Double, double, toil and trouble…

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

2018 is likely to be one long round of electioneering — besides the north-eastern states, assembly elections are due in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan where the BJP is incumbent, and in Karnataka that the BJP is trying to wrest from the ruling Congress party. And it is all shaping up into the sort of witches’ brew that Shakespeare provided the recipe for.

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WTFJH: The October 14 weekend edition

#1. It takes just one news story to meet, and exceed, the weekend’s whatthefuckery quotient:

Over two years after Mohammed Akhlaq was beaten to death on suspicion of consuming beef, the accused in the case, all of whom are out on bail, may soon secure jobs.

Moreover, the family of Ravin Sisodia, one of the murder accused who had died in jail of multiple organ failure, is soon likely to get Rs 8 lakh compensation.

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No Muslims need apply


The clip above, from this story on recruitment of yoga teachers. When a government announces that its “policy” is to select no candidates at all from a particular community — no matter how qualified — there seems little left to say.

In passing: Back in the day, Shameem Akthar Sharif used to be one of the bright, upcoming young journalists at Times of India. She married my long-time colleague Saisuresh Sivaswamy (in a temple at Matunga — I know, because I helped organise the wedding). Somewhere along the way, she got attracted to yoga, gave up journalism, spent years mastering the principles and practice, and is today one of the best I know. She writes with erudition on yoga (the subject of her two books), the vedas, shastras and beyond. She would be the poster-child for a government that means what its PM says, about the need for Hindus and Muslims to come together to fight India’s many existential battles.

When I read this, it was to her my mind first turned. I wonder how it feels for someone — whatever the caste, the creed, the community — to learn that “policy” deems her unsuitable, qualifications notwithstanding.

Update: Minister Shripad Mishra says the above RTI response is bogus. Milli Gazette stands by its story and says more documents to be released later today.

7 PM update: The ministry in question has responded officially. The text, below:

The Ministry of AYUSH has noted with anguish certain mischievous misinformation being spread in certain section of media and Social media quoting a reply to an RTI by mentioning a fabricated draft as Annexure I to that letter, which has never been issued by the Ministry of AYUSH or any of its agencies.

The Ministry strongly condemns this piece of misreporting, clearly aimed at causing chasm between different sections of Society and promoting disharmony and mistrust with ulterior motives. The ministry further clarifies that factual position is as under: –

RTI request dated 17.09.2015 was received in the Ministry, from one Shri Pushp Sharma seeking the following information –

  1. How many times (Date- Time- Year) Yog Councils were formulated in last ten years.
  2. Detail list of each council (Yog Council Members) every time when formulated in last ten years.
  3. Name of Yoga council members who got selected for more than one time, in last ten years.
  4. How many Muslim candidates were invited, selected or sent abroad as Yoga trainer/teacher during World Yoga Day 2015.
  5. In what capacity Mrs. Pratishta Sharma, self-manifested Aacharya is associated with AYUSH Ministry?
  6. What is the criteria to check criminal past of selected member or invited members to be part of Yoga division of AYUSH Ministry?
  7. How many times, since the first Yoga Council was formulated, AYUSH Minister Officially met Yoga Council?

On receipt of the query, Ministry forwarded this RTI request to its three agencies namely Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy and International Cooperation wing of the Ministry vide letter dated 08.10.2015. This is a simple forwarding letter under section 6(3) of RTI Act and therefore does not contain any reply to the queries. The same forwarding letter of the Ministry has been used by a section of the media in this matter, but with a non-existent, fictitious“ANNEXURE- I”, (which has never been issued by the Ministry).

The contents regarding religion based data in the so-called Annexure- I are not only fabricated but factually incorrect also. The response of the International Cooperation Section of the Ministry clearly said that invitations were sent to yoga experts/enthusiasts without reference to their religions.  Replies sent to the applicant by MDNIY, CCRYN are also enclosed for ready reference.

The Ministry is initiating appropriate action in the matter.

The relevant documents have been attached to the web post for download.

This story now on the watch-list. Awaited: The response and promised documentation from Milli Gazette, and the ministry action on what it calls out in no uncertain terms is a fraud.

10.15 PM Update: The ministry’s response is “misleading”, and refers to a different RTI application from the same journalist, says Milli Gazette. It has uploaded documents in support of its contention. Here, the response.

Still awaited, the ministry action in the case of fraud.

Outrage, Inc

A Scroll report:

One person was killed after a mob attacked a police station and damaged vehicles in Illambazar and Dubrajpur areas of Birbhum district, West Bengal, on Tuesday. The Indian Express said the Muslim mob was protesting after a college student reportedly put up an “objectionable post” on Facebook. NDTV reported that Sujan Mukherjee, was arrested and taken to Ilambazar police station. A Bolpur court remanded him in judicial custody for 14 days.

The mob on Tuesday had demanded that police hand Mukherjee over to them, and attacked the station, before setting fire to vehicles and blockading NH60.

What will it take for Muslims to get that if they resort to violence at every provocation, they are on extremely slippery ground when it comes to protesting the violence that is threatened, and used, against them?

(Before you ask, this is not to suggest that one outrage justifies another. The reverse — that all sides need to back off and STFU).

Smriti Irani does not interfere

In 2008 my then colleague in Rediff Syed Firdaus Ashraf and I traveled across parts of Kerala, to report on Muslim issues. At one point we found ourselves at a three-day conference on education, organised by various Muslim organisations in Cannanore — which in turn led us into conversations with several educators.

The crux of the story, in a series of clips:

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Sedition. And free speech.

Sedition charges have been filed against Rahul Gandhi, D Raja, Sitaram Yechury and others.

The XI Metropolitan Magistrate Court of L B Nagar ordered the cases to be filed on a petition by advocate S Janardhan Goud, who stated that he was disturbed by the video footage shown on Times Now and Zee News in which he heard students chanting anti-India slogans.


Denying any political affiliations, Goud said the videos shown on news channels had left him agitated. “I have been told that the videos are genuine and that some students really chanted slogans that they will cut the country into pieces. How can Rahul Gandhi and other leaders sit alongside such student leaders and express support to them when they chant anti-national slogans? I am a citizen of this country and I want to know what is going on at JNU and why these leaders visited the students. That is why I filed the petition.”

If it were so, it were a grievous charge…

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