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SACW (2 August 01)

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire 2 August 2001 http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex [Interruption Notice: Please note that the SACW posts would be interrupted from period 6th
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2001
      South Asia Citizens Wire
      2 August 2001

      [Interruption Notice: Please note that the SACW posts would be
      interrupted from period 6th August 2001 and are expected to resume
      on the 20th August 2001. ]


      [1.] University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Sri Lanka
      [2.] Sri Lanka: Cat's Eye - Checkpoint - ll
      [3.] Press Release/Action Alert - Bangladesh
      [4.] India: Academics flay 'saffronisation'
      [5.] India: Beware of the loony brigade
      [6.] India: Sanctified Vandalism as a Political Tool
      [7.] India: All unquiet in Asind, VHP warns of more trouble if mosque
      is rebuilt
      [8.] RSS peddles Hindu Heritage to Indian diaspora
      [9.] India: Bangalore meet on victimisation of 2 Lucknow
      organisations working on HIV/AIDS issues among MSM (Men who have sex
      with men) communities



      Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 08:38:57 -0400

      University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Sri Lanka.

      The University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) (UTHR(J)) was
      formed in 1988 at the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, as part of the
      national organization University Teachers for Human Rights.

      The UTHR(J) began publishing reports on human rights violations in
      1988 from the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka by documenting
      violations by all forces, the Sri Lankan state, Indian Peace Keeping
      force and the armed groups. Its decision to make armed groups also
      accountable was a unprecedented step in an armed conflict situation
      by a local organization. Its public activities as a constituent part
      of university life came to a standstill following the murder of Dr.
      Rajani Thiranagama, a key founding member, on 21st September 1989.
      During the course of 1990 the others who identified openly with the
      UTHR(J) were forced to leave Jaffna.

      It continues to function as an organization upholding the founding
      spirit of the UTHR(J) with it original aims:

      To challenge the external and internal terror engulfing the Tamil
      community as a whole through making the perpetrators accountable, and
      to create space for humanizing the social & political spheres
      relating to the life of our community.

      The UTHR(J) is not at present functioning in the University of Jaffna
      in the manner it did in its early life for reasons well understood.
      It has so far published 13 reports, 12 Special Reports, 25 Bulletins
      and 3 Briefings, covering all aspects of human right violation by
      state and non-state forces related to the Ethnic conflict.
      All the above documents and the background to the activities of the
      UTHR(J) could be found in the web site:





      The Island (Colombo)
      Wednesday August 1 2001

      Cat's Eye
      Checkpoint - ll

      It was heartening to see that many trade unions as well as political parties
      -both Tamil and Muslim- took the initiative in protesting the alleged rape
      at the Maradana checkpoint, which we commented on recently as well. Our
      disillusionment with all political parties in Sri Lanka today -which seem to
      be primarily motivated by political interest and profit- make us sincerely
      hope that these demonstrations about the alleged rape sought to express a
      sincere concern for the violated woman and to prevent further such abuses
      rather than to merely get political mileage.
      We also trust that these parties will be similarly vigilant about protesting
      the abuses and sexual violations that are perpetrated by the LTTE against
      women of all ethnicities -Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala. However, we are still
      waiting to hear a word of protest about the cold-blooded killing of four
      unarmed women home guards attached to the Siddambarapuram refugee camp, by
      the LTTE. The ICRC keeps trying to educate the LTTE and SLA about ethical
      rules of combat but neither side seems to be listening and most of us
      citizens are condoning these atrocities with our silence.

      Suriya Protests

      We publish below (in its entirety) a statement on the Maradana checkpoint
      alleged rape issued by the most dynamic and inspiring feminist organization
      located in Batticaloa, Suriya Women's Development Centre. It is rather sad
      that only one English weekly published Suriya's statement in its entirety
      -though it was sent to all the newspapers- while a few Tamil and Sinhala
      newspapers only excerpted certain sections which coincided with their
      political ideologies:
      There has been an alarming escalation of war-time violence against women.
      Marginalised women are subject to violence by those who are in power that is
      further entrenched by patriarchy and the culture of violence.
      In addition to the recent incidents that happened at Mannar and Kaluthawalai,
      now what has allegedly happened in Maradana explicates the attitude that one
      can evade punishment if the violation is forced on a powerless and
      marginalised woman. The major factor that contributes to the persistence and
      the increase of war-time violence against women is that the violators always
      belong to the forces of the state. The state, with its accumulated power,
      always tries to safeguard its forces. However the state is expected to be
      considered responsible for the violations of human rights committed by its
      forces. We urge that state and its administrative and judicial sector should
      not defend and protect the violators.
      We seriously feel that the activism regarding wartime violence against women
      is inadequate. We are in a situation where we all women, by accumulating our
      strength with the help of individuals and social institutions that advocate
      social justice have to create a corresponding activism to enforce changes at
      the level of civil society and the state. In this regard, we, Suriya Women's
      Development Center calls for the strengthening of women's activism against
      war, militarisation and the culture of violence.

      Rape in Meesalai

      It is shocking that despite the great deal of public protest that was raised
      regarding the alleged rape at the Maradana checkpoint, the Sri Lanka army
      allegedly had the audacity to commit several more rapes in the Jaffna
      district (3 in two weeks according to the BBC) and even try to cover it up.
      We commend the government for finally arresting two soldiers in connection
      with the rape that was perpetrated near Meesalai.
      The raped woman alleged that a group of armed men in military fatigues had
      come into her home, verbally abused her in both Sinhala and Tamil, dragged
      her out of her home and gang raped her. They had also beaten up her 82-year
      old mother who had tried to prevent the attack.
      The Ministry of Defense initially sought to deny the woman's charges on the
      grounds that since the perpetrators spoke in Tamil, they must have been LTTE
      cadre seeking to discredit the armed forces of the state.
      The fact that the rape was first publicized through the pro-LTTE website,
      Tamilnet, was seen to further concretise this accusation. We find such
      knee-jerk reactions of the Sri Lankan armed forces particularly problematic
      -a similar reaction was engendered by the Sri Lankan Navy in the context of
      the two rapes that occurred in Mannar, earlier this year.
      Since one cannot assign blame until guilt has been proven, it does not cost
      the armed forces of the state anything to follow standard procedure in such
      situations which is to acknowledge that accusations have been made and to
      assure the general public that every effort is being made to investigate the
      allegations thoroughly.
      However, such statements should not be mere rhetorical ploys and evasions but
      should be followed by actions, as promised.
      Needless to say, such arrests only address the tip of the iceberg of
      extensive human rights violations that are carried out by warring parties in
      Sri Lanka -be they of the state, para-military groups or the LTTE.
      As the Suriya Women's Development Centre has pointed out, the larger task
      ahead for all of us is to eradicate war, militarization and the culture of
      violence which we have become accustomed so quickly to accept as our everyday




      30 July 2001

      Journalist's house target of bomb attack

      SOURCE: Media Watch, Dhaka

      (Media Watch/IFEX) - The following is a Media Watch press release:

      Bomb attack on journalist's house

      At midday on 29 July, assailants attacked the house of Al Amin
      Shahrior, correspondent for the daily "Manavjamin", in Bhola (a
      district town in southern Bangladesh), with a hand-made bomb. No one
      was injured as a result of the blast, although Al Amin's father was
      injured as he was trying to escape from the attack.

      Al Amin's family members said that supporters of the local Awami
      League were annoyed with Al Amin because of some of his recent
      reports on their party's activities. During the last few days, Al
      Amin received threats from workers of the Bangladesh Chattra League
      (BCL, the Awami League student wing), advising him to not publish any
      negative news on Awami League activities, which might affect them in
      the forthcoming election.

      Police stated that the bomb used in the attack was very powerful.
      After the attack, Al Amin's family members had to leave the house for
      their safety. Thus far, nobody has been arrested in connection with
      this incident.


      Send appeals to authorities:

      - expressing concern over the attack and urging them to take action


      Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed
      Honorable President
      Fax: +880 2 96 566 242

      Justice Latifur Rahman
      Chief Advisor of the caretaker government
      Fax: +880 2 8 113 244

      Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

      For further information, contact BulBul Monjurul-Ahsan, Executive
      Director, Media Watch, Street Address: 2/3/A, PuranaPaltan, Gr. Fl.
      Dhaka-1000, Mailing Address: GPO Box 3521, Dhaka, Bangladesh, tel:
      +880 2 956 7070/880 18 22 3309, fax: +880 2 956 7070, e-mail:

      The information contained in this press release/action alert is the
      sole responsibility of Media Watch. In citing this material for
      broadcast or publication, please credit Media Watch.

      Shahidul Alam
      Drik Picture Library



      Hindustan Times
      August 2, 2001
      Academics flay 'saffronisation'
      HT Correspondent
      New Delhi, August 1

      THE SAFDAR Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) today hit out at the
      BJP-led NDA government's alleged agenda of `communalisation' of

      At a press conference, SAHMAT representatives, Professor Arjun Dev
      and Prabhat Patnaik said: "The communal agenda has become apparent in
      the recent past with instances like the sacking of the ICSSR chairman
      and the introduction of Vedic astrology and Vedic sciences in the
      central universities."

      Despite the fact that school education is a state subject and higher
      education a concurrent subject, the Centre is consulting neither the
      state governments nor the Central Advisory Board of education while
      introducing far-reaching changes in these areas, alleges SAHMAT.

      Recent developments such as the introduction of Vedic astrology in
      institutions of higher learning is "symptomatic of the shrinking of
      rational discourse," said Prof Patnaik. In fact, he added, the recent
      statement by the UGC chairman, Dr Hari Gautam that astrology was a
      science like the social sciences, `devalues the social sciences.'
      Prof Dev further contended that there are no Vedas that make use of
      astrology for their hypotheses. "In fact, a large part of astrology
      as we know it today has been imported," he said.

      According to Prof Patnaik, the effort was to pass off theology as
      history. There is a difference, he said, in teaching subjects like
      astrology as a vocational course by training institutes and their
      being taught as disciplines in universities - there would be

      little objection to the former, he added.



      Hindustan Times
      2 August 2001

      Beware of the loony brigade

      TO NO one's surprise, the VHP has had no qualms in acknowledging its
      role in the demolition of a disused 500-year old Kalandari mosque at
      Asind near Bhilwara in Rajasthan and 'converting' it into a 'temple'.
      Reportedly, the RSS also made its contribution to keeping the flag of
      'Hinduism' flying. This particular act is a crazy one even by VHP
      standards. In Ayodhya at least, the RSS and its affiliates could
      claim to have operated in pursuit of an undefinable religious
      sentiment since they said that Ram was born where the Babri mosque
      stood. But at Asind, there was no excuse at all for demolishing a
      place of worship, except that it belonged to non-Hindus.

      This act of vandalism was calculated to injure and inflame Muslim
      sentiment. It is unlikely that a secret centre of the loony brigade
      of the Hindu Right guides activities of this kind. It is undeniable,
      however, that the VHP and other RSS affiliates have succeeded in
      spreading a venomous message, according to which it is perfectly
      legitimate to target the minority communities. There is an underlying
      political purpose behind such a thought process.

      For quite some time after Ayodhya, the Hindutva lobby seemed to
      abjure destructive activity, possibly because the courts were on
      their tail. Of course, there was no let-up in their trident-waving
      bravado. Nor were they completely inactive, as the murder of Graham
      Staines and his two sons in Orissa and attacks against Christians in
      Gujarat and elsewhere showed. The most glaring aspect of these
      incidents has been the perceived reluctance on the part of the Centre
      to go for the criminals. There is also a worry that with the decline
      of the BJP's popularity graph, the extremists in the Hindutva ranks
      may become more active in a bid to recover lost political ground
      before the UP elections. All governments have to be on guard,
      therefore, especially the one at the Centre.



      Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2001 11:37:40 +0000

      Sanctified Vandalism as a Political Tool

      by Yoginder Sikand

      The recent destruction of a centuries-old mosque in a small town in
      Rajasthan and the construction of a temple in its place points to a
      recurring theme in India history--the use of sanctified vandalism as
      a political tool. In recent years, ever since the campaign to destroy
      the Babri Masjid was launched, we have been fed with constant
      propaganda that the destruction of places of worship was a fine art
      that Muslims, fired with an irrepressible iconoclastic zeal, had
      mastered. Yet, as the recent Rajasthani case so clearly suggests,
      others have been, and continue to be, guilty of the sin as well.
      It is true that, as the historical records show, that some
      Muslim kings did indeed destroy Hindu temples. This even Muslims
      themselves would hardly dispute. In assessing the historical record,
      however, certain precautions are necessary. Most importantly, a
      distinction must be made between Islamic commandments, on the one
      hand, and the acts of individual Muslims on the other. The Quran in
      no way sanctions the destruction of the places of worship of people
      of other faiths. For the most part, Muslims have abided by the
      Quranic injunction that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’. Thus,
      for instance, after Muhammad bin Qasim, leading the first Muslim army
      to India, had subdued Sind, he granted the local Hindus and Buddhists
      full religious freedom and guaranteed the protection of their
      shrines. Or, for that matter, when Sultan Sikander of Kashmir, egged
      on by his Brahmin Prime Minister, Suha Bhat, set about pulling down
      temples on a large scale, the leading Kashmiri Muslim Sufi , Hazrat
      Nuruddin Nurani, bitterly protested, arguing that Islam did not
      sanction this. This opinion was shared by several other Muslim ulama
      and Sufis as well. Thus, the Tabaqat-e-Akbari tells us that when they
      heard that Sultan Sikander Lodi (r. 1489-1517) was planning to
      destroy some temples, a group of high-ranking 'ulama protested'
      saying that, 'It is not lawful to lay waste ancient idol temples'.
      Caution must be exercised in accepting the narratives
      provided by medieval writers about the exploits of kings, including
      their 'feats' of temple destruction. Most historians were employees
      of the royal courts, and they tended to exaggerate the 'exploits' of
      the kings in order to present them as great champions of Islam, an
      image that hardly fits the facts that we know about them. Thus, for
      instance, the author of the late eighteenth century 'Riyaz-ul
      Salatin' claimed that Muhammad Bakhtiyar demolished several temples
      in Bengal when he captured the province in 1204, although there is no
      evidence to suggest that this had indeed be the case. In his recent
      book, "Essays on Islam and Indian History" the well-known historian
      Richard Eaton points out that of the sixty thousand-odd cases of
      temple destruction by Muslim rulers cited by contemporary Hindutva
      sources one may identify only eighty instances ‘whose historicity
      appears to be reasonably certain’.
      Eaton clearly shows that cases of destruction of places of
      worship were not restricted to Muslim rulers alone. He recounts
      numerous instances of Hindu kings having torn down Hindu temples, in
      addition to Jaina and Buddhist shrines. He says that these must be
      seen as, above all, powerful politically symbolic acts. Typically,
      cases of shrine destruction are reported in the wake of the overthrow
      of a powerful enemy and the annexation of his territory. The royal
      temple of the enemy was often pulled down to symbolise the enemy's
      defeat. Thus, for instance, the historical records speak of the
      seventh century Hindu Pallava king Narasimhavarman I, who looted an
      idol of Ganesha from the Chalukyan capital of Vatapi. Fifty years
      later, the Hindu Chalukyan army brought back with them idols of Ganga
      and Jamuna, looted from temples of their fellow Hindu enemies to the
      north. In the eighth century, a Bengali Hindu army is said to have
      destroyed an idol of Vishnu belonging to their imperial foe, the
      Hindu king Lalitaditya of Kashmir. In the tenth century, the Hindu
      Pratihara king Herambapala defeated the Hindu Shahi king of Kangra
      and looted a solid gold idol of Vishnu from the Kangra royal temple.
      In the eleventh century, the Chola ruler Rajendra I furnished his
      capital with idols of Hindu deities that he had captured from his
      enemies, the Chalukyas, the Palas and the Kalingas. The sixteenth
      century Vijaynagara ruler, Krishna Deva Raya, is reported to have
      looted an idol of Krishna from Udaygiri after inflicting on it a
      crushing defeat. He is also said to have looted a Vittala idol from
      the famous Pandharpur temple. Besides looting idols from the temples
      of their fellow Hindu enemies, several Hindu kings are reported to
      have destroyed the royal temples of their vanquished foes to signal
      their victory. Thus, the tenth century Rashtrakuta king Indra III
      destroyed the temple of Kalapriya at Kalpa, after defeating his
      dreaded enemies, the Rashtrakutas. Likewise, Kapilendra, the founder
      of the Suryavanshi Gajapati dynasty in Orissa is said to have sacked
      several Hindu temples in the course of his military campaigns in the
      Tamil country. These are instances of Hindu kings looting Hindu
      idols and destroying Hindu temples for political purposes. The number
      of Jaina and Buddhist shrines destroyed by Hindu kings must certainly
      be much greater.
      Because royal temples served as powerful political symbols
      and centres—where often kings were worshipped as forms of the
      deities—they seem to have been the particular object of attack by
      invaders, irrespective of religion. As Eaton remarks, 'It is clear
      that temples had been the natural sites for the contestation of
      kingly authority well before the coming of Muslim Turks to India. Not
      surprisingly, Turkish invaders, when attempting to plant their own
      rule in early medieval India' followed and continued established
      patterns’. He further adds that 'Whatever form they took' acts of
      temple desecration were never directed at the people, but at the
      enemy king and the image that incarnated and displayed his
      state-deity’. Like in the case of Hindu rulers’ attacks on temples,
      Eaton says that almost all instances of Muslim rulers destroying
      Hindu shrines were recorded in the wake of their capture of enemy
      territory. Once these territories were fully integrated into their
      dominions, few temples were targetted. This itself clearly shows
      that these acts were motivated, above all, by political concerns and
      not by a religious impulse to extirpate idolatry. The essentially
      political, as opposed to religious or communal, nature of these acts
      is clearly suggested in the details that the historical chronicles
      provide. Thus, for instance, we hear of the army of the Golconda
      Muslim Sultans, led by the Marathi Hindu Brahmin general, Murahari
      Rao, which conquered a large swathe of territory up to the Krishna
      river. Rao is said to have sacked the famous Ahobilam temple, and
      looted its ruby-studded idol, which he presented to the Sultan as a
      war trophy. Likewise, we are told that Sultan Sulaiman Karrani of
      Bengal dispatched an army to Orissa against the Hindu Gajapati Raja
      to punish him for entering into a pact with the enemies of the
      Sultan, the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the Pathan Ibrahim Sur. The
      army, after defeating the Raja, then set about looting the Jagannath
      temple, the main royal shrine. As Eaton shows, it was usually the
      large royal temples that were targetted, for not only were they
      symbols of political power, but were also richly endowed with jewels,
      gold and other precious metals.
      In the wake of these attacks on enemy power, ordinary people were
      rarely targetted. Thus, for instance, when a Mughal army attacked
      Kuch Bihar in northern Bengal and destroyed the idol of the
      state-deity of Raja Bhim Narayan, the chief Mughal qazi of Bengal,
      Sayyed Muhammad Sadiq, issued an order to the Mughal soldiers that,
      "nobody should touch the cash and property of the people" laying down
      that those who infringed this order would have their hands, ears or
      noses lopped off.
      If the destruction of temples were, above all, powerful
      political acts, so too were instances of patronage extended to
      temples by rulers. Thus, in addition to Hindu rulers, many Muslim
      kings endowed temples with large land grants. A fourteenth century
      Sanskrit inscription records that thirteen years after his annexation
      of the northern Deccan, Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq appointed a
      Muslim official to repair a Shiva temple at Kalyana. The
      much-maligned Aurangzeb, who is said to have destroyed some Hindu
      temples, is also known to have made extensive grants to other Hindu
      shrines. Thus, in 1659 in a royal order issued to his officers in
      Benaras, he wrote:
      'In these days' information has reached our court that
      several people have, out of spite and rancour, harassed the Hindu
      residents of Benaras and nearby places, including a group of Brahmans
      who are in charge of ancient temples there. These people want to
      remove those Brahmans from their charge of temple-keeping, which has
      caused them considerable distress. Therefore, upon receiving this
      order, you must see that nobody unlawfully disturbs the Brahmans or
      other Hindus of that region, so that they might remain in their
      traditional place and pray for the continuance of the Empire’
      Aurangzeb further added that, 'According to the Holy law
      [shari’at] and the exalted creed' it has been established that
      ancient temples should not be torn down’.

      Eaton, after closely examining the historical record, shows
      that the temples whose destruction Aurangzeb had ordered had been
      associated with his political rivals. If temples belonging to Hindu
      political rivals were targetted by Muslim kings, they did not desist
      from similarly brutally attacking their fellow Muslim foes and
      rebels. The history of Muslim rule in India is replete with stories
      of Muslim kings fighting among themselves. Muslim rebels were treated
      with equal severity as their Hindu counterparts. Thus, Isami writes
      in his 'Futuh us Salatin' that when the Muslim general Bahauddin
      Gurhasp joined hands with the Hindu Raja of Kampila and rose in
      revolt against Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq, his own first cousin, he
      was flayed alive, after which his skin was stuffed with straw and
      paraded through the streets, after which his body was filled with
      rice and fed to the royal elephants.
      Hindus and Muslims alike, then, have been equally guilty of
      destroying places of worship, and, in this regard, as in any other,
      neither has a monopoly of virtue or vice. The destruction of the
      mosque in Rajasthan and building a temple in its place, like the
      tearing down of the Babri Masjid by Hindutva zealots or the vandalism
      of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban, shows how sanctified vandalism
      and medieval notions of the politics of revenge are still alive and
      thriving in our part of the world.



      Indian Express
      Wednesday, August 1, 2001

      All unquiet in Asind, VHP warns of more trouble if mosque is rebuilt


      BHILWARA, JULY 31: UNTIL last Friday,
      there was a 16th century single walled
      Kalandari style mosque with three
      minarets in Asind, 55 kms from Bhilwara.
      Today, after a smooth and swift
      demolition job by a 300-strong mob of Gurjars,
      assisted by activists of the Vishwa Hindu
      Parishad (VHP) and RSS, there's a
      marble platform with a Hanuman statue in
      its place. The structure even has a
      name: 'Mandir Peer Pachar Hanumanji': the
      god who defeated the Muslim peer
      (Badiawale Baba who's buried in the nearby dargah).

      A police cordon rings the 'temple' whose
      sudden appearance last Friday has
      fanned communal tension in an otherwise
      peaceful district. Muslims number 5,000
      in a 20,000-strong population in Asind.
      Though two FIRs were lodged against the
      Gurjars, no arrests have been made so
      far, since, says Bhilwara's SP K C Bhagat,
      the police haven't been able to identify
      more than four people, all of whom are
      absconding. The main accused is one
      Mansukh Singh, a member of the Rajesh
      Pilot Brigade.

      Both the mosque and neighbouring Sawai
      Bhoj temple were built over 70 bighas
      of land by Emperor Akbar's army on its
      return from a battle in Chittorgarh. Police
      say the first seed of trouble was sown at
      the annual three-day Urs festival in Asind
      this year.

      The entrance to the dargah, which is in
      the rear of the premises, was blocked by a
      boundary wall built by the Gurjars around
      their temple. The Gurjars wield a great
      deal of power here - the BJP MLA from the
      area is Ramlal Gurjar.

      Then, when some Muslims set up tents in
      the compound to house qawwals, the
      Gurjars protested. Claiming that the
      tents had occupied more space than was
      permitted, they burnt
      them down. Even as angry Muslim youth
      were looting shops in the nearby market
      in retaliation, a mob armed with swords
      and lathis speedily tore down the mosque
      and built the temple last Friday.

      The police have been typically slow to
      react to the turn of events. According to SP
      Bhagat, ''Only five or six policemen were
      outside the premises when this
      happened. But when the tents were being
      burnt, around 20 policemen prevented
      the mob from burning down the adjoining
      dargah.'' The IGP (Intelligence) M K
      Devarajan has also visited Asind, as
      three-member team from the Congress

      VHP district president Amrit Lal Khemka
      has no qualms in admitting the Sangh
      outfit's hand in the demolition. ''Around
      10-12 activists of the VHP and our RSS
      friends were in Asind and helped the
      Gurjars in the demolition. The mosque was
      an illegal structure like the Babri
      Masjid and it deserved to be knocked down. All
      illegal structures like this one should
      be demolished, aisa hona chahiye.''

      Though the chairperson of the Rajasthan
      Wakf Board, Nasir Ali Naqvi, today met
      Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and
      demanded that the demolished
      mosque be rebuilt, Khemka threatened to
      oppose any reconstruction. ''What has
      been built should be left there,'' he said.
      This is the second such demolition in
      Bhilwara district in the past two weeks. On
      the night of August 16, two ancient
      mazars of Hazrat Sayyid Baba and Mithal Ali
      Baba were damaged in Jahazpur 90 kms from
      Bhilwara, as a suspected reaction to
      the failed Indo-Pak talks. Here too, the
      Muslim community is in a minority.

      © 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.




      Lessons in faith for overseas Hindus

      By Imran Qureshi, Indo-Asian News Service

      Bangalore, July 31 (IANS) Why is a sari worn, what is a Hindu's heritage,
      what is yoga, how can Hindus face up to ethnic strife?

      To learn all this and much more, almost 100 second generation Hindus from 10
      countries have gathered at an annual training camp organized here by the
      Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's most influential Hindu group.

      With traditional sports, lectures, discussions, slide shows and
      question-answer sessions, the 21-day camp is part of the RSS program to give
      overseas Hindus a taste of their roots.

      "Unlike here, where the gap between one Hindu and another is just a wall, in
      other countries it could be hundreds of miles. Parents have a problem to
      maintain Hindu identity," said RSS spokesman Sripathi Sastry.

      Sastry also said the camp was an attempt to answer questions of Hindu
      children born abroad about their faith.

      A day at the camp begins at 4.30 a.m. with lessons in traditional martial
      arts and drill followed by academic lessons and discussions. Indian games
      like "kho-kho" and "kabaddi" are also taught.

      The camp seems to be making an impact on its visitors. "I can get ideas
      about my dharma, about yoga. It's more a refresher course for me," said
      Sanjay Mangalal Dhorajia, a software engineer from Britain. "Now I can go
      back to Birmingham and improve the 'shakhas' (branches) there."

      The RSS has over 400 branches around the world.

      It was an ethnic strife between Hindus and Christians in Surinam that
      prompted 15-year-old Amaris Reame to take a 56-hour flight to Bangalore to
      study Hinduism.

      "I have come here to gain more knowledge," said Reame, a member of the Hindu
      Swayamsevak Sangh, the overseas version of the RSS.

      "The training camp would help them (the participants) to work for the Hindu
      community more intensely," said Ravi Kumar, a "pracharak" or RSS regional
      head from Sydney.

      "The art of living in an alien culture and the art of organization is being
      taught here. Questions like why a 'bindi' (ornamental dot) is applied on the
      forehead or why a sari is worn are explained.

      "It gives them a new dimension in life," added Kumar.

      --Indo-Asian News Service



      Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 08:47:19 +0530
      Priority: normal

      Dear friend(s)

      You may have already heard about the arrest of employees of 2 NGOs
      (Bharosa and Naz Foundation International) in Lucknow on 7th July. Both
      organisations work on HIV/AIDS issues among MSM (Men who have sex
      with men) communities. All the arrested people were charged with
      conspiring to commit "unnatural sexual acts" under Section 377 among
      other charges. All the arrested people are still in Jail.

      We invite you to a meeting, where we can discuss and plan a joint
      response to this outrage. Mr. Anand Grover (of the Lawyers Collective),
      who will be taking up the case in the High Court will also be present.

      DATE: Thursday, 2ND AUGUST 2001

      TIME: 5:30 PM

      VENUE: CED (Centre for Education and Documentation), No. 7, 8th Main,
      3rd Phase, Domlur 2nd Stage, Bangalore - 560 071. Ph: 5353397

      DIRECTIONS: While travelling on the Airport road take the road bang
      opposite New Shanthi Sagar Restaurant. You will have Domlur Bus Depot
      to your right. After 500 meters the road will curve to the left. 100 meters
      after this curve you will find a 3 storied red brick (un-plastered) building
      with green windows. CED is located on the ground floor of this building.

      In Solidarity

      Alternative Law Forum (ALF), AIDS Forum Karnataka (AFK)
      Centre for Education and Documentation (CED), Manasa
      Narmada Solidarity Forum (NSF), Nisarga Srishti
      People's Union of Civil Liberties - Karnatata (PUCL-K)
      Sabrang, Sangama


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