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SACW | Oct 19 - Nov 4, 2009 / The Afghan election / Pakistan: Interviews on Baloch Resistance & Women Swimmers / India: War on Terror and Eroding Human Rights ; MF Hussain; Love or Holy War

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | October 19 - November 4, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2662 - Year 12 running From: www.sacw.net [ SACW Dispatches for 2009-2010 are dedicated
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2009
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | October 19 - November 4, 2009 | Dispatch
      No. 2662 - Year 12 running
      From: www.sacw.net

      [ SACW Dispatches for 2009-2010 are dedicated to the memory of Dr.
      Sudarshan Punhani (1933-2009), husband of Professor Tamara Zakon and
      a comrade and friend of Daya Varma ]


      [1] The Afghan election: a five-star debacle (Simon Tisdall)
      + Remember the Women? (Ann Jones)
      [2] Sri Lanka outcry over police brutality (Charles Haviland)
      + Growing strains (B. Muralidhar Reddy)
      [3] Pakistan: Stories from the Baloch resistance movement -
      Interview with Chakar Khan (Malik Siraj Akbar)
      "We Refuse to Be Held to Ransom By Terrorism" - Beena Sarwar
      interviews Veena Masud
      [4] Can petty minds create a South Asian confederation? (Jawed Naqvi)
      [5] India: War on Terror & counter terror, Impunity, Lack of Justice
      & Eroding Human Rights
      - SC has failed country on Batla case (Editorial, Mail Today)
      - 'Give me one week to bring peace' (Anita Aikara)
      - A Citzens Fact Finding Report on the Demolition of Vanvasi
      Chetna Ashram, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh
      - What made Mahato a political fugitive (Monobina Gupta)
      - NDTV Panel Discussion on Maoism
      - Mr Chidambaram’s War - How many soldiers will it take to
      contain the mounting rage of hundreds of millions of people?
      (Arundhati Roy)
      - Concerned Citizens Statement on the “Maoist” Violence
      - India must change the discourse from violence to democracy
      (Manoranjan Mohanty)
      - Madhya Pradesh: A Social Movement for People's Rights under
      attack - NBA activists arrested and intimidated - Peaceful protest
      [6] India: Resources For Secular Activists
      (i) The MF Husain controversy: Identity, intent and the rise
      of militant fascism (Beena Sarwar)
      (ii) Protect me? They can’t even protect my art: M F Husain
      (Anubha Sawhney Joshi & Himanshi Dhawan)
      (iii) And now politics of cultural virginity (Charu Gupta)
      (iv) Love or Holy War (Vidyadhar Gadgil)
      [7] Announcements:
      Sunil Janah's photographic epic: India 1939 - 1971 (New Delhi, 7
      November 2009)


      [1] Afghanistan:


      The Guardian, 1 November 2009


      With the UN's reputation in tatters and Washington in denial over
      Abdullah's exit, Obama must turn this round or look like a loser

      by Simon Tisdall

      In Afghanistan's disreputable 2009 presidential election, everyone's
      a loser. Hamid Karzai's "victory", achieved by fraud and now by
      default, has left him a tarnished, diminished figure. The US
      administration that orchestrated the whole process still lacks the
      credible partner in Kabul it says is essential for success.

      The UN's reputation for probity lies critically wounded in the
      gutter, a victim of inaction and bitter infighting among officials.
      Nato's mission looks even more rudderless and ill-defined than
      before. The cause of the Afghan people, bemused and terrorised by
      turns, is no further forward and may in truth have been set back.

      US officials risked ridicule by claiming the election process
      remained credible, despite the decision of Abdullah Abdullah,
      Karzai's only remaining rival, to pull out of a second round run-off.
      Referring to wildly dissimilar American election precedents,
      secretary of state Hillary Clinton said his withdrawal did not
      necessarily destroy the validity of the run-off – even if only one
      candidate was running.

      "It's not surprising that he [Abdullah] is not going to contest an
      election he wasn't going to win," an unnamed White House official
      told the Washington Post. "This is not a challenge in any way to the
      process of choosing the next Afghan president. This is politics." The
      official went on: "However this shakes out, it does not affect the
      legitimacy of the process."

      This creative interpretation of the weekend's events ignored the fact
      that it was Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, the US special
      Afghanistan-Pakistan representative, who only a few days ago strong-
      armed Karzai into accepting a second round. It was essential, they
      said, given that his supposed first-round victory was fraudulent to
      the point of farce.

      The White House spinners also dodged the obvious conclusion, arising
      from Abdullah's withdrawal, that notwithstanding all their power and
      influence, the US, the UN, and assembled western diplomats, plus
      Afghanistan's discredited Independent Election Commission were
      unable, in the final analysis, to ensure a free and fair vote.

      Abdullah's call for the replacement of compromised election officials
      was ignored. The UN's wish that the number of polling stations be
      reduced to lessen the chance of a repeat fraud received similar short
      shrift. It had become clear in recent days that there was little or
      nothing to prevent further pro-Karzai ballot-rigging on an epic scale.

      Whether the run-off will go ahead remains uncertain at this point. If
      Abdullah cuts some kind of power-sharing or national unity deal with
      Karzai, it may be cancelled and further embarrassment avoided. Or it
      may go ahead – but more "smoothly", given that there will be no
      actual contest. Some western officials seem to be privately hoping
      for this sort of fudge.

      Peter Galbraith, a former senior American diplomat who was sacked
      from the UN mission in Kabul in a row over its turning a blind eye to
      ballot rigging, warned last week that a fraud-stained second round
      would be "catastrophic for Afghanistan and the allied military
      mission battling the Taliban and al-Qaida". For this reason, others
      might say, rendering a second round irrelevant has obvious attractions.

      Galbraith said a Karzai second term, however achieved, would be
      "tainted at home and abroad". To overcome this crisis of legitimacy,
      he urged the adoption of reforms put forward by Abdullah that would
      allow greater power-sharing among ethnic groups, the election of
      provincial governors, increased power for local governments, and the
      appointment of a prime minister and cabinet by parliament, not by the

      Barack Obama may insist on such reforms as part of his still
      unfinished Afghan policy review. Reducing Karzai's powers in these
      ways would provide a fig leaf for Washington's abject failure to
      secure the democratic and governmental advances that it hoped would
      justify ever more costly, and ever more unpopular, US and Nato
      military involvement.

      As of last Friday, Obama, like an ivory tower professor struggling to
      engage with reality, was still calling for more option papers from
      the Pentagon on future troop levels. The latest word in Washington is
      that he will increase US forces, though by fewer than the 40,000
      additional troops requested by his commander, General Stanley
      McChrystal. They will be used to defend key Afghan cities and
      population centres from Taliban attack. In the countryside, US and
      Nato forces may shift to guerrilla-style, counter-terrorist tactics.

      Maybe, given time, Obama can turn things around. But his inability to
      prevent the US-promoted election turning into a five-star debacle was
      damaging. It has left him looking like something he has rarely been
      in his lifetime – a loser, just like everyone else. The only winners
      yesterday were the bad guys.


      The Nation (in the November 9, 2009 edition of The Nation)


      by Ann Jones

      What happens to women in Afghanistan is not merely a "women's issue."
      It is the central issue of stability, development and durable peace.

      Women are made for homes or graves. -- Afghan saying

      Gen. Stanley McChrystal says he needs more American troops to salvage
      something like winning in Afghanistan and restore the country to
      "normal life." Influential senators want to increase spending to
      train more soldiers for the Afghan National Army and Police. The
      Feminist Majority recently backed off a call for more troops, but it
      continues to warn against U.S. withdrawal as an abandonment of Afghan
      women and girls. Nearly everyone assumes troops bring greater
      security; and whether your touchstone is military victory, national
      interest or the welfare of women and girls, "security" seems a good

      I confess that I agonize over competing proposals now commanding
      President Obama's attention because I've spent years in Afghanistan
      working with women, and I'm on their side. When the Feminist Majority
      argues that withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan will return
      the Taliban to power and women to house arrest, I see in my mind's
      eye the faces of women I know and care about. Yet an unsentimental
      look at the record reveals that for all the fine talk of women's
      rights since the U.S. invasion, equal rights for Afghan women have
      been illusory all along, a polite feel-good fiction that helped to
      sell the American enterprise at home and cloak in respectability the
      misbegotten government we installed in Kabul. That it is a fiction is
      borne out by recent developments in Afghanistan -- President Karzai's
      approving a new family law worthy of the Taliban, and American
      acquiescence in Karzai's new law and, initially, his theft of the
      presidential election -- and by the systematic intimidation, murder
      or exile of one Afghan woman after another who behaves as if her
      rights were real and worth fighting for.

      Last summer in Kabul, where "security" already suffocates anything
      remotely suggesting normal life, I asked an Afghan colleague at an
      international NGO if she was ever afraid. I had learned of
      threatening phone calls and night letters posted on the gates of the
      compound, targeting Afghan women who work within. Three of our
      colleagues in another city had been kidnapped by the militia of a
      warlord, formerly a member of the Karzai government, and at the time,
      as we learned after their release, were being beaten, tortured and
      threatened with death if they continued to work.

      "Fear?" my colleague said. "Yes. We live with fear. In our work here
      with women we are always under threat. Personally, I work every day
      in fear, hoping to return safely at the end of the day to my home. To
      my child and my husband."

      "And the future?" I said. "What do you worry about?"

      "I think about the upcoming election," she said. "I fear that nothing
      will change. I fear that everything will stay the same."

      Then Karzai gazetted the Shiite Personal Status Law, and it was
      suddenly clear that even as we were hoping for the best, everything
      had actually grown much worse for women.

      Why is this important? At this critical moment, as Obama tries to
      weigh options against our national security interests, his advisers
      can't be bothered with -- as one U.S. military officer put it to me
      -- "the trivial fate of women." As for some hypothetical moral duty
      to protect the women of Afghanistan -- that's off the table. Yet it
      is precisely that dismissive attitude, shared by Afghan and many
      American men alike, that may have put America's whole Afghan
      enterprise wrong in the first place. Early on, Kofi Annan, then
      United Nations secretary general, noted that the condition of Afghan
      women was "an affront to all standards of dignity, equality and

      Annan took the position, set forth in 2000 in the landmark UN
      Security Council Resolution 1325, that real conflict resolution,
      reconstruction and lasting peace cannot be achieved without the full
      participation of women every step of the way. Karzai gave lip service
      to the idea, saying in 2002, "We are determined to work to improve
      the lot of women after all their suffering under the narrow-minded
      and oppressive rule of the Taliban." But he has done no such thing.
      And the die had already been cast: of the twenty-three Afghan
      notables invited to take part in the Bonn Conference in December
      2001, only two were women. Among ministers appointed to the new
      Karzai government, there were only two; one, the minister for women's
      affairs, was warned not to do "too much."

      The Bonn agreement expressed "appreciation to the Afghan mujahidin
      who...have defended the independence, territorial integrity and
      national unity of the country and have played a major role in the
      struggle against terrorism and oppression, and whose sacrifice has
      now made them both heroes of jihad and champions of peace, stability
      and reconstruction of their beloved homeland, Afghanistan." On the
      other hand, their American- and Saudi-sponsored "sacrifice" had also
      made many of them war criminals in the eyes of their countrymen. Most
      Afghans surveyed between 2002 and 2004 by the Afghan Independent
      Human Rights Commission thought the leaders of the mujahedeen were
      war criminals who should be brought to justice (75 percent) and
      removed from public office (90 percent). The mujahedeen, after all,
      were Islamist extremists just like the Taliban, though less
      disciplined than the Taliban, who had risen up to curb the violent
      excesses of the mujahedeen and then imposed excesses of their own.
      That's the part American officials seem unwilling to admit: that the
      mujahedeen warlords of the Karzai government and the oppressive
      Taliban are brothers under the skin. From the point of view of women
      today, America's friends and America's enemies in Afghanistan are the
      same kind of guys.
      [. . .]


      [2] Sri Lanka:

      by Charles Haviland

      by B. Muralidhar Reddy
      If Rajapaksa calls an early presidential poll, it may not be
      surprising for him to find Gen. Sarath Fonseka or Justice Sarath N.
      Silva as his rivals.


      [3] Pakistan:


      Revisiting the Che Guevara-like days of Baloch resistance movement
      with Asad Rehman

      by Malik Siraj Akbar

      Guerilla movements in Balochistan have always been romanticized by
      young men who aspire to overthrow the domineering elite and bring
      revolutions. Taking to the hills for the rights of the Baloch
      fatherland is what has placed many statesmen, kings, governors and
      princes from Balochistan at irremovable positions in the annals of
      the Baloch history.

      A similar exceptionally striking chapter of the Baloch movement was
      written in the early 1970s when a group of five scions of Pakistani
      non-Baloch elite joined Balochistan’s guerilla war against the
      Pakistan army’s occupation of the Baloch land. Popularly known as
      the London Group, the members of this study circle left the comforts
      of wealthy life, education in London and joined the Balochs in their
      battle against the Pakistan army in the Marri hills. In their early
      twenties, these comrades adopted Balochi names, learned the language,
      explored the terrain, faced hunger and fought on the frontline in
      their commitment for the Balochs.

      A spirited Asad Rehman, the youngest but the fittest in the popular
      London Group, remembers how he, at the age of 21, used to ambush the
      Pakistani military convoys and take away ammunition from them to
      sustain the movement. An eyewitness to what he bills as the
      ‘genocide” of the Balochs in the 70s, Rehman alias Chakar Khan,
      still an ardent supporter of an independent Balochistan, reveals how
      Baloch women were used as ‘comfort women’ in the military custody
      and male fighters were captured and thrown from the helicopters.

      In an exclusive but a candid and revealing interview with this
      writer, Rheman recalls his Che Guevara -like days of Baloch
      resistance movement of 1970s and compares it with today’s Baloch
      movement. Excerpts:

      MALIK SIRAJ AKBAR: Tell us something about your family background.

      ASAD RAHMAN: I am the son of late Justice S.A. Rahman, who retired as
      Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court in 1968. We were three
      brothers and one sister. My eldest brother, Shahid Rahman, a Supreme
      Court lawyer, has passed away. My sister is the Dean of Liberal Arts
      at Beacon House National University, Lahore. My middle brother,
      Rashid Rahman, is a well-known journalist and political analyst.

      I owe my sense of justice and serving poor humanity to my parents
      because they helped all sorts of people. Until my mother died in
      2002, she was running a Convalescent Home with (late) Begum Justice
      Shahabuddin where they treat women and children free of cost and this
      was established in 1948.

      My father was also the member of the Boundary Commission and,
      therefore, worked very closely with Quaid-e-Azam and Lord Radcliff.
      He was in the East Pakistan Boundary Commission. He served as a High
      Court judge in 1947, became the Chief Justice of the High Court in
      1955 and was elevated to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1960. We
      did not know how he help poor people until his death in 1979 when
      lots of people came from his hometown of Wazirabad and told us that
      he had actually educated hundreds of boys and girls of the area. Even
      my mother did not know about this aspect of his humility and
      humanity. He was a totally self made man.

      I was born in Murree, district of Rawalpindi on 11 August 1950. We
      lived all our lives in Lahore and I was educated in Lahore. In 1969,
      after completing my intermediate, I left for London to study
      architecture. In 68-69 when the anti-Ayub movement was going on, I
      was very much a part of it as a student-agitator of Government
      College Lahore.

      I did not finish my studies in London because in 1971, I came back to
      Pakistan (straight to Balochistan). Why I came to Balochistan is a
      very interesting story. My father was also the chairman of the
      tribunal which was trying Sheik Mujeeb-ur-Rehman in 1968-69 in
      Agartala Conspiracy Case and the Chief Election Commissioner in the
      1970 elections, reputed to be the fairest and cleanest elections in
      Pakistan’s history. There were two Bengali judges and my father was
      the chairman of the tribunal.. When Sheik Mujeeb was finally released
      by Bhutto, the first person he visited was my father. He said he had
      come to thank him because, according to Mujeeb, “if you had not been
      the chairman, they would have hung us.”

      When I went to London, there were around 25 Pakistani, boys and
      girls, from different cities who had formed a study group. There were
      some Indian students as well in the study group. We used to study all
      kinds of literature, Marxist, Maoist, Leninist, Stalin etc. In
      Pakistan in those days, we could not get this kind of literature. In
      London, we got the opportunity to read Marxist literature. I do not
      call myself a Communist, Marxist or Socialist simply because I do not
      think we are true Marxists. When you have an ideology and you do not
      practice it or are unable to practice it, it does not give you a
      reason to claim to be a Marxist.

      The study of these literatures gave us an understanding of humanity,
      human rights and understanding of exploitation by the ruling elite of
      the poor.. That is what drove me to Balochistan.

      MSA: Who were the prominent members of the London Group?

      AR: There was Najam Sethi, Ahmed Rashid, my brother, Rashid Rehman,
      Dilip Dass. These are the people who originally came to support the
      Balochistan movement. These are the names I am willing to disclose
      because they are well-known as having played a part in the
      Balochistan movement. I would not be discussing the names of the
      other members of the London Group for two reasons: One, they did not
      participate in Balochistan movement. Two, I will be compromising on
      their security if I disclose their names.

      In 1970, when the East Pakistan civil war started, we felt that
      whatever was happening in East Pakistan was wrong. We decided to
      bring out a monthly magazine, called Pakistan Zindabad (Long Live
      Pakistan). In that magazine, we used to write about nationality
      rights, minority rights, fundamental human rights, articles on how
      the army had taken on Pakistan’s polity, how it was dictating to
      civil government that was in place. We started to write about the
      East Pakistan issues and the economic exploitation. We used to
      distribute that magazine in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

      I suppose some friends felt they needed to bring this magazine to
      Pakistan. They smuggled some copies of it to Pakistan. Some Leftist
      groups here reproduced the magazine and distributed it among the
      local Left circles. I can take the name of Ali Baksh Talpur, who has
      now passed away, who was the one to bring this magazine to the
      attention of Sher Mohammad Marri (whom we called as “Babu” while
      the others remember him as General Sheroff) and Nawab Khair Baksh Marri.
      [. . .]

      o o o


      From: http://www.beenasarwar.wordpress.com Also see IPS Q&A - http://
      tinyurl.com/yhuu2d7 - Also see footnote below (refers to a skit by
      Shoaib Hashmi)

      Beena Sarwar interviews Veena Masud, Pakistan Women's Swimming

      KARACHI, Oct 29 (IPS) - Karachi-based, Trinidad-born and educated
      Veena Masud is a school principal who wants to see Pakistani women
      shine in the international sports arena.

      Honorary Secretary of the Pakistan Women's Swimming Association,
      president of the Sindh Women's Swimming Association, and executive
      committee member of the Pakistan Olympic Association, she has cheered
      Pakistani swimmers as they returned to the Olympics after 40 years.

      In 2004, Rubab Raza was just 13 when she won a wild card entry to
      Athens along with a male swimmer (Mumtaz Ahmed). She was the first
      female swimmer to represent Pakistan at the Olympics. Four years
      later at the Beijing Olympics, Kiran Khan - another wild card
      entrant, from Lahore - swam for her country.

      Pakistani female swimmers are making a splash despite the hurdles,
      which include "little government support" and social conservatism,
      Masud tells IPS. Excerpts from an interview.

      IPS: Last weekend, after schools countrywide were closed following
      the suicide bombing at the Islamic University in Islamabad (Oct. 20)
      there was a major swimming competition in Karachi. How does the
      ongoing violence affect sport?

      VEENA MASUD: Yes, that was the 18th Sindh Women's Swimming
      Championship organised by the Karachi Women's Swimming Association.
      The club where the event was being held told us categorically to
      cancel. But our sponsor said it's up to us. We decided to go ahead.
      We are not afraid, we refuse to be held to ransom by this terrorism.

      The club management then said if we could arrange our own security,
      we could go ahead. We had a massive turnout - 280 swimmers
      representing 22 institutions. They bettered 30 provincial records.
      See, 90 percent of Pakistanis want to go forward, get on with our
      lives. We can't allow this (disruption) to happen.

      IPS: You were born and educated in the West Indies. How did you come
      to Pakistan?

      VM: I came back to my roots - my grandfather (in Trinidad) told me
      that one of my forefathers was from Sindh; he went on a ship to the
      West Indies as indentured labour.

      My husband (a Pakistani) and I were in London when our son was born
      in 1979. We moved back to Pakistan because we wanted to bring him up
      here. I love it; the culture is so rich, and there is so much to offer.

      IPS: You are not a swimmer, how did you get involved?

      A. You don't have to be a swimmer to be a coach, or a technical
      official. I coached my son (Kamal Salman Masud, now 30) in swimming.
      Until then, the army, navy and air force swimmers won all the
      competitions. My son set several national records. We'd be at the
      pool and his (girl) friends wanted to swim competitively too. That's
      how it started.

      Four of us (mothers) started the Karachi Women's Swimming Association
      in 1991, mindful of the confines of Islamic culture. We had great
      difficulty getting sponsors for the First Sindh Women's Swimming
      Championship - but 75 girl swimmers competed, representing local
      clubs and schools.

      In 1994, the then Benazir Bhutto government agreed to host the Second
      Islamic Women's Solidarity Games. Iran, the initiators of these
      games, insisted that swimming be included. The Pakistan Sports Board
      (PSB) and the Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF) asked us to form the
      Pakistan Women's Swimming Association.

      The games went back to Iran when Pakistan couldn't conform to
      standards but we encouraged the formation of women's swimming
      associations. Sindh and Punjab (provinces) did that.

      Before long women swimmers from the Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Army,
      Wapda (Water and Power Development Authority) and NWFP (North West
      Frontier Province) began participating. The Balochistan Women's
      Swimming Association was recently formed.

      Now, we have over 300 swimmers from 30 schools and clubs around the

      IPS: How have Pakistan's women swimmers fared internationally?

      VM: They're improving all the time. Now a lot of our swimmers are
      doing 'American A' timings (coached by my daughter-in-law Melanie
      Masud, herself an 'American A' swimmer). They're very tenacious and
      they have their parents' support.

      Fourteen of our swimmers at the Fourth Islamic Women's Games (Tehran,
      September 2005), won 10 of Pakistan's 19 medals. They came second in
      the swimming events and seventh among the 45 participating countries.

      The introduction of the longer "fast-skin" swimming costumes made it
      possible for our girl swimmers to participate in international
      competitions. For the first time, Pakistan sent two women swimmers
      (Sana Wahid and Kiran Khan) to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester,
      July 2001.

      When we convinced the Pakistan government to include women's swimming
      in the 9th SAF (South Asian Federation) Games in Islamabad 2004, our
      girls took 14 medals, competing in the open arena on home ground for
      the first time.

      Our swimmers returned to the Olympics after 40 years in 2004.

      IPS: What about technical officials?

      VM: This was initially one of our biggest drawbacks, not having any
      female technical officials. We have now trained up to 60 female
      technical officials to international standards and they are lauded
      everywhere. I'm really proud of our female technical officials.

      Pakistan is the only South Asian country to have two female technical
      officials on the Asian list, and one on the international list.

      All over the world women get the rough end of the stick, but we have
      four women out of 10 members in the Pakistan Olympic Association
      (POA). I was in fact the first woman inducted into the POA when the
      International Olympic Committee in 1992 stipulated that all national
      committees must have women.

      IPS: What hurdles do Pakistan's women swimmers face?

      VM: First of all, there is little government support or funding.
      Also, swimming is still an elite sport for women, because you have to
      be a member of a private club to participate.

      We need to push for the government to build infrastructure for
      swimming all over the country and take women's swimming to the
      corners of Pakistan, so that Pakistani women have the opportunity to
      be at par with women all over the world. Then there's the
      conservative mindset - many people don't want their daughters
      participating in sports, or in public events.

      Still, I believe that being determined and strong and tenacious will
      in the end bring you medals. (END/2009)

      FOOTNOTE: Against All Odds

      Contrary to popular perception women's sports were never banned in
      the country – but attempts were certainly made to sweep them out of
      sight. The worst days were undoubtedly the `Zia years' – 1977-88,
      when the then military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq tried to push women
      out of the public gaze in a bid to strengthen his `Islamic' credentials.

      "We used to wear shorts," recalls a former sprinter, "but under Zia
      we had to adhere to a more restrictive dress code."

      Pakistani sportswomen are up against all kinds of hurdles, but they
      refuse to give up.

      Popular satirist Shoaib Hashmi highlighted this in a theatre skit
      which has him interviewing 'Captain Samina' (Ahmed) of Pakistan's
      women's hockey team. "Yes, we've had problems," she tells him. "First
      they told us we can't play wearing shorts, so we switched to track

      The dress code changed from track pants to shalwar kurta (long tunic
      over baggy trousers), "but they said that was un-Islamic too. So then
      we had to wear burqas (top to toe covering). We even agreed to that
      but then they said that people will still know that there are women
      under the burqas."

      "So then what did you do?" asks Hashmi.

      "Oh now we are sure to win," says the `captain, "because under each
      burqa is (she rattles off the names of the male hockey team)."

      "Women in sports have continued to flourish in their own limited
      circuit in spite of the constraints, quite poor training facilities
      and a lack of substantial financial support," notes prominent sports
      journalist Gul Hameed Bhatti.

      "When Rubab (Raza) went to Athens in 2004, she revealed that she
      hardly got an equivalent of 30 dollars per month from the Pakistan
      Swimming Federation. She couldn't engage the services of a foreign
      coach to train her for the Olympics but her parents were very
      supportive and took on almost the entire financial burden of getting
      her ready for the big event."

      Women participate in various sports all over the country - cricket,
      hockey, track, swimming, football - even participating in
      international competitions.

      They face a lack of government support and patronage, and constant
      threats from religious hardliners who disapprove of women being
      visible in any public sphere.

      The disapproval takes the form of public protests - as when Pakistani
      female swimmers first competed at the international level - to
      physical attacks, like the disruption of the mixed-gender mini-
      marathon in the small town of Gujrat in Punjab province in 2004.



      [4] India - Pakistan:

      Dawn, 2 Nov, 2009


      by Jawed Naqvi

      Indian fishermen who are arrested by Pakistani authorities seen in
      confinement, Friday, Feb. 6, 2009 in Karachi, Pakistan. —AP /File

      Pandit Nehru tried hard to persuade Josh Malihabadi not to migrate to
      Pakistan. We have it from various accounts that Josh sahab – who had
      ruled the hearts of millions of Indians, and still does of quite a
      few, as the poet of revolution (shaaer-i-inquilab) – was never at
      ease about his eventual decision to live in Karachi. There are many
      people like Josh who regretted choosing to go to Pakistan, not
      necessarily because they didn’t like their new neighbours but
      because they missed home. One of my grandmothers who died in Karachi
      was among them.

      The tragedy of those from Punjab and Bengal, who had no choice but to
      leave their houses in a hurry or be killed by insane mobs, is even
      more heart wrenching. There is hardly a Punjabi home on either side
      of the border that didn’t experience the searing tragedy of the
      partition. Dharam Vir was my hostel warden at Jawaharlal Nehru
      University in the 1970s. His mother Devika Rani was 45 when the
      family migrated from Girot, a once idyllic village in Jhelum in 1947.
      She spoke only Punjabi of a certain dialect though she could
      understand Urdu and a bit of Hindi. It was not always easy for me to
      understand everything she said.

      Yet I could never not be totally riveted to Devika Rani’s wizened
      old face, often imagining that the creases on her face contained
      countless unwritten chapters of history like the grooves of a
      gramophone record hold myriad sounds and music. Her words still ring
      in my ears to a query on partition: ‘Tenu ki dassan, puttar. Tarikh
      vich raj badalde si, raja badalda si. Ae ki raj badlya ke prajaa hi
      badal diti?’ (Son, history witnessed countless changes of kingdoms
      resulting in the change of kings. What kind of kingdom have we
      created, in which the people were changed?)

      Do a headcount and you would very easily find a few million Indians,
      Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who cannot hold back their tears at
      Devika Rani’s Brechtian fulminations on the partition. Now suppose
      Devika Rani (though she is no more) wanted to go back to her
      childhood home in Jhelum to spend the last few days of her life in
      what was once her very own land. There must be many Muslim Devika
      Ranis living in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Let’s suppose they too
      wanted to go across the borders to spend their remaining life in the
      environs from where they were rudely uprooted.

      I would have thought that a scheme unveiled by the government of
      India in 2005 to allow people of Indian origin, popularly known as
      PIOs, to have dual citizenship should first and foremost apply to
      those who lived in the neighbourhood – in Pakistan, Bangladesh,
      Nepal and Sri Lanka. But the Indian cabinet in its wisdom decided to
      exclude Pakistanis and Bangladeshis from the purview of an otherwise
      sound idea. I think someone should ask India’s Supreme Court as to
      why the decision to exclude Bangladeshis and Pakistanis should not be
      considered communal, if also petty.This is not to say that every
      Pakistani or Bangladeshi is waiting with bated breath to be given an
      Indian passport. Far from it. On the contrary, a very large number of
      Pakistanis would probably frown at the idea of diluting their
      national pride by swearing allegiance to the Indian constitution, for
      that is what dual citizenship implies – it involves dual or multiple
      allegiances as the situation may require. As far as I am aware
      Pakistanis have a dual citizenship arrangement only with a handful of
      European countries. Indians will probably play on a wider canvass

      But consider this. In a footnote in Gunnar Myrdal’s Asian Drama,
      Jawaharlal Nehru is quoted as saying that though he favoured some
      kind of a loose confederation with Pakistan, he felt discouraged to
      press it because of fears in Pakistan that India would swallow up its
      neighbour. From Ram Manohar Lohia to Lal Kishan Advani Indian
      politician of every hue has spoken about a federation or a
      confederation with Pakistan, often also with all the South Asian
      countries. Many NGOs have allocated budgets to study the negative and
      positive consequences of a Saarc federation. Is this the mindset that
      will get us there?

      So what is the basis for singling out Pakistanis and Bangladeshis as
      ineligible for India’s dual membership move? The catchall word
      ‘security’ comes to mind. Perhaps the Indian cabinet considered
      inputs from its intelligence units to come to the conclusion that in
      this era of war on terror, euphemism for insidious whisper campaign
      against Muslims the world over, it would not be prudent to grant a
      passport with unrestricted travel privileges to citizens of those
      countries that are regarded as the epicentre of trouble. This is a
      patently false premise to draw an unwarranted distinction about those
      who are eligible and those that are not.

      After all the ultimate decision to grant a passport, as is the case
      with visas, rests with an issuing government, and so it is with
      India. The Indian government, if it so chooses, can find a hundred
      legitimate or spurious reasons not to grant the facility to anyone it
      doesn’t like. In fact, it is a familiar phenomenon that many
      Indians – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, or Christians – have to bribe lower
      division officials to get a passport or a government certificate.
      Clearly the government can stall access to passports by this or other
      forms of deterrence. Moreover, it could apply greater rigour or vigil
      in the case of its two neighbours.

      In fact, that’s all the more reason why the principle behind the
      current stance seems to be questionable. If the government has its
      own filters to allow and disallow citizens or PIOs to get a passport
      or a dual citizenship then why the fear of the wrong people –
      let’s call them subversive people – being given the status? On the
      other hand, by making the overture to all people of Indian origin –
      regardless of their religion or the bitter history of partition –
      the Indian government would have taken a high moral ground on a core
      issue of immense emotive appeal. This is something I suspect the
      Quaid-i-Azam may have had in mind when he held out of hopes of
      visiting his home in Mumbai after the creation of Pakistan.

      The assumption behind my plaint is that it is not an easy quest at
      all. To begin with anti-India hardliners in the Pakistani government
      would throw such a proposal out of the window. After all dual
      citizenship involves the consent of two sides. My guess is that such
      hardliners would not be in favour of even a Saarc-based initiative to
      confederate. The familiar fear of the big brother together with
      regional and geo-political stakes would need to be negotiated for any
      baby steps in this direction. Be that as it may, had India not acted
      small, it would have won a moral victory. Imagine a gathering lobby
      of friends of India in Pakistan pressing their government to agree to
      a dual citizenship with its biggest bete noire.

      These are not outlandish ideas. Let me cite the precedence of Sajjad
      Zaheer, who was jailed by the British and later by Pakistan as a
      communist subversive. Why did Nehru allow him to return to India in
      1955, a privilege denied today to the less ‘connected’ in
      Pakistan? Men and women like Salamat Ali and Fahmida Riaz were given
      asylum for years in India when they came here to escape Gen Zia ul
      Haq’s bigoted dictatorship. These are good precedences that need to
      be further built upon.

      There was a very moving Shyam Benegal movie on the subject of
      partition – Mammo. It is a nickname given to Mehmooda Begum by her
      sisters. She marries a man from Lahore. After partition, she and her
      husband automatically become Pakistan citizens. Although childless,
      her marriage is a happy one until her husband’s death. Over property
      matters, Mammo is thrown out of the house by her relatives. She comes
      to India to stay with her only kin, her two sisters. Unable to extend
      her visa, she has to go back – political priorities defeat
      humanitarian ones. Devika Rani would have embraced Mammo for she had
      a big heart – big enough to live with the angst of an absurd reality
      that robbed her of her small perch on earth. The Indian government
      can learn a lesson or two from her. So should politicians and the
      NGOs clamouring for durable peace in South Asia.


      [5] India: Impunity, Lack of Justice & Eroding Human Rights:

      Mail Today, November 1, 2009


      THE Supreme Court’s rejection of the petition seeking a judicial
      inquiry into the Batla House encounter of last year is an abdication
      of its responsibility to ensure justice for victims of the Indian
      state’s excesses. The remarks attributed to the court on Friday
      sound more like a government agency speaking than an independent
      institution that is the last refuge of citizens to obtain redress of
      their grievances. One of the grounds it has cited to rule out a
      judicial inquiry into the encounter is that it would affect the
      morale of the law enforcement agencies.

      This is nothing short of ridiculous.

      That the apex court in our democracy takes upon itself the duty of
      keeping up the spirits of armed personnel is surely news to us.

      On being told that sections of a community believed that the
      encounter was a fake one, the court admonished the petitioner’s
      counsel to not identify ‘ criminals’ with sections of people. By
      determining that they were ‘ criminals’ even before their trial,
      the court seems to have overlooked the fact that whether they were so
      was one of the basic questions raised by the petitioners. Also, by
      citing the National Human Rights Commission’s clean chit to the
      police, the court has made light of the fact that the NHRC did not
      even care to visit the site of the encounter and talk to the affected
      people before it came up with its verdict. It only relied on the
      police’s version of events.

      The contradictions in the police theory are too well known to need
      iteration. The injuries on the bodies of the slain men were
      inconsistent with their story. How two ‘ terrorists’ escaped from
      the apartment that was surrounded by cops on all sides was never
      explained. The postmortem reports are yet to be made public.

      Besides, the petitioners were only seeking a probe, not punishment
      for the police. If the police have nothing to hide, then a judicial
      probe would have only refurbished their credentials.

      By turning down the plea, the court has also not cared for the dictum
      that justice must not only be done but appear to be done. In the
      Jamia Nagar locality where the encounter took place, most residents
      believe that the police carried out an extra- judicial killing, as
      they are known to do elsewhere in the country as well.


      o o o


      Anita Aikara (DNA, Sunday, November 1, 2009)

      Mumbai: "The Indian state police are cold blooded murderers," said
      Himanshu Kumar, Gandhian and social activist from Dantewada in
      Chhattisgarh, "Jis din police ki banduk garib ke haat mein khadi
      hogi, naxalities khatam hogi," he added.

      Himanshu Kumar and Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj were in Mumbai on
      Saturday to discuss the plight of adivasis in Chhattisgarh. Earlier
      in May, Kumar's Vanvasi Chetna Ashram was demolished by the
      Chhattisgarh government.

      Holding his social activism responsible for the demolishment, the
      activist took digs at the Home Minister and the local cops, "Not a
      single leader has visited us in the last five years. PC Chidambaram
      says that he wants peace in these areas. But I don't think it is
      peace that the people want. They want justice which isn't being
      delivered to them. Where there is injustice there can't be peace. Why
      are they sending forces to Bastar? Did the villagers ask for help or
      did the naxalites harass people in Delhi? I pity the armed forces
      that will be killed fighting for the corporates rather than poor
      innocent people."

      Kumar has been actively involved in the Dantewada region of
      Chhattisgarh, added that he was made a victim of indifference too,
      "When I was trying to rehabilitate people who have been displaced by
      the government's anti-Naxalite movement, Salwa Judum- my ashram was
      demolished". Bharadwaj added, "In Jharkhand corporates are eyeing the
      land owned by the poor adivasis. The war is not against naxalites, it
      is against the poor adivasis. Bauxite, diamond, uranium, iron ore are
      found in Bastar and that is what the corporates want."Speaking of the
      indifference shown by the government, Kumar added, "Why doesn't the
      PM ask the villagers the reason behind their turning towards violence?"

      When asked what he thought of Kobad Gandhy's arrest, Kumar quickly
      responded, "I don't know the person, so I can't comment about him."
      As for the weapons carried by naxalites, Kumar alleged that most of
      the weapons were stolen from the local police, "Though at times the
      naxals also purchase weapons from the police. It is said that during
      encounters the cops hide the bullets and later sell them to the

      o o o


      o o o

      by Monobina Gupta (The Times of India, 1 November 2009)

      o o o


      o o o

      Outlook Magazine
      9 November 2009

      Mr Chidambaram’s War

      by Arundhati Roy

      The low, flat-topped hills of south Orissa have been home to the
      Dongria Kondh long before there was a country called India or a state
      called Orissa. The hills watched over the Kondh. The Kondh watched
      over the hills and worshipped them as living deities. Now these hills
      have been sold for the bauxite they contain. For the Kondh it’s as
      though god has been sold. They ask how much god would go for if the
      god were Ram or Allah or Jesus Christ?

      Perhaps the Kondh are supposed to be grateful that their Niyamgiri
      hill, home to their Niyam Raja, God of Universal Law, has been sold
      to a company with a name like Vedanta (the branch of Hindu philosophy
      that teaches the Ultimate Nature of Knowledge). It’s one of the
      biggest mining corporations in the world and is owned by Anil
      Aggarwal, the Indian billionaire who lives in London in a mansion
      that once belonged to the Shah of Iran. Vedanta is only one of the
      many multinational corporations closing in on Orissa.

      If the flat-topped hills are destroyed, the forests that clothe them
      will be destroyed too. So will the rivers and streams that flow out
      of them and irrigate the plains below. So will the Dongria Kondh. So
      will the hundreds of thousands of tribal people who live in the
      forested heart of India, and whose homeland is similarly under attack.

      In our smoky, crowded cities, some people say, “So what? Someone has
      to pay the price of progress.” Some even say, “Let’s face it,
      these are people whose time has come. Look at any developed country,
      Europe, the US, Australia—they all have a ‘past’.” Indeed they
      do. So why shouldn’t “we”?
      [. . .]
      FULL TEXT AT: http://www.sacw.net/article1198.html

      o o o

      27 October, 2009

      Press Statement

      There has been a spate of growing murder and violence in certain
      areas of Andhra, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal
      by armed persons acting on behalf of “CPI (Maoist)”. We strongly
      feel that their use of the name of Mao Zedong, a widely respected
      figure, while carrying out the acts of carnage and killing, is
      reprehensible. Such acts can also in no way be justified in the name
      of a war against the state. While every conscious citizen opposes
      acts of oppressions committed by members of the exploiting classes or
      individuals in the state apparatus, the so-called “Maoists” by
      their violent acts of vendetta, torture and gruesome killings are
      gravely damaging the cause of the popular democratic movement. The
      “Maoists” are thus in fact working against the interests of the
      workers and peasants.
      In order to isolate the “maoists” politically, it is however
      important that the Indian state do all that is necessary to restore
      its presence and credibility in tribal areas whose interests it has
      largely been ignoring. The Central government should review its neo-
      liberal policies that have pauperised the tribal people and help the
      state governments to meet their developmental challenges in these
      areas. Counter insurgency vigilante groups (such as Salwa Judum) have
      proved to be counter productive. Harassment and killing of innocent
      local people should be avoided while tackling the violence. and those
      responsible for such acts in the name of the fighting the "maoists"
      should be punished. A genuine dialogue should be started with those
      "maoists" who are ready to give up the path of armed struggle.

      Endorsed By:
      Irfan Habib,Teesta Setalvad,Vijay Prashad, Utsa Patnaik, Amiya Kumar
      Bagchi, M.K. Raina, Najaf Hyder, Badri Raina, Shireen Moosvi, Jayati
      Ghosh, Iqtadar Alam Khan, Sohail Hashmi, Archana Prasad, Amar
      Farooqui, Ayesha Kidwai, Simi Malhotra, Nadim Rizavi, Sonya Surabhi
      Gupta, Lata Singh, Atlury Murali, Biswamoy Pati, Madhu Prasad, D. N.
      Jha, P. K. Shukla, Arjun Dev, Suvira Jaiswal, H. C. Satyarthi,
      Kesavan Veluthath, V. Ramakrishna, N. R.Rana, N. K. Sharma, Prabhat
      Patnaik, Arun Bandopadhaya, Rajendra Prasad ( contact-26691162)

      o o o

      by Manoranjan Mohanty

      o o o

      India - Madhya Pradesh: A Social Movement for people's Rights under

      (i) Narmada Bachao Andolan Press Note / 3rd November 2009


      The administration continues to harass the peasants and adivasis of
      Narmada valley struggling for their just rights and implementation of
      court orders and the rule of law in the state. The police is
      discovering and adding newer cases everyday to intimidate the
      displaced people and undermine their demand of implementation of the
      orders of the Hon’ble High Court. On the other hand, there has been
      widespread condemnation of the highhanded and unlawful attitude of
      the state government.

      Today, suddenly, the police has filed a new case under Section 333
      IPC. This discovering of charges and adding them piece-meal is
      hampering the rule of law in the state. It is also violating the
      constitutional and democratic right of the people and in consequence
      diminishes people’s faith in democratic processes. The andolan is
      determined to fight against this attitude of the government.

      Repressing the andolan is a violation of the court

      A delegation of about 50 local intelligentsia and supporters of
      Narmada Bachao Andolan collected in Indore today and met the
      Commissioner to condemn the atrocities of the Khandwa district
      administration on the andolan activists. They reminded the
      Commissioner that the acts of the district administration was
      unlawful and was depriving the displaced people of their rights that
      have been upheld by the court. The delegation comprised of senior
      educationist Prof. R.D. Prasad, literary scholar Shri Saroj Kumar,
      cultural activist Shri Chinmay Mishra, Shri Amulya Nidhi of Sanskriti
      Kendra, Shri Rakesh Chandore of Jhuggi Basti Sangharsh Morcha and

      In Badwani, activists and villagers associated with the Jagrit Dalit
      Adivasi Sangathan met the Badwani Collector today, to send a protest
      letter to the Chief Minister and extend support to the Narmada Bachao

      In Harda, the Samajwadi Jan Parishad and Kranti Hammal Union
      organized a dharna at Narayan Talkies Square and submitted a
      memorandum for the Chief Minister to the district Collector that
      condemned the acts of the Khandwa district administration. Shri Sunil
      of Samajwadi Jan Parishad said that arresting and jailing the
      activists who were trying to ensure implementation of court orders is
      a case of contempt of the court.

      In Bhopal, members of Janpahal group Ms Sarika Sinha, Ms Sushma and
      Shri Deepak Bhatt met with the State Human Rights Commission and
      presented fresh evidence of human rights violation and repression by
      the state to the commission. The SHRC took cognizance of the gravity
      of the state’s acts and ensured prompt action after they receive the
      report called from the district administration on Wednesday.

      In Durg, Chhattisgarh a torch rally is being organized today by
      Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha in support of the andolan and in protest of
      the unlawful detention of NBA activists and continued harassment of
      the displaced people.

      Yesterday, on Nov 2nd, a road meeting and candle light vigil was
      organized in Bhopal by Yuva Samvad and MP Mahila Manch in solidarity
      with Irom Sharmila for her struggle against the draconian Armed
      Forces Special Powers Act and the Narmada Bachao Andolan for their
      non-violent struggle for the rights of the displaced. Members of the
      two groups condemned the repression and violence that the state is
      unleashing on all democratic peoples movements. They raised slogans
      against the recent lathi charge on the ten thousands protesters of
      the Narmada valley and the jailing of its activists and termed it a
      matter of grave concern and shame that the government that is
      supposed to work for the rights of the people is crushing their
      peaceful protests while they fight for their rights. They said that
      while Sharmila has become a symbol of protest against states excess,
      the people of the Narmada valley have by their prolonged non-violent
      struggle against biased model of development, brought the issue of
      displacement to the forefront. It is very disturbing that the state
      of madhya pradesh has been using brutal force and false cases to
      crush such movements. They demanded that the government take
      accountability for this crime and release the imprisoned activists
      and also comply with the courts order and give people their rights.

      (Kailash Chauhan) (Ashish
      Mandloi) (Gajraj Singh)

      (ii) Narmada Bachao Andolan Action Alert:

      Press Release
      30th October 2009




      Following the demonstration by over ten thousand men and women
      affected by the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams on the 28th of
      October 2009 in Khandwa, Khandwa police in an unprecedented action
      has arrested all the key activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan from
      their offices and the dharna site, in front of the Khandwa
      Collectorate. From 29th October more than a thousand adivasis had
      been protesting infront of the Khandwa Collectorate, since the MP
      government refused to live up to the Jabalpur High Court order of
      giving 5 acres of land to elder son of each of the oustees.

      On 29th evening Chttaroopa Palit and 18 other activists were arrested
      and today without any provocation police came in large numbers and
      locked NBA’s office alleging anti-state activities. They arrested
      five of the activists, including Alok Agarwal, present at the office
      around 5:15 pm and then locked the office. After some time five
      police people came and without any search warrant and copied files
      from the computer and taken some files from the office.

      After some protest they have released 4 people but kept Alok Agarwal
      in custody though have not explained the charges under which he has
      been kept in custody.

      It is a clear case of violation of the rights of the activists and
      also an attempt at breaking the peaceful protest by police action.
      Yesterday they had lathi charged the protesters but even then the
      protest had continued, innervating the district administration. This
      is a clear cut attempt at breaking the morale of the thousands of
      protesting famers, adivasis and workers.

      NBA unequivocally condemns this action and also demands that the
      activists be released unconditionally and action been taken against
      the responsible police officers.

      Phone / Fax / email letters of protesting police action on peacefully
      protesting people affected from Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar,
      Upper Beda and Maan dams. Also write letters to Chief Minister and
      Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Government asking them to release
      activists immediately, unseal NBA office, live up to High Court order
      and take action against the police officers responsible for this high
      handedness and unlawful action.

      Prime Minster :

      Shri Manmohan Singh
      Room No. 148 B, South Ablock, New Delhi
      Office Nos : 91-11-23012312 Fax : 230116857
      Residence : 91-11-23011166, 23018939. Fax : 23015603
      Email : manmohan@... |

      Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
      Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan
      Off – Phone : 91-755- 2441581, 2441033, 2441096, Fax: 91-755-2441781
      Res – Phone : 91-755-2440241, 2440242 Fax : 91-755-2540501
      email : cm@...

      MP Government, Chief Secretary
      Shri Rakesh Sahni
      Off Phone : 91-755-2441848. Fax 2441751
      Email : cs@...

      Khandwa Collectorate :
      91-733-2224153, 2223333
      Email : dm@...

      Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India
      Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230
      74448, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@...

      Ramkuwar Rawat, Sangita, Kailash Chouhan, Rahmat, Kalu and others
      Narmada Bachao Andolan
      2, Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk,
      Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh.
      Telefax : 0733 - 2228418/2270014
      E-mail : nbakhandwa@... <mailto:nbakhandwa@...>


      [7] India: Resources For Secular Activists



      by Beena Sarwar
      [I wrote this essay for Nukta Art in September, for its November
      issue which has just been published]

      The campaign against the iconic Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain,
      perhaps the most prominent living symbol of art under attack, is part
      of the political fight for India’s soul – secular democracy versus
      a ‘Hindu’ state.

      Full text at: http://tt.ly/3n

      o o o


      The Times of India
      30 October 2009

      Anubha Sawhney Joshi & Himanshi Dhawan

      MUMBAI/DELHI: The government might be finally moving to make things
      easier for India's renowned painter M F Husain to return to his homeland
      M F Husain
      after four years of exile, but the 94-year-old artist is hardly
      impressed. Nor is he taking seriously the home ministry's efforts to
      club three pending cases against him so as to ensure their speedy

      ``What are they talking about?'' asked Husain in a telephonic
      conversation with TOI from Dubai. ``The India Art Summit held in
      August this year did not feature a single work by me. The reason
      given was that they could not afford to take the `risk'. How will
      they protect me if they cannot protect my work? How can I trust
      them?'' (Read full interview in TOI-Crest this Saturday.)

      The artist feels that it's not just a question of legal cases against
      him. That did not force him to leave India. What caused his exile
      were the threats of physical harm to him by saffron groups. He
      wondered what would happen to him if he actually returned. ``They
      can, of course, promise me a bullet-proof car and the works. But,
      then, did Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi have any less security?''

      On its part, the home ministry plans to approach the Supreme Court
      and request it club the three cases pending in Delhi, Gujarat and
      Maharashtra ^ and move for their early disposal. Said Husain's lawyer
      Akhil Sibal: ``Any positive step by the government is welcome. But we
      would also like to see a clear message that the government would do
      everything within the law to prevent his harassment.''

      Husain said his case was not unique: ``From Galileo to Pablo Neruda,
      creativity has been exiled many times. I am not the first one.''
      Still, the artist said he was deeply hurt by the way ``a few'' have
      treated him. ``It's a tremendous hurt. I'm Indian. Why should I beg
      these people to call me back to my country?''

      o o o



      by Charu Gupta (Mail Today, November 1, 2009)

      THE Hindu Right seems to have found a new agenda to arouse passions
      through the alleged ‘love jihad’ movement, supposed to have been
      launched by Muslim fundamentalists, to convert Hindu and Christian
      women through trickery. It is ironical that there is an uncanny
      resemblance of the issue and its language with similar ‘abduction’
      and conversion campaigns launched by Arya Samaj and other Hindu
      revivalist bodies in the 1920s in north India, to draw sharper lines
      between Hindus and Muslims. Seen through the prism of a historical
      perspective, the dichotomy and falseness of the allegations of the
      Hindu Right appear more starkly.

      In the 1920s, militant Hindu assertion reached new heights. There
      were unprecedented communal clashes in UP. What is significant in the
      present context is that in this period the Hindu woman’s body became
      a marker to sharpen communal boundaries in ways more aggressive than
      before. The period witnessed a flurry of orchestrated propaganda
      campaigns and popular inflammatory and demagogic appeals by a section
      of Hindu publicists and Arya Samaj against ‘ abductions’ and
      conversions of Hindu women by Muslim goondas, ranging from
      allegations of rape, abduction and elopement, to luring, conversion,
      love, and forced marriages.

      Drawing on diverse sources like newspapers, pamphlets, meetings,
      handbills, posters, novels, myths, rumours and gossip, the campaign
      was able to operate in a public domain, and to monopolise the field
      of everyday representation. Tracts with provocative titles appeared.
      One was called Hindu Auraton ki Loot , which denounced Muslim
      propaganda for proselytising female preys.


      Yet another was named Hindu Striyon ki Loot ke Karan , which was an
      Arya Samajist tract, showing how to save ‘ our’ ladies from
      becoming Muslim. The converted woman was a potential site of outrage
      of family order and religious sentiment.

      In the unfolding of the tales in the 1920s and in 2009, there are
      certain common strains. I will highlight just a few. In both
      campaigns, one of the arguments given by Hindu groups has been that
      the conversions of Hindu women are linked with enhancing Muslim
      numbers. A tract, published in 1924 from Kanpur and titled Humara
      Bhishan Haas dwelt on the catastrophic decline of Hindus due to
      increasing conversions of Hindu women to Islam.

      It claimed that a number of Aryan women were entering the homes of
      yavanas and mlecchas ( terms used for Muslims in such writings),
      reading nikah with them, producing gaubhakshak children, and
      increasing Muslim numbers. Pro- Hindu organisations in 2009 too have
      claimed that forced conversions of Hindu women in the name of love
      are part of an international conspiracy to increase the Muslim

      The issues at stake here are not only to construct a picture of
      numerical Muslim increase but also to lament the supposed decline in
      Hindu numbers and mourn the potential loss of child- bearing Hindu

      Both the campaigns construct an image of the Muslim male as
      aggressive, and broadcast a series of repetitive motifs, creating a
      common ‘ enemy’ Other. Whether it is 1920 or 2009, images of
      passive victimised Hindu women at the hands of inscrutable Muslims
      abound, and any possibility of them exercising their legitimate right
      to love and to choice is ignored. In June 1924 in Meerut, handbills
      and meetings claimed that various Hindu women were being lured and
      their pure body being violated by lustful and sexually charged Muslim

      The present campaign too, while focussing its anger on the Muslims,
      receives its emotional bonding from the victim. It is impossible for
      Hindu groups to conceive that Hindu women can voluntarily elope or

      Thus every romance, love, elopement and marriage between a Hindu
      woman and a Muslim man is rewritten by Hindu organisations as
      forcible conversion.

      It is also assumed that the mere act of marrying and staying with a
      Muslim ensures that the woman is leading an unhappy and dreadful life.

      Behind it are also anxieties about possible relations between Hindu
      women and Muslim men. The fears of elopements and conversions by some
      Hindu women show the need felt not so much to protect, but to
      discipline them.

      Often there are not just particular cases; there is a ready move from
      the particular to the general. Reckless generalisations are made,
      with rumours adding spice. A pamphlet released by the Akhil Bhartiya
      Vidyarthi Parishad during the present campaign, and distributed in
      Jawaharlal Nehru University, claims that 4000 girls have been
      converted till now. Another pamphlet distributed by the Hindu
      Janjagruthi Samiti, Karnataka states the number to be 30,000 within a
      year! The concrete examples given in both cases have often been
      imagined, and there is sometimes evidence to prove the depth of
      fallacy involved.

      For example, in April 1927, Hindus spread a rumour in Muzaffarnagar
      that a Hindu girl had been forcibly converted to Islam and was being
      married to a Muhammadan.


      They proceeded in crowds to inspect the alleged pervert and found
      that the girl had always been a Muslim.

      At Kanpur in 1939, a Hindu youth accused Muslim volunteers of
      kidnapping Hindu women. This led to a search of the Muslim League
      office, which yielded no trace of them. And in June 2009, when Anitha
      of Bantwal taluk in Karnataka went missing, several Sangh Parivar
      organisations claimed that she was forcibly converted to Islam by a
      Pakistan- backed, professional ‘ jihadist lover’ and a protest
      meeting was held on 4 October.

      However, on 21 October 2009, a serial killer, Mohan Kumar, was
      arrested, who confessed that he had poisoned Anitha to death.

      It appears that communication, more than direct experience, has
      created such ideologies of abductions and conversions.
      Representati<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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