IAMC Weekly News Roundup - February 13th, 2017

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Peace, Pluralism and Justice 

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

ISI agents arrested in Madhya Pradesh linked to BJP (Feb 10, 2017, India Today)

The arrest of 11 alleged ISI operatives by the Madhya Pradesh Anti Terrorist Squad on Thursday has come to bite the ruling BJP after allegations surfaced that one of the arrested operatives was a relative of a sitting BJP corporator.

The Congress has now alleged that Dhruv Saxena - another arrested operative - was the district coordinator of the party's IT cell in Madhya Pradesh. Saxena was also seen attending an event that was addressed by state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Pictures of Saxena attending the event in saffron robes have gone viral on social media.

Congress on Friday held a protest where demonstrators burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and raised anti-ISI slogans. "They talk about character and culture but now ISI agents have been arrested from across the state and they are BJP leaders. They have connections with top BJP leader," PC Sharma of the Bhopal district Congress said.…

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/isi-agents-arrested-in-madhya-pradesh-linked-to-bjp-party-leaders-privately-express-anguish-over-possible-infiltration/1/880043.html

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How a Murder Victim's Family Prevented Communal Clashes in Poll-bound Bijnor (Feb 13, 2017, News18.com)

…Police was deployed in Peda and Nayagaon villages and communal tensions were high. Leading the protests were local BJP leaders, who demanded the arrest of all the accused.… On Saturday afternoon, while 15 districts in western UP were heading to polls, BJP workers blocked one of the main crossings in the city for five hours and demanded "Justice for Vishal". Traders, too, downed their shutters in protest. That is when Vishal's family realized the situation could get out of control.

"Some people who were protesting were asking us to bring Vishal's body on to the main crossing so that we could all protest together. When I went out, I noticed that the crowd was getting aggressive. In fact, a couple of people in the crowd were even drunk and started shouting expletives at the other community. We realized that the situation could soon get out of control. We decided to just go back home instead of joining the protest. If we had gone there with Vishal's body, passions would have erupted and there would be riots in Bijnor. I am glad that better sense prevailed over our family. We don't want any more bloodshed," Rajiv Singh says.

…Two days after the clashes broke out, police investigations revealed that Aishwarya Chuadhary, the district president of the RSS-affiliated Adhivakta Sangh, had been accused of leading the violence. Statements of the accused, police had said, named both Chaudhary and his gunner. According to reports, the violence had died down after an initial flare up but Aishwarya Chaudhary had instigated the mob to return and fire upon members of the other community. Cops also recovered evidence, including pictures of Chaudhary at the scene. Interestingly, Chaudhary's wife Shuchi Chaudhary is the BJP candidate for the Bijnor assembly constituency.…

http://www.news18.com/news/india/how-the-victims-family-prevented-clashes-in-poll-bound-bijnor-1348391.html

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Sunil Joshi murder case: Prosecution questions Sadhvi Pragya Singh's acquittal, says 'no ground for appeal' (Feb 9, 2017, Financial Express)

Soon after the acquittal of Sadhvi Pragya Singh in the Sunil Joshi murder case, the prosecution has written to the Madhya Pradesh government that 'there is no ground for appeal'.… Sadhvi along with seven other accused were acquitted by the First Additional Sessions Judge, Dewas, earlier this month.… Joshi's sister-in-law Shailaja questioned Sadhvi's acquittal a day after the verdict came out. She also indicated that the family was indifferent to the verdict or to an appeal.

As per records, the probe into the murder of Joshi was linked with a larger plot of terror by alleged Hindu extremists and the case took several twists and turns which prompted the judge to remark, "The analysis of entire evidence reveals that either out of prejudice or some unknown reasons the agencies did not seriously investigate the case and collected weak and mutually contradictory evidence that is not enough to prove the charges. The contrary nature of evidence has cast a serious doubt over the prosecution story."

The judge had also highlighted certain glaring contradictions. Even after 2 years of Joshi's murder, the MP police was not able to file a closure report. In 2010, ATS in Rajasthan (under the Congress regime) made the first arrest in the case, that of Harshad Solanki. The arrest was made in connection with the Ajmer blast and was later brought to Dewas on transit demand. As per Dewas police Solanki was also accused in Gujarat's Best Bakery case, who shot Joshi. According to the chargesheet filed by the police in the Dewas court in February 2011, Sadhvi was a conspirator and both Solanki and Ramesh on whose two-wheeler he was riding pillion at the time of murder had confessed to the crime.…

http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/sunil-joshi-murder-case-prosecution-questions-sadhvi-pragya-singhs-acquittal-says-no-ground-for-appeal/544302/

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Trump told: US-based Hindutva groups funding hatred against India's Christians, Muslims under FCRA cover (Feb 11, 2017, Counterview)

US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has asked newly-appointed President Donald Trump to put "religious freedom and human rights at the heart of all trade, aid, and diplomatic interactions with India" and urge the Government of India "to push Indian states that have adopted anti-conversion laws to repeal or amend them to conform to international norms."

An independent, bipartisan US federal government commission, in its latest recommendations, which have also been sent to the US Secretary of State, and the Congress, USCIRF, referring to the clampdown on NGOs under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976, has sought their intervention to "urge the Indian government to immediately lift its sanctions against NGOs working for the welfare of the minorities in India."

In an unusually sharp critique of the BJP-led NDA government, the USCIRF wants the US administration to identify and act against "Hindutva groups that raise funds from US citizens and support hate campaigns in India", adding, "Such groups should be banned from operating in the US if they are found to spread hatred against religious minorities in India." Referring to the March 2016 amendment to the FCRA, introduced "to legalize funding by foreign entities to political parties", the USCIRF states, "The amendment enables foreign Hindu organizations to send money to India-based radical Hindu organizations".…

http://www.counterview.net/2017/02/trump-told-us-based-hindutva-groups.html

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Religious minorities, Dalits face discrimination in India, says US body (Feb 9, 2017, Business Standard)

The religious minority communities and Dalits face discrimination and persecution in India where hate crimes, social boycotts and forced conversion have escalated dramatically since 2014, an independent bipartisan American body has claimed, asking the US to put human rights at the heart of trade and diplomatic interactions with India.

"Under Congress Party and BJP-led governments, religious minority communities and Dalits, both have faced discrimination and persecution due to a combination of overly broad or ill-defined laws, an inefficient criminal justice system, and a lack of jurisprudential consistency," said a report released by US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that monitors violation of religious freedom abroad.

"In particular, since 2014, hate crimes, social boycotts, assaults, and forced conversion have escalated dramatically," says the report 'Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India' which has been authored by Iqtidat Karamat Cheema, who is director for Institute for Leadership and Community Development, in Birmingham, England.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/religious-minorities-dalits-face-discrimination-in-india-says-us-body-117020900336_1.html

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Mathura BJP candidate booked for hate and communal speech (Feb 6, 2017, Times of India)

Mathura police has registered a case of communal and hate speech against BJP Yuva wing state general secretary and party's candidate from Maat constituency of Mathura, Kunwar Singh Nishad.

Confirming the move, ADM, Ravindra Kumar, said cases have been registered against two people, including the BJP candidate, for using indecent words and communal and hate language during public meeting at Ashok Kumar Mishra Girls Degree College on Sunday.

According to police while addressing the meeting Nishad dubbed himself to be a true follower of "bharat mata" (mother India) and said he would not tolerate any "khilwad" with her.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/56997279.cms

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35% of Muzaffarnagar riot victims not registered with EC as voters: Survey (Feb 9, 2017, Times of India)

At least 35% of people who were displaced after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots are not registered as "voters" with the Election Commission, finds a survey conducted by NGO Afkar India Foundation. With elections in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli just a couple of days away (February 11), a complaint in this regard has been filed with the EC.

While the study was conducted after the local administration concluded its voter ID drive, the survey findings suggest that there are colonies in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli where nearly 40% people don't have a voter ID. For instance, in Shamli's Alflan colony, out of 900 residents eligible to cast their ballot, only 11 have voter ID cards. The survey reveals that 19,000 "voters" were displaced after the 2013 riots and 6,650 of them don't have voter IDs.…

Akram Akhtar, who runs Afkar India Foundation and is the co-author of "Living Apart: Communal Violence and Forces Displacement", a field report which was brought to fore by social activists in September last year, said, "I have filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India and the State Election Commission and hope that action is taken. Voting is the right of all Indians and keeping riot victims aloof is not a good sign."…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/57046456.cms

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Year after sedition row, JNU rejects ABVP request for lecture (Feb 8, 2017, DNA India)

The JNU administration has turned down a request by ABVP for a "nationalism lecture" tomorrow fearing it may lead to tension on campus on the first anniversary of the sedition row.

After a year of controversies following the arrest of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar for sedition on JNU campus, the varsity administration is treading cautiously to maintain "peace and harmony" on "crucial" days.

The event against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru last year triggered a nationalism debate across the country hogging all the "negative" limelight for JNU, which has led the administration to turn down ABVP's request for a "nationalism lecture" tomorrow fearing it may disrupt peace on campus.…

http://www.dnaindia.com/academy/report-year-after-sedition-row-jnu-rejects-abvp-request-for-lecture-2316499

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Delhi High Court seeks polygraph tests to trace missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed (Feb 11, 2017, New Indian Express)

The Delhi High Court on Friday said that it had asked the city police to explore methods like lie-detector tests for those who are connected with the disappearance of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Najeeb Ahmed, as all other leads have failed to yield any result so far.

Najeeb, 27, has been missing since October 15 last year, following an altercation with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) students at his hostel the night before. Later, Najeeb's mother Fatima Nafees had moved a habeas corpus plea in the court seeking help to trace her son.…

"The student had gone missing in October (2016), it is February now. Nearly four months have gone by and none of the leads is going anywhere. We asked for polygraph tests as the other leads have not yielded any results," said a Bench comprising Justices G S Sistani and Vinod Goel.…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2017/feb/11/delhi-high-court-seeks-polygraph-tests-to-trace-missing-jnu-student-najeeb-ahmed-1569329.html

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RSS leader arrested for murder of convert (Feb 9, 2017, Indian Express)

An RSS leader has been arrested in Kerala's Malappuram district in connection with the murder of an upper-caste Hindu man months after he converted to Islam. Madathil Narayanan, 47, is an RSS pracharak and saha karyavahak of the organisation in Tirur taluk. Earlier, 14 other workers of BJP or RSS have been arrested in connection with the murder of P Faizal, a native of Tirur.

Police have identified Narayanan as the key conspirator in the murder of Faizal, who was hacked to death on November 19, a day before he was to return to Gulf where he was employed. Faizal, an upper caste Hindu Nair, had converted to Islam a few months before he was murdered.

Police said Narayanan was also an accused in the murder of a priest Ayyappan after he converted to Islam in 1998. A trial court had acquitted Narayanan and five others, but the high court sentenced them to life imprisonment. But on July 20 last year, the Supreme Court acquitted all the accused. Narayanan allegedly plotted Faizal's murder four months after the apex court order set him free.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/rss-leader-arrested-for-murder-of-convert-p-faizal/

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Opinions and Editorials

ISI spies and sex rackets: BJP's MP unit has become a haven for criminals - By Rahul Noronha (Feb 15, 2017, Dailyo.in)

In a major embarrassment to the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh, two persons arrested by the police's Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) during an investigation into a spy ring turned out to have strong links with the party. The party that is known to wear its nationalism on its sleeve initially responded by not reacting to the arrests and then moved on to give clarifications on how those arrested had peripheral roles before finally acknowledging the action and congratulating the ATS for its work.

If this were not enough, two BJP office bearers were also nabbed by the police in separate cases of running sex rackets. The ongoing crackdown against illegal mining in the state also had some relatives of BJP leaders in the net. The penetration of the party by criminal elements should be a cause for concern to the party. In November 2016, Satvinder and Dadu were arrested in Jammu for supplying classified information to their handlers across the border. The MP ATS had been alerted after a state link was found in it. After mounting surveillance on the suspects, ATS arrested 11 people from Gwalior, Bhopal, Satna and Jabalpur.…

Close on the heels of the spy ring, the Bhopal police cracked a sex racket in which another BJP leader was found involved. The Shivpuri police arrested Rajji Randhawa, a local BJP leader on charges of pushing a girl in Indore in the flesh trade.… The embarrassment was evident when BJP state president Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan told state delegates that he was reprimanded by BJP president Amit Shah for the involvement of criminals in the party. Whether that happened or not, one doesn't know but it is up to the party leadership to weed out criminal elements. It, however, seems improbable in the MP BJP unit as of now given the welcoming-with-open-arms policy which the party seems to be following in the state.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/bjp-isi-agant-dhruv-saxena-pakistan/story/1/15670.html

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Who Paid for the Pro-BJP Exit Poll that Dainik Jagran Published? - By Siddharth Varadarajan (Feb 15, 2017, The Wire)

Many sins were committed when the owners of Dainik Jagran decided to run an exit poll on their website on February 12, 2017 claiming the BJP had a massive lead over its rivals in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

The publication and dissemination of the poll in the middle of a multi-phase set of elections was a violation of explicit guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India… since we know the poll was a form of paid news, the individual or party that has paid the bill needs to disclose the amount and method of payment as part of their formal returns to the Election Commission.…

how did Dainik Jagran end up crediting 'Resource Development International' with the poll? This is a question the police and the EC need to ask the owner of the newspaper. Curiously, there is another organisation with the same initials, RDI - short for 'Research and Development Initiative' - that not only has a history of conducting election surveys but has links to the Bharatiya Janata Party as well.…

https://thewire.in/109087/who-paid-for-the-pro-bjp-exit-poll-that-dainik-jagran-published/

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Rewriting history to suit Hindutva: The Vasundhara Raje govt is insulting the legacy of Maharana Pratap - By Sandipan Sharma (Feb 11, 2017, First Post)

…A few years ago, for instance, the department of public relations of the Rajasthan state government came up with a unique explanation for Raje's election as chief minister. In a "fan-ticle" published in its official publication, the department said Raje's ancestor Jayappa Scindia, a ruler of Gwalior, was killed in a battle in Rajasthan's Nagaur in 1759. The magazine claimed his dying words were that his soul will get mukti (salvation) only when a Scindia becomes Rajasthan's ruler. Thus the ascension of Maharani Vasundhara Raje Scindia to the democratic throne, even though it took a good three centuries.

If history can be rewritten for the benefit of the winners of electoral battles, imagine how followers of the royalty would be itching to control the narrative around some of their legendary warriors and kings, especially the big three - Prithviraj Chouhan of Ajmer, and Rana Sanga and Maharana Pratap of Mewar.

The Rajasthan government's latest attempt to rewrite history is to announce Maharana Pratap as the winner of the Battle of Haldighati fought in 1576. The post-truth was proposed by a BJP legislator from Jaipur and readily forwarded by the vice-chancellor of the University of Rajasthan for appropriate action. While the verdict on the new winner of the battle is awaited, some Rajput leaders and legislators have joined the chorus for rewriting history and declaring Rana Pratap as the winner.…

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/bjps-vasundhara-raje-govt-distorts-fact-around-maharana-pratap-to-suit-hindutva-politics-3277604.html

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Rijiju's Hindu conversion tweet is a mischievous attempt to twist facts - By Aasheesh Sharma (Feb 14, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju has invited the wrath of Opposition parties with his remark about the depleting Hindu population. In a tweet on Monday, Rijiju said: "Hindu population is reducing in India because Hindus never convert people. Minorities in India are flourishing unlike some countries around (sic)."

Rijiju is not the first member of the saffron brigade in the country to whip up passions by raising the spectre of majority Hindus being outnumbered by the minorities owing to conversion or much higher rates of population growth.…

Not just is Rijiju's tweet the latest in the litany of alarmist statements saffron organisations such as the Vishva Hindu Parishad want to propagate, it couldn't have been further from reality, if Census data and projections are anything to go by. According to the 2011 Census, in absolute numbers, the population of Hindus stood at 966 million, rising from 828 million in 2001. In comparison, the absolute population of Muslims in the 2011 Census was 138 million.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/rijiju-s-hindu-conversion-tweet-is-a-mischievous-attempt-to-twist-facts/story-IoS3SK0BVDDqKwP5DuoQHL.html

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I lost 13 years, my wife and my mother because of false terror charges: Hanif Pakitwala - By Amit Kumar (Feb 12, 2017, Twocircles.net)

…Hanif was one of the two people absolved of all charges last week by the Supreme Court in relation to the May 2002 Ahmedabad tiffin bomb blast case. For the past 13 years, Hanif had been labeled a terrorist; he had never been to the police station in his life until the fateful night of April 28, 2003.… To his horror, he found that he along with 21 others had been accused of bomb blasts in the city when he was presented in the court on May 1, 2003.

"Since then, I have been wondering. Why me?" Hanif says. To make matters worse for Hanif, he along with others were implicated under the now defunct law POTA, which denied bail. But, Hanif says, he knew that since he was innocent, there was nothing that could go wrong. At least that is what he thought.…

Over the next week, as his release papers were getting ready, Hanif could barely sleep. Finally, on Wednesday when he was released, he stepped out and hugged his family in the open air for the first time. "We cried…we cried a lot. I cried thinking of my departed mother, wife, who were waiting for this day.…

http://twocircles.net/2017feb12/404601.html

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In Its Third Month, India's Cash Shortage Begins to Bite - By Geeta Anand and Hari Kumar (Jan 24, 2017, New York Times)

First, Yashpal Singh Rathore's marriage was delayed by his future in-laws, who, like most Indians, ran short of cash after Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned the country's largest currency notes in November. Then the 29-year-old lost his job when the ensuing cash crunch hit demand for motorcycles and scooters sold by the company where he worked, Hero MotoCorp Ltd. After that, the prospective in-laws refused to let the wedding go forward until he found another job. "So I lost my job and I lost my marriage," he said in an interview at a protest, where he shouted slogans with more than 100 red-flag-waving workers let go by Hero.

Mr. Rathore is one among a large number of Indians - the precise number is not known - who have lost their jobs since Nov. 8, when Mr. Modi abruptly banned 86 percent of the country's currency in a bid to eliminate "black money," currency on which taxes had not been paid. For the sake of secrecy, the government largely avoided printing replacement notes in advance. So there has been an acute and protracted shortage of cash as the government struggles to catch up. That, in turn, has proved economically damaging.

Exactly how harmful remains hard to determine, but the available data is not reassuring. Demand for vegetables is declining because people don't have the money to pay for them, for example, and some service industries are reporting steep job losses. The International Monetary Fund this month cut its projected growth rate for India by one percentage point for the current fiscal year, to 6.6 percent. While the full impact is still difficult to discern, there is little doubt who is suffering the most. "This has actually hurt the poor enormously," said Nasser Munjee, chairman of DCB Bank and a company director at HDFC and Tata Motors.…

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/24/world/asia/in-its-third-month-indias-cash-shortage-begins-to-bite.html

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