IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 23rd, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Acquittals in Mecca Masjid blast and Naroda Patia massacre a travesty of justice say Indian Americans

‘Justice should be d’Justice should be delivered to the victim families so that their faith in judiciary is restored’

Washington D.C Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has strongly condemned the acquittal of accused in 2007 Mecca Masjid attack and 2002 Naroda Patia massacre case and termed it a travesty of justice.

On April 16, five accused linked to extremist Hindutva organizations, including self-confessed perpetrator Swami Aseemanand, were acquitted by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Hyderabad. Under tremendous pressure from fellow Hindutva fanatics, Aseemanand retracted his confession about his role in the bomb blast which claimed nine lives and wounded 58 others.

Separately, on April 20, in a shocking judgement, the Gujarat High Court acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, who was convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case, in which 97 people, mostly women and children were cruelly massacred. Ms. Kodnani was termed the “kingpin” of the gruesome crime by the special fast-track court when it convicted her in 2012 and sentenced her to 28 years in prison.

In both cases, survivors and families of victims have deplored the verdict and plan to appeal the judgements.

“The acquittal of accused in both the cases, despite incontrovertible evidence and confessions, represents a failure of the judiciary in upholding the rule of law,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC.

On one hand, cases involving BJP and right wing leaders and their associates’ like Amit Shah, Aseemanand, Maya Kodnani, DG Vanzara etc. are increasingly resulting in acquittals, on the other hand, the victims of Muzaffarnagar riots, families of dozens of Muslims lynched by cow terrorists and killed in hate crimes are being denied justice through delayed trials, quick approval of bail, or judgements that outrightly fly in the face of reason, logic and basic norms of justice.

The killers of Pehlu Khan as well as the infamous Colonel Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, both accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case were granted bail last year despite facing stringent terror charges. Yogi Adityanath, accused in dozens of cases of rioting and murder, has now directed all cases against himself to be withdrawn, after his rise in the BJP culminated in his elevation to the post of Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Exacerbating the situation are endemic issues with the Indian judicial system, widely acknowledged as being among the most resource-starved in the world. Indian courts have a backlog of 30 million cases, four million of which are being adjudicated in its 24 high courts, while sixty thousand cases remain pending in the federal Supreme Court which has only 31 judges.

“The rampant abuse of political power in a way that aims to shield the culprits, in the context of a judicial system that is not equipped to deliver justice, demonstrates the culture of impunity that has taken hold in India,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan. “This is why the international community needs to take notice of the rapidly declining state of human rights and religious freedom in India,” he added.

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: http://iamc.com/










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Gujarat riots: India court overturns Maya Kodnani conviction (Apr 20, 2018, BBC)

An Indian court has overturned the conviction of a senior BJP party member who was sentenced to 28 years in jail for her part in the murder of 97 people in the 2002 Gujarat religious riots. Maya Kodnani, a former state minister, was the most senior figure convicted.

She was among 32 convicts who had appealed to the Gujarat high court against their 2012 sentences. Thirty others received life sentences for their part in the riots in Naroda Patiya, a suburb of Ahmedabad.

The high court however upheld the sentence of Babu Bajrangi, a former leader of the right-wing Hindu group Bajrang Dal, who was condemned to remain in jail until he dies.… Correspondents said her conviction was an embarrassment for Mr Modi who elevated her to ministerial office in 2007 despite being aware that her role in the riots was being investigated.



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Mecca Masjid blast – is there a pattern to ‘Hindu terror’ acquittals or has justice prevailed? (Apr 16, 2018, The Print)

…I remember I was among the first to reach the scene after the blast in May 2007.… The police picked up and took into custody nearly one hundred young Muslims. In many cases, the families were not even aware till much later where the youth were being kept and questioned. It was as though the investigators were hoping that questioning so many would yield them some leads. There were allegations of torture, of people being coerced to give confessions. Subsequently, they were booked, not for the Mecca Masjid blast case but in several other random cases of conspiracy or watching videotapes of Gujarat with the alleged intention of creating trouble.…

Then came Aseemanand’s confession in a very dramatic turn of events. Tales of how he had met Abdul Kaleem inside jail did the rounds. Kaleem had been allegedly picked up for a crime he did not commit. Aseemanand is said to have had a change of heart and confessed. That too was later retracted. The idea of ‘Hindu terrorism’ surfaced at that point. In the course of a botched-up investigation, witnesses turned hostile and now 11 years later, all the accused have been acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Not only do the people not have any closure about who bombed the Masjid, they will lose faith in the entire justice system because of a possibly shoddy investigation and inability to collect material evidence. It calls to question the way the investigation was conducted and the trial proceeded. To say now that there is nothing called ‘Hindu terror’ is to send out a message that terrorists in India come from only one community. This is a massive setback for the premier terrorism investigation agency in the country, the NIA. It puts a question mark on the quality and integrity of the agency.



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There is no hope left, everything seems managed, judge Loya’s family members say (Apr 19, 2018, The Print)

Family members of the late special CBI judge B.H. Loya said Thursday’s Supreme Court decision rejecting the demand for an independent investigation into his death had extinguished their hopes of closure and “everything seemed managed”.… “The judgment is not as per our expectations. There are a number of unanswered questions,” said Srinivas Loya, the uncle of the judge.…

Anuradha Biyani, the sister of the judge, echoed that sentiment. “Kya bolun ab (What should I say)?” said Biyani. “Jo ek vishwas tha woh bhi ab nahi hain. Kuch bolne ke jaisa rakha hi nahi hain chaar saal se ab kisi ne. (There is no hope left. For the past four years, we have been left with nothing to say).”

Judge Loya was conducting the trial into the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shiekh, in which BJP chief Amit Shah was an accused, when he died on 1 December 2014, while in Nagpur for the wedding of a colleague’s daughter. After Loya’s death, judge M.B. Gosavi took over the trial. Shah and several other key accused were subsequently discharged, a month after Loya’s death.…



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Prime Minister Narendra Modi confronted by angry protests in London (Apr 18, 2018, Mumbai Mirror)

Hundreds of noisy protesters greeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he arrived in London on Wednesday, demonstrating over a rising tide of sexual violence at home including two particularly brutal rapes.

Holding placards reading “Modi go home” and “we stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed,” they gathered outside Downing Street and parliament as Modi arrived for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.…

Modi, a Hindu nationalist, is a divisive figure in India and his second trip to Britain as Prime Minister represents a remarkable turnaround for a man who was once banned from the UK over his alleged role, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, in riots that killed about 1,000 people in 2002.…



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Death penalty ordinance meant to “cover up” BJP supporters of Kathua, Unnao rape perpetrators: International NGOs (Apr 24, 2018, Counterview)

At least two top international non-profits, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Save the Children (StC), have asked Indian parliament not to adopt into law the recent ordinance which introduces capital punishment for those convicted of raping a girl under 12.”

“With this populist call, the government wants to cover up the fact that its supporters may have engaged in a hate crime”, said Meenakshi Ganguly of the HRW. “Death Penalty is not the answer,” added StC’s Bidisha Pillai.…

In a statement, HRW said, “India should work towards abolishing the death penalty which is inherently cruel and irreversible, with little evidence that it serves as a deterrent”, adding, “The government passed the ordinance on April 21 following widespread protests after attempts by some leaders and supporters of the ruling BJP to defend Hindu perpetrators of the abduction, ill-treatment, rape, and murder of an 8-year-old Muslim child in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).”…



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Gorakhpur hospital tragedy: Kafeel Khan writes letter from jail, says he ‘did everything a doctor should’ (Apr 23, 2018, First Post)

In the aftermath of the Gorkhpur hospital tragedy in August 2017, Dr Kafeel Khan was hailed in the media as a hero for arranging oxygen cylinders and preventing many deaths. Eight months later, Khan has written a disheartened letter from jail, claiming that he has been made a ‘scapegoat’ for an administrative failure.…

His letter from jail was released to the media on Saturday by his wife Shabista in Delhi, according to several media reports. According to a report The Indian Express, the letter reads, “The moment I got that WhatsApp message on that fateful night, I did everything a doctor, a father, a responsible citizen of India would/should do.” He added that he tried to save each and every life.

Khan’s letter also recounts his encounter with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath after the tragedy. As per a report in The Wire, he described the meeting in this manner – “He asked, ‘So you are Dr Kafeel? You arranged the cylinders?'” “‘Yes sir.'” “He got angry, ‘So you think by arranging cylinders you became a hero? I will see it'”.…



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With 490% spike in hate speeches under Modi, 90% by BJP leaders, perpetrators are promoted to key posts: Report (Apr 18, 2018, Counterview)

In an unusual exercise, a premier national TV news channel, NDTV, has estimated that there has been a 490% spike in hate speeches over the last four years of the Narendra Modi government. Collated from public record and analysed by Nimish Jaiswal, Sreenivas Jain and Manas Pratap Singh, their analysis is based on 1,300 articles and their cross references such as Documentation of the Oppressed and Amnesty International’s Halt the Hate Tracker, and recent tweets.

Defining hate speech as statements that are “clearly communal, casteist, or calls to violence”, the report focuses two time periods – the four years from 2014 until now of the Modi government, and the five years from 2009 to 2014, under the second Congress-led United Progressive Alliance. The data, it says, suggest that, “from May 2014 to the present, there have been 124 instances of VIP hate speech by 44 politicians, compared to 21 instances under UPA 2, an increase of 490%”.

The report says, “90% of hateful comments made during the NDA’s current terms are by BJP politicians”, adding, “During the NDA period, a total of 44 political leaders made hateful comments. Of them, 34 politicians, or 77%, are from the BJP. 10 leaders, or 23% of the offenders, are from other political parties, including the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.”…



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Rohingya camp fire in Delhi: BJP youth wing leader tweets he did it, Prashant Bhushan files complaint (Apr 20, 2018, Indian Express)

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan on Thursday filed a complaint against Bharatiya Janata Party youth wing leader Manish Chandela, who openly accepted on social networking platform Twitter to burning the Rohingya refugee camps in the national capital earlier this month.

Bhushan was also miffed with the Delhi Police for not taking any action against the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) leader. The advocate, in a tweet, said, “No action yet by Delhi Police to register a case and arrest him and no action by BJP to remove him from the party. State of rule of law under BJP.”

While Chandela has deleted his Twitter account following backlash and intense call for action from various groups, including All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), Bhushan, in his complaint, attached the screenshots of the tweet wherein Chandela claimed to have set the fire in the Rohingya camp.…



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‘Cancelled Ola Ride as Driver Was Muslim,’ Tweets Man Followed by Ministers, Gets Roasted (Apr 22, 2018, News18.com)

A Twitter post by a man who claims to be associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has gone viral and has triggered a huge debate after he claimed that he had cancelled his Ola cab ride because the driver assigned to him was Muslim.

Abhishek Mishra, who describes himself as a ‘Hindutva thinker’, said that he had cancelled the cab ride on April 20 because he did not want to give his money to ‘Jihadi’ people. Along with the tweet, he attached a screenshot of the cancelled cab ride, which showed that the name of the driver was Masood Alam.…

Mishra, who has a verified Twitter handle, has over 14,000 followers on the platform, including defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, minister for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan and minister of culture Mahesh Sharma.… Soon after the he tweeted, many on social media asked him to also stop buying fuel as it is imported from the Middle East and also asked Ola to ban him from its platform.



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Chennai Journalists stage protest against BJP leader S Ve Shekher’s derogatory post (Apr 20, 2018, New Indian Express)

Journalists of Tamil Nadu’s Chennai city on Friday staged a protest near state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office against party leader S Ve Shekher’s derogatory post shared on social media against a woman journalist. Shekher on April 19 shared a Facebook post but later removed it with an apology.

Meanwhile, state journalist fraternities lodged a police complaint against Shekher’s derogatory post stating that “it is not only defaming a journalist but is also derogatory to all woman”. Earlier in the day, Shekher tendered an apology for his derogatory remark in the same case.

Shekher in a statement said that he posted the remark on the social media site without reading it. “I had posted it without reading the message. It was removed immediately after my friend pointed it out. If I had hurt anyone, it was not on purpose and I extend my heartfelt apology,” Shekher said.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Modi’s Long Silence as Women in India Are Attacked – Editorial (Apr 16, 2018, New York Times)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India tweets frequently and considers himself a talented orator. Yet he loses his voice when it comes to speaking out about the dangers faced by women and minorities who are frequent targets of the nationalist and communal forces that are part of the base of his Bharatiya Janata Party. Indians took to the streets during the weekend to protest their government’s callous response to the horrifying rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in January in which supporters of his political party have been implicated. Mr. Modi, though, has barely spoken about this crime and other cases involving his supporters.

Until last week, he declined to address the attack on the girl, in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, by men who wanted to frighten and drive away her nomadic Muslim community, the Bakarwals, from an area that is dominated by Hindus. To read about what happened to the girl, who was held and abused at a Hindu temple, over several days is to plumb the depths of human depravity.

As Mr. Modi remained quiet as public outrage built up for weeks, state lawmakers from his party, which is part of a coalition that governs Jammu and Kashmir, attended a rally in support of a man who had been arrested for the crime and joined in demands by locals that the investigation be taken away from state officials, some of whom are Muslim, and be turned over to federal authorities. After a mob of Hindu lawyers temporarily prevented the authorities from registering charges in court, officials have formally accused eight men, including policemen and a retired government employee.…



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48 MPs, MLAs accused of crimes against women and PM Modi still want us to believe rape is not political – By Dailybite (Apr 21, 2018, Dailyo.in)

At least 48 MPs and MLAs in the country have cases related to crime against women registered against them, a new report has found. The highest number of such politicians – 12 – is from the BJP, the party ruling at the Centre and most of the states.

The report, by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) along with National Election Watch, has been compiled after analysing election affidavits of 4,845 current MPs and MLAs, out of the total 4,896.

At a time when the nation is reeling under a spate of rapes and the political class’s reaction, or rather the lack of it, to them, the report states in clear figures what we well know – rape in India does not really invoke the horror it should, and there are a thousand ready excuses to justify and condone it.…



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Naroda Patiya massacre: Maya Kodnani’s acquittal exposes a justice system ineffectual against mob violence – By Ajay Singh (Apr 20, 2018, First Post)

Maya Kodnani, a BJP leader who was the MLA from Naroda when this locality on the outskirts of Ahmedabad witnessed one of the most gruesome episodes during the Gujarat riots of 2002, was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court on Friday. Her acquittal in the Naroda Patiya massacre case is only a sequel to a series of such exonerations of those named in collective crimes.

The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) is believed to have meticulously collected evidence and arraigned Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and 59 others in the killing of 97 persons, mostly children and women. Though the SIT court had convicted 32 persons, including Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi, it set free 29 others for want of evidence. The high court has now largely upheld the SIT court’s decision on acquittal but modified the sentence on Bajrangi and pronounced acquittal of Kodnani – again for want of evidence.

Kodnani’s acquittal follows a familiar pattern that raises serious doubts about India’s criminal justice system and exposes its inability to deal with crimes of collective nature.… There are many such instances which prove the abject inadequacy of the criminal justice system in dealing with the cases related to collective violence. Kodnani’s acquittal is a continuum of that failure.…



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Mecca Masjid Blast Case: Glaring Loopholes Emerge in the CBI Investigation – By Ravi Kaushal (Apr 23, 2018, News Click)

After the acquittal of Swami Aseemanand and other accused in the Mecca Masjid Blast Case, serious questions over the investigation have started popping up.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the agency which investigated the matter till April 2011, failed to produce basic evidence to prove the culpability of Aseemanand and other Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activists in the matter.

A thorough observation of the Judgement delivered by NIA court shows that CBI, in its investigation, did not follow the standard procedures to collect evidence.…



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The Only Time the Opposition Pulled Off a Motion Against a Sitting Judge – By Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty (Apr 23, 2018, The Wire)

On April 20, leaders of seven opposition parties handed over a notice – signed by 71 Rajya Sabha MPs – to the chairman of the upper house, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, seeking the impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra. With it, a new chapter got appended to the existing record of steps taken by parties not in power to remove a judge. Three days later, Naidu, on April 23, rejected the notice which claimed judicial impropriety against the CJI on five counts.

Among the allegations are charges of bribery in the Prasad Medical College case and abuse of judicial and administrative power in order to hear the medical college case, besides allegedly giving a false affidavit to procure land when he was lawyer in Odisha.

While this is the first time that a removal notice against the head of the country’s highest court has been brought in, it’s not the first time the judiciary has experienced an impeachment move.…



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If the Pradhan Sevak Has His Way, the RTI Act Will Be Diluted – By Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri (Apr 21, 2018, The Wire)

With over six million information applications filed every year, the Right to Information (RTI) Act is one of the world’s most extensively used transparency legislations. By empowering millions of citizens across the country to question public authorities, the RTI Act has initiated the vital task of redistributing power in a democratic framework.

People have been innovatively using the law to demand accountability from the government on a range of issues – from their ration and pensions to big ticket scams; from educational qualifications and assets of public servants to human rights violations. The legislation is being extensively used to seek answers from the high and mighty.

It is perhaps this paradigm shift in the locus of power through the use of the law that has resulted in consistent efforts by the powerful to denigrate it. The latest attack on the RTI Act is the proposal of the BJP government to amend the legislation.…



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Book Review

Why I Killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse’s Defence

Author: Koenraad Elst
Reviewed by: Jatin Desai
Available at: Rupa Publications, 161, B-4, Ground Floor, Gulmohar House, Yusuf Sarai Community Centre, New Delhi – 110049 Price: Rs. 495 Pages: 251 . https://www.amazon.in/
Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse’s Defence (Apr 22, 2018, Free Press Journal)

The book “Why I Killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse’s Defence” written by Conrad Elst, a Belgian Indologist, and published recently is a controversial and difficult book, as was to be expected. He has a doctorate in Oriental Studies with a dissertation on Hindu Nationalism. The book raises many questions even before the book itself can be read or reviewed.

The first question is whether we need to hear Nathuram Godse’s defence of his heinous act of assassinating Mahatma Gandhi at all at this time or at any other time. Those who argue for absolute freedom of expression will not find it absurd or offensive, but many others can especially as his defence is freely available. The book draws largely from Godse’s defence statement before the trial court.…

The book will surely generate debate on the assassination of Mahatma, an apostle of peace. People interpret history differently. But, the fact is Mahatma Gandhi continues to influence the road to peace. Youngest Nobel laureate Pakistani Malala Yousafzai has repeatedly said she is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s path of non-violence.


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