Monday, May 9, 2011

Gujarat Riots: Modi, Sanjiv Bhatt and Congress – Who is the real villain?

By - Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

The murky tussle between Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt is getting more and more attention in the media.Dismissing allegations levelled against him by senior IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt over the Gujarat riots, chief minister Narendra Modi blamed opponents for trying to defame him. Speaking at the culmination of Gujarat’s golden jubilee celebrations in Ahmedabad, Mr Modi, in a veiled reference to the Opposition, said that he would not bow down to forces which were trying to malign him. “Every constitutional authority in this country is being misused to carry out opression on me…let them try to do that. I would budge and not bow down to these forces…You try and target Modi but you have been doing this during the state’s golden jubilee celebrations….in this celebration year, these forces rather than contributing to the development of the state have been working against it.” Mr Modi said. It’s quite amazing and disturbing that till now there were allegations of all sorts on Modi but now even the SIT is under the scanner. It’s difficult to understand, how we can allege someone like Modi, we can mistrust an independent agency of the stature of SIT and give so much weightage to people like Sanjiv Bhatt Sanjiv Bhatt’s character too is unfolding gradually. There are reports that his career and conduct have been questionable since years. There have been many departmental inquiries against him and even a criminal case for beating someone to death!!! And for the so called intelligentsia, many inquiries are before 2002. Too much is being read in to the affidavit and media hype of Sanjiv Bhatt, who has been sleeping all through the last nine years of the incidents of riots. Neither he opted to file any affidavit before the Justice Nanvati Inquiry Commission, nor he provided any such information as being allegedly disclosed now to his superior Officer namely RB Shreekumar Adl. DGP in charge of Intelligence, when he filed affidavit before the Nanvati Inquiry Commission.

Yet, the controversial officer has now come out with a theory that he had attended the meeting on 27-02-2002 when alleged illegal instructions were given by the Chief Minister. He has cited the support of a driver, who allegedly took him to the CM’s residence where the meeting took place. In fact the driver had been dismissed from the service long back for serious misconduct of forgery of certificates to obtain the driver’s job. It is strange that the statement of the disgruntled officer and the dismissed driver are being given such hype while ignoring the statements of other most senior Police and IAS officers who remained present during the meeting on 27th February 2002. Besides, it is also quite unfortunate that the so called intelligent people, who try to allege the Gujarat government for not divulging records, in their blogs & panel discussion on TV channels, have missed one thing that when a junior officer attends any such high level meeting, as per procedure he is supposed to put up the proceedings/ notes before the superior officer about the deliberations. The Intelligence Manual requires that such things are brought to the notice of senior officer in writing. It is difficult to imagine why Sanjiv Bhatt did not do so at the relevant time. In fact, he was posted as DCI (Security) who is supposed to look after intelligence on VIP security and security to vital installations etc. only. Another DCI was there to look after law& order and communal matters. Sanjiv Bhatt had never been provided “y” category security by the government. There is a procedure to assess threat perception of a person where a committee consisting of the Home Secretary, Additional DGP (Intelligence) and the Joint Director of the Central IB consider the category of the security cover required for a person and on this recommendation such security is provided by the government. No such recommendation has ever been made for Sanjiv Bhatt. Further, on the reference of the SIT appointed by the Supreme Court, the Home Secretary wrote to the DGP to look in to the security cover for Sanjiv Bhatt.

The DGP provided appropriate security to him.The allegation that the government has withdrawn his security is false and baseless.Sanjiv Bhatt is trying to create false impression deliberately to cover up his misconduct of keeping personnel from Juanagadh at his residence at Ahmedabad. It may be mentioned that Sanjiv Bhatt has been in the habit of keeping more personnel at his residence in excess of the orderlies entitled. There had been such instances when he was posted at Banaskantha and at Rajkot earlier. Show cause notices were also issued at the relevant time. At present he has been posted at Junagadh SRP training School where he has joined and went on leave. Currently he is on sick leave on account of his mother’s alleged ill health. Yet he has been keeping the personnel from Junagadh and the vehicle allotted to him at Ahmedabad on the pretext that the SIT would call him anytime for deposition. Though the SIT has already recorded his statement yet he is claiming this privilege. Besides, an officer can appear in any forum from his place of posting for which one need not to remain present at the location where he chooses to place himself.

It may be mentioned that Sanjeev Bhatt is an IPS officer of 1988 batch belonging to Gujarat cadre, whose career since the beginning of his service has remained controversial. He is facing several departmental proceedings and criminal cases of serious nature. Often he has been taking undue advantage of the government citing different arguments of his actions of omission and commission as part of his duty. However, many departmental inquiries could not be settled and the criminal cases against him are still pending for which he ahs been trying to get favour from the government. Even he has not been promoted as IGP though his batch mates have been promoted long back. He was posted in as ASP Jamnagar district when there was an agitation at Khamabliya. It was reported that he committed excessive use of power and clamping of draconian provisions of TADA on some of the protestors.

Police (ASP) in Jamnagar district was marked with an incident of misuse of power resulting to death of a person. There was a private criminal complaint filed at Jamjodhpur Police station against him on 18-11-1990 by one Shri Amrutlal Madhavji Vaishnani. This case is still pending at Sessions Court at Kahambalia. A criminal complaint was filed in 1996 by one Sumer Singh Rajpurohit, an Advocate practicing at Pali, Rajasthan against Sanjiv Bhatt, the then SP, Banaskantha District. A criminal case was registered against Sanjiv Bhatt & others vide FIR No. 403/96 dtd. 18-11-1996 u/s 120B, 195, 196, 342, 347, 357, 365, 388, 458, 482 IPC and Sec. 58 (1) & 58 (2) of NDPS Act. After the investigation, a chargesheet was filed against Sanjiv Bhatt & others u/s 114, 120B, 323, 342, 348, 357, 365, 368, 388, 452, 201 & 482 IPC and Sec. 9, 17, 18, 29, 58 (1) & 58 (2) r/w Sec. 37 of NDPS Act in the Court of Special Judge, NDPS Act, Jodhpur, Rajasthan. It is mentioned that Sumer Singh Rajput was a tenant of sister of R.R. Jain, a sitting Judge of Gujarat High Court. To get the tenant evacuated for the rented premises, Sanjiv Bhatt, the then SP of Banaskanthe and his subordinate police officers planted more than 1kg of Narcotic drug in one room in a hotel at Palanpur, Gujarat, which was shown that the complainant was occupying the same while the complainant was at Pali, Rajasthan. The said complainant Advocate was abducted at midnight from Pali on the instructions of Sanjiv Bhatt by his subordinate police staff and brought him to Palanpur, anaskantha in Gujarat. The said advocate was pressurized by Sanjiv Bhatt and his subordinate police officers to vacate the said rented premises by threatening arrest under offence under NDPSAct. The advocate under pressure vacated the property.

Physical possession of the property was immediately handed over to sister of R.R. Jain, Judge of Gujarat High Court. Sanjiv Bhatt asked released Sumersingh Rajpurohit on 08-05-1996, after filing a report u/s 169 Cr.P.C., in which it was stated that Sumer Singh could not be identified in the Test Identification Parade. Applications were filed for quashing the criminal complaint filed in Pali at Gujarat and Rajasthan High Court. But the petitions have been dismissed and the criminal case is still pending. Also, the Gujarat Vigilance Commission had recommended twice on 15-07-2002 and 19-10-2006for suspension of Sanjiv Bhatt for his professional misconducts. His stint as Assistant Superintendent of The Secretary, Bar Association, Pali (Rajasthan) made a complaint before the National Human Rights Commission. The Commission considering the serious human right violation by its order dated 15-09-2010 directed the State Govt. of Gujarat to pay a sum of Rs. One lakh as monetary relief to Sumer Singh, advocate, Pali. The Gujarat government issued order dated 23-12-2010 as per the direction of the NHRC to pay the amount. A cheque was issued on 25-01-2011 in favour of S.C. Rajpurohit. Since the criminal proceeding is pending against him and as one charge sheet has been issued to him, he has grievances against the state government. He has been trying to get these issues settled and get his overdue promotion as IGP. It would be amply clear from the above details that the entire service career of Sanjiv Bhatt has remained controversial and wherever he has been posted, controversies have followed him. He has many issues which are to be settled with government like the pending departmental inquiry, criminal cases and the current posting where he has joined and currently on unsanctioned sick leave to settle. The ulterior motive behind his recent demeanor becomes quite clear with these details.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at or on his cell 09228746770]

Friday, May 6, 2011

Madhya Pradesh: Shadows of Hindu Rashtra

By Ram Puniyani

Madhya Pradesh is being ruled by the BJP Government from last several years. This is one state where BJP and its erstwhile avatar, Bhartiya Jansangh had a good deal of following in the past also. During last few years one has seen with the BJP Government in the saddle, the state is imposing the norms which are intimidating to minorities, the BJP associates have become more assertive, state is promoting the outright Hindu culture, and it is also the place where the terror component of RSS affiliates has been having its dens at various places in the state.

Recently (March 2011) the police stations got a circular from the head office which required them to collect the information about Christian minorities. This information pertained to various facets of social life of the community. The order candidly sought information about Christians of all denominations such as number of priests, bishops, schools, institutions, political patronage, Christians with criminal antecedents, economic sources, among many other things. When one priest refused to divulge the information, meant to profile the community, he was taken to police station.

When the community leaders took the matter with the top police officers, they expressed their ignorance, and it seemed like the case of ‘No One Killed Jessica Lall’, as if no one has issued the circular, or the one who issued this illegal circular is being shielded. With this the subtle ways of operation by the RSS controlled state mechanism became clear. With BJP government in the seat of power the RSS associates have become much more dominant and there are activities, which begin as ‘religious’ one and end up being hateful to minorities the way the events are tilted and given shape by those controlling these organizations.

This is one state where the RSS has been very active in the Adivasi areas. Like in case of Gujarat, on the pretext that ‘Christian missionaries are converting’ many acts of violence have been taking place in these areas. One recalls the rape of nuns in Jhabua, followed by the comment by ‘B.L. Sharma Prem’ from RSS stable, who proudly boasted that the rape of nuns is the act of nationalism. In the same areas the followers of Asaram Bapu have been very active, spreading venom against the minorities.

Pursuing this line of action, they had earlier also organized meetings in Adivasi areas, now this agenda got culminated in the organization of Narmada Samajik Kumbh (Feb 2011), on the lines of Shabri Kumbh in the Dangs of Gujarat. These Kumbhs have been creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity amongst Christians in particular and in these events they undertake the “Ghar Vapasi” (Returning Home), which in real sense means the conversion of Adivasis, to Hinduism under direct or indirect pressure. Now these efforts are totally being backed up by the facilities from the state Government.

There is a plethora of anti Minority literature which is distributed en masse. Such intervention in Adivasi areas is dampening the educational and health welfare work of Missionaries in the Adivasi areas. With this Government in power, the Muslim minorities were clearly told that MP is not going to implement Sachar Committee report. Rather than seeing it as a necessary affirmative action for the poor Muslims, it is being projected in the divisive communal language. Going against the spirit of Indian Constitution, the MP Chief Minister has given a call to the Government servants to join RSS, while being on the active service.

One recalls in Gujarat similar call was given by Narendra Modi. At that time Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime minister and he felt so embarrassed by this move that he insisted upon the state Government to withdraw the circular permitting state employees to join the RSS. As such it is RSS trained and coordinated Swayamsevaks, who not only work in BJP, in the important positions of power but they also manipulate politics in more ways than one.

To argue that RSS is not a political organization is factually wrong as RSS has a political agenda of Hindu Rashtra, which it operates through multiple progeny. So while the Government servants are barred to join politics, MP government is openly flaunting this norm. In Gujarat one witnessed the advent of Hindu Rashtra through massive anti Muslim violence backed up by cultural manipulation. In MP the cultural instance is more dominant and visible. Hindu terminologies are being picked up for every instance and implemented.

For School teachers the term coined was Rishi, as in ancient India, it was Rishis committed to giving knowledge. Interestingly, Rishi is a masculine gender, so the large number of women teachers is out of this ambit. And more interestingly these Rishis were lathicharged when they came together to demand for implementation of better pay scales. M.P. has also been the place where the Hindutva terror groups got a good shelter, safe heaven for them. People like Sunil Joshi, Pragya Singh Thakur, Kalsangra, Devendra Sharma, Sandeep Dange and others could operate comfortably due their saffron association in a BJP ruled state.

State has been totally insensitive to the feelings of minorities and all its schemes have been named in the Hindu terminology, Girls welfare scheme: Ladli Laxmi, Child Nutrition program: Anna Prashan, Water Harvesting: Jalabhishek are just few of the names of state government schemes currently in operation in the state. Similarly the schools have been made to start Surya Namaskar, (Sun Worship), a sort of exercise-worship routine from the Hindu mythology. The state officials openly participate in Arms Worship (Shastra Puja) a ritual on Dussehra festival. In this worship, the Guns and weapons from police department are freely used. This taking out arms from armed police must be regarded as a serious violation of law.

Yoga too was initially introduced as a compulsory discipline. Now it is optional, but then with majority Hindus opting for it, the minority children do feel left out. State has showered the gift of land to various trusts formed by RSS associates. Recently one donation of large plot of land to Kushabhau Thackeray (the founder of RSS-BJP activities in the state) trust has been quashed by the Court, but such instances abound.

Madhya Pradesh Government is combining subtle and overt intimidation along with cultural manipulation to Hindutvize the state. The minorities are feeling marginalized and insecure due to the atmosphere created by the state machinery and RSS affiliates. After Gujarat, many a states are vying for emulating its model; Madhya Pradesh already seems to be way ahead!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ayodhya verdict, temple and Indian nationalism

By Ram Puniyani

While Ayodhya verdict is under criticism from various quarters for ignoring the basic issue of land dispute, for ignoring the illegal installation of Ram Lalla idols on the night of 23 Dec 1949 and the demolition of the masjid by Sangh Parivar on 6th December 1992, a new dimension has been added to the issue. In the aftermath of the judgment, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat (30th Sept 2010) had welcomed the judgment and stated that this judgment paves the way for grand Ram Temple as court has already allotted 2/3 of land, where the mosque, is located to Hindus.

Now (Dec 12, 2010) he goes further to say that division of land is unwarranted and all land should be given to Hindus as division always creates problems as in the case of Kashmir, and that all the land should be handed over to Hindus. According to him, this will also be in the fitness of nationalism as it will wipe out Babri Masjid, the symbol of foreign rule. The temple will create the ‘Bharat’s self consciousness’. Giving hint of the future plans, the RSS supremo further said that it is time that we re-establish all such symbols that portend Bharat’s self-image and nature that was razed during the foreign rule.

The statement of Mr. Bhagwat is quiet in tune with the politics, ideology and agenda of RSS. Needless to say the comparison with division of Kashmir is totally warped and illogical. Kashmir was an independent state attacked by Pakistan. Kashmir acceded to India in the face of this aggression and there were clauses of full autonomy of Kashmir barring the matters related to defense, communication, currency and foreign affairs. Indian army entered Kashmir after this accession by which time 1/3 Kashmir was occupied by Pakistan army. It was not a division by any legal authority. The occupation of Kashmir by Pakistan was an act of aggression and United Nations had mandated for plebiscite in Kashmir, which never took place. And Dr. Bhagwat/RSS is worried about the ill effects of division, they can very well leave the ‘manufactured claims’ and restore the masjid pre 6th December 1992 and pre 23 December 1949. That will be an appropriate way to avoid division and solve the issue, releasing us from the vice like grip of identity issues so that nation can focus on infinite ills ailing the country.

In case of Babri masjid, it was a protected monument under the Indian act and on the night of 23 December 1949 some motivated elements, hand in glove with sympathizers of Hindu nationalism installed the idols there. Then, RSS elements (Advani and co.) took over the issue in the decade of 1980 and demolished the masjid, which has been one of the biggest crimes in Independent India. It was also an assault on Indian Constitution. The Court gave the verdict in a Panchayat style ignoring the core elements of the case, also under the dominating influence of communalization of society which has been unleashed by the communal violence and propaganda.

What is needed is to look at the clauses of Indian Constitution and restore the land to the Sunni Wakf Board, under whose possession that land has been for long enough time to be legally valid. To regard the structures built during medieval period as symbols of foreign rule is contrary to the concept of Indian Nationalism. Indian Nationalism regarded British rule as foreign rule and struggled against it. Still it did not talk of wiping out the structures built by British during their rule. RSS type ideologies never struggled against the foreign rule, British rule, and regard the period of Muslim Kings as the period of foreign rule. This again goes against the understanding of Indian nationalism. Kingdoms are Kingdoms and we can’t equate Kingdoms to nationalism.

Kings of different religions have ruled for power and wealth. They were neither representative of the people nor of their religion. Since RSS ideology emerged from the declining social sectors of Hindu Kings, landlords and clergy they have deliberately accorded to Kings’ rule the status of nationalism. Same applies to the Muslim communal ideology that accords the status of nationalism to the rule of Muslim Kings. There is a deliberate confusion between the concept of Kingdoms and Modern nation states in communal ideology. Communal ideologies imagine that all religious communities were homogenous and fighting against other religious communities. Hindu Kings were exploiting Hindu peasants and Muslim kings were not targeting Hindu peasants just because they were Hindus.

Barring few exceptions religion was not the goal of kings. Also it is interesting that except initial plundering by some Muslim Kings, once they settled here in collaboration and alliance with Hindu Kings, they did not take away the wealth of this land to other places. On contrary British rule was primarily for plunder of resources of the country. The RSS, communal ideologies’ ignoring the British exploitation and harping on Muslim Kings is due to their agenda of religious nationalism, which is away from the values of freedom movement; Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

In modern nationalism, Indian nationalism, the past is not looked through religious angle and the main goal is to build the future on the principals enshrined in Indian Constitution. That’s how Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru emphasized on ‘new temple’ of Modern India; Educational institutes and industries. Contrary to this, for RSS the temples of past when Hindu Kings ruled and applied the laws of Manu, birth based hierarchy of caste and gender, is their political and social agenda. British deliberately gave a communal twist to the History by projecting Kings as Hindus or Muslims and sowed the seeds of division between the people. Muslim League on one side and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS on the other played a compliant role to British Policy, accepted their version of History, and spread hatred against the other community.

This ‘Hate other’ laid the foundation of communal violence and Partition of India, which was the highest index of success of British policy of divide and rule, in which communalists came in handy to execute the British designs of splitting the communities along religious lines. Muslim League-RSS were ideal puppets in the hands of British. Today in India the divisive politics is again being deliberately promoted to sidetrack the core issues related to bread, butter, employment and shelter, to undermine the concept of rights and dignity of average people. RSS Chief’s call to re-establish all such symbols is fraught with danger.

Where will one stop? With rule of Hindu Kings?; some may like to go further back to the demolition of Buddha Vihars by Hindu rulers? And then what will one do with the Aryans coming to India and their dominating the native Adivasi and others? The whole country did accept 15th August as the starting point of our nation, and made it a point of departure from the past to initiate the future building of peace and progress. The ideologies and calls being given by RSS family are something alien to Indian nationalism and they need to be combated against to preserve and protect the very idea of India as it emerged during national movement and as it was nurtured by the founding fathers of India.

Ayodhya judgment also needs a relook from the same barometer of Indian legality and not RSS agenda of dividing people along religious lines. It is needed that all those committed to the values of amity of communities, and Indian Constitution, all those valuing the concept of Human rights come forward and spread the awareness about the Indian nationalism and build the bridges amongst religious communities to focus on progress of the nation in the field of education and industrialization on the basis of Human rights of all Indians, leaving the mosques and temples in peace, as they are; where they are.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

2 Jews > than 257-300 and 700 Indians dead and injured in 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attack

By G M Siddiqui, Mumbai

In the wake of the anniversary of 26/11, India’s English ‘paid media’ gives more front page and column space to the 2 Jews rather than to the 257-300 dead and 700 injured in 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, as if the Indian and other foreigner dead have not of equal status to the 2 Jewish dead, whose relations are now moving heaven and earth back in the Jewish city of New York and creating more international media drumbeats than Indian Government could, over the entire period the tragedy has been hanging on India’s security concerns. While the grandfather of the saved child harangues from TV screens that we will fight the terror with goodness and peace, his clenched fist that attacks the air again and again gives lies to his any announced peace moves.

The tradition of Jewish victim-hood to thrive on claimed reparations and compensation over tragedies visiting the community through ages, has come out in the open when even though the grandfather categorically states that he is not after the money, his moves are all paved with dreams of compensation and donation money that is to make mockery of the poor dead and injured Indians that have suffered the same or even worst fate as they are yet to be either compensated and/or rehabilitated.

It is a shame that media that is the pulse of the people in any nation, in India should be do sold out to Mammon, that it has completely lost touch with the feelings and sentiments of the fellow citizens and is more concerned with foreigners, whose presence on their sacred soil is still to be explained if it was not being used for improper information gathering and anti-Indian activities. Chabad House has yet to be cleared for its real antecedents. Let Indian authorities be aware of the consequences of any moves in haste to become unintended victims of international terrorism by joining the fight with those that have their own agenda, not necessarily in the best interest of the people of India.

Anguish of Kashmiri people

By Ram Puniyani

Statement of Arundhati Roy (Nov 2010), that Kashmir is not a part of India, did raise more than storm in a tea cup. The BJP demanded that court case should be initiated against her, BJP affiliate Mahila Morcha vandalized her house in Delhi and BJP’s storm troopers, Bajarang Dal, threatened her in various ways. This statement came as a shock to many and talk of arresting her under the charge of sedition was in the air for some time.

One knows that Kashmir has become a raw nerve in the emotional make up of a large section of people for various reasons. There may be lot of differences with Roy on the solution of Kashmir problem, but two points need to be noted and conceded. Number one, Kashmir never merged with India as it only ‘acceded’ with the proviso of total autonomy except in the matters of defense, communication, currency and external affairs. And two that the statement of Roy and her other writings and speeches on the issue of Kashmir show the pain and anguish of Kashmiri people as a whole.

The attacks and criticism of Roy are based on the ignorance about the history of accession of Kashmir to India. The ultra nationalists groups, especially the ones who are followers of the ideology of Religion based nationalism, and a thinking of a section of people is guided by a sort of patriotism, blinded by emotion. This patriotism wants to put the problems of people under the carpet. How did Kashmir accede to India? One does remember that there were many princely states at the time of Independence. Most of these states were merged into India barring the ones of Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir. The mandate to princes was that they are free to merge with either India or Pakistan but while taking such a decision they should keep the feelings of there subjects and consider their geographical location. The princes of these three states had their own calculations in not merging in to India.

Junagadh Nawab wanted to merge with Pakistan. Nizam Hyderabad wanted to remain independent or at worse merge with Pakistan. Pakistan offered more powers to the princes. Geographically also merger of Junagadh and Hyderabad was a bit out of the place their borders were not contiguous with border of Pakistan, and the composition of population of the percentage of Hindu population in these states was overwhelming. India closed the chapter in these states by military means. Kashmir was uniquely located in an area which had proximity to Pakistan and India both, it had large communication with Pakistan and 80% of its population was Muslim, fitting well into the scheme of ‘Two nation theory’ of communalists. Maharaja Harisingh refused to merge with either country. Pakistani army disguised as tribal invaded Kashmir.

The difference in Kashmir was the presence of movement of National Conference which was very secular and its leader Sheikh Abdullah recognized the comparatively stronger presence of feudal sections in Pakistan ruling classes. Maharaja Harisingh when faced with the aggression left for Jammu for his safety and sent his emissary to Delhi to request India to send army to dispel the aggression from Pakistan soil. Indian Government wanted to have an agreement before sending the army.

It’s here that treaty of accession (not merger) was devised giving full autonomy to Kashmir except in the matters of defense, communication, currency and external affairs. By the time Indian army began its work, 1/3rd Kashmir was already occupied by the Pakistan army. Ceasefire followed and later Indian part of Kashmir went on to have elections, Sheikh Abdullah becoming its first Prime Minister (not Chief Minister). To understand the plight of Kashmiris, Pundits included, the issues one needs to focus are, as to how the US had designs to dominate this area through the proxy of Pakistan, were operating all through.

This was the major determining factor for things which happened in this region. Kashmir was Central to US anti Communist strategies- Russia on one side China on the other. US kept supporting Pakistan through and through to keep its presence in the area and to keep the issue on the boil. On this side of the border the communal elements were assertive and demanded for full merger of Kashmir into India. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of Bhartiya Jansangh, the previous avatar of BJP was very vociferous in demanding this total merger. Shiekh Abdullah’s trust in Indian republic’s secular values was shaken with the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Sheikh had great faith in the secularism of India, in Gandhi and Nehru. After Gandhi murder and the pressure built by communalists to forcibly merge Kashmir into India further disturbed Sheikh Abdullah. He started introspecting whether it was a mistake to accede to India. Nehru at this point of time was saying that what is important is to win over the hearts of Kashmiris, while ultra nationalists, pseudo nationalists, wanted to forcible merge Kashmir into India.

Sheikh Abdullah started talking to US ambassador and also with China on the other. Under pressure of Nehru got Sheikh Abdullah arrested and put him behind bars, starting the process of alienation of Kashmiri people at large. Later Pakistan backed by US played its own role in encouraging the dissident sections and by helping them in all the ways. The problem really got worse due to the entry of Al Qaeda in the decades of 1980s. With their warped training of distorted version of Jihad and Kafir, in the Madrassas set up by US, to train Al Qaeda, the situation got communalized. It worsened the situation by communalizing the issue and by playing politics in the name of Islam. Indian army did the rest. Starting from trying to curb militancy, it entrenched itself in to the civilian life of Kashmir. So many incidents of killings of innocents at the hands of army have taken place. Brutality of army is disguised as defense of Nation.

Army lives with the dictum that power flows through the barrel of the gun. This dictum is glaringly obvious when army stays there for long enough time in a civilian area. This army occupation acts as a trigger to further alienate the people of the region. Victims of army’s highhandedness are the innocents of the region, women and children suffering the worst ignominies. The process of violation of civic norms and disruption of civic life has led to a situation where the average helpless person vents his anger by throwing the stones.

Kashmir is a vexed issue defying easy solution due multiple interested parties. US backed Pakistan army, the intense pain and suffering of people of Kashmir at the hands of militants and army, both. There is a need to respect the expression of pain and anguish of Kashmiri people. Dialogue within and outside, reduction of army’s presence, deepening democracy and understanding the complex logic of the area is what could sooth the wounded psyche of Kashmir. The aggressive reaction of the type manifested by politics wearing the clothes of religion will add salt to the wounds and worsen the problem rather than contributing anything to its resolution. Layers of democracy, within the state need to be strived for and people’s voices of dissent need to be listened carefully rather than insulted and blindly opposed without understanding the logic of their statements and suffering of the people of Kashmir.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Commit The Crime And Be Rewarded: Ayodhya Dispute Verdict

By Ram Puniyani

Nation heaved a sigh of relief following the three judges delivering the verdict on Ayodhya case (30th Sptember 2010). There was no violence anywhere, something which was feared very much. The day passed off peacefully and the fear that violence will engulf parts of the country proved to be wrong, thanks to the maturity shown by large sections of population. As such the judgment was an exercise of sorts trying to do a balancing act, between all the parties involved, Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhada and Sunni wakf board. The title of the land has been divided into three each sharing one part. Also court has declared since Hindus believe the ‘birth place’ of Lord Ram to be below the place where the central dome of the mosque stood, that place should be allotted to Hindus. In response RSS chief in a jubilant mood proclaimed that now the path for a grand Ram temple has been opened at the site and all the parties should cooperate in this “national” work.

As Mulayam Singh Yadav has correctly put it, the Muslim community is feeling betrayed. First their mosque is entered into by miscreants who install the Ram Lalla idols there. Then in a well orchestrated assault RSS combine demolishes the Mosque and now the court operates on the RSS theory that Lord Ram was born at that spot. It seems if matters go the way they are going there is no need for scientific disciplines of History, Archeology and others as a section of political force can gradually build up the faith, act upon that and then the court will legitimize the criminal acts in the name of faith of a section of society. The law of the land will come to such a pass is beyond the imagination of those who wish to adhere to the values of freedom movement and the Constitution of India.

Just to recall RSS combine, more popularly known as Sangh Parivar, picked up the issue of Ram Temple in Ayodhya in the decade of 1980s and later orchestrated the faith of section of Hindus that Lord Ram was born precisely at the spot where the mosque is located. Interestingly the trend of Lord Ram being regarded as the core deity of Hindu religion came up in the medieval times, more particularly after Goswami Tulsi Das wrote the story of Lord Ram in the popular Awadhi language. Till that time Valmiki’s Sanskrit Ramayana was the major one prevalent in the society and being the language of elite, worship of Lord Ram was restricted to a section of Hindus. Tulsidas was pulled up by the Brahmins for his writing the story of Ram in Lok Bhasha, Avadhi, as Brahmins were supposed to be using Dev Bhasha; Sanskrit only. Tulsi Das was around thirty years old when it is claimed that the Ram Temple was demolished. The demolition claim is unlikely to be true as had such a demolition taken place Tulsidas must have mentioned this in his writings. As such the later interpretations of Ram have been so different for different people.

One understands that Kings had been ruling for the sake of power and wealth and victor kings many a times destroyed the defeated king’s holy place to humiliate the defeated king. The British introduced communal historiography aiming to pursue the policy of ‘divide and rule’ propagated that Muslim Kings destroyed Hindu temples to insult Hindu religion. This type of Historiography spread hatred amongst communities and became the foundation on which the communal violence started taking place in due course. As such Babri Mosque was a protected monument, under the custody of Government of India. Government failed to get the illegally installed Ram Lalla idols removed from the site and also failed to protect the mosque form the onslaught of RSS combines’ attack on the mosque in 1992. So de facto, with this judgment the RSS agenda of dividing the nation along communal lines is being legitimized by ignoring the fact of installation of idols and by turning a blind eye to the Babri demolition, coordinated by different wings of RSS combine. The crimes done by this stream have been richly rewarded by this verdict!

Now RSS and its progeny is taking the line that Muslims should hand over the land of their share to RSS front, to see that the aspirations of ‘Nation’ are fulfilled and a grand Ram Temple is built there. It is not only Hindus who constitute the nation. All the Hindus of the nation do not hold any such belief about the birth place of Lord Ram. All the Hindus do not want a Ram Temple there. As such majority of Hindus have kept aloof from this issue, many of them have looked with horror and disbelief the way the faith of people has been manipulated to catapult BJP to the seat of political power. Since the issue was highlighted and brought to the electoral arena; Hindu majority have never voted for the agenda of Ram temple. No doubt a section of Hindus has been won over to the Ram temple agenda; the majority of Hindus have not approved it as the results of elections show. The latest surveys also confirm that it is not an issue for most of the Hindus, but is an issue only for a handful of Hindus. Moreover the younger generation does not have anything to do with these types of identity related issues and that too imposed upon the nation through criminal means, the crime of installing Ram Lalla idols and the crime of demolishing the Babri Mosque.

Congress is calling for a negotiated settlement. What can be a negotiated settlement? One; it has to be based on justice, recognizing the due rights of each party involved and there has to a spirit of give and take. Do those calling for compromise will promise that the matters related to equity and security of Muslim community be granted? The Muslim community has been sliding down on the scales of social and economic indices. Will Sachar Committee- Rangnath Misra Committee reports be implemented in right earnest? Will RSS support such a ‘give’? Will Muslim community be able to live in security hereafter? India has 13.4% of Muslms in the population. In the communal violence, more than 80% of victims are Muslims! Will RSS withdraw the ‘Hate spreading books’ from its Shishu Mandirs? Will its Shakhas stop doing the ‘Hate Propaganda’ against the minorities?

For a moment one feels like supporting a compromise formula. Sure and that’s a good thing. One may be willing to talk of give and take, negotiation if the battered Muslim minority and also Christians are promised equal status as citizens, the baseless propaganda against them is held back, and the Congress takes it upon itself to fulfill the promise of Manmohan Singh that Muslim minorities have the first right to development resources as they have been left behind due to the social-economic discrimination and due to the politically motivated violence against them. Will all the guilty of communal violence be punished? Those behind Delhi anti Sikh massacre, Mumbai violence and Gujarat violence are roaming with their bloated chests; can they be brought to book before a negotiated settlement is talked about? In a way can we trust the state for abiding by the rule of law to protect its citizens before demands of sacrifice from them are articulated?

One can very well say that the very politics of Communalism is using Ram Temple issue to violate the Indian Constitution and the amity amongst the communities. One can appeal to the minority communities to make some sacrifices but one knows that they will get nothing in return. The way communalism has seeped into the very vitals of our society and polity it has created situations where minorities are being treated as ‘second class citizens’. The dominating ‘Religion based nationalism’, the politics of Hindutva with the agenda of Hindu Rashtra, will not let them live in peace and dignity. For RSS combine the matters of bread butter and shelter are secondary and imaginary constructs culled out from mythology form the base of their identity politics, the politics of Ram Temple, Ram Setu, Cow slaughter ban and what have you. We are in a catch 22 situation. The communalization of polity and society is so much that now faith, systematically constructed by a section of political stream is becoming the basis of law. As noted Film maker Anand Patwardhan pointed out on the day of Ayodhya verdict, it is ‘Victory of Hindu Sharia: A sad day for India’. One hopes the younger generation, and all those believing in the Indian constitution will try to move on from the identity politics, politics which abuses faith for short cuts to power and paves the way for a sane society concerned about the human justice, and affirmative action for weaker sections of society.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ayodhaya Verdict: Indian Voodoo Justice

India has long been known in the West as home of the snake charmers and rope tricksters. Now it will be more famous for one of its most modern and much admired modern institutions turning out Voodoo justice – an amalgam of law and faith impacting the judgments given out by the 3 judge bench of a High Court, all with their version of how Indian law should be interpreted. The Ayodhaya Verdict will go down in history as one of the finest example of an old tradition-steeped country trying to wear the garb of a new nation without realizing its slip is showing. In fact, the Emperor wears no clothes.

For one of contestant of the title suit of the Babri Masjid property, the Muslims, it is a mockery of justice as per the long traditions of legal and judiciary system introduced by Colonial British in India two hundred years back and now very much entrenched in its polity. The Hindutva version of justice takes Indian justice to another two thousand back, even prior to any sharia laws of Muslim era, and the verdict seems to be forerunner of how ‘Vedic’ ( term used for lack of any other suitable Hindu term: with apologies), in contrast to Islamic Sharia, laws may be changing the entire ethos of Indian polity.

While Pandit Nehru, a high-caste Kashmiri Brahmin, thanks to his exposure to Fabian culture that was in fashion when he studied in Great Britain, tried to position the newly independent India into a gradual slide into the modern world, by introducing ‘secularism’ as India’s constitutional creed, he was so overwhelmingly and suffocatingly surrounded by hard-line Brahmins, even in his own Congress Party, that it is a miracle that the fa├žade of secularism is still in vogue in India and the Hindutva hardliners too have eventually found shelter in secularism’s benign shadows.

The shameless display of triumphalism shown by Saffron Brahmins, while spewing high moral slogans of unity and integrity in Indian society, is ample example of how the fascists have completely taken over the entire country, lock, stock and court hammer. The only alternative for the rest of the people, who are decidedly non-Brahmins, is to size up the danger of Brahmin conspiracies and boycott all Brahmin political groupings, including Congress and BJP. Muslims should vote even for a ‘kala chor’ (black thief in local parlance) rather than vote for Congress. They can hardly ignore how the earliest comments by a Congress leader, Chaturvedi, (a Brahmin), on a TV channel, came out applauding the verdict as facilitating a new phase of unity and integration among communities; apparently on Brahmin terms.

150 million Indian Muslims (15% of Indian population) should realize that India is as much their country, as it is of 30 million (3% Indian population) Brahmins and if they want to regain their stakes in their own country, they will have to reorganize and play the game by the rules of the game that is now being promulgated by the Brahmins, till the time the Brahmins are sidelined. And decidedly that is not a tall order, as far as US is posing as friend of India.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai