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Friday, 23 December 2011

Saffron bodies to focus on service activities

From Ibn Live
HYDERABAD: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad will lay more emphasis on service activities across the country, its new international president G Raghava Reddy has announced.
Addressing his maiden press conference here on Wednesday after his elevation, Reddy said the Parishad was running 33,000 schools in the country and the number would be increased to 50,000 in three years. Full-time workers will be appointed to implement the new action plan and to create awareness on Hindutva and inculcate patriotism in� people.
Raghava Reddy, who assumed the new responsibility, said permanent buildings would be provided for VHP offices in all blocks in the country by 2014.
Replying to a question, he said his organisation had not decided yet on supporting the BJP in the 2014 general election. "We have not yet taken any decision on whom the VHP should support in the coming elections. We will take a stand after discussing the issue in the organisation."
Responding to the ban on the Bhagavagadgita in a Russian region, he said the VHP would react only after the Russian court delivered its verdict on December 28. He said Russians decided to ban the Gita because they did not understand it. The VHP would convey Hindus' feelings to the Russian government through the Indian government, he said, adding that Indians were a very small community in Russia but they had conveyed their feelings to the Russian government. VHP vice-president Ashok Chawla was handling the issue, he said. �
Reddy praised civil society leader Anna Hazare for the movement he launched against corruption and said the entire Indian youth was supporting him. The VHP was also supporting Hazare movement, he said.
On demands for smaller states, the VHP leader said it belonged to the political domain but the VHP would� work to unite all the Hindus who were living in the entire world. "We don't have any objection if the government decides to divide the country into 100 states. In all the states, the VHP will be working to implement its agenda.''
Raghava Reddy said many problems of India would be solved if the Centre curbed ISI activities, terrorism and religious� conversations. He took strong objection to political leaders describing Hindutva as one form of saffron terrorism and� demanded that they tender an unconditionally apology.
The VHP leader accused the state government of failing totally to prevent cow slaughter in Hyderabad and other parts of the state.

Swearing in the name of God

From: The Times of India

SC: Oath in Allah's name not against Constitution

TNN Dec 13, 2011, 04.51AM IST

NEW DELHI: Article 159 of the Constitution may mandate a governor to take oath of office by "swearing in the name of God" or "solemnly affirm" but the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Jharkhand governor Syed Ahmad did not breach the constitutional provision by taking oath in the name of "Allah".

In fact, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya was critical of a student, Kamal Nayan Prabhakar, for attempting to link Ahmad's taking oath in the name of "Allah" to the constitution of Pakistan.

RSS holds the leash as Anna Hazare sets out to perform - cartoon in Mail Today

                           Cartoon in Mail Today by R Prasad

Mithaiwallah to head VHP, old order goes

From The Telegraph
by Radhika Ramaseshan

New Delhi, Dec. 19: Ashok Singhal bowed out as the president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and made way for G Raghava Reddy, a businessman and philanthrophist of Andhra Pradesh.

Singhal, who is into its eighties, has been ill and immobile for some time. Mohanrao Bhagwat, the RSS sarsanghachalak--who, Sangh sources said, wanted to bring in a “generational change” in the VHP like he did in the BJP--picked the 50-year-old Reddy, who has inherited a family trade of a chain of mithai shops in Hyderabad and other
Andhra cities known as Pulla Reddy Sweets after his late father.

Reddy senior was a VHP member and closely associated with the Ram temple movement.

Reddy, said sources, was chosen not because he is relatively young but also because he is believed to be close to Bhagwat. Just as Nitin Gadkari was selected for the same reason as the BJP chief, sources said, Bhagwat now hopes to use Reddy to gain control of the VHP, which has autonomously raised a sizeable number of cadres throughout the country. As long as Singhal was around, Bhagwat was hands off.

Like his predecessor, Reddy was designated international president. He was previously the VHP’s chief treasurer.

In a series of changes that reflected the internal power dynamics within the saffron parivar, the fiesty Praveen Togadia, who had hoped to ascend to the top after Singhal, was “elevated” as the international working president. But VHP sources admitted it was an ornamental post. Togadia’s bitter relations with Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi were factored in when Bhagwat decided to sidestep his claims.

Although Modi has defanged the RSS and the VHP back in Gujarat, sources maintained he repaired the breach with Nagpur and was on “amicable” terms with Bhagwat and the other key players in the Sangh headquarter. On its part, the Sangh perceives Modi as the most “promising” of the BJP’s top leaders.

Champat Rai, an RSS “pracharak” of Uttar Pradesh and a key strategist of the temple “movement”, has been appointed as the international general secretary. Sources said he is expected to conceptualise and execute the organisation’s blueprints in consultation with the RSS chief.

Dinesh Chandra, also a Sangh “pracharak” and a VHP ofice-bearer, was expected to get Rai’s job. But he reportedly fell foul of a senior BJP leader after he indicted a protege of this leader in a probe he was asked to conduct on a corruption charge. A section of the BJP was supposed to have unleashed a counter campaign against Chandra. He was made the organisational general secretary.

Sources said the new office-bearers propose launching an “awareness” campaign against the Centre’s reported move to carve a quota for the minorities out of reservations for OBCs and Dalits.

RSS and its tenets of Hindutva that have found a new shoulder

From Thehelka
Ramped up, yet no harbinger
Ram Puniyani examines RSS and its tenets of Hindutva that have found a new shoulder

THIS DECEMBER, the Babri demolition anniversary completed 19 years. On the occasion, many Muslim groups demanded the reconstruction of the masjid, a demand which is just, but mired in complex legalities as it involves diverse players. Once again it calls for the redefinition of Hindutva, which is not a religion of Hindus – Hinduism is. Hindutva is the politics of RSS; it is politics with sectarian vision. This is the vision of the affluent upper caste-elite aiming to abolish democracy. Their aim is to bring in a nation on the basis of a Hindu religion where the upper crust of society can rule as per the norms prevalent in the feudal society. The birth based hierarchy is presented as a glorious tradition in modern form and language. Babri Masjid was not just the demolition of a national monument; it was also the beginning of a phase of politics where the communal undercurrents of Indian politics surfaced amid the political scenario in the country. It was a signal for minority violence. It was a blatant insult for what the Indian Constitution stands for. It was also the first major step for communal parties that allowed them to occupy the seats of power at the Centre.
After the initial sacking of the BJP-ruled states, the polarisation caused by demolition and post-demolition violence rose to frightening levels. The communalised BJP that until then was at the margins of the political structure came to the fore as a major Opposition party. Its parent organisation, the real controller of Hindutva politics, RSS, started becoming more respectable and social thinking was further vitiated with the bias against minorities.
In due course of time, the other minority, the Christians were also brought under the firing range of the communalists. It led to the ghastly burning of Pastor Graham Staines, which was followed up by more attacks on Christian missionaries working in adivasi areas. All this culminated in the horrific Kandhamal carnage.
For the first time the BJP, inherently committed to the anti-democratic notion of Hindu Rashtra, came to power at the Centre in 1996, even as other parties initially refused to ally with it to share the spoils of power. But that changed soon enough, and other political parties, obsessed with power opportunism shared power with those accused of the Babri demolition. The coming to power of BJP at the Centre opened the floodgates of the political space. Soon enough, parties under the aegis of RSS, like the VHP, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram received encouragement. The state apparatus and police bureaucracy were further communalised. Education was communalised with a hint faith-based promotion, and at the cost of scientific temper and rational thought.
The success of RSS propaganda is not that it targets the minorities. Its bigger success lies in instilling fear in the mind of the majority, of the threat that minority creates. There is a ripple effect of this process and then a section of ‘middle of the road elements’ also start turning over to support the Hindutva parties. Karnataka opened the floodgates of BJP for its entry into South.
The Babri demolition led to multiple processes; denial of justice to victims of violence became structural, and the minorities started being relegated to second class citizenship. The demonisation of minorities has gone to extremely bad levels. This process of demonisation of Muslim minorities later started being created around the issue related to terrorism. US media coined the word Islamic terrorism, and the politics for control over oil resources was taken to absurd ideological manipulation and a religion and a religious community were subjected to immense profiling. In India too, the propaganda against Muslims was taken to worse levels with the global phenomenon of terror, falsely and cleverly attributed to teachings of Islam.
NOW, RSS-BJP politics is entering the new phase. Having reached the acme of anti-minority polarisation, it has found the Hazare movement as the new vehicle for its politics of undermining democratic institutions to bring in a parallel authoritarian structure where the Lokpal plays the big brother. Though this sounds innocuous and is presented as a step to solve the problems, this is likely to create a new institution beyond the control of democratic norms. A few people and groups who are calling the shots and asserting that they are ‘The People’, ‘Anna is above parliament’, will rule through various proxies. This Hazare movement has polarised the social layers according to those who look at either identity issues (Ram Temple) or symptomatic issues (corruption) as the major issues while undermining the problems of Dalits, minorities and other deprived sections of society. Identity issues or matters focussed around symptoms, which are meant to preserve the status quo of political dynamics, is what politics in the name of religion desires.
Since the Ram Temple appeal is fading, those for sociopolitical status quo have jumped on the anti-corruption bandwagon. This is a shrewd move. Marginalised sections feel left out from ‘I am Anna’, ‘We are the People’ type of assertions, the message is that only ‘shining India’ will have say in the shaping of a nation, while the deprived India, will be permanently on the margins.
In a sense, the RSS-Hindutva politics is constantly changing its strategies to communalise, polarise the society and to distract social attention from core issues. While initially, the rath yatras and communal violence played their role in polarising the nation along religious lines, now the issue of corruption is being used to further strengthen the hold of politics aimed at retaining social inequalities.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Barefoot: Remembering Kandhamal

From The Hindu
Harsh Mander
                    Remains of a church in Kandhamal district. File Photo: Lingaraj Panda

Kandhamal was not a spontaneous outburst of mass anger. And the victims still await justice.

It was a terrifying Christmas in 2007 for tribal and dalit Christians who live in the second poorest, deeply forested district of Odisha, Kandhamal. Long-smouldering violence targeting them exploded, and was to continue to rage for another full year. During this time, 600 villages were ransacked, 5,600 houses were looted and burnt, 54,000 persons rendered homeless, 295 churches and places of worship destroyed, and 13 schools, colleges and orphanages were damaged. The official death toll was 39, although unofficially the figure is claimed to be closer to 100. 30,000 people were forced to live in relief camps, and it is estimated that nearly half are still unable to return home.
Four years later, many of the survivors gathered in Bhubaneshwar to remember and to mourn. In an exhibition organised by Anhad, some of the vandalised remains of churches and homes were displayed. In one corner, blurred, blown-up passport sized pictures of men and women who had been killed were pasted on bamboo sticks. Many stood there and wept quietly. The occasion was the release of the report of a National People's Tribunal on Kandhamal, aptly titled ‘Waiting for Justice'. The Tribunal was chaired by Justice A.P. Shah, and included among its members Syeda Hameed, Ruth Manorama, Mahesh Bhatt, Vinod Raina, Vrinda Grover, Miloon Kothari, P.S. Krishnan and Sukumar Muralidharan. I too was a member of the Tribunal.
Striking similarities
Although the states of Odisha and Gujarat are located at the furthest eastern and western corners of India, separated by several thousand kilometres, the mass-targeted hate violence in both states, in 2007-08 and 2002 respectively have many striking — and deeply troubling — similarities. Each was characterised by a long build-up of hatred against religious minority residents, there is evidence of systematic advance preparation, state authorities were openly complicit in enabling the violence to persist for weeks and months, the attacks were unusually brutal and targeted women, thousands were displaced and discouraged from returning to their homes, facing organised social and economic boycott. And in both, compensation was tight-fisted and justice systematically subverted.
There is evidence in both Gujarat and Odisha of systematic planning and organisation prior to and during the attacks, as though they were both only awaiting a flashpoint to let loose the terror and mass violence. These were not spontaneous outbursts of mass anger. They were planned attacks cynically facilitated and criminally abetted by the state administration in the two states. The Tribunal notes: ‘Victim-survivors testimonials repeatedly referred to the perpetrators wearing red head bands, carrying numerous weapons such as axes, daggers, swords, guns, crowbars, pickaxes, lathis, bows and arrows, lighted torches, bombs, petrol and kerosene barrels, trishuls, tangia, pharsa bhujali and bars'. They could have been speaking of Gujarat, where we heard literally hundreds of similar testimonials.
One survivor, Keshamati, recalls further: “It is ‘Sahukars' from the towns of different parts of Kandhamal who took the leadership in creating the violence, supplying weapons, arms and explosives like petrol and diesel to some of our people.” Another adds, “The rioters brought trucks from other villages and they carried away looted valuables from our villages in the trucks. Many speak of preparatory meetings in villages the night prior to the attacks.
In Odisha, once again like in Gujarat five years earlier, the attacks were marked by exceptional cruelty. Kanaka Nayak recalls the horrific mob slaughter of her husband when he refused to reconvert to Hinduism. “They spat on him and started to sing and dance around him; they paraded him, and dragged him. They told him ‘you sing your songs and let Jesus come and save you'. And they started attacking and cut his body into three pieces.” Many attacks were on women. Christodas recounts, “When we were fleeing to the relief camp, my wife was attacked with a sword by a violent mob..... I saw her palms being cut; she had a cut on her skull and her backbone.” An orphanage was destroyed. The body of the warden was burnt, the lower part of her body was completely burnt so as to destroy all evidence of alleged gang rape.
Women who suffered sexual violence in both massacres continue to live with the agony of memory and silences of shame. One said in confidence to the Tribunal, ‘The attackers removed their mask before they raped me. Earlier, they would respect me. I was shocked that they took revenge on me for my uncle's refusal to convert to Hinduism... Lots of things have changed in my life after that incident. I have been in hiding. I am traumatised, sad, depressed and struggling. I feel ashamed. I am unable to forget about the incident and carry on with life. But I feel I should be strong to get justice.”
Surprise element
Another surprising common feature in the two mass slaughters was the role played by women's organisations such as the Durga Vahini. The Tribunal records evidence of the mass mobilisation of women who formed violent mobs and perpetrated the attacks.
The two massacres are also linked by the open support to the violence by the state administrations, which permitted these to blaze for long weeks and months, reducing an entire religious community to fear and destitution. The Tribunal quotes the earlier report by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights: ‘The local government by and large not only stood by and silently watched, as the horrendous events were unfolding, but in several ways, according to the eye-witnesses, facilitated the gangs indulging destruction of human life and valuable property. What followed by way of administrative action — controlling the situation, relief measures for the afflicted and punishing the guilty — could only be described as formal-ritual motions to satisfy the letter of the law'.
State apathy
To take just two illustrations, survivor Premashila testifies to the Tribunal, “The police and the district administration were aware of strategies of the rioters before the incident took place, because these rioters were organising meetings, rallies in the presence of the police and district administration in many places.” Father Kullu describes their role in the destruction of the Madhupur Church: “...in front of the police and the deputed magistrate the rioters destroyed, burnt and ransacked everything whatever they could in two hours. Many valuables were stolen. They completely destroyed the church, priest residence, hostels, convent, dispensary and Maria grottos.”
In both hate carnages, people were openly attacked because of their adherence to what was incorrectly described as ‘foreign religions', in one case Islam and the other Christianity. The Tribunal notes, ‘Thousands of Christians being chased and herded in groups into Hindu temples and forced to undergo “reconversion” ceremonies with their heads tonsured. They were made to drink cow-dung water as a mark of “purification” and some of them forced to burn Bibles or damage churches to prove that they had forsaken the Christian faith. The “reconverted” Christians were forced to sign “voluntary declarations” stating that they were becoming Hindus voluntarily — a condition required by the anti-conversion law in Orissa'.
In my next column, I will trace the echoes of Gujarat in Kandhamal five years later, in ways that boycott was organised, reparation withheld and justice subverted.
Openly instigating violence, VHP leader Pravin Tagodia had a free passage across the state in the build-up to the protracted violence. He thundered, “There is no place for Christians. If Christians don't become Hindus, they have to go. We don't care where they go. They must leave Orissa.” The purpose of the violence was to punish and terrorise those adivasis and dalits who had converted to Christianity, some generations earlier. In Odisha, as in Gujarat before it, ultimately the aim of the violence was to reduce the religious minorities to permanent fearful submission to people of the majority faith, in destruction of the secular democratic Constitution of the land.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Swamy and Sangh: How close they are with each other

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,
New Delhi: However secular and liberal he claims to be, his thoughts – which recently reflected in his DNA article – say he is closer to Sangh ideology than anything else. That’s why there is a section of commentators who feel Subramanian Swamy’s fierce tirade against Home Minister P. Chidambaram on 2G spectrum issue has certainly something to do with NIA probes into saffron terror whose links are now leading to Sangh Parivar itself.
In late 2006, Swamy was enthusiastically welcomed back to the Hindutva fold by the former RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan at a function to launch Swamy's book, Hindus Under Siege, at the India International Centre
         Subramanian Swamy (centre)with VHP leader Ashok Singhal (extreme right)
Throwing light on the connection between Swamy and Sangh, political activist Shehzad Poonawalla says: “The so called crusader for truth and justice had no qualms in defending the Kanchi Shankaracharya arrested for murder. This endeared him to Sangh Parivar as they needed a spokesperson to deflect attention from their growing involvement in right wing terror cases in India- be it Samjhauta Blasts or Ajmer sharif or Mecca Masjid or Malegaon.”
Swamy in his article published on 16th July 2011 in Mumbai-based English daily DNA, had spoken venom against minorities particularly Muslims.
The article titled 'How to wipe out Islamic terror', sounded more like inflammatory communal propaganda inciting violence against a religion than any analysis, says Poonawalla, who is also a law student at Indian Institute of Law in Delhi.
"Remove the masjid in Kashi Vishwanath temple and the 300 masjids at other temple sites … Implement the uniform civil code, make learning of Sanskrit and singing of Vande Mataram mandatory, and declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus. Rename India Hindustan as a nation of Hindus and those whose ancestors were Hindus."- All this is straight out of the Jan Sangh Handbook, he adds.
Taking strong notice of the article, Harvard University recently dropped the summer courses which Swamy would teach there.
It is interesting that the person who talks hard, and he must, against Islamic terror, is always silent on saffron terror. This makes the view stronger that his attack on PC is to check him on his way to go ahead on saffron terror probe.
“Swamy has never ever uttered a word about saffron terror although he keeps talking about Islamist Terror. Does saffron terror not pose a threat to National Security?” Poonawalla asks adding: What further establishes the agenda of Shri Swamy is his constant meetings with top leaders from RSS and VHP.
“His timing of launching an attack against the current Home Minister comes when the NIA has been cracking down on saffron terror cases and the links are going right upto the top RSS leadership. Therefore, to divert the issue Shri Swamy, under the garb of objectivity, has been pursuing an agenda driven case against the Home Minister. Can Subramanian Swamy be called objective from any angle? Can his fight be termed to be one against corruption given that he had no qualms in defending murder accused merely because he was a Hindu religious leader and because Swamy wanted to cosy up to the RSS,” Shehzad Poonawalla claims.

Karnataka govt’s bill on religion defeated

From Deccanchronicle
Ahead of the crucial by-election to the Legislative Council, the ruling BJP was outwitted by the Opposition which defeated the government’s move to get the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2011 passed in the Assembly.
The bill was defeated by a single vote. This is a record of sorts as no bill moved by the ruling party, has been defeated by the Opposition in recent years.
The incident happened after the Congress requested muzrai minister Dr V.S. Acharya to take up the same bill during the next session. However, the minister refused to give in following which leader of the Opposition, Siddaramaiah demanded a vote on the bill.
When Speaker K.G. Bopaiah put the bill to vote, 33 members rose in support while 34 Opposition members including five Independent legislators and JD(S) members opposed it. The bill was earlier passed by the Upper House.
Earlier, the Opposition insisted on a debate on the bill but Dr Acharya replied that the proposed amendments were minor in nature. As the bill had already been approved by the Council, it had to be passed on Friday, he said.
Mr Siddaramaiah however felt that a debate was needed as the government’s move to keep temples attached to maths out of the purview of legislation had far reaching consequences which needed to be studied in depth.
He claimed that the government had transferred the Sri Krishna temple in Udupi to Ashtamaths going against the Apex Court’s verdict. Similarly, the Mahabaleshwar temple in Gokarna in Uttara Kannada district too was given the same treatment after it was handed over to Ramachandrapura math, he said.
“For the sake of gods and goddesses, the bill should be discussed at length and can be taken up during the next session,” Dr Mahadevappa demanded. Chief Minister D. V. Sadananda Gowda was not present when the bill was defeated.
When Siddaramaiah demanded the resignation of the government on moral grounds as it had been defeated on the floor of the House, water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai intervened and said “Leave it sir, it is only an amendment bill.”

Saturday, 17 December 2011

BJP dips into RSS pool for ‘flawless’ leaders

From Bangalore Mirror
Niranjan Kaggere

Resisting the temptation to stay in power through ‘Operation Lotus’, the saffron party has begun to cleanse itself by turning to its ideological roots. According to sources in the party, the change is the outcome of the humiliating defeat in the recent by-poll to the Bellary Rural Assembly seat.

The party has been avoiding turncoats while assigning responsibilities and handpicking leaders with a strong Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) background. 

Overlooking several heavyweights, the party chose law minister Suresh Kumar to shoulder the responsibility of leading the ruling party on the floor of the Assembly. In the Council, the role will be donned by education minister Visveswara Hegde Kageri, yet another staunch RSS man.

Prominent RSS leader from north Karnataka and cooperation minister Lakshman Savadi has been made chief whip in the Assembly after the post was vacated by Jeevaraj, a close confidant of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.

An office-bearer of the state BJP said, “The Bellary by-poll result was a warning to the party to focus on its network. Instead of building a support base
in Bellary district, the party relied entirely on the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu. While we trusted them completely, we were back-stabbed. The humiliating defeat of the party’s candidate despite the backing of top leaders was the result of poor networking capabilities. The Reddy brothers and Sriramulu turned out to be opportunists. Had we selected a grassroots BJP worker to build the party, we would have had a base in the district.”

However, there are fears that the move would result in further divisions within the party. 

One leader tried to dispel the fears, saying, “The party is not keen on one community. It is just focusing on leaders who have been in the party since
its formative days. They want somebody with enough understanding of the BJP’s ideologies who does not ditch or embarrass the party. In this case, the leaders in the Assembly and Council are from the Brahmin community, Savadi is a Lingayat. A few leaders from the Vokkaliga community and OBCs will also be soon given the responsibility of building the party base.”

Even though the Assembly polls are more than a year away, the ruling party does not want to take a chance by relying completely on turncoats who may switch over to rival parties at the time of the hustings.
 
By handpicking true BJP leaders who have come up through the RSS, the party hopes to restore its reputation of a disciplined unit.

 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

RSS Rules in MP : Hinduised curriculum in Madhya Pradesh schools

From Times Of India
MP Board decides to include Gita in high school course

BHOPAL: Now it's official. A technical committee of the MP Board of Secondary Education has decided to include teachings of Bhagwad Gita in the curriculum of class 9th to 12 in schools run by the board.
At a meeting of the Pathyacharya Samiti, the committee that decides the curriculum, chaired by Kedar Sharma, secretary of the Board, finalised the textbooks of government schools for the next academic session. It passed a resolution on the inclusion of verses from the Gita and its teachings and philosophy in the school curriculum, a release from the Board informed here today.

The teachings of Gita would be incorporated in the Hindi syllabus in the form of essays on workmanship, art of living, unification of the mind, Gita and swadharma among others.
The move has already been seen as an attempt to saffronise education in the state. Last year, the government made it mandatory for students to recite bhojan mantra before having mid-day meals.
Recently in August, the state government's decision to make students of over 83,000 primary schools read Devputra, a children's magazine published by Saraswati Bal Kalyan Nyas brought the government under scanner again. The Trust which brings out the magazine is headed by Krishna Kumar Asthana who is a senior RSS functionary in-charge of its activities in the Malwa region.
The Congress had spewed fire over the move of sending the magazine to primary schools which was apparently aimed at teaching the RSS ideology to the young students.
Along with the Gita verses, practical knowledge on farming and agriculture, revenue land records, ill effects of alcohol and narcotics and RBI initiative on financial education would also be imparted in the school text books, the press release of the Board informed further.
The committee has also recommended inclusion of practical knowledge of farming and agriculture in the ninth and tenth standard science, social science and math subjects.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

India: Parliamentary democracy under threat from BJP & Anna

by Jyotirmaya Sharma Monday 12 December 2011
From SACW
THE BJP’s strategy to not let Parliament function is easy to dismiss as a cynical political ploy to discredit the UPA government.
Neither the sangh parivar nor the BJP has ever betrayed any great fondness for liberal parliamentary democracy.
If they have given lip- service to the supremacy and sanctity of Parliament, it is only because they perceive representation in Parliament in terms of numbers and as a way of capturing power. Their heart beats for an authoritarian, regressive and centralised model of governance. The BJP is only completing the process of ruining democratic institutions in India that had been inaugurated by Indira Gandhi. In that sense, the congressification of the BJP has also been accomplished.

Party
They are as impervious to corruption as the Congress, decisions are made by the high command in the BJP and while they crow about enacting a Lokayukta in Uttarakhand, one wonders why they don’t follow suit in Karnataka and Gujarat. Apart from these obvious family resemblances with the Congress is the unique predicament of the BJP: they have more prime ministerial candidates than real voters. But in times when the credibility of the governing dispensation is at its lowest, the rhetoric of ‘ real’ democracy and national unity always works, especially when the chattering classes get increasingly alienated from the moral, political and cultural world of the day.
If the BJP cared at all for the nation that it invokes with predictable regularity, it would have worked towards helping pieces of legislation that it had once initiated and now are being pushed by the current government. The FDI in retail is one such instance. But at the core of the BJP’s ideological apparatus lies a contradiction.

It celebrates Narendra Modi for bringing in FDI to Gujarat and for being investor friendly, but denies the same set of benefits for the rest of the country.
While at one level Modi can be seen to be corporate friendly, at another level, the BJP is happy to look like the camp office of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch.
In matters of politics, economics and culture, the BJP has always sported a forked tongue.
But more significantly, it has sought to consciously move away from the Vajpayee legacy in a decisive way. The Vajpayee legacy was always a source of discontentment for the RSS and its ideologues, who continue to guide the BJP’s fortunes fortunes despite attaining their ‘ Best by’ date a long time ago.

There is, however, a piece of the RSS credo that the BJP has learned well. While the RSS harps on being a cultural organisation with a welldefined ideological structure, it has only one real principle by which it functions in the real world. This is the principle of pragmatism. Its brand of pragmatism is amoral and only entertains the ethics of the here and now. The instrument that gives momentum to this brand of pragmatism is guerrilla warfare tactics gleaned from the time of Ramdas and Shivaji. It manifests in a hit and run tactic, leaving the opponent foxed and vulnerable.
In this form of warfare, responsibility is the last thing that comes to their mind. The whole idea is to create an immediate impact and hope that the consequences of the strike will eventually work in their favour.
Strategy
Following this strategy, the BJP has redefined what it means to be an Opposition party in Parliament. It amounts to paralysing the activity of governance and legislation and hiding behind the sanctimonious rhetoric of serving the people and saving the nation.
While the Congress- led UPA has lent itself more than willingly to helping the BJP with its cynical pragmatism, the beginning of the end of Parliamentary democracy is what the ultimate aim of the BJP is and also its fond hope.
To help the BJP achieve this objective, its A- Team has come in handy. Anna Hazare has lent crucial and tactical support to the BJP’s dream of unravelling Indian parliamentary democracy.
Hazare, the quintessential non- Gandhian, has made the methods of the Taliban seem not so unreasonable; turning the other cheek seems so uncool in the age of Hazare and Gandhi is made to seem like a puny coward in comparison to this self- righteous, but effective, bully from the army barracks.
Both the BJP and the Hazare fanatics sell the naïve idea that a people can never have any interest in ruling itself badly.
If only the people ruled themselves directly, there would be no abuse of power and restoring popular sovereignty is the only way to legitimise a government.
The fine print of this argument is the same as the one propounded by Codreanu, the Romanian Fascist leader: There must be a sovereign, unified people, living in a new atmosphere of perfect spirituality, entirely free from the power of evil. Who will redeem people from the power of evil? Codreanu believed this to be possible only when people are led by ‘ the finest souls that our minds can conceive, the proudest, tallest, straightest, strongest, cleverest, bravest and most hard- working that our race can produce’. If this isn’t Hazare’s self- description, what else could it be? But be sure that L. K. Advani also secretly shares the same selfimage as Hazare. And so do all those in the BJP who want to be Prime Minister.
Parliament
Politics for the BJP and the likes of Hazare is nothing more than a religious crusade: get rid of the evil and evil- doers in society by having faith in us. In their universe, national unity can never be forged through reason, consensus, moderation, parliamentary democracy or even economic interest. It has to be based on either faith or in the construction of a myth.


Faith as well as myth has to be built around a strong and decisive leader who is free of the constraints that the rule of law and procedures impose on people.
Arbitrary power is desirable in the hands of a leader whose self- image is that of a man who has risen above the petty constraints of the world and is not like us, ordinary human beings.
Therefore, the BJP’s disdain for Parliament stems from two reasons. In its internal functioning, it has reduced itself to factions, just like any statelevel Congress unit. Moreover, it has lost the only viable myth it had created, namely, the liberal and reasonable Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But the other reason is more significant. In its public posturing, it has reduced itself to being Hazare’s B- Team. The glue that binds both the A and B teams is one that the RSS had long perfected: amoral pragmatism.
The writer Jyotirmaya Sharma teaches politics at the University of Hyderabad


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Karnataka: Hindutva groups attack journalist Shahina, K.K.


Hindutva outfit blamed for the incident
Shahina K.K., a journalist from Kerala, who visited the Somwarpet tahsildar's office in Kodagu district on Friday in connection with a case, was allegedly attacked by a Hindutva organisation despite being under police protection.
According to Ms. Shahina, she was inside a van along with over a dozen policemen when activists of the Hindu Jagran Vedike stopped and surrounded the vehicle.
Shouting slogans
“Initially, they only shouted slogans. But, when the police did nothing to disperse them, they started throwing stones at the van,” she said.
Ms. Shahina, who is facing charges of criminal intimidation, interviewed K.K. Yogananda, one of the eye-witnesses in the Bangalore bomb blast case in which People's Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasser Maudany is an accused. After the interview was published, Mr. Yogananda accused Ms. Shahina of criminal intimidation.
She also alleged that the local police in Somwarpet refused to provide any protection earlier. “I had to call a senior police official in Bangalore to get protection,” she said.
Confirming that protection was provided to Ms. Shahina on his insistence, Deputy Superintendent of Police (CID) Mohan Das told presspersons that he could not comment on the attack as he was not at the spot.
Charges
Stating that the police had been treating Ms. Shahina badly ever since they filed the charges, her lawyer B.T. Venkatesh said: “We will lodge a complaint and also make the circle inspector a party in the case.”

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Why brand entire Muslim community as terrorist?

From TCN
By Aziz A. Mubaraki,
Terrorism should be seen as an international menace. No religious identity should be attached to it as no religion on earth justifies terrorism that often ends up killing innocent people. Islam strongly forbids violence against the innocent. The unenlightened Muslims who say they are acting in defence of the religion may have either misinterpreted Islam or are practising it erroneously. And so, if one views at Islam on the basis of the activities of these misguided people, he or she will make a big mistake.
Yet the fact is, since the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, the entire Muslim community has been living in despair by being misunderstood by most in the rest of the world. The attack by few criminals was condemned by global Muslim leadership that identified the attackers as the black sheep in the community. But unfortunately, the entire Muslim community is still being viewed as terrorist today.

Very few non-Muslims have bothered to consider the facts that tens of thousands of local Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have been involved in anti-terrorism operations, helping the Allied Forces and local governments. Could the US-led military action against Iraq ever succeed if it did not get key support of the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia?
In recent times, some ill-informed groups have been slapping a number of unrealistic charges against Muslims. They portray Muslims as bad ferocious individuals, citing specific incidents to their convenience as evidence, even though in almost all cases they are very far cry from the truth. They try to give a totally different impression of the Islam as revealed in the Qur’an, citing various wars that took place as the religion spread around the world. They overlook the fact that in those wars Muslims took to arms basically to defend themselves. Their charges against Muslims or Islam are routinely hollow and always go unsubstantiated. The people in question are unacquainted with Islam, and are badly informed of the true face of those who commit cruelty in the name of Islam. They are often unable to evaluate the state of affairs in question in a healthy and rational manner.
If someone truly wants to know what Islam is, he or she should read the Quran- the only authentic source to know the religion. The Quran is based on the concepts of morality, love, compassion, mercy, modesty, self-sacrifice, tolerance and peace. One, who truly follows the path of Islam- as advised in the Quran, is considered the best Muslim. Not all Muslims follow the Quran. So, not all Muslims are good Muslims or good human beings. However, today Islam is mostly being identified on the basis of what its morality-less followers are doing.
On reading the Quran one can understand how Allah instructs His followers to be nice to his neighbours around, and shun cruelty and violence. Allah says, He does not like his followers who resort to violence against innocent people. Those who do not obey this divine command are walking in the footsteps of Satan and moving away from Allah.
Even the political doctrine in Islam is extremely peaceful, moderate and accommodating. The concept that badly needs clarification in this context is that of "jihad". The exact meaning of "Jihad" is "effort". That is, "to carry out jihad" is "to show efforts, to struggle". To be very precise, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explained that "the greatest jihad is the one a person carries out against his lower soul". Here the “lower soul" is one’s selfish desire, unhealthy ambitions and immoral intentions. The use of the concept of "jihad" for acts of aggression against innocent people, is indeed “TERRORISM”, and is not only unjustified but amounts to a serious distortion of tenets of Islam. These misguided lots- "the terrorists", ignore what their conscience says and listen to their earthly desire for violence by resorting to wickedness, which is indeed un-Islamic. They become loveless, aggressive people who do not hesitate to hurt others without the slightest pang of conscience. Having no fear of Allah or God, they do not abide by the morality of their religion, nor do they practice it. Nothing can stop them from committing crimes and hurting the innocents. Hence these misguided men should not be considered followers of any religion at all.
Compassion, peace and tolerance constitute the very basis of Islam, and the commands of the Quran leave no room for dispute and contradictions. The moral teaching offered to humanity by Islam is one that aims to bring peace, happiness and justice to the world. The barbarism that is happening in the world today under the name of "Islamic Terrorism" has no connection with the Quran. Such terrorism-related activities are the work of a section of ignorant, bigoted criminals who have nothing to do with religion and its tenets. A strong action should be taken against these individuals, groups and organizations who take to savagery under the guise of Islam.
Throughout the 13 years they lived in Mecca, our Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions were subjected to terrible duress, attacks and slanders; they were forced to leave their homes and threatened with death. But they never resorted to violence despite all this aggression and oppression they faced. When the oppression in Mecca increased, they migrated to Medina, and during the Medina period they only engaged in wars that were unavoidable and for defensive purposes. This further leaves every Muslim with a duty to represent, through his attitudes and behavior, the religion of Allah in all finest possible manners. Muslims must display kindness, humility, forgiveness, as our Prophet (PBUH) possessed. And they must be compassionate and affectionate as he was.
The people who make malicious claims, imagines that it is genuine Muslims who abide by the Qur’an that spread terror in the name of Islam. The fact is, however, that they (ill doers) have nothing to do with the Qur’an or Islam at all. By making these allegations against Muslims, the motivated sections in question ignore one very important point. As is known in history the USA caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people by dropping atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the Islamic world never sought to lay the blame for this action perpetrated by the U.S. government or Christians. In the same way, thousands of Muslims were barbarically slaughtered during the attacks which were openly called the Crusades, and even Christians belonging to other sects were tortured to death, many mosques were both pillaged and ransacked. The blood that has recently been shed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries was Muslim blood. But Muslims have never used this as grounds to charge that the people who live by the Gospel are killers. Any sane person can see that irreligion always reigns anywhere in which oppression is taking place. Indeed, rational Muslims who abide by the Qur’an and believe in Allah never hold Christians responsible for the massacres in question. That is not something that anyone who genuinely believes in Allah could do.
Unless one reads the Quran he or she cannot understand what Islam is all about. The Quran preaches that Muslims must not go to extreme in any war.
“Fight in the Way of Allah against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. Allah does not love those who go beyond the limits.” (Surat al-Baqara, 190)
“But if they cease, Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surat al-Baqara, 192)
(Aziz A. Mubaraki is Member, Advisory Committee, Airport Authority of India (NSC), Ministry of Civil Aviations, Government of India)

My son is innocent: Aftab’s father

From TCN
Patna: Muhammad Ayyub, in seventies, is not ready to accept Delhi Police charge that his 19-year-old son Aftab Alam, who was running a small kirana store – the only source of livelihood for the family -- in their village in Purnia district of Bihar is a terrorist, and not a small timer, but a veteran who has been involved in Delhi High Court blast, 26/11 attack at Mumbai’s Taj Hotel and blasts outside Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium.
A week after three arrests, including a Pakistani, in Madhubani district, the team of Delhi Police’s Special Cell, on 5th December, picked Aftab from his shop at Khatahat village under Jalalgarh police station in Purnia district.
“My son cannot be a terrorist. He is a victim of a big conspiracy or a misunderstanding. My heart says my son is innocent because I have given him religious education,” said elderly Ayyub talking to pressmen. But he did not mince word in saying that if his son is guilty he must be punished.
Giving details about his son, Ayyub said Aftab was born on 8th February 1992 at Belwa village under Adhang panchayat in Purnia. He completed hifz (memorized Quran) from a madrasa. In 2009, he passed Fauqania (equivalent to matriculation) exam from Bihar Madrasa Board. After that he was running his father’s kirana shop in Khatahat area.
Aftab is the sixth Bihar youth picked in last two weeks in connection with terror cases.
Mohammad Qateel Siddiqi, 27, and Gauhar Aziz Khomani, 31 were picked in Delhi on November 22 and 23 respectively. Gayur Ahmad Jamali, 21, and Mohammad Adil, 40, were arrested in Bihar’s Madhubani on November 24. Mohammad Irshad Khan, 52, of Samastipur, Bihar, and Abdur Rahman, 19, of Darbhanga, were arrested in Chennai on November 27.
Delhi Police and intelligence agencies have claimed they are members of Indian Mujahideen and were spreading the network of the banned terror group in Bihar.

Does RSS, BJP opposition to foreign investment in retail have to do with their trader base ?

From: The Telegraph,

Packaged in Nagpur, resold in BJP store

RADHIKA RAMASESHAN


New Delhi, Nov. 30: Nagpur is running the backend operations of the BJP as far as retail is concerned, giving new shelf life to faces that were in cold storage during the Atal-Advani era.

One such figure was on display today when the BJP fielded Murli Manohar Joshi to address the media this afternoon. Joshi is not just the prime mover behind the party’s adjournment motion against FDI in multi-brand retail but he is also its most consistent “swadeshi” face that he often masked when the NDA was in power.

Today, Joshi drew his importance from the fact that had he not vetted the BJP’s 2009 manifesto, an “oversight” that “crept” into the NDA’s governance agenda before the 2004 elections might have haunted it now.

The physics professor — who drafted the BJP’s economic resolutions in the years before Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani accepted the reality of reforms — quoted from the 2009 manifesto to “prove” that the party was against retail FDI. He also referred to the NDA’s vision document of 2004 that waxed eloquent about “swadeshi”.

Asked about another 2004 document — the NDA’s development and governance agenda — Joshi feigned ignorance. It stated that if re-elected, the BJP and its allies intended to allow FDI in retail.

If Joshi’s advance to the forefront reflected the reach of the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, the statement of another BJP leader, so far considered pro-reform, suggested how retail has become a holy cow.

“I am for foreign investments even in touch-me-not areas like defence and media. But I will draw the line at retail because it is an idea whose time has not come,” the articulate leader said, playing on Victor Hugo’s line that Manmohan Singh had given wide currency to while pushing reforms.

The BJP leader cited the reasons: domestic manufacturing might be adversely impacted; self-employment will suffer; a consolidated market might restrict consumers’ choices; and “too much” was being made of the argument that only foreign retailers can develop cold chains.

However, this leader, like the others taking up cudgels against retail FDI, couldn’t back the objections with empirical evidence. After plodding for days, the only supporting study a BJP source dug out was titled “The cause and consequences of WalMart’s growth” by Emek Basker, an economics professor of Missouri University.

The RSS’s clout was in evidence elsewhere, too. BJP president Nitin Gadkari — he was bowled over by Pranab Mukherjee’s luncheon outreach to him before the winter session and felt that it was time to pursue reform-related legislation in a “spirit of consensus” — today extended the party’s “whole-hearted support” to a national bandh retail traders and trade unions have called on Thursday.

“There was pressure from Nagpur,” a source said. The Sangh directed its progenies like the Swadeshi Jagran Manch and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh to participate in the December 1 bandh and asked the BJP to support it “from the sidelines” if it didn’t wish to overtly associate itself with it.

Even then, the BMS chief Girish Awasthi suspected the BJP’s motives. “Their leaders are dodgy on reforms,” he said. “Watch, they’ll vote for the pension bill. This retail business, they are against it because they are on the side of the big domestic retail chains. Our heart bleeds for the kiosk vendors and the small shopkeepers.”

Deepak Pradeep Sharma, the SJM convener, boasted that if Joshi junked the retail bit from the 2009 manifesto, it was “because of our signature campaign”.

Not that the swadeshi lobby had dropped its posturing when Vajpayee was in power. A source said that when Vajpayee — backed by Jaswant Singh and Brajesh Mishra —flagged retail FDI at a cabinet meeting, the proposal was shouted down.

But the dispensation then tried to work around the obstacles. “Vajpayee suspended the decision but those with an appetite for reforms managed to place it in the 2004 manifesto,” the sources said.

The Sangh’s eagerness to stick by the trading community reflects its inability to reach out to new constituencies. Even at the Anna Hazare campaign in Delhi, many of the people who turned up at the fast venue were traders – a turnout that was immediately sought to be tied to the Sangh.

The BJP leadership also appears to be only too willing to ride piggyback on this support base. With the race to be the prime ministerial candidate still wide open, no one seems to be in a mood to take a stand that may not go down well with the Sangh, without whose support their hopes for the top job will be dashed.

“We cannot afford to lose the backing of the middle-level businessmen and the small traders, they are our backbone. Industry is not our core constituency,” a BJP leader said.

Six months ago, when the BJP’s economics cell had invited industry representatives to speak on retail FDI, the battlelines were visible. The younger members, especially a vocal and telegenic spokesperson, attacked the speakers when they spoke in favour of it.

The older ones associated closely with the Vajpayee dispensation had to quell tempers. “Later we told the hot-heads ‘what kind of a signal do you want to send about a party that positions itself as the Congress’s only national alternative? That the BJP is a dinosaur?’” a participant recalled.

The answer to that question will have to wait until the BJP figures out who runs its operations, both backend and frontend.

‘Witnesses are still terrified' Interview with Teesta Setalvad.

From Frontline
Teesta Setalvad: “Other cases need to be expedited and the guilty should be convicted as soon as possible.”

CITIZENS for Justice and Peace (CJP), led by activist Teesta Setalvad, has been fighting a protracted legal battle to ensure justice for the victims' families and survivors of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Often criticised and sometimes lauded for its efforts, the organisation has nonetheless carried on its campaign relentlessly. Teesta Setalvad spoke to Frontline soon after the special court's verdict in the Sardarpura massacre case. Excerpts from the interview:

As someone closely associated with the Sardarpura massacre case, what are your thoughts on the verdict? After all, several of the accused have also been acquitted.
As always in life, it is a complex response. Jubilation at the highest-ever number of convictions in a case of communal violence and regret that the charge of conspiracy was not upheld despite fair evidence in this regard. The sombre realisation is that between the raw courage of the displaced victim-survivors, our legal team and us it was a well-nigh impossible feat, given the fact that the perpetrators enjoy the protection of the most powerful in the State.

What will be the next steps in this case? Will the issue of wider conspiracy under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code be pursued in appeal?

We feel gravely concerned about the charge under Section 120B of the IPC being dropped. Here, the questionable role of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) is reflected. Even in the Sardarpura case, evidence was led on the planning behind singling out Sheikh mohalla, the communal mobilisation 10 days before Godhra [a Minister and a member of the Bajrang Dal had visited the area and addressed meetings and made inflammatory speeches]. Witnesses have testified to this.
The SIT was reluctant to authenticate and bring on record Tehelka's sting operation. It recorded the statement of Ashish Khetan only on our insistence. This issue, along with the complicity of local policemen who deliberately did not answer pleas for help until the S.P. of Mehsana, A.S. Gehlot, rescued the survivors around 3 a.m. on March 2, 2002, raises questions about the conduct of the police. These issues will be raised by us in appeal.

It was alleged that you tutored witnesses. The court in its judgment rejected that. Your comments.
I feel a huge sense of vindication. Allegations of “tutoring” have been made by the [Narendra] Modi government ever since the matter was first raised by us in the Supreme Court in 2003. Thereafter, trials began in 2009; the defence adopted the same slanderous arguments. In between, the SIT too played a dubious role in giving credence to the same allegations. Then, at the fag end of the Sardarpura trial (September 2010), a former employee of the CJP, who had been discontinued from working with us in January 2008, was instigated by the dubious mix of state operatives and the defence to raise the spectre of these allegations all over again. A newspaper edited by an MP of the party to which Modi belongs fanned the slanderous campaign. I have consistently stated that while the allegations – since Zahira first made them at the time of the Best Bakery retrial in Mumbai in November 2004 – have been the same, the persons making them have changed.
It is critical that the media, so vital to us in this struggle for justice, remember this vindictive chain of events against a group that has been consistently assisting the victims gain access to the courts, stand up at the time of trial and give evidence fearlessly. We simply provided them with the confidence and legal wherewithal not to fall prey to the machinations of a hostile system. It is the constitutional right of every citizen to have equal and fair protection before the law.
By attempting to browbeat us and the victims through this spate of false allegations, the State of Gujarat – an open ally of the perpetrators of the violence in 2002 – was attempting to snatch away this constitutional right from the victims of violence.
Also remember another thing. The witnesses and survivors are still afraid of returning to their village. Hence it is reasonable to conclude that only with the monitoring of the cases by the Supreme Court, which has ensured that CISF protection is given to every eyewitness, not to mention the legal aid provided by Citizens for Justice and Peace, could this result – 31 convictions – have been achieved.
Behind each of these 31 persons being convicted for life are the testimonies of four-six eyewitnesses and victim-survivors who have (a) named them in statements before the investigating agencies; (b) named them in their testimonies in court, and (c) identified them in a ‘dock-eyed' investigation on the court premises at Mehsana. This seemingly glib and easy exercise of witness testimony, which started in July 2009, has meant victim-survivors living through pain and trauma, and in fear of the powerful perpetrators. The fact that the Supreme Court was watching; that the Central paramilitary was protecting them; and that there was a group of citizens committed to the rule of law willing to risk things and apply to the Supreme Court whenever things went wrong gave them the confidence to depose.
Eyewitness testimonies are the only factor for convictions during mob violence. Eyewitness testimonies are the only guarantor of convictions – there are over four dozen judgments on this – and without these testimonies there would have been no convictions.

You have begun a movement for a witness protection programme. What should it entail?
Witness protection is an essential prerequisite for justice and reparation. We simply cannot expect that without a sound and sustainable witness protection programme eyewitnesses or survivors will speak up and tell the truth before the court about what happened. The Central government should, at the earliest, put in place a sensitive and secure witness protection programme in line with what has been suggested by a recent Law Commission report on the question. It is because of our efforts on the question – first ensuring protection for the Best Bakery witnesses and then ensuring that in the major ones of the post-Godhra carnage cases CISF protection has been granted since 2004 – that victim-survivors have stood firm and spoken the truth, and justice has been delivered. It has never happened in the history of this country that over 560 witnesses have got such sterling protection from a Central paramilitary force.
Without such protection, living in Gujarat with the perpetrators out on bail, roaming the neighbourhoods, intimidating and threatening them to recant their accounts, witnesses and victims would have turned hostile. Apart from witness protection, we need to systemically address the issues of independent prosecutors, time-bound trials and reform in the State police forces.

This is the first verdict in the 2002 riot cases. It can be hoped that the other cases will go the same way. Yet, is this punishment enough?
When lives have been so brutally ended and livelihoods and habitats snatched away, no punishment can ever be enough. But we must remember that life imprisonment to 31 is a strong deterrent. In mob violence, even though there were as many as 73 accused, a court needs to apply objective principles. We believe that these have in large part been applied except for, maybe, four or five persons.

Although the accused have been convicted, the fact is that the survivors and the victims' families still lead miserable lives. They have been displaced from their homes, hardly have an income, and worse, still live in perpetual fear of attack. No effort is taken to provide education or employment.
The victims and eyewitnesses as a community are farm labourers of Sardarpura village. They have been forced to relocate at Satnagar, an hour's drive from Sardarpura. At every step they have been warned to stay away from the trial, and indirect threats have been issued to them. The Sheikh mohalla is overgrown with shrubs and smells of cow dung. Reparation and restitution to victims of violence are not just a distant dream but should have been the ethical calling for the socio-political class in Gujarat, the ruling party and the opposition.

As someone who has been fighting these cases relentlessly, what is your opinion on the SIT investigation into the 2002 riot cases?
Disappointing at best and compromised at worst. We have made our opinion clear before the Supreme Court on how deeply compromised the SIT investigation has been, especially when it comes to establishing charges of conspiracy and complicity against powerful policemen and politicians…. Two Gujarat officers were removed from the SIT. We now await its steps in the major case in which the Chief Minister stands accused of masterminding a State-wide conspiracy, destroying records and subverting the course of public justice. There are 61 other accused. The amicus curiae, Raju Ramachandran, has reportedly recommended prosecution, and the Supreme Court has sent the matter back to be charge-sheeted under Section 172(2) of the CrPC. This will be the litmus test for the present SIT.

Christian Council demands Government enact Communal Violence Prevention bill

ALL INDIA CHRISTIAN COUNCIL
Pune Chapter
Punya Dham Society, A/ 2/ 20 Wadgaonsheri, Pune 411014


[The following is the text of the Press Statement issued by Dr John Dayal, Secretary General, All India Christian Council, at a Press conference at Patrakar Bhawan, Navi Peth, Pune, Maharashtra, on 9th December 2011. Other Christian leaders who addressed the press conference included Prof Indira Athawale, Dr Sanjay Kore, Pastor Peter Paul Geore and Mr Diego Almeida.]

The All India Christian Council [aicc], an apex Human Rights and Freedom of Faith forum, has urged the Government of India to urgently bring before Parliament and pass the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparation) Bill 2011. The Bill, commonly called the CV Prevention Bill, was drafted earlier this year by the National Advisory Council and is now with the Union government.

The Bill has been strongly supported by religious minorities as well as by most members of civil society as an effective means to curb communal violence which has plagued this country after Independence in 1947, and bring justice to the victims. In the last ten years there have been more than 6,000 incidents of communal violence, according to information provided by the government to Parliament.

Among the most heinous mass crimes against religious communities in India have been the anti Sikh violence of 1984 in New Delhi and other cities, the anti Muslim pogrom in Gujarat of 2002 and the anti Christian massacre and mass arson in Kandhamal in Orissa in which 56,000 persons were forced to flee to forests when over 5,600 houses in 400 villages were burnt down by Hindutva mobs. Over 100 persons were killed, Nuns and other women were raped and over 290 churches destroyed. In all cases, the police and officials stood by without acting. Many police and civil officers were guilty of involvement in all these acts of mass violence, and others were guilty of inaction and impunity. Kashmiri Pundits have also been subject of targeted violence.

Rehabilitation and resettlement in all cases has been tardy. The worst is the issue of justice. Most victims, including of murder, have been denied justice. In Kandhamal, for instance, not a single person has been convicted for murder. The proposed Bill seeks to secure justice for victims and end the climate of impunity by bringing the guilty officials to book. The proposed law maintains that minorities are denied justice because of the communal behaviour of a section of religious and political extremists and the apathy or involvement of the administration.

The Bill will also curb hate speech and similar actions. In recent months, VHP leader Dr Praveen Togadia has called for the beheading of missionaries in issues of conversion. Janata party leader Subramaniam Swamy has launched a slander campaign against the Christian and Muslim communities in general, and against the aicc in particular. The All India Christian Council also denounces conspiracies to scuttle the Bill. The government should take immediate steps and discuss the Bill with political parties to end the attempt of Hindutva groups to raise false alarms against the proposed law.

Dr John Dayal said Christian leaders in Mumbai had earlier filed a formal complaint demanding legal action against Dr Subramaniam Swamy for spreading hate and violating the Constitution when he wrote an article in a Mumbai newspaper advocating that Muslims should not be given voting rights. Complaints were also filed in New Delhi. Holding that communalism is as evil as corruption, the All India Christian Council has repeatedly called for strong laws to curb hate campaigns and similar activity which leads to the targetting of minorities and marginalised communities, including Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Tribals.

Referring to issues of development of Minorities in Maharashtra state and Pune City, the Council called for adequate and commensurate representation of the Christian community in all walks of life, government and public sector undertakings and in the political establishment. Political parties too must give the community substantial representation and opportunities. Many youth were underemployed. Christian students could not get scholarships because of bureaucratic red tape and lack of information because the Union and state governments had not taken adequate steps. This situation must be rectified.

The AICC called for an end to physical and hidden forms of communalism in the region which has seen burning of churches, harassment if priests and nuns and the attempted blackmailing and violence against schools at admission time. The state government must act in time to prevent such incidents.

All India Christian Council who can be contacted at aiccdelhi(at)gmail(dot)com

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Modi and the Hot Soup called “Morality in Public Life”

Author Sayema Saher  Freelance Jounalist from Delhi.
“Narendra  Modi, is the worst form of human material walking on this planet earth” – a senior IPS Officer of Gujarat cadre, at present on deputation in New Delhi.
Indeed a  very strong statement for the , the poster boy of BJP by an  aware, responsible  and extremely efficient police officer of India!
The Gujarat genocide, planned and executed by  Modi brought  a scale of atrocity which was never previously known. The statistics of Gujarat carnage, by far, is the most heinous atrocity in all recorded history of independent India..
Modi’s conduct during and after the riots was partisan, communal and influenced by political and communal agenda. All of us here, on the threshold of the 10th anniversary  of  2002 carnage, are waiting to see  Modi’s acts of omission and commission  getting nailed in the  court of law.
This blatant arrogant use of power to thwart truth and democracy must stop.
Mr. Modi you  owe an explanation to me to my readers and to all those who love their freedom and their country and more than us , to the ghosts of 2002 carnage ..  the frail ghosts, the pregnant ghosts,  the babies to- be ghosts, the faceless ghosts of the bodies charred beyond recognition.
Mr. Modi you owe an explanation to all the nameless ghosts who wander through the land of Gandhi awaiting their moksha.
Do you ever get to hear the curse and bellows of the unborn babies who were killed in the womb of their mothers, how do you sleep in peace is what I wonder.
And  yet Modi boasts of praises, accolades and appreciation galore ! All minds must be blurred and darkened to be praising such a ruthless, arrogant and selfish man.
What is being overlooked is the fact that Gujarat has always been a progressive and prosperous state, with a generally peaceful law and order situation with high levels of public safety for many decades before Modi’s time. Actually, both Modi and the BJP are (mis)using Gujarat’s tradition of relative peace and prosperity as Modi’s poster child for political capital.
Modi  has very immaculately  ensured the suspension of human rights through anti-minority pogroms and  then demonized the social activists whoever tried to speak about his misdeeds
His policy has been very simple, crush the identity of minorities beyond recognition, so that they can never dare to speak against him or his atrocities and persecute any and every officer working under the constitutional framework, and refused to be party to the planners and perpetrators of violence during the riots.
This is exactly what he did when he orchestrated the 2002 carnage of Gujarat, where he completely silenced the minority by his terror keeping alive his parallel strategy of putting all officers of state in place by persecuting them in false concocted charges. NAMO as he is properly called by his supporters could not stand any officer who was upright, and who did not collaborate in anti minority action. Fortunately for Gujarat, and for India but unfortunately for Modi the number of such officers is really significant in  NAMO’s  land
His script of victimizing such officers is so overused that it gets easy to predict his line of action when he picks on any officer.  First, harassment and threats followed by cases and charge sheet and finally the arrest.
Modi has  followed his  script of persecution on many officers in Gujarat. Pradeep Sharma  an IAS officer of Gujarat cadre , is one such officer. Pradeep Sharma also happens to be the younger brother of an equally dynamic and popular IPS officer Mr. Kuldip Sharma, again from Gujarat cadre.
Mr. Kuldip Sharma  was targeted by NAMO’s government as he did not abide by the illegal instructions of Mr. Modi and the then Minister of State (Home), Amit Shah. The Chief Minister downgraded the ACRs of Mr. Kuldip Sharma with the mala fide intention of denying him promotion.
Mr. Kuldip Sharma was privy to the involvement  of one of the ministers of NAMO in a criminal conspiracy.  In fact during the carnage of 2002 Pradeep Sharma got a call from Modi to ask his brother Mr. Kuldip Sharma to go slow on rioters.
Mr. Kuldip Sharma had also alleged that Modi and former Home Minister Amit Shah put pressure on him to arrest danseuse Mallika Sarabhai in an alleged human trafficking case.
Mr. Pradeep Sharma’s case  is a sad tale of the obscenely rampant subversion of the rule of law and a person’s democratic rights by the Modi government for petty personal politics with the Sharma brothers.
All the cases hence  got  registered  against Pradeep Sharma  at the behest of the Chief Minister to falsely implicate and persecute him and to deprive him of his personal life and liberty. He is at present in jail for over 10 months apparently on a false case of land scam though the fact of the matter is that all his decisions and actions were within the state government guidelines and vetted and officially approved by the highest authorities in Gandhinagar,
Mr. Pradeep Sharma has  an unblemished record of outstanding performance throughout his career; He has received numerous accolades for his work including the President’s Medal from the Republic of Poland for proactive collaboration on joint urban development projects in Jamnagar, Gujarat, between 2001 and 2003 where he served  as the Municipal Commissioner.
His  tireless efforts in rebuilding the district of Kutch in 2004 and 2005 has been really commendable.
Mr. Pradeep Sharma in his writ petition  states that the persecution unleashed on him by the state chief minister , Mr. Narendra Modi is  essentially due to two major reasons apart from host of other supporting factors:
  1. Firstly, the Petitioner happens to be the younger brother of Kuldip Sharma, a highly-decorated and currently the senior-most IPS officer in the Gujarat state cadre, who has unmasked many misdeeds of Narendra Modi since the 2002 Godhra riots and also of his henchman Shri Amit Shah, the ex-Home Minister of State, Gujarat. The two siblings have very close to each other right from childhood and share very strong fraternal bonds.

  1.  Secondly and more immediately the petitioner is suspected of having stumbled upon  some intimate  secrets of Narendra Modi’s illicit escapades with a woman .
THE CHIEF MINISTER’S ILLICIT LIASON WITH MS MANSI SONI:
It was in between 2003 to 2006 that the Petitioner, in the capacity of District Collector of Kutch, commissioned a series of projects toward the beautification of Bhuj city and overall development of Kutch district. A site was selected for developing a hill garden in 2005, for which Ms. Mansi Soni from Bangalore was selected as the Landscape Architect. The Chief Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, visited Kutch to inaugurate the hill garden project upon its completion, and was at this time introduced to Ms. Soni. Thereafter, Ms. Soni communicated to the Petitioner her decision to return to Bangalore as well as shared her ongoing interaction with the Chief Minister. The fact of the intimacy between Shri Modi and Ms. Soni was confirmed when the Petitioner was in close proximity of the two and overheard their conversation during one of the official  functions. Subsequently, Ms. Soni further revealed to the Petitioner that when she called Shri Modi in his office, he would freely interrupt scheduled meetings, walking out of his office on senior officials in order to speak to her privately.
During the second week of March 2006 at approximately 5:00 PM, Ms. Soni called the Petitioner and conveyed that she had just landed in Ahmedabad city and was planning to visit Bhuj. Shortly thereafter, when the Petitioner attempted to telephone her, Ms. Soni’s cell phone was switched off and remained so for the next 48 hours. Two days later at approximately 11:00 AM, Ms. Soni called the Petitioner and conveyed that she was at the residence of Shri Modi, and had spent the duration of the previous two days at his residence. Subsequently, she met the Petitioner in Bhuj and described in detail her stay with Shri Modi.
Ms. Soni described that the next day being Holi, many people visited Shri Modi for the festival and played with colour. Shri Modi attended to them briefly and returned to his quarters. In the meantime, Ms. Soni had developed fever and requested a physician, but Shri Modi conveyed that calling a physician was impossible, given the peculiarity of their situation. The following morning she left for Vadodara in a car sent for by Shri Modi.
In November 2008, while the Petitioner was posted as Municipal Commissioner, Bhavnagar, Ms. Soni contacted the Petitioner to inform him that Shri Modi had asked her to do a project on Alang Shipyard for which she would like to come to Bhavnagar. She came to Bhavnagar and, during that time, the Petitioner observed that she was constantly in touch with Shri Modi, who was abroad and probably in South Africa. She also conveyed to the Petitioner that Shri Modi had asked her about the Petitioner and whether the Petitioner knew about her intimate relationship with Shri Modi. In one conversation, Ms. Soni showed the Petitioner a text message that the Chief Minister had sent to her from abroad. The Petitioner made a note of the cell phone number from which it had originated. The number was 9909923400.
It is submitted that the Petitioner had two cell phones at the time, with Nos. 99251 99799 and 98240 01729. On one of these, the Petitioner had saved the aforesaid number from which Ms. Soni had received personal message from Shri Modi. Once, the Petitioner accidentally dialed Shri Modi’s number, thinking that he was actually calling someone else, but the Petitioner got no reply on Shri Modi’s phone. The Petitioner realized his mistake and promptly disconnected. The Petitioner verily believes that Shri Modi must have found out the address of the holder of the SIM card from which his personal number was [accidentally] dialed, and placed it under observation either with the help of State CID (Intelligence) or illegal phone tapping methods involving the use of electronic equipment through unauthorized collaboration. Shri Modi could then have found that Ms. Soni was speaking to the Petitioner often over phone.
Around this time, the Petitioner received an anonymous letter conveying that a video of sexual activity between Ms. Soni and one person, was available on an internet website, and the letter advised the Petitioner to desist from contacting Ms. Soni, as her character and actions were not befitting of her company with Gujarat State officials. The Petitioner did indeed come across such a video clipping and it now appears to the Petitioner that Shri Modi, who was monitoring the Petitioner’s cell phone calls, started believing that videos involving Ms. Soni perhaps included him i.e. Shri Modi.
How are we suppose to react to this now ,for a leader who has always presented himself to be holier than thou.
Mr. Modi tread on this path if you really want to, but tread softly for, in an age of publicity it is almost impossible to hide one’s clandestine affair from the glare of media.
Politicians in India are expected to have a brand image in public life. Any link-ups with the opposite sex are a complete no-no for any ambitious political leader in this country, where morality is a religion.
One wonders whether there is a tinge of ridiculous hypocrisy in this, however, dear friends, this is exactly the kind of hot soup our popularly elected  Chief Minister has landed himself in to, if one was to believe this affidavit

Ishrat Jahan encounter: Gujarat HC does not trust Modi's police, hands case to CBI

Ishrat, a 19-year-old college girl, along with Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, was killed on June 15, 2004



The Gujarat High court on Thursday handed the Ishrat Jahan encounter case to central agency CBI, ending the state police's role in the probe.


The order, perceived to be an embarrassment to the Narendra Modi government – since his police had justified the killings – comes 10 days after a special investigation team concluded the encounter was staged. The court Thursday directed SIT member Satish Verma, who spearheaded the SIT investigation, to assist the CBI in its probe.
Ruling out handing over the sensitive case to the Gujarat Police, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) and the SIT, the Bench listed out a set of reasons for its mandate in favour of the CBI.


The court enumerated 12 reasons why the case should not be given to the state police.


In a clear reference to the trust deficit in Gujarat Police, the court said, “The agency to probe the case must instill confidence and should have credibility among the victims, 

therefore we find it fit not to assign the case to the state police.”


The court also ruled out assigning the investigations to the SIT citing difference of opinion among its members and majority of them being not willing to continue with the probe as the reason for not handing over the responsibility to it.


The HC did not give its mandate to the NIA, citing the issues concerning its jurisdiction and competence, besides limited scope for cases that it can take up. The division bench of justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha



Kumari directed an officer of the deputy inspector general rank would head the investigations beginning with the filing of a fresh FIR.


The court also said the SIT should hand all papers related to the case to the CBI within two weeks. The present SIT chief R R Verma should be the complainant in the new FIR to be filed.


The CBI will also probe the original FIR where the state police had justified the killings of Ishrat and three others, the court ruled.
After the verdict, SIT chief R R Verma said, “The Honourable High Court of Gujarat had given a task to the SIT to find out whether the encounter was genuine or not. The SIT has done its work with full responsibility and come out with the conclusion that has been pronounced by the court. The court has directed further investigation to be done by the CBI and that shall be honoured.”


Verma further said, “The court has also directed the chairman of SIT to file an FIR with CBI and that shall be the next responsibility we are going to discharge.”


“We could not have asked for a better judgement,” Ishrat's mother Shamima Kausar's lawyer Vrinda Grover said.


In a setback to the Narendra Modi government on November 21, the special investigation team probing the 2004 Ishrat Jahan case concluded the college girl was killed in a fake encounter, prompting the Gujarat High Court to order a fresh FIR against the accused policemen in the case.



The SIT in its report said Ishrat and three others were killed prior to the encounter date of June 15, 2004.


A division bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice Abhilasha Kumari ordered that a separate FIR under Section 302 (punishment for murder) should be filed in the concerned police station against those police officers who were involved in the shootout.


The SIT had submitted its final report in the High Court regarding their findings on the encounter on November 18.
The court had said, “The probe agency would need to find out who played the key role in the encounter, what was the motive and what was the actual time of the death of the four people.”


The SIT team, which investigated the case, was headed by R R Verma, while the other two members of the team are IPS officer Mohan Jha and Satish Verma.


Ishrat, a 19-year-old college girl, along with Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, was killed in a shootout by Ahmedabad Crime Branch on June 15, 2004.


The Crime Branch had claimed the four were LeT members on a mission to kill Chief Minister Modi.


A judicial inquiry report by metropolitan magistrate S P Tamang submitted on September 7, 2009 in the encounter case had also said the shootout was fake and executed in cold blood by police officials for their own benefit.


The probe in the sensational case was supervised directly by the Gujarat High Court which constituted the SIT last year to investigate the genuineness of the encounter after petitions filed by Ishrat's mother Shamima Kausar and Gopinath Pillai, father of victim Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai.



Those accused in the case include then JCP (crime branch) P P Pande, suspended DIG D G Vanzara, then ACP G L Singhal and ACP N K Amin – all IPS officers. There were 21 policemen, including the IPS officers, involved in the encounter.


Vanzara and Amin are also accused in the Soharabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case and the murder of Sheikh's wife Kausar Bi. They are at present behind bars.

Anek Ramayan a documentary film by Shikha Sen

Anek Ramayan a documentary film by Shikha Sen

Anek Ramayan will be telecast on NDTV 24/7 this Saturday, 10th Dec, at 3 pm and on Sunday, 11th December at 11pm and on NDTV Profit, next weekend, on Saturday,17th Dec, at 10 pm and on Sunday, 18th Dec at 5 pm.
Please do share on FB and spread the word among all who you think may be interested.

A brief write-up about the film :

Anek Ramayan is a film based on a play scripted and performed by parents at a school in Delhi, in which different episodes of the epic are depicted from different texts, with many authors coming in as characters to talk about how they see the story. 'Anek Ramayan' was initially intended as a Ramlila production, but when they began working on the script, the parents had to confront questions of how to integrate their own versions of the Ramayana and accommodate others'. The film looks at the evolving processes of conflict and consensus as agreement was achieved about the final presentation. It also features songs and recitations as well as contesting e-mail exchanges between parents.

The original film is about 70 mins long, but the NDTV 24/7 version will be 40 mins and the NDTV Profit version will be 50 mins.

Here's a report on the film from MailToday:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Only reconstruction of Babri Masjid can heal the wounds of Muslims: CIM

By TCN News,
London: On 19th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition, Chairman of Council of Indian Muslims-UK (CIM), Mr. Munaf Zeena termed the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992 by BJP led Hindu zealots as an unforgettable incident for Muslims.
“Destruction of Babri Mosque has left deep wounds in Muslims’ psyche while ongoing cases of harassment and extrajudicial killings of Muslim youths by law enforcement agencies have kept the wound ever fresh. The only thing that will heal that wound is the reconstruction of a mosque on its original site” said Mr. Zeena.
He blamed the political parties for using the Babri issue for their political gains even when they knew that it is quite a legal issue. He said: “19 years on, Indian Muslims have moved on but have forgotten nothing and the scars remain ever fresh. No one in the community has forgotten that it was a local legal issue and that the central and state governments shamelessly used government machinery to turn it into a religious and national problem. The Muslim leaders of 1960s and 70s were aware of this aspect and that was the reason why they never made it a main Muslim political demand. However, it was the Indian state which transformed this legal question into a political issue, simply to acquire a political legitimacy”.
He further said that the hatred and discrimination that were displayed on 6 December 1992 continue unabated with Muslim youths being harassed, tortured and detained under false charges of terrorism and their careers being destroyed.
“With the first ever case in Indian history since 1947; with the murderers of Muslims during Gujarat massacre 2002 being punished and Muslim youths in Hyderabad and Malegaon, albeit mercilessly tortured and wrongfully detained for years, being released, one sees some light at the end of the tunnel as it reflects some change. However, full justice is still a distant dream” Zeena added.