IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 16th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Activists march for communal harmony (Nov 12, 2015, The Hindu)

In order to spread the message of peace and communal harmony, members of various progressive associations took out a rally here on Wednesday. Under the banner of ‘Pragatipara Sanghatanegalu’, they marched from the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway to the office of Deputy Commissioner here.

Addressing the gathering, the activists stressed the urgency of bringing back the peaceful atmosphere in Kodagu, which witnessed clashes following the celebration of birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan on Tuesday, and other parts of the state and appealed for maintaining communal harmony.…

Members of Dalit Sangharsh Samiti, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS), Karnataka Vidyarti Sanghatane, Karnataka Janashakti and Karnataka Shramik Shakti were present.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/activists-march-for-communal-harmony/article7868524.ece

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PM Modi should come clean on his record about 2002 riots as Gujarat CM, says Azam Khan (Nov 14, 2015, DNA India)

As a Prime Minister, Narendra Modi holds the highest position in a democratic setup and it was binding on him to clarify his position on 2002 riots in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan said here today. The ruling Samajwadi Party leader’s comments have come against the backdrop of Modi being asked about his record as Gujarat Chief Minister by a journalist during his Britain tour.

A journalist from The Guardian newspaper asked Modi about protests on the streets of London saying he did not deserve the respect that would normally be accorded to the leader of the world’s largest democracy given his record as Gujarat Chief Minister. “It is incumbent upon Modi to come clean before not only the Indian people but also in the eyes of the world populace,” Azam said.

“Since he holds the highest position in a democratic set up it is incumbent upon Modi to come clean before not only the Indian people but also in the eyes of the world populace,” he said.…

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-pm-modi-should-come-clean-on-his-record-as-gujarat-cm-says-azam-khan-2145306

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Bihar results show majority of Hindus still believe in peace and amity: Dalai Lama (Nov 15, 2015, First Post)

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has said India is a nation of non-violence and noted that the Bihar election results show that a majority of the Hindus believes in peace and amity.

“India has a long tradition of peace and amity. The people of Bihar in the recent Assembly polls have proved that a large section of the Hindu community still believes in peace and amity,” the 14th Dalai Lama said without naming any political party or leader.

“It is because of this amity that India is known worldwide as a country of religious tolerance. All religions and individuals are given equal respect here,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Jalandhar.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/bihar-results-show-majority-of-hindus-still-believe-in-peace-says-dalai-lama-2507204.html

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Tipu row: VHP protest fails to gather support in Karnataka (Nov 13, 2015, Hindustan Times)

A Vishwa Hindu Parishad campaign failed to shut down Karnataka on Friday with the group trying to pressurise the Congress-led state government to cancel the birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan amid swirling communal tensions.…

The administration in Dakshina Kannada district thwarted the shutdown campaign by imposing curfew until Sunday while the other six districts saw only minor disruptions when protesters symbolically blocked major thoroughfares and highways for an hour on Friday morning.…

While an edgy peace has returned to violence-hit areas, tensions show no signs of abating with home minister G Parameshwara saying “there is no question of reconsidering the state festival” while protesters have vowed to continue the movement until the government gives in.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/tipu-row-vhp-protest-fails-to-gather-support-in-karnataka/story-Ako5olKtcPXNYjBK19KzmO.html

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Foreign scholars write to President Pranab Mukherjee, PM Modi on intolerance (Nov 10, 2015, Indian Express)

Nearly 190 scholars, who are working on India but are based abroad, have joined a signature campaign “against the policies of the NDA government towards intellectual and cultural affairs”. In a letter to the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India among others, the scholars referred to an earlier statement issued by “a group of distinguished Indian historians”.

“We – historians and social scientists engaged in researching and teaching about the richness of Indian history and society in different locations overseas – write to express our solidarity with their statement. We share the deep concern over recent happenings in India, which are affecting freedom of artistic expression and historical and social science inquiry…” said the letter.

Among the signatories of the campaign, organised by historian Gyanendra Pandey of Emory University, are Chicago University’s Wendy Doniger and Harvard’s Homi Bhabha.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/foreign-scholars-write-to-president-pm-on-intolerance/

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Maharashtra: 269 custodial deaths in 10 years, shockingly not a single conviction (Nov 16, 2015, IBN)

Leonard Valdaris, father of 24-year-old Agnelo is inconsolable. Fighting back tears he says, “They showed me his dead body. How can this happen? I had given him to you all and what did you do to my son? Yesterday they were saying that they will kill my son but I didn’t believe them and I thought they were just scaring me. And then they just killed him.”

It has been 18 long months since Leonard Valdaris’s son was allegedly mercilessly tortured to death in police custody. There has not been a single arrest in the case and the CBI is yet to file a charge sheet. Agnelo’s is among the 269 cases of custodial deaths recorded in the state over the last 10 years. Maharashtra again retained its dubious distinction of recording the maximum number of custodial deaths in the country.

Yug Chaudhry, a senior advocate said, “Police officials can repeatedly keep torturing people and get away with it. They keep doing it again and again. They are not even reprimanded let alone prosecuted or punished. Now the officer who is asked to conduct that inquiry is the officer who does all the cover ups. All the evidences are destroyed by the same officer. I have seen so many such cases.”…

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/india/maharashtra-269-custodial-deaths-in-10-years-shockingly-not-a-single-conviction-1165086.html

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Man behind Kerala House raid ‘felicitated’ (Nov 16, 2015, The Hindu)

Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta, who kicked up a row at Kerala House by alleging that cow meat was being served in its canteen, was ‘felicitated’ in the Capital on Sunday for his “contribution in taking Hindutva forward”.

Mr. Gupta and around a dozen other Hindu ‘activists’ were ‘honoured’ by the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, which observed Nathuram Godse’s day of hanging as ‘Balidan Diwas’.

Among others ‘felicitated’ at the function were Mohit Rajput, the co-accused in the Kerala House beef controversy, and two other Hindu Sena leaders – Deepak Sharma and Devendra Upadhyay – who had been in the news last month for throwing ink on Jammu and Kashmir legislator Engineer Rashid for hosting a beef party.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/man-behind-kerala-house-raid-felicitated/article7881114.ece

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Firozabad: Tension in village after 13 cows, 5 oxen found dead (Nov 11, 2015, Indian Express)

Tension gripped Bendi village in Firozabad district after 13 cows and five oxen were found dead and another 13 lying unconscious in a field by a highway under North police station area Tuesday morning. Police suspect cattle smugglers may have dumped the animals after they died. A mob of locals gathered at the place and staged protest but heavy police force at the spot prevented any untoward incident.

Circle officer, City, Rajesh Chowdhary said a team of veterinary doctors were called to the spot who declared 18 of the cattle dead and others unconscious. Postmortem was conducted on the spot and the dead animal were buried in nearby thickets, he added.…

As police reached the spot, some local leaders of different political parties too arrived there and people started raising slogans and staging protest. The situation, however, was controlled as senior officials rushed to the place with heavy police force.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/firozabad-tension-in-village-after-13-cows-5-oxen-found-dead/

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BJP Lost Most Seats Where Modi Addressed Rallies (Nov 10, 2015, New Indian Express)

BJP candidates were defeated in most of the assembly seats in Bihar where Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed election rallies. But the Congress won all the four seats where its president Sonia Gandhi addressed rallies. It also won a majority of the seats where its vice president Rahul Gandhi spoke at election meetings.

Modi was the star campaigner of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the assembly elections which it lost badly to the Grand Alliance. Modi addressed 26 rallies in as many constituencies between October 2 (Banka) and November 2 (Darbhanga). It was the first time any prime minister had spoken at so many election rallies in an assembly election.

Modi also addressed four rallies in the state in July and August even before the announcement of the assembly polls. Of the 26 constituencies where Modi spoke, the BJP won in only 10 seats. It was defeated in the other 16 seats, a BJP leader said.…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/BJP-Lost-Most-Seats-Where-Modi-Addressed-Rallies/2015/11/10/article3122761.ece

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No Urdu teachers, students ‘forced’ to study Sanskrit, panel told (Nov 10, 2015, Indian Express)

The Delhi Minorities Commission has been told “due to non-availability of Urdu teachers, students intending to opt for Urdu as a subject are forced to study Sanskrit”. The panel stated this in its annual report after conducting a study on the reported shortage of Urdu teachers.

A similar study on the shortage of Punjabi teachers is under way. According to the panel, of the 29 posts sanctioned for Urdu teachers in government schools, 12 are vacant. Of the 28 posts sanctioned for Punjabi teachers, 10 are vacant.…

The panel also undertook a survey of education and health facilities in Muslim-dominated Okhla and Mustafabad areas. After receiving information from officials and municipal corporations, the panel inferred, “It is seen that health and education facilities are not adequate in Okhla cluster of colonies.” For the estimated population of 6 to 7 lakh in the area, the panel said, the area was “underserved, causing hardship to those belonging to the minority community”.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/no-urdu-teachers-students-forced-to-study-sanskrit-panel-told/

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Narendra Modi inaugurating Ambedkar memorial was an act of hypocrisy: UK Dalit groups (Nov 15, 2015, India.com)

Saffron rooted Narendra Modi drew flak from Dalit organizations active in the United Kingdom for exhibiting himself as an admirer of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar and inaugurating his memorial in the British capital. At least two UK-based Dalit groups – Caste Watch UK and Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee (DAMC) have expressed their dissent in public.

The Ambedkarite outfits criticised the decision of Prime Minister David Cameron to allow his Indian counterpart Modi to score political gains by showcasing himself as a true follower of Ambedkar, despite hailing from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which believes in Brahmin domination. Caste Watch UK has accused the Conservative Tory Party of appealing to influential upper-caste Hindu lobby in England.

DAMC expressed disappointment over the inauguration of Ambedkar House in London by Modi since he belongs to the same Hindu supremacist organization which advocates the exclusion of lower castes, outcastes and minorities in India. In an official statement released by the group, it said that the Dalits all over the world regard the inauguration of the memorial by Modi with utter abhorrence.…

http://www.india.com/news/india/narendra-modi-inaugurating-ambedkar-memorial-was-an-act-of-hypocrisy-uk-dalit-groups-707467/

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Opinions and Editorials

India is being ruled by a Hindu Taliban – By Anish Kapoor (Nov 12, 2015, The Guardian)

The Hindu god Vishnu has several incarnations, many of them human. The latest of these appears to be Narendra Modi. All over India there are images of the man, right arm raised in the benevolent gesture of good fortune. But this strong-but-enlightened-man image hides the frightening and shrill reality of an increasingly Modi-led Hindu dominance of India.

The country’s openness to social and religious minorities (more than 500 million people) and regional differences is at serious risk. Of late, Modi’s regime has effectively tolerated – if not encouraged – a saffron-clad army of Hindu activists who monitor and violently discipline those suspected of eating beef, disobeying caste rules or betraying the “Hindu nation”.…

This alarming erosion of democracy is a slippery slope that may end up targeting not just minorities and “outsiders” but any dissenting “insiders”. What I’ve seen happening is a spirit of fear taking hold, which threatens to silence activists, artists and intellectuals alike. We’ve never known that before.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/12/india-hindu-taliban-narendra-modi

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India Tarnished by Recent Intolerance – By Meenakshi Ganguly (Nov 10, 2015, Human Rights Watch)

…After years of shunning him for his failure to end communal attacks on Muslims in 2002, when he was chief minister of Gujarat state, the United Kingdom restored direct engagement with Modi in 2012, when he emerged as the leading prime ministerial candidate. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decisively won the 2014 general elections.

Modi has embarked upon an ambitious effort to draw in foreign investment to bolster his promise of development. Unlike China or Egypt, India – as a long-standing democracy with a fiercely independent judiciary, assertive media, and noisy civil society – is a particularly attractive partner.

Yet, the Modi government has stumbled in its goal of achieving economic growth by diminishing precisely these positive values. Freedom of expression and association are facing increasing curbs at home.…

https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/10/dispatches-india-tarnished-recent-intolerance

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An open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – By Viju B (Nov 10, 2015, Times of India)

Your core team would have already started taking stock of what went wrong in the Bihar polls. We all know that, you do not dwell in the past, and believe in the future, which is a great sign of a learner. So to begin with, it would be of great help for the future of BJP, if the party begins an internal discussion on how to tackle the proclamation made by the Hindu Mahasabha.

Five days from now, the Hindu Mahasabha plans to celebrate the hanging of Naturam Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, as Martyrdom Day. It seems as though you are mutely convinced by the fact that there is nothing legally wrong and have remained silent so far on this issue.…

Dear PM, this Diwali, we hope that you sit in silence and read the first Shloka of Ramayana once again: Ma Nishada Parthistham… Which simply means, “You will find no rest for the long years of eternity, for you killed a bird in love and unsuspecting.” Let the metamorphosis begin from here.

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Second-Nature/an-open-letter-to-prime-minister-narendra-modi/

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Why the BJP’s blame game just does not add up – By Nistula Hebbar (Nov 12, 2015, The Hindu)

A post-mortem is never pretty, especially of a humiliating poll debacle. It can sink very quickly into a blame game, and it takes a lot of effort and a healthy dose of honest introspection to redeem the exercise into one that offers correctives. The statement by four veteran leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar – that there needs to be an honest introspection of the reasons for the party’s rout in Bihar points to this fear that no correctives may emerge from the party’s internal exercise to apportion blame.

On November 8, after the results came in, the murmurs that began at the Ashoka Road head office of the BJP were hardly encouraging. All the effort of the last eight months, including a highly centralised operation involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an extremely communally polarised campaign narrative, were being set aside to imply that caste had won over development.…

The dissipation of the chemistry between the Prime Minister and the Bihari voter can be directly traced to the atmosphere created by these unseemly comments. It has suddenly catapulted the Prime Minister into the fray from being above it.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/why-the-bjps-blame-game-just-does-not-add-up/article7866877.ece

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Electric Chairs – By Prarthna Gahilote (Nov 23, 2015, Outlook)

In BJP circles in Delhi, for the last 18 months or so, a common refrain has been, “Amit Shah delivers, whatever be the circumstances.” So last month when the BJP president promised there would be firecrackers in case the party lost in Bihar, he wasn’t seeing Diwali in a new light. The firecrackers did happen. So what if it wasn’t in Pakistan? Shah delivered on his poll promise of bangers with help from his own backyard; the marginalised old guard of the BJP.

For the Narendra Modi-bhakts in the BJP, the scathing letter from party veterans L.K. Advani,Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar, demanding accountability for the Bihar debacle, was something that had been “expected for a long time”. Over a year after its formation, the margdarshak mandal (which includes two of the current dissenters, Advani and Joshi), many believe, was simply striking back for being sidelined by the new dispensation. The BJP’s young blood affirms, “They were waiting for a chance. The Bihar results presented a good opportunity to pull the Modi-Shah combine down.”

But the November 10 letter can’t just be dismissed as elderly frustration over a purported loss of stature. After all, Advani and Joshi aren’t just former party presidents, they are leaders who built the party. Add to that mix Joshi’s well-known proximity to ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, who many leaders believe had given its blessings to the dissent letter. Insiders confirm the rebellion strategy and the letter of dissent were drafted over three hours in the presence of former BJP minister Arun Shourie at Joshi’s residence on Raisina Road.…

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/electric-chairs/295850

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The economics of cow slaughter – By Brinda Karat (Nov 16, 2015, The Hindu)

There is no cause to believe that the decisive defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)’s communal and caste politics in Bihar will mean an end to its vicious campaign against cow slaughter. The online threat from a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) official’s twitter handle to retailers to stop selling goods made of cow hide is clear evidence.

Although the general campaign against cow slaughter targets Muslims, it is Hindus who will be most adversely affected if the Hindutva brigade has its way with a total ban on cattle slaughter.

Farmers, mainly Hindus, sell unproductive cattle to contractors. A blanket ban on slaughter means the farmer will have to pay for their upkeep which, at current prices, would amount to around Rs. 100 a day or Rs. 36,500 a year. Can farmers in the grip of an acute agrarian crisis afford this expense? Will the government give them a cattle subsidy? According to the cattle census, already there are 53 lakh stray cattle abandoned by their owners.…

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-economics-of-cow-slaughter/article7880807.ece

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