IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 5th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

How Gujarat Carnage of 2002 was a Product of Institutionalised Riot Systems (Mar 3, 2018, Sabrang India)

The Gujarat genocide of 2002 had been preceded by continuing series of violence against Muslims in several states. Gujarat police had reported earlier that between 1987 and 1991, 106 major incidents of communal violence had taken place in the state. From 1996 to 2000, 88 major and 125 relatively minor incidents of communal violence had occurred. The year 2002 alone witnessed 17 major incidents and 18 other incidents.

In Gujarat pogrom, over 2000 persons were killed, 150,000 people displaced and property worth over Rs. 11,000 crores destroyed. Political, police and administrative complicity, facilitation and participation by them, were prominent features of the pogrom. The story of how chief minister Modi remained indifferent during the Gujarat pogrom 2002 failing to discharge his Constitutional responsibilities, has been recorded by journalist Manoj Mitta (‘The fiction of fact finding: Modi and Godhra’, 2014).…

Both central and state governments in India, who share a responsibility, have failed to prevent and control communal riots.… The BJP, now the sole ruling party of India, has made enormous political and electoral gain from the massive religious mass mobilisation and violence during the 1990s and after. Since the 1980s incidents of Hindu-Muslim communal violence have been pogroms and organised massacres with large groups attacking the houses, properties and lives of small, isolated and previously identified members of the ‘other’ community, that is the minorities, mostly Muslims (Gyan Pandey, in Ranajit Guha, Subaltern Studies 1986-95).…



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Respond to RTI Activists’ Intervention in Modi Degree Case, HC Tells Delhi University (Mar 1, 2018, The Wire)

In a major leg up for the transparency movement, the Delhi high court has issued notice on the intervention filed by right to information (RTI) activists in the matter relating to information about students who graduated from Delhi University in 1978 – the year Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to have graduated, according to his election affidavit.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued the notice despite Delhi University, represented by additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, strongly opposing the request filed by Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and Amrita Johri from the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.

While Mehta insisted that RTI activists should not be allowed to intervene in the case, the counsel of the intervenors said this was an issue of grave public importance and that the interpretation by the court would have serious ramifications on the RTI regime in the country.…



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Car with BJP flag kills 9 children (Feb 25, 2018, The Telegraph)

At least nine children were crushed to death under the wheels of an SUV sporting a BJP flag that lost control outside their school on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur in Bihar on Saturday afternoon. The children – seven girls and two boys – were aged between seven and 11.

At least 10 students were injured in the accident that took place around 1.20pm outside the gates of the Government Middle School in Dharampur village, about 8km from Muzaffarpur town. The BJP denied any association with the purported owner of the car, which threw up the question how the party flag found itself on the vehicle. Since the BJP is sharing power in Bihar, the presence of a party flag has larger implications than just being a symbol of political allegiance.

SSP Vivek Kumar said registration papers found inside the car suggested the owner was Manoj Baitha, a resident of Belsand in Sitamarhi district. Political sources in Sitamarhi said they had heard of one Manoj Baitha who was a Dalit cell activist of the BJP. But BJP spokesperson Devesh Thakur said: “We don’t have any leader by that name associated with the party.”…



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BJP MLA Yogesh Tilekar’s brother booked for assault on woman and her son (Mar 2, 2018, Sakal Times)

Chetan Tilekar, the brother of BJP MLA Yogesh Tilekar, has been booked by officials of the Kondhwa police for assaulting a woman and her son. The incident occurred on Thursday at the accused’s home in Kondhwa.

The complainant, Seetabai Gite (40), a resident of Kondhwa, told the police that Chetan Tilekar assaulted her and her son Atul Gite after calling them to his place to sort out an issue between Atul and Tilekar’s driver.

Officials from Kondhwa police station said that Atul Gite and Chetan Tilkar’s driver were involved in a fight with each other on February 23. Tilekar then called Gite and his mother to his home on the pretext of calling for a truce, but then assaulted them when they reached the spot. The police have registered a case under relevant sections of the IPC against the accused.



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In Sohrabuddin Case, Lawyers’ Body Urges Court To Take Urgent “Remedial Measures” (Feb 28, 2018, NDTV)

A city-based lawyers’ body has written to the Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, asking her to take urgent “remedial measures” in view of the reassignment of the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case.

The Bombay Lawyers’ Association (BLA) sent the letter on the issue to the office of Acting Chief Justice V K Tahilramani. In the letter, the BLA said the recent change in assignments that resulted in transfer of the batch of petitions challenging the discharge of some senior IPS officers in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin to a new single-judge bench, sent out a “wrong signal” to the public.

The association has said such a change in assignment also undermines the faith of people in the judiciary, and urged Justice Tahilramani to take urgent “remedial measures so that justice is done”.…”It is necessary to point out that of the 38 accused in the encounter case, 15, including BJP president Amit Shah have been discharged. Out of the 42 witnesses examined so far, 34 have turned hostile,” the letter said.…



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Gauri killing: Man linked to right-wing outfit held in Bengaluru (Mar 3, 2018, Times of India)

In a major breakthrough in the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, the Special Investigation Team probing the murder took into custody 38-year-old Naveen Kumar T on Friday for allegedly taking the killer to the spot on his motorcycle.

A city sessions court later in the evening remanded Naveen Kumar T alias Hotte Manja, a resident of Maddur, Mandya district, and founder of a splinter unit of the Hindu Yuva Sena, to eight days in SIT custody.

The arrest came hours after some TOIeditions reported that SIT suspects Naveen of ferrying the killer on the night of September 5, 2017, to Gauri’s house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, southwest Bengaluru. SIT deputy chief M N Anucheth confirmed the arrest. “Since he’s a suspect, we’ve taken him into custody,” he said.…



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Prasar Bharati vs I&B again: Doordarshan says no to Rs 2.92 crore for private firm (Mar 2, 2018, Indian Express)

The faceoff between the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Prasar Bharati over the latter’s autonomy on hiring and firing has now spilled into financial matters.

Doordarshan (DD), under Prasar Bharati, has rejected repeated demands of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) – which falls under I&B Ministry – to pay Rs 2.92 crore as expenses to a Mumbai-based private firm that arranged for live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2017 International Film Festival of India.

Doordarshan claims there was “no rationale nor any precedent” to outsource the job since it had been doing this all these years and had the “in-house” capability to telecast the ceremonies live.…



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‘Mischief mongers’ spoil Holi as communal violence rocks Bengal’s North 24 Parganas (Mar 2, 2018, New Indian Express)

Communal violence rocked the Chaltaberia area of Duttapukur in North 24 Parganas district on Friday even as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee cautioned the police of “mischief mongers” during Holi.

Sources revealed that pieces of raw beef were allegedly thrown at a temple and some tea stalls in the area, following which an irate mob vandalised several mosques in the neighbouring area. Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel has now been deployed and Section 144 of CrPC imposed.…

On January 14, sources revealed, the same area witnessed a minor communal clash over the ownership of a 6-acre land. Police sources are currently investigating if the Holi violence has any connection to the previous skirmish.…



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PNB chief Sunil Mehta admits the collusion of employees in LoUs scam (Mar 3, 2018, Business Standard)

Punjab National Bank’s (PNB’s) managing director and chief executive, Sunil Mehta, admitted the collusion of employees in the letters of undertaking (LoUs) scam while being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday, according to sources.

Mehta’s statement was recorded by the probe agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, in connection with the case registered against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi in the Rs 127-billion fraud at the government-owned lender. Mehta was in the ED office at Ballard Pier here for nearly six hours. He was summoned soon after being questioned in the same matter by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

According to ED sources, he said the fraud took place due to “systemic failure” and “procedural lapses”, owing to lack of interface or proper links between the core banking software and the SWIFT interbank messaging system.…



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Whatever decision SC takes on Ayodhya, BJP, RSS will tear people apart: Arundhati Roy (Feb 27, 2018, Times of India)

It is the sad demise of love and gentleness – at the behest of skewed patriotism and extreme nationalism – that comes across as the most troubling feature of current times for writer-activist Arundhati Roy.

The very fundamentals of the country, she contended in an interview to IANS, are being broken down even as a “parallel state” has come to function alongside the ruling regime. The motive? “An ideological preparation to change the constitution”.

“There’s an aahat which I think many people are not hearing and something that is being very seriously silenced is that we are living in a situation in which your entire attention has to go on criminal emergencies – who is being lynched, who is being killed and so on – you don’t realise that behind each of those things, there’s a huge amount of fear and terror and huge communities are being pushed into these. I don’t think people in Urban India are aware of the agrarian crisis and the extent of it,” Roy said.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Why Prasar Bharati Continues to Remain Bereft of Real Power – By Abhinava Srivastava (Mar 5, 2018, The Wire)

By meddling time and again in the functioning of Prasar Bharati, India’s largest public broadcasting agency, the government seems determined to deny the institution its autonomy. As a result, the Prasar Bharati board repeatedly finds itself dragged into one controversy after another.

It’s not that governmental interference in the board’s internal functioning has been kept a closely guarded secret. But the information and broadcasting ministry’s (I&B) recent direction to the board to appoint a serving IAS officer as member (personnel) – even by measures of such open meddling – seems to be the first of its kind. Reportedly, the ministry has also sought to terminate the services of all contractual employees with immediate effect.

Interestingly, however, this time the board has mounted a strong opposition to this ministerial interference, citing section 6(7) of the Prasar Bharati Act which makes the member (personnel) a whole-time board employee, who is to be appointed by a committee on the recommendation of the vice-president of India.…



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When 9 children died after being run over by Bihar BJP leader – By Valson Thampu (Feb 28, 2018, Dailyo.in)

The BJP on February 26 suspended Manoj Baitha, the party member whose car allegedly mowed down nine children and injured several others in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district the past Saturday.

The children – six girls and three boys – were killed after Baitha’s SUV ran them over on National Highway 77 when they were on their way home from school. While the Opposition has gone to town over unconfirmed reports of Baitha being drunk at the time of the accident, two things are clear from the police’s version: he was in the car when it hit the children, he chose not to stop and help.…

The BJP had earlier tried to distance itself from Baitha, but as outrage grew, with family members of the victims staging protests and the police registering an FIR against him, the party announced his suspension.… The government, run by the BJP along with the JD(U), should make sure that Baitha is traced, and faces the due course of the law.…



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Extra-judicial killings mount in BJP-ruled India – By Abdus Sattar Ghazali (Mar 1, 2018, Milli Gazette)

The Uttar Pradesh (UP) state government of Yogi Adityanath continued allowing police encounters since BJP came to power in the state in March 2017, Caravan News of India reported Monday (Feb. 26, 2018).

In 10 months of its regime, the state police conducted 1038 encounters killing 32 alleged criminals, and the Yogi government has officially boasted of these killings. But families of many of the victims have come out alleging that their dear ones were killed in staged shootouts.

Investigative journalist Neha Dixit visited families of 14 of the people killed in the alleged encounters. Furquan was one of them. In her long piece published in The Wire, she wrote chilling graphic details about how Furquan and 13 others were separately gunned down, according to Caravan.…



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Does PM Modi really believe in what he said about ‘Islamic heritage’ of India? – By M Reyaz (Mar 2, 2018, Dailyo.in)

On Thursday (March 1), Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a conference on “Islamic Heritage: Promoting Understanding and Moderation” which was also attended by visiting King Abdullah II of Jordan.… “Pluralism is what makes India. Our diversity strengthens us. This is the land where people of various faiths and beliefs happily coexist, guided by universal values of harmony and togetherness,” Modi said, addressing the audience that comprised mostly Muslims of different sects, many of them clerics.…

But Modi government has largely failed to walk the talk as Muslims today feel more vulnerable than ever, due to rising hatred against them and communal polarisation. Hindutva leaders deliver hate speeches without any fear of law, while vigilante groups feel so emboldened that they themselves record videos of lynching they commit in the name of “gau-raksha” and “love-jihad”, and spew venom against one particular community before they share it on the social media.…

PM Modi has really come a long way from Gujarat where exactly 16 years ago under his watch, the state burnt after the Godhra train carnage. He had infamously refused to visit any of the camps where victims of riots are still living, or to rebuild dargah damaged in riot. … The PM Modi who wants to become a statesman is very different from the Modi speaking in political rallies to his core supporters wherein we see a reflection of the Hindutva ideology peddled by his parent organisation RSS.…



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Forget bringing black money back, Modi couldn’t even stop Nirav Modi from looting banks and fleeing – By Valson Thampu (Feb 26, 2018, Dailyo.in)

Vijay Mallya has been living life king-size – or what’s worse, Kingfisher size – for years, burning up taxpayers’ money. He exited Delhi, right under the nose of a very alert and watchful government despite the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had cast himself in the role of a “gate-keeper” of national wealth.… Lalit Modi had shown the way to Mallya. He proved how one could live in outlandish comfort, beyond the reach of the arm of law; especially if one had faithful and powerful friends.…

Now it’s Nirav Modi’s turn. He has made his two illustrious predecessors look pygmies in crime. Mallya, especially, may feel upstaged; for Nirav has gobbled up a larger piece of our resources than he dared to. Given his megalomania, he is not the one to enjoy being out-sized and outsmarted. The funniest thing is that while this happened, the government feigned ignorance. Like a naive maiden encountered only in fairy tales, it gets outwitted each time. It wakes up and springs into action only after the horses have gone past the stable.…

Modi, who promised to bring every rupee of overseas black money back home for the elevation all Indians, should at least have done all he could to ensure that this amount – already standing at a staggering Rs 90 lakh core – did not swell any further. Nirav Modi has replenished that stinking stock of stolen goods substantially. We find it difficult to believe that the flight of these mega robbers could not have been forestalled.…



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It’s High Time Gujarat Government Recognises the Communal Elephant in the Room – By Nidhi Tambi (Mar 1, 2018, The Wire)

It has been 16 years since the 2002 riots, which serves as a reminder to the Gujarat government for a policy overhaul if it sincerely wants to address the glaring demarcation and ghettoisation of the Muslim residents in the state.

Gujarat has residential areas demarcated for Hindus and Muslims. Within Ahmedabad, for instance, Muslim residential areas such as Juhapura and Jamalpur have clearly defined boundaries with other Hindu residential areas. I have witnessed this phenomenon as a child and an adult in this state through the lived experiences of Muslim friends. It is not uncommon in Gujarat for Muslim citizens to be denied a house in any of the Hindu dominated areas and the other way around.

One of the chief culprits of this blatant apartheid is the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991 or commonly called the ‘Disturbed Areas Act, 1991’. It is a law that restricts sale of immovable property in “disturbed” areas with the justification to avert an exodus or distress sales in neighbourhoods hit by inter-religious unrest in Gujarat.…



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