IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 17th, 2012
In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- Naroda Gam trial resumes
- Modi all dressed up for RSS meet, but doesn’t get invite
- Sadiq encounter: IB sleuths in CBI net too
- Ghaziabad: Cops watched when rioters rallied
- “Special Cell tried to arrest Kazmi’s nephew”
- Criminal dereliction of duty led to Assam riots: Report
- Shocked riot victims’ kin question police brutality
- Hyderabadi youth say they were implicated in false case
- Gujarat biased against minorities: Centre
- Dalit youth burnt alive in Una, family blames BJP MLA
Opinions & Editorials
- How can we forget Gujarat 2002? – By Ajaz Ashraf
- Hindutva Chauvinism and Patriarchy in Gujarat – By Archana Prasad
- Re-thinking Hindus and Muslims – By Sagarika Ghose
- A fairer share – By A.K. Verma
- Sedition? Seriously? – Editorial
- The Invisible Dead – By Revati Laul and Anil Mishra
After two months, the proceedings in the 2002 Naroda Gam riot case resumed on Monday with the special trial court allowing prosecution to examine 60 panch witnesses. The trial was delayed following the resignation of a couple of public prosecutors.
Assistant special public prosecutor Gaurang Vyas said the court allowed the prosecution to examine the witnesses on September 24. On September 26, CBI official N S Raju will be examined in connection with the CDs of phone call records submitted by IPS officer Rahul Sharma and a sting operation conducted by a private media group.
In the sting operation, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Patel alias Bajrangi, an accused in the Naroda Gam case, was allegedly caught confessing to his role in the riots. There are 83 accused in the case, which was investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.
- Naroda Gam: 60 new witnesses to be examined (Sep 11, 2012, Times of India)
- Govindacharya mocks Narendra Modi on Ode, Sanjay Joshi (Sep 12, 2012, Indian Express)
- Narendra Modi did not talk of issues of Gujarat in Bechraji: Congress (Sep 12, 2012, Times of India)
- Failed crop sowed seeds of 37 farmer suicides in Gujarat (Sep 14, 2012, DNA India)
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh did not invite Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to its special meeting in Vadodara from September 7 to 9 despite the BJP strongman being keen on meeting the organisation’s top brass. “Modi had conveyed his desire to meet the top leaders, but the Sangh decided not to invite him or any other Bharatiya Janata Party leader,” a RSS leader said on Wednesday.
The state BJP leadership was cagey about speaking on the RSS decision, which has triggered talk of a strain in ties between the Sangh and Modi. “RSS is a separate organisation, our leaders don’t attend their meetings,” said a BJP leader who insisted on not being named. Apart from discussing the political situation, corruption and agitations against the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, more than 50 top RSS leaders also brainstormed on the general elections due in 2014.
The Sangh meet ended two days before Modi launched his poll campaign for a third stint in the state. A victory is expected to boost Modi’s prospects at the national level. Modi has had a series of run-ins with the RSS – considered the ideological and spiritual guide of BJP – this year. In June, Modi had apparently arm-twisted BJP president Nitin Gadkari into removing rival Sanjay Joshi, a former RSS pracharak, from the party’s national executive.
Later, three senior RSS pracharaks in Gujarat were removed as they were reportedly working with Keshubhai Patel, the former chief minister who has launched a political party to damage Modi’s prospects in the Gujarat assembly polls due in December. Incidentally, top RSS functionary Suresh Soni had visited Ahmedabad before Patel announced formation of his political outfit, the Gujarat Parivartan Party. According to a source privy to the dynamics of the Modi-Patel standoff, Soni had held a series of meetings with both the leaders separately, but failed to hammer out a compromise.
- RSS snubs Modi: Senior leaders refuse to meet Gujarat CM (Sep 13, 2012, Daily Bhaskar)
- Split visible? RSS leaders, Modi avoid meeting each other (Sep 10, 2012, Hindustan Times)
- Is Gujarat CM ready for SIT probe into graft charges? Congress to Narendra Modi (Sep 11, 2012, Economic Times)
- Ban Narendra Modi yatra’s entry in Navsari: Activist (Sep 14, 2012, Indian Express)
The CBI team investigating the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter of 2003, now believes there is more to the case than meets the eye. The agency is probing the possible involvement of some officials of central intelligence bureau (CIB), apart from Gujarat and Maharashtra police in the case.
CBI sources claim that some top cops of Gujarat and Maharashtra actually handed over Sadiq to officers of the city crime branch right before he was killed in a police encounter near Galaxy Cinema in Naroda on January 13, 2003. “Also involved in this conspiracy were some central IB officials. We have got some names in this regard. We are probing into this further to check all aspects before initiating any action,” said sources in CBI.
The probe agency is closely analyzing the statement of one of the accused in this case, Ketan Tirodkar. Tirodkar, a former journalist from Maharashtra was arrested by CBI for his involvement in this case.
Tirodkar had told courts in Gujarat, Maharashtra and also the CBI that he was present when Sadiq was handed over to the Gujarat police by Mumbai’s encounter-specialist police sub-inspector Daya Nayak in 2003, just days before the encounter. Tirodkar had also claimed that he had introduced Sadiq to Nayak for a job. Based on this confession CBI arrested Tirodkar in July. He is now lodged in the Sabarmati Central Jail.
However, CBI is now probing into a larger conspiracy involving more cops. “Our investigations have revealed that there are several senior police officers involved in this case. Some Gujarat and Maharashtra police officials are likely to be arrested in this case,” said a source in CBI. Gujarat high court has asked CBI to complete the investigations into this case by October 2.
- Tulsi Prajapati encounter: CBI found it hard to nail Geetha Johri (Sep 11, 2012, DNA India)
- CBI wants to question Vanzara in Sadiq encounter case (Sep 12, 2012, Times of India)
- The face of the Gujarat police (Sep 11, 2012, Indian Express)
- ‘Book policemen for fake encounters’ (Sep 14, 2012, The Hindu)
For five long hours on September 14, miscreants had a free run in Masuri and neighbouring villages – to plan and execute a night of rioting along NH-24 that left six people dead. There are reports that public address systems at religious places in Dasna, Masuri, Piplehda, Nahal and Sikrod villages were used to build up and incite the mobs after some pages of a Quran were allegedly found on railway tracks with abuses and a phone number scribbled on them, said officials, requesting anonymity.
Senior police officials, however, say they had no intelligence tip-off on the violence during which the Masuri police station was also attacked. Three Ghaziabad police officials, including those from local intelligence unit, have been suspended and action recommended against two circle officers. The pages were allegedly found at 1pm but the police were informed only at 6pm.
During the time, troublemakers got busy. Mobile phones were used to pass the news, whip up passions and build a crowd. And they came prepared – carrying country-made weapons, meat cleavers and petrol/kerosene bottles. The elders tried to pacify them, but failed, said the police. The police firing and violence that followed left five teenagers and a 33-year-old man dead.
Various theories are being put forward for the reasons for the violence. It could be an attempt to subvert locals’ movement against some meat-processing units, said officers. “Commissioner’s inquiry will reveal the reasons,” SSP Prashant Kumar said.
- Six killed during protest against desecration of holy book in Ghaziabad (Sep 15, 2012, Times of India)
- Police didn’t use other methods, opened fire at crowd in Ghaziabad: Jamiat leader (Sep 15, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- Ghaziabad violence points to increasing communal tensions in Akhilesh’s UP (Sep 16, 2012, India Today)
- Curfew in Ghaziabad area after desecration of holy book (Sep 15, 2012, Indian Express)
Angry relatives and supporters of senior journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi, who was arrested in connection with the February Israeli Embassy car blast, staged a demonstration on Kalindi Kunj Road in South-East Delhi on Tuesday accusing the Special Cell of attempting to arrest his nephew. According to Mr. Kazmi’s son Shauzab, his 16-year-old cousin was coming out of his house when over half-a-dozen men in plain clothes tried to overpower him around 8 p.m.
“He raised an alarm and offered resistance. Hearing his screams, the neighbours rushed to his rescue and gheraoed those trying to forcibly take him away. They claimed that they were with the Mumbai ATS [Anti-Terrorism Squad]. However, some identity cards found in their person revealed they were from the Special Cell,” Mr. Shauzab alleged. As news of the police team allegedly trying to arrest the Class IX student spread, more area residents gathered at the spot. The angry locals did not allow the men in plainclothes to leave and personnel from the area police stations were summoned soon thereafter.
“The local police took them away, but are yet to initiate action against them,” said Mr. Shauzab, alleging that Special Cell officers were involved in the incident. “We have been receiving threats to withdraw our Supreme Court petition. It seems they have now started targeting our relatives,” he alleged. For their part, the police said the men in plainclothes were from Anti Auto-Theft Squad (AATS) of South-East Delhi.
“We received information about some commotion in Jamia Nagar, following which senior police officers also reached the spot,” said a Delhi Police spokesperson. According to the police, an AATS team was in the area to conduct an enquiry when the incident took place. The protest continued till late at night, with area residents demanding registration of a case against those allegedly attempting to arrest Mr. Kazmi’s nephew.
“Some of us are at the Jamia Nagar police station to ensure that a case is registered against them,” said Mr. Shauzab. Four days ago, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Centre, the Delhi Government and the Attorney-General for their response to a petition filed by Mr. Kazmi challenging his detention and seeking bail. Mr. Kazmi, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on March 6, termed illegal a magisterial order that extended his detention by 90 days with retrospective effect.
- Shaheen Bagh erupts as police team tries to detain Syed Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi’s nephew (Sep 12, 2012, Indian Express)
- Shaheen Bagh: Bid to pick Kazmi’s relative foiled; Hundreds come out to protest (Sep 11, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- Attempt to “browbeat” Kazmi’s family condemned (Sep 13, 2012, The Hindu)
- Police claim misinformation led to Shaheen Bagh clashes (Sep 13, 2012, Indian Express)
A report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights suggests that the recent riots in Assam were absolutely preventable but not prevented because of the criminal dereliction of duty by officials, starting from the officer-in-charge of Kokrajhar police station to the highest authorities of India’s military establishment i.e. secretary to the ministry of defence, chief of the army staff, director general military operations and the commander of the Eastern Command.
Further, Assam government failed to deploy its 27,595 State Armed Police personnel in the riot affected areas. The Assam government did not deploy the central para-military forces at its command and instead waited for the central government to instruct West Bengal and Meghalaya to send para-military forces,” stated Suhas Chakma, director of the centre.
“The refusal of the army to be deployed directly led to increased loss of lives, displacement and consequent spread of hatred in the country. Both under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 wherein the army operates in aid of civil power and the Sections 130 and 131 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the army is legally bound to obey the orders of the civilian authorities. By the time the army moved in on July 25, about 44 persons were killed and over 200,000 were displaced,” he said. There must be accountability for such criminal dereliction of duty, he added.
- It’s not Muslim vs non-Muslim, says Ajmal (Sep 12, 2012, Indian Express)
- Muslim youth challenged Hagrama and Advaniji to prove him as Bangladeshi (Sep 11, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- Assam ethnic strife: 1,87,052 still in 206 relief camps (Sep 16, 2012, DNA India)
- National Commission for Minorities slams Tarun Gogoi for remarks on Muslims (Sep 9, 2012, IBN)
For most in the city, the violence that unfolded at Azad Maidan on August 11 could be just another case of rioting . A month down the line, the families of the people, who died after sustaining bullet injuries or were tortured in custody and later declared innocent, are still picking up pieces of the horrific ordeal. The family of 22-year-old Mohammad Umar, who died in the firing, is still in mourning.
“His young wife Siddiqua, who is barely in her twenties, has been widowed. She sits in a closed room mourning her husband’s death. According to Islamic tradition, Siddiqua cannot step out of the house for 40 days. She cannot show her face or talk to outsiders,” said Shabaz Munnavar Khan, Umar’s nephew. The family, however, is not aware that Umar who fell prey to the bullets had been a history-sheeter with cases of cheating and encroachment registered against him. “We are not aware of Mohammad’s past record, but that surely does not absolve police of showering bullets in which he got killed,” Khan said.
Three of the five acquitted innocent victims faced abuse in police custody. Repeated attempts to reach 26-yearold Abbas Ujjainwala, who was picked up by the police on false grounds and later released, failed. The Rapid Action Police (RPF) had broken Ujjainwala’s nine teeth after which he was also threatened and abused by the Arthur road jail authorities.
On contacting his brother Hussain Ujjainwala, he said, “Abbas was under immense mental trauma after the abuse in jail. He has not been able to tend to his fast food restaurant in Kurla, which was doing a thriving business before he was illegally picked up. He has taken off to his native village for a month and does not wish to be hounded by media.”
Eighteen-year-old Anees Daware, who was freed after being declared innocent, has not been able to stand on his own feet since he was bashed up by the police in custody. “Anees has sustained injuries on his legs. He is on heavy medication for the last two weeks. He used to work in a garage, but he can’t go for his job now that the doctors have advised him rest for at least one month,” said Mohsin Daware, Anees’s elder brother.
- Delegation from Gopalgarh meets CM, CS (Sep 12, 2012, Times of India)
- CBI records testimonies in Gopalgarh case (Sep 13, 2012, The Hindu)
- Blast at RSS centre near madrasa in Pondicherry; Muslims demand fair probe (Sep 13, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- UP govt has failed Muslims: Bukhari (Sep 12, 2012, Indian Express)
Two Hyderabadi youth, who returned home after spending over four years in a jail in Madhya Pradesh, said they were implicated in a false case under what they call a “conspiracy” by police to terrorize Muslim youth. Baleeguddin Jaber and Muqeemuddin Yasir were acquitted in acriminal conspiracy case by a court in Indore Thursday and they returned here Saturday night. The police had charged them with having links with banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
The brothers accompanied by their father and cleric Moulana Naseeruddin, who himself was jailed in Gujarat for five years, reached the city to a warm welcome by relatives and residents of Saeedabad neighbourhood amid slogans. For the duo it was a tearful reunion with their family members after nearly five years. “All the charges against us were concocted. We thank the Almighty Allah for the acquittal and release,” Jaber told reporters.
They recalled that they were first arrested by Hyderabad police in 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case and for alleged conspiracy to attack state police headquarters. “Later, we were implicated in conspiracy case in Indore and sent there. This was done under a conspiracy by Andhra Pradesh Police to frame false charges against Muslim youth and hand them over to police of other states,” said Yasir, who pointed out that several youth implicated in similar false cases in Gujarat were acquitted.
They alleged that a police officer from Hyderabad reached Indore to oppose their release citing Mecca Masjid blast case despite the fact the state government apologized to all Muslims wrongly arrested in the case and paid compensation to them. They said this anti-Muslim attitude by the police could prove dangerous for the country. The brothers said they were kept in a dark cell (in Indore Jail) and were even tortured. “We didn’t see light and a fan for four years and two months. The jailor used to call us traitors and pass remarks that we should be hanged 50 times,” said Jaber. They said they never visited Indore but police accused them of attending a SIMI meeting there.
Moulana Naseeruddin, who heads religious organization Wahdat-e-Islami, said the Muslims youth would not be intimidated by the “nefarious designs” of police and would continue their fight against “repression”. The cleric, who was arrested by Gujarat police in 2004 in a conspiracy case and granted bail by the Supreme Court in 2009, said he would be really happy only when all innocent Muslim youths are acquitted and released. He was charged with of hatching conspiracy to revenge the Gujarat 2002 riots.
- Branding Muslims as anti-national is upper caste intolerance to social revolution: Paswan (Sep 11, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- SIMI activists in for 5 years, prosecution fails to prove sedition charge (Sep 14, 2012, Hindustan Times)
- Muslim leaders of AP Congress demand equal opportunity for Muslims (Sep 13, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- Habeas corpus petition by parents of terror suspects dismissed (Sep 10, 2012, Deccan Herald)
The Centre has blamed the Gujarat government for adopting dual standards in implementing a policy that benefits the minorities. The allegations were made during hearing on a PIL demanding that the state government should implement a scholarship scheme for minority students offered by the Centre. On basis of a report by TOI, advocate Hashim Qureshi filed the PIL seeking the Gujarat high court’s direction to the state government to implement the scheme. The petition claimed that the Centre had allotted Rs 9.82 crore for award of 52,260 pre-matriculation scholarships to students in Gujarat. But the central government noticed that no scholarships had been availed.
The Centre has been offering the scholarships since 2008. Under the scheme, the Centre contributes 75% of funds and the state government has to bear 25% of the total amount. The state government has not implemented the scheme on the ground that it is discriminatory because it is based on religious basis and meant to help only one community. Advocate general Kamal Trivedi cited a couple of judgments stating that giving benefits on religion basis is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution.
During the hearing, the Centre’s counsel Hriday Buch submitted that while many states implement this scheme, the Gujarat government refused to do it without any justification. Only ground the state government has taken is that it would implement the scheme only on socio-economic criteria, and not religion.
Buch also contended that the state government had been implementing a similar scheme since 1979. He also highlighted that two other scholarships of this nature meant for minority students have been implemented by the state government, but it refuses to implement this very scheme only because larger number of students are targeted. He alleged that the state government cannot deny benefits to five communities including Muslims, Sikhs and Parsis.
The Centre also submitted that the scheme was offered on basis of recommendations made by a high-level committee. Its counsel also made it clear that there is distinction between reservation and scholarship. While students belonging from the SCs, STs and OBCs get various benefits, students from minority communities do not get any such benefits. Further hearing on this issue is on Saturday.
- Pondicherry administration succumbs to saffron threat, closes Madrasa (Sep 12, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- Darul Uloom scores in debut at Delhi Book Fair (Sep 6, 2012, Indian Express)
- Kerala govt delays affiliation of thousands of minority unaided schools (Sep 11, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- Protected Isanpur mosque besieged (Sep 13, 2012, Times of India)
A day after a dalit youth was burnt alive by fellow villagers of another caste at Akolali in Una taluka of Junagadh district over his “love affair”, the family of the deceased on Friday alleged that the attack took place at the behest of a BJP MLA. They claimed that the leader has been eying their land. Lalji Sarviya, 27, was thrashed and locked up in a house in the village before a mob, allegedly by sarpanch Bhana Vaja, set him on fire.
They also allegedly injured Lalji’s father Kala and his brother alleging Lalji, who was married, had an affair with a village girl who went missing three days ago. A complaint of murder, criminal conspiracy and atrocity was registered against 12 persons, police said, adding that 10 suspects, including the sarpanch, have been arrested.
His family alleged that Lalji was not killed over any love affair but it was done in a bid to grab their land. “Lalji has been killed at the behest of a BJP MLA, who has eye on our 17 bigha land, which is near to stone mines,” said his father. Junagadh BJP president Madha Boricha, who is also a dalit leader, however, refuted the allegation against his party MLA. “The incident is begin given political colour,” said Boricha, who visited the affected family today with some dalit party members.
Police, meanwhile, said the girl in question is still missing. “The girl is missing. Police will also investigate the murder angle and interrogate all,” said Junagadh Superintendent of Police Dipankar Trivedi, adding, “The family has not mentioned name of any politician in the FIR.” Kala said the family was “too disturbed” to register a proper complaint on Thursday, “but after the last rites, we will ask police to include the MLA’s name in the FIR”.
- Constables, SHO booked for molestation, rape (Sep 10, 2012, Statesman)
- After rape, school violates Dalit girl’s rights, NHRC steps in (Sep 13, 2012, Indian Express)
- Couple allege rape in heart of Durgapur (Sep 10, 2012, The Telegraph)
- Pune rape-murder: HC defers order on sentence (Sep 14, 2012, Indian Express)
Opinions and Editorials
The judgement of the special court in Ahmedabad convicting 32 people for their role in the Naroda-Patiya massacre should help heal the wounds of the Muslim community. It should also bolster their resolve to secure justice through methods neither illegal nor destructive. Yet the verdict is not likely to diminish the fear the community has about majority communalism, nor persuade them to believe that the horror of Gujarat will never revisit them. These divergent implications of the verdict were reflected through two unconnected occurrences on the day of the verdict. Naroda-Patiya rejoiced at the long spell of imprisonment the convicted were to now languish in. Outside it, in India and abroad, netizens were excitedly logging in to ask questions to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who was to answer them, live, through the Google Plus Hangout. The dense traffic crashed its website, delaying the programme. The overwhelming response to Modi demonstrates the enduring romance between him and sections of society, particularly the middle class.
For Muslims, though, this romance was yet another proof of inadequate empathy in the majority community for the suffering Muslims endured in Gujarat, the horrific stories of which inculcated in the community a deep fear about its future. Their collective memory of 2002 is revived every time an opinion poll shows Modi leading the pack of prime ministerial candidates in the 2014 election. Nor can they fathom those who praise Modi’s style of governance even though it was under his watch a state pogrom, camouflaged as spontaneous riots, was launched against them. The massive mandate Modi received in two successive assembly elections perplexes Muslims into asking: why hasn’t the violence of 2002 repulsed the Hindu supporters of Modi?
This question is linked to the idea of justice that is too expansive for the court to accommodate. There is no denying that the Naroda-Patiya judgement upholds the principle of deterrence. You could even say that the severity of the judgement is retributive. Special court judge Jyotsna Yagnik alluded to these two principles, declaring that she had refrained from sentencing the culprits to death only because of the global trend against it. Yet even death penalty to them may not have completely satisfied Muslims. This is because what they subconsciously desire is restorative justice, a veritable return to the ideal of communal harmony, a consensus that the riots of 2002 had violated the collective conscience of the nation.
This idea of justice presupposes a shared idea of what constitutes collective conscience, actions deemed violative of it, and willingness among transgressors, and their silent supporters, to accept their responsibility, preferably even atone for it. Indeed, the very nature of restorative justice makes it imperative that the impulse for it should emanate from society. No doubt Muslims admire civil society activists who waged a relentless battle to secure judicial justice for the Gujarat victims. Yet they are dismayed at the orchestrated campaign to project Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. For them, Modi was and still remains the face of terror they first countenanced through the nightmare of 2002. The endeavour to project him as a possible PM consequently persuades Muslims to believe that there is as yet no societal consensus that the Gujarat riots violated the nation’s collective conscience, particularly as he has adamantly refused to apologise for them.
This is also why they become perturbed on hearing industrialists sing paeans to the development Modi has ushered in. Much of it is a case of myth-making. Economist Abusaleh Shariff has demonstrated that in 10 years ending March 2010, Gujarat received foreign direct investment worth Rs. 28,000 crore, as against Maharashtra’s Rs. 1.75 lakh crore and Delhi’s Rs. 1.02 lakh crore. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are the only states which have hunger levels higher than Gujarat. The state’s development is historical, as is its poor human development indicators. Yet, Modi appropriates credit for the former and furnishes pathetic explanations for the latter. For the myth of Modi to flourish, it is concomitant for people to stifle the periodic admonitions of collective conscience delivered through civil society activism and judicial verdicts. To Muslims, though, it appears that the brutality of 2002 doesn’t constitute a violation of the collective conscience serious enough to dissuade the nation to turn against the man who dreams of becoming the PM. It is this form of justice Muslims prefer, than what the judiciary can dispense.
- Gujarat Victims Great Fight Back – By Syed Ali Mujtaba (Sep 10, 2012, Countercurrents)
- Monsoon justice for Modi’s Gujarat – By Aijaz Zaka Syed (Sep 11, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- Triumph of justice – By Anupama Katakam (Sep 8, 2012, Frontline)
- Tehelka Expose helped in nailing Amit Shah – By Tehelka Bureau (Sep 4, 2012, Tehelka)
On August 29, 2012 the Washington Post published Narendra Modi’s now famous statement that the increasing rates of malnutrition in Gujarat could be attributed to the beauty conscious middle class girls and dieting habits. He also reiterated that he “would not apologise for the Gujarat violence (2002)”. A day later Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and 27 others were convicted for the Naroda Patiya massacre in the 2002 Gujarat genocide. The witnesses deposing before the courts emphasised on the mass atrocities against Muslim women and children, thus, highlighting the nature of the conviction. In the same week, the RSS weekly Panchjanya (August 25, 2012) also reported a comment by Shanta Akka, the newly appointed president of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, who stated that the events in Assam were representative of the “evil designs” (rakshasi sanskriti) against Indian culture and therefore it was necessary that the forces of Hinduism be advanced. These seemingly unrelated incidents are bound together by an understanding that women and their organisations are carriers of the Hindutva ideology and the vision of a Hindu Rashtra that forms the basis of the Gujarat model of development. Here women become both, agents of Hindutva politics, as well as targets of violence perpetrated by Sangh Parivar organisations.
The main convict in the Naroda Patiya massacre, Mayaben Kodnani was the minister for women and child development and was forced to resign after she was charge sheeted in the Naroda Patiya case. A medical doctor by training Mayaben has been an active member of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the women’s wing of the RSS and the primary organisation training women to become carriers of the Hindutva ideology. Formed in 1936 by Lakshmibai Kelkar, the Samiti describes itself as a “a cultural organisation of Hindu Women” whose main objective is to make women realise that they are “the foundation pillars of the nation taking into account their capacity to mould the family”. The nation is “Bharat” whose concept is based on “bonds of love and affection” and nationhood which is synonymous with “Hindutwa” (sic). Thus the ideal woman and enlightened mother who in her capacity as a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother is “strong physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually” so that she can defend the nation and “create a deep sense of devotion and pride for nation, religion and culture”. This is achieved through Rashtradharma, the core of which is the Hindu way of living. As Shanta Akka, the current chief of the Samiti in her speech on August 20, 2012, explains “we have also forgotten our fundamental life style due to this excessive propagandist approach adopted by them (the foreigners). Hence our mission is to reverse this trend and restore our fundamental lifestyle which gave more importance to the inner beauty than the beauty of the body”. The core concept of enlightened motherhood imagines a national division of labour where women play a subordinated and traditional role of mothers and defenders of the faith.
The main task of the sevikas is to transform this idea into an organisation and a political programme that supports the plans of the larger Sangh Parivar. This is achieved through military and ideological training in 5215 daily shakhas that are run through 835 centres in the country. These shakhas respond to calls of the Sangh and multiply the Parivar through multiple organisations, especially since the late 1980s. Thus Sadhavi Rithambara, a sevika by training, founded the Durga Vahini which played an active role in the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. As reported, about 55,000 Durga Vahini people were active in the campaign with women from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh leading the charge. The organisational skills of the sevikas have also been in evidence in the Gujarat riots of 2002. Thus Mayaben Kodnani, a trained and active sevika, has been described by Special Court as the “kingpin of the Gujarat riots” who instigated and provided leadership to the rioters. In its final sentencing order the court also states that Kodnani was “immensely favoured by the then investigation agencies” who attempted to influence all victims to ensure that her “involvement does not come on the books”. Hence it is quite clear that the Sangh Parivar unsuccessfully worked in tandem with the state government to ensure that this sevika was safe from the due process of law. In this sense, the training of the sevikas and their socialisation as agents of Hindutva has been crucial in supporting the Modi and his cover up of the role of the government in the 2002 genocide.
Thus, Mayaben Kodnani represents the Sangh’s incorporation of women into its agenda of building a Hindu Rashtra. By the same measure the atrocities perpetrated on Muslim women by the Hindutva brigade in 2002 can also be seen as the ugly expression of Hindutva’s patriarchal identity. Eye witness accounts of the Naroda Patiya victims clearly indicate the organised and systematic way in which women were targeted after “exciting speeches by Mayaben Kodnani”. The first incident destroying the Noorani Mosque on February 28, 2012 was inspired by her and thereafter several witnesses have recorded that she moved about with different male mobs urging them to “finish off the miyans”. She distributed swords, kerosene and other weapons which were common instruments of molestation and assault in the massacre. This political support emboldened the mobs and inspired them to perpetrate the most brutal and worst crimes on women. That the crime was organised and perpetrated by leading functionaries of the Sangh Parivar is narrated by the courageous witnesses of the Naroda Patiya massacre. In her testimony, Reshmabanu Nadimbhai Sayid (witness 142) records how her pregnant sister, Kausharbanu was pulled away by leading Bajrang Dal activists, Suresh Langda and Bhawani Singh, who took out the unborn foetus splitting her abdomen by a sword. Both were then burnt alive.
Another gruesome tale is told by Naimuddin Ibrahim Shaikh (witness 148) who witnessed the gang rape of his wife Zarina. He says that the mob cut off both the hands of his wife with a sword, stripped her till the she was totally naked. In another testimony, Siddiquebhai Alabaksh Mansuri (witness 236) illustrated that Mayaben led a mob that burnt women and children alive. These medieval means and methods of attack displayed a sense of helplessness of the Muslim women victims, and a sense of dominating power of the male Hindutva brigade. The Naroda Patiya judgement and its evidences may take many months to analyse, but they have given a window of opportunity to democratic women’s organisations. The absence of a strong democratic women’s movement has resulted in tragic consequences for the women of Naroda Patiya. But their courage has also highlighted the need for exposing the fascist and patriarchal character of Modi’s social and political programme. The expansion of the democratic women’s movement in this region is an urgent need and mass mobilisations need to reach out to all classes of women, especially with the impending Gujarat elections. This will help in countering the hegemonic influence of organisations like the Rashtra Sevika Samiti who are playing a crucial role in the communal polarisation of women.
- Modi-fication needed – Editorial (Aug 30, 2012, Hindustan Times)
- Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar: A tale of two friends – By Premkumar Mani (Sep 3, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- The sinful chariot – By Pravin Mishra (Sep 12, 2012, Ahmedabad Mirror)
Old ghosts have a way of re-appearing. Manmohan Singh has warned senior police officers that the communal situation has become dangerous and “miscreants” are using social media to provoke religious hostility between communities. The Assam riots and subsequent exodus showed that the phantoms of religious polarisation are stalking us once again. It was social media and bulk smses that led to that exodus of thousands of north easterners from metros. There is constant outrage at “Muslim appeasement” among “nationalist Hindus” on social media. Social media also disseminated morphed images that contributed to almost twenty thousand Muslims congregating in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan. Clearly the role of social media in mobilising thousands and whipping up extreme religious sentiments, particularly among youth, cannot be ignored. Now a terror plot supposedly centred in Bangalore has led to the arrests of 17 young Muslimmen, among them, a journalist, a chartered accountant and a DRDO employee. One of them apparently plotted to kill a “Hindu right wing” journalist, active onTwitter. Already in Bareilly, there have been 5 communal riots in 75 days. MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has spoken of a “third wave of radicalisation” of Muslims. VHP leader Praveen Togadia has written to the prime minister saying Rohingya Muslims have “infiltrated” up to New Delhi with the help of local Muslims.
As a high stakes general election draws near, on both sides of the religious divide,those who see political gain in religious polarisation just be becoming active again. Muslim rage and Hindu hate are feeding off each other. As mirrored in social media, there is competitive radicalisation of youths in both communities. Fringe groups, spoiling for street battles, are waiting for opportunities. These are assertive angry times. As the economy contracts, the potential for massive social turmoil increases and the appeal of religious hotheads grows. The law has punished Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi for their role in the Gujarat riots, but the sad reality of Gujarati society as written about insightfully by Vadodara-based academic JS Bandukwala is a total lack of any reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims, ghettoization, continuation of hatred and prejudice, in fact a religious apartheid. The Hindu-Muslim relationship desperately craves a modern new direction, away from both the language of quotas and the language of conflict. After all, “appeasement” and “communalism” are words born in the last century.
Muslim victimhood drags at the feet of the community, bringing protestors out in thousands only against attacks on religious identity. Leadership by clerics has meant there are no similarly passionate agitations against educational backwardness or plight of women. A perpetual sense of separateness means that Muslims have not yet built alliances with other minorities. AUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal has been accused of creating a fear psychosis around identity to build his party. To not see the Muslims-in-India glass as half full, to fail to recognise a growing secularised ethos in which even Hindu nationalists will confess to being fans of Shah Rukh Khan, is to ignore the many small successes of secular India. Yet a modern political leadership that shuns quotas on the one hand and extremist rhetoric on the other, is still missing. The fact that the Congress promise of 9 per cent Muslim sub-quota brought no rewards in the UP polls, shows that quota politics maybe exhausted. Just as quota politics needs to end, politics of prejudice needs to be junked too. Although it claims to have already done so, the BJP needs to give up on identity politics. In a fast changing world, slogans of “minority appeasement” will anyway soon pass their sell by date.
The BJP must now become a secular conservative movement like the UK has. This means locating right wing ideology not in religion but in a movement that favours fiscal consolidation, encourages individual responsibility, supports private investment and generally believes there should be less government involvement in all walks of life. Rising above identity politics, this movement should differentiate itself from a Left-of-centre, subsidies inclined Congress and bury its Babur ki aulad complex. Mohan Bhagwat recently said the RSS is not the HR manager of the BJP; but the RSS is the guiding force of the Sangh whose cadres and foot soldiers (if not leaders) still mobilise primarily on an anti-Muslim platform and historical vendettas against Islam. Trapped in the politics of quotas or the communal riot, politicians are not inclined to provide any leadership on how the Hindu Muslim relationship can be managed in a situation of competitive assertiveness in a new India. The two main political parties still define their identities not on competing visions of governancebut on sectarian stances on minorities. For them minorities remain a cultural/ideological issue, not a governance issue centred on justice and impartiality from police and judiciary. Assam Chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s assertion that Assam’s Muslim population is growing because Muslims breed more than Hindus, shows that politicians do not have a new vision of co-existence.
Politicians will fight their narrow battles, but as a society we need to take the lead in staring down the bloodthirsty ghosts that regularly haunt us. The Hindutva movement has undoubtedly forced a re-think on “official secularism”. Argument and counter argument about uniform civil code, Kashmir, Babri Masjid are by no means settled. Former Bengal cop Nazrul Islam’s book Musalman der karaniya (What Should The Muslims Do) may have become controversial, yet it is precisely a fearless open debate, free of mutual suspicion,that will keep religious hatred at bay. Religious pride may be increasing on both sides but “proud Muslims” and “proud Hindus” of India must make a common covenant with modernity. They must refuse to be provoked by divisive campaigns and be unafraid to re-start the Hindu Muslim dialogue as argumentative Indians. For this, the Hindu must first shed his prejudice, and the Muslim his anger.
- Identity, Community, and Conflict: A Survey of Issues and Analyses – By N Jayaram (Sep 22, 2012, Economic & Political Weekly)
When Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party took over the reins of government in Uttar Pradesh, it boasted of heavy Muslim support, discomfiting the outgoing BSP. Sixty nine Muslims from various parties were elected to the UP assembly. Yet, questions have often been raised about the inadequacy of Muslim representation in UP politics. However, recent municipal elections for 630 nagar nigams, nagar palika parishads and nagar panchayats in UP, held over June and July, demolish this perception. Not only have Muslims been well represented in all municipal bodies, their presence is proportionately greater than their share in the state’s population, which is 18.5 per cent.
In fact, the proportion of Muslim MLAs and MPs in UP has always exceeded their share in the population. Some suggest that they have been used as votebanks by parties that espouse the “Muslim cause”. However, the political empowerment of Muslims in urban and semi-urban areas, evident in the 2012 municipal elections, punctures this votebank theory. The State Election Commission does not provide any data on the basis of religion, but it has put the names of all the 12,000-odd elected representatives of 630 civic bodies on its website. Scanning the lists, one finds that out of 11,816 seats, Muslims have won 3,681, that is, 31.15 per cent of the seats. This is a striking jump, compared to the 17.12 per cent share of Muslims in the UP assembly elections in 2012 and the 8.75 per cent share in the parliamentary elections of 2009.
This increased representation of Muslims is not confined to any one region of UP. Rohilkhand, with a 34 per cent Muslim population, tops the list with 53.5 per cent Muslim representation in various municipal bodies. This is followed by Awadh, west UP, east UP and east UP (north). Even in Bundelkhand with 6.69 per cent, and the Doab with 11.2 per cent Muslim populations, the Muslim share in civic bodies is higher, at 8.87 per cent and 15.62 per cent respectively. If we look at specific civic bodies, the trend is mirrored – there there are 88 per cent Muslim members in Mubarakpur (Azamgarh) and Kakrala (Badayun) nagar palika parishads, and 93 per cent Muslim members in Kheri (Lakhimpur) and Kithor (Meerut) nagar panchayats. These four places represent different regions – east UP, Rohilkhand, Awadh and west UP, respectively. This holds true of other sub-regions too.
One explanation for this expanded Muslim representation is that in urban and semi-urban areas, Muslims tend to cluster around a few pockets. But how did this grassroots upsurge of Muslim representation happen without parties like the SP and the BSP, which have vigorously championed the Muslim cause, but which did not participate in these polls? Is this an indication of the Muslim community’s growing autonomy vis-à-vis political parties? The SP contingent in the Lok Sabha did not contain a single Muslim MP in 2009, despite massive Muslim support for the party. Some Muslim parties, such as the Peace Party and the Qaumi Ekta Dal, have tried to take advantage of this fact and fared well in some pockets of east UP and the Terai belt, but they have yet to become real players in state politics. And yet, it is clear that Muslims are now confidently taking to political contests without the aid of political parties.
Why is this increased Muslim representation in civic government not being replicated in assembly and parliamentary elections? Most assembly and parliamentary constituencies have a mix of rural and urban areas, and Muslim localities in rural areas may not be populated densely enough to give Muslim contestants an edge on the basis of community support. They have to reach out to the entire electorate, in which political parties play a crucial role. The rising number and growing clout of Muslims in urban government have the potential to genuinely improve their lives. This grassroots empowerment will achieve more than anything the Akhilesh Yadav government promises about acting on the Ranganath Mishra commission and the Sachar committee’s recommendations. Now, we must watch how these Muslim-dominant civic bodies function.
- Reservation In Promotion Needed To Ensure Representation In Governance Structure – By Vidya Bhushan Rawat (Sep 6, 2012, Countercurrents)
- Promoting justice – By P.S. Krishnan (Sep 8, 2012, Frontline)
“Take again Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code,” Jawaharlal Nehru said during a parliamentary debate centred around freedom of speech in 1951. “Now as far as I am concerned that particular Section is highly objectionable and obnoxious and it should have no place…in any body of laws that we might pass. The sooner we get rid of it the better.” Ironically, the sedition clause not only remains on the statute book but is used periodically against human rights activists, journalists and intellectuals. The latest victim of this anachronistic colonial era law, for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment, is a young cartoonist, arrested for no more than lampooning the corrupt and venal state of affairs in the country. Even if one were to admit, for the sake of argument, that some may find his work offensive or in bad taste, it is bizarre and unpardonable that he should be put behind bars on charges that include exciting “disaffection” towards or bringing “hatred and contempt” against the government.
The use of sedition to silence speech has a long and infamous history in this country. When Mahatma Gandhi was charged with exciting disaffection in 1922, he pleaded guilty, saying cheekily that “affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law.” Prosecuted twice, Bal Gangadhar Tilak sought to know whether he was guilty of sedition against the colonial government or India’s people. Recently, the sedition law was misapplied to convict civil rights activist Binayak Sen and register a case against writer Arundhati Roy and others for speeches they made on Kashmir.
While upholding the sedition law, the Supreme Court said it should apply only to cases where an accused person intended to create public disorder or incite violence (Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar). However, in carrying out arrests and slapping charges, the police and their political masters have rarely, if ever, respected this restriction. In the wake of the ruling against Binayak Sen, Veerappa Moily, then Law Minister, had announced there was a need to review the sedition law.
With the continuing misuse of the law, however, there is only one reasonable course: scrap it at once, and quickly. It is no accident that the other charges against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi are the controversial ‘hate’ and ‘insult’ provisions in the Information Technology Act and the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act. What constitutes an insult, what causes offence, and what can be construed as hate are deeply subjective issues. This ambiguity gives governments the legal handle to exercise an insidious form of censorship and control that goes well beyond the “reasonable restrictions” on free speech that the Constitution allows.
- ‘If Speaking The Truth Is Sedition, Then I Am Guilty’ – By Aseem Trivedi (Sep 10, 2012, Outlook)
- Aseem Trivedi’s arrest shows how colonial-era sedition laws lend themselves to abuse – Editorial (Sep 11, 2012, Times of India)
- Sovereignty in India has historically been seen as belonging not to the people but to the State – By Ashok Malik (Sep 22, 2012, Tehelka)
- Criminalising Dissent: Consequences of UAPA – By Anushka Singh (Sep 22, 2012, Economic & Political Weekly)
Anthony Khujur was only 24 when he succumbed to cerebral malaria. His mother Dilo Bai’s staccato narrative, punctured with sobs, tells how doctors did not diagnose the problem that caused his death on 24 August. For his family, Anthony will ever be missed; for the state of Chhattisgarh, he is not even a statistic. Officially there have been no malaria deaths in 2012. Anthony Khujur has slipped between the cracks. He is one of Chhattisgarh’s invisible dead. Anthony lived in the very green village, Ghutrapara, in north Chhattisgarh. This is not the part of Chhattisgarh that makes it to national headlines. It has no Maoist insurgency and is located in a relatively prosperous district called Sarguja. Ambikapur, the biggest town in the district and not far from Ghutrapara, is a busy trading centre connected by a clear, straight road to Anthony’s village. There is even a practising doctor – Dr Santosh Singh, with an MBBS degree – in the adjoining village, barely a 10-minute walk away. In short, this is not Chhattisgarh’s heart of darkness.
Dr Singh said he’d been treating Anthony for malaria every year for as long as he could remember. This year too, he saw Anthony, treated him and apparently the patient had recovered. A month later, however, he fell ill again. This time his family did not take him back to Dr Singh. When Anthony’s condition worsened, he was taken to the Mission Hospital in Ambikapur where he died. His mother said they had no idea malaria was still lurking in his body. He was being treated for secondary diseases – jaundice and typhoid that stemmed from the original malaria condition. That’s why Anthony is a non-statistic. Malaria is not just a seasonal predicament in Chhattisgarh. It is its secret epidemic, and kills many more people than the Maoist insurgency. Deliberately or otherwise, everybody is blind to it. So was TEHELKA till 15 June, when this magazine lost one of its own – and an anonymous, unknown health crisis began to haunt us.
Tarun Sehrawat was 23, and excited to be on assignment in Chhattisgarh. It was a high-risk assignment, he was accompanying reporter Tusha Mittal into the jungles of Abujmarh in the Bastar region in south Chhattisgarh. This was the inner core of the red zone in the state and a dense and sparsely inhabited forest that, it is said, even Akbar’s army and British surveyors had left alone. Tarun expected to face danger from Maoists. What got him, however, was a more insidious and much more silent enemy. Tarun returned from Abujmarh and a week later, he developed a fever and soon developed jaundice and typhoid. As his friends and family watched, bewildered, he slid into a coma. A month-and-a-half later, at Medanta in Gurgaon, among India’s best equipped hospitals, doctors finally took him off life support. He had recovered from the malaria. But suddenly, he was hit by a massive brain haemorrhage. Just like that, he was gone.
In the Greek epics, the clue was a ball of wool that Theseus took with him as he entered the labyrinth, rolling it out gradually to help him retrace his steps after he had killed the monster. After Tarun’s death, his colleagues at TEHELKA were left on the other side of the labyrinth, wondering what mysteries and what monsters lived inside, what conditions made malaria and other fevers like the one Tarun suffered from, such a killer. For Tarun’s sake, it was important to enter the labyrinth and interrogate that monster. We owed him that much. The maze of statistics surrounding malaria in Chhattisgarh is caught in a snare of lies and Stalinist statistics. Falciparum malaria is known all over the world to kill between 1-3 percent of its patients. In the UK, for instance, the Journal of Infection recorded in 2007 that 1 percent of those infected with falciparum malaria had died – that’s 10 of the 1,500 infected. Perplexingly, Chhattisgarh’s reports seem to defy all medical odds. According to data sent to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in New Delhi, 1,90,590 people had malaria in Chhattisgarh in 2007. Of these cases, 1,44,766 cases – 75 percent – were falciparum. Bizarrely there were only three recorded deaths – making for a death rate of 0.00002 percent.
Since the official data can’t be relied on, people working on malaria in the state have had to find other ways of estimating the size of the problem. The State Health Resource Centre for Chhattisgarh, an autonomous public body, relies on another statistic: the Annual Parasite Index (API), which measures the number of people affected in thousands. If an area has an API measure of over five, that’s five deaths in a 1,000 people, then by WHO standards it is considered an epidemic. In Chhattisgarh, the API for malaria is above five in 79 of the 146 blocks across the state. In the forests of Dantewada – 42 blocks have an API of over 10. In some it’s over 100. The worst affected areas are not just in the Bastar forests, but equally in the comparatively tranquil north. Here the defunct public health system cannot hide behind the conflict. Dr Yogesh Jain runs a non-profit health centre on the outskirts of Bilaspur in the north. His patients are largely tribal poor from the surrounding forests and malaria is a huge concern. In 2010, his centre, the Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS), mapped the cases in just one of the 10 blocks in Bilaspur – an area called Konta. Dr Jain and his colleagues counted more than 100 malaria deaths in just that one block. In all 10 blocks, he deduced, there would be at least a 1,000 deaths that year. The official figure for that entire district was just nine.…
- The DIY Maoist Manual – By Toral Varia Deshpande (Sep 8, 2012, Outlook)