IAMC Weekly News Roundup - March 2nd, 2015

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Peace, Pluralism and Justice 

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

Announcements

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

Shocking reversals in the struggle for justice mark Gujarat pogroms anniversary

February 28, 2015

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India's pluralist and tolerant ethos has marked the 13th anniversary of the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, by pledging to continue the struggle for justice, regardless of the passage of time and the vicissitudes in the electoral fortunes of the masterminds behind the genocide. IAMC has expressed its dismay over the brazen mockery of justice in cases related to the pogroms, since the new government came to power in May 2014.

The Gujarat pogroms of 2002 represent the most horrific case of mass targeted violence against a specific religious community in independent India. In systematic and organized attacks against Muslims, over 2,000 people were massacred and over 150,000 were displaced and rendered homeless. The genocide was accompanied by brutal forms of sexual violence against hundreds of women.

In several high-profile cases, the perpetrators have either been acquitted by the infamous and compromised Special Investigations Team (SIT), or granted bail after having been convicted. In parallel, activists such as Teesta Setalvad, who demonstrated exemplary courage in pursuing justice for the victims, are being hounded by the police and subject to harassment by the state under trumped-up charges.

Last Friday, six people accused in the barbaric killing of three British citizens during the Gujarat massacres were acquitted by the court for "lack of evidence." The three Britons were Saeed and Shakil Dawood and Mohammad Aswat. They were burned alive near Prantij town of Gujarat's Sabarkantha district.

"The denial of justice for the victims of the Gujarat pogroms compounds the enormity of the crimes committed against them in 2002," stated Mr. Umar Malick, President of IAMC. "The BJP government has continued in the tradition of the Gujarat government, of shielding the guilty and harassing those that are striving to bring them to justice," added Mr. Malick.

Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation.

For more information, please visit http://www.iamc.com

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REFERENCES:
1. Gujarat govt. & Teesta Setalvad: Hounding Activists to Protect the Guilty
http://newsclick.in/india/hounding-activists-protect-guilty

2. Gujarat govt says will continue probe against whistleblower Rahul Sharma after his retirement
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/gujarat-govt-says-will-continue-probe-against-sharma-after-his-retirement/

3. Gujarat Riots: All 6 Accused of Killing of 3 British Nationals Acquitted
http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/gujarat-riots-all-6-accused-of-killing-of-3-british-nationals-acquitted-742852

4. Teesta Setalvad's lawyer Prashant Bhushan denied renewal of passport over traffic rule violation
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/prashant-bhushan-aap-passport-renewal-traffic-violation/1/420119.html

5. After Kodnani, her former assistant gets bail in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/after-kodnani-her-former-assistant-gets-bail-in-2002-naroda-patiya-riot-case/

6. Naroda Patia massacre: Babu Bajrangi gets seven-day bail
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/46303538.cms

7. Rights abuse rampant in India: Amnesty
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/46363569.cms

8. India had highest level of social hostilities in 2013: Pew Research
http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-india-had-highest-level-of-social-hostilities-in-2013-pew-research-2064639

9. "We have no orders to save you" – Report by Human Rights Watch
http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/2002/india/

10. Concerned Citizens Tribunal – Gujarat 2002; An Inquiry into the Carnage in Gujarat
http://www.sabrang.com/tribunal/volI/index.html

11. Riot Victims protest bail to Kodnani, others
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/riot-victims-protest-bail-to-kodnani-others/article6946133.ece

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Communal Harmony

Call to maintain unity and communal harmony (Feb 26, 2015, The Hindu)

The Tamil Maanila Imamgal Peravai has urged the Muslim community to forge unity on political issues forgetting the petty differences for the overall development of the whole community. A resolution to this effect was adopted at the day-long Meelad conference held in the city on Wednesday.

Another resolution condemned the communal forces which were indulging in the barbaric act of killing innocent people in the name of religion. These forces were bent on dividing the countrymen by fanning communal passions. Such activities of communal organisations deserved severest condemnation, the resolution said.

It urged the countrymen to maintain unity and communal harmony. The Peravai explained the ill-effects of dowry system prevailing in the society, and called upon the youths and parents to put an end to this menace.…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/call-to-maintain-unity-and-communal-harmony/article6935091.ece

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Indian-American Muslims demand justice for Gujarat victims on 13th anniversary of mass massacre (Feb 24, 2015, Twocircles.net)

On the occasion of the 13th anniversary of the massacre of over 1,000 Muslims in Gujarat in the post-Godhra riots after February 27, 2002, the city-based Indian-American Muslim NGO, Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIMA) has issued an appeal to India's President and the Prime Minister to help expedite criminal cases against the culprits responsible for the massacre.

The AIMA has reminded the two top political heads of the Indian government that 13 long years after the "well-organized" brutal attack by some sectarian organizations on a large number of innocent Muslim men, women and children in Ahmedabad and other cities in central Gujarat, only very few of the hundreds of culprits have been sentenced to jail, a release said here.…

In the years since the violence, in several instances the Gujarat state government legal authorities have destroyed critical evidence against the culprits, who in various instances were ministers, senior police officials and officials of the Gujarat government. "The enquiries conducted by the enquiry commissions appointed by Gujarat government were a sham and committed many irregularities," the release pointed out.…

http://twocircles.net/2015feb24/1424777182.html

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British victims' family slams Gujarat riots acquittal verdict (Feb 28, 2015, Business Standard)

The acquittal of six people in a case related to the killing of three British nationals of Indian origin during the 2002 Gujarat riots was today described as a "failure of justice" by the victims' family. Citing lack of evidence, a special trial court in India today acquitted all the six accused of killing three British nationals near Prantij town in Sabarkantha district of west Indian state of Gujarat in 2002.…

"The tragedy, something that the family has to live with on daily basis, is that the mob responsible for killing their loved ones are still loose on the streets.

"The family will not rest until the Indian government fulfils its legal duty and responsibility of bringing the real culprits to justice," said Suresh Grover, spokesperson for the Dawood Family Justice Campaign set up here in the wake of the tragedy.…

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/british-victims-family-slams-gujarat-riots-acquittal-verdict-115022800019_1.html

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Indian Hindu leader's criticism of Mother Teresa adds to religious tension (Feb 24, 2015, The Guardian)

Just days after the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, assured church leaders that his government would ensure the right of every citizen to "retain or adopt" any religion, the country's foremost Hindu nationalist leader questioned the work of Christian missionaries by accusing Mother Teresa of having served the poor in order to persuade them to become Christians.…

Since Modi came to power nine months ago, Christians and Muslims have felt besieged by a strident Hindu nationalist propaganda campaign, and in some instances have even been "reconverted" at highly publicised "homecoming" events, in line with the RSS belief that all Indians were originally Hindus.

Bhagwat had earlier described religious minorities as "stolen goods", and declared: "I will take back my goods." Parliament had come to a standstill on the issue, and until last week Modi had steadfastly refused to defend religious freedom and the rights of minorities.…

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/24/indian-hindu-leaders-criticism-of-mother-teresa-adds-to-religious-tension

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In Gujarat Encounter Cases, Language of Bail Orders Belies Claims of Weak Evidence (Feb 22, 2015, NDTV)

This week, as Gujarat's "encounter" cop DG Vanzara walked out of the Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad where he has spent the past eight years, his supporters erupted into noisy celebrations. With his exit, virtually none of the police officials charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a series of alleged fake encounters that took place between 2004 and 2006 in the state remain in jail.

The joyous mood that greeted Mr Vanzara, however, seemed to belie the legal reality - he is out on bail with fairly stringent conditions. The trials in the two encounter cases he is charged with - the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others in 2004, the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauserbi in 2005 and that of Sheikh's associate Tulsiram Prajapati in 2006 - are yet to begin. When they do, it could take years before there is a verdict.

…The Gujarat government has even reinstated some of these officers, using their being granted bail as a defence. But a closer reading of the bail orders suggests that the courts, in varying degrees, have found merit in the CBI's charges. While granting bail to Mr Vanzara in the Sohrabuddin encounter case in September 2014, the Bombay High Court observed that "the role attributed to the applicant (Vanzara) is quite serious and prominent… there is sufficient material in the chargesheet to support these allegations, and therefore, there exists a prima facie case of serious offences against the applicant."…

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/in-gujarat-encounter-cases-language-of-bail-orders-belies-claims-of-weak-evidence-741321

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Amnesty International criticises Modi govt's rights record (Feb 25, 2015, The Hindu)

Human rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday criticised the Narendra Modi-led government, saying under the new regime India had witnessed a rise in communal violence and its Land Acquisition Ordinance has put thousands of Indians at "risk" of forcible eviction. In its Annual Report 2015, released here, Amnesty highlighted poll-related violence in the lead-up to the May 2014 General Elections, communal clashes and failure of consultation on corporate projects as key concerns.…

The report highlighted that "the authorities continued to violate people's rights to privacy and freedom of expression. There was a rise in communal violence in Uttar Pradesh and some other states and corruption, caste-based discrimination and caste violence remained pervasive."

In reference to communal violence, it noted that, "A string of communally charged incidents in Uttar Pradesh prior to elections led to an increase in tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities… Politicians were accused of and in some cases criminally charged with making provocative speeches."…

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/amnesty-international-criticises-modi-govts-rights-record/article6931794.ece

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CPI (M) worker hacked to death allegedly by RSS-BJP men in Kannur (Feb 26, 2015, Indian Express)

A CPI (M) worker was hacked to death allegedly by RSS-BJP men on Wednesday night at Chittariparamba near Koothuparamba in Kannur. According to police, O Preman, 45, a toddy tapper, was attacked. An armed gang hurled bombs to scare people away, before hacking O Preman, 45, a toddy tapper, police said. He had sustained serious injuries on both legs. He was rushed to a hospital in Thalassery but succumbed to injuries on Thursday morning.

A hartal was observed in Kannur district, in protest against the murder. Police have registered a case against 10 BJP-RSS workers. The district administration has convened a peace meeting on Friday. CPI (M) district secretary P Jayarajan said the Sangh Parivar has converted the district into battle ground after the BJP government came to power at the Centre.

Kannur district, which had a long blood-stained history of cyclical political violence, had remained peaceful for the recent years. However, things have changed after BJP stepped up its membership campaign after the party assumed power at the Centre. Several pro-CPI (M) men had joined the BJP in the recent months.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/cpi-m-worker-hacked-to-death-allegedly-by-rss-bjp-men-in-kannur/

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Thirteen men acquitted from a 12-year-old POTA case in Maharashtra (Feb 26, 2015, Twocircles.net)

Thirteen persons, who were termed accused in a 2003 terror case under sections of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), were acquitted by a session court here. Session Court Judge N N Dhend acquitted all the 13 accused in the case on Tuesday for want of evidence. Those acquitted are: Anwar Shaikh, Mansoor Shaikh, Gulam Shaikh, Mudassir Shaikh, Ibrahim Momin, Mubin Shaikh, Farooq Tubib, Hamid Mulla, Yaqub Saudagar, Jabbar Shaikh, Mahboob Daula, Rahman Shaikh and Imaan Nadaf.

All these men were arrested by Maharashtra police on August 8, 2003 alleging they were planning to make crude bombs for explosion. Police had allegedly recovered some preparatory material from some of the accused. Soon after their arrest, police had invoked sections of POTA in the case. All the accused were released on bail after spending six months behind bars after their arrest in 2002.

There were 62 witnesses in the case but prosecution examined only 14 of them. All the witnesses were declared hostile by the court. Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind that had extended legal help to these accused expressed delight with the judgment and thanked its legal cell for continuous work in getting justice for the innocent.…

http://twocircles.net/2015feb26/1424940311.html

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Muzaffarnagar Riot Cases: 10 months on, cops wait for DNA report to confirm identity of riot victim (Mar 3, 2015, Indian Express)

For the last 10 months, the Special Investigation Cell (SIC) probing the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot cases is awaiting a DNA report to proceed into the murder case of 45-year-old Shakeel, who went missing after communal violence erupted in the district. In his complaint, Shakeel's son Dilshad had named 22 people - all belonging to the Jat community - for killing his father and later setting ablaze the body. The case was filed at Fugana police station in Muzaffarnagar. No one has been arrested yet.

On September 8, 2013, a charred body was recovered near Dilshad's house at Bahadi village in Muzaffarnagar. Dilshad claimed that the deceased was his father. In June last year, the police had taken Dilshad's blood sample to conduct DNA profiling with the charred body. But the report is yet to arrive. Investigating officer (IO) of the case, Inspector Dharampal Tyagi, said the police will proceed after it receives the DNA report.…

In June last year, Dilshad's blood sample was collected and sent to Hyderabad for DNA profiling with the preserved parts of the body. ASP (SIC) Manoj Kumar Jha said though they have sent regular reminders to the laboratory, they are yet to receive the DNA report.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/muzaffarnagar-riot-cases-10-months-on-cops-wait-for-dna-report-to-confirm-identity-of-riot-victim/

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Demolition of Babri masjid greatest national crime and tragedy after partition: Justice Katju (Feb 26, 2015, Twocircles.net)

Terming the demolition of the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992 as the "greatest national crime and greatest tragedy," Justice (retd) Markandey Katju, Press Council Chief and former Chief Justice of Madras High Court, has demanded that the perpetrators must be given the "harshest punishment."

Although Katju made no mention, his comments on the Babri demolition come a day after reports of one of the main litigants in the Ram Jamnbhoomi Babri Masjid case, Hashim Ansari having a discussion with Akhara Parishad chief Mahant Gyan Das for a new proposal for the resolution of the Ayodhya dispute that they reportedly plan to put before the Supreme Court. According to a report in The Hindu, the idea behind the plan is to find a middle path keeping in mind the sensibilities of both the Hindu and the Muslim communities.…

"I refused to go to the so called 'Ram Janma Bhoomi', which had been erected on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid," he said, adding, "I did not go there because I regard demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 as the greatest national crime and greatest tragedy after the Partition of India in 1947 and I refuse to convey the impression that I have condoned this crime."…

http://twocircles.net/2015feb26/1424966483.html

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Christian who reconverts as Hindu SC will get quota benefits: Apex court (Feb 27, 2015, Indian Express)

Amid the controversy over "ghar wapsi", the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a person who "reconverts" from Christianity to Hinduism shall be entitled to reservation benefits if his forefathers belonged to a Scheduled Caste and the community accepts him after "reconversion".

Citing articles by B R Ambedkar and James Massey, and reports by Mandal Commission and Chinappa Commission, the court said: "There has been detailed study to indicate the Scheduled Caste persons belonging to Hindu religion, who had embraced Christianity with some kind of hope or aspiration, have remained socially, educationally and economically backward."

The bench of Justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda held that a person shall not be deprived of reservation benefits if he decides to "reconvert" to Hinduism and adopts the caste that his forefathers originally belonged to just because he was born to Christian parents or has a Christian spouse.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/christian-who-reconverts-as-hindu-sc-will-get-quota-benefits-apex-court/

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Opinions and Editorials

13th Anniversary Of Gujrat Pogrom: When Bharat Lost To Bharatiya Janata Party - By Abdul Majid Zargar (Feb 26, 2015, Countercurrents)

Tomorrow, the 27th day of February, is the thirteenth anniversary of Gujrat pogrom in which more than 1OOO Muslims were massacred mercilessly under a communal & partisan administration headed by then Chief Minster Narendra Modi. After demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 and accompanying riots, Gujrat pogrom of 2002 stands alone as one of the worst onslaughts on the cultural identity, economic survival & physical existence of Indian Muslims.

While Justice was subverted in both these holocausts, it was additionally shamed in Gujrat as was eloquently exposed by "Tehelka" - an Indian Magazine in a sting operation. According to the Magazine, "It was not just the carnage that was clinically planned and supervised by the State, it was also the aftermath. Even before the riots began, One of the Sangh parivar outfits, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had started chalking out a strategy for providing legal assistance to Hindus who were likely to be accused of rioting and killing. Its members met on the night of the Sabarmati Express incident to constitute a panel of advocates to defend the rioters. The fact that the VHP had a good number of advocates - both private lawyers and public prosecutors - among its ranks, made the task easy."

In district Sabarkantha, RSS had formed a body called "Sankalan" to provide legal aid to Hindu rioters. Many of the VHP's lawyers, who had their own private practices, became defence counsels for the accused, and public prosecutors who were either members of the VHP or sympathetic to the Sangh extended indirect assistance to the rioters.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/zargar260215.htm

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Is Sarva Dharma Samabhava Back? - Editorial (Feb 28, 2015, EPW)

…Modi was embarrassed by Obama on 27 January; it took him quite a while to speak about it (i e, freedom of religion), even about the Indian version of secularism in the form of sarva dharma samabhava (equal respect for all religions).

But eventually, talk he did, 12 days after Obama evoked Gandhian ideals to drive home the message. Modi's Indian critics, clearly unimpressed, asked him to now "walk the talk," which he is yet to do; unlikely, we think, because that would involve the union government taking necessary action against the likes of the president of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Pravin Togadia, indeed, even against the sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mohan Bhagwat.

With one of his pracharaks as the Prime Minister of India, Bhagwat has been counting on being given a free hand in playing his role as Raj Guru (the prince's counsellor) and in fulfilling the RSS mission of regenerating Indian society and restoring the nation's vitality. What could be better than the ghar wapsi exercises? After all, the Other, the prodigal, needs to be brought back, by any and all available means, to the ghar, the Hindu religion, and the nation, which is claimed to be that of the Hindus, but only after a shuddhi (purification) ceremony, for these Others have been defiled by Christianity and Islam, and therefore they need to be cleansed before bringing them back to the ghar in the jati (caste) quarters of their origins.…

http://www.epw.in/editorials/sarva-dharma-samabhava-back.html

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Vanzara gets bail: It's morally and ethically wrong to reinstate policemen accused of fake encounters - By MK Venu (Feb 21, 2015, First Post)

A controversy has erupted over the release on bail of former Gujarat cadre IPS officer DG Vanzara who was arrested in 2007 in connection with several fake encounter killings in that state. Vanzara came out of jail this week and claimed that "Achhe Din" had come for police officers" who had suffered in Gujarat jail for many years on charges of fake encounter killings.

Vanzara was Inspector General incharge of border areas in Gujarat when petty criminal Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausar Bi and their associate Tulsi Prajapati were killed by the police. The three were travelling by bus from Andhra Pradesh to Gujarat. The case was investigated by the CBI under Supreme Court's monitoring and a chargesheet was filed accusing Vanzara and several others, including Amit Shah, in the fake encounter case.

Amit Shah, who was then incharge of Gujarat Home Ministry, was discharged by the Mumbai High Court recently on the ground that that there was no evidence of his involvement in the killing of Sohrabuddin, his wife and Tulsi Prajapati.…

http://www.firstpost.com/india/vanzara-gets-bail-its-morally-and-ethically-wrong-to-reinstate-policemen-accused-of-fake-encounters-2113691.html

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Mera Bharat Mahan - By Pavithra S. Rangan (Mar 9, 2015, Outlook)

Mahan is a metaphor for the raging debates that India is engaged in today. As the budget session kicks off, the Narendra Modi government is resisting a huge and concerted political opposition to the land acquisition ordinance. Insisting that there is an international conspiracy to slow down India’s growth, the government recently prevented a Greenpeace activist working in Mahan from flying to London. Outlook travelled to Singrauli, the energy capital of India, to find out why some villagers are trying to save a forest with over 5,00,000 sal trees - and why the poor refuse to part with their land, rivers and forests.

It’s a Monday morning but just a dozen two-wheelers are parked outside the gate. The orange company bus has just driven in - but there are only two people in it. The Essar Power plant does not betray much sign of activity. The plant that generated electricity for close to two years, we are told, was shut down two months ago. The company claims it had invested Rs 4,500 crore in setting it up in anticipation of getting the Mahan coal block barely four kilometres away, but ran out of patience when the government failed to put up the block for auction. It was not cost-effective to generate power at the plant with coal transported from a longer distance, officials explain.

But even when the plant was generating electricity, no power was being supplied to the Nandnagar Resettlement Colony - which is the present refuge of a thousand people, mostly tribals, displaced by the plant. “The company did not give us any job either. We were only engaged for two or three months during the construction,” says Bhanu Dutt Gond, 42, who lost three acres of land to the plant. “They took away our land permanently but they wouldn’t give us permanent jobs. Our entire family used to work on the farm and sell the produce profitably. But now only one person in the house gets an unemployment allowance of Rs 7,000 a month.”…

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Mera-Bharat-Mahan/293533

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Why, to many critics, Mother Teresa is still no saint - By Adam Taylor (Feb 25, 2015, Washington Post)

Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic missionary who became an international icon for her charitable work, has been dropped into modern India's religious debate after the head of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) criticized the intentions behind her work.

"It's good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa's work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity," RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said at the opening of an orphanage in Rajasthan state on Monday, the Times of India reports. "In the name of service, religious conversions were made. This was followed by other institutes, too."

Bhagwat's comments caused a storm among opposition politicians, angered by the implication that a woman who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work in India would have had ulterior motives. Congress party official Rajiv Shukla demanded an apology while the newly elected Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, said Teresa was a "noble soul" and asked RSS to spare her.…

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/02/25/why-to-many-critics-mother-teresa-is-still-no-saint/

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Modi makeover behind leak of espionage ring? - By FJP Bureau (Feb 21, 2015, Free Press Journal)

The selective leaks about involvement of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited and arrest of one of his executives in the alleged corporate espionage ring in the Petroleum Ministry may be part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image makeover plan to shrug the charge that he tweaks the government policies to benefit only a handful of industrialist friends.

As many as nine corporate entities were said to be under the scanner as recipients of sensitive documents, including Reliance, the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, Essar and Cairns India, but the Delhi Police on Thursday evening chose to raid only the Reliance office in Connaught Place, sending a clear message to the media.

The general perception is that even a minister has to seek an appointment before he can access the prime minister's residence, but a few industrialists can walk in any time and get their work done without fuss. Modi apparently wants to change that image as he has been sounded by the RSS leadership and because he wants to negate AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal's charge that he was returning favours to Reliance for the help extended in the Lok Sabha elections.…

http://www.freepressjournal.in/modi-makeover-behind-leak-of-espionage-ring/

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