IAMC Weekly News Roundup - September 16th, 2013 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 16th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Rounup


Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Muzaffarnagar carnage a planned tactic of communal politics

Indian Americans condemn purveyors of hate for the massacres and UP government for its criminal inaction.

Sunday, September 15th, 2013


Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy organization dedicated to preserving India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has condemned the politics of violence and hate that has taken the lives of over 50 people and rendered over 47,000 homeless in Muzaffarnagar and surrounding areas of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Days of violence went uninterrupted in close proximity to the capital New Delhi.

While several incidents were reported to have set the stage for clashes between the communities, it is the inaction of the government that allowed these incidents to spiral out of control. The UP government stood by as communal forces were distributing arms, spreading false rumors and inciting mobs of thousands; even though prohibitory orders were in place and intelligence input had warned of communal violence.

On the 30th of August a 20,000-strong meeting was allowed to be held in tense Muzaffarnagar where several politicians allegedly made provocative remarks. On September 7, a larger counter-rally was allowed by the district administration even though Muzaffarnagar district was under prohibitory orders. In this meeting, too, there were reports of incendiary remarks. These developments suggest that some political elements stood to gain from heightened tension and the administration failed in their duty to maintain order.

“The systematic nature of the incidents and actions leading to them makes it clear that the violence was engineered and sustained by political forces that aim to cash in on the polarization of the electorate,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “It is pertinent to note that several social scientists and observers had noticed an uptick in the violence since Amit Shah of BJP, the former Gujarat Minister who is out on bail for murder charges, was appointed the campaign lead for UP,” Mr. Khan added.

Indian Americans view this development as alarming and a prelude to more polarization in the run up to the elections next year. IAMC calls upon all communities to guard against the politics of hate. IAMC calls upon the government to prevent provocative rallies and bring to justice perpetrators and inciters of violence, including those who spread false rumors. The government is urged to also look into ways of informing people and halting the spread of rumors.

Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at www.iamc.com.


Indian American Muslim Council
Ishaq Syed
Phone: (800) 839-7270
Email: info@iamc.com

6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053
phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270

1. SP, BJP flared up communal tension: Ajit Singh
2. Videos show leaders from several parties inciting violence in Muzaffarnagar
3. Muzaffarnagar riots leave 43,000 homeless
4. Muzaffarnagar riots: UP government cancels Varun Gandhi rally near Agra
5. Muzaffarnagar riots: cyber experts to trace source of video
6. Rioters used WhatsApp to fan flames: Police

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Communal Harmony

Hindus, Muslims in 2 villages show UP how to live and let live (Sep 10, 2013, Hindustan Times)

In the midst of riot-hit Muzaffarnagar district where 38 people have been killed in communal clashes since Saturday, two villages have emerged as islands of communal harmony where the area’s famed ‘Ganga Jamuna tehzeeb’ is still alive. Even as bloody clashes eroded the trust between the two communities in the area, the Jat-dominated Mohammadpur Shakist village did not allow its lone Muslim family to leave for ‘safer’ options.

Despite the fact that the village lost a young man belonging to the majority community in the clashes, the villagers asked the Muslim family not to leave the village and promised that they would be protected. On September 7, 35-year-old Jogendra was killed along with 42-year-old Virendra of neighbouring Modkhurd village while they were on their way home after attending the mahapanchayat. The riots began after people returning from the mahapanchayat were allegedly attacked by people of another community.

The Muslim family mourned Jogendra’s death along with the entire village. “The death of Jogendra was a setback for my family as well,” said Raisuddin whose septuagenarian mother Bundi has been visiting Jogendra’s home every day to help the family in their hour of grief. The 10-member family runs a barber shop in the village and occasionally works in the fields of Jats to earn their livelihood. …

The families have stayed together for generations and the Jats never made them feel that they were the only Muslim family in the village. “We share our grief and happiness and they have even deputed me as the chowkidar of the village,” said Raisuddin. Prosperous Jats provide them interest-free loan whenever they need money. … Jogendra’s distant relative Sunil Choudhary said, “We can’t ignore the significance and support of Raisuddin’s family in our daily life. It is our responsibility to protect them in order to keep the ethos of humanity intact.”

In another instance of communal harmony, resident of village Jaula in district Muzaffarnagar, majority Muslims have protected about 100 Hindus living in the village. “Despite all odds, we have not allowed them to leave because it will give a bad name to our village which we can’t bear,” said Abdul Gaffar, the village’s former headman. The village is also giving shelter to members of a community who have fled riot-hit areas. The majority community said they had promised that no harm will come to the Hindus and despite the prevailing atmosphere, they have stayed true to their words.



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SP, BJP flared up communal tension: Ajit Singh (Sep 10, 2013, The Hindu)

Accusing the ruling Samajwadi Party and BJP of spreading communal tension and violence for the sake of polarising their vote banks, Civil Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh on Tuesday said strict action on ground was required to ensure that violence does not spread to other states. Expressing serious concern over the communal incidents in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RLD) president said it must be ensured that the violence does not spread to other States otherwise it will become unmanageable.

“Now the main concern is to check spread of violence to other places, as if it’s not controlled now then it may spread to other states. If it spreads to other states, then situation would become unmanageable. So, some strict action should be taken now,” he added. Coming down heavily on Samajwadi Party and BJP, Mr. Singh said the Akhilesh Yadav Government was responsible for what happened in Muzzaffarnagar incidents where innocent people lost their lives. The State government did not take timely action to prevent this violence.

“Since the day this government has come, there have been 100 incidents of communal violence and in 27, either people lost their lives or got grievously injured,” Mr. Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in New Delhi. Mr. Singh said the UP Government was behind the communal tension in the area and stated that at the peak of communal frenzy when the Babri Masjid was demolished, there was not communal tension in Faizabad but now the town has witnessed fight between two communities. Hinting at collusion between BJP and SP, he said everybody knows that Ayodhya and Ram Temple is not an issue either for Hindus or Muslims any more as they are waiting for the court’s verdict.

The Aviation Minister wondered why the UP government deployed 8,000 policemen to stop Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ’84 Kosi Yatra but did nothing to contain the brewing tension in Muzaffarnagar though they had prior information about it. “The government also tried to make the suspension of IAS officer (Durga Sakthi Nagpal) a communal issue while it was a case of action against sand mafia. They (SP) know that they can’t win polls on development issue and now they want to contest elections on communal lines,” he added.

Relating the run up to the incident, he said tension started with harassment of a village girl and was fuelled by an online video clip and inflammatory messages by political leaders. “The people were agitated and they had no belief that police would take action. The political leaders started to take advantage of the situation by issuing inflammatory speeches. And those speeches were like non-bailable offence but police allowed them to continue. When we tried to go there to restore peace and harmony, they didn’t allow us,” he said.



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Muzaffarnagar riots: ‘I saw my wife and child killed’, tearful villager tells PM (Sep 16, 2013, NDTV)

Stories of tragedy and suffering followed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi everywhere, as they visited Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, torn apart by communal clashes in which 48 people have been killed. “I saw my wife and child butchered in front of me,” wept Jameel to the PM at a relief camp in Bassi Kalan. ‘They burnt down my house. There is nothing at all, no one to go home to.”

Several villagers driven out of their homes and living in relief camps shared similar stories, telling the top Congress leaders that it was impossible for them to even think of returning home. Sonia Gandhi was seen crossing the security barricades to talk to the women, while Rahul Gandhi leaned over to talk to villagers. Among them was 35-year-old Sajida, who told the Congress president that she and her eight members of her family were attacked by a mob at the village Kutbi.

Munni, her head bandaged heavily, said she would never go back to her village Paldi. “I can’t go back to a place where I saw my sister-in-law and brother-in-law murdered.” Many of the families said they wanted to return to their villages to get their belongings, and asked the PM for help. Dr Singh assured toughest action against those behind the riots and promised to do everything to make the villagers feel safe.

Hundreds of villagers have been displaced by the communal clashes that were triggered by the killing of three young men in village Kawal last month. A massive farmers’ meeting was called on September 7 to demand justice for two Jat brothers, who were lynched after they killed a Muslim man for stalking their sister. Farmers were attacked after that gathering, which sparked riots in several villages.



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Nearly 1,000 communal clashes in past 8 years (Sep 13, 2013, Times of India)

The Muzaffarnagar communal violence has again reminded the country of the incendiary danger of playing politics with religious beliefs. In the past eight years, there have been nearly a thousand communal incidents across the country. While the casualties are countable – 965 dead and over 18,000 injured – the toll on economic and social fabric is beyond any metric. More than half of these incidents took place in five states Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala. Usually Uttar Pradesh is considered to be the most susceptible to communal tensions but if incidents of communal violence and casualties are placed in the context of population of states, a different picture emerges.

The worst five states in India in terms of communal incidents per million population are Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala, in that order, over a period spanning from 2005 to the first quarter of 2013. Madhya Pradesh with 965 incidents between 2005 and 2013 (March) has the worst record of nearly 14 incidents for every million population. The countrywide average is about 5 incidents per million population. This is because in most parts of the country communal strife is negligible.

Uttar Pradesh, by this reckoning, has a count of about 5 incidents per million population, while its neighbor Bihar, once considered a hotspot of communal violence has just 2.8 incidents per million. Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Haryana and Punjab are the five best states with communal incidents at less than 2 per million population. Data for communal incidents was culled from answers given by the home minister to several Parliament questions.

Casualty figures for communal incidents, including both the number of persons killed and injured, are almost in direct correspondence to the number of incidents, barring a major exception, Uttar Pradesh. This state joins the ranks of worst five states in terms of casualties in communal violence with Kerala dropping much further down. Madhya Pradesh again leads with 36 casualties per million population. The all India average is just over 16. The five best states in terms of lowest casualties in communal violence are Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab. The first two have about 7 casualties per million, while the other three have less than 2 per million population.

Casualties reflect the extent and nature of violence in an incident. Muzaffarnagar, with 48 deaths and nearly a hundred injured is one of the worst incidents in recent years. The Gujarat killings in 2002 were by far the most extensive and brutal, with estimates of those killed varying between 1000 to 2000. Almost all leading political parties were ruling in different states in the period 2005 to 2013 for which this data pertains.



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2002 riots: Produce original registers that contained crucial records, HC tells govt (Sep 14, 2013, Indian Express)

The Gujarat High Court on Friday directed the state government to produce the original registers, from which some crucial intelligence records pertaining to the 2002 riots were destroyed by it. The court passed an order in this regard, while acting on an application of the state government, in which the latter has sought to modify or clarify an HC order passed in October last year, based on the Advocate General’s statement relating to the records, which was later found contrary to the facts. The order was passed by the court, on a petition moved by civil rights organisation People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, seeking directive for the state government to provide the documents.

The root of the matter is an application by Bhatt before Justices Nanavati-Mehta Commission that has been probing the 2002 post-Godhra riots. Bhatt had sought 47 documents from the state police to file a a detailed affidavit before the Commission regarding the alleged roles played by different government functionaries during the 2002 riots. However, the state government did not provide Bhatt access to those crucial documents. Ultimately, Bhatt had, along with PUCL, approached HC with a public interest litigation, seeking direction for the state government to produce those documents before the Commission.

The PIL was disposed of by the High Court on October 12 last year, after Advocate General Kamal Trivedi informed the court that the documents were not destroyed and that they would be produced before the Commission within seven days if not done so far. Subsequently, the state government made it clear before the Commission that nine out of the 47 documents sought by Bhatt had been destroyed in “routine course”. Deputy Inspector General (Intelligence) J K Bhatt filed an affidavit in this regard before the Commission. The state government had produced only 15 out of the 47 documents sought by Bhatt. While nine of them had been claimed to have been destroyed, many of them were claimed to be either being traced or not maintained or marked as confidential.

In November last year, the state government moved an application before the HC, seeking modification or clarification of the October order that was passed on the basis of the statement by the Advocate General. The state government has contended that the statement was made on account of bonafide mistake and due to some misunderstanding in communication. However, the application has been opposed by the PUCL and Bhatt. One of their counsels, Anand Yagnik, said that the state government’s stand was quite contrary to its own circulars to maintain records related to communal riots.

The documents were allegedly destroyed in “routine course”, despite the fact that the Commission appointed by the government was looking into the matter. Yagnik has also alleged interpolation with the government records. On Friday, a division bench of HC, led by Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya, directed the state government to produce the original registers from which the records were torn off. The court has fixed the date for further hearing on September 17.



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PM Candidate Narendra Modi’s misleading claim exposed (Sep 16, 2013, Twocircles.net)

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been anointed as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, in his very first public address after elevation at Rewari in Haryana on September 15 has lied openly to impress upon his audience who mainly comprised of ex-servicemen and their families. A website christened as www.truthofgujarat.com has displayed a write-up of Pratik Sinha who has exposed Narendra Modi’s claim of taking piped water to soldiers near the Kutch Indo-Pak Border wherein in the past water was transported on camel backs for which around 800 camels were reserved for the purpose. The link of the write-up is as follows: http://www.truthofgujarat.com/pm-candidate-modis-bluff-envisioned-implem…? It is headlined as “PM Candidate Modi’s Bluff: He envisioned and implemented the Kutch Drinking Water Pipeline”

It may be mentioned here that Kutch finally got Narmada water on 18 May 2003. Speaking on this occasion on the day when water reached Rapar in Kutch District, Modi had in fact thanked the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for initiating the entire drinking water pipeline project for Kutch in 1985 and for sending a technical team for surveying the region. Rs.600 crores which had been expended for the Kutch drinking water project was given by the Asian Development Bank for the 2001 Earth Quake Rehabilitation project of Kutch which was later diverted to the drinking water project. Thus, the drinking water project that reached Kutch district was envisaged, designed, funded and promoted much before Modi had become the Chief Minister and he merely inaugurated the project in 2002. The pipeline drinking water reached the Indo-Pak Border on 16th August, 2013 and that too intermittently and the distance between Rapar in Kutch and the Indo-Pak border is around 100kms. This part of the drinking water pipeline was also a part of the Rapar project but it took ten long years for such a small stretch of pipeline to be laid.

Modi, however, twisted the story entirely, grabs all the credit for the Kutch pipeline project for which he had no role to play and highlighted the stretch of pipeline from Rapar to Indo-Pak Border which ought to have been completed by 2004 but was actually completed in 2013. The write-up of Pratik Sinha on the website states as under: “In his first speech after his announcement as the PM candidate, Modi addressed a huge crowd at Rewari on September 15, 2013, and the speech was more like that of a RSS Pracharak than a man who wants to contest as a PM of the world’s largest democracy. We deal with just one of his misleading claims regarding his role in taking water to soldiers near the Kutch Indo-Pak Border. … The claim he makes is that because of his love and respect for the army men and due to his emotional attachment with them, he had himself ensured the laying down of the 700 km pipeline to bring water of Narmada to the Indo-Pak Border. The reality is completely otherwise since the Kutch drinking water pipeline is part of a much bigger project called Sardar Sarovar Canal and Mahi Pipeline based drinking water supply plan which was in works as far back as 1999 when Modi was not even in contention to be Gujarat’s CM.

Back in March 1999, Babagouda Patil, Minister of Rural Areas and Employment in Vajpayee Government, responded to a query in the Rajya Sabha as follows: As per information made available by Ministry of Water Resources, the ‘Sardar Sarovar Canal and Mahi Pipeline based drinking water supply plan’ has been prepared for sustainable drinking water source for Saurashtra, Kutch, North Gujarat including Panchmahal districts with an approximate cost of Rs.4,700 crores. Extensive work of recharge and water harvesting structures has also been taken up to solve the drinking water problem of Kutch District. On April 01, 2001 in an article titled “Narmada waters reach Gujarat villages”, Keshubhai Patel, then CM of Gujarat stated: The Narmada waters have reached 1,467 villages and 29 cities of six districts of Gujarat following completion of work on Mahi pipeline at a cost of Rs.880 crores …

Thus, the drinking water project that reached Kutch district was envisaged, designed, funded and promoted much before Modi had become the Chief Minister and he merely inaugurated the project in 2002. The pipeline drinking water reached the Indo-Pak Border on 16th August, 2013 and that too intermittently and the distance between Rapar in Kutch and the Indo-Pak border is around 100kms. This part of the drinking water pipeline was also a part of the Rapar project but it took ten long years for such a small stretch of pipeline to be laid. Modi however twists the story entirely, grabs all the credit for the Kutch pipeline project for which he had no role to play and highlighted the stretch of pipeline from Rapar to Indo-Pak Border which ought to have been completed by 2004 but was actually completed in 2013. This is the emotional bluff that Modi continues to play throughout his speech and we shall deal with each and every bluff of his in our future posts. Mr. Modi please don’t lie to fool our army men”, the write-up stated.



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Sreekumar tells STF to probe revelations made by Vanzara (Sep 12, 2013, Indian Express)

Retired director general of police R B Sreekumar has written to the Supreme Court-appointed Justice H S Bedi’s special task force, urging for a probe into the revelations made by suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara in his resignation letter. Vanzara has blamed former Home minister Amit Shah for the plight of 32 police officers who are in jail in connection with various fake encounter cases. The STF is investigating 16 such cases in the state. Sreekumar, who has marked a copy of the letter to the CBI director, has added that the repeated ‘breach of trust’ alleged by Vanzara in his resignation letter prompts a probe into what the “trust” actually was between Narendra Modi-led state government and Vanzara.

Sreekumar’s letter says, “Vanzara has written that he and his officers are ‘loyal soldiers of this (Gujarat) government… (who) fought incessant war against Pakistan inspired terrorism’. Vanzara should be asked to provide data on specific actions, operations, and projects launched by his team as part of counter-terrorist campaigns and the net result of multifarious police endeavors against terrorism.” Sreekumar adds that Vanzara should be asked whether these ‘operations’ were carried out as per the procedure of law? According to the letter, Vanzara claimed, he felt betrayed that the state government did not help jailed police officers. What kind of help was the government supposed to offer and didn’t Vanzara know that such an act by persons or administration would be treated as punishable under the Indian Penal Code, Sreekumar has asked in his letter.

He has raised some pertinent questions regarding Shah. “The CBI and STF must probe what were the political intrigues, machinations and manoeuvrings of Shah in Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram encounter cases for getting the trials transferred out of Gujarat? What are the specific acts of Shah in completely mismanaging a sensitive department like police and what are the instances where Shah has played the divide and rule politics to use Gujarat Police officers and then throw them?”

Sreekumar has asked: “Does the extra judicial confession by Vanzara that police officers performed their duties in compliance with the conscious policy of this government indicate that fake encounters were planned, organised, and perpetrated on innocent persons in pursuit of state government’s policy of organising extra judicial killings?…I have also requested the CBI to record Vanzara’s statements under Section 164 of the CrPc and get all details on how intelligence inputs were arrived at, under which political bosses the encounters were carried out and what was the cover up after the arrests of the cops in these encounter cases.” The officer has also requested the STF to summon Modi, Shah, chief secretaries of relevant period and those incharge of state Home department, former DGP K Chakravarti, A K Bhargava and P C Pande, former ADGP (Intelligence) J Mahapatra and former Ahmedabad police commissioner K R Kaushik.



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8 A’bad ’08 blasts accused complain of torture (Sep 13, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Eight inmates of Sabarmati jail have complained of harassment and one of them has even accused the jail staff of beating him up along with some undertrial prisoners. “During the hearing of the serial blast case on Wednesday, four of the accused gave a statement before additional principal sessions judge Jyotsna Yagnik and described the incident that occurred on September 3. Court has directed them to lodge a complaint with the jail superintendent,” said IM Munshi, counsel for the accused.

A series of bomb blasts had rocked Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008, killing 57 people. The trial is being conducted via video conferencing so as to avoid transportation of as many as 74 accused in the case. “We had demanded that the court direct the jail authorities about the incident and the attack on one of the accused. The court, however, has observed that a complaint has to be registered with the jail superintendent and Ranip police station. The complaint will be heard once it reaches court,” Munshi added.

Those who have complained include Iqbal Kasam Shaikh, Hafiz Mulla alias Adnan, Nadeem Saiyed and Ansar. While giving his statement to the court, Saiyed also said that he was hit on the cheek which forced him to go for treatment in the jail.



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Five arrested for forcing people to sing Ram Dhun (Sep 11, 2013, Times of India)

Five persons have been arrested for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of four members of minority community who were forced to sing Ram Dhun after being thrashed and verbally abused on April 5 this year. The accused shot a video on mobile phone of the victims singing the Ram Dhun that surfaced a few days back. They were granted bail by a local court on Wednesday. Those arrested are Sajan Bharvad of Jalalpor in Navsari, Gabhru Bharvad and Mehul Bharvad of Gopal Nagar in Sachin area of Surat, Tarang Shah of Mahuar Maroli Bazaar and Raju Soni of Lunsikui in Navsari. The accused were remanded to police custody for a day on Tuesday. Sources said that the accused are associated with saffron outfits.

Since the victims refused to lodge a police compliant, the cops became the complainant in the case. The victims work at a slaughter house in Navsari and belong to Dabhel village of Navsari. Investigations have revealed that the accused stopped a truck carrying cattle near Maroli town of Navsari district on April 5, 2013. They rounded up the four youths travelling in the truck and took them to Jalalpor police station in a SUV. “While on the way to the police station, they tortured the victims and forced them to sing Ram Dhun,” said Hasmukh Patel, deputy inspector general (DIG) of police at Surat. The accused were identified from the video clip and on the basis of the statements of the victims.

Dabhel village has been in news for various controversies. Officials of a nationalized bank were compelled to remove a religious symbol from its signboard six years ago. A village committee had issued a fatwa against two families for keeping cattle without having their own land in February 2009. The matter was raised by TOI and the rights of families from the minority community were protected after police intervention. Cases of cow slaughter were also registered against slaughter houses operating in the village in 2009.



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‘Asaram’s followers threatening girl’s family to withdraw case’ (Sep 16, 2013, Indian Express)

Counsel for the girl, who was allegedly sexually exploited by Asaram Bapu, on Monday claimed to have received threats from followers of the self-styled godman.

Lawyer of the victim, Manish Vyas, claimed that the threat was issued to a friend of the victim’s father asking him to withdraw the statements of her daughter against Asaram.

Referring to an audio clip, Vyas said the girl and her family continue to receive threats from Asaram’s followers. “I have urged the police to ensure adequate security to the family,” Vyas said.



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‘They gang-raped my daughters in front of my eyes’; Muzaffarnagar riots victims too afraid to report to police (Sep 16, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Rape and sexual assaults are the usual phenomenon in almost all cases of communal clashes, and the recent violence in Muzaffarnagar and its surrounding areas were no exceptions. Scores of women, including minor girls, were raped, gang-raped and sexually assaulted in Lisarh, Lank, Bahawadi, Hasanpur, Mohammadpur, Baghpat and many other small villages of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Panipat districts of Uttar Pradesh. The rape took place when the people were leaving their villages to save their lives and honour, say victims. Thousands of people, who moved out of their native places fearing for their lives, feel safe and secure in Kairana, Kandhala and other small towns. They refuse to return to their heartland in despair as they fear more violence and threat to their life. Daily Bhaskar reporters visited the relief camp organised by local residents in Kairana and Kandhala where they were shocked to learn that women, including young girls, were held captive for days.

They were allegedly gang-raped by the people belonging to the Jat community who attacked on their houses and threatened them to leave the village or face dire consequences. A mother of three girls says, “Four women of my family, including my three daughters (age 17, 18 and 21 years), were held captive by 10-13 rioters and gang-raped in front of me. I was forced to see the shameful and brutal act.” “Two of my daughters have been released and the other two are still missing”, she says. The daughters were not the sole victims. Scores of other women were assaulted, raped, killed and burned to death by the barbarians who were once their neighbours. Another sixteen-year-old was also became a victim of rape and sexual assault by the same rioters. She said that she was held captive for about 2 hours when she was trying to flee the village after rumour spread that they were about to be attacked by people belonging to other community. The assaulters abducted her and raped her as she was fleeing her home. The attackers fled the spot when security forces arrived.

Asked if she could recall the name or face of anyone of the attackers, the girl says that one of the attackers was Rajendra, son of Hari Kishan – main leader of Khap Panchayat of the Jat community. She even remembers the horrific words uttered by the assaulters, “Soni soni ladkiyon ke sindur bhar denge, aur bakiyon ko kaat denge (we will marry the beautiful ones and cut into pieces the others).” Another 25-year old victim of sexual assault, from Lisarh village, claimed that she was gang-raped by 5-7 men on the night of September 8- the day after a Khap Mahapanchayat was held at Nagla Mandaur on September 7. She identifies two of her assaulters as Subhash, son of Ilamnd and Ankit, son of Daria. She alleges that the head of her village, Ajit was behind the entire tragedy. He ensured them security and asked them not to leave the village. But as the night descended, he asked his men to attack them.

Helpless and tormented they ran to police for protection. “Police thane wale ne kaha ki hum to apne ki sahayta karenge, tum Musalmano ki nahi (We will only save and help our people (Jat and Hindus), not you Muslims),” she revealed. Surprisingly, Shamli District DIG (law and order) Raghubir Lal told Daily Bhaskar that they are running short of policemen. “We don’t have sufficient number of officers and constables to tackle a clash of this nature,” he said. The DIG’s comment raised further questions over the security preparedness of the state to handle volatile situations. The story is same for over 1.25 lakh victims lodged in various relief camps in different district of Western Uttar Pradesh.

The anger against the state administration to control the riots and sheer negligence of the government has left the victims seething with anger. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was shown black flags when he visited the riot-affected villages of Kawal and relief camp in Kandhla on Sunday. The angry people shouted against the UP chief minister and complained that Uttar Pradesh is on the verge of being permanently divided on communal lines, if stern action is not taken against the men who incited the carnage.



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Opinions and Editorials

Bloodied road to Delhi – By Sidharth Bhatia (Sep 16, 2013, Deccan Chronicle)

The imagery of a sad, old man who has been betrayed by his protégé and is now, in the winter of his life, nursing his wounds forgotten and discarded is a compelling one. One feels sorry for this humiliation at the fag end of a man’s life, that too a man who did so much and so selflessly to build up his organisation; to be now discarded and told that he is just not wanted anymore must hurt. But, for all those who lived through the terrible days of the rath yatra in 1990 and saw the chain of violence throughout the country, it is difficult to feel sorry for L.K. Advani. To those who may have not been born or have short memories or worse, convenient memories that have no room for unpleasant truths, one can only say – go back and read your history. You don’t have to dig into books or access newspaper archives. The Internet has sufficient resources that will tell you the whole gruesome saga of a planned campaign to polarise the country on the basis of religion for political gains.

As Advani’s rath yatra wended its way through the land, it left behind death and destruction in its wake. Everywhere he went, there were riots and mayhem. The fervour that was built up inevitably led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid two years later, a seminal moment in India’s history. Advani called the yatra “an exhilarating period in my life.” The Bharatiya Janata Party upped its parliamentary numbers from 85 to 120 in the next elections and eight years later, came to power. Political pundits therefore call Advani as the “man who built up the BJP.” That the architect of that bloody strategy is now considered an avuncular and inclusive figure, much more preferable to his protégé Narendra Modi is one of those great ironies of this nation, which seems to be determined to ignore its own history. What has happened in the BJP is nothing but a churning, as old gives way to the new; Advani was given two chances but he muffed them.

His colleagues are therefore telling him that his days are over and a younger, more vigorous and even more clear-eyed leader needs to take over. The programme has not changed, only the personalities. Which is also why it is difficult to be enthused by Modi, much as his rabid fan club tries to tell us that he is now all about economic development. The media has gone berserk over Modi’s “anointment” and in all the coverage in the newspapers and on television there is no mention of the brutality of the pogrom of 2002 that happened under his watch. Over the last few years, the national conversation – which is really for and by the middle class – has moved towards “economic growth” to the complete disregard of any other issue. Modi and his advisers, to say nothing of his backers, have figured out that as long as the narrative of him as a no-nonsense man who can cut through the red tape and promote industrialisation is kept centrestage, people will gradually forget about what happened all those years ago, when hundreds of people were brutally killed.

And that is exactly how it has played out. (That even the growth argument is open to challenge is another matter.) In a country now obsessed with “Breaking News” rather than perspective, who recalls or cares about the events of 2002? But we cannot forget. Real people are involved here. Their lives were destroyed and even today the survivors live in abject conditions. Justice is far away and though some perpetrators (such as Maya Kodnani, rewarded with a ministership) have been convicted, others have not been brought to book. Those who bring up such inconvenient truths can be shouted down on television channels and bombarded with abusive tweets, but this is a reality that will not disappear. Nor is this just an obsession with a few NGOs, as smooth talking “independent” pundits sometimes say in panel discussions. Who knows what the voters are thinking? Much coverage has been devoted to the political implications of Modi’s nomination. Words like polarisation, votebanks, allies are being thrown about. The many failures of the United Progressive Alliance and the relative merits of BJP state governments are discussed and numbers calculated.

It is as if politics operates in a social vacuum, where people and their lives don’t matter; they are just voters who are to be manipulated in any which way, even if sometimes the methods are a bit bloody. But just like the road to Delhi was paved with the corpses of many innocent victims, this time, too, any success will be built on the one of the worst communal killings in independent India’s history. You may choose to ignore any reference to Gujarat 2002, you may rationalise it by saying that economic development trumps everything else, you may even claim that Modi is a changed man, who genuinely feels pain even at the accidental death of a “kutte ka pilla” and, therefore, deserves a chance. Perhaps, given the vagaries of the Indian electoral system, he may even get a chance. After all, there is no denying that millions of people, including young, highly educated, aspirational and globalised Indians do support him. That momentum may see him reach New Delhi in the next few months. Yet, we cannot feel sorry for Advani for his predicament and we cannot feel joy at the prospect of his one-time protégé becoming the Prime Minister of India.



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The Moral of Vanzara’s letter – By N Bhanutej (Sep 14, 2013, EPW)

The cacophony over the anointment of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is drowning out a very important letter by one of his police officers that exposes all the cogs in an authoritarian machine. On September 3 this year, a document came into public view. It was a letter, all of ten pages, dated September 1, written by an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS), addressed to a top civil servant, copied to the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, counter-signed by a witness and sent from jail.

The author of this “letter bomb” (as the media chose to describe it), D G Vanzara, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, had served as deputy commissioner of police and additional commissioner of police (Crime Branch) in Ahmedabad City, deputy inspector-general (Anti-Terrorist Squad) in Ahmedabad and DIG Border Range (Kutch-Bhuj) between the years 2002 and 2007. During this period, he was the most high-profile police officer in Gujarat who led the state’s fight against “jihadi terrorism”. He was credited with pre-empting several acts of terror and neutralising many “terrorists” in “encounters”. The letter was, in fact, his resignation after 33 years in the police service, the last seven of which he had spent in jail and under suspension.

Vanzara was arrested along with two other IPS officers on April 24, 2007. The CID (Crime), Gujarat, named him as an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh “encounter case”. Even while Vanzara was in prison (having been refused bail), he was “arrested” again on July 7, 2010, in the Tulasiram Prajapathi encounter case. Two more “encounter cases”, those of Ishrat Jahan and Sadiq Jamal, were opened – this time by the CBI – both of which saw Vanzara figuring as one of the top accused.

Vanzara’s letter – which holds the Gujarat government directly responsible for the encounters – has however belied the media’s expectations of becoming a “bomb”. It went bust in the cacophony of headlines ranging from the rupee’s fall, the country-wide jubilation over death penalty to the Delhi rapists, and most notably, the naming of Narendra Modi as BJP’s “prime ministerial” candidate. Less-known spokespersons of political parties and commentators slugged it out, briefly, while the stalwarts – who are known to rant at prime-time over trivial issues – went missing.

Clearly, there was no sign of a nation experiencing a revelation – from the horse’s mouth so to say – that the man being projected as the next prime minister of the country, subverted law, divided communities and built his image and that of Gujarat by presiding over a murderous police-state. The Gujarat government’s acknowledgement of the letter came only in the form of a formal rejection of Vanzara’s resignation. Even the CBI said that the letter had no value as Vanzara had not provided evidence to back his claims. However, what seems important is not whether Vanzara has backed his charges with evidence (unearthing which is the investigative agency’s job), but simply that Vanzara spoke out. He “sang”, mafia-style. …



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Who let Muzaffarnagar burn? – Editorial (Sep 11, 2013, DNA India)

The outbreak of large-scale communal violence in Muzaffarnagar was preceded by the failure of the administration to act decisively. The SP must make amends. It is difficult to believe that the senseless communal violence that has engulfed Muzaffarnagar district was a spontaneous reaction to the lynching of two young men belonging to the Jat community by a group of Muslims. While the circumstances surrounding this isolated incident in which a Muslim youth was also killed are yet to be conclusively identified, the district and state administration have much to answer for.

The incident happened on August 27 and there were indications for several days that a volatile situation was building up. The discontent stemmed from a perception, true or otherwise, that the police were favouring the minority community. The Samajwadi Party which counts on Muslims as its prized votebank and touts itself as the protector of the community’s interests only helped to further this perception. In the run-up to the September 7 mahapanchayat, sporadic incidents of violence and incitement to violence were being reported. On September 5, the BJP also jumped into the communal cesspool by calling a bandh. That the district administration was well-aware that the mahapanchayat was a precursor to mayhem is evident from its decision to issue prohibitory orders. Why then was the mahapanchayat allowed to take place?

This has made it difficult to disbelieve suggestions that a conspiracy was plotted to fan communal passions through inflammatory speeches at the mahapanchayat. Worryingly, the spiral of violence led by organised mobs roaming the countryside and targetting vulnerable people, mostly Muslims, has now spread to the neighbouring districts too. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s young age, his freshness and his promise of a break with the past was touted to the hilt by an indulgent media when he stormed to power last year. Sadly, the state has seen over 40 minor and major incidents of communal violence since then.

For UP, which looked to have put its troubled history of communal violence behind it during Mayawati’s rule, Akhilesh’s inability to deliver on most fronts is worrisome. Further undermining the office and prestige of the Chief Minister and his government is his doting father Mulayam Singh and the SP’s Muslim face Azam Khan. Media reports claim that top officials are directly reporting to Mulayam on the developments and that Khan has blamed his own administration for the mishandling of the situation. The SP and BJP have been accusing each other of minority and majority communalism respectively. Conversely, the Congress and the BSP claim that the SP and the BJP have much to gain by polarising UP.

The VHP’s aborted march to Ayodhya and the SP’s machinations against Durga Shakti Nagpal on the ground of endangering communal harmony were cynical attempts at stoking trouble where none existed. The incidence and absence of communal violence in India has been found to have a directly proportionate link with the complicity or tolerance of the state government and its officials. Akhilesh’s predecessor Mayawati is belatedly getting credit for her no-nonsense approach to law and order that ensured no communal rioting occurred. Now, 41 lives have been lost and several thousand victims have fled their homes. The SP must make amends. If not, demands for President’s Rule will grow louder.



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UP: Recent Incidents Of Communal Violence Under SP Rule – By Virendra Nath Bhatt (Sep 11, 2013, Tehelka)

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav admitted in March 2013 that as many as 27 incidents of communal violence had occurred since the Samajwadi Party (SP) came to power in the state. The UP government has constituted enquiry committees headed by IAS and IPS officers to investigate the cases. Home Department sources claimed that most of the reports had been submitted to the state government. After every incident, the CM announced that the guilty wouldn’t be spared and that district magistrates and superintendents of police would be held responsible. However, no action has so far been initiated against any of the bureaucrats who were transferred after the incidents of communal violence.

“The UP government isn’t doing anything new. This country is running on the time-tested system where no action is taken. Committees and commissions are appointed, which ultimately helps the culprits and the officers guilty of the outbreak of communal violence,” said JS Ghungesh, retired Director General of Police (DGP), Uttar Pradesh. Retired DGP of UP, KL Gupta said, “Announcement of probes, be it judicial or by a senior government official; inquiries; transfers and suspension of the officials after the communal violence are only a fire-fighting measure to calm down the inflamed passions of people in riot-affected areas. The government knows that people’s memory is short, so as soon as the dust settles downs after the riot, it’s business as usual for government officials and the people. The withdrawal of the criminal cases registered during the communal riots without seeking the opinion of the district administration and the police is the most disturbing trend in UP. Cases are often withdrawn under votebank compulsions of the ruling party.” Below are some of the major communal riots that occurred during the SP regime:

FAIZABAD, OCTOBER 2012: The simultaneous riots in five towns of Faizabad district were the most disgraceful as this district had remained free from violence even during the Ram temple movement and the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992. On 28 September 2012, idols of Durga were stolen from a local temple, after which people formed a committee to spearhead the agitation against the district police. Soon the BJP took over the movement and the party MP from Gorakhpur, Mahant Adityanath visited the city. On 22 October, the day of the immersion of Durga idols following Durga Puja, the district was rocked by communal violence. Shops were looted and torched in the main market of Faizabad, Rudauli, Sohawal, Bhadarsa and Harringtonganj. Next day the Ramlila pandaal was torched in Faizabad city. The charge of discrimination on communal lines was levelled against the district administration. The government, as usual, transferred the DM and SSP and offered compensation to shopkeepers whose shops were looted and burnt. Cases were filed and arrests were made, but nothing has come out of it.

GHAZIABAD, SEPTEMBER 2012: Seven Muslim youth were shot dead by the police after an unruly mob attacked the Masuri police station in Ghaziabad. The mob was protesting against the alleged desecration of the Koran after the torn pages of the book were recovered from near a railway track. The local people wanted the police to take action, but the police ignored the demand, which infuriated them. Following the incident, the government announced compensation for the families of the dead.

BAREILLY, JULY 2012: Communal riots occurred in Bareilly on the first day of fasting during the holy month of Ramzaan on 22 July. Three perople were killed in the riots that started when some Muslims objected to the loud music played by kanwariyas in front of the mosque where they were offering prayers after the day-long fast. The police was taken off guard as the clashes broke out simultaneously at ten places in Bareilly city. Curfew was imposed in almost the entire city and lasted for over two weeks. Even as the city was limping back to normalcy, the police permitted a religious procession of the Hindu community, which was attacked and fired upon. The situation worsened again and it took over a month to restore normalcy in the city. Over 100 people were arrested, but they were later bailed out. The district police has no information about the number of cases in which chargesheets were filed in courts. …



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Rapists And Mass Rape Instigators: India’s Dastardly Double Standards – By N. Jayaram (Sep 15, 2013, Countercurrents)

None but the most myopic or Hindu chauvinists could have failed to note the supreme irony in the two major events that took place in New Delhi on Friday, 13 September 2013: the sentencing to death of four men for the rape and murder of a woman on 16 December 2012 and the anointing as prime ministerial candidate of the man who is accused of orchestrating mass rapes and massacres of Muslims in Gujarat in February 2002. While sentencing the four, Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna defended the application of the Supreme Court’s “rarest of rare” test as set out in Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab (1983), by saying it “largely depends on the perception of society”. In other words the judge was saying courts would be swayed by public opinion. Incidentally, in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh, the same day, Special Judge Devendra Singh sentenced three people to death finding them guilty of setting fire to a bus in 2011 in which 15 people were killed. There are said to be 477 people on death row as of now. That is how rare the application of the death penalty has been.

The sentencing came a day ahead of the eighth anniversary, so to speak, of the last time a man was executed in India for rape and murder – Dhananjoy Chatterjee. Following his hanging on 14 August 2004, there was a hiatus until 21 November 2012 when the Pakistani militant Ajmal Kasab was executed for his role in the 2008 attacks in Bombay in which more than 160 people were killed. On 9 February 2013 Afzal Guru, the Kashmiri who was convicted of the 2001 Parliament attack, was executed. The highly dubious trial and appeal process in the Afzal Guru case has been rightly condemned. In its order the Supreme Court of India said “the collective conscience of the society will be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender”. That collective conscience was invoked by Judge Khanna too: “The subjecting of the prosecutrix to inhuman acts of torture before her death had not only shocked the collective conscience, but calls for the withdrawal of the protective arm of the community around the convicts.”

Indian collective conscience, however, tends to remain relatively unperturbed when men, including members of the armed forces, the paramilitaries and the police, rape women from Dalit, Muslim, Adivasi, Christian and Northeast Indian communities. As recently as on 24 August 2013, a 20-year-old Dalit woman was raped and murdered. After agitations led by the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, a special investigation was ordered but it seems to be getting nowhere. Meanwhile, self-styled guru Asaram Bapu, 72, who was taken into custody after widespread campaigns over allegations that he had raped a 16-year-old girl in his Jodhpur ashram recently, has moved for bail. Indian soldiers who gang-raped at least 53 women at Kunan Poshpura, Kashmir, in February 1991 have not stood trial. In fact the Indian state is in denial on that incident and civil society has mostly gone along with the official stance. Soni Sori, an Adivasi school teacher in Chattisgarh, was allegedly tortured and sexually abused in 2011. The police officer who oversaw her ill-treatment received a “gallantry award”. In August 2008, Hindu fanatics targeted Christians in Orissa after the killing of a Hindu leader. Scores of people were killed and a number of women subject to sexual assaults. The state government has not bothered to address the grievances of the survivors.

Large-scale rapes and killings by Indian armed forces in Manipur have gone unnoticed by courts of law despite the fact that two panels headed by noted judges – Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy and Justice Santosh Hegde – have looked into the massive human rights violations taking place in the state and recommended scrapping of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The Justice J.S. Verma Committee which was constituted in the wake of the December 16 incident also recommended review of the Act. These examples are but a mere tiny sample of the horrendous and daily instances of atrocities against women, not to speak of children and men too, taking place in India. What of the man anointed as prime ministerial candidate by the Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party? A number of human rights activists and NGOs have documented details of the anti-Muslim pogrom unleashed under Modi’s chief ministership in Gujarat in 2002. Just one quote from one of those reports might suffice to hint at the horror of those days: ‘Community leaders, NGO activists and journalists report an increase in their own fear and insecurity about being targeted next. In many villages women activists are being told, “We know where you live, we know you go to the field alone, what happened to the Muslim women can also happen to you.”‘

Even a television personality of perhaps a similar caste-class background as Modi’s, namely Karan Thapar, failed to draw him out as regards the 2002 events. When the questions got uncomfortable for Modi, he simply took off his mike and left. Modi’s cowardly exit from the interview is, to say the least, an embarrassing spectacle of the ability of a man who would be prime minister to handle pressures. Gujarat 2002 was hardly the first of India’s pogroms and mass rape incidents. In 1984, following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards, there were many more killings and rapes. Some of the main organisers – Jagdish Tytler, Kamal Nath and Sajjan Kumar – have yet to face justice. Some of the vitriol dispensed by upper caste Hindus since the 13 September verdict in the case of the 16 December 2012 gang rape makes for depressing reading. It is highly likely that there is a close correlation between those favouring the death penalty for the Delhi rape-cum-murder convicts and the supporters of Modi’s anointment as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. …



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Reminder Of Unfreedom On Independence Day: Atrocity On Dalits In Bihar – Fact Finding Report (Aug 21, 2013, Countercurrents)

For Dalits in India, freedom is still a far cry. The atrocity perpetrated on Dalits in a Bihar dalit hamlet on Independence Day this year brings home this stark reality. A Fact-finding Report by a CPI(ML) team comprising All India Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh and Arun Singh, former MLA from the Karakat assembly constituency, follows. Baddi village, in Shivsagar block of Rohtas district, about 15 kilometres from Sasaram, has about 80 Mahadalit (Ravidas) homes, and 100 Rajput homes. A pucca road leads to the village, one fork towards the dalit tola (hamlet) and one towards the Rajput tola. Near the dalit tola, on the roadside, is a two-storey temple dedicated to Sant Ravidas, after whom the community is named. In June this year, an idol of Ravidas was installed in the temple; before this, the Dalits used to worship a photograph. The Dalits had collected Rs 1.5 lakh to install a marble idol instead. The Sant Ravidas temple is, undoubtedly, a symbol of the Dalit community and its sense of identity.

The Ravidas temple standing at such a prominent place in the village was resented by the powerful upper castes in the village. For quite a while, they had been trying to wrest control of the 6 dismil of gair mazarua land on which the temple stood. And the pretext for doing so was that they sought to replace the Ravidas temple and idol with one of the freedom movement martyr Nishan Singh. Nishan Singh, a Rajput landowner of the same village, had been active in the 1857 First War of Independence and had been executed by the British. When Nishan Singh’s descendants had sought to install his statue on the same piece of land where the Ravidas temple stood, the Dalits had argued that these descendants already owned quite a bit of land, while the Dalits could only use gair mazarua public land. There was another plot of 3 dismils of land at a short distance that was available for a statue of the freedom fighter. Why distort and diminish the stature of the freedom fighter and martyr to that of a symbol of anti-Dalit feudal dominance, by pitting his statue against the temple of the Dalit saint?

A couple of days before 15th August, the Dalit villagers had informed the Baddi police outpost and the SP too, of the impending attempts to forcibly grab the land on which the temple stood, on the pretext of installing a statue of Nishan Singh. It was the practice, at 8 am on Independence Day every year, for the Dalits to hoist the tricolour flag at the flagpole near the temple. This year, the Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had ordered that the tricolor be hoisted officially in all Mahadalit tolas, and so the Baddi Dalits were expected to wait for the BDO to hoist the flag. The BDO had told the Dalits that he would come at 10 am. At 8 am, however, the Rajputs came, and on the pretext of hoisting the national flag, began digging to install the statue of Nishan Singh. The Dalits spotted this, and gathered to protest, realizing that if the statue were installed there, it would mean the loss of their control over the plot of land and the temple. They informed the police, and the digging stopped.

The Rajputs went to the police outpost, and sat there for some time. Then, clearly with the blessings of the local police, they returned at around 9 am, armed to the teeth, to attack the Dalit tola and temple with firearms and iron rods. Vilas Ram was dragged off, badly beaten, and shot dead. Women, children, and elderly folk were brutally thrashed with iron rods. A seven-year-old boy was flung from the roof of the temple. The heavy iron gate to the Ravidas temple was broken, the temple set on fire, and the hand of the idol broken. Two Dalit homes were burnt down, with all their belongings. Two teenage schoolgirls were being dragged off by the assailants, but their schoolteachers intervened to rescue them. The water pump and solar light were vandalized.

The SP had been called when the attack began, and he arrived at Baddi one and a half hours after the attack began. His arrival averted an even bigger massacre. However, there has been an obvious attempt to cover up the atrocity, and the collusion of the local police outpost with the assailants. The BDO had the idol and various blood stains cleaned up, thereby destroying important evidence.Around 40 people were injured badly enough to require hospitalization; some of them were taken to hospital in Sasaram, and 12 of them who were seriously injured were admitted in the PMCH at Patna. One person died in the attack. The deceased was identified as Vilas Ram…



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Book Review

Religious Division and Social Conflict: The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in Rural India

Author: Peggy Froerer
Reviewed by: Khan Yasir
Available at: Social Science Press, 1/24, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi – 100 002, Pages: 296 + xx, Price: Rs 295.http://www.amazon.com/
Religious Division and Social Conflict: The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in Rural India (Sep 16, 2013, Twocircles.net)

In 1948, RSS stood disgraced and banned in the wake of the ignominious assassination of Gandhiji. The ban was lifted soon enough but the organisation remained socially ostracised for a long time. The RSS, however, left no stone unturned to spread its tentacles across the length and breadth of India, though with meagre success. Even its political wing Jan Sangh and later BJP failed rather miserably in gaining momentum. In 1984, BJP got two seats.But since then the communal force enjoyed an unforeseen and unpredictable legitimacy especially in urban areas and returned with the figures of 88, 120, 161, 182 and again 182, in the national elections of 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999 respectively. BJP tasted government at the centre for 13 days in 1996 and then 13 months in 1998. It realised that it cannot gain enough votes and seats to form a government on its own.

It did form a stable government (later in 1999) but only with support of a dozen of allies under the banner of NDA. In this alliance BJP was the core party, yet it had to concede communal demands – like building of Ram temple at Ayodhya, making a uniform civil code and repealing of the Article 370, etc. – to the pragmatic concerns of the ruling. RSS realised, sooner than later, that depending on the upper caste votes based in urban areas will not be enough. Need for penetration in rural areas was recognised and concrete steps were planned and taken in this direction.

It is for this reason, argues Peggy Froerer in her Religious Division and Social Conflict, that “Mitigating the ‘backwardness’ of India’s adivasi communities is one of the objectives that has recently figured in the agenda of RSS” (p. 3). This was not the first diagnosis of this phenomenon which, even, earlier has been identified by scholars; for example by T.B. Hansen who referred to this as Vernacularisation of Hindutva. In the following study: How these efforts were made? How far they succeeded? What are the factors responsible for the respective successes and failures of these attempts? These questions, as most of us recognise, are of pivotal interest to understand the dynamics of politics in India.

Religious Division and Social Conflict is a research-based account of the emergence of Hindutva or what the author calls ‘Hindu nationalism’ in a tribal community in Chhattisgarh. The method implied in the research for the in-depth analysis of the field is ethnography. Ethnography is a qualitative research design. In an era of Twenty-20 kind of research with haphazard and often incongruous statistical approaches, ethnography stands out as a Test Match. It is a patient researcher’s domain and his quest for meaning, in the culture of the people amidst whom he is spending his years of study (fieldwork). It tries to observe phenomenon from the perspective of the people on whom the research is based and not from the biased point of view of the researcher. Though bias, invariably, plays a fairly important role in such a study and so ethnographic studies need to be considered with caution. In this study the ethnographic approach is applied to gain a wider understanding of the process by which Hindu nationalist ideology is successfully transmitted in rural adivasi areas. Froerer’s main aim is to examine the role of what Paul Brass refers to as ‘conversion specialists’ i.e. those RSS activists who serve as the primary facilitators in this process.

The study is based on a village in Chhattisgarh, namely Mohanpur. The fieldwork for research was conducted for 22 months between October 1997 and August 1999. Mohanpur is a typical village which is relatively cut off from urban ‘mainstream’ due to thick forests and inaccessible roads. The near most city Korba is 40 km from Mohanpur, that takes four-hour of cycle (or even bus) journey, a distance that local people think to be quite far. Hence, people here do not visit the city generally; it is a distant dream. The universe of their access and visits is spree of villages located around 10-12 km radius. Most common occupation of the villagers is rice-cultivation. Besides, people also indulge in sale of non-timber forest products and produce and sale of liquor. The area is plagued by the general problems of rural areas that exist throughout India like lack of electricity, illiteracy, etc. Presence of vehicles is not only unusual but also an amusing sight for the children and youths of the area. Caste distinctions are as acute as anywhere. Locally Ratiya Kanwar is at the highest ladder of the caste system and Oraon community (which is Christian) is at the lowest. The area, like other adivasi areas in the country, is characterised by practices that are considered ‘Backward’ in urban areas.…