Mumbai, November 19, 2014: In yet another setback to Gujarat’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), three Muslim youths have been discharged by a local court in Ahmadabad in an 8-year-old case pertaining to a bomb blast at the Kalupur railway station in the Gujarat capital.
The Metropolitan court on Monday discharged Afroz Pathan, Bilal Ahmed and Mustufa Saiyed in a case of February 19, 2006 blast at the Ahmedabad railway station in which at least 10 persons injured. Earlier in 2013, two other Muslim youth were similarly acquitted in separate blast related cases as the ATS could not provide evidence against them.
The latest acquittal came after Gujarat ATS filed a charge sheet in the case against Amir Shakil, Aqif Bayabani, Aslam Kashmiri and Zabiuddin Ansari under section 121 A, 120 (B) , 307 & 124 A of IPC and Sec 13 & 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). While submitting the charge sheet, the ATS filed an application u/s 169 of Criminal Code pleading discharge for other three accused as the agency could not collect any prosecutable evidences against trio.
The metropolitan court accepted the plea and discharged the three accused from the case.
Pathan, Ahmed and Saiyed were not arrested immediately after the blast but on June 12 this year from Mumbai prison, where they were already facing another trial for the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul. Gujarat ATS arrested them as their names had cropped up during the questioning of other accused, including Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jindal, who is also accused in the 26/11 case.
Defence lawyers’ reactions
AdvU D Pathan, lawyer of the accused, told TwoCircles.net, “We have been trying to convince the court ever since the arrest (of the trio) that ATS does not have any evidence to implicate them and that they are arresting these youth only on the basis of alleged statements of other accused recorded by it.”
“This order will help my clients in their Mumbai case also as their discharge (in this case) indicates that they have been falsely implicated in the case. I would get the certified copy of the discharge order and will soon send to the accused, who are imprisoned at Mumbai,” he said.
Boosted with the discharge order, Adv Nadeem Ansari, Maharashtra Jamiat lawyer in Mumbai, told Twocircles.net, “The accused were not aware of the order as they were not produced in Ahmedaad court. We will soon tender the certified copy of the discharge order before MCOC special court and (we believe) it will help prove their innocence in this (Aurangabad) case too.”
Two acquittals in the past
On December 12, 2013, Additional Sessions Judge B S Upadhyay had acquitted Mohammad Iliyas Abdul Memon, a resident of Paldi in Ahmedabad, and Kamlesh Bhagora, a constable with Government Railway Police, for lack of evidence against them.
Memon was accused of being in contact with Aslam Kashmiri to provide logistic support but during the trial, the ATS could neither recover a cell phone from Memon’s possession nor obtain Call Data Records (CDRs) regarding his conversation with Kashmiri.
ATS had arrested Bhagora for “concealment with criminal design” who, the agency claimed, was informed about an unattended suitcase after the train terminated at Ahmedabad but instead of informing the authorities concerned he quietly kept it hidden behind crates of cold drinks. The bomb blast occurred sometime later. During the trial, he too was acquitted for lack of evidence and the judge had admonished the police for poor investigation.
New Delhi, November 19, 2014: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has crossed 25 million followers on Facebook and continues to remain the second-most followed politician in the world after US President Barack Obama, the social networking website said.
With over 25 million users who have ‘liked’ Modi’s official account, the Indian prime minister is slowly catching up with Obama, who has over 43 million followers.
In April, Modi had over 12 million fans. It swelled to over 18 million by July and 21 million in September.
Facebook has over 100 million active users in India.
Meanwhile, some of the most popular pictures posted by Modi include that of the INS Vikramaditya, which got 822,613 likes followed by the Independence Day post which garnered 772,055 likes.
A photograph of Modi meeting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg received 619,359 likes.
A recent picture of Modi meeting Obama and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the G20 summit got 447,212 likes.
Ahmedabad, November 20, 2014: Finally, yesterday, exactly 12 years it was constituted by the Gujarat Government on March 6, 2002 to probe the burning of the Godhra train and the subsequent carnage which broke out in several parts of Gujarat, the Commission headed by G.T Nanavati (a former judge of the Supreme Court of India) submitted its report to the current Chief Minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel.
It was originally known as the K.G. Shah Commission but it was later reconstituted to include Justice Nanavati, after several civil rights groups and individuals protested over the closeness that Justice Shah had with Narendra Modi. Justice Shah died in 2008; and Justice Akshay H. Mehta (who granted bail to Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya case) was appointed on April 5, 2008 to be a member of this Commission.
The content of this more than 2000-page report has not yet been made public but if one goes by the grapevine and what seems to be “leaked out” to sections of the media, then one can very easily conclude the following: that those really responsible for the law and order in the State have been given a ‘clean chit’; that the burning of S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express on 27th February, 2002, just outside the Godhra railway station was a ‘meticulously planned act of conspiracy’ (this was already said in the Commission’s interim report in 2008); and finally the only people who seemed to be ‘responsible’ for not preventing or controlling the violence are some lower rung policemen and some apparently anti-social elements.
The Commission which has claimed to have looked into 4,160 cases of violence in Gujarat between February 27th and May 31st 2002 also states that it has gone through 46,000 affidavits submitted by over 4,000 victims of the violence that paralysed Gujarat and continues to be one of the darkest and bloodiest chapters of independent India. It was given 24 extensions (of almost six months each) before it submitted its report. Till July 2012, the Commission ran up an expenditure bill of more than five crores with an additional miscellaneous expense of Rs.1.62 crores. It has been past two and a half years since; so the final cost of this Commission (including the disguised expenditure) will surely run to a mind-boggling amount and all at the cost of the State exchequer (a Gujarati newspaper today puts a conservative cost of nine crores.
Several concerned citizens like the late Mukul Sinha of Jan Sangharsh Manch, Sanjiv Bhatt and others have tried their level best to bring the Commission – any thinking citizen will know – on track and ensure that truth prevails and that the victim-survivors are given justice. The Commission, has been full of inconsistencies, lapses and loopholes.
Sinha who cross-examined several witnesses, has consistently demanded that Modi who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at that time, had to be interrogated too. Why the Commission took the pains to deny this request from Sinha and several others does not leave much room for doubt!
Even though the Commission has submitted its report, many for the victim-survivors (and several others who have accompanied them) are the Gujarat Carnage of 2002 is not a closed chapter. The relentless pursuit for truth and justice will continue until those who presided over this carnage are brought to book. Only then, will they truly be able to sing our motto emblazoned on our national emblem “satyameva jayate” (truth alone triumphs!)
- cedric prakash
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also said that it won’t press for the abrogation of article 370 of the constitution, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, if people of the state want it to stay.
BJP state vice president Ramesh Arora, who is also in charge of the party’s Kashmir affairs, said Kashmiris would feel more secure if the BJP was voted to power in the country’s only Muslim-majority state.
“Kashmiris need to vote en masse for the BJP. This contention is wrong that the BJP is a communal party. Kashmir is a land of Sufi saints. Islam will grow better during our regime,” he said.
“The state as such has no religion but we (BJP) respect all religions and pledge religious freedom to all as guaranteed in the Indian constitution.
“Those who say the BJP would be a threat to Kashmiriyat … are wrong.
“The actual threat is to those who say so. Our party will end administrative, police, bureaucratic and political injustice in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Trying to play down the controversy over article 370, Arora said the BJP favoured a debate and discussion on the issue.
“We will take people into confidence and assess its merits and demerits to the state and proceed accordingly.”
Arora said a debate over this provision was a “serious issue and we (BJP) won’t take any vague decision.
“We will take the aspirations of all regions of Jammu and Kashmir into account while dealing with this issue.”
The BJP has traditionally opposed article 370, saying it was coming in the way of Jammu and Kashmir’s complete integration with the rest of India.
The BJP manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha election reiterated its stand on the article and said it “will discuss this with all stakeholders and remains committed to (its) abrogation”.
Mumbai, November 2014: Fulfilling its one of the pre poll assurance to make tough laws to check cattle slaughtering, the newly elected BJP governments in Maharashtra and Haryana have started working on getting long pending bills in this connection approved from the President.
Haryana already has ‘The Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955’ that applies to Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab states. But the new BJP government that took charge last month is reportedly looking into strengthening the existing law to further check the cow slaughter in the state, Haryana’s Animal Husbandry Minister Om Parkash Dhankhar said at Gurgaon on Tuesday.
The BJP government in Maharashtra has now taken up the oldest pending Bill – the Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 1995 – which was enacted by the then BJP-Shiv Sena government but subsequently stalled by the central governments, including the NDA tenure in between – by not seeking the President’s consent for it. During its 15-year rule in Maharashtra, the Congress-led governments never responded to the BJP’s demands for taking the bill ahead.
With this bill, the BJP government in Maharashtra wishes to ban the slaughter of calves in the state. Slaughtering of cows is already forbidden under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act (MAPA), enacted in 1976. Under the provisions of this existing law, calves can be killed after acquiring the ‘Fit for Slaughter’ certificate from civic authorities.
As reported by PTI, Mahesh Phatak, secretary, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department (Maharashtra) wrote to the Central Government last Thursday regarding the new BJP government’s wish to follow up and enactment of the Bill. His letter was in response to a communication from deputy secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking to know if the government was interested in pursuing the Bill, passed way back in 1995 by the state legislature.
Cattle slaughtering laws vary from state to state
The “Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases, veterinary training and practice” is Entry 15 of the ‘State List’ of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, meaning that State legislatures have exclusive powers to legislate the prevention of slaughter and preservation of cattle.
Hence, there is no uniform law regarding cattle slaughtering for all states and while cow slaughtering is completely banned in certain states, it is allowed in others. Also, those states that do have such laws, the enactment vary in great respect. Then, there are certain states where cow slaughter is not banned. These include Kerala, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir and some states from the northeast India. These states allow the slaughter of cows with restrictions such as a ‘fit-for-slaughter’ certificate that is issued by the civic authority depending on factors like age and gender of cattle, continued economic viability etc.
Prohibition of cow slaughter is actually a Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Article 48 of the Constitution. It reads,
“The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”
Tamil Nadu, November 18, 2014: On 16th November during Sunday worship service at Konkal Marthoma Church in Udumalpet(TN) a group of more than 100 anti Christian goons attacked the Parish priest Fr.K.A. Sathish, evangelist and Amrutha Raj, grievously injuring them.Two believers are also injured in the attack. The savage attackers have destroyed more than 20 vehicle parked outside the church. The perpetrators desecrated holy alter and continuously abused Christians and deity of Christ.The attackers torn Holy bible and spoiled musical instruments used for worship
Lethal weapons were used in the attack. The attackers demanded Christians to leave Udumalpet or face dire consequences. The attackers are at large and some perpetrators continuously threatening the victims admitted in the government hospital
Global Council of Indian Christians(GCIC) has approached National commission for Human Righs, the Tamilnadu chief Minister and central home minister for protection of Christians in Tamilnadu.
The PIL (public interest litigation) filed by one Suhail Ahmed Khan said that Jama Masjid is a property of the Delhi Wakf Board and Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari (Shahi Imam) as its employee can’t appoint his son as Naib Imam.
Bukhari’s decision to anoint his 19-year-old son, Shaban Bukhari, as the Naib Imam or the “Deputy Imam”, is wrong as there is no provision under the Wakf Act for hereditary appointment of the Imam of a mosque, it said.
“Despite knowing that Imam is an employee of the Wakf Board and its the Board which has the right to appoint an Imam, he (Bukhari) has declared his 19-year-old son to be a Naib Imam and is holding a dastar bandi ceremony for the said purpose, which is purely anti-Islamic,” the plea said.
Jama Masjid is India’s largest mosque built during the Mughal era in the 17th century, facing the Red Fort.
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw would hear the plea Wednesday.
It also asked the court to declare invalid the appointment of Bukhari as the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid.
The plea filed against the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Delhi government, Delhi Wakf Board (DWB), MCD, DDA, city police and Bukhari also alleged that there is “complete anarchy and misuse of power” by the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid.
Alleging illegal construction within the Masjid premises the plea sought a CBI probe into the accounts, affairs, misuse of premises of Jama Masjid and the area in the vicinity by the Shahi Imam.
It also sought directions for DWB to take over the affairs of Jama Masjid and appoint an Imam. The plea also asked the ASI and the government to declare Jama Masjid a protected monument. Bukhari had recently sparked off a controversy by announcing that he had invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the ceremony but did not feel the need to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Although most of the instigators have been caught, they have still not gone to trial, the priest said. “The local community utterly failed to protect the lives and property of their Christian neighbors,” he told international charity Aid to the Church in Need.
Now living in New York, Fr. Chellan is safe from the persecution and violence he endured in India. However, he hopes the government will seriously investigate the massacre and others like it.
Following the Aug. 23, 2008 murder of Swami Lakshmanananda, leader of the right-wing Hindu nationalist organization Vishna Hindu Parishad, Hindu fundamentalists took the opportunity to attack local Christians, whom they blamed for the murder.
In the days that followed, some 100 Christians were killed for refusing to convert to Hinduism and 50,000 people were displaced, while 5,600 houses and 300 churches were destroyed.
“Yet, the Christian faith stood out shining amidst the rubble of burned out churches and Christian houses,” he said. Fr. Chellan survived the violent attacks, but said he expected to die more than once during that time. His story is just one of many of those who were persecuted for their faith.
The afternoon after the murder, a mob of hundreds of people descended on his parish’s pastoral center. Fearing for his life, Fr. Chellan, along with his assistant priest and a religious sister, escaped by climbing over the wall of the compound and hiding out in the nearby forest until late into the night.
“We could see our home going up in flames. The mob broke open all the doors and windows, thinking we were hiding inside,” he said.
Fr. Chellan and the sister sought shelter at the home of a Hindu man who took them in despite the huge threat he faced from the radicals seeking out Christians. His assistant priest sought refuge at his brother’s house.
The following day, a smaller crowd of about 50 returned to the pastoral shelter shouting anti-Christian slogans and carrying knives, sticks and axes.
The Hindu man grew nervous hearing about this and asked Fr. Chellan to hide in a shed in his backyard while allowing the sister to remain in his home.
The mob came and searched the man’s house and found the sister and Fr. Chellan.
“I was pulled out and beaten with sticks and iron rods. I sustained injuries on top of my head, my forehead and shoulder,” the priest recalled.
The sister and Fr. Chellan were dragged back to the pastoral center where they tore off the sister’s clothes and brutally raped her. The priest tried to intervene, but was overpowered by the mob.
“When I tried to prevent the men from attacking her I was taken outside and doused in gasoline. Someone took out a box of matches. Seeing that I said my last prayers, thinking my end had come.”
They tied him and the sister together and, even as a police car drove by and other police officers stood on as spectators, no one intervened.
Eventually, their attackers and they were taken into the local police station where they safely spent the night. The next day, police took them to a safer station in the capital of Bhubaneswar where they were able to visit the archbishop, but were then taken out of state in order to receive medical treatment.
Despite this persecution, he said that the Christian community has made strides in improving life for all locals of any religion, particularly by providing education.
“Christians are claiming their rightful place in society, unwilling to put up any longer with religious and social discrimination.”
He explained that the majority of the Christians in the area are considered to be Dalits, or part of the lowest caste in the traditional Hindu hierarchy.
- catholic news agency
New Delhi, November 17, 2014: What had started from Meerut to Moradabad has come to play out in Delhi neighbourhoods. From Trilokpuri to Bawana to Okhla, a unique and dangerous kind of social engineering is at play. Drum up a riot, no casualty only some people injured but you have the desired impact – communal polarization.
With the saffron party now in power at the Centre and Delhi set for assembly elections in days to come, will these kind of incidents increase?
The Muzaffarnagar riots of September 2013 certainly helped the Saffron party in Hindu votes consolidation that won them more seats than ever in Uttar Pradesh, particularly in Western UP. The saffron front had not been able to deliver similar result even at the height of the Ram Janm Bhoomi movement.
The ball has once again started rolling for the Delhi Assembly election after the recent nod by the Union Cabinet to dissolve the assembly. This will end months of deadlock that began after Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had resigned dramatically after only 49 days in office in February 2014.
Though no formal announcement has been made yet, the elections are expected to be held in the month of February. The preparations for the elections, however, appear to have started weeks ahead as the national capital is witnessing increasing attempts at communal polarisation. Bawana, Trilokpuri, Babarpur and Madanpur Khadar in Okhla constituency are just the manifestations of the goings on at the ground.
A dead pig was found inside a mosque in Madanpur Khadar area in Oklha constituency on the morning of November 5, Wednesday when the Imam of the local mosque went for the morning prayers. The Imam and the residents tactfully ensured that the news did not spread immediately to the locality and averted a possible communal flare up. Local Muslims and Hindus presented an example of harmony and restrain as a peace committee was immediately formed and the issue resolved.
Tension had erupted in Noor-e-Ilahi area of northeast Delhi’s Babarpur constituency on November 10, Monday, when parts of a cow’s carcass were found at a market place.
Two months ago, on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha (few days after Dushera) posters were put up by Hindu Krnati Sena in Bawana in North-West Delhi urging the youth to ‘take oath’ to prevent cow slaughter and that “truthful Hindus should come forward” to “raise voice against the constant threat to Hindu religion.” Communal tension was simmering, but prompt action and large number of deployment of force thwarted any attempt at disturbing the peace in the locality.
Weeks later, Trliokpuri in East Delhi saw another communal flare up during Diwali that continued for two days and could be controlled only after imposing curfew. It has been alleged that the Delhi Police remained mute spectator for over two days at least as communal pitch rose in Trilokpuri area leading to stone pelting and firing, injuring several. The Police, however, later swung into action and arrested several people.
The latest example was the communal pitch that was raised in Bawana once again on the occasion of Muharram. A mahapanchayat of Delhi villages was called 15 days ago opposing Muharram procession. Interestingly, as per the media reports, the Bawana resettlement colony residents had alleged that such a large number of people were allowed to gather, chant provoking and communal slogans and make statements, even when they had no written permission from the local administration.
The mahapanchayat was called by Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena to put up a “united Hindu front” opposing “nuisance created in the name of Muharram procession.” Posters were put up in the locality urging people to assemble in large number against open show of arms, “illegal show of strength” and “nuisance” created in the name of Muharram. Rabid communalism was on display at the Bawana mahapanchayat, very similar to a mahapanchayat last year that triggered the Muzaffarnagar-Shamli riots.
Besides attempts at polarisation of votes at these three places, there is another common and significant thread binding them: all these places are suburbs in the national capital, where poor labourers and working class migrant labourers, often shifted / displaced / rehabilitated from various slums live. The Muslim pockets in Bawana are Jhuggi Jhompri (JJ) colonies, whereas JJ colonies in Madanpur Khadar came up after people from slums from where now electronic market at the Nehru Place stands, were shifted few decades ago.
Like Muzaffarnagar-Shamli, the Hindu population comprised Jats, an OBC caste, in Bawana, while both in Trilokpuri and in Madanpur Khadar majority of population comprised Dalits. Bawana otherwise is an SC reserved seat, where the BJP candidate Gugan Singh had won the 2013 Assembly election. Asif Mohamamd Khan had won the Okhla seat. He had shifted to Congress few months before the election. In Trilokpuri, it was the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate who had won.
Incidentally, during the Lok Sabha 2014 polls, BJP’s debutant Mahesh Giri – under the apparent ‘Modi wave – had defeated sitting Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit from East Delhi. Both Madanpur Khadar and Trilokpuri are part of the same Lok Sabha constituency.
Babarpur constituency, which roughly has 63:37 Hindus-Muslims population, is a BJP stronghold for last four consecutive elections when Naresh Gaur won it for the saffron party. Congress’ Zakir Khan was second with nearly 26% of votes while AAP’s Gopal Rai managed above 22% votes.
The Congress party is already at its lowest ebb and if any other party which stands to lose from such polarisation in Delhi in the coming election, it will be the Aam Aadmi Party. Perhaps, AAP too realized the gravity of the situation as the party directed its former MLAs and Vidhan Sabha convenors in all 70 assembly segments to “immediately take concrete steps to foil such evil designs in the national capital.” The announcement of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMM) to contest election in Delhi may not be good news either that might cut into a section of Muslim votes.
Although there is no direct evidence to prove that the Sangh Parivar is instigating these violent flare ups, it is clear that whether or not the party distances itself from these attempts at communal polarisation, it will be the BJP that will gain.
The Hindutva party is involved in another interesting social engineering that requires further probe and exhaustive research. In keeping with its façade of the development agenda, the saffron brigade is also attempting to shed its Brahmanical mask, or at least trying to portray itself as more inclusive.
Several Dalit leaders had either aligned with them or joined the party in the run up to the general elections, including Ram Vilas Paswan, Udit Raj, Ramdas Athawle, among others. More attempts on the similar lines are likely in the run up to Delhi polls too.
In effect, the BJP is likely to expand both its experiment models – the ‘communal polarisation’ for SC/OBC and polarization of dalits into saffron fold – and try more and more such experiments for a greater impact during the upcoming assembly elections in Delhi.