IAMC Weekly News Roundup - May 30th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 30th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Sting claims political pressure in Gujarat riots (May 28, 2016, Indian Express)

Officials of the then Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government alleged political pressure in connection with the 2002 riots and the various alleged fake encounters in the state. They made these claims in a sting operation by former Tehelka journalist Rana Ayyub who has self-published what she calls excerpts from these purported conversations in “Gujarat Files – Anatomy of a cover up”.…

Ayyub, who has said that she recorded Modi, too, at his Gandhinagar residence – wearing a camera in her watch – did not release the sting tapes saying she would give them to investigating agencies if they asked for it.… Ayyub alleged that Tehelka, which had sent her on the assignment, refused to publish the story later citing “political pressure”.…

Ayyub claims in the book that she asked Ashok Narayan, who was additional chief secretary (home) in 2002: “You must have gone red in the face when the CM asked you to go slow (while controlling the riots).” She claimed that Narayan purportedly replied: “He would never do that. He would also never write anything on paper. He had his people and through them the VHP and then through them (it would) trickle down through informal channels to the lower-rung police inspectors.”…



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Modi “decided” to bring dead bodies from Godhra to Ahmedabad, triggering 2002 riots: Gujarat bureaucrat (May 25, 2016, Counterview)

A book by a well-known investigative journalist has claimed that a top Gujarat bureaucrat had told her during a sting operation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Gujarat chief minister, had made the “decision” of bringing 58 dead bodies, charred to death in the S-6 Sabarmati Express coach, from Godhra to Ahmedabad on February 27, 2002, triggering the riots in which at least 1,000 people died.

Pointing out that this gave the immediate reason for the riots to spread, the bureaucrat told journalist Rana Ayyub, who posed as Maithili Tyagi from the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles for the sting: “See, bringing the bodies to Ahmedabad flared up the whole thing but he was the one who took the decision”.

The sensational revelation has been made in “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover-Up”, already being described as “a racy memoir of reporting undercover in Modi’s Gujarat.”… Ayyub reveals, through twitter, that “very few editors in this country can deny that they refused to publish the transcripts, citing political pressure”, adding, ‘Gujarat Files’ has been “self-published by me after topmost publishers eased out citing political pressure.”…



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Scribe’s Book ‘Validates Cbi’s Evidence’ In Guj Fake Encounters (May 28, 2016, Mumbai Mirror)

Independent journalist Rana Ayyub’s new book on Gujarat fake encounters once again validates the CBI’s evidence against cops linked to the shootings, including the operation in which Mumbra’s Ishrat Jahan was killed, noted lawyer Indira Jaisingh said on Friday.

Jaisingh, who was the CBI’s counsel in the cases from 2009 to 2014, said the agency had gathered strong evidence, including phone records, against many Gujarat police officers involved in the encounters of Jahan, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati. Some of the cops were let off, while others are currently out on bail.

Jaisingh made the comments at the launch of Ayyub’s book, Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up, in a small but packed basement hall of Delhi’s India Habitat Centre on Friday. Five publications had reportedly rejected the book, which also touches on the events of the 2002 Gujarat riots, prompting Ayyub to self-publish it four days ago.…



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AAP minister alleges RSS members threatened street artists in Delhi (May 26, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Delhi culture minister Kapil Mishra has complained to the Delhi Police commissioner that members of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) allegedly intimidated an artist commissioned by the government.

On May 20, Akhlaq Ahmad was commissioned by the Delhi government to paint the walls along with French artist Swen Simon at the DJB office on GT Road in Shahdara.

“Suddenly a mob of over a hundred people gathered around the artists and intimidated them because they were writing in Urdu. These people who were led by several Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) members and leaders forced the artists to paint ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ over the text they had been working on. They were shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram and Narendra Modi and called the artists Lahoris,” Mishra alleged in a letter to commissioner Alok Verma.…



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Tripura textbook omits Indian history of freedom-fighting; gives way to Hitler, Marx (May 27, 2016, Business Standard)

After former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was dropped from Class 8 social science textbooks in BJP-ruled Rajasthan, Government schools run by the Tripura Left front state government will teach Class 9 students the history of Hitler, the Nazis, and the French and Russian revolutions in their history books, while omitting the Indian history of freedom-fighting.

The only national icon that figures in the book is Mahatma Gandhi, not for his contribution to India’s freedom movement but for his views on cricket.

The book penned by Kalyan Chaudhuri, former head of history department in Kolkata’s Maharaja Manindra Chandra College, features the Russian and French revolutions. It also devotes pages to the birth of cricket in England and IPL, Nazism and the rise of Adolf Hitler, and the history of agriculture.…



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After 23 years in jail, I am free but what you see now is a living corpse, says Nisar (May 30, 2016, Indian Express)

He could not walk, he could not sleep. That’s what 23 years in prison had done when they came to an end 17 days ago, in a Jaipur prison late in the evening. Nisar-ud-din Ahmad says when he stepped out, he saw his brother, two years older than him, Zaheer-ud-din Ahmad, waiting. “I felt a terrible heaviness in my legs. I froze. For a moment, I had forgotten I was free,” said Nisar.

Nisar was among three men who walked out from Jaipur jail after the Supreme Court acquitted them of all charges, setting aside their life sentence and ordering their immediate release on May 11. They were booked for five blasts onboard trains – on the first anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition – that killed two passengers and injured eight.

By the time they were acquitted, their families had been left shattered by the fight to prove their innocence. “I have clocked 8,150 days of the prime of my life inside the jail. For me, life is over. What you are seeing is a living corpse.”…



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Ayodhya: Bajrang Dal leader arrested over holding weapons training camp (May 26, 2016, Indian Express)

Days after a video purportedly showing Bajrang Dal volunteers receiving weapons training in Ayodhya went viral, Faizabad police Wednesday arrested Mahesh Mishra, convenor of the outfit’s Faizabad and Ayodhya units. Mishra has been charged with hurting religious sentiments of Muslims and spreading communal hatred.

The arrest comes after an FIR against unidentified Bajrang Dal workers was lodged at Ayodhya police station late on Tuesday night. On May 14, a ‘self-defence’ camp was organised at Karsevakpuram, the VHP workshop in Ayodhya. In the video that went viral Monday, volunteers wearing skull caps were reportedly seen brandishing firearm, swords and lathis.…

The complainant in the case is sub-inspector Shri Niwas Pandey, in-charge of Naya Ghat police outpost in Ayodhya police station area. The FIR has been filed at Ayodhya police station under IPC section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).…



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Christian pastor arrested by Hindu extremists for alleged forceful conversion in India (May 29, 2016, Christian Times)

A Christian pastor and two Christian women were put behind bars on Sunday, May 22, in Madhya Pradesh in Central India by a group of Hindu extremists on charges of forceful conversion and violations of a religious Indian Penal Code. Pastor V A Antony of the Brethren Church in Aber village, his wife Prabha, church member Praveen Choudhary, and the latter’s four-year-old son Paarth, were driving in the pastor’s car after the Sunday service when they were blocked by an SUV driven by four plain clothes policemen who asked the pastor to step out of his car, according to Barnabas Fund.

“They stopped me after we had traveled about 5 kilometres, slapped me and then asked me to leave for Satna,” Antony told Barnabas Fund. Antony recalled that he had met two of the four policemen seated in the car that same morning together with three Hindu extremists who accused him of forcing people to convert. He said the men told him “not to conduct Church service in the village, as there are no Christians here.” The men only left when policemen intervened after they started shouting at him in “the vilest language.”

The SUV kept tailing Antony’s car until they were joined by another car full of activists who belong to the Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary, volunteer organization. The three Hindu extremists who met Antony that morning were also in the car.…



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After communal clash, Petlad remains on edge (May 26, 2016, Times of India)

Four days after a communal clash, Petlad town of Anand district turned tense on Wednesday again after members of the minority community complained of police atrocities on some of the accused arrested for Sunday’s violence.

Police arrested 15 accused from both the communities in connection to the communal clash that had left seven persons including three cops injured. The clash had erupted in the town on Sunday evening after two groups of people from two communities came face to face over a petty issue.…

On Wednesday, the situation turned tense again when the cops were taking the accused to Anjanawada to identify other accused involved in the crime. The locals alleged that the cops had paraded the accused and even beat them while parading them bare foot. Soon, all the shops in the locality shut down their businesses while members of the minority community entered into heated arguments with the cops.…



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Govt of India “blocking” international Dalit network to freely associate with UN for eight long years: NGO letter (May 26, 2016, Counterview)

More than 230 NGOs have called on members of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to reform the practice of the Committee of NGOs that prevents certain human rights organisations, including the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), from associating freely with the United Nations (UN).

IDSN, posting a statement on its website, said, “This practice has turned the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs from a largely administrative body into a stumbling block for NGO access to the UN.”

It added, “One of the most extreme examples of obstruction is IDSN’s application for consultative status with ECOSOC. It has been effectively blocked for the past eight years by India, which has asked more than 70 questions in order to delay the process”.…



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Opinions and Editorials

#Modiversary: Harsh Mander on why he worries about the next three years of Modi government – By Harsh Mander (May 29, 2016, Scroll.in)

This blistering summer of 2016, two years have passed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi triumphantly assumed office, heading the first Bharatiya Janata Party-led national government with a comfortable majority in Parliament. Today the country he leads is even more bitterly divided than it was two years earlier, and ordinary people are visibly wearied with the unceasing bluster of false claims accompanied by little real improvement in the conditions of their hard lives.…

I believe that when this government is remembered in later years, it will be above all remembered as a “republic of lies”. It seems that people in the leadership of this government believe that simple-minded ordinary people would be convinced that the government is working for their welfare not by tangible evidence of improvement in the conditions of their lives, but instead by unceasing aggressive campaign-mode hectoring by the prime minister and massive expenditures on government advertising.…

I worry intensely about the three years ahead of Mr Modi’s continued stewardship of the country. I am convinced that a government like his that fails to deliver outcomes of a better life to the poor masses will be elected out of power eventually. But before it leaves, I agonise about how permanent and entrenched will be its assaults on the age-old traditions of peaceful coexistence that have been the civilisational hallmark and greatest cultural strength of this ancient unequal land.



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On Eve of PM Modi US Visit Senators Express “Deep” Worry About Religious Intolerance in India – By Natasha Singh (May 26, 2016, The Citizen)

It is not going to be a cakewalk for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will be in the United States for a second bilateral for a ‘working visit’ with US President Barack Obama. The Prime Minister was denied a state visit, despite considerable effort by the Indian Foreign Office, and had to finally settle for a working dialogue that will focus on hard issues and not be diverted by atmospherics and chemistry.

A major issue of concern before the US State Department is religious bigotry and intolerance in India. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal was quizzed at length less than two days ago by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Several Senators expressed deep concern about rising religious intolerance in India, and sought an assurance that the US State Department that it was taking this up with the Modi government.

Biswal repeatedly assured the Senators that the Obama Administration was well aware of these issues, was as concerned, and had been taking them at the highest level with India. “We are always looking for new ways to partner with India to advance human rights, strengthen democratic institutions, and support societies that are more inclusive, secular, and tolerant,” she said. This is unusual on the eve of a Prime Ministerial visit,…



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‘Gujarat Files’ review: Rana Ayyub’s book must be read by both sides of the political divide – By Pradeep Menon (May 29, 2016, First Post)

…In 2010, an independent filmmaker (and more important, an upper caste Hindu girl from the American Film Institute Conservatory in LA) interviewed a number of people, many of them high profile members of the law-and-order machinery of Gujarat in 2002, during research for a film about the state. That girl happened to be Rana Ayyub, undercover. Ayyub, who was with Tehelka at that time, clandestinely managed to record videos of her conversations over months, excerpts from which form the core of the book.…

Then-CM Narendra Modi’s alleged complicity in fanning the flames of the 2002 Gujarat riots has been hotly debated for nearly a decade and a half now, so talking about that would be akin to flogging the hypothetical dead puppy that (hopefully never) came under Modi’s car.

While the Godhra train burning and subsequent communal riots, remain a ghastly blot on the nation’s conscience, it would be unwise to look at these events in isolation. One of the things you’re reminded of while reading the book, as you assimilate the words of former top cops – those entrusted with the safety of citizens – is that Gujarat has always been a troubled, uneasy state vis-à-vis communalism. Multiple riots over decades festered a strained atmosphere, making the state a communal tinder box. All one needed to do, really, was strike a match.…



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When I Went Into Times Now TV Studio as a Journalist And Came Out Branded an Extremist! – By Asad Ashraf (May 27, 2016, The Citizen)

…Initially, when I got an invitation to join him on the debate on Batla House-ISIS, I was reluctant and said no to the desk coordinator of Times Now. But on her insistence and assurance that I will be given a fair chance to put across my points, I finally agreed, knowing little about how shallow this promise is going to turn out to be.

However, I was very clear about the consequences of my presence over there considering the fact that I am no bigwig of the industry and recalling what the same man had done to JNU student Umar Khalid and his comrades recently. But in the other side of my head, there was something else going on, something that has kept me disturbed since the last 8 years, an incident which caused me sleepless nights for weeks. This incident was none other than the Batla house encounter itself.…

As for the ISIS, I strongly oppose any such ideology that engages in mindless violence. But why should I be asked to condemn it? Surely like all sane Indian citizens my condemnation of such extremism and terror should be taken for granted. I do not ask Goswami and his ilk to stand up and condemn the violence in Gujarat by his co-religionists. Or the Christians to condemn Hitler just because he came from that religion? So why now as a Muslim am I being held responsible for all crimes of terror and extremism, to the point where I am being branded as one also?…



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Beef it is, but what about the guardians of culture, Dadri killers? – By Lalita Panicker (May 31, 2016, Hindustan Times)

…Instead of focusing on apprehending the criminals who not only killed Aklaq but also grievously injured his son Danish, the whole debate shifted to whether the meat in question was actually beef. Could the poor man have actually been done in even though he was storing meat other than beef, asked breathless television channels. For heaven’s sake, the man has every right to store whatever meat he wants in his own fridge in his own house for his own consumption without some self-righteous upholder of bovine rights barging in and attacking him.…

Then we were told that the poor man lost his life for no reason at all, the meat in question was mutton. Now, the meat in question is apparently beef. The clever bit of interchangeability could well work in justifying the heinous crime. But the real question is why it was necessary in the first place to devote so much attention to the meat. Has anyone any right to dictate what you can store in your fridge? If it was the meat of an endangered species, maybe the wildlife authorities could confiscate it.

The issue at hand is that under the guise of some misplaced religious zeal and cow protection, vigilante groups are taking the law into their own hands. The fact that these people can enter homes to examine the contents of one’s fridge is only a step away from them entering our personal lives and dictating our preferences not just in food but in our very lifestyles.…



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History revisited: Was Veer Savarkar really all that brave? – By Aijaz Ashraf (May 28, 2016, Scroll.in)

…Savarkar died in 1966. During his 83 years, he was involved in the political murder of three British officials. From the nationalist perspective, these murders have been cited as examples of Savarkar’s revolutionary zeal to violently uproot British rule, unmindful of the consequences.

Savarkar was also chargesheeted in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was subsequently exonerated, largely because no corroborative evidence of his involvement was furnished. It has helped perpetuate the myth of Savarkar the brave.

But this myth has been shattered because of the new evidence gathered over the years. He manipulated his followers to assassinate British officials, yet took care to conceal his links to the crimes he conceived. He did not hesitate to betray his acolytes, as he did Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Gandhi. His famed fortitude was rarely on display during his years of imprisonment in the Andamans. He tendered craven apologies to the British, willing to bargain for his own freedom, not the country’s.…



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Book Review

Gujarat FIles: Anatomy of a Cover Up

Author: Rana Ayyub
Reviewed by: Somi Das
Available at: Self published, Pages: 204; Price: Rs 295. https://www.amazon.com
Rana Ayyub’s book Gujarat Files is a tale of gritty journalism, with a heart (May 27, 2016, Catch News)

Investigative journalist Rana Ayyub’s book, Gujarat Files: An Anatomy of a cover up, has created a storm online.… Given Ayyub’s earlier work on fake encounters in Gujarat, the book was bound to create a buzz. And so it has. Just that much of this online buzz borders on abuse. Earlier, Catch had reported on how a whopping 410 reviewers on Amazon gave her book a rating of one star without even reading the book. The low rating was accompanied by abusive comments.

Ayyub tweeted about how she self-published braving several attempts at censorship. The book indeed deals with a very controversial subject: fake encounters in Gujarat under the watch of the then chief minister Narendra Modi. What makes it even more explosive is Ayyub’s goosebumps-inducing interviews with some of the most prominent and important figures who were in the thick of things in the state at that time.

Maya Kodnani, GL Singhal, Geeta Johri are among several others who speak to an undercover Ayyub. The result? Candid interviews divulging details of how things function in the highest echelons of power, where bureaucracy merely becomes a puppet in the hands of political masters, where the caste of an IPS officer decides his assignment and where religious bigotry drives administrative decisions.…