IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 28th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup 

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

They pray for peace and communal harmony (Dec 26, 2015, The Hindu)

The bells tolled, the priests led special mass, the faithful recited prayers and there was a measured celebration all round as Christians heralded the birth of Christ in a revered manner in the dioceses of Thanjavur and Kumbakonam.…

Children dressed as angels brought the icon of Infant Jesus and handed over to the Rector who placed it in the crib. Thousands of devotees offered prayers during the midnight mass when world peace was sought and the victims of the recent floods were remembered.

Significantly, separate mass were held in Tamil, English, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. Hundreds of faithful from the region congregated at the Poondi Madha Basilica where Rector A. Amirthasamy celebrated the special midnight Christmas Mass in the presence of Vice-Rector Rev. Alphonse. Those who gathered for the prayers shared sweets even as they prayed for world peace and communal harmony.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/they-pray-for-peace-and-communal-harmony/article8030653.ece

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Congress didn’t let Sonia meet Zakia Jafri after riots: 2002 ‘whistleblower’ (Dec 28, 2015, Indian Express)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi planned to visit Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the post-Godhra riots of 2002, but was prevented from doing so by party leaders, claims retired DGP R B Sreekumar, in his book Gujarat: Behind the Curtain which was released last week.…

Terming the conduct of the Congress leadership at the state and Centre during the course and aftermath of the riots as “quite vacillatingly obnoxious”, Sreekumar writes, “Soulless secularism and over-sensitivity to Hindu sentiments presumably prompted Congress leaders to block the plans of Congress president Sonia Gandhi to visit Zakia Jafri… during her Gujarat visit after the riots, for expressing condolence.”…

The former police officer accuses the UPA government of “not releasing copies of letters sent by President K R Narayanan to Prime Minister A B Vajpayee on Gujarat riots”, and of not providing reports of the Central intelligence bureau to the judicial commission probing the riots. He alleges that the Manmohan Singh regime also ignored demands for a separate judicial commission to probe the chief minister (Modi).…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/congress-didnt-let-sonia-meet-zakia-jafri-after-riots-2002-whistleblower/

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BJP MLA & MP involved in spreading communal tensions in Shamli; were present on dais when Prophet Muhammad was ridiculed (Dec 28, 2015, India.com)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unit in Uttar Pradesh faces yet another allegation of stoking communal tensions in the state, as two of its senior most leaders are reported to be lately involved in spreading hatred against Muslim community in the sensitive region of Shamli. BJP MP Hukum Singh and MLA Suresh Rana are accused of being involved in the mahapanchayat organized on Friday, where an influential sadhu Jasveer Maharaj went on to make defamatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad, apart from ridiculing the local Muslims.

Uttar Pradesh police swung into action, after infuriated Muslims gheraoed the Kandhla police station, demanding FIR against Hukum Singh, Suresh Rana and Jasveer Maharaj. Local Muslim cleric Ahtramul Hasan demanded demanded charges of NSA being labelled against them.

Kairana MP Singh, and Thana Bhawan MLA Rana (both constituents of Shamli) were present on dais when, Swami Jasveer Maharaj went into vitriolic mode and delivered inflammatory speech against Prophet Muhammad.…Jasveer Maharaj, who heads the Hindu ashram in Shamli warned Muslims in the locality of dire consequences if they do not mend their ways. “They should remember what Hindus did to them in Kawal and Meerapur (during 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots) where thousands of Muslims were rushed into refugee camps within 16 hours.”

http://www.india.com/news/india/bjp-mla-were-present-on-dais-when-prophet-muhammad-was-ridiculed-817822/

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BJP leader’s son Vishal Rana and cousin named ‘main conspirators’ in Dadri lynching chargesheet (Dec 24, 2015, First Post)

Nearly three months after Mohammed Akhlaq, 52, was beaten to death and his son almost crippled by a mob in Dadri for allegedly storing beef in their refrigerator at home, Gautambudh Nagar police on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against 15 people, including a minor, but there was no mention of beef in it. What is there though, is the name of Vishal Rana, son of a local BJP leader, and cousin Shivam as the main conspirators who led the mob to Akhlaq’s house and assaulted the family, reports The Indian Express.

Akhlaq died in a Noida hospital. Danish is recovering after severe head injuries and complicated surgery. Akhlaq’s daughter, Shaishta, has been made the prime witness in the case. “Charge sheet has been filed against 15 persons. Additional charge sheet will be filed against few more persons whose names figured in the statement of Akhlaq’s daughter, Shaishta, recorded before the court. Two persons were arrested today while two others are absconding,” deputy superintendent of police Anurag Singh said.

“Forensic report is yet to be received on whether the meat sample taken from the fridge of the deceased’s house was that of goat or cow. In the chargesheet it is stated that the accused persons had attacked the house of Akhlaq after announcement from the temple about cow slaughtering. The accused had found pieces of meat stored in fridge and they had claimed it to be that of beef,” Singh said.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/bjp-leaders-son-vishal-rana-named-in-dadri-lynching-chargesheet-2557944.html

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Worry About ‘Your ISIS’, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav Tells Muslim Al Jazeera Anchor (Dec 26, 2015, Huffington Post)

BJP’s national general secretary Ram Madhav may have set the party up for embarrassment during an interview with Al Jazeera presenter and journalist Mehdi Hasan. Ironically, Madhav had clearly agreed to be a part of a segment titled, ‘Is Modi’s India flirting with fascism?’ to defend the government against such allegations.

During the course of the interview, Madhav told the Muslim anchor, ‘your ISIS’ while trying to make a point about his apprehensions about the terror group acquiring nuclear weapons. Hasan, not willing to let go easily, exclaimed, ‘My ISIS’ thrice, as Madhav fumbled and tried to correct his course. The BJP leader didn’t apologise but went on to explain, ‘What I was trying to say is ISIS…’ However, the damage had been done.…

At the beginning, Hasan asked about the instances of communal violence in the country and atrocities against minorities, citing government data. However, Madhav sought to correct him saying it was wrong data. When Hasan retorted that he was quoting government data, the BJP leader said that the anchor had old data and new figures showed that violence against minorities had declined during Modi’s tenure. Hasan persisted with his argument and reminded Madhav that the National Crime Records Bureau had questioned the said ‘new’ data.…

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2015/12/26/ram-madhav_0_n_8878510.html

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Bajrang Dal leader arrested for threatening on Facebook to rape and kill social worker (Dec 29, 2015, First Post)

A local Bajrang Dal leader has been arrested for allegedly posting hate comments on Facebook against a social worker who had filed a police complaint against the outfit for ‘stalling’ the screening of Shah Rukh Khan-starrerDilwale at three theatres in Mangaluru. Mangaluru East (Kadri) police arrested Puneet Raj Kottari, the city co-convener of Bajrang Dal, following a complaint against him and 21 others by Vidya Dinker, said police commissioner S Murugan.

Activists of the right-wing outfit had stopped the screening of the film at theatres here from 20 December in protest against Khan’s comments on intolerance in the country. Dinker, in her complaint, said that the Facebook page ‘Veera Kesari’ and its followers had uploaded remarks threatening to physically assault, rape and kill her.

Based on the complaint, a case was registered at the Kadri police station and the arrest came on Saturday last. Dinker, the co-ordinator of Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development, had lodged a complaint against unidentified Bajrang Dal activists for disrupting the screening of Dilwale.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/bajrang-dal-leader-arrested-for-threatening-on-facebook-to-rape-and-kill-social-worker-2563426.html

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UP Min says there was a pact between RSS and then PM in Babri demolition (Dec 25, 2015, UNI India)

Uttar Pradesh Minorities Welfare Minister and Samajwadi Party’s firebrand leader Mohammad Azam Khan today alleged that there was a confidential pact between the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) over the subject of demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

Mr Khan, while talking to mediapersons here, said security persons were on the spot on December 6, 1992, when the mosque was being demolished but due to this pact they did not do anything.

“I am not accusing the security persons but this is a historical fact,” said Mr Khan.

http://www.uniindia.com/up-min-says-there-was-a-pact-between-rss-and-then-pm-in-babri-demolition/states/news/320794.html

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‘BJP is wiping off Muslim culture’ from textbooks (Dec 26, 2015, Times of India)

Congress national minorities president Khurshid Ahmed accused the state BJP for wiping off the culture and history of Muslims from state textbooks in Ajmer on Friday. Ahmed is on a tour of Rajasthan to consolidate minorities votes which drifted away to BJP in state assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

“This is very disturbing to hear that state education department has dropped most of the chapters by Muslim and foreign authors. Rajasthan government is following the line of Central government’s saffronization of education agenda,” said Ahmed who vowed to challenge every unconstitutional move made by this government.

He charged the state government of neglecting the rights of minorities, scheduled tribes and scheduled caste. “This government is working on vengeance by silently spoiling the developmental work carried out by the Gehlot government like free medicines, laptops to students and tribal development,” said Ahmed who hinted that Congress central leadership will not leave the Union finance minister Arun Jaitley scam involving DDCA.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/50329575.cms

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Minority groups unhappy with Maha’s de-radicalisation of youth plan (Dec 25, 2015, Hindustan Times)

The Maharashtra government has run into opposition from Muslim scholars and social activists to its ‘de-radicalisation’ programme aimed at youth from the community. Much of the opposition is to the term “de-radicalisation”, which critics say amounts to labelling a community.

“De-radicalisation implies that Muslim youth are radicalised. This is something unacceptable as we do not think any particular community has been radicalised,” was the common refrain at a meeting the government held with Muslim scholars at Mantralaya, the state secretariat, recently. Among those present were MahmoodUr-Rahman, PA Inamdar, Abdul Shaban, and Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi.

Inamdar, a noted educationist, said, “We are not against the measures being taken to bring the community into mainstream, but our objection is to the way it is projected. I don’t think the youth from any particular community are radicalised. Extremism does exist among youth to a certain extent, irrespective of community and religion. Fringe instances of youth running away from home for various reasons cannot be termed radicalisation.”…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/minority-groups-unhappy-with-maha-s-de-radicalisation-of-youth-plan/story-fMLvUPuGOLepSI2IwaYh0O.html

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Press Council notice to Organiser for ‘mocking’ Kerala on beef issue (Dec 23, 2015, The Hindu)

When the RSS mouthpiece Organiser published an article, Kerala: God’s Own Country or Godless Country, on November 15, its contents caused a furore in the State, with parties across the board condemning the article. Many saw it as mocking the people and fomenting communal trouble in the State.

On a complaint from the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad, the Press Council of India served a show-cause notice on Prafulla Ketkar, Editor of Organiser, on December 16. He has been given 14 days to respond.

The article, written by Surendra Nathan, a Mumbai-based lawyer, not only mocked the “irreligious” attitude in the State but also cast aspersions on the youth, especially the Muslim community.…

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/press-council-notice-to-organiser-for-mocking-kerala-on-beef-issue/article8019515.ece

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SC/ST bill passed in RS: Barring Dalits from temples is now a crime (Dec 22, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Calling a Dalit person publicly by the name of his or her caste, stopping a Dalit or a tribal person from entering a temple or even forcing them to vote in favour of a particular candidate will soon land the perpetrator behind bars.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014 became one of the few pieces of legislation to buck the deadlock in Parliament when the Rajya Sabha passed it on Monday.

The bill, earlier passed by the Lok Sabha, is touted as a major step to curb crime against Dalits and tribals in a country where atrocities against these the vulnerable sections frequently hit the headlines.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/sc-st-bill-passed-in-rs-barring-dalits-from-temple-is-now-a-crime/story-6WfG8xMmDmNiaY2BeDtNYI.html

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Opinions and Editorials

It’s Time to Recall the Other Gujarat Model – By Sarim Naved (Dec 28, 2015, The Wire)

The real opposition during Narendra Modi’s tenure as chief minister of Gujarat did not come from the Congress party. The Congress, famously absent from the ground in Gujarat, abdicated the opposition space to civil society. Members of civil society who were activists, journalists, lawyers and people from all walks of life, used the judicial system to bring home their charges against the then Gujarat government, which now forms the core of the Central government. They received unexpected support from Gujarat government officials, especially police officers like Rahul Sharma, R.B. Sreekumar and later Sanjeev Bhatt, who deposed before the Commission of Inquiry regarding the government’s culpability in the 2002 riots.

These officers were later joined by other police officers like Satish Verma (member, SIT for the Ishrat Jahan Encounter case and seconded to the Central Bureau of Investigation for the investigation as per High Court orders), Rajnish Rai (initial investigator for the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case and responsible for the first arrests of high ranking police officers) and Kuldip Sharma (responsible for pursuing a corruption case which involved Amit Shah – the Rs 1200 crore Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank case).…

The reason so many cases are filed against the official and unofficial opposition is to simply tire the government’s opponents out. All the officers mentioned above challenged the treatment meted out to them and won. This was the reason for repeated allegations and proceedings against them. The idea is to wear down the opponent, drain him or her physically and financially so that there is no energy left to oppose. The fact that the government is seeking to prosecute somebody is also used as an excuse to discredit them when they speak against the government. These are early days but it does seem as if the Gujarat model of dealing with opponents and critics is becoming a part of the Modi government’s armoury at the Centre.

http://thewire.in/2015/12/28/its-time-to-recall-the-other-gujarat-model-17555/

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Stones and strategies – Editorial (Dec 25, 2015, The Tribune)

Since Uttar Pradesh is due to have its state assembly polls in or before February 2017, no one should be surprised over reports of renewed ‘mandir construction activity’ in Ayodhya. A promise of a much-promised ‘Ram Mandir’ in Ayodhya has been the BJP’s principal electoral ruse, especially in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP leadership now finds itself in a bind.

On the one hand it has to appease the Hindutva right-wing, whose raw energy and anger it had harvested cynically and calculatedly for electoral purposes. In its politics of Hindu vote-bank, the BJP has to keep humouring the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other aggressive hard-line outfits; from time to time, various BJP leaders assert that the party remains unwaveringly committed to a ‘grand’ temple in Ayodhya. On the other hand, in order to move out of its political isolation, post-Babri Masjid demolition, the BJP has promised its National Democratic Alliance partners to shift the ‘mandir’ issue on to the back-burner.

All these years the BJP could conceitedly tell its ultra-ardent Hindutva fringe that this back-burnering of the ‘Ram Mandir’ was a compulsion because the party lacked a parliamentary majority. However, now the BJP does command an impressive majority in the Lok Sabha. Uttar Pradesh had contributed handsomely to Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha tally. Hence, the reported ‘construction activity’ at Ayodhya has to be seen as the Mandir crowd’s growing desire to encash its IOU. Just as the BJP has played games with the Mandir activists, they too sense a chance in view of the assembly elections.…

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/stones-and-strategies/174871.html

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What Dadri tells us about the toll that intolerance can take on friendship – By Maaz Bin Bilal (Dec 26, 2015, Scroll.in)

Minutes before Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched by a mob baying for his supposedly beef-nourished blood, he called up childhood friend Manoj Sisodia for help.

Sisodia, as the name suggests, is a Hindu. That Akhlaq, a Muslim who feared death at the hands of Hindus, chose to call his Hindu friend says something about the social fabric on which India was mapped.

We cannot emphasise enough the significance of this friendship in the current milieu – not only to enhance its constitutive value for Indian democracy, but also to understand and make majoritarian fundamentalists understand how they are consistently hacking away even at what they consider their own.…

http://scroll.in/article/774194/what-dadri-tells-us-about-the-toll-that-intolerance-can-take-on-friendship

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Communal bias – By T. K. Rajalakshmi (Jan 8, 2016, Frontline)

…Mohammad Aamir Khan, accused of masterminding the bomb blasts that occurred in Delhi, Ghaziabad and Rohtak in 1996-97, has spent 10 years in the Tihar Jail (Delhi), three and a half years in the Dasna jail (Ghaziabad) and, lastly, six to eight months in the Rohtak jail (Haryana). He has been acquitted in two cases for want of evidence. His incarceration since the age of 18 has made him understand what is wrong with Indian prisons and why there is little scope for prison reform. “I have been asked about my conviction and how I plan to rehabilitate myself, but no one has asked me about life inside prison. When I think about it, there is a lot to say,” he said.…

The refrain of the undertrials Frontline spoke to was that there was an unholy nexus between jail administrations and local police stations. They wondered how in spite of multiple layers of security, deadly weapons were smuggled into prisons. One of them even said that many murders had taken place in the jails, but there was no way of cross-checking them. “How is it that surgical blades, smack, mobiles and knives reach the inmates?” one of them asked.…

According to a report on prisons, Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis make up more than half of India’s jail population. While the proportion of these three communities as a percentage of the overall population is only 39 per cent, they comprise around 53 per cent of the prisoner population. Jail reforms are one crucial component of the overall justice delivery system, and no society calling itself civilised can afford to ignore that.

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/communal-bias/article8017665.ece

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Horror and holy cows – By Tavleen Singh (Dec 27, 2015, Indian Express)

This is the last column of 2015. So I planned to analyse the achievements and failures that marked Narendra Modi’s second year as Prime Minister. But on the morning of my deadline, an account of the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq appeared on the front page of this newspaper in the words of his daughter Shaista. She described how 15 or 20 men came into their house on the night of September 28 and started sprinkling kerosene around, before they dragged her father and brother out into the street. “They were saying if you tell the police we will kill you too,” she said in a statement given to a magistrate.

Shaista has identified 15 of the people who came that night, and confirmed that her father was killed because of a rumour spread from the village temple that a cow had been killed. Mohammad Akhlaq was not killed by a mob. His killers have been identified and some are related to local BJP leaders. If these leaders continue to remain in the BJP, then the fear that the hysteria over beef had the Prime Minister’s tacit support will be horribly proved.…

It was not just the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq that damaged India’s image as a nation, but the hysteria in general. As someone who has written before in this space that the whole ‘growing intolerance’ debate was fraudulent, may I end the year by saying as clearly as possible that it shamed me as an Indian to have to discuss cows in a political column. So please Prime Minister can you begin the year by throwing out of the BJP the local leaders in Dadri whose relations killed Mohammad Akhlaq. It will help assuage the anger we felt at your silence over so awful a killing.

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/fifth-column-horror-and-holy-cows-narendra-modi-dadri-lynching-beef-ban-hindutva-violence-mohammad-akhlaq/

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How Modi Validated Vendetta – By R.K. Misra (Dec 23, 2015, Outlook)

Cold Delhi sizzled on December 15 as the Central Bureau of Investigations(CBI) sought to ‘marinate’ the Delhi Chief Minister’s Office in a controversial raid that saw temperatures soaring in Parliament and fingers pointed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for resorting to such a practice. After Himachal Pradesh, this is the second Chief Minister or his office to be targeted by the Narendra Modi led BJP government in its less than two-year-long tenure.

Interestingly just around the time that the CBI was pursuing the raid on the Delhi chief minister’s office, far away in Gujarat’s capital of Gandhinagar, a court was issuing a bailable warrant against minister Purshottam Solanki in an alleged Rs 400 crore fisheries scam during the time when he was a minister in the government headed by chief minister Narendra Modi. In fact, two of his ministers figure in this case, the other being Dilip Sanghani who was then agriculture minister.…

It would be in order for those in high places to pause and ponder, for the politics of vendetta is the only scrip that guarantees manifold ‘returns’ . What goes around, eventually comes around.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/how-modi-validated-vendetta/296217

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