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Archives for : Minority Rights

Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture – ‘ we need to define whats anti national ‘

Shahid Azmi memorial lecture: ‘We need to define what’s anti-national’
Justice AM Thipsay (second from right) and other speakers at the Shahid Azmi memorial lecture organised by the Innocence Network

Is it in the interest of the nation to detain an innocent, asks Justice Thipsay.

Protection of your civil rights can be ensured by the judiciary alone. Every executive wants a weak judiciary. The only guarantee of a fearless judiciary is the support of the Bar. Advocate Shahid Azmi was a symbol of fearless advocacy necessary for the independence of the judiciary.”

These were the concluding remarks of Justice AM Thipsay, who retired as a judge of the Allahabad High Court, and was earlier with the Bombay High Court.

He was delivering the Shahid Azmi memorial lecture organised by the Innocence Network.

The Network has been set up by Abdul Wahid Shaikh, the only 2006 Mumbai train blasts accused to be acquitted, to fight for the innocence of his fellow accused.

The theme of the lecture was ‘Terror Trials’. Justice Thipsay, who had dealt with a number of terror cases, discussed the special provisions of antiterror laws, which he described as ‘draconian’.

Some of these, like the admissibility of confessions by the accused before police officers of a certain rank, or, production of the accused before executive magistrates, had no logical rationale, said the judge.

The judge spoke of the pressure created on judges trying terror cases by these special provisions, which went against normal principles of law applicable in normal cases, and which curtailed the discretion of the court. The use of terms such as ‘anti-national’ and ‘national interest’, the appearance of senior state prosecutors, the aggressive tone used by the police while deposing, all this created a certain type of atmosphere in the courtroom, he said. A judge could start thinking that he could be considered anti-national if he gave an order that favoured the accused. So he could be tempted to stick to ‘safe’ orders.

“We need to define the term antinational,” said the judge. “What is meant by the term nation? Is it the land or the people? Which people? Only those with a certain culture, or all who live here? Is it in the interest of the nation to detain an innocent?”

“We are a civilised society which wants to prove guilt through civilised methods,” said the judge, known for his controversial orders. “Evidence has to be judged on the basis of facts, whatever the offence. Ultimately, conviction without evidence is a threat to the rule of law.”

A crimeless society need not be the best society, said Thipsay. It’s only one attribute for a good life. We need to find out how offenders are created.

The judge expressed scepticism about the new ordinance prescribing death for rapists of children acting as a deterrent for rape. The only deterrent to crime is the certainty of being caught, he said.

According to the judge, if investigative agencies did their work efficiently and without bias, there would be no need for special anti- terror laws.

Advocates Monica Sakhrani and Wahab Khan recalled the late Shahid Azmi’s work. He was gunned down in his office in Kurla on February 11, 2010.

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Viral video claims one ‘Mohammed Ilyas’ arrested for Kathua incident; What’s the truth?

A video has been circulated widely on social media, in which a person is seen handcuffed and escorted by policemen. The message along with this video claims that a person called Mohammed Ilyas has been arrested and is one of the accused in the rape and murder of the 8-year old girl in Kathua, Jammu in January.

As can be seen in the video posted above, the man is being escorted by a posse of policemen. His face is blackened by bystanders and he is also slapped by a woman. The claim that he is one of the accused in the horrific rape and murder case of Kathua is viral across different platforms on social media.

What is the truth?

Alt News fact checked this claim and found that it is NOT related to the Kathua rape and murder case. The video posted below was uploaded by News Nation on April 05, 2018 and it states that the incident occurred in Uttar Pradesh where a youth accused of raping a 13-year old girl was beaten up in the presence of policemen.

Interestingly, another article from Dainik Bhaskar dated April 20, 2018 reported about the incident in the ‘Union Territory’ section, referring to Chandigarh. The headline read, ‘Rape accused’s face blackened, beaten with slippers, video viral’ (translated).

Since two different sources ascribed two different locations to the video, we decided to investigate further. From the visual cues in the clip, we found that the video is probably from Madhya Pradesh. This inference was arrived at through two clues- the insignia on the policeman’s uniform and the number plate of the police vehicle. As can be seen from the image below, the insignia of ‘MP Police’ is visible on the shoulder of the policeman. The number of the vehicle is MP 02 3431.

We also spotted signboards in the video. One of them read what seemed like ‘Arshi Kendra Hanumangarh or (Hanumanganj)’. Another signboard that we spotted in the video read what seemed like ‘Fani Trading Company’.

However, the above information wasn’t enough to determine the exact time and location of the above video. We posted a slowed down version of the video on Facebook and sought information from the public with regard to the origin of the video. Some users on Facebook pointed out that the incident is from Hanumanganj area of Bhopal.

Based on these clues, we zeroed in on Bhopal. The incident had occurred in the Hanumanganj area of the city. Alt News spoke to Sudhesh Tiwari, Town Inspector (SHO) at Hanumanganj police station in Bhopal. He confirmed, “This video is from here. He has been accused of raping a 13-year old girl. We were taking him to court when people blackened his face and women beat him up as an expression of public anger. He was accused of raping a 13-year old girl due to which he was assaulted by the people.”

Later, we found that this incident had also been reported accurately by www.eenaduindia.comon April 6, 2018. According to the report, the accused is from Uttar Pradesh.

The video is being shared extensively on Facebook where it has been uploaded by popular pages. Individual users too have shared the video with identical textual description which suggests that it is circulating on WhatsApp. This video was shared on a group called अगर आप राजपूत है तो join कीजिये ये ग्रुप, देखते हैं FB पर कितने राजपूत है with over 16,00,000 members and it has been shared more than 20000 times. A person called Gobinda Das also shared it and his post was shared more than 19000 times.

In the aftermath of the Kathua rape and murder case and the resultant public anger, there has been a flurry of fake news about the incident on social media. In this instance, a video from Madhya Pradesh was passed off as that of the Kathua rape accused. The video has been shared thousands of times and is still circulating on various social media platforms.


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कासगंज हिंसाः तथ्यांनवेषण रपट


-सीएसएसएस टीम

पिले कुछ समय से कौन राष्ट्रवादी है और कौन नहीं, इसे परिभाषित करना बहुत आसान बना दिया गया है। अगर आप वन्देमातरम् का नारा लगाते हैं, तो आप राष्ट्रवादी हैं, अन्यथा राष्ट्रद्रोही, अगर आप गाय को माता मानते हैं तो आप देशभक्त हैं, अन्यथा देश के दुश्मन। ऐसा ही एक नया चलन है मुस्लिम-बहुल इलाकों में हिन्दू श्रेष्ठतावादियों द्वारा शक्ति प्रदर्शन और अपना प्रभुत्व जमाने के लिए मोटर साईकिल रैलियां निकाली जाना। बिहार के भागलपुर में रामनवमी के अवसर पर निकाली गई ऐसी ही एक रैली के बाद साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा हुई थी।

यही कहानी उत्तरप्रदेश के कासगंज में 26 जनवरी, 2018 को दुहराई गई। संकल्प फाउंडेशन नामक एक संस्था के झंडे तले, कासगंज के कुछ युवाओं ने एक मोटरसाईकिल रैली निकाली। वे जब एक मुस्लिम-बहुल इलाके से गुजर रहे थे, तब उन्होंने यह मांग की कि स्थानीय मुस्लिम रहवासियों द्वारा आयोजित झंडा वंदन कार्यक्रम के लिए रखी गई कुर्सियां हटाई जाएं ताकि रैली आगे बढ़ सके। इसके बाद हुई हिंसा में चंदन गुप्ता नामक एक युवक को गोली लग गई और बाद में उसने अस्पताल में दम तोड़ दिया। एक अन्य युवक नौशाद को भी पैर में गोली लगी। यह हिंसा 28 जनवरी तक जारी रही, जिसके दौरान हिन्दू श्रेष्ठतावादियों के उकसावे और नेतृत्व में मुसलमानों की दुकानों को आग के हवाले कर दिया गया।

सेंटर फॉर स्टडी ऑफ़ सोसायटी एंड सेक्युलरिज्म (सीएसएसएस) का एक तथ्यांवेषण दल, इस हिंसा की जांच करने कासगंज गया। इस दल में सेंटर के निदेशक, लेखक व सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता इरफान इंजीनियर, सेंटर की उप-निदेशक नेहा दाबाड़े व सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता अकरम अख्तर चैधरी, जो अफकार इंडिया फाउंडेशन से जुड़े हुए हैं, शामिल थे। दल ने चंदन गुप्ता और सलीम के परिवारों के अतिरिक्त, स्थानीय दुकानदारों, पत्रकारों, बड्डूनगर इलाके के रहवासियों, जिले के पुलिस अधीक्षक, कांग्रेस नेता शशिलता चौहान, बीएसपी नेता राजीव शर्मा एवं व्यवसायी अनुपम शर्मा से बातचीत की।

दल इस निष्कर्ष पर पहुंचा कि उत्तरप्रदेश में साम्प्रदायिक राजनीति को बढ़ावा दिया जा रहा है। अपनी गंगा-जमुनी तहजीब के लिए विख्यात यह राज्य, साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा के लिए भी कुख्यात है।

अलग-अलग कथाएं

विभिन्न लोगों से बातचीत के दौरान, कासगंज में दो अलग-अलग कहानियां सामने आईं। पहली कहानी चंदन गुप्ता के पिता सुशील गुप्ता की है। सुशील गुप्ता के अनुसार, संकल्प फाउंडेशन युवाओं का एक संगठन है जो गरीबों को भोजन, कपड़े, कबंल आदि बांटने जैसे परोपकारी कार्य करता है। उनके अनुसार, चंदन गुप्ता भी ऐसी परोपकारी गतिविधियों में हिस्सा लेता था और वह रक्तदान भी करता था। उनके पिता के अनुसार, उसने अब तक तीन बार रक्तदान किया था और तीनों ही बार संबंधित मरीज मुसलमान थे। उन्होंने हिंसा के लिए केवल बड्डूनगर के मुसलमानों को दोषी ठहराया। उन्होंने उस दिन बनाए गए एक वीडियो की मदद से घटनाक्रम का विवरण दिया।

उन्होंने बताया कि संकल्प फाउंडेशन ने 26 जनवरी को एक मोटरसाईकिल रैली निकालने का निर्णय लिया। उनका दावा था कि रैली में भागीदारी कर रहे सभी नौजवान अपने हाथों में राष्ट्रध्वज लिए हुए थे। जब रैली बड्डूनगर के वीर अब्दुल हमीद चौराहे पर पहुंची तो युवकों ने पाया कि बीच सड़क पर कुर्सियां रखी हुईं हैं। उन्होंने कहा कि कुर्सियों को हटाकर रैली को आगे जाने के लिए रास्ता दिया जाए। सुशील गुप्ता के अनुसार, वहां झंडा वंदन का कार्यक्रम आयोजित नहीं था क्योंकि ऐसे कार्यक्रम अमूमन सुबह-सुबह आयोजित किए जाते हैं और उस समय दिन के 10 बज रहे थे। उनके अनुसार, कुर्सियां हटाने की बजाए वहां के लोगों ने रैली में शामिल युवाओं पर पथराव शुरू कर दिया। असहाय युवकों को अपनी गाड़ियां छोड़कर वहां से भागना पड़ा।

जो वीडियो जांच दल को दिखाया गया, उसमें रैली में भाग ले रहे युवक हाथों में भगवा ध्वज दिखाई दे रहे थे। वे बहुत आक्रामक थे और नारे लगा रहे थे। वीडियो में कहीं भी मुसलमान रैली पर हमला करते हुए नजर नहीं आ रहे हैं।

कासगंज की कांग्रेस नेता शशिलता चौहान ने हिंसा के लिए दोनों समुदायों के युवकों की पुरानी रंजिश को दोषी ठहराया। उनका कहना था कि व्यक्तिगत लड़ाई को साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा का स्वरूप दे दिया गया है। उन्होंने इस बात पर दुःख व्यक्त किया कि हिन्दू और मुस्लिम, दोनों समुदायों के निर्दोष युवकों को पुलिस द्वारा गिरफ्तार किया गया। परंतु उन्होंने चंदन गुप्ता की मौत के बाद भाजपा सांसद राजवीर सिंह द्वारा 26 जनवरी की शाम को दिए गए भाषण को अत्यंत आपत्तिजनक बताते हुए कहा कि उसके कारण हालात बिगड़े और हिंसा शुरू हुई। राजवीर सिंह ने अपने भाषण में कहा, ‘‘मैं पूरी ताकत के  साथ आपके साथ हूं। जो घटना हुई है उसे भुलाया नहीं जा सकता। मैंने कासगंज में इस तरह का गुस्सा पहले कभी नहीं देखा। इस घटना में ‘हमारे लोगों‘ का कोई दोष नहीं है। यह झगड़ा सुनियोजित था, जिसमें ‘हम में से एक‘ मारा गया है। मुझे यह पता लगा है कि चंदन गुप्ता जो ‘हम में से एक‘ था की जान चली गई है‘‘।

क्या कहते हैं मुस्लिम रहवासी

बड्डूनगर के मुस्लिम रहवासियों का कुछ और ही कहना है। डॉ. आसिफ हुसैन का घर बड्डूनगर में अब्दुल हमीद चौराहे पर ही है और 26 जनवरी को रैली उनके घर के सामने से गुजरी थी। उन्होंने बताया कि इस वर्ष पहली बार झंडा वंदन का कार्यक्रम चौराहे पर आयोजित किया गया था। इसके पहले, मुसलमान गणतंत्र दिवस का कार्यक्रम स्कूलों आयोजित करते थे। इस साल मुसलमानों ने तय किया कि वे चौराहे पर झंडा फहराएंगे ताकि वे सरकार और लोगों को यह बता सकें कि मुसलमान भी झंडावंदन करते हैं और देषभक्त हैं। इस कार्यक्रम के लिए व्यापक तैयारियां की गईं थीं और एक स्थानीय नागरिक मुफ्ती कुबेब को 9.30 बजे झंडा फहराने के लिए आमंत्रित किया गया था। कार्यक्रम के लिए छोटे से चौराहे पर कुर्सियां लगाई गईं थीं।

उन्होंने दल को कई वीडियो भी दिखाए, जो मूलतः सीसीटीवी फुटैज थे। इन वीडियो को देखने से यह पता चलता है कि 10 बजे के आसपास 60 से 70 मोटरसाईकिलों की रैली चौराहे पर पहुंची। मोटरसाईकिलों पर सवार कई युवक भगवा झंडे लिए हुए थे। उन्होंने अत्यंत आक्रामकता से मांग की कि रास्ते से कुर्सियां हटा ली जाएं ताकि रैली आगे जा सके। कार्यक्रम के आयोजकों ने युवकों से अनुरोध किया कि वे कुछ देर रूककर कार्यक्रम में भाग लें और उन्हें यह आश्वासन दिया कि उसके बाद कुर्सियां हटा ली जाएंगी और वे आगे जा सकेंगे। रैली में शामिल युवक उत्तेजक नारे लगा रहे थे जिनमें ‘‘हिन्दुस्तान में रहना होगा तो वंदे मातरम् कहना होगा‘‘ और ‘‘राधे-राधे‘‘ शामिल थे। युवकों ने मांग की कि वहां उपस्थित लोग भी ये नारे लगाएं। उन्होंने ये नारे लगाने से इंकार कर दिया और ‘‘गोड़से मुर्दाबाद‘‘ के नारे लगाए। रैली में शामिल एक युवक ने एक लाठी उठाकर एक स्थानीय रहवासी पर हमला कर दिया। इसके बाद स्थानीय लोगों ने युवकों पर कुर्सियां फेंकीं व वहां और भी लोग इकट्ठा हो गए। यह देखकर युवक डर गए और वहां से भाग निकले और तहसील रोड पर दुबारा एकत्रित हुए।

स्थानीय रहवासियों ने उन मोटरसाईकिलों, जिन्हें युवक वहीं छोड़कर भाग गए थे, के रजिस्ट्रेशन नंबर नोट किए और पुलिस को बुलाकर वह सूची उसे सौंप दी। पुलिस ने ये सभी मोटरसाईकिलें जब्त कर लीं। इसके बाद, तहसील रोड पर इकट्ठा युवकों ने सड़क से गुजर रहे मुसलमानों और उनकी दुकानों पर हमले शुरू कर दिए। अब उनके हाथों में लाठियां और कट्टे थे। इसी हिंसा में चंदन गुप्ता और नौशाद को गोली लगी।

जब दल, वीर अब्दुल हमीद चौराहे पहुंचा तो उसने पाया कि वह बहुत संकरा है। चौराहे से जुड़ी गलियों में दो मोटरसाईकिलों का भी एकसाथ गुजरना संभव नहीं है। केवल एक मोटरसाईकिल एक दिशा में चल सकती है और उसे भी रास्ते में कई बार ब्रेकक लगाने पड़ेंगे। वहां से किसी भी मोटरसाईकिल का दस किलोमीटर प्रति घंटे से अधिक रफ्तार से गुजरना मुश्किल है। चौराहे पर रखी कुर्सियों के कारण रास्ता अस्थायी रूप से बंद था। परंतु अगर वहां कुर्सियां न भी रखी होतीं तब भी कोई समझदार व्यक्ति उन पतली गलियों से मोटरसाईकिल रैली निकालने की सोचता तक नहीं। स्पष्टतः वहां से रैली निकालने का एकमात्र लक्ष्य मुसलमानों को डराना या उकसाना था।

पुलिस की भूमिका

इस घटना में पुलिस की भूमिका शर्मनाक थी। पुलिस ने घोर पक्षपातपूर्ण व्यवहार किया, जो उत्तरप्रदेश सरकार के राजनैतिक एजेंडे के अनुरूप था। कासगंज के पुलिस अधीक्षक ने अत्यंत गैर-जिम्मेदाराना रूख अपनाते हुए कहा कि दंगों को रोकना संभव नहीं था क्योंकि दंगाईयों की संख्या, पुलिस से ज्यादा थी।

पुलिस की लापरवाही और पक्षपातपूर्ण कार्यवाही के कई उदाहरण हैं। सबसे पहले, पुलिस ने रैली के बारे में पूर्व सूचना होते हुए भी उसे रोकने का कोई प्रयास नहीं किया। पुलिस ने स्वीकार किया कि संकल्प फाउंडेशन को रैली निकालने की अनुमति नहीं दी गई थी। पुलिस, रैली में शामिल युवकों के खिलाफ कड़ी कार्यवाही कर सकती थी क्योंकि उनकी मोटरसाइकिलें पुलिस के कब्जे में थीं। इन मोटरसाईकिलों के रजिस्ट्रेशन नंबर के आधार पर बहुत आसानी से रैली में भाग लेने वाले युवकों तक पहुंचा जा सकता था। परंतु पुलिस ने बिना कोई रिपोर्ट दर्ज किए मोटरसाईकिलें उनके मालिकों को सौंप दीं।

एफआईआर भी इस तरह से लिखी गईं जिससे दोषियों का बचाव किया जा सके। हिन्दुओं द्वारा मुसलमानों के खिलाफ लिखाई गई एफआईआर में आरोपियों के नाम दर्ज हैं परंतु जिन एफआईआरों के फरियादी मुस्लिम हैं, उनमें कोई नाम नहीं दिया गया है। यहां तक कि जिन दुकानों को नुकसान पहुंचाया गया, उनके और उनके मालिकों के नाम तक एफआईआर में दर्ज नहीं हैं। जाहिर है कि इससे जांच और अभियोजन की प्रक्रिया बहुत कठिन हो जाएगी।

जिन लोगों को गिरफ्तार किया गया है उनमें से अधिकांश निर्दोष मुसलमान हैं। ये वे लोग हैं जो उस समय सड़कों पर थे, जब पुलिस गिरफ्तारियां कर रही थी। कुछ हिंसा के बाद अपनी दुकानें बंद करने आए थे तो कुछ दूध जैसी ज़रूरी चीजें खरीदने बाजार में निकले थे। एक मुस्लिम युवक, जिसे गिरफ्तार किया गया है, शारीरिक दृष्टि से 70 प्रतिशत विकलांग है। एक बुजुर्ग को भी गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया और जब वे जेल में थे, तब उनकी पत्नी गुजर गईं। उनके विरूद्ध गंभीर धाराओं जैसे हत्या, दंगा करने आदि के अंतर्गत मुकदमे दर्ज किए गए हैं। बहुत कम हिन्दुओं के नाम एफआईआर में हैं और अधिकांश आरोपियों को ‘अज्ञात‘ बताया गया है।

सलीम, जिसे चंदन गुप्ता की मौत के मामले में प्रमुख आरोपी बनाया गया है, के पास इस बात का ठोस सुबूत है कि वह उस समय घटनास्थल पर नहीं था। उसके भाई शमीम ने तथ्यांवेषण दल को एक वीडियो दिखाया जिससे ऐसा लगता है कि सलीम, जो कासगंज का प्रतिष्ठित व्यापारी है, 26 जनवरी को 10 बजे एक स्कूल में झंडावदन कार्यक्रम में मौजूद था। अन्य दुकानदारों ने भी यह कहा कि सलीम एक शरीफ आदमी है। यहां यह महत्वपूर्ण है कि सुशील गुप्ता ने अपने बेटे की मौत के 13 घंटे बाद एफआईआर दर्ज करवाई, जिसमें सलीम समेत 20 मुस्लिम रहवासियों को आरोपी बनाया गया, जबकि सलीम उस समय वहां था ही नहीं। इससे ऐसा लगता है कि गुप्ता को कुछ लोगों ने सिखाया-पढ़ाया होगा ताकि निर्दोष नागरिकों को फंसाया जा सके। यह आश्चर्यजनक है कि चंदन को गोली लगने के बाद उसे अस्पताल ले जाने की बजाए पुलिस थाने ले जाया गया। और मजे की बात यह है कि उस समय कोई एफआईआर दर्ज नहीं की गई।


इस घटना से कई सबक सीखे जा सकते हैं। मुस्लिम-बहुल इलाके से मोटरसाईकिल रैली निकालने का लक्ष्य यही था कि मुसलमानों को यह दिखाया जा सके कि भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद वे द्वितीय श्रेणी के नागरिक बन गए हैं और उन्हें असमानता और घृणा का सामना करने के लिए तैयार हो जाना चाहिए। राज्य, पीड़ितों को अपराधी बता रहा है और अपराधियों की रक्षा कर रहा है। ऐसा करने से हिंसा को और बढ़ावा मिलेगा। दल की यह सिफारिश है कि इस हिंसा में राजवीर सिंह के भाषण की भूमिका की जांच की जाए। यह भी जरूरी है कि नागरिक संगठन विभिन्न समुदायों के बीच बेहतर आपसी समझ विकसित करने के लिए आगे आएं और उनके बीच संवाद को प्रोत्साहन दें। दल को यह देखकर संतोष हुआ कि इस हिंसा ने क्षेत्र में साम्प्रदायिक विद्वेष और धु्रवीकरण को गहरा नहीं किया है। अधिकांश हिन्दुओं की सहानुभूति उन मुसलमानों के साथ है, जिन्हें आर्थिक क्षति उठानी पड़ी। कासगंज ने सब कुछ खोया नहीं है।(अंग्रेजी से अमरीश हरदेनिया द्वारा अनुदित)


संपादक महोदय,

कृपया  इस सम-सामयिक लेख को  अपने प्रतिष्ठित प्रकाशन  में स्थान देने की कृपा  करें।

                                -एल. एस. हरदेनिया

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Modi government has done little on religious violence: U.S. Commission

Varghese K. George WASHINGTON:,

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with members of the Indian community at ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ at Westminster, London on Wednesday.

The report says the Narendra Modi government has little to prevent violence against religious minorities and Dalits in India in 2017.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)’s annual report categorizes India as a Tier 2 country along with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey. Tier 2 countries are defined as those that have at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” standard that the USCIRF uses to gauge violations of religious freedoms. Countries that can be characterized by all the three attributes are designated countries of particular concern. Ten countries including Pakistan are in that category this year.

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, that reviews religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. India has not allowed a representative of USCIRF to visit the country for the purpose of these reports for several years now.

The report says the Narendra Modi government has little to prevent violence against religious minorities and Dalits in India in 2017. “At the federal level, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made statements decrying mob violence, but members of his own political party have affiliations with Hindu extremist groups and many have used discriminatory language about religious minorities. Despite Indian government statistics indicating that communal violence has increased sharply over the past two years, the Modi Administration has not addressed the problem,” the report said.

Mr. Modi’s administration has done “little to provide justice for victims of large-scale past incidents of communal violence, often caused by inflammatory speeches delivered by leaders of Modi’s party,” the report says.

The report notes that “cow protection” lynch mobs killed at least 10 victims in 2017. “In 2017, religious freedom conditions continued a downward trend in India. India’s history as a multicultural and multi-religious society remained threatened by an increasing exclusionary conception of national identity based on religion. During the year, Hindu-nationalist groups sought to “Saffronize” India through violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits. Both public and private actors pursued this effort. Approximately one-third of state governments enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws against non-Hindus, and mobs engaged in violence against Muslims or Dalits whose families have been engaged in the dairy, leather, or beef trades for generations, and against Christians for proselytizing,” the report says.

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National Protest against the Assault on Cattle Economy and Lynching of Dalits and Minorities.


In Memory of Pehlu Khan

|New Delhi| April 3rd 2018 marks one entire year since Pehlu Khan’s death, a dairy farmer from Nooh district of Haryana who was attacked by a group of 200 cow vigilantes affiliated with right-wing Hindutva groups in Alwar, Rajasthan. It is shameful to see that the Rajasthan govt. has still not made the case a priority – to deliver justice to the victims or address the increasing cases of cow vigilantism. There is a growing threat to the power of democratically elected state-government and courts from quasi militant groups such as the gau-rakshaks, who have undermined the Right to Life of individuals and communities, especially in the rural agrarian belt.

Various militant and political outfits such as RSS and VHP have regularly attacked cattle traders under the guise of “gauraksha” (cow protection). Pehlu Khan’s family is still struggling to come to terms with their loss and live a normal life. The delay in this case clearly shows not a lack of evidence, but a lack of will to bring the killers to justice. The role of the local police officials in the subduing and diluting of the cases, including threatening families and friends of the victims of filing false cases, destroying evidence and adopting a strategy of false encounters must also be looked into.

Com. Hannan Mollah stated that since Pehlu Khan’s lynching, over 300 more cases have been reported, the victims were dairy farmers, dalit and Muslim cattle traders, and none of them have received justice even now. It is time for the nation to agitate against such politically motivated murders; as a democracy, India cannot standby as innocent farmers, traders and other social minorities are murdered in broad daylight.

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan continues its demand for justice for these victims, for immediate relief to be provided to the families of the victims of these attacks and strives to provide support to the families of the victims. It also condemns the protection given to these gau-rakshaks who have run havoc across the country, and are visibly operating with the patronage of local and state administration and political groups who have vested interests. Com NK Shukla stated that these repeated attacks on cattle traders and dairy farmers are part of a bigger design to undermine the dairy sector of the country. He further added that these attacks are creating havoc on the lives of the farmers who are already distressed because they are not getting a fair MSP, they are burdened by debts and being pushed to commit suicides.

Maulana Hanif also said that the repeated attacks on the Muslim community in Mewat is a result of a larger political propaganda, he stated that the need of the hour is for all the communities in Mewat to unite and stand as a strong front against such communal forces.

At the protest organized on 3rd April, 2018 at Parliament Street in Delhi, leaders of the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan called for nation-wide struggle against increasing cases of violence meted by right-wing groups in the name of cow-protection and of vendetta against all progressive movements and of continued attacks on dalits and minorities.

It is mentionable that Bhumi Adhikar Andolan had also organised a two day National Convention and Photo Feature on the same issues in March, it was attended by farmers, political leaders, social activists and academicians from all over the country.


Bhumi Adhikar Andolan also announced its support to the call for a countrywide protest called by Jan Ekta, Jan Adhikar Andolan on the completion of 4 years of the Modi Government with the slogan “Pol Khol, Halla Bol!”

The protest was addressed by: N. K Shukla (Joint. Sec AIKS), Phul Singh (State Sec. Haryana AIKS), Com. Hannan Mollah (Gen. Secy. AIKS), Jiten Chaudhary (MP, Lok Sabha, CPIM), KK Ragesh (MP, RS. Kerala, CPIM), Pehlu Khan’s Family, Com. Bharat Singh (State Secy. Uttar Pradesh, AIKS), Maulana Hanif, Shifat Manager (Alwar), Com. Ramesh  (AIKMS). 

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan


National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), All India Kisan Sabha (Ajay Bhawan), All India Kisan Sabha (36, Canning Lane), Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sangathan, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Jan Sangharsh Samanvaya Samiti, Chhatisgarh Bachao Aandolan, All India Kisan Maha Sabha, All India Agricultural Workers Union, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Sanyukt Kisan Sangharsh Samilti, INSAF, Delhi Solidarity Group, Kisan Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Union Arajnitik Asli, Mines Minerals and Peoples, Jan Adhikar Jan Ekta Andolan and Others.

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India – Meet the Lawyers who secured first conviction in cow related mob lynching #mustshare

(L-R) Advocates Mohammad Shadab Ansari, Raju Hembram and Mumtaz Ansari along with members of Alimuddin’s family after judgment in Ramgarh, Jharkhand on 21 March 2018.

MUMTAZ ALAM | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI /RANCHI: “We had strong evidences and the prosecution as well as the local administration were good and acted positively – this all helped us fight the case through to the successful end,” said young lawyer Advocate Mohammad Shadab Ansari while talking to Caravan Daily over phone on Thursday, day after a court in Jharkhand awarded life sentence to all 11 accused in the June 2017 mob lynching of Mohammad Alimuddin.

Adv. Shadab is member of the team of three young lawyers who fought the case in the Fast Track Court in Ramgarh district where Alimuddin, 55, was lynched by a brutal gang of cow vigilantes that included a BJP office bearer also last year. Other two lawyers of the team are Advocate Raju Hembram and Advocate Mumtaz Ansari. They all are attached to the Human Rights Law Network or HRLN.

In the year 2017, at least one dozen people, mostly Muslims were mercilessly lynched by unlawful gangs of cow vigilantes in various states ruled by BJP. From Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Alwar in Rajasthan to Ballabhgarh in Haryana, Mohammad Akhlaq, Pahlu Khan and Junaid Khan were killed. In none of the dozen-odd cases, accused have been convicted.

But the Ramgarh case stood out thanks to the hard work of the lawyers. In just 10 months, they have secured conviction and sentencing. On March 16, the accused –Nitayanand Mahto, Santosh Singh, Deepak Mishra and Chhotu Verma (members of a gau raksha samiti), Sikander Ram, Vicky Saw, Raju Kumar, Vikram Prasad, Kapil Thakur and Uttam Kumar were convicted and on March 21, all of them were awarded life sentence by judge Om Prakash. One of the accused, Nitayanand Mahto was district media cell in-charge of BJP.

Alimuddin, a driver by profession, is survived by wife, two daughters and a son. They all were present in the court on Wednesday when the judge announced sentencing to the accused.

Excerpts from Interview with Adv. Shadab Ansari:

Who will you give credit for the success in the Ramgarh lynching case?

It is not possible to give credit to one person because many people played role at one level or the other to take the case to the final conclusion. My team had three lawyers. Besides me, there were Advocate Raju Hembram and Advocate Mumtaz Ansari. The local administration played positive and good role. They also deserve credit because they investigated the case professionally and without taking any side. Prosecution also played a good role. Besides, there were many people who supported us.

We focused on the evidence which we had and put it strongly before the court. We all are happy that our hard work has given us success.

What is your comment on the judicial staff and judge of the Fast Track Court?

I cannot comment on the judge. He gave verdict on the basis of evidence presented before him. There was strong evidence against the accused and so we got this good judgment.

The judge has directed the authorities to provide compensation for the victim family. Has he fixed any amount?

No, he has not fixed any amount. The judge observed that the state has failed in its duty to protect the life of the deceased (Alimuddin Ansari). He said the widow of the deceased should be given compensation after enquiry into her financial condition, and it will be fixed by the district services legal authority (DLSA). The judge has not fixed any quantum of amount.

What will you do if the convicts challenge the verdict in higher court?

We will take note of their decision and plan accordingly. Earlier, they had approached the High Court seeking bail. We represented Maryam Khatoon, widow of Alimuddin, and opposed their move and the High Court rejected the bail plea of all.

Source- Caravan Daily

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Yogi Adityanath govt to withdraw 131 cases linked to 2013 Muzaffarnagar, Shamli riots #WTFnews

Opposition criticises move

In what is likely to emerge as another controversial move that could further the communal divide, the Bharatiya Janata Party government of Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh has reportedly started the process of withdrawing 131 cases linked to the 2013 communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.

While the BJP has maintained it is withdrawing only the false cases linked to the September 2013 riots, in which at least 62 people had died and thousands lost their homes, Opposition parties have termed it an attempt to offer ‘amnesty’ to rioters.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal to Twitter to vent out his frustration over the move, saying that the decision gives the message that the “state will protect murderers and not victims of violence”.

A report in the The Indian Express claimed to have examined documents, which show that a large portion of the 131 cases which are being withdrawn “include charges under Indian Penal Code sections related to ‘heinous’ crimes with a minimum punishment of seven years in jail”.

File image of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. PTI

File image of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. PTI

Of them, 13 involve murder under Section 302, 11 involve an attempt to murder under Section 307, 85 involve mischief by fire or explosive substances under Section 436, 55 have charges of dacoity under Section 395 and two of kidnapping Under Section 364 of the Indian Penal Code.

Besides, the report also claimed that there are “16 cases under Section 153A on charges of promoting enmity on religious grounds, and two under Section 295A for deliberate and malicious acts intended to insult a religion or religious beliefs”.

In January, a report claimed that the Uttar Pradesh government is mulling withdrawing nine cases against BJP leaders in connection with the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

According to the report, Raj Singh, Special Secretary, Uttar Pradesh Department of Justice, had written a letter to the district magistrate seeking information on 13 points, including whether the cases — filed against UP minister Suresh Rana, former Union minister Sanjiv Balyan, MP Bhartendu Singh, MLA Umesh Malik and party leader Sadhvi Prachi — could be withdrawn in public interest. The letter also sought the opinion of the Muzaffarnagar senior superintendent of police.

It is alleged that Rana and Singh along with BJP MLA Sangit Som and a man identified as Chandra Pal participated in a mahapanchayat and incited violence through their speeches in the last week of August 2013.

Although it’s not clear if the nine cases against the BJP leaders are also among the 131 cases which are being withdrawn by the Adityanath government, a report in February had said that Singh had written another letter to district magistrates in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar seeking details of 131 cases linked to the riots.

According to Hindustan Times, in February (and before as well) this year, Balyan, had met Adityanath seeking withdrawal of 402 cases registered largely against Hindus during the riots.

Reports claim that a total of 503 cases were registered against around 1,455 persons (according to some the number is above 2,000) at police stations in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli by the then Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh. The cases were filed against both Hindus and Muslims.

The communal riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar in September 2013 and later spread to the neighbouring Shamli.


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Jharkhand lynching -Want Justice not Revenge: Mariam Ansari

Jharkhand lynching victim Alumuddin Ansari’s widow does not want death penalty for convicted Gau Rakshaks

| Ajit Sahi

In an EXCLUSIVE interview Mariam Khatoon, the widow of Alimuddin Ansari who was killed by gau rakshaks on June 29 last year, has said she does not want her husband’s convicted killers to hang.


“Though they murdered my husband I don’t want them to lose their lives,” she told this reporter at her home shortly after a court here found the 11 accused guilty of killing him. “I would prefer the court gave them life imprisonment.”

The court’s guilty verdict for the 11 men is the first conviction in India for Gau Rakshaks, the self-styled  cow vigilantes linked to the RSS-BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal, who have gone on an attack-and-kill spree especially since the BJP-led government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014.

While the 11 men, at least one of whom was a well-known BJP leader in this district, have been found guilty of murder under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, three of them were additionally found guilty of conspiracy under section 120(B) of the IPC. Sentencing is due on March 21, Wednesday.


Mariam Khatoon implored Prime Minister Modi to put an end to continuing assaults by the Gau Rakshaks on innocent Muslims across India. “There is terror of the gau rakshaks among the Muslims and Mr. Modi should realise it is not good for inter community relations,” she said. “Please, for god’s sake, stop it.”

She also said that the Hindu neighbours in her village were no less supportive of her and her family than the Muslim community. In fact, she said, never had there been any chasm between the Hindus and Muslims in not just the village but in the entire Ramgarh district.

Announcing the verdict in Hindi in open court at about 3.30 pm on Friday, Additional District Judge Om Prakash said that he had considered all evidence and witness statements before ruling the accused as guilty. A full judgement in writing is expected to be delivered along with the sentencing.

Alimuddin was waylaid by Gau Rakshaks at a prominent city thoroughfare on the morning of June 29, 2017, and severely beaten. The Gau Rakshaks accused him of carrying beef in his car. After the police arrived on the scene he was taken to a local hospital where he shortly died of his injuries.

The defendants denied they had assaulted Alimuddin and, instead, claimed he died of in police custody due to police torture. The judge rejected this contention. For hours before the verdict was given the road leading to the courthouse, as well as the court premises itself, was heavily patrolled and guarded by a special police force.

The sprawling lawns of the courthouse teemed with young men in bright saffron shirts, many of whom also sported saffron bandanas around their foreheads, who were obviously supporters of the defendants. Many said they were active members of the Bajrang Dal.

Women and children from the families of the accused crowded the narrow corridor at the end of which lay Judge Prakash’s courtroom. None, however, but the lawyers and a handful of journalists were allowed into the court, right after the 11 accused, their hands tied with a long, single rope, were marched into the massive iron cage inside the courtroom.

Dressed in shirts and trousers, all the accused wore fresh saffron tilaks on their foreheads. This reporter counted at least 22 lawyers on the defendants side, greatly outnumbering the lone public prosecutor flanked by three lawyers that represented Mariam Khatoon’s family.

As the judge pronounced his verdict there was stunned silence all around in the courtroom. In conversations with this reporter before the verdict was read the families as well as the Bajrang Dal supporters had appeared confident that most, if not all, the accused would be acquitted. As the team of lawyers left the courtroom the convicts’ families and supporters crowded around individual lawyers trying to make sense of what had just happened.

Mariam Khatoon and her family were conspicuous by their absence from the courthouse, although about half a dozen of their well-wishers from her village were present. After the verdict was given, they quietly hurried out.

The defendants’ lawyer, M. B. Tripathi, told this reporter they will appeal the conviction at the Jharkhand High Court in Ranchi after the sentencing.


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One of the finest musicians in the world, Ustad Bismillah Khan

All You Need To Know About Ustad Bismillah Khan, The Shehnai Maestro

All You Need To Know About Ustad Bismillah Khan, The Shehnai Maestro

Shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan with his grandchildren

NEW DELHI:  Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan was born as Qamaruddin Khan on 21st march, 1916 in a traditional Muslim family of musicians in Bhirung Raut Ki Gali, Dumraon – in present-day Bihar. He was the second son of Paigambar Baksh Khan and Mitthan. His grandfather Rasool Baksh Khan exclaimed “Bismillah” at his birth and Qamaruddin Khan came to be known as Bismillah Khan.

Born to a family of musicians, he was trained by his uncle, the late Ali Baksh ‘Vilayatu’, who was also a shehnai player and attached to Varanasi’s Vishwanath Temple. His father was a court musician employed in the Dumrao palace by the Raja of Bhojpur. His great grandfather Ustad Salar Hussain Khan and grandfather Rasool Baksh Khan were also musicians in the Dumrao palace.

Ustab Bismillah Khan single-handedly transformed how the world looked at shehnai. From being an important folk instrument, it suddenly found a place in the heart of Indian music after Ustad Khan’s performance at Calcutta All India Music Conference in 1937.

One of the finest musicians in the world, Ustad Bismillah Khan played to audiences across the globe. Such was his devotion to his art and music that he referred to his shehnai as “begum” after the death of his wife.

ustad bismillah khan

The maestro was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001.

On the eve of India’s Independence in 1947, Bismillah khan performed at the Red Fort in Delhi. He also performed here on the eve of India’s first Republic Day ceremony in 1950. His performance soon became an integral part of the cultural programme during Independence Day celebrations in years to come. Doordarshan would regularly telecast his recital along with the Prime Minister’s address from Red Fort in Delhi.

Apart from shehnai concerts and recitals, Ustad Bismillah Khan was associated with films as well. He acted in Satyajit Ray’s much acclaimed Jalsaghar and played the shehnai in Goonj Uthi Shehnai, a 1959 film directed by Vijay Bhatt. National Award winning director Goutam Ghose directed a documentary on his life titled Sang-e-Meel Se Mulaqat. Most recently his music was incorporated in Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar starring Ranbir Kapoor. AR Rehman, who won the Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, was the music director of the film.

The maestro was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001.

Ustad Bismillah Khan’s last wish, to be able to perform at the India Gate as a tribute to the martyrs, remained unfulfilled after he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest.

A day of national mourning was declared by the government on his death. He was buried along with his shehnai under a neem tree at Fatemaan burial ground in old Varanasi with a 21-gun salute from the Indian Army.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, instituted the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in 2007, in his honour, which is conferred to young artists in the field of music, theatre and dance.

On his 102nd birth anniversary, Google paid tribute to the musician with a doodle. His music will remain till the end of time, the way he had famously prophesied, “Even if the world ends, the music will still survive.”

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Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa jumps off water tank in Kurukshetra, dies

Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, 52, committed suicide on Tuesday by jumping off a water tank at his native village Thaska Ali in Kurukshetra district.

Khalsa has been demanding release of Sikh radicals who have completed their jail term but are still lodged in various prisons across India.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Kurukshetra superintendent of police Abhishek Garg said: “He (Khalsa) jumped off the village water tank and was declared dead at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash government hospital here. In the preliminary investigation, it was found that he was demanding release of some people”.

Police have registered a case under section 174 of the CrPc. The body will be handed over to the family after the autopsy.

Police said Khalsa had climbed atop the water tank around 1pm after being presented a ‘siropa’ by the family members of Sikhs lodged in jails. After shouting slogans, Khalsa jumped off the tank.

Apprehending protests by Khalsa supporters, police have stepped up vigil in the area.

Khalsa had been seeking the release of seven Sikh prisoners, including those convicted for the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.. In November 2013, he went on a 44-day hunger strike at a gurdwara in Punjab’s Mohali. He ended his strike on December 27, 2013 after reportedly getting an assurance from the government.

However, when the detainees were not released, he restarted his hunger stir on November 14, 2014.

Hindustan times

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