SACW | 26 April 03
Sat, 26 Apr 2003 03:22:55 +0100
South Asia Citizens Wire | 26 April, 2003
#1. Sri Lanka: A four point programme for bipartisanship and peace
#2. Pakistan - India: If both sides are flexible (M.H. Askari)
#3. Musharraf=92 Should Grasp Vajpayee's Offer (Badruddin R. Gowani)
#4. Pakistan: Seedy life of Pakistan's world-weary 'dancing girls' is
caught on canvas (Jan McGirk)
#5. Pakistan: Sense on dress (Ismail Khan)
#6. South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) meeting begins in Dhaka
#7. India: SAHMAT Press Conference on what is happening in BJP-ruled
Gujarat (26 April, New Delhi)
#8. India: Re-imagination of the State and Gujarat's Electoral
Verdict (Aseem Prakash)
#9. India: Rights versus Representation - Defending Minority
Interests in the Constituent Assembly (Shefali Jha)
#10. India: Distribution of arms in the State of Rajasthan
Immediate need to ban the VHP dagger alias the trishul in the state
#11. India: Stopping Togadia (T.K. Rajalakshmi)
#12. India: Building hatred around Bhojshala [in Madhya Pradesh]
#13. India: [Shiv Sena Leader] sets a cut-off date [to stop migrants]
(Mahesh Vijapurkar )
The Daily News (Colombo), 26 April 2003
A four point programme for bipartisanship and peace
by Jehan Perera
April 25 2003
If both sides are flexible
By M.H. Askari
It would be unrealistic to assume that a resumption of talks between
India and Pakistan, proposed by India's prime minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee and welcomed by Pakistan, would take place without running
into snags and hitches at various stages. Going by the past record of
such bilateral exchanges, the chances of a smooth beginning of
another round of talks, are very slim.
However, any scepticism arising out of Indian foreign minister
Yashwant Sinha's repeated assertion that Pakistan deserved to be
treated like Iraq for its role in promoting cross-border infiltration
of militants into Indian held Kashmir seems unnecessary. First, Prime
Minister Vajpayee has offered the talks quite a few days after Mr
Sinha had voiced his allegations and insinuations. Seasonally, the
US, to whom Mr Sinha addressed his entreaties for Iraq-like action
against Pakistan, has made it quite clear that there is no parallel
between Iraq and Pakistan.
What is important is for both countries to realize that there is no
alternative to a dialogue. It is also important that neither side
lays down any preconditions for the resumption of talks. Many eminent
Indian observers of the Kashmir situation have repeatedly stressed
that the only meaningful way for India to tackle the problem of
cross-border terrorism is to make peace with the Kashmiris.
A brief for the American policymakers, developed by the Brookings
Institution at the end of a 10-month long military stand-off between
India and Pakistan along their common border last year, categorically
stated that New Delhi urgently needed to "respond to the Kashmiris'
legitimate grievances and institutionalize political mechanisms and
processes to ensure democratic governance."
The incidents of violence in Kashmir on Tuesday, resulting in the
death of a large number of people and 13 'militants', are most
deplorable but would, hopefully, not upset the plans for talks. For
the present, this seems unlikely, in view of the fact that the Indian
authorities continue to stand by their offer of talks despite the
incidents. India's junior foreign minister, Digvijay singh, confirmed
on Tuesday that the offer of talks was by no means "flippant" and
that they could begin as early as June if there is a positive
response from the Pakistani side. He told an Indian daily, Asian Age
that even a "one-line statement from the Pakistani side shunning
violence" would be helpful in getting the talks started.
Not surprisingly, the only discordant note was struck by the Indian
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, who, speaking in the Lok
Sabha, said that "guerillas from Pakistan" could use the turbulence
in Iraq as a "smoke screen" to hide infiltration into Kashmir. This
makes little sense, as there is no possible linkage between Pakistan
and Iraq. Contrary to what he implies, the international community,
particularly the US, is likely to react very strongly to any over
acts of terrorism.
The coming visit of the US deputy secretary of state, Richard
Armitage, to South Asia in early May clearly indicates that US feels,
the situation between India and Pakistan needs to be closely watched.
US state department officials have indicated that Washington has
remained engaged in South Asia since early last year when India
massed its forces on the Pakistan border and the two countries came
very close to fighting yet another war.
According to a report, a US State Department official, commenting on
Indian prime minister's call for the resumption of a dialogue with
Pakistan, has said, "It's good to hear leaders from both sides
talking about a peaceful settlement" of their bilateral disputes and
The proposed talks, if and when they take place, will need to be
viewed with cautious optimism. The outcomes of such talks in the past
have not been very encouraging. There was a great deal of optimism at
the time of the Agra summit meeting between President Pervez
Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in July 2001.
According to most reports after the summit, the two leaders came
quite close to an agreement. But in the end, the summit ended quite
abruptly even without the issue of a joint declaration or statement.
The breakdown occurred at the final stage of drafting of the joint
declaration over the semantics of the language. Since then the
leaders the two countries have been drifting apart. At a SAARC summit
afterwards, President Pervez Musharraf walked up to Mr Vajpayee and
shook hands with him but the latter remained impassive and aloof.
The contacts between India and Pakistan at the people-to-people
level, which have taken place over the past several years, have been
quite promising. They have been attended by delegates representing
various schools of thought and social activity from both sides.
Praful Bidwai, one of the top Indian journalists and an indefatigable
peace activist, believes that these initiatives indicate "a
confluence of different concerns, radically questioning not just the
war-like hostility between India and Pakistan but also the structures
and belief systems that sustain such hostility." However, these
efforts have not had any discernible impact on the official policy in
either country. The sticking point has been Kashmir.
Coincidentally, the real hardliners on both sides are the bureaucrats
connected with the formulation of foreign policy. A classic instance
is the incident quoted by Dr Mubashir Hasan, in his article in this
paper on Wednesday. According to him, at a SAARC summit some years
ago the Indian prime minister asked the then Pakistani prime minister
about the progress on a proposal for India to buy electric power from
Pakistan. The then Pakistan prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) expressed
his willingness to accept the proposal but a senior Pakistani
bureaucrat (whom Hr Hasan has not named), present at the meeting,
bluntly said that there was no question of such a deal taking place.
That was the end of the matter.
On occasions it has been suggested that Pakistan and India should
adopt a step-by-step approach the resolution of their disputes,
including Kashmir, without insisting on its "centrality". The idea is
that too rigid an adherence to the relevant UN resolutions for a
plebiscite in Kashmir to determine the wishes of its people there can
create problems. For instance, in the context of the plebiscite in
the original resolution there was no provision for the state's opting
for self-determination which now seems to what the majority of the
Kashmiri people really want. The original resolution is thus not
quite relevant any more.
On the eve of the Agra summit, President Musharraf, in an interview
to an Indian journalist, said something to the effect that there
could be a composite dialogue with India dealing with all outstanding
issues but the centrality of the Kashmir has to be recognized. He
then said: "I would say the end game really is to do something that
will improve the condition of this economically deprived region of
the world, the most poverty-stricken region ... We can do that if we
remove the causes of tensions between India and Pakistan ... We have
to do that by resolving the Kashmir dispute."
Incidentally, Gen Ziaul Haq, during a visit to New Delhi in the early
1980s, said at a press conference that a dialogue between India and
Pakistan did not necessarily have to start with Kashmir, adding "we
could start with less contentious issues."
Perhaps Mr Vajpayee could start the proposed resumption of talks by
reopening the road, rail, air links between the two countries which
have been suspended since December 2001. The two countries could also
consider having free trade and cultural exchanges, and even perhaps
by abolishing the need for a visa to travel between the two
countries. If nothing else, such steps could improve the atmospherics
for bilateral talks, opening up the possibilities of peaceful
solution of all outstanding problems and differences, including
[25 April 2003]
Musharraf=92 Should Grasp Vajpayee's Offer
by Badruddin R. Gowani
International crisis in some or other form has become part of the
world scene and so the present one =96 that is, the ongoing US
destruction, invasion, and conquest of Iraq, termed as "liberation" -
can be ignored as just another crisis in order to console oneself and
to create a false sense of normalcy.
Is it that easy? Can one do that?
=46or at least two reasons one cannot have a short cut with the latest US fu=
US has become a sole global power since 1989 (the year the Berlin
Wall fell), and more so since 1991 (when Bush Sr. went on a
destructive rampage against Iraq), and still is one =96 the
unchallenged one. (September 11, 2001 incident was a minor irritant
economically, although, one has to accept, egoistically, it was a
In the last twelve years, Iraq had been stripped of most of the
weapons and had been bankrupted through illegal sanctions, and so was
not a danger, in the true sense of the word, to anyone, least of all
to Israel =96 which has over 200 nuclear weapons.
The US attacked Iraq with declared aims of destroying the "weapons of
mass destruction" and a regime change. No WMDs have been found =96
even if they were discovered, it would have meant nothing - however,
what is happening in Iraq right now should be an eye opener for Third
World leaders. The US troops immediately took control of the oil
installations, while letting the people loot and destroy museums and
buildings belonging to education and other government departments.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that people are enjoying
the "freedom." Would he have allowed people to enjoy their "freedom"
by letting them burn down the Iraqi oil wells? The root cause of US
conquest. The answer is not difficult to guess.
So why did Bush started this devastation which has no clear view of
future, except an unending cycle of violence? It is simply to scare
the hell out of any nation who even thinks of pursuing an independent
line. In addition, behind this "freedom" of looting and burning
there is a message: you defy our order and we won't just invade and
conquer your country, we will destroy your history =96 records,
artifacts, and heritage. We are wild conquerors.
Another reason is that this "regime change" business is now going to
become an addiction for the US rulers. A warning is already served
to Syria. Bush wants it to "cooperate," Rumfeld is charging it with
possession of "chemical weapons," Colin Powell is stabbing
diplomatically, while Tony Blair said that there is no plan to
"invade" =96 a tactic to calm down world's fear of another invasion.
One cannot help but conclude that Bush Jr. is much more dangerous,
insane, fanatic, and a psychopath than Osama bin Laden, who had
genuine grievances against the US - such as the presence of US forces
in Saudi Arabia, US support of Israel, US sanctions against Iraq,
etc. Bush had none against Afghanistan or Iraq, and has none against
Syria, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Libya, Sudan, or Venezuela.
(However, being in possession of the most destructive weapons and a
dream of super hegemony over the world, Bush ignored all those
appeals from around the world to avoid the invasion.)
In this situation, how is Musharraf feeling? It is a painful
question. He is well aware that the US would not want any other
country to have nuclear weapons =96 except the US =96 and would do
everything to denuclearize those countries, which it can easily
attack. Besides, the Taliban remnants are still in Pakistan
He cannot be in a worst state than the present one. It is a
three-pronged attack. The mullahs are exerting more pressure on him
and are gaining more power as a reaction against the US interference
in Afghanistan, Pakistan, its support of Israel, and the present
pillaging of Iraq; the US is constantly humiliating him by asking for
his cooperation for every new criminal venture; and India (up until
now) had been threatening him with a US style "war on terrorism" for
Pakistan's moral and murderous support of Kashmiri people and Islamic
militants. (Sometime back, a title, "Musharraf's Murdah*: Look &
Learn," for an article came to my mind which, I hope, Musharraf does
not provide me with a chance to write.)
Pakistan based Islamic militant outfits do not miss any chance of
keeping the Kashmir issue alive. Their increased and insane
atrocities in Kashmir with the aim of creating a war between Pakistan
and India or some such scenario can push the whole region in a deep
turmoil. (Neither the armies of either countries or the Hindu
fundamentalists are any saner or have any sense of decency or respect
for human life).
On March 23, twenty-four Hindus, including children and women, were
cruelly murdered, and not for the first time. This is not the work
of some lunatics but that of murderers who are doing it methodically
and with a calculated strategy: to provoke an Indo-Pak conflict.
Musharraf cannot afford any fight. On the other hand, his
nervousness with the latest US insanity is also out in the open.
Within this year, it has happened twice that Musharraf said things,
which usually are not stated publicly. Back in January, he warned
the Islamists that after Iraq if the US attacks Pakistan nobody is
going to come to its rescue. Then on 15th of last month (a Freudian
slip or an intentional outburst?), he openly wished that Pakistan
should not have been a member of the UN Security Council at this
time. That is, when the US was trying to get it=92s second UN
resolution for "war" against Iraq passed. Musharraf was saved from a
dangerous situation because the US avoided the UN as France had
threatened to veto it.
It is a shameful situation for a country of 150 million people with a
500,000 strong army and a dozen or more nuclear weapons.
Not that Musharraf is blameless. Any leader, who creates enmity with
neighbors and produces a mess in the neighborhood, will be that much
weaker against the US, when the latter opens its fang to tear apart
her/his country. When he came to power in October 1999, he should
have stopped supporting the Taliban =96 not because of the US - but
because they were a nasty lot and were a regressive influence on the
whole region; he should have avoided the Kargil mini-war; and he
should have tried to make the Agra Summit a success, even a limited
one =96 in spite of Lal Krishna Adwani and other Hindu hardliners=92
efforts to derail the summit.
Today, if relations with India were good, Pakistan would not have
felt so vulnerable to be one of the targets on the US hit list of
destruction. (If Iraq=92s relations with Iran were good, if nothing
else, at least Iran would have extended moral support.)
Musharraf cannot afford any more delays; he should accept Indian
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's "hand of friendship" by
offering Pakistan=92s hand and thus meeting Vajpayee=92s condition that
"hands should be extended from both sides." (Vajpayee's speech in
Srinagar on April 18, 2003).
Musharraf should consult people like Teesta Setalwad, Arundhati Roy,
former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, Praful Bidwai, Asma Jahangir, Dr.
Mubashir Hassan, I.A. Rahman and others for ideas on smoothing the
path to negotiation.
There is no doubt that at times India acts like a big brother in the
region and would act more often in such fashion in future, as its
ties with US grow stronger. (A small bully in company of the biggest
bully never feels impotent but important.) Even if India decides to
act like a big brother, it will always be aware of the close
proximity and hence of the retaliatory moves. It is not like the
world Master who just comes on killing, saucers, destroys, and goes
back to its safe nest.
Some of the suggestions:
There are several advantages in having friendly relations with India:
Secularists in whole of South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India,
Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) would gain some strength
after suffering so much defeat due to onslaught of communalism of all
sorts in the whole region.
People traveling to both countries would be saved humiliation and
time by entering each others=92 countries directly rather than via UAE
Defense expenditures of both countries would reduce, and the savings
thus gained could be diverted to the betterment of their economies.
The SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) would be
able to function in a meaningful way and could be helpful in
improving cultural, economical, financial, and political relations
between all the countries.
The region could stand up as one block in its dealings with the US,
and in its opposition to the criminal activities of the US.
Improve relations with India without involving the US. Relations
based on mutual understanding would be long lasting than the one
created by a country that nobody would want to trust.
Some other recommendations, including a few for India too:**
1. India must end the reign of terror in Kashmir and should take the
Kashmiri people into confidence by granting them more autonomy.
2. Pakistan must clamp down on Pakistani infiltrators and also the
foreign terrorists or "Jehadis." It should see that they are not
allowed to cross into the Indian Kashmir.
3. Pakistan will have to accept the bitter truth that the Kashmir
Game is now over and will have to learn to stay content with the
1/3rd portion, which is under its control.
4. Once both the countries have decided to accept the Line of Control
as a permanent border, they should then involve the United Nations to
give it a legal shape.
5. The terroristic activities of India's RAW (Research and Analysis
Wing) and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) in each
other's countries must end. Enough research has been done in South
Asia and enough services have been provided to the South Asians.
6. Famous South Asian actor Dilip Kumar was awarded Pakistan's
highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Pakistan, by Sharif government in
1998. In spite of fierce opposition in India, Dilip Kumar showed
courage by going to Pakistan to receive the award. On part of Sharif
government, it was a purely political move. A government of a
Muslim country confers an award to a Muslim actor from India, a
country with a Hindu majority.
It would have been much better if the award were also given to singer
Lata Mangeshkar, a Hindu. She is equally, if not more, popular in
Pakistan and among other South Asians worldwide. Musharraf
government can rectify the folly by inviting Lata Mangeshkar and
presenting her the Nishan-e-Pakistan.
*Corpse in several South Asian languages.
**The following ones are taken verbatim from my 2000 article, "The
Kashmir Game is Over".
The Independent (UK)
26 April 2003
In Foreign Parts: Seedy life of Pakistan's world-weary 'dancing
girls' is caught on canvas
By Jan McGirk in Lahore
Plump courtesans such as Naila usually laze away the afternoon in
darkened rooms, since most clients don't arrive at Lahore's old Heera
Mandi quarter before 11pm. She laments that late-night customers
prefer the vulgar "bump and grind" routines inspired by pop videos or
Bollywood movies as a teaser for perfunctory sex.
Very few "nautch" (dancing) girls still perform the classical Urdu
love songs and erotic dances that enchanted maharajas in Mogul times.
Naila, age 34 and tipping the scales at 15 stone (95kg), swigs liquor
to get in the mood. Her baritone imbues the old lyrics with a
palpable longing. "It's the voice of the whisky," she giggles. Her
two youngest kids listen to rap, while her teenage daughters pout and
She cranks up the volume on her tape recorder and huffs through the
classic steps, fixing her gaze on Iqbal Hussain. Mr Hussain, a local
painter who has chronicled her life on dozens of canvasses, champions
the nautch traditions that his mother and sister used to practise.
Mr Hussain's campaign to preserve this remarkable neighbourhood of
"Punjabi geishas" as a heritage site has met staunch opposition,
particularly from Pakistan's religious fundamentalists. "The mullahs
condemn me for promoting whoredom," he said, "and the cops resent me
for showing their brutality towards prostitutes."
No one denies that nautch girls may be willing to have sex with
paying clientele. This includes well-heeled politicians and
industrialists as well as frustrated Lahori labourers. Though Naila's
three daughters did not start turning tricks until they were 14, she
began dancing when she was seven.
Generation after generation, these women are born into the flesh
trade; in fact, a baby girl's birth is celebrated in this
neighbourhood, unlike in most Pakistani communities.
Mr Hussain, who has witnessed the despair of his neighbourhood,
added: "Things are changing for the worse. Fear of police drives the
women to work through pimps. The women's work has become more
Hina, who is Naila's middle daughter, was raped when she was 12.
Earlier, three policemen turned on the girls in the bazaar and beat
them with sticks, incensed that the comely teenagers had "the
intention of inviting people upstairs".
Mr Hussain was astonished when Naila suggested this brutal episode as
a theme for a painting, even though his narrative art usually
reflects the family's personal routines.
Nowadays, working women are paid to drink shots and mime to songs in
city bars. The women are often raped and robbed of their night's
takings. There's no use reporting the crime, since a judge would
blame the women.
DAWN (Karachi) April 25, 2003
Sense on dress
By Ismail Khan
=46or a change, the Frontier assembly did meet at the stipulated time
and things went well as far as the day's agenda was concerned - the
usual lacklustre question hour. However, the brinkmanship of our
legislators: if they have no issue to talk about, they create one.
Khalid Waqar Chamkani is a lawyer by profession, that too of the high
court. One expected him to do better than moving a resolution which,
although good in substance, included a controversial sentence,
calling the trousers-shirt dress a symbol of slavery and an
The actual resolution had called for a shalwar- qameez uniform for
students and teachers in all public and private schools from the next
academic year. But then Mr Waqar Chamkani moved a step further,
describing western dress un- Islamic. This caused an uproar.
ANP's Bashir Bilour jumped from his seat to point to a huge portrait
of the suit-and-tie-wearing Quaid-i-Azam overlooking the house. He
dared the MMA MPs to say that the Quaid was wearing an un-Islamic
dress. "Why is this picture there if it is un-Islamic? Bring it down
if it is un- Islamic", he challenged the MMA MPs.
This prompted a few other opposition MPs to join in. Israr Gandapur,
who like his father, Inayatullah Gandapur, comes to the house wearing
'un-Islamic' dress, rose to explain the history of western-style
trousers, their connection with the Ottoman empire and Turkey. The
MMA members were not willing to listen.
Senior Minister Sirajul Haq did make an effort to brush the
resolution aside. "There is nothing un-Islamic about the dress", he
said. But the harangue created by some of the diehard MMA MPs forced
Speaker Bakht Jahan to put it to vote. The ayes obviously carried the
motion, amidst loud desk-thumping and cheers of congratulations to
The opposition, which by then had assembled in front of the Speaker's
podium, in frustration walked out.
Better sense however prevailed and when the house reconvened after
the break. The senior minister rose again to ask the speaker to
delete the contentious sentence from the resolution. Bakht Jahan
obliged and the MMA MPs who had pushed the resolution by voice and
show of hand grudgingly said aye again to omit the disputed sentence
The Daily Star (Dhaka)
April 26, 2003
SAHR meeting begins today
The two-day meeting of the bureau members of the South Asians for
Human Rights (SAHR) begins in the city today.
Leading human rights activists from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and
Nepal including SAHR Chair and former Indian premier, IK Gujral, and
SAHR co-chair and UN Rapporteur for Extra Judicial Killings, Asma
Jahangir, reached Dhaka yesterday to attend the meeting to be held at
Sheraton Hotel. SAHR Bangladesh chapter is hosting the meeting.
The meeting is likely to focus on the implications of the war in
Iraq, growing militarisation, rising use of religion and general
political situation as related to human rights in the region.
SAHR bureau consists of members from South Asian countries. Members
of the Bangladesh bureau are Sigma Huda, Hameeda Hossain, Subrata
Chowdhury and Mahfuz Anam.
Meanwhile, IK Gujral and Asma Jahangir will exchange views with the
members of civil society at 4:30pm today at the Supreme Court Bar
Besides, SAHR bureau members will hold a press conference at Sheraton
8, Vithalbhai Patel House, Rafi Marg
Telephone- 3711276/ 3351424
Please Join Us! Very Important!!
After over a year of the genocide in Gujarat, Muslims still face a
crippling economic and social boycott. A callous state establishment
is not only denying justice to the victims but is actively involved
in prosecuting innocent people belonging to the minority community.
To give details of what is happening in BJP-ruled Gujarat, a press
conference is being held on Saturday, 26th April at 3.30 pm at SAHMAT
VBPH Rafi Marg, New Delhi.
Hanif Lakadawala and Teesta Setelwad will address the conference.
The Economic and Political Weekly
April 19, 2003
Re-imagination of the State and Gujarat's Electoral Verdict
The absence of progressive class/social movements has made Gujarat
susceptible to experiments with right wing ideologies, especially the
politics of the Hindu right.
by Aseem Prakash
The Economic and Political Weekly
April 19, 2003
Rights versus Representation
Defending Minority Interests in the Constituent Assembly
In the name of democracy, the constituent assembly of India adopted
certain specific individual and collective rights to religion.
Democracy, however, is not just about rights; another integral
component of democracy is representation. This essay argues that the
granting of a range of individual and collective religious rights to
the minorities was used, in the constituent assembly, to justify the
refusal of their demand for more adequate mechanisms of
representation, for instance, for proportional representation or for
reserved seats in the legislatures.
by Shefali Jha
PUCL April, 2003
Summary Report of PUCL, Rajasthan
Distribution of arms in the State of Rajasthan
Immediate need to ban the VHP dagger alias the trishul in the state
=46orthcoming trishul distribution ceremonies
Year and district-wise distribution of trishuls
List of some trishul distribution ceremonies in last 3 years
Communal Incident/Riots & Communal Tension
After the successful victory of the VHP brand of the BJP in Gujarat
the next target is Rajasthan. Facts related to distribution of
trishuls not only show that after the carnage in Gujarat in 2002 more
than six thousand trishuls were distributed in the State but after
the victory in Gujarat the pace of arming people has increased. In
less than thirty five days of the year 2003 more than 2600 people
were armed with trishuls. In the next twenty days, nine ceremonies
have been planned which are expected to arm about five thousand
people with more than a thousand only in Dausa district.
The VHP was earlier moving with a strategy of arming people in those
areas which have competitive communalism like Ajmer. All three
religions the Hindus, Muslims and the Christians have a strong
presence in this region and have been competing with each other for
more than seventy five years. The VHP also selected areas where the
RSS or Banvasi Kalyan Parshad have had a base for many years like in
the districts of southern Rajasthan or the districts of Kota, Baran
in East Rajasthan. The VHP also moved with trishuls after a riot
happened in order to assert hindutva by arming a group of hindus. But
now it has decided to spread its net of trishuls in the entire State.
This year, it is moving westwards to areas like Sikar, Nagaur and
Bikaner where the hindutva forces are weak. Todate trishul
distribution has happened in 13 districts of the States but in the
next twenty days they will have moved to four new districts and
subsequently the rest of the State.
While the VHP states that more than seventy thousand trishuls have
been distributed in last five years, according to Government sources
the distribution totals to about ten thousand since 1998 till
=46ebruary, 2003. In the first week of February during the distribution
ceremony in Sikar district, the VHP announced that they would arm 3
lac people in the State and only in Alwar and the Meo belt they would
be arming a lac people. The VHP is known for its exaggerated
statements but they cannot be ignored anymore as 2003 is the election
year in the State and the Ayodhya movement is simmering again in the
country. With little or no presence or opposition by Congress cadres
at the grassroots, the NGOs having not woken up with a strategy to
counter the VHP initiative of distributing Trishuls and the
Government not taking any legal action against, the VHP may try to
repeat in Gujarat in Rajasthanas an act of desperation.
The immediate need is bringing the trishul under the Arms Act in
Rajasthan and prevent any further distribution of this arm in the
Some highlights of the trishul programme in the state
=46acts of the last five years show that the VHP launched its programme
of trishul distribution in 1998 targeting the districts of Rajsamand
and Kishangarh and Ajmer, where 304 trishuls were distributed. In the
year1999 only Tonk district was a target where 27 trishuls were
distributed. In year 2000 there were no distribution of trishuls. In
2001 about 1126 trishuls were distributed in the five districts of
Ajmer, Bhilwara, Udaipur, Chittorgarh and Banswara with more than 800
trishuls distributed only in Ajmer and 195 in Bhilwara. It is the
year 2002 which has sent alarm bells ringing through the State where
in only one day in October more than 2000 trishuls were distributed
in Jhalarapatan in Jhalawar. In the month of December, when all eyes
were glued to Gujarat, Togadia and other senior VHP leaders
distributed 2580 trishuls in Rajasthan. The break up of this
distribution was as follows: 300 in Chittor on 7th Dec., 1100 in
Sawai Madhopur on 14th Dec, 580 in Jaipur on 15th Dec and 600 in
Bharatpur on 16th Dec.
These developments in Rajasthan become particularly alarming when
viewed in the light of the Gujarat experience. It may be recalled
that the regions where trishuls were distributed in large numbers in
Gujarat saw the worst killings. The year 2002 saw 21 incidents of
communal violence and riots in Rajasthan as compared to 5 in the
earlier year. The timing and selection of place by VHP for trishul
distribution in 2001 & 2002 has had a relationship with communal
incidents/ tensions in the area.
=46or instance Gangapur city ( Sawai Madhopur) is an example where in
the wake of Godhra in 2002 March three persons were killed in police
firing when a big crowd of people prevented the tazia processions
during Muharram from being taken out in the city. Both the BJP and
the VHP have periodically being holding programmes of spreading hate
and finally on the 14th of December 1100 trishuls were distributed.
Togadia himself came to distribute these trishuls and in his hate
speech declared that now that the hindus had been armed the muslims
could be taught a lesson.
In September 2001, Togadia himself undertook the journey to Asind in
Bhilwara to distribute trishuls and honour the youth who broke the
Kalindri masjid in the Sawai Bhoj premises at Asind. About 150
trishuls were distributed to young village youth from closeby areas.
=46ollowing the US attack on Afghanistan the poor mulsims of that area
were called Osama Bin Laden supporters in a public meeting of Sadhvi
Rithambara at Asind. Towards end December Daulatgarh, a village in
the vicinity of Asind had its first communal tension where fingers
were pointed at muslims that had were associated with Bin Laden.
According to the villagers the young men who returned after the
trishul ceremony spread hate against the muslims in the village.
Similarly on the 5th of April, 2001 a big trishul distribution
ceremony took place on Muharram on the outskirts of Beawar. In less
than a week's time an altercation happened between villagers and the
administration over the construction of a masjid few kms. outside
Beawar. Capitalising on this incident on the 16th of April, 2001 a
serious incident of communal violence took place when a VHP rally
pouting hate speech right at the entrance of a muslim mohalla was
attacked resulting in loot, arson and injuring several people.
That the eyes of the VHP is on the dalits can be clearly seen through
the trishul distribution event in Phagi, Jaipur district, held on the
5th of January, 2002. It was organised to crush the emergence of the
dalit identity in the area who were demanding rights to equal
citizenship after the Chakwara incident of dalits being prevented
bathing rights in the village pond. The banners pasted all over the
pandaal said "all hindus are one". The VHP tried killing two birds
with one stone, they not only made the "untouchables" feel important
that day but the Manuwadi hindu big brothers armed them, a right
traditionally not possessed by them. It may be recalled that in
Gujarat the VHP army were the dalits.
Proscribing the trishul under the arms act
To prevent Gujarat from being repeated one of the immediate tasks
needed is to prevent people the arming of people. There is an urgent
need to ban trishul distribution in the state. Madhya Pradesh
government has shown the way by proscribing the VHP trishuls under
the Arms Act. The Rajasthan government just needs to include by a
notification trishuls in the list of weapons under the relevant
provision of the Act. At present, the VHP trishuls defy the Arms Act
on just a technical count. The Arms Act, as in force, proscribes a
weapon with a sharp blade of 10.5 cms length. Though the VHP trishul
has a blade length of 13.5 cms, the sharpened part has been
deliberately kept slightly shorter with a length of 8 cms only. But
this is just an eyewash as the remainder can be sharpened anytime by
the neighbourhood blacksmith at the behest of the person holding the
trishul. Hence a fresh notification is required to bring these
trishuls under the ambit of the Arms Act. The sooner this is done the
better. The traditional trishul displayed in temples could be
excluded from this as two of its arms are blunt and turned sideways
and the middle arm is pointed but not sharp.
It may be recalled that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot urged
the Prime Minister to restrain the VHP from distributing trishuls as
the resultant panic among muslims would polarise the communal
situation in the state. Also, any violence that this would generate
would merely push the muslims to the arms of fundamentalists and
possibly Pakistan in this border state. It is therefore that an
urgent action needs to be taken in this regard.
The PUCL team was unable to get information as to where these
trishuls are being manufactured. Officials in Rajasthan have informed
us that they are not manufactured in the State and they come from
outside. Finding the location of factories is important in the long
The People's Union for Civil Liberties appeals to all groups and
citizens to help put pressure on the Government and get the trishul
proscribed under the arms act by bringing in a fresh notification.
Kavita Srivastava & Prem Krishna Sharma
=46or More Information Contact:
People's Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan
49, Vivek Nagar, Station Road, Jaipur-302006
phone: 0141/2206139 (Prem Krishna Sharma) , 2591408, 2706483 ( Kavita
Srivastava) e.mail: email@example.com
Volume 20 - Issue 09, April 26 - May 09, 2003
The arrest of Praveen Togadia has temporarily halted the VHP's
provocative trishul distribution campaign in Rajasthan, but will the
Congress(I) government deal firmly with the Hindutva forces?
Volume 20 - Issue 09, April 26 - May 09, 2003
Building hatred around Bhojshala
The order of the Archaeological Survey of India allowing Tuesday
prayers at the Bhojshala complex in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, raises
fresh fears about an escalation of communal tensions in the town.
ON Tuesdays, the 10,000-odd Muslims of Dhar in Madhya Pradesh
consciously keep a low profile. There are few localities in the town
of one lakh people where Hindus and Muslims live together. The level
of interaction between the two communities plunges to greater depths
on Tuesdays as the neighbourhood resounds with sloganeering by
activists of the Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM), an affiliate of the
Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). HJM activists block the narrow
lanes of Dhar town, about 60 km from Indore, doing door-to-door
rounds urging the residents to attend the morning aarti at the
Bhojshala-Kamal Maula complex. They distribute a few grains of rice
and flowers to the residents and ask them to offer these to goddess
Saraswati in the complex. [...].
The Hindu, Apr 26, 2003
Now, Thackeray sets a cut-off date
By Mahesh Vijapurkar
MUMBAI April 25. The Shiv Sena, which originally preached the
`Mumbai-for-Maharashtrians' doctrine in the past, has now changed
tack. All those who came here prior to 1995, it says, are
Mumbaiwallahs. But if intends doing anything about the post-1995
arrivals, it is not known how it would go about it.
And, it wants those who came prior to 1995 to stop the new influx of
migrants. In an attempt towards securing such intent, the Sena chief,
Bal Thackeray, today announced a "Me Mumbaikar (I am a Mumbai
resident)" programme but did not specify the details. Stopping the
"flood" should be the first priority, he said.
No one, he said, should "bring politics into this". If anyone was
"far too smart to play a game of political chess on this", he told
the party organ, Saamana, "then I will not rest till I defeat such
It did not matter which region the pre-1995 migrants came from. There
would be no discrimination on any grounds, regional, religious or
On Thursday, the Sena's executive president, Uddhav Thackeray, spelt
out his view to Mumbai's business leaders at the Indian Merchants'
Chamber and was backed by a battery of party elders.
Clearly, the party has moved away from its anti-Tamil line and
started on a new tack without abandoning Hindutva.
Using the analogy of the cellular operators who advertise "incoming
calls free", the younger Mr. Thackeray says Mumbai's plight is
dictated by such an attitude. Anyone can come in. No questions asked.
It may be recalled that the Sena had always spoken of "floods of
Its calls had always been met with the affirmation that Indian
citizens' right to movement and choice of residence could not be
curtailed. The party's argument is this: no one, except the Shiv Sena
and its cadre are as concerned about Mumbai, or love it as much. But
the process of allowing migrants, one per minute according to the
Sena, into the already overcrowded metropolis has strained the city's
resources to the extent that it could collapse soon. "It is already
in a gridlock. Others have only feasted off it."
The continuing flow of people - by all accounts Mumbai is the biggest
magnet for people in India, the city that can deny shelter but not a
living - was because other States could not ensure employment or
livelihood for their own people.
So, apart from paying the highest share of income and corporate
taxes, Mumbai had to bear the burden. And the city got no special
treatment, the Sena argues.
A few days ago, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray's cousin, Raj Thackeray, had
said that given the manner in which Maharashtrians had suffered, they
should be allowed to make money in any manner they chose and that
both the Government and the media should turn a blind eye to that.
That means the Sena's soft corner for its original base will
continue. The new Uddhav Thackeray line appears to be rooted in urban
planning: cities cannot be allowed to overstretch themselves beyond a
point. There is some historic, though recent, background to 1995.
That was the cut-off year for free rehabilitation of Mumbai's
slum-dwellers in pucca houses, 225 sq. ft. for a family, when the
Sena was in Government along with the BJP.
That effort came to nought because the builders could not sell enough
space in the former slums in the free market.
According to Adhik Shirodkar, a former Sena Rajya Sabha member and
perhaps the only Maharashtrian, others to the Upper House from the
party having been non-Maharashtrians, the migrants, mainly from Uttar
Pradesh and Bihar, should be asked three questions: Why are you
coming here? Do you have a place to stay? What are you bringing to
Sanjay Nirupam, who hails from Bihar, says he continues to be
pressured by kith and kin from back home to find jobs for them in
Mumbai. He said he would henceforth ask them to go to other cities,
maybe Pune or even Nagpur.
Said Mr. Bal Thackeray: "Does any other State allow an outsider to
become a Minister? Can a non-Bengali manage to become a Minister in
West Bengal?" In Maharashtra, non-Maharashtrians hold ministerial
positions, he added.
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