IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 25th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

RSS is threat to the nation, says MPCC (Aug 20, 2014, Business Standard)

Terming the RSS a “threat” to the nation, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) today said its ideology is against the secular constitution of the country. “We have a secular constitution, as per which every individual has a right to follow the religion of his choice. But people like (RSS president) Mohan Bhagwat try to divide people by making communal statements,” Thakre said here referring to Bhagwat’s recent remark that India is a Hindu nation and Hindutva is its identity.

Thakre was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function organised to celebrate the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi today. He said that although it was the Congress that initiated the metro rail projects in Maharashtra, the Opposition was trying to take its credit. “Whether it is in Pune or Nagpur, it is the Congress that has initiated the metro rail projects for the benefit of the people of Maharashtra. But the Modi government is trying to take undue credit. We will not let them mislead the people of the state,” he said.

The statement comes a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Nagpur to lay the foundation stone for the 39 km Nagpur Metro project. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had recently refuted allegations of State Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar that the Centre had cleared Metro project for Nagpur ahead of Pune for “political gains”.

Thakre added that the party leadership has not instructed Prithviraj Chavan about not sharing stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The CM has not been asked to stay away from events involving PM Narendra Modi. But he has been asked to avoid public rallies with him,” Thakre said.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/rss-is-threat-to-the-nation-says-mpcc-114082001380_1.html

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Activists demand FIR against Bhagwat over Hindu comment (Aug 20, 2014, Times of India)

Objecting strongly to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s controversial statement that India is a Hindu nation and Hindutva is its identity, a group of Muslim community leaders and activists have approached the police to file a complaint against Bhagwat. On Wednesday, a delegation reached the MRA Marg police station to lodge a case but an officer told them that they would file an FIR against Bhagwat only once instructions come from higher police authorities.

“We will not allow Bhagwat to go unchallenged. His statement is a hidden threat to minorities. He wants to say that non-Hindus in the country must forsake their religious and cultural identities. It is an assault on our multicultural ethos,” said All-India Milli Council’s M A Khalid, who was among the leaders trying to file the FIR.

Human rights activist Dr Azeemuddin said Bhagwat’s statement is shocking, but not surprising. “RSS has been nursing the dream of making India a Hindu nation. With the BJP in power at the Centre, the Sangh Parivar feels encouraged to push this long-cherished Hindutva agenda. But this is a dangerous tendency and will weaken the country’s secular fabric. The government must rein in such elements before it is too late,” said Azeemuddin.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/40525399.cms

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PUCL seeks probe into inflammatory Rajasthan police intelligence note (Aug 20, 2014, The Hindu)

There is outrage among the minority community over a Rajasthan police (intelligence) note, which claims that mosques were coming up on lands that poor Hindu families here had been given incentives to sell. The note, signed by the Additional Director-General of Police, has stated specific instances and recommended “appropriate action”.

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties on Tuesday demanded a panel inquiry into the allegations in the note after two local newspapers reported the matter on August 15. The note, sent to the Special Branch on July 16, says, “[P]oor Hindu community members who live next to Muslim abadi (populated) areas, are being provided incentives to sell their land for construction of religious places.”

It further says that this was being done by an organisation called Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) and names several industrialists who support its activities. Following a fact-finding mission — the PUCL came to the conclusion that the leaking of the note suggested vested interests were seeking to polarise communities.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pucl-seeks-probe-into-inflammatory-rajasthan-police-intelligence-note/article6332538.ece

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567 FIRs, countless promises later, riot victims still wait for justice (Aug 26, 2014, Indian Express)

A little more than a year after the Samajwadi Party came to power in Uttar Pradesh, riding largely on the support of Muslim voters, communal riots ravaged Muzaffarnagar. The violence, which began on September 7, 2013, soon spiralled out of control, claiming at least 65 lives and displacing more than 50,000 Muslims.

The aftermath saw mass exodus of Muslims from villages, which had been their homes for decades, to seek refuge in hastily erected camps across the district. As horror stories of murder, rape and destruction poured in, police went from camp to camp, registering complaints and promising swift justice.

But, despite a total of 567 FIRs being filed and several promises by the state government, victims are still waiting for justice. A year after the riots, investigations are still underway and court proceedings are continuing at a sluggish pace. …

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/crime/567-firs-countless-promises-later-riot-victims-still-wait-for-justice/99/

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Quarrel between children sparks communal clashes in Hapur (Aug 22, 2014, Indian Express)

A minor quarrel between two 15-year-old school children, one Hindu and the other Muslim, spiralled out of control after their families clashed in Bahadurgarh village in Hapur district on Thursday afternoon, pelting stones and setting vehicles ablaze, according to the police. Though the communal flare up did not result in any casualties, about half a dozen shops belonging to both sides were burnt down, while a mosque was also damaged.

“One of the kids, Chand, was from Qureshi community while the other, Gaurav, was from Lodha community. They got into a fight at their school, Lal Bahadur Shastri Inter College, over a trivial matter. Soon after, they informed their families who clashed in the MARKET. This happened at around 2 pm in the afternoon. An FIR has been registered against the rioters under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and 10 persons have been arrested so far,” said R P Pandey, SP (Hapur).

Pandey said that the mosque was being repaired by the district administration and added that the investigation was on to identify others who were involved in rioting. “Due to stone pelting, the side wall of the mosque sustained some minor damage. Also, some miscreant stole the loudspeaker from the mosque. The loudspeaker has been replaced and the mosque is being repaired,” he said.

Heavy police force has been deployed on the ground at Bahadurgarh with civil police officers from Hapur and Ghaziabad districts and the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) present. “Although there won’t be any violence now, there might be some tension at the school. A force has been deployed at the school for a day tomorrow,” an officer said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/quarrel-between-children-sparks-communal-clashes-in-hapur/

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Woman killed in communal clash in Kanpur; 5 cops suspended (Aug 25, 2014, Free Press Journal)

A 50-year-old woman, who was injured in a clash between members of two communities in Ghatampur area here yesterday, succumbed to her injuries today. The deceased, whose house was set on fire by irate mobs, had received 70 cent burns and died in Ursula hospital here, police said. A battery shop owner had also succumbed to burn injuries after his shop was gutted last evening, they said.

With this, death toll of the communal clash has reached to two while four others are undergoing treatment. Meanwhile, five policemen including Chowki incharge of Bheetar village R P Singh, have been suspended for dereliction of their duties, SSP, Kanpur, K Emanuel said. According to police, situation in Bheetar village is limping back to normalcy. Shops in the MARKET have started opening and children have also started going to school, they said.

However, there is still a posse of policemen deployed in the area keeping a hawk’s eye on the troublemakers. So far, 11 people have been arrested and search for around a dozen people is on. Police said the accused will be charged under the National Security Act (NSA).

http://freepressjournal.in/woman-killed-in-communal-clash-in-kanpur-5-cops-suspended/

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Why is BJP adding communal colour to crime against women? (Aug 24, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)

With an aim to give crime against women a communal colour, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday said communal violence is increasing in Uttar Pradesh because of the involvement of a “particular community” (implying Muslims) in sexual violence against women.

Although the BJP dropped the term “love jihad” from its political resolution passed in Vrindavan on Sunday, the last day of the two-day state executive meeting, to protect itself from controversies, but the saffron brigade included in its agenda for the state the rephrased version of the two words. The resolution said “crimes of rape by people of a particular community” and “conversion of Hindu girls” are matter of “serious concerns”. …

The official figure makes it clear that the saffron party is selectively protesting against those crimes against women where victims are Hindus and accused are Muslims. The term ‘Love Jihad’ was coined by the Sangh parivar. It is an alleged activity under which young Muslim boys target girls belonging to non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love.

http://daily.bhaskar.com/news-ht/UP-why-is-bjp-adding-communal-colour-to-crime-against-women-4722929-NOR.html

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Assam-Nagaland border clashes: Three killed in fresh police firing; curfew imposed (Aug 20, 2014, Indian Express)

Three persons were killed and six others were injured in fresh police firing in Assam’s violence-hit Golaghat district. Following the incident, curfew imposed in the town and Rongajan.

Earlier in the day, a police man was injured and a police vehicle and three trucks were set ablaze in Golaghat by a mob that blockaded NH 37 protesting against the police action at Rangajan.

The protestors accusing the police of an unprovoked attack on them at Rangajan on Tuesday, attacked police personnel at Moinapara under Golaghat police station with bamboo sticks and injured one of them seriously, police said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/assam-nagaland-border-clashes-three-killed-in-fresh-police-firing-curfew-imposed/

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Kanpur court gives 10-year jail term to top cop in rape case (Aug 20, 2014, Indian Express)

A local court in Kanpur on Monday sentenced suspended Deputy Superintendent of Police Amarjeet Singh Shahi to 10 years’ imprisonment in the case of a minor Dalit girl’s rape. A native of Punjab, Shahi was in the Army before he joined the UP Police force.

Prosecuting Officer, Kanpur, Chander Lal Sonkar said the court had also imposed a fine of Rs 65,000 on Shahi and directed that Rs 50,000 from it should be given to the victim. He added that Shahi was also sentenced in other sections of the IPC which include abduction and molestation and all these sentences will run simultaneously.

Shahi was last posted in Pratapgarh district and was put under suspension after he was charged with abduction and rape of the girl. The prosecution produced nine witnesses while defence examined 10 witnesses. On Thursday, the court declared him guilty after which Shahi, who was out on bail, was taken into custody.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/kanpur-court-gives-10-year-jail-term-to-top-cop-in-rape-case/99/

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JTSA writes to NHRC demanding immediate intervention in encounter killing of man wanted in cop murder; family alleges it was cold blood murder (Aug 22, 2014, Twocircles.net)

The Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA) has written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) demanding their intervention and probe into alleged encounter killing of 28 year old Firoz alias Fauzi by the Delhi Police on 19 August. His family maintains that he was killed in cold blood, alleging that he was arrested earlier, which in fact was reported in a local Hindi daily. A local daily, Navodaya Times had reported in Hindi on August 18 that “Firoz alias Fauzi, who had over a dozen cases registered against him, was arrested August 17”.

Delhi Police maintains that Fauzi, who was wanted in murder of a cop, was killed in encounter, after he fired at the police. In a press statement, the DCP of the Special Cell, Mr. Sanjeev Yadav, stated: “A shot fired by Fauzi hit inspector Shiv Kumar on his bullet proof jacket and another hit the Gyspsy. The police party fired back in self defence. Fauzi sustained bullet injuries and was moved to GTB hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.”

Fauzi family claims that both he and his wife were missing since July. There is still no news of his wife, but family suspect that she too might be under detention. In the letter to the NHRC, JTSA notes that the alleged encounter killing of Fauzi has “all the markings of a fake encounter,” urging them to “ensure that the NHRC guidelines on encounter killings are followed.”

JTSA has demanded a magisterial enquiry report into the 2006 Sonia Vihar encounter killing be made public, pointing that the said encounter too on 19 August (Tuesday) on Pushta Road, which falls under the Sonia Vihar Police Station. JTSA alleges that the Sonia Vihar seemed to have become a “favourite haunt of encounter specialists.”…

http://twocircles.net/2014aug22/1408699808.html

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Opinions and Editorials

For an India of Equal Liberty – By Martha C Nussbaum (Aug 14, 2014, Open the Magazine)

As we celebrate India’s independence this week, it is easy to focus on economic growth and the competition between nations for advantage in the global MARKET. These issues are certainly important. But we should remember, too, the crucial role of political liberty in creating a nation that remains a model of democratic achievement for the developing world. …

These freedoms are not set in stone, and they are periodically threatened. Freedom of speech is threatened when books are banned and pulped. Freedom of religion is threatened when religious minorities face mob violence. Freedom of association is threatened when individuals are harassed for their group membership, whether left or right, and when sodomy laws make people risk prison for their intimate relationships. All these problems, and still others, make the liberties insecure in today’s India. But their defense is vital to a strong nation, for two reasons. …

People are not truly free to participate in politics, to practice their religion, to speak in public, or to associate, unless they have the chance to choose a wide range of functions for which education is an indispensable prerequisite. If liberties are not just an empty space, but actual human capabilities, then a nation must produce human capabilities, not just refrain from interfering.

Economist James Heckman, winner of the Nobel Prize in 2000, has shown that early intervention in primary education is a win-win for society: if the programs are well designed, including nutrition and work with families, the payoff we observe years later is great. Crime is reduced, the recipients are more productive actors in the economy, and their personal welfare is also greatly improved. So it is not necessary to choose between justice for deprived groups and economic efficiency. A successful economy needs and profits from an educated and healthy work force. Such workers are also enjoying the promises of truly equal political and associational liberty OFFERED in India’s very distinguished Constitution.

http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/voices/for-an-india-of-equal-liberty

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Modi’s silence is most troubling – By Sidharth Bhatia (Aug 22, 2014, Free Press Journal)

No one who has followed the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or indeed the Bharatiya Janata Party over the years will be surprised at RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s contention that India is a “Hindu” country. The emphasis on Hinduism, as the RSS sees it, or its political iteration, Hindutva, as the BJP proclaimed it, are built into their very DNA. M S Golwalkar, one of the most important voices of the RSS in its early years, had outlined the concept of the Hindu nation in his book, ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’ and that forms the basis of the organisation’s worldview. In the late 1980s, seeing an opportunity soon after V P Singh’s cynical appeal to the Other Backward Castes, the BJP took out its Hindutva card, which polarised the nation and paid it good electoral dividends. So why this hue and cry over the RSS chief’s comment? Surely he has not said anything drastically new? If he had repudiated that theory, that would have been news.

More than what he has said we have to take note of when he has said it. The context matters. Barely three months after Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister, Hindutva forces of one kind or the other have come to the forefront and begun pushing their agenda. The books of Dinanath Batra, the man who frightened Penguin into pulping copies of Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism, are now being OFFERED as supplementary reading in Gujarat, while not a day passes without someone or the other declaring that all Indians are Hindus. But none of them is as important as Mohan Bhagwat. He heads the RSS, which is like the mother ship of all Hindutva organisations in the country and when he talks, everyone listens. More worryingly, given the number of RSS appointees in the BJP’s upper echelons, it could soon start taking the shape of policy. …

In a country such as India, any push to create a uniform identity, that too based on religion, is downright dangerous, to say nothing of unconstitutional. Imposing such a programme could result in large scale social upheaval and violence—our sub-continental history is full of such instances. India’s diversity is our great strength and despite flare-ups, that diversity has stood the test of time and contributed to our nationhood and to our growth as a society. At a time when there is a sense of purpose in the country and an optimism about the future, to bring up such disruptive ideas is troubling.

The votaries of Hindutva may not see it that way. They find nothing wrong with either their views or the timing or indeed proceeding with their agenda. Their government is in power with a full majority—who is to stop them from doing what they want? But that should not be allowed to happen. The Prime Minister and the government itself must make it clear that this will not be tolerated. The government was elected on the promise of Achche Din—social disorder will definitely not lead us to that goal.

http://freepressjournal.in/modis-silence-is-most-troubling/

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The silence on the rising communal tempers is deafening – By Harsh Mander (Aug 24, 2014, The Hindustan Times)

In the three months since Narendra Modi’s spectacular triumph, many corners of the country have begun to smoulder in slow fires of orchestrated hate and distrust against India’s Muslims and this is mostly unnoticed by the majority. Only a few violent episodes make it briefly to the front pages of the national Press and television news. But what is unseen is that cumulatively, many small communal skirmishes have contributed to a sustained but decentralised campaign of sectarian hate. This and the studied silence of the prime minister through all of this – except a welcome reference from the Red Fort – have created mounting disquiet and fear among the country’s largest minority.

The patterns are familiar. A multitude of ever-growing Hindu nationalist organisations – some mainstream, some fringe – deploy and refashion small local disputes to spur rage and suspicion against the Muslim people, each time reviving and fuelling old stereotypes. The manufactured flashpoints are also familiar: disputes over land for shrines and graveyards, an offending loudspeaker in a place of worship, charges of young Muslim men sexually harassing hapless Hindu women in a sinister campaign of ‘love jihad’, sometimes with the added twist of forced conversions, or cow slaughter. …

A sense of dread slowly therefore mounts almost invisibly over the country as communal tempers are cynically and perilously being overheated for a series of electoral harvests, and for drawing larger and larger sections of low-caste Hindus to stand with their upper-caste oppressors against the Muslim ‘other’, who is portrayed as their common enemy. The Congress, socialists and the Left are too dispirited to convincingly take to the battle. The struggle to preserve the idea of India has to be fought outside Parliament, by ordinary people, on the streets and in our homes, in places of worship and secular assembly, but most of all in the hearts of the young.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1256008.aspx

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Levels of Distrust – By Sanjay Kumar (Aug 23, 2014, Indian Express)

The recent report “Strategy for making police forces more sensitive towards minority sections” prepared by three directors general of police, Sanjeev Dayal, Deoraj Nagar and K. Ramanujam, could not be more timely. There seems to be a sense of shared anxiety amongst Muslims after the BJP assumed power at the Centre. It is for the Modi government, more so for the home ministry, to act upon some, if not all, of the report’s recommendations which could help build confidence in the BJP among Muslims.

The report concludes that there is a trust deficit as Muslims perceive the police to be communal, biased, insensitive, ill-informed, corrupt and lacking professionalism. Surveys across countries indicate that the level of trust among people in the police is very low, much lower compared to other institutions. In India, the DGPs’ report moves one step further in endorsing such a perception. …

Changing perceptions is a very challenging task, more so when it is about an institution like the police. Such perceptions could be changed largely by social interaction. The report rightly suggests steps like training, outreach programmes, forming specialised cyber wings to combat rumours and similar efforts for building long-term trust in the police. The positive side to this story is that, despite the trust deficit, many Muslims are not averse to getting in touch with the police if the need arose. In fact, there is hardly any difference of opinion on this issue among Hindus and Muslims.

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/levels-of-distrust/

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Controlling the party – Editorial (Aug 21, 2014, The Hindu)

The influence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on the Bharatiya Janata Party is always greater during periods when the party is in power. While the Sangh is sometimes ready to appear twice removed from the government, it is keen to exercise control over the party’s organisational affairs. Little surprise then, the newly elected president of the BJP, Amit Shah, chose to pack the top rung of the party with those from the Sangh. Former RSS spokesman Ram Madhav is now general secretary and ideologue Vinay Sahasrabuddhe is vice-president; four of the joint secretaries (organisation) are RSS members without much of a background of work in the party.

Despite the nominal distance it maintains from the organisations of the Sangh Parivar, the RSS ensures that its writ runs where it matters: in the BJP, and in the BJP governments at the Centre and in the States. With its organisational strength, and the large number of committed cadre, the RSS is the backbone of the BJP, and not just an ideological mentor. In the 2014 general election, workers of the RSS and its affiliates threw their weight behind the BJP and contributed in no small measure to the party’s revival in States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It was only natural for the BJP, especially Mr. Shah who was in charge of the party’s electoral management in Uttar Pradesh, to recognise this fact and accommodate RSS leaders in the decision-making structure of the party.

What is problematic, however, is how the RSS will wield its influence in the BJP to remote-control the government. Mr. Shah enjoys a close rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it is feared he might indeed function as an extra-constitutional authority. Now, with the BJP being led by RSS hands, the party’s influence on the government can only get bigger. Decision-making may not be confined to the Cabinet or legislative bodies, but may extend to party forums and Sangh meetings. Going by the statement of RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat that Hindutva is India’s identity, the RSS’s relations with the BJP and, by extension, with the government, could raise serious concerns in the public mind, and particularly among minorities.

Prime Minister Modi spoke of ruling by consensus and not by the party’s majority in the Lok Sabha, but statements such as those made by Mr. Bhagwat seeking to equate Hindutva with Indianness and Hindustanis (Indians) with Hindus can only create doubts whether the BJP intends to return to a divisive majoritarian agenda. Mr. Modi and the BJP need to distance themselves from such statements if these are not to be taken as reflective of the thinking of the ruling establishment. Otherwise, the Sangh, the BJP and the government would be widely seen as just different forms of the same entity.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/rss-controlling-the-party/article6335653.ece

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Off With Its Head – Editorial (Aug 23, 2014, EPW)

Much like the Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland who kept saying “Off with its head”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decreed that the 64-year-old Planning Commission should be disbanded. No known consultation within the central government, no consultation with the states, no mention in the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party and no prior consultation with the citizenry. The 15th of August was chosen to announce that a new body will take the place of the Planning Commission and now we have the charade of everyone being asked to give their suggestions on the internet.

The Planning Commission, as the agent of “state planning”, has been, in the eyes of free MARKETERS, the biggest culprit of all that apparently went wrong in the economy in the first four decades after Independence. Those without a sense of history do of course have the luxury of projecting self-serving opinions. The planners themselves in hindsight did accept that many errors were made during the heyday of planning in the late 1950s and early 1960s, especially in their neglect of the wage goods (food, clothing and such consumer goods) and export sectors.…

Given the absence of widespread discussion prior to the decision to abolish the Planning Commission, one has little idea of what the new body that will replace it will look like. One can be reasonably certain that it will be a body that will oversee or provide the intellectual justification for a further rollback of the state and a dismantling of welfare programmes. At the same time, one will see an expanded role for the Ministry of Finance (as a resource-controlling agency) and a greater centralisation of decision-making on economic policy in the Prime Minister’s Office. This is not something the country can look forward to.

http://www.epw.in/editorials/its-head.html

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