IAMC Weekly News Roundup - October 2nd, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 2nd, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

In Gandhi’s Gujarat, Potters Keep a Shine on Hindu-Muslim Amity (Oct 2, 2017, The Quint)

… In spite of the hardships and hand-to-mouth existence, the Sumras look forward to their work. For the economic activity has carved out a beautiful socio-cultural association, as the Muslim Sumra families make pots for the predominantly Hindu kumbhars in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, molding secular ties, especially in troubled times.…

From an imminent Diwali until the next chaumasa, as they call the monsoons, they will make thousands of pots that would be bought by wholesalers and retailers alike. The Sumras specialise in making pots of different shapes and sizes for storing water and keeping it cool during summer.…

While the potters comprise only Muslims, they deal primarily with Hindu wholesale dealers who truck away pots in bulk. Ahmedabad’s Vejalpur-based Girish Prajapati, a regular wholesale dealer says he feels at home when he comes to Sarkhej Roza to buy pots. “I am a Prajapati, a Hindu potter and I always buy my wares from a Sumra, a Muslim potter. We have been doing business for many years now, without a single problem,” he tells VillageSquare.in.


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‘I kept saying I was a teacher, but police never listened and continued to beat me’, BHU professor recounts ordeal (Sep 27, 2017, Indian Express)

Days after violence erupted at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) following the alleged sexual harassment of a student, a woman professor of the varsity has disclosed that it was not only students but wardens like her had also been mercilessly lathicharged by the police on the night when the incident took place. Recalling her ordeal, Pratima Gond, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Mahila Maha Vidyalaya, BHU, said she was assaulted by the police while she was trying to save a student from being attacked.

“A woman student fell on the ground while police were lathicharging students. When I went to help the girl, I also got trapped under the police attack. I pleaded them not to beat me and told them that I am a teacher at the university, but they didn’t listen and kept beating,” Gond said, adding that she is yet to recover from the trauma.

“They struck blows on my head with two-three lathis; I also suffered injuries on my fingers. I am not a criminal, I am teacher. We were not inciting any violence. It is very unfortunate that a teacher and students were beaten and that too when not a single woman officer was present on the spot. This incident happened around 11.30 pm,” she added.…



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Modi as Gujarat CM “encouraged” cow vigilantes, were awarded for raiding “illegal” cattle transportation: Report (Sep 28, 2017, Counterview)

Did Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his chief ministership of Gujarat, encourage the much abused cow vigilantism, which allegedly is terrorizing minorities and Dalits across India? It would seem so, if the new report, “Lynching without End”, published by a civil rights network, Citizens against Hate, is any indication.

Prepared under the leaderhship of Aman Biradari Trust, which operates under IAS bureaucrat-turned-activist Harsh Mander, the report, to be released on October 2, the Gandhi Jayanti day, says that between 2011 and 2014, the Gujarat government “disbursed Rs 75 lakh in cash rewards to 1,394 vigilantes for raiding illegal cattle transporters and filing FIRs against them.” Modi, who ruled Gujarat between 2001 and 2014, resigned as chief minister in May 2014 to become India’s Prime Minister in the wake of the BJP’s resounding victory in the Lok Sabha elections under him.

Claiming that these figures are officially available on the Gujarat government’s Gauseva and Gauchar Vikas Board (GGVB) website, the report says, “The GGVB was set up under the animal husbandry department in 1999, but remained defunct for almost a decade before Modi revived it in 2010.” The report, which has been prepared with the help of several other civil rights organizations, says that the GGVB was given “some steel” by Modi, “who introduced a slew of schemes, including a cash reward of Rs 500 for every FIR registered against cattle smugglers and transporters.”…



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Kanpur communal violence: DSP suspended, DM orders probe; paramilitary forces deployed in affected areas (Oct 2, 2017, DNA India)

The District Magistrate of Kanpur has ordered a probe into the communal violence that broke in the area during a Tazia procession to mark Muhraam on Sunday. Kanpur DSP has been suspended. Situation is under control, suggest latest reports. UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s trip to the city was cancelled in view of the communal violence. He was supposed to take part in a clean India marathon.

Various reports said that around 30 people were injured in the clashes. Six vehicles including two cars and four motorcycles torched after tensions gripped in the areas. The first incident took place in Param Purva area of Kanpur district. The rioters also resorted to stone pelting. Heavy security was deployed in the region, with police resorting to lathicharge in some cases.…

A similar incident happened in Rawatpur village in the district, but later controlled. In Kanpur, paramilitary forces have been deployed to maintain law and order.



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After 30 years of service, retired army officer from Assam branded as Bangladeshi (Oct 1, 2017, Hindustan Times)

A retired army officer was asked to prove his Indian nationality as Assam police branded him a Bangladeshi, an action that reflects the long and contentious conflict over illegal immigrants in the northeastern state. A foreigners tribunal served a notice to Mohammed Azmal Hoque, who retired as a junior commissioned officer (JCO) last year after serving the army for 30 years.

The Guwahati-based Hoque maintains that his family is indigenous Assamese and his father’s name is mentioned on the voters list of 1966. His mother’s name was listed in the 1951 national register of citizens.

“I have no doubt that I will get justice. But it pains me when my daughter questions me if this is how the country treats those who serve it for so many years,” he said on Sunday.…



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BJP suspends Muslim woman leader for organising prayer meet in Assam for Rohingya victims (Sep 18, 2017, New Indian Express)

A Muslim member of the BJP in Assam has been suspended and served a show-cause notice by her party for allegedly organising a “prayer meet” for the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

A notice sent by WhatsApp to Bharatiya Janata Mazdoor Morcha chief executive member Benazir Arfan alleged that she had used the BJP’s social media forum to make an appeal to people to attend a demonstration being organised by another organisation. The notice said the Benazir Afra had not discussed the issue within the party.

Arfan, who was the BJP’s Triple Talaq mascot in the state, defended her action, stating that it was a prayer meet and not a demonstration. “The event was organised by an NGO, United Minority People’s Forum, to pray for the Rohingya Muslims who have lost their lives in Myanmar. But the BJP state leadership viewed it as an attempt to lobby for asylum for fleeing Rohingya Muslims in India,” Benazir Arfan told New Indian Express.…



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Modi’s Saubhagya is old wine in new bottle, “copies” 2005 UPA rural electrification scheme for “willing” households (Sep 26, 2017, Counterview)

Old wine in new bottle – this is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new scheme, Saubhagya, is being described by knowledgeable circles. The “new scheme”, seeking to provide free power connection to what are called “willing households”, is called Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana or Saubhagya, and is nothing but just a copy of a scheme launched by the then UPA government in April 2005.

Called RGGVY (Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana), the 2005 scheme had sought to provide benefits to households below the poverty line (BPL) through a free connection but chargeable consumption of power. In a span of eight years, till January 2013, RGGVY provided free power connection to more than two crore people.

The principal aims of RGGVY were implemented since 2005 were (1) Electrifying all villages and habitations as per new definition. (2) Providing access to electricity to all rural households. (3)Providing electricity connection to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families free of charge. The view is strong: Compared with RGGVY there is nothing new in Saughagya, except what are described as “willing households”.…



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Sohrabuddin case: Bombay HC asks CBI why trial court order was not challenged (Sep 29, 2017, Hindustan Times))

The Bombay high court on Friday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation why it had not challenged the trial court orders discharging senior IPS officers in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati.

Hearing a revision application filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin Sheikh, challenging the trial court orders of discharge, Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said the CBI should be “equally aggrieved” with the trial court’s order.

She asked the probe agency whether it was planning to challenge the trial court orders of August 2016 and August 2017 discharging IPS officers Rajkumar Pandiyan, D G Vanzara, and Dinesh M N.…



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After Yashwant Sinha, RSS affiliate hits out at Modi govt’s economic policies (Sep 27, 2017, India Today)

On a day when senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha trained his guns against the government’s economic policies, a Sangh-affiliate Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) also hit out at the Modi government.

The RSS affiliate criticised the Modi government’s handling of the economy, called advisors ‘faulty’ and also criticised foreign direct investment policy (FDI). Calling the reforms ‘misguided’, BMS said that the economic policies are continuation of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

But, what is worrying for the finance ministry is that, the BMS has demanded for stimulus package for labour intensive sectors. In a statement, the RSS-affiliate said, “Government should declare stimulus package towards employment generating activities in labour intensive sectors in order to contain slowdown of economy.”…



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Bajrang Dal disrupts interfaith couple’s marriage in Meerut (Sep 28, 2017, The Hindu)

An interfaith couple, whose attempt to register their marriage was disrupted by Bajrang Dal workers on Wednesday, were produced before a court in Faridabad on Thursday but were let off after the woman testified that she was not abducted as alleged by her uncle.

Krishna, 21, who hails from Greater Noida, said she had gone to Meerut with Saddam, a 24-year-old labour contractor from Shamli, out of her own volition. They planned to register their marriage at a court there.

But before they could do so, Bajrang Dal workers reached the court premises and tried to attack Saddam. The police lathicharged the Bajrang Dal activists when they turned on the policemen protecting the couple.…



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‘Dalits don’t have right to watch garba’: Man beaten to death in Gujarat for attending ‘upper-caste’ event; 8 booked (Oct 2, 2017, First Post)

A 21-year-old Dalit man was allegedly beaten to death by a group of men belonging to the upper caste Patel community for attending a garba event in Gujarat’s Anand district in the early hours Sunday, police said. The incident took place around 4 am.

Jayesh Solanki, cousin Prakash Solanki and two other Dalit men were sitting near a house adjacent to a temple in Bhadrania village when a person made “derogatory remarks about their caste”, police said quoting a complaint filed in connection with the incident.

The accused said Dalits “do not have any right to watch the garba. He made casteist remarks and asked some men to come to the spot”, an officer at the Bhadran police station said. The upper caste men allegedly thrashed the Dalits and banged Jayesh’s head against a wall, the officer said.…



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Opinions and Editorials

No ‘Achhe Din’ Here: The Modi Bubble Has Now Burst – By Prem Shankar Jha (Sep 29, 2017, The Wire)

“The economy is in a tailspin. Yes, it can crash. We need to do a lot of good things to revive the economy”. These words are not mine, but Subramanian Swamy’s. Swamy is not a “pseudo-secular” critic of the BJP. He is a disappointed devotee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was, only last year, the BJP’s weapon of choice in its assault on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case.

He is not the only one. Arun Shourie has been warning the country that Modi does not have a clue on how to revive the economy and has therefore turned to the most dangerous form of populism – communal polarisation – in a desperate bid to ensure victory in 2019.… Swamy is a reputed economist, and the other two are former ministers who have experience and inside knowledge to back their critiques. But what about the Aam Modi Bhakt – urban, educated, middle class and young? Does he still believe that Modi and Amit Shah are crafting a new economy in a New India, that can still bring ‘acche din’?…

Modi’s highly-personalised propaganda blitz had kept them quiet so far: “The government cannot be lying to us,” they probably said to themselves. “Maybe it is only me, and a few others like me, who have been unable to find jobs”. That doubt has begun to dissolve, and when it does, Modi and his government will face its inevitable corollary: rage. That was the sentiment that drove the Congress out of power in 2014. It is now rising against the BJP.…



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Pehlu Khan’s death still a ‘paheli’ for Rajasthan Police – By Sanjeev Singh (Sep 18, 2017, Times of India)

Rajasthan Police’s clean chit to six people in connection with the lynching of Pehlu Khan in Alwar on April 1 is a clear example of a one-sided and botched up investigation. The 55-year-old cattle trader succumbed to his injuries two days after he and others were allegedly beaten up by cow vigilantes while returning from Jaipur to Haryana after purchasing cattle. Khan had mentioned these six people in his dying declaration.

As per the CID report, the clean chit has been given on the basis of statements of eye-witnesses, photographs and mobile phone location records. But these claims are contested by Khan’s family. Firstly the statements recorded are of employees who work in a gaushala situated about four kilometres away from the crime scene.

Secondly the conclusion based on mobile locations is unconvincing as there is no way to check if the accused have only one mobile in their name and whether they were in physical possession of them when the crime took place. Thirdly, the Supreme Court has on many occasions based conviction in a case if it has found the dying declaration to be true and voluntary.…



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Hindustan Times Editor’s Exit Preceded by Meeting Between Modi, Newspaper Owner – By Anuj Srivas (Sep 25, 2017, The Wire)

Hindustan Times (HT) proprietor Shobhana Bhartia’s decision to announce the abrupt exit of Bobby Ghosh as editor was preceded by a personal meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and objections raised by top-level government and Bharatiya Janata Party officials to editorial decisions taken during Ghosh’s tenure.

The government insists the meeting was “confined to” Bhartia’s efforts to secure Modi’s participation in a flagship HT event. But sources in the newspaper say that in the run-up to that meeting, she faced sustained objections from senior ministers to aspects of HT’s political coverage, to Ghosh’s own views expressed on social media, and to the fact that he does not hold Indian citizenship. One of these minsters had even hinted at escalating matters to Modi.…

His departure from HT was announced by Bhartia on September 11. The fact that Bhartia’s statement did not say Ghosh had resigned, but that he would “be returning to New York for personal reasons” – and that Ghosh has made no public statement of his own – is seen as a sign within the organisation that his exit was forced.…



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Is India neglecting the Taj Mahal because it was built by Muslims? – By Annie Gowen (Oct 3, 2017, Washington Post)

The Taj Mahal, India’s iconic monument to eternal love, has taken a beating in recent years. Its attendance figures are down, and air pollution is slowly turning its ethereal white marble yellow.

Now, to make matters worse, some in India say that a staunch Hindu nationalist government recently elected in the Taj’s home state of Uttar Pradesh is starving the world-famous site of funds and support because, as it sees it, the mausoleum was built by Muslim invaders.

The state’s new chief minister, the saffron-robed Hindu priest Yogi Adityanath, set the tone early on when he lamented at a rally that tiny models of the Taj Mahal are often given to visiting foreign dignitaries, saying the monument “does not reflect Indian culture.”…



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The Impact Of Demonetisation, Cattle Slaughter Ban And GST On Rural Economy – By Phrangsngi Pyrtuh (Sep 28, 2017, The Shillong Times)

Rural India is at a critical stage. Rural distress is back with a vengeance and this time much of it has to do with faulty economic policies executed over the last few months. Despite India becoming a fast developing country it is still an agricultural country with about 830 million populations residing in the rural areas. Effectively, the economy of rural India is concentrated in agricultural related activities. So far India’s growth story has been exclusive, one that benefits mostly the organized segment of the secondary and tertiary sectors.

Liberalization and the resulting reform policies have not benefitted the rural economy and those who live rural India. With a substantial vote bank the key to political power in India lies in the rural areas. Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 election campaign promised to double farmer’s income by 2022. Unfortunately political rhetoric is easier said than done. Different indicators have so far pointed to a downward spiral and pressure of rural income with increasing distress that have aggravated in recent months.…

Moreover, even after 20 years of liberalization the rural economy of India still remains the most regulated and controlled sector of the country. The cattle slaughter policy is an indication that there is hardly any government that cares for the welfare of the rural population. What the rural economy needs is liberalization that is specific to its requirement which is different from that of other sectors of the economy. The rural economy is a struggling sector. Policies such as GST, demonetisation and the ban on cattle slaughter will further maim it.



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The law is clear: India can’t deport Rohingyas – By Colin Gonsalves (Sep 27, 2017, Hindustan Times)

India has a fair reputation on the refugee issue having taken in Sri Lankans, Tamils, Afghans, Tibetans and Myanmaris. This is why the reaction of the Government of India on the Rohingya issue doesn’t quite make sense. Apart from being wrong on law, it creates an impossible situation and tarnishes India’s image abroad.

The Supreme Court in the case of granting citizenship to the Chakma’s confirmed the proposition that since Article 21 – the Right to Life – of the Constitution covers all “persons” and not just citizens, the State is duty bound to protect the lives of citizens and foreigners alike. This is how the principle of non-refoulement or non-return – which bars a country from deporting a refugee to any country where she might be raped, murdered or tortured – has been interpreted as inhering in Article 21.

However, the security issue remains to be discussed with some calmness. The Centre’s concerns ought not to be cursorily ignored. I represent 7,000 refugees in Jammu and visited some of the 23 refugee settlements in the city. Not a single refugee in Jammu has been charged with terrorism. On the possibility of radicalisation of the Rohingyas and of terrorist organisations fishing in troubled waters, one need only to rely on the statement of the chief minister of the state, asserting that there are no signs of radicalisation of the Rohingya population.…



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