IAMC Weekly News Roundup - November 18th, 2013 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 18th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

The unsung heroes of Muzaffarnagar – an untold story (Nov 16, 2013, NDTV)

The bus windows smashed to smithereens, the heavy police contingent, the downed shutters. They tell a familiar story. Of a night when a mob went on the rampage after a man was shot dead in Shahpur market. The tinderbox of suppressed bitterness between two communities in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts needs just a spark. A meeting between Jat and Muslim leaders on November 6 is cancelled. The proposed meeting had raised hopes that there would be efforts to build peace between the two communities. In this vitiated atmosphere of fear and rumours, there is another not so familiar story, a story that is far more significant. Of ordinary individuals who adopted a pro-peace agenda from day one. An agenda that needed extraordinary courage.

Just 15 km from Shahpur is Dulhera village with its pradhan Sanjiv Kumar Baliyan, who is a Jat. As always, his residence is a favourite spot for both Jats and Muslims who drop in for a chat and a cup of tea. Baliyan is not married but says he has over 7,000 children. A number that matches the population of Dulhera village. Of them 3,000 are Jats and 1000 Muslims. Two months ago, when a wave of sectarian violence began to engulf villages across Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, Baliyan realised his village was vulnerable. A motorbike had been set afire by some outsider. Sanjiv Kumar Baliyan said, “The riots and killings started at 8 am on September 8. Many Muslims had been killed and they were scared. About ten of us got together and brought the families to my place so that they could feel safe. We told them to stay for a few days and go home once the situation normalised.”

On September 8, 350 Muslims were given shelter in a building owned by the pradhan and food was cooked right there for them. Similar arrangements were made for them in four houses owned by jats. However, the Muslims were terrorized. “They told us we should take them to some other place. We too were worried. Any of them could have suffered a heart attack,” says Baliyan. Through the day the families stayed there. No one knew how the events would unfold. Baliyan took out his tractor trolley and drove those who wanted to go to the nearest relief camp set up at the Basi Kalan madrassa. Over the next few days, he visited them at the camp, finally convincing them that they could return to the village safely. Within a week he brought them home in batches, the same way that he had left them- on his tractor trolley. Babu Mistry, a plumber, said, “The Pradhan and the villagers were on our side.” According to Baliyan, “If some Muslims have committed crimes, why blame innocent people? They are human beings like us, they were born in the same village as us. How can we think of attacking them? We have eaten together, studied together, played together. It is the same even today.” For Baliyan, it has been a challenging task to maintain harmony. His only regret is that a few families have not yet returned. …

Rajinder Malik, the Pradhan of Kudana village, said, “A group of young people had got together in the village and were on the verge of creating trouble. We told them that if they were to take this step, everything would suffer- their work as well as business. They treated us like their elder brothers and took heed of our advice.” Satinder adds, “Whenever we felt young people in our community needed to be kept in check, we did not shy away from the task. We were very strict with them.” A few days later, Satinder learnt that an 18-year-old Muslim girl’s marriage in his neighbourhood was being cancelled. The family was fearful of organising a wedding at a time that tensions were so high. Satinder stepped in, offering to host the girl Anwari’s marriage at his residence on October 4. Anwari’s family is desperately poor and work as brick kiln workers. Rahisu Ansari, Anwari’s father, said, “When Satinderji said he would spend on the wedding, I accepted his offer. We were living in terror. He gave everything for the dowry.” Satinder decided to send a strong message by organising the marriage. The symbolism of the event was significant. …

In nearby Taoli village, which too was the site of a relief camp for Muslims, there’s a strong sense of amity among both communities. Of the population of 20,000, 75 per cent are Muslims and 25 per cent Hindus. Here too there are no Jats. Villagers started patrolling the streets. No outsider could gain entry in the dark. The result: There was no incident of violence and no Hindu family left the village, even temporarily. Taoli village is barely 10 km from Kutba village which has seen the worst of the riots, but it didn’t stop them from protecting the minority Hindus in the village. Zubair Ahmed, who is the son of the pradhan, said, “No, there was no tension here. Everything was normal. People continued to live like always. There were never any differences between communities here.” Luv Kush, a management student and resident of Taoli village, said, “They are trying to make us throw stones at each other and create a divide. We need to retain our bonds. There was no tension in our village. If every village handled things the way we did, the situation would have been different.”


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Gujarat riots return to haunt Modi as US writers brand him ‘the poster child of India’s failure to punish the violent’ (Nov 13, 2013, Daily Mail)

The ghost of the 2002 Gujarat riots will not leave the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi easily, and this could continue to hit his image abroad, especially with the United States. The latest in a string of criticism is the comment by two members of a US Congress-appointed committee of religious freedom, who have called Modi the “poster child for India’s failure to punish the violent”. “It was another son of Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi, who once offered a broad, tolerant vision for the country and its multi-religious society,” wrote Katrina Lantos Swett and Mary Ann Glendon, in a special op-ed on the CNN website on Tuesday.

“So, as 2014 draws near, whose vision will be embraced? Which India will prevail – that of religious freedom or religious intolerance? Time will tell.” “The poster child for India’s failure to punish the violent remains Narendra Modi, who is Gujarat’s chief minister – a post he held during the 2002 riots,” they wrote. “Gujarat’s high court rapped the Modi administration for inaction and ordered compensation for religious structures that suffered damage. In 2005, the US State Department agreed with the recommendation of USCIRF and others to revoke Modi’s visa,” Swett and Glendon said. The blog said that though Modi had been cleared by the SC-monitored special investigative team, he “remains implicated in other Gujarat-connected cases… Sadly, despite all this, Gujarat’s most controversial resident is the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in India’s 2014 prime ministerial election.”

It was at the recommendation of USCIRF that the Bush Administration had revoked Modi’s US visa. The USCIRF has maintained that the Obama Administration should continue with the same policy. Reacting to the blog, Union information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said: “It is indeed a travesty that the gentleman on whose watch the most horrendous pogrom was perpetrated has not only walked away with impunity but is the new poster boy of the Mumbai club.” Reacting to the article slamming the party’s poster boy, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said: “We would not like to comment on this as they have been saying all this to link it with Modi visa issue.”



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US Republicans deny they invited Modi to address party Congressional leaders (Nov 16, 2013, Daily Mail)

Leaders of the United States’ Opposition Republican party have denied reports they invited Narendra Modi to address Congressional leaders and Indian-Americans via videolink next week. They have also accused a US-based supporter of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate – Chicago-based Shalli Kumar – of misrepresenting their party. Kumar had earlier this year taken a group of Republican lawmakers to Gandhinagar to meet Modi.

“Please be assured that Mr Modi has not been invited to address the House GOP Meetup. We have sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to Mr Shalli Kumar advising him to stop misrepresenting the GOP Conference and Chairman (Cathy) McMorris Rodgers,” Nicolas D Muzin, Director of Outreach and Coalitions, House Republican Conference, said in an email. The email was in response to objections raised by some Indian- Americans to Modi’s address on the ground of secular concerns.

Kumar reportedly sent out invites bearing the seal of the House of Representatives and names of top Republican leaders, including Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for an event termed ‘Bharat Divas’ at Capitol Hill in Washington DC. In the details, he mentioned a video-link address by Modi.

The event, organised by the National Indian American Public Policy Institute (NIAPPI) headed by Kumar, was scheduled to be held on November 19, the same day Rogers and Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will address scores of Indian-Americans at the Indian-American Meetup. ‘The Indian-American Meetup’ will be addressed by top Republican leaders. Rodgers’ office, however, did not reply when asked about a letter accompanying the Bharat Divas invite, in which the Congresswoman had discussed the event and invitation to Modi.



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Snooping charges leveled against Amit Shah, Guj cops (Nov 16, 2013, Rediff)

Gulail.com and Cobrapost on Friday came out with sting operation details of alleged illegal phone tapping on a Bangalore woman in 2009 done under the reported instructions of former Gujarat home minister Amit Shah – a confidante of Narendra Modi – and the state police. According to Gulail.com, “Gujarat IPS officer G L Singhal, who is an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case (Ishrat was killed, along with three others, by Gujarat Police in 2004) and out on bail, has handed over hundreds of recorded telephonic conversations to the Central Bureau of Investigation revealing how three key wings of the Gujarat police – the state intelligence bureau, also known as CID Intelligence, the crime branch and the anti-terrorist squad – misused their powers to stalk an unmarried young woman from Bangalore, who had her parents staying in Gujarat.”

However as soon as the tapes were revealed in New Delhi, Pranlal Soni, father of the woman who was stalked, came out with a statement saying how he himself had requested Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to “look after” his daughter. The father’s statement for the first time links the controversy to Modi. The investigation done by Ashish Khetan and Anirudh Bahal claims that the audio tapes reveal Amit Shah ordering an illegal surveillance of a young woman from Bangalore for his “sahib” – the word frequently mentioned in the tapes. But Gulail.com has not specified who is “sahib” for whom the woman was allegedly spied upon by Gujarat police. Singhal, an officer of the Gujarat’s anti-terrorism squad, was once upon a trusted official of the BJP politicians but once the fake encounter case of Sohrabudin was investigated he was arrested and sent to jail. While in jail Singhal turned particularly against Shah.

When his son committed suicide Singhal was so perturbed that he decided to turn the approver. He gave 267 audio tapes – taped covertly – to the CBI. It’s claimed that the issue of the woman in question was first mentioned by Pradeep Sharma, IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, in his bail petition. The press release of Gulail.com has not revealed the woman’s name who was allegedly stalked by Gujarat police at malls, airport, gym, restaurants and even hospital. She is called Madhuri. Along with Madhuri, Pradeep Sharma was also put on watch illegally, says the press release.

It quotes Singhal’s statement to the CBI saying, “In the latter half of 2009, when I was posted as SP (Operations) in the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) at Ahmedabad, Shri Amit Shah had directed me several times to watch the movements of Shri Pradeep Sharma, who was then posted as Municipal Commissioner, Bhavnagar. He had also asked me to put a watch on a young woman named Madhuri. I had deputed some men of the Crime Branch (as ATS was short of subordinate staff) to follow her, as directed by Shri Amit Shah,” reads Singhal’s statement recorded by the CBI on April 17, 2013, a copy of which is with Gulail.com. There is a bitter rivalry between Gujarat government and Pradeep Sharma and his brother Kuldip Sharma. Pradeep Sharma had been accused of giving away land worth crores to private parties at cheap rates. He was arrested under corruption charges. Kuldip Shrama, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, is helping his brother in the legal fight.

The investigation of Gulail.com claims, “It now emerges from Singhal’s statements and tapes that the name of the woman mentioned by (Pradeep) Sharma in his petition is the same as the name of the woman who was kept under watch by Shah and co. At several places in the tapes, both Shah and Singhal have named the woman leaving no doubt about her identity. The question then arises whether it is just a co-incidence that the name of the woman Sharma alleges to have been associated with Modi matches with that of the woman put under surveillance. Or, there is something more to it than meets the eye?” Khaitan alleges, “The tapes also reveal how phone tapping guidelines as laid down by the Supreme Court in several landmark cases were blatantly violated. It also brings the telecom companies under a cloud, as they willingly obliged the Gujarat police to tap the phones, without any valid legal orders or written permission.”



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CBI probes ex-minister in Ishrat Jahan case (Nov 18, 2013, Hindustan Times)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the Ishrat Jahan encounter, is examining whether a former state minister had allegedly met an official of the court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to influence its probe.

The CBI is verifying whether the former minister had met the official before the SIT submitted its report to the Gujarat high court, according to an agency source.

According to the source, the former minister had sought to get the case weakened against policemen accused in the case, but to no avail. The SIT report – submitted to the high court on November 21, 2011 – had concluded that the encounter was allegedly fake, and its findings became the basis of the CBI’s First Information Report in the case. The CBI suspects that a few public servants then working with the state government had been directed to monitor the SIT’s probe.

The agency has examined a few public servants who attended a meeting held on November 19, 2011, to discuss ways to monitor the SIT’s probe. Suspended assistant commissioner of police GL Singhal, who is among the seven policemen chargesheeted by the CBI in July, is among those who attended the meeting. CBI is examining the contents of pen-drives containing alleged recording of conversations during the November 19, 2011, recovered from Singhal.



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‘BJP, RSS behind all terror acts from Godhra to Patna’ (Nov 13, 2013, Indian Express)

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly and former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela on Tuesday alleged that the BJP and RSS were involved in all the terror incidents right from Godhra to Patna BJP rally, including communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in western UP and blasts in Bodhgaya. Addressing mediapersons on Tuesday, he said, “There was one common strategy running from Godhra to Patna, that is to engineer killing of Hindus and Muslims for political polarisation.” “BJP is conspiring to divide society for political gains,” he alleged. “It does not bother them whether those being killed are Hindus or Muslims if it helps them grabbing power,” said Vaghela, who also has roots in the RSS.

Stating that the terrorists behind serial blasts at Patna BJP rally had now been found to be Hindus, not Muslims, Vaghela said, “RSS and BJP are financing Indian Mujahideen for carrying out terror acts.” He further said, “RSS is financing members of Qadianis for terror blasts. It’s a group who claim themselves to be Muslims, but according to mainstream Muslims, they don’t belong to the community.” Regarding Patna blasts, he alleged, “I feel Gujarat hand behind it, because the watch recovered from the blast site had evidence of having been manufactured in Morbi and the plastic bags found from there was also manufactured at Halol. It shows that it was all planned in Gujarat.”

“I also suspect the involvement of RSS and BJP hand in serial bomb blasts in July 2008 in Ahmedabad, including the blasts at Civil Hospital and LG Hospital, leading to killing of scores of people,” the Congress leader added. Asked if he could substantiate the allegations, he said, “I have been with them and I know them and their strategies.” He also criticised Modi for not visiting the families of the Gujarat policemen killed on their way to his programme in UP, because it would not have yielded political dividends. But Modi flew to Bihar to visit the family members of those killed in Patna blasts as it gave him political publicity.



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Muzaffarnagar riots: charge sheet against 2 BJP MLAs (Nov 14, 2013, The Hindu)

A Special Investigation Team has filed its first charge sheet in the Muzaffarnagar riots against 11 accused, including BJP MLAs Suresh Rana and Bhartendu Singh, for allegedly violating prohibitory orders, among other offences.

According to SIT sources, the charge sheet was filed in court against the 11 accused under sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) of the IPC, besides seven criminal acts here here yesterday.

The district authorities had banned the meeting held in Nagla on August 31. Former block Pramukh Virender Singh, local BJP leader Subhash Baliyan, Umesh, Malik, Yogender, Sachin, Ravinder Kala and two others were also named in the charge sheet. The SIT is investigating over 500 riot cases in the district that left 62 people dead and thousands homeless.



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West Bengal: Communal tension in Medinipur (Nov 16, 2013, Twocircles.net )

Some areas of Medinipur district has been put under Article 144 and police is patrolling the area to maintain peace. This follows after communal tension over Muharamma procession and Jagadharti Puja on Nov 15th. Muharram procession has been observed in Medinipur Town for over 300 years ago. Police have permitted Muslims to take out 25 akharas but the Muharram Committee decided to do only 13 akharas.

A Big procession started on evening of Nov 14th. At per Peace Committee agreement Jagadharti Puja pandals were supposed to be removed before Muharram procession but it didn’t happen. Police appeals to get the structures removed went unheeded.

A rumor was quickly spread and police resorted to lathi charge and tear gas shelling. Police have arrested 42 people including CPIM leader Kirti Dey Bakhshi and TMC leader Sujai Hazara. At least these two politicians were later released.

Ex Chairman of Medinipur Municipality Nazim Ahmed told TwoCircles.net that, Police used unnecessary force on the Muslim people. He alleged that, police beat up him as well, but he was saved by a police inspector, otherwise his head might have fractured. He said Muslims of the Medinipur town are living in the fear of police.

He asked the police to explain when Muslims didn’t touch the Puja Pandel then did why police start lathicharge on the gathered Muslims? Police official of West Medinipur dist did not want to comment on it.



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Malicious reports of Mangalore woman’s connection to Patna blast rubbished by police (Nov 13, 2013, Twocircles.net)

A day after local media reported that Ayesha Banu, a resident of Panjimogaru on the outskirts of Mangalore was arrested, for her alleged involvement in bankrolling the recent bomb blasts carried out in Patna, police officials of both Karnataka and Bihar have dismissed media reports of her alleged connection to any terror group or terrorism related activity. On Tuesday, 12th November, local newspapers, television channels and many websites, had reported that Ayesha, the wife of one Mr. Zubair was arrested along with her husband by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the night of November 11, for allegedly supplying money to the individuals involved in the blasts on October 27, in Patna, Bihar.

The news outlets also unanimously quoted anonymous sources, that the arrested woman was operating close to “35 bank accounts in different names and transacted over 2 crore rupees and had lured local youth to open bank accounts”. They also claimed that the money was remitted into these accounts from Pakistan. Rejecting the malicious reports, Bihar’s Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police, Mr. Rajiv Sharma said that, her arrest was in connection to illegal financial activities and not in connection to terrorism financing.

Mangalore city’s Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Mr. Prathap Reddy said that, he is confident that there is no terror activity taking place in the western range of the region, and proclaimed that “no investigation agency has contacted us in relation to any such activities.” If reporting this easily discernible concocted story was not enough, the media outlets also went to the extent of digging Ayesha Banu’s past and wrote that ‘Ayesha’ was born ‘Asha’, a Hindu who later converted to Islam, after marrying a Muslim man.

And it only looked like they were serving right-wing organisations’ agenda, when they included a press statement by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal, in their reports, which said that the case of Ayesha’s arrest showed that Muslim men were luring Hindu woman “with love affairs and money and converted to Islam only to carry out dangerous and illegal activities like this. Hindu young women must be guard against Love Jihad which attract them towards colorful life in the beginning, but end up in jails, prostitution hubs, etc.”



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Is there an ‘understanding’ between Naxals and RSS? (Nov 18, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Union minister of rural development Jairam Ramesh claimed on Sunday that there is a nexus between Naxals in Chhattisgarh and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh(RSS), the ideological fountainhead of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP). Earlier, Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee (CGPCC) president Charandas Mahant had quoted an unnamed person telling him that some RSS cadres were roaming in remote villages of Naxal-hit Bastar, wearing resembling green uniforms as worn by the insurgents.

“South Chhattisgarh is the worst Naxalite-affected area. The situation is serious. Sometimes, I do feel that there is an unwritten understanding between RSS and Naxalites. Though, I do not have any written proof but I feel so,” Ramesh noted. “Of 78 Naxalite-hit districts of the country, Chhattisgarh has 14 areas controlled by Naxals. Despite constraints, Andhra Pradesh successfully managed to eradicate Naxalism. But BJP government in Chhattisgarh has not acted during its 10-year rule,” he said.

The minister pointed out that it was in Chhattisgarh where the Naxals claim of maintaining a liberated zone of Dandakarnaya. When questioned on electoral fortunes of Congress which has been out of power for two terms now, Ramesh predicted that the party would comfortably win in ongoing assembly elections. “Out of 18 seats that went to polls in the first phase, Congress would get a number of seats which, he said, will be in two digits,” he said.



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Two cops suspended for delay in filing FIR in minor’s gang rape (Nov 19, 2013, Times of India)

Two officers of the Dindoshi police station were suspended on Monday for negligence in duty. Police commissioner Satya Pal Singh passed the order following the complaint of a 16-year-old gangrape survivor who had alleged that the two officers were of delaying filing an FIR in the case. The alleged gang rape took place three weeks ago.

A departmental inquiry had been instituted against sub-inspector D Dasime and inspector Bharat Gaikwad who had registered only a non-cognizable offence. The survivor had been summoned by three of her friends, all minors, to an overbridge in Dindoshi late on November 1 to celebrate Diwali. The boys bought some beers and spiked her drink. Later three others – Wasim Sayyad (23), Surya Pillai (19), and Kalwa Vishwakarma (19) – joined them. Four of the six men took turns to rape the girl.

On November 2, the girl and her family went to the police station to lodge a complaint. But the officers allegedly mocked her. The girl’s family then wrote to the zonal DCP Pravin Patil. They complained that the officers had asked the survivor why she had gone to meet the accused, whether she had fun and if she was an alcoholic or a habitual drug user. The family said the cops had threatened them. Following the probe report, DCP Patil recommended the suspensions of Gaikwad and Dashime, but the top brass of the force took time to arrive at a decision.



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Opinions and Editorials

The Early Bloomers – By Saba Naqvi (Nov 25, 2013, Outlook)

In what was perhaps the first systematic statement of the Sangh ideology – M.S. Golwalkar’s 1939 book, We or Our Nationhood Defined – the second sarsanghchalak (supreme chief) of the RSS traced the origins of the Aryan race to India. However, many years earlier – at the end of 1898 – Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a revered figure among the Sangh faithful even if he was from the Congress, had said that the Aryans came from the North Pole. Asked if someone of the stature of Tilak could have been wrong, Golwalkar, with his flowing beard and saintly air, is said to have pondered for a while, and then replied that no, Tilak would not have been wrong, as the North Pole was once in India, somewhere between Bihar and Orissa. Over several centuries, it apparently zig-zagged its way to the north!

In one stroke, the great RSS ideologue murdered both history and geography. As a product of the Sangh schools and shakhas, Narendra Modi’s stunted knowledge of matters historical is actually in his own history! If the great Guru Golwalkar could bring the North Pole to Bharat, why can’t Modi say Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was born in Gujarat, mixing him up with Kutch revolutionary Shyamji Krishna Verma? Or that Alexander conquered the whole world but was defeated in Patna or that Taxila, “learning hub of ancient times,” is in Bihar when it is actually in Pakistan? Or even that Jawaharlal Nehru did not attend the funeral of Sardar Patel?

Others might see these as bloomers, but the plain fact is that facts have never come in the way of the fiction the Sangh parivar is so adept at spinning. Aditya Mukherjee, professor of history at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, and one of the co-authors of RSS, School Texts and the Murder of Mahatma Gandhi, says the issue is not just about these “stupid mistakes” that some people might pass off Modi’s gaffes as. “They are used to manufacturing facts and airbrushing history,” he says. “That is the underpinning of the Hindu communal project.” …

They are equally keen to play down their own non-involvement in the national movement and their link to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Historian Dilip Simeon points to the first NDA government’s (1998) brazen attempt to ‘revise’ Gandhi’sCollected Works. Well-known scholars and Gandhians in India and around the world noticed hundreds of whimsical deletions and changes and demanded an end to such attempts to play with historical documents. It was only after the defeat of the NDA government that this “revised” edition of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi was withdrawn, in 2005. Writing on his blog, Simeon says, “The fascist style of political speech may be summarised in three words: affirmation, repetition and contagion. They spread lies and practise deceit as a matter of habit. Truth is whatever is convenient for serving their interests. More than anything else, it is the onslaught on the human mind that is the most dangerous feature of totalitarian politics – of any variety. The RSS in power will abolish truth completely. Modi’s lies are a foretaste.” …

In short, a lot of cherished speculation and outright bunkum came to be passed off as history. Modi comes from a flock of the faithful, where concocting history is key to the belief system, along with repeating myths and prejudices ad nauseam. Till now, he has just shot his mouth off. But were he ever to be in a position to change history books, it is possible that both the north and south poles could turn out to be in the land of Bharat. The world would revolve around us.



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The Stalkers: Amit Shah’s Illegal Surveillance Exposed – By Ashish Khetan and Raja Chowdhury (Nov 15, 2013, Cobrapost.com)

An important covenant in a democracy is that those voted to power shall protect the weak and the vulnerable. That is why when the system fails to protect a Nirbhaya or do justice to a Jessica Lal or protect the children of Nithari, even the most compromising among us take to the streets and demand a reckoning. That is why we collectively called for stricter laws and swifter punishment for crime against women and children in the wake of the brutal Delhi gangrape. This story is, however, not about the inadequacies of the system or its indifference. It is far more sordid. This story is about the misuse of police machinery and powers of the State by a top minister in the Gujarat government to stalk a young woman from Bangalore, subjecting her to constant surveillance for reasons not immediately apparent.

Gujarat IPS officer G.L. Singhal, who is an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case (Ishrat was killed, along with three others, by Gujarat Police in 2004) and out on bail, has handed over hundreds of recorded telephonic conversations to the CBI revealing how three key wings of the Gujarat Police – the State Intelligence Bureau, also known as CID Intelligence, the Crime Branch and the Anti-Terrorist Squad – misused their powers to stalk an unmarried young woman from Bangalore, who had her parents staying in Gujarat. The entire surveillance-cum-phone interception operation was mounted in August 2009 on oral orders, without any valid legal authorization, and was meant only to serve the interests of someone whom the then minister of state for home, Amit Shah, addressed as ‘saheb’.

The illegal spying operation in which Singhal has confessed to his key role was initiated on the instructions of Shah sometime in the month of August 2009 and continued for several weeks thereafter. The 267 audio recordings submitted to the CBI primarily contain telephonic conversations between Shah and Singhal, who was at the time posted as SP with ATS. In at least half a dozen conversations, Shah is alluding to his saheb’s acute personal interest in the snooping of the woman. The conversations suggest Shah was passing minute-by-minute details gathered through this snooping operation to his ‘saheb’. A close confidant of Narendra Modi, Shah held his office as Minister of State for Home for seven years between 2003 and 2010. Modi besides being the CM has also been Gujarat’s home minister since October 2001. Shah was arrested in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in 2010 and is out on bail, looking after BJP’s poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

Investigative news portals Gulail and Cobrapost have accessed both the entire set of recordings and the three explosive self-incriminatory statements given by Singhal before the CBI between April and June this year. We also have the 10-page panchnama prepared by the CBI, as the agency took possession of the phone recordings from Singhal. All conversations were recorded by Singhal who at that time was close to Shah. Apparently, it was only after the CBI arrested him in the Ishrat Jahan killing case in February this year that he cracked up and chose to cooperate with the CBI. To protect the identity of the victim, we have decided to not reveal her name or present location. For the purpose of this story, we call her Madhuri. Along with Madhuri, a senior IAS officer from Gujarat named Pradeep Sharma was also put on watch, illegally.

“In the latter half of 2009, when I was posted as SP (Operations) in the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) at Ahmedabad, Shri Amit Shah had directed me several times to watch the movements of Shri Pradeep Sharma, who was then posted as Municipal Commissioner, Bhavnagar. He had also asked me to put a watch on a young woman named Madhuri. I had deputed some men of the Crime Branch (as ATS was short of subordinate staff) to follow her, as directed by Shri Amit Shah,” reads Singhal’s statement recorded by the CBI on April 17, 2013, a copy of which is with us. Singhal was released on bail in the last week of May 2013. …



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UP govt’s conspiracy to deprive Muzaffarnagar riot victims of their properties – By Zafarul-Islam Khan (Nov 12, 2013, Milli Gazette)

Muzaffarnagar’s vice president of Jamiat Ulama-e Hind Haji Azizur Rahman said while talking to mediapersons that Akhilesh Singh government has announced to give a financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to 1800 riot-hit families of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli who under no circumstances are willing to return to their homes in their villages where they lived before the riots because they fear for their safety. District administration officials tried many times to impress upon these people the need to go back and live where they used to live before the riots erupted in September, but because of the hostile attitude of the villagers, they are not willing to return and settle down elsewhere. …

In a state government statement of 27 October, an official said that Rs 5 lakh financial assistance is being given to enable these people to settle down anywhere they want. This decision has been taken on the basis of the report submitted by the 10-member committee headed by Shiv Pal Yadav, minister for public works, which included some ministers. This compensation package will cost the government Rs 90 crores. This committee was constituted on Mulayam Singh Yadav’s instructions to visit the riot-hit areas and to inspect relief and rehabilitation work for people rendered homeless and forced to live in refugee camps, and who do not want to return to their homes and villages because of the hostile attitude of the village people there.

Haji Azizur Rahman demanded that the government make sincere efforts to trace persons who are still missing for about two months or declare them dead and give compensation to their families. He also demanded that those responsible for instigating the riots must be subjected to legal process and jailed. Police officers who shirked their responsibility and in any way encouraged the rioters or helped them in any way must also be strongly dealt with, he demanded. Government officials clarified that the amount of Rs 5 lakh will be given to those whose houses were burnt or those whose near and dear ones were killed. They further said that people in villages where no riots had taken place but who had shifted to other places because of fear will not be considered deserving of this financial assistance. They also said that for other financial losses in addition to burnt houses, further financial assistance besides Rs 5 lakh will be given and with this help, 965 families of Muzaffarnagar will benefit.

The Mushawarat delegation visiting Muzaffarnagar and Shamli camps for the third time on 5 November came to know that the said grant of five lakh rupees is only for refugees from 12 villages where murder and arson took place on a large scale while refugees from dozens of other villages who fled out of fear and many of them refuse to return will not get any such help. Moreover, any family accepting this help of five lakh rupees has to sign an affidavit which says that it will not return to the village it came from and will not claim “movable and immovable properties” in the villages.

A majority of the affected families have refused to sign this affidavit which is clearly illegal and unconstitutional as it deprives people of their properties whose value at times is much more than the compensation offered. The affidavit shows that the Samajwadi Party government is hand-in-glove with the grand conspiracy to deprive Muslims of their properties and lands. This proves what Times of Indiareported on 1 Nov., that land grab is the motive behind the fresh violence.



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Flawed still – By V. Venkatesan (Nov 29, 2013, Frontline)

On July 21, 2011, the National Advisory Council (NAC), which is the United Progressive Alliance government’s interface with civil society, released a 55-page draft Bill to prevent communal and targeted violence, with emphasis on access to justice and reparations. The NAC’s aim was to initiate a public debate about its contents as a prelude to its introduction in Parliament. The Bill was in cold storage for two years. However, reports in the media suggest that the government may finally introduce it in Parliament during the winter session. With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some sections of civil society opposing the Bill for its perceived flaws, it appears as though a constructive debate about its contents may still elude us. The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011, available on the NAC website, is certainly an improvement on the initial draft, about which the NAC had invited comments and suggestions from civil society. It agreed to 49 amendments on the basis of the feedback.

According to some experts, the final version is still not free from serious flaws. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the criticism voiced against the Bill and the NAC’s response to it. Some red flags and the NAC’s response: Rationale: Some legal experts were initially of the view that the NAC failed to provide a rationale for the Bill. Regarding the Bill’s provision for the creation of a National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation and the corresponding State Authorities for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation, critics questioned the constitutional validity of such bodies. They wondered whether these authorities would be any different from the commissions of inquiry that are set up after every occurrence of communal violence. Like the commissions of inquiry, these bodies, too, would produce reports of academic value, with no power to prevent communal violence or to ensure justice, they said. They argued that simply creating layers of bureaucracies to collect data and make recommendations, as the Bill aimed to do, was not enough to prevent communal violence, as a major cause of communal conflicts was that government officials who allowed vulnerable sections to be targeted remained untouched.

The NAC’s explanatory note to the Bill has this to say: The Bill “is intended to enhance State accountability and correct discriminatory exercise of State powers in the context of identity-based violence, and to thus restore equal access to the law for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and religious and linguistic minorities”. The Bill seeks its legitimacy from “the Constitutional right of every citizen, no matter how numerically weak or disadvantaged, to expect equal protection from an impartial and just State. It is because evidence from State records and several Commissions of Inquiry has confirmed institutional bias and prejudicial functioning of the State administration, law enforcement and criminal justice machinery when a non-dominant group in the unit of a State, based either on language or religion, or a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, is attacked because of their identity in the unit of that State. This prevents such non-dominant groups from getting full and fair protection of the laws of the land or equal access to justice” (emphasis in the original throughout).

Defining “group”: An oft-repeated criticism of the Bill was with regard to Section 3(e) that deals with the definition of “group”, the membership of which invites acts that result in injury or harm to the person or property. This provision defines “group” as a religious or linguistic minority in any State in the Union of India, or as the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Critics questioned why the Bill should confine itself to securing justice for members of the minority communities alone when members of majority communities too are targeted in a communal conflict. The explanatory note says: “Existing laws of the land and the machinery of the State are found to work relatively impartially when targeted identity-based offences are committed against dominant groups in a State, but not similarly for non-dominant groups.” It says that “often the greatest cause for communal and targeted violence against non-dominant groups occurring, spreading and persisting is that public officials do not act. Public servants who act or omit to exercise authority vested in them under law and thereby fail to protect or prevent offences, breach of public order, or cause an offence, screen any offender, or fail to act as per law, or act with mala fide and prejudice shall be guilty of dereliction of duty with penal consequences. This is the heart of the legislation, for such accountability shall serve as a deterrent to biased action.”

Punishing guilty officials: Section 13 of the Bill deals with dereliction of duty, while Section 117 seeks to punish a public servant guilty of dereliction of duty with imprisonment for two years, which may extend up to five years, and a fine. Section 14 deals with offences by public servants for breach of command responsibility. Given the hierarchical nature of administrative systems, it is the higher-ups in a chain of administrative or political command who are responsible when those in the lower rungs fail to perform their duties. The chain of command responsibility may extend to any level where effective decisions to act or not to act are taken. Section 118, therefore, seeks to punish those guilty of breach of command responsibility with the severe penalty of rigorous imprisonment for life when such failure relates to organised targeted violence and in any other case with imprisonment for a term of 10 years and a fine. Section 75 of the Bill proposes that if there is no response to a request for sanction for prosecution within 30 days from the date of the application to the government concerned, sanction to prosecute will be deemed granted. With regard to public servants committing certain offences under the Indian Penal Code (as listed under Schedule III), the requirement of obtaining sanction for prosecution is dispensed with under Section 74. This is because these are offences against public justice. …



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Sardaar Patel: A Monster Or A Messiah – By Abdul Majid Zargar (Nov 13, 2013, Countercurrents)

The ruling political party at centre, Congress is in a mad race with BJP to own & appropriate the legacy of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Independent India’s first Home Minster also referred to as Iron Man of India. BJP’s Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi has even promised to collect iron from five hundred villages of India to erect a large Statue of Patel, to which Congress’s spokesman has satirically retorted. “First they(BJP) promised us a Ram Mandir. Then they sold bricks (referring to shilanyas). Now they will sell iron”. If Congress had lived to its ideals of secularism & democracy propagated before & at the time of partition of sub-continent, then it should be ashamed of having in it’s fold a person like Sardar patel. But alas history has been distorted to convert a communal monster into a messiah.

Patel’s communal mindset & hatred against Indian Muslims can be measured from a debate in constituent assembly. Replying to a demand of reservations for Muslims in India made by a member Naziruddin Ahmed, Patel replied “You have got what you wanted. And remember, you are the people who are responsible for Pakistan, and not those who live in Pakistan. You led the agitation. What is it you want now? We do not want the country to be divided again” (Times of India, 29 August 1947).The sarcastic tone of this reply tells you all. Instead of being obliged to Muslims who preferred to stay back against heavy odds and made this country a truly secular one, Patel blames them for partition. He easily forgot his own role along with Nehru & Gandhi in repudiating cabinet Mission plan which finally became a Raison d’etre for partition of the sub-continent.

Immediately after Independence when Congress was at the helm, there was talk of a classified circular which directed that no Muslim be appointed to senior-level positions in the defence forces. (The Hindu- 19th August 2009). This circular was issued at the behest of Patel as Deputy Prime Minister. He also instituted a policy whereby government officers were expected to report Muslim personnel who were thought to be of “questionable patriotic value”. This created such a fear psychosis among Muslim officers that many were forced to leave India. Those left behind always thought of being under continuous surveillance, a syndrome they are still inflicted with. If you observe the behavior of some top Indian Muslim bureaucrats posted in Kashmir- you will notice the effects of this syndrome compelling them to overdo things which leads one to feel that Hindu officers are better than Muslim ones.

Patel is credited with integration of five hundred sixty two princely states with the Indian union. But his means of doing so were coercive, undemocratic & foul . To obtain an instrument of merger from an unwilling Raja of Alwar, Tej Singh Prabakar, Patel arrested and falsely implicated him in an assassination plot of Mahtama Gandhi until he fell in line. Other Mahraja’s took the hint & made a beeline for mergers. Once during the Kashmir debate in Constituent Assembly, Sheikh Abdullah in a mood of exasperation, walked out of parliament. Patel noticed it and sent Abdullah a message that he could walk out of Parliament but not be able to leave Delhi. Abdullah took the message & returned (Thematic Volumes on Patel-page 17).

Indian textbooks show Sardar Patel as demi-god who created a unified India. The truth is more sordid. You will not find any mention of massacre of Muslims in Hyderabad & Jammu in any standard history book. The window dressing of Patel’s misdeeds is complete. In respect of Hyderabad, which had declared independence instead of accession with India, Patel through his infamous police action is directly responsible for slaughter of around two lakh Hyderabadi Muslims. The Sunderlal commission enquiry report in this regard, which is believed to have strongly indicted Patel, has not been made public till date. Writes famous writer William Dalrymple In his book-The Age of Kali, “the Sunderlal report has been leaked and published abroad, and estimates that as many as 200,000 Hyderabadi Muslims were slaughtered.” Similar views have been expressed by Prof Cantwell Smith, in The Middle Eastern Journal, in 1950. …



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Divided we stand – By K. Vivek Reddy (Nov 18, 2013, Indian Express)

India has often been described as an “indestructible union with destructible states”. It is this power to reorganise the state of Andhra Pradesh and create a Telangana state that is now being contested. Despite the fairly clear process stipulated in the Constitution for creating a new state, the opponents of Telangana, including the chief minister, have invoked the Constitution to oppose its creation. This deserves close scrutiny.

First, it has been urged that in the absence of a supporting state resolution from the state legislature, a new state should not be carved out of an existing one. The chief minister has specifically urged that this constitutional convention, which was followed for the creation of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand, be followed even for the creation of Telangana.

This argument proceeds on a misunderstanding of the constitutional process for the creation of a new state. Constitutional conventions apply only when the Constitution is silent. The issue of creation of new states was extensively debated in the Constituent Assembly. Two proposals were specifically considered – one, a new state can be created only after the previous consent of the state legislature was obtained; and two, any proposal for legislation that increases or diminishes the area of an existing state shall originate from the state legislature.

Both proposals were rejected on the ground that if either of these were accepted, a minority in the state would never be able to achieve its aspiration for a new state, however justified it may be. It is for this reason that Article 3, dealing with the formation of the new state, only requires the state legislature to “express its views”, rather than a supporting state resolution.

When the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 and the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2000 were challenged, the Supreme Court on both occasions categorically stated that the views of the state legislature would be taken into consideration, but the same would not mean that Parliament would be bound thereby (Babulal Parate vs State of Bombay, 1960 and Pradeep Chaudhury vs Union of India, 2009). … Carving out a new state has always been a difficult issue, but this has to be resolved on the floor of Parliament, not in the courtroom.



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