IAMC Weekly News Roundup - November 23rd, 2015

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Peace, Pluralism and Justice 

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Ex-DGP wants 2002 Nanavati riot report released (Nov 20, 2015, Business Standard)

Former Gujarat Police chief R.B. Sreekumar, who had locked horns with then chief minister Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots, has asked the Anandiben Patel government to make public the inquiry commission report on the violence. The report was submitted by retired Supreme Court judge G.T. Nanavati and former Gujarat High Court judge Akshay Mehta, 12 years after it concluded the inquiry with 25 extensions.

The Modi government had on March 6, 2002 appointed justices Nanavati and Mehta to look into the February 27 Sabarmati Express train burning that left 59 people dead and the subsequent riots that killed 1,169 people in the state. The commission submitted the final report to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel last year soon after she took over the reins of Gujarat from Modi after he became the prime minister.

In a letter to the chief Minister, Sreekumar, who as additional director-general of police (intelligence) reported that Modi's comments after the riots could prove incendiary in an already communally surcharged atmosphere, said he found it "painful" that no legislator in the state had shown any hurry to ensure an early public release of the commission's report. Sreekumar's letter dated November 18, a copy of which is with IANS, asserts that this was an "obvious instance of breach of legislature's privilege by the executive wing of the government".…



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Communal Incidents In India Are On The Rise, Shows Home Ministry Data (Nov 24, 2015, Huffington Post)

Even as key leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party government denounced the rising chorus against "intolerance" in the country as a politically-motivated process, communal incidents in India are on the rise. According to records with the ministry of home affairs (MHA), there have been 630 communal incidents till October this year, as opposed to 561 instances in the same period last year.

Though more people have been injured in such instances this year, the number of people who have died has decreased in comparison, from 90 to 86, reported The Times of India. Interestingly, the brutal murder of a Muslim man in Dadri in September this year, under suspicions of having slaughtered a cow, is one of the only two communal incidents this year that the central government has termed "significant".

TOI reported that the home ministry last week shared a note on incidents of communal violence with members of the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs. The other "significant" incident mentioned in the internal communication is the violence in Atali village in Ballabhgarh last May, where a disputed mosque was burnt down and 400 Muslims in the village were forced to flee.…



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Indian Muslims free to go anywhere, says Assam governor (Nov 22, 2015, Hindustan Times)

Assam governor PB Acharya was found entangled on Sunday in the raging intolerance row for allegedly saying "Hindustan is for Hindus" and "Muslims in India are free to go anywhere", remarks that he said were misinterpreted.

The alleged comments of Acharya, a senior BJP leader before he assumed his gubernatorial role in 2014 after the NDA government came to power, triggered fresh outrage as it came at a time of heightened friction over growing intolerance in the country following the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh in September this year.

"I didn't mean Hindustan is for Hindus only, persecuted Hindus anywhere have the right to seek shelter here," he said, clarifying reports about his remarks at a book launch the day before.…



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8 out of ten Indians believe religious freedom is very important (Nov 19, 2015, Hindustan Times)

India is among the countries that have highest support for religious freedom, with 8 out of 10 Indians believing that it is very important to have the freedom to practice their faith compared to a global median of 74%, according to a new survey.

US-based Pew Research - that surveyed 38 countries and interviewed 40,786 people between April 5 to May 21, 2015 - found that there is strong support for gender equality and religious freedom in India. 83% Indians said it is very important to have the freedom to practice their religion, compared to a global median of 74% across the nations polled.

Overall, global public opposed media censorship, except in cases of national security. In India, 74% said media organisations should be able to publish information about large political protests in the country. Across the nations polled, a global median of 78% also said the same, Pew said while releasing the contents of its survey.…



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Ban Hindutva organisations, government urged (Nov 18, 2015, The Hindu)

A section of Muslims under the banner of "Belgaum Muslims", on Tuesday, demanded that the State government ban Hindutva organisations - the Vishwa Hindu Parishat, the Bajrang Dal, the Sri Ram Sene, the RSS, the Sanathan Sanstha, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Maharana Pratap Brigade, considering their alleged terror activities.

Staging a protest in front of the Deputy Commissioner's office here, they said that all these organisations, of late, had been repeatedly indulging in violence leading to communal tension that harmed harmony and peace in society.

They said that these Hindutava organisations were deliberately misleading the common man by describing Tipu Sultan anti-Hindu and anti-national, though the latter had fought foreign rule and worked for the development and progress of all sections of people during his rule.…



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95% of beef traders are Hindus, says former chief justice of Delhi high court (Nov21, 2015, Times of India)

Justice Rajinder Sachar, former chief justice of Delhi high court who headed a panel that recommended quota for Muslims in 2006, said in Mathura on Friday that more Hindus are involved in beef trade in the country than Muslims. As soon as he said this, in the context of the latest beef controversy at the three-day International conference on radical Islam held at a college, many of the teachers and participants stormed out of the venue.…

Justice Sachar, who was sharing the stage with many prominent Muslim scholars on the last day of the conference held at RC Degree College in Mathura, said that among all the beef traders in India, 95% are from the Hindu community.

"Almost 95% beef traders are Hindus. Still, a man was lynched in Dadri because he ate beef. This is the death of mankind and humanity. Eating habits have nothing to do with religion. Even I can eat beef," he said.…



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Local polls in Gujarat : Deletion of names of lakh of voters from Patel and Muslim areas (Nov 22, 2015, Muslim Mirror)

Polling for six municipal corporations - Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar - that was held today, was marked by complaints from lakhs of voters about deletion of their names from electoral rolls.

While Congress leaders claimed that the names of more than four lakh voters were deleted in Ahmedabad, particularly from Patidar-dominated and Muslim areas, the state election commission(SEC) itself admitted that the names of over 2.5 lakh voters were marked 'deleted' in red stamps in the voters list supplied to the polling officials.

While Muslims have always been Congress voters, Patels had announced to vote against BJP this time. BJP leaders, including prime minister narendra modi, Patels say, are not supporting the demand for OBC status for Patel community. Patels form the backbone of BJP in the state.…



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Crude bomb blast: SDPI sees bid to scuttle probe (Nov 17, 2015, The Hindu)

Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers took out a march to the office of the District Police Chief (Kozhikode Rural) on Monday accusing the police of an attempt to scuttle the probe into the Kuttiyadi crude bomb attack case.

The protesters accused the policemen of cold-shouldering the investigation in spite of having clear evidence on who actually spearheaded the attack on the SDPI worker. They said the man had been denied justice following biased propaganda that he was an accused in the murder of a Communist Party of India (Marxist) worker from the area.

P. Abdul Hameed, State general secretary of SDPI who inaugurated the march, said the police should expose the conspiracy behind the incident.…



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Notices to Centre, Delhi over complaint by Nirbhaya's parents against juvenile convict being set free (Nov 25, 2015, IBN)

The NHRC has issued notices to Centre and Delhi government on a complaint by the parents of the December 16 gangrape victim, apprehending threat to society from the juvenile convict in the case who is set to be released in December. The Commission has taken cognisance of the complaint by the parents of the girl, who was brutally gangraped and murdered in Delhi on December 16 in 2012.…

The parents have requested the Commission to recommend to the Government to prepare a plan to protect the citizens from such delinquent juveniles post their release and also to strengthen the extant laws on the subject.

The complainants have also cited that similar laws like SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act) that requires states to monitor and track convicted sex offenders following their release into the community and operates in countries such as USA, Canada and others should be implemented in India.…



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Dalit group demands transfer of IG (Nov 25, 2015, The Hindu)

The Karnataka State Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Krantikari) has demanded the transfer of Inspector-General of Police (north eastern) Sunil Agrawal for his alleged failure to bring down the increasing incidents of atrocities on Dalits in Kalaburagi and Yadgir districts.

State convener of the samiti, Arjun Bhadre, and secretary Malleshi Sajjan, told presspersons here on Tuesday that the samiti would take out a protest march from Jagat Circle to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Chowk in Kalaburagi city on November 27 and submit a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Siddharamaiah and Home Minister G. Parameshwara demanding immediate transfer of Mr. Agrawal.

Accusing Mr. Agrawal of indifferent attitude towards the Dalits, Mr. Bhadre said that despite repeated attempts to meet the IG to bring to his knowledge the increasing incidents of atrocities on Dalits, the officer refused to talk with the samiti members. Mr. Bhadre urged the State government to appoint an efficient officer to address the problems faced by Dalits.



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Opinions and Editorials

Confronting the Sangh Parivar: Passive and Active Resistance - By Sumanta Banerjee (Nov 21, 2015, EPW)

The defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Bihar polls certainly reassures the Indian people in general that the Sangh Parivar is not all that omnipotent and invincible, and reinvigorates the spirit of the secular political parties in particular to mount a united national offensive against the Narendra Modi government.

But this should not make us underestimate the capacity of the parivar to continue with its malicious designs through its various networks which range from the administrative agencies and academic institutions that it still controls through the ruling BJP at the centre, to the hoodlums of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and other similar outfits whom it employs to terrorise the minorities and stifle any dissent.…

It is a combination of these two forms of resistance than can create a new space for public protest against the imposition of a fascist Hindu hegemonic order. It can reassure our people (disenchanted with Modi’s tub-thumping, disillusioned with the paralysis of the national Opposition parties, and reinvigorated by the victory of the Grand Alliance in Bihar) that there are still alternative means of organised resistance against the offensive of the Sangh Parivar.



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The Fate of Dissent in an "Export-quality" Democracy - By Sankaran Krishna (Nov 17, 2015, The Wire)

…While a rapidly rising number of authors and artists have rightly returned their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest over the growing communalisation of our institutions and public life, the murder of Dalits in broad daylight evokes barely a smidgen of protest.

It is strange that in the world's largest democracy, any female between, say, 12 and 72 would be taking a huge risk if she were to venture out alone after dark into any of our cities. Female infanticide remains a horrendous blot on our record, while the lives of so many of the girl children who survive are marked by continuous deprivation and discrimination.

All this and more is well known, and the gap between our thin democracy and the substantive ideal remains wider than ever. What I would like to highlight, however, is one instance of how our democracy operates when faced with a most important and basic test: how does it treat a principled individual who happens to disagree with the state.…



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A myth called Tipu - By Kate Brittlebank (Nov 24, 2015, Indian Express)

…When Hyder died at the end of 1782, Tipu succeeded him. Both men were capable warriors and chiefs, but Hyder had ensured that his son receive the education he had not. When Tipu came to the throne, then, he was prepared to take on the mantle of king.…

If asked, Tipu would undoubtedly have described himself as a just king who ruled with a strong hand. He undertook administrative reforms, made donations to religious institutions, including temples, arbitrated in disputes and cared for the welfare of his subjects. The Sri Ranganatha Swami temple, situated near Tipu's palace on the island of Srirangapatna, continued to flourish. The Sringeri Math was another recipient of his patronage. All these gifts and many more are documented and cannot be denied.…

So why, then, if Tipu was behaving no differently from any other Indian king, has he become such a controversial figure? Why is he regarded as a tyrant by some and as a hero or martyr by others? For that, we can lay the blame on his killers, the British.…



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Soft-spoken VHP leader Ashok Singhal created India's most blistering anti-minority campaign - By Manjari Katju (Nov 22, 2015, Scroll.in)

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad had spent most of its existence in obscurity before Ashok Singhal, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghpracharak, took over its leadership. Under Singhal, who passed away on November 17 aged 89, the VHP emerged from the shadows of the RSS and became an aggressive and visible organisation.…

In the 1990s, the VHP, Ashok Singhal, Ayodhya and Ram Janmabhoomi almost became synonyms and were part of the archetypal Hindutva blend. A RSS member since 1942, Singhal was devoted to making Hindutva a household name through the VHP. His heart was in the Ram Janmabhoomi project. VHP campaigns like rathyatras, shilanyas, marches to Ayodhya, onslaughts on the Babri mosque, etc. were all conceptualised under his leadership.

In 2002, Singhal initiated the shilanyas (foundation stone laying ceremony) to forcibly start the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. The karsevaks returning from this programme lost their lives when a train coach was burnt in Godhra in February 2002, sparking the mass killings of Muslims in the riots that followed. Ram in his militant (ugra) form was Singhal's contribution to the Hindutva discourse. He gave direction to the VHP's anti-conversion drive and educational programmes and was well known for his versatility as an organiser.…



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A Young Farmer's Suicide In Pursuit Of A Passbook - By Rahul M (Nov 23, 2015, Countercurrents)

Kodanda Ramireddy was no ordinary farmer. At 26, he had an MBA degree and wanted to change the farming techniques and methods used in his village.

His family jointly owned around 20 acres in Rayampalli village in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district. They had taken several loans - an agricultural loan, an educational loan from a bank and other loans from private moneylenders.

His parents had mortgaged the family's land, and Ramireddy was in the process of retrieving it from private moneylenders. He needed to pay off the money his family owed the bank. Only then could he sell two acres of their land and repay those loans owed to moneylenders.…



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Season of discontent - By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Nov 27, 2015, Frontline)

Punjab was forced to remain under siege by paramilitary forces for more than a week in October following violent protests by some Sikh radical groups over the alleged desecration of Sikhism's holy text, the Guru Granth Sahib. Already reeling under a failed kharif crop, the agrarian State went through another bout of turmoil when pages of the Guru Granth Sahib were found scattered on the streets in at least three different villages of the State. The series of agitations fomented a political crisis as most protesters held the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal)-led State government responsible for an Emergency-like situation.

The crisis first unfolded when farmers' groups staged rail roko dharnas across the State in September demanding fair compensation for a failed cotton crop and for the declining market prices of Basmati rice. These protests, in which farmers and agricultural labourers came together, disrupted rail traffic for many days and set the stage for the larger crisis in the State. The government was forced to release funds to compensate the farmers as the agitations attracted support from the general public. The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), or SAD, often described as a party of peasants, faced a lot of flak for the high-handedness with which the government dealt with debt-ridden farmers.

The agitations, in a way, created a perception among farmers that the government was anti-farmer. Reports of a widespread pesticide scam and the forced sale of low-quality Bt cotton seeds through government outlets only reinforced this perception. Farmers blamed the government for the destruction of their cotton crop by the rampant whitefly insect this kharif season.…



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