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SACW | 22 Jul 2004

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | 22 July, 2004 via: www.sacw.net [1] Pakistan: Correcting the State s ideological past (Nasim Zehra) [2] India: Beyond
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 21 7:38 PM
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | 22 July, 2004
      via: www.sacw.net

      [1] Pakistan: Correcting the State's 'ideological' past (Nasim Zehra)
      [2] India: Beyond Ideology: The Case Against RSS Governors (Alok Rai )
      [3] India: Whither Gender Parity?: Women And The
      Patriarchal Values Today (Ram Puniyani)
      [4] India: Letter re textbooks by Asghar Ali
      Engineer to Chief Minister of UP State
      [5] India: Men in khaki proudly wear Hindu identity on their sleeves ()
      [6] India: Joshi 'forgets' to return ICHR's Freedom files
      [7] India: Families of 'disappeared' persons seek justice
      [8] Upcoming Talk: 'Shared Shrines and
      Inter-Communal Relations in Malerkotla, Punjab'.
      (New Delhi, 26 July)
      [9] Panel Discussion: Ghaffar Khan: Non-Violent
      Badshah of the Pakhtuns (New Delhi, 24 July)



      The News International
      July 22, 2004

      Correcting the State's 'ideological' past
      by Nasim Zehra

      On July 19th the Federal Minister for Education,
      Zubaida Jalal announced in the National Assembly
      that the government 'might' include in the
      curriculum, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's
      historic speech of August 11, 1947 made before
      the members of the Constitution Assembly. If
      carried through, this would be a significant
      departure from the Pakistani State's earlier
      policy. The State had ignored the speech, plus
      challenged its veracity. The key operational part
      of the speech read, "You are free to go to your
      temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to
      any other place of worship in this State of
      Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste
      or creed and that has nothing to do with the
      business of the State. You will find that in the
      course of time, Hindus will cease to be Hindus,
      Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the
      religious sense because that is the personal
      faith of each individual but in the political
      sense as citizen of the State."

      MMA's parliamentary leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed did
      not oppose the inclusion of the speech. He,
      however, demanded inclusion of other speeches by
      the Quaid in the curriculum. That is political
      point scoring. Other speeches can be made
      available for students to read. The August 11
      speech is extraordinary. It enunciates the
      character of, and a vision for, a just Muslim
      State. It would treat all its citizens with

      These are corrective and alteration times for
      Pakistan. Not just of policies and institutions
      but also of something more fundamental; the
      State's own ideological moorings. The business of
      ideology in Pakistan has never been an easy one;
      as would have been the case for any State created
      in the name of religion and one that subsequently
      faced unending problems in state building, policy
      formulation and political evolution. The earliest
      warning on problems flowing from the State's
      adhoc approach to ideology was documented in the
      50s Munir Commission report. Tensions between
      religious parties, which had opposed the creation
      of Pakistan, and the State which constantly
      undermined the evolution of democracy and also
      leaned heavily on US support for its own stature,
      prevented an informed and conclusive debate on
      State ideology. In fact, the issues of
      manipulation of Constitution, army in politics,
      relationship between the federating units, a weak
      judiciary and spineless Election Commission and
      an ineffective police force, the unresolved
      Kashmir issue, abiding insecurity vis-a-vis
      India, the burning issue of Palestine and the
      alliance with the US, all influenced and
      distorted the debate on State and ideology.

      The 70s power play between political parties and
      the State institutions again defined the debate
      and 'ideology' related decisions. The popularly
      elected, brilliant, yet blundering politician
      Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, when
      confronted with a religious party - dominated
      opposition nexus with the army, he sought refuge
      in quick fix 'ideological' steps. The Prime
      Minister under siege declared Qadianis as a
      religious minority, introduced the religion
      column in passports, announced ban on drinking
      and declared his intension to enforce Sharia. The
      problem was more with the way the politically
      hounded Bhutto clutched these 'ideological'
      measures for his survival, not the merits or
      demerits of these measures. Ideology was reduced
      to a tool for survival when the army-religious
      parties attacked Bhutto with 'ideological'
      weaponry. They promised to remove Bhutto and
      enforce the Sharia. Quaid-e-Azam's legitimate
      vision communicated in his August 11 speech was
      again trashed. Political and power compulsions
      were ascendant.

      The 80s were much worse. Under General
      Zia-ul-Haq's military dictatorship the symbols of
      Islam were deployed for promoting, what the
      dictator and his cabal concluded was in
      Pakistan's national interest. After the 1979
      Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, religious fervour
      and commitment were incorporated as important
      tools in the jointly authored US and Pakistan
      anti-Soviet policy. This incorporation led to the
      militarisation of the otherwise multidimensional
      concept of Jihad. The outcome was training and
      recruiting for the anti-Soviet international
      'jihad' students from the old and newly set up
      madrasas, the indoctrination of these young minds
      in the validity and piety of destruction of the
      'other' and the creation of an international
      Muslim brotherhood around the concept of armed
      jihad and sheer hatred against occupiers of
      Muslim lands (Afghanistan).

      Clearly, in opting for this full-fledged
      partnership, the responsibility of the Pakistani
      State to protect the life, liberty and property
      of its own citizens, became secondary. Saudis,
      with their commitment to providing matching funds
      for this international 'jihad' and their own
      objective to stave off the political threat posed
      by the revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran,
      lead to Saudi money pouring in to set up
      madrassas in Pakistan. These were to help promote
      the military objectives of the jihad and the
      anti-Iranian ideological objectives. What emerged
      as the Pakistan State's 'ideology' in the
      eighties was convenient, yet domestically
      destructive, which was largely reactive and
      highly militarised.

      Significantly, the corollary to this ideology on
      the domestic front was Zia-ul-Haq's version of
      Islamisation of State-controlled institutions,
      including schools, judiciary, electronic media
      and even certain dimensions of the armed forces.
      The school curricula reflected intolerance and
      sectarianism, while also undermining the overall
      quality of the syllabus, highly controversial
      laws like the Hudood Ordinance, law of evidence
      and subsequently the Blasphemy Law were enacted.
      These mutilated the essence of justice and fair
      play promoted by Islam. In government offices
      women were instructed to cover their head and
      offerings of prayers was made obligatory.

      As an extension of its international jihad
      policy, the State patronised, promoted and
      protected sectarian groups, who killed the
      innocent and unprotected, at will. This then was
      Pakistan's 'ideology' played out by the military
      dictator. His legacy was cancerous intolerance
      and a stifling hold of the State over the
      individual's personal matter of religion. Within
      sections of the armed forces too, a particular
      interpretation of religion was institutionalised.
      This was, as we subsequently discovered a
      dangerous addition, to the perfectly plausible
      supra-national Muslim consciousness that existed
      in the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of
      Pakistan. This new religious orientation
      undermined the lynchpin that holds together the
      armed forces - institutional discipline.

      In the nineties, despite civilian rule, this
      brand of Islamisation was not substantively
      reviewed. The military still controlled and
      influenced, directly and through its alliance
      with religious parties, the militarised
      infrastructure put in place in the eighties. This
      fear of this establishment supported
      infrastructure also prevented the weak and
      incompetent political governments, from reviewing
      disputed laws passed in the name of Islam. In
      fact, Nawaz Sharif, himself, passed a
      Constitutional amendment, seeking greater powers
      for the Prime Minister to enforce Sharia. When
      criticised, Nawaz Sharif had turned to the men
      from religious seminaries and had urged them to
      be his "army" for helping him implement Sharia.
      During his last days, he had also invited a
      religious scholar to come and give moral lessons
      to his Cabinet. Meanwhile, Benazir Bhutto much
      less prone to dabbling with controversial
      ideological moves had also entered into a
      political alliance with one of the sectarian
      parties in Punjab.

      The end of 1999 saw the return of military rule
      and very little changed in the ideological ethos
      of the State. General Pervez Musharraf personally
      attempted revision in the implementation
      procedure of the Blasphemy Law in 2000. He
      rapidly retraced his steps when warned of a
      religious backlash. In the year 2001, Musharraf
      raised the impact of political extremism and
      misdirected religious zeal on society. He raised
      this during his address at the Seerat-ul-Nabi
      Conference in mid 2001. Evidently, he did not
      share the outlook dominating political, and often
      religious, sections in the Muslim world that
      enforced modesty and the 'chaardewari' for women
      which was the best certificate of the
      'muslimness' of a society. Musharraf proactively
      promoted appointment of women to important
      positions. Subsequently, 33% women were elected
      to the local government across the country and
      the number of women representatives in the
      provincial and National Assembly, as well as in
      the Senate was substantially increased.

      However, it was not until post 9/11 that the
      State of Pakistan controlled by military began a
      roll-back on the three main fronts that it had
      ironically promoted in the name of Islam, as a
      result of Pakistan-US 'jihad' partnership. Now
      when the post 9/11 US policy forced rollback on
      the sub-state but state patronised
      infrastructure, Islamabad began the rollback.
      Gradually but definitively. Along with the
      infrastructure, rollback on the problems with
      curriculum and laws was also begun.

      The Musharraf government has faced major
      criticisms from different political sections in
      Pakistan that argue that this entire roll back
      and reform is Washington-led. That Washington has
      sought this as undeniable. Yet, the more relevant
      and compelling truth is
      that it has long been Pakistan's own need,
      articulated by groups like the Human Rights
      Commission of Pakistan and individuals like
      Khaled Ahmad that the State apparatus not be made
      subservient to either a linear and static
      approach to Islam, nor be hostage to any
      individual interpretation of religion or national

      At present, the debate around the Wana operation,
      the reform in curriculum, changes in legislation
      and introduction of laws against inhuman
      practices like Karo Kari, is a positive
      development. Facilitated by proliferation of
      television channels, various contending views on
      these issues expressed by politicians, the State,
      peoples' organisations, including religious
      scholars are being put forth. If backed by public
      support these moves will have staying power. The
      merits and demerits of these moves, established
      against the touchstone of Islamic values and
      humanism, through informed public will drain
      vested interest and ignorance from the crucial
      question of State and ideology in Pakistan.
      Fortunately, on this issue the Pakistani State
      has begun to re-orient itself; even if it's a
      long and bumpy journey ahead.


      The Times of India
      July 22, 2004, Op-Ed.

      Alok Rai

      Thrown off-balance by Verdict 2004, the once
      deputy prime minister of India is blustering with
      threats of dire but unspecified consequences: The
      Congress, he said, will have to pay a heavy price
      for this! Well, the Congress can take care of
      itself, but it behoves us as concerned citizens
      to spend a little time with the matter that has
      so exercised the hon'ble Mr Advani: The summary
      dismissal of four RSS functionaries whom his
      government had installed as provincial governors.

      The sainted Mr Advani, projected as another
      Sardar Patel from time to time, is seeking to
      play Gandhi, positioning himself somewhere above
      (and outside) Parliament from where he can
      criticise the established legal order. But the
      muttered threats diminish him cruelly into
      something like a Hindu Jinnah.

      Advani's affectations apart, the underlying issue
      is not merely the technical one of whether the
      president is legally right in dismissing the four
      governors. It is the deeper moral question of
      whether self-confessed RSS types should have been
      - or should ever be - appointed to high offices
      where they are in a position to pervert the
      workings of the Constitution to which their
      allegiance can only ever be tactical and
      hypocritical. If not, then irrespective of Mr
      Advani's posturings, the great wrong was that of
      having appointed such people in the first place,
      and we should be grateful for what the president
      has done.

      In the bad old days before the formation of the
      NDA government, a lot of people who should have
      known better, persuaded themselves that the
      constraints of office would "normalise" the BJP.
      In becoming a mainstream party, it would shed its
      manic elements. There is a profound sense in
      which the BJP has been "compromised" by its years
      in office. There isn't much point in naming
      names. Let us merely remember, just when Enron is
      about to hit us with a Rs 26,000 crore bill, that
      the statesman-like Mr V actually cleared the
      second phase of the Enron project - having
      rubbished it earlier - during the 13 days when he
      was the prime minister in 1996, before
      unsuccessfully seeking the initial vote of

      And yet, it is not the widespread corruption that
      is the most worrying thing about these people.
      Their demonstrated venality is what might even
      delude us into accepting them as "normal",
      muddled and corruptible - just like the rest of
      us. The thing that puts them firmly beyond the
      pale of constitutional politics is their
      so-called "idealism", their carefully projected
      air of sanctimonious virtue, their mealy-mouthed

      The processes whereby the RSS manages to produce,
      en masse, a certain kind of personality have not
      received the academic attention they deserve. But
      while the etiology and inner structure of this
      kind of personality might be imperfectly
      understood, we are familiar with its behaviours.
      I refer not only to the bloodied foot-soldiers of
      "Gujarat 2002", but rather to the perfumed
      leaders who, with clean hands and clean
      consciences, presided over this orgy of violence.
      Not only the unmentionable Modi but also Mr
      "Flip-flop" Vajpayee and Mr Advani. Two years
      after those gruesome events, they still haven't
      grasped the horror of what happened, and are
      publicly concerned about whether the violence
      lost or won elections for them, and consequently
      whether or not it was something they should
      apologise for, or boast about.

      This question - How do they do it? - has a direct
      bearing on the matter of the dismissed governors.
      My own sense of it is that the RSS, after the
      manner of similar organisations, creates in its
      cadres an area of self where merely human
      considerations no longer apply. It has been
      supposed, simplistically, that the demonising of
      the Muslim is an end in RSS ideology. My sense of
      it is that the "demonised Muslim" is merely the
      means whereby a trans-moral personality is
      created. It is of the essence of this kind of
      "engineered" personality that it is, in most
      respects, normal, and sometimes even rather
      refined. (The case of the concentration camp
      commandant who returned to Wagner and Bach after
      a hard day at the gas chambers is legendary.) The
      area of self functions as a secure and privileged
      enclave, beyond the reach of rational argument,
      and the cries of human pain and suffering. The
      merely human being, once possessed of
      self-hypnotising, dogmatic certainties, and
      absolved of moral responsibility, is rendered
      into pure will, an instrument of history, or the
      nation, or the Aryan ideal.

      It seems merely an elementary precaution to
      exclude such worthies from every office that
      requires an explicit fidelity to the Constitution
      of India. It cannot be argued that theirs is an
      ideology just like any other - because if mere
      ideological affiliation were a disqualification,
      then Khurana and even Nawal Kishore Sharma should
      have been excluded. But the RSS is not, as they
      themselves routinely declare, a political party
      with a particular ideology - it is a secret
      society. And whatever little has filtered out
      about the aims of this secret society, it aims at
      nothing less than subverting the liberal and
      secular Constitution of India. Can it now claim
      the protection of a liberal order that it seeks,
      day in and day out, to pervert and malign?



      21 July 2004


      Ram Puniyani

      The Muslim Personal Law boardís meeting gave the hope
      that it will abolish triple talaq, will take a step
      towards justice for Muslim women. But that was not to
      be. While there are multiple factors coming in the way
      of reform in Muslim personal laws, things are not too
      bright for Hindu women as well. The rise of politics
      in the name of religion has created an atmosphere
      where the social relations, the one between men and
      women, between upper caste and dalits are going in a
      reverse gear.

      There are multiple glaring instances, which have
      happened during last few months, which force one to
      think as to where are we heading for as far as gender
      parity is concerned. We did hear about many cases of
      honor killing in Pakistan during last few years. Cases
      where the male relatives of the women killed them as
      they decided to choose their own life partners against
      the wishes of their men folk, father, brother etc are
      on the rise. This abominable practice was heard of and
      one understands has been prevalent in Pakistani
      society. While one had heard of two cases of women
      being burnt alive as Sati, and than glorified by the
      family. Sati was a custom against which reformers like
      Ram Mohun Roy struggled in the late Nineteenth
      century. Cases of its occurrence in late Twentieth
      century did shake the conscience of most of us. While
      a large number of people condemned it, there were
      people who came up with the concept of Rani Sati
      temples to ëhonorí this custom. Of all the condemnable
      reactions which took place in the wake of Roop Kanwar
      being burnt, the worst of course was the protest march
      taken out by the then Vice President of Bhartiya
      Janata Party, Mrs. Vijaya Raje Scindia, a widow
      herself. This march which was taken to the Parliament,
      the highest law making body in the country, had the
      slogan that to commit sati is not only the glorious
      tradition of Hindu women, its their right also. This
      march was meant to stall the legal measures, which
      were being contemplated to prevent such incidents in

      One and a half decades down the line, things are no
      better. If at all new forms of womenís oppression are
      coming up. The worst amongst them being the
      replication of honor killing, the practice which one
      was hearing of in Mullah dominated Pakistan. Somewhere
      in March 2004, a young man killed his sister and
      brother in law in Thane. After being arrested for the
      crime he gloriously proclaimed that his sister had
      married against the wishes of the family so he
      undertook this crime and that he is proud of what he
      did. Somewhere in June 2004, a boy killed his sister
      in Nagpur. The girl apparently was talking to her
      boyfriend on phone. She had made up her mind to marry
      him. Her decision to marry the boy of her liking was
      not approved of by the family, i.e. father and
      brother, and so in the rage of anger the boy killed
      his own sister.

      The latest issue (July 2004) of a national
      Newsmagazine reports a speech by none other than the
      Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, the firebrand Uma
      Bahrati. As per the report, RSS ideologue
      Govindacharya had proposed to her through Mr. Advani.
      She apparently was favorable to the proposal. She
      sought permission from her brother for this. Her
      brother, Swami Lodi, did not approve of the alliance
      so she rejected the proposal and took Sanyas. Why the
      all-powerful person of the stature of Uma Bahrati has
      to get the nod of her brother for marrying the person
      of her choice.

      The rising occurrence of incidents of girl being
      either denied permission to marry the person of her
      choice or being killed because she exercises the
      option and goes ahead, is reflective of the deeper
      cultural rot which is setting in the society due to
      the rise of politics in the name of religion. The
      ideology of this politics is based on the pre-modern
      feudal values. Feudal society, where the nexus of
      landlord and priest ruled the roost in the society,
      was founded on the hierarchical notions of caste and
      gender. In this scheme of things the supremacy of
      Landlord is unquestionable as he had the divine power.
      And it was the priesthood, cutting across different
      religions, which propagated and upheld these values.
      According to this in European society the serf was
      bonded to the land and the feudal lord was the
      controller of his life.

      In India, the things were parallel but different. Here
      there was no centralized Church, but the local
      alliance between the landlord and the priest served
      the same purpose. In Maharashtra this alliance goes by
      the popular name of Shetji-Bhatji (Landlord-Brahmin).
      In this scheme of things the peasant the Shudra was
      tied to the land, was himself a semi property of the
      landlord, so could not own his property. As far the
      woman is concerned, the pattern in most of the
      geographical locations and in the prevalent norms in
      most religious communities was the same. Its that
      woman is the property of man. So obviously a property
      in turn cannot own a property herself. She needed
      protection and in turn control. In her childhood this
      control is the prerogative of father, during adult
      life that of husband and in old age in case of
      husbands death its son or another male relative who is
      the controlling authority. In one of the colloquial
      languages a word is used for women, Trimmat, the one
      guided by opinions of three persons, depending on the
      stage of her life.

      Secularization process breaks the authority of
      landlord not only on land but also of his control
      over, serf, shudra, who now is an independent
      landowner, land to the tiller, if that takes place. At
      times guillotine, at times revolutions brought to end
      this divine power of landlords and Kings. Bhudan
      (donation of land) or halfhearted land reforms could
      not end this hegemony totally. As far as women are
      concerned, the introduction of education, and their
      entry into social space should have abolished the
      concept that woman is the property of man. One hears
      of the word Kanyadan, donating of daughter, at the
      time of marriage. There is nothing like Putradan
      (donating of son) as an equivalent. As son is the
      recipient of the property. Husbands in many
      traditions are addressed as Master, Dhani, and Swami

      The process of transition of women from property,
      controlled subjects to the people in their own rights
      began and Savitribai Phule is the major initiator in
      this direction. The coming times saw the emergence of
      the likes of Pandita Ramabai, Anandi Gopal etc. who
      took extreme pains to come out of the shackles of
      patriarchal control. Indiaís freedom movement also saw
      a great participation of women in the struggle for
      freedom. As Indiaís secularization process was not
      complete the remnants of it kept hierarchical values
      alive even after independence. The Indian Constitution
      did accept the total equality of caste and gender. But
      can any deprived section get its rights just for
      asking. No way. A struggle to get oneís social and
      political goals is the only way to get it. The laws
      and constitution provide the ground on which such
      struggles can stand and march ahead.

      It is likely that these tendencies became stronger in
      Pakistan after the Mullah influenced changes brought
      in by Zia Ul Haq in early eighties. In India the rise
      of the social power of Hindutva around the same time
      has given a fillip to the retrograde values as far as
      gender is concerned. At this point, Hindutva defends
      the subjugation of women as a political agenda. For
      that matter any politics, which goes on in the name of
      religion, does the same. Hindutva ideology is joined
      in this arena by Post modernists, the ilk of Ashish
      Nandyís, who will come forward to defend these
      traditions, closing their eyes to the social
      relations, to the notions of hierarchy. The question
      is not just whether Uma Bharati can marry the person
      of her choice or not, the question is a broader one.
      And it pertains to the surge of politics, which aims
      to suppress the human rights of weaker sections of
      society. The question pertains to the abuse of the
      emotions associated with religion for the sake of
      power. One hopes that the cases of honor killings
      reported around are the last oneís. One hopes that
      rather than asserting that women were worshipped in
      Ancient India (! before they were consigned to the
      ëholyí flames of her husbands funeral pyre) one comes
      to recognize that women are equal citizens, equal in
      social rights and both genders have to have parity in
      all matters of our social and political existence.



      [Text of letter by Asghar Ali Engineer to Chief
      Minister of Uttar Pradesh State, India]

      o o o

      16th July 2004


      Shri. Mulayam Singhji Yadav,
      Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh,
      5, Kalidas Marg,
      U.P. [India]

      Dear Sir,

      We were greatly disturbed to see report in Indian
      Express today i.e. 16 July 2004, that in Uttar
      Pradesh Class XI' s textbook the following
      passage occurs

      "The place where Babri mosque is situated at
      present was the birth place of Shri Ram. A temple
      existed there for centuries which was disfigured
      by Babar to build the mosque at the same site.
      The mosque that now been razed while recovery of
      artifacts below that site during excavation has
      proved the existence of a temple at the site,"
      says the history text, Bharat Ka Vrahad Itihas,
      on page number 296. This passage was included in
      2003 after excavation was carried out at the
      instance of Allahabad High Court.

      To say the least, this is patently false & no
      such false information should be given to the
      students and communalise their minds. May we
      request you to kindly get this passage removed
      from the textbook immediately. Under your secular
      government such textbooks should not be
      prescribed. We will be highly obliged if an early
      action is taken and we are informed about it.

      With kind regards,

      Yours sincerely,

      Asghar Ali Engineer.
      Centre for Study of Society and Secularism



      The Times of India
      Akshaya Mukul
      TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ THURSDAY, JULY 22, 2004 05:36:42 AM ]
      NEW DELHI: Twelve confidential files related to
      the prestigious "Towards Freedom" project of the
      Indian Council of Historical Research taken by
      former HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi on March
      9, 2000, have gone missing.

      The files, No. 18-30/72-ICHR/Admn.I in three
      parts, each containing 170, 210 and 131 pages,
      were never retur-ned despite a reminder by
      IC-HR's then member-secretary R C Agrawal to
      Joshi's PS Al-ok Tandon on August 19, 2002. The
      matter has been brought to the notice of new
      dispensation in the HRD ministry and search for
      the files is on.

      The issue of the missing files resurfaced
      recently when ICHR chairperson D N Tripathi, a
      Joshi appoi-ntee, wanted to revive the "Towards
      Freedom" project and asked for the files only to
      be told these are missing for five long years.

      Much to Joshi's chagrin, Tripathi has asked the
      officiating member-secretary A K Ambasth to
      recover the files. He says Joshi's office had no
      business to keep files of an autonomous body for
      so long and not return them despite a reminder.
      "Unfortunately all this happened in the earlier
      regime," Tripathi told TNN over phone from

      According to him, the files of autonomous bodies
      are never kept by the administrative ministry. At
      best, these co-uld be shown to the ministry.

      ICHR records show Joshi aske-d for the files
      wh-en there was a controversy about "Towards
      Freedom" project. Two years later in 2002, the
      project was back in news since a three-member
      panel was set up to look into the volumes edited
      by historians Sumit Sarkar and K N Panikkar.
      Joshi promised Parliament to come up with a white
      paper on the project.

      ICHR's general council entrusted the job of
      prep-aring the white paper to Devendra Swarup, an
      RSS functionary, Joshi's favo-urite and one-time
      history lecturer.



      Ahmedabad Newsline / Indian Express
      July 21, 2004



      Anand S T Das

      Ahmedabad, July 20: At the Naroda Police
      Station, in a corner of Senior Inspector V.S.
      Gohil's chamber is a mini temple. There are idols
      and pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses on a
      shelf. Garlands, flowers, and agarbattis indicate
      there is daily puja.

      Gohil readily admits as much. He says he's
      religious, of course, and is bewildered that
      anyone should question the elaborate ''puja
      sthal'' with fairy lights inside his chamber.

      ''Being a police officer does not mean that I
      cease to be a Hindu,'' he said. ''What's wrong
      with this?''

      The army recently initiated a drive to emphasise
      its secular character by asking staff on duty not
      to sport signs of their religion on their person
      or display them in offices and vehicles. And in
      most states, police stations are discouraged from
      displaying religious pictures or idols.

      But things are evidently different with police in
      Gujarat. The men are in khaki. If it weren't for
      their nameplates - many don't even have them -
      there's no way you'd know their religion. There
      should be no need, either. But chances are that
      as you step into any police station in Ahmedabad,
      you can't help feeling that the force is Hindu

      At the Vejalpur Police Station, two large, framed
      pictures of Goddess Durga and Lord Shiva on a
      wall. Beneath them is the table at which an
      assistant sub-inspector sits.

      And at the police chowki in Juhapura,
      Sub-Inspector G.P. Rathore's room has a wooden
      niche with a picture of Goddess Durga in it.

      If Naroda is the place where Muslims were burnt
      alive in the post-Godhra riots while the police
      allegedly stood watching, the Vejalpur-Juhapura
      area has a sizable Muslim population.

      But Director-General of Police A.K. Bhargava
      seemed sure of himself when he said that ''no
      Muslim visiting a police station to lodge a
      complain feels frightened because of these
      pictures and idols. They know that a policeman
      remains a policeman despite being a Hindu.''

      Like him, most inspectors in charge of police
      stations said there's nothing wrong with the
      practice. Some seemed proud of the fact. And some
      said there was nothing in the police manual to
      prevent it.

      ''All this doesn't reflect any pro-Hindu bias,''
      said Senior Inspector N.K. Desai of Khadia Police
      Station. ''We have the gods around because we
      seek their blessings for greater efficiency in
      our daily work as policemen. This is not to show
      we are Hindus.''

      Like Desai's police station, those at Satellite,
      Navrangpura, Kalupur, Khadia, Sola, Shardanagar,
      Meghaninagar, and other areas too bear
      unmistakable Hindu identities, with pictures or
      puja sthals where worship is regular. Even police
      vans have pictures of Hindu deites. The practice,
      say those who have been in the force for long,
      has always been there but has grown in the last
      few years. But police chief Bhargava said he
      wouldn't initiate any move to end it.

      ''There's no need to rake up an issue that has no
      significance,'' he said. ''Policemen who are
      Hindus have a right to worship their gods and
      goddesses. If they do it at the police station,
      what's wrong? A policeman cannot be disallowed
      from retaining his religion when he's on duty.
      This happens even in Parliament house and in the
      armed forces.''

      Reminded of the army's recent directive, he said:
      ''This is not the first time they're trying to do
      it. Have they been able to stop it?''

      But there are former police chiefs who think
      otherwise. Said S.N. Sinha, who retired as DGP in
      1996, ''This is an undesirable trend and should
      be strictly discouraged.''

      And C.P. Singh, who was DGP from 1999 to 2001,
      said, ''This trend was present in a subdued
      fashion for decades, but has grown recently,
      particularly in the last two years. The police
      force should be absolutely professional and
      secular - in looks and practice.''



      The Times of India, July 22, 2004
      Families of 'disappeared' persons seek justice

      AMRITSAR: Families of those who mysteriously
      disappeared during the days of militancy
      submitted affidavits about their relatives at a
      camp organised by the Khalra Mission Committee on

      Many such persons had been 'killed by the police
      in fake encounters and their bodies cremated,
      describing them as unidentified.' The National
      Human Rights Commission had issued a public
      notice that about 2,097 persons had allegedly
      been killed in encounters by the police. Their
      bodies were cremated in the crematoriums of
      Durgiana Temple, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Patti.
      Paramjit Kaur Khalra, committee chairperson and
      wife of Jaswant Singh, who 'disappeared' in 1995,
      said the affidavits would be submitted to the
      NHRC. Sukhdev Singh of Pakhoke village said that
      his younger brother Jaspal Singh, a journalist,
      "went missing' 10 years ago. He said he arrived
      at the camp after reading the NHRC advertisement.

      Gurbant Singh of Wadala Kalan said that his son
      was picked up by the police but never returned
      home. He said later they came to know that his
      body was cremated as unclaimed. He said he was
      too poor to plead the case.



      The newly-established Centre for Studies on
      Indian Muslims, at the Department of Islamic
      Studies, Hamdard University, New Delhi, invites
      you to a talk by Dr. Anna Bigelow on 'Shared
      Shrines and Inter-Communal Relations in
      Malerkotla, Punjab'.

      [Malerkotla is the only town in Indian Punjab
      where Muslims remain in sizeable numbers. Dr.
      Bigelow, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
      at the North Carolina State University, USA, has
      done her Ph.D. on Malerkotla, focussing
      particularly on relations between the town's
      Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Dalit communities]

      Date: 26 July, 2004 (Monday)
      Time: 2:45 pm
      Venue: Board Room, Near VC's Office,
      Administrative Building, Hamdard University,
      Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi (near Batra
      Hospital/Sangam Vihar/ Tughlaqabad)



      Ghaffar Khan: Non-Violent Badshah of the Pakhtuns
      A discussion around the book by Rajmohan Gandhi

      Venue: India International Centre Auditorium

      Date and Time: 24 July 2004 | 18:30

      Panelists: Sir Mark Tully OBE, veteran journalist
      and writer; Dr. Indivar Kamtekar, Centre for
      Historical Studies, JNU; Dr. Visalakshi Menon,
      Dept. of History, Jesus and Mary College; Dr.
      Anil Sethi, Dept. of History, Deshbandhu College;
      and Dr. Rajmohan Gandhi, author of the book


      Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
      matters of peace and democratisation in South
      Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
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      DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
      necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.

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