SACW | Sept. 1-2, 2008 / 17th Amendment / Prachanda / Religious Violence / SAFMA on Kahmir
- South Asia Citizens Wire | September 1-2, 2008 | Dispatch No. 2560 -
Year 10 running
 Sri Lanka: Importance of the 17th Amendment (Daily Mirror)
 Nepal: The Maobaadi prime minister: interview with Prachanda (Himal)
 Pakistan after Musharraf: A troubled state (M B Naqvi)
 India Administered Kashmir: Unarmed freedom fighters (Muzamil
+ Attacks on media freedom in J&K condemned - SAFMA wakes up
+ Mehbooba Mufti Interview : 'Everything has gone back many years'
 India - Orissa: Thanks to the Hindu Right - 50 000 homeless
- Citizen's Delegation meets President - Memo submitted (Press
note from John Dayal)
- Rioting is rarely ‘spontaneous’ (Ranjona Banerji)
- India: World Leaders Urged to Condemn Violence in Orissa
 Indo US Nuclear Deal Undone? - 'The Manmohan Agenda' in crisis
 Communalism Resources:
(i) ’State Ka Order Hai’ - A Report of by Shabnam Hashmi
(ii) Religious violence drives India’s descent into deeper
obscurantism (Jawed Naqvi)
(iii) Call for immediate ban on Bajrang Dal, VHP
+ Ban the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) | Facebook
September 1, 2008
IMPORTANCE OF THE 17TH AMENDMENT
The 17th Amendment to the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist
Republic of Sri Lanka is increasingly assuming importance similar to
what the 1st Amendment to the American Constitution acquired in
global politics. The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution of 1791
that stated, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the
press” became globally recognised and acknowledged as the forerunner
to all laws relating to the universally cherished right to freedom of
The 17th Amendment to our country’s constitution, of course, has no
prospect for acquiring importance globally. But its crucial
importance for Sri Lankans is evident from the fervent appeals made
by political parties, concerned organizations and wide sections of
discerning citizens for its quick implementation. These agitations
have gathered greater momentum with the consequences of its non-
implementation beginning to be felt in most spheres of the country’s
administration. The manner in which the recent elections to the two
provincial councils were conducted demonstrated the inadequacy of
power that the state institutions suffered from for performing their
duties independently and impartially. The need for a powerful
independent elections commission for conducting free and fair
elections and a police commission for enforcing law and order became
The convincing case made for its immediate implementation, in this
context, made by Justice Saleem Marsoof in his recent K.C.
Kamalasabayson (P.C.) memorial oration entitled 'Sovereignty of the
people and the rule of law,’ lends strong support for the popular
agitation for good governance for the achievement of which the 17th
Amendment was designed.
The 17th Amendment which, Justice Marsoof said, constituted a high
water mark in the legislative history of the country, was one of the
most important achievements of former Attorney General
Kamalasabayson. Stressing its extreme importance for the preservation
of the rule of law, he regretted that “the 17th Amendment to the
constitution has become a dead letter due to the failure to appoint
the members of the constitutional council, which has, for instance,
compelled a fast aging commissioner of elections to continue in
office ad infinitum and beyond even the compulsory age of
retirement.” He added, "In the absence of a properly constituted
Constitutional Council, elections are now held without the salutary
oversight of the independent Elections Commission sought to be
established by the said Amendment, and major appointments to the
public service and the judiciary are made without complying with the
mandatory provisions of the constitution."
It is in the situation, resulting from the absence of these
independent bodies that public officers fail to adhere to principles
of good governance. And it is this failure that paves the way for
judicial decisions such as the one relating to the case of Vasudeva
Nannayakara, Vs. K.N. Choksy (P.C.), former Minister of Finance and
30 others in which all agreements entered into between the Board of
Investment and Lanka Marine Services Limited for the sale of its
shares as part of the process of privatisation were declared null and
void, Justice Marsoof has pointed out.
The 17th Amendment provides, “No person shall be appointed by the
President as the chairman or a member of any of the commissions
specified in the schedule to this Article, except on a recommendation
of the council.” This provision was incorporated as a remedy against
the exercise of unrestrained presidential discretion in appointing
persons to important positions in national institutions. However,
after the expiry of the first term of three years from March 2002,
the constitutional council ceased to function. After much delay over
the nomination of the minority parties’ member to the council, a name
was finally recommended.
Meanwhile, the recommendations of the parliamentary select committee
for the required amendment to the legislation were also made
available. Minister of Constitutional Affairs DEW Gunasekara who was
the chairman of the PSC appointed in 2006 said some time ago that in
the course of its 15 sittings the committee had identified flaws in
15-20 areas of the legislation and made recommendations to remedy
them. On that occasion he accused the UNP of non-cooperation in
proceeding with the task making the 17th Amendment a reality.
The responsibility for making this legislation aimed at promoting the
concept of good governance has to be shared by all political parties.
It appears, however, that the government’s attitude to this question
lacks sufficient enthusiasm. It is this lukewarm approach that lends
credence to the suspicion that the government deliberately
procrastinates because of its desire to prolong the ruling party’s
advantageous position of making important appointments to various
However, the government and other responsible parties will not be
able to put this matter on the back burner any longer in view of the
mounting agitation for the implementation of the 17th Amendment. It
is hoped that the Supreme Court that will adjudicate on the matter
shortly will deliver a decision that will promote the larger national
Himal Southasian, September 2008
THE MAOBAADI PRIME MINISTER
On 15 August, more than four months after the Communist Party of
Nepal (Maoist) emerged far ahead of the other parties in elections to
the Constituent Assembly, the longtime Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal
Dahal (aka ‘Prachanda’) was overwhelmingly voted in by his colleagues
to become the first prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic
of Nepal. He will now have to oversee a government coalition made up
of his own party, together with the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified
Marxist-Leninist) and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum. The former
ruling Nepali Congress, meanwhile, has stated that it would sit in
the opposition. Shortly after his win, and before he formally
attended office, Prime Minister Dahal sat down with the Kathmandu
fortnightly newsmagazine Himal Khabarpatrika. The following is a
translation of the conversation, printed here with permission.
How did you reach a consensus to form the government?
This was an effort to forge consensus amidst disagreement. We are
moving ahead on the belief that, even with all of the divergences
between ourselves we can achieve the kind of consensus that will take
us ahead. We share an agenda of social and economic transformation
with the UML, and are with the Forum on the matter of formation of a
federal republic. The consensus between the three parties will guide
the peace process to reach a logical solution, and will also ensure a
two-thirds majority in the writing of the constitution itself.
Can this be called a natural coalition?
A coalition must be termed natural if it is likely to move in a
progressive direction; but it is a forced coalition if it is
regressive. Our coalition, between parties that share similar
agendas, is natural and progressive. Whereas the previous alliance,
between the Nepali Congress, UML and the Forum, was a dramatic coming
together of contradictory forces.
How can those who call for ‘one Madhes, one state’ and those who
oppose it work together?
We have an understanding on autonomous regions and federalism with
the pro-Madhes parties. However, we have made it clear early on that
‘one Madhes, one state’ is not a possibility. We can have lots of
autonomous provinces in the Madhes or Tarai on the basis of language,
culture and geography.
How can the new constitution be written with the Nepali Congress (NC)
out of government?
The NC is trying to imply that it has been deliberately left out of
the government, but this is untrue. We were fully engaged over a long
period to go into the government with the NC. In fact, friends in the
UML were even more active for this end. Finally, on the afternoon of
14 August, at a meeting with the UML and the Forum, the NC made it
clear that it was not keen to be part of a Maoist-led government. I
was taken aback, and realised then that the Defense Ministry had
never been the real issue [during negotiations over portfolios].
Has political polarisation begun?
The process of polarisation began when we moved from a consensus-
based to a majority-based system [through an amendment of the interim
constitution following the elections]. However, any polarisation that
will affect these priorities should not be pursued at a time when our
priorities are constitution-writing and establishing long-term peace.
How can there be agreement in constitution-writing, now that we have
a government and an opposition?
We will try to maintain consensus. We have been telling the Congress
that we need to conduct ourselves carefully, since the constitution
has to be written on time. We will try this exercise, and perhaps in
a couple of months or more after staying in opposition the Congress
could be persuaded to join the government. My effort shall be to
continue to try to bring everybody into government, and if the
environment improves we can start thinking in a new manner.
What are the new government’s priorities?
The peace process indeed comes first. We have agreed on the
integration of the militaries within three to six months. Then,
second, we need to draft the constitution. Third, we have to provide
relief to the people. The absence of a government for the past four
months has led to a rise in impunity, and has threatened peace and
security. The need of the hour is to address and manage these issues.
How will you fulfil the pledges made during the elections?
We presented an election manifesto with long-term plans for 10, 20,
40 years. Since our focus in the next two years will be on writing
the constitution, it is true that we will not be able to do much.
However, we will initiate immediate relief for the people, and start
work on long-term infrastructure projects. To give you an example of
our plans, we can establish a team under the prime minister to
efficiently bring in local and foreign investment. The people will
take confidence if we are able to draft the constitution and also
convince them that something positive is happening.
The Nepal Army seems anxious over the formation of a Maoist-led
government. How will you address its concerns about the matter of
We are committed to the goal of long-term peace, and the Nepal Army
too does not want bloodshed among Nepalis. I see no reason why the
army should be distressed by the turn of events that has us leading
the government. In fact, I think they will be happy, as it will be
easier to achieve lasting peace and strengthen the army under the new
government. As the situation demands, we will manage and improve
their security and structure. The accusations that we will come in
and destroy everything are untrue. It will actually be easier to
implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement’s provisions on army
integration and rehabilitation under a Maoist leadership than under
one that does not understand the issue.
How will you go about the issue of integration?
The main basis of integration is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Then there is the interim constitution, which has firmed the ground.
As per the constitution, the third basis will be the formation of a
committee to look into the matter, comprising the political parties
in the cabinet. We will have in-depth discussions on this issue, and
will come up with the simplest and most effective model. I do not
think the Nepal Army needs to worry, because the decision will be
arrived at through consensus in a committee made up of all the
Will you continue to use Maoist combatants for your security?
At the moment, we are using a team comprising of the police and
members of the PLA who have been verified by UNMIN [the United
Nations Mission in Nepal]. In future, too, as per requirements, we
may continue with a similar arrangement. But after the formation of
the government, perhaps we will see a change in this. After army
integration and rehabilitation, one can think of an adjustment so
that they are under a single command and control.
Is there now a change in your Maoist ideology, that violence is an
instrument to gain political power?
The political transformation here has been quite unique, and is
worthy of study. It is rare to find a situation where those who were
at war barely two years ago have been elected by the people to lead
the government. We ourselves may not find this evolution very
significant, but in my view before long the world will take great
interest in what we have achieved. We are proud that our People’s War
has created a political scenario like no other. But keep in mind that
even yesterday’s armed conflict was not a matter of our choice;
rather, it was a compulsion. Today there is a new political
situation, and we are focused on taking society forward through
Will the Maoists now formally announce a rejection of violence?
This is a very difficult question. Those who demand this of us are
the very people who engage in violence under the cover of so-called
democracy. We cannot talk about violence in neutral terms, and only a
fool would say he is forever against the use of violence. Likewise,
it is foolish and unscientific to claim to be forever in favour of
the use of violence. One is for or against violence depending on the
situation. If a foreign army attacks Nepal, we would all be speaking
in favour of violence. To try to make us say we will never use
violence is an attempt to trap us. Violence was never our choice in
the past, and neither is it today.
With you now in government, can we say that the Maoists have captured
power or is that yet to happen?
Anyone who leads by political thought harbours hopes of capturing
state power, and the only difference is in whose name and by what
methods. As far as possible, every party tries to achieve this
through peaceful means. No one wants to forcefully kill anybody. But
if the situation demands it, one is forced to pick up weapons to move
ahead. Nepal has a history of 10 years of People’s War, as well as 60
years of armed and peaceful struggle. After 70 to 75 years of
struggle, we have abolished the monarchy and established Nepal as a
republic. We are now trying to establish Nepal as a federal republic.
For this reason, we are hopeful that the Nepali people will not need
to take up arms again to capture state power.
You were projected as the future president of Nepal, so how does it
feel to be prime minister instead?
The party had put forward the idea of a president in order to address
the issue of state restructuring. The intention was also to emphasise
our commitment to transform Nepal into a republic. But given the kind
of people’s verdict that came, we were not in a position to do
whatever we wanted. Thereafter, the party thought it more appropriate
to propose my candidacy for the post of prime minister. The party’s
decision is more important than my personal feelings.
September 2, 2008
PAKISTAN AFTER MUSHARRAF: A TROUBLED STATE
by M B Naqvi
The coalition, cemented with a lot of secret assurances from
international powers, has already broken.
The US and Britain have ensured that Musharraf has gone with the
assurance that he will not be prosecuted, persecuted or harassed. A
safe passage has indeed been promised to him by the PPP government.
He says that he wants to live in Pakistan. But security risks are too
great and he has been averse to taking such risks.
Who has inherited Pakistan? There is a government of Pakistan and its
branches are located in
Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar. Its writ runs mostly
in Punjab, also in Sindh, but fitfully in Balochistan and doubtfully
in NWFP, particularly the tribal areas.
The PPP government was being supported by four other parties,
including Nawaz Sharif’s PML (N). But this party has parted company
with the PPP. Even the united government had shown no capacity to
stop the economic downslide. It tied itself up in knots. The judges’
issue could not be resolved. All Supreme and High Courts are now
packed with Musharraf loyalists. The PPP government has accepted the
legality of all actions Musharraf took and has continued all his
policies. The Prime Minister had declared before budget-making that
“there would be no paradigm change.”
The rump government does not inspire confidence that it can survive
or succeed. The coalition which was cemented with a lot of secret
assurances and guarantees from international powers has already
broken down. It has eaten up most of the puny monetary reserves. But
the government appears to have been reassured by the Americans that
they would keep it afloat. More aid is sure to come, if the
government fulfills its part of the deal that the west had made with
Benazir Bhutto and even Nawaz Sharif.
But Nawaz’s PML (N) and the PPP were unable to work together. The PPP
government, in a technical sense, is under no threat; there are
plenty of others who are prepared to offer their support in place of
PML (N). But it has to worry about the state of affairs within the
party. There is said to be a subterranean climate of opinion that
disfavours Asif Ali Zardari as the top man, either as President or as
party chief. The party is divided on many subjects. The civil society
is particularly against it and in Sindh the cities are dominated by
an unfriendly ethnic group, the MQM. It has offered support with its
29 total votes at the centre. There are the remnants of Musharraf-
supporting King’s Party or PML (Q). It is likely to bargain hard with
both the PPP and the PML (N). All in all the central government in
Islamabad is not a pretty picture.
A change of opinion has occurred between the official Pakistanis –
i.e. the Army, the civil bureaucracy and most of the parties – and
the US. Pakistanis are convinced that the War on Terror cannot be
conducted the way Musharraf was doing it; he had given so many
concessions to the US. The country is likely to slip out of anyone’s
control and may dissolve into any number of civil wars.
In NWFP’s tribal areas the emergent issue is the rise of new tiny
states displacing Pakistan progressively. Islamic terminology merely
hides power politics. During the day when the soldiers are around,
the government rules. After dark Taliban and various extremist groups
rule. It is a cottage industry of warlords. The latter have only to
manage to find a financier for raising a Lashkar (usually a narcotics
dealer). They set up shop as Islamic caliphates and call themselves
Taliban. There are many competing Taliban groups in various
‘agencies’ (districts). Once they set themselves up, they extort
money. They dispense quick justice in accordance with what they
believe to be Islamic Shariah, mixed with local traditions.
Most Taliban groups have to be identified with one of the Shariah
schools. There are over a hundred sects in Pakistan, each claiming to
be the only true Islam; all others are in grave error and are
infidels. Apart from the anti-government insurgency by various
Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremists, there is a war going on
between Lashkar Islam and Lashkar Ansar, representing Deobandi and
All Taliban are Deobandi Muslims of ordinary kind, but their
indoctrination makes them extraordinarily extremist. They are under
compulsion to behead a Shia when they find one. In Kurram Agency a
full-scale Shia-Sunni war has been going on for decades. All in all,
NWFP s under nobody’s control and is caught in civil wars.
Balochistan has a lot of Taliban and a Balochistan Liberation Army
conducting a slow-intensity national liberation war against Pakistan
Army. The war is unlikely to disappear tomorrow.
This is a picture of Pakistan after Musharraf. Many call it a failed
state. Many others call it failing state. Yet others rebel at the
idea that this has failed; they say that we are living here and
earning our livings somehow. How can this be failure? That’s where
the debate is.
 INDIA - ORISSA COMMUNAL MAYHEM:
From: "Dr. John Dayal"
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008
Subject: Citizen's Delegation tells President Patil 50,000 Christians
hiding in forests of Orissa from maraudng Hindutva mobs, 4,000 houses
New Delhi, September 1, 2008
* Citizen's Delegation meets President Pratibha Patil; Demands that
Indian Government use Article 355 to force Orissa administration to
* Violence continues even now, President is told by delegation led by
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, Maulana Mahmood Madani, MP, and Orissa
* 300 villages burnt, 4,014 houses destroyed, 50,000 Christians
hiding in Forests in a week
[. . .]
o o o
RIOTING IS RARELY ‘SPONTANEOUS’
by Ranjona Banerji
Daily News and Analysis, September 01, 2008
The last month has suddenly taken India back to a few years ago when
religion-inspired violence was common. The past three or fours years
has been a sort of lull, with sporadic incidents of attacks by one
community on another, none of which led to any further conflagrations
or widespread rioting. Yet from the serial blasts in Ahmedabad at the
end of July, allegedly by activists of the Students Islamic Group of
India to Hindu-Muslim clashes in Srinagar to the Hindu-Christian
violence in Orissa, it seems like we are back to the bad old days.
That was when we were like an old-fashioned tinderbox and any small
match could set off a giant forest fire.
Research by scholars like Paul Brass has shown that no community rage
can intensify into a riot without political, government and police
help. That is, people may be full of anger, hatred and violence
towards each other, but full-scale mob violence is only possible with
good organisation, mobilisation, official complicity, and time and
space provided by the law enforcers for law breakers to have their
way. This is a worldwide phenomenon. A good example is how Hitler and
the Nazis mobilised incipient, vague and petty anger against Jews in
Europe into full-blown genocide.
Does this theory have any bearing on the Indian situation? Through
our short history as a modern nation, we have had several examples of
riots between two different religions.
The two worst would be the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi after Indira
Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 and the anti-Muslim Gujarat riots in
Gujarat in 2002, after news was spread that Muslims had burnt to
death Hindu kar sevaks in a train bogey returning from Ayodhya. The
recent Orissa violence has similar origins. The news that a Vishwa
Hindu Parishad religious leader had been killed led to wide-scale
attacks on Christians in Orissa.
All these attacks require some amount of organisation. Spontaneous
anger does not spread over days and adept though the human race is at
warfare, armies cannot be sent in to fight and win overnight. Someone
has to strategise, organise, prepare and then put troops into action.
The US experience in Iraq has shown us what a tough endeavour that
India then is being brought back to the edge of religious
intolerance, which if allowed to grow unencumbered is likely to set
us back a few crucial years. The focus of the world and of society
has shifted from narrow parochial concerns to a global identity with
an economic perspective. In such a scenario, narrow sectarian
concerns like those of Kashmiri Muslims getting into a frenzy over
land transfer to a Hindu temple board, or the fact that it seems
perfectly justifiable for innocent people to be killed as some kind
of mob revenge for the death of a religious leader, do not fit in. At
the risk of sounding trite, when the Kosi broke its banks to go back
to an old river route, it did not choose those that it affected by
their community, caste or religion. That trite example ought to make
it plain to us how the battle has to be fought together or lost by all.
Yet, of course, this is a lesson that we will be happy never to
learn. It suits those in power to keep us in shrill anger, so that we
refuse to see the bigger picture. The rage of the Kashmiri Muslims
over “their” land being given away did not take into consideration
the poor Muslims who get their livelihood from the Amarnath Yatra.
Similarly, Hindus brainwashed by Hindutva hatred will tend to
demonise all Muslims. They will always miss the point that it suits
political parties to separate people on these lines so that the big
picture is blurred.
To point this out at all — that there is no justification for planned
and well-orchestrated violence of one community over another —
becomes immediate occasion for hate-mongers to point fingers and call
Yet, we have to ask ourselves how such carefully crafted violence and
anger benefits us as a nation. Who is this ‘other’ whom we fear if it
is not ourselves in some other guise?
o o o
Human Rights Watch
INDIA: WORLD LEADERS URGED TO CONDEMN VIOLENCE IN ORISSA
The Rt Hon. David Miliband
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles St
London SW1A 2AH
28 August 2008
Dear Mr Miliband,
We are writing to express our dismay at the situation in Orissa
state, where mobs, apparently instigated by the Hindu extremist
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have responded to the condemnable killing
of local Hindu leader, Swami Lakhmananda Saraswati, by attacking
minority Christian targets. As of 27 August, at least nine people are
said to have been killed. Reports exist of two people burnt alive,
three men hacked to death, a nun gang-raped and churches and houses
destroyed in at least twelve districts.
This outbreak of violence follows widespread attacks on Christian
targets beginning in December 2007. Swami Lakhmananda Saraswati was
widely implicated in the incitement of those attacks and in stirring
anti-Christian hatred in Orissa state, but he was never prosecuted by
the state authorities. We condemn his murder, allegedly by Maoist
insurgents (Naxalites), but the fact that Christians have been made
the scapegoats and victims of a VHP backlash is deplorable and calls
for urgent intervention. The government, meanwhile, has deployed
security forces only in one of Orissa’s thirty districts, and reports
suggest that the violence is continuing.
International statements of concern are urgently needed to express
solidarity with the victims, to help forestall yet more violence and
to prevent the further loss of life. We therefore request that you
make a statement to call for an end to the sectarian violence and the
protection of vulnerable communities as soon as possible.
Advocacy Director, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
State Department Liaison, Dalit Freedom Network
Deputy Director, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch
Ms Benita Ferrro-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations
Mr Bernard Kouchner, French Minister for Foreign and European Affairs
The Honorable Condoleeza Rice, US Secretary of State
 INDIA ADMINISTERED KASHMIR :
UNARMED FREEDOM FIGHTERS
Kashmiri Muslims have broken new ground by waging a non-violent
separation struggle but the Indian authorities seem unsure how to
by Muzamil Jaleel
(The Guardian, August 31 2008)
Flowing black beard, a headband with "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest)
and a fluttering green flag. This has been the trademark picture of
the recent azadi (freedom) processions of Kashmir, where hundreds of
thousands marched the streets of this disputed Himalayan region
seeking a separation from India.
From a distance, it seems as if the past has returned to Kashmir.
But the present contains an irrefutable truth: in place of guns, the
people carry slogans. The politics of protest this time is not about
the argument of power, but about the power of argument.
Kashmir is the first conflict-ridden Muslim region in the world where
people have consciously made a transition from violence to non-
violence, and this includes the staunch Islamists too. In fact, the
wisdom behind the use of arms to fight a political struggle was being
silently debated within Kashmir ever since 9/11 blurred the lines
dividing terrorism and genuine political movements. The deteriorating
situation inside Pakistan too had tilted the balance towards a
Thus when Kashmiris decided to come out to demand azadi recently,
there were no militant attacks or suicide bombings. It was through
massive unarmed processions where people shouted slogans and waved
flags. And when the government tried to halt them, the anger was only
manifested through stone pelting. Sensing the overwhelming public
mood, the militant groups immediately declared a unilateral
ceasefire, admitting the insignificance of the gun for an unarmed
This major shift has not been registered even as it has already
formed a new discourse for Kashmir's separatist struggle. New Delhi's
response was usual – it again used its iron fist, killing 38 unarmed
protesters and injuring more than a thousand and enforcing a strict
curfew with a hope that the people will be ultimately cowed down. The
separatist leadership too was rounded up.
This only shows that New Delhi is misreading the script. This time
the authorities are not faced with gun-wielding men but unarmed
people. A heavy clampdown keeping the population indoors only puts a
temporary lid on the seething anger. Instead of a military
intervention, New Delhi should have immediately attempted sincere
political and democratic means to engage Kashmir and calm the tempers.
New Delhi's approach to handling Kashmir for past two decades has
been simple and straight: militancy is the only problem and that can
be sorted out by stringent military measures. Though there have been
several rounds of negotiations with a faction of the separatist
leadership too, New Delhi used the process more as a photo-op than a
serious effort to address the demands of the people. There have been
half a dozen occasions when separatist leadership joined a dialogue
with New Delhi to resolve the Kashmir problem amicably – only to find
the exercise nothing more than a surrender and thus futile.
The distrust towards New Delhi had reached such proportions that when
moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq decided to join talks
with New Delhi, his uncle was murdered in Kashmir. Despite a serious
threat to his life, he joined the talks directly with the prime
minister of India. Again, the non-serious approach of New Delhi
derailed the process, further eroding the credibility of talks with
New Delhi in the eyes of Kashmiris. The public standing of separatist
leaders who had agreed to talk to New Delhi also diminished
The recent protests by hundreds of thousands of unarmed people too
don't seem to have changed the mindset of New Delhi's ruling elite.
Instead of acknowledging the intensity of the uprising and the depth
of the sentiment in Kashmir, New Delhi again refuses to face the
reality and delays engaging in a sincere dialogue with the separatist
leadership. The Kashmiris have overwhelmingly announced that peaceful
processions and not guns are now their favoured means of protest.
This needs to be encouraged and allowed to take firm roots because it
could help to put an end to the bloodshed in Kashmir and make an
amicable resolution of the problem easy. The phenomenon could also
have a positive influence over a dozen such violent conflicts in
other Muslim regions across the world. But if peaceful protests are
crushed like armed movements, another wave of violence will take
root, reinforcing the idea that the gun is mightier than a slogan.
o o o
The Hindu - 2 September 2008
ATTACKS ON MEDIA FREEDOM IN J&K CONDEMNED
LAHORE: The South Asian Free Media Association and South Asia Media
Commission on Saturday condemned the attacks on media freedom in
Showing solidarity with the Kashmiri media in their difficult days,
SAFMA president Lakshman Gunasekara, secretary general Imtiaz Alam
and SAMC chairman N. Ram and secretary general Najam Sethi said they
were worried at the reports of the media being directly targeted in
an intensifying security crackdown in Kashmir.
“Instances like newspapers failing to print for several days because
of severe restrictions on journalists’ movement, suspension of cable
news channels, injuries to journalists in targeted attacks by the
security personnel create an environment of paralysis for the media,
where only disinformation and rumour can hold sway,” they said in a
Resenting the assaults on the media, they urged the authorities to
ensure media freedom by facilitating functioning of journalists and
distribution of newspapers without any restrictions.
“Any attempt to curb the media is against the ethos of democracy. The
authorities should take immediate steps to ensure that people in
Jammu and Kashmir are not deprived of their fundamental right to
access information and freedom of expression.”
They also demanded restoration of news channels on cable networks.
“Jammu and Kashmir is being deprived of all information in the
absence of local channels and so, their operations should be restored
The authorities should also ensure journalists’ safety, SAFMA and
SAMC office-bearers said.
They criticised a raid by the Jammu and Kashmir police on the home of
The Hindu correspondent in Srinagar.
S. Nihal Singh, SAMC coordinator, in a statement said:
“It is with regret and concern that the SAMC has learnt of the recent
developments in Jammu and Kashmir. They concern the search of the
residence of The Hindu correspondent in Srinagar, Shujaat Bukhari,
and the restrictions placed on reporters’ professional activities and
circulation of newspapers. It is true that the state of Jammu and
Kashmir is passing through a difficult phase, but the answer in
resolving issues does not lie in placing restrictions on media and
their practitioners. Rather, such restrictions can only prove to be
o o o
MEHBOOBA MUFTI INTERVIEW
Everything has gone back many years
Indian Express: Sunday, August 24, 2008
The Daily Star
September 2, 2008
The Praful Bidwai Column
'THE MANMOHAN AGENDA' IN CRISIS
by Praful Bidwai writes from New Delhi
A deal undone?
JUST as it seemed headed for completion, the India-United States
nuclear deal has run into big trouble. Indian officials had thought
the US-drafted motion to get a waiver for India from the Nuclear
Suppliers' Group's nuclear trade rules would "sail through."
Getting consensus on it would be as smooth as "a knife going through
butter." A handful of dissenting member-states would express
reservations. Soon thereafter, Germany, the NSG chair, would announce
The US Congress would ratify the deal by September. India would have
its Nuclear Nirvana.
Yet, more than 20 of the NSG's 45 members expressed reservations. A
vocal bloc led by Austria, New Zealand and Ireland proposed more than
50 amendments to bring the waiver in line with the Group's
overwhelming non-proliferation objective. The NSG, which works by
consensus, reached no decision. The dissenters won the day.
What was meant to be the crowning of India's arrival on the world
stage is now being described as a setback, even "debacle." Indian
officials say the US didn't lobby the dissenting states hard enough,
or that it sabotaged the NSG proceedings.
There are two problems with this proposition. One, it sits ill with
the fact that the US initiated the deal. It prepared the ground in
early 2005 by offering to "help India become a World Power."
India essentially reacted, but also drove a hard bargain knowing that
Washington saw the deal as the key to bringing New Delhi into its
strategic orbit and containing China. The US wouldn't want to
sabotage the deal at this stage after having staked so much on it.
India was involved in negotiating every phrase in the resolutions
before the IAEA and NSG.
It was naïve, even foolhardy, for New Delhi to think that many NSG
states, which only have a limited interest in partnering India, would
meekly go along with Washington. In fact, it's India that proved
Second, India underrated the opposition, especially from states like
New Zealand and Austria which take nuclear non-proliferation
sincerely -- New Zealand to the point of barring US warships because
Washington won't say if they carry nuclear warheads.
India's credibility in matters nuclear has taken a beating since 1998
when it blasted its way into the Nuclear Club after having championed
disarmament for 50 years, and embraced the "repugnant" doctrine of
It's not good enough for India to offer a unilateral testing
moratorium. Countries like Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland,
Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Austria and New Zealand want a more
robust commitment: no nuclear commerce with the world if India tests
These countries may yet drop or dilute their conditions. But they
will have be coerced through US arm-twisting, or cajoled through
lucrative contracts from "emerging economic giant" India. But some of
them don't have a big stake in Indian contracts. Some may resist US
We don't know if the dissenters will stand up in the NSG, though
that's highly likely. But the conditions they propose are potential
deal-breakers: periodic review of India's compliance with non-
proliferation commitments; exclusion of uranium enrichment and spent-
fuel reprocessing technologies from exports; and most important, end
to nuclear trade if India conducts a test.
India insists on a "clean and unconditional" waiver, with only
"cosmetic" changes in the US draft. So unless the conditions vanish,
India must sign a bad deal. Or, India loses the deal altogether in
the Bush administration's term.
If Barack Obama becomes the next US president, he won't make generous
deal-related concessions. During the Hyde Act debate, he moved an
amendment calling for fuel stocks for the normal operation of Indian
reactors, not for a "strategic fuel reserve." Even under a Republican
administration, the deal won't get terms as favourable as the present
If India signs a deal violating Dr. Manmohan Singh's commitments to
Parliament, the entire opposition will attack him. Even the United
Progressive Alliance will find it hard to counter the charge that he
has "sold out."
Many UPA allies and Congressmen could turn against Dr. Singh for
misleading them into believing the US would take care of the NSG, and
there'd be no political price to pay for the deal -- beyond losing
the Left's support and allying with the sleazy Samajwadi Party.
The Congress-UPA's heart was never in the deal. It was thrust upon
them by Dr. Singh's insistence on leaving a "legacy" of a decisive
pro-US strategic policy turn, much like his neo-liberal paradigm
shift of 1991.
The deal is integral to the larger "Manmohan Singh agenda" to push
India Rightwards socially, economically and politically.
UPA leaders didn't back the deal out of respect for Dr. Singh's
(lightweight) stature and political judgment, or out of their faith
in nuclear energy -- with its appallingly poor performance in India
and its at-best-dubious potential contribution to energy security.
They did so because Ms. Sonia Gandhi, who was reluctant to break with
the Left, backed the deal after her son put his weight behind it.
Congressmen know they're paying a heavy price for taking the SP's
support, including inviting "cash-for-votes" charges, rewriting
petroleum, telecom and captive coal-mines policies to favour business
groups, and sacrificing their party's interests in Uttar Pradesh,
where the Congress's social base and rank-and-file are out-of-sync
with, even terrified of, the SP.
However, the cost meter won't stop there. If the UPA government signs
the nuclear deal with onerous conditions, its credibility will be
destroyed. If the deal collapses, the UPA will become the nation's
All this is happening amidst runaway crises in the Kashmir Valley and
Jammu, eruption of communal violence in Orissa, and the Home
Ministry's extraordinary ineptitude in dealing with terrorist
attacks, for which it variously but unconvincingly blames SIMI,
Gujarati youth, Bangladesh-based "modules" and ISI-sponsored outfits.
Under the UPA, governance is faltering. Yet it's ducking democratic
accountability by unconscionably postponing Parliament's monsoon
session. Burdened with Dr. Singh's legacy obsession, the UPA has very
little time left to correct course.
Praful Bidwai is an eminent Indian columnist.
 Communalism Resources:
’STATE KA ORDER HAI’
A Report of by Shabnam Hashmi
(An Independent Fact Finding Team into incident of incidents of July
3-4, 2008 in Indore [August 29, 2008]
o o o
www.sacw.net > Communalism Repository - 2 September 2008
RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE DRIVES INDIA’S DESCENT INTO DEEPER OBSCURANTISM
by Jawed Naqvi
(Dawn.com, September 01, 2008)
IT took the Pope 400 years to apologise to Galileo, who was
excommunicated for inferring from his independent inquiry that it was
the Earth that went round the Sun and not the other way as the Bible
claimed. It is too early to count the decades if not centuries it
will take India to recant, if ever, from its current headlong leap
into obscurantism of diverse hues, which it is busy cultivating in a
strange mélange it advertises as secularism.
Be it the orgy of violence unleashed by the Hindu right against
Christian missionaries and their followers in Orissa --- in which
both sides want greater access to the gullible and poor Dalits and
tribes people to grant them spiritual salvation, moksha --- or be it
the transformation of a separatist agenda of Kashmiris into a Hindu-
Muslim standoff, or the ready use of Muslim ulema to canvass support
against religious terrorism perpetrated by shadowy groups, the state
has abdicated its secular responsibilities.
The fact that the ulema are leading their flock with the state’s
encouragement ignores the reality that they are responsible in the
first place for imparting hidebound religious prescriptions that
interfere with the functioning of democratic choices usually
available elsewhere to citizens of different faiths and beliefs under
a secular dispensation. Many of the maulvis who have been thrust into
the forefront of an overrated campaign to disown Muslim terrorists
are themselves guilty of keeping their followers riveted to fear and
mistrust on the basis of another citizen’s religious or other beliefs.
The state has happily indulged their mediaeval demands, significantly
notorious among them being the Shah Bano alimony case. Leaders who
denied a Muslim widow of her right to alimony are a key plank against
religious terrorism. What could be more ironical?
What is happening in Orissa has two dimensions – prejudice and
poverty. There is no doubt that Christian missionaries since colonial
days have done wonderful things for the backward people of India
generically called the tribals and the Dalits. Their motives,
however, have not always been innocent. The Dalits are at the bottom
of the Indian caste heap. And I say the Indian and not Hindu caste
heap because there are Dalits in every major religion of India but
the secular state only grants statutory affirmative action to Hindu
Dalits, or what passes for Hindu. And this is part of the problem in
The quasi fascist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a cousin of the
mainstream BJP, is seeking to ‘reconvert’ Christian Dalits to its
fold right across India, including in Orissa. It uses an unfair law
enacted in 1950 that does not accept a non-Hindu Dalit as entitled to
the crumbs that come with affirmative action. On the other hand,
tribal converts to a non-Hindu religion, for example to Christianity,
face no such handicap.
Non-Hindu Dalits want the privileges given to Hindu Dalits and this
sets up political fault lines that are then exploited on both sides.
Christian and Muslim Dalits want the rights of Dalits they are
otherwise denied for not being Hindu. This is an aspect of the
secular state. Add to this conundrum the state’s tendency to side
with the more entrenched rightist forces, partly as a foil to liberal
intervention but also to consciously break the natural solidarity of
the weakest classes, and you have a classic profile of a state that
is toying with fascist methods of social control. The leeway that
organisations such as the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra are able to secure
from the state appears to be part of this strategy – unleash
rightwing mobs in the political arena, inject an obscurantist
discourse and then negotiate deals with the concerned sides.
What happened in Jammu has less to do with caste, but the
mobilisation over an innocuous-looking, if controversial, land
transfer to a Hindu shrine committee has its eyes equally on the
arriving elections, both in Jammu and Kashmir as also India’s general
poll due by mid-2009 but which may be held earlier. An overtly Hindu
group tethered to the obscurantist ideology of parties like the RSS
has been unleashed in Jammu out of nowhere. Their agitation may not
have achieved much, but it has successfully marginalised moderate
Muslim leaders in the Valley, including secular separatists as well
as mainstream politicians.
At the same time they have enabled a rightist Muslim leader like Syed
Ali Shah Geelani to take centre-stage. The politics whipped up in
Jammu is not too different from the way the Sikh rabble-rouser
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was created in the Punjab. He rose to
torment India’s fragile tryst with secular politics and his memory
remains a serious challenge.
Indian and Pakistani governments were dealing with the larger
question of the Kashmiri dispute according to the parameters agreed
by a Pakistani strongman with a rightwing nationalist prime minister
of India, giving the accord a clout and credibility that eludes
liberal politicians in the subcontinent. Kashmiri leaders,
separatists and nationalists alike, were beginning to travel between
the two national capitals with a degree of comfort and optimism they
had not experienced before.
Then suddenly and quite inexplicably the agenda was changed and we
are today confronting a communal polarisation in which Hindu and
Muslim crowd-pullers are having a field day at the cost of the
moderates on both sides.
A lot has been said and written about the plight of the minority
Ahmedis of Pakistan where they were declared non-Muslim. So I was
perplexed when India’s own Ahmedi or Qadiyani leaders (meeting in a
conference in New Delhi as I write) revealed that they were not
allowed to be members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a
body of religious leaders recognised by the government as
representative of the 150 million Indian Muslims, for reasons that
are similar to the ones cited in Pakistan. In effect, the Indian
government has accepted the sectarian approach to informally exclude
Unless there is a more valid explanation for keeping the Ahmedis out
of the Muslim body where is the basis for a secular state to accept
one of the sects as non-Muslim? This can be an acceptable exigency in
Pakistan, but in India?
In a country crawling with god men and superstitions, the media has
not done any credit by encouraging rather than curbing the trend.
Dozens of TV channels have dedicated 24-hour programmes fanning the
pursuit of blind faith. I hear the channel with the highest TRP
ratings has reached there by dumbing down of its current affairs and
news content and supplanting it with dollops of faith healers,
soothsayers and specialists in tarot cards, bead readers and so forth.
Other channels are churning out newer versions of religious tales.
There is no room left, it seems, for any public debate between
Galileo and the Pope. India is hurtling into obscurantism in the
illustrious company of VHP, the ulema and Shiv Sena. The Jammu-based
Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti is its latest proud interlocutor.
o o o
The Hindu, 30 August 2008
CALL FOR IMMEDIATE BAN ON BAJRANG DAL, VHP
New Delhi: Monthly magazine Communalism Combat has called for an
immediate ban on the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for
their “involvement in spreading terror across the country.”
The demand was made on Thursday at a press conference addressed
jointly by Justice (retd.) B.G. Kolse Patil, former Director-General
of Gujarat Police R.B. Sreekumar, film-maker Mahesh Bhatt and Editor
of Communalism Combat Teesta Setalvad.
They said a ban on the two organisations assumed urgency in the wake
of the mayhem spread by them in Orissa as well as revelations of
their involvement in terror networks in Maharashtra and Uttar
Pradesh. They also called upon the government to constitute an
official tribunal, comprising three sitting judges of the Supreme
Court, to oversee investigations into all terror-related crimes.
Mr. Justice Kolse Patil said that though there was mounting evidence
of the Bajrang Dal’s involvement in bomb-making activities, not a
single case was pursued to its logical end.
Ms. Setalvad said a “mountain of damning evidence” was available to
incriminate the Bajrang Dal in the bomb blasts that took place at the
residence of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker in Nanded in
Maharashtra in April 2006. As recently as last week, two Bajrang Dal
activists died in an explosion while assembling bombs in Kanpur. The
two men left behind explosive materials enough for several terror
strikes, she alleged.
Ms. Setalvad spoke specifically of the Nanded bomb blast case that
claimed the lives of Naresh Kondwar and Himanshu Panse, both active
workers of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The case
was handed over to the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Maharashtra on May 4,
Quoting from the two charge sheets filed by the ATS, Ms. Setalvad
made the following points: Kondse and Panse were assembling bombs
with the intention of targeting Muslim places of worship. The house
where the bombs were manufactured belonged to RSS worker Laxman
Rajkondwar. Diaries, important documents, suspicious maps and mobile
numbers were unearthed from the house, which led the ATS to a terror
trail spread over Parbhani, Jalna and Purna.
Ms. Setalvad said the ATS charge sheets revealed that as many as
three dozen Bajrang Dal workers from all over Maharashtra received
systematic training from experts in bomb-making and bomb explosion.
Despite this clinching evidence, the CBI watered down the findings in
its own charge sheet filed in 2008, allowing the accused to be
released on bail.
Ms. Setalvad announced that she and the other speakers would soon
move the Supreme Court in order to bring to its attention the
discrepancy in the charge sheets of the ATS and the CBI.
o o o
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