Peace, Pluralism and Justice
In this issue of IAMC News Digest
Opinions & Editorials
Indian Americans express outrage over Nuh encounter killing; call for prosecution of police officers involved
UP in the grip of an "encounter mania" under Yogi Adityanath
September 21, 2017
The Indian American Muslim Council (http://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India's pluralist and tolerant ethos has called for the immediate suspension, arrest and criminal prosecution of the four police officers of Haryana's Central Investigation Agency, involved in the grisly murder and cover up of Munfaid Hussain, a 30-year old young farmer belonging to the Meo community in the Nuh district of Haryana.
According to a report by a fact-finding team constituted by Citizens Against Hate, Munfaid was ordered by officers of the Haryana CIA to perform work for them on September 15, 2017 a day before he was brutally killed. The deceased was told if he complied they would remove false allegations from his records. Munfaid's father and father-in-law told him to comply with the officers' requests to have false accusations against him removed. However, the next morning, Munfaid's family received the news of his killing.
The fact-finding team found that the police took the victim's body first to Nalhad Medical College Hospital, Nuh and then to CHC, Nuh and then to a private doctor to get the post-mortem performed before the victim's family could arrive, in an apparent attempt to tamper with the evidence.
Per the autopsy report, a reddish contusion and firearm entry wounds were found on the front side of the body, along with a deformed metallic bullet found over the right side of second thoracic vertebrae.
"We condemn this police atrocity against an innocent man, in the strongest possible terms," said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. "The members of the victim's family should be given witness protection immediately, in order to ensure a thorough and independent investigation into this murder," added Mr. Khan.
What makes this encounter especially egregious are the discrepancies between the official police account and the corroborating accounts of the local physicians' statement of not complying with an illegal post-mortem ordered by the police officers. In addition, the account of three witnesses, the father of the victim and the testimonies of the villagers speaks volumes about the high levels of impunity in the state apparatus, tasked with protecting the lives of citizens.
Munfaid's murder by the State is the sixteenth extrajudicial killing of young Muslim men by police in Mewat within the last few years.
Indian American Muslim Council
1. Nuh encounter: A night before killing, Munfaid was called by the police to do their work, reports fact-finding team
2. Mewat, Haryana on the Boil After Another Muslim Youth Killed in Staged Encounter
3. 'Police Encounter' Witnessed By 3 Friends of the Victim Who Have Gone Into Hiding, Says Fact Finding Report
Rajasthan Government Protecting Perpetrators of Pehlu Khan Lynching, Says Family (Sep 14, 2017, The Wire)
"This is absolutely wrong. We don't accept the investigation at all. Those men were RSS and Bajrang Dal agents and that's the reason why the government is protecting them. Everyone is being sold. All the six men were present on the spot, Abbaji had himself named them before his death. How can they say that they were not present on the spot on the basis of mobile phone data records and set them free? We will take the matter to the Supreme Court. The culprits shall be punished," Irshad (25), the eldest son of Pehlu Khan, told The Wire.
On April 1 this year, Pehlu and his sons Aarif (22) and Irshad, were on their way home to Nuh from Jaipur. They were stopped and assaulted by self-styled cow vigilantes for "illegally" transporting cattle, even after they told them they had the required permit. Pehlu, along with five other men who were beaten, was admitted to a district hospital where he died two days later. While in the hospital, he gave a statement to the police naming six men.
"The government had already given a clean chit to all the accused even before any investigation took place. In a way, the subsequent 'investigation' has only produced a result that is in line with the state home minister's statement right after Pehlu's death. This shows how the investigation cannot be trusted. The Supreme Court should set up an independent investigation to monitor all the mob lynchings that happened under the name of cow protection," Kavita Krishnan, politbureau member of the CPI(ML) told The Wire.
The Karwan-e-Mohabbat today morning reached Behror in Alwar district of Rajasthan to pay tributes to Pehlu Khan, the dairy farmer who was killed by cow vigilantes in Alwar on April 1. But the Karwan - led by Harsh Mander, former civil servant and activist writer - was prevented from visiting the place by VHP goons.
The VHP workers were a group of 20-30 people only. But the police failed to rein in the goons who didn't want the Karwan members to pay tributes. Harsh Mander and team sat on the road and protested.
The Karwan that started from 4th September from Assam, was to travel Jaipur and Ajmer areas today to meet the families of lynch victims. They have travelled to places in Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Mangalore in Karnataka Shamli in UP, Mewat in Haryana and Alwar in Rajasthan. The karwan meets the families of lynch victims to show their solidarity and support with them.
SIT officials have questioned around 15 people, including members of the Sanatan Sanstha, which is under police radar for years now, in journalist Gauri Lankesh's murder case investigation. Sources privy to the development said that an SIT team is already in Goa, where Sanatan Sanstha's Ashram is headquartered, while another team is in Mumbai. "The team has already visited the Ashram and SIT officials have spoken to the Sanstha members. They have gathered details required for the probe. Similarly, another team is in Mumbai to question some members of the Sanstha," an official said.
As the ballistic report suggested that the mechanism of crime and the weapons used in the murders of rationalists Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, Dr. M.M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh had striking similarities, the SIT is investigating whether the right wing Hindu group has any links to Gauri's murder.
Sanatan Sanstha has been in the news for all the wrong reasons for years now, as those owing allegiance to it were arrested in bomb blast cases in the past. The National Investigation Agency had also issued a Red Corner notice against three of its members, including Rudra Patil, who is suspected to be the mastermind behind the Goa blast in 2009. His role was also suspected in the murder of Govind Pansare.
Rat poison mixed in water tank of my madrassa, alleges Hamid Ansari's wife (Sep 18, 2017, Indian Express)
Salma Ansari, wife of former vice-president Hamid Ansari, has accused two unidentified men of mixing rat poison in the water tank of a madrassa run by her in Aligarh. Ansari alleged that when a child of her madrassa went to fill a water bottle at night, he saw two men mixing something in the tank.
She added when the child called them out, they pushed him and ran away. "The child then alerted the warden. Police was called. Several tablets of rat poison were found near the tank," Ansari told news agency ANI.
It was alleged that the two men also threatened the child with dire consequences and asked him not to report the incident. An FIR under sections 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC has been lodged against the two unidentified men.
Modi's upcoming Visit to Varanasi: Order telling madrasas to get women to PM talk withdrawn (Sep 18, 2017, Indian Express)
A proposed interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and "minority women" during his upcoming Varanasi visit suffered a setback after the local administration on Sunday withdrew its order issuing directives to madrasas in the district for the September 22 event. The order, which assigned each madrasa the responsibility of ensuring the presence of a minimum of 25 "minority women" at the programme, was issued on Friday. The local administration cited protests from madrasas as the reason behind withdrawal of the order.
In the order, Varanasi district's minority welfare officer R K Yadav had instructed the managers and principals of all aided and non-aided madrasas of Varanasi to ensure the presence of minority women at a DLW auditorium on September 22, when the PM is slated to address them. " .Ukt tithi par alpsankhyak mahilaon ka karyakram stahl par pahunchane ka uttardaitwa apko diya ja raha hai," it said.
Diwan Saheb Zaman Khan, general secretary of the Teachers' Association Madaris-e-Arabia, said, "The order of the state government has been opposed because we are running academic institutions and are not workers of BJP or Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM). It should not be our responsibility to ensure gathering in PM's programme." Khan is also principal of the Madarsa Arabic Madinatul Uloom, a government-aided madrasa in Jalalipur area. Zaman also claimed that the Association had asked the administration to withdraw the order.
Sardesai Says Arnab's Claim Of Facing Saffron Goons In Gujarat A Lie, He Wasn't Covering Riots (Sep 19, 2017, Outlook)
Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai today called out his former colleague and Republic TV's co-founder and Managing Director Arnab Goswami over his claim that his car had been attacked in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, during the 2002 riots.
The video of Goswami's speech that Sardesai, currently a consulting editor at India Today TV (and formerly at NDTV with Goswami), has used to rip him apart on Twitter is an old one. The anecdote being told by Goswami though, is straight out of Sardesai's book written in the aftermath of the 2014 general elections.
"Fekugiri has its limits, but seeing this, I feel sorry for my profession," said Sardesai on Twitter.
Jamia, which allowed blast accused Indresh Kumar to speak on campus, cancels public meeting because students called JNU and DU faculty (Sep 14, 2017, Twocircles.net)
The Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) administration is increasingly becoming intolerant to the idea of students and teachers expressing themselves on any issue. A few days after it sent a show-cause notice to a student over a Facebook post, it has now cancelled a public meeting because the students had invited faculty from JNU and DU to speak. This comes a day after the administration had given permission for the meeting.
The public meeting on "Shrinking democratic spaces in universities" was supposed to be held on September 14 at the Safdar Hashmi open air theatre.
"Initially they had given us all the permission, but suddenly yesterday we received an intimation from Proctor and DSW office that we can't hold the event. They asked us to drop the speakers who were not from the university and offered us a go ahead if we have three speakers that too from Jamia only," said Md Aman Qurashi, Jamia student and one of the organisers.
'Gory murder' of RSS woman by Leftist Muslims in Kerala is fake news (Sep 13, 2017, Hindustan Times)
The fake news machinery is at it again. On Wednesday, a video showing a BJP woman supporter being allegedly murdered in Kerala surfaced on social media. The video showed two men on a bike, their faces covered, dragging a woman out of the car. As she struggles to free herself from their clutches, she is 'shot' at, collapsing on the ground. A man then addresses the people who have surrounded the body, in Malayalam. The word 'RSS' used repeatedly, is the only distinguishable word for those who do not understand the language.
Twitter user @AmiteshK01 posted the video, calling it "another gory murder in Kerala by Commie/Jihadi goons of a lady supportive of BJP". The text written in Hindi, flashing on the video translates to, "RSS Hindu woman shot dead by Muslims in Kerala".
But none of it is real - the murder did not happen, the woman did not die. The video was a clipping of a street play performed by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) at Kalikavu in Malappuram, a report in Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhumi noted. The street play was an enactment of the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5.
As many as 15 persons had been gunned down in police encounters in Uttar Pradesh since the BJP government came to power in the State earlier this year, marking an aggressive stance against criminals.
Nine of the 15 alleged criminals were killed in Western U.P.'s Meerut zone alone. The highest number was in the sensitive district of Shamli with four, followed by three in Azamgarh and two each in Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur. The remaining were in Chitrakoot, Lucknow, Mathura and Hapur.
The data, released by the police, was collected from March 20 - a day after the Yogi Adityanath government took oath - till September 14. The latest encounter took place in Azamgarh on Thursday when police gunned down one Ramji Pasi, in the busy Ramganj Bazar area. Pasi, wanted in many crimes, had a reward of ₹15,000 on his head.
Is the decision to waive off stamp duty to Madhav Netralaya is nothing less than taking undue advantage of being in government? " At a time when the slogan of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan was pushing government to exempt stamp duty to all farmers (stamp duty is currently a 7.50 per cent in Nagpur city) the Madhav Netralaya was liable to pay stamp duty of Rs1,92,29,275.
But the BJP-ruled state government has waived off Rs 1.92 crore stamp duty that was due from Madhav Netralaya - an eye institute and research centre - planned by some prominent RSS activists, on Hingna Road.
Activists and politicians from opposition parties have criticised the government's decision. A brochure of Madhav Netralaya available online says Swami Avdeshanand Giriji Maharaj, Suresh 'Bhaiyaji' Joshi, union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari, and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis are on its advisory board. RSS activist Dr Shrikant Andhare is president of Madhav Netralaya, Dr Avinash Agnihotri is general secretary while Nikhil Mundle, who donated the land, is vice president of the institute.
Opinions and Editorials
I was not yet nine but I distinctly remember the day when for the first time I witnessed people celebrating the murder of a person. In Mangalore my home town, on 31st January 1948 members of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha distributed sweets to celebrate the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi the previous day.
There have been many more such incidents during the last seven decades. The latest is the celebration of the murder of the journalist and human rights activist Gauri Lankesh by some political commentators, journalists and self-styled nationalists. The main comment was that she got the death she deserved, a dog's death.
The method is similar in most cases. The so called nationalists begin by demonising the person they hate. Whether they know it or not, most of those they demonise are not just persons. They represent an idea or a vision and that is a threat to them. Such 'nationalists' need to demonise that person's thinking. The Mahatma, for example, represented the idea of secular India in which all religious beliefs would be respected as equal. That was a threat to those who wanted a Hindu Rashtra with no rights conferred on Muslims, Christians and other minorities. A country that belonged to all the religious communities was a threat to such 'nationalists.' It meant that the person who propagated that thought had to be got rid of. One of them did it and the rest celebrated his murder.…
The murder of Gauri Lankesh is uncannily similar to the killings of Narendra Dabholkar (2013) and Govind Pansare (2015). Both men were shot at close range and no one claimed responsibility. Sadly, investigations seem reduced to mere formality. While activists and the victims' families try hard to keep the issue alive, there seems little inclination on the administration's part to nab the culprits or even get to the bottom of the conspiracy.
Whether there is a link between the killers of Gauri Lankesh and those of Dabholkar and Pansare will be revealed when investigations into the case begin. If it is the same group (the modus operandi is identical, according to a police officer), there may be some hope of finding answers to the killing of the two highly respected rationalists who fought relentlessly against blind faith, superstition and other beliefs that they saw as irrational and exploitative.
The two cases have come to the fore again with Gauri Lankesh's killing. The failure of both State and Central agencies in tracing the assailants so far is apparent. Whether or not the lack of effort is deliberate, the latest murder will hopefully snap investigators out of their inertia. One police officer that Frontline spoke to felt that investigations into those two cases might provide leads in the Gauri Lankesh case.…
Karwan-e-Mohabbat: Tragic how Adivasis, Dalits and Muslims are worth less than a cow today - By Harsh Mander (Sep 18, 2017, Dailyo.in)
…On May 2, 2017, the police claimed that someone had reported that a cow was killed in the village. The report filed by the police states that they rushed to the spot and found five men gathered around a recently slaughtered bull.… Four of the men are said to have run away after a chase.
The police managed to catch one of the men, a Dalit, Lebabhai Bhambhibhai and arrested him for the alleged crime of cow (progeny) slaughter. Lebabhai pleaded that he had not killed the bull; he did not slaughter cows or trade their meat. His caste determined vocation was only to skin dead cows. That day he was skinning a bull that was already dead. But the police insisted that he was lying, and beat him up brutally. He complained later to the courts that the police demanded two lakh rupees from him to spare his life and give him freedom. His family was able to raise one lakh rupees but that was not enough.…
This was like a perverse parody of a morality play. One Adivasi, one Dalit, and two Muslims, all charged by the police to have killed a cow, who was not a cow, but a bull. All thrashed brutally by the police, who extorted blood money as the price to stay alive. One of them beaten and humiliated ruthlessly and publicly, in the style of public lynching, so severely that he dies. Truly ours has become a country in which the lives of Adivasis, Dalits, and Muslims are worth less than that of a cow.
…We don't have an American-style First Amendment that disallows the state from entangling itself with matters of faith, and vice versa. But still, there are some things we can do. If we cannot regulate speech that crosses boundaries between politics and religion, can we not at least regulate the flow of money changing hands between the two spheres? We cannot stop politicos from courting the godmen, but why must we allow them to raid the public treasury to enrich the babas of their choice?
Recall that earlier this year, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao happily took out five and a half crore rupees from the public exchequer to make a gift of gold to the Tirumala temple. The Rs.1 crore or so that the Haryana government has gifted to Dera Sacha Sauda since it came to power is small potatoes in comparison. This is only the cash payment: there are hardly any public records of the grant of lands and other legal/administrative privileges (like setting aside environmental laws to let mega events sponsored by religious bodies, accreditation of religious universities and colleges).
What law in the Constitution prevents us from regulating the money nexus? There has been much talk of anti-corruption laws. Are politically motivated gifts to religious bodies not a form of corruption? Why should they not be regulated and brought under control? We must learn some lessons from the Dera Sacha Sauda fiasco. Otherwise, let us all get ready for many more Panchkulas.
In Rajasthan, BJP faces the first serious challenge to its cow politics from angry farmers - By Shoaib Daniyal (Sep 17, 2017, Scroll.in)
…Politics around the cow has taken centre stage in India of late, being one of the Bharatiya Janata Party's main planks. The communal polarisation around the issue has helped the party do well electorally. The BJP is now in the government of 16 states and, most recently, won Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state. Yet, the cow is not only a religious animal in India - it is also an economic one. The BJP's focus on cow protection has hit the bovine economy hard. Farmers are finding it difficult to sell cattle. This means falling incomes and increasingly large herds of abandoned cattle that pose a threat to crops.
This squeeze has resulted in a reaction from farmers in the Sikar district of Rajasthan. In response to a call from the All India Kisan Sabha, the farmer's body of the Communist Pary of India (Marxist), since September 1, farmers gathered in large numbers at the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Mandi in Sikar town. They also implemented a chakka jam, roadblock of the major highways crossing the district resulting in a near paralysis.
The farmers were angry at their falling incomes. They demanded loans waivers, better prices and a let up in the draconian rules that now govern the sale of cattle slaughter in Rajasthan. On Thursday, 13 days after the agitation started, the Rajasthan government gave in to the movement and agreed to meet their demands.…
Did Allahabad University cancel an event for fear that it was like 'anti-national' programme in JNU? - By Shreya Roy Chowdhury (Sep 19, 2017, Scroll.in)
On Saturday, Allahabad University withdrew permission for an event on the Indian Constitution scheduled for Monday, September 18. Called Jashn-e-Samvidhaan, or celebration of the Constitution, it was to be the first in a series of events, together called the "Liberty Festival". On September 13, the university had granted the festival's organisers permission to use the Senate Hall for the events, but permission was withdrawn three days later.
During that time, some students had expressed their opposition to the event, with social media posts alleging that the planned programme had the "same content and outline" as the one held at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University in February 2016 to mark the fourth death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Activist Manish Sharma, a member of the festival's organising committee, wrote an open letter to Allahabad University Vice Chancellor Rattan Lal Hangloo after permission was withdrawn. Sharma wrote that Hangloo had mentioned to him on the phone that "…there was…pressure from the Ministry of Human Resource Development" regarding the event.…