IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 14th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Gujarat riots case: Sanjiv Bhatt moves SC, seeks to make Amit Shah a party to his petition (Sep 14, 2015, Times of India)

In a desperate bid to resurrect investigations into then chief minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, dismissed IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt on Monday requested the Supreme Court to set up a special investigation team to probe the then state law officer’s series of emails indicating a serious conspiracy to subvert justice.

Bhatt had moved the SC four year ago accusing the then Modi government of attempting to blunt his untiring efforts to expose the state’s role in fanning the riots by lodging an inspired FIR against him in 2011 accusing him of forcing a government servant to give false evidence to establish his presence during a high-level meeting called by the then CM to discuss the riots.

Bhatt moved the fresh application requesting the SC to add BJP president Amit Shah and S Gurumurthy as parties in his petition as they were “part of the larger design to subvert the course of justice”, both before the SC and the trial court in the riot cases. His application was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu by senior advocate Indira Jaising.… After giving details of emails, Bhatt said, “Unless the Supreme Court directed a proper inquiry into the material submitted, the confidence of general public in free, fair and transparent trial would be eroded.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48953685.cms

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Justice Continues to Elude Victims of Kandhamal Violence (Sep 11, 2015, The Wire)

Nearly eight years have passed since communal violence in Kandhamal claimed the lives of 82 people, mostly Christian adivasis and dalits, damaged 6,000 houses and displaced 56,000 people in 2008. The government, however, officially recorded only 39 deaths. In addition, 395 churches were destroyed and two cases of sexual assaults against women were reported. Close to a 100,000 children in the area also dropped out from school in the area due to displacement and insecurity. Victims of the violence say that several cases have been closed without adequate justice being served and compensation provided has been much lower than is required.

The Kandhamal Nyaya, Shanti O Sadhabana Samaj, an organisation of victims, met with the President on September 7 and presented a memorandum urging immediate action. The association has also received cross party support from CPI (M)’s Brinda Karat, former Congress Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer and Kavita Krishnan of the All India Progressive Women’s Association. Addressing a press conference in Delhi on September 8, Father Ajay Singh brought to light several facts that media reports at the time of the violence did not cover.

Of the 3232 complaints lodged, only 825 FIRs were filed by the police and only 605 led to chargesheets. 302 cases were closed arbitrarily citing lack of evidence as the cause. Of the 35 murder cases that were taken into account, 33 cases were closed. 11,000 rioters named in the complaints were granted anticipatory bail, while 3,254 persons were acquitted due to the arbitrary closing of cases. Only 10 people have been convicted in two murder cases and all are currently on bail. Fr. Ajay Singh noted that not only was the violence extremely sectarian in nature, but the failure of the justice system continues to reflect the power of the communal forces in the state. Attacks by right wing groups have also been carried out on 13 NGOs that attempted to provide relief packages to the victims.…

http://thewire.in/2015/09/11/justice-continues-to-elude-victims-of-kandhamal-violence-10529/

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SC issues notice to centre for allegedly asking Salian to go soft against accused (Sep 11, 2015, Times of India)

The allegation of former special public prosecutor that she was asked to go soft against Hindu extremists allegedly involved in the Malegaon blast case has come under judicial scrutiny with the Supreme Court on Friday issuing notice to Centre and Maharashtra government.

The apex court sought response from the governments on PILs seeking independent probe in the controversy arising out of Salian revelation. The bench asked the government to file response within a week and posted the case for next week when it will decide whether the trial should be stayed or not in light of Salian’s statements.

The court will also decide whether the trial court should also be restrained from granting bail to the accused. The court was hearing a petition filed by activist Harsh Mander who alleged that the executive was attempting to influence the judicial system in breach of repeated directives by the court.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48909967.cms

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Bail pleas of Purohit, Dwivedi opposed (Sep 10, 2015, The Hindu)

The National Investigation Agency on Wednesday filed a reply opposing the bail pleas of Malegaon 2008 blast accused Lieutenant-Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey.

Seeking rejection of their applications, the NIA said there was “sufficient evidence” against them in the charge sheet and their contention that the Supreme Court had removed the provisions of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) was incorrect.

Purohit’s claim that he had not committed any offence was “false, incorrect and misleading”. Also his period of detention of six and a half years “is not ground for bail,” the central agency said.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bail-pleas-of-purohit-dwivedi-opposed/article7633962.ece

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Petlawad explosives were stored for Godhra II: Congress (Sep 13, 2015, Times of India)

Madhya Pradesh Congress has alleged that the BJP was planning Godhra II in Jhabua and explosives were stored in Petlawad for the same purpose. The party said main accused Rajendra Kasawa is a BJP leader and an active member of RSS.

Addressing a joint press conference here on Sunday, state Congress president Arun Yadav and leader of the opposition Satyadev Katare said large quantity of illegal explosives stored by Kasawa would have been used for ” Godhra type” violence in Jhabua before Bihar elections and Lok Sabha by-poll due for Jhabua seat. Yadav said that Petlawad is close to Gujarat.

Yadav said that Kasawa is president of traders’ unit of BJP in Petlawad which is why the party and Sangh members have not been allowing his arrest and he continues to be on the run.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48945203.cms

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Why extortion in the name of cow protection goes unreported in Madhya Pradesh (Sep 7, 2015, Scroll.in)

Madhya Pradesh government’s stringent law against cow-slaughter has become a handy tool to terrorise and extort money from innocent cattle traders. The latest in a spate of such incidents occurred on August 31 in Sanawad town of Khandwa district in west Madhya Pradesh when members of a so-called cow protection group – Gauraksha Samiti – thrashed and partially tonsured four persons, while accusing them of carrying cattle for slaughter in two pick-up vehicles.…

The four cattle buyers were booked on suspicion. They were released on bail by the Sanavad court of a first class judicial magistrate on September 2, after 24 hours in police custody and as many hours in jail. The police however, spared the assailants. Dhangaon police station personnel told journalists that a case will be registered against them but no action has followed so far, according to local media reports.…

Hooliganism and extortion in the name of cow protection has become so common in Madhya Pradesh that most such incidents go unreported in the media. Its root cause is the “Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) adhiniyam” or the Madhya Pradesh Prohibition of Slaughter of Cow-Progeny (Amendment) Act that was promulgated in December 2011.…

http://scroll.in/article/753527/why-extortion-in-the-name-of-cow-protection-goes-unreported-in-madhya-pradesh

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Police brushing matter to save cops in Nand Nagri custodial death: AAP (Sep 10, 2015, Asian Age)

The Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday alleged that the police is trying to brush the matter related to the “custodial death” of 35-year-old Shahnawaz Chaudhary in northeast Delhi’s Nand Nagri area in a bid to “shield” the policemen involved in the incident. AAP leader Ashutosh also said that the party will approach the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to seek justice if the police does not register an FIR in this connection.

On Monday, Chaudhary died under mysterious circumstances after trying to intervene in a roadside scuffle between a couple and the police in the Nand Nagri area.…

AAP’s Seemapuri MLA Rajendar Gautam, who met the deceased family, said Chaudhary’s wife Mamta had later alleged that her husband was killed by the policemen. A video clip has surfaced purportedly showing a policeman beating the man with his club, raising questions over the police’s claims that they did not enter into any scuffle with him.…

http://www.asianage.com/india/police-brushing-matter-save-cops-nand-nagri-custodial-death-aap-598

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‘Disturbing’ that killers of Dabholkar and Pansare are not nabbed : Bombay High Court (Sep 9, 2015, Times of India)

Bombay High Court on Wednesday expressed concern that the killers of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and communist leader Govind Pansare are still not apprehended.

“It is a disturbing factor,” said a bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Rajesh Ketkar who heard petitions by their respective kin expressing unhappiness with the probe being conducted by Central Bureau of Investigation in Dabholkar’s case and a special investigation team of State police in Pansare’s. They want the High Court to monitor them.…

The bench said the cases of Dabholkar and Pansare have similarities and wondered why a single agency cannot probe both cases and why they don’t share information. CBI’s advocate informed that out of the five officers deputed to assist CBI in Pune only one who is a cyber forensic expert is based in Nagpur. The bench directed him to be “made available” to CBI within a week.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48887701.cms

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5 top ‘spiritual gurus’ in India caught in sexual harassment charges (Sep 9, 2015, Newsx.com)

India tops the list of countries that believe in superstitious activities. Several names amongst the list of self-styled godmen, saints, preachers and gurus in India have been trapped in different controversies. Primarily, one reason that has trapped them all is about sexual harassment charges. However, in spite of making their deeds public, we still have a countless number of followers who believe in them blindly.

Let’s take a look on 5 most prominent names that have played with the sentiments of the innocent followers who believed in them. 74-year-old Asaram Bapu tops the list of controversial gurus in India. He is under the judicial custody since September 2013 following the charges of sexually harassment by a 16-year-old at his ashram in Rajasthan.…

Self-styled god-woman Radhe Maa is the latest controversial queen to join the league. After her images in hot-red short skirt went viral on social media, she was trolled on Twitter by different sectors of the society. 50-year-old Radhe Maa was then slapped with dowry charges by a young woman. She accused Radhe Maa of influencing her parents in law who followed her to demand dowry.…

http://www.newsx.com/national/10463-5-top-spiritual-gurus-of-india-caught-in-sexual-harassment-charges

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“RSS trying to turn Dalits against reservation policy” (Sep 12, 2015, The Hindu)

Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) has criticised the Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for trying to turn a section of Dalits against the reservation policy.

Talking to reporters after paying homage to Dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran on the occasion of his 58th death anniversary here on Friday, TNUF State general secretary K. Samuel Raj said that the recent conference addressed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah in Madurai was part of the RSS’s ploy to make Dalits “prick their eyes with their own hands”.

“The conference was part of a larger conspiracy launched by the RSS to do away with reservation,” he alleged.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/rss-trying-to-turn-dalits-against-reservation-policy/article7643995.ece

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Opinions and Editorials

Dear BJP, I’m a Hindu and I reject Hindutva – By Suchitra Krishnamoorthi (Sep 12, 2015, Dailyo.in)

…Anyway to cut a long story short, when it was time to re-elect a new government in 2014, I, like most other urban Indians reeling under the corruption of dynastic politics and a failed Congress government, was filled with hope.… India was desperate. We needed a leader. Badly. We needed progress. We needed a semblance of honesty. We desperately needed hope again. It came in the form of Narendra Modi.… The BJP government won because we Indians had become so soooo Gandhi family intolerant – any alternative seemed like manna from heaven in comparison.…

Hinduism is a philosophy. The doctrine of which allows me the choice of acceptance or rejection. Ram or Ganpati or even atheism. Upanishads or Gita or tantra or mantra. Hindutva, on the other hand, is militant imposition of wrongly interpreted tenets of Hinduism. Hindutva is a political tool – nothing to do with the religion itself.…

To be a Hindu is to be tolerant. It’s why we have survived as a race in spite of invasion, conversion and unimaginable attempted destruction. If you do not understand that tolerance or exercise that compassion so intrinsic to our religion, you do not deserve to call yourself Hindu. Or a leader of a democratic nation. So dear BJP. I reject your Hindutva. I reject your fascism. I reject your despotism.…

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/hindutva-hinduism-bjp-rss-narendra-modi-congress-sonia-gandhi-rahul-gandhi-anti-national-meat-ban-beef-ban-intolerance-religion/story/1/6209.html

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A Government of the RSS, by the RSS, for the RSS – By Harish Khare (Sep 11, 2015, The Wire)

Fifteen years ago this month, a prime minister of India had travelled to the United States for the annual UN General Assembly mela. During that visit, he found time to attend a Vishwa Hindu Parishad event in Staten Island where he declared himself a swayamsevak – yes, as in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This was music to the ears of the Nagpur gharana.… Back in New Delhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s exuberance did not last long.… After the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, it was simply not possible for Vajpayee to maintain any civilised conversation with these comrades among the swayamsevaks. The gurus never forgave Vajpayee for wanting to draw outside the lines.…

The Nagpur bosses wanted to reaffirm the first principle: No BJP leader would be allowed any deviation. They had had enough of Vajpayee and his liberal tantrums. Last week, it was this very first principle that was re-asserted when the Sarsanghchalak summoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers. Well, if you are a swayamsevak, you do respond to summons from the superior in the hierarchy. Period. That is the code of the saffron brotherhood. Admitted, Sushma Swaraj is not an RSS bhakt. Nor is Arun Jaitley. Unless, he has managed to keep this fact away from his “moderate and decent” friends in Delhi. But neither of them had any choice.…

Whatever obedience the Prime Minister and his ministers may choose to render to the Sarsanghchalak, they need to be reminded that they are still governed and bound by something called the Constitution of India. India is still a constitutional democracy and its rulers, irrespective of the number of seats they have in the Lok Sabha, are still answerable to a robust Parliament and an independent judiciary.

http://thewire.in/2015/09/11/a-government-of-the-rss-by-the-rss-for-the-rss-10523/

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Do The Patels Want Reservation Or A Crisis? – By Kancha Ilaiah (Sep 19, 2015, Tehelka)

Why did the Patel movement for reservation start now? Is it to really get reservation for Patels or is it to abolish the Other Backward Class (OBC) reservation altogether, if not Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe reservation as well? Is it meant to strengthen the boat of Narendra Modi, who declared his OBC background during the election campaign to galvanise the OBC votes in favour of Modi’s election, which was not so much the BJP’s election? Or is it to rock Modi’s boat and see that the hold of Shudra upper castes such as Patels, Jats, Gujjars and Marathas even at the Centre would increase? Are they in a position to challenge the Brahmins and Baniyas, who are actually running the central government, though Modi appears to be a strong prime minister? Some of these questions need to be examined and possible answers should be put in the public domain.…

The core cadre of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) consists of anti-reservationists and also the supporters of caste system in the sense of Sanatan Varna Dharma. Hence the core cadre that came from the Brahmin, Baniya, Kshatriya and Shudra upper castes comprising Patels, Jats, Marathas and so on, who galvanised around Modi’s election, were given to understand that if the BJP gets a majority of its own, the OBC reservation structure would be reviewed.

Let us not forget the fact that on the social media front and in the mobilisation strategy work of “Team Modi” (at that time it was not “Team India”), the upper-caste youth, who have a hatred towards the reservation system itself, were in a majority. They now think that Modi’s victory was because of them but his government is not reviewing the much-hated reservation system.…

http://www.tehelka.com/2015/09/do-the-patels-want-reservation-or-a-crisis/

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Minorities under Siege: “Schooling” of muslims on Islam by the Hindu right – By Syed Mohammed (Sep 10, 2015, Times of India)

The curious case of right wing Hindutva groups’ “schooling” of Muslims on Islam, their own faith, doesn’t seem to end. The latest instance was reportedly that of the Gauseva and Gauchar Vikas Board. The body, according to its website, is an agency of the agriculture and co-operation department of the Gujarat government. And as if it were the recipient of wahy, the divine revelation on Prophet Muhammad, it conjured a verse from the Quran that supposedly proclaimed that beef was a cause of “several diseases” while milk products are good for the human body.

This is not a stray incident, but one of several which are construed by analysts and scholars of Islam as attempts to isolate the Muslim community by spreading misinformation about its own faith, laying them in siege. Another recent incident in Uttar Pradesh was that of the “mistranslation” of the Arabic word “Rehan” as “tulsi” by none other than the Rashtriya Muslim Manch, believed to be an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). But many scholars from across the country, including Hyderabad-based Rashid Naseem Nadwi, who heads the department of Arabic at the English and Foreign Languages University, have rejected the translation. The correct translation of the word has been recorded as “fragrance” in various exegeses of the Quran, the scholar says.…

While the Hindutva brigade’s soft attacks on minorities in the form of distortions of religious texts is a cause of concern, it is the disowning of Indian Muslims which remains a persistent and a more serious problem. At the drop of a hat, BJP parliamentarians such as Yogi Adityanath and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi have advised Muslims to go to Pakistan for harbouring differing or dissenting religious or political views. It appears that the majoritarianism of Hindu right wing groups is eager to create a scary situation for minorities, especially for the Muslims. Disowning Muslims and other minorities seems to be the simplest method to make them toe its line.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48891665.cms

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Meat bans and food fundamentalism as BJP strategy – By Smruti Koppikar (Sep 10, 2015, Hindustan Times)

It’s the season of madness in Mumbai. But it’s more than a beef ban here and a meat ban there though the bans are a part of the madness. For a start, there is a grand plan to rob the city of its most significant carto-cultural marker, its coastline. The proposed coastal road, when constructed, will forever interfere in our vision of the sea from the beaches and Marine Drive, besides further skewing the equation against public transport. But chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has staked his credibility on ensuring that the coastal road is built.

To imagine a change in Mumbai’s shoreline would have been madness till he came along. Fadnavis brought in what his experienced predecessors would have shied away from: the ban on beef. It was widely criticised and mocked at, given the multi-culturalism of the city, its vibrant food cultures and its aspiration to be the next global financial centre. The ban led to some tension and many hilarious moments when the meat with arrested traders turned out to be not that of cows.

A number of other irrational things have happened – the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) which must be the well-endowed and most hip area of the city was chosen to be a ‘smart city’ within the city; there was a fierce debate about Mumbai’s nightlife when Aaditya Thackeray presented it as his bright idea, unmindful of the fact that Mumbai has always had a nightlife without a political leader orchestrating it; there was chatter about redeveloping the Mahalaxmi Race Course and de- reserving parts of the Aarey forest, t wo oasis of green that Mumbaiites believed would never fall to the rapacious builder lobby. But the madness is most reflected in food favouritism and prejudices.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/smrutikoppikar/meat-bans-and-food-fundamentalism-as-bjp-strategy/article1-1389180.aspx

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Time to Repeal 124A – Editorial (Sep 12, 2015, EPW)

It could be just a case of words lost in translation. Or given the record of the Government of Maharashtra, it could be more than that. But the furore over a circular sent out by the state government to the police about the use of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code relating to sedition is a relevant reminder about the danger to free speech and expression that this provision of the law represents. The circular was issued at the instance of the Bombay High Court when it dismissed sedition charges against Kanpur-based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. The latter had been charged and arrested by the Mumbai police in September 2011 under Section 124A in relation to some of his cartoons.

While dismissing the charges, the court held that merely criticising the government could not be termed as sedition. The state government gave an undertaking to the court that it would issue clear guidelines to the police on the use of Section 124A. This circular was presented to the court in March this year and was finally sent out to police stations at the end of August. It is the Marathi version of these guidelines that has generated controversy as it has injected ambiguity and room for discretion that inevitably results in precisely the kind of misuse that the court sought to prevent.…

In 1962, the Supreme Court upheld Section 124A and held that it struck a “correct balance” between fundamental rights and the need for public order. But the record of the use of this provision has been otherwise. Far from any kind of “correct balance,” it has been used to suppress and discourage dissent and criticism in any form. In fact, the draconian nature of this law-non-bailable, non-cognisable and punishment that can extend for life – has a “chilling effect” on dissent even if it is not used. And this is precisely why governments choose to hold on to it.…

http://www.epw.in/editorials/time-repeal-124a.html

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Book Review

The Weight of Violence: Religion, Language, Politics

Author: Eds. Saitya Brata Das and Soumyabrata Choudhury
Reviewed by: Rudolf C Heredia
Available at: Oxford University Press, Ground Floor, YMCA Library Building, 1, Jai Singh Road, Post Box 43, New Delhi – 110001,India Email: northcare.in@oup.com, 2015; pp xxi + 271, Rs 895. http://www.oup.co.in/
Review:
‘Understandings of Violence’ (Sep 12, 2015, EPW)

…The secular fundamentalist has sought to rationalise religion out of the public domain. This has only politicised religion, and it gets morphed into a more aggressive avatar when its followers feel under threat. Allowing religion a civic/social space that is respected, with the state’s “principled distance” towards all of them (Bhargava 2013) would allow for an equal respect for all religions (sarva dharma samabhava). This would be a far better way of including religious communities in the national project. Earlier, the partition witnessed a nationwide massacre that shocked the world with the horrors of religious violence. Yet the possibility of another genocide is never very far – it happened in 1983 in Nellie, Assam, in 1984 in Delhi and in 2002 in Gujarat.

Learning from how we dealt with linguistic pluralism is pertinent here. India has managed to contain linguistic antagonisms by devolving governmental authority to regional linguistic states and giving these communities an inclusive and larger identity, with a real stake in the country. We need to do this now with other local and marginalised communities, with tribals, and Dalits, and especially religious minorities.…

We are losing a huge resource in marginalising Gandhi as a national icon. Now Hindutvavadis are aggressively but selectively rehabilitating Savarkar as a national hero today – not for his rationalism that rubbished caste and dietary taboos but his Hindu nationalism that sought to marginalise the religious minorities. This is a dangerous political expediency, and its further trajectory will surely lead to increased levels of violence – individual, collective and structural. The new model of development, of growth compromising equity, can only exacerbate tensions and inequalities further. The resulting injustices will inevitably undermine the legitimacy of our democratic state. This is certainly not the idea of India that the freedom fighters fought and sacrificed for and nor is it the ideal enshrined in our Constitution, which is truly a mandate for a different kind of social revolution.

http://http://www.epw.in/book-reviews/understandings-violence.html

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