IAMC Weekly News Roundup - May 23rd, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 23rd, 2016

 this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

‘Promote communal harmony’ (May 23, 2016, The Hindu)

Expressing concern over people identifying themselves on caste and communal lines, Assistant Superintendent of Police S. Sarvesh Raj has exhorted students and younger generation to work towards creating casteless society and promote communal harmony.

Addressing the concluding ceremony of free summer coaching camp, organised by the ‘Ramnad Hawks Athletic Club’ here on Sunday, he said the district was widely known as a communally sensitive to outsiders and it was the responsibility of the younger generation to remove the ‘dubious distinction’ and make the district progressive and developing.

There was a unique practice of people identifying themselves with their communities in the district and the youngsters should change the trend.… The district could be freed from communal tensions if they were guided properly, the IPS officer said.


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‘Irrefutable’ evidence against RSS leader in Malegaon blast, says AAP (May 19, 2016, First Post)

Accusing Union Minister Kiren Rijiju of “misleading” the nation on RSS functionaries’ alleged role in the Malegaon blast case, the AAP today said there was “indeed” an evidence, including call records, to prove their “involvement”.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan said, “Rijuju in his tweet denied existence of senior IPS officer Navneet Rajan’s note saying he had been transferred to his parent cadre from the CBI in 2009 and that there was no question of existence of any such report.”

Khetan claimed that Rajan had also prepared a report indicting senior RSS functionary Indresh Kumar. Quoting the report, Khetan said, “These are evidence which can be used against Indresh Kumar. We must examine him to elicit more information. Further we may inform the MHA about the activities of RSS, as RSS cadres are involved along with top leaders in terrorist activities, to initiate appropriate action as per law.”…



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In two years, over 16 booked by Maharashtra ATS let off by courts (May 14, 2016, Indian Express)

While the National Investigation Agency’s latest chargesheet in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case is a setback for the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, it is not the first. In the last two years, over 16 booked by the agency have been discharged or acquitted by courts.

One of the first acquittals took place in July 2014 when a sessions court acquitted Mohammed Sharif Thakkar and Mohammed Ishaque from the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act under which they had been charged as alleged recruiters for a terrorist outfit. The two were, however, convicted under the Arms Act.

They were set free as they had spent four years in jail, more than the three-year sentence they were awarded. The court, however, found no evidence to link them to charges of terrorism.…



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U.P. challenges acquittal of Muslim men (May 15, 2016, The Hindu)

The Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh has challenged the acquittal of six Muslim men who were absolved of terror charges last October after they spent almost nine years in jail.

The State filed a petition in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on February 25 for leave to appeal from the acquittal order of the six Muslim youth. On February 29, the HC summoned the lower court’s records and listed the matter after six weeks for consideration of prayer for grant of leave to appeal from the acquittal.…

The State’s decision to challenge their acquittal has shocked the six men who were exonerated of all charges after almost nine years in jail.… The counsel of the six acquitted, Mohammad Shoaib described the State’s action as “rubbing salt on wounds” of the minority community. He alleged that the Akhilesh Yadav government had challenged the acquittal merely to appease the majority community ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections.…



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Aurangzeb erased, VK Singh wants Akbar Road renamed after Maharana Pratap (May 18, 2016, Indian Express)

Nine months after Aurangzeb Road in the heart of New Delhi was renamed Dr A P JAbdul Kalam Road, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh has asked the government to rename Akbar Road, also in Lutyens’ Delhi, as Maharana Pratap Road because the Rajput king “has not been given his due” despite being “truly secular and a man of masses”.

Akbar Road is home to several who form the power elite of the country and houses the headquarters of the Congress party. In a letter to Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday, Singh said “important personalities like Maharana Pratap and Chhatrapati Shivaji deserve greater recognition than they have been given thus far”.…

The Delhi government, sources said, was yet to receive any proposal on the renaming of Akbar Road. “History cannot be tampered with everyday. There is no proposal so far but you cannot go about changing names of roads at the drop of a hat. What is the need for this?” sources said.…



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“Strong evidence” of discrimination against Muslims seeking house on rent in Delhi: Helsinki Institute study (May 20, 2016, Counterview)

A recent study by a top Helsinki-based institute has found “strong evidence of discrimination against Muslim applicants” seeking to take house on rent in the National Capital Region of Delhi. The study is based, to quote, “A web-based audit of the market for rental properties offered directly by owners/landlords using a sample of 170 rental properties in the Delhi region.”

Pointing towards the discrimination of Muslims, the study says, “Where the probability that a landlord contacts an upper-caste applicant is 0.35, this is only 0.22 for a Muslim applicant.”

“This points to a significant disadvantage faced by Muslim applicants relative to upper-caste Hindus, who must expend significantly more effort to find housing”, the paper says, noting, however, that OBCs or Dalits do not face such strong discrimination.…



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California community debates ‘saffronising’ textbooks, Dalits, rewriting of South Asian history (May 22, 2016, First Post)

While people on the Indian subcontinent slept through the early hours of Friday morning, a contentious hearing on South Asian history concluded in San Francisco, where over 200 people, most of South Asian origin, came forward to speak. One side, a lobby of Hindu groups, is concerned with presenting a view of Indian history that they are comfortable with – one that they say doesn’t lead to Hindu children being bullied at school and that ensures “Hinduism and Indian history are accurately and equitably represented”.

The other side, a coalition of groups across religion, caste, nationality and gender called South Asian Histories For All (SAHFA), see this as an attempt to sanitize South Asian history by playing down India’s patriarchal, casteist past, portray Hindus as the original inhabitants of India, and deny the positive contributions of non-Hindus.

Since the end of 2015, the California State Board of Education has been on a drive to revise its curriculum framework to reflect diversity. On Thursday, 19 May, a final public hearing was held before the Instructional Quality Commission to decide on revisions to the framework suggested by the Hindu groups and SAHFA. The stakes are high, as other American states also use California’s framework as the basis for their own curricula.…



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Asaram’s henchman wanted to acquire AK-47:Police (May 23, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Asaram’s alleged henchman Karthik Haldar, suspected of shooting dead three key witnesses of two rape cases against the self-styled godman and his son Narayan Sai, planned to acquire an AK-47 rifle for eliminating other witnesses, police said.

Haldar, a sharp-shooter and staunch follower of Asaram, was arrested from Raipur in Chhattisgarh on March 13 in a joint operation by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the city Crime Branch. He is now in the custody of Rajasthan Police for further probe, city Crime Branch’s Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) K N Patel said on Monday.

During his interrogation here, Haldar admitted that he wanted to acquire an AK-47 rifle or a similar capacity “large” weapon to carry out the killings, Patel said. “In his statement, Haldar admitted that other sadhaks (disciples) of Asaram collected Rs 25 lakhs to fund the operation of eliminating the witnesses. In a meeting with these sadhaks, it was decided that a large weapon, such as AK-47, must be acquired to carry out the killings,” he said.…



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#PoMoneModi: Angry Kerala responds to PM Modi’s Somalia comparision (May 13, 2016, Indian Express)

India was confused. #PoMoneModi was trending on Twitter, but beyond the Western Ghats, most had no clue what it meant. Yet there was no such confusion in the little strip of land between the mountain ranges and the Arabian Sea.

Kerala had taken to social media with one-liners and memes to tell the world it was not accepting the comparison with Somalia, at least not without a 140-character fight. The trend started Wednesday in reaction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi comparing Kerala with Somalia at an election rally in the state.…

As Chief Minister Oommen Chandy wrote to the PM objecting to the statement, thousands of tweets were being posted with the #PoMoneModi hashtag. As the day progressed, #PoMoneModi clocked over 40,000 tweets with a reach of 7,452,648, according to keyhole.co which tracks hashtags.…



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Bastar And The Bogey Of Anti-Nationalism (May 26, 2016, Countercurrents)

WSS (Women against Sexual Repression and State Violence) strongly condemns two recent incidents of harassment, malicious intimidation and vilification employed by the BJP government and its youth wing, the Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha, to silence critics of the ruling regime’s policies in Bastar.

The first incident concerns the harassment and detention of villagers, Mangla of Nama and Manju Kawasi of Gadiras, Sukma district, who had helped a team of academics and activists conduct a study tour from May 12th to May 16th in the districts of Kanker, Bastar, Sukma and Bijapur.

The team, comprising of Prof Nandini Sundar of Delhi University, Prof. Archana Prasad, a member of the JNU faculty and an office bearer of AIDWA, Vineet Tiwari of the Joshi-Adhikar Institute and of the CPI, and Sanjay Parate of the CPI(M) found that several areas of the Bastar division were facing a situation reminiscent of the Salwa Judum period, when several tens of thousands of villagers were forced to flee their villages due to the violence between state-sponsored militias and the Naxalites.…



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Why Hinduism And The Violence Of Caste Are Two Sides Of A Coin (May 20, 2016, Huffington Post)

California textbooks have become ground zero for an alliance of organizations led by right wingers such as the Hindu American Foundation who are working to wipe out caste (and its relevance to the slavery-like conditions suffered by caste-ed subjects) from the curriculums of California textbooks. The organization’s goal seems to be to achieve in the US what has been difficult to do in India – erase caste, diminish its violence, and remove the assertion of Dalits.

To do so, it is involving the feelings of children to invite sympathy. This kind of heavily funded advocacy by Hindu right groups also demonstrates the audacity of the privileged castes, who feel free to meddle with recorded histories of oppression. Their efforts, however, are shortsighted.

To start with, no one is just Hindu. Everyone is identified by his or her caste, which is predetermined before birth and stays all through life; there’s no flexibility to change one’s caste status. An identity is fixed more to caste than religion. Any attempt to suggest otherwise is a vulgar attempt to derecognize the conglomeration of a healthy 7000-plus castes and sub-castes that are glittering in the Hindu system.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Why saffron terror is not a myth – By Ashok Swain (May 20, 2016, Scroll.in)

The National Investigation Agency recently decided to drop all terror related charges against the 2008 Malegaon blast accused, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. The decision of the NIA to overlook earlier findings of investigative agencies against Singh has been along predicted lines under the Narendra Modi regime.

In recent days, the NIA has also diluted several serious charges against Army officer Shrikant Purohit and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member Swami Aseemanand – two high-profile faces accused of committing terror acts targeted at Muslims, including the Samjhauta Express bombing in 2007 in which 68 people were killed. However, the decision to drop all charges against Thakur has given Hindutva groups the opportunity to paint saffron terror as a myth.…

In the post-Gujarat riot days, some Western commentators wrote about the threats from Hindu terror groups to minorities in India. However, the parlance did not reach India till 2010, when Home Minister P Chidambaram described the threat as “saffron terrorism” to a gathering of intelligence officials. Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time. Taking a swipe at Chidambaram, Modi asked him to name the colour for terror in Kashmir. The Hindu Hridaya Samrat even organised a Bhagwa Gaurav Andolan (saffron pride campaign) in his state following Chidambaram’s remarks.…



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On Modi Led BJP Govt’s Foreign Policy – By CP Bhambhri (May 29, 2016, Peoples Democracy)

Narendra Modi, the chief executive of Indian democracy has been riding on the back of three horses’ – the globalised monopoly capitalist classes of India, the transnational monopoly capitalism and the Hindu Sangh Parivar of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and every important agenda of the Modi government is guided and determined by the interests and goals of these three driving forces which have guided prime minister Modi in decisions from 2014 to 2016.

If on one hand, every basic economic policy followed by the Modi government during its two years of rule has been openly supportive of monopoly capitalists like Adanis, Ambanis, Mittals, Birlas et al, on the other, the Modi led government has aggressively pursued pro-imperialist policies and strengthened the linkages between domestic monopoly capitalism and monopolists of imperialist countries. The leadership of imperialist finance capital of transnational corporations is in the hands of the most powerful military and economic power wielded by the United States of America.

Narendra Modi has gone out of his way to curry favour with the Americans. The ideological and political supporters of pro-American Modi are shouting from rooftop that in these two years (2014-2016), Modi is the only prime minister who has established deep personal relationship with US president Barack Obama and the evidence provided by Modi’s supporters in support of their claim is that Modi has visited America five times in a short period of two years of his prime ministership.…



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After Gujarat, are Rajasthan’s history textbooks the latest Hindutva experiment? – By Shoaib Daniyal (May 18, 2016, Scroll.in)

…Leaving aside Gandhi, Nehru was India’s most popular politician from the 1930s to his death in 1964. For all the elections, the Congress fought in those three decades, starting from the first mass-based vote in 1937, Nehru was the party’s chief vote gatherer. And, of course, he was India’s first Prime Minister, holding together the nascent state after two centuries of colonial rule.

Yet, these towering achievement aren’t good enough for Bharatiya Janata Party ruled-Rajasthan, which has slashed him out from its textbooks, omitting to mentioning his role as either in British India or as India’s first prime minister. Even his seminal “Tryst with Destiny” speech, welcoming the dawn of Indian Independence has been excised. That’s not all. Rajasthan it seems also has an issue with the Right to Information Act, again expunging it from its textbooks.…

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Gujarat was widely known as the laboratory for Hindutva. Now, it seems Rajasthan leads that field of research with Nehru, Akbar and the RTI being upstaged by a holy ruminant.



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Social Status Of Minorities And The Hindu Nation – By Nagesh Chaudhary (May 16, 2016, Countercurrents)

M. S. Golwalkar, the second RSS chief, was the most revered ideologue who induced in RSS and combine’s other organs complexes of extra superiority. His views on minorities are vivid examples of this mindset in his book “We or Our nationhood Defined” (1939). In that book he denies even the citizen’s rights to the minorities. He equates them with enemy or calls them enemies.

But, his views about their social status in the scheme of Hindu social order are not known so widely. The social status of the minorities in the minds of Hindu nationalists can be gauged from the views of Golwalkar because they are not individual views, they represent viewpoint of the entire RSS combine.

Golwalkar has instilled a sort of arrogance in the RSS cadres. During his tenure as RSS chief (1940-1973) the plan to murder Gandhi was hatched and he was one of the accused. The conspiracy to murder Gandhi was hatched by Hindu nationalists of different organisations.…



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Victory for Identity Politics, Not Hindutva in Assam – By Udayon Misra (May 28, 2016, EPW)

Defying all demographic equations, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance has swept the polls in Assam, winning 86 of the 126 seats in the state assembly. The Congress, which ruled the state for three terms, has been reduced to just 24 seats. This was certainly not the result of a Modi wave. Rather, it was the result of the BJP’s success in garnering the support of regional forces like the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the Rabha, Tiwa and other plains tribal organisations.

There was no Hindutva agenda as such in these elections and the emphasis was clearly on preserving the identity and culture of the indigenous people of the state in the face of swift demographic change triggered by “infiltration” from neighbouring Bangladesh.…

The innate secular strength of Assamese society will hopefully prevent such a rightist slide. Nonetheless, the presence of Hindu spiritual leaders at the swearing-in ceremony of the new government is bound to send a wrong signal to all those who voted for a change in government, not because of religious reasons but because they hoped that the new government would seriously address the major issues confronting the people of Assam.



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Money power unplugged – By V. Venkatesan (Jun 10, 2016, Frontline)

The Election Commission’s (E.C.) decision to postpone the Assembly elections in just two constituencies in Tamil Nadu by one week after it found evidence of cash distribution to voters by agents of the two main political parties has led to considerable dismay among observers. The E.C. justified the move on the grounds that the vitiating effect of the cash distribution would weaken in a week.

This bizarre explanation has led many to ask whether the E.C. has adequate powers to stem the alarming rise in the influence of the money power of recognised political parties on the electoral process. (It subsequently said in the Madras High Court, which was hearing a plea on the postponement issue, that it would put it off by a further three weeks, to June 13.)

The E.C. has expressed concern, from time to time, that money power is disturbing the level playing field and vitiating the integrity of the electoral process. On August 29, 2014, the E.C. announced guidelines to bring transparency and accountability in the funding of political parties. Ironically, it prepared these guidelines after inviting suggestions from the parties themselves. The guidelines appear to be nothing more than a tweaking of the existing requirements under the law.…



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Book Review

Communal Violence, Forced Migration and the State: Gujarat Since 2002

Author: Sanjeevini Badigar Lokhande
Reviewed by: Shaikh Mujibur Rehman
Available at: Cambridge University Press, University Printing House, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8BS, United Kingdom. http://www.amazon.in/
What makes for citizenship? (May 21, 2016, The Hindu)

The research for the book under review began as a doctoral dissertation. Its key argument is to demonstrate how state-sponsored violence could create new challenges for an already persecuted minority and how deprivation and suffering could be pushed under the carpet by a regime that surreptitiously advances a majoritarian agenda. The book’s strength is the meticulous field work the author has undertaken in various regions of Gujarat; her countless interviews with victims and survivors of the Gujarat riots of 2002, and her attempt to connect with the larger explanations in the theoretical realm.…

The author updates us with the outcome of the 2014 election and shares some of her reflections. While I am sympathetic to the reality that the full display of a majoritarian state at the national level is yet to unfold, there is some indication it would not be any different from what was witnessed in Gujarat, except the depth of consequences. This begs another question which this research completely misses out on: how could a party with a majoritarian agenda manage to manoeuvre the politics of governance that was supposed to be inclusive and pluralistic in nature?

Is there something fundamentally flawed in the architecture of the Indian Constitution that leaves too many loopholes subconsciously to be exploited? It is time to reflect on these questions. The book is a very important addition to the literature on the study of violence and the government’s conduct in India; and scholars on the subject would profit by reading it.