Peace, Pluralism and Justice
In this issue of IAMC News Digest
Opinions & Editorials
Court takes cognisance of complaint against PM for 'insulting' Tricolour (Apr 7, 2016, Hindustan Times)
A Delhi court on Wednesday took cognisance of a complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly "insulting" the national flag last year on the international yoga day and during his visit to the United States.
The complainant Ashish Sharma, who has sought direction to the police to file an FIR against Modi, has claimed that he had committed an offence under the provisions of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 and has also violated the Flag Code of India.
He claimed that Modi had insulted the national flag not once but several times. He alleged that the PM had "disrespected" national flag by using it as a handkerchief at an event at the India Gate on the international yoga day.
Police had to fire in the air and burst tear gas shells on Sunday morning to disperse a violent mob protesting after death of a youth in police custody at Umri police station of Bhind on late Saturday night.
Three cops including the SHO of the police station, Rambabu Yadav, have been suspended. Sunil Yadav, 20, allegedly committed suicide in the police station. His father Avilav Yadav said that his son was arrested after allegations of theft. He was beaten by the police inside thana and he died on Saturday.
After the postmortem, family of the deceased placed the body near thana and demanded registration of cases of murder against the cops. They started pelting stones on the police when the police dispersed the mob by firing in the air.
Confessional statements of some witnesses in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case are reported to be "missing" from the special MCOCA court in Mumbai, prompting the authorities to mount a search for those.
The issue came to light earlier this week when staff of the special court approached former special public prosecutor (SPP) Rohini Salian to inquire about whether she had with her some of the confessional statements of witnesses. "I was surprised when such a query was made to me. The court staff asked whether I had confessional statements of six or seven crucial witnesses recorded before a magistrate. I conveyed that all documents had been handed over to the new SPP Avinash Rasal in presence of NIA officers and, in any case, the originals were in the court records only," Salian said.
The witnesses whose statements have gone missing include those of a close aide of Ramji Kalsangra who had "confessed" before a magistrate about the criminal conspiracy hatched to plant explosives in Malegaon. Two low-intensity explosions in Malegaon on September 29, 2008, had left seven people dead. The Maharashtra police's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), which investigated the case before it was handed over to CBI and later to NIA in 2011, arrested several, including self-styled Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Srikant Purohit.
A seminar at Deshbandhu College on 'Ambedkar on Caste and Social Justice' was disrupted Friday when Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members insisted the organisers chant 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' if they wanted the event to go on.
The students, all part of the Deshbandhu Discussion Forum, said they usually organise discussions once a fortnight and invite speakers from different universities to speak. "This was the fifth discussion in the series. But even before the discussion began, ABVP members including Rajat Chaudhary started tearing pamphlets and posters of the seminar, and hurled abuses at the organisers. They told the organisers, say 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai 'or we will not let the event continue," said Chirayu Goyal, one of the organisers.
Ananya Pandey, another organiser of the event, said, "One student even said Bharat Mata Ki Jai, but then questioned who they were to dictate anything. They sat throughout the lecture sessions and called all of us 'atankwadis' and 'deshdrohis.'"
It has been 17 days since cattle trader Majloom Ansari and a 12-year-old school boy Imtiyaz Khan were killed and hanged at the Jhabar village in Jharkhand's Latehar district. The local police were prompt in taking action and arrested 5 persons within 24 hours of the murders. Three other accused surrendered later.
Locals say that one of the accused, Arun Sau, is associated with the Bajrang Dal. All five accused who were arrested by the police have confessed to their crime. Their confessions also indicate that Arun Sau, the alleged Bajrang Dal activist, was the mastermind behind the murders. Two of the accused recollect that it was Arun who strangled Majloom and 12-year-old Imtiyaz with a rope and killed them.
Establishing the cow-protection links to the murders, one of the accused - by Mithilesh Sau alias Bunty - states that whatever he did was because of the responsibility given to him by the Gau Raksha Samiti. This makes the motive behind the murders evidently clear.
Rajasthan sends police to get details on madrasas, DGP says 'routine' (Apr 11, 2016, Indian Express)
Against the backdrop of a demand for probe into "suspicious activities" of madrasas in the state, raised in the Assembly recently by BJP MLA Gyandev Ahuja, Rajasthan government has sought information on madrasas on 14 points, including "ideology", "visits by Tablighi Jamaat", and "activities".
A letter from SPs to respective SHOs seeks information on "what is the ideology of madrasa (whether Shia/Sunni/Deobandi/Barelvi etc)", "whether Tablighi Jamaat visits madrasa or not", "activities", as well as details of owner of the madrasa and the number of students, among others. DGP Manoj Bhatt told The Indian Express, "It is a routine exercise and such information is regularly collected by intelligence."
A madrasa teacher confirmed that police officials had arrived at the madrasa where he teaches two days ago and sought detailed information on the owner, the number of students, ideology,etc. Said Jamaat-e-Islami Hinds state president Khursheed Husain, "This move will only create suspicion and hatred towards madrasas, which is in no way in favour of the nation."
In total enrolment, SC students accounted for 16.6 per cent at primary level and 17.1 per cent at upper primary level, STs for 12.7 and 11 per cent, BCs for 46.7 percent and 48.1per cent and Muslim students for total enrolment of 14.4 percent at primary level and 12.4 per cent at upper primary level.
Similarly, DISE data shows that there were 13,183 secondary schools with total enrolment of 17.02 lakh and 69,000 teachers in 2014-15. In total enrolment, SC students accounted or 17.52 per cent at secondary level and 18.54 percent at higher secondary level, STs proportion was 9.68 per cent and 10.27 per cent, BCs share was 50.14 percent and 47.11 percent and Muslim students' proportion worked out to 10.8 per cent at secondary level and 6.76 per cent at higher secondary level.
DISE data thus indicates that the proportion of SC, ST and BC students at primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary levels is almost approximate to their proportion to total population. But in the case of Muslims, their proportion in enrolment goes down from one level to another, that is, from 14.4 per cent at primary level to 12.4 percent at upper primary level, and further to 10.8 per cent at secondary level and 6.76 per cent at higher secondary level.
Pluralism and tolerance hallmark of Indian civilisation: President Pranab Mukherjee (Apr 10, 2016, Indian Express)
President Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday that "pluralism and tolerance" are the "hallmark of our civilisation", and India's diversity is a "fact" which cannot be turned into "fiction" because of the "whims and caprices of few individuals". He also warned that communal harmony, at times, will be put to test by "vested interests", and Indians must "remain alert to communal tension rearing its ugly head anywhere".
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said, "Religion is a force for unity; we cannot make it a cause of conflict". "At times, communal harmony will be put to test by vested interests. We must, therefore, remain alert to communal tension rearing its ugly head anywhere. Rule of Law must form the sole basis for dealing with any challenging situation. It is our democratic underpinning that must prevail at all times," he said.
Emphasising that democracy is "not all about numbers but also calls for consensus building", Mukherjee said a phenomenon seen in recent times is the way the common man is engaged with affairs of the nation. "While we must wield no space to anarchy, efficient democratic machinery must have the means and wherewithal to absorb public opinion for formulation of sound policies," he said.
The questioning of a former Pune police officer B R Andhalkar has given CBI "vital clues" about conspiracy relating to the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty six years ago, resulting in the arrest of another former Crime branch official Namdev Sukhdev Kauthale.
Kauthale, then Assistant Police Inspector with Crime Branch, was arrested late last night by CBI, agency sources said. It is suspected both ex-crime branch officers knew the conspiracy and had actively taken part in attempts to shield the main accused, they said.
"It was alleged that then API was involved in the initial investigation of the case. He had allegedly conspired with the perpetrators of crime and in furtherance of that he created false evidence and fake eye-witnesses implicating five other accused persons to shield the real conspirators and killers," CBI Spokesperson said here.
Now, Hindu leader Swaroopanand says rapes will rise if women go into Shani temple (Apr 11, 2016, Times of India)
Opinions and Editorials
This week a journalist with the private news channel, CNN-IBN, landed into trouble after posting what was clearly a morphed image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Maheish Girri saw the image, which showed the Prime Minister touching the feet of the Saudi king, as an attempt to denigrate the country and very soon an online mob was baying for the blood of the journalist concerned. The argument that photoshopped image was in circulation several months before this incident and was used by the journalist for satire - however poor - was lost on the online militia. He has since taken off the image from his Facebook page and apologised. Chances are that he will face punitive action.
Online vigilantism such as this calls for a re-examination of the so-called democratic potential of the internet - the social media in particular. In recent times as traditional democratic lifelines have fallen prey to authoritarianism, the internet has emerged as a wellspring of hope. Just as it galvanised young people during the Arab Spring four years ago, social media, it is argued, will help movements of democracy in India and help feminists, Ambedkarites, the traditional leftists, environmentalists, students, teachers find collaborative spaces. There is indeed much about the social media that has inspired such optimism.
Hatred between communities and social groups have lives far beyond election results and immediate political matters. That is why we must be worried. The manner in which the authoritarianism of the BJP-led government on Raisina Hill is working in tandem with the wolves on the web, the damage to India's demo-cracy and pluralism may be long term and, in some ways, irreversible.
…BJP is an admittedly "Hindu party"; rejects "secular policies"; and has as its main objective the establishment of a Hindu Raj so that "Hindu interests" would prevail ("rule India"). This, of course, is not Indian nationalism but Hindu nationalism, which the BJP calls Hindutva or "cultural nationalism".
All this rests on a basis that is obvious though unstated by the BJP. But its ideologue V.D. Savarkar spelt it out boldly. It is that Hindus constitute a separate "nation". Hindutva is another name for the two-nation theory - a "Hindu nation", as distinct from other Indians, over whom it rules to promote "Hindu interests". Savarkar was also the author of both Hindutva and the two-nation theory.
This is the very basis that underlies Prime Minister Narendra Modi's insidious ventures. A secular Constitution is being silently chipped away by executive acts to establish a Hindu Raj. The shell will remain. The kernel will be gone. Its architect, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, would have fought against it. So must we all - Indians who reject the two-nation theory and value our secular credo.…
Is the National Investigation Agency Sabotaging the Malegaon Blast Case? - By Sarim Naved (Apr 11, 2016, The Wire)
The prosecution of the accused in the Malegaon blasts case of 2008 seems to raise one question after the other about the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The premier investigation agency, set up to probe a select category of cases, is supposed to have the time and manpower to ensure quick investigation and prosecution. In the Malegaon case, it has neither carried out a quick investigation nor has it proceeded with the prosecution.
The news of some witness statements, recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) going missing from the court record, has raised further concerns about the prosecutorial intent of the NIA. Former Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian had previously claimed the NIA was seeking to favour the accused, who are members of a fringe right-wing organisation called 'Abhinav Bharat'.… The statements that have gone missing will make it much easier to influence witnesses.… The disappearance of these documents also have to be seen with reference to the NIA's changed stance regarding the application of MCOCA in this trial.…
The Central Bureau of Investigation has let off BJP President Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin case, not having challenged his discharge in that case before the high court. The Ishrat Jahan case has been put in cold storage with no movement regarding it. Witnesses are turning hostile in the Ajmer Dargah blast case and the Malegaon 2008 blasts prosecution is being systematically weakened. The common thread amongst all these cases is that the accused are persons who are perceived to be close to the ruling dispensation. Of course, the RSS and the BJP have publicly disowned the accused in the Ajmer and Malegaon blast cases. But the public condemnation would be much more believable if the country's premier investigative agencies are not seen betraying their own investigations and their own findings.
AMU's Minority Character, the Judiciary and the Executive - By Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood (Apr 10, 2016, Milli Gazette)
The citizens of India would be grateful to the Hon'ble Supreme Court for very kindly taking note of the contents of this article vis-a-vis the ongoing matter regarding the minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University. The nation and the world are quite aware from duly recorded history that in 1875 Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had established the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh. It was originally affiliated with Calcutta University and in 1885 its affiliation was shifted to the Allahabad University.…
The citizens also urge the Hon'ble Prime Minister and the Hon'ble Minister of Human Resource Development to rise to the occasion and accept the above constitutional scheme as well as the fact that the MAO College was established by Muslims of India and that through the Act of 1920 the Parliament only procedurally upgraded the College to a University and these facts were duly clarified through the 1981 amendment. The central government would do well not to withdraw its appeal before the Supreme Court.
The citizens of India earnestly urge the nation to see reason and not to challenge the sentiments of millions of Indian Muslims and their sympathizers. Let us not test the nerve of the nation, let us not push any section of the population to the wall and let us remain confined within the sacred constitutional precincts.
The massive state-sponsored repression in Chhattisgarh, especially the Bastar region, over the past few months under the informally named "Mission 2016" campaign marks new history on two important counts. First, the manoeuvres employed by the government in general and the security agencies in particular in the name of protecting the national interest and tackling Maoist Left Wing Extremism (LWE) have acquired unprecedented dimensions in terms of vicious and brutal interference in the everyday lives of common people.…
in political and ideological terms, Mission 2016 signifies yet another calibrated nuance in the Hindutva project of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)-led Sangh Parivar to capture and perpetuate power. The self-professed "Hindutva laboratories" of the Sangh Parivar have taken different political and ideological shapes and hues in the exercises relating to power politics and statecraft.
While the tactic was all-out aggression against Muslims in Gujarat, which manifested itself in the form of the bestial genocide of the minority community in 2002, in Odisha it took the form of rampant attacks against Christians. After 2010, the main product of the "laboratory" was neoliberal Hindutva, which combined Hindutva communalism with a corporate-driven development agenda.…
The Panama papers have given a glimpse of the extensive network of shell companies and secret entities in tax havens around the globe which service the needs of the wealthy and powerful of the world. The Indian Express has published details of Indians who have utilised the services of a law firm, Mossack Fonseca, headquartered in Panama for acquiring shell companies off the shelf. These shell companies are registered in various tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands.…
If the Modi government is serious about cracking down on black money, tax evasion and money laundering, then it should impose a blanket prohibition on Indians acquiring shell companies and operating secret accounts in tax havens. This is apart from confiscating the illegal money and assets of those in the Panama list. But the BJP government will not dare to do so as the whole system of international finance capital is intertwined with the elaborate structure of tax havens and shell companies. After all, it was the earlier NDA government which opened up the Mauritius route for financial investments from abroad which has become a big source for money laundering and round tripping.
The action proposed to be taken on the Panama papers further confirm that the Modi government will only scratch the surface and is unwilling to touch the structure of tax havens, money laundering and the generation of black money.
Reviewed by: Suraj Kumar Thube
Available at: Cambridge University Press, 32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473, USA, ISBN - 978-1-316-60391-8, Price - 550 rupees, Pages - 334. http://www.amazon.in/
Violent Conjunctures In Democratic India (Apr 7, 2016, Countercurrents)
Hindu nationalism has been a pervasive phenomenon in India, especially since the 'second democratic upsurge in 1990.' Academicians over the years have focussed broadly on the multiple contours of this form of militant nationalism and how it shapes Indian politics in general. These studies have more or less highlighted the role of political parties in fomenting violence along with the active connivance of the State. The primary focus is on the Bhartiya Janta Party and its constantly changing relationship with cultural organisations of the Hindu right. Terming the BJP as a 'movement-party', the author draws our attention to the multiple fault lines when it comes to the working mechanism of the party at the ground level.
In the concluding pages, the author manages to give a synoptic overview of how primordial identities is not a sufficient reason to explain the violent activities perpetrated by the Hindu right. The constantly shifting and evolving relationships of the parties and social movements are crucial to understand where and why violence occurs along with other reasons of globalization and state intervention that need to be factored in. At the same time, a few questions beg answers. How globalization in itself is shaping India to become more Hindu? Does Hindutva inherently proves to be electorally unpopular in some states or is it the primacy of the party power in that state that makes the final decision? How do normal, ordinary people exactly react to the constantly changing fault lines within these violent conjunctures?
At the same time, it is an insightful study that brings forward the unexpected variations seen between various states ruled by the same party. To emulate one political setup in some other state becomes virtually impossible as there is a calculated hierarchy of ideological and institutional issues wherein one takes precedence over others depending on sundry factors. As the author rightly points out, there is a need for recognising violence in democracies by retheorizing our understanding of political institutions, organisations and movements.