IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 5th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Delhi HC sentences 16 ex-cops to life imprisonment in Hashimpura massacre case (Oct 31, 2018, The Tribune)

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sentenced 16 ex-policemen to life imprisonment for killing 42 people of a minority community in the 1987 Hashimpura massacre case in Uttar Pradesh. A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel reversed the trial court’s verdict which had acquitted the accused.

The high court convicted 16 former Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel for murder and of kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code. All the 16 convicts have retired from service.

It termed the massacre “targeted killing” of unarmed and defenceless people by the police. The high court’s verdict came on pleas challenging a trial court’s decision to acquit 16 policemen of charges of murder and other crimes in the case.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/delhi-hc-sentences-16-ex-cops-to-life-imprisonment-in-hashimpura-massacre-case/676673.html

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Lynching spree continues: 80 year old Muslim lynched and burnt alive during Durga Pooja procession in Bihar (Nov 3, 2018, Times Headline)

In a shocking incident, 80-year-old Muslim man was lynched on October 20 while returning from his daughter’s house during a Durga Puja procession. On 20 October, Bihar’s Sitamarhi witnessed clashes between two groups after a Durga Puja procession was not allowed to pass through a particular area, resulting in the death of one person.

Zainul Ansari was dragged and beaten by the mob and then burnt alive. The incident was mostly ignored even though it happened in broad daylight but now pictures and videos have gone gone viral on social media. The Police have confirmed Ansari was innocent and was targeted while passing through the Durga Pooja procession. Vikash Burman, the Superintendent of Police, Sitamarhi, told The Quint, “Ansari was not part of the two warring sides. He was likely targeted by the mob when he was in the locality.”

Ansari’s burnt corpse was discovered two days later when a Missing Person report was filed. As per police sources, six FIRs were filed in the matter and 38 people have been arrested so far.Ironically, the cyber crime cell of the police have also sent a notice to Millat Times, the first news portal to have reported the incident, requesting them to take down the video of the incident.

https://timesheadline.com/india/lynching-spree-continues-80-year-old-muslim-lynched-and-burnt-alive-during-durga-pooja-procession-in-bihar-25470.html

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Sohrabuddin Case: The Plot Thickens as New Testimony Throws Fresh Light on Haren Pandya’s Murder (Nov 5, 2018, News Click)

After 15 years, the murder mystery of Haren Pandya, former Gujarat Revenue Minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet, in 2003, has deepened with a witness in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh ‘fake encounter’ case claiming that that the BJP leader was killed on orders from ex-Gujarat IPS officer D N Vanzara. At the time of his murder, Pandya was neither an MLA or MP, as he had fallen out with Modi. Shaikh was later finished off in an alleged encounter.…

Pandya, who had critiqued Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was killed in March 2003 when he was going to the Law Gardens in Ahmedabad for his morning walk. As per reports, as he parked his white Maruti car, a man came and shot him through the window of his car. According to the Outlook, Pandya had deposed to a Citizen’s Tribunal looking into the killings of around 2,000 Muslims during the Gujarat riots, which had raised Modi’s hackles.

“More than four years after the minister’s death, Justice Hosbet Suresh, retired judge of the Bombay High Court, confirms his identity: “The minister who deposed before us in the Concerned Citizens Tribunal was Haren Pandya, then a cabinet minister in the Modi government. Pandya told us two important things. One was about the meeting on February 27.” The judge says Pandya said the senior most police officials were told by Modi that they should expect a Hindu reaction. “They were also told they should do nothing to contain this reaction,” says the article.…

https://www.newsclick.in/sohrabuddin-case-plot-thickens-new-testimony-throws-fresh-light-haren-pandyas-murder

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In the Babri Case, the ‘Heavens Have Already Fallen’ and the Title Suit Can Wait (Oct 30, 2018, The Wire)

On Monday, the bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph disclosed that the appeals against the 2010 Allahabad high court judgment in the Babri Masjid title dispute will be listed before the “appropriate bench” in January next year and that bench will decide the schedule of hearing of the case. The announcement has led to intense speculation about whether the case would be heard and decided before the next Lok Sabha elections, scheduled in May 2019, with some blaming the Supreme Court for the inordinate delay in hearing the matter.…

The Supreme Court is not and cannot be anxious about fast-tracking a case merely because it has been pending for so many years without resolution, or that its outcome is likely to influence the results of a general election. The court’s calendar depends on the nature of cases coming before it, and the merits and the urgency of the prayers of the petitioner, as understood by the judges hearing them. After concluding a hearing, the judges are entitled to spend some more time in writing their judgments. While prioritising a case over others, the question which the judges generally ask themselves is whether the case involves the liberties of a citizen, or an impending development (such as an execution or demolition) which cannot later be reversed.

In other words, “will heavens fall?” if the case is heard and decided in its natural course, is the appropriate question to ask in the Ayodhya title dispute. The answer, if the history of the dispute is any indication – a senior counsel once observed during the hearing of the case that “the heavens have already fallen” in this case, alluding to the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 – is that there is nothing more to be lost if the court’s calendar means any delay to some parties.

https://thewire.in/law/babri-masjid-ayodhya-land-title-suit

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OUTRAGE at India spending £330MILLION on GIANT BRONZE STATUE as UK gave £1billion in aid (Nov 4, 2018, Express)

Britons are outraged after the Indian government spent hundreds of millions of pounds on a giant bronze statue while the Uk was sending £1.17billion in overseas aid to the country. While the UK was sending India £1.17billion in aid, the Indian government was spending nearly half that amount on the world’s tallest statue. …

Construction began in 2012 when the UK sent India nearly £300million. Then, in 2013, the UK sent another £268billion followed by £278million in 2014 and £185million in 2015. Since then, the UK has sent India smaller sums. While this money was coming in, India was spending much of it to build the 579ft bronze replica of a hero of India’s independence movement, Sardar Patel.

In response to this, Tory MP Peter Bone said: “To take £1.1billion in aid from us and then at the same time spend £330million on a statue is a total nonsense and it is the sort of thing that drives people mad. “What it proves is that we should not be giving money to India. “It is up to them how they spend their money but if they can afford this statue, then it is clearly a country we should not need to be giving aid to.”…

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1040537/foreign-aid-UK-india-330-million-giant-bronze-statue-sardar-patel

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Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Among 7 Charged In 2008 Malegaon Blast Case (Oct 30, 2018, NDTV)

A special court in Mumbai on Tuesday framed charges against Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five others under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and several sections in the September 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case.

Judge Vinod Padalkar, presiding over the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, framed charges against the accused persons. Under the UAPA, the accused have been charged with being part of a terrorist act, and under IPC they have been charged with criminal conspiracy and murder. Framing of charges is a process after which the trial in a criminal case starts.

Apart from Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya, the other accused in Malegaon blast case are Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni.…

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/2008-malegaon-blast-case-lt-col-prasad-purohit-sadhvi-pragya-others-charged-with-terror-conspiracy-m-1939899

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CBI Officer Who Was Investigating Rakesh Asthana Moves SC Against Transfer, Claims Bribery Proof (Oct 30, 2018, News18.com)

AK Bassi, the CBI officer who was investigating corruption allegations against the agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana, has moved the Supreme Court seeking an SIT probe in the Moin Qureshi case. Bassi was transferred to Port Blair following the upheaval in the CBI last week when Asthana and agency director Alok Verma were divested of all charges.

In his petition before the apex court, Bassi has challenged his transfer and claimed that he has “incriminating” evidence against Asthana. He told the top court on Tuesday that he has evidence of Rs 3.3 crore bribe paid to those mentioned in the FIR. He has cited WhatsApp messages and calls as evidence.…

The Delhi High Court has directed the CBI to maintain status quo till November 1 on the criminal proceedings initiated against Asthana, who has challenged the FIR lodged against him.…

https://www.news18.com/news/india/cbi-officer-who-was-investigating-rakesh-asthana-moves-sc-for-sit-probe-claims-proof-of-rs-3-3-cr-bribe-1924051.html

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CIC Issues Show-Cause Notice To RBI Guv For Not Disclosing Names Of Big Loan Defaulters Under RTI (Nov 4, 2018, Outlook)

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued a show-cause notice to RBI Governor Urjit Patel for not disclosing names of big loan defaulters under RTI. The CIC has also asked the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to make public the letter of former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan on bad loans.

Irked over the denial of information on the disclosure of the names of wilful defaulters who have taken bank loans of Rs 50 crore and above by the RBI in spite of a Supreme Court order, the CIC has asked Patel to explain why a maximum penalty be not imposed on him for “dishonouring” the verdict which had upheld a decision taken by then Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, calling for disclosure of names of wilful defaulters.

Patel, speaking on September 20 at the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), had said the guidelines on vigilance, issued by the CVC, were aimed at achieving greater transparency, promoting a culture of honesty and probity in public life and improving the overall vigilance administration in the organisations within its purview, the CIC pointed out.…

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/cic-issues-show-cause-notice-to-rbi-guv-for-not-disclosing-names-of-big-loan-defaulters-under-rti/319597

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Ramachandra Guha: How the right wing hounded out a Gandhi biographer (Nov 3, 2018, BBC)

…”It is important to recognise that there was never a golden age in our history as an independent nation of complete tolerance or freedom of speech,” Guha said. “There have always been curbs and pusillanimity by politicians and governments. But we are certainly becoming more intolerant, there is more violence.”

Now Guha himself has become a target of the intolerance he spoke about. Barely a fortnight ago, he announced that he was joining an ambitious private non-profit university in the western city of Ahmedabad as a professor of humanities.… On Thursday, Guha tweeted that he would not join the new position due to “circumstances beyond his control”.…

Now it appears that Guha was hounded out by the Hindu right wing in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and widely regarded as BJP’s bailiwick. A leader of the the student wing of the local BJP told the Indian Express newspaper that they had met an Ahmedabad University official and told him they didn’t want Guha to teach in the city.… They say it is a new form of intolerance driven by majoritarian vales, where dissent and criticism is labelled as “anti-national”, encouraging a climate of hate and distrust. This is what is profoundly disturbing about hounding out a scholar from doing his job.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-46069120

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‘Sabarimala Issue Our Agenda, A Golden Opportunity For Us’: Row Over Kerala BJP Chief’s Video (Nov 5, 2018, Outlook)

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kerala state president P S Sreedharan Pillai has courted controversy after his speech at a Yuva Morcha meeting was aired by a local television channel in which he claimed that Sabarimala issue was a “BJP agenda” and a “golden opportunity” for the party. In his speech, Pillai also claimed that Sabarimala tantri’s open statement that he would shut the temple if women of barred age group attempted to enter the shrine was a result of an assurance given to him by the BJP president.

According to the report by Manorama TV, Pillai said that during the Sabarimala agitation the tantri had asked him whether shutting down the temple would be a case of contempt of court. Pillai claimed that he then assured the tantri that it wouldn’t be a contemp of court and that he wouldn’t be alone in this. He also said that now it has become a fight between the BJP and the ruling party, leaving others aside.

He also said that it was the BJP who planned the protests at Sabarimala. “It is a golden opportunity for us. We put an agenda forward. Others fell in line after it one by one. At the end, only us, the government and the ruling party remain,” he said.…

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/sabarimala-issue-our-agenda-a-golden-opportunity-for-us-video-of-kerala-bjp-presidents-speech-courts-controversy/319633

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Opinions and Editorials

Hashimpura: 31 years after custodial massacre of Muslims by men in uniform, justice is incomplete – By Harsh Mander (Nov 2, 2018, Scroll.in)

…On October 31, a bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justices S Murlidhar and Vinod Goel set aside the trial court judgment of 2015 that had acquitted 16 soldiers of the Uttar Pradesh’s Provincial Armed Constabulary for their role in the murder of the men. The court instead sentenced them to imprisonment for the rest of their lives. “We hold that this was targeted killing by armed forces of the unarmed, innocent and defenceless members of a particular community,” the judges said.

October 31 will therefore go down as a day of great significance, a moment of redemption, not just in India’s judicial history but also in the country’s rocky moral journey as a secular and just land. The story of what is probably independent India’s biggest case of custodial killing has been a blisteringly shameful one, of murderous hatred and religious prejudice by men in uniform, of disgraceful cover-ups by the executive at the highest levels in the central and state governments, of the deliberate destruction of evidence, of media apathy, and of communal bias, prevarication and unconscionable delays in the judiciary.…

…even today, 31 years after the custodial massacre by men in uniform, justice is still only partial. The foot soldiers will perhaps spend their remaining lives in jail. The 64 officers found guilty by the Crime Branch-Central Investigation Department of ordering or enabling the killing, those who destroyed the evidence, those senior political and police leaders who protected the killers, all have escaped punishment.…

https://scroll.in/article/900594/hashimpura-31-years-after-custodial-massacre-of-muslims-by-men-in-uniform-justice-is-incomplete

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Twenty-five years later – No justice for the 1984 survivors – By Vrinda Grover (Nov 2, 2018, Sabrang India)

Delivering judgement in a 1984 anti-Sikh communal massacre case, a Delhi trial court observed, “After the assassination of late Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, anti-Sikh riots broke out in different areas of the capital, killing thousands of Sikhs. [The] law and order machinery was completely paralysed because of inaction/connivance of the police… In the name of investigation a farce was carried out… It seems the prosecution expected that the trial will be equally a farce and cases would be summarily disposed of thereby drawing a curtain on the legal drama.”

Today we are confronted with a peculiar schism where the truth of who are the perpetrators and masterminds of the communal pogrom of 1984 is part of public knowledge but it invariably fails to translate into proof beyond reasonable doubt in courts of law.

In the aftermath of the anti-Sikh pogrom, victims have approached the criminal justice system, seeking punishment for the guilty. The consequent judicial verdicts demonstrate that wanton killings and looting in communal pogroms invariably end in acquittals, barring a few rare convictions.…

https://sabrangindia.in/article/twenty-five-years-later-no-justice-1984-survivors

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Courts and Babri Masjid – By A.G. Noorani (Nov 9, 2018, Frontline)

…The Supreme Court of India is all set to rush headlong into a judicial mire of old on October 29, 2018, which will blow up the remnants of the warped judicial process on the Babri Masjid since 1949, the fundamentals of our secular polity, public confidence in the court and the court’s prestige and indeed, self-esteem. The course of the judicial process was diverted by the Special Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Lucknow, which dealt with the case in willful disobedience of the Supreme Court.

The court might pause to recall that, let alone the courts in Uttar Pradesh, its own record in this case has been a pathetic one. But for the indulgence shown by the then Chief Justice of India (CJI) M.N. Venkatachaliah and Justice G.N. Ray, the mosque would not have been demolished on December 6, 1992.

Chief Minister Kalyan Singh was allowed to go scot-free with violations of the Supreme Court’s stay order of November 25, 1991, and the High Court’s order of July 15, 1992. He was hauled up for contempt of court only on October 24, 1994, a day before the CJI retired. He repeatedly ignored the warnings delivered by the Attorney General Milon K. Banerjee. At one stage, the CJI expressed tender concern for the welfare of the kar sevaks who had assembled at the site. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government made him Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, whose report no one cites.…

https://www.frontline.in/the-nation/communalism/article25296110.ece

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What the World’s Tallest Statue Says About the World’s Biggest Democracy – By Abhishyant Kidangoor (Oct 31, 2018, Time)

…not everyone in the nation is thrilled by the gargantuan effigy, which took 33 months to build, at a cost of $400 million, in a public-private venture that was partially crowdfunded. Just hours before the unveiling, close to the site, crowds of farmers and members of tribal communities chanted slogans and tore down posters of the statue in protest against what they see a colossal waste of money.…

Critics say that the BJP, which was founded in 1951, is trying to appropriate Patel’s legacy and aura because it cannot number any preeminent independence leaders among its past members. “For a party that claims to do everything in the name of the nation, they don’t have a past to invoke,” Sucheta Mahajan, professor at the Center of Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, tells TIME.

Even worse, the BJP does have a connection to the assassin of independence icon Mahatma Gandhi, who was slain in 1948. Gandhi’s killer, Nathuram Godse, had been a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the paramilitary Hindu organization regarded as the parent of the BJP. …

http://time.com/5434131/worlds-tallest-statue-unity-india-patel/

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When Manmohan took Modi to task – By Ziya Us Salam (Oct 27, 2018, Frontline)

Two book launches on October 26 brought to light the changing colours of Indian polity. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s book The Paradoxical Prime Minister gave plenty of opportunity to political leaders of parties other than the Bharatiya Janata Party to express their disappointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Finding his range was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who accused Modi of failing the electorate and eroding voters’ faith in the institutions of Indian democracy. Manmohan Singh, himself derided for his alleged silence as Prime Minister, attacked Modi for his deafening silence on a series of incidents of communal violence, cow vigilantism and cow lynching.

Manmohan Singh also alleged that the environment in the country’s universities and national institutions such as the CBI had been vitiated under the Modi government. “In 2014, Narendra Modi was elected 14th Prime Minister of India on the back of many lofty promises he made to the people. In the past four years, Modi ji and his government have failed the electorate and eroded the voters’ faith,” Manmohan Singh said and added that Modi was a paradoxical Prime Minister, as accurately described by Tharoor in his book.…

https://www.frontline.in/incoming/article25346801.ece

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Is State co-ordinator Prateek Hajela hell-bent on derailing the NRC? – By Zamser Ali (Oct 30, 2018, Sabrang India)

The exclusion from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the subsequent labelling of being a “foreigner”, fighting court battles to prove India citizenship and the humiliation faced in detention camps has wreaked havoc in the lives of Assamese people. The rising suicide rates are causing alarm in the state. If this was not enough, a report filed by the State co-ordinator of the NRC in Assam, Prateek Hajela, will make matters worse.

Hajela submitted a bureaucratic and xenophobic report to the Supreme Court on Oct 4. The exclusionary report was regarding the process of validating and correcting documents and details for the final and updated NRC draft. His suggestions to reduce the number of core documents needed for verification from 15 to 10 will cause further anguish to people who are finding it hard to identify themselves using legacy documents that are old, illegible and contain misspellings from the first time such a list was created, in 1951 and 1971.…

The solution Hajela offers is to scrap pre-1971 voter rolls and the 1951 National Register of Citizens, which disqualifies a large number of Assam’s vulnerable groups who only had these documents to prove their rightful citizenship. These are the original documents being updated in the whole NRC exercise in the first place. Even a minor clerical error could mean a citizen will be labelled foreigner. …

https://sabrangindia.in/article/nrc-state-co-ordinator-prateek-hajelas-sc-report-xenophobic-and-exclusionary

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Book Review

The Sarkari Mussalman: The Life and Travails of a Soldier Educationist

Author: Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah
Reviewed by: Ziya Us Salam
Available at: Konark Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 206, First Floor, Peacock Lane, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi – 110049 india@konarkpublishers.com. https://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Gujarat: A soldier’s testimony (Nov 9, 2018, Frontline)

Zameer Uddin Shah, a retired Lieutenant General of the Indian Army, does not suffer fools easily. A quintessential Army man, he has no patience for prevarication either.… His memoir The Sarkari Mussalman: The Life and Travails of a Soldier Educationist, published by the New Delhi-based Konark Publishers and released on October 13, has upset more than a few people and has grabbed the attention of many. And politicians have begun to murmur about him. Far from a soaked-in-nostalgia memoir, The Sarkari Mussalman has shifted the attention once again to the 2002 anti-Muslim pogorm in Gujarat.…

Although, as Gen. Padmanabhan says, things were “soon brought under control”, they could have been done sooner. Zameer writes: “When we were approaching Ahmedabad airfield I observed that the city was aflame. There were fires burning all across the city. We landed on a dark and deserted airfield. The Deputy GOC of the lodger formation received me. I asked, ‘Where are the vehicles and other logistic support we had been promised?’ He shrugged his shoulders and replied that the State government was making the necessary arrangement.”

Zameer then decided to reach Chief Minister Narendra Modi at his residence. Along the way, he found rampaging mobs, the police standing as mute spectators. He gave his list of immediate requirements to the Chief Minister to enable the Army columns to restore law and order and returned to the airfield. By March 1, 2002, there were 3,000 troops but no vehicles to carry them. “There was no transport to take them to the riot-affected city. So they remained at the airfield. These were crucial hours lost. Our road columns reached on 2 March and so did the requisitioned civil trucks, magistrates, police guides and maps.” That is when the Army could swing into action. And the violence was soon curbed. It is a version of the Gujarat violence that has upset many people. While some have questioned Zameer’s long silence on the subject, others have read political motives into it.…

https://www.frontline.in/books/article25298750.ece