South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 May, 2003
ALERT FOR ACTION: In Defence of the Indian Historian Romila Thapar
#1. The new McCarthyism [Hindu-supremacism in the US...] (Praful Bidwai)
#2. Letter from the Pakistan India Peoples Forum India Chapter
#3. USA: Illinois Mosque vandalized [Long live Shri Rama Painted ] (Linda Rush)
#4. History As Politics (Romila Thapar)
#5. Why Modi drew a blank (Kuldip Nayar)
#6. Bhopal Survivors Start Indefinite Fast in City Against Dow
#7. So has normalcy returned to Ahmedabad? Judge for yourself...
(Tanvir Siddiqui )
#8. Public institutions are becoming private militias (Sagarika Ghose)
#9. Cry for justice in Kashmir
#10. Upcoming Benares Convention on preservation of the
secular and pluralistic fabric of the Indian society (26 June 03)
Friday, May 2, 2003
THE NEW MCCARTHYISM
The chickens are coming home to roost. The barrage of campaigns
unleashed over the years by the Sangh parivar - against pluralism,
secularism and humanism, and for Hindu-supremacism, hyper-nationalism
and extremist intolerance - is reaching fruition in a variety of
forms and institutions. Thus, unadulterated hate-speech directed at
the religious-ethnic minorities has become routine within our public
discourse. Vile attacks by chosen pro-Hindutva audiences on
secularists and liberals are part of the gladiatorial entertainment
fare regularly dished out by television channels.
Praveen Togadia and Ashok Singhal have rapidly expanding clienteles
simply because they never cease to shock - or hog publicity.
Anyone who questions mindless militarism and the BJP's obsession with
mass-destruction weapons, or rationally argues for India-Pakistan
reconciliation, is liable to be branded a traitor. Saffronised
textbooks peddling lies or whitewashing terrible truths about, say,
casteism, or the persecution of Buddhists, are officially endorsed,
indeed thrust upon a protesting public.
Distinguished scholars of high integrity are maligned and attacked,
never debated, because they disagree with the Hindutva line.
Journalists of liberal-secular persuasion are liable to attract the
most vicious of e-mails and even face exclusion, especially from the
Speaking for myself, I receive between 30 and 250 mails a week for
each syndicated column I write. More than four-fifths are downright
abusive and defamatory. The abusive bilge doesn't come at the
conclusion of an argument. The mails start and end with calumny and
Significantly, about 90 per cent of such abusers are North American
NRIs, remarkable for their 'long-distance' or 'Green Card'
hypernationalism. NRIs have emerged as a major instrument of
communalism and torchbearers of intolerance.
Their latest victim is the illustrious scholar and one of the most
distinguished historians of Ancient India, Professor Romila Thapar
whose accomplishments are rivalled by few others. Thapar has authored
many seminal works, including classics like Asoka and the Decline of
the Mauryas, A History of India (Penguin 1966, revised, expanded and
just published as Early India), Ancient Indian Social History and
Cultural Pasts, besides the more recent Sakuntala, Interpreting Early
India and History and Beyond.
Thapar, one of India's best-known academics around the world, has
taught at a host of universities, including Oxford, Cornell, London
and Paris, besides JNU. She has received honorary doctorates from
Paris, Oxford, Chicago and Kolkata. She was recently appointed to the
Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South at the US Library
This last appointment triggered what must be one of the most vicious
and bigoted attacks ever launched on a scholar anywhere, in the form
of an online petition, which now has 1,543 signatories, most of them
NRIs. The petition would deserve some scholarly attention if it were
drafted and signed by people who have at least read and are minimally
aware of Thapar's work. Alas, it isn't.
It accuses Thapar of being an ignorant, yet "avowed antagonist of
India's Hindu civilisation", who wants to discredit India in the same
way as the "Europeans discredited the American Indians' land claims"
It says she "represents a completely Euro-centric worldview" and
"disavows that India ever had a history"!
This is breathtakingly ludicrous. Thapar has spent a lifetime arguing
against 'Orientalist' western and Euro-centric interpretations of
history which hold that ancient India lacked a sense of history and
that pre-colonial Indian society was 'static' and 'stagnant'.
Thapar is devoted to the study of India's civilisation with all its
plurality of texts and multiplicity of traditions - secular and
religious, metaphysical and scientific. How she could be an
'antagonist' of 'Indian civilisation' defies comprehension except
within an illiterate, philistine, and communal framework which holds
that all 'Indian civilisation' was 'Hindu', even when it had Jain,
Buddhist, animist and agnostic traditions.
Even worse, the petition says, Thapar is engaged in a "war of
cultural genocide", and the result of her research, 'Historical
Consciousness in Early India', is "a foregone conclusion. She will of
course attempt to show that Early India had no historical
consciousness"! In reality, some of Thapar's most exciting work (e.g.
Time as a Metaphor for History) attempts to refute the Euro-centric
notion that Indians only had a cyclical concept of time, and to
establish that there were a variety of forms of historical
consciousness in India.
The petition's crux is about not 'wasting' "our American resources
on" a Marxist. This is also the thrust of a huge number of comments
accompanying the petition. This is pure McCarthyism, the most
shameful witch-hunt in 20th century America against anyone suspected
to be a Communist, carried out by Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Indeed, that's the spirit in which most of these vicious comments are
made, including: "She is a pinko and a fake historian" "This Thapar
woman will be a Trojan Horse for Islamic terrorists in the US."
"It is disappointing that the US that once opposed Communism is now
in cahoots with one of its practitioners." "This stupid lady should
be stripped of her citizenship." "Kick her out. Kick should be of
such a force that she remains dead on the ground."
Even Praveen Togadia (might he be the one-and-only?) has added his
venom: "Ban Marxist Scholars from the USA After all, the American
communist party was banned."
What takes the cake is the following: "Fidel Castro would have been a
better choice (for the Kluge Chair). At least he is not a
venom-spitting anti-Hindu. I am worried about the future of USA. The
Indian communists have already infiltrated into all the American
universities. And now the Library of Congress. McCarthy, where are
Further comment is unnecessary.
1st May 2003
[Letter from the Pakistan India Peoples Forum India Chapter]
Salutations of May Day!
As you are aware, PIPFPD is a pioneering peoples' initiative for
peace, democracy and friendly relationship between India and
Pakistan. As part of the Forum's long standing commitment to these
values, it has also achieved many a milestones in the history of
India-Pakistan relationship. Many of you will also remember the five
joint conventions the Forum has organised in the past 9 years of its
existence. But unfortunately, the past two years of pronounced
hostility between the governments and the diplomacy of 'brinkmanship'
has brought both the countries and its peoples to a much earlier
stage in history, whereby visa regimes and open war threats has
become the order of the day.
But keeping upto its objectives, the Forum kept alive the
people-to-people interactions and dialogue through exchange of
eminent citizens and organising of common programmes and strategies.
The trip of six senior members of the Indian Chapter of the PIPFPD to
Pakistan to attend the Sindh convention in March 2003 is the latest
in this series.
In a significant move, both the Indian and Pakistani chapters of
PIPFPD are collectively organising an exchange of Members of
Parliament. In this series the first is the 'Goodwill Visit' of
Pakistani MPs to India between the 8th and 16th of May 2003. This
delegation consists of 11 senators and MNAs from different regions of
Pakistan. While in India, this team will address Public meetings,
Press Conferences, etc, along with interactive sessions with Indian
Parliamentarians and other eminent people. Some members of the
visiting delegation will also be visiting other Indian cities
including Kolkatta, Mumbai and Hyderabad. All these efforts will need
enormous human and financial resources.
We are writing this letter to seek your support and co-operation
during this landmark visit of Pakistani MPs to India, organised by
the Forum with support from some other organisations and individuals.
We have the duty and responsibility to extend our hospitality to
these guests. Being a non-funded peoples' initiative, the PIPFPD's
biggest asset and resource are the members and well-wishers of the
Forum, who have always supported and promoted such initiatives in the
past. We seek your support and cooperation once more for making this
historic step a big success. Kindly extend your support to this
initiative by all means you can [...].
Thanking you in anticipation,
Sushil Khanna Syeda Hameed
Tapan Bose Deenadayalan
On Behalf of the PIPFPD India Chapter
B-14 (SF), Gulmohar Park,
New Delhi - 110049
# (011) 2656 1743 / 2651 4847 / 2651 1504 (Fax)
[ Mosques are vandalized all the time in the US but this is the first
time, that overtly Hindu symbols were used. Its a distressing trend
and should be noted !! ]
o o o
The Southern Illinoisan
[Mon Apr 28 2003]
ISLAMIC CENTER OF CARBONDALE VANDALIZED WITH PAINT
BY Linda Rush
CARBONDALE -- "We respect all religions and expect them to respect
ours as well," said Dr. Muhammad Kamran, a Carbondale physician and
member of the Islamic congregation in Carbondale. His 6-year-old son,
Moosa, stood at his side.
Kamran and other Muslims were standing in the parking lot of the
Islamic Center on Poplar Street, just north of College Street,
Monday. Sometime late Sunday night or early Monday, vandals had
sprayed messages in black paint on the pale yellow siding and
light-colored doors of the center.
Police were contacted at 11:25 a.m. by a passerby who saw the damage.
Construction workers nearby said the damage was evident when they
arrived at work at around 6:30 a.m. Sgt. Mark Diedrick of the
Carbondale Police Department said the graffiti was photographed, but
no evidence was collected at the scene, nor are there any suspects.
"Free Kashmir," read the only English message on the building.
Kashmir is a disputed area, with India and Pakistan both claiming
jurisdiction to the land that lies between them.
Also sprayed on the building was a phrase that praises a non-Muslim
Hindu god. It translates as "Long live Shri Rama," said one young
man. "These are Hindu religious symbols, like a cross for
Christianity. These symbols are seen in their temples."
The Islamic Center has been in Carbondale for 18 years, serving a
congregation of Southern Illinois University students and faculty,
and numerous professional families in Southern Illinois. Between 30
and 50 people will be gathered there for evening prayers. On Fridays,
about 200 gather to pray at the mosque on North Wall and Chestnut
And until Monday, the Islamic Center's only problems had been
occasional beer bottles or trash strewn on the parking lot, damage
the congregation believes is just a byproduct of student parties.
The painted slogans, though, are hard to ignore.
"It's good it didn't happen Saturday night," said Rizwan Hashmi, "or
the children would have seen it when they came to Sunday school."
Hashmi, a doctoral student at SIUC, heads the board of directors for
the center. He said about 60 children ages 5 to 12 attend Sunday the
"People come here for morning prayer at 5 a.m., but it was still dark
then," Hashmi said. "Nobody saw the damage." The vandalism was on the
sides of the building away from Poplar Street.
Hashmi also left a phone message for the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. Special agent Rick Stonecipher had earlier met with
the board, asking its member to contract him if they had any
problems, he said.
Congregation member Iqbal Mohammed said, "We have many friends who
are Hindus." Others, too, said it would be wrong to characterize the
vandalism as an act by any one group. "It can be anybody," Hashmi
added. "Everybody knows Carbondale is a peaceful place."
As Moosa played quietly nearby in the gravel, Kamran was asked what
he will tell his son and 8-year-old daughter, Haani, about the
"I don't know what to tell him," he admitted quietly. "I do not know
how to explain it to anybody. I don't want to tell him it was done by
Hindus. Our neighbors and friends are Hindus."
Hashmi said he would tell his children they will have to cope with
those who disagree with them. "It's a good lesson to them -- each
religion teaches its adherents to tolerate," he added.
Anaz Zubair, too, cautioned against placing blame -- even with the
reference to Kashmir. Pointing to his friend Hashmi, Zubair said,
"I'm an Indian; he's a Pakistani. It's not as simplistic as they
portray. It's a moot point." He believes one or two people simply
committed a crime. "It's not the whole Hindu community."
Zubair, an SIUC student, said Islam provides a lesson on tolerance,
with a story about a nomad who went inside a mosque and urinated.
When angry Muslims attempted to drive him out or punish him, Muhammad
told them to let him be and not disturb him.
"The lesson," Zubair said, "is not to lash out in anger when someone
618-529-5454 x15079 )
Web | May 01, 2003
History As Politics
Links between knowledge and ideology do not justify the passing off
of political agendas as knowledge as is being done in the rewriting
of history by the present central government; and that too of a kind
not based on the understanding of history current among historians.
[This is substantially the text of the Professor Athar Ali Memorial
lecture, organised by the Aligarh Historians Society, at the Aligarh
Muslim University on 8 February 2003
Friday, May 02, 2003
Why Modi drew a blank
By Kuldip Nayar
I am not surprised that the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi
drew a blank at a meeting of envoys to attract foreign investment. In
fact, I would have been surprised if any one of them had been taken
in by his glib talk.
The question is not whether Gujarat is today peaceful and normal but
whether those who disturbed peace through premeditated murder, rape
and looting have been isolated for punishment. My information is that
the high-ups, whether in the State Government or in the Sangh Parivar
which backed Mr. Modi, have not been even questioned, much less
named. Some of them were directing murder and worse on mobile
telephones, police control rooms or otherwise.
The State Government is still not serious and is pursuing the cases
registered nonchalantly. Nobody is there to upbraid Mr. Modi. The
authorities, supposed to be protectors, are exerting pressure for
withdrawal of FIRs which many complainants had filed. Even in some
rural areas, from where hundreds were ousted, there is a demand that
the victims take back the FIR before their request even to return to
their own homes is accepted.
Economic boycott against Muslims continues unabated in several
cities. There is normality, which the Chief Minister claims, is in
the sense that no killing or looting is taking place. But the Muslim
community remains frightened. Except for a few Hindu activists, the
majority community has stayed distant from the Muslims. By and large,
the Gujaratis give the impression as if what happened was inevitable
and that Muslims had "asked for it." Even after 15 months there is
very little remorse and definitely no repentance. This has hurt the
foreigners the most because Gujarat is known as the land of Mahatma
Mr. Modi should realise that the confidence of investors and others
would be in proportion to the confidence the minority community
shows. They are still a harassed, haunted lot. The State has turned
its back on them. Until the minorities in Gujarat talk in good terms
about Mr. Modi and his administration, investors would not return.
During the rioting, one foreign firm withdrew from the State. It did
not return even at the request of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The firm felt so horrified over the happenings that it did not even
care for the high profit it was making. The owners reportedly said
that they had no future in Gujarat where the State itself was a party
to murders and the like.
In fact, the manner in which Mr. Modi has smeared the face of India
has affected foreign investment in the rest of the country. The
gaurav yatra, a shameless exhibition of the perversion and
glorification of the crimes committed, may bring the votes, as they
did in the State elections. But they can never bring back the honour
which Mr. Modi and his party men `murdered' in broad daylight in the
How can the question of foreign investment arise? A few brave Indian
industrialists have told Mr. Modi to his face that they themselves
could not consider investing in Gujarat because of what happened
there. He should have offered an apology but instead took umbrage at
their remarks. The CII was made to apologise on behalf of those who
had criticised Mr. Modi.
It is a pity that the Centre has not brought by this time legislation
to implement the Genocide Convention, which India has signed and
ratified. It should have used the measures allowed by the Convention
to prosecute and punish all those who participated in the planning
and execution of murder, rape, theft and destruction in Gujarat
during the communal carnage. Were this to happen, foreign investment
would flow even without Mr. Modi's asking for it.
But the fact is that the Centre has been a mute witness to the
concerted and systematic challenge to the secular foundation of the
polity, to the extent that it failed to protect the life, liberty,
reputation and property of a sitting High Court judge as well as a
retired High Court judge still in service of the Government. I know
that Mr. Modi's bent of mind is different. But then he should not be
asking for investment from outside.
Bhopal Survivors Start Indefinite Fast in City Against Dow Chemical's
NEW YORK, 1 May, 2003 -- Two women survivors -- Rasheeda Bee and
Champa Devi -- and long-time Bhopal activist, Satinath Sarangi, of
the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) launched an
indefinite fast from New York's financial district to highlight the
truth behind Dow Chemical and Union Carbide's liabilities in Bhopal.
In 1984, a poisonous gas leak from Union Carbide's pesticide factory
killed 8000 in a matter of days. Survivors continue to suffer
long-term health effects, and Carbide's toxic wastes strewn around
the factory are a source of ongoing contamination and injury.
"Dow has acquired Carbide's pending criminal and environmental
liabilities in Bhopal that could be substantial in dollar terms. By
refusing to acknowledge and address these liabilities, the company is
prolonging the suffering of survivors and their children, and keeping
its shareholders in the dark regarding issues that could
significantly erode share value," ICJB said.
"A hunger strike is our way of emphasising the truth that the tragedy
in Bhopal continues, and that Dow as Carbide's new owner is now
responsible for ensuring that justice is done in Bhopal," said
Rasheeda Bee of the Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Workers
Association. Forty six-year old Bee has lost five gas-exposed family
members to cancers since the disaster. Partially blinded, she suffers
psychiatric and respiratory problems due to exposure to Carbide's
gases. Eight days into the hunger strike, the Bhopal activists will
visit Midland, Michigan, to demonstrate outside the Dow shareholders
meeting on 8 May.
At least 30 other people, including 24 students from
Massachusetts-based Wheaton College, and long-time Bhopal supporters
from India and the United States fasted in solidarity today. The
worldwide relay fast is expected to attract hundreds of people from
around the world to join in protest against Dow Chemical. A similar
fast begun last July lasted more than a month and involved 1500
people from 10 countries. ICJB has declared May 8 as the day of mass
action including hunger strikes organised by allies around the world.
In February 2001, Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide. Carbide
currently faces criminal charges for manslaughter in a Bhopal court
for the deaths of more than 8,000 people in Bhopal, India, due to a
poisonous gas leak from its pesticide factory in December 1984. The
company has never appeared in court.
Dow Chemical has denied having inherited any of Carbide's pending
Bhopal liabilities. Meanwhile, the Indian Central Bureau of
Investigation will report to the Bhopal court on progress made in
including Dow as an accused in the criminal case against Carbide by
30 May. If found guilty, Indian criminal law allows for the
imposition of fines against the accused.
"Under Indian law, the fines for manslaughter have no upper limit,
and is determined by the size and ability of the accused party to
pay, the magnitude of the crime, and the current state of the
victims," said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information
and Action. Dow is the world's largest chemical corporation with
annual sales exceeding $30 billion. Billed as the world's worst
industrial disaster, the Bhopal tragedy injured 500,000 people, and
survivors and their children are impoverished and continue to suffer
drastic long-term effects in the absence of economic rehabilitation
measures and appropriate medical care. According to latest official
estimates, 380 gas-affected people succumb to health effects each
year, and more than 20,000 are exposed to the toxic wastes lying in
and around the Union Carbide factory site in Bhopal.
On April 25, 2003, survivors and survivors' organisations appealed a
recent decision by the New York District Court to dismiss their
claims for clean-up and compensation for contamination-related
damages from Carbide. The State Government of Madhya Pradesh too has
stated that it plans to approach the Indian Supreme Court in a bid to
get Dow to clean up the toxic wastes left behind by its subsidiary
Separately, various communities impacted by Dow's pollution,
including an African American community in Plaquemine, Louisiana, the
Vietnam veterans, and the residents of Saginaw county near Dow's
Midland headquarters, are seeking redressal for environmental and
health damages due to Dow products or facilities. In fact, a
stockholder has proposed a resolution at Dow's 2003 AGM asking the
company to report to shareholders on identifying potential
liabilities related to the company's operations, given the company's
historical and ongoing engagement in processes known to produce or
release persistent toxic substances such as dioxins. The proposal
stems from findings of high levels of dioxin contamination in Midland
and surrounding areas.
"Dow has a lot of Bhopals in its closet. Dow's failure to address its
responsibilities to communities is clearly an issue of environmental
justice, because its pollution has disproportionately impacted poor
communities worldwide, and communities of color in the United
States," said Gary Cohen, director of Boston-based Environmental
Health Fund and a member of the ICJB.
The visiting survivors and members of the ICJB have sought a meeting
with Dow Chairman William Stavropoulos on 8 May to press their
demands that: Dow should arrange for long-term economic and medical
rehabilitation and medical monitoring; for clean-up of toxic wastes
and contaminated groundwater; and face trial in the Indian courts.
For more information, visit: www.bhopal.net
In the US:
Nityanand Jayaraman. Cell: 520 906 5216. Email: nity68@...
Krishnaveni G. Cell: 832 444 1731. krishnaveni_g@...
In the UK:
Tim Edwards. Email: tim@...
In Bhopal, India:
Rachna Dhingra. Email: rachna@...
The Indian Express
Movers and shakers in a divided city
So has normalcy returned to Ahmedabad? Judge for yourself...
The Indian Express
Friday, May 02, 2003
In the mad king's court
Public institutions are becoming private militias
I am the state!'' thundered Louis XIV, emperor of France also known
as the Sun King. So might declare our own sun kings and sun queens.
Today Mayawati can smash 137 cases against Mulayam Singh Yadav,
rampage around UP erecting Ambedkar statues, transfer bureaucrats on
sheer fancy and nobody can say a word. Jayalalithaa can turn a legal
armoury on journalists for ''daring'' to criticise her. She can try
and bulldoze a historical building for her own purposes, slam Pota
against political rivals and nobody can do a thing.
Laloo Prasad Yadav's mythological (and violent) lathi rally in Patna,
resulted in citizens being stranded on the streets because state
transport buses had been requisitioned for the RJD carnival. During
Mulayam Singh Yadav's cycle rally, official black cat commandos
scurried alongside his cycle, functioning as the Samajwadi Party
chief's private chowkidars. Shahnawaz Hussain, minister for civil
aviation, likes to keep flights waiting while he takes long lunches.
He has a personal staff of about 50 people, all of whose salaries are
paid by the taxpayer. Union Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma
manhandles Jet Airways staff because he feels that there are too many
delays. Welcome to a process which has been described as the
''privatisation of the public realm''. Regional potentates, armed
with primordially loyal vote banks, often using violence as a
legitimate political tool, have become democratically elected
Privatisation of the public realm began with the Congress. The
Congress was guilty of transforming the party apparatus into a
servant of The Family and Indira Gandhi has often been called a
democratic dictator. Yet, in the years of a strong national party,
there was at least a lakshmanrekha, some semblance of respect for the
law and the belief that the people's vote would redress wrongs. But,
today, the privatisation of the public realm has meant that even the
people's vote can be easily squandered and misused. Last February,
Mayawati fought the UP elections against the BJP, yet ended up
allying with the BJP to form a government. The people's will? Who
So what is the ''public realm''? The public realm is the state, the
judiciary, the law and order system, the Election Commission, the
state broadcaster, the schools, the cultural institutions that belong
to the state and therefore to the public and exist to serve the
Constitution's version of the ''public good''. When this public realm
is ''privatised'', that is when caste, family and personal rivalries
conquer these institutions that belong to the people, then democracy
ceases to exist. The autonomy of the state structure, after all, is a
pre-condition of democracy, but if the state is simply parcelled out
between private tribal and caste chieftains then simply being a
citizen brings no rights. One has to either be aligned to one or the
other tribal militia, to get opportunities, jobs and money.
In the absence of a strong central party, caste and regional
nationalism become larger than the government. This is seen in the
BSP in UP, the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, Mulayam, Laloo or even Digvijay
Singh's alleged ''interference'' in state electoral rolls. The
plebeian politicians, once India's great hope compared to the elite
politics of our feudal neighbours, are now poised to convert
democracy into monarchy. The Yadavs were the democratic sons of the
soil whose authentic actions would finally banish the upper castes of
the Congress. But sons-of-the-soil politics rather than strengthening
democratic institutions looks as if it is subordinating them to
monarchical personality cults.
Mayawati's epic legal action against Mulayam Singh is a supreme
example of the privatisation of the public realm. In the days of
Congress majorities, when there was a strong central government,
Article 356 was used and misused to set aside troublesome state
governments and impose president's rule. But today, with weak central
leaderships, crucially dependent on local allies, regional queens
like Mayawati and Jayalalithaa can simply run amok. No laws constrain
them. They are accountable to no one. Mayawati is the leader of a
fiercely loyal clan and insists that she is not just the chief
minister of Uttar Pradesh but the patron saint of dalits. When the
state becomes harnessed in the service to a particular clan, then it
ceases to be a servant of the people and becomes a private militia.
No wonder violent rhetoric is today considered legitimate behaviour.
''Muh tod jawab denge!'' ''Hamesha ke liye awaz band kar denge!''
In fact, a crucial result of the privatisation of the public realm is
the legitimisation of violence. Today, violence is the preferred form
of settling disputes with the ruler taking on the role of an a battle
commander. The gun, the lathi, the trishul, the communal riot and the
political murder have become legitimate means of securing political
goals. After all, if the state is the private property of a
particular clan, then the clan will naturally even risk bloodshed to
defend it, just as any individual might murder to safeguard family
There are other examples of the privatisation of the public realm.
When Murli Manohar Joshi takes steps to Hinduise education, he is
forgetting the fact that public educational institutions cannot be
warriors in his personal crusade against foreign imperialism. The
minister for HRD is welcome to practise sanskritic traditions and
endlessly study the Aryans, but why should the public realm-that is
state sponsored schools and school textbooks-become hostage to
Joshiji's private Vedic fantasies?
The public realm should be value neutral and represent all sections
because it exists to serve a diverse society and provide
opportunities for everybody to get rich and educated. But while the
crucially necessary privatisation of the economy is being stalled,
leaders are busy privatising public life. In fact, the very concept
of public life seems to be unknown. Ask Mayawati her concept of
public life. Her likely answer will be: Public life is me! Perhaps
Mulayam, Mayawati, Laloo, and Jayalalithaa, among others, can be sent
on a summer training camp, made to consult dictionaries and
understand the difference between "private property" and the "public
May ?, 2003
Cry for justice
The allegations made by a Beerwah villagers against surrendered
militants and Police have come as a challenge to the State government
that boosts of being a people-friendly one. One Abdul Rehman Dar of
Dangerpora Beerwah Wednesday told media persons that her two
daughters were abducted by surrendered militants and the elder one
was sexually abused. Making strong accusations against the Police he
said that instead of helping him and his daughters Police protected
the kidnappers and the rapists. The accusation is shocking and should
not be brushed away as a trivial issue. Whenever any such tragedy
strikes somebody, he looks toward Police for help and protection. But
when the Police itself backs and patronizes the criminals, only God
can save the victims. Same has happened in Dar's case. He approached
Police for help and was not only denied the same but instead Police
did everything to protect the accused. Somuchso that Police even
showed scant respect to the court orders which had asked Police to
protect the victimized father and his family from the gang of
Worst part of the story is that it is not only the Police that has
turned the blind eye to the plight of this hapless family but the
political establishment too has not come up to the mark. Dar told
reporters that he alongwith his daughters met Peoples Democratic
Party (PDP) leader and MLA Mehbooba Mufti who too did nothing to help
them. This speaks volumes about the insensitivity of Kashmiri
politicians. When out of power, Mehbooba Mufti's used to be the
strong voice against the human rights abuses. She was in fact first
from the mainstream lot of politicians who raised voice against the
atrocities being committed by the surrendered militants who are
working as Police and Army informer. One would love to believe that
once in power she would see to it that this uncontrollable lot is
tamed and taught to behave. But nothing of the sort has happened. If
Dar is believed, and there is no reason not to believe him as in a
society like Kashmir no father would dare to say publicly that his
daughter has been raped unless it is true, Mehbooba Mufti had assured
him help but did nothing. Question arises why the culprits have not
been arrested yet and why a disciplinary action was not ordered
against then district police chief of Budgam and SHO Beerwah who
slept over the issue and protected the rapists.
One may dispute the fact that there is a visible improvement on human
rights front since PDP-led government assumed power in the State. But
at the same time there is a lot that remains to be done. The
surrendered militants who are presently working with Police and Army
as informers have become law unto themselves. As they are confident
that the security agencies are always there to protect them, they
indulge in all kind of crimes and still roam around scot-free. Only
yesterday a surrendered militant who works with the security forces
shot dead a young boy in Sonawari area of district Baramulla. This is
not the only case. Reports pouring in from different parts of the
Valley suggest that these surrendered militants are indulging in
worst types of human rights and the establishment is watching as a
mute spectator as security agencies 'need their services for
countering insurgency.' The worst part of the story is that against
whom these elements commit atrocities dare not to raise their voices
fearing reprisal from the armed goons who enjoy patronage of the
security agencies. Now that the Beerwah villager has broken the myth
and come to public with his allegations it is high time that
government swings into action and takes stringent action against such
elements. To begin with let the surrendered militants identified by
Dar and his daughters be arrested and booked under the law of the
land. The process of justice would be incomplete unless strong action
is taken against the concerned SHO and SP who too by their
indifference have played the role of partners in the crime.
Greetings From PVCHR / FRM.
We take great pleasure in extending to you our
invitation to be the Special Guest at the 'BENARES
CONVENTION & BENARES DECLARATION' scheduled for the
26th of June 2003 in Varanasi.
This is a historical convention bringing together all
secular forces interested in the preservation of the
secular and pluralistic fabric of the Indian society.
Several renowned National and International social
activist and secularist are participating.
Your august presence as the Special Guest will help
make this Convention a great success and we request
you to find the time to participate and give your
views at the Convention and lend your voice to the
We will much appreciate if you can contribute to the
cost of your travel and we will take care of your
accommodation, food and conveyance.
Thanking you in anticipitation, we remain,
BENARES DECLARATION: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE.
The city of Varanasi located on the banks of Ganga is
one of the oldest cities of the World. Since centuries
this city like the rest of our country has witnessed
two streams of thoughts. On the one hand it is claimed
by the Brahmanical Forces as their cultural capital
and throughout they have attempted to impose their
views on the rest of society. This has been opposed by
the other stream of thought represented by such
universally renowned figures as Gautam Buddha, Ashoka
etc who strived for a classless society .In the days
of British rule, the communal forces too tried to give
their own identity to the city and was opposed by such
secular figures as Kabir, Sant Ravidas, PremChand etc.
It is due to the relentless struggle of these secular
leaders that our country had emerged and remained for
more than fifty years as a secular nation and a plural
society. Now we are witnessing the renewal of this
communal and fundamental virus raging across the
country threatening the secular and pluralistic nature
of our society and joining forces with Imperialism
threatening our pluralism and people centric economic
system. This has awakened the secular groups in the
city of Varanasi represented by famous Intellectuals,
Artists, Poets, Youths, Students, Trade Union and
members of the Civil Society including renowned
secularist like Bismillakhan, Gyanendra Pati, and Sant
Vivek Das etc. They have decided to come together to
opposes Brahmanical and Communal forces, Imperialism,
Globalization and promote peoples livelihood, people
democracy, Justice and Human Rights. To meet this
threat and in continuation of the ancient secular
tradition of Buddha and Kabir, the secular forces have
decided to come together on the 26th of June 2003 at
the grounds of the Bharat Mata Mandir. The 26th of
June is significant as the UN declared International
Day in support of the victims of torture .It is also
important for Indians as the day Emergency was imposed
in India. PVCHR has declared this day as the Day of
Democracy. The venue of Bharat Mata Mandir symbolizes
our struggle against colonialism when all Indians
irrespective of their caste or religion participated
and obtained their freedom from the British. Today we
look forward to uniting the secular forces against the
combined might of Fundamentalism and Imperialism.
Benares representing an important trading center of
North India and an important educational center with
the location of world famous universities like Benares
Hindu University, Kashi Vidyapeet, Sanskrit
University, and Islamic Institutes. People from
different walks of life including students come to
this city from all parts of India and the world. Thus
Benares will have a wide influence and ripple effect.
Benares also represents the common cultures of the
Muslims and Hindus who are engaged in manufacturing
saris without any difference between them.
We have talked to every section of Society of Benares.
Almost all of them have welcomed this idea and have
given their wholehearted support. Several prominent
citizens of Benares like Prof.Mallik, Dr.Mahendra
Pratap, Dr.R. P.Diwedi, Gyanendra Pati, Sant Vivek
Das, and Pt.Vikash Maharaj. Several organizations like
Savitri Ba Phule Mahilla Panchayaat, Gramyya, Mitra,
Jan Mukti, and Bhoomi hakdari morcha, Prerna Kala
Manch have also given their support.Mr. Sandeep
pandey( Ramon Magsaysay laureate), Mr.D. Prempati
(Dalit intellectual),Sanjai Rai(FIAN) & Mr. Suneet
Chopara( Khet Mazdoor Morcha) and several others have
extended their whole hearted support to the programme.
The objective of conference: -
1.To review the policies and strategies in regard to
various issues related to human rights and child
2.To workout a plan of action for the next two years.
3.To initiate cultural fronts there by strengthening
the cultural movement in the state.
On the 26th of June, the venue will be prepared to
accommodate a mass rally in which about 10,000 people
will participate. After the rally will be the Benares
declaration, strategies and action plan.
Presidium of 5 people will conduct the conference
sessions and the present Co-ordination committee will
give press briefing to the press.
The date of the Declaration: 26th of June 2003
The Venue of Declaration: The Grounds of The Bharat
PVCHR or The Peopleís Vigilance Committee on Human
Rights is a human rights organization working on the
grassroots level for the rights of the Dalit classes
in particular and the rights of children in general.
It was founded by Dr. Lenin and Poet Gyanendra Pati in
the year 1996.[...].
(DR.LENIN, ASHOKA FELLOW,PVCHR, SA4/2A, DAULATPUR, VARANASI-221002,UP,INDIA)
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