IAMC Weekly News Roundup – March 7th, 2016

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Sikh villagers build mosque for lone Muslim family (Mar 1, 2016, Times of India)

A small village in Jagraon has set an example of communal harmony, a Sikh majority village, with a lone Muslim family, has helped renovate an over century old mosque. The mosque in Malla village of Jagraon, around 45kms from the city, was inaugurated on Monday by the Shahi Imaam, Punjab, as villagers organised a special lunch.

Naib Shahi Imaam, Punjab, Muhammad UsmaanLudhianvi said, “The Malla village mosque was closed in 1947 after it’s run-down building collapsed. About six months ago, we approached the villagers, seeking their help to renovate it. Even as the village has just one Muslim family, the response had been overwhelming.”

Like the day when the renovation work had started, the Sikh villagers, on Monday, too organised langar(community kitchen). “Besides the fund contribution, the villagers actively participated in the construction work too. Such examples of communal harmony are not uncommon in Punjab,” Naib Shahi Imaam added as he inaugurated the mosque by offering prayers.”…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51208840.cms

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After Katheria, Another BJP MP Spews ‘Anti-Muslim’ Venom (Mar 2, 2016, New Indian Express)

In further embarrassment for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party MP from Karnataka has associated Islam with terrorism just days after the hate speech against the Muslim community by Minister of State for Human Resource and Development (HRD) Ram Shankar Katheria at a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) event in Agra.

“Till the time Islam exists in the world, no one can stop terrorism. If we want to keep a place like Bhatkal peaceful, then we should throw Islam away from this world and we should shut Islam,” BJP MP Ananth Kumar Hegde told a press conference.…

Meanwhile, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, commenting on the issue accused the BJP and RSS of harbouring plans to divide the country. While Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav demanded that Katheria be sacked, Congress leader Anand Sharma moved an adjournment notice in the Rajya Sabha on the matter.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/After-Katheria-Another-BJP-MP-Spews-Anti-Muslim- Venom/2016/03/02/article3306527.ece

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Former Judges, Jurists urge Supreme Court to Act Against Hate Speech (Mar 5, 2016, The Wire)

A group of former judges, IPS officers and jurists on Friday made a passionate plea to the Chief Justice of India and all the other judges of the Supreme Court of India, urging them to take suo motu constitutional action on the alarming and threatening statements being made by persons currently in powerful positions within the Union government.

In the letter, the signatories explain that the “distressing and hate-filled” sentiments that have been expressed appear to be part of a pattern.

After listing a number of incidents, the letter emphasises that because “it is the ruling party at the Centre and its representatives” that are stoking these dangerous sentiments, the Supreme Court must act urgently.…

http://thewire.in/2016/03/05/former-judges-jurists-urge-supreme-court-to-act-against- hate-speech-23827/

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India Denies Visa Request From Religious Freedom Monitoring Group (Mar 4, 2016, New York Times)

India has denied visas to a team from the United States government responsible for monitoring religious freedom, the group said in a statement this week. The organization, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, had planned a trip to India, scheduled to begin this week, to assess religious liberty in the country. But India has not issued visas to members of the commission, it said on Thursday.

Robert P. George, the group’s chairman, said that the team was “deeply disappointed” by the Indian government’s action.… India has had a checkered history with religious violence, and the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014 raised concerns about the potential for increased religious tensions.…

In a report published last year, the commission said that religiously motivated violent episodes reportedly increased for three consecutive years in India, and that the struggle to provide justice to victims “perpetuates a climate of impunity.”…

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/world/asia/india-religious-freedom-uscirf-visa- denied.html

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Mob vandalises Church in Chhattisgarh (Mar 6, 2016, Indian Express)

A group of more than 15 men allegedly vandalised a prayer hall that served as a church and manhandled the congregants inside at Kachna village on the outskirts of Raipur Sunday. The incident happened at the time a prayer meeting was in progress. Locals, who did not want to be identified, said the men came on motorcycles and shouted slogans like “Jai Shri Ram”, while alleging religious conversions.…

A case against unknown persons under sections 147 (rioting), 452 (house trespass after preparation for hurt), 295(defiling a place of worship) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) was registered. When The Indian Express visited the spot Sunday afternoon, the prayer hall was found locked. Locals refused to speak on record out of fear of implicating themselves. A resident of a village on the outskirts, however, said “many people came on bikes and shouted slogans” and “there was pandemonium until the police arrived”. Residents said every Sunday, Christians, “many from outside”, came to pray at the hall.…

But Arjun Pannalal of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum said police were trying to downplay the case. “When the group arrived on bikes, they were shouting slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and against conversion. They attacked people, including women, and broke fans, chairs and musical equipment. They fled when the police came. Yet, there was one praiseworthy thing about the police. When the DSP came, he asked everyone to continue their prayer first, saying that was most important,” he said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/bajrang-dal-men-allegedly-vandalised-church-in-chhattisgarh-five-injured/

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President snubs HRD ministry on AMU executive council picks (Mar 5, 2016, Hindustan Times)

President Pranab Mukherjee’s office has returned an HRD ministry file recommending candidates to fill a vacant seat on Aligarh Muslim University’s executive council and asked it to send more names, it is learnt.

The ministry recommended the names of India TV editor-in-chief Rajat Sharma and Vijay P Bhatkar, architect of India’s first supercomputer and president of Vijnana Bharati, an RSS-affiliated organisation involved with the Swadeshi Science movement, sources said.

In January, the President ignored the minister’s recommendation while appointing M Jagadesh Kumar as VC of Jawaharlal Nehru University, sources said.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/president-snubs-government-on-amu-exexutive-council-picks/story-a7yEpoOmAeMuMNMTUj5PxM.html

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Ishrat Jehan: ‘Brilliant Op’ But ‘Fake Encounter,’ Says Investigator Satish Verma (Mar 3, 2016, NDTV)

As controversy rages over the Ishrat Jehan case, a member of the CBI team that probed the encounter has finally broken his silence on the matter. Satish Verma, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, told NDTV that Ishrat, a 19-year-old college student, and the three men shot by Gujarat Police in Ahmedabad in June 2004 were killed in “cold blood”.…

The first affidavit says that Ishrat was a member of the LeT, based, amongst others, on newspaper reports which referred to her martyrdom being celebrated in the terror group’s official mouthpiece. Last month, terrorist David Coleman Headley, in his testimony to a Mumbai court, said that she was an LeT operative.

But Satish Verma said both sources were unreliable. “After very laborious investigations on the subject (by the CBI), there is no material to indicate that Ishrat could have been an LeT operative, much less a suicide bomber or a fidayeen.”

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/no-proof-ishrat-jehan-was-lashkar-operative-says-investigator-satish-verma-1283463

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Delhi court discharges alleged LeT operative Abdul Karim Tunda, three others (Mar 5, 2016, Indian Express)

Suspected LeT bomb expert Abdul Karim Tunda and three others, who were accused of helping Pakistani and Bangladeshi terrorists sneak into India in 1997 to carry out terror strikes, were today discharged in the case by a Delhi court which cited lack of evidence.…

It was the fourth and final case filed against him by Delhi Police in which Tunda has been discharged. Earlier, an Interpol Red Corner notice was issued against him in 1996.

Besides Tunda, who is currently in judicial custody in connection with terror-related cases, the court also discharged his father-in-law Mohd Zakaria and their two alleged close aides Allauddin and Bashiruddin in the case.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/delhi-court-discharges-alleged-let-operative-abdul-karim-tunda/

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Muzaffarnagar riots panel gives clean chit to Sangeet Som, silent on Akhilesh (Mar 6, 2016, Indian Express)

The one-man commission of Justice (retd) Vishnu Sahai that probed the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots has said intelligence failure and laxity on the part of two senior police officials led to the violence that left 62 people dead.

The 700-page report tabled in the state Assembly on Sunday said the riots, following the murder of two persons by a youth from a minority community in Kawal town on August 27, 2013, took place as the then inspector of intelligence unit Prabal Pratap Singh failed to give an exact number of people going to attend a mahapanchayat at Mandaur.

The proceedings of the mahapanchayat were not recorded and there was laxity on the part of the then SSP Subhash Chandra Dubey due to which violence spread to Saharanpur, Shamli, Baghpat and Meerut, it said.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/intelligence-failure-led-to-2013-muzaffarnagar-riots-judicial-panel-report/

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Rs 11 lakh for Kanhaiya Kumar’s head, 5 for his tongue. Tolerant India? (Mar 5, 2016, Dailyo.in)

India cannot get enough of Kanhaiya Kumar, it seems. After the arrest, release and the fiery speech after return to JNU campus, there’s already a bounty on the student leader’s life… and… errr…his tongue.

A leader of BJP’s youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), Kuldip Varshney announced Rs 5 lakh prize money for cutting off Kanhaiya’s tongue. He was quickly expelled from the party for six years after the announcement.…

Shortly after the bounty on his tongue, posters appeared in Delhi offering a reward of Rs 11 lakh to anybody who shoots dead Kumar. The posters bearing the name of Purvanchal Sena and its president Adarsh Sharma were seen at bus stops and Metro stations in New Delhi. The Facebook page of this so-called “Sena” reads as Purvanchal Sena, ABVP.

http://www.dailyo.in/variety/kanhaiya-kumar-11-lakh-for-head-purvanchal-sena-bjym-kuldeep-varshney-narendra-modi-bjp-jnu/story/1/9387.html

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Country’s present atmosphere is worse than Emergency: SC lawyer (Mar 6, 2016, Times of India)

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Saturday said the atmosphere prevailing in the country was worse than the Emergency, with fascist forces like RSS, VHP, Hindu Rashtra Sena and Ram Sena operating with support from the Central government.

“Incidents like junior HRD minister Ram Shankar Katheria urging Hindu community to stand up for a final war with the Muslims in Agra, the entire government battling against JNU and Rohith Vemula through fabricated videos, making false statements in the parliament and the BJP youth wing leader announcing cash reward for cutting Kanhaiya Kumar’s tongue are indicative of how the Modi regime is promoting fascism,” Bhushan said at press conference here on Saturday.

Bhushan added, “The BJP governments were using an army of goons and goondas that uses brute force to crush those safeguarding the constitution, expressing dissent, asking questions and not subscribing to their ideology.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51274162.cms

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Opinions and Editorials

Hate Speech of Minister – Editorial (Mar 6, 2016, Peoples Democracy)

The spectacle of a minister in the Modi government making a speech of communal incitement and violating his or her oath of office has become a regular feature. Even so, the latest instance of Ram Shankar Katheria, the minister of state in the human resource development ministry making a hate speech against Muslims in Agra has to be taken with the utmost seriousness.…

From the union cabinet itself, there are attempts to undermine the constitution and rework the definition of the law. So incitement to violence against minorities becomes “nationalism” and fealty to Bharat Mata, while defence of secularism and freedom of speech becomes “anti-national” and seditious. In Narendra Modi’s dispensation, we are seeing how ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani brand dalit and Left student activists as “anti-national” while shielding the elements who resort to goondaism and violence against those who express dissent and stand against the Hindutva forces.

The Uttar Pradesh state government has the bounden duty to book Katheria and all others who incited communal violence in Agra. They should learn from the lapses of the administration in the build up to the Muzaffarnagar violence. As for the central government, the demand raised in parliament that the minister should be removed, has to be complied with, if the minimum obligation towards the constitution and the rule of law is to be observed.

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2016/0306_pd/hate-speech-minister

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No Spirituality Here: Farmers Strong-Armed by Delhi Police, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Group – By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar (Mar 1, 2016, The Wire)

The controversial three-day ‘World Culture Festival’ being organised by the Art of Living Foundation of godman Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the banks of the Yamuna from March 11 is aimed at “Making Life a Celebration”, but for many farmers who own or till land at the site, the event has made their life a misery.

A number of them have been displaced from their land, their standing crops have been bulldozed and three of them have been arrested and sent to jail on “trumped up charges” – the farmers say – for resisting forcible eviction from their properties.

All of this has happened in the past week on the stretch of land abutting the Noida road in East Delhi and extending from opposite Mayur Vihar Phase 1 Extension metro station to the Mayur Vihar metro station where the proposed parking for the event is coming up. One of the affected farmers, Mohammad Ibram, narrated how the event has caused immense hardship to his family.…

http://thewire.in/2016/03/01/no-spirituality-here-farmers-strong-armed-by-delhi-police-sri-sri-ravi-shankar-group-23301/

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The Blood Won’t Wash – By Rana Ayyub (Mar 14, 2016, Outlook)

In the last few days the ghost of 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan has come back to the rescue of the Narendra Modi government at a time when the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) crisis and a lacklustre budget could have well tilted the argument in favour of the Opposition. Such tactics are common in politics and have been used time and again by both the Congress and the BJP.

The reason why I write this today is because, at the core of the Ishrat Jahan debate, lies an attempt to use nationalism to cover up the crimes of senior Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials and police officers. The crime being brazen extra-judicial killings, not just that of Ishrat Jahan but also in the past of Sameer Khan Pathan, Sadiq Jamal, Sohrabuddin, Kauserbi. All the said encounters have been pronounced as fake by the highest courts in the country.…

Defenders of the then Modi government often argue that encounters – even fake encounters – are not exclusive to Gujarat and that the numbers are much higher in other states. This is probably true. However, what makes the Gujarat fake encounters particularly disturbing is the cynical and false propaganda that was mounted around them.…

http://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/the-blood-wont-wash/296790

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‘BJP Ministers Encouraged Protesters In Haryana’ – Raj Kumar Saini – By Amit Bhardwaj (Mar 13, 2016, Tehelka)

A particular community has 50 percent representation in Haryana Police. Many officers from the community under question themselves got police stationsransacked, handed over weapons to protestors and allowed violence in the state to continue. The police force encouraged these protestors instead of stopping them.…

The state machinery was hijacked by our own ministers from that particular community. The cm was advised to remain silent otherwise a civil war like situation could have unfolded. These ministers hijacked the state machinery and stopped it from taking any action.…

Bhoopinder Singh Hooda added fuel to fire so that the party gets defamed and no other Jat leader becomes strong. His role was to set the state on fire. And yes,BJP ministers from one particular community encouraged the protestors. They forgot that the BJP is in power, both at the state and the Centre.…

http://www.tehelka.com/2016/03/bjp-ministers-encouraged-protesters-in-haryana-raj-kumar-saini/

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Targeting Institutions of Higher Education – By Romila Thapar (Mar 5, 2016, EPW)

Recent events at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) raise many questions pertinent to us as citizens of India. The questions have become imperative because it is apparent that many who govern us have little sensitivity to understanding the fundamental issues crucial to governance.… To see the BJP–RSS government trying to annul what we have achieved in the JNU and reduce the university to a pedestrian teaching shop is like having to see the work on one’s lifetime being systematically destroyed.…

As an academic who has lived a substantial part of my life working in the JNU, and contributing to this vision, the hostility of the current government to the JNU leaves me with a sense of despair and sadness, not just for JNU but for the future of universities in India. However, I must add that experiencing the protest of the JNU community over the last few weeks, against the attack that has been mounted on the university, does make me feel that perhaps the values that we had tried to inculcate in its early years have taken root.

When JNU recovers from the trauma of this attack it is likely to be even more committed to the values for which it was created – excellence not only in intellectual enterprise but also in endorsing a humane and open society, upholding the rights of every Indian citizen.

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/10/commentary/targeting-institutions-higher-education.html

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The End of Impunity: Gujarat 2002 – By Teesta Setalvad (Feb 28, 2016, Sabrang India)

It was not simply the number of lives lost, though the number perhaps 2500 is not insignificant. It was the cold-blooded manner in which they were taken. It was not simply that 19 of Gujarat’s 25 districts burned while Neros watched, fiddled and smirked but the sinister similarity in the way they were set alight. Militias were armed with deadly training, weapons, technology and equipment; with a lethal brew of deadly intent, inspired by constructed tales of hate, using the February 28, 2002 edition of a leading Gujarati daily that urged revenge; all combined with a deadly white chemical powder that seared to burn and destroy already killed bodies. And, of course, truckloads of gas cylinders, in short supply for cooking, were used instead to blast mosques and homes. Mobile phones and motorcycles made communications easy and movement swift.…

The hasty granting of bail to those involved in the post-Godhra carnage remains a scandal. While over seven dozen of those accused of the Godhra train arson have been in jail, without bail for eight years – and today face trial within the precincts of the Sabarmati jail – powerful men, patronised by the state’s political hierarchy who are accused of multiple rapes and murders roam free in “vibrant Gujarat” even as the trials have resumed.…

A vast majority have lived in freedom even after committing unspeakable crimes. All this and more is being investigated under the orders of our apex court on a petition filed by Zakia Ahsan Jafri and the Citizens for Justice and Peace. For the first time in our history criminal conspiracy and mass murder are the charges,the chief minister and 61 others the accused. Will the wealth of evidence be matched by the rigour of investigation? Will the will to prosecute surmount political considerations? Will the Indian system throw a spotlight on what surely must be its darkest hour?…

https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/end-impunity-gujarat-2002

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