IAMC Weekly News Roundup - March 24th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 24th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Death threats to Advocate Pracha and intimidation of online media are unacceptable, say Indian Americans

Attempt to force news portal to withdraw interview critical of Police chief undermines freedom of press

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, condemned the threats to senior lawyer Mr. Mehmood Paracha by vested interests operating through underworld goons. IAMC has demanded the state administration nab the culprits and take immediate measures for the safety and security of the senior lawyer. Advocate Paracha is representing German bakery bomb blast case convict Mirza Himayat Baig.

Besides fighting to prove Himayat Baig’s innocence, Mr. Paracha has been fighting many terror related cases of Muslim youth across the country. Mr. Paracha reported he is getting threatening messages from the underworld don Ravi Pujari since his recent interview appeared on the TCN site. In the exclusive interview to online news portal TwoCircles.Net (TCN – www.twocircles.net) Advocate Paracha, had courted controversy by demanding that that the current Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria be “arrested as a terrorist” and tried under anti-terror laws.

The senior lawyer had stated, “The fact remains that three investigating agencies (NIA, Delhi Police’ Special Cell and Central Crime Branch, Bangalore), my own understanding of the case, the charge sheet and the subsequent events, all point to one fact that the Maharashtra ATS led by Mr. Rakesh Maria was responsible in not only falsely implicating Himayat Baig, but also in the process actively saving the real terrorists,” adding, “the police officers involved, including Mr Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related. He has committed offense prima facie which are terror cases and he should be arrested as a terrorist.”

Mr. Paracha’s case is following the same pattern as the case of late Advocate Shahid Azmi, who was killed in broad daylight in his office by vested interests inimical to the rule of law. “The fact that there are threats to the life of the senior advocate demonstrates how the rule of law is disregarded with impunity when those struggling for justice start to take on the mighty and powerful,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC.

IAMC also condemned the Mumbai police department’s attempt to intimidate the online news portal TCN by demanding the removal of Mr. Paracha’s interview wherein he made the bold and stunning revelation about the dubious role of Police Commissioner and former Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria in terror related cases. “The Mumbai Police’s demand that the online portal withdraw the interview with Mr. Paracha is an unacceptable attack on the freedom of the press. It strikes at the very roots of our existence as a democracy where the state security apparatus is supposed to operate under the law and help uphold it, ” added Mr. Khan.

IAMC has called on the media, civil society institutions, legal fraternity and people of conscience, to strongly resist attempts by the Mumbai Police to infringe on the due process of law and on the freedom of media institutions.

Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 15 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at: https://www.iamc.com


Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related: Advocate Paracha

Block articles against Maria: Police to US site

Mumbai Police wants TCN articles removed; Support for TCN comes from all quarters

Remove Maharashtra ATS Chief Rakesh Maria: JTSA

6/11 call record issue may suffer under Maria: Kamte’s wife

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Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related: Advocate Pracha (Mar 18, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Senior lawyer Mehmood Pracha, who is defending German bakery bomb blast case convict Mirza Himayat Beg for his innocence, has demanded that the current Mumbai Police Commissioner should be “arrested as a terrorist” and tried under anti-terror laws. In an exclusive interview to TCN, Advocate Pracha said, “The fact remains that three investigating agencies (NIA, Delhi Police’ Special Cell and Central Crime Branch, Bangalore), my own understanding of the case, the charge sheet and the subsequent events, all point to one fact that the Maharashtra ATS led by Mr Rakesh Maria was responsible in not only falsely implicating Himayat Baig, but also in the process actively saving the real terrorists,” adding, “the police officers involved, including Mr Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related. He has committed offense prima facie which are terror cases and he should be arrested as a terrorist.”

Besides Himayat Baig, Advocate Pracha has been trying to secure bail for another high profile terror accused Mansoor Peerbhoy and has been frontally attacking current Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria for his conduct as ATS Chief. He also alleged that the Mumbai top cop is using underworld don Ravi Pujari to coerce him to leave those sensitive terror cases. Advocate Pracha has been receiving threat calls from international telephone numbers. Advocate Pracha is now planning to petition in court to lodge FIR against him. He told TCN, “In Himayat Baig’s case what has come out is that the Maharashtra ATS, led by Mr Rakesh Maria – who was then the Chief of the ATS – they not only implicated an innocent called Mr Himayat Baig, but they also saved the real terrorists, as three other agencies have also stated.”

He hence feels that as a law abiding citizen, it is his “duty to inform for a cognizable offence to the relevant authority and the court.” Not shying away from calling Maria a “terrorist” for his alleged misconduct, the out-spoken lawyer added, “It is my duty to inform the terrorist activities of Mr Rakesh Maria, then head of the Maharashtra ATS, and his entire team.” Elaborating further, he said, “When I say, that these police officers are acting like terrorists because they are aiding and abetting the real terrorists and catching hold of the innocent people to save the real terrorists. Under section 15 to 20 of the UAPA, these are terrorist activities, be it whether they are committed by the police officers or common citizens because law is equal for all.”

Pointing that Maria is not the only police officer who have implicated innocent Muslims, Advocate Pracha said, “This is true not only for Mr Rakesh Maria, but for many other officers against whom I have conclusive evidence to at least register an FIR against them. Law should take its own course, because nobody is above law. Mr Rakesh Maria’s case came up because the NIA filed the additional charge-sheet which once again points to the fact that Himayat Baig was innocent.” He added, “Mr Rakesh Maria has managed to bring himself to the limelight by brining Ravi Pujari (the underworld don, whose men purportedly threatened Pracha over phone) that is why I have to take his name again and again, but there are so many other police officers who are going the same way. But none of them has actually threatened with the underworld. He has got this invited on himself. If you threaten me like this I am going to fight back, by legal means.”

Elaborating further he said, “The fact remains that there many police officers in many states, who are acting along with the real terrorists and implicating these innocent in false cases. And we are duty bound as citizens to catch hold of each one of them and hand them over to the investigating agencies.” “Unfortunate part is both the police officers who are supposed to be neutral investigating agencies and the public prosecutors, supported by the respective governments, have acted in an adversarial and vindictive manner in these cases,” he added. Questioning the very credentials of Maria for acting in such a manner and using underworld don to threaten him, Pracha said, “But he has taken it in a manner, which I think, is not suitable for a police officer, if at all he is, because I do not find any of the characters of a police officer in him, going through the evidences I am seeing in all the charge-sheets, which have been filed under his leadership. So he has started threatening me through the underworld. But these things don’t scare me at all.” …



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Two Haryana policemen get life sentence for fake encounter (Mar 21, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Two Haryana policemen have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court for killing two criminals in a fake encounter in 1994 even as it acquitted the then DGP of the state. The then Inspector Nar Singh and Constable Ramesh Chander were sentenced yesterday for their involvement in the Jitender Pahal encounter case and slapped with a fine of Rs. 10,000 each. The then Director General of Haryana Police Lachman Dass and two other policemen have been acquitted.

The case relates to Pahal and Randhir Singh, both known criminals, who were killed while being taken from Jind to Sonepat in police custody on October 25, 1994. On the petition of Pahal’s mother, Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed CBI to take over probe in the matter as the petitioner had alleged the role of Haryana Police officials in the killing of the two. During the probe, CBI found that Pahal and Singh were were lodged in the prisons while Lachman Dass was serving as DG Prisons in the state. In 1991, a friend of Dass’ son Bunty Budh Ram was involved in a clash with Pahal.

In November 1991, Bunty visited Ambala prison where Pahal was lodged and both threatened each other with dire consequences. “The CBI investigation disclosed that during the period from August 24, 1994 to April 30, 1995, Dass while posted as DGP Haryana entered into a criminal conspiracy with Ved Prakash Verma, Nar Singh, Ramesh Chander, Sube Singh and Mangat Singh Gill and in pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy eliminated both Jitender Pahal and Randhir Singh,” CBI had alleged in its charge sheet. The agency charged Dass along with others with murder and furnishing false evidence. Gill died during the trial.



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‘Reject The Closure Report Filed By SIT’ (Mar 18, 2014, Outlook)

Survivor of the 2002 carnage and widow of eminent Parliamentarian Smt Zakia Ahsan Jafri has filed a Criminal Revision Application before the Gujarat High Court challenging the Order of the Magistrate rejecting her Protest Petition seeking to arraign powerful accused Narendra Modi, chief minister Gujarat and 59 others on charges of criminal conspiracy, abetment etc to commit mass murder, arson and rape and also tamper with evidence and destroy valuable records of the Gujarat home department. The Revision appeal was filed on Saturday, March 15, 2014 and will come up for hearing on March 20, 2014.

The applicant Zakia Jafri also prays for the rejection of the closure report of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) dated 8.2.2012. The Magistrate had, on 26.12.2013 rejected the Protest Petition filed by Smt Zakia Jafri, assisted by Citizens for Justice and Peace, on 15.4.2013. Substantive arguments seeking to establishing strong suspicion of a conspiracy committed at the highest level were made by the Petitioner’s advocates and detailed Written and Oral Submissions submitted on 25.9.2013.

The Criminal Revision Application that runs into about 540 pages laid out substantive grounds for rejection of the Order of the Magistrate BJ Ganatra dated 26.12.2013. At the outset it points out the double faced role played by the SIT once the matter stopped being monitored by the Supreme Court and was completely handed over to the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad. In the substantive grounds laid down in the Criminal Revision Application to challenge the Order of the Magistrate are the following:

The Metropolitan Magistrate committed a fundamental error in law and on facts in failing to exercise his jurisdiction. By not dealing with the substantive arguments laid down by Smt Jafri in written and oral submissions, the Judge has simply accepted the contentions in the closure report with a non-application of mind. That the Learned Metropolitan Magistrate has failed to consider the following material that was put to establish prima facie the involvement of Accused No. 1 in serious crimes of conspiracy and abetment and which was sufficient to establish his involvement in the conspiracy and abetment of crimes of murder, arson and rape: …



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‘Incorruptible’ Narendra Modi faces accusations of using fake WikiLeaks endorsement to raise fund (Mar 18, 2014, Financial Express)

A controversy erupted over a claim that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange endorsed Narendra Modi as “incorruptible” even as the whistle-blower website disclosed a secret cable by a senior US diplomat eight years ago that described him as a “distrustful person” who reigns more by “fear and intimidation”. The website while denying in a series of tweets that it had called the Gujarat Chief Minister “incorruptible” tweeted details of a number of observations made by the then Mumbai-based Consul General Michael S Owen on Narendra Modi’s leadership in a cable after his visit to the state in 2006.

“No WikiLeaks document say Modi is ‘incorruptable’, rather he is popular because ‘viewed’ as ‘incorruptable’,” WikiLeaks said. Wikileaks said the term “incorruptible” was apparently used by a Gujarat Congress leader Manoharsinh Jadeja. “The Narendra Modi “incorruptable” quote comes from Rajkot Congress party leader Manoharsinh Jadeja,” it said. In another tweet, WikiLeaks accused BJP of using the “fake Assange-Modi endorsement” to raise funds.

The website today accused Priti Gandhi, Co-Convener of Maharashtra BJP Communication Cell, of pushing the “fake endorsement” by WikiLeaks. Its clarification came against the backdrop of some BJP supporters circulating posters in Ahmedabad quoting Assange, saying that “America is scared of Modi because he is incorruptible.” BJP, however, downplayed the WikiLeaks tweets. “We don’t need a certificate from WikiLeaks or Assange on Modiji,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had said.

WikiLeaks went on to tweet a secret cable sent by the US Embassy in 2006 which criticised Narendra Modi’s style of functioning. “Views remain divided on whether Modi’s leadership style will help or harm him if he enters national politics. In public, Modi can be charming and likable. By all accounts, however, he is an insular, distrustful person… He reigns more by fear and intimidation than by inclusiveness and consensus, and is rude, condescending and often derogatory to even high level party officials. He hoards power…,” one such diplomatic cable under a sub-heading “Modi’s Leadership Style” said.

The US Consulate, however, added that all of its interlocutors acknowledged that Narendra Modi is a modest man “who, unlike many elected officials in India, has not used his position to enrich himself or his family”. “Most contacts also say that he has purged the state administration of petty corruption at the mid and lower levels of the bureaucracy. However, several people tell us that big ticket corruption is still common,” it added. The secret cable following Owen’s visit also stated that the US Embassy in Delhi had cleared the document.



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Video containing graphic details of 2002 Gujarat riots goes viral on social media (Mar 20, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)

Days after s victim of 2002 Gujarat riots, Zakia Jafri, wife of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri moved an application before the Gujarat High Court challenging the clean chit given by SIT to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a contentious video clip, which supposedly contains graphic details of the deadly riots is making the rounds on social media.

According to reports, the video clipping, “& rioter” has been edited by one Sayed Mohammed Raqeem SM, contains graphic details of the communal riots that struck Gujarat in 2002. Times of India reports: The video – ‘& Rioter’, edited by one Sayed Mohammed Raqeem SM – contains visuals of charred bodies, hooliganism and riot victims, and calls RSS leaders and Modi ‘dharm ke numayinde’ (patrons of religion).

Local Samajwadi Party leader and corporator Varun Singh has also uploaded the video clip on a social-networking site. Singh said one of his friends shared the video with him, following which he realized that “making others aware about the truth of Gujarat was a must” and he shared the video with others. Singh said he “forwarded it to 24 of my friends”, some of whom are his party colleagues.



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Documentary sheds light on Amit Shah’s link in Muzaffarnagar riots (Mar 19, 2014, Indian Express)

Gopal Menon’s documentary The Killing Fields of Muzaffarnagar, that was screened at St Xavier’s college in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, shows incidents behind riots in Muzaffarnagar, pointing out that riots were instigated by right-wing Hindu politicians after Gujarat minister Amit Shah was sent to UP for Lok Sabha elections. The 50-minute documentary showed lives of riot-affected families living in refugee camps. The Supreme Court has taken into cognizance Menon’s documentary as one of the five DVDs submitted to the apex court by petitioners seeking justice to show the incidents of riots.

After the screening, Menon told this newspaper, “Muzaffarnagar has a history of keeping peace. There was not a single clash reported in the wake of the Partition or during the Babri Masjid demolition. However, a small motorbike accident between two boys of two communities led to such a big riot? All local politicians who called for sabhas before riots were in the Shah’s shadow. The riots were manufactured by them to settle their feet in UP before elections.”

The documentary has live footage of panchayat sabhas, with politicians inciting communities. Menon said, “We’ve also spoken to a local group prepared in UP called ‘Narendra Modi Army’ that was one of the most active groups that committed atrocities on Muslims during the riots.”



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Terror suspect Fasih Mehmood allegedly attacked in Tihar Jail (Mar 22, 2014, IBN)

Fasih Mehmood, a terror suspect in the 2010 Bangalore Chinnaswamy Stadium blast and the Jama Masjid shooting in Delhi, was allegedly beaten up by fellow cell-mates in Tihar jail on Saturday. Mehmood reportedly got into a brawl with fellow prisoners after which he got injured and was rushed to the AIIMS trauma centre.

However, Tihar Jail authorties have rebutted claims of Mehmood getting attacked by the fellow cell-mates. Fasih Mehmood was held in Saudi Arabia and was deported to India. He was wanted by both the Delhi and Bangalore police.

Security agencies have claimed he knows all top operatives of the Indian Mujahideen including Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal. But his family insists he is innocent.



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School books says BJP ‘communal’, Election Commission begins probe (Mar 18, 2014, DNA India)

The Election Commission has begun an inquiry into an allegation by the BJP that the party has purportedly been branded as communal in a class IX text book in Left Front-ruled Tripura. “We have received a complaint from BJP here and asked the state education department to file a report on the allegation. After receiving the report, we would send it to the EC for appropriate action,” chief electoral officer Asutosh Jindal said.

Prasenjit Chakraborty, convener of BJP’s Intellectual Cell here, complained to chief election commissioner V S Sampath on Sunday that the Bengali medium political science book, in its chapter on ‘India’s party system’, said one of the important characteristics of this system was the existence of communal parties.

“Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha and Shiv Sena are among such parties, besides BJP. Parties like the BJP, though not based on religion, succeeded in capturing power through communalisation of politics,” the book purportedly said. Chakraborty also claimed that on the basis of the book, a school here recently set a question for students to identify the communal party from four parties – Congress, CPI-M, BJP and BSP. The party demanded immediate action against the guilty.



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No special concern for minority districts: Sachar review panel (Mar 20, 2014, Indian Express)

The Congress-led UPA created a multi-sectoral development programme for 90 Minority Concentrated Districts (MCD) in the country but a review panel scrutinising implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations did not perceive any special concern for these districts. The panel said the government neither properly assessed development deficit in these districts, nor made adequate financial resources available.

“There has not been any systematic assessment of development deficits in MCDs for determination of targets under different schemes,” the evaluation panel’s interim report said. Soon after the Sachar Committee Report was submitted, the Centre decided to identify Minority Concentrated Districts and give special attention to their development. One of the criteria for an Minority Concentrated Districts was it should have a combined minority population of over 25 per cent.

The report said financial resources and physical targets available to minorities, especially Muslims, were meagre and in some schemes has not been utilised, reflecting lack of coordination and absence of systematic planning. “Investments in any part of minority concentrated towns have been mentioned without ascertaining whether the minority community resides there,” the report points out. The review panel, headed by Amitabh Kundu, professor (economics) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, submitted its report on March 14 to the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

Among the recommendations was a special sub-quota for Muslims within the OBC and including Muslims in SC category, a law on the lines of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes Prevention of Atrocity Act, and incentives to public/ private sector institutions for promoting communal diversity. It called for development of institutional support system to help unemployed Muslim youth take up jobs in manufacturing and service sectors.

It stated that all government agencies should be directed to incorporate socio-religious categorisation of beneficiaries in their information system designed for government programmes. “The committee found no special efforts by the Centre in addressing concerns of minority districts,” sources said.



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Cops filed wrong FIR: Rape survivor (Mar 21, 2014, Times of India)

A teenaged girl has accused the Dahisar police of filing an incorrect FIR and applying milder charges against her perpetrator. The 19-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a youth from her neighbourhood. The accused had promised to marry her before committing the crime. But when she approached the Dahisar police station in January, they recorded a complaint of assault and molestation against the 21-year-old youth. Out on bail, the youth and his relatives have begun intimidating her.

“I lost my father eight years ago and live with my mother and elder brother at Dahisar (E). The accused was my senior in school. Last year, he told me that he was interested in me, but I did not want to get into a relationship. He threatened to kill himself. I finally gave in when he promised to tie the knot,” the survivor said. During an outing at Gorai beach, the youth got intimate with her against her wishes. “Many times thereafter, he would threaten me or, at times, hit me and get intimate. Unable to take it anymore, I decided to approach the police,” she said.

In the FIR recorded on January 25, the investigating officer wrote that the girl had been assaulted and abused. The accused was booked under sections 354, 509 and 323 of IPC for molestation and assault but he soon got out on bail. “Now, he mocks me whenever I step out of home and his family has started intimidating me. I want graver charges of rape and cheating to be applied against him,” she said. ACP (Dahisar) Dilip Roopvate said, “I have asked for the case papers. We need to ascertain if there were two separate incidents of assault and of rape. Action will be taken accordingly. A fresh statement of the girl has been recorded.”



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Opinions and Editorials

Ghost of Godhra – Editorial (Mar 19, 2014, Times of India)

The course the law has taken so far in cases related to the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat is nowhere near a point of closure. That provides Narendra Modi’s rivals with an opportunity to ensure that the ghost of Godhra will continue to haunt him through the election campaign. In his interview to Press Trust of India, Rahul Gandhi has driven home this intent in an unusually spirited manner. He has sought “legal accountability” for the “clear and inexcusable failure” of governance during the riots, while pooh-poohing Modi’s claim that he has emerged unscathed after an exhaustive judicial scrutiny.

What are the facts? The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) didn’t charge the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate with the slightest complicity, direct or otherwise, in instigating or perpetrating the horrific bloodshed. A lower court in Ahmedabad upheld the SIT’s findings. Is that the end of the matter? It is not. Post-Godhra violence cases will continue to be heard in the high court and later in the apex court. The judges will have to take into account a number of recent writings that have found serious lapses in the SIT’s report. On this score, Rahul Gandhi’s diatribe isn’t without merit.

Whether it would fetch the Congress electoral dividends – even from large sections of Muslims – is however far from clear. Every opinion poll has revealed that voters have other fish to fry. Modi seems to recognise this better than his adversaries. But that would be of little avail unless he eschews divisive rhetoric – something he has done until now – and expresses genuine remorse for the loss of innocent lives under his watch – which, alas, he hasn’t.



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The banality of evil – By Nissim Mannathukkaren (Mar 22, 2014, The Hindu)

German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt gave the world the phrase, “the banality of evil”. In 1963, she published the book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, her account of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi military officer and one of the key figures of the Holocaust. Eichmann was hanged to death for war crimes. Arendt’s fundamental thesis is that ghastly crimes like the Holocaust are not necessarily committed by psychopaths and sadists, but, often, by normal, sane and ordinary human beings who perform their tasks with a bureaucratic diligence.

Maya Kodnani, MLA from Naroda, handed out swords to the mobs that massacred 95 people in the Gujarat riots of 2002. She was sentenced to 28 years in prison. She is a gynecologist who ran a clinic, and was later appointed as Minister for Women and Child Development under Narendra Modi.

Jagdish Tytler was, allegedly, one of the key individuals in the 1984 pogrom against the Sikhs. He was born to a Sikh mother and was brought up by a Christian, a prominent educationist who established institutions like the Delhi Public School. A Congress Party leader, he has been a minister in the Union government. The supposedly long arm of law has still not reached him. Guess they never will, considering that the conviction rate in the cases for butchering nearly 8000 Sikhs is only around one per cent.

For every “monstrous” Babu Bajrangi and Dara Singh, there are the Kodnanis and Tytlers. Evil, according to Arendt, becomes banal when it acquires an unthinking and systematic character. Evil becomes banal when ordinary people participate in it, build distance from it and justify it, in countless ways. There are no moral conundrums or revulsions. Evil does not even look like evil, it becomes faceless.

Thus, a terrifyingly fascinating exercise that is right now underway in the election campaign is the trivialisation and normalisation of the Gujarat pogrom, to pave the way for the crowning of the emperor, the Vikas Purush. If there was some moral indignation and horror at the thought of Narendra Modi becoming prime minister until recently, they have been washed away in the tidal wave of poll surveys, media commentaries, intellectual opinion, political bed-hopping, and of course, what the Americans think, all of which reinforce each other in their collective will to see Modi ascend to power. Banalisation of evil happens when great human crimes are reduced to numbers. …



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Blaming the ‘other’ – By Harsh Mander (Mar 22, 2014, The Hindu)

The on-going suffering of traumatised Muslim families in Muzaffarnagar was spurred by reports of a Muslim young man stalking a Jat girl. The story spread like a forest fire from village to village that Shahnawaz had long harassed a Jat girl in his village and that her brother Sachin and cousin Gaurav defended her honour by killing the boy. In retaliation, a mob lynched the brothers. A graphic video depicting the brutal lynching made the rounds from cell phone to cell phone.

Jat elders met in khap panchayats, enraged by these accounts and a mahapanchayat was convened. Thousands participated, and speaker after speaker railed against the duplicity of their Muslim neighbours. The next day mobs of Jat men attacked settlements in which lived the families of Muslim farm workers who had cultivated their fields for many generations. The state administration stood by as homes were torched and looted, women raped and men killed. Terrified children, women and men fled to the safety of Muslim-majority villages.

Both village squares and social media were rife with stories that the incident was not an isolated one. Instead Shahnawaz’s pursuit of Sachin’s sister was part of a much larger conspiracy of ‘love jihad’ in which Muslim boys enticed Hindu girls in romantic traps to convert them to Islam. Few paid notice when, early on, one English television channel carried an interview with Sachin’s sister in which she said that, far from being harassed by the murdered Shahnawaz, she did not even know him. Some days later it emerged that the video of Sachin and Gaurav being lynched was fake. It was actually a video of a murderous mob attack on two brothers in Sialkot, Pakistan. This video was uploaded by BJP MLA Sangeet Som to deliberately create hatred against local Muslims. But even this did not shake the popular conviction – not just in Muzaffarnagar but across UP and the country – that the attack was justified retribution against Muslims.

Six months later, police has completed its investigations and filed the chargesheets related to the murders of Shahnawaz, Sachin and Gaurav. The records reveals that the initial FIR filed after the killing of the Jat brothers did not even mention stalking. The investigation reveals a very different trajectory. What transpired was a road rage encounter after the motorcycle of one accidentally touched the bicycle of the other. This led to an overheated exchange of words. Shahnawaz went to the Muslim enclave for afternoon prayers in the mosque. Meanwhile Sachin with his cousin Gaurav and seven other men surrounded and stabbed Shahnawaz, and then tried to flee. The others escaped but Sachin and Gaurav were caught. People rushed Shahnawaz to the hospital, but news came that he had died. Sachin and Gaurav were killed.

This story did not serve the political objectives of those who sought to profit from popular anger against Muslims. An emotive alternative narrative was constructed of sexual predation and honour. It served its purpose of generating mass hatred among Jats against their Muslims neighbours. Murderous hate attacks, arson, rapes and the mass exodus that followed were the harvest of the deliberately propagated falsehoods. Thousands spent a bleak winter under tents and continue to live in abject fear of returning to their homes. …



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No country for Muslims – By Kanchan Srivastava (Mar 20, 2014, DNA India)

Justice Rajinder Sachar in his report in 2006 said the Muslims in the country face enormous economic deprivation, social exclusion and political under-representation. Following this, the Union government created a ministry of minority affairs, revamped the prime minister’s 15-point programme and launched multi-sectoral development programmes targeted at Muslims.

The seven-year exercise, however, did not bring about any significant change in the socio-economic condition of the community, says an interim report, which was submitted to the ministry of minority affairs on March 13. The 10-member committee headed by JNU professor Amitabh Kundu was appointed by the UPA government in August 2013 to evaluate developments in political, social and economic spheres focusing on the period since the acceptance of the Sachar committee report in 2006 and also to propose measures for the upliftment of Muslims.

The Kundu committee has now recommended the inclusion of some of the most backward Muslims castes (Ajlaf) under the Other Backward Class (OBC) quota, shifting of Muslim Dalits (Arzal) from OBC to the Scheduled Caste (SC) quota and the passing of an “Anti-Muslims Discrimination Act” on the lines of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The report also criticises the UPA government for not passing the Communal Violence Bill.

“Many politicians wear skull caps and boast about being the champions of the Muslim community. However, a lot needs to be done for inclusive India,” professor Kundu told dna. The government has given a six-month deadline to the committee in the hope of gaining some brownie points before the 2014 elections. The contents of the interim report are bound to create embarrassment for the government and may affect the poll outcome. Hence, the interim report has been kept under wraps. The final report is expected in June.

The report says the schemes targeted at Muslim-concentrated districts did not yield desired results due to lack of comprehensive approach of the agencies. The participation of Muslims in workforce in the formal sector continues to be low. Over 18 per cent of the educated urban Muslim youth are unemployed. However, their participation in informal sectors like construction, trade and manufacturing was higher than other religious groups. “This is because they leave education early,” said Abdul Shaban, professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and one of the members of the committee. …



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The message from speedy trials – Editorial (Mar 22, 2014, The Hindu)

If there is one message in the Mumbai Sessions Court’s judgment in the Shakti Mills gang rape cases, it is that the pervasive cynicism about the country’s criminal justice system, especially in rendering justice to victims of sexual violence, may not always be justified. The verdict of Judge Shalini S. Phansalkar-Joshi, sentencing four convicts to life terms for the gang rape of a telephone operator in the abandoned mill compound eight months ago, is noteworthy for meting out speedy justice as well as for imposing the maximum punishment available in law under the recently amended and strengthened penal provisions.

There was much shock and anger when a photo-journalist was sexually assaulted by a group of youngsters, including a juvenile, on August 22 last year. The fact that she went to the police immediately encouraged another woman, the telephone operator, to come forward and disclose that she too had been gang-raped some weeks earlier at the same spot. A key response of the government after the Delhi gang rape of December 2012 was to amend the penal provisions relating to sexual violence. The Shakti Mills episode provided an opportunity to the judiciary to make use of the provision for enhanced punishment.

It is significant that the judge has sentenced the four convicts under Section 376D, which deals with gang rape, to the maximum punishment of imprisonment for the remainder of their natural life. The sentence in the second incident involving the photo-journalist has been deferred after the prosecutor, invoking Section 376E, which provides for the death penalty for repeat offenders, demanded capital punishment. Three of the convicts participated in both the crimes, but it is debatable whether there is any case for awarding death, when life-long incarceration, which comes with the possibility of repentance and introspection, can serve the ends of justice.

There were moments in the last year or so when many believed that the national outcry since December 2012 may have been in vain, as sexual crimes continued to be reported, and no part of the country seemed safe for women. Yet, even if the larger malaise of sexual violence against women appears entrenched in society, it is of some comfort to know that there is no question of impunity. There is a fair degree of certitude now that timely complaints and disclosures would help the police to undertake a proper investigation, while public opinion and activism keep the issue alive so that the case is not derailed at the trial stage. As the Shakti Mills trials demonstrate, the way forward is in fostering trust in the system of criminal administration by efficient investigation and speedy trials.



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Money For Jobs, Impunity For Free? – By Priyanka Kaushal (Mar 8, 2014, Tehelka)

Government servants and doctors in Madhya Pradesh are running for cover. Every police personnel, lower revenue official and student who qualified to study MBBS in the state, has come under the scanner of a government instituted probe panel that is looking into a massive recruitment scam that has allegedly been running for the past nine years.

The multi-crore scam, estimated to run into nearly Rs 2,000 crore, is being compared to the Bihar Fodder Scam in its breadth and simplicity of operation. A public interest litigation in the Jabalpur Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court alleges that theMadhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) has duped lakhs of candidates by setting up proxy candidates to clear various examinations for recruitment to state government jobs. While the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led state government set up a Special Task Force (STF) to probe the allegations, he has so far refused to hand over the case to the CBI.

The PIL alleges that in the past nine years, the MPPEB has made Rs 125 crore by charging fees for 150 recruitment examinations, whose results were fixed. In 2011-12 alone, the MPPEB made Rs 83 crore by charging examination fees but jobs were given to candidates who paid bribes to politicians and other middlemen. According to the plaintiff KK Mishra, the entire scam is to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore, including Rs 500 crore made fraudulently through Pre-Medical Tests (PMT) for admission to MBBS courses. …



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Book Review

The Fiction of Fact-Finding – Modi and Godhra

Author: Manoj Mitta
Reviewed by: Amit Baruah
Available at: HarperCollins Publishers, A-53, Sector 57, Noida-201301. Rs. 599.. http://www.amazon.in/
1984 & 2002: narratives of official collusion (Mar 17, 2014, The Hindu)

Those familiar with the recent history of communal violence in India will have no trouble in placing Trilokpuri (Delhi, 1984) and Naroda Patiya (Ahmedabad, 2002) as uppermost and amongst the most brutal in the country’s poor record of protecting minorities. In a highly polarised debate, the credentials of senior editor and The Times of India journalist Manoj Mitta to write “The Fiction of Fact-Finding – Modi and Godhra” are second to none. In 2007, Mitta co-wrote “When a Tree Shook Delhi”, which the jacket of the current book says, was received as a “critically acclaimed book on fact-finding done by official agencies in the wake of the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage”. “Out of the official death toll of 2,733 in the 1984 Delhi carnage, about 400 Sikhs were estimated to have been killed in and around Block 32 [Trilokpuri]…this was close to the death toll in Ahmedabad during the 2002 riots, which was pegged at 442,” Mitta writes.

Rather than seeing a break in approach between 1984 and 2002, Mitta sees continuity in official collusion, inaction and apathy in this book, which is unsparing of the police, judiciary and civil administration. “With a death toll of ninety-six, Naroda Patiya saw the single largest massacre in 2002. While Trilokpuri is about 10 kilometres from the Delhi police commissioner’s office, Naroda Patiya is less than 5 kilometres from the office of the Ahmedabad police commissioner.” Drawing a parallel between the late Union Minister H.K.L. Bhagat’s role in Trilokpuri and that of the convicted Mayaben Kodnani, who was a BJP legislator in 2002, the author says that Kodnani’s role in Naroda Patiya was “more visible” since she “visited the scene of offence”. Though Mitta rightly focuses on 1984 and 2002 in his book, and terms the Congress as “opportunistically” communal and the BJP “ideologically” communal, one wishes his gaze had also travelled to Nellie (1983, Assam), where 2,191 people were hacked to death in a span of six hours in 14 villages on February 18, 1983.

My point in this is only to stretch the issue of impunity. Connivance is worse in acts of communal violence, but apathy on the part of those responsible for maintaining law and order leads to the same result – the death of innocents. In the Naroda Patiya killings, Mitta is critical of the trial court letting off K.K. Mysorewala, inspector from the Naroda police station. “In effect, the judge [Jyotsna Yagnik] held that in the face of mob violence, a police officer could behave in a ‘most surprising and shocking manner’, not be ‘neutral’, not take ‘even elementary and routine steps’ and avoid doing ‘investigation altogether’ and yet, believe it or not, be without a trace of ‘malice or criminality’!” Mitta believes that Yagnik’s verdict while setting a benchmark for political accountability by convicting former Minister Kodnani in a case of communal violence, “proved woefully inadequate when it came to police accountability”. “The finding on the magnitude of private firing in Naroda Patiya showed that, like in the Trilokpuri violence of 1984, the police were in cahoots with the miscreants. The trial court held that Mysorewala’s claim to have ‘done lots of police firing’ was ‘extremely doubtful’.”

Mitta also refers to another parallel between the Delhi and Gujarat killings. “For much in the spirit of Rajiv Gandhi’s tree metaphor [in 1984], Modi came up with his own Newtonian twist. He tried to pass off the post-Godhra killings as a ‘chain of action and reaction’.” The author, who devotes an entire chapter to Modi’s interrogation in the Ehsan Jafri case, takes the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to task for not asking the “right questions” to him in March 2010. “Whatever its legal infirmities, the SIT’s closure report on Jafri’s complaint has had far-reaching political implications. It served as a green signal for Modi’s transition to the national stage,” Mitta writes. The author is unsparing of the Nanavati Commission, which gave its report on the Godhra train killings in 2008, six years after it was appointed. In 2008, the Commission said it had completed the “scrutiny of the material in respect of the post-Godhra events”. However, Mitta points out that the report is still to see the light of day.

Attacking the Commission for not calling Modi to be cross-examined, he says that the Misra Commission also conducted its inquiry into the 1984 carnage without questioning Rajiv Gandhi or any other senior Congress functionary. “In contrast, three successive Chief Ministers of Maharashtra – Sudhakar Naik, Sharad Pawar and Manohar Joshi – were cross-examined before the Justice Srikrishna Commission, which probed the Bombay riots of 1992-93,” the book says. Even Gujarat Chief Minister Hitendra Desai faced a similar panel after the 1969 riots in the State. Mitta has meticulously pieced together a compelling narrative comparing State responses both after 1984 and 2002. It shows, clearly, that in the absence of aggressive accountability for communal riots and violence, the culture of impunity can only grow.