May 28, 2016

Gutsy and brave Rana Ayyub blows the whistle with her under cover investigation on Gujarat - her book 'Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover-Up' released in Delhi to a packed audience

[Fantastic book release of Rana Ayyub's 'Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover-Up'to a jam packed audience at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi on the 27th May 2016. Hundreds were seen standing and or sitting on the floor since there was no room. This is a very important book that people across India should read. Secularist circles in India should celebrate this gutsy journalist with pat on her back for self publishing this breath taking investigation. Bravo Rana, you deserve a medal of honour from the civil society. Hoping people are listening - Editor, Communalism Watch]

Picture via twitter

QuickReview: Rana Ayyub's book Gujarat Files is a tale of gritty journalism, with a heart
Somi Das @Somi_Das | 27 May 2016


An Excerpt from Rana Ayyub's "Gujarat Files" - The Caravan


How Rana Ayyub had to become Maithili Tyagi for her investigations in Gujarat - The Scroll

May 27, 2016

Announcement: 'Aryan Invasion Theory and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar' upcoming seminar at Nehru Memorial in Delhi (30 May 2016)

नेहरू स्मारक संग्रहालय एवं पुस्तकालय


सोसाइटी फॉर सोशल इम्पॉवरमेंट, दिल्ली


''आर्यन इन्वेज़न थिऑरी ऐण्ड बी. आर. अम्बेडकर''

विषय पर आयोजित राष्ट्रीय संगोष्ठी में आप सादर आमंत्रित हैं

दिनांक: सोमवार, 30 मई 2016

समय: प्रातः 10-00 बजे

संगोष्ठी कक्ष, प्रथम तल, पुस्तकालय भवन

नेहरू स्मारक संग्रहालय एवं पुस्तकालय

तीन मूर्ति भवन, नई दिल्ली

Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
Society for Social Empowerment, Delhi

invite you to a National Seminar

at 10.00 a.m. on Monday, 30 May, 2016

in the Seminar Room, First Floor, Library Building


‘Aryan Invasion Theory and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’

May 25, 2016

India: Painting himself as a victim Vanzara Gujarat's dirty harry launches himself into public life at a felicitation rally in Baroda

Asaram Bapu, Sadhvi Pragya framed by anti-national forces: Vanzara
Vanzara arrived at the venue from a rally across the city that marked significant tributes to statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/asaram-bapu-framed-and-pushed-into-jail-like-sadhvi-pragya-and-me-vanzara-2813803/

Book launch announcement: Rana Ayyub's Gujarat Files (27 May New Delhi)

India: Saffron swing in Kerala (Ajith Pillai)

The Tribune, May 24, 2016

Saffron swing & the Kerala Hindu matrix
Ajith Pillai

It would not be incorrect to conclude that the BJP's grand objective of uniting Hindus in Kerala did not yield the returns that its think tanks were confident it would. If it had, then the results would have thrown up a few surprises. In politics ground reality goes beyond vote percentages and symbolism.

[photo]S. Sreesanth, former cricketer and the BJP candidate for the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala Assembly polls poses for a selfie. Sreesanth lost the election. PTI

Was the BJP effort at Hindu consolidation during the recent Assembly elections in Kerala a “remarkable” success? Many BJP leaders and pundits would like us to believe that. And they will reel out statistics to prove the point — the BJP, after all, has significantly improved its overall vote share from 6.03 per cent in 2011 to 10.5 per cent (14 per cent if you count one of its allies). Not just that, the party has for the first time managed to win an assembly seat in Kerala. Surely, they fervently tell you, the lotus has symbolically bloomed in God's own Country.

It no doubt has. But in politics ground reality goes beyond vote percentages and symbolism. What the BJP has gained has to be seen in the context of what it actually hoped to immediately achieve. Once that is kept in perspective it will not be incorrect to conclude that the BJP’s grand objective of uniting Hindus did not yield the returns that its think tanks were confident it would. If it had, then the results would have thrown up a few surprises.

So what was the BJP's strategy for Kerala? The Amit Shah-backed template was this: Corner as much of the estimated 54 per cent Hindu votes in the state. On paper it all added up. A substantial chunk of the majority community's vote came from two segments — the Ezhavas (23 per cent) and the Nairs (14 per cent). Get them on the bandwagon and the result would be a substantial saffron swing.

The BJP and the RSS had been working on the Brahmins and the Nairs (higher in the caste hierarchy than the OBC Ezhavas) for close to two decades now. But the Ezhavas had never been tapped since they were traditionally closely linked to the Left. The reform movement in the 1920s, led by the Ezhava spiritual leader Sri Narayana Guru which rejected casteism and embraced new values of spiritual freedom and social equality shared similar values espoused by the Communists in Kerala. Several Ezhava leaders fighting subjugation and caste discrimination at the hands of Brahmins and Nairs either joined hands with the Left or the Socialist-inclined leaned towards the Congress.

The Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) trust was formed in 1952 to propagate the teachings of Sri Narayana Guru and work towards uplift of society through education. Its present general secretary, Vellappally Natesan, was the first to show his saffron inclinations last year when he said a Hindu front must be formed which represents not only the Ezhavas but all Hindus. His burden: the Christians with a vote share of 18.33 per cent and Muslims (26.56 per cent) were already political forces to reckon with, then why should Hindus not come together.

With his son Tushar, he floated the Bharat Dharma Jena Sena (BDJS) last December and opened up channels with the BJP. By March, the newly formed party announced its decision to join the NDA alliance. Though the BDJS pitched itself as a rainbow Hindu party it was widely perceived as a party representing Ezhava interests. Many even saw the new alliance as an attempt by Natesan to cock a snook at the Nair Service Society (NSS), which unofficially takes political decisions on behalf of the Nair community and had often pronounced that it would remain equidistant from both the Left and the Right.

That the Nair community had misgivings was evident. Despite Ezhavas coming up in society and carving a name for themselves in varied fields, they are looked down upon by caste Hindus in Kerala. This often manifests itself even in day-to-day social contact. For example, Ezhava-Nair marriages rarely find approval. Contempt and suspicion run deep.

The Ezhavas forming a political front with the BJP was in the realm of the unthinkable for many Nairs. Before the BDJS-BJP tie-up was announced, one received calls from district-level functionaries of the NSS who bemoaned their fate. “The RSS wants us to shake hands with those Ezhavas. What has the world come to,” one of them complained bitterly.

Given this backdrop of distrust, the great Hindu front was cemented only on paper. If the Ezhavas had indeed deserted the Left en masse and voted the NDA, then the CPM-backed Front would have lost the elections. The Congress-led UDF may even have scraped home. Ironic as it sounds, a Hindu consolidation under the NDA banner was what some Congressmen were hoping for to return to power!

That did not happen. News reports after the results have quoted local BJP leaders as saying that the BDJS had not performed as well as they expected. The saffron surge had not happened along expected lines. Instead, the Ezhavas reposed faith in the Left as they traditionally have. The Muslims felt they must support the winning formation (this time all indications, due to incumbency, pointed Left) to keep the BJP out and voted for the communists. Ditto the Christian community.

And a section of free floating voters who may have toyed with the idea of giving the NDA a chance possibly changed their minds after Narendra Modi's infamous jibe about the infant mortality rate among Kerala's tribal community “being worse than that of Somalia.” That deeply hurt Malayalee pride as was evident from angry Twitter trolling.

Finally, it was the committed Hindu voter who backed the NDA. That their numbers have grown cannot be ignored or wished away by political parties. The matrix of Kerala politics has altered that wee bit. But it has not dramatically changed to saffron.

The writer, a journalist, is the author of ‘Off The Record: Untold Stories from A Reporter's Diary’.

India - Punjab: Politics over murderous attack on Sikh preacher (Editorial, The Tribune)

The Tribune, May 25, 2016


Badals and Babas
Politics over murderous attack on Sikh preacher

Ever since Chief Minister Badal demolished the established police structure by making SHOs report to Akali leaders, application of the law has become selective. The empowered tehsil-level Akalis use the police as a private force. Now the Akali leadership is caught in a trap of its own making. It does not seem to know how to handle a crime in which it cannot afford to annoy either party. There are two Babas, both have large followings and both are useful.

The attack on Sikh preacher Dhandrianwale comes days after Home Minister Sukhbir Badal’s boastful claim that Punjab is among the safest states in the country. Daily incidents of lawlessness apart, the unsolved murder of the Namdhari Mata still mocks his claims of police efficiency. In the Dhandrianwale case the police has acted but selectively, suspectedly at the behest of the political leadership. It has arrested eight suspects, but the mastermind, according to the Ludhiana police, is yet to be identified. The victim has left no one in doubt who the mastermind is. There is a self-confessed patron of the assailants Harnam Singh Dhumma, head of the Damdami Taksal. And Dhumma has publicly admitted to the Taksal hand in the attack. He has owned the assailants and offered them legal help. One of the vehicles used in the crime has been recovered and its ownership is attributed by the police to Dhumma. The latter has not denied it.

Dhumma has made the task of the police simpler by also disclosing the motive of the crime: “The attack on Dhandrianwale is the result of his objectionable remarks on the Taksal’s ‘dastar’ (turban) and false propaganda being carried out by him inside and outside the country”. And yet he has not been questioned. The Badals seem to be weighing the political gains and losses of enforcing the rule of law. All citizens are supposed to be equal before law. The way the police deals with ordinary mortals caught in such situations needs no elaboration. The incident and its handling are reminiscent of the pre-militancy days. The baneful consequences of political patronage for a little-known Baba should not be forgotten.

African diplomatic community to boycott Africa Day celebrations due to everyday racism and afro-phobia in India - Killing Of Student In Delhi's Vasant Vihar

African Community Seeks Strong Action Against Killing Of Student In Delhi
All India | Indo-Asian News Service | Updated: May 25, 2016

New Delhi: The African diplomatic community in India has decided to boycott this year's Africa Day celebrations over safety of its nationals, and is seeking strong action against the killing of a Congolese student in New Delhi last week.

"The Group of African Heads of Mission have met and deliberated extensively on this latest incidence in the series of attacks to which members of the African community have been subjected to in the last several years," said Eritrean Ambassador Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, who is also dean of the Group of African Heads of Mission, in a statement.

A Congolese student, Masonda Ketada Olivier, 29, was beaten to death by a group of men in South Delhi's Vasant Kunj after an argument over hiring an autorickshaw on May 21. Oliver was hit on the head with a brick, leading to his death.

"They strongly condemn the brutal killing of this African and calls on the Indian government to take concrete steps to guarantee the safety and security of Africans in India," it said.

The police had arrested one person a few hours after the murder.

According to Mr Woldemariam's statement, Oliver and his friend Samuel had gone to meet another friend, and while on their way back, he flagged down an auto-rickshaw which stopped a few metres away. However, as he tried to board it, three locals standing nearby boarded it. An argument ensued following which Oliver was thrashed.

"They pushed Oliver to the ground and kicked him in the face and abdomen repeatedly. One of the Indians picked up a large stone from the roadside and hit Oliver on the head," the statement said. A passer-by who stopped to help was also beaten up and the attackers ran away when they saw that Oliver was unconscious.

Oliver was rushed to a private hospital where he was referred to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre but he died on the way.

Mr Woldemariam stated that the African heads of mission in Delhi have noted with deep concern that "several attacks and harassment of Africans have gone unnoticed without diligent prosecution and conviction of perpetrators".

He said that given the climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, "the African heads of mission are left with little option than to consider recommending their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be granted".

"Accordingly, the Indian government is strongly enjoined to take urgent steps to guarantee the safety of Africans in India including appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address the problems of racism and Afro-phobia in India," he said, and called on the media, civil society, think tanks, research institutions, parliamentarians, politicians and community leaders to play major roles in addressing the stereotypes and prejudices against Africans in India.

As for the Africa Day celebrations being organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on May 26 here, Mr Woldemariam said that they have requested that the event be postponed, and the African nations have also decided not to participate in the celebrations, except for a cultural troupe from Lesotho.

"This is because the African community in India, including students, is in a state of mourning in memory of the slain African students in the last few years, including Oliver," it added.