IAMC Weekly News Roundup – December 31st, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Passing triple talaq bill ‘political move’ to polarise country before LS polls: Women activists (Dec 27, 2018, Business Standard)

Several women activists Thursday criticised the passage of the triple talaq bill, saying it was a “political move” aimed at polarising the country before the Lok Sabha polls.… Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Kavita Krishnan, asked how the law can be different for different communities.…

CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat said her party has opposed the triple talaq bill as it criminalises an essentially civil matter. “For no other community law is desertion a ground for arrest. The bill is a masquerade by the Modi government to conceal the reality that it’s agenda is not the protection of the rights of Muslim women but the promotion of its sectarian anti minority policies.…

Annie Raja, general secretary, National Federation of Indian Women, termed the bill a “fraud” and said the “government has taken this step for political gains in view of the upcoming elections to polarise the country”.… Women’s rights activist, Shabnam Hashmi said by criminalising triple talaq in the bill the government intends to polarise people ahead of the elections.… President, All Indian Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), Malini Bhattacharya said in our opinion it is politically motivated.…

https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/passing-triple-talaq-bill-political-move-to-polarise-country-before-ls-polls-women-activists-118122700926_1.html

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“Yogi Adityanath For PM” Hoardings Pop Up In Agra, Removed (Dec 25, 2018, NDTV)

Controversial hoardings portraying Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as the next prime minister and a “Kalyug ka Avtaar” (reincarnation in Kali Yuga) were removed from many public places in Agra after the municipal corporation noticed them, an official said.

The hoardings put up by the Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena were placed under the “Yogi for PM” campaign, triggering a flutter in political circles.

As the hoardings dotted the city landscape, Agra Mayor Naveen Jain ordered their immediate removal.…

https://www.ndtv.com/agra-news/yogi-adityanath-for-prime-minister-hoardings-pop-up-in-agra-removed-1967840

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Why did Indian police ban a Muslim group from offering Friday prayers? (Dec 27, 2018, TRT World)

Indian police have warned several private companies in Noida, a suburb next to New Delhi, against allowing their Muslim employees to use a public park for Friday prayers. The shocking directive also demands the factories and other firms to deter their employees from any religious activity or else face consequences.

The event triggered a public outcry, with people taking to social media to express their anger and disappointment. Professor Apoorvanand of the University of Delhi told TRT World, “This is brazen, communal and anti-Muslim attitude from the police.” “Since when did religious acts like offering namaz becomes disharmony?”

Issued to 23 private companies in Noida, just 20 miles away from the national capital New Delhi, the notice came a day after an alarming video surfaced showing workers of a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation objecting to a cleric leading namaz in a public park. The incident is yet another manifestation of India’s social discord, which became too brazen after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power in 2014.…

https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/why-did-indian-police-ban-a-muslim-group-from-offering-friday-prayers-22846

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‘Law Minister’s comment amounts to dictating SC’ (Dec 26, 2018, The Hindu)

Former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on Wednesday said Ministers talking about early hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi case was improper and tantamount to “dictating” the Supreme Court.

Referring to a statement by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Mr. Kumar said, “The Law Minister’s unsolicited advice regarding early hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi case by the Supreme Court is a gross act of impropriety as it seeks to suggest to the Supreme Court the ordering of its roster in a subjudice matter.” …

“Surely, the unrestrained public utterances of the Minister in this regard breach established conventions and tantamount to a wholly unacceptable attempt to dictate to the court,” Mr. Kumar said in a statement.…

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/law-ministers-comment-amounts-to-dictating-sc/article25836723.ece

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Hours After PM’s Rally, Police Constable Killed By Stone-Throwing Mob In UP’s Ghazipur (Dec 29, 2018, NDTV)

A police constable died after he was hit by a stone during violent protests in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur on Saturday afternoon, a couple of hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in the district. Police identified the attackers as members of the Nishad Party, which was holding a district-wide agitation to demand greater reservation in government jobs and colleges for their community.

Eleven people have been arrested and several others have been detained. This is the second incident of a policeman being killed by a mob in Uttar Pradesh over the last few weeks. Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh was shot dead in western Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr on December 3, after clashes erupted over cow slaughter allegations.

The incident on Saturday occurred while the victim, constable Suresh Vats, and his colleagues were returning from security duty at PM Modi’s rally a few kilometres away.…

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/hours-after-pms-rally-cop-killed-by-stone-throwing-mob-in-ups-ghazipur-1969876

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Eight men awarded life term for lynching two Muslims in Jharkhand (Dec 21, 2018, New Indian Express)

A fast-track court in Latehar on Friday gave life term to eight men convicted for lynching two cattle traders – Mazloom Ansari (35) and Imtiyaaz Khan (12) – at Jhabar village on March 18, 2016.

The court of Judicial Magistrate Rishikesh Kumar also imposed Rs 25,000 fine on each of them, failing which they will have to remain in jail for another year.…

The eight – Arun Sao, Manoj Kumar Sahu, Vishal Tiwari, Sahdeo Soni, Mithlesh Prasad Sahu, Avdhesh Sao, Pramod Sahu and Manoj Saw – were convicted under sections 302 and 34 of IPC by the same court on Wednesday for brutally beating the two cattle traders and hanging them from a tree leading to their death. The convicted belong to the same village and allegedly belong to a ‘Gau Raksha Samiti.’ …

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/dec/21/eight-men-awarded-life-term-for-lynching-two-muslims-in-jharkhand-1914738.html

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Gauri Lankesh murder probe unravelled conspiracy spanning two States (Dec 26, 2018, The Hindu)

This year began with scepticism over the probe into the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh on September 5, 2017, with the special investigation team (SIT) having failed to make any headway even three months after the crime. However, a breakthrough unravelled the plot behind a series of murders of rationalists and writers, Narendra Dabholkar (2013), Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi (2015) and Gauri Lankesh (2017) in Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The SIT struck gold in February when they picked up K.T. Naveen Kumar from Maddur. The SIT claimed that Kumar had a peripheral role in the Gauri murder, but was actively planning the murder of K.S. Bhagavan, a rationalist based in Mysuru. But the SIT suffered a setback as Kumar’s handler, Praveen, was alerted by media reports and went underground, derailing the probe for another three months.

In their pursuit of Praveen, the SIT arrested Amol Kale, Amit Degvekar and Manohar Edave in Davanagere. Kale and Degvekar turned out to be the kingpins of the conspiracy and diaries recovered from them led to a series of arrests in the next three months.…

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/gauri-murder-probe-unravelled-conspiracy-spanning-two-states/article25829208.ece

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BJP shares The Accidental Prime Minister’s trailer on Twitter, draws flak online (Dec 28, 2018, New Indian Express)

The trailer of The Accidental Prime Minister, a political drama based on a book by former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s media advisor Sanjaya Baru, was released on Thursday.

The trailer generated quite a buzz on social media. But what got most talking online was the fact that it was shared by the official Twitter handle of the BJP, @BJP4India.

“Riveting tale of how a family held the country to ransom for 10 long years. Was Dr Singh just a regent who was holding on to the PM’s chair till the time heir was ready?” the official handle wrote on the micro-blogging site.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/trending/trending-in-india/bjp-shares-the-accidental-prime-ministers-anupam-kher-trailer-on-twitter-reactions-5513049/

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Maharashtra: 5 Karnataka Bajrang Dal Members Arrested For Attacking Church In Kolhapur (Dec 29, 2018, News Central)

Five Bajrang Dal members were arrested for attacking a church gathering on Sunday, December 23 in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

According to an India Today report, a senior police officer said that the accused were from Belgaum in Karnataka. The police identified them from CCTV footage.

“The accused had carried out a recce on the church days before the attack and had properly planned and executed the attack,” he said.…

https://newscentral24x7.com/kolhapur-church-attack-5-karnataka-bajrang-dal-members-arrested/

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Rs. 2,021 Crore Spent On PM Modi’s Foreign Travel Since 2014: Centre (Dec 28, 2018, NDTV)

More than Rs. 2,021 crore were spent on chartered flights, maintenance of aircraft and hotline facilities during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to foreign countries since June 2014, according to the government.

Replying to queries on the issue in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh also listed the countries visited by the Prime Minister between 2014 and 2018 that now figure among the top 10 countries from where India has received the maximum Foreign Direct Investment or FDI inflows.…

According to the data provided by the minister, an expenditure of over Rs. 1,346 crore was incurred on chartered flights, maintenance of aircraft and hotline facilities during Manmohan Singh’s foreign visits from 2009-10 till 2013-14 during UPA-II.…

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/rs-2-021-crore-spent-on-pm-modis-foreign-travel-since-2014-centre-1969583

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Opinions and Editorials

The fading power of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah: Invincible no more – By Uday Mahurkar (Dec 29, 2018, India Today)

Self-belief, no doubt, is a desi¬rable trait for politicians. It is what propelled Narendra Modi to power and prime ministership in 2014 and made his partnership with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah a winning combination. But when that very self-belief starts looking like arroga¬nce, it could signal the beginning of the fall.

As the BJP’s defeats in the assembly elections in three Hindi heartland states five months before the 2019 general election could well signify. Yes, the party did well given the anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh and the perceived strong anti-government sentiment in Rajasthan, but the rout in Chhattisgarh was complete even though Raman Singh had given the state its first stable government since it was formed in the year 2000.

And it is not only the Opposition that has tasted blood with the recent wins. The rumblings have begun within the BJP itself, with many wondering, if not openly articulating, where a continuation of the present style of functioning will leave the party five months from now.…

https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/news-makers/story/20190107-newsmaker-2018-narendra-modi-amit-shah-1418697-2018-12-29

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Naseer’s worry, and misplaced defence – Editorial (Dec 25, 2018, Asian Age)

The eminent actor Naseeruddin Shah’s pithy observations arising from less importance being given to the murder of a police inspector in Uttar Pradesh (by a Hindutva-oriented hooligan mob) than to cow slaughter has, almost on cue, drawn misplaced reactions from the establishment and its adherents.

As an example of the latter, film actor Anupam Kher has made irrelevant remarks. He has asked how much freedom Mr Shah would like since we are already a country where people can speak against the Army and mobs can pelt the security forces with stones.

Mr Shah was not commenting on issues relating to freedom (although, currently, religious minorities are feeling insecure). His concern was with the “spread of poison” to the extent that the death of cows mattered more than the murder of an inspector of police doing his duty punctiliously.…

http://www.asianage.com/opinion/edit/251218/naseers-worry-and-misplaced-defence.html

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Bulandshahr violence was pre-planned – By Shaheen Nazar (Dec 25, 2018, The Milli Gazette Online)

Attacking a policeman in uniform is a serious crime anywhere in the civilised world as it is construed a direct attack on the authority of the State. But for UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, killing of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh by a mob of cow vigilantes in Bulandshahr on 3 December, 2018 was just an “accident”. The strange response of the chief minister has stunned everyone. National press is crying foul while civil society is perturbed. Amid this chaos, 83 former bureaucrats have come forward and condemned the Centre as well as the UP government for failing the nation.…

The main accused in the crime, Yogesh Raj, is a local activist of Bajrang Dal, the student wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which in itself is a frontal organisation of RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sangh), the mother of Hindutva outfits including BJP. He has gone underground with police unable to trace him even more than two weeks after he led a mob to kill Inspector Singh in a brutal manner – his body was found hanging upside down out of his police jeep in the field and a bullet lodged in his head.…

According to Circle Officer Sharma, almost every police officer in Bulandshahr district’s Siyana area has Yogeshraj’s mobile number. “He is either organising provocative religious rallies or protesting against azaan from mosques. When no issue is at hand, he picks up Facebook posts or even a traffic accident to create trouble,” says an officer from the police station, who doesn’t want to be named. When asked why police dealt with him with kid gloves, senior officers just smile, “You know why.”

http://www.milligazette.com/news/16506-bulandshahr-violence-was-pre-planned

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Sohrabuddin Sheikh judgement betrays every principle of justice and legal procedure – By Harsh Mander & Sarim Naved (Dec 29, 2018, Scroll.in)

Fourteen years after Sohrabuddin Sheikh was gunned down by the Gujarat police, a trial court in Mumbai acquitted all those accused of killing him. His brother, Rubabuddin Sheikh, said he was heartbroken. “The court has not accepted any evidence,” he explained. “It looks like Sohrabuddin killed himself.”…

The fate of this sensational criminal case – one of the most closely watched and morally significant in recent times – has been a tragedy foretold. The possibility of justice receded once Amit Shah, charged as the principal conspirator by the Central Bureau of Investigation, become India’s second-most powerful man.

Then, events piled one on top of the other, moving inexorably towards this outcome. Shah, Gujarat’s home minister at the time of the killings, was jailed in 2010. When he eventually got bail, he was not allowed to enter the state. But after the Bharatiya Janata Party was elected to power in 2014, Narendra Modi handpicked Shah as the ruling party’s president and he quickly emerged as the prime minister’s closest political aide.…

https://scroll.in/article/907331/opinion-sohrabuddin-sheikh-case-judgement-betrays-every-principle-of-justice-and-legal-procedure

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Centre’s amendments will ‘completely finish’ RTI Act, says ex-information commissioner – Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyulu with Chitrangada Choudhury (Dec 25, 2018, Scroll.in)

…RTI activists are raising several important issues, and I acknowledge those and even concur with them. On December 10, 2018, I wrote an open letter to the head of the nation, the President of India – my effective boss – asking that the eight vacancies in the CIC [including the chief information commissioner] be urgently filled. More importantly, the quality of CIC orders reflects the quality of appointments. For this, the CIC needs to be more representative.

The RTI Act specifies that commissioners should be appointed from fields such as law, media, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, and administration and governance. Why does the government only favour retired bureaucrats for the CIC? Nowhere does the Act state that the chief information commissioner should only be from the bureaucracy.

The government should make the next set of appointments, including the chief, from all these other fields. A retired bureaucrat should be appointed only after assessing what he or she has done for the cause of transparency over their career, what is their inclination towards transparency. Information commissions [central and state] have developed an image of becoming the place for retired bureaucrats. The government should put an end to this image.…

https://scroll.in/article/906825/interview-centres-amendments-will-completely-finish-rti-act-says-ex-information-commissioner

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Hand in the till – By V. Sridhar (Jan 4, 2019, Frontline)

On December 10, a day before the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party regime suffered its electoral triple strike in the Hindi-speaking heartland came the stunning announcement of the resignation of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Urjit Patel. Tellingly, while Urjit Patel thanked his colleagues for their support in his parting statement issued to the media, nothing like that was reserved for either the officials of the Finance Ministry or the government in general.

Obviously, Urjit Patel was leaving in a fit of pique. The inescapable conclusion on the timing was that even though Urjit Patel realised that his continuation at the helm had become impossible because of the mounting barrage of attacks on the independence of the institution, he could at least time his departure in a manner that would maximise its retributive impact.

The crisis highlighted yet again the utter inability of the Modi regime to work with any institution in the spirit of democratic cooperation and mutual respect that tolerated dissent. The impression that Modi seeks full-spectrum dominance of any relationship with Indian institutions has thus solidified after this exit of a top government functionary.…

https://frontline.thehindu.com/cover-story/article25770352.ece

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