IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 19th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Seers assure Muslims, offer shelter in temples (Nov 18, 2018, Times of India)

Reacting to reports of Muslims of Ayodhya feeling unsafe due to gathering of VHP activists for Dharm Sabha on November 25, the seers and temple mahants have assured support and security to Muslims and said that Muslims can take shelter in temples if they feel any insecurity.

Assuring Muslims of their security, Hindu seers said that the doors of temples are open for Muslims to take shelter in case they feel any threat or insecurity. Mahant Dharam Das, a litigant of Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit case, said Muslims should not feel insecure in any situation and the sadhus will ensure their protection.

Mahant Raj Kumar Das, priest of Ram Ballabha Kunj temple, said, “Muslim brothers need not worry. Ayodhya-Faizabad are cities of Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb, so no one will be harmed. And my temple is open for Muslims any time.” Ayodhya mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay also assured safety to Muslims and said, “The doors of my house are open for Muslims. They are welcome to my house if they feel any insecurity.” “In 1992, after Babri Masjid demolition, many temples in Ayodhya had given shelter to Muslims,” said Mahant Jugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, priest of Saryu Kunj temple.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/seers-assure-muslims-offer-shelter-in-temples/articleshowprint/66674961.cms

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New hate crime tracker in India finds victims are predominantly Muslims, perpetrators Hindus (Nov 13, 2018, Scroll.in)

…the world has become a progressively more frightening and dangerous place to live in for minorities of various kinds – religious, national, racial, linguistic, ethnic, and sexual – as well as for left and liberal dissidents. As fear, violence and state bias become increasingly normalised for minorities in country after country, it is sobering to remember that India is still unique because of the rise of one particular kind of hate violence that targets its religious and caste minorities: lynching.

In the past few years, India has seen several instances of lynchings in which frenzied mobs have targeted people mainly because of their religious or caste identity – for being Muslim or Dalit. This is part of a larger surge of hate crimes that is corroding social peace and trust across the country.…

What the government and ruling party refuse to acknowledge is that incidents of lynching are not ordinary crimes, reflecting normal periodic failures of law and order. The large majority of these incidents are hate crimes, or crimes that target people because of their identity. In the 22 journeys the Karwan-e-Mohabbat made since September 2017 – during which we visited families of lynching and hate crimes in 12 states – we found a wave of these crimes had erupted in many corners of the country.…

https://scroll.in/article/901206/new-hate-crime-tracker-in-india-finds-victims-are-predominantly-muslims-perpetrators-hindus

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2002 post-Gujarat riots: SC defers hearing on Zakia Jafri’s plea till Nov 26 (Nov 19, 2018, New Indian Express)

The Supreme Court Monday deferred till November 26 hearing on the plea of Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) to Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister, in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

Zakia, the wife of Ehsan Jafri, an ex-MP who was killed in one of the worst incidents during the riots, has challenged the Gujarat High Court’s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the SIT’s decision.

A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said, “The matter will take some time for hearing. The plea will be heard on November 26”.… The bench said it will look into the application before hearing the matter on making Setalvad as the second petitioner in Jafri’s plea.…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/nov/19/2002-gujarat-riots-sc-defers-hearing-on-zakia-jafris-plea-till-november-26-1900298.html

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PM Modi, Amit Shah trying to create opposition-less India: TDP (Nov 17, 2018, Times of India)

The TDP on Saturday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were seeking to create an opposition less India and said the party’s objectives was to ‘protect democracy’.

“Modi and Shah are trying to eat away other parties so that no opposition is left in the country. Democracy will be that much stronger only if there is a strong opposition,” TDP politburo member and Andhra Pradesh finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said in a statement.

He said ‘protecting democracy’ was TDPs objective while it was everyone’s responsibility to prevent BJP from retaining power (at the Centre) in 2019.…

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-amit-shah-trying-to-create-opposition-less-india-tdp/articleshowprint/66668232.cms

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BJP rakes up Ram temple issue whenever elections come: Singhvi (Nov 11, 2018, Business Standard)

Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Sunday accused the BJP of indulging in “cheap politics” by raking up the issue of Ram temple only before elections.

Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “insulting” Lord Rama, Singhvi questioned why the Narendra Modi government at the Centre failed to bring an ordinance in the last four years.

“Before every election, they remember the Ram Mandir. They have their governments in Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre but they did nothing before elections,” the All India Congress Committee spokesperson said at a press conference here.…

https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/bjp-rakes-up-ram-temple-issue-whenever-elections-come-singhvi-118111100447_1.html

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Supreme Court Slams Claim That Manipur Fake Encounter Probe Will ‘Demoralise’ Army (Nov 13, 2018, The Wire)

The efforts by a collective of army officers to scuttle Central Bureau of Investigation probes into allegations of extra-judicial killings have been stopped by the Supreme Court. On Monday, a two-judge bench comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice U.U. Lalit said there was “no merit” to petitions filed by about 700 army officers, who told the Supreme Court that these two judges should stop hearing the case and that it should be transferred to a different bench. Their application was dismissed.

The application was triggered by Justice Lokur’s remark in court in July asking the CBI why it had not conducted custodial interrogations of men in the armed forces who have been charged with murder. As The Wire reported, when the CBI did not have any reply, Justice Lokur remarked wryly that accused murderers were “roaming” around in Manipur while survivors were living in fear.

One of the arguments put forward by the officers is that the Indian army, paramilitary forces and Manipur police have been “demoralised” by observations made by the Supreme Court judges regarding extra-judicial killings in Manipur. To this, the judges responded directly and sharply in their 20-page order, calling it an “overbroad submission” that has been stretched to its “vanishing point”. They said the armed forces are made of “sterner stuff” and the apprehension that they have been demoralised “is suggestive of a weakness in them”. The judges also questioned whether there was actually a situation of “demoralisation”, saying that there was “no material to support the theory”.…

https://thewire.in/law/supreme-court-army-manipur-fake-encounter

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Rakesh Asthana, Sushil Modi and PMO Worked Together to Book Lalu: CBI Director (Nov 18, 2018, The Wire)

If exiled Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma’s responses to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) queries are to be believed, his deputy in the CBI Rakesh Asthana, the prime minister’s office (PMO) and BJP leader Sushil Modi worked together to book Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav in the IRCTC scam.

The Supreme court intervened in the CBI war between Verma and Asthana to allow the CVC to inquire into allegations of procedural irregularities against the CBI director. The CVC has submitted its report to the bench. However, the apex court has asked the commission to also share the report with the CBI director so he has a chance to challenge it.

The Wire recently published a story on Verma’s testimony before the commission: Not only did Verma refute each allegation, he also held the Narendra Modi government and its disrespect for the CBI’s autonomy responsible for the crisis in the agency today.…

https://thewire.in/government/lalu-prasad-cbi-rakesh-asthana-alok-verma

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Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer replaced following strong protests (Nov 15, 2018, The Tribune)

Poll-bound Mizoram’s Chief Electoral Officer, S B Shashank, was removed by the Election Commission on Thursday, following strong protests against him. Shashank has been replaced by IAS officer Ashish Kundra.

The order came after some civil society groups in Mizoram demanded Shashank’s ouster over a row on allowing Bru voters lodged in Tripura relief camps to exercise their franchise from there.

“The Election Commission of India in consultation with the Government of Mizoram hereby nominates Ashish Kundra as the chief electoral officer for the state of Mizoram with immediate effect,” a notification issued by the EC said.…

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/mizoram-chief-electoral-officer-replaced-following-strong-protests/683504.html

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Activists of Hindu outfit threaten to perform ‘puja’ inside Taj Mahal (Nov 18, 2018, Indian Express)

A day after women belonging to a local Hindu outfit barged inside the mosque at Taj Mahal and offered ‘puja’ and did ‘aarti’ inside the premises, Rashtriya Bajrang Dal activists threatened to do a similar thing on Sunday.

The activists were protesting against the security agency’s failure to stop a Muslim group from offering prayers inside the mosque, which is in violation of the Supreme Court order, IANS reported.

The president of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal’s women’s wing president Meena Diwakar claimed that namaz was being offered inside the temple premises every day and if the guilty were caught and punished for breaking the law then they too were ready to face any police action.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/taj-mahal-hindu-outfit-puja-namaz-5452381/

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Rafale deal: Congress accuses PM of betraying national interest (Nov 15, 2018, The Tribune)

The Congress on Thursday levelled the most serious set of accusations on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal, saying he compromised national security to ulterior ends and bypassed established procedures and laws.

Fielding its media head Randeep Surjewala to reiterate the demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the deal, the Congress suggested that the outcome of the Rafale petitions in the Supreme Court would not impact its own demand for an investigation into the contract.

“The Supreme Court has constitutional limitations on the matter and cannot look at file notings which reveal the truth of the Rafale. The court is not an enquiry office. The facts will emerge when the JPC summons files of the meetings of Cabinet Committee on Security, Defence Acquisition Council and the price negotiations committee,” Surjewala said, citing “facts” from government files which he said had now been confirmed publicly by one Sudhanshu Mohanty, a retired officer who dealt with finance in the Defence Ministry.…

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/rafale-deal-congress-accuses-pm-of-betraying-national-interest/683531.html

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Dharmapuri rape: Adivasi girl dies of injuries but police arrests activists for raising the issue (Nov 15, 2018, Twocircles.net)

A week ago, the rape and the subsequent death of an Adivasi minor girl shocked Tamil Nadu. And even as the police has acted swiftly and arrested the two accused, it seems their ire is now almost exclusively against the activists who spoke in support of the family. As of Thursday, four activists are in Salem jail with their bail petition pending.

The arrest of the activists comes at a time when it was their efforts that led to a swift investigation by the police along with the dismissal of the original investigating officer who was then replaced by a lady inspector. The four activists have been arrested under Section 7 (1)(a) in the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932 which includes, among other things, loitering.

The activists made it to Arur, Dharmapuri district after they found about the rape of an Adivasi minor girl who subsequently lost her life when she was denied proper medical attention due to questionable actions of the police.…

http://twocircles.net/2018nov15/427067.html

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Opinions and Editorials

Why is India ‘Hinduizing’ cities’ Muslim names? – By Apoorvanand (Nov 12, 2018, Deutsche Welle)

Last week, the chief minister of India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state renamed the city of Allahabad to Praygraj and and Faizabad to Ayodhya.… The name change drive is not just restricted to Uttar Pradesh; chief ministers of other BJP-led states are taking similar measures – renaming cities, airports and streets.…

Interestingly, almost all cities and other landmarks that have been renamed, or have been proposed to be renamed, have Muslim-rooted names. Some political analysts claim that the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party, wants to change the names of cities and other historical places only to appease its conservative voters ahead of the 2019 general elections.…

Critics say its aim is to establish Hindu hegemony in a Hindu-majority country, leaving religious minorities out in the cold. “This is an attempt to undermine India’s plural identity. The BJP is appeasing the country’s conservative Hindu voters ahead of the 2019 election, but the message they are sending out in the process is deeply prejudiced,” Sanjay Srivastava, a sociologist, told DW. Parikshit Ghosh, a New Delhi-based economist, believes the BJP’s name change drive is an attempt to divert attention from the party’s governance failure in the past four years.…

https://www.dw.com/en/why-is-india-hinduizing-cities-muslim-names/a-46259523

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A law for Ram temple would go against norms stated by apex court – By Ravish Tiwari (Nov 12, 2018, Indian Express)

While the RSS and its affiliated bodies have urged the Modi government to bring a legislation to pave the way for a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, any such move could run foul of legal barriers enshrined in several judgments of the Supreme Court.

A legislation clearing the way for a temple would favour one party over another in the dispute, thus running ultra vires of legal principles enunciated by the court. While the legislature is well within its right to enact a law that can alter the foundation of any judgment, it is also now well-settled that this cannot be resorted to in a case between two parties.

One of the clearest such judicial assertions was pronounced by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in a presidential reference made in 1991 by then President R Venkataraman, over a matter concerning the Cauvery Water Disuputes Tribunal. “The principle which emerges from these authorities is that the legislature can change the basis on which a decision is given by the Court and thus change the law in general which will affect a class of persons and events at large. It cannot, however, set aside an individual decision interparties and affect their rights and liabilities alone,” said a five-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice of India Ranganath Misra.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ram-temple-ayodhya-would-go-against-norms-stated-by-supreme-court-bjp-pm-modi-5441668/

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Zakia Jafri’s Case is a Reminder of How the Guilty of Gujarat Subverted the Law – By Teesta Setalvad (Nov 18, 2018, The Wire)

…Sixteen years after an estimated 300 incidents racked Gujarat, described by the Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crimes Against Humanity, as an “organised crime perpetuated by the state’s chief minister and his government” and a dozen years after the criminal complaint was filed, Zakia Jafri’s case comes up for hearing before the Supreme Court …. Once again, we will seek to get back to the very basis of the charges raised in the original complaint.

The reason for this travesty is the betrayal of the mandate granted to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the officers who manned it. A former CBI director, now appointed ambassador to Cyprus by the regime whose powerful men he was investigating, and his hand-picked men (assisted over time by officers from the Gujarat cadre who have since been promoted) worked to obfuscate and nullify the original charges of criminal conspiracy, abetment, murder, hate speech, destruction of records and subversion of statutory authorities. These charges had first been outlined in the June 2006 complaint and thereafter substantiated in the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri before the magistrate’s court on April 15, 2013.

The irony is that the SIT’s own preliminary investigation report dated May 10, 2010 – and the chairman’s comments dated May 12, 2010 – outline its own investigation in the several charges of conspiracy (sub-divided into 32 allegations). This is also the subject matter of the final closure report dated February 8, 2012. The SIT has dishonestly – despite the wider gamut of the Zakia Jafri complaint – consistently misled the lower courts and insisted on self-limiting the case to only the Gulberg society carnage. In doing so, they have helped the organisation to whom the perpetrators belonged, to parrot the idea of an illusory ‘clean chit’ that has, in fact never been given to either the chief accused or his fellow perpetrators.…

https://thewire.in/rights/zakia-jafri-2002-gujarat-violence-supreme-court

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Stealing Indian Icons RSS Style – By Aijaz Zaka Syed (Nov 12, 2018, Sabrang India)

What’s with this obsession of powerful men with grand monuments? The biggest, largest and tallest…the more insecure a leader, the more grandiloquent is his vision of his legacy. Perhaps Freud could explain the psychological causes behind these magnificent obsessions and preoccupation with size.…

The gigantic statue of Sardar Patel that Narendra Modi has had built at a staggering cost of Rs.3500cr ($500 million dollars) is also said to have been inspired by the Lady Liberty. Modi’s ‘statue of unity’ at 182 metres is twice the size of the US icon (93 metres). However, unlike the most popular American icon celebrating the ideals of freedom and democracy and offering refuge to the poor, wretched and rejected lot of humanity, this monument is nothing but a celebration of Modi’s own vanity and an inflated vision of his legacy. Indeed, a number of things about the Patel statue just do not make any sense.…

Amid all this brouhaha, what few pay attention to is the great humanitarian tragedy of the thousands of poor farmers and tribals, India’s most marginalised communities, who have been deprived of their homes and livelihoods thanks to this ambitious project. Hundreds of victims silently protested in the run-up to the unveiling of the monument but few in India’s toady media bothered or dared to report it. No compensation, if any, can bring back what they have lost for one man’s delusions of grandeur.

https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/stealing-indian-icons-rss-style

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CBI Officer’s Explosive Petition: ‘Minister Paid, Doval Blocked Search for Evidence’ – By Rohini Singh (Nov 19, 2018, The Wire)

A senior officer from the Central Bureau of Investigation who was “unjustly” transferred the day the Modi government ousted director Alok Verma has alleged in a petition to the Supreme Court that Union minister of state for coal and mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary received “a few crores of rupees” in the “first fortnight of June 2018” as part of the ‘extortion racket’ being run by certain officers investigating the Moin Qureshi case.

He has also accused national security advisor Ajit Doval of blocking crucial investigations into the matter. On Monday, Central Bureau of Investigation DIG Manish Kumar Sinha filed a petition seeking to intervene in the ongoing case filed by CBI director Alok Verma. Sinha, who was shunted out to Nagpur by the acting CBI director on October 24, said his transfer was “arbitrary, motivated and mala fide, and was made solely with the purpose and intent to victimise the officer as the investigation revealed cogent evidence against certain powerful persons.”

On October 23, Sinha says he was informed by DIG/DD (SU) – the head of the CBI’s phone surveillance division – that a person had spoken spoke to Samant Goel (a senior R&AW official who was also identified in the CBI’s FIR) “and asked to help him to which Samant Goel replied that things have been managed with PMO and everything is fine. The same night the entire investigating team was shifted.”…

https://thewire.in/government/narendra-modi-government-bribe-cbi-supreme-court

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Rafale deal row: Opacity, rushed ‘sealed cover’, CAG’s silence indicate Centre might be scrambling for cover – By Suhit K Sen (Nov 13, 2018, First Post)

The Centre’s strategy in response to repeated attacks over its re-negotiation of the Rafale aircraft deal is getting curiouser and curiouser, especially as more details about the deal enter the public domain in a thin, stuttering trickle.

First up is its ‘disclosure’ to the Supreme Court of the details of pricing in the re-negotiated deal. Just about a fortnight ago – on 31 October – the Centre had told the top court that these details could not be divulged, after a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had said not only that all details that had by then been delivered to the court in a ‘sealed cover’ should be made available to petitioners who had filed public-interest petitions, but also expressed its desire to be apprised of details about pricing.

On Monday, the Centre rushed the information to the court disregarding Supreme Court procedure and in a notably cloak-and-dagger style. The Ministry of Defence sent the ‘sealed cover’, not even allowing Attorney-General KK Venugopal access to the information. Speculation swirls around this change of heart. It has been suggested that the Centre hopes it can dispel the bad odour clinging to the deal – and consequently to the Centre – even though it is unlikely that sceptics both among the Opposition and the citizenry will take anything this government does on trust, especially given the government’s unwillingness to come clean over the deal.…

https://www.firstpost.com/india/rafale-deal-row-opacity-rushed-sealed-cover-cags-silence-indicate-centre-might-be-scrambling-for-cover-5542631.html

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