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


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ayodhya: Waiting for the Verdict

By Ram Puniyani

The Allahabad High Court is to give its verdict on the Ayodhya issue on 24th September 2010. The case has been in court for long years. The court is essentially going to touch upon three major issues. Whether there was a temple at the disputed site before 1538, whether the suit filed by the Babri Committee in 1961 is barred by limitation and whether Muslims perfected their title through adverse possession.

While the judgment is awaited there is a lot of tension in the air about the same. The whole issue has been deeply linked to the faith and has been used to whip up communal hysteria. As such Muslim minority has been the major victim of the violence due to communal issue which has used the emotive appeal around Lord Ram. Just to recall, the matter came to surface when some Hindutva forces forcibly entered the Babri mosque on the night of 22 December 1949 and installed the Ram Lalla idols in the mosque. Despite the repeated messages of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the local administration let the matter drag.

Incidentally, the local District Magistrate K.K. Nayyar who let the issue sow the seeds of discord in times to come joined Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the previous avatar of BJP, after his retirement. He became the Member of Parliament from the area. During the decade of 1980s, BJP took Babri issue as its main plank. The pressure of VHP and others on political scenario went up and the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in a thoughtless move got the locks of Masjid opened and Shilanyas for the temple was perfumed. Advani’s Rath Yatras stepped up the temperature; violence followed and prepared the ground for the final assault on the Mosque, the Kar Seva of 6th December 1992. This demolition was coordinated by BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal under the supervision of their father organization, RSS. The demolition of the mosque was followed by ghastly violence, in Mumbai, Surat and Bhopal in particular. This also led to the strengthening of BJP, whose number of MPs went on increasing and it could come to power at the center.

Despite its communal rhetoric BJP had to bite the dust during last two general elections, 2004 and 2009. BJP has been trying to experiment with different emotive issues through its sister organizations but no other issue has been as powerful as to bring it to center of political power again. And now with this forthcoming verdict in offing its sister organizations have stepped up the campaign to demand the building of Ram temple irrespective of the judgment. In anticipation of the judgment, there are various types of efforts which are on in the society. The local peace groups in Ayodhya, which have played a significant part in maintaining peace in the aftermath of the demolition, are trying to appeal that whatever be the court verdict it should be accepted by both the parties, and that will be a fair way for the social harmony.

The Government is trying to put forward a legalistic view and is appealing for calm in the society. Most of the Muslim groups have requested for maintaining law and order. They are also committing to accept the court verdict. The RSS affiliates on the other hand, claiming to represent ‘all’ the Hindus, are on a different trip. For them the court verdict is immaterial and irrespective of the court verdict they are asserting that Ram temple has to be built at the site as that is the ‘wish ‘ of Hindus. The RSS chief has repeatedly said that Ram Temple has not only to be built but also that Muslims themselves should accept the Ram Temple coming up there to prove that they are’ patriots!

In RSS camp, BJP at the moment seems to have taken a back seat as it feels that the verdict of last two elections has amply proved that people of India are not in favor such issues coming to political arena. But even if BJP is on the back foot, RSS has no problems as it has its other wings which are doing that job. VHP has launched a multi-pronged effort through meetings, leaflets, booklets and SMS campaigns, exhorting Hindus to call for Ram Temple at the site. Its message is laced in the emotive language aimed to rouse passions. It is also planning to bring in the ‘sadhus’ to restart the campaign and has called a ‘Dharam Sansad’ (Religious Parliament) to react to the court verdict, i.e. to ask for temple irrespective of the judgment.

In this context there is a section amongst thinkers who are calling for establishment of permanent ‘History and Truth Commission’ to investigate and authenticate historical claims of ‘rights and wrongs’. It just shows how much history has been ‘used’ for current political goals. It was British who had introduced ‘communal historiography’ to pursue the policy of ‘divide and rule’. While Muslim League and Hindu Mahsabha-RSS picked up the communal view of History, the National movement led by Gandhi took a different view, which was more in tune with uniting all the people. The likes of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar saw the history as the history of either class or caste oppression irrespective of the rule of the Kings of one or the other religion. At one level the formation of such a commission is welcome since so much muck has been left behind by the British policy, which continues to shape the ‘social common sense’ even today.

History cannot be looked at as just the history of rulers and that too seen through the prism of religion. Other components of society, workers, women, dalits and adivasis also must be given the Historical space, which is due to them. Today we are at a crucial juncture. The core issues of society, bread, shelter, employment and Human Rights need to be brought to the front stage and the Temple-Masque disputes can be left to the rational historians and the law of the land. All of us need to adopt this attitude and accept the process of law and the values of Indian Constitution.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hunger Proliferates In A Democracy; India Tops The Chart


By Devinder Sharma

This is a chart that should put every Indian into shame. Not only an Indian, but also those who swear in the name of democracy. How can people's representatives remain immune to the growing scourge of hunger? Shouldn't this provoke you to ask the basic: why should hunger exist in a democracy?

The illustration above [released ahead of the Sept 20-22 Summit of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] reflects the monumental failure of the global leadership to address the worst tragedy that a democracy can inflict. Amartya Sen had said that famine does not happen in a democracy, but let me add: hunger perpetuates in a democracy.

The hunger map above is also a reflection of the dishonesty shown by the international leadership to fight hunger. Hunger is the biggest scandal, a crime against humanity that goes unpunished. At the 1996 World Food Summit, political leaders had pledged to pull out half the world's hungry (at that time the figure was somewhere around 840 million) by the years 2015. This commitment was applauded by one and all, including the academicians, policy makers, development agencies and charities, and you name it.

This commitment alone demonstrated the political indifference to mankind's worst crime. Considering FAO's own projections of the number of people succumbing to hunger and malnutrition at around 24,000 a day, I had then said that by the year 2015, the 20 years time limit they had decided to work on, 172 million people would die of hunger. And when the world meets for the MDG Summit in a few days from now, almost 15 years since the WFS 1996, close to 128 million people have already died from hunger.

And you call this an urgency?

No one across the world stood up to call the bluff.

Hunger has instead grown. By 2010, the world should have removed at least 300 million people from the hunger list. It has however added another 85 million to raise the tally to 925 million. In my understanding, this too is a gross understatement. The horrendous face of hunger is being kept deliberately hidden by lowering the figures. In India, for instance, the map shows 238 million people living in hunger. This is certainly incorrect. A new government estimate points to 37.2 per cent of the population living in poverty, which means the hunger tally in India is officially at 450 million. Even this is an understatement. The poverty line is kept so stringent in India (at Rs 17 per person per day) that in the same amount you cannot even think of feeding a pet dog. I wonder how can the poor manage two-square meals a day under this classification.

Hunger is also growing in major democracies. In the US, it has broken a 14-year record, and one in every ten Americans lives in hunger. In Europe, 40 million people are hungry, almost equivalent to the population of Spain. Interestingly, most of the countries in the hunger chart are following democratic forms of governance. And yet, the only country which has made a sizable difference to global hunger is China, which as we all know is not a democracy.

Is it so difficult to remove hunger? The answer is No.

While there is no political will to fight hunger, the business of hunger is growing at a phenomenal rate. The economic growth paradigm that the world is increasingly following in principle aims at minimising hunger, poverty and inequality. But in reality acerbates hunger and inequality. Economists have programmed the mindset of generations in such a manner that everyone genuinely believes that the roadmap to remove hunger passes through GDP. The more the GDP the more will be the opportunities for the poor to move out of the poverty trap. Nothing could be further away from this faulty economic thinking. This is the biggest economic folly that a flawed education system has inflicted.

And it is primarily for this reason that after the 2008 economic meltdown, the international leadership pumped in more than $ 20 trillion to bail out the rich and crooked. On the other hand, removing hunger and poverty from the face of the Earth would cost the world only $ 1 trillion at the most, for which the resources are unavailable. But there is all the money in the world to fill the pockets of the rich, hoping that it would one day trickle down to the poor. Privatising the profits, and socialising the costs. Isn't this political and economic dishonesty?

Hungry stomach offers tremendous business opportunities. Rich economies are buttressed by speculation and free trade in food and agriculture. Opening up of the developing economies provides them opportunities to sell unwanted technologies/goods in the name of development. Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector sees the poor as a business opportunity to bail out the companies from sluggish growth. Micro-finance steps in to empty the pockets of the poor, again in the name of development. So much so that even Climate Change provides tremendous scope to milk the poor.

All this is happening in a democratic world.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Colors of terror: Saffron, green or Black?

By Ram Puniyani

Can terrorism be labelled or given the prefix of a holy color associated with religious sentiments? This debate came to the surface with P. Chidmbaram stating, "There has been a recent uncovered phenomenon of saffron terrorism that has been implicated in many bomb blasts in the past. My advice to you is that we must remain ever vigilant and continue to build, at both Central and state level, our capacities in counter-terrorism," to the top policemen (August 25, 2010).

There was a strong reaction to this from the Hindutva parties, parties working for the goal of Hindu Nation, BJP and Shiv Sena. The Congress spokespersons were also in a quandary, one of them supported the statement and the other one disowned it, saying that terrorism has just one color- black. BJP spokesperson demanded apology. Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray demanded resignation of Mr. Chidambaram, while his father, the supreme dictator of Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray, demanded to know the color of bloodshed in Kashmir and Delhi anti Sikh violence.

Chidambaram’s statement has a background of multiple acts of terror coming to light since the Malegaon blast of Sept 2008, when role of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Dayanand Pandey, and Swami Aseemanand came to surface. It was Hemant Karkare, Chief of Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad, who successfully unearthed the whole conspiracy by these saffron clad people. They had other associates in Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, retired Major Upadhayay and many others, who are working for the goal of Hindu Rashtra. This blast was preceded by many similar one’s in which associates of Abhinav Bharat, Sanatan Prabhat and Bajrang Dal were suspected.

Just to recall, when this conspiracy by all those inspired by the ideology of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ came to surface, there was a great discomfort in BJP-Shiv Sena RSS quarters. Shiv Sena mouth piece Samana stated ‘we spit on Karkare who is investigating this case’. On the other hand a major BJP leader stated that Karkare is anti national (Deshdrohi). Same Karkare was killed when the terror attack took place in Mumbai on 26/11, 2008. The real undercurrent of this complex story is yet to be unravelled and recognized fully, still the situation leading to the death of Karkare led the then minority affairs Minister A R Antulay to say that there might have been terrorism plus something, which led to the killing of Karkare, the man investigating these terror blasts.

It is after this event that the word Saffron Terror, Hindu terror came into being and got wide currency. This prefixing of religion and a holy color of a religion came in the backdrop of wide usage of another word Islamic terrorism, Jihadi terrorism, the words coined by American media and picked up world over. Surely these terminologies, Islamic terrorism and Hindu terrorism are misnomers. The word Jihadi Terrorism and Saffron terrorism have been used to describe a pattern in these acts of terror. Jihadi word was a deliberate concoction as Jihad does not mean killing, it stands for striving for betterment etc.

What about Saffron Terrorism, the term used by Chidambaram and many other scholars-activists-journalists? It can be explained in the context of this word, saffron, being high jacked by the believers of ‘Hindu Nation’, the believers of Hindutva, a political ideology using the identity of Hindu religion. One knows that to use the word Hindutva is fraught with dangers. It is a politics but gives the impression of being a religion. This word was coined by Savarkar, the ideologue of Hindu Mahasabha. As per him, it means whole of Hinduness, race (Aryan) geographical area between Sindhu to Seas and Culture (Vedic). This was a word parallel to political Islam, which was made the base of politics of Muslim League. Muslim League used a green flag, Hindu Mahsabha used saffron flag.

Later RSS from 1925 picked up the ideology of Hindutva to attain Hindu Rashtra. In contrast to Indian tricolor, RSS insisted on using saffron flag. Saffron color which stands for renunciation and devotion in Hindu tradition was usurped for political goals, the goals which were opposed to the goals of Indian National Movement. Indian National Movement was struggling for plural, secular democratic India, while the bearers of green flag, Muslim league wanted and Islamic Nation and those waving saffron flag wanted Hindu Nation, both these political currents were a throw back to times when the concept of democracy, human rights was absent and the status of dalits and women was subordinate to men of high social status.

During the decade of 1980, RSS, VHP and associates launched their campaign for Ram Temple and there was a blatant use of religious imagery and symbols for political goals. As such the political goals of RSS progeny, the agenda of Hindu nation harps to the values of Manu Smiriti in modern form. Surely this politics asserts the supremacy of social system prevalent in ancient times. No wonder, Ambedkar burnt the Manusmirti and later drafted the Indian Constitution to project the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

RSS and company used the symbols of saffron flag in its mobilization campaigns all through 1980s and 1990s. There was extensive use of saffron stickers for political propaganda for Ram Temple and Hindu Rashtra. RSS has a whole wing of assorted saffron clad sadhus, asserting that Hindu holy books have a primacy over Indian legal system; Indian Constitution. VHP, to which these sadhus belong is the other major RSS associate. VHP stated that decision of the holy, saffron clad sadhus is more important than that of Indian courts. In a nutshell, saffron color, the color associated with religious sentiments came to be abused by this political outfit for its political goals. No wonder its politics came to be associated with saffron color.

During NDA regime when BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi was communalizing the school text books and education system, it came to be labelled as saffronization of education. It is pity that a holy color of renunciation has been associated with a political ideology. The present statement by Chidambaram is just a continuation of the popular association of the word saffron with Hindutva-RSS politics in the political arena. In the present era of monopolar World, dictated by the ambitions of US greed for oil and plunder of the global resources, politics has been given the veneer of religion. That’s why they use the word ‘Clash of Civilizations’ for their political goals.

That’s why so far Islam and Muslims have been demonized. US and large section of globe, India in particular, are in the grip of Islamophobia. It is time we see the sanctity of religions and oppose the use of religious symbols, colors and terminologies for political goals.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Who pulled the trigger on Hemant Karkare?

Whose bullets killed the Maharashtra ATS chief and Inspector Vijay Salaskar, if they were not that of Kasab and Ismail? Was there some other sinister force out to eliminate Karkare and stop him at all costs? And how come Karkare's line of investigations has finally opened up the terrorist can of Hindutva outfits that triggered bomb blasts across the country?

Hardnews Bureau Delhi

ML Tahaliyani is one old-fashioned judge. Refusing to get swayed by endless rants on hysterical news channels to hang all the accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror atrocities, Tahaliyani not only confined himself to the evidence presented by the Mumbai Police during the trial of Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor of the attack, but also revived the unsolved mystery of the killings of Hemant Karkare - and, also, ACP Ashok Kamte.

So who killed the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief of Maharashtra, Hemant Karkare, on that bloody night of carnage unleashed by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai, November26, 2008?

Indeed, two others accused of complicity and for being local handlers behind the Mumbai attacks were acquitted by the judge for lack of evidence against them. The evidence against Faheem Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed seemed planted - especially the maps found on them did not look 'soiled' despite their alleged overuse.

The judge's queries and certain incomplete answers lead to a complex and uncanny zone of mysteries: Ballistic experts could not clarify the most crucial dimension of these killings: whose bullets killed Karkare and others?

There is absence of authentic information. Why could no reliable police explanation be provided on whether Ansari handed over a map to Sabahuddin in Nepal?

Why was the police unable to produce even one of their witnesses to depose against Faheem and Sabahuddin?

How did a hand-drawn map on a paper remain unsoiled and unstained even though it was recovered from the bloodstained pocket of dead terrorist Abu Ismail, where it was supposed to have been for four days?

The outcome of Tahaliyani's informed scepticism has revived all the conspiracy theories about the motive behind the ATS chief's killing. Karkare, who exposed the involvement of Hindu terror organisations in the Malegaon blasts in 2008, was threatened with death via anonymous phone calls if he did not relent in his tireless efforts to unearth the vast network of Hindu terror cells that were involved in similar incidents of blasts and killings all over the country. Intriguingly, he had got a call two days before he was killed. Karkare had to be stopped - at all costs.

Many of Karkare's leads have now been decisively corroborated from investigations undertaken by police in different states. So if there is merit in what Karkare and his team ferreted out during the Malegaon blast probe and if he was not killed by the terrorist's bullet - then it is possible to surmise (or speculate) that there were others who took advantage of the chaos of that neurotic terror-filled night to stalk him and stop him in his heels.

Hardnews understands that these are extremely serious allegations that could give a different spin to 26/11, but there have been a series of unfortunate events like the disappearance of his bullet-proof jacket and the initial reluctance of the police to give his autopsy report that further deepens this mystery. The autopsy report suggests that Karkare was shot from shoulder down by someone who was inside the vehicle. If it had not been for the perseverance of Karkare's wife, Kavita, and Kamte's wife, Vinita, who doggedly used every possible means to get to the bottom of the happenings on that night, far less would have been known. (Kamte was killed along with Karkare and Inspector Vijay Salaskar).

Home Minister P Chidambaram's detailed reply in Parliament in response to the doubts raised by the former minority affairs minister, AR Antulay, would need more investigations now. Antulay had raised a storm by asking for an inquiry into the killings of the ATS chief and other officers. He had said, "There must have been some reason why Karkare went to Cama Hospital instead of Taj and Oberoi hotels." Also, he had raised doubts over why three officers were travelling in the same car, which is against the norms.

Antulay was reported to have said that "someone" could have told Karkare and other officers with him to go to Cama Hospital, suggesting that the ATS chief fell victim to a 'set-up' as he was probing cases which involved fanatic Hindu terrorists in the Malegaon bomb blast case, with strong and powerful linkages.

The comments were showcased on television. It created an uproar in the Lok Sabha where BJP and Shiv Sena MPs were up in arms, castigating Antulay, who insisted that directions issued to the officer must be probed. BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that Pakistan could now quote Antulay to contest the account of the lone surviving Mumbai terrorist, Ajmal Kasab. "Having made such a preposterous statement, Antulay cannot be allowed to remain in government even for a day," he had said.

But the uncanny questions remained, even while there have been efforts to connect the dots between the various bomb blasts and Hindutva terror links. Indeed, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was recently on record alleging that the previous BJP-led state government in Jaipur had tried to go slow and fudge the investigations linking the Hindutva terror outfits. That some of those involved had old fraternal links with RSS has also been established.

There have been nagging questions in the public domain as to why Hemant Karkare chose to go to this particular spot. In which security force does the chief of the force rush to the spot of violence, along with other top cops, and that too in one vehicle, wearing an outdated helmet and bullet-proof jacket? And then gets shot, as if almost in close range.

As per the PIL filed in the case, according to specifications laid down for bullet-proof vests, the body should be covered from the neck till the waist. But the jacket worn by Karkare had only his chest covered while the neck portion was open. The post-mortem report stated that Karkare received a "total of five wounds on the shoulder blade, top region between neck and right shoulder, four entry wounds in one line." The post-mortem report further revealed that he received one bullet in the neck and the other four were in a line entering the shoulder and exiting from the armpit.

Curiously, there were reports about two bullets being found in his body during autopsy. What happened to those two bullets? Whatever happened to the bullets that passed through his body? Were they found in the vehicle, in his bullet-proof jacket, around his body, or somewhere else? Has the gun been identified, the gun(s) which killed Karkare and others? If not, why? If he was shot at close range, was the shot fired from inside the vehicle, and if so, who fired it and why?

While the entire media attention was directed at Judge Tahaliyani's judgement that declared Kasab guilty of the killings at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal (CST - old name Victoria Terminus, VT), it made light of the revelation made by the judge when he questioned the Mumbai Police about the ballistics experts having failed to prove whose bullets killed Hemant Karkare and Salaskar on that fateful night.

The implications of his questions are very serious. For reasons of reiteration, it can also be implied that the two police officers did not die from the bullets of either of the Pakistani terrorists, Kasab or Ismail, but from someone else's gun. Whose gun? Whose guns?

The reason why the media and the police has been reluctant to dwell on this aspect is because truth, unfortunately, has acquired a nationality, and any departure from the officially accepted narrative, it is asserted, would be anti-national and thereby dilute the gravitas of the government of India's chargesheet against Pakistan's involvement in the Mumbai terror attack.

Although there is little disagreement among sceptics about the quality of evidence against Kasab, the terrorists' journey from Karachi and the involvement of their handlers in unleashing such an organised and planned carnage in Mumbai, what is disputed are the circumstances in which Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar were killed. The allegation that they were driven to their death by an invisible hand that brought all of them together to Cama Hospital from different parts of Mumbai has not been adequately refuted.

Tahaliyani's monumental question further befuddles when it gets known that there was no one inside the police Qualis except the driver and Constable Jadhav. Perhaps there were some unknown people outside - who are not accounted for. Ashok Kamte's autopsy shows that he was killed by Ismail, the terrorist accompanying Kasab.

"As the bullets had passed through the bodies of both Karkare and Salaskar, the court cannot come to a conclusion on who shot them. However, it is proven that Ismail shot Kamte," the court was reported to have said.

Tahaliyani also criticised Constable Jadhav, the sole eyewitness and survivor of the killings of Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar, for changing his statement a few times. Although the testimony of the accused, in this case Ajmal Kasab, can never be taken seriously, but he called Jadhav a "liar" and claimed that his version of what happened at Cama Hospital, where all the three Mumbai Police officers were killed, was wrong. Interestingly, Kasab's cross-examination on the happenings around Cama Hospital and its periphery was conducted in camera.

Jadhav had also expressed outrage when defence lawyer Abbas Kazmi had asked him why he didn't use his carbine at the Pakistani terrorists when they were driving around in the Qualis. He had claimed that he was shot on his hands and could not lift his carbine. It was clear that Kazmi was making a loaded suggestion, but he did not follow up on his query.

The scepticism displayed by Tahaliyani towards Jadhav's version of events as well as the fact that the Pakistani terrorists did not shoot Karkare - if ballistics experts are to be believed - once again resurrects a question that has never been settled: Was Karkare's death an accident or was it an outcome of a conspiracy as many have been hinting, including the former minority affairs minister, AR Antulay.

This question gets revived, ironically, at a time when police in different states are giving credence to the path-breaking findings by Hemant Karkare where he was able to establish the presence of a radical Hindu outfit, Abhinav Bharat, as responsible for the blasts in Malegaon, and later on stitching it with a larger conspiracy of these extremists to use elements in the Indian army to organise a coup.

Karkare had then said in an interview to a weekly: "We are not looking at seers or saints in relation to the Malegaon blasts. We are not looking at people from a particular community when we question them. We are just detaining people on the basis of evidence... There are a lot of people going around claiming to be saints."

He had also said: "There are agencies that have been looking at the various links, namely the CBI, which has been looking at the Malegaon blasts of 2006. The link we found is that of Rakesh Dhawre. He is a Pune-based counterfeit arms dealer who was involved in the training that took place for the blasts of 2006. He is the common link between the 2006 blasts including the ones in Purna and Parbhani, and the 2008 Malegaon blasts. Investigating agencies are working on it... We look at individuals and not organisations when we carry out our investigations. We are not looking at Abhinav Bharat, we are looking at the individuals involved..."

On being asked if the army was cooperating on the involvement of ex-army officer Shrikant Purohit and his leave records, Karkare had clearly stated: "I would like to clear this. The army has given cooperation to the ATS right from day one on every aspect of the interrogation. There have been reports that the army has not been cooperating with the ATS and that's absolutely untrue. The army gave us his leave records and other documents, which we needed."

The ATS probe had revealed a vast network that seamlessly linked Hindu extremists with some indoctrinated members of the Indian army and some shady Jewish organisations abroad. All of them seemed to have been consumed by their hatred for Islam and their desire to coalesce a muscular Hindu Rashtra to take on Wahabi radicalism. Abhinav Bharat had also displayed impatience with some elements of the RSS and their status quoist minimalism.

In many ways, what Karkare and his team scooped out from the interrogation of extremists like Pragya Thakur, Dayanand Pande, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, and others, make for serious allegations that give a different spin to the bomb blasts that had been taking place in the country over the last few years. In fact, just a day before Karkare was killed, there were media reports whereby he sought permission from the defence ministry to follow up on some of the leads that he had collected during his investigations. He was apparently keen to check the extent of infiltration of this subversive ideology in the defence forces, but his efforts proved stillborn. These leads went cold after his death.

His successor, KP Raghuvanshi, who had reportedly intersected with Lt Col Purohit on some occasion, did not show similar enthusiasm in taking the case to its logical conclusion. In fact, during his tenure, the courts had worryingly refused to book the culprits under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

Karkare's investigation began after the Malegaon blast in September 2008, but they took the lid off what had been happening in the country since 2002 when the BJP-led NDA government was in power. Under his leadership, the Maharashtra ATS managed to establish links between elements within Hindutva terrorists, Sangh Parivar and the BJP governments that were in power in states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Initial investigations had quickly linked these incidents to Muslim terror organisations like SIMI and Hizbul. Even some Congress-ruled states like Andhra Pradesh were not immune to this prejudiced mindset to blame innocent Muslims who were arrested, tortured and hounded in places like Hyderabad. After the harrowing process of torture and jail, and public condemnation as terrorists, scores were released for lack of evidence. The tragedy and the scars have still not healed, and there has been no justice; even as the Batla House encounter in Delhi is widely perceived to be fake and the subsequent arrests unfair, the government's refusal to order a judicial enquiry only strengthens this public perception.

Significantly, some of these blasts took place in BJP-controlled states like Rajasthan, where the police ignored the leads, like what happened after the blast in Modasa in Gujarat. (In the 'Hindtuva republic of Gujarat', meanwhile, a fake encounter regime was being widely legitimised - witness the encounter killings of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausar Bi, eyewitness Tushar Prajapati, and even the dubious murders of Ishrat Jahan and others, apparently by top cops of Narendra Modi).

In the Ajmer Dargah, where the blast triggered by a cell phone took place in October 2007, the arrests were mostly of some Muslims. Two years later in 2009, Rajasthan ATS has arrested one Devendra Gupta from Bihariganj in Ajmer. These arrests became possible due to the change in regime in Jaipur and de-legitimisation of the line of investigation pursued by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the state intelligence that mindlessly arrested Muslims without bothering about evidence.

The ATS of Rajasthan, which was working in consonance with the IB, found that the SIM cards used for the blasts in Hyderabad, Ajmer and Malegaon were procured from the same source. The links are becoming irrefutable.

What is worrisome about the vast extent of this Hindu network is its agenda: to demonise and push for ethnic cleansing of the minorities (as in the Gujarat genocide of 2002), sow greater divide between the two communities, and provoke a war between India and Pakistan. This nefarious game was being played out before the 2004 elections and subsequently in 2008 - a year before the 2009 general elections. There is a body of circumstantial evidence to show that the activities and networks of these fanatics would have tangentially helped in building a climate of opinion in favour of Hindutva forces, which would help bring the BJP back to power.

The chargesheet put together by the Maharashtra ATS had also shown Abhinav Bharat's links with Jewish chauvinistic elements in Israel and how it was seeking endorsement for its actions from them. Unrelated to Abhinav Bharat's activities, Israeli covert outfits have been accused even by Americans for triggering off blasts in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These allegations found expression even in one of the big Israeli newspapers, Ha'aretz.

The purpose and intent of these blasts, as perfected by agent provocateurs in different theatres of violence, is to deepen the divide between communities, create a sense of anarchy and revenge, and provoke retaliation. Hindu terror groups since 2002 have also followed the same model.

The first attempt was made in Bhopal where an improvised explosive device was found that seemed to have been placed to target Muslims who were coming to attend a Tablighi Jamaat meeting. In 2003, there was a blast in the Mohammadiya Mosque in Parbhani in Maharashtra. Jalna and Purna, again in Maharashtra, were targeted in 2004 and, later, Nanded in 2006. Police found that Bajrang Dal activists were involved in that incident. In 2006, the Malegaon mosque was devastated by a blast that killed 38 people. The police quickly arrested many Muslims. However, the worst was yet to come.

On February 18, 68 people were killed and scores injured when two suitcase bombs exploded in the Indo-Pakistan Samjhauta Express. Among the dead were 42 Pakistani nationals. Expectedly, Indian investigators blamed Paksitani jehadi elements for trying to disrupt ties between the two countries. If it hadn't been for Karkare, this line of enquiry would have prevailed, even while one community in India would have suffered terrible injustices. Now, the Samjhauta Express blasts are also under the scanner, with Hindutva links being exposed.

Again, in May 2007, the bomb blast in the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad killed nine and injured more than 50 people. More than 200 Muslim youths were arrested and many of them tortured. Several of them, after torture and condemnation, had to be released later due to lack of evidence.

The all-India network of these Hindutva subversives can be gauged by the fact that in August 2007, two Bajrang Dal activists were killed in Kanpur while assembling bombs. There were more incidents in Hyderabad and Ajmer. Needless to say, Bajrang Dal-VHP-BJP-RSS are integral to one joint family - the Sangh Parivar - often operating in tandem, their jarring notes in symphony.

However, the blasts in Malegaon on September 29, 2008, changed the blinkered view of the investigative agencies and the police. After the Malegaon violence came a phase of increasing corroboration and endorsement of the presence of the Hindutva hand in these terror happenings. The Goa blasts in 2009 were again another manifestation of how different Hindu organisations were intrinsically linked with the same agenda, using almost the same methodology. They are like the hundred heads of Ravana that have a common heart and mind - and goal.

After Karkare's investigations, subsequently followed up by other state police, there has been a fall in the number of such incidents. During the last general elections, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar made an interesting observation: there has been no bomb blast after the hand of Hindu terror outfits has been exposed.

More recently, Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh and the Left parties asked the Union home ministry to bring in more energy into this concerted fight against Hindutva terrorism and its sinister and entrenched front organisations' networks. Singh wants a special cell to be created in the home ministry to monitor these cases.However, the truth is, all the pieces will fall in place once there is a sharp clarity about the killing of Karkare on that night of the dead when the terrorists went berserk. And that is the question Hardnews is asking: Who pulled the trigger on Hemant Karkare?

Courtesy: Hardnews:

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Together, they ran the Home Ministry. If Amit Shah is in the dock, Modi cannot remain unscathed

By Rana Ayyub-

SINCE THE sensational arrest of Gujarat junior Home Minister Amit Shah last week, the BJP has been crying hoarse about a Congress conspiracy; about the CBI being a “Congress bureau of investigation”; and of how the case against Shah is built on legally flimsy grounds. There are grains of truth in all of this. Shah’s arrest measures very high on India’s political Richter scale. It is not just that he is the first serving minister in the history of independent India to be arrested on charges as serious as murder, extortion, suppression of evidence and conspiracy, among other things. What makes his arrest even more explosive is the fact that a political hyphen joins him to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Not only did Shah hold an astonishing 10 ministries in the Modi dispensation, he was the Minister of State for Home, which was helmed by Modi himself. There is very little Shah could have been doing without Modi’s knowledge: there is very little mud one can throw on Shah which would not stick to his mentor.

So, yes, it would be difficult to deny the ambiguous roles the CBI has played recently in cases involving Quattrocchi, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav. The Congress certainly has a lot to gain from trumping Narendra Modi, and through him, the BJP. And it is true some aspects of the evidence against Shah would probably look thin in court. But unfortunately for the party, the scales weigh heavily in favour of Shah’s complicity and direct involvement in a vast spectrum of crimes. TEHELKA has been tracking the Sohrabuddin ‘encounter’ story since 2007 and was the first to publish the call records that proved to be Shah’s undoing (Gujarat Home Minister called cops arrested for killing Tulsi Prajapati, 3 July). Now, it has fresh information that proves Shah will find it extremely difficult to subvert the wheels of justice that have begun to grind around him.

“There is no doubt this arrest is a big challenge, but we will fight it legally. How can you call this evidence?” says a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity. “What value do the stings have? Will they stand in court?”

To counter these questions, the story so far in a nutshell. Sohrabuddin, an extortionist, was killed by Gujarat police on 26 November 2005. His wife Kauser Bi was raped, sedated with chemicals and burnt. Sohrabuddin was declared an LeT terrorist on a mission to kill Modi, the ‘encounter’ touted as a badge of Gujarati pride. A year after the first ‘encounters’, in December 2006, Tulsi Prajapati, the only eyewitness and a Sohrabuddin accomplice, was also shot dead.

Soon after the murders, the cover-ups began. The case was handed over to the CID, which functions directly under the Home Ministry — Shah and Modi — and was batted to several police officers, who either diluted the evidence under political pressure or were transferred if they failed to comply. And so the case straggled on. Finally, dismayed by the obfuscations, Sohrabbudin’s brother Rubabuddin petitioned the Supreme Court, which handed the case over to the CBI in January 2010, with a directive to uncover the “possibility of a larger conspiracy”.

Since then, the skeletons have been tumbling out. On 29 April, the CBI arrested Ajay Chudasama, DCP (Crime) and Joint Commissioner of Police, who has 197 complaints of extortion and harassment against him. Chudasama features in another TEHELKA story, in which a Muslim boy who admits to being part of a terror conspiracy speaks of the officer forcing him to implicate innocents (8 August 2009). Alarmed by Chudasama’s arrest, the state CID arrested several other officers to prevent the CBI from taking them into custody. But the truth had begun to spill.

So no matter how much the BJP tries to blunt the issue, Shah and Modi face a minefield of evidence and uncomfortable questions. And there are many new developments they need to fear. First of all, there is a battery of disgruntled and complicit police officers now willing to turn approver or prosecution witness. IGP Geeta Johri is one of them. Handed the case twice, she is an example of the complex ways in which Modi and Shah seem to have weighed in on officers handling the case. Johri was forced to go along when ex-CID chief OP Mathur allegedly tampered with Shah’s call records. She filed a secret note to the Supreme Court complaining of “political pressure.”

Despite this, Johri changed course and was later chastised by the Supreme Court for “not conducting the investigation in a fair manner”. Now the CBI is set to make her a witness when she returns from London on August 8. Johri should have much to reveal. For instance, when she and fellow officer VL Solanki asked GC Raigar, ADGP CID, for permission to interrogate Tulsi Prajapati, they were fobbed off till Prajapati was shot a week later.

Another officer thwarted in the line of duty was DGP CID Rajnish Rai, who arrested killer cops DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandyan and Dinesh MN in 2007. When he sought to put them through narco analysis, he was swiftly sidelined. He is now on study leave.

Damagingly, a CID note to the CBI talks of “uncalled for restrictions on the movement of officers” and of how “progress in the investigations was communicated to the accused persons allowing them the opportunity to influence witnesses”. It also speaks of how Rai’s arrests were frowned upon by the “political dispensation”. As a “consequence”, it says, the government issued an order dated 27 March 2007 stating that Raigar would henceforth oversee the case.