IAMC Weekly News Digest – January 28th, 2019

In this issue of IAMC News Digest


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Indian-Americans celebrate Republic Day across US with pledges to uphold the Constitution and combat hate

(Participate in our Republic Day Contest)

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, marked India’s 70th Republic Day on Saturday January 26, 2019, with celebrations at chapters across the United States.

This year’s Republic Day celebrations continue in a tradition IAMC has established over the last 17 years of celebrating the adoption of India’s Constitution and its fundamental emphasis on pluralism and equality before the law for people of all faiths.

At the chapter event in South Brunswick., NJ, board member Mr. Jawad Mohammed remarked, “The Constitution of India was shaped by the diverse nature of India; its diversity of languages, religions, and ethnic communities. Thus, with its adoption, India became a sovereign, secular, democratic Republic and its foundations of liberty, justice and equality became integrated into the fabric of the nation. It is truly an extraordinary document.”

Mr. Mohammed also drew attention to the fact that the Constitution of India was under a sustained attack on account of the shrinking space for religious freedom of minorities and human rights violations of minorities, “lower castes” and women.

The commemoration in Dallas was held at Fun Asia in Richardson, TX. IAMC-Dallas President Rahmath Baig said “We hold the constitutions of both the United States and India in high regard as Indian-Americans, and have a duty to preserve the ideals of both.” Richardson, TX, Mayor Mark Soloman, and City Councilman Bob Doobay were also in attendance. Councilman Doobay expressed his felicitations on the 70th Republic Day celebrations as well as his appreciation for the Indian American Muslim Council promoting peace, equality and a commitment to uphold civil liberties.

IAMC-Dallas member Arshad Qawi noted, “We are extremely proud of our Indian heritage. India is blessed to have a constitution which protects basic civil liberties and secular principles. Unfortunately the socio-political environment in India today is marked by an unprecedented level of intolerance and religious bigotry. It’s imperative upon all of us as responsible members of the diaspora, to get involved and make a concerted effort to promote peace and social justice for all.”

The events included fun activities for children including a Drawing Competition, as well as Fancy Dress and Spot Quiz Contests based on Indian themes. The US national anthem was followed by the national anthem of India.

Speaking on the theme for the occasion “Strength in diversity,” IAMC Vice President, Syed Afzal Ali, said “we gather today to recommit ourselves to the founding principles of the Constitution of liberty, equality and justice for all. We want to leave the world better for our children and that requires us to push back against the tide of hate and destruction and continue to build bridge of unity and hope. As Indian Americans dedicated to pluralism and human rights, we have a double reason to celebrate the founding of the Indian Republic. IAMC’s Republic Day celebrations are an expression of profound appreciation for the ideals of justice, pluralism and democracy – the shared values of India and the United States.”

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

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Indian American Muslim Council
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US-based ‘cyber expert’ alleges 2014 General Elections were rigged, makes other sensational claims (Jan 21, 2019, Scroll.in)

A United States-based “cyber expert”, who claims he was part of a team that designed the electronic voting machines used in India, told a press conference in London on Monday that the 2014 General Elections had been rigged. He also claimed that BJP leader Gopinath Munde and journalist Gauri Lankesh had been murdered to cover up the alleged manipulation of the machines.…

Syed Shuja, who addressed a press briefing in London via videoconferencing, claimed that he could demonstrate how the voting machines can be hacked, The Quint reported.… Shuja, who claimed that he worked for Electronics Corporation of India Ltd from 2009 to 2014, said that he and his team realised in April 2014 that “signals were being emitted” from the machines used in the General Elections. The BJP hacked the machines using a modulator which transmits military-grade frequency, he alleged.

Shuja claimed that when he and his team went to meet BJP leaders in Hyderabad in 2014, hoping to question them about the supposed EVM tampering, they were shot at. Shuja claimed that he was injured, and his colleagues were killed. A communal incident was “arranged” in Hyderabad to cover up the incident, he alleged. After this, Shuja said he fled India and sought asylum in the United States.…



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Kasganj Roundabout to be Renamed After Man Whose ‘Tiranga Yatra’ Triggered Communal Strife (Jan 27, 2019, News Click)

The Uttar Pradesh government on January 26 conferred honour to the father of 19-year-old Chandan Gupta who was shot dead while leading an unauthorised ‘Tiranga Yatra’ that led to communal violence exactly a year ago on the Republic Day in Kasganj, western Uttar Pradesh.

State minister Suresh Pasi, along with District Magistrate RP Singh and Superintendent of Police Ashok Kumar, paid homage to the deceased, describing him a “honahar yuva” (talented youth), and conferred honour to his father Sushil Gupta in an official celebrations of the 70th Republic Day organised at Kasganj police lines. “We have decided to rename a roundabout within city limits as ‘Chandan Chowk’.…

Notably, the controversial Tiranga rally had triggered a communal violence last year after motorbike-borne youth forcibly tried to pass through a Muslim-concentrated locality – Baddu Nagar – near Bilram Gate, chanting objectionable slogans.… Chandan was an active member of a local group Sankalp Foundation, which allegedly played a key role in instigating the communal strife.…



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Hindu group linked to India’s ruling BJP praises British colonialism (Jan 23, 2019, TRT World)

India’s founding fathers, from Mahatma Gandhi to Jawaharlal Nehru, are known the world over for fighting British colonialism and winning freedom for India. But not every Indian thinks like that. Ever since the rise of Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nehru bashing has become all too common, and even Gandhi’s killer, Nathuram Godse, is being hailed as a hero.

On Tuesday, a Hindu nationalist group called Hindu Sena, which is affiliated to the BJP, staged a demonstration in Delhi to commemorate Queen Victoria on the 118th anniversary of her death. Hindu Sena also declared that Queen Victoria was the first soldier to free India from the ‘tyranny’ of the Mughal Sultanate.

“Britishers contributed for our first independence from foreign terrorists, tyrants, and ended hundreds of years of Islamic rule, that was our first independence in true sense,” said 33-year-old Hindu Sena founder Vishnu Gupta. The leader said British colonial rule controlled Mughal-era princely states by combining them into one entity, arguing: “How we can call the rule of Britishers as slavery?”…



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West Bengal: Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Christian refugees ‘need not be afraid’, says Amit Shah (Jan 23, 2019, Scroll.in)

Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah on Tuesday said that Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Christian refugees in West Bengal “need not be afraid”, because the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill proposes to grant them citizenship. He also accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of misleading people on the National Register of Citizens, The Indian Express reported.

“They [TMC] are very fond of infiltrators,” Shah said at a rally in Malda district. “To expel the infiltrators, NRC was brought but they misled the people of Bengal by saying that Bengalis will be driven out. I want to assure all refugees living in Bengal – Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh – that they need not be afraid.”

“Whether the person is a Buddhist, Sikh or Christian, no one will be left out,” the BJP chief said. “Those who have been oppressed and have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh will be granted citizenship by the Narendra Modi government.”…



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Congress objects to PM’s use of state machinery for ‘furthering political agenda’ (Jan 22, 2019, Times of India)

The Congress on Monday raised strong objections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s use of state machinery and resources for allegedly furthering his political agenda to “abuse” the opposition. Senior party spokesperson Anand Sharma dubbed Modi BJP’s “principal propagandist” and accused him of misleading people through his “hollow and false” promises. He claimed Modi had brought the level of discourse in the country to “gutter level”.

Raising objections to the Prime Minister spending public money at programmes where he attacks the opposition, the Congress leader called upon the Election Commission to take note of it. “There are questions to be asked of this Prime Minister. We have strong objection to what he has said in the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas today. He has been misleading the people of India, but it was a shocking list of boastful claims typical of Shri Narendra Modi Ji,” he told reporters.

Sharma claimed that around Rs 6,000 crore were spent on his propaganda that included huge spending by PSUs in taking out advertisements of the Modi government. The Congress leader said if one went by Modi’s claims, India came to be recognised only after he became the Prime Minister and thus there were questions to be asked from him.…



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BJP is working on a hidden agenda, Jharkhand government is using development funds to build party base, it’s a huge scam: Hemant Soren (Jan 23, 2019, Sabrang India)

Former Chief Minister of Jharkhand and Leader of Opposition Hemant Soren in an exclusive interview to eNewsroom made major allegation of scam being run by Raghubar Das led Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in Jharkhand.

On January 17, when leaders from all the opposition parties of Jharkhand met for the first time at his Ranchi residence to discuss about the future of the Mahagatbandhan, the Jharkhand Mukhti Morcha (JMM) leader not just talked about his recently concluded Sangharsh Yatra (third phase), how BJP is saving its MLA accused of sexual harassment and extortion, him accepting the BJP challenge to debate on Mandal Dam and how the GDP of Jharkhand was better during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand in comparison to the present Raghubar Das led BJP government.

Following are excerpts from the conversation: eNewsroom: What was the purpose of your Sangharsh yatra in Jharkhand? Hemant:… through this we wanted to meet the common man and tell them about the anti- people work being done by the present government and also how we had performed when we were in power.…



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First 16 months of Yogi Adityanath govt: Over 3,000 encounters, 78 killed (Jan 25, 2019, Indian Express)

The UP state police, in the first 16 months of the Yogi Adityanath government, recorded more than 3,000 encounters in which at least 78 criminals were gunned down. Yogi Adityanath took charge as chief minister on March 19, 2017. An official in the DGP office said the data in question was recorded between March 2017 and July 2018.

The figure of encounters, the killing of criminals, and arrests has made it to a list of government achievements to be publicised on Republic Day in the state. UP Chief Secretary Anup Chandra Pandey has sent the communication to all districts magistrates ahead of Republic Day with a list of the achievements of the government.

The letter says a statewide campaign was being run to arrest wanted criminals for an effective control on crime. As per the letter, there were 3,026 encounters till July 2018. In these encounters, 69 criminals were gunned down, 7,043 criminals were arrested, and 838 criminals sustained injuries. The letter claims that in the same period, 11,981 criminals had their bail canceled and surrendered in courts.…



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BJP’s Political Calculations Behind Bharat Ratna To Pranab Mukherjee, Bhupen Hazarika (Jan 26, 2019, Outlook)

Pranab Mukherjee, former president of India, has been awarded the Bharat Ratna. The government of India has also decided to confer the Bharat Ratna on Bhupen Hazarika (posthumously) and Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously). Mukherjee becomes the sixth Bengali (after Dr. B C Roy, Aruna Asaf Ali, Satyajit Ray, Ravi Shankar and Amartya Sen) to receive the highest civilian honour.…

The octogenarian leader from Bengal, with his long and successful political career, is no doubt a deserving candidate for this award. But the decision might be viewed differently in the backdrop of upcoming general elections.…

It’s difficult to not notice the timing of the 2019 Bharat Ratna awards. BJP has made it known to everybody that ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, their focus is on east and northeast India. By honouring Mukherjee, the BJP might expect a positive response from the people of West Bengal, where they need a Bengal icon to attract voters.…



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PM Modi “Desperate” To Appoint “Pliant” CBI Director: Congress Leader (Jan 22, 2019, NDTV)

Ahead of the January 24 meeting of the high-powered committee on selection of CBI director, the Congress said Monday the process should be transparent and appointment based on merit and seniority. Senior spokesperson of the Congress Anand Sharma said any officer against whom there are question marks or any kind of charges should not be considered for empanelment as that would be “a gross miscarriage of justice”.

He alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “desperate” to select and appoint a “pliant” CBI Director to “buy future protection for all kinds of acts of omission and commission of his government”.

The former union minister said it is imperative that all matters that were considered by the Supreme Court when the new process of the appointment of CBI Director was introduced, are followed.…



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Ayodhya hearing on January 29 cancelled due to Justice Bobde’s ‘non-availability’ (Jan 27, 2019, The Hindu)

The Supreme Court on Sunday put out a notice that the Constitution Bench hearing the Ayodhya title suit appeals will not be sitting on January 29 as one of the judges, Justice S.A. Bobde, is not available on the day.

The one-paragraph notice said the Constitution Bench is cancelled on January 29 due to the “non-availability” Justice Bobde.

The notice has not mentioned a future date for hearing the Ayodhya case. It could be that one of the appellants may mention the case before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and seek a future date for hearing.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Republic of unfreedom – By Suhas Palshikar (Jan 26, 2019, Indian Express)

It is customary to celebrate Republic Day with a display of state might. When the practice began, there must have been a benign hope that the state represents the people and also takes it upon itself to strengthen the essence of citizenship – personal liberties. The irony behind this is two-fold. One, it sidetracks the essence of democracy – the power of citizens. Two, the state often turns out to be the main threat to citizen power.

This irony gets grotesquely represented through current happenings within the republic. The new year began with the determination of the state to employ two different legal instruments to handle views the establishment abhors. Sedition law is invoked to implicate JNU students and action against activist-intellectual Anand Teltumbde advances on the basis of UAPA.…

Beyond the lament, a critical question stares us in the face. How do we reconcile the democratic enthusiasm of large sections of the citizenry with a pathetic acceptance of state power that jeopardises the democratic spirit?…



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Bengal and Bhadralok: What the BJP Hopes to Get Out of Bharat Ratna for Pranab Mukherjee – By Pallavi Ghosh (Jan 26, 2019, News18.com)

…what’s the message the government is trying to send with the country’s highest civilian honour for Pranab Mukherjee? One, the BJP is sure to make the point someday that Mukherjee best epitomises the ‘Congress culture’ where merit doesn’t find a place. Second, that the Congress never valued him but the BJP did, an argument the saffron party has pushed as far as Sardar Patel is concerned.

Even to nominate Mukherjee for president’s job, Sonia had to buckle under pressure. And despite years of uneasy ties, even Mamata Banerjee could not say no to a fellow Bengali, even though she had earlier decided to support Mulayam Singh Yadav’s choice of Manmohan Singh as president.

The BJP hopes to make this its trump card in Bengal where it wants to make a mark in upcoming elections. By honouring a Bengali with the Bharat Ratna, it hopes to endear itself to the bhadralok. The PM has himself spared no chance to praise Mukherjee and enjoys a good equation with him despite the latter having been a career Congressman.…



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In UP, Hate Crimes Are Forcing People to Leave Home In Search Of Safety – By Kunal Purohit (Jan 25, 2019, The Wire)

…The lynching, and the happenings before and after, convinced Ahmad and his family that they had no option but to leave. Ahmad, along with all three of his brothers and their families, left the village in May 2018, exactly a year after Mohammed’s death.

Mohammed’s lynching was among the numerous hate crimes recorded from UP in Hate Crime Watch, a database of religious identity-based hate crimes across India from 2009 to 2018. India’s most populous state, UP accounts for the largest number of such crimes in the database.

This story is the fourth of our six-part series… based on reporting from the site of many of these crimes, which found numerous families who have left their villages in the aftermath of a hate crime, hoping to find safety elsewhere and start life again. In interviews, people spoke of fear as well as a newfound suspicion of neighbours, friends and acquaintances, which had compelled them to keep their final destination secret. Many cited inadequate police support as a reason, too.…



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Modi’s Politics of ‘Soft Power’ in times of Hard Realities of the Indian Diaspora – By K M Seethi (Jan 22, 2019, Countercurrents)

Even as the general elections are round the corner, the Narendra Modi Government makes it a point to use religion and culture as effective tools to sustain itself in power, beyond 2019. This is done in an orchestrated manner deploying strategies of both ‘soft power’ and ‘hard power’ in the domestic, regional and international settings.

The latest in a series of strategies is the way the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is organised, that too in Modi’s electoral constituency in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, on the eve of Kumbh Mela, one of the largest Hindu pilgrimages, further linking it with the Republic day of India on 26 January. Politics as a ‘performing soft power art’ will be this year’s ‘Diaspora Mela’ in India.…

However, the BJP-led NDA Government decided to dispense with the MOIA and made ‘Overseas Indian Affairs’ as part of the MEA. Though Prime Minister Modi visited the GCC countries and signed several agreements and contracts during the last few years, he did not show any serious attention to the problems of the Indian diaspora in the Gulf.…



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The Constitutional Case against the Citizenship Amendment Bill – By M Mohsin Alam Bhat (Jan 19, 2019, EPW)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 under the shadow of immense opposition and protest. The proposed amendment seeks to make non-Muslim illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh eligible for citizenship. While its fate in the Rajya Sabha may be uncertain, there is a lurking possibility of it coming into effect as an ordinance.

Even before its introduction in Parliament, the central government had started taking small and discreet steps towards its operationalisation.… The central government has insisted that this law is necessary to protect “persecuted minorities” in India’s international neighbourhood.

In this article, I shall argue that the proposed amendment and the gamut of executive orders leading up to it are unconstitutional because they fail the constitutional standard of rationality, and for being manifestly arbitrary.…



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What India’s experience with secularism can teach Europe about Muslim minorities – By Joerg Friedrichs (Jan 24, 2019, The Wire)

…For many centuries, Hindus and Muslims in India have mostly coexisted peacefully – unlike Europe, where almost any minority was at a risk of persecution until two or three generations ago. But Hindu-Muslim relations have sometimes descended into deadly violence on a horrific scale.… In recent months, people have again mobilised around a contested temple and mosque site at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, which was also at the heart of troubles in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Riots in Gujarat in 2002 were particularly bloody. While riots have claimed fewer victims in recent years, other incidents of communal violence, such as “beef lynchings” of people accused of killing cows, remain an issue. Despite such violence, Muslims have remained an integral part of India even after the separation of Pakistan. Today, India has a stable Muslim minority of more than 14%.…

To find out what if anything Europeans can learn from Hindu-Muslim relations in India, I have interviewed Indians from diverse backgrounds covering the entire political spectrum, from politicians to social activists and from the middle class to slum dwellers. There are two warnings emerging from my research. One warning is that majorities should resist the lure of narcissism.…



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Book Review

Minority Politics, Ideology and Mission

Author: M.I. Thanghal
Reviewed by: Udinoor Mohammed Kunhi
Available at: Grace Books, Malappuram. https://www.amazon.in/
Fostering upliftment of Indian Muslims is the essence of Thanghal’s new book (Jan 21, 2019, Twocircles.net)

…India’s booming economy has left the nation’s largest minority group lagging behind. Muslims experience low literacy and high poverty rates, prone to many communal violences now vulnerable to lynching & dissemination of fake news and marginalization, the right wing in power now in India is in an ideological war with the community that which ensured active participation and sacrifices in independence movement to oust the British Imperialists out of country.

Many political experiments to empower Muslim minorities were tried in many parts of India since independence, but the best out of them was ingrained in the state of Kerala without generating hate speeches & grudges among majority community.…

M.I. Thangal, a prominent writer & Columnist of Kerala, proclaims through this book ‘Minority Politics, Ideology & Mission’ the importance of own political party for Indian Muslims, emphasizes political stance of Muslim minority in a plural society. Theoretically and practically analyses issues faced by the community, imparts guidelines and offers solutions to their problems.…


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