IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 7th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Youth in UP bridging harmony (Oct 2, 2013, Hindustan Times)

Drawing inspiration from Shia and Sunni youths, more and more people, even Hindus, are doing their bit as police mitras to spread the message of peace in Old City. They have joined the initiative, as they too face problems every time sectarian clashes hit the sensitive areas of the city.

“Many localities in Old City have a mixed population. All people are equally affected by the trouble in the area. The business of shopkeepers belonging to different sects and religions is badly affected. Many times their shops are vandalised or set on fire during violence,” said Surya Prakash Mishra, 34, a Hindu volunteer (police mitra), from Thakurganj.

At least 45 people were injured and around 15 makeshift shops were vandalized during the sectarian violence during Ramzan in July this year. Mishra , who runs a school in the area, is spreading the message of peace through kids. He said the children have to miss school whenever the Old City is tense and this hinders their studies.

He said, “Kids are the best ambassadors of peace. I always ask them to forward the message of harmony to their parents, family members, relatives and friends.” Mishra said he has also asked teachers to promote communal harmony. Mishra said most of his friends were Muslims and he never had problems with them despite the flare-ups in Old City. “I do not feel that any religion promotes things, which create trouble for others. Why become puppets in the hands of some people and get involved in violence,” he emphasised.

His friend Mohd Shoaib, 22, has also joined the initiative. “He has formed a group of youths from both sects of the minority community and other communities who will assist in the peace mission,” added Mishra. “So far, 20 youths have joined in. But the group is growing by the day,” he said, adding that he had joined hands with the police, as he was fed up of this ‘annual trend’ and wanted to end it desperately.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1129956.aspx

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Modi vs CBI: Is the saffron fold jittery about law catching up their own ‘the one’ leader? (Oct 1, 2013, India Today)

Last week, when Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in Bhopal that the Central Bureau of Investigation, and not the Congress, would contest the next general elections, his fears looked profound, even if not founded. “The Congress party is not going to field candidates in the elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi and the next Lok Sabha polls. The Congress will not fight the next Lok Sabha elections but will field the CBI instead,” said Modi while addressing a congregation of BJP workers in the Madhya Pradesh capital on September 25.

However, this week saw a couple of court verdicts felling big trees in the UPA camp – key ally and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was convicted in the 1996 fodder scam on Monday and Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Rasheed Masood was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday. Masood, as Health Minister in the National Front government of 1990, had fraudulently nominated undeserving candidates to MBBS seats allotted to Tripura, in medical colleges across the country from the central pool. He has now earned the dubious distinction of being the first MP to be disqualified after a recent Supreme Court judgment removed the immunity for convicted lawmakers. While the recent court verdicts should have ideally dispelled, to some extent, Modi’s fears of the investigating agency being misused by the ruling party in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, these have instead pushed the men in the saffron fold to the ledge.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley has now alleged that the CBI is being misused to target and implicate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in fake encounter cases to gain political mileage. In a nine-page letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jaitley has alleged that the CBI relied on false testimonies and arrested former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah without any prosecutable evidence. Referring to the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case in his letter, Jaitley wrote: “The probable purpose of the CBI in this case was to try and implicate the political establishment of Gujarat, setting aside the pretence of federal character of India’s governance. The CBI targeted Amit Shah with the ultimate desire of implicating Modi.”

In his letter, the BJP leader also said that in the Ishrat Jahan case, the investigating agency struck deals with some suspects to trap others. Jaitley concluded by demanding a thorough probe by a panel led by a Supreme Court judge into charges of politicisation of the CBI probe into cases of alleged fake encounters in Gujarat. It appears the saffron fold is working hard to spoil the UPA’s alleged plans to snare their “the one” leader, or shall we say the recent court verdicts have given them gooseflesh about the law catching up with Modi too soon?

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/narendra-modi-vs-cbi-congress-vs-bjp-gujarat-riots-2014-lok-sabha-polls/1/312676.html

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Mystery of Modi’s silence: Some of his key associates may get disqualified (Oct 4, 2013, Hindustan Times)

Why did Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, not say anything on immediate disqualification of convicted legislators? When Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi came out on September 27 against his own party to criticise the ordinance for protecting convicted law-makers, the response from Modi was ridicule for “shahzada (prince)”. But he was curiously silent on whether the ordinance should actually be torn up and thrown away, as Gandhi suggested at a press conference. The reason is simple. Some of Modi’s aides and too many BJP legislators in Gujarat face the same fate as Lalu Prasad of the RJD and Rasheed Masood of the Congress.

“Of the 182 candidates who got elected in the Gujarat assembly in 2012, 31% or 57 MLAs have criminal cases against them,” said Jagdeep Chhokar of Gujarat Election Watch (GEW). GEW is an initiative of the Association for Democratic Reforms, set up by professors of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad and civil society members. According to GEW, of the 57 legislators, 24 have “very serious” charges against them. And among the top 10, six are from the BJP stable. Not only MLAs, sitting BJP MPs, such as Prabhatsinh Chauhan from Panchmahal and Vithal Radadia from Porbandar, are facing serious criminal charges.

The most crucial blow that Modi may have to take if things do not go his way is disqualification of his closest aide, BJP general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh Amit Shah. A key accused in the confinement and fake encounters of gangster Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi and accomplice Tulsiram Prajapati, Shah is at present out on bail and campaigning in UP. One of the CBI lawyers handling Shah’s case – transferred to the Mumbai CBI court so that he could not influence the investigation or the witnesses – said the CBI was likely to approach the Supreme Court for cancelling Shah’s bail.

“Besides the Sohrabuddin case, Shah is also under the CBI scanner for two other fake encounters of Ishrat Jahan and Sadiq Jamal,” said lawyer Mukul Sinha, fighting for the victims’ families. Ishrat Jahan, a Mumbai college student, and three of her alleged accomplices – Gujarat police claimed they were terrorists – were killed by the police in Ahmedabad in 2004. Sadiq Jamal, also branded as a terrorist, was killed in 2003 by Gujarat police’s crime branch. Another close Modi associate and former minister, gynaecologist Maya Kodnani, was convicted by a special trial court for leading a mob that killed 97 people in Naroda Patiya during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

What’s more, a senior minister in Modi’s cabinet, Babu Bokhiria, was convicted by a trial court in a ’54-crore illegal limestone mining scam this year. Bokhiria continues to be a minister. Another member of the Modi cabinet, Purushottam Solanki, is facing investigation for allegedly giving away 50 fisheries contracts without going through the tendering process. He hasn’t yet been charged. Also, the CBI is investigating the role Junagarh MP Dinu Solanki of the BJP allegedly played in the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa, who had exposed Solanki and his relatives’ role in an illegal mining scam. So, since the July 10 order of the Supreme Court has enough firepower to wipe out a considerable portion of Narendra Modi’s mothership, his silence was eloquent.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1130747.aspx

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People who razed Babri mosque talking about toilets: Azam Khan on Narendra Modi (Oct 5, 2013, Times of India)

Uttar Pradesh urban development minister Mohd Azam Khan has lashed out at Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for his comments that he preferred toilets to temples.

The minister said in the temple town of Faizabad late on Friday that it was unfortunate that people who razed the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992 were talking about toilets.

“It is rather unfortunate that sentiments attached to religion and prayers are being scoffed at in such a manner,” he told reporters.

“This is nothing but a reflection of the mentality such people have,” he said, referring to Modi’s comment in New Delhi that he preferred “sauchalaya to devalayas”.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/23574129.cms

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CBI likely to quiz Amit Shah again (Oct 3, 2013, Asian Age)

The CBI is likely to question former Gujarat’s minister of state for home, Amit Shah, again in connection with the Tulsiram Prajapati encounter case. According to sources the agency is contemplating seeking clarification from Shah again following the recent examination of the brother of the fake encounter victim Soharbuddin Sheikh, Rubabuddin. CBI recently examined Rubabuddin in connection with allegations that senior BJP leaders conspired to derail probe in Tulsi Prajapati’s extra-judicial killing in which former Gujarat minister Amit Shah is an accused.

Rubabuddin was called as witness in connection with sting conducted by an independent journalist who had alleged that senior BJP leaders wanted to sabotage the investigations in Tulsi Prajati fake encounter case. The journalist had alleged that senior BJP leaders managed to get undated blank “Vakalatnamas” from Prajapati’s mother Narmadabai to allegedly subvert the judicial proceedings.

Tulsiram was gunned down in a fake encounter by the Gujarat police’s anti-terrorist squad, which later claimed that he had come to the city to eliminate the then chief minister Narendra Modi. Tulsiram, who is believed to be an eyewitness in the alleged Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, was killed when he allegedly tried to escape from the custody while being shifted back to Gujarat from Rajasthan after attending a court trial.

He was killed in an encounter on December 28, 2006 near Ambaji in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat. The CBI probe into the Tulsiram encounter case revealed that Shah allegedly spoke to the accused police officials at least 12 times around the encounter date.

http://www.asianage.com/india/cbi-likely-quiz-amit-shah-again-075

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Toll slips, odd photos, active mobile: ‘Planted’ case against terror accused (Oct 2, 2013, Indian Express)

Last week, a Delhi court acquitted two men from Jammu and Kashmir, Javed Ahmad Tantray and Ashiq Ali Bhatt, saying the Delhi Police Special Cell had foisted trumped-up charges on them. The two men had been arrested on August 6, 2009, and were accused by the police of planning suicide attacks in the capital ahead of Independence Day that year. At the time of their arrest, the then special commissioner (Special Cell) P N Aggarwal had told a press conference that Tantray and Bhatt were caught in Daryaganj while they were making a call to a Pakistani contact from a PCO. Aggarwal said that before coming to Delhi, Tantray and Bhatt had met Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and his deputy Khalid Saifullah at a terror training camp in Pakistan.

Nearly all of the evidence produced by the police collapsed in court. The trial judge issued a damning indictment: the case, he said, “was a clear-cut plant case by the Special Cell to get out-of-turn promotion”. These are some of the glaring loopholes in the Special Cell’s case. Two-way toll plaza slips: The police claimed Tantray and Bhatt came to Delhi in a white Santro from Jammu on August 6, 2009. They submitted two-way toll slips of that day from three plazas: Ladhowal (Ludhiana), Shambhu in Ambala and Karnal. “The police have maintained that they were to come to Delhi and receive instructions here. But they (the police) submitted two-way toll plaza slips of the same day, which proved that the car had first travelled to Jammu and then come to Delhi,” M S Khan, counsel for Tantray and Bhatt, said.

No place for weapons in the car: The police said two AK-47 assault rifles, four 120-round magazines and two hand grenades had been hidden in a cavity under the rear seat and on the front left side of the car. However, Lalit Goyal, the owner of the car, told the court that there was hardly any space between the rear seat and the fuel tank, which could have accommodated a large weapon. Goyal’s car had been stolen from Panipat four months earlier. Witness saw no explosives: Balkishan, a resident of northwest Delhi’s Narela, who made the PCR call on the night of the incident, failed to corroborate the police’s account of the Santro or the recovery of explosives. Balkishan told The Indian Express, “I was returning after dinner at a friend’s place. I saw police cars and some men in civil clothes running around. The scene was chaotic and I did not understand anything. I made the PCR call. I did not see any other car or the police recovering any explosives.” Kishan was not examined by the prosecution.

Photographs: Police submitted pictures of explosives and weapons allegedly recovered from the car, but none with the accused. The weapons were seen kept on a white cement platform, but police claimed to have taken the pictures while the weapons were still in the car. PCO booth: The police claimed Tantray got off the car and made a call to Pakistan from a PCO booth 700 m away, even though there was another PCO right where he had parked the car. The three policemen who were supposedly keeping a watch on them went there after eleven days. Mobile phone still active: The number (9906692xxx), allegedly belonging to Faiyaaz, said to be their contact in Jammu, remains active. The police never sought details of the number, nor did they ever question this person.

Typed statement: The Special Cell claimed that after the local police were informed of the arrests and recovery of weapons, ASI Nirmal Singh Virk of Daryaganj police station came to the spot, and his statement was recorded immediately. However instead of a handwritten statement signed by Virk, the police submitted a typed statement. In his diary entry at the police station, Virk made no mention of the arrests of the alleged terrorists and the recovery of AK 47s rifles. Open weapons: In the case papers, the Special Cell said the weapons were recovered in parcels wrapped in khaki paper and taped inside the car. But during cross examination, one of the officers claimed that the weapons had been found in open condition. …

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1177153/

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“Take action against cops indicted for framing Muslims” (Oct 2, 2013, The Hindu)

If the Government is serious about giving justice to Muslims, then it should start criminal proceedings against the police officers indicted by courts for ‘framing’ innocent Muslims, activists have argued. They were responding to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s letter to all Chief Ministers, asking them to ensure that no innocent Muslim youth is wrongfully detained in terror cases.

Sanghamitra Misra of the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA), which has been documenting cases of Muslim youth being framed in trumped up charges, said: “We have consistently demanded that the government should take requisite and immediate action in cases where the police have been indicted on many serious counts, including fabrication of evidence and ‘encounter’ killings.”

Ms. Misra talked about one such case where a Delhi court indicted police officers of Special Cell, Delhi Police, for staging ‘fake encounter’ in 2005, by arresting four ‘terrorists’. Additional Sessions Judge of a Delhi court Virender Bhat “honourably acquitted” all the accused and said: “An absolutely fake encounter has been projected. The story of the encounter was carefully scripted in the office of Special Staff, Delhi Police, Dhaula Kuan, by its main author Ravinder Tyagi with the assistance of SI Nirakar, SI Charan Singh and SI Mahender Singh.”

The judge also directed the police to register a common FIR against all the four police personnel. But not only were no actions taken against the officers but some have even been awarded medals by the government. Ms. Misra argued the letter of the Home Minister carries little significance unless it initiates concrete action.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/take-action-against-cops-indicted-for-framing-muslims/article5191650.ece

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BSP leader slams Amit Shah, says his presence increased communal incidences (Oct 2, 2013, IBN)

A BSP leader, on Wednesday, demanded a ban on the entry of BJP general secretary Amit Shah in Uttar Pradesh alleging that there had been an increase in incidents of communal clashes ever since he started visiting the state.

“Riots are being orchestrated like Godhra in Uttar Pradesh also,” BSP leader Jugal Kishore alleged, demanding that Narendra Modi’s aide Shah, who is state BJP in-charge, should not be allowed to enter into the state. He alleged that Muzaffarnagar riots broke out due to nexus between BJP and ruling Samajwadi Party.

“It is during the SP government that the morale of such people is so high. They could not dare to do this during the previous Mayawati government,” he added. Kishore, who is also party’s coordinator, also demanded a ban on VHP and Bajrang Dal alleging that these outfits were involved in the Muzaffarnagar riots.

The BSP’s statement against Shah came a day after Congress asked the Uttar Pradesh government to ban his entry into the state to maintain peace.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/bsp-leader-slams-amit-shah-says-his-presence-increased-communal-incidences/425987-3-242.html

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Nationwide signature campaign for communal violence bill begins on Gandhi’s birth anniversary (Oct 2, 2013, Twocircles.net)

Khudai Khidmatgar, with other civil society organisations, today inaugurated nationwide signature campaign to demand early enactment of communal violence prevention act to protect the rights of minorities and the targeted groups in the nation. In a joint statement they said that the recent violence in Muzaffarnagar is not the only violence of its kind. Besides several attempts to vitiate the atmosphere in UP, in states like Bihar, Haryana, Assam, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh there have been several communal flare ups.

They added, “We believe that these violence are not the attack only on Muslim community alone, instead we consider this is the attack on humanity.” Being Mahatma Gandhiji’s Birthday, October 2 is celebrated as ‘International Day of Non-violence’. Prevention of violence also amounts to furtherance of non-violence, they said. Around 1000 victims form various camps near Kairana (Malakpur, Sunethii) will deliver 1000 letters to P.M office. To garner support for the early enactment of Communal violence Prevention Act, Khudai Khidmatgar along with other pro-people organizations is organising a 15-day campaign from 2nd October to 17th October.

The campaign began from, Kairana, Malakpura camp in Muzaffarnagar, where thousands of people are living in camps due to recent communal violence, the first signature by the victims who lost his six family members in the recent riot. On the same day the campaign will be held in 50 places in various parts of the country till 17th October, when it will culminate at Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. The petition will then be submitted to various constitutional authorities and political parties, to take necessary action for implementing the act.

Khudai Khidmatgar leader Faisal Khan, while inaugurating the Campaign at N.A Convent School, Kairana in Muzaffarnagar said, “We need peace and unity in the Nation since we believe in the ideology of non-violence,” adding “violence in the name of religion, caste, etc should be thrown out from the society and we want to see our nation as a developed one and not in a diseased manner. If we fight among ourselves it will decrease the value of our country and affects the development”.

Khudai Khidmatgar Ulema Wing Convenor Fateh Mohd and other members of Khudai Khidmatgar Qamar intekhab, Dr.Faraz Badar, Hammad siddiqui, Khawar Raheel Siddiqui Sanjay Chauhan, Zulfiqar, Dr Parwez, Akram Chaudhry, Sadik Chaudhary( Afkar India Foundation), Poonam Mittal, Mohd. Azim formed a team to get signature from the various relief camps and write post cards to The Prime Minister requesting him to pass the Communal violence bill.

http://twocircles.net/2013oct02/nationwide_signature_campaign_communal_violence_bill_begins_gandhis_birth_anniversary.html

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Cabinet clears Telangana, Hyderabad to be joint capital for 10 years (Oct 3, 2013, Times of India)

The Centre on Thursday took the first significant step towards creation of a separate Telangana state from out of Andhra Pradesh and decided that Hyderabad will be the joint capital of the two states for 10 years. Over two months after the Congress Working Committee put its seal of approval, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal of the home ministry for creation of the 29th state and decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to work out modalities.

“The Cabinet has given its approval for the creation of a new state of Telangana,” home minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters after the meeting that lasted more than two hours. He said it was decided that Hyderabad will be the common capital of the two bifurcated states for 10 years. After the creation of the new state, the security and guarantees including fundamental rights of the people of coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana will be ensured, he said.

The Cabinet approved a GoM that will go into the issue of a special financial disbursement that may be required from the central government for the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh, for building its capital and to cater to special needs of the backward regions.

The new state will have a geographical area of 10 of the 23 districts of undivided Andhra Pradesh. Today’s decision brings to fruition the announcement made by the then home minister P Chidambaram on December 9, 2009 for creation of Telangana.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/23470405.cms

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Asaram in fresh trouble: Godman, his son booked for raping two Surat sisters ()

Fresh sexual assault complaints have been registered against controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu and his son Narayan Sai here after two sisters accused the duo of abusing them. Asaram, 75, was arrested in August on charges of sexually assaulting a minor girl and has been in prison at Jodhpur in Rajasthan since then.

“We have registered two complaints, one against Asaram and another against Narayan Sai of sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges,” Surat Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana said on Sunday. “The victims are two sisters,” he said. The complaint against Narayan Sai has been registered at Jhangirpura police station in Surat, while the one against his father Asaram has been transferred to Ahmedabad as the alleged incident happened there, Asthana said.

The police will question Narayan Sai in connection with the complaint shortly, he said. The older sister in her complaint is understood to have accused Asaram of sexual assault, while the younger one filed a complaint against his son. The incidents reportedly happened between 2001 and 2006. After the schoolgirl filed her complaint of sexual assault against Asaram, the two sisters came forward to file their complaint against the self-styled godman and his son, the police officials said.

“After the uproar over the complaint of the schoolgirl, the sisters mustered the courage and talked about their sexual abuse to their husbands and other family members. After this, they decided to come forward and file their complaint,” they said. The older sister became an Asaram Bapu devotee and lived in his Motera ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad between 1997 and 2006 when the alleged sexual assault by Asaram took place.

The younger sister was allegedly sexually assaulted between 2002 to 2006 at Asaram’s Surat ashram. She alleged in her complaint that Narayan Sai sexually exploited her, they said. Both the sisters left the ashram later and got married, the officials said.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1179068/

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Opinions and Editorials

Why India will not be Hitler’s Germany – By Amberish Kathewad Diwanji (Oct 3, 2013, Rediff)

Any political analyst or historian watching events unfold in India today might be very tempted to draw an eerie parallel: Weimar Germany, circa 1933, and Congress India, circa 2013. Separated by over 80 years and thousands of miles, the similarities appear worrisome. Then in Germany, as now in India, there was a single leader seen as the panacea for all the country’s ills: Adolf Hitler in Germany, Narendra Modi in India. In both cases, they were outsiders to the mainstream — Hitler was from Austria; Modi is a backward class person in a party historically dominated by the upper castes — who pushed for majorityism politics, both were/are backed by strong right-wing nationalist parties that had/have anti-minority agendas.

Besides these evident political events, there are other even more important economic events where one can draw parallels. Hitler’s rise to power was linked to the global depression of the 1930s. That depression actually began in 1929, when the US markets crashed, leading to runaway inflation in Germany, which was still paying reparations for World War I. In fact, inflation was so steep that at one point people did not count money, but weighed the notes that were to be paid for regular commodities. Then, demographers have often noted that a sudden surge in the population of the young in a country where they cannot find gainful employment is a recipe for disaster. In the 1920s and 1930s, Germany had a youth bulge, but many of the young men were unemployed, thanks to the debts Germany was forced to pay, which limited investments in new jobs.

In their anger and frustration, the youth readily believed Hitler when he blamed all of Germany’s ills on the Jews. India is lurching towards a similar situation. In India, every year, some 10 million to 12 million youngsters join the workforce (this is the government’s figure; according to some private analysts, it is more than double that). Even going by the government figure, India has to create 10 million jobs a year, and over the next five years, 50 million new jobs. In the current economic downturn, so many jobs are not being added to the economy. Tragically, even when India was booming in the last decade, jobs were not being added the way they should have been. There is no doubt that if the present government is unable to create more jobs, and quickly, the country will be witness to hordes of young men roaming the streets.

In 1974-1975, when food prices rose dramatically following OPEC’s decision to hike the price of crude, riots had broken out across India. People chose to believe in anyone but the government, be it George Fernandes (then a trade union leader) or Jayaprakash Narayan (the Gandhian activist). This time, with neither a Socialist nor a Gandhian on the horizon, people are increasingly seeing their saviour in Narendra Modi. This might explain the rousing reception he gets wherever he goes, and the frenzy-like greeting of those gathered to see him. Yet, more than the similarities between the India of 2013 and the Germany of 1933, the differences between the two countries might ensure that India won’t go down the same path. The first dissimilarity is the sheer size and diversity of India. Even if Modi and the BJP were to win (and there is as yet absolutely no surety of this), it will at best be a coalition government. Coalition partners are unlikely to tolerate a party going berserk against the minorities. Mamata Banerjee or Naveen Patnaik may back the BJP, but will insist on secular policies.

Second, and more important, unlike Germany in the 1930s where the opposition was literally wiped out, this is unlikely to happen in India after the next election. Despite all its scams, Rahul Gandhi may still push the Congress party to emerge as the single largest party. At worst, it will be the second largest party in the country. Thus, even if it goes out of power, the Congress will remain a potent force that will keep the BJP in check. Third, and perhaps most important, are the people of India. There is no denying that in this country of 1.2 billion there may be a few Indians who might dislike Muslims and wish them ill. But the vast majority of Indians remain secular, no matter how grave Hindu-Muslim tensions. Indians are by and large a secular lot. This is what has kept India secular and remains the best bet for the future, no matter how grim the economic situation.

http://www.rediff.com/news/column/column-why-india-will-not-be-hitlers-germany/20131003.htm

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The forgotten promise of 1949 – By Vidya Subrahmaniam (Oct 8, 2013, The Hindu)

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s constitution explicitly states that it will stay clear of politics. The constitution itself was written, in 1949, because Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have it no other way. The events of 2013 have comprehensively erased that part of India’s history. The RSS has taken full control of the Bharatiya Janata Party. It has overridden internal opposition to name the party’s prime ministerial candidate. No act can be politically more overt than this. The RSS has always been to the BJP, earlier the Jan Sangh, a mentor the latter could not disobey – because the Jan Sangh was seeded by the RSS whose top pracharaks (propagandists) formed the new party’s intellectual and political capital. In its constitution, the RSS abjures a political role for itself but permits individual swayamsevaks to join any political party.

The RSS has used this caveat to place its representatives in the JS/BJP. From Lal Krishna Advani to Narendra Modi, every BJP leader of consequence has been from the Sangh’s deep bosom and each has had to mandatorily follow a curriculum involving pilgrimages to the Sangh offices in Delhi and Nagpur and deferring to the patriarch’s wisdom. The unstated part of the BJP-RSS relationship was that the Sangh chief, Sarsanghchalak in RSS parlance, himself would not show his hand. The behind-the-scenes role for the minder was necessitated both by the 1949 undertaking to Patel and to overcome the strong political opposition to Hindutva. The governments of 1977-1979 and 1998-2004 became possible only because the RSS agreed to keep out of sight. The events of 2013 are remarkable for the reason that the BJP’s need for allies has not translated into the Sangh taking a backseat. Instead, today more than ever before, the mentor is in a frontal, commanding role.

A look at recent history will show that the Sangh’s takeover bid started in real earnest in 2005, following Mr. Advani’s visit to Pakistan and his apocalyptical praise of Mohammad Ali Jinnah delivered straight from the latter’s mausoleum in Karachi. So livid was the Sangh at the transgression that it ordered Mr. Advani removed from the presidentship of the BJP. And though Mr. Advani did become the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in 2009, his unique place in the Sangh was lost forever. The marginalisation of the ideologue started at that point and has ended today in his complete isolation. The epic clash of 2005, and Mr. Advani’s barely controlled anger at his public sacking by the minder, are best captured in Mr. Advani’s own words. Addressing the concluding session of the party’s September 2005 Chennai national executive, Mr. Advani said an “impression had gained ground” that his party could take “no decision” without the consent of the RSS : “This perception, we hold, will do no good either to the Party or to the RSS. The RSS must be concerned that such a perception will dwarf its greater mission of man making and nation-building. Both the RSS and the BJP must consciously exert to dispel this impression.”

Lesser players had clashed with the Sangh earlier, and paid the price too, but Mr. Advani was beloved of the Sangh, and among the early pracharaks sent to the Jan Sangh. The BJP veteran was blunt when he called the RSS a busybody; in truth, it had always been so. What was unprecedented was the Sangh divesting a leader of Mr. Advani’s stature and vintage of his presidency. Seven years on, the Sangh has issued another decree – this time to give a leader a double promotion executed in two stages. Narendra Modi’s June 2013 elevation to the BJP’s campaign committee chief, since relinquished by him, was followed in September 2013 by his appointment as the party’s prime ministerial candidate. In 2005, the RSS’s role was inferred, with the evidence coming from Mr. Advani. In 2013, the fig leaf has been cast away. Mr. Advani, who had resigned from key party posts protesting Mr. Modi’s June 2013 elevation to campaign panel chief, climbed down on the Sangh’s orders – a fact acknowledged in writing by BJP chief Rajnath Singh. This was a first in RSS-BJP history. Mr. Singh’s June 11, 2013 statement to the media said, “Shri Mohan Bhagwat (current Sarsanghchalak) spoke to Shri Advani and asked him to respect the BJP Parliamentary Board (PB) decision and continue to guide the party in national interest.” The BJP’s PB did indeed make a request to Mr. Advani but from Mr. Bhagwat it was a command. The words were gentle but the message was not. …

The letter of September 11, 1948, was to Golwalkar himself. In this Patel lauded the RSS for its service to Hindu society even as he outlined the “objectionable part” which “arose when they, burning with revenge, began attacking Mussalmaans …” Further, “As a final result of the (communal) poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji …” Patel said people’s opposition to the RSS grew when “the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death.” So, the charge that led to the ban was not that the RSS was involved in Gandhiji’s murder. The charge was of violence and subversion. (The Sangh was later formally cleared of any connection in the murder). This is what led to Patel’s pre-condition that the RSS write a constitution specifying, among other things, its respect for the Indian flag (the Sangh swears by the Bhagwa flag), its commitment both to function as an open and peaceful organisation and to stay clear of politics. It was a prolonged battle. Golwalkar resisted writing the constitution but Patel won out and the ban was lifted on July 11, 1949. The RSS has gone back on the promise to keep off politics.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-forgotten-promise-of-1949/article5211026.ece

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What Shinde forgot to write – Editorial (Oct 2, 2013, DNA India)

Devoid of constructive suggestions, Union Home Minister’s letter cautioning states about Muslims falsely implicated in terror cases falls hopelessly flat. The Centre’s responsibility towards innocent Muslims falsely implicated in terror cases cannot end with the sanctimonious letter written in this regard by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to state Chief Ministers. Faced with harsh criticism from the BJP for writing the letter, Shinde turned defensive and said he was only doing his job as Home Minister. In his eagerness to make a political statement with an eye on upcoming elections, Shinde correctly identified a problem but only offered an unactionable remedy, that was kept deliberately vague.

The Home Minister sought strict action against police officers accused of mala fide arrest of minorities. But are police officers the only ones who err? What about the executive and the judiciary which are supposed to act as checks on the unlimited powers that police officers enjoy in India? In the letter, Shinde claims that he was responding to representations from various NGOs and civil rights activists. Shinde may as well have been responding to a widely-cited recent survey which showed that 56 per cent Muslims and 40 per cent Hindus seemed to agree that Muslim youth were being falsely implicated in terror cases. Even the BJP’s response to Shinde sums up the limits of political discourse in India. The BJP, predictably, dubbed Shinde’s missive as “unconstitutional and questionable” claiming it divided the country on communal lines. Such a reductionist response, besides obfuscating the issue, deprives the BJP of questioning the credentials of various Congress governments in the states on this count.

A recent investigation by media portal gulail.com, which secretly video-taped prosecution witnesses in the Pune Germany Bakery blast case, shows these young Muslim men alleging that they were brutally harassed by the Maharashtra ATS into implicating death-row convict Himayat Baig. Recently, the Andhra Pradesh government offered monetary compensation to 70 Muslim men who were wrongly accused in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case. In 2011, a Delhi court acquitted seven men arrested by the Delhi police in 2005 after a fake encounter. These incidents, all in Congress-ruled states, could be the exception rather than the norm. But it is unacceptable that citizens of a democracy must suffer such ignominy. These young men have spoken how the incarceration has traumatised them for life while the stigma of being accused of terrorism persists around them and their families.

Many, including Muslims, will dismiss Shinde’s letter as a mere electoral gimmick. Other than replacing the draconian POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) with the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the UPA has little to show besides lip service to Muslim concerns. The Centre recently notified 39 special courts to try National Investigation Agency cases. All fresh terror cases, including extension of custodial remand, must be heard only in these courts.

Final charge-sheets must be filed within 180 days and trials fast-tracked. To prevent its misuse, Section 45(2) of the UAPA mandates vetting of chargesheets by a sanctioning authority of the government before they are filed in court. Until last year, the Delhi police was unaware of this crucial section. A robust oversight mechanism involving the judiciary, executive, media and citizenry is the solution that Shinde’s letter forgot to address.

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/1896950/editorial-dna-edit-what-shinde-forgot-to-write

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Muzaffarnagar Riots: Rape Accused Roam Freely As Victim Hides In Refugee Camp – By Deevakar Anand (Oct 6, 2013, Tehelka)

Despite national outrage over India’s deadliest communal violence in a decade that killed 52 and rendered about 50000 people homeless, even 13 days after the FIRs of gangrapes during the riots were filed, the accused are roaming free with the police making no effort to arrest them. Although investigators are yet to question any of the men named in the five FIRs of gangrape, TEHELKA traced five people accused in two different cases. All the five rape cases registered so far have come from Muzaffarnagar’s Fugana village bordering Shamli district. The horror stories began surfacing from 22 September onwards as the police were sifting through the hundreds of complaints of riot victims living in relief camps.

At Fugana, however, unlike a few other Hindu-dominated villages from where hundreds of men have fled and gone into hiding, the rape-accused are present in the village and carrying on with their normal life. Located at a distance of nearly 40 kilometres from Muzaffarnagar district headquarters and just about 2 kilometres from the Fugana police station, the village has a population of 26000, of which Muslims number only 2500. Most of them work as labourers in the fields of Hindu Jats and Brahmins. While Jats constitute nearly 70 percent of the Hindu population, the rest are Brahmins, Harijans and other Scheduled Castes. According to the victims of the riots, on the afternoon of 8 September, hundreds of Jats and some members of other Hindu caste attacked a cluster of Muslim houses in the village’s Dhobi Mohalla a day after Jats were attacked and killed at Jauli village, some 50 kilometres away in Muzaffarnagar district. Besides rape, two deaths were also reported from Fugana village and all the Muslim houses were set on fire.

In her FIR (a copy of which is with TEHELKA) Ayesha (name changed), a woman in her forties, has accused five men from her village – Joginder, Sunil, Ramesh, Ram Kumar and Vijendra – of raping her on the afternoon of 8 September. Her house, along other Muslim dwellings in the Dhobi mohalla of Fugana village, was set on fire by the rioters.The police received her complaint from a relief camp where she had taken shelter along with her husband and other family members. Following this, an FIR was registered at the Fugana police station on 25 September. TEHELKA first traced Joginder (35) in the village. He turned out to be the son of the village pradhan Tham Singh. He claimed that the rape charges against him were fabricated: “I had scolded her in public almost two months back for she was after my life to get her a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card. She was persisting on getting the card made then and there and I told her to wait for the right time.”

He explains this as the reason for his being ‘framed’. Asked about the sequence of events leading to the victim’s family leaving the village, Joginder, a class 12 dropout who is involved in farming, said he didn’t know the exact reason: “There must have been some miscreants who created disturbance.” Sunil (46), another accused named in the FIR, said that he had known the woman and her family for years and there was no question of him raping her: “We were neighbors. I saw the family take their belongings to a safer place. However, there was no rape as claimed by her.” Asked if he knew why her family had to leave village, he said, “I do not know. All Muslims began leaving the village after the 7 September incident of the murder of Jats at Jauli village.” …

When TEHELKA visited the complainant woman at her relief camp, she accused the five men of threatening to kill her before taking turns to rape her. On being asked why she didn’t report the incident earlier, she replied, “I was too afraid to go the police station to register the case. So when the police came to the camp on the District Magistrate’s instructions, I submitted my complaint.” A senior officer of the Special Investigation Cell (SIC), now tasked with probing the riots, said on condition of anonymity that they had received details of the rape case from the local police till as late as 5 October. “Our Investigation Officers (IOs) are reading through the FIRs. They will soon start the investigations and question the accused,” he added. Fugana, Lisarh, Lank and Bahawadi are the four villages that bore the worst of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots. The Fugana police station under which the villages fall reported 16 of the total 52 killings during the 7-9 September violence.

http://www.tehelka.com/rape-accused-named-in-fir-roam-freely-as-victim-hides-in-refugee-camp/

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Convicted Politicians And Decline Of Political Morality – By Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava (Oct 3, 2013, Countercurrents)

Indian democracy has experienced many ups and downs but the recent conviction of two political leaders by the courts have put certain pressing marks on its quality and future trajectory. The conviction of Lalu Yadav is not bizarre, he metamorphosed the Indian politics as light weighted game which could be managed in a funny manner. A feat which SP is trying to emulate by fielding comedian from one constituency of UP.

They believe that Indian public can be managed in a very simple manner. They have managed it since a long time. This feature points out to the declining qualities of the ruling elite. The political leaders of India have changed the democratic system in accordance to their whims and fancies. This is a long story. The decline was visible since the time of Mrs. Gandhi but one serious blow came when V P Singh in the name of social justice divided the Indian society.

There are many to mention who have disfigured the Indian democratic system to their advantage but the case of Lalu Yadav is more perplexing, he not only played a cruel joke by dealing the Bihar as his personal fiefdom, as he managed to put Rabri Devi on the seat of the Chief Minister though she had no capability for the same but also went to extent of corrupting the political system by involving in cases which led him inside the prison. Many cases of similar nature where politicians or administrators were found involved in the corruption cases helped to grow a sentiment that by following the path of corruption , goals could be achieved.

This sentiment is now well entrenched in the larger section of the society. The corrupt ones have lowered the national psyche from lofty values to such degraded level. They have prevented the new generation to think in terms of greats like Swami Vivekananda or Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore, of both the 150th birth century nation is celebrating. Sadly these corrupts succeeded in establishing a veil of ignorance to many of people and exploited them to their advantage.

The young lots feel that without bribery it is hard to get a government job, an unimaginable thought for people like Jai Prakash Narain, a moralistic leader from Bihar whose presence in the 1970s helped Lalu to learn and develop his political skills. Unfortunately Lalu like leaders failed to learn the basic principle of his life that politics was a selfless service to the masse, particularly to the underprivileged, farmers, labours and marginal ones in the society. …

http://www.countercurrents.org/srivastava031013.htm

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Looking ahead on Telangana – Editorial (Oct 5, 2013, The Hindu)

With the Union Cabinet clearing the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana is one big step closer to realisation. But like any partition, this too will come with pain, dislocation, anxiety and anger. A new State might not have been the best of solutions to address the inequities of development in the region, but it became politically inevitable after a prolonged, intense agitation by large sections of the people. Not surprisingly, the people of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema have adopted similar tactics in opposition to the bifurcation, forcing a shutdown of Seemandhra.

Though their movement has been peaceful, there is a danger of violence gaining political legitimacy, thanks to the muddled and opportunist thinking of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre which rushed to put the Cabinet’s seal of approval without bothering to deliberate over proposals to safeguard the legitimate concerns of Seemandhra. Whether it leaned towards granting statehood to Telangana, or stepped back in favour of the status quo, the Centre’s reasoning and actions seemed inspired by petty electoral-political calculations. Depending on the dominant popular mood, the UPA government has swung one way, then another, each time lacking the conviction needed to carry a difficult decision forward.

But now that the creation of Telangana is almost a fait accompli, those opposed to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh should focus on their specific concerns such as the status of the capital Hyderabad, the sharing of Krishna and Godavari waters, free movement of goods and people between the two States, and the protection of lives and means of livelihood. The political options of those opposed to the new State are rather limited. Given that the powers are concentrated in the hands of the Centre when it comes to creation of new States, much will depend on the attitude of the two national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Both are now backing the creation of Telangana.

Parties covertly or overtly opposed to Telangana such as the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress might not be able to influence the course of events even if they are elected in large numbers to the State Assembly and the Lok Sabha in 2014. The imperative now is to ensure that the process of bifurcation is smooth, and that the concerns of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema are taken into account. Besides allowing for Hyderabad as a shared capital for a period of 10 years, the Centre must ensure that this city, which remains the most contentious issue for the two sides, remains accessible to both Telangana and the residuary Andhra Pradesh as a source of employment for their people and revenue generation for their governments. The people of Seemandhra must press ahead with hope, and not look back in anger or regret.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/looking-ahead-on-telangana/article5201720.ece

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