Peace, Pluralism and Justice
In this issue of IAMC News Digest
Opinions & Editorials
The water in the cistern at Futi Masjid in Dariapur has not tasted sweeter in over 500 years of its existence. Had it not been for AMC's decision to cut off water supply to Central and North Zones for two days - due to ongoing work to merge water supply lines in the area - such exemplary display of communal harmony may not have been witnessed by the city on Friday.
At one end of the cistern, Muslim men performed the vazu (washing hands and feet before offering the namaz), and at the other, Hindu women queued up to fill buckets, visibly overwhelmed by the largeheartedness of people they had never known before.
The 14th century masjid is surrounded by Hindu localities namely Lodhwad, Rupapara, Ambedkar vaas, Vankar vaas and Mena vaas. Not a single Muslim family lives in these localities. The Muslims who visit the masjid to offer namaz come from Naginapole, Limbdi, Dabhgarwad, Mastan mohalla and other places.
Since the Hindu residents learnt about AMC's decision to cut water supply only on Friday morning through the newspapers, they could not stock up on water the previous day. The masjid trustees, who realised how difficult it would be for the residents to go without water for two days, offered to provide them water from the masjid's vazukhana between 2 and 5 pm. They also put up a board outside the masjid in the morning, announcing the same.
This came as a huge respite to the Hindus in the area who were worried how they would go about with their daily chores without water. Carrying buckets in hand, the sari-clad women entered the masjid's compound for the first time with prayers of gratitude on their lips. By the time the namaz began at 5.30 pm, more than 2,000 women had carried home several thousand gallons of water in their buckets. …Back to Top]
The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern over prolonged incarceration of accused in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases without being held guilty due to delay in decisions.
A Bench led by Justice H L Dattu said the court had been receiving letters from some of them, questioning how long they were supposed to languish behind the bars though they had not been convicted.
"They say they have been languishing for over 10 years now. They cannot even come out on bail as the High Court says we cannot do anything. We want to be able to tell them that you remain inside or that you can come out. Trials have to be completed," observed the bench.
The bench was taking stock of the status of the trials of nine riot cases that were investigated by the Special Investigation Team. While judgments have been delivered in six of them, the trials still await the final word. In one such pending case that relates to the killing of three British nationals in post-Godhra riots, the Bench directed the trial court to conclude trials and deliver verdict within three months.
In Gulberg Society case where former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 killed, the Bench noted that a stay was operating against pronouncement of judgment by the apex court. It asked SIT and amicus curiae Harish Salve to move an application so that the stay order could be modified. It would take up the matter next on September 16 for passing necessary orders.
'Reinstatement of Cops accused of fake encounters is clear indication that administration is helping them' (Aug 31, 2014, Twocircles.net)
"On availing the bail, the respective applicants shall not directly or indirectly make an inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him to disclose such facts to the Court or to any other authority", said Bombay High Court while granting bail to IPS officer Abhay Chudasama and two others in the 2005 fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin. The order was pronounced on 28th April 2014 by Bombay High Court Justice A R Joshi.
Such caution by the high court in Chudasama's case was not exception but the usual practice of court of law forewarning accused granted bail by the court with the intention that although court is releasing accused from prison but allegations against him still hold till judged ultimately by the trial court. Because of this after releasing on bail he must remain away from everything which comes under the domain of evidence against him so that 'his personal liberty' granted by court should not influence or tamper any material evidence of the case nor even because of his simple physical presence. …
While G L Singhal has been reinstated to the position of Group Commandant in the State Reserve Police (SRP) on 28th May 2014, Abhay Chudasma has been made the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Vigilance Squad in the DGP's office, Gandhinagar with the notification issued on the night of 14th Aug 2014. This means that Chudasama will have special powers with his posting to conduct raids anywhere in Gujarat state to curb crimes.
Both these officers were earlier suspended by Gujarat government following their arrests but their reinstatement soon after the grant of bail raises a few unanswered questions for the Anandi Ben led BJP government in Gujarat.
The foremost and utmost important question having legal implications is that reinstating such tainted officers, who have not yet been cleared from criminal charges, to an elite post in the state police force offering wide range of powers of summoning any person in the state or sanctioning prosecution against any accused person in the state can certainly influence the witnesses - many of whom are their subordinate police personnel. Who will assure that the witnesses against them in their own criminal cases will not be influenced or that prosecution evidences against them will not be hampered in any way due to their reinstatement? …
Caught on camera: BJP MP asks supporters to 'convert 100 Muslim girls for 1 Hindu girl' (Aug 27, 2014, Deccan Chronicle)
BJP MP Yogi Adityanath triggered a massive row after an undated video surfaced, in which he is caught on camera asking his supporters to marry girls of another community to set the records straight. In the video, Yogi Adityanath is seen addressing his supporters and saying, "We have decided that if they convert one Hindu girl, we will convert 100 Muslim girls."
However, on Wednesday he said that his remark on 'love jihad' is not authentic and blamed the media for showing unauthentic news. This is not the first time when Yogi Adityanath has stirred controversy.
Earlier, while addressing the Parliament on the issue of Communal Violence Bill, he accused the opposition Congress of working at the behest of Pakistan. Adityanath is currently facing charges of inciting communal tension in Gorakhpur in 2007.
Police have announced a cash reward of Rs 2,500 for providing information about 22 accused absconding in connection with six gang-rape cases in Phugana and Lank villages of the district during riots last year. "A reward of Rs 2,500 would be given to those providing information about any of the 22 gang rape accused who have been absconding since the incident," SSP HN Singh said.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the riots had identified 25 accused in six gang-rape cases during the riots last year. Six women had complained that they were gang-raped during riots and their houses were burnt.
According to SIT inspector, Mala Yadav, "Only three accused identified as Vedpal, Rockey and Maheshvir have been arrested and remaining 22 accused are absconding." Court had also initiated attachment proceedings against the absconding accused. …
India trapped in communal cauldron; Uttar Pradesh atop five worst-hit states (Aug 27, 2014, Hindustan Times)
Repeated communal flare-ups have put the heat on the Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre, but data available with Parliament show such incidents are not new. UP leads the table of five worst-hit states between 2009 and 2013. In these five years, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat have witnessed 2,389 cases of communal flare-ups. …
Data show UP averaged 12 communal incidents per month on an average during this period. Official statistics from answers to questions raised in Parliament also show that in this five-year period, as many as 39 communal incidents occurred on an average in these five states each month, killing 9 people and injuring 114.
Communal unrest in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, came under the spotlight amid talk of polarisation of voters. Incidents of communal violence have been reported after the NDA government came to power, but numbers do not back the perception that they have risen sharply.
Statistics available for May and June, the first half of Modi's rule, show 113 incidents of communal violence took place across the country, claiming 15 lives. On extrapolation this comes to 678 incidents in a year, which is below the annual average of 706 cases for the years 2009-2013.
BJP MLA Sangeet Som, accused of instigating last year's Muzaffarnagar riots in UP, has been accorded 'Z' category security, just a notch lower than the highest protection extended to a threatened VIP. It was approved by the home ministry after intelligence inputs warned of a threat to his life from alleged extremist elements.
Som, who represents the Sardhana assembly seat in western UP, is likely to be protected by CRPF commandos. "We have received a letter from the Centre regarding upgrade of Som's security (from Y category) to Z category," UP's IG (Law and Order) Amrendra Singh Sengar was quoted by PTI as saying. The letter has been forwarded to the agency concerned, he said.
The move to grant 'Z' security cover to the riot-accused legislator was slammed by opposition parties, including the Congress, SP and JD(U), which called it "a joke on the victims of Muzaffarnagar riots". But the BJP defended the government's decision as based on "independent assessment" of the threat perception by the intelligence agencies. …
However, the Congress minced no words in criticizing the move. "It's a weird thing. It's a strange government. Those who are victims of riots are running from pillar to post and those who are riot-accused are getting Z category security … nothing can be a bigger irony, a bigger joke with those whose houses were burnt and those who suffered huge losses," remarked Congress leader Manish Tewari.
BJP leader Yogi Adityanath on Sunday came under attack from the Congress and other Opposition parties for his controversial remarks on Muslims. "He always makes statements which can lead to disputes. It is very unfortunate to talk such things about a particular community," Congress leader Rashid Alvi said a day after the firebrand BJP leader said riots happen in Uttar Pradesh where Muslims are more than 20% in numbers.
CPI leader D Raja termed as "absurd" the Gorakhpur MP's remarks. "It also shows a rabid communal interpretation of the situation that since Muslims are some 20% or more, that causes communal strife." he said. …
The BJP MP has already been under attack in recent days after two CDs surfaced in which he is shown making inflammatory speeches against minorities.
The Meerut Commissioner in his report on last month's riots in Saharanpur has reportedly blamed the local MP Raghav Lakhanpal for fanning tension besides indicting district authorities for failing to assess the situation and control the rioting mob.
Notably, the report of Meerut Commissioner Bhupendra Singh is almost identical to the "findings" of a committee set up by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and headed by senior Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav. It had also blamed the local MP and BJP workers for their negative role in the riots that left three dead and hundreds of shops gutted.
The Commissioner's report states that despite requests from local officials, Mr. Lakhanpal and some other BJP leaders failed to cooperate with them and moved around in the city in their vehicles, thus fanning tension. Senior State government officials confirmed that the Commissioner's report has been submitted to the government, but refused to share the details.
Armed with the two reports, the government was now planning to take action against those named in the report, government sources said. However, due to by-elections, the government might postpone taking penal action, they added.…
Concerned over trial by media, which is often supplied with crucial facts on evidence by investigating agencies and prosecuting officers, the Supreme Court Thursday set about to consider framing guidelines for media over covering criminal cases and briefing by investigating agencies.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha described the issue as "very serious" and said the court would consider some guidelines to be put in place for balancing the rights and interests of all the stakeholders.
The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman, noted that the apex court needed to delve into the issue in the wake of growing instances of trials by media and public condemnation of accused on the basis of information provided by police and prosecutors although the trial remains to conclude. …
The bench is also set to examine the guidelines to ensure investigation into cases of fake encounters, as placed on record by PUCL, NHRC and the Bombay High Court.
Two minor girls, aged seven and eight, were raped in a south Delhi temple by a 70-year-old priest on Janmashtami day, at a time when celebrations were on in full swing. Baba Vishvabandhu, who is also accused of molesting the girls for over a week, was arrested that very day (August 18) after the girls' parents lodged a complaint at Mehrauli police station.
The incident, which took place in a village near Mehrauli, came to light after the eight-year-old girl complained to her mother of pain in her lower abdomen and difficulty passing urine before finally breaking down in tears and revealing the truth. The mother went to the house of her daughter's friend, where she too narrated the same story.
The girls told their parents the priest would molest them and put his fingers in their private parts every time they went to the temple to play or to eat 'prasad' over the past week. He would threaten them and also offer money and food to buy their silence.
Family members and villagers surrounded the temple, dragged out the priest - a well-known figure in the area - and beat him up before going to the police. The children were taken to AIIMs where a medical test confirmed rape.…
Opinions and Editorials
History never repeats itself exactly. So, though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - a creation of India's own fascist movement, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - won a majority in the 2014 elections, though its leader is more an RSS product than any other leader hitherto, and though he was backed by the capitalist class with a unity and enthusiasm unprecedented in history, it would be inaccurate to say that a fascist government has taken office in New Delhi. It is not that 2010s India is not 1930s Germany or 1920s Italy, nor that concepts can be stretched to meaninglessness. We just do not know as yet.
If, as Nicos Poulantzas pointed out, a fascist state is, like a Bonapartist one or a military dictatorship, an exceptional form of capitalist state, what distinguishes it from the other two is that it is able to supplement state power with its own autonomous political force - such as the fascist or Nazi movements or the RSS - in the service of bourgeois interests. Whether the Modi government crosses the bounds of constitutionality or the norms of bourgeois rule - which in India, with its everyday police brutality, judicial malfeasance and executive and legislative corruption, are admittedly rather wide in any case - to become an exceptional state, and whether it supplants or supplements state force with Sangh parivar goons, and does so in ways that assert their autonomy from its capitalist backers remains to be seen.
Events may (is one being too hopeful?) unfold in ways that sidestep these possibilities. That the new government contains these possibilities is not in doubt. Its character and path to power evince similarities to fascism strong enough that it would be a dereliction of intellectual duty not to consider them in trying to determine what it means and portends.
Not only is the BJP part of the cadre-based Hindu-supremacist Sangh parivar which also has a mass base; cults of personality and "decisionism" surround Modi. RSS cadres have campaigned for Modi on a scale and with zeal they never showed any other BJP leader.4 Moreover, as Ian Kershaw reminds us, a fascist movement or party "can gain power only if the traditional elites prove incapable of controlling the mechanisms of rule, and if they are ultimately prepared to help engineer a fascist takeover and collaborate in fascist rule".…
Citizens For Democracy strongly condemns the communal sensitive remarks made by Yogi Adityanath in a programme 'Aap ki Adalat' on 'India TV' on Saturday the 30th August, 2014. In that programme which is reported in various newspapers, he has publicly blamed the Muslim community for being responsible for instigating the riots. He has publicly declared that where there are more than 35 percent Muslims, there is no place for non-Muslims. He has publicly justified his provocative speeches in the past in which he said that if 'a Hindu is killed, 10 Muslims will be killed in retaliation'.
He has publicly said that if he has a 'mala' (rosary) in one hand, he also carries a 'bhala' (javelin) in the other and that as a 'Sanyasi' he has no qualm in punishing the evil elements. He has publically charged that 'love jihad' is a part of the strategy to turn India into a Muslim country. He has publically said, casting aspersions on the loyalty and integrity of the Muslim community as well as giving a veiled threat to it, "if you want to live here, you will have to respect Indian culture and traditions. You cannot have your body here but mind in Pakistan."
All the aforesaid statements made by Yogi Adityanath are criminal offences amounting to generate hatred and enmity against the Muslim community. He is straight away liable to be prosecuted under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code which provides punishment of imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or with fine or with both to anyone who by words, either spoken or written promotes or attempts to promote , on grounds of religion, race or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or caste or communities, and who commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different communities and which disturbs and is likely to disturb the public tranquility. …
It is obvious that Yogi Adityanath is trying to polarize communities for electoral gains in view of the forthcoming elections in UP to serve narrow political interest for his party that is BJP. Citizens For democracy hopes that Shri Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister, will rise above the narrow sectarian political interests, and will prove true to the oath he has taken to uphold the values and principles of the Indian Constitution; and therefore appeals to him to take immediate action against Yogi Adityanath by arresting and prosecuting him as per law in the interest of maintenance of peace and communal harmony in the country.
If anyone wants to document the slow death of a bustling town thanks to sectarian politics, she should pay a visit to Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. The once industrial capital of western UP, located only 128 kilometres from Delhi, is today a pale shadow of itself following the 2013 August-September communal strife in the area. The social fabric of the town is in tatters with Hindus and Muslims marking out their own territories, areas that are no-go zones for the 'other' community.
Business is down with out-of-town Muslim labourers refusing to come back to the riot-hit town, women are afraid to go out and school/college-going girls have to be chaperoned every time they go out of their homes. There are also reports that Muslims are selling their property under duress and fleeing to safer areas and there are still thousands of riot victims who are yet to be compensated. The atmosphere is tense and stifling and any spark, however small, is enough to set off another inferno. …
There are several reasons for such unending rounds of conflagrations but if one has to single out the main ones, it would be the weak State response to the riots and to those who have been affected by it and lack of closure of pending cases, which is being perceived, correctly so, as a denial of justice. In other words, in one year's time, nothing has changed, only the wounds have been allowed to fester. This uneasiness and fear can spread to other parts of the country as well, leading to riots. To say that UP — and possibly India — is on its way to becoming a communal tinderbox would not be wide of the mark.
Love jihad. That particularly offensive oxymoron that seeks to put a communal stamp on not just Hindu girl-Muslim boy relationships but also individual acts of crime is the ominous buzzword of these polarised times. Not merely an ugly combination of words but a calibrated move to further deepen rifts that has been given a fillip by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders fanning the flames of distrust in volatile Uttar Pradesh.
The term, coined by Hindu groups for what they allege are cases of Muslim boys trapping Hindu girls and forcing them to convert, entered India's communal lexicon several years ago. But it is back — and with more aggression than before, sending ripples of unrest across the state and beyond. …
Can any society be divided such, excluding women of all communities except for one? As more than one concerned citizen has pointed out, treating incidents of individual crimes as crimes of a community will have disastrous consequences. Criminals belong to every community. The trauma of rape cannot be divided along lines of religion.
Truisms all. Obvious societal facts that need not be stated. But we have to. Because this talk comes not just from a radical fringe but from members of the country's ruling party, including someone like Bajpayi who represents the party in India's largest state. The onus is on the government to ensure that responsible behaviour not hate campaigns are the hallmark of its rule.
Hindi, Hindu whatever: Please give us a respite from this frivolous debate - By Akshaya Mishra (Aug 31, 2014, First Post)
'Hindi', 'Hindu', 'Indu' whatever - does this country need a debate like this in the first place? What's wrong with 'India' or the good old 'Bharat'? If at all we are so desperate to calling ourselves something different, why not make it, say, 'Abracadabra'. Admitted, it's a bit odd, but trust our intellectuals to come up with creative prose, circuitous logic and malicious reading of history to justify such a name. They never give up, even if they appear a tad foolish. Who knows after repeated mention in unending media debates we may even begin liking the name.
Come on guys, let's grow up. We certainly have better things to do than work ourselves up over a name. That we allow such a debate to be foisted upon us shows us in poor light. We live in dumbed down times alright but do we need to get sucked into every dumb discussion that happens around us? Our complex past throws up enough confusing information to trigger a thousand arguments, conflicts and ideological skirmishes. There will be groups ready to make capital - political or otherwise - of every note of dissonance in the narrative of our history. It does not make sense for us to dignify each conflict by a reaction. They keep laying traps for us and we never fail to walk into those. Can we say 'stop this nonsense'? …
Bringing the word 'Hindu' to the name of India serves the ideological concept of continuity of the Hindu civilization across centuries. This is something close to the revisionist vision of the right wing groups. It is possible their next move would be to blank out the 65-odd years after Independence, calling it an aberration in the continuity theme. If right wing historians have their way they might call this period the Dark Age, the only bright spot being the six-year rule of the NDA government. Maybe we are stretching the point too far here, but the point is the majoritarian agenda often works out in this fashion. And the traits are visible already after the BJP-RSS victory in the general elections. If anybody has cared to notice, over the last three months the activities of the Hindutva groups have been attracting more attention than those of the government in power. This is just the beginning.
Coming back to the original point, the name of the country is not an unsettled existential question for the country. In any case, changing it amounts to nothing more than ideological point-scoring. The 21st century India should be discussing issues more serious and contemporary in nature. Narendra Modi came to power promising fresh thinking and new ideas for the future. He should not allow the frivolous agenda of others to cloud his vision. While he is at it the countrymen can manage without being called Hindus. Abracadabra would be as fine with them.
The latest round of by-elections to Assembly seats will be remembered for the success of a political experiment in Bihar involving the coming together of three parties against the Bharatiya Janata Party. The results significantly moderate the idea that the BJP is at an electorally invulnerable point in its history. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (United) and the Congress have together won six of the 10 seats that saw by-polls. The BJP with its allies had swept Bihar in the recent Lok Sabha election, bagging 31 of the 40 seats. It is not in itself a surprise that parties gain from tactical tie-ups that give them the arithmetical heft that their individual stature may not fetch.
However, the three parties seemed to have done some strategic thinking in bringing together their combined vote base drawn from among Yadavs, other backward classes, Dalits and Muslims and successfully presented a 'grand secular alliance'. It has given room for these parties to claim it as a victory over 'divisive forces'. The takeaway from the combine's performance is that doubts whether it would work on the ground have been dispelled. These doubts arose because of the long history of political rivalry between JD(U) leader and former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad.
The BJP's State leadership has accepted responsibility for winning only four seats, lest it be seen as a reflection on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's performance at the Centre. At the same time, it cannot be denied that the BJP had beaten alliance arithmetic in the four seats it has won. The results indicate how the battle lines will be drawn when Assembly elections are held in Bihar in 2015. …
Reviewed by: Ram Puniyani
Available at: Penguin Books India, 7th Floor, Infinity Tower - C, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon 122002, Haryana, 2012; pp 383, Rs 499. http://www.amazon.in/
Affirmative Action, Reservation or Appeasement (Aug 30, 2014, EPW)
The political scenario in India is heavily dominated by quota and reservation politics. The implementation of the Mandal Commission report by V P Singh in 1990 totally changed the political scenario and continues to affect it. Reservation for women in panchayats sailed through but reservation in Parliament is mired in innumerable problems. Based on the findings of the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission there have been demands for reservation for Muslim minorities in some states, but the proposal has met with such hostile opposition that it is practically impossible that such a step can be contemplated for implementation. Besides, with the change of regime in May 2014 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government coming to power at the centre, such issues will be relegated to the past. It is against this background that this path breaking book written with deep insights into the Indian social reality and the unevenness in all sections of society needs to be given serious consideration and debated in different social and academic forums.
Rudolf Heredia, whose previous intervention, Changing Gods engaged with the issue of conversions which have been the bone of contention and the axis around which the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) constructed its politics for decades was again deeply rooted in Indian reality. It demonstrated the genesis of the issue and the need to understand "why conversion" rather than raising temperatures on this phenomenon. In Taking Sides Heredia takes pains to go into the lack of proper process of secularisation-democratisation which led to the present morass where multiple sectors of society suffer from the disadvantages due to their caste, religion or gender. His premise is very humane, for him the central concern is justice, "A 'just society' involves our understanding of justice as much as it does our understanding of society" (p x). Justice must be done and seen to be done and not just debated. There is a need for practical action beyond the debating rooms. This again requires the consent of the governed for different actions leading towards justice in society. The limits of our actions in this direction are guided by consensus and legitimacy and how far they can be stretched. This book sets out to explore those outside limits of action.
The author points out that the notion of justice which revolves around a majoritarian understanding articulated in the public sphere and the society is unjust. This is what leads the author to the central concern of his contribution, "an inclusively just society". That is, the striving towards equality and freedom of the individual: groups are the foundations and the justice mechanism has to be structurally incorporated into the system. He points out that despite more than six decades of independence we continue to be ambiguous about the socially excluded and our vulnerable minorities continue to exist in deprivation. The author makes a crucial point that these structural inequalities show us the unfinished business of our freedom struggle and so the effort of the magnitude of the "second freedom struggle" is needed to overcome these inequalities. …
The book engages with the diverse dimension of the issues involved and the need to overcome them through affirmative action, reservation or positive discrimination. Its strength lies in its treatment of a comprehensive relationship between different inequalities and exclusions. It is a valuable intervention in the ongoing debate of reservations for religious minorities, disadvantaged castes and women.