IAMC Weekly News Roundup - November 10th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 10th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Inside an Indian camp for radical Hindu women (Nov 9, 2014, BBC)

Indian-Canadian film-maker Nisha Pahuja spent years trying to get inside Durga Vahini, an Indian camp for radical Hindu women. She was finally granted permission and made the documentary The World Before Her. Here she describes what she saw in that camp.

It is the final day of the 10-day Durga Vahini camp. Eighty girls are on their way to march and chant through the streets of the western city of Aurangabad. They are about to proudly proclaim India a Hindu nation. All across the country many such parades are under way or being planned by the Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) – the cultural arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – the largest Hindu nationalist group in India.

Durga Vahini literally means Army of Durga – named after the goddess who is among the fiercest in the Hindu pantheon. There is camaraderie and excitement on the bus. The girls are dressed in white salwaar kameez (pyjamas and long tunics) and saffron-coloured dupattas (scarves). Two of the camp leaders are at the front of the bus leading the girls in a chant: “Hindustan is for Hindus. Pakistan can go to hell!” As the girls repeat the chant I’m struck by their eyes – they reflect the headiness of transgression. …



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Varanasi Muslims don’t feel they are part of Modi plan (Nov 10, 2014, The Hindu)

In his first address to the Varanasi people after becoming the Prime Minister, Narendrra Modi said he had “lots of plans” for his parliamentary constituency. A large section of Muslims living in Varanasi, however, feel they are not part of Mr. Modi’s plans. The association of the city with the Prime Minister has created a new discourse about the ancient temple town and talking to a cross section of the community there is an impression that the minority community feels marginalised in that discourse.

Muslim reaction to Mr. Modi is complicated by the fact that the community had become almost united to defeat him in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Anwar Jamal, a publisher who stays in the old city, is of the view that the shadow of 2002 over the then Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP influenced the minority community’s perception of him, and there has not been much change even when he became the Prime Minister.

“Muslims are not part of the ‘Modi story’ in Varanasi. At present a large section of Muslims in the city, who overwhelmingly voted against him, are a bit skeptical about him and don’t feel the association with him, which the rest of the city does,” he says.…



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Trilokpuri riots: Police were violent with Muslim women (Nov 9, 2014, Indian Express)

A complaint filed before the Delhi Minorities Commission has alleged that the action taken by Delhi during the communal riots in Trilokpuri was partisan and that male police officers had used force against Muslim women.…

The four-page complaint consists of ‘testimonies’ of victims from Trilokpuri, like that of a Muslim woman from Block 27. The woman said that around 3.30 pm on October 25, around 20-25 policemen broke open their house and assaulted her husband and brother-in-law – a tuberculosis patient – and picked them up.”

“Police also physically assaulted and abused the women and children in the house before dragging these men out…There are numerous testimonies of Muslim women being beaten and verbally abused by male police officers,” Khan alleged.…



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Property attachment proceedings against 12 more accused (Nov 6, 2014, Economic Times)

Property attachment proceedings have been launched against 12 absconding accused in a Muzaffarnagar riots case. The Special Investigation Team issued the notices of attachment of proceedings against the accused on the direction of a court after they failed to appear before it in connection with the killing of eight persons in Kutba village during communal riots in September last year.

The accused were identified as Praveen, Manoj, Bintu, Vijender, Rahul, Kalu, Anuj, Amit, Dhiraj, Dhanna, Cheni and Vikas. Police had registered a case against 110 people and arrested some of them. But the SIT had charged only 12 people with involvement in the killings.

Notices have been issued against 60 absconding accused in different riots cases after attachment proceedings against them were ordered by the court.



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If riot relief story not true, why no denial: EC to govt (Nov 8, 2014, Indian Express)

Stating that the announcement of fresh compensation to the families of those killed in 1984 Sikh riots “ought to have been avoided” when model code of conduct was in place in New Delhi in wake of the impending by-elections, the Election Commission on Friday told the Ministry of Home Affairs that it would like to be assured that “such instances do not recur in future”.

On October 31, the EC had sought an explanation from the MHA on the matter seeking to know how a decision to award fresh compensation of Rs 5 lakhs to victims of 1984 riots could be taken during the imposition of the model code of conduct in Delhi. In its reply, the MHA stated that no decision in this matter had so far been taken. …

The Aam Aadmi Party, meanwhile, slammed the government, asking them to apologise to the families of 1984 riot victims after the MHA told the EC that the decision regarding fresh compensation had not been taken so far. It said in a statement, “If the BJP is serious about governance, the central government must immediately apologise to the families of the riots victims for having raised false hopes merely for electoral gains, as has been pointed out by none other than the EC.”



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Custodial death: victim’s family says police ‘offering money to change stance’ (Nov 10, 2014, The Hindu)

Shaheen Mashaq, wife of Mashaq who died in police custody on June 6 this year, has charged the local police with continued harassment and bringing her under duress to change her complaint in their favour by offering money to help the suspended police personnel who have been booked in connection with the custodial death. Ms. Mashaq, a mother of five children, told presspersons here on Sunday that the police personnel regularly visited her house and also that of others who had given statement to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is investigating the case, to change their version, with offers of money.

“We do not know why the local police want us for questioning when the case has been handed over to the CID. Police constables from the Farhatabad police station and Kalaburagi visit our houses regularly at Ferozabad and ask us to accompany them to the office of the Superintendent of Police and other senior police officers,” she said.

Ms. Mashaq and Chand Pasha, Mashaq’s brother, said that this was a clear case of intimidation and an attempt to exploit their poverty to turn the case in favour of the suspended police officials. “We are firm in our commitment to getting those responsible for the death of my husband punished. We may be poor but our conscience cannot be bought with money,” said Ms. Mashaq who broke down during the course of the press conference.…



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Report exposes ‘roots of atrocities’ against Muslims in Assam (Nov 10, 2014, Twocircles.net)

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group based in the United States, has released a report that exposes the roots of the mass violence in Assam in 2012 and 2014, in which hundreds of lives have been lost and over a half million people were displaced.

The report titled “Rationalizing Ethnic Cleansing in Assam,” is based on data provided by human rights activists in Assam, media reports, eyewitness accounts as well as testimonies of scores of victims, many of which have been recorded.

The report documents the state complicity behind sustained violence against an ethnic and religious minority. The report also exposes the myth about Assamese Muslims being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, a canard that is all too often used to “contextualize,” the barbaric ethnic cleansing of impoverished Muslim villagers.…



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BJP spreading communalism in West Bengal: Mamata Banerjee (Nov 5, 2014, Indian Express)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the BJP with the help of CPM is trying to ‘instill communal feeling’ among the people in Bengal and creating the environment conducive for communal riot in the state.

Warning her party men about communal violence in the state, she said, “Do not fall prey to the tactics of those who want to incite riots. Fire of riots will destroy everything. Inform local police stations and send a copy to the party HQ if you witness any untoward incident. I also belong to a Hindu family. My culture teaches me to respect all religions.”

Attacking the Central government she said that since the time the new government assumed office there had been several incidents of riots in several states including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. “Do you know there were communal clashes in Gujarat in September? Are they not ashamed of Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat riots? There are also reports of communal riots in Delhi. What this government is doing then,” she added.…



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Authorities accused of collaborating with nationalist extremists in attacks on Christians (Nov 3, 2014, Christian Today)

Continued attacks on Christians in Chhattisgarh state, India have citizens concerned that local officials are conspiring with Hindu extremists. Christians comprise less than two per cent of Chhattisgarh’s population, and face violent persecution at the hands of Hindu terrorists. Religious freedom advocates have called for government intervention.

The most recent attack in Chhattisgarh took place on October 25 in Madota, Bastar District. Local officials had called for a meeting with area Christians to discuss religious restrictions such as a ban on missionaries, but no officials came. That evening, armed Hindu extremists arrived in the village, and accused the Christians of forcibly converting Hindus. Over 15 people were beaten, and seven were seriously injured.

“Some of the injured Christians were admitted in a hospital in Jagdalpur, and some local Christians have also been forced to go into hiding due to the constant threats they received from the right-wing groups,” Reverend Bhupendra Kohra told Morning Star News. Chhattisgarh Christian Forum President Arun Pannalal said officials are assisting the extremists in the hopes that a petition contesting the ban on non-Hindu religious activities will lose traction.…



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Right-wing elements killed three of Maharashtra Dalit family: activist (Nov 5, 2014, The Hindu)

Social activist and trade union leader Baba Adhav alleged here on Wednesday that upper-caste, right-wing elements were responsible for the murder of three of a Dalit family in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.

Mr. Adhav alleged that the State and the police had failed to bring to book the murderers of Sanjay Jadhav, 42, and his wife, Jayashree, 38, and their son, Sunil, 19, even a fortnight after the gruesome incident.

“The police appear to be operating under political pressure. The kin of the victims are not satisfied with the progress of the investigation, but are prevented from saying so openly. This is the third such incident of violence against Dalits in Ahmednagar, a sign of the rift between classes,” he said while visiting the family at Javkhede Khalasa.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Swachchh Bharat & dirty politics – By Antara Dev Sen (Nov 8, 2014, Asian Age)

Today I was reminded of this joke from my childhood, about a Fuller Brush salesman trying to sell a new vacuum cleaner. As soon as the lady of the house opens the door, the salesman rushes into the living room and swiftly empties a bag of rubbish onto her carpet. He then flashes a smug smile at the horrified lady. “Don’t worry, Madam,” he declares grandly. “If my new vacuum cleaner doesn’t clean all this and leave your carpet spotless in the next three minutes, I will eat this rubbish!” The lady brings him a spoon. “Go ahead,” she says, “We have no electricity.”

The latest charade of Swachchh Bharat reminded me of this story. It was sad but not shocking to see our political leaders and other dignitaries fussing about with brooms for a photo op projecting themselves as concerned citizens “cleaning” Delhi. The fact was that a clean road had been selected for the show, then “dirtied” by carefully laying out dry leaves carted from elsewhere. Sad because it was so fake, so fake that you could make a style statement of it like faux leather. But not shocking because we are used to fakes and fakism, especially in politics. And we are so used to political drama that we have learnt to appreciate it for its creativity and style. We don’t take political promises and stories literally. …

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed for a 10-year moratorium on caste and communal violence. That made a lot of us happy. Especially because most caste and religious violence in our country is started – usually in a cold-blooded, pre-planned way – by the power groups. Hindus lash out at Muslims and Christians. Higher caste Hindus lash out at the lower castes. So if the Hindus really want to, they can jolly well stop sectarian violence for 10 years. But is that happening? On the contrary, there seems to be a deliberate attempt to polarise people along religious identities under this BJP regime. As had happened in Gujarat just before the 2002 massacre of Muslims. There seems to be a pattern to the recent sectarian disturbances in many parts of Delhi. … The PM may call for a moratorium on communal violence, but having reaped the benefits of sectarian polarisation, can he now stop his Hindu undivided family from spreading such hate? …



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Righteous Hate Returns to India – By Pankaj Mishra (Nov 9, 2014, Bloomberg View)

Exactly 30 years ago this month, lynch mobs led by politicians slaughtered almost 3,000 Sikhs in Delhi, in some cases by hanging burning tires around their necks. The pogrom came as retaliation to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. In nationwide elections held a few weeks later, the Congress party, some of whose members had helped supervise the killings, won in a landslide.

With state elections approaching, parts of Delhi are again awash with manufactured hate. The Trilokpuri neighborhood, which witnessed the deaths of hundreds of Sikhs in 1984, recently suffered clashes between Hindus and Muslims, as well as a brutal police crackdown on the minority community.

A resurgence of communal violence and hatred elsewhere in the country also recalls the largely unpunished crimes of 1984 and their bitter lessons: how mass murderers can be rewarded with huge electoral victories and high political office, and how the judicial system can be gamed in full view of a largely acquiescent if not craven media.…



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A Warning Bell – By Ranvir Nayar (Nov 6, 2014, Outlook)

A book recently released here in Paris raises concerns about the fate of Christian minorities in India following the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha elections in May. Lelivre noir de la condition des chrétiensdans le monde (Black Book on the condition of Christians in the World) is a compilation of reports and analyses from 70 contributors spread all over the world. The book has been published by XO Editions, a French publisher and is the first such global report on the situation of Christianity in the world.

At the launch of the book, Samuel Lieven, who is a journalist with the French daily, La Croix(The Cross), said that the book was extremely timely as in the last few years, attacks on Christians had increased alarmingly all over the world and today nearly 200 million Christians face discrimination and persecution, adding that the ongoing conflicts in West Asia as well as Central and Western Africa over the last few years have highlighted the situation of the religion which is ‘the most persecuted and threatened in the world’.

South Asia, with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, finds a significant mention as a place where the Christian minorities face serious challenges and violence. At the book release, Lieven spoke of the eyewitness accounts of persecuted Indian Christians as well as the fears of minorities, especially Christian minorities, about their religious freedom, due to the rise in Hindu fundamentalism following the electoral victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party.…



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Magistrate rejects police report on Khalid Mujahid’s mysterious death; Signals impediment by state – By A. Mirsab (Nov 7, 2014, TwoCircles.net)

In a setback to Uttar Pradesh police and state government, the Barabanki chief judicial magistrate on Wednesday, rejected final report filed by the police in Khalid Mujahid death case on 12 June 2014. The magistrate rejected police report while hearing a petition filed by Mujahid’s uncle Zaheer Alam Falahi on 20th October that had alleged half-heartedness of police in preparing the report.

In his petition, Falahi had mentioned that the report was prepared by police without even talking with any of the accused persons and was clear indication of covering up police personals involved in the alleged murder of Mujahid, including top brass named in the FIR. He had also alleged that complainant’s statement under sec. 161 CrPC was not recorded by the investigation officer.

Chief judicial magistrate Brijendra Tripathi agreed with the argument of petitioner and said that it is clear that proper investigation of the case was not done, statements were not recorded for which complainant has attached affidavit. The magistrate noted that report is seemingly prepared in a hurry and hence it is justified to reinvestigate the case with inclusion of accused and complainant’s statements. Magistrate directed Police chief of Kotwali, Barabanki to do proper investigation and to submit final report in 2 months.…



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Reversing Nehruvian Legacy: Blame Game of The BJP Government – By Ram Puniyani (Nov 10, 2014, Countercurrents)

The debates about India’s partition, Gandhi murder and policies of Nehru have been a matter of ceaseless debates. Each political tendency has their own interpretation of these events, which in a way are landmarks of sorts in modern Indian History. As such the phenomenon of Partition of India and assassination of Gandhi are interwoven in the sense that Godse held Gandhi responsible for appeasement of Muslims. As per him Muslims felt emboldened because of Gandhi’s policies and so demanded Pakistan. On the top of it Godse blamed Gandhi for putting pressure on the Government of India to part with 55 crores to Pakistan, which was as such the balance part of share of Pakistan in the treasury. Godse constructed his story around these two major warped understandings of the events of the time to create the ground for murder of the Mahatma. These views have been shared by many Hindu nationalists also, most of them and around RSS-BJP, upholding that ideology.

Now with the ascendance of BJP to the seat of power (2014) many of its leaders are coming out more boldly with Hindu nationalist interpretation of the events, but a twist is being added. This twist is apparent in the article by a BJP leader from Kerala in the RSS mouth piece Kesari. This article indirectly suggests that Nathuram Godse should have killed Jawaharlal Nehru instead of Mahatma Gandhi, as according to him the real culprit was Nehru and not Gandhi. The BJP leader who wrote this is B Gopalkrishnan, one who contested on BJP ticket for parliamentary elections. He attacks Nehru and asserts that Nehru pursued policies which led to partition, that Nehru is the sole responsible person for partition. As per him Nehru has stabbed Gandhi in the back and so, goes on the author, “If history students feel Godse aimed at the wrong target, they cannot be blamed. Nehru was solely responsible for the partition of the country.”

What does one make of it? Is it the official RSS line? To be on the safe side RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya has distanced the RSS from the statement of its leader. That is nothing unusual; RSS does distance itself from those of its activists who become bit uncomfortable for the sake of ‘politically correct stance’. Dara Singh of Bajrang Dal who killed Pastor Grham Steward Stains, Pramod Mutalik of Sriram Sene and even Nathuram Godse are amongst those who were disowned by RSS. There may be some re-thinking within the RSS circles on the lines of the author of Kesari article. The play of Hindu nationalist Pradeep Dalvi, ‘Mee Nathuram Boltoy’, (Me, Nathuram Godse speaking) glorifying Godse; has been staged in various places in Maharashtra getting good appreciation from many in Maharashtra.…



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Doctoring History For Political Goals: Origin of Caste System in India – By Ram Puniyani (Nov 4, 2014, Countercurrents)

Caste hierarchy is the major obstacle to the goal of social justice and it continues to be a major obstacle to social progress even today. There are many theories, which have tried to understand its origin. The latest in the series is the attempt of RSS to show its genesis due to invasion of Muslim kings. Three books written by RSS ideologues argue that Islamic atrocities during medieval period resulted in emergence of untouchables and low castes. The books are “Hindu Charmakar Jati”, “Hindu Khatik Jati” and “Hindu Valmiki Jati”.

The Sangh leaders claimed that these castes had come into existence due to atrocities by foreign invaders and did not exist in Hindu religion earlier. According to Bhaiyyaji Joshi, number two in RSS hierarchy, ‘shudras’ were never untouchables in Hindu scriptures. ‘Islamic atrocities’ during the medieval age resulted in the emergence of untouchables, Dalits. Joshi further elaborated, “To violate Hindu swabhiman (dignity) of Chanwarvanshiya Kshatriyas, foreign invaders from Arab, Muslim rulers and beef-eaters, forced them to do abominable works like killing cows, skinning them and throwing their carcasses in deserted places. Foreign invaders thus created a caste of charma-karma (dealing with skin) by giving such works as punishment to proud Hindu prisoners.”

The truth is contrary to this. The foundations of the caste system are very old and untouchability came as an accompaniment of the caste system. The Aryans considered themselves superior, they called non-Aryans krshna varnya (dark skinned), anasa (those with no nose), and since non-Aryans worshipped the phallus, they were considered non-human or amanushya. (Rig Veda: X.22.9) There are quotes in the Rig Veda and Manusmriti to show that low castes were prohibited from coming close to the high castes and they were to live outside the village. While this does not imply that a full-fledged caste system had come into being in Rig Vedic times, the four-fold division of society into varnas did exist, which became a fairly rigid caste system by the time of the Manusmriti.…



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