SAFFRON HOOLIGANISM LEAVES BJP REDFACED (JAN 28, 2009, TIMES OF INDIA)
The Sangh Parivar has once again been caught on the wrong foot by violent Hindu zealots in Mangalore who have indulged in public violence, this time against women at a pub on Saturday, just months after committing arson against churches for carrying out "conversions". The BJP has condemned the incidents, but is on the backfoot with some of the leading lights of the Sri Ram Sene having once been members of Bajrang Dal. The recurrence of violence after the attacks on churches drew worldwide condemnation is something the BJP could have done without.
Some senior BJP leaders like L K Advani have realised the adverse fallout of saffron hooliganism on sections of middle India that the party wants to woo but the latent, and sometimes active, sympathies of BJP-RSS leaders have led groups like SRS to proliferate. It is not a coincidence that SRS leaders like Pramod Mutalik and Prasad Attavar have launched aggressive mobilization on "Hindu" issues despite Mangalore having been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The actions of the SRS are somewhat similar, at least in their motivation, to the Abhinav Bharat gang which has been charged for the Malegaon blasts. Mutalik is reportedly "disappointed" with the BJP-RSS and was sidelined by the Sangh which found his views too hard to stomach. Yet, the duo was able to go about their hate-filled, sectarian agendas without being seriously challenged.
The inability of the RSS to clearly and unambiguously condemn the violence against women as "unacceptable" was exemplified by its executive member Ram Madhav, who laid equal stress on pub culture being "alien" to Indian ethos as on criticising the SRS. He primly suggested the need for "public education" to deal with pub culture, leading to a BJP leader remarking that if the RSS was so against pubs, why could it not ask the Karnataka government to simply shut down all of them. BJP has won successive elections in Mangalore riding on polarization of Hindu votes and this has, over the years, led to the growth of freelancers like Mutalik and Attavar.
- Rama Sene, Bajrang Dal vie for credit, extortion under scan (Jan 27, 2009, Indian Express)
- Pub attack: RSS pressure forcing Karnataka to go slow? (Jan 29, 2009, Times of India)
- Pub attack: The strange case of Prasad Attavar (Jan 30, 2009, Indian Express)
- Women going to pubs is against Indian culture say people across political divides (Jan 29, 2009, Hindustan Times)
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MUTALIKS LONG HISTORY OF RUNNING RIOT (JAN 29, 2009, TIMES OF INDIA)
It took the state government nine years and an incident of national shame to bring Rashtriya Hindu Sena chief Pramod Mutalik to book. Only nationwide public pressure on the government ensured this. Mutalik is quite a repeated offender. He has 27 pending cases against him in various courts across the state. Most relate to making inflammatory speeches, inciting hatred between religious groups, conducting training with intent to carry out subversive activities, defiling religious books, unlawful assembly, violating prohibitory orders, and evading judicial warrants.
He is wanted by police of 11 districts and some cases are nine years old. According to a dossier at state police headquarters, most cases were filed between 2000 and 2008. Some of the cases: Feb. 19, 2000: Mutalik abused minority communities and suspected their loyalty to the nation, in a speech in Malebennur in Harihar taluk of Davanagere district. Harihar police filed a case under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code. Two years later, the district magistrate banned his entry into Malebennur and surrounding areas.
Jan. 13, 2008: Mutalik made insulting remarks against Muslims in a speech in Renukanagar in Davanagere city. The police registered a case under section 295 and 295-A of the IPC. Two weeks ago in Davanagere: Mutalik launched Rashtra Raksha Sene that he said was a group of volunteers trained to fight Islamic terror groups. Sri Rama Sena workers distributed pamphlets that reportedly pronounced all Muslims as terrorists. KTJ Nagar police filed cases against him. There’s no explaination why the state government was lenient all these years. "We were trying hard to get him all these days. Some time ago, we had sent a team of officers to Maharashtra to arrest him," Davanagere SP Sandeep Patil said.
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MECCA MASJID BLASTS: YAH KOYI ISI-WAALA AAKEY NAHI KAR RAHA THA – YAH APNA HI KOYI AADMI THA (JAN 25, 2009, INDIAN EXPRESS)
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chargesheet in the September 29 Malegaon bomb attack case has produced new information that backs the suspicion among security agencies that some recent unsolved bomb blasts in the country, particularly the one at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid in 2007, could be linked to some of those blamed for Malegaon. The Indian Express had reported on November 25 last year that some of the 11 men arrested for the Malegaon attack had allegedly told investigators that a Hindu activist had planted the bomb at the popular Ajmer Sharif Dargah in Ajmer in October 2007, which killed two people. They had also allegedly told investigators that the same set of people were behind the Ajmer and the Mecca Masjid blasts in which nine worshippers were killed during Friday prayers on May 18, 2007.
Moreover, similarities had been found between the bombs in the two incidents such as identical tin boxes, arming devices, the same Telugu newspaper used to wrap them, and mobile phones used as remote triggers for both bombs, with SIM cards in those phones traced to the same shop in Jharkhand. Joining this list now is an alleged conversation between self-styled mahant Sudhakar Dwivedi and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, working president of extremist Hindu group ‘Abhinav Bharat’, both of whom have been arrested for Malegaon. The conversation in Hindi is found in the transcript of an audio file titled majorupadhyaya.wma and is believed to be recorded on January 25, 2008, one among several audio and video recordings Dwivedi is alleged to have made of his meetings with the others accused, including the Malegaon conspiracy meetings. The Sunday Express has a copy of the Hindi transcript which is a part of the Malegaon chargesheet filed in a Special MCOCA court on Tuesday.
In the alleged conversation, the retired Major is quoted as telling the mahant that they need to create dedicated groups or committees among themselves which will be responsible for tasks such as domestic propaganda and international propaganda. Upadhyay then goes on to purportedly say, "At the same time, kuch log aise ho jo ek jo musalmaanoney aur christianoney jo dehshat faila rakhi hai, us dehshat ka mukaabla karney ke liye action karkey bhi, jaise Hyderabad ki masjid mein hua ya aur bhi jagahon pe logon ne kiya. to yah koyi ISI-waala aakey nahi kar raha tha. Is daur mein, yah apna hi koyi aadmi tha. Mein apni jaankari ke taur pe kah sakta hoon ki yah vyakti tha, woh tha ya nahi tha, woh mein nahin jaanta, wah colonel batayenge." (At the same time, there should be some people who can counter the terrorism of Muslims and Christians through action, like what happened at the mosque in Hyderabad or at other places. This was not something done by the ISI. This was one of our own men. However, from what I know, I cannot pinpoint who was specifically responsible. That I do not know. That, the Colonel will tell us.)
The alleged conversation does not contain any more details about the Hyderabad incident. But as reported by The Indian Express on Friday, Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, named the main conspirator in the Malegaon case, allegedly told Dwivedi, Upadhyay and some other members of Abhinav Bharat at a meeting the next day, January 26, 2008, that he had conducted "two operations in the past and they were successful". Those remarks are also allegedly from an audio file on Dwivedi’s laptop and its transcript is also part of the Malegaon chargesheet. When contacted, acting ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi told The Sunday Express that the ATS had "alerted the investigating agencies after we found some parts of conversations between the conspirators were suspicious" and that police teams from Rajasthan, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat had also visited Mumbai to question Purohit, Dwivedi, Upadhyay and Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur.
"We have given all the evidence to the court. We have also communicated to the investigating agencies who came down for questioning that they could seek custody of the main conspirators if they feel the need for further questioning. We have also given the Gujarat team some inputs for the Modassa blast which they will have to take forward," he added. Lawyers defending the Abhinav Bharat members, however, say the alleged links to other blasts around the country are police theories and proving them in court would not be easy.
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SIT LIKELY TO SUMMON KODNANI, PATEL AGAIN (JAN 19, 2009, INDIAN EXPRESS)
The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) may again summon Maya Kodnani and Jaydeep Patel in the connection with the 2002 Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya riot cases. Sources in the SIT said on Sunday that to clarify certain issues in connection with their statements, the two may be called again during the visit of SIT head R K Raghavan to Gujarat on January 20.
Raghavan, however, refused to comment on the issue, saying things would be clear when he comes to the state. SIT officials had recorded statements of Kodnani, the Minister of State for Women & Child Development and Higher Education, and Patel, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader in December last year. Joint Commissioner of Police Ashish Bhatia had said that the statements would be verified with the facts of the case and further actions would be taken after that.
A number of witnesses in the two cases had named Kodnani and Patel as the accused for allegedly instigating and conducting riots at Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya after the Sabarmati Express carnage in February 2002. In December last year, the two leaders were summoned for the first time and their statements were recorded.
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KARNATAKA BJP MLA HELD FOR BRIBERY (JAN 30, 2009, REDIFF)
The Karnataka Lokayukta has trapped a MLA from the Bharatiya Janata Party while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 5,00000 on Thursday. Lokayukta Justice Santhosh Hegde told rediff.com that the MLA, Y Sampangi had promised a person named Farooq that he would settle a dispute regarding a site in Bengaluru. He also demanded Rs 5 lakh as bribe towards the same.
Farooq had initially approached the police regarding his dispute, but was directed to meet the MLA. He was told that only the MLA could sort out the matter following which he decided to meet the MLA. The meeting was fixed at the legislators home in Bengaluru for Thursday afternoon. While the money was changing hands, Farooq recorded the entire conversation and handed it over to the Lokayukta.
The Lokayukta team reached the spot and seized Rs 50,000 in cash and a cheque for Rs 4.5 lakh. Justice Hegde said that the MLA during questioning said that he was taking the money to settle the dispute but also added that the amount was not meant for him. However the Lokayukta team says that the conversation suggests clearly that the amount was meant for the MLA.
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SHIV SENA MP HELD FOR ATTACK ON HOTEL (JAN 27, 2009, TIMES OF INDIA)
Shiv Sena MP and Saamna executive editor Sanjay Raut was on Tuesday arrested for allegedly "leading the attack" on a five-star hotel in Mumbai last week but was later granted bail by a local court. The Rajya Sabha member was arrested by the Mumbai Police and produced before the Andheri metropolitan magistrate, which remanded him in judicial custody till February 5.
Raut’s lawyers then filed a bail application before the same court, which released him on a personal bond of Rs 5000. Raut was booked under IPC sections related to rioting, said a senior police official from Sahar police station. He was arrested on Tuesday morning in connection with the attack on Hotel Intercontinental in suburban Andheri by Shiv Sena-led Bhartiya Kamgar Sena (BKS) on January 21.
At least 53 BKS members, who were arrested in the case, were also granted bail of Rs 5000 each by the court. The mob had vandalized the lobby and kitchen of the hotel to protest the sacking of 21 employees of the hotel by the management.
- MNS does it again, now attacks Mumbai University (Jan 27, 2009, IBN)
- MNS men disrupt cultural programme, vandalise school (Jan 28, 2009, Hindustan Times)
- Governor summons Raj Thackeray for attack on Mumbai university (Jan 30, 2009, Times of India)
- Sena, MNS will have to pay for damage (Jan 29, 2009, Hindustan Times)
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AZAMGARH CLERICS CHARTER TRAIN TO PROTEST BATLA HOUSE ENCOUNTER (JAN 28, 2009, REDIFF)
Islamic clerics of Azamgarh are leading a train-load of Muslims to the national capital New Delhi [Images], where they propose to stage a demonstration on Thursday to mark their protest against what they termed as "framing of local youth as terrorists". Their anger was particularly against the killing of four young men from Azamgarh in the Batla House encounter in New Delhi a few months back. And the protest rally is aimed at pressing their demand for a judicial probe into the incident. And their feelings are so strong that the locally based Ulema Council has managed to raise Rs. 1.1 million to hire a 24-coach special train, titled ‘Ulema Special’, that will carry the group from Azamgarh to New Delhi on Wednesday evening.
"Our protest rally is slated for the Boat House at India Gate on Thursday," council convenor Maulana Aamir Rashadi said, just before embarking on his landmark journey from Azamgarh at noon on Wednesday. "We want a judicial inquiry to be conducted by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court," he said. Rashadi, who is known to have organised the entire show almost single-handedly, said , "It is high time the police puts brakes on their tendency to blame every terrorist act in the country on the youths from Azamgarh." According to him, "each of the three young men, killed in the police encounter at Batla House, were clearly victims of this very approach of the cops; but this must end now."
While about 2,000 persons were stated to be on board the special train, a larger number of clerics and students from Delhi based madrasas were expected to join the demonstration. Significantly, the passengers include the next of kin of the three youth – Atif , Ameed and Chota Sajid – who fell victim to police bullets in the Batla House encounter. Besides the family members of at least 10 others who were picked up from their homes in Serai Meer town in Azamgarh district and booked for the sensational terrorist strikes in Jaipur, Delhi and Ahmedabad. "Our objective is to make our voice heard across the country that the youth from Azamgarh is being targeted by the police of different states, who find it convenient to blame every terrorist attack anywhere on them," he pointed out.
Asked how he was able to fund a whole special train for which besides the booking amount of Rs.1.1 million, he had also made a security deposit of Rs.300,000, Rashadi shot back, "It is the people of Serai Meer and Azamgarh who have donated money out of their earnings." Rashadi’s Ulema Council was formed in November last year, shortly after cops started arresting youth from the district for their alleged terrorist nexus. Significantly, his son Talha Amir was arrested by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad at the Nagpur railway station last month . The cops then claimed that Talha was the fourth "terrorist" who escaped from the Batla House, but eventually failed to produce any substantive evidence against him following which he was granted bail by a Maharashtra court earlier this month.
When asked whether it was his son’s arrest that had prompted him to mobilise people for the Boat House protest rally in Delhi, Rashadi sought to clarify, "Certainly not; I had planned it more than a month before they picked up my son; though of course there is no doubt that he was also being implicated." Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh [Images] police was ensuring full security for the train that has to traverse across the eastern corner to the western tip of the sprawling state. "We have alerted every district to maintain a vigil all along the route of the train, which is scheduled to make the return journey from Delhi on Thursday night," said a police spokesman.
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ANTI-TERROR FIGHT ON PRIORITY LIST: PRATIBHA PATIL (JAN 26, 2009, INDIAN EXPRESS)
Calling the "concerted and well-planned attacks in Mumbai" as an example of a "ruthless operation undertaken to damage the confidence of India", President Pratibha Patil on Sunday said one of the priority tasks before the country was to "secure the nation against terrorist and fundamentalist elements".
"Government has put in place a new agency to deal with terrorist threats and has also brought in legislative changes. A determined, coordinated and concerted approach by all agencies to tackle this menace would be necessary. Our security personnel can be confident that every citizen of India is with them as they take action to safeguard our borders and secure our safety and security within the country," Patil said in her address to the nation on the eve of the 60th Republic Day of India.
The President added that technology should be used to counter terrorist threats to the nation. "We should be far ahead of the terrorists who are increasingly using sophisticated technology to carry out their violent agenda," she added. On the global economic slowdown, Patil said the "actions of some credit and banking institutions had resulted in a crisis of confidence all around".
"The need for strengthening oversight mechanisms for financial institutions and for rules which are clear, transparent and uniformly applied is being acutely felt. Some companies that over-extended or functioned in an unethical manner have caused losses to shareholders. Such incidents highlight the need for stronger corporate governance," the President said.
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MULAYAM UNDER ATTACK FROM PARTYMEN OVER KALYAN ISSUE (JAN 28, 2009, INDIAN EXPRESS)
Voices of protest within the Samajwadi Party (SP) are getting shriller against party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s recent poll pact with former BJP leader Kalyan Singh. Lok Sabha member Shafiqur Rahman Barq, already angry at being denied a ticket to contest the next elections, joined three other Muslim leaders of the party on Tuesday to launch a fresh attack against Mulayam. "Mulayam Singh Yadav has deviated from his secular credentials by teaming up with Kalyan Singh. The Muslim community is restless and angry over this move," the MP from Muradabad told reporters. "By forging a pact with Kalyan, Mulayam appears to be planning to play the Hindu card in the next elections."
"Mulayam’s clean chit to Kalyan Singh that the former BJP chief minister was not responsible for the demolition of Babri Masjid is baseless and factually incorrect," he said. "In fact, Kalyan Singh was sent to jail for a day by the courts for this. The Mulayam-Kalyan pact has added salt to the wounds of the Muslim community." Barq, however, said he had not quit the party and dared the leadership to expel him. He also hinted that he won’t make serious attempts to mobilise Muslim sentiments against the Mulayam-Kalyan pact by teaming up with other minority MPs.
In Lucknow, meanwhile, the party fielded a senior leader, also a Muslim, to defend the tie-up. Ahmed Hasan said that Muslims across the board had welcomed the development as this would weaken the communal forces, which would ultimately prevent L K Advani from becoming the Prime Minister. He said that Muslims know that Mulayam would never have any truck with the BJP to gain power, as was done by Mayawati thrice in the past. The Muslims also know that if Advani became Prime Minister, the whole country would become Gujarat for them, he added.
He defended the induction of Kalyan’s son Rajvir Singh into the party, which came in for criticism by senior party leader Mohammed Azam Khan. "What is new in it? Rajvir Singh was health minister in the previous SP government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Azam Khan was also a minister," said Hasan. Apart from Barq, three other Muslim MPs of the party – all denied tickets to fight the next elections – have voiced their protest against the electoral ties with the former BJP leader. They are Salim Sherwani, Afzal Ansari and Shahid Akhlaque. "Senior Muslim leaders of the SP, including Saleem Sherwani and party parliamentary board member Azam Khan, are seriously concerned by this pact," Barq said. He hinted that he might team up with Sherwani to forge a strategy.
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DALITS FORCED INTO MARTYRDOM (JAN 30, 2009, TIMES OF INDIA)
Martyrs’ Day is here. Sixty-one years after his death, one of the issues closest to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart untouchability remains unresolved even in his home state. In fact, Dalits are forced to be martyrs in various ways. "While Gandhi gave Dalits the sobriquet of Harijan’ or people of God, this has improved their living conditions only marginally over the years. His dream of Antyodaya’ or rising of the lowest in the caste hierarchy remains unfulfilled," says Dr Varsha Ganguly, director of Behavioural Science Centre (BSC), an NGO which works on issues of marginalised sections of society.
Four issues continue to plague Dalits in Gujarat, who make up 7.5 per cent of the population, which amount to human rights violations. A dharna is being organised at Sabarmati Ashram on February 3 by Gujarat State Gram Panchayat Social Justice Committee Manch on two of these regularising cemetery grounds for marginalised communities and demanding withdrawal of the policy to entrust responsibility of discarding dead animals in villagesto Dalits.
An ongoing study by BSC mapping labour patterns in south Gujarat, Ahmedabad city and Sabarkantha and Banaskantha, has revealed the pathetic living conditions of migrant labour, 70 per cent of which consists of Dalits and tribals. Contractors pay them in advance for the season. As a result, labour is bonded with no negotiating power. They are paid less than minimum wages and have to work as long as asked.
The study reveals there are around 50,000 labourers in salt industry, 40,000 in Bt cotton farms, one lakh in sugarcane plantations in south Gujarat and at least 40,000 in construction sector in Ahmedabad who face these conditions. According to the Panchayati Raj Act in the state, it’s Dalits who have to handle dead animals. BSC is agitating for the removal of this clause from the Act. "This is a historical blunder made by the state perpetrating the caste system. Since Dalits were doing this job, which hurts their dignity, it was legitimised," says Dr Ganguly.
As per state government policy, Dalits should be given 10 per cent posts as mid-day meal sanchalaks (organisers). "Ironically, these sanchalaks have to hire non-Dalit cooks, as if Dalits do the cooking children belonging to other communities will not eat the food," says Dr Ganguly. Though Dalits are Hindus, they bury their dead. This is because they are not allowed to enter Hindu crematoriums. Out of 600 villages in nine districts of the state, only 58 have separate graveyards for Dalits. As they are not given land, they bury their dead anywhere and are not able to accord respect to them.
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