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In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Back in Varanasi from Gujarat, migrants target Modi (Oct 10, 2018, The Telegraph)

Around 500 migrant labourers who returned to Varanasi because of attacks in Gujarat organised a protest in their hometown on Tuesday, after ironically using as their escape vehicle the same train that used to ferry Narendra Modi supporters during the 2014 election campaign to what would become his constituency.

The protests, organised by a little-known outfit called the UP-Bihar Ekta Manch, took place in front of the Cantonment railway station in Varanasi, with the agitating labourers targeting Modi.… The protesters in Varanasi carried Hindi banners and posters that read: "It is the declaration of a war from Varanasi against the violence on north Indians in Gujarat and Maharashtra."

Some of the banners said: "Gujarati Narendra Modi, Banaras chhodo (Gujarati Narendra Modi, leave Varanasi)." The protesters warned Gujaratis and Marathis living in Varanasi of retributive attacks if they did not leave the city in a week.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Gujarat Exodus: Mayawati attacks PM Modi, says those who voted for him in Varanasi are being targeted (Oct 9, 2018, DNA India)
  • BJP govt in Gujarat failed to stop exodus of migrant workers: Asaduddin Owaisi (Oct 9, 2018, Times of India)
  • North Indian migrant workers exodus abating in Gujarat; 10 held for hate messages (Oct 10, 2018, The Hindu)
  • Gujarat: Migrant workers continue to flee (Oct 10, 2018, DNA India)
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#MeToo Singes Modi Government as M.J. Akbar is Accused of Sexual Harassment (Oct 9, 2018, The Wire)

With #MeToo jolting the Indian media with one account after the other, big names have been tumbling out with each passing day. Among the latest to be named by survivors is veteran journalist and minister of state for external affairs, M.J. Akbar.…

On Tuesday, minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj was asked whether the ministry will be internally probing the allegations against Akbar. In a video of the encounter, Swaraj can be seen ducking the questions and walking away.…

The MEA has so far declined to comment on the matter. Sources in the MEA have said that the allegations of misconduct do not pertain to his tenure as a minister of the government.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Priya Ramani on defamation suit by MJ Akbar: Ready to fight, truth my only defence (Oct 15, 2018, Indian Express)
  • BJP's silence on sexual harassment charges against MJ Akbar goes against RSS tenets, writes ABVP activist Rashmi Das (Oct 11, 2018, First Post)
  • #Metoo: Times of India resident editor KR Sreenivas resigns after multiple sexual allegations (Oct 14, 2018, IB Times)
  • In Support of #MeToo, 11 Women Filmmakers Pledge to Never Work With Proven Offenders (Oct 14, 2018, The Wire)
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Non-Bailable Warrants Issued Against Two Accused In 2008 Malegaon Blast (Oct 8, 2018, NDTV)

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court today issued non-bailable warrants against 2008 Malegaon blast accused Ajay Rahirkar and Sudhakar Chaturvedi after they failed to appear before the court. The two accused are currently on bail.

On September 4, the top court had refused to entertain accused Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Prasad Purohit's petition seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into his alleged abduction and torture by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in connection with the case.

While pronouncing the orders, the court had also asked Purohit to approach the trial court. Six people were killed while more than hundreds got injured in the blast that took place on September 29, 2008 in the Muslim majority town of Malegaon.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Sanatan Sanstha disciples admit to planting bombs across Maharashtra in 2008 (Oct 10, 2018, Free Press Journal)
  • Video tapes reveal how Sanatan Sanstha workers planted bombs (Oct 8, 2018, India Today)
  • Two Sanatan Sanstha members acquitted in 2008 Thane blast case admit to planting bombs: India Today (Oct 10, 2018, Scroll.in)
  • Sanatan Sanstha members confess to India Today about role in bomb blast: How did authorities fail to discover this? (Oct 8, 2018, Dailyo.in)
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Book RSS chief under organised crime act for possessing weapons: Prakash Ambedkar demands (Oct 12, 2018, India Today)

Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh president Prakash Ambedkar today claimed that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat illegally possesses weapons. He demanded that Bhagwat should be arrested under the Arms Act.

Ambedkar was addressing the workers of his party at a demonstration outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in Mumbai against the RSS. He demanded that the organisation should be booked and the weapons in their possession should be confiscated.

The grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar claimed that Bhagwat possesses deadly weapons. "We have an Arms Act in the country which prevents anyone from possessing weapons. The RSS people are found possessing weapons. Photographs of Bhagwat and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi with weapons like AK 47, multi-firing guns, shoulder to fire rockets etc have been published. I have asked the government to explain why no action is being taken against him."…

SEE ALSO:

  • Ex-Samajwadi Party Spokesperson Alleges Attack By Bajrang Dal Members (Oct 7, 2018, NDTV)
  • Haryana Court Convicts Self-Styled Godman Rampal Dass in Two Murder Cases (Oct 11, 2018, The Wire)
  • CJP asks NHRC to monitor Varanasi Church attack, urges Facebook to act on video feature used to spread hate (Oct 12, 2018, Counterview)
  • Mumbai NIA Court attaches televangelist Zakir Naik's properties (Oct 12, 2018, Business Standard)
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Major General, 6 Others Sentenced To Life In 24-Year-Old Fake Encounter Case (Oct 15, 2018, Outlook)

A Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) of the Indian Army has convicted seven personnel, including a Major General, in a 24-year-old fake encounter case, sentencing them to life in prison.

Sources in an Indian Army unit based in Dibrugarh confirmed this on Sunday and said that Major General A.K. Lal, Colonel Thomas Mathew, Colonel R.S. Sibiren, Captain Dilip Singh, Captain Jagdeo Singh, Naik Albindar Singh and Naik Shivendar Singh have been awarded life imprisonment for their involvement in a fake encounter case in Assam's Tinsukia district dating back to 1994.

Former Assam Minister and BJP leader Jagadish Bhuyan said that nine youths were picked up by the Army from different areas of Tinsukia district on February 18, 1994 on suspicion that they were involved in the killing of a top tea garden executive. The soldiers killed five of the youths in a fake encounter, branding them as ULFA militants a few days after the incident, while releasing the other four.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Assam fake encounter case: Major General among 7 given life sentence by Army court (Oct 14, 2018, Hindustan Times)
  • Sohrabuddin Shaikh 'encounter' case: Two investigators depose before CBI court (Oct 12, 2018, Indian Express)
  • In fresh embarrassment for UP Police, 13 Bulandshahr cops, 5 of them SIs, booked for dacoity (Oct 6, 2018, Times of India)
  • Throat slit and left to die: Victim of state torture in Kashmir tells his story via pen and paper (Oct 13, 2018, Twocircles.net)
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Gurugram: Shiv Sena, VHP forcefully shut down 400 meat shops (Oct 11, 2018, National Herald)

The Sanyunkt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti (SHSS) - an organisation of 22 Hindu groups, including the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad claimed to have forcibly shut around 400 meat and chicken shops at different locations in Gurugram on Wednesday, October 10, demanding that they remain closed during Navaratri.

Chief of Shiv Sena's Gurugram unit Gautam Saini said that around 300 members of different Hindu organisations assembled at the Lord Shiva temple located at the Old Railway road on Wednesday, October 10, and headed to different places to close meat shops.

Locals claimed a group of Sena workers assembled at Palam Vihar on Wednesday, October 10, and forcibly shut down meat markets in Surat Nagar, Ashok Vihar, Sector 5 and 9, Pataudi Chowk, Jacobpura, Sadar Bazaar, Khandsa Anaj Mandi, Bus Stand, DLF area, Sohna and Sector 14.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Hindu Groups Force Gurgaon Meat Traders to Close Shop During Navaratri (Oct 11, 2018, The Wire)
  • "Will forcibly close meat shops", Muslim traders seek protection from Police (Oct 10, 2018, Siasat)
  • Hindu Extremists Attack Muslims Meat Sellers in the Indian Cyber Capital (Oct 13, 2018, Eurasian Times)
  • Gurugram: Hindutva groups ask meat shop owners to remain shut during Navratri (Oct 12, 2018, Scroll.in)
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NYT rakes up Rafale deal, predicts a "tough one" for Modi in 2019 LS polls (Oct 8, 2018, National Herald)

America's top newspaper The New York Times has called the Rafale deal "fishy" in a recently published article. Stating that the deal has finally given a chance to the main opposition party, the Congress, to land a blow on PM Modi, the newspaper said that for the first time in last four years, the opposition parties have been able to "build a damaging narrative and land a solid punch" on Modi.

"For several years, Indian politics have been dominated by Mr Modi's party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which has grown accustomed to pushing around its rivals," said the article, published on October 6.

It added, "But for the first time in a long time, the opposition, by building a damaging narrative around this arms deal, has landed a solid punch, and is hoping to keep the pressure on Mr Modi and his party ahead of next year's general election."…

SEE ALSO:

  • Supreme Court seeks details of decision-making process on Rafale deal (Oct 10, 2018, Indian Express)
  • Dassault Papers Show Reliance Entry Mandatory For Rafale Deal: Report (Oct 10, 2018, NDTV)
  • Rafale aircraft deal: To get contract, deal with Reliance was a condition, says Dassault official (Oct 11, 2018, Indian Express)
  • Internal Dassault Document Says Reliance JV was a 'Trade-off' for Bagging Rafale Deal: French Report (Oct 10, 2018, The Wire)
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Women who dare to enter Sabarimala will be ripped into two pieces: Malayalam film actor Kollam Thulasi (Oct 12, 2018, Hindustan Times)

Malayalam film actor Thulasidharan Nair, also known as Kollam Thulasi, said on Friday women who dare to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala would be ripped into two pieces and one will be thrown at the chief minister's office and the other sent to New Delhi.

The actor, a supporter of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said that real devotees can't accept the entry of women into the hilltop shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa and hoped women from Kerala won't enter the temple.

He said those who dare to enter the temple should also face its consequences. His controversial statement came when he was addressing a protest rally of the BJP in south Kerala's Kollam.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Kerala actor's SHOCKER! Kollam Thulasi says 'women entering Sabarimala Temple should be ripped in half' (Oct 12, 2018, Times Now)
  • RSS leaders moved Supreme Court in 2006 for entry of women into Sabarimala, says Kerala minister (Oct 11, 2018, Scroll.in)
  • Sabrimala row: FIR against Kerala actor for 'women entering temple should be ripped in half' remark (Oct 14, 2018, DNA India)
  • 'It is an upper-caste protest': Ezhava outfit in Kerala denounces RSS plans for Sabarimala stir (Oct 10, 2018, Scroll.in)
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Delhi school divided: Hindu and Muslim students assigned to separate sections (Oct 10, 2018, Indian Express)

A section of teachers employed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation has alleged that a primary school in Wazirabad is segregating Hindu and Muslim students in different sections.… C B Singh Sehrawat, the teacher put in-charge of the school on July 2 after the principal was transferred, denied deliberately segregating the students on the basis of religion.…

A source in the school, however, said that the reshuffling of sections based on religion began only in July this year after Sehrawat took over. The academic session began in April. "The principal was transferred on July 2, after which a teacher was put in charge until a new principal is posted. He initiated these changes and teachers were not consulted in the matter. When some teachers tried to bring it up with him, he responded with aggression and told them that it was none of their concern and that they should do their assigned jobs," the source said.

According to the source, some teachers from the school went to the MCD zonal office in Civil Lines around 20 days ago to tell authorities about the matter, but they did not put their grievances in writing for fear of being targeted.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Inside the Delhi School That Partitioned Hindu-Muslim Students and Why No One Outside Had a Clue (Oct 13, 2018, News18.com)
  • Why minority educational institutions, asks think tank (Oct 10, 2018, The Hindu)
  • Appointment of Sachar Committee by the government was a communal act, says RSS-linked think tank (Oct 9, 2018, One India)
  • Islam is not the religion of India; says a report (Oct 9, 2018, Siasat)
[]

Chhattisgarh women strip-searched at BJP's Mahila Sammelan in Bhilai Charoda chaired by Amit Shah (Oct 7, 2018, Newsx.com)

The one-day visit of BJP president Amit Shah to poll-bound Chattisgarh left a scar on women's life after the women who had come to attend the event as they were reportedly strip-checked by the police officers at the premises. As per reports, Amit Shah had gone to Bhilai Charoda district to carry out a public rally.

Reports suggest that the undergarments of the women were also checked and all was done in the name of security. Several reports claimed that women wearing black sarees or any pieces of black clothing weren't allowed to enter. The following measures were taken to avoid black flag protest during the rally.…

After the matter was highlighted, the following actions by the BJP drew criticism from every corner.… Slamming BJP over the following act, Congress leader Kiranmayi said that earlier BJP would ask men to take off their socks and belts but now they are doing same to women. He further claimed that this incident has exposed the sick mindset of BJP leaders. He further said that BJP keeps repeated that people should save and educate the girl child but in reality, women need to be saved from the BJP.

SEE ALSO:

  • Shocking: At BJP's Mahila Sammelan chaired by Amit Shah, women strip-searched (Oct 7, 2018, National Herald)
  • Hindu Parliamentarian Calls for Drive to 'Get Rid of Christian Missionaries' in India (Oct 8, 2018, Christian News)
  • Punjab blasphemy law "violates" Constitution, is "attack" on democratic rights under secular garb (Oct 13, 2018, Counterview)
  • Civil Service Rules Will Take Away Our Freedom to Dissent: JNU Faculty (Oct 11, 2018, The Wire)
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Migrant Labour Exodus Shines a Light on the Dark Side of Modi's 'Gujarat Model' - By Rajeev Khanna (Oct 8, 2018, The Wire)

The much touted 'Gujarat Model' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party stands stripped bare once again. The migrant labour in the state fleeing in the face of a violent campaign is a grim reminder of the failure of Modi's 'Gujarat Model' on both the social and the economic front.

Even though the state government is attempting to bring the situation back to the normal, the cat is out of the bag for now. Most of the labourers who have fled hail from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The irony here is that many of the same migrants fleeing today had rushed home ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha to campaign for Modi and the BJP, acting as salespersons of the very same 'Gujarat Model' that has let them down.

The trigger that led to the present exodus was the arrest of a migrant labourer from Bihar for the rape of a 14-month-old girl near Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha district. The incident was followed by a hate campaign against 'par prantiya' (outsiders) that is aimed at forcing them to go back home.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Arrest the exodus in Gujarat - Editorial (Oct 10, 2018, The Hindu)
  • Gujarat's forced exodus: If we cannot tolerate migrants from other states it will take India down - By Pavan K Varma (Oct 13, 2018, Times of India)
  • Migrants' exodus can hurt Gujarat's economy - Editorial (Oct 10, 2018, Hindustan Times)
  • Gujarat migrants' exodus: India's Iron Man set to be honoured by PM as immigrants threatened and chased out - By Pragya Singh (Oct 9, 2018, First Post)
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With MJ Akbar, is BJP saying harassment is fine as long as politics are 'right'? - By Rohan Venkataramakrishnan (Oct 15, 2018, Scroll.in)

"Bahut hua naari par vaar" ("enough with the violence against women") declared one of the slogans used by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the run-up to the General Election in 2014. As it stands, the months ahead of the 2019 election now have a different phrase altogether: "innuendo and malice". That is what Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar had to say on Sunday about allegations by as many as 14 women accusing him of sexual harassment.…

All of Modi's promises to take on crimes against women, of promoting "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" (protect our daughters, educate our daughters), of declaring that "no civilised society" would tolerate "injustice against women" will be exposed as hollow if he does not insist on Akbar stepping down, while institutions figure out how to address this moment.

Refusing to even acknowledge the potential that these women might be speaking the truth is exactly the kind of reaction that has a chilling effect, telling others everywhere that their voices will not be heard. It conveys the message that sexual harassers can be tolerated if their politics are right even though no one speaking up about Akbar has made it about his politics. It is a shame and a travesty. The Indian government should do better.

SEE ALSO:

  • M J Akbar Should Be Fired Rather Than Being Allowed To resign - By Aakaar Patel (Oct 14, 2018, Outlook)
  • The government must speak up about sexual harassment charges against its minister - By Ipsita Chakravarty (Oct 10, 2018, Scroll.in)
  • #MeTooIndia Should Become Tomorrow's Future, Not Yesterday's News - By Meghna Pant (Oct 10, 2018, Outlook)
  • No easy endings - By Pamela Philipose (Oct 12, 2018, Indian Express)
[]

Sanatan Sanstha and Its Hindutva Designs - By Sanghamitra Prabal (Oct 13, 2018, EPW)

…The Sanatan Sanstha came in the news again after arrests of few of its followers and sympathisers in connection with a terror plot and possible involvement in the killing of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) has arrested seven people so far who are sympathisers of the Sanatan Sanstha. Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar, and Sudhanva Gondhalekar were arrested on 10 August following the seizure of an arsenal of arms and ammunition at Raut's bungalow in Nalasopara (NDTV 2018).

The network of Hindutva terrorists did not stop with the Sanatan Sanstha alone. Shrikant Pangarkar, former Shiv Sena corporator from Jalna who has links with the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) was arrested on 19 August based on confessions by Raut, Kalaskar and Gondhalekar. Avinash Pawar, another suspect who also has links with Hindutva groups, was arrested (Rajput 2018). Sachin Andure, who was arrested on 18 August on the charge of being the shooter in Dabholkar case, also has connections with Hindutva groups. These arrests were made after investigation into the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh started to unravel the larger network of Hindutva groups like the Sanatan Sanstha and the HJS.

Two Sanatan Sanstha Sadhaks, Virendra Tawde and Samir Gaikwad, were arrested in 2016 in connection with the Dabholkar and Govind Pansare murder cases, respectively. Tawde, who is an ENT specialist, has been charged with planning the murder of Dabholkar, but Gaikwad was released on bail later. If we could recall, a few more incidents of terror activities are linked to the Hindutva organisations.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Hard evidence, soft treatment: Despite all the proof, why Sanatan Sanstha has been handled so mildly - By Subhash Gatade (Oct 10, 2018, Dailyo.in)
  • Will NCP's Frankenstein monster bite the BJP in Maharashtra? - By Sujata Anandan (Sep 18, 2018, Money Control)
[]

Hindutva twists the educational system to suit its sectarian agenda - By Humra Quraishi (Oct 9, 2018, Milli Gazette)

Ruckus on the campus of the universities in Uttar Pradesh seems ongoing. The latest news reports of violence on the campus of the Allahabad University and before that in the Banares Hindu University and the Lucknow University speaks volumes of the political rot intruding into these once-upon-a-time great educational institutions.

Alas no longer! Political mafia holding sway in the university departments, intruding right into the classrooms and hostels. Writ large is the fact that hired political goons are made to enter campuses to cause rifts and with that less of academics and more of a war like situation prevails there, complete with maar-kaat-dhar…Not to overlook the needless recent controversy that was made to erupt by vested political groups over an old, pre-Partition, portrait of Jinnah on the campus of the Aligarh Muslim University.…

And as the 2019 elections near there's worry cum apprehension that the educational institutions and with that the students could be used by the political mafia. Setting one group against the other! The administration has been rendered all too weak and run down to veto the political rulers, hell-bent on ruining institutions.

SEE ALSO:

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A saffron twist - By Ziya Us Salam and Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Oct 26, 2018, Frontline)

The capabilities of the propaganda machinery of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)-led Sangh Parivar to twist and turn any development or fact into a narrative that suits its political and social agenda - be it short, medium or long term - is time-tested. This attribute has once again come to the fore through the Sangh Parivar's voluble interpretations of the Supreme Court's September 27 majority verdict on a petition seeking to refer to a larger, five-judge Constitution Bench the question whether a "mosque as a place of prayer is an essential part of Islam".

The bench made it clear that it was addressing only this limited question and that it had no bearing on other legal proceedings on the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, including the crucial title dispute. However, sections of the Sangh Parivar, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, have started depicting the verdict as a major step towards obtaining legal approval for the construction of a Ram temple at the spot where the Babri Masjid existed until it was demolished on December 6, 1992.…

Dismissing the plea to revisit the 1994 observations, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan, who together constituted the majority in the bench, categorically stated that the observations about the place of a mosque in Islam were limited to the context of acquisition of land by the government and had no bearing on the title suit in the Ayodhya matter. In keeping with its seasoned political-organisational practices, the Sangh Parivar has sought to overlook this pointed clarification by the apex court and to present the verdict as a major milestone in the Hindutva march in relation to the Ayodhya dispute.…

SEE ALSO:

  • Need for Reconciliation with Justice: Babri Demolition and The Aftermath - By Ram Puniyani (Oct 9, 2018, The Citizen)
  • Ayodhya fear! - By Nilofar Suhrawardy (Oct 9, 2018, Milli Gazette)
  • What are the Ayodhya appeals all about? - By Krishnadas Rajagopal (Oct 6, 2018, The Hindu)
  • Religious tensions rise after court ruling on mosque land - By Saurav Datta (Oct 5, 2018, Asia Times)
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Aadhaar and the 'Least Intrusive Option': What Did the SC Say About Smart Cards? - By Prashant Reddy T. (Oct 10, 2018, The Wire)

At the heart of the legal challenge against the Aadhaar Act was an argument that the Supreme Court must use the test of proportionality to strike down the legislation because the Aadhaar-style centralised authentication mechanism was not the 'least intrusive' option to identify individuals.

Instead of a centralised authentication mechanism, the petitioners argued for a system of smart cards that would store biometrics on individual cards, thereby enabling decentralised authentication.

Before proceeding to the court's application of this test in the Aadhaar case, it may help to briefly recount the evolution of the proportionality standard of review and how it differs from existing standards of review.…

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