SACW | 14 Sep 2004

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Mon Sep 13 20:46:02 CDT 2004

South Asia Citizens Wire  Dispatch   |  14 September,  2004


[1] Pakistan: Campaign against Hudood Ordinance: 
HR groups, NGOs want 'black laws' repealed (Waqar 
[2] Bangladesh: Humayun Azad - A Truncated Life 
(Mustafa Zaman and Ahmede Hussain)
[3] New Additions on
India: Innovation in Media Censorship: Gujarat 
Experiment of Mini Emergency (Digant Oza)
India: Mushhars: Tales of untold miseries (V.B.Rawat)
[India's National Anthem] Are we still singing 
for the Empire? (Pradip Kumar Datta)
Veer of a Different Kind - Footsoldiers in Search of an Icon (Subhash Gatade)
[4] India : Religion Con-Census Statistics and Lies of the Hindu far right
- India: Manufacturing Hysteria - On 
Census-Inspired 'Nationalism' (S. Subramainian 
and S. Jayaraj)
- Of Figures and Indian Fascists (J. Sri Raman)
- Census Follies (Editorial, The Hindu)
- BJP's census itch: there's a 247 yr hitch (Shankar Raghuraman)
[5] India: Caught in historical cliches (Praful Bidwai)
[6]  India: Letter to the Editor (Mukul Dube)
[7] India: Rajasthan: Hindu right inciting 
violence by tribals against Muslims (T.k. 
[8] India: Why Repeal POTA? (Mukul Dube)
[9] Upcoming Film Screenings and Lectures in Montreal
- Rakesh Sharma's Final Solution (26 Sept)
- Sumit Sarkar speaking on "Secularism in a 
Globalizing India" (6 October) and "Democratic 
Politics as Majoritarian Tyranny or Minority 
Protection -- lessons from India's post-colonial 
history" (7 October)
- Shireen Pasha's The Life And Times of A Lady From Awadh -- Hima Remembers



Daily Times - September 11, 2004


* Demand govt repeal bill in assembly
* JAC plans more rallies in major cities
By Waqar Gillani
LAHORE: The Joint Action Committee (JAC) and the 
Women's Action Forum (WAF) held a demonstration 
on Tuesday demanding the government repeal all 
discriminatory laws, especially the Hudood 
The demonstrators carried placards inscribed with 
slogans 'Black laws should go', 'Repeal Hudood 
Ordinance' and 'Mullah-ism Murdabad'. They 
marched from Lakshmi Chowk and dispersed 
peacefully near The Mall.
JAC leaders Hina Jilani, Tahseen Ahmed and Farooq 
Tariq addressed the demonstration. They said the 
unjustice being done in the name of the Hudood 
Ordinance was unbearable. They said that the law 
had badly affected society. "The Hudood Ordinance 
and other discriminatory laws have not only given 
a bad name to our religion, but defamed Pakistan 
in the world," they said, declaring Hudood laws 
"purely un-Islamic". They also demanded the 
abolition of Qisas and Diat laws, the blasphemy 
law and other discriminatory laws against women 
and minorities. They said the JAC, the WAF and 
other liberal and secular forums would not give 
up these demands.
Ms Jilani told Daily Times that the JAC had 
started a signature campaign against the laws. 
"The government should not try to hide itself 
behind the curtain of the Council of Islamic 
Ideology and should move a Hudood Ordinance 
repeal bill in the National Assembly 
immediately," she said.
Ms Jilani said that 18 of 22 sections of the law 
were complicated and vague. She said there was no 
need to amend the law; it should be repealed. She 
said that opposition and treasury 
parliamentarians had admitted that the law should 
go but their political ties were not allowing 
them to say so openly. She said their struggle 
would continue until the laws were repealed. She 
said the Council of Islamic Ideology could not 
decide the issue because the repeal of the laws 
had become a public issue. "This law is so wrong 
that no council can make it right."
Asma Jahangir, human rights activist and special 
rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 
predicted that the government would not keep its 
word and debate the laws in the National 
Assembly. "The person who believes General Pervez 
Musharraf's words is a fool or mad," she said.
Ms Jahangir said their protest campaign would 
continue until the repeal of the laws. She said 
that the abuse of the Hudood Ordinance and its 
negative points were being discussed openly in 
JAC Convener Shah Taj Qizilbash said many women 
parliamentarians supported the JAC's cause. She 
urged civil society and people to support the 
empowerment of women by asking the government to 
repeal the law. Peter Jacob of the National 
Commission for Justice and Peace said the Hudood 
and Blasphemy laws were harming minorities 
because the laws were part of criminal laws.
Mr Jacob said that no minority judge, lawyer or 
witness was eligible to hear, plead and speak 
respectively for a person being tired under the 
Hudood Ordinance. "The best solution according to 
our opinion is to repeal the law altogether," he 
said. He demanded a marriage law allowing people 
of all religions to marry according to their will.
Neelam Hussain of Simorgh, an NGO, also called the Hudood Ordinance a bad law.
The JAC and the WAF also announced rallies and 
demonstrations 18 Punjab districts in this month 
to raise their demand of repealing the 
discriminatory laws.



The Daily Star - Magazine - September 1, 2004
by Mustafa Zaman and Ahmede Hussain



New additions on

by Digant Oza

by V.B.Rawat (   |  September 10,  2004)

by Pradip Kumar Datta ( | September 8, 2004)

by Subhash Gatade ( | September 6, 2004)


[4]  [ India : Religion Con-Census Statistics and 
Lies of the Hindu far right  ]   |  September 9,  2004

A Letter by S. Subramainian and S. Jayaraj

It only remains to hope that the damage can be 
undone. In a matter of such extreme (and 
misplaced) sensitivity as is routinely evoked by 
statistics on the growth of population by 
religious groups, it is amazing that the Census 
of India should have gone out of its way to 
present a wrong picture by including the Jammu 
and Kashmir population figures for 2001 when that 
state was excluded from the Census count of 1991. 
When the necessary correction is made, the 
spectre of a Hindu majority being swamped by a 
Muslim minority looms (or should loom) less 
menacingly on the horizon of 'nationalists' of a 
certain persuasion. Between 1991 and 2001, the 
share of Hindus in the national population has 
declined from 82 per cent to 80.96 per cent (and 
not 80.5 per cent as reported by the Census); the 
proportion of Muslims has risen from 12.12 per 
cent to 12.90 per cent (and not 13.4 per cent as 
reported by the Census); and the proportion of 
Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and those of 
'other religions and persuasions' has risen from 
5.88 per cent to 6.14 per cent (and these groups 
must therefore, presumably, share a part of the 
blame for edging the Hindus out of the picture by 
all of 1.04 percentage points). Further, in 
comparing rates of growth of the population over 
the decadal periods 1981-91 and 1991-2001, the 
state of Assam (where no census was conducted in 
1981) should also be removed from the picture 
across the board. With this correction, it 
emerges that the rate of growth of the Hindu 
population has declined from 22.77 per cent over 
1981-91 to 20.02 per cent over 1991-2001 (in 
contrast to the decline from 25.1 per cent to 
20.4 per cent as reported in the Census); and the 
corresponding rates of growth of the Muslim 
population have been 32.86 per cent and 29.33 per 
cent respectively (compatible with a decline 
rather than an increase as reported by the 
Census). This ought to comfort the 
'nationalists', but will not, for one is here 
dealing with a mentality that is never so unhappy 
as when it cannot manufacture 'anti-national' 
threats with which to hysterically whip itself 
into action.

There is a much larger picture that deserves our 
attention here. There is little in the Census (or 
other official data sources) to provoke a 
reaction that is either sanguine or sanguinary. 
Yet, the recently vanquished authors of the 
cheerful `India Shiningí campaign continue to be 
optimistic about all the depressing information 
which the Census and allied sources of 
socio-economic data contain within their covers, 
while apparently being prepared to be 
blood-thirsty over wrongly recorded statistics on 
a matter which, to begin with, is of 
inconsequential significance in any reasoned 
appraisal of the state of the nation. The media 
-- or a substantial enough section of it -- must 
take a large part of the responsibility for this 
state of affairs. For the alacrity with which the 
misleading statistics in the recent Census 
publication has been seized upon, and broadcast, 
and hammered home, serves as a remarkable 
contrast to the equanimity with which 
incalculably more pressing issues thrown up by 
the Census and other data sources have been 

In this connection, it is not incompatible with a 
proper concern for oneís country to occasionally 
delve into the Census and other official sources 
of data, whose contents should be a cause for 
serious worry about the sex ratio and the reasons 
for its secular decline (to what extent [if any] 
could it be due to reduced pregnancy waste and to 
what extent to sex-selective abortion?) 
Nationalists should not feel apologetic about 
submitting official statistics on poverty to 
serious scrutiny, or about analyzing data which 
suggest that this country has in recent times 
been transformed into a 'Republic of Hunger', to 
employ Utsa Patnaik's appellation. Nor is there 
any dearth of information on the levels and 
distribution of illfare occasioned by the 
pathetic state of infrastructure development in 
the matter of potable water, sanitation, energy 
for fuel, electricity, roads, schools, public 
health centers. Is the unemployment situation 
such as to warrant complaisance ó any more, that 
is, than what is afforded by neglect of the 
agricultural sector, rural indebtedness, farmer 
suicides, the incidence of child labour, the 
prevalence of wasting and stunting among 
children, and a host of related phenomena which 
the Census and other sources should reveal to the 
interested reader? Is it not more urgent for 
nationalists, even if not for 'nationalists', to 
display some concern for the changing age 
structure of the Indian population, to take some 
heart from improved longevity, to worry about 
social security provisioning for a graying 
population? Is there a case for looking at Census 
data with a view to studying the patterns of 
urbanization and migration which obtain and the 
implications these have for livelihoods and 
security? The point, one hopes, needs no further 

To return to the source of the present hysteria: 
what if the Census data were correct? Would that 
constitute any remote justification for the 
vulgar fuss it has unleashed when there is so 
much to worry about that does not even get a look 
in? Is it necessary to state all over again that 
fertility is an increasing function of 
deprivation, and that lowering its level calls 
for curing the condition of generalized poverty 
rather than punishing the victim? Does it need 
reiteration that group-related data -- whether 
the partitioning of the population is on the 
basis of age or gender or sector of residence or 
caste or religion -- serve as a basis for 
identifying which groups are lagging behind, and 
by how much, so that targeted corrective 
assistance may be provided to the affected 
groups? How often must it be put out that 
socio-economically relevant classificatory schema 
are a means to integration, not divisiveness?

The unhappy fact is that illicit dramatizations 
of misrepresented statistics today are compatible 
with demands for ethnic cleansing tomorrow. 
Intellectually, morally, and politically, this 
sort of manufactured hysteria and diversionary 
violence must be strongly and uncompromisingly 
resisted. While expressing solidarity with them, 
we also call upon the overwhelming majority of 
persons and institutions who think thus, to rebut 
the nonsense that is being sought to be thrust 
upon the country in the name of love for it.

o o o o
12 September 2004

By J. Sri Raman

     We have heard of chemical warfare, the kind 
witnessed in the U.S. defoliation campaign in 
Vietnam. Of biological warfare, which the 
U.S. Government waged by donating 
smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans 
long before the advent of anthrax terrorism. Not, 
however, of population warfare.

     It has been left to the fascists of India to 
discover this new dimension to unconventional 
warfare. And they see in it the cunning, 
conspiratorial strategy of their main enemy - the 
country's religious minorities. It has taken only 
a single mis-statement of a census official to 
revive this pet theme of "Hindu nationalists" (a 
misleading, self-conferred title).

     The Indian media have, for a week now, been 
full of the cries of alarm raised by the far 
Right over the alleged findings of the first ever 
religion-based census report by the official 
Census Commission of India. The Bharatiya Janata 
Party (BJP), licking its wounds after losing the 
general election four months ago, has pounced 
upon the findings to launch a high-decibel 
campaign in defense of an allegedly endangered 

     On September 6, Census Commissioner J. K. 
Banthia released in New Delhi the Census 2001 
report, along with a rank misinterpretation of 
the findings. Almost instantly, all hell broke 
loose. The allegation that the official was 
striking a blow for the BJP may appear unfair. He 
could not have done better, however, if he were.

     The report put the growth rate of Muslims at 
36 per cent in 1991-2001, a 1.5 per cent rise 
over the previous 1991 census. The data indicated 
the Muslims were multiplying faster than in any 
decade since the country's independence in 1947 
and more than any other community. 
Correspondingly, said Banthia, the growth rate 
for Hindus had come down by five per cent to 20.5 
per cent. The growth rate for Christians had, 
according to the report, gone up by over one per 
cent to 22.6 per cent.

     Cold figures? You must have seen them inflame 
fascist passions. "This is a disturbing 
development", declared BJP president Venkaiah 
Naidu. "This imbalance is unhealthy for the unity 
and integrity of the country." The rest of what 
the far Right, in a mafia-like metaphor, calls 
'parivar' ('family'), joined in. The Rashtriya 
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the patriarch of the 
'parivar', took a longer-term and larger view. 
"The Hindus will be reduced to less than of the 
subcontinent's population by 2050", said its 
spokesperson Ram Madhav, making it clear that the 
RSS was not happy with the Muslim growth rate in 
neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, either!

     It was left, however, to the Vishwa Hindu 
Parshad (VHP), the most vicious member the 
'parivar', to spell out the peril they all saw in 
the census findings. Chinubhai Patel, a VHP 
leader in Gujarat (where the 'parivar' carried 
out its famous anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002), 
warned in all seriousness: "The (Muslim) 
community is conspiring to convert Hindu 'rajya' 
(state) into a Muslim country''!

     The BJP-'parivar' scare campaign against a 
Muslim "swamping" of the country is pre-dates by 
at least two decades. The minority is supposed to 
be advancing towards this objective by two 
methods. The Muslims, in the first place, are 
accused of breeding faster than the Hindus by 
avoiding birth control under the influence of 
Islamic laws and leadership. The second method is 
what Naidu calls "demographic invasion" (which 
comes pretty close to "population warfare"). The 
Bangladeshi "infiltration" - never "illegal 
immigration" or anything else of politically 
innocent import - has intensified the threat of 
numbers that the "Hindu nation" faces, screams 
the entire BJP-led bloc.

     The census figures even of the flawed set, 
which the campaigners do not care to quote, show 
up the ludicrousness of their logic. Of the total 
Indian population of 1.028 billion at the time of 
the census, the Hindus totaled 827 million and 
80.5 of the population. The Muslims numbered 138 
million, comprising 13.4 per cent of the 
population. The next in size were the Christians 
(24 million or 2.3 per cent). Census data since 
1951, the year of the first Indian head-count, 
suggest that the Muslim population increases by 
about one per cent every decade.

     Experts have pointed out that, at the same 
rate, it will take three centuries for India to 
become a Muslim-majority country! No grave 
emergency for the 'Hindu nation', surely, as a 
hysterical 'parivar' and hundreds of its websites 
made it appear on the morrow of the report's 

     The figures, in any case, have turned out to 
be fudged. The commission was confronted with the 
fact that the census 2001 included India's only 
Muslim-majority State of Jammu and Kashmir, 
excluded in the 1991 exercise, and the 
Northeastern State of Assam, excluded in 1981. 
After two days of mounting tensions, the 
commission came out with "adjusted" figures, 
which told a different story altogether.

     They show that that the growth rate of the 
Hindu population has declined from 22.77 per cent 
over 1981-91 to 20.02 per cent over 1991-2001, 
and that of the Muslim population from 32.86 per 
cent to 29.33 per cent. In other words, the 
decline in the population growth rate has been 
greater for the much-maligned Indian Muslims.

     The clarification should have ended the 
controversy. But it could not have. The fascists 
trying to force their way back into political 
reckoning cannot do without the windfall issue. 
BJP spokesperson Arun Jaitley has objected to 
exclusion of the Assam figures in the process of 
"adjustment". He argues that the border State is 
the main recipient of Bangladeshi infiltrators, 
though the number of the immigrants here can make 
no serious difference to the demographic picture. 
Loudmouth VHP leader Praveen Togadia has 
threatened to take the matter to the court.

     Facts have not stopped fascist campaigns and 
campaigners. Figures are not going to stop them, 

o o o o

The Hindu - September 13, 2004


FALSEHOODS AND TENDENTIOUS allegations are a dime 
a dozen in politics. It is hardly surprising that 
statistics - this time in the form of the First 
Report on Religion Data of Census 2001 - have 
become a weapon in the hands of political parties 
with a divisive agenda. Naturally, the Bharatiya 
Janata Party is not going to be mollified by the 
explanation that the growth of the Muslim 
population by 36 per cent over the last decade 
was the function of a gross methodological 
goof-up: Census 2001, unlike Census 1991, 
included Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir but 
the growth rates were released without making the 
adjustments every numerate undergraduate knows is 
elementary! The adjusted data (after leaving out 
Assam also since it was not part of the 1981 
Census) show that the growth of the Muslim 
population has decelerated from 32.9 per cent 
during 1981-1991 to 29.3 per cent during 
1991-2001. But communal formations will still 
point to the higher fertility rate of Indian 
Muslims and try and conjure up over-the-top 
scenarios of Hindus becoming a minority and 
Muslims the majority in India at some point in 
the future. Actually, demographers expect the 
population to stabilise soon and the proportion 
of Muslims in India to settle around 14 per cent 
as fertility rates for all groups are on the 
decline. Those who predict a Muslim-majority 
India in about another 100 years on the basis of 
the current growth rates of different groups fail 
to mention that in such a scenario, the country 
will have no standing space for its people.

At the centre of this debate is the salience and 
usefulness of religion as a key category for 
understanding demographic patterns. True, in the 
mass of census data there are other linkages such 
as those between female literacy and population 
growth. The data establish a negative 
relationship between an increase in female 
literacy and population growth for all religious 
groups. But the decision to release religion-wise 
data without taking into consideration other 
socio-economic parameters such as income 
disparities and social backwardness unwisely 
played into the hands of those who were waiting 
to make a tendentious use of data to serve 
disintegrative ends. Indeed the unseemly haste 
shown in releasing the religion-wise data is in 
contrast to the unexplained delay in providing 
access to data relating to age, distribution of 
workforce, and education levels (going beyond 
literacy). The release of religion-wise growth 
rates without making elementary adjustments for 
the exclusion of Jammu and Kashmir in the 1991 
Census speaks poorly of the competence and 
professionalism of the Office of the Census 

This also raises questions whether such key 
data-gathering institutions are beginning to lose 
their autonomy and whether they are being 
manipulated by vested interests. Another dubious 
aspect of this episode is the attempt to present 
the proportion of children in the 0 to 6 year age 
group in the population of different religious 
groups as a proxy for the fertility rate. Data on 
the child-woman ratio, a much better measure of 
the fertility rate, are readily available in the 
census. It makes little sense for the proportion 
of children in the population of religious groups 
to be culled out as an indicator of the fertility 
rate. Regional imbalances in development, rather 
than religion-specific causes, might hold greater 
explanatory value for demographic variations 
among different religious groups. Surely, 
religion is only one among several categories 
that can aid in the understanding of demographic 
patterns. By treating Hindus and Muslims as 
monolithic groups, the Office of the Census 
Commissioner has inexplicably sidelined 
fundamental socio-economic categories and factors 
that every demographer knows to be the key to a 
study of demographic patterns and change.

o o o o

By Shankar Raghuraman (Times of India - Sept 10 2004 )



Frontline, Volume 21 - Issue 19, Sept. 11 - 24, 2004

Praful Bidwai

The Sangh Parivar's tirades against textbook 
reform reek of obscurantist communalism and its 
glorification of Savarkar legitimises his 
pioneering of the Two-Nation theory and poisonous 
Hindutva. History-writing cannot become a 
handmaiden to such sectarian agendas; its 
independence and dignity must be restored.




D-504 Purvasha
Mayur Vihar 1
Delhi 110091

10 September 2004

Truly the BJP shows wisdom befitting the upholder of ancient traditions,
undisturbed by matters which it knows to be petty and transient. Having
made a mockery of the country's democratic set-up by not debating the
Finance Bill in Parliament, it now calls for "a national debate" on
encouraging the two-child norm regardless of religious considerations.
Since we know which group reproduces wantonly -- recall Narendra Modi's
famous description of refugee camps as breeding factories -- we may
describe this as the party's Fifty-Year Plan to keep the country from
being swamped by Muslims.

The BJP also describes the inquiry ordered into the Godhra rail coach
fire as "malevolent". Nowhere do the terms of reference of the inquiry
indicate "a perverse motive to prove that the victims themselves set
the train on fire". Should we conclude, then, that the BJP bases this
accusation on its own suspicions, or perhaps on its own knowledge?

Arun Jaitley pops up to say that the moving of cases outside Gujarat
does not reflect on the administration of justice in that state - and
tells us how cases to do with Jayalalitha(a) were moved out of Tamil
Nadu. Will this eminence trouble to say whether anything in the past
has even come close to the stinging indictment which the Supreme
Court of India sent in the direction of Gujarat?

Mukul Dube



Frontline - Sept. 11 - 24, 2004


T.k. Rajalakshmi
in Udaipur

The violence by tribal people against Muslims in 
Rajasthan, apparently at the instigation of Sangh 
Parivar organisations, stops short of developing 
into a full-fledged communal conflagration.

HISTORY has it that the tribal communities of the 
Mewar region in Rajathan have mostly coexisted 
peacefully with others barring the colonial 
rulers and the feudal landlords. The exploits of 
Motilal Tejawat (1886-1963), who first raised the 
banner of rebellion against the economic and 
social exploitation of the Bhil tribal people and 
later took on the British and their feudal 
vassals in the region, are legendary. He was 
suspected to be a Bolshevik by the colonial 
masters, who along with the feudal lords set up 
the Mewar Bhil Sena to crush the rebellion led by 
him. Unfortunately, Tejawat's battle cries 
against feudalism and colonialism no longer echo 
in the Mewar region, where a different kind of 
mobilisation is under way - to pit the tribal 
people against certain minority communities.

PICTURES: T.k. Rajalakshmi
Gaffar Mohammad's grocery shop which was 
ransacked during the violent incidents on July 30.

About 70 km from the district centre of Udaipur 
lies Sarada tehsil. Around 300 Muslim families 
live in Sarada, apart from Hindus who form the 
majority of the population. The Bhils live on the 
hills surrounding Sarada. Importantly, the Bhils, 
the Garasias and the Gametis were the original 
landowners in Udaipur. Gradually they retreated 
into the hills, to a life of hardship, after 
their lands were taken over by non-tribal people, 
mainly caste-Hindus.

On July 29, a quarrel between two persons in 
Sarada, one a tribal person and the other a 
Muslim, developed into a major crisis, which was 
only solved with the intervention of the police. 
Even the quarrel, between Ashfaq alias Guddu and 
Shanti Lal Meena, was not a coincidence. 
According to informed sources in the 
administration, Meena had been provoking Guddu 
for almost a month. He and a few others often 
picked up quarrels with Guddu. Behind the 
instigation of Meena lay the hand of some 
influential traders belonging to the Jain 
community. On July 29, too, Meena picked up a 
quarrel with Guddu and beat him. Guddu chased 
Meena, but failed to capture him. Later Guddu 
confronted Madan Lal Jain, a diesel and petrol 
dealer, who he thought was instigating Meena to 
harm him. After a heated exchange, Guddu 
allegedly set afire the barrels of diesel.

Retribution followed. A mob burnt down Guddu's 
auto parts kiosk and three other cabins. It is 
learnt that the police's attempts to arrest Meena 
were foiled by the mob. That night and throughout 
next morning drum beats sounded all around 
Sarada. Meghraj Tawar, a former MLA and a 
Communist Party of India leader, told Frontline 
that the practice of "dhol bajana" was usually 
done when the tribal people perceived that they 
faced extreme danger. The notion that they were 
in extreme danger was conveyed to the tribal 
people in the interiors and rumours were spread 
on the night of July 29 that bodies of Bhils were 
lying in the bazaar. It was learnt that the 
Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, a Rashtriya Swayamsewak 
Sangh (RSS) outfit operating in the tribal areas, 
was active in spreading the word. A full-fledged 
attack was being prepared. The target was the 300 
Muslim families in the tehsil.

Sattar Mohammad stands in front of his store which was looted and set on fire.

On the morning of July 30, a meeting, attended by 
the Bharatiya Janata Party's district president 
Tarachand Jain, was held in a hostel for tribal 
students despite Section 144 being in force in 
the area. According to informed sources in the 
administration, Tarachand Jain did little to 
pacify the crowd. The BJP Member of Parliament, 
Mahaveer Bhagora, who belongs to a tribal 
community, too did nothing to control the tribal 
people. The police, in fact, requested the two 
leaders to persuade the mob to leave. When this 
correspondent spoke to Tarachand Jain later, he 
feigned a loss of memory about the sequence of 

By noon, a 2,000-strong armed group had been 
mobilised. Earlier, the police, under political 
pressure, had confiscated all licensed weapons 
with the minority community. Since it was a 
Friday, Muslim men had gone to the mosque for the 
jumah prayers when the mob gathered near the 
locality. As the mob advanced, it burnt down some 
shops owned by members of the minority community. 
However, the police, led by Superintendent of 
Police R.P. Meharda, was determined not to let 
the mob enter the town. About eight persons 
sustained minor injuries when the police opened 
fire to disperse the crowd. Meanwhile, some 
members of the Muslim community fired, in an act 
of self-defence, at some people who managed to 
enter their locality. Asks Tarachand Jain: "Where 
was the need for self-defence when the police 
were already there? And how come some firing 
occurred from Muslim homes when the S.P. had 
apparently confiscated all the weapons? Not one 
single Muslim was killed."

Informed sources confirmed that a massacre had 
been averted, thanks to the timely intervention 
of the police. Even nature helped, as a heavy 
downpour played a role in dispersing the mob. In 
the mob were members of the Hindu Jagran Manch, 
the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang 
Dal. While Tarachand Jain maintained that the mob 
was armed with only sticks, informed sources in 
the Police Department confirmed that it carried 
all "kinds of weapons". According to Tarachand 
Jain, there were not more than 500 people in the 
mob; according to police sources, there were 
around 2,000. In fact, it is believed that had 
the BJP district president and the MP not held 
the meeting at the hostel, the situation would 
not have turned volatile. Administration 
officials also believe that the tribal people 
were systematically instigated as a group against 
a "particular community" owing to economic and 
other rivalries. "They are being used as a group 
to fight the minorities," said an informed source.

On July 31, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand 
Kataria went to Sarada but did not visit the 
Muslim homes. Sarada residents said that Kataria, 
who represents the Udaipur Assembly constituency, 
made provocative remarks while in Sarada. The 
Opposition Congress legislator Raghuveer Singh 
Meena, who represents the Sarada Assembly 
constituency, accompanied the Home Minister, he 
too did not bother to visit the members of the 
minority community. The Muslim houses were 
searched and police personnel allegedly threw out 
household articles.

Soon after, Meharda was transferred to Jaipur and 
posted as the Deputy Director of the Rajasthan 
Police Academy. The government move demoralised 
the police force and for two days police 
personnel in the district reportedly observed a 
silent protest by boycotting the mess. Said an 
officer requesting anonymity: "If all the 30 
Superintendents of Police in Gujarat had acted 
the way Meharda did, not a single person would 
have been killed in the post-Godhra violence."

A week after the incident, reports indicated that 
attempts made to assemble people to discuss 
"tribal" problems were thwarted by the 
administration. Although no organisation claimed 
responsibility for the event, influential members 
of the Jain and Hindu communities in Sarada were 
believed to be behind it.

In the wake of the incident, 200 families fled 
Sarada. Several of them are yet to return. For 
five days all shops in the area remained closed 
and an economic boycott of Muslims was organised. 
None of the shops owned by the majority community 
members sold to Muslims; the few grocery shops 
owned by the minority community were destroyed in 
the violence. An informed source said: "There 
have been only two victims - the Muslims and the 

In fact, it is a mystery how the tribal people 
got involved in the violence, the immediate cause 
of which was a tiff between two non-tribal 
people, a Muslim and a Jain trader. It was Madan 
Jain's shop that was burnt; Ashfaq did not harm 
Shanti Meena. It is evident that Shanti Meena was 
only a pawn used to provoke the violence. B.L. 
Singhvi, the district secretary of the Communist 
Party of India (Marxist), said that such 
incidents drove a wedge between communities and 
succeeded in deflecting attention from the real 
exploiters of the self-respecting tribal 

A view of Sarada town. After the anti-minority 
pogrom in Gujarat, which is not far away, the 
sense of insecurity among its Muslim residents 
has heightened.

Among the non-tribal people of Sarada, the Muslim 
community is more or less educated and has some 
retired government servants. Some of its members 
own jeeps. A handful of them own land. The rest 
of the population comprise caste-Hindus, Patels, 
Meghwals (a Scheduled Caste community), Jains and 
others. The trading community in Sarada largely 
belongs to these caste groups.

Although Guddu was arrested on July 29 itself, 
the people involved in the July 30 incidents were 
arrested much later. When the latter were 
arrested, a call for a bazaar bandh was given. 
The police remained resolute and, a few hours 
later, the shops opened. According to M.N. 
Dinesh, the new S.P., several people were held in 
preventive detention. Of the 31 persons arrested, 
24 were Muslims and seven belonged to tribal 
communities. Shanti Meena, who was arrested under 
a non-bailable offence, secured bail and was 
reportedly roaming freely in Sarada. There are 
allegations that sections of the trading 
community in Sarada sold in the black market 
foodgrain and kerosene meant for the public 
distribution system (PDS). Madan Lal Jain, 
confirmed informed sources in the Police 
Department, should have been booked under the 
Essential Commodities Act for storing diesel 
beyond the prescribed limit and for the illegal 
distribution of petrol. Similarly, an inquiry 
into the meeting on July 30 which aggravated the 
situation is yet to be held.

Members of the minority community said that this 
was the first time that the tribal people 
attacked them. Keshu Lal Meena, who belongs to 
the Bhil community, said that he was born and 
bred in Sarada and he had never seen the 
atmosphere so vitiated. But the amity between the 
tribal people and Muslims is visible when Meena 
goes and fetches Sattar Mohammad, whose shop was 
looted and burnt on July 30. "We represent the 
fourth or fifth generation of Muslims in Sarada," 
say Sattar and his brother Gaffar Mohammad. In 
fact, Muslims were known to have served in the 
paltan (platoon) of the Rajput rulers of Mewar. 
"The tribal people are not to blame. They have 
been instigated," say the brothers.

Alam Ara, a young girl doing her post-graduation 
in Urdu, wonders why the administration has not 
set up a peace committee. Her 70-year-old 
grandmother Allahrakhi said that this was the 
first time that she feared for her life. "As long 
as there is no compromise or a settlement, how 
can things get normal?" asks Allahrakhi. Muslim 
elders said that the arms that were confiscated 
were licensed weapons. The area was close to a 
jungle and after the incidents in Gujarat - not 
far away from Sarada - insecurity among the 
minority community had heightened.

Adding to the minorities' feeling of insecurity 
in the State are some controversial decisions of 
the Vasundhara Raje government - the lifting of 
the ban on the VHP's trishul diksha (trident 
distribution) programme and the withdrawal of 
more than 100 riot cases.

In the first week of August, some tribal people 
going from Banswara to Ajmer for a programme 
organised by a non-governmental organisation were 
stopped by Bajrang Dal workers at Chittorgarh. 
The Bajrang Dal activists forced them to alight 
from a State Roadways Bus, alleging that the 
people were being taken to be converted to 
Christianity. Accompanying the activists were 
mediapersons and police personnel. The tribal 
people, along with the team leader Stephen Rawat, 
head of the Banswara-based Sampoorna Jeewan Vikas 
Samiti, were taken to the police station, 
interrogated for hours and then sent back to 
Banswara. Joseph Pathalil, the Roman Catholic 
bishop of Udaipur, told Frontline that the tribal 
people were going to attend a programme on health 
care and development organised by the Catholic 
Relief Services, an international body. He added 
that the head of the organisation in India was 
Hemant Tiwari, a Hindu. "Instead of giving 
protection to the team for going ahead to Ajmer, 
the police forced them to go back to Banswara," 
said the bishop. He wrote to the Chief Minister 
and the Home Minister requesting an inquiry into 
the incident, but none of them has replied so far.

Udaipur and Banswara are close to the Gujarat 
border. In the post-Godhra violence, there were 
attacks on Muslim shops and homes in Udaipur's 
Kotara block, not far from the Gujarat border. 
Timely intervention by the police prevented 
matters from going out of control. But is this 
the tip of the iceberg? Was Sarada a Hindutva 
experiment to communalise the tribal people that 
almost succeeded?



[SACW - September 3, 2004]

Why Repeal POTA?

Mukul Dube

In the very recent past, a good many things have 
been turned on their heads in Gujarat. Narendra 
Modi's thugs go on a killing, raping and burning 
spree which is unprecedented and so bestial that 
it cannot but bring a bad name to the state. But 
Modi turns these very thugs into victims and 
roars about how "five crore Gujaratis" are being 
maligned the world over. He does this in such a 
way that the people of the majority community see 
him as their sole saviour and vote him back to 
power. Does Modi tell us why the world has 
suddenly gone mad and begun to attack his 
innocent acolytes? No. Does it occur to anyone to 
ask Modi why the entire world has suddenly turned 
against Gujarat? No.

Modi, let us not forget, is the man who invoked 
the name of Isaac Newton to justify the savagery 
which his people showed against his own state's 
Muslims, purportedly as a "reaction" to the 
burning to death of "kar sevaks" in a rail coach 
at Godhra. He knew about the Third Law at that 
time. But when it came to accusing others of 
thinking and speaking ill of Gujarat, he had 
forgotten all about it. Those others did not do 
what they did as a reaction. How could they, when 
Modi's Gujarat had been a model of peace all 
along? They had nothing to react to. They had -- 
and this will remain an enduring mystery for 
psychologists for all time to come -- suddenly 
and collectively, in their billions, developed a 
hitherto unknown form of lunacy which caused them 
to hurl abuse and baseless charges against 

Another revolutionary change that has been 
wrought in Gujarat is the development of a new 
mathematics and statistics specially for the use 
of the machinery of justice, although this 
description is singularly inapt for a mass of 
rabidly communalised people who respect nothing 
that can even remotely be called justice. Just 
consider the figures. Even an approximate number 
will probably never be known, but the estimates 
are that over 2,000 Muslims lost their lives in 
the post-Godhra violence. These were the people 
who died. Add the women who were raped and the 
people who were physically injured and you have a 
much larger figure. Add the people whose 
livelihoods and homes and other property were 
snatched away from them or destroyed -- and you 
are talking of a difference of orders of 

And how many people from the majority community 
were affected in any of these ways? A handful, no 
more than a handful. Why is it, then, that all of 
those -- yes, ALL - - arrested under POTA have 
been Muslims? In Modi's Gujarat, only those who 
suffer are terrorists who must be locked up. If 
your father is killed, or your sister is raped, 
by "ram bhaktas", or by their devoted followers, 
the Gujarat Police, then it is you who will be 
arrested for being a "terrorist". And why is 
that? So that you can be made to suffer more 
through being tortured. So that members of your 
families can also be illegally detained. So that 
your families can be kept in a state of continual 
terror. And, of course, so that your families can 
receive the only kind of justice that the 
families of terrorists deserve -- slow 
starvation. What else did you expect when you 
dared to become a victim?

There is talk of POTA's being repealed. Why 
should it be repealed? Because, people say, it is 
Draconian and amenable to misuse. Have these 
people stopped to consider if in fact it has been 
misused? If indeed it has been misused, then does 
it not follow that those who misused it, 
functionaries of the State, committed illegal and 
criminal acts? Does it not follow also that those 
against whom it was misused deserve justice and 
compensation rather than punishment under the 
provisions of the very Act which was the tool for 
snatching away their democratic and human rights?

Those who talk of repealing POTA were and are 
critics of the NDA government. They were and are 
critics of Narendra Modi. Or has their opposition 
been no more than a pretence? Why do they speak 
the same language as do those whom they 
criticise? Why do they not see that their action 
will only inflict further suffering on those who 
have already suffered because of the brutal POTA? 
If humanity if what guides them in repealing 
POTA, can they not see that their not repealing 
POTA retroactively is nothing other than 

This is like tying up the tiger while leaving the 
tiger's prey in the tiger's jaws. Play-acting. 
Utterly meaningless.



film screening
award-winning film (Berlin, Hong Kong)
The feature length documentary is about the 
Gujarat massacres of 2002. The film has been 
banned by the Indian Censor Board.

Sunday 26 September, 3pm
Cinema de Seve
Concordia University
McConnell Library Bldg.
1400 de Maisonneuve ouest
(metro Guy-Concordia

The filmmaker will be present for the screening.

Presented by CERAS, Teesri Duniya and Concordia Film Department

Info: 485-9192, 938-1854, 346- 9477

Indian historian SUMIT SARKAR
at CONCORDIA University


"Secularism in a Globalizing India"
Wednesday 6 October, 1:15-2:30pm
Room  TBA

"Democratic Politics as Majoritarian Tyranny or 
Minority Protection - lessons from India's 
post-colonial history"
Thursday 7 October 7-9pm
DB Clarke Theatre
Concordia University, Hall Building
1455 de Maisonneuve ouest

Professor SUMIT SARKAR is one of India's most 
eminent historians. Until his recent retirement, 
he was Professor of History at Delhi University, 
India. His most recent publication is Beyond 
Nationalist Frames: Relocating Postmodernism, 
Hindu Fundamentalism, History. His other works 
include the classic Modern India 1885-1947, 
Writing Social History and Swadeshi Movement in 
India 1903-08. Professor Sarkar has been General 
Secretary of the Indian History Congress and 
Visiting Professor at Oxford, Canberra, Paris and 

SERIES, in conjunction with the Departments of 
English, History, Political Science and Religion 
and the South Asian Studies Program, CONCORDIA 

INSTITUTE (Celebrating its 35th anniversary) and 
CERAS (Centre sur l'asie du sud)


  A 2 hour 15 min documentary on 95 year old  Hima 
who recollects  her  life in Awadh, an 
extraordinary kingdom, famous for its bold 
historical position, exclusive socio cultural 
values, a  courtesan culture and unique  norms.

This film  brings out   her  relationship with 
her  renowned father, a Taluqadar/writer Mohammad 
Ali  Rudolvi whose prolific letters to  her and 
his short  stories featurized for  this film form 
a parallel male narrative to an  extraordinary 
time  period in  the   history of  the sub 

This is the latest film by SHIREEN PASHA 
(Pakistan), who has to her credit many 
award-winning films and documentaries. She is 
renowned for her sensitive and creative 
approaches to subjects of cultural and social 

South Asian Women's Community Centre will be organizing a screening.


Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on 
matters of peace and democratisation in South 
Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit 
citizens wire service run since 1998 by South 
Asia Citizens Web:
SACW archive is available at:

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DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.

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