IAMC Weekly News Roundup - May 12th, 2014 - IAMC
no-image IAMC

IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 12th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


Atrocities against Assamese Muslims must cease now, demand Indian Americans

Grief and outrage over merciless killing of women and children in Assam in the din of elections

May 08, 2014

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has condemned the gruesome massacre in Assam that has claimed the lives of 43 people, most of them being women and children, at the hands of Bodo militants. The victims were predominantly Bengali speaking Assamese Muslims living in the Bodo Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). The massacre is directly related to the election where divisive and hateful rhetoric demonizing Assamese Muslims as “illegal immigrants” has been used to incite violence and advance a sectarian agenda.

The brutal killings are a grim reminder of the pogrom of 2012, in which hundreds were killed, and over 400,000 people displaced. The violence marked the largest internal displacement of people in India since the Partition in 1947. Experts agree that the violence and resulting displacement of indigenous Assamese Muslims is designed to make them “illegal” in their own country, and justify their disenfranchisement.

The canard of illegal “Bangladeshi” immigrants has been used primarily by the Hindu nationalist BJP as a red herring in order to leverage ethnic rivalry between Bodos and Muslims and gain political mileage. The mass killings, and their justification by political forces inimical to the minorities has been rightly condemned by conscientious citizens and human rights activists.

The killings started on May 2 after Pramila Rani Brahma of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), accused Muslims of not voting for the BPF in the ongoing elections. Initial investigations show that besides the Bodo militant groups, members of BPF were involved in the massacre. Moreover, the brutal police crackdown at Harbhanga polling booth shows that Assamese Muslims cannot expect security even from law enforcement, as the elections have turned them into easy targets.

“The mass killing of Assamese Muslims is the bitter harvest of the usual divisive politics espoused by Hindutva supremacists,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “It represents a brutal attempt to alter the electoral demographics of Assam, through violence, intimidation and mass displacement, ” added Mr. Khan.

IAMC has called for the seizure of all illegal arms and ammunition from the BTAD area, as a necessary first step towards ending the ethnic cleansing. The organization has also demanded an immediate enquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge, into the killings, as well as the suspension of police personnel accused of participating in the violence. Pramila Rani Brahma’s inciteful statements represent a flagrant violation of the code of conduct for candidates. The fact that these have not yet invited any censure from the Election Commission is a matter of grave concern.

In order to restore confidence in the populace and uphold the rule of law, IAMC has further demanded the deployment of additional paramilitary forces and immediate relief and rehabilitation to the survivors.

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


1. 20 Are Held and Curfew Is Imposed After Attacks on Muslims in India

2. Indian Muslims flee homes after rebel massacres in Assam

3. 6 more bodies found, Assam toll rises to 43

4. Assam violence, nine key demands of civil organizations


Ishaq Syed
phone: 1-800-839-7270
email: info@iamc.com
address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.

Forward email

[Back to Top]

Tension prevails in Meerut after communal clash, one dead (May 11, 2014, Times of India)

Tension prevailed in some areas of the city on Sunday after a clash between two communities over the construction of a water kiosk near a mosque left seven people injured even as police registered cases against 200 people in connection with the violence. Security has been tightened in the city following the clash on Saturday, with eight companies of Rapid Action Force and six companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary deployed, SSP Omkar Singh said. Seven people were injured, one of them seriously, in the clash which saw both sides pelting stones and opening fire at each other, he said.

According to unverified reports, 24 people have been injured in the clashes. One Shubham Rastogi, who suffered a bullet wound on head, was declared brain dead by doctors at the hospital. Cases have been registered against 200 people in this connection, he said, adding that more people will be booked after identifying them from the video footage of the incident. Strict action will also be taken against those involved in spreading rumours about the clash, Singh said. According to police sources, tension prevailed in some parts of the city after the violence.

Saturday’s clashes started after a few people led by municipal councilor Vijay Anand tried to prevent the construction of a structure around the well, around 2pm. “I was pulled by the crowd and received blows on my face and head. In no time, stone-pelting started and about 15 people were left injured,” Anand told TOI. The agitated mob plundered a jewellery store in Bajaja Bazaar and ransacked a sweet shop in Teer Gran. The mob also torched the motorcycle of a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Piyush Tayal, who had gone to resolve the issue. The area where trouble began has a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims.

Rioting spread also to the Ghanta Ghar area, and a motorcycle was burned there. With police forces on election duty, there is a shortage of security personnel. Amit Jain, a resident of Teer Gran, said “the ancient well is public property, under the possession of the nagar nigam. In 1982, a permanent police picket was deployed there because Muslims would take possession of the well from time to time, as it was near the masjid. The police picket was removed two years ago.” Haji Akram, another resident of Teer Gran, said “we were installing a temporary water cooler here and a gate was being installed to safeguard it. A big crowd gathered and objected to installation of the cooler.”

Two young men who received bullet injuries are being treated at KMC Hospital. Sanjiv Verma, hospital in charge of KMC, said, “One received a gunshot in the thigh, and the other in the hip. They are being operated on.” Two others, who were wounded, have been admitted to the LLRM Medical College. In view of the clash, the famous Nauchandi Mela, which was to end on Monday, has been winded up. Many traders, who were hopeful of earning good revenue in these two days, winded up their shop. The mela, which usually begins on the second Sunday after Holi started on April 11 this time due to ongoing Lok Sabha elections.



[Back to Top]

Narendra Modi awarded contracts to snoopgate victim’s family, alleges Congress (May 4, 2014, Zeenews)

The Congress party on Sunday said there is “no compromise” on going ahead with a probe in the ‘snoopgate’ issue allegedly involving Narendra Modi and alleged that in order to silence the family of the young architect girl, the Gujarat government awarded contracts without floating tenders. It asked the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, his close aide Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley to “come clean” on the illegal surveillance of a young woman by raising ten questions.

“Whether this entire illegal surveillance and spying operation in disregard of constitution and law not raise ethical and moral issues as to the capability, mannerism and style of Narendra Modi? Can such a person be trusted to run any publicity responsibility and protect the rights and privacy of citizens including the entire women of India comprising of nearly 50 per cent of its population?” the Congress asked.

Seeking answers from the opposition party leaders, the party also termed as “shocking” the entire BJP leadership’s continuous and steadfast refusal to answer the reason, purpose and motive for spying on a young architect girl at the instance of Modi by “misusing the entire state machinery”. Observing that Right to Privacy is part of fundamental rights of ‘Right to Life’ under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Congress asked whether Modi and Shah have right to conduct surveillance of a young girl as also tapping her phones, phones of her friends and acquaintances with complete impunity in a totally illegal fashion.

“Why were extensive spying operations launched on an ‘oral undated request’ by father of an adult girl, as is being alleged in hindsight as a mode of defence? Which Chief Minister puts a young girl under such extensive surveillance on an oral undated request from her parents or relation?,” the party asked. The Congress wanted to know in how many cases before and after this incident has Modi put young girls under surveillance on the request of their parents or relation. “Why were other friends and acquaintances meeting up with the young girl being put under surveillance?,” Mahila Congress leaders Priyanka Chaturvedi and Sobha Oza asked.

They said that there was “no compromise” as the issue involved the women of the country. Oza, however, ducked questions whether the opposition by NCP and National Conference meant that they were “anti-women”. She insisted that no political party can decide on it and the Union cabinet has already taken a decision some time back and it was also announced. “The issue is not a personal business of anyone. How does it matter (that a judge was not appointed so far)? There will be a commission and there will be a judge. Why there should be pressure?” she asked. …



[Back to Top]

CBI court summons Amit Shah, 36 others (May 10, 2014, Indian Express)

A special CBI court Friday issued summons to BJP’s Uttar Pradesh in-charge Amit Shah and 36 others in the Tulsiram Prajapati encounter case of 2006. All accused are expected to appear before the court on May 23. The CBI had filed a chargesheet in the case on September 29, 2012, against Shah and 18 others, including several police officers. However, the papers of the case were transferred to Mumbai CBI court only the last month.

Friday was the first date of court hearing. Special CBI judge J T Utpat issued summons to the accused, a mandatory proceeding to commence trial as per law. Prajapati, a key witness in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabbudin Shaikh, was killed by police at Chapri village, Banaskantha district of Gujarat, in December 2006.

Meanwhile, the special CBI court Friday also rejected the bail plea of suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara, an accused in the Sohrabbudin encounter case. He was arrested on April 24, 2007, along with two other IPS officers Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh M N for their role in the alleged killing Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauser Bi.



[Back to Top]

Lalu attacks Amit Shah over Azamgarh remark, calls him a terrorist (May 6, 2014, IBN)

Attacking Narendra Modi’s close confidant and former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah over his Azamgarh comment, RJD President Lalu Prasad on Tuesday called him a ‘terrorist’. “Amit Shah is a terrorist. He is the right hand man of Narendra Modi and behind riots in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar. These are people who will burn the country through communal violence. They have lost ground and are hence showing their true colours now,” Prasad told reporters.

The RJD chief was reacting to Shah calling Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh a ‘base of terrorists’ – a comment which has triggered furious reactions from political parties opposed to BJP. They are demanding that the Election Commission take action on this issue. Prasad also deplored the use of pictures of Lord Ram at Modi’s public meeting at Faizabad, which is close to Ayodhya. “This is a ploy to communalize the poll environment there.”

“Modi or BJP have nothing to do with Ram or Rahim. They want to communalize the poll environment there. There is nothing new in this as they have been resorting to this for several years now. It’s a shame that they are using people in the garb of ‘sadhus’ (monks) to solicit votes,” added Prasad. On Modi’s ‘challenge’ to EC to take action against him, Prasad said this his frustration and acceptance of defeat in the ongoing parliamentary elections.



[Back to Top]

SAHMAT condemns Modi remarks on Bangladeshi infiltrators (May 10, 2014, The Hindu)

The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) has expressed concern at remarks by the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at an election rallies in West Bengal that Bangladeshi infiltrators would have to leave the country after the Lok Sabha elections. Pointing out that Indians have been victims of such fascist tendencies across the world, the Trust urged that “this invitation to target a particular religious minority” be rejected.

In a statement SAHMAT said: “We the undersigned are deeply disturbed by the reported remarks of the Prime Ministerial candidate of the NDA at an election rally in West Bengal that “infiltrators” from Bangladesh, belonging to a particular religious community, must be sent back. Apart from the sheer inhumanity of the remark, we fear that in a country in which every citizen does not possess documentary proof of citizenship, such a move would simply cause a general victimization of persons belonging to that particular religious community.

The reason cited by him for sending back “infiltrators” is that they take away jobs from local youth, causing unemployment among the latter. This is exactly the reason offered by racist, fascist and xenophobic groups all over Europe, such as the Northern League in Italy, the National Front in France, the British National Party in the U.K., the Movimento Social Espanol in Spain, the National Renewal Party in Portugal, the Flemish Block in Belgium, and the Danish People’s Party in Denmark, for their attacks on immigrants. Persons of Indian origin have often been targets of such attacks which people in this country have rightly condemned. We must not replicate the same logic and the same attitude with regard to immigrants into this country which we condemn when they are directed against Indian immigrants abroad.

Blaming a hapless minority of immigrants for the flaws of an economic system that does not generate enough jobs for our youth is not just bad economics, but precisely what those who wield power within the current economic system would like everyone to believe. We appeal to the people to reject this invitation to target a particular religious minority. We urge them to spurn those who are aiming to capture power by spreading communal hatred.” Signatories to the statement include Zoya Hasan, Romila Thapar, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Girish Karnad, Irfan Habib and Anil Sadagopal.



[Back to Top]

BTAD records 3,500 riot cases in 5 years (May 10, 2014, Assam Tribune)

Peace-keeping in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts(BTAD) has remained a distant dream, with those at the helm of affairs utterly failing to ensure security of human lives and property year after year, leaving the common manunder constant fear. Nearly 3,500 cases of rioting reported in the last five years have made BTAD by far the most disturbed area of Assam in recent times, if not the country.

Be it incidents of uncontrolled use of arms or spurt in the number of abduction and extortion cases, lawlessness of almost all forms has become a recurring affair in districtslike Kokrajhar, Chirang, Udalguri and Baksa. While nearly 900 innocent persons (murdered) were killed in the BTAD in the last five years (including those killed in the 2012 ethnic clashes), the damage caused by anti-social elements during the period to villagers’ property will run into several crores of rupees, if at all they can be quantified.

Security forces, during the period, managed to recover about 730 firearms and nearly 3,500 rounds of ammunition. Police also registered 507 cases under the Arms Act during the period. The success rate being negligible, BTAD recorded over 1,300 abduction cases in the last five years. Rise in the number of extortion cases also leaves the law-enforcing agencies red-faced time and again.

The ongoing targeted killing in BTAD is further adding fuel to the fire with already 33 lives lost. Senior police officials camping there said that gun-running is still very much prevalent in the areas and the unabated use of legal and illegal arms has posed unprecedented challenges before the security forces.



[Back to Top]

The cynical cycle of terror arrests continues in Rajasthan (May 8, 2014, Milli Gazette)

Ammar Yasir has been arrested by Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad on charges of being an operative of Indian Mujahideen on 7th May. A simple chronology of events will demonstrate that his arrest is an example of how terror investigations cynically consume Muslim youth. On 23rd march, at 7.00 am, the Delhi Police Special Cell picked up Ammar (along with another friend Abdul Wahid), a final year student of Global Engineering College, from Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, where he was staying in transit before leaving for umrah to Saudi Arabia.

He was picked up following a raid in Jaipur where his roommates and fellow students, Waqar and Mehrajuddin, had been arrested. By around 10.30 in the evening, the Delhi Police Special Cell had released Amaar and Mehrajuddin, after having questioned them, and finding nothing incriminating. Ammar left for performing umrah the following day, and returned to India a few days later.

It is significant to note that on 22nd-23rd March, a series of arrests and raids were conducted in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Sikar, at the conclusion of which a total of 13 youth had been arrested. Different agencies like Delhi Police Special Cell, Rajasthan ATS and Jodhpur and Jaipur police were involved in the arrests. The trigger for this action is said to be the arrest of one Pakistani national Waqas @ Zia ur Rehman from the Ajmer-Bandra arrest. In his interrogation, the Special Cell claim to have learnt of the Rajasthan module of Indian Mujahideen. (This story is itself in some doubt now as at least some media reports have suggested that Waqas may have actually been arrested in Dhaka and kept in a long period of illegal detention before being shown as ‘arrested’. During this period of illegal detention, Waqas was asked to contact alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives on web chats.)

Three of the youth arrested have been taken into custody under the FIR 54/2011 lodged by the Delhi Police Special Cell in connection with an illegal arms factory in Meer Vihar. All 13 have been booked under FIRs registered in Jaipur and Jodhpur under various sections of Explosives Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). While the Special Cell walked away with the prize catches of Waqas and Tehseen Akhtar – alleged to be top IM operatives – the Rajasthan ATS has been trying hard to build a case where little exists. It has been alleged that explosives were recovered from the houses of Waqar in Jaipur and Shakib and Barkat in Jodhpur. While none of the recoveries were made in the presence of any independent witnesses, as procedure requires, we cannot but help point out that Barkat’s father is a stone merchant and requires explosives and detonators for blasting stones.

The rest of the accused, from whom no such recoveries have been made, seem to have been drawn into the circle of suspicion only because they shared certain orthodox religious views. It appears that most of the youth arrested have been targeted for holding these views rather than any specific illegal activity. However, holding of views by itself does not constitute any unlawfulness. The FIRs too are vague on terror activities. Indeed, the entire operation falls under a cloud of suspicion, not only because of the rampant violation of all procedural requirements, but also because its centerpiece, the confession of one of the accused, Mohd. Sajjad, made before the magistrate, reveals absolutely nothing concrete. Ammar’s arrest – more than a month after being given a clean chit by Special Cell – therefore appears to be the result of Rajasthan ATS’ desire to be seen as a dynamic investigating agency and its own definition of what constitutes terror activities.



[Back to Top]

Maharashtra Shiv Sena attempts to create communal tension in Parbhani (May 10, 2014, Twocircles.net)

There is not much time left for the counting of votes across the country and the Parbhani city of Maharashtra is witnessing hostile communal environment. Shiv Sena MLA Bandu Jadhav has written a complaint to District Magistrate claiming that the land where Rahemaniya Madarsa & Masjid is situated is disputed. He has appealed to halt the reconstruction of the buildings which is located near city bus stand and has requested for enquiry into the possession of land. The local body of the said Madarsa & Masjid were shocked when District Authorities along with B & C officials unexpectedly visited the place for inquiry. The news spread immediately amongst Muslims and many members of different organizations gathered.

Local police then surrounded the place and calmed the gathered people. The reconstruction work then had to be postponed due to the unnecessarily created hostile environment. Muslims in the area claim that Rahemaniya Madarsa land has already been registered with the wakf board and that they were offering daily prayers there for the last 40 years. They suspect that Shiv Sainiks were upset with the Muslims as they have voted for secular party in the elections and there is fair possibility of Shiv Sena losing their seat from Parbhani constituency.

All India Youth Federation has written a counter complaint to the District Collector against Shiv Sena and has said that it was a preplanned conspiracy orchestrated by communal forces just before the counting of votes to ignite communal violence in the city by making a legal Rahemaniya Masjid as disputed matter although it is registered with Wakf and therefore such conspirators must be stopped in executing their plans and brought before the court of law.

Former Congress MP Advocate Tukaram Patil while talking with one of the regional paper has shown full support for the Muslims and has said that when the Madarsa has been registered with Wakf there arises no room for any controversy with the land possession. He has appealed both communities to maintain peace and harmony and not to spread any rumors in the city.

Merely a week before a Muslim youth’s beard was shaved off and he was beaten up by anti national and communal elements in Nanded city of Maharashtra which is only 100KM away from Parbhani and couple of month before when election campaigning was at its peak in Maharashtra 12 members of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) were booked under section 153 of Penal Code for promoting enmity between Hindus and Muslims by distributing provocative pamphlets in Parbhani. Marathwada Muslims are speculating that the communal forces in Marathwada are planning to disturb communal harmony in the region and it is necessary that the security agency be vigilant towards any little act of violence which might create law and order problem for this region.



[Back to Top]

MP cop faces arrest over prof suicide (May 13, 2014, Indian Express)

A police official is likely to be arrested for allegedly abetting suicide of an assistant professor, 22 years younger than him, at a rented flat here. Upmanyu Saxena, 54, was suspended on Monday, a day after 32-year-old Indu Sharma’s body was found hanging at the flat in Misrod area on the city’s outskirts, with her family alleging that the police inspector posted at the Inspector General’s office was harassing her.

It was Saxena who alerted the police about the suicide when he reached the flat on Sunday, but her family alleged the police official could have eliminated her as the two fought on the previous night. Bhopal (Range) DIG Srinivas Varma said Saxena was booked for abetment to suicide based on the allegations leveled by family members of Sharma, who was an assistant professor at a private college here.

Investigating Officer Anil Shukla has ruled out murder. “We are collecting evidence on the allegations of harassment that might have led her to commit suicide,” he said. The family members alleged that the police official forced her to undergo abortion thrice, and that he used to threaten them.



[Back to Top]

Gujarat worse than neighbours in dalit justice (May 6, 2014, Times of India)

Gujarat fares poorly when it comes to dispensation of justice to dalits in atrocity cases. Its neighbours Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh fare much better. Data released by NGO, Navsarjan Trust, on Monday showed that the conviction rate in atrocity cases in Gujarat is as low as 7.8%.

According to the data received by the NGO through RTI, 8,884 cases of atrocity were registered in the state between 2006 and September 2013. The data revealed that on an average the state recorded 18 murders, 37 rapes, 52 severe injuries and 1,019 cases where families were afflicted with atrocities every year. Analysis of the data showed that 11 districts are sensitive to dalit atrocity.

The NGO claimed that the state government has not followed the provisions enshrined in the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 nor has it made reviews of cases registered in order to improve conviction rate. Navsarjan executive director Manjula Pradeep told the media that Gujarat government needs to review the law for faster solution to the cases.

Manjula said, “Though the cases have been registered in police stations, the conviction rate is 7.8 % which is very poor when compared to Rajasthan (41%) and Madhya Pradesh (29%). The reason is that the state government has not reviewed either the atrocity law or the cases in last seven years.” Navsarjan activist Kirit Rathod told the media that there is a provision in the law to run special courts for atrocity cases but no court has been started by the state government, which has led to 42.47% of the cases pending in the court.

“The chief minister has not called the meeting of the vigilance and monitoring committee to review the atrocity law. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are ruled by the same party, yet they have reviewed the law and sanctioned special courts and police stations. The Gujarat government is not sanctioning the vacant posts in police force for investigation of the atrocity cases,” said Rathod.



[Back to Top]

Opinions and Editorials

Narendra Modi’s Shame: Muslim Survivors of the Gujarat Riots Are Still Suffering – By Mansi Choksi (May 6, 2014, Vice.com/)

Khatun Sheikh’s orange hair fell free as she shooed a stray dog that had crept into her home and toppled a bag of wheat. She chased it away in the direction of a mountain of garbage flecked with scraps of blue tarpaulin, soiled rags, human waste, and muddy plastic. The dog disappeared into the multicolored heap, and she turned back, wheezing, shielding her nose from the fetid stench.

Sheikh has been living in a relief colony at the foothills of a dumping ground in Ahmedabad, the largest city in the western Indian state of Gujarat, for the past 12 years. A mob torched her home in a middle-class housing complex on February 28, 2002, killing 97 Muslims. The attack occurred during the three-day Gujarat riots, which left more than 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims. The violence was set off a day earlier, when a train full of Hindu pilgrims burst into flames in the city of Godhra, killing 59 people. A Muslim mob was accused of setting the blaze, although the cause was disputed. Coordinated attacks on Muslims soon followed.

Sheikh’s one-room hovel was cluttered with a small stove, a straw mat, and clothes hanging to dry. Her husband, who once managed a firm that contracted billboards and signboards, was somewhere in the city looking for work. Her 21-year-old son, Mohammed Rashid, is unemployed, and her younger son, Mohammed Rafiq, who is 13, can’t go to school because the nearest one is miles away. “I think about the old days when we were happy,” Sheikh told VICE News, “and I feel helpless.”

Some 98,000 people were displaced in Gujarat by the 2002 riots. Sheikh and her family are among the 16,000 who remain in relief colonies, 83 of which are located across the state. Residents of the 15 camps in Ahmedabad overwhelmingly lack clinics, schools, proper roads, and adequate drinking water. Sheikh has developed jaundice as well as blisters on her feet from the sewage water that floods her neighborhood. “But going back is out of the question,” she said. “I can still hear screams for help.” She returned to her old neighborhood only twice, to collect whatever was left from her burnt-out home.

Even as polls certify the popularity of Narendra Modi, Gujarat’s chief minister and the ascendant prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the riots remain a notable stain on his administration. Modi had taken office a few months before the riots broke out, and he’s been criticized for his government’s handling of the violence and accused of not acting quickly enough to stop it. Some have claimed that his government encouraged the retributive killings. …



[Back to Top]

Mohan Bhagwat brings a resurgent Sangh to the cusp of political power – By Dinesh Narayanan (May 1, 2014, Caravan Magazine)

Early August last year, a cohort of journalists gathered in Kolkata for a two-day seminar on Islamic fundamentalism convened by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the world’s largest non-political voluntary organisation and the eighty-eight-year-old bedrock of Hindu nationalism in India. This was the first time the RSS, also known as the Sangh, had held such a workshop-one in a series of four, aimed specifically at journalists, on issues of significance to the organisation, including politics in Jammu and Kashmir, scheduled castes, and development. Only ideological devotees were allowed in. According to the RSS’s annual report, the four events-the others were in Delhi, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad-drew 220 participants from across the country.

In Kolkata, the RSS’s prachar pramukh, or head of promotion, and the chief organiser of the event, Manmohan Vaidya, laid out the objective: to help journalists understand the nuances of the RSS’s position so they could better project the Hindu nationalist point of view. The participants were instructed that the seminar was not to be reported on, or talked about outside RSS circles. “During some sessions, we were asked to let it go in one ear and out the other,” a journalist and swayamsevak, or RSS volunteer, who works for a regional newspaper, told me.

At one point, Shrirang Godbole, a homeopathic doctor from Maharashtra who serves as an Islam pundit within the Sangh, explained that the Muslim community is not monolithic, but is riven by divisions just like Hindus are by caste. He then expounded on how even “benign” sects such as Sufism have a violent past. “Some of our leaders pay homage to Sufi saints without proper understanding of history,” Godbole told them, as a slide showing the BJP leader LK Advani at the dargah in Ajmer, Rajasthan, popped up on a screen. The swayamsevak-journalist said it generated a lot of laughter-even from Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS sarsanghchalak, or supreme commander, who was present throughout the workshop.

“The problem is Hindus have started thinking about themselves as minorities,” Bhagwat later told the group. “Hindus should have an aggressive, nationalistic stand.” During a tea break, the journalists got chatting with Bhagwat. Inevitably, the conversation veered towards the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi, who two months earlier had been chosen, with the backing of the RSS, to spearhead the BJP’s parliamentary election campaign. “Modi is the only person who has remained rooted in the RSS ideology,” Bhagwat told the group, adding that the RSS had told party leaders, “You find good candidates-we will do the rest.”

Bhagwat said the journalists should tell BJP leaders that the party must embrace its core values – honesty in public life, and service to Hindu society. If they don’t, the party will become irrelevant. “If we win in 2014, the BJP can be in power for the next twenty-five years,” Bhagwat said. “If not, even if all of us try, they can’t be saved for the next hundred.” “The way he said it,” the journalist told me, “it felt almost like the RSS is giving the BJP one last chance.”…



[Back to Top]

Modi’s caste card has a higher agenda – By Kancha Ilaiah (May 9, 2014, Asian Age)

In response to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s “neech rajneeti” (low-level politics) jibe, Narerndra Modi reacted by saying, “I belong to a lower caste of society, that’s why they think my politics is low-level politics.” For the first time Mr Modi put his caste card quite categorically on the table, and he did this not only to get more votes in the last two phases of polling on May 7 and 12, but to send a message to the Brahminic forces within the Bharatiya Janata Party who have no love lost for his claim to the Prime Minister’s job. It is well known that a large number of Brahminic conspirators both within and outside the BJP are working silently to ensure that Mr Modi does not become the Prime Minister.

Ms Vadra’s statement does not refer to Mr Modi’s caste, nor does one assume that she had Mr Modi’s caste background on her mind when she made that statement. Mr Modi had earlier described her as “daughter like”, because of her age and also experience. To that Ms Vadra had replied, “I am Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter.” She did that to put him in his place. She is definitely a clever person. However the twist that Mr Modi has given to her comment contains a larger agenda, and this was very clear from his next step, when he asked in a mass rally on May 6 in eastern Uttar Pradesh, “Is it wrong to be born in a lower caste?”

Mr Modi knows that Sonia Gandhi’s family (if we include Mrs Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Ms Vadra and Robert Vadra) is a casteless, multi-cultural one. The Gandhi family has now become inter-religious without tags to any caste. Ever since Indira Gandhi married Feroze Gandhi, a Parsi, Rajiv Gandhi married Mrs Sonia Gandhi, a Catholic Christian, and Priyanka Gandhi married Robert Vadra, a Protestant Christian, their identity got shifted from caste. In which caste can we locate them now?

There is a Hindutva hatred against this salad bowl family and its political control over India. An average Christian in India is more dalit-OBC friendly than an average Hindu. Nobody can say that there is Brahminic blood and culture flowing in the family of Mrs Gandhi because of the genetic heritage of Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and Kamla Nehru. There is a total disconnect with that Kashmiri-Brahminic genetic heritage. Hence they cannot be called casteist people in any sense.

The only mistake that Rahul Gandhi committed after 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections was that he declared himself a brahmin. He does not seem to know what a brahmin means. Only a brahmin can become a priest in a Hindu temple. If Mr Gandhi wants to take up priesthood in any Hindu temple, he would not be allowed to do so even if he learnt the Agama Shastras. We know the story of Puri Jagannath temple not allowing Indira Gandhi into the shrine. At that time the BJP-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh supported the temple authorities. Thus, Mr Gandhi’s status in Hinduism today would be exactly like that of Mr Modi. Mr Modi, by virtue of being a lower caste man, cannot become a priest even if he wanted to.…



[Back to Top]

Does BJP Have A Hand In The Latest Massacre In Assam? – By Dr. Habib Siddiqui (May 8, 2014, Eurasia Review)

Does Narendra Modi, the BJP leader, have a hand in the latest killing of Bengali-speaking Muslims in western Assam’s Baska and Kokrajhar districts since Thursday evening of May 1? Union Minister Kapil Sibal believes so, and so does Assam Youth Congress president Piyush Hazarika. Addressing media the law minister said that the BJP leaders were fanning violence in Assam using morphed pictures as part of its “communal propaganda” on social media. Targeting the Gujarat chief minister, the Congress leader said, “Modi is a model of dividing India. This is the policy of BJP since 1984 of dividing India. The Rath Yatra, Babri Masjid demolition and all this has been a part of the communal strategy of the BJP.”

Raha MLA Hazarika said, “On April 1, immediately after Narendra Modi’s rally in Biswanath Chariali, a local BJP leader, Bhavdev Goswami, told a TV channel that BJP had the support of NDFB (National Democratic Front of Bodoland) rebels. At Sri Rampur on the Assam-West Bengal border, Modi said he would drive out all Bangladeshis after May 16.” [The relevance of May 16 is that BJP expects to win the marathon election held now, which ends on May 12, whose results will be declared on May 16, 2014.]

It is worth noting here that NDFB is an armed separatist outfit which seeks to obtain a sovereign Bodoland for the Bodo people in Assam, India. It is designated as a terrorist organization by the Government of India. According Assam Police, NDFB’s Sangbijit group is behind the killings in the massacre of Muslims since May 1, though the group has denied its role in a press statement.…



[Back to Top]

In Assam, a Familiar Pattern of Violence – By Vivek Singh (May 8, 2014, New York Times)

The Assamese villages of N.K. Khagrabari and Narayanguri border a thickly forested national wildlife sanctuary on one side and the Beki River on another, in the western part of the state. They are as remote as villages in Assam get, near the border with Bhutan, which is perhaps why some 30 camouflaged men, according to village residents, were able to slip out of the thick forest sometime in the late afternoon of May 2, spray the village with bullets, burn many of the mud-and-wood homes that belong to the roughly 1,000 Muslims who lived there, then slip away.

It was the latest of three separate attacks in western Assam, which the police said were carried out by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, an ethnic Bodo militant group. The attacks left 39 people dead, all Muslims. Ramzan Ali, 35, a farmer whose home was one of those razed in N.K. Khagrabari, was at an evening market across the river when he saw plumes of smoke. By the time he made it across the river’s two tributaries by motorboat, the gunmen were gone, the village destroyed. Later, the bodies of his mother and 4-month-old child were found. His wife and two other children are still missing.

Ajmala Khatun, 21, was washing rice at a hand pump when she heard the gunfire. She went home, grabbed her 8-month-old son and hid in an outhouse for almost three hours, hearing bursts of gunfire and smelling burning thatch before being rescued by the police. By the time I made it to the villages, after a two-hour drive on a deserted highway from the town of Kokrajhar during strict curfew, there were only security personnel, some villagers who had returned to survey the damage, and burned homes. Many of the villagers I met who had lived there were camping in hastily pitched tents across the river, and they vowed they would not move back without a permanent army outpost set up there to protect them. The police on Thursday said that many villagers were staying at a government school nearby.

I have been through this before in Kokrajhar. Each time I visit this part of Assam, I am struck by how unchanged the rhythms of the spasmodic violence are, and have been since 2003, when militants from the Bodo tribal group and India’s central government signed a peace accord after more than a decade of a violent insurgency. The accord never completely alleviated the violence and fear that are constant in the four districts, including Kokrajhar and Baksa, that make up the Bodoland Territorial Areas District, a semiautonomous area run by a majority-Bodo government led by the Bodoland Peoples Front.

The remaining militants, most from the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, are fighting a losing battle for separate statehood there. Police have said that they have stepped up their operations against this group in recent months. In January, this faction killed a police official in the Sonitpur district in Assam, according to the independent website South Asia Terrorism Portal. The Bodos, who make up 29 percent of the population in those districts, fear that the presence of non-Bodo ethnic groups like Bengali-speaking Muslims will harm their chances of getting a separate Bodoland state.…



[Back to Top]

Terror tag in way of Muslim youth’s engineering dream – By Muzamil Jaleel (May 12, 2014, Indian Express)

Every time there is a knock at the door, fear strikes his heart. The 22-year-old spends sleepless nights. Mehrajuddin isn’t studying for his final year Mechanical Engineering examination either as he cannot appear for it because the college has suspended based on reports branding him a terrorist. If the college calls him back, he will still be haunted. Last month, Rajasthan police picked him up along with a roommate in Jaipur, questioned him to unearth alleged Indian Mujahideen links and drove him to Delhi Police Special Cell for further interrogation. Nothing was found against him.

“I knew I am innocent and thought they knew that too that’s why they released me. I didn’t know this clean chit didn’t matter,” Mehrajuddin says. “I wasn’t even arrested.” He says his family in Gangapur is facing social boycott after the media called him “aatankwadi (terrorist)”. “My father Niyazuddin is a driver in the railways. His colleagues stopped speaking to him.” Mehrajuddin, frail, short and sporting a sparse beard, is the eldest sibling of three. He was good in studies, especially mathematics. He got into Global Institute of Technology (GIT), Jaipur. “After four years of hard work, I was getting ready for the final exam. I was planning to apply for a job,” he says.

On March 23, everything changed. “It was around 4.30 or 5 in the morning. I had rented a flat with my coursemates Waqar (Azhar) and Ammar (Yasir). Ammar had gone to Delhi on his way for Umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Waqar was also asleep. I was woken up and saw more than a dozen men in the flat. They were policemen in civvies who had sneaked inside. They drove us to a police station where they separated us. They (police) started to ask questions.

They asked me about my family and religious beliefs. Then they started asking about samaan and I kept saying which samaan. There was nothing in our flat that was dangerous. A policeman slapped me and kicked me several times. They insisted I knew about samaan and they meant weapons.” After hours of questioning, he was put in a vehicle where a few men in uniform were carrying guns. “Waqar had been taken to some other room and I had no idea what was going on. The policemen told me they are taking me to Delhi. I was in panic. I started pleading with them to let me make a phone call to my father. They didn’t agree.”

In Delhi, he was taken to a police station. “I was scared to know it is Special Cell. I kept pleading to let me make a phone call home. Soon, a few officers started asking the same questions,” he says. “They asked me about what I think about Jihad and my views on Tableegi Jamat and Ahle Hadees. They were very harsh but didn’t hit me.” … The trauma did not end there. On March 24, his college suspended him. On April 3, Mehrajuddin wrote to the Director saying he “never indulged in any illegal activity” and sought his reinstatement so that appear for the final examination. The college didn’t respond. In response to an RTI plea, Delhi Police said Mehrajuddin “was not arrested by Special Cell”.…



[Back to Top]