Posts Tagged ‘Indian Express’

Tavleen Singh’s lesson to Obama – By Ghulam Muhammed

June 8, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Tavleen Singh’s lesson to Obama

Tavleen Singh’s article: Osama needs some more lessons in Islam, published in The Indian Express, is like the dropping of the second shoe, without which Indiawould not have slept that night. 

The resounding silence that could be heard all across the Indian nation, while the world tuned in to Obama’s speech at Cairo boldly and generously embracing Muslim world, was more painful in the backdrop of the most successful marginalization of Muslims in India

Tavleen Singh,. a writer famous for her thin skin as far as Islam and Muslims are concerned, was typical of the ultra jingoists, who could hardly breath, while world’s lone super power, had engaged the Muslim world so publicly and so passionately  and offering them a new strategic alliance for the peace of the world. 

The name of the emotion that gripped a section of the Hindutva elements was nothing but  sheer jealousy. 

How can they tolerate that the Muslims who had ‘brutalized’ the Hindu over centuries and now finally been successfully divided in three parts in the sub-continent so as to render them insignificant in the comity of nations, should be given so much attention, so much lauding, so much importance that bordered on virtual call for peace negotiation after a virtual defeat that stared the US in the face. And all because of a handful of al Qaida ‘terrorists’, who seems to have pinned down their mighty army in these God-forsaken lands!

What a sudden change of fortune. It was only yesterday, when India was in love with President Bush and America‘s Jewish lobby has been working overtime to favour India, in its quest to find a new strategic partnership with their country and a new set of close relationship with Israel, ensuring billions of dollars worth of defense rearmament. In this equation, India‘s own 150 million Muslim were so totally marginalized, as if they deserved to be punished for their crimes of the past.

So it was a nightmare for the likes of Tavleen Singh to finish watching the worldwide telecast of Obama speech without him mentioning neither India nor the Hindus, even once in his hour long love fest with Islam. For TOI Washington correspondence, it was a relief that Obama left out Kashmir in his speech.

Tavleen had to react by puking her bile and offering her unsolicited lessons in Islam to the untutored Obama. Indian Express site mentions that her diatribe was the most emailed article of the day. Doubtless she has legions of supporters, who felt just like her, dejected and ignored, if not betrayed.

However, this is the worst case of insecurity and inferiority complex being so blatantly displayed in India‘s English media. India need not have cringed. It is great nation and it has great destiny ahead, if only it comes out of its exclusivity shell.

In the event, the world will not ignore India‘s adverse reaction to Obama speech.India and Israel were the only two nations in the world that had come out against Obama’s opening towards Islam. Israel’s reasons are obvious; India’s reasons are still obscure to the world.

Indian Muslims are a far cry from the Osama brigade and even though they have been institutionally discriminated against and reduced to the worst of the lot, they have remained peaceful all throughout the last 60 years of Indian’s freedom from the British.

In the recent elections, they had reverted to tactical support to Indian National Congress, which came out with a manifestly large clutch of parliamentary seats that virtually enabled it to dictate its terms to coalition partners. Though all around the nation media and intelligentsia are openly mentioning how Muslim support to Congress has turned the tide for Congress, the arrogant Congress leaders have yet to find the courage to cultivate the magnanimity to acknowledge Muslim debt and offer them their rightful place in the political formations.

Now that Obama has shown a different mode of reassessing the Muslim world and Islam, Indian leadership is demonstrably peeved. Only reckless commentators are wallowing in their own grief and writing poison articles. That can not delay the morn that is bound to break out from within this dark night of bigotry and prejudice.

Indian Express did try to balance the reactions to Obama’s Cairo speech on Islam, by publishing the next article by Sudheendra Kulkarni, on the same page. It is remarkable, how a liberal turned Hindutvadi had gathered up the courage to call for a positive engagement with the Muslims, even to his own extremist Hindutva party which finds itself at a dead end while stuck in the rut of hate and prejudice.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

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http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Obama-needs-some-more-lessons-in-Islam/472601

on, 8 Jun 2009

 

 Obama needs some more lessons in Islam

Tavleen SinghPosted: Sunday , Jun 07, 2009 at 0342 hrs IST

 

 

 

The day before President Obama set off to win Muslim hearts and minds last week, I had an interesting conversation about Islam with a Lebanese gentleman and his wife. I met them at a discourse by an ex-Buddhist monk who smiled a lot and talked of happiness. It was when he said that all religions were the same that trouble began. An Indian friend I was with pointed out that Indian religions did not urge believers to rush off and brutalise (or convert) the nearest unbeliever while Islam did. This made the Lebanese lady angry and she stomped off asserting that the Koran said ‘to each his own belief’.

Then her husband got really angry when the subject of women’s rights came up. He said the Prophet of Islam had given more rights to women than anyone ever. I pointed out that what was progressive fourteen hundred years ago may not be progressive today. Many Islamic countries continue to declare nine as the age of consent for girls because the Prophet’s wife Ayesha was nine. I drew his attention to the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia (the Prophet’s native place) and reminded him that 60 girls were burned alive in a hostel some years ago because the morality police would not let them out unveiled. This infuriated him. “What about Mumbai,” he said, “where they sell the eyes and liver of young girls. If you hit on Saudi Arabia I will hit on Mumbai.”

I recount this exchange to make the point that when it comes to winning hearts and minds, the exercise must happen both ways. It is not just President Obama who should be required to do all the ‘outreaching’; the Muslim world has its share to do as well. Why should Saudi Arabia be allowed to get away with funding virulent strains of Islam in countries like ours? Why should Pakistan get away with textbooks that teach school children about ‘evil’ Hindus and Jews? Why should Pakistan get away with releasing Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed?

What is the point of fighting the Taliban in Swat and Waziristan if you can release the man who created the Lashkar-e-Toiba? The organisation he created has been declared a terrorist organisation not just by us but by the United States. It has been responsible for terrorist acts on Indian soil, including the attack on Mumbai. By any standards, that makes Sayeed a terrorist. If Pakistan were serious about fighting Islamist terrorism, they would have charged Sayeed with the crime of starting a terrorist organisation. Even before Mumbai was attacked.

The jihad did not appear one morning out of a clear blue sky. It happened because of a system of education in most Islamic countries that perpetuates the idea that Islam is the best thing that happened to mankind and that pluralism is wrong in Allah’s eyes. As for us happy idol-worshipping types, we are doomed to damnation. This idea is in direct conflict with the Indian idea of ‘sarva dharma samabhaava’. But, it is more than just religion that is the problem.

The Islamic sense of grievance is now so confused that the Americans are blamed for ‘abandoning’ Afghanistan after the Russians were defeated. Now that they are back, they are blamed for interfering in Islamic affairs. In the Middle East the stated objective of the jihad is to obliterate Israel but if Israel attempts to resist this fate it is charged with being brutal to Palestinians. It may not be politically correct to say this but the truth is that there could have been a solution in Palestine decades ago if Yasser Arafat had not been corrupt and amoral. The peace treaty that nearly got signed when Bill Clinton was President was as good as anything President Obama will be able to deliver. Do Palestinians ask why it did not go through?

What saddened me most about President Obama’s speech was that without actually apologising for America’s mistakes he made it sound as if all the mistakes were on one side. It would have been nice when he mentioned American mistakes if he had mentioned a few made by Islamic countries. Pakistan ran a black market in nuclear bombs. Saudi money builds madrasas in Indian villages that poison our happy heathen atmosphere. The war with the United States was started by Osama bin Laden. India is under constant threat from terrorist groups that continue to be nurtured by the Pakistani state. The release of Sayeed is proof. And, the reaction of President Obama’s government is to give Pakistan more aid than ever before.

President Obama seems not to know that there are more Muslims in the Indian sub-continent than anywhere and that we lived in relative harmony till Saudi money started to fund Wahabi Islam.

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http://www.indianexpress.com/news/obamas-candour-in-timeless-cairo/472603/

 

Obama’s candour in timeless Cairo


Sudheendra Kulkarni

Posted: Sunday , Jun 07, 2009 at 0344 hrs IST


Barack Obama’s speech in Egypt on Thursday is quite simply one of the most important articulations by any world leader on the relationship between Islam and the West—indeed, between Islam and the rest of the world. The first sentence in his speech—”I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo”—is, outwardly, a tribute to the hoary civilisational past of the country and its capital. But the choice of the word ‘timeless’ also befits several themes and thoughts that flow through the speech like meandering River Nile. It is heartening to see the president of the United States approach many global issues, including issues that have created a problematic relationship between America and the Muslim community, from the standpoint of truth and justice. He made the Holy Koran’s injunction “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth” the touchstone of his speech and said, “That is what I will try to do—to speak the truth as best I can.” Like ‘truth’, the word ‘justice’ figured several times in his long, 5,802-word speech.

 

Obama’s choice of Egypt for delivering his much-anticipated address to the Muslim world, and his resolve to be candid and honest, reminded me of what the late Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt’s greatest novelist, said in his speech while accepting the Nobel Prize in 2006. “I am the son of two civilisations that at a certain age in history have formed a happy marriage. The first of these, seven thousand years old, is the Pharaonic civilisation; the second, one thousand four hundred years old, is the Islamic one¿Gone now is that (first) civilization—a mere story of the past. One day the great Pyramid will disappear too. But Truth and Justice will remain for as long as Mankind has a ruminative mind and a living conscience.”

 

Obama’s speech reached the heights of greatness because he recognised both the mortality of human beings and the immortality of the ideals that ought to guide the journey of humanity. “All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time,” he observed, and added words derived from the wisdom of the ages: “The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort—a sustained effort—to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.”

 

He seemed sincere in his soul-searching. “It is easier to start wars than to end them; it is easier to blame others than to look inward.” He almost admitted that America’s war on Iraq was wrong. Stating that his policy would be “Leave Iraq to Iraqis”, he added, “I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources.” This is music to the ears of many fair critics of America. And so also is what he said on the other war that the US is engaged in. “Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonising for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.”

 

Obama is entitled to saying that “We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security.” But we in India will judge him and his administration on the basis of whether they address the root of the problem, which is that terrorists in Pakistan are, and have all along been, protected and patronised by its military rulers. If the US is entitled to worry about, and take suitable steps for, its own security because “al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11”, isn’t India, which has lost 20 times more people in attacks by Pak-based terrorists over the past nearly three decades, even more entitled to do the same? This is a question that Indians must keep asking our American friends. And it is also a question that India must be ready to answer on its own.

 

Obama’s Cairo speech covered a broad array of issues, from religious freedom to women’s empowerment, from the tensions between globalisation and religious-cultural identities to the need to move towards a nuclear weapons-free world. He was most impassioned on the imperative to end the Israel-Palestine conflict on the basis of fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of both sides. “Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.” I, a Hindu, await that day as keenly as any peace-loving Jew, Christian or Muslim.

 

I found two things missing in Obama’s speech. Firstly, he did not explore, even tangentially, the theological roots of religious intolerance and extremism. Secondly, he nowhere mentioned India in his descriptive, analytical or normative narrative. After all, India is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world. More important, in its own 1,400-year-old interaction with Islam, India has changed it in ways that would certainly interest Obama. And unlike Egypt, India’s pre-Islamic civilisation or spirituality did not simply vanish in this interaction. In talking about the “proud tradition of tolerance” in Islam, Obama says, “We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today.” Mr. Obama, if Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, presents a tolerant picture of Islam, it certainly has something to do with the civilisational and spiritual history of India.

 

(Write to: sudheenkulkarni@gmail.com)


 

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REJOINDER TO SEEMA CHISTI’S INDIAN EXPRESS ARTICLE: IT’S ABOUT TERROR, NOT SACHAR – By Ghulam Muhammed

December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

REJOINDER TO SEEMA CHISTI’S INDIAN EXPRESS ARTICLE: IT’S ABOUT TERROR, NOT SACHAR

Ms. Chisti had been very perceptive in making out the subterranean intent of the West’s double-game of sympathizing with India over Mumbai terror attacks while at the same time picking up the most sensitive sore spot in our nation’s 60-year history: the plight of Indian Muslims, to work over India.

However, Indian observers should not be surprised over West’s strategies in undermining India. They have done it in the past. And both Hindus and Muslims did not realise the enormity of the western colonists’ ‘divide and rule’ tactics. Both, Hindus and Muslims went their separate ways and suffered immensely for their mistake.

It will be pertinent, if I take this point and put it in more descriptive perspective. The fault-line between Hindus and Muslims has been the gift of the British, from early nineteenth century. Later, it was Lala Lajpat Rai, a prominent Hindu activist, who wrote a 11-part article in Tribune, back in 1923. It was the first enunciation of the two-nation theory. Muslim thinkers and social activists too started a movement on the lines of separation of the two communities, each fully stressing its own aspirations and grievances. However, even with the formation of a Muslim League, the Muslim agitation for their rightful share in the governance of their country did not take the menacing shape until Jinnah took over, and that too on the behind the scene support from the British.

In the end, it was the British and their new overlords, the US, that decided that they could not leave India completely and they have to have a part of India under their open or proxy control to take care of their geopolitical interests in this part of globe, where ‘oil wells’ were to help re-usher the reconstruction boom in Europe and Soviet Russia has to be stopped in its souther advances. It was Churchill that expressly advised the visiting Viceroy, Lord Wavell, to keep a part for us. That part to later become ‘Pakistan’. They teamed up with Jinnah, who sold ‘that part’ to Muslim masses as their new Islamic country. The argument put forward that Muslims can never get justice from the Brahmins and Banias. They must have their own land to enjoy their freedom of religion and freedom of economic choices. (Refer to Narendra Singh Sarila’s important book: The untold story of Partition).

A similar situation is clearly visible now at this present juncture. The West is desperate to take over the continent once again for its own global geopolitical ambitions, as a staging ground to usher in the New World Order. It will not rest, till it has achieved its goal. Our empty-headed pragmatists of the kind of Advani, Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, have yet to realise that there is no free lunch. India will have to pay for all the benevolence showered by the West. The working over Muslim plight in India and Kashmir will be the chosen weapon in the hands of the Axis, to `on one hand gain the sympathy of the Muslims of the subcontinent for their support, and at the other hand mount pressure on India, to hand over its sovereignty bit by bit, at every turn of the screw.

It is, therefore, time for both the communities to recall the incidents of the past and unite. Hindus must realise that there is a limit to the ‘benign neglect’ of Muslim minority in their midst. They must move unabashedly, admit their short-coming and ‘appease’ Muslims. Only then, Indians will have the confidence to face the West, with any degree of resolve. We must not let the West exploit our differences. While Muslims have become accustomed to a discriminated existence in their own land, the change for redressal should come from Hindus, so that we face the enemy unitedly.

There will be many a Hindu, who will say that our real enemy is Muslim and not the West. That will be a very short sighted thinking. They will have to go back to history to grasp the enormity of the changes that the Western axis is demanding of India. Only a united India can face their pressures and their machinations. So I will applaud Seema Chisti to have read between the lines, but ask her to come out with our own considered response to the Western designs on India. With only one caveat: It need not have to be a Left oriented solution, as they are woefully at the fringes of our polity.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

http://www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/its-about-terror-not-sachar/395404/0

EDITORIALS FROM SOME OF MUMBAI’S ENGLISH NEWSPAPERS

November 28, 2008

EDITORIALS FROM SOME OF MUMBAI’S ENGLISH NEWSPAPERS:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Editorial/EDITORIAL_COMMENT__Its_War/articleshow/3766472.cms

EDITORIAL COMMENT | It’s War
28 Nov 2008, 0000 hrs IST

This nation is under attack. The scale, intensity and level of orchestration of terror attacks in Mumbai put one thing beyond doubt: India is effectively at war and it has deadly enemies in its midst. Ten places in south Mumbai were struck in quick succession.

As in the case of the demolition of New York’s World Trade Center in 2001, Mumbai’s iconic monuments such as the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberoi Trident and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus have come under attack. The number of people killed in multiple attacks is 101 and counting, which includes foreigners and senior policemen. At least 300 have been injured.

The terrorists who carried out the attacks are well supplied, armed to the teeth and extremely well motivated. The question now is whether the nation can show any serious degree of resolve and coordination in confronting terror. This war can be won, but it will require something from the political class, from security forces and from ordinary people. It’s time now to move beyond pointing fingers at one another or resorting to cliches such as ‘resilient Mumbai’. It’s also time to end the habit of basing one’s stand on terrorism on the particular religious affiliation of terrorists, criticising or exonerating them using their religion a point of reference. Terrorists have no religion. Political bickering on this issue is divisive; what India needs now is unity.

While Mumbai also witnessed multiple attacks which brought the city to a halt in 1993, this one is different in two respects. One, it is unfolding in slow motion with the world media as witness, which makes for maximum psychological impact. Two, foreigners have specifically been targeted. Sites frequented by them have been chosen for attack and Britons, Americans and Israelis appear to have been singled out.

This kind of attack on India’s financial capital is intended to send the message that India isn’t a safe place to do business. The Indian economy and its links with the world are under attack. On the plus side, there have been unprecedented outpourings of sympathy and offers of cooperation from world governments. All the more reason to make the attacks on Mumbai a transformative moment. There has been talk of beefing up India’s poor infrastructure. Security must now be seen as an essential element of infrastructure, as vital as power, water or transport.

Both L K Advani and Rajnath Singh have said it’s time to rise above politics, which is welcome. An announced joint visit to Mumbai by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leader of the opposition Advani would send a signal of political unity. Beyond that the PM, in consultation with senior opposition leaders, must draw up a consensus plan about how to deal with contingency situations as well as upgrade India’s security culture.

A host of institutions have been built since the 1980s when India first encountered terrorism. New agencies, special cells and commando units have come up since then. But how well do we run them, how well resourced are they and is there proper coordination among them to maximise and collate information? According to the home ministry, terrorists sneaked in from the Arabian Sea. They may have sailed past the naval headquarters to blast their way into the city. However, it took a while before the National Security Guards and naval commandos in the city were pressed into action. What explains such delay? Was it a multiplicity of commands or plain bureaucratic lethargy? The point is even in circumstances when personnel and infrastructure are available, planning and execution are shockingly poor.

Constitutional experts must put their hands together to see whether under existing laws any special, but temporary, powers can be given to the security agencies. All major political parties should be taken into confidence to see what urgent steps can be taken to prevent the nation from sinking deeper into chaos. There is a pressing need to restructure India’s security architecture. A federal agency to deal with terrorism has been suggested by this newspaper and now by the PM. A coordinated effort to process information gleaned by state and central agencies should help to transform randomly collected information into actionable intelligence.

The government should immediately work on an internal security doctrine that demarcates the role of various security wings and a clear command structure to deal with terrorism. This should include contingency plans for various scenarios which lay out in advance how to respond to them. Tougher laws, in consultation with the opposition, may also be needed to control terror.

It’s incumbent on all chief ministers to remain on alert and maintain calm in their states. Unnecessary repercussions from the Mumbai incidents need to be avoided at all costs. Election campaigning needs to be kept at a minimum to avoid stretching security too thin. The political class must ensure that communalism of all varieties is kept out of politics.

Besides terrorists coming in from the Arabian Sea, their looking for Americans, Britons and Israelis give the signal that the attack on Mumbai is a spillover from the larger war on terror. Al-Qaeda is, for the first time, feeling the pressure in its Pakistani sanctuaries as it is under Pakistani and American attack. But South Asian borders are notoriously porous. Al-Qaeda affiliated organisations such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) have struck deep roots in Bangladesh.

To tackle terror in India it is urgently necessary to stabilise Pakistan and Bangladesh. And, India should seek international help now to upgrade its own security apparatus, but also to stabilise the entire region stretching from Afghanistan to Bangladesh. There is no time to waste.

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Editorial/TOP_ARTICLE__Neighbours_Create_Trouble/articleshow/3766468.cms

TOP ARTICLE | Neighbours Create Trouble

28 Nov 2008, 0000 hrs IST,

K SUBRAHMANYAM

Mumbai has experienced terror attacks earlier. In March 1993, simultaneous attacks on a number of targets resulted in over 270 fatal casualties.

Their origin was traced to Dawood Ibrahim and his associates who were based in Karachi. The multiple bomb blasts on Mumbai trains killed 200 people in July 2005.

Once again the investigations led to a link between those who carried out the blasts and Pakistan. The present batch of terrorists is reported to have landed close to the Gateway of India in rubber dinghies. The equipment, training and sophistication of their planning and the identity of a suspect arrested in Chowpatty would tend to indicate a Pakistani link.

Unlike in previous attacks when the casualties were all Indians, this time there are foreigners among the dead. There are also reports that the terrorists were particularly interested in US, UK and Israeli passport holders.

While an organisation called ‘Deccan Mujahideen’ has claimed responsibility the Indian agencies do not consider this a genuine claim; they feel that this is a Pakistani jihadi operation.

Since a few terrorists have been captured, their identities would surely be revealed in the next few days. The Mumbai police believe that the sophistication and skill of the terrorists would tend to indicate that they were not locals. It appears that a mother ship had dropped dinghies close to Mumbai. The Indian Navy has intercepted a vessel from Pakistan believed to have been the mother ship. Though in the 1993 operations the explosives came via sea the people who placed the explosives were from Mumbai. In this case, the terrorists landed on the Mumbai waterfront. Though sea-based terrorist attacks have been talked about, presumably those in charge had not paid adequate attention to it.

The counterterrorism efforts in India are fragmented among the state and central agencies. Efforts to have an integrated central agency to deal with terrorism have so far been thwarted by political parties who tend to place their own parochial interests higher than national interests. In the US, where they had a number of federal agencies dealing with different aspects of intelligence in the wake of 9/11 they found that there was inadequate coordination among them.

Hence, there was a failure to assess the 9/11 threat though there were bits of information. Subsequently, a new post of director of national intelligence was created to supervise and coordinate all intelligence agencies. In the biggest bureaucratic reshuffle in US history the department of homeland security was also created with bipartisan support. The terrorist threat India faces is far more severe than the one faced by the US separated from Europe and Asia by two oceans and having friendly neighbours in Mexico and Canada.

India has three unfriendly porous borders and nearly three decades of terrorism and proxy war directed against it. Yet our political parties are not sensitive enough to appreciate the need for intelligence coordination and an integrated internal security structure. Recently the Pakistani government stripped the ISI of its responsibility for political intelligence. Pakistan had to seek a multi-billion-dollar loan package from the IMF and the loan has been sanctioned with conditionalities.

Many in Pakistan have openly resented president-elect Barack Obama’s friendliness towards India. The recent friendly remarks of Pakistani president Asif Zardari towards India have also not found approval among sections of the Pakistani establishment. A section of the Pakistani establishment and the ISI have been attempting to bleed India through a thousand cuts.

The ISI was known to create problems for its own government to advance its interests. Therefore, the possibility of rogue elements in ISI and jihadi elements in Pakistan conspiring to create tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad cannot be ruled out. This would keep ISI’s pre-eminence in Pakistan’s India policy and help it to argue with Washington that increased tension with India rules out Islamabad playing a more effective role on its western front.

The terror attack on Mumbai was aimed at hitting tourist traffic and its commercial relations with the US and other developed countries. It was also intended to club India with the Crusaders (the US and the West) and Zionists (the Israelis). This may look like an act of desperation by the jihadis and their friends in the ISI and Pakistani establishment. In a sense, the jihadis may be attempting to bring the clash of civilisations thesis to its denouement. One should not forget the original ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis was the two-nation theory which the Indian Muslims repudiated by choosing to stay on in India.

The present acts of terrorism is an attempt by the advocates of this thesis to create tension between the two communities in this country. Till now the US and other western nations were not adequately sensitive to terrorism perpetrated against India. This was partly because the casualties were all Indians. This time it is different.

While all evidence points to the involvement of Pakistani elements in the terror acts, New Delhi should at the same time be careful not to walk into the trap of creating major Indo-Pakistan tensions as a new president takes over in Washington and with India facing a general election in the next few months. The country expects the two national parties to get together to formulate a joint strategy to thwart the jihadi attempt to create a ‘clash of civilisations’ in this country.

The writer is a Delhi-based strategic affairs analyst.

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Mumbai_paradigm_of_terror/articleshow/3766983.cms

Mumbai paradigm of terror

28 Nov 2008, 0101 hrs IST, ET Bureau

EDITORIAL

Even for a country distressingly familiar with terrorist outrages, the multiple attacks in Mumbai herald a new low. The sheer audacity and scale of the attacks, the spectacle of young men armed to the teeth with machine guns and grenades roaming on the streets of India’s financial capital, bring home the fact that terrorism has attained a new sophistication and organisational ability.

To talk of an intelligence failure is almost a truism, yet given that such a large group of men could physically launch attacks on multiple high-profile targets, eschewing the recent pattern of engineering blasts, is a clear sign of an abysmal deficiency in our intelligence-gathering capabilities.

To combat such a new level of terrorism, it is imperative the contours of the extant anti-terror paradigm change. Terror has simply been politicised, with parties using it as yet another electoral plank. The scale of this latest outrage demonstrates the pitfalls of a divisive polity squabbling over instrumentalities.

The need of the hour, and the future, is for political parties to break with past patterns and evolve a clear consensus on how to prevent the recurrence of such heinous attacks. In this context, it is heartening to see that there is some sort of communication between Manmohan Singh and L K Advani.

To ensure a better security culture, and the involvement of every citizen in contributing to it, is also a matter of shaping a thoroughly neutral investigative apparatus. The issue of abysmal intelligence gathering also has to do with the perception of investigative agencies as being partisan.

This has also led to severing of links between effective policing and intelligence gathering and various communities and groups. The prime minister has in the past spoken on the need for wider police reforms, and we could not agree more.

The wider aspect of such reform, however, should also be to address the rifts within civil society at large. The spectacle of young men engaged in such brutally invasive terrorist acts, with no thought whatsoever as to concealing their identities also posits that idea of a collapsed civil society.

And beyond measures such as preparedness and response, the extremism that feeds such fanatical acts needs to be addressed in the wider socio-political arena. That is, without doubt, and as various nations around the world have discovered, the best kind of pre-emptive measure.

That said, installing effective anti-terror mechanisms are also a matter of intra-state and international cooperation. While domestically measures such as institutionalising state coordination among investigative agencies would be imperative, India should now press hard for greater intelligence sharing within the region.

These latest attacks have also demonstrated a new level in the terrorists’ capabilities. The organisational and logistical abilities they have displayed are staggering. Both in the kind of targets chosen, the scale of the destruction and bloodbath, as well as the fact that for the first time, western nationals were sought to be targeted for greater international impact, point to a sharp escalation in terrorist ambitions.

And even the response and management capabilities of the state have been shown to be glaringly low. That such an immense attack, almost akin to a mini-invasion, should have happened in Mumbai, home to one of the more respected police forces in India only underlines that fact.

Another aspect of terrorism relates to how security forces are able respond in a situation where hostages are taken by terrorists. The past 36 hours have shown that the police is not equipped to handle such complex situations.

The National Security Guards (NSG), where commandos are drawn from the army, has the wherewithal to do so. But the NSG has limited numbers and is a national-level organisation. Wednesday’s incident has indicated the need to have NSG-like outfits at the state level so that they can move more swiftly into action when the need arises. The NSG is trained specifically for such situations.

And it would be a good idea to create state-level NSG-like modules, which are ready to act swiftly when such incidents occur.

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http://www.indianexpress.com/news/our-nightmare-our-wakeup-call/391644/

Our nightmare, our wake-up call

Shekhar Gupta

Posted: Nov 28, 2008 at 1038 hrs IST

How does a democracy of billion-plus people respond when a few madmen tear the heart out of its financial capital and shatter its soul? The question has to be asked because it is only adversity of such staggering magnitude that shakes up slumbering, old civilizations to turn it into an opportunity. It is time, therefore, to close rank, unite, focus on the greatest threat of our generation, perpetrators of which have benefited from the fuzziness that partisan politics can bring to most issues in a democracy. Posterity will record this as India’s 9/11. But are we now stirred enough to also respond to it with the equanimity with which the other democracy recovered, and has protected its people in the seven years that followed?
Nothing can guarantee that a small suicide squad will not infiltrate one of our cities and cause mayhem. But a policy of genuine, non-partisan zero-tolerance towards Terror of all kinds would have made the task of such conspirators much tougher. In this case, it seems to have been rather too easy. Sadly, our woolly-headed response to terror over the past five years was not caused so much by any fundamental differences in the way the two national parties look at it, nor because we have had so brilliant a Home Minister that he can tell live, realtime TV, which presumably the terrorists could be watching inside the hotels, that “200 NSG commandos” had left Delhi “at 1.15 (am)” and should be on the job in a few hours. It was caused by five years of surreal politics, rooted in psephology rather than ideology, that communalised our responses to terror in a manner that no other democracy allowed since 9/11. Both sides, the UPA and the NDA, were equally guilty, so while one railed endlessly against “jehadi” terror, the other searched for “root causes” of terrorism. Similarly, when a module of alleged radical Hindu bombers was busted, one side was smiling that vicious, non-stop “Gotcha” smile in TV studios, while the other was questioning the motives of the ATS, and demanding the sack of its brilliant and intrepid chief. At least in his death now Hemant Karkare would have achieved what he could not when alive, to have Congress and the BJP shed a tear for him. Together.

That is the key word: together.

Time had come a long time ago to depoliticise our response to terror just…

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http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=ViewsSectionPage&id=57f8f8cb-7f49-4bbf-a2f6-faef3d67ac79&MatchID1=4858&TeamID1=1&TeamID2=5&MatchType1=1&SeriesID1=1224&MatchID2=4862&TeamID3=9&TeamID4=8&MatchType2=2&SeriesID2=1225&PrimaryID=4858&Headline=A+nation+that+cannot+afford+to+sleep

Fri,28 Nov 2008

A nation that cannot afford to sleep

Hindustan Times
November 27, 2008

India is under attack. And along with it, the idea of India is under attack.

When a city like Mumbai is held hostage by marauding terrorists, with its citizens forced to cower in fear under a fog of utter helplessness, any notion that the country is secure ― or will be able to re-establish its sense of security quickly and effectively ― becomes a fanciful thought. This country has had its fair share of experiences with terrorism. One would have thought that our governments, law and order machinery and political establishment would be prepared to tackle and disarm these noxious forces. But the tragedy that continues to unfold in India’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan city has exposed the terrible unpreparedness ― and dare we say unwillingness ― to fight terrorism on a war footing.

The attacks that have crippled life in Mumbai, stunned the nation and the world have also woken up many people from the reverie that saw India as a safe house in a dangerous neighbourhood. Terrorism in the Indian mainland, either perceived as a localised menace or one coming from ‘across the border’, has linked itself to a global phenomenon overnight. If there was any further confirmation needed regarding the borderless nature of terror, India has got it the hard way. Regardless of the nomenclature, the Deccan Mujahideen carries all the hallmarks of the genre of terrorist networks that go under the name of al-Qaeda. This is 21st century terrorism reaching the shores of our country.

Unfortunately, Indian counter-terrorism is still in 20th century gear. Intelligence collection and intelligence coordination are two processes lying at the core of the contemporary war against terror, whether in the United States, Israel, Britain or any other targeted country. India needs to understand that and understand it quickly. It also needs to implement stringent anti-terror-laws. Without these in place, India will still be fighting a contemporary war anachronistically. A department of homeland security is still shockingly a non-concept here. And to add to the general sense of flailing about is the spanner of politics. After September 11, 2001, America came together to fight a common, shape-shifting enemy. Can we as a nation that has known terrorism for far longer ― and with far more wounds to show ― come together to face this nation-crippling assault?

The days ahead will show whether we will be able to survive ‘effortless’ terrorist attacks. It will also show whether we can save the idea of India and the way we live our lives. Playing the headless chicken is no longer an option.

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?  

THE STRANGE CASE OF ATS AND US CITIZEN KEN HAYWOOD FLEEING INDIA

August 19, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

 

THE STRANGE CASE OF ATS AND US CITIZEN KEN HAYWOOD FLEEING INDIA

 

Times of India redeem ED its credibility when it published as its front page banner headlines, the shocking news of Haywood leaving India despite a lookout notice. Haywood had been under Anti Terrorist Squad’s scrutiny, over the matter of the infamous Email supposedly sent out in the name of a fictitious organisation calling itself ‘Indian Mujahideen’, traced to Key Haywood’s laptop. For over weeks, while ATS had questioned reportedly 1000 people and searched neighbourhood apartments, trying to figure out, how Ken Haywood’s laptop could have been hacked, if at all. A narco test on Haywood too had been carried out. According to ATS, Haywood has not been arrested. In Muslim circle, this glaring discriminative practice is a matter of much debate and heartburn, that just because Haywood is a US citizen, he is being given preferential such kid glove treatment. If a similar case had been observed involving an Indian Muslim, the accused would have been summarily incarcerated and given third degree while questioned. Back in US too, Indian citizens have been given similar harsh treatment, when suspected of even peripherally being associated with some terror incident.

 

ATS has asked him to be available for questioning and a lookout notice has been issued to the immigration authorities. Still, the man, possibly through US consular help, was able to hoodwink immigration authorities at New Delhi airport and flew off to the US.

 

So much for the spine of Indian authorities who are being harangued to cooperate with the US over global terrorism and for their discriminative behavior when it involves two different nationalities, on their own!

 

Ken Haywood’s background is reported to be anything but straight forward.

 

The Indian Express carries a report: ‘The curious case of Kenneth Haywood’, published on Thursday, August 14, 2008:

 

( http://www.indianexpress.com/story/348646.html )

 

The curious case of Ken Haywood

 

Posted online: Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 0052 hrs

 

As the American undergoes lie detector test, the Anti-Terror Squad is trying to figure out the man behind his personae

 

Sagnik Chowdhury, Smita Nair & Johnson T A

 

Mumbai/ Bangalore , August 13: Ken Haywood, the American national from whose Internet Protocol (IP) address the terror e-mail was sent prior to the Ahmedabad serial blasts, underwent lie detector tests on Wednesday, a senior police official said in Mumbai. Maharashtra’s Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), which is probing the case, traced the e-mail to Haywood’s flat in Navi Mumbai and found that his background and job were “of a slightly dubious nature”. But the information available so far is not good enough to charge him or suggest his involvement in the case.

 

 “We have conducted inquiries on Haywood’s background and his company. These are of a slightly dubious nature, and even the company he works for and its office are a bit suspect,” ATS chief Hemant Karkare told The Indian Express. “However, this does not directly link him with the case in any way. After all, having a suspicious background, or even working for a bogus company is not enough to book anyone for involvement in terror activities,” he added.

G S Hegde, Haywood’s lawyer, said: “The ATS has not said anything about Haywood’s personal life, or his involvement in any criminal activities. We maintain he is innocent.”

 

The police in Mumbai and Bangalore have said there is primary evidence to show that Haywood’s wi-fi account was hacked into and compromised, resulting in the terror e-mail on July 26 — five minutes before the blasts. Questions remain as to who did it and how they picked on Haywood’s computer network.

 

Haywood is supposed to be a corporate training manager and general manager with a company called Campbell White, which describes itself on its website as a “premier executive soft skills trainer”.

 

On the corporate side, Daniel Rubianes is the managing director of the company with its main office at the first floor of the M S Plaza in east Bangalore. Rubianes, like many other employees of Campbell White, wears a second hat. On Thursdays and Sundays, he 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.

 

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.

 

Brother Richard D’Souza, the contact person for the centre, said, “We have been running our prayer service for the last one year from these premises. It is only this year that Campbell White opened its branch here.” He said 20 students learn English from Haywood.

 

Campbell White has, meanwhile, removed details regarding its employees from its website to protect “workers and their families from malicious intents by anyone”. “Campbell White will continue to support police authorities with full cooperation… We have emphasised to them that they should work diligently and quickly to find suspects and bring them to justice so that Mr. Haywood may return to his normal course of business,” it says.

 

ATS officials raided Haywood’s residence on July 27. Ten computers from neighbouring houses and Haywood’s residence were sent to the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory for analysis.

 

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.

 

However, Campbell White and the Door church officials have remained elusive on the links between the two entities. When contacted Michael White, an Australia-based director for Campbell White, refused to comment on the India operations. “You must speak to Dan Rubianes in Bangalore,” he said.

 

Some churchgoers at the Door Christian Centre in Cox Town in Bangalore said Rubianes had left for the US on August 3 to attend a Bible conference in Arizona.

 

“Campbell White is a business that pastor Dan runs. We as churchgoers are not aware of its nature,” said Hemanth Kumar, an engineering student, who has been associated with the church since it began three years ago. “Being American, pastors are equipped to work as accent trainers. In Bangalore, many such people work in churches,” added Ravi Kumar, a member of the church in Bangalore.

 

Incidentally, Joseph Campbell, who is listed as the US director of Campbell White, is believed to be the seniormost pastor of the Door church in Arizona.

 

editor@expressindia.com

 

 

 

It is therefore strange that one clue, that could have possibly turned the whole direction of bomb blast investigations to foreign elements, was so callously handled. Even for media, this is most unusual and has created great suspicion in the minds of people that a bogey of SIMI line up of usual suspects had been used to camouflage, the possible link of a sleeper cell posing as Christian Missionaries that could have been behind the overall organisation of the serial bomb blasts, in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Surat, through their local agents.

 

Some more surprises were in the pipeline, when one fine day last week, columns and columns of print media space, in Times of India and other newspapers, written out by possibly each and every of their writer staff, doing overtime work, to have come out with the greatest fiction story of the arrests and involvement of SIMI suspects, without any need to provide any hard facts over such allegation. Given police record, people are most skeptical about their Goebbellian propaganda bringing out the true facts. Police credibility is at its lowest ebb. And if the media is hand in glove with such dubious exercises, it will not only lose its own credibility, but would do a great disservice to the nation.

 

Under such an atmosphere of press bending to political and police pressure to break fake stories on the gullible public, Times of India’s strong exception to the flight of Kenneth Haywood, is certainly laudable. This proves that there are more to the affairs of the state than that is revealed to the public. The dangerous game that some rogue elements are playing in demonizing a preferred victimized community cannot bring peace to the nation. The real culprits with international agenda of destabilising country after country, for self-serving objectives, should be brought to justice. But before that the people should be dutifully informed with the stark facts and nothing but the facts.

 

Kenneth Hayward’s lead should not be left out of the investigation of serial bomb blasts in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Surat. His possible accomplices, if any, should be traced and exposed. India cannot afford to go soft on terror, coming from sources other than those conveniently preferred by a prejudiced police and investigative force. All leads should be dutifully pursued in the interest of the security, integrity and communal harmony of the nation.

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

Javed Anand’s ideologically driven diatribe against SIMI

August 17, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

 

Javed Anand’s ideologically driven diatribe against SIMI

 

 

Of course! It is a question of law

 

 

By Ghulam Muhammed

 

 

It is one thing to be factually correct. It’s altogether another thing to be ideologically driven. Javed Anand’s diatribe titled: ‘Suspect SIMI? Of course’ — published by The Indian Express, on Saturday, August 16, 2008 seeks life beyond law.

 

At that level, what is a difference between a religiously driven SIMI and a Leftist fighting a war in the name of Karl Marx, denigrating everything that goes under the umbrella of religion, the supposed ‘opium of the masses’.

 

If religion is the opium of the masses, anti-religious Marxism too is a heady brew that saps the intellectual faculties of even the most sensible people.

 

The key sentence that gives out Javed Anand’s subterranean insecurity goes like this: “But is it merely a question of law?”

 

Of course! It is a question of law.

 

India as a nation is a legal construct. It is based on law. If you have to find life beyond law, you are on a very shaky territory.

 

In fact, Javed Anand’s frustration over his gross inability to interpret the law of land by sanctifying the terms ‘secularism and democracy’, in the mould of Marxist logic, while neatly bypassing and ignoring the constitutional fundamental rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech in drawing up a charge-sheet against SIMI, is so apparent, that it is surprising, he is so unaware that his slip is showing.

 

Secularism in Indian context does not stand for the denial of religion. India is not a replica of the erstwhile Soviet Russia, where the communist dictators had destroyed and/or closed down all churches and mosques. For over seventy years, people of faith had to undergo endless pogroms, purges, banishments, not to mention the ghastly gulag existence. India’s secularism has to be defined by its deeply ingrained religious ethos.

 

Javed Anand is ready to accommodate Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad, for their support of SIMI, when he writes that ‘Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad’s welcoming of the lifting of the ban on SIMI can be explained away in terms of vote bank politics. Why should he begrudge if mainstream Muslims too have welcomed lifting of the ban on SIMI. Are Muslims not entitled to be part of vote bank politics, just because they are Muslims?

 

Banning of SIMI, was a motivated political exercise, by the Hindutva extremists/opportunist of the ilk of the then Home Minister, L. K. Advani and the then Maharashtra State home minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, an old Shiv Sena protagonist. It was a grand conspiracy to consolidate Hindu vote bank, around demonizing of Muslims, by choosing a suitable candidate to focus on and by implication demonise the entire 150 million Muslims of India. Evidently, this too would be generously treated by Javed Anand, as merely vote bank politics!

 

Of course, there were hotheads in SIMI, as there are in every grouping, including the Marxists and the Hindutvadis. But the law cannot be so applied that it cannot stand judicial scrutiny. If on presentation of facts, the court is not convinced that SIMI is guilty as charged, why should Muslims not rejoice in being liberated from the conspiracy of the Hindu extremists?

 

The real problem for Javed Anand stems from his pretentious posturing of becoming the voice of the Muslims. His frustration at witnessing crowds of 20,000 to 200,000 gathering at public meetings called by religious figures is quite understandable. He fails to understand the real pain of the Muslims. Given proper interaction, even a maverick like Mamta Bannerjee could gather a mind-boggling crowd of 400,000 Muslims in the heart of a cosmopolitan city like Kolkata. But you cannot strip the Muslim of his religious identity and hope to achieve leadership of a neutered crowd.

 

The very fact, that Indian Express has published Javed Anand’s article denouncing SIMI, is proof enough that he is sleeping with the enemy. Let him write a similar diatribe against RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and get it published in Indian Express, or Times of India, or even in the new avatar of ‘The Hindu’, if he is rooting for non-discriminatory justice. That will show him the limits of his journalistic prowess, if any. His ability to get published by a mainstream English broadsheet on Muslim-bashing shows how far he is treated by the media, as not with the mainstream Muslims. The mainstream media is merely using his mixed Muslim name (Javed Akhtar + Anand) to carry on their commercial commitment to demonizing of Muslims. Muslims would rather be vicitmised than become beholden to dubious benefactors with ulterior motives.  

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

Khuda ke liye – leave us alone

April 14, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

 

http://www.indianexpress.com/interactive/comment.php?id=296165

 

Comments on Tavleen Singh’s article published in The Indian Express:

 

 

Tavleen Singh is grossly mistaken if she thinks Khuda ke liye, is an attempt to paint Islam and Muslims in favourable colours. The director and scriptwriter of the film belongs to Left Liberal persuasion and had used slick ways to denigrate Islam, even while appearing to be  presenting a supposedly presentable face of Islam. The film is full of clichés, the attempt by the Mullah as played by Naseeruddin Shah, reels out the most outlandishly liberal interpretation of Sharia, which rightly or wrongly are not acceptable to the orthodoxy. The film was released in India, with the blessings of India’s so-called liberal Muslims who wish to ‘reform’ Islam from inside. I have no reservations with Tavleen’s brand of obsessive anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim propaganda. At least she is frank up-front. But the attempt by the Left liberals to promote a 3-nation unity of Muslims of the sub-continent in the vanguard of a new communist planning to unite the 3 nations of the sub-continent, all with Muslim populations joining the Marxist bandwagon, is highly suspicious, and deceitful. Not that Muslim would not like to join together to form a 500 million chunk joined together to gain their rightful place that was denied to them by the conspiracies of the Brahmins and British stooges. But to sell their Islam to the Godless Marxist political operators, will be at best a Hobson’s choice for the Muslims and they better beware.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai,

<ghulammuhamme3@gmail.com>

www.GhulamMuhammed.wordpress.com

 

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Posted online: Sunday, April 13, 2008 at 2316 hrs

The myth of moderate Islam

Tavleen Singh

This is not a column that discusses cinema, but this week I make an exception because of a film I have just seen, which inadvertently exposes the myth of ‘moderate’ Islam. I went to see Khuda Kay Liye not just because it is the first Pakistani film to be released in Indian cinemas since anyone can remember, but because I gathered from reviews that it was a reflection of moderate Islam. This is a commodity in short supply in the subcontinent as well as across the Islamic world, where supposedly moderate Islamic countries like Indonesia and Malaysia have transformed in recent times into places where women have exchanged mini-skirts and western influence for the hijab and a return to medieval Arabia.

Khuda Kay Liye is the story of a modern Pakistani family that is destroyed when one musician son ends up in the clutches of a bad mullah and the other ends up in an American prison cell, where he is tortured till he loses his mind. The Islamist son, under the influence of the evil maulana, coerces his London-bred cousin into a marriage she does not want and forces her to live in a primitive Afghan village so she cannot escape. He rapes her because the maulana instructs him to and gives up his musical career because the maulana tells him that the Prophet of Islam did not like music. And he becomes an involuntary mujahid after 9/11, fighting on the side of the Taliban government. This is a simple story of a young man misled in the name of Islam.

The other musician son’s story is more revealing of the flaws of what we like to call ‘moderate’ Islam. He goes to study music in a college in Chicago, falls in love with a white girl, and generally has a good time living the American dream until 9/11 happens. Then he is arrested, locked up in a secret prison in the United States and kept naked in a filthy cell until he goes mad. The message of the film, in its essence, is that Islam is a great religion that has been misunderstood and that the United States is a bad, bad country and all talk of freedom and democracy is nonsense. Alas, this is not how we infidels see things.

What interested me most about the film was that in seeking to show Islam in a good light, it accidentally exposes the prejudices that make moderate Muslims the ideological partners of jihadis. In painting America as the villain of our times, the prejudices against the West that get exposed are no different from what Mohammad Siddique, one of London’s tube bombers, said in the suicide video he made before blowing himself up. In the video, that surfaced during the trial now on in London, he describes himself as a soldier in the war against the West: ‘I’m doing what I am for Islam, not, you know, for materialistic or worldly benefits.’

In Khuda Kay Liye, the prejudices against India come through as well. The hero, when he lands in Chicago, finds that his future wife does not know that Pakistan is a country. When he tries to explain where it is geographically, he mentions Iran, Afghanistan and China before coming to India. It happens that India is the only country she knows and Taj Mahal the only Indian monument she has heard of. ‘We built it,’ says our hero, ‘we ruled India for a thousand years and Spain for 800.’ As an Indian, my question is: who is we? Those who left for Pakistan or the 180 million Muslims who still live in India? If we pursue this ‘we’ nonsense, we must urge the Indian Government to bring back Harappa and Mohenjo-daro and Taxila. And that is only the short list.

Let us not pretend that Muslims in India do not face hostility and prejudice. They do. But some of it comes from this idea that Muslims have of themselves as being superior because they ‘ruled India’ for a thousand years. The problem becomes more complex if you remember that Hindu fanatics also see Muslims as foreigners and use it to fuel their hatred.

If ‘moderate’ Muslims believe that the West is the real enemy of Islam and that the free societies of modern times compare poorly with the greatness of Muslim rule in earlier times, then there is little difference between them and the jihadis. As we infidels see it, the problem is that Islam refuses to accept that in the 21st century there is no room for religion—any religion—in the public square. Other religions have accepted this and retreated to a more private space. Islam has not.