Posts Tagged ‘Yogendra Yadav’

Rejoinder to Yogendra Yadav’s TOI article: “Injustice can produce a Gandhi, a Mandela or a terrorist” (Tuesday, October 28, 2008).

October 28, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

 

 

Rejoinder to Yogendra Yadav’s TOI article: “Injustice can produce a Gandhi, a Mandela or a terrorist” (Tuesday, October 28, 2008).

 

 

 

If Yogendra Yadav is referring to the currently popular definition of the word ‘terrorist’, he is wasting his time on matters that are only part of the bigger whole. He must first clearly visualize what he would like to treat as terrorism and what he will not accept as terrorism. Peace cannot be achieved by one-sided colored view of the total picture. An analyst should be prepared to view both sides of the coin.

 

The timing of his article in TIMES OF INDIA, today, on Oct 28, 2008, a few days after ATS has made some arrests of Hindu Radicals from Sangh Parivar, is very significant as much as, before the public exposure of the involvement of Sangh Parivar’s minions in bombings and communal rioting, the whole blame of such ‘terrorism’ was squarely placed on a convenient agencies created invention called SIMI.

 

Even now in his present article, he seems to have written an apologia for the Hindu involvement in terror attacks, when he has finally brought up the subject of what triggers ‘terrorism’. I have not come across any of his writing earlier than this, trying to figure out what motivated SIMI to commit bombings, if at all it is involved and if they were subjected to some injustice.

 

If his main objective is to project how ‘injustice’ impacts the victims, he has not bothered to even hint what injustices had been inflicted on SIMI or Bajrangis and by whom.

 

If it is the state that is guilty of injustice, then why is Yadav so hesitant, circumspect and scared to take on the state as the real culprit who organises such orgy of violence for its own political exigencies?

 

Yadav wants to invite the victims to choose, either to become a Gandhi, a Mandela or a terrorist.

 

However, it is not so easy to make a choice.

 

Even Gandhi and Mandela did not become ‘heroes’, without British co-opting them into carrying on their own political agenda. British were mortally afraid of another ‘mutiny’ in India. They transported Gandhi, a genuine pacifist — back to India to pacify Indian people —- just as they used to transport indentured labour to distant lands. It is the British that got Jinnah to organise a big welcome in Bombay for Gandhi, to project Gandhi as a big national leader. At every step of the way, Gandhi was courted at the highest level, to help British colonialists to maintain peace in the land. It is the British that left India for their own violation or compulsions, and not necessarily on Gandhi’s peace efforts.

 

British got Mandela out of prison after 27 years, when it became impossible to continue apartheid due to pressure from US Human Right groups, who wanted all US investments to pull out of South Africa as per US law requirements.

 

Terrorism in India has wider nuances than what Mr. Yadav has tried to present by way of enticing people to junk ‘terrorism’. His is a very noble exercise. 

However, if he really wants to contribute to clear up terrorism, he should do a deeper study of who is the mastermind behind the curtain manipulating of the pawns on the chessboard.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

————————————————————————————-

TIMES OF INDIA – October 28, 2008


THE PEACE SERIES


Injustice can produce a Gandhi, a Mandela or a terrorist

By Yogendra Yadav, 

Co-director of Lokniti and senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, reminds us that a terrorist is someone who at one point believed in the system


Terrorism is politics by other means. More often that not, a terrorist is a failed or disappointed reformist, someone who at one point believed in the system. Almost every act of mad terrorist violence is shaped by deep passion, not very different from the emotion that shapes any form of creativity. The wounds that a terrorist inflicts on scores of innocent victims are rationalized in the name of justice.


There are no doubt many a mercenaries among the ranks of terrorists, but those who we call terrorists often see themselves as nothing less than heroes, as persons who refuse to take it lying down or follow the conventional and ineffective ways of responding to a perceived injustice. Theirs is often the determination that produces a Gandhi, the quest for justice that creates a Mandela. When this kind of a person takes to terrorism, we lose a vital energy that could have shaped the idea of India.


If we agree that terror is failed politics, then the solution lies in firmly closing the back door of politics of terror and making sure that the front door of democratic negotiation, protest and contestation is kept open.

 

We have to think, in other words, about what the terrorists wish to say, about how they could have said it without taking this route. The trouble with so much talk about terrorism and ways of eliminating it is that it discusses only one half of the solution. Security experts talk only about how to close the back door of terror. But you cannot close all the doors for someone. You have to think equally hard about how to keep the front door of democratic politics firmly open for those who see no hope in the system.


This is not as simple as it looks. Following this simple formula requires complex negotiation with the orthodoxies that we have surrounded ourselves with. It requires not just confronting the bundle of lies perpetrated by communal politics, we also need to face some of the orthodoxies, silences and half-truths of the secular discourse.


How, for instance, do you firmly close the door of terror? This is not just a question for security agencies and terror experts, but also a question for human rights activists and secular politics. Left to themselves, the security experts will come up with solutions that are worse than the problem itself. Laws like POTA or AFSPA may occasionally succeed in nabbing a terrorist who escapes the net of ordinary laws, but the real-life implementation of such laws is bound to create many more terrorists than it nabs. Encounters like Jamia Nagar strike at the public trust in the police force. Reports like the Nanawati Report on Gujarat strike at the public confidence in judges as custodians of truth. The recent violence in Orissa strikes at the idea of rule of law. But those of us who rightly oppose these have a positive duty too. We must come up with an alternative, democratic way of dealing with the terrorists – Jehadis, Bajrang Dalis or whatever variety – that is at once effective and can respect the rights of every citizen.


The more important question in the long run is how do you keep open the doors for democratic negotiations? This brings us face to face with the delicate question of the involvement of some Indian Muslims in the recent acts of terror. Unfortunately one section of opinion in our country does not wish to acknowledge this fact while the other section does not want to look at the reasons why they may have taken to terror. It is only when we acknowledge that a tiny section of the Indian Muslim youth may be involved in it that we can begin to address some of the underlying reasons.


The way to keep doors for democratic politics open for this section of the Muslim youth is to create a space for open discussion about the condition of the Indian Muslims. The Sachar Committee report has done a great service to the country by making it possible to talk about some of these questions. Now we need to take the next step by debating the ways of addressing the disadvantage and discrimination that the Muslims face in every walk of life. We need to discuss modalities of affirmative action for the Muslims. We need to find ways of improving the political representation of the Muslims. Above all, the public arena needs to open itself to hear the voice of the Indian Muslims, their aspiration for dignity, identity and justice.


Secular politics has to evolve a language to speak about these issues to the public at large. In order to do so, it has to begin to address some difficult questions: How do we address some of the legitimate fears of the Hindus about large-scale institutionalized conversions? What are the rights of the Hindu minorities in J&K or in the North East? How do we react to the patently anti-democratic edicts of the Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee? Politics of secularism must not be seen to be weak on minority communalism.


If terror is politics in a distorted mirror, it follows that peace has to be politically crafted. This requires nothing short of renewing the idea of India for a new generation. This requires steadfast commitment to truth and the courage to question our own orthodoxies. We could do worse on a day to remember the maryadapurushottam.

 

[Ends]

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Two Letters and a Story in Hell – By Amaresh Misra

October 16, 2008

 Two Letters and a Story in Hell  

 

                                                                                   By Amaresh Misra

 

          I want to tell everyone a didactic story.

         

          We all knew that torture in Indian jails is a reality; but it has taken two letters to prove why people like Javed Anand, who argued against having any sympathy for innocent Muslims arrested for belonging allegedly to a dreaded organization like SIMI—an organization against which a proper Court tribunal dismissed the Government of India’s plea for a ban—are either sadists, safedposh criminals or simply lackeys of the anti-Muslim, communal forces in India.

          What do these letters say about Yogendra Yadav and his stand? Only he can answer for despite issuing statements against the official version in the Batala House encounter—whatever the reason—he has chosen not to take a powerful enough stand against the ongoing Muslim Persecution in India. What also to say about people like Siddharth Vardarajan who make a big issue about being leftists and sensitive about secularism—appear on International platforms needlessly—but who do not take stand against torture?

          On 23rd November 2007 bomb blasts ripped the Civil Court premises of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh (UP). UP as we all know, is a bastion of secularism as opposed to say, Gujarat. In fact there was no major riot in UP after the Babri Masjid demolition even though the act took place in a district of the State. There was no riot in Lucknow, Allahabad and Varanasi, major UP cities, even in 1947. People still swear by UP’s Ganga-Yamuni Tehzeeb. UP produced the maximum, joint Hindu-Muslim resistance against the British in 1857; it sacrificed millions of its Hindu and Muslim sons to safeguard India’s freedom, faith (Deen), identity, soul and culture. UP was the place which made the BJP lose in the 2004 elections as the party came down to 10 seats in the state, which sends the maximum 80 members to the Indian Parliament.   

          If Gujarat is the new face of a fascist, corporate, anti-democratic, pseudo-modern, murderous and anti-national `India’, UP is the face of a democratic, progressive, indigenously modern, traditional and patriotic India.

          Criminal/Intellectuals like Swapan Dasgupta hate UP and 1857 because it militates against their smelly, underdeveloped, toady `India Today’ type facile, vapid, yet aggressively anti-Muslim, anti-people `modernity’.  

          It is on the point of torture inflicted especially on Muslim youth that despite mutual disagreements, people like Javed Anand, Siddharth Vardarajan and Swapan Dasgupta ultimately share in a conspiracy of silence.

          Yes—back to the November 2007 bomb blasts in UP. As usual Muslim youths were picked up—Aftab Ansari, who was picked up from Kolkata in East India was declared the `master mind’. As is the usual case in today’s India, the `mastermind’ turned out to be an innocent man trapped in the communal machinations of Indian security forces. He was let off by the Court.  

          But there were two other boys who were also picked up by the Police—their names are Muhammad Hakim Tariq Qasmi and Muhammad Khalid Mujahid. Both these boys are still lodged in the Barabanki jail. But the Courts have dismissed the charge of sedition against them—as is bound to happen, they too will be let off as innocents caught wrongly by the Police as the latter do not seem to have any evidence against SIMI or their alleged adherents.

          But what happened to those boys while they are in Police custody, especially that of the Special Task Force (STF)? Both boys have written letters in Urdu to the Judge and the Jail Superintendent. I found these at a Hindi site calledMohalla, run by conscientious Indians, mostly young Hindus.

They are here before you in English, translated, quite badly I suppose by me:    

 

Letter Number 1  

 

To,

The Jail Superintendent and the Chief Judicial Magistrate, from the district jail,

 

I, Muhammad Khalid, am a resident of mohalla Madeeyahoon, district Jaunpur, UP. On 16-12-07, the STF people picked me up in front of a large crowd from a shop in Madeeyahoon; I was taken to an unknown place. There they tortured me; they beat me up in different ways. The hairs of my beard were uprooted from various places. Both my legs were literally torn apart—STF people stood on my face and forced me to lick their penis. Petrol was poured on my anus; it became commonplace to tie one end of a string to my penis, and the other to a stone and leaving me in a standing position. Burning cigarettes buds were stubbed on my penis several times. Despite me being a Muslim I was made to drink alcohol, eat pork and drink urine again and again. Ice was put all over me; I was made forcefully to drink water through my nose because of which I used to almost lose my consciousness. I was burnt several times because of electric shocks and battery charges. All this happened so that I accept that I am guilty.

 

 

Letter Number 2

 

To,

The Jail Superintendent and the Chief Judicial Magistrate, from the district jail,

 

I urge that I, Muhammad Tariq, son of Riaz Ahmed Sakeen, hail fromSammupur Rani Ki Sarai, Azamgarh. I was picked up on 10th December (2007) in front of my medicine shop in Azamgarh by the STF and for 10 days I was tortured mercilessly and a video was made, which showed planted false stories regarding my person. On 22nd December, the STF people took me to Barabanki and showed my arrest with RDX and other explosives. This, when I was in their custody for 10 days—I  had never possessed RDX or any other explosives. From 24th December to 2nd January, the STF put me in their office on remand. The second remand phase started from January 9th when I was under the charge of the Faizabad CO. They tortured me day and night to force me to say things they wanted to me to say; on the night of 17th January 2008, Rajesh Pandey, the CO City of Faizabad, and OP Pandey, the STFdaroga, forced me to hold a red color battery (on which the word Shakti was prominent and there was something which was constantly sticking to my hands). Then I was a forced to hold bottles of Dabur Kevda. Then I was blindfolded and taken to another room.  I do not know what other things they forced me to hold as I was blindfolded. This much I understood that there were bags and boxes. I am afraid that they tried taking my fingerprints through various means. I beg of you these people want to frame me; I am a peace loving, patriotic citizen of India. I have never committed any crime—neither am I of this nature.

 

 

What do you now say—masters of culture and intellectuals of India—people like Sagarika Ghose and Rajdeep Sardesai? What is your specific response to this—are you ready to put these letters on your channel? What about that secular liberal named Vinod Mehta? Is he ready to print these in that magazine called `Outlook’?

 

I know some people might think that Amaresh Misra should tread cautiously and that he will make enemies—I do not care. The people I have named—with the exception of Yogendra Yadav—if they come face to face with me—to yeh log to gayo. All of them are shit scared of the UP temper and the fact that they by not exposing the truth, by deliberately suppressing the truth as in Vinod Mehta’s case, have obstructed justice as defined by India’s constitution, and they are guilty as hell.  

Well, I have a more hair-raising story to tell regarding another torture and it exposes several other lovers of secularism…  

                      

 

 

Prof. Iqbal A. Ansari, noted Human Rights Activist, joins SIMI debate

September 12, 2008

 

Prof. Iqbal A. Ansari, noted Human Rights Activist, joins SIMI debate

 

 

Dear Yogendra Yadav/Ghulam Muhammed/Javed Anand/ Teesta Setalvad,

 

Having read with interest the exchange of emails, enclosed is my own opinion along with some papers. I hope the Citizens’ Declaration will receive your attention.

 

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

Iqbal A. Ansari

 

 

 

Debating SIMI’s Rights and Wrongs

Law, Secularism & Human Rights

 

 

[The following are excerpts from email exchanges mainly between Amresh Misra and Yogendra Yadav over Javed Anand’s article “Suspect SIMI? Of Course” (Indian Express, ……….). Apart from the timing and the title of the article, Javed Anand’s presumption that by welcoming the lifting of the ban on SIMI, the Muslim community is expressing its ideological solidarity, which, in his view is nothing short of suicidal, gave rise to rather harsh response from Ghulam Muhammed, to which exception was taken by Yogendra Yadav….which led to Amresh Misra and Yogendra Yadav exchanging messages, which along with my own comments readers may find enlightening.

 

Also reproduced below is part of my critique of Justice Dhingra’s shockingly pro-establishment judgment in 2003, sentencing Yaseen Patel and Ashraf Jaffary, who were alleged to be members of banned SIMI, for pasting posters calling people to establish Khilafah, in place of Nationalism – Ed.]

 

SIMI & Hindutva Outfits

 

It must be stated that SIMI is a group of zealots inspired by a political Islam which is anti-liberal, anti-modern humanistic, which rejects every other culture and religion as anti-god and in that sense it is very dangerous for Muslims, for India and for humanity. Their ideology should be politically, socially and spiritually opposed and defeated, as all other anti-liberal, anti-humanist ideologies like that of the RSS-VHP-BJP- Bajrang Dal which are dangerous for the Hindus, India and mankind should be politically defeated. In case imposing a ban on their activities was considered extremely necessary by generally political consensus, the banning process should not treat Islamist formations as necessarily ‘anti-national’ and Hindutva formations as inherently ‘national’. However individuals associated with these organizations should not be treated as criminals and put behind bars and even otherwise persecuted.

 

Iqbal A. Ansari (From an article of 2003)

 

 

If the Accused Are Muslims, Police Testimony Alone Is Sufficient for Conviction: Justice Dhingra on SIMI Case

 

 

Iqbal A. Ansari

 

On 21 July, 2003 the Addl. Sessions Judge S.N. Dhingra, of the Designated POTA Court New Delhi held two young Muslims, Mohd Yaseen Patel and Mohd Ashraf Jaffary guilty under sections 20 of POTA and 124-A of the I.P.C and sentenced them to five and seven years imprisonment under the two sections for waging war against India and disturbing communal harmony. They were alleged to have been associated with the banned organization SIMI and were apprehended by the police while they were allegedly pasting posters on 27 May 2002 on the wall of Jamia Millia Islamia University Library, New Delhi at about 1:50 P.M., which read:

 

“Destroy Nationalism, Establish Khilafah”. According to the statement of Mrs. Farhana Jaffary, wife of Mohd. Yaseen Patel, the police had raided their house during the night of 26/27 May and arrested Mohd Yaseen Patel and her brother Mohd Ashraf Jaffary, who was staying with them in her house in Zakir Nagar. The allegation of pasting of posters on JMI Library wall was called a pure fabrication.

 

The police did not produce any independent witness under the plea that people did not want to be involved in criminal cases to avoid harassment. But what prevented the police to even inform the University Proctor, and the Librarian? The Vice-Chancellor’s office is just across the road from the library. Members of the public may not easily volunteer as witness as claimed by the police, but it constitutes part of University officials duty, especially of Proctor’s staff to keep a watch over whatever is happening, especially in a criminal case by outsiders. Instead of questioning the police officials, who were the only witness in the case, about this serious failure, Justice Dhingra accepted every word of the police statement and allegations as gospel truth under the plea that “there is no reason why the investigation officer should have falsely implicated the accused person or the police persons should have deposed against the accused persons unless they were not actually caught indulging in the act of pasting antinational posters on the wall”.

 

In another judgment delivered by the same learned judge S.N. Dhingra on 27 August 1996, in case No. 34/95 State Vs. Shyam Vir and others arising out of riots in Tirlokpuri, Delhi in 1984, he had observed that the police and the entire criminal justice system was subservient to the political masters.

 

Bemoaning that in the 50th year of independence no serious effort had been made to reform the police the learned judge described the true character of the crime investigating agencies in India as “gifts of colonial era of British Empire. They are aimed to sub serve their political masters faithfully”.

 

How come that Justice Dhingra holds a diametrically opposite view now about the role of the police in this case, as independent, conscientious and dutiful servants of society dedicated to upholding rule of law? What inference, can be drawn about the role of the Courts according to his lordships own observations?

 

I would like to remind Justice S.N. Dhingra of his own telling remarks made in the judgment of 1996 referred to above that “governmental lawlessness had to be checked”. In the course of the judgment Justice Dhingra had expressed the opinion that not only the police but also “Courts are more available to the wealthy, powerful and resourceful persons. The rich and resourceful are often able to wriggle out of the legal net. The law enforcement agencies are more favorably inclined to the strong and powerful, to the detriment of weak and powerless”.

In times of divisive politics and social inter-group conflicts, it is the judiciary that people look up to for justice. Let the people not get the impression that judiciary has started losing the capacity to transcend existing political climate of opinion and ideological considerations. I have to add that POTA is part of this lawlessness of the government, whose very justice basis provides scope of abuse against political opponents, as has been realized by lits framers. What is not so commonly realized is the fact that POTA is part of ‘jurisprudence of suspicion’ and is supportive of the ideology of Hindu nationalism as the Annual Report of the Union Home Ministry has discussed terrorism within the country, primarily in terms of Islamic fundamentalism and radical leftist movements.

 

The judiciary therefore need to be more than ordinarily careful in deciding cases related to persons belonging to vulnerable minority religious groups, accused of charges of sedition and waging war against the nation on the basis of posters and pamphlets and other reading material, the like of which was stated by the police to have been seized when they raided the house of the two accused in Zakir Nagar, New Delhi.

 

Justice Dhingra’s judgment appears to be setting example contrary to his own preaching on the right of all sections to equal justice. Justice appears tilted in this case, tangibly and palpably, in favour of the political establishment and its subservient police and investigating agencies.

 

 

 

Dear Amresh Misra, Yogendra Yadav, Javed Anand and Ghulam Muhammed,

I consider it a bane of Indian public discourse that it has still not come out of the communal-secular paradigm of pre-1947 era, which distorts very formulation of most issues especially those related to Muslims as a religious community. What is needed is an all embracing human rights perspective, of which secularity of State and public institutions is a necessary part, which alone can ensure equal  rights to all individuals and groups. May I know, if Yogendra Yadav is aware of the reality of the communalization of not only the police but the majoritarian orientation of the justice system which has made delivery of secular justice uncertain, especially to Muslims? That is one major reason for the desperation of Muslim youth, which got first manifested in Mumbai 1993, by isolated individuals without any Muslim political and religious group’s support. If “Indian Mujahideen” has really come into existence, all of us need to give highest priority to vigorously pursuing the reform of the police & justice system for impartial law-enforcement for prevention and control of violent conflicts and prompt untainted delivery of justice, that one largely finds in the Western democracies including the U.S.A, where the white American who killed a Sikh in the wake of 9/11 mistaking him for an Afghan Muslim was sentenced to death within two years. Its being a hate crime was given due consideration by the trial court.

All votaries of secularism must keep in view that there cannot be any democratic governance without rule of law; and there can be no secular state without secular justice. However, traditional societies do not live by law alone. Ethno-religious issues causing Hindu-Muslim conflict over more than 150 years, which have been periodically exploited for political mobilization, cannot be left to be resolved by law alone. Rule of law is a necessary but not sufficient condition for managing diversity and ensuring equality in a country like India. It requires conciliation through institutionalized dialogue which needs establishing a statutory Community Relations Commission (CRC) for monitoring, prediction and management/ resolution of inter-religious/ethnic/linguistic conflicts over issues like cow, conversion, Ayodhya, Bande Mataram – which I recommended in the report that I wrote on behalf of the NCM Committee headed by Justice Tarkunde in 1999.

All those recommendations which we started formulating since 1994 in the CFD – CSSS Seminar in Mumbai jointly organized by me and Asghar Ali Engineer, were used by Teesta & Javed Anand in the workshop that we jointly organized in Delhi in 2004 under the Minorities Council, Citizens For Justice and Peace and Communalism Combat, which led to the framing of the Bill on ‘Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity’ and also specific suggestions on police reform and the proposal for the CRC. Shabnam Hashmi, Harsh Mander & Colin Gonsalves also jointly brought out a good Draft Communal Crimes Bill 2004.

 

May I ask Javed Anand to remind Teesta as well as Shabnam Hashmi, Harsh Mander and Colin Gonsalves and others working in this area to jointly meet to decide on modalities of a campaign for a minimum agenda for reform of police & justice delivery system and for constituting a statutory CRC/ National Peace Council?

 

Our civil society initiative supported by a good number of eminent citizens of all communities resulted in the formation of Inter-Community Peace Initiative in 2001 to promote both rule of law and dialogue, whose Conciliation Group brought out Position Papers on most contentious issues. There was fairly good measure of success on the issue of cow, about which my plea to Muslims to declare that they will not slaughter cow for food or ritual sacrifice, in deference to sentiments of sections of Hindus, gained increasing acceptability. However my efforts directed towards preventing Ayodhya II during 1999-2000 failed to yield any result, simply because in spite of reasonable stance of leading Muslim ulama, with whom I was in close touch, the pious looking, soft spoken Shankaracharya Jayanendra Saraswati of Puri turned out to be a spokesman of RSS-VHP.

 

During all this period I pointed out that traditional Hindus should not allow VHP-RSS to monopolise the Sanatan Dharma Hindu religio-cultural space, as the Hindutva ideology of nationhood – nation worship distorts Hindu religious traditions as well as its being anti-humanistic. Alas search for genuine representatives of non-Sangh Hindu Sanata Dharma, having standing in the community did not yield any result. Hence Ayodhya II, which led to Gujarat 2002, which is encouraging home grown terror.

Now I feel encouraged by Amresh Misra’s insights and perspectives. Shall we all along with other friends have a meeting in October 2008 to revive the ICPI, whose mission statements, aims and objects etc. were all adopted after thorough discussion among friends from right, left and center in January 2001 at Gandhi Peace Foundation.

 

II

 

While discussing legality of the ban on SIMI and political advisability of lifting the ban, besides my observations made in 2003, in the critique of Justice Dhingra’s judgment in Patel and Jaffary case the following may be kept in view:

 

1. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2006 like POTA has majoritarian orientation. Let us examine and amend it so that Shiv Sena and Hindutva formations, which are inherently xenophobic, exclusivist and violent and whose agenda of hate and revenge is responsible for periodic violence against Muslims (and now Christians) and many other regional-linguistic communities, are brought under its scanner. Let us recall the characterization of Mumbai riots (1992-93) by AM Rosenthal of the New York Times as essentially anti-Muslim pogrom, and his observation that Hindu hate literature against Indian Muslims is almost exactly the same in manufactured paranoia as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Hitler’s favourite.

 

There should be no place for such organizations in India which claims to be a secular liberal democracy with human rights commitment. Why do they survive and prosper? Rosenthal again gives the answer: Shiv Sena could have been put down in hours. The state and national governments behave like Weimar reborn – disorganized frightened, gutless.

 

2. SIMI as initially conceived and organized was not committed to using force or aggressive campaigning of its bigoted ideology of political Islam, though it must be acknowledged that SIMI’s majoritarian ideology of Islam did not wholly owe to the rise of Hindutva in 1980s, its radicalization and possible involvement of some of its members in providing some support to violent acts owes to the aggressive Hindutva campaign after Meenakshipuram (1981) , Ramjanambhoomi Movement (1984); opening of the gate of Babri Masjid (1986); Shilanyas (1990), Demolition & Riots (1992-93). Hence Guru Al Hindi’s characterization of Hindutva politicians as ‘evil’, the police as ‘wicked’ and ‘justice’ as ‘hellish’.

 

In my opinion it is the illegal ban and consequent indiscriminate persecution of innocent Muslims of all types and ages in the name of SIMI which has hardened sections of Muslim youth into doing their worst.

 

Lifting the ban is the only ethical, legal and secular political option. But all those Muslims who are committed to justice, peace and democracy should expose the dangers of aggressive tribalisation of Islam by SIMI. In the post-ban period, along with strengthening institutions of rule of law, letting SIMI get normalized and possibly reformed and mainstreamed will have greater success than continuing the State’s repression.

 

Most important aspect is the socio-political psychology of minorities, especially Muslims. For the Muslim community SIMI has had a marginal existence, even a source of threat to its fair treatment in the country. But singling out SIMI for ban and repression of many innocent Muslims in the name of SIMI, has led to the process of increasing owning of SIMI by the community.

 

It is this situation-specific owning that Javed Anand (whose sense of belonging to the Muslim community as well as to justice and peace, in my opinion, is genuine) took as a sign of Muslim solidarity with SIMI; hence his effort to warn us of the danger, which Yogendra Yadav welcomed for the health of secular politics. I agree with Yogendra Yadav that Muslims should frankly discuss in public the failings and negative trends  within the Muslim community, including their anti-humanistic interpretation of Islam – which I have been doing – but it is true that most Muslim intellectuals feel that to establish their secular credentials, they must not voice genuine grievances and demands of Muslims.

 

The treatment of Muslims by the media, especially electronic has not been fair in the current phase of assumption of Muslim guilt unless proven innocent. Hence the ‘Indian Munjahideen’s’ curse against them. But except for a few newspapers and channels it might have been more for commercial reasons of media competitiveness than any communal bias, as has happened in Aarushi case. In any case the way some channels have presented mere suspects in bomb blast cases as proven anti-national criminals requires the Supreme Court and the Press Council to lay down stricter guidelines. My NCM Report (1999) included recommendations for empowering proposed CRC to advise, warn and initiate legal proceedings against erring sections of media, especially when potential for mischief far outweigh considerations of earliest /instant information to the public.

 

The lawlessness of the lawyers and Bar Associations, denying the suspect/ accused right to fair trial which requires competent counsel of his choice, is no less reprehensible than police lawlessness. It is well that the PUCL has sent a letter on April 15 2008 to the Bar Association of India reminding it the right of accused to a competent counsel of his choice and fair trial.

 

It is time that secular intellectuals paid attention to the near absence/marginal presence of Muslims in effective positions in most national institutions, especially of governance – all wings and branches of the police and the judiciary – and in various Commissions and the media, which is largely responsible for their distorted anti-secular functioning by neglect or design. It will require implementing the human rights norms on socially diverse composition of all institutions. Unfortunately India takes legitimate pride in its cultural diversity, but its record of social exclusion is appalling, the crucial reason of which lie  in raising the false alarm of ‘secularism in danger’ to deny sectional demands of Muslims, as communal. Hence the need for paradigm shift from secular-communal to concerns related to Human Rights, Justice, Peace & Inclusiveness which require the secularity of the State to uphold rule of law, and ensure substantive equality to vulnerable, and disadvantaged minorities especially Muslims, which necessitates affirmative measures for their adequate presence in effective positions.

 

III

 

Irrespective of genuineness of its authorship, I would like to draw the attention of friends to the following observations made in the email signed by Guru-Al-Hindi and Al Arbi on behalf of ‘Indian Mujahideen’, after Jaipur and Ahmedabad blasts.

 

“Think of the fraud perpetrated on us in the name of Nanavati Commission. Remember the blasphemy of the Government in the name of judiciary and fast-track courts”

“The terms Democracy, secularism, equality, integrity, peace, freedom, voting, elections are yet another fraud with us”

 

“You try to fool us in the name of fast-track courts made for ’93 riot cases, through which you wish to free the actual Hindu culprits like Madhukar Sarpotdar who was caught red-handed with illegal firearms while the innocent Muslims arrested in the bomb blast case are being tried in the courts for years and years. Is this the hellish justice you speak of?”

 

“You agitated our sentiments and disturbed us by arresting, imprisoning, and torturing our brothers in the name of SIMI and the other outfits in Indore, Ujjain, Mumbai and in other cities of Karnataka.”

 

In the second email the state of policing and justice system is more pithily described in the following words:

 

“In our last email (ID: guru-alhindi@yahoo.fr password: newdelhi) we told you about Krishna Commission. In that commission it is very clear that the cops who brutally killed the Muslims and destroyed their properties have got promotions and are enjoying good government support, whereas the innocent Muslims who lost everything in riots are still waiting for justice.

 

In Gujarat also Narendra Modi who gave the orders to kill the Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 won two consecutive term of vidhaan sabha.

 

Now, we want to shift your attention towards Hyderabad, where recently the Muslim women peacefully protesting against the arrest of innocent Muslim youths, were kidnapped and were tortured brutally by Hyderabad cops.

Babu Bajrangi who killed the Muslim women in their pregnancy and kept their child on spear is moving freely in Gujarat.

 

Bal Thackeray is free Ijaz Pathan is dead, Tiger Memon still running away, and Shiv Sena continues to spread its Terror on the streets of Mumbai and Maharashtra. The modest Muslim who went for the revenge of the demolition of Babri Masjid were arrested and tortured on the charges of treachery, the rest who fled away from India are now being brought back from different countries of the world. This is only to make Muslims to realize their second class status in the country.”

 

The two letters are written in a language of a tribal leader who having been hurt to the core is overpowered by rage and starts raving and invoking the wrath of God, who he considers to be on his side. In this unsound state of mind he boasts of his omnipotence which will destroy the enemy and all those who he imagines are even remotely related to the enemy.

 

Let not our outrage over such a tribal leader of the dark ages make us totally ignore the genuineness of the cause of his rage lying in ‘wicked police’ and ‘hellish justice’ and ‘evil politicians’ especially, though not exclusively, of the Sangh Parivar/ Shiv Sena. While there is a need, especially for the Muslim community, to prevent the rise of such Muslim bigotry by all reformative educational means, the Hindu community should not always use the protective cover of ahimsa and ‘equal respect for all religions’ and liberals of secularism, while ignoring the basic requirements of justice to the vulnerable sections. It is unfortunate that no heed is being paid either by the civil society including the political class and the media or the state and central governments, to the sources of Muslim youth’s anger and desperation lying in persistent denial of justice as repeatedly stated in the email, though its linkage with acts of terrorism in Mumbai (1993) and in Coimbatore (1998) have been recorded by Justice Srikrishna and Justice Gokula Krishna, in their reports.

 

Riots and terror of retaliatory communal-jihadi variety are two sides of the same coin. It is unfortunate that the considered opinion of the fifth report of the Administrative Reforms Commission as well as pronouncements of the Supreme Court twice during the hearings of Gujarat carnage 2002 cases that communal violence poses more serious threat to the state and society than terrorism has not attracted enough public attention – which has made Prime Minister Manmohan Singh routinely declare during the last SAARC summit that terrorism is the greatest threat to the countries of the region, which makes him easily lay the entire blame at the others’ door. Why should ripping open a pregnant woman’s womb and smashing the foetus be considered a lesser threat to the nation and the State than killing of an infant by splinters of an exploded bomb operated by a terrorist not present to witness the scene, though both cause similar outrage to our conscience? Does gang raping of women and burning them alive and videotaping all the scenes not pose any threat to the State? Should the nation take it in its stride, only because it is labeled as ‘riot’? I am enclosing the copy of a Citizens’ Declaration on Protection of Innocent Persons During All Situations of Use of Force by all parties i.e. the State, the militant political groups and organized hate groups. I would like you to give your consent for signature and lend support by getting it signed by eminent citizens that you know.

 

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

Iqbal A. Ansari

 

iqbalansari35@gmail.com

 

 

Ongoing discussion on SIMI

September 3, 2008

ONGOING DISCUSSION ON SIMI


———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Amaresh Misra misra.amaresh@gmail.com

Date: Sep 1, 2008 3:00 AM

Subject: urgent

To: yusuf5@yahoo.com, yogendra.yadav@gmail.com, ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com, DR MUJAHID GHAZI Ghazi <urdutalkradio@gmail.com>, gautam adhikari <gautam.adhikari@timesgroup.com>, ghosesagarika@gmail.com, gmoonis <gmoonis@bidmc.harvard.edu>, shahid_ali_khan@yahoo.com, SHRIKUMAR PODDAR <shrikumar@comcast.net>, Shakir Husain <shusain6147@gmail.com>, arif durrani <dxb.arif@gmail.com>, aps khati <sanjaykhati@gmail.com>, Suman Tarafdar <suman.tarafdar@gmail.com>, sai@rediff.co.in, Aamir Suhail <asuhail@gmail.com>, akam47@yahoo.com, biju2u@gmail.com, su204 <su204@aol.com>, Shahran Asim <shahran.asim@gmail.com>, saeed325@hotmail.com, sanjay.verma2@timesgroup.com, randeep ramesh <randeepramesh@yahoo.com>, Arundhati Roy <perhaps@vsnl.net>, perwaizjafri@yahoo.com, padmaalva@hotmail.com, parampuri@gmail.com, pjoshi@hindustantimes.com, punyaprasun@gmail.com, Fayyaz Khan <fayyaz.khan@att.net>, wkhan@optonline.net, webel.susmita@hotmail.com, Ashhar Hashimi <ashharhashimi@gmail.com>, tarun@tehelka.com, Arun Tripathi <tripathiarunk@rediffmail.com>, Terrie Albano <talbano@pww.org>, Rasheed Ahmed <rasheed_imc@yahoo.com>, ahmadcameron@yahoo.com, shahid askari <shahidaskari@rediffmail.com>, bishmoitra <bishmoitra@outlookindia.com>, Bibek Debroy <bdebroy@gmail.com>, Crispin Bates <Crispin.Bates@ed.ac.uk>, Meenal Baghel <meenal.baghel@timesgroup.com>, soumya bhattacharya <soumya@hindustantimes.com>, balmukund.sinha@timesgroup.com, barkha@ndtv.com, Admiral Bhagwat <admiralvb@hathway.com>, chawla.48@gmail.com, chitrangada.c@gmail.com, HARI DESAI <haridesai@gmail.com>, diwakar.asthana@timesgroup.com, duleepcmatthai1@dataone.in, eshwar.niwas@gmail.com, editor@urdutimes.net, Editpages <editpages@thehindu.co.in>, editorinchief@tribuneindia.com, editor@cobrapost.com, gmoonis@yahoo.com, gopalrai1975@rediffmail.com, haiderkazim@gmail.com, hussainanwer786@yahoo.co.in, indrajit hazra <Ihazra@hindustantimes.com>, Radio Islam <producer@radioislam.com>, Mohsin Jamali <mjamali76@yahoo.com>, ketkarkumar@gmail.com, khalidjk@sify.com, tariq.faizi@gmail.com


                SIMI Question: The Political aspect

 

                                                By Amaresh Misra

         

This might be considered a delayed response to Shri Yogendra Yadav’s last, detailed comment on the SIMI Question. I am on a US lecture tour to promote awareness about Indian history and 1857; the past few days were hectic and I had no time on my hands.

Shri Yadav raises four positions on the SIMI question: The Ghulam Muhammad line, the Amaresh Misra line, the Javed Anand line and the establishment line. Distancing himself from the establishment line, Shri Yadav finds empathy with the Javed Anand line. He says that the Amaresh Misra line improves upon the Ghulam Muhammad line but does not `delink’ SIMI from Indian Muslims at large—Shri Yadav broadly believes that innocent Muslims and SIMI sympathizers, are being harassed in SIMI’s name even though, as per law, the organization might not have been linked to any terror attacks. He says that we can only fight such harassment, or the secular forces will be more emboldened if secularists distanced themselves from SIMI.

          The question is political for Shri Yadav raises the issue of winning the mainstream Hindu population to the secular cause and that this `winning over’ will be difficult if secular forces or Muslims welcome the lifting of a ban on SIMI. Now let us make one thing clear: were Muslims or the Urdu media welcoming the lifting the ban on SIMI per se? I guess not—since several innocent Muslims were harassed in SIMI’s name, they were welcoming relief for those victims. In fact if you read Urdu editorials carefully, you will find that they have not expressed support for SIMI’s ideology—for them SIMI’s ideology remains, a non-issue.

          Now Shri Yadav might say that this is precisely the point: SIMI’s ideology is not a non-issue, if only because mainstream Hindus have a supposed dread of SIMI.

          Shri Yogendra Yadav might not realize this—but this is exactly the argument put forward by soft Hindutva or pseudo/weak secular forces: fight Muslim persecution but do not raise the name of the association in whose name Muslim persecution was generated (for fear of a Hindu backlash). The same `backlash specter’ is raised when Bal or Raj Thackeray or Narendra Modi or Advani are to be arrested.   

          The problem is that this is impractical—in a political battle you have to focus on the main enemy—Shri Yadav says that secular forces ought to avoid, the label `pro-Muslim’ if they want to win mainstream Hindus over to the secular cause. I pose a counter question: what if secular forces, largely liberal Hindus like Shri Yogendra Yadav, have by and large, under the plea that the RSS will be strengthened, avoided defending civil rights guaranteed to Muslims under the Indian constitution as a minority group?

          To me that is the main problem—in the name of delinking SIMI from Indian Muslims Shri Yadav gets his priorities wrong—SIMI’s name was never linked with Indian Muslims in the first place—the linkage is an invention of communal forces in India and the Indian security forces. It is a diabolical design to identify all Muslims with SIMI and then persecute them.

          So SIMI more or less is an `invention’—the same way in which `the existence of WMDs in Iraq‘ was a lie and a fraud perpetrated by George Bush and his cohorts on the world, or the `Jewish enemy’ was invented by Hitler.   You do not fight malicious, fascist stereotypical inventions by `delinking’ them from a community—you expose them by pointing out  how and why they are inventions and what harm these inventions are going to do.

          Indian secularists have to make a choice here—whether you regard `SIMI as a terrorist organization’ construct as an `invention’. Many of Mr. Yadav’s doubts stem from the concern that what if tomorrow some terror links of SIMI are discovered?

          This `what if’ line is very dangerous—unconsciously it promotes murder. At the time of the Iraq invasion when the US State and Intelligence agencies were proclaiming for a `fact’ that Saddam Hussein has WMDs, Indian `liberals’ like Tavleen Singh and the like also insisted that one should not oppose the invasion blindly as there could be some truth in the WMD allegations. The same argument that `mainstream American or the world opinion will be alienated’ was given; in the end, what happened? Ultimately the American establishment was proven to be wrong—it’s `leftist’ and Muslim critics proven right. There were no WMDs in Iraq—so what is now the accountability of those intellectuals who misused their unique position by posing ifs and buts in a clear cut situation where the illegal American invasion had to opposed, without any doubts, simply because it was an evil act.

          Of course, these people are intellectuals—so they are spared the burden of accountability—even though their ambivalence ended them making an accomplice in mass murder in Iraq.

          I was amongst those who disagreed with Saddam and said so openly—but that did not come in the way of me defending Saddam’s legal rights against America. According to Shri Yadav’s logic, even if you disagree with SIMI’s thinking, you should `delink’ yourself from defending it, as that would send a `wrong message’.

          Message to—what—the RSS? In fact the opposite is true and I would like Shri Yadav to ponder over this question: that the real `delink’ that ought to be made is between the RSS and the Hindus. In a Hindu majority country, the RSS-BJP has never won more than 15-20% of the vote as a single party. The RSS-BJP ought to have won 300 seats in the Indian Parliament at least once; the fact that they did not shows how much they do not represent Hindus.

          I do not think even Shri Ghulam Muhammad for once said that SIMI represents the entire Muslims of India. His position is similar to that of mine that you cannot defend an `abuse’ by separating the content from the form arbitrarily. SIMI is the `form’, the bugbear that has been invented by the communal forces in the Indian State power. You do not `delink’ the bugbear—you expose it as a bugbear and how it was used to persecute Muslims.

          Muslims have never associated RSS with all Hindus—in fact if you go to Deoband, there is a whole subject on Sanatan Dharma—you might  know that Sanatan Dharma is the real religion of Hindus—the four Shankacharyas have condemned the RSS on several occasions and if you ask the Sanatan Dharma religious leaders they too say that SIMI is an invention!

          Sanatan Dharma forces were engaged actively in defeating the BJP in the 2004 elections—I know this for a fact as I was part of these campaigns in UP in several constituencies where the BJP lost, was reduced to 10 seats in UP and lost the national mandate. When Golwalkar was alive he had a debate with Swami Swarupanand, the Shankaracharya of Badrinath and Dwarika, in which Golwalkar said that he regards Lord Rama as a `Mahapurush’ and not a God. Swarupanand replied that in that case, Golwalkar is close to the position adopted by Ravana—who too refused to believe that Rama is God’s incarnation.

          Mark the subtle nuances of the Swarupanand-Golwalkar debate—the Shankaracharya is saying early on what he said right after the Mandir movement—that the RSS is atheist and `aadharmik’—RSS as fascists do not believe in the concept of God as a power independent of human will. True religion materializes—gives a concrete form and meaning—to spiritual reality. On the other hand, fascism spiritualizes material reality i.e. it ascribes divine status to a material entity like race, or homeland. In RSS run schools, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh are not worshipped—an abstract concept of the `motherland’ is worshipped—this concept has vague territorial boundaries and transforms into a tyrannical monster whose abstract will has to be enforced by force.

           Any religion like Islam or Sanatan Dharma, which believes in a formless God existing independent of man’s will, reinforces humanism and enlightenment as it tends to take human endeavor towards understanding that formless reality. By contrast, fascist thinking blocks enlightenment as formless reality is not recognized there—instead divinity is ascribed to an abstract but grotesquely distorted and concrete entity like the race or the nation or the motherland.

That is why democracy is the opposite of fascism—the former rests on questions and doubts and celebration of difference in the human quest towards the understanding his or hers relationship with the formless reality—democracy believes that human mastery is never complete. Fascism however marks the `end of history’ and the depiction of the State or `Bharat’ or a race as an end to itself, as a truth unto itself, as perfection ordained and immutable, something before which the human head should bow down; religion says that man can only bow before the formless God; Muslims are justified therefore in challenging RSS’ concept of nationalism—in the latter nation is divine—it is not a man made, civilizational entity. If you recognize nation as a man made, civilizational entity, then you have to recognize Muslim contribution and the like. On the other hand, if the nation is a fixed, complete, divine entity from before—even before the Muslims came, then Muslims obviously have no part to play in the making of that nation. They are outsiders—the `other’ which has to be `purged’.

          Because Hindus too believe in a formless God (Brahma) they also do not worship the nation and they do not understand when the RSS asks them to do so—that is where Islam and Sanatan Dharma stood shoulder to shoulder in 1857 and they do so now. So Sanatan Dharma Hindus will not be effected or prejudiced against Muslims if SIMI’s `invention’ is exposed or Muslim persecution is sought to be ended; you do not have to `delink’ SIMI and Muslims in order to defend the latter—if you do so, you will fall into the perfect trap set by the fascists.

          Hindus are dismayed even more than Muslims because fascists have taken over the media and they project a distorted Hindutva image of Sanatan Dharma. In fact Hindus will support a position that fearlessly questions Muslim demonization in the name of SIMI. For the public at large, SIMI’s ideology is an academic question that only diverts attention from the real issues.

          I have experience in dealing aggressively with the RSS and winning over even a section of the RSS support base. I hope you are aware of this; I have never had to explain to Hindus that what is SIMI or its ideology—I merely say that this is an `invention’ created to divert our attention.

          I would again urge you that the Javed Anand’s line is a smoke screen, a variant of the Establishment line only. In the light of arguments given above, please consider this—without exposing SIMI as an invention of security/communal forces you will not be able to fight Muslim persecution. The communal forces will trap you in a position where you will have to chuckle and pass over the torture and killing of `Muslims who have SIMI links’. This is what happens in reality—and I am sorry to say, this is where liberals like you fail. I have the experience of fighting for the cause of 1993 Mumbai Bomb Blast accused with the blessings of the Badrinath Shankaracharya. And I was able to extricate several innocent victims out of the mess.

          In a letter written to Rajiv Gandhi just after the infamous `shilanyas’, which opened the floodgates of communal politics in India, Shri Kamala Pati Tripathi, the Indira Gandhi loyalist and UP’s Chief Minister, openly stated that `the only way to fight the RSS was in the streets with Lathis’; and that Rajiv Gandhi is making a huge mistake in giving them leverage in Ayodhya. Shri Tripathi was not a radical—but he was a Sanatan Dharmi; note the aggression in his tone.

            In India, often you have to be seen as pro-Muslim in order to fight fascism—this is what your enemy does—you do not have to fear it—Hindus know who is who and what is what; it is the fascist forces who want you to throw away the secular cause, or fight the secular cause `in a certain safe way’, who instill the fear that if you will talk about the right of Muslims you will be labeled as pro-Muslim.

Mulayam Singh Yadav did not fall into this trap when he was called Maulana Mulayam by Advani. Nehru did not reply when he was called pro-Muslim.

Please take note…                                         

                                                                                       


Regards
Amaresh Misra

==============================================

Yogendra Yadav <yogendra.yadav2@gmail.com>                                 

 

5:45 am (4 hours ago) 

                         

yogendra.yadav@gmail.com       

                         

TO: Amaresh Misra <misra.amaresh@gmail.com> 

 

 

CC: yusuf5@yahoo.com,

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DR MUJAHID GHAZI Ghazi <urdutalkradio@gmail.com>,

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                                    Sep 3, 2008 5:45 AM   

                                    Re: urgent           

                                    gmail.com          

Amresh ji

 

Thanks for your response. I really appreciate the tone of this exchange from you. Like the previous pieces, this piece also serves to remind me of how much I share with you, especially your emphasis on sanatana dharma. This latest piece also brings out three very basic differences between our positions:

 

1. You are convinced that SIMI’s terror links are an invention as much as Iraq’s WMD were; I am not, for I do not think we have seen enough credible evidence at this stage to be so sure of this judgment.

 

1A. You think that my agnosticism on this question is dangerous for it can support the evil. I recognise its risk (especially if I do agree with you some time later that SIMI terror link was purely a figment of imagination) but would knowingly opt for this in the present condition of partial information. I fear that the cost of your reading going wrong are so high (as it would then definitely lead to an inescapable link between Indian Muslims and terror) as to be completely unacceptable to me.

 

1A. You think that without exposing SIMI as an invention of security/communal forces it is not possible to fight Muslim persecution. I believe on the contrary, that it is counter-productive to get into a position on SIMI-terror link if our main purpose is to defend the innocent victims who are being harassed in the name of SIMI.

 

2. You believe that secularists in India should be prepared to be seen as “pro-Muslim” in order to fight fascism. I believe that secularists should neither be pro-Muslim (or pro-Hindu etc) nor be seen as such. They should simply follow a principled line and be assiduously truthful and take care that they are seen to be doing so. (in this pursuit they are bound to seen as pro-this or pro-that, but that should not deter them). The future of politics of secularism depends to my mind being able to capture this place in public consciousness.

 

2A. You think that in our context the secular politics should oppose majority communalism while tolerating minority communalism (is this a fair summary? I was not sure and would like to be corrected). I disagree. I believe that while there must be special legal and constitutional safeguard for minorities, there must not be any special concession to minority communalism.

 

3. You are convinced that the line you are suggesting is not only correct, but is self-evidently so for most ordinary Indians. Your experience tells you that it is enough to just say to your audience that SIMI-terror link is an invention. My experience is no doubt more limited but very different from yours. What I have learnt from my experience is that most ordinary people (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and so on), non-communal by nature, do not accept very easily the arguments that people like you and me put forward, that they suspect us to be partisan, that we need to earn their respect and credibility. If secular politics has to have wider acceptance in our society (in every community, including among Hindus) then it must be able to converse with these ordinary people. (I might add in parentheses that you may have inadvertently misreported my argument on this point. I have nowhere spoken about “winning the mainstream Hindu population”; you may have read someone else’s position into mine. I do believe that making secularism acceptable and attractive to the population at large, including but not limited to the mainstream Hindus population, should be the concern of any serious politics of secularism.)

 

In any dialogue it is something of an achievement to be able to agree on what we disagree upon. I would need to wait for some time, learn more and reflect on this issue before I can take this exchange any further. Allow me to close this exchange with a quote from (who else?) you: “[democracy] rests on questions and doubts and celebration of difference in the human quest … democracy believes that human mastery is never complete”. I sincerely hope that politics of secularism will continue to be democratic in the terms that you describe so powerfully.

 

Thanks for taking our time during your travel abroad,

 

Yours

 

Yogendra Yadav

 

On the politics of secularism: A response to Amresh Misra

August 24, 2008

REJOINDER TO AMARESH MISRA’S ARTICLE: THE SIMI QUESTION- THE UNDERLYING FARCE BY YOGENDRA YADAV

On the politics of secularism: A response to Amresh Misra
OR how should we respond to SIMI
 
Yogendra Yadav
 
Amaresh ji
Thanks for your considered and detailed response in a very short time. I am grateful for your constructive response to my plea to shift this debate from personalities to issues and evidence, even if your understanding of issues may be different from mine. Your response enables us to move into a realm of meaningful, even instructive, differences.
 
We both agree on what the crucial questions are: Should we at this moment in history focus our analytical attention on the characterisation of SIMI? Is that characterisation at all relevant to making sense of the current predicament of the Indian Muslims? If this exercise is relevant and necessary, what should be our characterisation of SIMI? And what are the implications of such a characterisation for those who believe in a plural and secular India?
 
You have made a forceful plea that the our focus today should be on the plight of the Muslim community that faces persecution by state agencies, that SIMI’s ideology and track record is irrelevant to defending the legal and constitutional rights of the innocent Muslims who are being implicated and targeted as ‘terrorists’. Your answer obviates the necessity of answering the other two questions, but you do give a glimpse of your answers on the these questions. You seem to be saying that SIMI may be communal, but is not involved in murders and terrorism like Bajrang Dal and that in any case Muslim communalism cannot be equated with Hindu communalism. Therefore we patriotic and secular Indians should not focus on of SIMI and its faults (at least not in public) but focus instead on exposing the conspiracy to implicate, harass and brand Indian Muslims on false charges of association with SIMI. I sincerely hope that I have not misunderstood or misreported you.
 
If I disagree with you, it is not because I disagree with much of what you document in this latest essay. On the contrary, it is precisely because I am in fundamental agreement with some aspects of your reading of the current situation that I fundamentally disagree with your approach on what is to be done. I cannot possibly disagree with you that a very large number of innocent Muslims have been rounded up by various arms of the state, subjected to all forms of harassment and torture. What is worse, an ordinary Muslim is being made to carry the tag of being a potential terrorist, an eternal suspect, a second rate citizen in his own motherland. This is not happening just in Gujarat but all virtually all over the country, cutting across the colour of the ruling party — BJP, Congress or CPM. All this happens in the name of SIMI or some other organisations about which the state agencies can produce some evidence and can fabricate the rest. The media is happy to lap up all the real and fabricated evidence, which in turn deeply affects the public opinion, especially the mind of an ordinary god-fearing, nation-loving Hindu. Both of us agree on this much.
 
Our differences are about how do we respond to this situation.  We could say either of the following:
 
1. SIMI is a religious organisation that functions well within the legal-constitutional norms. Why can’t Muslims have and associate with a student organisation on religious lines? What’s wrong if the community and its leaders celebrate the lifting of an unjust and illegal ban on this organisation? It’s the duty of every secular Indian to defend the rights of a disadvantaged minority to organise itself. I read this to be Gulam Muhammed’s argument.
 
2. SIMI is a communal organisation but the allegations about its linkage with terrorist activities are baseless. If Hindu and Sikh communal organisations can exist in this country, why not those of the Muslims? If anything we should be more tolerant of the minority communal organisations, for this is less dangerous for the country than majority communalism. Unless its terror links are established in a court of law, we must support and defend the right of Muslim community to associate with it and oppose the witch hunt against SIMI members and sympathisers. Let me call this Amresh Misra position for I take this to be the burden of your argument.
 
3. SIMI is communal organisation and some of its members and leaders may well have terror links. We may not have legally admissible evidence but circumstantial evidence cannot rule out this connection. The real point however is that SIMI does not represent the Indian Muslims. We must publicly distance ourselves from SIMI but focus our attention on defending those innocent Muslims who have had nothing to do with SIMI but are being hunted with the help of fabricatd evidence or those who have had sympathies with SIMI but have nothing to do wtih terror. I take this to be the Javed Anand position.
 
4. SIMI is communal, terror linked organisation and a threat to national unity. A Muslim communal organisation of this kind poses a special threat today to national security in the context of global Islamic terrorism. It is imperative to use all the might of the state to nip this in the bud, even if the cost is some regrettable compromise of human rights. I would call this the Establishment Line that has strong backing from within BJP to Congress to CPM.
 
Which of the four political lines should we choose to follow? This is not dispute about semantics or a hairsplitting luxury only armchair academics can afford. I am sure you would recognise that this is in essence a political question. Which of the political lines we choose today could determine the future of secularism in this country. On the one hand, a failure to address the widespread persecution of Muslims and to defend their legal-constitutional rights in this hour could lead to an undermining of their faith in the constitutional order and indeed an undermining of the idea of India. On the other hand, an inability to distinguish itself from a simple minded pro-Muslim posture and to attend to the real apprehensions of a very large section of non-communal Hindus could erode the popular support for secularism and could thus dig the grave for our secular republic. We cannot refuse to make a choice either or be seen to be endorsing all these lines. We have to make a political judgment here.
 
You have asked me about where I stand on this. As you can guess, I cannot possibly endorse the first (Gulam Muhammed line) or the last (Establishment Line). Gulam Muhammed line is correct if and only if we are completely sure of two things: that SIMI is merely a religious organisation and that there is not a shred of evidence of the involvement of some of its members and leaders in terrorist activities. I am personally not sure of either of these. From whatever limited information we have which is not controversial, it is clear that we are not dealing with simply a religious organisation, that if there is something called communal then SIMI is a communal organisation, just as Bajrang Dal or All India Sikh Students Federation is. I may not advocate a ban on Bajrang Dal, may even demand that all such bans be revoked, but I do not see how I can possibly celebrate the lifting of ban on it, even if on orders of the court. An endorsement of such an organisation would mean that secular politics will not stand above the majority-minority divide but will be seen as a partisan pro-Muslim action.
 
The Amresh Misra line is no doubt an improvement upon the first one, but I find it hard to agree with it. It shares one feature with Gulam Muhammed line: It works only and only if we are absolutely sure that it is completely baseless to link SIMI in any way with any form of terrorism. I think it is extremely risky to make this assumption at this stage. The evidence is unclear and is likely to remain so for some time (largely because state agencies could be as partisan in producing evidence as the supporters of SIMI) and therefore we will have to take a call partially in the dark. I think at this stage we cannot rule out the involvement of some members and leaders of this organisation in some activities that run against the letter and spirit of law and the spirit of our nationalism (the exact nature of activity, its justification or otherwise, the status of members involved and the seriousness of their involvement are issues that we can keep debating).I also disagree with the idea that we should ask for legally admissible proofs verified by courts to take a critical stance against SIMI; if so, we should ask for the same before blaming Narendra Modi for Gujarat massacre and the Congress for anti-Sikh massacre. Finally, while I recognise the distinction between aggressive (often majority) and defensive (often minority) communalism, I do not think that the way to mark this distinction is to oppose the former and tolerate the latter.
 
My real problem with the first two lines is not just the possibility of a factual error in a foreseeable future, something all of us are prone to all the time, a risk that political action must take. My real problem is that both these lines can lead to political suicide for Indian secular politics. Both these take for granted the association of the SIMI with the Indian Muslims and do not interrogate its claims to representing an ordinary Indian Muslim. Should their judgment prove to be even partially incorrect — should we discover at some point some credible evidence of SIMI-terror links — then this reading would encourage the opposite of what it intends. It would actually feed into the Hindu communal canard linking Indian Muslims to terrorism. That is why I think it is crucial to delink SIMI from Indian Muslims. There is no doubt that in the recent past a section of the Indian Muslims may have developed some sympathies for SIMI, thanks to the campaign launched by the security establishment (exactly as George Bush’s actions made Osama bin Laden something of a hero among the Indian Muslims). But an overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims has nothing of do with SIMI and the world view it represents. That is why it is crucial that secular politics must distance itself from SIMI and question any association between SIMI and the Indian Muslims. It is vital that this separation be carried out publicly and now, if we are serious about the future of secularism in this country.
 
That is precisely what I find attractive in Javed Anand line. Its public distancing from SIMI may prove to be a great asset for secular politics. That this critique of SIMI comes not from a right wing Hindu fanatic is precisely its strength. This line enables us to draw some distinctions that are fundamental to any secular political action: between SIMI and Indian Muslims, between Indian Muslims and ideology of terrorism, between secular politics and pro-Muslim politics. It allows us to focus on the real issue without taking on an excess and fatal baggage: the issue of harassment, witch hunt and indictment of ordinary Muslims. This is what secular politics should focus upon, while distancing itself and Indian Muslims from SIMI and similar organisation. SIMI (or for that matter RSS) must have the protection of the law of the land and its activists (even those who may be found guilty of terror links) must enjoy basic human rights. I believe that it is counter-productive to ban communal organisations and am opposed to any special laws that deny a due process to anyone accused of terrorism. But I do not see how the defence of these can become the primary locus of secular politics.
 
I am sorry this response has become longer than I had intended it to be. But as I read and re-read your responses and the posts from Gulam Muhammed saheb, I became more aware of the significance of what we are dealing with and the importance of having some clarity about it. I am grateful that you took a small and half-baked intervention of mine seriously and pushed me to think more systematically about this subject.
 
YOurs
Yogendra
 

The SIMI Question: The Underlying Farce – By Amaresh Misra

August 23, 2008

The SIMI Question: The Underlying Farce 

 

                                                          By Amaresh Misra

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The SIMI question: Indian democracy’s acid test

August 21, 2008

The SIMI question: Indian democracy’s acid test

 

                                                              

By Amaresh Misra

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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