South Asia Citizens Wire | Dispatch #2.
13 November 2001
#1. The war will go on indefinitely (M.B. Naqvi )
#2. South Asia's Unsafe Nukes - Nuclear Apocalypse Now? (Praful Bidwai)
#3. Peace, trust and impartiality (Manabi Majumdar)
#4. Human rights activists on the second day of the founding congress
of South Asian Human Rights (SAHR)
#5. Kashmir discussion - Center for South Asian & Indian Ocean
Studies, Tufts University (USA)
#6. India: Savarkar film to project Sangh philosophy
#7. India's Hindu Supremacist Right: VHP offshoot behind reign of
terror (Mohammed Iqbal)
#8. India's Fascist Youth League: 'Bajrang Dal' pamphlet seized in
Rajasthan (Mohammed Iqbal)
The war may go on indefinitely.
Karachi Nov 12:
After a long stalemate between the Northern Alliance and Taliban on the
northern front, there has been a sudden flurry of Northern Alliance
advances. They have taken Mazar-i-Sharif all too quickly and have
taken control of many provinces particularly, Kakhaar, Baghlan and
another. They have also taken the key city Haireten and are trying to
reopen a key bridge and the highway between Uzbekistan and
Mazar-i-Sharif can then be reopened. Once that road is open, it will be
possible to move equipment and large number of men overland and with the
repair of Mazr-i-Sharifs airfield, ground operations on a large scale
would then become possible.
Meanwhile with the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif and the surrounding areas,
Kabul has become an easy target. Although US President George W Bush
has endorsed the Pakistan president Musharrafs plea that the Northern
Alliance should not enter Kabul at this stage, the American war
department has nevertheless asserted that the Northern Alliance cannot
be prevented from doing so. Pakistan Presidents fears are that Kabul
should change hand only after there is an Agreement on Postwar Afghan
government. But an agreed Afghan government looks like a chimera.
Northern Alliance does look like taking Kabul faily soon.
What are the Taliban doing? A British observer has said that they have
stopped the confronting the Northern Alliance troops, having tactfully
withdrawn for regrouping and possible guerilla action. If this is true,
and it does look like being a strong likelihood, the whole texture and
style of the war would rapidly change. Northern Alliance and their
American allies would have a walkover throughout most of the country.
But the war will go on indefinitely. The first consequence of which
would be that the Taliban effort to make the new American-nominated
government ineffective by preventing its writ from running in the
countryside where there will be no law and order. The second consequence
would be that Afghanistan would remain the rubble it is and there would
be no reconstruction or restoration of infrastructure.
Next few days would show what the Taliban strategy is because the bulk
of their soldiery and equipment is said to be still in working order.
Perhaps they want to persevere as much as may of these things as may be
possible by not fighting set piece battles with troops that may be
equipped heavily with latest arms. The prospect does not look good from
any viewpoint. Ends story.
The Praful Bidwai Column for the week beginning November 12
South Asia's Unsafe Nukes
Nuclear Apocalypse Now?
By Praful Bidwai
As the "anti-terrorist" war rages on in Afghanistan, the spectre of a
nuclear confrontation stalks South Asia. This clear, present and
growing danger can no longer be hidden. Numerous recent disclosures
suggest that such a confrontation could come about through several
different routes, involving not just Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but
also Pakistan, India and the US. For instance, there are reports that
Osama bin Laden may have procured nuclear material through
sympathetic Pakistani scientists. There are growing fears among
Pakistan's generals that their nuclear weapons, considered "crown
jewels", could become the target of a hostile attack (from Israel?
India? US?) and need to be especially protected.
Most worrisome, says The Sunday Times ("The Sunday Times" in italics)
(London), Pakistan may be planning to remove its nuclear weapons to
its friendly eastern neighbour, China, for "safekeeping". This can
spark a hostile reaction from the US. Not least, heightened
India-Pakistan hostility could further escalate, threatening a
The consequences of any one of such crises leading to the threatened
or actual use of nuclear weapons would be unspeakably horrific. Yet
sober analysis, based on the history of the 40-odd nuclear
near-misses during the Cold War, and on the dynamic of the
hostilities under way today, suggests four highly plausible
nuclear-confrontation scenarios. The chances of their materialisation
have considerably increased since the Afghanistan war began on Oct 7.
Common to all four is growing discontent in Pakistan as fiercely
pro-Taliban anti-war protests mount, destabilising the Musharraf
government, many of whose functionaries are deeply distrustful of the
new intimacy between Islamabad and Washington. Consider the following
possibilities, each with its own logic:
Scenario 1: The Pakistan army, convulsed by growing social unrest
and by internal divisions between pro-Musharraf and pro-Taliban
officers, undergoes splits and fission--far more intense than the
tension that recently led Gen Musharraf to reshuffle 10 of his top 17
army commanders. There is a bitter internal contest for the "crown
jewels". The pro-Taliban group seizes Pakistan's poorly safeguarded
nuclear weapons and fissile material, and transfers them to Al-Qaeda
which threatens to use them against the US and its "stooges",
Pakistan and India. Al-Qaeda's threat is not empty.
The US intervenes to prevent this. As reported by investigative
journalist Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker ("The New Yorker" in
italics) (October 29), the US has already set up a special
deep-penetration commando unit under the Pentagon and the CIA,
trained especially to detect, search, de-fang, disable or remove
nuclear weapons even from relatively well-guarded facilities. The
commando force, reports Hersh, is exercising with Israel's Unit 262,
known for its covert operations, and especially trained to penetrate
The US special unit fails to disable all of Pakistan's nuclear
weapons, estimated to number between 20 and 60. Al-Qaeda sets off
several nuclear explosions, causing devastation. In an alternative
sub-scenario, Al-Qaeda only gets hold of a large quantity of
plutonium-239 from Pakistan, not whole weapons. But this plutonium is
enough to kill hundreds of thousands of people if a crude bomb
containing it is detonated over a big city with easily available
conventional explosives. Even if it does not undergo a proper fission
chain-reaction, the plutonium will scatter over a large area. A few
microgrammes of inhaled or ingested plutonium-239 produces cancer in
its victim. And the explosion will disperse millions ("millions" in
italics) of microgrammes. It's not for nothing that plutonium--the
most poisonous substance known to science--is named after the Greek
god of Hell. Mass destruction ensues in either case.
Scenario 2: The US is frustrated at its lack of success in "smoking
out" Osama bin Laden--despite intensified air strikes on Kabul,
Kandahar and the Taliban's northern frontlines, and despite ground
commando operations, etc. The war continues into Ramzan and the
commencement of Afghanistan's winter. American forces manage to
locate bin Laden's rough whereabouts--in a reinforced deep natural
cave with its own supply of electricity, water and food. (Afghanistan
has scores of such caves.) But heavy conventional bombs cannot
Desperate for results before the peak of the Afghan winter, President
Bush orders the use of "tactical" nuclear weapons against the
hideouts. The bombing creates widespread havoc in the Afghanistan
landmass. It also sends a huge cloud of radioactivity towards
Pakistan and India. It violates norms of nuclear restraint and
non-proliferation, encouraging nuclear-capable states to cross the
threshold--making Nuclear Armageddon a distinct near-future global
This scenario is not as far-fetched as might appear. Defence
secretary Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly refused to rule out the use
of nuclear weapons--as on October 29 in a CNN interview. The US has
recently developed specific earth-penetrating nuclear bombs by
modifying regular warhead designs codenamed W-61. These are 15-20
kilotons bombs--with the same destructive potential as those used on
Scenario 3: Faced with heightened social and political turmoil,
Pakistan implements the plan outlined in The Sunday Times ("The
Sunday Times" in italics). It starts moving its nuclear arsenal to
China because it does not trust the US to "guard" its weapons.
Earlier, Mr Colin Powell had offered Pakistan some high-tech
assistance to improve the security of missile vaults, including
special codes which can prevent unauthorised arming of nuclear
warheads and "rogue" missile launches. Pakistan was reluctant to
accept this out of fear that the CIA would bug its nuclear facilities
once it gains access to them. (Pakistan has only accepted the US
offer to train its personnel in preventing accidents at civilian
power plants and thefts of weapons-grade material).
Islamabad's decision to remove nuclear bombs to China leads to a
revolt or mutiny in the Pakistan army. Alarmed, the Bush
administration tells Pakistan not to transfer the weapons. It is
deeply suspicious of Beijing and aware of past Chinese assistance to
Islamabad's nuclear programme, including transfer of ring magnets for
uranium enrichment. Pakistan balks at the US command. Reports about
US preparations to "neutralise" Pakistan's nuclear weapons further
intensify its internal crisis. America makes menacing moves. Pakistan
resists. Its leadership is united in opposing what it fears would be
its arsenal's permanent "neutralisation". Enraged, the US attacks
Pakistan's nuclear facilities, destroying some and causing a nuclear
Scenario 4: Kashmir Valley militants, recently declared "terrorist"
by the US justice department, unleash suicide attacks on Indian
security forces. Under pressure from Mr George Fernandes and Mr L.K.
Advani, New Delhi responds "ruthlessly" as promised--with "punitive"
attacks, some of which spill across the border, where the Pakistani
army is conducting exercises. An eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation
ensues. India now plans a major offensive to "decapitate" Pakistan.
Islamabad, already embroiled in trouble on its western border,
threatens a nuclear first strike on India. A right-wing chorus in
India clamours for "the final solution". The RSS and Mr Farooq
Abdullah demand: We must reoccupy "Azad Kashmir" and "settle" the
Kashmir problem once and for all. The US tries to mediate but is
rebuffed. Pakistan makes a "use-them-or-lose them" choice and bombs
Delhi/Mumbai. India retaliates by bombing Karachi/Lahore.
In an alternative scenario, Mr Fernandes apprehends uncontrollable
instability and chaos in Pakistan, and prevails upon Mr Vajpayee to
order a pre-emptive nuclear strike to destroy Pakistan's arsenal. In
both cases, millions perish.
The probability of these scenarios coming to pass is, of course, low.
But it is finite, real, and much higher than before. In any event,
"low" doesn't mean much after September 11. The scenarios are no
longer in the realm of the inconceivable. The least they demand is
that we acknowledge that South Asia's nuclearisation has made
millions of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Nepalis vulnerable
to a Nuclear Armageddon. All those irresponsible "experts" who told
us that nuclear weapons would induce "sobriety" and "maturity" in
India-Pakistan relations now stand disgraced.
Equally badly disgraced is Mr Fernandes who has just given Pakistan
an unsolicited certificate of "responsibility" in safeguarding its
nuclear weapons. Responding to reports about the vulnerability of
Pakistan's arsenal, Mr Fernandes on Oct 30 said: "I would like to
give them credit. Those concerned with Pakistan's nuclear programme
are responsible people." This spectacularly irresponsible comment was
not based on familiarity with Pakistan's nuclear programme or
practices, which many Indian policy-makers had underestimated--right
until May 1998. Rather, it was meant to deflect uncomfortable
questions about the safety of India's own nuclear arsenal (which too
has a high potential for mishaps). Both governments, addicted to
nuclearism, want to minimise the unique nuclear danger in South Asia
and ridicule concerns about nuclear safety.
It just won't do to play down or dismiss the grave danger that
confronts the 1.3 billion people of South Asia. If we are to reduce
it, we must lower the temperature of India-Pakistan hostility, resume
the Agra process, and agree to bilateral nuclear restraint measures.
These should include the separation of fissile material from
detonators, and of warheads or bomb configurations from missiles and
aircraft. To meet the true needs of nuclear sobriety and restraint,
such a regional agreement must be verifiable. It must serve as a step
towards global nuclear abolition. New Delhi and Islamabad must give
up their Big Power pretences and nuclear obsessions. Or else, we
could all become specks of radioactive dust.--end--
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
Peace, trust and impartiality
By Manabi Majumdar
THOSE OF us who condemn at once the recent terrorist attack on
innocent lives in the United States as well as the American war
hysteria in Afghanistan still have to respond to the reasonable
charge that ``alternative is the best criticism''. What alternative
course of action can we suggest to check the carnage being
perpetrated by either rogue ``warlords'' or rogue ``states''? The
simple answer is: peace activism.
Indeed, several ardent initiatives are being undertaken in different
parts of the globe to establish a people's forum for peace and
dialogue that, in turn, will encourage more people-to- people
contact. The fervent hope is that such face-to-face interaction will
cultivate friendship and trust among people who may otherwise fall
into the trap of xenophobia - the fear of outsiders. For example,
many groups are working in the Indian subcontinent to develop
friendly relations among the citizens of South Asia, especially
between the people of India and Pakistan, with the aim of influencing
their Governments' policies in more reasonable directions.
There is indeed a strong intuitive appeal to the argument that if we
can pierce the ``veil of ignorance'' that separates the citizens of
different countries, get to know more about people's aspirations and
predicaments in ``foreign'' lands and learn to trust one another, we
will be more inclined to collectively engage in the resolution of
conflicts. However, much as we advocate ``personalised'' trust as an
important route to solidarity, collective endeavour and peace, we
need to acknowledge its limits too on a number of counts.
First, mutual trust and mutual suspicion may co-exist and even thrive
together. For example, in parts of Europe, especially in areas
enjoying economic boom, there has been a right-wing resurgence in
recent times. These are precisely the regions where several civic
groups are highly active. But the vibrant civil society that has
fostered strong ties within the members of various ``community
enclaves'' has not been successful in cultivating a similar bond
across communities. Hence, we hear the pronouncements from the
far-right Austrian politician, Mr. Joerg Haider, or the British
Conservative leader, Mr. William Hague, openly advocating a crackdown
on foreign immigrants, while encouraging civic ties among the
resident communities at the same time.
Second, trust-proneness is not a linear function of greater knowledge
about other communities and groups. One has to only recall with
sadness that when the communal carnage devastated our subcontinent
during Partition, or when the Sikhs in Delhi or the Muslims in Mumbai
were attacked in the more recent past, the communities concerned had
a fairly intimate knowledge of and a fair degree of interaction with
one another. Yet animosity and communal tensions could be instigated
by ``..playing on some people's fear and pandering to some people's
prejudices.'' Proximity is not an automatic antidote to suspicion,
fear and hostility.
Third, more information and greater contacts may make us, for
perfectly valid reasons, more sceptical about the intentions of some
groups, instead of doing the opposite. While keeping our basic faith
in humanity intact, we have to be wary of misplaced trust or
tolerance in fundamentalism of all hues. Unfortunately, however, even
with a fair amount of information about the aims and activities of
various terrorist organisations, especially in the oil-rich regions
of the globe, covert business transactions were none the fewer, at
least until very recently, between American oil companies or arms
industries and the former. So continues the uninterrupted flow of
weapons and drugs across continents, and in their wake violence,
terrorism and death. Therefore, knowledge about ground realities
alone is not enough to prompt people to disengage from actions that
may suit the narrow self-interest of particular groups but have
sinister consequences for the general public.
Similarly, and finally, public knowledge about grave injustices and
inept policies do not necessarily catapult us to sensible action.
Otherwise, why are we, at least a large part of the public, inert and
inactive even after having a vivid knowledge of the predicament of
the starving people in our country on the one hand and of the
availability of adequate foodstocks on the other? Insensitivity or
animosity often emanates from ignorance, but not always. Not
infrequently, it is common knowledge that spawns it; we get so used
to entrenched inequalities that we often relegate them to the status
of everyday trivia, not sufficiently momentous for action.
The above points give us grounds for being both cautious and
optimistic. The optimistic message is that interaction among people
within and between nations and greater awareness of the ground
reality are helpful. After all, people have to be able to work
together without hostility to engage in cultural exchanges or in
bilateral and multilateral trade. In South Asia, for example, mutual
dependence in cultural and economic terms is very likely to foster
peace and security.
Peace activism has to pitch its case at a much wider level, on a more
universalistic scale. It has to tap into a far deeper human resource
than just social or cultural capital, namely, ``generalised'' and
moralistic trust in the human tribe as a whole. Simply put, it has to
appeal to the rule of impartiality. Impartiality is not a plea for
indifference or lack of sympathy to others; on the contrary it
requires just responsiveness on a universalistic scale.
In a sense, such generalised notion of trust and morality blurs the
distinction between ``us'' and ``strangers''; it insists on treating
``them'' with the same dignity with which we treat ``ourselves.''
Those with whom we have not had a chance to develop friendships are
not necessarily our foes. In short it insists on human dignity as a
central social value.
The impartiality principle, so defined, puts around us a double bind:
it guarantees freedom of all human beings; by the same token it
restrains our innate tendency to dominate and control others. It
enables us to be free but not to control. In both its liberating and
limiting roles, the rule of impartiality is non- discriminatory and
universalistic. It is this vision of a community of humans, glued
together by a commitment to freedom as well as self-restraint, that
is needed for peaceniks to establish a universal and stable
relationship among people across the globe.
Moreover, the task of peace-making does not end by reaching out to
fellow human beings outside our national borders and cultivating
solidarity with them; in tandem we have to look inward and address
all manners of injustices and inequalities that distort our social
fabric. Peace and inequality are incompatible. Thus, the apparently
disparate struggles for global peace on the one hand and local
equality on the other mesh together at a deeper level. More
concretely, for example, fighting for the freedom of women and
children in Afghanistan or the livelihood security of famished
farmers in India becomes inseparable components of a genuine peace
movement. After all, we cannot expect to achieve peace when women
suffer from grave physical dangers or farmers commit suicide due to
severe economic insecurities.
In sum, a peace programme that aims to combat terrorism and violence
of all hues will have to spread downward to local communities and
outward to global communities not only to develop greater
personalised contacts among people, but more importantly to advocate
and nurture impartial and universalistic concern for all human beings.
(The writer is with the Madras Institute of Development Studies. The
views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of
The Daily Star (Bangladesh)
'Promote, protect human rights in South Asia'
BSS, New Delhi
Human rights activists on the second day of the founding congress of
South Asian Human Rights (SAHR) here yesterday called for all-out
efforts to promote and protect human rights in the region cutting
across all forms of discrimination.
The two-day conference which began on Sunday is being attended by
former Indian Prime Minister I K Gujral, UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights Mary Robinson, a 50-member delegation from Bangladesh, a
more than 100 member-delegation from Pakistan besides host India.
The Bangladesh delegation include Appellate Division Judge of the
Supreme Court, Justice Fazlul Karim, Law Commission Chairman, Justice
Nayeemuddin Ahmed, lawyers Dr Kamal Hossain, Aminul Islam, Sigma
Huda, economist Prof Rehman Sobhan, senior journalists, Editor of The
Daily Star Mahfuz Anam, Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury and Abdul Qayyum
Mukul, civil society leaders Dr Hameeda Hossain, Taleya Rehman and
Sultana Kamal, cultural activists Sara Zaker and Shomi Kaiser and Law
Commission Secretary Iktedar Ahmed.
Earlier, while inaugurating the conference Mary Robinson cautioned
against the violation of human rights in the global "fixation" with
the war against terrorism.
"What must never be forgotten is that human rights are no hindrance
to the promotion of peace and security. Rather they are an essential
element in any strategy to defeat terrorism," she said.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described as a remarkable
development the emergence of a body like SAHR in the region.
Pakistan's human right activist Asma Jahangir said excessive use of
force was not the answer to terrorism.
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 19:03:35 -0800 (PST)
From: Arindam Dutta
Subject: Kashmir discussion
The Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies,
invites you to an open discussion on 'America's New
War: The Fall out
KASHMIR' on November 15th from 5-7 pm in Cabot 206.
The speakers will
make short presentations followed by an open question
Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)
Dr Mirajuddin Munshi
Kashmiri Human Rights Activist and medical specialist
Assistant Professor of History
Assistant Professor of International Politics
Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy, Tufts
Cabot 206 is located in the Fletcher School of Law on
Packard Avenue. For directions to Tufts, see
Cabot is a twenty minute walk from the Davis Square T
which is located on the red line. You may also take
the Tufts shuttle
from Davis Square which runs at irregular intervals of
minutes. Buses 94 and 96 ply to and from Davis Square.
up at www.mbta.com
For further enquiries, email Neeti at
This event is being co-sponsored by the Tufts
Association for South
The Times of India
11 November 2001
Savarkar film to project Sangh philosophy
MUMBAI: "We have to make all Hindus, Muslims and Christians residing in this
country realise that first they are Hindustanis (Indians)" - The quote is no
extract of a speech of any Sangh Parivar activist.
It is a dialogue attributed to the chief protagonist of a feature film Veer
Savarkar portraying the life and times of radical Hindu leader Vinayak
Damodar Savarkar, once "accused and arrested" on charges of conspiring to
assassinate Mahatma Gandhi.
In fact, the catchy one-liner is being hotly projected in the television
promos for the first film on Savarkar, now slated to be released on November
The plot, dialogues and story line could be well guessed as all three
combined speak of the same lines Savarkar's admirers follow rather
religiously even today.
For example, another acidly put remark attributed to Savarkar runs thus:
"Sampurna ahimsa ka lakshya asambhav hai" (Complete non-violence is a
Moreover, the protagonist Savarkar's heated arguments with Mahatma Gandhi on
sensitive issues only show that they did never see eye-to-eye on key matters
and so their respective ideologies hardly met.
Made by a renowned radical Hindu trust "Savarkar Darshan Pratishtan", the
film is in fact being billed as the first cinematic venture of the Sangh
Parivar to give popular exposure to their cherished philosophy.
The charge is however denied by the filmmakers. Chief production controller
Prabhakar Mone argues that the film tries to depict the "truth" of
Savarkar's chequered life and political graph and his "historic meetings"
with Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
Ved Rahi, who has written and directed the film, also dismisses the
allegations of portraying Hindu chauvinism in the garb of bringing on silver
screen the life and times of a Nasik-based radical Hindu freedom fighter.
"Savarkar perhaps tops the list of the venerable freedom fighters who have
been consistently devalued in independent India," Rahi argues.
However, those associated with the making of the film are at pains to
explain they had to arrange a special screening of the film for none other
than Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
"There is no specific reason. As a die-hard admirer of Savarkar, Balasaheb
wanted to see our work," says assistant director Sanjay Vajpai.
Music for the film is scored by Sudhir Phadke, who is also the guiding force
for the movie for over a decade.
Savarkar's role is played by Shailendra Gaur, who has so far remained mostly
confined to the small screen.
The film is divided in four main parts. The first deals with events that
took place in London and France and the second part is devoted to Andaman
while the third and fourth parts related to events in Ratnagiri and those in
Mumbai and other parts of the country respectively.
The film has been abundantly shot in Andaman, Ratnagiri and Savarkar's birth
place Bhagur in Nasik district.
Savarkar's famous jump off the steamship S S Monrea and reaching the shore
has been shot in Dock Shed in England.
About problems in shooting, Mone says: "The Mumbai police harassed us most.
We did not have problems in England even when we did our shooting there on
an anti-British plot."
Expectedly, for those associated with the making of the film it has been
more of an obsession. "Making this film was not like scripting a routine
story of a commercial soap opera," says writer-director Rahi, who has worked
on several tele-serials.
"A successful script is the one, which can bring both artists and audience
on same emotional wave length. This, in essence, is the real acid test",
( PTI )
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
VHP offshoot behind reign of terror
By Mohammed Iqbal
JUDA (RAJASTHAN), NOV. 12. The tribal belt in Rajasthan seems to be
slowly and steadily shedding its original culture. In a shocking turn
of events, a sustained campaign launched by the Vanvasi Kalyan
Parishad (VKP) - an offshoot of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) - has
led to largescale migration of people from this tiny village in Kotda
tehsil of Udaipur district.
The VKP has been working in the tribal-dominated districts of
Udaipur, Sirohi, Dungarpur and Banswara for over a decade with the
ostensible goal of generating awareness among tribals about their
rights while preserving their customs. True to the Sangh Parivar's
character, the outfit has succeeded in driving a wedge between the
tribals and the others.
A spate of violent incidents in Kotda tehsil, allegedly at the VKP's
instance, has led to panic among Muslims, Rajputs, Mahajans and the
Scheduled Castes here. Following the murder of a small- time trader,
Habib Khan, by tribals on the outskirts of Juda village recently, the
open threats have forced nearly 90 families here to abandon their
homes and migrate to neighbouring towns.
The murder was perhaps a turning point in the relations between
tribals - belonging to the Garasia and Gameti tribes - and the small
Muslim population in the area. In a population of about 2 lakhs in
Kotda tehsil, the Muslim households barely number 500. Their small
population is restricted to Kotda, Juda and Bikarni.
According to the local residents, tension between tribals and Muslims
had been rising over the past two years with incidents of roadside
scuffles and looting reported regularly. ``The campaign of hatred
launched by the VKP seems to have borne fruit when the tribals
decided to take revenge for a petty quarrel by attacking Muslims,''
Dr. Mohammed Sattar, a registered medical practitioner doctor in
Juda, told this correspondent.
The VKP activists, accompanied by a BJP leader from Kotda, toured the
area around Juda - situated nearly 100 km from the district
headquarters - on September 26 to gather tribals for an attack.
Hundreds gathered near Juda following the beating of drums and Habib
Khan was identified as the target, since he used to sleep alone at
night at his `kirana' shop on the outskirts. He was murdered using
swords and arrows around midnight on September 26. Five persons were
later arrested by the police in this connection.
Mr. Bhupendra Pal Singh of the erstwhile ruling family of Juda says
the poor man had nothing to do with the altercation involving a young
tribal in the village earlier. ``He was killed simply because the VKP
had instigated the tribals to take revenge,'' he said.
The coldblooded murder instilled a feeling of fear and insecurity
among the Muslims in Juda. As the incident was followed by open
threats, abuses and violent behaviour by tribals, as many as 80
Muslim families abandoned their houses and left for nearby towns.
Almost all the Muslim residents here have since sent their valuable
household goods away to other places.
The people belonging to the majority community too were affected by
the reign of terror in the village. Though they had initially tried
to stop Muslims from leaving, the ferocity of the tribals frightened
them and about a dozen of their families have also migrated from
here. ``Despite the systematic inculcation of hostility, the
relations between Hindus and Muslims here are cordial. Yet there is
little likelihood of people coming back soon,'' says Hanuman Singh,
who runs a tea kiosk in Juda.
The VKP has its permanent office in Kotda where it runs a residential
school for tribal children and holds regular meetings to inspire the
tribals to return to their ``roots''. Thus the tribals, who were
earlier almost ignorant of the Hindu religious practices, have now
discovered a new identity for themselves - and a new target for their
The VKP claims that its objective is to raise the tribals' standard
of life and protect them from the impact of ``alien culture''. The
VKP Kotda unit's Sangathan Secretary, Mr. Meethalal Garasia, told
this correspondent that the Parishad had nothing to do with the
violence in the area or the killings of a couple of Muslims during
the past six months, which were the result of personal enmity.
Yet he does not desist from making wild charges against Muslims.
``Their small population has committed all sorts of exploitation of
tribals. Recently an arms cache has arrived for them from Pakistan
via Gujarat,'' he says, adding that the tribals would no longer
tolerate these ``anti-national'' activities. The way the atmosphere
is being communalised in Kotda tehsil does not portend well for
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
Bajrang Dal pamphlet seized in Rajasthan
By Mohammed Iqbal
JAIPUR, NOV. 12.The Congress-led Government in Rajasthan today
confiscated an objectionable pamphlet published and distributed by
the Jodhpur unit of the Bajrang Dal. The Government issued a special
notification this afternoon declaring the pamphlet banned. The
pamphlet, published with the title Hathon mein talwaren, seene mein
hai toofan; raksha kare desh ki, Bajrang Dal ke jawan, contained
provocative and offensive material, which could pose a threat to
communal harmony. Roughly translated into English, the title stated:
``The Bajrang Dal volunteers are defending the nation with swords in
their hands and a storm brewing in their hearts.''
A spokesperson said here that the Government had confiscated the
pamphlet, being distributed in large numbers across the State, while
exercising its powers under various provisions of the Criminal
Procedure Code. The pamphlet was objectionable and malicious and had
full potential to create communal disturbance.
The notification declared confiscated each copy of the pamphlet,
reprints, translations as well as any other document citing the
contents of the pamphlet.
The ``Trishul Diksha'' programme of the Bajrang Dal - as part of
which thousands of tridents were distributed to youngsters in
Rajasthan in the last two months - has created tension in the State.
The Chief Minister, Mr. Ashok Gehlot, recently urged the Prime
Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, to consider imposing a ban on the
outfit in view of its provocative activities.
SACW is an informal, independent & non-profit citizens wire service run by
South Asia Citizens Web (http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex)
since 1996. To
subscribe send a blank
message to: <firstname.lastname@example.org
> / To unsubscribe send a blank
message to: <email@example.com
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.