IAMC Weekly News Roundup - May 4th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – May 4th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Indian Americans urge India, US to heed USCIRF’s recommendations on safeguarding religious freedom in India

USCIRF Report for 2015 documents forced conversions of minorities to Hinduism, rising attacks on their places of worship and other restrictions on religious freedom

April 30, 2015

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has welcomed the recommendations on India in thereport released today by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and called on India to heed its recommendations. IAMC has also urged the US State Department to take cognizance of the report when issuing its own report on international religious freedom, and to act on USCIRF’s multiple recommendations on including religious freedom concerns in bilateral talks with India.

Of particular significance is the fact that the USCIRF report again places India on the Tier 2 list of countries where religious freedom is at risk. India has been on this list every year since 2009. The Chapter on India in the report documents violence as well as the sharp increase in hate campaigns against religious minorities, including Christians, Muslims and Sikhs. It notes with concern the renewed calls for legislating on a national level, anti-conversion laws that have been used to restrict freedom of religion in some states. The report has also cited physical violence, arson, desecration of churches and attempts to forcibly “reconvert” thousands of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. It clearly points to Hindu supremacist forces for most of the religiously motivated violence and attacks on freedom of religion. “The perpetrators are often individuals and groups associated with the RSS and VHP and operate with near impunity,” the report stated.

“The USCIRF report represents international recognition of the growing attacks on minorities in India by Hindutva forces, including those that are part of the ruling dispensation,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC). “India remaining on USCIRF’s Tier 2 list of countries since 2009 is an unfortunate but inevitable fact, given the ground realities in India. Instead of taking steps to address concerns about religious minorities, the BJP administration’s sectarian and divisive agenda has only resulted in a worsening of India’s record on religious freedom. The international community is rightly concerned about India’s religious minorities, given the attacks have targeted them, their institutions and places of worship and their ability to practice their religions. In the case of Sikhs, Hindutva elements have even targeted the community’s right to self-identification as a distinct religious community,” added Mr. Malick.

Although India’s traditionally pluralist society has seen a decline in religious freedom in the last two decades due to the growing influence of the supremacist ideology of Hindutva, the deterioration since the movement’s political wing came to power last year has been dramatic. From programs known as “ghar wapsi,” intended to forcibly convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism, to hate campaigns calling for the disenfranchisement of Muslims and the forced sterilization of Christians and Muslims, the situation of minorities under the BJP rule has become precarious.

IAMC has urged the US government to accept the report’s recommendation to integrate concern for religious freedom in its bilateral talks with India. “We believe the report’s recommendation is best fulfilled through an inclusion of religious freedom and human rights in the US-India Strategic Dialogue,” stated Mr. Khalid Ansari, Vice-President of IAMC.

Indian-American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our website at:https://www.iamc.com

Indian American Muslim Council
Phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
Facebook: Indian American Muslim Council
Twitter: @IAMCouncil
Address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.

USCIRF Issues its 2015 Annual Report

USCIRF Report 2015: Chapter on India

Indian Political Party Advocates the Denial of Voting Rights for Muslims

Hindu Mahasabha leader calls for forcible sterilization of Christians and Muslims

‘Reconversion’ of Religious Minorities Roils India’s Politics

RSS body seeks donations to fund Christmas ‘conversions’ in Aligarh

UN Official: India’s ‘Conversion’ Laws Threaten Religious Freedom

Shocking: Plans to name flyover after Gandhi’s assassin

How India is assassinating Gandhi’s legacy

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Communal Harmony

A worthy example for communal harmony (Apr 30, 2015, The Hindu)

The devotees of Ugra Lakshmi Narasimha Perumal Temple in Thammampatti town near here have set a worthy example for communal harmony and national integration by extending invitation to the members of the Muslim community in connection with the forthcoming Chithirai car festival.

The Chithirai car festival in this famous temple, attached to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department, is scheduled to be held for May 3 and May 4. The car festival is being conducted after a gap of seven years.…

The members of the organising committee decided to invite the members of the Muslim community for the car festival in an effort to strengthen the bond prevailing between both the communities for centuries together. As such, they visited the big mosque on Thammampatti bazar street on Tuesday and extended formal invitation to the members of the jamath to participate in the temple festival. The jamath leaders, who accepted the invitation, promised to participate in the festival, said a senior member of the organising committee. A cross-section of people of Salem district commended the gesture. They said that such initiative would go a long way in promoting communal harmony in the whole State.


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Bid to evoke ‘Godhra’ in UP town (May 4, 2015, The Hindu)

Days after Muslims in the Kandhla area of Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh clashed with the police over alleged assault of Tablighi Jamaat workers, the social media and local Whatsapp groups were abuzz with messages claiming a Muslim conspiracy to perform “another Godhra” in Shamli.

An angry crowd from Kandhla, a Muslim majority town, blocked the rail track on Saturday protesting against the alleged ill-treatment of a few Tablighi Jamaat volunteers on a local train near Badaut, in Baghpat.

The crowd threw stones at trains at Kandhla after which the Railway Police had to resort to lathi charge. After the clash, hundreds of social media users, mainly from western Uttar Pradesh, and led by those ideologically affiliated to the right of centre, alleged that Muslims in Kandhla captured and detained Hindu passengers at the railway station in an attempt to portray the incident as “another Godhra”. Mass messages were circulated mainly by numbers originating in western Uttar Pradesh claiming that “another Godhra” was enacted by Muslims at the Kandhla railway station on Saturday and alleged that the police and the media remained silent.…



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US panel questions RSS, VHP over attacks against minorities; slams “ghar wapsi” (Apr 30, 2015, Times of India)

A US panel tracking international religious freedom has, in its latest report on India, noted that religious minorities in the country were exposed to “derogatory” comments by leaders of the ruling BJP as well as “violent attacks and forced conversions by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)” since the Narendra Modi government took over last year.

It has also slammed the “ghar wapsi” campaign and accused the “Hindu nationalist groups” of offering monetary inducements not only to Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism but also to Hindus who carry out such “forced” conversions.

The findings of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), largely based on the accounts of religious leaders of the minorities and non-government organisations in India, have led it to place India on its Tier 2 list of countries for the seventh year in a row.…



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US asks India to explain action against 2 NGOs (Apr 26, 2015, Asian Age)

The US has expressed concern over India’s crackdown on funding to foreign NGOs operating in the country, Ford Foundation and Greenpeace, and said it is seeking a “clarification” in the matter. Talking to reporters in Washington on Friday, state department deputy acting spokesperson Marie Harf said, “We are aware that the (Indian) ministry of home affairs suspended the registration of Greenpeace India and has placed the Ford Foundation on a prior permission watchlist. We remain concerned about the difficulties caused to civil society organisations by the manner in which the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act has been applied.”

“We are concerned that this recent ruling limits the necessary and critical debate within Indian society and we are seeking a clarification on this issue with the appropriate Indian authorities,” Ms Harf said. However, sources in the government justified the latest move and maintained that a system of checks and balances has been put in place to ensure that no organisation is able to influence the country’s public and economic interests.

The MHA recently put Ford Foundation on its watchlist and ordered that all funds coming from the organisation have to be routed only with its nod, citing national security concerns. The MHA said it wanted to ensure that funds coming from Ford Foundation are utilised for “bona fide welfare activities without compromising on concerns of national interest and security”.…



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BJP MLA booked for ‘attacking’ policemen (May 3, 2015, The Hindu)

The police on Saturday registered a case against BJP MLA from Goshamahal Raja Singh for allegedly assaulting and threatening a constable after the cop asked some persons to stop playing loud music at a marriage procession last night.

The police said that at around 2 a.m., following complaints of sound pollution, a Blue Colt’s team reached the spot and asked the organiser, Vijendar Singh, to stop the music. “Instead, Vijendar along with few of his friends picked up an argument and obstructed the policemen,” Mangalhat Inspector R. Srinivas said.

As the baaratis did not stop the music, more policemen were rushed to the area. One of the constables switched off the DJ system following which a group of youngsters went to the house of MLA Raja Singh and complained to him. “Raja Singh along with a few of his followers came to the spot and abused the policemen. He then pushed a Sub Inspector and hit constable Chandrasekhar after threatening him,” Mr. Srinivas said.…



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Seven years later, 17 ‘SIMI men’ acquitted (May 1, 2015, Indian Express)

Seven years after 17 Muslim men, many of them medical students and engineers, were arrested by the Karnataka police on charges of terrorism and criminal conspiracy, for allegedly being associated with the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a trial court in Hubli on Thursday acquitted all of them.…

The investigations into the activities of the alleged SIMI men began in January 2008, following the arrests of Raziuddin Nasir and Asadullah Akhtar in the north Karnataka town of Honnali, after they were found to be using a motorcycle with a fake numberplate. Investigations led the police to an alleged larger conspiracy involving organisation of Muslim youth to take up arms under the banner of the proscribed SIMI. The case was handed over to the erstwhile Corps of Detectives of Karnataka. The COD probe reportedly found that over a dozen youths from Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh had been attending meetings in different parts of south India, including Karnataka, prior to the arrests.…

In a dramatic development during the trial, a bomb exploded in a court hall in Hubli on May 10, 2008 – a day before the accused were set to be produced in court. Investigations later revealed that rogue elements linked to right wing Hindutva groups were involved in the blast.



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‘Encounter’ of five Muslim UTs: Inquest Panchnama shows over a dozen bullets and other mysterious injuries on victims’ bodies (May 3, 2015, Twocircles.net)

The new official details emerging from the encounter of five under trial Muslim prisoners is likely to further drag the Telangana police and its government in more embarrassing position. The Inquest Panchnama report available with TwoCircles.net details injuries on dead bodies of the gory shoot-out. …

The Inquest Panchnama began with the dead body of Lucknow resident Izhar Khan, described as the D1 or Deceased 1. Izhar’s body had 18 bullet injuries. The injuries description on the Panchnama report details: 1) Three bullet injuries on the right leg 2) Three bullet injuries on right thigh 3) Three bullet injuries on left thigh 4) left and right front knee one bullet injury each 5) stomach left side one bullet injury and on right side two bullet wounds 6) Left shoulder one bullet injury.

Besides the above, the injuries which raise the eyebrows are: 7) Back head right side one bullet injury 8) Body lower back one bullet injury 9) Back of head on the above one more bullet injury. The above mentioned wounds clearly suggest that deceased was shot to kill from behind.…



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Cop gets life term for killing robber in ‘fake encounter’ (May 1, 2015, Times of India)

A fast-track court in Tiruvallur on Thursday awarded life sentence to a police constable for killing a robber in a fake encounter inside a police vehicle at Kanagamma Chathiram in 2009.…

Recalling the incident, a police officer said Murugan, head constable Alagesan and four other police personnel were escorting six undertrials, including Dhanasekar and Seemon, in a vehicle. When the vehicle was nearing Kanagamma Chathiram, Murugan entered into an argument with Dhanasekar and opened fire, killing him on the spot. Murugan was arrested based on Alagesan’s report.

As the encounter raised several doubts, the case was transferred to the CBI. Seemon and the four other undertrials were named witnesses. However, Seemon, who was released on bail, disappeared in 2011. After a long search, he was finally nabbed from a tea estate in Andhra Pradesh. Fast-track court judge Vetri Selvi pronounced the judgment on Thursday, convicting Murugan for the murder.



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Farmers who commit suicide are ‘cowards’, ‘criminals’: Haryana agriculture minister Dhankar (Apr 29, 2015, Indian Express)

As the debate on farmer suicide gathers momentum, a minister in Haryana has made shocking remarks that could put the Narendra Modi-led ruling dispensation in a dilemma. Agriculture Minister OP Dhankar told reporters on Wednesday that the farmers who commit suicide are ‘cowards’ and ‘criminals’. Since ‘suicide is a crime as per Indian laws’, he said the state government could not support those who were committing suicide as they were criminals under the rule of law.

Dhankar added that ‘coward’ farmers, who were committing suicide, were running away from their responsibilities and leaving their families with liabilities. Dhankar, who previously headed the BJP’s Kisan cell, often used to condemn the earlier UPA administration for not doing enough for farmers, leading to them committing suicides.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday vowed to raise voice for farmers on every platform and said the government should take into account their concerns and not just extend monetary assistance. Gandhi, who met farmers hit by unseasonal rains in Punjab and stayed here overnight after travelling by train to the NDA-ruled state, also took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking whether the farmers are not contributing to ‘Make in India’ by providing food to the entire country.…



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Beef Ban: Police should not invade the privacy of citizens, says Bombay HC (Apr 29, 2015, Indian Express)

The Bombay High Court Wednesday refused to stay the provision of new beef ban law which restricts people from procuring beef from outside Maharashtra, but directed the state government not to take any coercive action for its possession for three months in the state.

“No FIRs will be registered for possession of beef. At most, if any illegal slaughter is made, then an FIR shall be registered,” said Justices V M Kanade and M S Sonak. “We are of the view that the state not having granted reasonable time for disposing of beef products is admittedly unwarranted,” the court said.

Rapping the government for an “overnight” ban, the court said, “What was legal for 30 years has been declared illegal, even possession and import of beef, inviting serious consequences.”…



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Villagers claim cops tortured 20-year-old Dalit to death (Apr 21, 2015, Times of India)

A 20-year-old student of Class 12, a Dalit, was tortured, given electric shock in the police station, and hanged from a tree so his death could be passed off as suicide, villagers of Jalalpur in Moradabad have said. The youth was allegedly tortured at the police chowki in the village on Sunday. His body was discovered hanging from a tree later.

Examining the wounds on the body, angry villagers said there was no doubt he had been tortured. Some residents of the village pelted stones at police personnel in protest. On Tuesday, the district commissioner ordered a probe into the matter by a magistrate.

On the complaint of the youth’s kin, police registered an FIR against sub-inspector Ratnesh Kumar of the police chowki. Police officials said that Hari Singh Jatav, a resident of Tumadia Kala village, has complained that his 20-year-old son Sonu was arrested for breach of peace on Friday, after a village woman complained against him. On Saturday, the youth was produced before the court of the Thakurdwara SDM, and granted bail in the afternoon.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Why PM hates some NGOs – By Bharat Bhushan (Apr 26, 2015, Deccan Chronicle)

The Narendra Modi government has suspended the registration of Greenpeace India under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010, (FCRA) for 180 days, preventing it from receiving any foreign funds. Earlier it had frozen the bank accounts of Greenpeace for alleged financial irregularities. It has also placed the Ford Foundation on its watch list for allegedly funding organisations not registered under the FCRA. This came after the Gujarat government sought action against the agency for “direct interference… in internal affairs of the country and also of abetting communal disharmony in India.”…

Perhaps Mr Modi’s dislike of “five-star NGOs” stems from his experience of activists taking up the cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots and of extra-judicial murders of alleged terrorists in the state. It could also be that Mr Modi, who came on a pro-corporate platform, does not want “people-centric issues” to hamper development. It may also come from the fact of his being roundly defeated in Delhi by a ragtag group of NGO activists who formed the Aam Aadmi Party.…

However, choking their sources of funds, deriding them and eroding their legitimacy – as the BJP and Prime Minister Modi himself are trying to do – can only shrink the democratic space in society. India is not a “Hindu” society as imagined by the RSS and try as they might, the votaries of Hindutva do not represent the diverse identities with their myriad problems that make up this amazing democratic nation of India.



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Short circuits and communal violence – By John Dayal (May 4, 2015, TwoCircles.net)

…Modi’s government says there was violence against Christians even during the government of the United Progressive Alliance, chaired by a person of Italian catholic descent, with a Sikh as Prime Minister.

How does that minimise the undercurrents if communalism and hatred that are, unfortunately such a deep part of the landscape, and escalating with each passing year? Governments have come and gone, and even the Congress has a strong section that says the party should not be seen as “appeasing” or being sympathetic to Christians and Muslims.

But the common factor is the pungent hatred spewed by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and the organisations that are collected in its Sangh Parivar. Modi has said everyone should feel safe in the country; but not once has he named the Sangh. Perhaps he cannot. Many of the hate mongers are in his party in the Parliament. At least two are in his council of ministers. It is difficult to believe that they do not have his permission, or at least, his indulgence.



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Scrapping the UGC: Corporate Agenda under Knowledge Economy – By Rajan Gurukkal (May 2, 2015, EPW)

Reports about a Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) committee’s recommendation for scraping the University Grants Commission (UGC) have excited varied responses. Though officials dismiss the reports as incorrect, saying that the ministry has only constituted a committee of “experienced and credible academicians” to recommend restructuring and strengthening of the UGC for attaining its avowed goals, we cannot accept all this without being apprehensive. Presumably, the committee has submitted its report, so tailored as to be in perfect alignment with the bureaucratic agenda that hardly makes any difference between the previous and the current governments.

This is only the latest in the series of incarnations along the ongoing process of structural adjustments since the 1990s, with an added aggressiveness after the nation’s surrender to General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in 2005 requiring legislative reforms (apparently) to gain from trade in services (in effect to benefit developed countries). In fact, its groundwork was over way back in 1985 itself by changing the name of the ministry of education into that of human resource development.…

Shrouded in controversies even over their constitutional validity, all of them have been pending legislation. Being sure about the withdrawal of HE&R Bill 2011, the government had constituted a UGC review committee on 30 July 2014 itself to re-examine the commission’s regulatory function.…



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Crying Shame – justice delivery for minorities in India – By Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (Apr 17, 2015, Milli Gazette)

How do we judge the justice delivery system in India? Is it good, shoddy, or great? In fact, it is all the three at different times and levels. To be fair to it, its shoddiness does not always come from within it, but mostly from outside: the political culture, the police, the state itself.

Before coming to the crying shame part, let us mull over a rather comical point. After coming out of jail where he had languished for years on charge of killing innocent people in false encounters, Gujarat Police officer DG Vanzara declared: “Achche din aa gaye” (Good days are here), which was a take on a BJP electoral promise “Achche din aaen gay” (Good days are coming).

One wonders whether with the achche din of criminally-oriented policemen, bure din (bad days) for law-abiding citizens have also come. The vicious criminality and partiality of elements in the Gujarat state, including the state judiciary, had forced the Supreme Court to shift several cases of anti-Muslim violence out of the state in the interest of justice. That was a reasonable move on the part of the apex court as it did lead to some victims getting justice, after all.…



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After RSS men attacked us, police forced us to forego legal action, say Sonepat Dalits – By Dhirendra K Jha (May 2, 2015, Scroll.in)

It is hard to say what left a bigger scar on the Dalit residents of Rajendra Nagar locality in Sonepat recently: a violent attack on them by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh men that injured over a dozen people, or the compromise they were driven to sign promising not to seek any legal remedy against their assailants.

Though the episode occurred not far from Delhi’s border with Haryana, it has failed to attract national media attention. But in Rajendra Nagar, there is no mistaking the atmosphere of fear and helplessness it has created among the residents, all of whom belong to the Valmiki caste. …

“What was most distressing was the manner in which the police sought to save the RSS men,” said Mahipal, another victim of the attack. “Despite the CCTV footage [procured from a shop outside the locality] clearly showing the RSS men on the rampage wielding lathis and rods, the police did not make a single arrest. Nor did it register any case against them. What it did instead was to force us to sign a peace agreement with the RSS men on April 25.”…



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Will The Opposition Unite To Stop The BJP? – By Qamar Waheed Naqvi (May 2, 2015, Tehelka)

Blame it on Modi’s ‘corporate sarkar’, Sangh Parivar’s aggressive Hindutva campaign or Kejriwal’s emphatic victory in Delhi, a political renaissance seems inevitable in the country. Rising from the ignominy of General Elections 2014, the opponents are finally getting back on their feet to give a tough fight yet again.

If Rahul Gandhi’s return after a 56-day-long sabbatical and formation of Janata Parivar(JP) were not enough, then Sitaram Yechury taking over as general secretary of the CPM added more spice to the proceedings. Lohia’s rhetoric of ‘Tata-Birla ki sarkar’ has found a resonance in Rahul’s ‘corporate sarkar and suit-boot ki sarkar’.

With the battlelines clearly drawn, the forthcoming Assembly elections of Bihar and West Bengal are evidently going to be a rich-versus-poor contest. The Congress, the Left Front and the Samajwadi Party(SP) will certainly think of a coalition to check the BJP juggernaut. It is the same formula on which the Deve Gowda-Gujral government was formed nearly two decades ago. Though the government did not last long, there is no harm in trying a tried-and-tested method to check BJP’s advances. Besides, is there an option?…



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Book Review

Destruction of the Babri Masjid – A National Dishonour

Author: A.G. Noorani
Reviewed by: V. Krishna Ananth
Available at: Tulika Books, 35 A/1 Shahpur Jat, New Delhi-110049. Rs. 995.. http://www.amazon.in/
The courts and the demolition (May 3, 2015, The Hindu)

The political discourse in India since the mid-1980s, dominated by the revanchist campaign involving the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, has been marked by rhetoric, invocation of myths and the juridical. It is idle to argue that any one of the democratic institutions – the legislature, the executive or the judiciary – had acted in a manner it ought to have in this. That the canker of communal fascism has eaten into the vitals of our Republican Constitution – in other words, the idea of India – is indeed a fact.…

The period was marked by three important developments or events and all those in the realm of the judiciary: the instances of how the perpetrators of the criminal act of demolition and those who conspired to do it were allowed to go scot-free with the CBI and the trial court judges refusing to follow the rule of law; the Liberhan Commission of Enquiry submitting its report in 2009, after many years since it began enquiring into the demolition, simply refraining from pinning down the guilty; and the judgment by the Special Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court on the civil suits before it on September 30, 2010, where some established canons of the CrPC, the Indian Evidence Act and principles of justice were thrown in to the bin and the judges revealed what could happen to a Constitution based on lofty principles when individuals in high positions decide to compromise on those principles.…

This book is indeed an important addition especially in terms of the documents that are reproduced and will be of immense help to scholars, researchers and anyone interested in knowing one of the tragic events that contemporary India witnessed and to learn that it happened because too many people abdicated their duty.