SACW | October 14-18, 2009 / Fissures in Pakistan / Bangladesh: Everyday Patriarchy / Common Currency for South Asia / India: Violence; Football in Kashmir
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Sun Oct 18 05:02:19 CDT 2009
outh Asia Citizens Wire | October 14-18, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2661 -
Year 12 running
[ SACW Dispatches for 2009-2010 are dedicated to the memory of Dr.
Sudarshan Punhani (1933-2009), husband of Professor Tamara Zakon and a
comrade and friend of Daya Varma ]
(i) The holes in Pak’s heart (Ayesha Siddiqa)
(ii) Top Pakistan university to ban kissing (Issam Ahmed)
 Bangladesh: Women repression unabated despite stringent law (Alpha Arzu)
 South Asia Should Move Forward With a Common Currency - Amritsar
Statement by UNESCO goodwill Ambassador Madanjeet Singh
 India: Violence by Hindu Fundamentalists in Goa - Tackle
terrorists with iron hand (Editorial, Herald)
 India: What has Driven the Tribals of Central India to Political
Extremism? (B.K. Roy Burman)
 India: Guilt by Association (Bobby Kundhu)
 India Administered Kashmir: Game interrupted (Muzamil Jaleel)
(i) Appeal to join public meeting (New Delhi, 20 October 2009)
(ii) XVII Safdar Hashmi Memorial Lecture 2009 (New Delhi, 23 October 2009)
October 17th, 2009
THE HOLES IN PAK’S HEART
by Ayesha Siddiqa
The recent attack on General Headquarters (GHQ) and Thursday’s attacks
in Lahore and Kohat and the Pakistan government’s response to these
incidents reminded one of the days after the terrorist attack on
Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel.
There were some in the government who referred to the incident as
Pakistan’s 9/11. While that particular date in American history can be
interpreted in several ways, its greatest significance lies in the
fact that it brought the state and society in the US on the same page
as far as fighting the war against terror was concerned. Did we manage
to achieve this consensus on September 20 last year? Perhaps not.
But this is where the catch lies. The enemy is far more intelligent
than what some of our television commentators would like us to
believe. In the GHQ case, the terrorists not only understood the
strategic value of attacking at the heart of the Pak Army’s power
base, they also appeared to understand the chasm between the state and
society and within the state at several levels. The attackers
understand the civilian-military divide better than a lot of people
who talk about a new era of civilian-military relations in the country
and boast about the two sides being on the same page.
They probably understand that the civilian government might pretend to
be powerful but that it depends on externally borrowed power and that
in the case of friction between the two centres of power, it is the
civilians who would back off. This was most obvious from the fact that
instead of raising some critical questions after the attack on GHQ,
all that the President and Prime Minister could do was congratulate
Gen Ashfaq Kayani on the excellent handling of the crisis.
There is no doubt that the nation is saddened by the death of unarmed
officers and soldiers, and supports any action to punish those who
carried out the attack. But the entire event ought to be discussed
threadbare without any mudslinging. Why was it that 10 men penetrated
a highly guarded area and remained ensconced in GHQ for about 19
hours, especially when the Army’s high command was in the premises?
There are two important issues here. First, the Pakistan Army, which
is trained mainly in conventional warfare and fighting state forces,
is not well trained in counter-insurgency operations. This explains
why despite being armed with G3s and other types of infantry equipment
the force guarding GHQ could not respond properly. Hence, this
capacity must be beefed up at the earliest.
Second, the connection of the key planner Aqeel, alias Dr Usman, with
the Army medical stores is a reminder of the problem that could
perhaps prevail in pockets inside the rest of the military. This
pertains to the religio-political inclinations of individual civil and
military officials and officers that directly or indirectly support
Aqeel’s is not a unique case. Earlier there was Major Haroon Ashiq
alleged to be involved in the murder of Gen Faisal Alavi. He was
linked with one of the Punjab-based militant outfits. His capture led
the police and agencies to other retired officers who had split from
the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and were waging “jihad” on their own. We must
also not forget the Air Force officials and officers involved in the
first attack on the former President Pervez Musharraf. Reportedly, the
agencies were forced to go deep within the PAF in search of people
connected to different militant outfits or the Tableeghi Jamaat.
At this point, how sure are we that all older links between the
jihadis and individuals in the police or military have been snapped?
Instead of eulogising the Army, Parliament should be carefully looking
at and questioning the old linkages from the perspective of having a
handle on the problem of “jihadism” and what it means for the state.
Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general Maj. Gen.
Athar Abbas stated that the attackers had planned to use the hostages
to negotiate the release of about 100 terrorists. Reportedly, there
are about 400 terrorists in different jails. Some of the more
high-profile detainees are believed to include Malik Ishaq, head of
the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) and Qari Saifullah Akhtar, head of the
Hizb-ul-Jihad Islami. The government must now look at its preparedness
and the capacity to protect its high-value detainees.
Although the military and government now seem inclined to consider
other reasons for the attack, such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
trying to avenge Baitullah Mehsud’s death, the rescue of high-value
terrorists seems to be the primary reason, which must not be ignored
at any cost. It must not be forgotten that the attack on the Sri
Lankan team in Lahore was also meant to take hostages who could then
be exchanged for top jihadis. Sources even claim that the LJ’s Malik
Ishaq was involved in the earlier case and had decided to use the
attack to get himself freed after the elected Punjab government failed
to deliver on a mutual agreement between LJ and the PML-N leadership.
What’s equally interesting is the fact that there is an effort by
those in power to ignore or divert attention from areas which are as
infested with extremist militants as Fata and the tribal areas. The
sudden effort to get policemen from most districts of south Punjab to
deny the existence of the jihadi problem in their areas is a reaction
similar to when the government denied the Pakistani connections of the
Mumbai attackers even before investigating the matter. The denial is
strange since most of the attacks in Punjab or the federal capital are
believed to be provoked or carried out by Punjabis or Punjab-based
Perhaps the fear is that this might divert international attention
towards Punjab or make ordinary Pakistanis think about the reasons why
jihadis have spread terror across Pakistan and not confined themselves
to the tribal areas as the authorities would like us to believe.
Interestingly, even the ISPR’s emphasis is that the attack might have
involved Punjabis but that it was carried out at the behest of the
It is indeed important to fight militants in Waziristan who are
influenced by Al Qaeda, but why does it have to be at the cost of
ignoring the Punjab-based outfits who are proving to be good hosts for
the terrorist network? Sources believe that Al Qaeda has trickled into
areas bordering Punjab. These outfits operate beyond the
Pakhtun-inhabited tribal areas and their threat is evident from the
sectarian killings in Dera Ismail Khan and other places.
There is a possibility that the civilian government might lose the
initiative in an urge to appease the military and the latter might
just lose the initiative to act against those that were part of the
GHQ attack for unexplained strategic reasons. This raises the question
of how much bloodshed would there be before strategic re-evaluation.
The writer is an independent strategic and political analyst.
o o o
Christian Science Monitor, October 14, 2009
TOP PAKISTAN UNIVERSITY TO BAN KISSING
by Issam Ahmed | Correspondent
The Lahore University of Management Sciences promises to prohibit
public displays of affection after a highly publicized peck on the
cheek exposed deep fissures in Pakistani society.
When an unsuspecting female student at Lahore University of
Management Sciences turned to peck her boyfriend on the cheek during
the Islamic holy month of Ramadan last month, she probably thought her
private moment would remain just that.
Instead the kiss – which a fellow student witnessed, documented,
and then blasted in an email to the entire university as part of her
"dossier" on campus PDAs (public displays of affection) – has sparked
a passionate, headline-grabbing debate about how conservative
Pakistani society should be.
The vigilant student, Tajwar Tashfin Awan, sent the mass email in
an effort to generate support from students and the administration,
which has since promised to "see any PDA go the route of the dodo."
Instead, in the past several weeks it has generated hundreds of
replies invoking anger, humor, and famous philosophers on what is
normally a quiet listserv.
The brouhaha at LUMS, Pakistan 's premier educational institution,
points to the drastically different ideological directions in which
youths across the country are being pulled, says Asif Akthar, the
Lahore-based blogger who first reported the story and is now a
research assistant at the university.
"I think [the debate over the kiss] signifies a conflict between
different cultural identities and shows there is something unresolved
there," he says.
LUMS's leafy campus, located in a heavily fortified compound in
the posh Defence neighborhood of Lahore , has stood out in Pakistan as
a place where students of all stripes seem to coexist. Dressed in
everything from burqas and shalwar kameez to tank tops and skinny
jeans, and drawn mostly from the upper-middle class, the student body
goes on to hold top jobs in finance, industry, law, and software
engineering. Many continue their studies in the West.
"At LUMS, you'll find people of all ideological persuasions
studying and living together easily. There's a deeply secular
community. There are religious ascetics who believe in a more tolerant
form of Islam. There are Deobandis [an ultraconservative branch of
Islam], and there are Marxists," says Ammar Rashid, a recent graduate
and now research assistant in social sciences.
LUMS has also been more open about men and women studying together
– in contrast with some government-run universities, such as the
University of the Punjab also in Lahore , where "free-mixing" between
the sexes is frowned upon and in some instances violently opposed by
the Islami Jamiat Talaba, an Islamist student group.
But as the kissing scandal shows, the fissures of a society in
flux run through LUMS as well, says Mr. Akhtar. "In a country where
there's an ongoing debate about the role of religion and the state,
that debate is going to spill over into all aspects of public life and
In the maelstrom of replies to the e-mail that exposed the kiss
(and threatened to supply photographic evidence of it), one
conservative senior tried to guide freshmen on the correct path. "At
LUMS, you will be bombarded with all sorts of atheistic and secular
philosophies and 'isms'. If you do not have the proper knowledge and
conviction about Islam, you may fall prey to the untiring efforts of
certain faculty members as well as your fellow students to misguide
you," he wrote, before linking to his personal website dedicated to
Others responded with sarcasm: "I have sinned. I do not believe
that there is a God because I can not see, feel, hear or touch
Him/Her… During the holy month, instead of attending Koranic recitals
in the mosque, I was listening to the demonic sounds of Pink Floyd,"
wrote one junior.
The LUMS Office of Student Affairs has promised to issue a code of
conduct to ban PDAs – a measure some students have lauded, and others
rolled their eyes at.
That would be a blow to university's prevailing culture of
democracy and tolerance, says Akhtar. "The administration should be
fostering a debate on the issue to try to get a handle on what the
so-called prevailing norms really are, and the ideas should be
thrashed out for debate," he says.
The Daily Star
October 17, 2009
WOMEN REPRESSION UNABATED DESPITE STRINGENT LAW
1,479 rape cases recorded in 6 months
by Alpha Arzu
Despite prevailing stringent laws in the country to protect women,
violence in different forms against women still goes on unabated with
offenders cocking a snook at the laws of the state.
Repression on women have increased manifold over the last few months.
The brutality is inflicted on them mainly for dowry, disputes over
wedding and land, said women activists working to promote and ensure
women's rights in the country.
At least 1,479 women had been raped in six months beginning from
January of 2009 while a total of 395 rape incidences, the highest
number recorded, were committed in Dhaka Range followed by 390 in
Rajshah and the lowest two in Railway Range, said Home Minister Sahara
Khatun at a parliament session on October 12.
She also added that at least 3,462 women in 2008 and 3,584 in 2007
On September 25, an adolescent was gang-raped following her abduction
by 10 Bangladesh Chhatra League activists while she was returning from
a Puja Mandop in Kolapar upazila in Patuakhali district.
Four police constables raped a woman from ethnic minority community on
28 February 2009 in Khagrachhari while an Indian BSF violated a
Bangladeshi woman and killed her husband in Satkhira in last April.
Advocate Salma Ali, executive director of Bangladesh National Women
Lawyers Association (BNWLA), told The Daily Star, “There are a number
of laws including Dowry Prohibition Act, Prevention of Women and Child
Repression Act (2000) which provides for effective and efficient way
of dealing with cases of violence against women such as rape, acid
attacks, forced prostitution and trafficking.”
The other acts include Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act 1933, Family
Court Ordinance, Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance and
Trafficking in Women and Children Act 1993.
“Without proper implementation of the laws, it is really tough to stop
violence against women that has become part and parcel of our male
partners' behaviour,” said the advocate who runs shelter home for the
repressed women, children and aged people.
Shamima Akhter (24) with her six-month-old daughter was looking for an
official at the Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cell of Women and Children
Affairs Department to get legal support for her daughter's paternal
She narrated the sorry tale of her conjugal life. “Within four months
of our marriage, my husband Mozammel Haque alias Khokan started to
torture me. And finally while I was six-month pregnant, he walked out
on me as my poor parents failed to give him the dowry of Tk 30,000.”
Hailed from city's Lalbagh area, Shamima now visits Nari Nirjatan
Protirodh Cell at Eskaton Garden at least four days a week with her
daughter. She said, “I have come here on foot. I started at 7:00am and
have reached here at 11:00am for the hearing.”
Like Shamima, at least 20 others who are victims of violence visit the
Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cell each day, said sources at the department.
“We also receive some foreign women victims who got married to
Bangladeshi men,” said a record keeper officer of the cell who mainly
files up complaints.
As per case histories most of the victims filed cases against their
husbands, or mother in laws for physical torture for dowry.
Meanwhile, the human rights-based organisation Odhikar reported that
at least 338 women including 158 girls were raped in nine months
beginning from January of 2009. Sixty-eight women and 51 girls were
gang-raped, 50 women and 22 children were killed after rape during
A total of 247 women were subjected to dowry-related violence. One
hundred seventy-six of them died due to the violence and 64 of them
were tortured in various ways. Seven of these women allegedly
committed suicide, as they couldn't bear the brunt of torture, Odhikar
At least 27 women fell victim to illegal fatwa while 45 women and 12
girls became the victims of acid throwing, it said.
Women and human rights activist, Ayesha Khanam, who works in the area
for three decades, told The Daily Star yesterday, “We are concerned
about the realities of women who are the worst victim of violence.
Doctor or post-graduate females are also now victims of torture and
killed by their in-laws' families.”
She said the recent victims, a doctor and a student of Dhaka
University, could be the wake-up calls to launch movement against
“We have submitted letters to home, women and children affairs
ministries and prime minister to take steps in this regard,” she said.
 South Asia:
AMRITSAR STATEMENT BY UNESCO GOODWILL AMBASSADOR MADANJEET SINGH,
FOUNDER OF SOUTH ASIA FOUNDATION
South Asia Foundation (SAF) is a secular, non-political and non-profit
organization established for the promotion of regional cooperation
through SAF institutions of excellence and groups scholarships in all
the SAARC countries, based on gender equality. It has been recognized
as an Apex body of the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation (SAARC) and has special relationship with the United
Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The cardinal objective of SAF and its vision is to establish a union
of the eight SAARC countries namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan,
India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
It is generally acknowledged that during the recent worldwide economic
meltdown, it was the Euro that saved the European union from further
economic crisis. SAARC countries will also benefit from the
centripetal force created by the proposed common currency, like the
euro. It will serve as an anchor of economic stability that would
accelerate trade and commerce between the SAARC countries. As with the
European Coal and Steel Community, it will create areas of congruence
such as a ‘peace pipeline’ that will carry natural gas from Iran,
Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian
Hence, a union of South Asian countries would promote trade and
commerce between the South Asian countries and become an important
component of South Asia’s collective security.
Released on 18 October 2009, in Amritsar (India)
 India: Violence by Hindu Fundamentalists in Goa
Herald front-page, Editorial, 18 October 2009
TACKLE TERRORISTS WITH IRON HAND
Terrorism has no religion. It must be put down with an iron hand. The
blast in Margao, as well as the one averted in Sancoale, have brought
to the fore the ugly face of terrorism in Goa. Fortunately, the bomb
exploded before it could be planted, killing Malgonda Patil and
critically injuring Yogesh Naik, the terrorists who planned to
massacre dozens of innocent people. The bomb in Sancoale was detected
by an alert youth. Had it exploded where it was planted – in a truck
carrying 40 youth and a Narkasur for a competition – it would have
taken a large number of lives. Those who made and planted it are yet
to be brought to justice.
This dastardly terrorist attack was, first, intended to target the
Diwali Narkasur festival, which is unique to Goa and Goans, but which
the Hindu fundamentalist Sanatan Sanstha denounces as a glorification
of evil. The second objective, far more sinister, was to instigate
religious riots in Margao, which has a history of communal tension.
This cowardly attempt to hurt Goan traditions and destroy the State’s
communal harmony must be put down swiftly and decisively.
This is the second terrorist act linked to the Sanatan Sanstha, which
is active mainly in Maharashtra and Goa, and has its national
headquarters at Ramnathi. It is not linked, as police said yesterday,
to the Malegaon bomb blasts, but to a crude bomb made from gelatine
sticks that went off in the parking lot of Gadkari Rangaytan, a drama
auditorium in Thane, Maharashtra, on the evening of June 4, 2008, just
before the Marathi play ‘Aamhi Paachpute’ was about to begin, in which
seven persons were injured.
The Sanatan Sanstha alleged that the play ridiculed Hindu Gods and the
Hindu religion, and demanded that it should be stopped. The producers
of the play refused to oblige. That is why it was targeted. Four days
earlier, a similar unexploded explosive was found and defused in the
Vishnudas Bhave Auditorium at Vashi, Navi Mumbai, where the play was
also to be performed. This was just a day ahead of the IPL-2008 finals
at the D Y Patil Stadium in nearby Nerul. A third bomb exploded
outside a cinema theatre in Panvel that was showing the Bollywood film
‘Jodhaa-Akbar’, which the Sanatan Sanstha had denounced as denigrating
the Hindu religion. Fortunately, no one was hurt in that blast.
Ramesh Gadkari, Mangesh Nikam, Vikram Bhave, Santosh Angre, Haribhau
Divekar and Hemant Chalke, all Sanatan Sanstha activists, were
arrested for making and planting these bombs, and are presently on
trial for criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and under various
sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Explosive
Substances Act and the Arms Act. The Sanstha claimed it had nothing to
do with the bombs and bombers, just as it has done this time.
When these blasts took place last year, through these very columns, we
urged the government and the police that they should thoroughly
investigate the Sanstha, which has its national headquarters in
Ramnathi, Goa, lest something similar happens here. Our plea was
completely ignored by the powers-that-be. That could be because the
wife of a powerful minister in the Goa Cabinet is a strong sympathiser
of the Sanatan Sanstha. Or it might be because of complacency and
But this time, the cause of action is in Goa itself. The objective of
the bombs was to kill, maim and injure Goans. It was to try and shut
down a unique Goan tradition – the Narkasur – which the Sanatan
Sanstha hates. It was to take advantage of existing communal tensions
and trigger riots in a State that prides itself on communal harmony
and tolerance. It was to destroy the Goan way of life for some twisted
fundamentalist religious beliefs. The government and the police must
disregard interference from ministers and MLAs. They must investigate
this case thoroughly, book all those suspected under the most
stringent laws possible, and ensure that terrorism is never allowed to
raise its ugly head in Goa.
Sacw.net, 16 October 2009
WHAT HAS DRIVEN THE TRIBALS OF CENTRAL INDIA TO POLITICAL EXTREMISM?
by B.K. Roy Burman
sacw.net, 18 October 2009
GUILT BY ASSOCIATION
by Bobby Kundhu
The impunity of repression is directly proportional to the extent of
insecurity of the State. This is the obvious reason why
dictatorial/tyrannical/autocratic regimes tend to be brutal. This does
not mean that insecurity, brutality and repression belong only to
repressive regimes. Democratic governments reflecting the insecurity
of the voters and elected leaders have very often displayed rather
audaciously their capacity to unleash very sophisticated and brutal
campaigns of repression, often subverting the very values that got the
government into power in the first place. There can be no better
example than the state of emergency that was declared by the Indira
Gandhi government in 1975.
While negotiating multiple interests, liberal democratic regimes tend
to be manifestations of social hegemony reflecting power aspirations
of dominant stakeholders. This manifestation propels the ideology of
the state and is used to construct justifications for State actions
ranging from colonialism to imperialism in its relationship with other
states and taxation to law and order in its relationship with its own
citizens. Subverting the clichéd myth of democracy being the will of
the majority, very often population groups, depending on their
position in the socio-political hierarchy and irrespective of whether
they form arithmetic majority or not are either passive or excluded in
the business of governance.
Our concern here is state reprisal when excluded peoples either
challenge this manifestation, or assert or demand a stake in power.
The best documented successful model of such reprisal (in a democracy)
was the McCarthy era during the peak of the cold war, where the
specter of communism was invoked as “un-American” to quell dissent
resulting in one of the most successful purges in the history of
modern democracy, and definitively marking the ideological paradigm of
operational politics. The primary tool that McCarthyism used to
discredit people was to establish their guilt of being “communist” or
“un-American” – categories not defined in Law, by association!
McCarthy himself might have been discredited, but that tool, guilt by
association; has been transformed into a universal art for managing
differences the world over – to justify war and persecution –
subverting legal and moral norms, aimed at establishing an ideological
flatland. The preponderance of this phenomenon can be seen by the fact
that it has traveled half a century, halfway across the globe, in the
service of a set of people that it set out persecuting!!
In an ironic twist to history, the very people who claim to have
inherited the legacy of resistance from those persecuted by the
McCarthy fallout – in the face of political adversity – are framing
novel versions of guilt by association to weed out dissent.
The government of West Bengal seems to have become adept at this art.
Most recently, the manner in which the Lalgarh resistance is being
handled stands testimony to this. Notwithstanding the final outcome of
the judicial process in the allegations leveled against Chhatradar
Mahato and the cases he might or might not face, the drama that was
enacted to arrest was to say the least despicable – it pointed to a
lack of willingness to engage with basic democratic norms and has
rightly been condemned at least by sensible sections of the media. But
worse still was the statement, rather threat made by Ashok
Chakroborty, the Chief Secretary of the West Bengal Government to all
who might overtly or tacitly defend or support Mahato. This seems to
portent the beginnings of a witch hunt and indicates a complete
disrespect for democracy generally and the rule of the Law
The facts as I see them are that an adivasi resistance movement
against police atrocities was hijacked by the Maoists and projected as
their own, in their war against the State. The State conveniently
steps in and labels everything to do with Lalgarh as Maoist and
arrests the leaders of the resistance movement. There are many
perplexing subtexts to this story.
The first part of the story is incomprehensible given that the Peoples
Committee Against Police Atrocities, spearheading the resistance has
categorically denied being Maoist. So have the leaders who have been
arrested. The government cannot claim ignorance of the fact that
Maoists are a breed that wears ideology on the sleeve and none of the
Maoists leaders from Kondapally Seetharamaiah to Kobad Ghandy have
ever bothered to deny their association with the movement.
If the relatively powerful bhadralok in Calcutta feel threatened, I
wonder what would be the plight of the people in Lalgarh caught in the
crossfire between the State and the Naxals!!
While, in Kerala, a more subtle and insidious campaign is underway,
which, I believe needs to be read in the context of the success of the
Chengara struggle in exposing the entrenched castiesm in social and
political Kerala. The fact that a person no lesser than the Director
General of Police has set the discourse on Dalit terrorism rolling, in
the context of the murder of Siva Prasad in Varkala, seems to indicate
the level of insecurity caused by the recent spurt in assertive Dalit
It is for the judicial process to determine and of course it could be
very possible that Sivaprasad was killed by the people accused of the
crime by the police. But then, how did this one – off crime get
translated into the cascade of accusations, particularly of dalit
terrorism? I do not think any one would disagree that positing the
discourse of terror on a communitarian basis is the best way to
debilitate any community. A precise definition of terrorism is yet to
evolve, which makes it a convenient façade to justify extra-legal and
An allegation of terrorism, in the common parlance assumes the
existence of a sinister network. For this the police have zeroed in on
an organization – the Dalit Human Rights Movement. Here it would be
pertinent to point out that the DHRM was an unheard of entity even
within the Dalit political and civil society circles until this case.
However the only bases for the allegations of terror that are provided
the police so far include only facts like that members of DHRM wear
uniforms (black shirts and blue jeans) and that they have physical
drills. On that basis, there would be many organizations including
from the far right to the far left including the RSS, the dravida
kazhakam etc. that would qualify to be terror organizations in the
event of any of its members being accused of committing an offence
I wonder if the Kerala police administration and its political bosses
are aware of the legal ramifications of their action. Section 3(1)
(viii) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act proscribes punishment for whoever, not being a member
of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe institutes false, malicious
or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings against a
member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe. Further, Section 3
(2) (vii) includes any person being a public servant, committing any
offence under this section. Anyways, ignorance of law is not an
What is irksome is that the above narrations are occurring in states
ruled by governmental formations that claim left democratic
legitimacy. What is also irksome is the way that some segments of the
media lapped up and propagated the unedited versions of the State’s
stories. The only answer to dissent in democracy is more democracy.
When the dissent takes a form that intrudes into other peoples
democratic rights – then too, the response has to be democratic – in
adherence with the procedure established by law – especially in a
country that boasts of sophisticated legal system and celebrates its
diversity. McCarthyism can only be the road to subverting both
democracy and pluralism!!
 India Administered Kashmir
September 13, 2009
by Muzamil Jaleel
ON a drizzly afternoon, as the sun plays hide and seek, a man sporting
an elegant goatee and a loose track suit watches keenly from the empty
spectator stands. Groups of boys in yellow jerseys dribble white
footballs, shuffle to fake a circular move as they hit a pass, then
attempt to rest a flying ball on the chest before it drops down
perfectly on the toe. It has been three years since coach Juan Marcos
Troia arrived in Kashmir, during which he helped a ragtag team of
school boys fall in love with their traps, dribbles and kicks. That’s
unusual for a region whose stadiums, when they reverberate, do so with
fiery slogans and political speeches. But when Marcos left his home in
Argentina and arrived in Kashmir with wife Priscila Barros Pedroso and
their three little daughters Brisa, Dafne and Amanee, he instinctively
knew football would keep him back.
As Marcos speaks, a tall teenager attempts a bicycle kick, his body
moving in a dazzling summersault. “This is the boy,” Marcos whispers.
“Our captain, Basharat. He is 18 and an exceptional player and a
natural leader.” But the coach is pained. His star player was among
the three from his academy who were selected for a special
professional training by clubs in Spain and Brazil. But Basharat can’t
make the trip—he was denied a passport because his father was a
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Three years in Kashmir and Marcos is slowly beginning to realise that
he can’t insulate himself from the larger story of Kashmir, however
hard he tried. “I know my boys are here to play football and not pelt
stones or take up guns. Their sole aim is to become professional
players. They are working hard but sadly, that’s not enough. How can
one change his family’s past?”
Ever since he arrived in Kashmir, the 33-year-old Marcos has immersed
himself in training the boys at his football academy, the
International Sports Academy Trust, singularly focusing on the
rigorous training that he puts the boys through. The Academy,
registered with the J&K Football Association, has 360 students from
all over Kashmir, like Ganderbal and Bandipore.
A month after Marcos arrived in Srinagar in 2006, he was beaten up by
soldiers outside the Central Telegraph Office, a five-minute walk from
the playfield. “They took me for a local Kashmiri and suspected I was
pretending to be a foreigner. They apologised later and the matter
ended there. I did feel scared but then I also realised that I have to
accept these incidents if I want to live and work in Kashmir.” So
Marcos stayed put even when frequent curfews, protests and strikes
shut the Valley last summer, spending all his time with his players.
“They are my only family in Kashmir. They are like my own children,”
The past catches up
Marcos shouts for Basharat. “When we went through the selection
process and chose our three best players for international training,
Basharat was at the top of our list. We applied for his passport in
January last year,” says Marcos. The coach waited for a few months,
thinking it was a regular bureaucratic delay that was holding up
Basharat’s papers. “One day, we were told Basharat cannot get the
travel documents because his father was a militant. Nobody among us
knew about it.”
Basharat Bashir Baba’s story begins from Panthachowk on the city’s
outskirts. He is a school dropout and belongs to a lower middle class
business family. “My grandfather supplied stones—he worked in a
quarry. I am the first in my family to play professional football,” he
And then, Basharat speaks of his father and of his past that is now
catching up with him. “I have always seen father home. I didn’t know
much about his past,” he says. “After I was denied my passport, I
asked my mother. She told me that my father was arrested when I was a
year-and-a-half old and later released. He had become a militant even
before my birth.” He says that almost every household in his
neighbourhood had a militant in the early 1990s. “Perhaps it was
difficult for my parents to talk to me about it,” he says.
Marcos’s little daughters (the oldest is 10 years old) pull Basharat
away. “They love him as if he is their older brother,” says Marcos,
before introducing the other two boys. “This is Hanan, our midfielder,
and here is Musadiq, he is a defender. They are both lucky,” he says,
before lowering his voice to a whisper. “I don’t want Basharat to feel
Both Abdul Hanan Mir, 17, and Musadiq Mehraj, 16, are from similar
business backgrounds and both have recently passed out of the Army
school in Badamibagh Cantonment. Their papers are ready and Marcos’s
wife Priscila has gone to New Delhi to apply for their Spanish visas.
“We knew nothing more than kicking the ball when we joined this
academy,” says Musadiq. “Now we know professional football is the only
goal of our lives.” He says his parents initially weren’t supportive
of his passion for the game. “But once they heard that I had been
selected to go to Spain, everything changed. They are excited,” he
Hanan is the quiet sorts and Basharat speaks for him. “We are
childhood friends,” says Basharat. “Hanan is a gifted player—a born
A few hours later, as Basharat lies on the grass, he opens up further.
“Whenever I think of my friends leaving for Spain, I feel like crying.
I am unable to speak to my father about this. I don’t know whom to
blame. I am confused,” he says. “I am angry with the government. What
is my fault if my father was a militant even before my birth? But
then, at times, I start blaming my father as well.”
Basharat says he tried to approach top police officers himself and
even contacted Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. “I went to the CID office
a dozen times. They told me it is a policy. The passport officer said
he cannot issue it without a police clearance,” he says.
As per policy, the government denies travel documents and other
security clearances to militants, former militants, suspected
militants, separatist sympathisers and even counter-insurgents. The
index or the blacklist with the J&K Police’s intelligence wing has
swelled to 60,000 such cases and the government had recently promised
a review of each case to limit it to active militants and their
families. On ground, however, nothing has changed.
Coach Marcos says he has not lost hope. “We will try again and explain
Basharat’s position. Let’s hope this issue is resolved soon,” he says.
Basharat, meanwhile, has approached the J&K High Court where the case
is yet to come up for hearing. “This (approaching court) is my last
option. If I don’t get a passport, I may even stop playing.”
Even if Basharat fails, this setback does not seem to halt the journey
of dozens of other young players who continue to flock around Marcos,
seeking registration in his football academy. “I don’t see football
only as a sport. It is a vibrant tool to bring social change as well
and I am witnessing that here,” Marcos says.
Marcos’s own journey starts from his native country Argentina, where
he played for a local club. He started coaching when he was 22, first
in Argentina and later in Brazil. In 1997, Marcos came on a tourist
visa to India and met his future wife Priscila, a Brazilian who worked
at the Brazilian embassy in New Delhi. He then went to Brazil, where
he is affiliated with the Syndicate of Professional Coaches. In
October 1998, the couple moved to India. And when Marcos shifted to
Srinagar, Priscila joined him. She now takes Spanish and Portugese
classes for the boys to prepare them for the European and Brazilian
“I thought I would coach children in Delhi but there wasn’t much
enthusiasm as they only wanted to play football as a hobby,” says
Marcos of his decision to move to Kashmir.
So in 2006, when he decided to shift to Kashmir—he had heard of
Kashmir’s football tradition—and start an academy, everyone he knew
tried to dissuade him. “They all told me it’s a dangerous place. Some
of my friends told me to watch Mission Kashmir (the Bollywood film). I
sat with Priscila, watched it six to seven times and was scared. But I
decided to come anyway and see for myself. It wasn’t that scary here.”
He says he has seen things change in the couple of years that he has
been in Kashmir. “I realised that despite so much trouble, Kashmir is
safer in many respects. No one will stop you at gunpoint to steal your
wallet. That happens in my country.”
Marcos says the boys and their passion for the game keep him going.
“They are extremely focused. Once we were playing in Eidgah grounds
(in downtown Srinagar) and suddenly there was trouble. Tear gas shells
started landing on the field but the boys didn’t stop,” he recalls.
“How can I?”
Football and Kashmir
Football in Kashmir goes back more than hundred years and the love for
the game has triggered many a political agitation. Before the
emergence of the separatist movement in 1990, there were around 20
teams representing various government departments. The Valley has
produced several top soccer players for the country. In fact, one of
them, Abdul Majeed Kakroo, represented India from 1981 to 1989 and
also captained the national team in the mid 80s. Currently, there are
two Kashmiri players in India’s national team, Ishfaq Ahmed Rather and
The conflict, however, has had its fallout on professional football
and today, the number of government-sponsored clubs has dropped to
Football was introduced in Kashmir by C.E. Tyndale Biscoe, a British
missionary who founded Srinagar’s historic Biscoe School in 1891. It
was Young Hardow, proprietor of the Hardow Carpet Factory, who set up
a British football team in Kashmir. In 1941, as political unrest was
at its peak, Kashmir’s soccer team defeated Jalandhar and Sri Pratap
College, the only boys’ college in Srinagar then, celebrated by not
holding classes for three days.
The deep-rooted connection between soccer and politics in Kashmir
began with the political career of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. During
the Dogra rule, Friends Club, a team formed by Kashmiris, defeated the
royal police team. Unable to take the defeat, the members of the royal
team beat up the local tonga drivers who had taken them to the
cantonment. This led to a violent retaliation by a group of
youngsters, that included Abdullah, against the Dogra soldiers. This
insignificant revolt after a soccer match, however, gave birth to a
full-fledged rebellion against the Dogra rule.
Filmmaker Ashvin Kumar of Little Terrorist fame has joined actor Javed
Jaffrey to produce a documentary on the journey of Basharat, Hanan and
Musadiq, the three boys from Marcos’s academy, starting from their
homes to the professional soccer clubs in Spain and Brazil. Titled
Kashmir on Foot, the documentary that is currently being shot in the
Valley follows the life of Marcos and his family, while weaving in the
larger story of Kashmir, along with the story of the three boys, their
families and their love for soccer. The documentary has hired an
international crew and is the first such major non-fiction project on
CITIZENS INITIATIVE FOR PEACE
New Delhi, 11th October 2009
Subject: Appeal to join public meeting on October 20th at Constitution
Club, Speakers Hall 4 – 7 pm.
As you are aware, armed conflict between the Government and Maoists is
reaching dangerous proportions in several parts of the country. In
these conditions, the real issues that concern the people are
relegated to the background- such as food security, land and forest
rights, education, health and justice besides their multi-faceted
exploitation. Citizens outside the affected areas are denied access to
the region as a result of which no true picture about the plight of
the local population is available. These need to be immediately
addressed, which is only possible under conditions of peace and
We are writing to invite you to participate in a public meeting on
20th October 2009 at the Speakers Hall, Constitution Club, New Delhi,
from 4-7 pm. We are inviting representatives from different states and
different political parties, as well as a wide cross-spectrum of
people to provide their perspective on this issue, and help to chart a
Our demands are simple and urgent and Government must initiate the process
1. Cessation of hostilities as well as end to killings by both
Government and CPI (Maoist)
2. Dialogue between Government and CPI (Maoist)
3. Free access to affected areas for independent civil
organizations and media
4. Addressing of people’s basic livelihood needs.
Please block October 20th for this important meeting and strengthen
the Citizens Initiative for Peace.
(on behalf of)
Citizens Initiative for Peace
o o o
XVII SAFDAR HASHMI MEMORIAL LECTURE 2009
"Activist Theatre: Recovering a Tradition"
Friday, 23rd October
Banga Sanskriti Bhavan
18-19 Bhai Veer Singh Marg, near Gol Market
New Delhi 110001
S o u t h A s i a C i t i z e n s W i r e
Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. An offshoot of South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net/
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