SACW | 31 May 2005
aiindex at mnet.fr
Mon May 30 21:15:45 CDT 2005
South Asia Citizens Wire | 31 May, 2005
 Kashmir: Peace facing a precipice - Hurriet
leaders should be allowed to visit Pakistan
 Slow train to Pakistan - Samjauta Express or
"Dawn to Dusk Express" (Rahul Chandawarkar)
 Press Release: Joint-Indo Pak Peace and Goodwill Mission Report
 India's RSS: The Real 'Terrorist' Cometh ? (Subhash Gatade)
 India: Rajasthan tourism's new line: welcome
to the state of Sati (Sandipan Sharma)
 India: Hindu right and its 'Right to
Trishul' [Harpoon] programmes on track in Orissa
 India: Space Agency technocrat to preside at Hindutva event
May 30 2005 | Editorial
PEACE FACING A PRECIPICE
HURRIET LEADERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO VISIT PAKISTAN
The much hyped and hoped for progress of the
Indo-Pak peace process suddenly finds itself on
the edge of a precipice. At least outwardly,
every thing was hunky dory till Islamabad
formally invited almost all the separatist groups
to send their representatives by bus to
Pak-administered Kashmir (PaK) on 2 June for a
thorough discussion on the future of this divided
and tormented state with the officials and
popular leaders of Pak and Pakistan. New Delhi
had already agreed not to raise any objection to
their visit, and has not said `No' so far. But,
all hell broke out as soon as Islamabad let it be
known that, contrary to the letter of the
agreement on the bus service across the LoC, the
visiting leaders from India would be allowed to
visit other parts of Pakistan to see the
situation there for themselves and to interact
with the leaders of as many parties and groups as
possible. Instead of welcoming the freedom
Islamabad had decided to extend to the visitors
from Kashmir the Ministry of External Affairs
(MEA) raised serious objection to the proposed
breach in the letter of the agreement. The MEA in
New Delhi made a serious issue of the Pak
proposal, and announced that none of them going
by bus to Muzaffarabad should be permitted to go
beyond PaK. They ignored Islamabad's admission
that, in the recent past, many Indian families,
on a visit to the PaK, had been allowed to visit
other provinces of Pakistan to meet their friends
and relatives there. So, what is the harm if the
separatists from Kashmir too enjoyed that
privilege? In fact, any one going to Mirpur in
PaK has to normally go to Rawalpindi on his way,
because there is no direct link between northern
PaK and its southernmost part. So a possible
violation of the letter of the agreement is
implicit in the agreement itself. So, why so much
of fuss over similar breaches by these separatist
leaders? Besides, these are no ordinary visitors.
They have been invited and allowed to proceed
with a certain purpose in view, and both the
countries are equally expected to make it easy
for them to see as much of and to meet as many as
possible in Pakistan. How will it adversely
affect India's interest if they went beyond PaK
to the Punjab or NWFP? If any of them is out to
harm India's interest he can do so while in the
PaK itself, without going any where beyond her.
In short, India's objection appears highly
As expected, Islamabad's official re-action to
the Indian objection is one of moral outrage.
They have accused India of 'stubbornness',
lacking in sincerity, and of being unwilling to
associate the Kashmiris in the forthcoming peace
process. The Pak foreign minister has used even
the language of despair and threat to let India
and the world know that Pakistan had 'softened'
her attitude only to prevent another repitition
of the past Indo-Pak wars, and would be forced by
India's attitude to once again raise the
fifty-five year old U.N. resolution in the
committee of nations. These contained enough of
hint of the unfortunate possibility of the peace
process ultimately leading no where in the face
of India's rigidity. The same rigidity over the
Pak proposal of an immediate demilitarisation has
already ensured the failure of the two-day
foreign secretary level talk on the Siachen issue
at Rawalpindi, last week. Unless New Delhi and
Islamabad learn to bend and to yield on occasions
future talks on Sir Creek, Baglihar, Kishanganga
etc. are likely to fail. If the two countries are
really interested in reaching the distant goal at
the earliest then they shall have to ignore or to
give up many things that they value in their
search for the greater good. By raising petty
objections they are only betraying their lack of
commitment to peace and friendship. It is,
however, encouraging to find the Prime Minister
ignoring Kasuri's angry response and expressing
his faith in seeking solutions through a dialogue.
Magazine | The Hindu - May 15, 2005
SLOW TRAIN TO PAKISTAN
Immigration forms in English, two lengthy customs
and immigration checks at Attari and Wagah and
eight hours to travel 42 km! That is how taxing
the Amritsar-Lahore train journey is.
EVEN as the successful first run of the bus
journey between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad is
being celebrated, we need to do an urgent rethink
on the manner in which the Amritsar to Lahore
train link is being conducted.
In November/December 2004, I travelled on the
Samjauta Express and I can say with complete
honesty that it is one of the toughest rail
journeys in the world. Not only does it try one's
patience, but it also saps one's mental and
physical energies with the paperwork and the
incomprehensible delays involved.
At the Attari railway station near Amritsar,
where one boards the Pakistan bound train, one
has to fill an immigration form in English! This
is ironical, considering that the 600-odd
passengers who travel on this train twice a week
speak mainly Hindi or Urdu. Many are illiterate
and have to beg fellow passengers to fill in
their forms. I filled a dozen forms on my way to
Pakistan and another dozen on my return to India!
The scheduled departure time of the bi-weekly
train which runs every Tuesday and Thursday from
Attari is at 1.30 p.m. That means the passengers,
who arrive by the "Attari Special" from Delhi at
6 a.m. have to wait seven hours before their
The immigration forms in English are distributed
around 9 a.m. And though there are several
counters, there are long winding queues. The
officials take their own time.
One portion of the three-part form is retained by
the Attari officials, the second has to be given
to the Pakistani officials at Wagah and the last
(the disembarkation form) has to be presented on
return to India. This immigration form is
superfluous, considering that every passenger has
a valid visa to visit Pakistan to begin with.
If that is not all, the customs check is yet to
commence. We are soon standing in long queues.
The over zealous officials want to check every
single bag right down to the last handkerchief!
Not surprisingly, the entire process takes over
It is soon 1.30 p.m., but there is no sign of the
train. Platform two at Attari is a sea of
A mother is pacifying two of her youngest
children from her brood of six, while an elderly
couple eats their roti and pickle meal in silence
in a corner. The Pune drama troupe, with whom I
am travelling, decides to rehearse its lines.
The Samjauta Express from Pakistan finally
arrives at 5 p.m., a good five hours behind
schedule. The 14-coach train arrives on platform
one, which is adjacent to where we are camping.
It is a smart green coloured train with Urdu
lettering. The two countries run their
locomotives and rakes in rotation for the 42-km
BACK TO INDIA: The return journey after a tedious
wait at Wagah. PHOTOS: RAHUL CHANDAWARKAR
The Pakistani tourists in distinctive salwar
kameez outfits are soon familiarising themselves
with the Indian immigration system. The long
lines have begun to form and the process we had
just experienced, is about to repeat itself.
When the Pakistani train finally arrives on our
platform, it is closer to six o'clock.
The train, except for a solitary bogie, is
unreserved. Seats have to be secured on a
first-come, first-serve basis. It is sad to see
old couples with large bags, being pushed around
by younger, stronger passengers in a rush for
Expectedly, we have to climb over bags and even
gunny bags to reach our seats. Despite being
crammed on an upper berth, a group of little
children seems cheerful. However, an old man
named Mohammed is pensive. He is travelling to
Multan to meet his deceased brother's family.
Mohammed is upset, as he could not meet his
brother when alive.
The train crawls out of Attari station at 6.30
p.m. Proceeding at a snail's pace, it reaches the
Wagah check post in Pakistan in about 30 minutes.
At Wagah, every passenger has to once again
disembark with bag and baggage for the Pakistani
round of immigration checks. You need nerves of
steel to put up with this rigour. The plight of
the older passengers can only be imagined. Only
the thought of meeting their near and dear ones
must be what keeps them going.
There are eight visa counters and it takes the
Pakistani officers five hours to clear the 600
passengers. It is midnight by the time the last
passenger wearily pushes his trolley out of the
After the last Lahore bound passenger has finally
boarded the train, it takes another 70 minutes
before the driver is given the green signal.
The only consolation is the potato samosas and
hot, piping tea. . It gives us a chance to use
our Pakistani currency for the first time.
The remaining journey from Wagah to Lahore is
covered in 30 minutes. When we enter the
majestic, century old Lahore railway station, it
is already 2 a.m. on Friday!
This way, we have taken eight hours to cover a
mere 42 km. Marathon runners are sure to find
Syed Murtuza Hussain, an executive from
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, however, doesn't think
so. He says, "The customs and immigration checks
were painful. It has taken me 29 hours to cover
the New Delhi-Lahore distance. This is not
My return journey from Lahore to Attari on
December 13 is no different. Our drama troupe
wakes up at the crack of dawn and reaches the
Lahore railway station at 6.30 a.m., just to
secure our seats. The train, however leaves only
at 9 a.m..
We reach Wagah at 9.30 a.m. and after the now
familiar, back breaking, leg cramping, five-hour
customs and immigration check, we reach Attari
only at 3 p.m.
By the time we lug our bags out of the Attari
station, past another set of elaborate
immigration checks, the sun has already set. The
customs officer, who is eyeing my Pakistani
Qawali CDs greedily, lets them pass after I make
In New Delhi, D.S. Mishra, Joint Secretary
(Foreigners), Ministry of Home Affairs,
Government of India, says, "The immigration forms
have always been in English. If people cannot
read them, they can get help from fellow
passengers." According to Mishra, his department
has not received any written suggestion from
passengers asking for a shift to Urdu and Hindi.
Mishra says, "The two immigration checks are
inevitable. These are international borders of
two sovereign nations. The two sides have to
follow their own prescribed procedures. We are
trying to streamline the procedures at our end."
If you ask me, they should do away with the immigration paperwork completely.
Also, they must consider rechristening the
Samjauta Express, as the "Dawn to Dusk Express".
Dear Sir / Madam,
Please find attached an urgent press release
about our event which took place at
St. Antony's College, Oxford.
Please open the attachment to view the version that includes photos.
Member of Joint Indo Pak Peace and Goodwill Mission
PRESS RELEASE: FOR URGENT RELEASE
"Living Together is Possible, we have shown it"
Claim Indians and Pakistanis.
Oxford, 27th May 2005. "It is only through
greater interactions between Indian and
Pakistanis that it will be possible to break down
stereotypes and fear, which can permeate down to
the unconscious level.", claims a report launched
by the Joint-Indo Pak Peace and Goodwill Mission
(JIPPGM) at a meeting held here in Oxford this
The JIPPGM a movement for people to people
contact in the subcontinent was initiated and
coordinated by Mr. John Prabhudoss, a US based
scholar of Indian origin.
The report is the outcome of the first ever joint
delegation of Indians and Pakistanis to the
subcontinent. 25 people from diverse religious,
national and professional backgrounds living in
UK, US and Canada that travelled to Pakistan and
India in December.
"The purpose of this joint mission was to
encourage the two neighbouring nuclear powers to
find peaceful solutions to their long standing
problems and to help create friendship and
goodwill between the people living on both sides
of the border", says the report compiled by a
member of the delegation, Miss Vanita Sharma, a
graduate student at Oxford University studying
the partition of British India in 1947.
"The delegates wanted to demonstrate that Indians
and Pakistanis could work together for peace, in
spite of differences in their professional
training, religious affiliations, cultural
background, national origin, political point of
views and personal experiences", the report
The report mentions that the delegates after
visiting Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore
crossed the Wagah border to enter India. At the
border they offered joint-faith prayers for the
victims of the partition in 1947 in which
thousands of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus were
killed. In India the delegation visited
Amritsar, New Delhi, Jammu and Mumbai.
In Pakistan the delegation met Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz, representatives of all major
political parties, the Mayor of Karachi
Na'matullah Khan, peace activists and several
other important personalities. In India it met
with the leader of UPA coalition government and
Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Home
Minister Shivraj Patil, former Prime Ministers,
journalists including the veteran journalist
Kuldip Nayyar and leaders of various political
parties and Chief Ministers.
The report describes in detail the meetings and
opinions expressed by various people in their
meetings with the delegation throughout the
visit. The report looks at the "people to people
movement" and examines how it could be supported
by initiatives relating to trade, education,
history, arts and culture.
In the second half, the report discusses the
current status of political negotiations between
India and Pakistan in general and the Kashmir
dispute in particular. The report also asks what
role the Indian and Pakistani diaspora can play
in the peace process.
The report says that, "the purpose of the
delegation was not to engage in political
discussions, but to focus on increasing
people-to-people initiatives and to argue that
whilst India and Pakistan continue their
political negotiations the people of the region
should no longer have to suffer and their rights
to meet, interact and live peacefully should
receive priority." The delegation lobbied for a
number of issues, including:
* Divided families should no longer be
kept apart and should be able to meet with each
* Innocent fishermen who have been imprisoned should be released.
* There should be an increase in travel
facilities - more train, plane and bus routes
should be opened up, in addition to re-starting
the ferry between Mumbai and Karachi.
* Trade should increase between the two countries.
* There should be a focus on improving the
economic conditions of the people - addressing
the problems of poverty and unemployment, as well
as the lack of infrastructure like running water,
electricity, housing and education.
* There should be facilities to aid the
elderly and disabled who cross the border at
* The visa process should be increasingly
liberalized and made less bureaucratic.
* There should be justice for human rights violations.
* The needs of the Kashmiri people should be focused on.
* There should be peace and stability to increase development aid
* Communal and hate propaganda should be
removed from school textbook and films.
* The needs of refugees should be addressed.
At the end, the report asks, what role is there
for the Indian and Pakistani Diasporas in the
The report says, "as people of Indian and
Pakistani origin now living in the West, we would
like to be able to give something back to the
region and we want to see more development
happening so the people there can benefit and
progress as much as we have in our countries. We
also became involved, because our experience of
living together as Indians and Pakistanis has
shown us that the potential exists to have good
and peaceful relations. However, our concerns
are also more personal, as we have witnessed that
poor relations between India and Pakistan can
often impact on community relations in our home
The leader of the delegation, Mr. Prabhudoss
said, he has planned to take a 'Joint Task Force'
made up of Indians and Pakistanis including
Kashmiris from both sides of all groups and
factions from the diaspora community to study the
situation on the ground and suggest a possible
solution to normalizing relations between the two
The Joint Delegation emphasised the need for both
governments to allow free movement of people
across the borders and let the people lead the
peace initiatives rather than politics. JIPPGM
has planned several programmes to bring Indians
and Pakistanis together. The Oxford meeting, was
organised by its UK members Cllr. Faizullah Khan
of Pakistani origin, Mr. Munaf Zeena of Indian
origin and Ms. Vanita Sharma of Indian origin.
The report can be downloaded from the group's website
May 30, 2005
THE REAL 'TERRORIST' COMETH ?
NEW DELHI: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
is furious with an American think-tank for
declaring it a terrorist organisation and lumping
it with a host of jihadi organisations and
The Sangh leadership has written to the Terrorism
Research Centre, protesting against the
"terrorist" tag, but is yet to get a response.....
The 38 shortlisted to give the Sangh company
include jihadi biggies like Lashkar-e-Toiba and
Hizbul Mujahideen which have been declared
Foreign Terrorist Organisations by the US.The
RSS's hardcore ideological foe, the
Jamaat-IIslami, too has found a place.
(US think-tank calls RSS terrorist, Sangh fumes,
Mohua Chatterjee, Times News Network[ Friday, May
27, 2005 08:18:15 AM ])
Last one week has seen a quantum leap in the
'hits' to a website belonging to Terrorism
Research Centre (TRC www.terrorism.com), a East
Virginia based centre dealing with 'Terrorism and
security related studies'. And the reason for the
same is not difficult to understand. It was only
last week that news appeared a section of the
press that TRC has declared Rashtriya Swaymsevak
Sangh (RSS) a 'terrorist organisation' and lumped
it together with a host of jihadi and
secessionist outfits.The said list of 'known
terrorist groups in India' on the website
bracketed RSS alongwith other 'known names' in
the field namely Al Badr, Al Mujaheedeen,
Lashkar-e-Toiba to the likes of ULFA to the Hizb
The most baffling part of the whole episode as
far as ordinary workers of the Parivar are
concerned is that TRC is closely connected to
the American government. The credibility of this
centre vis-a-vis US government can be gauged from
the fact that many of its directors and
researchers have closely worked with US
Coming close on the heels of the visa denial
episode wherein Narendra Modi was not allowed to
travel to USA by the US government, this much
larger indictment of the very raison detre of the
Parivar albeit by an institute close to the
powers that be has left the Sangh bosses seething
with anger.Ofcourse they have protested against
the "terrorist" tag, but according to a report
the "think-tank has not bothered to take the RSS
'which calls itself a cultural organisation' off
its website". It is worth noting in this
connection that it took more than eight months
for the RSS to formally react to this assessment
of the TRC. The delay between its appearance on
the TRC website and a formal protest from the RSS
cannot be easily explained.Why did the RSS and
its disciplined Swayamsevaks took it so long to
respond to the centre's observations about its
activities. Although the Times of India (Times
News Network[ FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2005 08:18:15 AM
]carried a report about the same in its print as
well as electronic edition, even a cursory glance
at the website of TRC tells us that the name of
the RSS was added to the list way back in
September 2004. Milli Gazette, a fortnightly
published from India even reported about the same
in its print edition in 16-30 Sept 2004 issue.
Is it matter of pure oversight or part of the
crisis of confidence through which the Sangh
Parivar is passing since its debacle at the
hustings last year ?
Possibly it was the same time when the Sangh
Parivar was passing through one of the most
keenly fought internecine struggles in its
history that it did not find time to respond to
this indictment.One can very well remember the
verbal duels between the 'conservatives' and the
'moderates' in the Parivar then where their was
even a proposal to float a party parallel to BJP
to defend Hindu interests. Quite recently the
media itself was privy to this 'ideological
struggle' within the Parivar when the Sangh
Supremo Sudarshan castigated Vajpayee as well as
Advani in no uncertain terms. He even termed
Vajpayee ( who wears his Swayamsevakatva on his
sleeves) as one of the worst Prime Ministers of
India and asked these oldies to make way for a
There is a Sanskrit subhashitam which tells us
that calamities never come alone. This definitely
fits well with the plight of the Hindutva brigade
Not only friends but its adversaries would admit
that the loss of power at the centre is weighing
heavily on the BJP and its fountain head the RSS.
And this indictment on part of the TRC is a
further indication of this.Gone are the days when
the Advanis or the Vajpayees fancied themselves
as the superpower's partner in the
"civilisational conflict' and when the ideologues
of the hindutva brigade waxed eloquent about the
strategic and natural alliance between the
Saffronites and the US. It is rightly said that
"[N]ot long ago Advani, sitting smugly in the
North Block, was giving the impression that
Washington was in his pocket, thanks to his
bonhomie with the zionists and fishy deals worth
billions of dollars with the Israelis... ." ( The
Milli Gazette, Published in the 16-30 Sep 2004,
print edition) But all that seems to be passe.
. . . The fanatics who spread violence in the
name of religion are worse than terrorist and
more dangerous than an alien enemy...
( Quoted in the Supreme Court judgement in the Best Bakery Case)
Ofcourse without going into the merits of the
Terrorism Research Centre's nuanced observations
vis-a-vis the RSS which demands a more detailed
treatment of the matter, it would we good if we
discern earlier records to see whether it is for
the first time that the hindutva brigade or any
of its allied organisations or their activities
have earned opprobrium under the 'terrorist'
It was only two years back that the US State
department added internet sites of certain
organisations to the 'foreign terrorist
organisations' list when "4 Jewish Web sites
deemed terrorist' (By Jerry Seper, THE
WASHINGTON TIMES)". Ofcourse the unusual alliance
between radical Jewish groups with Hindutva
groups bringing together two extreme religious
philosophies from different parts of the world is
premised on the fact that they share a distant
enemy namely the Muslims.The report stated :
Four Internet Web sites operated by two extremist
Jewish groups have been included by the State
Department on its list of "foreign terrorist
organizations" the first time the list has been
extended to includeInternet sites.
The listing, which went unnoticed when announced
Oct. 3 in the department's annual redesignation
of the world's terrorist organizations, includes
the four sites operated by the Kach and its
offshoot, the Kahane Chai, both of which have
been designated by the department as terrorist
Interestingly one of these www.kahane.org
has had an important relationship with
Hinduunity.org.( which 'Promotes and Supports
Ideals of Bajrang Dal : VHP youth with Bharat)
The Hinduunity.org site then still showed a
prominent hyperlink to the www.kahane.org
site.Secular activists in the states had known
for long that, the website of Hinduunity.org was
hosted by Kahane.org. on a common server and
bear the same IP address. The particulars
were:devserver.gwsystems.co.il (22.214.171.124) (
Ref.Notice recently published in the Federal
Register. (Federal Register: October 10, 2003
(Volume 68, Number 197) Page: 58738-58739))
Two and half years back secular activists in the
USA had after a painstaking work brought out a
report 'Funding Hate' which had exposed the
linkages between the funds collected by IDRF ( an
umbrella organisation floated by Hindutva
brigade) which collected money in USA and the way
the money thus collected goes into sponsoring
sectarian violence in India. A news item
published in 'Financial Times, London had boldly
stated 'Cut the flow of funds to instigators of
sectarian violence' (( INDIA'S HARD MEN, , page
16, 24 Feb. 2003 (no author's name given)). It
need be noted that it was not alone in raising
its voice against the modus operandi of the
Hindutva formations in Western countries which
supposedly had been aiding and abetting sectarian
violence at home. The report unambiguously stated
A year ago India was scarred by some of the worst
sectarian violence since partition, when up to
2000 Muslims were killed in pogroms in the
western state of Gujarat, ostensibly sparked by
an arson attack by Muslims on a train that killed
59 Hindu activists. Human rights organisations in
India, the U.S. and Europe implicated two
organisations in the well-orchestrated attacks,
the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu
Council) and its youth off shoot, the Bajrang Dal
(devotees of the monkey-god Hanuman).
Now a Finanacial Times investigation has
established that these groups receive extensive
funding from Indians abroad, collected mainly as
tax-free charity donations to front organisations
in the U.S. and U.K.. This fund-raising is
increasingly coming under scrutiny. So it should
- as should the links between these groups and
India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Behind the VHP and Bajrang Dal stands a
quasi-paramilitary body, the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS or Association of National
Volunteers), which is the mother organisation of
the Hindu revivalist BJP. Described by Jawaharlal
Nehru, India's first Prime minister, as "an
Indian version of fascism", the RSS is at the
centre of a protean network of front
organizations. This structure facilitates
arm's-length money-raising. It also makes it
easier for the RSS to deny it is inciting
agitation against Muslims and Christians.
Ofcourse IDRF (India Development and Relief
Fund), the US based charity organisation also
presented a report in defence of itself against
charges made in a report published last year that
it was closely affiliated to the RSS and raised
funds for sectarian causes in India.(Not funding
hate, says IDRF,Hindu June 15, 2003) but that did
not carry much ice and it was largely ignored in
..The modern day "Neros" were looking elsewhere
when Best Bakery and innocent children and women
were burning, and were probably deliberating how
the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or
protected. Law and justice become flies in the
hands of these "wanton boys". . .
( Quoted in the Supreme Court judgement in the Best Bakery Case)
It remains to be seen how the RSS is going to
react for its labelling if the 'Terrorism
Research Centre' sticks to its decision. There
could be many routes open before it but looking
at the tremendous flexibility in cyberlaws or the
'elasticity inherent in the concept of terrorism'
it cannot be said with guarantee that it would be
successful in its venture.
But can this 80 year old 'cultural organisation'
give a definitive answer to this query that is it
just a 'image problem' which has helped the
barrage of propaganda against it or there is a
lacunae in its worldview and the activities of
its own or affiliated organisations which gives
scope for its branding in different ways by
different people. Would the 'cultural
organisation' be ready for self introspection to
check whether it is just 'neo imperialist' bias
that the TRC people have woken up to its
'terrorist' nature or there are n number of
things in its own weltanshaaung as well as
organisational methods and planning which leaves
much to be desired and has helped others
formulate their position.
May 31, 2005
RAJASTHAN TOURISM'S NEW LINE: WELCOME TO THE STATE OF SATI
''Sati is now seen as a source of strength'' says
tourism minister Usha Punia, Sati sites listed in
JAIPUR, MAY 30: As the Uttar Pradesh government
tries to put behind its embarrassment over the
Banda Sati incident, the Rajasthan Tourism
Development has made Sati the state's USP.
In its latest guidebook, released on Monday, it
has invited tourists to visit some of the best
Sati temples in the country - never mind the flak
the Vasundhara Raje government recently took over
the naming of Jaipur Development Authority
approved Rani Sati Nagar.
In the book, titled Popular Deities of Rajasthan,
the department describes the state as
''best-known for various Sati Matas'' and goes on
to extol the virtues of women who are remembered
and revered for sacrificing their lives on their
husbands' funeral pyre.
Sample: ''There is not a spot in the state where
women had not committed Sati.''
''Brave women who sacrificed their lives for the
sake of sat (truth) are best known as Satis...
the Sati was not restricted by compulsions of
caste. Women from every caste committed Sati.''
The book, which was released by Tourism Minister
Usha Punia amid much fanfare, goes on to describe
the myths and legends associated with the Sati
temples in Rajasthan.
Consider the following:
* Rundera, Salumbar: Before committing Sati,
Krishna Devi of the Rathore clan sacrificed 24
body parts to the gods. The place got its name
because of the Sati committed by Krishan Devi
with Rathore Kallaji rund (body) in Salumbar
(near Udaipur) after a battle. This Sati is well
known as the Goddess of rains and the Goddess of
Nature. Several tribes of the region worship the
Sati in the lunar month of ashad (the period
before the rains). Visitors would find palm
prints of the Sati outside every house in the
* Rani Sati Temple, Jhunjhunu: The Sati from
Meham village is famous as the deity of the
region. Her name was Narayani Bai. She committed
Sati after her husband Tanmandhan Das died in a
battle, while fighting for the Nawab of Hissar in
* Ghevar Mata of Rajasamand: This goddess carried
the torch of sacrifice. It is said that when the
embankments of the Rajsamand Lake were being
constructed, they would collapse without any
reason. The embankment could be constructed only
after an astrologer asked the rulers to summon
Ghevar Bai, who committed Sati after placing a
stone in the foundation of the embankment.
* Bayan: Any unmarried woman who commits Sati to
protect her honour is called Bayan. Once a girl
from Merta (Jodhpur region) committed Sati with a
child. This place has a memorial to her.
Tourism minister Punia, who released the book,
defended the glorification of Sati in the
guidebook. ''Sati is now seen as the source of
strength,'' she said.
The devsthan (temples) department, however, said
it had goofed up in its portrayal of the Sati.
Its secretary, Ashok Shekhar, said the book was
an attempt to inform visitors about the public
deities of the state.
''We would withdraw the references to the Sati
temples, as they could be easily interpreted as
glorification of Sati,'' he said.
May 31, 2005
MORE TRISHUL DIKSHA PROGRAMMES PLANNED IN ORISSA
From S T Beuria
DH News Service Bhubaneswar:
The Patnaik administration's 'softened' stand on
the VHP-Bajrang Dal's plan to organise more
"Trishul Dikshas" has been strongly criticised
by the Opposition parties.
Encouraged by Naveen Patnaik administration's
u-turn on the issue, the VHP-Bajrang Dal combine
is now reportedly planning more 'Trishul Diksha'
programmes in the state.
The two Sangh Parivar members launched their
programme at the coastal town of Nimapara in Puri
district last week with distribution of
'Trishuls' to nearly 400 youths from the state
for protection of the Hindu religion.
They are contemplating to begin their second
round of the programme in the Assembly
constituencies of prominent state Congress
leaders. If Sangh Parivar sources are to be
believed, a programme will be organised at
Anandapur in tribal-dominated Keonjhar district
in the last week of June when nearly a thousand
youths from the area will be presented with
Trishuls. Anandapur is the constituency of PCC
president Jayadev Jena.
The Congress-led Opposition in the state has been
strongly protesting the VHP-Bajrang Dal's
decision. "The Hindus do not need Trishul Diksha
programmes to protect their religion. This type
of communal activity is only aimed at disturbing
and destabilishing the society", said leader of
the Opposition in the State Assembly and former
chief minister J B Patnaik.
The Opposition leaders are also extremely
critical of the state administration's "reversal
attitude" towards the programme. "The recent
statement of chief minister Mr Patnaik on the
issue is not only condemnable but also dangerous
for the state", said Bijoy Mohapatra, president
of the Orissa Gana Parishad (OGP).
Last year, the VHP had planned a Trishul Diksha
programme in the state in presence of Praveen
Togadia. The programme, however, was cancelled in
the last moment because of the hard stand taken
by the Naveen Patnaik administration.
But this time, the administration seems to have
gone soft on the issue. "We have no knowledge of
any law and order problem because of the VHP's
programme. If there will be any law and order
problem we will definitely take action", the
chief minister has said.
Kasturirangan likely to preside over RSS function
Hindu, India - May 28, 2005
28 (PTI): Noted space scientist K Kasturirangan,
is expected to preside over the concluding
ceremony of the third year camp of RSS volunteers
at Nagpur on June 5, according to Sangh
A total of 952 trainees from 38 'Prants'
(provinces) are participating in the month-long
Officers' Training Camp, which began at Nagpur
from May 9, the weekly said in its latest issue.
The RSS top brass including its Chief K S
Sudarshan, and General Secretary Mohan Bhagwat,
would be taking part in the function, the sources
Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
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