IAMC Weekly News Roundup - October 28th, 2013 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 28th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Modi cannot lead India effectively: NYT editorial board (Oct 27, 2013, Times of India)

Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, cannot hope to lead India effectively if he inspires “fear” and “antipathy” among many of its people, New York Times has commented in an unusual move. “Mr Modi has shown no ability to work with opposition parties or tolerate dissent,” the editorial board of New York Times said in a stinging editorial on the 63-year-old BJP leader.

The editorial said that Modi has already “alienated” BJP’s political partners when Janata Dal(United), an important regional party broke off its 17-year alliance with the “party because it found Mr Modi unacceptable.” India was a country with multiple religions and “Mr Modi cannot hope to lead it effectively if he inspires fear and antipathy among many of its people,” it said while recalling that nearly 1,000 people died in the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

The editorial, published yesterday, also questioned Modi’s economic track record in Gujarat. The “economic record in Gujarat is not entirely admirable, either,” it said. “Muslims in Gujarat, for instance, are much more likely to be poor than Muslims in India as a whole, even though the state has a lower poverty rate than the country,” the editorial said.

“His rise to power is deeply troubling to many Indians, especially the country’s 138 million Muslims and its many other minorities,” said the 19-member editorial board, headed by India-born Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor of New York Times.



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Campaign to expose Narendra Modi’s tall claims (Oct 24, 2013, DNA India)

A group of activists, including the research team of Anhad, has questioned the blatant use of public money to improve chief minister Narendra Modi’s image through the Sadhbhavna fasts. Besides the Ahmedabad, the organisation simultaneously held press conferences in 16 other cities of the country to expose the truth behind the CM’s fast as part of its Kachcha Chittha programme, a series of stories exposing the alleged misdeeds of Narendra Modi.

Almost two years after the chief minister carried out his Sadhbhavana fast the government is yet to show the expenses in its budget, said Gautam Thakkar, an activist. “The chief minister also went about allocating funds to all the districts for development activities during the fast, but our inquiry has revealed that they were merely announcements as none of the districts have received the promised funds,” said Thakkar.

He further added that several schemes that Modi boasted about and showered on the districts were in fact the schemes of local bodies and the central government that were already in progress. For example in Porbandar, Modi announced a Rs281 crore package for three main projects of a new drinking water supply network, underground sewage pipeline and housing scheme for the poor. All the three projects had been going on for a while as part of the JNNURM.

Mahesh Pandya, another activist, questioned the need to fund the CM’s fast through the contingency funds. “For 12 years no fund was allocated for contingency. Suddenly when the Sadhbhavna fast happened Gujarat government dipped into its contingency fund. Such a fund is used in case of a disaster. What was the need to use it for the Sadhbhavana fast,” said Pandya. A release by Anhad further stated that the money sanctioned for the CM’s fast, should have been regularized in the budget session in March 2012 when the 2012-13 budget was presented yet there was no mention of the same in the budget.



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Muzaffarnagar riots left 113 dead: Jamaat (Oct 25, 2013, Twocircles.net)

A total of 97 Muslims and 16 non-Muslims were killed in the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh last month, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has said. Thirty people were still missing in the region, said a report by the Jamaat after a survey of the affected areas, a statement by the group here said.

According to report, a total of 113 people were killed in the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts. Of these 16 were Hindus and 97 Muslims.

Official figures until now have put the death at around 50. The Jamaat has decided to build 200 houses for the riot victims, many of who remain in refugee camps.



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Rahul’s remark is an insult to Muslims: JD(U) (Oct 25, 2013, Deccan Herald)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s assertion that Pakistan’s ISI is trying to lure some Muslims in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar into terrorism is an insult for the entire community, JD(U) today said. “Nobody has a right to question anybody’s nationalism… If some people are in touch with Pakistan for anti-India activities, they should be dealt as per the law. But to drag the whole community into it is a insult for Muslims,” party spokesperson KC Tyagi said in a press conference here.

The party also dismissed as non-issue Gandhi’s invocations of the sacrifice of his family members. “People gave his party more than 400 seats in 1984 when Indira Gandhi died and over 200 seats in 1991 when Rajiv Gandhi was killed. They have already paid their tribute. Emotional issues like caste, religion or family sacrifices are non-issues this time,” he said.

With no clear sign emerging on Congress-JD(U) tie-up for Lok Sabha elections, Tyagi said regional parties representing popular sentiments of their states would emerge victorious as it is beyond Congress to defeat communal forces led by Narendra Modi. “There is this noise about NaMo, NaMo by some people because of the economic policies and bad governance of Congress. It failed to challenge of communal virus led by him and nor will it able to counter it now. The forces of regional sub-nationalism will be able to defeat him,” he said.

Tyagi, though, added that efforts should be made that secular votes are not divided. Asked if party would ally with Congress, he said the party has not considered it yet. Bihar Chief Minister and party leader Nitish Kumar’s decision to join a Left parties rally here on October 30, likely to be attended by many regional parties, has given rise to speculation that JD(U) is looking at reviving Third Front to challenge Congress as well as BJP. Tyagi, however, said talks about Third Front were completely baseless and the rally is meant to strengthen secularism and social justice.



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Saffron groups may trigger blasts at Modi’s rallies – IB alerted 5 months ago (Oct 27, 2013, Muslim Mirror)

The Gujarat unit of Intelligence Bureau had alerted the Gujarat police five months ago that low-intensity blasts may be carried out by a saffron outfit to target the election rallies of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. A news report about the alert was published in Times of India on 21 May 2013. (Low-intensity blasts may target Narendra Modi’s rallies: Gujarat intelligence bureau)

The input was about the byelections in Gujarat. However, it is the first rally of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Modi which has been targeted by a series of low-intensity blasts. Five persons were reportedly killed in the blasts today in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan minutes before Modi addressed the public rally.

According to the TOI report, the intelligence officials had also intimated the security agencies that the retired army officials are engaged in the allegedly disruptive activity.



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60 per cent of Maharashtra’s Muslims below poverty line: Panel (Oct 24, 2013, New Indian Express)

Nearly 60 per cent of Muslims in both urban and rural areas of Maharashtra fall in the below poverty line (BPL) category, a state-government appointed panel has revealed. As much as 59.40 per cent of the urban Muslim population and 59.80 per cent of the rural Muslim population fell in the category, while another 25 per cent of the community was living just barely above the BPL mark, said the report by a committee headed by retired civil servant Mehmoodur Rehman. Rehman headed a committee of social scientists which was set up five years ago to study the educational, social and economic backwardness of the Muslim population in the state. It submitted its report to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan here Monday.

A top official said that the report has been received and the government will study it before taking further steps on its recommendations. Among other things, it had urged a ban on the practice of ‘triple talaaq’ (divorce in one sitting) and called for reforms in the Muslim community with regard to gender equality. According to the findings, while 70 per cent of the Muslims were centred in urban areas, they faced a major problem of housing. The remaining 30 percent in the rural areas did not have satisfactory access to various poverty alleviation programmes of both the central and state governments.

The record in educational opportunities was equally disturbing, with only 2.2 per cent of the total Muslims completing graduation, while only 1.4 per cent of Muslim women do so. “The work participation rate among the Muslims is 32.4 per cent and the women work participation is only 12 per cent.” It also mentioned the low representation enjoyed by Muslims in government jobs at various levels. While in the Indian Administrative Service cadre of Maharashtra, the presence of Muslims is “as good as non-existent”, in the police force, they account for a presence of about a mere 4.4 per cent.

“Muslims should have a reservation of 10 per cent, or at least 8 per cent in the employment and admissions to all educational institutions including the professional courses,” it recommended. The committee suggested a ban on the practice of ‘arbitrary’ talaaq (divorce) and making alimony compulsory to the divorced woman. The report also expressed concern over police harassment and the large number of cases registered against Muslims. “While the total populace of the community in the state is 10.6 per cent, the jail occupancy statistics range between 32-35 per cent,” it said.

Given these figures, it has suggested setting of a commission to find out the causes behind the disproportionate share of Muslims in state jails and suggest corrective actions that can be taken to avoid this. The committee also asked the government to come down heavily on police personnel violating the basic fundamental rights of the Muslim community and stressed the need for an open dialogue and interaction between communities on the lines of several European countries.



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Suspected Bajrang Dal members attack church (Oct 27, 2013, Deccan Herald)

In a brazen act, a mob of 30 people stormed into a prayer meeting on Sunday morning in a hamlet in far-flung seaside town of Kalva and thrashed the church workers and worshippers. Five persons reported to be members of the Bajrang Dal have been taken into custody and have been booked under Sections 295 (A), 298, 452, 323, 324, 143, 147 and 149 and they are reported to be from Bajrang Dal outfit.

Talking to Deccan Herald from Kalva, one of the complainants Sunil Mantode told over the phone that the mob barged into the prayer meeting taking place at the hall of Christian Faith Centre and bashed four church workers – Rajesh Vishwakarma, Ajay Vishwakarma, Shambhunath Yadav and Gulab Vishwakarma – and worshippers.

“We were forced to take up the matter at the local Kalva police station where incidentally we had reported early this month about the threats and intimidation by the communalists. On October 6, in the same prayer hall, Arul Raj (a pastor) was attacked while he was conducting prayer services and was dragged to police station. An attempt was made to frame him up in false cases. Thereafter the next two Sunday services were held under police protection,” Mantode said.



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After surrender, Asaram sadhvis grilled for hours (Oct 28, 2013, Indian Express)

The special investigation team (SIT)officials, investigating the Surat sisters’ sexual assault cases, questioned two sadhvis of Asaram’s ashram in Ahmedabad on Sunday. The two, who had been absconding after they were named accused in the case, had surrendered before the police a day earlier. The two, identified as Nirmala and Meera, have been associated with the ashram at Motera for several years. The two women were known as Baglo (swan) and Dhel (peahen) in the ashram, which were also code words for these sadhvis, the police said.

The SIT officials said that the duo were alleged to have been providing young girls to Asaram at his private farmhouse – Shanti Kutir – where the elder of the two complainants was allegedly raped and several women were taken there for Asaram’s “special darshan”. According to SIT, the two women are suspected to have been forcing girls for abortions who got pregnant during their stay in Asaram ashram.

An officer associated with the probe said, “The complainants have said that Baglo and Dhel were the most dangerous of all sadhvis in the ashram. The duo not only lured and forced girls to meet Asaram at Shanti Kutir, but after the sexual assault they used to threaten them saying that it was his special blessing if he got physical with them.” The Surat sisters reportedly told SIT that there are more victims inside the Ahmedabad, Surat and Sabarkantha ashrams, who have been threatened not to go against Asaram.

The two women were grilled by the SIT officials for four hours. However, sources said that the duo denied all allegations of forcing and threatening girls for sexual abuse and claimed that the girls who “might have been pregnant”, must have been pregnant before joining the ashrams. The Surat police, who are on the lookout for Asaram’s son Narayan Sai, raided several ashrams in Virar and Kalyan of Mumbai from last three days. The police reportedly collected registers, documents and several other proofs from Sai’s ashrams where girls were allegedly kept for sexual abuse. The Surat police have also confiscated the property papers of Sai from his ashrams.



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Raped by neighbour, betrayed by cops and shunned by society (Oct 28, 2013, Ahmedabad Mirror)

Changodar cops refuse to lodge complaint of a woman who was raped by neighbour and blackmailed with clippings; she was evicted from rented house after the police revealed her identity; she has taken shelter on railway platform with husband and 8-year-old child. A 35-year-old woman with her husband has been frequenting Changodar police station on the outskirts of the city for two days to file a rape complaint. The police have not only refused to file an FIR but shown insensitivity by revealing her identity to the neighbourhood. After the landlord asked her to vacate the house, the victim along with her 8-year-old son and husband, took shelter at Changodar railway platform. Instead of filing an FIR, the police only accepted an application from Suman (the victim, name changed) and inquired into it 24 hours later.

However, their clumsy handling of the case led to revelation of her identity and invited more troubles for her. “Due to the insensitive police, we are facing many problems. We have lost our house and forced to take shelter at the railway platform,” Suman told Mirror on Sunday. On Saturday evening, the police along with her husband Hiren (name changed), 36, went to the scene of crime and inquired enquired with our neighbours about the incident in front of me. I felt humiliated and the identity of my wife was also revealed to the people in the area,” Hiren said. The news of her rape spread in the area and the family was asked to leave their house. “We lived in a rented house and the landlord told us to vacate it. We have taken shelter at the railway station,” Hiren said.

On Friday, when Suman and Hiren went to the police station, the police station officer (PSO) made every effort to ensure that the complaint was not filed. Hiren, who works in a packaging unit, was not only threatened but humiliated with abuses from the insensitive cops at the police station. Suman had been raped by her neighbour, identified as Dinesh Dulera (30), since May 2013. “He took the help of his two cousin sisters to rape me and took my photographs in his mobile phone,” she said. Dulera began blackmailing and sexually exploited her for several months. However, after a few months, Suman left that house and moved to another rented house in Changodar. However, Dulera started following her.

“One day Dulera called my husband and used derogatory language for me. We made up our mind to file a complaint,” Suman said. Earlier, the couple was reluctant to file the compliant fearing social ostracism. “He made me unconscious and raped several times, threatened and now even forced to leave my house. I was threatened that my obscene photographs will be released and my son would be killed. Now, when I want to file a complaint, no one wants to hear me,” Suman said. “Neither my in-laws nor my parents are supporting me. I am alive only because my husband is standing by me. I along with my husband, have been frequenting the police station, but the police did not register the FIR,” she added. After the couple’s several efforts, the cops took an application and started inquiring in the case. During the inquiry, they approached the neighbours, while keeping Hiren with him, which was enough to reveal the identity of the rape victim.

Besides, Suman was called to the police station late in the evening on Saturday in violation of the rules. Also, by delaying the application, the police gave the accused enough time to run away. His cellphone is switched off. Confirming the application, Changodar Inspector B S Jadhav said the police had begun the probe. The cops went to the scene of crime with her husband and inquired about the rape incident. “Primarily, we believe that it is a case of consensual sex. However, we are investigating and will file official complaint if we find any substance in it,” Jadhav said. Inspector General of Police, Ahmedabad Range, R B Brahmbhatt told Mirror that he was not aware of the complaint, and will inquire about it soon.



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Acquittals in Dalit massacre can shake faith in system (Oct 22, 2013, Yahoo)

The Patna High Court Oct 9 suspended conviction of the 26 accused in the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre for want of evidence. The trial court had convicted all 26 accused and sentenced 10 to life imprisonment and handed down capital punishment to 16 in April 2010. The gruesome massacre was committed Dec 1, 1997, in Laxmanpur Bathe village in south Bihar where 58 Dalits, including 27 women and 16 children, (Paswans, Chamars, Mallahs and Machuwara community) were killed by the now-disbanded anti-Naxal upper caste militia Ranvir Sena. The division bench of justice V.N. Sinha and justice A.K. Lal gave the benefit of doubt to the accused on the ground that there were discrepancies in the statement of prosecution witnesses and the prosecution had not produced any evidence to guarantee any punishment.

This is the third instance of acquittal by the Patna High Court in 2013 in the cases of Dalit massacre. In two cases earlier, the Patna High Court division bench (July 3) acquitted nine of 10 accused in the Miyapur massacre where 32 Dalits were allegedly killed by Ranvir Sena in June 2000. Similarly, in the Nagari Bazar carnage case, involving the killing of 11 Dalits, the high court released 11 convicts. The majority of these massacres and violence under the umbrella of anti-Naxal forces was during the second phase of the Naxal movement in Bihar. Undivided central Bihar saw unprecedented level of violence during the second phase of the Naxalite movement. This was marked by alteration of power equation, which was now tilted towards the labour and the oppressed class as opposed to the landlord or upper class segment of current southern Bihar. The second phase also witnessed new political alignments and rise of new Naxalite groups.

An excessive growth of Naxalism and change of power equation brought with itself concomitant problems. There was huge retaliation by the upper caste landlords, creating their own militias. The most prominent among them was Ranvir Sena, which was formed in 1994. The available literature shows a ghastly phase of massacres and counter massacres following the formation of Ranvir Sena in order to counter the growing influence of Naxal-backed peasant resistance and violence. The rise of upper class militia led to violence in 1990s. The Ranvir Sena was however marred by internecine feud. The infighting became the stiffest challenge, slowly leading to the group’s downfall. The change of political landscape during the last decade created fissure among the proxy holders, weakening the central authority and sabotaging networks operations during the period. The arrest of Ranvir Sena head Brahmeshwar Singh, the mastermind behind Dalit massacres, in 2002 destroyed the structural base of Ranvir Sena.

On the other hand, infighting amongst Naxal groups, mainly between People’s War Group and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) as well as Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (Liberation), heightened during early 2000s, subverting the ideological battle fought with arms. The changing social and economic condition of various Dalit groups as well as upper caste groups also led to a status of repair, and subsequently led to a decline in violence and mass massacres. Overall south Bihar, once the central turf in the ongoing class conflict, saw the decline of violence both by the Naxal groups and anti-Naxal groups. The series of acquittals of convicts in different massacre cases can have a multi-dimensional impact, with the scope being measured wholly at the political and security levels. Currently, it is seen as a major blow to the hopes of the numerous victims and their family members, who in all cases belong to a particular caste. All the same, the acquittal can lead to polarization of Dalits against the state machinery and the upper castes who were members of the Ranvir Sena.

The animosity between the Dalit supporters and Ranvir Sena sympathisers has been running high after Brahmeshwar Singh was killed. The judgment can add fuel to the fire. The question of justice in terms of compensating the victims of Dalit caste within Bihar often seems contentious as the series of acquittals has hampered the faith of Dalits in the democratic system. The government has decided to appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court verdict. The ensuing social response to the judgment is hard to predict; but the fact remains inviolable that the judgment has the potential to provide fodder for future agrarian wars fought in the name of Naxal or anti-Naxal war.



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Opinions and Editorials

Narendra Modi’s Rise in India – By The Editorial Board (Oct 26, 2013, New York Times)

In 2002, rioters in the western Indian state of Gujarat savagely killed nearly 1,000 people, most of whom were part of the Muslim minority. Now, barely a decade later, Narendra Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time and still holds the office, is aleading candidate to become prime minister of India. Mr. Modi, a star of India’s main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, would become prime minister if the party won enough seats in parliamentary elections next summer with support from its political allies. His rise to power is deeply troubling to many Indians, especially the country’s 138 million Muslims and its many other minorities. They worry he would exacerbate sectarian tensions that have subsided somewhat in the last decade.

Supporters of Mr. Modi argue that an investigation commissioned by India’s Supreme Court cleared him of wrongdoing in the riots. And they insist that Mr. Modi, who is widely admired by middle-class Indians for making Gujarat one of India’s fastest-growing states, can revive the economy, which has been weakened by a decade of mismanagement by the coalition government headed by the Indian National Congress Party. There is no question that the Congress Party has failed to capitalize on the economic growth of recent years to invest in infrastructure, education and public institutions like the judiciary. And instead of trying to revive itself with new ideas and leaders, it is likely to beled in the coming election by Rahul Gandhi, the inexperienced scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

But Mr. Modi’s strident Hindu nationalism has fueled public outrage. When Reuters asked him earlier this year if he regretted the killings in 2002, he said, if “someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is.” That incendiary response created a political uproar and demands for an apology. Mr. Modi has shown no ability to work with opposition parties or tolerate dissent. And he has already alienated political partners; this summer, an important regional party broke off its 17-year alliance with the B.J.P. because it found Mr. Modi unacceptable.

His economic record in Gujarat is not entirely admirable, either. Muslims in Gujarat, for instance, were much more likely to be poor than Muslims in India as a whole in 2009 and 2010, according to a government report, though new data has shown a big improvement in the last two years. India is a country with multiple religions, more than a dozen major languages and numerous ethnic groups and tribes. Mr. Modi cannot hope to lead it effectively if he inspires fear and antipathy among many of its people.



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People’s Unity against Communalism – Editorial (Oct 27, 2013, Peoples Democracy)

The recent U-turn by the BJP’s PM aspirant over the gold digging that is currently underway in Unnao is typical of the characteristic double speak of the RSS/BJP. Three days after mocking a ‘religious guru’ Shobhan Sarkar whose dream about buried gold had sent the Archaeological Survey of India, obviously with governmental sanction, on a bizarre digging expedition, the BJP PM aspirant saluted this guru’s “penance and renunciation”. In the meanwhile, the BJP sent its Kanpur MLA to Sarkar’s ashram apparently to atone such blasphemy. For a moment the country thought that the BJP PM aspirant was talking sense. But only for a moment.

Such a volte face is understandable given the fact that the RSS/BJP have unambiguously decided to base their campaign for the 2014 elections on sharpening communal polarisation hoping to consolidate the “Hindu vote bank”. The newly appointed chairman of the BJP’s Election Manifesto Committee said at a press conference: “We want a temple constructed at Ram Janmabhoomi. Our views on this are non-negotiable.” He went on to say that there would be no compromise on the BJP’s core issues of building a grand Ram temple, scrapping Article 370 that gives a special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, imposing a uniform civil code, protecting the cow and the Ram Sethu (ie, oppose the construction of the navigation channel) and cleaning up the Ganga river.

In other words, the BJP is reverting back to the basic core agenda of the RSS which is to metamorphose the character of the secular democratic modernIndian Republic into their version of a rabidly intolerant fascistic ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The fact that such a project was defeated by the people of India at the time of our independence with the adoption of our Republican Constitution does not deter them. In pursuit of this project, they spread communal poison leading to mayhem, death and destruction on a large scale. Their vision runs absolutely contrary to the civilisational advance of our country and the continuing unfolding of the idea of India. While the British united these territories for their colonial plunder, the protracted freedom struggle with innumerable sacrifices had cemented the consciousness of our people and unity of the country.

The victory of the freedom struggle and the consequent integration of the feudal princely States into the Indian Republic created a country with multiple nationalities united with the consciousness of Indianness. The Indian civilization itself is the product of the syncretic evolution of various trends that traversed these lands. Ours indeed is the churning crucible of civilisational advance. As Jawaharlal Nehru describes in the Discovery of India, “India is an ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet, no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously.” Further, Rabindranath Tagore says: “Aryans and non-Aryans, Dravidians and Chinese, Scythians, Huns, Pathans and Moghuls, all have merged and lost themselves in one body”. And, this body is India.

It goes without saying that central to such a syncretic civilisational advance is not merely the acceptance of a rich plurality in social and religious practices but also an active interaction between them leading to a degree of social harmony amidst this rich diversity. As opposed to this, the RSS was singularly absent in the freedom struggle and maintained a distance from this epic struggle. It has only one claim of a link to the freedom struggle, ie, V D Savarkar. Eminent historian, sympathetic to Hindutva tendencies, R C Majumdar, documents in his work on Penal Settlements in Andamans how Savarkar negotiated his release from the Kalapani. It was Savarkar who in his presidential address to the Hindu Mahasabha first put forward that in India there are two nations – Hindu and Islamic. This was full two years before Mohamad Ali Jinnah advanced his two-nation theory and set in motion, ably aided and abetted by the British, the process leading to the partition of India. It was Savarkar who coined the term ‘Hindutva’ stating that it has little to do with Hindu religion. For the creation of a Hindu nation, he gave the slogan “Hinduise the military, militarise Hindudom” – an inspiration that can be seen in the recent events of Hindutva terror. …



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Locking horns – By Lyla Bavadam (Nov 1, 2013, Frontline)

The appointment of a Lokayukta in Gujarat continues to be in limbo as both Governor Kamla Beniwal and Chief Minister Narendra Modi stick to their positions over the appointment. On September 2, the Governor returned the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013 that the Assembly had passed in April. In the Lokayukta Act 1986, the power of selection of the Lokayukta is with the Governor and the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court. The new Bill proposes to give all powers of appointment to a selection committee headed by the Chief Minister.

The Governor is expected to act on the recommendations of this committee. The Bill calls for the appointment of a Lokayukta and five Upalokayuktas by the selection committee, which should include a judge of the High Court nominated by the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the House, the Leader of the Opposition, one other Minister and the State Vigilance Commissioner. Furthermore, investigations by the Lokayukta would have to be presented to the Council of Ministers instead of being tabled in the House.

The last time the Lokayukta’s post was filled in Gujarat was in 2003. On August 25, 2011, the Governor appointed Justice (retd) R.A. Mehta to the post of Lokayukta. The State government objected to the appointment; Modi wrote to the Prime Minister saying it was breach of “federal principles” and asked that the Governor be recalled. The BJP said the Lokayukta should be decided by elected representatives and not by the Governor. A prolonged legal battle ensued. In January this year, the Supreme Court upheld Mehta’s appointment. But on August 7, Mehta declined to take charge saying the attitude of the State government would not allow him to carry out of his duties. He also said the controversy over his appointment had denigrated the office. Meanwhile, the State Assembly passed a Bill which, in essence, cut back the powers of the Governor and the Chief Justice in the appointment of the Lokayukta.

In her seven-page letter to the State government, the Governor wrote: “I am of the view that the provisions of Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013 are detrimental to the interest of public welfare, and the State legislature needs rethinking on the issues mentioned in the interest of the people of Gujarat.” Commenting on the composition of the new Lokayukta office, she wrote: “The very constitution of the selection committee suggests that the Leader of Opposition and judge would be in a minority and their voice would have hardly any significance because their objections could be easily overruled…. The provision for the appointment of the Lokayukta cannot stand the scrutiny of any rationality and is in clear violation of the mandate which has been reflected from several decisions of the Supreme Court from time to time.”



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Violence Against Muslims In Chippawad Town, Madhya Pradesh Was Well Orchestrated – Fact Finding Report (Oct 28, 2013, Countercurrents)

In Madhya Pradesh state of India, hardly a month passes without one or the other incident of communal violence not being reported from some or the other part of the state. Indore, Ratlam, Dewas, Khandwa, Harda, Betul, Sagar and Neemuch districts have become hotbed of communal violence. From the year 2005 up to the first quarter of 2013, as many as 945 communal incidents have taken place in the state. In 2012 alone, 89 communal incidents took place and on 92 occasions, there was a build-up of communal tension. Nine persons were killed and 241 sustained injuries in communal incidents in 2012. The state tops in the country as far as the number of communal incidents is concerned.

According to the information furnished in Indian parliament by the Central government, between 2009 and 2013, 432 communal incidents took place in the state and it was among the top three states in the country in this respect. The communal violence in Khirkiya Nagar Panchayat area of Harda district on September 19, 2013 is only yet another incident in this series. Khirkiya is a Nagar Panchayat in Harda district of Madhya Pradesh, with a population of around 25,000. One-third of the residents are Muslims. The Nagar Panchayat is divided into 15 Wards and it was in one of the wards – Ward No 14 – which forms part of Chhipawad town, that the communal violence took place.

Chhipawad is located about 30 km from Harda district headquarters and 5 km from Khirkiya block HQ. More than 90 per cent residents of Ward no 14 are Muslims. Other wards too have a mixed population. All the residents of ward numbers 12, 13, 14 settled here after they were displaced from Harsud town, which got submerged due to the construction of the Indira Sagar dam on river Narmada . The families are yet to get ownership rights on the land on which they have constructed their houses. Most of them are agricultural and manual laborers.

On September 19, 2013 (Thursday), at about 9 AM , Kalu, a Korku tribal, who works in the fields of a Muslim farmer Taj Khan, drove away a calf by hitting it with a stick as it was entering the field repeatedly. The animal, allegedly, died later. Within moments, a rumor was spread in the Chhipawad-Khirkiya area that Muslims had killed a cow and thrown its body. Subsequently, activists of Hindutva fundamentalist organizations like Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Gau-Raksha Commando force, loaded the dead body of a other cow in a tractor-trolley and began a blockade of the Hoshangabad-Khandwa highway at the Maharana Pratap square of Chhipawad. Soon, a crowd comprising four to five thousand persons gathered at the spot and began raising provocative anti-Muslim slogans. At around 1 PM, the violent crowd got divided into two groups.

One group assaulted the Imam of the local mosque and ransacked the mosque. The other group marched towards Chhipawad Ward no 14 and set 20-25 houses afire. The rioters also set ablaze around 30 two-wheelers, one jeep and a Matador. According to some eye-witnesses, a police van was following the rioters but the policemen remained mute spectators to the violence. When the probe team asked the Harda Superintendent of Police Deepak Verma about this, he said that the strength of police force in Harda district was comparatively less than other districts. Moreover, a section of the district police force was sent to Betul on that day for security arrangement for the visit of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Meanwhile, when the Collector Rajnish Shrivastawa and SP Deepak Verma reached the spot, the rioters pelted stones at them and forced them to retreat. … The well-planned way in which the hutments of the poor and innocent Muslims were reduced to ashes at Chhipawad, it seemed as if an organized army had attacked and wreaked destruction in an enemy area. …



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Muzaffarnagar Gang Rape Cases Languish in Police Files – By Pamposh Raina (Oct 23, 2013, New York Times)

About a month after the first report of a gang rape was registered in the Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, the police acknowledged they have yet to question anyone named in the six gang rape complaints filed in the aftermath of last month’s sectarian riots. According to Muzaffarnagar police records, six women have said they were gang raped and four others have said they were molested during the violence between Hindus and Muslims that broke out on Sept. 7 here in the sugarcane belt of northern India, located 75 miles north of New Delhi, where the men who gang raped a young woman in December last year were sentenced to death last month. The police said the women named their alleged assailants in their gang rape complaints, but Mala Yadav, the officer investigating these cases, said Wednesday that the police have not made any contact with the men.

Ms. Yadav, who took charge of the investigations on Oct. 16, said she was waiting to talk to the women who filed the complaints, all of whom are from the village of Fugana in Muzaffarnagar district, but are now scattered throughout the refugee camps set up to house the Muslims who fled the area. She began looking for them on Oct. 19. “I went looking for the victims at the refugee camp in Jaula village, where I was told five of them would be,” said Ms. Yadav. “But I could not find them there.” A sixth victim of gang rape is believed to have sought refuge in a camp in the nearby Loi village, she said. Ms. Yadav said she was going back to the camps later on Wednesday. But until she speaks to the women and gathers enough evidence, visits the site of the crimes and finds eyewitnesses, “how could anyone be arrested?” she said.

The violence between the Jats, a Hindu land-owning dominant caste, and the Muslims, a minority in the Muzaffarnagar area, lasted for a few days before the police and the Indian Army could quell the riots. A total of 42,000 people were displaced and 49 were killed, most of them Muslims. The killings of two Jat men and one Muslim man on Aug. 27 inflamed tensions to the point of violence, but the cause of the killings is being investigated. Muslim villagers, fearing for their lives after loot and arson began in the area, sought refuge in makeshift camps in Muzaffarnagar and neighboring Shamli district. Since then, some have moved out of the camps. According to the police, a total of 500 initial complaints, known as first information reports, have been lodged so far and more than 1,000 people have been arrested on charges of rioting, committing arson and looting in Muzaffarnagar.

Kalpana Saxena, a superintendent of police in Muzaffarnagar district, said the police were delayed in investigating the riot-related sexual assault cases because the initial team of officers that was formed in September did not include any female officers. Female officers like Ms. Yadav were brought in to deal with female victims after consideration by senior officials in the special investigation team, headed by Hari Narayan Singh, the senior superintendent of police in Muzaffarnagar. In the six gang rape cases, the police said the women, all of whom were married and more than 30 years old, had alleged that they were raped on Sept. 8, the second day of the riots. Five of the six reports were filed between Sept. 22 and 29 and a sixth was filed on Oct. 10. The filing of such complaints is rare in rural Uttar Pradesh, which is largely controlled by unelected, all-male village councils known as khap panchayats and where a woman who is raped is considered to have brought shame upon her family.

The women’s medical examinations were conducted at a government hospital in Muzaffarnagar when the women filed a police complaint. But the police said the exams found no physical evidence of rape because of the lapse in the time between the alleged sexual assault and the filing of the complaints. As for the molestation cases, Ms. Saxena, confirmed in a phone interview that four complaints had been filed, but when asked about the status of the cases, she said the investigating officer would have details. However, Ms. Yadav, said she knew nothing about the reports of molestation. “The special investigation team is doing its job,” said Mr. Singh, the senior superintendent of police. “If they find the culprits, we will arrest them.”



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Al Ummah Arrests: The Big Catch That Never Was – By Imran Khan (Nov 2, 2013, Tehelka)

But for the fact that it is less than an hour’s road journey from the historic Hindu shrine at Tirupati, Puttur in Andhra Pradesh is a forgettable dusty town one drives through in minutes on the way from one city to another without even noticing it. Earlier this month, however, national news networks stopped over there after the police arrested two terrorists reportedly on the run for years and hiding lately in this sleepy town of 55,000 residents. Since their arrests on 5 October after a nightlong siege of their rundown rented house in Puttur, Bilal Malik, 25, and Panna Ismail, 38, are said to have confessed to murdering local BJP leaders in neighbouring Tamil Nadu as well as to planting bombs two years ago in a failed bid to assassinate BJP leader LK Advani. The police said the duo have been members of an Islamic terror group named Al Ummah.

But, as with most police narratives about terrorists, the story of Puttur’s fugitives throws up too many contradictions when held up to scrutiny. Over the past two weeks, TEHELKA has investigated police claims of the antecedents of the men (along with that of a third who was arrested in Chennai a day before their arrest), examined the previous terror cases against them, met their families, and visited Puttur to verify the events of the arrest. First, the story of their dramatic arrests. Just after midnight following 4 October, the police quietly began to evacuate hundreds of residents from a low-income locality in Puttur. After all houses but one had emptied out, the police surrounded it and challenged its occupants to give themselves up. But, according to the police, the men inside attacked them leading to an “encounter” in which Ismail was shot. Malik’s wife sustained a gash on her face. Because no one saw the alleged encounter, there are no independent witnesses.

The police claimed that Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, an absconding terrorist they arrested on 4 October, led them to the duo at Puttur. Explosives, bombs and a pistol were also reportedly recovered from a locked house nearby allegedly owned by Ahmed. Initial reports claimed a policeman died in the encounter. But the Andhra Pradesh DGP later denied that. News reports also spoke of a “10-hour gunbattle”, which, too, turned out to be untrue as there had been no exchange of fire. This reporter found no bullet marks in that house. Immediately after the arrests, the police said the men were responsible for the July murders of S Vellaiyappan, who belonged to Hindu Munnani, a fringe right-wing outfit, and the BJP’s Tamil Nadu general secretary V Ramesh. Police said the men had also plotted to kill Advani during a political rally in 2011 near Madurai.

The Karnataka Police, too, claimed it was Malik who had planted a bomb on a motorcycle that went off in front of the BJP office in Bengaluru in April. The police made it appear as if the arrested men were a “big catch”. But the truth is the police have known the men for years during which, according to their counsel, authorities filed bogus criminal cases on terror charges. In many cases, the men have already been acquitted. Malik was first arrested along with three others in 2005 for the murder of Kalidas, anRSS activist, in Madurai. The victim’s son had named two men, both of whom were later convicted, but not Malik and the other three. The trial court acquitted those three. But as Malik was a minor, a juvenile court heard his case. Later, the police booked him in two more cases, including for assault. “They would pick him up any time, search the house and grill him for hours,” recalls Ghazni, Malik’s brother. In 2008, Malik absconded, which is why his case is still open.

Malik’s family says the police have given no evidence of his involvement in Kalidas’ murder. And yet, the constant harassment and false charges forced Malik, the third son of a Madurai scrap merchant, to become a fugitive. “We gave him a good education as we didn’t want him to face poverty as we had, but his life has been ruined,” says Ghazni. But why would the police pick specifically on Malik? Ghazni says his brother’s only misfortune was being related to one of the other three accused, who were subsequently acquitted. After absconding, Malik married a woman named Husna, who is 20 now. They have three children. According to their neighbours in Puttur, the couple sold kitchenware to low-income households, bartering them for old clothes. On and off, they also sold vegetables on a cart. At other times, Malik also engaged in the scrap business. “The police have warned both my parents and in-laws against helping me and my husband,” Husna told TEHELKA at Ghazni’s residence, where she has temporarily moved in. …



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