IAMC Weekly News Roundup - May 11th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 11th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Gujarat judge Jyotsana who convicted Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi gets 22 threat letters (May 11, 2015, Indian Express)

Jyotsana Yagnik, the special judge who convicted and handed life terms to former Gujarat minister and BJP leader Maya Kodnani, former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 30 others in the 2002 massacre of 97 Muslims in Naroda Patiya, has received at least 22 threat letters and “blank phone calls” at her home since the August 2012 verdict.

Sixty-two-year-old Yagnik, who has since retired, has informed the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) about the threat letters and phone calls. Her security cover has been scaled down to Y category from the Z-plus she was granted as Principal City Civil and Sessions Judge in Ahmedabad and she is said to have taken up the matter with the government.

Sources said Yagnik, who retired a few months after the Naroda Patiya massacre case verdict, has been receiving these letters – most are anonymous but one carries the letterhead of a private organisation. In the letters, she has been threatened over the verdict in the massacre case, the sources said, adding that she has also been receiving “blank phone calls” at night. Worried about her safety and that of her family, Yagnik informed the SIT.…



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Media became Modi’s cheerleaders instead of analysing his politics: Rajdeep Sardesai (May 9, 2015, Muslim Mirror)

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi intelligently used media as he understood the importance of the prime time to penetrate the psyche of masses”, said noted journalist Mr Rajdeep Sardesai, Consultant Editor, TV Today while delivering the University Extension Lecture at the Aligarh Muslim University Polytechnic Auditorium today. He spoke on “Have the 2014 elections really changed India?”.

Mr. Sardesai pointed out that “media became Modi’s cheerleaders instead of analysing his politics”. He said that BJP’s biggest success was in making the 2014 election truly presidential, allowing Modi to set the pace and the agenda. “What is also true is that the media, especially TV, lost its capacity to seriously interrogate the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate’s leadership credentials. Modi’s fabled Gujarat-Model was never tested on the ground,” said Mr Sardesai who added that earlier voters in India used to elect Members of Parliament and Legislative Assembly, it was only this time that we voted for the prime minister candidate. He confessed that by believing in what Modi was saying, media became a part of Modi propaganda machine.…

Mr Sardesai further drew a panoramic picture of the year that changed India by giving the reasons of Modi’s triumph. “One of the biggest reasons which helped Modi achieve this success was that for the first time the elections were fought on Television screens.” However, Mr Sardesai argued that the media did not create the Modi wave as many tend to believe but the media merely rode the Modi wave.…



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BJP, RSS trying to replace India’s secular traditions with “neo-fascist” system: Left (May 9, 2015, zee News)

Left parties on Saturday accused the BJP and RSS of trying to replace India’s secular traditions with “neo-fascist” system and “copying” what Hitler did 70 years ago. The CPI(M) and CPI today jointly celebrated here 70th anniversary of Victory Day – defeat of Nazi Germany by erstwhile Soviet Union during the Second World War.

Addressing the event, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the BJP and RSS of trying to bring in a “neo-fascist” system in the India replacing secular democratic republic of the country, “copying” what Hitler did 70 years ago.

“The rise of fascism required spreading hatred amongst majority against minorities. Hitler imbibed such hatred against Jews amongst Aryans. Consolidating Aryans, he created base of fascism. “Similar process is being followed in our country. In the place of Jews, there are minorities. Spreading hatred against minorities and consolidating Hindus and playing their politics. This is a complete copy of fascism. They want to finish the democratic republic and bring neo-fascist system in present condition,” he alleged.…



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A Muslim ‘terror accused’ tells his account of frame-up and torture (May 9, 2015, Hindustan Times)

At a simple ceremony on Friday, Abdul Qayyum – a madrassa teacher from Gujarat – unveiled in New Delhi a book the Gujarat police wouldn’t allow him to launch in his home state.…

Brave the dead-eyed prose, and the reader is left with a rare, haunting account of a presumed terrorist on death row declared innocent in the end. Astounding still is how innocent Muslims can be witch-hunted, framed and put on trial on terror charges.…

Qayyum lived to tell his story: ’11 Years Behind Bars’, an autobiography that reveals a shocking case of intrigue, ruse, torture and devious framing, swerving the spotlight on some of India’s questionable anti-terror operations.…



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Stop targeting Teesta Setalvad, 30 MPs tell Rajnath Singh (May 10, 2015, Times of India)

More than 30 MPs belonging to both Houses of Parliament have written to home minister Rajnath Singh expressing concern at the alleged ‘targeting’ of activist Teesta Setalvad and her organization.

Calling it an attempt to “silence the voice of justice for victims of the Gujarat riots 2002”, the MPs said Setalvad has “determinedly fought legal battles for the victims and against those who perpetrated the violence”.

The signatories to the petition … said it is “public knowledge” that it is due to Setalvad and her team of dedicated lawyers that the “perpetrators of the riots including then ministers in the Gujarat government have been brought to book”.…



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Appointment Of Justice Sathasivam Will Compromise Autonomous Status Of NHRC Says PUCL (May 6, 2015, Countercurrents)

Our National President, Prof. Prabhakar Sinha, has already sent a representation to you requesting you not to give your consent to the appointment of Justice Mr. P. Sathasivam (presently Governor of Kerala) as Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, if such a recommendation is made to you for your approval. … Prof. Sinha has given ample and justifiable reasons in support of his view as to why such an appointment, if it is made, will be contrary to the law, democratic ethic and the spirit of the Indian Constitution and the Protection of Human Rights.…

As the PUCL National President, Prof. Sinha, points out, how will ordinary citizens have confidence in the impartiality, fairness, objectivity and independence of a person who owes his current position as Governor of a state to the pleasure of the ruling Central Government? When such a person, who is seen as being close to the ruling dispensation and Government, is appointed to head the NHRC, not only will the appointment be seen as tainted but it will also affect the very integrity, credibility and authority of the institution meant to protect violation of the human rights of citizens.

It needs no emphasis that some of the biggest violators of human rights are state agencies. Following his retirement, Justice Sathasivam’s act of accepting the office of the Governor, with its terms and conditions being dishonourable for a former Chief Justice of India, has destroyed the confidence of the people that such a person may ever stand up to his erstwhile master to protect their human rights.…



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CBI court rejects bail plea of two senior cops in Sadiq Jamal fake encounter case (May 11, 2015, Indian Express)

A special CBI court on Monday rejected the bail applications of two policemen who are lodged in Sabarmati Central Jail in connection with the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter case. The duo had allegedly shot at Sadiq in a fake encounter in 2003 in Ahmedabad.…

The CBI opposed their bail applications stating that the duo pumped several bullets into Sadiq in the fake encounter. The CBI had said, “During the said stage-managed encounter, five rounds were fired by accused J G Parmar and six rounds were fired by co-accused Irshad Ali Saiyed. Two bullets were recovered from Sadiq Jamal’s body during post-mortem, one of the bullets had been fired from the service revolver of JG Parmar as opined by the ballistic experts.”

Sadiq, who was killed in January 2003 in a fake police encounter, was branded as a terrorist who had plans to kill the then chief minister Narendra Modi and VHP leader Pravin Togadia to avenge 2002 post-Godhra riots.…



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Indians in Qatar concerned over communal incitement (May 11, 2015, Yahoo)

The Indian community in Qatar has expressed shock and concern over a video showing an Indian man being assaulted by fellow countrymen going viral on social media.

The three-minute video shows the group attacking the young man, suspected of having posted comments on Facebook that offended Muslims, outside a shopping mall perhaps on May 8, Peninsula Qatar reported on Monday.

Qatar’s interior ministry on Sunday convened a meeting of all Indian community organisations affiliated to the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) and urged them to respect the country’s laws and maintain communal harmony.… Various Indian community organisations condemned the incident and called for creating an awareness against unwanted reactions to communal incitements.



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Delhi traffic constable attacks woman with brick, dismissed and arrested (May 11, 2015, New Indian Express)

A Delhi Traffic Police head constable was arrested and dismissed from service Monday after he threw a brick at a woman he had stopped for an alleged traffic violation. A passerby, who was in a car, recorded the incident, which then went viral forcing the Delhi Police to take immediate action against the policeman.

The 15-second video clip shows the woman, Ramanjeet Kaur, picking up a brick and hurling it at head constable Satish Chand’s motorcycle. The latter immediately retaliates by throwing a brick at her. Kaur was with her three daughters, who witnessed the incident.…

Kaur’s daughter Yamini said her mother was injured in the attack. “My mother sustained injuries on her hand and back. The attack has fractured her hand,” said the daughter. The victim was taken to RML hospital by police and she later gave a statement to the investigators at Tuglak Road police station.…



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The perils of being a Dalit in India (May 7, 2015, The Hindu)

The Indian constitution gurantees equality for all, but the deep-rooted caste system in the society has never allowed the Dalits to be treated on par with the “upper castes.”

Authors Sukhdev Thorat and Harsh Mandar in Untouchability in Rural India argue that not much had changed in terms of “social mixing or relations across caste barriers.” Atrocities like rapes, murder, and physical assualt against Dalits are reported by the mainstream media, but social and emotional boycott largely go unnoticed.…

The Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns of behaviours inflicting criminal offences for shattering the self-respect and esteem of SCs and STs, denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process, etc.



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Opinions and Editorials

India’s Chilling Crackdown – Editorial (May 7, 2015, New York Times)

The Ford Foundation is among the world’s best-known charitable organizations, dispensing billions of dollars globally for projects aimed at reducing poverty, fighting injustice, improving education and advancing democracy.

So it was alarming when India’s Ministry of Home Affairs last month placed the foundation, which has made $500 million in grants to organizations in India since 1952, on a national security watch list. That means it cannot give money to Indian groups without permission from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The move shook the donor community and triggered fears of a broader crackdown on civic activism – fears quickly realized when the government canceled the registration of nearly 9,000 foreign-funded civic and nongovernmental groups.

The Ford case smacks of political payback. The listing stems from a complaint by the Gujarat State government about the Sabrang Trust, a private group that has received grants from Ford. The trust, its founder, Teesta Setalvad, and her husband have worked on behalf of victims of sectarian riots in Gujarat in 2002, when Mr. Modi was chief minister. They have also sought to bring charges against Mr. Modi for enabling the violence, which left more than 1,000 people dead.…



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Put On The Hard Hats – By Lola Nayar (May 18, 2015, Outlook)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power at the Centre nearly a year back with a strong mandate from the corporate sector. But today the fervour with which Modi was once talked about seems to be missing. There are voices of criticism, although others are quick to urge more patience as effects of reforms do not show up immediately.

Yet undoubtedly, the exaggerated faith in the Modi-led NDA government’s ability to deliver on multiple fronts – from ease of doing business to attracting investments by opening up the market to labour reforms and job creation – is slipping. …

Political mud-slinging aside, the debate on whether this is a ‘soot-boot wali sarkar’ or a ‘soojh boojh ki sarkar’ has entered not just homes but also corporate discourses. Lately, the uncertainty created on the tax issues like minimum alternate tax (MAT) has moved beyond Indian shores. Highlighting investor concern, Alastair Newton, managing director for global market research at Nomura International Inc, told the media in Singapore recently, “I do think there is a big opportunity in India…if it can get some of the tax issues sorted out to attract significant foreign direct investment from Japan.”…



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Undermining Parliamentary Democracy – Editorial (May 10, 2015, Peoples Democracy)

…The aggressive pursuit of the neo-liberal policies of economic reforms; the relentless onslaughts on the secular democratic foundations of the Indian republic by the sharpening of communal polarisation and the movement towards an authoritarian rule through the erosion of democratic institutions and methods considered sacrosanct in a parliamentary democracy, constitute the current constellation of challenges before us.

Many thought that of these the CPI(M) was being alarmist regarding the subversion of our democratic institutions and methods of functioning. This however, is now unfolding in greater rapidity by the manner in which this BJP-led government is functioning in the parliament. Using the strength of its simple majority in the Lok Sabha, albeit with a mere 31 per cent of the vote polled, the BJP is attempting to bulldoze many crucial legislations without parliamentary scrutiny and a meaningful debate. …

Since this government has assumed office all crucial legislations in the Lok Sabha are being bulldozed through by exercising the BJP’s majority, what we have termed in the past as an exercise of “the tyranny of the majority”. Not one crucial legislative proposal has been referred to the standing committee by this 16th Lok Sabha. As a result, when these are brought before the Rajya Sabha, invariably they were referred to a select committee of the house for proper examination. It is normally unusual that, during the last few months, the Rajya Sabha had to constitute at least six select committees on various legislations.…



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Journalism or Voyeurism – Editorial (May 9, 2015, EPW)

In disasters, such as the Nepal earthquake, journalists inevitably turn to official agencies providing relief and rescue operations to gain access to disaster-affected areas. But that access should be one part of the story, not the whole of it. Yet, in the initial days after the Nepal earthquake, for much of the Indian media, the Indian government’s assistance became the only story. As journalists hopped on to helicopters and gave viewers an aerial view of the devastated landscape, they forgot a basic tenet of journalism: that journalists are also expected to provide the worm’s-eye view, the ground reportage that involves engaging with people.…

Also, it was not just what the Indian media did not report that raised the ire of Nepalis, it is the way it reported what it did see and the pro-Indian government spin given to many such accounts. Embedding yourself with an official agency should not turn journalists into public relations agents. Yet, this happens all too often and was evident in full colour in the coverage of Nepal.

In fact, the Indian media’s lack of sensitivity in its coverage of the Nepal disaster comes as no surprise. Ask people in Kashmir, or the North East. The answer is the same: the Indian media generally comes across as insensitive, caring only about the story and not about the people in the story. Journalists sometimes forget that they are human beings first and journalists second. You cannot demand that distressed and suffering people speak to you without figuring out a way of also helping them. That is not journalism; it is voyeurism.…



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Appeals and the travesty of justice – Editorial (May 6, 2015, Livemint)

After 13 years, actor Salman Khan has finally been convicted in the Mumbai hit-and-run case. In 2002, he ran his car over a group of homeless men sleeping on the platform, killing one and injuring several others. Khan, who has been sentenced to five years in prison by a Sessions court in Mumbai, is likely to appeal in the Bombay High Court. And in this way, some more years will pass.

Consider another case, far from the glare of cameras and press attention, one where conviction was delayed not by 13 years, but a mind-boggling 41 years. This was the obscure case of Parsuram Satpathy, a student leader, who was murdered by a former member of the legislative assembly and eight others in 1974 in Balangir, Odisha. On Monday, the Orissa high court awarded life imprisonment to three of the nine accused. The other six died over the course of 40 years. Quite naturally for Satpathy’s family, the punishment that has been handed out is a far cry from any understanding of the word justice.

These very different cases are among a huge number of civil and criminal proceedings that display one feature: delays caused by strict adherence to procedural justice. Once meant to safeguard the poor against the mighty, procedural aspects of law now pose a danger to the delivery of justice itself. The number of cases pending in the judicial pipeline is a case in point.…



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Resist Modi Govt’s Anti-farmer Policies – Editorial (May 3, 2015, Peoples Democracy)

The tragic suicide of a kisan during the Aam Aadmi Party rally in New Delhi last week sharply brought out the real face of the deep agrarian distress that has gripped our country. Though these columns were highlighting this growing crisis and distress in Indian agriculture periodically, the depth of what this means to India in general and rural India in particular came under sharp focus with this suicide. Official governmental records show that nearly three lakh farmers have been driven to distress suicides during the last two decades. Many many more fall outside the ambit of such official statistical recording.

Such warning bells emanating from Indian agriculture, growing louder in recent years, have been successively ignored in the past. The Left parties insistence for the implementation of a rural employment guarantee scheme finally saw the light of the day during the last year of the UPA-I government. To some extent this provided some succor but did little to change the systemic ground realities plaguing Indian agriculture.…

The people of our country must rise with greater enthusiasm and vigour to stop such retrograde new laws that this Modi government is bent upon legislating which will further the ruin of Indian agriculture.



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