IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 26th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Ayodhya event being held with elections in mind: Muslim leaders (Nov 22, 2018, Financial Express)

As the VHP gears up to hold on Sunday what it is touting as the largest congregation of ‘Ram bhakts’ in Ayodhya since the 1992 ‘kar seva’ when the Babri Masjid was demolished, Muslim leaders see a design to woo voters. “The motive is political and there is no doubt about it. The ground is being prepared for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Zafaryab Jilani told PTI.

As activists gather in Ayodhya, some Muslim leaders have also expressed fears over the safety of their community in Ayodhya during the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ‘Dharma Sabha’.

…Another AIMPLB member Khalid Rashid Farangimahli also linked the VHP event to elections. “Even a small child knows that there is an attempt to spoil the atmosphere in the country to reap benefits at the time when assembly elections are being held in some states, and the Lok Sabha elections are due early next year,” he said.…

https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/vishwa-hindu-parishads-ayodhya-event-being-held-with-elections-in-mind-muslim-leaders/1390235/

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India Passing Through a Difficult Phase, Institutions Have Come Under Severe Strain: Pranab Mukherjee (Nov 24, 2018, News18.com)

Noting that there is disillusionment with governance and functioning of institutions, former president Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said they are a mirror of national character and must immediately win back the people’s trust to save India’s democracy.

Mukherjee, who was speaking at the inauguration of a national conference on “Towards Peace, Harmony and Happiness: Transition to transformation” here, stressed the need for maintaining the delicate balance of power between institutions and the state, as provided in the Constitution. Correctives, he said, have to come from within these institutions to restore their credibility.

“Our Constitution provides a delicate balance of power between various institutions of the state. This balance has to be maintained,” he said at the event organised by Pranab Mukherjee Foundation and the Centre for Research in Rural Development (CRRID).…

https://www.news18.com/news/india/india-passing-through-a-difficult-phase-institutions-have-come-under-severe-strain-pranab-mukherjee-1948949.html

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Tulsiram Prajapati encounter: Amit Shah, 3 IPS officers among main conspirators, say probe officer (Nov 22, 2018, Indian Express)

BJP president Amit Shah and IPS officers Dinesh M N, Rajkumar Pandiyan and D G Vanzara were the “principal conspirators” in the alleged fake encounter of Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat in 2006, a chief investigating officer of the case told a special court on Wednesday.

Sandeep Tamgadge, who investigated and supervised the case from April 2012, also said that there was a “politician-criminal” nexus, and named Amit Shah and Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria as the alleged “politicians” who had “used criminals” – Sohrabuddin Shaikh, Tulsiram and Azam Khan – to fire at the office of Popular Builders in 2004.

Shah, Kataria, Dinesh M N, Pandiyan and Vanzara – who were all named as accused in the case – were discharged by the trial court between 2014 and 2017. Tamgadge also claimed that Call Data Records (CDRs) of the accused had established their conspiracy to commit the offence.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/tulsiram-prajapati-encounter-amit-shah-3-ips-officers-among-main-conspirators-probe-officer-5458249/

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Gauri Lankesh’s murder an organised crime, journalist killed for her anti-Hindutva ideology, says SIT chargesheet (Nov 24, 2018, First Post)

The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, has named Hindu right wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha in its additional charge sheet filed before a city court. The SIT submitted the 9,235-page charge sheet in the Principal Civil and Sessions court in Bengaluru in Friday.

The charge sheet stated that a network within Sanatan Sanstha targeted Lankesh for no personal reasons. It also said the planning to kill Lankesh took place for almost five years. “The killer and the killed have no personal or any other enmity. Why she was killed? Because she believed in certain ideology, she wrote and spoke on that. So, it must be an ideology and it must be an organisation,” Special Public Prosecutor S Balan told PTI.…

The SIT has also sought permission to investigate the case further. The first charge sheet in the sensational case was filed in May last.… Soon after the then Siddaramaiah-led government constituted the SIT to probe into the killing. So far, 18 people have been accused in the crime, including shooter Parashuram Waghmare, masterminds Amol Kale, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Degwekar, SIT sources told PTI. The gang is suspected to be involved in the killing of three other rationalists MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/gauri-lankeshs-murder-an-organised-crime-journalist-killed-for-her-anti-hindutva-ideology-says-sit-chargesheet-5609001.html

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1984 anti-Sikh riots: Delhi court awards death penalty to convict, life term to another (Nov 20, 2018, Indian Express)

The Delhi Patiala House Court Tuesday awarded death sentence to Yashpal Singh and handed another convict Naresh Sherawat life imprisonment for their role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The verdict was pronounced in Tihar Jail due to security concerns. The convicts were previously attacked on the premises of the Delhi court during the hearing of the case on November 15.

This was the first conviction in five of the eight cases that were reopened and investigated by a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was constituted in 2015. The investigation into three cases involving Congress leader Sajjan Kumar are still pending.

Singh and Sherawat were convicted on November 15 for killing two Sikh youths in Delhi’s Mahipalpur area after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey held Sherawat and Singh guilty of killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh during the riots, and said that “victims of mass genocide” cannot be left in “the lurch”.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/1984-anti-sikh-riots-convict-death-sentence-5455838/

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#Chhattisgarh Elections: 145 Candidates Have Criminal Cases Against Them, 285 Are Crorepatis (Nov 21, 2018, Sabrang India)

As many as 145 out of 1,256 candidates (12%) contesting the 2018 Chhattisgarh assembly elections analysed have declared criminal cases against themselves and 98 candidates have “serious” criminal cases, according to a report by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an advocacy.

“Serious” criminal cases include attempt to murder, kidnapping & assault. This is an increase from 11% (113 of 983) in 2013, the analysis show. Crorepati candidates (assets more than Rs 1 crore) increased to 285, or 23%, from 213 (of 983 candidates analysed) in 2013.

ADR analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 1,256 of 1,269 candidates. The affidavits of 13 candidates were not analysed as they were badly scanned or complete affidavits were not available.…

https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/chhattisgarhelections-145-candidates-have-criminal-cases-against-them-285-are-crorepatis

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West Bengal School Changes ‘Islampur’ to ‘Iswarpur’, Loses Affiliation (Nov 17, 2018, News18.com)

The West Bengal government has cancelled the registration of state-run Saraswati Sishu Mandir for printing Islampur as Ishwarpur in its admission notice.

The school, run by Vidya Bharati, is located in Bengal’s North Dinajpur district at Islampur’s Netaji Palli. Recently, in their admission notices, the school had mentioned ‘Islampur’ as ‘Iswarpur’, which stoked a controversy.

State education minister Partha Chatterjee has ordered an inquiry into the matter, questioning how could a school affiliated to the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education change the name of its location from ‘Islampur’ to ‘Iswarpur’.…

https://www.news18.com/news/india/west-bengal-school-writes-islampur-as-iswarpur-in-admission-notice-govt-cancels-its-affiliation-1941699.html

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Gujarat govt asking Muslim students to identify religion (Nov 23, 2018, Mumbai Mirror)

Muslim students appearing for Class X and XII Board exams in Gujarat are being asked to identify their religion after they say they belong to the minority category. Shockingly, after a student says yes, the online form categorically asks, “Please select”. There are only two options provided. First option is ‘Muslim’. And second option is ‘Others’.

Interestingly, Gujarat has at least four other minority communities – Christians, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain – but the government is keen to know whether a minority community student is a Muslim or not.

The Board examinations are conducted by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (GSHSEB). “The forms are usually filled by the school administration. I came to know after I went to school to fill up my child’s form and saw that they had asked if we belong to the minority. When we clicked on “yes”, it offered two options: “Muslim or Others”. This left me wondering if the data gathered from online forms could be misused for something else. This has raised fear in me,” said the father of a Class 12 science student.…

https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/news/india/gujarat-govt-asking-muslim-students-to-identify-religion/articleshow/66759314.cms

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NSA Ajit Doval interfered in Asthana probe, stalled searches: CBI DIG to Supreme Court (Nov 20, 2018, Indian Express)

The internecine battle within the CBI reached the doorsteps of the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday when agency DIG Manish Kumar Sinha, moving a petition in the Supreme Court, alleged that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval interfered in investigations against Special Director Rakesh Asthana and stymied a search of his residence.

Mentioning his plea before the bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, Sinha sought urgent hearing of his petition but it was declined. On Tuesday, the bench is scheduled to take up CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea. In response to the Chief Vigilance Commissioner’s report on charges against him, Verma filed his reply Monday. Verma and Asthana, who had been at loggerheads, were divested of their responsibilities and sent on leave October 23. Both officers have approached the Supreme Court.

Claiming that his subsequent transfer to Nagpur was the fallout of the investigation against Asthana which he was overseeing, Sinha sought that the transfer order be quashed. His petition levelled serious charges against the PMO, Minister of State for Coal and Mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary and Law Secretary Suresh Chandra.…

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/nsa-ajit-doval-interfered-in-asthana-probe-stalled-searches-cbi-joint-director-mk-sinha-to-sc-5453528/

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In France, Corruption Complaint over Rafale Deal Lodged With National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (Nov 23, 2018, The Wire)

A French legal organisation that examines illicit financial flows has filed a corruption complaint over the controversial Rafale deal with France’s national financial prosecutor’s office, according to a report published in Mediapart on Friday.

According to the report, Sherpa, a French law association that describes itself as an organisation aimed at protecting and defending “victims of economic crimes”, lodged a complaint at the end of October with the prosecutor’s office.

The complaint is aimed at clarifying the “condition under which 36 combat aircraft produced by Dassault Aviation were sold to India in 2016” and the “choice of its Indian partner, Reliance”.…

https://thewire.in/government/in-france-corruption-complaint-over-rafale-deal-lodged-with-national-financial-prosecutors-office

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Opinions and Editorials

RSS’ endgame in Ayodhya – By A.G. Noorani (Dec 7, 2018, Frontline)

“I visited Ayodhya on 29 December 1992, in connection with the proposed acquisition of land and to review the law and order arrangements in the light of the earlier decision to permit darshan. Unlike other visitors from Delhi in the past who took darshan at the Ram Lalla temple and offered pooja there, I did not do so, nor did I accept any prasad. Though a devout person myself, I believe that one’s religion is a personal matter. In any case, I had enough of Ayodhya and sincerely believed that God could not reside in that temple, the construction of which was associated with so much deceit and wanton violence” (Madhav Godbole, Unfinished Innings, page 406).

The skulduggery at work on Ayodhya by the Narendra Modi government was made all too clear by “a top government functionary” who spoke to Hindustan Times recently. A report published on its web edition on November 5 said that he “reaffirmed the government’s commitment to a Ram temple at Ayodhya a week after the Supreme Court deferred the hearing of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case to January, provoking calls for a law or an ordinance from Hindu groups to facilitate the building of a temple at the disputed site.

“Just as the courts are authorised to rule on a matter of dispute, the government of the day can change the premise on which a judgment is based to render it null and void, the senior government functionary said on Monday [November 5], responding to questions on whether a law or an ordinance for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya is possible before the next parliamentary election.…

https://www.frontline.in/the-nation/article25547526.ece

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Election Watch Chhattisgarh: This is how BJP is gaming the vote counts – By Anuj Shrivastava (Nov 22, 2018, Sabrang India)

Every BJP worker in Chhattisgarh knows that situations are dire for the party during this election. The officers who trust the management have planned something to win on the day votes will be counted. If you are a voter in Chhattisgarh, the following things will happen on that day. If Congress, the election commission and the vote counters are aggressive and alert, they still have time to liberate the state from BJP.

With the help of administrative officials, BJP will play its games in those seats in constituencies where there is a match between three different factions. BJP also has eyes on those seats where Congress won in the last election with a less margin. You must have noticed that many places had defunct and damaged EVM machines on the day of voting. The conspiracy was to damage the machines so that the people who came early morning to vote would not return to cast them.

The party knows that the people are disappointed with the rule and how the party has conducted itself in the last five years. They would want to take revenge the first chance they get by voting as early as possible. It should be noted that most machines went defunct in the 8-11 am slot. Most damaged machines were found in the areas with a strong Congress hold. It was Congress who complained to the EC that EVMs were not functioning. Did BJP complain about anything? Remember that all the damaged machines were from Gujarat. The same region from where PM Modi shouts about Digital India.…

https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/election-watch-chhattisgarh-how-bjp-gaming-vote-counts

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Haren Pandya murder: Big guns free; lower rank officers, constabulary face music – By RK Misra (Nov 19, 2018, Counterview)

Ghosts from the past have an uncanny way of turning up in the present with immense potential to blight the future of the most powerful. On November 3, a key witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case told a Mumbai court that the murder of senior BJP leader and a former Gujarat minister Haren Pandya in 2003 was a contract killing executed at the behest of former IPS officer DG Vanzara.

The deposition of Azam Khan, an Udaipur based small time gangster before the CBI court has brought to life the most speculated and worst-kept secret of the time – that the murder of the up and coming Gujarat BJP leader was a political extermination at the behest of some of the most powerful in the land of the Mahatma.…

Khan, though, had said during further cross-examination, that he had told the CBI officer, NS Raju about the contract killing but it was not taken on record on the pretext of not creating new complications. The revelation about Pandya’s killings surfaced in the course of the proceedings in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake killing case in 2005, in which Vanzara was an accused with the then minister of state for home Amit Shah, and IPS officers Raj Kumar Pandiyan and Dinesh MN.…

https://www.counterview.net/2018/11/haren-pandya-murder-big-guns-free-lower.html

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Justice, 34 years on: on the conviction in the anti-Sikh riots case – Editorial (Nov 22, 2018, The Hindu)

The conviction of two rioters for their role in the 1984 anti-Sikh violence in Delhi marks a rare success in the long struggle to bring the perpetrators to justice. Of particular significance is that this case, relating to a mob attack on shop-keepers in Mahipalpur, was resurrected after being closed as ‘untraced’ in 1994. The attack with deadly weapons left two Sikhs dead and three wounded.

The Central government’s decision in 2015 to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to reopen serious cases related to the 1984 riots has yielded results. Yashpal Singh, a goods transporter, has now been sentenced to death, and Naresh Sehrawat, the local postman when the mob attack took place, to life. The trial court has rightly brushed aside minor discrepancies in evidence and technical objections to the fresh investigation being taken up, and concluded that the testimony of key witnesses, who were themselves injured, was cogent and reliable.

It is possible to argue that there is little justice, or even meaning, in securing the conviction of those who may have been sucked into the mob frenzy that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination. However, it cannot be forgotten that obtaining a conviction in instances of communal and sectarian riots is quite rare. Investigators and prosecutors seldom succeed in nailing political leaders and their key henchmen. Impunity for participants in pogroms has been the norm, and successful prosecution the rare exception. The last time a person involved in the anti-Sikh riots was sentenced to death was in 1996. But Kishori Lal, known as ‘the butcher of Trilokpuri’, managed to get his death sentence commuted to life.…

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/justice-34-years-on/article25560525.ece

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National Register of Citizens: Old Divides and New Fissures – By Sajal Nag (Nov 24, 2018, EPW)

Five Bengali Hindus were massacred by unknown gunmen on 2 November 2018 raising the spectre of potential violence that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) could unleash. It brings back the memories of the anti-Bengali riots of 1948, 1954, 1955, 1960, and the murder of Rabi Mitra, Anjan Chakraborty, Nellie and Gohpur carnage that occurred during the anti-foreign national movement.

While all sections of people have condemned the violence, the Assamese are steadfastly behind the updated NRC which has listed 4,00,707 persons, most of whom are Bengalis, both Hindu and Muslim, to be illegal migrants to Assam and face the prospect of being deported or declared stateless. Interestingly, while there is widespread criticism against the move across the world, none of the Assamese intellectuals, of any ideological shade, have critiqued it indicating their support.

Statelessness is being seen as a profound violation of human rights which is one of the most urgent humanitarian concerns of the 21st century. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that “Everyone has the right to a nationality” and that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.” Despite this guarantee, the prospect of living without a nationality or citizenship is a growing concern all over the world and now Assam joins the scenario.…

https://www.epw.in/journal/2018/46/commentary/national-register-citizens.html

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A standoff that is hurting – By C.P. Chandrasekhar (Dec 7, 2018, Frontline)

Unlike in the worlds of business and politics, there is little scope for gossip in the world of economics. So, when multiple signals suggested that there was a standoff between the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the media made the most of it, with a multitude of stories reporting and explaining the nature of the spat and its implications. Given the formal economic arguments that must enter those discussions, there is much that the lay reader cannot process to assess which of the two institutions is right in this controversy.

However, the thrust of the reportage has been that the two institutions are working at cross purposes on issues varying from banking regulation to control over the payments system and rights over the central bank’s surpluses, and that the government is trespassing into what is sacred space reserved for technocrat central bankers and undermining the independence of the central bank. That is not all correct.…

There is no overriding consensus on what objectives should govern central bank practices and what those practices should be. But finance capital and its advocates have argued for a kind of central bank independence in which one kind of policy frame is the only one acceptable. “Reformist” governments committed to pleasing finance have accepted this recommendation. And, so has the Government of India.…

https://www.frontline.in/columns/C_P_Chandrasekhar/article25547542.ece

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Book Review

Partitions of the Hearts: Unmaking the Idea of India

Author: Harsh Mander
Reviewed by: Ziya Us Salam
Available at: Penguin Random House, 7th Floor, C, Infinity Tower, DLF Cyber City, DLF Phase 1, Sector 24, Gurugram, Haryana 122002. https://www.amazon.co.uk/
Review:
Challenge to pluralism (Dec 7, 2018, Frontline)

…The activist Harsh Mander along with the senior journalist-activist John Dayal went to meet Junaid’s father, Jalaluddin.… In the prologue of Partitions of the Hearts: Unmaking the Idea of India, Mander recounts his experience of trying to be one with the family in silent solidarity. … This is probably the cruellest lasting legacy of the Narendra Modi government. What was the fate of Sikhs in 1984 is the fate of Muslims in the Modi era.…

In this moment, India is being unmade, nibbled at, pierced through. Hatred and bigotry are becoming the new normal. Proof is self-evident and all around us at railway stations, markets, offices and television studios. All closet communalists are out, masquerading as great nationalists, indulging in hate speech, terrorising the innocent and partaking in mob violence. Muslims and Christians are treated as second-class citizens; a Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman on a television show makes a naked threat to rename a mosque after Vishnu, another objects to Christmas choirs in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Even Dalits and women are demonised.

The soul of India – which extolled Asoka only after the Kalinga war, which sought to emulate Akbar and not Aurangzeb, and which felt inspired by the words of the Mahatma while consigning those of V.D. Savarkar and K.B. Hedgewar to the dustbin of history – is under relentless attack. It is to this wounded soul of India that Mander draws our attention.… Yet, Partitions of the Heart goes way beyond instances of lynching and state apathy, even collusion. The author talks in detail too about encounter killings, love jehad, a series of communal riots and goes as far back as the Gulberg Society massacre that took place before the Gujarat model was promoted as an ideal of development.…

https://www.frontline.in/books/article25546797.ece