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Indian Muslim

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    By IANS,

    Muzaffarnagar: The riot-ravaged Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh was calm for a third day Thursday, with the authorities relaxing curfew for seven hours, even as the death toll went up to 43.

    Out of the deaths, 38 people have died in Muzaffarnagar alone, three in Baghpat and one each in Saharanpur and Meerut, a state home department official said.

    Curfew will be relaxed for 12 hours Friday as the situation is fast improving, the official said.

    The government sent in additional food supplies, gas cylinders and foodgrain to the city as markets had been shut for more than five days.

    Meanwhile, the district administration cracked down on political leaders headed towards Muzaffarnagar, the state's sugar capital and home to four million people, and arrested a dozen legislators and 151 of their supporters.

    Prominent among those who were arrested included senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kalraj Mishra and Civil Aviation Minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh. Both were released after some hours.

    The district administration also initiated the process of meetings with "shanti samitis (peace committees) and warned people to be careful of rumours and crosscheck with the authorities before reacting.

    A government spokesman also announced that Rs.1 lakh has been announced as a reward for anybody giving information on the person who uploaded the inflammatory and fake video clip on YouTube after which people resorted to violence.

    The government clarified that the video clip said to be of Kawal village was in fact two years old and of an incident in northwest Pakistan. Though the video was blocked Aug 30, police officials said the clip was distributed through CDs, pen drives, and shared on social media websites.

    With the Samajwadi Party government cracking the whip after coming widespread criticism, senior police officials, including two additional generals, are among those deployed in Muzaffarnagar.

    The Akhilesh Yadav government has also cracked down on local police, suspending the station house officials of Fugana, Bhaurakala, Shahpur and Meerpur in Muzaffarnagar and attaching them to the state police chief's office.

    The station house officials of Bamnauli, Badaut and Wazidpur in Baghpat have also been suspended for failing in control the situation, while circle officer and station house official of Mawana in Meerut were removed.

    Meanwhile, the number of people placed under preventive detention rose to 12,000 by evening and the number of arm licenses that were cancelled stood at 2,300.

    "The first half of the week has gone in controlling the violence and we are now focused on bringing life back to normal and the process of identifying people affected by the riots - deaths, injuries, loss of property be it home or commercial establishments," an official said.

    Home Secretary Kamal Saxena said that 10 shelter camps for the displaced have been set up in which roughly 10,000 people have taken refuge. The relaxation in curfew has also taken place at the hours will be increased further, he added.

    Police officials meanwhile have been a door to door checking operations to identify "any remnants of mobs" and have since confiscated a large amount of ammunition, including 41 cartridges of AK-47 assault rifles.

    Communal clashes erupted in Muzaffarnagar Saturday after simmering discontent over a case of harassment Aug 27 in which three people were killed.


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    By IANS,

    Lucknow : The Uttar Pradesh government late Thursday ordered the cancellation of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally scheduled for Sep 15 in Fatehpur Sikri near Agra.

    Officials said that the district administration cancelled permission for the rally after reviewing the situation in the state in the wake of communal riots in Muzaffaranagar.

    The rally, to be held about 350 km from state capital Lucknow in a city founded in the 16th century by Mughal emperor Akbar, was to be addressed by party patriarch Lal Krishna Advani and BJP general secretary Varun Gandhi. The BJP had been making elaborate arrangements for the rally over the past month.

    Permission for holding the rally in Akola within Fatehpur Sikri, 18 km from Agra, had earlier been granted by the state administration.

    As the news of the cancellation of permission for the rally spread, angry BJP workers raised anti-government slogans and charged Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his government of working under the pressure of state Minority Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan.

    State spokesman of the BJP Vijay Bahadur Pathak slammed the state government and said all talk of restoration of democracy by the Samajwadi Party (SP) government when coming to power was proven a "big sham."

    "Cancelling political activity without any rhyme or reason... is this democracy?" Pathak asked. He said the cancellation of permission for the rally smacked of minority appeasement.

    He asked why, when the Samajwadi Party's national executive meeting could occur in Agra for two days, the BJP could not hold a rally a few kilometres away.

    Firming up its position on the issue, the state president of the BJP Laxmikant Bajpayi said the party will go ahead with its plans, and dared the Akhilesh Yadav government to do whatever it can.

    Accusing Chief Minister of robbing people of their basic political rights, Bajpayi said the state unit of the BJP will not be cowed down.

    "There is no rationale, logic behind the cancellation of our rally, which had been approved by the government," the state BJP president said.

    Sources say the party has now decided to take the matter to the streets and ensure that the Samajwadi Party government is exposed and cornered.


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    By IANS,

    Srinagar: Authorities continued curfew in south Kashmir Shopian, Kulgam and some other towns of Jammu and Kashmir Friday to maintain law and order.

    Tension had gripped Shopian town Wednesday, when a civilian was killed allegedly in paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) firing in Gagaran village, adjacent to Shopian town.

    Four people were killed Saturday at the same place in CRPF firing.

    Three of the slain were later found to be unarmed civilians.

    Curfew was imposed in Shopian town Wednesday. It has also been imposed in south Kashmir Kulgam, Kakapora and Khudwani towns.

    Jammu and Kashmir government Thursday ordered the shifting of the CRPF camp from Gagaran and its replacement by local armed police.

    A probe headed by the district magistrate of Shopian has also been ordered in both firing incidents of Sep 7 and 11.

    State police has been directed by the government to submit its investigation report on the firing incidents within 24 hours, so that the government is able to decide whether a judicial probe needs to be undertaken into these incidents.

    Separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has appealed to the people to protest the Gagaran firing incidents after Friday prayers.

    Authorities have imposed restrictions in and around Srinagar city centre Lal Chowk, where Pro-Azad Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik has announced a sit-in Friday against the Gagaran firing incidents.


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    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: Aaghaz-e-Dosti (An initiative for Indo-Pak friendship, started by Mission Bhartiyam) organized its fourth Aman Chaupal today on 11 September 2013 at Rainbow English Senior Secondary School in Delhi .

    Aman Chaupal is an informal session wherein people from Pakistan or who have been to Pakistan share their experiences and address students’ curiosities and questions. This is the fourth Aman Chaupal. The first and the second were done with peace activist from Pakistan Saeeda Diep. The third was with author and journalist Raza Rumi.

    In this Aman Chaupal, Kiran Nazish was the guest. She is a journalist-activist. Her works appear in reputed newspapers like Dawn, Express Tribune, Friday times, Tehelka, Forbes, Huffington Post and several others.

    The session began with stating the objective and importance of the session. "It is to bridge the communication gap that guides Indo-Pak relations and that gives way to stereotypes and mutual hatred and suspicion. It is to show the other side of Pakistan that the Indian media never shows", remarked Devika Mittal, convenor of Aaghaz-e-Dosti.

    After a warm welcome with flowers, Kiran Nazish had addressed about 100 students from classes 10th-12th. Atleast, the barrier of language was destroyed, the questions and response could be in either Hindi/Urdu or English. The first question was on the issue of Kashmir. This was followed by questions on the recent clash, killing of Indian soldiers by the Pakistani army the case of Sarabjit Singh and the "un-cooperative" attitude of Pakistan Government.

    "While Pakistan had killed Sarabjit, the Indian Government had treated the Pakistani terrorist as a guest. While soldiers have been mercilessly killed on the borders, the Indian Government did not responded back. When the Prime Minister of India was in Pakistan for friendship, Kargil was announced.", argued a student.

    This had earned a lot of cheer from the crowd. The reason for the cheer indicated the popular sentiment. Kiran Nazish responded to this by pointing out the factual errors caused by the bias in the Indian media, their failure to show the other side of the story. She also talked about the need for peace, the need to "stop somewhere".

    She talked about the sentiments that we attach to the soldier. She talked about the innocent life lost in clashes of the "black sheeps" on both sides of the border.

    There were also questions on the status of religious minorities and women. "Are people free to go to temples?" was a question on the status of religious minorities. Kiran Nazish remarked that there are many temples and churches in Pakistan. They also celebrate Diwali and Holi. There are constitutional provisions that seek to safeguard the religious minorities. They are free to practice their religion. There is a quota for minorities in the educational institutions.

    Are women free? Is the purdah system rigid? She answered that there is freedom. Women have access to equal opportunity. The purdah system is not rigid. It is generally for the conservative families.

    While there were several questions on political and controversial issues which were a clear reflection of the media portrayal of Pakistan, when the students were asked if they would like to go to Pakistan, many hands shot in air. A student had also raised the desire and need for a cultural-exchange programme.

    The principal spoke about the need to forget the past, bridge the differences and bring peace and prosperity. She talked about the importance of youth in this endeavour. She remarked, "Pehle hum ek the, mann bhi ek tha, aman bhi tha par ye ashanti Kaha se aa gai? Kaise hum shaanti laaye? Kaise hum phir se ek ho sake? Aap aane wale kal ki dharohar hai. Aap bachche chahe toh hindustan ko bhi ucha utha sakte hai, jo Pakistan ko bhi acha bana sakte hai, pure vishwa ko acha bana sakte hai. Aap umeedein hai, aashayein hai."

    The programme ended with a gesture of hope, a warm hug by the principal to Kiran Nazish.

    Madhulika Narasimhan, the co-ordinator of Aman Chaupal, had concluded the session by talking about the need for a rational perspective on the issues. She suggested that besides the Indian reporting of a news, there is also a need to look at the Pakistani reporting of the same news.


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    By M Reyaz, TwoCircles.net,

    New Delhi: “The Muzaffarnagar riots have made it imperative on the Central Government to bring an ordinance on the Prevention of Communal Violence, and then see to its timely passage in the Parliament,” said Swami Agnivesh, while speaking on a seminar organised by the Urdu Press Club International at Delhi's Mavlankar Auditorium on Thursday evening on “Communal Violence Control Bill.”

    He said that he sees no particular reason why the bill is stuck in the logjam, besides being introduced in the Parliament way back in 2005.



    Swami Agnivesh

    other speakers in the programme included Justice MSA Siddiqui, chairman, National Commission for Minority Education, Chairman of All-India Muslim Backward Classes Federation (AIMBCF) Ibrahim Qureshi, former Chairman of the National Minority Commission Tarlochan Singh, former Additional Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh Vibhuti Narain Rai and former Samjwadi party leader Kamal Farooqui.

    Coming out in open support of Azam Khan, who did not attend the SP annual meeting in Agra, Farooqui said that is sad that he is being ridiculed for expressing his displeasure on behalf of the community. Taking a dig at the UPA government, he said that when the government wanted they could pass 18 bills (in Rajya Sabha and 13 in Lok Sabha) in the monsoon session, but no one is even talking about the communal violence bill.

    He highlighted the fact that the Congress had promised a speical bill for prevention of communal violence in the 2004 general elections, after the gruesome 2002 Gujarat pogrom and that the government has not yet fulfilled its promises. He said the bill was prepared by the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council (NAC), and still the government has not bothered to move it forward.



    Former Additional Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh Vibhuti Narain Rai condemned the Muzaffarnagar riots, adding that any riot can be controlled within 24 hours if the government and administration is willing to check the rioters.

    IPS VN Rai, who was SSP of Meerut during the infamous Hashimpura riot and later also served as IG of Meerut division said, “If any riot is not quelled within 24 hours, then either the government is inapt or complicit,” for some political agenda.

    VN Rai, who has authored five novels in Hindi and is currently serving as the Vice Chancellor of the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya at Vardha too pressed for a comprehensive anti-communal violence bill, adding that although the present laws are also sufficient and if implemented with good intent, all sorts of violence could be curtailed, however, what the present system lacks is the accountability of the police and local administration and compensation package.

    He said that if local administration and police are made accountable vis a vis incidents of riots, cases of riots would be reduced considerably, adding that the compensation and rehabilitation of the riot victims should be the responsibility of the State.



    MSA Siddiqui added that the Communal violence bill has the required checks and balances to book erring officials for abdication of duties. Shunning the politics over the communal violence bill by BJP, Ibrahim Qureshi of AIMBCF said that those who are opposing the bill have vested interests, adding that a similar act for the protection of SC/STs , the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is already there and that the proposed bill was on the same pattern.

    Tarlochan Singh, former Chairman of the NCM and Rajya Sabha member, also urged the community to develop from amongst themselves leaders who could take them forward and not rely entirely on government.

    During the programme Tariq Faizi, general secretary of the Urdu Press Club International also shared his experiences of organizing a programme on the Communal Violence bill and how he faced with hurdles in terms of finance or refusal by auditorium management for a programme like this.

    Related:

    If riot is not controlled within 24 hours, either govt is anapt or complicit: Retd AIG of UP


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    By TCN News,

    Aligarh: An emergent meeting of All India Persian Teachers' Association (AIPTA) was held at the Institute of Persian Research, Aligarh Muslim University under the chairmanship of Prof. Azarmi Dukht Safavi, Director, Institute of Persian Studies and Research, Aligarh Muslim University and President, AIPTA to discuss the deletion of Persian and Arabic from the Union Public Service Commission examinations.

    Prof. Safavi said that both these languages are an integral part of India's history and culture. Persian is the source language to study the history and civil society of medieval India. All modem Indian languages ego Punjabi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malyalam etc. posses countless Perso­-Arabic words for which, even today, no synonyms in that language exist. Considering the antiquity of their impact and integration with Indian languages and culture, it will be wrong to treat Persian and Arabic as foreign languages. Also, Persian and Arabic are part of syllabi of a large number of Indian Universities and Colleges with hundreds of students studying these languages. Their deletion from civil services examination will deprive the candidates of their academic right to opt for theses languages.

    A Memorandum was unanimously passed requesting the Chairman, Public Service Commission to withdraw the decision and to restore Persian and Arabic languages as optional subjects in UPSC examination. Persian and Arabic teachers from Aligarh, Kolkata, Shantiniketan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Lucknow and 'other parts of India participated in the meeting and signed the Memorandum.


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    By IANS,

    Muzaffarnagar : Violence-hit Muzaffarnagar was calm for the fourth day Friday, with Uttar Pradesh officials saying that the three days of violence had left over 43,000 people homeless.

    And with the town and its surrounding areas inching towards its old self, cautious authorities Friday relaxed curfew for 12 hours -- 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    An official told IANS that the night curfew would be in place till the weekend.

    "Once the situation becomes normal, we will completely lift the curfew," said a senior police official.

    District authorities say more than 43,000 people who fled their homes, primarily from surrounding villages, are being sheltered in the 38 relief camps hurriedly set up in the district.

    The Uttar Pradesh government has sanctioned funds for financial compensation to the injured, riot-affected and ex-gratia for the next of kin of the 43 people officially listed as killed in the violence.

    An official said Rs.3.1 crore had been distributed to riot victims thus far.

    Recovery of arms and cancellation of arms licenses continued, with 300 more revoked till late Thursday.

    Home department officials said the police were trying to zero in on people who "electronically distributed" a fake video clip that aggravated the violence after Sep 7.

    As many as 70 people have been named in different first information reports (FIRs) but none has been arrested.

    Over 10,000 people continued to be under preventive detention. Police have confiscated a large amount of ammunition, including AK-47 cartridges.

    The violence erupted last weekend after simmering discontent following the harassment of a young woman Aug 27 in a village Muzaffarnagar district.

    Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav have accused rival parties of triggering trouble in Muzaffarnagar, a bustling city 130 km from New Delhi, and nearby areas.


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    (Five years after Sep 13, 2008 serial blasts)

    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The arrest of Yasin Bhatkal and his associate Asadullah Akhtar has given Delhi police hope of nabbing the other conspirators involved in the Sep 13, 2008 serial terror bombings in Delhi even as the kin of those killed in the attack continue to eke out a miserable existence.

    Bhatkal and Akhtar, who were arrested last month from the India-Nepal border, are in custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The two are named in the charge sheet filed by police in the bombing that killed 26 people and injured 133. Five near synchronous blasts had hit Connaught Place, Barakhamba Road, Gaffar Market and Greater Kailash Sep 13 evening. Three live bombs were detected in dustbins at Connaught Place, India Gate and outside Regal Cinema.

    With Bhatkal, the Indian Mujahideen co-founder, and Akhtar the number of arrests in the case has gone to 16. "We are hopeful of Bhatkal spilling more information, getting more names of the conspirators," a police source told IANS, declining to be identified.

    "At least 16 people, including Indian Mujahideen terrorists Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, have been arrested till now. Some more people are still named in the case who are yet to be arrested," said S.N. Srivastava, Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell), told IANS.

    In Gaffar Market, where several people were killed, life seems to have stood still for Meera Devi, 90. She lost four members of her family -- her son-in-law and three grandchildren, who were close to her and looked after her.

    Lying on a cot under a peepal tree, her present home, Meera cannot forget that day. Those killed were her son-in-law Harshan, 50, her unmarried granddaughters Saroj, 30, and Puja and her 26-year-old grandson Ashok.

    Saroj and Ashok were the children of Harshan, while Puja was the daughter of one of her daughters who resides in Haryana.

    "I was sitting near this peepal tree that day. I had gone to take a bath after repeated entreaties by Saroj. Suddenly, I heard an ear-splitting sound. I thought the earth had cracked. Bodies were lying here and there," Meera, her eye brimming with tears, recalled to IANS.

    "Oh god! Why didn't you take my life in place of my darling Saroj whom I brought up from her childhood? Why have you taken the life of Harshan who took care of me more than my own children?," Meera's voice choked.

    Meera has been struggling to earn a livelihood after the death of her relatives. She sells cardboard to be able to buy a breath inhaler and food.

    The story of Bhagwanti, 60, is similar. She lost her elder son Ganga Prasad alias Billu, 40, and eight other family members in the bombing.

    Bhagwanti told IANS that she was making tea for Billu when he returned from work.

    "Amma chai ubalo mey abhi aa raha hun (mother make me some tea, I am coming within a few minutes), these were his last words that keep coming to my mind. A few minutes after he left the home I heard a big bang. The whole area was filled with smoke and dust," Bhagwanti said. Her younger son Nand Kishore, 35, also received a severe head injury, but he is alive, she told IANS.

    Another woman residing in Gaffar Market, Saroj, 46, lost her only son Raju, 25, in the bombing and is now struggling to eke out a living with her meagre income along with her son's wife Yasoda and grandson Rahul, seven years old.

    Rahul was two years old then and does not know how his father died but he can explain that his father was killed in an act done "by some bad elements of society who should be hanged".

    Meera, like the others, is unaware that Bhatkal, one of the key perpetrators of the blast has been arrested. But she demands that those behind the bombing should be hanged.

    "Mere bachchon ko marne walon ko phansi de do (hang those who killed my children)," she said.

    One positive fallout of the market bombings in Delhi five years ago is that security stands considerably beefed up at these shopping complexes with closed-circuit television cameras and intensive patrolling.

    "A total of 1,000 CCTV cameras have been installed across all major markets," said a police officer. While in Greater Kailash markets they have installed 25 CCTV cameras, in the busy Karol Bagh market they have 66 such cameras.

    The police monitor the CCTV camera inputs 24x7, said the official.

    Besides regular patrolling in the markets, Delhi Police has now deployed special beat constables in the markets.

    "These constables are trained to pay attention to every small detail while patrolling, to observe everything closely, however, insignificant it may seem. Could be a bicycle parked for long in an area, a plastic bag," the official told IANS.


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    By IANS,

    Aligarh : A group of academicians from the Ohio State University in the US will visit the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Uttar Pradesh to help set up a science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty.

    The team from Ohio and the AMU, after its arrival Friday, would be here till Sep 18, said an AMU statement issued here.

    The American team would be working in close collaboration on a pilot project as part of memoranda of understanding signed between the US and the Indian government in June last year, it said.

    The visiting team would comprise Anil Pradhan, Sultana N. Nahar, Nick Booker and Ratnesh Bhattacharya.

    The project on the faculty plans to begin interdisciplinary research of mutual benefit in advanced research and innovation in areas of spectroscopy, nanotechnology, renewable energy, information technology, environmental sciences, cancer research and mathematical research.

    A total of eight MoUs were signed in June last year and the beneficiaries will receive an award of approximately $250,000 for all projects.


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    By Meha Mathur, IANS,

    New Delhi : Girls need to retaliate against sexual harassment and clothing cannot be made a convenient excuse for molestation.This was the general sentiment voiced by students of the Jamia Milia Islamia at a workshop here on gender sensitisation, many of whom were angry that despite the countrywide outcry after the Dec 16, 2012 gang-rape, attitudes had not really changed.

    Tanzila Taj, who is studying for a masters in sports physiotherapy, recounted the numerous instances when she has resisted men passing lewd remarks or touching her. She has beaten up the molester on one occasion, and taken another to a police station.

    “Why be shy? I always retaliate,” she said at the workshop organised by Jamia's Centre for Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Sciences. The workshop was held earlier this week.

    Taj also had a question: What does one do in case of remarks and gestures that men makes subtly, which can’t be proven, and because of which most women don’t file a case.

    “A complainant’s statement is believed… The presumption is in favour of women,” replied Manjula Batra a professor at Jamia's law faculty.

    Speaking to IANS, students also voiced anger against the deep-rooted beliefs that they have to face at every level. Zeba Saifi, a third-year bachelor of physiotherapy student, said she has to struggle against her male classmates’ perceptions about clothing.

    “It’s hard to convince them that girls’ dress doesn’t provoke. They are stuck in the belief that if a girl is wearing a certain kind of clothing she is inviting,” Saifi contended.

    There was anger among them that despite the country-wide agitation last December, harassment in buses, like people coming too close, continues.

    “Earlier I didn’t know how to react. I would think about it the whole day, and that would be the end of matter. But now, having participated in the agitation, I am emboldened, and do retaliate,” Saifi added.

    Among the few boys who attended the workshop, Farhan Hayat, also a third year physiotherapy student, said such events were vital.

    Coming from Varanasi, he said he now studies in an environment where a lot of teamwork is required.

    “Being one of just four boys in the class, I feel a bit awkward, especially in the practical work, where boys often have to be the subject,” Hayat said, adding that through team work, he had learnt what was right and wrong behavior in mixed groups.

    Mohammad Gulzar Iqbal, a second year student from Darbhanga, added another dimension: “When we are in groups, we unintentionally pass comments, which might be sexist. We can make a beginning by being more careful.”

    Senior faculty member Anjali Gandhi set the tone for the workshop when she stated that no matter what a girl was wearing, no one ha the right to stare; it's her body after all. And just because a girl asks you for notes, don't presume she's interested in you. Don't start owning people.

    “Even staring with those X-ray eyes is sexual harassment,” said Gandhi of the School of Social Work and chairperson of Jamia's internal committee that looks into sexual harassment of women at the workplace.

    Staring, stalking, making demands and advances, passing sexually-coloured remarks and even suggestive comments on social media are acts of sexual harassment, and can land you in trouble, the speakers at the workshop stressed.

    While these words of caution were directed at the boys, their presence in the hall was thin, primarily because there is a majority of girl students in the Centre.

    There was also anger at the general delay in the delivery of justice and exception to this was the verdict in the Dec 16, 2012 gang-rape that came in nine months, the law faculty's Batra said.

    “We need progressive judges to give brave judgments,” Batra added.

    A fast-track court here that Wednesday convicted four men for the gang-rape, sentenced them to death on Friday.

    M. Ejaz Hussain, the director of the Centre said Jamia and other universities should make gender sensitization workshops mandatory at the orientation stage.

    “These should be in small groups, for a better impact,” he noted.

    The speakers emphasised that Jamia was a safe place because of its culture of tehzeeb and its zero tolerance policy.

    “When students join at undergraduate level, their outlook is very narrow. By the time they are at the post-graduate level, their outlook broadens, especially in professional courses. But giving the opposite sex due dignity is an area that we have to work on,” said Sabiha Hussain, associate professor at the K.R. Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies.

    (Meha Mathur can be contacted at mehamathur@gmail.com)


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    By Mohit Dubey, IANS,

    Muzaffarnagar/Lucknow : Even as savagery and hatred blinded people in Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring districts over the last weekend, all does not seem to be lost. As two communities bayed for each others' blood, many examples of compassion, sane thinking and brotherhood stand out in the violence that killed 43, injured more than 90 and left a staggering 43,000 homeless.

    In reports collected from the countryside of western Uttar Pradesh by the special task force (STF) and the local intelligence unit (LIU) of the police, there were many village seniors who prevailed upon the "young and the mad" that spilling blood was no solution to any problem.

    A Jat family in violence-hit Fugna village gave shelter to seven Muslim families in their home, despite overpowering protests by others, and asked its family members to keep a watch by positioning themselves on roof tops, armed with lathi's and axes. The family of village head Brijendra Singh Malik, police officials told IANS, protected 70 Muslims and warned rioters to keep off the men, women, children and elders who had taken refuge in their house.

    He also informed the district administration of the refugees and ensured that they were escorted to safety by police personnel. In the same village, the former village head, Choudhary Vedpal Malik, transported 50 people to safety Monday.

    Officials said that in the Gadh-Muzaffarnagar-Shamli area of the Baliyan Khap, made famous by the panchayats of late farmer leader Mahednra Singh Tikait, only a few stray incidents of violence were reported from Purbaliyan.

    "The fact that the Hindu-Muslim population in this area is almost equal and anything could have happened in the spur of the movement but better sense prevailed is incredible" Additional Director General of Police Arun Kumar said.

    Saluting the spirit of the people to ensure peace and calm, intelligence reports cite the example of Sanjeev Baliyan, village head of Dulheda village who, alongwith 20 others who hold arm licenses, held fort for more than four hours and did not allow 200 rioteers to enter the village. By his act of compassion and sheer bravery, he saved 40 lives.

    Another case of patience and maturity was in Muhammadpur Sakist, where despite the killing of a Hindu youth, the villagers saved the sole Muslim family in the village and safely took it to a relief camp. Officials told IANS that while Shamli was largely peaceful, it sat on a powderkeg of rumours for a long time. Despite this, in Peerkheda, the village seniors ensured that the 400 Muslims among the 3,000 residents were safe.

    And the examples of compassion and humanity did not end with the Hindu population as many Muslims too showed exemplary courage and doused the fires of communal rage that threatened to engulf the long-standing harmony in the area.

    In Shahpur, Sanavar Mohammad responded to the pleas of a mechanic Devendra Singh, caught in the middle of a rioting mob of Muslims near a mobile tower and took him to safety.

    Amid gutted shops, abruptly abandoned homes and the errie silence in these areas, in Badagaon on the Muzaffarnagar-Badhana road, the 80-year-old village head ensured with the help of the madarsa staff that police reinforcements rushed to the village and the army was allowed in.

    In Meeranpur, villagers of both communities took out a peace march on Thursday and appealed to people to give up hatred and let life limp back to normalcy.

    Life in Budhana area of Meerut similarly was brought back to normal at the initiative of the village elders, after which the shops were opened and commercial activities started after a five-day break.

    Locals said the blame squarely lay with politicians and the government. While the leaders went around delivering incendiary speeches at public meetings, the state government looked the other way, a village elder in Fugna alleged.

    (Mohit Dubey can be contacted @ mohit.d@ians.in)


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    By TCN News,

    Lucknow: A number of civil society groups and smaller parties have come together to organise a peace march tomorrow in Lucknow. The march will begin from Hindi Sansthan to Gandhi statue in Hazratganj at 11 AM.

    “The recent events in Muzaffarnagar do not bode well for society. The political parties are busy in communal polarization eyeing the next election at the cost of people's lives and property and large scale displacement from their villages. Newspaper reports say 10,000 people are in relief camps. To protest against communalisation of politics and hoping for restoration of communal harmony, a peace march is being organised by members of civil society, smaller political parties and people's organisations,”read a joint press statement.


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    By Ras H. Siddiqui, TwoCircles.net,

    San Francisco, USA: In a joint effort by San Francisco Bay Area Indians and Pakistanis, a late Eid event was held at the India Community Center facilities in Milpitas, California on Saturday, September 7th to the delight of approximately 300 people present.

    Eid-ul-Fitr or the end of Ramzaan actually fell on August 8th this year in most of the US, but it appears that the mood for celebration continues and the logistics of holding a special follow-up fell into place rather belatedly, bringing the local Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association (AMUAA), the India Community Center (ICC) and the Pakistani American Culture Center (PACC) to jointly lift our spirits by inviting Ghazal singer Sudhir Narain all the way from Agra, India to perform here.

    The evening was special as the cuisine was Mughlai and the décor inspired by many flickering flames, enticing people from the Indian and Pakistani community (including some from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Fiji) to take a trip down memory lane of bygone Eids in their respective homelands.

    Event emcee’s Sabahat Rafiq and Kamal Ahmed set the tone of what may well have technically been a “Basi” (old/aged) Eid but still one fresh in terms of the tradition of bringing all south-Asians together at this event. Brief backgrounds of the AMUAA, ICC and the PACC the hosting organizations were also presented.

    Cultural preservation is indeed a tall order, as passing some of its values on to the next generation continues to be a challenge. An official Eid greeting from President Obama was included here at this event along with an explanation of the background of its religious aspects (for the non- Muslims in the audience). Local inter-faith luminary Iftekhar Hai took the podium to explain the importance and need for mutual respect and understanding between all faiths, and that our adopted country (U.S.) honors pluralism a recipe which continually contributes to its success.

    A short segment devoted to kids in the community brought some children to the stage to be recognized for their first Roza (fast) and others to show their best of Eid attire. The only thing missing was the Savaiin (sweet vermicelli) dessert to make things complete here!

    The entertainment segment featured Sudhir Narain accompanied by Surjeet Singh on tabla and Dhiren Singh playing keyboards. The Ghazal genre has lost two of its giants with the passing of Ustad Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh Sahib. Sudhir Narain is cut from the same cloth even though unlike the two masters, he was not born in the State of Rajasthan.

    Sudhir started off with a call for spiritual unity with a divine number. But the legacy of Jagjit Singh and Mehdi Hassan dominated most of his amazing three hour non-stop performance as the organizers and listeners in the audience wanted little else. As a plus any night of Ghazal entertainment which starts off with the Urdu poetry of Ghalib and ends with Faiz Ahmed Faiz along with works of Ahmed Faraz and Bahadur Shah Zafar (and more) thrown in cannot be anything but mesmerizing, especially with Sudhir Narain singing.

    The programme could be made possible because of efforts of Talat Hasan of the ICC, Shaheer and Nihal Khan of AMUAA and Asghar Aboobaker of the PACC along with their respective teams.


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Describing the Muzaffarnagar violence as "a warning bell", the CPI-M Friday accused the RSS of creating communal rifts to benefit the BJP in the next Lok Sabha election.

    "The RSS had deployed its resources towards creating a communal polarisation which would benefit the BJP in the Lok Sabha election," said the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

    "The riots in Muzaffarnagar will be utilised to win over the jats to the Bharatiya Janata Party camp," said an editorial in the CPI-M mouthpiece "People's Democracy".

    Thirty-two people have been killed in the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh since the last weekend.

    "The disturbing feature was the violence spread to the villages causing many people to flee their homes."

    It said the riot followed a series of communal incidents in Uttar Pradesh in the past one year.

    The administration was certainly lax in dealing with the situation in Muzaffarnagar, the editorial said.

    "While the failure of the administration has to be pinpointed, the overall design and the political game-plan of the RSS-BJP combine should not be overlooked," it said.

    It said a BJP legislator had been accused of uploading a fake video which purports to show Muslims killing Hindus -- "which was actually a video shot in Pakistan some time back".

    The CPI-M journal said that in the past one year, the RSS and its outfits had been working to raise communally sensitive issues and create tensions.

    As major festival fall in October, the CPI-M asked the central and state governments to take precautionary measures "and to nip the mischief in the bud wherever it occurs".

    It added: "Muzaffarnagar is a warning bell. Every effort should be made to isolate the communal outfits to whichever community they belong."


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    By IANS,

    Riyadh : The Saudi Arabian government Friday approved the construction of residential complexes for foreign workers on the outskirts of Riyadh to provide them with suitable housing facilities.

    The High Commission for Riyadh Development (HCRD), a Saudi Arabia government agency, approved the residential project for expatriate workers that will include all hierarchies -- unskilled, technical, supervisory workers, administrators and engineers, the Arab News reported.

    Housing projects were implemented to address the problem of lack of housing facilities for the large number of foreign workers staying in the region.

    According to the guidelines release by the HCRD, the land area of the project must be a minimum of 80,000 square metres and should not be located in valleys or flood-prone areas.

    The housing complexes would not be located near heritage areas or in agricultural and tourist spots.

    The houses would be equipped with all modern facilities such as parking places, roads and stadium, the report said.

    The HCRD data also said that about 2.2 million Riyadh residents are non-Saudi.

    There are around two million Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia.


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    By Soroor Ahmed, TwoCircles.net,

    Be it the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in UP or relatively small one in Nawada in Bihar it is time for the Muslims, especially its leadership, to make introspection before lambasting anyone else.

    But unfortunately the community leadership has reacted in immature manner. Some went to the extent of equating Muzaffarnagar with Gujarat while others alleged that Mulayam has become Narendra Modi. The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat sought dismissal of the Akhilesh government––as if that is the best solution.

    But nobody ever asked as to why, of late, are the Muslim youths behaving in such a bizarre manner. Why has there been repeated incidents of Muslim boys harassing girls––be that of any community. Some may jump to the conclusion that it has now become a common phenomenon and Hindu youths too indulge in such brazen acts.

    So does this mean that Muslims have got the birth right to do the same? If Muslim youths have not learnt this much even when allegation of “love-jihad” is being hurled on them than there is no need to bemoan. Sexual harassment has the potential of creating social strife and the Muslim local leadership should have reacted responsibly. But it seems the saner elements have lost the control or think that it is not their duty.

    Take the case of Nawada in Bihar, where incidentally much less number of people died. But the loss of Muslim property was heavy. Some Muslim youths went to a Hindu highway motel and in a drunk state indulged in a brawl on the evening of Eid––a festival which comes after a month long Ramzan. Initially, many Muslims refused to accept this version and thought that it was media propaganda to malign the community and its festival, But later the leadership had to accept the fact as Muslim lumpens did provide enough ammunition for communal flare up.

    Dancing to the music on streets––sometimes in the vicinity of mosque––late on Eid night, is becoming common practice in many cities, towns and villages. A wine-dealer of a remote block-level township somewhere in the country boasted a few months back that he had to book extra order on the occasion of Holi, Diwali and Muharram––mark it the occasion of supreme sacrifice of Imam Husain.

    No it is not just the children of illiterate, ignorant and ruffian class who indulged in such behaviour. Sons and daughters of the neo-rich, the NRIs, the easy money-earners etc are busy flaunting their wealth while our ulema have no guts to preach them.

    Be it in Delhi or anywhere else the manner in which the Muslim motor-cycle riders cause panic and disturb people throughout Shab-e-Barat is downright condemnable. What is strange is that they blow horn, create all sorts of ugly scenes on the streets at mid-night while on way to graveyard or while returning.

    When will we teach our youths that these acts are not only un-Islamic, blasphemous and criminal, but has every potential to cause violence.

    Instead of timely action––it took a week time for Muzaffarnagar to go out of hand––Muslim leaders across the board started baying for Akhilesh’s blood. Many of them started shouting Mayawati government was better than the Samajwadi Party one. There is no denying the fact that the Akhilesh government failed to check the riots in UP. But it is other thing to equate it with Gujarat. True UP has more than one CMs––Akhilesh, Mulayam, and so many uncles. They are all power centres and there is utter administrative confusion and chaos not only in handling riots, but on other issues too.

    Still the truth is that there is absolutely no scope for comparison at this stage. Yes Mayawati rule saw fewer riots, but then the ground reality was entirely different. Two years back the BJP was down in the dump all over the country. Narendra Modi was not projected as the prime ministerial candidate. The party rank and file was not aggressive. All these are recent developments. The Sangh Parivar had concentrated all its energy on UP and Bihar. Amit Shah has been made in-charge of the state.

    As if that was not enough: the Samajwadi Party came to power with overwhelming Muslim support. So the design now is to create rift. There was no such social combination when Mayawati was in power nor was the BJP rank and file so charged.

    What is of concern is that the present communal riots have created rift between Muslims and Jats in the western UP, But by over-reacting and showing little political maturity there is fear of Muslim-Yadav relationship coming under strain elsewhere in the state.
    --

    Soroor Ahmed is Patna-based columnist.


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    By IANS,

    Mumbai : Raj Kumar Yadav, who will be seen as lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was shot dead in his office, got the right look for his role with the help of late advocate's mother.

    Hansal Mehta's "Shahid" will capture the spirit Azmi, who was defending one of the key accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks trial. Azmi was killed in 2010.

    Mehta said that when they were shooting at the Azmi's office, his mother came to visit them.

    "She looked at Raj Kumar and she kept looking at him. She said the pen is missing, she made him put a pen... and she looked at his hair, sort of approved the way he was looking," Mehta said in a statement.

    Reportedly, Azmi's mother was very curious to know who would be playing the role of her son and how he would look, even before the shooting of the film began.

    "Shahid" is all set to release in theatres Oct 18.


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    By M.R. Narayan Swamy, IANS,

    New Delhi : For one who sold tea as a boy at a railway station in Gujarat, Narendra Modi has had a meteoric rise in Indian politics, catapulting from an untested chief minister of 2001 to the prime ministerial candidate in just 12 years.

    Wedded to Hindutva - or the ideology of Hindu nationalism - from a young age, the 62-year-old Gujarat strongman, who evokes emotions like no other politician, is uncompromising vis-à-vis his goals, with an ability to transform every adversity into an opportunity, colleagues say.

    He became the first 'pracharak' (campaigner) in Hindu rightwing politics to become a chief minister in only 13 years, taking control of one of India's most developed states though he had no administrative experience until then.

    But in his long political innings, his biographers and critics have accused Modi of dumping those who helped him to go up the ladder. The latest in the list is Lal Krishna Advani, who as a star of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mentored Modi even when he was virtually unknown.

    Political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, who knows Modi intimately, told IANS: "He is a man of firm conviction. He is extremely honest and hard working. He is not given to compromises, whatever the consequences. And Modi will never bend even for the sake of a temporary victory."

    In complete contrast to now, Modi's early life was unremarkable.

    Born into an ordinary lower middle class family in Mehsana district in Gujarat Sep 17, 1950, he was the third of four children. His father, Damodardas, made tea at a small shop. The son would take it in a kettle to sell it to train passengers at the Vadnagar railway station.

    The family house was poorly ventilated and got little natural light, the sole kerosene lamp only adding to smoke and grime. Those who have known him say he was an average school student.

    By his own admission, he was a devout Hindu who for over four decades has fasted during Navratri taking only water.

    According to biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Modi married young but the marriage was unconsummated. He kept the wedding a secret because otherwise he would not have become a 'pracharak' in the puritan Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

    Modi displayed skills at oratory even in school. He would often disappear from his family for months, staying in isolated places or wandering in the Himalayas. Once, he camped in a small Hindu temple in the Gir forest. He decisively broke away from his family in 1967.

    Modi formally joined the RSS after the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

    He moved to the RSS office in Delhi where his chores included, after waking up at 4 a.m., cleaning the office, making tea as well as breakfast and evening snacks for senior colleagues, and replying to mails. He would also clean utensils and sweep and clean the entire building.

    Modi even washed his own clothes.

    When Indira Gandhi declared emergency rule and jailed political foes, Modi - back in Gujarat by then -- went underground, tirelessly crisscrossed places on a Bajaj scooter, occasionally disguised, and printed and sent booklets against the central government to Delhi.

    Even as he embraced politics, Modi graduated in political science from Delhi University and went on to do his Masters from Gujarat University.

    Modi won the admiration of seniors for his hard work and efficiency. In 1987-88, he was deputed to the BJP's Gujarat unit as organizing secretary, marking his formal launch in mainstream politics.

    Modi slowly took control of the BJP across the length and breadth of Gujarat, interacting intimately with activists, and played a key role in 1990 when Advani took out his Rath Yatra (chariot march) from Somnath to Ayodhya, an event that catapulted the BJP on to the national stage like never before.

    Modi organised Murali Manohar Joshi's Kanyakumari-Srinagar Ekta Yatra (Unity March) in 1991 when Joshi was the party president.

    But even as he gained political clout, he had his detractors. In 1992 he was sidelined in the Gujarat BJP. Seniors like Keshubhai Patel, Shankersinh Vaghela and Kanshiram Rana resented Modi's rise. He was said to boss over others. Over time, Modi was accused of exploiting differences among other leaders to his own benefit, eventually replacing Chief Minister Patel - whose confidant he was earlier -- in 2001.

    Modi's present day identity is largely influenced by the 2002 communal violence when his government was widely blamed for conspiring with Hindu rioters against Muslims, over 1,000 of whom died in that carnage. The charge has stuck for over a decade.

    Modi faced the prospect of being sacked only after a few months in office as then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was deeply anguished over the Gujarat violence. But Advani came to Modi's rescue. Modi later led the party to a remarkable win in 2002 - and has never looked back.

    Over time, Modi became a symbol of development and the party's ability to deliver good governance. Large sections of the middle class began to root for him, especially for his I-can-do attitude and his resolve to fix the ills of the nation plaguing by multiple problems, including a languishing economy.

    That was enough for the BJP, out of power for a decade, to prop up the determined Modi as its election campaign chief in June and, on Friday, as its prime ministerial candidate.

    (M R Narayan Swamy can be contacted at narayan.swamy@ians.in)


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    By IANS,

    Jammu: A judicial probe ordered into the Aug 9 communal clashes in Jammu and Kashmir's Kishtwar town is set to begin Saturday, a source said.

    Justice (retired) R.C. Gandhi "will operate from the tourist reception centre in Kishtwar town from today (Saturday)", a source told IANS.

    Justice Gandhi will visit the places where violence occurred and also ascertain whether there were any administrative lapses in the handling of the violence in Kishtwar that left three dead and properties worth crores of rupees gutted.

    The probe was ordered by the state government Aug 23, and the retired judge is expected to submit his report in a month.

    While police have arrested over 50 people during investigations into the arson and violence in Kishtwar Aug 9, nobody has so far been arrested for the three deaths that occurred in the communal clashes.

    Jammu and Kashmir's former minister of state for home Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo, also the sitting MLA from Kishtwar, resigned as minister after the violence.

    The state government called in the army to restore order in Kishtwar.

    The rioting mobs had looted over 40 guns from a shop in the town Aug 9, and the police has so far recovered two dozen stolen weapons.


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    By IANS,

    Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked the state police to use the National Security Act against any one trying to create communal tension in the state, officials said Saturday.

    A day after Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Sharad Yadav said attempts could be made to foment communal riots in Bihar before the 2014 general elections, Nitish Kumar ordered police to be more vigilant against communal strife.

    Anti-riot squads should be properly trained to deal with such situations, he said.

    Police has also decided to impart special training to anti-riot teams of the Rapid Action Force.

    In a JD-U meeting in New Delhi Friday, Sharad Yadav said he was apprehensive of communal polarisation in Bihar and other parts of the country following riots in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district.

    "Since elections are due early next year, those with a divisive mindset will make all attempts to foment communal riots," he said.

    In August, Nitish Kumar said he was "disturbed" after a communal clash in Nawada town claimed two lives and left nearly a dozen people injured. It led to the imposition of curfew for the first time during his tenure of nearly eight years. The situation has since then returned to normal.


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