IAMC Weekly News Roundup - October 13th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 13th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Carrying on a tradition: An ode to communal harmony (Oct 13, 2014, Business Standard)

The melodious sound of shahnais reverberated in the air while a troupe of fire dancers captivated the spectators asDelhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung Monday launched the “Phool Walon Ki Sair”, the annual procession of flower sellers, organized as a symbol of communal harmony since the Mughal era.

The festival that promotes friendship between Hindus and Muslims dates back several hundred years and was revived by the Anjuman “Sair-e-Gul Faroshan” society in 1962. Despite losing its grandeur down the ages, it is still celebrated every year.

The highlight of the festival is the procession, led by shehnai players, who present floral ‘pankhas’ (fans) at the historic Yogmaya Shaktipeeth temple and at the Dargah of Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, both situated in south Delhi’s Mehrauli area, in a celebration of India’s syncretic culture.

Jung too was presented with a floral pankha and said: “The Phool Walon Ki Sair is an example of the rich composite culture of our great nation and the pankhas are a symbol of national integration and communal harmony.” Jung also praised the Anjuman Sair-e-Gul Faroshan society for their efforts in fostering communal peace in the society.


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BJP behind clashes at Ahmedabad, Vadodara: Gujarat Congress (Oct 7, 2014, Economic Times)

Opposition Congress today accused BJP of orchestrating the recent clashes in Shahpur here and communal riots in Vadodara, a charge rejected as “baseless” by the ruling party of Gujarat. Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly Shankersinh Vaghela alleged BJP was involved in the incidents of violence in Ahmedabad and Vadodara over the last few weeks.

In a statement here, the senior Congress leader claimed that “some dissident groups” within the ruling BJP “incited” a minority community. “It is obvious that Congress does not like this BJP Government in Gujarat. But there are certain groups within the BJP itself that are against this Government because it has not given them any powers. Such dissident groups have been inciting a minority community to resort to violence,” the former Chief Minister said.

“Clashes in Shahpur were a perfect example of that strategy. I have learned that BJP men were also involved in the recent violence in Vadodara,” said Vaghela, who urged the Government to take all necessary steps to check riots. “Government should take strict action against rioters and if the government has intelligence inputs about possibility of violence, then why did it fail to take action? The government is losing control on the administration and the common man is paying for it,” Vaghela said. �



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Communalism, biggest threat facing state: AGP (Oct 9, 2014, Times of India)

Ahead of its national political convention on October 14 and 15, leaders of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) said increasing polarization along religious lines is the biggest danger facing Assam. “In recent times, we have witnessed the rise of communalism and polarization along religious lines. This is very dangerous. It will destroy the unity and harmony of the state. We want to defeat all such evil forces and work for the development of the state and the region,” AGP general secretary Kamalakanta Kalita said on Wednesday.

He added that such issues will be discussed in the national political convention. “Assam is a state embracing all kinds of religious identities and divisive politics will destroy it. So, we appeal to people to join the convention,” Kalita added. The AGP leadership is hopeful that the convention will help the party in rectifying its past mistakes.

“The convention will be based on the suggestions and advice of people from different walks of life, including students’ bodies, social organizations, senior citizens and people who were part of the historic Assam movement,” Kalita said.

For the convention, AGP has invited representatives of All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu), All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu), All Rabha Students’ Union (Arsu), All Assam Gurkha Students’ Union (ASGSU), among other students’ bodies. The party has also invited social and literary organizations, including Asam Sahitya Sabha and Bodo Sahitya Sabha.



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Now, ‘love jihad victim’ says she had eloped; family cooked up story (Oct 13, 2014, Times of India)

There was a strange twist in the Meerut gang rape-and-conversion case as the 20-year-old former madrassa teacher, who had previously alleged that she was abducted, gang-raped and forced to convert to Islam, has now revealed that she willfully eloped with her Muslim boyfriend Kaleem.

Highly-placed sources in the police told TOI that the woman, a resident of Kharkhoda village, claimed that the entire gang-rape and conversion story was “cooked up” by her family members who were against her relationship with a Muslim man.

“I am facing threat from my own family. They are planning to kill me so that they can get compensation from the state government for my death,” the woman reportedly told police. She said her family had also forced her to undergo a surgery to get rid of her unborn child.…



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Boy, allegedly set ablaze by Army men, dies in Hyderabad (Oct 9, 2014, The Hindu)

Shaik Mustafa (11), who was set ablaze allegedly by unidentified persons at Army Garrison in Mehdipatnam the previous day, died at a private hospital early on Thursday. Doctors, who treated the boy, told that he suffered about 80 per cent burns and his vital organs were damaged.

Mustafa, a student of a Madarsa, was found lying on the ground with burns in the Army Garrison compound at First Lancer in Mehdipatnam on Wednesday afternoon by locals. They shifted him to Osmania General Hospital. Later, he was shifted to DRDO Apollo hospital in Santoshnagar for better treatment where he died.

On Wednesday Mustafa told the OGH doctors that unidentified military men allegedly set him ablaze. A team of doctors conducted post mortem examination at the Osmania General Hospital mortuary at around 10 a.m. Later, the body was handed over to the family members.…



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RSS Toying With Buddhist-Hindu Peace Zone Idea? (Oct 8, 2014, New Indian Express)

Radical Sri Lankan Buddhist outfit, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), is aiming at setting up a “Buddhist-Hindu Peace Zone in South and Southeast Asia” with the help of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), an organisation with which India’s ruling party BJP is closely associated. This was revealed by Ven Gnanasara Thero, general secretary of BBS, at a press meet here on Monday. The BBS is widely believed to have the tacit backing of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

Gnanasara Thero, who is a Buddhist monk, said the BBS has been talking to the RSS at the highest level. “We are hopeful of meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon,” he added. BBS’s chief of research, Dr Chamila Liyanage, said Modi had impressed the outfit because he had said India is a “Hindu nation” and he is wedded to promoting Hindu culture. “Moreover, Modi, standing for national unity, will not divide any country, including Sri Lanka,” Liyanage said.

Releasing the BBS’s “Policy Framework”, its spokesperson, Dr Dilantha Vithanage, said Sri Lanka should be declared a Sinhala nation and renamed “Sinhale” as in ancient times. The various ethnic and religious groups should carry the prefix “Sinhale”. Sri Lanka should be declared a Sinhala-Buddhist nation with Sinhalese as the official language. The culture of Lanka should be “Sinhala-Buddhist”. The BBS does not believe in “multi-culturalism”, he added, driving the point home.…



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Despite a petition pending in HC, Subedar Ishrat Ali’s family evacuated forcibly (Oct 11, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Military Police today (October 9) ejected forcefully the family of Subedar Maulvi Ishrat Ali of Rajputana Rifle in his absence from his quarter in Delhi cantonment. Reportedly, Subedar Ishrat Ali had been issued a notice for disobedience for refusing to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Mata di’ instead of ‘Jai Hind’ and had filed a petition in the High Court against the orders to evacuate immediately his quarter.

Military Police did not allow the local police – that had been called by dialing 100 – to enter the house. Maulvi Subedar Ishrat Ali’s wife Shehnaz Bano told Rashtriya Sahara, “Today in the afternoon at about 12.30 some 35-40 personnel of military police, including women police officers, entered the house. They pushed and forced me and my daughters out. Then they started throwing out the household possessions much of which has been damaged.”

According to Shahnaz Bano when she called the police by dialing 100, military police did not let the Delhi police in. “After this military police called a tempo and loaded our possessions on it saying, ‘Go wherever you want to go’,” she said.…



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Kanchi seer meets Muslim cleric, discusses Ayodhya (Oct 12, 2014, Times of India)

Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati on Saturday met All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) general secretary Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali and sought his help for initiating fresh dialogue between Muslim and Hindu leaders for a possible out-of-court settlement of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

The seer had unsuccessfully held talks with AIMPLB to resolve the dispute in 2002 and 2003 on then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s request.

He told Mahali that courts would be unable to sort out the dispute as it involves faith and that the solution can be reached only through dialogue between the two communities. …



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Ludhiana Fake Encounter: Indian Police Killing Innocent Sikhs for More Than 3 Decades (Oct 13, 2014, Sikh Siyasat)

On 27th September 2014, Ludhiana Police as well as a member of the ruling Akali Dal (Badal) and some other ‘private armed persons’ raided the house in Jamalpur of brothers Harinder Singh (25) and Jatinder Singh (24), where they had been living for the past two months.

Earlier, Machhiwara police had registered a false case against the victims for attempted murder. This is widely believed to have been a political manoeuvre. When the brothers, who were unarmed, found the Police were at their door, they tried to escape but they were shot in the head and killed by the Police party. An eyewitness said the policemen entered the building by scaling the wall of a neighbouring house.

Initially, the incident was termed as a ‘police encounter’ by the Punjab police but afterwards the police officers started admitting that it was a case of cold blooded ‘murder.’ These kinds of inhumane tactics have been used against the Sikhs in Punjab for over three decades. Countless innocent young lives have been lost and the Punjab Police, as well as high ranking officers such as Sumedh Saini and top Punjab Government Officials such as Izhar Alam, have blood soaked hands.…



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Modi government politicising Bengal blast: Trinamool (Oct 11, 2014, Deccan Herald)

West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress Saturday accused the BJP-led central government of politicising the Oct 2 explosion in the state’s Burdwan to hide its “inability” to curb illegal infiltration.

The Trinamool, which vehemently opposed a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the explosion that killed two suspected Bangladeshi militants, now changing its stance, accused the central government of sitting on the issue despite a report by the state government.

“Immediately after the incident we sent a detailed report to the centre but it has done nothing. The centre has been sitting on the issue and trying to politicise it to hide its inefficiency,” Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee told media persons here.…



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Govt opposed to Dalit status for converts (Oct 10, 2014, Times of India)

The Centre believes that granting dalit status to converts from Islam and Christianity would encourage religious conversions, coming out against the demand that the list of Scheduled Castes be opened up beyond Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

Union social justice minister Thavar Chand Gehlot told TOI, “Allowing SC status to converts would provide a fillip to religious conversions. The demand is not constitutional and we want to work within the parameters of the statute for the welfare of these communities.”

The unequivocal stance indicates that the Centre may oppose the demand of dalit Christians in the Supreme Court. The issue has been hanging fire as the UPA government, in its affidavit, continuously dragged its feet in the Court.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Remote control (RSS) takes charge of TV (DD) – By Anil Sharma (Oct 4, 2014, Free Press Journal)

It is payback time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In exchange for the volunteer services the RSS provided him during the Lok Sabha election campaign, Modi offered the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat the forum of the public broadcaster Doordarshan for a live telecast of his annual Vijaya Dashmi oration from Nagpur.

The RSS was founded on this day in 1925 and the event has been on for 89 years, and this is the first time it has been found ‘newsworthy’ by the government-owned public broadcaster. Even during the six-year rule of the Vajpayee-led NDA government, the RSS, normally described as a remote control of the BJP, could not get this facility. Clearly, now the remote control has taken charge of the television itself. Both Modi and Vajpayee are members of the RSS and refer to themselves as proud swayamsewaks.

The move, perhaps calculated, invited the ire of the opposition Congress, the left Parties and secular intellectuals. Senior leaders, including former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, party spokespersons Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Sandeep Dikshit, all hit out at the government for misusing public funds to propagate an ideology that is not acceptable to all. Dikshit said, “It is a dangerous tradition. This is not an organisation which is completely neutral. It is a controversial organisation.”…



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No Magic Broom – Editorial (Oct 11, 2014, EPW)

The Swachh Bharat campaign has failed to understand why there is dirt. If a handful of brooms with long handles could make India clean, this would have happened long before Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to use symbolism to launch the Swachh Bharat campaign. The sight of the prime minister, his cabinet colleagues and various well-known personalities wielding these brooms, for the first time for some, is ideal media material. But given the obvious lack of understanding of the reasons India remains one of the filthiest countries in the world, the campaign is likely to remain just that – media images without substance.

One could argue that launching a campaign for cleanliness at the highest level is not a bad idea. Top-down campaigns do gain an initial impetus. Rajiv Gandhi launched an adult literacy campaign when he was prime minister. Indira Gandhi exhorted that she would remove poverty in her Garibi Hatao campaign. But neither did poverty disappear during Indira Gandhi’s reign nor did illiteracy during Rajiv’s.

If anything, the past should teach us that it takes more than the “campaign mode” to deal with entrenched problems. And dirt and filth, the distinguishing features of the majority of Indian cities and towns and to a lesser extent its villages, cannot be swept clean with a symbolic broom, or even thousands of them. Not even if every government employee, as mandated by the government, spends two hours every week for the next five years cleaning up the surroundings.…



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False Teachings for India’s Students – Editorial (Oct 8, 2014, New York Times)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised India’s youth a bright future. As he is well aware, realizing that promise will depend on dramatically increasing educational quality and opportunity for the 600 million Indians under age 25, many of whom lack basic reading and math skills. In its 2014 Election Manifesto, Mr. Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, called education “the most powerful tool for the advancement of the nation and the most potent weapon to fight poverty.” The question now is whether educational reform will be used not just to create an educated citizenry and trained work force but also to promote a particular ideology.

While campaigning ahead of the May election, Mr. Modi, then the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, promised to bring the “Gujarat model” to national governance. Many voters understood this to mean a commitment to a more dynamic economy. But the Gujarat model has a less attractive side to it: a requirement that the state’s curriculum include several textbooks written by Dinanath Batra, a scholar dedicated to recasting India’s history through the prism of the Hindu right wing.

In February, Mr. Batra led a successful effort to pressure Penguin India to withdraw copies of a book by Wendy Doniger, a religion professor at the University of Chicago, which he felt insulted Hinduism. Then, in June, the Gujarat government directed that several of Mr. Batra’s own books be added to the state’s curriculum. Mr. Batra’s teachings range from the trivial to assertions that simply cannot be taken seriously. His books advise students not to celebrate birthdays with cakes and candles, a practice Mr. Batra considers non-Indian. More troublingly, they instruct students to draw maps of “Akhand Bharat,” a greater India, presumably restored to its rightful boundaries, that include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mr. Batra also believes that aircraft, automobiles and nuclear weapons existed in ancient India, and he wants children to learn these so-called facts.…



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BJP’s ‘Hindu’ Model – By Anand Teltumbde (Oct 11, 2014, EPW)

Notwithstanding Narendra Modi’s passionate appeal from the ramparts of the Red Fort for a 10-year moratorium on casteism, communalism and regionalism, the communal intrigues by his Parivar members have not diminished. On the contrary, these manoeuvres reached such cacophonous levels during the campaign for the recent by-polls in nine states that one thought the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had gone back to its old game of doublespeak and deceit. The party had nominated its controversial MP (Member of Parliament) Yogi Adityanath to lead its campaign for the by-poll of 11 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh (UP), along with the state BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai, and Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Kalraj Mishra.

The young saffron-clad Adityanath – an MP from Gorakhpur since 1998 – has attained notoriety for his communal antics to become the BJP’s Hindutva face. Just two days before Modi’s Independence-Day speech, he had spewed communal venom in Parliament under approving nods from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, stressing the need for Hindus to unite against minorities. In fact, Sudhanshu Trivedi, the BJP spokesperson, has said that Adityanath was consciously chosen to be the face of BJP’s campaign in UP. It is clear that the BJP wanted to communally polarise the people, repeat what Amit Shah had skilfully accomplished in the Lok Sabha elections.

In a previous column (“Back to Monkey Tricks”, EPW, 30 August 2014), I had warned that the monkey tricks of the Hindutva brigade would prove suicidal for the BJP if such antics were not arrested in time. The by-poll results have verily borne this out. The BJP, which had handsomely won just four months ago, had held 26 of the 32 assembly seats in the nine states, but it could retain only 12. The biggest hit was in UP, the state where Adityanath led its campaign, where it lost seven of its 11 seats. In Rajasthan and Gujarat, where the BJP had swept the Lok Sabha polls, it lost three seats each. I had also warned against the unwarranted euphoria in the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) camp by indicating that despite BJP’s landslide win, its core constituency was more-or-less stagnant at around 22% as in previous elections; what made all the difference was the 40 million odd votes of the first-time voters it attracted with its development rhetoric and strategically muted Hindutva. This election surely shows this first-time voters’ disapproval of its communal politics.…



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The law on course – By Ravi Sharma (Oct 31, 2014, Frontline)

In what came as a shock to her supporters and a surprise to most legal experts, the Karnataka High Court on October 7 denied bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case in which she and three others have been convicted, sentenced, fined and incarcerated in the Bangalore Central Prison.

Represented by the high-profile defence attorney Ram Jethmalani, Jayalalithaa had filed an application under Section 389(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) requesting the first appellate court “to suspend the sentence imposed on her on September 27 by the Special and XXXVI Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge, Bangalore, John Michael D’Cunha in special criminal case 208/2004, convicting her for offences punishable under Section 13(1)(e) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 read with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)”, and “to enlarge her on bail”. Jayalalithaa’s close associates and co-accused in the case, V.K. Sasikala, V.N. Sudhakaran and J. Ilavarasi, had also made similar pleas.

The charges against Jayalalithaa and the three others hinge around Jayalalithaa’s assets/wealth in 1996 totalling, according to the trial court, Rs.53,60,49,954, a figure which was exponentially disproportionate to her declared sources of income. The three others, according to the verdict of the trial court, “abetted Jayalalithaa, who was a public servant, by intentionally aiding her in the possession of pecuniary resources and property disproportionate to her known sources of income and for which she could not satisfactorily account, by holding a substantial portion of the said pecuniary resources and property in [their] names and in the names of business enterprises floated in [their] names, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 109 of the IPC read with 13(2) and 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and within the cognisance of the court”.…



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The farce over prevention of communal violence – By M Reyaz (Oct 10, 2014, TwoCircles.net)

As the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government decided to not table the Anti-Communal Violence Bill amidst much din in the Upper House of the Parliament on February 5, 2013, it becomes clear that none of the parties are really serious on the question of security of the minority communities, particularly when it comes to the issues of accountability, justice, rehabilitation.

The politics of riots and politics over riots are not new to this country and none of the political parties can absolve of their collusion into it, some are guilty of inciting riots, while others of allowing it to happen by shirking of their responsibilities, mainly for larger political calculations. Still others – most Muslim leaders and groups included – are equally the culprits for looking on the other side, only to later beat the drum of victimhood, at best; or worse, to reap political benefits, at times.

One reason why ethnic and communal riots have virtually become a sort of ‘policy’ for many groups and parties, is that experiences show that the culpability of these often well-orchestrated and planned heinous crimes go escort free. Take the example of recent Muzaffarnagar riots, most of the perpetrators of crimes as grave as murder and rapes are living in their own villages and homes (if media reports are to be believed) even five months after the riots, while the same UP police recover the seven buffaloes of a powerful minister in two days.…



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