SACW | 17 Sept. 2003
aiindex at mnet.fr
Wed Sep 17 06:52:25 CDT 2003
South Asia Citizens Wire | 16 September, 2003
 Move to Repeal Anti-Women Law Triggers Controversy in Pakistan (Ahmed Raza)
 India Pakistan Arms Race and Militarisation Watch Compilation # 135
 India: Breaking The Terror Cycle: Tackle causes, not symptoms
 India: The Progenitor of Pseudo-Secularism (I.K.Shukla)
 India: Uranium Mine project in Andhra Pradesh,
- Public Hearing on the Proposed Uranium Mine in Lambapur-Peddagattu,
Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh, August 19, 2003 - Submission by
- Movement Against Uranium Project (MAUP) [ Andhra Pradesh, India]
- India: Third Dr. Arvind Narayan Das Foundation lecture (New Delhi,
20 September 2003)
- Sri Lanka: Book release : Nira Wickramasinghe's "Dressing the
 India: Complaint and Draft Petition seeking investigation against
Dr. Pravin Togadia to the Medical Council of India (Manisha Gupte,
Amar Jesani, N. Sarojini and Sanjay Nagral )
 India: The saffron strategy in Maharashtra (Lyla Bavadam)
 India: Justice done (editorial, The Hindu)
+ Protest against communal violence (Robin David)
Riot panel bars advocate, witness from facing media
 Hindutva at Work:
- BJP defends burning of Christian literature in Uttaranchal
- VHP forming "secret squads" to help temple campaigners
- Gujarat's new Public Prosecutor is a VHP activist (Janyala Sreenivas)
OneWorld South Asia
16 September 2003
Move to Repeal Anti-Women Law Triggers Controversy in Pakistan
India Pakistan Arms Race and Militarisation Watch Compilation # 135
(16 September 2003)
[September 15, 2003]
Breaking The Terror Cycle: Tackle causes, not symptoms
By Praful Bidwai
The second anniversary of September 11 should occasion sober
reflection, serious contemplation, and brutally candid analysis, not
the tub-thumping macho rhetoric about "fighting terrorism by whatever
means" that we're all being treated to. The attacks shockingly
highlighted the menace of terrorism, the vulnerability of the world's
mightiest nation, and the weakness of its security doctrines,
including deterrence. They inflicted enormous damage upon those
ultimate symbols of US power, the Pentagon and Wall Street, and left
America shaken. Yet, they were by no means history's most
destructive instances of terrorism, as is often claimed. Even going
by the operative part of the US State Department's definition of
terrorism as "premeditated, politically motivated violence
perpetrated against non-combatant targets", 9/11 pales into
insignificance beside the World War-II fire-bombings of Dresden and
Tokyo, and, above all, the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
history's most horrific acts of terrorism. All these were directed at
non-combatants too, but by states, not "groups or clandestine agents".
In Hiroshima, a single Bomb killed 140,000 people in unspeakably
gruesome ways---a number that's 40 times higher than the total killed
on 9/11. A qualitatively new weapon was demonstrated in August 1945,
which has the capacity to snuff out all life itself, and which
decisively altered global power equations. Seen in perspective, 9/11
was the worst attack on the US, but not the world. Yet, President
Bush's first response was to declare an open-ended, all-out, unending
war against "global terrorism". Evidently, the world's sole
Superpower needs a fully global enemy! America's "war on terror"
would encompass 60 or more countries; Washington would not rest until
it had wiped out the menace of global terrorism.
Two years, and two wars later, the world has become more skewed, more
restless, more insecure, and more vulnerable to terrorism. The US and
its allies swiftly defeated the Taliban militarily. But more than
two-thirds of its key leaders and sources of inspiration, including
Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Mullah Omar remain at large.
Al-Qaeda is furiously regrouping. Afghanistan remains hopelessly
ungovernable. Mr Hamid Karzai has been called the Mayor of
Kabul---not inaccurately. Afghanistan's sole state-level military
force remains under the control of the Panjshiris, while warlords
rule its remaining territory. The US has failed to make the minimal
financial or political-military commitment necessary to stabilise
Afghanistan's society and state. Instability in Afghanistan has only
strengthened anti-US forces in a huge new Arc of Crisis extending
from the Middle East to South and Southeast Asia, including Pakistan
and Saudi Arabia.
In Iraq, the US waged an unjust war based on fabricated evidence
about weapons of mass destruction. It took over a country that was
patently not a terrorist threat (however repulsive its regime might
have been) and turned it into a threat---witness the numerous suicide
bombings, above all, on the UN. The war pitted America against
countless nations, including its strategic allies, and more
crucially, against the world's Second Superpower---global public
opinion. The multiple layers of deception and overwhelming military
force, on which Washington has relied, with all its arrogance, has
antagonised Muslims everywhere, who see anti-Islamic prejudice at
work in American plans.
This has further fuelled the forces of extremism. The US military
machine, although gigantic, is ill-equipped to vanquish this
dispersed, decentralised, "amorphous" enemy. In any case, as Gabriel
Kolko, one of the world's greatest historians of war and diplomacy,
argues, "military success bears scant relationship to political
solutions that end wars and greatly reduce the risk of their
recurring. But this dichotomy between military power and political
success has existed for most of the past century. The US has always
been ready to use its superior military strength even though
employing that power often creates many more problems than it solves".
America's celebration of military solutions to political problems has
become pathological. One of its worst examples is its coddling of
Israel under an extreme-right leadership which hysterically opposes a
just solution to the Palestinian question, and which practises
barbaric extra-judicial assassination and torture against Palestinian
civilians. The festering of the Palestinian question, and Israel's
continuing repressive occupation of its territories, are a potent
source of global Muslim discontent which has all but scuppered
America's plans for the Middle East.
America's obsession with security, now bordering on paranoia, is
leading to draconian domestic restrictions on civil liberties, and
the racial-profiling of its ethnic minorities. The US is setting an
extremely negative example. It is this very example that the Indian
government wishes to emulate---and not merely to curry favour with
the US and build a "strategic partnership" with it at Pakistan's
expense. Our official thinking is increasingly skewed in favour of
purely military approaches to terrorism. This is reflected in the
perverse solidarity demonstrated by the government with Mr Ariel
Sharon as he scales up his insanely repressive methods and says Hamas
leaders are now "marked for death". India's struggle against
terrorism has nothing in common with Mr Sharon's colonial-militarist
fight against Palestine's liberation, including its terrorist
component. Yet, the militarist approach was explicitly commended by
National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra during his infamous July
speech to the American Jewish Committee. He dismissed as "nonsense"
the view that one must address the root-causes of terrorism to combat
Today, growing numbers of Indian politicians and policemen too
exhibit the same impatience with the task of understanding that the
roots of terrorism lie in cesspools of injustice and grievance, and
of appreciating the importance of minimising hurt to innocent people
in anti-terrorist operations, besides painstakingly gathering
evidence before damning specific groups. The worst irresponsibility
in this regard is to be found in two of our most tragic recent
incidents, each with over 30 people dead: Akshardham in Gujarat last
September, and the August 25 Mumbai blasts. Last fortnight, Ahmedabad
Police Commissioner K.R. Kaushik said the Akshardham attack was
planned in Saudi Arabia to avenge the post-Godhra violence;
Jaish-e-Mohammad played a key role in it, with inspiration from
Pakistan's ISI. He said three terrorists came from Pakistan a week
before the attack.
However, the Kashmir police have an altogether different story. The
have arrested Chand Khan, a car mechanic, who says he was ordered by
the Lashkar to purchase an Ambassador car for use in a suicide-squad
mission and to transport two terrorists to Gujarat. Their target of
choice was a Gaurav Yatra planned by Mr Narendra Modi. On learning
that the yatra won't be held, they decided to attack Akshardham. The
Gujarat police have also interrogated Chand Khan and corroborated the
details he cited of his own activities in Gujarat. Their arrests of
five Gujarati Muslims thus seem based on concocted evidence.
In the Mumbai case, the authorities have given out four mutually
incompatible versions of who was behind the explosions:
Jaish-e-Mohammed; Students' Islamic Movement of India and
Lashkar-a-Tayyaba (L.K. Advani); the Dukhtaran-e-Millat women's group
from Kashmir; and finally, Ahle-Hadees, a religious organisation with
"no known history of terrorist violence". These contradictory
accounts seriously weaken the government's credibility and cast doubt
upon its sincerity in investigating, leave alone fighting, terrorism.
They betray reckless disregard for accuracy and caution in dealing
with life-and-death issues. The official haste to claim success,
score points, and rush to judgment can only distract from the
struggle against terrorism, and make us blind to its causes.
Yet, we should know that terrorism cannot possibly thrive in a
minimally just and participatory society. It wins popular
approval---so essential for it---only when certain groups are
systematically marginalised, excluded, brutalised or subjected to
pain, insult and humiliation, and when avenues for redressing their
grievances close down, and when even elementary fairness, leave alone
justice, seems impossible. Terrorism's ranks swell when innocent
people are punished and their spirit is crushed. There's a simple
lesson here: Terror begets terror. State terrorism fuels
A truly viable, practical, solution to terrorism must simultaneously
use humane policing, accurate intelligence, and political approaches
that will let people vent their grievances and which will reform
justice delivery and public institutions so they become responsive to
the marginalised. Many among India's ethnic-religious minorities feel
discriminated against, but have consciously chosen not to use violent
methods. Until recently, our Muslims kept out of entanglement with
global jehadi "causes". Not a single Indian Muslim joined Al-Qaeda or
other jehadi forces, even in Kashmir.
Then came Gujarat. Last year's barbaric violence produced a new kind
of despair, hopelessness, anger and humiliation. With the Best Bakery
judgment, it became apparent that the possibility of bringing the
guilty to account could be non-existent. Regrettably, despair is
driving some educated Muslim youth to extremism. This is alarming. It
speaks of a grave failure of our political system and its inability
to induce security and a sense of belonging among all our citizens.
The turn to terrorism will be horrendously counter-productive, indeed
suicidal, for all concerned. Indiscriminate violence against innocent
civilians will not bring justice. It will only invite ferocious state
repression. All citizens then will live in greater fear and
insecurity. We cannot break out of this vicious cycle of
terror-counter-terror unless we deal with its root-causes, not just
THE PROGENITOR OF PSEUDO-SECULARISM
Alice of the Adventures in Wonderland was not the first to aver that
words can mean anything you want them to. The Newspeak in Orwell's
1984, besides other things, was only a fictional exegesis of her
"discovery" popularized by Lewis Carroll via Wonderland Adventures
linguistic and other-wise. The hoary tradition in Sanskrit of
playfulness with language aimed to expand and entertain the mind.
Its resort to ambiguity and its innate polysemy did not seek to
constrict the mind and inhibit its modes of thinking. One very
popular statement of fact in sweet and rough versions comes to mind:
Neeras taruriha vilasati puratah (a withered tree stands in front).
Rudely worded, it would be, with the same meaning: Shushko vrikshah
But the uses to which Hindu fascism put the language exceed far
beyond the mendacity and mauling inherent, as a matter of tactics, in
any fascistic manipulation. The depth of depravity informing and
imbuing the saffronazi semantics is mind boggling. Take just two
examples: Shakha (branch). It obstinately obfuscates and covers up
the real goings on in the deceptively genteel and boy-scout variety
of boot camp that RSS has patented. Bauddhik (sessions of moral
depravity and mental vacuity) hardly lets you guess the malevolent
farrago of lies and brutal brainwashing that form its staple.
Indoctrination that drains out the brain and turns one into a robot
could not be more cruel or total. It is the kind of bold and bald
lies that Nazis excelled in. What was "national" or "socialist" in
National Socialism, their ideology they touted and were sworn to?
Were the Nazis showering socialism on Germany? (An aside. Had they
been so engaged they would have been smashed by the imperial
"democracies" of the West long before 1939.)
Similarly, what is either "cultural" or "nationalist" in Cultural
Nationalism to which the HinduTaliban are wedded? It is not what they
propound or how they expound it which could settle the issue. Their
enunciation or exposition of the term, or the ideology subsumed and
symbolized by it, cannot be trusted as authentic or genuine either in
terms linguistic or political. What under this rubric they perform
and present in praxis - that is the evidence and the standard against
which their definitions and discursive depositions must be weighed
and evaluated. Imperial Western "democracies" are called "the free
world"; Latin American dictatorships and juntas are called "liberal
democracies" in the Western media and academe. It would seem from
these definitions that butchering millions of people, for the
privileged predatory few at home, the leaching out of national
resources to alien corporations abroad, and for keeping millions of
people permanently destitute and deprived, is a requisite to qualify
as a "democracy", the more lethal, the more "liberal".
When Vajpayee unloaded his homilies on the 125th anniversary of The
Hindu the other day, he delivered himself of a mouthful. His
pontifications were a demagogue's wordfest. That his peroration,
without any whisper of irony or ineptness, included references to
"our democratic culture", "diversity of viewpoints", "persecution on
account of one's beliefs", "unknown to our ethos", "poverty,
unemployment", "open, inclusive, tolerant nation", "no need to be
skeptical about Indian secularism", must be ascribed to his speech
writer's drugged state or established notoriety as an inveterate
Democracy, dissent, and diversity excoriated in the official
documents and ideological commitments of the RSS (Vajpayee's "soul")
are farthest from the concerns of the Saffron Syndicate. That it is
dedicated to exclusion, opacity, and intolerance in its political
credo which blasts and burns the minorities as hurdles in its
monochromatic and malefic formulation of "one nation-one
language-one people" fiat is no more mere rhetoric but a frenzied
faith, India knows only too well at the cost of lakhs rendered
homeless, thousands of Muslims-Christians-Dalits-Tribals roasted
alive, hundreds of minority women raped and children torn to pieces,
their homes and shops savagely destroyed. But Vajpayee had the
gumption to blabber these pieties without any qualms. He lied boldest
when he enumerated "poverty and unemployment" as among the concerns
of BJP. He omitted BJP's major obsessions : Hindu Rashtra, Mandir,
Pakistan, Akhand Bharat, Liquidation of Minorities through Genocide.
His feral falsehoods are too well known to wash. What concern me here
are two of his most egregious pomposities. But when I recall that he
wrote rhymed slogans and Bhajans for the RSS and publicized them as
poems, and lately touted his meanderings as musings, I know what to
expect of a poetaster and a demagogue. He peremptorily pontificated
on the province of journalism recommending "objective reportage
(sic)", and criticism to be "fair and balanced." And "objective", in
his reckoning, is Hindutwa gibberish to be honored as gospel, and
brazen cover-up of its crimes as "fair and balanced".
As to secularism. Sangh never believed in it, has from its inception
declared war on it, and pithily put its anathema in its slogan:
secularism is no option. Day in and day out, over the years past,
Rashtra Sanharak Sangh ( Association of Destroyers of the Nation) and
its brood have expostulated against secularism so obscenely and
raucously that Vajpayee pretending faith in it should have surprised
even him after the utterance but for the fact that it all was all
theatrically well rehearsed and pre-cued beforehand.
Political memory being proverbially short, many in India believe that
Lal Kishenchand Advani is the patriarch and prelate of "pseudo
secularism". But its prime progenitor and premier pontiff is,
surprise, surprise, Atal Behari Vajpayee. It is Vajpayee who
consolidated the vision into a reality in so far as "pseudo
secularism" is concerned. It is he who realized early on that BJP and
its Hindutwa cabal needed it very badly, even if as a counterpoint
against Congress's avowal of secularism. And, the Sanghis and
Bajrangis left nothing to imagination.
If Congress's secularism could be shown as pseudo, BJP's phantasm of
secularism would be shown as the real and solid variant. As to what
its shape and style would be, that too was perfectly and fully
planned: burning of Muslims and their properties, raping of Christian
and Muslim women and their bonfire, spearing and shredding of Muslim
children and fetuses, and proclaiming it all to be "retaliation
against historical wrongs", "restoration of Hindu glory", recovering
potency, and shedding inferiority complex. The lab was to be Gujarat,
which would be staked as the slaughter house and mortuary of both
minorities and secularism. Modi was anointed as its CM (Charnel
These seem to be harsh words. Here is the evidence. These two
excerpts from The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India by Christophe
Jaffrelot, Columbia University Press, New York, 1996, p.376 set the
In January 1987, in an address to the BJP's National Council in
Vijayawada, he (Advani) referred ominously to the 'dangers of
minorityism' and 'pseudo-secularism' in an obvious allusion to the
Congress government's concern to protect certain interests of the
minorities, as exemplified in the Shah Bano affair.
In the next para:
Although many press reports suggested that the replacement of
Vajpayee by Advani represented the eclipse of a liberal tendency by
one which was more hard-line and militant, the reality was much more
complex. The two leaders differed from each other in some respects
but they did not represent groups or even ideological tendencies.
(Interestingly, the expression 'pseudo-secularism' was first used by
Vajpayee as early as 1969).
The footnote gives the source: 'The bane of pseudo-secularism', in
S.S.Bhandari (ed.). Jana Sangh Souvenir, pp. 55-8.
It explains what Vajpayee meant by raj dharma in his exhortation to
Modi last year after the holocaust in Gujarat to which Modi had
replied "that is what I am doing". Both knew, both concurred.
Immediately thereafter Vajpayee lost no time in felicitating Modi on
his birthday. By not saving Muslims in Gujarat, Modi did his
rajdharma. By not sacking Modi for his crimes (deemed a service to
Hindu Rashtra), Vajpayee did his rajdharma
It would be salutary to recall a couplet from a Bhopali poet:
Tarah tarah ke saanp hamari Dilli men
Atal Behari Shah Bukhari Dilli men
(There are various kinds of snakes in Delhi. [To name only two] Atal
Behari and Shah Bukhari both are there.)
New @ South Asia Citizens Web
Public Hearing on the Proposed Uranium Mine in Lambapur-Peddagattu,
Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh, August 19, 2003
Submission by Praful Bidwai
o o o
Movement Against Uranium Project (MAUP) [ Andhra Pradesh, India]
This is to invite you to the third Dr. Arvind Narayan Das Foundation
lecture at India International Center [New Delhi] on Sept. 20 2003,
at 6.15 pm. The lecture will be delivered by famous historian and
novelist Dr. William Dalrymple, author of books such as The Age Of
Kali, City of Djinns, Xanadu, At the Court of the Fish Eyed
Goddess,White Moghuls among others. We look forward to seeing you on
Dr. Manoshi Mitra Das
Managing Trustee, ANDFOUND.
o o o
The Daily News [Sri Lanka], September 17, 2003
Exploring political and symbolic meanings in Colonial Sri Lanka
by Irangika Range
Dr. Nira Wickramasinghe's book titled "Dressing the Colonised Body"
[*] - 'Politics, Clothing, and Identity in Colonial Sri Lanka' will
be released by the Chairman of the National Heritage Commission Prof.
Senaka Bandaranayake today at 10.00 a.m. at the Colombo International
Book Fair, BMICH, Colombo 7.
"Dressing the Colonised Body" explores popular political and symbolic
meanings assigned to dress in a variety of colonial contexts in Sri
This well-researched and highly creative book focuses on the politics
and identity under late colonialism and is an important addition to
the growing literature on the social history of South Asia.
Proceeding from the understanding that self-representation is at its
peak at the moment of political independence, the author examines the
lineages that exist between that moment in Sri Lanka and the colonial
past, as also the meaning of the commemorations that took place on
Simultaneously she attempts to recreate the life of one man through a
study of his dress as revealed in photographs.
Nira Wickramasinghe obtained her PHD in History from Oxford. She has
been a Fellow at the School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland
and Visiting Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences
A recipient of the World Bank Robert McNamara Fellowship,
Wickramasinghe's work focuses on identity, politics, nationalism and
transnationalism in which areas she has published extensively.
Her publications include Social Theory (1994, co-edited with
R.Coomaraswamy); Ethnic Politics in Colonial Sri Lanka (1995);
History Writing: New Trends and Methodologies (2001).
She is currently working on the political history of Sri Lanka in the
[* Published by Orient Longman India]
South Asia Citizens Web | 15 September 2003
Complaint and Draft Petition seeking investigation against Dr. Pravin
Togadia to the Medical Council of India
by Manisha Gupte, Amar Jesani, N. Sarojini and Sanjay Nagral
A complaint was filed by over 50 doctors under the Medico Friend
Circle against Dr. Praveen Togadia in the Medical Council of India to
get his license to practice medicine revoked for his indulgence and
involvement in hate propaganda and violence.
Frontline: Volume 20 - Issue 19, September 13 - 26, 2003
The saffron strategy in Maharashtra
The August 25 blasts have given the Shiv Sena-BJP combine a pretext
to promote its communal agenda and poll strategy through maha artis,
while the State government watches in silence.
IF the Opposition parties in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena (S.S.) and
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), did not have a cogent election
strategy for the forthcoming State Assembly polls, then the twin
blasts in Mumbai on August 25 have certainly provided them with a peg.
Ever since the blasts, the S.S.-BJP combine has swung into action,
attacking the ruling Democratic Front (D.F.) on every count and
seizing the opportunity to foment communal tensions. The first
indication of this came with Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani's
perfunctory visit to the blast sites. Addressing the press and the
public in the Zaveri Bazar area, dominated by the Gujarati community,
he had no hesitation in pointing a finger at Pakistan and saying that
"our neighbour" is not doing enough to control terrorism. As proof of
its sincerity in controlling terrorism, Advani said Pakistan must
hand over the 20 terrorists, including those wanted in connection
with the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai.
Instead of its usual knee-jerk reaction of calling a bandh, the Shiv
Sena showed a surprising degree of circumspection when its leader Bal
Thackeray agreed to the State government's appeal not to call a
bandh. "We cannot have serial bandhs in response to serial blasts,"
he said. Instead, the Sena and the BJP led a silent march, with black
bands tied around the participants' mouths, from the Gateway of India
to Mantralaya, the State Secretariat. Banners carried by the
protesters, who included Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Bannerjee,
called for a dismissal of the State government.
However, it was just a matter of time before the S.S.-BJP decided to
use the blasts as an aggressive introduction to their unofficial poll
campaign. The 10-day-long Ganpati festival, which began on August 31,
has been co-opted for the S.S.-BJP's political campaign. Many of the
3,000-plus mandals in the city make a clear political statement,
often with heavy communal undertones. Two Ganpati mandals in the
Andheri-Marol region of Mumbai are replicas of the Gateway of India
explosion - (complete with a taxi and dummies to represent victims)
and the Zaveri Bazar blast (the replica has a mural depicting the
scene of brutality). Other mandals have chosen equally provocative
themes representing other blasts in the city as well as the
Akshardham temple massacre in Gujarat. Amidst all this, there is one
example of cross-border harmony. The Arthur Road mandal has chosen to
use Noor Fatima, the Pakistani girl who underwent heart surgery in
Bangalore, as an example of hope for the festive season.
Despite its initial reluctance, the Sena has chosen to join the BJP
in its maha artis. According to the newly elected State BJP president
Gopinath Munde, maha artis will be held all over the State to "focus
attention on the Sushilkumar Shinde-Chhagan Bhujbal government that
has failed in its primary task of providing security to the people".
On the second day of the Ganpati festival, September 1, the SS-BJP
used a maha arti in the northern suburb of Chembur to rekindle their
alliance as well as to launch a campaign against the D.F. government.
The function, which came exactly a week after the twin blasts, was
led by Munde and senior Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai. A frenzied
crowd of at least 3,000, mostly Sainiks and BJP supporters, greeted
the two leaders who arrived together. The maha arti soon turned into
a political rally with party flags outnumbering diyas, and BJP Member
of Parliament Kirit Somaiya egging on the crowd with anti-terrorist
slogan-shouting. Other leaders who attended the supposedly religious
ceremony were city BJP president Vijay Girkar and a sprinkling of
local Sena and BJP MLAs.
The political aspect of the maha arti became even more evident when
Munde and Desai moved to an improvised dais that overshadowed the
Ganpati idol, and appealed to the crowd not to rely on "the
incompetent government, the incompetent Chief Minister (Sushilkumar
Shinde) and his incompetent deputy (Chhagan Bhujbal)."
The official purpose of the maha artis, according to the organisers,
is to rally people against terrorism. "It is a maha arti that
everyone is invited to - Muslims, Christians, Dalits. It is for the
people of Mumbai," said Munde. Both the Sena and the BJP have
repeatedly said that the maha artis are not meant to intimidate the
Muslim community, as had been the case after the serial bomb blasts
of 1993 when this form of worship was invented by the saffron parties
and used both as a political tool and as a tool of intimidation and
Hindutvawadi aggression. The reason given in 1993 for the maha artis
was that they were meant to draw the attention of the authorities to
the traffic problems caused by Muslims attending namaz in mosques
spilling out onto the roads. Ironically, the present-day maha artis
disrupt traffic but they are portrayed as integral to a traditional
form of worship.
The S.S.-BJP's immediate goal is the fall of the D.F. government.
Indeed, both the parties need the support of the Muslim community and
cannot afford to alienate it prior to the polls. Even if they fail to
win over Muslim voters, they at least hope to turn them against the
D.F. alliance, especially the Congress(I).
However, speeches made at the Chembur maha arti, an unusual feature,
indicate something else. "Why do we have the blasts in Mumbai when
the riots happened in Gujarat?" asked Desai rhetorically of the
crowd. "It's because we have a weak government and Gujarat does not.
The Narendra Modi government knows how to deal with terrorists while
the Bhujbal government doesn't." The subtle threat in that statement
shows that the Sena is for the moment a wolf in sheep's clothing.
In pursuance of its pre-poll strategy, the Shiv Sena had initially
planned to use the Ganpati festival as a launch pad for its "Mee
Mumbaikar" campaign. The campaign plans included themes such as
education, health, sanitation and greening of the city, all with a
view to inculcate a sense of pride and belonging in Mumbaikars. A
brainchild of Uddhav Thackeray, the Sena's new working chief, it was
ostensibly meant to revive the social consciousness that `Lokmanya'
Tilak had injected into the Ganpati festival when he made it a public
celebration. In the aftermath of the August 25 blasts, the themes
remain the same but the emphasis has drastically changed from one
promoting the idea of being a proud citizen of Mumbai to an
aggressive assertion of Hinduism.
THE blasts have exposed the `wheels within wheels' situation of
politics. Old political friendships and enmities have come to the
fore. Bhujbal, who is also the State Home Minister, continues to be
the Sena's most hated man for his defection from the party years ago.
So, even though Shinde is the Chief Minister, it is Bhujbal who comes
under fire for the intelligence failure in anticipating the blasts.
(Besides, Shinde and Thackeray are known to have a longstanding
Never one to miss an opportunity to hit out at his former partyman,
Thackeray said, "No one wants to work under Bhujbal because he heads
the most corrupt department (police) in the State." Immediately after
the blasts, Shiv Sena leader and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane
called for President's Rule, while Munde expressed his lack of faith
in Bhujbal and the Mumbai Police and called for a Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) inquiry.
Intra-party tension has also surfaced, with Nationalist Congress
Party (NCP) members calling for the replacement of Bhujbal. NCP
President Sharad Pawar has been under considerable pressure from the
Maratha lobby, which has always resented the priority Pawar has given
to Bhujbal. It is unlikely that Pawar will oblige it and divest
Bhujbal of the Home Department. Despite being a strong supporter of
the NCP president, Bhujbal maintains excellent relations with the
State Congress. He also has a large number of supporters who would
follow him should he choose to defect to the Congress.
THERE is no doubt that the blasts have highlighted two failings of
the D.F. government. The first is its inability to prevent the
S.S.-BJP from carrying on an aggressive Hindutva campaign.
Industrialist Rahul Bajaj has referred to this `inability' of the
government as its inclination to appease the majority community.
Unable to prevent the S.S.-BJP combine's provocative actions, the
D.F. government has been left with no option but to ignore the maha
Secondly, the blasts have highlighted how political interference has
weakened the Mumbai Police. And Bhujbal has been blamed for this
weakening. "Posts are available for a price," said a police source.
"There are too many problems. Nothing moves without political
patronage. It has killed the professionalism in the force. Good
officers have been sidelined and many have opted to quit. Some are so
disillusioned that they are emigrating."
Highlighting the inadequacies of the Mumbai Police after the blasts,
the source said, "The most efficient police force cannot prevent
terrorist activity, but there certainly could have been a better
network of information. What would have happened if the taxi driver
had not survived the Gateway blast? What leads would the police have
Groups working to promote communal harmony have expressed
apprehension about both the D.F.'s seeming inability to stop the
saffron agenda as well as the politicisation of the police. But until
their fears are taken seriously, the Ganpati mandals and the
law-keepers remain at the disposal of political agendas.
The Hindu, September 17, 2003 | Editorial
THE CONVICTION OF Rabindra Kumar Pal - - better known by the assumed
name of Dara Singh - and 12 others for the gruesome murder of the
Australian missionary, Graham Stuart Staines and his two sons in
Orissa, is indeed a cause for satisfaction. The Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI), to which the case was entrusted, deserves much
credit. Staines and his two little boys, Phillip and Timothy,
perished after the jeep in which they spent the night of January 22,
1999, was set on fire. This grisly act, described by President K.R.
Narayanan as belonging to the "world's inventory of black deeds," was
a challenge posed to the administration as much as to civil society.
The sequence of events in the few months after the murder caused some
apprehension over the course of the investigation. A team of Central
Ministers visited Manoharpur soon after the killings and held that
there was an international conspiracy behind the killings. This was
after the local police had named Dara Singh as an accused in the
crime. He was well known in the region. His name figured in police
records; he was engaged in campaigns, sometimes violent, for cow
protection and the prevention of religious conversions. The remarks
by the Central Ministers were widely interpreted as an attempt to
scuttle the investigation. To make matters worse, Dara Singh was
arrested only in February 2000, more than a year after the crime.
That the CBI, to which the case was handed over at a later stage,
could present legally sustainable evidence against 13 of the 14
persons accused of the murder is a real feather in its cap.
The Staines murder had another implication. It appeared that the
murderous attack was very much part of a vicious sectarian campaign
against missionaries on the same lines witnessed in parts of Gujarat
and Madhya Pradesh with a large tribal population. While the Enquiry
Commission headed by a Supreme Court Judge, Justice D.P. Wadhwa, did
not find evidence to establish any links between Dara Singh and the
Bajrang Dal, the police records in Keonjhar told a different story.
D.R. Karthikeyan, in his capacity as Director General of the National
Human Rights Commission, held that Dara Singh was a "sympathiser" of
the Bajrang Dal. Further, an investigation team appointed by the
Wadhwa Commission found that Dara Singh was "an activist/supporter of
the Bajrang Dal;'' it added, however, that there was no "documentary
evidence to prove that he [was] a member or office-bearer." For all
the evidence, the Commission absolved the Bajrang Dal of any role in
the killings. All this seemed to inject partisan politics into the
investigation and prosecution of the brutal crime.
The killing of Graham Staines and his two boys by religious fanatics
became an international issue, adversely affecting India's secular
and democratic image. Questions were raised about the establishment's
commitment to the rule of law. The Manoharpur killings were not an
isolated incident. There were subsequent incidents of targeted
violence in other villages in the region. All this produced a sense
of insecurity among missionaries and the people who went along with
them in the tribal tracts of Orissa. In the wake of the tragedy, the
resilience shown by Gladys Staines was heroic and wonderful. She took
up the work of her husband among poor tribal folk afflicted with
leprosy. She repeatedly said she had forgiven the murderers of her
husband and their two boys, demonstrating a nobility of spirit and
constructiveness that was her own principled answer to the politics
of hate. The CBI's labours, resulting in the trial court convictions,
have helped refurbish the image of India as a land of justice.
o o o
Protest against communal violence
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2003 12:04:30 AM ]
o o o
Riot panel bars advocate, witness from facing media
o o o
GUJARAT casts shadow over Asia Pacific Week in Berlin - Hindustan Times, India
Hindutva at Work:
BJP defends burning of Christian literature in Uttaranchal (Hindustan Times)
VHP forming "secret squads" to help temple campaigners (Deccan
Herald, September 16, 2003)
From Subodh Ghildiyal DH News Service LUCKNOW, Sept 15
Look who's just got the keys to justice in riots
On VHP panel, he defended all 35 accused of murder of Jafri, 38
others. He's new Public Prosecutor
Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on matters of peace
and democratisation in South Asia. SACW is an independent &
non-profit citizens wire service run since 1998 by South Asia
Citizens Web (www.mnet.fr/aiindex).
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