IAMC Weekly News Roundup - March 9th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 9th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Ex-bureaucrat speaks out on Gujarat riots (Mar 8, 2015, Deccan Herald)

The ghost of the 2002 riots continues to raise its ugly head despite the passage of over a decade. The latest is in the form of a book on the experiences of respected Gujarat-cadre retired IAS officer Alexander K Luke. In his 365-page book “Passport to Gujarat: Hazardous Journeys”, released recently, Luke recalls the days after the Gujarat riots in 2002. He appears to put the onus of the administrative collapse during the events more on his colleagues in the bureaucracy and the police than solely on then chief minister and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Luke writes, “No chief minister of a state, no matter how angry, would be happy to see murderous disorder on the streets, particularly when he had just taken over. Many party functionaries descended to the level of those who had set the train on fire.”

He goes on to say that the Gujarat bloodbath of 2002 “could have been blunted if the top authorities in the government had taken matters into their own hands and re-established law and order without listening to those who were emotionally unbalanced at that time”.…



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Lawyers allege life threat to blast accused Qasmi in jail (Mar 9, 2015, Times of India)

The lawyers of Tariq Qasmi, a prime accused in the 2007 Faizabad and Lucknow court blasts, have alleged that he is facing a life threat. Lodged in Lucknow Jail, Qasmi’s lawyers have accused the jail administration and Uttar Pradesh Police of conspiring his murder. They said the “murder” of another accused, Khalid Mujahid, was also a conspiracy. Mujahid was found dead in the jail in 2013 under suspicious circumstances.

According to lawyer Mohammad Shoaib, when he visited Lucknow Jail last week to meet Qasmi, he was told that the jail administration had lodged Chandan, a dreaded criminal, in Qasmi’s barrack.

“The criminal Chandan repeatedly abuses my client and keeps challenging him to react to his provocative speeches,” said Shoaib. “We have raised the issue before jail authorities but no action has been taken. We have demanded the government sacks the jail superintendent,” he added.…



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Police hand in Dimapur jailbreak suspected (Mar 8, 2015, Twocircles.net)

What can be termed as highly crucial, it is reported that Police may be complicit in the jailbreak, before the unruly mob lynched Syed Sarif Uddin Khan, the rape accused in Dimapur. Quoting high officials of home department, NDTV reported that there is a strong suspicion of ‘complicity of policemen’. The official added, “how could the mob identify Khan out of all the prisoners inside the Jail?”

Further NDTV reported that Nagaland’s Inspector General (Range) Wabang Jamir as saying, “We are in the process of identifying more people and we can expect several more arrests in the coming days. The situation is tense, but under control. Curfew is still on and there is no movement of vehicles or people”. On Sunday the last rites of Syed Sarif Uddin Khan were performed in the presence of hundreds at his hometown Bosla in Karimganj district. “This is a horrific day covered with sorrow for all of us. It was a black day for humanity,” said Mustak, a neigbour, who attended the janaza.

In the morning several thousand people thronged the road leading to his home. Ever since the news of Khan’s killing was out, the entire region was in utter shock. “We have suffered a lot in the hands of Naga miscreants. It has become difficult for us to survive in Dimapur. At this moment the governments of the both states should have to take stern action to ensure safety and security,” said a businessman from Karimganj who is based in Dimapur. He also did not wish to be named in this report fearing he might be attacked.…



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Indian State Bans Possession and Sale of Beef (Mar 3, 2015, New York Times)

The state that includes Mumbai, India’s financial capital, this week became the latest state to ban the possession and sale of beef, imposing fines and up to five years in prison for violations. The ban in the populous western state of Maharashtra, which was passed Monday, came as an amendment to a 1972 law prohibiting the slaughter of cows, which has been expanded to ban the slaughter of bulls, bullocks and calves. The slaughter of water buffaloes will still be allowed, subject to permission from the authorities.

The Maharashtra Animal Preservation bill, championed by right-wing Hindu organizations, was first passed in 1995 but languished for two decades under a governing coalition between the Indian National Congressand the Nationalist Congress Party. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was the clear winner in state elections last October after Narendra Modi, the party’s leader, took office as prime minister in May.

The law, which allows a fine of 10,000 rupees, about $162, took effect Monday night after approval from India’s president, Pranab Mukherjee. Maharashtra’s chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, gave the president credit and expressed his thanks over Twitter.…



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‘Modi Govt. encouraging Hindutva forces, corporates’ (Mar 4, 2015, The Hindu)

The Communist Party of India (CPI) has flayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government at the Centre for encouraging ‘Hindutva forces’ and ‘corporate houses’.

CPI general secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy charged the NDA with doling out largesse to the corporate houses in the name of reduction of taxes and other incentives. At the same time, the recent budget introduced in the Lok Sabha was devoid of any measures to alleviate the sufferings of the common man.

The budget had presented a rosy picture for the corporate houses in the name of tax rebates and other incentives while “there is nothing in it for the common man”. Allocations for key sectors including welfare, handlooms and others had been significantly cut down while there was no mention about steps on checking the spiralling rise in the prices of essentials.…



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Case filed against Bajrang Dal leader for ‘defaming’ minister (Mar 9, 2015, Business Standard)

The Bantwal town police have registered a case against a local Bajrang Dal leader for allegedly defaming Dakshina Kannada district-in-charge Minister Ramanath Rai by posting a photo, in which he is donning a saffron shawl, on a social networking site.

Police said that a case was registered under section 66 (A) of the IPC (spreading offensive comments through internet) against Bhuvit Shetty, Bantwal unit co-convenor of Bajrang Dal based on a complaint from an individual, Prashant Kulal.

The photo posted on Shetty’s facebook wall received derogatory comments, which according to the complainant defamed Rai.…



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Muslim body objects to making ‘surya namaskar’ mandatory in schools (Mar 9, 2015, India Today)

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has claimed that the BJP-led NDA government in the Centre was preparing to make ‘surya namaskar’ mandatory in the schools which would be unacceptable to the Muslim community.

They will take up this issue in the meeting of the board to be held in Jaipur from March 20 to March 23. The board, which is the highest decision maker panel within the Muslim community, has also decided to discuss the issues related to the demand of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) to ban religious conversion and allow the Hindu organisations to continue with their ‘ghar wapsi’ (home coming) programme.

Zafaryab Jilani, a member of the AIMPLB and additional advocate general of UP, said, “We have no problem if the government introduces Geeta in school curriculum if there are references of Quran too in text books. But we have problem if they want to introduce Surya Namaskar. It may not be acceptable to our religious leaders in particular and the members of the community in general.”



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BJP, RSS, VHP flayed for ‘stoking religious hatred’ (Mar 9, 2015, Times of India)

Cavelossim Villagers Forum (CVF) organized a candlelight protest to condemn the comments made by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Mohan Bhagwat against Mother Teresa. While exhorting people to maintain religious harmony, various speakers denounced the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for promoting religious hatred.

“BJP has a hidden agenda of eliminating Christianity from Goa,” Fr Eremito Rebello said, while speaking at the end of the protest march.

Rebello, who was born in Cavelossim, went on to explain that religious harmony in Goa, which has existed for ages, was at stake because of the RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) antics.…



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Over 30,000 people in Gujarat committed suicide in 5 years (Mar 9, 2015, Business Standard)

The Gujarat government today stated in the Assembly that as on March 2013, more than 30,000 people committed suicide across the state in five years.

Replying to a question of Congress MLA Tejashree Patel, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who handles the home department, stated in a written reply that 30,489 people ended their lives between 2008-13, adding that 2,529 people attempted to commit suicide during the same period.

Figures provided by her suggested that 6,181 people ended their lives in 2008-09, 5,779 people killed themselves in 2009-10, 5,787 people took their lives in 2010-11, 6,134 killed themselves in 2011-12 and 6,608 people ended their lives during 2012-13.…



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On rape, ‘outraged’ politicians have been outrageous in past (Mar 6, 2015, Indian Express)

On Wednesday, many MPs were agitated over a documentary which shows one of the convicts in the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape making “outrageous” remarks. But this collective outrage does not fit well with the past statements on rape made by many elected representatives.

From Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s “boys make mistakes” quip to JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav’s smiling confession in the Lok Sabha about having stalked girls – political leaders have been guilty of insensitivity that goes beyond mere gaffe.

In April 2014, addressing an election rally in Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav had told a cheering crowd, “You are hanging people for rape… Boys tend to commit mistakes.We will try to change such a law. Those who do it will be punished and the law will also have provisions for punishment of people who file false reports.”…



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Opinions and Editorials

Mob (in)justice In Dimapur – By Parvin Sultana (Mar 8, 2015, Countercurrents)

Dimapur is regarded as the business capital of Nagaland, a state in the Northeastern region of India. This small town was jolted by a series of horrific incidents that took place on 5th March, 2015. A man accused of raping a college student was murdered by a mob. Videos of the 35 year old Syed Farid Khan being paraded naked and beaten to death became viral. His lifeless blood drenched body was then hanged.

A cursory look at the incident would make one feel that it is the justified outrage against the heinous crime of rape. But if one delves deeper one can see some other factors being at play. The accused is a Bengali speaking Muslim from the neighbouring state of Assam. Stories of him being an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh was doing the rounds. Ironically two of his brothers are serving in the Indian Army hence disproving these accusations. His father served in the Indian Air Force and one of his brothers lost life in the Kargil war. But the damage was already done. Despite being aware of the growing tension, administration did not put to rest such suspicions rather expressed their own doubt regarding the person’s nationality. …

In a shameful failure of law and order situation, the security apparatus failed to anticipate such an attack when 10,000 people barged into the high security Dimapur Central Jail.… The failure of the administration has emboldened the perpetrators of such vigilante justice. Leaving the women’s safety issue on the backburner they have turned their ire to people from other states who are there for their livelihood. While the murdered person’s brother accused that his brother was made a scapegoat, the incident needs to be seen closely.…



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Gujarat’s “turnaround man” blames IAS colleagues for failing to act by constitution during 2002 riots – By Rajiv Shah (Mar 4, 2015, Counterview.net)

A Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat with impeccable reputation, Alexander K Luke – termed “turnaround man” by captains of industry across India in mid-2000s for pushing top public sector undertaking (PSU) Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals (GSFC) from the red – has held the state’s “top administrative level” responsible for failing to act impartially during the “2002 Gujarat bloodbath.”

In a just-released book he has authored, Luke has said, had the police and IAS officials “held firm and did what they were required to do by the constitution”, a collapse of the administration “could have been avoided.” Luke headed GSFC from 2003 to 2006. Luke was forced to resign from the IAS two years before he was to retire (2008) after he refused to follow an order to allow concession to a contractor. He recalls in the book how he was humiliated in an official report, and how the then chief minister Narendra Modi accepted his resignation without waiting three-day he had offered him to “rethink.”…

In a first-ever account by an IAS bureaucrat of state officialdom’s behaviour during those tumultuous days, Luke in his autobiographical book, “Passport to Gujarat: Hazardous Journeys”, has recalled how three days after the riots hit Gujarat, February 28, 2002, he approached the then Gujarat chief secretary G Subbarao offering his services for the relief camps which were being set-up for the victims of violence.”…



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The reinvention of Hindutva – By Arvind Rajagopal (Mar 4, 2015, The Hindu)

…In the Hindu tradition, reality is beyond words and the truth has no essence. There is, in fact, no religious doctrine as such to challenge. Hinduism as conjured for the political process today surpasses dialectical materialism; it is the most expansive ‘philosophical system’ conceivable. In such a context, the category of religion presents an opportunity rather than a problem: to be “Hindu” is an artefact of publicity rather than an expression of ancient mores. It is no surprise that Arun Jaitley has stated that Hindu nationalism is an opportunistic issue for the BJP, a “talking point” rather than a core ideology. …

Political authority is the end towards which this new kind of religious identity is created, applicable across caste groupings that not long ago were excluded, prominently the former Untouchable castes that constitute about a quarter of the population. No previous party has come to power by excluding Muslims so completely. Meanwhile the situation of Muslims has steadily worsened over the last 30 years.

The exclusion of Muslims from political visibility is accompanied by the increasing political visibility of Dalits. The new basis for Hindu unification is the exclusion of Muslims, alongside the formal subsumption of Dalits. The register of exclusion shifts in the process, from untouchability to invisibility. Media expansion enables more coordinated and extensive forms of exclusion than were previously imaginable; political dynamics have both anticipated this development and furthered it. If Hindu populism is to deepen its democratic character, these are issues for it to reckon with.…



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When Corporates Take Control Of Media: Bad News In Good Days – By Anurag Tripathi (Mar 14, 2015, Tehelka)

Pankaj Srivastava could have resisted sending the SMS message that cost his job but for his convictions as a journalist. An Associate Editor with IBN7 for seven years, Srivastava on 21 January sent a message to Sumit Awasthi, deputy managing editor of the channel, reminding him of journalistic ethics. …

Within three hours of sending the message, Srivastava was summoned by the Human Resource department of the channel and was summarily asked to resign. He refused to budge. Srivastava told Tehelka that Awasthi, after reading the message, had asked him to put in his papers and find a new job. “I refused to resign and insisted that I would rather be sacked,” says Srivastava. He says that he had been constantly opposing the alleged bias news coverage of the channel and its policy to black out Kejriwal in its coverage of Delhi elections.…

“When RIL took over last year, a Town Hall meeting presided over by Rohit Bansal, an executive of RIL, and Upadhyay, president of News at Network 18, was orgsanised, where it was made very clear that we shouldn’t air any live speeches of any AAP representative,” says Srivastava. He adds that there were standing instructions to not air any story which would bring bad press to RIL and Narendra Modi.…

The account of the pain and anguish over censorship of news tells a tale of how a journalist feels choked and stifled when he is given clear instruction to toe the line of owners and eulogise ‘masters’ of the master.…



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Political beef – Editorial (Mar 6, 2015, Indian Express)

It may be no exaggeration to say that beef has featured more in India’s politics than in its cuisine. The Hindu right has always found meat in the demand to ban beef, discounting the perilous social and economic impact of meddling with food habits and preferences in a multi-religious and multicultural society. The latest to join issue with beef is the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra, which dusted up a bill the state assembly had passed 19 years ago and got President Pranab Mukherjee to sign earlier this week.…

The obsession with beef is a leftover of the communal politics of the last two centuries, when food was a marker of the religious divide and served as a pretext to mobilise communities. Historians have emphatically demolished the cultural-religious argument that beef-eating was alien to Hindus and was the import of Muslim rule.

Moreover, migration and urbanisation have transformed the eating habits of Indians. Mumbai, a melting pot of cultures and communities, best symbolises this transformation. The Fadnavis government, instead of celebrating the diversity in Maharashtra cuisine, has revived a regressive legislation that negates its multi-religious character and distorts its agrarian economy. A direct outcome of the act is that it would now become economically unviable for farmers to rear cows.…



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Act of cowardice – By Lyla Bavadam (Mar 20, 2015, Frontline)

Senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and rationalist Govind Pansare, 82, died in Mumbai on February 20, five days after he was shot at in Kolhapur. He and his wife, Uma, were out on a walk in the morning when they were shot at, near their Kolhapur home. The exact details of the incident are unclear because of a lack of credible witnesses, but some say there were two attackers on a motorcycle who shot at the couple.…

Through his career he had ruffled many feathers and so there is no dearth of suspects for his murder. His most recent and consistent campaigns were battling toll tax on road users in Kolhapur, breaking down myths about Nathuram Godse that were being perpetuated by right-wing forces, and revealing what he believed was the truth about the killing of Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare. All these crusades earned him enemies, and over the years he had received threats in various forms. It is understood that the police are investigating a threatening letter.

In December 2014, Pansare organised a function at a public hall in Kolhapur to discuss the book Who killed Karkare?. Written by the retired police officer S.M. Mushrif, the book speaks of the possibility of Karkare being killed by Indian agencies because he arrested Hindu nationalists in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blasts. There were attempts to stop the event, but Pansare went ahead with it.…



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