IAMC Weekly News Roundup - May 19th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 19th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


Mukul Sinha’s demise a loss for justice and accountability say Indian Americans

Renowned activist will always be remembered for his tireless struggle to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Gujarat pogroms and fake encounter killings.

May 14, 2014

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has expressed grief and a profound sense of loss over the passing away of renowned human rights activist and lawyer, Dr. Mukul Sinha. Dr. Sinha breathed his last in Ahmedabad on May 12.

Dr. Sinha, a physicist turned lawyer-activist, and a graduate from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, was a founding member of the Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM). JSM is a civil rights body that has several successful public interest litigations to its credit, and which continues to fight for justice for the victims of the 2002 pogroms in Gujarat.

Dr. Sinha unearthed crucial facts about the Godhra carnage and post-Godhra violence in the course of his cross examinations of witnesses. His research strengthened the case against people like Maya Kodnani, former VHP leader Jaideep Patel and was crucial to their convictions. He was also in the forefront of the fight to bring to justice the perpetrators of fake encounters, including the killing of Ishrat Jahan.

“We express our deepest condolences to Dr. Sinha’s family, and to all those who were touched by Dr. Sinha’s life and work, ” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “The loss to human rights activism in India and to the cause of justice and accountability, is immeasurable,” added Mr. Khan.

Despite battling with lung cancer for more than a year, Dr. Sinha continued his tireless efforts to expose the high and mighty who held human lives cheap, and expended them freely in their quest for power. His online portal http://www.truthofgujarat.com/ is an authoritative source on the Gujarat pogroms as well as on the reality of the much-hyped Gujarat development model.

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


Ishaq Syed
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Noted human rights activist Mukul Sinha dies

Gujarat fake encounters are similar: Mukul Sinha

Mukul Sinha’s open letter to Arun Jaitley on fake encounter cases

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Supreme Court pulls up Gujarat police, orders release of Akshardham convicts (May 17, 2014, Indian Express)

Pulling up Gujarat police for framing “innocent” people in the 2002 Akshardham temple attack case, the Supreme Court Friday ordered that all the six convicted by lower courts be freed, and blamed the Gujarat Home Minister for “non-application of the mind.”

A bench of Justices A K Patnaik and V Gopala Gowda blamed the home minister for “clear non-application of mind… in granting sanction,” since it was based neither on an informed decision nor on an independent analysis of facts… The court said the sanction was hence “void” and not a legal and valid sanction under POTA. Gujarat CM Narendra Modi held the portfolio in November 2003 when sanction to prosecute them under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was granted.

The six had been convicted in the criminal conspiracy to plot the terror strike at Akshardham to avenge the post-Godhra communal riots. Two terrorists who sprayed bullets from AK-56 rifles killing and injuring devotees were killed by commandos on September 25, 2002. After perusing evidence and lower court judgements, the SC bench noted “the story of prosecution crumbles at every juncture”.

The court said, “The confessional statements cannot be relied upon and the case of the prosecution fails. Accordingly, we hold there is no independent evidence on record to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in the face of retractions and grave allegations of torture and violation of human rights the accused have made against police,” it said.



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‘Modi’s remarks fuelled violence in Assam’ (May 15, 2014, Indian Express)

A fact finding committee of the Centre for Policy Analysis, which visited Assam in the aftermath of the May 1 violence that left 45 people dead, has concluded that inflammatory speeches by BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi was one of the factors that contributed to the killings. Modi, in his speech at Dhemaji in Assam, had said there is a conspiracy to kill rhinos to make space for Bangladeshi settlers.

“The local climate of hatred and a long history of impunity – this was the same village where 50 people were killed in 1994 – was aggravated by the heat of the elections with national leaders stoking the pyres of hatred. Modi’s statement on rhinos being killed to make room for Bangladeshis was one such comment,” said social activist and former IAS officer Harsh Mander, who was a part of the team that went to Narayanguri village in Baksa district. The report also calls for fair share for the non-Bodo population in the political arrangements to put an end to the circle of violence.

“There is a lot of discrimination. In the Bodo Territorial Council, Bodos, who make up 27 per cent of the population, occupy 70 per cent seats,” said journalist Seema Mustafa. Terming it simplistic to blame violence on administrative failure alone, the committee held that the immediate cause appears to have been the elections, linked to the fielding of non-Bodo candidates. “Anger was further fuelled by former minister Parmila Rani Brahma who declared openly that the Muslims had not voted for her,” said the report.



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Bail plea of three riot accused rejected (May 14, 2014, Business Standard)

A court here has rejected the bail plea of three persons accused in a riot case in Sikarda village of the district.

District Judge Vijay Luxmi rejected the plea of Mohit, Sachin and Nitu yesterday, saying there is no case for bail.

The three are accused of murdering a youth and injuring several others during riots in the district in September last.



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MBT demands registration of murder cases against police for firing on unarmed protesters (May 14, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Majlis Bachao Tahreek President Dr. Khayam Khan has strongly condemned the communal violence and death of three innocent Muslims in police firing in Mohammedabad near Kishan Bagh area in Rajendar Nagar police limits. In a press statement MBT described the violence as a result of a larger conspiracy to target the Muslims living in Kishan Bagh area. He demanded a high-level probe through a sitting Judge of the High Court into all the aspect of violence.

Dr. Khan blamed the police inaction for the violent incidents. He claimed that police did not reach the spot on time while allowing the miscreants to attack the lives and properties of Muslims living in that area. He alleged for over an hour, the officials of Hyderabad and Cyberabad police fought over jurisdiction with none of them accepting the responsibility to stop the violence. Immediately after their arrival at the spot, the police, including the Para-military forces, resorted to open firing killing three innocent Muslims on the spot and injuring seriously several others.

Dr Khayam Khan demanded information regarding who ordered the police firing and whether the central paramilitary forces had acted on the advice of the local police or obtained the order for firing from a magistrate. He stated, “The police did not use lathicharge, teargas or rubber bullets to disperse the mobs. Instead, they went on “shoot to kill” mode and open fired on the innocent people.” He also alleged that the injured were not immediately shifted to the hospital and when they were shifted, they were not immediately provided the required medical care in Osmania General Hospital.

MBT President demanded the registration of murder cases against all the police officials involved in the firing on Muslim protestors in Kishan Bagh area. He also demanded that commissioners of both Hyderabad and Cyberabad Commissionerates should be suspended immediately on moral grounds. Venting their anger against current de facto authority of the state, Governor ESL Narasimhan, MBT said, “Governor who spends lot of time in visiting temples, should have visited the spot or the hospitals to meet the victims, immediately after knowing about the deaths of Muslims and destruction of Properties of Muslims.”

Mr Khayam Khan demanded Rs 25 lakhs and Govt Job as Ex-Gratia for the families of those killed in the police firing. Further, he said that the government should provide free Medical treatment to all those injured in police firing and stabbing. MBT Spokesperson Majeed Ullah Khan @ Farhat Khan also demanded a probe into the incident of burning of flag which incited the violence in Kishan Bagh. He said a similar incident occurred 10 Years back which had triggered violence. In view of its past, why no CC TV cameras were installed on the location, he questioned. Mr. Majeed Khan said that some miscreants might have burnt the flag to use it as a reason to target the Muslims community residing in that area. Mr. Khan also feared that communal violence just two days before the announcement of results could be the result of a larger conspiracy and therefore it should be probed through a sitting judge of the High Court.



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Nirupam says BJP tampered with EVMs, to file PIL (May 18, 2014, Indian Express)

Sitting Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam Saturday accused the BJP of tampering the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and said he would soon file a public interest litigation (PIL) on the matter.

Nirupam, who had contested from Mumbai-North Lok Sabha constituency, lost with a big margin of 4,46,582 votes to BJP candidate and two-time MLA Gopal Chinayya Shetty. At a press meet at his residence, Nirupam alleged that the EVMs used were faulty and said the “figures just do not match” as they are lower than what he had expected.

“Congress candidates have been defeated in Gujarat, Maharshtra and Uttar Pradesh with massive leads, which is not possible. The contract of the EVM had been given to a multi-national company based in Gujarat. This in itself is suspicious,” Nirupam alleged. “I am filing a PIL in court on this matter. All senior leaders of Congress and other parties should also file PILs in their respective courts, ” he said, adding that the “machines were set in such a way that only a few hundred votes were counted properly”.



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Three policemen summoned for keeping people in illegal custody (May 14, 2014, IBN)

A local court has issued notices against former SP, former additional SP and present SHO of Shamli district after taking cognisance of a complaint accusing them of keeping some people in illegal custody during an agitation in 2013. Chief Judicial Magistrate Narender Kumar issued notices against then SP Abdul Hamid, then Additional SP Atul Saxena and SHO RN Yadav and directed them to appear before court on July 4 in connection with a complaint of torturing few agitators.

According to prosecution, a journalist Pushpender Bhardwaj had filed a complaint alleging that police had beaten up the agitators who were demanding arrest of the accused in a gangrape case in Shamli. The complainant has alleged that police had lathicharged the protesters and taken them in illegal custody on June 17, 2013, on direction of these police officers.

Five BJP leaders, including legislature party leader Hukum Singh, were also arrested then as police tried to check the unruly mob staging a protest demanding arrest of gang rape accused.



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Modi, Advani Among 10 Gujarat MPs Facing Criminal Cases (May 19, 2014, New Indian Express)

Narendra Modi and veteran BJP leader L K Advani are among the ten MPs elected from Gujarat, who are facing criminal charges. Out of the 66 candidates from Gujarat, who faced criminal charges ranging from poll code violation to attempt to murder, ten won the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls from the state. An FIR had been lodged against Narendra Modi on April 30 in Ahmedabad for violation of the Model Code of Conduct after he displayed a lotus, BJP’s poll symbol, before TV cameras and addressed a press conference on the premises of the school where he cast his vote. Later, at a rally in Tirupati, Modi had said that it was the first FIR of his life and he would never forget the day. Modi won the Vadodara seat by a margin of over 5.70 lakh votes.

Former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, who won the Gandhinagar seat defeating Kiritbhai Patel of Congress, is an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case of 1992. Some other candidates who won the elections include C R Patil from Navsari, Vitthal Radadiya from Porbandar and Devji Fatepura from Surendranagar constituency. One of the richest BJP candidates from the state, C R Patil, who won Navsari Lok Sabha seat, is facing cases pertaining to financial irregularities. Three cases are pending against him before the state recovery tribunal and one is pending before the Surat judicial magistrate court. Patil defeated Congress’ Maqsood Mirza by a margin of more than 5.58 lakh votes.

Vitthal Radadiya, who switched over to BJP in 2012, is facing the maximum number of criminal cases. The ten case include rioting, criminal assault, damage to public property, criminal intimidation and death threats. Radadiya defeated NCP candidate and deceased “Godmother” Santokben Jadeja’s son Kandhal, who is also facing severe criminal charges. BJP candidate from Surendranagar Lok Sabha seat Devji Fatehpura, who has defeated Soma Patel of Congress by a margin of 2.02 lakh votes, is facing charges for allegedly causing voluntarily causing hurt and intentionally insulting to provoke breach of peace.

Other victorious candidates who are facing criminal charges include Rajesh Chudasama from Junagadh, Prabhatsinh Chauhan from Panchamhal, Naran Kachhadiya from Amreli, Prabhu Vasava from Bardoli and Dilip Patel from Anand. Chudasama, who defeated Punja Vansh of Congress from Junagadh, is facing three cases of criminal assaults. Naran Kachhadiya, who won Amreli Lok Sabha seat, has been named in cases of attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and also under the Prevention of Atrocities Act for using derogatory remarks indicating the caste.

Prabhu Vasava, who had recently switched over to BJP from Congress, has also been booked under the sections of Prevention of Atrocities Act and was also allegedly involved in two cases of assault. Vasava contested from Bardoli Lok Sabha seat and defeated Congress candidate and former union minister Tushar Chaudhary. Prabhatsinh Chauhan, who won from Panchamahal, was booked in the cases of criminal conspiracy and was allegedly involved in the criminal breach of trust. Chauhan defeated Ramsinh Parmar of Congress by a margin of 1.70 lakh votes. Dilip Patel, who defeated former union minister Bharat Solanki, is facing four criminal cases under criminal breach of trust.



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Was ‘supari’ gang on its way to eliminate Akbar Owaisi? (May 19, 2014, Times of India)

Have police stumbled upon a plot to eliminate a high-profile legislator in the city? A team from Hyderabad has rushed to Bangalore to question members of a Karnataka-based dacoit gang who were nabbed by the Hindupur police, reportedly on a mission to execute a ‘supari’ killing in the city.

On a tip-off from the Hindupur police, their Karnataka counterparts on Sunday nabbed three notorious dacoits Vasu, Manjunath and Govind from their hideout in Hindupur based on information given by another gang member, K Girish alias Giri from Tumkur in Karnataka.

Talking to TOI on phone, Penukonda deputy superintendent of police (DSP) N Subba Rao said the dacoit gang, headed by Girish, was wanted in over 80 cases in Karnataka. “The gang members had taken shelter in Hindupur after committing a series of offences in Karnataka.

Information about the gang came to light when Girish, who was in an inebriated condition, met with a road accident after his Honda Activa crashed into a road-divider in Hindupur while he was heading towards Karnataka.”…



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RAW officer sentenced to ten years imprisonment in dowry death case (May 14, 2014, IBN)

A RAW officer was on Wednesday sentenced to ten years rigorous imprisonment by a court in Bihar’s Patna district which found him guilty of burning to death his wife for dowry in 2008. Additional District and Sessions Judge-XI Anil Kumar Singh passed the order sentencing the officer, Manish Kumar Singh, to ten years RI and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000.

Singh, posted as RAW Deputy Field Officer at Danapur, had married in Kanpur on December 13, 2002. His wife Shibu Singh was burnt to death at their house in Maurya Vihar locality near BMP 16 camp office under Phulwarisharif police station on August 21, 2008. The victim’s mother Kiran Rathore had lodged an FIR against her son in-law and five other family members accusing them of murdering her daughter for dowry.

The names of the five other accused were not in the charge sheet as their role in the murder case could not be proved by the investigators, according to the prosecution. The complainant, a native of Kidwai Nagar locality in Kanpur, had alleged that her daughter was killed by her husband and in-laws after she failed to meet their demand for Rs ten lakh in cash.

Rathore said that she had been told by her daughter two days before the incident that the money should be provided within a couple of days or she would be tortured. Her son-in-law also allegedly told her that her daughter would be harmed if she failed to meet his demand.



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Cops Accused of Assaulting Dalit in Hazat, Locals Seek CB Probe (May 15, 2014, New Indian Express)

Tension ran high in Raghunathpur area here on Wednesday after a Dalit woman accused the police of assaulting her husband inside Ragunathpur police station hazat. The irate locals including human rights activists and leaders of different Dalit associations demanded a Crime Branch probe into the matter. Sources said the families of Sukant Das and Sudam Bhoi clashed on Monday over the repair of a thatched house. Both Sukant and Sudam lodged two separate complaints with Raghunathpur police. After registration of cases, police detained the duo and kept them in the hazat of the police station on Monday night.

However, locals found a severely injured Sukant lying unconscious at an isolated place in nearby Gopalpur on Tuesday morning. On being informed, Sukant’s family members rushed to the spot and took him to Raghunathpur hospital. Sukant was shifted to district headquarters hospital and later to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack after his condition worsened.

It is alleged that Sukant was beaten up inside the police hazat and later dumped at an isolated place by the cops. Sukant’s wife Malati alleged that her husband was assaulted by the IIC of Raghunathpur police station and constables at 1 am on Monday. “The police then took severely injured Sukant in their van and threw him at Gopalpur,” she said.

Some local villagers witnessed police dumping him at Gopalpur during the wee hours, she claimed. Superintendent of Police Satyabrat Bhoi and other officials rushed to the hospital to inquire about the condition of Sukant. SP Bhoi said a sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) has been directed to investigate into the matter.

Refuting the allegation, SDPO Manoj Kumar Mahant said Sukant was attacked by Sudam inside the police hazat. Police have no role in the assault on Sukant. Another case has been registered against Sudam in this regard and he has been forwarded to court, the SDPO added. Human rights activists and advocate Susant Kanungo and Dalit community leader Debendra Mallick condemned the police brutality and said the case should be handed over to the Crime Branch for a free and fair probe.



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Opinions and Editorials

Gujarat Riots: Will Modi follow Manmohan? – By By Mumtaz Alam, Abu Zafar (May 20, 2014, India Tomorrow)

The 82-year-old finance executive had little to do with politics when he became prime minister of the country, had no role – direct or indirect – with the 1984 anti-Sikh riot and none of the victims, human rights organizations or political opposition had remotely blamed him for the gruesome killing of around 3000 Sikhs in the wake of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Yet, when Dr. Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister of the country he thought it necessary to offer a sincere apology for the pogrom. Will 63-year-old RSS pracharak-turned politician Narendra Modi follow him for the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riot?

Compared to Manmohan, Modi was not just ruling Gujarat when over 2000 innocent Muslims were killed in one of the bloodies anti-Muslim riots of Independent India, he has in fact been accused for first facilitating the riot, turning Nelson’s eye when Gujarat was burning and then protecting the culprits when they were brought to book. Since the riot 12 years ago, many people have been asking him to apologise for the killings even though many many others said apology is not enough – first culprits however tall they should be punished, and victims should be given full justice. But Modi has always refused sometimes directly and sometimes diplomatically to offer any apology.

His so-far attitude may have been because he did not want to antagonise saffron constituency in Gujarat – which helped him win three assembly polls in a row – and also because he was eying Prime Minister’s post. Now that the Lok Sabha elections 2014 are over and Narendra Modi is set to become Prime Minister of the country in a week thanks to the impressive landslide victory of his BJP, the question of apology has once again come up. However, neither community leaders nor social activists are hopeful that Modi will show any such statesmanship. …



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How Secure Are India’s Elections? – By Cleo Paskal (May 14, 2014, Huffington Post)

…The problems with EVM security have been widely known since the large-scale irregularities in Florida during the 2000 elections. Many countries have moved to get rid of them. In 2006 Dutch TV aired adocumentary showing how easy it was to hack the EVMs that were about to be used in their general election. The machines were subsequently withdrawn and the Netherlands went back to paper ballots. Germany has declared EVMs unconstitutional. And, after spending close to $75 million on its EVMs, Ireland found them to be so insecure they literally scrapped them.

In 2009, Steve Stigall, a CIA cybersecurity expert, told the U.S. Election Assistance Commission there were concerns over electronic vote-rigging in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine. According to the McClatchy report on his testimony: [Stigall] said that elections also could be manipulated when votes were cast, when ballots were moved or transmitted to central collection points, when official results were tabulated and when the totals were posted on the Internet.

Concerns about the Indian EVMs were raised during the 2009 election in part as a result of an astounding discovery on the Elections Commission of India (ECI) website. Dr. Anupam Saraph, at the time Chief Information Officer for the city of Pune, and Prof. M D Nalapat, Vice-Chair of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, discovered files on the ECI website that seemed to show election results days before votes were actually cast and counted.

India’s 2009 elections were held in 5 phases, running from April 16 to May 13. Counting was not supposed to begin until all the phases were complete. Before the voting started, Saraph and Nalapat decided to track the elections and create a wiki for constituencies and candidates, with data sourced from Excel files on the ECI website. The ECI spreadsheets contained what you would expect: candidate’s name, gender, address, party, etc. But, starting May 6, the spreadsheet changed and something unexpected was added.

From May 6 onwards, the candidate’s name was ‘coded’, based on their position on the EVM, and the number of ‘votes polled’ were added, even though voting had yet to take place in many constituencies and, even where voting had taken place, votes were yet to be counted. Even more confounding, the ‘votes polled’ numbers were adjusted in subsequent spreadsheets before the results were announced. …



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Narendra Modi and the new face of India – By Pankaj Mishra (May 16, 2014, The Guardian)

… Modi is a lifelong member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a paramilitary Hindu nationalist organisation inspired by the fascist movements of Europe, whose founder’s belief that Nazi Germany had manifested “race pride at its highest” by purging the Jews is by no means unexceptional among the votaries of Hindutva, or “Hinduness”. In 1948, a former member of the RSS murdered Gandhi for being too soft on Muslims. The outfit, traditionally dominated by upper-caste Hindus, has led many vicious assaults on minorities. A notorious executioner of dozens of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 crowed that he had slashed open with his sword the womb of a heavily pregnant woman and extracted her foetus. Modi himself described the relief camps housing tens of thousands of displaced Muslims as “child-breeding centres”.

Such rhetoric has helped Modi sweep one election after another in Gujarat. A senior American diplomat described him, in cables disclosed by WikiLeaks, as an “insular, distrustful person” who “reigns by fear and intimidation”; his neo-Hindu devotees on Facebook and Twitter continue to render the air mephitic with hate and malice, populating the paranoid world of both have-nots and haves with fresh enemies – “terrorists”, “jihadis”, “Pakistani agents”, “pseudo-secularists”, “sickulars”, “socialists” and “commies”. Modi’s own electoral strategy as prime ministerial candidate, however, has been more polished, despite his appeals, both dog-whistled and overt, to Hindu solidarity against menacing aliens and outsiders, such as the Italian-born leader of the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, Bangladeshi “infiltrators” and those who eat the holy cow.

Modi exhorts his largely young supporters – more than two-thirds of India’s population is under the age of 35 – to join a revolution that will destroy the corrupt old political order and uproot its moral and ideological foundations while buttressing the essential framework, the market economy, of a glorious New India. In an apparently ungovernable country, where many revere the author of Mein Kampf for his tremendous will to power and organisation, he has shrewdly deployed the idioms of management, national security and civilisational glory. …

His ostensibly gratuitous assault on Muslims – already India’s most depressed and demoralised minority – was another example of what the social anthropologist Arjun Appadurai calls “a vast worldwide Malthusian correction, which works through the idioms of minoritisation and ethnicisation but is functionally geared to preparing the world for the winners of globalisation, minus the inconvenient noise of its losers”. Certainly, the new horizons of desire and fear opened up by global capitalism do not favour democracy or human rights. Other strongmen who supervised the bloody purges of economically enervated and unproductive people were also ruthless majoritarians, consecrated by big election victories. The crony-capitalist regimes of Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand and Vladimir Putin in Russia were inaugurated by ferocious offensives against ethnic minorities. The electorally bountiful pogrom in Gujarat in 2002, too, now seems an early initiation ritual for Modi’s India.

The difficulty of assessing his personal culpability in the killings and rapes of 2002 is the same difficulty that Musil identifies with Moosbrugger in his novel: how to measure the crimes, however immense, of individuals against a universal breakdown of values and the normalisation of violence and injustice. “If mankind could dream collectively,” Musil writes, “it would dream Moosbrugger.” There is little cause yet for such despair in India, where the aggrieved fantasy of authoritarianism will have to reckon with the gathering energies below; the great potential of the country’s underprivileged and voiceless peoples still lies untapped. But for now some Indians have dreamed collectively, and they have dreamed a man accused of mass murder. …



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A different kind of a victory – in Gujarat – By Ujjwala Nayudu (May 18, 2014, Indian Express)

Shahwan remembers the day nearly 11 years ago that the Gujarat Police came to arrest his father Adam Sulaiman Mansuri alias Adam Ajmeri. He especially remembers how his mother pleaded with them, telling them her husband was an innocent mechanic and not a terrorist involved in the attack on the Akshardham temple of a year ago. Shahwan remembers the visits to jail on Eid, and that every time, his father broke down, saying he had nothing to give him for the festival.

On a day that little else registered in the Narendra Modi wave sweeping the country, came the news that the Ajmeris had been waiting for. Pulling up the Gujarat Police for framing “innocent” people in the Akshardham case, the Supreme Court ordered that all the six convicted by the lower court, including Adam, be freed. It also accused the then Gujarat home minister of “non-application of mind”. Modi had held the portfolio in November 2003 when sanction to prosecute the six under POTA was granted. Two of the accused have already finished their terms.

In September 2002, two armed attackers had entered the Akshardham temple complex in Gandhinagar, and killed 30 people and injured more than 80. Both the attackers had been killed. Adam and four others were arrested from Shahpur and Dariapur areas of Ahmedabad in August 2003, and the sixth accused from Uttar Pradesh days later. Sentenced to death, Adam is currently lodged in Sabarmati Central Jail. News of Adam’s acquittal sent a cheer through his Shahpur mohalla. His emotional wife Naseem Bano, 40, said she had struggled to raise Shahwan and elder brother Almas (20) on the money she made from embroidery work and stitching of burqas.

“My own family, brothers cut all ties saying my husband was a terrorist. Those in the neighbourhood supported us as they knew the real Adam – a poor mechanic who worked with his father to make ends meet.” Adam’s family kept Naseem out even when his mother died six months ago. Recently the brothers opened a small handkerchief shop at home. Shahwan, who is waiting for his Class X board results, hopes to study further. “My father always told my elder brother to take care of Ammi. My brother dropped out to work but it is my father’s wish that I study,” he says. Dressed in a new pair of jeans and shirt bought for a family wedding, the 16-year-old adds, “Now that Abba is coming back, family members will realise that he was framed.” …



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‘Should minorities be deprived of quality education?’ – By Parmod Kumar (May 12, 2014, Business Standard)

A Supreme Court judgment holding that the RTE Act guaranteeing free education to children from socially and economically-backward sections is not applicable to minority-run institutions is not finding many takers in the legal fraternity who feel it is flawed and would deprive hundreds of thousands of children from vulnerable sections of quality education.

Though a few swear to the minorities the right to administer their institutions without any interference by the state as the law stands today, others feel that no exceptions could be made for implementing rights-based laws like the right to free education. Another view is that the state should not interfere with education at all.

The judgment by a five-judge constitution bench has come in for critical appraisal on the grounds that the rights conferred on minorities under the Constitution’s article 30 (1) to establish and administer their institutions could not be taken recourse to restrict the application of the progressive law that confers the right to education on all children.

Besides this, some legal experts feel that an 11-judge-bench verdict in the 2002 T.M.A. Pai Foundation case needs to be revisited as it was coming in the way of children being admitted to these schools and that article 30(1) could not be read in absolute terms, when even fundamental rights are subject to reasonable restrictions.

In this case, the apex court granted absolute immunity to private, unaided educational institutions, including those of minorities, in admissions, leaving them to decide the manner in which students should be taken in and barred any interference by the state. Legal experts, however, said that the rights that minorities get under article 30(1) could not be elevated above the fundamental rights, noting there are regions in West Bengal and other eastern and northeastern states where bulk of the schools are run by the minorities.…



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Where everyone is a minority – By Sanjoy Hazarika (May 7, 2014, The Hindu)

The grim and bloody incidents in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), that narrow wedge of land in western Assam where everyone is a minority – or rather a non- majority since their numbers don’t have it – have been aggravated by the verbal violence of our politicians, the blame game and the total incapacity of the State government to deal with existing conditions.

For the second time in less than two years, thousands of Muslims and smaller numbers of Bodos are fleeing their homes, frightened by their complete vulnerability to gun-wielding terrorists, the nightmare of seeing loved ones, ranging from infants to elders, butchered in front of them and, perhaps worse still, the fearful knowledge that the government can’t protect them.

Today, the capacity of the Congress-led government in Assam to ensure the protection of minorities is being gravely questioned. For in every major communal clash or bout of violence in the Bodo areas – 1993, 2008, 2012 and now – a Congress Party government has ruled Dispur.

The State government’s seeming failure may be a tipping point for the last round of the Lok Sabha election elsewhere in the country. Ironically, the greatest violence in the country during an otherwise seemingly flawless massive election exercise has been, ironically, in the home area of one of the country’s Election Commissioners, H.S. Brahma, who is incidentally a Bodo.…



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