Archive for April, 2009

Fighting corruption: Is BJP serious? By Rajinder Puri – The Free Press Journal

April 30, 2009

Rajinder Puri, a very senior journalist has exposed in the following article published by The Free Press Journal, Mumbai, a very sensitive and very far reaching arrangement of some nature between a Foreign institution and Nehru-Gandhi Parivar that is ruling Indian National Congress. 


On the face of it, if the facts are proved, this arrangement is a direct threat to India’s security, integrity and dignity as a nation, which elects its leaders democratically and permits them to rule the nation by taking oath to abide by its constitution.

It is strange that Mr. Puri has called on BJP to fight this very serious charge of corruption. 

Are there no other independent public institutions that can redeem the nations’ shame, if the charges are proved. 

Is there nobody else that can grasp the gravity of the charges and move appropriate authorities, including judiciary, to set the matter right, punish the guilty in an exemplary manner, so that no such scale of corruption may raise its head in future. That will be greatest service to the nation, which is being buffeted by foreign powers from all sides, that are bent to reduce it to a slave state through planting proxies to rule over them.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

http://www.freepressjournal.in/FPJ/FPJ/2009/04/30/ArticleHtmls/30_04_2009_005_008.shtml?Mode=1

Muslim vote splits as new issues gain focus – Ruhi Tewari – Livemint.com + Comments from Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

April 29, 2009

 

http://www.livemint.com/2009/04/29003950/Muslim-vote-splits-as-new-issu.html

  • Posted: Wed, Apr 29 2009. 1:16 AM IST


    Muslim vote splits as new issues gain focus

    The political adage is based on simple logic: The community tends to vote en masse for a particular party

    Ruhi Tewari



    Lucknow: In Lucknow, the capital of India’s most populous state, there’s a saying among politicians that winning the Muslim vote means clinching the election.

    The political adage is based on simple logic: The community tends to vote en masse for a particular party.
    Different directions: Lalji Tandon, the BJP candidate from Lucknow. Madhu Kapparath / Mint

    Different directions: Lalji Tandon, the BJP candidate from Lucknow. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
    The relevance of that saying is being tested in the 15th Lok Sabha election, not just in Lucknow—which votes on 30 April—or Uttar Pradesh, but across several states where a trend is emerging of the Muslim vote being split among parties and individuals of varied hue.
    Political ideology or religious affiliations aren’t paramount any more. Muslims—whether in elite Mumbai South or Bhagalpur in Bihar (as reported in Mint on 27 April and 25 April)—are being drawn increasingly towards candidates speaking about bread-and-butter issues, education, economic reform and development.

    That’s a departure from the past when the country’s largest religious minority, making up 13.4% of India’s 1.02 billion population according to the 2001 Census, voted along political lines, usually as a block.

    Fresh winds

    It will not be the first time that the Muslim vote has shifted. Immediately after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, which provided reservations for the so-called other backward classes (OBCs) in government jobs, in 1989 by the then government headed by V.P. Singh, OBCs emerged as a powerful political entity, deserting the Congress.

    It forged an alliance with Muslims under the so-called MY (Muslim Yadav) alliance in Central India that became the mainstay of support for Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, or SP, in Uttar Pradesh and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, or RJD, in Bihar. This combination had endured so far. What it also did was set back the Congress, which till then had projected itself as a party that could accomodate the interests of diverse communities under a secular ideology.

    Muslims have continued to back the Congress in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, where parties such as the SP and the RJD do not have a critical mass, mostly shunning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known for its Hindu nationalist leanings.
    However, there are indications that things may be about to change. Part of the reason is that the electoral hold of the SP and the RJD has weakened due to the emergence of rival political forces such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and anti-incumbency sentiment after prolonged years of rule in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
    Further, the decision of the Congress to go it alone rather than in a pre-poll alliance with either the SP or the RJD has transformed straight contests into quadrangular fights in the key states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

    “True, Muslims are voting for development, regional parties, regional issues and so on… Both the SP and BSP have lost ground with the Muslims; the BSP because of their hobnobbing with the BJP and lack of interest in development in the Muslim-dominated regions,” says Zafarul-Islam Khan, editor of Milli Gazette, a Delhi-based English daily.
    “SP’s support base has been reducing because of its support to the nuclear deal (the India-US civilian nuclear agreement) and its ties with Kalyan Singh (former BJP leader and chief minister of Uttar Pradesh),” Khan adds.

    In Bihar this time, the work done by the Janata Dal (United)-led government of chief minister Nitish Kumar in building roads and boosting health care and education means the RJD can’t take the Muslim vote for granted in a state it ruled for 15 years until 2005. The Janata Dal (United) is a key ally of the BJP.

    Nazneen, a shop owner in the Machli Mahaul neighbourhood. Madhu Kapparath / Mint

    Nazneen, a shop owner in the Machli Mahaul neighbourhood. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
    In Rajasthan, especially in Jaisalmer and adjoining districts that have a huge Muslim population, Muslim voters say they will vote on the basis of a candidate’s performance or a party’s record on development.
    In Madhya Pradesh, especially in state capital Bhopal and in Gwalior, Muslims praise the BJP-led government of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan for focusing on reform and not on Hindutva, or the Hindu way.

    The Uttar Pradesh story
    “Electricity, water and roads,” says Nazma, a resident of Lucknow’s Lal Colony, listing what she and her family expect of their candidate.
    Nazma, who is in her early 30s and identifies herself by only one name, says she has made up her mind to vote for the BJP candidate for the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat, the veteran Lalji Tandon, who is pushing a development agenda. “Everybody in my locality is voting for him,” she says.

    In the 2004 election, BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee won the Lucknow seat defeating his nearest rival from the SP by a margin of 37.74% of the total votes polled.

    Lucknow will see a quadrangular contest, with Tandon facing contenders from the Congress, the SP and chief minister Mayawati’s BSP. Tandon concedes that a large part of the Muslim vote will go to his SP rival in Lucknow.

    In Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 representatives to the Lok Sabha, both the SP and the Congress have had strong Muslim vote banks. This time, the BSP is also counting on Muslim support.

    “The vote is divided between the BSP, the SP and the Congress,” says Gulzar Maulana, a cleric at Lucknow’s Jama Masjid. “There is some, though very little, support for the BJP candidate too, but it is largely based on people’s personal relations with him.”
    The division among the Muslims is evident from a tour of Lucknow’s neighbourhoods.

    While the city’s Aminabad area, which is largely Muslim-populated, has the BSP’s flags fluttering from every other shop in its major market, in the neighbouring Nazirabad area, most shops have both the BSP’s and the SP’s flags.

    In the Machli Mahaul neighbourhood, another Muslim-dominated area, there’s a groundswell of support for the the SP. Social activist and Bollywood actor Nafisa Ali is the SP candidate in Lucknow, where movie star Sanjay Dutt is campaigning for the party.

    The Congress failed to enter into a pre-poll arrangement with the SP, its partner in the United Progressive Alliance coalition at the Centre. Some Congress leaders say it was a mistake not to have aligned with the SP in the state.

    “It definitely would have been easier for us had the seat-sharing arrangement with the SP worked, since it would have helped in the consolidation of the minority and secular vote, which is now split,” said Bahuguna Joshi. “However, the minority community votes strategically, deciding just a couple of days before polling day.”
    Afsar Jahan, a resident of Machli Mahaul, perhaps best sums up the division of Muslim voters. “I will vote for the BSP, my husband will vote for the SP and we will make some other family member vote for the Congress,” she said.

    Liz Mathew from Bhopal, Utpal Bhaskar from Bhagalpur, Sangeeta Singh from Jaisalmer and Priyanka Pathak from Mumbai contributed to this story.

    ————————————————

    Comments Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai:

    India’s English Language media by default or design completely ignores/papers over/blanks out political moves made by Muslim community itself in this unusual election scenario. There are any number of political ‘outfits’, either ‘seasonal’ or new with greater vigor and better funding, that are coming out in very forceful determination to win, across the board, an inclusive voter participation with Muslim leadership. Besides, more than in the past and more than Congress, other secular political parties are not averse to give tickets to Muslim aspirants. Apparently, this new development has to be suppressed by the communalised and/or commercialised media, till, of course, it hits the very face of the electoral map of India. The above report in Wall Street Journal partner newspaper, MINT, follows the same line as the other English daily, The Times of India, that in today’s print addition has completely blacked out Muslim candidates, while reporting on Mumbai city constituencies. 

    ” Since 1947, it (Functional Industrial Estate) hasn’t hired Muslims.” THIS IS INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS’S SECULARISM.

    April 28, 2009

    http://www.livemint.com/2009/04/28005103/Constituency-with-a-dubious-di.html

    ” Since 1947, it (Functional Industrial Estate) hasn’t hired Muslims.” THIS IS INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS’S SECULARISM.

    • Posted: Tue, Apr 28 2009. 12:51 AM IST

    Constituency with a dubious distinction


    The so-called Functional Industrial Estate in Munger hides an ugly truth: Since 1947, it hasn’t hired Muslims

    Utpal Bhaskar



    Munger, Bihar: Gunsmiths at the only licensed arms manufacturing facility in Munger town, 130km away from Bihar’s capital Patna, are known around the country for their extraordinary workmanship. But the so-called Functional Industrial Estate here hides an ugly truth: Since 1947, it hasn’t hired Muslims.

    This is strange because Muslims were in the business of making arms here for at least five centuries before independence. The reasons for this discrimination are not clear, nor is the discrimination explicit, but it exists.

    Burgeoning trade: Country-made pistols seized by Munger police during raids on illegal gun factories. Utpal Bhaskar / Mint

    Burgeoning trade: Country-made pistols seized by Munger police during raids on illegal gun factories. Utpal Bhaskar / Mint
    “It is a Hindu factory. Nothing is on record…it is understood,” said T.P. Sharma, managing director, Green and Co., one of the 37 units operating in the estate’s premises, which makes bridge-loading guns, including single-barrel and double-barrel ones.

    The Munger factory is really a collection of units, among the 100-odd arms factories created after independence by bringing together arms-making units. Similar factories exist in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Assam.

    Back then, the owners of individual units were issued licences allowing them to make arms within these estates. The last time such non-transferable licences were issued was in 1957, and the units cannot manufacture more than their allotted quota. The result: those with valid arms licences invariably have to wait a long time to buy a gun. Then, there’s the hassle of getting a gun licence.

    These factors, clubbed with the availability of trained manpower here, could explain why Munger has become a hub for illegal arms manufacture.

    Also Read Elections 2009 (Full Coverage)

    Sure enough, the Munger arms factory has seen a decline in demand for licensed arms and it has seen significant attrition in its gunsmith population—some of these gunsmiths, people here say, have joined illegal arms-making units that supply arms to criminals and insurgents.

    Elections mean boom-time for the makers of illegal arms. These illegal gun factories supply guns to such groups in states such as West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, said a senior police officer in the district, who didn’t want to be identified. The Maoists have a growing presence in Munger. The town is part of the Munger Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to polls on 30 April. And according to the district administration, around 10% of the 535 polling stations in the constituency face the threat of disruption by Maoists.

    In the Munger Lok Sabha seat, the state president of the Janata Dal (United) that governs Bihar, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, is pitted against Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Ram Badan Rai. Of the 1.5 million voters in the constituency, Dalits, with 300,000, form a major chunk of the electorate. They are followed by Kurmis and Dhanus, both so-called other backward classes, or OBCs, which together have 210,000 voters. The Bhumihars and Vaishyas, essentially traders, have 200,000 votes each; the Yadavs, a dominant community in many parts of the state, account for 180,000 voters; Muslims, 125,000 voters; and Rajputs, 130,000.

    These numbers are important because victory in the election here is “purely dependent upon who manages these caste equations well”, said a top district administration official who didn’t want to be identified.

    The district administration is aware that elections here and elsewhere in the country mean big business for the makers of illegal guns. Since November last year, when five key states went to the polls, the police here have raided several illegal arms factories and arrested 1,915 people, the police officer quoted in the first instance said.

    The gunsmiths of Munger


    “Munger traditionally has (had) very good gunsmiths. India has around four major places for illegal gun manufacturing, including Kanpur. But Munger is at the top for the quality of its arms… They can manufacture a duplicate Webley and Scott revolver and even a seasoned eye would not be able to spot the difference, be it in the handling of the weapon or its finish,” said the district administration official.

    The town is also close to Jamalpur, an old railway town which, with its numerous workshops, provides a rich supply of raw materials required for making guns, such as high tensile steel.

    At the Munger arms factory, the number of gunsmiths has fallen from around 600 four years ago to 300. But Sharma of Green and Co. rules out the involvement of any former employee of the licensed gun factory in the illegal arms manufacturing trade.

    Interestingly, with Muslims being kept away from the estate, most illegal arms-making units are located in areas thickly populated by the minority community, such as Hazratganj, which is 2km from Munger, the police officer said.

    “Sixty percent of the illegal factories raided were in areas (where Muslims are a majority). (But) it might be a coincidence. I think it is more because of demography, as there is a lot of Muslim population in Munger.”

    The guns produced by these factories are popular and cheap. Countrymade small arms cost around Rs400 each in the district. Good automatic small arms cost upwards of Rs1 lakh each, though a gun of the same quality can be provided by these basement factories at prices as low as Rs20,000 .

    “Even the Maoists are their clients. These kattas (country-made small arms), the cheapest in the country, can fire two or three kinds of bullets bearing different bores. Interestingly, unlike kattas manufactured in other parts of the country, the barrels do not burst despite repeated use,” the police officer added.

    The rise in illegal trade has come even as demand from licensed gun factories such as the one at Munger has fallen. “Business has dried up as no gun licences are issued these days. Business has gone. We register a 10% loss on an annual basis. In our better days, the estate registered a turnover of Rs2 crore per annum and firms used to make a 20% profit,” said Manmohan Prasad Sharma, secretary of the Gun Manufacturers Association, which represents firms operating in the Munger facility.

    A gun requires around 70 components and 22 workers to make it. The entire process from the placement of an order to the delivery of a licensed weapon takes around six months as the barrels are sent to the Indian Ordnance Factory (IOF) at Ichapore in West Bengal for testing. The assembling begins only after the barrels are cleared by this factory.
    Interestingly, recent raids in Munger have resulted in the seizure of large quantities of magazine springs used for automatic weapon manufacturing that were manufactured by IOF.

    Ordnance involvement?

    “These springs have a specific elasticity which puts the bullet automatically in the firing chamber. They are the most important component for automatic weapons. The IOF alone does such level of high quality manufacturing. These springs have somehow found their way to Munger’s illegal arms manufacturing business,” said a second senior police officer in the district who too didn’t want to be identified.

    Commenting on the seizure of springs manufactured by IOF from illegal units, the additional director general of police (headquarters) in Bihar, Neelmani, who uses only one name, told Mint, “There may be some collusion (between employees of IOF and the makers of illegal arms). However, this has to be probed.”

    “A lot of people in Munger know arms manufacturing due to its history.”
    In a related development, M Sunil Kumar Naik, the superintendent of police in Munger, said he wants the licences of 68 licensed gun-shops in the district revoked because he claims they function as a front for illegal arms trade.

    “We will be sending this proposal shortly and the district magistrate has the right to cancel the licences. Munger has got perhaps the maximum concentration of licensed gun-shops of 75 in the area of this size,” added Naik.

    Heightened police activity means that the makers of illegal arms are lying low for the time being. The owners of two such units who had earlier agreed to meet this reporter at their factories did a volte-face and even refused to speak over the phone.

    “We have recovered all sorts of weapons (from the raids) except an AK47,” said the second police officer, initially in jest. Given the expertise of the gunsmiths of Munger, “it is not far-fetched.”


    Afraid of the Third Front? – By Jayanti Ghosh – The Asian Age

    April 28, 2009

    http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/opinion/op-ed/afraid-of-the-third-front.aspx




    Afraid of the Third Front?

     

    Jayati Ghosh

    April.28 : India is a complex and diverse country, with many different loyalties and identities driving the aspirations and actions of its citizens. It is also a country in which — fortunately — electoral democracy is deeply entrenched, and difficult to dislodge, with ever growing numbers of people aware of their rights and deeply committed to casting their votes.

    It is therefore not surprising that the electoral process — and electoral outcomes especially in the recent past — reflect both such diversity as well as processes of change. As the political churning in India continues apace, it is likely that it will throw up newer and different combinations of parties in power. These are not necessarily results that should cause concern or fear. Rather, they are signs of a national polity that is emerging out of an immensely complicated reality, in a process that has taken several other countries much longer (often as much as a century) to complete.

    This process cannot and should not follow the same pattern as the US or UK models, with two major parties alternately contending for and attaining power, because the reality of India is so very different and places such varied requirements upon central governments. Indeed, the middle class yearning for a simple binary division of the polity is completely misplaced in India. It ignores the very reasons why regional and smaller parties have come up at all, and thereby denies the genuine democratic aspirations of most people.

    Coalition politics is both necessary and inevitable in India at the current juncture not only because of this diversity, but because of the very obvious failures and apparent of the two major parties. Indeed, just looking at national vote shares of the different parties in the last few elections shows how the electorate is increasingly rejecting this binary division.

    The Congress Party, because of its role in the national movement, had emerged after Independence as the default national party, able for a relatively prolonged period to dominate the national political spectrum and particularly the Central government, even though other parties managed to grow sufficiently to set up state governments. But there has been a continuous decline in its national presence. From the peak in 1984 when the wave of sympathy caused by the assassination of Indira Gandhi gave it 46.1 per cent of the national vote, the share has dropped to 26.5 per cent in 2004. It controls only a small minority of state governments.

    Every government that has formed at the Centre since 1989 has been a coalition of many parties, and several have been minority governments dependent upon outside support, including the current United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. So the days of one party rule by the Congress are clearly over, whether this is accepted by the Party or not.

    The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) until recently benefited the most from the Congress’ decline, but even the BJP this far has not managed to cross much more than a quarter of the national vote — its peak vote share (in 1998) was 25.6 per cent, and it has declined since then.

    These two parties claim to be very different, and certainly it is true that the Congress still claims its secular credentials in opposition to the BJP’s politics of hate and fear, which still underlie the latter’s ideology despite all the moderate masks it seeks to adopt on different occasions. It is also true the BJP is definitely the greater evil, given that its divisive politics actually sows the seeds of more violence and insecurity for the country as a whole. Yet it is also remarkable how similar these two parties have been in government, in terms of economic policies and centralising tendencies.

    They have both chosen to follow neoliberal economic policies that have dramatically increased economic inequalities, caused widespread agrarian distress and made material lives more fragile and insecure for most workers. It is true that since the current Congress-led UPA government was dependent upon outside support from the Left, it did bring in some positive and pro-people measures such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). But the basic neoliberal urge was still very evident.

    Also both parties — despite being involved in coalition governments that depend upon inside or outside support from smaller and regional parties — have been extremely centralising in terms of concentrating various powers in their own hands, dictating economic terms to the state governments and forcing conditionalities that impose the same neoliberal policies upon the state governments in return for resource transfer in the form of centrally-sponsored schemes. Along with this, it is increasingly evident that both parties are hand in glove with imperialism, in ways that directly impact upon the security and sovereignty of the nation.

    Since these are finally the features that affect most of the Indian people directly and indirectly, it is not surprising that these policies have not gone down well with the electorate and have further accentuated the tendency of decline of these two parties.

    Things have come to such a pass that it is currently being widely predicted that these two parties together will not get even half of the total votes in the current general elections. So the claim of these two parties being the main relevant national parties is increasingly open to question.

    That leaves a varied collection of parties with very different bases, perceptions, identities, ideals, political strategies and forms of organisation and mobilisation. Some of these parties have been, or continue to be associated with fronts, formed by one or the other of the two large parties. But the current evidence of the disintegration of these fronts is not without significance: it indicates that the smaller parties recognise that the role and power of these larger parties is likely to be further constrained in future.

    It is obviously both unrealistic and premature to expect that such a diverse grouping (or even a large subset of this grouping) can immediately form a coherent and viable political front that is separate from the two main parties. Yet such a front is both desirable and ultimately inevitable, which is why the Left parties have already invested so much time and effort in working towards such an outcome. After all, these parties have become significant because they express and articulate the genuine concerns and aspirations of substantial sections of voters, and therefore they cannot be denied their space. And because several of them gain their political legitimacy from those who are reacting against unequal and centralising economic policies, they must eventually express this in their own economic strategies.

    What is also significant is that many of them find political legitimacy among the bulk of people who have been adversely affected by neoliberal economic policies: workers and peasants, students and self-employed, those searching for jobs and those working at multiple jobs to make ends meet.

    We need a Central government that acts to bring such people relief and improve their future prospects. Obviously, in creating such a government, a critical role will be played by the Left whether or not it actually joins the government.

    This does not mean that simply forming such a government will rid the polity and economy of the various vices and weaknesses that currently dominate. And it is also very likely that such a government may be unstable and prone to dissolve or change because of contending pressures from the various elements in it. But this should be seen as part of a longer political process in which the legitimate demands of a federal polity and of the masses of people are sought to be met. Such a process is not always smooth and seamless; indeed it is likely to be as chaotic and colourful as Indian democracy itself. It does not make the process any less relevant or necessary.

    The emergence of a viable third alternative in Indian politics is therefore a matter of historical inevitability. We should not be afraid of heterogenous political groupings, as long as they share the basic agenda of improving the lot of the common people.

    Ulema Council first step towards creation of Political Islam: Amresh Misra

    April 28, 2009

    Ulema Council first step towards creation of Political Islam : Amresh Misra

    http://indiatoday.intoday.in/election2009/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=39179&Itemid=1&sectionid=90&secid=87

    INTERVIEWS

    Ulema Council first step towards creation of Political Islam: Amresh

    Mishra

    Farzand Ahmed

    April 28, 2009

    Amresh Mishra, 43, the Ulema Council candidate for Lucknow Lok Sabha constituency, has been a hardcore activist of ultra-Left CPI (ML) since his student days in Allahabad University. During CPI (ML)’s underground days he was Convener of ‘Progressive Students’ Organisation’ that later come to be known as AISA. A well-know historian, Journalist and script-writer Mishra has many well-researched books to his credit. Apart from his work on Lucknow entitled ‘The Fire of Grace”, he created storm in political and academic circles after his voluminous work on 1857 mutiny entitled ‘War on Civilizations’ last year. His other works include ‘Mangal Pandey: True story of a Mutiny’ and a novel ‘The Minister’s Wife’. Mishra took time off his electioneering to meet with India Today’s Farzand Ahmedto discuss how and why being a Marxist-Leninist he strayed into the outfit of clerics. He revealed: Ulema Council is part of a move to create a string Political Islam movement.

     

    Excerpts:

    Q: Being a historian and author of a book on Lucknow how do you feel about the present day condition of the city known for its distinct tehzib (culture) and adab (etiquette)?

    A: Khushboo ka shahar gandagi mein doob geya hai (filth has overpowered the city of fragrance). Inside real Lucknow poverty and helplessness are widespread. This is a gift to the city by our politicians.

    Q: Your agenda?

    A: To revive the glory of old Lucknow and revive its traditional craft because of which it’s recognised and respected worldwide.

    As a historian I link the plight of Lucknow with the much-hyped new economic policy.

    Q: Now coming to politics and your political training how come you are in the company of clerics or in the Ulema-driven party?

    A: I found that Ulema Council, which was born out of anger against police and administration harassing and arresting innocent youth of Azamgarh in the name of being militants, was a first step towards creation of Political Islam.

    Q: What is Political Islam?

    A: Instead of going into history I would say that it’s different from Wahabism. It is in fact an attempt to use and link Islam’s ideology to present day politics and provide justice to all.

    Q: But you were with Badruddin Ajmal chief of Asom United Democratic Front when he launched a Pan-India Muslim party?

    A: Yes. I was there. In fact I came to Uttar Pradesh to set up units of AUDF but found that Ulema Council was the right forum to fight against injustice and police excesses against minorities in Azamgarh.

    By design Azamgarh was being projected as breeding ground of militants. It was baseless and wrong.

    Q: But many believe UC was born to help BJP in this election?

    A: I have heard this too. But such thing happens when votes are polarised. In UP things are different and UC being part of BJP is rubbish.

    Q: What’s the future of Ulema Council after this election?

    A: UC will ultimately emerge as a grand alliance of all under-privileged classes.

    World Islam (to which many object) will be replaced by Insaaf (Justice).

    By the end of this election (May 16) UC will announce name of the new political party but the word ‘Ulema’ will be there. Purpose is to emerge as political force by next Assembly elections.

    Mumbai Muslims adopting Brahmin strategies – They are everywhere!

    April 21, 2009

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

     

    Mumbai Muslims adopting Brahmin strategies – They are everywhere!

     

    Something has got to give.

     

    The way Congress has been humiliating Muslims in Mumbai, even though Muslims had remained loyal voters to the Congress all along;  while suffering the most horrifying communal riots and being subjected to mass scale arrests and incarcerations, on most untenable and spurious pretexts. They had not only been marginalized, but a hate campaign was always in the works, even by most secular of the Congress leader.

     

    The first sign of defiance by Muslims was the demand on Congress that they should give tickets to at least 5 Muslim candidates, one among them from Mumbai. They added a deadline too.

     

    The arrogant Chief Minister got a few ‘apparently’ obliging Ulema and asked them that nothing could be done at this stage and he may consider more Muslim representation in coming assembly election.

     

    Muslims have always known how Congress operates on the basis of promises. This time they revolted. Not only they have gone to other political parties, like SP and BSP to seek tickets, they now have another secular alternative of switching their votes to newly formed Muslim led political parties, whom The Communal Times of India, always brands as outfits — never fronts, or political parties.

     

    Another development that is more notable is that the same Muslim leaders are attending election rallies of practically all political parties. Be that Shiv Sena, or Raj Thackeray’s MNS, Muslims are being invited as a standard feature, possibly borrowed from the formula of Bollywood films of old, when a regular feature had to be a very kind and generous Muslim, who at appropriate time would burst forth in a Qawwali. Probably, the popular Actor Salman Khan, picking up from the Bollywood tradition, has been pulling up crowds for any number of candidates, regardless of their party affiliations and media has been taking note of that.

     

    A similar change is visible in Muslim voters. They are no longer impressed by the old Congress scare tactics of Shiv Sena coming to power, if Muslims failed to vote Congress. This was the pet scare tactic of the Communists too. However, Muslim voters are now prepared to move with the tide and defy all harangues from community leaders and vote for their local favourite candidate, be that from any party.

     

    This may turn out to be a complete duplication of the Brahmin strategies, who are found in each and every political group and over time work to get an upper hand. (Isn’t Bollywood ruled by the 3 khans?).

     

    The same route may be opening up with the Muslims, who have finally cut themselves off from the apron strings of Indian National Congress. Muslim voters and Muslim leaders have found new space for their future moves and that augurs well for the community.

     

     

    Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

    ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

    www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

     

     

    Indian Muslims and the 2009 Elections – Challenges and Prospects of Political Success – By Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor-in-Chief, Milli Gazette, New Delhi

    April 20, 2009

     

    Analysis

    Indian Muslims and the 2009 Elections

    Challenges and Prospects of Political Success

    By  Zafarul Islam Khan

     
     
    Indians vote in 2009 general elections

    voters stand in a queue outside a booth at polling station in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, April 16, 2009. (Reuters photo)

    India, the world’s largest democracy with a total of 714 million voters, is undergoing these days a marathon election exercise over five phases which will conclude on 13 May. Results will start coming in from 16 May and the new parliament will be in place on  June 2.As usual, India’s 160 million Muslims, making up about 14 percent of the population, are taking part in these elections both as voters and as contestants.

    Indian Muslims are the biggest minority group whose vote is critical in key swing states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the north, Assam in the northeast, West Bengal in the east and Kerala in the south.

     

    See Muslims Percentage in Indian States.

    All parties, including the BJP which is perceived as anti-Muslim, have fielded Muslim candidates from places where Muslims may win as a result of large concentration of Muslims in at least 80 out of the current parliament’s 543 constituencies or in order to show that the concerned party cares about the community’s political empowerment.

    Indian Muslims have been traditionally complaining that they are always under-represented in the national parliament as well as in provincial legislative assemblies. In the outgoing parliament there are 37 Muslim members out of their proportional entitlement of 76 seats. The highest number of seats Muslim could ever win was in 1980 when they secured 46 seats.  [See the chart here, page 15]

    Indian Muslims are found in sizeable numbers in over 80 constituencies, especially in north India.  

    Under-representationThe Muslim under-representation is due to a number of reasons, such as disunity in Muslim ranks, major parties’ disinclination in nominating enough number of Muslims in winnable constituencies and reservation of Muslim-dominated constituencies as reserved seats for Dalits, the so-called untouchables, in addition to the age-old trick of gerrymandering aimed at dividing Muslim-dominated pockets over a number of constituencies in order to break Muslims’ strength.

    Among glaring examples is the nomination of actress Jayaprada from the traditionally Muslim seat of Rampur by an alleged Muslim-friendly party. In Delhi, where Muslims deserve at least one seat, no major party has nominated any Muslim in these polls.

    Indian Muslims are found in sizeable numbers in over 80 constituencies, especially in north India, where they can help any candidate win or lose by voting for or against them. Muslims are concentrated in about 16 states where 97% Indian Muslims reside, with 1% or more in each state.

    They have sizable concentration in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, Assam and Kerala. In another nine states, namely Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana they have a lower proportion.

    Constituency-wise, there are only 14 Muslim majority constituencies, in addition to another 28 with high Muslim-concentration of above 30% and 60 other constituencies where they constitute more than 20% of the electorate. All these 100 constituencies or so are targeted by secular parties to secure maximum Muslim votes for their candidates.

     

    The Congress failed to act decisively on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee which found out that Muslims were at the bottom of the Indian society by any yardstick of backwardness.  

    Background  Traditionally, Indian Muslims voted for the Congress Party, but this started to change in mid-1970 as a result of the excesses during the Emergency period.

    As a result, the Congress for the first time was voted out of power in 1977. The demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992 was the final proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and resulted in almost total boycott of the Congress party by Muslims. Many other parties and coalitions ruled, as a result, and the Congress could come back to power only in 2004, as the leader of a coalition called UPA.

    The half-hearted implementation of the Congress-led government’s various pro-Muslim schemes have failed to win back the trust of the Muslim voters. The Congress-led government for the first time in India established a “Minority Affairs Ministry” which has literally done nothing apart from disbursing a few thousand scholarships to Muslim students. Even its meager budget for the last year was not fully utilized.

    The Congress failed to act decisively on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee which found out that Muslims were at the bottom of the Indian society by any yardstick of backwardness. Sachar report disclosed that Muslim representation has plummeted to as low as three and five percent in the government and public sector companies.

    The Congress has also consigned to the cold storage the report of the Mishra Commission which recommended 10 percent reservation for Muslims in government jobs, schemes and bank credits. The Congress has consistently followed an anti-Muslim policy in Assam which has a 30% Muslim population.

    The Congress failed to stop the anti-Muslim campaign in the name of fighting terrorism which was unleashed by the previous BJP-led government which ruled during 1999-2004. In fact, the campaign only intensified especially in states ruled by the Congress like the Mahrashtra and Andhra Pradesh which have witnessed some of the worst excesses, including extra-judicial killings, against Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism.

    The Congress government at the Centre has also failed to take any action against the tainted Gujarat government of Narendra Modi who presided over the pogroms of 2002 and still rules the state. The Congress government has steadfastly refused a judicial enquiry into the cold-blooded murder last September by the police of two Muslim alleged “terrorist” youths in what is known as “Batla House Encounter”. As a result, Muslims are voting for all kinds of “secular” parties in the current elections.

     

    A new phenomenon this time is the emergence of a number of small Muslim parties.  

    New PhenomenonThe new phenomenon of small regional parties has offered new choices to the Muslim voter as an alternative to national political parties. Small Muslim parties are concluding alliances with small regional parties for their mutual benefit.

    A new phenomenon this time is the emergence of a number of small Muslim parties. Muslims already have the Indian Union Muslim League in the southern state of Kerala (with 2-3 members of Parliament and a sizeable presence in the provincial legislative assembly) and Majlis Ittehadul Muslimin in the southern city of Hyderabad (one member of Parliament and about a dozen in the provincial assembly).

    A new Muslim entrant from the last year is the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) in the northeastern state of Assam which won nine seats in the provincial assembly elections last year and expects to win 4-5 seat in the current national elections. The AUDF has now stretched its wings to other states too and is fighting elections in a number of northern states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. [See the map of  Muslims distribution here, page 13]

    Another new entrant is the Ulama Council (UC) of Uttar Pradesh which emerged as a protest movement against the “Batla House Encounter”. UC’s popularity in the Azamgarh area of Uttar Pradesh led it to enter the elections in a number of constituencies in that state.
     
    This is a new Muslim experiment which will stabilize by the time the next general elections are held in five years times. For the first time since independence in 1947, Indian Muslims are seeking to stand on their own two feet to ensure their political empowerment. Earlier they used to be part of various parties and thereby bound by the agendas and policies of those parties.

    Ilyas Azmi, a seasoned member of Parliament, candidly portrayed the position of Muslims in various parties when he said recently that the position of Muslim members of Parliament in their respective parties is “worse than that of slaves”. These members are not allowed to have their own independent views or air them in public without prior clearance with their leadership which is Hindu even in the case of communist and socialist parties.

     

    Major Muslim organizations like the All India Muslim Majli-se Mushawarat (AIMMM), Jamaat-e Islami Hind (JIH) and Jamiat Ulama-e Hind are trying to empower Muslim voters.

    Empowering Muslim Voters  There are said to be no less than 22 small Muslim-led parties contesting elections mainly in the north though their chances are slim. These parties include Peace Party in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Muslim Munettra Khazhagam in Tamil Nadu and People’s Democratic Council in West Bengal. They all claim to be “secular” parties working for the weak and marginalized sections of society.

    These parties, including the UC, will at best only split Muslim votes and thereby indirectly helping the Hindu extremist BJP to win elections as the Hindu vote will be cast solidly for a single candidate while secular and Muslim votes will be split among a number of candidates.

    Major Indian Muslim organizations like the All India Muslim Majli-se Mushawarat (AIMMM), Jamaat-e Islami Hind (JIH) and Jamiat Ulama-e Hind are trying to influence Muslim voters by advising them to vote for a Muslim candidate in Muslim-majority seats and for strong and winnable secular candidates in other seats.
    While AIMMM has concentrated this time round on a single demand, i.e., reservation for Muslims in government jobs and facilities, others like JIH have issued elaborate charter of demands.

    Muslim organizations this time have refrained from supporting any single party. Instead, they are supporting specific candidates belonging to various secular parties based on the record of the party and the winnablity of its candidate. The only exception is the Hindu communal parties, like BJP and Shiv Sena which have a clear anti-Muslim agenda.

    Even these anti-Msulim parties have tried hard to show that they are not anti-Muslim and have included in their agendas some promises for Muslim uplift. Muslim organizations are also supporting Muslim candidates who are fighting elections as independents.

     

    The change in the Indian part of Kashmir was observed last year when people overwhelmingly took part in the provincial assembly elections.  

    Important DevelopmentAnother important development in these elections is that one of the two wings of the separatist Hurriyat Conference is not asking people this time round to boycott elections while Sajad Lone, a leading Kashmiri separatist who is the leader of People’s Conference, has for the first time since 1988 decided to take part in the polls.

    The change in the Indian part of Kashmir was observed last year when people overwhelmingly took part in the provincial assembly elections. Hitherto the separatist groups had held that Kashmiris should not take part in elections before the solution of the problem of Kashmir.

    Presently, there are no truly national parties which may be in a position to secure an overall majority in the next parliament and form a government on their own. Moreover, there is no political unity even among the secular parties as they operate more or less as regional or local parties.

    For Election 2009, three political formations have emerged, headed by the INC, the BJP and the Left. This leaves out a few unattached parties which are now talking of a fourth front. 

    A new alignment will emerge after the elections in which many of the parties now in the third and fourth fronts will go back to the Congress-led coalition.

    Muslims will still be out of the political equation due to their disunity.


    I don’t think we have reached the stage when Taliban will take over Pakistan : Rahimullah Yousufzai, the veteran who reports for the BBC from Peshawar

    April 19, 2009

    http://epaper.indianexpress.com/IE/IEH/2009/04/19/index.shtml

     

    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

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Times of India leads the terror-mongering pack

    April 13, 2009

    TOI  leads the terror-mongering pack

     

    By Zafarul-Islam Khan

     

    New Delhi: Terror is the biggest business today at home and abroad. Everyone is a beneficiary. The government gets more clout and more powers over the lives of its hapless subjects through new terror laws and activation of old ones in an atmosphere where no one dares to question the motives of the politicians over the vital issue of “security”. Security forces get immunity for illegal acts and crimes for which they win medals, rewards, promotions and huge funds with no accountability attached. Newspapers and TV channels improve their circulation and ratings sensationalising real and imaginary terror stories with total impunity as no one would dare question their rightful concern for our safety and security. Sales of arms dealers and security providers skyrocket year after year and politicians get their usual kickbacks. Foreign arms and security manufacturers continue to do roaring business. Some political party may even try to usurp the security issue and snatch power playing on the fears of the people as BJP has been unsuccessfully trying for over a decade now. With trillions spent on security and defence, the common man is the real sufferer as the ever expanding budgets rely essentially on increased taxation and cuts in social security, healthcare and education resulting in ever-increasing poverty and suffering of the masses who nevertheless remain grateful that there are people at the helm who still work for the security of the common man and the country.

     

    This intro was necessary to understand how the security issue remains our agenda number one and everyone benefits from this “flowing Ganga”. Late last month as Varun Gandhi was facing  imprisonment for his treason and our government at the fag end of its term was concluding one dubious and unethical deal after another with world’s leading terrorist regime while a previous deal is under investigation. Suddenly the security and terrorism issue returned to the front pages. Times of India, as usual, was the leader of this scare. On 31 March its campaign unfolded with a screaming headline: “India forced to reassess threat” which told us that “Jihadi” terrorism in Pakistan was about to spill over into India. In another story the same day it enlightened us that there was an “Alert in Kerala after terror-from-sea tip-off”. TOI story said that 30 members of Jamiat-ul-Mujahidin had arrived at Negombo. The information was so hazy that TOI could not rule out that they “could belong to LTTE”. Next day (1 March) the TOI struck it big with the screaming front page headline: “Chhota Shakeel planned to kill Varun”. The news, though related to Mangalore in Karnataka, was based on an unknown IB source in Lucknow and accompanied a photograph of Varun in crosshairs. The story claimed that the shooter assigned is a certain “Malbari” alias “Double” who was arrested on 27 March in BJP-ruled Karnataka wherefrom the “sharp-shooter” was preparing to move to Pilibhit. TOI  enlightens us with the reasons why the gangster was going to kill Varun could be: 1) kill Varun for his hate speeches; 2) to restore ‘confidence in Indian Muslims’ and 3) ‘disturb’ Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh (!) (TOI, 1 April). In another story same day, TOI tells us that the said Malbari entered India via Nepal but (curiously) instead of going straight to Pilibhit across the Nepal border, he decided to do a detour via sea landing on Karnataka coast in the deep south – a real Indian version of going north by north west. In two more related stories the same day, TOI tells us that Taj Group hotels have received email threats from Pakistan and that “Security beefed up at Taj hotels across country”.

     

    Next day (2 April), TOI strikes it big again with a screaming first page headline splashed across the whole page: “Security shield for poll rallies after fresh terror threats”. Strangely, the big story has no byline as it is attributed to “Times News Network”. The whole story is about normal preparations by the police and security agencies to meet any eventuality in the national capital in view of the huge election rallies held by various political parties. The whole big story fails to offer us a single claim by any security agency about any imminent threat but an inside story tucked away on page 13 of the same issue tells us that the Union home minister has written to 40 top leaders “mainly SPG and Z-plus (NSG) protectees” of different political parties asking them “to take adequate precautions for their safety” – a fairly routine reminder to the protectees as a result of normal security reviews which are held periodically. Same day another box news datelined Mumbai on page one of TOI tells us: “Trained pilots sneak in on terror mission”. It cites an unverifiable “intelligence report” to claim that “7-8 trained pilots and around a dozen women fidayeen have entered the country on a mission to carry out terror strikes and hijackings”. A boxed item appearing with the story says that the group “May be Pakistani nationals” and that its reported mission was “to carry out terror strikes and hijackings”. The report adds in good measure: “The group may also be planning to disrupt Lok Sabha elections” (emphasis added). Inside the story we discover that the said report is based on a threat intimation received by the aviation ministry (and not by the intelligence bureau or the home ministry) and that the idea that the group may be planning to disrupt elections came from an unnamed “senior intelligence official” who was charitable enough with his comment: “We cannot take a chance…”.  An inside story in TOItucked away on page 13 on the same day (2 April) and armed with a question mark says: “Was Shakeel aid in India to kill Muthalik?” It tells us that the dreaded Malbari “had actually come to India to target Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik” and enlightens us that “the gangsters’ interest in pursuing jihadi design [is] to do something big which could vitiate the communal atmosphere in the country”. Strange indeed. Gangsters are now fighting jihad and want to vitiate the communal atmosphere by killing those who are doing this job free of cost and extremely successfully. But the same story in Hindustan Times same day (2 April) was not accompanied by a question mark and said plainly: “Target Sene chief, not Varun”. Another TOI story on same page (p. 13) same day betrays that TOI’s mission was accomplished. The headline says: “After threat, Varun’s cover upgraded to Z-category” which entails deployment of 13 cops and an escort vehicle.  According to the story, the request for security upgradation was made by Varun himself in a letter to the home minister way back on 20 March citing “current controversy” and his “family history”. So the whole idea of the hype, for which other Sanghis fake jihadi threats, was to secure highest level of security for Varun and the gullible State succumbed to the blackmail and agreed to provide security to the rabble-rousing criminal whose real place is a secure jail cell and not a posse of highly-trained commandos. But why complain? Many criminals who took part in Babri demolition, Mumbai riots and Gujarat pogroms and spew venom day in and day out, enjoy tight security at the expense of the benevolent State which spends taxpayers’ hard earned millions on protecting hard-core criminals whose counterparts never get such treatment in any other country.

     

    As both print and electronic media with fake footage were playing up the terror threat and how 20 “fedayeen” had sneaked in to play havoc with the country’s security, the new no-non-sense home minister Mr Chidambram called a press conference on 2 April to dispel these unfounded claims. He told the media in a press conference that “there is no credible threat but we must remain watchful.” He trashed the story of the women fedayeen, said that there is no truth in the claims about imminent plane hijackings and that the airports alert has been cancelled. The home minister further cautioned the media not to publish news which had no basis. He termed as “blatant lie” the claim about the sneaking Pakistani fedayeen and said that despite occupying his position as home minister he had “no information about it while some people are claiming that the terrorists have not only sneaked in but that they also know that 20 terrorists have come to India via Bangladesh and that they are going to strike at Old Delhi’s busiest locality, Chandni Chowk. There is no truth in it”. This was promptly reported next day (3 April) by two Urdu dailies, Hindustan Express and Hamara Samajas front page news but TOI was still adamant to continue its terror farce. So for the third day it keeps up the hype and its front page headline announces that “Taj hotel gets fresh threat from Pakistan” and claims that a fresh email threatens “to blow up the heritage building…”.TOI kept the myth with another story, this time from Lucknow, containing quotes from an alleged transcript of calls between Malbari and Chhota Shakeel during 15-21 March in which the don orders his sharp shooter to kill Varun but the latter tells him that Pilibhit is far away and suggests to bump off Muthalik instead. A short news on the front page same day but in smaller print tells us that “Hijack alert issued to airports withdrawn a day later”. Indian Express front page story same day (3 April) is clearer with the headline: ‘No need for alarm but must be on guard’. IE’s report on the withdrawal of the airport alert, also on page 1, same day, is clearer with the headline: “Airport alert on women bombers not ‘credible’ so govt takes it back” while HT headline same day also did not try to mislead: “Safe to fly, terror alert withdrawn”. TOI’s real insult is tucked on page 11 (3 April) which says: “Chidambram plays down terror threat”. The report fails to report how Chadambram chastised the likes of TOI for playing up the threat while reporting that Chidambram said that the alleged threat to Varun was based on the interrogation report of a terrorist arrested in Mangalore which he termed as “exaggerated.”

     

    Next day (April 4) on a page 13 Delhi-datelined story, TOI tells us: “Top Isro scientists on LeT radar”. The revelation, termed as “chilling”, comes from unnamed “officials” who refer to interrogations of a LeT terrorist [no question of the possibility of his being an alleged one] by, surprise, surprise, [BJP-ruled] Karnataka authorities which, and I quote, “showed that LeT was planning to despatch terrorists to assassinate senior members of Isro…” [emphasis added]. So the threat is not even credible or imminent but it is in the planning stage. Down the line we learn that an alleged terrorist extradited from Oman claimed that such plans“came up” for discussions with an alleged LeT member in Muscat! In other words, it was not even planned but was part of a chat no one knows how real or serious.

     

    As the airports and Varun scare died down, our media discovered yet another scare – this time an imminent or possible or real sneaking in by terrorists across the LoC in Kashmir where army and police officers have been telling us for months that militancy has been contained and the assembly elections were held there only recently with unprecedented voter participation. But the scare was needed to ward off the threat of an imminent American intervention to force the spoilt brats of the Subcontinent to see some reason and cure the festering Kashmir canker. Something had to be done before the Holbrook visit which took place on 8 April. So we heard that terrorists, rather Taliban, had sneaked into Kashmir! Clearly their Afghanistan and Pakistan mission was accomplished and now they were turning their attention to Dilli. Soon it became clear that the whole story was concocted and there was no reason to fear Taliban showing up on our international border or on the LoC.

     

    Fact or fiction, the show goes on for our print and electronic media with no holds barred and no questions asked. In this age of terror nothing sells better than terror-mongering. Terror is good for all with the sole exception of the common man who in the end pays the price whether terror attacks take place or do not take place.

    *All references are to newspapers’ Delhi editions

     

    (Courtesy: The Milli Gazette)