South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 October 2002
#1. A subcontinent's blight (M B Naqvi)
#2. Truth Commissions: A retrospective healing process ? Part I
#3. An Open Letter To The President of India (Shahrukh Alam, Namita
Malhotra, Warisha Farasat.)
#4. Say no to war on Iraq (Praful Bidwai)
#5. Father, Son and The Unholy Mission - Book Review by Ram Puniyani
#6. Sahit : Forum of Creative People For Peace - cultural programme
on 2 October 2002 in Ahmedabad
#7. Oct 2/New York/Films on Gujarat/Ram Rahman, Smita Narula
#8. India needs leaders like Bush, Sharon: VHP
The News International (Pakistan)
Wednesday October 02, 2002
A subcontinent's blight
M B Naqvi
The incident in Indian Gujarat state's Gandhi Nagar Hindu temple on
September 24/25 night that killed 31 worshippers and another on
September 25 in Karachi that murdered seven persons in the office of
an NGO, Idara-i-Amn-o-Insaf. Both point to an ominous aggravation of
negative trends in India and Pakistan and the rest of South Asia.
The Gandhi Nagar carnage is sure to give a handle to the hate
merchants peddling a fundamentally anti-Muslim Hindutva, thereby
increasing Hindu-Muslim polarisation in Gujarat some more and
possibly succeed in spreading this virus to surrounding states. That
BJP and the rest of Sangh Parivar hope to win elections thereby is an
open secret; these groups, looming behind
BJP, rode to power on the crest of anti-Muslim feelings following the
destruction of Babri Masjid, widespread anti-Muslim rioting and the
growing communal polarity. Such incidents can help the hate merchants
That incident has other consequences too. It impacts on India's
Pakistan policy. Indian government has already held Pakistan
responsible. Although, India's reaction to December 13, 2001 attack
on Parliament with mobilising the Indian Army and threatening
Pakistan with an imminent invasion was losing credibility, these
suicidal killings in Gandhi Nagar may -- on the tit-for-tat logic of
communalism -- force Vajpayee government to make a demonstrative
response to assuage the hurt Hindu sentiment.
Consequently, India-Pakistan military tensions would again aggravate.
Communal passion, already widespread, will be reinforced by official
spin of blaming Pakistan. That should superficially make war certain
but both sides remain hesitant because of Nuclear Deterrents. It is
however a moment of supreme test for deterrence doctrine: would it
continue to hold back the Hindutva-preachers from taking a perhaps
limited -- but nevertheless demonstrative -- action?
It is pointless getting involved in the validity or otherwise of
deterrence concept. We can assume the two states will continue to
prevent an all-out war either themselves or with American help. The
net result will not be peace but prolongation of the present
no-peace-no-war situation, with both taking limited hostile action
but stopping this side of war. American influence over both Islamabad
and New Delhi is bound to grow. That will reflect on the rest of
Asia. Islamabad however seems scheduled to see the other face of US
diplomacy. The US may put harder and unbearable pressure "to do more"
in Kashmir -- and that might include accepting a final solution of
Kashmir against the wishes of Pakistani hardliners.
The Subcontinent is likely to remain dominated by communal passions
that stoke the fires of militarism. In India this militarism issues
from a supposed 'manifest destiny' and has deeper roots, while in
Pakistan it emerged ad hoc, first through international intrigue with
Pakistan's powerful bureaucratic coterie that had already usurped
power. Futile justifications predicated it on a shallow Muslim
Nationalism and later on an Islamic Ideology that glorifies a
reconstructed past. Democracy thus may increasingly become shallow
throughout South Asia for similar reasons.
The Karachi incident is certainly alarming. Terrorism in Pakistan is
hydra-headed. Authorities are fond of blaming India's RAW for all
atrocities in Pakistan or even in India. That is no defence against
Pakistani failure to protect minorities. Indian propaganda of blaming
ISI for all terrorist incidents is a photocopy: failure of its own
security agencies. What good are they, if they cannot stop the other
country's spooks from causing mayhem inside their own countries? We
had better look for true causes of terrorism in injustices and
Pakistanis should concentrate on terrorist killers that after all did
not arrive from India. We must think about the process that created
these terrorists. Mother of all terrorism was the emergence of
Kashmir policy as a national cause by the bureaucratic coterie that
had cornered power by April 1953. This latter involved many things:
the collapse of Muslim Nationalism in which a powerful group of
politicians enabled bureaucracy to thwart democracy. Simultaneously
the US diplomacy bought over the bureaucratic coterie, supported by
C-in-C Ayub Khan, rather cheaply. This international intrigue also
helped shape domestic and foreign, especially the Afghan, policies.
The culmination of these factors were the Taliban regime, nuclear
detonations, Kargil and the current military confrontation with India.
While a militant Kashmir policy resulted in Army's political
pre-eminence, able to spend most of the revenues and determining the
development policy. This enriched both wings of bureaucracy while
strengthening Army's hold on power. It needed justification. A bogus
Pakistan Ideology was invented based on a new interpretation of
orthodoxy. It served the US well in 1980s -- to the immense
enrichment of generals -- and later in Kashmir Jihad. Becoming power
drunk after the Bomb, the generals could 'safely' convert Kashmiris'
spontaneous and non-violent movement in 1988-89 first into an armed
rebellion and later an Islamic Jihad. A red hot Islamic
Ideology provides inspiration for the
Jihadis. That it had to no link with the
Subcontinent's Islamic ethos bothered no one.
Bewildered Indians squirmed, tried to counter the Jihad with armed
repression. Eventually South Block remembered it too had the Bomb,
only bigger. So, when the Jihadis boldly attacked the Indian
Parliament, India confronted Pakistan with all its might. India went
on an offensive and threatened war. India is daring Pakistan to fight
a limited war and if it uses the Bomb, it would invite India's nuking
it in return. Which is
where both India and Pakistan stand deadlocked. No one can go
further. The Americans are able to play the honest broker to their
own political advantage.
Net results of Kashmir and Afghanistan policies is an oversupply of
Islamic extremists straining at the leash to strike at -- minorities,
sectarian and religious minorities, Indians and Americans or whoever.
Pakistan has just told the Americans that 33 dangerous activists of
Harkatul Mujahedeen al-Alami are still freely operating in Karachi,
after it had earlier arrested 24 of them in joint operations with
FBI. For all a layman knows, this group is perhaps as small as that.
But what about the many thousands of their soul mates who are
Taliban, the many Kashmir's Jihadi outfits, not to mention the
factions that content themselves with killing local Shias, Ahmedis,
Christians, Hindus etc. Their number would be much greater. They are
all the same: religious zealots of more or less the same theoretical
origins. Minorities and the country do need that they are reclaimed
with required patience.
It is a problem that has to be sorted out by Pakistanis. The US
interest is limited to preventing them from attacking American or
western targets. Indians only want Jihadis and zealots to stay at
home and leave them alone. But this country is now a snakepit of all
manner of Islamic extremists, wanting to kill all kafirs, Indians
(Hindus first), foreigners -- a travesty of Islam in historical
India. These fanatics are a bigger danger to Pakistan and its plural
society. For this American money, technology and advice is
irrelevant, though these might help if they are used to fight crime.
It is vital to seek the learned humanists from India, Europe, US
andindeed everywhere to help change Pakistan's social, political and
economic conditions that beget and sustain bigotry. Promotion of
tolerance is the task, requiring more employment and cultural
development as a prerequisite.
The particular Karachi incident does not seem to be a simple killing
of Christians by undifferentiated Islamic fanatics. It is not the
first of its kind in methodology -- first overpowering the victim(s)
through heavy sedation, tying their hands behind them and then taping
the mouths and noses for killing them through asphyxiation. Reason
for selecting them remains obscure. There was a similar case recently
in Karachi: two persons were murdered in a similar fashion (without
the use of a gun) in the office of Irtaqa Institute in
Gulshan-e-Iqbal locality. Even the putative murder of Omar Asghar
Khan is said to have been a similar case. One understands that many
more incidents of the kind have taken place in Karachi. The police
are reluctant to publicise them for some reason. But we shouldn't be.
Other victims of the same kind of killing were not members of
minority sect or religion. There seems to have been nothing common
among the victims, except one: some link with, or a reputation of
"progressive" ideas or left-of-centre politics. If this is true, we
have a new specie of terrorism -- some version of ultra-right death
squads, so characteristic of so many Latin American republics. That
opens up a whole new vista for inquiry. Another commonality is: all
religious fanatics are also ultra rightists in political preferences
and so are their friends and supporters.
The Island (Sri Lanka)
02nd October, 2002
Truth Commissions: A retrospective healing process ? Part I
by Indika Bulankulame
(University of Sussex, UK)
Undoubtedly, the peace process currently occupies a great deal of
conversation time from the regular mundane conversations Sri Lankans
often have with each other here and aboard.
As part of these conversations that are taking place, there is a
strong interest on the idea of "Truth and Reconciliation". It is in
this context that the recently concluded Neelan Thiruchelvam Memorial
Lecture delivered by Alex Borraine, former Vice President of the
South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a subsequent
workshop organised by the International centre for Ethnic Studies in
Colombo were clearly meant to open doors to the debate on the idea of
reconciliation. At this point, I would like to make two points. One
is that reconciliation comes at the end of a transition, a change or
a turn of events. In that sense, I do not feel that we have come to
that point as yet to talk about delivering the "truth" as part of the
peace process and reconciliation. The next point is, how much
reconciliation and how much healing can we hope to find through the
use of a mechanism such as a truth commission in a cultural context
such as ours?
This paper attempts to examine two commissions. One is the South
African Truth and Reconciliation Commission which, I have used for
its clarity and professionalism of process. The second is the
Commission of Inquiry into the Involuntary Removal of Persons
appointed in 1995, the first of its kind to be established in Sri
Lanka, which examine in considerable depth and highlight some
important issues and grey areas. The idea is not to compare, but to
understand the stand point of Truth Commissions appointed by state
agencies. At a time when we are this reflective of knowing the truth
we need to be aware from previous experiences the consequences of
knowing the truth.
Truth commissions are meant to be bodies that attempt to deal with
certain realities of atrocities committed by state agencies and
sometimes the activities of "armed opposition" (Hayner 2000). Broadly
looking at it, Pricilla B. Hayner describes in four ways " 1). truth
commissions focus on the past ; 2). they investigate a pattern of
abuses over a period of time, rather than a specific event; 3). a
truth commission is a temporary body, typically in operation for six
months to two years, and completing its work with a submission of a
report; and 4). these commissions are officially sanctioned,
authorised, or empowered by the state (and sometimes also by the
armed opposition, as in a peace accord)" (ibid 2000: 14). To date,
five major truth commissions and sixteen less prominent commissions 2
have emerged to address the atrocities that have been committed by
various bodies, political parties and resistance groups. In recent
decades, phenomena glossed as Truth Commissions have emerged as
central components of the peace settlements and political
transitions¹ that as Fiona Ross characterise post something¹ (post
- colonial, post - communist, post-apartheid, post dictatorship
state). Truth commissions have also acquired different names and
sometimes the word "truth" is not even in it. Hayner has classified
the commission under four main themes: " Commission on the
disappeared" as in Argentina, Uganda and Sri Lanka for example; "
Truth and justice commission in Haiti and Ecuador; a "historical
clarification" commission in Guatemala; and "Truth and reconciliation
commission in South Africa and Chile" (ibid 2000: 14-15) and others.
Although, there are similarities between them, the mandates and
powers of each commission, varies to suite the needs of the political
reality of each country.
There are a number of reasons, why a truth commission is established
in a country. "Truth Commissions are frequently described as an
important mechanism¹ by which societies may begin to acknowledge and
remember the individual and the political and social damage wrought
by violence" (Ross 2000: 2 .b). These have become one of the most
important and central bodies through which to understand and deal
with the past, acknowledge activities of the past and the starting
point for accountability, reparation and reform programmes (CODEPU
1989, Hayner 1994, 1996, 2001, Ignatief 1997; also Weschler 1990;
Rosenburg 1992, Boraine, Levy and Scheffer 1994; Taylor 1994;
Borraine and Levy 1995, Minow 1998, Merdith and Rosenberg 2000).
The Idea of a Truth Commission in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan "Commission of Inquiry into the Involuntary Removal or
Disappearance of Persons" emerged in that context of the aftermath of
Political violence in the 1980s consequent to the electoral victory
of the PA.
The Sri Lankan Commission of inquiry (as I shall refer to it)
constituted of three separate commissions vested with the
responsibility off looking into allegations of disappearance in three
separate geographic locations in the country. This was the first body
of a formal nature that emerged in Post conflict Sri Lanka to
investigate the aforesaid period of terror. However, I must mention
in the year 1991 under Presidential directive a commission of Inq
uiry* was set up to inquire into disappearance. Compensation was made
to some victims although not in a form of consistency. Subsequently,
20 reports were produced to the Presidential Secretariat, however,
they were not published (Law & Society Trust 1993 P.70.).
Coming back to the Commission of Inquiry appointed in 1995 Hayner indicates:
"The period covered by the commissions included both the armed
conflict between government forces and the People¹s Liberation Front
in the South from 1987 to 1990, and the conflict between the
government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the
northeast which began in June 1990" (Hayner 2001).
It¹s objectives were wide, inclusive of giving recommendations, on
the legal implications of dealing with the people who were
responsible for these crimes and also who was to be the interlocutor
on behalf of the victims.
The commission was given an unrealistic goal of four months to submit
a report or an interim report on the findings and the final report
were submitted two years later and even then not all inquiries were
investigated. Which resulted in a further all island commission to be
The three commissions, although were appointed on the same day, and
their mandates were identical, operated rather independently of each
other and hence had different operational and methodological
Strategies¹. Rights workers, have observed that the three commissions
had also specific agendas; one According to Hayner commission
identified perpetrators and recommending prosecution; another
focussed more on the financial loss to each family and their
reparations needs; and the third took a more academic tone aimed at
reconciliation and the psychology of national healing" (Hayner 2001).
Also all hearings were held in private, one commission attempted to
have public hearings, but had to be closed down as a respondent
received threats after giving testimonies. The mandate of the three
commissions have eight points of which I quote A and C for the
purpose of this paper.
a.) "Whether any persons have been involuntarily removed or have
disappeared from their places of residence in (names of different
provinces as given above) at any time after January 1, 1988;
c.) The present whereabouts of the persons alleged to have been so
removed, or to have so disappeared;
The mandate, of the commission, point (a) and (c) attempts to
establish the nature of a person¹s disappearance. However, members
found a distinctions between the disappeared or the abducted, and the
ones between disappeared and subsequently killed and therefore, never
returned. The mandate places heavy emphasis on those disappeared but
not on those who disappeared and subsequently killed. However, they
ruled that this class of person also fell within the mandate, despite
some opposition. The decision is important as the clause enables not
only state¹ but killings done by subversives¹ also to be addressed.
The total number of petitions inquired from all three commission are
over 27,000 (Hayner 2001. P.65).
Let us now proceed to the political and social consequences that were
implied and were brought about by such commissions. I would look
mainly, in the testimonies women gave and the comments they made in
the process before and after the commission. The objective of this
exercise is to analyse how truths, power and knowledge work, and how
victims resist in this context of post terror political and social
The Issue of Compensation in Sri Lanka
There is heavy emphasis on compensation and reparations in these
reports. What are the subsequent consequences of compensation and the
psychological effect it has both on the victims and the community at
Compensation payments began as early as 1988, under the Ministry of
Rehabilitation and Reconstruction under a programme called "Payments
of Compensation to Most Affected Persons (MAPs)". Under this scheme
handled by the Government Agent/Divisional Secretariat, compensation
It is clear that to a certain extent, compensation was paid before
the PA government came to power. However, facts emerging from these
reports suggests that compensation was limited to a segment, those
victimised at the hands of the subversives and not so much by the
reprisal killing done by the state. A cabinet decision taken on
November 22nd 1989 also had a grave impact on the beneficiaries.
Firstly, the victim¹s identity had to be cleared by the survivors.
The survivors were victimised by the unpleasant task of lurking at
police stations for the necessary clearances. One of the things that
were acted upon and implemented by the commissions was the
compensation to next of kin of public servants, who were earlier not
compensated due to their alleged connections with subversive
My fieldwork indicates that compensation brought ethical dilemmas to
those affected by subversive and by state sponsored violence. One
problem among these people was that all of them lived in the same
village in close proximity to each other. There seems to be a
tolerance of each other even though they knew who supported
subversive, who supported the government and who wanted to be left
alone. However, I feel that there is a burning issue underlying this
toleration, as they feel that no justice has been done.
For e.g. Amaraweera and his aunt were threatened at gun point, by
known subversives to keep their identities disclosed. He is still
very traumatised by the incident. Today, the wife of the chief
subversive in that area, who was a party to the above incident, has
been compensated for the killing of her husband by the security
forces. Ameeraweera had this to say:
"They all got compensation. We lived with fear of our own lives. For
the lives of my wife and two children we have nothing. Today we only
live with that fear. I will never be able to forget that; Yet we
interact with them as if nothing had happened."
Ceremonies conducted to distribute compensation to the victims
brought problems of ethics. The ceremony itself is politically driven
and is impractical, causing expenses to the victim. In the act of
receiving, they not only relive their pain and memories, but also
breeds revenge, hatred and shame. This lack of sensitivity is
psychologically damaging especially, as it comes after ten years
since the terror.
There is another point I want to make on compensation. It was given
to widows or mothers of unmarried children. The idea of compensation
is supposed to work towards reconciliation. The actual monies are by
way of making amends to sustain the survivors. If it is so, mothers
also witnessed their married children¹s killings as was Rupa¹s
mother-in-law. As Sriya her daughter says, "for mothers there is
everyday pain". I would argue that compensation has taken a clinical
nature, and the insensitivity factor has re-emerged, without serious
considerations and flexibility as would be culturally required.
Let me point to the Argentina reparation programme, which was brought
in ten years after the Truth Commission finished its reports.
Although there was no public demand for reparation as the need of the
day was to locate bodies, and establish truth and prosecute the
guilty. Thus compensation for some had a sour taste. One group that
represents the victims denounced state reparation as "blood money,"
"Life doesn¹t have a price" (Hayner 2000:177).
It would argue that in the Sri Lankan context people or rather
victims testified with two objectives in mind; one was that the
perpetrators would be brought under the law, and the other in the
hope that there will be some compensation by the state. The first is
clearly seeking truth, knowledge and justice, which would pave the
way for healing. The other is the formal acknowledgement from a
larger political body of the reality that surrounded the death or
disappearance of their loved ones and the practical necessity for
accessing some funds for the sake of continued survival.
I would like to point out some problem areas. Many victims had a
sense of fear around them in giving testimonies¹ some of them in
fact were threatened. The threat also extended when it came to
receiving compensation or doing the paper work for it by way of
sexual harassment. The fear psychosis generated from agents of the
state in both situations.
Recommendations on legal procedures were very slow in coming. The
President did not publicly comment on the reports 12. The President
also did not take any immediate steps to bring to courts persons
allegedly charged in the armed forces due to the on going war.
However, in the report of the 1999 Amnesty International, it appears
that some were charged for their crimes (quoted in Hayner 2000: 66).
One of the things that women expected from the Commission was also to
have some social support. For i.e. one of my aged informants¹ house
was burned down, which is now rebuilt. They showed me all over the
house the burnt marks left behind by the fire. This tour was no doubt
not only to show me the extent of the loss of property, but also to
ensure that I recognised death, justice and their present position.
This could hardly be visualised through the testimony of a commission
[Full Text at: http://www.island.lk/2002/10/02/midwee01.html]
Web | Oct 01, 2002
An Open Letter To The President
Some very committed friends of ours have been working with children
in post-riots Ahmedabad, trying to help them overcome their trauma
and be absorbed back into the mainstream...
SHAHRUKH ALAM, NAMITA MALHOTRA, WARISHA FARASAT
His Excellency Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam
President of India.
Dear Mr President,
Some very committed friends of ours have been working with children
in post-riots Ahmedabad, trying to help them overcome their trauma
and be absorbed back into the mainstream. We had recently accompanied
them on a trip to Gujarat, but sadly we proved to be rather inept
with children; at 25, we already tend to get impatient with them and
are not particularly understanding of their needs. It was then that
we thought of you and realized what a great gift you are to the
children of this country.
We also thought of you on another occasion: we had been playing with
children in Watwa, a locality where about 45 families, originally
from Naroda Patia (and then Shah Alam Camp), have been temporarily
resettled. Less than dedicated that we were, we soon grew tired and
went to sit by ourselves at the doorstep of a kholi there.
We were informed that it was Shah Jahan¹s house. Shah Jahan, who had
lost a sister and who had almost been burnt alive herself.
(Ironically, the bigger the loss suffered by a person, the more of a
celebrity she became, to be put forward before all visiting
dignitaries, media personnel, NGO types, etc.) This unfortunate
celebrity¹ was prodded out of her bleak room to be shown¹ to us,
bandaged, pained face, and unable to play with the other children.
"She¹s met the President", we were told. Shah Jahan smiled - probably
at the fond memories of her meeting with you (or if one were to be
cynical, at the thought of having to repeat her sorrows to yet
another batch of volunteers). Perhaps, that was the reason she chose
to steer the conversation towards you.
She did not talk of high ambitions, though, or of your compassion, or
even of your sensitivity -which she had clearly benefited from in
those few minutes with you. We suppose that was a given. She spoke,
instead, of the promises you had made her and how she clung to those
as the only words of security that had come to her in a long time.
She told us that you had promised to see to it that her burns were
properly treated. She asked us if we could take a message from her to
you, since we would be going back to Delhi (We told her we could not.
We were neither children, any of us, nor celebrities to get an
audience with the President).
She thought we were being lazy but told us what the message was,
anyway. She said that she had been waiting for her treatment; her
burns were becoming more painful, her face was scarred and it was all
too difficult. She believed that you had kept yourself abreast of her
situation, and wanted to discuss the next step with you.
(We tried explaining to her that perhaps she had misunderstood you -
misunderstood the fact that you had promised to have her fully
treated and ordered the state to pay for her treatment. Or, perhaps
you had recommended compensation, but the only reason it had not yet
been paid, and her treatment consequently stopped, was because there
were procedures to be followed before money could be handed over to
victims. Most of all we tried to explain to her that it was
impossible for the President to keep himself abreast of specific
cases - despite his concern).
She dismissed us, of course. It was a matter between her and the
President. She asked us to fill out your address on a post-card
(which also we were unable to do very accurately). She will be
writing to you. The post-card may reach or it may not.
Shahrukh Alam, Namita Malhotra, Warisha Farasat.
October 1, 2002
Say no to war on Iraq
Father, Son and The Unholy Mission
Book Review by Ram Puniyani
(Book Reviewed- The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labor, by A.G.Noorani,
Left Word, 12 Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi 110001,PB, Rs.75)
In the aftermath of Babri demolition there was a new realization in the
country as a whole that RSS, whose volunteers are generally working in the
quiet fashion in the area of culture, are not so innocuous as it seemed.
The Khaki clad, male who worships his motherland daily morning is a part
of the organization, which in times to come wants to dictate the politics of
the country, started becoming apparent. The reason for this is not too far
to seek. This 'quiet' work on one level acts as the patron for the
politics, which has shaken the democratic roots of the society. And it is
also the one, which provides volunteers to the children organizations for
strengthening the saffron politics, it is also the one which is the major
force which is saffronising the society in a subtle manner. Though BJP,
VHP etc. have hogged the limelight for times, their subservient loyalty
and devotion to the agenda of RSS started becoming apparent to all and
sundry. It is to unravel this deeper organic connection and the hidden
bridge and the concealed link that A. G. Noorani has put forward his case
in a manner, which not only is rigorous but also is flawless.
The strongest point of the book is of course the thorough research, which
has gone in to the writing of the book, which has very impressive list of
resources and rare references. Noorani has done a yeoman service in
marshalling the facts in this book, in turn making it a crucial source
book for all those who wish to understand this organization and its wily
methods of operation.
Though in popular eyes it is the BJP which is the vehicle of the politics
of Hindu Right, Noorani shows the controlling role of RSS right from the
beginning of the formation of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the less known
predecessor of today's BJP. The agenda of RSS is Hindu Rashtra based on
Hindutva and it adopts the definition of Hindutva as propounded by
Savarkar, Apart from religious aspect involved in the conception of the
words Hindu and Hinduism, Savarkar had to coin some new words such as
Hindutva, Hinduness, Hindudom in order to express totality of cultural,
historical and above all the national aspects along with the religious
one, which mark out the Hindu people as a whole. The definition is not
consequently meant to be definition of Hindu Dharma, or Hindu religion. It
is the definition of Hindutva, Hinduness.(Savarkar, 1942)
Noorani points out, based on the quotes from Golwalkar, that RSS regards
the non-Hindus as mere guests and not the sons of the soil. Also of these
non-Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Communists are regarded as internal
threats to the Hindu Nation. Noorani gives the correct analogy of RSS
methods in politics by pointing out that RSS wants to hold the empire
without becoming the emperor. This method of holding an empire has its
advantages as the negative impact of the day-to-day politicking and
corrupt practices of the progenies does not have direct adverse impact on
it and it can keep up its pure image.
Starting from this concept, RSS went on to train the young boys, well
indoctrinated in the ideology of Hindutva, as volunteers for its
activities. In one of the impeccably referenced chapters (The Sangh
Parivar and The British) the author shows the subservient attitude of
Hindutva politicians towards the British Empire, and Savarkars undertaking
to the British govt. to seek his release from Andamands. He also shows how
two outfits of Hindutva politics (Hindu Mahasabha and RSS) merged together
in the form of Nathuram Godse the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the
Nation. The need to form a political wing was felt after the post-Gandhi
murder ban on RSS, when its Supremo Golwalkar conceded to the request of
Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, an ex-Hindu Maha Sabha leader to form a new
political party for the agenda of Hindu Rashtra. RSS lent its Swayamsevaks
to work for Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the previous avatar of the current BJP.
Two of the most illustrious swayamsevaks are currently the major vehicle
of communal politics in India, Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani.
Noorani gives apt quotes from original sources to prove his point. One of
the most poignant references is from Justice P. Venugopal commission of
inquiry, which investigated the Kanyakumari riots (March 1982) and from
Jitendra Narian Commission of inquiry (Bhagalpur riots 1979). These quotes
shows without any shadow of doubt the role of RSS in laying the base of
communal violence and the role of its cadres who have infiltrated in the
state machinery in sustaining it. Two features stand out in all the
riots-RSS men deliberately march in procession through Muslim areas
shouting offensive slogans and the slightest response is seized as pretext
to launch preplanned attacks (Noorani, 2000, 40) Noorani reminds us that
even Sardar Patel-who would have liked RSS to join Congress-accused it of
spreading communal poison. In the face of state repression RSS always bent
and the its attitude on its cadres being arrested during emergency, which
was opposed by RSS, is no exception. Its chief started sending the
messages of patch up to Indira Gandhi. In those messages he requested for
RSS cadres being released but never urged upon her to lift the emergency.
The author meticulously traces the birth of different organizations from
the womb of RSS and the assigned role of these for the politics of Hindu
Rashtra and their role in intensifying and vitiating the communal
scenario. Be it BJP, (political), VHP (quasi religious), bajarang Dal
(storm troopers) or the innocuous looking Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, each of
them is controlled from the top by RSS volunteers. It is their coordinated
activity, which resulted in the demolition of Babri Masjid. The current
Anti-Christian campaign, and other programs of Sangh Parivar are also
elaborated very well.
Undoubtedly the facts, the quotes the events that give an insight to the
politics of RSS are presented extremely well. What is missing however is
the understanding of social base of this political outfit. Which social
sections support it and why? How are they able to mobilize the other sections
in to its agenda? The analysis of RSS as a political onslaught has not been
elaborated. Why the agenda of RSS started getting more response from
the decade of 80s is not considered at asll. The book is weak on these
counts. Despite these omissions one gets a total and credible picture of
the making and functioning of RSS. It is strong on outlining the realtionship
between the parent RSS and the children BJP, VHP etc. It is a good and handy
book for the activists for secular democracy, good source for the meticulous
references about the outpourings of its leaders. All in all it is a book, which
cannot and should not be missed by those striving for preservation of the
gains of our freedom struggle, the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
S.S.Savarkar, Preface to Hindutva-Who is a Hindu, Nagpur, 1942
A.G.Noorani, The RSS and BJP, Leftword, 2000 Delhi
SAHIT : FORUM OF CREATIVE PEOPLE FOR PEACE
SAHIT is a forum of the creative people of Gujarat who believe in and
strive for peace in these dark times through which Gujarat is
passing. It includes writers, artists, dancers, musicians, theatre
and media persons, filmmakers, journalists, academics, architects and
all those connected with creative activities. Deeply disturbed by and
concerned about the atmosphere of communal hatred unleashed by the
events of February-March 2002 in Gujarat, the creative community felt
a need to have a platform through which to reinstate and reinforce
the rich plurality of our culture; to create an atmosphere of
tolerance towards all races and religions in society and to talk
about social justice through creative expression.
A meeting of writers and artists was held in June 2002 in Ahmedabad
in the presence of eminent writer and activist Mahashweta Devi where
a need for such a forum was first expressed by those present. It was
felt that the creative people needed to engage in, on a sustained and
long term basis, activities on issues of communalism and fascism, to
create an atmosphere of trust and sharing among people, and to
promote plurality of cultures of our society. There were several
meetings, which followed to discuss the nature of the forum. Finally
on 28 July 2002, in a meeting attended by nearly 125 creative
persons, SAHIT was formally founded. Today about 150 artists are
actively or through their support connected with SAHIT. We hope that
many more will join through their participation in SAHIT programmes.
THE FIRST PUBLIC EVENT: AAVO CHALE SAATH SAATH
Time: 6 pm onwards
[October 2, 2002]
Venue: 'Rang Bhavan', C.N. Vidyalay, Ambavaadi, Ahmedabad
A cultural programme is organised by SAHIT on 2 October 2002 in
Ahmedabad , which will have music, dance, plays, poetry recitation,
puppet show etc by the artists of Gujarat to convey the message of
peace, unity and harmony among people. The programme will highlight
the syncretic culture of our country. An exhibition of paintings and
graphics on the same theme will also be on display. The programmed is
organised entirely through the efforts of the members of SAHIT
without any financial assistance from Governmental/non-governmental
organisations, political parties or corporate sector. It is a gesture
of solidarity of the artists who are committed to restoring peace and
justice in society and our cultural plurality through their
involvement in the activities of SAHIT. In the same way SAHIT appeals
for cooperation and contribution from all those who are equally
concerned about saving our rich heritage from all those forces which
threaten to destroy it.
In our democratic system the equality of language, religion,
caste/creed and gender is enshrined in the fundamental rights of the
constitution. SAHIT intends to strive to protect, through creative
expression, these basic rights which are under threat by the forces
that are out to destroy differences of our composite culture and
society. It intends to organise activities like plays, music
programs, exhibitions and writing and publishing for promoting a
sense of peaceful and just society among people.
Convenors: Kumudini Lakhia; Manishi Jani
Members: Prakash N. Shah, Atul Desai, Pravin Pandya, Ranjana Aragade,
Sanjay Bhave, Saumya Joshi, Neerav Patel, Kiran Trivedi, Jasmin
Mansoori, Amit Dave, Sarup Dhruv, Hiren Gandhi, Ashish Vashi, Bijoy
Shivram, Sadhana Bhatt, Raju Barot, Pathik Shah and many others.
Centre of Dance and Music
Ahmedabad 380 006
AAVO CHALE SAATH SAATH : SOME FEATURES
Aavo Chale Saath Saath is the first programme organised by SAHIT,
which intends to present the syncretic cultural tradition of our
country. The event involves more than 150 artists from across the
state who will be presenting various performing and non-performing
arts, besides literature.
A unique feature of the programme is a collective dance performance
by six dance schools of Ahmedabad. Its source is six centuries of
rich Gujarati poetry from saint-poet Narsinh Mehta and
satirist-philosopher Akho to Umashnakar Joshi. Noted artists like
Kumudini Lakhia, Bijoy Shivram and Kalpesh Dalal have choreographed
the creation. Imubhai Desai has composed music.
A range of musical presentations is an equally important part of the
SAHIT event. Charul and Vinay who have created and sung songs of
communal harmony in various parts of Gujarat for several years and
won many hearts will present their songs.. Madhusudan Vyas will sing
the bhajan of Kutchchhi folk poet Dula Bhaya Kaag and a song from
Gujarats rashtriya shaayar Jhaverchand Meghani. Raju Barot will sing
two of Kabirs bhajans. Muslim biradars will present a Kawwali
exhorting the Sufi humanism.
Theatre is an effective means to take ideas to people. Two small
plays, based on the partition stories of Urdu writer Sadat Hasan
Manto will be staged by a reputed and committed amateur theatre group
Fade-in Theaters led by Saumya Joshi. Sambhavnath and his friends
will present a play responding to the recent carnage in Gujarat.
While these two are college students productions, Pathik Shah will
direct deaf and dumb children to perform a play, giving a message of
Some of the most concerned and committed writers of Gujarat will
recite their poems. While Saroop Dhruv, Barin Mehta, Raju Solanki and
Neerav Patel will read their Gujarati poems, Sultan Ahmed, Phoolchand
Gupta, Mrudula Parik and Sudha Mujumdar will read Hindi poems. Jayant
Parmars Urdu verses will be an enriching experience.
Piyush Jadugar will display magic tricks exposing some superstitions.
Veteran puppet-master Mahipat Kavis characters will have a word
about peaceful world. Painters will also contribute to this event.
The venue will have on display paintings and graphic posters about
peace and harmony. Two upcoming designers Piyush Solanki and Dilip
Parmar will co-ordinate the exhibition.
The script for this event, which celebrates the rich plurality of our
culture, is prepared by Ranjana Aragade and Pravin Pandya. Noted
compere Heena Saxena will anchor the event.
This programme has been put together by a number of artists who have
contributed in different ways. We hope that many people will
participate in the event so that our dream of a just and peaceful
society may come true.
The Southern Asian Institute at Columbia University is
hosting a lunch-time brown bag screening and
discussion of two documentaries on the recent violence
in Gujarat, ' Hey Ram: Genocide in the Land of Gandhi'
by Gopal Menon, and 'Evil Stalks the Land' by Gauhar
Ram Rahman, photographer and member of Sahmat, will
introduce the two films in the context of the
right-wing assault on culture and interpretations of
history, and Smita Narula of Human Rights Watch will
follow up with a discussion on the violence, relief,
human rights and justice for the victims.
Wednesday, October 2, 12 - 2 pm
School of International and Public Affairs
420 West 118th Street, 11th Floor
Tel: (212) 854-4565
University ID's required.
The Times of India, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2002
India needs leaders like Bush, Sharon: VHP
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