SACW | 22 Nov. 2003
aiindex at mnet.fr
Fri Nov 21 21:00:33 CST 2003
SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WIRE | 22 November, 2003
via South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net
 Hindus and Muslims - III (Ardeshir Cowasjee)
 Anti Mullah play from Pakistan told to
delete a few parts in while performing in secular
 State Subversion: Gujarat's Victims Completely Isolated (Harsh Mander)
 Dutch scholar delves into roots of Gujarat's
communalism (Janyala Sreenivas)
 Manufacturing History (Ram Puniyani)
 Vested interests misinterpreting history: IIT Prof
 Hindus urged to curb 'Muslim threat' by having big families (Maseeh Rahman)
'Fear of the Outsider'
- Sangh blames violence on infiltrators
- After Assam, it's Mumbai: Biharis get the Sena punch
 Bajrang Dal burns effigy of Christ
 The BJP's `Plan B'? (Praful Bidwai)
DAWN, 16 Nov 2003
Hindus and Muslims - III
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
Last week, in response to my second column on
this subject, a further 53 e-mail messages came
in over the ether. Again, three messages warrant
reproduction. Firstly, from a Pakistani student
away over the oceans:
"With reference to your article 'Hindus and
Muslims' I can only say that I strongly believe -
and this despite being a Pakistani - that we have
the bigger share of the blame when it comes to
this senseless hatred we have between us for more
than 50 years. Who is to blame? The Pakistani
generals, ...... who still suffer from the belief
that India will give up Kashmir...... If they are
so obsessed about Kashmir [they should] send
their own children on jihad instead of sending
them to the most expensive American colleges. For
Musharraf : 'Why did you send your son to the US
and not to Kargil?'
"As a student at an American university, I
sometimes think how ridiculous this
India-Pakistan hatred is. I eat with Indians, go
out with them, and many of my friends are
Indians. All this hatred played up by leaders on
both sides is totally ignored here. Everyone
wants peace and cooperation between the two
countries. Frankly speaking, I agree with the
views expressed by one of the people in your
article - that Pakistan has allowed others to use
it for their own purposes, i.e. the Saudis and
Americans. For how long will we be proud of
churning out jihadis?
"Both countries have a lot to gain from peace. On
our side this can only happen if the army does
not make the decisions and minds its own
business. But is that asking for too much?"
Then, from another and a much older Pakistani
living (and presumably working and earning) in
greener pastures :
"I read both your columns advocating more
tolerance. There is much bigotry and violence in
India, far more (numerically if not otherwise)
than in Pakistan, but liberal education has begun
to make itself felt. Indian youth is certainly
getting to be more tolerant than we in Pakistan
can ever hope to be. I am abroad these days and
the youth of India has impressed me favourably.
"Liberalism has long been a dirty word in
Pakistan and the bearded brigades have seen to it
that the education curricula faithfully reflect
only their interpretation of faith, history and
culture. The religious parties and their
sidekicks have destroyed education in Pakistan. I
have witnessed this for 32 years. I for one see
no hope of any betterment."
Lastly, from an Indian-American :"I am a US
citizen, a Hindu born in Bombay, who came to
Chicago over 25 years ago and am writing to you
because you have touched upon a subject needing
attention in our subcontinent.
"My mother is the daughter of a civil engineer
who was involved in the construction of Karachi
port. He was a Brahmin. Her father, mother and
she were saved by a Muslim colleague during the
1947 riots, who had the guts to show courage and
to take an oath on the Quran testifying that he
had no Hindu sheltered with him. He not only
saved them in Karachi but also helped them cross
the border and accompanied them to India. When he
departed to return to Karachi, he wept and said
he hoped to meet them again. This never happened.
My parents and my teachers have always informed
me and my friends that we, members of the League
and of Congress, fought for freedom together and
that the whole subcontinent belongs to both
Hindus and Muslims who have coexisted despite the
vagaries of history.
"The subcontinent's fight against the British Raj
brought both Hindus and Muslims together in a
unique way. Sensible folks in coming generations
may have to unite and find ways to bring them
together again, so that the subcontinent can be a
true dominant economic and political player in
the world. I think that my teachers, my father
and his friends were probably right, and your
article brought all that they had told me back to
the forefront. History has ample examples of
courage from both of the communities when it
comes to forgiveness and care for each other, and
this can and will prevail, if history is taught
correctly and attempts are made to learn and
achieve peace through co-dependence and
coexistence. History must teach the citizens of
India and Pakistan that unity can make the
subcontinent's economic future better."
This last message took me back to January 1948 -
to the day of the tragic killing of Hindus of
Karachi and the looting of their homes and
properties. From early in the evening, many of
our Hindu friends, together with their friends,
and their meagre belongings, trickled into my
father's house seeking refuge. By dusk the number
had swelled to around 40. Our sole chowkidar, a
Pathan armed with a lathi, assured us that as
long as he was alive no harm would befall any
Hindu in Variawa Chambers. (He had a lengthy and
unpronounceable name - and used to tell us that
he wished to be addressed merely as 'Khan'.) By
nightfall the entire household was occupied in
finding them all places to doss down and to
procuring sufficient food to feed them.
During the late evening, the telephone rang and
an unknown man said he wished to talk to my
father. In an ominous tone, he informed my father
that he and others were at the moment very close
to our house, that they knew that we had given
shelter to many Hindus, and that if he did not
throw them all out on to the roads for him and
his mates to deal with, the house would be set
My father's immediate reaction was to phone the
nearest police stations and summon help, but
there was no help forthcoming as the entire
police force was occupied with the rioting. He
decided to arouse old Ghulam Mohammad, Jinnah's
finance minister, whom he had known in Bombay
when he (GM) was working for the Tatas and who
lived in a nearby street. He rang, was told that
the minister was asleep, and requested that he be
awoken as the matter was urgent. The minister was
awakened. Let me sleep, he pleaded. No, said my
father. And he told him why. Ghulam Mohammad,
shaken and fully awake, immediately said he would
send over to my father's house his personal
police guards. In a few minutes, three policemen
armed with Lee Enfields arrived - and that was
all it took in those far gone days for us all to
feel completely safe, relaxed and fall asleep
Early the next morning mayor of Karachi Jamshed
Nusserwanjee called at our house. The previous
evening six Sikhs had sought refuge at his home.
As he had no family, when he left his home that
morning, rather than leave them there alone, he
had sent them off in his car to the Clifton beach
to hide in the dunes until some other arrangement
could be made for them.
To cut a long story short, eventually, our Hindus
and Jamshed's Sikhs were all sent off to India on
a Bombay Steam vessel (BS vessels were then known
as 'Haji Kassim's ships').
Naturally, not all the e-mail messages were
sympathetic or contributive, a few being most
unfriendly, even abusive. There is much rancour
in both Hindus and Muslims of the older
generations. This cannot be eradicated. The youth
have no problem - from both sides of the divide
they want peace and they wish to live and thrive
together in harmony. All we can do from our side
is to ensure that our education system is
cleansed of all bigotry, hatred, and tales of
false enmities and atrocities, and that we cease
to brainwash the few children who have the chance
to be educated at our schools.
A couple of Hindus recommended that I remember
how the Muslims of Iran had treated the
Zoroastrians and how we had been forced to flee
the country for friendlier lands. What is the
point of this, after the passage of over 1,300
years? And how am I supposed to react?
The Zoroastrians have been around for 3,792 years
(at the last calculation) and we live in peace
and amity wherever we are and with whomsoever
surround us - even in Venezuela there are four
thriving Zoroastrians and their happy families.
(Two are 'in oil' - either they own oilfields or
operate petrol pumps.) We believe in 'peace on
earth and goodwill among men'. Any objections?
The Times of India (Chandigarh Edition), November 21, 2003
From across the border with crossover theatre
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
"The play is openly antimullah, yet we have done
it so many times in Pakistan without a hindrance.
Here, in this secular democratic country, we were
told to delete a few parts from the play at the
eleventh hour. They said it might hurt some
people," says an anxious Madeeha Gauhar, theatre
activist from Ajoka Theare , Pakistan , who is
alarmed by such developments in India .
"We would have cancelled the show, but then we
saw about thousand people waiting for it. We
didn't have the heart to not go ahead with it.
So, we removed the character from the play they
had objections with," adds Madeeha.
She says such developments "in India are more
disappointing as it has been a secular country
for 55 years. Pakistan never had pretensions of
being secular. It is ironical that this should
happen to Bullah and his sufi voice of love and
tolerance that gave sanity in times of bigotry
200 years back. Seeing growing intolerance in
both countries, the relevance of Bulle Shah
Bullah, a musical theatre production from Ajoka
with its 27-member cast is on an eight- city tour
of Punjab . It was performed in Patiala a day
Madeeha narrates her first brush with intolerance
in India , "To begin with some people had
objections with a few words crossover like
'zalim' used for a particular character. We toned
it down. Then they asked us to change the name of
the character Banda Singh Bahadur, we changed it
to Joginder Singh Jogi to avoid controversy."
Then, she says, they were asked to delete the
dialogue between Bulle Shah and Banda Bahadur.
The play is set in the time when Mughal
oppression was at its peak.
"The play offers a dialogue between two ways of
reacting to oppression. One, as preached by Baba
Bulle Shah, the sufi way, the other as professed
by Banda Singh Bahadur, by confronting violence.
In reality Bulle Shah and Banda Singh Bahadur
never met. The play uses the poetic license of
imagination to convey the message. Without
passing judgment, we present both approaches,"
says Madeeha who adds, "I think artists have the
license to use such liberty to articulate a
Hence, the reaction disappoints her. "I have been
to India many times, but my cast of young people
asks me, is this the secular India you talked
of," she says with concern.
Even in Pakistan Madeeha's voice has been
synonymous with a voice of struggle for secular,
democratic and humane rights for the past 20
Barely out of university she dared to do her
first theatre production, Badal Sarkar's Juloos
way back in 1983 under martial law. Since then
Ajoka has not looked back in its endeavour for
This despite the fact that Pakistan has no NSD to
talk of nor do its universities have departments
of theatre. To top it, there are censorships,
bans and cancellations of theatre shows.
"Bullah was premiered for the World Punjabi
Conference in Lahore and received an overwhelming
response from Indian delegates who wanted the
play to be staged in India ," says Madeeha
Madeeha in return is overwhelmed by the response
of people from Tudike, a small village in Punjab
, where 2,000 people sang kafis and bols of Bulle
Shah along with the cast.
The play Bullah, written by Shahid Nadeem and
directed by Madeeha Gauhar w[as] be staged at
Tagore Theatre [Chandigarh]on [21 Feb 2003].
The Times of India
NOVEMBER 22, 2003
State Subversion: Gujarat's Victims Completely Isolated
In a recent television interview, deputy prime
minister L K Advani dismissed the claim that
there has been an extremely grave and deliberate
subversion of justice in the aftermath of the
Gujarat carnage in 2002.
He suggested that whatever failures occurred were
the routine outcome of the general collapse of
the criminal justice system in the country, and
that there was nothing distinct in the experience
The fact, however, is that after the riots, the
state authorities in Gujarat have mounted a
systematic assault on the rights and security of
a segment of its citizens, on a scale and with an
impunity that is unmatched in independent India,
barring the dark months of the Emergency. Of the
4,252 cases registered after the carnage, 2,107
have already been closed on the grounds that
there is not enough evidence even to submit a
charge-sheet to the courts. In 36 cases, the
courts have acquitted the accused. In no case
have the accused been punished.
The haste with which almost half the cases have
been summarily closed without even submitting
these for the scrutiny of courts, within the
short span of one-and-a-half years, is the direct
result of the exercise of state authority. Across
Gujarat, the police authorities themselves filed
FIRs, claiming that violence was perpetrated by
anonymous mobs, frequently instigated by the
victims themselves. FIRs by the victims that
named the mob leaders were debarred.
Investigations were frequently entrusted to
police officers who, according to the victims,
had themselves abetted or participated in the
violence, and were, therefore, deliberately
shoddy and partisan.
The prosecution was placed in the hands of
members or office-bearers of the sangh parivar.
The mala fide intent of the state authorities is
evidenced most in the openly discriminatory
application of POTA exclusively against the
minorities. After the carnage, of the 240 people
held under POTA, 239 are Muslim and one is a
Sikh. Not one person in Gujarat from the majority
community has been charged under POTA. Muslims
are also being widely arrested under serious
sections of the IPC. In all these cases, the bail
pleas of the Muslim accused have been strenuously
opposed by the state authorities, whereas people
who led the mobs are left free to intimidate
witnesses and subvert investigations. This
partisanship of the state began immediately after
the carnage, because for the first time in free
India, a government refused, as a matter of
policy, to provide relief and rehabilitation to
segments of its own people, internal refugees who
survived what was virtually a pogrom.
In every major incident of sectarian
blood-letting in the past, the state has always
established and run relief camps. In the
makeshift camps established by the crushed
community, the government in Gujarat refused even
to provide basic facilities, security or a
survival stipend. In the run-up to the elections,
even these austere private relief camps were
forcefully closed, and their tens of thousands
residents, still too terrified to return to their
homes, were left to fend for themselves.
Contrast this with the situation in which for
internal refugees escaping the terrorist violence
in the Kashmir valley, relief camps have been
appropriately established and run by the state
authorities in Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere for
well over a decade. The human tragedy of the
affected Kashmir people is prodigious, but at
least state authorities have extended them relief
in a responsible fashion, according to inter-
national standards, including payment to camp
residents of a monthly stipend. There is
absolutely no reason why these same standards
should not have been applied to the internal
refugees in Gujarat. This injustice has been
enabled also by unconscionable delays at the
highest levels of the justice system.
There are four major petitions pending before the
highest court in the land filed by several
respected writers, artists and activists of the
country, seeking redressal of precisely the
numbing range of injustices mentioned ear-lier.
Unfortunately, even after a year and a half,
there have not been substantive hearings on these
petitions, except the NHRC referral on the Best
Bakery, by the Supreme Court. Instead, state
authorities have succeeded in inordinately
delaying substantive hearings by the Supreme
Court. As a direct result of the delays, many of
the reliefs sought have become infructuous.
It is too late for the courts to order the state
authorities to establish relief camps, and ensure
minimum facilities; it is too late to prevent
them from mercilessly disbanding the camps; it
will soon be too late to impose
non-discriminatory standards for compensation and
its assessment. As people struggle to rebuild
their homes and livelihoods without state
support, it will soon be too late to ensure soft
loans and other state succour and rehabilitation.
In no instance in the history of independent
India have the state authorities so openly
treated a segment of its citizens in such a
discri-minatory and partisan manner, in defiance
of every acknowledged principle of justice, rule
of law and judicial accountability.
We cannot permit this metamorphosis of the state
from an institution for the justice and security
of its people, into one that victimises as state
policy a section of its population. Too muh is at
stake: Justice, our safety, our pluralistic
heritage, and indeed our very survival as a
humane and democratic society.
November 21, 2003
Dutch scholar delves into roots of Gujarat's communalism
Ahmedabad, November 20: THE 2002 riots showed how
deep the communal divide in Gujarat goes. Now for
the first time, two well-researched and
comprehensive books on Ahmedabad's mill workers
and industrial working class trace the root
causes of Gujarat's communalism and the VHP and
BJP's ascent to power.
'The Making and Unmaking of an Industrial Working
Class' by Jan Breman and 'Working in the Mill No
More' by Breman and photographer Parthiv Shah,
published by Oxford University Press, offer new
insights into how the decline of textile mills
gave rise to caste and religious conflict,
particularly in Ahmedabad, and subsequently
resulted in communal riots.
Jan Breman, an Emeritus Professor of Comparitive
Sociology at the Amsterdam School of Social
Research, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands,
spent more than a decade studying conditions of
labour in urban and rural Gujarat.
The book traces the initial conflict between
various classes of mill workers and how
discrimination in recruiting mill workers first
led to tensions between Dalits and Muslims and
then between Hindus and Muslims. Breman also
concludes that the middle-class campaign against
the reservation policy favouring backward castes
increasingly turned into a conflict between
Hindus and Muslims in 1985. It is at this
juncture that the BJP decided to mobilise
subaltern castes. The resounding success of this
mobilisation put the BJP at the helm in the
municipal corporation in 1987 and later in the
Gujarat Assembly. From here, Breman carefully
explains how the BJP introduced the Ram
Raj-Hindutva programme into the upper castes and
then consolidated the support of the lower castes.
Based on interviews with retrenched mill workers
and supported by narratives of real incidents,
the book brings out how the large workforce of
mills workers lost their jobs, the misery and
impoverishment it caused leading to
marginalisation of thousands of families from the
Breman suggests that this phenomena ''led to
strengthening of primordial loyalties, a factor
that may have contributed to the
continued on page 3 vicious rioting that swept the city in 2002.''
The first part of the book dwelves
comprehensively on the birth of the industrial
work force in Ahmedabad's mills and its origins.
The vicious rioting that swept the city in 2002.''
The first part of the book dwelves
comprehensively on the birth of the industrial
work force in Ahmedabad's mills and its origins.
The rise of labour unions and the role of Mahatma
Gandhi as a union leader and mediator are also
discussed extensively. Also, the rise of Indulal
Yagnik as a labour leader.
There are interesting facts that Breman brings to light.
The original mill workers were a very
heterogenous group of city-dwellers which
included Kolis, Muslims, Marathas, Bavchas,
Vaghris and Marvadis. It was only in the later
stages that upper class Hindus joined the
workforce. The mills also brought to the fore the
strict caste system prevailing at that time.
Dalits and lower class workers and upper class
workers worked on different floors.
The second part of the book on the unmaking of
the mill workers is the most interesting. While
the plight of retrenched mill workers has been
documented by other writers in the last decade,
Breman profiles ex-mill workers and their living
conditions between 1998 and 2002.
Breman's second book 'Working in the Mill No
More' narrates the early employment and lifestyle
of mill workers. It has 200 breathtaking
photographs of Parthiv Shah which take you back
to the days when Ahmedabad was known as the
Manchester of India. Shah, is a student of NID
who chose 'textile mills' as the subject for an
exercise in visual communication. For several
months, he went around the mills taking some rare
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 11:01:47 +0530 (IST)
History has become an important tool in the hands of
politics and if one is to assess its influence one has
just to see the effect of the mystified notions on the
intercommunity relations, its role in demonizing the
minorities. By now these myths have become firmly
planted in social commonsense. The fertile ground of
mystified history gets its reppleshinment on the
regular basis from those who stand to benefit from the
popularization of such notions. In his recent speech
on the occasion of Guru Dakshina, Vijayadashmi (Oct.
2003) RSS supremo came up with latest thesis on
conversions to Islam. Mr. Sudarshan pointed out that
but ìthe people of Valmiki samaj were originally from
warrior class. Some historians maintain that the
Islamic invaders used to place two options before the
vanquished Hindu warriors; accept Islam or work as
scavengers cleaning their toilets. While many
so-called upper caste people opted for Islam, these
warriors demonstrated their uncompromising commitment
to their religion by opting for the mean jobs rather
than giving up their religion.î Earlier Ashok Singhal
of VHP had on similar lines pointed out that all those
communities who defied conversion to Islam by the
Muslim armies had to flee to the Jungles, and became
impoverished in the process and so became
Thus now the origin of untouchability are firmly
located with the invasion of Muslim rulers, somewhere
around 8th century. And again the internal problems
are externalized, coming clean as far as the caste and
untochability problems are concerned. This assertion
shows the confidence of those percolating such myths
that now they have sowed the seeds of this
understanding, mythical one, of history so deep that
any thing can be passed off as history. Untochability
and caste system are much much older than the arrival
of Muslim Kings, its mention being there in most of
the Puranas, centuries before even the Islam was born.
Untouchability became part of the caste system
somewhere in first Century A.D. And caste system
cannot be separated from the Brahminical Hinduism.
Conversions to Islam and Christianity have been a
source of great discomfort to the ideologues of Hindu
Right for political reasons. Conversions away from the
Brahminical Hinduism are as old as Jain and Buddha
religions. These were the earliest religions which
challenged the Brahminical system, the caste
hierarchy, much before the advent of Christianity and
Islam in this land. Christianity was the first amongst
these two latter religions to have come here. Its work
amongst the poor and adivasis did attract many to
embrace this religion, and its appeal continues even
till the day, despite the missionaries being beaten up
for their travails. As lot of battering is being given
to those working amongst Adivasis the result is that
working in the remote places is becoming difficult.
Despite its being there for centuries the number of
adherents to Christianity is 2.18% as per the census
of 2001. There was no particular increase in this slow
growth during the British rule contrary to the popular
notions that it is British who brought Christianity to
Islam spread in India first due to the Arab traders,
due to their interaction with natives. Later it spread
here due the influence of Sufi saints and those who
converted to Islam were the low caste untouchables who
wanted to escape the tyranny of Brahmins and
Janindars, those who aspired for entry in the places
of worship which was barred to the low caste, those
who aspired for social equality. Swami Vivekanand sums
up the cause of conversion to Islam ìIt is wrong to
say that Islam spread on the point of sword. It was to
escape the tyranny of the Brahmin Landlord that the
Shudras embraced Islam.î Dr. Ambedkar did suffer all
these agonies before declaring that he wants to leave
the Hindu (Brahminic Theology) fold.
To attribute the spread of Islam to Kings defies the
whole logic of the goal and agenda of Kings. Religions
generally spread due to the humanistic teachings of
saints and not due to the tyranny of Kings. Most of
the kings did claim that they are ruling so as to
spread a particular religion but the only King who
made efforts to spread his religion was King Ashoka.
Communal interpretation of History has seen religion
as the sole and prime motive of the actions of the
Kings. Even here we see that the spread of Islam has
been more in areas where Shudras were more, away from
the direct tyrannical influence of Muslim Kings, e.g.
in Kerala and East Bengal. Kings, no doubt, might have
used the threat of conversion as a matter of
humiliation to the defeated kings. But that again is
small number. The alliances of Kings in medieval times
defy the religious divide propagated by communal view.
The percentage of Hindu officials and Kings in Mughal
administration went on rising form the times of Babur
to Aurangzeb. Many a Rajput Kings were n alliance with
the Mughal rulers. Akbar had two hindu kings amongst
his nine jewels, and Raja Mansingh was his important
general. Similarly the King who is regarded as the
most bigoted, Aurangzed, had the services of many a
hindu kings. The same applies to Hindu kings like
Shivaji and Rana Pratap, i.e. they having Muslim
confidants in their administration. The divide between
victor and vanquished is not along the religious lines
as asserted by Mr. Sudarshan. Most of the armies of
Hindu as well as Muslim kings were mixed armies.
With the coming of British the seeds of communal
politics were sown and now the elite of the
communities in order to pursue the game of numbers
began the acts of conversions. During the first decade
of twentieth century missionaries from all the
religions began to flock the villages in droves,
seeking to convert Dalits and tribal. Many a shudras
converted to Sikhism. Shuddhi movement started by
Swami Dayanand Saraswati aimed to reconvert those who
had ëleftí the fold of Hinduism. Contrary to the
popularly propagated notion that Hindus donít
proselytize, the techniques of conversion to Hinduism
were developed by Arya Samaj and these were called
Shuddhi. The proselytizing techniques have been
further developed by VHP, washing feet and giving holy
bath. To denote that those who have embraced other
religions have become impure and now they are being
brought back by a method of purification. Similarly
Tablighi missionaries were trained to convert people
to Islam These Tablighi activists preached the basics
of Islam and warned the villagers of the threat of
Arya Hindus. The Shuddhi and Tanzim (Tabliqui)
movements were the major political conversions.
The current tirade against the Christian missionaries
is motivated more by political than by the religious
reasons. The Christian missionary work amongst
Adivasis has been attracting the adivasis in a
sustained manner. With the ascendance of Hindutva the
attempt is being made to hinduise the adivasis. It
serves multiple purposes. To begin with the
empowerment of Adivasis which is a threat to the Hindu
elite is halted by attacks on Christian missionaries.
Secondly a new support base is created for the Sangh
parivar a la the Shuddhi movement of the early
twentieth century. Interestingly the ësafety clauseí
used here is that these adivasi have strayed away from
there religion, Hinduism, so the Gharvapasi is a
natural response to bring them back home, to their old
masters, the Hindu elite. The projection that Muslim
invaders humiliated Hindu Kings serves a very powerful
purpose of creating hatred for the Muslims of today as
a mechanism of revenge of the past Here the loyalty to
ëourí kings is also established and subtly probably a
acceptance of social hierarchies prevalent in Kingdoms
is also made to be accepted as ënormalí.
One can surmise that conversions are due to multiple
factors, internal dissatisfaction being the major one.
In addition the political onesí have joined in from
early twentieth century. Here the deceit of those
claiming Gharvapsi is not a conversion is remarkable,
as it is as much a conversion as any other to any
Thus through his newly developed Toilet theory of
conversion Mr. Sudarhsn kills many a birds with the
single stone. The internal problem of Brahminical
values is passed on externally to the Muslim kings,
The Times of India
NOVEMBER 21, 2003
Vested interests misinterpreting history: IIT Prof
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
LUCKNOW : Very few people know that Mughal
emperor Babar had directed his son and successor
Humayun in his will to avoid cow slaughter,
damage of temples and any other acts which could
hurt Hindu sentiments.
Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who has been described
as â¤fanatic' in the history, had on one
occasion razed a mosque at Golconda to dig out a
treasure hidden in the premises. On another
occasion, he had punished a priest of Kashi
Vishwanath temple for molesting a lady, wife of a
Furthermore, there were Muslim spies in Shivaji's
army, who warned him about the assassination bid
in advance before his meeting with Afzal Khan.
Parents of US President George W Bush and Osama
Bin Laden have â¤common' interest -- both have
investments in oil wells in middle east. Swami
Vivekanand once said: It is a myth that Islam was
propagated in India through sword, there were
large number of shudras, who adopted Islam to
escape the atrocities of brahmins and zamindars.
Besides India , Bangladesh has also adopted a
poem written by Rabindra Nath Tagore as its
These facts were presented by Ram Puniyani, a
professor of biomedical engineering in Indian
Institute of Technology, Mumbai, in a lecture on
â¤Communal politics', organised by National
Alliance for People's Movement, at Lucknow
University , on Thursday. He said, "Kings in the
past used religion and communalism to grab the
riches of the land and to rule over the masses.
Today history is being â¤misinterpreted'
deliberately by vested interests to instigate
communalism and terrorism only for the sake of
"We are considering poems and texts written by
poets in the royal courts as history," he said.
The reality however was that facts have been
distorted and exaggerated by the poets to please
their masters, he added. "The will of emperor
Babar could be seen in the national museum in New
Delhi . After reading it, I am not able to
believe that he demolished any Ram temple in
Ayodhya," he said.
Prof Ram is a teacher of engineering, but after
1992 Bombay riots he decided to launch a fight
against communalism in the country.
Describing the US â¤War on terror' as a farce,
he said, "Americans have devastated Afghanistan
and Iraq only to drill oil wells of Caspian Sea .
Similarly, in India vested interests were
instigating riots and communal passions of
majority community. Only innocents get killed in
riots, which creates â¤reactionary' tendencies
among victims, which are being cashed by
anti-social elements for indulging in terrorist
activities, he said, while pointing towards the
Gujrat riots and subsequent reactions in the form
of recent Mumbai blasts." Magsaysay award winner
Sandeep Pandey and former LU vice-chancellor Prof
Roop Rekha Verma also spoke on the occasion.
November 20, 2003
Hindus urged to curb 'Muslim threat' by having big families
Maseeh Rahman in New Delhi
A radical Hindu political party in Uttar Pradesh,
India's most populous state, which is a key ally
of the country's ruling party, is encouraging
Hindus to have more children because of fears of
a Muslim population explosion.
The militant Shiv Sena party announced that it
had identified 50 Hindu couples with five or more
children in the parliamentary constituency of the
Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"We will honour these couples at a special
function next month by conferring the title
'Awakened Hindu Family'," said the Shiv Sena's
state chief, Vijay Tiwari. Couples with more than
10 children would be given gifts of gold or
The call runs counter to the Indian government's
policy of controlling the country's burgeoning
population by promoting family planning. The
"awakening" that the Shiv Sena wants to bring
about stems from the belief that India's Muslim
population, already estimated to be about 140
million, will overtake the Hindu, even though
Hindus account for 85% of India's population, now
more than a billion.
Demographic experts assert that high birth rates
are related to illiteracy and poverty, and have
nothing to do with religious beliefs.
Radical Hindu leaders claim the percentage of
Muslims has been rising. Their propaganda finds a
response among Hindus who resent the Muslims'
separate civil law permitting men four wives -
though most Muslims are too poor to practise
polygamy, and educated Muslims reject the idea.
"Even Hindus who do not support parties like the
Shiv Sena or the ruling Bharatiya Janata party
[BJP] believe that most Muslims have four wives
and lots of children," said Dipankar Gupta, a
sociologist. The issue even figured in the
Gujarat state assembly elections last year, with
the BJP's chief minister, Narendra Modi, mocking
Muslim families for their "25 children each".
Now the BJP's political ally, the Shiv Sena,
hopes for mileage in the spectre of the "Muslim
Mr Tiwari said: "When the Muslims become 30% of
the population democracy and peace will disappear
from India. To maintain the social balance, and
to save the nation, we are now asking Hindu
couples to have a minimum of four children each."
Mr Tiwari claimed there had been a positive
response from Hindus in Uttar Pradesh. But
analysts are doubtful.
"The Shiv Sena's appeal has always been its focus
on pragmatic issues, such as jobs for its
supporters," said Mr Gupta. "Such a madcap
campaign could rebound on the party."
 FEAR OF THE 'OUTSIDER'
The Indian Express
November 22, 2003
Sangh blames violence on infiltrators
EXPRESS NEW SERVICE
NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 21: The RSS said here today
that Bangladeshi infiltrators were behind the
violence against Hindi-speaking people in Assam,
while the ULFA and some Bodo groups were playing
into their hands, thus vitiating the atmosphere.
RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said: ''Several
instances have been brought to our notice where
the infiltrators were the main perpetrators of
the violence against Hindi-speaking people, while
locals were trying to check them.'' The killings
and arson ''smack of a sinister conspiracy by
certain anti-national forces in the region''.
Madhav attributed the current stance of the ULFA
and some Bodo groups to the fact that they ''have
their bases in Bangladesh and get tacit moral and
material support from ISI''.
Sena won't allow exam; 'outsiders' hold morcha
o o o o
The Indian Express
November 22, 2003
MUMBAI/NASHIK:The Shiv Sena on Friday threatened
that it will not allow the RRB to conduct exams
on November 23 in Maharashtra. ''Come what may,
we will not allow the RRB exams on Sunday, and do
whatever to achieve our objective,'' Bal
Thackeray said in Saamna. Meanwhile,
non-Maharashtrians at Nashik Road and Devlali
organised a silent morcha on Friday to protest
against a Shiv Sena-led drive against aspirants
who hail from other states. (ENS & Agencies)
After Assam, it's Mumbai: Biharis get the Sena punch
Saturday November 22 2003 00:00 IST
MUMBAI: Kalyan became the vortex of the Shiv
Sena's new violent protest on Friday, as
lathi-wielding, saffron-sporting men and women
turned on their anger against outstation
candidates aiming for jobs of railway gangmen,
khalasis and helpers.
It was all perfectly planned and executed. The
violence was even christened by local Sena men _
Bihari Ani Bhaiya Baher Kada Mohim (Out With The
Biharis And Bhaiyas Movement).
As outstation candidates for a Railway
Recruitment Board examination landed on board
trains, slogan-shouting Sena members kicked,
punched, pulled their hair and shouted expletives.
In full view of the media, Sena activists
snatched identity cards, tore hall tickets and
hauled several students into outbound trains. The
women took the lead. As victims made a desperate
run for it, women activists screamed, grabbed
their hair and pulled them back.
"We will not let a single Bihari or a Uttar
Pradeshi step out of any train. We have told our
boys to beat up every Bihari or Bhaiya who dares
step into this city to take the examination. This
is our warning. We won't be responsible for the
action of our activists," said Ravi Kapote,
Kalyan city pramukh of the Shiv Sena, adding that
about 250 of the 300-odd candidates at Kalyan
station were attacked.
Even passengers waiting to board long distance
trains were searched. Those unable to "answer
satisfactorily" were beaten up and chased out of
Senior Inspector of the Kalyan railway police
Narayanrao Rajguru said no case was lodged
against any Sena member, since there was no
complainant. "It was not possible to take action,
as there was a huge crowd in the station," he
A weary Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) had to
postpone its examination indefinitely but
hundreds of candidates are still huddled on
railway platforms _ and incoming trains are still
full of them. Confused, too scared to even
disclose their identities and with no money for
proper accommodation, they're preparing for a
But Kapote had another warning: The Sena will
intensify its anti-North Indian agitation in
Kalyan from midnight on Saturday. "Our activists
have been divided into groups and have been given
lathis. They'll keep watch at the centres. They
know what to do if they spot a Bihari or a
bhaiya," he said.
New Kerala - 22 November 2003
India News: Bajrang Dal burns effigy of Christ
Bhubaneswar, Nov 21
Tension has gripped an Orissa district after
members of the Hindu radical group Bajrang Dal
burnt an effigy of Christ to protest religious
Police officials said about a dozen activists of
the group forced their way into a local church in
Tileibani in the state Thursday, brought out
thousands of religious books and burnt them.
District police chief L.D. Naik said they had also misbehaved with a woman.
Two cases have been registered against the 12
suspects in connection with the incidents. All of
them have been absconding since Thursday, the
"Tension is mounting in Tileibani block as a
result of which police patrolling has been
intensified," Naik told IANS.
Adequate security arrangements have been made
around the churches located in sensitive areas of
the district, he said.
According to police officials, the Bajrang Dal
activists gathered in Tileibani on Thursday
afternoon to protest conversions of Hindus to
Christianity, burn the effigy and to submit a
memorandum to the district administration.
It had started last week when the activists had
forced their way into a house in Ambulpali
village in Deogarh district after some local
residents had complained that three Hindu tribals
in the village had converted to Christianity last
Dara Singh, a Hindu fanatic with links to the
hardline group, has been sentenced to death for
the brutal killing of Australian missionary
Graham Staines and his two minor sons, who were
torched while they were sleeping in their vehicle
in the state's Keonjhar district in January 1999.
Twelve of Singh's accomplices were sentenced to
life imprisonment for the crime that came amid a
campaign against conversions.
Volume 20 - Issue 24, November 22 - December 05, 2003
The BJP's `Plan B'?
Faced with the prospect of defeats and setbacks
in the coming Assembly elections, the BJP is
already looking to an artificial, contrived `new
third front', minus the Left, to rescue it.
EVEN the harshest critics of the Bharatiya Janata
Party must credit its leadership with a certain
tactical shrewdness within the limits of its own
politics of venality and manipulation. Thus, a
mediocre leader with a shallow comprehension of
global and national developments such as Atal
Bihari Vajpayee can project himself as some kind
of statesman. Similarly, self-styled Loh Purush
Lal Krishna Advani - who has devoted a whole
lifetime to opposing stridently the
liberal-humanist and egalitarian content of the
Nehruvian vision and socialist ideas - could
lavish praise upon Nehru during his recent visit
to the United States because he knew that that
would go down well with his audience.
As for appropriating the plank of defending the
freedom of expression in The Hindu
breach-of-privilege case, the BJP remains
unmatched in its craftiness. It has tried hard to
erase its own profound commitment to
authoritarian and illiberal ideas, to that
special form of intolerance called Hindutva, as
well as its many links, past and present, with
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa with her
increasingly Hindu-communal orientation. The
party, which brought the Prevention of Terrorism
Act (POTA) into existence in the teeth of
concerted opposition, and which so viciously
victimised Tehelka, now projects itself as a
champion of freedom.
However, the BJP today faces a serious problem
that has less to do with image than with reality
- the likelihood of defeat or indifferent
performance in at least three, if not all four,
of the Hindi-speaking States where Assembly
elections will be held on December 1. Most
opinion polls forecast an emphatic win for the
Congress(I) in Delhi and Rajasthan, and a
probable victory in Chhattisgarh. According to
some surveys, the situation in Madhya Pradesh is
fluid but favourable to the Congress(I). Some
other polls (for example, the one by the Centre
for Media Studies) forecast an outcome that
favours the BJP, but only by a narrow margin.
This situation in Madhya Pradesh could change
significantly in the Congress(I)'s favour because
the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), antagonised by the
BJP's "hardball tactics" vis-a-vis Mayawati, has
decided not to field candidates against the
Congress(I) in as many as 70 constituencies. The
BSP's vote, 6 to 10 per cent of the total, is
concentrated amongst Dalits, and is highly
transferable. It could make a big difference to
the outcome of a close contest in Madhya Pradesh
- in 1999, the Congress(I)'s and BJP's
vote-shares differed by a mere 1.5 percentage
The BJP has very little confidence in its
prospects even in Madhya Pradesh. Right until
November 14, the last day for filing nominations,
its chief ministerial candidate Uma Bharati was
desperately searching for a second constituency
from which to contest, besides Bada Malhera,
where she is pitted against a strong candidate of
the Communist Party of India. Bharati's fallback
options were Datia and Chandala, both in the
The BJP is on a much shakier ground in Rajasthan
and Chhattisgarh. In Rajasthan, its chief
ministerial aspirant Vasundhara Raje Scindia too
wanted to contest from two seats, both within her
existing Lok Sabha constituency. Going by
numerous reports, her campaign is not doing well.
She now faces the Congress(I)'s Rama Pilot, a
strong opponent. In Chhattisgarh, the BJP has
been unable to project a coherent image or focus
on a single chief ministerial candidate (although
it seems to favour the former princely Rajput
ruler Dilip Singh Judev, a bigot devoted to
"re-converting" Adivasis to Hinduism).
Judev is not contesting the Assembly elections.
The top-most BJP leader in the fray is the tribal
MLA and leader of the Opposition in the present
Assembly, Nand Kumar Sai, who takes on Ajit Jogi
in the Marwahi constituency. But so unsure was
Sai of himself that he too wanted to contest from
another constituency (Tapkara) as well. He was
overruled on November 14 by the top BJP
leadership, which was keen not to give the
impression of weakness. It is only in Delhi that
a BJP chief ministerial candidate's choice of
constituency was unambiguous. But Madan Lal
Khurana is unlikely to get very far against his
formidable rival, Sheila Dixit.
The elections to the four States are of course
more important for the Congress(I) than for the
BJP. They will test whether the Congress(I) can
hold on to these States that it now rules and
then emerge as the principal and effective
challenger to the BJP nationally. They will also
test Sonia Gandhi's ability to mobilise the party
and gather votes.
But the elections are by no means unimportant for
the BJP. It must win in at least two of the four
States if it wants to claim that it retains its
dynamism and can combat the anti-incumbency
disadvantage at the national level. On trial too
will be Vajpayee's ability to garner votes
through vigorous campaigning. He is the BJP's
greatest, if not its sole major, asset.
The BJP is acutely aware of these stakes.
Therefore, it is trying to forge a multi-pronged
strategy, including cashing in on the
anti-incumbency sentiment against the
Congress(I), focussing on specific grievances
related to power shortages (in Madhya Pradesh) or
onion prices, but also ethno-religious
mobilisation. It has drafted Gujarat Chief
Minister Narendra Modi as a star campaigner in
all the four States. He is scheduled to address
40 election meetings. To an extent, Judev and
Bharati have a similar function.
Extremist appeals based on religious identities
have their perils, but the BJP is so obsessed
with averting political defeat that it does not
care about the larger social dangers from its
electioneering. As party president M. Venkaiah
Naidu puts it: "In politics, there are no
runners-up, only winners."
THE BJP is fashioning a fallback strategy or
`Plan B' in case it performs badly in the
Assembly elections. At the core of this seems to
be a non-Congress(I), non-BJP, non-Left third
front, probably constituted by formations like
the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the All
India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK),
the Samajwadi Party (S.P.), and of course the
recently reborn Janata Dal (United). The Janata
Dal (U)'s reconstitution took place at the BJP's
behest through a merger with George Fernandes'
Samata Party. Its strength (18 MPs) is deceptive.
In reality, a majority of the MPs are unlikely to
get re-elected. The merger's real function is to
prevent defection to the Congress(I) and the
Rashtriya Janata Dal. The BJP wants to use the
Janata Dal (U) as a catalyst for an artificial
Such a contrived Front must not confused with the
United Front of 1996-98, or what could have
emerged as a third force - a generally radical
alternative to the Congress(I) (then in long-term
decline) and the reactionary BJP. That potential
third force represented stirrings from below and
the self-assertion of numerous underprivileged
and disenfranchised social groups. The Left's
presence in it was ideologically crucial and
politically indispensable. It lent it a future
vision and a programmatic perspective. The front
the BJP is trying to create, by contrast, has no
such vision. Its principal task is to keep the
Congress(I) and the Left out of power and create
structures that support the BJP directly or
The BJP reckons that the main potential members
of such an artificial new third front - including
the S.P., the NCP and the AIADMK - could together
win 50 to 70 seats. This number is enough to
influence the formation of a Central government
in case neither the Congress(I) nor the BJP wins
close to 180 Lok Sabha seats. This government
will probably be unstable, but it will have
performed the valuable function (for the BJP) of
keeping the Congress(I) out of power.
This is of course a gamble. But the BJP seems to
have decided to risk it. It is certainly
cultivating and "softening up" Mulayam Singh
Yadav through S.P. general secretary Amar Singh.
Not only has Mulayam Singh Yadav refused to split
the BJP's Legislature Party in Uttar Pradesh
(although it is coming apart at the seams), but
he has agreed to invert the normal arrangement
under which the ruling coalition's nominee
becomes the Assembly Speaker while the Opposition
names the Deputy Speaker.
The latest news is that S.P. MLA Waqar Ahmad is
about to assume charge as Deputy Speaker, the
Speaker being the BJP's Kesri Nath Tripathi (whom
many parties, including the Congress(I), oppose).
Conventionally, the Deputy Speaker's desk is
placed next to the seat of the Leader of the
Opposition - in this instance, the BJP's Lalji
Tandon. This might symbolically signify a form of
collusion between the S.P. and the BJP!
Mulayam Singh indicated his readiness to do
business with the BJP soon after he became Chief
Minister. On September 25, he declared at his
party's national executive in Jamshedpur that he
would have no objection to the BJP if it were to
drop "divisive issues" like the Ram temple,
Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code. The BJP
itself says it is prepared to keep these out of
its programme "for the time being". This is an
important measure of the shift Mulayam Singh has
executed even as he juggles to retain his Muslim
and Yadav base.
Yet another sign of growing S.P.-BJP collusion is
the creation of the Uttar Pradesh Development
Council under the chairmanship of Amar Singh.
This has a galaxy of industrialists led by Anil
Ambani of Reliance, M.S. Banga of Hindustan
Lever, Subroto Roy of Sahara, and Adi Godrej of
Godrej Industries. Its first meeting announced a
set of economic measures that will make any
right-wing Banana Republic proud - including
indiscriminate privatisation of sugar mills and
other industries, and of what remains of public
services. Amar Singh has now invited the BJP's
Aruns (Arun Shourie and Arun Jaitley to join the
Council in order to give it some more
ultra-conservative free-market ballast.
The BJP has had a line of communication open with
Pawar too, whose party is in an unsteady,
tension-ridden coalition with the Congress(I) in
Maharashtra. It is well known that the NCP did
not campaign for the Congress(I) candidate in the
Sholapur Lok Sabha seat recently vacated by Chief
Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, and that it backed
the BJP instead. That apart, half of the NCP's
MPs, in the P.A. Sangma group, are allergic to
the Congress(I) and comfortable with the
BJP/National Democratic Alliance. Here lies the
significance of Pawar's recent statements on
Sonia Gandhi's "foreign origins". Pawar hinted
(with plausible deniability) that the NCP would
not back the Congress(I). In less than a
fortnight, he denied having said this.
As for the AIADMK, the BJP has been in dialogue
with Jayalalithaa while distancing itself from
the DMK - at least until The Hindu episode.
Jayalalithaa is beholden to the BJP in many ways.
She is the only Indian politician outside the
Sangh Parivar to have supported the Ayodhya
agitation and the demolition of the Babri mosque.
She also rationalised the Gujarat pogrom by
repeating Narendra Modi's revolting
"action-reaction" formula. She has banned
religious conversions and routed State nutrition
programmes through Hindu temple networks.
Jayalalithaa's vindictive action against The
Hindu has caused a furore and forced the BJP to
back the newspaper and implicitly criticise her.
The critical mood may not last long - unless the
issue is further aggravated by another
provocation by Jayalalithaa.
Pawar's "foreign origins" slogan may have been
fired prematurely. The issue has failed to draw
The situation is fluid. But it is likely that the
BJP's options will narrow - especially if it
loses badly in the four Assembly elections - to a
point where an artificial new third front becomes
its best bet. All secular people must guard
against this. The next Lok Sabha election offers
the best chance to defeat the BJP and isolate the
politics of communalism and right-wing cynicism.
This must not be squandered away.
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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