February 27, 2015

Bangladesh: Unidentified attackers hack US blogger Avijit Roy to death in Dhaka

Unidentified attackers hack US blogger Avijit Roy to death in Dhaka
AP | Feb 27, 2015, 01.38 PM IST


DHAKA: A prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger known for speaking out against religious fundamentalism was hacked to death in the streets of Bangladesh's capital as he walked with his wife, police said on Friday.

The Thursday night attack on Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born US citizen, occurred along a crowded stretch of sidewalk as he and his wife, Rafida Ahmed, were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University. Ahmed, who is also a blogger, was seriously injured.

Police have named no suspects in the attack, but Roy was a prominent voice against religious extremism, and his family and friends say he had been threatened in the past for his writings.

The local police chief, Sirajul Islam, told The Associated Press that the assailants used cleavers to attack Roy and his wife.

"Several attackers took part in the attack and at least two assailants hit them directly," Islam said, adding that two blood-stained cleavers were found after the attack.

Roy had founded a popular Bengali-language blog — Mukto-mona, or Free Mind — in which articles on scientific reasoning and religious extremism featured prominently.

Anujit Roy, his younger brother, said Roy had returned to the country earlier this month from the US and was planning to go back in March.

Similar attacks have taken place in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people ruled by secular laws, in the past. Investigators have said religious fanatics were behind those attacks.

In 2013, another blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, who also spoke out against religious extremism, was killed by unidentified assailants near his Dhaka home. In 2004, Humayun Azad, a prominent writer and a teacher of Dhaka University, was seriously injured in an attack when he was returning from the same book fair.

Baki Billah, a friend of Roy and a blogger, told Independent TV that Roy had been threatened earlier by people upset at his writing.

"He was a free thinker. He was a Hindu but he was not only a strong voice against Islamic fanatics but also equally against other religious fanatics," Billah said.

"We are saddened. We don't know what the government will do to find the killers. We want justice," he said.

India: After Chhattisgrah, Gujarat too may let government employees join RSS

Now, Gujarat too may let babus join RSS
Kapil Dave,TNN | Feb 27, 2015

GANDHINAGAR: BJP-ruled Gujarat may follow Chhattisgarh in al lowing government employees to join the RSS.

A senior official of the state general administration department (GAD) told TOI that the state government is considering delisting the RSS from its "negative list of organisations" which government employees cannot join.

Senior cabinet minister Nitin Patel did not deny the move but said the matter has not yet been discussed formally as the state assembly session is in session. "We will decide after examining the Chhattisgarh government's order," Patel said.

In an order issued on February 23, the Chhattisgarh government had allowed government staff to join RSS saying its rule dating back to 1965, restricting government staff from taking part in political activity , "does not apply to the RSS".

Earlier, in 1999, the then Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel had made a similar attempt, but withdrew his orders soon following Congress-led protests. But this time, the Gujarat government might allow saffronisation of its employees using the Chhattisgarh government's argument that RSS is not a political organisation.

"Employees of the state government cannot join political parties or communal institutions, but the RSS falls in the category of cultural and social institutions.So government employees can be permitted to join it," said the GAD official.

Currently , as per the Gujarat Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, RSS figures in the list of organisations that employees can't join


India: RSS ideologue Dinanath Batra-led panel to advise Haryana schools on Gita

Batra-led panel to advise Haryana schools on Gita

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

No opposition to its introduction, says State Education Minister

The Haryana government’s Educational Consultative Committee, headed by RSS ideologue Dinanath Batra, is expected to advise the State Council of Educational Research and Training on selection of Bhagvad Gita slokas to be introduced in school curriculum. On Wednesday, the Education Department urged the council to suggest the slokas it deemed fit for introduction in schools from the coming academic session. Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma confirmed the development and said there was no opposition to the introduction of the Bhagvad Gita in schools. Mr. Batra, a former RSS pracharak, is the national convener of the RSS-backed Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti. He was instrumental in stalling the release of American scholar Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, in India. Soon after assuming office late last year, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar constituted the consultative committee to improve the education system in the State. It comprises educationists and experts, including retired teachers and professors.

Director-General of Higher Education T.C. Gupta said the matter was referred to the council, which would suggest from which class the scripture should be introduced. After deliberations, the council would refer the matter to the consultative committee. The two bodies would also have to decide on whether the Bhagvad Gita should be taught in Sanskrit or in Hindi or English.

Though Sanskrit teaching in the State is not advanced, the government has drawn up plans to spread the language. It is recruiting teachers and working out details for introducing two new courses.

February 26, 2015

India: Vocal Hindutva hardliners, PM silence halt BJP’s Muslim membership march

Written by Lalmani Verma | Lucknow | February 26, 2015 6:49 am

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi failing to rein in the Hindutva hardliners, and RSS and its affiliates coming out in support of ‘ghar wapsi’ (religious re-conversion), a number of Muslims who had enrolled with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, now want their membership cancelled.

The party, which has pegged its ongoing membership drive on Modi’s development agenda, is now finding it hard to convince the minority community especially in the backdrop of controversial comments on Muslims by its leaders such as Sakshi Maharaj, Sadvhi Niranjan Jyoti and Sadhvi Prachi.

BJP launched its membership campaign in November and as per party leaders, by January 31, around 1.5 lakh Muslims had got enrolled with it in UP. This includes nearly 5,000 in Muzaffarnagar, which was rocked by communal riots in 2013.

“When we launched the membership campaign, Muslims had started joining BJP with enthusiasm expressing faith in leadership of PM Modi and his vision of development. But, after recent statements of VHP leaders and our MPs, we are facing problems in convincing Muslims to join the party,” admitted Rumana Siddiqui, state president of BJP Minority Morcha.

Azad Ansari, UP convener of BJP Weaver’s Cell too confirmed as much. “Now, we are assuring the minority community that the controversial statements are personal views of individual leaders and a conspiracy against PM Modi,” Ansari said.

Now, to convince the Muslims, the minority wing leaders cite the example of party national president Amit Shah who, in December last year, had stopped his speech midway while addressing a rally in Kolkata as the muezzin’s call for prayers was sounded from a mosque.

While Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sadhvi Prachi hit a jarring note appealing the Hindus to have four or more children to counter Muslim growth, a VHP unit, Hindu Jagran Manch, held a ‘ghar wapsi’ programme in Agra to re-convert Muslims into Hinduism. It has announced more such programmes in different parts of the country.

Rumana said of nearly 700 Muslims who had joined BJP in Unnao, the Lok Sabha constituency of Sakshi Maharaj, in a camp on December 24, a large number have now requested for cancellation of their membership. While 500 Muslims have sent a similar request from Lucknow, the LS constituency of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, another 1,500 from different parts of UP have sought to withdraw their BJP membership, added Rumana. [ . . . ]

FULL TEXT AT: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/vocal-hindutva-hardliners-pm-silence-halt-bjps-muslim-membership-march/

India: Another Tamil author faces attack over book after Perumal Murugan

Daily News and Analysis

Another Tamil author faces attack over book after Perumal Murugan
Thursday, 26 February 2015 - 12:43pm IST Updated: Thursday, 26 February 2015 - 12:44pm IST | Place: Chennai | Agency: PTI

Close on the heels of the controversy surrounding author Perumal Murugan's work "Mathorubagan", an upcoming writer in Karur was allegedly assaulted by members of a particular community accusing him of making some derogatory references in his novel.

'Puliyur' Murugesan was roughed up by for allegedly making some derogatory references in his work 'Balachandran Enra Peyarum Enakkundu' (Balachandran is also my name) on Wednesday, police said. Peeved by the alleged derogatory references, some local people roughed him up but "he is alright," a senior police official told PTI.

"He is alright. There are no issues," he said adding the matter was being probed. Police said that some of the members belonging to the particular community had also staged a road blockade and demanded that the government ban the book.

The incident comes close on the heels of author Perumal Murugan episode, where locals aided by some groups had opposed his alleged derogatory references to Tiruchengode area.

Irked by the opposition and after having tendered an unconditional apology in a conciliatory meeting convened by local authorities, he had retreated into a self-imposed exile, declaring on Facebook that the 'Writer Perumal Murugan is dead', sparking concerns for freedom of expression.

India: Bhagwat’s criticism of Mother Teresa might be accurate ‒ but it also applies to the RSS

Bhagwat’s criticism of Mother Teresa might be accurate ‒ but it also applies to the RSS
Far from rejecting the strategies of Christian missionaries, the Sangh Parivar has adopted them to convert India’s advasis to Hinduism.
Shoaib Daniyal

India: Stones thrown at Mangalore prayer hall

The Telegraph - 26 Feb 2015

Stones thrown at prayer hall

- Cracks in glass casing of grotto at Mangalore shrine, idols safe
The St Joseph Vaz Prayer Hall near Mangalore; (above) the cracked glass casing of the grotto. Bangalore News Photos
Bangalore, Feb. 25: The grotto of a Christian prayer hall near Mangalore has been found damaged in an overnight attack, with cracks in its glass casing that police suspect were caused by pelting stones.
Glass shards were strewn outside the grotto of St Joseph Vaz Prayer Hall this morning but the idols of Mother Mary and Infant Jesus were found to be intact. The police have registered a case against unknown persons for causing damage to a place of worship.
Mangalore police commissioner S. Murugan termed it a "stray incident" and appealed to people not to panic. "I request everyone not to panic as we have things under control," he said.
The prayer hall is located at Panir, off Mangalore city, some 360km from here. It came up a few years ago in place of a 250-year-old Our Lady of Mercy Church and is popular with the local people.
Karnataka health minister U.T. Khader, who visited the spot and noticed cigarette butts near the prayer hall entrance, blamed the attack on "anti-socials". He said the police have been instructed to nail the culprits as soon as possible.
"This is mainly to create a sense of insecurity in this region. I'm sure people will understand the situation and not panic," he said.
The attack on a place of worship has come after many years of calm in south Karnataka, which has a strong presence of Sangh Parivar groups. In 2008, there were several attacks on churches in Mangalore and nearby places, most of them blamed on Bajrang Dal and Sri Rama Sene activists.
The incident comes a few days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government would not allow any religious group to incite hatred in the country. He was speaking after a spate of attacks on Christian institutions in Delhi.
This is also the first attack after over 140 bishops from the Conference of Catholics Bishops of India (CCBI) recently held a candlelight march in Bangalore protesting against the Delhi attacks.
Condemning the prayer-hall incident, CCBI deputy secretary-general Fr Stephen Alathara hoped it had no communal angle. "Let's wait for the police report on who did it and why," he said.
"But it's painful for us to see places of worship come under attack. We condemn desecration of any religious institution, whether a church, temple or a mosque. Such attacks are against our heritage and affect the communal harmony and social equilibrium of our secular society."