IAMC Weekly News Roundup – April 30th, 2018



In this issue of IAMC News Round



News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Waves of coordinated vigils continue across United States, denouncing the horrific rapes in Kathua and Unnao and stepping up calls for fair and speedy trials

Indian Americans stand in disgust and shame at the horrific nature of rapes and the government’s subsequent handling of the cases which gave patronage to the accused.

April 30, 2018

Hundreds of Indian Americans came together in cities across United States for candlelight vigils and demonstrations demanding fair and speedy trials of the accused in the now infamous Kathua and Unnao rape cases. Vigils were held over the weekend in San Jose (CA), San Diego (CA), and Ft. Lauderdale (FL), with hundreds of Indian Americans showing an outpouring of support for the rape victims. The vigils were marked with chants of “Justice for Asifa”, “Justice for Unnao”, and railed the Indian government’s failure to properly investigate the cases for several months after the crimes. In the previous weeks, similar vigils where held in several other cities including Washington D.C., New York (NY), New Jersey, Baltimore (MD), Boston (MA), Seattle (WA), Raleigh (NC) and Minneapolis (MN).


Earlier this year, Asifa, an eight-year old girl was abducted in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir state, imprisoned for a week in a temple, where she was starved, drugged and gang raped repeatedly before being murdered. According to the police charge sheet of those arrested, the rape and subsequent murder was planned and executed in order to terrorize the Bakarwal Muslim community and drive them out of the area. The attempts to file a charge sheet against the accused at a local court was repeatedly blocked and followed by violent protests in their defense by extremist groups aligned with the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Two BJP ministers who attended the protests urged the crowd to obstruct the prosecution of the accused. In yet another incident from Unnao, a powerful BJP lawmaker in the Uttar Pradesh State Assembly, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, is accused of raping a teenage girl, obstructing justice, and then conspiring with his brother to kill the girl’s father after the family filed a police report.

“Words cannot do justice to the terror that the victims of these crimes have had to suffer. The preachers of Hindutva, who are feted not punished, are responsible for an epidemic of hate inspired brutal rapes and mob lynchings. Sometimes these crimes are justified on the pretext that the victims have consumed beef or slaughtered cows. Sometimes simply being a Muslim is enough to invite violence,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, the President of Indian American Muslim Council and one of the organizers of yesterday’s candlelight vigil in San Jose (CA). “In the four years of Prime Minister Modi’s rule, the intimidation of religious minorities and violence against them have reached levels that have not been witnessed in the history of independent India. In both Kathua and Unnao rape case, we demand speedy trials free of all political interference as well as thorough investigations into the role of extremist outfits like Hindu Ekta Manch in spreading hate and obstructing justice,” added Mr. Khan.

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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1. An 8-Year-Old’s Rape and Killing Fuels Religious Tensions in India

2. Child’s rape, killing in India mire in religious politics

3. Kathua rape case: Chargesheet filed by Jammu and Kashmir Police

4. Asifa, Betrayed Over And Over

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For raping 16-year-old at ashram, Asaram gets life in jail till death (Apr 26, 2018, Times of India)

A special court on Wednesday sentenced disgraced “godman” Asaram to life imprisonment till death for raping a teenage girl studying at his ashram, with the judge saying, “In my humble opinion, Asaram not only broke the faith of the complainant but also spoiled the image of saints among common men.”…

On Wednesday, special judge Madhusudan Sharma read out the 453-page judgment in Jodhpur Central Jail where 77-year-old Asaram has been lodged ever since his arrest. Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013.

Apart from Asaram, two other accused – Shilpi, hostel warden of Asaram’s gurukul in Chhindwara (MP) where the survivor and her brother studied, and Sharad, manager of the gurukul – were also convicted by the court and sentenced to 20 years in jail.…



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Gorakhpur tragedy: HC says no evidence of medical negligence by Dr Kafeel Khan (Apr 30, 2018, Times of India)

The Allahabad high court, while granting bail last week to hero-turned villain Dr Kafeel Khan in Gorakhpur’s BRD Hospital tragedy, came down heavily on prosecution and said there was no evidence on record to suggest medical negligence by the doctor.…

The court also said that the UP government, in its affidavit, never ‘attributed the deaths to ‘shortage of oxygen’. The state government and the UP police have maintained that the kids’ death was natural and unrelated to shortage of oxygen, yet it booked doctors and BRD hospital staff for medical negligence.

“Having considered the submissions advanced, the court notes that there is no material on record, which may establish medical negligence against the applicant individually,” Justice Yashwant Varma said in his order.…



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Ishrat case: Verma’s plea to inspect second chargesheet rejected (Apr 29, 2018, Indian Express)

In a setback to IPS officer Satish Verma, who led the investigation into the encounter of Ishrat Jahan, a special CBI court on Monday rejected his application seeking permission to inspect the second chargesheet in the case. Details of the chargesheet, filed in February 2014, have not been made public yet, but it names four officers of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), including former special director Rajinder Kumar.…

The IPS officer had also requested the court to allow him to look into an order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which refused sanction to prosecute IB officers. Since then, the second chargesheet is pending in the court. On March 11, Verma for the first time had moved the CBI court, seeking a copy of the second chargesheet, but his plea was rejected.…

Verma had appeared as party-in-person to argue his case, saying that he was one of the three members of the Gujarat High Court-appointed SIT that probed the case and lodged an FIR with the CBI. Verma also assisted the CBI in the case following a Gujarat High Court order. He was hailed as the lead investigator behind the arrest of seven Gujarat police officers, including current DGP P P Pandey, who is posted as director, Anti-Corruption Bureau, DIG Girish Singhal and retired DIG D G Vanzara.…



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Custodial death: FIR against UP cops who framed man in cow slaughter case (Apr 30, 2018, Times of India)

Police had to finally give in to the demands of the agitating family of Narendra Singh (35) who was arrested on cow slaughter charges along with three others by Mawana police here on April 21. Singh died in jail on April 24 and his family had alleged torture by the police at the behest of a local gram pradhan. An FIR for murder has now been lodged against the accused policemen.

An inquiry by the Meerut superintendent of police (SP) found the cow slaughter charges to be false. The three accused policemen, including SHO of Mawana police station Brijesh Kushawaha have already been suspended pending a magisterial probe into the custodial death.…

The family alleged that Narendra was tortured so much that his nails had come off. Police however claimed that Narendra, an alcoholic and a drug addict, was mentally unstable when he was lodged in jail and in poor health. The post-mortem report had claimed asphyxia due to inhalation of fluids as the reason of death, with no fatal ante-mortem injuries.…



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Muzaffarnagar Riots: Muslim Families Allege Bias By Yogi Government, Says ‘Only Helping Hindus’ (Apr 24, 2018, Outlook)

Some Hundreds of Muslim families in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli who were displaced during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots have alleged that the Yogi Adityanath-led government is only helping the Hindu families to get back to their homes.

One of the victims affected by the riots told ANI, “Only Hindu families are being helped to return to their homes. Aren’t we human beings? Why is the government not thinking about us? We are not getting any help from the government.”

Another victim too shared his ordeal, saying, “We are very poor. I escaped here to Shamli during the riots in Muzaffarnagar. I barely get some money through donations to feed my family. We are living in fear. The government is only helping the Hindu families to get back to their homes. We haven’t heard from them about when we will return to our homes.” A third local alleged that the state government did not give any attention to the Muslim families even after five years, adding that he was helpless and wondered when he would get to return back to his home.…



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AMU students enraged at RSS’ request to hold ‘shakha’ in campus (Apr 28, 2018, India Today)

Anger is simmering among the students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) following a request made by an RSS functionary to hold their ‘shakha’ at the varsity campus. Furious at the ‘audacity’ of such an idea, AMU students have threatened of dire consequences if such an attempt is made by the saffron outfit to encroach into the institution.

Talking to India Today, Haji Jamiluddin, a retired academician and an AMU alumnus said that since the BJP came to power, RSS is becoming bolder and has even started recruiting some misguided Muslim youth into its cadre in order to look like a secular organisation.

Jamiluddin said that the RSS is only aiming at destroying the minorities and establishing a Hindu dominion in the country.… He said that allowing an organization like RSS to enter AMU campus will be equal to throwing black ink on the face of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of AMU. Jamiluddin demanded that the Muslim youth who has made the request to hold a ‘shakha’ inside the university campus should be arrested immediately.…



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Religious freedom continued ‘downward trend’ in India in 2017: Report (Apr 27, 2018, Hindustan Times)

Religious freedom conditions continued a “downward trend” in India last year as Hindu-nationalist groups sought to “saffronise” it through violence, intimidation, and harassment of non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits, a US federal government appointed commission has alleged.…

The victims of this campaign include Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains, as well as Dalit Hindus, who belong to the lowest rung in the Hindu caste system, the USCIRF said in its latest annual report on international religious freedom.…

In its report, the USCIRF has urged the US government to integrate concern for religious freedom into bilateral discussions with India, including the framework of future Strategic Dialogues, at both the federal and state levels. It also urged the US government to press the Indian government to allow the USCIRF to visit the country and to invite the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to visit India.



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SC says it never issued any direction for linking #Aadhaar with mobile SIM (Apr 25, 2018, Money Life)

There was a bombshell of sorts during the ongoing Aadhaar hearing in the Supreme Court on Wednesday in connection with the government exhorting people to link their mobiles phones to the Aadhaar number. The government has always argued that this was being done in accordance with a Supreme Court order in the Lokniti case.

Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud however, categorically stated that the Supreme Court has never issued any direction to link Aadhaar with mobile subscriber identification module (SIM) or carry out e-know your customer (e-KYC) of mobile subscribers.

In response, Mr Rakesh Dwivedi, Counsel for Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and Gujarat Government admitted that the linking of Aadhaar to mobile SIM was being done on the basis of a recommendation from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) even before the order passed by the apex court in the Lokniti Foundation case (WP(C) 607/2016). This has caused a flutter on social media and among anti-Aadhaar activists since people have been constantly told that the linkage and e-KYC was based on Supreme Court orders.…



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BJP ideology believes in raping Muslim women, says activist (Apr 26, 2018, Siasat)

Indian activist and a writer, who is also one of the leaders of South Asia Solidarity Group (UK), Amrit Wilson, in an article published in The Guardian, UK said that ‘rape culture under Narendra Modi government is celebrated by members of BJP and RSS’.… The activist while speaking, about rape culture in the country, with The News said “a new phenomenon has emerged under Modi where not only rape culture is rife, it is celebrated and promoted by the perpetrators. This is new. Rapes happened before but there was no celebration of it”.

Wilson said she wrote for The Guardian to tell the world about BJP and its ideology. “Founders and ideologues of the BJP such as Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the revered icon of the Hindu right, praised Hitler and his policies. She said that Savarkar said that Muslim women should be raped and ‘it will be suicidal if they are not raped’,” she said.

“Modi is an RSS member since a young age, he is a lifelong member of RSS. Savarkar was its ideologue and Golwalkar was its founder. In a meeting, a BJP leader had spoken about a dead and buried Muslim women, he said that she should be exhumed and raped. Yogi Adityanath chaired that meeting and remained silent,” Wilson said.…



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Dalit converts, reconverted within a day (Apr 26, 2018, The Telegraph)

Pawan Kumar’s voluntary transition to Mohammad Alam lasted just one day. On Tuesday, some Hindutva activists forced the young jobless Dalit to reconvert, a day after he had embraced Islam in the hope of what he called “honour and a decent life”.

The 25-year-old resident of Shamli, west Uttar Pradesh, doesn’t want to go to police. He fears he might be sent to jail. A senior police officer said he wasn’t aware of any such incident of forced reconversion in the district.…

The man at the centre of the controversy, however, insisted it was his personal decision to adopt Islam. “People look down at us because we are Dalit. We don’t have enough money to lead a decent life. The upper castes don’t employ us for any respectable work. I adopted Islam because I would get honour and a decent life as a Muslim. “But the members of the Hindutva groups forced me to return to Hinduism,” the young man, who has cleared Class XII but didn’t join college, told reporters on Wednesday.…



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Opinions and Editorials

A credibility crisis: On Mecca Masjid verdict – Editorial (Apr 19, 2018, The Hindu)

The acquittal of five suspects in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case is likely to reinforce public cynicism in the country about the state of the criminal justice system. Regardless of whether the acquittal was owing to the innocence of Swami Aseemanand and four others belonging to a Hindu right-wing group, or because the prosecuting agency lacked the resolve and freedom to obtain their conviction, the outcome is undoubtedly a substantial denial of justice for a crime that killed nine people and injured many others.

It also shattered the lives of dozens of Muslims who were taken into custody by the Hyderabad police in the immediate aftermath of the blast in May 2007; their arbitrary incarceration, alleged custodial torture and the protracted court hearings amounted to grave miscarriage of justice. It has a striking similarity to the Malegaon blasts in Maharashtra: a group of Muslims being portrayed as the perpetrators in the initial stages, but the involvement of a Hindu group being uncovered later.…

The NIA has faced charges of going soft on Hindutva groups after the regime change at the Centre in 2014, once even from a public prosecutor handling the Malegaon blast case. That 66 out of 226 witnesses turned hostile reflects poorly on the investigating agency and exposes the lack of legal safeguards to protect witnesses. The investigating agencies face a credibility crisis, and how public faith in their impartiality can be restored is something the country ought to worry about now.



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Death Of Judge Loya: A Critical Examination Of The ECG And The Post-Mortem Demonstrates The Failings Of The Supreme Court Verdict – By Hartosh Singh Bal (Apr 23, 2018, Caravan Magazine)

…Two medical documents were essential to determining whether the circumstances surrounding Loya’s death were suspicious – an ECG purportedly conducted on Loya at Dande Hospital shortly before his death, and the post-mortem report prepared at the Government Medical College in Nagpur. Though there are a range of issues in the judgment that need to be examined, even a scrutiny limited to the manner in which it deals with these documents is enough to indicate that an inquiry broader in scope than the court allowed itself would have resulted in a different conclusion.

The judgment relies heavily on the testimonies that four judges who said they were with Loya on the night he died – Shrikant Kulkarni and SM Modak… But it is important to note that the judges’ testimonies only form an account of the hours preceding and immediately after Loya’s death – they can only confirm whether an ECG test was conducted or a post-mortem was ordered. Whether an ECG or a post-mortem indicated that Loya suffered a heart attack, and whether these medical documents were in any way manipulated, cannot lie within the judges’ knowledge.

Details brought to light by The Caravan – most of which the court did not consider, and some that it set aside on grounds that do not stand scrutiny – cast strong doubts on the veracity of the ECG record and the post-mortem report. Moreover, when considered in conjunction with the fact that leading forensic experts differ over the conclusions stated in the post-mortem report and that The Caravan uncovered reasonable grounds to suspect that the report omitted vital information, there is little left to justify the court’s certainty that Loya died of natural causes.…



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Why the Asaram rape case verdict matters – Editorial (Apr 25, 2018, Hindustan Times)

…The conviction and adequate sentencing (imprisonment till the end of a person’s natural life) could not have come at a more critical time in India: In the last few months, a plethora of rape cases, including of several minors, has been reported across the country.…

Asaram’s sentencing is also a warning to those who use their powerful positions to harass and intimidate others. Such harassment is not limited to a certain social or economic segment of society; it is far more widespread than many think. A couple of months ago, a ‘#metoo’ campaign rocked the academic world.…

One of the main reasons why self-styled godmen such as Asaram, Nirmal Baba, Rampal and Ram Rahim Singh get the courage to abuse women and indulge in other illegal activities is because they think that they can get away with it, thanks to political patronage and huge bases of followers. It is high time for political leaders across party lines to keep their distance from such men.



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There Is No Flag Large Enough To Cover The Shame Of Killing Innocent People – By Gurpreet Singh (Apr 25, 2018, Sabrang India)

The incident happened during protests against visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The protests were mainly organized by groups representing religious minorities in India that feel threatened under the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Modi.

Ever since Modi got elected as Prime Minister in 2014, attacks on religious minorities have grown. The BJP supporters frequently target Muslims and Christians, as well as so-called untouchables. Members of the Sikh minority fear assimilation, since the BJP considers Sikhs as part of the Hindu fold a claim that is vehemently denied by the Sikh leaders). Despite this, the BJP and Hindu Right organizations have been directly or indirectly involved in attacks on Sikhs in the past and during recent times.

The Indian government also reacted sharply to the “act of sacrilege,” and the UK has apologized for the incident. It is understandable that people can be sensitive about national flags, but considering some recent developments in India, one can argue that this reaction is completely hypocritical.… Do we need to remind them that the biggest disgrace to the flag was committed by supporters of the BJP when they rallied in support of those accused of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua?…



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At the very end of SC’s Aadhaar hearings, government admits it has been dishonest all along – By Rohan Venkataramakrishnan (Apr 26, 2018, Scroll.in)

As the Supreme Court hears petitions contending that Aadhaar violates the fundamental rights of Indians, it’s clear that much of the broad edifice created by the government in defence of the national identity project rests on shaky ground. The 12-digit biometric ID was supposed to be voluntary, although in a huge swathe of circumstances it clearly was not. The legislation for it was passed much after millions had already been enrolled.

It was supposed to be secure but has instead aided the leaking of massive amounts of government data. It was meant to make welfare delivery more efficient, but in many cases has made people’s lives harder. And, on Wednesday, the government admitted that it had been lying about another aspect too: the Supreme Court had never made it mandatory for all phone SIM cards to be linked to individual Aadhaar numbers.

Justice DY Chandrachud, one of the five judges on the Constitution Bench hearing the case, spelled it out for Rakesh Dwivedi, counsel for the Unique Identification Authority of India, which runs the Aadhaar project. “In fact there was no such direction from the Supreme Court, but you took it and used it as tool to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users,” Chandrachud said, according to PTI.…



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The Burden of Caste Annihilation Must Not Lie on Dalits Alone – By Sheeva Dubey (Apr 25, 2018, The Wire)

Many people confuse the Dalit movement with the anti-caste movement, often seeing them as one and the same thing. They forget that caste is not exclusive to Dalits. Everyone who claims to be a Hindu falls somewhere on the caste hierarchy and therefore is a part of the caste system.

Dalits are at one end of this spectrum – they have experienced extreme oppression, deprivation and humiliation. But at the other end are those born in privileged families, their privilege lying in the fact that they aren’t exploited on the basis of their caste identity. Instead, they often benefit from their privileged caste status.…

Nobody who is a Hindu is free of caste. So how can the caste system, which has trapped the entire Hindu society in its divisive structure and rigid identities, be countered by Dalits alone? How can the caste system ever be annihilated without people at all levels of the caste hierarchy fighting hard against it?…



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Book Review

Everyday Communalism: Riots in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh

Author: Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar
Reviewed by: Manjari Katju
Available at: Oxford University Press, 2/11 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi –110002, Phone:011-23273841–2 Email:northcare.in@oup.com Rs. 995. https://www.amazon.in/
‘Everyday Communalism: Riots in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh’ review: Not a spontaneous outburst (Apr 28, 2018, The Hindu)

A long past and continued intensity of communal violence in India has made it a subject matter of scholarly attention. The attempt of these studies has been to understand the nature of communal violence; the reasons why communal riots (riots are area specific instances of violence) break out; the factors that embitter inter-community relations; the process of ‘othering’; and, the normalisation of beliefs such as, ‘us’ and ‘them’.…

Scholarship on communal violence in India converges on the point that riots are not spontaneous outbursts of community anger. On the contrary, they are meticulously planned by vested interests in an environment of socio-cultural dislocations brought about by modernity.…

They highlight that Hindutva organisations like Yogi Adityanath’s (current chief minister of U.P.) Hindu Yuva Vahini have worked relentlessly in eastern U.P. to communalise local issues that have led to unprecedented acrimony leading to violence. They point to the involvement of BJP-RSS workers and the role of Jat leaders to popularise the Sangh Parivar that deeply embittered relations between Jats and the Muslims in western U.P.…


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