IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 4th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Slamming NIA for not probing her role, court rejects Sadhvi Pragya’s bail plea (Jun 29, 2016, Indian Express)

Coming down heavily on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for not investigating the role of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case and recording again the statements of witnesses recorded by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), a special court Tuesday observed there were reasonable grounds to believe that the charges against her were prima facie true and rejected her bail plea.…

On Tuesday, Special Judge S D Tekale said Sadhvi Pragya “cannot avoid her connection with the motorcycle” registered in her name and used in the blast. The NIA and the ATS both agreed that the LML Freedom motorcycle used in the blast was registered in her name. But in its supplementary chargesheet on May 13, the NIA said the motorcycle was in the possession of absconding accused Ramchandra Kalsangra, and was being used by him long before the blast.

The court ruled that at this prima facie stage, the fact of the ownership of the motorcycle cannot be ignored. According to the order, a witness statement shows that Sadhvi Pragya knew of Kalsangra’s role in the blast. “…applicant made inquiry with Ramji as to how there were less casualties though her vehicle was used for causing blast and then Ramji said the reason.” This, the judge said, was evidence of Thakur’s “complicity” with Kalsangra in executing the blast.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/special-court-questions-nia-clean-chit-to-sadhvi-pragya-rejects-her-bail-application-2882111/

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Samjhauta train blasts: NIA opposes bail of bomb planter (Jul 5, 2016, Indian Express)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Monday opposed the bail application moved by Lokesh Sharma who allegedly planted bombs in the 2007 Samjhauta Express train bomb blasts case. “In view of the gravity of the offence, i.e. bomb blasts in the Samjhauta Express train, in which 68 persons got killed, three accused still absconding and the role and complicity of Lokesh Sharma, the application for bail may be dismissed in the interest of justice,” the NIA has submitted before the special NIA court at Panchkula.

The court was informed that during the investigation it has been revealed that the criminal conspiracy to set off blast in the Samjhauta Express train by planting IEDs/bombs was hatched and executed by a group of accused persons including the appellant, Lokesh Sharma.…

Sharma along with other three accused, namely Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Kamal Chauhan and Rajender Choudhary, are confined in Ambala central jail. One accused Sunil Joshi is dead and other three, namely Ramchander Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange and Ramesh Venkat Mahalar alias Amit are still at large.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/samjhauta-train-blasts-nia-opposes-bail-of-bomb-planter-2894329/

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Post Godhra riots: Seven convicted for murder by Gujarat High Court (Jun 28, 2016, DNA India)

Overturning a trial court judgement, the Gujarat High Court has convicted seven persons for murder in a 2002 post-Godhra riots case in Viramgam town in the district.

The court has asked the seven who have been convicted for murder to appear before it on July 25, when it will pronounce the quantum of sentence to them. There were total 10 accused in the Viramgam town riot case, out of which the trial court had in 2011 convicted two for murder, four of lesser offences while four others were acquitted.

The High Court also upheld the trial court order convicting two on charges of murder and acquitted another accused Devabhai Samatbhai Bharwad. With this ruling, a division bench of Justice Harsh Devani and Justice Biren Vaishnav, in a judgement on Monday, has convicted a total of nine persons for murder and acquitted one in the riot case where three people were killed in Viramgam. The court will pass order on their quantum of sentence on July 25.…

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-post-godhra-riots-seven-convicted-convicted-for-murder-by-gujarat-high-court-2229038

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Academics, activists see Hindutva stamp in uniform civil code move (Jul 3, 2016, New Indian Express)

Academicians, religious scholars and advocates from the city are sceptical over the implementation of Uniform Civil Code by the Centre. Noted academician Prof Kancha Illaiah of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has opined that irrespective of religion, every individual should marry through a legal system and should get a certificate for that.…

However, he does not support the BJP’s Uniform Civil Code. “There are many civil codes. Even Ambedkar wanted to bring Hindu Code bill. The present Uniform Civil Code is BJP’s Hindutva agenda and is not acceptable. The way it deals with the Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities and issues of priest marriages and child marriages is not clear. It would not be easy for them to push their Uniform Civil Code as religious minorities would definitely oppose it,” he opined.

Echoing Prof Kancha Illaiah’s assesment, Haafiz Hassan bin Ahmed Shakir, president of Al Faizan Educational Society in Barkas, said, “We have always believed in the diversity of India. We have obeyed what India has asked us to. That does not give any government which comes for only five years the right to intervene in our religious matters, which has been carried on by the orders of Prophet Mohammed PBUH and is universal for all Muslims of the world irrespective of their nationality.”…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/Academics-activists-see-Hindutva-stamp-in-uniform-civil-code-move/2016/07/03/article3511562.ece

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‘Muslim-hater’ among 3 held for Quran sacrilege at Malerkotla (Jun 28, 2016, Hindustan Times)

A businessman who is known to be a Pakistan-basher is among three men under arrest on the charges of burning Islamic holy book Quran at Malerkotla, which sparked violence in Punjab’s only Muslim-dominated town on June 24. Police say the trio wanted to start a communal riot for “avenging” the Gurdaspur and Pathankot terror attacks by Pakistani intruders in July 2015 and this January 2, respectively.

Main accused Vijay Kumar of Jind in Haryana is Canada-returned and his alleged accomplices Nand Kishore Goldy and his son, Gaurav, are from Begowal village in Taragarh area of Pathankot district. “Vijay is a self-styled radical activist not affiliated with any Hindu group as such,” said Patiala range inspector general of police Paramraj Singh Urmranangal.

Vijay is claimed to have been behind similar violence at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. “He is full of fundamentalist opinion and spite for Muslims. A bachelor, now based at Palm Colony in Delhi, he has made a lot of money in the bio-fertiliser business, of which he has nearly 150 agencies in Punjab and Haryana. We are looking deeper into his background,” said the IG. Vijay also faces criminal charges of cheating his business agents.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/muslim-hating-businessman-among-3-held-for-quran-sacrilege-at-malerkotla-wanted-to-start-riot-avenge-pathankot-dinanagar-terror-attacks-by-pak-intruders/story-I476

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Vigilante cow protection groups must be brought to justice (Jul 1, 2016, Amnesty)

State governments must investigate and bring to trial members of ‘cow protection’ groups who intimidate, harass or attack people in the name of upholding the law, Amnesty International India said today.

On 10 June, members of a local ‘gau rakshak’ (cow protection) group near Faridabad, Haryana, forced two men, who they suspected were beef transporters, to eat a concoction containing cow dung and cow urine. A video of the incident was circulated on social media, which also appears to show that the men had been beaten. The state police have arrested the two men, but have not taken any action against the members of the cow protection group. The killing of cows is banned in Haryana and many other Indian states.…

“It is the duty of the state – and not vigilante groups – to enforce the law. The silence, and at times encouragement, of public officials only emboldens these groups.”… “Many of those targeted by cow vigilante groups are Muslim men. State governments must condemn these incidents, and prosecute self-appointed vigilantes who take the law into their hands. Anti-cow killing laws must not be used to justify attacks on members of religious minority groups. These are criminal acts and they should be treated accordingly.” said Abhirr V P.

https://www.amnesty.org.in/show/news/vigilante-cow-protection-groups-must-be-brought-to-justice

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Modi Govt is after Indian Muslims’ Newspaper Milli Gazette (Jul 3, 2016, Milli Gazette)

…since 12 March this year, we are facing an existential threat from the Modi government following our publication of a report on discrimination against Muslims in the Ayush ministry recruitments based on an RTI reply which the said ministry denied. It could have sent a rejoinder or, at worst, could have complained to the concerned regulatory authority, the Press Council of India in case we refused to publish its rejoinder. We were all-along ready to publish a rejoinder, statement or clarification should the ministry send it to us.

Instead, it chose to file a police complaint. As a result, the journalist (Pushp Sharma), who wrote that story, was mercilessly interrogated for days and later arrested and jailed for around two weeks. Now he is out on bail while the case takes its normal slow course in courts.

Soon, on 21 April, the Press Council of India took suo motu cognisance and opened a case against The Milli Gazette. This action was unprecedented as an authority supposedly created to protect the freedom of Press, was in fact throttling that same cherished freedom.… A third bolt came from the Delhi Police (directly controlled by the Union Home Ministry) when DCP Licensing wrote to us on 30 May as to why our newspaper declaration should not be cancelled. Cancellation of the declaration means the newspaper will become illegal.… This three-pronged attack on MG simply shows the desperation of the Modi government to silence this little nagging bird.…

http://www.milligazette.com/news/14437-modi-govt-is-after-indian-muslims-milli-gazette

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In Gujarat, many in Class X don’t know shape of triangle, but got 90% in maths objectives (Jun 30, 2016, Indian Express)

They could not tell a triangle from a circle. One of them said a trikon (triangle) has four sides and another student could not point out set two integers on a line bar, while many of them failed to solve two-digit multiplication and subtraction. Some appeared honest and wrote avadtu nathi (do not know) on their answer sheets.

All these 500 Class X students, who gave the these answers to basic questions during a hearing session Tuesday on suspected cases of copying at the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) headquarters here, had scored more than 80 per cent – a few even scoring 90-95 per cent – in the objective section (50 per cent of the total marks) of their mathematics paper in the board exams, results of which were announced on May 24. Also, all these students scored zero in the subjective section.…

Also, all of them were from secondary grant-in-aid schools that reflected “improved” results when compared to last year’s performance. Improvement in results made these schools eligible for a proportionately higher grant.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/education/in-gujarat-many-in-class-x-dont-know-shape-of-triangle-but-got-90-in-maths-objectives-2884686/

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Saffronisation Creeping in Bengal Through Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra (Jul 2, 2016, The Quint)

…Anti-establishment politics is the new norm. This international wave of populism – that is, politics for the people – demands a change to the status quo. Traditional avenues of representation have failed to produce transparent outcomes. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that West Bengal is also a breeding ground for the right-wing Hindutva movement.

We are witnessing a growing number of right-wing schools in the state run byVanvasi Kalyan Kendra (VKK) and Ekal Vidyalaya. These organisations operate under the BJP’s wider network of affiliates within the Sangh Parivar, promoting Hindutva through educational initiatives.

Such schools push an agenda that glorifies a nostalgic Vedic past, where Hindustan is an exemplar of superior civilisation. This amnestic reading neglects India’s rich pluralistic society that is otherwise categorised as an ‘invasion’, ‘barbarian’, or as the BJP euphemistically puts it, ‘a crisis’.…

http://www.thequint.com/blogs/2016/07/02/saffronisation-creeping-in-bengal-through-vanvasi-kalyan-kendra-bjp-mamata-banerjee-hrd-ministry

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Shivamogga village tense as protest erupts over Dalit’s cremation (Jul 1, 2016, The Hindu)

Tension prevailed in Sugur village near here on Thursday as the Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) members staged a protest over the refusal to allow a Dalit to be cremated on the land allotted by the district administration as a cremation ground.

Police personnel were deployed in large numbers in the village, and particularly around the disputed land, to prevent any untoward incident. Shivamogga tahsildar Satyanarayan visited the spot and held discussions with both groups.

In April, the district administration had sanctioned 32 guntas of gomala land on the outskirts of Sugur to develop a cremation ground. But those who were engaged in cultivation of this land brought an injunction order against outsiders entering the land.…

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/shivamogga-village-tense-as-protest-erupts-over-dalits-cremation/article8795218.ece

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Opinions and Editorials

Gulberg Society case: When justice chooses to be blind – and the victim gets blamed – By Harsh Mander (Jul 7, 2016, Scroll.in)

…Today, 14 years have passed since Jafri, former Congress member of Parliament, was gruesomely murdered by a mob. Killed along with him were around 70 other women, children and men who had taken shelter… It has taken 14 years and an epic, spirited battle led by Jafri’s elderly widow, Zakia Jafri, for the court to pronounce its judgment on who are guilty for the second largest slaughter during the carnage that tore through the state of Gujarat in 2002. Zakia Jafri remains convinced that her husband died because of a conspiracy that went right to the top of the state administration, beginning with Chief Minister Narendra Modi, including senior ministers, police officers and leaders of organisations closely associated with the ruling party. The court, in its judgment running into more than 1,300 pages, disagreed. …

As a district officer, I have handled major communal massacres in 1984 and 1989, as well as studied many communal massacres of recent decades. I have no doubt that if the police administration is committed to controlling even the largest of communal conflagrations, it is entirely possible for them to accomplish this in a matter of a few hours. Their failure to do so reflects either criminal incompetence, or as is much more likely, their compliance with political directives from senior levels to allow the communal bloodletting to continue. Desai did what many judges, in courts and judicial commissions, have done before him: uncritically accepted the version of the police, and turned his face away from the criminal culpability of the police deploying the device of deliberate inaction.

Ehasan Jafri’s family was devastated by the court’s judgment. “This is not only a complete insult to the life, work and memory of my father Ehsan Jafri who worked and lived among his people,” Tanveer Jafri said in anguish, “but it makes a mockery of the sacrifice he gave of his life to save the life of others. What were the 24 police officers present doing for four hours – watching the show?” The judgement not only appeared to have ignored the violent build up but also seemed to have made some of the evidence stand on its head, he said. “We will soldier on till we get justice,” he added.…

http://scroll.in/article/811250/gulberg-society-case-when-justice-chooses-to-be-blind-and-the-victim-get-blamed

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Even Modi’s ‘biggest regret’ is misplaced – By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay (Jul 5, 2016, Dailyo.in)

What do you make of a prime minister who, more than two years into his job, declares that his biggest regret is that he has not been able to win over the section of media that was not supportive of his policies and vision prior to the parliamentary polls in 2014?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with select group of journalists on Monday (July 4), and also gave time to them individually for brief interactions. In this private round of exchange, when asked about his regrets, he told the Indian Express: “Before and during the parliamentary elections, there was a section of the media which strongly hoped that we would not win. My regret is that in the last two years, I have not been able to convince or persuade that section regarding our point of view. My challenge is to win over these sceptics, and persuade them of our sincerity and good intentions.”

Surely, there are many other issues that should have been a cause for distress, and regret, and the readers would be able to easily identify them. It would have done wonders for Modi’s image and would have enabled him to shed his partisan coating if he had said that his biggest disappointment was that a section of his own party leaders had not understood the responsibility that the majority bestowed on them and remained on the path of confrontation and promotion of social prejudices.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/narendra-modi-bjp-sangh-parivar-indian-media-hindutva-2014-lok-sabha-polls/story/1/11568.html

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How a ‘Muslim hater’ failed to instigate a communal riot in Malerkotla – By Aditya Menon (Jun 29, 2016, Catch News)

Vijay Kumar, a self-styled Hindu radical, allegedly tried to instigate a communal riot in Punjab’s Malerkotla by burning the Holy Quran on the night of 24 June. One of his alleged accomplices, Nand Kishore Goldy, happens to be the general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Punjab unit.…

“In custody, he is talking nonsense such as Muslims are going to overpower India and their population is going to explode. He even administers a Pakistan-bashing WhatsApp group.” He is also said to have tried to instigate violence in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, using similar methods.

The police has arrested two other men – Nand Kishore Goldy and his son Gaurav – reportedly Vijay’s accomplices. They hail from Taragarh near Pathankot. The VHP held a press conference on Wednesday and admitted that Goldy is the general secretary of their Punjab unit.… Goldy’s son Gaurav is an employee of Vijay Kumar.… Vijay and his accomplices may have failed to instigate a riot in Malerkotla, but the political tussle in the city has just begun.

http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/how-a-muslim-hater-failed-to-instigate-a-communal-riot-in-malerkotla-1467215407.html/fullview

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Modi’s Cabinet reshuffle: What about minimum government, maximum governance? – By Apoorva Pathak (Jul 5, 2016, Dailyo.in)

The cabinet reshuffle that kept the rumour mills churning has finally taken place. With 19 new inductees and five resignations from the council of ministers, India now boasts of a jumbo council. The impression that this cabinet reshuffle is a big disappointment is hard to shake for the following reasons:

The message that emerges clearly from the reshuffle is that we have been dragged back to the days of jumbo councils of ministers. When the prime minister was sworn in, the relatively small council of 45 was trumpeted as a big reform by Narendra Modi as a commitment to small government.

To put things in perspective, while Manmohan Singh led a 67-member council of ministers in his first term, his team increased to 78 during his second term. But with the size of the council now increased to 78 – the maximum it could have been is 82 – all hopes of minimum government and maximum governance has been dashed.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/cabinet-reshuffle-narendra-modi-bjp-piyush-goyal-smriti-irani-sadananda-gowda/story/1/11570.html

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Why common personal law? – By P B Sawant (Jul 2, 2016, Indian Express)

There is a good deal of misunderstanding about the subject itself, which is aggravated by the language of Article 44 of the Constitution. Most people believe that we do not have common civil laws in this country. The reality is, all civil laws are common, except one law, namely the personal law which varies with the religious groups.

The personal law relates to marriage, divorce, succession and inheritance, maintenance, custody of children and adoption. By tradition, the personal law is treated as religious, though religion has nothing to do with it. It is interesting to note that the Hindus, who are clamouring for the common civil law, had themselves, led by iconic leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, claimed that the Hindu personal law was a religious law and had warned the then British regime not to interfere with it, when the minimum marriageable age of the female was sought to be raised from 10 to 12 years by a bill tabled by on January 9, 1891 by Sir Andrew Scoble in the then imperial legislature.…

It is therefore first necessary to correct or to read correctly, the language of Article 44, to mean that the direction is to secure a uniform “personal” law. Second, it must be borne in mind that Chapter IV of the Constitution which contains Article 44, is a chapter on Directive Principles of the Constitution. There are other more vitally important and crucial directive principles contained in the chapter which need to be implemented in the interests of all sections of the people and of the nation as a whole. But the Hindu fundamentalists do not even take cognisance of them.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/why-common-personal-law-sharia-triple-talaq-2888355/

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Modi government cancels Rs 200cr penalty: Achhe din for Adani only? – By Apoorva Pathak (Jul 3, 2016, Dailyo.in)

Fifty-five-year-old Gautam Adani is not just amongst the richest Indians – being the owner of Adani Group that among other things operates India’s largest private port and is India’s largest private electricity producer – but he is also perhaps the most powerful and politically influential man in the country. His rise has corresponded with that of Narendra Modi. Their cordial relation has come under much public scrutiny and yet it has flourished despite critical attacks from opposition. The mutually beneficial relation has again come under the scanner with the Business Standard reporting how Rs 200 crore fine on Adani has been withdrawn by the Prakash Javadekar-led environment ministry.

The decision raises many eyebrows about how Adani group has repeatedly been the beneficiary of government’s largesse due to his proximity to Modi. But before we discuss the various favours Adani has been bestowed, it’s imperative to discuss how he came to be the blue-eyed boy of Narendra Modi. Gautam Adani has a long history of being an ardent backer of Modi. But delving on the following instances can help cut the long story short and help us understand how Adani managed to get Modi’s confidence.

The time after 2002 Gujarat riots was among the most difficult in Modi’s career. His own party’s prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was preaching “raj dharma” to him; their were calls for his ouster and industrialists shunned him. After Modi was criticised by a group of industrialists belonging to CII, Adani created a rival body – Resurgent Group of Gujarat – in protest. Adani also was a key backer of the Vibrant Gujarat summits that were instrumental in creating the fandom around Gujarat Model that underscored Modi 2014 campaign. Adani invested with an open heart right in the aftermath of 2002 riots and thus helped in the arduous task of transforming Modi’s image. So as the man who stood by Modi when he was dubbed a pariah, Adani began what was to turn into a long and mutually beneficial relation for both Modi and himself.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/gautam-adani-narendra-modi-vibrant-gujarat-corruption-acche-din-mundra-project-sbi-coal-mining-chhattisgarh-tribal-rights-rs-200-crore/story/1/11531.html

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Book Review

Gujarat Files: Anatomy Of A Cover Up

Author: Rana Ayyub
Reviewed by: T Navin
Available at: Self-published; Publication: 2016; Pages: 204. http://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Gujarat Files: Anatomy Of A Cover Up (Jul 4, 2016, Countercurrents)

Gujarat post 2002 evokes different responses. There are voices which are extremely critical of Gujarat particularly the riots and some voices which completely justify the act. The critics point that it was dark a phase in the name of secularism in India, it is critiqued for its practice of politics of communal polarization, minority subjugation, mass murders and rapes in the name of religious subjugation and human rights violations by state supported communal violence. The extreme right which justifies the act (sometimes openly or in privacy) state that this was an act of ‘Hindu revenge’, ‘a reaction against an action’, ‘muslims deserving this’. While the secular and democratic voices critic the events, the fanatic right justify it on the grounds of establishing supremacy of majority religion over minority.

But within these two broad extremes, there are people who are less informed and provide benefit of doubt to the leaders of state government at those times for what happened in Gujarat. They believe that while what happened in Gujarat is condemnable, the state by itself cannot be blamed for the same. They also believe that similar communal incidents were anyhow brought under control after 2002. Moreover, Gujarat made rapid economic progress after this period and set up a model of development for others to follow. And hence past events should be forgotten. This view which appears apolitical can only lead to an acceptance of whatever happens whether it is just or right. This is because it does not question.

It is in this background, the book of Rana Ayub titled “Gujarat files: Anatomy of a cover up” becomes extremely relevant. This is based on a sting operation carried out by a bold and ideal female journalist during the period 2010-11 in Gujarat.… What she does as a result is startling. She meets the leading elite in Gujarat who had some connection with Gujarat 2002 or the encounter incidents that happened. She brings out a lot of data and facts related to the events in Gujarat post 2002.… This book is an essential reading for those who believe that critic of Gujarat is not fair and done by those who are opposed to Modi, RSS or BJP. It is also for those who believe that 2002 was just an aberration in which state had little control. It only convinces you that this was state sponsored act.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/07/04/gujarat-files-anatomy-of-a-cover-up/

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