Posts Tagged ‘Babri Masjid demolition’

FOR INDIAN MUSLIMS, MANMOHAN SINGH IS CERTAINLY A ‘WEAK’ PRIME MINISTER

April 14, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

 

 

FOR INDIAN MUSLIMS, MANMOHAN SINGH IS CERTAINLY A ‘WEAK’ PRIME MINISTER

 

 

While LK Advani’s branding of Manmohan Singh as ‘weak’ Prime Minister was cheap device to denigrate the office of Prime Ministership, now that BJP is in a very desperate position; Indian Muslims have already realised that technocrat Manmohan Singh had been merely exploited by Sonia Gandhi as a caretaker regent, till her dynastic plans to plant Rahul Gandhi most undemocratically, taking undue advantage of loop-holes in Indian laws and that Manmohan Singh’s oft repeated assurance to Muslim community that they should have first right to claim redressal as they have been marginalized in share government patronage, as has been so generously showered on other favourites.

 

It is possible that though he had spoken about Muslim’s first right on the nation’s budget, he was shot down by the Congress High Command that is riddled with communalized soft-Hindutva protagonists. Even in Congress, nobody is ready to accept that the decades long Congress government has let down the same Muslims, whose vote bank had loyally supported Congress all along.

 

The key-word is scare. Congress is scared of BJP’s Hindutva propaganda; while the BJP is scared that Muslim appeasement will bring back the Mughal rule.

 

In the event, Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister had no guts to counter the Hindutva communalism and fight an internal war in the same manner or with the same misguided but dogged conviction when struggling to finalize 123 nuclear agreement with US.

 

If he was weak, he would not have travelled such a long distance with the Congress, while forcing even a break in the UPA and the risk of losing his government. Apparently, that strength and that power of conviction were not availed by him, when he was advocating affirmative action for Indian Muslims.

 

He failed to tackle:

 

  1. Sachar Commission implementation for the upliftment of Indian Muslims

 

  1. Babri Masjid cases for early settlement of the dispute and due punishment to the culprits. (Is he waiting for a Muslim to take up the new ritual of throwing the shoe at him and then resorting to chakka jam all over the country?).

 

  1. His Congress government has not lifted a finger on Sri Krishna Commission report in Maharashtra. If he is a real Prime Minister, he should have the gust to do justice to his people, be that from either Sikh community or from any community, whosoever from any part of India.

 

  1. He has done nothing to initiate legislation against hate crimes, so that India can be rid of the curse of communalism and casteism. If he was so endeared of the USA, why not borrow a leaf from US legislation and crackdown heavily on Hate Crime and heavy recompense for the wronged.

 

  1. Gross injustice inherent in his economic policies that impoverish the very chunk of people that were already impoverished. His trickle down policies only heaped misery on the people. Rising unemployment is built-in and grass-root inflation choking people has no interest to him. He cannot fool dishing out statistics that show wholesale price indices and camouflage out inflation that has bloated the family burden for even survival level existence.

 

 

Just as he has rightly stated that L. K. Advani will be known ONLY for demolition of Babri Masjid, Manmohan Singh should be rest assured that he would ONLY be known for paving the way for US and Israel to take over India, in any of the various ways, a nation loses its sovereignty and integrity.

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘War On Terror’ – By Shoma Chaudhury – Tehelka Magazine, India

November 15, 2008

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main40.asp?filename=Ne221108coverstory.asp


From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 46, Dated Nov 22, 2008
CURRENT AFFAIRS  
cover story

‘War On Terror’

As religion becomes a fiery faultline, in an inspired move, a vast swathe of clerics seek to find the voice that reconciles rather than divides. SHOMA CHAUDHURY boards the peace train to test the mood. Photos by SHAILENDRA PANDEY

Cover Story
Mystic Men Clerics aboard the Sheikh-ul-Hind Express on the way to Hyderabad

MARSHAL EVERY stereo type of Muslims loudly proclaimed from public rallies, stereotypes drifting unquestioned in the wind, stereotypes snaking below joking asides even in liberal conversations. Muslims can’t be trusted. Muslims are pan-religionists. Muslims cheer for Pakistan. Muslims are bigots. Muslims have three wives. Muslims have too many children. Muslims are dirty. And the latest, all Muslims may not be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.

In post-Partition India, Muslims have increasingly receded from public view and dialogue as a community of thinking, flesh-and-blood, individual citizens. For the average non-Muslim, they are little more than a homogenous, vaguely threatening spectre. Swathes of skull cap and lungi smudged across ghetto towns of middle India. A community about which we have made up our minds and have no curiosity. The “These people…” of our parents’ conversations. The imaginative (and information) vacuum into which the communal Hindu Right has poured its poison.

These are the stereotypes that tremble beneath the humorous anxiety of one’s family. “What? You are going alone on a train with 2,000 Muslim clerics to Hyderabad? One woman amidst 2,000 Muslim men?”

On November 6, 2008, rising in a magnificent and hopeful gesture against the image that has come to imprison their community, 2,000 Muslim clerics set off on a train decorated with zebra-stripe flags and marigold strings from Deoband to Hyderabad. The Sheikh-Ul-Hind Express — a “peace train” carrying a promising message of national integration. Four thousand other clerics were to join them there from different corners of India – Gujarat, Assam, Manipur, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Bihar, Kerala and Maharashtra — to attend the 29th general body meeting of the Jamiat-Ulema-I-Hind at the Nizam College ground.

Cover Story
The brotherhood of man Jamiat-Ulema-I-Hind clerics at Hyderabad

The train — a metaphorical masterstroke — is only a prop in a journey that began in Deoband in February this year, when the Darul Uloom, an old and influential madrassa, ironically often touted in the wind as the intellectual fountainhead for militant Islamic groups across Asia, issued a fatwa against terrorism. This fatwa — something of a historic first — was endorsed publicly a few months later in May at a huge anti-terror rally of almost three lakh Muslims at the Ramlila Ground in Delhi. Then too, clerics from every state, representatives of Shia and Sunni sects, and Muslim organisations like the Jamiat-Ulema-I-Hind, Nadwatul Ulema Lucknow, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, and the Muslim Personal Law Board were present. Each organisation the face of a vast hinterland of influence.

The significances are hard to miss. Sixteen years earlier, LK Advani’s rath yatra had ripped the country with pungent speeches and a call to hate. His chariot gave the ugliest face to existing faultlines. It released a narrative of exclusion that has brought the country to the brink. Now, rising from its bruised aftermath, here were people readying to sow it back. At a time when one has grown weary of hearing political and religious leaders talk a reckless language of reprisal and atavistic hate, here were these clerics — by all accounts the most conservative face of Islam in India — reaching for the higher ground, the redemptive note.

Perhaps, a potent new counter-narrative is starting to roll.

It is three in the afternoon. The Sheikhul- Hind Express has just chugged into Nizam-ud-din station. Hundreds of clerics in white kurtas and caps are waiting to get in. There is an air of palpable excitement, almost elation. The frisson of a collective welded together by a higher purpose. It might dissipate later as the group disperses to the individual struggle and dilemmas of life, but for now, it is unmistakable. For all the hustle to get in, the atmosphere in the train is marked by an ordered — almost astonishing — civility. Two thousand men, but a marked absence of male aggression. None of the bogeys suffer the slightest indiscipline.

The Sheikh-ul-Hind Express offers other revelations. In a sense, travelling on it is a journey into the belly of one’s own unsuspected prejudices. It is a reminder of how little one knows, how little one ventures into other cultures, and how easily such a blank slate can be usurped and written on.

As the train pulls out of the station, Maulana Kalimullah Khan, the founder of Hira Public School in Faizabad, a genteel man in amehendi beard, is detailed by the organisers to facilitate conversation between the indifferent Hindi of the journalist and the eloquent Urdu of the clerics. He proves to be an untiring bridge, with a smiling gift for irony.

CONVERSATIONS SWIRL through the train. Sixty years of India’s chequered history compacted into a bogey. There is animated talk of terror blasts, the arrests of Muslim youth, “appeasement”, reservations, equal opportunity, the Sachar Committee Report, discrimination, Muslim mistakes, the Hindu Right, Babri Masjid demolition, SIMI, the comparative merits of Hindu and Islamic societies, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Pakistan, Kashmir and the Koran’s position on women.

Cover Story
Peace tonic Muslim clerics decorate the Sheikh-ul-Hind Express at Nizam-ud-din station

(When conversation on that subject gets particularly heated, I say exasperatedly to my interlocutor, “what can one say if the Koran is the voice of Khuda who is male, and all the codes are written from a male point of view. All I can say for Hindus is that at least we have devis as goddesses, so the road is a little more open.” The maulanas listening in burst into laughter.)

Many of the conversations are more sombre. Maulana Kalimullah Khan describes the hostility he faced getting CBSE recognition for his school. Maulana Mahmood Madani, Rajya Sabha member, secretary of the Jamiat-Ulema-I-Hind, and a key figure behind the anti-terror initiative, talks of his humiliating attempt to start an CBSE affiliated boarding school for Muslim children in Dehradun. Given sanction at first to buy land by then Chief Minister ND Tiwari, he was later stopped from making the school by the government. The reason? They suspected he was going to start a madrassa and this would compromise the security of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) there! “And they say we are being appeased by political parties,” he laughs ruefully. “This is what happened with me, a Rajya Sabha member. You can imagine what happens with ordinary Muslims. There were 150 other institutions in the 12 kilometres that separated my land from the IMA, but only we were suspect. I told the education minister I did not need his permission to start madrassas. I could start them in Aruna–chal Pradesh on the China border sitting right here! They make such a bogey out of madrassas, but they won’t let us start any other schools either. There has been a systematic programme to keep Muslims out of the mainstream. What people don’t understand is that if such a large percentage of the population is ghettoised and kept backward, it is not just harmful for Muslims, it is harmful for the entire country,” says he.

“The communal forces accuse us of being terrorists and anti-national,” says Mohammad Rafeeque Khan, secretary of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a fatherly man, with a vein of kindly laughter running below his voice, “but Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse of the RSS. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by Sikh bodyguards. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE. From the Supreme Court to district court — was there ever an injunction from the Bar Council that these perpetrators will not be defended? In fact, a lawyer as reputed as Ram Jethmalani fought the case for Indira Gandhi’s assassins. Yet now the Bar Council of Gorakhpur, Benaras, Faizabad and Lucknow have ordained that Muslims caught for the Sabarmati Express carnage or Sankat Mochan temple blast will not be defended. They are just suspects, their crime has not yet been proved. That’s one scenario. The other is that the VHP, BJP and RSS have said they will open their coffers to save Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. Why this discrimination? There are only two fair routes — either don’t give legal or financial assistance to anyone accused in this category of terror crime; or else give everybody due legal assistance and deem them worthy of reasonable doubt. For Rahul Raj’s death, Ram Vilas Paswan, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav — three men who never unite — came together to ask the Prime Minister for an investigation. But when there are other false encounters — and human rights groups and media outfits are themselves pointing in that direction — it becomes traitorous if Muslims ask for an investigation? How can these attitudes lead to progress? It can only lead to the country’s destruction. No matter how much we want the country to progress, until we unite hearts and realise that Hindus and Muslims feel the same pain, it will only slip into more anarchy.”

Other repudiations are made. Reeling out his ideological rants, in an interview to TEHELKA two weeks ago, Prakash Sharma, national convenor of the Bajrang Dal, had claimed that the Hindu Right fought Muslims because areas in which they were concentrated would lead to demands for new partitions. Maulana Rafeeque tackles this propaganda patiently: Uttarkhand. Chhattisgarh. Jharkhand. Greater Nagaland. Gorkhaland, Telengana. The LTTE’s demands. Assam’s ULFA demand. The Shiv Sena’s Marathi manoos campaign. Which of these separatist movements are led by Muslims? he asks quietly. For the space of one pulse beat that follows, the propaganda this embattled community has suffered comes home in its crushing enormity.

But through all of this, through all the vexed conversations, two things shine through. Gauged by some lenses, the genteel men on Sheikh-ul-Hind Express might seem suffocatingly conservative and unyielding on some issues: the inalienable correctness of Muslim Personal Law and a refusal to allow Muslim women to function out of purdah. But these are matters of culture to either be accepted or fought from within the community. There may also inevitably be an underlying sense of Islam’s superiority in terms of its sense of order, justice and decreed morality. But this is only a window into how a culture sees itself and what it holds dear. What shines through it all is an unveering loyalty to land and nation and a language of unequivocal respect, amiability and tolerance. Unlike the virulent rhetoric of the Hindu Right — the demonising of others, the insidious theory of “action and reaction” they use to justify their violence — the men on this peace train say no provocation, absolutely none, evokes a call for violent reprisal.

“Please do not mix these issues of justice or Muslim reservations or discrimination with our message against terror and plea for communal harmony,” Maulana Madani urges repeatedly on the plane back to Delhi from Hyderabad. “These are separate stories.”

“Even if our demands and needs are not met, we do not believe in spreading anarchy,” says Jamiat-Ulema-I-Hind president Maulana Qari Usman. “We fight for our rights and will continue to do so as legitimate citizens of this country, but only by the rule, only within the framework of the Indian Constitution.”

This is a voice of the Indian Muslim that the average non-Muslim Indian has started to forget completely. A voice that the national media does not seek out and politicians don’t woo. A voice that has been completely smothered in the war of “action and reaction”, competitive word and deed, between belligerent Muslim radical and parasitic Hindu Right. In fact, it is a voice of moderation and sanity that Indian public life has begun to forfeit altogether.

THE PHILOSOPHY of the Jamiat- Ulema-I-Hind has much to do with the fashioning of this voice. The driving force behind the fatwa against terror, the rallies and now the peace train, the Jamiat-Ulema-I-Hind is one of the leading Muslim organisations in India, mainly comprising of clerics and scholars from the Deoband alumni. With ten million primary members, who in turn run schools and madrassas in every corner of India, the Jamiat wields considerable influence. It is a part of the dangerous amnesias that have beset India that very few non-Muslim Indians would know that the Jamiat-Ulema-I-Hind, set up in 1919, sent out a powerful call to all Indian Muslims to join the freedom struggle against the British. When talk of Partition arose, it resisted the idea of Pakistan ferociously. It passed a resolution declaring that the demand for a homeland on the basis of religion was against the tenets of Islam: the Koran emphatically disallowed it. It put all its strength instead on backing the foundation of India as a secular democracy, committed to tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and those of other faiths.

Much of this ethos is on display at the Jamiat’s general assembly on November 9, 2008. Around one lakh Muslims sit in orderly rows at the Nizam College grounds in Hyderabad. Cleric after cleric takes the mike and exhorts the audience to unity and a righteous life. Swami Swaroop– anand, the Shankaracharya of Dwarka peeth, has sent a message. Among other things, he says, there can be no war between Hindus and Muslims because Hindu scriptures prophesied the coming of the Prophet 5,000 years ago and so He is perhaps more dear to Hindus than even Muslims. The crowd erupts in a joyous Allah ho Akbar! Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks of peace between communities. Every now and then plangent solo-voiced taranas soar up to the sky:“Hum Musalman Bharat ke wafadar hain…” (We Muslims are loyal to India). The mood is both reconciliatory and assertive. Towards the end, in an electric moment, the entire congregation rises up, lifts a finger of witness, and takes an oath of allegiance to fight against terrorism.

Inevitably, there are critics who will dismiss this as the new-found piousness of a community on the backfoot. Even if one supposed for a moment that this is true, one ought to remember that under siege, there are two responses possible: one can either reach for the higher ground or for reactive anger and anarchy. Clearly, a redemptive resolution has been made towards the former — stronger for having been born out of internal debate and dissent. For those who are seeking meek submission and an acceptance of second – class citizenship, the Sheikh-Ul-Hind Express might have some unpleasant surprises. This is not a capitulation of legitimate demands; it is an azaan for peace and civil dialogue. In a moment of crisis, we can turn ourselves either into something shining or sullied. This appears a hopeful call to the first.

———————————————————————


From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 46, Dated Nov 22, 2008
CURRENT AFFAIRS  
interview

‘Ask us, hear our explanations, present our views’

SHOMA CHAUDHURY speaks to four influential clerics about their fatwa against terrorism and the problems that vex the Muslim community

As the peace train from Deoband to Hyderabad pulls out of the station, an ordered serenity descends on the bogey. A cleric hums a tarana; others kneel at the appointed hour for namaaz. In between, there are avid conversations about religion, terror, communalism and the idea of India. Speaking to TEHELKA at different moments Maulana Qari Usman, Maulana Mahmood Madani, Maulana Rafeeque Qasmi and Maulana Shaukat Ali offer a mosaic of insights into the community

Our Views
Maulana Mahmood Madani Rajya Sabha member, general secretary, Jamiat-Ulema-I-Hind

What triggered the fatwa against terrorism earlier, and the peace train now? 
Maulana Mahmood Madani:
 There has been such intense stereotyping of Muslims by the West, and the communal forces and media in India, that it has affected not just non-Muslims but Muslims themselves. Jihad, jihad, jihad — the propaganda has slipped into people’s blood so much they have started thinking the Koran, the Prophet, and Islam are a source of terrorism, whose philosophy teaches nothing but to kill. Even ordinary Muslims have become confused — is this indeed jihad?

Our target audience, therefore, is both Muslims and India’s silent majority, who are still not 100 percent convinced that this community is what it is being made out to be. One way of fighting the propaganda was to keep highlighting the injustice and prejudice of the police and media. Many human rights groups, both Muslim and non- Muslim, are doing this. But the fact remains that terrorist incidents are also increasing and innocent lives are being lost. Don’t these victims and their families have rights too? This is why we have chosen the middle path. This peace train and the Hyderabad Resolution is just the beginning. We have to take this message to every city, district, village and mohalla.

Our biggest problem is that we have to fight on two fronts at the same time. On the one hand, we have to confront those non-Muslims who are not ready to listen or debate even reasonable issues related to Muslims. On the other, there are some Muslims who have either got misled, or are so fed up with the propaganda that they don’t want to speak out. They feel that to even oppose terrorism is to accept we are terrorists.

What impact do you think you will have on Muslim youth who are radicalised or just scared, angry and frustrated? Do your words as ulema have any meaning for them?
Maulana Rafeeque Qasmi: See, you are a follower of Hindu dharma. When this life is over, you don’t know where your soul will go. Whether you are a good man, thief, murderer or rapist, you have 84 lakh lives in which you can refashion yourself before you reach parlokh or swarglokh. In Islam, the idea is different. We tell our youth, if you harm an innocent you will have to answer to your Khuda when you die. So there is a big difference in the psychology. For a Muslim to do wilful wrong, he will have to think a million times because he is bound by his fear of Khuda in the afterlife. Hindu philosophy, of course, teaches one to be righteous, but a Hindu youth is not bound in the same way in sheer psychological terms. When Prophet Mohammad was driven out of Mecca and returned after eight years, he did not urge retaliation. I am not saying this has an invulnerable hold today, but it is a big religious deterrent. Narendra Modi sahib and Vajpayee sahib tout their action-reaction theory and excuse everything on the basis of that, but we tell our community, no matter what the provocation, the reaction has to be within the bounds of the Koran, Hadees and Indian Constitution. Your response to wrongs has to be to cleave to what is right. Yes, the Koran sanctions one to fight injustice, but killing innocents? Never. Under no circumstance. Religion is a strange thing, people can do anything to defend it but, by that logic, they will stop because their religion does not allow something. That is what makes our voice significant.

Our Views
Maulana Qari Usman President, Jamiat-Ulema- I-Hind

Maulana Qari Usman: Even if we don’t have immediate direct impact, we have made it clear to the community that anyone who commits an act of terrorism has stepped out of the boundary of the religion and community, and is no longer part of it. Having said that, I also want to say there have been many arrests but very little proof yet against Muslim youth accused of terror blasts. In fact, though the media reports every arrest, it often fails to report on all those who are acquitted, so this image of widespread guilt remains strongly in people’s minds.

Maulana Madani: There are definitely very grave wounds and a deep sense of victimisation. There is anger, desperation and utter hopelessness. We have to dispel all three, not just for the good of Muslims but the whole country. We need a holistic approach and the government, civil society and media have to jointly rectify this. How else can you confront this? You cannot turn such a big country into a police state. You need education, equal opportunity, employment and faith in non-discriminatory justice. We tell Muslims, particularly Muslim youth, you are stakeholders of this country, you are not here on sufferance. So yes, claim your rights with confidence, but remember that with rights come duties. The story of discrimination against Muslims in these 60 years is a long and bitter one. But we don’t want to open a complaint cell here, because our focus is on terrorism and communal harmony. We don’t want to mix those messages. They are separate stories. We are not saying give us justice or there will be terrorism; we are saying terrorism has no justification.

Is there talk of launching a new political party for Muslims?
Maulana Madani: Many among the ulema do feel the need for a new political party, but we opposed this now because we want to send an undiluted message of communal harmony and peace. Not just Muslims, every ordinary Indian is so fed up of politicians and political parties, we did not want people to feel this was yet another political drama in an election season. Secondly, while there may be need for a new political party, even if there were need for a specifically Muslim party, we will never agree to it. In fact, we will oppose it with all our strength. I believe, in this country, to do any work based only on Muslim identity is both against the interests of the nation and the interests of the community. It is a firm belief that whatever we do, we will do with like-minded non-Muslims, not alone. Muslims should not alienate themselves. We are stakeholders in this country, and there are enough non- Muslims who feel the same way about the country, so why shouldn’t we all come together to create a new political system? I am totally ready to back that in the future. Even in Hyderabad, when Barrister Owaiz talked of Muslim unity, I said, if you are talking about reading namaaz, then talk of Muslims only, but if you want to fight for any political or social issues, then let us make a common minimum programme with likeminded Indians.

Our Views
Maulana Shaukat Ali Treasurer, Jamiat-Ulema -I-Hind

Let me throw a laundry list of issues the Hindu Right uses to rouse emotions against Muslims: Bangladesh immigrants, Afzal Guru, allegiance to Pakistan, population, Partition, the Amarnath land transfer, reservations, SIMI’s belligerent rhetoric. To a lesser or greater degree, a lot of ordinary non-Muslims buy into the prejudices they create. 
Maulana Madani: (Laughs) Let’s see. As far as Bangladeshi immigrants go, no foreigners should be allowed to live illegally in this country.

Having said that, it should not be that you catch anyone wearing a lungi and beard and throw him out. There are fair processes. Set up a commission, summon people to show their documents, then deport them. As far as Afzal Guru goes, we believe anyone proved guilty should be punished according to the law of the land, but again, there are due processes and if this allows him a mercy petition, why should it be denied to him? Pakistan. (Laughs again) The Jamiat-ulema-i-Hind opposed Partition and the creation of Pakistan, not just on political grounds but on the ground of religion itself. It passed a resolution that demanding a homeland on the basis of religion was not allowed by Islam and went against the tenets of Islam and the Koran itself. As far as the Amarnath issue goes, the Jamiat had passed a resolution that Kashmir is an integral part of India, and we feel that while Muslim emotions should not be hurt in India, neither should Hindus’. We may not believe in idol worship, but we respect the faith of those who do. Transferring that land from the forest department to the Board did not hurt Muslim interests in any way. There was nothing to oppose. It was unnecessarily made into a political issue by all sides. As for population, it is madness to link this with religion. This is purely a social and economic issue. Conduct your own surveys, you will find that in a particular economic, social or educational bracket, Hindus and Muslims have the same number of children.

Our Views
Maulana Rafeeque Qasmi Secretary, Islamic Society, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind

Maulana Qasmi: You brought up SIMI. We have no argument with many issues they were raising but we urged them to approach this in a way that will not alienate others. We believe you have to win over people, not make divisions deeper. When they did not listen and their approach grew increasingly strident, we severed relations with them completely. Many of our concerns are similar, but they have had to face many hardships for their belligerence, and their issues have got lost in the mess.

Maulana Shaukat Ali:We are glad you are asking these questions that point to the poison that is spread across the country. Ask us, hear our explanations and present our views so that ordinary Indians understand we are not responsible for this growing divide.

It’s not our fault people don’t see each other as human beings but as Hindus and Muslims. Ask those who are engendering this — why are they bent on destroying Hindustan’s fabric? We still believe our blood is the same, so where has this poison come from? When people understand that, these questions about us will dry up.

In your understanding, why is the Hindu Right growing in strength? And what makes you keep faith with India?
Maulana Qasmi: It is not becoming stronger. In the past, when they were the Jan Sangh, they never adopted such extreme measures. No one could raise a finger against them. It is only when they formed the BJP and began to want power that they upped the ante. The person really responsible for setting our nation on this divisive, dangerous path is our Advaniji, his rath yatra and its particular mission to incite hatred and anger. That psychology has amplified and amplified till we are at this pass today, where army and dharma gurus have become part of a terror act and no one knows how to put a stop to it all. All this to secure Prime Ministership?

I don’t know how many souls have passed through India with this dream and ambition. But this country’s janta has not yet become so insane that anyone who pleases can become Prime Minister. In this country, when Ram was asked to leave, did he turn around and fight? No, he went peacefully into the jungle. That is why he is called Puroshattam Ram. Now, in his very name, in the name of this noble soul, this upright character, they are teaching people how to hate? No, this cannot last. Everything has a horizon, a natural limit, after which it recedes. Here, when politicians, media, even religious leaders have become corrupt, you can say things have reached their limit. Look at America. After two centuries of white hegemony, here comes Barack Obama. A historic moment, a time of change. Proof that everything has its limit — we just have to work towards it. India is 60 years old, our secular and democratic traditions run deep; they have taken root. They cannot be destroyed so easily.

 
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 46, Dated Nov 22, 2008
 
 

Two Letters and a Story in Hell – By Amaresh Misra

October 16, 2008

 Two Letters and a Story in Hell  

 

                                                                                   By Amaresh Misra

 

          I want to tell everyone a didactic story.

         

          We all knew that torture in Indian jails is a reality; but it has taken two letters to prove why people like Javed Anand, who argued against having any sympathy for innocent Muslims arrested for belonging allegedly to a dreaded organization like SIMI—an organization against which a proper Court tribunal dismissed the Government of India’s plea for a ban—are either sadists, safedposh criminals or simply lackeys of the anti-Muslim, communal forces in India.

          What do these letters say about Yogendra Yadav and his stand? Only he can answer for despite issuing statements against the official version in the Batala House encounter—whatever the reason—he has chosen not to take a powerful enough stand against the ongoing Muslim Persecution in India. What also to say about people like Siddharth Vardarajan who make a big issue about being leftists and sensitive about secularism—appear on International platforms needlessly—but who do not take stand against torture?

          On 23rd November 2007 bomb blasts ripped the Civil Court premises of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh (UP). UP as we all know, is a bastion of secularism as opposed to say, Gujarat. In fact there was no major riot in UP after the Babri Masjid demolition even though the act took place in a district of the State. There was no riot in Lucknow, Allahabad and Varanasi, major UP cities, even in 1947. People still swear by UP’s Ganga-Yamuni Tehzeeb. UP produced the maximum, joint Hindu-Muslim resistance against the British in 1857; it sacrificed millions of its Hindu and Muslim sons to safeguard India’s freedom, faith (Deen), identity, soul and culture. UP was the place which made the BJP lose in the 2004 elections as the party came down to 10 seats in the state, which sends the maximum 80 members to the Indian Parliament.   

          If Gujarat is the new face of a fascist, corporate, anti-democratic, pseudo-modern, murderous and anti-national `India’, UP is the face of a democratic, progressive, indigenously modern, traditional and patriotic India.

          Criminal/Intellectuals like Swapan Dasgupta hate UP and 1857 because it militates against their smelly, underdeveloped, toady `India Today’ type facile, vapid, yet aggressively anti-Muslim, anti-people `modernity’.  

          It is on the point of torture inflicted especially on Muslim youth that despite mutual disagreements, people like Javed Anand, Siddharth Vardarajan and Swapan Dasgupta ultimately share in a conspiracy of silence.

          Yes—back to the November 2007 bomb blasts in UP. As usual Muslim youths were picked up—Aftab Ansari, who was picked up from Kolkata in East India was declared the `master mind’. As is the usual case in today’s India, the `mastermind’ turned out to be an innocent man trapped in the communal machinations of Indian security forces. He was let off by the Court.  

          But there were two other boys who were also picked up by the Police—their names are Muhammad Hakim Tariq Qasmi and Muhammad Khalid Mujahid. Both these boys are still lodged in the Barabanki jail. But the Courts have dismissed the charge of sedition against them—as is bound to happen, they too will be let off as innocents caught wrongly by the Police as the latter do not seem to have any evidence against SIMI or their alleged adherents.

          But what happened to those boys while they are in Police custody, especially that of the Special Task Force (STF)? Both boys have written letters in Urdu to the Judge and the Jail Superintendent. I found these at a Hindi site calledMohalla, run by conscientious Indians, mostly young Hindus.

They are here before you in English, translated, quite badly I suppose by me:    

 

Letter Number 1  

 

To,

The Jail Superintendent and the Chief Judicial Magistrate, from the district jail,

 

I, Muhammad Khalid, am a resident of mohalla Madeeyahoon, district Jaunpur, UP. On 16-12-07, the STF people picked me up in front of a large crowd from a shop in Madeeyahoon; I was taken to an unknown place. There they tortured me; they beat me up in different ways. The hairs of my beard were uprooted from various places. Both my legs were literally torn apart—STF people stood on my face and forced me to lick their penis. Petrol was poured on my anus; it became commonplace to tie one end of a string to my penis, and the other to a stone and leaving me in a standing position. Burning cigarettes buds were stubbed on my penis several times. Despite me being a Muslim I was made to drink alcohol, eat pork and drink urine again and again. Ice was put all over me; I was made forcefully to drink water through my nose because of which I used to almost lose my consciousness. I was burnt several times because of electric shocks and battery charges. All this happened so that I accept that I am guilty.

 

 

Letter Number 2

 

To,

The Jail Superintendent and the Chief Judicial Magistrate, from the district jail,

 

I urge that I, Muhammad Tariq, son of Riaz Ahmed Sakeen, hail fromSammupur Rani Ki Sarai, Azamgarh. I was picked up on 10th December (2007) in front of my medicine shop in Azamgarh by the STF and for 10 days I was tortured mercilessly and a video was made, which showed planted false stories regarding my person. On 22nd December, the STF people took me to Barabanki and showed my arrest with RDX and other explosives. This, when I was in their custody for 10 days—I  had never possessed RDX or any other explosives. From 24th December to 2nd January, the STF put me in their office on remand. The second remand phase started from January 9th when I was under the charge of the Faizabad CO. They tortured me day and night to force me to say things they wanted to me to say; on the night of 17th January 2008, Rajesh Pandey, the CO City of Faizabad, and OP Pandey, the STFdaroga, forced me to hold a red color battery (on which the word Shakti was prominent and there was something which was constantly sticking to my hands). Then I was a forced to hold bottles of Dabur Kevda. Then I was blindfolded and taken to another room.  I do not know what other things they forced me to hold as I was blindfolded. This much I understood that there were bags and boxes. I am afraid that they tried taking my fingerprints through various means. I beg of you these people want to frame me; I am a peace loving, patriotic citizen of India. I have never committed any crime—neither am I of this nature.

 

 

What do you now say—masters of culture and intellectuals of India—people like Sagarika Ghose and Rajdeep Sardesai? What is your specific response to this—are you ready to put these letters on your channel? What about that secular liberal named Vinod Mehta? Is he ready to print these in that magazine called `Outlook’?

 

I know some people might think that Amaresh Misra should tread cautiously and that he will make enemies—I do not care. The people I have named—with the exception of Yogendra Yadav—if they come face to face with me—to yeh log to gayo. All of them are shit scared of the UP temper and the fact that they by not exposing the truth, by deliberately suppressing the truth as in Vinod Mehta’s case, have obstructed justice as defined by India’s constitution, and they are guilty as hell.  

Well, I have a more hair-raising story to tell regarding another torture and it exposes several other lovers of secularism…  

                      

 

 

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR: BJP SPEAKS WITH FORKED TONGUE

June 3, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

 

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

 

 

BJP SPEAKS WITH FORKED TONGUE

 

Sunday, it is Rajnath Singh with his call for old Hindutva baggage of discarded slogans of 370, common civil code, and the whole litany of their pet planks. Monday, it is L. K. Advani, with his more sugary, but equally transparent slogans of opening up to minorities and the suppressed castes. It is hard for the diehards to understand that they cannot fool all the people all the time.

 

There is no doubt that Sangh Parivar’s deep commitment to its outdated communal ideological formations have kept the party from disintegration. However, it is equally true that Indian people have shown it again and again that they by instinct and temperament are not as fundamentalists as the Brahminical hate-mongers would like them to be. BJP did win spectacular results through its well-tuned violence-led campaigns, of Babri and post Godhra Gujarat. However, it got them as many admirers as detractors around the country, if not more. Hindutva’s core appeal is restricted to a core group. It cannot be translated to become the national obsession that could get BJP its cherished majority to rule India, without any coalition partners. India has changed so dramatically over the last 2 decades at least, that no single party can win a majority until and unless it possibly organises a full scale war with one of its neighbours and reap an concocted patriotic vote across all differences of castes, religions, regions and group loyalties. BJP was poised for such a scenario when it allowed terrorists to move into Parliament premises and stage their attack. Vajpayee had full information of that intended attack and he had publicly announced the danger, at Sharad Pawar’s birthday bash at Mumbai’s Race Course grounds, a day earlier to the parliament attack. With such advance knowledge, it is easy to guess, why the terrorists were not stopped at the very gates. However, it would appear that even for waging a war against one’s enemy in these times, for whatever motive one can imagine, countries like India need the support of other powers, unless they are moving in on behalf of such powers. That goes to prove that violence, be that Babri, Gujarat, or full fledge wars, all are temporary devices to win electoral victories. Such nature of violence cannot be perpetrated as a permanent tool to create wave of mass indignation and win votes.

 

BJP will have to junk its communal baggage, cleanse its warped hate ideology, and win the hearts and minds of people by concentrating on bread and butter issues. All hate propaganda against Muslims should be openly condemned. BJP should concentrate on good governance, corruption free administration, equal opportunity to all, and positive upliftment of those suffering from benign or malign neglect, by the past governments of all hues and restore a sense of respect and dignity to all Indian citizens without any discrimination whatsoever. 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Advani’s book – a pack of lies

March 29, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

  Advani’s book – a pack of lies With the excerpts and reviews published as soon as Advani started one more yatra to peddle his book personally by taking the opportunity to impose on the hospitality of even his political rivals, a general idea could easily be made that Advani has made a Goebblean attempt to package a pack of lies and sell it as the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Those who have observed Advani under media glare for decades past, would not need any persuasion to believe how spin doctoring comes easy for all Sangh Parivar wordsmiths and in particular to L. K. Advani. One can always depend on him to come out with most original contortion of the most simple and obvious fact, as long as it serves his need of the hour. His account of Ayodhya and Modi’s Gujarat carnage is the first of the many manipulations to hoodwink the gullible. His role in sabotaging Musharraf-Vajpayee Agra talk, is so well-known to the people of India, who were glued to TV channels and were practically present in all the meetings, is another black deed that he keeps denying. His reasoning for shooting down the agreement between Musharraf and Vajpayee is an lame excuse, in as much as, it was in effect an ego problem with him, for the agreement to have been approved by Vajpayee, without his intervention. Insisting on Musharraf agreement on terrorist camps was like putting the cart before the horse. Advani was intelligent enough to know that could never be swallowed by Musharraf. His denial of any knowledge as to how Jaswant Singh went on a plane journey to deliver notorious terrorists from our jails to Kandahar in exchange for hijacked Indians is another bland lie. The then Defense Minister and Convener of NDA, has publicly contradicted Advani account, by asserting Advani was in the meetings when Kandahar was approved. J&K’s Farooq Abdullah has come out very strongly against Advani’s assertion that he backed down on autonomy resolution in the J&K Assembly. He says it is untruth — a polite way of saying — it is a lie. Following is a book review from Sardar Khushwant Singh, who happened to be one of the earliest gullible to hold Advani as a straight person. By the end of his review of Advani’s book, he ends it with a short but devastating verdict: Perish the thought ….. (If Advani should ever become the Prime Minister of India):   http://www.outlookindia.com/section_v5.asp?secname=Books 

REVIEW
Ghost Burial That Wasn’t to Be 
A must-read memoir it sure is. But if you are looking for answers, there are none.
Khushwant Singh
 
 

 

 

 



MY COUNTRY, MY LIFE
by L.K. Advani
Rupa
Rs 595; Pages 986
There is some justification for his publishers describing L.K. Advani’s memoirs as a “must-read”. Advani redrew the political and communal map of India. Whether it was for the good of the country will be a matter of debate for years to come. It’s a massive tome running up to nearly a thousand pages. I thought it best to read his views on matters which were of vital interest and so decided to consult the index and see

 

 

if it had something to say about me. I do not have an ego problem, just that for a brief period I played a role in promoting his career. Advani writes: “Khushwant Singh became a good acquaintance of mine after the Emergency. I admired his writing and substantial scholarship on many subjects. He in turn admired our party for its work in fighting the carnage in Delhi in 1984, in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. However, our relationship soured after the Ayodhya movement when he became quite critical of me.”

It is a fair assessment but something is missing. After the 1984 pogrom of the Sikhs when Advani stood for election to the Lok Sabha, I signed his nomination paper. The Sikhs were determined not to vote for the Congress because its leaders and cadres were involved in the killings and yet not sure of the BJP. They were undoubtedly influenced by the publicity given to my signing Advani’s papers. Advani won and came to thank me. I visited Advani’s home a few times. I was charmed by the congenial atmosphere. They watched Hindi films, welcomed anyone who dropped in. I felt comfortable. I also admired him. There was not a breath of scandal about money, nepotism or extra-marital affairs about him. He was a puritan: he neither drank, nor smoked nor womanised. He was clear-headed and modest. My disenchantment began after he launched his rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. I turned critical. At a public meeting at which I was presiding, he was the chief guest. He was then home minister and arrived with a retinue of Black Cat commandos. I said on his face, “Mr Advani, you sowed the dragon seeds of hatred in this country….” And much else. In his address, he said he would answer my charges at a more appropriate time. I hoped to find them in his autobiography; they are not there. I turned the pages to see what he had to say about Mahatma Gandhi who remains the national touchstone to test political and moral decisions. He tells us that the RSS held Gandhi in high esteem and he, in turn, praised its military discipline. When Gandhi heard that cadres of the RSS were also involved in communal riots and took on Muslim hoodlums in street battles which erupted periodically, he sent for the sarsanghchalak. The latter explained, “If we object to the conduct of some Muslims in our society, it is not because they follow Islam but rather because of their lack of loyalty to India. The partition of India has proven us right. Therefore to call the RSS anti-secular is to show one’s ignorance of what secularism stands for and what the RSS stands for.” Advani adds: “This was my first lesson in secularism. I was twenty-one then.” Gandhi did not pursue the matter further. He might well have asked: “If the RSS is secular, how many Muslims and Christians does it have on its rolls?” Advani was 14 years old when he enrolled himself as a worker of the RSS in Karachi. His views on secularism are naive beyond belief. He tries to equate Gandhi’s concept of Ram rajya in which all religions will be treated with equal respect—sarva dharma samabhava—with the RSS concept of Hindutva, “a noble concept,” according to him. The RSS was suspect in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. His assassin had been a member of the organisation. Advani tells us that on Gandhi’s murder the RSS was ordered to observe 13 days of mourning.

The gesture did not help: the RSS was declared illegal and many of its leaders put behind bars.

 The one event that pitchforked Advani to the centrestage and reshaped India’s politics was his yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya leading to the destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. He, more than anyone else, sensed that Islamophobia was deeply ingrained in the minds of millions of Hindus and it only needed a spark to set it ablaze. The choice of Somnath as a starting point and Ayodhya as the terminal were well-calculated. Mahmud Ghazni had destroyed the temple at Somnath; Ayodhya was believed to be the birthplace of Sri Ram (the year of his birth is unknown). It was bruited about that a temple to mark the birthsite had stood there till Babar destroyed it and built a mosque over the ruins. This is disputed by historians and the matter was being pursued in law courts. Advani ignored legal niceties and arrived with great fanfare at the site. Since he was determined to build a new Ram temple at the same spot, the fate of the mosque was sealed. What happened there on the fateful day was seen on TV by millions of people round the globe. In his book, Advani claims that breaking the mosque was not on his agenda and he actually sent Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati from the dais to plead with the breakers to desist. If that is so, why were the two seen embracing each other and rejoicing when the nefarious task was completed? We don’t have to wait for the verdict of the Liberhan Commission to tell us what happened: we saw it with our own eyes. The destroyers were Shiv Sainiks and members of the RSS and they boasted about what they had done. Advani records the jubilation that followed at the site and along his triumphal return to Delhi. Repercussions were felt over the world: Hindu and Sikh temples were targeted by irate Muslims from Bangladesh to UK. Relations between Hindus and Muslims have never been the same in India. There were communal confrontations in different parts of the country: the serial blasts in Mumbai, the attack on Sabarmati Express in Godhra and the massacre of innocent Muslims in Gujarat can all be traced back to the fall of the Babri Masjid. However, the BJP reaped a rich electoral harvest, won many of the elections that followed, and eventually installed Atal Behari Vajpayee as prime minister and L.K. Advani as his deputy. He is now their candidate for the top job and asserts that he will not allow Babri Masjid to be rebuilt. 

The one time Advani faltered in his steps was when he visited Karachi the last time and praised Jinnah’s speech to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, as “a classic exposition of a secular state”. It might well have been so but it was delivered at a time when millions of Hindus and Sikhs were being driven out of Pakistan with slaughter and an equal number of Muslims driven out of India. It was the bloodiest exchange of populations in which over a million died and over 10 million were uprooted. Advani’s eulogy must have pleased Pakistanis; it was badly received in India, particularly by his RSS and BJP colleagues. He was severely censured and asked to step down from the leadership of the party. It seemed as if his political career was at an end. He bounced back and within a year was again on the centrestage.

 What now stands between Advani and his ambition to become prime minister is the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh partnership. He is doing his worst trying to create a rift between them. He continues to harp on the issue of her Italian birth, her tardiness in taking Indian citizenship and being close to a fellow Italian, the scamster Octavio Quattrocchi. He has described Manmohan Singh as a nikamma (useless) prime minister because the seat of power is not 7, Race Course Road, where he lives but 10, Janpath, where Sonia and her family reside.So far his attempts to create a rift between the two have flopped. Sonia has proved an astute politician who has so far not made a single wrong move. Likewise, Manmohan Singh has played his role as a nominee prime minister with skill. He has many more plus points to his credit than any of his predecessors. The partnership has worked well with Sonia looking after political matters and Manmohan the administrative. The country has prospered. Advani has quite a lot to say about Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat. He exonerates him from the charge of allowing the massacre of innocent Muslims following the attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra. It is a symbiotic relationship: Modi helps Advani win elections from Gandhinagar in Gujarat; Advani stands by Modi whenever his conduct comes under question from the higher echelons of the BJP. The importance of Advani’s memoirs is not in their literary quality but in the possibility of the author becoming India’s man of destiny. Either we remain a secular state envisaged by Gandhi and Nehru or we succumb to Advani’s interpretation of it and become the Hindu Secular Socialist Republic of Bharatvarsha. Perish the thought.

 

 You be the judge. 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

<ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com>

<www.GhulamMuhammed.wordpress.com>

 


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