IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 29th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Muslim scholars drop out of Oriental meet after threats from ‘Hindutva’ group (Dec 29, 2014, The Hindu)

At least seven participants of the All-India Oriental Conference (AIOC) to be held in Guwahati next month have dropped out after receiving threat letters. The letters, received only by Muslim scholars, state: “If you will come at Guwahati, Assam, our people will kill you [sic].” The threats have been sent under the letter head “Rastriya Hindu Sena” and the address is of Bhartiya Vichar Sadhna publications, Sangh Karyalaya, Nagpore. A letter received by Jawaharlal Nehru University Arabic professor Rizwanur Rehman by speed post was sent from Vadodara, Gujarat.

Following the threat, at least seven teachers of the Aligarh Muslim University have dropped out of the event. In a letter to the organisers, Islamic Studies scholar Abdul Majid Khan wrote, “Assam has witnessed another wave of killings. It is desirable that Islamic Studies section conference is held either in Delhi or in Aligarh where participants can make their presentation.” “We are academic people and we do not feel safe going there right now. So we are dropping out,” Mr. Khan told The Hindu. … AIOC joint secretary Sujata Purkayastha told The Hindu on the phone from Guwahati that they have so far not received any withdrawal letter from the scholars. “We have informed the police as these letters have caused stress to the participants. We have assured them full security,” she said.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/muslim-scholars-drop-out-of-oriental-meet-after-threats-from-hindutva-group/article6735885.ece

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Godse’s name unparliamentary: Rajya Sabha (Dec 24, 2014, Times of India)

Rajya Sabha has declared the name of Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, “unparliamentary”. In a ruling on Friday, deputy chairperson P J Kurien told CPM’s P Rajeeve, “Yes, it is declared unparliamentary. That is why I expunged it.”

Kurien’s order came after Godse’s name was referred to by Rajeeve during a debate on religious conversions. Since Rajeeve had raised the issue under Rule 267 and the Upper House adopted it, the entire business of the day was suspended. Rajeeve had referred to news reports that talked of Hindu Mahasabha’s declaration to construct statues of Godse.

On Monday, Rajeeve told Kurien that while going through the verbatim debate he found that the name of Godse has been expunged. He wanted a ruling if the name “Godse” is unparliamentary or not. Kurien promised to get back after checking the records. On Tuesday as the House reassembled after two adjournments that washed out the morning session, Rajeeve reminded Kurien about his ruling. Kurien admitted he had given the ruling to expunge Godse’s name. A persistent Rajeeve wanted to know if the word Godse is unparliamentary to which Kurien gave his unequivocal reply.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/45624147.cms

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AAP alleges blatant misuse of CBI by the BJP gvt to save Amit Shah in fake encounter cases (Dec 27, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has alleged that a sinister conspiracy is underway to let BJP national president Amit Shah off the hook in the ongoing case of the cold-blooded murders of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati who was a crucial eye- witness to their abductions.

Under Mr Ranjit Sinha, the CBI filed an extremely limp submission in response to Amit Shah’s discharge application before the Special CBI judge in Mumbai. The submission was made before his retirement. Even under the new CBI director the CBI has fashioned its arguments to provide Amit Shah escape passage from the ongoing criminal trial, AAP leaders alleged on Friday in a press conference addressed by Yogendra Yadav, Sanjay Singh, journalist turned politician Ashutosh and investigative journalist turned AAP leader, Ashish Khetan.

“The lackadaisical approach of the CBI in Amit Shah’s case raises very serious questions on the functioning of the premier investigation agency,” AAP has alleged, adding that the CBI is being misused and manipulated to erase the criminal past of BJP president Amit Shah.…

http://twocircles.net/2014dec27/1419660697.html

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‘IM’ mail sender Shushil Chaudhary held, no terror link (Dec 28, 2014, Times of India)

The Rajasthan ATS on Saturday arrested a 34-year-old resident of Jaipur’s Murlipura area for sending threat emails to 16 ministers, warning them of terror strike by Indian Mujahideen on Republic Day. The man had sent the emails from a cyber cafe in Vidhyadhar Nagar which was traced after Google sent the IP address to the police on Saturday. Within hours of getting the IP address, the police picked him from his residence in Murlipura and he has confessed to his crime, said additional director general, Anti-Terrorist Squad, Alok Tripathi.

The man, Shushil Chaudhary, is unemployed and seems to be in a state of depression. Sources said police prima facie suspect that his intention was to spread panic by sending threat emails to ministers as he thought the government was responsible for his unemployment. It was his way of taking out revenge for his miseries. However, the police are still verifying the motive. He is bachelor of commerce (B Com), sources said. …

The email received by 16 ministers on December 22 said “Dear minister, we are Indian Mujahedeen. You people be careful. We are going to give you a Big Bang surprise. You can do whatever you want but it’s a challenge that we will carry out many bomb strikes in Rajasthan. We will act on January 26. Stop us if you can – notice by IM”. The sender had wrote (sic) the email in poor language as it is broken at many places and is full of grammatical and spelling errors. …

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/45666000.cms

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Hindu groups target theatres screening PK (Dec 29, 2014, Indian Express)

Right-wing activists… on Monday intensified protest against Aamir Khan-starrer PK for “hurting” Hindu sentiments as they went on a rampage in Ahmedabad and Agra, attacking the theatres screening the movie, besides holding demonstrations in several other cities demanding a ban on it.

Wielding batons and iron rods, around 25 Bajrang Dal activists vandalised two movie theatres at Ashram Road in Ahmedabad and tore posters of the movie at Shree Talkies in Agra. The members of the outfit also tore posters of PK in Bhopal outside Jyoti Talkies. Protests against Rajkumar Hirani-directed film were also held in Jammu, Mau, Rajkot, Nadiad and Surendranagar. A theatre in Mumbai – Deepak Talkies – has already stopped screening of the film.

The two movie halls in Ahmedabad – Shiv and City Gold – that were screening the movie were targeted by the Bajrang Dal activists during the morning show. The police said the activists, shouting slogans of Jai Shree Ram, broke glasses of the ticket window, seats and a few vehicles at the parking lots. DCP Zone-I Virendra Yadav said, “We have collected the mobile footage of the incident from the spot which is being analysed to identify the miscreants. We are probing it in detail.” Even as the police did not name Bajrang Dal for the incident, the right-wing organisation claimed its responsibility and warned of similar protests in coming days if theatre owners did not obey their command.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/protest-against-aamir-khans-pk-turns-ugly-theatres-vandalised-in-ahmedabad-bhopal/99/

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Anti-conversion law is unconstitutional; Sangh is attempting to bring it through forced conversions: Prashant Bhushan (Dec 28, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said here on Friday that the anti-conversion law would be unconstitutional as it goes against the fundamental right of the citizen to choose or change his/her religion. The Indian Constitution in Article 25 grants to citizens of India of all religious persuasions freedom to profess, practice and propagate their faith in a way that does not disrupt public order and does not affect public health and morality adversely.

The Article 25 of the Indian Constitution is a basic human rights guarantee that cannot be subverted or misinterpreted in any manner. Reacting to the reports of the saffron party’s cry of enacting Anti Conversion law in the aftermath of forced conversion of many Muslims by radical Hindu outfit came to the floor; Mr. Bhushan told reporters on the sidelines of a conference that the BJP and its affiliates were attempting to bring about the law by “forcibly” converting citizens.

“It is illegal to convert under force or pressure. And what the VHP and the Bajrang Dal are doing across the country is just that,” he said. Keeping in mind such constitutional guarantee to every citizen, anti-conversion law will be violation of above article, believes Mr. Bhushan.…

http://twocircles.net/2014dec28/1419750117.html

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National Commission for Minorities condemns statements ‘making minorities insecure’ (Dec 27, 2014, Indian Express)

In a resolution passed on Friday, the National Commission for Minorities has condemned statements implying that religions like Christianity and Islam are not native to India. The commission said that such statements are creating a sense of insecurity among minority communities in the country and urged the government to ensure that all persons in public life refrain from making statements that can cause polarisation.

“The Indian Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to freedom of religion (Article 25) and any attempt to curtail this right goes against the Constitution of India. Ours is a secular nation where all religions are given an equal status and all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise and propagate their religion.

Claiming religious monopoly for any one religion in a multi-religious, secular state and forcible conversions through inducement, allurement and coercion violate the Constitution, and must be strongly condemned,” the resolution said. It described the statements as “irresponsible and uncalled for.”…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/national-commission-for-minorities-condemns-statements-making-minorities-insecure/

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Assam toll rises to 78, violence spreads to Kokrajhar (Dec 25, 2014, The Hindu)

The toll rose to 78 on Thursday in attacks by NDFB(S) and retaliatory violence in lower Assam with miscreants among Adivasis setting afire houses of Bodos as the backlash to the Tuesday massacre continued for the second day.

In worst-affected Sonitpur district, six more bodies were recovered on Thursday morning from Maitalu Basti under Zinzia police station bordering Arunachal Pradesh taking the toll in attacks by NDFB(S) to 43 in the district and overall toll to 71, a police spokesman told PTI.

Three Adivasis were killed in police firing during protests against the carnage on Wednesday. In Kokrajhar, the other severely-affected district, retaliatory violence by miscreants among Adivasis claimed the lives of four Bodos at Manikpur and Dimapur areas. Twenty five people were killed by militants in Kokrajhar and three in Chirang district.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-toll-rises-as-violence-spreads-to-kokrajhar/article6724739.ece

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Ex-cop denies role in 2012 BTAD clashes (Dec 24, 2014, Times of India)

A day after the CBI filed its chargesheet before the special judicial magistrate, Bongaigaon, in one the 2012 BTAD riot cases, the prime accused in the case, Mohibur Islam alias Ratul, rubbished all the charges against him on Tuesday.

Islam, who is an Assam police constable, alleged the CBI has falsely accused him under political pressure. “I am innocent. I was on suspension during the incident and was not carrying any firearm with me. I even deposed before the CBI whenever they have asked me to,” said Islam. …

The ABMSU also denied the charges and said that Islam is not a member of the student group and none of its members are involved in the killing of the four persons on July 20.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/45622320.cms

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Girls in Modi’s Gujarat record highest incidences of ‘sexual abuse’ (Dec 29, 2014, Indian Express)

More girls in Gujarat seem to be reporting “sexual abuse” than anywhere else in the country. According to a recent status report published by an NGO – Save the Children – over 63 per cent girls in Gujarat have reported sexual abuse which is the highest in the country.

Madhya Pradesh (57%) and West Bengal (56%) stand second and third in the report titled, ‘Wings 2014: The World of India’s Girls’, conceptualised by the NGO and prepared by Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies of Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS). …

“More than twenty years after the country opened its economy to the world putting itself on fast track of growth, the girl child remains an object of neglect, malnutrition, exploitation, rape, brutality, and murder, despite the many positive steps taken to secure her rights. Given the sheer number of girls in the country who are 18 years or below – close to 225 million – it becomes crucial to pay urgent attention to the status of the girl child,” states the report.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat/girls-in-modis-gujarat-record-highest-incidence-of-sexual-abuse/

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Opinions and Editorials

Religious Intolerance in India – Editorial (Dec 25, 2014, New York Times)

Hope is in danger of crumbling that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would rein in the divisive agenda of his militant Hindu-nationalist supporters and allow India to concentrate on the important work of economic reform, and the blame lies squarely with Mr. Modi.

During the last days of its winter session ending on Tuesday, Parliament was unable to deal with important legislative business because of repeated adjournments and an uproar over attempts by Hindu groups to convert Christians and Muslims. The issue has come to a head following a “homecoming” campaign by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad – groups dedicated to transforming India’s secular democracy into a Hindu state – to “reconvert” Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. …

As opposition political leaders are demanding, Mr. Modi must break his silence and issue a stern warning to emboldened Hindu militants before their actions turn further progress on economic reform into a sideshow, with the politics and divisiveness occupying center stage.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/opinion/religious-intolerance-in-india.html

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A Year Of Living Aspirationally – By Siddharth Varadarajan (Jan 12, 2015, Outlook)

Marked indelibly by the dramatic electoral victory of Narendra Modi, 2014 signifies different things to different people. For those who believe in the fabled qualities of the Prime Minister, it is a harbinger of hope, a year when India finally got down to the business of growth. Among the believers are the legions of poor and middle class Indians whose aspirations the Bharatiya Janata Party brilliantly tapped into during the election campaign. The faithful also include captains of industry and finance, both native and foreign, whose collective impatience with the Congress party’s inability to deliver land, resources, clearances and a booming stock market led them to defect en masse to the Modi camp.

But the Prime Minister has other supporters too, and that is where the story starts to get complicated. These supporters, who form the core Hindutva base of the sangh parivar, are less concerned about growth indices, the Sensex and land acquisition. For them, the advent of the Modi era means the chance to play social and cultural engineer with the soul of the nation, something their ideological ancestors never got to do given their virtual absence from the freedom struggle. 2014 for Hindutva zealots, then, is Year Zero, the date India began to reverse its tryst with a destiny they detest. They are waiting for the country to turn its back on the precepts, principles, politics and philosophy that had helped define its nationhood for decades if not centuries. …

Modi spent the whole of 2014 cultivating a studied ambiguity towards Hindutva’s pet projects, first as a contender for power and then as Prime Minister. But if he continues in this mode, failing to clearly demarcate himself and his government from the divisive agenda of the sangh, his sarkar will run aground.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/A-Year-Of-Living-Aspirationally/292931

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Conversion to Hindu Raj – By A.G. Noorani (Jan 9, 2015, Frontline)

The noises made, with increasing loudness, in recent weeks, for conversion of Muslims into Hinduism are part of the Sangh Parivar’s covert plans to convert a secular polity into a Hindu Raj. The actors have varied, but the theme of the sordid drama has remained unchanged. A thread of continuity in blazing red-or, if you like, saffron-runs through all the pronouncements and actions for well nigh a century. …

The signs are ominous – the Gita as the National Book, the uniform civil code, the Ram temple, praise of Godse, and so on. There is dissociation and disapproval but no condemnation, not even of reference to Muslims as “haramzade” (persons of illegitimate birth) by a Minister of State. The Sadhvi is not sacked. It was not a mere swear word. It was an obvious innuendo.

Connect the dots and what emerges is a rejection of Muslims as Muslims unless they convert themselves to Hinduism-to pave the way for the establishment of a Hindu State. Muslims must accept moral suicide. One is reminded of the couplets Jab Gulistan ko lahoo ki zaroorat padhi/ Sabse pahle hamari hi gardan kati. Phir bhi kahte hai hamse ye ahle chaman / Yeh chaman hai hamara, tumhara nahi (When the Garden needed blood for its survival, it was our throats that were first slit. Yet people in the Garden tell us/ This garden belongs to us not to you).

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/conversion-to-hindu-raj/article6715567.ece

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Secularism in crisis, it is now time for Modi to speak out – By Karan Thapar (Dec 20, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Are you, like me, disturbed by developments over the last two weeks? I cannot say they are proof of a deliberate attempt to undermine our constitutional commitment to secularism but they certainly seem suggestive of it. And the prime minister’s deafening and deliberate silence only adds to my concern.

First, however, the background. We’ve had a spate of Hindutva-style comments since the new government took over. The love jihad assertions we already know about. In addition, Mohan Bhagwat has claimed all Indians are Hindus, Kalraj Mishra said Hindutva is India’s identity, Sushma Swaraj asked for the Gita to be declared India’s national book and Niranjan Jyoti called those who are not Ramzadon haramzadon. In fact, you could say the prime minister started this when in June, in Parliament, he said a slave mentality of 1,200 years is still troubling India.

The issue is: Are these just innocuous and silly mistakes? Or do they reflect a communal or, at least, a non-secular mind-set? Worse, do they add up to some sort of deliberate attempt to hinduise India by changing our perception of ourselves?…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1298673.aspx

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The “Wave” Peters Out! – By Mohammad Ashraf (Dec 25, 2014, Countercurrents)

Mahatma Gandhi having been pained by the communal carnage in the sub-continent in 1947 had seen the only ray of light in the darkness of the all-round mayhem in Kashmir. Well, the vision of the Mahatma has been reaffirmed during the recent election. The Gujarat wave of Modi had swept the entire India like a Tsunami during the Parliament election. He had hoped to sweep the state of J & K with his Mission 44+ but the valley of the saints has dramatically petered out the “Wave”.

The chauvinist corporate Indian media has been crying hoarse about the unusually large voter turnout in Kashmir in spite of fervent calls for boycott and has been terming it as reaffirmation of faith in the Indian democracy and a vote for development. The truth on the contrary is only a re-affirmation of the Kashmiri in his own traditional religious tolerance and the mystic outlook. People came out to vote in large numbers neither for Mission 44+ nor only for Bijli, Pani, and Saddak but also to ensure that the Hindutva “wave” does not enter the calm and serene shores of the land of Kashyapa Reshi! Kashmiris have voted to keep their identity intact!

All but one BJP candidates lost their deposits in Kashmir valley. Congress has been seen as a lesser evil than the trident wielding Hindutva brigade. The wave would not have entered even some parts of the Chenab valley and Pir Panchal but for the division in the regional vote. The BJP candidates who won election from these areas have polled lesser votes than the combined votes of the regional parties. Had these parties been supporting each other, the wave would have petered out on the Trikuta Hills itself!…

http://www.countercurrents.org/ashraf251214.htm

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Assam Violence: What Led To Bodoland Blood Bath – By Ratnadip Choudhury (Dec 24, 2014, Tehelka)

The entire nation was once again shocked and left speechless as television channels aired horrific visuals of a carnage that Assam has witnessed for past 24 hours. The blood bath has left 75 dead, 65 of them killed on Tuesday evening when militants from National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Songbhijit faction stormed into huts of Adivasi or the tea tribes who work in the tea gardens of Assam, in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts. The fallout – 65 people were gunned down , nearly 100 injured.

Today the Adivasis retaliated as a mob tried to storm in to the Dhekiajuli police station. Police resorted to firing as a result of which 5 Adivasi protesters have been killed. Meanwhile another five people belonging to the Bodo community died in retaliatory killings in Chirang and Kokrajhar distirct . Curfew is in place in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur and additional paramilitary forces are being rushed to the state on an urgent basis.

Assam has witnessed such mindless violence for over three decades now. What is even more disturbing is that majority of those who are killed are women and children. So what led to this mayhem? Tehelka tries to analyze – New Delhi is going steadfast with the peace parleys with the Pro-talk faction of NDFB. Thus IK Songbhijit, the chief of the NDFB(S) thought to be in hiding in Sagaing division of Myanmar , wanted to send across a message to Tarun Gogoi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that they are strong enough to strike at will.…

http://www.tehelka.com/assam-violence-what-led-to-bodoland-blood-bath/

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Book Review

Politics in the Times Of Churning – A Journalist’s Perception

Author: V. Krishna Ananth
Reviewed by: Hari Narayan
Available at: Daya Publications, 30, TNAU Colony, 6th Street, Rajagambeeran, Othakadai, Madurai-625107. Rs. 450..
Review:
Mahatma’s ideals in the age of Modi (Dec 29, 2014, The Hindu)

In the last five years, politics in India was under the sway of a blitzkrieg of corruption allegations. A larger-than-life image, that of Narendra Modi, capitalised on it, gave the impression of ‘a wave’ and reaped electoral dividends. However, the country’s largest minority, the Muslims, chose not to invest their belief in this ‘wave’ – most of them didn’t vote for Bharatiya Janata Party. That Muslim MPs number just 22 in the current Lok Sabha, the lowest in half-a-century, is a reflection of the limited voice they will have in our legislature in the next five years.

V. Krishna Ananth’s assertion is that our Muslim fellow citizens have reasons to feel betrayed that the vision of Gandhiji for a secular, democratic state has been short-sold to accommodate politics of polarisation. He refers to the superb M.S. Sathyu movie Garam Hawa in which the character of Salim Mirza chooses to live the vision of the Mahatma rather than that of the Quaid-e-azam. Perhaps the Salim Mirzas would be a disillusioned lot at present?

However, just like Mirza in the movie, Ananth shows unshakable belief in Gandhian ideals through his articles selected for this book. In the prelude, he outlines his belief when he admits that “from celebrating violence, particularly where it is against the state,” he was transformed into “a votary of non-violence” over a period of time. He also admits that, in being committed to Leon Trotsky’s permanent revolution, he is closer to Gandhi than ever.

This book, a collection of newspaper and journal articles that appeared between 1991 and 2013, including the years in which he was active in journalism and wrote for The Hindu, was completed before the recent Lok Sabha elections. More notably, it is written more from the point of view of a historian than a journalist. …

http://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/mahatmas-ideals-in-the-age-of-modi/article6736097.ece

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