IAMC Weekly News Roundup - March 30th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 30th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Custodial death of Shaikh Hyder, A blot on the face of Telangana: Facting Finding Report (Mar 28, 2015, Milli Gazette)

Fact finding team comprising Lateef Mohd. Khan, Ashala Srinivas, Kaneez Fathima, Adv. Greeshma Rai, Adv. Mohd. Ismail Khan, Adv. Kausar Shaik, Charan K.S., Rahul Thal visited Nizamabad district to find out the details of custodial death of a Muslim youth Shaikh Hyder, a daily wage labourer who died in the town-1 police station of Nizamabad district of Telangana state. …

As per the statement of family members on 21st March 2015, Saturday Shaikh Hyder went to the labour adda (a place where labourers gather at one place) at Ahmedi Bazar at 9 am. At 11 am father received information from some local person that his elder son is taken away by the ID party (Intelligence Department) of Nizamabad 1 town police, then again received a call at 2pm asking them to come to police station and take their son as he got injured. On this sister Ajmeri Begum and younger brother Shaikh Ahmed went to town-1 police station and inquired about their brother. …

She further said, ‘after half an hour, two policemen brought Hyder dragging, he seemed to be lifeless, we didn’t know whether he was alive or not and another policeman called an auto and sent three of us to government hospital’. Doctor at this hospital examined Hyder and said, ‘you have brought him very late, if you had brought one hour earlier, I would have done something to save his life, why did you wait till heavy bleeding, now you take him to Gandhi hospital, Hyderabad’. Ajmeri Begum said, she observed that her brother was not moving an inch, his feet sole were torn badly. Then she called her father to the hospital. …



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Row in Chattisgarh Assembly over RSS membership for govt. staff (Mar 26, 2015, The Hindu)

Uproarious scenes were witnessed in the Chhattisgarh Assembly on Wednesday after Congress MLAs sought a discussion on the State government’s decision permitting employees to join the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and participate in its activities. Congress MLA Amit Jogi and Satyanarayan Sharma raised the issue in the House and demanded a discussion under Rule 131 of the Assembly.

“If the government makes changes in rules and allows its employees to be a part of an organisation, there should be a discussion. The government has allowed its employees to join the RSS. You cannot call the RSS a non-political organisation,” said Mr. Jogi.

However, when the Speaker refused permission for an immediate discussion, the Congress MLAs walked out of the House in protest shouting slogans of “bhaghawakaran band karo ” (stop saffronisation of administration).…



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Hashimpura masscre acquittal result of “deliberate, shoddy” investigation (Mar 27, 2015, Counterview)

The largest incident of custodial killing which took place in Hashimpura (UP) in 1987, in which officers of the notorious Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) shot dead 42 persons from the Muslim community and sought to destroy the evidence, has resulted in the acquittal of all the 16 accused because of “the deliberately lackadaisical and shoddy investigation”, alleges Vibhuti Narain Rai, retired officer of the Indian Police Force (IPS) in a video interview.

“Worse still, successive governments since 1987, over 20 years, belonging to different political parties, were never interested in punishing the guilty”, Rai has contended. “The sight that met my eyes the night of May 22, 1987 is something forever embedded in my psyche,” says Rai, adding, “Language is a very poor substitute for thought. Bodies lying half dead, fully dead, on the banks, flowing in the canal… Every step I took I was scared I would step on someone’s head or limb. One lone survivor, Babuddin, recounted the horror to us in an eye-witness account.”

Based on the incident, Rai’s research work, “Communal Bias in the Police Machinery”, was first published in the journal “Communalism Combat” (February 1995) saw an interesting twist. The government, which first allowed him to carry out the research while in service, disowned the work. Now, he is in the process of coming up with a new book on the subject, which would be “a repayment of a debt that has weighed heavily” on his conscience since the dark night of May 22, 1987, he says.…



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Babri Masjid demolition case: SC issues notice to BJP leader L K Advani, 19 others (Mar 31, 2015, Times of India)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought responses from senior BJP leader L K Advani and others on a plea against dropping of criminal conspiracy charge against them in the Babri mosque demolition case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu issued notices to the BJP leader and the CBI on a separate plea filed by Haji Mahboob Ahmad, one of the petitioners in the Babri mosque case. Ahmad, in his plea, has alleged that CBI may dilute its stand in the wake of the change in the government at the Centre.

The apex court was hearing the CBI’s appeal challenging 2010 Allahabad high court verdict discharging of LK Advani and 19 other senior leaders of BJP and Hindu outfits the charges of criminal conspiracy in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.…



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Beware of draconian counter-terrorism measures, cautions NHRC chief (Mar 29, 2015, Times of India)

While terrorism needs to be condemned unequivocally, draconian counter-terrorist measures, including draconian laws, are matters of concern, said chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and former chief justice of India Justice K G Balakrishnan on Sunday.

Addressing a gathering of judges, lawyers and law students attending a conference on international terrorism in Mumbai, Justice Balakrishnan said anti-terrorist laws had put a large number of people in jail without trial and conviction. “It is a matter of worry,” he said.

Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, Chief justice of Bangladesh, said his country always supported global war against terrorism, but its ability to combat terrorism was undermined by weak institutions, porous borders and limited law enforcement capacity.…



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US seeks time to file dismissal motion on RSS lawsuit (Mar 26, 2015, Hindustan Times)

The United States government on Tuesday asked more time from a New York court to file a motion seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit demanding RSS be named a terrorist organization. The suit, by Sikhs for Justice, an outfit that has filed a slew of India-related cases in US courts, seeks a court order instructing secretary of state John Kerry to name RSS a terror outfit.

And the court should issue an order doing so itself. The government was scheduled to file a response to the suit, moved by Sikhs for Justice in January on Tuesday. But it filed a motion seeking more time. “In lieu of an answer, the government intends to move to dismiss the Complaint,” said the motion filed by US attorney for southern district of New York Preet Bharara.

In the event this request is granted, the government would consent to any reasonable deadline for the filing of opposition papers that plaintiff’s counsel would propose. The lawsuit, which named Kerry as a defendant in his capacity as secretary of state, said RSS should renamed a “foreign terrorist organization” for “believing in and practicing a fascist ideology and for running a passionate, vicious and violent campaign to turn India into a ‘Hindu’ nation with a homogenous religious and cultural identity”.…



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Attacks on minority religious places sullying India image: NHRC chief (Mar 28, 2015, Indian Express)

Stating that attacks on religious places of minority communities “sully the image of India” and send “a wrong message” to the international community, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan has asked the government to deal with such incidents swiftly and strictly.

Asked about the attacks on churches and the ‘ghar wapasi’ reconversion campaign of right-wing Hindu organisations, Balakrishnan, a former Chief Justice of India, said: “These should not happen. It sends a wrong message to the international community about our country. People think bad about India, especially since this country has a great track record of maintaining its secular tradition. This was the case even before the word secularism was added to our Constitution. Everyone must feel secure.”

“If there is any instance where an Indian feels insecure because he belongs to a particular community or an institution associated with his community is under attack, it will create a wrong impression about India internationally.”…



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Shocking! Mob Ties A Noose Around The Neck Of This Cow Trader And Makes Him Utter ‘Jai Shri Ram’ (Mar 27, 2015, India Times)

Modi might have said that his Government would not allow any religious group belonging to a majority or a minority to incite hatred, but things in India are far from over.

The ban on beef by the Maharashtra government has already kicked off a huge country-wide rage, this was made even worse when Haryana (another BJP ruled state) decided to follow suit. The latest twist into the ban of beef is the video which has been going viral.

The video allegedly features a Muslim cow trader who was trading cows for his hindu employer. It shows him tied to an electric pole and surrounded by a fundamentalist mob which is thrashing him and inciting him to utter Jai Shri Ram.



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Modi Cabinet “handed over” Rs 144 crore prime Ahmedabad land for Rs 4 lakh (Mar 28, 2015, Counterview.net)

If documents released to the media are any indication, the Gujarat government has handed over a precious plot of land, estimated to be costing Rs 144.50 crore, to a private company, S E Transstadia of Mumbai at a throw away price of Rs 4.02 lakh in order to build for “setting up a massive multipurpose sports stadium and recreation complex in Ahmedabad” on a prime land.

The “recreation complex” is to supposed to involve hotels, restaurants and shopping centres, apart from the sports complex. The plot of land once housed the collapsed Abad Dairy, and is situated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s previous assembly constituency, Maninagar.

The land was handed over despite the fact that the Gujarat government’s industries and mines department prepared a Cabinet note on March 18, 2011, quoting the opinion of the revenue and finance department, which said that the “valuation committee in its meeting on July 6, 2010 fixed rate of Rs 38,650 per sq metres”, adding, “Accordingly the cost of 37,388 sq metres of land works out to be Rs 144.50 crore”.…



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Government firm on opposing dalit tag for converts (Mar 30, 2015, Times of India)

The Centre has decided to oppose the demand for dalit status for “converts” to Christianity and Islam, arguing that only Hinduism recognized “caste system” and “untouchability” that led to the creation of a special category called Scheduled Castes.

An interesting reason cited to red-flag the demand is that the Constitution provides reservation in legislatures to dalits and tribals to “compensate for the social injustice” suffered by them over centuries and extending this benefit to converts would impinge on the rights of SCs/STs.

While the move was expected after social justice minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot made the government stance plain in an interview to TOI on October 10 last year, it is now learnt that his ministry detailed reasons to the Union law ministry to oppose in Supreme Court the petition seeking SC status for converts.…



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Opinions and Editorials

A Horror Compounded – Editorial (Mar 28, 2015, EPW)

The Hashimpura verdict after 28 years is salt in an open wound. It stands out as India’s worst case of custodial deaths since independence. And now it has earned the distinction of joining a longlist of similar cases that lay bare the fault lines in India’s criminal justice system. On 22 May 1987, 42 Muslim men, the majority of them weavers and daily wage labourers from the locality of Hashimpura in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh (UP), were picked up from their homes. Meerut had witnessed communal riots in the previous months and the army and police had been called in to conduct a combing operation. The men were loaded into trucks by the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), taken outside the city towards the Delhi–Ghaziabad border, pushed off the trucks and shot dead. …

It is inconceivable that with testimonies such as those of a senior police officer who found the murdered men and the personal testimonies of five survivors of the killings, that a strong case could not have been assembled. Furthermore, there is simply no excuse for the state government’s inability to determine who was the officer in charge on that night who ordered the killings, who were the men on duty that night who fired the shots, and the weapons they used. One can only conclude that the state never intended for the truth to be uncovered and actively worked to ensure that the investigation was shoddy so that there would be insufficient evidence to prosecute any of the accused.

Today, 28 years later, a horror that stands out for its brutality has been compounded by this travesty of justice and systemic failure of the criminal justice system. The failure is not just of one case but of an entire system and the way it works. If there is any lesson to be drawn from the Hashimpura verdict, it is that not only is justice denied when it is so inexcusably delayed, but that this happens because there is no serious intent to fight for justice on the part of those representing the victims. And for the survivors and families of victims in Hashimpura, it is like rubbing salt in an open wound.



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Gujarat 2002 riots to Hashimpura massacre: Why we must not forget – By Rajdeep Sardesai (Mar 25, 2015, Dailyo.in)

I am often asked why I keep reminding viewers/readers/ netizens of 2002 Gujarat. “Look beyond it, the world has changed,” I am helpfully reminded. Yes, indeed it has. And I am happy to report the new, changing India. When I wrote 2014: The Election that Changed India, a friend asked me why I hadn’t written more on my experiences of covering the 2002 riots: I reminded him that this book was about the elections of 2014 and how Narendra Modi won them. 2002 was part of the narrative, but was not the dominant issue because, yes, India had “moved on” at the ballot box.

It’s so easy to “move on” isn’t it when you haven’t suffered, haven’t seen the death of your near and dear ones, haven’t witnessed the uprooting from your homes. Yesterday, I met some of the families of the victims of the 1987 Hashimpura massacre. In the history of mass crimes driven by communal hatred in this country, Hashimpura is a little dot: 42 Muslims were shot dead. Don’t forget 3,000 Sikhs were killed in Delhi 1984, nearly a 1,000 people died in the post Ayodhya riots in 1992-93, and more than a 1,000 died in Gujarat 2002. Yes, there have been other terrible crimes along the way too: Kokrajhar, Bhagalpur, Nellie, Wandhama, Muzaffarnagar, and many more. Each time, innocent lives have been lost in the politics of hate and violence. And each time, there is little justice.

The Hashimpura families I met were poor Muslim artisans, struggling to keep body and soul together. For 27 years they have been knocking the doors of justice. This weekend, the door was shut on them when a court ruled that not a single accused policeman would be convicted because of lack of evidence. Think about it: 42 people are killed in cold blood, and no one is held guilty. We outraged when we were told no one killed Jessica; will we outrage when we are told now that no one killed 42 Indian citizens? Or is Hashimpura too far away from our metropolitan imagination for us to bother? Must these families pay the price for their anonymity? UP was ruled by the Congress when Hashimpura happened. Since then, the state has seen governments of the SP, BSP, BJP: Nothing has changed. Truth is, when it comes to mass crimes, every government has blood on its hands. Which is why we must never forget and keep reminding ourselves of the past, if only to ensure justice is done in the future.…



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Sangh Parivar is ‘fringe’ element no more – By Praful Bidwai (Mar 27, 2015, Free Press Journal)

…Christian institutions have come under vicious attack especially since RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat accused Mother Teresa a month ago of using charitable work as a cover for religious conversion. In Delhi, five churches have been attacked in nine weeks, and two convents broken into. A 71-year-old nun was raped in West Bengal and a church was vandalised in Hisar in Haryana.…

The RSS believes that with the BJP in power with a majority, it has a unique opportunity to mainstream itself by capturing social and state institutions – not piecemeal, but comprehensively-and by opening up issues long considered settled, such as Hinduism’s socio-cultural primacy, religious conversion, etc, which will help it redefine India as a Hindu society. It needs the support of state power to do this and grow. So it will back the BJP’s strongly pro-corporate neoliberal economic policies. The BJP, in turn, will give the Parivar a good deal of freedom to push its ultraconservative-sectarian social agenda. That’s why Modi has done nothing to restrain the Parivar, barring issuing a weak, vague statement against inciting religious hatred.

The Parivar is no ‘fringe’; it’s now an almost equal partner of the BJP. The plain truth is, despite the strenuous efforts of some confused, and some very devious, elements to give it an aura of semi-respectability, the BJP remains an extremist party, with a hardline, expansionist, proselytising agenda. Its Hindu-supremacism is a menace to democracy.



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Out of my mind: Being a Hindu – By Meghnad Desai (Mar 29, 2015, Indian Express)

There is joy in heaven when even one sinner repents. So goes the Christian prayer. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad may not be best placed to be greeted as a Christian sinner, but the good news is that it has repented. It has finally discovered that the curse of untouchability may have been the reason Dalits preferred to abandon the Sanatana Dharma and migrate to other more egalitarian religions. Who needs ‘ghar wapsi’ if the ghar you are being invited back to treats you like dirt?

No one should be surprised that many Dalits left Hinduism. Indeed the puzzle is that so many remained. There is a fundamental misunderstanding among the champions of Hindu nationalism. We are constantly told that Hindu religion is so tolerant that secularism is in its very spirit. You don’t need to contrast a secular India with a Hindu India. This tolerance is something of a myth, but not too far from the truth.

Hindu religion may be tolerant, but Hindu society is intolerant and inegalitarian. One may admire the contemplation of Advaita, but then how can one reconcile the contempt for the Shudra and the ati-Shudra with the assertion of a universal abstract Brahman? Hindu society mistreats the majority of its people. Even the Bhagavad Gita displays this prejudice when it contrasts the “virtues” of the two upper Varnas with the “mundane character” of Vaishyas and Shudras (Adhyaya 18, shloka 41-48). For all the spirituality and loftiness of the Vedas and Upanishads, the unassailable facts were of inhuman treatment of Dalit men and even more so of their women, who were treated as sex objects. Shudras did not do better. The Bahujan, the majority, were the losers in Hindu society.…



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Free speech or howl of brute majority? – By Olav Albuquerque (Mar 24, 2015, Free Press Journal)

Freedom of speech in India has today degenerated into the brute howl of majoritarianism, led by BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy, who asserted that God dwelt neither in churches nor mosques but only in temples, thereby indirectly giving legitimacy to utterances such as those of VHP leader Surendra Jain, who tried to defend the rape of a 72-year-old nun by saying it was Christian culture to sexually exploit nuns.…

By that yardstick, the action of former BJP chief L K Advani, who led a rath yatra which culminated in the Babri Masjid demolition of 1992, precipitating widespread riots throughout India should have been held seditious as are the inflammatory words of Subramaniam Swamy. But both of them are left unscathed. Freedom is for the majority, get it? The minority can go hang themselves.…

Today, that freedom is exercised vociferously by the saffron brigade by rewriting school textbooks to create a new generation who will believe that civilisation began with Hindutva and those who are not Hindus are enemies of the state.



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India: Celebrating “Internet Freedom” In A Country Known For Custodial Killings? – By Samar (Mar 27, 2015, Countercurrents)

The Supreme Court’s scrapping of Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act for being “unconstitutional in entirety” is indeed a great moment in the life of the democracy. The Act did, in fact, invade citizenry’s right of free speech “arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately”. However, is this really a moment to celebrate in the life of a republic whose criminal justice system is rotten to the core? Will it really lead to any exercise of freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, in a land where ordinary citizens fear the police more than the criminals?

Writing a discordant note in times of celebration for something “hard won” by the civil society is not an easy task. Putting things in perspective in the middle of euphoric celebrations can come across as a dirty task. But not all seemingly dirty tasks are dirty indeed, especially at a time when the country has been pushed into a Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission by its prime minister. …

It is in this context that the current scrapping of Section 66 A is welcome, in principle, but will not change much on the ground. It would be cathartic at best; it will let some citizens criticize the system for failing them on the Internet, and allow the same citizens to miss the elephant in the room when they are offline: the rot that surrounds their closest police station.



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