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SACW | Sept. 1-2, 2008 / 17th Amendment / Prachanda / Religious Violence / SAFMA on Kahmir

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | September 1-2, 2008 | Dispatch No. 2560 - Year 10 running [1] Sri Lanka: Importance of the 17th Amendment (Daily Mirror) [2] Nepal:
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1 7:30 PM
      South Asia Citizens Wire | September 1-2, 2008 | Dispatch No. 2560 -
      Year 10 running

      [1] Sri Lanka: Importance of the 17th Amendment (Daily Mirror)
      [2] Nepal: The Maobaadi prime minister: interview with Prachanda (Himal)
      [3] Pakistan after Musharraf: A troubled state (M B Naqvi)
      [4] 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'
      [5] 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
      [6] Indo US Nuclear Deal Undone? - 'The Manmohan Agenda' in crisis
      (Praful Bidwai)
      [7] 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



      Daily Mirror
      September 1, 2008


      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
      clearly evident.

      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
      state institutions.

      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


      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
      political parties.

      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
      peaceful means.

      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.



      Deccan Herald
      September 2, 2008


      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
      Barelvi sub-sects.

      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.



      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
      protect Christians
      * Violence continues even now, President is told by delegation led by
      Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, Maulana Mahmood Madani, MP, and Orissa
      Archbishop Cheenath.
      * 300 villages burnt, 4,014 houses destroyed, 50,000 Christians
      hiding in Forests in a week
      [. . .]

      o o o


      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
      can be.

      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?
      Email: b_ranjona@...

      o o o

      Human Rights Watch


      The Rt Hon. David Miliband
      Foreign Secretary
      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.

      Yours sincerely,

      Alexa Papadouris
      Advocacy Director, Christian Solidarity Worldwide

      Benjamin Marsh
      State Department Liaison, Dalit Freedom Network

      Elaine Pearson
      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



      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
      peaceful struggle.

      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
      people's movement.

      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


      LAHORE: The South Asian Free Media Association and South Asia Media
      Commission on Saturday condemned the attacks on media freedom in
      Indian-administered Kashmir.

      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

      Everything has gone back many years
      Indian Express: Sunday, August 24, 2008



      The Daily Star
      September 2, 2008
      The Praful Bidwai Column


      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
      a "consensus."

      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
      unreasonably inflexible.

      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
      nuclear deterrence.

      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
      pressure too.

      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
      laughing stock.

      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.


      [6] Communalism Resources:


      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


      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
      the Ahmedis.

      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


      Special Correspondent

      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

      See Also:

      Ban the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) | Facebook


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