IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 6th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Narendra Modi’s US visa secure despite Gujarat riots guilty verdicts (Jun 2, 2016, The Guardian)

In 2005, Narendra Modi, leader of India’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and then chief minister of Gujarat, applied for a US visa. His request was turned down. Modi, notorious for his failure to halt Hindu riots in 2002 that killed about 1,000 Muslims and destroyed livelihoods and homes in Gujarat, was not welcome.

How times change. Next week, Modi – now India’s prime minister – will be feted at the White House by Barack Obama during a two-day official visit to Washington. He has also been invited to address a joint session of Congress, a sign of high favour, and will meet business leaders and CEOs.

Modi has never apologised nor expressed remorse for the Gujarat killings, nor did his state administration investigate them. That was left to others. On Thursday, one of several inquiries finally came to an end when a court found 24 people guilty in one of the worst single 2002 incidents: the hacking to death and burning of 69 Muslims in Ahmedabad.… Hindus bent on revenge rampaged through Muslim neighbourhoods, in some of India’s worst religious riots since independence. More than 100 people have already been convicted, including one of Modi’s former state ministers.…

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/02/narendra-modis-us-visa-secure-despite-gujarat-riots-guilty-verdicts

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U.S. senators attack India’s human rights record before Modi’s Capitol Hill address (Jun 1, 2016, Washington Post)

U.S. lawmakers have sharply criticized India’s human rights record ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to a joint meeting of Congress onJune 8. In a speech in New Delhi on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), the ranking minority-party member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on India to “do better” to address issues of violence against women, government corruption, extrajudicial killings, human trafficking and outdated anti-conversion laws that are still in use. “A country must respond to these challenges,” he said.

Cardin’s speech followed a contentious hearing last week on Capitol Hill, when Cardin, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) and other senators pressed a State Department official on India’s human rights issues, including human trafficking, its crackdown on nongovernmental organizations receiving foreign funding such as Greenpeace and the Ford Foundation, rising intolerance, and a recent decision to bar investigators from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from traveling to India.

Corker said in that hearing that the United States had not been “brutally honest” with India, while Kaine spoke of the several dozen artists and writers who had returned their national awards as a protest against intolerance after a Muslim man was beaten by a mob allegedly for eating beef.…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/01/u-s-senators-attack-indias-human-rights-record-before-modis-capitol-hill-address/

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Delhi’s Special Cell court discharges ‘Lashkar operative’ accused of facilitating infiltration, says no admissible evidence (Jun 7, 2016, Indian Express)

An alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative accused of facilitating infiltration of terrorists into India through the Indo-Nepal border has been discharged by a Special Cell court in Delhi, noting that there is no “admissible evidence” against him.

Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh granted relief to Uttar Pradesh resident Irfan Ahmed, who was alleged to be a close aide of LeT’s alleged bomb-maker Abdul Karim Tunda.… While the detailed judgment has not yet been released, advocate M S Khan, who represented Ahmed, said the court noted that the Special Cell of Delhi Police did not have any admissible evidence against the accused.…

“In the absence of any admissible evidence qua Irfan Ahmed, there is no material brought by the prosecution to substantiate the charge of criminal conspiracy on the basis of which any charge can be framed against him. For the reasons recorded above, the accused Irfan Ahmed is discharged,” the court said in the judgment issued on May 30.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/special-cell-court-in-delhi-discharges-lashkar-operative-accused-of-facilitating-infiltration-says-no-admissible-evidence-2838403/

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Inside a far-right Hindu ‘self defence’ training camp (Jun 2, 2016, BBC)

It is an extremely hot afternoon in Siddharth Nagar district where around 100 teenagers armed with wooden sticks and knives are practising how to “decimate any attacker” in a large, fortified school campus. Not very far from them, another group of around 50 youths are taking turns to squeeze past a ring of fire, some even getting bruised in the process.

Loud slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” (Long live Mother India) reverberate as a dozen of them start performing dangerous tricks with fire. About 100 guests, including women, who are watching the show from a distance, clap aggressively after every stunt. Although the activities being conducted here are more in line with what you would find at an army training programme, organisers insist that this is a “self-defence” camp for youth.

They are conducted by the Bajrang Dal, a militant Hindu organisation that traces its origins from the days of the infamous Babri Mosque demolition movement in the temple town of Ayodhya.… At least six week-long camps like this have been held in various cities across Uttar Pradesh in the past month. A team of trainers, who supervise these camps, say that this training is essential to ward off “the enemy”.…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36415080

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Who is Ram Vriksha Yadav and what is his role in Mathura violence? (Jun 3, 2016, Hindustan Times)

A day after violent clashes broke out in Mathura, killing 24 people, police are on the look-out for Ram Vriksha Yadav, the alleged mastermind behind the conflict. Trouble started on Thursday when police tried to evict close to 3,000 people from Jawahar Bagh park, two years after they had occupied the park in a prolonged sit-in, led by Yadav.

Police claimed they were fired upon, unprovoked, by the squatters and said they later found a cache of arms and spent bullets from AK-47 rifles. According to sources, Yadav and the security officer of the group, Chandan Gaur, fled with thousands of supporters amid the chaos.

Belonging to Raipur Baghpur village in Ghazipur, Yadav was associated with the Doordarshi party floated by spiritual leader Baba Jai Gurudev in 1980 in Ahmedabad.… However, Baba Jai Gurudev severed ties with him a few years before his death in 2012. “Baba received complaints against him and six others sometime in the mid 1990’s. He was told not to put on sack clothes and all ties with him were severed.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ram-vriksha-yadav-the-man-behind-the-mathura-clashes/story-tqi8bWTGwwnFrtm021ND8J.html

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Goa blast, Dabholkar murder linked? CBI lens on Sanathan Sanstha man (Jun 1, 2016, Times of India)

In what could link the Goa blasts of 2009 and the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013 in Pune, the CBI on Wednesday searched the residence of alleged Sanatan Sanstha member Sarang Akolkar, against whom a red corner notice was issued by Interpol in connection with the Goa blast case.

Officials said the two came under the scanner after the CBI found some “cyber forensic evidence” about their alleged role in Dabholkar’s murder. CBI sources said Akolkar’s residence in Pune and that of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member Virendrasing Tawde in Panvel near Mumbai were searched.

Sources said during probe in the Dabholkar case, continuing for the last two years, the agency had found some emails which were being analysed. During forensic analysis of these emails, the CBI found material which indicated that these could be linked to the murder case.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52543735.cms

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Mathura lab report on Dadri meat may deepen communal fault-lines in poll-bound UP (Jun 2, 2016, Indian Express)

Mathura-based forensic laboratory’s report has disclosed that the meat collected from the crime scene in Dadri where 50-year-old Akhlaq was allegedly lynched after the rumour that his family was consuming cow meat, was actually meat of cow or its progeny. The fresh disclosure may not affect the case of murder, but it has certainly heated the politics in the state which will go to polls in less than nine months.

On Wednesday, BJP MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath demanded that the financial assistance given to Akhlaq’s family should be taken back and they should be booked under Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act. He also demanded that the Hindu youths arrested in the case of Akhlaq’s murder should be released from the jail.

BJP which is hugely dependent on consolidation of Hindu votes to make an impact in the next year’s elections, especially in western UP, will definitely use the disclosure to their advantage, if not directly then through the hardliners like Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj and Sangeet Som.… The pro-Hindutva organisations could increase their anti-cow slaughter, anti-beef activities in the state.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/mathura-lab-report-on-dadri-meat-may-deepen-communal-fault-lines-in-poll-bound-up-2828893/

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10 students injured at Jaipur protest against ‘saffronisation’ of education (Jun 6, 2016, The Tribune)

At least 10 students affiliated to NSUI injured when police resorted to lathicharge to disperse protesters outside Rajasthan University’s main campus in Jaipur on Monday. The NSUI activists were protesting against alleged saffronisation of education and change in question paper pattern in examination by the BJP government.

One of the seriously injured students Deepak Dhindoria was admitted to the trauma ward of SMS hospital, while others were discharged after first-aid. The police have arrested 13 students, including NSUI president Satveer Choudhary and a girl, under Section 151 of the IPC.

Pradesh Congress Committee vice-president Archana Sharma condemned the police “highhandedness” and alleged that the BJP government wanted to crush students’ silent protest. She accused the state government of saffronising higher education by deleting references pertaining to former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and even Mahatma Gandhi from history books.…

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/10-students-injured-at-jaipur-protest-against-saffronisation-of-education/247614.html

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VHP volunteers asked to get ready for Ram Mandir (Jun 7, 2016, Hindustan Times)

Volunteers of rightwing groups are being asked to prepare themselves for the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya in the poll-bound state of Uttar Pradesh during a weapons training programme in Madhya Pradesh.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) made its intentions clear during the week-long training camp for its women activists saying they will have to “tackle any obstacle” during the construction of the temple in the communally sensitive state, where polls are slated for early 2017.

Durga Vahini volunteers, who are being trained on the outskirts of Madhya Pradesh’s capital city of Bhopal, learned to shoot guns and use cane sticks during the Shourya Prashikshan Shivir or Bravery Training Camp. VHP and aBajrang Dal activists also attended the camp.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/vhp-volunteers-asked-to-get-ready-for-ram-mandir/story-JRf7ivOxHYMdvvM2YddG3L.html

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Vadodara locality to the civic body: Don’t let Muslims here (Jun 2, 2016, Indian Express)

Residents of Kapurai – a neighbourhood in Vadodara where about 300 displaced families, mostly Muslims, are supposed to be relocated following the demolition of their homes in Suleiman Chawl – have written to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation protesting against the move. The letter states that allowing Muslims to move into the locality will “hamper the peace-loving nature here” as their “daily activity involves assaulting and abusing”.

Kapurai is located about a kilometre from Hanuman Tekri, where the Best Bakery outlet run by a Muslim family was set ablaze during the 2002 Gujarat riots, resulting in 14 deaths.

As many as 318 clustered homes in Suleiman Chawl were on Tuesday demolished as part of the VMC’s ‘Slum Free Vadodara’ drive. On Monday, the civic body had conducted a draw of lots to choose homes for 218 families, who would be relocated under the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) housing scheme.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/vadodara-locality-to-civic-body-dont-let-muslims-here-kapurai-2829764/

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Opinions and Editorials

Justice denied in Gulbarg society massacre: Will Modi ever face tough questions? – By Apoorva Pathak (Jun 4, 2016, Dailyo.in)

On the fateful day of February 28, a 72-year-old Indian Muslim’s fingers and legs were first chopped off and then he was burnt to death by a bloodthirsty mob, comprising mostly members of the Sangh Parivar. He was not the lone victim in the massacre that took place at the Gulbarg society.

Sixty nine Muslims were murdered with such heart-rending brutality that words fail to grasp the cruel proportion of the events that shamed the whole Indian republic. This 72-year-old, Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, was no ordinary man. Jafri was among the political stalwarts of Gujarat, having been an MP and one of the grand old party’s top leaders.…

If Modi was not informed throughout the day such gruesome lawlessness prevailed, it raises serious doubts about his governance credentials; it reveals the worth of someone who shirks responsibility and refuses to lead from the front when the situation so requires. And if he was informed (as claimed by the victims of the massacre), then the questions about Modi’s commitment to our constitutional values and his duty become even more questionable. Either way, Modi’s role in the whole episode raises serious questions, which have again been renewed as the memory of the massacre has been revived in the light of the judgment.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/gulbarg-society-massacre-2002-gujarat-riots-ehsan-jafri-zakia-jafri-indian-muslims/story/1/11013.html

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RSS Pracharak Sunil Joshi was “100%” Involved in Samjhauta Blasts: Former SIT Chief Rai – By Seema Mustafa (Jun 4, 2016, The Citizen)

“We had confirmed the involvement of the Sunil Joshi group in the Samjhauta explosion and the fact that no one from SIMI was involved,” was the categorical response of then Special Investigation Team chief, Vikash Narain Rai, an upright police officer who had been entrusted with the enquiry of the train explosion in 2007.

In an exclusive interview to The Citizen Rai – former Director General of Police (Law and Order), Haryana – spoke of the painstaking investigation, the non cooperation of agencies, and the fact that he and his team had zeroed in on Joshi and his group for planting the explosive that set the Samjhauta on fire. Joshi was a RSS pracharak and was killed in the winter of 2007 after the blasts by two men who are still absconding.

Rai who was contacted by News X for his views yesterday found that a 25 minute interview where he had stated the facts was not telecast by the channel that instead as clearly part of its official policy, targeted another police officer on the show to take forward the claim that Muslim and not Hindu groups were involved in this case. “It was totally insane, unbelievable,” he said.…

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/1/7875/RSS-Pracharak-Sunil-Joshi-was-a-100-Involved-in-Samjhauta-Blasts-Former-SIT-Chief-Rai

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BJP all set to polarise UP with Dadri lynching over ‘beef’ ahead of polls – By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay (Jun 7, 2016, Dailyo.in)

Beef is back in the political business in Uttar Pradesh and returns to the national stage as well. The police report that the sample of meat collected from Bisada village in Dadri on the day Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched belonged to “cow or its progeny” provided an opportunity to the Sangh Parivar to justify the horrific incident in September 2015. And they have seized it!

Union minister Sanjiv Balyan came up with an ingenuous argument last week while speaking at the Jan Darbar held in his home in a Muzaffarnagar village. He told the people who had gathered for the address that he holds, without fail, every week, that Mohammed Akhlaq “couldn’t have eaten the full cow all alone. The meat would have gone to 20 families there. It’s time to track them down and ensure justice is done to the other side.”

Forty eight hours after Balyan’s provocative utterance, a meeting of the panchayat of Bisada village was convened. The ultimatum served by leaders of the village, ably fronted by the local BJP leader, Sanjay Rana, that they will wait for just 20 days for the district administration to meet their demands.…The BJP knows that if it has to win UP, the cow must be milked. Since winning UP will be vital to Modi’s strategy in 2019, we can expect the rumblings to continue. The spotlight, like 2014, shall remain on western UP.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/sanjiv-balyan-up-polls-2017-dadri-lynching-akhlaq-beef-muzaffarnagar-riots/story/1/11061.html

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Why the BJP rewrites history – By Christophe Jaffrelot (Jun 7, 2016, Indian Express)

The rewriting of history textbooks is an old priority of the Hindu nationalist movement. In the 1970s, former Jana Sangh members in the Janata Party and the Morarji Desai government had asked for changes in text books.

In May 1977, Desai was presented a memorandum that sought the withdrawal of four history books – of which three were intended for use in teaching – from public circulation.… The memorandum criticised these works above all for not condemning forcefully enough certain Muslim rulers – including Aurangzeb – and emphasising that freedom struggle leaders such as Bala Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo were partly responsible for the antagonism between Hindus and Muslims.

However, the BJP succeeded in changing parts of textbooks in the state they formed a government in the 1990s. After BJP leader Keshubhai Patel took over as chief minister in 1995, the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks published a Class IX social studies textbook in which Muslims, Christians and Parsis were presented as “foreigners”.… What is at stake in history is an idea of the nation and a definition of citizenship.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/why-the-bjp-rewrites-history-textbooks-jawaharlal-nehru-aurangzeb-bala-gangadhar-tilak-aurobindo-2838231/

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Two Years of an Ambedkar Bhakt and the Plight of Dalits – By Anand Tultumbde (Jun 4, 2016, EPW)

Narendra Modi, the self-proclaimed Ambedkar bhakt, has completed two years of his boastful rule. Babasaheb Ambedkar, an iconoclast par excellence, was loath to having bhakts but with characteristic pragmatism, he might just have relented when a Prime Minister announced himself as his bhakt. Ambedkar had made a modest demand for Dalit representation in the state structure. He had hoped that such representatives would safeguard Dalit interests from the majority of the caste Hindus.…

The basic principle of “equality before law” in the Constitution, the single biggest constitutional solace for the poor and marginalised, has been almost dismantled as evidenced by the “clean chit” to the Hindutva criminals in Malegaon blast case.

Ban on beef eating, ghar wapsi, saffronisation of education, jingoist promotion of nationalism/patriotism and irrationality are directly detrimental to the Dalit interests. All these are effective reversals of all gains made by Dalits during the last century.… In these two years Modi has deprived Dalits and tribals of ‘13,370,127 crore and ‘5,689,940 crore from their legitimate share.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/23/margin-speak/two-years-ambedkar-bhakt-and-plight-dalits.html

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A Triumph Only On Television – By Badri Raina (Jun 2, 2016, Outlook)

The trick of the times, clearly, is to bloat the least of the BJP’s successes into an India-shaking phenomenon. Thus, does it matter that in Assam the Congress had been in government for 15 years and was by any reckoning due for rejection; never mind the fact that had that party borrowed an iota of the BJP’s cunning and struck what might have seemed alliances-waiting-to-be-made, it could well have got a fourth term in office?

Or does it matter that even now the Congress has a higher vote-share in Assam than the gloating BJP? Or that the BJP’s “triumph” owes less to itself and more to some borrowed help from other parties, chiefly the Congress itself?…

In the days to come, responsible citizens who worry about the state of the republic and the secular-democratic Constitution in selfless and non-partisan ways must ascribe to themselves the patriotic task of sifting truth from hype and the substantial from the ephemeral. As to the fortunes of particular political formations, history teaches us to read the democratic process in more sophisticated ways than Mr Amit Shah might want us to.

http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/a-triumph-only-on-television/296939

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Book Review

Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up

Author: Rana Ayyub
Reviewed by: M.R. Narayan Swamy
Available at: Self published, Pages: 204; Price: Rs 295. https://www.amazon.com
Review:
An explosion far bigger than Gujarat riots (Jun 4, 2016, Business Standard)

This is an explosive expose of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which rightly or wrongly made Narendra Modi a household name in India. The author is a young though proven and fearless journalist who posed as a filmmaker from the US to go undercover and interview the state’s top bureaucrats and police officials, both serving and retired, to prove for the first time on tape what was otherwise widely known: that the 2002 bloodbath was an orchestrated disaster.… Her only other companions were her hidden cameras – and a put on accent. Not realizing they were talking to a Tehelka journalist, everyone opened up – and the result is this gripping “Gujarat Files”.

G.L. Singhal, who headed the Gujarat ATS, told Rana Ayyub/Maithili Tyagi that all ministers in Gujarat were “rubber stamps” and all key decisions were taken by Chief Minister Modi “but he does not come in the picture directly. He gives orders to bureaucrats”. According to Singhal, “riots huey, Muslims ko maara, benefit liya.” (Riots took place, Muslims were killed, people benefitted.) Rajan Priyadarshi, another ex-ATS chief… who claimed the Gujarat government was “communal and corrupt” – said he was once asked to kill a man in custody but he refused. According to him, Ishrat Jehan was kept in illegal custody before she was killed in cold blood in June 2004 after being dubbed a terrorist out to kill Modi. And a minister frankly confessed to Priyadarshi that she was no terrorist.

Then Home Secretary Ashok Narayan recalled that several Gujarat ministers “were standing on the roads and inciting the crowds” during the 2002 riots and that top politicians got things done through “agents and agents and agents”. G.C. Raigar, who headed the Police Intelligence in 2002 and was later the Director General, accused Modi of reaping political benefit from the riots and “he is what he is today because of the riots”.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/an-explosion-far-bigger-than-gujarat-riots-book-review-116060400282_1.html

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