Peace, Pluralism and Justice
In this issue of IAMC News Digest
Opinions & Editorials
2002 Gujarat riots: Supreme Court for winding up proceedings within three months (Nov 13, 2014, Indian Express)
The Supreme Court on Thursday asked a trial court in Ahmedabad to wind up within three months the proceedings in Gulberg Society massacre case of 2002 Gujarat riots in which former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and 67 others were killed.
Expressing concern over the accused languishing in jail due to delay in trial, a special bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu asked the Special Investigating Team (SIT), which probed the nine riot cases, to expeditiously proceed in the case.
The bench, however, said that judgement should not be pronounced by the trial court without its permission. Former CBI Director R K Raghvan, who is heading the SIT, said that it would be difficult to wind up the proceedings within three months. The bench, thereafter, asked him to proceed expeditiously and allowed him to approach the court in case it is not completed within three months.
Lashing out at BJP and RSS, 16 Left parties on Thursday adopted a resolution against communalism and accused the Centre of trying to force "Hindutva ideologies" on the entire country. The 16 Left parties including ten constituents of the Left Front in West Bengal led by CPI-M and other Left parties like SUCI(C), CPI(ML-Liberation), CPI(ML-Santosh Rana) and PDS today organised a convention and adopted a resolution against spread of communalism in the country and the state.
"Due to communal polarisation throughout the country, a threat is looming large over secularism and democracy. BJP, after achieving majority, has sped up this communal polarisation," the adopted resolution stated.
"Bengal, which has been known as a stronghold of secularism, is too under threat of majority and minority polarisation and communalism. The misrule of Trinamool Congress due to its narrow-minded politics has provided space for communal polarisation in the state," it stated.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury on Saturday alleged that the BJP government was dividing the working class using Hindutva so that it could push its 'reforms', which would help corporate entities and foreign investors.
Inaugurating the 4th conference of the Bank Employees' Federation of India - Karnataka here, Mr. Yechury said bankers should see through the "cocktail of economic reforms and Hindutva" and stay united.
His party would raise the issue in Parliament, while workers should create awareness about it as reforms and Hindutva was "the weapon that India has created under (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi".
Months after six persons were acquitted of all charges in the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack case, the Supreme Court has now dismissed the review petition filed by the Gujarat government against the acquittal.
In an order issued on November 5, the Bench of Justices Anil R Dave and V Gopala Gowda said the court was "convinced that the order, of which review has been sought, does not suffer from any error apparent warranting its reconsideration".
The court had also said, "Instead of booking the real culprits responsible for taking so many precious lives, the police caught innocent people and got imposed the grievous charges against them."
Fact finding reports blame 'communal forces' for Trilokpuri riots; police for one-sided action (Nov 12, 2014, Twocircles.net)
Two weeks after the riots during Diwali days in East Delhi's Trilokpuri, two separate Fact Finding teams on Tuesday came out with scathing findings: one has blamed the "communal outfits" for instigating the riots while the other has blamed Delhi police for "one sided action" against Muslims.
"Communal outfits were involved in engineering riots at Trilokpuri and these communal organizations attacked with a preconceived conspiracy against minorities," the Fact Finding report by NCHRO claimed.
The second report, by a joint team of APCR, PUCL and JIH, said: "Initially, police was very casual which lead the violence to go on and later, when the police did become active, it took one sided action against the Muslim community."
Justice MP Saxena Commission report on the Moradabad riots of August 13, 1980 has not been tabled in the Uttar Pradesh assembly 34 years after the incident. Victims of the violence, which occurred on the eve of Eid that year, at the Eidgah, left 284 people dead. The violence occurred as Muslims in the area clashed with personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary. Not a single prosecution has occurred so far.
ADM City DP Singh was killed in the violence, while superintendent of police Vijay Nath Singh was injured. Relatives of the dead - whether securitymen or Muslims - have demanded compensation for their loss from the government, to no avail. Many victims blame the Congress government in the state at the time, which had VP Singh at the helm, as chief minister.
The carnage occurred two days before the celebration of Independence Day in 1980. A large crowd had gathered at Eidgah in the morning of August 13. During the prayers, some minority community leaders say, pigs were led into the Eidgah by some miscreants. Many Muslims in the area with a memory of that violence still hold that the presence of pigs set off the spiral of violence.
2010 Machil fake encounter case: Army convicts 7 personnel, including commanding officer (Nov 13, 2014, Times of India)
Army has handed life sentence to seven of its personnel, including two officers, in connection with the Machil fake encounter killing of three youths in Jammu & Kashmir in 2010, chief minister Omar Abdullah has said.
"The Army has handed out life sentences to seven inc(luding) the Commanding officer in the Machil fake encounter case of 2010. This is indeed a very welcome step," Omar said in a tweet on Thursday.
Hailing the verdict of the general court martial, Omar tweeted, "This is a watershed moment. No one in Kashmir ever believed that justice would be done in such cases. Faith in institutions disappeared.
200 hurt as hell breaks loose; 'godman' Rampal supporters attack cops (Nov 18, 2014, Hindustan Times)
After days of tense standoff, bloody clashes involving gunfire erupted between self-styled godman Rampal's supporters and the police when they tried to arrest him in Haryana on Tuesday, leaving over 200 people including security and media personnel injured. Rampal's supporters reportedly opened fire on police personnel who arrived to arrest him from his ashram at Barwala in Hisar, about 164 km northwest of New Delhi. Shots were heard near Rampal's Satlok Ashram.
As the area turned into a battlefield, the police halted the operation in the evening, but said they were determined to arrest the self-styled godman and there was "time limit for the operation". The police have so far failed to produce the controversial godman in court in connection with a contempt of court case. Rampal is on bail in another case in connection with the killing of a man in firing from his ashram in Rohtak in 2006.
"Rampal supporters attacked us with lathis, acid pouches and petrol bombs," Haryana director general of police (DGP) SN Vashisht said. "We initially practiced restraint as we didn't want innocent people to get injured." Tension mounted earlier in the day as supporters of Rampal refused to heed to repeated announcements by the police over loud speakers to allow them to enter the premises in order to arrest him. "Some people from inside the ashram said that they were being forced to stay inside," Vashisht said.
Someshekar Shivacharya Swami, who is alleged to have sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl at his Kambaleshwar Math in Chitapur town in Kalaburagi district, was arrested on Monday by the police on the outskirts of Jewargi town from a car in which he was proceeding towards Vijayapura.
A special police team, which arrested the swami, brought him to Kalaburagi and subjected him to medical test before producing in a special court dealing with crime against women and children. The swami was remanded in judicial custody till November 29.
The police have filed cases under different sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Meanwhile, the girl, who was in the government general hospital here for medical check-up, was brought to the special court where a magistrate recorded her statement in camera . The girl, who was working as a help in the Kambaleshwar Math, was sexually assaulted allegedly by the swami on October 30.
Caste prejudice in Gujarat? Report finds over 30 per cent of state's prisoners are Dalits (Nov 14, 2014, Daily Mail)
Around 32.9 per cent of all convicts and 23.4 per cent of under-trials in Gujarat's prisons are Dalits, a community that forms just about 6.7 per cent of the state's overall population.
The statistics are part of a recently released National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report titled 'Prison Statistics India 2013', which relates to different aspects of prisons and prison inmates in Indian jails.
The data suggests that the proportion of Dalits among Gujarat's convicts is nearly 4.9 times higher than their share in the state's population, with its under-trial numbers up to 3.5 times higher.
Opinions and Editorials
How the Sangh Parivar systematically attacks the very idea of India - By Anand Patwardhan (Nov 13, 2014, Scroll.in)
Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He was also in the Hindu Mahasabha like his mentor VD Savarkar. Nathuram's brother, Gopal Godse, was a co-conspirator in the case. After serving his prison term, Gopal conceded in interviews that neither he nor Nathuram had ever left the RSS but told lies in court to protect the RSS as well as Savarkar.
The population of Muslims has marginally increased since Independence to the present 13.4 % but the cause is not conversion or "love jihad" or because Muslim men are allowed four wives, as Hindutva forces would like us to believe. The fact is that the Muslim by every conceivable yardstick is impoverished. The Sachar Committee report makes it clear that Muslims in India are less educated, poorer and fewer of them can be found in the national and state legislatures and in the bureaucracy, leave alone in the military and paramilitary. With the BJP occupying the centre and many states, Muslims in government have become even more scarce.
The routine demonisation of the Muslim remains the very raison d'etre of Hindutva. Historic myths of their cruelty, of temple destruction and rape are part of a steady diet fed since childhood. The Muslim's allegiance to a foreign god and foreign holy shrine and the barbaric practice of eating beef is a source of unmitigated rage in the hearts of those indoctrinated by Hindutva. Onto this tinderbox, if you throw a match by starting a rumour that a Muslim male has abducted or raped a Hindu female, no one will wait to ascertain if the rumour is true. Deadly pogroms are that easy to ignite.
It's unsettling, if not astounding, the speed with which new scientific discoveries, or rather ancient scientific discoveries, are coming to light. Some months ago, thanks to one Dina Nath Batra, we learnt that Rama was the first to fly in an aeroplane. And our BC (as in Before Christ) ancestors were familiar with stem cell research. But that was nothing compared to what our august prime minister revealed while inaugurating perhaps the subcontinent's most advanced medical facility in Mumbai. Imagine, all these years, along with billions of people, I too believed that the first and last virgin birth was the monopoly of the Catholic faith.
But thanks to our new intrepid Hindutva archaeologists, we now learn that Karna was the result of artificial insemination, and thus a case of a virgin birth long before the Angel whispered the Annunciation in Mary's ear. I need hardly add that the prime minister's teacher in this matter seems to be Batra, whose works have been made standard supplementary reading in all schools in Gujarat. It is a wonderful irony that Batra's organisation is called Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti. Indeed, if this is what we mean by saving learning and education, then the country, and especially the younger generation, is in dire trouble.&hellip
There's something intriguing, if not bizarre, happening in our country. What terrible malaise has put our intelligentsia into a comatose state? Has the impact of the coming of Modiji and his song of development made even the most sensible people insensible to the damage being done to the fabric of our education system? Aren't their horizons too shrinking with the mythification of science? Aren't their children going to suffer enormously because their parents refused to stand up for their rights and for the truth?
On May 28, 1964, I was a 10-year-old carried across by waves of mourners in Delhi, from the ramparts of Red Fort towards the Yamuna, to see flames rising from the funeral pyre of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Twenty years later, I was again a part of several processions for peace near my home in Jangpura Extension, this time fearfully watching flames leap out of shops and homes belonging to Sikhs, which had been singled out and become the target of arson in the aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In those 20 years, the idea of India, embodying diversity and democracy, tolerance and self-confidence, had given way to a closing of the Indian mind and an upsurge of xenophobia. The "foreign hand" phobia was particularly strong during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's many years in office, especially during the internal state of Emergency.
In June this year, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report accused some "foreign-funded" non-governmental organisations, including Greenpeace, of "serving as tools for foreign policy interests of western governments," by sponsoring agitations against nuclear and coal-fired power plants across the country. Their actions, according to the IB, had a negative impact on India's GDP growth!
The death of Nehru signalled an end to an era of open-mindedness. The Planning Commission's collaborative project with the MIT Center for International Studies ended in 1964. Sukhamoy Chakravarty, Kirit Parikh, Henri Lefebvre, Richard Eckhaus, Alan Mann, all scholars of impeachable integrity, came under the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) cloud. This was the moment when the Planning Commission became fearful of foreigners. It remains to be seen if India will ever recover a Nehruvian self-confidence and recreate an institution which in its heyday brimmed with brilliant ideas.
In the aftermath of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, the liberal intelligentsia of the city had made fairly successful attempts to prevent communal tensions. Over the past two years, however, Delhi, like other parts of north India, witnessed small incidents of communal tension. These went largely unreported, and the tension petered out after the initial provocations because of interventions by secular-minded individuals from all communities.
When Trilokpuri erupted on Deepavali, many were not surprised. Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pitched Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate two years ago, there has been a regular stream of reports of the Sangh Parivar inciting religious sentiments among Hindus and directing these against Muslims. However, that such frequent incidents of communal violence would occur in Delhi immediately after the BJP captured power came as a surprise for many who had thought of Modi as a non-dogmatic Hindutva leader.
The tried and tested formula of polarising votes in the name of religion or caste overcomes organisational and leadership failures. Polarisation of the Valmikis in favour of the BJP could yield good results for the party not just in Trilokpuri but in all of Delhi. However, the divisions such electoral tactics create will mark a permanent dent in Indias multicultural social fabric.
Minorities at the Crossroads: Comments on Judicial Pronouncements - By F S Nariman (Nov 15, 2014, EPW)
The elections in April-May 2014 have put a strong majoritarian government in power at the centre. While I welcome a single-party majority government, I also fear it. I fear it because of past experience with majoritarian governments in the 1960s and 1970s. The Congress government unjustifiably imposed an internal Emergency in June 1975 and rode roughshod over the liberties of citizens.
Traditionally, Hinduism has been the most tolerant of all Indian faiths. But recurrent instances of religious tension fanned by fanaticism and hate speech have shown that the Hindu tradition of tolerance is showing signs of strain. Frankly - my apprehension is that Hinduism is somehow changing its benign face because it is believed and proudly proclaimed by a few (and not contradicted by those at the top) that it is their faith and belief that has put "Hindus" in the driving seat of governance.
And after the BJP included its resolve to amend Article 30 in its election manifesto for the general elections of May-June 1991, "minority rights" have been less protected by courts (including the Supreme Court) than they were before. A large number of judges of the Supreme Court today no longer pay much attention to what Chief Justice Das said at the end of his judgment in the Kerala Education Bill case.
Is India's sterilisation programme barbaric and anti-women? - By Deborah Doane (Nov 12, 2014, The Guardian)
The terrible tragedy of the deaths of women undergoing sterilisation in India's Chhattisgarh state should inspire anger about the much larger issue of the anti-women and barbaric nature of controlling population in the country.
Local and international media reported it as a result of poor hygiene and the use of out of date medicines. Few referred to the fact that sterilisation is the blunt instrument used on women, either by coercion or by alleged choice (encouraged through 'incentives' - in this case, a meagre 1,400 rupees - about £14) or that it has been used as a form of bio-political control for many years in India. Indira Gandhi's government famously imposed sterilisation on about 10 million people in the 70s - mainly men - for which there was eventually severe backlash. After that, the focus switched to sterilising women.
Now, sterilisation of women and even full hysterectomies are the birth control tactic most practiced in India. I visited a rural clinic recently and asked about birth control offerings and the doctors proudly stated that many women come there for sterilisation.
Reviewed by: Pradyot Lal
Available at: Penguin Books India, 7th Floor, Infinity Tower C, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon 122002, Haryana, India, 356 pp; Rs 599. http://www.amazon.in/
Modi Above All Else (Nov 22, 2014, Tehelka)
From paternalistic governance to an undisguised personality cult, Indian politics has had a huge paradigm shift. The anointment of the 'Supreme Leader' has been swift and dramatic, and not everybody has been comfortable with the sheer ease with which the transition has taken place. This has to be internalised in depth rather than accepted uncritically, and to Rajdeep Sardesai's credit, he has tried to do so in 2014: The Election That Changed India. What follows is a racy narrative that goes beyond recording immediate political history to also reflect on what ails India's woefully shallow electronic and print media. The story traces the rise of Narendra Modi and the decline of the Congress in graphic terms.
"Like a true Gujarati, he calculates the cost and benefit of each move," writes Sardesai, who paints an unflattering portrait of Modi's governance during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The author believes that the Gujarat government under Modi was "utterly incompetent because it was aware that the Godhra violence could set off a cycle of vengeance and yet did not do enough to stop it". Modi is shown as having been governed by the communal-fascist street logic of the Praveen Togadias, whom he could not rein in.
Sardesai mentions a chilling incident soon after the riots when things appeared to be back to normal. One night, he was returning after recording an interview with Modi, when, not far from the CM's house, his car was stopped by a mob that wanted all occupants to drop their trousers to check if there were Muslims among them. Sardesai's parents had got him circumcised in childhood for hygiene's sake and the driver, too, was Muslim. This was trouble. When entreaties didn't work, Sardesai flashed his press card and showed the mob the interview he had just recorded. Only then did they let them pass.