Flashback 2014: Top 10 controversial news that rocked India

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Bengaluru, Dec 8: Like every year, 2014 was also full of major happenings in and across the world in terms of politics, sports, business, entertainment and other facets of life.

But in India, the year was not only politically significant due to Lok Sabha elections 2014, but also due to a series of controversies.

From religious to educational, 2014 can be termed as a 'year full of controversies'. [Flashback 2014: Oops! They said it: 10 'sexist' remarks]

Here let's take a look back at what issues rocked the nation:

1. Love Jihad

When one talks about what major controversy erupted in 2014, then the the first one has to be "Love Jihad"- a term that has ample potential to ignite fire.

The oxymoronic term "love jihad" was coined by Hindu groups for alleged efforts by young Muslims targeting non-Muslim girls by luring them to marry and later converting them to Islam.

The issue took a political twist when the BJP's firebrand leader and MP from Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath publicly said in August, "If they (Muslims) take one Hindu girl, we will take 100 Muslim girls."

2. Burdwan blast- Bangladesh terror link

On October 2, two suspected JMB operatives were killed and another injured in an explosion at a house, visibly turned into a clandestine bomb manufacturing factory in Burdwan district of West Bengal bordering Bangladesh.

The incident opened a can of worms leading to the alleged terror links between Bangladesh and India.

There were reports claiming that terrorists, working under different names, had planned on establishing a Greater Bangladesh which merges Bangladesh with West Bengal.

On Nov 7, the NIA had arrested Zia-ul-Haque, a close aide of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) commander Sajid, from West Bengal's Malda district and next day, it arrested the mastermind behind Burdwan blast- 40-year-old Sajid alias Sheikh Rahmatullah, a Bangladeshi national from the Airport area of North 24-Parganas district.

During the questioning of several JMB members it was revealed that they had a team which specialized in grenade warfare and they had proposed to use the same in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh's elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has also captured Sajid's brother Mohammad Monayem.

It was also revealed that the Saradha money started to move out of West Bengal in the later part of 2011 and an obscene amount of money almost Rs 650 crore had been parked in Bangladesh.

3. Jayalalithaa- PM Narendra Modi article at Sri Lankan website

In August, an article critical of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, accompanied by a picture of the leader with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Sri Lanka's army website had created a furore in the state.

Tamil Nadu political parties, PMK and MDMK were furious at the controversial article titled 'How meaningful are Jayalalithaa's love letters to Modi' on the Sri Lankan defence ministry's website, saying it denigrates the Tamil Nadu chief minister.

Later, on the same day, on August 1, the Sri Lankan government tendered an "unqualified apology" to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Their statement said the article "which had been published without appropriate authorization and not reflecting any official position" of the Sri Lankan government or the defence ministry has since been removed.

4. Kerala bars controversy

In August, the controversial issue of over 400 liquor bars being closed in Kerala had led to Congress state president VM Sudheeran hitting out at the chief minister Oommen Chandy and his government and demanding that these bars continue to remain closed.

On Sept 11, the Supreme Court had ordered that bar owners in Kerala, other than five star hotels, will be able to serve liquor till Sep 30 while asking the state high court to decide the challenge to the notification directing them to shut shop.

In November, the liquor bar controversy in Kerala took a new twist after whistle-blower 50-year Biju Ramesh, a bar owner and a leader of the bar hotel owners' association alleged that he had paid Rs 1 crore as bribe to the state finance minister, KM Mani, to help renew bar licences.

Ramesh's revelation came hours after a Kerala High Court bench suspended a single-judge bench's verdict that directed just 62 of the 730 bars in the state to operate.

5. Sanskrit versus German language in KVs

In November, the HRD minister Smriti Irani, in a mid-session, directed to pull out German language as a third subject in all Kendra Vidyalayas.

While teachers rued about how the move will affect 70,000 students across 500 KVs from classes 6 to 8 who will be asked to switch from German to Sanskrit in the middle of their session, Smriti cited the national interest, emphasizing that the amendment was made to correct "violation that was inherited as legacy by her ministry from the UPA government".

On Nov 27, the Centre submitted before the Supreme Court that Sanskrit will be the third language in classes 6 to 8 in Kendriya Vidyalayas.

On Dec 5, the central government told the Supreme Court that the switch over from German to Sanskrit as a third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas will be affected but there will be no Sanskrit exams in the current academic year.

After replacing German with Sanskrit as third language from Classes VI to VIII, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) have decided to revive a policy of teaching Sanskrit in Classes XI and XII.

6. DU-UGC: FYUP Controversy

On June 20, the Delhi University (DU) and University Grants Commission (UGC) were at the loggerheads over the controversial Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP).

UGC had issued directions both to DU and all 64 colleges under it to conduct admission under the three-year under-graduate programme and not under the controversial four-year UG programme implemented by the varsity last year.

The HRD minister Smriti Irani had made it clear that the central government should not intervene and that UGC and DU should sort out the matter between themselves.

There were reports that the DU had neither taken the mandatory permission of the UGC before introducing the FYUP course and thus the controversial FYUP had "no legal validity".

The stand-off between the DU and UGC led to confusion and chaos among thousands of students as wells as caused the delay in the admission process.

Even some teachers and student groups were protesting for and against the four-year programme.

On June 24, the UGC-DU row over the FYUP reached the Delhi High Court where a PIL was filed for restoration of the three-year degree course even as the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the issue.

After an ugly tussle with the UGC, Delhi University's four-year undergraduate programme was scrapped and restored to three years.

Following the controversy, fresh admissions to Delhi University for the 2014-15 academic session under the three-year course commenced from July 2, a week behind the schedule.

7. AMU library Controversy


In November, the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was at the centre of a controversy over the restriction for women undergraduates.

The varsity's Vice Chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah, who is the brother of renowned film actor Naseeruddin Shah, was in the eye of storm over his remarks that there would be "more boys" in the library if girls were allowed.

On Nov 11, the HRD Minister Smriti Irani sought an explanation from the VC and said his remarks amounted to an "insult to daughters."

However, the VC cited space constraints for over 4,000 female undergraduates and refuted the charge of having a "sexist approach".

Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah termed the Vice Chancellor's remarks as "appalling" and "shocking" while the new MoS in the Ministry Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said such remarks were "not acceptable in a civilised society".

In a shocking twist, on Nov 13, Aligarh Muslim University Women's College Students' Union (AMUWCSU) and AMU Students' Union (AMUSU) organised a joint protest against alleged "biased media reports" over the issue of access to girls to the university's central Maulana Azad Library.

On Nov 14, the AMU told the HRD Ministry that undergraduate girls and boys of different colleges of the University are all allowed to use Maulana Azad Library.

On Nov 25, the Allahabad High Court had directed the AMU authorities to allow entry of girl students inside the Maulana Azad central library.

On Dec 5, the AMU said that it will now provide transportation every Sunday to female undergraduates from its Women's College to its main library.

8. Sakshi Maharaj- Madarsa controversy


On Sept 14, BJP MP from Unnao, Sakshi Maharaj's remarks had snowballed into a major controversy when he said, "Education of terrorism is being given in madrassas. They (madrassas)... are making them terrorists and jihadis....It is not in national interest."

"Tell me about one madrassa where tricolour is hoisted even on August 15 and January 26. Most of our schools do not take the aid but it is being given to madrassas having no connection with nationalism," he had told reporters in Nademau in Kannauj district.

Earlier, during a programme in Etah on September 7, Sakshi had reportedly labelled madrassas as "hub of terror" and alleged that 'love jihad' prospers through such institutions.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari sharply reacted by saying, "The Muslim leaders of the BJP, who are also the members of the minority community, must reply if they agree with their colleagues that terrorism is taught in madrasas."

Another senior Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit said, "To relate madrasas to anti-national activities, I don't see the test of evidence. Where's the evidence? On the one hand, PM Modi talks of modernizing madrasas and on the other, leaders make such statements to appease the Hindus."

Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan called Sakshi Maharaj a "rapist" and said, "The statement on madrassas, which are promoting Muslim education, has come from a person, who had faced rape charges."

"A rapist is trying to break the country by labelling madrassas as a place of ISI and 'love jihad'. A person cannot become saint by merely wearing saffron clothes," he had said.

9. RSS-Hindutva controversy & Goa Deputy CM's remarks on Hindu nation


On August 18, during his opening speech at VHP's Golden Jubilee celebrations at Mumbai, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said "Hindustan is a Hindu nation...Hindutva is the identity of our nation and it (Hinduism) can incorporate others (religions) in itself."

Various political parties had attacked the RSS chief for his remarks on Hindutva. While Congress leader Digvijay Singh described the RSS chief as "Hitler" and said the Sangh should stop "fooling" innocent people by using religion in politics, Samajwadi Party accused the Sangh of practising politics of "hatred and separatism."

The claim of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that India is a Hindu nation and Hindutva its identity is a "challenge" to the concept of secular India, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat had said.

Under fire for its chief Mohan Bhagwat's remarks, the RSS clarified that Hindutva does not mean 'Hindu-ism' but 'Hindu-ness'.

On July 25, Goa's Deputy chief minister Francis D'Souza had created a furore when he said that India is already a Hindu nation and "all Indians in Hindustan are Hindus".

"India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including I - I am a Christian Hindu," he had said.

Two days later, D'Souza spologised by saying, "My opinion could be wrong for others. I accept it. I don't say it is the most correct opinion. You might say I am wrong. If anyone's sentiment is hurt, I apologise," said.

"Hindu is my culture, Christianity is my religion. When I say Hindu, it means culture and not religion. Hindu culture is 5,000 years old and my religion is 2,000 years old," he had said.

The Catholic Association of Goa had criticised his comments saying, "Catholics living in Goa can be called Indian Christians but not Hindu Christians."

10. Controversy over Bikini, short skirts & Pubs in Goa


Goa, which is a top beach tourism destination in India and is known for its nightlife, bars and pubs, was in news for bizarre reasons in July.

On July 2, Goa Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Sudin Dhavalikar voiced his disapproval over the young girls wearing short skirts in clubs and also said that 'bikini culture' should be banned in the state.

"The practice of young girls going to pubs in short dresses does not fit in our culture. What will happen to our Goan culture, if we allow this?...The scantily dressed girls visiting pubs project wrong culture and this should be stopped."

His comments drew flak from all parties except the controversial Sri Ram Sene Chief Pramod Muthalik, who had welcomed Dhavlikar's statement saying it showed that several important people shared his views.

Meanwhile, Congress party in Goa had sent a "pink mini skirt" to Dhavalikar to protest against his remarks.

"We will not tolerate moral policing. The Indian constitution allows those above 18 years to decide what is good or bad," Congress' Goa spokesman Durgadas Kamat had said.

Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said, "We cannot ban mini-skirts and bikinis in night clubs and beaches. It is not possible."

The minister had also advised women to stop drinking too, "because it is not good for their health".

Few days later, he said people should immediately start wearing traditional attire like the dhoti, because he says Indian culture is "the world's greatest culture".

However, the then Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had ruled out banning wearing of bikinis on the state's beaches.

However, Dhavalikar in August, had defended his decision to allow the use of government-owned river jetties for casino operations.

BJP MLA Vishnu Wagh had invoked mythology saying "pub and liquor are very much part of Indian culture" and opposed any move to ban them in the name of culture and religion.

"These are mythological facts about our religion. Why do we need to oppose pubs and liquor in the name of religion and culture?," he questioned.

Union Tourism Minister Shripad Naik had said that the pub culture needs to be controlled and that tourism should not be promoted on its basis. "Pub culture does not suit our country and hence we should try to control it. We should not sell our tourism on pub culture," he had said.

Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat accused the BJP of indulging in double standards by supporting casinos, but at the same time voicing apprehensions about pub culture.

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