Peace, Pluralism and Justice
In this issue of IAMC News Digest
Opinions & Editorials
Midway through 2013, Narendra Modi was still the Gujarat chief minister, preparing for a final assault in his campaign to become prime minister. Just then, the House National Security Subcommittee on International religious Freedom Act of the US Congress held a hearing on June 13, 2013, where it was informed that a considerable cloud hanged over Modi's conduct during 2002 Gujarat riots.
This was stated by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) commissioner Katrina Lantos Swett. Effectively, the commission that was responsible for denying Modi a US visa for nearly 10 years was refusing to let Modi off the hook despite his growing popularity both in India and among NRIs in the US. This could well be one of the reasons why the NDA government refused visa to the Commission panel in 2016. However the annual report 2016 on religious freedom by the Commission giving some strong observations on India has held that India is on a negative trajectory in terms of religious freedom.
Documents released two months back by US Department of State have revealed that during the hearing on June 13, 2013, USCFIR Commissioner Katrina Lantos Swett told the House National Security Subcommittee that a considerable cloud hanged over his conduct during 2002 Gujarat riots.…
A day after PM Narendra Modi's whirlwind campaign in the state, CPM politburo member M A Baby on Monday reminded him of his role in Gujarat and the post Babri Masjid riots. In a detailed Facebook post, Mr Baby said: "Everyone should respect the Indian Prime minister. But when Narendra Modi speaks like an RSS pracharak then certain issues cannot be forgotten."
He spoke in detail about two issues; Babri Masjid and Gujarat riots. "In the post Babri Masjid demolition phase in December 1992, more than 2000 people died across the country. The mass murders were planned. As RSS general secretary you were the chief karyadashi of the Rath Yathra which finally led to the demolition of Babri Masjid. Aren't your hands stained with the blood of people who died in the post Advani Rath yatra and other communal riots?" …
"Modi who was the first RSS pracharak to become the Chief Minister in 2001, flew to Godhara. You issued orders that bodies be taken to Ahmadabad. Within hours the communal riot broke out and more than 3000 people died. Lakhs of Muslims were thrown out of their houses and jobs. Muslims women were raped and killed. The lynch mobs went with list printout Muslims and their localities. The police openly sided with the rioters," he said. "Your MLAs and Ministers were involved in the riots. One of your ministers Maya Kodnani is in jail for mass murders." "Can you wash off the blood stains of that riots Mr Modi? You have not expressed regret till date about these mass murders," Mr Baby asked.
Jawaharlal Nehru Removed From Class VIII Textbook In Rajasthan: Report (May 8, 2016, Huffington Post)
Students of Class VIII in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Rajasthan will no longer learn that Jawaharlal Nehru was India's first Prime Minister, and they won't be taught that Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
The Indian Express reported today that neither Nehru nor Godse find mention in the Social Studies textbook for Class VIII in Rajasthan after some "curriculum re-structuring" by the State Institute of Education Research and Training based in Udaipur.
Bolstered by the BJP ascent to the Centre in May, 2014, the state government in Rajasthan, which came to power in December 2013, has been altering the school syllabus to bring it in line with the party's Hindutva ideology, and to undo what they believe has been Congress Party's monopoly over India's modern history in which members of the Nehru-Gandhi family are excessively glorified.…
Gujarat accounts for over a third of the total Muslim detainees in the country, Union home ministry figures show. Of the country's 658 Muslim detainees, 240 are in PM Narendra Modi's home state. Tamil Nadu is a close second with 220. India has 82,190 Muslims in its jails and police custody. These include 21,550 convicts, 59,550 undertrials in prisons and 658 in lock-ups.
The state has 58.6 lakh Muslims who account for 9.7% of 6 crore Gujaratis. The number of Muslim detainees is disproportionate to the state's share in the country's Muslim population. Gujarat is home to 3.4% of India's 17.2-crore Muslim population. Yet the state accounts for 36.5% of total Muslims detainees. Like Gujarat, the number of Muslim detainees in Tamil Nadu is also disproportionate to that state's share in India's Muslim population, which stands at just 2.5%.
Gujarat has 846 convicts - 3.9% of Muslims convicted. For undertrials, this figure stands at 1,724 or 2.9% of Muslim undertrials. Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of Muslims behind bars - including 5,040 convicts and 17,858 undertrials - has just 45 detainees. The state accounts for 22.4% of India's Muslim population.…
Ishrat Jahan encounter: Gujarat HC wants govt's reply on PIL challenging Pandey's appointment (May 4, 2016, Indian Express)
The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the public prosecutor to take instructions from the state government on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging appointment of DGP PP Pandey, a key accused in Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, as in charge police chief recently.
The petition has been filed by former Gujarat DGP Julio Ribeiro through lawyer Rahul Sharma. During a brief hearing senior counsel IH Syed narrated how Pandey was charge sheeted by CBI in 2013 in Ishrat Jahan case along with six other Gujarat police officers.
Syed also told the decision bench led by chief justice R Subhash Reddy that during the course of CBI investigation Pandey was also declared proclaimed offender.…
Sleuths colluded with Hindu terrorists, Muslims nabbed deliberately: Ex IG Maharashtra Police (May 8, 2016, Ummid.com)
Former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Maharashtra SM Mushrif on Friday while demanding that the erring officers should be booked immediately alleged that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officers were working in collusion with the Hindu terrorists since 2005.
He also alleged that in order to protect the Hindu terrorists responsible for about 25 blasts, police deliberately arrested innocent Muslim youths and gave a different color to these terror attacks.
"The blasts that took place between 2001 to 2008 were part of a well planned conspiracy. The IB and ATS officers were not only aware of this plan but they were hand in glove with the Hindu terrorists", the former top cop said while addressing a public meeting in Malegaon on Friday.…
Days after Delhi police 'bust Jihadist cell' 4 of 10 detained released due to lack of evidence (May 7, 2016, Indian Express)
Four of the 10 persons detained for their alleged links with an "Islamic State-inspired jihadist cell", which Delhi Police claimed to have busted earlier this week, were released Saturday after being questioned for over 72 hours.
The four, including a 17-year-old boy, were released after police failed to get concrete evidence against them, said sources.
Late on Tuesday, police had picked up 13 men from their homes in east Delhi's Chand Bagh area and Loni in Ghaziabad, and arrested three of them - Sajid, Sameer and Shakir. In an official statement after the arrests, Delhi Police had said, "suspects/ probable sympathisers of the terrorist group have been rounded up and are being questioned".…
ABVP derides 'anti-nationalism' in JU, threatens to chop Leftists' legs (May 9, 2016, Business Standard)
Deriding left-leaning students for turning Jadavpur University into a "hub of anti-national activities", the RSS students' wing ABVP on Monday took out a protest rally outside the varsity. Addressing the rally, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishads' (ABVP) West Bengal secretary Subir Halder threatened to "chop off" the legs of Leftist students.
"The leftists have turned the university into a den of anti-national activities. We will not allow these antinational activities here. These Leftists, if they dare to venture out of the university, we will chop off their legs," he said.
Carrying the Indian tricolour and shouting slogans, ABVP and BJP activists took out the rally from Gol Park till the Jadavpur police station. Halder also said the ABVP will be staging protest rallies across the state against "growing antinationalism in educational institutions".…
Maharashtra beef law's victims: Mostly transporters, and mostly Muslim (May 8, 2016, Indian Express)
Upholding the Maharashtra government's ban on slaughter for beef in the state, the Bombay High Court on Friday allowed consumption of beef imported from other states. But in the more than one year of implementing the law banning slaughter, sale and possession of cows, bulls and bullocks and their progeny in the state, it is mainly transporters of meat who have been prosecuted. Investigation in most cases are stymied by delayed forensic reports and flagging interest from complainants.
The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act was effected by the BJP-led state government on March 4, 2015. Under the law, anyone found selling beef or possessing it could be jailed up to five years, besides being fined. An analysis of 100 FIRs filed in 2015 under the new law throws up several common links.
Almost all FIRs bear the same narrative - a Hindu activist stumbles upon 'confidential information' of beef or animals being transported, police are alerted, the vehicle tracked, the cattle or the meat recovered and a case slapped against the driver and cleaner of the vehicle. In almost all cases, the transporters are Muslim men. The source of the meat/animals and the end recipients are seldom mentioned.…
A video posted by a Canadian-Punjabi woman has gone viral, in which she claims she was raped by a religious sect head during her visit to her ancestral home in Moga.
Posted on video-sharing website Dailymotion on May 9, the video lasts a minute and 34 seconds. The woman, who currently resides in Canada, begins by introducing herself and explains she belongs to Chuhad Chak village under Moga Tehsil in Punjab. She also claims to be the granddaughter of a popular businessman in the district.…
Moga Senior Superintendent of Police Harjit Singh Pannu told India Today that the woman first called the women's helpline (181) on May 4, saying her cousin and uncle were not releasing her share in the property. The same day she recorded her statement with Moga police and added that she was raped by Baba Gurjant Singh Dhillon - chief of Dera Balewal.&hellip
Opinions and Editorials
Nearly a month after their original statements in the Malegaon 2008 blasts case were reported 'missing' from the special NIA court, two witnesses tendered fresh statements before the court and they are completely contrary to what they said earlier.
While their earlier statements, recorded in late 2008 and early 2009 before two different magistrates in Mumbai, incriminated various accused in the case, the fresh statements virtually give the accused a clean chit. These accused are Dayanand Pandey alias Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Swami Amritanand Devtirth, Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit, Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Sameer Kulkarni and Pragya Singh Thakur.
The recent statements have been recorded before magistrates in New Delhi. Just as the originals, these statements are also admissible in court as evidence. Mirror is in possession of both sets of statements. In the earlier statement, one of the witnesses claimed he had heard conversations between the accused at two meetings: one at a temple in Faridabad in January 2008; the other - the main one to hatch the conspiracy - in Bhopal in April the same year. This statement conveyed a detailed account of what was discussed at the meets.…
In recent times, there has been so much of discussions against the agenda of the communal fascists on many recent events like the developments in FTII, twisted nationalism, increasing fabricated cases, human rights violations using draconian laws, developments in Chennai (IIT) against Dalits, beef debate, attacks on writers, moral policing, attacks on human rights activists, Rohit Vemula’s suicide and the subsequent Dalit students movement in Hyderabad University, the repressive policies of the Government on the students in JNU, growing attacks on writers, secular intellectuals, women, Dalits and Adivasis all over India, violations on freedom of expression and other such grave areas.
All these incidents and many other incidents have brought in many private and public discussions and protests against the growing fascist forces in India. At the same time, there are also concerns on the limitations in identifying the meaning, character and agenda of fascism in many of these discourses.…
The organised mass as well as State terrorism is already taking a new shape in the present history. Any attempt of activism against fascism without encompassing and involving the grave reality of marginalisation diverse sections by the above forces, could become counter productive. Those who are involved in the anti-fascist struggle will have to ask themselves, who are the immediate victims of fascism and what is the relationship of themselves with the existing as well as potential future victims and survivors during such a political struggle. Such questions among ourselves may indicate an answer to fascism in the long run, upholding the values of democracy, justice, peace and harmony.
The transfer of yet another Gujarat officer to New Delhi should hardly have been news. After all, many key positions in the national capital have been held by Gujarat-cadre officers since Narendra Modi became prime minister. But when the transfer is from state DGP to DG (Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards) and decided on without consulting the officer, and if the new DGP is an accused in cases of extra-judicial encounter out on bail, eyebrows are bound to be raised.
It was a holiday in Lutyens' Delhi - Ramnavami - on April 15, a relaxed Friday for the central bureaucracy, when the orders came from the MHA for the immediate transfer of P.C. Thakur. Such alacrity is normally reserved for 'top priority' movement ordered at a very high level. Gandhingar too was also at ease after the Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations the day before. The chief secretary was at home, unaware of the development until his attention was drawn to order no. 6/6/2016-EO(SM-1) of the secretariat of the appointments committee of the Union cabinet, issued earlier in the day.
Nikhil Bhatt, Gujarat joint secretary (home), was out of town and had to rush back to Gandhinagar and issue the notification (DPT/102016/GOI-74/B) right away, transferring Thakur to New Delhi and relieving him of his Gujarat charge with effect from the 'forenoon' of Saturday, April 16. Such was the hurry that the first notification had erroneously mentioned June 16 as the date for P.P. Pandey to take over as DGP, and so another had to be issued two hours later.…
The latest annual report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has been met with sneering criticism from the government of India. While such a reaction, likely stemming from an abhorrence of "cultural infiltration" of a world power, is predictable, India's ancient wisdom would suggest that it would still be possible to take the concerns expressed in the findings and act on them for the good of our own society.
The nature of the message delivered along with the findings - "religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India" during 2015 - might be repugnant to a sovereign nation under "surveillance" by a panel of people appointed by the legislature of a foreign country, bipartisan or otherwise. Even so, it must be possible to learn something from what is being said, particularly as we know the controversies and tensions whipped up last year were detrimental to the overall fabric of an inclusive society like India with its people of multiple faiths living mostly in harmony for seven decades after the horrors of Partition.…
A vibrant pluralistic society cannot be allowed to be held to ransom by a few. The fact that apart from pockets of communal influences, a vast majority of Indians are absolutely free in matters of faith, or even non-faith, represents a quintessential India that has worked for years.
The Bombay high court has upheld the constitutional validity of Maharashtra's prohibition of the slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks, the trade of the animals outside the state for slaughter, and their sale or purchase for slaughter.
The high court has also upheld the prohibition on the possession of the meat of cows, bulls or bullocks from Maharashtra, but has held that such possession has to be "conscious possession" (slightly tougher for the police to prove than simple possession).
The high court held that a mental element was a part of conscious possession—interpreting the provision otherwise would give rise to the possibility of innocents being convicted under the provision.…
Being in the headlines of media and social media, globally, since its premeditated invasion by Police in search of "anti-national" students accompanied by venomous campaign against it by Hindutva right wing extremists on 11th February 2016, JNU seems to have transcended to abstract noun –the Idea – from the common noun – the institution. It certainly is an idea – an idea of democratic academic culture that enables the students to scientifically comprehend the reality, articulate it and logically express it.
This ability comes through well-established conventions of debates, discussions and discourse; seminars, conventions and round-the-clock library socialization; post dinner talks etc. JNU is an idea of a progressive pedagogy that facilitates a system of knowledge process through unceasing dialectical questioning anything and everything including God or Karl Marx, beginning with one's own mind set. JNU students in unceasing quest of knowledge know that key to any knowledge is unceasing questioning.
JNU is an idea of a democratic political culture through public meetings, film screening, theatre and other cultural performances, recitation, heated and not so heated academic, cultural and social debates in Dhaba Addebajis (discussion sessions at tea joints); round the clock library socialization and midnight strolls. Here night life is as integral part of the learning process as day life, a desirable attribute for all the campuses. That is why JNU is an Idea.…
Reviewed by: Anand Teltumbde
Available at: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, D-84 Abul Fazl Enclave-I, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi 110025 INDIA, 2015; pp 216, Rs 250.. http://www.pharosmedia.com/
Sinners of the Partition (Apr 30, 2016, EPW)
Those who have somehow reconciled with the mythologised history of ancient India will surely be surprised by the continuing trend of myth-making even in modern times. Partition of India has largely been covered by thick layers of deliberate untruths to construct communal narratives demonising Muslims. Not many people know that a majority of Muslims did not approve of the idea and large numbers of them actually opposed it. These facts, however, remain largely unexplored except in a few scholarly treatises.
The present book by a noted scholar and a progressive activist-thinker Shamsul Islam, devoted to exposing these truths to the larger public, is not only a welcome contribution but also a timely one, given that Hindutva forces are falsifying our history with a fascist zeal.…
The question is not about the invalidity of the two-nation theory, it is about who originated it. India’s right-wing establishment projects Muslims, who have been its biggest victims, as the originators of this idea. The truth is that it was actively propagated ideologically and organisationally by Hindu nationalist leaders much before any organisation of the Muslims was born and was more vigorously pursued during later years, culminating into partition.…