IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 19th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

HC confirms conviction of 9 for post-Godhra riots (Aug 14, 2013, Times of India)

Gujarat high court on Tuesday confirmed conviction of nine persons in two different post-Godhra riots cases that had taken place in a Panchmahal village. The court also acquitted four others by giving them the benefit of doubt. According to the case details, two incidents of violence occurred in Anjanva village of Santarampur block – on March 3 and March 5, 2002. In these incidents, 12 persons had lost their lives. Thirty-three persons were tried by a trial court for abduction and murder of a Muslim on March 3 in the village.

The prosecution could establish that the person was kidnapped, but could not prove the murder because there was no trace of him later. Hence, the trial court in Godhra acquitted 30 and punished three persons for kidnapping. They were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 2006. The convicts questioned the lower court’s decision, and the state government challenged the acquittal order as well. The bench of Justice K S Jhaveri and Justice K J Thaker upheld the lower court’s order.

In the second case, 11 persons were killed on March 5 in the village and for that 29 persons faced trial. The trial court held 11 persons guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment, and acquitted the rest. Of those convicted, one died during pendency of the case. Hence 10 convicts moved the HC and questioned their punishment. On the other hand, the state government challenged the acquittals. After hearing the case, the division bench confirmed the lower court’s order of acquittal. The high court also confirmed conviction and sentence for six accused, but let off four by giving them the benefit of doubt.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-08-14/ahmedabad/41408828_1_trial-court-post-godhra-riots-cases

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Hindu supremacist Narendra Modi should not be invited to the Commons (Aug 15, 2013, Guardian)

The far-right Gujarat nationalist, Narendra Modi, is one of the world’s most controversial politicians. In 2002, when he was chief minister, Muslims were horrifically massacred in the western Indian state. He is now aiming to become prime minister of India, a huge country with nuclear weapons. It is disturbing that the Labour Friends of India, closely followed by the Conservative Friends of India, have invited him to address MPs in the House of Commons. Modi is a key figure in the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), part of a Hindu supremacist movement that many moderate Hindus regard as opposing the core values of their faith.

Eleven years ago, Gujarat police stood by or joined in as rioters burnt down homes, raped and killed, supposedly in retaliation for an attack on a train in which Hindus were killed. The legal system has been slow to bring to justice those responsible for leading the violence, though some have now been convicted. Zakia Jafri, a survivor of a massacre in which her husband and 68 other Muslims were murdered, has been pursuing Modi himself through the courts. Human rights organisations have also raised concerns about dozens of unlawful killings by police in Gujarat.

His admirers are campaigning to make him appear respectable in the eyes of Indians and the international community, allowing him to pursue his ambition to take charge of India. Yet their efforts have been undermined not only by the persistence of human rights supporters, but also by his abrasive personality and defiant extremism. This year he made it clear he feels no guilt about the 2002 riots, comparing the killings to being in a car when a puppy is run over. Days later he accused the rival Congress party of hiding behind a “burqa of secularism” to cover its failings. His party is also promoting his stance as an unashamed Hindu nationalist.

Dissatisfaction with the current government’s weaknesses, and a fragmented democratic opposition, may lead sizeable numbers of voters to turn to the BJP. India has the world’s second largest population, with 1.2 billion people. Minorities and dissidents would be highly vulnerable if Modi were to become prime minister. In addition it is a regional power and armed with nuclear weapons. If an anti-Muslim fanatic took control there, this could also destabilise neighbouring Pakistan, with which it has long had a tense relationship. An escalation of hostilities could have devastating consequences for the world. …

Certainly the MPs who have invited him, including Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, and Shailesh Vara, Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire, do not seem deterred by his grim record and ongoing extremism. Their enthusiasm may prove embarrassing for their parties. … The rest of us may be less keen to see him in charge of India, including its armed forces made up of 1.3 million men and women in uniform and an additional million in reserve, and with his finger on the nuclear button.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/15/hindu-nationalist-narendra-modi-parliament

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Narendra Modi’s attack on PM on I-day leaves some BJP leaders squirming (Aug 15, 2013, Hindustan Times)

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s unconventional attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Independence Day has left some BJP leaders squirming. But his loyalists see a distinct strategy in breaking some unwritten political norms – to catch people’s attention and their minds ahead of the next elections. True, no politician before Modi has ever chosen such an occasion to launch a direct attack on any prime minister, preferring to leave his or her audience to read in-between lines – just as the PM did from the Red Fort, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in Patna, or Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah did from Srinagar on Thursday.

Reflecting the mood of some BJP leaders opposed to him, Modi’s approach saw an indirect rebuke from his own party’s senior-most leader LK Advani. “Today is Independence Day. Without criticising one another, people should be aware on this day that India has unlimited possibilities,” Advani was quoted as saying by TV channels. Other BJP leaders, who are not too comfortable with Modi’s ascent, privately echoed what many Congress leaders like external affairs Salman Khurshid said. These BJP leaders agreed with Khurshid’s comment that “targeting the PM on a day when he is speaking for the unity and integrity of the country is not appropriate.”

But, countering this view, a senior BJP leader, who is very close to Modi, recalled the convention in the US where its President’s State of Union address every January is countered by his political rivals immediately with equal vigour. Some BJP leaders said, by now, it was clear that Modi would dare to be unconventional to convey his message that, as “rank outsider to the comfortable Delhi politics” he would use “shock and awe” approach. He had given notice a day earlier that he’d do so.

Modi wants to show he is determined to bring the desired change in India if he is given a chance though he is yet to be declared the PM candidate, a BJP leader added. ‘Power is meant to deliver governance and efficiency in the system. That’s Modi’s loud message.” Also, Modi does not believe in pretensions – trying to show disinterest while secretly nurturing a big ambition, said a key BJP strategist. “You get, what he actually is – a straightforward, no-nonsense leader. Some may think he is arrogant but he does not want to use humility as a weapon.” Modi nurtures the belief that, ultimately, the Indian elections would have to be styled on the American model where personalities present alternative governance models before voters, said another BJP leader. Hence, Modi’s constant barb at the PM to take his challenge for a debate, he added.

Modi’s loyalists said even Dr Singh may not have named Modi his address but it was clear who he meant when he asked people and political parties to prevent “narrow and sectarian ideologies” from growing. The Congress always accuses Modi of being divisive and questions his secular credentials. Similarly, Nitish Kumar, in his address, harped on his “inclusive approach” as opposed to what he considers Modi’s “exclusivist” methods. J&K CM Omar Abdullah used his I-Day speech to attack the BJP for fanning communal clashes in Kishtwar, they said.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1108302.aspx

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CBI finds common link in Haren Pandya murder, Ishrat encounter (Aug 15, 2013, Indian Express)

The CBI has reportedly found that three men are common to cases pertaining to the assassination of BJP leader Haren Pandya and the encounters of Ishrat Jahan and three others, and Sadiq Jamal Mehtar. These three incidents occurred within one and a half years – from January 2003 to June 2004. Three men, identified as C1, C2 and Javabhai, who played crucial roles in the encounter of Ishrat Jahan and disappeared afterwards, as per the CBI chargesheet, are suspected to have played Intelligence Bureau decoys who brought the victims to Gujarat.

As per CBI sources, C1 and C2, also identified as Asad and Owaish, were rounded up as suspects and detained for the murder of Haren Pandya in 2003. The CBI doesn’t have exact information about the duo, but has confirmed that they are Gujaratis and right now “untraceable”. Their names figured in the statement of police inspector Bharat A Patel, who described them as “sources of accused IPS officer G L Singhal”, who was then the assistant commissioner of police at the Detection of Crime Branch, Ahmedabad. The CBI chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan case stated that Singhal handed over C1 and C2 to Rajinder Kumar.

“The duo were sent to Pakistan for a covert operation by the then joint director, Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau, Rajinder Kumar. They were trained by the LeT and came back as double agents. Our investigation has revealed that they are from Gujarat, but we don’t know what happened to them,” said a source. Apparently, they passed on information about Zeeshan Johar and Amjadali Rana, alleged Pakistanis killed in the Ishrat encounter, having entered India for a terror strike in Gujarat via Jammu and Kashmir. According to investigators, the duo were used as decoys for bringing Johar to Gujarat to be handed over to the IB officials.

The CBI is not clear about Rana. Sources said that Rana met Javed Sheikh and Ishrat Jahan in Uttar Pradesh. The CBI suspects that Rana was an LeT operative. He has been described in statements annexed to the chargesheet as using a satellite phone and wanting to buy a country-made pistol from UP. Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Ishrat and Rana apparently stayed at Hotel Mezban in Lucknow. Javabhai’s name figures in the statement of Javed’s widow Sajeda’s second husband, Asif Iqbal Sheikh. The CBI has evidence indicating that Javabhai was an “informer” for an assistant central Intelligence officer (ACIO) based in Mumbai in 2003, who has since retired, and whose name figures in Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter case. Sadiq was killed on January 13, 2003.

The CBI, which is probing this case, suspects a major role of intelligence officials. As per Asif’s statement, Javabhai and Javed used to run a company, Al Rehman Enterprises, in Mumbai, supplying manpower to Dubai-based companies. Asif said that when he asked Javabhai whether he had any role in Javed’s encounter, “he didn’t want to talk about it”. Since then Javabhai has been missing. CBI sources said , Javabhai called Javed when he was in Kerala, days before the encounter, and told him to come to Ahmedabad.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1155698/

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Karat sees BJP, RSS role in recent communal clashes (Aug 20, 2013, The Hindu)

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will soon start deliberations to forge alliances with non-Congress secular parties for the coming Assembly elections followed by Lok Sabha election. “We have had a detailed discussion on the political situation and preparations for the Lok Sabha polls in various States and have identified certain States where we can have electoral understanding with non-Congress secular parties,” CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters at the end of the party’s Central Committee meeting.

Mr. Karat expressed concern at growing communal incidents, including in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar. “In all these incidents, there are distinct links with the activities of the BJP-RSS,” he said. “The rise in communal incidents is linked to the aggressive activities of the BJP-RSS combine. In Bihar, in Nawada and Bettiah, provocative slogans and symbols associated with RSS-BJP combine were on display.”

On electoral alliances, he said Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Assam were some States where the CPI(M) was looking for regional partners. “It is no secret” that parties such as the AIADMK, the BJD and the Asom Gana Parishad have had “understanding with the Left parties in the past.” He, however, added that no discussions were held with these parties as yet, but discussions would be held.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/karat-sees-bjp-rss-role-in-recent-communal-clashes/article5040202.ece

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Stop communal forces in elections, says PM (Aug 20, 2013, IBN)

In a remark that could be seen as a direct hit on BJP and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday warned against the communalforces which ‘need to be defeated’ in the elections as they could divide the society. “India is a vast modern nation. Along with several religions, it has several languages and sects. Many times, this diversity is exploited to create a divide among us,” he said at a function organised in New Delhi to give the away Rajiv Gandhi Sadhbhavna Award to sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. The award was presented by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister.

“A few days back, there was communal violence in the country. From that we should take lessons that there should never be laxity in the efforts to stop communal forces,” Singh said. “We have to oppose such communal forces all the time, at all levels, whether it is daily life or elections,” he said. The Prime Minister underlined that “it is the responsibility of all political parties, all sections of the society and duty of all of us to ensure that such efforts are defeated.” Though Singh did not name anyone in particular, his comments could be seen as directed against Modi, BJP’s virtual face for the next Lok Sabha elections who is being viewed by Congress as a “divisive” figure.

Singh referred to the recent violence in Kishtwar town of Jammu and Kashmir and said lessons needed to be learnt from that so that there is no laxity in the efforts to stop communal forces. Singh called for continued efforts to promote communal harmony so that “there is never mistrust for each other and nobody is able to create divide among us. This will be real tribute to Rajiv Gandhi”. Speaking on the occasion, Sonia Gandhi said a divided society cannot progress with all its strength. “The founders of our country implemented this in their lives. Soon after Independence, Gandhiji and later Indiraji and Rajivji paid the price for this. These are not simple episodes of history. This will always be imbibed in the history of new India and continue to provide light to the society. Lamp gives light by burning itself,” she said. She said as her husband had realised that narrow mentality was dividing the society, he had launched a series of Sadbhavana yatras just before he was assassinated.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/stop-communal-forces-in-elections-says-pm/415824-3-244.html

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Uttar Pradesh government refuses permission for VHP yatra over Ram Temple issue (Aug 19, 2013, IBN)

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad was refused permission by the Uttar Pradesh government for a yatra from Ayodhya to push for Ram Temple at the disputed site, just days after it asked Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to work as a bridge between Hindus and Muslims on the issue on Monday. Principal Secretary, Home, RM Srivastava said the VHP leader Ashok Singhal had sent a letter giving details of the ‘Chaurasi Kosi yatra’ (pilgrimage) between August 25 and September 13 which said “that the yatra is being organised with the demand of the construction of the temple at the disputed site.”

The permission for the yatra was refused as the Supreme Court had ordered status quo at the disputed site, he said. “After the (Ayodhya) judgement was passed by the special bench of the High Court, one party moved to the SC which directed to maintain status quo,” he told reporters. Srivastava said that they had a discussion with the district magistrates and police chiefs of six districts to be covered in the yatra, who also requested that giving permission would not be right.

The yatra would have started from Ayodhya and covered the districts of Faizabad, Barabanki, Gonda, Ambedkarnagar, Basti and Bahraich before concluding in Ayodhya. The official also contended that the traditional pilgrimage by Hindus on the route is already complete and “it will not be right to give permission for a new tradition.” “Keeping in view the situation, the government has decided not to give permission for the proposed yatra,” he said. The VHP condemned the decision alleging that it violated basic religious rights.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/up-govt-bans-vhp-yatra-over-ram-temple-issue/415581-3-242.html

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NIA quizzes two Delhi Police officials in Liyaqat case (Aug 20, 2013, Times of India)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is closing in on the Delhi Police in its investigation into the arrest of Liyaqat Shah. The agency on Monday questioned two officers of the Delhi Police’s special cell, including DCP Sanjeev Yadav. It was under Yadav that a special cell team had arrested Shah in March from near Gorakhpur alleging him to be a Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) terrorist planning attack in the national Capital. Besides Yadav, ACP Manish Chandra was also quizzed by NIA officials as they were probing the circumstances leading to the arrest of Shah, who was returning fromPakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as per the surrender policy of the Jammu & Kashmir government, sources said.

The statements of the two officers were recorded by the NIA, the sources said, adding the focus of the questions by the probe agency was on the source of the intelligence input received by the Delhi Police. The two officers were allegedly not forthcoming with the information and NIA may again summon them along with other members of the Special Cell who were engaged in the operation. “We have questioned some witnesses in the case and further investigation is on,” said a senior NIA officer. The development comes days after a non-bailable warrant was issued against an alleged Shah aide Sabir Pathan who according to the Delhi Police had kept arms and ammunition in an old Delhi hotel for Shah.

Interestingly, he had mentioned the Special Cell’s address on Lodhi Road in the hotel’s register as his while booking the room. Shah was arrested on March 20 while crossing the Indo-Nepal border in Gorakhpur with his family. While the family proceeded to Kashmir, Shah was brought here and arrested on charges of plotting terror strikes, a charge he denied. His arrest led to bitter exchange of words between Jammu & Kashmir Police and Delhi Police. The incident also saw an intervention by J&K CM Omar Abdullah who demanded an NIA probe.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/21928672.cms

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Scholarship for minorities: Centre criticizes Gujarat in SC (Aug 17, 2013, Times of India)

The Centre has criticized Gujarat government for challenging its pre-matriculation scholarship scheme for students of minority communities in the Supreme Court. In an affidavit filed in compliance with the apex court’s order seeking its response to Gujarat government plea against the scheme, the Centre justified the scheme and slammed the state government for opposing the plea.

Referring to Rajinder Sachar Committee report, the Centre submitted poverty among Muslims in Gujarat is higher than SCs/STs. “The Sachar Committee found a majority of Muslims living in urban areas in Gujarat and, in these areas, poverty amongst Muslims in Gujarat is higher than SCs/STs,” it said. The scheme is for students belonging to five religious minorities, including Muslims, whose parents have annual income below Rs 1 lakh.

In this scheme launched in 2008, the Central government gives 75% of the scholarship amount while states have to bear the rest 25%. The apex court had issued a notice to Centre on May 7 on Gujarat government’s plea challenging the constitutional validity of the scheme. The state government moved the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat HC verdict upholding the constitutional validity of the scheme.

Gujarat government argued the Centre’s scholarship for minorities is a scheme based on religion and the Centre cannot compel the state to implement it and that a similar scheme was in place in the state for all poor students irrespective of their religion. A five-judge Constitution bench of the HC had by a majority verdict rejected Gujarat government’s contention that the scheme was discriminatory and directed it to implement the scheme. The 3-2 verdict of the HC had said the scheme cannot be equated with any kind of reservation and it was an “affirmative action” and “not discriminatory” in nature. The minority verdict had held it as discriminatory.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/21881543.cms

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Protests for united AP intensifies despite ESMA threat (Aug 19, 2013, Deccan Herald)

The agitation by the pro-united Andhra employees unions against the proposed division of the state would intensify further, its leaders warned today. Asserting that invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) would not prevent them from participating in the agitation, they said the stir would be joined by other employees like teachers. In Srikakulam, APNGOs Association president P Ashok Babu threatened to bring emergency services under the ambit of the indefinite strike from September 1.

He said at least two lakh government employees from Seemandhra region will soon hold a public meeting in Hyderabad to make Centre aware of the strong sentiments of people from Andhra-Rayalaseema regions over united Andhra Pradesh. Babu said the strike would continue irrespective of the state government’s move to clamp ESMA. “There will be no let up in indefinite strike being observed in Seemandhra till Congress rolls back its decision on creation of Telangana. Promulgation of ESMA will not have any effect on the strike,” Babu told a public meeting at Srikakulam.

The meeting was organised by the district Joint Action Committee (JAC) representing government employees, RTC employees, advocates, teachers unions and students organisations. “Why did government not invoke ESMA when employees from Telangana region observed strike for about 42 days ? We started the movement just a week back,” Babu said. Meanwhile, various JAC leaders who also addressed the rally said that “alternatives” would be found out to protect striking employees from the provisions of ESMA.

The Finance Department of Andhra Pradesh government on August 17, issued an order prohibiting with immediate effect strikes in the treasury, pay and accounts and works accounts wings for the next six months, against the backdrop of the indefinite stir. The pro-united AP teachers unions’ announced yesterday that they would join the agitation from August 21. The employees of various departments of the state government had begun an indefinite strike on August 13. Meanwhile, protests by pro-united AP employees in Hyderabad continued today with the staff of power utilities taking out a protest here.

Protests like rallies, human chains, fasts, sit-ins continued across the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions today against the division of Andhra Pradesh. YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) Honorary President Y S Vijayamma began a hunger strike in Guntur today. Several MLAs and other leaders of both YSRCP and TDP have been holding fasts in the two regions in the wake of the ruling Congress announcing its decision in favour of separate Telangana on July 30.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/352002/protests-united-ap-intensifies-despite.html

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Opinions and Editorials

Narendra Modi, British Invitation And Universal Jurisdiction – By N. Jayaram (Aug 16, 2013, Countercurrents)

Some British MPs have invited Narendra Modi, chief minister of India’s Gujarat state, to visit and address the House of Commons. … The news is certain to divide people in India and Britain alike. Social networking sites have been abuzz with heated exchanges among Indians on the issue. In Britain too voices have been raised against the invitation. Many Indians say Modi presided over an anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002 in which more than 2,000 people were killed. Genocidal slogans were openly aired, including calls for Muslim women to be raped, calls that seem to have been acted on in numerous instances. Although some of his associates have been convicted and sentenced for their hand in the events, Modi has thus far evaded any form of accountability, subverting attempts by courts at various levels to indict him for his role in stoking the killings, rapes and other acts of violence. He has commandeered the services of many of India’s top lawyers, paying handsomely for their services. Massive monies have also been spent on public relations and Modi has emerged as the de facto prime ministerial candidate of his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party – currently the principal opposition – ahead of general elections to be called latest by mid-2014.

For human rights groups, the prospect of Modi’s London visit is not a crisis but an opportunity. Should he take up the invitation, they could move courts for his arrest and trial under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction for crimes against humanity. Although Universal Jurisdiction was not invoked in the 1998 arrest of Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet in London, it put worldwide focus on the principle. Judge Baltasar Garzon in Spain called for his arrest on the ground that some of the thousands of victims of human rights abuses in Chile after the 1973 coup were Spanish citizens. Britain’s Law Lords ruled that Pinochet could not cite diplomatic immunity as certain crimes were too serious for that international arrangement to be invoked. Pinochet spent nearly a year and a half under mostly house arrest.

Margaret Thatcher, who was a cheerleader for Pinochet’s reign of terror and received his backing during the Falklands/Malvinas war against Argentina in 1982 in return, lobbied hard for his release. The then US President George H.W. Bush added his weight to the lobbying. In 2000, Home Secretary Jack Straw announced that Pinochet would be freed on health grounds. Protests from jurists and medical experts fell on deaf ears. A little while after Pinochet’s return to Chile, justice began to catch up with him: courts were no longer inclined to respect the immunity he had gotten for himself from the legislature. Claims of health issues kept him from facing justice, however, and he died a free man in 2006. Chile has matured greatly in the interim. It is not unlikely that legal action against Modi abroad might jolt Indian courts too to go more robustly after him and others alleged to have committed crimes against humanity than they have done thus far.

Pinochet’s arrest and the debate over his fate made front-page news worldwide. It was one of the greatest episodes in international legal history. The words Universal Jurisdiction gained currency beyond the groves of academe. Given the prominent role in the Chilean coup of Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, there is widespread speculation that he has difficulty making travel plans for fear of being slapped with a warrant like that by Judge Garzon. In 2011, former US president George W. Bush was forced to call off a trip to Switzerland in view of threats of large-scale protests. Amnesty International had asked the Swiss authorities to investigate his role in torture. Amnesty was told the authorities had no plans to prosecute Bush. But there have been rumblings in other countries including Spain and Germany, with threats of investigations against leading US officials for torture and other crimes against humanity. …

Meanwhile Modi continues to be denied a US visa because of his alleged role in the 2002 pogrom. Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, has said that in her view that policy should remain even though she has acknowledged that the State Department might have to take into consideration other issues such as trade and security. India has not signed the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court in 2002. China, the United States and Israel are among a number of countries that have chosen to stay out. Thus far the ICC, which has 122 members, has only been able to net perpetrators of mass crimes in Africa. The idea that crimes against humanity such as those that occurred in New Delhi in 1984 or Gujarat in 2002 need to be investigated and punished has yet to catch on in India. But it is an idea whose time may yet come.

http://www.countercurrents.org/jayaram160813.htm

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Waving the wrong flag – Editorial (Aug 17, 2013, The Hindu)

From the moment he was anointed the head of the campaign committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi seemed intent on drawing all attention to his own self. With his work area extended beyond Gujarat to the national stage, Mr. Modi evidently longs to be recognised as the face of the opposition to the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre. It was no surprise, then, that he used his Independence Day speech in Bhuj to launch a frontal attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Regrettably, the unfurling of the national flag was turned into an occasion to pursue partisan politics as Mr. Modi sought “freedom” from rulers with a “slave mentality” and blamed Dr. Singh for not being “tough” on Pakistan.

While the Congress leaves Modi-bashing to second-rung leaders like Digvijay Singh, Mr. Modi tirelessly picks on those he wants to rival, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. In his new role as prime ministerial challenger, Mr. Modi is entitled to hit out at the enemy whenever he gets an opportunity but he should remain within the bounds of propriety. An Independence Day function led by an elected official is not a party rally. Even within the BJP, L.K. Advani was inclined to take a jibe at Mr. Modi by pointing out that Dr. Singh’s speech did not criticise anyone. The veteran leader knew that such excesses of rhetoric on a day that belongs to all Indians regardless of their ascriptive or political identities will not win the party any new friends.

Ironically, less than a week ago, while addressing a public meeting in Hyderabad, Mr. Modi appeared to accept the fact that the BJP needed to woo new allies and influence more people before the next general election. That is why he actively wooed the Telugu Desam Party and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. This was tacit admission that while his brand of aggressive Hindutva could serve to excite the traditional voters of the BJP, he would still have to find allies in the south and broaden the National Democratic Alliance if his prime ministerial ambitions were to have any meaning at all.

The overtures to the TDP and the AIADMK, both former allies of the BJP, were especially significant as he was the person responsible for the exit of the Janata Dal (United) from the NDA. While a BJP-TDP adjustment could win the NDA some seats in Telangana, Mr. Modi hopes his personal equations with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa will eventually be translated into firm political support. But if he is serious about reaching out to others, Mr. Modi will have to decide what kind of politics he intends to pursue. Shock and awe tactics of the kind we saw on August 15 are likely to rebound on him.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/waving-the-wrong-flag/article5029718.ece

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Terror tale from WB: 2 Muslim youths languishing in jail without chargesheet for 5 years – By Zaidul Haque (Aug 10, 2013, TwoCircles.net)

Two Muslim youths who were arrested on 29 July 2008 on charges of having links with banned Lashkar-e-Toiba and for carrying out ‘anti-national’ activities are languishing in jail for five years now although the Criminal Investigation Department of West Bengal has failed to even file charge-sheet till date. Within days of the Bangalore serial blasts on 25 July 2008, two Muslim youths Mohammad Mustaque (then 30 years old), a garment trader and Hassanuzzaman (then 21 years old) alias Hassan Master a Para-teacher from Jangipur of Murshidbad were arrested for their suspected connection with the LeT and they are since waiting for their trials behind the dark dungeon. At around 1.30 pm on 29th July, 2008 a CID team of West Bengal reached to Raghunathganj Market in Murshidabad to nab the alleged linkman. According to then Director General of CID (Operation) Siddhinath Gupta a group of investigating officers of CID knocked at the cloth shop of Mohammad Mustaque and arrested him.

The CID team then reached the Primary School at Raghunathganj area where teacher training was in progress and arrested Hassanuzzaman alias Hassan Master. The leading English Daily of West Bengal, The Telegraph had published the news on its front page on 31 July with the headline, “Lashkar camp in Bengal village.” Other English and Bengali dailies had also published the news in its front pages. After the arrests of Mustaque and Hassanuzzaman, then DG of CID (Operation) Siddhinath Gupta had told journalists that Jammu and Kashmir police had tipped off his office about the arrested persons and that Mustaque was giving shelter to a Pakistani national Sikandar Azam in his house, a Let militant operating from Bangladesh, who was later arrested in J&K. The Lashkar had apparently paid Rs 2 lakhs to them for providing Sikandar with logistical support. CID sleuths had also alleged then that Mustaque had started an organisation called Ahle-Hadith and that they were trying to start a camp in Jangipur to motivate local youths to join the extremist organization and distributed leaflets in Urdu and English. Mustaque had allegedly met a LeT leader during a visit to Biratnagar in Nepal. Siddhinath Gupta had also told journalists then that the police had found a laptop, pen-drive, video, Urdu leaflets, etc from Mustaque’s house at village Gopalnagar.

CID had produced the duo at the Jangipur Court and Public prosecutor had told the court that laptop, objectionable pictures, fake Indian currency of 100 and 500 notes, Hindi and Urdu leaflets, booklets, pen drive, etc were confiscated. CID had filed the case against the Mustaque and Hassanuzzamn under the Indian Penal Code 489B, 489C, 120, 121, 121A and 124. Jangipur sub-judicial court had then ordered for 14 days police custody and accepted appeal of CID to take them to Kolkata for interrogation. They were in Alipore Jail for few days and later transferred to the Baharampur Jail in Murshdiabad, where they are awaiting their fate. Five years have passed since then, but the CID has not filed the charge-sheet yet in the court. And the two youths are still languishing in jails, without even a fair trial. Mohammad Mustaque, who was 30 at the time of his arrest, was a garments trader at Raghunathganj Town in Murshidabad district. Son of Yusuf Ali, he hails from an influential family in the village of Gopalnagar in the Raghunaganj sub-division of Jangipur in the Murshidabad district, and was himself a Bengali Honours graduate.

Mustaque was arrested in 2001 too for few days allegedly for having a book on Ossama bin Laden, but was later released without any action. His wife Daliara Bibi and three children (one son and two daughters) are waiting for justice without much hope though. In fact Daliara was pregnant with third child for seven months when Mustaque was arrested and youngest daughter Sanjida Firdaus has never seen his father. Speaking to TCN, Mustaque’s wife Daliara Bibi said that she can never forget that fateful day when his husband was brought home handcuffed. Police had entered her bedroom forcibly, took one thousand rupees cash that was in the almirah, laptop, few books, etc, she said, adding that no ‘illegal’ stuff was there. She further said that her husband is innocent and that all allegations against him are fabricated. She was forced to sign on a white paper too she added. Daliara Bibi fails to understand why her husband is in jail even after five years, if police has failed to even file the charge-sheet.

Hassanuzzaman was a Para-teacher of Mathpara Primary school, who lived at Mahammadpur under the Ward no 11 of Jangipur Municipality area. He was only 21 years old when he was arrested. His mother Fatema Bewa was crying continuously for her “innocent son” when TCN contacted her. She alleged that without even any proven charges her son has to spend his precious days in dark cell of the Baharampur prison. Is keeping beard or being devout Muslim a crime, she asks? She also told TCN that when the police had come looking for Hassanuzzaman, he was incidentally not home at the time and hence they had brutally beaten her other son Afzal Hossain, who had already sustained fracture due to a train accident. She too accused the police of falsely implicating her son and alleged that all charges against her son are fake. They are too poor to bear the cost of the trial, but are thankful to the benevolent advocates and some human rights organisations who have come forward for help. …

http://twocircles.net/2013jun10/terror_tale_wb_2_muslim_youths_languishing_jails_without_chargesheet_5_years.html

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A Comparison of Victim-Reported and Police-Recorded Crime in India – By Kislaya Prasad (Aug 17, 2013, EPW)

The use of police-recorded crime data to make inferences about patterns of crime presents some serious difficulties. Victims of crime may choose not to report crime to police, and when they do, police may choose not to record crime. As a consequence, the prevalence of crime may be understated by police statistics. Crime statistics are not just used to make statements about how much crime is present, but also to make comparisons across regions and allocate critical resources. If police statistics are uniformly understated, they may still be usable for this purpose because regions with higher actual crime will also have higher police-recorded crimes.

However, it is not clear that uniform under-reporting is to be expected. A variety of factors, such as the number of police (Levitt 1998; de Tella and Schargrodsky 2004), the level of development (Soares 2004), and demographic characteristics (Dreze and Khera 2000) can be expected to affect both the prevalence of crime in a region as well as its reporting/recording. This is problematic for comparisons – just because police recorded crime is higher in a region, it does not follow that actual crime is also higher (Vollaard and Hamed 2012). The absence of a direct link between crime and its recording by police also makes it difficult to determine what factors affect crime. I illustrate with the example of two hypothetical regions that are identical, except that one has more policemen than the other. Suppose the presence of more policemen has a deterrent effect on crime (fewer crimes are committed in the more heavily policed region).

Suppose also that the presence of more policemen means that more crimes will be recorded (e g, because of proximity of victims to police stations). Now the region with more policemen could have both lower actual crime and more recorded crime. This will distort comparisons and may also lead to faulty inferences about the link between policing and crime. One way to circumvent the problems associated with policerecorded data is to use victim-reported crime data. Such data is typically gathered in surveys where respondents are asked questions such as “at any time during the past year, did somebody steal property that belonged to you?”. Victimisation surveys provide an alternative source of crime data and are conducted annually in many countries – an example being the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales (see Kershaw et al 2008). As far as I am aware, nothing comparable exists at the all-India level. In this paper, I use unique data from the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) which was undertaken in 2005 jointly by researchers from the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland (Desai et al 2005; Desai et al 2010).

Although crime was not the specific focus of the survey, it included a small number of questions to assess whether respondents were victims of crime. Respondents were asked whether they had been victims of theft or burglary. They were also asked if someone had hurt or threatened them. Data from the survey can be compared with the primary source for police-recorded crime data in India – Crime in India – compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Theft and burglary are corresponding categories in the two data sets, but “hurt or threatened” is not. A comparison of even a narrow slice of data from the two sources can give us an idea of the ways in which police-recorded data differs from victim-reported data, and provides a valuable perspective on appropriate uses of police data. The direct comparison between similar crime categories gives us a measure of the extent of under-recording of crime. Although to some extent, an artefact of the categories of crime reported in the IHDS (where the emphasis is property crime rather than violent crime), the magnitude is surprisingly large compared to NCRB data.

Even if understated, police statistics could still reflect crime patterns if regions with high victimreported crime also have high police-recorded crime. To determine if this is so, I examine whether victim-reported crime is a significant predictor of police-recorded crime. Such a relationship would indicate that police-recorded crime statistics are informative of actual crimes, and at the very least, allow us to distinguish between high and low crime regions based on police statistics. Indeed, after the inclusion of suitable controls, there is a positive and significant relationship between policerecorded and victim-reported crime. Finally, the availability of both police-recorded and victim-reported crime data makes it possible to examine how the relationship between crime and other variables of interest, such as police strength, changes with the data used (i e, whether police-recorded or victimreported). For some questions of interest – such as whether police strength has a negative relationship with crime – I show that conclusions hinge critically upon whether one uses victimreported or police-recorded crime statistics. …

http://www.epw.in/system/files/pdf/2013_48/33/A_Comparison_of_VictimReported_and_PoliceRecorded_Crime_in_India.pdf

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Will The House Be Called To Order? – By Ajit Sahi (Jul 27, 2013, Tehelka)

Everyone knows Raja Bhaiyya, the dreaded don from Uttar Pradesh who earned his first criminal case as a teenager and who has a symbiotic relationship with the prisons either as an inmate or as the minister tasked with running them. But ever heard of Bhaiyya Raja? A two-term former MLA from the Kama Sutra town of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, 66-year-old Ashok Veer Vikram Singh aka Bhaiyya Raja has been an unchallenged don for decades. Arrested for murder in the 1990s, Bhaiyya Raja decided to fight his first election from prison. He won on a not-so-subtle slogan of Mohar lagegi haathi pe, varna goli chhaati pe (Stamp the elephant or take a bullet on your chest), the elephant being his election symbol.

On winning, he rode an elephant to the Assembly. The Indian Mafia, a 1991 book, alleged that he used pythons to terrorise women into sexual acts. It was rumoured that he bred crocodiles that grew fat on the flesh of his dead rivals. On 31 May, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2009 murder of a grandniece who he sexually exploited and forced to undergo an abortion. Is his political career over? Yes and no. Bhaiyya Raja’s wife, Asha Rani, is still a BJP MLA, though she is accused of abetting a woman’s suicide at her home six years ago. She is currently free on bail.

The pattern finds an echo. Jagmato Devi, a JD(U) MLA in Bihar, had entered politics in 2005 after the murder of her husband. She died suddenly in 2011. As her son, Ajay Singh, is charged in over two dozen cases of murder, kidnapping and extortion, he was denied a ticket. So he advertised for a wife. Only registered voters at least 25 years old and with voter ID cards were shortlisted. He married one of the two finalists a day before nominations began for the by-election to fill his mother’s seat. His wife Kavita, a political naïf, is now a JD(U) MLA. Singh answers her phone and runs her politics.

“The fundamental reason why criminals with money and muscle are able to dominate politics is because no political party has seriously pursued electoral reforms,” admits Congress leader and Information & Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari. “In the absence of any checks and balances in the system, any and every petty criminal or mafia don finds it to be the most convenient route to the levers of power.” bjp leader and former minister Rajeev Pratap Rudy is more blunt: “After 60 years of experimenting, we have realised that the system is faulty and cannot deliver (clean politics).” …

http://www.tehelka.com/will-the-house-be-called-to-order-lp/

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Silence Is Not An Option – By Aradhna Wal (Aug 17, 2013, Tehelka)

On a muggy monsoon evening in a tiny village in Haryana, 16-year-old Manju, her voice steady and clear, recounts the story of the day she was raped. It is a story that in its horrifying essentials can be heard in villages across the state, across, for that matter, the country. On 6 August 2012, Manju, a Dalit from Kalsi village in Karnal district, was waylaid on her way to school. Two men, Ajay and Krishen, from the upper-caste Rod community, allegedly forced her into their car and took turns to rape her. Warning her to hold her tongue, they dumped her near her school. It took Manju two weeks to admit to her mother that she had been raped. Her mother already knew. A neighbour implicated in the crime allegedly gloated about her role in the rape, gloated about Manju’s lost honour. Manju’s mother was steadfast in her support for her daughter. Accounts differ about who said what but the upshot is that less than a month after the gangrape, Manju’s mother disappeared. On 3 September, her body was found in a ditch next to a small canal that runs by the village. Like her daughter, she too had been gangraped. Her murderers, allegedly her daughter’s rapists, had thrown acid on her and strangled her with her own chunni.

It’s hard to look Manju in the eye when she tells you her story, though she compels you to by having no trouble looking you directly in the eye. Her tone is matter of fact, a product of recounting these same events to a barrage of police, lawyers and activists. Her face is pale and since the rape she has fallen ill with alarming frequency. But her voice doesn’t waver, breaking slightly only when she talks about her mother. Ordinarily, Manju’s story might just have been filed away as another statistic in a state full of terrible crimes against women and Scheduled Castes (to be both is deadly), but she decided to do something radical – seek justice and redress. She is now part of a more heartening statistic, that of young Dalit women in small clusters across Haryanawho are standing up and speaking out against the caste-based discrimination and violence that blights their lives. There is a change happening in Dalit communities,” observes Brinda Karat, CPM leader and vice-president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). “It stems from young Dalit girls who are challenging the status quo, unlike their parents 10 years ago.” These girls are taking on an entire, entrenched culture of bigotry as individuals and as community organisers, fighting for the right to education, to dignity of labour, to not be silenced. It is a fierce and necessary resistance.

But taking a stand requires deep reserves of courage. Manju and her father Dharampal, who used to work on the paddy fields owned by Rods, recall how when they went to the police to report both the gangrape and the murder, SI Ram Prakash at the nearby Butana Police Station refused to register their FIR. Prakash, also a Rod, allegedly threatened and insulted them because they were Dhanuks, a Dalit subcaste. It took pressure from NGO workers to ensure that the complaint was lodged at all and the accused arrested. Eventually, as is mandated by the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, Dharampal received compensation from the Deputy Commissioner of Karnal: Rs 60,000 for his daughter’s rape and Rs 3.75 lakh for the murder of his wife. The accused are currently under trial for rape in a specially constituted fast-track court. Since the Justice Verma Commission report, each district in Haryana is now supposed to try rape cases in these courts. The meagre financial compensation is scant comfort for Dharampal, who is no longer employed on fields owned by the dominant Rod community. He scratches out a living now from casual work at uncertain intervals. A job promised to him by the Deputy Commissioner has not materialised. Manju’s illnesses, her need to look after younger siblings and lack of money have forced her to drop out of school. Barring extended family, the Dalits in their village no longer speak to them, angered by Dharampal’s decision to name his neighbour, Kusum – a Dalit woman – as the third accused in the trial.

It was Kusum, who the family say, taunted Manju’s mother about the rape. Kusum, they allege, colluded with Ajay and Krishen possibly for financial gain. Still, Manju remains determined to live life on her terms. She may have dropped out of school but continues to study commerce through tuitions. “Mujhe yahaan se nikalna hai (I have to get out of here),” she says, gesturing around the little galli where her house stands. After a year, her neighbours still avert their faces when asked about Manju’s rape. Statistically, violence against Dalits in Haryana, the country’s caste-ridden heartland in the imaginations of many, does not appear as rife as in many other states. According to the 2011 census, Haryana’s population was 2.5 crore and Dalits, a government report calculates, make up 19.35 percent of that population. It’s a significant slice, but according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures, last year there were only 252 crimes reported against Scheduled Castes. It’s a rate of only 4.93 crimes per 1 lakh SC/ST people, compared to 29 in Bihar and a national rate of 16.71.

“In Haryana,” says PL Punia, a Dalit leader of the Congress and chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, “incidents against Dalits may be fewer, but they are more brutal. The message from that one incident is intended to spread to the whole community.” But, he adds, somewhat cryptically, “Dalits are not that oppressed. They are getting an education. Administration is a little lax (in dealing with crimes against Dalits) but a proper investigation is always carried out against those who commit crimes.” The NCRB numbers suggest otherwise. If there are few reported crimes against Dalitsin Haryana, the conviction rate, at 7.9 percent, is abysmal, compared to the national rate of 23.9 percent. And at 50.31 crimes reported per 1 lakh people, the state has one of the worst records of crime against women. Between September to October last year, 21 rapes were reported in just 45 days. It is perhaps a sign of progress that so many cases were reported at all. Asha Kowtal, the general secretary of the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), a movement within the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, describes the rash of rapes as putting Haryana in “an embarrassing spotlight and forcing the police to work faster”. The efforts of such organisations to persuade reluctant girls, some of whom say nothing about their rapes for 10-15 days, to press charges and speak out about being raped deserves credit. It requires near constant vigilance to try and achieve a semblance of justice for Dalit women.…

http://www.tehelka.com/silence-is-not-an-option/

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