2014 election campaign

FIR filed against Amit Shah for incendiary speech in riot area

BJP claims case against Modi's right-hand man is an example of vote-bank politics.

The Uttar Pradesh police on Sunday registered a case against Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Amit Shah for making controversial speeches in riot-hit sections of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, in which he said that the forthcoming poll would be "the election of honour and revenge”.

The speeches, which were first reported on Scroll.in, have attracted the provisions of section 153 of the Indian Penal Code, which relates to "promoting enmity between different groups", and section 125 of the Representation of The People Act, which deals with "promoting enmity between classes in connection with election".

Shah was booked by the Bijnore district administration. “A case has been lodged under various sections of the IPC by the District Magistrate regarding some objectionable part in Shah’s speech,” said Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha in Lucknow.

The BJP immediately criticised the move. "It is not a bona fide FIR but an FIR designed for vote-bank politics by rank abuse of police powers under the pressures of government," senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference.

Amit Shah is the right-hand man of the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. In May he was dispatched to UP  to manage the party's campaign in the state that sends the largest number of candidates to the Lok Sabha.

On Thursday, he addressed a meeting of Jats in Raajhar village, 40km from Muzaffarnagar, which was wracked by riots in August and September that left 49 people dead. "For the integrity of this community, the answer is Modi government,” he said. “Not the government who gives compensation to those who killed Jats.”

Shah added, “This is the time to avenge. The leaders standing next to me” – he pointed to Suresh Rana and Hukum Singh – “have also been humiliated. A man can sleep hungry but not humiliated. This is the time to take revenge by voting for Modi. This will defeat both the governments: the one at the Centre and UP government who lathi-charged and tortured our leaders.”

The honour theme spilled over into the next meeting in the Raja Rani banquet hall in Shamli district.  This time, Shah was joined by Ajit Singh, the headman of Lissad, one of villages worst affected by the riots, who stands accused of fanning the violence. Several khap leaders of the Jat community were also present.

The meeting started with a request from Udayvir Pehelka, an octogenarian Jat leader: “If Amit Shah has come to talk to us, he must promise that he will help us withdraw all the false cases against the Jats and secondly, address a national problem, which is to control the population of this country, else soon enough votes from our community will not count and only” – he stopped to make a sign indicating a beard under his chin –  “they will be present everywhere”.

When Shah took the stage, he declared, “This election is the election of honour and revenge.” He said that women in UP were not safe. “And when we protect them, we are called rioters because Mullah Mulayam is busy defending the minority”, he said, making a reference to the support Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party gives to the area’s Muslims.

Shah quoted Modi’s tweet, promising “to stop pink revolution and start green revolution”. The pink revolution referred to the slaughter of cows and animals, he explained. “Beggars have turned millionaires by running butcher houses,” Shah claimed, taking another swipe at the area’s Muslim community.

 
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.