SACW | 19 Nov. 2003
aiindex at mnet.fr
Tue Nov 18 20:08:49 CST 2003
SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WIRE | 19 November, 2003
via South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net
 Pakistan: Business of Honour Crimes as
usual - They get away with all over S. Asia
-Till Death Do Us Part (Zulfiqar Shah)
- Shaista Almani faces possible death under jirga
law for marrying of her own free will (Zulfiqar
- Pano Aqil couple case delayed again (S M Wajih)
-Police misleading court, says lawyer (SM Wajih)
 Pakistan, India urged to work for better ties
+ Pakistan-India People's Forum calls for talks
 Bangladesh's exiled feminist Nasreen blasts ban on latest novel
+ What Dhaka does yesterday, Kolkata does today:
bansTaslima (Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay)
 India: Togadia fumes as Godhra victim kin stay away (Basant Rawat)
 India: Gujarat censor board bans Maulana Azad play (Nina Martyris)
 India: 8th Champa Foundation Lectures (new Delhi, 12 Dec,2003)
Newsline (Karachi), November 2003
Till Death Do Us Part
By Zulfiqar Shah
On October 8, 2003, Shazia Khaskheli and
Mohammad Hassan Solangi, a young, recently
married couple, were brutally murdered in
Sanghar, Sindh. The murders followed hours of
unimaginably inhuman torture inflicted on the
victims, in full cognisance of thousands of
townspeople - hundreds of whom were present at
the scene - and the authorities. Shazia and Hasan
were mowed down not for any crime, but simply
because they had followed their hearts and
married of their own choice. And their murder was
not a crime of passion, but a premeditated
Amazingly, in overwhelmingly feudal
Sindh, the incident was not considered shocking,
not even out of the ordinary. It was murder
conducted in the name of karo kari -
honour-killing. And according to the findings of
the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP),
just in the past nine months, more than 290
people have been murdered in Sindh in the name of
karo kari. Of the victims, 176 were women.
The daughter of a bank officer and
member of the Khaskheli tribe, Shazia, an
intermediate student, left her Shah Latif Colony
home on September 27 and eloped with Mohammad
Hassan Solangi, the driver at a neighbour's
house. Says a resident of the locality, "After
that, the elders and youths of the Khaskheli
tribe held daily meetings to devise a mode of
punishment for Shazia who had dared to dishonour
the tribe by marrying a lowly driver from another
tribe." The Solangis, who are also called 'Machi'
- fish traders - are perceived as a lower caste
by the Khaskhelis. The latter are mostly
disciples of the spiritual leader Pir Pagara, and
many of them claim to be descended from the Hurs
- the militant wing of his followers - who fought
against the British.
When a notice appeared in a Karachi
newspaper announcing Shazia's marriage to Hassan
Solangi, the tribesmen really got down to
business. Although Shazia's parents reportedly
pleaded that their daughter's life be spared, the
tribesmen were determined that Shazia pay the
price for her actions. A death squad was
constituted by them and despatched to Karachi to
hunt Shazia down.
The tribesmen also started to exert
pressure on Abdullah Sariwal, Hassan Solangi's
employer, to locate and bring the couple back to
Sanghar. Though Sariwal declined to talk to the
press, his friends reveal that he was threatened
with dire consequences by the tribesmen if he
failed to meet their demands.
Meanwhile, Shazia's father, Mir
Hassan Khaskheli, an assistant vice president
(AVP) at Muslim Commercial Bank's regional office
in Mirpurkhas, lodged an FIR at the Sanghar
police station in which he declared that Mohammad
Hassan Solangi had kidnapped his 19-year-old
daughter. In the FIR he claimed Shazia was
married to another man at the time of her
It is not clear why Shazia and Hassan
returned to Sanghar. Some reports suggest that
the conflicting stories about their marriage made
the couple decide to voluntarily return to
Sanghar to set the record straight. Others
maintain they were told if they returned with
valid marriage documents and issued statements to
the effect, they would be forgiven.
According to sources, on October 7,
Mohammad Hassan Solangi met the district police
officer (DPO) investigations, Ali Sher Jakhrani,
who advised him to come to his office the
following day along with Shazia, so that they
could record their statements and thereby have
the case against them disposed off.
It was while they were en route to
meet the DPO the next day, that a group of armed
people intercepted their car barely 500 metres
away from his office. The men dragged the couple
out of the vehicle and then, in full view of
several onlookers and in broad daylight,
proceeded to beat them. Following this Shazia and
Hassan were pushed into another vehicle and
According to eyewitnesses, the car
stopped at Shazia's house in Shah Latif Colony
for a few minutes, but then proceeded onwards.
News of the couples' abduction spread like
wildfire in the city. Later, some people claimed
they had informed the police on the helpline
about what was transpiring. While this cannot be
verified, there is little doubt that the police
were aware of what was happening and, by all
accounts, they did nothing to prevent the murder.
According to sources, the couple were
brought to a house in Nizamani Mohalla around
1:00 pm, and for three hours were subjected to
A witness recounts: "The tribesmen
cut Hassan with knives and poured salt and chilli
powder into the wounds. Then they broke his arms
and legs." Reports indicate he was also sodomised
by over a dozen men, and then petrol was poured
over his genitals. Shazia meanwhile, was given a
choice. She was told if she stated she had been
kidnapped by Hassan, she would be allowed to go.
However, she refused and was also tortured, as a
result of which she was blinded in one eye. While
the couple were being brutalised, a huge crowd
had collected outside the house. Says one of
those present at the scene, "It was like a big
mela outside the house. Everyone knew what was
happening, but no one dared to intervene."
Eventually, a woman from the tribe, who
presumably could no longer endure the shrieks
emanating from the house, attempted to intervene
and begged the tribesmen to spare the young
woman. Instead, the men grabbed her and shaved
her hair for "collaborating" with Shazia.
At about 4:00 pm, Shazia and Hassan,
both barely alive, were taken to a nallah (drain)
about three kilometres outside the city precincts
and shot in the head. The police arrived at the
scene only in time to collect the corpses.
To add insult to injury, nobody, even
from her family, was willing to claim Shazia's
body. Usually, a kari is not considered worth
burying. However, eventually, even though the
couple's murderers threatened that she should not
be given a Muslim burial, Shazia's mother
managed, after prostrating herself before one of
the area's influentials, to have a few of her
relatives collect the corpse from the police
station and bury her daughter in the dark of the
According to sources, after Shazia's
murder, a group of her friends went to her house
to offer their condolences. However, her family
members refused to entertain them, saying there
was to be no mourning for Shazia because she was
Hassan's parents, meanwhile, only
learnt of their son's death through newspaper
reports two days later. Subsequently they told
the judge, who is conducting an enquiry into the
incident on the orders of the Supreme Court, that
the police refused to hand over their son's body
when they went to retrieve it and also refused to
register a case against his murderers.
Although the postmortem reports on
the murders have not yet been made public, there
are apprehensions about how authentic the reports
of the findings will be. Since Sanghar is a
stronghold of Pir Pagara's jamaat, and
considering that not only are all the postings in
the area made on the jamaat's recommendations,
but that even most of the officers themselves
belong to the order - including the civil surgeon
who has conducted the autopsies - it is highly
unlikely that any members of the jamaat will be
implicated in the murders.
While, in a welcome development, the
Supreme Court on the basis of reports in Sindhi
newspapers, took suo moto notice of the brutal
incident and asked the area's session judge to
conduct an enquiry, there is a general belief the
present administration will stymie such an
investigation at every turn.
Interestingly, shortly after the
murders, the police arrested Shazia's father for
involvement, but he was freed when 70-year-old
Chutto Khaskheli, one of Shazia's maternal
uncles, voluntarily surrendered to the police
claiming he had killed the couple. He maintained
that Shazia had been officially betrothed to his
son, and since a nikah had taken place, her
marriage to Hassan Solangi was polygamous and
illegal, in addition to being dishonourable. As
such he said, he had killed the couple in a wild
Significantly, it was only once the
newspapers got wind of the incident and the
Supreme Court took notice, that Shazia's
relatives, including her father, began to
maintain that she was married to her maternal
cousin when she was seduced by Solangi, a man
twice her age who was already married and a
father of two daughters.
However, in Sanghar it is commonly
known that Shazia was not betrothed to anyone
else at the time of her marriage to Solangi.
Subsequent to Chutto Khaskheli's
confession, Shazia's father told reporters in
Sanghar, "Though [Shazia] had taken the wrong
step, I had forgiven her. But people from my
tribe killed her because they could not." He
requested the press to desist from continuing
reportage on the case since it hurt him and his
Those close to Shazia's family
corroborate her father's contention. They
disclose that the girl's immediately family
members - i.e. her father, mother and brothers -
did not agree with the decision taken by the
tribesmen to kill the couple, but they were
helpless in the face of the odds.
Interestingly, while local newspapers
carried reports on the story as soon as it broke,
and the initial newstories emanated from Sanghar,
subsequent reports had different datelines.
Reportedly local journalists following the story
were threatened by Khaskheli tribesmen and either
had to resort to pseudonyms or file stories from
elsewhere. A local journalist disclosed how the
tribesmen even objected to the use of words like
premee joro (couple in love).
While karo kari murders are tragically
commonplace in interior Sindh, this one came with
some variations. "It is a new trend when people
other than the immediate family declare a girl
kari and kill her without the consent of her
father," says a retired teacher of the elementary
college in Sanghar. He adds that since the
incident there has been a pall of gloom in
Sanghar and many people have stopped their girls
from going to college. "This incident will have a
negative impact on females who are already
marginalised," he contends.
Most of the residents of Sanghar
district are mureeds (followers) of Pir Pagara,
and female literacy is merely 17 per cent.
Despite being the district headquarters, Sanghar
remains one of Sindh's more underdeveloped areas.
In fact, according to locals, most disputes in
the area are solved by Pir Pagara's khalifas
(lieutenants) through "faislas" (decisions)
usually taken at jirgas, and it is only
afterwards, and only sometimes, that there is
recourse to the law of the land.
"This incident is one of the worst
violations of human rights," says Qasim Adil
Leghari, president of the Sindhi Adabi Sangat
Sanghar, a literary body. "Nobody has the right
to brutalise and kill people just because they
married of their own free will."
Says Amar Leghari, an assistant
professor at a local college and a writer, "This
incident happened because of police negligence.
Since the couple had intimated to the authorities
that they wanted to appear before them, it was
the duty of the police and the judiciary to
provide them protection. Instead, through their
silence they became accomplices to the crime."
Others question why the DPO
investigations, Ali Sher Jakhrani did not make
any security arrangements for the couple given
the situation. Many, in fact, maintain that
Jakhrani leaked the news to the Khaskheli
tribesmen that the couple would be appearing
before him the next day, thereby providing them
the opportunity to make their deadly plans.
Although the DPO generally enjoys a
good reputation in the area, it is surmised that
since he is himself the son of a Jakhrani sardar
from Jacobabad - a feudal and tribal - his
response to the situation was merely in keeping
with his heredity. Certainly, he has solved most
disputes and complaints that have come his way
through an open kutchery or through the auspices
of local influentials rather than following
police procedure, or referring to the courts.
Despite several attempts to contact
the DPO, he remains incommunicado. Another senior
officer of the Sindh police, however, was quite
willing to express his views. "I think Solangi
deserved what happened to him," he says. "The man
was already married and the father of two
daughters. He had no right to seduce that young
girl. I don't think it was love - he destroyed
Lawyers and human rights activists
vehemently disagree. Under no circumstances has
anyone the right to kill another. "Even if they
had done something wrong, like an illegal
marriage - even though there is no proof of this
- no one had the right to kill them. There are
laws to deal with such situations," says Noor Naz
Agha, a high court advocate and human rights
According to her, murder in the name
of honour is one of the worst kinds of crimes -
and women are usually the greater victims due to
certain laws that seem to provide the license to
kill them. "Under the qisas and diyat law, the
legal heirs of murder victims have the right to
forgive the murderer. In this manner often those
culpable of honour killings have gotten away.
"When more than 99 per cent of the
culprits go free even after they have confessed,
how do you expect any decline in these kinds of
crimes?" she asks.
To date three men have been arrested
by the police for Shazia and Mohammad Hassan
Solangi's murders. They include 70-year-old
Chuthoo Khaskheli and two other tribesmen.
However, it is commonly understood that these are
the "fall" guys - chosen by the tribal chiefs to
take the rap for those who "saved the honour of
the tribe by executing the murders."
Interestingly, instead of Hassan
Solangi's parents, the local SHO has become the
complainant in his case. There are reports that
his family members, who are extremely poor, are
being pressurised and threatened not to come
forward, so that the case is rendered weak.
Advocate Agha believes the fate of
this case will be no different from that of
earlier such cases. "It's easy; the father of the
girl will forgive the murderers, and since those
responsible are influential, they will also
manage to convince Solangi's relatives to drop
the charges so they will be free in no time," she
o o o
Newsline (Karachi), November 2003
In the Name of Love
Shaista Almani faces possible death under jirga
law for marrying of her own free will.
By Zulfiqar Shah
Shaista Almani and Balakh Sher Mahar, a young
couple from Ghotki in Sindh, who dared to marry
against their families' wishes and reportedly
fled the country fearing for their lives, have
now been forcibly brought back to Ghotki to face
a tribal jirga.
The couple was apparently brought back
to Ghotki on October 25 after Ali Gohar Khan
Mahar, brother of Chief Minister Ali Mohammad
Mahar and sardar of the Mahar tribe, promised the
sardar of the Almani tribe that Shaista would be
brought back to her family at any cost.
According to reports, Shaista has
been handed over to a local sardar, while Balakh
Sher Mahar has returned to his village in Ghotki.
Following tribal traditions and the jirga justice
system, Shaista will remain in the haveli of an
impartial sardar, till a grand jirga decides a
fitting punishment for marrying without the
consent of her family and tribe. In this
particular region of upper Sindh, most matters
are decided by sardars and tribal lords, rather
than the law of the land. The sardars operate
with complete impunity and their authority is
unquestionable; often even court decisions are
Shaista and Balakh Sher got married
and a court in Karachi ratified their marriage
documents, but the Almani sardar was not willing
to accept this marriage. "Religion and the courts
have their own place, but we have to hand the
girl over to her family," says one sardar from
Ghotki. Even Chief Minister Ali Mohammad Mahar
declared Shaista's and Balakh's marriage against
tribal traditions and values. When questioned by
a journalist in Sukkur, Mahar said, "The couple
did wrong, but the sardars are trying to resolve
the matter amicably."
When they appeared in court in the
last week of September, Shaista and Balakh Sher
openly declared that their lives were under
threat. "I have committed no crime. I just got
married according to Islamic injunctions, but my
life is in danger," said Shaista to reporters.
"God will help us, we have done nothing wrong."
The couple reportedly left for the UAE in the
first week of October after several human rights
organisations held demonstrations demanding that
the government provide protection to the couple.
Though the furore settled down
somewhat after newsreports that the couple had
left the country, Shaista's family continued to
pressure the Mahar tribe. According to sources,
Sardar Ali Gohar Mahar, nazim of district Ghotki,
had promised the Almani sardar that Shaista would
be brought back in one month. True to his word,
Mahar tracked down and brought Shaista back in
the stipulated time.
Sources say, Mahar had decided to
return Shaista to her tribe from day one, but
since the marriage took place in Karachi, where
many human rights and women organisations had
taken up the cause and since his brother is chief
minister, allegedly he himself sent the couple to
either Dubai or Islamabad till matters cooled
down. Now Sardar Ali Gohar Mahar has fulfilled
his promise. The case is a prime example of the
ruthless and brutal feudal tradition.
The grand jirga is due to convene in
couple of days to decide Shaista's fate.
According to reports, Balakh's family has offered
two women from the Mahar tribe and 500,000 rupees
to the Almani tribe as compensation for allowing
Shaista and Balakh to stay married. However, it
seems unlikely that this offer will be
entertained. According to sources, if the state
does not intervene, Shaista will be handed back
to the Almani tribe where initially, her safety
might be guaranteed. But going by past incidents,
Shaista's life will be in jeopardy. Meanwhile, as
far as Balakh is concerned, he can be pardoned
against compensation paid to the Almanis.
In a few days, Shaista will face the
jirga and perhaps yet another innocent life will
be snuffed out.
o o o
The Daily Times, November 4, 2003
Pano Aqil couple case delayed again
By S M Wajih
SUKKUR: A division bench of the Sindh High Court
of the Sukkur Circuit adjourned on Monday hearing
the Pano Aqil couple case until Nov 18.
The bench consisted of Justice Roshan Essani and Justice Maqbool Baqar.
All the parties in the case, including the
District Police Officer (DPO) Ghotki, DIG
(investigations), TPO Pano Aqil, DPO Sukkur, the
father of Ms Shaista, Khuda Bakhsh, and Lal
Muhammad, uncle of Balkhsher Maher, were present
during the hearing.
The court directed the parties to present Shaista
Almani and her husband, Balkhsher Maher, on the
next date of hearing. They were also directed to
ensure security to the couple.
The high court is hearing the case suo motu on a
representation made by the Human Rights
Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairperson, Hena
Jeelani, in which she had feared for the lives of
the couple. Earlier, Imdad Awan, lawyer of the
HRCP, requested the court allow a new petition in
the case so that points not previously raised
could be argued. The court allowed Mr Awan to
file a fresh petition.
The court directed the DPO Sukkur to investigate
the case registered against Balkhsher Maher and
Shaista Almani under sections 365 and 148 of the
Pakistan Penal Code and under the Hudood
Ordinance at Pano Aqil police station and submit
the report to the court as soon as possible.
o o o
The Daily Times, 19 November 2003
Police misleading court, says lawyer
* SHC calls for Sukkur couple's whereabouts
By SM Wajih
SUKKUR: The Sukkur bench of the Sindh high court
on Tuesday issued 17 notices, including ones to
the district nazim of Ghotki, Rahim Bux Bozdar,
in connection with the fresh application filed by
the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan for the
whereabouts of Shaista Almani and her husband
The notices were issued to the Federation of
Pakistan, the Sindh home secretary, the inspector
general of Sindh police, the AIGP of Sukkur
range, the DPOs of Sukkur and Ghotki, along with
Sardar Ali Gohar Khan Mahar Zila Nazim Ghotki,
Rahim Bux Bozdar, Himmath Ali, father of Shaista
Almani, and his relatives, and the relatives of
her husband Balkhsher Mahar and others, and asked
them to appear in court on December 3.
Earlier, the court had expressed dissatisfaction
over the police department, which failed to
produce the couple in the court, although several
chances were given to them.
The court asked the Sukkur and Ghotki DPOs,
Ghulam Shabbir Shaikh and Aftab Halepoto to
utilize all sources including the CID and other
private informers, at their disposal to locate
the two detainees.
The court noted there were apprehensions that
Shaista Almani had been murdered. The court said
the allegation was alarming and required the
serious attention of the police officers
Police officials present in court presented a
daily progress report of their efforts to date,
including searches of various places for the
couple. Earlier, the HRCP's lawyer, Imdad Awan
told the court that the police officials' who
were attending every hearing of the court, were
not making sincere efforts to trace the husband
and wife and were misguiding the court.
Mr Awan then submitted a fresh application to the
court. It stated that Shaista Almani, d/o Himmath
Ali Almani, resident of Goth Khuda Bux Almani,
near Khanpur Mahar in Ghotki district, and Mr
Balkhsher Maher, s/o the late Shah Mohammad Gohar
Maher, resident of Raza Goth, Pano Akil, district
Sukkur, had got married on June 1, 2003, in
accordance with the law, against the wishes of
their families. They were facing a grave threat
to their lives from the sardars of their
respective tribes and family members. Those
opposed to the marriage were publicly branding
the husband and wife karo and kari, and therefore
deserving to be killed for the redemption of
honour, he said.
He requested the court to grant the following
relief in the interest of justice, equity and
1. Order the respondent and the civil and
military intelligence agencies, including the
CIA, the Sindh special branch and ISI, to
discover the whereabouts of the detainees and
inform the court.
2. To declare the detention of the couple illegal.
3. To declare the any jirga by or between the
tribes of the two detainees, or by any other
person or group, including the respondents, to
determining the state of the lawful marriage of
the two detainees is illegal and without
jurisdiction or lawful authority.
4. To direct the police officers and local
administration and other respondents to protect
the lives and rights of the two detainees.
5. To grant such other relief as the court may
deem fit in the interest of justice.
17 November 2003
Pakistan, India urged to work for better ties
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, Nov 16: Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum
for Peace and Democracy has proposed a
step-by-step process to resolve Kashmir issue and
stressed on a pivotal role for Kashmiri people in
The Forum, which pioneered people-to-people
contact, is pursuing an agenda which includes
settlement of Kashmir, end to intolerance, and
demilitarization in the region. "We are convinced
that change is going to be brought about through
an initiative by the peoples of the two
countries," said Dr Mubashir Hassan, an eminent
politician and founder member of the Forum. He
announced that the next convention of the Forum
would be held in Karachi from Dec 12 to 14 with
main focus on Defy the Divide, Unite for Peace.
The Forum has appealed to all enlightened people,
civil society and peace-loving people to come
forward and extend their cooperation to make the
convention a memorable event. The appeal was made
by the Forum's Secretary Ms Anees Haroon while
speaking at a press conference along with the
representatives of the joint committee from India
and Pakistan Mr Tapan K. Bose, Mr Gautam
Navlakha, Mr I. A. Rehman and Dr Mubashir Hassan
at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.
Dr Mubashir Hassan said that the initiative for
people-to-people contact, which enters its 11th
year in 2004, has become a strong movement in
both the countries which had forced the
governments of both the countries to initiate a
dialogue for peace.
Mr I. A. Rehman, an eminent writer, journalist
and human rights activists, highlighted the need
and importance of the people-to-people initiative
and criticized the two governments for pursuing
the policies that had divided the families of
their citizens through restrictions on their
meetings. "We believe the entire civil society
regards a reunion of the families across the
border not as a matter of policy but their
In reply to a question, he said that the Indian
offer to reopen Khokhrapar-Monabao route was
welcomed as the move would have helped in
reducing travel-related hardships faced by the
peoples of both the countries in visiting each
other. He pointed out that peoples of both the
countries were equally faced with problems in
The upcoming Karachi convention, he said, would
highlight such issues and stress on an easy and
expedited process that could facilitate the
divided families in visiting each other easily
and without any trouble.
Mr Tapan K. Bose, Secretary of the India chapter
of the Forum and its founder member, regretted
that the Kashmir issue had been made a matter of
patriotism by the governments of the two
countries. "While we seek democratic rights for
ourselves, we do not consider these rights for
Kashmiris although the UN Resolution calls for a
plebiscite in Kashmir to decide the matter."
He said it was weakness of a government that
prompted it to impose unnecessary restrictions on
its people and deprive them of their rights to
meet freely and mix up with people across the
border, exchange newspapers and indulge in
Mr Bose remarked: "This has to be taken into
consideration that whether a country belongs to
its army, bureaucracy, prime minister or people."
We have to realize the fact that a border was
created 56 years back and that we are neighbours.
However, he strongly opposed hostilities between
the Pakistan and India saying that outcome of
fighting could not make any of them stronger or
weaker. He was of the view that any third party
could take advantage of the hostilities between
the two countries.
He noted with regret that due to the hostile
policies pursued by the two governments against
each other, envoys of both the countries did not
get due respect at various forums in the world.
Regarding Kashmir issue, he said it could be
resolved only through a step-by-step process
where people across the divide should be
facilitated in visiting each other freely and
Kashmiris be given a pivotal role. In this
regard, he proposed opening of Pindi and Sialkot
routes for free travel and trade between the two
parts of Kashmir.
Mr Bose stressed that India must realize that
shelling by its forces had destroyed the road in
Neelum Valley and made lives of local residents
miserable. Likewise, he said Pakistan must review
its military actions in Siachin and Kargil sector.
Once both the sides forgot about any possible
harm to their rule or popularity, and concentrate
on reducing tension, they would no more need to
spend heavily on defence.
o o o
The Daily Times/ November 17, 2003
Pakistan-India People's Forum calls for talks
KARACHI: Activists from the Pakistan-India
Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD)
representing the two countries said here on
Sunday that war could not help settle disputes
and dialogue between the two governments, but
that the goal could be achieved by the peoples of
the two countries.
"Our people (of the two countries) are sure that
war cannot settle disputes and that we can settle
our conflicts through negotiations and
people-to-people contact," Dr Mubashar
representing Pakistan Hasan at the PIPFPD said at
a press conference at the Karachi Press Club.
He said he was glad to note that the peoples of
India and Pakistan had realised the importance of
peace and had begun contacting each other. He
said students from the two countries would soon
be visiting each others countries and more such
overtures were in the pipeline, which would bring
the two countries to the path of peace.
Referring to the confidence-building measures
suggested by Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali,
which inspired his Indian counterpart to propose
more friendly gestures, Dr Mubashar said, "Well
be playing now to accelerate the work for peace".
IA Rehman, another PIPFPD delegate, emphasised
that peoples from the two countries were paying
their own money, and so now it was the delegates
responsibility achieve positive results. Mr
Rehman briefly described the history of the PIP
forum. The first Pakistan meeting was in Lahore,
and the second in Peshawar. "Now, the sixth joint
convention of the forum is going to be held in
Karachi on Dec 12 to 14. At least 250 delegates
each from India and Pakistan will be
participating in it, which is going to take place
after a break of three years," he said.
The policies of the two governments had divided
families, Mr Rehman said. "It is expensive for
people of Sindh to travel to Islamabad for visas.
We would like to make strong and concerted moves
to make it easier for people to see their
relatives across the border. We want to benefit
PIPFPDs representative from India Tapan K. Bose
explained the forum was founded in 1993 but this
was the first time representative of the two
countries had come into direct contact. He said
people of Pakistan and India could talk on
political issues, something which until now the
two governments had made their exclusive
playground. "The Kashmir issue does not only
relate to politicians and the governments of
India and Pakistan. Mainly, it is an issue of the
people, who are the victims. Vested interests in
the two countries have made this important issue
a barometer of patriotism," he said.
He said if the people of the two countries wanted
democracy in their countries, so too was it the
right of the people of Kashmir. "Let the people
of Kashmir decide for themselves and let their
decision be respected," he said.
He said the Kashmir conflict was not a military
or territorial issue. "The Kashmiris are a direct
party to the dispute and they should be given the
option to decide their destiny for themselves,"
Mr Bose said.
The Indian delegate said the two neighbours
should reduce their defence spending and reduce
their forces by 25 percent as the first step to
full confidence in each other. He said the
peoples of the two countries had a right to visit
each other. Mr Bose said, "Such restrictions
clearly show the ruling elite is panicked and
unpopular, otherwise they would have no reason to
restrict people-to-people contact."
Bangladesh's exiled feminist Nasreen blasts ban on latest novel
Fri Nov 14,12:08 PM ET Add Entertainment - AFP to My Yahoo!
DHAKA (AFP) - Exiled Bangladeshi feminist author Taslima Nasreen
blasted a court order to halt circulation of her latest novel here,
saying controversial passages about fellow writers were based on
Nasreen, who fled in 1994 after threats from Muslim fundamentalists,
told Bangladeshi expatriates in the United States that she "described
only the facts," the US-based Bengali news service ENA reported
"This is my personal liberty. I am not afraid of court cases,"
Nasreen told the gathering at Tufts University near Boston.
A Dhaka court Wednesday halted production, distribution and sale of
Nasreen's novel "Ka," giving the publisher 15 days to explain why the
book should be allowed in Bangladesh.
The injunction came after prominent writer Syed Shamsul Haque sued
Nasreen for one billion taka (1.72 million dollars) saying his image
was tarnished by "Ka," which stands for the first letter in the
In his petition, Haque said Nasreen wrote that he took two women to a
provincial guesthouse and was seen throwing up the next day after
Nasreen said the descriptions in "Ka" were based on her own
relationships with unspecified authors and journalists in Bangladesh
and neighbouring India.
"They should have refuted my narration of facts by their own version
instead of going to court," she was quoted saying.
"Readers could have easily judged which one is true ... This is not a
civilized reaction," she said of Haque's legal challenge.
Nasreen, 41, fled Bangladesh after Muslim fundamentalists called for
her death over the book "Lajja," or "Shame." The novel, also banned
in Bangladesh, described abuses against the country's Hindu minority.
Nasreen, who is also a doctor, has since lived in self-exile in
Europe and the United States and has caused further anger by
o o o
The Indian Express, 15 November 2003
What Dhaka does yesterday, Kolkata does today: bansTaslima
Latest book anti-Islam, say cops; it has details
of liasions, writer Sunil Gangopadhyay says: I
didnít have sex with her'
KOLKATA, NOVEMBER 14: Taslima Nasreen, whose 1993
book Lajja provoked death threats and led to her
exile to Europe, is at the centre of a storm yet
again. This time in West Bengal, where the
authorities today seized copies of her latest
novel Dwikhandita on the grounds that it could
trigger communal violence. The publishers have
also been restrained from bringing out further
The book, the third in Nasreen's autobiographical
series, is replete with details of her sexual
relationships with leading Bangladeshi literary
figures, including Samsur Rahman and Samsul
Haque. Published as Ka in Bangladesh, it was
banned by a Dhaka court yesterday.
In Kolkata, the book hit the stands on November
4, and has reportedly sold 2,000 copies so far.
It was following a trajectory similar to her
earlier works Lajja, Amar Meyebela (My Girlhood)
and Utal Hawa (Turbulent Times), all of which
were published to violent reactions -eventually
tapering off into outrage or acclaim - and
notched up good sales.
With Dwikhandita (Split into Two), however, the
police said they would recommend censoring of
certain portions as it ''may trigger communal
remarks since it contains derogatory remarks
Police Commissioner Sujoy Chakravarthy, however,
said he knew nothing of the issue. ''I have no
idea what has happened. Please check with the DCP
of the Special Branch who should know. I myself
will check this thing,'' he told The Indian
Some quarters, though, say the communal angle is
not the issue at all. According to Shivani
Mukherjee of People's Book House, which earlier
published Amar Meyebela and Utal Hawa - the first
two parts of Nasreen's autobiography - the next
instalment is to deal with her relationship with
Kolkata writers. Nasreen's bonding with
city-based authors has been especially close
since her exile from Bangladesh.
''I am not afraid because I never had any sexual
relationship with her,'' was litterateur Sunil
Gangopadhyay's immediate reaction when approached
on the subject. But he sided with the
authorities' steps. ''The portions censured in
Bangladesh are present in the book published
here. It has insulted Islam and the Prophet and
it may create communal tension,'' he said.
Other writers disagree. ''It's too absurd to be
believed. How can the police do this in this
state?'' said noted poet and novelist Nabaneeta
Dev Sen. Mukherjee of People's Book House,
meanwhile, is unabashedly worried. ''The book was
doing good business, but because of the police
order, we are turning away all customers,'' she
said. ''They told us not to print the book and
took away the copies we had.''
Other publishers are disappointed too. ''There
was a great demand for the book but as the police
are not allowing printing, we cannot do
anything,'' said Subhash Dey, co-owner of Dey's
Publishing who lost two copies in the raid.
[ Vile attack on Teesta Seetalvad, India's
leading secular activist by Hindutva's Hate squad
o o o
The Telegraph 17 November 2003
Togadia fumes as Godhra victim kin stay away
by BASANT RAWAT
Ahmedabad, Nov. 16: What was supposed to be a
prayer meeting, organised by the VHP for Godhra
victims, ended with Praveen Togadia lashing out
at the minority community. The meeting, at the
outfit's headquarters this evening, came two days
after the Railway Claims Tribunal ordered
compensation to families of 34 Godhra victims.
But conspicuous by their absence were the
families of Girish Rawal and four others from
Janata Nagar Ramol who had recently lashed out at
the VHP's "hate politics". They have filed a case
against the outfit. Eighty-two-year-old Rawal
lost his wife in the train carnage of February
27, 2002, and his son, who was the president of a
VHP unit in Janata Nagar, in the riots that
followed. Rawal has filed a petition in the
Supreme Court asking for all riot cases to be
transferred outside Gujarat. The families kept
away from the meeting to show their resentment
towards the manner in which the VHP treated them.
"They dumped us. We were left to fend for
ourselves," an angry Bharat Panchal, who like
Rawal chose to keep away from the prayer meeting,
said. VHP general secretary Togadia, obviously
irked by their absence, had an explanation ready.
"Dr Girish Rawal has fallen prey to a Muslim
conspiracy," he said. As for the "conspiracy",
Togadia blamed Mumbai-based human rights
activist, Teesta Setalvad. He said Setalvad, "who
has married a Muslim man", was behind the
"conspiracy" to malign the VHP. The best way to
do this was to brainwash the family members of
the Godhra victims and that is what she has done
in Rawals case, he alleged. Togadia also put an
international angle to this "conspiracy", saying
that the effort to malign the VHP was being
financed by the Arab world. Money was being
pumped in from there to give legal assistance to
set the Godhra accused and conspirators free and
get innocent VHP workers punished, he said. Till
midnight, a group of VHP workers tried to
persuade Rawal and the family members of other
Godhra victims to attend the prayer meeting.
"They tried every trick but I told them nothing
doing. I have made up my mind. Now I know you
guys," Panchal claimed to have told the VHP
workers who came to his house after 18 months.
"They reminded us that it was because of the
efforts of the VHP that we will be getting
compensation from the railways," Panchal said.
"Are you so ungrateful?" he was asked. When VHP
workers requested Rawal to attend the prayer
meeting, he asked them why they had not bothered
to visit his house when they seemed so concerned
about his son's death. Togadia has now instructed
VHP workers to oppose any plea to transfer riot
cases outside Gujarat and ensure that Teesta
Setalvad does not enter the state. The VHP leader
has also ordered his workers not to speak to
reporters, especially he said those of the
English-language press, as they were opposed to
the VHP and may be working for Setalvad.
The Times of India, November 15, 2003
Gujarat censor board bans Maulana Azad play
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2003 01:43:52 AM ]
MUMBAI: In a move that has upset theatre circles, the Gujarat
Censor Board has banned the performance of Sayeed Alam's historical play
Maulana Azad in the state.
The Urdu production, which explores the patriot's views on
politics, music, jasmine tea, Mecca and Gandhi, was scheduled to play on
November 9 at Ahmedabad's Darpana Academy run by Mallika Sarabhai.
A week before that, however, a letter from the censor's office
arrived stating that "in the present circumstances" a performance of the
play would not be possible. The team was unofficially told that if the play
was performed " hungama ho jayega".
Those involved say that the decision could be part of the
campaign to target danseuse Mallika Sarabhai who has been singled out by the
Narendra Modi government for speaking out against alleged state atrocities
during last year's Gujarat riots.
Produced by Ashok Curang's Pierrot's Troupe, the play, which
features Tom Alter in the lead role, has performed in Mumbai, Delhi, Dehra
Dun, Mussoorie and Hyderabad without the whiff of a " hungama". "The censor
board did not tell us specifically what they found objectionable about the
play- whether it was the theme, title or dialogue," says Mr Alam, who is
based in Delhi.
"The play has been reviewed by almost every major paper in the
country and there's no mention of anything controversial."
Mr Alam feels that what the censor board may have taken
objection to is one line in the play where Azad,who is dictating his book
'India Wins Freedom' to Humayun Kabir says, 'To a large extent Sardar Patel
was responsible for Partition.'
Message from : Mrinalini V. Sarabhai
Date: 18 Nov 2003
My dear friends,
It was on the 18th of October, exactly a month
ago that this horror that has trampled and tried
to destroy every right and freedom that I have as
a human being and a citizen of this country,
On the 3rd of November, we appealed to the court
to change one rule in the anticipatory bail, that
of curtailing my freedom to travel outside
Gujarat to perform, lecture or fulfil my
television assignments. Yesterday, two weeks
later the court rejected this. They knew from
the 3rd that I have commitments in Mumbai, Pune
and Delhi from the day after tomorrow,
commitments which I must keep. It is their
attempt to stop my voice being heard, and
Darpana's main income through performances
Today I have moved the sessions court to allow me
to travel. Simultaneously we are admitting a
squashing petition in the High Court this
Meanwhile, a new income tax enquiry mirroring the
words of the local newspaper has been started.
Another enquiry by the Charity Commissioner in to
the mother Trust, Karmakshetra Educational
Foundation started by my parents and under which
Darpana runs has also been started.
The grapevine tells us that Mr. Saxena and
'Others' are preparing several more cases of
Amidst all this working 18 hours a day,
providing information to the various enquries, we
try to keep sane, smiling, optimistic and
I thank for your continual support and love,
CHAMPA - The Amiya & B.G.Rao Foundation
Friday - The 12th December,2003
The 8th Champa Foundation Lectures will be held as
per programme below:-
Subject: JUDICIARY IN A DEMOCRACY
Date & time: Friday the 12th December, 2003 | 3.30 PM to 6.30 PM
Venue : Dy. Speaker's Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi
Eminent lawyers & human rights activists
will deliver lectures on the role of judiciary
and its impact on Indian democracy.
All are invited.
Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
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citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
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