IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 28th, 2013
In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- RSS offices used to plan terror attacks: NIA
- 10 accused in blast cases have RSS links: R.K. Singh
- Probe all blasts since 1992: Asaduddin Owaisi
- High Court asks govt to show orders to destroy riots papers
- Dhule video unmasks rioters in uniform
- ‘Bias makes Muslims shun govt hospitals’
- Curfew in Rajasthan towns following communal clashes
- Muslim organisations demand ban on ‘Vishwaroopam’
- Fresh clashes between Telangana activists and police
- Cops fined Rs 25k for refusing to file rape FIR
Opinions & Editorials
- Shinde On Hindutva Terror: Terminological Confusions – By Ram Puniyani
- The BJP and Nathuram Godse – By A.G. Noorani
- The Saffron String – By Prarthna Gahilote
- Verma Committee Report: Police Reforms Are The Key – By Prakash Singh
- To Be Or Not To Be United – By TS Sudhir
- West Bengal: Politics of violence – By Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay
- Muslims in Indian Cities: Trajectories of Marginalisation – By Eds. Laurent Gayer and Chritophe Jaffrelot
Indian Americans across the US commemorate India’s 64th Republic Day
Monday January 28, 2013
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos organized celebrations across the US to mark the Republic Day of India, including special events in eight cities. Indian Americans of all faiths and ethnicities participated in the celebrations to mark the founding of the Indian Republic on January 26, 1950.
IAMC chapters in Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Minnesota, California, and Georgia had organized festivities spread across January 26 and 27 to celebrate 63 years of India’s existence as a modern, secular and democratic Republic.
“The guarantees of Justice, Liberty and Equality for all citizens, enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution collectively represent one of the greatest accomplishments in the cause of pluralism,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “These guarantees are also a reminder of the ideals we need to live up to and the promises we still need to keep,” added Mr. Khan.
Indian Americans from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Christian and various other communities attended the events. The event in New Jersey was attended by the Honorable Consul General of India Prabhu Dayal, and Mayor Frank Gambatese of the city of South Brunswick. Consul General Dayal commended IAMC for building a bridge of understanding between India and the United States. The Republic Day event in Atlanta was attended by Consul Rajinder Singh from the Atlanta Consulate General of India.
The nationwide celebrations included an online Essay Contest at www.republicday.org which received a tremendous response. Winners of exciting prizes such as iPad Mini and Google Nexus 7 are as follows:
Essay Contest Winners
1. First Prize: Ekaete Ekwere, for the essay on “Maintain the Momentum”
2. Second Prize: Mahesh Chandramouli, for the essay on “Challenges Facing India in the 21stcentury – Personal Reflections”
Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the nation.
For more information please visit our new website at: https://www.iamc.com
Indian American Muslim Council
Phone: (800) 839-7270
6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053
FANS selected for communal harmony award (Jan 25, 2013, Yahoo)
Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity (FANS), Delhi, has been selected for the National Communal Harmony Award for 2012, according to an official press release. FANS is a Delhi-based trust which has organised numerous seminars, workshops, symposiums, inter-religious meets and youth camps to promote social amity.
It has awarded numerous scholarships under its Amity Scholarship Scheme to promote education amongst the economically backward students.
The National Communal Harmony Awards were instituted in 1996 by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), an autonomous organisation set up by the home ministry to promotecommunal harmony and national integration. It carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs five lakh.
RSS offices used to plan terror attacks: NIA (Jan 25, 2013, Hindustan Times)
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe has thrown many alleged instances wherein the offices of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are believed to have been used by the right-wing extremists to plot terror activities. Investigators allege that in May 2006, senior RSS functionary Indresh Kumar had met right-wing terror kingpin Sunil Joshi in the Nagpur office of Sangh.
“Sunil Joshi further informed Asimanand that he along with Bharat Bhai (a witness in the Samjhauta case, who was later chargesheeted in the Ajmer Sharif case) went to Nagpur and met Indresh who gave him R50,000 to procure explosives and other material,” said the chargesheet in the Samjhauta case. Indresh is not an accused in the any of the right-wing terror cases but his role is under scanner. …
When investigators spoke to Bharat Bhai, he accepted visiting the ‘RSS Karylaya in Nagpur’ to meet Indresh along with Sunil Joshi. “Indresh gave Rs. 50,000 to Manoj (alias Sunil Joshi) and they discussed something in low voice. When I asked Manoj about the money, he told me that Indreshji had given money for some special task,” said Bharat Bhai.
There are two more instances which point to the alleged nexus. Sunil Joshi and his two associates were seen by a witness experimenting with detonators at a RSS office in Dungergaon in Madhya Pradesh in 1999. While in connection with Ajmer Sharif blasts, a lot of meetings took place in the RSS office of Mihijam in Jharkhand.
Although Sunil Joshi was murdered on December 29, 2007, by his own men at Dewas in Madhya Pradesh, a witness Sheetal Gehlot has told investigators that after Joshi’s murder two bags containing pistol, rods with electric wires around them were kept at RSS Karyalaya in Dewas. Ramji, a key accused who is on the run, picked one of the bags later while the other bag was thrown in the Narmada. …
- Activists seek wider probe into ‘Hindutva terror’ (Jan 24, 2013, Deccan Herald)
- Muslim groups reject Shinde’s “Hindu terror” comment, say terrorism has no religion (Jan 24, 2013, The Hindu)
- Why a certain section of terrorists are treated differently, ask Muslim groups (Jan 25, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- Nothing wrong in Shinde’s Hindu terror comment: Narayanasamy (Jan 24, 2013, Times of India)
10 accused in blast cases have RSS links: R.K. Singh (Jan 23, 2013, The Hindu)
Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said on Tuesday that at least 10 people having close links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliated organisations were named accused in various acts of terror across India. “Yes, during investigations of Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and [Ajmer] Dargah Sharif blasts, we have found names of at least 10 persons who have been associated with the RSS at some point or the other,” he told journalists here.
His statement comes two days after Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in Jaipur that probe agencies had found the BJP and the RSS conducted training camps to spread terrorism. “We will have to think about it seriously and will have to remain alert,” he had said. His statement drew sharp reactions from the RSS and the BJP and the latter’s allies such as the Shiv Sena and the Janata Dal (United).
Did the government have any evidence of the RSS links of the persons arrested in the blast cases? “We have evidence against them… there are statements of witnesses,” the Home Secretary said. Mr. Singh said Sunil Joshi [now dead], who worked for the RSS in Dewas and Mhow from the 1990s to 2003, was involved in the Samjhauta Express and Ajmer Sharif Dargah blasts. An RSS ‘pracharak,’ Sandeep Dange, wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), was an accused in the two blasts and the one at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad.
Lokesh Sharma, Rajender alias Samunder and Kamal Chouhan, now in jail for their involvement in the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blasts, were closely linked to the RSS. While Lokesh was its ‘nagar karyavahak’ (city functionary) in Deogarh, Rajendra was ‘varg vistarak’ (an important propagandist position). Ramji Kalsangra, who is also wanted for the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blasts, was an RSS associate, Mr. Singh said.
Another Godhra-based activist of the RSS, Mukesh Vasani, was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast, while Devender Gupta, an RSS ‘pracharak’ in Mhow and Indore, was in jail in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast case. RSS activist in Shajhanpur, Chandrasekhar Leve, was arrested in the Mecca Masjid blast case, he said. Mr. Singh also referred to Swami Aseemanand, who is alleged to be the main conspirator in the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif Dargah blasts, and said he was associated with an RSS wing, Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, in Dang, Gujarat, from the 1990s to 2007.
- NIA gives govt names of ‘RSS-linked terrorists’ (Jan 23, 2013, Indian Express)
- Home secretary backs Shinde’s remark on ‘Hindu terror’ (Jan 22, 2013, Times of India)
- State demand to ban right-wing outfits pending with MHA (Jan 23, 2013, Indian Express)
- Ban right-wing groups, says Patil (Jan 23, 2013, Times of India)
Probe all blasts since 1992: Asaduddin Owaisi (Jan 25, 2013, Times of India)
MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi has demanded a probe into all bomb blasts in India after the razing of the Babri Masjid in 1992. Saying he suspected the involvement of Hindutva forces, the Hyderabad MP referred to home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s statement that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and RSS were spreading terrorism in the country.
Addressing a massive rally on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi early Friday, he attacked BJP leader LK Advani for meeting PM Manmohan Singh to defend Pragya Thakur and other accused in bomb cases. Owaisi alleged that the BJP and RSS were targeting Shinde as he was a Dalit. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief said his party was ready to work for unity among Muslims and Dalits. …
Owaisi clarified that his party was not against Hindus or Hinduism but against Hindutva forces and the Sangh Parivar. He accused the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh of targeting him, his younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi and other MIM leaders due to personal vendetta. He vowed to defeat Congress in the next elections.
Owaisi accused the government of adopting double standards while dealing with the alleged provocative speeches. “You have charged Akbar Owaisi with sedition but not Swami (Kamlananda Bharati). You did not even oppose Swami’s bail. You never arrested Praveen Togadia (booked for making provocative remarks in Hyderabad),” he said. …
- Minorities panel chief wants NIA to probe Purna, Parbhani, Jalna blasts (Jan 22, 2013, Indian Express)
- Arms dealer Malkhan Singh in ATS net (Jan 24, 2013, Times of India)
- Mushawarat chief writes to the Union Home Minister on saffron terror (Jan 22, 2013, Milli Gazette)
- Kolkata youth Nilesh held for terror mail to Delhi CM (Jan 24, 2013, Times of India)
High Court asks govt to show orders to destroy riots papers (Jan 25, 2013, Indian Express)
The Gujarat High Court on Thursday directed the state government to produce the executive orders through which certain intelligence documents related to 2002 riots were destroyed. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala, which passed the order, has kept the matter for further hearing on February 5. The court was hearing a petition moved by the state’s chief secretary seeking clarification on an earlier order passed by the court on the basis of a statement by the advocate general that the documents were not destroyed and would be handed over to the Nanavati-Mehta Commission. The Commission is probing into the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
The order was passed on a petition jointly moved by suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt and a voluntary organisation seeking direction to the state government to provide him the documents. The petition was moved after Bhatt was not provided with the papers to file a detailed affidavit before the Commission. Surprisingly, after disposal of the petition at HC, the state government had made a statement on affidavit before the Commission that nine of the documents sought by Bhatt had indeed been destroyed in routine course as per rules. Bhatt had taken strong objection against this and had sought an independent probe into the entire episode of destroying of the documents before the Commission. The Commission has already ordered a high-level probe by two senior officers.
Meanwhile, the state government moved a fresh petition seeking clarification on the HC order. According to the state government, the advocate general’s statement that the documents were not destroyed was based on a briefing given by a home ministry official, who made a bonafide mistake. The government claimed the documents were destroyed by the department concerned. Hearing the petition Thursday, the court ordered the state government to produce the necessary executive orders that resulted in destroying of the documents, said a lawyer associated with the petition.
- Narendra Modi’s rise may close NDA’s doors to regional parties (Jan 28, 2013, IBN)
- CIM-UK shocked at its Patron’s meeting with Narendra Modi (Jan 27, 2013, Milli Gazette)
- Narendra Modi government lets funds for rape victims lapse (Jan 25, 2013, Times of India)
- Efforts in RSS to sideline Advani (Jan 27, 2013, Asian Age)
Dhule video unmasks rioters in uniform (Jan 26, 2013, Indian Express)
Police in the northern Maharashtra town of Dhule destroyed private property and looted shops earlier this month after violence broke out following a tiff over payment of a hotel bill. About a dozen video clips available with The Indian Express, each running into a few minutes, show the police breaking open a stall, pulling down a pandal meant for hawkers, smashing water drums and pounding two-wheelers parked along the street on January 6. Reached for his comment, Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal said the police had received the same video footage and had initiated action. “Police constable Sumit Namdeo Thakur and police constable Pramod Shivaji Ishi, both posted at Dhule city police station, have been placed under suspension from January 18,” he said.
One two-minute clip shows a group of policemen breaking open a small stall in the Machhi Bazaar area. Accompanied by people in civilian clothes, some policemen are seen taking out goods from the stall. A policeman also stuffs his khaki trousers with some of the looted items. The clip also shows policemen trying to pull down a pandal under which hawkers do business. They are, however, not successful in bringing it down. In another clip, policemen are seen pounding motorcycles and bicycles parked outside houses in Machhi Bazaar. They are also seen overturning and destroying water drums that residents keep, given erratic water supply in the region. “The police action was deliberate. They brazenly looted and tried to destroy shops. What is surprising is that a cameraman of a local channel was also part of the police mob which broke open the shop,” alleged a shop-owner whose shop was destroyed.
The Indian Express could not verify if the policemen were accompanied by civilians or their own men in plain clothes. Dayal said action would also be taken against those who are in charge of the police teams for failure to control the men. “In the case of the new clip (the stall being ransacked), criminal action will be applied,” he said. Ahmed Javed, additional DGP (law & order), has submitted a report to the government. The report includes the failings of the police and the remedial measures to be taken. The state has also ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.
“We have requested people with any video clips of the rioting or the police action that can throw any light on the incident to come forward and share it with us,” Javed said. Violence broke out in Dhule on January 6 after a small tiff over a payment of a hotel bill. It turned into a major riot and six people, all of them Muslims, were killed when the police opened fire on the mob. The police claimed firing was necessary since their men were being selectively targeted. But some local residents claim the police targeted and assaulted Muslim youth during the riot which lasted over five hours.
- Dhule riots: Locals call for action against police (Jan 27, 2013, IBN)
- Rioters in khaki: CM says ‘communal elements’ in police (Jan 28, 2013, Indian Express)
- Dhule riots: Policemen caught on video vandalising property suspended (Jan 28, 2013, IBN)
- Dhule update: No improvement on ground say civil society members (Jan 28, 2013, Twocircles.net)
‘Bias makes Muslims shun govt hospitals’ (Jan 28, 2013, Hindustan Times)
A sense of discrimination is keeping Muslim women away from the government-run health institutions for labour and post-natal check-up. The Planning Commission has made the startling observation in its 12th Plan document, which was recently approved by the National Development Council headed by the prime minister. Births to Muslim mothers are much less likely to take place in a health facility and are least likely to be followed by a postnatal check-up, the section on socio-economic condition of the minorities says quoting from the National Family Health Survey-3. Compared to 59% Buddhist and 58% Sikh mothers, only 33% Muslim mothers give birth in a health facility.
The section goes further to say that, “This could in part reflect social and economic circumstances of Muslims, as well as their hesitation in approaching state institutions due to a real or perceived sense of discrimination.” Surprisingly, the observation is not substantiated by corroborative data in the document, which is the top government plan governing socio-economic growth of the nation for five years. Dr Syeda Hameed, member in-charge of the minorities and women issues was not available for comment.
“True, statements should be supported by related data. However, the observations made might be from the individual field studies or experiences,” Prof Abhijit Sen, another member said. But, some within the commission criticised the comments as uncalled for in the plan document, more so when lacking in evidence. “Unfortunately, the document contains several such invalid observations that put its credibility in question.”
For example, the same section on minorities observes that Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat as largely accounting for the poverty among Muslims nationwide. But it does not assert the statement with corroborative data, except according it to “the latest Planning Commission estimates.”
- Should Muslim cops be allowed to sport beard? SC asks Centre, Maharastra govt (Jan 22, 2013, Statesman)
- Students Islamic Organisation to file public interest litigation over Urdu textbooks (Jan 28, 2013, Times of India)
- Imams not keen to take Mamata Banerjee’s largesse (Jan 24, 2013, Indian Express)
- Convent schools are not minority institutions: Archana Chitnis (Jan 23, 2013, Times of India)
Curfew in Rajasthan towns following communal clashes (Jan 26, 2013, The Hindu)
Curfew was imposed in two Rajasthan towns of Bhilwara district, about 250 km from here, after a group of activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) allegedly burnt down several shops owned by Muslims on Friday. Bhilwara Collector Onkar Singh confirmed to The Hindu that activists of the RSS and the VHP had attacked some properties owned by Muslims in Bhilwara’s Aasind and Gulabpura towns. Muslim residents of Aasind were to take out a procession on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi, being observed on Friday.
However, owing to an earlier confrontation, the RSS and VHP men had warned that they would not allow the procession to be taken out and had called for a bandh to be observed in the region. On January 13, RSS members had insisted on taking out their path sanchalan rally in Aasind from a specific route which had a mosque on it, to which Muslims objected. Following an intervention from the administration, the RSS rally was diverted to another route.
Allegedly miffed at that, the RSS-VHP activists warned they would not allow the Barawafat procession, to be taken out on Friday on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad, as the route had a temple on it. Tension had prevailed in the area and the district administration had been trying to avert any impending confrontation between the two groups.
“Several men associated with the RSS and VHP, led by Dhanraj Gurjar, had warned that they would not allow Muslims to take out the Barawafat procession. Till late Thursday night, the district administration and the police had been working to resolve the problem,” Mr. Onkar Singh told The Hindu. “However, on Friday morning, these men attacked Muslim properties in Aasind as well as Gulabpura and burnt some temporary stalls owned by Muslims,” said Mr. Singh.
- Curfew relaxed for 3 hrs in Asind, Gulabpura towns (Jan 26, 2013, Indian Express)
- One dead in communal clash in Rohtas district (Jan 23, 2013, The Hindu)
- Section 144 imposed at Mahbubnagar town (Jan 27, 2013, Times of India)
- Why this delay in presentation of communal violence bill, ask Jamaitul Ulema (Jan 27, 2013, Twocircles.net)
Muslim organisations demand ban on ‘Vishwaroopam’ (Jan 23, 2013, Indian Express)
Various Muslim organisations today demanded a ban on the screening of actor-producer Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’, saying “it will affect social harmony” in the state. M H Jawahirullah, MLA and President, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, said representatives of various Muslim organisations met the City Police Commissioner S George today demanding that the screening of the movie be banned.
“The screening of the movie will affect social harmony in the state. We plan to meet the Home Secretary, besides moving the Censor Board,” he said. Jawahirullah replied in the affirmative when asked if they planned to move the court if required. Muslim organisations had earlier demanded that the film be screened to them prior to its release, expressing concern over the depiction of the community in the movie.
He said Haasan had organised a special screening of the movie for them following their demand. The thespian had already courted controversy after taking a U-turn on his decision to release the movie on Direct-to-Home (DTH) platform with theatre owners red-flagging his decision. The film’s release was also subsequently postponed and is now slated for a January 25 release in 500 screens in the state.
- Muslim outfit threatens to stall Vishwaroopam (Jan 24, 2013, Times of India)
- Two-week ban on ‘Vishwaroopam’ in Tamil Nadu (Jan 23, 2013, The Hindu)
- ‘Vishwaroopam’ running in theatres despite protests (Jan 26, 2013, Indian Express)
- Ban on ‘Vishwaroopam’ spreads in south (Jan 26, 2013, The Hindu)
Fresh clashes between Telangana activists and police (Jan 28, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)
Pro-Telangana activists clashed with police in Hyderabad over the government’s decision to delay a judgement on Telengana. The activists intensified the protests and accused the Centre for ‘cheating the rights’ of the people of Telangana. The Centre deferred the Telangana decision once again on Sunday. The decision was taken after senior Congress leaders and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde decided to continue the consultation process before reaching a final decision on the row.
Angered by the response, Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh went overboard and accused the Centre of “betrayal” on the Telangana issue. Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MLA T Harish Rao criticised the Congress for betraying people of the region. He called the people of the region to primarily target the Congress ministers and other leaders from the region.
Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) senior leader Motkupalli Narasimhulu that Congress’ decision to further delay a decision on Telangana exposed the party’s stand on the issue. He accused the government of not wanting to grant statehood to Telangana. BJP also used the latest development to target Congress. BJP state president G Kishan Reddy called upon people to “see the end” of Congress. CPI termed the statements as “suicidal”.
The decision was not welcomed even among some members in the Congress party. Congress MP Gutta Sukhender Reddy dubbed Azad and Shinde’s statements as “meaningless” and asserted that the delay in taking a decision on the statehood issue would do no good for the party.
- Protests rock Telangana as centre delays decision (Jan 28, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- Telangana: 7 Cong MPs threaten to quit, say will tender resignations to Sonia tomorrow (Jan 28, 2013, IBN)
- Court asks cops to probe if Shinde, PC ‘cheated’ on Telangana (Jan 28, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Decision on Telangana will take more time: Congress (Jan 27, 2013, Rediff)
Cops fined Rs 25k for refusing to file rape FIR (Jan 22, 2013, Times of India)
Pulling up Delhi Police for threatening a 13-year-old girl against lodging a rape case and forcing her to settle the matter with the accused, a trial court has directed the police to pay compensation of Rs 25,000 to the victim. Lambasting the police’s “inaction and apathy”, additional sessions judge Pawan Jain said, “In the instant case, police not only violated the legal rights of the victim and her family by showing disrespect to them, but also violated the legal and human rights of the victim by not lodging the FIR and pressurising her to settle the matter with the accused.” P 6
The court also said the Police Commissioner will have the right to recover the sum from the salary of the erring officials who failed to act on the victim’s complaint and deposit the amount with the court within six weeks. The judge also directed the city police chief to identify the erring officials. “Such victims are required to be dealt with in a cordial atmosphere but instead of helping the victim and her family, police had multiplied their trauma manifold by not lodging the FIR of the incident. Thus, to my mind, the victim deserves compensation from the police for their inaction and apathy,” it further added. The court passed the order while convicting central Delhi resident Birju alias Mathur for raping a 13-year-old girl after kidnapping her.
As per the prosecution, the victim had approached the police post of Jai Prakash Narain Hospital under Indraprastha Estate Police on December 12, 2011 along with her mother and told it that she was kidnapped by one Birju, a customer of her mother’s bidi shop, on November 27 that year and raped by him. Medical examination of the girl too confirmed rape. During trial, the amicus curiae pointed out the inordinate delay in lodging of the FIR at which the prosecution said the girl had not reported the matter to the police in time due to fear and for sake of his family’s honour.
The girl and her mother, however, told the court that they had reported the matter to the police the very next day but were made to settle the matter with the convict as they were misguided by the police that if they lodged a complaint, the girl too would be arrested and jailed for seven years. The victim told the court that it was only after her grandmother got to know about the incident that she went to the DCP’s office and subsequently, an FIR was lodged.
- Mumbai cops target couples, face flak, beat a hasty retreat (Jan 25, 2013, Indian Express)
- Police reluctance to probe boy’s kidnapping bares interstate woman trafficking (Jan 25, 2013, Times of India)
- Military personnel who rape in India’s conflict zones should be prosecuted: Verma committee (Jan 26, 2013, Reuters)
- Don’t allow Armymen to take cover under AFSPA, says Verma (Jan 24, 2013, The Hindu)
Opinions and Editorials
Shinde On Hindutva Terror: Terminological Confusions – By Ram Puniyani (Jan 28, 2013, Countercurrents)
Protests are being organized and threats to stall the proceedings of next Lok Sabha session are being dished out to oppose the Home Minister Sushil Kukar Shinde’s statement about the Hindu terrorism, its links with BJP and RSS. (23 Jan 2013). There are two major components of this statement. One is the use of the prefix Hindu for terrorism, and two about RSS-BJP links with terror training camps. What Shinde called Hindu terrorism has also been called Saffron terrorism or Hindutva terrorism. This prefix is to point out to acts of terror indulged in by the likes of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Aseemanand, Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Kalsangara, Sunil Joshi and many like them who were either actively associated with the ideology of Hindutva, or even were organizationally associated with RSS. Others were at that time or previously linked with some progeny of RSS like ABVP, Bajrang Dal etc. Many of them were part of organizations like Sanatan Sanstha, Abhinav Bhararat, who again aim at the goal of Hindu Nation or are ideologically inspired by the agenda of RSS.
The home minister’s remarks are based on investigations done Anti Terror Squads of different states and by National Investigation Agency. Earlier the announcement was made by the former Union home minister P. Chidambaram, in July 2010, to Parliament that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will probe the terrorist attacks on the Samjhauta Express and examine the conspiracy behind the attack, including the links of the accused in terrorist attacks at Malegaon (September 8, 2006), Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad (May 18, 2007) and at the Ajmer dargah (October 11, 2007). He had used the word Saffron terror. Various such acts of terror in which these people have been involved have been coming to light from last ten years or so. In 2003, in Parbani, Jalna and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra; in 2005, in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh; in 2006, in Nanded; in January 2008, at the RSS office in Tenkasi, Tirunelveli; in August 2008, in Kanpur etc.
Few of the details of some of these acts are very revealing : 1. On 6th April 2006 two Bajrang Dal workers died when making the bombs. The place where they died belonged to the RSS worker and saffron flag was hoisted atop the hose. There was also a board of Bajrang Dal Nanded Branch on the wall of the house. 2. In Thane on 4th June 2008, two Hindu Jagran Samiti workers were arrested for planting the bombs in the basement of Gadkari Rangayatan, due to which 7 people got injured. The same group was involved in the blasts in Vashi, Panvel also. 3. In Goa a bomb kept in a scooter went off on the eve of Divali (17th Oct 2009) in Margao. It killed Malgonda Patil and seriously injured Yogesh Naik. Another bomb was detected in Sancoale in a truck carrying 40 youth for Narkasur competition. Both the activists belonged to Sanatan Sanstha. The second aim of this blast was to create communal tension in Margao, which has a history of communal violence. This group takes inspiration from Savarkar (Hindu Mahasabha) and Hedgewar (RSS) and indoctrinates its members into hating Christians and Muslims. 4. On 24th August 2008 two Bajrang Dal activists died in Kanpur, while making bombs. The Kanpur zone IGP S.N. Singh stated that their investigations have revealed that this group was planning massive explosions all over the state. 5. Indian Express, 23 Oct 2008 reports that those involved in the bomb blast in Malegaon and Modasa (Sept 2008) had links with Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Similarly in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu pipe bomb attack on RSS office (Jan.2008) was projected to have been done by Jehadi Muslims.
The common pattern of these acts of terror has been twofold. One, that in few of such cases the activists related to Bajrang Dal or fellow travellers were killed while making the bombs. Second these acts of terror were targeted to kill the Muslims, so these acts were organized at times when the Muslims congregations take place, at the time of namaz or festivals like Shab-e-Barat in Malegaon, or in Ajmer Sharif where they come in large numbers or Samjhauta express where the major number of travellers is Muslims. While in the initial phase police authorities working under the prejudice that ‘all terrorists are Muslims’ misdirected their probe, the probe came on the proper track after the Malegaon blasts when the motor cycle of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the former activist of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a wing of RSS, came under the scanner and her links with many of those who have been named above and are currently in jail, came to the surface. These facts came to light due to the initiative and immaculate investigation done by the then chief of Maharashtra ATS, Hemant Karkare. Karkare pursued the investigation professionally putting together the threads due to which today most of them are in jails. While pursuing these investigations Karkare came under immense pressure from the politicians belonging to BJP and its close cousin, Shiv Sena. During this time Narendra Modi said that Hemant Karkare is an anti National, (Deshdrohi) and Bal Thackeray in his Saamana wrote that’ we spit on the face of Karkare.’ Later Karkare got killed in the Mumbai terror attack of 26/11, 2006.
The people involved in some way were associated to the affiliates of RSS or RSS itself. Mr. Singh, Home secretary has given some of the names from RSS stable who have been allegedly involved in acts of terror: 1. Sunil Joshi (dead), he was an “activist of RSS” in dewas and Mhow from 1990s to 2003. 2. Sandeep Dange (absconding), He was “RSS pracharak” in Mhow, Indore, Uttarkashi and Sajhapur from 1990s to 2006. 3. Lokesh Sharma (arrested) He was RSS ‘nagar karyavahak’ in Deogarh. 4. Swami Assemanand (arrested), He was “associated with RSS wing Vanavashi Kalyan Parishad” in Dang, Gujarat in 1990s to 2007. 4. Rajender alias Samunder (arrested), He was “RSS Varg Vistarak.” 5. Mukesh Vasani (arrested), He was an “activist of RSS” in Godhra. 6. Devender Gupta (arrested), was a “RSS pracharak” in Mhow and Indore. 7. Chandrasekhar Leve (arrested), was a “RSS pracharak” in Shajhanpur in 2007. 8. Kamal Chouhan (arrested), was a “RSS activist.” 9. Ramji Kalsangra (absconding), was a “RSS associate”. This is in addition to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Retd Major Upadhyay, who have been close to them. While some beans were spilled by many of these accused the whole picture was pieced together by Swami Aseemanand, when he decided to confess in front of the magistrate. In his confession Swami gave the details of the whole set up raised under his coordination and involving many RSS workers and their associates. …
- Think, Shinde, think – By Ashok Malik (Jan 27, 2013, Deccan Chronicle)
- The Great Divide On Terror – By M Shamsur Rabb Khan (Jan 17, 2013, Countercurrents)
- Cases Full Of Twists And Troubles – By Toral Varia Deshpande (Feb 4, 2013, Outlook)
- Hindutva Terror: Concrete Action Needed – By Concerned Citizens (Jan 24, 2013, Countercurrents)
The BJP and Nathuram Godse – By A.G. Noorani (Jan 26, 2013, Frontline)
The Bharatiya Janata Party and its ancestor, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, have always felt embarrassed and uneasy about Nathuram Godse. They very well knew that Gandhi’s assassin had strong links to their parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). As Gandhi’s Boswell, Pyarelal, records in his memoirs, “members of the RSS at some places had been instructed beforehand to tune in their radio sets on the fateful Friday for the ‘good news’, and sweets were distributed by the members at many places” (Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase; page 750). There was another reason besides. V.D. Savarkar’s acquittal notwithstanding, many were convinced that he was privy to the murder; most notably Bombay’s Home Minister Morarji Desai (vide the writer’s article “Savarkar and Gandhi’s murder”, Frontline, October 5, 2012). But Savarkar was also the BJP’s ideologue. He was the one who coined the term Hindutva and distinguished his theme of hate elaborately from the ancient and noble faith of Hinduism. L.K. Advani began his bid for the Prime Minister’s office in 1990 with the cry of Hindutva which he developed in speech after speech. Fate willed otherwise, not least because of his opportunism, tactical blunders caused by an excess of zeal and, of course, an obscene exhibition of ambition which the country does not like. Advani has fallen by the wayside. To his dismay, a protégé has emerged to lay claim to that very office and on that very plank of Hindutva—Narendra Modi.
Advani’s palpably false denials in his autobiography, My Country, My Life, reflected the embarrassment. Two, in particular, need to be nailed to the counter: One is that “the RSS had some differences with Gandhiji regarding his approach to securing India’s freedom. But these were minor, which never detracted from the high regard the Sangh had for the Mahatma.” The RSS’s bible is Bunch of Thoughts (1966), written by its longest-serving supremo, M.S. Golwalkar. He pours out his contempt for Gandhi and the Congress in shrill denunciations of both. Advani could not possibly have been unaware of the book. Here are those passages. There were, Golwalkar wrote, in the main “two types of movements against the British rule in our country”. One was the armed revolution by the revolutionaries. “The other movement led by the Congress has had more disastrous and degrading effects on the country. Most of the tragedies and evils that have overtaken our country during the last few decades and are even today corroding our national life are its direct outcome.” That was the Congress led by Gandhi. A few pages later the reference becomes more pointed even though the name is avoided for tactical reasons. The references are to Gandhi’s plank of Hindu-Muslim unity and to his advocacy of non-violence: “Those who declared ‘No Swaraj without Hindu-Muslim unity’ have perpetrated the greatest treason on our society.” So much for Advani’s claim of “the high regard the Sangh had for the Mahatma”.
The attack on Gandhi becomes stronger when Golwalkar turns to non-violence. “They have committed the most heinous sin of killing the life-spirit of a great and ancient people. To preach impotency [sic] to a society which gave rise to a Shivaji who, in the words of the great historian Jadunath Sarkar, ‘proved to the whole world that the Hindu has drunk the elixir of immortality’, and to break the self-confident and proud spirit of such a great and virile society has no parallel in the history of the world for sheer magnitude of its betrayal. …here, we had leaders who were, as if, pledged to sap all manliness from their own people. However, this is not a mere accident of history. This leadership only came as a bitter climax of the despicable tribe of so many of our ancestors who during the past twelve hundred years sold their national honour and freedom to foreigners, and joined hands with the inveterate enemies of our country and our religion in cutting the throats of their own kith and kin to gratify their personal egoism, selfishness and rivalry. No wonder nemesis overtook such a people in the form of such a self-destructive leadership.” The Sangh Parivar is haunted by imagined and ancient wrongs which it is sworn to correct by attacking Muslims and Christians. What is meant by self-destruction? Two decades after the assassination, the RSS mouthpiece (Organiser), then edited by K.R. Malkani, could remember Gandhi, on January 11, 1970, only in these terms in its editorial: “It was in support of Nehru’s pro-Pakistan stand that Gandhiji went on fast and, in the process, turned the people’s wrath on himself.” So, Nathuram Godse represented “the people” and he perpetrated the murder as an expression of “the people’s wrath”.
In 1961, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya said: “With all respect for Gandhiji, let us cease to call him ‘Father of the Nation’. If we understand the old basis of nationalism, then it will be clear that it is nothing but Hinduism.” The Times of India editorially noted on October 17, 1989: “Mr Advani, while holding forth on ‘Bharat Mata’, now goes so far as to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation.” On October 5, 1997, Organiser published an advertisement by a Delhi publisher for six “Readable Attractive New Books”, two of them by Gopal Godse: Qutub Minar is Vishnu Dhwaja and Gandhiji’s Murder and After. The third book advertised was May it Please Your Honour, the assassin’s statement in court. Another was by the judge who ordered the locks of the gate to the Babri Masjid opened on February 1, 1986, in flagrant breach of the law.Organiser is hardly likely to accept advertisements for books critical of the RSS. On Nathuram Godse, Advani asserts that Godse had “severed links with RSS in 1933… had begun to bitterly criticise the RSS”. This was flatly contradicted by none other than Godse’s brother Gopal, who was also an accused at the trial for conspiracy to murder. He published his book Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in December 1993. Speaking in New Delhi on the occasion of the release of his book, Gopal Godse revealed what many had suspected—they had both been active members of the RSS (The Statesman; December 24, 1993).
Soon thereafter, in an interview to Frontline (January 28, 1994), he provided the details and angrily scotched Advani’s attempts to disown them: “All the brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. You can say we grew up in the RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us. Nathuram had become a baudhik karyavah[intellectual worker] in the RSS. He has said in his statement that he left the RSS. He said it because Golwalkar and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.” Asked about Advani’s claim that Nathuram had nothing to do with the RSS, Gopal Godse replied: “I have countered him, saying it is cowardice to say that. You can say that RSS did not pass a resolution, saying, ‘go and assassinate Gandhi’. But you do not disown him [Nathuram]. The Hindu Mahasabha did not disown him. In 1944, Nathuram started doing Hindu Mahasabha work when he had been a baudhik karyavah in the RSS.” It was a foolish attempt by Advani to whitewash a sordid record. A similar attempt was made by Ram Jethmalani, on April 13, 1981, at Kochi. Godse and Gandhi “shared the same political philosophy [sic] of a United India” ( The Times of India; April 14, 1981). He was then vice-president of the BJP. Not surprisingly, he is now a staunch supporter of Narendra Modi’s ambition to become Prime Minister.…
- Who Is Afraid of Tipu Sultan? – By Subhash Gatade (Jan 26, 2013, Countercurrents)
The Saffron String – By Prarthna Gahilote (Feb 4, 2013, Outlook)
Now that Rajnath Singh is set to become BJP president, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s Delhi plans may face a new obstacle. An outward show of geniality is likely, but the Rajnath-Modi relationship has a history of rancour. Rajnath, as party chief in 2006-09, had thrown Modi out of the BJP’s parliamentary board. By now the RSS ambivalence on Modi is strong-and Rajnath is a Sangh choice. So Modi may not necessarily find an eager cheerleader in him. The real inhibiting factor, of course, will be the RSS, which believes it was pushed to a corner during the party president’s election. It was forced to select by elimination. Now, RSS stalwarts are likely to vet and veto appointments to all BJP positions. “In recent times, we have taken a different approach: we don’t tell the BJP what needs to be done, we tell them what should not be done,” says a senior Sangh functionary. So even if a reluctant consensus emerges in the party about Modi as prime ministerial candidate, the Sangh could try to scuttle it. Rajnath, as party chief, will be the one talking to the allies-and can cite their opposition. A strong scenario is that Modi could be offered the ambiguous post of election committee chief, with the decision on his entering the prime ministerial race reserved till after the elections. Modi is unlikely to accept this and could stay out. Besides, Rajnath himself can be a prime ministerial candidate-as can be a few others.
There was a fair bit of drama in the way his predecessor’s re-election bid came unstuck on the home stretch. Just hours after the notification for presidential elections in the BJP, on January 22, it was learnt that the income-tax department had raided companies linked to Nitin Gadkari. Providence had smiled on lobbies opposed to him-indeed, there were sly hints of a friendly hand in government doing a good turn to someone. Anyway, what had seemed like fait accompli now had to be stalled-a second term for Gadkari was now out of the question. In Delhi, the Sangh’s pointsman in the BJP, Suresh Soni, considered close to both Arun Jaitley and Rajnath, lost no time in taking the cue. He rallied all hands on the deck. Urgent calls were made to Rajnath, who rushed back from a journey to his constituency Ghaziabad. Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar, all assembled in Jaitley’s office. In Mumbai, senior party leader L.K. Advani told RSS deputy chief Bhaiyyaji Joshi that the presidential election the next day would not be smooth, with Yashwant Sinha threatening to contest. Bhaiyyaji struck down Sinha’s name, saying he was a “rank outsider”; Rajnath’s name was proposed as the consensus replacement for Gadkari. Support for Rajnath came not just from Soni, but also senior leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar. Sources also say that Modi and Jaitley had earlier put their weight behind Naidu, known to be close to both of them.
What played out in Delhi was more the outcome of internal politics in the Sangh than infighting in the BJP. The Sangh has had its way, but some senior leaders are quite unhappy over the “manner in which Rajnath has been made president” and say it has dented the Sangh’s image. As things spiralled out of control on January 22, sources confirm that Bhaiyyaji told Gadkari to propose Rajnath’s name for presidency. Sangh sources also confirm that Soni had had his way, settling scores not just within the Sangh but also with Gadkari. For he was reportedly miffed with the Sangh for curtailing his role in coordinating between the BJP and Nagpur. Of late the Sangh had entrusted to Bhaiyyaji a lot of Soni’s work. Soni also held a grudge against Gadkari after the unceremonious removal of his aide, Prabhat Jha, as the chief of the Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP. Senior BJP leaders confirm the infighting will only worsen after Rajnath’s takeover, given the meagre support he has within his own party. Singh’s only actual support comes from Sushma Swaraj; others are known to be opposed to him. As a senior party leader put it, “The slugfest has just begun.”
- BJP’s ‘galaxy’ – more liability than asset – By Amulya Ganguli (Jan 26, 2013, Yahoo)
- ‘Anti-Muslim’ aspires to be Indian PM, for a ‘lesser crime’ Muslim legislator finds himself behind bars – By M Ghazali Khan (Jan 25, 2013, Muslim News)
- Soorinje’s Story Has Been Playing Out Below The Radar Of National Attention – By Shoma Chaudhury (Jan 27, 2013, Tehelka)
- BJP vs rebels: The sorry saga continues – By V.S. Karnic (Jan 26, 2013, Yahoo)
Verma Committee Report: Police Reforms Are The Key – By Prakash Singh (Jan 28, 2013, Tehelka)
The infamous gang rape incident of Delhi has had reverberations across the world. The European Parliament, in a resolution, while welcoming the measures already initiated by government, called for a more coordinated response to gender-based violence. The IMF Chief, Christine Lagard, dedicated the “moment” to Damini (the Delhi gang rape victim) during her speech at the World Economic Forum. Within the country, there is, fortunately, a healthy debate on several important issues like governance of Delhi, the adequacy of existing laws on crimes against women, the justification of use of force on peaceful crowds which have a legitimate grievance, the apathy of citizens to victims of crime, et al. The Justice Verma Committee, which was appointed to suggest suitable amendments in criminal law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment to criminals committing crimes against women, has come up with a useful report which should strengthen the criminal justice system in achieving gender justice. The root cause for the current “unsafe environment”, as pointed out by the Committee, is the “failure of good governance”.
A number of measures have already been announced to improve police response to crimes against women – more visible night patrolling, increase in the number of PCR vans, checking of private buses, more help lines, etc. These knee-jerk reactions would however not take us far. The police needs comprehensive structural reforms. This was appropriately emphasised by Justice Verma when he called for “full compliance” of the Supreme Court’s directions of 2006, and said that this was of “utmost priority to national welfare including the welfare of women and children”. The Committee urged all the states “to tackle systemic problems in policing” and deplored that the judgment had not been implemented so far. “Any political interference or extraneous influence in the performance of the statutory duty by a policeman”, the Committee said, could not be “condoned” and the accountability of the police is “only to the law and to no one else in the discharge of their duty”.
It must be understood that police reforms, which essentially mean giving functional autonomy to the police, are not for the glory of the police. They are essentially to transform the colonial police into an instrument of service to the people, to metamorphose the present ‘Rulers’ Police’ into a ‘People’s Police’ accountable to the laws of the land and committed to upholding the Constitution of the country.
A reformed and restructured police is essential not only to uphold the rule of law but also to safeguard our democratic structure and sustain the momentum of economic progress. The gradual infiltration of criminal elements into the legislatures and the parliament is the greatest threat to our democracy. Insulation of police from extraneous pressures is absolutely necessary to deal with such elements. The Committee’s suggestion to disqualify a candidate, in the event of a magistrate taking cognizance of an offence against him, would go a long way in cleaning up the polity. Besides, economic progress can take place only in an atmosphere of good law and order.
The scope of police reforms should not be considered limited to the directions given by the Supreme Court. The Justice Verma Committee has rightly placed emphasis on certain other aspects of police functioning – the filing and registration of complaints, improvement in infrastructure at the police stations, adequate forensic support down to the district level, improving police welfare, community policing, performance appraisal based not on statistical figures but on yardsticks like public satisfaction, safety and security of women and success in preventing incidents of communal violence. The police, above all, must have a “moral vision” for the performance of its statutory duties.
- Forcing the issue – By T.K. Rajalakshmi (Jan 26, 2013, Frontline)
- ‘The government has to choose between politics and the Constitution’ – Gopal Subramanium with Sandeep Joshi (Jan 27, 2013, The Hindu)
- Recast Traditions For Gender Justice – By R.B Sreekumar (Dec 30, 2012, Countercurrents)
To Be Or Not To Be United – By TS Sudhir (Jan 27, 2013, Tehelka)
Wonder if Sushil Kumar Shinde was punished at school for not completing his homework on time. Now in his avatar as Union Home minister, he faces a police case of cheating for not delivering on his promise of a decision on Telangana within a month. A court in Andhra Pradesh has ordered that a similar case be booked against Shinde’s predecessor, P Chidambaram, who promised statehood to the region on December 9, 2009 only to backtrack a fortnight later. The Congress party’s refusal to adhere to any deadlines on Telangana has provided that spark to this emotional struggle for a separate state. With elections just 14 months away, this has galvanised the two principal pro-Telangana parties, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into action. Both hope to ride on the crest of the Telangana wave to maximise their electoral strength in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha.
The BJP, like an efficient marketing person, has sought to make itself look more attractive by reducing the time in which it will give Telangana. Last year, Sushma Swaraj had promised that her party will make Telangana a separate state within 100 days of coming to power in Delhi. Today Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reduced that period to 24 hours. The TRS that does not quite appreciate the saffron party competing for space, has upped the ante, its tone more shrill, promising to write the political obituary of the Congress in the region. The demands have been familiar: resign from your posts and party. The only issue with it is that Andhra Pradesh has seen this charade being played out too many times, with MPs, ministers, MLAs resigning only to find the Speaker sit on it for long and subsequently rejecting them.
Seven of the twelve Congress MPs from Telangana have promised to resign on Tuesday but privately they admit to being pushed to a corner. A first-time MP told Tehelka that he still hopes that the Congress may deliver Telangana and a show of defiance may spoil his chances of getting the party ticket next year. Surprisingly, the Telangana ministers in Kiran Kumar Reddy’s cabinet have struck a defiant note, refusing to quit. Over the next few days, they will be subjected to physical attacks at their homes, like it happened on earlier occasions. The Telangana Joint Action committee is also mooting boycotting them socially in the districts though it is not clear how they will manage to implement it.
Civil society activists, including students and government employees, who thronged the protest venue at Indira Park have no choice but to go with the political forces that are marshalling the agitation, even though they are skeptical of them. They realise that the same TRS that is badmouthing the Congress today was hobnobbing with it in Delhi three months ago. TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao’s habit of abruptly switching off the agitations in the past too has created doubts in the minds of Telangana votaries about what exactly is happening behind the scenes between the party and the Congress. Politically, the procrastination is anything but good news for the Congress. It is certain to draw a blank in most districts of Telangana, both due to the T-factor and because its governance record has been very mediocre. The challenge for the party is to take a call on what is good for its political prospects as well as the state and the country. Coming clean on what it plans to do on Telangana would be better than taking refuge in redefining a week or a month, Ghulam Nabi Azad-style.
While the TRS will be the biggest gainer, it also realises that it cannot be in agitation mode for more than a year. The challenge will be to keep the gunpowder ready, to be able to reignite the movement any time it wishes to. Having won only 26 and 10 MLAs in 2004 and 2009 respectively, next year’s polls will provide it the opportunity to come of age. For the common man in the Telangana districts, and Hyderabad in particular, the days of police barricades, protests, bandhs and sloganeering are back. A matter of worry for parents and students since exam season is nearing. None of this will do any good to Brand Hyderabad.
- The Return Of T-Rex – By Madhavi Tata (Feb 4, 2013, Outlook)
West Bengal: Politics of violence – By Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay (Jan 26, 2013, Frontline)
The brutal attack on Abdur Rezzak Mollah, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers, is evidence that the politics of violence in West Bengal, which has been on the ascendance since the Trinamool Congress came to power in 2011, is showing no signs of abating.
Mollah, a Minister in the previous CPI(M)-led Left Front government and a nine-time MLA, was attacked when he went to the Bhangar area in South 24 Parganas district after receiving news of a local CPI(M) office being set on fire. The attack was allegedly led by the local Trinamool heavyweight, Arabul Islam, and his followers, who were holding a public meeting in the vicinity. The assailants continued to rain blows on the septuagenarian Communist leader even after he collapsed. His car was vandalised.
The Trinamool leadership made light of the incident, with State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim claiming that Mollah had got himself admitted to a private hospital merely “to get some rest in a beautiful house”. However, according to the hospital authorities, Mollah required stitches for facial injuries and even suffered a hairline crack in the spinal region.
The attack drew sharp criticism not only from a cross section of the political parties in the State, but also from a sizable section of Trinamool’s urban support base. Just two days after the attack, the Bhangar region was again on the boil when vehicles carrying CPI(M) supporters to a protest rally in Kolkata were set ablaze allegedly by Trinamool supporters. In the clash that followed, at least five people were seriously injured. Governor M.K. Narayanan described it as “goondaism”. This led to a war of words between him and ruling party leaders.
“With the panchayat elections approaching, attacks against our supporters and workers have been increasing. The State government, instead of trying to stop them, appears to be hand-in-glove with the culprits. None of the accused has been arrested,” Leader of the Opposition and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Surya Kanta Mishra told Frontline. According to the CPI(M), 85 of its activists have been killed and 5,743 injured and hospitalised since May 2011.
- Martyrs’ Parents Want Their Daughters-In-Law Dead – Just For Compensation – By Virendra Nath Bhatt (Jan 27, 2013, Tehelka)
- Coalition collapse – By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Jan 26, 2013, Frontline)
Muslims in Indian Cities: Trajectories of Marginalisation
Author: Eds. Laurent Gayer and Chritophe Jaffrelot
Reviewed by: By Ram Puniyani
Available at: Harper Collins, Delhi 2012, Pages: 403, Price Rs 499. http://cup.columbia.edu
Shades of Muslim marginalization (Jan 25, 2013, Twocircles.net)
The welfare of the minority communities is the barometer of the health of a democracy. Going by that dictum, this book shows the poor health of Indian democracy, as reflected by, amongst other things, the marginalization of Muslim minorities. This edited volume contains eleven essays well written essays, which deal with study of the living spaces of Muslim community. The contributors to the volume have combined the field study with analytic observations of the quality of lives of Muslim community in these cities, some from the riot prone areas and other in the cities from former Muslim states. This largest religious minority of India, Muslims; have suffered a strange situation and have been subjected to communal violence and economic discrimination; both. These twin processes has given rise to the dynamics of politics from within the section of community which gives more importance to the identity issues. The violence and discrimination are the major factors leading to their marginality. This book is a unique contribution to the study of Indian Muslims and shows the immaculate editorial imprint of Chritophe Jafflerolt, who is a major authority on the politics of Hindu Right wing along with Laurent Gayer. The editors have not only contributed to study of one of the cities of the eleven discussed in the book, but their introduction to the volume and conclusions tightly sum up the theme of the book, the marginalization of Muslims from their earlier position of centrality.
The book revolves around the ghettoes, slums and other forms of segregation, including self segregation of the community during last six decades in particular. While the intensification of this phenomenon has taken place during last three decades in particular since the rise of Hindu nationalism, in conjunction with the compliant state. This whole trajectory of the phenomenon has shaken the faith of the community in the impartiality of the state. Muslims in India still bear the stigma of being responsible for the vivisection of the country, which is nowhere near to the truth. While making observations about the socio-economic and political condition of the Muslims, the editors in particular base their analysis around the fact that Muslims in India are no uniform community. Sachar committee and Rangnath Mishra Commission have brought out the dismal condition of Muslims, their discrimination in jobs and most of the aspects of economic life, in the arena of representation in jobs and electoral politics. To blame the madrassas for the plight of Muslims is also very much off the mark as only four percent of Muslim children go to the madrassas. It is in this light the talk of reservation for the Muslim community is gathering steam. Their representation in Lok Sabha, Parliament, is constantly declining, today with 13.4 % (2001 data) of Muslims, in Lok Sabha they are just 5.5%. The caste as factor of Muslim community is very much there, but the caste factor in this community is overall eclipsed by the religious identity as a minority.
Comparatively Muslims are a more urbanized religious group, and the fact is that urban Muslims are poorer that their rural counterparts. It is in this backgrounds that the book sets out to compare the place which the Muslim community occupies in the 11 Indian cities to observe that this minority is declining, in a non linear way. To understand these case studies included in the volume, authors survey the position of Muslims amongst the local elite group. The case studies also look at the condition of Muslims localities in Indian cities for testing the Ghettoisation thesis. The volume is a unique mix of quantitative with qualitative approach, drawing from the richness of each. The case studies do show the perception of three communities that ‘we are being pushed behind’. In Mumbai the large section of Muslims are forced to live near the largest garbage dump. One of the contributors Qudsiya Contractor argues that ‘state through its violent spatial strategies and the Hindu right through its cultural populism and communal politics, have played a crucial role’ in marginalization of this minority. Editors in their study of riot prone Ahmadabad, cull out a painful observation that in areas where there are no Muslims in Ahmadabad are regarded as ‘good’ areas! This observation tells a direction in which Indian democracy is being pushed over a period of time. In Ramganj in Jaipur, Gayatri Jaisingh Rathore observes that ‘social interaction with other religious groups is limited and the problems related to hygiene, education and unemployment abound’.
The editors quote Percival Spear approvingly where he says that, being relegated to the second class citizenship; Muslims have no future for them except their eventual absorption in Hindu mass. The decline of Muslims is not uniform all over India; they have been more resilient in Hindi belt, also known as cow belt. The process of ghettotisation is also very diverse. In this bleak scenario a section of new Muslim middle class is also emerging, around areas of meat export, leather goods, and Unani medicine and also in the newer areas like agribusiness, IT, pharmaceuticals and real estate. Connection with Gulf countries has also helped them in a major way. The book gives an interesting insight into the process of cultural occultation, which presents itself as ‘de-Islamized narrative’, which may be a tactical one, a survival mechanism. At the same time there is also re-Islamisation also there. How this dynamics of cultural occultation and re-Islamisation will play itself, time alone will tell. The totality of the process can be summed up in post partition fall and identity politics, over determination by communal violence and political obliteration and third is resilient cosmopolitanism. The totality of the process gets manifested in the spatial process of mixed localities, Enclaves, slums and Ghettoes. Mixed areas are replete with nostalgia and vestiges of syncretic culture. Enclaves are due to interaction of a desire to share common space with members of same community mostly after being pushed to ‘safe’ areas after communal violence. Ghettoes are dynamic self segregation in search of security.
The book comes are a very incisive indictment of the present state of affairs of Indian state, which is heavily tilted due to the communalization. The book gives not only a powerful incisive analysis and observation of Muslim community, but also presents the sad plight through which community is passing at the moment. The frightful prospect of de-islamisation is very much in the store. While coming powerfully on these major observations, it finally dismisses the need for reversal of the phenomenon through political and social initiatives. Barring the prescription of Mohalla committees, the book is silent on the immense possibilities of need for initiatives in the field of education, need for campaigns for physical security, the dire need to job provisions and economic alleviation, the subjective intervention to bridge the divides along religious lines needed to be mentioned and elaborated in the book dealing with the issue in such a profound way. Its content is a wakeup call to reverse the ongoing negative processes and need to try to restore the processes for communal amity and social peace, a pre requisite for development of any nation and a community.