SACW | 30 May 2005

sacw aiindex at
Sun May 29 19:43:56 CDT 2005

South Asia Citizens Wire  | 30 May,  2005

[1]  Religions and Unreason
- New Age Drivel and Superstition Posing As Science . . . (Johann Hari)
- Far from eradicating illiberalism, 
anti-blasphemy laws actually encourage it (Nick 
[2]  Pakistan: Media Freedom trimmed (I.A. Rehman)
[3]  India: The proposed law on communal violence 
won't prevent a Gujarat (Harsh Mander)
[4]  India: Babri Masjid demolition inquiry  and 
lies of the Kalyan Singh government (Ajmer Singh)
[5]  India: A report from the 'Rozgar Adhikar 
Yatra' [A Citizens March for the Right to work]
[6]  Publication Announcements:
(i) The Wrongs of the Religious Right: 
Reflections on Science, Secularism and Hindutva 
by Meera Nanda
(ii) Gateway to the East: A Symposium on 
Northeast India and the Look East Policy  - 
Seminar Issue - June 2005



The Independent  (UK)
25 May 2005


  Johann Hari

It used to be easy to spot attacks on science. A 
Southern pastor would wave the Bible and hiccup 
that he wasn't descended from no monkey. An 
African village would refuse vaccines, preferring 
the hallucinatory treatments of the local sage. 
New Age fortune-tellers would sell their potions 
in fairgrounds. All would be quickly dismissed by 
people who could see the fruits of science every 
time they flicked a light-switch or headed to 
their GP.

But over the past few decades, the enemies of 
science have evolved (oh, the irony). Rather than 
attacking the Enlightenment from the front, 
pedlars of irrationalist and superstitious 
theories have begun to claim that their beliefs 
are simply alternative and equally valid 
scientific theories. They have adopted the style 
(but not the techniques) of scientific discourse. 
Now, they construct fake evidence to meet their 
preordained religious conclusions " and demand 
scientific respect for it.

So today, the Southern pastor doesn't wave the 
Bible; he waves a collection of apparently 
scientific papers about 'Intelligent Design 
Theory' that claim to prove the world must have 
been created by a conscious intelligence. The New 
Age fortune-tellers have a whole section in every 
pharmacy headed 'alternative medicine'. And many 
defenders of the Enlightenment " afraid of 
falsely being dubbed intolerant " have shut up 
and accepted it. The result is that global 
understanding of science is being slowly 

If you want an example of this new 
pseudo-science, check out the dismal, 
brain-rotting new movie What the Bleep Do We 
Know? which arrives fresh from sleeper-success in 
the States. Marlee Matlin plays a woman who is 
having a strange day; she meets a boy who is 
capable of bizarre physical tricks, and he asks 
her, 'How far down the rabbit-hole do you want to 

The film claims to be a serious study of the 
philosophical implications of quantum physics, 
and Matlin's story is intercut with interviews 
from people who seem to be scientists. At first, 
they simply point out some of the extraordinary 
things that have emerged from the study of matter 
at a quantum (sub-molecular) level. But gradually 
the film begins to stir in unscientific (and 
absurd) extrapolations from quantum physics. The 
movie's 'scientists' begin to claim that 
discoveries in quantum physics provide proof for 
a whole range of fantastical New Age claims. They 
say you can walk on water if only 'you believe it 
with every fibre of your being'.

The real scientist Richard Dawkins summarises the 
film's assumptions: 'Quantum physics is deeply 
mysterious and incomprehensible. Eastern 
spirituality is deeply mysterious and 
incomprehensible. Therefore they must be saying 
the same thing.' Sadly, Dawkins' reaction is an 
exception; many newspapers have lauded the film 
as a 'brilliant scientific study'.

Okay, so it's a dumb movie, you might think, but 
what harm does it do? On its own, very little. 
But What the Bleep ... bears all the hallmarks of 
the new pseudo-sciences. One typical tactic is to 
take a gap in scientific evidence and fill it 
with faith-based claims. For example, geologists 
have discovered a gap in the fossil record which 
makes it hard to explain how evolution worked at 
certain periods. The neo-creationists seize on 
this and claim it as 'proof' that evolution 
didn't happen at all. (Incredibly, over 40 per 
cent of Americans believe them). The New Agers do 
the same with the gaps in quantum physics.

In the case of New Age spirituality, little 
physical harm is done. A few dupes are sold 
worthless 'alternative medicines'; a few gullible 
people might end up embarrassingly splashing 
about at the bottom of a river after trying to 
walk on it. Even in the case of creationism, it's 
hard to show substantial harm. Some children are 
cheated of a real scientific education and taught 
an outright lie, but nobody is dying as a result.

But the failure of defenders of the Enlightenment 
to stand up against this erosion of science is 
leading to deaths in some of the poorest 
countries in the world. Since the 1970s and the 
rise of postmodernism, it has become popular to 
view science as a Western, imperialist system, no 
better or worse than other 'indigenous forms of 
knowledge'. Some leaders in developing countries 
have taken this seriously " and the victims have 
been their own people. The South African 
President Thabo Mbeki has enthusiastically picked 
up this rhetoric, attacking the 'hegemony' of 
Western science and claiming it is 'colonialist' 
to argue HIV causes Aids. He has latched on to a 
scientist called Peter Duesberg, who says that 
Aids is caused by poverty and cannot be 
transmitted by heterosexual sex. The result? Over 
70,000 children are now born every year with HIV 
in South Africa " a great victory over 

Similarly, the Hindu fundamentalist BJP party 
that governed India from 1998 to 2004 
aggressively promoted something called 'Vedic 
science'. This claims that all scientific 
knowledge can be found in the Hindu sacred texts 
that were revealed 'in a flash' over a millennium 
ago. The best scientific techniques are not 
experimentation and verification but yoga and 
meditation. It is, in other words, not science 
but religion. As a result, India's earthquake 
prediction systems were steered away from 
scientific method towards 'Vedic' practices. The 
Department of Health invested millions in the 
research, development and sale of cow urine as a 
treatment for TB and Aids.

This injection of multiculturalism and relativism 
into science has not done any harm to privileged 
Westerners, who revert to real medicine the 
moment they get seriously ill. But it has been a 
disaster for poor countries.

Dawkins has debunked this relativism best, saying 
simply, 'Science works. An African tribe might 
believe that the moon is an old cooking pot throw 
up into the sky, but that doesn't get you to the 
moon. Science does. Show me a relativist at 
30,000 feet and I'll show you a hypocrite.'

Yet fewer and fewer people seem able to spot the 
difference between science and pseudo-science. 
The people who stuff their faces with 
'alternative medicines' (now available on the NHS 
in some parts of Britain) are no more scientific 
than Thabo Mbeki or the BJP. Science-sapping 
postmodernists have popularised a false equality 
between sense and nonsense. This has replaced the 
real equality of all people before the rigours of 
the scientific method, which is not 'Western' " 
just ask the Arabs who pioneered it, or the tens 
of millions of people in Africa whose lives have 
been saved by the scientific eradication of 

But if we in the developed world cannot resist 
the rise of New Age drivel and neo-creationism, 
if even we say it's all relative, what hope do 
people in more desperate circumstances have 
against their own anti-scientific charlatans?

o o o o

The Observer (UK)
May 29, 2005
Without prejudice

Far from eradicating illiberalism, anti-blasphemy laws actually encourage it

Nick Cohen

Anyone who has seen the films of Michael Moore or 
read the vaguely leftish books which pour out of 
America might imagine that they don't need to be 
told the background to the Workplace Religious 
Freedom Act currently before the US Congress.

After the loud campaigns to allow prayers and 
creationism into US schools, a working assumption 
would be that Republicans, probably in the pocket 
of Halliburton or Exxon, were once again playing 
on the ineradicable paranoia of the religious by 
claiming that Christians were being persecuted by 
employers. With the votes of the credulous 
sewn-up, they would be free to concentrate on 
destroying rainforests and dining on seals. But 
not a bit of it. The act is sponsored by those 
great liberals, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, 
who maintain that it is the logical extension of 
the movement to uphold the rights of women, 
blacks and homosexuals.

The same pattern is being repeated across the 
democratic world. In Italy, a journalist, Oriana 
Fallaci, faces trial for writing a book which is 
'unequivocally offensive to Islam'. The alleged 
crime of The Rage and the Pride is to insist 
there is an unbridgeable divide between the 
Islamic world and the West. What she says may not 
be true, although it certainly is true of 
Islamism and the West, which have armies at war 
to prove it. It's also the case that even by the 
standards of Italian journalism, Fallaci is a 
raging prima donna. Still, since when has it been 
a criminal offence for prima donnas to sing, 
however tunelessly?

If Tony Blair has his way, his government will 
soon be censoring critics of each and every 
religion for the crime of inciting religious 
hatred. As I write, the radio reports that the 
Sunni Muslims of al-Qaeda are slaughtering Shia 
Muslims in Iraq. As true believers, they kill 
because they necessarily believe that every other 
religion incites hatred against them. In these 
circumstances, a universal blasphemy law is an 
oxymoron as well as an assault on the victories 
of the Enlightenment, but the government either 
doesn't know or doesn't care. The wise course for 
a centre-left party is to prosecute ideas.

In the Queen's Speech, the government went 
further and announced it would create a new 
Commission for Equality and Human Rights, which 
sounds liberal and cuddly. It's only when you get 
to the detail you find that the commission will 
fight all those who have prejudices about 
'gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, 
age, religion and belief'.

Belief? What beliefs? Are the censors planning to 
take their ideas to the conclusion and prohibit 
the incitement of hatred against all other 
beliefs. It makes as much sense (or as much 
nonsense) to have a law preventing offensive 
attacks on Blairism or romanticism or Europeanism 
as Judaism and Hinduism and satanism. Unless, 
that is, you somehow imagine that religious 
beliefs - all of them and all at the same time - 
are truer than the ideas of mortal men.

Corporate Britain is mooing along with the 
political herd. Human resources managers from BT, 
Accenture, Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland, 
B&Q, Shell, the Co-operative Group and the BBC 
came together last month to form the Employers' 
Forum on Belief. It will 'recognise the religious 
needs of employees and promote good business 
practice toward religious belief'. Allowing Sikhs 
to wear turbans at work or the devout to 
celebrate religious holidays sounds innocuous, 
although the National Secular Society has asked 
whether irreligious employees will have to cover 
for them during prayer breaks and festivals. To 
date, it hasn't had a reply.

The idea behind the upsurge in demand for benefit 
of the clergy is that the religious are the 
victims of injustice in developed countries 
rather than of a long, slow intellectual defeat 
in the free exchange of ideas. The cries from the 
persecuted are hard to square with the following 

A condom used by the boyfriend of Kerrie Gooch, a 
respectable woman from Swindon, broke while they 
were making love. She went to the local Lloyds 
Pharmacy, where the Catholic chemist refused to 
sell her the morning-after pill. After six hours 
of searching, she managed to find a chemist who 
would help her. 'I don't want someone else making 
a decision like this for me,' she protested.

Women have complained about chemists at Asda 
stores in Stockport and Sheffield which refuse to 
sell the morning-after pill and a Muslim chemist 
at a Boots in the East End of London who refused 
to sell contraceptives. At least he had the 
virtue of consistency. You don't have to be happy 
about the number of abortions to know the 
difference between taking the morning-after pill 
and killing a 20-week-old foetus. If you don't, 
you may as well believe that every sperm is 
sacred and ban contraception.

Ms Gooch asked: 'What gives the pharmacist the 
right to play God?' As good a question is: who 
else is playing God? We don't know how many women 
slink off after a public scene and have an 
unwanted child or an abortion.

My guess is that not very many in our secular 
country. In the US by contrast, chemists who 
refuse contraception are so commonplace that 
Governor Rod R Blagojevich of Illinois has 
introduced an emergency order to make it illegal 
for pharmacists to turn away women with a 
prescription for birth control. 'No delays. No 
hassles. No lectures,' he demanded. His law may 
not survive because chemists in Britain and 
America can refuse to act against their 
consciences and big businesses have the right not 
to offend religious pressure groups, which is why 
Wal-Mart refuses to stock the morning-after pill.

Clinton and Kerry are not therefore proposing to 
give rights to people who must presently go naked 
into a godless world. Since 1977, American 
employers have had to make 'reasonable 
accommodation' for the religious beliefs of 
employees and allow them to follow religious 
fashions and observe festivals. The American 
Civil Liberties Union made a good guess at what 
would happen if Clinton and Kerry got there way 
by looking at the claims which have failed under 
the existing law but may have a chance of success 
if privileges were extended.

Many were from police officers who wouldn't 
protect abortion clinics. But the majority were 
from devotees who complained about their 
employers' refusal to allow them to express their 
religious beliefs: a nurse from Connecticut who 
was reprimanded for telling an Aids victim and 
his boyfriend that their homosexuality was 
contrary to God's will, for instance; a social 
worker who was disciplined for treating a captive 
audience of prisoners to exorcisms.

They complained their freedom of conscience had 
been infringed. In a sense, they were right. A 
truly fundamentalist theory has to hold that a 
believer can no more accept the separation of 
private and public than the separation of church 
and state. Their life and faith must be one and 
no compromises can be made. In the past, most 
people who lived outside theocracies either 
compromised or withdrew into communities where 
they found sanctuary from the profane by living 
and working with co-believers.

Now, in the name of tolerance, the institutions 
of the profane are agreeing to compromise with 
fundamentalism and, in the process, 
multiculturalism is manufacturing culture. 
American civil libertarians fear that nurses who 
want to denounce gays or social workers who want 
to cast out prisoners' demons but don't because 
of the restraints of the rest of society will be 
emboldened by their new rights. What was a 
private conviction would become a public act.

It's not necessarily a hysterical fear. We saw 
the multicultural production line at work in the 
protests against Jerry Springer: the Opera. The 
show had run at the National Theatre without any 
trouble, but after a religious rabble silenced a 
young Sikh playwright in Birmingham and Blair 
promised a universal blasphemy law, they thought 
it was worth attacking the BBC. A British 
religious right was created. Its members were 
always there, but our strange liberalism made 
them a visible force in public life.

Everyone knows that the contradiction of 
liberalism is that its commitments to tolerance 
and freedom conflict when the intolerant demand 
the freedom to be illiberal. It's also the case 
that liberals can become ugly and intolerant when 
they use force to make others become liberal. 
None the less, you might have expected that the 
governments of the countries which send young men 
and women to fight fanaticism on foreign fields 
wouldn't be using the majesty of their laws to 
nurture fanaticism at home.



The News on Sunday
May 29, 2005


By I.A. Rehman

The amendments to the Pakistan Electronic Media 
Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Ordinance, adopted 
by the National Assembly recently, are clearly 
designed to tighten government control over the 
fast burgeoning electronic media. There is little 
hope that the PFUJ call for a national debate on 
these changes, before the relevant bill is 
discussed in the Senate, will be heeded by 
Authority. One should therefore be prepared to 
witness the latest attempt at thought control in 

Measures to regulate the working of the media are 
almost always designed to control and censor 
information. Since radio and TV had traditionally 
been state monopolies the need for an authority 
to control the electronic media arose only when 
licences to private broadcasters could no longer 
be denied. The first law, the Electronic Media 
Regulatory Authority (EMRA) Ordinance, came in 
February 1997. It was replaced by the PEMRA 
Ordinance of 2002, and that is now going to be 
comprehensively mauled vide the amendment bill.

As usual in such cases, restrictions on freedom 
of expression are clothed in proclamations of 
noble ideas. The objects of the EMRA Ordinance of 
1997 were described in the following words:

Whereas it is necessary to provide for the 
development of electronic media in order to 
improve the standards of information, education 
and entertainment and to enlarge the choice 
available to the people of Pakistan in the media 
for news, current affairs, religions knowledge, 
art, culture, science, technology, economic 
development, social sector concerns, music, 
sports, drama and other subjects of public and 
national interest.

In the PEMRA Ordinance of 2002, two new objects 
were added to the text given above:

(to) facilitate the devolution of responsibility 
and power to the grass roots by improving the 
access of the people to mass media at the local 
and community levels: and

(to) ensure accountability, transparency and good 
governance by optimizing the free flow of 

(Incidentally, the omission of expressions such 
as democracy, justice, and human rights from the 
narration of media objectives could not have been 

Now, the principles and norms of censorship, 
which includes information control, are neither 
universal nor immutable. The most widely accepted 
justification for censorship/media regulation is 
that it is a necessary evil to be applied to 
individuals and societies whose minds and habits 
have not acquired the maturity to absorb free 
flow of ideas and cultural concepts without 
injury to national codes. Further, it is 
understood that censorship rigours must ease as 
society's intellectual and social capital grows, 
and that a time may come when censorship/media 
control will not be required.

A useful index of a society's progress is its 
declining reliance on thought/information 
regulation. And vice versa. Whoever is interested 
in the Pakistan society's mental health and 
social advancement must view PEMRA, a bad law 
made worse by the fresh amendments, in this 

The existing law and the amendments can be assailed on the following grounds:

1. The Electronic Media Regulatory Authority was 
set up to control the working of broadcasters in 
the private sector only. Pakistan Broadcasting 
Corporation, the Pakistan Television Corporation, 
and the Shalimar Recording Company (STN) are not 
subject to PEMRA Ordinance. This means that the 
high sounding PEMRA objectives, especially 
development of media for socially desirable 
tasks, are not recommended to the electronic 
media already under state control. In other 
words, regulation of electronic media means 
imposition of control/censorship over channels 
outside the public sector.

2. The Ordinance of 2002 has a provision (not 
found in the ordinance of 1997) to the effect 
that the Federal Government has the power to 
issue directives to PEMRA on matters of policy 
and PEMRA is bound to follow these directives. 
That is, PEMRA is not an autonomous body.

3. The Chairman and the members of PEMRA are to 
be appointed by the President. Under the 
Ordinance of 1997, the Chairman had to be a 
retired judge of the Supreme Court. But in the 
Ordinance of 2002 the Chairman of the Authority 
"shall be an eminent professional of known 
integrity and competence having substantial 
experience in media, business, management, 
finance, economic affairs, or law." It will be 
interesting to find out why the retired judges of 
the apex court were deprived of their entitlement 
to head PEMRA. Were they considered less amenable 
to government advice than 'eminent professionals?'

4. Under the 1997 law the Authority was to have 
six members besides the Chairman -- Information 
Secretary, Communication Secretary, and four 
public figures (one expert on radio, another on 
television, a third on print media and the fourth 
on public service). Under the 2002 law the 
members number is nine, one is to be appointed by 
the Federal Government on full time basis and 
five are eminent citizens with expertise in 
media, law, human rights, and social service (two 
of them women), and three ex-officio members -- 
Information Secretary, Interior Secretary and the 
Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. 
This section has been amended now to provide for 
three more official members. Thus eight out of 
the 13 members of the Authority will be 
government representatives and there is no 
guarantee that the five eminent citizens would be 
independent of government.

5. The 2002 law clearly states that the licensee 
will be obliged to broadcast or distribute 
programmes referred to it by the Federal 
Government or the Authority. This provision is 
common to laws on all media-control bodies.

6. Section 21 of the 2002 law provided for 
consultation with the provincial governments on 
location of new enterprises but this condition 
has been dropped by the amendment. That is, even 
a small concession to provincial authority is 

7. The Authority can revoke a licence on a number 
of grounds and one of them is 'reason of 
necessity in the public interest' and when action 
is taken on this ground there is no need to issue 
a show cause notice, which is required before 
action on any other ground.

8. Both the laws of 1997 and 2002 provided for 
inspection of premises and access to authority's 
representatives but in the recent amendment the 
police have been authorized to take action 
against broadcasters and their staff.

9. Much has been made of the amendment which 
strikes down the provision against private 
monopolies and the bar to cross media ownership 
which was a feature of both the legislations of 
1997 and 2002. One is not sure that the proposed 
change will make for greater freedom of 
expression, because, the bigger an enterprise, 
the more vulnerable it is to official pressure.

It is easy to see that over a period of less than 
10 years the government has been trying to 
increase its hold over private electronic media 
and make it subject to the same regulations as it 
has devised for the state controlled 
broadcasters. The conclusions are obvious: either 
Pakistani citizens and the society as a whole 
have become progressively more immature over the 
years or the custodians of power have become 
progressively more insecure over the same period. 
This is the essence of the various shapes 
attempts at censorship and regulation of thought 

Unfortunately the view that the latter may be the 
case is strengthened by two factors. First the 
government did not realise the need for an open 
public debate on its amendment proposals and 
there are complaints that even the standing 
committee was not allowed to fully debate the 
amendment bill. Secondly the changes in PEMRA 
come at a time when there is evidence of other 
attacks on freedom of expression, such as revival 
of press advice and stoppage of government 
advertisements to independent or unfriendly 



The Indian Express
April 27, 2005

We need a law specifying what the state must do 
in situations of communal violence
by Harsh Mander

In a nation still deeply wounded by the 
state-sponsored communal massacre in Gujarat in 
2002, one of the most significant pledges made by 
the newly installed UPA government was to 
introduce a law that would effectively prevent 
the recurrence of such crimes. It took a year and 
considerable prodding for the government to 
produce its draft. Yet, what has emerged has been 
deeply disappointing.

The proposed Communal Violence (Suppression) 
Bill, 2005, arms the government with wide powers 
to control communal violence, including of arrest 
and search without warrant. It enhances the 
punishment that can be awarded for offences in 
riots, and permits the government to set up 
special courts and police stations. These courts 
can hear cases at any protected place, and can 
order that the confidentiality of witnesses be 
maintained. For relief and rehabilitation, the 
state government is mandated to nominate a 
committee of mainly official and some 
non-official members selected by it, which will 
advise and assist the government in its duties.

A superficial reading of the bill suggests that 
it is an unexceptionable, even welcome code, 
which will assist future governments to better 
control communal violence and ensure justice to 
the survivors. However, the benchmark of the 
merit of the proposed law should be that if it 
was enacted when the Gujarat mass violence 
unfolded, or indeed the '84 Sikh riots, would it 
have influenced the conduct of recalcitrant state 
authorities in terms of ensuring that they take 
all the necessary steps to protect the victim and 
prosecute the guilty? The answer is that this law 
would have made absolutely no difference to a 
government driven by a communal agenda.

The problem today is not that the state lacks the 
powers to take any of the steps envisaged in the 
new law. The predicament in the worst bloody 
communal conflagrations of the past, climaxed by 
the shame of Gujarat, is that the governments 
chose not to use the powers they were already 
equipped with, for the protection of minorities 
and the defence of justice, or worse, they used 
their powers malevolently against the victims of 
communal violence if they were minorities. The 
new law does nothing whatsoever to ensure that 
they will now be forced to perform their 
fundamental duties, or face legal action.

The law as proposed is at best irrelevant to the 
challenges of communal governance and, at worst, 
dangerous, because many of the special powers 
such as of search and arrest can be used against 
minorities in the same way as Modi consistently 
misused the powers under POTA. The governments of 
today do not require greater powers, but greater 
moral and legal accountability.

The principal departure in the drafts proposed by 
human rights activists, but ignored by the 
government, was that the law should not simply 
allow the state to act in specified ways in 
communal contexts. As argued above, if a state 
chooses even without the new law to act in these 
ways, it already has the powers to do so. What is 
desperately required against malevolent and 
partisan state power, is a law that specifies all 
that the state must do in these situations. If 
state authorities fail to perform these duties 
today, as an unrepentant Modi and his 
administration has chosen to do, their moral 
failures are unarguable, even so it is difficult 
to hold them legally accountable for these 
crimes. It is for this reason that we need a law 
that lists the mandatory duties of the state, 
failing which they can be criminally prosecuted 
as well as dismissed.

The first binding duty of the state must be to 
take legal action against all hate propaganda - 
in speeches, publications and textbooks, and 
communal mobilisation. The second is to use the 
maximum force, including deployment of armed 
forces, in the shortest time to control communal 
violence when it breaks out. No riot can continue 
for more than a few hours without the active 
complicity of state authorities. This monumental 
crime against humanity must be explicitly and 
severely punishable under the new law.

In the aftermath of the violence, it must be 
obligatory for the state to set up relief camps 
with international standards, for people rendered 
homeless by the violence and the fear, for as 
long as the survivors do not feel secure enough 
to return to their old homes. It must extend 
reparation to guarantee that the survivors are 
restored shelters and livelihoods, at least to 
the levels before the violence. These are 
decisions that cannot be left to committees 
nominated by the government. Modi had also set up 
such committees, but they did nothing to prevent 
the state from refusing to assist the victims 
according to the norms of a civilised society.

The provisions for legal justice in the aftermath 
of the violence are even more disappointing. 
There are no measures for witness protection 
beyond guarding their confidentiality. There are 
no provisions for independent investigation, and 
it is the government that constitutes the special 
courts and nominates the prosecutors. Prime 
Minister Manmohan Singh pledged when he assumed 
office that the carnages of 1984 and 2002 will 
never be allowed to be repeated. There is nothing 
in the new law that redeems that pledge.


[4] - June 04 , 2005


Former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh ignored 
state intelligence inputs on the threat to the 
Babri mosque in 1992, and lied to the Centre in a 
secret communication. Former Deputy Prime 
Minister LK Advani misquoted Nehru to justify the 
elaborate rituals for the construction of the Ram 
temple. These facts were revealed during their 
cross-examination by the Liberhan Commission of 
Inquiry probing the outrage. Ajmer Singh reports

The Babri Masjid demolition inquiry and the 
cross-examination of key witnesses by the 
Liberhan Commission of Inquiry, which is 
currently on, has exposed some of the blatant 
lies of the Kalyan Singh government, which was in 
power at that time in UP.

It is now revealed that Kalyan Singh, as the 
chief minister, had written intelligence inputs 
about the threat to the disputed structure from 
the state police, but he lied about it in a 
secret communication to the Government of India. 
Even the Central government's secret 
communication, in this context, was ignored by 
the state government.

Moreover, former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani 
and Singh, in their written statements to the 
commission, wrongly claimed that the Vishwa Hindu 
Parishad (vhp) owned the disputed land, which in 
fact belonged to the government. The commission 
records, accessed by Tehelka, also reveal that 
Advani distorted facts regarding reconstruction 
of the Somnath temple, while drawing parallels 
with the Ram temple. (see box)

A few months before the demolition, Singh had 
written to the Centre that security arrangements 
were in place and there was no threat to the 
Babri Masjid, even though the state government 
had received an intelligence report suggesting a 
serious threat to the disputed structure, as some 
security barricades had been removed and massive 
digging and levelling work had begun around the 

The Union home ministry had also cautioned the 
state government about the threat to the 
structure. Tehelka is in possession of the secret 
report dated June 7, 1992, prepared by the 
intelligence wing of the UP police and signed by 
the then Superintendent of Police, GK Shukla, and 
the goi secret reports dated May 29, May 30 and 
June 3, 1992.

Former Union Minister of State for Home MM Jacob 
had written to the chief minister that there was 
a deliberate attempt to raze the structure, and 
that some speakers had declared that the next 
phase of the Ram temple would involve the 
demolition of the Babri Masjid.

According to the state intelligence report dated 
June 7, 1992 (translated from Hindi): "After the 
levelling work around the disputed structure and 
dumping of earth towards the western side, 
security arrangements of the disputed structure 
have weakened. The removal of the outer security 
ring has made access to the disputed structure 
much easier, and dumping of earth near the 
barricades towards western and southern sides 
have further facilitated access. Towards the 
western side of the disputed structure, iron 
gates have been installed to prevent entry, but 
it is not safe in the absence of barbed wire and 
locks, as anyone can enter the disputed structure 
after opening the gate."

The report further stated: "In order to bring a 
bad name to the bjp government and create serious 
problems for the district administration, any 
determined or anti-social element or Opposition 
party could damage the disputed structure. After 
levelling work was carried out around the 
disputed structure, security personnel 
(Provincial Armed Constabulary) did not stay as 
alert as they were earlier, and followers of the 
vhp and Bajrang Dal were rarely stopped by them. 
There is a need to reconsider and strengthen 
security arrangements within the Ram 
Janmabhoomi/Babri Masjid disputed structure."

The Singh government, after receiving this 
report, forwarded a contradictory report (in 
possession of Tehelka, dated June 16, 1992) to 
the Centre. The report said that there was no 
let-up in the security of the structure, and 
after the construction of the perimeter wall, 
security arrangements are stronger than before. 
It said, sentries were on duty 24 hours, closed 
circuit cameras were in place, and devotees were 
being searched. It also said that there was no 
threat to the structure from digging or levelling 
and there would be no water-logging. "I assure 
you that from time to time security arrangements 
are being reviewed and security of the disputed 
structure is of utmost importance to the state," 
Singh said in his letter.

Alarmed at the digging and levelling work, which 
was never explained by the state government, 
Union Home Minister SB Chavan had already written 
to the former chief minister on May 29, 1992, 
"Šin this connection I wish to state that the 
construction of the compound wall does not 
obviate the need for having barricades and the 
concertina wires. If a determined crowd within 
the walled enclosures attempts to cause damage to 
the structure, there will be no physical barrier 
which could stop them in the absence of the 
barricades. I would, therefore like to reiterate 
the need for restoring the barricades which have 
been removedŠI would also like to mention the 
apprehension that the digging undertaken recently 
near the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure 
in the course of levelling the ground is likely 
to endanger the structure itselfŠ"

Jacob had also written to the former chief 
minister on May 30, 1992: "ŠDigging operations 
which are reported to have reached a depth of 
about 10 ft in front of the structure would lead 
to collection of water during rains resulting in 
seepage to the depth of the foundation, weakening 
it in the process. The allegation is that this is 
being done deliberately so that the structure 
collapses on its ownŠ Dumping of earth on the 
western and southern side of the structure, in 
some places almost up to the height of the 
perimeter wall, on the one hand, and the height 
of the fencing around the structure on the other, 
has rendered ineffective whatever protection to 
the structure was afforded by the perimeter wall 
and the fencing."

"If dumping of earth is continued in this manner, 
very soon the level of the ground at least on the 
western side would reach the top of the fencing 
making access to the structure from the rear, 
relatively easyŠWith the removal of the outer 
cordon arrangement which included 12 barricades 
at distances up to 2km, there is now only a 
single barricade near the present entry point on 
Manas Trust lane. The iron pipe 
barricading/concertina rolls/barbed wire on the 
western, southern and eastern sides of the 
complex have been removed. Other physical 
security measuresŠhave also become 
non-functional. All this would make it difficult 
to prevent determined crowds from rushing inŠ 
Several speakers are reported to have declared 
openly that the next phase of the Ram temple 
would involve the demolition of Babri Masjid."

Following this communication, the then Union Home 
Secretary Madhav Godbole wrote to the then Chief 
Secretary VK Saxena on June 3, 1992: "As has been 
mentioned therein serious apprehensions are being 
expressed in a number of quarters that digging on 
a large-scale will lead to collection of water 
during the rains and would ultimately weaken the 
foundation of the structure of Janambhoomi-Babri 
Masjid complexŠIt would be helpful to know the 
purpose for which such large scale levelling and 
digging operations have been undertakenŠ."

This was actually a build-up to the demolition of 
the disputed structure on December 6, 1992, which 
the bjp top brass justified thus: It was an 
outburst of pent up emotion as karsevaks had been 
waiting for long and had gathered at Ayodhya for 
a symbolic karseva on December 6.

Both Advani and Singh blamed the Allahabad High 
Court for a delayed judgement suggesting that the 
demolition would not have occurred or the 
situation could have been defused to make karseva 
possible. They suggested that even if the 
acquisition of land was struck down by the court, 
karseva was still possible as vhp owned pieces of 
the land. On the contrary, the karseva was not 
possible, as according to government records this 
was government land.

Singh stated in his affidavit: "The state 
government had been anxiously waiting for the 
judgement of the Hon'ble High Court in case of 
the acquisition of the 2.77 acres of land before 
December 6, 1992. The Ayodhya movement leaders 
and the UP government expected the Hon'ble High 
Court to give its judgement one way or the other 
before December 6, 1992 as the argument and 
hearing were finalised on November 4, 1992. Even 
adverse judgement, striking down the acquisition 
of the land, would have resulted in the handing 
over of the possession of 2.04 acres of land out 
of a total acquisition of 2.77 acres back to the 
vhp from whose possession it was acquisitioned."

"The result would have been that the karseva and 
the construction work could have commenced on 
this 2.04 acres of land on or about December 6, 
1992... So far the deponent (Singh) knows in this 
matter the judgement was delivered by the Hon'ble 
High Court on or about December 11, 1992," he 
states further.

This lie, however, stands exposed as according to 
the Bommai report (SR Bommai headed the members 
of the Standing Committee of National Integration 
Council), "The tourism department of the state 
government had acquired 2.77 acres of land around 
the Ram Janmbhoomi area in October 1991. Out of 
this land 0.36 acres belonged to private owners 
and the rest, 2.41 acres, was nazul land which 
was also transferred to the tourism department.."

When on May 12, commission counsel Anupam Gupta, 
drew Singh's attention to this fact he refused to 
comment and demanded a copy of the document.

Asked to comment on the affidavits of the 
district magistrate and superintendent of police, 
Faizabad, who stated that in December 1949 the 
idols of Ramchandraji were placed inside the 
Babri mosque, Singh evaded an answer. He instead 
quoted the Archaeological Survey of India about 
the pre-existence of the temple and the remnants 
of a temple found during an excavation.

During the cross-examination the commission 
counsel produced the court statement of the 
district magistrate and SP, Faizabad.

According to former SP Kirpal Singh's statement 
(in the court of civil judge, Faizabad; Gopal 
Singh vs Zahur Ahmed and eight others, regular 
suit No. 2 of 1950), Para 12 reads: "The property 
in suit is known as Babri mosque and it has for a 
long time been in use as a mosque for the purpose 
of worship by Muslims.

It has not been in use as a temple of Shri Ramchandraji."

Para 13 states: "On the night of December 22, 
1949 idols of Shri Ramchandraji were 
surreptitiously and wrongly put inside it." 
Former Deputy Commissioner Faizabad JN Ugra also 
stated this in the above-mentioned suit.

This fact is further substantiated in a book 
titled The Babri Masjid Question: A Matter Of 
National Honour edited by AG Noorani which also 
mentions that Ram Krishna Paramhans claimed that 
he had placed the idols in the mosque.

Para 17 states: "...the people who had placed the 
image in the mosque were never caught or tried. 
In an interview with The New York Times on 
Sunday, December 22, 1991, Abbot Paramhans 
declared that he was the one who had put the 
image inside the mosque." (Religious Nationalism: 
Hindus and Muslims in India, Peter Van der Veer, 
Oxford University Press, 1996).

But for the rss the act of placing the idols in 
the mosque was divine intervention.



(from the Yatra's communication team)

The Rozgar Adhikar Yatra will be reaching Bhopal 
today (27 May), two weeks after leaving Delhi. 
The Yatra's colourful bus has already covered a 
distance of nearly 2,000 km through the scorched 
landscape of India's most deprived districts - 
Banswara, Panchmahals, Narmada, Nandurbar, 
Badwani, Khargone, among others.  A long series 
of public events have been held on the way, 
including conventions, rallies, street plays, 
puppet shows and meetings with political leaders.

The Yatra is a highly multi-cultural event. 
Participants have joined from very diverse 
regions, age groups, communities and 
organizations – including workers' organizations, 
students' unions, women's groups, Dalit 
organizations and Adivasi sangathans.  They are 
united in their commitment to the right to work 
as an aspect of the fundamental right to live 
with dignity.  They live together and work as a 
team, with no master high or low.

In Gujarat, the highlight of the Yatra was a 
massive rally in Sagbara (Narmada district), 
convened by Punaravasan Sangharsh Samiti on 21 
May. Around mid-day, some 5,000 women and men 
from surrounding villages virtually paralysed the 
town as they marched down the streets shouting 
the Yatra's main slogan – "Har Haath Ko Kaam Do, 
Kaam Ka Pura Daam Do".  The pot-bellied traders 
who normally call the shots in Sagbara were not 
amused, though some did express sympathy and 
offered water to the marchers.  The rally was 
followed by a three-hour meeting in a large mango 
grove.  Speakers included Prof. D. Prempati 
(Dalit intellectual and activist), Pratibha 
Shinde (Punaravasan Sangharsh Samiti), Shankar 
Singh (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan), Annie 
Raja (National Federation of Indian Women), 
Ambarish Rai (National Alliance for the 
Fundamental Right to Education), Jean Dreze 
(economist) as well as local activists.  A 
recurrent theme of the meeting was the need to 
link the right to work with land reform and 
democratic control of natural resources, 
especially "jal, jungle, jameen".

The next day, the Yatra made a brief foray in 
Maharashtra (Nandurbar district).  This was a 
good opportunity to learn more about 
Maharashtra's "employment guarantee scheme", 
which derives from an Employment Guarantee Act 
passed in the late seventies.  The scheme is in 
place, but employment generation under EGS has 
declined significantly in the nineties.  Nearly 
Rs 10,000 crores are lying idle in the state's 
"employment guarantee fund", ear-marked for EGS - 
this money is effectively being "raided" for 
other purposes.  At a district-level convention 
held in Nandurbar on 22 May, many speakers 
emphasised the need for sustained struggle to 
ensure implementation of the forthcoming National 
Employment Guarantee Act, even after the Act is 

After entering Madhya Pradesh in Badwani 
district, the Yatris had a startling first-hand 
view of deforestation in India's semi-arid 
districts.  In an area where there were dense 
forests not so long ago, the bare ground 
stretches for miles on end without shade.  There 
is no work and most people survive from labour 
migration.  In the absence of any economic 
security, local labourers (mainly Dalits and 
Adivasis) are exposed to rampant exploitation 
from the traders, employers and government 
officials.  Some of them, however, are fighting 
back.  In Pati, for instance, Jagrit Adivasi 
Dalit Sangathan has been waging a long struggle 
for minimum wages and the right to work.  On 23 
May, the Sangathan and the Yatra joined hands in 
a strong display of solidarity at the Block 

Also in Pati Block, the Yatris had a sobering 
glimpse of the National Food For Work Programme 
(NFFWP).  The Programme appears to have been 
initiated in a half-hearted manner, without the 
safeguards required for effective implementation. 
In village Piparkund, a team of field 
investigators from the Delhi School of Economics 
found that labourers who asked for the minimum 
wage were summarily dismissed from the worksites. 
They also noticed other flagrant violations of 
the Programme guidelines.  For instance, the 
muster rolls were nowhere to be found, the 
"monitoring committees" were inactive, and 
children were routinely employed on NFFWP 

In Indore (24 May), public meetings were held 
among migrant labourers and slum dwellers.  Here 
as elsewhere, the Yatra's message on the right to 
work immediately struck a chord with the 
audience.  Labourers spoke about the hardships of 
seasonal migration - exploitation, health 
hazards, disruption of children's education, and 
survival problems in the city.  Assured 
employment in the village, they felt, was the 
only possible escape from this vicious cycle of 
exploitation and poverty.  In the evening, an 
open-air dialogue on employment guarantee and the 
right to work took place between the Yatris and 
some of Indore's distinguished citizens - 
intellectuals, trade unionists, lawyers, writers, 
scientists, among others.  Homi F. Dazi, veteran 
trade unionist and former Member of Parliament, 
welcomed the Yatra and placed the campaign for a 
full-fledged Employment Guarantee Act in the 
context of the larger struggle for workers' 

On 25 May, the Yatris were exposed to another 
dark side of rural India: large-scale 
displacement due to "development" projects 
especially large dams.  A public meeting was held 
in Udaipur (district Khargone), one of 14 
villages to be submerged by the Upper Veda dam. 
It is a lovely spot, where Adivasi families have 
built sturdy wooden houses surrounded by fertile 
land and splendid groves.  So far, they have been 
able to prevent the construction of the dam and 
they are determined to stop it unless a credible 
rehabilitation package (including "land for 
land") is put in place.  In the shadow of a large 
mango tree, the Yatris heard moving testimonies 
from Adivasi women and men who live under the 
constant threat of brutal displacement.  In this 
area, the Food For Work Programme has not been 
initiated at all, because of the submergence 

The day ended with further glimpses of shattered 
lives in New Harsud, where the inhabitants of an 
entire town were "rehabilitated" a year ago. 
After being forced to destroy their own homes in 
Harsud, the displaced families had to struggle 
with extreme hardships in this isolated spot, 
devoid of basic facilities such as water and 
sanitation.  Today, many of them have built new 
houses with the compensation money, but the 
houses are empty and lifeless shells because 
there is no work around.  "Unemployment is our 
main problem," said witness after witness at a 
public meeting held there late at night.  There 
was an overwhelming sense of betrayal in the 
audience, as the rosy promises made at the time 
of displacment turned out to be empty.

After the Bhopal convention on 27 May (convened 
by Jan Sangharsh Morcha), the Yatra will be 
making stopovers in Hoshangabad and Betul.  State 
conventions will be held in Nagpur (Maharashtra) 
on 30 May and in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) on 1 June. 
From there the Yatra will proceed towards 
Jharkhand via Bilaspur and Surguja.  Stay tuned.

For further information on the Yatra, including 
the full itinerary, see the special section on 
"Rozgar Adhikar Yatra" at


[6]   [Publication Announcements: ]


New title from *Three Essays Collective*:
(available from June 1)

*The Wrongs of the Religious Right*:
Reflections on Science, Secularism and Hindutva
by *Meera Nanda*


1. Secularism without Secularization: Reflections 
on the Religious Right in America and India
2. Hindu Ecology in the Age of Hindutva: The 
Dangers of Religious Environmentalism
3. Making Science Sacred: How Postmodernism Aids Vedic Science

About the Book:

Meera Nanda's book is an impassioned plea for 
secularization of mentalities. She compares the 
secular polities of India and America to argue 
that, faced with the current right wing assault, 
secular constitutions alone cannot guarantee 
secularism. She examines how India's major 
ecological movements have been reframed by 
Brahminical Hinduism with some unintended but 
crucial help from those within these movements. 
Her work shows the interconnections between the 
Hindutva scientism and national chauvinism, a 
factor crucial for its middle class support and 
its 'reactionary modernism'.

About the Author:

*Meera Nanda* is a John Templeton Foundation 
Fellow in Religion and Science (2005-2007). She 
is the author of 'Prophets Facing Backward: 
Postmodernism, Science and Hindu Nationalism' 
(Rutgers University Press, 2004), 'Postmodernism 
and Religious Fundamentalism: A Scientific 
Rebuttal to Hindu Science' (Navayana, 2003) and 
'Breaking the Spell of Dharma and Other Essays' 
(Three Essays, 2002).

120 p., Demy 8vo

81-88789-30-5 Paperback Rs150
81-88789-31-3 Hardcover Rs350

Three Essays Collective
P.O. Box 6 Palam Vihar
GURGAON (Haryana)
122 017

Tel.: (91-124) 5074079 and 236 9023
Mobile: 0 98681 26587, 0 98683 44843
e-mail: info at


Seminar Issue on Northeast India and the Look East Policy

The June 2005 issue of Seminar on the theme 
Gateway to the East: Northeast India and the Look 
East Policy has just come out and is available at 
bookstores. The contents of the issue are listed 

The issue will be available on Seminar's website 
after a few week.

Seminar 550 June 2005

Gateway to the East: A Symposium on Northeast India and the Look East Policy.

1. The Problem

Posed by Sanjib Baruah, Visiting Professor, 
Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

2. Northeast India in a New Asia

Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha)

3. Economic Opportunities Or Continuing Stagnation

Sushil Khanna, Professor of Economics and 
Strategic Management, Indian Institute of 
Management, Calcutta

4. Waters of despair, waters of hope

Sanjoy Hazarika, Managing Trustee, Centre for

Northeast Studies and Policy Research, New Delhi and Guwahati.

5. Prospects for tourism

M.P. Bezbaruah, Former Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

6. Operation Hornbill Festival 2004

Dolly Kikon, Member, Working Group, Northeast Peoples’ Initiative, Guwahati.

7. Guns, drugs and rebels

Subir Bhaumik, East India Correspondent, BBC, Kolkata

8. A historical perspective

Jayeeta Sharma, Assistant Professor of History, 
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA

9. Territorialities yet unaccounted

Karin Dean, Asia Correspondent, ‘Postimees,’ Bangkok

10. The Tai-Ahom connection

Yasmin Saikia, Assistant Professor History, 
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA

11. Community, Culture, Nation

Mrinal Miri, Vice Chancellor, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong

12. The Ethnic Dimension

Samir Kumar Das, Reader, Department of Political Science, Calcutta University


Reviewer: Nandana Datta

Durable Dusorder: Understanding the Politics of 
Northeast India by Sanjib Baruah, Oxford 
University Press, 2005

Reviewer: Dulali Nag

Towards an Asian Economic Community: Vision of a 
New Asia, 2004, (Ed) Nagesh Kumar. New Delhi: RIS 
for Developing Countries and Singapore: Institute 
of Southeast Asian Studies and

India-ASEAN Partnership in an Era of 
Globalization: Reflections by Eminent Persons. 
2002. New Delhi: RIS for Developing Countries and 
Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Reviewer: Bodhisattva Kar

Assam and India: Fragmented Memories, Cultural 
Identity and the Tai-Ahom Struggle by Yasmin 
Saikia, Permanent Black, 2005.

Reviewer: Nimmi Kurian

Making Sense of Chindia: Reflections on China and 
India by Jairam Ramesh, India Research Press, 2005

Reviewer: M.S. Prabhakara

Wooing the Generals:  India’s New Burma Policy by 
Renaud Egreteau; Authorspress and Centre de 
Sciences Humaines; Delhi, 2003; pp. x + 224;


Compiled by Sukanya Sharma, Fellow, Centre for 
Northeast India,  South and Southeast Asia 
Studies, Guwahati



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:

Sister initiatives :
South Asia Counter Information Project :
South Asians Against Nukes:
Communalism Watch:

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

More information about the Sacw mailing list