IAMC Weekly News Roundup - September 3rd, 2018 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 3rd, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Persecution of activists an expression of fascism say Indian Americans

Arrest of prominent intellectuals and dissidents widely condemned by diaspora August 28, 2018

The Alliance for Justice And Accountability (AJA), an umbrella coalition of progressive organizations across the United States, today condemned the sweeping attacks against activists and intellectuals in India, leading to the arrest of five prominent public figures known for their courage and tenacity in combating caste oppression.

Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira were all arrested on the same day from their homes in different Indian cities on Tuesday, August 28, 2018. The arrests have been roundly condemned as a “massive crackdown” by prominent personalities across India, as well as by international human rights groups such as Amnesty International.

The fact that the police waited for Republic TV to arrive after having arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, shows the intent was to sensationalize the arrest and demonize activists such as Ms. Bhardwaj.

“It is deeply alarming to see the government arrest activists who seek to defend justice and human dignity, as opposed to arresting those who perpetrate violations of human rights and religious freedom, ” said Mr. Bhajan Singh, founding director of Organization of Minorities in India (OFMI).

AJA has demanded dropping of all the false and malicious charges against these intellectuals and an investigation into the political motives behind their harrassment.

“The fact that a BJP lawmaker from Karnataka recently advocated the killing of all intellectuals, is an indication of India’s accelerating trajectory towards mob rule, ” said Mr. Umang Kumar, a noted community activist who is part of AJA. “Attack on human rights defenders such as Swami Agnivesh and Umar Khalid are a direct outcome of such vitriol coming from the ruling party,” added Mr. Umang.

“Clearly, the government seems to be playing to polarize the nation before the 2019 elections. Such open subversion of the rule of law does not help any community,” added Mr. Ahsan Khan, President Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC).

The Alliance for Justice and Accountability has pledged to work with people of all faiths to defend India from the onslaught of hate and divisiveness.

Alliance for Justice and Accountability
Phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270


1) Indian activists decry police arrests and searches after caste riots

2) Top Indian activists held over caste violence

3) Intellectuals condemn arrest of activists, call it ‘perilous, chilling, fascist’

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Indian activists decry police arrests and searches after caste riots (Aug 28, 2018, Washington Post)

Police in India arrested prominent activists and writers and searched their homes Tuesday, alleging that they had incited a riot. Critics called the actions another blow to the right to dissent in the world’s most populous democracy. The latest raids came months after clashes at Bhima-Koregaon in western India – where high-caste Hindus attacked an annual celebration by people of a lower caste.…

On Tuesday, police seized electronics, including phones and cameras, from activists and authors, saying in search warrants that they had “promoted enmity” and incited a mob of low-caste rioters in January. Stan Swamy, an octogenarian Jesuit priest, said police took his phone, computer, camera and audiocassettes and CDs of classical instrumental music. They asked him for the password to his email – which he refused to provide.…

The Bharatiya Janata Party “government is oppressing any voice that opposes it,” he said. “The right to dissent, a constitutional right, is being denied.” Suppression of dissent is increasingly common in India, with recent instances of censorship and intimidation of journalists. In the past year, India slipped two places in the World Press Freedom rankings.…



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Bhima-Koregaon violence: Why no UAPA charges against Hindutva leaders? ask activists (Aug 31, 2018, Mumbai Mirror)

Amid the outrage over slapping provisions of the anti-terror legislation Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against the five activists who were arrested on Tuesday as well as those taken into custody in June, many activists are questioning why Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Manohar ‘Sambhaji’ Bhide, accused of instigating the Bhima-Koregaon violence, have not been similarly charged.

UAPA has often been accused of being a “draconian law” that is used to silence dissidents. The day after the violence on January 1, an FIR was registered by Anita Sawale, a Pune resident, against Ekbote and Bhide. The two were booked for attempt to murder and rioting under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as provisions of the Arms Act and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, but investigation into the case has made little progress. Ekbote, who was named the prime accused, was arrested in March – after the Supreme Court slammed the state and the police for failing to do so – but he was promptly given bail the next month.…

Days after the first FIR, another was registered on January 9 by Tushar Damgude from a Pune against Elgar Parishad. Damgude had claimed to have heard inflammatory speeches at the conclave, which he alleged led to the violence. The activists arrested in June and on Tuesday were arrested on the basis of this FIR. Besides being charged under IPC, they were booked under several UAPA sections. Justice (retd) BG Kolse Patil, coorganiser of Elgar Parishad, alleged that the charges betray the investigators’ bias. “If Ekbote and Bhide are also accused of instigating the violence, why weren’t similar charges pressed against them? The state government had given the SC in writing that Ekbote was responsible for the violence,” he said.…



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Hindu right wing group Sanatan Sanstha planned blast at Pune Sunburn festival: Cops (Aug 29, 2018, Hindustan Times)

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday claimed in a special court that five recently arrested sympathisers of the Hindu right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha (it has distanced itself from them and said they are not its members) planned to plant explosives at last year’s edition of Sunburn, an annual electronic dance music festival in Pune.

All five were arrested earlier this month from Nalla Sopara, Pune and Jalna in connection with an arms case, and were remanded to ATS custody. Prosecutors appearing for the ATS made these assertions before a special court constituted to try Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act cases. On Tuesday, four of the five accused – Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanva Gondhalekar and Shrikant Pangarkar – were produced in court, with prosecutors seeking an extension of their custody. Special court judge Sameer Adkar extended their custody by seven days. The fifth accused, Avinash Pawar, will be produced in court on August 31.

ATS officials claimed in court that two of the accused – Gondhalekar and Raut – planned to attack the music festival scheduled in Pune for December 2017 because they felt it was “against Hindu culture”. Sunburn was held in Goa until 2015, and shifted to Pune in 2016. ATS also claimed that the five accused were involved in throwing petrol bombs outside cinema halls in Kalyan (a city in Thane district, 50 km north-east of Mumbai), and Belagavi (earlier known as Belgaum) in Karnataka for screening the Hindi movie ‘Padmaavat’. ATS further claimed that the accused planned to attack individuals who they thought were propagating or engaging in activity that was “against the Hindu religion”.…



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Police probe into Kasganj violence ‘grossly compromised’, Muslims were ‘selectively targeted’, claims report by activists (Aug 30, 2018, First Post)

Muslims were “selectively targeted” in the wake of the 26 January communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj and the police probe into the violence was “grossly compromised”, a report prepared by civil rights activists has alleged.

The report – Truth of Kasganj – released on Wednesday also alleged that there were “inconsistencies” in the police’s version of the violence, as documented in the two FIRs, and there were attempts to protect certain people. The activists also demanded a “high-level inquiry” into the clashes. Former IPS officer SR Darapuri, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey, lawyer Shoaib Mohammad and academician Apoorvanand released the report, which is based on a study of the police reports, first-person accounts of affected people, and on-ground visit.…

The activists concurred with the findings of the report that “Muslims were selectively targeted in the wake of the communal clashes”. They also alleged that there was “discriminatory delivery of justice” to favour and protect certain people, based on a “majoritarian agenda”. The report has been endorsed by a number of civil society groups from India and abroad – Alliance for Justice and Accountability, New York; Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai; Indian American Muslim Council, Washington DC; Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, New Delhi; Rihaee Manch, Lucknow; South Asia Solidarity Group, London, and United Against Hate, New Delhi, said Ajit Sahi, who worked on the report.…



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In UP’s Bareilly, 20-year-old allegedly lynched over suspicion of cattle theft (Aug 30, 2018, Indian Express)

A youth who was home from Dubai where he worked as a tailor was lynched in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district on suspicion that he had stolen a buffalo, police said today. Shahrukh, 20, was beaten to death last night in Bholapur Hadoliya village under the Cantt police station area here. Four people have been arrested, said Superintendent of Police (City) Abhinandan Singh.

Shahrukh and three others had gone out last night when a group of locals caught hold of them, suspecting that they had stolen a buffalo. He was thrashed by the group while his associates managed to escape, police said. He was admitted to hospital in a serious condition and later succumbed to injuries, Shahrukh worked in Dubai as tailor and had recently come home, Singh said.

According to the post-mortem examination, severe beating was the cause of death, the SP said. Both sides have lodged FIRs. Shahrukh’s brother has filed a complaint against 20-25 unnamed persons and three of his associates. The side which alleged buffalo theft have also lodged a case, the SP added.



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BJP MLA’s son threatens to shoot Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia (Sep 3, 2018, New Indian Express)

The son of a ruling BJP MLA has threatened to kill Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, if he went ahead with his visit to Hata town of Damoh district in Madhya Pradesh on September 5.

Princedeep Lalchandra Khatik, the son of Uma Khatik, the BJP MLA from Hata seat, posted his threat on the Facebook on Sunday. “Listen Jyotiraditya, you have the blood of erstwhile Gwalior ruler Jiwajirao, whose ancestors had helped the Britishers defeat and assassinate the Queen of Jhansi, Laxmibai. If you even tried to enter Hata town, I’ll shoot you. Either you’ll die, or me.”

With the Congress immediately reporting the matter to the Damoh police, Princedeep deleted the post within a few hours. The Damoh police registered a case under Sections 294 (obscene words/post), 504 (intentional insult intended to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC against Princedeep on Monday.…



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Yogi Adityanath Misleading People On Gorakhpur Tragedy, Says Dr Kafeel Khan (Aug 27, 2018, Outlook)

A day after Adityanath termed the death of children in Gorakhpur’s BRD hospital a result of institute’s “internal politics”, Dr Kafeel Khan on Monday accused the Uttar Pradesh chief minister of “doing politics” and “misleading people”, according to news agency ANI.

Almost a year after the deaths of scores of infants were reported from the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday said the incident may have been blown out of proportion due to the institute’s “internal politics”.

At the launch of a campaign related to the state nutrition mission programme here yesterday, Adityanath said that initially when he heard of the deaths, he was reminded of an incident where a reporter wrote an incorrect news item being not allowed to enter a ward by hospital workers.…



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65 Lok Sabha members, 29 Rajya Sabha members yet to declare assets: RTI (Sep 3, 2018, New Indian Express)

Sixty-five members of the Lok Sabha and 29 of the Rajya Sabha are yet to declare their assets and liabilities, a reply to a query under the RTI Act has revealed.

Out of the MPs belonging to the lower house, 61 have not furnished their details since 2014, while four recently came to the house through by-elections, the Lok Sabha secretariat said in a reply to activist Rachna Kalra, who had put a query under the Right to Information Act.

“As on August 14, 61 Members of 16th Lok Sabha have not yet furnished declarations of their ‘Assets and Liabilities as per the Members of Lok Sabha (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Rules, 2004’.…



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BJP stalls negative report on demonetisation drafted by parliament panel (Aug 28, 2018, India Today)

There will be no parliamentary critique of the shock decision to demonetise the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016. The Bharatiya Janata Party, using its majority in the parliamentary standing committee on finance, has derailed a discussion on or adoption of a report that criticised demonetisation as an “ill-conceived” exercise that “led to the lowering of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by at least 1 percentage point”.

The actions of the BJP members on the committee have saved the government the trouble of facing the report’s criticism of the demonetisation exercise. The standing committee on finance is headed by Congress leader and former union minister M Veerappa Moily. The committee, which includes eminent economists such as former prime minister Manmohan Singh, completed drafting its report on the demonetisation way back in March this year.

The scathing report ran into opposition from the committee’s BJP members from Day 1. On March 19, the BJP members rose in unison to reject the report. BJP’s Nishikant Dubey, who is known for his expertise on financial and business matters, submitted a dissent note against the report.…



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Asaram witness murder case: Another accused chargesheeted by UP police (Sep 1, 2018, New Indian Express)

Police have filed a charge sheet against one more accused in connection with the killing of Akhil Gupta, the prime witness in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram, police said.

The accused, who is still at large and goes by the aliases Rahul, Suraj and Ankit, was chargesheeted Friday, they said. Earlier, police initiated attachment proceedings under Section 83 of the CrPC against the accused, a resident of Sitapur, after he went absconding.

Two other accused – Kartik Haldar, who is the prime accused in the Akhil Gupta murder case, and Niraj – are in jail and were chargesheeted earlier. Gupta was shot dead here on January 11, 2015.…



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Opinions and Editorials

McCarthy moment? Pune police’s countrywide swoop on left wing activists rightly elicits outrage and legal challenge – Editorial (Aug 30, 2018, Times of India)

A lot appears amiss in the Pune police raids on seven activists and arrest of five of them for alleged Maoist links. For a major case leading to a nationwide swoop, the original FIR alleging cognisable offences was not lodged through discernible wrongdoing or intelligence inputs, but a private complaint by a right wing activist.

The December 31 Elgar Parishad organised by Left and Dalit groups happened right under the Pune police’s nose. That it could detect no wrongdoing then, until it went on an overdrive after the complaint from a political source does raise doubts.…

Yet the fear mongering cannot be ignored because it recalls the McCarthy era in 1950s America, when left wing activists were persecuted. Maharashtra police must follow the evidence rather than go overboard. Summoning the activists for questioning instead of making the arrests a spectacle would have been appropriate. Now it faces searching questions in Supreme Court and high courts after reducing due process to farce.



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The Truth Behind Crackdown on Human Rights Activists – By Subodh Varma (Aug 29, 2018, News Click)

The arrest of five human rights activists seems to be a misconceived attempt by the Pune police – with the sanction of the State Govt. – to divert the attention of people and media from its failure to diligently investigate and pin down the unfolding Hindu terror plot.

Recall that rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20 2013 and Left leader Govind Pansare on February 16, 2015 – both in Maharashtra. It was only recently that under pressure from the revelations that came out of investigation into Gauri Lankesh’s murder in 2017 that the 5-6 state shadowy network of Hindu fundamentalist organisations responsible for these (and Kalburgi’s murder in 2015) and the Supreme Court’s intervention that investigations picked up in Maharashtra. Even then, the Pune police was dragging its feet with Karnataka police asking them to take the whole thing more seriously.

But it is not just about the police in one place trying to cover its flanks by dangling a red herring. It reeks of a larger conspiracy sanctioned by political higher ups to divert attention of the country which has been watching the saga of Sanathan Sansthan and its affiliates, with more and more evidence piling up of its violent and terrorist activities.…



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India replaced its currency to wipe out illegal money stashes. Now the central bank says it didn’t work. – By Vidhi Doshi (Aug 28, 2018, Washington Post)

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the replacement of 80 percent of India’s cash in 2016, he sparked a currency crisis that led to huge job losses and stalled growth as it hit India’s vast informal sector. For months, people lined up at banks and ATMs – sometimes for more than eight hours – to withdraw limited amounts of cash to pay bills or buy daily groceries.

Their troubles were a sacrifice for the nation, Modi said at the time. Old notes would be handed back to the banks, and the vast reserves of untaxed “black money” being used for dodgy deals among fat-cat businessmen, dirty politicians and Pakistani terrorists would be invalidated in one fell swoop.

Now, newly released data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) shows that 99.3 percent of high-value notes in circulation – worth about $216 billion – came back to the banks. That means that those illicit hoards that the government was hoping to flush out of the system were not in the form of cash and are still out there.…



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Foreign Funds Can Be Accepted For Political Parties, But Not for Disaster-Hit Kerala – By P.D.T. Achary (Aug 29, 2018, The Wire)

The Central government seems to have finally decided not to accept any foreign aid to help Kerala, which is facing the aftermath of a terrible disaster, the likes of which it has not faced in the past nearly 100 years. The entire country is helping the state with money and essential materials. The Malayali diaspora has rushed in with massive aid. All this and more is definitely helping the state government meet the requirements of food, clothes, medicines, sanitary items etc. for nearly ten lakh people who are living in various relief camps.

However, the government needs a massive amount to rebuild the state – roads, bridges, buildings, houses all have collapsed in most parts of Kerala, which has faced excessive rainfall, floods and landslides. The state government has estimated the loss at Rs 21,000 crore – the amount may increase once the extent of the damage becomes clear. The monetary assistance received from the Centre currently stands at Rs 600 crore and it’s not yet clear how much more it will give. Past experience indicates the likelihood of a mismatch between the amount demanded and what is actually given. If this happens, the southern state is looking at great suffering in the coming months.

In this context, the issue of foreign aid for disaster relief assumes importance. Unfortunately, it has acquired political overtones. Offers have come from the UN, Japan, UAE and even Pakistan, but Centre’s refusal has put a doubt over the quick rehabilitation of people in disaster-hit Kerala.…



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Open letter to Modiji: Forget ‘jumle baazi’, it’s time for SWOT analysis before 2019 elections – By Rama Moorty (Aug 28, 2018, IB Times)

…You had come to power on the plank of ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas. This was something in the league of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ and Indiraji’s ‘Garibi Hatao’. This is the time for you to take honest stock of your actual achievements and correct the shortcomings.…

As the next Lok Sabha Polls are fast approaching, it is time for you to do an honest S(Strengths), W(Weaknesses), O(Opportunities) and T(Threats) analysis of the actual performance of your government – and not indulge in mere ‘jumle baazi’ as your critics have been accusing you of. Some of the areas which may cause you some discomfort in 2019 are:

(a) Uncertainty About Fuel Prices. We common citizens are in constant dread about the next dose of hikes. Your government says that the issue of not bringing petroleum products under GST was decided by the previous government. Can you take shelter behind such a logic?…



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Why Mirchpurs happen in a ‘civil’ society – By Jagmati Sangwan (Sep 2, 2018, The Tribune)

A Dalit athlete is thrashed and his leg fractured. His fault? He has defeated athletes from the upper caste. A young girl and a police officer, deputed to protect her, are murdered in broad daylight. Why? Because she married a Dalit. Many lives are lost after Dalit localities in Gohana, Mirchpur, and more, are set ablaze by members of the upper caste.

The question is: Why such violent incidents are on the rise, especially at a time when tall claims of progress are being made? The reasons often cited for this appear to be trivial prima facie. For instance, someone from a Scheduled Caste has offended some high up of an upper caste. But, actually, the scenario is symptomatic of some deep-rooted chronic malady at the level of our society. For curing it, we need to understand its dynamics and interlinkages in the present context.

As far as its roots are concerned, we need to bring in a development model adopted after independence in the country. One of the popular slogans of our freedom movement “Dhan aur dharti bant ke rahegi, raat andheri kat ke rahegi” was envisaged to be transformed into practice, majorly through drastic steps like land reforms, Hindu Code Bill, etc. This was, of course, along with interventions in relation to the Dalits and women.…



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Book Review

Republic of Caste: Thinking Equality in the Time of Neoliberal Hindutva

Author: Anand Teltumbde
Reviewed by: Sobhana K. Nair
Available at: Navayana Publishing Pvt Ltd, 155, Second Floor, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi 110049 . https://www.amazon.in/
Republic of Caste review: Division bell (Sep 1, 2018, The Hindu)

On Tuesday, probing the alleged Maoist involvement in the Elgaar Parishad meeting in Pune on December 31, 2017, that led to violence, the police searched homes of nine human rights activists and lawyers and arrested five of them. The list included author Anand Teltumbde whose home on campus premises at the Goa Institute of Management, where he is a senior professor, was raided.

In this context, it is eerily prescient that Teltumbde writes in his book Republic of Caste that “Naxalite ideology, whatever that may be holds no terror for the state, but the simple fact of dissent does.” His book is an angry outburst on living the caste reality for 71 years after the birth of India.

What sets his book apart from other tomes on Dalit writing is that it is not a compilation of the movement. It doesn’t even evaluate commitment towards the Dalit cause of various political parties. Instead, it directly engages with readers prodding them to look at current developments from the Swacch Bharat Mission, to the state of education or the campaign against so-called urban Maoists, through the prism of caste.…



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