Posts Tagged ‘Tehelka’

We, The Murderers – By Tridip Suhrid – TEHELKA Weekly

May 4, 2009

http://tehelka.com/story_main41.asp?filename=Op090509we_the.asp

We, The Murderers

Does Gujarat have the resources to come to terms with its moral responsibility?

TRIDIP SUHRUD 
Writer and Social Scientist

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“Many things were then said and done among us; but of these it is better that there remain no memory.” —Primo Levi

IT WAS as if a burden had been lifted. I reacted to the news of the Supreme Court directive to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the role of the Chief Minister, his cabinet colleagues, members of the BJP, VHP, the Bajrang Dal and senior members of the bureaucracy and the police during the violence of 2002, with almost gleeful joy. There was finally a possibility of justice; victims, friends and NGOs fighting for justice stood vindicated.

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Slash and burn CM Narendra Modi is felicitated at a public meeting in Ahmedabad

The list of those who shall be investigated reads like the who’s who of Gujarat. The Chief Minister, the present Speaker of the assembly, the Minister of State for Home, the former Chief Secretary, the former Home Secretary, the former Additional Chief Secretary, the then Police Commissioner of Ahmedabad, two former DGPs; the list of sixty-three persons from the ministry, the legislature, the bureaucracy, the police and the Sangh Parivar makes for scary reading.

As the initial sense of vindication passed, a new responsibility came to haunt. For all these years I had refrained from using that morally poignant word coined by the jurist Raphael Lemkin in 1944. I had spoken of it in private conversations, almost in a whisper, perhaps not wanting to own up to the moral responsibility that utterance would invite. Genocide. I write this with personal shame, with hazy awareness of what it means for us in Gujarat. Genocide is mass murder, deliberately planned and carried out by individuals working with the complicity of the State. Each individual is responsible, whether he (and she, in the case of Gujarat) made the plan, gave the order or carried out the killings. Genocide is made up of these individual acts, the individual chooses to participate in it. Even routine, mundane, banal, bureaucratic acts are acts of choices made. Hannah Arendt would insist that genocide is most ruthlessly effective when it is bureaucratised, made banal and hence routine. An act as routine as closing a relief camp is genocide, where a closure of a file snuffs out lives. It was RB Sreekumar, IPS of the 1971 batch, who through his meticulous records submitted before the Justices Nanavati- Shah (now Mehta) commission brought out the complicity and collaboration of the high functionaries of the police and the civil administration in bringing about what sociologist Shiv Visvanthan has called ‘normalisation’ of the genocide.

In the last seven years Gujarat has used every available means to prove that the state is normal and that what happened was not a genocide but a ‘Newtonian’ reaction to the burning of the Kar Sevaks at Godhra. We questioned the statistics and tried to minimise the loss of lives and the scale of displacement, we claimed that the processes that were unleashed were out of control of the state and the party in power, we blamed the victims, attacked and sullied the motivations of the truth-seekers, justified denial in favour of greater economic interests and claimed that moving forward, being pragmatic was more important than blaming people.

It is technically and legally premature to state that all those under investigation are guilty in the court of law. But never before in the history of modern India has the role of the state, the police and the bureaucracy come under interrogation at this scale. It is not a case of mere ‘highjacking’ of the state by the party in power; it is not a case of a sole, supplicant bureaucrat pleasing the all-powerful political master. What is under investigation is active and wilful participation and abetment of the functionaries of the state in an act of mass murder.

The Supreme Court order questions
Narendra Modi and his team’s hasty and premature exoneration

This order of the Supreme Court also brings under question the premature and hasty exoneration of the chief minister, his council of ministers and police officials by the Justices Nanavati-Mehta commission of enquiry. The order is also an indirect indictment of the judicial processes in Gujarat where hundreds of cases were declared as closed by the courts by granting a plea of summary for lack of evidence or non-availability of the accused. What this indicates is a large scale systemic failure of both the criminal investigation and justice delivery system, cognisance of which must be taken. The process of criminal investigation and trial of the accused will take its due course. It might result in punishment of some as well. But justice is not merely a legal, technical term. It is a moral universe, which sometimes eludes codified law.

THE QUESTION is: how does one act in the face of genocide? How does a society come to terms with its moral responsibility? The first is acknowledgement. We must acknowledge that some of us participated in this act, some of us condoned it, many of us became willing spectators. But acknowledgement is primarily an act of memory. We must keep alive the memory of the act and the dead alive. It is not a memorial that one seeks. An act of memory is an act of bearing witness. One can bear witness only to truth. Let us remind ourselves that testament and testimony bear the same root. As individuals and members of the society we must bear witness to truth and realise that no act of genocide is possible without a large section of the society seeking to have selfwilled amnesia about it. Only then can we move towards truth and reconciliation. Reconciliation requires both atonement and forgiveness. It is one act that binds both the victim and his aggressor in a moral universe. This requires that we as societies have the capacity to recognise pain, have the language of compassion and justice and are capable of atonement. It requires penance that leads to self-purification and recovery.

An act as routine as closing a relief
camp is genocide, where a closure of
a file snuffs out lives

It is morally a large task. Do we have the cultural and moral resources for it? And it is this question that makes me immensely sad. A few weeks ago one of Gujarat’s foremost poets and cultural activists, Saroop Dhruv published a book, Umeed Hogi Koi, on the memories of 2002. She chose to write it in Hindi. One suspects that she felt that the Gujarati language had lost its capacity to bear witness to truth, to capture pain and pleas for justice. We are a society where Gandhi has become a burden that we would rather shed. We wear masks given to us, not because they allow us to hide who we are, but because the mask allows us to express those parts of ourselves that remain inarticulate and repressed. The mask is us.

And yet, one knows that every society is capable of virtue, without which no society can be. Each of us is capable of being moral, just and compassionate, no matter how frayed the societal possibility of it. And it is through individual acts of testimony that we shall move on the long path of self-recovery.

Suhrud, author of Writing Life, is a social scientist based in Ahmedabad.

WRITER’S EMAIL
tridip_suhrud@daiict.ac.in

A running thread of deep saffron – By Christophe Jaffrelot – The Indian Express

January 29, 2009

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/a-running-thread-of-deep-saffron/416409/

 

A running thread of deep saffron

 

Christophe Jaffrelot

Posted: Jan 29, 2009 at 1107 hrs IST

The people behind the Malegaon terrorist attack fell into three categories — Sangh parivar cadres, army men and old Savarkarites. The first person to be arrested by the police, Pragya Singh, was a sadhvi and former ABVP leader. A second group of the accused comprised army men, retired or not, related to the Bhonsle Military School (BMS). Major Ramesh Upadhyay, a former defence services officer was arrested first, but the key figure was Lt Col Prasad Purohit, who had approached Upadhyay when he was posted at Nasik as liaison officer. Purohit and Upadhyay imparted military training to young activists — including bomb making — and were instrumental in getting arms and explosives. 

Most of the training camps took place in the BMS, which had been directed by Rtd Major P.B. Kulkarni between 1973 and 1988, andwho had been associated with the RSS since 1935. In fact, the Bajrang Dal organised training camps in the BMS (Nagpur) as early as 2001. The five accused mentioned above were all members of Abhinav Bharat, a Pune-based movement initiated by Purohit in June 2006, whose working president was Ramesh Upadhyaya but whose president was none other than Himani Savarkar, V.D. Savarkar’s daughter in law, who also headed the Hindu Mahasabha.  

The people, the places and the modus operandi are revealing of the continuity that underlines the Hindu tradition of terror, harking back to V.D. Savarkar. The young, revolutionary Savarkar had created the first Abhinav Bharat Society in 1905. The movement drew its name and its inspiration from Mazzini’s ‘Young Italy’, but was also influenced by Frost Thomas’s Secret Societies of the European Revolution, a book dealing mostly with the Russian nihilists. The movement was dissolved in 1952, but ten years back, just before finishing his term as Hindu Mahasabha president, Savarkar had created the Hindu Rashtra Dal, another militia whose mission was to impart military training to the Hindus in order to fight the Muslims, Gandhi’s followers and the Mahatma himself. This movement cashed in on the work of the same institution — the Bhonsle Military School, started in 1935 by B.S. Moonje, another Nagpur-based Savarkarite, after a European tour which had exposed him to Mussolini’s Balilla movement.

Like the Abhinav Bharat of today, the Hindu Rashtra Dal attracted Hindutva-minded Maharashtrian Brahmins — especially from Poona — who found the RSS insufficiently active. Some of them also had connections to the British Army.

Nathuram Godse and N.D. Apte, the two main architects of Gandhi’s assassination, are cases in point. Godse thought that RSS strategy contented itself with “organisation for the sake of organisation”. The Hindu Rashtra Dal, by contrast, organised training camps where volunteers learnt how to manufacture bombs and use guns from bicycles and cars. The key instructor was N.D. Apte who had served the army as Assistant Technical Recruiting Officer. In this capacity, he could use the War Service Exhibitions — which were intended to attract young Indians to the army — to initiate Hindu Rashtra Dal members into the art of modern arms.

The Hindu Rashtra Dal’s terrorist agenda culminated in the assassination of Gandhi, who had already been a Savarkarite target before — in 1934, they threw a bomb in Poona Municipal Town Hall where Gandhi was making a speech against untouchability.  

While today’s Abhinav Bharat belongs to an old tradition harking back to Savarkar and even Tilak, the new element here lies in the implication of one serving officer of the Indian army. Certainly, any institution can have a black sheep. But was he that isolated? He has already named other officers who would have been his more or less passive accomplices and his colleague, Upadhyay, who once headed the Mumbai unit of the BJP’s ex-servicemen cell. The BJP, indeed, inducted ex-army men in large numbers since the 1990s. After the BJP came to power in 1998, two dozens ex-servicemen more joined the party. This inflow of ex-army men may reflect the increasingly communal atmosphere of the institution. In December 2003, a survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies for Tehelka, one of the first among army men — and probably the most comprehensive — showed that 19 per cent of the soldiers interviewed felt that the army practised some religious discrimination — and 24 per cent of the Muslims among them shared this view. 

Instead of distancing itself from the Hindu terrorists, as it had done in the 1940s, this time the Sangh Parivar has decided to support the Malegaon accused. Bajrang Dal chief Prakash Sharma declared that “policy makers should be worried if the Hindus were taking to arms because of the government’s skewed approach to war on terror” and admitted that the Bajrang Dal was running training camps too “to boost their morale [the Bajrang Dal’s members]. The country wouldn’t get its Abhinav Bindras if there were no armed training for the youth”.

In a way, the RSS, with the Bajrang Dal, has created a buffer organisation to handle the dirty work that the Sangh was earlier obliged to do itself — work similar to that of the Savarkarite organisations, whether they are called Hindu Rashtra Dal or Abhinav Bharat. 

     

The writer is a political scientist and South Asia specialist at CERI, Paris

‘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
 
 

The fall of the house of cards By Ghulam Muhammed

September 18, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

 

 

The fall of the house of cards

 

 

Delhi bomb blasts have completely destroyed the elaborate fiction line that police, investigating agencies, media and politicians all together, deliberately or inadvertently (take your pick) had been dutifully following after each bombing incident all over India. This time around the people were somehow got tired of the old line of blaming SIMI, which seems to have acquired nine lives, now that even two of its masterminds, as declared by ATS, are behind bars and still there is no let up in the bombings.

 

A big change in people’s thinking was brought about by Ajay Sahni’s meticulous investigative articles in Tehelka that exposed the fake demonisation of a ‘chosen’ enemy, as a convenient ploy to cover up the real culprits that were beyond of pale of law, due to apparent political consideration.

 

The disarray started in the UPA camp itself, when three prominent coalition party leaders, publicly expressed the doubt in SIMI could have been involved in all these series of bombing.

 

By the time of Delhi bombings, the storm blew up in the face of the Home Minister, Shiv Raj Patil, who is widely believed to have soft corner for an opposition party, that is most suspected of being involved.

 

The media took the hint of the adverse winds, and started concentrating on the real job of investigative reporting.

 

Following is just one example of how the hints are out, that ‘Indian Mujahideen’ could be an invention of some non-Muslim organisation, out to defame and demonise Muslims and prepare grounds to foment communal riots.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

 

 

 

www.dnaindia.com

 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

 

Page: 1

 

Terror mail writers may not be madrassa products

 

Handwriting analysis shows they are urban-bred and may not know Urdu

 

Aditya Kaul. New Delhi

 

The emails sent before the serial blasts of Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Uttar Pradesh have been signed by three individuals, but one of them was only trying to copy the signature of the group leader just before Jaipur blasts, according to one of Indias leading graphologists.

 

The graphologist, who has helped the police in several investigations, believes that all the signatories are urban bred, English-speaking individuals, who may have had almost no madrassa education, if they are Muslims. It is quite possible that the three persons who have signed the documents do not know Urdu language. And thats because the strokes in the signature of a person who knows how to write and read Urdu are distinctively different. There is no reason to conclude that all of them are Muslims, he said.

 

These people are well educated men and have been born and brought up in metros. They have sound family backgrounds and have been brought up in families with a modern outlook, the handwriting expert said.

 

DNA had over the past two days consulted with some of Indias leading psychologists and handwriting experts to try and figure out the men, and women, if any, who could be playing a key role in the terror groups that are wreaking havoc across Indian cities. Yesterday, DNA carried detailed psychological profiles of the writers of the five terror mails, in which the psychologists surmised that the writers were in the age group of 20-50 and suffered from anti-social personality disorder. They were highly educated.

 

DNA has now been given a detailed analysis of the signatures on the documents. Four of the five emails have been signed — two of them have been signed as Guru Al Hindi and Al Arbi, the third has been signed only by Al Arbi. The fourth carries a signature faked by someone else for Guru Al Hindi.

 

The handwriting expert says there are primarily two people who have signed four of the five emails. These two people — Guru Al Hindi and Al Arbi — are personalities in contrast. One is a confident energetic extrovert individual, while the other is an extremely shy introvert.

 

The two have received assistance from a third person, or more, in drafting the emails. The third person whose signature is on the email sent just before the Jaipur blasts seems to have tried to copy Guru Al Hindis signature and he is only an understudy, if he is part of it.

 

The original Guru Al Hindi looks like the real executive director of the group. He is calm in the head and thats his plus point, says the graphologist.

 

The expert, who studied the email independent of the group of psychologists whom DNA consulted earlier, has agreed with several of their conclusions, including the fact that the emails were prepared by a small group of at least three people. There have been five emails which have credible links to the terrorists — four of them sent just as the explosions were to happen in the Uttar Pradesh courts, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi. The fifth was sent to rubbish the Gujarat polices claims that Simi was behind the Ahmedabad blasts.

 

 

Different strokes in terror mails

 

Handwriting experts say that al Arbi who signed one of the emails may not be a proper follower of Islam

 

Page: 10

 

Aditya Kaul. New Delhi

 

Guru al Hindi and al Arbi, the two persons who signed the terror emails sent just before some of the recent serial blasts across the country, are very contrasting personalities, according to a leading graphologist.

 

DNA had got the handwriting expert to analyse the signatures on the PDF formatted emails sent after the blasts. Four of the five emails have been signed — two of them as Guru al Hindi and al Arbi, the third only as al Arbi. The fourth carries a signature faked by someone else for Guru al Hindi.

 

The expert says Guru al Hindi is a person full of bubbling energy and enthusiastic to achieve something ASAP [as soon as possible]. He is riding high on confidence. And this confidence isnt over-confidence.

 

He knows exactly what he is doing. He is sharp. Kind of an upcoming genius and it would be very tough to trap him. With his kind of sharpness and energy, our agencies stand nowhere as of now.

 

On the other hand, al Arbi is a complete introvert, who is shy of the world and cant speak out much in the open. He is “definitely” a young male, says the graphologist, who has in the past assisted agencies in investigating sensitive cases. al Arbi’s is the only signature in the email sent out rubbishing the Gujarat police claims on the Ahmedabad bombers. Along with Guru al Hindi he has signed the mails just before the Ahmedabad and Delhi blasts. The email sent before the Uttar Pradesh serial blasts does not contain any signatures.

 

Al Arbi puts a lot of effort to hide his real self to anyone around him, but at the same time he is fairly literate and likes to read a lot. This youngster is short-tempered but covers up his anger in front of others. A completely emotionally unstable person and, if he continues to be so, the chances are he might just vanish or come out in the open if ignored, says the analyst. Therefore, the best way to catch him is to show that no one is trailing him, the graphologist, who has an enviable record in assisting crime investigation, suggests.

 

Chances are that al Arbi, a loner by nature, is the only child in his family or the youngest with some elders putting a lot of peer pressure on him. He comes under mental stress easily and yet loves that stage all the time as well.

 

In an interesting twist to the investigations, the graphologist suggests that this young member of the terror group is working and writes a lot and takes down notes regularly. The person could also be into painting, graphic designing or website designing.

 

From the emails it is clear that the writers have extensive knowledge of the Indian media scene, and they invariably carry detailed analysis of some newspapers and events in their mails. The sentence construction, the selection of email IDs of news organisations and other factors too point towards the possible media background of some of those involved in writing these mails and bombings. The graphologist does not deny this possibility in his analysis.

The graphologist suggests that al Arbi is dangerously getting into the habit of breaking rules. Probably he is not even a proper follower of Islam, or not even a Muslim in the first place itself.

 

On the emails, the graphologist said, there is a definite involvement of at least three different people in these documents signed. And there still could be more because the emotions and the tactics to scare and threaten drastically change, which dont match with the characters of the persons signing them.

 

aditya_k@dnaindia.net