SACW | 29 Jan. 06 | Pakistan: Mullah's vs Marathon; Pakistani-Norwegians; Quake update; India vs Hindu Identity; A Hate festval
aiindex at mnet.fr
Sat Jan 28 22:41:44 CST 2006
South Asia Citizens Wire | 29 January, 2006 | Dispatch No. 2212
 Pakistani-Norwegians: Veil and Warning (Rafia Zakaria)
 Pakistan: Mullah's vs Marathon
It's only a race (Editorial, The News)
+ The Multi Mullah Alliance vow to stop mixed marathon (News report)
 Pakistan: Earthquake Update - 3.5 Months Later (Pervez Hoodbhoy)
 Pakistan - India: Delusions of equality vs the US (Praful Bidwai)
 India: Inventing a Past and'Looking for a Hindu Identity'(D N Jha)
 India - Gujarat: A disguised holy festival in Dangs (Dionne Bunsha)
 India: Press Release on Orissa Killings (JOHAR)
 An invitation to the World Book Fair New Delhi (27-4 February 2006)
Jan. 28 - Feb. 10, 2006
VEIL AND WARNING
by Rafia Zakaria
The mysterious death of Samira Munir, a Norwegian politician, in Oslo
comes as a chilling deterrent to Muslim women who speak out about the
violence against women in their communities in the West.
The assimilation sentiment manifests itself in the expatriate Muslim
community by the oppressive pressure placed on those that can be most
easily controlled, girls and women.
THE battle over headscarves in Europe appears to have claimed its first
human casualty. Samira Munir, a Norwegian politician of Pakistani origin
and the first Muslim woman to support a ban on headscarves in Norwegian
schools, died mysteriously after falling on train tracks in suburban
Oslo. On November 14, 2005, a Norwegian human rights group, Human Rights
Service, reported the news of her death, yet another catastrophe in the
blood-smeared landscape of European Islam.
Samira Munir's death is a chilling deterrent to Muslim women who choose
to speak out about the violence in their communities and aggressively
seek reform instead of conforming to the religiously "acceptable" forms
of rights discourse that are tolerated by Muslim communities in the
West. Samira Munir was unapologetic about her position and unwilling to
buy into the rhetoric of the liberated hijab (headscarf) increasingly
bandied about by many Muslims.
For this outspokenness, this political divergence from the much-lauded
camp of liberated Muslim women that celebrates the hijab as a voluntary
act of faith, Samira Munir was condemned to die under mysterious
circumstances. The terror of her last moments is amplified by the
ominous statements that she made prior to her death. She received
threatening phone calls on a daily basis and was being harassed by
Muslim men who accosted her on the streets and threatened to kill her.
The intimidation did not stop there: in interviews to Norwegian
newspapers Samira Munir spoke about feeling pressured by the Pakistani
Ambassador to Oslo, Shahbaz Shahbaz, who twice summoned her to the
Pakistan Embassy. The embassy visits were purportedly arranged to
"discuss her political views". Samira Munir also said that the
Ambassador had repeatedly mentioned the fact that "she still had her
family in Pakistan". The message implicit in the Ambassador's reminder
of this vulnerability has apparently become clear now.
Her voice was too loud and her commitment to women's rights simply too
threatening to be tolerated, and she was obliterated in the isolation of
a suburban Oslo train station. Here was a woman who had lived in Norway
for 20 years, a Norwegian citizen and a member of the Oslo City Council.
Only Norwegian newspapers reported her death. The Pakistan Ambassador,
so concerned about her political views in life, did not make any public
statement about her death. The Pakistani community, otherwise so vocal
in all matters affecting Pakistani-Norwegians, maintained a macabre silence.
Rumours are afloat that her death may have been a case of suicide, but
despite the existence of surveillance cameras in the train station no
definitive account of the cause of her death is available. Unwilling to
grapple with the complex political issues surrounding her death, most
people seem to welcome the assumption that she simply took her own life.
The death of Samira Munir lies at the epicentre of a gaping tension
between the religiously conservative Pakistani-Norwegian community
opposed to any restraints on cultural practices and the Norwegian state
accustomed to treating all things cultural as innately sacred and
unworthy of state intervention. In the middle of this chasm lie the
women whose interests Samira Munir was attempting to represent, the
young Pakistani-Norwegian girls alienated from their parents' culture
and prevented from identifying with Norwegian culture. In supporting a
ban on the hijab in Norway's public schools, Samira Munir sought to
establish for these girls the choice that many Muslim women who support
the hijab tout as their reasons for adopting it. In securing for them a
state-sponsored space that would allow them to develop as women
unencumbered with cultural and parentally imposed restraints, Samira
Munir sought to procure for them the ability to make a choice based on
their own beliefs rather than those of their parents.
It is in welcoming state intervention in developing such a space that
she was labelled as an enemy of Islam and a threat to the image of
solidarity that Norwegian Muslims sought to project to the Norwegian
In the wake of the controversy over headscarves in France, scores of
Muslim women have spoken out in defence of the hijab. Indeed, hundreds
of Norwegian Muslim women demonstrated in Oslo against implementing the
ban. Their remonstrations on behalf of the hijab focus predominantly on
two crucial aspects; first the notion that the hijab is a required tenet
of Muslim religious practice and second that they chose to wear the
hijab of their own volition.
However, the two prongs of the argument represent a problematic logic.
Even if the divergence of views on the hijab as a requirement of faith
is ignored, can such a requirement be constructed simultaneously as an
essential obligation of a practising Muslim and an act of free will? The
philosophical underpinnings of this complex inquiry provide only one
conclusion, the fact that school-age girls stand vulnerable to becoming
pawns in the hands of parents trying desperately to cling to the
traditional practices of their past and retain a cultural identity free
of Western influence.
Even a cursory analysis of the Norwegian Muslim community presents
significant evidence of pervasive anti-integration sentiments typical of
European Muslim communities.
The unwelcome communal burden of post-9/11 scrutiny in the guise of
anti-terrorism measures has promoted a victimised and beleaguered
self-image, deeply suspicious of the Norwegian culture that surrounds
it. Religious conservatives within the community frown on assimilation
and integration and often paint it as an abandonment of Islam and as the
adoption of the wayward ways of the West. In the summer of 2005, an Urdu
publication entitled Iblis ki Aulad (Children of Satan) was released
within the community by the All Pakistan Muslim Association. The author
of the book, allegedly a Pakistani mullah, not only attacks Norwegian
ethics and morality but describes all Norwegian children as illegitimate
and conceived "here and there".
Expectedly, the anti-assimilation sentiment manifests itself in the
community by the oppressive pressure placed on those that can be most
easily controlled, girls and women. The hijab thus becomes an effective
instrument of this control, a convenient means of extending the control
exerted by fathers, husbands and brothers in the private sphere into the
public sphere of school life. The tension between those that consider
the hijab a requirement of faith and those that do not is also
increasingly obvious within the Muslim community. Norwegian school
officials such as Anne Bech Skogen, the principal of a girls' school in
Oslo, report not only an increase in headscarves in girls schools but
also fights among Muslim girls in which girls not wearing the hijab are
called prostitutes. The tussles in the schoolyard represent an extension
of the battles against integration to an arena that should be devoted
solely to educational pursuits.
Also caught in this tumultuous current are hundreds of
Norwegian-Pakistani girls fleeing forced marriages who have been
contacting relief centres pleading for state protection against their
families. Like their counterparts in other West European countries,
these girls fear for their lives for flouting tradition. According to
newspaper reports, the girls, most of them under 18, are often brought
to the centres by their teachers in whom they confide. Despite being
given new legal identities, new addresses and portable alarms, many
report feeling threatened by their parents.
There is good reason for their fear. Months before the mysterious death
of Samira Munir, a 20-year-old Pakistani girl named Rahila Iqbal was
killed during a trip to Pakistan. In a gruesome set of events, Rahila
was lured to Pakistan under the guise of a conciliatory family vacation.
There, in rural Punjab, the unwitting Rahila was surreptitiously
drugged, then raped and drowned in a staged car accident at the behest
of her own family. The murderers included Rahila's mother, who conspired
against her to erase the shame brought upon the family by Rahila's love
marriage. The family members have since been indicted in Norwegian
courts and are facing criminal trial.
Rahila's killing was a crime of honour, fuelled by a desire to erase the
existence of a daughter who had chosen to reiterate her own will against
that of her family. Against the backdrop of such unabashed
commodification of women as emblems of family honour, the issue of hijab
becomes problematic and the question of state intervention in "cultural
matters" even more imperative. Should Western liberal states reconsider
their non-intervention policies towards Muslim minorities at the risk of
being accused of adopting imperialist and paternalistic attitudes
towards them or should the potential for the abuse of the rights of
Muslim women like Rahila endorse a proactive attitude towards
integration that justifies a ban on headscarves in public schools?
Some avenues to investigating these questions can be found in the
articulations of the European Court of Human Rights on the issue of the
headscarf ban in Turkish educational institutions. In 2005, a court
decided that Istanbul University's refusal to allow a female student,
Leyla Hasin, to wear an Islamic headscarf during an examination was not
a violation of her human rights. The court quoted a decision from the
Supreme Administrative Court in Turkey saying: "Beyond being a mere
innocent practice, wearing the headscarf is in the process of becoming
the symbol of a vision that is contrary to the freedoms of women."
Within hours of the release of the Hasin decision, Muslim groups in
Europe issued statements condemning the Islamophobia of the European
court. Among them was the extremist Muslim group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which
issued a statement that the verdict "had served to convince Muslim women
further that only the unification of Turkey and all Muslim countries
under an Islamic Caliphate state would guarantee the protection of the
rights and honour of women in the Muslim world". Other European Muslim
publications condemned the ban, accusing the court of "implementing
tyranny" and "being unable to deliver justice".
Such was the vitriol against which Samira Munir raised her voice. She
was not alone in being condemned for speaking out against practices she
saw as holding women back. Many women championing other causes related
to Muslim women have been singled out for intimidation and even
assassination. In Iraq, Zeena Al Qushtaini, the owner of Baghdad's best
known pharmacy, was killed for "working with women's activists and
wearing Western clothes". Her death followed those of Aquila Al
Hashimia, Nisreen Mustafa Al-Burawati and Amal al-Ma'amalachi, all
murdered for supporting women's rights. Yanar Mohammad, the head of the
Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq who opposed the replacement of
the existing Personal Status Code by Sharia law, has been threatened by
the Army of Sahaba (Jaysh Al-Sahaba).
In Afghanistan, five women have been killed in the past year for working
for aid organisations that support women's issues. In Pakistan, Zubeida
Begum, a worker for the women's rights group Aurat Foundation and an
active campaigner for women's right to participate in local elections,
was murdered by an unknown person as she slept in her house. In a recent
interview, women's rights activist Amna Buttar of the Asian American
Network Against Abuse (AANAA) reported being told by a top Pakistani
government official that "it is extremely easy for us to get someone
knocked off even on the streets of New York", clearly implying that
living in the United States was no guarantee for her safety if she
continued to speak out against rape and sexual abuse of Pakistani women.
On January 8, a delegation led by Asma Jehangir, the renowned women's
rights activist in Pakistan, was fired on by unknown gunmen, under the
watchful eyes of Pakistani paramilitary troops who refused to come to
the aid of the activists.
These threats and tragic deaths are indelible marks on the conscience of
Muslims everywhere. When Muslim women in the West raise their voices in
support of the hijab and proclaim their right to wear it, they must also
acknowledge the reality of the oppression faced by those Muslim women
who refuse to wear it. The fact that many Muslim women choose to wear
the hijab as an independent act of faith does not erase the subjugation
perpetrated on other women whose suffering is just as real if not as vocal.
The real causes for Samira Munir's death remain shrouded in mystery, but
the fact that she was singled out for threats and intimidation for
acknowledging both of these realities is exceedingly and unarguably
clear. It is only in unequivocally endorsing the freedom to oppose the
hijab that European Muslims can claim the right to support it.
Rafia Zakaria is a lawyer and member of Asian-American Network Against
Abuse of Women.
The News International
January 29, 2006
IT'S ONLY A RACE
Once again the MMA and the government are at loggerheads over the Lahore
marathon being held today. The MMA is bent upon stopping this 'vulgar
activity' from taking place at all cost. They have vowed to peacefully
line the racing track during the mixed marathon as their protest against
such 'satanic activities'. The first phase of this peaceful protest has
been demonstrated on Friday when the MMA workers clashed with the
police, the former pelting stones and the latter using teargas and
batons to gain control. Public property was wrecked and 10 policemen and
several workers were injured. Arrests were made which added further
determination to the MMA leadership to continue their protest against
Due to similar conditions created last year by this party, there has
been a decline in participants registering for the event from 17,000
from 16 countries last year to half the figure at 8000 this year. The
leadership said that there will be no protest if the women participants
raced within the confines of Gaddafi Stadium. To counter violence the
authorities have alerted rescue teams to handle any untoward incident
during the marathon.
Interference of the leaders of a religious-cum-political party in a
single sporting event isn't becoming of them. In fact it is ludicrous
that this party can find the time to protest and clash with the police
to stop 'satanic activities' such as sports, but doesn't have the time
to deal with real issues facing the masses. Instead of trying to
sabotage a sporting event restricted to Lahore, they should focus on the
more important issues such as the rise in prices of most consumer
products, rampant crime in society, lack of education and health
facilities, and unemployment.
The Lahore marathon shouldn't be made into a religious or moral
controversy. It is one of the few events where Pakistan can invite
foreign visitors to participate in and show them that Pakistan is not
the terrorist breeding ground that everyone thinks it to be. The MMA
should not view such events as 'satanic' or 'vulgar' but as an
opportunity for Pakistan to form congenial relations with other countries.
o o o
The News International
January 27, 2006
RELIGIOUS PARTIES VOW TO STOP MIXED MARATHON
By Our Correspondent
DIFFERENT reactions were seen in the City over the mixed marathon, to be
held on Jan 29. Religious parties, in particular, have pledged to stop
the marathon by force. AHLE Haddith Youth Force (AHYF) Thursday
announced that the mixed marathon would be stopped by force, and the
government would not be allowed to conduct such programs in the future
as well. AHYF leaders said the force had already chalked out its
strategy to combat the occasion. They said their workers were not afraid
of the arrests and the cases, and would give a tough time to the
government. The further announced to conduct rallies on Friday in
Lahore, Okara, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Kasur and Sheikhupura.
JAMIAT-E-ULEMA PAKISTAN PROTEST AGAINST MIXED MARATHON
JAMIAT-E-Ulema Pakistan activists Thursday staged a protest
demonstration against the mixed marathon and attack on Bajaur Agency
outside the Lahore Press Club.
While addressing the gathering, Malik Bashir Ahmed Nizami, Maulana Abdul
Rehman Noorani, Qari Manzoor Ahmed and Muhammad Usman Jamaati said they
would not let the racers to pass from different roads of the provincial
metropolis. They said by holding such race, the government was promoting
western culture in the country and the JUP would not allow it.
WORLD PASBAN KHATME NABUWAT TO PROTEST TODAY
World Pasban Khatme Nabuwat will stage a protest against mixed marathon
after Juma prayers in different places in the provincial metropolis.
This was stated by Nazim Aala Allama Muhammad Mumtaz Awan in a press
statement issued Thursday.
TEHRIKE ISLAMI PAKISTAN FLAY MIXED MARATHON
Prof Hafeezur Rehman Ahsan, Naib Ameer Tehrike Islami Pakistan, Hakeem
Abdul Waheed Salmani, Punjab Ameer, Nisar Ahmed Zahid, district ameer,
have strongly condemned the mixed marathon.
In a joint statement issued Thursday, they said there was no history of
such marathons which taught people obscenity but the rulers were trying
hard to promote western culture.
EARTHQUAKE UPDATE - 3.5 MONTHS LATER
Our work on earthquake relief and rehabilitation continues, albeit at a
slower pace because of snow and the freezing winter cold.
As of the present time, donations totaling approximately $425,000 have
been received by the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation (Princeton) and the Eqbal
Ahmad Memorial Education Foundation (Islamabad). This was far beyond
anything we had expected. We were quite stunned to receive a cheque for
$200,000 from an anonymous donor, who is most probably on this mailing
list, and would like to say a special thanks to him or her.
Approximately $250,000 of the received funds have so far been spent, the
bulk of this has gone towards the construction of 843 primitive shelters
(wooden frame with corrugated iron sheets on all sides and some basic
insulation on the inside). These are distributed across Kashmir and NWFP.
Prof. A.H. Nayyar and Mr. Iqbal Bali have put in a huge amount of effort
in assuring that purchased materials have been sent to the right people.
In addition, the reconstruction of 15 houses is in progress and some
relief materials are still being provided. We are tempted to use the
remaining funds for rebuilding of schools, over 16,000 of which were
destroyed or damaged. However, we are still exploring possibilities on
this point and cannot accept any more donations until we are clear about
this. In any case, no construction activities can seriously begin for
another 2 months because of weather conditions.
Having just returned from Batgram (in NWFP), I would like to share a
number of observations with you. Dr. Arif Mumtaz and I had gone there to
monitor the use of building materials supplied to two villages in that
area (Shinglipayeen, and another one further north). Among the
(1) Life has limped back to a kind of normalcy, but most people are
still living in tents in spite of the bitter cold. There are two
reasons. First, there are daily after-shocks. Most are small but enough
to scare. Second, and more importantly, people feel that if they somehow
fix their houses and move into them, they will be denied compensation
(if and when it comes) by the army authorities.
(2) We learned from residents of the two villages that the army has
distributed cheques amounting to Rs 25,000 ($425) to most, but not all,
villagers. This is a small amount and it is not known to the villagers
whether this is a first installment, or if it will be followed up by
others. Some think that there will be five more similar installments,
but nobody really knows. However, to cash these cheques requires a bank
account and almost no one has one. This explains why we saw an
incredible mile-long queue outside Habib Bank in Batgram town on the way
to Shinglipayeen. The bank's business hours are only between 9:00am and
12:00pm. People have stood outside for days on end. We were told that
one man froze to death just the night before. What a crying shame. How
can the bank people be so utterly callous?
(3) Relief has become a major industry. Aid agencies are present in huge
numbers now, and they have put up large banners along roadsides to
announce their presence. Islamic organizations predominate, but there
are several international organizations present as well: Turks, Cubans,
Chinese, UNICEF, USAID, World Food Program,... We saw Chinook
helicopters ferrying goods, but the flights are now far fewer than
before. There is less army presence in this area as compared to Kashmir,
where it is seeking to make a political point by being more active.
(4) All said and done, the forces of God have emerged as the true
beneficiaries of his Wrath. Jihadist organizations, which are formally
banned as terrorist organizations by the government now, have achieved a
new legitimacy and strength in the earthquake areas. They freely use
Pakistan army vehicles and facilities, display huge banners, and flaunt
their weapons. A month earlier, I had the opportunity to ask the army's
official spokesman in Islamabad how this could be permitted but did not
receive much of an answer beyond a shrug of his shoulders.
Other than Dr. A.H.Nayyar and Mr. Iqbal Bali, who were mentioned above,
those involved in the relief work include Dr. Abdul Hameed Toor, Dr.
Faheem Hussain, Dr. Khurshid Hasanain, Dr. Arif Mumtaz, Ms. Hajra Ahmad
(EAMEF), Dr. Zia Mian (Princeton, EAF), Dr. Sharon Weiner (Princeton,
EAF), and myself. We all thank you for your support, and look forward to
the time when the balance of funds goes to zero and our responsibility
come to an end.
With best regards,
Professor of Physics
Islamabad 45320, Pakistan.
The News International
January 28, 2006
DELUSIONS OF EQUALITY
The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and peace and
human-rights activist based in Delhi
One thing that most South Asian governments like to propagate is the
idea that their relations with a hegemonic power like the United States
are basically equal, dignified, more or less symmetrical, and based on
respect for national sovereignty. Sometimes, even otherwise sensible
people buy this -- to protect or soothe their national self-esteem.
Strategic analysts of course make a living out of prescribing how best
to use relations with the US to maximise national advantage within the
framework of 'equality'.
However, such equality, symmetry or parity is a dangerous delusion
especially in regard to Washington's present, nastily belligerent,
neo-conservative avatar. Both Pakistan and India discovered this
recently on issues that cut close to what their governments regard as
their eminent domain: sovereignty and security.
The January 13 US bombing of a village in Bajaur Agency, killing 18
people, delivered a rude message. Washington will do whatever it likes
to advance its interests; it alone will determine the methods; it won't
bother to consult 'friends'. In the present instance, the mere suspicion
that al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri might have been present in the Bajaur
village was enough for the US to rain 'Hellfire' missiles from its
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's protest that the action was conducted
without Pakistan's consent has had absolutely no effect in Washington.
Nor has his insistence that no terrorists were killed -- "where are the
bodies?" In fact, following his meeting with President Bush, Aziz
couldn't give a straight answer to the question as to whether the
bombing came up for discussion. Even leaving aside the speculation that
the US might have penetrated the Pakistan intelligence establishment,
and that the confusion over the incident is the product of divisions
within it, it is plain that the Americans don't treat the Pakistanis as
This is fully in keeping with US practice even within its close alliance
system, NATO. Washington has never accepted the idea that there should
be "two fingers on the trigger" -- its own, and its ally's.
Unilateralism is built into the way the Pentagon conceives and conducts
itself. It becomes even more virulent when the US deals with minor or
less important allies like Pakistan -- never mind the glorified
ascription, "Major Non-NATO Ally."
The Bajaur bombing had a precedent in overt and covert actions in South
Waziristan in 2004-05. Bajaur will, in turn, set a precedent for future
overt actions by the US in other Agency areas, or for that matter,
covert activities in Balochistan, the NWFP and Afghanistan too. All
assurances by Washington that it respects Pakistan's sovereignty and
will consult it in the future, which Aziz and President Pervez Musharraf
repeatedly cite, mean nothing. The only issue is whether the government
will be able to pacify the widespread resentment in Pakistan at US
India's experience with the July 18 'nuclear cooperation' deal with
Washington (variously described by its supporters as a 'coup',
'breakthrough' and a 'gift horse') has been equally unpleasant.
The agreement, which makes a one-time exception in the global nuclear
order for India, demands that India 'voluntarily' separate its military
nuclear facilities from civilian ones, and place the latter under
International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards in a 'phased manner.' But
at the end of the third round of talks on fleshing out the agreement, it
turns out that the separation is anything but 'voluntary' or determined
solely by India.
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who represented the US in the
January 19-20 negotiations in New Delhi, apparently told India that it
would have to seriously revise the list of civilian facilities if it is
to be 'credible' and acceptable to the US Congress, which must ratify
the July agreement.
According to reports, there are three stumbling-blocks. First, India
wants all 'research and development' programmes exempted from
safeguards. The most important of these is fast-breeders, special
reactors which use fission caused by 'fast neutrons' and, theoretically,
generate more fissile material than they consume. The US insists that
these be put on the civilian list and safeguarded.
Second, India would also like two civilian reactors at the Madras Atomic
Power Station (MAPS), built in the 1980s, to be exempted from IAEA
inspections. The Department of Atomic Energy's (DAE) rationale is
apparently that they would act as an additional source of unsafeguarded
plutonium in a future contingency. It's also possible that the MAPS
complex houses are testing facilities for the nuclear propulsion reactor
which India is developing for its nuclear submarine project. The DAE
wouldn't like any foreign inspectors near that 'sensitive' facility. The
US says no to exempting MAPS.
Third, India would also like to keep CIRUS out of the civilian list, a
small reactor built with Canadian and US help in 1960, which produces
weapons-grade plutonium. CIRUS was the source of the plutonium used in
India's 1974 'peaceful' explosion. It has since been used to produce
more fuel for nuclear weapons. India's case is weakest on CIRUS because
it was officially designated for 'peaceful purposes' under bilateral
agreements which India signed in the 1950s with the US and Canada.
Unless these are rescinded, it would be illogical and illegal to exclude
CIRUS from the civilian list.
To keep CIRUS in the list, India will demand the 'freedom' to build a
larger plutonium producer, dubiously citing 'economies of sale'. It
might give up the MAPS demand. But the fast-breeder issue will pose a
India has made such a mystique out of breeders -- and the idea of using
them at a later stage to burn thorium, of which India has plenty -- that
it will find it hard to retreat. India currently has one small
operational fast 'test' reactor and is building a 'prototype' 500 MW
reactor. But using thorium as fuel in nuclear-fission reactors is not a
commercial technology; it's only a theoretical possibility. India may
become a prisoner of its own illusion.
Illusions apart, the current negotiations show that India's assessment
of the nuclear deal's implications was unrealistic, even rosy. It really
thought this was an equal, reciprocal symmetrical deal, in which India
would have 'the same responsibilities' and 'the same benefits and
advantages' as the five NPT-recognised nuclear states.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told parliament on August 3 that the
civilian-military separation would not be imposed but would be 'decided
voluntarily and solely on our own judgment.' The identification 'will be
so phased that our strategic programme is safeguarded.'
DAE secretary Anil Kakodkar also clarified that "the determination of
what is going to be identified as a civilian nuclear facility is going
to be an Indian decision… taken at appropriate points of time… [I]n
identifying civilian nuclear facilities, we have to determine that they
were of no national security significance. We will do so this in a
phased manner. It is not a one-time determination."
But it's amply clear that even identification, leave alone actual
separation and safeguarding, won't be done in a 'phased manner.' That's
not how the Americans want it.
The deal is unlikely to be finalised before Bush's visit. It may even
fall through, unless India caves in to pressure and follows the American
script. So much for 'reciprocity' and 'equality.'
(South Asia Citizens Web - January 29, 2005)
LOOKING FOR A HINDU IDENTITY
by Dwijendra Narayan Jha
[Presentation at the 66th Indian History Congress, Shantiniketan,
January 28, 2006]
I am deeply beholden to the Executive Committee of the Indian
History Congress for electing me its General President for its 66th
session. In all humility I accept the honour conferred on me, but,
conscious as I am of my limitations, I treat it as encouragement to
one who has been involved in the ongoing battle against jingoist,
communal and obscurantist perceptions of India’s past. I therefore
propose to draw your attention, first, to the distorted notion that
Indian national identity can be traced to hoary antiquity, and then
to the false stereotypes about Hinduism which have no basis in
history and yet feed Hindu cultural nationalism.
The quest for India’s national identity through the route of Hindu
religious nationalism began in the nineteenth century and has
continued ever since. In recent years, however, it has received an
unprecedented boost from those communal forces which brought a
virulent version of Hindu cultural chauvinism to the centre stage of
contemporary politics and produced a warped perception of India’s
past. This is evident from the indigenist propaganda writings which
support the myth of Aryan autochthony, demonise Muslims and
Christians, and propagate the idea that India and Hinduism are
eternal. In an effort to prove the indigenous origin of Indian culture
and civilisation it has been argued, though vacuously, that the
people who composed the Vedas called themselves Aryans and were the
original inhabitants of India. They are further described as the
authors of the Harappan civilisation, which the xenophobes and
communalists insist on rechristening after the Vedic Saraswati. Such
views have received strong support from archaeologists whose
writings abound in paralogisms; and from their followers, whose
works are dotted with fakes and frauds, a notable instance being the
attempt to convert a Harappan “unicorn bull” into a Vedic horse so
as to push the clock back on the date of the Vedas and thereby
identify the Vedic people with the authors of the Harappan civilisation.
[. . .] .
READ THE FULL TEXT IN PDF AT: http://www.sacw.net/India_History/index.html
Volume 23 - Issue 02, Jan. 28 - Feb. 10, 2006
CREATING A KUMBH
by Dionne Bunsha
in the Dangs
The Sangh Parivar's move to organise a new Kumbh Mela in the Dangs
district of Gujarat exacerbates the tensions in the communally sensitive
tribal area, which has a sizable Christian presence.
The new Shabari Dham temple built on Manad Powar's land.
How Lord Ram destroyed demonic forces like Ravan
Today, demonic forces are trying to destroy Hinduism (picture of
a church with a cross)
To confront them and to create religious awakening
The Shabari Kumbh Mela calls out to everyone.
... It will try to get all parts of society to unite with Hindu
And will stop conversions.
From a promotional video for the Shabari Kumbh Mela in the Dangs, Gujarat.
SOUNDS like a call for religious war? It may well be. A targeted
communal attack disguised as a holy festival.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has created a fifth Kumbh Mela, the
Shabari Kumbh Mela, in the Dangs district. The festival is being used to
build up tension and intimidate Christian Adivasis in this isolated
forest region in south Gujarat.
For several years, local VHP leader Swami Aseemanand has led a vicious
campaign against Christians of the area. In 1998, there were 38 attacks
on Christians in a span of three weeks. Since then, organisations
affiliated to the Sangh Parivar have worked to create hostility towards
them. The Shabari Kumbh Mela is one more step in that direction. The
propaganda on the website of the organisers and in their promotional
video states that the event is meant to fight the influence of
Christianity in this area and `awaken' Hinduism amongst the tribal
people. Hindu jaage, Christi bhaage (Hindus awake, Christians run) is
the slogan being used.
The strategies of oppression are planned systematically. In 2002, they
invited Sant Morari Bapu for a Ram Katha. In his speech, Morari Bapu
said that there should be a Kumbh Mela here at the place where Rama met
his Adivasi devotee Shabari. The Sangh has been propagating the myth
that Rama met Shabari here and ate the wild berries that she had tasted.
However, there is no historical evidence, nor is there any religious
precedent, of a Kumbh Mela having been held here. For centuries, there
have been only four Kumbh Melas. Suddenly, a fifth one has been created,
based solely on Morari Bapu's declaration - and with a clear intent to
From February 11 to 13, the Sangh plans to get more than five lakh
pilgrims for this event. The total population of the Dangs district is
just a little over two lakhs, almost entirely Adivasi. So, the entire
district will be swamped with the Sangh's supporters. The event is being
marketed in the cities of neighbouring States as a new religious tourism
Jarsol Dahad, a small pond in Subir village, has been renamed `Pampa
Sarovar', the place where Rama met Shabari. A place that has seen no
development for decades is suddenly awash with funds. The government has
built 12 check dams to make sure there is enough water in the `Pampa
Sarovar' for pilgrims to bathe. Village roads are being tarred. Piped
drinking water and electricity are being brought to places where there
has been none so far. Tents, water tanks and toilets are being put up on
farmlands, paying villagers a mere Rs.300 as rent for. If people are not
willing to rent out their land, local officials intervene on behalf of
the mela organisers. Forty temporary townships, to accommodate 5,000
people each, are being constructed.
Surrounding villages have been swamped with Sangh activists. In Subir,
they distribute free meals, grains and clothes to villagers. Activists
are visiting villages to mobilise supporters. They are intimidating
Adivasi Christians and taking photographs of their homes and of
Christian institutions such as schools and dispensaries. The local All
India Radio broadcasts Morari Bapu's speech every evening. Audio-visual
vans tour the villages, screening the promotional video and the Ramayana
TV serial. A tense situation prevails in the villages. People refuse to
speak about the mela. Rumours are rife that Christians will be attacked.
The "Pampa Sarovar" lake built for the Shabari Kumbh Mela.
"Swami Aseemanand's supporters come here and tell us that everyone
should become a Hindu. There shouldn't be a single Christian in this
village," said Sonu Powar (name changed), an Adivasi Christian farmer in
Jarsol village. "There are rumours that there will be a riot. People
will come from outside and the police will not stop them."
Threats began many months earlier. Shimbuben Powar (name changed) was
filling water when Sangh activists came to her home a few months back.
"My little son was home. They entered my house and tore the picture of
Jesus. I rushed back. They told me, `If you don't follow Ram, you will
be finished in the Kumbh Mela. Even the police won't save you.' They
took photographs of me and of our house," she said. When Shimbuben
reported it to the police, they took down the names, but did not lodge a
complaint. Earlier this month, some women came back to her house and
told her to stop believing in Jesus and follow Rama.
The newly constructed "Pampa Sarovar" and Shabari Dham temple are both
built on land grabbed from Adivasis, villagers allege. The Shabari trust
has snatched Sonu's land near the "Pampa Sarovar". The government has
done nothing to stop it. Instead, villagers allege that it is assisting
the land grab. "Government officials came and surveyed my land. They
said they wanted to find out how much was mine and how much was
protected forest land. I told them that I had the title deed as proof,"
said Sonu Powar. But they did not listen to him. They have let the land
be used as a tourist spot. "The swami's supporters fought with me and
told me to give the land to the swami. They even filed a police case
against me for fighting with a shopkeeper." If the land is protected
forest, then why is the government turning it into a tourist playground?
Manad Powar had 3.5 hectares of land on a hill known as Chamak Dongar
(shining mountain). When the Shabari trust wanted to build a temple
there, it asked Manad to sell one hectare for Rs.40,000. But it occupied
the entire 3.5-hectares. "I still have title to the land. But now if I
go there, the security guards threaten me. I am alone here, my sons work
in the cities. I can't fight them. They even cut 100 trees that I had
planted to make a road to the temple," Manad said. "They made my cousin
a member of the Shabari trust and claim the land is in his name." Manad
is now planning to fight his case in court.
"We have taken people's consent for using their land. Anyway, the land
is not being used after the monsoon crop," said Suresh Kulkarni,
secretary of the Shabari Kumbh Samaroh Ayojan Samiti. He said the main
aim of the Kumbh was to awaken Hinduism. He said he had not seen the
Shabari Kumbh website, which spews venom against Christians. When asked
if any historical proof existed that Rama came to this exact location,
he said: "We know because Morari Bapu said this is the spot. And the
Ramayan is proof enough. We are organising it on February 11, because
that is Mag Panchami, the day when Ram and Shabari met. Also, the
Adivasis celebrate Basant Panchami at this time."
Amidst bamboo poles put up in a farm for tents, a Bhil tablet depiciting
symbols of nature. The Sangh Parivar simply assumes that all tribal
people are Hindus.
Local Member of the Legislative Assembly Madhu Bhoye has been
petitioning the District Collector and other officials to prevent any
communal trouble and forest destruction. "Innocent Adivasi people are
being misguided by so-called religious organisations by propagating the
imaginary mythological story of the Pampa Sarovar. There is no mention
of the Pampa Sarovar in the history of the Dangs," he said. Explaining
the environmental effects, Bhoye said: "In the last few months, illegal
timber felling in the forest has also increased because outsiders have
come here to prepare for the Kumbh. Every day, Rs.10-15 lakhs worth of
timber is being stolen from the forest."
But the government's only response to the upheaval in the district has
been to expedite all work connected with the Kumbh. District Collector
R.N. Jadhav estimates that Rs.3 to 4 crores has been spent on the
building of check dams and roads and the laying of pipelines. "We would
have done it anyway even if the Kumbh was not there," he said. Jadhav
says there will be no trouble during the mela. When asked why no action
has been taken even though the Kumbh's promotional video spews
anti-Christian propaganda, he says: "I have not received any complaint,
so why should I take any action?" Meanwhile, human rights groups have
filed a case in the Supreme Court seeking its intervention to ensure
that people from minority communities are protected, in view of the hate
The Sangh's promotional video warns that the rate of increase of the
Christian population in the Dangs has been fourfold. It points out that
Christians constitute only 0.44 per cent of Gujarat's population, but
are 5.43 per cent of the population in the Dangs. "History has shown us
that places where the Hindu majority has weakened have become hotbeds of
terrorism and anti-national activities," the video says. The Sangh is
generating fear to gain political and economic control of this rich
forest area. Even today, money and muscle power are used to gain support
in the villages. Traditional bonds between communities are being torn.
Contrary to the Sangh's myth, Adivasis are not being converted forcibly.
Most turn to the church for health reasons. "My father and I kept
falling ill. There was some bad influence on us. We went to the local
bhagats who made us spend money on killing one goat every month. Yet, it
didn't work. So my uncle took me to a local Christian priest and I felt
some peace. We got better without paying anything," said Ramesh (name
changed). While the Sangh wants to `re-convert' Christians, they were
never Hindus to begin with. Adivasis have their own festivals and
rituals in which they worship nature. Their religious practices are very
different from the brahmanical brand of Hinduism that the Sangh wants
them to follow.
But regardless of facts, the myths continue to be propagated. The show
will go on. The swamis and Sanghis are all set to take the Dangs by
storm next month. All indications are that it may not be as innocuous as
just a dip in the pond.
Jharkhandi’s Organisation for Human Rights
Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee
28th January 2006
With deep anger, pain and a determination to fight for full justice,
J.M.A.C.C and J.O.H.A.R. place before you the report of our Fact Finding
Team that visited Kalinga Nagar Orissa immediately after the massacre.
The team’s conclusions are a frightening exposure of the fact that our
governments are prepared to use landmines to kill our Adivasi people in
order to support the globalisation process. This message is a clear
signal that today it is the Adivasis of Kalinga Nagar; tomorrow it will
be other exploited classes of Indian society.
The report brings to you the following facts:
1. The massacre was pre-planned.
2. Landmines were placed in advance to trap and kill innocent people.
a. As one villager tripped this wire the mine exploded injuring him and
two others and this started the chaos and confusion.
3. The Adivasis did not come armed for a conflict hence the question of
bow & arrows is an attempt of the administration to cover their criminal
4. The Adivasis were in possession of the land and hence the entry of
the armed band of Tata Co. workers and Government officials was illegal.
5. The Tata Co. is criminally involved in this massacre and their
silence and plea of neutrality is that of an absconding criminal.
a. This crime will blur the Centenary Celebrations of TISCO Jamshedpur
to begin in June this year.
6. The Tata Co. did not have the mandatory Environmental Clearance from
the Ministry of Forest and Environment. Hence the land could not be
transferred to them.
Actions that J.M.A.C.C. and J.O.H.A.R. pledge to take:
1. A team of our people is already in Kalinga and hundreds more are
leaving to make the 30th January rally there a big success.
2. The ‘sassang diri’ and ‘kei umbul’ death ceremonies of the Ho tribe
will be performed in all villages in Singhbhum from the 30th January
onwards for the coming one year.
3. The relatives of the death will be honoured at the Birsa Jayanti Day
on 9th June in Ranchi this year.
4. J.M.A.C.C. and J.O.H.A.R. are launching a long drawn campaign under
the slogan “No Blood for Minerals” and “Justice for Adivasis” from 30th
January at the mass rally in Kalinga.
5. The campaign will seek donations of Rs. 100/- to a fund from all our
Adivasi brothers and sisters in ever corner of this world. We aim to
collect Rs 20 lakhs from which Rs. One lakh will be given to the
families of each victim in support of their refusal to accept the money
the Orissa Government has tried to compensate them with. Rs. 8 lakhs of
this fund will be used to build a fitting memorial on the land where our
12 brothers and sisters were martyred. This means that we support the
decisions of the local organisation not to allow Tata Co. to build the
6. If we collect more funds it will be used for the following purposes:
a. Employ the best legal brains in the World to reopen the the
b. The Gua Massacre on 8th September 1080
c. The Banjhi Massacre on 16th April 1984
d. The Koel Karo Massacre on 2nd February on 2001
e. And any other State violence that the money permits us to handle.
7. We appeal to all Adivasis and Jharkhandi loving people to support
this fund which will be advertised in all the Hindi and English
newspapers and TV stations.
8. We make a special request to the owners of the print and electronic
media to give our advertisement free space for this purpose and thereby
show their sympathy to our cause.
9. J.M.A.C.C. and J.O.H.A.R. will be launching an International counter
campaign to the ‘Tata 100 Year Celebration’ on the same lines that the
Indigenous Peoples from all over the world opposed the ‘500 Year
Celebrations of the arrival of Christopher’. Therefore we call on the
Tata Co. to accept the criminal responsibility for the Kalinga Massacre
and call off all programmes and celebrations for their Centenary year
and use the Millions of rupees they have budgeted for this instead to
build a Kalinga memorial in Jubilee Park Jamshedpur.
Adv. Chandrabushan Deogam
*Three Essays Collective* invites you to
to visit the World Book Fair
(27 January-4 February 2006)
at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi
We are located on the Mezzanine Floor, Hall No.18
Best way to reach us is to use Gate No. 8
and take the escalator from the main entrance of the hall.
*Three Essays Collective *is a member of
Independent Publishers' Group (IPG)
And we are displaying books together on the
*Stall Nos. 470-474, Hall 18
IPG Members and Associates:
Daanish Books, Leftword Books, Samskriti, Social Science Press,
Stree/Samya,The Book Review Literary Trust, The Little Magazine, Three
Essays Collective, Tulika Books, Women Unlimited, Zubaan
Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
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