IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 3rd, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Religious heads stress the need for harmony (Jul 28, 2015, The Hindu)

Various religious heads attended an Eid Milan programme organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind at the Rang Mandir on Sunday. Sri Sidrama Sharana of Beldal, Sri Basavalinga Pattaddevaru of Bhalki Hire Mutt, Sri Bhante Veera Jyoti, and Gyani Darbara Singh, spoke of the need for inter-religious harmony.

Sharanappa Mattur, MLC, asked people to remain cautious of vested interests trying to divide the society on communal lines. “If all religions preach peace, why do they tend to lead us to violence?,” Ishaq Puttur, writer from Mangaluru, wondered.

“That is because religion is being misused by vested interests and political powers. People of various faiths should remain united in testing times. We should all realise that all of humanity follows one religion only our styles are different,” he said.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/religious-heads-stress-the-need-for-harmony/article7472336.ece

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Wedding bells ring in communal harmony in Kashmir (Jul 31, 2015, Indian Express)

Muslim men and women lined up along both sides of the street leading to the house of Pyaray Lal Bhat. Inside the house, women – mostly Muslim – sing songs of marriage to welcome the groom. These heartwarming scenes of communal harmony took the groom, his family and friends by surprise as the wedding procession rolled into Ichigam village in central Kashmir. Ichigam in Budgam district houses seven Kashmiri Pandit families, who did not migrate from the Valley when militancy erupted in Kashmir in 1990. There are around 1,400 Muslim households. On the wedding day, hundreds of Muslim neighbours poured in to greet the Hindu family. “It (the scene at the village) was a pleasant surprise for all of us but more so for the groom and the guests accompanying him,” Bhat, whose 23-year-old daughter Preeti Bhat was the bride, said. Preeti, a private school teacher, married Ashu Krishen, a migrant Kashmiri Pandit, who returned to the Valley and settled at Sheikhpora village in Budgam.

It was not only Thursday that the Muslim neighbours visited Bhat’s house. “For all these days, our Muslim women neighbours were here singing the marriage songs on my daughter’s wedding… All these days, the entire village was here participating in our happy moments,” Bhat said. He also said the village has a history of communal harmony.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/wedding-bells-ring-in-communal-harmony-in-kashmir/

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SC deputy registrar quits over Yakub orders (Aug 1, 2015, Times of India)

A mid-level officer in the Supreme Court has ended his one-year contractual job mid-way protesting against the apex court’s decision to throw out two successive petitions by 1993 serial blasts convict Yakub Memon seeking stay of his execution. Memon was executed on Thursday.

Anup Surendranath, who was on a one-year contract with the SC from May this year as a deputy registrar to guide research work, said he was disillusioned by the July 29 and July 30 pre-dawn orders rejecting Yakub’s pleas and termed it as “judicial abdication” of its role to protect right to life of one and all. His one-year contract from May 2014 was renewed for another year.

His resignation had a tinge of personal grievance attached to it. He was also the project director of Delhi National Law University’s Death Penalty Litigation Clinic, which had also intervened with Yakub in seeking stay of the execution.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48312334.cms

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Prashant Bhushan: Why this unseemly hurry in Yakub execution? (Jul 30, 2015, Indian Express)

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Thursday questioned the “unseemly hurry” behind the execution of Yakub Memon saying no time was given to the 1993 Mumbai blasts convict to challenge the rejection of his mercy petition. Bhushan, who was one of the lawyers behind the last ditch attempt to stall Memon’s execution last night, said the apex court should have commuted his sentence factoring in several issues, including his “cooperation” with investigating agencies.

“He cooperated fully with the investigative agencies. He was suffering from schizophrenia and he had been in solitary confinement for a very very long time. Under these circumstances, his sentence should have been commuted,” he said. Addressing a press conference, Bhushan told reporters that the execution was kind of a “retributive violence” by the State, and it promotes “lynch mob mentality”.

“Yesterday the issue was of giving 14 days time, as per a Supreme court judgement, so that he can challenge the dismissal of his mercy petition in court and that he can settle his worldly affairs. But it (mercy petition) was dismissed late last night. No time was given to him. What was this unseemly hurry? What was the need for us to be so bloodthirsty?” he asked.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/why-this-unseemly-hurry-in-yakub-execution-prashant-bhushan/

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Memon’s Execution Focuses Spotlight On Gujarat’s Naroda Patiya Convicts (Aug 2, 2015, Thecitizen.in)

It was a coincidence that the hearing of the Naroda Patiya case seeking justice for the cold blooded murder of 97 Muslims in 2002 came up for a new round of hearing in the Gujarat High Court even as the then impending execution of Mumbai terror accused Yakub Memon was being hotly debated. But the coincidence has trained social media spotlights on the case in which the two main accused Babubhai Patel and Maya Kodnani served with a life imprisonment sentence are both out on bail.

Facebook and Twitter are witnessing an intense battle between those questioning the bail and trolls supporting the BJP and RSS even as the survivors and relatives of Naroda Patiya victims wait for justice well over a decade after the horrific massacre.…

The Naroda Patiya massacre is seen as “the largest single case of mass murder” in the 2002 Gujarat violence as it accounted for the largest number of deaths in one incident during the time. Now a two-judge bench of the Gujarat high court heard the submissions made by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which probed the riot case on the directions of the Supreme Court.…

http://www.thecitizen.in/NewsDetail.aspx?Id=4598&MEMON%E2%80%99S/EXECUTION/FOCUSES/SPOTLIGHT/ON/GUJARAT%E2%80%99S/NARODA/PATIYA/CONVICTS

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Activists question leniency for Aseemanand (Jul 28, 2015, The Hindu)

Questioning the granting of parole for 10 days to Swami Aseemanand, a key accused in the Ajmer Sharif, Malegaon and the Samjhauta Express blast case to spend time with his family in Bengal, activists asked why Chhatradhar Mahato – an activist with alleged Maoist links – was granted only a day’s parole to perform the last rites of his father.

Sujato Bhadro, human rights activist, said that housing the godman in an expensive hotel on parole exposed the Centre’s attitude towards ‘Hindu terror.’ “There is a tendency to be lenient with regard to those who are involved in ‘Hindu terror,’ whereas in case of Chhatradhar Mahato the court refused to show any leniency,” Mr. Bhadro said.

The godman who was released on parole for 10 days to meet his ailing mother (85) was reportedly brought to the Kotulpur block in Bankura district last week.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/activists-question-leniency-for-aseemanand/article7471781.ece

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Sack Tripura governor for spreading ‘communal hatred’: Digvijay Singh to President (Aug 1, 2015, Zee News)

Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Saturday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to dismiss Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy for spreading “communal hatred”.

“I strongly condemn Tripura Governor Tathagatha Roy’s statement against those who attended Yakub Memon as potential terrorists,” the Congress leader wrote on his Twitter handle. “Urge Hon President to dismiss him. (An) FIR should be filed against him for spreading communal hatred,” he said.

Hours after 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Memon was hanged in Maharashtra on Thursday, Roy tweeted: “Intelligence officials should keep a tab on all (except relatives and close friends) who assembled before Yakub Memon’s corpse. Many are potential terrorists.”…

http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/sack-tripura-governor-for-spreading-communal-hatred-digvijay-singh-to-president_1640028.html

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Muzaffarnagar riots documentary screening in DU disrupted by ABVP activists (Aug 3, 2015, Firs Post)

Members of Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) on Saturday stalled the screening of a documentary film on 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots at DU’s Kirori Mal College, calling its content “anti-national”.

DUSU office bearers led by activists from BJP’s youth wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), interrupted the screening of documentary “Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai” organised by the college’s Film Society.…

The documentary directed by Nakul Singh and Neha Dixit reportedly shows how certain communities provoked the masses against each other to commit atrocities towards members of the other community. Earlier this year, various students outfits had objected to its screening at Aligarh Muslim University.

http://www.firstpost.com/india/muzaffarnagar-riots-documentary-screening-du-disrupted-abvp-activists-2376422.html

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Rights activists at risk of detention on politically motivated charges (Jul 28, 2015, Amnesty)

Civil rights activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand are at risk of being arrested and placed in police custody on allegations of conspiracy and illegal acceptance of foreign donations. Amnesty International India believes they are being targeted for their work in seeking justice for the victims of the 2002 violence in Gujarat.

Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand have been working for several years to secure justice for the victims and survivors of the 2002 violence in the state of Gujarat, through the organizations Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Sabrang Communications and Publishing Private Limited (SCPPL). The month-long outbreak of violence in 2002 led to the killing, according to official estimates, of at least 1044 people, mostly Muslims, and the rape of a significant number of women and girls.

Their work has been instrumental in bringing about over a hundred convictions in cases related to the 2002 killings. The CJP has also sought the prosecution of several other Gujarat and central government officials and politicians for their alleged complicity in the violence.…

http://www.amnesty.org.in/show/news/rights-activists-at-risk-of-detention-on-politically-motivated-charges/

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Cop suspended for custody death held for hunting (Aug 1, 2015, Times of India)

Pallikonda inspector C Martin Premraj, who vanished from public view after police suspended him on June 28 on charges of custodial torture leading to the death of 26-year-old resident of Ambur, landed in police custody on Friday evening after foresters arrested him for poaching deer near Nagerkoil.

The death on June 26 of Shameel Ahmed, detained by police for questioning in connection with the disappearance of a woman, Pavithra, led to violent clashes in the town.

Police later traced Pavithra, with whom Shameel reportedly had a relationship, to Ambattur in Chennai on July 5.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48302781.cms

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A Chilling Primer on the Case Against Asaram Bapu (Aug 2, 2015, Thewire.in)

Asaram Bapu has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons for years now, both before and after his arrest in September 2013. The latest amongst these incidents connected to the godman is the death of a third witness in criminal cases against him – Kripal Singh, who was shot by two motorcycle-borne assailants in Puwayan in the Shajahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

Even by the murky standards of India’s self-styled spiritual gurus, the allegations whirling around the 74-year-old Asaram are exceptional: suspected black magic and human sacrifice; the deaths of four young male students of the residential schools in his ashrams, of which the bodies of two were found severely burned and mutilated, their limbs and internal organs missing; sexual assault of a minor girl under the pretext of ‘exorcism’; allegations of repeated rape and illegal confinement of two sisters, supposedly with the complicity of the godman’s son, the latter also having been accused of raping the victims; attacks in four states against nine witnesses in criminal cases against the godman, leading to the death of three, of which one was a former personal aide of the guru and another his former cook; threats and intimidation of complainants, witnesses and their families, apart from judges and investigating officers in multiple states.

These do not include other alleged crimes that seem to be associated with Asaram – the suspicious deaths of at least two ashram employees, rumours of widespread sexual exploitation of female devotees, nearly a dozen cases of land encroachment across states, and pervasive financial irregularity. All of it apparently carried out brazenly thanks to the blessings of a higher power – the political elite in his home state and elsewhere.…

http://thewire.in/2015/08/02/a-chilling-primer-to-the-case-against-asaram-bapu-7710/

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Dalit couple blame police for violating court order (Aug 3, 2015, The Hindu)

A young girl, who had married a boy of her choice, is in trouble now. While the girl’s parents from Tenkasi in Tirunelveli district had filed a habeas corpus petition seeking direction to police to trace the girl, the girl, had approached the court praying for police protection to her and her husband’s family living in Theni district.

According to A. Kadir Executive Director of Evidence, an NGO here, the girl, Kartikadevi (24) is a Dalit. The boy Saktiswaran, also a Dalit, but a different sub-sect hailed from Devadanapatti in Theni district. Hence, the girl’s parents were up in arms against the marriage.…

The Theni police, who should have accorded protection, had failed to comply with the court directive and remained mute spectators to the “highhanded attitude” of the Tenkasi police and this was highly condemnable, he charged.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/dalit-couple-blame-police-for-violating-court-order/article7494547.ece

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Opinions and Editorials

Inhuman and unconscionable – Editorial (Jul 30, 2015, The Hindu)

Judicial finality need not necessarily mean that India should hang Yakub Memon. Even in this situation, as his life hangs on the slender thread of a fresh mercy plea to the President, is the irreversible and inhuman sentence of death the only recourse for a democratic government?

Carrying out the sentence will only have the appearance of a justice that is retributive and vengeful, not substantial or morally different from the very offence that gave rise to the proceedings. In recent times, we saw the horrific judicial murder of Afzal Guru, who was hanged in secret without a final opportunity for his family to meet him, marking an unprecedented abandonment of morality on the part of the state.…

Even in the Mumbai blasts case, the 10 men sentenced to death by the trial court for planting the explosives were given only life terms by the Supreme Court on appeal, while Yakub Memon alone was awarded the death penalty. Such distinctions may seem arbitrary to the layman. As also, the revelation that the Memon family may have been induced to return to India will cast a shadow on the legitimacy of hanging a man who cooperated with Indian agencies.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/the-hindus-view-on-yakub-memon-verdict/article7477992.ece

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Yaqub Memon’s judicial murder, sympathy only for Saffron, Khaki terrorists – By Zafarul-Islam Khan (Jul 30, 2015, Milli Gazette)

…Yaqub Menon’s hanging is a human sacrifice to satisfy the bestial instincts of the Indian society which deep down still believes in human sacrifice (bali) and that’s why thousands of poor Indian children simply disappear from the face of the earth every single month across India and the system never cares.

Yaqub has also been hanged because he lacked the backing of powerful political parties as is the case with the killers of Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. One more reason is to accelerate communal polarization in the country, on which BJP thrives, and to satisfy the bestial instincts of the lower strata goons who are now the foot-soldiers of the Hindutva politics of hate and revenge.…

Another glaring spectacle in India today is that while Yaqub Memon goes to the gallows the Hindutva terrorists who killed and maimed hundreds in Samjhauta, Malegaon, Ajmer, Makka Masjid and many other blasts, to name only a few, are now on bail and waiting to be exonerated by a sympathetic system. Also, the criminals in uniform who committed 21 fake encounters in Gujarat and killed people at whim are now out of jails and even have been reinstated in their previous jobs. This is justice in India, Milord.

http://www.milligazette.com/news/12677-yaqub-menon-s-judicial-murder-sympathy-only-for-saffron-khakhi-terrorists

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‘Do not use the term Hindu terrorism’: Rajnath Singh ko gussa kyun aaya? – By Hasan Suroor (Aug 1, 2015, First Post)

…Unlike many of his colleagues, who can’t open their mouth without putting their foot into it, he (Rajnath Singh) is always extremely measured in his utterances and likes to avoid controversies. But how long can a chip of the old (Parivar) block, hold his horses? So, on Friday, the mask slipped. Singh turned up in the Lok Sabha in an uncharacteristically confrontational mood – all fired up as if on instructions from HQ, prompting a Hindi TV channel to ask: Rajnath ko gussa kyon aaya? Well, he was upset, to put it mildly, over the description of acts of terrorism allegedly involving Hindus as “Hindu terrorism”.…

Moreover, can Singh deny that Hindus – and individuals with RSS links – have been involved in terrorist activities? Their alleged role in the Samjhauta Express bomb blasts (initially pinned on Muslims as a default reaction) and terror incidents at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and the Malegaon mosque are a matter of record.… The biggest act of terrorism its supporters committed in the name of “protecting” Hinduism was what they did in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 when in full public view and in the presence of some of the party’s tallest leaders they brought down Babri Masjid after giving solemn assurance to the Supreme Court that it would not be touched.

Can Singh deny the bloody consequences and legacy of what self-avowed Hindu nationalists did that day in the name of their religion? Was it not a case of “Hindu terrorism” in the same way that acts of violence committed in the name of Islam are termed “Muslim terrorism”? BJP’s eternal problem is that, for it, “hell is (always) other people”, as Sartre put it; and its sense of self-righteousness causes even otherwise sensible people like Rajnath Singh to protest too much. As he did on Friday.

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/do-not-call-it-hindu-terrorism-rajnath-singh-ko-gussa-kyon-aaya-2374982.html

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The Usual Suspects – By Thangkhanlal Ngaihte (Aug 1, 2015, EPW)

Anyone who commutes through the Delhi Metro Rail has to suffer a continuous stream of announcements which sometimes reminds me of George Orwell’s “telescreen” in 1984. These announcements are apparently meant for our own convenience and information but I hardly ever pay them much attention. It was only recently that one announcement woke me up. The instruction, amidst caution warnings about unidentified objects and bombs, was to report any “suspicious persons” to the Delhi Metro staff.

At first, this sounds like an innocuous piece of advice. But who is a “suspicious person?” How would one determine suspiciousness in a person? The announcement seems to have taken for granted that there are people who can be labelled as “suspicious persons,” whose suspiciousness may be discerned by ordinary passengers. It follows that in determining someone as being suspicious, ascribed markers like skin colour, name, country or locality, and/or religion may be relevant.

The Delhi Metro authorities may be blissfully unaware that this is a sensitive and heavily loaded matter that raises many other unpleasant issues, especially since 11 September 2001. Post 9/11, a suspicious person in the US has usually been a male person of “middle-eastern” features and appearance, sporting a beard and a name like “Mohammed” or “Khan.” Simply put, some people become suspect because of their names, or religion, or place of origin. This trend of racial profiling and stereotyping has caught on globally. India too has seen a tendency to label whole communities as “suspicious.”…

http://www.epw.in/postscript/usual-suspects.html

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Judging The Headscarf – By Faizan Mustafa (Aug 3, 2015, Indian Express)

…The law and the state cannot and should not tell us what is essential or non-essential in religion. The judiciary should not take over the role of the clergy. The denial of the headscarf to MBBS aspirants in the name of “public order” may be justified if “public order” is widely interpreted, but pronouncing a verdict on the essentiality of the headscarf was unnecessary.

The Constitution combines freedom of religion with a mandate to the state to intervene in religious affairs if social welfare so demands. The state has power to regulate secular activities associated with religious practice. The question is how to decide whether an activity is religious or secular.…

The SC has consistently accepted that “every person has a fundamental right to entertain such religious beliefs as may be approved by his judgement or conscience”. Therefore, it is an individual right. Moreover, the court should not privilege certain religious practices over others. These are purely religious questions that are best left to the clergy. The essentiality test assumes some practices are central to religion and others incidental. This is not the correct understanding of religion, since all elements and practices together constitute a religion.

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/judging-the-headscarf/

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Sandmen On The Prowl – By Varun Bidhuri (Aug 8, 2015, Tehelka)

Rampant mining continues unabated in villages such as Murshadpur, Momnathal, Mohiyapur, Jaganpur and Naurangpur on the banks of the Yamuna in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. On the face of it, there appears to be a strong nexus between and among political agents, police, realtors and sand mafia as it is impossible to carry out such illegal activities without the knowledge of the powers-that-be. Demand for cheap sand from the builders of Greater Noida and Ghaziabad has prompted the miners to illegally set up machines on the riverbed to dig deeper for sand.

However, police say they are doing their best to stop the unlawful activity. “An investigation is going on and we have registered several cases against sand miners. We won’t spare anyone, including the cops involved in this dirty saga. We have also seized many vehicles engaged in this activity. We are doing our best to stop illegal mining,” Preetinder Singh, senior superintendent of police (SSP) tells Tehelka.

On the other side, Keshav Dev, 59, is still running from pillar to post to seek justice for his son, who was allegedly killed by the sand mafia. In 2012, Dev’s son Narendar Kumar, an IPS officer in Morena (Madhya Pradesh), died when a tractor carrying sand, allegedly for illegal mining, ran him over.…

http://www.tehelka.com/2015/07/sandmen-on-the-prowl/

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