IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 27th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Irony of ironies: Judge afraid for her life after convicting Modi’s minister in Gujarat riots! (Jul 23, 2015, Daily Bhaskar)

Former judge Jyotsna Yagnik has accused the Gujarat government of turning a deaf ear to her requests to enhance her security. She has reportedly been receiving threats in the form of calls and letters. In August 2012, Yagnik, who was the judge of special trial court, had convicted 31 accused persons including BJP leader and former minister Mayaben Kodnani and a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Babu Bajrangi under the charges of criminal conspiracy for killing 97 people at Naroda Patiya area here.

“They (state government) have turned a deaf ear to my request. As it is said in court – status quo, so there is status quo,” Yagnik, who recently received threat calls and letters, said when queried on whether government has taken any action on her demand. Yagnik said she has been receiving threat calls and letters for a long time and repeatedly requested the state government to upgrade her security to “Z” level from the present “Y” level.

Yagnik also commented on the issue of some convicts approaching High Court judges when their appeals were pending. “When they (convicts of Naroda Patiya riot case) can approach the High Court judges, you people may imagine under what pressure, a trial court judge would have delivered the judgment,” she said.…

http://daily.bhaskar.com/news/NAT-TOP-riots-case-judge-in-gujarat-fears-for-her-security-5061514-NOR.html

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Teesta Setalvad accuses Modi govt of ‘vendetta’ to silence her (Jul 24, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Activist Teesta Setalvad, a long-time critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Gujarat riots 13 years ago, says an investigation into allegations she received illegal funding is a “vendetta” designed to silence her.

Setalvad told AFP she was being targeted by the government because of her fierce criticism of Modi following deadly violence in Gujarat in 2002 when he was the chief minister.

“It’s nothing short of a vendetta because even if it were to be seen as an offence, it’s an economic offence if at all, and it should be examined by the courts,” she said.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/teesta-setalvad-accuses-modi-govt-of-vendetta-to-silence-her/article1-1372637.aspx

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1500 ‘encounter’ deaths under glare (Jul 14, 2015, The Telegraph)

The Supreme Court today said it might order the CBI to probe as many as 1,500 extra-judicial killings carried out under a controversial law that gives security personnel sweeping powers, or refer them to trial courts under whose jurisdiction the alleged fake encounters took place.

All the alleged encounters took place in insurgency-affected Manipur, one of the states where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in force.

A three-member panel the top court had appointed had earlier submitted a preliminary report that said at least six of the cases it had taken up as a sample survey clearly indicated they were all staged.…

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150714/jsp/nation/story_31454.jsp

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Will perpetrators of Babri masjid demolition be hanged too, asks Owaisi (Jul 24, 2015, The Hindu)

Triggering controversy over capital punishment to Yakub Memon in Mumbai blasts case, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Friday sought to know whether the perpetrators of demolition of disputed structure in Ayodhya, communal riots of Mumbai and Gujarat and other such sensational cases would get a similar punishment.

“Why have not perpetrators of demolition of Babri Masjid been convicted and will they also be given capital punishment as that is the original sin?” the Hyderabad MP said while addressing a gathering here. Alleging that the recommendations of Sri Krishna Commission have been put in cold storage both by the BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP governments in Maharashtra, he wondered how many have been convicted in the Mumbai riots of December, 1992 and January, 1993. …

He claimed that the Narendra Modi government did not allow SIT investigating the case of Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi, convicted for life in a Gujarat riots case, to appeal and enhance it to death sentence. “Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi convicted to life for killing 97 Muslims were given conviction for life and Narender Modi’s government did not allow SIT investigating the case to appeal and enhance it to death. SIT dropped its plans for both Kodnani and Bajrangi,” he alleged.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/will-perpetrators-of-babri-masjid-demolition-be-hanged-too-asks-owaisi/article7460484.ece

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India Sees a Sharp Rise in Communal Violence in the First Five Months of 2015 (Jul 21, 2015, Time)

Incidents of communal violence in India rose by nearly a quarter in the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2014, the Economic Times reports. The newspaper, citing data from India’s Home Ministry, also reported a rise in deaths from communal violence, which rose from 26 between January and May 2014 to 43 over the same period this year.

Outbreaks of communal violence, meanwhile, rose from 232 during the first five months of 2014, when a Congress Party-led coalition government was in power in New Delhi, to 287 over the same period this year. The Congress Party–led administration was displaced in last year’s national elections in May by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party led by the country’s current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Overall, 2014 saw a decline in communal violence, with the number of incidents dropping to 644 from 823 the previous year. The number of related deaths also fell, declining to 95 in 2014 from 133 in 2013.…

http://time.com/3965515/india-communal-violence-rise/

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Video shows Rajasthan BJP MLA Shimla Bawri saying she gave money to journalists (Jul 22, 2015, Indian Express)

A BJP MLA from Rajasthan has reportedly claimed that she sent ‘envelopes’ containing cash to all journalists in her constituency before the 2013 Assembly polls. Anupgarh MLA Shimla Bawri reportedly made the revelation at a recent event organised by local journalists to honour her for facilitating allotment of plots of land for journalists in the district.

The video of her speech, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, shows the MLA saying she had sent “envelopes” containing cash to all journalists in the constituency. Three of the journalists returned the envelopes saying they would take the money from her after she won, she added.

The MLA went on to lament the “fall” in standards of journalism. When contacted, Bawri rubbished the allegations and said the video had been “edited” and doctored. She said she would raise the issue in the Assembly.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/video-shows-rajasthan-bjp-mla-saying-she-gave-money-to-journalists/

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SC upholds ban on hijab and long sleeves in pre-medical test (Jul 25, 2015, Times of India)

The Supreme Court on Friday firmly declined to entertain the trend of flaunting religious beliefs to seek immunity from dress code, asking three Muslim girls and little-known Students Islamic Organization of India to follow the code prescribed by CBSE for the All India Pre-Medical Test.

Buoyed by the Kerala high court’s recent order allowing two Muslim girls to wear head scarf during examination, SIOI and the students requested the SC to grant similar relaxation to all Muslim girls during AIPMT by permitting them to wear full-sleeved dress with head scarf.

Appearing for them, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde said, “It is a matter of religious belief. Muslim women and girls are required by religion to be attired in full-sleeve clothing and scarf whenever they appear in public. If the relaxation in dress code is not granted, these Muslim girls may have to drop out of the examination.”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48209334.cms

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UP beautification plan near Babri site irks Muslims (Jul 25, 2015, Times of India)

The Akhilesh government has chalked out an elaborate plan to improve amenities and beautify the areas around the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. However, even before the government can implement its plan, Muslims, particularly the litigants in the title suit, have opposed the proposal saying any maintenance activity at and around the disputed site would violate Supreme Court’s order for maintaining status quo and also hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.…

Opposing the proposal, Khaliq Ahmad Khan, nominee of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, one of the main litigants from the Muslim side in the Supreme Court, told TOI: “It is not a picnic spot. It is a disputed land and the title suit is sub-judice before the Supreme Court. There was a mosque before December 6,1992, which was pulled down unlawfully by a gathering of communal mob, so beautifying it will hurt the sentiments of Muslims worldwide. The government should only ensure the security of the site and not try to turn it into a tourist attraction.”

Senior lawyer and vice chairman of Babri Masjid Action Committee, Mushtaq Ahmad Siddiqi, said, “The Supreme Court in its order of March 30, 2003, has made it very clear that status quo would be maintained both on the disputed site and acquired land. So, why is the government so keen on beautifying such a disputed place?”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48209355.cms

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Asaram rape case: UP recommends CBI probe into witness murder (Jul 25, 2015, Indian Express)

Uttar Pradesh government on Friday recommended a CBI probe into the murder of Akhil Kumar Gupta, a key witness in a rape case against self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu. Gupta (38), who worked as a cook and personal aide of Asaram, was shot dead in Muzaffarnagar on January 11. “A CBI probe has been recommended to facilitate investigation into the murder of witness Akhil Gupta,” said Debashis Panda, principal secretary (Home) in Lucknow.

Muzaffarnagar resident Gupta was questioned by Gujarat Police in 2013 in connection with the alleged rape of two sisters in Surat, and had given a statement against Asaram. Both Asaram and his son have been booked in the case.

Gupta was the second witness to be killed after Amrut Prajapati who was shot dead in June 2014. Another witness Kripal Singh was killed earlier this month. Gupta’s wife Varsha, also a witness in the case, had written to the state government requesting for CBI probe.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/asaram-witness-murder-case-up-govt-recommends-cbi-probe-in-akhil-guptas-death/

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Dalit-upper caste brawl in Gujarat town off Ahmedabad: Police refuse protection to victims, says letter to CM (Jul 22, 2015, Counterview)

In a gruesome incident in a town situated situated just about 60 kilometres from one of India’s topmost business hubs, Ahmedabad, Dalits were badly beaten up, with authorities remaining “indifferent”. In a letter to Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, one of the members of the family which claimed to have become “victim” of the brawl caused by objections to occupying a public space for private function has complained that, despite strong plea, the Dalits were “refused” police protection.…

“The way to our house was totally blocked. There was no space for us to go out”, Chauhan said, adding, “When our family members requested them to remove the vehicles, first the upper castemen started abusing us, and when we objected to using such language, they badly beat three our family members, including my mother, Champaben.”

Suggesting that those who beat them up had strong political connections, as one of them was a local councillor of Viramgam municipality, Chauhan said, “They were around 200 to 250 persons, while we just just a handful. We phoned up the police from the spot, when they were beating us up, but nobody came to our rescue.”…

http://www.counterview.net/2015/07/dalit-upper-caste-brawl-in-gujarat-town.html

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Opinions and Editorials

Hindutva In Hurry – By Shamsul Islam (Jul 25, 2015, Countercurrents)

Political arm of the RSS, BJP could secure only 31% of the total votes polled in the 2014 parliamentary elections (if this percentage is analyzed in context of the total voters in the country this percentage would further drop down to less than 17 percent). This clearly showed that 69% of the Indians; 80% of whom were Hindus did not vote for BJP. However, overlooking this reality the masters of BJP; the RSS top brass boasted that BJP’s victory put “an end to 800 years of slavery” and by 2020 “entire country will be Hindu”. The VHP patron Ashok Singhal went to the extent of declaring that by “2030 the entire world will be Hindu”.

With this frame of mind RSS is getting more myopic and accelerated its game of turning a democratic-secular India into a Hindu theocratic polity. In fact, such over-bearing attitude may be the outcome of feeling of insecurity of the Hindutva leadership which knows that the Hindus of this country do not subscribe to their kind of theocratic politics and in the next elections they may be shown the door by the India electorate. After getting political power they seem to be in hurry and resorting to all kinds of tricks to capture national institutions specially belonging to the realms of art, culture and academia. This clique knows that time is running out fast and they need to bulldoze.

After appointing a twelfth class pass as HRD minister, the eminent national institutions have been brought under the clutches of RSS cadres. The Indian Council of Historical Research witnessed the appointment of Y Sudershan Rao, an old RSS cadre, a votary of ‘sanatan’ Hindu religion, as its chairperson. The National Book Trustwas given under the charge of Baldev Sharma, former editor of RSS Hindi mouthpiece Panchajanya. Lokesh Chandra was crowned as head of The Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Chandra while talking of Narendra Modi says: “Woh bhagwan ke avatar hain (He is reincarnation of God)”. He goes to the extent of claiming that Modi “from a practical point of view supersedes the Mahatma”. The list is endless but all have not succumbed to the Hindutva juggernaut.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/islam250715.htm

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Modi, Terrorism and Indian Muslims – By Irfan Engineer (Jul 21, 2015, Muslim Mirror)

In an interview to CNN’s Freed Zakaria ahead of his US visit, Prime Minister Modi said that Indian Muslims would live and die for India and would not want to do anything bad for India. (Express News Service, 2014).…

However, in the year 2001, Narendrea Modi had claimed, “All Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” (Varadarajan, 2002). Later the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi used this statement extensively in his subsequent election campaigns. Following the 2002 massacre of Muslims and sexual assaults on Muslim women in many districts of Gujarat, there was anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic frenzy being whipped up by Gujarati Media. Modi did nothing to assuage this frenzy.…

The massacre of Muslims in Gujarat was followed a gaurav yatra undertaken by Modi invoking “Gujarati pride”, which he claimed was hurt by the secularists who stigmatized all Gujaratis for the 2002 carnage. He would typically ask the people he was addressing – “Are you all murderers?” The next State Assembly elections after the riots were fought against not the opposition Congress Party, but “the Mian Musharraf” mentality of Muslims.… While Modi was the Chief Minister of the state, Gujarat Police gunned down several Muslims alleging them to be terrorists belonging to outfits across the border.… Prime Minister Modi is not offering any explanation as to which of his numerous assessments of Indian Muslims really represents his honest opinion? Or have his opinions changed? What new information he received which led to the change?…

http://muslimmirror.com/eng/modi-terrorism-and-indian-muslims/

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The missing conservative intellectuals – By G. Sampath (Jul 25, 2015, The Hindu)

The appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan – described by some sections of the media as a “C-lister” – to the chairmanship of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has once again raised questions about the scarcity of credible, right-wing intellectuals.

It is no secret that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has been struggling to find intellectuals to head various academic and cultural institutions. According to media reports, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had even set up an informal committee to come up with saffron-friendly candidates for some 680 positions. But it could come up with only 160 names. Even these 160 people, one presumes, included the likes of Mr. Chauhan…

None of these names has inspired much confidence in the constituencies these bodies serve. Many have charged the NDA with not just saffronising but also degrading the country’s premier institutions by appointing underqualified candidates to the post.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-missing-conservative-intellectuals/article7461274.ece

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Justice or vengeance? – By Lubhyathi Rangarajan (Jul 24, 2015, The Hindu)

There is a worrying certainty around the hanging of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, convicted for planning and executing the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. The Maharashtra government seems determined to execute him on July 30 despite several omissions on its part and constitutional options still remaining open for Memon. These concerns have gone unaddressed, given the obsession with both the manner in which Memon is likely to be executed and his demeanour on hearing his fate.…

In Memon’s case, the death warrant that was issued on April 30, 2015 scheduling his execution for July 30, 2015 was unnecessary and invalid in law. The Maharashtra government should have known that Memon still had the option of filing a curative petition. Before proceeding to execute an individual, it is the government’s obligation to ensure that all legal options have been explored. Moving for an execution in a clandestine manner, hoping that the prisoner would not exercise his constitutional options, reeks of vengeance. The fact that the Maharashtra government thought it fit not to give notice of the death warrant proceedings to Memon or his lawyers casts a serious shadow over the manner in which the government sought to proceed on the matter.…

Constitutional safeguards allow prisoners on death row, regardless of the offence they may have committed, to exhaust all legal remedies and to be spared hurried, arbitrary and secret executions. Yakub Memon cannot be denied the opportunity to exercise his legal options, and it would be a dangerous precedent to preclude him from doing so. The taking of life by the state must be subject to the highest levels of constitutional scrutiny. To deny someone fundamental rights on the basis of public demands for revenge would cast serious questions over our claim of being a modern constitutional democracy.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/yakub-memons-death-warrant-suffers-from-serious-constitutional-flaws/article7457166.ece

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Silencing Teesta Setalvad – By Julio Ribeiro (Jul 24, 2015, Indian Express)

The “caged parrot” that sings to its master’s tune is at it again. Twelve “parrots” searched Teesta Setalvad’s home and office in Mumbai for proof that she had used foreign donations to her NGO for private purposes. I would think that the CBI has weightier matters to deal with but Setalvad has offended those in power with her single-minded devotion to the cause of justice for Gujarat’s Muslims. If not for this intrepid woman, the injustices of Delhi 1984 would have been repeated in Gujarat.

Setalvad has fought the case almost single-handedly. I, for one, would not have had the patience and perseverance to fight for so many years through the maze of our judicial system. She kept vigil over grovelling police investigators, partisan prosecutors and timid adjudicators to finally force the system to convict a few of the murderers, including a minister in the state’s cabinet and a notorious thug of the extreme right. This required guts and determination that only she could muster.

The allegation that Setalvad has diverted funds supplied by the Ford Foundation for personal use has been summarily discarded by all who know her and her husband, Javed Anand. Both live simply and frugally, have no social life outside their one overarching interest of “communal harmony”, and have no taste at all for the good life. Setalvad hails from an old, respected Gujarati family settled in Mumbai for more than a century. Her family has a long tradition in the legal profession. Teesta was born with the proverbial silver spoon and could have lived a life of leisure, but instead chose to stand up and fight for causes. It is inconceivable that she could have misused any money she had sourced from foreign donors to sustain the work of her NGO. If the government wants to ferret out acts of non-compliance with the laws of the land it will be able to silence any citizen.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/silencing-teestathe-courts-must-step-in-when-governments-persecute-individuals-like-setalvad/

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Rot Runs Deeper In MP – By Ankush Vats (Aug 1, 2015, Tehelka)

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team is in Bhopal to probe the Vyapam scam, following the Supreme Court directive. The central investigative agency will look into the alleged rigging in Pre-Medical Test (pmt) and corrupt practices involved in offering government jobs across Madhya Pradesh. However, the improprieties are not limited to Vyapam examinations alone. Some of the accused involved in the Vyapam scam have also had a role to play in corruption at various levels in other government institutes as well.

It seems that an unholy nexus reigns supreme in the state that looks after all the recruitments and postings in colleges, bypassing all the eligibility norms. Sources tell Tehelka that the education mafia includes state government officials, local goons and governor’s office staff.

Few professors working with reputed engineering colleges tell Tehelka that most of the recruitments in government colleges at Madhya Pradesh (both central as well as state government) have been challenged in various courts. They (education mafia) recruit their own people, in return for a hefty sum (bribe). This is the case with most of the government colleges in the state.…

http://www.tehelka.com/2015/07/rot-runs-deeper-in-mp/

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