Peace, Pluralism and Justice
In this issue of IAMC News Digest
Opinions & Editorials
In a heartwarming display of communal harmony, a Muslim man in a village near here made the arrangements for the cremation of a Hindu widow, whom he treated as his sister and had been supporting for a long time. The unique story is from Moondha Pandey village, about 10 km from Rampur.
After the death of her husband, Yashodha Devi had been living in a hut with her mother and son in an extremely pitiable condition in Maualagarh in Moondha Pandey, according to reports in the village. Moved by her ordeal, Aslam Beg of the same village made Yashodra her 'rakhi sister' and urged her to treat him as her elder brother. Thereafter, Aslam arranged a house for Yashodha's family and even provided her with financial assistance. For 15 years, the two shared the relationship and participated in each other's festivities, they said.
However, on Saturday, while Aslam was about to go to Yashodha's house for 'Bhai Dooj', she passed away due to illness. Yashodha's relatives had planned to cremate her at Maulagarh itself, but Aslam insisted on taking the body to Garhmukteshwar. Bearing all expenses, Aslam took Yashodha's body and her relatives to the banks of Ganga in Garhmukteshwar and got her last rites performed there.Back to Top]
Even as communal tension remains high on the fourth consecutive day in East Delhi's Trilokpuri, many samaritans in South Delhi's Sangam Vihar have been showing strength of communal harmony. A day before Diwali, when local goons attacked the RWA chairperson Ravi Kumar along with other residents of L-1st A area of Sangam Vihar, the fight could have resulted into the breakout of a fierce clash. But residents, like Iqbal and his brother Chiddu who saved Ravi's life, stood in solidarity to counter the attempts of flaring up tension in the area.
On October 22, the street was lit and decorated for Diwali. People were busy shopping from the makeshift vendors when a speeding car drove in the locality. Anticipating that the rushing car might injure someone, Iqbal and his brother Chiddu stopped the car. "Ravi told them not to drive rashly as it could lead to accident. I slapped one of them as they misbehaved with him and asked them to leave," Chiddu recalls. The accused, a group of bootleggers, came back with a dozen people welding meat cleavers, knives, choppers and baseball bats.
"They would have slashed my throat had Iqbal not come to my defence. I took a stone when I saw them attacking Iqbal and Chiddu. They attacked everyone who was present. I have never seen anything like this before except in the Bollywood movies. I am totally aghast," Ravi confesses. Iqbal and Chiddu received injuries during the scuffle while they were trying to save Ravi and others. Chiddu received minor injuries on belly, shoulder and leg.
Meanwhile, residents have been together facing the repercussions. "The group of bootleggers threatened the locals of dire consequences if the police was informed," Om Vir Singh, another local points out. "The local police, however, swung into action and cooperated with us," he adds. However, this is not the first time that the goons have wreaked havoc in the area. According to the locals, the group of bootleggers, who live nearby, have been at the helm of all the criminal activities in the area. "They sell obnoxious drugs and liquor even to the minors. They harass women whenever they see them and pass lewd comments," a female resident of the locality highlights. …Back to Top]
CNN-IBN's Prabhakar Kumar met the family of four-year-old girl Chahat who went missing during the stampede in Gandhi Maidan in Patna.
She was found by a Muslim lady who took chahat to her house.
The rescuer said, 'I found her on the road. I took her to my house and gave her medicine for the fever.'Back to Top]
A US court has asked a human rights group to respond by Nov 4 to the US government's "suggestion of immunity" in a case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleged crimes against humanity. US federal Judge Analisa Torres Tuesday issued an order asking the American Justice Center (AJC) to file its response to suggestion of immunity for Modi filed by US prosecutor Preet Bharara's office on Sunday at the request of the State Department.
The State Department in a letter to the US justice department had conveyed the Indian government's request to have the case against Modi "dismissed on the basis of his immunity from jurisdiction as a sitting foreign head of government." …
However AJC legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun contended that the 'suggestion of Immunity' filed by Bharara's office is not binding on the court as Modi's alleged human rights violations before becoming Prime Minister are not immune.…
Ahead of Id-al-Adha in the first week of October, violence rocked the communally sensitive Shahpur area. Violence erupted after Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists allegedly led cops to an illegal slaughter house resulting in clashes between two groups. Clashes arose in the Navsari area in South Gujarat after another complaint was lodged by VHP activists on cow slaughter. …
The incidents have also fuelled suspicion that the sudden eruption of violence could be political in nature. Given that the VHP has been at the centre of these skirmishes in some of the incidents, political observers point out there could be an attempt by the right wing group to regain its ground in the state which it had lost in the last one decade. Under the Modi regime, the VHP had been marginalised to a large extent with Narendra Modi distancing himself from its leaders such as Pravin Togadiya.
Observers point out a pattern in the run up to the recent spate of violence in the state. The VHP first created a din when it decided to prevent Muslim youths from participating in the Navratri festivals in the communally sensitive Godhra town. Then there were pamphlets circulated by the organisation cautioning parents of young girls about love jihad.…
With the communal violence in Trilokpuri, East Delhi, escalating on Saturday, leaders of the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accused the local BJP of sustaining the riot in an attempt to polarise votes in the Trilokpuri Assembly segment. …
On Saturday, the AAP and the Congress closed ranks to accuse the BJP, the RSS and the Bajrang Dal of inciting violence in the area. AAP MLA Raju said, "Every time the violence subsides, BJP workers round up locals with exaggerated tales. People in this area voted for the AAP in the Assembly polls last December. The BJP is attempting to consolidate the Dalit vote here the way it did in UP."
Congress leader Harnam Singh, who contested elections in 2013, alleged that the violence was instigated by a BJP leader. "He came to Trilokpuri around 2 pm and members of Hindu groups began chants of 'Har Har Mahadev'. This made things worse. Two hours after he came, the violence began again," he said.…
Even as the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is trying to own up Mahatma Gandhi, the Malayalam mouthpiece of the RSS has suggested that Nathuram Godse, instead of assassinating Gandhi, should have targeted Jawaharlal Nehru as he was responsible for Partition and never had any genuine attachment with the Father of the Nation.
"Nehru's selfish politics was behind all national tragedies, including Partition and Gandhi's assassination. After an honest evaluation of Nathuram Godse's arguments and historical documents related to Partition, if history students feel Godse aimed the wrong target, they cannot be blamed. Nehru was solely responsible for Partition of the country," says an article written by B Gopalakrishnan who was the BJP candidate in Chalakudy in the recent Lok Sabha election. It appeared in Kesari's latest issue.
Gopalakrishnan, who argued in a two-part series that the RSS had nothing to do with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and it was Nehru's idea to put the blame on the Hindu organisation, went on to say: "Nehru, whose ambition was to become a world leader, was closer to (Winston) Churchill, (Franklin D) Roosevelt and Chiang Kai-shek than he was to Gandhi."…
Sadhvi Pragya Thakur planned RSS man Sunil Joshi's murder 15 days in advance: NIA (Oct 22, 2014, India Today)
The 2007 murder case of former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak Sunil Joshi was planned a fortnight before by Lokesh Sharma and Rajendra Chaudhary in connivance with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, states the supplementary chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Elaborating the role of Pragya, the chargesheet says that on the day of the murder, "Pragya was present at Koti Chandi Yagya Dussehra ground at Indore." She stayed at Indore from December 25, 2007 to January 5, 2008.
It has also been alleged by NIA in the chargesheet that she had held captive Anandraj Kataria, an associate of Joshi, in a flat in Indore for 10 days, after the murder. Kataria was charged by MP police for the murder of Joshi but NIA did not name him. A day after the murder, on Dec 30, 2007, "Pragya called Kataria to a flat and later took him to the residence of late Laxman Singh Gaur. He was held captive since Pragya apprehended that Kataria was immature and if questioned by police he may reveal the facts about the earlier criminal act carried out by late Sunil Joshi and herself, as Kataria was closely associated with Joshi and her as well," the chargesheet filed before a court in August this year states. …
The chargesheet also states that "Pragya after the murder of Joshi had met Lokesh and Rajender at the flat where Kataria was held captive and congratulated the two for the task." It further says, "Witnesses statements establish that at MGH hospital, Dewas (where Joshi was admitted after being shot), she (Pragya) was handed over a mobile phone of Sunil Joshi which was picked up from the crime scene by Ramcharan Patel," one of Joshi's associates. …
Madrasa played critical role in integration, don't malign them, say clerics in Bengal (Oct 23, 2014, Twocircles.net)
A mega rally was organised by Muslim clerics here in Burdwan on October 20 against maligning of religious institutions in the wake of the recent blast in the town that has brought the needles of suspicion on some madrasas. While condemning all acts of terror unequivocally, the clerics appealed to the members of the two communities to maintain communal harmony.
"Madrasas are as patriotic institutions as any others and have played critical role in national integration and promoting brotherhood," said the Secretary of Jamiat Ulama e Hind, West Bengal Maulana Siddiqullah Chowdhury, while addressing the rally, adding that there is no place for terrorism in Islam.
Criticising a section of media who are fanning communal agenda, Maulana Chowdhury said, "A section of media is circulating propaganda against Madrasas to strengthen anti-Muslim and communal forces, which is very dangerous for the state." …
After the controversial gram sabha resolutions banning non-Hindu religious activity in villages in tribal Bastar, there was fresh tension in Madota village after local Christians were assaulted allegedly by right-wing activists, leaving 12 people injured late on Saturday.
Eleven of the injured are still undergoing treatment at a hospital in Jagdalpur, where they were brought in a truck. While the police recorded their statement, senior civil and police officials are tight-lipped about the clash.
Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF) president Arun Pannalal told TOI that the manner in which the attack was orchestrated raises suspicion that local officials were hand in glove with attackers.…
Seventy four of the 122 BJP MLAs elected to the Maharashtra Assembly in the just concluded elections have criminal cases against them. Of them, 46 have declared serious cases in their poll affidavits such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and crimes against women, according to an analysis done by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
Shiv Sena, the second largest party in the Assembly with 63 MLAs, has 48 with criminal records, and 35 of them are facing serious charges. In NCP, 19 of the 41 MLAs have criminal records with serious charges pending against 18. The Congress has the least number of MLAs with criminal records - 15 of the 42. Out of them, 10 are facing serious charges.
Of the total 165 MLAs who have declared pending criminal cases against them, 86 have said that charges have been framed. This time, the number of MLAs with criminal charges has also increased - 40 per cent MLAs across political parties have declared criminal cases against them. In 2009, the percentage was 33 per cent.…
A woman from Elyarpadavu, about 15km from here, who had married a Bajrang Dal activist, filed charges of abduction and attempt to outrage the modesty of a woman against several Dal activists. She also alleged that Jagadeesh Shenava, president, Mangalore district unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, had threatened to harm her parents if she didn't marry the activist.
The complainant in her twenties, who married Rajesh Shetty on October 16 at the Arya Samaj here, complained to Konaje police that she was drugged and coerced into the marriage.
In the complaint, she stated that Shetty, who she knew on Facebook through her elder sister, called her and told her he wanted money. After she gave him Rs 6,000 at his shop, Laxmi Fancy on Market Road here, she alleged that Shetty had given her juice spiked with a sedative. Shetty made her get into a van driven by Praveen Kuthar and they allegedly took her to a finance firm run by Dinesh, where about 10 persons threatened her to get married to Shetty and get converted. When she refused, they threatened to harm her parents.hellip;
If you're hungry and a Dalit, don't go to a temple to eat free prasadam, or you might get beaten to within an inch of your life! At least that's what eight year old Santosh discovered when he went to Rudreshwara Swami Temple on Bazaar road in the city, where prasadam was being distributed.
At the sight of the boy, the angry priest bashed the little boy's head repeatedly against a pillar in the temple, causing him to bleed. The priest suspected that the boy was a thief.
Bhaskar Prasad, a Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) leader however says that the boy was targeted because his parents were cobblers by profession and belonged to the scheduled caste. "Why would an 8-year-old boy go to a temple on a Sunday morning if it was not for prasadam."…
Opinions and Editorials
…Narendra Modi, India's new prime minister and main ideologue of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, is stoking old Hindu rage-and-shame over what he calls more than a thousand years of slavery under Muslim and British rule. Earlier this month, while India and Pakistan were engaging in their heaviest fighting in over a decade, Mr. Modi claimed that the "enemy" was now "screaming." …
A Harvard-trained economist called Subramanian Swamy recently demanded a public bonfire of canonical books by Indian historians - liberal and secular intellectuals who belong to what the R.S.S. chief in 2000 identified as that "class of bastards which tries to implant an alien culture in their land." Denounced by the numerous Hindu supremacists in social media as "sickular libtards" and sepoys (the common name for Indian soldiers in British armies), these intellectuals apparently are Trojan horses of the West. They must be purged to realize Mr. Modi's vision in which India, once known as the "golden bird," will "rise again." …
Mr. Modi doesn't seem to know that India's reputation as a "golden bird" flourished during the long centuries when it was allegedly enslaved by Muslims. A range of esteemed scholars - from Sheldon Pollock to Jonardon Ganeri - have demonstrated beyond doubt that this period before British rule witnessed some of the greatest achievements in Indian philosophy, literature, music, painting and architecture. The psychic wounds Mr. Naipaul noticed among semi-Westernized upper-caste Hindus actually date to the Indian elite's humiliating encounter with the geopolitical and cultural dominance first of Europe and then of America. …
Such crude xenophobia, now officially sanctioned in Mr. Modi's India, seems only slightly less menacing than the previous R.S.S. chief's wishful thinking about one more Mahabharata against demonic anti-Hindus.… One can only hope that India's democratic institutions are strong enough to constrain yet another wounded elite from breaking out for geopolitical and military manhood.
The Hindu-Muslim violence that began on Friday in Trilokpuri in East Delhi, is trivial compared to the riots and pogroms that disfigure India's recent history. A couple of bullet wounds, a dozen or so injuries, pitched street fights where young men and boys threw stones and bricks at each other and dispersed, seems to be the extent of the violence. While the area is still tense, prohibitory orders and riot police seem to have brought the violence under some sort of control. But Trilokpuri isn't just any neighbourhood in Delhi. Exactly thirty years ago, almost to the week, Trilokpuri was one of the two most gruesome killing fields in the pogrom of the Sikhs organized by the Congress and its goons after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The other murderous basti, also in East Delhi, was Kalyanpuri. …
So, what we are seeing here is local 'Hindu' assertion in the form of the Mata ki Chowki, following up on the election of Modi sarkar and in anticipation of possible assembly elections in Delhi, given that the suspension of the present assembly can't extend beyond January. Three-quarters of Trilokpuri's population is Dalit. A substantial part of this electorate voted for the winning Aam Aadmi Party candidate the last time round. Given the way the Muzaffarnagar riots led to the consolidation of the Jat vote in the BJP's favour in the general elections, the communal polarization that invariably follows upon rioting wouldn't harm the BJP's chances in the Trilokpuri assembly constituency. There's reason, therefore, for local Hindu activists to believe that their belligerence has the implicit sanction of the new powers-that-be, even if the BJP has nothing to do with the staging of the confrontation.
Newspapers have begun to report that families, mainly Muslim, have begun leaving the neighbourhoods in anticipation of further trouble. There are the customary complaints of the police singling out Muslim men as responsible for the troubles. One middle-aged Muslim woman, old enough to remember 1984, is haunted by her memories of the scale of the Indira-kaand.…
Election Results Show Need for Radical Electoral reforms - Editorial (Oct 26, 2014, Peoples Democracy)
Following the recent elections to the state assemblies, the BJP is all set to form a government on the basis of its own strength in Haryana and a government led by it in Maharashtra. These results have come after the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were in government for a long fifteen years and a Congress government in Haryana for two successive times lasting ten years. This has been the people's verdict in these assembly elections which was, by far, fair and free given that there were no major complaints by any of the contesting parties. Under a democracy like ours, thus, such people's verdict is the final authority. …
Such are the anomalies of the 'first-past-the post' system, which we had discussed earlier in these columns in the wake of the parliamentary elections. The urgency to enforce radical changes in our electoral system, including, moving towards a proportional representation through may be, initially, a 'partial proportional representation' system that is practiced in several western democracies today. The results of these state assemblies have, once again, underlined the urgency to initiate such reforms in order to strengthen our system of parliamentary democracy and make it truly democratic - rule of the majority. Instead, we now have continuously at the centre and in a majority of states, a situation when parties/coalitions control the government polling less votes in their favour than the votes polled against them. Such a distortion of democracy needs urgent correction. …
The truth is that the RSS is "expanding its base" precisely by sharpening communal polarisation in the country. It is, thus, ably ensuring its political arm, the BJP, to reap electoral benefits by practicing the worst form of 'vote bank politics' - seeking the consolidation of the majority Hindu vote through sharpening communal polarisation. Unless resisted and resoundingly isolated, the unity and harmony of our society of rich socio-cultural-religious-linguistic diversity will be seriously threatened. The Indian people will, therefore, have to unitedly resist such an assault on the secular democratic foundations of our Republic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech impressed many, but for some, his statement that most schools in India do not have toilets served as a painful reminder of harsh realities. "I felt as if the prime minister was talking about me," says Sunita, 13, who lives in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh. "No one understands what girls here have to undergo in these schools without toilets." Sunita was referring to what girls across her state face every day, but her own story is enough to expose a critical lacuna in our schooling system. Until a year ago, Sunita studied in Class VII in a government school. The school does not have toilets for girls.
They have to go to some ruins nearby to relieve themselves. Girls avoid going there alone and usually take a friend along. Unfortunately, one day Sunita had to go there alone. When she was relieving herself, some boys turned up and grabbed her. They had probably been keeping an eye on the movement of girls. Sunita was lucky as some other girls arrived right then and raised an alarm. The boys fled and Sunita was saved. However, she never went back to school. Her parents are not ready to send their daughter to such a school. …
It's been nearly 14 years since Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh. Now, as the state government seems to have finally woken up to the problem of lack of toilets in schools, it remains to be seen how soon its declared intentions are transformed into reality. Until then, girls like Sunita, Radha and Fauzia will continue to suffer.
Love, Jihad And Political Lust: Colonising India's Muslims - By Farzana Versey (Oct 19, 2014, Countercurrents)
Chanting hymns and spraying holy Ganga water, a group of religious leaders and students from the rightwing conducted the purification ritual of a 26-year-old woman inside a police station in Dehradun, Uttar Pradesh. Her crime was that she married a Muslim and was allegedly forced to convert to Islam. Her saviours felt that bringing her back home and into the fold was not enough; she needed to be cleansed of any traces of Muslimness to be acceptable again. This took place inside a police station with the cops around. It should tell us how political perceptions are brainwashing social attitudes in India.
We may laud the "U-turn" of an alleged victim denying she was a victim, but will such extempore anger have any effect? In Meerut a 22-year-old managed to get nine people arrested on the basis of a false charge of kidnapping, gangrape, and conversion. For many, the conversion seemed to be the real crime that made the state BJP ring alarm bells about Muslim men going around with a seduction to conversion blueprint. After two months, it turns out that she was forced to make these serious allegations. …
Fringe outfits are on national television speaking in a quasi-government tone. Its members distribute pamphlets against Muslims and nobody is arrested for it. Even if it is a political move prior to polls it reveals how society thinks or how they expect society to start thinking.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has been targeted by the media for his unsavoury remark against doctors. On 17 October, while inaugurating a six-bed hospital in Motihari, Manjhi said: "Agar garibon ke ilaaj ke saath khilwaad hua, main haath kaat dunga (If there is any negligence in the treatment of the poor, I will chop off the doctor's hands)." His latest comment came just a few days after his outburst against doctors at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (Robin Hood mirth for poor patients in Bihar, 18 October). Though Manjhi later clarified that he was using the words only as a metaphor, the damage had been done. The doctors refused to calm down and demanded an apology from the chief minister. …
A fortnight ago, more than 300 Mahadalits had to flee Pura village in the chief minister's home district of Gaya. The exodus was triggered by the murder of their leader Arjun Majhi by upper-caste goons. Arjun was killed in order to stop his brother, Vakil Majhi, from contesting the election for the post of the president of the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society. The Mahadalits who fled the village took shelter at the block headquarters for three days and returned only after the district administration assured their safety. The police are yet to arrest most of the murder accused. Just imagine the audacity of the upper-caste goons, who had little fear of the law in a state ruled by a Mahadalit chief minister.
On 15 October, Sai Ram, a 15-year-old Mahadalit boy from Mohanpur village in Rohtas district, was burnt alive by an upper-caste landlord, Kunkun Singh. Three of Sai's goats had strayed into the landlord's fields and nibbled at the paddy crop. An enraged Kunkun rushed to Sai's home and thrashed him as well as his mentally challenged brother. When Sai resisted, he doused him with kerosene and set him on fire. The villagers were too scared to intervene and watched the gory incident as mute spectators.