Peace, Pluralism and Justice
In this issue of IAMC News Digest
Opinions & Editorials
It is evening time and the maulvi here just sounded the 'azaan', the call for prayer and devouts rush inside to offer 'namaaz'. Shortly thereafter, scores of people assemble in the tented courtyard of the mosque to have food. This is Jama Masjid in Hyderpora area which has turned into a major relief centre for those affected by the devastating floods in the Kashmir valley, housing hundreds of people, including women and children.
Significantly, in this hour of tragedy, this mosque has become a symbol of communal harmony as a number of Hindus, who had come from outside the state for work, are also taking shelter here. The inmates of this camp at the mosque, which remained unaffected by the floods, have come from various parts of the valley and each one PTI talked to had a story of horror and pain to tell. …
At the mosque premises, community kitchen is being run and donation of clothes is pouring in. The inmates are housed in the three-storeyed building. Around 2400 people eat food every day at the masjid, says Haji Ghulam Nabi Dar, president of the Hyderpora Jama Masjid Committee. Affected people from far off places like Baramulla, Kupwara and Sopore have come here for shelter, he says. …
A suspected Hindutva terrorist was severely injured when a bomb was prematurely exploded at his house at Kooleri under the Mattannur police station limits in Kannur on Wednesday. The injured suspected terrorist has been identified as 21-year-old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker Nikhil, son of Kunnummal Pavithran.
A large cache of explosives was found at his damaged house after the blast. It is suspected that he was making bombs to carryout terror attacks in the region. Both the palms of the suspected terrorist Nikhil were nearly severed in the blast that occurred in the house at around 4 p.m., the police said. He has been rushed to a hospital in Kozhikode.
The explosion was suspected to have occurred when he was making country-made bombs at the veranda of the house. The house also suffered damage in the blast. No one was in the house at the time of the explosion, the police added.
Two days after issuing a notice to BJP MP Yogi Adityanath for allegedly violating the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct by invoking religion to garner votes during a poll meeting in Noida, the Election Commission on Thursday reprimanded the Gorakhpur MP and cautioned him to be careful.
"In the commission's considered view, you have violated the provisions of MCC as mentioned in the commission's notice dated September 9, 2014. The commission reprimands you for the said misconduct and cautions you to be careful in future in making public utterances during election speeches to avoid any further violation of the Model Code of Conduct," the EC said in its order. The words "reprimand" and "cautions" were marked in bold and underlined.
The EC also directed the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer to ensure that an FIR is filed against Adityanath. "Kindly intimate if any FIR has been filed in the matter. If not, then the concerned district authorities should be directed to file case under Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and Section 153 A, Section 295 A and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code," it said. It has sought a compliance report by 5 pm on Friday.…
Though the top national leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party has been silent on "love jihad," party leaders in charge of the campaign for the September 13 by-elections in Uttar Pradesh have been consistently alleging that Muslim men are "forcing" Hindu women to convert after courting and marrying them.
As the campaign gains momentum in the State, particularly in the communally charged western region, BJP leaders have been openly talking about "love jihad" and urging Hindu voters to "understand the conversion plot being hatched inside madrasas." Leaders like the firebrand MP from Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath; party State unit chief Laxmi Kant Bajpai; national vice-president and Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma; and Unnao MP Harisakshi Maharaj have been making the allegation.
Addressing a meeting in Bijnore on Sunday, Adityanath said "love jihad" was a "social evil," and the State government was giving huge monetary aid to madrasas, instead of focussing on improving power supply in the State. Referring to the alleged "conversion plot," he spoke of the marriage of Akbar to a Hindu princess, Jodhabai. "No Jodhabai would now go to Akbar," he said apparently referring to the BJP leaders' allegation that Muslim men were marrying Hindu girls for conversion.
Another saffron leader, Harisakshi Maharaj, alleged that Muslim men were being given "monetary reward" for the "conversion plot." "It [love jihad] is a deep-rooted controversy … Muslim youths get money from the Gulf [for luring Hindu girls]," he told a news channel. Mr. Sharma alleged that "love jihad" was more deadly than a bomb.
Addressing a meeting in Noida on Sunday, Mr. Bajpai said the Samajwadi Party government was pursing the politics of appeasement. "On the one hand, the game of conversion is continuing on a large scale in Uttar Pradesh and, on the other, the government is conspiring to release terrorists who are in jail, just for gaining a few votes," he said.
International Christian Concern (ICC) has warned that Sangh Parivar, an umbrella Hindu nationalist group, is inflicting suffering and looking to cleanse the minority Christian population in India, much like terror group ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria.
The watchdog group said in a press release that the nationalist group and its associate organizations have been directing hate speech toward Christians and leading attacks on pastors and churches in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Believers are reportedly worried that radical Hindu nationalism and persecution of minorities will escalate.
John Dayal, a member of the Indian government's National Integration Council, said: "There has been a sharp rise in hate campaigns against Christians by political organizations. This threat of purging Christians from villages extends from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to now Uttar Pradesh, and to the borders of the national capital of New Delhi."…
'No "Jai Hind", salute by saying "Ram, Ram" and "Jai Mata Di" Muslims in army got the notice (Sep 11, 2014, Muslim Mirror)
'The task of army's religious teacher is to enthuse the spirit of patriotism, zeal and unity in the jawans [lads] while the slogan of 'Jai Hind' [Long live India] sends a message of religious hatred and extremism. If you do not rise above narrow-mindedness and do not salute by shouting "Ram, Ram" and "Jai Mata di" [slogans invoking Hindu deities], as per the rules of the battalion disciplinary action will be taken against you'. This notice has been issued by a high ranking army officer to Subedar Ishrat Ali who has been serving in the army for the last 22 years as a Maulvi [Muslim priest].
Subedar Ishrat Ali's wife has filed a written complaint to National Minority Commission urging it to help her husband in getting rid of the discriminatory attitude of the officers. In a letter sent to National Minority Commission, Shehnaz Bano, the wife of Subedar Ishrat Ali, transferred from Raj Rif Centre Delhi to Rajputana Rifles (3 Raj Rif bikaneer), has alleged that her husband is being continually subjected to mental torture. According to her Ishrat Ali's Commandant Officer Chitra Sen says that as long as he is in his regiment he will have to follow its rules and will not be allowed to salute with the slogan of 'Jai Hind' but, instead, will have to salute his superiors by saying 'Ram, Ram' and 'Jai Mata di'.
Shehnaz Bano quotes her husband as saying that during his 22 years' service he had always saluted with the slogan 'Jai Hind' and as a Muslim it is impossible for him to utter 'Ram, Ram' or 'Jai Mata di'. Because of this her husband has been served an official notice. The notice issued on 31 August and signed by Major Lalit Shering reads, 'Your commanding officer has ordered you not to utter 'Jai Hind' as long as you are in this battalion. The C.O. had directed you to salute by saying 'Jai Hind' when you are outside the battalion but while within the battalion, following its rules you will have to address your superiors by saying 'Ram, Ram' and "Jai Mata di." In this connection a copy of a letter, No B/42120/AG/CW-1, dated 25 September 2012, received from the Military Headquarter that outlines the rules of saluting a superior, is being sent to you for your information.'…
An absconder, accused of murder and arson during Muzaffarnagar riots, has been arrested and sent to judicial custody, police said on Saturday. Praveen Kumar was arrested from Bahawdi village in the district on Friday, SIT inspector BL Yadav said. Kumar was involved in four cases of murder and two of arson during the riots that took place last year, Yadav said, adding, he has been absconding since then.
Three persons of a family were murdered and their houses burnt, while one person was murdered in another incident and his house burnt by the rioters at Bahawdi village under Phugana Police Station in the district on September 8, 2013, police said.
Praveen was involved in all of these cases, they said. He was sent to 14 days judicial custody by Chief Judicial Magistrate Narender Kumar, the inspector said.
Hinduism losing its benign face, no one at top stepping in: Fali S Nariman (Sep 12, 2014, Indian Express)
Hinduism is losing its traditional tolerance because some Hindus have started believing that it is their faith that has brought them political power - and because this belief is not being challenged by "those at the top", Fali S Nariman, one of India's most celebrated jurists, said on Friday. Nariman said he agreed that the "majority government at the Centre" had done nothing to stop the recent repeated tirades by individuals or groups against members of minority communities.
The eminent constitutional expert delivered the Annual Lecture at the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), titled ‘Minorities at Crossroads: Comments on Judicial Pronouncements'. Nariman, who began the lecture by saying that he welcomed the single-party majority government at the Centre but also feared it because of "past experience with majoritarian government(s)", said Hinduism has traditionally been the most tolerant of all Indian faiths.
"But - recurrent instances of religious tension fanned by fanaticism and hate speech has shown that the Hindu tradition of tolerance is showing signs of strain. And let me say this frankly - my apprehension is that Hinduism is somehow changing its benign face because, and only because it is believed and proudly proclaimed by a few (and not contradicted by those at the top): that it is because of their faith and belief that HINDUS have been now put in the driving seat of governance," he said.…
The government that the Sangh Parivar worked hard to put in place cannot continue to pretend it does not see that the Parivar and its activists are putting the nation's minorities on the edge. This is the import of what eminent jurist Fali S Nariman said when he delivered the annual lecture of theNational Minorities Commission last Friday. The top echelons of the government must step in and voice their opposition to the divisive discourse being carried out on the ground by workers of the BJP and other Sangh Parivar organisations. This discourse, ably supplemented by those who see gains in fanning minority communalism, will eventually lead to violence and schism whose proportions no one wants to know or estimate.
Hinduism is losing its benign face, said Nariman. Hinduism remains, at the popular level, the polycentric, eclectic, diverse system it has been, pursuing spirituality that can accommodate endless variety, dismissing the very idea of theological deviance. It is the attempt to forge a new Hindutva, which seeks to give its exclusivist and intolerant urges an organised, political form, that poses a danger to traditional Hinduism, to India's genius for celebrating unity in diversity and, thereon, to the cohesion of 125 crore people as a nation. Even as pamphlets circulate against 'love jihad' and hate speeches stir up controversy, national-level leaders refuse to take cognisance of such activities and what they can lead up to, instead of squelching them through strong intervention.
It is unlikely that appeals to the most successful political leaders of Hindutva would help put brakes on it. Other political parties, civil society organisations, artists, writers, filmmakers and all those who have a stake in India living up to its constitutional vision of treating all citizens alike without discrimination need to act for unity and against division. Industry, with the greatest stake in stability that is a prerequisite for prosperity, must come out clearly against sectarianism and champion an inclusive India. The matter transcends party politics.
'Chased' by CBI for refusing to frame seniors, former MHA official tells SC (Sep 12, 2014, Indian Express)
The row between CBI and Intelligence Bureau (IB) over Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case has witnessed another twist, as a former Home Ministry official alleged in the Supreme Court that he was being "continuously chased and stalked" by CBI officials, including a recently posted woman IPS officer, for his refusal to frame his seniors.
Former under-secretary in Internal Security Division R V S Mani, said in his affidavit that he was "mentally and administratively harassed continuously" after he filed a note in June 2013. In this note, he disclosed he was allegedly coerced by Gujarat cadre IPS officer Satish Chandra Verma - who was a part of the CBI-SIT team probing the fake encounter case - to sign a false statement to implicate his seniors.
"I state that from the very beginning viz the deponent (Mani) placing the above referred note in the official records till now, the deponent was continuously called, chased and stalked by many senior CBI officers, including one senior-level IPS officer recently posted in the CBI," read his affidavit, which would be taken up by the court Friday.…
A police head constable posted in Narayanpur district of south Chhattisgarh has been put under suspension for allegedly revealing the movement of security forces to a Maoist informer, which resulted in the killing of 16 people near Tahakwada village of Sukma district in March this year.
Eleven CRPF men, four policemen and a civilian were killed in the Maoist ambush on March 11 near Tahakwada village, hardly a few kilometres from the Tongpal police station. "Mahadev Nag has been put under suspension pending inquiry," S.R. Kalluri, the Inspector General (IG) of Police, Bastar range, told The Hindu .
"Mahadev Nag was posted in Tongpal when the incident took place. He provided information about the troops' movement to a Maoist informer Manjhiram Kashyap who was recently arrested by the Bastar police," revealed a senior police officer posted in Bastar, requesting anonymity. The suspension of the head constable comes after the CRPF suspended its 17 personnel last week for inaction in the same incident.
Opinions and Editorials
'Gujarat model' of communal politics flourishing in UP - By Harsh Mander (Sep 11, 2014, Hindustan Times)
'There is nothing, nothing which can persuade us to return to our villages. They burned and looted our homes: We could barely save our lives, as we desperately ran with our children in our arms and just the clothes we were wearing. What is there for us to return to?' Words I heard over and over again in a harrowing journey through the districts of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, exactly a year after a storm of hate overnight tore this peaceful countryside apart.
As I travelled from village to village, everywhere one bore witness to a social landscape ravaged by communal hate - just a year old, but already settled like the crusted burdens of generations. An old man said sadly, "No one has come this full year to call us back, neither the village elders, nor people we grew up and worked with." "No village cricket team was complete without a Muslim lad or two," said another. "And now they don't care if we live or die". "Look at this camp in which we live now," said a third, pointing to leaking, soiled plastic sheets stretched over bamboo sticks affording each family a few square feet of minimal shelter, surrounded by black cesspools and mosquitoes. "We know we can die here as well. But at least here we are assured that our loved ones will bury us. Not like our village where our people were killed and burned."
Contrary to claims of the state government that all camps are emptied, we found over 10,000 women, men and children still living in camps in around 25 villages. Even in the immediate months after the conflagration, state support was restricted to food supplies or a few blankets in many camps, and only after national outrage following the death of many children in the winter cold, occasional visits by medical teams. Now even this has become a distant memory. Charitable organisations, mainly faith-based Muslim associations, have also closed their offices. Compassion also wearies. The unhappy people - fugitives from the hate which pervades the villages of their birth - are left to fend for themselves. They have just survived the monsoon showers, and are gearing up to endure another long winter.…
'The Hindu Tradition Of Tolerance Is Showing Signs Of Strain' - By Fali S. Nariman (Sep 14, 2014, Outlook)
…Traditionally Hinduism has been the most tolerant of all Indian faiths. But - recurrent instances of religious tension fanned by fanaticism and hate-speech has shown that the Hindu tradition of tolerance is showing signs of strain. And let me say this frankly my apprehension is that Hinduism is somehow changing its benign face because, and only because it is believed and proudly proclaimed by a few (and not contradicted by those at the top): that it is because of their faith and belief that HINDUS have been now put in the driving seat of governance.
Jawahar Lal Nehru was a Hindu. But he never looked upon the diverse and varied peoples of India from the stand point of Hinduism. He wrote in that most inspiring book The Discovery of India that "it was fascinating to find how the Bengalis, the Canarese, the Malayalis, the Sindhis, the Punjabis, the Pathans, the Kashmiris, the Rajputs, and the great central block comprising of Hindustani-speaking people, had retained their particular characteristics for hundreds of years, with more or less the same virtues and failings, and yet they had been throughout these ages distinctively Indian, with the same national heritage and the same set of moral and mental qualities.
Ancient India, like ancient China (he wrote), was a world in itself. Their culture and civilization gave shape to all things. Foreign influences poured in and often influenced that culture, but they were absorbed. Disruptive tendencies gave rise immediately to an attempt to find a synthesis. It was some kind of a dream of unity that occupied the mind of India, and of the Indian, since the dawn of civilization. And that unity was not conceived as something imposed from outside. It was something deeper; within its fold, the widest tolerance of beliefs and customs was practiced and every variety was acknowledged and even encouraged. This was Nehru's great vision of the diversity and unity of India.…
Narendra Modi's political narrative, first developed in Gujarat and now offered at the national level, is here to stay. One needs to understand the narrative well to expose it and to offer a counter. Old ideas of secularism and social justice are not enough to fight Modi; an innovative package of new and non-conventional ideas and practices is necessary to oppose him.
Economic arguments more than socio-political analysis would help to puncture Modi's communal agenda. For instance, Modi won office promising growth, good governance, national security and financial stability. The last would include controlling prices, generating employment and developing infrastructure. The claims were bogus, but he did succeed in convincing voters that he would deliver on his promises. Has he delivered?
Modi promised growth and employment, but look at the impact of communal riots in Uttar Pradesh on the economy. Take, for instance, the riots in Moradabad, a hub of the brassware industry that annually exports products worth Rs 2,500 crore. Muslims constitute a majority of the labour force in this industry while the factories are mostly owned by non-Muslims. The Hindu-Muslim tension, engineered by the BJP in view of the bypolls, has divided the society on religious lines.…
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just concluded his much tom-tomed visit to Japan, which received euphoric coverage in the Indian media. He returned to receive Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Soon he will receive Chinese President Xi Jinping before he sets off to the United Nations General Assembly and meets United States President Barack Obama on the sidelines.
In Japan, he thundered, that in his first 100 days as prime minister, he has performed miracles. Stating that he was new to national politics, apprehensive of moving to Delhi, he had nevertheless reversed the 'paralysis' that had gripped India under the earlier government. Justifying this claim, he quoted statistical data pompously announced by the Union finance minister a couple of days earlier. This was received with universal applause by the Indian media, with at least two leaders of India Inc publicly lauding his government's first 100 days. It was precisely these sections that had once lauded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for having broken India's nuclear isolation, gloating over his rubbing shoulders with world leaders at the G20 high table. They are now the chief propagandists of Modi overcoming such 'paralysis'. Is Prime Minister Modi doing anything different on this score than what Prime Minister Singh did?
Read what Japan Times published on September 6 by Jeff Kingston: "Overall the Japanese media coverage was oddly muted despite all the fanfare" in contrast to the Indian media coverage. "But on Japan's evening news (television) that night, this historic encounter merited barely a minute of coverage". As Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to reshuffle his Cabinet and fend off various criticisms, the Indian prime minister's visit was described thus: "The optics may have been the highlight as both leaders have crack PR teams and know the importance of good photo opportunities, starting with a welcome bear hug, temple tours and a tea ceremony, and Modi showing off his drumming and chopstick skills. Both leaders bonded just the way their handlers choreographed …". "But at the end not much happened. The two sides were unable to overcome the impasse over the civilian nuclear energy deal". India's hopes that Japan would cave in because it offers a potential $85 billion market for new reactors were belied.
Japan's leading media house Asahi Shimbun speculated on why Modi was reluctant to upgrade regular talks on foreign policy and security affairs to the Cabinet level - 2+2 model of talks between foreign and defence ministers. Little do they know that in the Modi government, it is only the prime minister who, as per the responsibilities assigned by the Rashtrapati Bhavan at the time of his swearing-in, is solely responsible for "all important policy decisions". The prime minister is simply unwilling to share responsibilities with his Cabinet colleagues. This reminds us of a king of France, Louis XV, who famously thought that there was no history before him and remarked "after me the deluge"!…
Love Jihad and conversions have seen an open public debate in all kinds of media in recent weeks. Re-conversion of Hindus, particularly, Dalits from Islam or back to Hinduism called 'ghar wapsi' has increasingly been reported in media and points to the malaise that afflicts our socio-religious fabric. The recent re-conversion of some dalits in Shivpuri in M.P. and slitting of wrists of a dalit lad for wearing a watch scream in one's face and point to a grave issue that has not been addressed so far.
The four converts of a Jatav family claimed that they had converted to Islam to escape discrimination by upper castes. Forceful or voluntary conversions and re-conversions may take place but the unresolved issue is of discrimination based on the varna system of Hinduism. Hinduism was regarded as one of the most open-minded religions of the world which provided refuge to enjoy religious freedom to Christians, Jews, Bahais and Zorastrians who fled their native places due to religious persecutions.
Dr. Rajni Kothari has observed, "India is a country built on the foundation of a civilization that is fundamentally non-religious". India is the only country in the world where minorities have found equal place under the Sun and have thrived unlike in our nieghbourhood. Three of our Presidents have been Muslims. Dalai Lama lauded this religious tolerance when he said "Not only Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism which are native religions but also Christianity and Islam have flourished here. Religious tolerance is inherited in Indian tradition".…
Eight years ago Section 436A was inserted in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), following what was considered a landmark amendment that had been passed in 2005. If under-trial prisoners had been in detention for more than half the term that would be awarded if they were convicted and if the crimes did not warrant life imprisonment or the death penalty, they would have to be freed. It was hoped then that tens of thousands of undertrials in India's prisons - many of them behind bars for years without witnessing even a day's trial - would be able to walk free. This "radical" amendment, however, has remained on paper.
Now the Supreme Court has ordered the implementation of Section 436A in response to a public interest litigation (PIL). Once again hopes have been raised that the ruling will bring freedom to those languishing in prison for an interminably long period without their trial being completed. Just a week before the Court's directive on 5 September, there were media reports that the Ministry of Home Affairs had initiated measures towards implementing Section 436A. Will this renewed attempt at the gargantuan changes needed in India's criminal judicial system bear fruit this time around?
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2012 there were 2.54 lakh undertrials in the country's jails. In the union home ministry's statistics, less than a lakh of the undertrials had been charged with serious offences like rape, murder or terror acts. How many of the other 1.5 lakh-plus undertrials have completed more than half the term their crime would have invited upon conviction is not known. In 2006 the estimate was that there were 50,000 such prisoners. In Uttar Pradesh alone nearly 20,000 prisoners are now expected to benefit from the Court's directive. Most of the undertrials are in jail for petty crimes and would have served the full term their crimes invite without being taken to court even once.…