South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 August, 2003
[1.] Sri Lanka: War-torn North Has Little to Show as Peace Dividend
- Punjab Assembly rejects Mighty Mulla Alliance bill making weddings
at mosques compulsory
- Mullas petition to support to the government's ban on kite flying
under the injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah.
[3.] Pakistan: The Citizens' Award 2003 - invitation for nominations
[4.] Bangladesh: a four-day 'cultural event against fundamentalism
[5.] India: Peoples Union for Civil Liberties [Rajasthan] - Concern
for Pakistani child in an Indian jail
[6.] India: Public Discussion on Hiroshima Day: 'India's Dangerous
Tryst With Nuclear Weapons' (New Delhi, Aug. 6)
[7.] South Asia: Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace
(WISCOMP) invites applications
[8.] USA: Tank thinks 'Hindu Muslim' divide as security risk
[9.] India: [Sexual Anxieties of Men on (Ram)page] Fashion Week is a
powerful enemy of the Ayotollahs of Hindu Right (Sagarika Ghose)
[10.] Three different Letters re Nelson Mandela's upcoming trip to India:
i) write to the South African ambassador and Members of S. African
Parliament (Fr. Cedric Prakash)
ii) Letter to Nelson Mandela (Shabnam Hashmi)
iii) Letter to Nelson Mandela (Daniel O'Connor)
[11.] India: White Ribbon Campaign For Peace - National level protest
on 15th of August 2003 against Gujarat violence
[12.] India: The 'Adivasi' [Indigenous people] question in Gujarat:
Why fascist mobilisation?
[13.] The August 2003 issue of INSAF Bulletin is now available
Inter Press Service
SRI LANKA: War-torn North Has Little to Show as Peace Dividend
[by] Feizal Samath
When Tamil rebels and the Sri Lankan government reached a ceasefire
pact in February 2001, dozens of businessmen from the south rushed to
the war-ravaged northern town of Jaffna, seeking business and
commercial links and raising the hopes of residents.
COLOMBO, Jul 31 (IPS) - When Tamil rebels and the Sri Lankan
government reached a ceasefire pact in February 2001, dozens of
businessmen from the south rushed to the war-ravaged northern town of
Jaffna, seeking business and commercial links and raising the hopes
They came in large numbers, promising industry and jobs. ''There was
unusually heavy traffic in our town for some weeks,'' recalled a
small-time trader who has a shop on the road to Jaffna town from the
city's military airfield.
More than a year later, the euphoria has ended on two key fronts --
economic prosperity and a permanent peace, as the rebels and the
government to struggle to return to talks that broke down in April
and have remained suspended since then.
Apart from that initial burst of enthusiasm, Jaffna, just about the
worst affected by the two-decade-old ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka,
has yet to see any tangible state or private sector investment from
the mainly Sinhalese south.
Markadu Ramadasan, president of the Yarlpanam Chamber of Commerce and
Industry in Jaffna, said that despite numerous visits by businessmen
and chamber officials from the south since the peace process started,
they have yet to set up a single industry in the region.
According to S Kuganathan, a journalist working for a local
newspaper, just three small industries have come up in the northern
city -- all by Jaffna-based businessmen. ''There were 200 to 300
businessmen from the south who came with hopes of new industries,''
he said. ''People are also worried that there would be a return to
The Jaffna peninsula of about than half a million people desperately
needs to revive its once-thriving industry and create jobs if the
peace process is to work.
But the only visible signs of activity in Jaffna is an expansion in
trading as Colombo-based companies fill shops with fast moving
consumer goods like Coca-Cola, refrigerators, processed food,
clothes, washing machines, gas cookers, televisions, radios
Tthe demand for mobile phones has soared from virtually nothing.
Supermarkets owned by Colombo-based chains have sprung up overnight.
But despite rising levels of consumerism due to remittances from
thousands of overseas Tamils, the economy of the war-damaged region
has not been turned around. ''There has been a surge in trading but
no real investment that can create industries and raise jobs,'' noted
Kethesh Loganathan, head of the peace and conflict analysis section
at the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a local think tank.
Heavy taxes by the rebels in addition to government taxes, also deter
investment. What hurts Jaffna residents most is that southern
industry, mainly from the majority Sinhalese community, gave false
hopes to the region of predominantly minority Tamils.
''For the first time in 20 years, we saw a silver lining in the
clouds. We thought development would come rapidly. Alas, that is not
the case,'' said a retired civil servant, who declined to be named.
Last week marked the twentieth anniversary of the massacre of some
400 Tamils in the Sri Lankan capital and in areas outside it, an
event that changed the course of history.
As the rebellion grew, partly fueled by anger over these riots,
Jaffna, once the stronghold of Tamil Tiger guerrillas, became the
scene of many bloody battles between the rebels and government troops.
Its economy, a major contributor to Sri Lanka's gross domestic
product (GDP), has been in tatters since the Tamil campaign for their
The region had large industries like a gigantic cement facility, and
dozens of power loom factories, caustic soda units, glass, aluminium,
ice and the entire small and medium industry, which were ruined by
war and conflict.
It once accounted for 40 percent of the fishing needs of the south,
while its rice, vegetables and mangoes went in bulk quantities to the
rest of the island.
Agriculture and fishing has picked up in the past year. Ironically,
these -- the only two sectors to be active in recent months --
received scant attention at the donors' conference in Tokyo in June,
which yielded 3 billion U.S. dollars in pledges
''There was a heavy concentration on infrastructure and focus on big
investment aimed at generating jobs and alleviating poverty, but
little attention was given to traditional livelihoods,'' said Nimalka
Fernando, a Colombo-based human rights campaigner.
Jaffna is not the only region in Sri Lanka to suffer from a lack of
investment. Last week, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe lashed out
at the country's business community for not investing enough,
increasing economic activity and creating jobs despite generous tax
breaks and incentives to trigger investment.
Political uncertainty has been the key towards a general reluctance
to invest - and this has taken a turn for the worse after the rebels
suspended peace talks.
On Wednesday, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce chairman Tilak de Zoysa told
a chamber meeting in Colombo that the peace process is doomed if both
sides do not get back to the negotiating table.
But Ramadasan rejects the argument of political uncertainty, saying
that taking risks is always part of business strategy. ''Businessmen
always take risks,'' he said. ''We don't want big investments, but
southern support to revive small and medium scale industries.''
Ramadasan said Colombo's private sector did not have a proper plan
for investment, but just visited the region in a euphoric state and
made vague announcements about future plans. ''They should have
conducted a proper study of the situation and prepared a report. In
the past 20 years, we don't have any information about resources and
labour availability (in the north). This needs to be studied before
investment plans are made,'' he added.
Loganathan added that what may be required now is to promote
collaborative investments between Sinhalese and Tamils. ''This would
ensure some sustainability and continuance (because of Tamil
involvement) even if the conflict is resumed and (becomes) of a
low-intensity nature,'' he said. (END)
The Daily Times [Pakistan] August 1, 2003
PA rejects MMA bill making weddings at mosques compulsory
LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Thursday rejected a marriage bill
introduced by a Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) legislator that sought
to make compulsory the holding of nikah and barat ceremonies in
The Punjab Marriage Functions (Prohibition of Ostentatious Displays
and Wasteful Expense) Amendment Bill 2003 introduced by the MMA's
Ehsanullah Waqas also stated that if there were no mosque within a
reasonable distance, the ceremonies should be held at the house of
the bride. Punjab Law Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja opposed the
bill, saying the barat ceremony was "beneath a mosque's dignity". He
said there was nothing wrong with the nikah ceremony being held in a
mosque, but the government could not force the general public to host
marriage ceremonies in a mosque. [...].
o o o
Kite-flying ban in Lahore
Applicant moves LHC to join petition
LAHORE: Justice Raja Muhammad Sabir of the Lahore High Court on
Thursday issued notice to the parties in an application seeking to
join a writ petition demanding an end to the ban on kite-flying.
Sohail Altaf Joiya, secretary of the World Association of Muslim
Jurists' Lahore chapter, said through his counsel Muhammad Ismail
Qureshi that he wanted to become a party in the petition in order to
lend support to the government's ban on kite flying under the
injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah.
The applicant said kite-flying should be permanently banned as it had
caused deaths of scores of people. The applicant said besides the
loss of human lives, kite-flying had caused an annual loss of Rs 2.5
billion to WAPDA in Lahore and resulted in damage to electronic
appliances of the petitioner and the public at large. He said the
incidents of kite twine slitting throats of the people posed an
ever-present danger to the people in Lahore and other cities of the
Punjab and people would have apprehension about their lives if the
ban was lifted.
Through a notification on June 30, 2003, the Lahore District
Government banned kite- flying as well as the sale, purchase,
storage, manufacturing, transportation and use of kites or any
materials used in flying kites within the revenue limits of Lahore
district with effect from July 1, 2003. Later, the government of
Punjab extended the ban for three months.
Petitioner Farasat Ali Butt has challenged the ban's extension by the
Punjab government through a writ petition on behalf of an
organisation of kite-sellers in Bhatti Gate and three firms dealing
The Citizens' Award 2003
Instituted in 1999, the Citizens' Award recognizes outstanding
individuals and organizations that have made significant
contributions to civil society. Earlier recipients of the award
include Abdul Sattar Edhi and Ardeshir Cowasjee.
The awards committee is inviting nominations for the year 2003. You may
nominate either an individual or an organization for the award.
You can download nomination forms from our website
(<http://www.xiber.com/ca/>www.xiber.com/ca/) or send in a request
via email (<mailto:ca@...>ca@...), fax (021-583-1099) or
by mail. The last date for the submission of nominations is October
The awards committee's shortlist will be assessed by a panel of judges
and the winner announced on December 15.
The winner shall be presented with a plaque as well a token monetary
F-15/2, 4th Gizri Street,
DHA, Karachi 75500 [Pakistan]
The Daily Star [Bangladesh] August 01, 2003
Cultural programme begins at JU tomorrow
The Jahangirnagar University Sangskritik Jote (JUSJ) organises a
four-day 'cultural programme against fundamentalism and communalism'
The programme will begin with a musical soiree at the university
amphitheatre. The Jahangirnagar Theatre will also stage '2nd August'
on the first day.
Another group of the Theatre will present 'Trijogmiti' at the
university Shaheed Minar on August 3.
On the third day, a musical and recitation programme will be held at
the foot of Amar Ekushey.
On the last day, 'Sei Rater Kotha Bolte Esechhi', a documentary, and
'No Man's Land', a film, will be shown at the amphitheatre.
The programmes will begin at 7:00 pm everyday.
The Jote will also took out a procession at 10.00am on the first day
to mark '2nd August'.
On that day in 1998, the general students including the female
students raided the five dormitories of the male students and ousted
the 'rapist group' and 'killer group' belonging to Bangladesh Chhatra
The Progressive Students' Alliance (PSA) will join the procession.
Peoples Union for Civil Liberties [India], August 2003
Concern for Pakistani child in an Indian jail
31st July, 2003
Name : Munir
Father's Name : Mohammed Bilal , a poor cow rearer
Age : 13 years
Language : Punjabi
Name of village in Pakistan : Bhatu ( according to police forces this
village maybe 15-20 kms from the border )
District Bhawalpur, Sindh Province in Pakistan
Since 29th July in Karanpur sub-jail in Sri Ganganagar district.
Charged u/s 109 IPC, for vagrancy. Was produced in front of a
magistrate on the 29 th of July who sent him to a sub-jail. From the
27 th of June to the 28 th he was held at Kesarisinghpur police
station, 40 kms from SriGanganagar district .
First news reports appeared in Rajasthan Patrika dated 29th June
which said that he has been in custody since two days. The news
report stated that he was handed over to Rajasthan police by the BSF
who picked him up on the 26th June, he had crossed the border
innocently. According to news reports and interaction with police no
case has been filed against him. There is just an entry in the
Now he has been in police custody since a month. The Sri Ganganagar
district press and ordinary citizens have taken up this matter like a
campaign in order to ensure early repatriation
The arguments of the PUCL
According to PUCL Munir has been kept in detention in contravention
of the procedure established under law. According to the PUCL the
detention of Munir is in violation of his rights under Articles 14,
21 and 22 of the Constitution and the Juvenile Justice [Care and
Protection of Children] Act 2000. Articles 14, 21 and 22 of the
Constitution apply to all persons regardless of nationality or
citizenship. The provisions and procedures laid down in the Juvenile
Justice [Care and Protection of Children] Act 2000 also apply to all
juveniles regardless of their nationality.
We believe that the State Government has violated the Juvenile
Justice Act by keeping the child in police custody. Munir is about 13
years of age, and is a juvenile requiring special protection under
the domestic and international law. We that in the present case there
has been a complete breakdown of the juvenile justice system.
Firstly, Munir has been wrongly incarcerated in the police lock-up
for over a month in absolute violation of the prevailing juvenile
legislation. Secondly, since 26-6-2003 when the Border Security Force
took him in custody he has not been produced before any Magistrate or
Juvenile Justice Board. The latter is a must under the Juvenile
According to the PUCL the United Nations Convention for the Rights of
the Child is legally binding, and the Countries are obligated to
adhere to its provisions. India is signatory to the CRC since 1992.
Munir has been separated from his family in an alien country for over
a month. Thus Munir should be transferred to an Observation Home and
be produced before the nearest Juvenile Justice Board. This illegal
detention is an infringement of the said Munir's right to life and
liberty, and has caused him great prejudice, and an avoidable
The PUCL also appeals that Munir should be repatriated to his home in
Pakistan at the earliest. By Munir's illegal detention, valuable time
has been wasted and restoration to his family has been uneccesarily
delayed. Since he is a child separated from his family everything
must be done to reunite from with his family in Pakistan at the
The PUCL has taken up the matter with the GOR and has demanded that
Munir be moved to a Juvenile home in Jaipur. It has also requested
urgent repatriation of Munir to Pakistan. PUCL has also written to
the GOI in this connection.
The PUCL has moved this matter in the Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur
Bench. It was heard on the 28th of July, 2003. It came up in the
Court of Justice Yaad Ram Meena and Justice Shashi Kant Sharma. The
Court issued notices to the Government of Rajasthan asking them to
reply in four weeks time in the said matter. The insensitivity of the
Judiciary in this matter is obvious that a petition arguing for
providing justice to a child is treated in a routine way. On hearing
that the boy was a Pakistani the Judges cut short the lawyer for the
PUCL Prem Krishna Sharma, who is also President of the State PUCL and
refused to hear further on the matter.
The PUCL wrote to the Indo-Pak Peace Forum, columnist and
Parliamentarian Mr. Kuldeep Nayar. Mr. Kuldip Nayar addressed a press
conference on the 27 th in Jaipur and took up Munir's case. He said
that Munir should be released at the earliest and that he would also
write to the Prime Minster and Home Minister to ensure the immediate
and safe passage of Munir back home.
We appeal to all citizens to act on this matter and write to
Sh. Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister, Rajasthan, Jaipur,
Sh. LK Advani, Home Minister, GOI, N.Delhi
Sh. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, N.Delhi
Against the unjust detention, immediate release and ensuring safe
passage to Munir so that he can be reunited with his family at the
In case you would like more information on this matter you can
contact us in Jaipur and Sri Ganganagar:
Jaipur contact persons:
Kavita Srivastava & Prem Krishna Sharma,
People's Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan,
49, Vivek Nagar, Station Road, Jaipur-302006
Kavita Srivastava : 0141/2706483
Invitation to a panel discussion in New Delhi on August 6
INDIA'S DANGEROUS TRYST WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS
A Discussion on Wednesday, August 6, Hiroshima Day
R. Rajaraman, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Satyajit Rath, National Institute of Immunology
Jean Dreze, Centre for Development Economics
C. Rammanohar Reddy, 'The Hindu'
VENUE: Conference Room III, India International Centre ANNEXE, New Delhi
Organised by ORIENT LONGMAN, publishers of
Prisoners of the Nuclear Dream
(ed by M.V. Ramana and C. Rammanohar Reddy)
Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP) invites
applications from South Asian professionals and scholars under the age of 45
for its Scholar of Peace Fellowships awarded for academic research, media
and special projects. WISCOMP seeks to promote an inclusive, gender
sensitive discourse on issues related to peace and security in South Asia.
The fellowships cover a period ranging from three months to one year. The
last date for receipt of applications is Sept. 15, 2003. Please download the
application form from our web site www.furhhdl.org by clicking on the WISCOMP
link or write to:
Foundation for Universal Responsibility
Core 4A, Upper Ground Floor, India Habitat Centre
Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110 003, India.
Ph.: 91-11-24648450 Fax: 91-11-24648451
The Atlantic Monthly | July/August 2003
Headlines Over the Horizon
Analysts at the RAND Corporation lay out ten international-security
developments that aren't getting the attention they deserve
The Hindu-Muslim Divide
defining element of Indian politics since independence has been a
commitment to secularism. That commitment is now at risk from an
aggressive brand of Hindu nationalism that equates Indian national
identity with Hindu religious identity. The country's radical
nationalists view the secular political system as a threat to Hindu
identity, largely because of the power it offers India's 140 million
Muslims. Weakening, or even abolishing, the secular state has
therefore become part of the radical-nationalist agenda. This may
force Indian Muslims-traditionally moderate and supportive of the
secular state, even on the sensitive matter of Kashmir-to shift their
allegiance from the state to some sort of larger international
Islamic movement, as many Muslims have done in Indonesia, Malaysia,
and Singapore. Such a radicalization of religious identities is a
matter of serious concern in a nation of a billion people that
possesses the world's seventh largest nuclear arsenal and has had
troubled relations with its populous and nuclear-armed Muslim
Radical Hindu nationalism is already a dominant force in mainstream
Indian politics. A Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, has led the
country's coalition government for five years, and extremist Hindu
organizations with explicitly anti-Muslim sentiments have heavily
influenced the party's agenda. Strife between Hindus and Muslims has
been the predictable result. Last year a group of Muslims burned a
train full of nationalist Hindus in the state of Gujarat; the attack
killed fifty-eight people and led to Hindu reprisals that killed
about 2,000 Muslims. An Indian tribunal investigating the massacres
found that Hindu nationalist groups had methodically targeted Muslim
homes and shops. It even charged that one important group, the VHP,
had recruited and trained militants for the violence, and had
provided them with computer printouts of names and addresses. Local
and national security forces failed to respond adequately to the
crisis as it unfolded: initially the state police did not intervene,
and the central government only belatedly sent troops to Gujarat to
restore order. Although thousands of extremist Hindus were involved
in the violence, few were arrested. On the whole, the Gujarat episode
has left Indian Muslims feeling neglected by the government.
The radicalization of India's Hindus and Muslims poses obvious
domestic-security challenges. According to recent reports, Muslim
militants based in Kashmir have been working with Pakistani groups to
target the VHP and other groups in retaliation for the massacre in
Gujarat. Militant Hindu groups have vowed to destroy Muslim mosques
throughout India, and to build temples in their place.
August 01, 2003
Ram versus Ramani
Fashion Week is a powerful enemy of the VHP
Mumbai is the hip slick town. But it's also a conservative small
town. During the recent Fashion Week, naked adolescents strolled up
and down ramps, screaming that they love to "purrtie"(party). Men
dressed in porno-chic stomped about with sindoor in their hair. Now
wasn't it the same Mumbai where only a few years ago, local Shiv
Sainiks tore up posters of a lesbian movie claiming the film was an
assault on 'Indian culture'? It was in Mumbai where a culture
minister cracked down on dancing in bars and necking in public. So,
where were the thekedars of bharatiya sanskriti during Fashion Week?
The weird fashion folk in their kinky clothes danced away all night,
but not a squeak from the Shiv Sena or VHP or Bajrang Dal. In sharp
contrast to Nigeria where religious extremists forced a Miss World
pageant to close down, in Mumbai the guardians of morality were
So why did the VHP not fulminate about Fashion Week the way it once
did over the filming of the film Water in Varanasi claiming that
Hindu culture was being defiled? Precisely because Pravinbhai Togadia
knows that nowadays the ramp is a line that he can't afford to cross.
'Fashion' may look like it represents a ridiculous minority but it
isn't so. In a mass aspiration society as ours is, it is an avenue of
massive upward mobility for hundreds. Small modeling agencies are
proliferating in Meerut and Moradabad. Actress Mallika Sarawat, star
of the film, Khwaish, (the one with the 17 kisses) says openly that
she has no qualms about showing off her body because she didn't
escape from mofussil hell in Haryana simply to fade away in the front
row of extras in Bollywood. The Gladrags Manhunt contest receives
huge response in small towns. Listen to some of the newer models
speak: Few are from elite backgrounds. Yukta Mookey comes from
Mulund, a Mumbai suburb. Supermodel Jesse Randhawa is neither from
Delhi or Mumbai but from Jaipur. Diana Hayden comes from a lower
middle class family in Hyderabad, Malaika Arora Khan grew up in
Thane. The Channel V hunt for a girl band was very popular outside
Valentine's day brings scores of young people to the streets of
Chandigarh. In UP, from Azamgarh to Barabanki, there are banners
offering Special English Language classes as well as Modelling
Courses. Schools in Rohini, a suburb of Delhi, are offering ramp
training. Designers like Rohit Bal and Malini Ramani (with some
assistance from the media) are fast becoming role models not just in
Delhi and Mumbai but in Kalyani and Satna. Today, 'Fashion' is as
much a ticket to social progress as Bollywood was for the Dharmendra
generation. So for the Hindu warriors to try and take on the naked
ladies of the ramp would be almost as silly as trying to take on
Yet the armies of Ramani are powerful cultural competitors to the
armies of Ram. The armies of Ram (led by Togadia) seek to propagate
social conservatism, the armies of Ramani kick off their clothes and
party. The armies of Ram insist on cultural enemies, the armies of
Ramani have no enemy except those preventing them from having a good
time. The armies of Ram adhere to Golwalkar's thundering dictum, that
the life of a woman is basically a ''call to motherhood''. But the
armies of Ramani insist that the life of a woman can also be a call
to the ramp. The armies of Ram claim they are sons of the soil. The
armies of Ramani can rightly claim that they are daughters of the
soil. After all, the VHP may be big among the tribes of Gujarat, but
fashion's equally big in Bareilly.
So to protest against fashion is no longer a protest against the
preoccupations of the elite. Instead such protests would run counter
to the popular mood among the young and even not-so-young across the
country. Judgemental old socialists and professional hand-wringers
might pour scorn on the "brainless fashion brigade", but in fact, the
sexy no-brainers trotting up and down the ramp are well on their way
to defeating Pravinbhai's cultural agenda. Fashion may not make any
money or be remotely relevant to the economy yet, amidst the epidemic
of unemployment and surrounding gloom, it embodies mass aspiration
and provides a means of escape from hardships. No wonder Pravinbhai
has given up trying to defend bharatiya sanskriti and has fallen back
on Ayodhya to drum up Hindu rage.
In any case, there's nothing non-bharatiya about fashion or parties.
The shastras talk of the four-fold objective of existence: dharma,
artha, kama, moksha. And Kautilya writes that if you have artha, kama
comes automatically, dharma follows and moksha looks after itself!
Along with ascetism, there has always been a driving profit motive
and a heightened "this worldly-ness" in our culture. The
scholar-gentlemen of Bengal such as Jagannath Tarka Panchanan who
even complied a digest of Hindu laws in the 18th century sat down to
princely meals of 8,200 dishes - a historical precedent perhaps to
the Five Star hotel.
Precisely because it is powered by popular energy, fashion might just
defeat those trying to re-create an imagined Vedic punyabhumi in the
21st century. Even if the naked ladies haven't yet realised their
political potential, they, in their own crazy way, set up an idea of
India which directly opposes Murli Manohar Joshi's. After all, as the
experience of the Taliban movement shows, the 'free woman', along
with religious minorities, is always the main enemy of male-led
militant traditionalist movements and if there's anything that the
fashion designers promote it is the democratic right of every woman
to cast off the metaphorical burqa.
Of course there is also the argument that models and fashion
designers might well be closet VHP supporters. Perhaps there are many
models and designers who hate Muslims and secretly yearn for a mandir
at Ayodhya even as they struggle into their G-strings. Yet the very
nature of their profession, the need to unabashedly celebrate the
undressed body, the use of English, their extremely (sometimes
imitative) westernised behaviour places them on a collision course
with the sangh parivar. Could there be a wittier subversion of Sushma
Swaraj's trademark sindoor than the manner in which it was emblazoned
across the hair of muscular male models at Fashion Week? The armies
of Ramani might well defeat the armies of Ram.
[THREE different Letters re Nelson Mandela's upcoming trip to India ]
o o o
1st August 2003
We have just heard from a very reliable source that the [Indian]
Government is planning to invite Mr. Nelson Mandela to visit Gujarat
on October 2nd (the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi) ...There is
also a news report in THE TELEGRAPH by Basant Rawat.
Nelson Mandela is still regarded the world over as a voice who has
stood up against everything that is draconian and authoritarian; he
has fought relentlessly against the sufferings and discrimination
meted out to his people. His coming to Gujarat (which has gone
through a State sponsored genocide) will conveniently defocus from
the reality of thousands of victims and from the fact that even today
justice is evading those who have suffered.
It is the duty of every citizen to protest his coming to Gujarat
until such time that justice prevails: those who have been
responsible for the genocide are brought to book and when the victims
feel some sense of redressal and justice.
You are requested to voice your protest by sending a letter to :
THE SOUTH AFRICAN HIGH COMMISSIONER
B-18 Vasant Marg
New Delhi 110 057
Tel: 011-26149411 to 20
Kindly also communicate your concerns directly to Mr. Nelson Mandela
in South Africa (nmandela@...) giving him facts about the
Gujarat reality and also to the grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi Ms.
Ela Gandhi who is a Member of Parliament in South Africa ( email ID
Please communicate this message to as many people and e-groups as possible.
Fr. Cedric Prakash
Director - PRASHANT
(Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
o o o
Dear Dr. Mandela:
I am writing to you today about a matter of much gravity. We have
been informed by reliable sources (including the Indian Press) that
you have received an invitation from Mr. Modi the Chief Minister of
Gujarat to attend the Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary on October
As you are probably aware Mr. Modi heads a government in Gujarat that
was responsible for one of the most systematic and cold blooded
massacres of over 2000 Indian muslims between March and May of 2002.
The government of Mr. Modi had participated actively in the execution
of the pogrom and what is worse, to date, no justice has been served
to all the victims. The government of Mr. Modi even today not only
stands in the way of justice but also continues to intimidate and
threaten those seeking justice.
Under such circumstances your visit to Gujarat will be used by the
mass murdering Chief Minister to enact a PR campaign to clean up his
sullied image. Please ensure that you do not participate in the
process of rehabilitating a murderous chief minister. Our appeal to
you is further to reject the invitation publicly so that the hands of
those fighting for justice in Gujarat is strengthened.
4, Windsor Place, New Delhi-110001 [India]
o o o
50 Main Street
ST ANDREWS, Fife KY16 9SA, U.K.
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 8:36 AM
Dear Mr Mandela
I write to suggest an alternative to the appeal of I K Shukla in his
letter of 31 July that you should stay away from the bogus Gandhi
celebrations of the present regime in India. That is, that
you combine a visit with a journey to Gujarat (Gandhi's home state)
in the company of human-rights workers etc (and free of official
minders) and visit some of the survivors of the outrage against the
Muslim (and to a lesser extent Christian) minority. Perhaps the
Indian director of Action Aid, Harsh Mander, who resigned his senior
post in the administrative service in protest at what happened) would
be an ideal guide on this.
It's been a year since people in INDIA registered a National level
protest against violence on the 15th of August 2002.
Life has moved on since, apparently even in Gujrat. However,
violence seems to be seeping into the routine
not necessarily in
just deeds or words but also other inconspicuous acts - political or
We, at the WHITE RIBBON CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE (WRC), feel that we should
register our protest again this year on the Independence Day (August
15, 2003) as citizens of the largest democracy in the world.
We propose to all to plan a WHITE RIBBON CAMPAIGN on the 15th of
August, as we did the last time
wearing white ribbons and
distributing them to others.
The White Ribbon is being used as a SYMBOL of PEACE. The campaign is
OUR symbolic protest against all kinds of VIOLENCE in any part of the
country & even beyond.
Last year's campaign demonstrated that the strength of peace loving
people across the country far exceeds those who create or believe in
Let us come together again on 15th of August 2003 across the country
to demonstrate our solidarity, to affirm our faith in PEACE & to show
the powers that be that the MAJORITY in India SUPPORT PEACE & not
If you agree with this, plz send us a short mail asap (preferably
within the next two to three days) and we will mail you the basic
guidelines on how to organize the campaign in your city / area.
If you have any suggestions, plz feel free to write to us (within the
next two days) as we have very little time left.
Please note: The White Ribbon Campaign is a voluntary effort of
bringing people together to stand up for PEACE.
Cheers for Peace!
WHITE RIBBON CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE
The IMPACT of White Ribbon as a Symbol:
Frankly, we were not sure if using a white ribbon as a symbol would
be of any use or appeal to anyone. But we were surprised by the
responses of people in general and the student community who took it
up. Some of the reasons cited by people who joined the campaign last
- We wanted to express our opinion against the senseless violence in
Gujrat, but didn't know what to do. At least we can show our support
for peace now.
- White Ribbon as a symbol gives visibility to people who care for
PEACE. We were surprised to see how many people came out and wore it.
- It becomes a "talking point" - people ask what this is and we get a
chance to talk about our stand against violence & the need for PEACE.
Justice is yet to prevail in Gujarat for one of the worst carnages in
the country. Violence continues - not only physically, but in the
kind of conversations we overhear, the gestures we watch people make:
words and expressions of communal hatred and war mongering are all
We may be confused about the kind of responses we should make, we may
be uncertain about what we can do individually and collectively to
make a difference. But all of us share a common sense of outrage and
a quest for peace. We know that the politics of hate & division or
calls of war will not help the people of the world. In our country,
communalism turns our pride in plurality into a sad caricature.
It is about time that we expressed our need for peace and
non-violence and stand together against all forms of violence. It is
about time we stopped being the 'SILENT MAJORITY' because we are both
unfortunately silent and fortunately a majority.
So say YES to PEACE & NO to violence. Peacefully!
*Wear a white Ribbon*
*Ask at least five other people to wear white ribbons*
We need symbols of peace, of secularism, of humaneness; we need to
stand up and be counted.
Please share this request with as many people as you can.
Let us wear our white ribbons till the violence ends - both in deed
and in word.
(White Ribbon For Peace Campaign) email:
[July 30, 2003]
The 'Adivasi' question in Gujarat: why fascist mobilisation?
A war of words between the Congress and the BJP has been going on recently
on the exact venue of the adivasi martyrdom and the wrong location of the
memorial by Modi's government (see news item below). What both of them are
not discussing are the issues relating to the adivasi movement culminating
in the massacre in 1922.
These are politically tricky issues for both these parties. The BJP is
taking undue political mileage because nobody knows anything about these
struggles, there is hardly any recorded history. Thanks to Mahatma Gandhi,
Indian National Congress and the Congress (I)!!
And for this very reason, the BJP is comfortable in expropriating Babasaheb
Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh. In Gujarat, they are desperately trying to
expropriate revolutionaries like Bhagvatichandra Vora, Madam Cama, Sardar
Prithvisinh Rana, Shyamji Krishna Verma and others. A new history of
'militant' freedom fighter is being created for the Sangh Parivar which was
a reactionary force during the anti-colonial movement. Apart from a handful
of dying communists in Gujarat, no one else has even heard their names.
Coming back to the adivasi question, thousands of adivasis were struggling
during the 1920s under the leadership of Guru Govind Singh and later Motilal
Tejawat (Eki 'unity' andolan) for adivasi liberation from exploitation and
oppression. During all these struggles the official freedom movement led by
Gandhiji turned a Nelson eye. And the massacre of March 7, 1922 (crushing of
the adivasi movement) took place hardly 150 kilometres away from the
Sabarmati Ashram. Neither was there any condemnation from the INC nor any
solidarity with the repressed adivasis. Their leader, Motilal Tejawat tried
his best to get Gandhi's support (note 1 below). But forget support, he
languished in jail till mid-1950s!
The response of Gandhiji was partially typical of his overall ideological
stance on the dalit question and the workers question (this in no way
belittles his contribution to the freedom movement, his powerful expositions
on 'Swaraj' and rural development. It was very much in Ahmedabad that Dr.
Ambedkar was driven away by dalits waving black flags, during the pre-Poona
pact hunger strike Gandhiji. And some of these young dalit Gandhians came to
occupy top Congress posts in independent India and shamelessly garlanded
Babasaheb's statue every April 14. One of them, Manubhai Makwana was a
Gujarat minister for long.
The same is the story of the struggling textile workers in Ahmedabad. Thanks
to Gandhiji, a class collaboration formula was worked out in the form of
"Majur Mahajan (proletarian-bourgeois alliance)" This union took the
advantage of the BIR Act to expolit the workers and not allow any other
trade union in textiles. While all the workers lost their jobs due to
textile closures in the 1980s, the Majur Mahajan brasses still swear by
khadhi and Gandhiji.
On the Adivasi question, Gandhiji and the INC not only ignored the please of
the struggling adivasis but went a step further. Gandhiji sent out his
lieutenant Amritlal Vithaldas Thakkar (1869-1951), life member of the
Servants of India Society (engineer and dalit expert, popularly known as
Thakkar Bapa) to Dahod with a mission: civilise these tribals. Thakar Bapa's
efforts saw a mushrooming of ashram shalas (residential rural schools and
development centres) all over the tribal belt. The adivasis were taught
about cleanliness, hygiene, health and hinduism. They were systematically
sanskritised and de-conscientised. They were brain-washed into joining the
mainstream of nation building as Indian Hindus! (note 2 below)
Thanks to the vast arsenal of rural development resourses at their disposal,
these ashrams captured the entire tribal belt and emerged as major political
centers. Besides rampant sexual exploitation of adivasi girls and
corruption, these ashrams commanded power levers in the Congress. While they
got discredited and looked upon suspiciously by the adivasis, the 'Swadhyay'
movement led by Pandurang Shashtri Athawale captured the minds of the
adivasis in the entire eastern belt during the late 1980s. The groundwork of
sanskritising the adivasis was already complete, thanks to over 4 decades
of Gandhian education. Now the adivasis were given the gita (as the mantra
for development) and hoodwinked with faith healing and sukdi prasads. They
were now kept busy in volunteering (shramdhans) for building temples, which
later on got into NGO-type constructive activities of building check dams,
The Sangh Parivar also stepped in. The foundation was done:
- the ashram shalas had robbed adivasis of their struggles, sanskritised
them and pushed them into the developmental mainstream (displaced by
'developmental projects', labelled as 'encroachers' in their own forests,
and forced to eke out a living as construction labour and domestic help in
- they were further sanskritised and mobilised for religious activities by
The Sangh Parivar had to only mobilise a few village leaders (Bhagats of
Swadhyay) and infuse the communal poison. And lo! fascist poison spread all
over the tribal belt. And there results were there to see in the genocide of
(Critics would cite the case of South Gujarat adivasis not participating in
the genocide. It could be easily argued that the Sangh Parivar has been
laying the foundation for the anti-Christian mobilisation there for over a
decade, and it would be too early to divert them from the 'conversions'
issue at this stage before they are imbibed with fascist Hindutva ideology.)
Yes, for all these reasons, we know nothing about the adivasi struggles. The
Congress was tight-lipped and was busy displacing adivasis and oppressing
them all the decades. We were fed with a history of independence of Gandhiji
and the Congressmen liberating us from the clutches of the imperialists. Not
a word about the revolutionaries. No mention of Motilal Tejawat, because he
was in jail for a decade after the British left. Surprisingly, not a single
systematic research paper on this aspect by any researcher by any research
centre speaks volumes about the influence of the Gandhian organisations and
Not to be further embarrassed, the Congress prefers to only take issue with
the BJP on the exact location of the massacre. Or is it that these new breed
of Congress leaders know nothing about these massacres? Why we never heard
it, even though it was bigger than the Jallianwala Baug massacre? The Sangh
Parivar had done its homework long back while creating a fascist laboratory
here and know that the Congress can never open its mouth.
1. MOTILAL TEJAVAT AND THE "BHILS"
In order to look into this matter, Shri Manilal Kothari went at my request
to Shirohi and other places. It seems from the reports received from him
that Shri Motilal Tejavat has been working mainly to persuade the Bhils to
give up drinking and flesh-eating. It is beyond doubt that his activities
have brought about an awakening among the Bhils. There would have been no
ground for criticism if he had stayed at one place so that the Bhils could
meet him, instead of roaming around accompanied by groups of them. I
reproduce below the letter (Not translated here. It said that Tejavat had
introduced satyagraha among the Bhils and this had displeased the
authorities in the States Neither they nor the Britishofficials paid
attention to his pleas.) he has sent to me through Shri Manilal.
This letter betrays ignorance about some matters. The British have nothing
to do with the issue and the matter ought to have been brought to the notice
of the States concerned in a proper manner. Shri Manilal says that in
Palanpur, Danta and Shirohi States, he, Manilal, had received full
co-operation from the authorities. Shri Motilal and the Bhils also listened
to him and he was sure that they wished to carry on their work in a wholly
peaceful manner. I hope that the Bhils will be satisfied if the States
listen to their complaints and redress their grievances. Assuming that Shri
Motilal has been at fault in some matters, both the Rulers and the subjects
are likely to benefit if this is overlooked and the States take advantage of
the good effects of his work among the Bhils and pay attention to improving
[From Gujarati] Navajivan, 26-2-1922: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi,
VOL. 26 : 24 JANUARY, 1922 - 12 NOVEMBER, 1923
2. THE "BHILS' OF RAJPUTANA
The Bhils of Rajputana are a simple and a brave people. They have certain
grievances. They have found in one Motilal Tejavat a friend and helper. He
has been, it is said, weaning them from drink, gambling and meat-eating and
asking them to live an orderly industrious life. He has been also advising
them about their grievances. The only fault I can find is that he has been
moving about with a large retinue of his followers. This has undoubtedly
caused uneasiness among the States. Hearing all sorts of complaints against
Mr. Motilal I asked Mr. Manilal Kothari to inquire. He did so with the
permission and the help of the respective States and the Bhils have assured
him that they do not mean any mischief at all. He has met Mr. Motilal also.
The latter has assured Mr. Kothari of his peaceful intentions. But
unfortunately in the meanwhile the Idar State is reported to have taken
action against the Bhils and killed four of them. I do not know the full
details nor do I know the reason for the action. I can only hope that they
will settle the Bhil complaints by appointing an arbitration court and
promise free pardon to Mr. Motilal if he comes out of the hills and
surrenders himself. The Bhils have been long neglected by the States and
reformers. If they are given a helping hand, they can become the pride of
India. All they need is the spinning-wheel in their homes and schools in
which their children can receive simple education. In the vast awakening
that has taken place no race can be left out of the calculation of the
States and reformers.
Young India, 2-3-1922: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, VOL. 26 : 24
JANUARY, 1922 - 12 NOVEMBER, 1923
1,200 Gujarat tribals killed by British at a different spot, says Congress:
Tale of a memorial: Now here, nowhere, Milind Ghatwai (Indian Express,
Pal-dadvav, July 27: It took Gujarat eight decades to set up a memorial to
the hundreds of tribals killed by the British in a massacre said to be worse
than Jallianwala Bagh. But it took the opposition Congress little time to
run it down since it was erected a kilometre away from the field where the
massacre had happened on March 7, 1922.
The memorial was unveiled on June 22 this year. Soon, the Congress announced
at a press conference that it stood at the wrong spot and that villagers
were willing to pool money for building another one at the right spot.
The memorial at Pal-Dadvav
About 1,200 villagers are believed to have been killed when soldiers of the
Mewad Bhil Corps (MBC) opened fire at a public meeting of the tribals. The
bodies were believed to have been dumped in a well.
This much is known: Motilal Tejawat, venerated as the Mahatma Gandhi of the
Bhils, had called the meeting to press for their demands. One version has it
that a tribesman excited by Tejawat's speech shot a round in the air,
provoking indiscriminate firing by MBC soldiers.
Another has it that the soldiers, who had come from Kherwada in Rajasthan,
were enraged by the roadblocks put up by the tribals.
The British suppressed news of the massacre. History books make only a
passing reference to it and hardly any serious research has been done.
People like Pahadaji Damor, who says he was 20 when the massacre took place,
recall seeing people running away from the meeting. He says the Bhil
soldiers took away the jewellery from bodies before dumping them in the
''It was all over in an hour,'' he says. ''That year, we celebrated a simple
Holi in fear of the British. And a Christian priest adviced us not to
discuss the massacre.''
But now that a memorial has been erected, the massacre - and the memorial -
have become the subject of competitive patriotism. Ironically, it was the
Congress that brought the massacre to light more than five years ago. But
the BJP pipped it to the post by erecting the memorial.
If Sabarkantha MP Madhusudan Mistry and Khedbrahma MLA Amarsinh Chaudhary,
in whose constituency the village is located, have their way, they would
raise money and build another memorial at what they say is the exact site
where the bodies were dumped.
The two Congress leaders see politics behind the erection of the memorial.
''The BJP isn't serious about the monument, which was put up only with an
eye on the next Lok Sabha election,'' he says. ''The tribals never voted for
them. How can the state commit such a blunder?''
But then, why didn't he point out the mistake before?
''They wanted to do it first, and made the mistake. With the state machinery
at their disposal they could easily have located the exact spot,'' Mistry
says, demanding pension for relatives of the survivors. He says he didn't
attend the unveiling ceremony because he was informed at the last moment,
and because his presence would ''have led to some kind of scuffle.''
On its part, the BJP readily agrees the memorial is at the wrong spot.
''This was because land-owners refused to part with a plot for the memorial,
'' says Ramilaben Bara, the BJP candidate who lost to Chaudhary in the last
Assembly election. ''The Congress ruled Gujarat for decades, and Amarsinh
Chaudhary was chief minister for years, but still they did not recognise the
Some villagers say the memorial is done with, so why bother with a
controversy. They take visitors to a mound said to be covering the well in
which the bodies were dumped. They point to the fields where the corpses
were strewn for days, saying skeletons will surely be found if the mound is
But there are others, like sarpanch Bhimji Patel, who say it isn't politics,
but a matter ''dear to our hearts.''
''We want the memorial to be built at the exact place,'' he says. ''Everyone
knows where it took place. Now, we are collecting money for another
memorial - to be build at the exact spot.''
The site is not spread over a large area, but the land is owned by seven
partners. Now, with the controversy having broken out, the land-owners say
will hand over the plot for free. ''I'll become famous (for donating the
land),'' says Chandubhai Damor, 40, one of the owners, who claims he found
cartridges when he built a room last year.
But Pahadji Damor, who has a first-hand memory of the massacre, says it
doesn't matter at all where the memorial - which has anyway been a long time
in coming up - stands.
The Latest issue of INSAF* Bulletin  August 1, 2003
is now available at the INSAF web site:
* International South Asia Forum
Postal address: Box 272, Westmount Stn., QC, Canada H3Z 2T2 (Tel. 514 346-9477)
(e-mail; insaf@... or visit our web site http://www.insaf.net)
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