The Indian Express – Use your power to protect ‘Raj Dharma’: Congress to President Kovind over Delhi violence

The death toll in the communal violence over the amended Citizenship law has risen to 34 in Delhi, and over 200 people have been injured till date.

New Delhi – India, 27 February 2020. Urging the President to use his power to protect ‘Raj Dharma’, a delegation of senior Congress leaders, led by party chief Sonia Gandhi, presented a memorandum to Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday, seeking removal of Union Home Minister Amit Shah for ‘abdication of duty’ during the violence in the national capital, in which 33 people have died so far.

“Instead of taking active steps to remedy or diffuse the situation, the Central Government as also the newly elected Delhi Government, have remained mute spectators as completely mindless rage, designed violence and organised looting of property has continued unabated,” the memorandum read.

The memorandum stated that the situation is so grim that the Delhi High Court had to step in on Wednesday and remind the Home Ministry and the police of their duty to act against the instigators and rioters. “This is a shameful indictment of the Central Government, the Home Ministry and the Home Minister himself,” it read.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was also part of the delegation, said that they urged the President to use his power to protect ‘Rajdharma’.

Sonia Gandhi said that they felt satisfied after meeting the President as he said he will take cognisance of their demands.

The memorandum further added that though the violence has taken over the course of four days but the seeds of this division have been sown by deliberate, inflammatory remarks made by BJP leaders in the run-up to and even after the Delhi elections.

The death toll in the communal violence has now risen to 33 in Delhi, and over 200 people have been injured.

Congress had on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah, holding him responsible for “a colossal failure of duty”. It added that the Delhi government was equally responsible” for “not activating the administration to reach out to the people to maintain peace and harmony”.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/congress-meets-ram-nath-kovind-delhi-violence-6289204/

OFMI – Hindutva launches war on India’s minorities amidst Trump visit

Muslim neighborhoods in Delhi targeted with extreme violence

New Delhi – India, 26 February 2020. As US President Donald Trump visited India to discuss a trade agreement with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi burned as mobs operating with police protection targeted Muslim neighborhoods throughout the country’s capital.

The violence began on 23 February after a leader in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party threatened to “take to the streets” if police do not clear away sit-in protests against India’s recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act.

“Three days’ ultimatum for Delhi Police: clear the roads in Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh,” said BJP’s Kapil Mishra while standing beside a senior police officer. “After this, don’t make us understand. We won’t listen to you. We will be peaceful till Trump leaves. After that, we won’t listen to even you if the roads are not cleared.”

Within hours, not days, violence erupted as pro-CAA groups took to the streets.

Mobs chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram) attacked Muslim-majority neighborhoods of Delhi. Videos show masked, helmeted men armed with poles beating people, hurling stones and petrol bombs, all while police stand idly watching. Houses, shops, buses, and cars have been set on fire.

On 25 February, a mosque was set ablaze while men climbed the minaret to hoist a flag bearing the image of Hindu deity Hanuman. Residents of Delhi claim the violence is instigated by elements affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh paramilitary.

Nearly 30 people are dead, hundreds are injured, and even journalists report facing attacks and beatings for filming the violence.

“Hindu nationalists have a history of instigating communal conflict to try and influence American policy towards India,” says Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India. “We saw it with the Chittisinghpura Massacre in 2000.

The BJP was in power when, on the eve of US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India, Indian intelligence agencies killed 35 Sikhs in cold blood and blamed it on Muslim terrorists to try to sway Clinton against Pakistan. Clinton saw through it then, and we can only hope Trump will see through it now.”

Trump has only offered praise for Modi, however. “We did talk about religious freedom, and I will say that the prime minister was incredible in what he told me,” said Trump after their meeting. “He wants people to have religious freedom and very strongly.”

Reporting from Delhi on 25 February, social activist Harsh Mander said the situation in the north-eastern section of the city “worsens alarmingly,” writing, “Mobs roaming with guns, shooting, and arson. Even ambulances are being blocked.

The police has failed completely in protecting innocent lives. Intense fear. To prevent all of Delhi from burning, the only recourse is to call in the Army. Now.”

“We ask you to raise your voice against the state-sponsored violence against Muslims in India,” said the Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI) in an open letter to concerned groups and individuals in the USA. “It is particularly shameful that this should be happening during the visit of President Trump, who is a close ally of Modi.

Far from condemning the attempts of Modi’s government to establish a Hindu majoritarian state, Trump has lauded the Indian government for its efforts towards ‘religious freedom’, an effort that seems to include the torching of places of worship by the goons supported and encouraged by the ruling party.”

CAFI concluded: “The situation can rapidly deteriorate into even greater violence and slaughter, even as Trump feasts at Modi’s table. The time to unite against these reprehensible actions committed by world leaders is now.”

“This is a time when we see what people are truly made of,” said Balbir Singh Dhillon, president of West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara. A businessman who was falsely jailed and tortured in India in the 1990s, he says that what is happening to the Muslims in India today happened to the Sikhs and Christians just yesterday.

“Any American politician who is truly for peace and pluralism in India has an obligation to speak out now. Congressmen like Ro Khanna, a Hindu-American of Indian descent who has publicly denounced ‘Hindutva,’ should be leading the charge against this new wave of hate and violence in Delhi. Why is he silent? Where are our other representatives when we really need them?”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity. Visit OFMI.org for more information.

www.OFMI.org

The Print – The Delhi pogrom 2020 is Amit Shah’s answer to an election defeat

The violence was clearly orchestrated to end peaceful protests against Amit Shah’s ‘chronology’.

Shivam Vij

New Delhi – India, 26 February 2020. Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police Rajesh Deo has told the Delhi High Court it has not seen the video of Kapil Mishra threatening violence in northeast Delhi. This one headline alone tells you everything you need to know about the violence in Delhi.

Kapil Mishra is a BJP leader, the Delhi Police is run directly by Home Minister Amit Shah, the right-hand man of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kapil Mishra made his provocative speech in the presence of a senior Delhi Police officer, making it clear that he wanted his followers to take the law in their own hands.

The Delhi pogrom of 2020 is state-sponsored. Anyone who cannot see that is pretending to be blind. In numerous accounts, videos and photos, we see the Delhi Police purportedly aiding and abetting the violence, either by looking away or actually participating in it.

A Delhi Police constable has been killed, as has an Intelligence Bureau official. The 24 dead (so far) include people from both religions — but more Muslims. When mass violence is provoked against a community, the community strikes back in defence.

That’s how it becomes a riot, spun as an ‘equal fight’ between two sides. Both are then blamed. But the truth is that it is primarily Muslims who have been targeted, Muslim shops burnt, a cemetery desecrated, a mosque taken over, pages of the Quran burnt, and so on.

What was the purpose of this violence? First, it was to prevent the scaling up of the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests. The women sitting in Seelampur, a Muslim-dominated slum area, rightly felt it was no use sitting there. Shaheen Bagh got attention by virtue of being in south Delhi, even though it is in a Muslim-dominated area. But Seelampur? It was like speaking to themselves.

Responding to a Bharat Bandh call by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, the women decided to move their protest to a road underneath the Jaffrabad metro station Saturday night. This blocked a road. Unless you block a main road, how do you get the attention of the mainstream? This is not the first time a road has been blocked by a group of protesting people.

But BJP’s Kapil Mishra said the blocking of a road was somehow a matter serious enough for people to take law in their own hands. He demanded that the road be cleared in both Jaffrabad and nearby Chand Bagh.

The Delhi pogrom 2020 is Amit Shah’s answer to an election defeat

Dawn – Comment: Three days of violent attacks in Delhi could not take place without state sanction

Violence in Indian cities simply does not take place over multiple days without the state’s active involvement.

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan

New Delhi – India, If it had been an hour or two, there might have been the argument that the police was unprepared. If it had come out of the blue while an important dignitary was visiting the national capital, one might have argued that the Home Ministry was blindsided. If it was taking place in a hard-to-reach part of the country, you could have said that the terrain made things difficult.

But when violent anti-Muslim mobs are able to roam freely in Delhi, India’s capital, for three whole days, after a ruling party politician stood in front of a top police officer and threatened to take violence into his own hands, it is clear that they have the sanction of authorities.

From videos and reports of Delhi Police either turning a blind eye or even taking part in the violence, to the silence of top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, there can be no doubt of the state’s role in the events of the last few days.

If the police were unable to stop the anti-Muslim mobs, they should have said so and called in the army to establish the peace. Yet, after a meeting on Tuesday, the Delhi Police said it had things under control, even as entire sections of the national capital were unreachable unless you were a member of a violent mob.

Reports and eyewitnesses over Monday and Tuesday made it clear that the mobs had the backing of the police and even their active involvement in some cases.

While many will point to violence coming from “both sides”, and undoubtedly there were incidents of stone-pelting from anti-Citizenship Act amendment protesters, the police’s partisan decision to support one group should be a clear indicator of what is going on here: state-sponsored mob violence, that is leading to retaliation.

It is worthless attempting to understand why the BJP-led government would want to resort to such violence, especially at a time when the USA president was visiting the capital.

Such speculation attempts to read tea leaves and look past the actual religiously divisive and violent rhetoric used by many in the party time and again: “shoot the traitors”, “we will enter their houses and beat them up”, “there is only one name, that is Jai Shri Ram.”

Home Minister Amit Shah admitted that his party should not have used such rhetoric in the run-up to elections in Delhi, in which the BJP was trounced. But the BJP politicians who made such statements saw small slaps on the wrist from the Election Commission at the most.

It is one of those politicians, Kapil Mishra, who gave an ultimatum to the police and sparked off the current round of violence in the capital. While other BJP leaders in the capital have even questioned his words, there has been no response from the party’s central leadership. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have been loud in their silence.

All of this again leads to the straightforward conclusion: The BJP-led government is responsible for three days of violence in Delhi.

This article was originally published on Scroll.in and has been reproduced with permission.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1536773/comment-three-days-of-violent-attacks-in-delhi-could-not-take-place-without-state-sanction

The Statesman – Residents of northeast Delhi form human chain for safety of children going to school

It can be seen in the video that the locals made a human chain to escort schoolchildren to safety amid the ongoing tensions in the national capital.

New Delhi – India, 25 February 2020. Residents of Yamuna Vihar in northeast Delhi are reportedly forming a human chain to ensure the safety of schoolchildren.

In a video that is being circulated on social media and is reported to be of the northeast Delhi, people are seen forming a human chain to escort their schoolchildren to safety.

A Twitter user shared the video with the caption, “This is happening now at Yamuna Vihar in East Delhi. Locals form a human chain to escort schoolchildren to safety. Police are nowhere to be seen.

Remember this is Delhi, barely 20 km north of Hyderabad House, the site of Modi-Trump joint statement an hour or so back.”

It can be seen in the video that the locals made a human chain to escort schoolchildren to safety amid the ongoing tensions in the national capital.

“Hope Delhi school administrations will take a call on a day-to-day basis on keeping the schools closed particularly in sensitive areas given the law & order situation,” a user wrote.

A post read, “Salute to these people….”

Another user wrote, “These are the small things that just remind me that humanity is still not strangled a political death.”

On Monday, the violence took an ugly turn in the city as stone-pelting started in Maujpur, a neighborhood of Jaffrabad, and the protesters later also shot fire at the police personnel.

In the violence, seven people including a cop were killed and nearly 100 were injured. After Jaffrabad and Maujpur, violence spread to Chandbagh and Bhajanpura areas as well following which an unspecified number of houses and shops were damaged or burnt.

Home Minister Amit Shah had held a late-night meeting with the Delhi police chief, the Union Home Secretary, and other senior officials to overview the situation in Delhi.

Shah today also chaired a meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, Congress leader Subhash Chopra, BJP leader Manoj Tiwari, and others.

Residents of northeast Delhi form human chain for safety of children going to school

Scroll.in – Why was Delhi Police unprepared for violence even after BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s threats?

Some videos even showed the police participating in the violence

New Delhi – India, 25 February 2020. For three days now, violence has gripped parts of North East Delhi. And for three days by Tuesday afternoon, the response of Delhi Police has been woefully inadequate.

Videos and witnesses have pointed to a complete failure by the Delhi Police to contain the aggressors, a lack of sufficient forces despite clear signs that they would be needed and, in some cases, the active involvement of the police in the violence.

What is going on?

The violence came after threats and stone-pelting on Sunday near sites of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in neighbourhoods with a significant Muslim presence in Delhi’s north east. On Monday, anti-Muslim mobs set out to evict protesters. Seven people died in the resulting clashes including a head constable of the Delhi Police.

The act provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants from three countries, except if they are Muslim.

Yet despite these developments and the heightened security that came as a result of the visit of US President Donald Trump to India’s capital, there were fresh reports of violence on Tuesday morning.

On Monday evening, as details of the intensity of the violence and the casualties emerged, a number of eyewitnesses, politicians and journalists all said that the police action had been inadequate, in some cases non-existent and in others complicit.

One leader of the Aam Aadmi Party said that the Commissioner of Police, who reports not to the Delhi government but to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs led by the Amit Shah of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was not answering requests for additional deployment.

It all began with an ultimatum on Sunday by BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who threatened to take the law into his own hands if the Delhi Police did not clear out protesters who had occupied public spaces in the area. Mishra stood in front of a police officer and said he would not even listen to the police if nothing had happened within three days. He proceeded to lead a pro-government rally close to a protest site.

Regardless of who began the violence since reporting on this remains unclear, it is apparent that Mishra’s threats were not just known to the police, they took place right in front of an officer. So there could be no excuse for the lack of preparedness for the tensions that followed.

The Indian Express reported that on the very same night of Mishra’s threats, stones were thrown at Muslim houses and their residents targeted. By Monday morning, things were even more tense. Yet the police were present in very small numbers, as noted by Reuters’ Devjyot Ghoshal.

Reporters at the spot said even where the police were present, they did not act. Scroll.in’s Vijayta Lalwani said that the authorities intervened only after a pro-government mob had been allowed to set fire to a shop.

“At 5.10 pm, a mob of young men saw a garment shop and a pan shop across the street from the temple,” said another report in the Indian Express. “Over 20 police personnel watched as young men, some teenagers, broke down banners, shutters, and looted the pan shop.”

A reporter for the Hindu also pointed out the belated actions of the police.

Even more disturbingly, the police seemed to participate in the violence. Reuters’ Ghoshal posted a video in which police personnel instructed an anti-Muslim mob on when to thrown stones, with one official joining in.

In contrast to the situation at the site of the protests against the CAA, where police were frequently using tear gas in an attempt to disperse crowds, the anti-Muslim mob sites had a more “festive” mood, with food being distributed to the police, The Wire reported.

“When we came into the area commandeered by the Hindutva group, the most notable thing was the aura of festivity,” the Wire report said. “A large group of people was shouting slogans, including the now notorious ‘goli maaro saalon ko’, while groups of people distributed biscuits.

A man was carrying around a large tray filled with plates of upma, which he was giving the policemen standing by, a significant number of whom were happily partaking of the food.”

By Monday evening, the Delhi Police had put out a few statements acknowledging the casualties and injuries, and calling on people to maintain peace. Yet by night, the Gokulpuri tyre market, which has a significant Muslim presence, and a mosque nearby was set on fire, even though it is right next to the area’s police station.

Despite all of these developments and widespread reporting on the inadequate presence of the Delhi Police, the same situation seemed to play out even on Tuesday morning.

https://scroll.in/article/954241/why-was-delhi-police-unprepared-for-mondays-violence-even-after-bjp-leader-kapil-mishras-threats

The Hindu – Shared values between India-USA are discrimination, bigotry, hostility towards refugees: Amnesty International

Amnesty International hit out at the Indian government over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, saying it legitimises discrimination based on religious grounds

New Delhi- India, 24 February 2020. The shared values between India and the USA are “discrimination, bigotry, and hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers”, Amnesty International USA said in a joint statement with Amnesty International India ahead of USA President Donald Trump’s visit to India on Monday.

Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner as well as senior officials of his administration, landed in Ahmedabad on the first leg of his two-day visit to India.

“Anti-Muslim sentiment permeates the policies of both the USA and Indian leaders. For decades, the USA-India relationship was anchored by claims of shared values of human rights and human dignity. Now, those shared values are discrimination, bigotry, and hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers, Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA’s executive director, was quoted as saying in the statement.

It was a reference to the anti-CAA protests in India, the internet lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir and the Muslim ban expansion by President Trump affecting Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania, the statement said.

It added that Amnesty International USA’s researchers travelled to Lebanon and Jordan to conduct nearly 50 interviews with refugees that as a result of the previous version of the ban have been stranded in countries where they face restrictive policies, increasingly hostile environments, and lack the same rights as permanent residents or citizens.

The statement also came down hard on the Indian government, hitting out at the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019 and saying it legitimises discrimination based on religious grounds.

It criticised statements such as identify them (the protestors) by their clothes or shoot the traitors by Prime Minister Modi and his party workers. Such remarks “peddled the narrative of fear and division that has fuelled further violence”, it said.

The internet and political lockdown in Kashmir has lasted for months and the enactment of CAA and the crackdown on protests has shown a leadership that is lacking empathy and a willingness to engage.

We call on President Trump and Prime Minister Modi to work with the international community and address our concerns in their bilateral conversations, Avinash Kumar, executive director, Amnesty International India said in the statement.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/shared-values-between-india-us-are-discrimination-bigotry-hostility-towards-refugees-amnesty/article30901690.ece

The Asian Age – Donald Trump to flag CAA, religion

Economic and energy ties as well as cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region will also be discussed, the US said.

Sridhar Kumaraswami

New Delhi – India, 23 February 2020. US President Donald Trump will raise the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and religious freedom issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit next week, and he will convey that “the world looks to India to maintain religious liberty and equal treatment for all under the rule of law”, the US administration said on Saturday.

It added that President Trump “will also encourage bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan” on the Kashmir issue, adding that the US expects Pakistan to crack down on terror outfits operating there.

The US said the “Make in India” campaign raised fears in the US of “protectionist” policies by New Delhi, while pointing to “the failure of the Indian government to provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors”.

Economic and energy ties as well as cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region will also be discussed, the US said.

In response to a question on the CAA, the US administration said, “President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private. He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration.

And I think that the President will talk about these issues in his meetings with Mr Modi and note that the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions, respect for religious minorities.”

The US administration added, “Prime Minister Modi, in his first speech after winning the election last year, talked about how he would prioritise being inclusive of India’s religious minorities. And, certainly, the world looks to India to maintain religious liberty and equal treatment for all under the rule of law.

Of course, it’s in the Indian constitution, religious freedom, respect for religious minorities, and equal treatment of all religions in India. We have great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions, and we will continue to encourage India to uphold those traditions.

India is a country rich in religious, linguistic, and cultural diversity. In fact, it’s the birthplace of four major world religions.”

On Kashmir and Pakistan, the US said, “What you’ll hear from the President is very much encouraging a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan, encouraging the two countries to engage in bilateral dialogue with each other to resolve their differences.

We continue to believe a core foundation of any successful dialogue between the two is based on continued momentum in Pakistan’s efforts to crack down on terrorists and extremists on its territory. So we continue to look for that.

But I think the President will urge both countries to seek to maintain peace and stability along the line of control and refrain from actions or statements that could increase tensions in the region.”

On whether India’s “participation” in the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), that had earlier given India many concessions could be “restored”, the US said, “The concerns that led to the revocation, suspension of India’s GSP access remains a concern for us. We continue to talk to our Indian colleagues about addressing these market access barriers.”

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/230220/donald-trump-to-flag-caa-religion.html

BBC News – Why do Indians vote for ‘criminal’ politicians?

Soutik Biswas – India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 16 January 2017. Why do India’s political parties field candidates with criminal charges? Why do the voters favour them despite their tainted past?

Political scientist Milan Vaishnav has been studying links between crime and democracy in India for many years now. His upcoming book When Crime Pays offers some intriguing insights into what is a disturbing feature of India’s electoral democracy.

The good news is that the general election is a thriving, gargantuan exercise: 554 million voters queued up at more than 900,000 stations to cast their ballots in the last edition in 2014. The fortunes of 8,250 candidates representing 464 political parties were at stake.

The bad news is that a third (34%) of 543 MPs who were elected faced criminal charges, up from 30% in 2009 and 24% in 2004.

Fiercely competitive

Some of the charges were of minor nature or politically motivated. But more than 20% of the new MPs faced serious charges such as attempted murder, assaulting public officials, and theft.

Now, India’s general elections are not exactly a cakewalk.

Over time, they have become fiercely competitive: 464 parties were in the fray in 2014, up from 55 in the first election in 1952.

The average margin of victory was 9.7% in 2009, the thinnest since the first election. At 15%, the average margin of victory was fatter in the landslide 2014 polls, but even this was vastly lower than, say, the average margin of victory in the 2012 US Congressional elections (32%) and the 2010 general election in Britain (18%).

Almost all parties in India, led by the ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress, field tainted candidates. Why do they do so? For one, says Dr Vaishnav, “a key factor motivating parties to select candidates with serious criminal records comes down to cold, hard cash”.

The rising cost of elections and a shadowy election financing system where parties and candidates under-report collections and expenses means that parties prefer “self-financing candidates who do not represent a drain on the finite party coffers but instead contribute ‘rents’ to the party”. Many of these candidates have criminal records.

There are three million political positions in India’s three-tier democracy; each election requires considerable resources.

Many parties are like personal fiefs run by dominant personalities and dynasts, and lacking inner-party democracy – conditions, which help “opportunistic candidates with deep pockets”.

Good proxy

“Wealthy, self financing candidates are not only attractive to parties but they are also likely to be more electorally competitive. Contesting elections is an expensive proposition in most parts of the world, a candidate’s wealth is a good proxy for his or her electoral vitality,” says Dr Vaishnav, who is senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Political parties also nominate candidates with criminal backgrounds to stand for election because, simply put, they win.

During his research, Dr Vaishnav studied all candidates who stood in the last three general elections. He separated them into candidates with clean records and candidates with criminal records, and found that the latter had an 18% chance of winning their next election whereas the “clean” candidates had only a 6% chance.

He did a similar calculation for candidates contesting state elections between 2003 and 2009, and found a “large winning advantage for candidates who have cases pending against them”.

Politics also offers a lucrative career, a 2013 study showed that the average wealth of sitting legislators increased 222% during just one term in office. The officially declared average wealth of re-contesting candidates, including losers and winners, was $264,000 (£216,110) in 2004 and $618,000 in 2013, an increase of 134%.

‘Biggest criminal

Now why do Indians vote for criminal candidates? Is it because many of the voters are illiterate, ignorant, or simply, ill-informed?

Dr Vaishnav doesn’t believe so.

Candidates with criminal records don’t mask their reputation. Earlier this month, a candidate belonging to the ruling party in northern Uttar Pradesh state reportedly boasted to a party worker that he was the “biggest criminal”. Increasing information through media and rising awareness hasn’t led to a shrinking of tainted candidates.

Dr Vaishnav believes reasonably well-informed voters support criminal candidates in constituencies where social divisions driven by caste and/or religion are sharp and the government is failing to carry out its functions, delivering services, dispensing justice, or providing security, in an impartial manner.

“There is space here for a criminal candidate to present himself as a Robin Hood-like figure,” says Dr Vaishnav.

Clearly, crime and politics will remain inextricably intertwined as long as India doesn’t make its election financing system transparent, parties become more democratic and the state begins to deliver ample services and justice.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested state funding of polls to help clean up campaign financing. Earlier this month, he said people had the right to know where the BJP got its funds from. Some 14% of the candidates his BJP party fielded in the last elections had faced serious charges. (More than 10% of the candidates recruited by the Congress faced charges). But no party is walking the talk yet.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-38607255

The Hindustan Times – ‘Explain how J&K can really attract investors’: Opposition MPs ask MHA

The tough questions from the MPs came during a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliament yesterday when the lawmakers were being briefed by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.

New Delhi – India, 20 February 2020. The Union Home Ministry was asked by opposition members of Parliament to explain how Jammu and Kashmir could hope to attract investment in the current security situation.

The tough questions from the MPs came during a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliament yesterday when the lawmakers were being briefed by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.

“Speeches don’t attract investment. In addition, infrastructure in J&K also doesn’t support the kind of investment that Centre is talking about”, a senior opposition MP who was at the meeting but didn’t want to be named, said.

Local body elections in J&K scheduled in March have had to be deferred because of security concerns. “The ministry didn’t have a clear answer to these questions. They have, however, assured us that it would come back with details”, the MP said.

Parliament had last August scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split the state into two Union Territories. Immediately after the removal of the special status, curbs on telecom and movement were brought in fearing a law and order flare-up.

Some curbs have been removed since over the past six months. But curbs on telecom still remain.

Recently the Jammu and Kashmir administration released its Information Technology policy to attract investors and has spoken of roadshows in metros to attract investment. Besides. the administration has also been planning an international investors’ meet to attract foreign investors.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/explain-how-j-k-can-really-attract-investors-opposition-mps-ask-mha/story-JUyMQCIwyzd4va80Hx3oCN.html