Samjhauta Acquittals: Modi's India is Protecting Hindutva Terrorists

An Indian court has recently acquitted all accused in Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of February 2007 that claimed 68 lives, including lives of 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people. This latest verdict came after the acquittal of these and other accused who had confessed to a series of bomb attacks on Muslim targets including Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer sufi shrine. These attacks claimed many innocent Muslim lives. The latest acquittals are a continuation of prior shameful judgements by Indian judges in Afzal Guru death sentence and Babri Masjid cases. These trends pose a serious existential threat to India's rule-of-law, democracy and economy.

Swami Aseemanand

Samjhauta Express Attack:

Immediately after the Samjhota Express attack in 2007, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as some Indian media organizations blamed Pakistan for the attack.  Later, an investigation by India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) concluded that the attack was carried out by four men - Swami Aseemanand, Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary and Lokesh Sharma - linked to the Hindu far-right group Abhinav Bharat which has close ties to Narendra Modi's Hindu Nationalist BJP party.

In 160 page verdict, Special NIA court judge Jagdeep Singh said that the “best evidence” was “withheld” by the prosecution and was not brought on record.  He said some of the cited independent witnesses were never examined or sought to be declared hostile for cross-examination when they chose not to support the prosecution case. With ‘anguish", the judge said that a ‘dastardly act’ has gone unpunished for lack of evidence.

In his order, the judge further said: “There are gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism has remained unsolved. Terrorism has no religion because no religion in the world preaches violence. A Court of Law is not supposed to proceed on popular or predominant public perception or the political discourse of the day and ultimately it has to appreciate the evidence on record and arrive at final conclusion on the basis of relevant statutory provisions and settled law applicable thereto.”

Afzal Guru Execution:

Mohammad Afzal Guru was a Kashmiri who was convicted for his alleged role in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. He was sentenced to death in a controversial judgment and executed on February 9, 2013.

In upholding the death sentence, the Indian supreme court acknowledged that the evidence against Guru was circumstantial: "As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy." But then, it went on to say: "The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender." This shameful Indian Supreme Court verdict to approve Guru's execution is a great miscarriage of justice with few precedents in legal annals.

Babri Masjid Case:

In a majority verdict in 2010, India's Allahabad High Court judges gave control of the main disputed section, where Babri mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus.

This verdict set a dangerous precedent, raising alarms about hundreds of other mosques in India which are claimed as ancient temple sites by the violent Sangh Parivar. L.K. Advani and other major Hindutva leaders, including then Gujarat Chief Minister and now India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, welcomed it and vowed to build "Ram Temple" on two-thirds of the disputed land awarded by an extremely unwise and politically motivated decision of the Allahabad Court.

In his Ayodhya opinion, Justice S.U. Khan, the only Muslim judge in the three-judge panel of the Allahabad High Court, made a reference to the Treaty of Hudaibiya as follows: "When prophet Mohammad entered into a treaty with the rival group at Hudayliyah(sic), it appeared to be abject surrender even to his staunch supporters."

This quote from Justice Khan shows how defeated and marginalized even the very few well-educated and well-placed Indian Muslims feel at this point....something reflected throughout his verdict. He basically threw in the towel and gave in to the likes of Justice DM Sharma, the most unabashed pro-Hindutva judge on the panel who "established that the property in suit is the site of Janm Bhumi of Ram Chandra Ji" in his opinion.

This is the evidence of absolute Hindutva fascist dominance of India's "secular democracy" on the streets and in the courts of India.  It has dramatically increased social hostilities against Indian minorities, according to a Pew Survey.  It does not augur well for either democracy or secularism in India.

Social Hostility Against Minorities in South Asia. Source: Bloomberg

India's Justice System:

The recent court judgements raise the following question posed by India's Economic Times editors:  "If a judge feels that the prosecution is waffling on purpose, why should he or she deliver a verdict? Why should the legal system not allow the judge to express dissatisfaction with the conduct of the prosecution and seek correctives before proceeding to conclude the hearing?"

Independent justice system is essential for Indian democracy which is facing an existential threat from Prime Minister Narendra's government pushing Hinduization of the country.  It is also bad for India's economy as top economists have been warning New Delhi against rising intolerance, bigotry and violence in the country.

Prime Minister Modi's Re-Election:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term as Prime Minister pf India in this year's general election. Some believe that his divisive policies and hateful rhetoric against Pakistan and Indian Muslims are designed to solidify the support of his Hindu Nationalist base. Will he succeed? And if he does, how will it impact India's future? Ashok Swain, professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University, Sweden has argued in a recent op ed that "India might not survive another five years of Modi". Here's an excerpt of what he wrote:

"India, a country of huge size and immense diversity, needs a functioning secular democratic structure to survive itself. The South Asian giant becoming a religious authoritarian state is not only a threat to its 172 million Muslims but also to the country’s unity and integrity. Indian polity can possibly be ripe enough to go through a peaceful secular democratic revolution in a period of five to ten years to overthrow an authoritarian leader, but the real risk is that a violent civil war might precede the popular revolution, and that India as a country most likely can’t afford".


An Indian court has recently acquitted all accused in Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of February 2007 that claimed 68 lives, mainly Muslims including lives of 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people. This latest verdict came after the acquittal of these and other accused who had confessed to a series of bomb attacks on Muslim targets including Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer sufi shrine. These attacks claimed many innocent Muslim lives. These latest acquittals are a continuation of prior shameful judgements by Indian judges in Afzal Guru death sentence and Babri Masjid cases. These trends pose a serious existential threat to India's rule-of-law, democracy and economy.

Why have the world leaders warmly welcomed India's Modi back after shunning him for years for his role in Gujarat 2002 Massacre of Muslims? Celebrated Indian writer and rights activist Arundhati Roy explains to Mehdi Hasan of Aljazeera

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Views: 221

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 10, 2019 at 9:48am

Some of the world's most polluted cities are in #India, and #NewDelhi is one of them. This is what life’s like there. #pollution #Modi #Hindutva

Photographer Lasse Bak Mejlvang recently went to India to document the conditions of a country that has a large concentration of the most polluted cities in the world. Mejlvang’s project, titled “Air Like Poison” chronicles the daily conditions that inhabitants of Delhi, India, live, work and play under. Below are some statistics Mejlvang became aware of while working on this project.

At the time of this project, it was estimated that 90 percent of the world’s population breathe highly polluted air. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers air pollution to be the biggest societal heath risk in recent times. It is estimated that more than 7 million people die each year due to the consequences of air pollution. Air pollution now claims more deaths each year than smoking, hunger and natural disasters combined.

In October 2018, WHO published a list of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. Nine of the 10 cities are located in India. With its more than 21 million inhabitants, the capital New Delhi has been at the top of the not-so-well-reputed list for a long period of time. The pollution level in the city is 20 times higher than the recommended levels, and the consequences of the air pollution are now beginning to affect the city’s inhabitants in a very serious way. The air pollution enhances the risk of strokes, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 10, 2019 at 10:04am

After 5 years of divisive politics, #India's #Modi promotes fear over hope. He rails against #Indian #Muslims as sultanate, heirs of foreign rule in India–the country had centuries of #Muslim rule & India’s English-speaking elite (#Congress) #Islamophobia

Can the World's Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government?

Not only has Modi’s economic miracle failed to materialize, he has also helped create an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India. One of his young party men, Tejasvi Surya, put it baldly in a speech in March 2019, “If you are with Modi, you are with India. If you are not with Modi, then you are strengthening anti-India forces.” India’s Muslims, who make up some 14% of the population, have been subjected to episode after violent episode, in which Hindu mobs, often with what seems to be the state’s tacit support, have carried out a series of public lynchings in the name of the holy cow, that ready symbol of Hindu piety. Hardly a month goes by without the nation watching agog on their smartphones as yet another enraged Hindu mob falls upon a defenseless Muslim. The most enduring image of Modi’s tenure is the sight of Mohammad Naeem in a blood-soaked undershirt in 2017, eyes white and enlarged, begging the mob for his life before he is beaten to death. The response of leadership in every instance is the same: virtual silence. Basic norms and civility have been so completely vitiated that Modi can no longer control the direction of the violence. Once hatred has been sanctioned, it is not always easy to isolate its target, and what the BJP has discovered to its dismay is that the same people who are willing to attack Muslims are only too willing to attack lower-caste Hindus as well. The party cannot afford to lose the lower-caste vote, but one of the ugliest incidents occurred in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, in July 2016, when upper-caste men stripped four lower-caste tanners, paraded them in the streets and beat them with iron rods for allegedly skinning a cow.

Modi’s record on women’s issues is spotty. On the one hand, he made opportunity for women and their safety a key election issue (a 2018 report ranked the country the most dangerous place on earth for women); on the other hand, his attitude and that of his party men feels paternalistic. He caused outrage in 2015 when he said Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, had a good record on terrorism, “despite being a woman”; Modi’s deputy, Amit Shah, speaks of women as having the status of deities, ever the refuge of the religious chauvinist who is only too happy to revere women into silence. Yet Modi also appointed a woman Defense Minister.

If these contradictions are part of the unevenness of a society assimilating Western freedoms, it must be said that under Modi minorities of every stripe–from liberals and lower castes to Muslims and Christians–have come under assault. Far from his promise of development for all, he has achieved a state in which Indians are increasingly obsessed with their differences. If in 2014 he was able to exploit difference in order to create a climate of hope, in 2019 he is asking people to stave off their desperation by living for their differences alone. The incumbent may win again–the opposition, led by Rahul Gandhi, an unteachable mediocrity and a descendant of Nehru, is in disarray–but Modi will never again represent the myriad dreams and aspirations of 2014. Then he was a messiah, ushering in a future too bright to behold, one part Hindu renaissance, one part South Korea’s economic program. Now he is merely a politician who has failed to deliver, seeking re-election. Whatever else might be said about the election, hope is off the menu.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 29, 2019 at 7:51pm

Rising tide of violence against #Muslims in #India. In 5 years of #Modi’s first term as #PM, #hate crime against Muslims soared; data shows that some 90% of religious hate crimes in the last decade have occurred since Modi came to power. #Hindutva #BJP

On June 22, a viral video did the rounds on social media in India. A young Muslim man tied up, bleeding profusely all over his body, hands folded, was being lynched by a mob that forced him to chant of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman.’ (Glory to Lord Ram and Lord Hanuman.)

The man, later identified as 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari, was beaten for hours until he died at the hands of a Hindu mob in the eastern state of Jharkhand. The death of Ansari, who married less than two months ago and is seen crying and begging for mercy in the video, has sparked protests in cities across India. His family says they were threatened by the police with a similar fate when they begged to get him treated while he was in custody, according to a report in The Wire. Police have arrested at least 11 people over the attack.

Ansari became the first victim of hate crime in the second term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. He is survived by a young wife who wants to know who in the country she can now turn to for justice. “My husband was my only support. Who will I live for now? I want justice,” she told the TV channel NDTV.

Just two days after the attack on Ansari, a 26-year-old Muslim teacher who taught in a religious seminary was thrown out of a train in the eastern state of West Bengal. Hafeez Mohammed Haldar was traveling when a mob chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ ( Glory to Lord Ram) and pushed him out of the train. Hafeez managed to escape death with minor injuries.

In the same week, on June 27, a Muslim cab driver, 25-year-old Faizal Usman Khan was beaten up by a group of men at night, barely minutes away from Mumbai, India’s celebrated cosmopolitan city. When Faizal begged for mercy, the men asked him to chant Jai Shri Ram, now a rallying cry for Hindu nationalists in the country.

If the first term of Narendra Modi’s rule in India was criticized for dogwhistle politics, his second term sets the ground for fear and insecurity. The hate crimes might be committed by seemingly-ordinary men on the streets of India but the impunity of their actions is being given a new lease of life from within the aisles of the Indian Parliament.

Modi’s acolytes have often sold him as an inclusive leader, a unifier in the international arena but fail to explain the Prime Minister’s studied silence against hate in the country, often manufactured in his own backyard. Leila may be a dystopian vision but it is also a cautionary tale, the story of a once-inclusive India that becomes immersed in hate to fulfil the opportunistic ambitions of a leader who raises Hindu nationalistic slogans. And in Modi’s India, where chanting Jai Shri Ram on the streets to invoke hate crimes against minorities, it’s hard not to see how that dystopian vision could become reality.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 27, 2019 at 9:09pm

Silence or the grave: #India’s #justice system does far too little to protect witnesses. Conviction rates are just 6% in cases involving politicians. #Modi #AmitShah #BJP via @TheEconomist

he teenager riding down National Highway 31 was already living a nightmare. Two years earlier she had been raped, she claimed, by a group of men starting with Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a powerful politician in her home district of Unnao, in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Her family tried to file a complaint with the local police, who brushed them off. Then they began receiving death threats. In 2018 her father was allegedly beaten senseless in broad daylight by Mr Sengar’s brother and a bunch of goons—and then jailed on unrelated charges. His daughter despaired of finding justice in Unnao and left for the state capital of Lucknow, where she stood before the residence of the chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu cleric, and doused herself in kerosene, but was overpowered before she could light it. The next day her father died in police custody.

The victim continued to seek justice, to no avail. A witness to her father’s death died in jail. Her uncle was sentenced to ten years in prison on a 20-year-old charge. Mr Sengar and his allies in the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp), including Mr Adityanath and the mp from Unnao, celebrated a resounding victory at the polls in May. The victim wrote a letter to the chief justice of the Supreme Court asking for help.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 28, 2019 at 4:45pm

Half of #India #police feel #Muslims more likely to commit #crimes. Study finds 'significant' anti-Muslim bias among police; 1 in 3 calling mob attacks in cow-slaughter cases 'natural'. #Islamophobia #Modi #Hindutva #BJP #lynching @AJENews 

A new study says police in India display "significant bias against Muslims", with half of the police personnel interviewed saying they feel Muslims are "naturally prone towards committing crimes". 

The report, which surveyed 12,000 police personnel in 21 Indian states, also found one in three police staff felt mob violence in cases of cow slaughter was "natural".

The findings, published on Tuesday, come amid concern from the United Nations and rights groups over an increase in harassment of and violence against India's Muslim minority after the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, assumed power in 2014.

Since then, dozens of people, mostly Muslims, have been killed by vigilante mobs on allegations of eating beef or slaughtering cows - an animal considered sacred in Hinduism. Modi has repeatedly said authorities should punish vigilantes who commit violence in the name of cow protection, but his critics allege the government has not done enough to prosecute those accused of killings.

Tuesday's study, titled The Status of Policing in India Report: Police Adequacy and Working Conditions, found 14 percent of police surveyed believed Muslims were "very much likely" to be prone to committing crimes, while 36 percent felt members of the faith were "some-what likely" to do so. 

"Thirty-five percent personnel feel (to a large extent and somewhat combined) that it is natural for a mob to punish the culprit in case of cow slaughter," it added. 

"Some of the findings were very surprising," said Manjesh Rana, one of the researchers on the year-long survey, because "we believe that this could be the perception of the people but not the perception of the police."

But he added: "We can't really establish that the prejudices they have, whether it's affecting their work or not but there are always these chances." 

The study also found 60 percent of those surveyed believed migrants from other states were more likely to commit crimes. Separately, more than half felt complaints of gender-based violence were false.

The researchers described the survey as the first of its kind in India, covering police perceptions on a range of issues, including working conditions, resources and obstacles to investigating crimes. 

Nearly a third of respondents said pressure from politicians was the main obstacle to investigating crimes, while an overwhelming majority of 72 percent said they encountered "political pressure" in probes involving influential people. 

The study also found more than a third of police personnel surveyed favoured handing out "a small punishment" for minor offences than a legal trial, while one out of five felt "killing dangerous criminals is better than a legal trial". 

It added: "Four out of five personnel believe that there is nothing wrong in the police beating up criminals to extract confessions."

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 2, 2020 at 6:15pm

The destruction of #India’s judicial independence is almost complete. The hall of shame of the #Indian #judiciary in recent times is sullied with brazen cases of #HumanRights violations. #BabriMasjid #Hindutva #Modi #Islamophobia #Kashmir

Last week, as India rolled out plans to deal with the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Supreme Court quashed the bail petition of Anand Teltumbde, one of India’s leading scholars, and asked him to surrender to the police in the second week of April.

Teltumbde, an advocate for India’s most disadvantaged communities, including Dalits, once called “untouchables," has been swept up in a broad crackdown against lawyers, activists and dissent in general. He has been accused of supporting a banned group of Maoist militants, known as Naxalites, who seek to overthrow the government — charges he of course denies. Many of those charged have been languishing in jail for a long time.

Teltumbde’s work against the caste system in India and his fight against majoritarian politics made him a target of right-wing leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Teltumbde has been on the forefront of condemning the communal politics unleashed by Modi and has compared him to Hitler. He also rightly accused Modi of being complicit in the anti-Muslim carnage of 2002 that left more than 1,000 people dead in the state of Gujarat, when Modi was chief minister.

Teltumbde’s unfair treatment by our judiciary underscores the loss of independence by India’s institutions. The refusal by the Supreme Court to grant him bail came soon before a former chief justice, Ranjan Gogoi, joined Parliament after being nominated by Modi government. Gogoi delivered some of the most crucial rulings in recent times that helped enable the Modi administration’s majoritarian agenda. His appointment, just four months after his retirement (and after he was accused of sexual harassment), has raised big questions about justice in the era of hypernationalism that Modi has come to represent.

In November, Gogoi delivered a big victory to Modi when he ruled on the Babri Masjid, an important mosque for Indian Muslims demolished in 1992 by right-wing Hindu nationalists. The court ended up awarding the land to a Hindu litigant. It was a judgment by Gogoi that also cleared the Modi government in allegations of corruption in a defense deal involving the purchase of Rafale fighter jets. The administration was accused of bypassing procedures and compromising national security to clear an arms deal that benefited an Indian billionaire.

Now Gogoi has been rewarded with a place in the Indian Parliament, putting a spotlight on the unholy nexus between political power and the Indian judiciary.

It’s clear India’s Supreme Court has been politicized and has become pliant toward the current administration. Recently, Justice Arun Mishra, who has also ruled in favor of Modi, hailed the prime minister as a versatile genius, an internationally acclaimed visionary who thought globally and acted locally. The comment was widely criticized, including by the Supreme Court Bar Association. Mishra led the justices who refused to grant relief to Teltumbde, despite the flimsy evidence presented in his case.

The hall of shame of the Indian judiciary in recent times is sullied with brazen cases of human rights violations. In February, when Delhi saw horrifying communal carnage that led to the loss of 53 lives, arson and hundreds injured, the Delhi High Court called out the state police for its complicity and asked to take action against ministers from the BJP government who gave hate speeches against Muslims. The judge who delivered the order was transferred overnight.

The Supreme Court once called Modi a modern-day Nero for looking the other way as innocent women and children were burning in the 2002 attacks on Muslims in Gujarat.


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