issued unedifying statements justifying the protests.

All this culminated in the bomb attack, which might not have injured anyone but has done great harm to the country’s liberal fabric. The fringe groups behind this have thrown a challenge to the secular and tolerant ethos, and sought to use violence to intimidate liberal sections of society from debating or questioning cultural mores. While the ideological challenge will have to be met politically, the full force of the law should be used to rein in elements out to intimidate media and society.…



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Holy Cow-Beef And Indian Political Games – By Ram Puniyani (Mar 12, 2015, Countercurrents)

Can the dietary practices, the animal which is worshipped as a mother by section of population, be brought in on the political arena? While all this sounds surreal, its true as far as the role of cow is there in Indian political firmament. Recently Maharashtra Government got the Presidents assent to the bill Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 1995 which will now ban the slaughter of bulls and bullocks as well. The defaulters will face a prison term of five years and a fine of Rs. 10000.…

A decade ago I was shocked to read that one of the outstanding scholars of ancient Indian History Professor Dwijendra Nath Jha received regular threats on phone telling him not to publish his book, ‘Holy Cow Beef in Indian Dietary tradition’. This scholarly work traces the place of beef in Indian diet from centuries.

The idea is to target the minorities for beef eating, and cow slaughter. One recalls that one of the slogans which rent the air in the run up the 2014 General elections was “Modi ko matdan, gai ko jeevadan [Vote for Modi, give life to the cow], BJP ka sandesh, bachegi gai, bachega desh [BJP’s message, the cow will be saved, the country will be saved]”. This slogan was propped up ‘Cow Development Cell’ of BJP.…



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Corporate spies in the corridors of power – By Sagnik Dutta and V. Venkatesan (Mar 20, 2015, Frontline)

It had all the makings of a crime thriller – spies with duplicate keys, traps laid by the police, and the car chase. On the night of February 18, officers of the Delhi Police, who had prior information about an espionage network, kept a watch on three persons coming in an Indigo car to Shastri Bhavan, the iconic “corridor of power” which houses some of the key economic Ministries in New Delhi. Two persons got down and the third remained inside the car. After about two hours, when the duo returned to the car, all three of them were caught for stealing photocopies of classified documents of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoPNG).

Corporate conglomerates influencing key economic policy decisions and having a stranglehold on the corridors of power are widely acknowledged facts about the aftermath of economic liberalisation. But, the dirty secrets of the corporate hold over key institutions of the state came literally tumbling out following the busting of an elaborate espionage network by the Delhi Police. It only got murkier later in the week with five corporate executives being arrested.

As news spread of a Reliance executive among those arrested, there were murmurs about the government finally taking on the all-powerful corporate entity which has often been in the news for allegedly cornering undue favours. The arrests of the accused have only brought to the fore the intricate ways in which corporate interests get access to the corridors of power.…



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Censoring a Film on Rape – Editorial (Mar 11, 2015, New York Times)

“India’s Daughter,” a documentary by the British filmmaker Leslee Udwin about a gang rape and murder in New Delhi in 2012, has unleashed a storm of controversy in India. It has also prompted protests against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has taken action to ban the film.

At issue are chilling remarks made by one of the convicted attackers, Mukesh Singh, who blames the victim, who had gone to see the movie “Life of Pi” with a friend, saying in the documentary that “a decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night.” Incredibly, two defense lawyers for the attackers express similar views in the film, one saying he wouldn’t hesitate to burn his daughter alive if he found out she had engaged in premarital sex.…

Ms. Udwin’s film has increased worldwide awareness of attitudes that beget sexual violence against women. India’s government protects those attitudes by preventing its citizens from seeing this reality.



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