IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 18th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Announcements

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

Dalit scholar’s suicide in Hyderabad an indictment of BJP’s Hindutva agenda say Indian Americans

Charges against Union Minister and Vice-Chancellor indicative of administration’s anti-Dalit and anti-minority focus rooted in Hindutva

January 19, 2016

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has expressed shock and outrage over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula at Hyderabad University. Mr. Vemula and four other members of Ambedkar Students Association were victimized and subjected to relentless harassment by the University officials. Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and the Vice-Chancellor of the University Appa Rao Podile along with a BJP legislator and two student leaders face charges of abetting Rohith’s suicide, under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Rohith Vemula and his associates were clearly targeted for raising issues that were inconvenient not only for upper caste outfits and University officials, but also for the blatantly anti-Dalit and sectarian BJP administration at the Centre. Their harassment by the University on flimsy grounds included discontinuation of the monthly stipend since July and suspension from the University since September last year.

This incident also exposes the role of Smriti Irani’s Human Resource and Development (HRD) Ministry. This is the second instance where Smriti Irani’s Ministry is found exerting overbearing political pressure and interference in University affairs. The IIT Madras decision to ban the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC) followed the receipt of a letter from Smriti Irani’s HRD Ministry. In this case, Smriti Irani’s HRD Ministry sent five letters to the Hyderabad university for action on Labour Minister Bandaru Dattareya’s complaint regarding “anti national activities” on the campus and the alleged “violent attack” on an ABVP leader. The involvement of a Union Minister in ensuring University officials remained hostile to Rohith and his fellow ASA members, and the Vice-Chancellor’s role in the tragedy has been called out in the charges brought against the minister and the Vice-Chancellor by the police.

In an earlier letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Rohith had written, “Please give us poison at the time of admission itself instead of humiliating us like this.” Rohith’s suicide note also points to the psychological trauma he was going through on account of the continued harassment and intimidation.

“Rohith Vemula’s suicide is a chilling example of the deeply entrenched caste-based oppression in India,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of Indian American Muslim Council. “His death is not only an occasion for profound sorrow but also a call to action for all who care about human rights and religious freedom. Continuing caste-based oppression in modern India and anti-minority repression are the bitter fruits of Hindutva,” added Mr. Malick.

While the charges against Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and the Vice-Chancellor of the University are a step in the right direction, justice could be elusive unless there is mass outrage over Rohith’s suicide, as well as sustained action by civil society institutions. IAMC has urged all people of conscience, in India and across the world, to recognize caste-based oppression as a form of racism.

Indian-American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our website at: http://www.iamc.com

CONTACT:
Indian American Muslim Council
Phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
Email:info@iamc.com
Facebook: Indian American Muslim Council
Twitter: @IAMCouncil
Address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.

REFERENCES:

1. Rohith Vemula: The student who died for Dalit rights
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35349790

2. Rohith Vemula suicide: Why did HRD ministry write 4 letters on the ‘matter’ to Hyderabad Central University?
http://www.firstpost.com/politics/rohith-vemula-suicide-why-did-hrd-ministry-write-4-letters-on-the-matter-to-hyderabad-central-university-2590846.html

3. IIT Madras and Modi Government Play Big Brother, Ban Student Group
http://thewire.in/2015/05/29/iit-madras-and-modi-government-play-big-brother-ban-student-group-2688/

4. Trail Of Letters That Prove The Direct Involvement Of MHRD Under Smriti Irani In The Suicide Of Rohith Vemula
http://www.countercurrents.org/rti190116.htm
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Dalit scholar’s suicide an indictment of BJP’s Hindutva agenda, say Indian Americans (Jan 20, 2016, Twocircles.net)

The Indian American Muslim Council, an advocacy group aimed at safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, expressed shock and outrage over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University. Vemula and four other members of Ambedkar Students Association were victimised and subjected to relentless harassment by the University officials, said the Council.

“Rohith Vemula and his associates were clearly targeted for raising issues that were inconvenient not only for upper-caste outfits and University officials, but also for the blatantly anti-Dalit and sectarian BJP administration at the Centre. Their harassment by the University on flimsy grounds included discontinuation of the monthly stipend since July and suspension from the University since September last year,” the council said in a press release.

This council also said that the incident exposes the role of Smriti Irani’s Human Resource and Development (HRD) Ministry. This is the second instance where Smriti Irani’s Ministry has been found exerting overbearing political pressure and interference in University affairs. The IIT Madras decision to ban the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC) followed the receipt of a letter from Smriti Irani’s HRD Ministry. In this case, Smriti Irani’s HRD Ministry sent five letters to the Hyderabad University for action on Labour Minister Bandaru Dattareya’s complaint regarding “anti-national activities” on the campus and the alleged “violent attack” on an ABVP leader.…

http://twocircles.net/2016jan20/1453304289.html

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Remove prosecutor under cloud in Best Bakery trial: SC (Jan 16, 2016, Indian Express)

Underlining the strictures it made 11 years ago over his conduct in the 2002 Best Bakery case, the Supreme Court Friday ordered the removal of a district government pleader appointed by the Gujarat government.

A bench of Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice Uday U Lalit upheld the Gujarat High Court order and observed, “We cannot disregard the observations made by this court…a public prosecutor is not only a lawyer for the government but has a far more important role in the dispensation of justice.”

As a public prosecutor, R N Pandya had conducted the Best Bakery trial in the 2002 Gujarat riots in which 14 people were burnt alive in the aftermath of the Godhra riots. The trial court had acquitted all 21 accused with the Gujarat High Court upholding the order. However, the Supreme Court ordered a re-trial in 2004 after noting that there was “ample evidence on record, glaringly demonstrating subversion of justice” due to “dishonest and faulty investigation”.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/remove-prosecutor-under-cloud-in-best-bakery-trial-sc/

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UP: 5 alleged HuJI men acquitted for want of evidence (Jan 15, 2016, Hindustan Times)

A special court on Thursday acquitted five alleged members of the banned terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) for want of sufficient evidence to prove the sedition charge against them.

Those acquitted include Sheikh Mukhtar Hussain, Naushad alias Hafiz, Noor Islam alias Mama, Mohammad Ali Akbar Hussain, Aziz-ur- Rehman alias Sardar. They had allegedly shouted anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans in the court on August 12, 2008 during the hearing of a terror case against them. …

On April 29, 2009 the state government granted permission to the police to prosecute them. Special judge SAH Rizvi, in his order, observed that the prosecution could not produce evidence against the accused.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/up-5-alleged-huji-men-acquitted-for-want-of-evidence/story-HMP8h2AznM4SMcQxrKkQGM.html

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‘Ill-advised’ NDA Govt. trying to snatch minority rights: Kamal Farooqui (Jan 16, 2016, Business Standard)

Former Samajwadi Party leader Kamal Farooqui on Saturday slammed the NDA Government for trying to take away the rights of minority Muslim community, adding that the Centre was trying to disturb the peace of the nation.

“They (government) have started talking about the Jamia Milia which was established by the Muslims and are now trying to take away that right also. They have not been in a position to take the country forward for development. The security of this country is at stake and they are disturbing the peace in the name of beef or minority educational institutions. This will not do and this will have the ramifications. I think, the present government is ill-advised and it will create lot of law and order unrest and crisis of faith in the government,” Farooqui told ANI.

He added that both the Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia University were established by the minorities and so they have all the rights in the Constitution to administer the institutions they have already established.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/ill-advised-nda-govt-trying-to-snatch-minority-rights-kamal-farooqui-116011600126_1.html

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Malda violence: BJP-RSS trying to polarise voters, says Derek O’Brien (Jan 17, 2016, Indian Express)

Trinamool Congress on Sunday accused the BJP and RSS of carrying out a campaign to spread canards and “polarise” the voters in West Bengal ahead of the assembly elections there. “A few days ago there were posters saying – Mamata ‘Nero’, ‘Bengal Burning’ – put up in some parts of central Delhi. There were similar campaigns on the social media too.

“There are about a 100 days to go for the Bengal elections. The BJP and RSS are trying to spread canards to divert the attention from good governance done in five years,” TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien said here. He told PTI on phone that such a campaign was “being manufactured and carried out by BJP and RSS to polarise the voters.”

The campaign was being carried out especially after the Malda incident, O’Brien alleged.… The TMC has, however, accused the BJP of spreading communal venom ahead of the state assembly polls this year.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/malda-violence-bjp-rss-trying-to-polarise-voters-says-derek-obrien/

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BJP MLA “leads” attack on RTI rally in Rajasthan, injuring activists, vandalizing vehicles, snatching cameras (Jan 17, 2016, Counterview)

In an incident which has created a flutter among Right to Information (RTI) activists across India, goonda elements, said to be close to a BJP legislator in Rajasthan have brutally attacked the 100-day Accountability or Jawabdehi Yatra, begun by Magsaysay Award winner and pioneer of the RTI Act Aruna Roy. The incident took place in Aklera area of Zalawad district, which falls into Manoharthana constituency.

According to eye-witnesses, MLA Kanwar Lala Meena led the mob, which brutally attacked activists with lathis, vandalizing vehicles and destroying cameras. The attack took place in the evening at around 5 pm on on January 16, when the RTI campaigners were singing songs. The assailants started snatching the activists’ cameras, and when this met with resistance, they started beating up all those who formed part of the campaign.

Shankar Singh, Anuraag, Kamal Tank and many other campaigners, who were participating in the rally, were injured. Despite the attack, so far the police has not taken any action against the culprits. The attackers attacked the activists with lathis, causing internal injury to several of the activists. Also led by senior RTI activist Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, the Accountability Yatra began on December 1, 2015 from Jaipur, and will cover all 33 districts of the state, spending three days in each.…

http://www.counterview.net/2016/01/bjp-mla-leads-attack-on-rti-rally-in.html

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RSS plan to form a Christian wing in Kerala fails to take off (Jan 16, 2016, Hindustan Times)

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) plan to reach out to Christians by setting up an organisation on the lines of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch didn’t find favour with Catholics who form about 70% of the community.

The RSS was planning to float a Rashtriya Isai Manch modeled on its Muslim wing that was formed in 2002 at the initiative of then chief KS Sudarshan. He made a call to Indianise all churches then but it failed to make much impact.

The Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, has been sending feelers to the church for more than a year but to no avail. “It seems the church is wary of our overtures. Our move is not political but only want to create goodwill with the community and dispel some mutual apprehensions,” a senior RSS leader from central Kerala said. RSS leader Indresh Kumar even met two archbishops and many diocese heads in December in New Delhi to discuss the plan. Later, it sent some functionaries to Kerala which has the highest concentration of Christian in the country.…Cardinal Baselois Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, has made it clear that he was yet to be convinced about the need for such an organisation.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/rss-plan-to-form-a-christian-wing-in-kerala-fails-to-take-off/story-JRPJEyWPJLT3sMV3VC91NO.html

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Hindu Sena chief arrested for attack on Pakistan airlines office (Jan 16, 2016, Indian Express)

A day after Hindu Sena members vandalised the office of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the Delhi Police arrested the outfit’s chief Vishnu Gupta for allegedly planning the attack.…

On Thursday, five members of the Hindu Sena had ransacked the PIA office in Barakhamba Road at 3.15 pm. They had damaged computers and furniture.

A case under sections 120B (being party to a criminal conspiracy), 147 (rioting), 149 (being the member of unlawful assembly, guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 427 (mischief causing damage to property) and 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) of the IPC has been registered. Gupta had been arrested last October as well, after his complaint about beef being served at the Kerala House canteen was found to be false.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/hindu-sena-chief-arrested-for-attack-on-pakistan-airlines-office/

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Madhya Pradesh: Top cop gets threats from ‘rioter’ over arrests (Jan 17, 2016, Hindustan Times)

A right-wing hardliner once accused of engineering a communal flare-up in Madhya Pradesh’s Harda has allegedly threatened similar violence if police did not stop “harassing Hindus” over the assault on a Muslim couple allegedly by members of a cow protection group.

The alleged threat by Surendra Singh Rajpurohit alias ‘Tiger’ was made to Harda superintendent of police (SP) Prem Babu Sharma on his mobile phone, the officer said on Saturday. Rajpurohit, however, denied the charge though an audio clip containing the purported threat has gone viral in the state.…

Talking to HT on phone, Prem Shankar Sharma confirmed receiving a call from Rajpurohit. Rajpurohit wielded such clout in the district that he wore uniform similar to military fatigues and forced people to prostate in front of him and also stomped on them. He openly carried arms.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/bhopal/madhya-pradesh-top-cop-gets-threats-from-rioter-over-arrests/story-n0NZbKEPPs3SisKcshhtQN.html

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Azam Khan on Fatehpur: Intolerance of people caused communal violence (Jan 15, 2016, ABP Live)

Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan on Friday expressed his regrets over communal violence in Fatehpur’s Jahanabad district. While promising punitive action against those who engage in violence, he said it was the result of intolerance in people.

“It was the result of people’s intolerance that people have to come out to display their religion in order to show their strength. They must think that religion must not be displayed on roads,” he said.

He further said no religion permits setting someone and something on fire. 6 shops and 3 vehicles were set afire in UP’s Fatehpur district after two communities clash during Makar Sankranti procession.…

http://www.abplive.in/india-news/azam-khan-on-fatehpur-intolerance-of-people-caused-communal-violence-275306

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Opinions and Editorials

RSS, freedom movement and the tricolour – By Sankara Narayanan (Jan 13, 2016, Meri News)

The Muslim Rashtriya Manch is a wing of the RSS. The Manch is holding talks with madrasas nationwide to hoist the Tricolour and sing the national anthem on Republic Day. It wants the Muslim seminaries to make their students remember the martyrs of the Freedom Struggle from 1857 to 1947.

A day after an RSS body asked all madrasas in the country to hoist the national flag on Republic Day, Darul Uloom Deoband asked the RSS if it “believed” in the Constitution of India and in the national flag. A spokesperson of the seminary told that even though the decision to hoist national flag is individual choice of madrasas, almost all of them not only hoist national flag but also celebrate Independence and Republic days. He also bluntly asked the RSS what its contribution in the freedom struggle was.

RSS has zero contribution in the struggle for the independence. Rather they opposed the freedom movement and ridiculed many a martyrs like Bhagat Singh. It is an indisputable fact that the ideological forefathers of the group, which is now asking Muslims for the nationalist credentials, were on the sides of British. Their ideological associate killed Mahatma Gandhi after all. M.S. Golwalkar (Guruji), second chief of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the organization till date told, “Hindus, don’t waste your energy fighting the British. Save your energy to fight our internal enemies that are Muslims, Christians and Communists.”…

http://www.merinews.com/article/rss-freedom-movement-and-the-tricolour/15912741.shtml

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India gives saffron agenda the boot – By Amulya Ganguli (Jan 13, 2016, Free Press Journal)

The virtually unknown “historian”, Y Sudarshan Rao, who cannot claim to have made any significant contribution to the subject, has left the post of the chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) unsung and unlamented. The inadequacies of the B grade filmmaker, Pahlaj Nihalani, have been exposed by the government’s decision to set up a committee under the well-known director, Shyam Benegal, to look into the functioning of the Central Board of Film Certification of which Nihalani is still the formal head.

The “C” grade actor, Gajendra Chauhan’s first day in office at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), six months after he was appointed its chairman, was marked by a police baton charge on the protesting students who do not think that he has the right credentials for the job.

Evidently, the government’s attempt to control the cultural agenda hasn’t been a notable success. When the government chose the saffron apparatchiki for the prestigious posts in the ICHR and elsewhere in the months immediately after the BJP’s general election victory, it presumably thought that the task of cleansing these organisations of their supposed Leftist taint would be easy.…

http://www.freepressjournal.in/amulya-ganguli-india-gives-saffron-agenda-the-boot/756143

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Why are India’s Dalit students taking their lives? – By Soutik Biswas (Jan 20, 2016, BBC)

“My birth is my fatal accident… I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life… I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.”

These are excerpts from the last letter – “this kind of letter for the first time” – that Rohith Vemula, a PhD student at Hyderabad Central University wrote before he killed himself on Sunday.

It is, at once, an eloquent and chilling suicide note: a young man who loved “science, stars, nature and people”, and aspired to become a science writer like Carl Sagan, ended up defeated and crushed by discrimination and apathy.…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35349979

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Government’s View on Minority Character of Aligarh Muslim University is Unconstitutional – By Faizan Mustafa (Jan 17, 2016, The Wire)

… the recent decision of the Government of India opposing the minority character of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia University has shaken the confidence of the Muslim minority.

The assertion by the attorney general that the executive of a secular country cannot set up minority institutions and that the Government of India is in agreement with the 1967 five judge bench decision of the Supreme Court and two 2005 judgments of the Allahabad High Court in respect of Aligarh Muslim University, has initiated an avoidable political debate in the country. If the government wants to oppose the minority character of AMU, it should do it before a seven judge bench.

A number of TV channels debated the issue and did discuss the efforts of playing Muslims against Dalits and OBCs in the context of the all important Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. But most discussions missed out on the fundamental issues which are involved in this historic case of huge constitutional importance: Why have special minority rights been given in the constitution in the first place? Can minorities establish universities? How can the minority character of an institution be determined? Who would determine this status? Can fundamental rights be waived? Can parliament pass a law helping the incorporation of a minority university? If a minority institution accepts governmental supervision in order to ensure efficiency of administration and safeguard itself from maladministration, does it loses the minority tag?…

http://thewire.in/2016/01/17/governments-view-on-minority-character-of-aligarh-muslim-university-is-unconstitutional-19460/

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Malda riots reveal old fault lines – By Avishek Rakshit (Jan 16, 2016, Business Standard)

The recent violence in Kaliachak in the Malda district ofWest Bengal has happened at a time when the state is preparing for elections to the legislative assembly. A large crowd of Muslims, protesting the remarks made by jailedHindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari against Prophet Mohammed in November, ransacked the police station and set several vehicles on fire. No life was lost.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is struggling to make inroads in Bengal, accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of going soft on the perpetrators, she said it was a law and order problem and was being given a communal tinge. The Left parties and Congress too have refused to call it a communal flare up.

“The protest was peaceful but anti-social elements mingled with the crowd and attacked a Border Security Force vehicle and the Kaliachak police station. This wasn’t actually a communal riot,” Mausam Noor, Congress MP from Malda (north), says.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/politics/malda-riots-reveal-old-fault-lines-116011600812_1.html

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RTI Will Just Remain A Far Cry – By Haider Abbas (Jan 9, 2016, Outlook)

The one-and-a-half-day RTI Convention Trust Through Democracy, in New Delhi, on Oct 16-17, found a surprise in the form of PM Narendra Modi, who addressed the congregation of all the Chief and State Information Commissioners (CIC & SIC) from all across the country. The deliberations found profound pondering so as to make RTI become a potent tool for every citizen, as after all the preamble of RTI Act 2005, makes it amply clear that ‘democracy requires an informed citizenry’.…

As we enter the new decade of RTI Act-2005, surely it is time to do away with the clash of this Act with that of The Official Secret Act 1923 as the form of oath administered to our ministers requiring them to say that they would not divulge any official information, unless required in their discharge of official duty. This oath provided in the statute, is yet another relic of the British legacy which stands in direct contravention of RTI Act-2005.

These two Acts are both antithetical to each other and it is high time when the British hangover is done away with and India paves for the total-transparency-democracy. RTI has still miles to go and we need to see to it that it doesn’t just remain a far cry.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/rti-will-just-remain-a-far-cry/296367

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