August 29, 2014

India: Medha Patkar seeks high level probe in Kandhamal riots

Business Standard

Medha Patkar seeks high level probe in Kandhamal riots
Press Trust of India | Phulbani(Odisha)
August 27, 2014

Seeking a high level probe into the 2008 riots in Odisha's Kandhamal district, social activist Medha Patkar today said she will draw the President's attention on the nominal compensation given to the victims.

"A high level probe should be ordered to find out the real causes of the riots in Kandhamal," Patkar said while addressing a gathering organised by Kandhamal District Peace and Harmony Society, a forum of Kandhamal riot victims and Dalits.

Stating that the government should ensure there was no repeat of such unfortunate incidents, Patkar said communal riots were against humanity and civilization.

A delegation would soon meet the President to apprise him about the lapses in handling the post-riot situation, particularly the measures taken by the state government for relief and rehabilitation of the victimised Dalit families, she said.

CPI leader Annie Raja and CPI(M) leader Subhasini Ali were among others who addressed the gathering.

Prior to the meeting, about 2,000 members of the Society and Dalit Christians held a silent rally and submitted an 8-point of charter of demands to the Collector Dr N T Nayak.

Security was beefed up in the Phulbani town in view of the event, Pravat Kumar Panigrahi, SDPO, Phulbani said.

India: NDTV programme - 'Love Jihad' - BJP On the Wrong Track?


Mein Aman Pasand Hoon, Mere Sheher Mein Danga Rehne Do

via Daily Seema Sangdesh

August 28, 2014

Distress sale: Muslim homes go cheap in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar

The Indian Express

Distress sale: Muslim homes go cheap in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar
Written by Pritha Chatterjee | Muzaffarnagar | August 28, 2014

The authorities, however, say no distress sale has come to their notice and refuse to interfere.

Last year’s riots still fresh in their minds, a growing number of Muslims in the Muzaffarnagar-Shamli area of Uttar Pradesh are selling their properties in the villages they have now abandoned to Jat neighbours at rates which locals admit are far below the market rates.

The authorities, however, say no distress sale has come to their notice and refuse to interfere, saying property sales remain a private affair.

The Indian Express found that in one village, Kankra, about 5 km from Kutba Kutbi, which saw eight murders and several riot-related cases, the majority of Muslims had sold their homes to Jats. On September 7 last year, three youths from the village who had gone to attend the Jat mahapanchayat, died after a clash broke out in Pulbaliyan village.
Village kids pass through houses that were abandoned during the Muzaffarnagar riots in Kakra Village. Most of the houses owned by the other community in the village are on sale or have been sold. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand) Village kids pass through houses that were abandoned during the Muzaffarnagar riots in Kakra Village. Most of the houses owned by the other community in the village are on sale or have been sold. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand)

Fearing retaliation, 250 Muslim families fled their homes in the village and have since been staying at relief camps in nearby Muslim-dominated villages.

Village pradhan Ravinder Singh said in the past six weeks, 150 of the 250 Muslim families have sold their homes to Jat neighbours. “The situation is such that small incidents are taking communal colours — accidents, robberies, you name it. It has been like this for a year, in an area which never knew communal tension. So no matter what we say, the Muslims want to leave our village, and the Jats are not trying too hard to stop them either,” Singh said. He said that every day “more Muslims are coming to me with requests to sell their property”.
Damaged house of muslims, a year after the riots at village Lisad in Muzaffarnagar district on August 19th 2014. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia) Damaged house of muslims, a year after the riots at village Lisad in Muzaffarnagar district on August 19th 2014. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia)

Karan Singh Saini, a former principal of the primary school in the village, bought an approximately 650 square metre plot with a house built in it for Rs 5 lakh, from Mohammad Shabbir. According to the revised circle rate for the village introduced on August 1 — which is Rs 1,400 per square metre — only the land should have cost him more than Rs 9 lakh. “Under normal circumstances, a house here should have cost me about Rs 15 lakh… but rates have gone down since too many people are eager to sell.

Of course we do not want to exploit people who have been our neighbours for years, but we cannot give more than the rates,” said Saini. Shabbir, 65, who was earlier staying in Shahpur relief camp, has now moved in with his daughter and her husband in Loni, said the property was lying vacant for too long.

“I knew I could not get a better rate than this… the rates are only going down. It’s UP elections in 2016, and after that it will be time for the Lok Sabha elections again… it’s not that I am on bad terms with my neighbours, but who knows what the next government will do? What if they just say the state has already compensated us for the riots, and take over our land?”

Mohammad Dilshad sold his 75 square metre plot facing the main road in the village — considered prime property — at Rs 1.62 lakh. The father of four said he had to sell his home for his children’s future. “It was a four-room house. I had asked Rs 3 lakh for it, but I could barely manage over Rs 1 lakh. If I didn’t sell this, I would not have enough money to feed my children,” he said.

Kiran Pal, who was cleaning the house he had just bought from Dilshad, said these are the prevalent rates. “I have bought the house following all regulations. I needed the house because my children are getting married, we need space for them and their families,” he said.

Vinod Singh has bought a 781 square metre house with six rooms for Rs 7 lakh. In this case too, the plot alone should have cost him over Rs 10 lakh, according to the circle rates. Singh agreed the house should have cost him at least Rs 18-20 lakh in “normal times”.

“Honestly I believe they would have sold it cheaper, but they have also got Rs 20 lakh compensation, Rs 5 lakh each from four brothers so there is no reason really to feel sorry for them. They still come to my house and have tea, it’s just that they don’t want to stay here anymore,” Singh said, referring to Mohammad Iliyas and his family from whom he bought the house.

Iliyas is now building a house in Kairana. “Vinod is a friend, I really believe we got the best deal. Houses are selling at Rs 3-4 lakh, we got a much better deal,” he said. A neighbouring house of 343.75 square metre has been sold for Rs 1.45 lakh, here again the plot alone should have cost Rs 4 lakh, as per the circle rates.

ADM (Finance and Revenue) Ram Kishen Sharma said, “Property sales are a private matter, but we have just revised the circle rates this month. We do not have any complaints of distress sales from any community. If people are going to new areas and selling their old homes, it is their decision.”

Sharma said while earlier circle rates were revised every two years, now it is done annually according to UP government directions. “The rates have just come into effect from August, so there is no question of exploitation,” Sharma said.

India: ‘liquor-free-Kerala’ takes a communal turn

Kerala prohibition takes communal turn: Hindu groups see Christian, Muslim hand
Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | August 24, 2014

A Hindu organisation claimed that the 'impractical decision' stemmed from the rivalry within the Congress.

The debate over a ‘liquor-free-Kerala’ has taken a communal turn with two powerful Hindu organisations questioning the Congress government’s steps towards imposing prohibition, which have found support from leaders of Christian and Muslim communities.

Vellappally Nateshan, the leader of backward Hindu organisation Sree Narayanad Dharma Paripalana Yogam, has said the government’s move would affect members of his community in the liquor business.


India: India's Right Wing VHP members booked for wielding swords and daggers at golden jubilee celebrations

VHP members booked for wielding swords at golden jubilee celebrations
Express News Service | Vadodara | August 17, 2014


India: Controlling the party - Editorial, The Hindu

The Hindu, Aug 21, 2014

Controlling the party - Editorial

The influence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on the Bharatiya Janata Party is always greater during periods when the party is in power. While the Sangh is sometimes ready to appear twice removed from the government, it is keen to exercise control over the party's organisational affairs. Little surprise then, the newly elected president of the BJP, Amit Shah, chose to pack the top rung of the party with those from the Sangh. Former RSS spokesman Ram Madhav is now general secretary and ideologue Vinay Sahasrabuddhe is vice-president; four of the joint secretaries (organisation) are RSS members without much of a background of work in the party.

Despite the nominal distance it maintains from the organisations of the Sangh Parivar, the RSS ensures that its writ runs where it matters: in the BJP, and in the BJP governments at the Centre and in the States. With its organisational strength, and the large number of committed cadre, the RSS is the backbone of the BJP, and not just an ideological mentor. In the 2014 general election, workers of the RSS and its affiliates threw their weight behind the BJP and contributed in no small measure to the party's revival in States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It was only natural for the BJP, especially Mr. Shah who was in charge of the party's electoral management in Uttar Pradesh, to recognise this fact and accommodate RSS leaders in the decision-making structure of the party.

What is problematic, however, is how the RSS will wield its influence in the BJP to remote-control the government. Mr. Shah enjoys a close rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it is feared he might indeed function as an extra-constitutional authority. Now, with the BJP being led by RSS hands, the party's influence on the government can only get bigger. Decision-making may not be confined to the Cabinet or legislative bodies, but may extend to party forums and Sangh meetings. Going by the statement of RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat that Hindutva is India's identity, the RSS's relations with the BJP and, by extension, with the government, could raise serious concerns in the public mind, and particularly among minorities.

Prime Minister Modi spoke of ruling by consensus and not by the party's majority in the Lok Sabha, but statements such as those made by Mr. Bhagwat seeking to equate Hindutva with Indianness and Hindustanis (Indians) with Hindus can only create doubts whether the BJP intends to return to a divisive majoritarian agenda. Mr. Modi and the BJP need to distance themselves from such statements if these are not to be taken as reflective of the thinking of the ruling establishment. Otherwise, the Sangh, the BJP and the government would be widely seen as just different forms of the same entity.