IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 13th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Breaking Stereotypes, Hindu Family Running Mosque in Kolkata’s Suburbs for Decades (Aug 9, 2018, The Wire)

You wouldn’t blame yourself if you walked past the diminutive Amanati Masjid in Barasat, some 25 kilometres north of Kolkata, without as much as a fleeting glance. Sandwiched between an idol makers’ workshop and a hardware garage, the single-storied structure with a corrugated tin roof appears to be an ubiquitous place of worship in Kolkata’s suburbs.

But if you noticed the white lettering emblazoned across a freshly-painted board above the main entrance, you would pause. “Probhu ke Pronam Karo” (Pray to the Almighty) – at a mosque? “Probhu” is generally used in churches, and “Pronam” at temples in Bengal, urging devotees to offer their prayers. But here at Amanati, believers of many hues – Hindus, Muslims and Christians congregate. Not only is the mosque a microcosm of multiculturalism, it also has an unusual story.

Amanati – which literally translates as ‘left in trust’ is the only mosque run by a Hindu family that migrated to India from Bangladesh in 1964. “This is my identity. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” says 67-year-old Dipak Basu, hunkering down on a prayer mat. Basu, a small-time kerosene dealer, believes the mosque is a testament to his belief in religious tolerance.…

https://thewire.in/religion/hindu-muslim-amanati-mosque-kolkata

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Terror attacks foiled, 3 with links to hardline Hindu groups held: Maharashtra ATS (Aug 11, 2018, Indian Express)

Following multiple raids, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Friday announced the arrest of three men affiliated to radical Hindu outfits from Nallasopara and Satara. The ATS also said that with the recovery of a huge cache of explosives, including live crude bombs and gelatin sticks, they had averted major terror attacks at multiple places.

Among the arrested is Vaibhav Raut (40), allegedly a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti who is also said to be a sympathiser of the right wing Sanatan Sanstha. Suspects allegedly linked to the Sanatan Sanstha were involved in the murders of three rationalists – Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi – and the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Another accused, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar (39) from Satara, is a member of the Shri Shivapratishthan Hindustan, whose chief is Sambhaji Bhide. Bhide has been booked in two criminal cases in connection with violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1 by the Pune Police. The third accused, Sharad Kasalkar (25) was arrested along with Raut from Raut’s Nallasopara residence. Sources said that the ATS recovered a note on making bombs from Kasalkar and that Gondhalekar had knowledge of explosives and trained the other two men on assembling them.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/terror-attacks-foiled-3-with-links-to-hardline-hindu-groups-held-maharashtra-ats-5301186/

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Hyderabad: Historian Audrey Truschke’s lecture cancelled, she blames Hindu outfits (Aug 9, 2018, Indian Express)

Historian Audrey Truschke’s lecture in Hyderabad, titled ‘Unpopular Stories: Narrating the Indo-Islamic Past and Navigating Present-day Prejudices’, on August 11 was cancelled Wednesday.…

Truschke – who is in India to deliver lectures in Kolkata and Delhi organised by ‘The Seagull Foundation for the Arts’ for their annual ‘A History for Peace’ event – said that she was told about the “threat” last week. “The organisers of the Hyderabad event (Krishnakirti Foundation) told me that they had received letters protesting my appearance. In view of the perceived threat, they were inclined to cancel the lecture. I saw only one threatening letter on social media, in which I was tagged.…

Sources said that Bajrang Dal members indicated to police officials at Banjara Hills police station that they would protest at any venue where Truschke would deliver a lecture. Bajrang Dal city president S Kailash said they were opposed to Truschke’s views on Hinduism.… Several prominent citizens have condemned the cancellation.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/hyderabad-historian-audrey-truschkes-lecture-cancelled-she-blames-hindu-outfits-5298443/

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Issued ‘Red Cards’ by Police Ahead of Kanwar Yatra, 70 Muslim Families Leave UP Village (Aug 10, 2018, News18.com)

Around 70 Muslim families have reportedly left Khailam village in UP’s Bareilly district after the police issued them ‘red cards’ and warned against creating trouble for Kanwariyas who passed through the Muslim-dominated area, on Thursday. Along with the red cards, around 250 families, both Muslim and Hindu, were also asked to sign a ‘symbolic bond’ of Rs 5 lakh.

According to a report in the Indian Express, this is what the red cards read: “We have secret information that during the Kanwar yatra you might create trouble…with this red card we are informing you that if you create any trouble during the Kanwar yatra, action will be taken against you. You will be held accountable.”

Unlike last year, the Kanwar Yatra to a local Shiva temple passed off peacefully on Thursday, but the police warning to locals seems to have stirred a controversy in its wake.…

https://www.news18.com/news/india/issued-red-cards-by-police-ahead-of-kanwar-yatra-70-muslim-families-leave-up-village-1839827.html

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‘Should have sent you to jail,’ Supreme Court pulls up 2 top NRC officials for speaking to media (Aug 7, 2018, Hindustan Times)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday threatened to send the coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and registrar general of India to jail for contempt and restrained them from speaking on the politically charged issue to the media without its approval.

A bench of justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice RF Nariman said the statements made by NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela and registrar general Sailesh on the issue of dealing with claims and objections of those who have been left out in the draft NRC were “most unfortunate”.

“We should be holding both of you guilty of contempt and sending both of you to jail. Whatever you say they all reflect on us,” the top court, which is monitoring the NRC, said. It said that it could have taken a “sterner view” of the matter but was letting them of keeping in mind their future task of preparation and publication of the final NRC of Assam. “Your job is not to go to press holding the brief for somebody,” the bench said.…

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/supreme-court-pulls-up-2-top-nrc-officials-for-speaking-to-media/story-B6ukQz5Yho1MOkJyj4auHN.html

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ABP proprietor told me not to name Modi, I&B official said ‘anything can happen’, says PP Bajpai (Aug 7, 2018, Scroll.in)

ABP News’ satellite links were disrupted during the ‘Masterstroke’ show because of a report critical of the government, its former anchor wrote in The Wire. Journalist Punya Prasun Bajpai has claimed that his former employer, ABP News, had asked him to avoid references to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his criticism of government policies during his prime-time show Masterstroke. His team was also asked to avoid using pictures and video footage featuring Modi, he wrote in an article for The Wire on Monday.

Bajpai’s allegations come on the heels of his and ABP News Managing Editor Milind Khandekar’s resignations, following criticism from senior ministers for airing a report that claimed that a woman in Chhattisgarh had been tutored to make false claims that her income had doubled during a video interaction with the prime minister.

After the report appeared in July, Bajpai said he received a call from a government official who warned him of consequences. Soon after, ABP News began to experience disturbances with its satellite signals and its advertisers were threatened, he claimed. After he resigned, the satellite signals of ABP News got restored and advertisements were back, he said.…

https://scroll.in/latest/889379/abp-proprietor-told-me-not-to-name-modi-i-b-official-said-anything-can-happen-says-pp-bajpai

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Ishrat Jahan encounter case: Court rejects discharge pleas of Vanzara, Amin (Aug 7, 2018, Hindustan Times)

A special CBI court in Gujarat on Tuesday rejected the discharge applications of former police officers DG Vanzara and NK Amin in the case of alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others. Special judge JK Pandya rejected the applications of Vanzara and Amin.

The court last month concluded the hearing of arguments of the two accused retired police officers, the CBI and Ishrat Jahan’s mother Shamima Kauser, who had challenged Vanzara’s discharge plea.…

Ishrat Jahan’s mother sought to oppose the pleas of Amin and Vanzara, and told the court that her daughter was “murdered following a conspiracy between high-ranking police officers and others holding powerful and influential positions”. She alleged that Vanzara played a “direct and key role” in the conspiracy behind the “staged encounter”.…

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ishrat-jahan-encounter-case-court-rejects-discharge-pleas-of-vanzara-amin/story-XrCZ9H8PvPfzip6x2yrFuM.html

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Ahead of assembly elections, three Rajasthan villages get ‘Hindu’ names (Aug 10, 2018, New Indian Express)

Three seemingly ‘Islamic-sounding’ villages will now have ‘Hindu’ names as the Rajasthan government has notified their renaming after the proposal was cleared by the Union Home Ministry a few days ago.

Ismailpur village in Jhunjhunu district will now be known as Pichanwa Khurd while Miyon ka Bara in Barmer district has been rechristened as Mahesh Nagar. In Jalore district, a village known as Narpara until now will henceforth be called Narpura.

The move, which comes just a few months before the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, is being seen as part of the Vasundhara Raje government’s bid to woo voters.…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/aug/10/ahead-of-assembly-elections-three-rajasthan-villages-get-hindu-names-1855707.html

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From Modi Government, a Boilerplate Response on Rafale Charges (Aug 9, 2018, The Wire)

Soon after lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan and former Bharatiya Janata Party ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha launched a scathing attack on the Union government for hiding facts around the controversial Rafale deal at a press conference on Wednesday (August 8), the BJP left it to finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is currently recuperating from a renal failure, and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman to put up a defence.

Jaitley could not do what the other ministers had not yet done. Neither did he present any facts that could counter the allegations of cronyism, overpricing and procedural violations made by Bhushan, Sinha and Shourie, nor did he justify the delay in procuring the 36 fighter planes, which the government had claimed were bought in urgency. Instead, like his colleagues in the Union cabinet, he relied on rhetoric to salvage the situation.…

On Wednesday, Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan cited the Union government’s own response in the Lok Sabha on November 18, 2016, in which it had revealed important details about the jets. Government critics have agreed that it may be detrimental for security reasons to reveal the technical specifications of the jets but found it surprising that the government wanted to withhold informations about the cost involved in the business deal with the French company, Dassault Aviation.…

https://thewire.in/politics/from-modi-government-a-boilerplate-response-on-rafale-charges

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Bhopal Hostel Rape: Accused A ‘RSS Activist’, Enjoys CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Blessings, Says Congress (Aug 11, 2018, Outlook)

The opposition Congress on Saturday claimed that a director of a hostel, who has been arrested for allegedly raping a deaf and mute tribal girl and molesting two others, is an “activist of the RSS” and “enjoys the blessings” of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Ashwini Sharma, the director of a hostel for deaf and mute persons located in the Awadhpuri area of Bhopal, was arrested on Wednesday on the basis of a police complaint filed by an inmate, who accused him of repeatedly raping her during her stay in the hostel over the last three years.

Two more girls, who had previously stayed in the hostel, also filed a case of molestation against the accused on Thursday, following which the police slapped charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as well since one of them was a minor when the alleged incident took place in 2017.

“Ashwini Sharma is an activist of the RSS and he enjoys Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s blessings,” Madhya Pradesh Congress’s chief spokesperson Shobha Oza said. She also released a video, in which Sharma is seen standing close to Chouhan and touching the latter’s feet. Oza alleged that Sharma’s Facebook account was deleted to hide his connection with BJP leaders.…

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/bhopal-hostel-rape-accused-a-rss-activist-enjoys-cm-shivraj-singh-chouhans-bless/314897

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TISS report points to sexual, physical abuse of inmates at 14 other shelter homes in Bihar (Aug 12, 2018, The Hindu)

The seven-member team of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which had exposed sexual and physical exploitation of minor girls at Muzaffarpur shelter home in its social audit report submitted to the State Social Welfare Department on March 15 this year, has also pointed out similar horror stories at other 14 shelter and short-stay homes in the State. TISS team had made social audit of 110 shelter and short-stay homes from nine divisions and 35 districts of Bihar.

The 100-page social audit report under the caption “grave concerns – institutions requiring immediate attention” has made explicit details of how girls, boys and adults have been subjected to “dreadful details of physical violence, sexual abuse and mental harassment” at 14 other shelter and short stay homes. “We found plastic bottles with urine in it and upon enquiry, learnt that boys were forced to urinate in bottles once the ward was locked for the night…this pattern was observed across Homes”, said the report at one place. The Hindu is in possession of the TISS report.…

In the short-stay home in Motihari run by the NGO “Sakhi”… “A Muslim girl informed us that the counselor had beaten her up for practice her faith and had torn her Quran into pieces. She was frequently beaten and ridiculed for praying according to her faith”, said the social audit report.… At the short-stay home in Kaimur district run by “Gram Swaraj Sewa Sansthan”, the guard was reported to be “sexually abusive”. “The women / girls reported that he often passed lewd comments and attempted to touch their private parts,” said the report.…

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/tiss-report-points-sexual-physical-abuse-of-inmates-at-14-other-shelter-homes-in-bihar/article24669849.ece

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Opinions and Editorials

A 200-Member Government Team Is Watching How the Media Covers Modi, Amit Shah – By Punya Prasun Bajpai (Aug 10, 2018, The Wire)

Located right next to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s headquarters in Delhi is Soochna Bhawan and on its tenth floor is ground zero – the war room from where the government carries out its operation of monitoring television news channels across the country, day after day, 24×7. There’s a 200-member team that does just that.

In recent days there’s been a new development, the first of its kind in four years – the cell phones of the monitoring team are now being confiscated right at the entrance. And in a first, their supervisor, an additional director general from the information and broadcasting ministry, has warned them in no uncertain terms that there should not be a repeat of the explosive information breach that occurred recently when details pertaining to the monitoring of the primetime programme, ‘Masterstroke’, were leaked to the programme’s editor.…

There may be dissension over working conditions but there is no confusion about the brief the team members have to follow. The instructions are crystal clear – to prepare daily reports tracking which of the channels show Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, in what manner and for how long. Unable to quell his own yearnings, I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore too has a separate report prepared along those lines – which channel shows him, in what manner and for how long.…

https://thewire.in/media/narendra-modi-amit-shah-media-watch-punya-prasun-bajpai

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Deoria shelter home case: supervisor was ‘honoured’ by administration, police – By Omar Rashid (Aug 9, 2018, The Hindu)

Not only did the district police continue to send new inmates, including minor girls, to the shelter home in Deoria after it was de-recognised for its financial irregularities, but its supervisor Girija Tripathi continued to participate in official functions – even after the government’s order to shut down the institution. The shelter home has come now under the scanner for alleged sexual exploitation of its inmates.

On February 9 this year, eight months after her shelter home was de-recognised following financial irregularities detected by the CBI, Ms. Tripathi was invited by the administration to find couples for a mass marriage event organised by the social welfare department of the U.P. government. Sources said her NGO was chosen out of the five short-listed. Over fifty couples were married at the event, which was attended by U.P. Cabinet Minister Surya Pratap Shahi, newspaper reports of that date show.

ADM (Finance) S. R Gupta confirmed that Ms. Tripathi did participate in mass marriage events of the government as late as in 2018. While the senior official failed to explain why the NGO was picked, he clarified that “no funds were transferred” to the organisation for being one of the organisers. Now under arrest for alleged sexual exploitation of inmates in her shelter home, Ms. Tripathi enjoyed considerable goodwill and clout among the local administration and the police, who honoured her on many occasions. According to a local source, the previous district police chief had appointed her as the main coordinator of a police project under which compromise meetings were held to sort out differences between quarrelling spouses every weekend at the police lines.…

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/deoria-shelter-home-rape-case-honoured-supervisor-of-a-tainted-home/article24646845.ece

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Assam NRC List: Fanning a communal divide over ‘aliens’ – By Amulya Ganguli (Aug 10, 2018, Free Press Journal)

Inadvertently, the Supreme Court has handed the BJP a convenient issue for exploitation in the forthcoming elections. It is the judiciary’s call for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam which is bound to add zest to the BJP’s campaign against illegal immigrants, enabling it to accuse its political opponents of having done nothing to evict them in order to use the “aliens” as their vote bank.…

The BJP, however, has never been bothered by such problems. With its single-minded focus on demonising Muslims in Assam and elsewhere in India, its sole objective apparently is to pose as nationalists who are dead against allowing the ghuspetiyas (infiltrators) to stay in the country and endanger the nation’s security. In its view, those who did not pursue the task of detection earlier were virtual traitors. It is a line which the BJP thinks will enable the party to consolidate its support base comprising, in the main, the majority community and bolster its election campaign.…

It is obvious, therefore, that the preparation of the NRC will be a long-drawn affair. The delay may be as long as the one for which the BJP has held the “unworthy” leaders of the past responsible. However, the party is not in a hurry. All that it wants is for the issue to remain alive so that it can exploit it for electoral gains.

http://www.freepressjournal.in/analysis/assam-nrc-list-fanning-a-communal-divide-over-aliens/1332318

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Hindu Rashtra, de facto – By Christophe Jaffrelot (Aug 11, 2018, Indian Express)

The media often presents cow-related lynching cases as spontaneous reactions of the mob. Certainly, some ordinary people take part in them. But the perpetrators’ ideological orientation could be surmised from the fact that they often make their victims raise slogans such as “Gau mata ki jai (Hail the cow-mother)” or “Jai Hanuman (Hail Hanuman)”.

That the choice of victims for assault had less to do with cow protection than with underlying hostility toward Muslims is clear in the way Hindu cow-breeders and transporters have been spared during attacks – Pehlu Khan’s truck driver got away with a mere slap, whereas the others, all Muslims, were beaten (one of them to death). More importantly, most of the lynchings reported between 2015 and 2018 were perpetrated by vigilante militias or the result of the atmosphere they created, often using social media.

The most visible Hindu nationalist organisation in this domain, the Gau Raksha Dal (GRD), has chapters in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi and Haryana. In Haryana, one of the movement’s strongholds, the GRD emblem is a cow’s head flanked by two AK47s. Elsewhere, daggers replace firearms on the movement’s coat of arms. In practice, its members use cruder instruments like cricket bats, hockey sticks, lathis and so on.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/hindu-rashtra-de-facto-bjp-rss-gau-rakshak-mob-lynching-5301083/

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Manufacturing history – Ziya Us Salam (Aug 17, 2018, Frontline)

Bharatiya Janata Party leaders find nothing odd in being on the wrong side of history. The latest in a series of inanities uttered by BJP leaders was mouthed by the BJP’s Rajasthan unit president Madan Lal Saini when he said: “When Humayun was dying, he called Babur and said that to rule we must respect, cows, Brahmins and women.” For the record, Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, was the father of Humayun. And neither he nor his son has said anything close to what Saini believes, historians say.…

Saini is not alone in holding such philistine ideas about history. His colleague in the party and a legislator from Uttar Pradesh, Sangeet Som, once waxed eloquent about Mughal history thus, “Taj Mahal was built by a man who imprisoned his father.” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath called Akbar “a foreigner” and Rana Pratap, “the man who shook off the yoke of foreign rule”.

The fact is that Shah Jahan did not imprison his father. Rather he was incarcerated by his son Aurangzeb. And irrespective of what Adityanath may claim, Akbar was not a foreigner. He was born in Umerkot in Sindh, which was very much a part of India. It was 400 years after his birth that Pakistan was created and Umerkot became part of the new country. Incidentally, Akbar won the Battle of Haldighati fought between the Rana of Mewar, Maharana Pratap, and the Mughal forces.…

https://www.frontline.in/cover-story/article24552429.ece

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Debt-Ridden Rajasthan Farmer Kills Self After Bank Plans to Auction His Land – By Shruti Jain (Aug 10, 2018, The Wire)

Troubled by mounting debts and a subsequent notice that his land would be auctioned, Mangal Chand Meghwal (36), a Dalit farmer with disabilities from Charanwas village in Rajasthan’s Nagaur, committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling fan at his residence late on August 4.

Meghwal and his three brothers, Hardevaram, Prakash Chand and Pooranram, had collectively taken a loan of approximately Rs 2.98 lakh under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) from the Badalwas branch of Punjab National Bank for agriculture work in 2011. They had repaid Rs 1 lakh last year, but received notices from the bank to repay the remaining amount. “The account was declared NPA in March 2015 due to non-payment,” the notice reads.

Following this, the sub-divisional magistrate issued a warrant last month for the attachment of his farm, allowing the bank to auction it on August 7 under the Rajasthan Agricultural Credit Operations (Removal of Difficulties) Act. Worried by the auction, he went to the bank to enquire about the amount left to be repaid. He was told by the bank manager that Rs 4.59 lakh was still to be paid, failing which his land would be auctioned.…

https://thewire.in/agriculture/farmer-suicide-rajasthan-loan-waiver

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