IAMC Weekly News Roundup - November 14th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 14th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Rs 3 crore deposit ahead of Rs 500 & Rs 1000 note ban puts West Bengal BJP in a spot (Nov 13, 2016, Economic Times)

Deposits of Rs 3 crore made by West Bengal BJP in a nationalised bank here eight days before the Prime Minister’s demonetisation announcement have triggered a controversy. The last transaction, involving Rs 40 lakh, was made minutes before the PM’s speech.…

Sources in the Indian Bank’s Central Avenue branch confirmed that the deposits were made in four tranches. According to a report published in CPM mouthpiece ‘Ganashakti’ on Friday, BJP had, on November 8, deposited Rs 60 lakh and then Rs 40 lakh – all of it in neatly packed 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. While the first deposit was made to a savings account (No. 554510034) named Bharatiya Janata Party, West Bengal, in the afternoon, the second was made around 8pm. However, it is not clear how the bank was open at 8pm.

According to the same report, in a different current account (also maintained by the party’s state unit) Rs 75 lakh was deposited on November 1 and Rs 1.25 crore on November 5. “It’s possible that BJP members were well aware of this ban and that is why they deposited huge amounts in banks across the nation to make their black money white,” CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said.…



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Day 9: Demonetisation Death Toll Rises To 55 (Nov 18, 2016, Huffington Post)

As people continued to struggle to get cash on the ninth day after demonetisation, the death toll rose to 55. These are confirmed deaths reported in the national and regional media.

The number of unreported deaths may be higher. While most deaths are of the elderly waiting in long bank queues, there are quite a few suicides, especially of housewives.…

In Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, 70-year-old Ratna Pillai died waiting in a bank queue. Distressed over the long queue, he approached the bank manager, and collapsed. (The Hindu)…



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‘Staged encounter’ probe panel chief has RSS links (Nov 9, 2016, Free Press Journal)

AS the MP government institute a judicial inquiry into the issue under justice SK Pande, the opposition has raised doubts if it would prove to be a mere hogwash and whether it would meet the fate of other such judicial probes that have been pending for over last 10 years. The opposition says the state government has “failed” to table reports of as many as nine judicial commissions in the state assembly, which is mandatory.…

[senior advocate Anand Mohan] Mathur also wrote a letter to the chief minister and demanded justice SK Pande, a retired judge of Madhya Pradesh high court, be dropped as the head of the judicial commission announced to conduct inquiry into the Bhopal jailbreak and alleged encounter.

“I have known justice Pande since the time he was a civil judge at Jabalpur. He is known to be a sympathiser of RSS and will not be the right person to probe the encounter. A senior judge from the Supreme Court should be appointed for the same, as only then can an impartial report will be expected,” said 90 year-old Mathur.



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AiNNI writes to President against BJP man getting into NHRC (Nov 10, 2016, Deccan Chronicle)

All India Network of NGOs and Individuals working with National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI) has expressed “serious concerns” over the appointment of Avinash Rai Khanna, vice-president of BJP, as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

In a representation sent to the President of India Pranab Mukherjee, AiNNI said that while the post is sought to be filled by a person with no political affiliations, the appointment of Khanna would send a wrong message to the people of India and challenge the independence of NHRC which the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GA-NHRIs) through its Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) highlighted in 2011.

“This appointment is contrary to the universally accepted human rights standards evolved under the aegis of the United Nations. It will erode the public faith in the institution, which has been declining steadily over the past ten years,” the AiNNI told the President in its letter signed by nine senior AiNNI advisors, including Henri Tiphagne, national working secretary of the AiNNI.…



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“Indian nationalism under attack” (Nov 15, 2016, The Hindu)

The idea of Indian nationalism was under intense attack from the construct of Hindu nationalism propagated by RSS, BJP and other Hindutva forces, alleged Ram Puniyani, Chairman of All India Secular Forum, while speaking at a seminar on ‘Communal politics and minorities’ organized by Diocesan Legal Cell of Archdiocese of Madurai in association with Society for Community Organization Trust here on Monday.…

He said that those propagating Hindutva were relying on polarising the people along religious lines. “A study by the Yale University shows that whenever there is religious violence in a place, it leads to polarisation and the political party which played a key role in the polarization becomes stronger there,” he said. “We know about Gujarat riots in 2002 and religious violences in other places in the country and we can clearly see which party has gained,” he added.

Pointing out that these forces relied on spreading misconceptions, which lead to hatred and in turn to violence and polarisation, he said the progressive forces should confront the communal forces on all these fronts.…



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Delhi Univ professor charged with murder in Chhattisgarh as she exposed atrocities in Bastar: Civil rights bodies (Nov 10, 2016, Counterview)

The Chhattisgarh police’s controversial move to file FIR charging Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University and Prof Archana Prasad of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, of murder of a tribal in Bastar is all set to become a major human rights concern across India.

Two top organizations, Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh (CPJC) and Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), have taken the lead in alleging that the FIR has been filed in order to take revenge against Sundar and others after the recent CBI revelation that there is no truth in the cops’ story that Naxalites had burnt three villages in 2011, though this atrocity was found to be the handiwork of security forces and their supporters.

Alongside Sundar and Prasad, the FIR has also been filed gainst Vineet Tiwari of the Joshi Adhikar Institute of the CPI, Sanjay Parate of the CPI (M), apart from villagers and CPI activists Mangla of Nama and Manju Kawasi, sarpanch of Gadiras, and the sections quoted are 302, 147,148, 149, 450,120B of IPC, 25 and 27 of Arms Act.…



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Citizenship Act: BJP’s religion-based amendment threatens the secular fabric of India (Nov 8, 2016, First Post)

The Union government has proposed certain changes to India’s citizenship laws, in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The present legal framework has no provision for religion-based citizenship and the proposed amendment plans to change that.

At present, an illegal migrant entering the territory of the Indian Union is prohibited from becoming a citizen. The amendment proposes that illegal migrants belonging to six specific religious minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will not be prohibited from attaining citizenship, even if they migrated to the territory illegally.

The move, to mark out illegal migrants of specific religious minorities originating from neighbouring sovereign territories for special treatment, started a little while back. In a series of orders between September 2015 and July 2016, the government exempted from deportation the illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religion. These previous moves laid down the framework for the present proposed amendment.…



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‘BJP, Sangh Parivar trying to disturb communal harmony’ (Nov 8, 2016, The Hindu)

Samata Sena and other organisations have urged the State government to register cases against those trying to disturb communal harmony by making attempts to prevent Tipu Jayanti.

Addressing presspersons here on Monday, office-bearers of various organisations, including Gurunath Ullikashi, Premanath Chikkatumbal, Pitambarappa Bilar, condemned in strong terms those opposing Tipu Jayanti.

Mr. Gurunath Ullikashi alleged that the BJP and members of the Sangh Parivar were trying to project Tipu Sultan, who fought against the British, as anti-Hindu and were trying to disrupt Tipu Jayanti for the sake of gaining political mileage out of it.…



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Kolkata: Clerics launch twin attacks, target BJP and TMC on triple talaq (Nov 9, 2016, Indian Express)

Muslim leaders on Tuesday launched a fresh attack on both the central and state governments over several issues in a public meeting of imams and muezzins at Rani Rashmoni Avenue here. Md Kamruzzaman, general secretary of All Bengal Minority Youth Federation – which organised the event attended by over 40 Muslim organisations – said the present BJP government was intervening with Muslim Personal Law. Three TMC MPs – Sultan Ahmed, Idris Ali and Ahmed Hassan Imran – were also present on stage.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised ‘achhe din’, but does that mean taking away the right to practice the religion of one’s choice or to dictate what one will eat or wear?” Kamruzzaman asked.

Referring to the proposed BJP rally against triple talaq on November 18, when the three-day convention of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) would begin, he said: “The BJP in order to disrupt the function of the AIMPLB has organised a rally on November 18, but we are also ready to counter any attempts by the BJP. I urge all Muslims to maintain peace, but if they intend to create trouble, we are also ready to fight back.”…



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How an assault on Banjaras by gau rakshaks sparked an Una-like movement in Rajasthan (Nov 11, 2016, Scroll.in)

…While the violence of the kind faced by Goru and his Banjara companions is not new to the community, this particular attack galvanised a movement against gau rakhaks – not unlike the uprising by Dalits in Gujarat after four youth from the community were flogged by cow-protection vigilantes in Una on July 11. A police case was registered, some of the attackers were arrested and the community came together in protest.

At the forefront of these Banjara agitations were women, over 1,000 of whom took out a protest rally in Rajsamand and, along with other people’s movements and campaigns from Rajasthan, organised a jan sunwai, or public hearing.

Parash Ram, a Banjara activist from Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district, talks to Scroll.in about the unprecedented response of the community to the Bamkheda assault and how Dalits and Banjaras can come together against gau rakshaks.…



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Opinions and Editorials

The right to kill a terrorist – By Faizan Mustafa (Nov 9, 2016, The Tribune)

…There is a qualitative difference between use of force in an operation and use of such deadly force that is akin to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly; one is an act of self-defence while the other is an act of retaliation.” From the video clips which have gone viral, the Bhopal encounter does not look like an act of private defence by the MP police.

Encounters have indeed become a common phenomenon of our criminal justice system. These killings always take place with the prior consent of the highest authority, administrative or ministerial. In the audio records of the Bhopal encounter too we heard someone instructing the killings. What is the modus operandi? The police would take a suspected terrorist into custody without recording his arrest; if the suspected terrorist dies during interrogation where third-degree methods are routinely employed, security forces would deny ever taking the person into custody and instead claim that he was killed during an armed encounter.

The police would place weapons on or near the body to suggest the police acted in self-defence and thus stage-manage the encounter. In other cases the police would secure production warrants under which the police are entitled to remove an inmate from the jail and then this terror suspect would be killed in an encounter outside the jail. A jail-break is the third type.…



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Getting away with murder – By Anupama Katakam (Nov 25, 2016, Frontline)

Between 2002 and 2006, encounter deaths became disturbingly frequent in Gujarat. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recorded 22 extrajudicial killings in this period. Of these, five cases stood out for their blatancy. The encounter deaths of Samir Khan Pathan, Sadiq Jamal, Ishrat Jahan, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati have been widely documented, yet justice has eluded the victims’ families.

Closure in the cases relating to the questionable killings happened only in the one involving police officials and Amit Shah, now Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president. They were convicted, granted bail, acquitted and reinstated, some of them with a promotion. Gujarat stands out for not only the politician-police nexus that exists in the matter of extrajudicial killings but also for the climate of impunity under which encounter killings have thrived, observers point out. Has Gujarat led the way and encouraged other States to believe that a political agenda can be furthered through brazen human rights violation?

Harsh Mander, an activist who filed a petition challenging the discharge of Amit Shah in the 2005 Sohrabuddin encounter case, said: “Once again we are seeing a revival and the same pattern of what was happening during 2004, 2005 and 2006. It’s the same ham-handed, clumsy method used by the authorities.”…



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Why the corrupt rich will welcome Modi’s ‘surgical strike on corruption’ – By Jayati Ghosh (Nov 15, 2016, The Guardian)

Narendra Modi came to power in India on a promise to end corruption. Halfway into his tenure, little seems to have happened to achieve this goal. The most obvious steps – such as taking a strong line on the known illegal accounts held in Swiss banks and tax havens, or ending the ability to hold shares without revealing your identity, or making funding of political parties transparent – have simply not been taken. People were beginning to murmur that the government had not lived up to its grandiose promises.

So last week Modi did some more of the smoke and mirrors stuff that he is so good at: a shock announcement in a blaze of publicity designed to show that he is serious about ending corruption, even though the actual impact is quite different. At 8pm on Tuesday evening he announced that from midnight all 500-rupee (£6) and 1,000-rupee notes would cease to be legal tender. He said this would flush out all the black money and get rid of the counterfeit notes that were being used by terrorists in their nefarious activities.

Demonetisation of bank notes is a common practice, but it is usually done gradually, allowing time for people to replace the old notes with new ones to prevent too much disruption of economic activity. By contrast this overnight shock is hugely destabilising. The suddenness is supposed to prevent hoarders of cash being able to use it to buy other assets – but that is a poor argument, since the government could have simply announced a time-bound demonetisation and then tracked large transactions.…



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The Chief of Counterfeit Grief – By Apoorvanand (Nov 2, 2016, The Wire)

…So, let us rewind the tape and listen to the man so beholden to the constitutional rights of Muslim women. It was 2002. The blood on the streets was still not dry. But he was then on a yatra to assert the glory of Gujarat. Following in the foot steps of his then mentor, he rides a ‘Gaurav- Rath’ and moves from village to village. The yatra draws thousands of Hindus at all its stops.

He addresses them: “60 innocent Ram bhakts were burnt alive in Godhra.” After a pause he asks, ” Are you aware of the news?…” He asks again, “After that, did you burn shops in the village?” There is a faint ‘No’ in response. He asks again, “Did you burn houses?” He exhorts them to respond loudly and they oblige by saying ‘No’. He persists with his questioning, “Did you stab or behead anyone?” He continues, “Did you rape anyone?” The crowd now knows that it is in safe company of a friend. Each question is greeted with a more enthusiastic and aggressive ‘No!’. “The enemies of Gujarat go around saying that each village was in flames. In each village, people were being killed. Their heads smashed! They defamed Gujarat so much that I had to embark on this Gaurav Yatra.”

Were not people killed in the violence of 2002 after the burning of coach 6 of the Sabarmati Express? Were not houses burnt? Were not women raped? Were not people displaced from their habitats? And were they not Muslims? What did the report of the National Human Rights Commission say? And what did the chief minister, who was the chief minister of all Gujaratis, which included Muslims, do to ensure justice to them?…



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Systemic bias – By Divya Trivedi (Nov 25, 2016, Frontline)

The police and investigation agencies may deny bias in justice delivery, but prisons tell another story. Statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2015 show that Muslims constituted a greater share in the prison population than any other segment of people. While their share in India’s population as per Census 2011 was 14.2 per cent, their proportion in the undertrial prison population stood at 20.9 per cent.

The percentage of convicted Muslims was 15.8 per cent. The percentage of Muslims among detainees was also high at 23.8 per cent. In fact, they fared as badly as Dalits and the tribal people. Together, these three communities constituted 39 per cent of the population but accounted for more than 55 per cent of all undertrials and 50.4 per cent of all convicts.

The Scheduled Castes (S.Cs) accounted for 16.6 per cent of the population but made up 21.6 per cent of all undertrials and 20.9 per cent of all convicts, whereas the Scheduled Tribes (S.Ts) accounted for 8.6 per cent of the population but made up 12.4 per cent of all undertrials and 13.7 per cent of all convicts.…



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Bastar crackdowns warn India what an Emergency could look like in the 21st century – By Rohan Venkataramakrishnan (Nov 15, 2016, Sabrang India)

While Delhi occasionally has to grapple with the real excesses of state power, such as when the government orders a news channel to go blank, the police state is alive and thriving in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar. The district, which became infamous two decades ago for the significant presence of Maoists, has also become a symbol of Indian state abuse and has been the site of some of the most brazen attempts by the authorities to hound out all dissent.

On Monday, the Hindustan Times reported that one of its journalists was threatened by SRP Kalluri, Chhattisgarh’s inspector-general of police, a man who has made clear his willingness to act against anyone questioning his department’s actions. Kalluri told the HT journalist, “If you all do like this, we will not let you visit… you went with my reference to Bastar.”

This is not anomalous behaviour from the man who helped use the police-initiated citizens body, the Samajik Ekta Manch, to drive out any journalist living in the district who might question the police’s actions – including Scroll.in’s Malini Subramanian who faced threats of violence and brick-throwing. This week, Inspector-General Kalluri has made it clear that even those who live outside Bastar will have to toe his line if they want to enter the district to report.…



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Book Review

Hinduism in India: Modern and Contemporary Movements

Author: Will Sweetman and Aditya Malik
Reviewed by: Biraj Mehta
Available at: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd., 2016, Pages: 311, Price: Rs. 795/- . http://www.amazon.in/
Hinduism in India: Modern and Contemporary Movements: Review (Nov 6, 2016, Free Press Journal)

The book is a compilation of essays by eminent researchers to the ongoing discussions on nature, history, and practice of Hinduism in India. The book challenges several notions of Hinduism that describe it as a uniform and monolithic tradition. The book serves as an avenue to dialogue with the past and participates in the ongoing debates on issues pertaining to Hinduism, nationalism, and world affairs.

The first essay on “Emergence and Significance of the Term “Hinduism” by Geoffrey Oddie explains how practices and communities get confused with religion. It also challenges several homogenized notions of Hinduism and explains it as a conglomeration of several traditions.… Thus, the book primarily illustrates the extraordinary richness of the cultural and religious diversity of Hinduism. Yet, the most significant contribution of the book is that it explains how any understanding of Hinduism is rooted in conflict.

It resists any attempts of homogenizing and assimilating it into any specific identity or context. Contrary to several books on Hinduism that nostalgically appropriate the past, this book provides an understanding to meaningfully engage with the past in a way that one can negotiate with the present and our aspirations for the future. In modern and contemporary times where the identity of the nation state is imagined from the religion of the majority community, such a discourse on Hinduism is not only relevant but also urgent.

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