IAMC Weekly News Roundup - October 24th, 2016 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 24th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Hindu-Muslim meet shows humanity is above all (Oct 17, 2016, Times of India)

Humanity is above all. That is what members of Hanuman Mandir Trust and Jamat-e-Islami Hind demonstrated at a gathering held on Mankapur temple premises on Sunday. The gathering was a clear show of harmony the two communities enjoy here.

Sitting under the shade of a peepal tree on a sunny morning, members of these two organizations set an example for others to emulate and called to forego misunderstanding and ensure communal harmony.

Ayub Khan, a professor of English at Women’s College said, “While I was passing through this temple, I took a leap of faith and entered the premises to share my idea on peace. The trust officials welcomed the idea and readily agreed to join us in our endeavour to promote peace between the two communities.”…


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Delhi’s own festival that promotes communal harmony (Oct 19, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Delhi’s oldest secular festival, Phool Waloon Ki Sair, has managed to survive the test of time. The festival which was initiated by the Mughals in 19th century, has come a long way. It came to a halt though when the country was under the British rule. It was revived by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961.

This annual week-long celebration in the Capital organised by Anjuman Sair-E-Gul Faroshan, brings together communities to promote communal harmony. “What happens over the border can’t stop us from holding this festival,” says Usha Kumar, general secretary, Anjuman Sair-E-Gul Faroshan. She adds that the younger generation is oblivious to this more than a century-old tradition. But she adds, “The response has been increasing every year.”

Since its inception, the festival has been known for promoting peace and oneness among Hindus and Muslims. “Keeping the grudges aside, people from both the communities will visit the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaaki near Qutub Minar on October 20 to offer floral chadar and panka. The next day, they will head to the Yogmaya Temple in Mehrauli to offer a floral chatra and panka (fan),”…


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Godhra riots: Gujarat High Court upholds life term of 17, acquits 14 convicted in Sardarpura case (Oct 21, 2016, Scroll.in)

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday upheld the life imprisonment terms of 17 people and acquitted 14 more convicted for the 2002 Sardarpura riots case where 33 Muslims were killed, PTI reported. A division bench of the court comprising Justices Harsha Devani and Biren Vaishnav also dismissed the appeal of the Special Investigation Team and the Gujarat government against the acquittal of 31 other people by the trial court in the case.

The bench acquitted the 14 convicted in the case on the grounds of lack of evidence and contradictions in witness accounts. It cited the “two-witness test” prescribed by the Supreme Court as the basis for its acquittal. The test calls for having at least two witnesses testifying against an accused in a riots to allow the court to convict that person. The bench also upheld the trial court’s rejection of the argument that the attack was the result of a planned conspiracy after the Sabarmati Express train burning incident at Godhra on February 27, 2002.

While 11 of the 14 were given the “benefit of doubt”, three people were given a clean chit, according to The Indian Express. SIT lawyer KB Anandjiwala said the body would take a call on challenging the high court’s decision after it received a copy of the order. Meanwhile, the lawyer for the victims said that there was a possibility of them filing an appeal. “We believe there are several legal points which can be challenged,” said Yusuf Sheikh.…



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Jharkhand policeman charged for custodial death following youth’s post-mortem report (Oct 22, 2016, IB Times)

A murder case has been filed against a Jharkhand Police sub-inspector after the post-mortem report of a 22-year-old man said that he allegedly died due to custodial torture.

Minhaj Ansari had injury marks on his body when he was admitted to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi on October 6. The post-mortem report says that he died due to “haemorrhage and shock” and that the injuries were caused with a “hard and blunt substance.”

On the basis of the report, Jamtara Deputy Commissioner of Police Ramesh Kumar Dubey said that a murder case has been filed against the sub-inspector posted with Narayanpur police station.… The sub-inspector was suspended after Minhaj’s death.



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Malegaon blast: High court asks NIA to file additional affidavit against Lt Col Purohit’s bail plea (Oct 20, 2016, Hindustan Times)

The Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file an additional affidavit countering the bail plea filed by 2008 Malegaon blast accused Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit.

A bench of justice Naresh Patil and justice PD Naik have tagged Purohit’s plea with the one filed by his co-accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur seeking similar relief.

In July, the bench had dismissed Purohit’s appeal and asked him to file a fresh bail plea before the special NIA court in light of the supplementary charge sheet filed by NIA in June, which dropped the stringent MCOCA charge against all accused in the case.…



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MP cops accuse government of shielding unruly RSS members (Oct 20, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Millions across India may be cheering the onset of the festive season but there is gloom in the police barracks in Madhya Pradesh. Dejected cops say the morale of the force is low as the government has sided with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and punished police officers who take any action against the Hindu group members.

An example of this alleged favouritism played out around two weeks ago, when a senior RSS leader Suresh Yadav accused the police of thrashing him in custody. A medical report ruled out life-threatening injuries but the state government charged 10 policemen with attempt-to-murder, triggering widespread anger among the forces.

The case has now turned into a full-blown political war following the transfer of two senior officers for “wrongly handling the case”. The Congress says the BJP administration is acting on behalf of its ideological parent, the RSS, and demoralising the police – a charge many in the force agree with.…



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Hindu Mahasabha member, Swami Om facing charges under Arms Act, TADA? (Oct 23, 2016, Financial Express)

It has only been a week since Bigg Boss season 10 aired on TV and Swami Om, Hindu Mahasabha contestant supported by BJP is already making headlines. Swamiji’s behaviour on the show is reflecting a character which all the other contestants are finding difficult to deal with.…

According to a report, Swami is facing charges under the Arms Act, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities in addition to non-bailable warrants in a theft case filed by his own brother, Pramod Jha who has a bicycle shop. Swami had been accused of stealing 11 bicycles, expensive spare parts and important documents. The reports also say that his sister has also filed a case against him in Delhi’s Lodhi Colony.

It seems that Swami already has a long list of accusations against him, why then is he creating more trouble in the house, stealing perfumes and asserting misogyny?…



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Ban use of ‘Hindutva’ in polls: Teesta (Oct 21, 2016, Times of India)

Social activist Teesta Setalvad has moved the Supreme Court to intervene in the ongoing debate over nexus between candidates and religious leaders and sought a ban on the use of “Hindutva” interchangeably with Hinduism in elections.

Setalvad along with retired professor and theatre activist Shamsul Islam and journalist Dilip C Mandal moved a joint intervention application before a 7-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur requesting reconsideration of a December 1995 SC judgement that had ruled that ‘Hindutva’ was a way of life and could not be equated with any religion.

The current petition would affect BJP directly as the party has held up the SC ruling in support of its claim that it is not seeking votes on religious lines and is rather advocating a cultural identity and nationalism.…



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Polygamy more common among Hindus than Muslims: S Jaipal Reddy (Oct 20, 2016, Siasat)

Strongly opposing the Uniform Civil Code, Senior Congress leader and ex-Union Minister Mr. S Jaipal Reddy claimed that practice of polygamy is more common in Hindu religion than among Muslims. He added that Hindu women face more oppression than Muslim women.

Addressing a public meeting following presentation of Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award ex-MP said BJP is endangering peace of the country for its political gains. It is attempting to create distance between Hindus and Muslims thus damaging secular structure of the country. Mr. Reddy asserted that Congress party strongly condemns this.

He said constitution of India guarantees freedom of religion and every citizen has right to follow his own religion and propagate it. But BJP having Hindutva agenda is harassing and worrying Muslims to appease maturity community. He said Congress party is totally with Muslims on this issue and will remain same in the future. Mr. Jaipal Reddy advised BJP to first focus on oppressions on women of Hindu religion and seriously ponder over the injustices meted out to them.…



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Adivasis knock on SC door over civil code (Oct 21, 2016, Deccan Herald)

A group representing interests of tribals has approached the Supreme Court, contending that any direction to impose Uniform Civil Code would affect their distinct customs, culture, heritage and religious practices, including their right to practice polygamy and polyandry.

The Rashtriya Adivasi Ekta Parishad said the adivasis (tribals), numbered about 11 crore in the country, had their own personal laws and do not come in the category of Hindus as they worshipped nature instead of idols and performed burial of the dead.

The marriage ceremony of the tribals was also different from the Hindus, it submitted. The application by the group, which claims to be working for the upliftment of scheduled tribes for 25 years, has added a new dimension to the controversy relating to a suo motu petition “Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality” being considered by the Supreme Court where the issue of declaration of uniform civil code has arisen.…



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JNU student claims that attempts were made to kill the missing student Najeeb Ahmed (Oct 22, 2016, Indian Express)

Attempts were made to kill JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, who has been missing from campus since a week, a fellow student who was present when he had a brawl with few ABVP supporters, has claimed. A student of School of Biotechnology, Najeeb Ahmed, went missing on last Saturday following a brawl on the campus allegedly with members of ABVP, the night before. An FIR for kidnapping and wrongfully confining a person was lodged at Vasant Kunj North police station after the police received a complaint from the student’s guardians.

“I heard some noises from the first floor. When I rushed down I saw Najeeb was bleeding from the mouth and nose. We called the warden and took Najeeb to help him wash himself in the bathroom.

“But few students came and thrashed Najeeb inside the bathroom. They were shouting that he should not be spared,” said Shahid Raza Khan, an M Phil student at JNU’s School of International Studies (SIS).…



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Modi govt “increasing interfering” in freedom of association, expression, assembly: Global civil society alliance (Oct 24, 2016, Counterview)

Civicus Monitor, a global civil society alliance based in Johannesburg, South Africa, in its first-ever online tracking of 104 countries, has noted that the “civic space” in India is being “increasingly constrained because of government interference with the freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly.”

Placing India under the “obstructed” category in the company of 21 other countries, including Armenia, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Moldova, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, and Ukrain, Civicus regrets, “India’s many civil society organizations have until recently enjoyed an enabling operating environment.”

“Local and foreign civil society organizations describe an uneasy atmosphere under the current government of Narendra Modi”, it says, adding, “This has been caused by the government’s targeting of CSOs, including Greenpeace India, as well as statements leaked to the media indicating that civil society is receiving large sums of money to pursue foreign agendas in India.”…



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Opinions and Editorials

4 cases Modi govt must look at before talking about Muslim women & triple talaq – By Aditya Menon (Oct 27, 2016, Catchnews.com)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke out on the triple talaaq issue on Monday, indicating his intention to push through a Uniform Civil Code in India. Addressing a rally in Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh, PM Modi said: said, “if someone says talaaq thrice on phone, the lives of Muslim daughters can be destroyed”.

First things first, triple talaaq is a regressive practice. It demeans women, belittles the institution of marriage and by most accounts, it isn’t even based on the Quran. Here, PM Modi is clearly trying to use the triple talaaq issue to push for a Uniform Civil Code, an issue that has time and again been used to create a communal polarisation.

But if indeed he has developed a sudden concern for Muslim women, perhaps he or his government should speak to some of these women. And we haven’t even begun talking about Ishrat Jahan.…



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Triple talaq debate: Why does the BJP raise the need for modernity only when referring to Muslims? – By Ajaz Ashraf (Oct 20, 2016, Scroll.in)

Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s article, A practice against modernity, published in The Indian Express on Tuesday begins thus: “‘The times they are a-changin’,’ sang Bob Dylan many years ago.” Its readers would have felt reassured because one would think that anyone listening to, and citing, Dylan would bring a touch of the avant-garde to his writing. But that hope is dashed in the next sentence itself as Naidu echoes what every other Bharatiya Janata Party leader has been articulating with tremendous zeal ever since the Supreme Court decided to determine the Constitutional validity of triple talaq.

Let us face it, Naidu wishes to debate the issue of triple talaq because it suits the BJP. He and other BJP leaders know that attempts to reform Muslim Personal Law will provoke the Muslim Personal Law Board to join the slanging match in television studios. Soon, you will see them organise street protests.

The BJP will argue that since Hindu law has been altered, Muslim law should be too and that secularism demands it. BJP leaders will clamour, as Naidu has, that Muslim women must experience the balmy breeze of changing times. The furious debate will turn triple talaq into an electoral issue before Uttar Pradesh goes to the Assembly poll early next year, thereby creating the political ambience for Hindu and Muslim consolidation.… Naidu’s modernity is politically expedient. It is a stick to goad Muslims in order to build a Hindu vote bank.



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How politics is diluting the case of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed – By Shalini Lobo (Oct 22, 2016, Dailyo.in)

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the national capital has once again turned into a battleground. Outrage against anti-national sentiments and sexual assault charges has been national headlines, and now the case of a missing student has stirred this hot cauldron.

The mysterious disappearance of 27-year-old Najeeb Ahmed, an MSc student, has led to massive outrage at the varsity. “Justice for Najeeb” is what students address it as, but over all the commotion the cause is lost. The matter has taken a political and communal turn and leaders and political factions are working hard to expand their votebanks.

Left-ruled student groups allege that the scuffle that took place between Najeeb and ABVP members was a planned one. Najeeb was in the hostel for 20 days, the ABVP group assaulted him and there was also a case of mob-lynching.… And most importantly, the blame-game should stop. Votebanks should be the last priority now. Students should be united on the issue, not bully each other.… But once again, I must stress that losing and winning is restricted to elections.…



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RSS and its affiliates should not influence the education policy – Editorial (Oct 21, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Getting the education system to conform to its ideology has been a goal of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for much of its existence. So it comes as no surprise that with the ministry of human resource development all set to formulate the new education policy, the RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas is trying to influence its content. It wants the medium of instruction from elementary to higher levels in schools to be in the mother tongue and not English, in fact it says English should not be mandatory at any level.

All research work, according to it, should be linked to national requirements and those which are not should not get UGC scholarships. And of course, there is the usual demand that references that insult Indian culture, traditions, sects, thoughts, eminent persons and offer wrong explanations should be removed from textbooks. The ministry should firmly resist this.…

The education policy must be aimed at getting children the best education that can enable them to compete in a globalising world. Our netas certainly understand the benefits of English, their children study in English medium schools and invariably attend college abroad. The education policy is too important for it to be tinkered with by those with little knowledge of the subject. The RSS should leave well alone.



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For Better or For Worse, the BJP Is Turning to Hindutva (Again) – By Sharat Pradhan (Oct 20, 2016, The Wire)

… it is not a sheer coincidence that Hindutva finds resonance, particularly at poll time. Now that elections are round the corner in Uttar Pradesh, the saffron brigade is finding ways and means to bring it back to the fore in some form or the other.

It was, therefore, no surprise to now find references by different Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to the much-debated Ram temple in Ayodhya. The reason is not too tough to see. Having tried and tested various other ways to whip up Hindutva passions, BJP rabble-rousers have reverted to what they think may be their trump card – the Ayodhya temple.

Why they continue to see it as a trump card is not entirely clear. Anyone who has been following the temple movement would easily understand how the issue lost its vote-catching potential a long while ago.…



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As the State Continues to Fail Dalits in Gujarat, Another Life is Lost – By Damayantee Dhar (Oct 20, 2016, The Wire)

Sandha, a village in the Mangrol taluka of Gujarat’s Junagadh district, is home to about 35 Dalit families. For generations, the only way they have earned two square meals a day has been by working as labourers on the land of ‘upper caste’ landlords. The Dalits have no say in their wages. Usually, the landlord who owns the most land decides how much the labourers will be paid in a given year. This been the system in Sandha for years now.

Since October 13, a group of Dalits had been camping in front of the collector’s office as a mark of protest against the government, demanding that they be given the farm land that they say was allotted to them years ago. When no official from the office of the Junagadh collector came to meet them, three of the protestors attempted suicide by consuming pesticide on October 17.

While one of them, 50-year-old Prabhatbhai Munjabhai Parmar, passed away at the Rajkot civil hospital around midnight, the other two, 25-year-old Jignesh Rathod and 33-year-old Chandu Parmar, have recovered and were discharged from the hospital on October 19. According to the protestors, nobody from the government or district administration has met the family of the deceased yet.…



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Book Review

Modi and His Challenges

Author: Rajiv Kumar
Reviewed by: Arvind Krishnaswamy
Available at: Bloomsbury India, Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt. Ltd., DDA Complex, LSC, Building No. 4, Second Floor, Pocket C-6&7, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi 110070, India; Email: marketing-in@bloomsbury.com. http://www.amazon.in/
Modi: From Gujarat to Delhi (Oct 22, 2016, EPW)

Rajiv Kumar, a senior fellow of the Centre for Policy Research and a noted economist has embarked on the difficult task of evaluating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s challenges, midway through his term.… Kumar then takes on the 2002 Gujarat riots and absolves Modi of being anti-Muslim by presenting a eight-point list that mentions the dropping of Gordhan Zadafia, the home minister during the 2002 riots for incompetence, the sidelining of Praveen Togadia, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and the convictions of Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi.

This ignores the fact that all this happened only after civil society activists took the matter to the Supreme Court and some cases were transferred outside Gujarat, thereby casting aspersions on Gujarat’s ability to be judicious and neutral. A special investigative team had to be formed by the Supreme Court to help bring cases to court.…

The subsequent analysis also does not explain why after 12 years under Modi, Gujarat’s human development indices are below that of a state like Tamil Nadu which has experienced multiple changes in government accompanied by allegations of wide-ranging corruption.… In summary, this book is neither here nor there. It is neither a deeply-researched piece on the economic performance of Modi in Gujarat and Delhi, nor it is a deeply-perceptive psychological piece on what drives and influences Modi.…