IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 8th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

A Jain And A Muslim Family Break Bread And Barriers Together In Meerut (Jan 5, 2018, Huffington Post)

Uttar Pradesh – How does a “pure” vegetarian woman from the Jain community end up cooking in the kitchen belonging to a Muslim family where meat is prepared frequently?… Over several cups of tea, Jain recollected how at a time when Hindus and Muslims in Meerut engaged in rioting, he found the most precious friendship of his life – in a Muslim man.

Jain had always fancied himself as a ‘tough’ guy, a man of action. But in the summer of 1987, 31-year-old Jain, found himself helpless when he came face-to-face with a rioting mob. In the incident, which remains seared in his memory, Jain’s life was saved by his Muslim colleague.

It was an encounter that would leave him deeply introspective, questioning why so many in his community were hell-bent on typecasting Muslims as the “other,” perpetually maligning them for eating meat and sacrificing animals on Bakrid, demonizing them as a threat to their way of life.… Jain said, “I don’t know who is right or wrong but the fighting is pointless. Being friends is natural. It is making enemies that is unnatural.”


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Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details (Jan 3, 2018, The Tribune)

It was only last November that the UIDAI asserted that “Aadhaar data is fully safe and secure and there has been no data leak or breach at UIDAI.” Today, The Tribune “purchased” a service being offered by anonymous sellers over WhatsApp that provided unrestricted access to details for any of the more than 1 billion Aadhaar numbers created in India thus far.

It took just Rs 500, paid through Paytm, and 10 minutes in which an “agent” of the group running the racket created a “gateway” for this correspondent and gave a login ID and password. Lo and behold, you could enter any Aadhaar number in the portal, and instantly get all particulars that an individual may have submitted to the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), including name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email.

What is more, The Tribune team paid another Rs 300, for which the agent provided “software” that could facilitate the printing of the Aadhaar card after entering the Aadhaar number of any individual. When contacted, UIDAI officials in Chandigarh expressed shock over the full data being accessed, and admitted it seemed to be a major national security breach. They immediately took up the matter with the UIDAI technical consultants in Bangaluru.…



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Aadhaar data open for misuse and abuse, says whistleblower Edward Snowden (Jan 5, 2018, Hindustan Times)

A day after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) denied that there was any breach of the Aadhaar database, American whistleblower Edward Snowden said on Friday that the Aadhaar database conceived and introduced by the Indian government can also be misused and abused.

Retweeting CBS journalist Zack Whittaker’s response on a BuzzFeed report on the breach of Aadhaar database in India, Snowden said, “It is the natural tendency of government to desire perfect records of private lives. History shows that no matter the laws, the result is abuse.”

Whittaker had earlier said, “ICYMI. India has a national ID database with the private information of nearly 1.2 billion nationals. It’s reportedly been breached. Admin accounts can be made and access can be sold to the database, reports BuzzFeed.”…



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Dalit protests shake BJP’s fort as rise in casteism challenges party’s politics of Hindutva-laced nationalism (Jan 4, 2018, First Post)

…To understand how the political class keeps the tension simmering, consider the case of the Gurjars of Rajasthan and Patidars of Gujarat. When Gurjars, who are currently among the OBCs, took to the streets for their inclusion in STs in 2007-08, the BJP government led by Vasundhara Raje promised them five percent reservation as special backward classes. This solution was unviable from the very beginning because the promised quota exceeded the 50 percent ceiling that can’t be breached without the Supreme Court’s intervention.…

The BJP was hoping its Hindutva appeal will keep the agadas and pichhadas united. Emboldened by the outcome in the 90s when it had countered Mandal effectively with Kamandal, it had hoped the bogey of political and socio-cultural domination of Muslims would keep the Hindutva forces under one tent. But, the developments in Gujarat and the clashes in Maharashtra show the communal glue is coming off. The caste fault lines are reappearing.

Since the BJP is in power, it is wary of the evolving situation. Its concerns were reflected in the ongoing RSS conclave at Ujjain on Tuesday when Mohan Bhagwat talked at length about bringing the Dalits under the Hindutva fold by having a quota for them within the Sangh. (Imagine the worry lines when an outfit that always opposed quota argues for reservation within the organisation!) The BJP knows mobilisation of Dalits, minorities and liberals could pose an electoral threat in 2019.…



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Yogi Adityanath government’s gift to Yogi Adityanath: Governor okays bill to withdraw case – 5 things to know (Jan 8, 2018, Financial Express)

A bill allowing the withdrawal of cases, including against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, got the assent of state’s governor Ram Naik on Monday. The law allows the withdrawal of around 20,000 “politically-motivated” cases that were filed across the state over protest demonstrations. One such case was also filed against Adityanath and others. Here are five things you need to know about the bill and the cases:

The case against CM Adityanath and a dozen others was filed for holding a meeting in alleged violation of prohibitory orders over 22 years ago. While Yogi Adityanath, who also holds the home portfolio in UP, was named in the case, Union Minister Shiv Pratap Shukla, BJP MLA Sheetal Pandey, and 10 others were respondents in the case that was filed at Gorakhpur’s Pipiganj police station on May 27, 1995.

Gorakhpur has been Adityanath’s home turf. He represented the constituency in Lok Sabha for five terms before being appointed as the chief minister earlier this year. The case was filed because Adityanath, who was then the Gorakhpur MP, had allegedly made a hate speech following the killing of a Hindu youth in a clash between two groups during a Moharram procession. Adityanath was arrested and he had to spend 10 days in jail before being allowed to go out on bail.…



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Women protest against triple talaq Bill (Jan 7, 2018, The Hindu)

Opposing the triple talaq Bill, Muslim women protested against the Union government in Kalaburagi on Saturday.

They took out a march from Muslim Chowk and demonstrated at the Deputy Commissioners’ office. They said that the recently introduced Muslim Women (Protection of rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was defective and politically motivated and it would not protect the interests of Muslim women.

They also warned that any interference in All India Muslim Personal Law Board would not be tolerated. “The government cannot force Muslims to follow other communities in issues related to personal laws as it would amount to an infringement of their fundamental rights,” they added.



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BJP Candidate Greeted With Garland Of Shoes In Madhya Pradesh (Jan 8, 2018, NDTV)

A BJP candidate campaigning for the upcoming civic body elections in Madhya Pradesh was left embarrassed after he was greeted with garland of shoes while campaigning in Dhamnod, a town in Dhar district situated around 272 km from state capital Bhopal.

The incident took place on Sunday when Dinesh Sharma, the BJP candidate for Dhamnod Civic election, was campaigning door-to-door to seek votes for his party.…

Video shows Mr Sharma trying to move away when he is approached by a man with the garland of shoes, but he later lets him put it around his neck. The man who made him wear the garland says he wanted to highlight the acute water problem in the region.…



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India Muslim man beaten to death ‘over New Year music’ (Jan 2, 2018, BBC)

A Muslim has been beaten to death in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand after reportedly asking a group to stop playing loud music on New Year’s Day. The incident happened in Mandar, a town close to the state capital, Ranchi.

People blocked the national motorway on Tuesday to demand the arrest of suspects but the blockade was eventually cleared by police.… Waseem Ansari, 19, worked as a daily wage labourer in Pune and had returned to his village a couple of days ago.

Correspondents say there are fears that communal and religious divisions are widening in India, with minorities feeling they are not sufficiently protected.



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Two minor Muslim girls arrested in UP for cow slaughter (Jan 4, 2018, The Week)

In a shocking incident a few days before, police jailed two minor Muslim girls on charges of cow slaughter in Khatauli town of western Uttar Pradesh. The incident took place on December 29, when two girls, reportedly aged 12 and 16, were arrested by the police. Later, the police produced them in the court, claiming they were adults. The girls Sheeba and Shahiba are still in jail. The main accused Naseemuddin fled while his entire family was jailed.

Meanwhile the local corporator Haji Ajaj Ahamed claimed that the girls were minor as their parents got married in 2001. By that standard, the girls are minor and should have been sent to a juvenile home. He said that documents pertaining to their ages are being procured so that it could be proved in the court that they are minors. The locals are also trying to get the marriage certificates of these girls’ parents so that could have some more concrete proof.

Meanwhile, according to unconfirmed reports, the Aadhaar cards of the two girls show their dates of birth as 2005 and 2001 respectively. Another local Shadab Ahmed said the police were falsely trying to implicate the girls in this case by showing that they were not under-age.…



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India girls ‘attacked for meeting Muslim boys’ (Jan 3, 2018, BBC)

Two female students have been attacked by a group of men in the southern Indian city of Mangalore, reportedly for meeting up with two Muslim boys. The group of teenaged friends were in a theme park when they were assaulted.

Police told the BBC that they had arrested three men, who allegedly belonged to a right-wing group, and were looking for other suspects. The incident was caught on video and widely shared online, triggering outrage at so-called “moral policing”. One of the men is seen heckling the girls, even as they were being escorted out of the park by police.…

Police told the BBC that visitors at the park spotted the group of friends and then reported them to a right-wing fringe group, leading to members of the group showing up at the park and attacking them. The video shows the students being hit multiple times by the men, who also shouted at them, asking them to call their parents.…



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After escaping rape attempt, Faridabad Police make victim wait 7 hours in the freezing cold (Jan 7, 2018, India Today)

In a suspected case of human trafficking, the insensitivity of Faridabad Police left a 15-year-old girl shivering in the cold wave for more than seven hours on Friday night. Having escaped a rape attempt, she reached out to police, but the SHO did not reportedly pay any heed to her complaint and denied assistance. The police helpline number, 100, too was non-functional the entire day.…

The girl, who hails from Dinajpur district in West Bengal told Mail Today that she had eloped with a 17-year-old boy, who befriended her one year back.… Later, in Rahul’s absence, his uncle tried to rape her, she said. Horrified, the girl ran away from that place and managed to enter a gated colony.

She spent major part of Friday night in the market of Ashoka Enclave Part-III. In the early hours of Saturday, she reached Kanishka Residency where the security guard offered her a blanket. He informed the police after the girl narrated her ordeal. The SHO of Sarai Khawaja, instead of helping her, advised the security guard to throw her out of the colony.&hellip



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Opinions and Editorials

FIR against Tribune journalist is a serious loss of face for Modi government – By Rajeev Sharma (Jan 8, 2018, Dailyo.in)

The filing of a First Information Report (FIR) by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) against The Tribune reporter Rachna Khaira is sure to antagonise a lot of people. This is not something the Narendra Modi government can afford at a time when the entire political narrative is moving towards the 2019 general elections.

Apart from the known solid arguments that the move is like shooting the messenger and that the whistle-blower is getting penalised, the Modi government must keep in mind the public perception. On that count alone, PM Modi must intervene and ensure that this FIR is withdrawn.

What The Tribune has done is nothing but public service in the highest journalistic traditions. The newspaper’s report has merely warned the public – and the government, particularly the UIDAI – that their ambitious scheme has inherent flaws, technically as well as administratively. The newspaper only reignited privacy concerns around the world’s largest database of biometric details of a 1.19 billion residents in India and showed the mirror to the authorities.…



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The triple talaq bill is a distortion of the essence of the Supreme Court judgments – By Abhishek Singhvi (Jan 3, 2018, Hindustan Times)

… In criminalising triple talaq, is the present government misusing a judgment delivered to promote gender equality, for ulterior motives? Or is it guilty of gross overreach in legislating supposedly on the basis of the court’s judgement?…

What is crucial to note is that neither the majorities nor the dissent remotely contemplate, much less direct, the criminalisation of triple talaq. To use the judicial pronouncement as a carte blanche to enact an arbitrary punitive legislation would be a clear distortion of the essence of the Supreme Court judgements.… The Bill makes the classic mistake of treating every error, mistake or illegality as a crime, which it most assuredly is not, though the reverse is axiomatically true. We have very recently seen the disastrous consequences of the same conceptual confusion in the context of the 2G case.…

Good governance requires sobriety, restraint, balance and farsightedness. As regards criminalisation of triple talaq, the government of the day has to hearken back to those virtues instead of relying on brute majorities.



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What Hindutva leaders were trying to achieve with Bhima Koregaon violence – By Yashee (Jan 4, 2018, Dailyo.in)



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Handle with care – Editorial (Jan 3, 2018, India Express)

That 1.29 crore out of a total of 3.29 crore applicants did not find their names in the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam points to the enormity of the challenge the state is facing in identifying illegal migrants.

A massive bureaucratic exercise has been on in Assam since the Supreme Court ordered that the NRC, which the state government had prepared along with the national census in 1951, be updated and set December 31, 2017 as the deadline. The NRC is meant to decide who is a bona fide Indian citizen and those who fail to enlist in the register will be deemed illegal migrants.

The political consensus in the state is that the NRC is the best mechanism to separate the citizen from the illegal migrant. However, the large number of omissions in the register indicate that producing necessary papers and proving one’s citizenship in a country with an indifferent record of maintaining documents is not an easy task. The NRC draft, of course, will be revised through 2018, but it is anybody’s guess if the final document will satisfy everyone.…



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Introspection 2017: Speak Up Against Intimidating Language Of The Goons Masquerading As Political Activists – By Vidya Bhushan Rawat (Jan 1, 2018, Countercurrents)

As another year is coming to an end, we witnessed huge turmoil everywhere. The intimidation to dissenters continued while political opponents were targeted as usual by the Hindutva groups. Mob lynching and cow terrorism aggravated all over the country and as the state remained subdued and muted, the goons with political patronage had a field day during the year. Institutions continued to crumble as orthodox brahmanical political devotees were appointed as Directors and vice chancellors.

The worst part was that the fourth pillar of democracy, the media, surrendered absolutely and reached its nadir, much worse than what we could have witnessed during the infamous emergency. Now media has become a party to propaganda by the Hindutva hate groups where character assassination and intimidation is the way of life. The year began with the murder of Gauri Lankesh and continued with threat to the life of Prof Kancha Ilaiah…. Now, Dr Sujatha Surepally, who is a teacher in Satwahana University, Karimnagar has come under the target of the Sangh Parivar supported goons who have been abusing her on their Facebook page and threatening with dire consequences.…

In this year 2018, I would only request people not to make messiahs of persons whose rights are violated or those who face threat but stand with them as their right to speak and the least you could do is to express outrage against the vulgar language which the paid political goons are using against people like Sujatha. Today it is she, tomorrow it may be you or me if we are working for people’s right. Speak up before it is too late.



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On Caste and Identity Politics in Gujarat Elections – By Archana Prasad (Jan 7, 2018, Peoples Democracy)

The dust has settled on the Gujarat elections. The BJP has claimed that it has fought twenty two years anti-incumbency and won the elections because of its ‘politics of vikas’ versus the opposition’s ‘casteist politics’. In a post-election interview, the BJP president Amit Shah claimed that his 150+ mission had failed because of the “dirty and low level casteist politics of the Congress and its allies”. In doing so, Shah dismissed all the agitations that Gujarat has been facing for the last few years as “dirty low level politics”. But the advocates of this line should be aware of its skewed logic.

As analysis after analysis of the Gujarat elections showed, the BJP suffered some major setbacks in rural Gujarat; it also assumed that because of the work of the RSS amongst adivasis, the party swept the seats reserved for scheduled tribes. In fact one pre-election assessment even argued that the ‘dalits and adivasis’ would rescue and bolster the chances of the ruling dispensation. To this end, the BJP had shift its election discourse from questions of discrimination and rights to the questions of ‘patriotism’ and ‘Gujarati nationalism’, even alleging that the opposition was insulting the lower castes and the development that they had experienced.

However, these pronouncements and stances have only a hegemonic value as they ignore the complex ways in which the dalits and adivasis exercise their choices. This is largely because dalits and adivasis are not a homogeneous ‘votebank’ as they have been treated in election analysis.…



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