IAMC Weekly News Roundup - June 20th, 2016

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Peace, Pluralism and Justice 

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Indian court jails 11 for life over Gujarat massacre of Muslims (Jun 17, 2016, The Telegraph)

An Indian court jailed 11 Hindu attackers for life on Friday for murdering dozens of Muslims in one of the most notorious massacres of the 2002 Gujarat riots that shook India at a time Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state's chief minister. The court sentenced 12 others to seven years in jail over the killing of 69 Muslims, while another was handed a 10-year sentence, prosecutors told local television channels after the sentencing.

A Hindu mob scaled the boundary wall of the Gulbarg housing society in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's largest city, in February 2002 before torching the homes in which Muslim families were trapped. Several victims were children and women who were burned to death. The massacre was one of a series of riots that flared for two months in western Gujarat, killing more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.

The riots dogged Mr Modi's political career for years after he was accused of not doing enough to stop the violence. Mr Modi, a Hindu, denies any wrongdoing and in 2013 a panel appointed by the Supreme Court said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him. An Indian court this month convicted 24 Hindus for their role in the massacre at the Gulbarg housing society while acquitting 36. The trial began in 2009. Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress party legislator, Ehsan, died in the blaze, said Friday's sentences were insufficient.…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/17/indian-court-jails-11-for-life-over-gujarat-massacre-of-muslims/

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Gulberg verdict: SIT to approach High Court on 'lenient' sentencing (Jun 17, 2016, Economic Times)

Special Investigation Team (SIT) counsel in the 2002 Gulberg massacre case, R C Kodekar today expressed dissatisfaction about court's verdict in the case and announced to approach the High Court, as he felt the sentence was too "lenient".

Kodekar was upset especially after the court's refusal to add "till death" clause in the life sentence awarded to 11 convicts in the case. "Today's verdict is not that satisfactory. We feel the sentence is lenient and inadequate. During arguments, we had appealed to the court that life imprisonment till death should given to all. We are not convinced with the penalty awarded," said Kodekar. "12 convicts were given only seven years, which is very lenient too. It should be either ten years of life imprisonment," he said. "We will appeal in the High Court," said Kodekar.…

The Gulberg Society massacre, which took place here on February 28, 2002 when Narendra Modi was the Gujarat Chief Minister, shook the nation when a mob of 400 people set about attacking the society in the heart of Ahmedabad and killed the 69 residents including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. It was one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52796052.cms

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Ishrat Jahan missing papers: 'Mere ko ye poochna hai ki aapne ye paper dekha? Aapko kehna hai ki maine ye paper nahi dekha - seedhi si baat hai' (Jun 17, 2016, Indian Express)

B K Prasad, the Union Home Ministry official who headed the probe into the "missing documents" in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, not only told a witness the questions he would ask but also suggested to him what answers he should give — that he had not seen any of the documents. This coaching of a witness by the man heading the investigation puts a question mark on the integrity of the probe announced in Lok Sabha by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on March 10.…

Prasad then told the officer: "Aapko kehna hai ki 'Maine ye paper nahi dekha.' Seedhi si baat hai (You have to say, 'I have not seen that paper.' It's as simple as that)." Prasad told Kumar that the consequences of giving a different reply would be that doubts would be raised about the officer having played a role in the disappearance of the papers.

"Aapko itna toh kehna hoga ki ya toh woh file hi maine kabhi zindagi mein deal nahi kiya, kabhi file ko dekhne ka kabhi mauka hi nahi mila (You will have to, at least, say that either you have never dealt with that file in your life, or have never had a chance to see it)… I don't think you have seen that file at any point… Bas, that is what I want from you: 'I have not seen that file at all'," Prasad told the officer. Prasad also told the officer: "And another question will be, 'Did anybody give you these documents to be kept separately with you?' Aap bologe, 'Nahi, mere ko kisi ne nahi diya.' (You will say, 'No, nobody gave them to me')."…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/ishrat-jahan-fake-encounter-case-inquiry-ashok-kumar-2855542/

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Amnesty slams govt decision on Teesta-led NGO (Jun 19, 2016, Deccan Herald)

Amnesty International India on Saturday said the government decision to cancel Teesta Setalvad's NGO's licence was due to her work in seeking justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots. The Centre on Thursday cancelled NGO Sabrang Trust's licence on violation of various FCRA rules, which means it will not be able to collect foreign funds.

Seeking revocation of the decision against Teesta Setalvad-led NGO, Amnesty said it was "not a coincidence" that the most prominent use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, has been against NGOs "who seek to hold the government accountable" for its actions.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) appears to be persecuting Sabrang for its founders' work in seeking justice for the 2002 Gujarat riots' victims," Amnesty executive director Aakar Patel said in a statement. "This pattern of using the FCRA as a pretext to go after NGOs that don't toe the government line needs to stop. The government must end its NGO witch-hunt," Patel said. Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand were among those who had helped a section of victims fight the then Gujarat government then led by Narendra Modi.…

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/553112/amnesty-slams-govt-decision-teesta.html

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Malegaon blast: Victims object to Pragya's bail plea (Jun 17, 2016, Hindustan Times)

The court set up to hear the 2008 Malegaon blast case on Friday allowed an application by the victims, objecting to Pragya Singh's bail application. Advocate Sharif Shaikh, representing the victims also questioned the probe of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). On May 13, the NIA had submitted a supplementary chargesheet giving a clean chit to six accused, including Pragya, and also recommended that all the charges against them be dropped.

The central agency said the shoddy probe by Maharashtra authorities forced the U-turn. It added that the provisions of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) were not applicable to the case. After getting a clean chit from the NIA, Pragya had applied for bail. Her advocate J P Mishra had on May 30 filed a bail application on the ground that the NIA had not pressed charges against her owing to a lack of evidence, and because of her deteriorating health.

The defense pleaded that she had no knowledge of how her motorbike was used in the blast and said she had never given her consent for this. He said that the bike had been sold long before the incident. Meanwhile, 64-year old businessman Nisar Bilal had on June 8 moved an application before the special court seeking to include the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) as a party to the case and to hear the agency that had booked Pragya in the blast case.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai/malegaon-blast-victims-object-to-pragya-s-bail-plea/story-lGOer0pcET88YepKFdCkEM.html

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Sangeet Som's yatra: SP corners PM Modi, rakes up Gujarat riots (Jun 17, 2016, Times of India)

Uttar Pradesh PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav on Friday attempted to corner Prime Minister Narendra Modi over BJP MLA Sangeet Som's "Paidal Nirbhay Yatra" across Uttar Pradesh to assure safety to the Hindu families from Kairana village of Shamli district and said that the duo must worry about bringing back the people, who fled during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

"Many people migrated after the Gujarat riots. Sangeet Som and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should first worry about them. Prime Minister Modi must first bring back the people, who fled during the Gujarat riots," Yadav told a press conference here. He claimed the Uttar Pradesh Government has intelligence reports which suggest that there was no exodus from Kairana.

"The people have left the place in search for jobs. We will not let the BJP vitiate the atmosphere here. We have intelligence reports to prove that there was no exodus in Kairana," he added. Yadavb further said the BJP MLA was attempting to vitiate the atmosphere in Uttar Pradesh, adding strict action would be initiated against such elements.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52794695.cms

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Seers visit Kairana, slam BJP's 'politics of hate' (Jun 20, 2016, Times of India)

A team of Hindu seers on Sunday visited Kairana to probe allegations by BJP MP Hukum Singh that 346 Hindu families had fled the small town due to persecution. Swami Chakrapani, one of the five seers who visited Kairana, slammed BJP for playing the "communal card".

Swami Chakrapani, president of Akhil Bharatiya Sant Mahasabha, told TOI that Hindus and Muslims alike had been worried about rising crime there. Samajwadi Party member and UP cabinet minister Shiv pal Yadav on Friday had suggested that a team of "apolitical" Hindu seers ascertain the facts on the ground.

The team of seers also included Akhil Bharatiya Sant Mahasabha's Haryana president Swami Kalyan, president of Sant Samiti Devendranand Saraswati, founder of Shri Kalki Foundation Pramod Krishnam and Swami Chinmayanand of the Sant Mahasabha.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52825810.cms

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Latest gem from BJP leader: Saffronisation and sanghwad are inevitable, says Union Minister Katheria (Jun 19, 2016, First Post)

At a time when the Narendra Modi-led central government has come under immense criticism over Raghuram Rajan's announcement in his farewell letter that he will not be renewing his term after September, this BJP leader is not making matters any easier for the party.

In a classic foot-in-mouth situation, Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria on Saturday said that 'bhagwakaran' (saffronisation) of education will definitely take place in India. Speaking at an event, Katheria, who is Minister of State in the HRD ministry, went on to say that saffronisation and 'sanghwad' will be good for the country and is inevitable.

"Reporters told us that some people are saying that our government is saffronising education in the country. I am saying this today: Saffronisation will definitely take place in education and in the country," said Katheria.…

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/saffronisation-and-sanghwad-are-inevitable-says-union-minister-rs-katheria-2843654.html

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Smriti Irani Heckled and Boo-ed in Bhagalpur Bihar: Rohith Vemula Haunts the Modi Regime (Jun 18, 2016, Sabrang India)

When Smriti Irani visited Bhagalpur town in Bihar, people protested against her visit and shouted slogans of 'Amar Rahe, Rohith Vemula'. This happened on June 16, 2016 it is reported.

Protesters in Bhagalpur said Smriti Irani is as responsible as the other five culprits booked for Rohith's death because she misused her position of responsibility and exerted pressure on University administration to persecute the five Dalit research scholars. Smriti Irani acted upon the letter given to her by the BJP Union Minister Bandaru Dattatraya in which he labelled University of Hyderabad as "a den of casteists, extremists and anti-nationals".

Smriti Irani should be sacked from the MHRD minister's post immediately and all the five culprits must be arrested immediately, the protesters demanded. The students movement across the country has been calling the minister 'Manusmriti Irani' since the 'institutional murder' of Rohith Vemula.

https://www.sabrangindia.in/ann/smriti-irani-heckled-and-boo-ed-bhagalpur-bihar-rohith-vemula-haunts-modi-regime

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Police officer suspended for third degree interrogation of girl in Jharkhand (Jun 18, 2016, Businesss Standard)

In a case of alleged police brutality, a Class 10 girl student fell unconscious and had to be hospitalised after she was interrogated for more than 10 hours at a police station in Jharkhand's Latehar district. The girl remained unconscious for more than 70 hours after the questioning by police on June 14 at Manika Police Station in Latehar.

According to doctors treating the girl, she may take some more days to recover. "She may take two to four days to recover," said Umesh Kumar, a doctor treating the girl in RIMS.

Latehar Superintendent of Police Anup Birthare has suspended Sub-Inspector Ram Pravesh Sharma posted at Manika Police Station after he was found guilty of questioning the girl for more than 10 hours inside the police station without the presence of a woman police constable or even her parents.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/police-officer-suspended-for-third-degree-interrogation-of-girl-in-jharkhand-116061800348_1.html

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Opinions and Editorials

US-Modi Bonhomie - By Abdul Majid Zargar (Jun 15, 2016, Countercurrents)

There has been a steady increase in Indo-US bonhomie ever since Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India. During his two years in chair, he has taken long strides than his predecessors in reducing the distance and increasing convergence in the strategic perspectives of the two supposedly democracies. During his latest visit to US, Modi has received a thunderous applause to his forty five minute speech to the joint session of US congress during which he is reported to have received extraordinary number of clappings & standing ovations.

The rousing reception begs a very important question. Has the US, which positions itself as a champion of human rights around the world, forgotten or forgiven Modi for his complicit role in killing minority Muslims thus committing grave crimes against humanity during Gujarat riots 2002. The question is important because in its answer lies the future survival of democracy as a best model which respects human rights.…

Modi's Complicity in Gujarat riots is well researched & adequately documented. The latest addition to the existing implicative material on the subject is Rana Ayub's book 'Gujrat files- Anatomy of a cover-up'. Prior to that Manoj Mitta's book 'The fiction of fact finding' & Sreekumar's Book 'Gujrat behind the Curtain' have provided ample evidence of Modi's involvement through his acts of omission & commission. Not to speak of Teesta Setalvad's material compiled after untiring efforts and Tehlka's sting operations conducted in 2007.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/zargar150616.htm

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As election season approaches in UP, BJP moves in to communalise everything it can - By Shoaib Daniyal (Jun 20, 2016, Scroll.in)

On Saturday, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Shakar Katheria said that it was inevitable that saffronisation will proceed, both in the education sector as well as of India as a whole – and that this is a fine thing. Katheria is no ordinary leader. He is a minister in the Narendra Modi government. His words, like the exculpation of the Dadri beef murder by Union minister Mahesh Sharma, carry some significance. Clearly, this sort of statement is a prelude to the keenly contested 2017 Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.

And this isn't the only indication of the party's strategy for the state. The BJP is continuing to attempt to make the alleged exodus of Hindus from Kairana a point of contention. The controversy was sparked last fortnight when a party MP produced a list of people who had purportedly been forced out of the town by Muslim criminals. Pro-government media such as Zee News went to town with these claims, comparing the situation to Kashmir in the 1990s. The only problem? There was no exodus.…

Uttar Pradesh is the country's largest state, home to one out of six Indians. It is also desperately poor. Even Bihar, the poster boy of India's poverty for much of the recent past, seems to have turned the corner. In such an environment, it seems naked communalisation is the only way to do politics in the state. It was true when the BJP was rising on the back of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign to demolish the Babri Masjid in the late 1980s. Today, three decades later, even with a BJP government in Delhi, it still seems to hold true.

http://scroll.in/article/810261/the-daily-fix-as-election-season-approaches-in-up-bjp-moves-in-to-communalise-everything-it-can

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Gulberg Judgment: It's doubtful that punishments handed out match up to the magnitude of the crime - Editorial (Jun 20, 2016, Times of India)

…While the court found 24 out of the 60 accused guilty in the horrific rampage that tortured and murdered 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, it said that the accused deserved "a second chance to reform and rehabilitate". Indian authorities are often not sufficiently tough on supposedly ‘spontaneous' communal riots, which is one reason why they recur. It's difficult to say this judgment has broken with that tradition of leniency.

In contrast to the strong words expressed in the Naroda Patia verdict, criminal conspiracy has been ruled out in the Gulberg case, as though it was a spontaneous eruption of anger after the Godhra killings. The judgment has also held that Jafri's firing of a gun was what triggered the mob's violent frenzy, thus denying him the right to self-defence.…

This paper has reported eyewitness accounts of how Jafri was stripped, his fingers and limbs methodically chopped off, before he was thrown into a fire. Even if Jafri fired in self-defence when faced with an armed mob, it strains credulity that one man's gun provoked violence on this scale. The Gujarat carnage of 2002 has resulted in 140 convictions, but the process has been tortuous and opaque. The lower judiciary, police and administrators were complicit in tampering with evidence, destroying trails and forcing witnesses to turn hostile. This judgment is unlikely to bring a sense of closure to victims of the Gulberg massacre.

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-editorials/gulberg-judgment-its-doubtful-that-punishments-handed-out-match-up-to-the-magnitude-of-the-crime/

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Sacking Raghuram Rajan: It is intolerance again - By Anil Sharma (Jun 20, 2016, Free Press Journal)

As the RBI governor Raghuram Rajan conveyed to the central bank's employees in a letter that was placed on the bank's website for wider circulation: "… I want to share with you that I will be returning to academia when my term as Governor ends on September 4, 2016", he was in effect announcing his dismissal by the Modi Sarkar. To interpret this as anything else is to rob the BJP's battering ram Subramanian Swamy of his rightful claim to brag that he has had the RBI governor, a mere government employee, dismissed. For Swamy it was a command performance executed at the behest of his boss the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Lest anyone has any doubts on this count as well, Swamy provided the clinching evidence by acknowledging on twitter that "…. my admiration for Namo has gone up hugely: media, industrialists, and international bureaucrats piled on him for R3 but he did not bend." For the uninitiated ones R3 is swamyspeak for Raghuram Rajan. The reference "did not bend" prompts a query as to when the decision to sack Rajan was taken? Before Swamy got into the act or after?…

It was not difficult to visualise the strong disapproval of such a person. This was the intolerance of another variety. It is something that places conformism over merit. It is neither difficult to see the logic. "We can find brilliant men dime a dozen, but they have to be conformists," is the way it runs. Lest, we may forget one such classmate of the 'sacked governor' happens to be Jayant Sinha, the minister of state for finance.…

http://www.freepressjournal.in/editorspick/sacking-rajan-it-is-intolerance-again-anil-sharma/874440

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BJP's Doublespeak on Terror - By Gurpreet Singh (Jun 21, 2016, Sabrang India)

…The Hindu 'nationalist' (read supremacist) Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which is currently in power was in the opposition at that time. The so called secular Congress government too tried to play down the involvement of Hindu extremists initially as it wanted to isolate Pakistan internationally for sponsoring terrorism. The truth however cannot and could not be buried. As the complicity of the Hindu extremists became apparent, the BJP reacted sharply and accused the Congress government of defaming the Hindu community.…

Notably, the BJP government is known for its tough anti terror stance, but this is weakened or stands exposed when it comes to dealing with the terrorists from within their lot. It is pertinent to mention that the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen in the company of one of the Samjhauta blast accused Swami Aseemanand in Gujarat where he was previously the Chief Minister.

Aseemanand is an ascetic who ran a camp in Gujarat that worked aggressively to covert Christians into Hinduism. It was during Modi's tenure as chief minister that an anti Muslim massacre took place in 2002. Modi had also publicly opposed the arrests of Hindu extremists in connection with terrorism.…

https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/bjp%E2%80%99s-doublespeak-terror

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Ishrat Jahan: After the Fake Encounter, a 'Phoney' Probe - By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Jun 16, 2016, The Wire)

If there is one case that exposes the fragility of Indian democracy in recent times, it is the killing of Ishrat Jahan in 2004.… Human rights activists have decried her killing as a fake encounter; the Congress's flip-flop - initially calling her a terrorist and then a victim of a fake encounter - has triggered suspicion over its intentions. The BJP, quite naturally, has been the only party to support the Gujarat government's action, given the fact that party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat at the time of Ishrat's killing, have directly or indirectly been implicated in the case since the probe began.

At no point of time has the probe functioned in a transparent manner. Depending on their political agenda, officials and politicians have leaked selective information about the case to establish their views, leading to highly polarised and uninformed opinions on the matter. This opacity showed of yet again when a senior home ministry official, B.K. Prasad, who headed an official probe into the case documents that have gone missing, was captured on tape by an Indian Express reporter trying to doctor his own investigation. Prasad retired from service after his probe began but has been given an extension.…

Even 12 years after Ishrat's killing, the case is still in limbo, despite an SIT probe and a magistrate's report implicating the Gujarat police. As long as they are not found, the 'missing documents' will allow the BJP to turn what is a straightforward case of custodial murder into a political football that can be kicked around to discredit the Congress and divert attention away from the original crime. The question the BJP will have to answer is why it had to manipulate the probe into the missing papers if it was certain the Congress's second affidavit was false and politically motivated.…

http://thewire.in/43322/ishrat-jahan-after-the-fake-encounter-a-phoney-probe/

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