[sacw] SACW | 15 Feb. 03

Harsh Kapoor aiindex@mnet.fr
Sat, 15 Feb 2003 01:29:49 +0100

South Asia Citizens Wire | February 15, 2003

#1. India/Bangladesh: "Push in - Push out" practices at the border 
not acceptable (Amnesty International)
#2. Beggaring the neighbour (Praful Bidwai)
[ + ] India and Bangladesh - Right-wing politics at play (Naunidhi Kaur)
#3. Communalism vs pluralism (BALRAJ PURI)
#4. US widens probe of charities tied to [Hindutva] militants 
(Demetri Sevastopulo)
#5. Yuva Morcha Plans To Bring Narendra Modi To Kerala.
#6. SAHMAT Publications on the 10th anniversary of the demolition of 
the Babri Masjid on December 6,1992.
#7. Dowry, once known as an exclusive Hindu and upper caste 
phenomenon, has now become truly universal, cutting across caste, 
class, ethnic and religious barriers. (Mythily Sivaraman)
#8. The South Asia Forum & Coalition For An Egalitarian and Pluralistic India
Present Two Films with Filmmaker, Writer and Activist Suma Josson
Wednesday, February 26th




Public Statement

AI Index: ASA 20/007/2003 (Public)
News Service No: 033
14 February 2003

India/Bangladesh: "Push in - Push out" practices at the border not acceptable
Amnesty International is gravely concerned with recent reports about 
incidents on the Indian-Bangladeshi border in which groups of people 
whose nationality is disputed have reportedly been subject to 
"push-in" and "push-out" attempts by security forces on both sides in 
the past few weeks.

The organization considers that such collective expulsions by India 
and Bangladesh across the border without offering recourse to 
judicial remedy or appeal to the persons being expelled appear to be 
arbitrary and to deny them their fundamental human rights.

Amnesty International urges both governments - which meet today in 
Delhi to discuss bilateral relations, including the issue of tensions 
at the border over migration - to immediately halt the practice of 
"push-ins" and "push-outs".

The organization is calling on both governments to ensure that the 
human rights of these and other affected people form a central part 
of the bilateral talks and reminds that safeguards to which they are 
entitled should be upheld. These safeguards include:

* regardless of their nationality and legal status, to ensure 
that affected people are not subject to arbitrary arrest and 
detention (there should be no arrest in absence of recognizably 
criminal offences);
* to refrain from mass expulsion of people from each state's territory;
* to ensure that a person whose expulsion from a territory is 
being contemplated is provided at the earliest instance with full 
information and adequate and competent legal representation, and is 
able to effectively and individually appeal any decision taken by the 
* to ensure that any person whose nationality is in dispute has 
full access to an independent and accountable body with the 
competence to establish their legal status;
* to ensure prompt access to judicial safeguards and redress 
against any violation of the rights of persons affected by the 
* to ensure that border guards do not use excessive force and 
that independent investigations are carried out into any use of 
excessive force and those responsible for such abuses are brought to 
* to ensure that they are protected from mob attacks;
* to ensure that detainees have access to adequate food, 
shelter and medical facilities;
* to ensure sufficient and particular attention is given to the 
protection and humanitarian assistance needs of women, children, the 
elderly, and other vulnerable group.

On 31 January, Indian officials claimed they had detained and pushed 
across the border some 213 people who they alleged had entered India 
illegally from Bangladesh. However, the Bangladeshi Government denied 
Indian claims that they were Bangladeshis. It alleged that these 
persons were Indian Muslims, who had been rounded up and taken to the 
border so as to be pushed into Bangladesh as "illegal immigrants".

The 213 people were reportedly held for 6 days in the so-called "no 
man's land" near Satgachi under Mathabhanga police station in Cooch 
Behar district, West Bengal. Security forces on both sides of the 
border refused to let the people enter their respective territory, 
each side claiming that the stranded people were nationals of the 
other country. The 213 reportedly included 68 women and 80 children. 
The group was reportedly left without adequate shelter, appropriate 
food, and with no sanitation or medical facilities. While the two 
countries were refusing to take responsibility for the group, many 
among them - particularly young children - reportedly became ill with 
pneumonia due to the harsh conditions to which they were exposed.

Amnesty International understands that limited relief was allowed 
through the Red Cross Society from the Indian side of border but it 
appears that efforts by agencies seeking access to the group from the 
Bangladeshi side were unsuccessful. The 213 people disappeared on 5 
February with Bangladeshi and Indian officials making contradictory 
statements about their whereabouts. Amnesty International is not 
aware of their current whereabouts.

This incident is not an isolated case. Over the past few months other 
groups of people whose nationality was unclear and disputed were 
"pushed-out" and then "pushed- back in" across the border by India 
and Bangladesh.

Public Document
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office 
in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: 



Volume 20 - Issue 04, February 15 - 28, 2003
Beggaring the neighbour


The NDA government's hard-line position on suspected Bangladeshi 
migrants reeks of hypocrisy and xenophobia; it will earn India 
enormous discredit in the neighbourhood.

IT was hard not to be moved by the plight of the 213 "gypsy snake 
charmers" who became the object of utter and complete brutalisation 
by both India's Border Security Force (BSF) and the Bangladesh Rifles 
(BDR), and were stranded in no-man's-land near Satgachi for six days. 
Until a group of "cattle-smugglers" reportedly brokered a deal for 
their re-entry into Bangladesh, they were disowned by both 
governments, and suffered more than 30 "push-in" and 
"counter-push-in" operations.

The wretchedly poor people belong to other "no-man's-lands" or grey 
zones too. They are Muslim by birth and have Islamic names. But they 
worship a snake goddess and follow a host of Hindu rituals. 
Culturally, they belong to neither country, and yet to both. They 
also straddle that other grey, indeterminate, space between tradition 
and modernity, between settled and nomadic existence, between 
belonging and homelessness, between independence of spirit and 
helpless dependence on the charity of spectators.

The 213 people were transformed from flesh-and-blood human beings 
into mere inanimate objects: litmus tests for macho nationalism to 
determine which of the two contesting states has the stronger will 
and which blinks first; bones of contention between 
ultra-nationalists in both countries; and objects of ridicule as 
"illegal aliens", "infiltrators" and worse.

It should worry and shame us that Satgachi almost became an 
India-Bangladesh version of Sangatte, the recently closed down 
transit camp in France for the much-vilified refugees from all over 
the Third World who would try and enter Britain from it by perilously 
climbing on to fast-running trains. The difference was, there were 
many human rights activists from both France and Britain, who fed, 
protected and defended the Sangatte refugees. At Satgachi, there were 
none. The 213 became victims not just of two paramilitary forces, but 
of callousness on the part of civil society and pitiless disregard on 
the part of the privileged.

The present crisis began on January 15, when the National Democratic 
Alliance (NDA) government launched semi-military operations to 
summarily deport "illegally overstaying" migrants from Bangladesh. 
The backdrop to this was a series of intemperate statements by 
India's Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister L.K. Advani and other 
functionaries, claiming that there are 15 million, even 20 million, 
Bangladeshis who live here illegally. Advani said they pose "the 
biggest threat to national security".

Advani told journalists at Bhiwani in Haryana on November 7 that 
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the Al-Qaeda are 
both particularly active in Bangladesh, from where they now conduct 
"subversive" operations against India. On January 6, Advani addressed 
State Chief Secretaries and Directors-General of Police and said that 
11,500 Pakistani nationals and as many as 15 million Bangladeshis 
have been overstaying the duration of their visas in India; they 
deserve to be deported.

This is part of the hysterical campaign that Advani & Co have 
conducted over the past few months about the country's "extremely 
grave" security situation - something worse than an "emergency", and 
rather "like war", where all Indian leaders are under threat "all the 
time" from all kinds of dark forces, ultimately traceable to our 
Western neighbour and, of course, in the Sangh Parivar's demonology, 
to Islam.

This is the Advani version of the "Foreign Hand", which once brought 
discredit to a leader belonging to a camp Advani considers inimical, 
namely Indira Gandhi, who blamed external conspiracies for all 
domestic problems and failures. The difference is that for Indira 
Gandhi, the "Foreign Hand" referred to hegemonic powers like the 
United States. Advani's "Foreign Hand" comes from India's immediate 
neighbourhood, from states far weaker than itself.

This campaign is integrally, inseparably, linked to the xenophobic 
hysteria, which the Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to work up on 
the issue of immigration. This is an extension of its line on 
"terrorism" as the biggest threat to the very existence of Indian 
society, from which fierce, militarist nationalism alone can protect 
it. In early February, Advani in Southeast Asia elevated (military) 
"security" to the plane of "development" itself. The same 
"security-above-all-else" message is likely to be rung out of the BJP 
Yuva Morcha's "international" conference on terrorism on February 

The BJP is making this a major issue in the coming round of Assembly 
elections. Unlike the Ayodhya temple or Article 370 - and efforts to 
sabotage a "healing touch" approach in Kashmir - the party hopes it 
will not be strongly opposed on this, and can even claim a consensus, 
just as it very nearly did on the recent 10-month-long military 
confrontation with Pakistan. It is using the "patriotic" card to play 
a deep communal game.

This xenophobic campaign is fundamentally ill-conceived and based on 
prejudice. Admittedly, significant numbers of Bangladeshi nationals 
have migrated into this country, some of them illegally. But 15 or 20 
million can only be a wild exaggeration, based on reckless 
speculation, coupled with paranoia. If there were indeed an influx of 
this magnitude, a radical demographic change would have been evident 
not only in a number of States that border Bangladesh, but also 
further away in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and all the way to the 
relatively more prosperous West and South.

A majority of Bangladeshi migrants are essentially economic refugees, 
fighting for basic survival by moving from one of the world's poorest 
countries into one that is slightly less poor. Yet, neither the 
Census of India nor the Election Commission's rolls show any radical 
demographic change. In many cases, the proportion of Hindus in the 
population has risen, not fallen.

As distinct from the vague, non-quantified concept of a "huge influx" 
of "illegal immigrants", relatively credible numbers are available on 
legal refugees from sources such as the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees. These put them at a maximum of 325,600, 
including those from Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, 
Bhutan and Myanmar. With the return of the Afghans, and deportation 
of the Chakmas and many Sri Lankan Tamils, the numbers could only 
have fallen from that peak.

It is utterly irresponsible for high government functionaries, 
especially the Home Minister, to make provocative allegations 
unsupported by systematic surveys and hard empirical evidence. Where 
investigations were undertaken - for instance in Delhi, where the BJP 
launched an "Oust Bangladeshis" campaign 10 years ago, or in Mumbai, 
where the Shiv Sena tried to repeat it in 1995 - the results 
disproved the official claim. This is also true of the latest surveys 
in Delhi in areas such as Yamuna Pushta, where the police found just 
200 Bangladeshis instead of the tens of thousands expected.

Large-scale illegal immigration cannot take place, indeed is 
inconceivable, without extensive corruption in India's state 
apparatus, beginning with the organisations in charge of security, 
working through the police and ration-card authorities, numerous 
agencies which register births and deaths or deal with urban housing, 
all the way to electoral rolls and land-ownership certificates. This 
corruption is well known, and widely experienced by Indian citizens.

It is a measure of the monumental hypocrisy of our high functionaries 
that they have done nothing to cleanse the state apparatus, and that 
they do everything possible to harass and vilify those who are merely 
suspected to have crossed over illegally in search of a modest, often 
miserable, livelihood.

THIS attitude is no different from the xenophobic racism of the 
developed countries, which conjures up fears of their societies being 
"overrun" by people of colour from the Third World. These attitudes 
ignore historical inequalities and structures of oppression, enforced 
through right-wing policies that endanger survival in parts of the 
Global South. These xenophobes are morally insensitive to colonialism 
and the enduring inequalities it produced. As the slogan of the 
immigrants' movement in Western Europe for equal rights used to say: 
"We are here because you were there."

Some other factors make the Indian official attitude especially 
hypocritical. India is the source of 20 million-plus pravasis and 
migrants, some of them illegal. Illegal emigration from India 
literally runs into tens of thousands of people each year. In 1999, 
the government told the Lok Sabha that a total of 2,36,085 nationals 
were deported to India from various countries over less than 
three-and-a half years.

India has also been indicted by various international reports on 
"human trafficking". This is a modern version of the slave trade, 
especially in women and children. A July 2001 U.S. State Department 
report places India, along with Bangladesh, Nepal, China and Sri 
Lanka, among states that do not practise minimum standards to prevent 
trafficking, but "are making significant efforts to comply". New 
Delhi staunchly denies such reports.

Exact figures are not easy to come by on the number of Indians who 
emigrate illegally. But each year, there are gruesome stories of 
mostly young people taking enormous risks, and often dying, in the 
process of reaching foreign shores. Among the worst was the 1996 
Malta Boat Tragedy in which 283 youth from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka 
and Bangladesh were drowned. In 1997, Pradeep Saini, a Sikh youth, 
miraculously survived a 10-hour ordeal stowed away in the wheel-bay 
of a Jumbo jet which landed at Heathrow from New Delhi. Pradeep 
survived the journey in spite of temperatures "plunging to -50{+o} 
degrees Celsius" and lack of oxygen. But his younger brother "froze 
to death".

Reproduced below are random excerpts from recent newspaper clippings:

January 24, 1997: "Saudi Arabia will deport within a week another 
batch of 46 Indian children, illegally staying in the oil-rich 
kingdom and begging on the streets in holy places there ... These 
children are at present lodged at the deportation centre in Jeddah 
... What makes Indians go to Saudi Arabia to beg? Since ... Muslims 
believe in charity, especially during the month of Ramdan, a beggar 
in Saudi Arabia can earn Rs.500 at one go. [A] whole lot of middlemen 
... from India are involved in sending beggars to Saudi Arabia."

October 9, 1997: "Over 26,000 Indians from Saudi Arabia and 4,000 
from Bahrain have left for India availing [themselves] of an amnesty 
... for illegal immigrants". "On an average 350 to 500 people 
approach the embassy and consulate daily for the emergency 
certificate, which is a one-way travel document to travel to India."

The Times of India on February 2 last reproduced an Agence France 
Presse (AFP) photograph illustrating "how illegal immigrants from 
India and Pakistan are smuggled from China into Hong Kong inside 
suitcases by a smuggling syndicate". The immigrants are wheeled 
across the Lowu border from the southern city of Shenzhen. The 
smugglers charge up to $300 per person.

In 1997, the Indian Ambassador to Belarus, Madhu Bhaduri, made The 
Road to Germany, a 90-minute film on illegal immigrants passing 
through Belarus en route to Lithuania, Poland and finally Germany. 
"The camera," wrote a reviewer, "moves from one immigrant to another, 
freeze-framing their memories of extortion and even torture at the 
hands of first, the agents and of the police when captured. There is 
Raju Marwari, who was robbed and stripped and left unconscious on the 
freezing streets of Minsk ... One of the boys tells of how he had to 
bribe the camp guards with his woollens - first his gloves, then his 
sweaters and finally his jacket - before they would let him use the 

Most Indians would consider it the duty of our embassies abroad to 
protect these vulnerable people. We would hate to see them being 
humiliated and deported forcibly. Yet, we adopt altogether different 
attitudes when it comes to Bangladeshis, who are culturally close to 

SUCH double standards can only spring from monumental arrogance and 
supercilious attitudes towards Bangladesh, which many Indians 
imagine, we brought into being - something for which "those people" 
are not even grateful.

It is precisely this arrogance that led India to erect a barrage on 
the Ganga at Farakka unilaterally in 1975. It also precipitated the 
terrible armed clash between the BSF and the BDR in April 2001 over 
disputes on the ownership of some 200 "enclaves". Eighteen people 
were killed in the clash.

Then, BJP spokesman V.K. Malhotra accused "rogue elements" in the BDR 
of being in league with the ISI. He accused Bangladesh of having 
"taken advantage of the fact that we are friends", but warned 
"friendship should not be taken as a sign of softness". BJP and Shiv 
Sena leaders described Bangladesh as a "small, poor state", an 
"Indian creation", which should never aspire to dignity, or to 
equality with India. The "Pakistan link" theory was pure, 
self-serving speculation. Bangladesh's Prime Minister then was Sheikh 
Hasina, considered sympathetic to India.

Today, under Khaleda Zia's premiership, the same charge is mindlessly 
repeated by the same Sangh Parivar bunch. They stoop to insulting 
Bangladesh as a vassal state of Pakistan. It is as if Bangladesh's 
struggle for liberation was meaningless. It is beyond their 
comprehension that people in small countries have dignity and 

Many Bangladeshis do not see India's support to the liberation 
struggle as wholly principled or selfless. Rather, New Delhi tried to 
influence events in its own favour. There is an ugly side to India's 
current image - as an overbearing, increasingly arrogant nation with 
pretensions to global superpower status, which looks down upon its 
neighbours. India now thinks it is in another league as a nuclear 
weapons-state, a prime ally of the U.S., an IT superpower, an 
emerging industrial giant. The NDA government's conduct, driven by 
base political motives, is sure to darken India's image and cost it 
huge amounts of goodwill.

One final proposition. The effects of strong anti-Bangladeshi 
prejudice have been nowhere more evident than in Assam, which in the 
first half of the 1980s saw a coercive agitation by the All Assam 
Students' Union (AASU) against "foreigners". I covered the movement 
in its most vigorous phase. Then too, all kinds of numbers about 
illegal immigrants and bahiragatas (outsiders/aliens) were bandied 
about - two, four, seven million, in an 18-million population. Many 
educated people believed this and attributed all of Assam's problems, 
including its lack of industrialisation, even entrepreneurship, to 
illegal migration.

AASU's rabid elements eventually evolved in two directions: the 
United Liberation Front of Asom, which wants secession from India on 
ethnic grounds; and the Asom Gana Parishad, an inept and discredited 
political party. The net result of the anti-"foreigner" agitation, 
besides economic disruption, social unrest and a culture of violence, 
was the Illegal Migrants (Determination) Tribunals Act, under which 
illegal migrants were to be deported. Over two decades, less than 
1,500 people have been deported.

There is a simple lesson. India and Bangladesh should negotiate ways 
of jointly identifying migrants and instituting work permits. 
Coercive methods just won't do. Nor will xenophobia and Islamophobia.

o o o

[ Related article]

Volume 20 - Issue 04, February 15 - 28, 2003
Right-wing politics at play

in New Delhi

A long-term solution to the problems of border demarcation and 
illegal migration will prove elusive as long as the BJP views these 
through the communal prism.



Volume 20 - Issue 04, February 15 - 28, 2003

Communalism vs pluralism


The looming threat of fascism has its roots in religious 
identity-based nationalism and it can be countered by promoting 
subnational and supranational identities.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with DMK president M. Karunanidhi 
at an election campaign in Chennai. Moderating its ideology of 
uniform nationalism, the BJP has forged coalitions with all possible 
regional parties.

ALMOST the entire debate on the implications of the elections in 
Gujarat and their results centred around the issue of secularism 
versus communalism. It is a gross oversimplification, not only 
because many other issues also mattered but also because, strictly 
speaking, the two terms are not comparable. For, while communalism, 
as per its usage in India, means an exclusive political identity 
based on religion, secularism refers to identities that are not based 
on religion. Thus nation, region, language, caste, class, profession 
and ideology are all secular identities. Hence, communalism should 
better be contrasted with pluralism.

During the struggle for independence, the national and communal 
identities were the most pronounced ones. Communalism was then 
contrasted with nationalism. Thus, terms like nationalist Hindus, 
nationalist Muslims and nationalist Sikhs used to be contrasted with 
those like communal Hindus, communal Muslims and communal Sikhs 
respectively. As British imperialism was then the main enemy of 
Indian nationalism, Hindu communalism's anti-Muslim plank was 
considered a diversion from the nationalist movement and thus was 

After Independence, Pakistan - a Muslim state carved out of India - 
was perceived by the Indian nationalists as a major threat. 
Jawaharlal Nehru succeeded in isolating it from other Muslim 
countries and the non-aligned world; for which secular the approach 
proved an asset. Indira Gandhi satisfied the nationalist sentiments 
by getting Pakistan split. But anti-Pakistan sentiment could no 
longer be kept at a high pitch on the support of a secular ideology. 
Meanwhile, cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere in India - 
in which some local Muslims were suspected to be involved - increased 
the perception of threat from Pakistan. Thus, Mian Musharraf acquired 
relevance in the election campaign in Gujarat.

As Indian nationalism acquired a more aggressive form, the Bharatiya 
Janata Party's (BJP) claim to represent it became more plausible, 
through an attempt to redefine the concept of nationalism - a 
definition in place of its soft, liberal and cosmopolitan version. 
The BJP has by now appropriated all the icons of the national 
movement - Vivekananda, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sardar Vallabhbhai 
Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose and, above all, Mahatma Gandhi. Jawaharlal 
Nehru is an exception so far. But the BJP president, M. Venkaih 
Naidu, made bold to assert on December 26 that, "our nationalism is 
what was preached by the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru 
in the pre-Independence days. The post-Independence Congress does not 
have it. We have inherited it." Thus it has staked its claim to the 
legacy of the national movement.

Another factor that helped it was the overlapping concept of Indian 
nationalism and Hinduism. Unlike other religions, which follow a 
single prophet and a single book, Hinduism is an amorphous sum of a 
large number of what sociologists call, little traditions and 
heritages in various fields of the nation. For instance, mythological 
figures like Hanuman, Ganesh and Durga and national heroes like Rama 
and Krishna are Hindu gods and goddesses. Ancient Indian philosophies 
like the Upanishads and the six shastras - with divergent viewpoints 
- comprise Hindu scriptures. National epics like the Ramayana and the 
Mahabharata are its sacred books. Mythology, history and cultural 
heritage thus provide the basis of Hinduism as well as Indian 

But no goddess arouses as strong a passion as Bharat Mata. Even desh 
bhakti, worship of the nation, is a typically Indian version of 

The British rule and the modernisation process submerged little 
traditions into a pan-Indian and nationalised version of Hinduism, 
while Indian nationalism, a new-born creed in search of its roots, 
got Hindu revivalist traits. The dilemma that the religious approach 
to nationalism, including the concept of nation worship, created for 
non-Hindus, was never seriously discussed. Rabindranath Tagore's 
warning that transformation of Indian civilisation into nationalism, 
which was an import from the West, had a divisive potentiality was 
never heeded, even after it proved true in 1947. M.N. Roy had more 
sternly asserted that the logic of Indian nationalism would 
inevitably lead it to fascism.

This eventuality was averted, first, as nationalism was tempered by 
the moral and humanitarian impact of Gandhi's and Nehru's 
intellectual vision, as reflected in a federal constitution and 
democratic institutions. Secondly, Indian diversity could not be 
accommodated within a fascist ideology.

HERE the BJP took cognisance of the Indian reality better than, say, 
the Congress. Moderating its ideology of uniform nationalism, it 
forged coalitions with all possible regional parties. Tamil parties, 
such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam and its offshoots, which had at 
one time raised a banner of revolt against Indian nationalism, are 
closer to the BJP than any secular party. The Akali Dal, which is 
still committed to the Anandpur Sahib resolution seeking maximum 
autonomy, and the National Conference which demands pre-1953 status 
for Kashmir, are its allies. That socialist formations such as the 
Samata Party and the Janata Dal (United) are its coalition partners, 
again shows its ideological flexibility.

While the BJP has accommodated most of the regional parties, in 
Gujarat it directly tried to represent the regional aspirations. In 
his election speeches, Narendra Modi invariably referred to the 
identity and pride of five crore Gujaratis. Regional identities are 
far more secular than Indian nationalism. For they are based on a 
solid and composite heritage to which all communities have made their 
contribution. Gujarati heritage includes contribution of many Muslim 
saints, poets, businessmen and, above all, Gandhi and Gandhians of 
all communities. Why did secularists allow Modi to hijack this 
heritage? The BJP has taken cognisance of caste reality of India 
better than the Congress. It not only accepted the leadership of a 
Dalit party in Uttar Pradesh, but was also able to encroach into the 
Dalit and tribal vote bank of the Congress in Gujarat. The Congress 
even failed to exploit the disillusionment of the Patels with the BJP.

Moreover while Mandal was supposed to have checkmated the kamandal in 
the early 1990s, the BJP outmanoeuvred the Congress in using the 
Other Backward Classes (OBCs), the beneficiaries of Mandal card, by 
projecting Modi as an OBC leader in Gujarat. Thus, the combined 
ammunition of caste, region, Hindutva and crude nationalism 
(expressed as anti-Pakistan) added to the cynical use of fear, 
hatred, and instincts of violence and brutality, was part of the 
electoral arsenal of Modi's fight against the vague secularism of the 
Congress. Anti-OBC sections of the Congress obviously played a part 
in its refusal to have any truck with Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi 
Party (S.P.) in the election. Otherwise, the combined strength of the 
Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the S.P. outnumbered 
that of the BJP. Earlier, its refusal to support Mulayam Singh 
facilitated the formation of a government by the BJP-Bahujan Samaj 
Party alliance in U.P. and its refusal to support his candidate for 
the Legislative Council enabled the BJP-BSP alliance candidate to win 
the seat.

It was the BJP's handicap in the form of its ideological baggage as a 
party of uniformity that had helped the Congress to form governments 
in 15 States. But its ability to retain power in those States and 
aspire for it in other States and at the Centre would depend upon how 
far it comes to terms with the claims of non-communal identities 
based on, say, region, caste, class and ideology.

And, if the BJP defies diversities of India in favour of an exclusive 
and the post-Godhra Gujarati version of Hindutva agenda, it, too, 
would endanger whatever gains it has so far achieved and do greater 
damage to the interests of Hindu society and the Indian nation. In 
fact, the confused relation between Hinduism and Indian nationalism, 
described earlier, has repeatedly exposed the inadequacies in both of 
them. The sense of inadequacy in Hindu religion is reflected by the 
call in some sections to declare Ayodhya the Mecca of Hindus, which 
it never was, and to declare Ram as the sole Hindu prophet, which he 
never was. In the process of imitating of Islam, Hinduism will lose 
its own soul without imbibing what is good in Islam.

Religionised concept of nationalism, which we adopted during the 
freedom movement, too, has exposed many weaknesses; principally 
because it fails to accommodate India's vast diversity that has 
proved to be its greatest asset. The diversities cut across one 
another and check exclusiveness of each of them.

They, thus, prevent any threat to the unity of the country. Secondly, 
they are the most potent check against the fascist trends that are 
inherent in the concept of nationalism.

Strengthening of subnational identities and developing supranational 
identities, informed with humanitarian ideologies and democratic 
institutions, can save the country from divisive or fascist threats.



The Financial Times

US widens probe of charities tied to militants
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington
Published: February 14 2003 22:00 | Last Updated: February 14 2003 22:00

The US government is investigating a Maryland-based Hindu charity 
accused of financing fundamentalist organisations in India linked to 
last year's violence against Muslims in the state of Gujarat.

The charity has received donations from leading US companies 
including Cisco, Sun Microsystems and Oracle.

The move highlights how US authorities have widened their scrutiny of 
charities suspected of supporting violence since the September 11 

Last week, the chief executive of Benevolence International 
Foundation, an Islamic charity, pleaded guilty to directing donations 
to Muslim fighters in Chechnya and Bosnia.

The state department has asked the justice department to investigate 
a report claiming that tax-exempt charities are funding affiliates of 
Rashitriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the militant Hindu organisation that 
Human Rights Watch concluded was "directly involved" in the Gujarat 

The report, compiled by a group of San Francisco-based Indians, 
focuses on the India Development and Relief Fund, a Maryland-based 
charity, which it accuses of funding non-governmental organisations 
that are fronts for RSS.

The IDRF, which raised more than $10m between 1997 and 2001, says it 
funds poverty alleviation projects and provides disaster relief but 
admits links with RSS.

"No evidence has been produced to show that NGOs used IDRF funds to 
spread hate or incite violence," said Vijay Pallod, regional 
vice-president of IDRF. But he acknowledged that "some IDRF 
volunteers are inspired by Sangh organisations, particularly its 
aspiration of serving needy people selflessly".

The report also accuses VHP of America of funding projects sponsored 
by VHP of India, the religious wing of RSS, which has been linked 
with violence.

Guarang Vaishnav, general- secretary of VHPA, said his organisation 
is independent from the VHP of India, even though the VHP of America 
is listed as the registrant for the VHP of India's website.

The controversy has spread to leading US companies that donated money 
to the IDRF under an employee donation-matching scheme. Cisco 
contributed $70,000 to IDRF but has suspended donations to the 
charity while it re-evaluates its philanthropic programme.

Sun MicroSystems also made small donations but has not suspended its 
programme. According to Mr Pallod, Oracle has joined Cisco in 
suspending donations.

Human rights campaigners say the US government may be reluctant to 
pursue the Hindu charities.

"It will prove to be an uphill battle for the US to properly 
investigate and scrutinise these organisations because of their links 
to the India's ruling party, the BJP," said Smita Narula, senior 
south Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"The US needs India as an ally right now."



Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 12:35:44 +0530


There are news reports that Yuva Morcha is planning to import
Narendra Modi for it's state conference to be held at Palakkad
shortly.A host of RSS-Hindutva leaders have been camping in
Kerala in a bid to communalise the state and to divide it's
people.The latest visit includes that of HV Sheshadri.

Sheshadri demanded that the Muslims and Christians of Kerala
abandon beef.Little did the RSS joint general secretary know
that a good part of Hindus in the state love beef more than
the minorities.Incidently the RSS leader was trying to whip
up passions about 'gau-hatya'.By doing this ,he thought
that the RSS could create 'us' and 'them',the protectors
of 'gau-matha' and the 'killers'.

The RSS and other Sangh Parivar elements are conducting
an anti-Christian,anti-missionary campaign following the
murderous attack on the American bishop Joseph Cooper.
The bishop was attacked by heavily armed swayamsevaks
who used country made bombs and lethal swords in their
attack.The RSS has launched a propaganda against
conversions in the state.Several missionaries have been
targeted and prevented from addressing Christian conventions
with the connivance of the sympathetic police.

The Sangh Parivar has also deputed spies to snoop on the
Christians and their missionaries.This has been announced
publicly.At the same time,the Sangh front outfits have
launched a programme for 're-conversion' of tribals and
Dalits.While the newly constituted 'Jana Jagrana Samithy'
would spy on the Christians,the 'Dharma Prasar' wing of
the VHP would indulge in the conversion and indoctrination.

The 'Vanavasi' ( a derogatory term used for Adivasis,the indigenous
people of India) Sangamam held under the auspices of the
RSS and addressed by KS Sudarshan is seen as the first
step to the militarisation of the Adivasis of Kerala by the
forces of Hindutva.Close to the meeting,a Church was burned
by suspected Hindutva activists.In several parts of the state,
the Sangh parivar elements have confronted Christians.

The large number of Hindutva leaders descending on the state
has alarmed the secular minded and peace loving people.
It is apparent that they are in Kerala to conduct the Hindutva
experiment.It is believed that Narendra Modi will provide
direct lessons to the young blood of the BJP.The Hindutva
forces also believe that Modi can create a ripple in the state.
It is apparent that the process of communalisation of Kerala
is on at full swing.The RSS of Kerala has been on one side of
every major political murder.They also have a reputation of
violence .The Kerala RSS is also proficient in the making of
bombs and other explosives.Several criminal cases are
reportedly pending on this count.

Watch this space !



8, Vithalbhai Patel House, Rafi Marg
New Delhi-110001
Telephone- 3711276/ 3351424

Dear Friends,
SAHMAT has brought out the following new books during its 
month-long programme from December4, 2002 to January4, 2003 to mark 
the 10th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 

Please let us know your requirement of these books. On an order of 
more than 20 copies of any of the books a discount of 30 percent 
will be allowed and we expect that the payment will be made either 
in advance or within 30 days.

1.DAS BARAS in Hindi: A collection of Hindi poetry during the last 
ten years. Edited by Asad Zaidi, the book in two volumes contains 
poems by 110 poets penned since the demolition to Gujarat Carnage. 
Vol.1 pages 208 Price Rs.120 (PB) ISBN 81-86219-42-0 Vol II pages 
227 Price Rs. 120 (PB) ISBN 81-86219-43-9

2.Saffronised and Substandard : in English with a few articles in 
Hindi. A collection of articles, editorials and reports critiquing 
the new NCERT text books. This is the fourth book in the SAHMAT 
series of books opposing communalisation of education. Apart from 
being a collection of material that has already been published the 
book contains a number of original articles by historians and 
educators. Pages 160 Price Rs. 75 (PB) ISBN 81-86219-40-4

3.Drawing the Battle Lines : Cartoons against Communalism. A 
collection of Cartoons drawn by major cartoonists from all over the 
country over the last ten years. Over 125 works by R.K.Laxman, Unny, 
Keshav, Surendra, Ajit Ninan, Ponnappa, Yesudas, Govind, Irfan 
Khan, Rajendran, Sudhir Tailang, Salam, Shekhar Gurera, Sorit, 
Paresh Nath, Manoj Chopra, Chandran, Sudhi, Veera, Ganga Dhar, and 
Venkatesh have been collected in the volume. Pages 131 Price Rs. 
100 (PB) ISBN 81-86219-41-2

4.The Republic Besmirched : 6 December 1992. The Volume comprises 
clippings from newspapers and magazines reporting the great Ayodhya 
debacle and its aftermath, or commenting on it. Divide into four 
Sections : The Horror Recalled, Fork-Tounged, Registering the Shock, 
The Aftermath, the book has been edited by senior journalist Anand K 
Sahay. Pages 172 price Rs. 60 ( PB) ISBN-81-86219-45-5

5.Communalism, Civil Society and the State As is obvious from the 
title, the volume edited by Prof. K.N.Panikkar and Sukumar 
Muralidharan contains articles by eminent scholars reflecting on the 
developments of the last ten years. The contributors include Aijaz 
Ahmad, Javeed Alam, Neera Chandhoke, Sudhir Chandra, Rajeev Dhavan, 
Irfan habib, Mushirul Hasan, Zoya Hasan, Manjari Katju, Sukumar 
Murlidharan, K.N.Panikkar, Prabhat Patnaik, Utsa Patnaik, A 
Raghuramaraju, Kumkum Sangari and Romila Thapar. Pages181 price Rs. 
120 ( PB) ISBN-81-86219-44-7

Hoping to hear from you soon,

With greetings,

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Ashok Kumari



The Hindu
Saturday, Feb 15, 2003
Opinion - Leader Page Articles
A spreading evil

By Mythily Sivaraman

Dowry, once known as an exclusive Hindu and upper caste phenomenon, 
has now become truly universal, cutting across caste, class, ethnic 
and religious barriers.



Two Films with Filmmaker, Writer and Activist SUMA JOSSON
Wednesday, February 26th
7:00 to 10:00 PM
University Hall, Room 1000
Loyola Marymount University
1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, California 90045

Set in the post-Godhra violence which was unleashed in Gujarat during
February 2002, this film examines the extent to which the fascist ideologies
of the communal forces have infiltrated into the sub-conscious of an
ordinary Gujarati Hindu. 2003 / documentary / 50 min / English subtitles

Two children, Gita and Radha, are stranded in the no man's land between two
worlds that dominate contemporary childhood: school and home. This in
between land is one of myriad dreams, fears, and fantasies all yearning to
take the shape of a free fluid space where children can summon whichever
spirit they like. The two young friends are on their way back from the
school as they recount their dreams in this subliminal space available only
to childhood. Saree was selected for the 1999 Berlin Festival, and in 2000
it was the inaugural film at the Soorya Festival in Trivandrum, Kerala
(India), and the Mumbai International Film Festival in Mumbai, India.1999 /
drama / 73 min / English subtitles

Q&A with Suma Josson to follow screening and a donation of $5 is requested
at the door
Suma Josson, was born in Kerala and graduated in English Lit. from the
College of St.Teresa, Minnesota, USA. She began her career as a journalist
and switched over to the visual media. She has made a number of documentary
films. Her 'Bombay's Blood Yatra' about the communal riots in Bombay won
wide acclaim in the country and abroad. Her other documentaries include '47
Seconds & After: Latur, Osmanabad', 'Akbar Padamsee & the Last Image' ,
'Waste' (on Gerd Rohling, a German installation artist and ragpicker) and
'One More Day to Live' (on V P Singh, as a painter)

She is also a well known poet and fiction writer and has published in
various indian and international magazines. She has published three books
'Poems and Plays', 'A Harvest of Light' (a collection of plays), and
'Circumferences' (a novel, Penguin).

Her debut film was 'Janmadhinam' which won three state awards, and was
screened at various international film festvals including the 1999 Berlin
Festival. She was one of the five women filmmakers commissioned to make a
documentary 'Trading Images' on the subject 'women's space' in a German
international coproduction. 'Saree' is her second feature film.

>From Valley: Take San Diego (405) Freeway south. Exit on Manchester Blvd
(W) and turn right towards the beach.
>From Orange County: Take San Diego (405) Freeway North. Exit on Manchester
Blvd (W) and turn left towards the beach.
>From Downtown: Take I-10 West Freeway north and merge on to the San Diego
(405) south. Exit on Manchester Blvd (W) and turn right towards the beach.

After following the above, turn right on Lincoln Blvd and make another right
on LMU Drive. University Hall will be the first Bldg on the right, enter the
underground parking structure from the second entrance and take the elevator
to Room 1000. Parking is Free.


SACW is an informal, independent & non-profit citizens wire service run by
South Asia Citizens Web (www.mnet.fr/aiindex).
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.