IAMC Weekly News Roundup - October 23rd, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 23rd, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Alwar police take away Muslim dairy farmer’s 51 cows (Oct 15, 2017, Hindustan Times)

For the last 10 days, Rajasthan dairy farmer Subba Khan has been running from pillar to post to get back 51 of his cows allegedly “snatched away” from his family and sent to a gaushala (cow shelter) in Alwar district. Police took away the cows, apparently to prevent a “law and order” problem, but the family is blaming it on cow vigilantes.

Khan’s wife Baseri said she had taken the cattle out for grazing on October 3 near their village, Sahubas, when some youngsters from adjoining Kankra village tried to take away the cows. “They said we were cow smugglers. When I tried to intervene, they pushed me. The police were present, but they were mere spectators. Later, with the help of the police, the cows were taken to Shri Krishna Gaushala in Bambora Ghati by the cow vigilantes,” Baseri said on Sunday.

Khan’s family belongs to the Meo community and their village is in Kishangarh Bas, 51 km from Alwar. Around six months ago, dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan, who too belonged to the Meo community, was beaten up in Alwar by cow vigilantes over suspicion of smuggling cows. He later died in hospital. “Our family rears cattle. We have been selling cow and goat milk for years. We earn between ₹2,000 and ₹3,000 every day. Now, it has stopped and we are suddenly left with no means to support our lives. My husband is knocking on every door possible, but it seems that nobody is ready to listen to us,” she added.…



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Delhi Police called Maulana Anzar Qasmi an Al-Qaeda operative; Patiala House Court dismisses case even before trial (Oct 17, 2017, Twocircles.net)

Bengaluru-based Islamic preacher, Maulana Anzar Shah Qasmi, arrested in January 2016 over alleged links to Al Qaeda, saw all cases against him discharged by the Patiala House Court in Delhi. Discharged means that the court, based on the evidence presented by the Special Cell of Delhi Police, saw it unfit to even take the case to trial.

Qasmi’s arrests had made national headlines, with a number of mainstream media quoting police sources to point out that he was working with the Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and had helped the terrorist organisation in recruiting members along with helping top leaders of AQIS meet in Bengaluru. His arrests resulted in massive protests across Bengaluru and Karnataka, with representatives from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Tableeghi Jamaat, Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, Sunni Jamaat, Huda Muslim, Ahle Hadees and Shia Jamaat rejecting the allegations of police regarding the involvement of Qasmi in any terror activity.

MS Khan, the advocate of Qasmi, spoke to TwoCircles.net and said that the fact that the case was discharged showed how fabricated the charges were. “The Police’s case was built on two major points: one, that Qasmi helped a member of AQIS meet another operative in Bangalore. One of these operatives was arrested from Sambhal in December 2015 and is still in jail. The police said they exchanged letters but was unable to produce them. Secondly, the Police said Qasmi had been giving a number of violent sermons that egged people to join the AQIS. Again, they could not produce a single evidence to substantiate his claim,” Khan said. He added that Qasmi would be released at the earliest.…



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GST on handmade goods shows India’s history of bias against artisans (Oct 21, 2017, Business Standard)

The Modi government’s radical economic policies of demonetisation and the goods and services tax (GST) have had a profound and debilitating impact on the agrarian fabric of the country. While the note ban has broken the back of the rural economy, the GST has exacerbated the predicament of the rural artisans. Though the implications of GST for traders in the urban economy are being discussed extensively, its impact on the weaker and marginalised sections of the rural economy has been largely ignored. For decades, millions of rural artisans have been making ends meet through their traditional skills with hardly any help from the government. With the imposition of GST, their livelihood and survival has come into question.

In order to highlight the inequity of this measure, the handloom activist and theatre director Prasanna had taken up a hunger strike in Bengaluru on October 14 to demand a comprehensive withdrawal of GST on handmade goods marketed by rural cooperatives. Even as Prasanna broke his fast on the evening of October 19 following an “assurance” from Karnataka chief minister that the state government would support the demand for no GST on handmade products, he made it clear that the campaign was by no means over.

Handmade products are now being taxed for the first time since independence, and the inputs cost more. As a result, handmade goods have become even more expensive and the struggling industries have been severely impacted. Although the government has exempted those manufacturing handmade products with a turnover of less than 2 million from GST, such a taxation system discriminates against rural cooperatives marketing these products and eventually burdens the artisan.…



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Rajasthan government’s criminal law bid to bludgeon media, says editors guild (Oct 23, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The editors guild of India has dubbed the Rajasthan Government’s decision to make the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 into an Act as an attempt to “bludgeoning the messenger” and curbing press freedom.…

The ordinance bars courts from taking up private complaints against public servants, such as serving and former judges, lawmakers, ministers and officials, without the government’s sanction. It also bars the media from naming an accused until the government gives its nod for investigation.

Critical of the ordinance promulgated by the Vasundhara Raje government last month, the editors’ body said though it was ostensibly done to protect the judiciary and the bureaucracy against false FIRs, “in reality it is a pernicious instrument to harass the media, hide wrongful acts by government servants and drastically curb the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”…



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Gujarat Patidar leader Narendra Patel says BJP offered Rs 1 crore to switch party (Oct 23, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Patidar leader Narendra Patel’s accusation that the BJP paid him to join the saffron party turned into full-fledged political battle with the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanding a judicial probe.

Congress party spokesperson Manish Tewari demanded registration of a case and the probe to be monitored by a sitting judge of the Gujarat high court. “If this is not checked, the entire sanctity of the election process in Gujarat in times to come will be in question,” he said.

AAP spokesperson Ashutosh Gupta said the episode showed how desperate the BJP was to win in the state and demanded an independent judicial probe to investigate the allegations. Within hours of joining the BJP, Patel carried a wad of Rs 500 currency notes to a press conference and claimed that the ruling BJP offered him Rs 1 crore to join the party.…



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Denied food because she did not have Aadhaar-linked ration card, Jharkhand girl dies of starvation (Oct 16, 2017, Scroll.in)

An 11-year-old girl in Jharkhand’s Simdega district has died of starvation last fortnight, months after her family’s ration card was cancelled because it was not linked to their Aadhaar number, say Right to Food Campaign activists. With no school mid-day meals available during her Durga Puja holidays, Santoshi Kumari had gone with barely any food for nearly eight days before she died, they said.

Santoshi Kumari, who came from an impoverished family in Simdega’s Karimati village, died on September 28. With no land, jobs or steady income, the family is eligible for subsidised rations under the National Food Security Act. However, according to local news reports and an independent fact-finding report by members of the non-profit Right to Food Campaign and NREGA Watch, the local ration dealer had refused to give Santoshi’s family their rations for the past six months on the grounds that their ration card had not been linked – or “seeded”, as its known in official language – to their Aadhaar number.

His move followed a Central government order in February making Aadhaar compulsory for accessing subsidised food grain through the Public Distribution System. Even before that, as Scroll.in has extensively reported in its Identity Project series, several ration shops in Jharkhand, Rajasthan and other states have been denying rations to eligible citizens by insisting on biometric authentication linked to Aadhaar instead of accepting people’s ration cards.…



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All inter-religious marriages not love jihad or ghar wapsi, cautions Kerala HC (Oct 20, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The Kerala high court on Thursday held that all inter-religious weddings cannot be viewed as ‘love jihad’ as it upheld a marriage between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man.

A division bench comprising justices V Chitambaresh and Sathish Ninan made the observations in its judgement on a habeas corpus petition filed by the man. A habeas corpus plea is filed to ensure a person under arrest is brought before a court which will determine whether the detention is legal.

“We are appalled to notice the recent trend in this state to sensationalise every case of inter-religious marriage as either ‘love jihad’ or ‘ghar wapsi’ even if there was platonic love between the spouses before,” the court said.…



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Silly politicians levelling false allegations against our ancestors: Shah Zafar’s descendant (Oct 22, 2017, New Indian Express)

In recent months, the Mughals have frequently been resurrected from their graves by right wing hotheads and denounced as “traitors,” “tyrants” and “bigots.” From Akbar to Bahadur Shah Zafar, their greatness has been questioned, their secularism doubted and their legacy denied.

The latest blow came when BJP legislator from Uttar Pradesh, Sangeet Som, called the Taj Mahal a “blot on Indian culture” and party spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao described the Mughal rule as “exploitative, barbaric and a period of incomparable intolerance.”

The hateful comments against the monument that has been the pride of India and is regarded as a symbol of love, has left all right-thinking Indians furious. But for one person, these attacks have touched a personal chord.…



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Those who tampered with evidence in Bilkis Bano case shouldn’t be in service: SC (Oct 23, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The Supreme Court on Monday said the policemen and doctors found guilty of tampering with evidence in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang rape should not be in service and gave the Gujarat government four weeks to clarify its stand.

The instructions were issued after Bano’s lawyer told the court that the policemen who botched up the probe were back on duty even as she asked for a higher compensation. The court asked the Gujarat government if a disciplinary inquiry had been initiated against the seven persons – five policemen and two doctors – found guilty of failing to performing their duty and tampering with evidence by the Bombay high court.

The government said the men had served their sentence but the court questioned its move to reinstate the police officers. The court also asked Bano to file a separate plea for higher compensation in a lower court.…



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Mathura: Tantric sentenced to 22 years in jail for rape, unnatural sex (Oct 19, 2017, DNA India)

A fast-track court here today sent a tantric to jail for 22 years for cheating, raping and having unnatural sex with a 60-year-old woman by promising to ward off effects of evil forces on her family.

The convict has also been fined Rs 22,000, which if not paid would extend his term of imprisonment by 33 months, Additional District Government Counsel Praveen Kumar Singh said. Additional District Judge Vivekanand Saran Tripathi has sentenced tantric Mahesh Chandra to 15 years in jail for rape, six years for unnatural sex and one year for cheating. The sentences would run consecutively, Singh said.

On July 12 last year, the tantric had called the woman to his residence and raped and had unnatural sex with her saying that it was necessary for warding off effects of evil forces on her family, the government counsel said.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Where Are Moderate Hindus? – By Ashok Swain (Oct 21, 2017, Outlook)

In India, violence by Hindutva groups has become common over the accusations that the Muslim victims killed or smuggled cows or ate beef. Killing a cow in India has become extremely dangerous in the last forty months, while killing a Muslim is not such a big issue if it is in the name of protecting Hindu religion or culture.

Vigilante groups in the name of cow protection and to fight against inter-religious relationships have become hyperactive in small towns and villages across India. A world treasure like Taj Mahal has also become the target of Hindu fanatics for its Islamic roots. Murder of rationalists and critics of Hindutva brigade have almost become a regular feature.

While the focus of the world has been on the violence by Islamic extremist groups, the violence perpetrated by Hindu extremists in India have been generally overlooked as it has not yet posed threats outside the South Asian region. In this context, the question arises: Why don’t more moderate Hindus speak out against Hindu fundamentalists as terrible crimes are committed in the name of their religion?…



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Why Isn’t Narendra Modi Talking About the ‘Gujarat Model’ Anymore? – By Swati Chaturvedi (Oct 23, 2017, The Wire)

Narendra Modi, as three-time Gujarat chief minister, won the Bharatiya Janata Party an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha on the basis of his “vikas” (development) track record and the mega publicised “Gujarat model”. Isn’t it perplexing, then, that Modi, who by no means can be described as modest, is not fighting the Gujarat elections on that same record?

The BJP has been in power in Gujarat for an unbroken 22 years and in the Centre for three and a half years. But for some reason, Modi, who now spends five days a week campaigning in Gujarat, is reduced to blaming the Congress party, who he says did not allow development. How exactly a party not in government stopped the Modi development juggernaut is a puzzle.…

The Gujarat election has become a true litmus test for Modi and Amit Shah’s political model. And Modi’s desperation to retain his fiefdom and home state is palpable.… Since the BJP has come to power, Shah has fought every election using Modi’s face. Modi is both the message and the only messenger. Even the Delhi municipal elections were fought on Modi’s name. But inexplicably in Gujarat, Shah has brought in Adityanath, Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani and Shivraj Singh Chauhan as star pracharaks and campaigners. This must be a rare event for Swaraj and Chauhan. But the bigger question is, why are they being pressed into service?…



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Is The BJP’s Post-2014 Electoral Record Overrated? – By Manish Dubey (Oct 24, 2017, The Citizen)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders commonly cite their party’s recent electoral record as proof of popular endorsement of the Modi Sarkar’s performance. ‘If the electorate is as unhappy with the Modi Sarkar as its critics claim, how come it votes the BJP to power in election after election?’ they ask.

However, data from the 16 states where assembly elections have been held since the BJP’s parliamentary election win of May 2014 suggests that the party’s performance, though impressive, is not as overwhelming as it is made out to be. Which, in turn, places a question mark around claims of prime minister Modi and his government’s high approval ratings.…

Contrary to what media coverage and social media noise suggests, there are few incremental electoral gains in evidence post May 2014 for the BJP across 16 polls covering 60% of the country’s political theater. If anything, there have been slippages. Plus, with the BJP having received only one of every four votes cast, won only two out of every five seats it has contested and receiving a comfortable mandate only in select states, it may also be time to reflect on whether the Modi magic dazzles the electorate to the extent it is said to.



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How does the BJP Control Educational Institutions in India? – By Achin Vanaik (Oct 24, 2017, Sabrang India)

…With regard to educational and cultural institutions of all kinds, the plan is simple: put Sangh loyalists into positions of control and authority in each and every case. If the BJP is in power, appointments favourable for the party are made by the central or state governments. If they are not in power in a state, this cannot be done directly. The BJP, then, uses governmental pressure to ensure this.

Coming under the scope of the Sangh, then, are heads and senior personnel of central and state universities and research institutions; bodies empowered to determine the content of textbooks for government schools at central and state levels; cultural academies of various kinds; archival centres; training institutes, from the select and prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), to those institutes producing film and television graduates; censorship boards; and so on.

Besides this, the Sangh has its own network of schools. It is the biggest such private network in the country. They can substantially determine the curriculum and have it approved by its own state governments. In July 2016, the central government announced that it would institute a cultural mapping of artistes of various kinds into three categories – ‘Outstanding’, ‘Promising’ and ‘Waiting’ – for the purposes of sanctioning official funds and trips abroad. This, of course, is a way to introduce its own system of patronage to gain loyal members within the cultural sector.…



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Why Rajasthan ordinance disallowing questioning of state employees is shameful – By Karan Thapar (Oct 24, 2017, Hindustan Times)

…The Rajasthan ordinance – which the government hopes to convert into an act during the four-day legislature session which has just started – prohibits investigation without prior sanction against “a judge or a magistrate or a public servant” for any “act done by them while acting or purporting to act in discharge of their official duties”. That sanction can take anything up to six months. Secondly, till sanction is granted, the media cannot report accusations against such persons nor can activists take up the matter. If either do so, they could be jailed for two years.

First of all, this Ordinance ensures that judges, magistrates and public servants are treated differently to you and me if they are accused of corruption or any other criminal act. That is a clear violation of Article 14 of the constitution which declares everyone equal in front of the law.… Arguably worse is the treatment of the media. One of the unquestioned jobs of all journalists and whistle-blowers is to expose venality but now the need for proper prior sanction places iron-clad fetters on the fulfilment of this task.…

Frankly, what Ms. Scindia has done is shameful. She’s abridged the fundamental freedoms India boasts off. She’s also damaged her party’s claim to uphold and honour India’s vibrant democracy. And, finally, she’s lowered India’s standing in the free world.…



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The Taj defies BJP myths – By S Nihal Singh (Oct 21, 2017, The Tribune)

The Modi government has promoted RSS ideologues to historical and research organisations in furiously rewriting history to obliterate some 800 years of Muslim rule. And some BJP governments in the states have already rewritten textbooks to denigrate, if not eliminate, Muslim rulers and glorify Hindu kings and fighters.

The essence of the problem is simple. In the tales the Sangh Parivar has spun of ancient India’s greatness for their followers – an era in which planes flew and head transplants were common – the 800 years of Muslim rule sticks in the throat. The Parivar does not have the same hostility to British rule. In fact, it played an ambiguous role in the Congress-led Independence movement and one of its former members murdered the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

The Sangh Parivar can rewrite history but it is helpless in the face of the marble memorial of a Mughal king to his wife. Mr Sangeet Som, a BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh who has flirted with at least one other party before finding his home, in a public speech decried the monument as a “blot on Indian culture”, alerting at least one Muslim organisation to the danger of the Taj meeting the fate of the Babri Masjid. Imagine the worldwide outcry any harm to the Taj would cause. Yet Mr Som thought he was only amplifying the disdain of the state CM, Yogi Adityanath, who had suggested that the monument was not part of Indian culture.…



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