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Archives for : March2017

Tribal students’ body locks Ranchi College over ‘saffronisation’

Ranchi College

Students burning an effigy of chief minister Raghubar Das and RSS while protesting the new name Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee university of Ranchi college at Morhabadi campus in Ranchi on Monday(Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)

A tribal student body locked Ranchi College, forced suspension of classes and stopped around 300 students from performing at a a pre-Sarhul celebration at the governor’s house on Monday in protest against the rechristening of the college as Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University.

The students alleged that naming the college after Mukherjee was an effort by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to saffronise the education system in Jharkhand.

Mukherjee was the founder of BJP and an ex-minister in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet. He had quit the Indian National Congress and founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which later became BJP.

On Monday, over a hundred members of Adivasi Chhatra Sangh (ACS), a tribal student body, locked the main gate of the college and burnt the effigy of chief minister Raghubar Das amid anti-BJP slogans reverberating at Morhabadi locality of the Jharkhand capital.

“We want the university to be named after a local academician, or freedom fighter. The government has paid no heed to our demands and named the university after a right wing leader. Why should we allow our students to perform at the governor’s house for Sarhul?” said Akash Kacchap, vice president of the Ranchi College student council.

Sarhul is one of the largest tribal festivals celebrated across Jharkhand and parts of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Bengal.

Kacchap added that the entire tribal student community stood united against the “diktat” of the government.

Founded in 1926, Ranchi College received autonomous status from the University Grants Commission (UGC) on January 9, 2009. The Jharkhand cabinet in October 2015 decided to accord university status to Ranchi College, which currently imparts education to at least 4000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. It is the first college in Jharkhand to get state university status.

However, several student bodies have been up in arms against the government since it proposed to name the university after Mukherjee. Several protest marches and signature campaigns by student unions followed soon after the recommendation was made about a month ago.

Jharkhand Chhatra Morcha (JCM), the student wing of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, had recommended renaming the college as Param Veer Albert Ekka University. Ekka, a son of the soil, was martyred in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Ranchi also has a famous square named after him.

The All India Students’ Federation (AISF) has joined hands with the JCM to protest the alleged efforts to saffronise education here. All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) too has expressed discontentment over the government’s decision.

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UP – Cousins held under anti-Romeo drive, cops take bribe to free them

The policemen claimed they had taken action against the boy and the girl under the anti-Romeo drive.

Two policemen were suspended on Tuesday for allegedly taking bribe from two cousins, whom they had detained during the Uttar Pradesh Police’s anti-Romeo drive in Rampur last week.

When contacted, the SP of Rampur, K K Chaudhary, said Sub-Inspector Sanjeev Giri and Constable Vimal Kumar had been suspended on charges of corruption. “The two policemen were seen taking bribe from a young boy and a girl, whom they had detained. Though there is no official complaint against the policemen, departmental action has been taken against the two after a video showing them taking bribe went viral,” he added.

According to reports, Giri and Vimal had detained a youth and his uncle’s daughter, both aged around 18, when they came to Rampur to purchase medicines from Hashmat Ganj village. The policemen claimed they had taken action against the boy and the girl under the anti-Romeo drive.

The two were kept at a police outpost for a couple of hours, said sources, adding that the policemen refused to let the cousins go even after their relatives clarified that they were relatives and not a couple.

“The policemen allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 5,000 to free the boy and girl. The relatives gave the amount and also filmed the two accepting the bribe,” said the SP. The kin of the victims later approached local MLA and Minister Baldev Singh Aulakh, who informed the SP about the incident.

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Journalists walk out of Bombay HC after Chellur J pulled up reporter for wearing jeans

Bombay HC Chief Justice Rebukes Reporters for Wearing Jeans
She asked if wearing T-shirts and jeans to court was ‘Bombay culture’?
Ten journalists on Wednesday staged a walkout from Bombay High Court while a divisional bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice GS Kulkarni was hearing the matter of the doctors’ strike in Maharashtra. Senior court reporters present in the room say that Justice Chellur lost her cool and pulled up two male reporters for wearing T-shirts and jeans to court, asking if it was “Bombay culture”.

Several journalists took to Twitter immediately to voice their discontent about what they see as moral policing.

The Incident

During the hearing, Chief Justice Chellur brought up the matter of how the doctors’ strike was being reported in the media. In particular, she had strong objections to the fact that media outlets were publishing not only the court order, but also questions asked and observations made by the judges during the hearing – a practise as old as time in court reporting. Paraphrasing her, a senior reporter from Hindustan Times said Justice Chellur told the journalists that one must not write everything that happens during a hearing.

Continuing to express her indignation at journalists, she picked out two male reporters standing near the dais. One was wearing jeans with a T-shirt, while the other wore jeans with a shirt. Singling them out, Justice Chellur took exception to what they were wearing, asking if their dress code was worth appreciating and whether coming to court like that was “Bombay culture.”

Bombay HC CJ pulls up male reporter for wearing Jeans and T-Shirt during Court proceedings. Asks if this is Mumbai culture ?

@Vivekjkulkarni So maybe there is a unknown defined courtroom dress code. But how does HC decide to define what Mumbai culture is?😕🙄

Shocked to know Bombay High Court CJ’s comment is it proper to wear T shirts & jeans in the court. Can I ask why gown? It’s British legacy.

She rhetorically directed the question towards BMC’s counsel, who replied it was not.

Following this, without saying a word, ten print and TV reporters staged a walkout from the hearing, venting their frustration on social media.

The Bombay HC should erect a banner in the premises that says- Only Dhoti-Kurta wearing ‘Sanskaari’ journalists welcome 

BMC counsel concedes : not appropriate for journalist to wear jeans to court asks is this Bombay culture @the_hindu @Mumbai_Connect

A’Dress’ing The Court

The Bombay High Court is a heritage building situated in Fort, and is open to all public without a pass. Many tourists frequent the building on a daily basis. According to senior reporters, the policemen who man the gates of the court, have been known to frequently disallow people, sometimes even tourists, if they’re wearing sleeveless tops or shorts. They exercise a discretionary power to prohibit someone from entering the court based on no written dress code guidelines by the Bombay High Court.

Reporters staged walkout after Bombay HC CJ Manjula Chellur asked if jeans and T-shirt is proper dress code to wear to court.

@RosySequeiraTOI @richapintoTOI A dress code can be prescribed only for those on the bench & at the bar. Not the audience/visitors & press.

In 2015, for instance, a Hindustan Times reporter, Priya Pathiyan was not allowed to enter the court because she was wearing a sleeveless top. They backed up their decision with a 2011 notification, asking people to be dressed ‘decently’. Who decides what is decent or not is not mentioned, though the notice does specify that the rule was for litigants only.

In national award winning movie ‘Court’ there is a scene where a woman’s case is not heard because she is wearing a skirt. exists 

@richa_singh yes, and a sleeveless top! Cops at BombayHC also stop litigants/visitors in ‘non-sanskari’ attire from entering courtrooms!

CJ now has issues with journos wearing jeans to court! Why can’t the CJ work as per the mandate given by the Constitution. Cheap!!


The Supreme Court and the Kerala High Court are two instances where specific instructions have been issued to journalists for accreditation, including wearing “modest clothes and sober clothes”.

This is the first time a judge has exceeded her legal brief in this regard at the Bombay HC. The journalists are considering writing to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court about the incident

And speaking of members of the Bar, one lawyer tweeted this:

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JNU Students March to UGC, Struggle to Continue

UGC protest

JNU students and teachers took out a demonstration today, against the UGC gazette notification of 2016. Thousands of students and teachers gathered in front of UGC today. A small scuffle took place between the protesters and the police.

We talked to the JNUSU Vice President Amal P.P. “A panel of representatives from JNUSU and JNUTA are waiting to talk to the UGC Chairperson. 4 teachers, JNUSU president and I, and 4 other MA final year students are waiting for the Chairperson of UGC for past 45 minutes. During our last visit as well, they made us wait. Last time, the UGC chairperson did not come at all. Only a Mr. Jagdish from UGC came and met us. He took the memorandum and walked away.”, he said.

“Police has lathicharged our peaceful protest. Many students have been hurt, some of them have even been hospitalized”, Amal added.

The UGC gazette enforced on JNU has led to a massive seat cut for research programmes. JNU is primarily a research university with 67% of the students enrolled in research. It has faced a huge set-back with the new UGC implementation. M.Phil and Ph.D seats in JNU have been drastically cut down by 84%. The seats have been reduced from 1,234 last year to 194 this year.

With the new prospectus, there would be no admissions for research this year in centres like Centre for Sociology, Centre for Pol. Science, Centre for History, Centre for Indian Languages and many more. The seats have been slashed in many other important centres as well. JNU’s oldest School, School of International Studies, will offer MPhil/PhD seats in only 3 out of 13 centres.

Three schools –School of physical sciences, School of computational and School of integrative sciences, and biotechnology – and two special Centres – Centre for law and governance and Special Centre for Sanskrit studies – have no seats for the integrated MPhil-PhD programme.

The JNUSU has also continuously pointed how the current Vice Chancellor, on diktats of the RSS, is dismantling the core structure of the University. Their press release on 3rd Jan read:

“The VC is repeatedly tampering with the autonomy and quality of the University in deciding course curriculum through his insistence on imposing courses dictated by the partisan views of the government of the day. For example, while JNU has no specialisation or departments related to areas like AYUSH, the VC forced the decision that the ‘AYUSH fellowship holders will be allowed to take admissions’ and also that the ‘AYUSH degrees can be considered for equivalence by centres’, without offering any academic rationale as to which centres and faculty will admit such students! In a situation where the already existing academic infrastructure is crumbling down, where no new hostel has been constructed for students, the sudden moves to introduce such spurious proposals is nothing but a toast to the loyalty of the JNU administration to the political agenda of the RSS-dictated government, at the cost of academic rigour and the inclusive infrastructure of JNU.”  Read more here.

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Nalanda University vice-chancellor accused of sheltering student charged with sexual harassment

Students at the Nalanda University have accused their vice-chancellor of trying to bury a sexual harassment case and ignoring repeated grave complaints against a particular student.

Nalanda University


The interim vice-chancellor of Nalanda University has been accused of trying to bury a sexual harassment filed against a student in the college, and of protecting him from being rusticated.

In response to the vice-chancellor’s inaction, several students have taken out a protest against him in the university, demanding his expulsion.

Vice-Chancellor Pankaj Mohan is said to have ignored and discouraged the student who was sexually harassed and her colleagues when they approached him with the complaint, invoking the university’s “reputation”.

Speaking to, a student of Nalanda University said that the issue has been ignored since 2015, when a first-year female student approached Mohan for the first time with the sexual harassment case against the man in question.

“He [Mohan] was her mentor back then,” said the student. “When she informally complained to him about this man, who was her classmate, the professor shrugged off the matter.”

She added that Mohan then told the complainant, “Biharis are like that.”


Students took out a protest on Tuesday demanding the vice-chancellor’s resignation, suspension of the accused student, and demanding the university to file an FIR regarding the sexual harassment case.

So far, the only action taken has been of shifting the accused student from one hostel to another.

“The student in question has been a repeat offender in the university campus,” the student, who did not want to be named, said, speaking to “Since his first year, he has repeatedly defamed female students on social media, harassed people, and also committed sexual harassment.”

“When he sexually harassed a student, she approached Professor Mohan, but he ignored it,” she said. “Since then, there have been multiple complaints made against this fellow but no action has ever been taken.”

Last month, a student body came together at Nalanda University and filed three formal complaints against the accused, now a second-year Master’s student.

In the light of these complaints, the university’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) took up the matter and called for a hearing.

“The accused did not even bother to attend the ICC hearing,” said the student.

After hearing the complaints, the ICC ruled that the accused student should be rusticated. However, it is not in the hands of the ICC to carry out this action, which is why they made the recommendation to the vice chancellor.

Despite the ICC’s recommendation to rusticate the accused, Vice-Chancellor Mohan is said to have taken no action.

“It has been over a week since the ICC made the recommendation, the VC has still not done anything about it,” said the student. “He keeps asking us to have ‘faith’ in the system, but that is not working.”

As for the accused, he is still said to be in the campus, only having been made to change hostels.

“In case of sexual harassment, the first step taken by the authorities here is segregation, which is to immediately separate the accused from the victims in classes, hostels, etc.” said the student. “In this case, that was done over a week later.”

Sources told that between 2015 and 2016, since the accused was in first-year, there have a series of complaints made against him by several students, female and male alike.

“Most importantly, it is not like the university was not aware of the accused student’s actions. He harassed and defamed people publicly, on social media, etc. It has been overlooked time and again,” she said.

The accused is also said to have sent death threats to the protesting students and the university’s registrar.


Vice-Chancellor Mohan has in turn accused the students of harassing him and other faculty members. Instead of protesting, he demanded the students to return to their classrooms and resume studying.

“I am awaiting the chairman of the governing body’s approval to execute the report’s recommendations. I have a limited powers as acting vice-chancellor,” Mohan told

He has told the student’s to “have faith in the system” and that actions will be taken.

Students, on the other hand, claim that there have been other cases of sexual harassment regarding other people which he has not addressed either.

The vice chancellor’s office has still not filed any FIR against the accused, as the protesting students have demanded.

In fact, there has been no individual FIR filed in the case so far either.

Latest report is that police was summoned at the Nalanda University campus earlier today as the students continue their protest.

[Names of the students have been withheld per request]


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Bihar – Suspected to be witch, elderly Dalit woman burnt alive #WTFnews


A Dalit woman was on Tuesday burnt alive for allegedly practising witchcraft in Bihar’s Purnea district.(HT File/ Representational Photo)

A Dalit woman, who was in her late 70s, was on Tuesday burnt alive for allegedly practising witchcraft in Bihar’s Purnea district, police said on Tuesday.

Ramavati Devi was burnt alive by a group of people in Kanp village under Mohanpur police station.

“Ramavati, a poverty-stricken woman, was first beaten and then burnt alive by her neighbours, who suspected her of practising witchcraft,” a police official said.

A case was lodged against six accused and four others on the statement of the victim’s daughter-in-law, he said.

“Police have arrested one accused and began investigation into the case. We will arrest all the accused soon,” the police official said.

The practice of branding women as witches and torturing them continues unabated in remote rural areas of Bihar. In the last two years, more than 250 women have been tortured and beaten on suspicion of practising witchcraft, police records say.

A couple of years ago, the Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) directed the state government to expedite probes and trials of cases related to offences under the Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 1999.

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KFC, 300 meat shops forced to close by ‘Shiv Sainiks’ in Gurgaon for Navratri

Hindustan Times
Shiv Sena

Protesters who said they were from the Shiv Sena forced meat shops in DLF, Sushant Lok, Sohna Road and Badshahpur areas to close.(HT PHOTO)

Protestors who claimed to be from Shiv Sena shut more than 300 meat shops, including an outlet of popular fast food chain KFC, in Gurgaon’s popular Sector 14 on Tuesday morning for Navratri, the nine-day Hindu festival where devotees eat vegetarian food.

The protestors also want all meat shops in the area closed every Tuesday, when they say Hindus are barred from eating meat. On Wednesday morning, they turned to the shops in new Gurgaon areas, including DLF, Sushant Lok, Sohna Road and Badshahpur areas.

Shiv Sena, however, distanced itself from the incident following news reports that Sena activists forcibly closed mutton shops in Gurgaon. “There’s no spokesperson by this name (Ritu Raj) in Shiv Sena. We didn’t carry out any such drive in Gurugram,” said Harshal Pradhan, media advisor to Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The self-proclaimed Shiv Sena men had targeted shops in Gurgaon’s busy Sadar Bazar areas on old Delhi-Gurgaon road on Tuesday.

“A number of Hindus keep fast on Navratri and on Tuesday of every week. It does not feel good to see meat being sold and served on these days. Most of shopkeepers have supported the move and we consulted those who resisted,” said Ritu Raj, who claimed to be the district spokesperson of Shiv Sena.

Raj claimed most of the shops forced to down shutters were “illegal” as they did not have the licence to operate. “Most of them do not follow proper procedures laid down for meat shops,” he said, adding that the shops were sent prior notices.

A Gurgaon police spokesperson said no complaint was received so far but action would be taken if shops were being forced shut in violation of norms.

On Wednesday morning, the alleged Shiv Sainiks targeted meat shops in DLF, Sushant Lok, Sohna Road and Badshahpur areas. (HT Photo)

Meanwhile, a KFC spokesperson said, “As a responsible corporate citizen, KFC operates in compliance with the laws of the land. We have not received any notification from the authorities on limiting operations during the Navratras or Tuesdays. We would like to reiterate that KFC has the highest respect for the cultural and religious beliefs of all communities and believe that consumers are free to make choices and decisions.”

The incident comes amid a meat strike in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh as shopkeepers in India’s largest meat-producing state say they are being harassed by state officials. The strike comes on the back of a state government drive to seal illegal slaughterhouses in the state – a move that is being seen as targeting the Muslim community who form an overwhelming majority of the butcher community. Many meat shops have been set on fire in UP over the past week.

In Gurgaon, however, some meat shop owners say they don’t have a problem with the demands. Shakir, a meat shop owner in Sector 9, said though the action was against norms, he did not have any objection to keeping his shop closed to respect religious sentiments.

But other shopkeepers are considering approaching police against forced closures. “We are discussing with other shopkeepers and may make a police complaint,” said a shopkeeper on Pataudi Road.

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Stand Against Religious Bigotry, Defend Democratic Rights of all Citizens of India

People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) condemns the murder of rationalist H. Farook in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu on March 16, 2017. Farook was a member of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (Dravidian Freedom Organisation) which is inspired by the rationalist ideas of Periyar.


According to the police, the six men who killed Farook were self-radicalised and ‘claimed that their radical thought had justified the murder of a Muslim who had deviated from faith and they are proud of what they had done’. After Dr. Dabholkar, Com Govind Pansare and Professor Kalburgi, Farook is the fourth rationalist who has been murdered by the so called champions of religion. On the same day, i.e. March 16 Prof Narendra Nayak, the president of Indian Federation of Rationalist Associations was threatened with assault in Bangalore.


On March 19 in Jaipur a group of gau rakshaks led by one Sadhvi Kamal Didi vandalised a hotel and assaulted its staff claiming that it served beef. This violence occurred in the presence of the police. A repeat of Dadri violence last year was narrowly averted. In UP a number of meat shops have been burnt down by vigilante mobs after Mahant Adityanath Yogi’s administration sealed a number of abbatoirs. While it is beyond dispute that economic activity should be regulated, why have only these two activities been targeted, and what right to mobs have to attack any shop?


These are some of the latest instances of increasing violence in the name of religion in India. In fact, all of South Asia has become a battleground for religiousfanatics hell-bent upon subjugating citizens’ freedoms via violence and killings.


Dissent from orthodoxy is a feature of religious history and is responsible for religious reform. Such dissent has also contributed to the growth of humanist and democratic values, which are the guiding principles of the Indian constitution and underlie the fundamental rights of all citizens. These rights include the freedom of conscience, the freedom of believers to profess and practice their religion, and also the freedom of non-believers to lead a life of dignity with their agnosticism or atheism.


However, state authorities often disregard constitutional provisions. Rather than upholding the citizens’ freedom to lead a life of their choice, including the right to eat food of their choice, police and judicial system routinely penalise citizens for ‘hurting religious sentiments’ of one or the other community. Murderers of Dabholkar, Panasare and Kalburgi are at large, and their political patrons have suffered no damage. In Jaipur police sealed a hotel on a mere allegation, while the FIR for violence on hotel staff does not even mention the sadhavi who led the mob.


Violence in the name of religion will not lead to any golden age. The consequences of religious authoritarianism are visible in Pakistan. The Hindutva brigade is cultivating a similar scenario in India. It wants to attack or threaten all those who disagree with its ideas or diktats. Political parties must realise that their existence depends upon the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Indian citizens. The cultivation of religious aggression is sheer opportunism; and prepares the ground for the sabotage of democracy by authoritarian forces.


P.A.D.S. appeals to all Indians, irrespective of their religious beliefs, creed, or caste to stand against communal hatred and violence. The people committing or instigating this violence may appear to be targeting only rationalists and minorities today. In actual fact they are enemies of democracy and freedom. All of us who value our constitutional rights must unite to defeat such forces. P.A.D.S. demands that state authorities stop collaborating hooligans and vigilante mobs, and fulfil their sworn duty to protect the lives, property and civil liberties of all citizens.

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NHRC U-turn, says state need not compensate Palghar girls arrested after Bal Thackeray funeral #WTFnews

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that Maharashtra state government need not compensate the two girls, who were arrested for questioning the state-wide bandh on Facebook, following Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s death, according to a report in Mumbai Mirror.

On November 19, 2012, the day after Thackeray’s funeral, Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan from Palghar were arrested for questioning the state-wide bandh in a Facebook post. “With all respect, everyday, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on. Just due to one politician died a natural death, everyone just goes bonkers… Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect (sic),“ Dhada had written. Renu had just liked the post.

Their arrest resulted in a nationwide outrage, with the NHRC demanding that the state compensate the two girls. The state, in its defence, said, “The girls had to be arrested keeping in view the tense situation ‘and claimed that ‘all the norms and directions of the Supreme Court were observed at the time of arrest’. The state also contended that the action of the police was ‘justifiable for the situation’ and also for “the protection of both the girls“.

On November 4, 2013, a year after the incident, the NHRC directed the Government of Maharashtra to pay Rs 50,000 each to Dhada and Srinivasan for violation of their human rights. When the state refused to do so, NHRC released a scathing press release on July 15, 2014 titled “Pay Rs 50,000 each to two girls or face coercive process in Facebook comments case.“

The state finally responded to the order only last year. “The action of police was justifiable for the situation and also for the protection of both the girls. Therefore, the case is not fit for any compensation.”

The NHRC accepted the state’s contention and closed the case. “The Commission has considered the report of the State Government and is of the view that it is not necessary to keep this matter pending on the Board. Therefore, we leave it to both the victims to take such measures which are permissible under the law to implement the recommendations made by this Commission vide its proceedings dated 4.11.2013.”

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Tamil Nadu youth killed for being an atheist, father says he too will become one

According to police, clues from Farook’s mobile phone, which was found at the murder spot, led to the arrests.

h farook , atheist murder, atmil nadu farook murder, bengaluru, bengaluru bomb blast, bengaluru news, farook, Tamil Nadu atheist, athiest killed, Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam, india newsFor my son, I was his best friend, says HameedTHE FATHER of H Farook, the atheist who was murdered in Coimbatore 10 days ago, allegedly by members of a Muslim radical group, has said that if his son was killed for his views, he too would become an atheist.

Speaking to The Indian Express, 54-year-old R Hameed said, “If the police version is true, that he was murdered by a radical Muslim group, then they killed my son using wrong interpretations of the Quran. The Quran is one holy book that insists on and allows the right of dissent since the time of the Prophet. If they killed him for being an atheist, I have decided to join his organisation and do what he did.”

Fighting to hold back tears, Hameed said, “For my son, I was always his best friend. Even when he refused to attend the wedding of a close relative to avoid taking part in the religious rituals, I did not insist.”

Tamil Nadu Youth Hacked To Death For Being An Atheist, His Father Says He Too Will Become One

Hameed, however, admitted that he was concerned about his son’s “assertive” atheism. “He was very assertive. He wouldn’t attend family functions as he would have had to pray there. I did not know that he was part of a movement for a long period. But my wife used to tell me to leave him alone as he never imposed his views on others, even his wife Rasheeda. He respected others.”

Farook, a member of the Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (DVK), was Hameed’s elder son and used to run a scrap business in Ukkadam, near Coimbatore. On March 16, the 31-year-old was hacked to death, 15 days after he posted a photo of one of his children holding a placard with the handwritten slogan “Kadavul illai, Kadavul illai, Kadavul illai (No God, No God, No God)”.

“A relative called me at around 12.10 that night. As I was told of the attack, I started weeping and asking for details. But I realised that the worst had happened when I was told to perform dua (prayers),” said Hameed.

Hailing from a middle-class family in Bilal Estate at Ukkadam, a densely populated Muslim area on the outskirts of Coimbatore town, Farook was born and brought up in Chennai, where Hameed is still working as a caretaker of a private guest house.

Farook’s wife Rasheeda, meanwhile, is yet to accept her husband’s killing; on Thursday evening, their two children were playing together inside their two-storey house in a congested neighbourhood in Ukkadam, unaware of what had happened to their father.

Rasheeda’s brother Shajahan said what had devastated her was that Farook was killed by his friends.

According to Coimbatore police, six people have been arrested in the case, all daily-wage labourers, including the main accused Saddam Hussein, Abdul Munaf and Jaffer Ali, who were known to Farook. Police said all of them have confessed to their role in the murder.

“Rasheeda could not believe that Munaf and Jaffer were behind it, names that were so familiar to her. She has not been having food properly for several days,” said Shajahan, who runs a a small software business at Coimbatore.

“Having been brought up in Chennai, Farook had liberals view on religion. Many of his friends in Chennai were not Muslims and he was not following the religion strictly,” said Shajahan.

Munaf was also part of the atheist WhatsApp group ‘Allahu Murdhath’ run by Farook. Jaffer, who befriended Farook recently to start a scrap business, later left following disagreements over religion and God.

According to police, clues from Farook’s mobile phone, which was found at the murder spot, led to the arrests. Munaf called Farook out from home, at around 11.20 pm, on the night of the murder, they said. “Before the murder, there were three outgoing calls from Farook’s phone to the same number,” an officer said.

Police also found the owner of Farook’s SIM card, Sajuddin, who lives the life of a fakir, visiting shops carrying camphor lanterns. A resident of Walajapet near Vellore, about 400 km from Coimbatore, police traced Sajuddin to his native home in Vellore on the night of murder.

“He revealed that he had given his photo and ID card to one of the accused Ansath, a small-time real estate agent in Podanur near Coimbatore, for a loan that he was promised by a relative. By when our team landed at Ansath’s house on the outskirts of Coimbatore city, he had gone missing. He surrendered at a local court in Coimbatore,” said the officer.

According to police, Ansath used the photo and IDs of Sajuddin to obtain a new SIM card and gave it to Saddam Hussein, another accused.

“Most of the accused returned to the murder spot after fleeing initially. Munaf and Jaffer were there and later at the hospital, too. It was Munaf who informed Farook’s friends about the murder. He was also questioned by police at the murder spot,” said a senior officer.

Police have claimed that the accused were part of a self-radicalised group and had taken a vow to eliminate those who challenge their religion and faith. But relatives and close friends of Farook claim that the accused had a criminal background and were not regular at prayers.

“I do not wish to see this as a black-and-white case. Either they acted as hired killers for some other group or were absorbed by radical Islam groups for this crime. The idea of them being radicals does not match their lifestyle. Munaf was not attending prayers at the mosque for almost three months,” said a relative of Farook, who requested anonymity.

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