Posts Tagged ‘Kashmir’

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Yes, Kashmir is not the issue

January 17, 2009

11:31 AM 1/17/2009

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Yes, Kashmir is not the issue

This has reference to Gautam Adhikari’s top article in TOI (Jan 17, 2009): Kashmir is not the issue.

Gautam Adhikari has rightly or wrongly chosen to address the issue of Kashmir, as if the matter is exclusively confined between states, India, Pakistan, UK, US.

Of course, it is the states that have playing with the lives of the people. But if matters of populated territories are the bone of contention; (at least in this age of democracies, however flawed that may be), if any settlement is made that is not confirmed by the people, the wound will never heal.

The way Gautam Adhikari writes: The Kashmir issue was in fact ‘resolved’, i.e. signed and sealed — when the Simla accord between India and Pakistan was initialed in 1972 following the Bangladesh war.’, one cannot help recalling how the First World War resolution, imposed on Germany, helped Hitler to rise and wage the Second World War.

Any solution on the battlefield can never be the last word. The people have to be satisfied that justice is done.

Secondly, why India should is waiting for the West to impose a solution on Kashmir, tailored according to their own global security and economic agenda?

Why Indian leadership is not bold and farsighted enough to read into the future and make its own moves to settle matters with its neighbours and bring them into its own area of friendship circle —- without any interference from the Western hegemonists.

The imperialists had partitioned India, for their own global security strategies, to use Pakistan as a military base, to contain Soviet Russia after the Second World War and to protect the Gulf oil reserves, badly needed for Europe’s reconstruction.

Our people made a mess of our own country, without realising the long term implications of cutting off our own limb and giving our enemies to foster in our neighbourhood. If we had the foresight, we would never have agreed to partition the country and would have preferred to solve our internal problems with more restrain and generosity.

The same dividing scenario is now being presented to us and the West is again on its old game of ‘divide and rule’ tactics.

Our thinkers should think out of the box and see that independent India has its own views about the collective security of the sub-continent and it will be prepared to take along all its neighbours with it, by inspiring confidence and acting for just and fair solutions.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

http://www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Editorial/COMENT__Kashmir_Is_Not_The_Issue/articleshow/3989939.cms

TOP ARTICLE | Kashmir Is Not The Issue

17 Jan 2009, 0010 hrs IST, Gautam Adhikari

There we go again. The latest to join the `Kashmir will have to be resolved for terrorism from Pakistan to stop’ chorus is British foreign

secretary David Miliband. He wrote in The Guardian on Thursday that “resolution of the Kashmir dispute would help deny extremists one of their main calls to arms and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders”. Really? Well, here’s why that’s unlikely to happen.

To start with, let’s review a bit of history. The Kashmir issue was in fact `resolved’ i.e. signed and, many assumed, `sealed’ when the Simla accord between India and Pakistan was initialled in 1972 following the Bangladesh war. The two nations agreed that the line of actual control separating them in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state would be a de facto border. Not de jure, alas, because legend has it that when Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto went for a walk in the hills, the Pakistani leader convinced the Indian prime minister that making the Line of Control a real international border would not only make his political survival in Islamabad impossible, it would surely bring the army back in power.

And peace did reign between India and Pakistan no war, no cross-border terrorism for 17 long years. Until 1989, when the Pakistani security forces began to send mujahideen as well as other jehadi elements to fight on the Kashmir front since the lads were suddenly unemployed after the end of the Afghan war against the Soviet army. Soon after, the ISI also created the Lashkar-e-Taiba comprised mostly of non-Kashmiris as a special outfit to create trouble across the Line of Control.

Now, we should acknowledge that the Indian authorities did a few stupid things in that tinderbox of a region in the late 80s. New Delhi allowed a state election in 1987 to be rigged, creating resentment in the local population; the security forces cracked down far too hard on various protesters in the next couple of years and popular anger grew.

It would be quite fair to criticise Indian tactics and for human rights activists to point out reported atrocities committed by Indian security forces. And many did criticise, including several voices from India. But how does that give Pakistan a licence to intervene by sending jehadis across a mutually agreed border from 1989 onwards till today with not even a compelling refugee crisis to justify such intervention?

Over the years, there have been other instances in Indian border states Gujarat and Punjab, for example of perceived or real official mistreatment of minorities. But does that mean that Pakistan would have had a case for sending jehadis into, say, Gujarat following the 2002 massacre of Muslims? No. But Kashmir is special, isn’t it?

It is, because it’s a leftover of the bitter fallout of India’s partition into two nations in 1947. But the issue must be understood clearly for what it is by all those in the rest of the world who insist that a `resolution’ of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan is a precondition for tackling terrorism emanating from Pakistan today.

Without recounting a long story about its origin, Kashmir is a partition-era dispute between India and Pakistan for possession of a former princely state. It is not about `independence’ of Kashmir. There are some Kashmiris who want national independence; but India and Pakistan are fighting over absorption of the state. One problem of global perception is that Pakistan has successfully sold a line to the world tacitly accepted by many, especially in the US and UK, for tactical reasons in the Cold War era that the fight in Kashmir is all about independence and Pakistan supports that cause.

A ruse that Islamabad uses to make its case is to call the portion under its control `Azad’ or independent Kashmir. The truth is that neither India nor Pakistan argues for Kashmir’s independence, not even under the UN plebiscite resolutions. Therefore, a solution of the dispute between the two cannot have independence of Kashmir as an option. In fact, the only viable solution would be to improve the Simla agreement and make the Line of Control a real border, with a measure of flexibility to allow cross-border movement and commerce. That solution was seriously being considered until terrorism blew a hole in it.

The point to ponder is: Is any solution of the Kashmir dispute acceptable ultimately to the Pakistani military establishment and the ISI? If it is, what prevents Islamabad from, first, coming down hard on terrorists on its own since jehadis now threaten Pakistan’s own stability and integrity and separately to allow talks on Kashmir to proceed with India? Why should any terrorist be allowed to operate from its soil by citing the Kashmir cause?

Unfortunately, the reality of power in Pakistan is too grim to cover up by simplistically citing Kashmir as a root cause of terrorism in the subcontinent. The reality is that the Pakistani military actually keeps itself in control of affairs instead of helping Pakistan to become truly democratic by citing a constant external threat. Those with influence over Pakistan must ask whether the time has come for the world to call the military’s bluff. A democratic Pakistan and a democratic India can live together in peace and, eventually, in economic prosperity. But, for that to happen, first drive the Pakistani army back into the barracks to make that country safe for the region and the world.

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‘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.

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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
 
 

It is the old egg and chicken dilemma – RE: Jerusalem Post report – ‘India seeks IDF help in Kashmir conflict’

September 15, 2008

 

Monday, September 15, 2008

 

It is the old egg and chicken dilemma

 

 

RE: Jerusalem Post report – ‘India seeks IDF help in Kashmir conflict’

 

 

Whether India opted for Israel Defense Force connections first or the turmoil in Kashmir was organised to give a reason / cover for the Israelis to step in.

 

Indian government is getting some international exposure as to how the US and Israel manage conflicts. Will Indian people go for the genocidal carnage of its civilian population on foreign agenda?  How can a democratic nation allow a foreign army to attack its territory in the name of war on terror? How does India now differ from Pakistan, which has seen its territory bombed from across the border — on the pretext of war on terror? Is this ‘war on terror’ – a convenient red-herring to invade other countries, with or without the nation’s government’s knowledge / permission?

 

At another plane, It is quite possible that having lost Georgia as staging ground to attack Iran, US/Israel are planning to use Indian territory to attack it neighbouring country.

 

Indian people should be alert to such international conspiracies that will make their lives hell.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

 

———————————————————-

 

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1221142471601&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

 

 

 

India seeks IDF help in Kashmir conflict

 

Sep. 14, 2008

 

Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST

 

OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi paid an unscheduled visit to the disputed state of Kashmir last week to get an up-close look at the challenges the Indian military faces in its fight against Islamic insurgents.

 

Mizrahi was in India for three days of meetings with the country’s military brass and to discuss a plan the IDF is drafting for Israeli commandos to train Indian counter-terror forces.

 

Under the proposed agreement, the IDF would send highly-trained commandos to train Indian soldiers in counter terror tactics, urban warfare and fighting in guerrilla settings.

 

Mizrahi’s visit to Kashmir was reportedly kept secret at the time since India feared it could spark violence in the disputed state; it was subsequently reported widely in the Indian and Pakistani press.

 

Media reports said Mizrahi spent several hours at the Akhnoor Military Base in Kashmir where he gave a lecture to senior officers on counterterror operations.

 

India is the largest importer of arms from Israel and since 2002 has bought more than $5 billion worth of equipment.

 

While Mizrahi’s visit did not spark violence it did upset Kashmir nationalists. The Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau has recommended that Israelis refrain from visiting Kashmir.

 

Farooq Ahmad Dar, a senior leader of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, told an Indian Qeb site the visit was “part of plan under which India intends to suppress the ongoing intifada movement in Kashmir by dint of power, and change Kashmir’s demography.”

 

On Friday, tens of thousands of Muslims participated in pro-independence rallies across Indian Kashmir, leading to scattered clashes with government forces that left at least two protesters dead and dozens wounded.

 

Separatist leaders have warned Indian authorities that the situation could spiral out of control if they “use force to break peaceful protests.”

 

More than two months of angry protests, some of the biggest anti-India demonstrations in two decades, have left at least 43 people dead in Indian-controlled Kashmir, most of them killed when soldiers opened fire on Muslim protesters.

 

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, where most people favor independence from mainly Hindu India, or a merger with Pakistan.

 

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947, when the two countries fought their first war over the region in the aftermath of Britain’s partition of the subcontinent. Both countries continue to claim all of Kashmir.

 

Separatist movements in Indian-controlled Kashmir remained peaceful until 1989, when Islamic insurgents took up arms.

 

An estimated 68,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

 

AP contributed to this report.

 

 

Humra Quraishi writes to Lt. Gen. (Retd.) S. K. Sinha- The Week

September 8, 2008

 

http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?BV_ID=@@@&contentType=EDITORIAL&sectionName=TheWeek%20Lifestyle&programId=1073755413&contentId=4479429

 

 

COUNTERPOINT

 

A human tragedy

 

Dear Lt Gen. (retd) S.K. Sinha,

 

I read your interview (‘Kashmir has been Talibanised’, August 31) with much pain. You seem to have overlooked the human being in the Valley, how he/she is surviving amid rights violations and the fear of being humiliated or branded.

 

I can understand your limited perception because, living in Raj Bhavan [as J&K Governor], you have had little opportunity to mix with ordinary Kashmiris, who dread to venture near the Governor’s residence for fear of being suspected as terrorists and killed. The aggrieved have no forums to voice their disgust of the way they are treated. Worse, special acts prevent locals from lodging direct complaints against security personnel.

 

You dwelt on growing religious intolerance among Kashmiris. It is not a fair perception. I have been reporting from the Valley from the early 90s and can vouch that the average citizen there is not communal. While travelling in the Valley after the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, I could sense there was anger against the killings and the way the political brass handled the riots. But the anger was not along communal lines. For, when busloads of Gujarati tourists came to Srinagar (in the summer and autumn of 2002), no Kashmiri talked of revenge.

 

Dr Nitesh Sengupta, the bureaucrat handpicked by the Union home ministry in 1996 to look into the Amarnath yatra, talked about how the Valley’s Muslims help the yatris. When I interviewed Sengupta recently, he said, “Local Kashmiris stood by the pilgrims. There weren’t any cases of looting and harassment by locals even when pilgrims were in distress or ill. Local Kashmiri Muslims were the first to bring in relief to the yatris, much before the government machinery [did].”

 

True, today the Kashmiri is upset and alienated. Have you introspected why? In the past few years, innocent civilians were killed in fake encounters. I am sure you are aware of the long list of civilians killed. Yet, we chose to remain quiet and keep the skeletons of the dead tight shut.

 

Are you aware of the big gap between civilians and the administration? Or the extent of the alienation? In his book Kashmir: The Wounded Valley, journalist Ajit Bhattacharjea, who has been reporting from the Valley from the 1940s, presents the contrast between what he had seen in the Valley then and as it is now.

 

Read on and you will see that the same Kashmiris who welcomed the Indian Army in the 1940s now live in fear of searches, midnight knocks and arrests. Also, Kashmir saw no communal tension when the rest of north India burned during the Partition years. During my travels into rural Kashmir (for my writings and my book Kashmir: The Untold Story), I was shocked by the ground realities that have remained hidden. In seemingly less troubled times, a Kashmiri research student had told me, “What you see is make-up on. Once it is ripped off, the reality glares.”

 

Now reality glares even more thanks to politics, and lopsided policies. If we say that Kashmir is our integral part, then treat it like one. Introspect on where we went wrong or overboard. Reach out. Lessen the alienation. It cannot be done through speeches, but through genuine moves to treat the human being out there with respect and sensitivity.

 

Humra Quraishi,

On email

 

 

Idea of India

August 19, 2008

Idea of India

 

In the following article, the author, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a very level-headed commentator, has harked backed to the Idea of India. I would think, that’s all for the birds. The real movers and shakers were the Western Powers, who had cut up India, to get a piece of land as their last army post on the subcontinent, for their own global strategic needs against the expanding ambitions of Soviet Russia and to protect their own oil interests in the gulf.

 

In India, the Brahmins, who dominated the Hindu brigade, came out with an Idea of India, which had no place for the Muslims.

 

Muslims were fooled into believing that Pakistan was an Islamic country carved out of the body of India, as a big favour to them. In fact, Pakistan has remained a Western satellite country, with Western military aid all over the years, bolstering its only powerful institution, the Army that has no brief with its people. People of Pakistan were merely the side show.

 

The wheels of fortune had made a new turn. Indian subcontinent is once more the most coveted piece of real estate for the western axis powers of US/UK/Israel. For all practical purposes, India has gone under. It is the Axis that is moving the pieces on the grand chessboard. It is the US axis that wants Kashmir free. Gullible Muslim leaders, like Geelani, Mirwaiz Farooq and others, call them Islamists or separatist, are once again chasing the chimera of a Islamic paradise on earth. They will not get anything better than an exchange of one yoke with another of the similar kind.

 

On the other hand, India has completely succumbed to the hubris promised by America, and however much its thinkers and planners may exert their brain power and come out with another version of Idea of India, in this globalised world, their old limitations have now been taken over by much more debilitating limitations.

 

No army of king’s men and horses will ever succeed in putting the humpty dumpty together again. Not at least in this century. Meanwhile both the Brahmins and Muslims will pay for their folly.

 

I would invite my readers to read the following article in the context that I have laid out for study and comments:

 

 

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/350345._.html

 

The question in Kashmir

 

 By Pratap Bhanu Mehta

 

Posted online: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 0007 hrs

 

 

Can the idea of India overcome the Indian state’s limitations?

 

 

 

 I do not know how to address Kashmiri leaders. All the appellations that would be used to establish a connection, common citizenship, shared nationhood, cultural bonds, pragmatic affiliations, appear to be little more than rhetorical pretences, hollowed out by unmeaning overuse. I also cannot address them without a guilty conscience: the Indian state has so often let Kashmiris down. I cannot imagine what it is to live like under half a million troops, a standing reminder that no matter what our politicians claim, our bonds are sustained more by force than by spontaneity. I cannot imagine what it is to raise a new generation entirely under the shadow of violence and suspicion. I cannot imagine what it is like to have one’s identity held hostage to competing nationalisms: to be mercilessly used by Pakistan to disguise its own crisis of legitimacy, and subjected to Indian anxiety that everything it stands for will come unravelled at the slightest hint of dissent in Kashmir. I can imagine what it is like to have the electoral process subverted. But I cannot imagine the depth of distrust that repeated violations have produced. I cannot imagine what conducting politics under constant threat of assassination is like, or what the disabling of all questions of justice under the garb of national security means. I cannot understand the wrenching of a cultural equilibrium destroyed, by Islamisation and ethnic cleansing of the Pandits. The chasm that divides us is perhaps that our daily lives are less marked by the distrust, betrayals, violence and suspicion than mark yours; our invocations of shared citizenship seem scarcely up to the task of overcoming them.

 

 

We had hoped that time would heal wounds; that a modicum of a political process, while not compensating for past ills, would at least hold out the possibility of a different future. But two issues reopened old wounds. Amarnath went from being a showcase of cultural harmony to a reminder that there is no such thing as an ordinary administrative transaction in Kashmir. The agitation in Jammu was a reminder that another region of the state had now successfully constructed its own narrative of victimhood, resentful of the special status it perceived the Valley to possess. But these issues, for the most part tractable by small compromises, became moot. They were surpassed by the depth of feeling in Kashmir, as if the entire weight of modern Indian history had once again chosen to explode in the Valley: the green flags of Pakistan, militant sub-nationalism, the failures of Indian democracy, the anxieties of Indian nationalism. Long unresolved questions burst to the surface, in the same entrenched categories that had made them unresolvable, in the same hardened rhetoric that sees even the slightest hint of compromise as a betrayal.

 

 

Who should one blame? The original terms on which India and Pakistan were carved out, that still haunt them? Nehru, whose own sense of legitimacy could get so overweening that he stopped listening? Hindu nationalists, who under the garb of nationalism make minorities, feel insecure? The Indian state for promising a plebiscite it knew it could not deliver? The Valley politicians, who for most of history, have had a better sense of how azadi can raise the political temperature, than they have ideas about how it would work in practice? We can blame Pakistan for fomenting violence. We can blame the politicians in the Valley for behaving like most Indian politicians do: lazy when in government, ardent rabble rousers when out of power, more interested in provocation than peace.

 

 

We can blame the current government. After all, the prime minister did promise to restore Kashmir to its natural geography. All he gave Kashmir instead was a limited, measly bus service that has a long waiting list. He did not have the courage to override his national security apparatus and make good on his promises. His government chose not to provide effective means of assuaging Kashmir’s anxiety over the so called blockade. We can blame the “all party” committee that confuses being all party with all people. We can blame the general sense of anarchy being let loose across India, where even the smallest group can hold the state to ransom simply because they can block a highway. We can blame shadowy militants, for whom the cause is merely a pretext to unleash terror. We can blame the Indian security forces, and state officials, who as always, are working without political direction.

 

 

Some will blame the special status of Kashmir. Instead of bringing security, it has permanently suspended it in a nether zone: unable to integrate with India and access its power structures, unable to visualise a future of its own. On the one hand we have not got peace. On the other hand many wonder whether the special dispensations Kashmir has got — excluding outsiders from ownership, the Indian state’s unprecedented solicitousness for the Valley’s demographic composition (just contrast that with Pakistan), the high per capita flow of funds — may have served only to heighten distances, rather than create stronger bonds. There are people who understand the ways in which the Indian state has failed Kashmir. But fewer are able to fathom why, if all those special safeguards are honoured and a genuine representative process is put in place, azadi should rear its head again.

 

 

The Indian state has a legitimacy crisis in Kashmir. But so tangled are the thread of our identities that it is hard to know what warps and wrinkles pulling at one thread will produce. Every one is looking for formulas, but when trust has broken down formulas are pointless. There is also a colossal presumptuousness in doling out advice at this juncture. It is not clear by what authority anyone can give advice. The question is: who will have the political courage to overcome the past, to break this impossible equilibrium, where practical common sense is sacrificed to chimerical abstractions on all sides? But this is a moment of reckoning. Can the idea of India transcend the limitations of the Indian state? This is one question Kashmiri politicians have to answer for themselves. If the answer to this question is a resounding no, then India has to ponder its options. India has in the past sacrificed democracy in Kashmir to its own nationalism. What would it say for the idea of India, if it cannot elicit voluntary allegiance in Kashmir? Will it live with the permanent rebuke to its democracy that Kashmir represents, or will it risk a new paradigm that might achieve what this endless cycle of mutual suspicion has not?

 

The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi express@expressindia.com

 

Independence Day for Kashmir – By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar – TOI

August 17, 2008

RARE SHOW OF COURAGE BY THE TIMES OF INDIA

 

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Columnists/S_A_Aiyar_I-Day_for_Kashmir/articleshow/3372132.cms

 

Independence Day for Kashmir

 

17 Aug 2008, 0338 hrs IST,

 

By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar

 

On August 15, India celebrated independence from the British Raj. But Kashmiris staged a bandh demanding independence from India. A day symbolising the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolising Indian colonialism in the Valley.

 

As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will. True, nation-building is a difficult and complex exercise, and initial resistance can give way to the integration of regional aspirations into a larger national identity — the end of Tamil secessionism was a classical example of this.

 

I was once hopeful of Kashmir’s integration, but after six decades of effort, Kashmiri alienation looks greater than ever. India seeks to integrate with Kashmir, not rule it colonially. Yet, the parallels between British rule in India and Indian rule in Kashmir have become too close for my comfort.

 

Many Indians say that Kashmir legally became an integral part of India when the maharaja of the state signed the instrument of accession. Alas, such legalisms become irrelevant when ground realities change. Indian kings and princes, including the Mughals, acceded to the British Raj. The documents they signed became irrelevant when Indians launched an independence movement.

 

The British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of their Empire, the jewel in its crown, and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial on Kashmir.

 

The politically correct story of the maharaja’s accession ignores a devastating parallel event. Just as Kashmir had a Hindu maharaja ruling over a Muslim majority, Junagadh had a Muslim nawab ruling over a Hindu majority. The Hindu maharaja acceded to India, and the Muslim nawab to Pakistan.

 

But while India claimed that the Kashmiri accession to India was sacred, it did not accept Junagadh’s accession to Pakistan. India sent troops into Junagadh, just as Pakistan sent troops into Kashmir. The difference was that Pakistan lacked the military means to intervene in Junagadh, while India was able to send troops into Srinagar. The Junagadh nawab fled to Pakistan, whereas the Kashmir maharaja sat tight. India’s double standard on Junagadh and Kashmir was breathtaking.

 

Do you think the people of Junagadh would have integrated with Pakistan after six decades of genuine Pakistani effort? No? Then can you really be confident that Kashmiris will stop demanding azaadi and integrate with India?

 

The British came to India uninvited. By contrast, Sheikh Abdullah, the most popular politician in Kashmir, supported accession to India subject to ratification by a plebiscite. But his heart lay in independence for Kashmir, and he soon began manoeuvering towards that end. He was jailed by Nehru, who then declared Kashmir’s accession was final and no longer required ratification by a plebiscite. The fact that Kashmir had a Muslim majority was held to be irrelevant, since India was a secular country empowering citizens through democracy.

 

Alas, democracy in Kashmir has been a farce for most of six decades. The rot began with Sheikh Abdullah in 1951: he rejected the nomination papers of almost all opponents, and so won 73 of the 75 seats unopposed! Nehru was complicit in this sabotage of democracy.

 

Subsequent state elections were also rigged in favour of leaders nominated by New Delhi. Only in 1977 was the first fair election held, and was won by the Sheikh. But he died after a few years, and rigging returned in the 1988 election. That sparked the separatist uprising which continues to gather strength today.

 

Many Indians point to long episodes of peace in the Valley and say the separatists are just a noisy minority. But the Raj also had long quiet periods between Gandhian agitations, which involved just a few lakhs of India’s 500 million people. One lakh people joined the Quit India movement of 1942, but 25 lakh others joined the British Indian army to fight for the Empire’s glory.

 

Blimps cited this as evidence that most Indians simply wanted jobs and a decent life. The Raj built the biggest railway and canal networks in the world. It said most Indians were satisfied with economic development, and that independence was demanded by a noisy minority. This is uncomfortably similar to the official Indian response to the Kashmiri demand for azaadi.

 

Let me not exaggerate. Indian rule in Kashmir is not classical colonialism. India has pumped vast sums into Kashmir, not extracted revenue as the Raj did. Kashmir was among the poorest states during the Raj, but now has the lowest poverty rate in India. It enjoys wide civil rights that the Raj never gave. Some elections — 1977, 1983 and 2002 — were perfectly fair.

 

India has sought integration with Kashmir, not colonial rule. But Kashmiris nevertheless demand azaadi. And ruling over those who resent it so strongly for so long is quasi-colonialism, regardless of our intentions.

 

We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Almost certainly the Valley will opt for independence. Jammu will opt to stay with India, and probably Ladakh too. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.