Peace, Pluralism and Justice
In this issue of IAMC News Digest
Opinions & Editorials
Two Muslim villagers in Rajasthan's Kota did not till their land this Rabi season to facilitate Hindu community to hold a 228-year-old fair on their farmland, setting an example of communal harmony against the backdrop of growing religious intolerance in the country.
Abdul Hameed (60) set aside 18 bighas of his farmland while 55-year-old Sabir Khan kept free 2.5 bighas for the fair which commenced on January 28 at the district's Kherabad town.… Mohanlal Chaudharya said the organising committee took land from many residents on rent ranging between Rs 3,000 and 6,000 per bigha. But Hameed and Khan gave their land for free, he added.
Hameed said he incurred a loss by not cultivating his land this season but he has no regrets. "I've also promised to provide a 5,000-litre water tanker free of cost," he said. This village is upholding the spirit of unity in diversity at a time when religious unrest is rising in the country, said a grateful pilgrim.Back to Top]
RBI's refusal to reveal info on demonetisation is 'blatant subversion of the law' (Jan 3, 2017, Hindustan Times)
Responding to a right to information query, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has refused to give information about whether the finance minister and chief economic advisor were consulted before the demonetisation decision was taken. They have claimed that this amounts to seeking an opinion. As per the Right to Information (RTI) law, information certainly covers any record that exists. In this case if there was a record of such consultation, it should have been provided. If there was no such record, this should have been stated. This query certainly did not require the Public Information Officer (PIO) to give his opinion.
Information regarding the names and designations of officers who were consulted in the decision has also been refused claiming that giving this information would 'would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State'. It was also claimed that this 'would endanger the life or physical safety' of such persons.
The RTI Act has ten exemptions for information which can be refused. However, the law requires that reasons must be given when denying a citizen her fundamental right. The Reserve Bank's PIO has not given any reasoning behind how the interests of India would be affected if the names of officers who were consulted were revealed. It is also very fanciful to claim that revealing the names of officers would endanger their physical safety.…
Three CPM activists were hacked allegedly by RSS workers at Varapara near Panoor in Thalassery on Sunday morning, in a clear indication that the rivalry between the saffron brigade and the communists are spilling over to the new year in Kannur, the hotbed of political rivalry between BJP and the CPM.
According to police, the victims Rajilesh (29), son of Babu, Ashwanth (26) son of Balan and Athul (26), son of Chathuti - all hailing from Varapara - were hacked by a gang of five RSS activists in Varapara at about 3.30 AM. The three have suffered severe injuries.
The incident began after altercations over political graffiti on the road while celebrating the new year. All were in an inebriated condition when a scuffle ensued between the two groups, police said. The arguments ended up in a fight and the gang attacked the victims with sharp weapons.…
The Supreme Court verdict on the misuse of religion and caste by political parties has sent ripples among the political parties in poll-bound Punjab, where sacrilege is an issue, and radical Panthic outfits have also decided to field candidates. While the Congress called the judgment a blow to the ruling party, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the latter sought to downplay it by saying they had never used religion to seek votes.
Referring to the SC verdict that politicians can't use religion, caste, creed or language for seeking votes, state Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh said the order has far reaching implications for Punjab where the Akalis have always misused religion to seek votes. He said even today, Akali leaders were taking people to gurdwaras and making them swear their support to the SAD.
Amarinder alleged that many Akali leaders were holding 'ardaas' outside gurdwaras to influence people to cast their vote on basis of their religion. He also accused the Akalis of misusing the Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for electoral purposes.…
Chhattisgarh arrest of fact-finding team: Top activists Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, others seek NHRC intervention (Jan 1, 2017, Counterview)
Prominent activists from across India have asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to urgently intervene and take steps against those responsible for the manner of arrest of the seven member Fact Finding Team seeking to visit Bastar region of Chhattisgarh in Telangana on December 25, 2016, calling the act a "serious constitutional, legal and human rights violation." In a signed letter to the NHRC chairman, 45 activists have said this was done in the garb of "combating 'Maoism'," and is part of the state unleashing an "unprecedented spree of threats, violence, false cases, arbitrary arrests, detentions, dubious encounters, rapes, sexual assault etc." in Bastar area of Chhattisgarh.
Those who have signed the statement include Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey of the the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan (Odisha), and Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).…
Malegaon blast: Ex-cop claims 'missing' accused were killed by ATS 8 yrs ago (Dec 30, 2016, Hindustan Times)
A former officer of Maharashtra's anti-terrorism squad has claimed that two key accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case were not missing but had, in fact, been killed by the ATS on November 26, 2008. Talking to HT, suspended Police Inspector Mehboob Mujawar claimed Ramchandra Kalsangre and Sandeep Dange, who are currently shown as wanted, were killed by ATS officials and said he had filed an application and submitted evidence before the chief judicial magistrate's court in Solapur on August 19, 2016. The matter came to light on Thursday after Mujawar gave an interview to the TV channel Times Now.
An improvised explosive device (IED) hidden in a motorcycle had gone off on September 29, 2008, in Malegaon town killing six people and injuring 101. The ATS had arrested several people including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, and Lt Col Prasad Srikant Purohit in this connection and filed a charge sheet against 14 people, including Kalsangre and Dange, who are listed as wanted.
Mujawar alleged that three senior officials of the Maharashtra police - two retired DGs and one high ranking serving IPS official - tried to suppress information about the killings. (HT is not naming them as there is no evidence to corroborate Mujawar's claims in this regard.)…
Students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) took out a protest march on Monday against what they termed as a "brutal attack" on them by police during their rail blockade programme on December 31. Raising slogans against UP police and carrying placards "AMU stands against injustice" and "UP police murdabad", the students submitted a memorandum to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, through the local administration demanding action against the police personnel.
Talking to TOI, Nabeel Usmani, secretary of AMU, said we were proceeding towards the railway platform peacefully to protest against the failure of the police in tracing missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmad, when police resorted to unprovoked lathicharge, leaving several students injured.
Dubbing the police action as "unjustified and undemocratic", Usmani said such treatment is not acceptable. He said the AMU students' union expects the chief minister to initiate action against the guilty police personnel. The students' union also demanded that the CM direct the police and the administration to behave.…
Six cops try to hush up death of vendor in custody at Adarsh Nagar police station, suspended (Jan 1, 2016, Hindustan Times)
A 24-year-old fruit seller was killed after falling down from the terrace of the Adarsh Nagar police station in an apparent case of custodial death last week. Shockingly, the station house officer (SHO) and five other policemen later allegedly tried to hush-up the crime by dumping the man’s body elsewhere and destroying evidence, which included cleaning the blood from the crime scene. They also allegedly manipulated other records at the police station related to the fruit seller’s detention under preventive measures, police sources said.
Even as the police personnel in question tried their best to keep the incident under wraps, it was a whistleblower from the police station that alerted the assistant commission of police (ACP) of Model Town police sub-division. The ACP communicated the matter to DCP (northwest) Milind Dumbre and other senior officers in the Delhi Police headquarters.
An internal enquiry confirmed the involvement of the six police personnel, who were then placed under suspension and sent to district police lines till further orders. "The six have been booked under sections of culpable homicide (304 IPC), wrongful confinement (342 IPC), destruction of evidences (201 IPC) and common intention (34 IPC). The FIR was registered at the Adarsh Nagar police station," said Dependra Pathak, Delhi Police spokesperson.…
Petition floated to halt construction of Rs 3600 crore Shivaji statue in the Arabian Sea (Dec 26, 2016, Twocircles.net)
Amid the tussle between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena (SS) in claiming the credit for erecting the 690 feet high statue of Maratha warrior Shivaji in the Arabian Sea, a petition has been floated by the citizens in an attempt to halt the project.
The petition is directed towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. "This is taxpayers' money and I am sure we would all like this money to be spend on something better - education, infrastructure, food…anything but a statue that is of no use to anyone", the petition reads.
The petition, which has so far been signed by over 35,000 people, also states, "This is not what Shivaji would have wanted and I am sure we can find other ways to honour him. Apart from a waste of money, this statue is going to be terrible for the environment; for the traffic situation in South Bombay and a security nightmare."…
A person who reportedly tried to rape a fourth standard girl student, was arrested by the police personnel of Dharmasthala station on Tuesday December 27. The accused has been identified as Umesh (25), an auto rickshaw driver. Reportedly, the girl was alone with her younger sister at home, when the accused tried to rape her. The incident is said to have occurred on December 24.…
The Dharmasthala police have booked the accused under different provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Reportedly, efforts are on to save Umesh, a close associate of Bajrang Dal leader from Dharmasthala, Bhaskar, from getting punished for this offence. Bajrang Dal activists are stated to be making efforts to dissuade the complainants from pursuing the case.
As per information, the complaint was made on December 24 itself, but under pressure from interested quarters, Dharmasthala police were trying to bail out the accused. However, deputy superintendent of police (DySP), Ravish C R, who came to know about this development, visited Dharmasthala police station, took to task the police for their lapse and instructed them to file the case, it is said.…
Gujarat: Dalit man, pregnant wife thrashed for resisting cattle grazing at farm (Dec 28, 2016, Hindustan Times)
A Dalit man and his pregnant wife were allegedly beaten up by members of another community at Ugala village in Gir Somnath district for preventing them from grazing their cattle in a farm where the couple had been working as labourers, police said on Tuesday. Babubhai Sankhat (35) and his six-month pregnant wife Rekhaben (30) were allegedly attacked on December 25.
"Babubhai and Rekhaben were hired by the farm owner to work in the cotton field at Ugala village. On December 25, they had an altercation with some members of a community who wanted to take their cattle in the field for grazing," investigating officer and deputy superintendent of police, SC/ST Cell, PS Valvi said.
He said the couple was beaten up with sticks after they objected to cattle grazing, saying it would damage standing crop in the farm.…
Opinions and Editorials
This speech after note ban? PM must be made to pay for a cruel joke on people - By Prasenjit Bose (Jan 1, 2017, Hindustan Times)
The Prime Minister's speech was high on homilies and bluster, low on substance. It has failed to provide any relevant fact or data on the demonetisation exercise.
How much of the proscribed currency notes returned to the banking system by December 30? How much 'black money' and fake currency were unearthed since November 8? How many illicit cash hoarders and terrorists were caught? What gain has accrued to the exchequer and what have been the fiscal costs of the note ban? By when would the supply of new currency notes normalise and the limits on cash withdrawal removed? These questions remain unanswered.
The PM is silent on these because the answers will expose the entire demonetisation exercise as a policy fiasco, which has yielded peanuts in terms of recovered black money while inflicting heavy economic pain on the people through a policy-induced recession. The continuance of cash withdrawal limits implies that the government and RBI are nowhere close to restoring normalcy in cash availability.…
The November 8 decision to withdraw currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 has turned into a full-fledged political battle which will run on and attract headlines well into the new year. But while the blame for the mismanagement that has followed the withdrawal of 86 per cent of currency has been placed largely at New Delhi’s doors, it is important not to overlook the role of the one institution that is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of managing the currency of the nation - the Reserve Bank of India.
There are those who argue that the RBI had little to do once the political decision was taken. But that would be undermining, underestimating and even dismissing the huge role that the RBI has to play and indeed should have played in managing this situation.…
In sum, there is no dispute that this is the one institution that could have raised an early red flag and advised the Centre better. Though we cannot be sure, there are no indications so far that this was done. While the political institutions will feel the heat of public reaction (or reap the benefits, depending on how you read the situation), the public anger directed at the banks in general and the RBI in particular is no less.…
SC Verdict On Separating Religion And Caste From Politics Is Sadly Unrealistic - By Sandip Roy (Jan 3, 2017, Huffington Post)
"No politician can seek votes in the name of caste, creed or religion," says the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court surely means well but good luck getting religion out of politics. The 4-3 decision is meant to drive home the message that religion, race, caste, community have no place in the electoral process. A candidate cannot seek votes on the basis of that, whether it's his or her own religion/community or the voters'. That will amount to a "corrupt practice".…
Therein lies the problem. Are elections truly secular? Our secularism is not about the absence of religion but the equal and non-preferential treatment of all religions. It's not irreligion but a multitude of religions.…
"The term "sarva dharma sambhava (respect for all religions)" is a far more meaningful formulation for us." Religion, caste, community, creed, language are so intertwined in our daily lives that it's unrealistic to expect politics to be free of them.…
People must force Narendra Modi to provide a jumla-free sarkar in 2017 - By Ujjal Dosanjh (Dec 30, 2016, Indian Express)
For Indians 2017 must be the year of rebellion – of the peaceful variety. There is nothing wrong with revolting against bad government. It is not sedition against the country. Indians must rise up in peaceful revolt and protest to ensure that their country's government works for their collective dream of a better and fairer India of more jobs, good public healthcare, better education and less corruption. They must stand up in peaceful protests and tell the increasingly deaf government in Delhi they can't eat statues, no matter how tall they are.
Domestically and internationally, the Modi government is stumbling from one blunder to another. The devastating demonetisation was rung in on November 8th, completely out of the blue. Even the Reserve Bank of India, the guarantor and regulator of the Indian currency learnt only three hours before Modi threw the demonetisation grenade on the bumbling RBI and the unsuspecting public. Ever since that shock, millions of people have been queuing up at the banks and the ATMs everyday; despite the government's promises to the contrary the end of queues seems not in sight.…
Under these terrible circumstances, the Indians revolting in 2017, rising up in vigorous and peaceful protests in the country, to chart a new course for India is the greatest gift they could give to themselves and the country. In that spirit of legitimate, rebellious and peaceful protest, my wish for India in 2017 is that they rise in humungous protests to force Modi to provide a gimmick and Jumla-free government for India; a government that unites not divides along regional, religious or caste lines; a government that builds schools, colleges, hospitals, sewage facilities, universities and research facilities –not lifeless statues to hoodwink Indians into believing something useful is being done when in fact nothing is.…
Nearly 600 people died in police custody in India between 2010 and 2015, yet not one police official was convicted during this period. A report released by Human Rights Watch last week examines 17 cases in which families have sought accountability. Their stories reveal, in searing detail, why there have been so many deaths, starting with police contempt for proper procedures, a cavalier attitude toward the torture of detainees and near total impunity for wrongful deaths.
India's National Human Rights Commission and courts have laid down detailed procedures for how police officers should handle arrests, including identifying themselves at the time of arrest, recording the date and time of arrest and informing next of kin. Police rules require a medical examination upon arrest to establish existing injuries so that any injuries from torture can be documented, and for every person taken into custody to appear before a magistrate within 24 hours. When custodial deaths occur, the police need to file a First Information Report and initiate an investigation, and an autopsy is to be performed and filmed.
These procedures are too often ignored: In nearly 70 percent of deaths in police custody in India in 2015, the victim had not seen a magistrate within the mandatory 24-hour period or had died within 24 hours. Enforcing existing laws and procedures would help. But independent investigations into custodial deaths are also needed. The police effectively investigate themselves now. Families seeking justice for wrongful deaths need protection, and police officers must know they will face prosecution and punishment for torture and wrongful deaths.…
Eleven years after Irshad Ali was accused of terrorism by the Delhi Police, and jailed, he has returned home, finally acquitted of all charges. Those years cannot be returned to him, but justice still can - and for India's criminal justice system, this case ought to bring a moment of reckoning. For eight years, at least, the criminal justice system itself has had reasons for serious doubt about the charges brought by Delhi Police, against Ali and his co-accused, Mourif Qamar.
In 2008, the Central Bureau of Investigation concluded that Ali and Qamar were in fact informers for the Special Cell and Intelligence Bureau, who had been framed by its officials. Litigation led by Delhi Police saw the CBI report contested all the way up to the Supreme Court. In the end, the CBI report, which also recommended the prosecution of officials allegedly responsible for framing Ali and Qamar, was filed in a Delhi Court along with the Delhi Police charges.…
From Malegaon to the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, the evidence shows that the rule of law has been swept aside by a state of chronic and criminal injustice. Inaction insults the republic, and each citizen.