IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 29th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Indian Americans mark Republic Day with pledge to safeguard India’s Constitution

January 28 2018

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, organized celebrations in two cities in the United States to commemorate the 69th anniversary of India’s Republic Day. The Republic Day marks the day when India’s Constitution came into effect, ushering in the birth of a modern, secular and democratic Republic. The celebrations were held in Washington, D.C. as well as in San Diego, California.

Mr. Musaddique Thange, Trustee IAMC, speaking at the India Republic Day event in San Diego, California

“The guarantees of Justice, Liberty and Equality for all citizens, enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution collectively represent one of the greatest accomplishments in the cause of pluralism. A remarkable document that should be cherished and celebrated and that represents the highest aspirations of the world’s largest democracy,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, National President of IAMC. “These guarantees are also a reminder of the ideals we need to live up to and the promises we still need to keep,” added Mr. Khan.

IAMC Washington, D.C. chapter celebrates Republic Day

Commenting on the occasion, Ms. Seema Salim, the National Vice President of IAMC expressed pride over the ideals espoused by the Indian constitution as well as concern over the prevailing socio-political environment in India. She called for an awakening of the silent majority against the increasing divisiveness, violence and hate unleashed upon the religious minorities in India. “The Republic Day celebrations remind us yet again, that the foundations of the Indian Republic are based on the ideals of justice, pluralism and democracy,” said Ms. Salim. “Unfortunately, the Indian Constitution remains under threat, by the onslaught of a relentlessly divisive and hateful agenda, espoused by narrow sectarian interests. Certainly, we can’t achieve a real democracy when the nation is in the grips of a sectarian divide, with citizens pitted against each other on the basis of caste and religion,” Ms. Salim further added.

IAMC has consistently marked Annual Republic Day celebrations in different cities across the US for over 11 years. This year’s festivities include speeches celebrating the Constitution, a fancy-dress competition, Impromptu speaking, Drawing competition and events highlighting India’s diversity.

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://iamc.com/

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Communal Harmony

A festival to celebrate Hindu-Muslim unity (Jan 24, 2018, Times of India)

Admirers of Sufism were at their ecstatic high on Monday night as the sacred environs of the Dargah of Hazrat Shaik Ji Hali in Old City reverberated with the devotional songs of the 13th century saint-poet Amir Khusro to mark the festival of Basant.

The Sufi Basant festival, a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity, is celebrated at all major dargahs of Sufi saints on Basant Panchami, which heralds the spring . It is also dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge.

As Sufi singers recited the famous Khusro poem (a mix of Persian and proto-Hindi), Zehaal-e-miskeen makun taghaful, duraye naina banaye batiyan (Do not overlook my misery, by blandishing your eyes and weaving tales), the Dargah and the nearby Charkaman and Gulzar Houz were transformed into a realm of spiritualism and love.…


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Kasganj violence: Journalist Abhisar Sharma exposes ‘lies’ of Aaj Tak even as demand to boycott India Today grows (Jan 28, 2018, Janta ka Reporter)

Senior journalist Abhisar Sharma on Sunday expressed his disgust over the ‘lies’ spread by Aaj Tak channel to further inflame the communal tension in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj. One person had died in firing and several others were injured after a group of Hindutva supporters made desperate attempts to stop another group of Muslims from carrying out their Republic Day function on Friday.

Abhisar minced no words and slammed Aaj Tak channel and its so-called journalists without taking names. A clip of his Facebook Live has now gone viral on social media platforms with journalists, lawyers and members of civil society applauding him for his ability to tell the truth.

Earlier media reports had claimed that the area’s Muslims did not allow the Hindu youth, who were carrying the Indian national flags, to travel past their neighbourhood. This, according to the earlier report, was the root of the violence. However, on Sunday a fresh video emerged making it abundantly clear that there was no truth in the claims made by the supporters of the ABVP and the VHP. Contrary to their claims, the video showed how the youth belonging to the Hindutva brigade had arrived in the Muslim area of Kasganj on motorbikes carrying both the Indian national flags and saffron flags.…



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How Yogi Government Is Seeking Amnesty For BJP Leaders In Hate Speech Case (Jan 23, 2018, NDTV)

Under fire for attempting to drop cases against its own leaders, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has pushed back, claiming it is just following procedure. The controversy was sparked by media reports that the UP government had written to authorities in Muzaffarnagar, asking if cases can be withdrawn against a host of BJP leaders charged with hate speech ahead of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

In response, the state government told NDTV that they had simply forwarded an application by one of the accused leaders, Umesh Malik, BJP MLA, Budhana, asking that the cases be dropped. But the letter, sent by the Department of Law and Justice, appears to be more than just a cover note for the MLA’s application.

It asks whether the Senior Superintendent of Police thinks the cases should be taken back, and whether the District Magistrate thinks the cases could be withdrawn in public interest. The letter is signed by Rajesh Singh, Special Secretary in the Law Department. In all, it seeks opinion on the withdrawal of nine FIRs or first information reports; of those, the first FIR (number 173/2013) pertains to charges of hate speeches against five prominent BJP/Sangh Parivar leaders. Apart from Mr Malik, the others are Sanjeev Baliyan, BJP MP from Muzaffarnagar, Suresh Rana, BJP MLA, Shamli, Bhartendra Singh, BJP MP, Bijnore, and Sadhvi Prachi, a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP.…



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Ishrat Jahan’s mother opposes plea by accused (Jan 21, 2018, Indian Express)

Appearing on behalf of Ishrat Jahan’s mother Shamima Kauser, two senior lawyers on Saturday objected to the application moved by two accused officers of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The accused had challenged a special CBI court order which took cognisance of a supplementary chargesheet and issued summons for their appearance.

Senior lawyer I H Syed argued before the special CBI court that summons issued by the court is valid as there is no need to take prior sanction from the government to prosecute government servants in cases of criminal conspiracy. He cited two judgments of the Supreme Court to prove that in such cases prior sanction under Section 197 of CrPC was not required.

The two IB officers – Rajeev Wankhede and Tushar Mittal – had challenged the order saying there were was no permission by the Centre to CBI to prosecute them. Besides Wankhede and Mittal, Mukul Sinha and former special director Rajinder Kumar were also accused. “This case is very peculiar… On what basis the chargesheet was not taken on record for so many years,” advocate Vrinda Grover argued. Both of them also opposed the discharge application of former DGP P P Pandey. The Bombay Lawyers’ Association have moved in the Bombay HC a PIL against the CBI’s decision to not challenge BJP president Amit Shah’s discharge by a Sessions Court in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.



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Judge Loya death case: SC transfers to itself two PILs from Bombay HC (Jan 22, 2018, The Tribune)

The Supreme Court on Monday transferred to itself two PILs pending in the Bombay High Court in connection with the Judge BH Loya death case.

A three-judge Bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra fixed February 2 as the date to take up the transferred petitions with two other PILs already pending before the top court.

The court witnessed a heated exchange between senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Harish Salve after the former alleged that the state was trying to protect BJP chief Amit Shah, who was an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.…



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Bengali Muslim worker’s murder: Shambhulal Regar did not choose his victim randomly, police say (Jan 25, 2018, Scroll.in)

Shambhulal Regar, 36, who hacked a Muslim labourer to death in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand town in December, was driven by jealousy and not any desire to save a “Hindu sister” from so-called love jihad, the police have confirmed.

In its chargesheet against Regar, filed in a Rajsamand court on January 11, the police say that he tried to cover his real motive by raising the bogey of love jihad – the conspiracy theory pushed by Hindutva groups about Muslim men wooing Hindu women with the express purpose of converting them to Islam.…

Regar had bought the pickaxe and the customised machete around four months before, the chargesheet says, and had not used them for any purpose other than the murder. This has led the police to believe that Afrazul’s murder was carefully planned: it was not a case of “mistaken identity” as some reports had claimed.…



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Mobs on a rampage: How the international media has been covering the Padmaavat controversy (Jan 25, 2018, Scroll.in)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial period film Padmaavat was released on Thursday amidst rising violence by the Shri Rajput Karni Sena and other Rajput groups. On Wednesday, mobs unleashed violence in at least seven states across India, blocking highways and burning buses in Haryana and Rajasthan, forcing shut shops in Uttar Pradesh and throwing bricks and stones at a school bus full of children in Gurgaon.

A day earlier, on Tuesday, mobs in Gujarat torched nearly 200 vehicles in Ahmedabad to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the release of Padmaavat, a film that some people claim distorts the “history of Hindus” and insults the mythical Rajput Queen Padmini. Fearing attacks, multiplex owners in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa have announced that they will not screen Bhansali’s film.

While the Padmaavat controversy has dominated news headlines in India for the past week, it has also grabbed the attention of the media across the world.…



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Kerala ‘love jihad’ case: SC says NIA can’t probe legitimacy of Hadiya’s marriage (Jan 23, 2018, Hindustan Times)

The Supreme Court said on Tuesday the National Investigation Agency (NIA) cannot probe the legitimacy of Hadiya Jahan’s marriage that was annulled by the Kerala high court last year, sparking a raging debate over personal freedom in India.

The bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra said marriage has to be separated from criminal action or conspiracy, adding that adding that only Hadiya has the right “to decide on her choices”.

The SC made Hadiya a party in the case and asked her to file a response as it continued hearing the case of alleged forced conversion. “She is an adult. She appeared before us and said she is married. What can the court do? We can’t get into the legitimacy of the person whom she has married. Legitimacy of marriage can be questioned only by her or the man,” the SC said on Tuesday.…



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PM’s Office Protecting Bhima-Koregaon Violence Accused: Prakash Ambedkar (Jan 23, 2018, NDTV)

Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar on Monday alleged that the PMO had given orders not to arrest Sambhaji Bhide, booked on the charge of orchestrating violence during the celebrations of the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon this month. He claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bhide had good relations.

“Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured on the arrest since an FIR had been registered. But when we inquired, we learnt the message had come from the Prime Minister’s Office not to arrest Bhide or take action against him,” Mr Ambedkar told the media here.

“PM Modi had worn saffron turban during his first speech from the Red Fort on Bhide’s advice. PM Modi praised him in an event. This is the relation.” He warned that in case there is no response from the government, his organisation will take the issue across the country. The Dalit leader said Bhide had not even filed any application for interim bail since he was quite sure that the PMO was protecting him.…



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Apologise for derogatory remarks on Tricolour: Congress to BJP (Jan 26, 2018, The Hindu)

The Opposition has demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party tender an apology for the remarks made by its leader Deen Dayal Upadhyay against the Tricolour in 1947. The demand comes a day after the BJP announced that it would hold a Tiranga ekta rally in response to the Opposition’s Save Constitution rally on Republic Day.

Congress MP Rajeev Satav said, “The Chief Minister’s letterhead features the photograph of Upadhyay, who in an article in Organiser in 1947 said that it was inauspicious to have three colours on a flag and it would adversely impact the country’s population.” Mr. Satav was addressing a press conference along with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Jitendra Awhad and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) MP Raju Shetty.

Mr Satav asked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to clarify whether he supported Upadhyay’s position. He said, “Holding tiranga rallies with such history is laughable. He must first issue a clarification and then talk about holding such rallies.”…



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Haryana witnesses 10 rapes in past 10 days (Jan 23, 2018, Hindustan Times)

The recent case of a 22-year-old woman, who was allegedly dragged out of a car and raped in Gurgaon, and a 27-year-old married woman, who was allegedly raped by a man late on Sunday night in Rohtak, has raised serious questions about women’s safety in Haryana.

This comes after chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday said that the state will seek capital punishment for those found guilty of raping girls below the age of 12.

With these latest two incidents, the northern state has witnessed 10 rapes, mostly of minors, in the last 10 days.…



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Opinions and Editorials

The Constitution as a Living Document – By Nandini Sundar (Jan 27, 2018, The Wire)

The republic has never felt more endangered than it does at 69. When Union minister Anant Kumar Hegde let slip the public secret that the BJP/RSS government is here to change the constitution, the problem is not that the constitution cannot and should not be changed, but what direction that change will take, and whether it will destroy the very basis of the republic or strengthen it.

Justice, liberty, equality, fraternity – these progressive values in the constitution are the last defence of the republic. It is clear, however, that these are not values shared by the RSS from the moment of its inception and that indeed, the RSS regards these as an obstacle to realising its own vision of the country.

In the last couple of years, the ABVP, supported by pliant university authorities, has stopped several campus events which explicitly set out to celebrate the constitution or Indian democracy, such as one at the Delhi School of Economics in August 2017 and another at Allahabad in September 2017, titled Jashn-e- Samvidhan. It is only an organisation which is itself deeply anti-national and anti-democratic that can object to others celebrating the constitution or democracy.…



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Kasganj: The Facts And Not The Hype – By Amaresh Mishra (Jan 28, 2018, The Citizen)

Muslims of Kasganj were celebrating Republic Day on January 26 by hoisting the Indian national flag hoisting program at Veer Abdul Hamid Tri-Crossing.… While Muslims were hoisting the tri-colour flag in a small ceremony with chairs and guests, a group of boys suddenly appeared on foot and bikes to disrupt the event. These boys were not carrying out a tiranga yatra. You can see in the picture and the video, that these men, ostensibly from the Akhil Bharatiya Yuva Parishad, were carrying a saffron flag.

Muslims requested these boys to join their program and celebrate Republic Day together. They asked them not to disrupt the flag hoisting and to join it together. But the boys insisted that the ceremony be stopped, and uprooted the stand on which the Muslims had hoisted the tri-colour. The Muslims tried to reason with the boys even then, who were all not from the locality and outsiders. The boys wanted the Muslims to hoist the RSS-saffron flag. When the Muslims protested, the boys got violence. They slapped an elderly Muslim. A scuffle ensued. The boys raised dirty abusive slogans against the Muslims. One of these being, “hindi-Hindu-Hindustan, K****Bhago Pakistan.”

The youth then left the place, so as per all reports violence did NOT take place at the Veer Abdul Hamid Tri-Crossing beyond what has been stated above. Instead another group joined the initial youth in another part of Kasganj, and this mob moved attacking the lad of Muslims, torching trucks at Bilram Crossing. They attacked and looted Muslim shops. They had arms and were firing in the air, according to eyewitnesses. It was at this point that one Chandan Gupta was hit by a bullet. Preparation for trouble had begun earlier, with a Muslim man driving from Aligarh to Kasganj being brutally attacked by a mob. The saffron flag which the group was trying to hoist, is still there at Veer Abdul Hamid Chowk.



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As violence erupts over the film ‘Padmaavat,’ where are India’s liberal politicians? – By Barkha Dutt (Jan 26, 2018, Washington Post)

…The events of this week have cast somewhat of a shadow over the celebrations. Millions of otherwise proud Indians felt betrayed, enraged and disappointed as we watched thugs armed with sticks and stones and bottles of petrol turn their fury on children and assault a school bus ferrying toddlers home. Sobbing children ducked under the bus seats, cowering in fear as they were pelted with stones.

The mobs who terrorized the kids were “protesting” the release of the movie “Padmaavat,” a story set in medieval India, which they claim is offensive to the pride of their caste community of Rajputs. The film is based on the much revered Rajput queen, Padmini or Padmavati, who first appears in Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s poem “Padmavat.” The vigilantes describe themselves as a self-appointed private “army” called the Karni Sena who have even threatened to cut off the nose of lead actress Deepika Padukone.

The bus attack was the latest in a series of incidents of arson and hooliganism that have erupted across the northern states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, in a depressing abdication of law and order by the ruling BJP administration in these states.…



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At Davos, Narendra Modi forgets what leadership looks like – By Mihir Sharma (Jan 24, 2018, Live Mint)

Whatever you might say about Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and plenty of people have had a lot to say in the past – not even his critics have called him an uninspiring speaker.… But little of that was on display when Modi took the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

Modi, too, spoke of the fear that the tides of anti-globalization were rising, and that countries were becoming more “self-centered.” But he didn’t seem to be offering Indian leadership in response. Certainly, he correctly identified three worldwide problems… But it wasn’t clear what, concretely, India would do to persuade or win over waverers; how it would forge new alliances and blaze new trails to progress. This was particularly disappointing when, to Indian ears, much else in Modi’s speech struck precisely the right note.…

But Davos is more than just any investor conference; and the prime minister could have saved the “invest in India” pitch for the roundtable meetings with executives that he does so well. Davos didn’t want India to sell itself to the world; it needed India to lead.



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Indian Judiciary Is Purposely Being Run Down For Benefit Of Modi/Shah – By Anandi Sharan (Jan 23, 2018, Countercurrents)

Hindu Rashtra benefits from the miserable underfunding of the Indian judiciary leading to what is objectively speaking a dysfunctional and for the poor more or less non-functional judiciary. The millions of cases pending at all levels of the Indian judiciary benefit Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s Hindu Rashtra project by encouraging extra-judicial settlement of disputes.

In a functioning system an amicable dispute resolution by a friendly neutral person helping between neighbours and other disputants would be a positive contribution to lightening the burden on lawyers and the courts.

But as the Indian judiciary has basically collapsed, with millions of litigants in the process of waiting year upon year for their cases to be tried, the Sangh Parivar has stepped in with extra judicial killings, obscurantist self-proclamations of retarded social rules and militant enforcement of Hindutva prejudices. There is collusion between BJP/RSS politicians, BJP/RSS lawyers and BJP/RSS male strongmen in the creation of a society run by social and cultural and physical coercion.…



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Why Are India’s Strategic Thinkers Silent About the Country’s Decline Under Modi? – By Sushil Aaron (Jan 23, 2018, The Wire)

…There are analysts in India who are critical of the Modi government. This is not the place to identify them but to wonder about the many who are silent on developments in India, particularly those that have a bearing on its democracy and ultimately its prospects as a major power.…

What the relative silence of strategic experts does is to distort the division of intellectual labour in the country. We have a situation where political scientists, economists, historians and other social scientists generate the bulk of criticism on issues relevant to India’s future – in their roles as scholars, writers, journalists, activists etc – whereas the strategic community is mostly sitting out of domestic debates and is, in effect, being as uncritical as the government expects loyalists to be.…

India’s strategic and foreign policy thinkers likewise need to take a sterner view on what the BJP’s mode of governance means for India’s present and future. The country’s national interest would be better served if analysts think of their vocation more broadly than merely paying attention to the nuances of diplomatic ties. Their assessments of India can be a lot more candid than they have been.



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Book Review

Mothering A Muslim – The Dark Secret In Our Schools And Playgrounds

Author: Nazia Erum
Reviewed by: Majid Maqbool
Available at: Juggernaut Books, 4th Floor, 118, KS House, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi, Delhi 110049, 248 pages, Rs399.. www.amazon.in/
‘We cannot continue to look away’ (Jan 26, 2018, Live Mint

Six-year-old Hindu boy (curiously, out of the blue): Kya tum Mussulman ho? (Are you a Muslim?) Your name sounds so. Six-year-old Muslim boy (seriously): Yes, I am Muslim. Main non-veg khata hoon par beef nahin khata (I eat non-veg but not beef). – Kindergarten conversations at Shikshantar School, Gurugram.

Nazia Erum’s new book, Mothering A Muslim, is peppered with casual talk such as this among students at some of India’s most reputed schools. It paints a shocking picture of the extent of bullying children from middle-class Muslim families face within their school premises.

Talking to over 145 children and their parents across 12 cities, Erum uncovers some profoundly troubling truths. She documents stories of rampant bullying of Muslim children – of six-year-olds being hit by their classmates because of their faith; of religious segregation in classrooms; and of anxious Muslim parents who have to monitor their children’s dress, speech and actions to protect them in a communally polarized environment. In Mothering A Muslim, she lifts the veil from a social taboo, speaking up loud and clear on a subject that is usually spoken of only in whispers.…



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