IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 4th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Urdu fest to promote communal harmony (Jan 3, 2016, Times of India)

…Many memories will come alive when television actor Neha Sharad reads letters of Safia Ak-htar (poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar’s mother) to her husband Jan Nisar Akhtar while ghazal expon-ent Pooja Gaitonde sings some of Jan Nisar Akhtar’s famous film songs, including the immensely romantic Main tumhi se poochhti hoon mujhe tumse pyaar kyun hai (Black Cat). “This festival dispels many myths and one of them is that Urdu belongs to Muslims alone,” explains Gaitonde.

“The idea is to tell people what Bhendi Bazaar symbolized and can still offer if earnest efforts are made,” says Zubair Azmi, director of Urdu Markaz and the festival. The festival maintains its “secular” character. So, apart from a mushaira featuring non-Muslim poets of Urdu, a discussion titled “Celebrating Urdu” will see non-Muslim intellectuals like Jnanpith Awardee novelist Bhalchandra Nemade and Sudheendra Kulkarni talk about Urdu’s contributions to our celebrated composite culture.

“The festival is fast becoming a platform to showcase Bhendi Bazaar’s cultural ethos and promote communal harmony,” says local MLA Amin Patel. While admitting Patel’s “critical facilitation” to host the fest, Azmi agrees with him that the fest needs to be held on a larger scale.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/50420698.cms

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Marathi author slams Modi over 2002 riots (Jan 2, 2016, The Hindu)

Marathi author Shripal Sabnis has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a man forever “smeared with the taint of the 2002 Gujarat riots.” Speaking at a function here, Dr. Sabnis said Mr. Modi was not fit to be Prime Minister.

Censuring his “impromptu” visit to Pakistan, he said: “It is hard to swallow that the Prime Minister, a hardcore RSS worker, visits Pakistan on an ad hoc basis to offer birthday greetings to his counterpart Nawaz Sharif… and this is a man who has his hands tainted by the Gujarat riots.”

But Mr. Sabnis endorsed talks with Pakistan and said cultural ties must continue. “Ghulam Ali should be allowed to sing anywhere in India,” he said, in a veiled rebuke to the Shiv Sena, the BJP’s ally, accused of pressuring the organisers of the ghazal maestro’s concerts to cancel them.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/marathi-author-slams-modi-over-2002-riots/article8055136.ece

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Raid on RSS worker’s shop: Six swords seized in Kannur (Jan 5, 2016, The Hindu)

The police seized six swords from a furniture shop of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker during a raid on Monday in and around the area where a Communist Party of India (Marxist) worker was seriously injured in a bomb attack near Chakkarakkal on Sunday.

The swords were recovered during the raid on the furniture shop of Laneesh, who is one of the suspected RSS workers involved in hurling bombs on CPI(M) workers T. Samesh and O.K. Rajesh at Chembilode under the Chakkarakkal police station limits on Sunday. The left leg of Samesh was nearly severed in the attack. He has been rushed to a hospital in Kozhikode. The police said that all the six accused in the attack were absconding.

In a retaliatory attack, a BJP worker and bus driver Udayakumar, 40, was stabbed near Anjarakkandy at around 10 p.m. on Sunday. The assailants, allegedly CPI(M) workers, stopped the bus and stabbed the driver, the police said.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/raid-on-rss-workers-shop/article8067043.ece

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Kamlesh Tiwari row: Tension in West Bengal’s Malda after mob torches police station (Jan 4, 2016, DNA India)

A day after a mob torched the entire Kaliachawk police station in Malda district of West Bengal and several vehicles including those of the BSF and the police, tension prevailed in the area on Monday.

While the section 144 continues to be imposed since Sunday night, no arrests have been made so far. “The situation is under control now and we have not yet made any arrests,” IG Law and Order, West Bengal Police, Anuj Sharma told dna.

On Sunday, a massive counter rally was organised by a group against the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari for his alleged derogatory remarks on Prophet Muhammad.…

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-kamlesh-tiwari-row-tension-in-west-bengal-s-malda-after-mob-torches-police-station-2162167

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Shamli ‘abduction’ case: After woman’s statement, court quashes charges, accused brothers to walk free (Jan 5, 2016, Indian Express)

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate in Muzaffarnagar Monday ordered for the release of Mohammad Asif and his brother Arshad who were arrested for the alleged abduction of a 23-year-old woman from Shamli, days after she told the court she had married Asif of her own will and was not kidnapped, police officials said.

The allegations that the woman, a Hindu who now identifies herself as Aksa Rani, was abducted had led to a mahapanchayat in Shamli on December 25 where alleged hate speeches were delivered in the presence of BJP and Congress leaders, and local Bajrang Dal and VHP activists, causing tension in the area and registration of FIRs by the police.

On January 1 (Friday), however, the woman who was traced by the police in Delhi and brought back to Shamli along with Asif after reported missing since December 1, recorded her statement before the CJM, rejecting allegations of her abduction.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/shamli-abduction-case-after-womans-statement-court-quashes-charges-accused-brothers-to-walk-free/

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15 Christians arrested after prayer meeting interrupted by Hindu extremists (Jan 5, 2016, Christian Today)

Fifteen Christians were arrested for alleged forced conversions in Karnataka, India after the church they were praying in was surrounded.

Christians had gathered on 31 December for a prayer meeting to usher in the New Year at an evangelical protestant church called Believers Church. The police interrupted the gathering, arresting those inside. The police justified their arrests as an act of protection from the dozens of Hindu extremists who had surrounded the church building, according to Asia News.

The Hindu radicals surrounding the church came from two ultra-nationalist groups called the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. They had intended to raid the church, but locked doors prevented them until the police were able to intervene.…

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/15.christians.arrested.after.prayer.meeting.interrupted.by.hindu.extremists/75650.htm

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Revoke NSA case on VHP man, MHA tells UP (Jan 4, 2016, Times of India)

A day after the Union home ministry sent instructions to Shamli district administration to revoke the National Security Act (NSA) against Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) functionary Vivek Premi, the VHP’s Shamli unit is emboldened by their “success”. VHP leaders are likely to seek time to meet home minister Rajnath Singh to demand that the NSA be revoked against Hindu ascetic Maharaj Yashvir too, who was booked under the stringent law on Saturday for an alleged hate speech.

In a video which went viral in June, Premi was seen beating and parading a Muslim man through the streets of Shamli, claiming he was a “cow slaughterer”. Yashvir, during a mahapanchayat on December 25, had allegedly made controversial statements against Islam.

Shamli district magistrate OP Singh had confirmed to TOI that he received instructions from the ministry of home affairs (MHA) that the NSA charges against Premi should be revoked. “Now if there is no other charge against him, he will be released, but if he was booked under some other charges, he will have to go through the legal process,” Singh had said.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/50432075.cms

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Sena corporator’s husband held (Jan 3, 2016, The Hindu)

The husband of a Shiv Sena corporator was on Saturday arrested for allegedly opening fire during a function held to celebrate the New Year at Manpada.

Four others have also been apprehended for allegedly being involved in an assault following a heated argument between two groups at the function, a police official said. “Cross complaints were registered by the groups involved in the incident,” he said.

Shiv Sena corporator in Kalyan Dombivili Municipal Corporation Pramila Patil and her husband Mukesh were present at the function held to celebrate the New Year, police said.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/sena-corporators-husband-held/article8060630.ece

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“Two-thirds of 2015-16 budget for minorities still unspent”, says Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Jan 2, 2016, Times of India)

Demanding swift disbursal and proper utilisation of budget for minorities, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) drew upon facts presented in the Rajya Sabha in winter session of Parliament to point out that almost two-thirds of the budgetary allocations for 2015-16 have not been utilised by the Union ministry of minority affairs.

The Jamat-e-Islami Hind’s president Syed Jalaluddin Umri said, “In the current financial year, 70.16% of the Budget Estimates (BE) is unutilised as on date. The Ministry of Minority Affairs has earmarked budget of Rs 3,712.78 crore at the budget estimate stage for the year 2015-16. Out of this, Rs 1,955.20 crore (52.66% of the BE) was earmarked for scholarship schemes and Rs 1,757.58 Crore (47.34% of the BE) for other welfare and development schemes for minorities.”

Umari said that this information came to light when Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, minister of state for minority affairs replied to a question on the subject in Rajya Sabha on December 15. “The expenditure as of date under the scholarship budget is low i.e. Rs 37.08 crore only. This means that only around 2% of allocation for scholarships has been utilised,” a statement from the minority organization reads.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/50420248.cms

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Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini involves in abducting, raping teenage Muslim girls: Mushawerat (Jan 5, 2016, Ummid.com)

The All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella body of Indian Muslim organisations, in a shocking revelation has confirmed that BJP MP Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini is involved in abducting, raping and frocing the teenaged Muslims girls to live with Hindu boys.

After a visit to Kushinagar district in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the renowned Muslim organisation has asked the state government to take notice of these atrocities, send a high-level committee to the district to examine the situation, reassure its harassed Muslims and issue strict orders to the local police and administration to act impartially and in accordance with law.

“A team of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (AIMMM) found that reports of kidnappings of Muslim girls, sometimes as young as 12 years, are true. Many of such girls have vanished, some are known to be living with their Hindu “husbands” while some have succeeded to run away and return to their families”, the NGO said after visiting the district.…

http://ummid.com/news/2016/January/05.01.2016/yogi-adyanath-persecuting-muslims.html

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Dalit youths allege police torture in Bathinda village (Dec 30, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Three Dalit youth set free from illegal police detention on Tuesday following directions of a judicial magistrate have alleged that they were tortured in custody. However, the police have denied the allegations.

Showing their injury marks, the trio from Burj Kahan Singh Wala village, who had come for a medical examination at the Bathinda civil hospital, said they were beaten up with sticks in the Bhucho police post.

Father of one of the youths said his son Gurpreet Singh (17), Inderjit Singh (18) and Amritpal Singh (18) were picked by the police on December 27 around 4:30pm after they had a verbal spat with another group during a cricket tournament and were taken to the Bhucho police post. “We kept requesting the cops to register a case against the youths instead of keeping them in illegal custody, but in vain,” he alleged, adding that the youths were tortured at the behest of people of upper caste.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/dalit-youths-allege-police-torture-in-bathinda-village/story-49JL5Ot2fhWHEAkbx6XBuM.html

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Opinions and Editorials

Head to head with hate – By Mehdi Hasan (Dec 31, 2015, Indian Express)

“Anger and intolerance,” observed the greatest of Indians, Mohandas Gandhi, “are the enemies of correct understanding”. So what would the Mahatma say if he were alive today, in modern India, with his own Twitter account and Facebook page? What would he make of the anger and intolerance of the country’s right-wing internet trolls, long ago dubbed the “bhakts”, and condemned by the former Indian intelligence official B. Raman for their “abuse, vituperation, disinformation [and] character assassination”?

To witness from afar the angry antics of the bhakt army – or the Modi toadies to quote Salman Rushdie – is one thing; to be on the receiving end of their relentless hate and bile is another. Over the past three years, on my show, Head to Head, on Al Jazeera English, I have interviewed more than 30 high-profile guests from around the world, ranging from Israeli settler leader Dani Dayan to “New Atheist” scientist Richard Dawkins to the former Pakistani ISI chief Asad Durrani.

Yet never have I experienced the sort of backlash that I have had to endure online over the past few days, in the wake of my headline-grabbing interview with Ram Madhav, national general secretary of the BJP and former spokesperson for the RSS.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/ram-madhav-mehdi-hasan-al-jazeera/

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Is Modi’s India Moving From Democracy To Dictatorship? – By Parul Verma (Dec 31, 2015, Countercurrents)

In a political system that filters and denies the existence of basic human rights of speech, movement, biological functions (eating/sexuality), there lay a common man’s fear that becomes their psychological weapon and order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of annihilation, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of loss of property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of fear itself….It is not easy for a common man who is conditioned by fear to free himself from the enervating miasma of fear. This fear precisely becomes the psychological tool of a dictator to mass govern the population.…

Since the rise of the Modi government, the promotion of the right-wing Hindutva ideologies have escalated. The landslide use of power to promote the Hindutva religious ideologies by BJP (ruling Hindu national party) is plaguing the nation, at the cost of oppressing anything and everything that do not comply with their religious ideologies. The power play of the privileged religious ideologues over others is becoming a common phenomenon across India. Hindu religion being abused by the Hindutva to dictate its political power by paralyzing the minorities. The unconscious attempt of Hinduizing India has seeped the conscious and is very well being implemented.…

What needs to be questioned is power of the impunity. What is plaguing the nation is the power to abuse and the abuse of the power without the fear of its consequences (another symptomatic condition of a Dictatorship regime). The implementation of endorsing one privileged religion over another is an act of religious bigotry. If the condition is not intervened with just policies that operate with the zero-tolerance towards any civilian exgravating the communal riots, India shall foresee a tragic future.

http://www.countercurrents.org/verma311215.htm

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2015: The year India discovered intolerance – By Amrith Lal (Dec 31, 2015, Indian Express)

Early January, Tamil writer Perumal Murugan put up on his Facebook wall the first notice of a growing trend in India society. Pummelled to submission by caste groups who took exception to his treatment of social relations in his novel, Mathorubagan (One-part Woman), Murugan announced the death of his authorial self.…

A mute state administration had allowed voices of intolerance to successfully silence one of the most powerful writers in Tamil. Murugan’s retreat into silence was a powerful indictment of the civil and political society that failed to stand up for the rights of a writer. In his protest lay a warning: The barbarians are due here.

Over the next months, we saw them. Under many names, different banners. Emboldened by the advent of a friendly government at the Centre, they launched an ideological offensive against diversity in faith, tradition, texts, food and what not. With the political power won in 2014, culture became the battleground to shape Modi’s India.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/2015-the-year-india-discovered-intolerance/

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Freedom Of Dissent Vis-à-Vis Contempt Of Court – By Biswapriya Kanungo & Trijeeb Nanda (Dec 29, 2015, Countercurrents)

The initiation of criminal contempt proceeding vide an order dated 23rd December 2015 by an Hon’ble single judge bench of Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench, against Booker prize winning writer Arundhati Roy, has again evoked a debate on the laxmanrekha of both freedom of speech and expression and contempt power of the court in our democratic constitution.…

It is not in dispute that the court enjoys ‘Contempt Power’. At the same time, a citizen has a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a), i.e., freedom of speech and expression, which is subject to only “reasonable restrictions” as provided under Art.19 (2) of the constitution of India. In the instant case, the hon’ble single judge bench, did not dispute the issue of parity which was raised by Mrs. Roy in her article published in the “Outlook”. The author with her lucid writing method cited some examples of bail of Babu Bajarangi who was convicted for life imprisonment for his conspiratory role in 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre in which 97 people were murdered, was released on bail for an urgent eye-operation.

Another convict Maya Kodananai, a former minister of the then Modi government in Gujarat, was convicted as a kingpin in Naroda Patiya massacre and sentenced to 28 years imprisonment, but her sentence was suspended. The author in her article also raised the matter of Amit Shah, the then minister of Gujarat in Modi Government, who was accused in a ‘fake encounter’, in which three persons were brutally murdered. Here, it’s pertinent to note that the accusation against Amit Shah was punishable with death; whereas accusation against Dr. Saibaba is not punishable with death.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/nanda291215.htm

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A disaster for democracy – By Jayati Ghosh (Jan 8, 2016, Frontline)

The recent Supreme Court ruling in Rajbala and Others vs the State of Haryana, by a two-judge bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre, must rank as one of the most retrograde judgments in the history of that august court. It dismissed the challenge to the constitutionality of the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act of 2015.

In effect, it can be interpreted as a direct attack on democracy, with extremely adverse implications for the process of making our political system more inclusive, accountable and representative. Indeed, it goes against the very spirit of the Constitution and the founding vision of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, ironically the man whom the Central government has belatedly chosen to honour.…

These are extremely serious issues for anyone concerned with the fate of Indian democracy. The necessity of an appeal against this judgment and consideration by a full bench of the Supreme Court is obvious. But if even the Supreme Court fails to uphold the spirit of the Constitution, it is important for people across the country to mobilise themselves for legislative changes that will prevent such attempts at elite control.

http://www.frontline.in/columns/Jayati_Ghosh/a-disaster-for-democracy/article8018058.ece

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On the Question of Backwardness – By Satish Kumar (Jan 2, 2016, EPW)

The demand of the Patels or the Patidar community of Gujarat for inclusion in the list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) is a potential threat to the constitutional basis of identifying a group/class as “backward” – a classification that leads to a community being included in the appropriate beneficiary list. Widespread and virulent public agitation with anti-reservation slogans is not a new phenomenon in India.…

Given the publicly known fact that the Patels of Gujarat are a politically and economically powerful community, their demand for inclusion in the list of OBCs requires careful examination of the criteria of identifying backwardness. The proclamation of the Patel community about its backwardness, and its demand – that has taken coercive proportions – to be counted among the socially and economically weaker communities in Gujarat challenges the very foundation of the reservation policy: the criteria for identification of backwardness. …

The present movement is just an indication of the potent anti-reservation agitation and the perceived feeling of reverse discrimination. It does, however, signal the dearth of sustainable livelihood opportunities and the failure of the government to create adequate employment opportunities for all citizens.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/1/commentary/question-backwardness.html

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