SACW | 27 Aug 2004
aiindex at mnet.fr
Thu Aug 26 19:14:50 CDT 2004
South Asia Citizens Wire | 26 August, 2004
 Bangladesh: Protect the Ahmadiyya Complex - ... rein in the
fanatics (Edit, The Daily Star)
+ Time to call a spade a spade (Zafar Sobhan)
 Pakistan: Religious extremism: fringe or mainstream? (Suroosh Irfani)
+ Vice-and-virtue battle in Khyber valley (Haroon Rashid) + Tribesmen
oppose hardliners' campaign
 India: Heroic Hindutva 1: Savarkar / Heroic Hindutva 2: Uma
Bharti (Mukul Dube)
 India / Gujarat: Constitutional Compulsion (Prashant Bhushan)
 India / Gujarat: Letter to the Editor (Ashok Rajwade)
 India: Bombay editor and secular activist attacked (CPJ Press release)
 India: Workshop On Communalism and Law - Human Rights Law Network / Anhad
(Bhubaneshwar, August 28-29, 2004)
The Daily Star - August 27, 2004 | Editorial
PROTECT THE AHMADIYYA COMPLEX
Government must rein in the fanatics
We view with deep concern the threat of capture of the Ahmadiyya
prayer house in Dhaka. A fanatical religious group couched under the
name of 'Amra Dhakabashi' had given out the threat to do so on 28
We apprehend a serious law and order situation as a result of this,
more so when the Awami League and several leftist parties have
expressed their resolve to thwart the fanatics' attempt to take over
the Ahmadiyya prayer complex.
The fanatics, who comprise nothing more than a very insignificant
fringe element of our society, have been calling upon the government
to declare the Ahmadiyyas in Bangladesh a minority community. This
matter should have been put to rest after the verdict of the High
Court in this regard in 1993 when it rejected a writ seeking the
government to declare just that.
The government's pliant attitude towards the fanatics by banning
certain publications of the Ahmadiyyas have catalysed these elements
into ratcheting up their activities against a minority community. We
reject extremism of any form particularly those that seek to use
religion for their narrow and parochial ends. We feel that the
actions of these religious extremists to be a dubious design to stir
unnecessary controversy and create disharmony in the minds of the
people, apart from creating bad blood between various religious
It is our fervent desire and earnest hope that by the time we appear
on the stands on Friday Aug 27, enough sense will have prevailed upon
those that are planning to occupy a minority community's place of
worship, from going ahead with their threat.
Confrontation should be avoided at all cost, particularly at a time
when the government is reeling in the aftermath of the attack on
Awami League rally.
In this situation it is not the only duty of the government to
maintain law and order, it is also its bounden duty to ensure that,
what the Constitution grants an individual by way of his personal
religious beliefs, no other individual deprives him by force.
We hope the government will ensure both.
o o o o
The Daily Star - August 27, 2004 | Editorial
Time to call a spade a spade
by Zafar Sobhan
I don't know why I am surprised that, in the wake of the attack on
the AL rally at Bangabandhu Avenue on Saturday that killed 20 and
left over 200 injured, some people would choose to focus on the
misdeeds of the AL, who suffered the attack, rather than on those of
the ruling alliance, on whose watch it occurred.
I suppose in the context of the politics of a certain segment of
opinion makers, where the fault for every ill that befalls the nation
can ultimately be traced back to the AL, the fact that some would be
more critical of the AL than the government should have been expected.
But before the janaza had even been intoned over the bodies of the
dead, before the nation could even think of recovering from the shock
and heartbreak of what had transpired, these people were quick to
locate the blame for the current crisis with the AL leadership.
For the blame AL first crowd, it was the AL leadership's refusal to
permit the PM to meet with Hasina and the AL's determination to use
the tragedy for political purposes that was the real stumbling block
to resolving the current crisis in which the nation finds itself.
They have repeated over and over again the same pieties and
platitudes about now being the time for the nation to unite against
the common enemy of terrorism and that this wasn't the time for the
opposition to play tit-for-tat-blame games.
No mention is made by these people of the fact that ruling party
activists had attacked processions carried out by the AL and its
supporters and allies, or that the ruling alliance is on record
blaming the AL for -- get this -- using the attack against it for
That the BNP offer of conciliation could be interpreted as little
more than politically necessary damage control following an incident
that has harmed its image, and that the government might be motivated
more by a well-founded fear of public backlash than the spirit of
generosity, has gone unremarked by them.
The thrust of their critiques is clear. In the aftermath of the bomb
blasts, the BNP has done the decent thing, but once again, as ever,
it is the AL that is the problem.
Some are more circumspect than others. Instead of pinning the blame
for the poisonous political atmosphere in the country on the AL, they
suggest that both the AL and the BNP are equally at fault, even if
one repeatedly is the target of terror and the other isn't.
This kind of pedantic pox-on-both-your-houses analysis that locates
the culpability for the nation's long-standing political crisis in
the accusations and counter-accusations traded by the two main
political parties -- or indeed lays the lion's share of the blame
squarely at the feet of the AL -- is unhelpful in the extreme.
It's time to call a spade a spade. Yes, the attack on the AL rally
was an attack on the entire country and an attack against democracy
in some kind of abstract metaphysical sense.
But in a far more real and immediate sense it was an attack on the AL
and what it stands for, and it is this reality which must be accepted
and understood if we are ever to get to the bottom of who was behind
it, and to truly comprehend in a meaningful way the enormity of what
is taking place in this country.
Certain segments of this country's intelligentsia and polity must get
beyond their knee-jerk anti-AL posture if we are to make sense of and
overcome this threat that we are facing.
The principal shortcoming of the sophisticated world-weary
positioning, that bemoans the grubbiness of our politics and suggests
that the real issue here is that the AL is refusing to play nicely
with the government, is that it deflects attention from where the
blame really lies.
The fundamental political problem in the country today is not that
there is so much polarisation within the polity -- although this fact
remains a problem -- but that there is clearly a ruthless and
undemocratic element within the country that seeks to use terror and
violence to achieve its ends.
And guess what -- this element has nothing to do with the AL.
Am I suggesting that this element is part of the ruling alliance?
Not at all. I do not believe for a moment that the government was
behind the attack, and I dare say that the PM and her cabinet are
genuinely shocked and appalled by what happened.
But two things are fair to say.
The first is that the attack was carried out by elements who are
fellow travelers with the ruling alliance in their pathological
hatred for the AL.
The second is that the hatred and hostility against the AL that the
BNP has nurtured, and its tolerance for anti-democratic action by
groups, such as the Bangla Bhai-led JMJB and the International Khatme
Nabuwat Movement, has helped create the climate in which extremists
believe that their opponents, including the AL, are fair game and can
be terrorised with impunity.
Whether there are elements within the government who are tied to the
extremists remains an open question, but there can be no doubt that
the government's own actions and inaction have enabled and emboldened
So, let's get it straight, people.
Would it have been a grand and generous gesture for Hasina to have
embraced the PM to her bosom and to have agreed that the AL and the
BNP must unite to fight the scourge of terrorism and extremism?
But, frankly, in the great scheme of things, Hasina's understandable
hostility towards a government that has fomented hatred of her and
her political party and everything it stands for and has mocked and
dismissed concerns for their safety is not the problem.
Those who remain implacably opposed to the AL need to come to grips
with the fact that the AL is not the problem, and that the time has
come for those opposed to the AL to rein in their rogue elements.
I know that this will be hard to do for those who believe that the AL
is the cause of everything that has gone wrong in the past 33 years
and who cannot write on any subject without taking a potshot or two
at the AL.
But if this nation is ever to unite and move forward, this kind of
willful self-delusion or intellectual dishonesty (I'm not sure which
it is) is something that needs to be abandoned.
Let us examine the terrorist attacks of the past five years. Since
1999, there have been at least sixteen bomb blasts in the country
that have killed over 130 people.
Now, is there any kind of common denominator to these attacks that
might help pinpoint who is to blame?
Hmmm . . . Let me think for a second . . .
Udichi function . . . Ahmadiyya mosque . . . CPB rally . . . AL
Central Office . . . Ramna Batamul . . . Baniyarchar Church . . . AL
office . . . AL election rally . . . AL meeting . . . Faila Peer
Shrine . . . Shahjalal Shrine . . . AL meeting . . . AL rally . . .
What could the common denominator possibly be?
Could it be that the common denominator is that the target of the
attacks has been the AL or its allies or minorities or secularists?
Nah. Couldn't be. That would suggest that the AL or its allies almost
certainly are not to blame for the terrorism -- unless we are going
to pin the three bomb attacks on cinema halls -- the motive for which
remains unclear -- on them.
The AL undoubtedly has a lot to answer for. No one can seriously
argue that the two periods of AL rule were not marred by atrocities
(though the same can be said for any period in our history), and
those who implacably oppose the AL doubtless have good cause to do so.
However, in the current crisis, this knee-jerk hatred for the AL is
counter-productive. The enemy today is not the AL.
It is true that the national reconciliation is the need of the hour.
But such reconciliation will not come from pathological hostility to
the AL and tortured attempts to find some kind of equivalence between
the two parties when it comes to the current crisis that Bangladesh
finds itself in.
The AL is not part of the problem. But the blame AL first crowd --
even those who abhor terrorism -- by refusing to look squarely at
where the real problem lies -- are.
Zafar Sobhan is an Assistant Editor of The Daily Star.
Daily Times - August 27, 2004
[PAKISTAN] RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM: FRINGE OR MAINSTREAM?
by Suroosh Irfani
Pakistan's 57th independence anniversary was as much marked by
concern about the threat of religious terrorism as confusion about
what exactly the extent of such a threat amounts to. On the eve of
Independence Day, the interior minister, Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat,
told parliament that religious parties were supporting the terrorist
activities of Al Qaeda. "All the Al Qaeda operatives arrested
recently", he said, "were picked up from the regional headquarters"
of the religious parties. However, in a PTV interview on August 16
President Musharraf ostensibly contradicted the minister's statement,
saying he "did not believe any political party was involved in
terrorism". For his part, Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain
told a press briefing at his party's headquarters in Islamabad on
August 17 that "terrorists had had only individual level links with
some Jamaat-i-Islami leaders". Commenting on Mr Hayat's statement
that terrorists were arrested from the JI offices, the prime minister
stated that only "a few JI leaders had links with terrorists and had
helped them in their individual capacity".
The president, prime minister and minister for interior seem thus to
widely differ in their assessment and articulation of a fundamental
problem threatening the country today: The problem of religious
terrorism, the degree to which it finds support among the religious
parties, and sympathy for the religious extremists in the mainstream
society. The vast majority of Pakistanis, the president insisted in
his PTV interview, "were moderate and religious", the
fundamentalists, he went on, were "in the fringe", of which an even
smaller fringe "were extremist".
One would like to share such an optimistic reading of religious
extremism in a country that has morphed from a frontline sponsor of
international jihad in Afghanistan to a frontline state in the
international war on terrorism. However, a cursory glance at recent
history indicates that religious violence in Pakistan today reflects
a more organised and broader avatar of sectarian violence that has
plagued the country for well over half a century. Of this, the
following is a partial track record:
Pakistan witnessed its first sectarian flare up in 1950 in Hyderabad,
during the holy month of Muharram. Nine people were killed when
police opened fire on a rioting mob that was trying to force its way
into the police station, where some people of the rival sect had
taken refuge. The violence followed a rumour that a Sunni mohajir
child had been kidnapped by the Shias during an ashura procession.
The day long disturbances were underpinned by strong mohajir-maqami
The first organised sectarian agitation that gripped the country was
the movement against the Ahmedi community in 1953. It led to
Pakistan's first experience of martial law when the army was called
in to control the riots that had erupted in Lahore. Led by the
Jamaat-i-Islami and Majlis-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, a Sunni pressure
group, the rioters demanded that Ahmedis be declared a non-Muslim
minority, employment of Ahmedis in government services be banned, and
Pakistan's Ahmedi foreign minister, Zafrullah Khan, be removed from
Martial law was imposed after rioters in Lahore went on a rampage on
March 5, 1953, burning post offices, buses and a police station,
besides shooting dead a deputy superintendent of police. Twenty
people had been killed by the time the army restored order four days
later. Hundreds of activists barricading themselves in mosques were
arrested - as many as 597 of them from Lahore's Wazir Khan mosque
alone. The three men who led the movement (including Maulana Maududi,
then head of Jamaat-i-Islami) were tried by a military court and
sentenced to death, later commuted under pressure from Muslim
countries, to life imprisonment. Even so, the writ of the state had
prevailed, it did not submit to any of the agitators' demands, and
the anti-Ahmedi campaign remained dormant for the next twenty years.
However, in an atmosphere marked by Pakistan's defeat in the 1971 war
with India, the break up of the country, and the coming to power of
the secular government of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the
religious parties stepped up their anti-Ahmedi campaign. The pressure
bore fruit when Ahmedis were declared a non-Muslim minority following
a constitutional amendment passed by Pakistan's National Assembly in
By the mid-1980s, however, the focus of sectarian politics had
shifted to Shia-Sunni violence amidst an atmosphere marked by Shia
activism and Sunni extremist demand for declaring Shias a non-Muslim
minority. Before long, Shia-Sunni violence was endemic in both the
tribal and urban areas of Pakistan. In Parachinar and Hangu, in the
areas bordering Afghanistan, sectarian strife assumed the form of a
virtual tribal civil war, with "free use of missiles, mortars, and
rocket launchers". When the army restored order and carried out a
house-to-house search in Parachinar, it recovered huge amounts of
The Parachinar paradigm of sectarian violence - use of heavy weapons
by both sides, support of Afghan settlers and Taliban for the local
Sunnis, and the deployment of army for restoring order - was
replicated in several other clashes in the Tribal Areas during the
years that followed.
Speaking in the National Assembly during the second Benazir
government, the interior minister, Naseerullah Babar, expressed his
dismay at the situation, saying: "two neighboring countries (Iran and
Afghanistan) are fighting their war in Pakistan" (Dawn, 16 September,
1996). He also blamed the religious schools calling them "the main
cause of bloodshed in Parachinar", and regretted that the government
had given land to two countries (Afghanistan and Iran) for building
In urban Pakistan, Shia-Sunni violence became a contest for body
counts among rival death squads, claiming 1,287 victims between
1990-2002.. Initially, the violence was restricted to target killing
of sectarian leaders and activists, teachers and students. The scope
of the violence then expanded exponentially, with attacks on police
patrols, jail superintendents, high-ranking government officials and
judges carrying out investigations against sectarian terrorists. At
the same time, worshippers in mosques and mourners in cemeteries also
became victims of sectarian gunmen, indicating that the hatred
underpinning such violence was virtually taking the form of
indiscriminate slaughter. By the start of the new millennium, doctors
were added as a high-value category in the sectarians' death list:
the militants believed that "a doctor presented a strategic target
because of the publicity his killing generated", a report in Newsline
(August 2001) reported.
With the coming to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1996, the
Sunni sectarian groups got a massive boost: They plugged in their lot
with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan on the one hand and the
jihadi groups fighting in Indian held Kashmir on the other. Following
the rout of the Talibanic state after 9/11, many of these sectarians
and their sympathisers morphed into voluntary foot soldiers of Al
Qaeda in Pakistan.
Suroosh Irfani is co-director of the Graduate Programme in
Communication and Cultural Studies at National College of Arts,
Lahore. This is the first of a two-part series
o o o o
[Relevant material below]
BBC, 26 August, 2004
Vice-and-virtue battle in Khyber valley
By Haroon Rashid
BBC correspondent in Pakistan's Khyber Agency
Tribesmen gather in opposition to tribal chief Haji Namdar
Tribesmen in a near-inaccessible Pakistani valley have risen up
against a chief who has imposed Taleban-style laws.
After returning from Saudi Arabia to the Tirah valley in Pakistan's
Khyber Agency, tribal chief Haji Namdar set about enforcing laws
echoing the Ministry for the Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of
Virtue in Taleban-run Afghanistan.
Like the Taleban's Mullah Mohammad Omar, 35-year-old Haji Namdar's
word was considered final.
But after operating fairly discreetly since last November, his
organisation has now split into two factions, with some tribal chiefs
accusing him of "religious terrorism".
Tide of support
Initially, the valley's mainly Afridi tribes people welcomed the
organisation's commitment to curbing lawlessness.
It offered an alternative to the Khyber Agency's official
administration - a political agent endorsed by the government - which
many regarded as incompetent.
But the tide of popular support slowly disappeared.
As one tribesman put it: "The organisation is effectively mirroring
what the Taleban did in Afghanistan. It won public support by
addressing the security deficit and then it shifted focus to
introducing a more rigid form of Islam."
Former federal minister and a local tribal chief, Malik Waris Khan,
told the BBC: "Initially, it did some laudable deeds like settling
old tribal disputes. But then it started losing direction.
"People grew weary of it because of the use of violence to make people pray."
Volunteers hit men for not covering their heads or not growing beards
in what is deemed the proper style and length.
Music was banned, as was television. Every worshipper had to sign the
mosque's register to verify they had offered prayers.
Haji Malik Zareef (L) says Haji Namdar is a "religious terrorist"
Absenteeism from communal prayers incurred a fine of 500 rupees ($8.50).
Haji Namdar's opponents say he ran three private jails with names
such as Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib to punish those who defied his
Last December it set up an illegal FM radio station to broadcast
strict interpretations of shariah law.
Jan Mohammad, a member of the Bar Kambarkhel tribe, said: "Everyone
is obliged to adhere to them. Any show of reservation or questioning
is immediately branded as defiance, a crime which ran the risk of
The radio station was halted on government orders, but the seeds of
discord had been sown.
A group led by tribal chief, Haji Malik Zareef, rebelled against Haji Namdar.
The factions have been involved in fierce clashes and a number of
lives have been lost.
Haji Malik Zareef says: "Haji Namdar had resorted to religious
terrorism. He started doing things that were completely unacceptable
to the tribes. People were beaten up with batons like animals."
'Hue and cry'
In a nearby camp, hundreds of followers of Haji Namdar are sitting in
a small mosque built with donations from Qatar.
Haji Namdar's supporters say he brings peace and security
A few vehicles fly white, Taleban-style flags.
Haji Namdar was not to be found, but his deputy, Haji Shamsher Khan
Afridi, is here.
"Our aim was to ensure peace and security and to enforce the Islamic
code," he says.
"But since we took action against smugglers and other criminals it
was natural we would face opposition. The very people we fined and
punished are making a hue and cry."
Many are questioning why the central government has remained silent
on the Tirah valley issue when it is more active on hard-line
Islamists in other tribal areas.
The government's silence implies acceptance of the organisation's practices
Ghalib Afridi, tribesman
Tribesman Ghalib Afridi says: "On the one hand the Musharraf
government is telling the world it is against religious extremism,
but at home he is turning a deaf ear to it."
Governance in the Khyber Agency has often been a grey area, with a
number of private, armed organisations operating in the name of
In 1995, the Benazir Bhutto government crushed one such organisation.
But after a few years, other organisations began to surface to fill
the vacuum in public security.
Perhaps surprisingly, the security chief in the tribal lands, retired
Brigadier Mehmood Shah, says the government has no objection to
organisations that "help it improve law and order in the tribal
However, Brigadier Shah says the government will not permit them to
run private prisons, make arbitrary arrests or set up radio stations.
o o o o
Dawn - 06 July 2004
LANDI KOTAL: Tribesmen oppose hardliners' campaign
By Ibraheem Shinwari
LANDI KOTAL, July 5: Political authorities in Jamrud on Sunday
refused to give permission to a religious organization to hold a
public meeting after a row developed between its activists and local
The administration also stopped a procession of the activists of the
organization, Amr bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkar, from Bara at the
Takhta Beig checkpoint. Three of its activists were arrested from
Jamrud bazaar and two of their vehicles were taken into custody by
The activists, however, held a meeting at the residence of Haji
Fazlur Rehman near Teddi bazaar. The arrested men were identified as
Khan Zeb, Nek Shah and Zafar Khan. Khan Zeb, now an activist of the
organization, is required by the Jamrud administration in a number of
Sources also told Dawn that another leader of the organization,
Fazlur Rehman alias Fazalu, was a known ringleader of a car lifters
group. The administration's move to stop the holding of a public
meeting was necessitated after elders of Maniakhel and Sherkhan Khel
tribes threatened to forcibly disrupt the gathering.
Armed tribesmen from both Sherkhan Khel and Maniakhel tribes had
severely beaten up an activist of the organization when he was trying
to forcibly close a music shop. The two tribes had convened a jirga
of Jamrud elders on Tuesday to decide about the working of the
organization in Jamrud.
Sikandar Afridi, a Maniakhel tribesmen, told Dawn that they were
against the imposition of a 'Talibanized' code of law in their area
and threatened to forcefully resist such moves.
The religious organization was established in Bara tehsil last year
with the aim of purging the area of anti-social elements and
imparting religious education to minor boys and girls.
Haji Namdar Afridi, the young Amir of the organization, insists that
his is a welfare organization and would try to put a ban on all sorts
of anti-social activities in areas under his command.
The activists of this outfit were often seen in the area urging
common people to offer prayers in the local mosques. They had only
recently closed down music shops and forcibly removed cassette
players from public transport in Bara.The organization had also
reportedly installed an FM radio station.
LANDI KOTAL: Four children die as religious groups clash
By Ibrahim Shinwari
URL: www.dawn.com/2004/07/28/local33.htm ]
Communalism Repository @ SACW | August 26, 2004
Heroic Hindutva 1: SAVARKAR
Mukul Dube, 26 August 2004
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was the originator of the concept of
"Hindutva". The Sangh Parivar calls him a "freedom
fighter" although he repeatedly gave undertakings and
apologies to the British Raj. On 4 May 2002, L.K. Advani went to
the Andamans, from where this "Hindu nationalist" had
written cringing letters, to rename the Port Blair Airport as the
Veer Savarkar Airport. Finally, even though Savarkar was tried as
a conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, his
portrait was unveiled in the Central Hall of Parliament on 26
February 2003, disregarding the protests of the Opposition.
In 2002, LeftWord Books of Delhi published A.G. Noorani's book
Savarkar and Hindutva: The Godse Connection. I have not seen the
book but have read three reviews by historians, all of whom
describe it as a carefully researched scholarly work whose every
statement is based on unimpeachable documentation.
The news magazine Frontline invited Noorani to write an article
on Savarkar, and his "Savarkar and Gandhi" appeared in the
magazine's issue of 15 to 28 March 2003. The following
extracts are taken from that article. Words which are not
Noorani's appear in square brackets.
[1. The Hindu Right has maintained, in an attempt to justify
Savarkar's repeated apologies and pleas for clemency to the
colonial Government of India, that he was tortured when he was
incarcerated on the Andaman Islands. Noorani nails this lie,
politely but categorically.]
"It is disingenuous of apologists to argue that ill-treatment
in the Andamans led to a collapse of his health and broke his
spirit; hence the apologies. This is untrue.
"Savarkar was brought to the Andamans on July 4, 1911. Before
the year ended, he sent his first petition for clemency. He was
in perfectly good health. It is referred to in the second petition
of November 24, 1913...."
[2. Savarkar was acquitted, for the reason given below, when
those accused of conspiring to assassinate Gandhi were tried.
However, when the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to
Murder Mahatma Gandhi, headed by Justice Jivanlal Kapur of the
Supreme Court, was set up in 1965, evidence was presented before
it which had not been available at the original trial. This
evidence was clinching. Savarkar had indeed conspired to murder
the man whose portrait faces his own in Parliament.]
"Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who had a track record of
complicity in at least two murders, was acquitted of the charge of
conspiracy to Gandhi's murder only because the approver,
Digambar Badge's evidence lacked independent corroboration; a
common flaw in conspiracy cases. But Judge Atma Charan accepted
Badge as a truthful witness. 'He gave his version of the facts
in a direct and straight-forward manner. He did not evade cross-
examination or attempt to evade or fence with any question.'
"Justice Kapur's findings are all too clear. He concluded:
'All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory
other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his
[3. Advani said, at the Andamans, "Today, Hindutva is
considered an offensive word. But we must remember that the
pioneers of Hindutva like Veer Savarkar and RSS founder Hedgewar
kindled fierce, nationalistic spirit that contributed to
"This is a brazen falsehood. Savarkar met the arch imperialist
Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow, in Bombay on October 9, 1939 -
the month Congress asked its Ministers in the provinces to resign
- and pledged his enthusiastic cooperation to the British.
Linlithgow reported to Lord Zetland, the Secretary of State for
India: 'The situation, he [Savarkar] said, was that His
Majesty's Government must now turn to the Hindus and work with
their support. After all, though we and the Hindus have had a
good deal of difficulty with one another in the past ... now that
our interests were so closely bound together the essential thing
was for Hinduism and Great Britain to be friends, and the old
antagonism was no longer necessary.'"
[4. It is not necessary to repeat that in 1923 and again in 1937,
Savarkar had made it abundantly clear that his fight was not
against the British but against the Muslims. Yet this man was
given the title "Veer" (brave) by those who, like him, did
nothing towards making India independent. Perhaps this is
fitting: no other freedom fighter in India's colonial history
showed the raw courage needed to spend the better part of his
life on his knees before the imperial power. Noorani provides the
dates on which Savarkar's valour peaked.]
"Which other freedom fighter has so sustained a record of
abject apologies and undertakings? They were given in 1911, 1913,
1925, 1948 and 1950. The last was given in the Bombay High Court
on July 13, 1950 to secure release from preventive detention."
Heroic Hindutva 2: UMA BHARTI
Mukul Dube, 26 August 2004
The Sangh Parivar has an enviable history of turning lies on
their heads and calling them the truth. Savarkar, who during
British rule distinguished himself by writing many letters to the
imperial power begging for mercy, was magically transformed into
a great freedom fighter. It is still not clear why Vajpayee, who
was arrested in August 1942 for having been in a procession which
attacked a forest outpost and hoisted the tricolour on it, was
not imprisoned under Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code for
"unlawful assembly" as were so many others.
The same kind of miracle is being seen in the case of Uma Bharti,
devotee of Lord Venkaiah, who renounced the world only to return
to it in order to more rapidly see to its destruction.
On Independence Day in 1994 Uma Bharti, who says she was touring
Karnataka as chief of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, defied
prohibitory orders to reach the Idgah Maidan of Hubli in
Karnataka and hoist the national flag there. As members of the
BJYM had warned her of the likelihood of violence, and in view of
the prohibitory orders in force, she took the permission of Lal
Kishenchand Advani before embarking on her adventure.
What did Advani have to do with Hubli? Nothing. What did Venkaiah
Naidu officially have to do with Uma Bharti's resignation in
Madhya Pradesh? Nothing. Whether the BJP breaks the law or plays
at running a state, all authority vests in its own leaders.
But did Uma Bharti actually hoist the national flag at the Idgah
Maidan in Hubli? Here is what one Uma Bharti said: "We were
arrested before we could hoist the flag, but then we hoisted it
because the police wanted us to do that." But here is what
another person, strangely also named Uma Bharti, said on being
pointedly asked if she hoisted the national flag: "No, we did
not." I cannot see what the courts have to do with this
business. Let the two Uma Bhartis fight it out and may the better
liar win. It will be a close and bloody encounter which should be
shown on television.
In Hubli there was communal violence as well as police firing,
and some people - their number is variously given as 4, 5 and 6 in
the few reports which I could find - were killed. Uma Bharti was
charged under Section 307 IPC (attempt to murder), as well as for
rioting and for giving an inflammatory speech. No less than 18
(eighteen) non-bailable warrants were issued against Uma Bharti,
but she proved to be altogether too law-abiding to pay attention
Just when did the Indian tricolour become so important to the
Sangh Parivar? The only flag that is visible at the events
organised by its various limbs is its own saffron one. Indeed,
the comic books which it produces and uses in the indoctrination
of the children who are to be its soldiers even show one Mohandas
Karamchand Gandhi standing to attention and saluting the saffron
flag. Maybe in this picture Gandhi is dressed in khaki shorts,
but my heart was so full of pride that I paid no attention.
Siddharth Varadarajan has pointed out that not only Uma Bharti
but others of the BJP may well have violated, several times and in
different ways, the code concerning the correct treatment of the
national flag, a code passed by the government headed by that
Just why did Uma Bharti have to show her patriotism in Hubli? She
had no known connection with that town. Now she claims that it
was a gesture of salutation towards Chennamma, rani of Kittur, who
had challenged the British. One coincidence is that neither Uma
Bharti nor her Parivar has been particularly active in honouring
others who fought against the British. The second coincidence is
that the place where this so-called act of honouring was
performed is, as its name tells us, associated with a certain
religion and was, moreover, the subject of a dispute. Uma Bharti
could well have played her flag game at the District
Magistrate's office, in the local fish market, or at a
municipal toilet. Why the Idgah Maidan?
We must conclude, most reluctantly because Uma Bharti is, after
all, a Holy Being seven per cent political, zero per cent
religious and ninety-three per cent pure poison, that in Hubli
the national flag helped her only to further the communal agenda
of the Sangh Parivar. It follows that those who are critical of
her actions are, as she says, insulting the national flag.
Web | Aug 26, 2004 | OPINION
[India / Gujarat] CONSTITUTIONAL COMPULSION
The time seems to have come for resorting to article 356 in Gujarat
and bringing the state under President's rule. Only then will the
victims of the carnage have any real hope of justice.
The recent spate of unprecedented orders of the Supreme Court in the
Gujarat riots cases, by which; investigations have been transferred
to the CBI, investigations which had been closed by the Gujarat
police have been ordered to be reexamined, trials have been
transferred out of Gujarat, and the advocate general has been asked
to reexamine the desirability of filing appeals in cases of
acquittals, have again called into question the very legitimacy of
the government of Gujarat under the Constitution.
Consider the situation in Gujarat. More than 2000 Muslims were killed
in a state-abetted pogrom which went on for months. Tens of thousands
lost their homes. Far from doing anything to help the victims of the
massacres, the state government even forcibly closed down the relief
camps being run by the NGOs. Even today, tens of thousands of victims
of the violence have not been able to return to their homes due to
the hostile atmosphere created by those in charge of the government
Even while the violence was going on, the national media had widely
reported evidence of state complicity and even state sponsorship of
the organized violence on the Muslims. Further proof of this came
from the reports of several independent People's commissions, some
headed by distinguished retired judges, which inquired into the
The additional Chief Secretary of the state has recently deposed
before the Nanavati commission that it was Modi who personally
directed that the bodies of the Godhara victims be brought for public
display to Ahmedabad despite being warned that this was likely to
provoke communal violence.
Any remaining doubts about the involvement of the Modi government in
the organized violence have been erased by the manner in which the
Modi government has gone about the task of investigating the violence
and prosecuting the offenders. In the Best Bakery case, the Supreme
Court ordered a retrial of the case and transferred it outside the
state of Gujarat on the finding that "the modern-day Neros were
looking elsewhere when the Best Bakery and innocent children and
helpless women were burning and were probably deliberating how the
perpetrators of the crime can be saved are protected".
After the Supreme Court transferred the investigation of the Bilkis
Bano gangrape case to the CBI, the CBI has reported to the Supreme
Court how the Gujarat police systematically connived with the accused
and even resorted to destruction of evidence. The Supreme Court has
thereafter been compelled to direct that all the investigations which
had been closed by the Gujarat police be reexamined by committee of
the senior most members of the police including the DGP.
They have also been forced to direct that cases of acquittals where
no appeal had been filed by the state of Gujarat be the examined by
the Advocate General. The court has not yet decided on the National
Human rights Commission's plea for transfer of the investigation of
eight of the most crucial cases to the CBI.
It is only when an independent investigation is conducted in some of
the most important cases of mass carnage and killings, will the
extent of the involvement of the most powerful persons in the Gujarat
police and the political administration of Gujarat officially become
It can however be safely predicated that the CBI will receive no
cooperation from the administrative machinery of Gujarat as long as
the Modi government remains in office. The Court has yet to examine
the complaint on behalf of the victims and a large number of FIRs
were not even registered.
The victories at the Supreme Court have been the result of a long and
sustained uphill battle by some of the NGOs, notably the Citizens for
Justice and Peace on behalf of the victims of the violence.But
Justice for the victims of the Gujarat carnage is still a long way
away and may remain a mirage, if the Modi government continues to be
in charge of the administration in Gujarat.
In the election which was called by Modi soon after the Gujarat
carnage, Praveen Togadia, Modi himself and several other front
ranking leaders of the BJP made communal and intimidatory speeches
which constitute clear offences under sections 153A and 153B of the
Indian penal code, punishable by upto 5 years imprisonment.
It is ridiculous to expect the Modi government to prosecute their own
leaders for these offences, when they are going all out to protect
even minor party functionaries involved in much more heinous crimes
of rape and murder.
In these circumstances, it becomes legitimate to ask the question
whether the Constitution makers expected the battle for Justice to be
as hard and arduous as the one for the Gujarat victims. Does one have
to go to the Supreme Court to get even an FIR registered, and then
again to the court to get the investigation transferred to the CBI
and then again to the court to have that trial transferred outside
Gujarat, because the Gujarat police and indeed the entire
administration is hand in glove with the accused persons?
This is precisely the situation for which Article 356 was introduced
in the Constitution. When the entire administration of the state
connives with the perpetrators of violence to thwart justice at every
step, clearly there is no rule of law in that state. The rule of law
is the most basic principle on which our Constitution is based.
The time seems to have come for resorting to article 356 in Gujarat
and bringing the state under President's rule. Only then will the
victims of the carnage have any real hope of justice.
Prashant Bhushan is a public interest lawyer in the Supreme Court.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
22 August 2004
Will the justice be done to the victims of Gujarat carnage if the
perpetrators of the same remain in power? The citizens should demand
the removal of Narendra Modi government if the police inspectors /
officials in the admistration want to speak the truth about the
riots. The Shreekumar report has opened the pandora's box. It is high
time that truth comes out and the real brains behind the crime are
That the 2100 cases relating to riots need to be shifted outside
Gujarat state is sufficient indication of the administration's
failure in protecting the minorities in the state. If central
government acts now to remove the present will be seen as aiding the
process of justice.
Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465-1004
Fax: (212) 465-9568 Web: www.cpj.org E-Mail: media at cpj.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
INDIA: Editor stabbed as he leaves office
New York, August 26, 2004-Two unidentified assailants stabbed the editor of
the Marathi-language daily Mahanagar outside his office in Mumbai on the
evening of August 24. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is
investigating whether the attack was related to Sajid Rashid's work as a
The men approached Rashid, 48, as he was leaving his office and stabbed him
twice, according to the Express News Service. Rashid was rushed to the local
KEM hospital where he was in stable condition, the Press Trust of India news
service reported. Police have launched an investigation into the attack, and
are looking at recent articles written by Rashid to see if they are
connected to the attack.
Rashid is affiliated with Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD), a progressive
local organization, and has spoken out against the so-called "triple talaq"
system, a local Muslim custom relating to divorce whereby a man can divorce
his wife simply by uttering "talaq" three times, according to local press
In July, Rashid and other MSD members approached the Indian Muslim Law Board
to discuss the "triple talaq" custom, according to the Express News Service.
Rashid has written extensively on the "triple talaq" issue, and received
threats earlier this month that he reported to local police, according to
Indian press accounts.
The newspaper is known for its independent stance, according to local
journalists, and has been attacked several times.
On June 24, militant members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) stormed Mahanagar's offices, shouting BJP slogans and expressing anger
at Mahanagar's editorial line, which they said was anti-BJP, according to
the paper's editor-in-chief, Nikhil Wagle.
In July, police arrested nine suspects and charged them in connection with
the attack, but there have been no convictions, according to local
In 1996, hundreds of activists from the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party
stormed the newspaper's offices after the paper published criticism of Shiv
Sena leader Bal Thackeray.
HUMAN RIGHTS LAW NETWORK AND ANHAD WORKSHOP ON COMMUNALISM AND LAW
AUGUST 28, 29, 2004
VENUE: YATRI NIWAS, CUTTACK ROAD, BHUBANESHWAR
Schedule for August 28, 2004- ANHAD -FOR participation and second
day's schedule contact Bibhu Prasad- aoylf at yahoo.co.in/
bibhuprasad at hotmail.com
Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on matters of peace
and democratisation in South Asia. SACW is an independent &
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