Posts Tagged ‘BJP’

Togadia funded Abhinav Bharat, Sadhvi said ‘my people’ set off Malegaon bomb: Purohit to CBI – INDIAN EXPRESS

November 24, 2008

http://www.indianexpress.com/story_print.php?storyid=389786

Togadia funded Abhinav Bharat, Sadhvi said ‘my people’ set off Malegaon bomb: Purohit to CBI

Shishir Gupta

Posted online: Nov 24, 2008 at 0131 hrs

New Delhi, November 23 : Arrested Army officer Lt Col Prasad Purohit has told the CBI that VHP general secretary Pravin Togadia was involved in the formation and funding of Abhinav Bharat, the radical Hindu group at the centre of investigations into the September 29 Malegaon blast.
The officer has also said that Swami Aseemanand of Dangs had told him that Sunil Joshi — the man to whom Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur sold her motorcycle that was used in the Malegaon blast— was also involved in the Ajmer Sharif shrine bombing of October 11, 2007.

Sunil Joshi, whom Swami Aseemanand described to Purohit as “apna banda” (our man), was murdered in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh in the last week of December, 2007. The swami, originally Jatin Chatterjee of Bengal, is on the run.

The CBI interrogated Purohit in connection with its investigations into the May 18, 2007 blast at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid.

Purohit is understood to have told interrogators the name of a serving Colonel of the Army, his neighbour in Panchmarhi, who attended key meetings of Abhinav Bharat, including one allegedly hosted by the senior New Delhi endocrinologist R P Singh in Faridabad in January this year.

The Army has denied that any of its officers besides Purohit is under the scanner in the Malegaon probe. Dr Singh has denied involvement in the blast conspiracy.

The CBI report records competing claims made by Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya on the Malegaon blast. Purohit claimed to have met Pragya on October 5, 2008 to tell her that “our people” had carried out the killings in Orissa, burnt down two churches in Karnataka, and also carried out the Malegaon blast. To which, says the CBI report, the Sadhvi retorted: how could Purohit claim that Abhinav Bharat had been responsible for the Malegaon blast, when it was actually her people who had carried out the attack?

Purohit told interrogators that one Prashant Hartalkar, who he identified as the VHP’s Maharashtra chief, had called him on the phone to say that Pravin Togadia wanted him to find out who was investigating the Nanded blast case. In April 2006, an explosion in the home of an alleged RSS worker in Nanded, Maharashtra, killed two men who were suspected to have been putting together a bomb.

The CBI report details plans by Abhinav Bharat to try and ultimately replace the RSS and VHP as the standard-bearer of the ‘Hindu cause’. Purohit claimed to have told VHP leader Eknath Rao Shete that “the RSS needs to change its dress code to attract the youth of the country”.

Purohit also gave details of the conspiracy to eliminate RSS leader Indresh Kumar for ‘getting Hindus killed in Nepal’. He admitted he had, at the behest of Dayanand Pandey (alias Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Mahant Amritanand) and the Pune-based veteran RSS leader Shyam Apte, given a weapon to one Alok, a colleague of the Kolkata-based radical Hindu activist Tapan Ghosh, on April 11-12, 2008 in Bhopal. Next month, he had sent 12 rounds of ammunition to Alok, meant to be used to kill Indresh.

Purohit told the CBI Pandey had asked him to get RDX or some other explosive as “Guru Agya”. But it is not clear if he actually got the explosives.

Pandey also made Purohit contact Dr R P Singh over the telephone in August 2007. The report quotes Singh as having told Purohit that Indresh had “sold off Hindus in Nepal”, a job for which he (Indresh) had been given Rs 3 crore by the ISI. Purohit conveyed this to Togadia, who said that he already knew about this.

Purohit’s interrogation report includes several other details:

• Purohit first met Togadia in February 2006 in Nashik at the home of the local VHP unit head Vinayak. In December that year, he met Togadia in Mumbai and apprised him of the Abhinav Bharat concept. In March-April 2007, Togadia told Purohit over the phone the names of donors to the trust. In August-September, 2007, Togadia gave him Rs 2 lakh, which were subsequently passed on to Abhinav Bharat’s Samir Kulkarni. On August 2, 2008, Togadia severely reprimanded Purohit for breaking up the VHP’s Madhya Pradesh unit.

• On February 2, 2008, Shyam Apte gave Rs 2 lakh to Purohit, and orders to kill Indresh. Purohit passed on the money to another activist, Rakesh Dhawade, who gave him the weapon for Rs 50,000. This weapon was given to Alok. Dhawade, Purohit said, claimed to have trained the RSS cadres who died in the Nanded blast. Purohit had given Dhawade Rs 3.2 lakh the month before, to buy another four weapons.

• The same month, Purohit met Sandip Dange and Ramji Kalsangra with Samir Kulkarni. Ramji and the Purohit exchanged numbers, and decided to keep Kulkarni out of the operation.

• On April 11-12, 2008, Purohit spoke to Sadhvi Pragya at the instance of Aseemanand in Bhopal. The Sadhvi told the officer that Indresh was like a father to her. In June 2008, she told Purohit that she did not want to work with him. He met her five days after the Malegoan blast.

• Apte and Pandey insisted on killing Indresh. Dange called up Purohit repeatedly for arms-training. In July 2008, all those who had come for arms to Abhinav Bharat scattered, including Tapan Ghosh.

• On August 3, 2008, Pandey directed Purohit to get RDX for Ramji at a meeting in Mahakaal Dharamsala. Towards the end of the month, one Pravin Patil came to Panchmarhi to state that he had gained knowledge of explosives through Internet research.

• On Oct 23, 2008, Purohit was interrogated by Col Srivastava of the Army about the Malegaon blast. The Colonel got him to talk to Dr R P Singh.

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Malegaon Blast: Crime Trail of Terror – By Mustafa Khan

November 19, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

Malegaon Blast: Crime Trail of Terror

By Mustafa Khan

As investigations into recent bomb blasts are still underway and it is difficult to prove what we write howsoever we may try to be objective there is still the emergent need for introspection that cannot be denied to journalism. Whatever you read between the lines may open up a new vista which may have till now been choked up by the ‘dumping of toxic feelings” by leaders and religious biased groups.  Much of the coverage on Malegaon is bound to generate heat in debates and discussions where cool-headed analysis in the national interest is required.

The evolving scenario makes one wonder as to what has been happening when we were ‘sleeping’. Therefore we walk a tight rope in dealing with bomb blasts and the cases of Sonal Shah, now on the advisory committee of President elect Barack Obama.

It is reported in a Marathi daily of Malegaon that Sadhvi Pragyasingh has confessed that foreign fund was used in the bomb blast in Malegaon. This contrasts with what has been reported that Lt Col Purohit had misappropriated military intelligence fund.  Both the sources of funding are serious and dangerous for the country. They involve fraud nationally and internationally that goes against the grain of the army that has had world opinion on its sides till recently as far as discipline is concerned. Therefore the necessity of each one accused in terrorism facing scrutiny at all levels and from all angles.

Purohit had taken Rs 20,000 from Mr. Shirish Yeshwant Date who had family acquaintance with him for getting him licence for arms.  Purohit supplied false information by giving bogus documents stating that Date lived in the defence colony of Deolali, Nasik. This fraudulent means of getting money is debauchery.

Mystery surrounds the arrest of Sudhakar Chaturvedi who was arrested from Dadar railway station on November 4 with a country-made revolver and a fake army identity card. If Purohit could give fake residence certificate that Date lived in defence colony of Deolali he could provide fake army identity card as well. It is reported that he not only knew the Malegaon conspiracy but was very much present in Malegaon itself.

BJP is the only political party that boasts a separate retired army personnel cell. One such retiree is the chief minister of Uttarakhand B C Khanduria retired Major General.  Another retired officer and BJP member, Sabyasachi Bagchi proudly says that RSS develops the character of the young people. It is this character building that makes them good soldier. If this were so why has the training of RSS gone haywire in the case of Purohit? Of greater concern is the interference of the party and its ideology in the armed forces through this association. SS Raikar of Bhonsala military school is also a retired person from the army. He allowed the school premises for terror, hatching conspiracy as well as arms training and providing accommodation.

The former governor of Jammu and Kashmir SK Sinha has allegedly allowed Dayanand Pandey to stay in the official residence.

Why have these army men behaved the way they have done? A neutral source retired Lt Gen V.R. Raghavan, former director-general of military operations blames “ultra nationalism of a narrow kind” responsible for the criminality of the contaminated serving and retired army officers. Thus what Bagchi says is eyewash.

No less is the case of Sameer Kulkarni who had taken deposit money from a customer to provide him a computer. Failing to supply he issued a cheque as the customer threatened him. The cheque bounced. The police registered a case against Kulkarni.

Dayanand Pandey’s first appearance in the court on November 17 is of grave import as he broke down and begged that the court should rather hang him but not touch his laptop. What is there in the laptop that he should be so much concerned about it? A popular news channel probed the matter and believes that the Pandey must have stored nude pictures of women and great men of his acquaintance. This bonanza of pornography is bound to shame him along with all those who figure in the collection. The police again used the old technique of retrieving the deleted files for clues. Or is the suspicion real that there is similar delay here as it was in the case of Purohit’s laptop. The delay in finding the laptop was a ruse behind which lies the real intention of deleting the more serious files? Pandey had harboured criminals in his ashram in Dhand, Ahmadabad. It is also believed that Ramji Kalsangar alias Ramnarayan Singh was sheltered there. On Friday November 14 2008 Dayanand Pandey committed perjury by saying that he was not Dayanand Pandey but Amritanand Dwivedi. He has other aliases as well and that is why the Kanpur judicial magistrate Mukesh Kumar Singh on Thursday noted the multiple names adopted by Amritanand while granting transit remand to ATS as he felt certain that Dayanand Pandey, Sudhakar Dwivedi and Swami Amritanand Dev were aliases of the same person who heads the Sharada Sarvadnya Peeth in Jammu.

 

His craze to false identity is venal as he was in Gorakhpur in 2006 at the invitation of BJP MLA Shiv Pratap Shukla as Jagatguru Shankracharya. He fled when a man asked about his identity. Murkier still was his craze to meet devotees only at night when he was in Faridabad staying at Mata Mandir as self styled Jagatguru Swami Amritanand Devtirth Maharaj.

 

He also committed embezzlement as president of Sharda Peeth of Jammu where he called himself Swami Amritanand. He was thrown out of the Peeth. But he was so Machiavellian that he soon started Sharda Sarvgya Peeth of his own and called himself Swami Amritanand Dev Teerth.

A fuller list of his crimes should make the BJP and RSS and other right wing affiliates of the Sangh Parivar sit up and face the nation to clarify whether they still want identity based politics and governance. Will they still misappropriate funds raised in the US in the name of relief and divert it to buy pouches of food and wine and distribute cash for those who perpetrated the pogroms in Gujarat 2002 with connivance of the government of Narendra Modi?

Ramesh Upadhya’s stalking a woman and giving her phone number on website as a call girl and also cheating the woman through the matrimonial site by showing that he was 37 and not 57 have a damaging effect on the kind of people in the Sangh Parivar.

These disrepute people under prosecution threaten to lower the position of India in the world opinion thanks to the Sangh Parivar’s involvement. If a serving lieutenant colonel of the Indian army is supplying 60 kg of RDX for terrorism that too against visiting Pakistanis then in what way are the ISI and extreme Hindu groups different in ideology and practice. On November 15 the ATS claims that the bomb blast in Malegaon is linked to the February 7, 2007 blasts on Samjhauta Express carrying Pakistanis because RDX was used in both the incidents. But two days later it allegedly changes its stance under the goading of the Intelligence Bureau. All through the government of India has been blaming the ISI of Pakistan for all the blasts in the country and especially the Samjhauta Express blasts. As to the foreign funds used in Malegaon attack it is necessary to look at how the funds end up in India, the real end users. There are documented proofs that huge amounts of money collected in the US go into the accounts of VHP and other conglomerates of RSS. Sonal Shah and her father Ramesh have been in the core group of VHPA [America] and have been instrumental in sending fund under the name of Eklavya Vidyalaya for backward tribals. But the real use is not to ameliorate the lot of the tribal people by educating them, it is rather to convert them to Hinduism if they are animists or have taken to Christianity. In the recent anti- Christian riots in Kandhamal of Orissa and other parts of India it is this fund that played havoc as it did in 2002 against the Muslims of Gujarat. The backward community of Charras was roped in by the RSS to wreak “vengeance” on the Muslims by slaughtering them. This confession is caught on camera and no action has been taken as if that was not terrorism.

George Fernandes had asked the army chief, the Air Marshal, and the Admiral to report the Kargil war to MPs. When the three went to the place it was the party office of BJP. That is how the Sangh parivar interferes in the affairs of the armed forces, directly.

 

 

‘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
 
 

Violence in Indian politics commands premium — By Ghulam Muhammed

October 22, 2008

 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

 

 

Violence in Indian politics commands premium

 

 

India’s democracy is cursed. It can only function if violence is unleashed. The group that can wreck peace of the nation is lauded by its own constituency as their saviour, their protector, their brave ideal. L. K. Advani, whose BJP had 2 seats in Parliament, was gifted by a US source with a doctoral dissertation, outlining how aggression can be converted into power. He organised the demolition of Babri Masjid and went on to so improve its electoral power in a subsequent election, as to win highest number of Parliamentary seats and put its own leader as coalition Prime Minster of India. Gujarat Chief Minster reportedly organised a genocidal communal riot against his state’s Muslims, and won subsequent election by thumbing majority. Since independence Congress has been using communal riots targeting Muslim minority in various states, to push a double game of first killing Muslims and pillaging their properties and later coming on the scene as saviors of Muslims, by promising offers of hefty relief and recompense, so Muslims vote them in. All their successes have been directly related to this murderous violence to secure Muslim votes.

 

Now it is the turn of a new generation, when a budding Raj Thackeray, has shown how mobilising goons on streets to terrorize law-abiding citizens, with minimum of efforts, thanks to free media publicity, is poised become a new winner in Maharashtra’s fractured political polity. Though he has been charged with fomenting several acts of violence, the way his popularity is being measured by the same media which on cue denounces him as a menace to civil society, it is now beyond possibility that he will increase his political strength in the coming election, to claim a big share of corruption pie that goes in India with the electoral victories.

 

The beauty of the whole operation is that the same people that are supposed to control and prevent his fascist violence, terrorizing people in the state, are handling him with kid gloves, in a strategy of their own, to split the votes of their adversaries and thus make sure they return back to rule the state. So it is open secret, that both Vilas Rao Deshmukh Congress and Sharad Pawar are not unhappy that Raj Thackeray is able to make a dent into Shiv-Sena/BJP combine. Sharad Pawar had gone cynical brushing aside his coalition partner, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s demand to ban Raj Thackeray’s MNS party, with the retort, that Election Commission has hardly any political party registered and how can it ban one that is already registered.  That means even with a fascist strategy and a divisive agenda, according to Sharad Pawar, Raj Thackeray’s MNS is providing a vital backdrop to the nation’s other main political parties, who are not averse to go for, encourage or tolerate such undemocratic outfits, with the word Sena (army) as their very open face of violence, as long as they provide some counterbalance to their electoral strategies.

 

Possibly, this is the reason that Maharashtra’s Samajwadi Party, under its firebrand leader, Abu Asim Azmi, is appearing to be pushed by both Congress and NCP, to add up representation of North Indians to its old Muslim constituency in Maharashtra and come on the streets with a Sena of its own.

 

A mock Mahabharata will be arranged and the victory will go to the ‘masterminds’. The misery of the people and social and economic cost of such destructive politicking is hardly the subject that will interest the oligarchs in power.

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

The SIMI Question: The Underlying Farce – By Amaresh Misra

August 23, 2008

The SIMI Question: The Underlying Farce 

 

                                                          By Amaresh Misra

 

 

          Shri Yogendra Yadav has responded to my article `The SIMI Question: Indian democracys acid test with a plea for a debate on the issue: what should be our stand on SIMI? I do welcome a debate on this issue and there is no doubt in my mind about Yogendra Yadavs integrity or his genuine concern for secularism.   

          However I would like to raise a counter question: is this question relevant at this juncture? In my previous article I made it clear that one can disagree vehemently with SIMIs ideologybut is disagreement enough for physical persecution of Muslims or even SIMI? Can one persecute for a crime under IPC sections someone who merely discusses, in private meetings, some abstract jihad, or says things like `secularism: NO; nationalism: NO? By that measure all Left parties can be taken to task for advocating at some point or the other overthrow of the Indian ruling classes or the Indian State.

          Application of constitutional law is not based on utterancesto persecute someone, first a charge has to be fixed. Like in the 1993 Mumbai I discovered a legal monstrosityapparently the Mumbai Police had booked several individuals who had the intention of taking revenge for the 1992-93 riots. But these individuals were not responsible even by the polices own charge-sheet of executing the bomb blasts on 12th March 1993. Legally, you cannot book someone for expressing the `intent, or `imagining a crime.

          Let me give an example: there were four or five different conspiracies to kill Mahatama Gandhi; but only Nathuram Ghodse committed the act of pulling the triggerwere all other individuals involved in other conspiracies booked for that one particular act of Nathuram Ghodse? Of course notbooking others for expressing the intent of doing what Ghodses did would be a legal joke.

          But the same legal joke was played on Muslims arrested for the 1993 blastsseveral were tortured; their lives were destroyed. Later, even the TADA court found `fantastic Mumbai Polices attempt to create several `chains that led to the blaststhe TADA court questioned that how could people involved in `other chains, who were unable to even execute their `designs were booked for a crime committed by a different `chain?

          Sorry to say thisbut Javed Anands comments and observations are plainly sillyand this is not a personal comment. It is a political commentin all examples given by Javed Anand there is not one, I repeat not one, instance where SIMI members are seen or heard by eye witnesses as planning specific bomb blasts or terror attacks. Eyewitnesses, merely record SIMI members as praising Bin Laden or vowing revenge for Gujaratbut since when has this become a crime in Indiawhere is the evidence that these utterances led to specific terror incidents?

          Javed Anand has failed to cite one instance of specific evidence for a specific act. One is really amazed at his naivety or deliberate attempt to mislead people when he writes that are the blasts after blasts, in city after city of India in recent years, part of the “jihad” espoused by SIMI? The investigating agencies obviously believe this to be the case. Why else would SIMI activists be routinely detained, arrested, interrogated, charge-sheeted and put on trial? Admittedly, they have yet to establish the terrorism charge against SIMI activists before any court of law in any of the blast cases.

          Note the lines I have underlinedhere Javed Anand is actually making a case that Indian agencies should be trusted Why else would SIMI activists be routinely detained, arrested, interrogated, charge-sheeted and put on trial? He writes

          Javed Anand would have retained some credibility had he at least distanced himself from security agencies. Even the Government of India is skeptical about the `secularism of its security forcesonly the RSS and the BJP and the Sangh Parivar hail security agenciesknown for persecuting, killing and torturing Muslims in particularas `heroes. So where, in which camp, does such a statement take Javed Anand?   

          Shri Yogendra Yadavs plea for a debate on SIMIs ideology shall have to wait for the right timeor it can be done in private gatheringsit cannot be made into a public issue by Indian patriots and secularists not because it will `weaken the fight against Muslim persecution. I am not in favor of such arguments. SIMIs ideology should not be made an issue simply because it is a non issue. A person is dying on the streetare we going to determine ideology before trying to save him or her?

          Another thing: the RSS would have been harmless if it had just spoken about Hindu Rashtra and the likebut since its inception, then in 1947 and then now, the RSS has worked to kill people systematically. The RSS stands in a league different from SIMI. Those disagreeing with SIMIs ideology must understand thisSIMI cannot be compared with Bajrang Dal.  Javed Anand writes that the first ban was slapped on SIMI in 2001, the chief ministers of Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan made a strong case before the NDA for a simultaneous ban on SIMI and the Bajrang Dal. And rightly so…”

          SIMIs utterances are verbal and defensive in nature; Bajrang Dal has killed women and children and boasted about thiscan they be placed at par?

          Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru categorically said that while Hindu communalism is dangerous and on the offensive, Muslim communalism is defensive in nature. Here the father of Indian secularism is clearly stating that both cannot be placed at par.

          It is the issue of placing Bajrang Dal and SIMI on one platform that is disquieting. This is not only a legal travesty but a political travesty as well. The RSS since its inception as been opposed to the creation of a secular Indiathey are the number one force responsible for partition. New research, recently declassified British secret records and documents reveal that in 1947, the `communal riots of Delhi, in which tens of thousands of Muslims were massacred, was not a riot at allit was an armed uprising staged by the RSS to kill the new Indian nation-State in its infancy and proclaim a Hindu Rashtra. The Indian army with the active backing of Nehru was used to crush this revolt.

          Now see the pattern of recent actions against SIMI activists for the Ahmedabad Blasts and the so-called `cracking of the case by Gujarat Police and Narendra Modi: in March 2008, Safdar Nagori, the supposed `head of SIMI organization is arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Policenote that the BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh. Nagori `confesses to the existence of armed camps in Gujarat. Amongst others, he `gives the names of Zahid Sheikh and Usman Agarbattiwala as SIMI associates to the MP Police.

          Now, according to a pro-Modi report written for rediff.com by some Sheela Bhatt, and corroborated by other reports in the Times of India and the Indian Express, after the July 2008 Bangalore and Ahmedabad blasts   “the Gujarat police’s databank of SIMI members in Ahmedabad had some names including that of Zahid Sheikh. They picked him up and started interrogating him extensively.

`He is a fanatic. He is not a Gujarati, he is not an Indian. He claims he is merely a soldier of Islam. These accused don’t belong to even their own families,’ said a source in the police.

`You will have to understand the identity of the perpetrators of the bomb blasts’. Their `transnational identity itself is an anti-national act’, says one of the interrogators”.

          Just note the pattern here—the Gujarat Police just picks up the databank they have on SIMI members and arrest Zahid Sheikh because his name was given by Safdar Nagori during his March interrogation! Just that! No other evidence! Sheikh is presumed guilty and `transnational’ only because he says `he says that he is a soldier of Islam’!

          Similarly, a Baroda officer of the Gujarat Police   got from the databank a file on SIMI activists living in Baroda. The blue file had a professionally prepared dossier on SIMI activists, and the opening page featured Usman Agarbattiwala complete with his photograph.

Asthana went through the accompanying details like Agarbattiwala’s telephone numbers, his work, background and the names of all his relatives that were in the dossier.

Immediately, details of Agarbattiwala’s telephone calls, both made and received, were procured. It took relentless work through day and night to make the chart of the most frequently made calls from his phone. They were then narrowed down and owners of those numbers were detected and, in turn, the printouts of those phone calls were procured. A professional hard work done with the help of computers in the police headquarters in Kothi area yielded fantastic results.

Asthana’s team created a cluster of cell phone movement among select persons. These movements were finally narrowed down to Agarbattiwala, Kayamuddin Kapadia, Imran Sheikh and Iqbal Sheikh. In no time Agarbattiwala, Imran and Iqbal were picked up. Along with others Joint Commissioner of Police Pravin Kumar Sinha and inspector Karimbhai Polra played an important role in Asthana’s team.

The first copy of the interrogation report was sent to the Ahmedabad team which was narrowing down on local SIMI activists including Zahid Sheikh. Agarbattiwala’s cracking proved very crucial. Bhatia and Chudasama cracked Zahid Sheikh as much as they could. In Baroda, Iqbal was a new entrant to SIMI ranks but some of the detainees were tough nuts to crack who had undergone special training to withstand police methods. On the basis of the early lead provided by the interrogations in Baroda and Ahmedabad, teams of Gujarat police travelled to Kerala, Mumbai, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka to collect a variety of documentary evidence.

By August 8-9, Modi knew his state police was just days away from success that has eluded the police in other Indian states wracked by terrorism”.

          This fawning, pro-Modi article, a farce in the name of journalism, lets the cat out of the bag. In every case, Police officers just had to check the SIMI databank or connect phonecalls and presto—they had their culprit! How much more ridiculous can you get? The fact remains that even Safdar Nagori’s confession to the MP police is suspect—Nagori was tortured and his appeal is lying before the courts. So how can the police arrest Zahid and Agarbattiwala?

          Then the Gujarat Police goes to UP—and picks up Abu Bashar—because he too is linked with SIMI! And now Abu Bashar is the mastermind!

          The kind of story the Gujarat Police has made up makes one’s head spin—the Maharashtra Police did the same thing after the 1993 blasts and several blasts hence. They have not been able to prove even one, repeat even one, of their stories in a court of law.

          Now while Muslims are being picked up in SIMI’s name, the lead shown by the email sent through Ken Haywood’s email is allowed to go cold—in fact the Gujarat Police says that SIMI activists hacked into Haywood’s system!    

          Who is this Haywood? The mail sent by `Indian Mujheedin’ claiming responsibility for the Ahmedabad blasts, came from his computer. The investigative agencies knew of this on 26th July—what was the need to give a clean chit to Haywood? Why was he allowed to flee India? Why was his passport not impounded?

Here is a profile of Haywood’s background and that of his Company, issued by an American website: “Campbell White is the name of the Company…Campbell White’s MD is pastor Dan Rubianes, the head of the Door Christian Centre…a church with origins in Arizona in the US but relatively new to India. Door Christian Centre is a part of the Pentecostal Christian Fellowship Ministries, also known as the Potter’s House. Haywood is a functionary of the Potter’s House in Mumbai”.

Moreover, the Indian Express found that the Mumbai office of the MNC is located in two small adjoining rented rooms on the ground floor of Sanpada railway station complex in Navi Mumbai. The two rooms also serve as prayer rooms on Sundays and Thursdays for the Potter’s House. A notice pasted on the wall says the community service has been cancelled until further notice and is signed by Haywood.

The Express continued, explaining that “physical and Internet-based checks on other past and present employees of Campbell White like Scott Grabowska, a former Mumbai-based international protocol trainer, David Curwen-Walker, a senior operations manager, and Jonathan Heimberg, a senior information services manager, both in Bangalore, have shown links to the church. For instance, Curwen-Walker and Heimberg head the Door churches at Kammanahalli and Koramangala in Bangalore.”

The American website asks: “this is all very good stuff, but if the Indian press had been doing its job it could have circulated this information on the day that Haywood was linked to the Ahmedabad bombs. Still, the American press has been even worse, with the only coverage of Haywood’s curious case being a short piece in the Kingman Daily Miner.

          I would ask Shri Yogendra Yadav—what is all this? Is it not becoming apparent that there is a dubious company with a dubious foreign-Christian-evangelist-American background somewhere linked to the terror attacks? Now in India things have come to this—that Indian Muslims will be persecuted on imaginary links with SIMI but foreign nationals will be let off! The Haywood angle at least ought to have been investigated.

          By saying that despite disagreeing with SIMI, the organization cannot be put at par with the RSS or the Bajrang Dal, I think I have made my position clear on a vital issue on which Mr. Yogendra Yadav wanted some discussion; but what about Haywood and the ridiculous manner in which Zahid Sheikh, or Agarbattiwala or Abu Bashar were picked up?

          It would be of great service to the nation if Shri Yogendra Yadav picks up his pen or his laptop, and conducts his own investigations to write a detailed story of the ongoing `SIMI being terrorist’ farce in any one of India’s national newspapers or magazines. 

The SIMI question: Indian democracy’s acid test

August 21, 2008

The SIMI question: Indian democracy’s acid test

 

                                                              

By Amaresh Misra

 

 

          The lifting of the ban on SIMI by the Special Tribunal constituted under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2006, headed presently by Justice Geeta Mittal, needs to be welcomed by all secular Indians.

 

The persecution meted out to SIMI cadres during the past 15 years is nothing short of a legal scandal; the recent Tehelka story on the subject paints a frightening story of deliberate negligence, blatant disregard of the rule of law, violation of constitutional and civil rights of Indian citizens and cynicism towards the secular ideology of the Indian nation-state, by functionaries of Indian State agencies themselves. In the name of combating SIMI, ordinary Muslims were demonized, picked up from their homes in broad daylight, given third and fourth degree tortures and made to `confess’ to `crimes’ that were never proven. It is therefore painful to see so called secularists like Javed Anand taking—at this juncture, when some legal relief to beleaguered Muslims of India seems to be in sight, and when it is becoming apparent that the bomb blast phenomenon in India is a handiwork of communal elements in State services and the RSS-Sangh Parivar—the Urdu media and Muslim organizations to task for welcoming a plainly legal judgment!

 

          The Supreme Court since then has stayed the lifting of the ban—and this seems to give comfort to Mr. Javed Anand! Mr. Anand has failed totally in distinguishing between support for SIMI’s ideology and opposing persecution of Muslims in SIMI’s name. One can remain deadly opposed to SIMI’s ideology—but if a secularist or a leftist fails to welcome the lifting of the ban on SIMI then he or she is either willfully ignorant or willfully supportive of the Indian brand of fascism.

 

          Several quotes form Lenin and Mao can be presented to prove the point that leftists have to stand up for persecuted religious minorities irrespective of the ideologies of their representative or fringe organizations. But in India of late some pseudo or fake version of secularism has gained currency. Mr. Anand raises the question of going beyond the `law’ and seeing the SIMI threat on the `ideological’ plane; Mr. Yogendra Yadav in his reply to Mr. Ghulam Muhammad’s very reasonable riposte to Mr. Javed Anand goes one step further to say that there is `truth’ beyond `law’!

 

          Come on, people—are we discussing philosophy, the nature of truth etc. here? What kind of ridiculous levels are we descending to? Mr. Javed Anand and Mr. Yogendra Yadav ought to answer two questions: whether the ban on SIMI was justified on legal grounds? Just a simple Yes or No—and whether the lifting of the ban is as per the spirit of the Indian constitution—again a simple Yes or No; there are no other issues involved—the Urdu media has been at the forefront of fighting all anti-national conspiracies; it is more patriotic than the Indian English media for sure. There are several stories which the Urdu media highlighted and which the English media picked up later—the Urdu media began the whole debate around the non-implementation of the Sri Krishna committee in 2007-2008; the English media picked up the theme later.

 

          When the Urdu media welcomes the lifting the ban on SIMI, it is acting not as a `Muslim media’ but as a responsible `Indian media’ conscious about the constitutional rights of all Indian citizens. The Urdu media was vocal about Muslim persecution in India not because Urdu is spoken and read largely by Muslims, but because they realized the unconstitutional nature of that persecution. The Urdu media in the 1990s has also been very vocal on atrocities on Dalits and the OBCs. It has carried long campaigns against several ills within the Muslim society, including the spread of ideas which even faintly suggest terrorism of any kind. Its nationalist and secular credentials are beyond doubt. The Government of India has had to consistently support the Urdu media and shield it from vicious attacks from communal forces because of this very reason.

 

          There was an attempt by communal elements in the Maharashtra State administration to book a journalist called Danish Riyaz in July 11 2006 Mumbai blasts; Danish was used to put pressure on the Urdu Times, which had spoken out consistently against minority persecution in general; one can cite several such instances.

 

          It is people, like Javed Anand who need to be a taught a lesson in secularism. They represent a section which makes fun of Muslim religious beliefs in the name of secularism—they shed crocodile tears over Muslim persecution without once daring to confront the RSS head on—have Javed Anand or Javed Akhtar or Yogendra Yadav been able to stand up against the RSS on any public platform? The RSS loves them for they represent some caricature of secularism, which can easily be used to paint secularism as against religion and Muslim appeasement.

 

          Defending the constitutional rights of Muslims is a political question—today in India, the ideology of SIMI etc is a non issue. The real issue is whether we will allow the RSS-Sangh Parivar and other fascist forces to derail the idea of India as a secular republic.

 

Mr. Javed Anand therefore stands guilty of creating an issue where there is none and therefore helping the RSS indirectly. Anti-religiosity has never been the hallmark of Indian secularism—in fact in the Indian context anti-religious secularism has always ended up as being friends of fascism which too is anti-religious; in fact, the pseudo-westernized culture of the Indian secular elite has been responsible to a great degree for the rise of the RSS; what India needs is indigenous secularism, of the Ganga-Yamuni Tehzeeb variety.

 

Recently, when the Shankarcharya of Puri attacked Narendra Modi for dividing Hindus and Muslims and for planting bombs in Gujarat to defame and persecute Muslims, Mr. Javed Anand or Mr. Yogendra Yadav did not come forward to welcome the statement. Here was a golden opportunity to harness the liberal tradition within the mainstream, the anti-RSS majority Sanatan Dharma Hindu element, to the cause of secularism. But people like Mr. Javed Anand and Mr. Yogendra Yadav of course, have no conviction in the power of the Shankaracharyas to fight the RSS. They do not realize that India has remained secular for so long, that in a Hindu majority country like India, Hindutva fascists have failed to secure more than 20% votes ever, because of the pro-Muslim nature of Sanatan Dharma, which had allied with Islam during the Mughal era and in 1857.

 

          Papers like Indian Express stand guilty of going against their own traditions of fearless journalism. I have contributed a lot to Indian Express’ edit page, mostly on themes like 1857. But any article against Muslim persecution has been shot down. I am saying this openly and blaming the Indian Express edit page editor Saubhik Chakravarty and Shekhar Gupta for their subtle and not so subtle anti-Muslim biases. Somewhere down the line, every pseudo-westernized Hindu holds an unexplained grudge against Muslims. This translates into biases in the media. I am a member of the Governing Council of the ICSSR. And if I can be published on several issues and rejected on issues of Muslim persecution, then you can imagine the treatment a Muslim journalist gets in the Indian Express.

 

          So it is true that the Indian `secular’ English media suffers from a pro-Hindutva bias. Even a rookie journalist will tell you that. A legal case has to be brought out against the Indian Express and the Times of India. India needs tough anti-defamation and anti-discrimination laws, where people would have the right to sue the Indian Express and the Times of India.        

 

One has to understand that in India secularism has been protected by the `illiterate’, non-westernized peasants and the common sense of the ordinary Indian. Indian/Hindu modernism and modernists have surrendered before fascism; on the contrary Indian/Hindu tradition and traditionalists have fought against the RSS. This dialectics needs to be understood—the soul of India needs to be understood in the fight against fascism. For fascists are pseudo-modernists of a different variety. And they fear not modernism but the everyday religious-traditional-political consciousness of the Hindu and Muslim Indian peasant.   

 

         Right now also it is not some so called secularist but a traditional politician like Digvijay Singh, the ex-CM of MP, who in an interview given to Tehelka, has openly spoken about the BJP-VH-RSS making bombs in India—Mr. Singh has said also that he has direct evidence in this matter. But of course, why would Mr. Javed Anand or Mr. Yogendra Yadav write on this, or welcome Mr. Singh’s statement or demand an enquiry into the role of RSS in the bomb blasts that have been rocking India? And why would the Indian Express publish any such thing?  

August 7, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

 

WHAT A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE IN INDIA!

 

ON THE BASIS OF A POLICE OFFICER’S REPORT, A MUSLIM STUDENT’S ORGANISATION IS BANNED BY THE EXTREMIST HINDUTVA LEADER L. K. ADVANI, WHOSE OWN ORGANISATION HAS PLAYED HAVOC WITH PEOPLES LIFE. ADVANI HIMSELF IS TO BE PROSECUTED OVER HIS ROLE IN THE DEMOLITION OF BABRI MASJID AND THE MASSACRES OF MUSLIM THAT FOLLOWED. SINCE WHEN A POLICE OFFICER’S WORD HAS BECOME LAW OF THE LAND!

 

THIS POLICE OFFICER’S REPORT WAS NEVER JUDGED FOR VERACITY AND OVER THE ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF JUST FOUR INDIVIDUALS, THE THEN HOME MINISTER, L. K. ADVANI, BANS AN ALL INDIA MUSLIM ORGANISATION ON THE SPURIOUS ALLEGATIONS OF TERROR.

 

SUBSEQUENTLY, HUNDREDS OF SIMI MEMBERS WERE ARRESTED AND TORTURE FOR POSTHOMOUSLY BELONGING TO A ‘BANNED’ ‘TERRORIST’ ORGANISATION.

 

INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS SHOULD NOT BE A PARTY TO A WITCH-HUNT OF INDIAN MUSLIMS AND FOLLOW THE CRIMINAL ABUSE OF POWER BY THE BJP LED NDA COALITION GOVERNMENT OF THE PAST.

 

IT SHOULD DO JUSTICE. IT SHOULD NOT GET BROW-BEATEN BY FASCIST PARIVAR TO SUBVERT THE LAW OF THE LAND, IN LETTER AND IN SPIRIT.

 

GHULAM MUHAMMED, MUMBAI

 

 

 

 

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Daily/skins/MM/navigator.asp?Daily=MMIR&login=default

 

 

 

SIMI was banned on the basis of this officer’s report

   

SP SARANG AWAD

 

Then Deputy Superintendent of Police Sarang Awad’s report had revealed SIMI’s involvement in anti-India activities

 

DEEPTIMAN TIWARY

 

 

   The Delhi High Court order on Tuesday lifted the ban on Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The news shocked Sarang Awad, Superintendent of Police (Highway Patrol), the officer on whose report the Centre issued a notification banning SIMI under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2001.

 

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

 

The Nagpur police in 2000 had got information that terror elements were planning to blow up the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in the city. After explosives were found at the site, a hunt was launched to find the people behind the act.

 

   A breakthrough in the case came when the Jalgaon police headed by then Dy SP Sarang Awad in May 2001 arrested four men with explosives and subversive literature. On interrogation, they revealed that they were SIMI activists, and that one of them, Sheikh Shakeel Sheikh Annan, was the president of SIMI’s Jalgaon unit. They also revealed that before planting the explosives near the RSS headquarters, they had crossed the border at Kashmir and received training from terror outfits.

 

   Awad who was the complainant and investigating officer of the case said, “We found a lot of subversive literature in Urdu and Arabic urging Muslims to join a jihad. We also found a diary with names and phone numbers of people from across the border.”

 

   Police investigations also revealed that the operatives had exchanged emails with groups across the border. Later, many operatives who were involved in the conspiracy, were arrested from Kashmir and Delhi.

 

REPORT CAUSES BAN

 

After filing the charge-sheet, Awad made a report on SIMI’s increasing involvement in subversive activities, which was forwarded to the Union government. When the Union Home Ministry, then led by L K Advani, received the report, establishing SIMI’s involvement in anti-India activities, it issued a notification banning the organisation for two years. Awad said, “We established that the accused were active SIMI members as their bank accounts were receiving funds from the SIMI unit in Delhi and Bihar. We showed SIMI’s links across the border and its activities inside the country. We had shown how educated youngsters had been imparted training in making bombs. We had solid evidence which would stand in any court and that’s why most of the accused got convicted in the case.” Awad concluded by saying, “The outfit has been a big threat to our internal security — at least that’s what I found when I prepared the report.”

 

July 31, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

 

 

 

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

 

 

Sushma Swaraj breaks the conspiracy of silence

 

 

 

Incensed by the blatant display of defiance, the serial bomb blast, however symbolic they may be, in the two BJP ruled state, within days of BJP’s humiliating defeat in Lok Sabha trust vote, when several of its own members, so famously committed to BJP/RSS Hindutva ideology, defected to UPA side, Sushma Swaraj public statement during a TV interview was long on coming.

 

 

She directly blamed Congress for the bomb blasts in Gujarat. According to reports she alleged that the weekend blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad were a conspiracy to divert attention from the ‘cash-for-vote’ scandal. She said: The blasts are a conspiracy to divert attention from the cash-for-vote scandal, claiming that the incidents took place just a few days after the government won the trust vote. With a note of finality she added: “These are not off-the-cuff remarks. I mean what I say.”

 

 

 

Coming from a front-ranking Member of Parliament of the opposition, blaming the ruling Congress party for organizing serial bomb blasts, in two highly industrialized states in India, where BJP is now ruling, it shook the whole political establishment in India. Fresh from the open resort to horse-trading in MPs switching over from various opposition parties, the blame of actually organizing bomb blasts in which Indian citizens were killed and injured is something Congress can hardly stomach lying low. It apparently showed how far the two major political groups have fallen apart in as much as both are blaming each other for high criminal acts of massacres of innocent people through mass murder devices.

 

 

 

However much it may be said, that while both the parties have gone over board in blaming each other, there can be no smoke without fire. Even though the outraged media, from Times of India to Indian Express, Economic Times, Asian Age, Hindustan Times, Free Press Journal, all wrote editorials on the appalling nature of Sushma charges, all their efforts to paper over the crimes of the past, could hardly be suppressed.

 

 

 

In fact, Congress has been widely known in Muslim circles, to be in active collaboration if not actually using RSS cadre, to organize communal riots, targeting Muslims all around the country, throughout the 60 years of independence and even during freedom struggle days. The Rajeshwar Dayal episode is all on record.

 

 

 

The Sushma Swaraj outburst is more credible, as Samajwadi Party has now joined Congress in the new bail out arrangement and the proximity of SIMI to Samajwadi Party who had lifted the ban of them in Uttar Pradesh when they were in power there, could be a new alternative to Hindutva cadre that Congress can now use as muscle power, whenever it may need them. It is this factor that is intensely galling to the BJP. It is the cry of the jilted.

 

 

 

For all practical purpose, the war on India that Narendra Modi, has spoken about has turned into a civil war and common people will be mute victims of the spectacular changes in Indian polity from now on, much more bloody, much more ruinous, much more divisive than India has seen in the past. As they say, chickens have come home to roost.

 

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

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

 

 

 

Muslims should think and vote regional – By Ghulam Muhammed

June 1, 2008

Sunday, June 01, 2008

 

 

Muslims should think and vote regional

 

By Ghulam Muhammed

 

Karnataka election victory of BJP has started a media frenzy to predict the imminent doom of Indian National Congress. All sorts of calculations are projected to nail the point that Congress is sure to lose the next Lok Sabha elections and BJP and its allies will form the next government at the center.

 

The whole scenario points to regionalization of Indian politics. The national stature of Indian National Congress has been declining since the demolition of Babri Masjid and the Muslim voters’ rejection of Congress as their true friend and ally, in confrontation with Hindutva and RSS forces. Like Congress, Indian Muslims too had an all India presence and this factor had immensely benefited Congress to maintain its national presence and relevance. With each election after the imposition of PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh team on Congress and the nation, the all India presence is being challenged not by BJP as clear alternative, but more regional parties. States have realized that Congress and/or any other National party, is seriously handicapped in being responsive to the genuine needs of one or other state, while it has to look to other states clamouring for similar sops. The resulting deadlock, or indefinite postponement of vital decisions so crucial to individual states, damages the credibility or bona fide of the national party.

 

When a Raj Thackeray comes out with sons of the soil demand, mere platitude about national integrity would not suffice. The rat race in on! Some states have already got cozy niche in Central government, while others are waiting their turn as the next change of coalition equation.

 

Under such circumstance, Indian Muslims too should think regional. They should identify themselves with local strong groups, rather than the political parties with national ambitions, especially those with Brahminical leadership — like Congress, BJP or CPM.

 

The current TMM campaign to get old Nawab Masjid in Vellore Fort, open for prayers, shows how Congress being a national party, had to play divisive communal politics of the worst kind when ASI under central jurisdiction, finds it convenient to allow a temple and a church to be handed over to their respective group while refusing the same yardstick of justice for Muslims. The injustice is so glaring that Congress leadership just cannot defend its communal policy with any degree of reasonable excuses. This is a case of high crime of communal discrimination against Muslims. However, Congress worry is not confined to only Tamil Nadu. It is apprehensive that if it gives in now to the just Muslim demands in Tamil Nadu, that would become precedent all over India. Being a national party it cannot afford to lose its bigger constituency of Hindu communalists, while ‘appeasing’ the Muslims in Tamil Nadu. It is time, therefore, for Muslims to relieve the Congress of this onerous duty to be just and appear to appease the Muslims, and shift their votes to regional parties, with whom they can be in a better position to bargain. Let Muslims and Congress not be emotional about such a parting of the way; as it is in the best interest of the nation, that the straitjacket of pseudo-secularism that Congress is wearing, should no longer force it to deny justice and fair-play to the Muslims.

 

Muslims however, should be very very vigilant that they keep out of the dragnet of Brahmin formations. Each and every political grouping, if dominated by the high-caste, like even BSP should be summarily rejected. Muslims should only cooperate with OBC and Dalits and SC/ST, to the complete exclusion of the criminal gang of exploiters, that will not relinquish their stranglehold on levers of power and pelf, unless they are clearly, publicly identifies and ostracized, just as they themselves ostracized the Dalits and the Malechas.

 

Muslim organisations, like Jamiatul Ulama, Jamaat e Islami, Mushawarat, Milli Council together with regional Muslim organisations should openly go regional. The Delhi based Muslim organisations should be humble enough to cooperate and even accept the leadership of regional Muslim organisations, especially from South and East. They should together come out with their favorites in each state, right from the very beginning of the campaigns that are now in full swing.

 

The first order of priority is not to think that Congress is our only saviour. All Brahmins think alike. If Congress has its Babri, BJP has its Gujarat, CPM has its Nandigram. All such crimes should be punished at the ballot box and better take care of the ballot box rigging too.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com