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SACW | 31 Oct 2004

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    South Asia Citizens Wire | 31 October, 2004 via: www.sacw.net [1] Sri Lanka: Remembering the Eviction and Recognizing the Rights of the Northern Muslims
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30 5:35 PM
      South Asia Citizens Wire | 31 October, 2004
      via: www.sacw.net

      [1] Sri Lanka: Remembering the Eviction and
      Recognizing the Rights of the Northern Muslims
      [2] Bangladesh: Ahmadiyya mosque in ruins - Meet
      the bigotry with full force of law (Edit, The
      Daily Star)
      [3] India: Anti Sikh Riots of 1984
      (i) Prosecute Killers of Sikhs - End Two Decades
      of Impunity (Human Rights Watch)
      (ii) 20 Years After 1984 (Sheela Barse)
      (iii) Trauma revisited (Harish Khare)
      [4] India: A Case for Sustainable Rhetoric - The Tower of Gabble (P. Sainath)
      [5] Upcoming events :
      (i) Larzish: 2nd Int. film festival on Sexuality
      and Gender Prularity (Bombay, November 4-7, 2004)
      (ii) The Second Annual Promise of India Conference (Bombay, Jan 10, 2004)
      (iii) Understanding Cinema - A Film Appreciation
      Course (New Delhi, November 2-14, 2004)



      Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF)
      30 October 2004
      For Immediate Release


      On the 30th of October 1990, fourteen years ago to this day the forced
      eviction of the Northern Muslims tore apart the social fabric of Northern
      Sri Lanka, and brought grief and trauma to tens of thousands of Muslim
      families. As we remember that day, we voice our sorrow and outrage that
      fourteen years after that cruel act of ethnic cleansing, and two and a
      half years into the signing the Ceasefire Agreement, the Northern Muslims
      have still not been able to return home, have not featured significantly
      in the peace process and have not had their political rights substantively
      affirmed by any of the major actors.

      The Ethnic Cleansing of Northern Muslims by the LTTE

      In 1990, the LTTE expelled all Muslims from the five districts (Vavuniya,
      Mannar, Mullaithivu, Kilinochchi & Jaffna) of the Northern Province.
      Muslims represented about 7 percent of Sri Lanka’s total population, and
      had historically been concentrated in Northern Sri Lanka, Eastern Sri
      Lanka, and in the cities of Colombo, Kandy and Puttalam. In the Northern
      Province, substantial concentrations of Muslims resided in the Jaffna,
      Kilinochchi and Mannar districts.

      On that terrible day 75,000-80,000 Muslims were given just 24-48 hours to
      leave the Northern Province (some residents in Jaffna Town were forced out
      in only two hours), or meet the fate of Muslims in the Eastern Province
      who had been massacred in the hundreds in August and September of that
      year. They were stripped of their belongings and houses and permitted to
      take only Rupees 500 with them. The plundering of the possessions from
      their homes followed soon after their enforced departure. The physical,
      economic, social and psychological suffering to which the entire Northern
      Muslim population was subjected was immeasurable and continues to this
      day. Since then the majority of Northern Muslims have been living in a
      variety of refugee settlements in the Puttalam district.

      This collective uprooting of tens of thousand of families was a cruel and
      calculated act directed against a group of people based purely on the fact
      that they were Muslims, from areas where Tamils and Muslims had lived
      together for centuries. It was also an act done without any popular
      support. Ordinary Tamil people were outraged and revolted, but they
      remained silent out of fear of LTTE retribution. The enforced evacuation
      of defenceless Muslim families was systematically carried out by LTTE
      cadres who went about in vehicles fitted with loud-hailers, ordering them
      to leave or face retribution. In the Jaffna town, Muslim males were
      ordered to gather at the grounds of the Mosque and told they and their
      families should ‘leave the boundaries of Eelam’ within 24 hours. The
      movement of LTTE cadres from one local area to another, the way in which
      roads were blocked off to herd people through certain routes, and the
      systematic way in which people’s possessions were expropriated, sorted,
      and sold or distributed among the LTTE’s chosen followers, revealed that
      this was a premeditated and well-planned operation, executed with menacing
      military precision and ruthlessness.

      The LTTE has never given an official reason for carrying out this enforced
      evacuation, leading us to conclude that it was purely an exercise in
      ethnic cleansing, driven by the bigotry of exclusivist Tamil nationalist

      After the Eviction, the Northern Muslims have attempted to rebuild their
      lives, mainly in Puttalam. Even though they arrived with nothing, they
      have struggled to give their children education, they sought employment
      under hard conditions to support their families, and they have rebuilt
      mosques, new village settlements and maintained their sense of dignity.
      Even as a new generation has been born in exile that has no memory of
      their parents’ homes or their relationship with the Tamil community,
      Northern Muslims have reached out to the Tamil community in their former
      homes. Their efforts to maintain relationships when possible with their
      former neighbours testify to their eagerness to rebuild Muslim Tamil

      Duty of the Tamils

      The Tamil people have a responsibility to help and facilitate the return
      of the Northern Muslims to their homes. Civil society organizations
      including churches, schools, associations (fisher and agricultural and
      trader unions) among others must take the initiative in inviting Northern
      Muslims to visit their homes and engage in dialogue with a view to helping
      them to rebuild their lives there. Tamil people in the Diaspora, many of
      whom left the country due to violations of their own rights, must even
      belatedly recognise the predicament of the Northern Muslims, and champion
      their case for the restoration of their shattered lives. This includes
      their right to return to their own homes in the North, and their
      entitlement to substantial reparations for their inhuman and unlawful
      eviction, for the material losses they suffered in the process, and for
      the continuing suffering to which they have been subjected to all these

      This outrage against the Muslim people, which was carried out by the LTTE
      in the name of Tamils will continue to remain one of the darkest episodes
      in the annals of our history. The Tamil people must call upon the LTTE
      and its leader Velupillai Pirpaharan in particular to make an unqualified
      public apology for the crime they have committed against the Muslim

      The Muslim people, just as much as their Tamil compatriots, are entitled
      to representation that ensures that their legitimate and reasonable
      aspirations are satisfied, and their interests protected. Hence, the
      Tamil people must reject as deplorable any attempt by the LTTE to prevent
      separate representation for the Muslim community at peace talks aimed at
      finding a political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

      The LTTE

      Just as majoritarian Sinhala nationalists sought to deny the legitimate
      rights of the Tamil people based on the spurious claim that Sri Lanka was
      the ‘homeland of Sinhala-Buddhists only’, the LTTE seeks to deny the
      legitimate rights of the Muslims based on the claim that the North and
      East is the ‘homeland of the Tamils only’. The LTTE must recognize that
      the North and East is the homeland of all people who have made it their

      To this day, Vellupillai Pirapaharan has offered no apology or any
      guarantee that if the evicted Muslims were to return to their homes en
      masse they would not be evicted again. Muslims who have attempted to
      return to the North have been discouraged from doing so. Some who have
      taken the risk and returned to restart their business ventures have been
      taxed heavily and their freedom to operate has been severely curtailed.
      In some instances, these businesses have been taken over by the LTTE.

      It is the height of hypocrisy on the part of the LTTE to demand that the
      displaced Tamils from the High Security Zones should be allowed to return
      to their homes, when they will not permit the return of Muslims they
      themselves forcibly evicted some 14 years ago.

      It is high time that the LTTE acknowledged its responsibility, making a
      public apology for the crimes it has committed against the Muslim people
      and subjecting itself to a process by which reparations could be
      considered. It also should give a public guarantee that if and when the
      evicted Muslim people return to their homes, they would be allowed the
      right and freedom to occupy them without any fear of threats, harassment
      or violence in the future.

      Government of Sri Lanka

      The Government of Sri Lanka must offer the Northern Muslims who wish to
      return resources to enable them and their children born in exile to
      resettle in the North. It must ensure protection against further
      expulsions and provide constitutional guarantees for the political,
      economic and cultural rights of the Muslim community. The Northern Muslim
      question must be considered a significant part of the GOSL’s negotiation
      of any interim arrangement or permanent political solution.

      The SLDF supports the call by the Muslim Peoples Action Front (Muslim
      Makkal Seyalani) for the appointment of a Special Presidential Commission
      with terms of reference to investigate the forcible eviction of the
      Northern Muslims and consider and assess all forms of damage that they
      have suffered during the intervening years and make appropriate
      recommendations including for the award of adequate compensation for the

      The Peace Talks

      The Northern Muslims came up in the peace talks only as a humanitarian
      issue relating to the resettlement of internally displaced people. It was
      formally part of the mandate given to SIHRN (Sub Committee on Immediate
      Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs). SIHRN was confirmed in the fourth
      round of Peace talks to be the primary decision making body dealing with
      humanitarian and rehabilitation needs in the North and East. Subsequently,
      SIHRN virtually ceased functioning when the LTTE withdrew from the peace
      talks in April 2003. As a result even the Northern Muslims’ humanitarian
      needs have been neglected, much less their political right to return.
      Because the major actors in the peace process have failed to support the
      Northern Muslims’ political right to return home, Northern Muslims are
      placed in the position of having to individually negotiate their return
      home with local LTTE cadres. However, we note that in the fourth round of
      talks that ‘the parties agreed that a Muslim delegation will be invited to
      the peace talks at an appropriate time for deliberations on relevant
      substantive political issues’. SLDF demands a Muslim delegation including
      Northern Muslim representatives should be invited to any further peace
      talks. We demand that the substantive political rights of Northern
      Muslims to return to their homes and live without fear should be affirmed
      and incorporated into any peace process that aims for a just peace in Sri

      International Community

      The International community has been playing a critical role in the Sri
      Lankan Peace Process. However, it has not engaged sufficiently with
      Northern Muslims on issues relating to their right to return, their right
      to be represented at the peace talks and their participation in
      rehabilitation and reconstruction.

      The Norwegian Facilitators should ensure a Muslim delegation at the peace
      talks. This Muslim delegation should comprise representatives from the
      Northern Muslims. The SLMM should investigate and report ongoing
      violations against Northern Muslims attempting to return with the
      commitment to ending such atrocities.

      The Sri Lanka Donor Co-chairs on 1 June 2004 noted ‘that a peace
      settlement can only be sustained if it respects the legitimate rights and
      involvement of all ethnic groups… The Co-chairs encouraged the parties to
      agree on the modalities to invite a Muslim delegation to the peace talks
      at an appropriate time for the deliberation on relevant substantive
      political issues’. SLDF demands that any donor assistance to the peace
      process must be conditional on addressing the political concerns of the
      Northern Muslims. Funds being dispersed to the North and East for
      reconstruction must be accessible by all minorities and particularly the
      Northern Muslims.

      Towards a just peace

      SLDF demands that the Northern Muslims be integrated into any negotiations
      for peace and a permanent political solution. It appears that Northern
      Muslims’ political, economic and cultural rights have not been recognized
      as important enough to derail the peace process, and thus have been
      neglected. We say that it is precisely the political status of
      marginalised communities such as the Northern Muslims and their right to
      live in their homes free from harassment, extortion and eviction that the
      peace process if it is to committed to meaningful peace should address.
      SLDF calls on all of Sri Lanka’s citizens, Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese
      to work towards the rights of and justice for the Northern Muslims.

      Sri Lanka Democracy Forum



      The Daily Star - October 31, 2004


      Ahmadiyya mosque in ruins
      Meet the bigotry with full force of law

      The attack on an Ahmadiyya mosque in Brahmanbaria
      just minutes before the call to Juma prayer on
      Friday during the holy month of Ramadan must be
      considered the height of ungodliness. The fact
      that the perpetrators could defile both
      themselves and the month of Ramadan by committing
      such a shameful act at such a time shows that
      they have little respect for the religion under
      whose banner they claim to be acting.

      It has been reported that the attack consisted of
      hundreds of machete, axe, stick, and
      club-wielding fanatics storming the mosque,
      beating worshippers, and destroying the
      tin-roofed and bamboo-walled mosque. The
      hate-filled mob of around 1,000 then went on a
      rampage, vandalising and robbing Ahmadiyya
      houses, and injuring a dozen people, including

      There are no words to describe our outrage at
      this act of predatory religious intolerance. The
      constitution and simple human decency mandate
      that people be secure in their right to worship.

      This has gone too far. Anti-Ahmadiyya bigots have
      been active for the last twelve months, but this
      is the first time they have actually destroyed an
      Ahmadiyya mosque.

      The government must not remain a mute spectator
      any more; it has a duty to protect the Ahmadiyya
      community. It must do everything in its power to
      prevent persecution taking place against them in
      any shape or form.

      The government claimed that the ban on Ahmadiyya
      publications would help diminish anti-Ahmadiyya
      sentiments, but it is clear that this has
      emboldened the bigots and made the position of
      the Ahmadiyyas even more insecure.

      Repealing the ban on their publications would be
      a good start, as would bringing to justice the
      perpetrators of Friday's attack. The government
      must make clear that violence against Ahmadiyyas
      will be countered with the full force of the law.
      Nothing less is good enough.


      [3] [Anti Sikh Riots of 1984]


      Human Rights Watch - Press Release

      End Two Decades of Impunity

      (New York, November 30, 2004) – On the twentieth anniversary of the
      mass killings of Sikhs, the new Congress-led government should launch
      fresh investigations into and make a public commitment to prosecute the
      planners and implementers of the violence, Human Rights Watch said

      In 1984, in retaliation for the assassination of Prime Minister Indira
      Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, angry mobs, some
      allegedly organized by members of the Congress party, attacked and killed
      thousands of Sikhs. From November 1 to November 4, gangs attacked the
      symbols and structures of the Sikh faith, the properties of Sikhs, and killed
      whole families by burning them alive. The residences and properties of
      Sikhs were identified through government-issued voter lists.

      Victim groups, lawyers and activists have long alleged state complicity in
      the violence. For three days the police failed to act, as gangs carrying
      weapons and kerosene roamed the streets, exhorting non-Sikhs to kill
      Sikhs and loot and burn their properties.

      “Seven government-appointed commissions have investigated these
      attacks,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. But the
      commissions were all either whitewashes or they were met with official
      stonewalling and obstruction.”

      The report of the latest commission, the Nanavati Commission, was due
      November 1, but has been delayed for another two months.
      “The time for commissions that do not lead to prosecutions is over,” said
      Adams. “After two decades, the prosecutors and police should act. There
      is more than enough evidence to do so now.”

      Human Rights Watch called for an end to political protection for
      organizers of the violence. Some of those allegedly involved in the
      pogrom currently occupy posts in the government or are members of
      parliament. Both the judiciary and administrative inquiry commissions
      have failed to hold these perpetrators accountable.

      “For two decades high-ranking members of the Congress party have
      enjoyed political impunity for this violence,” said Adams. “The fact that
      many of the alleged planners of the violence were and are members of the
      Congress party should not be a barrier to justice for the victims.”
      Human Rights Watch commended ENSAAF (www.ensaaf.org), an
      organization dedicated to fighting impunity in India, for its 150-page
      report, Twenty Years of Impunity, analyzing the patterns of the pogroms
      and the attitudes and practices of impunity revealed by previously
      unpublished government documents and other materials.

      “With many connected to the violence now enjoying prominent positions
      in public life, the ENSAAF report makes it clear that India continues to
      ignore this dark chapter of its modern history at its own risk,” said Adams.
      “Only a conscious exercise of political will on the part of the new
      government of Prime Minister Singh can bring about justice for the

      o o o o


      Indian Express, October 29, 2004

      20 YEARS AFTER 1984
      By Sheela Barse

      The little boy with spiky hair who could not speak

      The 20th anniversary of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 is approaching.

      The highest riot death toll since Partition, not
      a single conviction, 1984 remains India's
      forgotten genocide

      Thirty-six hours after more than 300 Sikhs in
      that basti had been lynched, burnt and flung down
      from upper floors in the presence of their
      families, pushing back the women and children who
      rushed to embrace the targeted men, Delhi police
      had found one bus to bring out the terrorised
      survivors from their looted homes with just their
      clothes on, to the police grounds.

      A 12-year-old boy sat alone apart from his kin,
      on a large stone, brooding, head held firm on a
      straight spine. The knot of his kesh had been
      lopped off but the remaining hair, glued spiny
      stiff and erect in a bunch, proclaimed his
      continuing identity. ''He has not spoken a word
      since he saw his father and uncle being burnt to
      death and flung down from first floor,'' a
      relative informs.

      A desultory conversation begins. A middle-aged
      sardarni, still dreaming of the gory killing of
      her husband, softly asks, ''Is it possible to
      rescue my brother-in-law? He is all burnt but
      there is still some breath in him. He is sitting
      in a chair for the last 40 hours.'' The woman
      withdraws into herself.

      I ask for a guide to locate the house. A
      polio-affected youth moves closer. ''I will. The
      police left behind my wife. Her thigh and
      shoulder were scorched as she threw herself on my
      eldest brother when they set him on fire live.
      She is mute and young, childlike really...''

      An athletic sardar, kesh cut, clean-shaven,
      accompanies me. Few hours ago, like many Sikhs in
      that colony, he had paid several hundred rupees
      to a barber to raze an integral part of his
      being. Since October 31, 'kesh' marked not a
      glorious inheritance but a victim to be torched

      With the doctor's team and first-aid, we enter
      the colony and pause by a wounded elderly man
      lying on a cot. He would need an ambulance. We do
      not have one. ''Now you come,'' screams a woman.
      ''After bodies have been thrown in the nullahs.''
      A Sikh grabs my arm, ''Curfew laga dijiye." Our
      guide sprints into a lane. Mounds of junk placed
      across the road every few yards, the lynchers'
      barricades to prevent victims escaping in their
      taxis. The young doctors trail. The guide breaks
      into a run and leaps over front steps of a house.
      ''Anyone there?'' I call out a few times, then
      step in.

      The house had been looted clean, no furniture, no
      utensils, no clothes. ''There is no one inside, I
      checked thoroughly,'' he says. Depressed, we
      stand still in the stark living room. A mob of
      200 men and women has arched around the house
      while we are inside. They watch us silently.
      ''What have you done with him?'' I yell. ''Didn't
      burning him satisfy you? His bhabhi told me that
      Dilbara Singh is sitting in a chair. Where have
      you hidden him?''

      ''Oh Dilbara Singh!'' a man steps up saucily.
      ''Come here. This pile of ashes, that's him. His
      wife broke up the chair and gave him a live
      funeral, with flowers and everything.'' he grins

      The chowk is now blocked by a mob of 150. The
      news of a rescue team has travelled. I notice
      brass knuckles on a fist and cycle chain in a
      hand and discover that our guide is
      missing.''Where is the man who came with us?,'' I
      yell.''He was with us 2 minutes ago. What have
      you done with him?''

      An armed sub-inspector comes running. ''He is
      safe. He was recognised. He ran for his life. He
      asked me to inform you.'' The officer was the
      sole policeman on duty for 48 hours.

      The sun begins to set. Someone hails us. An
      elderly thick-set sardar in a wheelchair pushed
      by two youngsters. ''Take me out please,'' the
      sardar pleads. We walk away but a few steps
      later, I abruptly halt. The disabled Sikh is not
      safe, he's in danger. We turn and stride to the
      disabled man. ''Come,'' we say. But the three
      young men have their hands firm on his
      wheelchair. ''We'll take him. We are with Nandita
      Haksar.'' I believe them only after sighting
      Nandita 300 meters away.

      That evening I hitch a ride in a press car.
      ''Fifty-nine Hindus killed, some pulled in
      gurdwaras.'' they tell me. ''But we are not
      printing that.''.

      Police Commissioner Tandon refuses to see the
      press. PRO Panwar sniggers, ''Hundreds killed in
      one basti? How is it possible to burn people
      alive? We have not received any complaints.''

      Reporters decide to gatecrash Tandon's office.
      ''Please order shoot at sight." He steps back
      into the unlit shield of his chamber. His
      subordinates and guards block the door.

      Next day, I visit the morgue. A corpse wrapped in
      a bloodstained brilliant white sheet is laid
      outside the walled compound, in front of the
      gate. Not a soul around. I ask a policeman if I
      can pay for a few decent funerals.

      In the compound, to my left, is an open shed with
      hundreds of bloated corpses stacked 6-7 deep like
      logs. In front of me, scores of rotting bodies
      heaped in a truck. Nearby a dump of swollen,
      decaying remains of men. Disconnected tufts of
      hair strewn around. The policeman returns, asks
      me to come over. I take a few steps over the
      bunches of kesh littering the compound and blown
      around my feet.

      Outside, I stand for a while with an anonymous, unaccompanied body.

      o o o o


      Magazine | The Hindu - Oct 31, 2004



      The anti-Sikh riots in 1984 shattered a
      collective illusion. Till then we had believed in
      the notion of an all-powerful State, a
      super-efficient bureaucracy, and a professional
      police force. In the end, it has taken a toll on
      our capacity to sort out differences and
      disputes, reflects HARISH KHARE.


      Collective loss as establishments, places of
      worship, localities and houses were the targets
      of mobs.

      OCTOBER 31, 1984. No.1, Safdurjung Road. The
      early hours of the morning. Indira Gandhi is shot
      dead in her own house. The Prime Minister of
      India is assassinated. The killers are two
      security guards, both Sikhs, trained and trusted
      to protect her. But the killers' loyalty and
      professional conscience is suborned by those who
      traffic in un-religious ideas in the name of

      She had committed a sacrilege, according to them.
      Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister, was to be
      punished for daring to offend the Sikhs' most
      sacred religious symbol, the Golden Temple in
      Amritsar when she sent in troops to flush out the
      Khalistani-secessionist, "Sant" Bhindranwale who
      had converted the gurudwara into a terrorists'
      base camp and was out to declare "independence"
      from the holy sanctum sanctorum. Indira Gandhi
      had to die for "Operation Bluestar". She was made
      to pay the price for performing her duty to
      defend the country's integrity and unity.

      The flashpoint

      Indira Gandhi died on the spot. Even before a
      stunned nation could recover its breath, there
      were sporadic reports of a few Sikhs breaking out
      in celebrations. The collective nerves,
      dangerously strained over the last few years on
      account of Khalistani terror activities, were
      itching to find an outlet.

      By evening, anti-Sikh violence broke out. For the
      next 72 hours, the capital was a possessed city.
      Blood-thirsty. Ugly. Violent. Unreasonable and
      unyielding in this unreasonableness. The Sikhs'
      establishments, places of worship, localities and
      houses were targeted by mobs. The violence did
      not begin to abate till the new prime minister,
      Rajiv Gandhi ordered the sacking of the Lt.
      Governor of Delhi, P.S. Gavai on the night of
      November 3. The Union Home Secretary, Madan Mohan
      Kishan Wali, was made the new Lt. Governor. The
      Army had to be called in to restore order as the
      Delhi Police was a disgrace with its
      incompetence, cowardice and complicity in the

      At last the madness subsided. The ritual of
      revenge was over. And the city began to
      comprehend - to its shame - the extent of its
      madness. Over 2,000 Sikh men, women and children
      had been killed. Mangolpuri, Trilokpuri,
      Sultanpuri, Shakarpur, Janakpuri - the localities
      of gruesome butchery - became names that continue
      to trouble the city's collective conscience.

      The mob violence against innocent Sikhs created
      its own set of consequences. Bhindranwale was
      dead but he had now the satisfaction of creating
      enmity between the Sikhs and the rest of India, a
      schism cynically exploited by foreign powers. The
      Khalistan movement, with its various self-styled
      commanders - almost all of them financed by
      foreign money and agencies - continued to spill
      blood for a decade after Indira Gandhi's

      Looking back

      Now, two decades later, how do we look at that
      fateful morning of October 31, 1984? We have not
      come to terms with a defining moment in our
      post-Independence history.

      As a society, India is not stranger to bloodshed
      on a mass scale. Before and after Independence
      there had been instances of communal violence.
      Yet 1984 was the first case of collective frenzy
      of a kind that the nation had never witnessed
      before. A murderous assault on the Prime
      Minister, symbol of the Indian State, became the
      provocation for the dormant ugliness to break out
      in bloody glory. This was the first time that a
      section of society unconsciously elevated itself
      as a partisan of the State and felt it had the
      licence to punish those who sought to challenge
      the Indian State.

      Shattering the myths

      The violence and its extent took us by surprise.
      The anti-Sikh riots shattered a collective
      illusion. Till then we had believed in the notion
      of an all-powerful State, a super-efficient
      bureaucracy, and a professional police force;
      these assumptions were unconsciously reinforced
      by the post-Independence political leadership
      that promised to cure us of our each and every
      ailment. Indira Gandhi in particular had sought
      to elevate herself to the status of an
      omnipresent and omnipotent ruler. Her earlier
      experiment with "Internal emergency" was
      precisely - for her as well as the public - an
      essay in unlimited and unrestricted powers of the
      Union government. She had come back to power on
      the slogan of providing the country a "government
      that works".

      These pretensions came to haunt her as the
      government could not cope with the challenge
      posed by Bhindranwale. So dominant was her image
      of a superb politician that she was suspected of
      playing footsie with the extremist Bhindranwale
      in a cunning stratagem to outplay the Akalis, who
      had declared a dharmayudha. No one wanted to
      believe that the Bhindranwale issue was stoked by
      unfriendly foreign powers; Pakistan's complicity
      was obvious, but not too obvious was the
      traditional meddling by Western powers.


      Demanding justice in Delhi.

      Indira Gandhi's assassination by her own security
      guards not only mocked her pretensions of an
      omnipotent ruler. It also constituted the
      ultimate breakdown of the Indian State and its
      presumed pervasiveness; yet most Indians clung to
      the notion that even in that grave hour, the
      "system" should have "performed" and that the
      "law and order" machinery should have
      automatically displayed its professional nerves
      of steel. We refused to come to terms with the
      fact that the "law and order" machinery could
      have its limits. Instead, we preferred to believe
      that somehow the political leadership of the day
      was cold-blooded enough to allow the violence to
      go on for days. We chose to believe that our
      rulers - politicians and bureaucrats - had
      available to them infinite wisdom, flawless and
      complete information, as well as the tools and
      instruments of control, and all that was needed
      was for them to indicate that they wanted the
      situation to be controlled.

      In particular, we assumed that if the
      "leadership" wanted to bring out the Army it
      could have done so within a few hours; no one
      wanted to know - or concede even now - that since
      Independence, the civilian leadership had seen to
      it that only a very token Army presence was
      maintained in the capital. The civilian-army
      relationship had come under strain only a couple
      of years earlier during the Asian Games when Army
      columns had moved into the capital much over the
      sanctioned strength. At the best of times, the
      civilian establishment was systematically
      allergic to the idea "calling in the army".

      The violence shattered another myth. We thought
      we were a civilised society; schooled in
      Nehruvian decency and softened by our religious
      pieties; especially the Hindu collective mind-set
      that sees the community as genetically incapable
      of inflicting violence. But here we were
      demonstrating ourselves as being prepared,
      mentally and emotionally, to indulge in mass
      scale butchery and brutality and be blood-thirsty.

      It was as if we had been transported back to the
      medieval ages; Hindu men, women and children came
      out to see gurudwaras go up in flames as a matter
      of public spectacle. Till then we had never cared
      to take note of the creeping element of
      lumpenisation and insensitivity that had blunted
      our collective thinking.

      We were traumatised as a society; we coped with
      these two great disillusions by going into
      denial. We blamed insistently that Congress
      leaders had instigated and sustained anti-Sikh
      frenzy. This view had since congealed into an
      irrefutable mythology. Goon-like Congress leaders
      made the perfect fall guys. Our collective
      indignation, anger, shame, resentment,
      embarrassment over the mass outbreak of violence
      got neatly packaged into a politically correct
      riots" attitude. Civil liberty groups rushed in
      with hasty indictments to confirm the first
      judgment. The young prime minister and his
      sophomoric advisers added insult to injury with
      their arrogant "you-asked-for-it, man"
      body-language. The Congress party's massive
      victory in the Lok Sabha two months later only
      added to the myth of culpability.

      The terrible fallout

      The catechism of guilt and blame fuelled Sikh
      anger and sustained the Khalistani movement for
      nearly a decade. It also deflected attention away
      from the root cause of the Punjab problem: the
      Akali Dal's unstated, but openly practised,
      demand for monopolistic political supremacy in
      Punjab because it claims (a la the Hurriyat
      leadership in Kashmir) to be sole custodian of
      the best interests of the Sikh community. Every
      time this undemocratic demand gets checkmated by
      other political parties through democratic means,
      the Akalis reserve the right to revert back to
      quasi-secessionist sentiment. The Akalis remain
      uncured of this claim, despite their decade long
      political association with the Bharatiya Janata
      Party (BJP), a party of self-proclaimed


      A victim after Delhi went up in flames.

      The violence of 1984 and the majority's community
      capacity for hatred and antagonism were
      eye-openers for the Hindu right wing in the
      country. The Hindutva brigade realised that the
      Hindu was not a coward and that the Hindu
      "masses" were ready for a "renaissance" ;
      unapologetically the Hindutva mob decided to feed
      the Hindus' collective itch for settling a few
      scores. The BJP has not looked back since then.

      "1984" was a moment of crisis for the Indian
      State, which precipitated a crisis of liberal
      India and deepened the Hindu community's sense of
      dis-empowerment. It took a toll on our capacity
      to sort out differences and disputes, and we
      continue to pay a price in Jammu and Kashmir as
      well as in the North-East. October 31 led to
      December 6, 1992, and Gujarat 2002.

      We have not yet dared to draw the requisite
      conclusions. Sometimes it seems Indira Gandhi
      died in vain.



      Weekend Edition
      October 30 / 31, 2004


      by P. Sainath

      I have reflected in recent times on all the
      useful words that Development has taught me. It
      seems to me this is something Civil Society needs
      to ponder, right from the Grassroots to Emerging
      Leaders. At some point, a Knowledge-Based Society
      needs to learn something. What, I do not know,
      but hopefully something that demarcates us from
      all those ignorance-based societies of these past
      millennia. Perhaps we need to have a Consultation
      of NGOs, Action Groups, CSOs and all other
      Stakeholders to work out the Best Practices in
      this regard..

      These groups could then work towards a Summit
      bringing together the best talent from amongst
      whom we create a Task Force which will then seek
      to Empower the Target Groups in each sector. The
      Summit itself will work out an overall
      Declaration to be translated into concrete Action
      Plans by Focus Groups. The Exploratory Sessions
      will be based on Interactive Communication (and
      Gender Equity).

      Since by this time we might be running low on
      Sustainable Resources, we could initiate a number
      of Private-Public Partnerships to ensure that
      some share of the moolah goes to at least a few
      Beneficiaries. (The Livelihood Issues of the
      leaders of Non-Profits, for instance, are not
      unimportant.) These Micro-Credit Strategies could
      further be supplemented through Budgetary
      Allocations by other Facilitators (sometimes
      called governments). They could be roped in via a
      Plenary Session on Good Governance,
      Accountability and the importance of Networking.

      Given the need to create an Alternative Dialogue
      with an Innovative Conceptual Framework, we could
      enlist the Traditional Knowledge of Development
      Consultants who would call Workshops to decide on
      how to Mainstream Development Issues in the
      Media. We must, after all, examine Paradigm
      Shifts in the Development Debate while
      strengthening Conscientization, Advocacy Outreach
      and Institution-Building.

      We propose a Preparatory Meeting (at an
      Eco-Friendly locale) which can formulate a
      Mission Statement on how best to further the
      goals of Human Development and Natural Resource
      Management towards building a better Common
      Future. Realization of our Millennium Goals would
      undoubtedly require serious Capacity Building
      Ideas on how to ensure Food Security for the
      participants in the Pre-Summit Brainstorming are
      welcome. Undoubtedly, in this era of the
      Information Society, the first session will be on
      ICTs and Poverty Alleviation.

      There will be, of course, a Focus Session on
      Resource Mobilization (Self-Help Groups are asked
      to show a little restraint at this point).
      Deliberations resume after a quick Participatory
      Research Lunch. Germane to the Fund-Raising focus
      will be the Study of Issue-Based development of
      Institutional Linkages to the right Donors. The
      whole area throws up several Challenges /
      Opportunities that call for Strategic Planning
      aimed at ensuring Control/Access over Resources.

      The next session looks at Integrated Strategies
      that adopt a Holistic Approach in ensuring Local
      Participation and Community Control. Case studies
      of Successful Interventions amongst Marginalised
      Communities will be presented (by Subaltern
      Voices from the grassroots). A Core Group will do
      Environmental Impact Assessments of the radical
      new rhetoric. Our Documentation & Research Centre
      will preserve all relevant material in
      Gender-Sensitive Databases. (All irrelevant
      material goes into the Final Report of the

      Editors' note: Okay CounterPunchers, this is a
      breach of what we term the Ron Jacobs Rule, in
      memory of a satire by this same Jacobs which too
      many CounterPunchers took to be literally true.
      We swore we'd never publish another satire. But
      exceptions are there to prove (meaning test or
      assay) the rule. This is a parody, a very deft
      parody of a dialect, called NGO-Speak. We'll
      leave it to Noam Chomsky to decide how deeply
      this hideous argot is embedded in Man's (and
      Wo-Man's) neural circuitry, but it's now become
      the lingua franca of all grant applicants,
      conference planners and permanent itinerants to
      those Forums of Uplift inhabited by all who
      believe that the world's problems can be solved
      by nice people inspired by a trip to Porto
      Allegre and a (sustainable) grant from some major

      We are very happy to have the author of this
      genial parody on our site, where we will be
      featuring his work from time to time. P. Sainath
      is a marvelous Indian journalist we' know and
      have long admired. His great achievement has been
      to disclose to respectable India the full extent
      and horrible realities of poverty there, not
      least in the thousands of suicides of small
      farmers driven to self destruction by neo-liberal

      After glittering years on Blitz and the Times of
      India Sainath quit the padded chair of editorial
      omniscience and started reporting on the
      situation of extremely poor people across India,
      spending most of his time in the remoter
      countryside, hitherto largely disdained by the
      Indian press. His collection Everybody Loves a
      Good Drought was a deserving best seller. Sainath
      has had a powerful impact, not only on Indian
      journalism, where there have been some efforts to
      follow his pioneering work, but on the lives of
      the people he writes about since he has provoked
      some political reaction to the terrible abuses
      and corruptions he exposed. These days Sainath is
      the rural affairs editor of The Hindu. AC/JSC


      [5] [UPCOMING EVENTS ]


      Larzish welcomes you back in its second year!

      This year we bring to you, new and diverse
      programs. Expect to catch about 90 films spread
      over four days from Argentina, Brazil, Croatia,
      Canada, Columbia, France, Hong Kong, India,
      Israel, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Spain, Sweden,
      Thailand, USA, UK, Uruguay and Uganda.

      Festival highlights include:

      The festival brings the first ever retrospective
      of Pratibha Parmar to India. She is an award
      winning independent director and producer. Her
      films have exhibited widely at international film
      festivals and broadcast on television in many
      countries. (Kindly refer to the festival
      catalogue for timings)

      A talk by Parul Dave Mukerjee - 4th November, 15:00 - 16:00hrs
      Themes of homosexuality have either been
      anathema, viewed as transgressions to be
      contained or reductive modes of organizing Bhupen
      Khakhar's entire oeuvre by institutions of art.
      Art historian Parul Dave argues that the
      radicalism of his work lies elsewhere and that
      homosexuality emerges as one among several
      positions of marginality.

      DISCUSSION, 6th November, 17:00 - 19:00Hrs
      Panelists: Anupama Rao, Mary John, Rinchin and Rohini Hensman
      It is apparent that the institution of the
      'natural family', as decreed through marriage,
      has remained a dominant organising principle. In
      what ways has feminism, dalit, queer or left
      politics attempted to transgress the familiar
      boundaries of family? The panel will address
      these issues and look at more fluid forms of
      family and community.

      APPEARANCES & IDENTITY, A PANEL DISCUSSION, 7th November, 15:00 - 17:00hrs
      Panelists: Kajol, Maya Sharma and Shohini Ghosh
      The panelists will make linkages between gender
      and sexuality within a bi-gendered society. What
      happens when people's appearances seem to create
      fissures in the binary of 'male' and 'female'?
      What identity does one carry, and how is that
      perceived in the reading of our gender?

      Venue: 4th-7th November, 2004, Rama Watumull
      Auditorium, KC College, Dinshaw Wachha Road,
      Churchgate, Bombay-20

      Please check the web-site for further
      details: <http://www.larzish.org>http://www.larzish.org

      For invitation passes to the festival, please
      contact: 23439651 or 23436692 or write to


      A Unique Opportunity for NRIs/PIOs and Mumbaikars
      to Participate in a Public Debate on the Two
      Critical Issues That Dominated the Recent
      Historic Elections in India.


      The Second Annual
      Promise of India Conference
      Mumbai, India

      Making Peace With Diversity and Development
      Monday, January 10, 2005, 9 AM to 4 PM
      At Patkar Hall, SNDT University, Churchgate
      (Following the Third Pravasi Bharatiya Divas)
      [Free Admission, by Prior Registration only]

      A Debate with Expert Panelists and Audience Participation:

      Panel 1: GDP Growth or Livelihoods?

      Globalization with a Human Face: Rhetoric or Reality?
      Rural Development: The Bumpy Road from Budgets to Panchayats
      The Bottom of the Pyramid: Communities in
      Distress or Markets for Fair & Lovely?

      Panel 2: Secularism: Elusive Ideal or Ground Reality?
      Past Wrongs, Future Rights: What Agitates the Fence Sitters?
      Re-Re-Writing History: Quick Fix or Opportunity to De-Politicize Education?
      Curbing Hate Speech: More Laws and Censorship, or Public Education and Action?

      Also Introducing:
      Grassroots Workers from Gujarat Working for Justice and Communal Harmony
      Joint NRI/NRP Peace Delegation to Pakistan and India

      Please log on to
      to pre-register today (seats are limited).
      List of Panelists will be finalized soon and will be posted on the website.

      o o o o



      A Film Appreciation Course

      Habitat Film Club [New Delhi]

      2nd to 14th November, 2004

      The Film Appreciation Course is an introductory
      series of lectures/discussions on Understanding
      Cinema. Moving images on the screen - how do we
      look at the images projected on the white surface
      before us. And more importantly, how do the
      images look at us, engaging us, enticing us,
      speaking to us with a language that can cut
      across or create borders and boundaries? What is
      the spell its narratives cast on us when the
      lights go down? What cultural forms and political
      intents do they draw sustenance from? And what
      fantasies/emotions/ideas do they give play to,
      and form for us? These are some of the questions
      that the Course will address.

      The course has been designed to
      initiate students into viewing film texts
      critically. The participants will be introduced
      to the basic concepts of film language and film
      form and to some of the major movements and
      masters of world cinema. Indian cinema - the
      popular cinema and the New Wave - will also be
      dealt with. Theoretical questions related to
      realism, genre and melodrama will be discussed,
      and detailed analysis of selected film texts
      representative of different kinds of cinemas will
      be undertaken. All the lectures will use
      extensive film clips to illustrate the points
      being made. In addition there will also be one
      full-length film screening at the end of the
      evening. The course will begin on 2nd November
      with an introduction to the programme followed by
      a screening of Alejandro Innaritu’s 21 Grams. All
      the class lectures will begin at 6.30 p.m and
      there will be a film screening on every weekday
      at 9 p.m. On the weekends, the programme will run
      from 10 a.m onwards. The film screening on these
      days will be at 7.30 pm. Our special guest for
      the course, Anurag Kashyap will be present for
      the screening of his new film Black Friday which
      will be screened on the 13th of November at 7.15
      pm. The interaction with the director is on the
      14th November at 11 a.m. The detailed programme
      will be handed out on the 2nd with the
      Registration package that will also include a
      reader related to the issues that will be
      discussed in the course. 75% Attendance is
      mandatory for the Certificate.

      The Faculty

      Madan Gopal Singh
      Film Scholar, Scriptwriter, Singer-Musician
      Coordinator, Cinema Studies, School of Convergence, New Delhi
      Faculty, Department of English, Satyawati College, Delhi University

      Ravi Vasudevan,
      Film Scholar,
      Co-Director, SARAI; Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSD

      Shohini Ghosh
      Media Critic and Scholar,
      Faculty, Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia

      Rashmi Doraiswamy
      Film Critic and Scholar,
      Fellow, Third World Academy, Jamia Millia Islamia

      Ira Bhaskar Film Scholar,
      Faculty, Dept of English, Gargi College, Delhi University

      Ranjani Mazumdar (Coordinator & Instructor)
      Independent Filmmaker, Scholar & Visiting Faculty
      at the Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia
      Millia Islamia

      Our Special Guest for the Course:
      Anurag Kashyap with his new Film Black Friday

      Course fee (Full Course) = Rs.1250/- (Weekend) = Rs.300/- (Dailies) = Rs.150/-

      Course fee (Full Course) = Rs.1750/- (Weekend)
      = Rs.500/- (Dailies) = Rs.150/-

      (Registration on till 1st of November. For
      further details, please contact the Programme
      Desk, Convention Centre Lobby, India Habitat
      Centre, Lodhi Road, Delhi – 110003).
      Limited Seats - enrollment on first come first serve basis.


      Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
      matters of peace and democratisation in South
      Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
      citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
      Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net/
      SACW archive is available at: bridget.jatol.com/pipermail/sacw_insaf.net/

      Sister initiatives :
      South Asia Counter Information Project : snipurl.com/sacip
      South Asians Against Nukes: www.s-asians-against-nukes.org
      Communalism Watch: communalism.blogspot.com/

      DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
      necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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